posted on 20-Mar-2002 2:04:01 AM by Destinee
Author: Destinee (smylee⊕playful.com)
Rating: PG-13
Category: M/L, a little Mi/Ma, and a strong focus on Michael
Disclaimer: The characters in this story don't belong to me, but to M. Metz, J. Katims, UPN and Fox. I'm only gently leading them where I'd like them to go. No infringement intended, scouts honor.

Summary: This story begins with the scene in MITC when Liz does her astral projection thing. It follows along with everything in the show up to that point, and goes on to explore Liz's powers, and to resolve the obstacles in the path of her being together with Max.

Author's Note: Gosh, it seems like it's been forever since I've posted, and I'm so sorry about that. s214 I'm still not anywhere close to where I wanted to be in this part, but since it's been so long, I wanted to go ahead and get up the small part I have written and am relatively satisfied with. I'm sorry if the ending comes too abruptly, but I am working on the next half, and hopefully it won't take me too long to get it worked out.

I have to tell you that I was simply overwhelmed by all the feedback you guys left me on the last part. I was just glad to know people were still reading after all this time, and you all did way more than merely reassure me. I'm sure I didn't deserve such an awesome response after making you wait so long, but I really do thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart. *angel*

Okay, enough blabbing. Let's get on with the show. *big*

Here's a link, if you need a refresher(and after this long, who wouldn't? lol Sorry for that again. s214 )
viewthread?page=1&forum=repost-fan-fiction&id=349





from Chapter 56


“Max! You can’t go out there alone. It’s too dangerous!” she objected.

“I’ll be fine, Liz,” he said dismissively, disregarding any possible danger in his determination to catch this scum bag. “Just stick close to Tess and stay away from the windows,” he instructed while striding quickly across the living room floor.

At the front door, he paused and turned back to them to say soberly, “Lock the door behind me. And remember, your powers are stronger together if you have to use them.”

“What are we gonna do, Max? Mindwarp them to death?” Liz said, her fear for him making her voice sharp. “If our powers are stronger together, then let us come with you.”

“She’s right, Max, we should come,” Tess agreed, all differences forgotten in her worry over him.

“No. You’ll both be safer here,” he insisted. “Look, the longer we stand here arguing about this, the further away he’s getting. Just stay here, okay? Please. I won’t be gone long,” he swore, opening the door without giving them a chance to protest further.

But once the door was pulled open fully, his exit was abruptly terminated by the sudden entrance of Michael from the opposite side, his arms wrapped around the torso and upper arms of a furiously struggling figure. Max was crowded backwards as Michael lurched inside drunkenly with his burden, obviously hard-pressed to contain the squirming captive.

“So! What kind of criminal charges can you press against peeping toms these days?” he asked in triumphant satisfaction, his words breathless from exertion.

It was a good thing he hadn’t really expected an answer to the question, because everyone in the apartment seemed to have been momentarily shocked into silence at this unexpected turn of events. All eyes were focused on the person struggling desperately to be free of Michael’s hold, and at first glance it was hard to tell whether it was a male or a female he held prisoner, dressed as they were in baggy jeans and a bulky over-sized coat. And the way they were bent over his imprisoning arms in their bid to escape completely hid their face from view behind the bill of the dark baseball cap pushed down low on their head.

One thing Liz became sure of in those few brief moments of dumbfounded silence was that although this person was dwarfed by Michael’s large frame, this was definitely not Nicholas. Michael had been right yesterday. This person was a bit bigger than the adolescent Skin.

But never in a million years would she have guessed the true identity of the one who had been watching them all this time, spying on them and, most recently, harassing them terrifyingly. It was revealed to them all with a seeming flourish, as the individual suddenly threw their head back with an animalistic shriek in the midst of a backwards bucking motion against Michael’s chest, and Liz gasped when she realized who it was.

It was a face she had never expected to see again in this lifetime. And though the countenance had changed drastically since the last time she’d seen it, there was no mistaking who it belonged to.

“Topolsky,” Liz breathed in dismay.



Chapter 57

Michael hastily readjusted his hold when Topolsky’s last slippery maneuver threatened to break her free from his grasp, and the sharp grabbing movement finally broke Max from his shocked stupor. He quickly lunged toward the other boy with the intention of catching her, but Michael had already managed to regain control of her without his help.

Nevertheless, Max hovered there at his side with some vague notion of providing back-up, while his mind struggled to wrap itself around the fact that it had been Topolsky who had been watching them these past weeks.

It was a shocker, to say very the least. They’d all thought she had died.

And maybe, in some odd way, she had. Because this was certainly not the Topolsky any of them were familiar with from their earlier encounters with her. She was a far cry from the soft-spoken school guidance counselor who they’d almost discovered too late as an undercover FBI agent last year. In direct contrast, she’d looked like a complete crazy person the last time Max had seen her, when she’d come bursting in on the scene, wild-eyed and frantic, that night he and Liz had been up at Buckley Point over six months ago.

But if she had looked insane then, now she looked to have traveled even further down the path of insanity, and she was hardly someone Max even recognized, so drastic were the changes in her.

There was an over-all look of unkemptness about her that seemed to suggest that her appearance wasn’t anything she bothered with anymore, and she seemed to be only a pale shadow of her former self, in more ways than one. The coat she wore hung on her damply and practically swallowed her whole, making her look almost wraith-like, and Michael’s arms looked like they could’ve easily wrapped around her twice. Her cheeks were gaunt too, further attesting to a marked loss of weight, and their sunken hollowness, along with the pale, sallow cast to her skin, made the dark purple of the circles beneath her eyes stand out in bold relief. And it was hard to tell with her hair jammed up underneath her cap the way it was, but a few escaping strands seemed to indicate that the shining blonde tresses from before were now a dull, nondescript brown.

But above all the details of her physical appearance, it was the behavior she was exhibiting that suggested she might not be in full possession of her right mind. She was acting much the way a trapped animal might, fighting Michael tooth and nail as if her very survival depended on getting free from him, her eyes rolling wildly the entire time. Michael was having a difficult time keeping her contained as she twisted and bucked against him. And since that small screech she’d emitted seconds ago, she was no longer fighting in silence the way she had been when he’d first dragged her in. Now she was shouting invectives in a steady stream. And gone were the dulcet tones that had most likely hidden a deadly purpose when she’d urged Max so long ago to come out from behind the tree. In their place was a hoarse, scratchy croak punctuated by guttural undertones that almost sounded painful leaving her throat. And over and over again she kept shouting the same words. That this was wrong, and she would kill Michael. That she would kill all of them.

But in spite of the words she was saying, there was an underlying note of fear in her cries that prevented them from sounding very threatening.

Max lifted his gaze from the furiously struggling woman up to Michael, a million and one questions crowding his mind. Not the least of which was how Michael had come to be here with their apparent enemy in tow.

Brows furrowed in bemusement, he said somewhat quizzically, “I thought you were at work.”

“I was. But– somebody screwed up the schedule,” Michael grunted out in reply, continuing to wrestle with his hostage. “We ended up with one too many cooks... so I volunteered to go home. I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I needed to get over here and check on you guys,” he said with a glance at Liz, sure that she was where most of his feelings of anxiety had originated from.

Following his gaze, Max looked at her too, thankful for once for the connection that had obviously brought Michael over here at just the right moment.

“I guess it’s a good thing, huh?” Michael asked somewhat rhetorically, his brow arched meaningfully.

“Yeah,” Max replied, in total agreement. Even though he’d been deadly intent on catching this person only a moment ago, he’d known there had been a more than even chance that they would’ve been long gone by the time he’d gotten out there. And Topolsky would’ve been the last person on earth he would’ve thought to go looking for.

“I wouldn’t have even known it was her,” he mused aloud, looking down at the still-struggling woman, who had thankfully fallen silent once again as she squirmed in fierce desperation.

“I didn’t either at first,” Michael admitted, breathing raggedly. Jerking his head back sharply to avoid a blow to his chin from the back of her skull, he sent a brief dark look her way, then continued tersely, ”But I caught her prowlin’ around the neighbor’s hedges when I first drove up, and by the time I could get out of the car and over to see what she was up to, I saw Nicholas appear, and Liz at the window, so I knew I’d caught our watcher,” he concluded with a grim tilt to his mouth.

He left unspoken the fact that he’d actually felt Liz at the window before he’d seen her there. The turmoil that had led him to rush over to the apartment the minute he could get free had seemed to reach out and grab him by the throat when he’d gotten within such close proximity to her. He’d sensed the tense inner conflict that had been going on inside her for some reason. And then only moments later, the wave of her panic when she’d seen Nicholas had positively choked him. Michael had reacted blindly, preparing to blast the threat against her, and almost immediately he’d felt the sharp answering tug of Liz’s powers. Even as his energy was responding to the extra nudge from hers, his mind had been busily processing the fact that Nicholas wasn’t real. Of course, he’d known that before he’d started to fry Nicholas’ alien butt- at least, they’d been relatively sure of it from Liz’s previous encounters- he’d just forgotten it for a few moments in his panic. And apparently so had Liz.

But their watcher had been a different matter altogether. She was only too real, and now she’d been given a face. It might’ve been a huge relief to finally have her identity revealed if the fact that it was Topolsky, live and in person, didn’t have Michael feeling as if they’d somehow been screwed over all those months before regarding her. Whether all of it had been her doing back then or not, he could only feel distrust and enmity towards her. Add to that the anger he felt over these past few weeks, and he had to struggle against holding her so crushingly as to inflict pain while he tried to subdue her writhing form.

Liz had been listening to Michael’s explanation with half an ear while watching this– stranger who resembled Topolsky with a horrified fascination. That their culprit was her, someone they’d assumed dead, just seemed too much to grasp. And what that said about her human status if she’d been the one responsible for the mindwarps made it that much harder to reconcile.

“How?” she asked, shaking her head in consternation. “How could it be Topolsky making us see Nicholas like that? What, are you saying...?” she trailed off, an innate cautiousness making her reluctant to utter any alien terminology, or the big A-word itself, in front of this woman who could still be FBI for all they knew.

But apparently, Michael felt no such compunction. “I’m sayin’ it wasn’t a mindwarp,” he declared abruptly, then to Topolsky as a heave of her body sent them both slightly off-balance, “Enough, alright?! You aren’t goin’ anywhere, so just give it a rest!” he advised roughly.

Topolsky visibly flinched at his hard tone, but although her movements became a little more subdued, she continued to contort her body in an effort to get loose. It was obvious she was tiring though. Her breath was coming in choppy pants now as she struggled against him fitfully.

Watching her, Max felt a faint stirring of pity threatening to pierce the anger that had reclaimed him at the reminder of what this woman had been doing to Liz. But all he had to do was remember the turmoil Liz had been put through these past few days because of these visions, or whatever they’d been, and pity quickly took a back seat.

Jaw taut, he asked Michael, “How do you know they weren’t?

“Mindwarps?” Michael asked in clarification, catching his breath now that Topolsky had become a little more manageable. “Because I saw Nicholas too just now. And she couldn’t have been mindwarping me, ‘cause she didn’t even know I was there,” he pointed out.

“Well if it wasn’t a mindwarp, what was it then?” Tess asked, entering into the conversation for the first time since Michael had come in with his surprising captive. She would’ve been totally in the dark when it came to this Topolsky person if it hadn’t been for the time Nacedo had had to shift into that psychologist in an effort to keep Max and the others safe from Pierce when this woman had shown up here to stir things up. Tess had never actually seen her in person, but she’d helped Nacedo do a little research on her all those months ago to find out exactly who she was. She didn’t look anything like the picture Tess remembered seeing of her then, but oddly, there seemed to be something familiar about her that niggled at the back of her mind.

“I’m not sure what it was,” Michael admitted in reply to Tess’ question. “But whatever it was, she was definitely the one who was doin’ it. She had something in her hand she was messin’ with the whole time I was watchin’ her, but I didn’t get a good look at it.” Tilting his head to look down at Topolsky, he demanded hostilely, “What was it, some kind of high-tech FBI toy or something?”

In answer, Topolsky merely turned her face away from him while jerking against his hold, and Michael gave her a jarring shake in return, her resistance wearing away what little patience he had. “What’ve you been playin’ at, lady?” he demanded harshly. “Has it been gettin’ you off, messin’ with our heads like this?”

Topolsky only renewed her struggles, refusing to reply.

Liz shifted uncomfortably as Michael’s wave of temper seemed to reverberate inside her, making her aware of the wrathful outrage that was simmering within him for the first time since he’d entered the room with his prisoner. An answering mass of emotion was seething along an angry current of energy inside herself, and it wasn’t until that moment that she realized her powers were still charged. Apparently they’d been attuned to Michael’s ever since Nicholas had first appeared, which would explain a lot.

She struggled against the influence his emotions seemed to be exerting over her own energy to try to deactivate and absorb the charged mass, but now that she’d taken notice of it, she was being made acutely conscious of his feelings of ire. She could feel that he was just itching to perform some act of mild violence on the woman he held, and Liz was touched to realize that part of the reason for that was a need for vengeance on her own behalf.

But at the moment, Liz was only interested in getting some answers. More than anything, she just wanted to know why. Vengeance could come later.

“So you think all this has just been– what? Like some kind of- of virtual reality illusion or something?” she asked Michael a little doubtfully.

Scowling at being questioned, Michael answered shortly, “I don’t know what it was, Liz. I only know what I saw. And it looked to me like she was makin’ it happen with some kind of– I don’t know, some- gadget or something.”

Liz shook her head and argued, “Nicholas looked way too real, Michael. There’s no way even our most advanced technology could’ve produced an image like that.”

“Well then maybe we aren’t talking human technology,” Michael returned with sharp impatience. He knew what he’d seen, and while he might not be a scientific marvel like Liz was, he could at least tell whether someone was using alien powers or not, and Topolsky had definitely not been. But she’d managed to produce that image of Nicholas somehow.

“You think it was alien?” Tess asked with a wary look at the former FBI agent.

“You got any other suggestions?” Michael returned belligerently, ending with a grunt when Topolsky once again started struggling in earnest.

Taking Michael unawares, she’d somehow managed to work an arm free of his hold, and she wasted no time in using the small freedom now to jab her elbow backwards into his solar plexus. Michael’s breath escaped with a loud ‘whoosh’ as he doubled over in pain at the sharp impact.

Topolsky took quick advantage, scrambling to get away as his hold on her loosened, and Max again made a quick motion to catch her when it looked as if she might succeed.

But Michael’s hold tightened around her reflexively when he felt her slipping free, the band of his arms forcing her own arms back down against her sides, where he held them tightly.

When she found her escape attempt thwarted, a wailing protest erupted from her throat. “You have to let me go!” she cried in desperation.

His ribs still throbbing from her blow, Michael finally managed to snatch a full breath, and his arms tightened around her punishingly as he said tightly, “We don’t have to do anything, lady! We’re the ones in charge now. And just so you know, you try something like that again, and you are seriously gonna piss me off! And believe me, you do not want that to happen,” he threatened.

Topolsky must have believed him, because she suddenly ceased her struggles and stood rigidly within his grasp, her eyes unfocused and turned toward the floor, while her breath gusted out heavily.

“That’s better,” Michael said in false approval. “Now tell us what you were doing out there. What was that thing you were using? And more importantly, what are you doing back from the dead, and why are you in Roswell playing these sick little games? In case you missed it, we haven’t found them amusing,” he told her caustically.

But if he’d expected that last hoarsely-delivered plea from her lips to lead the way to more vocalizations from her, he was doomed to disappointment, because Topolsky just stood there in total unresponsiveness, her eyes darting shiftily to the side every so often.

“You’re not going anywhere until you tell us what we want to know,” Max put in warningly.

Topolsky didn’t acknowledge him.

His lips thinning, Max exchanged a look of angry frustration with Michael over her head. Judging by the frantic renewal of her struggles at the exact moment Tess had suggested that this device in her possession was alien, Max had to think that it was possible Michael could be onto something with that theory.

“Where is this thing you saw her using?” he asked Michael. “What happened to it?”

“She dropped it when I grabbed her,” Michael answered, sensing that he’d just gained an unlikely ally in his as-of-late friendly rival. “It’s somewhere outside, close to the apartment,” he added.

“You left it there?” Tess asked with mild incredulity.

Bristling, he returned sharply, “I kinda had my hands full at the moment, Tess, okay?”

“We need to get out there and find it,” Max interceded, taking command of the situation. “Before someone else does.”

Tearing his irritated gaze from Tess, Michael nodded in agreement, and added grudgingly, “Before it starts raining again too.” Looking down at the woman he held captive, he asked, “What are we gonna do with her?”

Eyeing the woman coolly, Max replied, “Why don’t you go outside and look for this thing, since you have a better idea where to look. And take Tess with you. Liz and I can stay here and watch Topolsky.”

Michael darted a glance at the two girls, suddenly recalling what he’d interrupted here. Curiously, he wondered how things had been going with all of them, and his gaze halted on Liz to instinctively search for the answer there. But he thought all he could feel from her at that moment was reaction to this newest situation. Judging by the turmoil he’d sensed coming from her when she’d been in his bedroom though, things hadn’t been going all that great. He thought to wonder now what she’d even been doing in his room alone to begin with.

Bringing his gaze back to Max, he nodded in agreement to his plan. “Yeah, okay. Shouldn’t take all that long to find it. It’s not that big an area to search,” he remarked, cautiously sliding his arms away from Topolsky while retaining his hold on her by the upper arms.

The two boys smoothly exchanged custody of her, both keeping a firm grip on her arms during the transaction to ensure that she didn’t get away. But Topolsky didn’t make it an issue, as she docilely let herself change hands.

Max kept a wary eye on her, not trusting her sudden submissiveness after the way she’d been struggling so frenziedly only moments before.

“I think I’ve got some rope somewhere in the rec room if you wanna tie her up or something, “ Michael told him, referring to the room on the back of the apartment where he kept his bike. It was really more of a covered garage area with a concrete floor, but it was too small to actually house a car, even if he’d had one. He used it to tinker around on his bike, and he’d put a ping-pong table and foosball game back there, so he’d taken to facetiously calling it the rec room.

Max just nodded to show that he’d heard, hoping that wouldn’t be necessary, then Michael headed for the door, saying, “Come on, Tess.”

Tess slowly moved to follow him, curious to find this thing and find out what was going on, but not liking the division of labor much. Her lips a tight line, she sent a dark look between Max and Liz before making her way to the door, then she and Michael left together to search, with Tess sending one last backwards glance across the room as she closed the door behind them.


[ edited 12time(s), last at 15-Feb-2003 9:39:20 PM ]
posted on 20-Mar-2002 2:04:27 AM by Destinee
Once they were gone, Max looked down at his captive somewhat helplessly, not quite sure what to do with her, then lifted his head to look over at Liz, who was eyeing the woman with an inscrutable expression. She must have felt the weight of his gaze on her, because she lifted her eyes to his at that moment, and they exchanged a solemn look.

She’d hardly said anything since Topolsky had made her appearance, and Max worried about how she was taking all this. So much had happened in the past half hour or so.

“You okay?” he asked with quiet concern.

Soberly, Liz nodded her head.

Searching her eyes for evidence of that, he persisted. “I don’t just mean about this,” he indicated Topolsky with a tiny movement of his head. “I meant about before,” he said cryptically, very aware of Topolsky’s presence there between them. He regretted that the opportunity had been lost for a quiet conversation between them to put to rest the things Tess had said earlier. Now was hardly the time to discuss it, but he had to make sure Liz was okay.

Understanding that he was referring to what had been happening before Topolsky had disrupted everything, Liz dropped her eyes guiltily as she recalled the doubts about them being together that she’d been immersed in only a few minutes ago.

“Yeah. I-I’m fine, Max,” she assured him faintly, avoiding his eyes.

Frowning at her response, Max wondered at the guilt in her expression, now more regretful than ever that they couldn’t talk. He was too aware of Topolsky eavesdropping on their conversation to press any further, but he vowed that as soon as they got this situation under control, he and Liz were going to have a long talk.

Not that Topolsky was showing any particular interest in what they were saying, Max acknowledged. In fact, it was just the opposite. She barely even seemed to be aware of them as she stood placidly now, staring across the room at nothing in particular, like she’d tuned them out and had gone on to some other place.

Liz’s eyes too, were drawn to the interloper between them, taking note of her trance-like state with a twinge of disquiet. She hardly seemed like much of a menace in her present condition. On the other hand, maybe that blank stare meant she was more dangerous than they could imagine, Liz thought, suddenly recalling the seemingly insane flashes she and Michael had received at the quarry last week. Flashes that presumably now had come from Topolsky.

Unsettled by the thought, Liz surveyed the petite woman with a leery eye and asked Max, “What are you gonna do with her?”

Uneasily, Max looked down at the woman in question. He knew Liz was asking in the immediate sense about what they could do, but for a moment he wondered exactly what they were going to do with her if she really was this crazy person bent on watching and harassing them. They could hardly keep her an unwilling prisoner indeterminately. They couldn’t stand guard over her constantly, they had lives full of normalities they had to follow. But he couldn’t see just letting her go free either.

Seeing no viable alternatives, Max decided to just concentrate on the present. There would be time to come up with a long-term plan later if they had to. And maybe they could enlist Valenti’s help with it.

For now, Topolsky didn’t look like she needed anything so much as to just sit down. She looked about ready to drop.

A bit grudgingly, Max asked her, “Do you wanna sit down?”

He didn’t really expect an answer, and he didn’t get one, but he led her over to the couch anyway.

Releasing her arm as she sank down on the cushions, he said in mild warning, “I don’t want to have to tie you up or anything, but I will if I have to. So just– stay put.”

Topolsky’s only response was to wrap her arms around herself and begin a small rocking motion of her upper body, her eyes continuing to dart furtively from side to side every so often.

Max backed a few steps away, effectively blocking the pathway to the door, and Liz moved the few feet it took to put her at his side.

She frowned as she studied the woman’s small, agitated movements. She really didn’t want to feel sorry for this person who’d been terrifying her out of her wits the past several days, but it was almost impossible not to. It was obvious something really terrible must have happened to her, and Liz wondered now if Topolsky was even cognizant of her actions.

“What do you think happened to her?” she asked Max in a subdued tone.

“I don’t know,” he replied, his voice equally muted. “Did you see her hands?” he questioned, looking pointedly in that direction.

Liz hadn’t, but she looked there now. They were half-hidden from view the way Topolsky had them tucked underneath her arms on either side of her, but on the small parts that were visible Liz could see the thick webbing of scar tissue that stretched across the backs of them. And underlying all of that was the mottled reddish-purple pigmentation of flesh that had been severely burned.

Wincing slightly, Liz said, “So there really was a fire.”

“Yeah...it looks like it.”

But apparently, Topolsky had escaped the flames instead of dying with those other five patients the way they’d been told. And if that part had been false, how much more of the story they’d heard about her had been a lie?

“Do you think she’s really crazy?” Liz asked quietly. “I mean like, certifiably insane?”

Max watched as the woman on the couch made a sharp twitching movement and threw a look over her shoulder, although there was nothing behind her but bare wall.

“If she’s not, she’s sure givin’ a good imitation of it,” he muttered in reply.

“Yeah,” Liz had to agree.

They stood there in a moment of silent observance while Topolsky wearily lowered her face towards her lap, every so often rolling her eyes upward to rapidly flick a glance at random spots in the room.

Sighing with resignation, Liz voiced aloud what she’d been considering ever since it had occurred to her. “You know, maybe she hasn’t really even been aware of what she’s been doing all of this time.”

Max might’ve been inclined to agree with her, but at that moment Topolsky slipped something out of her coat pocket, shaking her head once as if answering some question heard only to her. Tilting her head, she became deeply absorbed in the task of stripping the distinctive yellow wrapper from the piece of gum she’d just unpocketed.

Max’s eyes narrowed when he recognized it as the brand identical to that of the wrapper he’d discovered on Liz’s balcony that morning.

“No,” he contradicted with a shake of his head. “There has to be some reason why she’s been targeting you like this, Liz,” he said tightly, his ire becoming roused all over again at the thought of this crazy woman spying on them from Liz’s balcony last night at a moment when the two of them had been more intimate with each other than they’d ever been. “It’s always been you, and it’s always been a vision of Nicholas. It’s like... she’s wanted you to feel threatened or something. And I wanna know why.” His voice rose, turning hard and forceful as he made the last statement, and Topolsky jumped in reaction. Fingers fumbling clumsily, she dropped her gum to the floor, then threw a quick, nervous look up at him, before dropping her gaze to the stick of gum beside her shoe.

That one brief look was all Max needed to let him know that she was hearing him, and he determined to get some answers out of her, crazy or not.

Moving to the couch to loom over her threateningly, he repeated with demanding intensity, “I wanna know why you’ve been scaring Liz this way. Why Liz? Why not one of us? And why are you watching us? Are you still with the FBI, is that it?” His stomach turned over in dread at that possibility, but it hardly seemed likely it could be true, given the mental state she was in. Unless of course this was all just an act to gain their sympathy or throw them off guard. It was hard to imagine what could’ve possibly happened to change her from the rational strategist she’d obviously been before to the weak-minded person she seemed to be now. Was it possible for any single event to literally drive a person insane?

Aside from a fleeting glance up at him from under her brows, Topolsky’s only reaction to his questions was to rock a little more agitatedly, and Max said with curt impatience, “I want some answers, Topolsky, and I want them now! I know you can hear me, so why don’t you just make this easy for everyone? When Michael gets back in here, he’s not gonna be nearly so patient with you as I am, and we’re gonna find out what we want to know one way or another,” he promised rashly.

Coming over to stand beside him, Liz touched his arm in a soothing manner, and Max looked down at her for a moment before drawing in a calming breath. Topolsky lifted her gaze at just that moment, and surprisingly, looked straight at Liz without faltering.

Liz was momentarily taken aback since this was the first time Topolsky had so directly acknowledged one of them since she’d been brought in, but she quickly took advantage of the alteration. Holding her eyes, Liz slowly lowered herself to a crouch in front of her, putting her gaze directly on a level with the other woman’s. Topolsky looked away, but her eyes came back almost immediately to Liz’s, although she didn’t meet them quite as directly as she had before.

“Why have you been doing all this?” Liz asked quietly. Remembering the impression she’d gotten from the quarry flashes, she asked, “If you’ve really been running for your life all this time, why did you come back to Roswell?”

Not surprisingly, Topolsky didn’t answer, but as she dropped her eyes away, Liz could’ve sworn she’d almost smiled. She threw a quick look up at Max to silently ask if he’d seen, and he nodded slightly, encouraging her with his gaze to keep talking to her.

Dipping her head to try and catch Topolsky’s eye again, she asked, “What do you want with us? If you wanted to hurt us, you’ve had plenty of chances to do that, so it must be something else. What is it? Please... just tell us.”

Silence was her only reply.

Getting nowhere with her line of questioning, Liz sighed and took another tack. “How do you know about Nicholas? However you were making us see him, you obviously know he’s an enemy, and that he-- has powers. How did you know that?”

Topolsky was no longer looking at her, making Liz feel that she’d somehow lost her along the way, and now she was the one who grew impatient at her silence. “Alright then, just tell us how you did that! How did you make him look so real when it was obviously just an illusion?”

“I told you, she did it with this thing,” Michael answered after a beat of silence, having entered in time to hear the last question.

Liz and Max turned to see him and Tess standing just inside the door, and he lifted up his find for their inspection.

“What is it?” Max asked, as he and Liz moved closer for a better look.

Michael gave a short tilt of his head and arched a brow briefly in an expression that clearly said ‘your guess is as good as mine’. “My guess is, it’s a nifty gadget that produces a hologram or something.” Giving Max a meaningful look, he added, “And it’s definitely alien.”

He turned the device around for Max and Liz to see, and they looked it over in keen interest.

If Liz were going to compare it to something familiar, she’d say it was similar in size and thickness to a Palm Pilot. But that was where any similarities ended. It fit pretty neatly within Michael’s large palm, but where a Palm Pilot was rectangular, this object was circular in shape, and consisted of the main body, which rested in Michael’s hand, and a second part that looked as if it could act as a cover for it when turned properly, much like that of a makeup compact. But instead of lifting straight up like the lid of a compact, this top swivelled up and around so that the faintly glowing design that adorned the outside of it faced inward towards the bottom half. It was that decorative symbol that clearly announced the object’s origins.

It was the symbol for the Whirlwind Galaxy. The same as the one on that pendant Isabel had found at Atherton’s so long ago.


TBC



Sorry if nothing much really seemed to happen in this part. That just seemed the only natural stopping-off place I had. I promise more revelations and action to come in the next part. *happy* Thanks for reading!

[ edited 3 time(s), last at 30-Jun-2002 3:14:39 PM ]
posted on 22-Mar-2002 12:12:15 AM by Destinee
Gosh, once again you guys totally wow me with all your feedback! icon_smile_blush I can't tell you all how much I appreciate your replies. 1luvu

So it seems everyone basically has the same questions. Why Liz, what's the device, and who exactly is Topolsky? *wink* I promise, we're getting there. Thanks for hanging in there with me. colrface

Kel, your comment about Topolsky being one fry short of a Happy Meal totally cracked me up. LOL. I don't think I've ever heard that before. I think you're right, though. ;)

Crimson, I have to apologize again for making you wait so long, both for the updates, and for the Mi/L revelation. It isn't intentional, I promise. I've just been having such a hard time writing these recent parts. I'll try not to make you wait so long on the next one. *happy* Very good specualions btw. ;)

Mia, lol Thanks! I guess I'll just take it one slow brick at a time. :D

Razz, greedy's okay with me. LOL. I'm actually very flattered by it in this case. *wink*

Crazeesmilee, a doo-gidget? LOL. I just might have to make that its official name. ;) I'll try to get back as soon as I can. *happy*

Angeleyes, I'm very flattered that this is your favorite. That's so sweet of you to say. Thank you. hearton And I think the next part will be the one you're looking for. *tongue*

Jendansuer, I'm sorry I threw you on the bookmark thing. I've almost always just started a new thread with each new part because, as a reader, I'm usually too impatient to have to wade through the fb replies to get to each new part that's posted. LOL. If I do a sequel, I'll probably go ahead and do it that way though, since it seems to be the norm. But for the next few parts, you might do better to bookmark my post on the Repost Board. I always update over there with each new part so it'll be completely up-to-date, and that should alert you when I've put a new one up over here. *happy*

Shelley2, I've really been trying to get all the details of the mythology nailed down, and I actually can't wait to get to that part myself. *tongue* We probably won't get there till the sequel, but I plan to go straight to that as soon as I end this one, so there shouldn't be an interruption between the 2.

Nic, that sounds like an incredibly cozy way for you to enjoy your reading of it. Hope you enjoy! And thanks so much for inviting me back over to the OTO thread. LTL, I appreciate your asking me over too. *happy* I keep meaning to come visit because I really do love it there and would love to become a fixture. I'll make it over one day soon. *happy*

Bhoney! I've been thinking about you lately, and wondering if you were still reading. It's so good to see you! I'm glad you're still enjoying it as you get all caught up. It's been a pretty long ride, hasn't it? And you've been here all the way I think. I so appreciate you. *happy* I'll do my best not to leave you hanging much longer.

LTL, really enjoyed your post. biglaugh Yes, I have to say, a stick of gum is just a stick of gum. LOL. It was only a kind of visual clue for Max, so he'd know she was definitely the one who'd been on the balcony. Loved the Liz-lust-alert comment. LOL. That part's been pretty fun for me to write too. *wink* The next part really isn't going so smoothly. I've tried running it in several different directions, but I just can't seem to make the whole confrontation play out in a logical manner. The dialog just won't flow. I'm really going to try and sit down and work on it this weekend though, so hopefully I'll make some head way. Thanks a bunch for your well-wishes. *happy*

wavey to my FF Cherishing buddies! *big* Thanks Heidi, Kate, and kel for coming over and feedbacking me. You guys are the very bestest! {{hugs}}

Mara is a dreamer, Lelea, RosBaby, roswellluver, Tobasco Liz (you've been a long timer too, haven't you? Thanks so much for hanging in! *hugs*), Moonlit Jade, frenchkiss, AJK, True Blue Healer, Wayliz, Scottie, zannyb, Realspacecadet, Katalina, and woodwinds, thanks so very much for all your comments, guys. It's awesome to know who's reading, and to get an idea of what everyone is thinking. I think we probably only have about maybe 3 chapters to go, tops, and hopefully all your questions will be answered. *happy*

Thanks for reading everyone. Love you muchly! hug2






[ edited 1 time(s), last at 22-Mar-2002 12:19:57 AM ]
posted on 18-Apr-2002 2:21:35 AM by Destinee
Thanks so much for all the bumps, everyone! I'm sorry not to have gotten back sooner than this. And I sincerely apologize for taking so long with the new part. I know I've been saying for awhile now that I've been having trouble writing this fic, but this chapter has by far been the hardest to write to date. I think I must have rewritten it a hundred times over by now, and taken it in every possible direction. I just can't get it to flow realistically. I think I have too many questions to answer that I'm trying to take on all at once. LOL.

But I think I may finally be on the right track with the current version, and I'm really really hoping to get it up at least by the weekend. Thanks so much for being so very patient, and for letting me know you're still looking for more of this fic.

Lorastar, I'm truly flattered that my fic might have played a part in getting you hooked on fanfic. Thanks for saying that. *happy*

Tim, it really has been a long time since we had an explosion, hasn't it? LOL. I'll see what I can do about throwing one of those in somewhere. *wink*. The chapter after this one might have one or two small ones I think. Maybe that'll help. And please don't worry about pushing. I seem to need all of that I can get these days, so thank you. ;)

Dreamy, I actually had to go back and look up your letters. They really were a long time ago, weren't they? But they were so very sweet and complimentary. I enjoyed reading them again. *happy* I can't tell you how much I appreciate you coming back to the story after losing it. And thanks so much for all the bumps you've given this thread. I'm sorry to be taking so long. *sad* I'll try not to keep you waiting much longer.

6throck, it always warms me to read your posts. I can't believe you're printing all this out. That's incredibly flattering. *shy* I'm truly glad you're enjoying it so much, and I appreciate your patience. Thank you too for bumping so often. *happy*

Amanda, thanks for venturing over here and bumping me up. And for all the encouraging words. I so appreciate you, girl! *angel*

I'm off to try and get a little more written right now before heading to bed. Hopefully I'll see you all this weekend, if not before. *happy*

Love you guys!

Sherry
posted on 22-Apr-2002 8:11:22 PM by Destinee
Just dropping off a quick note to let you know where I am with this. I'm sorry I missed the deadline I mentioned, but I worked on it all weekend and there's just one more small conversation with Topolsky at the very end that's giving me fits. Once I can wade my way through that, it's finished, lol. I'm going to work on it tonight, and hopefully I'll be back to post before very late.

I'm enormously grateful for all the bumps and the continued feedback. I can't begin to tell you how much it means to me. *angel*

Heidi, Kate, and Amanda, I so appreciate your bumps and the sweet encouragement. You guys know how much I love you, right? {{hugs}} I've been missing you bunches, but I've restricted myself from FF until I get this finished. LOL. Hopefully my restriction will be lifted tonight. *wink*

ER! It's so good to see you, girl! I've missed your pixels. Thanks so much for popping in over here. Your encouragement (and patience *wink*) really means a lot. Hope to see you on cherishing soon. *happy*

Lttlmrmd, I'm so glad you found me on this board. I am a little bit behind on getting in my updates to the CD site. It's really great to have you reading, and I so appreciated your fb.

6throck, girl, you always make me feel like a million bucks with your comments, you know that? LOL. Thank you for all the very sweet remarks. I do remember you saying that you'd been inspired by some of my romantic scenes. That is just so flattering. I really hope you will post your fic on the board soon if you have it finished. I'd love to read it, and I could definitely promise you lots of glowing fb from me. *happy*

Constance, sorry to keep you checking back so often for new parts. *sad* I know I've really fallen down on the job in that department lately. I think my phenomenally long case of writer's block deserves a whole new term of its own. LOL. I'm really flattered that you registered just to leave me some fb here though. It was great to hear from you again, and I appreciate you letting me know you're still waiting for more. Hopefully your wait for this part will end tonight. *happy*

Mia, thanks for the bumpage, girlfriend! *big* You're the best!

Okay, I'm off to have another go at it. LOL. If all goes well, I'll see you guys later tonight!

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 22-Apr-2002 8:14:35 PM ]
posted on 26-Apr-2002 4:08:06 AM by Destinee
Author's Note: So, I guess I don't have to tell you the writing didn't go so well, huh? LOL. I'm hoping the adage 'better late than never' applies here. *sheepish smile* I'm afraid the very end of the chapter is still a little weak, and I think I'm probably going to keep working on it, so it's very subject to change. The general facts will stay the same, but just the way it plays out might be tweaked a little. Anyway, I wanted to go ahead and post it since I finally reached the end.

I have absolutely no words to tell you how incredibly thrilled and humbled I am over all your feedback, and over the countless bumps. And I'm more touched than I can say that everyone has been so very patient and encouraging. You guys are what makes this a joy to write anymore, and for that I can't thank you enough.

I'm not sure if this part will answer even half your questions, but I hope you enjoy the ride! *happy*
More will be revealed next chapter.





Chapter 57B


Topolsky was no longer looking at her, making Liz feel that she’d somehow lost her along the way, and now she was the one who grew impatient at her silence. “Alright then, just tell us how you did that! How did you make him look so real when it was obviously just an illusion?”

“I told you, she did it with this thing,” Michael answered after a beat of silence, having entered in time to hear the last question.

Liz and Max both turned to see him and Tess standing just inside the door, and he lifted up his find for their inspection.

“What is it?” Max asked, as he and Liz moved closer for a better look.

Michael gave a short tilt of his head and arched a brow briefly in an expression that clearly said ‘your guess is as good as mine’. “My guess is, it’s a nifty gadget that produces a hologram or something.” Giving Max a meaningful look, he added, “And it’s definitely alien.”

He turned the device around for Max and Liz to see, and they looked it over in keen interest.

If Liz were going to compare it to something familiar, she’d say it was similar in size and thickness to a Palm Pilot. But that was where any similarities ended. It fit pretty neatly within Michael’s large palm, but where a Palm Pilot was rectangular, this object was circular in shape, and consisted of the main body, which rested in Michael’s hand, and a second part that looked as if it could act as a cover for it when turned properly, much like that of a makeup compact. But instead of lifting straight up like the lid of a compact, this top swivelled up and around so that the faintly glowing design that adorned the outside of it faced inward towards the bottom half. It was that decorative symbol that clearly announced the object’s origins.

It was the symbol for the Whirlwind Galaxy. The same as the one on that pendant Isabel had found at Atherton’s so long ago.

Max glanced down at Liz and they exchanged a darkly expressive look before he turned back around to face Topolsky. She was sitting exactly as they’d left her, except now she was casting her nervous looks in their direction rather than at anonymous spaces of air.

“Where’d you get this?” Max asked intently, clenching his teeth after a moment when Topolsky remained mute. “Topolsky!” he said insistently.

The woman on the couch cringed, but still didn’t utter a word. Instead, she tucked her chin in against her chest and lowered her head until they could no longer see her face beneath the brim of her cap, never once loosing her hold on herself as she rocked with jerky movements.

The muscle in his jaw bunching, Michael looked with narrow-eyed scrutiny from the apparent head case on his couch to the device in his hand. Turmoil churned in his gut, just as it had ever since he’d picked the thing up outside and had seen the symbol on it. He wanted to know how she’d gotten her hands on it too. Every possible explanation he could come up with himself certainly didn’t do anything to endear her to him. In fact, it made her seem like more of an enemy than ever to know that she had something from their world and had been using it against them.

“Where’d you get it?” he demanded of Topolsky again, using a much harder tone than Max had done. “You couldn’t have gotten it from the FBI evidence vaults the way you said you could get the other orb. You didn’t have access,” he said shortly. “Unless this whole being dead thing was just a cover and you’re still an agent.”

“There’s no way she’s still an FBI agent,” Tess contradicted. “Not like that. I mean, look at her,” she bade, lifting a palm briefly towards the woman on his couch.

Michael’s gaze automatically followed her directive and turned on Topolsky in time to see the woman give a small jerk of her head while flicking a hand at the air by her ear as if she were batting away a nonexistent fly, her lips forming silent words as she did so. She seemed pretty messed up, all right. He might have argued that this could all just be an act, but her behavior pretty well fit in with the flashes he and Liz had gotten off the stone that day.

Not surprisingly, his Siamese brain twin voiced his thoughts aloud.

“We saw those flashes at the quarry too, Michael, remember?” Liz said quietly. “I-I think Tess is right,” she agreed falteringly, darting a look at the other girl. “She can’t possibly still be in the FBI in that state of mind.”

Tess blinked at the affirmation coming from this unexpected quarter, and the two girls exchanged an uneasy glance.

“So what, then?” Michael asked impatiently, the mild tension he felt in Liz only serving to draw his own clambering emotions tighter. “She couldn’t have had it on her all this time. I’m pretty sure they would’ve made her check her alien artifacts at the door when they admitted her into that hospital. That’s assuming, of course, that whole thing wasn’t a lie too,” he said irately.

“I don’t think it was,” Max offered. “She was definitely in a fire somewhere. And since the burning hospital was on the news, we know that part was real. And it doesn’t take a real stretch of the imagination to think she was in a mental hospital, does it?” he asked pointedly.

Since the answer to that was obvious, Michael said in acceptance of the scenario, “So she escaped the fire at the hospital and- what? The voices in her head told her where to find this thing? She picked it up from a passing alien? What?” he asked tersely, only vaguely aware that somewhere along the way they’d ceased to address the mute Topolsky with their questions and were now posing them to each other in an effort to figure this all out themselves.

“Well, maybe she took it from the vault when she was still in the FBI, but she just found a really good hiding place for it,” Tess suggested with a slight shrugging motion.

Frowning in contemplation while staring sightlessly at the device, Max said in allowance, “Maybe. But that doesn’t explain how she knew how to make the thing work. I mean, it doesn’t even have any controls on it that I can see. How’d she manage to figure it out?”

The three of them dropped their gazes to Michael’s hand to join Max in studying the smooth surface on the main body of the device. The murky-looking glass looked unmistakably like a small, rounded display screen, and just as Max had said, there were no buttons or controls of any kind there. The only thing that even hinted at what the object was capable of was a shiny 3D-like emblem, flickering and dancing beneath the surface of the glass. Flashing like an almost transparent silver-blue flame, it shifted so rapidly it was hard to detect any clear discernible shape within its light.

“Did you get it to do anything before?” Max asked, relieving Michael of the object and running a finger experimentally over its surface when he held it in his own hand.

“I didn’t try,” Michael replied absently, watching intently as the glass seemed to ripple slightly, and the holographic symbol inside dissolved and scattered with the passing of Max’s fingertip, almost like his touch were displacing liquid mercury. “I didn’t think it was a good idea, out there where anyone could see.”

The emblem merged and solidified into its original obscure shape once Max had removed his finger, then it resumed it’s flickering movements as though it had never been disturbed.

Liz watched the minute interaction raptly, utterly fascinated with the small instrument. “It looks computerized. Or maybe digitalized or something,“ she observed. “There has to be some way to give it commands...to program it somehow.”

If there was, Max couldn’t find it. He ran his fingertips over every inch of the small screen, and over the top with the symbol on it besides, but the only response the device gave to his exploratory touch was to begin emitting a faint pulsing glow from the screen beneath which the emblem danced.

They all thought he’d hit upon something when the light first came to life, but were disappointed when nothing happened beyond its rhythmic pulsing.

Michael tore his gaze from the near-hypnotic glow to look over at Topolsky. “I don’t suppose you’d wanna tell us how to work this thing,” he said caustically, the query holding only a faint note of question, as he was relatively sure of what his answer would be.

Topolsky gave no indication that she’d even heard him as she rocked obliviously on the couch.

“Yeah. That’s what I thought you’d say,” he said in angry disgust.

Max had lifted his gaze to Topolsky too, in futile hope of getting an answer this time, and now he and Michael exchanged another look of seething dissatisfaction.

Their frustration level had the effect of inching Liz’s own a little higher and she tried to counter it with calming thoughts sent their way, just in case she had as much influence over their emotions as they seemed to be having on hers at the moment. She didn’t know how they were ever going to get Topolsky to talk, but she knew they’d better think of something quick, before Max and Michael became tempted to resort to drastic measures.

“You know, if the FBI had that thing, I’m sure they studied it,” she offered logically. “If they’ve had it ever since the crash, I imagine they learned everything there is to know about it. That’s probably how she knows how to use it.”

Pursing her lips, Tess shook her head. “Yeah but they had the orbs too, and they never figured out how to work those, right? I mean, Pierce had no idea what they were for.” She looked to Max for confirmation, but she knew that when they’d broken him out of the White Room, she’d had to mindwarp Pierce into thinking Max was activating the orbs, in order to give Michael and Nacedo a chance to free him. At the time, she hadn’t had a clue about what the orbs would do when they were engaged, but obviously she’d pulled off a scenario that Pierce had bought. Which meant he must not have had any more of a clue about them than she’d had.

Max shifted tensely at the reference to his experience in the White Room, but Tess was right. Other than a couple of small facts, Pierce really hadn’t known anything about the orbs. And he’d been prepared to perform any number of unspeakable tortures on Max to force him to confess how to operate them. The unscrupulous agent hadn’t believed him when he’d truthfully denied any knowledge of the process. And Max had never been so terrified in his life as when Pierce had threatened to basically disembowel him while keeping him conscious to feel it if he didn’t confess to knowledge he didn’t have.

“Yeah, uh– he didn’t know,” Max quietly concurred, trying to shake off the sense of vulnerability he felt at remembering his helplessness then. “They only had one of the orbs though. I mean...up until- you know, that day. They wouldn’t have been able to make just one of them work no matter how much they studied it.”

Liz’s heart twisted at the sight of the shadows that had darkened Max’s eyes at the mention of this disturbing subject, and she lifted a hand to stroke his shoulder blade soothingly, ignoring the deadly blue gaze she could feel boring into her from beside them. Max looked down at her in gentle appreciation of the gesture, and their eyes clung for a moment.

Hardly noticing the small byplay between them, Michael jumped on Max’s last statement. “Yeah, and how’d they figure that out? How did she figure it out?” he asked with simmering intensity, stabbing Topolsky with his gaze. “She knew both the orbs had to be together before they would work, she told me that the night she trashed my apartment. And how’d she even know there was another one? That we had it here? How’d she know they were communicators?” he asked, each question coming out more tersely than the last. “I’m telling you, Maxwell. She knows things. More than us and the FBI put together,” he declared fervently, working himself up into a state of paranoid suspicion the more he thought about it.

Max frowned at Topolsky as he considered Michael’s words, but it was Liz who asked in a strident undertone, “What are you saying, Michael? That– you think she’s an alien?”

“Think about it,” he demanded intensely, turning the idea over in his own mind even as he spoke. Listing his suspicions as if he were counting them off on his fingers, he said, “She keeps turnin’ up with all these alien objects and knows exactly how to use them. She tore my place apart that night lookin’ for an orb no one should’ve even known we had in the first place. And when she found it, instead of takin’ off with it to FBI headquarters like any good little secret agent would do, she offers to give me the other one so we’d have the matched set, and could try to make ‘em work.” As another more incriminating memory of that night resurfaced, he became even more convinced that he was on the right track with this. “And you wanna know what she wanted in return for doin’ us that little favor?” He barely paused after asking the rhetorical question. “She wanted me to promise we would take her with us if our people came to get us,” he said with pointed emphasis.

“You never told me that,” Max said, slightly startled.

“Yeah, well... we never really discussed the details of that night,” Michael answered flatly, remembering the tension that had arisen between them over the events that had taken place back then. Max had been disappointed in him and had blamed him completely for going behind their backs to meet with Topolsky and losing their orb to Sheriff Valenti in the process. And while Michael had felt stupid and guilty over that, he’d been even more hurt and angry over the fact that his usually tolerant and rational best friend had actually hit him over it. What was worse was that Max had said he’d only done it to ‘knock some sense into him’. It had sounded exactly like something Hank would’ve said. Like hitting him had somehow been for his own good, or some such garbage. It had put a new kind of tension between Michael and Max that had never existed there before. And they’d never really spoken of it since then except to exchange angry words of blame and defensiveness over the temporary loss of the orb.

Rubbing at his eyebrow and then dropping his hand to gesture with an open palm, Michael said gruffly, “Anyway. The point is, she practically begged me to take her to another planet. What human would want to leave Earth to take off for some unknown world? And why would they think it might even be feasible for them to do that?” he questioned, looking at Topolsky to see if she was reacting to his words at all.

But besides possibly holding herself more tightly than ever, she hadn’t deviated from the same agitated movements she’d been making for the past ten minutes or so.

Lips flattening, he continued to argue his case. “And she’s obviously connected to Nicholas in some way. What kind of ties would a human have to the leader of the Skins? Someone who had an important position in the government, just like Whitaker did,” he queried meaningfully.

Max and Liz looked at one another in silent consultation as they mused over what Michael had said.

He’d made some really good points actually. How had Topolsky known they’d found the orb and had hidden it here, Max wondered, when he and Liz had only discovered it in the desert a couple of nights before. And what exactly was her connection with Nicholas? Could it be at all possible she was a Skin, the way Michael had intimated? And most damning of all, why on earth would she ask to be taken to their planet, where it was uncertain whether a human would even be adaptable to the atmosphere? Was it that she knew she could survive because she’d come from there? Or had she just been so out of it even then that she hadn’t known what she was saying?

Max forced himself to try and think rationally about it, because as incriminating as all that was, it was hard to believe that an alien could’ve been employed by a branch of the government that hunted aliens, and had never been discovered.

But on the other hand, Nacedo had successfully impersonated the head of an even more elite branch of the government for months without getting caught.

As Max went back and forth with the she could be/she couldn’t be argument, he became frustrated with the myriad of questions they had no answers for. What made it even more infuriating was that Topolsky could easily answer all these questions for them, if they could only get her to talk.

Standing tensely beside him, Michael was thinking along the very same lines. Nothing frustrated him more than the unanswered alien mysteries of their lives. And he thought it was stupid that they were standing here playing guessing games when Topolsky was sitting right there with all the answers.

Looking between the both of them, Liz suspected that they were just about ready to start taking those drastic measures she’d been concerned about. A glance at Tess showed her that if it came to that, the other girl would be of no help in restraining them either. She looked as suspicious and angrily desirous of answers as the boys did, and the three of them were studying Topolsky narrowly as if she were a secret code they were determined to crack.

Liz wanted answers too, but not at the risk of pushing Topolsky even further past the point of sanity than she already was. She didn’t think the guys would actually resort to any kind of physical violence- not unless things somehow got out of hand. But even if they tried to use some kind of forceful intimidation tactics, they didn’t know how she would react. They really had no idea what they were dealing with where she was concerned, or just exactly how unstable her mind might be. If they started pushing her, she could erupt into violence herself. Or she might retreat even further from reality than she apparently had at the moment.

Liz just didn’t want the others to lose sight of her disturbed state of mind if they started in on some single-minded quest for answers, and possibly make her condition worse. Although why she was worrying about the woman’s mental well-being, she didn’t have a clue. Topolsky certainly hadn’t seemed to worry about hers this past week as she’d played her little head games.

As she thought about Topolsky’s activities with the holograms, Michael’s words about her working with Nicholas played through her mind again. But something about that idea just didn’t seem to fit.

“If she was really working for Nicholas, why would she just mess around with our minds though? I mean, she hasn’t really done anything to actually harm us. If she could get this close without our knowing about it, wouldn’t Nicholas want her to just wipe us out completely? That’s what he wants, right? He just wants us dead.”

“He wants the Royals dead,” Tess agreed in correction, deliberately leaving their number unsaid so as not to include herself. “But first and foremost, he wants the Granolith,” she reminded them, knowing well what the young Skin wanted most on this planet.

“Which only further proves what Liz is saying,” Max maintained. “This hasn’t had anything to do with the Granolith. If it had, why would Liz be the one they were focusing in on? If what they wanted was to get its location from her, all Nicholas would have to do is mindrape her,” he said, his own mind shuddering at the thought. There was no way he would ever let her be subjected to one of Nicholas’ soul-withering head invasions. He’d protect her from that with everything he had in him. A slight movement of his shoulder dislodged her hand from its place on his back, and he caught it as it fell to clasp it tightly. “But no one’s tried to approach her. They’ve just been like, using scare tactics on her or something,” he said grimly, still angrily determined to find out the reason for that. “I have to agree with Liz on this,” he affirmed, sending Tess a quelling look at her caustically muttered, “Now there’s a surprise.”

Continuing as if she hadn’t spoken, he said, “None of this makes any sense if she’s after the same things Nicholas is. I think she has an agenda all her own.”

“Like what?” Michael demanded. “If she’s not a Skin, how do you explain why an alien hunter in the FBI knows who and what Nicholas is and hasn’t turned him in?”

“How do you explain why an alien hunter in the FBI knows who and what we are, and hasn’t turned us in?” Tess countered under her breath.

Michael felt a renewed flash of impatience burst within him. Every question they had seemed to be answered by nothing but more questions, and he’d had more than enough.

“You know what, enough talk! This is getting us nowhere,” he exclaimed irately. “Topolsky’s here, she’s got the answers, and we’re gonna get ‘em from her,” he swore, turning to the woman in question. “Quiet time is officially over, Topolsky. You got that?” he told her in his most intimidating fashion. “Either you tell us what we wanna know, or we’ll find a way to force it out of you. Your choice.”

Expectancy hung in the room as they all waited to see how Topolsky would respond to the ultimatum.

She had ceased her rocking motions and now sat almost unnaturally still, and Liz might have thought her utter lack of motion was in reaction to Michael’s threat if she hadn’t been watching her for some time now. But she’d noticed when the other woman had fallen still, somewhere around the time Tess had mentioned the Royals and the Granolith, and Liz had been watching her closely ever since. She might have worried that they were speaking far too freely in front of the uncertain enemy if she hadn’t gotten the impression that Topolsky hadn’t stilled in surprise at what she was hearing, but rather, sat in expectancy of their words, much like they were doing with her now.

After several tense moments it became clear that Topolsky wasn’t planning on volunteering any information, and Michael’s expression hardened.

“Fine. We’ll do this the hard way,” he said grimly, and started towards the living room.

Before he had taken two steps, Liz’s hand shot out to stop him.

“Wait! What are you gonna do?” she asked apprehensively.

Michael scowled down at her for the delay. He honestly had no clear idea what he was going to do, he just knew he had to make Topolsky talk. They needed to know what they were dealing with here, and she wasn’t getting out of this room without giving them some answers, he silently vowed.

Whatever I have to,” he answered evenly.

Liz shivered slightly at the cold light of determination in his eyes and knew he meant exactly what he said. It looked like his patience had been stretched past its limit, and he’d reached that ‘drastic measures’ point.

“Wait, Michael,” she implored. “Just... let me try and talk to her first, okay?”

“Liz, you already tried that,” he argued shortly, pushing away the urge toward compassion that was almost certainly coming from her. Gently shaking free of her hand, he said in admonishment, “We can’t be nice about this, she’s an enemy. And so far, nice isn’t cutting it,” he reminded her, frustration coloring his voice.

Sensing that he wouldn’t be easily swayed from his intent now that his patience had come to an end, Liz turned to Max in entreaty.

“Max, I really think that I should just try and talk to her before we do anything– rash. You saw how she was before. She almost seemed to be listening to me for a minute there. Maybe she’ll talk to me this time if I try again.”

As Max quietly considered her appeal, he glanced up at Michael and received a mild, but unmistakable look of challenge from him that immediately got his back up. He knew Michael expected him to reject his aggressive tactics and go the slow, easy route Liz was suggesting, and he itched to surprise that look off his face. The truth was, he was just as fed up with Topolsky’s silence as the other boy was. And Michael had raised enough suspicions in his mind that Max was more sure than ever now that there was no way they could just let her go on her way. But if they were going to keep her close they needed to know exactly who and what she was, and how much of a threat she posed to Liz. He was undeniably in protective mode at the moment, and he was feeling just wrathful and impatient enough with Topolsky that he was willing to go along with whatever Michael had in mind to finally get some ready answers, as long as it didn’t include actual physical harm.

But while Liz’s way might not be the most expedient, it might possibly be more effective. Topolsky had seemed to connect with her in some way earlier. Looking at Toposky, who had at some point gone deadly still on the couch, he had his doubts about it being successful though.

“I don’t know, Liz, I think Michael might be right,” he finally answered, gaining a small measure of satisfaction from the surprise that shone on Michael’s face. “Asking politely hasn’t gotten us anywhere. We’ve given her plenty of chances, and she’s just not responding,” he said, partially directing the comment at Topolsky herself, as he shot her an ireful look.

Liz followed his gaze to Topolsky’s rigid form, and somehow got the sense that the inert woman was perfectly aware they were discussing her fate.

“Just give her one more chance, Max,” Liz asked of him. “She’s– obviously not well, and maybe- maybe there’s some reason why she hasn’t been able to talk to us. Just... let me try, okay?”

Hesitating, Max decided they didn’t have anything to lose by letting her try it her way first, and he finally nodded in concession. Lifting his eyes to Michael, he dared the other boy to dispute the decision, and Michael’s face took on a slightly sneering expression that seemed to say, ‘Typical’, although he did nothing to oppose the course of action.

Liz gave Max’s hand a squeeze of gratitude before releasing it, and the thought crossed her mind that maybe she was preventing them from doing something they might have regretted later if Topolsky turned out to be something less than they were suspecting. Which could easily be the case. At this point, Liz wasn’t sure what to believe.

As she turned back towards Michael, she could feel his moody dissatisfaction before she saw it written on his face, and she said placatingly, “Just give us five minutes, Michael, okay? If she hasn’t talked by that time...you can try it your way.”

His only reply was a tightening of his lips as he crossed his arms over his chest, and Liz had the feeling she’d just been put on the clock.

Pulling in a fortifying breath and tucking her hair behind her ear, she turned to warily approach Topolsky. Halting a few feet in front of the couch, she hesitated briefly over the decision to sit or stand, then finally just lowered herself to a crouch in front of Topolsky the way she had before.

The silent woman sat utterly closed in on herself in a defensive posture, her head still hidden beneath her cap’s brim, and once again, Liz felt compassion stir in her heart. She was just so very...pitiable, compared to the woman she’d once been. The last time they’d seen her in Roswell, Liz had thought maybe she’d been trying to help them and that they could trust her. Could she have been so monumentally wrong in her judgement then?

Tipping her head to attempt to see underneath the curved navy bill of Topolsky’s hat, she searched for the right words to begin.

Opting for lightness, Liz told her, “Listen, we only have five minutes here, and I think the clock is ticking, so maybe you could think about helping us out.”

In the shadow cast over her face by her cap, Liz thought she caught a flicker of Topolsky’s eyes towards her, and the small movement encouraged her to continue. “I- I know you probably heard us talking about you over there. The thing is... you’ve really thrown us for a loop, Ms. Topolsky. We just don’t know what to think, you know? And with you staying silent like this... it just doesn’t give us much choice but to think you’re an enemy. You know, after everything you’ve been doing.”

She searched what she could see of Topolsky’s face for any hint that her words were making an impact, her instincts continuing to choose her words for her.

“But apparently, you’ve been watching us for quite awhile. And you’ve never hurt us- physically hurt us- in all that time. Which really confuses things. So...if you would just answer our questions, it would really help to clear things up. Unless of course, you aren’t interested in clearing things up. Then that would bring us back to that whole– that whole enemy thing.”

Topolsky’s down-bent head had gradually come up while Liz spoke, until she now sat almost fully erect. But aside from one brief glance towards Liz’s face, she wasn’t making eye contact. Instead she seemed to be gazing at a point just past Liz’s right ear. Even when she eased herself into Topolsky’s line of vision, the woman wouldn’t focus on her, but seemed to stare right through her.


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 19-Jul-2002 10:12:33 PM ]
posted on 26-Apr-2002 4:12:11 AM by Destinee
Sighing with a sense of impending failure, Liz asked, “Would you just tell us why you’ve been trying to scare us with these holograms? What was the point of all that? Is– was it something Nicholas told you to do?”

She was acutely aware of each second that ticked past while Topolsky sat there unresponsively, and Liz flicked a backward glance towards the others without turning her head when she felt Michael’s impatience virtually seething during the wait.

“Come on, Ms. Topolsky,” she urged. “Our time is running out here. You have to give us something. Anything. Tell us... tell us how you escaped the fire and who you’ve been running from all this time. Tell us why you’re still watching us if you aren’t with the FBI anymore. And why haven’t you ever turned us in if you’ve known exactly who we all are?” As the questions poured out, Liz’s frustration- or maybe it was Michael’s- became more pronounced, clipping her words short. Casting about for something that would incite a response from her, she asked, “Does any of this have anything to do with the Royal Four? Or the Granolith?”

Topolsky’s eyes shifted briefly in her direction at the mention of the same words Liz had noticed her react to earlier. And though it made no sense whatsoever, she felt sure that the answer to her question was in the affirmative.

Shaking her head in bafflement, Liz asked, “If that’s true, then why have you been singling me out? What did you possibly hope to gain by that?”

The slight rustling noise Tess made as she shifted restlessly was the only sound to be heard in the room for several interminable moments, and Michael was just about to exclaim harshly over the futility of all this when Topolsky surprised them all with the first moderately-spoken words they’d heard her utter all day.

“Why don’t you know?” she rasped with a frown, her eyes still turned blindly toward the wall behind Liz.

Though it wasn’t exactly an answer to her question, Liz felt a flash of triumph over the reply, and had to restrain herself from turning to share the victory with Max and the others and form an answer to Topolsky’s vague question instead.

Which wasn’t a simple task when the inquiry made little sense. Why didn’t they know what? The answers to all the questions they’d been asking? Or just the one about her motives? Liz was afraid it was just her confusion talking, because how could she possibly expect them to know any of those things?

“Because you haven’t told us,” Liz gently reminded her.

“No.” Topolsky shook her head, confusion darkening her features as she seemed to search her memory for something. “No, I- I did tell. I told them everything.” Shaking her head in bewilderment, she darted a quick look at Liz from under her brows before lowering her gaze to her lap. “You should know by now,” she muttered, as though she couldn’t understand it.

The others had pressed closer to hear Topolsky’s huskily mumbled words, and Liz turned to look up at Max now with a frown. He returned her look with shake of his head, sharing her confusion.

“Well, we don’t know, Ms. Topolsky. Maybe you could just tell us,” he carefully prompted. “What is it you want with Liz?”

The disturbed woman threw a skittish look in Max’s direction, then her gaze glanced off Liz, before lowering to look at nothing in particular. “I shouldn’t be here,” she muttered fearfully, her eyes moving furtively around the apartment like maybe escape was on her mind again. “You don’t know how dangerous it is.” Her hands worried at the bottom corner of her coat. “Do you?” her tone seemed to question herself. After only a beat, she answered her own question with a tiny shake of her head.

Responding to her comment about danger, Michael asked sharply, “Why? Because of Nicholas? Is he somewhere close?”

Topolsky stole a glance at him out of the corner of her eye. “Nicholas?” she asked with quiet vagueness, as if the name were completely unfamiliar.

Michael narrowed his eyes on her. “Your pint-sized holographic buddy. Remember him?” he asked sarcastically with a cynical arch of his brow.

She seemed to puzzle over that for a long moment, then gave that negative movement of her head again that was somewhat more than a twitch, but less than a full-blown shake of the head.

Michael looked at her in angry disbelief. “What, you’re gonna try to deny you know Nicholas now?”

Topolsky shrank from his sharp tone of ire as though it were a physical threat, and her hand went up to cover one of her ears as she quickly resumed her defensive posture.

“Michael, stop,” Liz reprimanded over her shoulder. “Just calm down, okay?”

“Well this is crap!” Michael protested. “Are we just gonna sit here and let her lie like that? What she’s tellin’ us is worthless!” Looking at her, she honestly did seem confused, Michael would allow her that, but there was no way he’d believe it possible she didn’t know the person who’d played the feature role in her little home movies this past week. It was ridiculous, and it made him feel like she was playing them.

“Michael. Lower your voice,” Max warned him censoriously. Topolsky had taken up the same tight rocking motions she’d been making before, and Max didn’t want her to close down on them again. He had to agree that her answers were frustratingly uninformative, but at least Liz had gotten her talking. It was a small step of progress Michael’s temper was jeopardizing.

Michael’s eyes flashed as they clashed with Max’s, and Max stared him down before silently directing his gaze to the newly-distressed Topolsky. Michael followed his gaze involuntarily, then reluctantly backed down when her actions and their significance finally registered. He didn’t want her clamming up now either.

Feeling Michael relent, Liz tried to coax Topolsky back into conversation.

Tentatively touching the sleeve covering the woman’s upraised arm, she said in assurance, “Michael’s not going to hurt you, Ms. Topolsky. He’s just a little on edge right now because he needs some answers. We all do. If Nicholas isn’t the one you think we’re in danger from, who did you mean? Why is it dangerous for you to be here?”

Topolsky silently continued to rock, her only other response a quick, nervous look over her shoulder, and Liz shot Michael an incensed look for making her revert back to this state with his uncontrolled outburst. Turning back to the distraught woman, Liz moved her hand more fully on her arm and urged her hand down away from her ear. Seeing as Topolsky had just expressed concern over bringing danger to them with her presence, Liz was finding it difficult to continue viewing her as an enemy. Why would anyone worry about that if they were planning to harm them herself? Liz still didn’t know why the older woman had done what she had this past week, but whether her reasons were rational or not, Liz’s instincts told her she hadn’t had done it with malicious intent.

Topolsky hadn’t turned her face down at such a dramatic angle this time, but Liz still had to dip her head a little when trying to capture her attention again after she’d succeeded in pulling the woman’s hand down. Blue-gray eyes flitted in her direction, up towards Michael, and back again in rapid succession.

“If you think you may be bringing us danger by being here...don’t you think we should know who the danger is from? “ Liz asked persuasively.

She couldn’t tell if the look on the other woman’s face meant she was considering the question or not, but when long minutes passed without receiving an answer, Liz decided she wasn’t. Then, just as she was trying to come up with another approach, Topolsky threw another look over her shoulder and muttered fearfully, “Following. Always- always following. I can’t– get too close,” she whispered with a small hitch.

That was apparently the only answer she was going to give, and she had actually sounded like she were talking to herself more than anyone else, but as Liz studied her nervous actions quietly, she surmised that Topolsky must’ve meant someone was always following her, and she didn’t want them to catch her here. The words and attitude were so reminiscent of the last time they’d seen her in Roswell, Liz wondered if she still had the same scenario in her head. Had her fears back then had any justification, she wondered. Or had it just been a product of her paranoia?

“Ms. Topolsky, Peirce is dead. Did you know that? And the Special Unit was disbanded. They can’t be following you anymore. Maybe– that’s just in your head,” she suggested gently.

Topolsky’s brow furrowed, and she shook her head in rejection. But after a few brief moments, her frown turned uncertain, and Liz thought she might be considering it a possibility.

“So if you thought you were bringing danger, what are you even doing in Roswell in the first place?” Tess asked in suspicious accusation. “For someone who was worried about being near us, you’ve been awfully close,” she said dubiously.

Topolsky hung her head, and after awhile they began to think she wasn’t going to answer this question either, but finally, she peeked up at Liz and addressed her reply to her. “I was only checking,” she said quietly, her tone sounding oddly guilty. “But... then... everything was– I-I had to do something. You see? It’s– all wrong. You should know. Why don’t you know?” she asked, in the same manner as she had before.

Max considered the anxious woman as he tried to make sense of her garbled reply. He wondered if there were really even any meaning behind her words worth taking note of. By ‘doing something’ was she referring to the malicious mischief she’d been up to this past week?

“You asked that before, Topolsky. What is it you think Liz should know?” he asked.

She always hesitated long moments before she answered anything, Max noticed, as if maybe she had to have time to process the question first. And answering to either him or Michael seemed to bring on an extra fit of nervousness.

This time was no exception, and she fidgeted fitfully for a bit before lifting a troubled gaze to Max’s general vicinity, then dropped her face again to mutter to her lap. “I-it wasn’t my place. You wouldn’t listen!” she declared, the words and inflection making it seem as though she were speaking in the past tense.

“We are listening, Ms. Topolsky,” Liz assured her. “What do you want me to know?”

Topolsky shook her head abruptly. “Need. You need. You need– to know. You need it!” her voice dropped to a mutter as she continued to repeat the phrase in elaboration to herself.

“Okay, what do I need to know?” Liz amended, interrupting her abstracted murmuring.

Worrying at a button low on her coat, the other woman took her customary pause, then suddenly raised her head to give Liz a direct look that surprised and disconcerted her.

“You need– to know why this is happening,” Topolsky told said haltingly, her voice trembling with import. “You need to know...who you are.”

Liz stilled as a sudden chill swept over her, and her heart inexplicably began to pound. Topolsky hadn’t shifted her eyes away this time, and Liz became helplessly caught by the momentary alertness of her gaze. Why would she say something like that, she wondered with sharp uneasiness. Though the statement seemed to make as little sense as anything else the woman had said, it had been uttered with an eery lucidity that had Liz swallowing hard with dread.

“That’s ridiculous,” she scoffed tightly. “I know who I am.”

Slowly, the other woman shook her head. “Not-- the whole you,” she rasped softly. “Not...the past- you.”

A heightened tension filled the room. One that undoubtedly began and ended with Liz, but it zipped through everyone else as well. Feeling it seep into him, Michael’s heart suddenly began pounding in tandem with Liz’s.

The past her? What had she meant by that, he wondered warily. Liz’s apprehension quickly became a living thing inside him, and if he’d been inclined to scoff at Topolsky’s lunatic ramblings himself, he thought Liz’s chaotic emotions would have left him unable to do so. Though she’d spoken dismissively, something inside her was taking Topolsky’s words very seriously, and he couldn’t seem to help but respond to that.

Beside him, Max had bristled protectively over the fear he could feel emanating from Liz. He could tell how seriously she was taking Topolsky’s words too and also that she was extremely unsettled by them, and a part of him wondered angrily if this was just another one of Topolsky’s cruel jokes, minus the hologram. But another part of him was waiting with bated breath to see what she would say next. Whether she really knew what she was saying or not he wasn’t sure, but her comment about a ‘past’ Liz had his pulse thumping erratically right along with hers and Michael’s.

Tess was the only one who made an attempt to dismiss her remarks, although tension had taken hold of her too.

“Are you even aware of how delusional you are?” she asked sharply, a strange sort of panic driving her words. “You aren’t making the least bit of sense,” she insisted.

For once, a strident tone of voice didn’t cause Topolsky to react fearfully. She kept her eyes locked together with Liz’s, and the latter girl got the sense that she was struggling to stay clear-headed enough to tell this.

Liz felt sure she didn’t want her to tell it. A nameless panic had her in its grip, and it’s very familiarity brought her to the realization that it was exactly the same as the feeling she woke with when she had one of those dreams about the aliens’ past. A heart-pumping fear that was seemingly there without reason, but still undeniably there.

She wanted this line of questioning stopped, but with a chilled sense of foreboding she heard Max say quietly, “Tell us what you meant, Topolsky. About Liz’s past.”

A pause, and then came the scratchy-soft timbre of hesitant words, their volume doing nothing whatsoever to dull their stunning impact.

“This is– there’s- more of you,” she told Liz tentatively. “Only– deep inside. This is a- a second you. You...lived before. In a– another place.”

A numbing cold swept through Liz’s brain, much like the sensation one gets when eating ice-cream too fast, and her head automatically began shaking in denial.

Liz’s negative response seemed to make Topolsky anxious, and she tripped over her words as she hurried to continue. “Yes. But you– you died there. Long– years– long ago Th- then- now- you were...brought back. Here.”

Liz shook her head more firmly, her thoughts and emotions rioting. In her own broken way, Topolsky sounded like she was reciting the hauntingly familiar tale they’d heard from Max’s mother so long ago. It should’ve been a simple matter to write off what she was saying as a mere confusion of her facts, but something inside wouldn’t seem to let Liz do that. And somehow, that was the scariest thing of all.

Attempting to do it anyway, Liz’s objection came out hoarsely. “No. See.. I don’t know how you know that about the others,” she said, the fleeting thought that Michael must’ve been right about her surfacing before it was lost again in the teeming confusion of her mind. “But you’re wrong. That’s not me you’re talking about. I’m completely human! There’s nothing more to me than what you see,” she insisted. “Y-you’re just– you’re confused!”

The pronouncement made Topolsky’s face cloud over with uncertainty, but then her eyes cleared a bit and she shook her head. “You– just didn’t know,” she said, as if she were reassuring herself. Shaking her head again, she contradicted Liz’s statement. “Not completely human. Not completely.”

“Stop saying that!” Liz demanded, jumping to her feet where she wavered tensely.

She wanted to flee from this moment. She wanted Topolsky to admit that she was mistaken. But most of all, she wanted her words to stop ringing in her head with an unescapable inevitability that was slowly spreading to consume her.

Max caught her against his chest as she stumbled back into him, his hands automatically closing around her upper arms while his thoughts raced as turbulently as hers were doing. He still felt divided as to whether or not this was just another trick on Topolsky’s part, but he thought she seemed to be sincere, if not deluded. And the fact that she knew any of them had lived and died in ‘another place’ compelled him to believe she might not be all that deluded.

Of course, if she’d worked with Nicholas at all, he could’ve told her that much about them. But Max wasn’t so convinced she’d been working with the Skin after some of the things she’d said. As for what she was saying about Liz- that she was somehow one of them- there was no way that could possibly be true. Was there? It might explain a lot of things about her powers, but Liz would know if she hadn’t been born human. It was ridiculous to even contemplate the idea. Wasn’t it?

Michael was contemplating it. At least, he was trying to. But a large portion of his concentration was occupied with trying to keep the turbulent swarm of Liz’s emotions from overtaking his own. He knew she spurned the idea completely, or was attempting to anyway, but it would explain a lot of things if it were true. And though she was obviously off her rocker, he thought maybe they should listen to Topolsky, at least about this. The fact that she had knowledge of the living and dying before thing was just further proof to him that he was right in his suspicions about her being an alien. He still wasn’t sure they could completely trust her, she could still be a Skin after all, but if she was from their world, maybe she knew what she was talking about in this.

It was Max who finally broke the taut silence that had invaded the room. “What are you trying to say, Topolsky? That– Liz is...that she’s like us? Do you really expect us to believe that?” His words ended on a terse note, as voicing the idea aloud made it sound even more like a cruel joke to him. How many times had he wished for him and Liz to be the same, he wondered painfully. At least a million, if you started counting from the day he’d entered the third grade. Except he’d always wished he were human, instead of the other way around. This way, the joke seemed to be on both of them.

Topolsky’s eyes had dropped down to her lap once again, and both her hands worried at the bottom edge of her coat now, twisting and crushing the heavy fabric vigorously in her agitation. Without looking at Max, she attempted to stutter out a reply to his question in a weak croak. “N-not– no. Yes!” Wringing the hem of her coat within her hands, her upper body nervously jerked into the now-familiar rocking motion, and her eyes roamed the apartment desperately.

His own hands clenching into fists, Michael said with curt frustration, “Come on, Topolsky. You can’t tell us something like that and turn all basket-case on us again. If Liz is who you say she is, how’d she get here? I don’t think we would’ve overlooked an extra pod lying around,” he said sarcastically.

Whipping her head around, Liz said angrily to Michael, “Why are you even asking? It’s not true, it’s crazy! She’s crazy! It’s ridiculous to even listen to her!”

Max’s hands chaffed her arms soothingly, but it did little to calm the turmoil raging inside her. And Michael didn’t help either as he exclaimed insistently, “Liz, this could be the answer we’ve been looking for! If you would just take a minute to think about it–“

“No!” Liz cut him off abruptly. “I’m not going to think about it, because it’s stupid! Do you think I wouldn’t know if I’d hatched out of some pod as a newborn six-year-old? Do you think that’s something I would like, totally forget?!”

She was furiously aggrieved with Michael for even giving this credence. He was always so desperate for answers he was willing to listen to anything if he thought it might have something to do with their alien past. He had to know that everything in her was screaming in rejection of this, and still he encouraged Topolsky in the lunacy of it. It made her feel betrayed by him in some small way, on top of everything else.

“N-not a pod,” Topolsky said tonelessly, her voice husky and small. Her face was fully down-turned again, and she spoke to her fidgeting fingers quietly. “You– you were... different.”

“No! No, just stop it, okay?!” Liz demanded desperately. “None of what you’re saying is true!” she insisted, frantic to put a stop to any words that might make this sound feasible. There was just no way this was in any way possible. She was not an alien in disguise! She was Liz Parker. Boringly normal, fully human, smalltown girl. Just as she’d always been.

“Liz...maybe we should listen to what she has to say,” Max said a little uncertainly. He still wasn’t willing to put complete faith in Topolsky, but she just seemed to be so sincere about this. She looked small and defeated sitting there on the couch, and it was hard to believe she even had enough presence of mind to be plotting something deceitful. He couldn’t see what she could possibly gain by lying about this anyway. And if she was going to continue to talk freely, surely it couldn’t hurt to hear her out.

Jerking away from his gentle hold, Liz rounded on him, eyes wide with panic and betrayal. Feeling cornered and alone now in her disbelief, she wanted only to flee this insane proposition. “Fine. Listen, then! But I’m not hanging around to hear any more.”

Darting out of his reach when he stretched a hand out towards her, Liz turned swiftly to exit the apartment, irrationally thinking that if she could just run fast enough she could leave this suffocating feeling of inevitability behind.

But with only three feet left between Liz and the door, Topolsky said something that sealed her fate with an audible ‘zip’! Liz clearly heard its echo throughout her inner stillness as breath, blood, and heart ceased to function.

“Stop, Shaandreyah!”


TBC



Come on, admit it. You knew it all along, right? *wink**tongue* I hope Topolsky didn't come off as too lame, and that Liz's reaction was understandable. Those are two things I'll probably work on a little more. Another big confrontation is coming in the next part. It'll probably be another difficult one, but I'm going to do my best with getting it out sooner. Thanks a bunch for reading! *happy*

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 19-Jul-2002 10:13:56 PM ]
posted on 30-Apr-2002 3:36:57 AM by Destinee
I just wonder if you guys have any idea how terrific your feedback always makes me feel. It truly just makes my entire day whenever I come here and read all your fabulous replies. I'm flattered and encouraged in turn by everything you all say. I don't know how to tell you how much I appreciate that because 'thank you' just doesn't seem to cover it. That's all the words I have though, so thank you to the infinite measure. *happy*

Unfortunately, I don't think I'm going to have much, if any, time to write this week. My entire family will be here from out of state for the whole week, and some are already here, so I'll probably be spending all my free time doing the family reunion thing. Hopefully, I'll be able to sneak in just a little writing at work (don't tell *wink*), and maybe by the weekend things will be back to normal around here and I can work on it then.

It's pretty late, and I don't have time to reply to everyone, but I thought I'd try and address a few things.

Heidi, you probably already figured this out for yourself since I was so long in answering (sorry about that), but Shaandreyah was the name of Rath's sister. I guess it's been awhile since she was mentioned, but I was thinking everyone would pick up on that right away. Not a whole lot of people mentioned it though, so it's got me wondering if they did. Thanks for the fb, chica! *big*

Tim, lol. Harold, huh? You've got me totally curious about your choice of name. Do you happen to know a Harold who you suspect of being an alien or something? LOL. You know, I was a little worried over that 'green slimy pod' remark, and I asked my husband beore I posted if he thought it was over the line. He gave it the go-ahead, so it got left in. I'm glad you and Sylvia, said something about it. I'll probably edit that a little. Even if Liz was upset, I don't think she would be insensitive, do you? Thanks for your fb. *happy*

Constance, all your comments were so sweet. Thank you! That 'fabulous fanfic mode' remark just might go to my head. *wink* LOL. I don't think I can answer any of your questions just yet, but I'm thinking they'll probably all be answered in the next part. I'm expecting them to be anyway. Hope you can behr with me just a little longer. We're almost there. *happy*

Mandy, thanks for all the bumps, girl! You're totally awesome! *angel*

Kate, I had completely forgotten that that kid who played Nicholas was on Full House. You've totally ruined him as a bad guy for me now. LOL.

I wish I had time to do more thorough replies, but I really do need to hit the sack. Just know that I appreciate you all more than I can say. You truly are the best. *hugs*

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 30-Apr-2002 3:39:52 AM ]
posted on 2-Jun-2002 5:28:53 PM by Destinee
Just wanted to let you guys know I'm still alive out here, and am still attempting to write. I'm astounded and incredibly touched by the number of bumps all of you have given this thread. It means more to me than you can know. It keeps me trying at this when I'm totally at the point where I would give up otherwise. The next part isn't coming along well at all, I'm sorry to say, and I'm not at all sure I can tell you when I'll be able to get it posted. Just know that I'm trying to write on it a little every day, and as long as you guys are interested in reading more, I promise I'll keep trying to get it done.

I apologize for the long wait, and I appreciate everyone being so patient with me. You guys are just the tops!

Oh, and Constance, thanks so much for the vote of confidence in me regarding the cementing, lol. I was as disappointed as you are about them depriving us of that on the show, and I even attempted to start a short honeymoon fic to rectify that. But it didn't turn out to be any easier to write than SD&U has been for me lately. I really wasn't planning on any cementing taking place any time soon in this fic, but maybe I can get that honeymoon piece done by the time you get to Graduation in your country. Especially if S3 hasn't even started there yet. LOL. Your post really made me smile. Thanks again for the compliment on my writing. *happy*

*hugs* to everyone!
Sherry
posted on 30-Jun-2002 3:08:50 PM by Destinee
I'm sorry to have seemingly deserted you. *sad*
I know I've kept you guys waiting for far too long, and I honestly feel awful about that. Especially when you all have been so amazingly supportive and patient. The continued bumps from everyone just overwhelm me. I've become completely stuck in the middle of this chapter though, and can't seem to move forward with it no matter what I try. Fortunately, someone has been wonderful enough to offer to beta for me, and hopefully, with her help, I'll be able to get this thing going again. I have the house to myself today with hours of quiet time on my hands, so I'm going to do my best to get some work done on it this afternoon. Everybody wish me luck! :D

Constance, I do apologize for keeping you waiting. Thanks for being so patient. Hopefully, I'll be able to give you that 'something' very soon. *happy* How did exams go btw?

Nic, you're so sweet to ask about me. I have gone MIA lately, but it's mostly because I've gotten involved in a new project. I'm helping to do promo art for 'Roswell: The Final Chapter', and I've hardly been able to tear myself away from my graphics program lately, lol. Everything is fine though. Thanks so much for asking. *hugs*

Sarah_helen, I actually hadn't realized CD wasn't accepting fics anymore . It had crossed my mind with the recent FF crisis, but I didn't know for sure. Now I guess this will go forever unfinished on their site. *sad* I'm so glad you found me over here though. Welcome! I hope to give you more to read soon. *happy*

Tigereyes, sorry to add to your cyber-bruises. Black and blue are good colors on you though. *wink* I'll try not to give you a reason to add to your collection in the future. *tongue*

6th rock, your posts always give me the warm fuzzies. How unbelievably flattering that my story can give you a pick-me-up on a bad day. You're so very sweet to say that. Thanks so much for the encouragement. hug

Sharmeen, no need for a detective. LOL. I'm right where I've always been. Here at home. Seemingly unable to write. *grimace* The fb rewards are surely tempting though. I'll see what I can do to earn them. *wink*

Heidi, congrats on your 300th post! *big* You're way ahead of me. I'd better get to feedbacking, huh? LOL. Thanks so much for all the bumps, chica. You know I love ya! prettykiss

And Mia, Lorastar, RosBaby, angeleyes, Razz, Ner, mandy, RoswellLady, Asabetha, and everyone else, thank you so much for the numerous bumps. You guys are just amazing, and I can't tell you how much it means to me knowing you're still hanging on here. I hope to reward you for that very soon. Although I don't know if you'll actually be able to consider the next part a 'reward'. LOL. Anyway, thanks so much guys! xoxoxox

If all goes well, I'll see you soon!
Sherry
posted on 17-Jul-2002 10:40:32 PM by Destinee
Hey, guys. I hope you know how wonderful I think you all are. Checking in with this thread is always like receiving a warm, friendly hug. Thank you all so much for being so incredibly patient and supportive. *hugs*

I'm really sorry for taking this long to update. I never imagined taking this long to write one small part, but I'm still just totally stuck at a certain point and can't seem to push through no matter which way I try to run it. I wanted to get the new part up earlier in the week, but I got tied up with a deadline on a graphics project I'm working on, and haven't had a chance to try and write. I'm planning to post the next chapter on Friday night whether I get it to the point I wanted to end at or not, so look for it then. Again, I really do apologize for the long delay. *sad*

Sharmeen, I appreciate the call you put out to my muse. LOL. Unfortunately, I think she's taken a permanent leave of absence. I'm conducting interviews for a new one, but so far no one seems up to the task. Apparently writers with 60-part fics who have taken a year and a half to write them are something of a challenge to inspire. I can't imagine why. *wink* I got a real kick out of your post. Thanks for the bump! *big*

ps_dreamer, I'm so glad you got a chance to catch up over here. Thanks for all the kind words. It's so encouraging to hear you say that the M/L/T argument was one of your favorite parts. I've always been afraid that part was a bit dry and long-ish. I really appreciate your comments. *happy*

Thanks so much for all the bumps everyone. I can't tell you how much it means to me to know that you're still waiting patiently. Love you guys! hearton
posted on 19-Jul-2002 9:56:30 PM by Destinee
Title: Strong, Dangerous, & Undeniable
Author: Destinee (smylee⊕playful.com)
Rating: PG-13
Category: Mainly M/L, with a little Mi/Ma, and a strong focus on Michael
Disclaimer: The characters in this story don't belong to me, as I'm sure you know. I'm just gently leading them where I'd like them to go. No infringement intended.
Spoilers: Up to, and including, Max In the City

Summary: When Liz saves Max from the Dupes in New York, it leads to some startling discoveries about her new-found alien powers. A mysterious new connection that has opened between her and Michael adds to the tension between Max and Liz as they work to overcome the obstacles presented by Future Max in order to be together.



Author's Note: You guys have done it again. Gone and made me feel all warm and fuzzy with all your bumps and expressions of excitement. I appreciate it more than I can tell you. Your posts always bring a smile to my face. Thanks so much!heartpump

I know I usually start a new thread for each new part, but I thought everyone might be looking here for the update so I decided to post on this thread. I hope that doesn't cause any confusion.

I want to give a huge and very special thank you to Mia for beta-reading this for me, and for all her advice and encouragement. You totally rock, chica! I'm sorry I couldn't manage to get much past the point where I left you, but hopefully I'll have more soon. Thanks again for all your help! *hugs

Sharmeen, I'm sorry to have missed you. *sad* I've been working on this since the moment I got home from work and still didn't manage to get to the point where I wanted to stop, so I just couldn't get it up any earlier. I'm sorry again. Hope you enjoy your road trip, and this will be waiting when you get back. *happy*

Juliet, I'm sorry to have missed you too. I hope you have a great time at the fair, and definitely enjoy Save Ferris. Tell me how they were when you get to come read 'kay? *big*

Tigereyes, it's good to see you, girl! Hope I didn't leave you hanging too long tonight. I've been working diligently, I promise. icon_smile_blush

I've edited Chapter 57 a bit and posted the revised version in place of the old one if anyone cares to go back and read. Nothing really major changed, except I did edit out the 'slimy green pod' comment, and I'll go ahead and post the last small bit of the chapter as a header for this one. I hope everyone enjoys, and I apologize sincerely for the long wait. Thanks again for all your encouragement and for bumping the thread. hug2






from Chapter 57

His own hands clenching into fists, Michael said with curt frustration, “Come on, Topolsky. You can’t tell us something like that and turn all basket-case on us again. If Liz is who you say she is, how’d she get here? I don’t think we would’ve overlooked an extra pod lying around,” he said sarcastically.

Whipping her head around, Liz said angrily to Michael, “Why are you even asking? It’s not true, it’s crazy! She’s crazy! It’s ridiculous to even listen to her!”

Max’s hands chaffed her arms soothingly, but it did little to calm the turmoil raging inside her. And Michael didn’t help either as he exclaimed insistently, “Liz, this could be the answer we’ve been looking for! If you would just take a minute to think about it–“

“No!” Liz cut him off abruptly. “I’m not going to think about it, because it’s stupid! Do you think I wouldn’t know if I’d hatched out of some pod as a newborn six-year-old? Do you think that’s something I would like, totally forget?!”

She was furiously aggrieved with Michael for even giving this credence. He was always so desperate for answers he was willing to listen to anything if he thought it might have something to do with their alien past. He had to know that everything in her was screaming in rejection of this, and still he encouraged Topolsky in the lunacy of it. It made her feel betrayed by him in some small way, on top of everything else.

“N-not a pod,” Topolsky said tonelessly, her voice husky and small. Her face was fully down-turned again, and she spoke to her fidgeting fingers quietly. “You– you were... different.”

“No! No, just stop it, okay?!” Liz demanded desperately. “None of what you’re saying is true!” she insisted, frantic to put a stop to any words that might make this sound feasible. There was just no way this was in any way possible. She was not an alien in disguise! She was Liz Parker. Boringly normal, fully human, smalltown girl. Just as she’d always been.

“Liz...maybe we should listen to what she has to say,” Max said a little uncertainly. He still wasn’t willing to put complete faith in Topolsky, but she just seemed to be so sincere about this. She looked small and defeated sitting there on the couch, and it was hard to believe she even had enough presence of mind to be plotting something deceitful. He couldn’t see what she could possibly gain by lying about this anyway. And if she was going to continue to talk freely, surely it couldn’t hurt to hear her out.

Jerking away from his gentle hold, Liz rounded on him, eyes wide with panic and betrayal. Feeling cornered and alone now in her disbelief, she wanted only to flee this insane proposition. “Fine. Listen, then! But I’m not hanging around to hear any more.”

Darting out of his reach when he stretched a hand out towards her, Liz turned swiftly to exit the apartment, irrationally thinking that if she could just run fast enough she could leave this suffocating feeling of inevitability behind.

But with only three feet left between Liz and the door, Topolsky said something that sealed her fate with an audible ‘zip’! Liz clearly heard its echo throughout her inner stillness as breath, blood, and heart ceased to function.

“Stop, Shaandreyah!”





Chapter 58


Liz halted as abruptly as if she’d slammed into an invisible wall, and after a moment of staggering silence, her heart suddenly began to beat again with a palpitating fierceness. Standing there frozen, her back to the room, she wanted desperately to deny that Topolsky had been addressing her. But even without looking, she was certain the woman had been.

She’d just called her by Rath’s sister’s name.

But what made it even more stunningly frightening was that it ripped through Liz with the force of an irrevocable truth.

Across the room, Michael’s reaction was almost identical. A rushing buzz had filled his head, and he swallowed hard, sure he couldn’t have heard Topolsky correctly. But at the same time, he felt as if he’d just been struck by a bolt of revelation.

Liz was his sister.

Though he’d been willing to believe in the possibility of her being an alien, he hadn’t thought the idea out to its logical conclusion. But this... this could explain everything– the connection, the thing with their energy, the fact that his powers felt more complete joined with hers.

How was that possible though, his confused thoughts argued. Why wouldn’t she have been sent with them in the pods if that were true?

“Dreyah?” he choked out uncertainly as his eyes darted from Topolsky to Liz, his voice only a rough imitation of his own.

Panic and something else bubbled in the pit of Liz’s stomach as she involuntarily shared all of Michael’s heaving emotions. Pivoting slowly to face the room, she met his gaze, her expression a classic illustration of the phrase ‘a deer caught in headlights’.

Shaking her head in denial, she said vehemently, “No. Don’t, Michael. Don’t–“ What? Believe this? Don’t get your hopes up? Don’t call me that? She wasn’t sure exactly what she was asking him not to do, she just knew she couldn’t bear to see the light of discovery shining in his eyes at that moment. “Just don’t, alright?” she repeated. “She doesn’t know what she’s saying!” she said desperately, her gaze urgently seeking out Max’s for reassurance.

Max caught her eyes and held them, but he was hard-pressed to muster up the assurances she was looking for. He’d been as stunned as she was to hear that name falling from Topolsky’s lips. Saying that Liz was an alien was one thing, but saying that she was someone who’d once been a member of their four-square made the idea sound even more incredible, and the very suggestion had thrown his thoughts into a tailspin.

All the things that had been happening the past couple of weeks rapidly began sifting through his mind. And put through the filter of this idea, that Liz was the mysterious Shaandreyah, it all began to make a weird kind of sense. It might even explain his own feeling of familiarity with her from the moment he’d first seen her. Of course, it wouldn’t explain why Michael hadn’t felt the same sense of recognition.

But as all these possibilities swirled through his mind, he struggled to think rationally for Liz’s sake. Her dark eyes seemed to be pleading with him to discount this, and while it gave his heart a small pang to see how forcefully opposed she was to the idea, it was just a wild idea at this point. One that, if it could possibly prove true, would be completely life-altering for her. Even more so than if she were merely going through some alien ‘changes’, and that had already turned her world upside down.

Which was why they needed to be absolutely certain before they added any more unnecessary turmoil to her life, he thought with another rush of protectiveness. After all, Topolsky wasn’t exactly what you’d call a credible source of information.

“Where’d you hear that name?” he asked the former agent tensely, his unyielding expression brooking no refusals to answer this time.

But it was a warning that apparently fell on deaf ears, because her gaze never lifted from her lap. Her only concession to a reply was a fleeting expression that spoke of bewilderment, and another of those peculiar twitch/shakes of her head.

Michael had his eyes fixed on Liz as if he’d never seen her before, his churning emotions clearly written on his face, but at Topolsky’s failure to answer, he pulled his gaze away to send a glance toward the couch.

“I told you, she’s an alien,” he said gruffly in answer to Max’s question. “She has to be. This proves it.”

“This doesn’t prove anything,” Tess countered sharply, for some reason feeling violently averse to what Topolsky was suggesting. “Except maybe that she’s been listening in on our conversations. She has been spying on us, remember?”

“Where would she have gotten the chance to overhear us talking about this?” Michael argued. “We only found out about Dreyah two days ago. It’s not like her name has been part of our everyday casual conversation. No, I’m telling you, she’s from our world,” he insisted. “It’s the only explanation that makes any sense.”

“Sense?” Liz echoed, her voice cracking. “Nothing you’ve said since you walked through that door has made any sense, Michael. I mean, first you’re ranting about her being this alien enemy out to get us, but now you’re ready to listen to whatever she says like it’s gospel or something!” she accused, angry at him for trying to validate this. His readiness to accept it as fact only increased her sense of feeling cornered, and lashing out at him was an instinctive reaction. A classic Michael defense mechanism, she supposed, but then, they might as well keep the behavioral responses all in the family, she thought with an edge of hysteria.

Stung by her unjustified anger when he’d been feeling almost buoyant over this revelation, Michael returned hotly, “You’re talking to me about not makin’ any sense? She’s offering us a reason here for all this stuff that’s been happening between us, and you’re shootin’ it down without even hearing what she has to say! Just because you don’t want to hear it doesn’t make it lies, alright?” he rebuked, easily cutting through to the heart of her reaction, and feeling more hurt than he cared to admit that she felt that way.

“Well, I don’t care whether I hear it or not, and I think it’s lies too,” Tess said in curt rejoinder, refusing to acknowledge the incongruousness of herself actually fighting on Liz’s side about anything right now.

“Really? You don’t care whether you hear it?” Michael repeated with sarcastic dubiousness. “Well that’s interesting, Tess, considering it might mean your spot in our four-square could actually belong to Liz if this is true,” he told her, nailing her unconscious motives as well, and causing her to falter.

Before either girl could form a retort, Max quickly intervened. It was hard to be the voice of reason when Michael’s last statement had sent his thoughts reeling again, but it was a role he stepped into automatically.

“Everybody just calm down,” he soothed gruffly. “We’re gonna get to the bottom of all this, but first we all just need to take a deep breath here. We aren’t gonna find out anything with everybody yelling like this.”

A single glance at Topolsky showed everyone that he was right. Hunched over in a fearful pose with her head turned sharply away from them, the disturbed woman was sitting with a hand clamped over her ear again, as if she were trying to shut out the sound of their tension, and her mouth was moving feverishly in sporadic whispers to herself.

As Liz shifted her gaze away from the distressed woman, she met Max’s eyes from across the room, and he noted that she was still poised in front of the door as though she were ready to bolt at any moment. The desperation he could see within the turbulent depths of her eyes suggested that she might do exactly that if she were given half a chance.

As he put his feet in motion to go to her, Michael’s words continued to ring inside his head. What if he was right, Max couldn’t help but speculate. What if this was all true, and Liz was supposed to be one of them instead of Tess? The implications of what that would mean in terms of his destiny and the end-of-the-world thing had his head spinning. But while this could be the perfect answer in the case of those things, it made him feel guilty for wishing it might be true when the idea apparently upset Liz so much. He felt another small stab of disquiet over her utter rejection of the whole thing, but he pushed it aside and concentrated on trying to ease the look of panic off her face. He could only imagine how confused she must be feeling by all this.

Reaching her, he looked into her eyes with an empathy that was only slightly tinted by the turmoil of his thoughts, and lifted a steadying hand to the crook of her neck. As his thumb gave a single soft stroke of the skin there he assured her huskily, “This is gonna be okay, Liz. I promise, no one is leaving here until we’re sure we have the truth, okay?”

Though her eyes clung fiercely to his, Liz wasn’t reassured by his promise as much as she should have been. She was afraid to examine that too closely, but she assured herself that it certainly wasn’t because there was any truth to this. The tiny voice whispering a reminder of that disturbing sense of finality that had swept through her earlier was easily buried beneath the tumult going on inside her. Because the idea that she was Michael’s long-lost alien sister was preposterous. There were about a million reasons why it couldn’t be so, and she clung to them. Believing anything else would mean a loss of everything she thought she knew about herself. Nothing would be certain. Not her past, not her future, not even who she was. And for someone who craved control and liked everything laid out in neat, hard facts, the thought of living in such complete uncertainty was an especially horrifying prospect.

She managed a tight nod in response to Max’s assurances, then allowed him to lead her back into the room, clinging tightly to his hand as though it were a lifeline.

When they passed in front of Michael, the tear of his emotions inside her became decidedly stronger, and Liz briefly met his gaze before looking away uncomfortably, a chorus of ‘this can’t be true, this is all a mistake’ running through her head like a mantra.

Broodingly, Michael watched her go. He told himself it didn’t, but her reaction to this rankled. Okay, so it was pretty out there. And it left a lot of questions open. But that didn’t mean it couldn’t be true. And now that the idea had been introduced, its amazing possibilities were whirling crazily through his head.

The thought that he had a sister who was alive and on this planet, and not only that, but who was someone already close to him that he’d come to care about...

This was true, it had to be, he thought adamantly. Not only would it explain the things with their powers, but it would explain his feelings towards her lately. He thought it was possible Liz might even share the same conviction. She just wasn’t letting herself see it.

Max and Liz approached Topolsky, who was still stooped over guardedly with a hand pressed to her ear. She glanced up at them from under her brows when they stood in front of her, but that was the only acknowledgement she gave their presence.

Max met Liz’s eyes and squeezed her hand reassuringly, then released it to lower himself in front of the older woman in imitation of Liz’s earlier pose. Topolsky shrank back from him a bit without looking at him, and Max found himself studying her averted face against his will.

He still wasn’t quite sure what to think about her. He wanted to be angry with her over what she had been, and still was, doing to Liz, but it was hard to hold on to hostility in the face of her seemingly genuine befuddlement and her obvious fear of them, and he couldn’t seem to help the slight softening he felt towards her each time she displayed them. Which still didn’t mean he trusted her, but it did make him a little more amenable to hearing what she had to say. More than that, he wanted to hear her out now. They couldn’t make an informed decision about whether this was even a remote possibility until they’d heard everything she had to say. The only question was, how much of what she was saying was real, and how much was pure delusion? And how were they supposed to tell the difference?

Tilting his head down to enter her line of sight, he said her name with quiet insistence, then waited while her hand slid down a few cautious inches from her ear and her eyes flickered in his direction.

Satisfied that she was listening, he went on. “Look, I promise no one here is going to hurt you, okay? But you have to talk to us. This is really important, Topolsky, so just– try and concentrate. Will you do that?”

Her eyes went from his face, to her lap, and back again in a tentatively gauging way, perhaps trying to assess his sincerity in promising her no harm. Then with a slight frown creasing her forehead, she blinked rapidly several times, as though she were trying to focus her vision, and Max got the impression that she was making an attempt to do as he said. Grudgingly, he granted her a point for cooperation.

“Okay, good. Now...tell us where you heard the name Shaandreyah,” he repeated, thinking that if he kept the questions simple, they would be easier for her to answer.

He began to think that theory was flawed though when Topolsky merely sat there frowningly, her eyes unfocused and searching.

Finally, she gave a small shake of her head, and answered as if it were obvious. “Antaar.”

The four teens exchanged a look amongst themselves, their expressions ranging from knowing to dismay.

“I knew it,” Michael muttered with grim satisfaction.

Liz tightened her arms around herself distressfully, while Tess voiced the denial she was doggedly holding on to herself.

“Just because she knows a couple of alien words doesn’t make her a native of the planet,” she snapped in objection, desperate to prove the woman false. There was just no way anything she was saying could be true. Because if there were, Tess was terribly afraid that what Michael had said about their four-square could be true as well. And if her place wasn’t here, with them, her only other option seemed to be with Khivaar. She knew she couldn’t possibly stand against him and Nicholas, and what they wanted from her if she were completely alone. Which was why this all just had to be a lie. Liz couldn’t be this person Topolsky was claiming she was. Tess felt her very life depended upon it.

It was perfectly apparent to Max that Tess didn’t want to believe in Topolsky, but he thought there was some wisdom in her words. This was too important for them to make assumptions. He wanted it straight from Topolsky’s mouth.

“You’re saying you heard that name on Antaar? You’re an alien then?” he prodded.

Topolsky darted a glance at him and then at the others, then her gaze seemed to bounce from point to point in the apartment before coming to land on Liz anxiously. Silently, she gave a quick, jerky nod of her head.

Liz sucked in a breath and looked away, her face set in lines of disquiet.

“Prove it!” Tess immediately challenged, unwilling to take her at her word.

Topolsky began wringing her hands and avoided looking in anyone’s direction. “I ca- I don’t...how?” she asked stumblingly, looking haggard and miserable.

Tess didn’t hesitate, saying, “If you’re an alien you must have powers, so how come you’re sitting here as our prisoner and haven’t tried anything– otherworldly to get away?” she questioned with undisguised skepticism. “Use your powers if you’re really an alien,” she demanded in challenge.

All eyes focused on Topolsky as they waited tensely for her response, and the subject of their scrutiny twitched agitatedly, lifting a hand to her ear, then taking it away again before it had time to settle. Her slowness to answer strained everyone’s already-thin patience, but her reply, when it finally came, was a disappointment. At least, to some it was.

“I can’t,” she declared hoarsely.

“Why not?” Tess asked, jumping on the words triumphantly.

While twisting her hands together anxiously in her lap, Topolsky’s lips moved without producing any sound for several seconds, then her brows pulled together distressfully, and she said again, “I can’t. Not now.”

“Why not now?!” Michael exploded, definitely a member of the disappointed faction over her failure to comply. He actually surprised himself with just how much he wanted her to be telling the truth. About everything.

Cringing at his tone, Topolsky nevertheless managed to reply. “N-no. Not now,” she repeated, placing special emphasis on the last word.

“Yeah. Not now. We heard you,” Michael threw back shortly. “But there’s never gonna be a better time than now, alright? So if you can do this, just do it already!” he demanded.

Topolsky’s hands clenched into fists, and she threw a look up at Liz, who was holding in her turmoil with an effort to remain stonily impassive.

Dropping her gaze, she gave a sharp twitch of her head and wearily said yet again, “I can’t.”

“So much for your alien theory,” Tess said, smug in her relief.

As Max looked at Topolsky speculatively, he wasn’t so sure that was true. She didn’t really seem as if she were trying to be uncooperative, or even that she was trying to put them off. In fact, it seemed to him like there was something else she was trying to tell them. She just wasn’t expressing herself very well.

Topolsky lifted her head and gave him a wavering look, as if sensing understanding, and Max asked her quietly, “Why can’t you do it now, Topolsky? What’s preventing you?”

He watched her visibly swallow, and she continued to eye him intermittently. “Th-they were...small. And– now, they’re gone,” she said cryptically, looking down at her open palms like she wasn’t sure they were her own.

Max lowered his brows in an instant of confused incomprehension. “What, you mean your powers?” he asked quizzically. “You’re saying you had some, but now they’re gone?”

Her nod of affirmation seemed almost grateful.

“How inconvenient of them,” Tess said with caustic dubiousness.

At Topolsky’s look of abashment, Michael admonished curtly, “Tess, shut up, alright? You’re not helping.”

Tess shot him a dirty look that went completely ignored by him, then tightened her lips mutely.

Max sighed and tried to ignore their back-biting. This suggestion had everyone in an upheaval and it was hard not to be affected by the undercurrents of tension in the room. They just needed to stay focused on Topolsky and on keeping her talking. She was the key here. Which was frustrating in itself. It was just so hard to know what to believe with her. She seemed to be trying so hard to tell them this, but it sounded so unlikely.

“Did Nacedo ever say anything about this to you?” he asked, swivelling his head to pose the question to Tess. “Is it possible for us to lose our powers?”

Tess shrugged stiffly and angled her chin in the air. “I don’t know,” she answered unhelpfully, not really giving it a moment’s thought.

Max continued to look at her steadily, and she squirmed under his silent regard. “I don’t know, Max, I swear!” she insisted defensively. “He never said anything.” Making a genuine effort to come up with an answer this time, she said grudgingly, “He did say our abilities stemmed from our cerebral cortex, so...I guess- if something were to happen to our brains, it might be possible for us to lose them.” Hating to endorse Topolsky’s story in any way, she added quickly, “But we don’t really know that. And if she doesn’t have any powers, don’t you think it’s more likely she just never had them to begin with?”

With nothing to back up her claims, it did seem pretty questionable, Max silently acknowledged. But if there was a possibility it could be true, they couldn’t rule it out entirely.

Before anyone had a chance to either agree or disagree with Tess, Topolsky said quietly, “I knew you wouldn’t believe.” Scraping intently at one of her palms with the opposite thumbnail, she muttered, “Nobody ever believes. Nobody. They should have...they- should’ve told. They knew how important... but they lied. All lies!” Her tone was low and irate, and the actions of her hands became disturbingly violent as the repetitive scratching of her nail began raising thin welts of blood on her palm. But before any of the others had time to notice what she was doing, Topolsky had enclosed the evidence of her outburst within a tight fist.

“You keep saying ‘they’. Who’s they?” Michael asked impatiently, recalling how she’d said that earlier. That ‘they’ were supposed to tell Liz.

But instead of answering him, Topolsky said, “You don’t believe me, but I know. I knew you then– Rath and Zan. And Avaana...I knew Vilaandra.” Looking up from her preoccupation with her closed fist, she fixed Liz with another of those direct looks that made her go cold all over. “And I knew you, Shaandreyah.”

That earlier sense of suffocation came back to fist itself around Liz’s chest, as she once again found herself trapped within Topolsky’s gaze.

“Don’t call me that,” Liz protested, though it emerged as barely a whisper.

Topolsky’s uninjured hand rubbed anxiously at the fist of the other, but she continued on with hoarse insistence. “You are. I-I brought you here. I know,” she declared shockingly.

The tightness around Liz’s chest slowly crept up to squeeze her by the throat, making it harder and harder for her to breathe. Shaking her head reflexively, her wide-eyed gaze flew towards Max, then Michael, as she tried not to let Topolsky’s words shake her.

“I don’t believe you,” she croaked, rejecting the woman’s words.

Topolsky’s eyes were locked on Liz’s with a feverish intensity that could’ve meant she believed what she was saying and was trying to make Liz listen, or that she was just spouting delirious ramblings. Either way, the fervid look was disturbing.

Leaning forward in her set, she said in near-urgency, “Your pod...it-- I-it wasn’t.. made true. Someone we trusted was–“ She struggled to find the word she was looking for. “Was- weak. He almost ruined the whole plan. But.. he- his deeds were discovered in time. You were- recovered. And the queen sent me to... here- to Earth. To bring you to...” she gestured toward the others with a vague hand, “The ones who love you. The ones who need you– to fulfill the hope of our worlds.” As if the short speech had wearied her, she sank back against the couch cushions, but she didn’t take her eyes off of Liz’s pale face.

Liz stared back at her with a slightly stricken expression, her perfect outer stillness utterly belying the chaos that was raging inside of her. She seemed to know so much about the aliens’ history, Liz thought apprehensively, the acknowledgement like a noose tightening around her neck. She knew their names, she knew about the pods, and the reason they were sent to Earth... but the rest had to be pure fantasy, or- or some kind of mix-up or something. After all, the woman had serious sanity issues. And just because she had a few facts rattling around in her head, that didn’t mean she had everything straight.

But while Liz desperately tried to tell herself those things, it was becoming increasingly harder to hold on to that conviction. Especially when Topolsky’s words were having the complete opposite effect on Michael. What she was saying was only strengthening his belief in the truth of all this, and Liz could feel his growing certainty weaving itself insistently around her own churning thoughts. His tangled emotions also seemed to be right there amongst her own, intensifying the level of her turmoil. But none of that was because she was his sister, she assured herself weakly. And that small answering curl of emotion she felt when she looked into the stormy hazel eyes locked with her own was not a new sense of recognition either.

Panicking anew at the immutable sensation, she swung her gaze back to Topolsky to charge tightly, “You’re making everything confused! And you’re wrong! If you brought someone here it was not me,” she insisted, forcing the words out past the restriction in her throat.

Frowning anxiously, Topolsky threw a look at the others before saying uncertainly, “No. But... you are her. You- have the powers to prove it. I-I’ve seen them.” She paused for a moment, seeming to doubt herself as she dropped her gaze in confusion, but then she nodded her head and said again, “I’ve seen them. They were a-asleep– in you...but Max awoke them. Just as we hoped.”

Max and Liz considered one another in disconcertment upon hearing that.

Was that possible, Max wondered, his thoughts spinning rapidly. Could Liz really have had a dormant power inside her all along, and he’d only brought it to life?

The looked that passed between them made Topolsky hesitate, but then she said once more, to assure herself, if no one else, “I’ve seen them. I’ve seen them together with Ra– M-Michael’s. They’re the same as before. You are Shaandreyah, Liz. You have to remember now,” she almost pled. “You were born as twins– y-you and Rath. On the planet Soltaar. Your parents were Shri and–“ her forehead wrinkled in concentration, “And Juraath Te’Keiryen. The two of you...your- abilities were- complete together. Balanced. I-it made you very special. Very... very powerful. And you grew to be– great Protectorates. Some of the strongest our worlds had ever seen.” She paused and looked up at Liz proddingly, as if to say ‘Don’t you remember?’

But Liz wasn’t looking at her. She wasn’t really looking at anything. Dizziness had assailed her, and she couldn’t seem to draw in enough air. There had been a vague familiarity about Topolsky’s words that had struck a chord somewhere deep inside her, and the knowledge had left Liz reeling.

It was Michael’s response she felt, she wildly tried telling herself, her eyes looking for his for confirmation. But it wasn’t confirmation she saw in his gaze when she found it.

Michael was staring back at her, stunned by what Topolsky had said, but utterly certain that he’d just heard the sketchy details of his other life. Their other life, he corrected himself wonderingly. This was real. Liz couldn’t deny it now, his eyes fiercely proclaimed.

They were twins. Whose powers worked together to make them powerful. He’d been saying ever since this thing started that his powers felt more complete with Liz’s. There was no way Topolsky could’ve known that if this wasn’t real.

“What’s a Protectorate?” he asked Topolsky, wholly convinced now of her legitimacy, and hungry for every detail she could give him.

Topolsky glanced at him warily and opened her mouth to answer, but closed it again when words seemed to elude her. Rubbing at her forehead in a gesture of weariness, she said slowly, “It’s- a... protector. O-of the Granolith.”

Michael’s brows went up in mild surprise, but the answer settled in on him with a rightness he felt down to his bones. He’d sensed something in the Granolith, something that had nagged at him and had renewed his sense of purpose in their mission here the moment Isabel had showed it to them. Now he knew why.

Tess shook her head abruptly. Thinking she’d found a flaw in Topolsky’s story, she pounced on it, saying, “Rath was Zan’s protector. His second in command. No one’s ever said anything to us about him protecting the Granolith.”

Uncertainty overtook Topolsky’s features once again, and her gaze turned inward in groping confusion. As if she were only feeling her way through her memories, she said falteringly, “That... came later. He was– he was both.”

“Then why hasn’t anyone else ever told us that?” Tess demanded.

“I-I don’t know,” Topolsky answered helplessly, her arms finding their way around her middle again to hold herself tightly in the face of Tess’ truculence.

“Come on, Tess, back off. She’s tellin’ the truth,” Michael said in Topolsky’s defense. His eyes snapping with suppressed excitement, he looked at Max and said meaningfully, “Everything she’s sayin’ about us...it’s all true.”

Max’s lips parted soundlessly as he looked at Michael searchingly, but before he could question him, Michael said emphatically, “I feel it, Maxwell.”

Without waiting for Max’s response, his gaze skipped over to Liz expectantly. He wasn’t sure exactly what he was expecting. Maybe not a hearty ‘welcome to the family!’, but he’d thought he might at least find a pale glimmer of the giddy sense of discovery he was feeling. But he found neither of those. Instead, Liz was looking at him in mute appeal, as if she were silently begging him to take his words back or something, and he realized with a flash of wounded ire that she was still trying to deny this, in spite of what their instincts were telling them. When she physically confirmed it with a numb shake of her head, his jaw tautened at her blind avoidance.

“This is true, Liz,” he declared, his voice low and unyielding. “You feel it, the same as I do. I know you do,” he said forcefully, refusing to let her hide from the truth he could feel coursing through her as distinctly as he felt it in himself. “So stop running from it and just deal,” he commanded sternly.

Troubled conflict creasing her brow, Liz’s eyes clashed with the stormy demand in his. His insistence that she admit her feelings matched his own was like a physical force pressing in on her, but she couldn’t give in to it. Logic and instinct were warring within her, and while she couldn’t deny that Topolsky’s story had stirred some vague feeling of affinity inside her, she also knew that she’d had a normal human birth. And even if Dreyah’s inception hadn’t taken place in a pod, she couldn’t have been born from Nancy Parker’s womb either, and that was a piece of reality Liz clung to. It was fact. Facts were solid and indisputable. And relying on logic and facts was an act of familiarity that brought comfort in the midst of all the clamoring emotions that were pulling at her from the inside.

“I’m not running from it,” she contradicted. “I just don’t believe it can be true.” Michael’s eyes flashed irately, but she thought she saw a glint of hurt betrayal there as well, adding guilt to her emotional upheaval. Defensively, she said, “I’m sorry, Michael. I know you want it to be, because you wish- your sister could be this close at hand. But I’m not her,” she said with heavy emphasis. “I can’t be her. I’ve seen my birth certificate. I’ve seen pictures, from when I was born in the hospital. I’ve even seen what my blood cells look like. I’m human,” she insisted, her tone seeming to ask how anyone could believe anything else in the face of all the evidence. “So I can’t be your hybrid sister,” she said logically.

A muscle worked in Michael’s jaw as he stared her down angrily. He was sure that deep down she knew this was true, she just didn’t want it to be, and he couldn’t help but feel that as a personal rejection. This was something he’d found he really wanted- she was right about that much- but she was acting like it would be a fate worse than death to her.. How could he not take that personally?

“Which part of that is it you object to so much, Liz?” he questioned stonily. “The sister part, or the part about being a hybrid?”


TBC


~~~~~~~~~~~

I know that's a horrible place to stop, but like I said earlier, I just can't seem to push past this part. I'd like to tell you I'm going to keep working on it and might possibly post- at the very least- the conclusion I wanted for this chapter within the next few days or so, but since I'm having so much trouble with it, I can't promise that. I will be working at it though, and hopefully I can surprise you and me both. LOL. Hope you enjoyed! *happy*

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 19-Jul-2002 10:30:58 PM ]
posted on 19-Jul-2002 10:18:06 PM by Destinee
Heidi, I missed your post! Looks like we've still got the psychic thing going strong, huh? LOL. Hope you enjoyed your bedtime story. *wink* Love the bunny slippers! Got any of that popcorn left? *big*
posted on 25-Aug-2002 6:01:25 PM by Destinee
Hey, guys. I know I'm absolutely horrible for letting your wonderful feedback go unanswered for this long. :( I put off replying at first because I wanted to be able to bring a new part the next time I posted, but that just hasn't panned out. I do plan to come back and answer each and every one of your fantastic comments, but for right now I just wanted to let you know where I was with this.

I've been going through a bit of a writing crisis lately, which, as you know, has been going on for quite awhile now, but this time I seem to have come to a complete halt with this fic. I literally can't get past the point where I left off this last chapter. I've written and scrapped various responses to that final question of Michael's, but nothing I come up with gets the dialogue moving. I know where I want the chapter to end, but I just can't seem to find a way to get there. A couple of weeks ago when I went on vacation I even printed the fic out to read all the way through in the hopes of getting it flowing again, but I couldn't get into the plot for seeing all the editing mistakes I wanted to correct. I was actually thinking the thing was pretty bad, which was pretty depressing, lol. In all honesty, I really wasn't sure I was going to be able to finish it at all. I've been struggling with writing it for well over 6 months now, and sad to say, it's become more of a chore to write rather than a pleasure lately. The only thing that has kept me forging ahead is that I don't want to leave you all hanging, and I want to get this completed. I do have the ending pictured in my head, but like I said, it's just the writing mechanics that are giving me such difficulty.

I guess this sounds like I'm informing you guys that I'm giving up on it, but I'm actually not ready to do that yet. I've been thinking that I just need to find the enjoyment I used to take in writing again, and hopefully I am on the track of doing that. This past week I've gotten several ideas for new fics that I think I might try to follow through on, and one of them is even the sequel I had planned to follow this one. I looked over the notes I had made several months ago outlining what I had planned and got really excited about writing it. I've even written a little on a beginning for it, so hopefully if I can get the future plot-line moving, I'll be able to finish out SD&U to connect them. I'd also like to write a few two- or three-parters (so I can actually see what it feels like to finish one, lol), and think I might write a short wedding/honeymoon piece for M/L in the near-future if all goes well.

In short, (although I guess it's a little too late for that now, considering how long this post is, lol), I guess I just wanted to apologize for once again making you wait, and to ask you not to give up on me yet. I know I haven't been anywhere close to being a model writer and you guys must be getting pretty frustrated with the slow-going pace you've had to endure with this fic, but I truly am working on getting all my block issues worked out. I can't begin to tell you how very much I appreciate your patience thus far, and all your feedback for this story has been so amazingly supportive and encouraging that I've been overwhelmed and humbled in turn. I really do love you guys for being so wonderful. I couldn't have found a better support group anywhere. {{hugs}}

I wish I could pound out the conclusion to this fic for you in one long sitting, but barring that, Max, Liz, and Michael will find their way to the end, it just may take a short while longer. I hope you won't give up hope on them, because I'm not ready to give them up yet either. *happy*

I hope to see you soon with new fanfic in hand. *tongue*
Wish me luck!

xoxoxoxo

~Sherry

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 25-Aug-2002 7:48:55 PM ]
posted on 27-Sep-2002 5:00:11 AM by Destinee
Gosh, you guys are beyond amazing! I hate to come back and have to report that I don't have any definite news about updates, but I feel terrible about not responding to all your wonderful feedback before now. I've been busy with various graphics projects the past several weeks and I just kind of lost track of things. I'm sorry about that. *sad*

Anyway, I thought I'd let you know where I am with the writing. I've made a small start on several different fics, and I think that's really been good to get the writing flowing again. However even when it's flowing it doesn't seem to come very fast. That slow thing seems to be something I can't quite shake, lol. I've been rereading SD&U bit by bit over the past couple of weeks and am trying to psyche myself up to take it on again. I'm hoping I might get a chance to work on it this weekend, but I'm not sure I'll have the free time. If not, I definitely plan to get started on it again next week. I'm not sure how quickly I'll be able to get anything out on it, but I'll do my best to get something posted in the very near future. Hopefully in the next couple of weeks at the latest if all goes well.

You guys are just terribly sweet to reassure me so emphatically that you've found the fic enjoyable, and I'm so grateful for all your kind comments. Reading through them is like receiving a warm hug from friends and I just want to thank you again for all your encouragement. ezpi_heartbeating

This post is probably going to be enormous, but I just have to make some individual responses. Hope you'll behr with me here. *happy*

Liz, it was so wonderful to see you here! I've so missed chatting with you. I've kept meaning to send you an email, but just haven't found the time. It is on my list of to-do's though, lol. Thanks so much for your offer of help. It's so sweet of you, and I'll definitely keep it in mind. {{hugs}}

Constance, girl, you are amazing! kiss I can't tell you how much I appreciate the countless bumps. And you're so sweet to say that you'd follow any other fics I might write. I don't really plan to post anything else until I have a good deal of it written (don't want to get stuck like this again), but I'll be sure to let you know when I do. Sorry to worry you with my absence. I hope school is going well for you, and thanks again for checking in so often.

Tim, I so appreciate your offer of an outside opinion. I've been trying not to even think about the point where I left off in the hopes of coming back to it 'fresh', so when I tackle it again I just might take you up on it if you're still willing. Thanks so much for all your kind words! *happy*

Shelly and Amanda, you guys are wonderful to offer me your help too. I'm really overwhelmed by the fantastic support you all have given me. Don't be surprised if I give you a yell sometime soon, assuming your offers are still open, but even if I don't I wanted to thank you just for extending them. {{hugs}}

Phyl! It was terrific seeing you over here too, chica! I've missed you bunches on FF. Your compliments on my writing skills left me blushing. You know I think the very same about yours, right? And I really appreciate your patience with this story. Hope to catch up with you soon!

6th rock, you're always so great to me! My sincerest thanks for all your encouraging words. {{hugs}} How's the writing coming on your fic? I'd love to read some of it if you still wanted to send some over. An exchange of ideas would really be great if that was what you had in mind. You can email me at smylee⊕playful.com . I'd love hearing from you. *happy*

Ner, I'm extremely flattered to hear that you've read this fic through so many times. icon_smile_blush Thank you so much for all the sweet compliments. I appreciate you being so patient, and I hope you continue to enjoy it if I can ever make some headway with it again, lol.

Heidi, what can I say that I haven't already said? Your support has been out of this world and it really means a lot to me. I can't thank you enough for all the glowing comments and endless encouragement. And I take it as a high compliment that I've given you motivation to begin writing. When you do start posting that fic of yours (which I'm sure will be amazing) you can count on me to cheer you on along the way. Luv ya, chica! hug2

Tigereyes, thanks for being so very sweet. {{hugs}} I appreciate the pep talk more than you know. I hadn't meant to be hard on myself, but I have to admit that's something I'm good at, lol. Wish it were that easy to whip Ms. Muse into shape, but she's an ornery one. Mind if I call on you to twist her arm a few times? *big*

Mia, thank you for believing in me and for trying to make me feel better over all my block issues. I'm so flattered that you count this fic as one of your faves, and you're such sweetheart to thank me for writing it. Thank you for all your help and for being such loyal reader. I appreciate you, girlfriend! heartpump

Tamira, I appreciate your fb, and I take it as a compliment that you've read SD&U more than once. Sorry for the long wait on the updates. Thanks for being so patient. *happy*

Juliet, thanks so much for all the bumps. I appreciate you hanging in there. I'm not sure about S3 having something to do with my loss of writing enjoymen. I actually think S2 did more damage to my psyche, lol. And of course, lack of a S4 might have something to do with it too. *sad* S1 reruns will keep us going though, right?

Nic, you're so sweet to worry about me, and I'm sorry to take so long between posts. I can only offer the excuse that I'm a procrastinator by nature, and having no good news to report only makes me more so. LOL. Your comments on the fic were incredibly warming and I appreciate them immensely. Hopefully I'll have a new part to offer you very soon. *happy*

Sarah helen, I'm so flattered that you tracked my fic down here after reading it at the CD site. I'm so sorry to leave you hanging, but again, really flattered that you missed it so.sprachlos036 Thanks so very much for your patience and encouragement.

May, so great seeing you here! Thanks for all the kind words. And the advice to keep cherishing was sound too. I think my absence from there might honestly have had something to do with my lack of inspiration. Thanks for the fb and good luck with your own writing! *happy*

Nicole, hey, girl! Loved having you drop by. Thanks a bunch for the sweet comments and well-wishes. It's a real compliment coming from an author I so admire. *happy*

Angeleyes, what a sweet compliment. Thank you! liebe016

Roswellady, mandy, Rosbaby, Razz, Mia, Juliet, Heidi, and Constance many, many thanks for the numerous bumps. It keeps my goal of completing this in sight to know that none of you have given up on it. You guys totally rock!

And for anyone else I didn't mention by name, I appreciate your feedback tremendously. It truly is humbling to see all of you respond to this fic so favorably, and you all are just awesome to show such patience and constant support. Thanks again, everyone. I hope to be able to reward your patience very soon.

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 27-Sep-2002 5:07:37 AM ]
posted on 22-Dec-2002 11:17:30 PM by Destinee
Hey, guys. I'm so terribly sorry to disappear on you the way I have. I can hardly believe how long it's been since I last posted (and even longer since I updated *sad*), but I've just had a million things going on. Helping with the fanatics fundraising calendar and the fanfic awards kept me super busy for awhile, and for months I've been wrestling with computer problems like you wouldn't believe, the worst being when I fried my hard drive and lost all my recent work- including all the new stories I had started writing. *sad* That kind of set back the writing for awhile. And like Heidi mentioned, we had an ice storm come through here a couple of weeks ago, and had no electricity or running water for an entire week. (How on EARTH did the pioneers do it anyway? LOL)

So anyway, it seems to have been one thing after another lately, but believe me when I say I have made dozens upon dozens of attempts to further this story. There's hardly been a day when I haven't run through the current scene in my head and tried to push forward with it, but I still haven't made a whole lot of head way. Do you have any idea how many times a person can repeat the same conversation in their head before they go stark ravingly bonkers btw? LOL. Fortunately I haven't QUITE reached that point yet, but I have been pushed to the point of screaming frustration quite a few times, lol. It's not completely hopeless because I do think I've almost managed to get to the conclusion for the last chapter that I really wanted to reach, and although it's not really much in the way of an update, I'm hoping to be able to post it sometime in the next few days. I'm going to go work on it as soon as I get done here, so hopefully I'll be able to keep my word this time. *blush*

You guys have been absolutely amazing to keep hanging on this long, and I can't even express how much it means to me that you've bumped this so often.

Heidi, what would I ever do without you? You just complete me, girlfriend. *big* Thank you so much for checking in so often and for letting everyone know where I'd gotten off too. You never fail to keep my spirits up. {{hugs}}

Constance, I'm so sorry I had you worried, chica. I know it was terrible of me to stay away so long, but I guess I kept procrastinating because I still didn't have an update to post, and didn't really have any good news about when I might have one. I so appreciate all the bumps and encouragement though. You've just been totally awesome. ezpi_heartbeating

Saymi, RosBaby, Sara helen, Max and Liz believer, and everyone else who's been so faithful about bumping, I appreciate you guys more than I can say, and I'm really, really hoping I'll be able to reward your diligence soon. I'm truly sorry it's taken so long, but I haven't given up trying. And it keeps me going on to know that you all haven't given up either. *happy*

Love you guys alot, and I hope to be back soon with a few new paragraphs for this that don't absolutely stink. LOL


Sherry
posted on 3-Jan-2003 2:44:31 AM by Destinee
Okay, did I say before that I would have something to post within a matter of days? Um, I'm sure I really meant to say 'weeks'. A matter of weeks. *tongue*

No, honestly, I did think I was close to drawing this chapter to the conclusion I wanted, but it seemed the closer I got, the slower it came to me. This struggle to find the words I want is purely the pits. *sad* But anyway, here it is. Like I said, it's not really that much in the way of new material, but I'm sincerely hoping that now that I've gotten past this part I've been stuck on forever, I might have an easier time with the rest of it.

Before I post the update, I have a couple of gorgeous banners to post, and I wanted to say a very belated thank you to everyone for voted for this story in the Fanatics fanfic awards. I was completely blown away when I found out SD&U had won for the Best PG Rated Fic, and I can't tell you how thrilling it is to know that you guys have enjoyed it that much. I'm always astounded at the amount of feedback I get on it, and to win an award for it when it's the first fanfic I've ever written is just an unbelievable honor. I can't ever thank you guys enough for making this whole journey such an exciting experience for me, and I just wanted you to know that I won't ever give up on bringing it to its final conclusion, and I so appreciate all your patience with me. You all are just the greatest. {{hugs}}

I haven't actually gotten the banner yet for the PG category, but I also got runner up for Best Portrayal of Michael, and I do have the banner for that.

runnerup-vi

I was almost as tickled over this one as I was to win the PG Fic I think, lol. I had no plans in the beginning to make Michael such a primary character in this fic, but he kind of took on a life of his own, and quickly became a character dear to my heart. I'm thrilled that so many of you like him too. *happy*

I also have a wonderful new banner for the story that It Was You made me. I've had it for months now and have been dying to post it, but was waiting until I could update.

SDUbanner-vi

Isn't it amazing? Thanks so much for making it for me, Heidi. It's just perfect and I love it! hug

Okay, sorry to blab so long. I just had a lot stored up to say, lol. I wasn't sure how to post the update without making it confusing, but since I've made a few edits on the first part of the chapter, I decided to just post the whole thing again. I'm posting it in two parts due to length, so if you want to just get to the newly written part you might want to just jump on down to the second post. Hope you guys like it, and I'm going to do my very best to get another part out soon.

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 3-Jan-2003 8:52:31 AM ]
posted on 3-Jan-2003 3:04:22 AM by Destinee
Note: I forgot to tell you that I wish you all the very best of New Years! *happy* Constance and Max and Liz Believer, thanks for your well wishes for the year too. *hugs*

And Nicki, thanks for the sympathy over the power outage. It was a pretty horrifying week. LOL



Chapter 58


Liz halted as abruptly as if she’d slammed into an invisible wall, and after a moment of staggering silence, her heart suddenly began to beat again with a palpitating fierceness. Standing there frozen with her back to the room, she wanted desperately to deny that Topolsky had been addressing her. But even without looking, she was certain the woman had been.

She’d just called her by Rath’s sister’s name.

But what made it even more stunningly frightening was that it ripped through Liz with the force of an irrevocable truth.

Across the room, Michael’s reaction was almost identical. A rushing buzz had filled his head, and he swallowed hard, sure he couldn’t have heard Topolsky correctly. But at the same time, he felt as if he’d just been struck by a bolt of revelation.

Liz was his sister.

Though he’d been willing to believe in the possibility of her being an alien, he hadn’t thought the idea out to its logical conclusion. But this... this could explain everything– the connection, the thing with their energy, the fact that his powers felt more complete joined with hers.

How was that possible though, his confused thoughts argued. Why wouldn’t she have been sent with them in the pods if that were true?

“Dreyah?” he choked out uncertainly as his eyes darted between Topolsky and Liz, his voice only a rough imitation of his own.

Panic and something else bubbled up from the pit of Liz’s stomach as she involuntarily shared Michael’s heaving emotions. Pivoting slowly to face the room, she met his stunned gaze, her expression a classic illustration of the phrase ‘a deer caught in headlights’.

Shaking her head in denial, she choked out vehemently, “No. Don’t, Michael. Don’t–“ What? Believe this? Don’t get your hopes up? Don’t call me that? She wasn’t sure exactly what she was asking him not to do, she just knew she couldn’t bear to see the light of discovery shining in his eyes at that moment. “Just don’t, alright?” she repeated. “She doesn’t know what she’s saying!” she said desperately, her gaze urgently seeking out Max’s for reassurance.

Max caught her eyes and held them, but he was hard-pressed to muster up the assurances she was looking for. He’d been as dumbfounded as she was to hear that name falling from Topolsky’s lips. Saying that Liz was an alien was one thing, but saying that she was someone who’d once been a member of their four-square made the idea sound even more incredible, and the very suggestion had thrown his thoughts into a tailspin.

All the things that had been happening the past couple of weeks rapidly began sifting through his mind. And put through the filter of this idea, that Liz was the mysterious Shaandreyah, it all began to make a weird kind of sense. It might even explain his own feeling of familiarity with her from the moment he’d first seen her. Of course, it wouldn’t explain why Michael hadn’t felt the same sense of recognition.

But as all these possibilities swirled through his mind, he struggled to think rationally for Liz’s sake. Her dark eyes seemed to be pleading with him to discount this, and while it gave his heart a small pang to see how forcefully opposed she was to the idea, it was just a wild idea at this point. One that, if it could possibly prove true, would be completely life-altering for her. Even more so than if she were merely going through some alien ‘changes’, and that had already turned her world upside down.

Which was why they needed to be absolutely certain before they added any more unnecessary turmoil to her life, he thought with another rush of protectiveness. After all, Topolsky wasn’t exactly what you’d call a credible source of information.

“Where’d you hear that name?” he asked the former agent tensely, his stern expression brooking no refusals to answer this time.

But it was a warning that apparently fell on deaf ears, because her eyes never lifted from her lap. Her only reply was a fleeting expression that spoke of bewilderment, and another of those peculiar twitch/shakes of her head.

Michael had his eyes fixed on Liz as if he’d never seen her before, his churning emotions written across his face, but at Topolsky’s failure to answer, he pulled his gaze away to send a glance toward the couch.

“I told you, she’s an alien,” he said gruffly in answer to Max’s question. “She has to be. This proves it.”

“This doesn’t prove anything,” Tess countered sharply, for some reason feeling violently averse to what Topolsky was suggesting. “Except maybe that she’s been listening in on our conversations. She has been spying on us, remember?”

“Where would she have gotten the chance to overhear us talking about this?” Michael argued. “We only found out about Dreyah two days ago. It’s not like her name has been part of our everyday casual conversation. I’m telling you, she’s from our world,” he insisted. “It’s the only explanation that makes any sense.”

“Sense?” Liz echoed, her voice cracking. “Nothing you’ve said since you walked through that door has made any sense, Michael. I mean, first you’re ranting about her being this alien enemy out to get us, but now you’re ready to listen to whatever she says like it’s gospel!” she accused, angry at him for trying to validate this. His readiness to accept it as fact only increased her sense of feeling cornered, and lashing out at him was an instinctive reaction. A classic Michael defense mechanism, she supposed, but hey, they might as well keep the behavioral responses all in the family, she thought with an edge of hysteria.

Stung by her unjustified anger, Michael returned hotly, “You’re talking to me about not makin’ any sense? She’s offering us a reason here for all this stuff that’s been happening between us, and you’re shootin’ it down without even hearing what she has to say! Just because you don’t want to hear it doesn’t make it lies, alright?” he rebuked, easily cutting through to the heart of her reaction, and feeling more hurt than he cared to admit that she felt that way.

“Well, I don’t care whether I hear it or not, and I think it’s lies too,” Tess said in curt rejoinder, refusing to acknowledge the incongruousness of herself actually fighting on Liz’s side about anything right now.

“Really? You don’t care whether you hear it?” Michael repeated with sarcastic dubiousness. “Well that’s interesting, Tess, considering it might mean your spot in our four-square could actually belong to Liz if this is true,” he told her, nailing her unconscious motives as well, and causing her to falter.

Before either girl could form a retort, Max quickly intervened. It was hard to be the voice of reason when Michael’s last statement had sent his thoughts reeling again, but it was a role he stepped into automatically.

“Everybody just calm down,” he soothed gruffly. “We’re going to get to the bottom of all this, but first we all just need to take a deep breath. We aren’t going to find out anything with everybody yelling like this.”

A single glance at Topolsky showed everyone that he was right. Hunched over in a fearful pose, the disturbed woman was sitting with a hand clamped over her ear again as if she were trying to shut out the sound of their tension, and her mouth was moving feverishly in sporadic whispers to herself.

As Liz shifted her gaze away from the distressed woman, she met Max’s eyes from across the room, and he noted that she was still poised in front of the door as though she were ready to bolt at any moment. The desperation he could see within the turbulent depths of her eyes suggested that she might do exactly that if she were given half a chance.

As he put his feet in motion to go to her, Michael’s words continued to ring inside his head. What if he was right, Max couldn’t help but speculate. What if this was all true, and Liz was supposed to be one of them instead of Tess? The implications of what that would mean in terms of his destiny and the end-of-the-world thing had his head spinning. But while this could be the perfect answer in the case of those things, it made him feel guilty for wishing it might be true when the idea apparently upset Liz so much. He felt another small stab of disquiet over her utter rejection of the whole thing, but he pushed it aside and concentrated on trying to ease the look of panic off her face. He could only imagine how confused she must be feeling by all this.

When he reached her, he looked into her eyes with an empathy that was only slightly tinted by the turmoil of his thoughts, and lifted a steadying hand to the crook of her neck. As his thumb gave a single soft stroke of the skin there he assured her huskily, “This is gonna be okay, Liz. I promise, no one is leaving here until we’re sure we have the truth, okay?”

Though her eyes clung fiercely to his, Liz wasn’t reassured by his promise as much as she should have been. She was afraid to examine that too closely, but she assured herself that it certainly wasn’t because there was any truth to this. The tiny voice whispering a reminder of that disturbing sense of finality that had swept through her earlier was easily buried beneath the tumult going on inside her. Because the idea that she was Michael’s long-lost alien sister was preposterous. There were about a million reasons why it couldn’t be so, and she clung to every one of them. Believing anything else would mean a loss of everything she thought she knew about herself. Nothing would be certain. Not her past, not her future, not even who she was. And for someone who craved control and liked everything laid out in neat, hard facts, the thought of living with such complete uncertainty was an especially horrifying prospect.

She managed a tight nod in response to Max’s assurances, then allowed him to lead her back into the room, clinging tightly to his hand as though it were a lifeline.

When they passed in front of Michael, the tear of his emotions inside her became decidedly stronger, and Liz briefly met his gaze before looking away uncomfortably, a chorus of ‘this can’t be true, this is all a mistake’ running through her head like a mantra.

Broodingly, Michael watched her go. He told himself it didn’t, but her reaction to this rankled. Okay, so it was pretty out there. And it left a lot of questions open. But that didn’t mean it couldn’t be true. And now that the idea had been introduced, its amazing possibilities were whirling through his head.

The thought that he had a sister who was alive and on this planet, and not only that, but who was someone already close to him that he’d come to care about...

This was true, it had to be, he thought adamantly. Not only would it explain the things with their powers, but it would explain his feelings towards her lately. He thought it was possible Liz might even share the same conviction. She just wasn’t letting herself see it.

Max and Liz approached Topolsky, who was still stooped over guardedly with a hand pressed to her ear. She glanced up at them from under her brows when they stood in front of her, but that was the only acknowledgement she gave their presence.

Max met Liz’s eyes and squeezed her hand reassuringly, then released it to lower himself in front of the older woman in imitation of Liz’s earlier pose. Topolsky shrank back from him a bit without looking at him, and Max found himself studying her averted face against his will.

He still wasn’t quite sure what to think about her. He wanted to be angry with her over what she had been, and still was, doing to Liz, but it was hard to hold on to hostility in the face of her seemingly genuine befuddlement and her obvious fear of them, and he couldn’t seem to help the slight softening he felt towards her each time she displayed them. Which still didn’t mean he trusted her, but it did make him a little more amenable to hearing what she had to say. More than that, he wanted to hear her out now. They couldn’t make an informed decision about whether this was even a remote possibility until they’d heard everything she had to say. The only question was, how much of what she was saying was real, and how much was pure delusion? And how were they supposed to tell the difference?

Tilting his head to enter her line of sight, he said her name with quiet insistence, then waited while her hand slid down a few cautious inches from her ear and her eyes flickered in his direction.

Satisfied that she was listening, he went on. “Look, I promise no one here is going to hurt you, okay? But you have to talk to us. This is really important, Topolsky, so just– try and concentrate. Will you do that?”

Her eyes went from his face, to her lap, and back again in a tentatively gauging way, perhaps trying to assess his sincerity in promising her no harm. Then with a slight frown creasing her forehead, she blinked rapidly several times, as though she were trying to focus her vision, and Max got the impression that she was making an attempt to do as he said. Grudgingly, he granted her a point for cooperation.

“Good. Now...tell us where you heard the name Shaandreyah,” he repeated, thinking that if he kept the questions simple, they would be easier for her to answer.

He began to think that theory was flawed though when Topolsky merely sat there frowningly, her eyes unfocused and searching.

Finally, she gave a small shake of her head, and answered as if it were obvious. “Antaar.”

The four teens exchanged a look amongst themselves, their expressions ranging from knowing to dismay.

“I knew it,” Michael muttered with grim satisfaction.

Liz tightened her arms around herself distressfully, while Tess voiced the denial she was doggedly holding on to herself.

“Just because she knows a couple of alien words doesn’t make her a native of the planet,” she snapped in objection, feeling desperate to prove the woman false. There was just no way anything she was saying could be true. Because if there were, Tess was terribly afraid that what Michael had said about their four-square could be true as well. And if her place wasn’t here, with them, her only other option seemed to be with Khivaar. She knew she couldn’t possibly stand against him and Nicholas and what they wanted from her if she were completely alone. Which was why this all just had to be a lie. Liz couldn’t be this person Topolsky was claiming she was. Tess felt her very life depended upon it.

It was perfectly apparent to Max that Tess didn’t want to believe in Topolsky, but he thought there was some wisdom in her words. This was too important for them to make assumptions. He wanted it straight from Topolsky’s mouth.

“You’re saying you heard that name on Antaar? You’re an alien then?” he prodded.

Topolsky darted a glance at him and then at the others, then her gaze seemed to bounce from point to point in the apartment before coming to land on Liz anxiously. Silently, she gave a quick, jerky nod of her head.

Liz sucked in a breath and looked away, her face set in lines of disquiet.

“Prove it!” Tess immediately challenged, unwilling to take her at her word.

Topolsky began wringing her hands and avoided looking in anyone’s direction. “I ca- I don’t...how?” she asked stumblingly, looking haggard and miserable.

Tess didn’t hesitate, saying, “If you’re an alien you must have powers, so how come you’re sitting here as our prisoner and haven’t tried anything– otherworldly to get away?” she questioned with undisguised skepticism. “Use your powers if you’re really an alien,” she demanded in challenge.

All eyes focused on Topolsky as they waited tensely for her response, and the subject of their scrutiny twitched agitatedly, lifting a hand to her ear, then taking it away again before it had time to settle. Her slowness to answer strained everyone’s already-thin patience, but her reply, when it finally came, was a disappointment. At least, to some it was.

“I can’t,” she declared hoarsely.

“Why not?” Tess asked, jumping on the words triumphantly.

While twisting her hands together anxiously in her lap, Topolsky’s lips moved without producing any sound for several seconds, then her brows pulled together distressfully and she said again, “I can’t. Not now.”

“Why not now?!” Michael exploded, definitely a member of the disappointed faction over her failure to comply. He actually surprised himself with how much he wanted her to be telling the truth. About everything.

Cringing at his tone, Topolsky nevertheless managed to reply. “N-no. Not now,” she repeated, placing special emphasis on the last word.

“Yeah. Not now. We heard you,” Michael threw back shortly. “But there’s never gonna be a better time than now, alright? So if you can do this, just do it already!” he demanded.

Topolsky’s hands clenched into fists, and she threw a look up at Liz, who was holding in her turmoil with an effort to remain stonily impassive.

Dropping her gaze, she gave a sharp twitch of her head and wearily said yet again, “I can’t.”

“So much for your alien theory,” Tess said, smug in her relief.

As Max looked at Topolsky speculatively, he wasn’t so sure that was true. She didn’t really seem as if she were trying to be uncooperative, or even that she was trying to put them off. In fact, it seemed to him like there was something else she was trying to tell them. She just wasn’t expressing herself very well.

Topolsky lifted her head and gave him a wavering look, as if sensing understanding, and Max asked her quietly, “Why can’t you do it now, Topolsky? What’s preventing you?”

He watched her visibly swallow, and she continued to eye him intermittently. “Th-they were...small. And– now, they’re gone,” she said cryptically, looking down at her open palms like she wasn’t sure they were her own.

Max lowered his brows in an instant of confused incomprehension. “What, you mean your powers?” he asked quizzically. “You’re saying you had some, but now they’re gone?”

Her nod of affirmation seemed almost grateful.

“How inconvenient of them,” Tess said with caustic dubiousness.

At Topolsky’s look of abashment, Michael admonished curtly, “Tess, shut up, alright? You’re not helping.”

Tess shot him a dirty look that went completely ignored by him, then tightened her lips mutely.

Max sighed and tried to ignore their back-biting. This suggestion had everyone in an upheaval and it was hard not to be affected by the undercurrents of tension in the room. They just needed to stay focused on Topolsky and on keeping her talking. She was the key here. Which was frustrating in itself. It was just so hard to know what to believe with her. She seemed to be trying so hard to tell them this, but it sounded so unlikely.

“Did Nacedo ever say anything about this to you?” he asked, swivelling his head to pose the question to Tess. “Is it possible for us to lose our powers?”

Tess shrugged stiffly. “I don’t know,” she answered unhelpfully, not really giving it a moment’s thought. Max continued to look at her steadily, and after a long moment she began to squirm under his silent regard. “I don’t know, Max, I swear!” she insisted defensively. “He never said anything.” Making a genuine effort to come up with an answer this time, she said grudgingly, “He did say our abilities stemmed from our cerebral cortex, so...I guess- if something were to happen to our brains, it might be possible for us to lose them.” Hating to endorse Topolsky’s story in any way, she added quickly, “But we don’t really know that. And if she doesn’t have any powers, don’t you think it’s more likely she just never had them to begin with?”

With nothing to back up her claims, it did seem pretty questionable, Max silently acknowledged. But if there was a possibility it could be true, they couldn’t rule it out entirely.

Before anyone had a chance to either agree or disagree with Tess, Topolsky said quietly, “I knew you wouldn’t believe.” Scraping intently at one of her palms with the opposite thumbnail, she muttered, “Nobody ever believes. Nobody. They should have...they- should’ve told. They knew how important... but they lied. All lies!” Her tone was low and irate, and the actions of her hands became disturbingly violent as the repetitive scratching of her nail began raising thin welts of blood on her palm. Before any of the others had time to notice what she was doing, Topolsky had enclosed the evidence of her outburst within a tight fist.

“You keep saying ‘they’. Who’s they?” Michael asked impatiently, recalling how she’d said that earlier. That ‘they’ were supposed to tell Liz.

But instead of answering him, Topolsky said, “You don’t believe me, but I know. I knew you then– Rath and Zan. And Avaana...I knew Vilaandra.” Looking up from her preoccupation with her closed fist, she fixed Liz with another of those direct looks that made her go cold all over. “And I knew you, Shaandreyah.”

That earlier sense of suffocation came back to fist itself around Liz’s chest, as she once again found herself trapped within Topolsky’s gaze.

“Don’t call me that,” Liz protested, though it emerged as barely a whisper.

Topolsky’s uninjured hand rubbed anxiously at the fist of the other, but she continued on with hoarse insistence. “You are. I-I brought you here. I know,” she declared shockingly.

The tightness around Liz’s chest slowly crept up to squeeze her by the throat, making it harder and harder for her to breathe. Shaking her head reflexively, her wide-eyed gaze shot towards Max, then Michael, as she tried not to let Topolsky’s words shake her.

“I don’t believe you,” she croaked, rejecting the woman’s words.

Topolsky’s eyes were locked on Liz’s with a feverish intensity that could’ve meant she believed what she was saying and was trying to make Liz listen, or that she was just spouting delirious ramblings. Either way, the fervid look was disturbing.

Leaning forward in her seat, she said in near-urgency, “Your pod...it– I-it wasn’t.. made true. Someone we trusted was–“ She struggled to find the word she was looking for. “Was- weak. He almost ruined the whole plan. But.. he- his deeds were discovered in time. You were- recovered. And the queen sent me to... here- to Earth. To bring you to...” she gestured toward the others with a vague hand, “the ones who love you. The ones who need you– to fulfill the hope of our worlds.” As if the short speech had wearied her, she sank back against the couch cushions, but she didn’t take her eyes off of Liz’s pale face.

Liz stared back at her with a slightly stricken expression, her perfect outer stillness utterly belying the chaos that was raging inside of her. She seemed to know so much about the aliens’ history, Liz thought apprehensively, the acknowledgement feeling like a noose tightening around her neck. She knew their names, she knew about the pods, and the reason they were sent to Earth... but the rest had to be pure fantasy, or- or some kind of mix-up or something. After all, the woman had serious sanity issues. And just because she had a few facts rattling around in her head, that didn’t mean she had everything straight.

But while Liz desperately tried to tell herself those things, it was becoming increasingly harder to hold on to that conviction. Especially when Topolsky’s words were having the complete opposite effect on Michael. What she was saying was only strengthening his belief in the truth of all this, and Liz could feel his growing certainty weaving itself insistently around her own churning thoughts. His tangled emotions also seemed to be right there amongst her own, intensifying the level of her turmoil. But none of that was because she was his sister, she assured herself weakly. And that small answering curl of emotion she felt when she looked into his stormy hazel eyes was not a new sense of recognition either.

Panicking anew at the immutable sensation, she swung her gaze back to Topolsky to charge tightly, “You’re making everything confused! And you’re wrong! If you brought someone here it was not me,” she insisted, forcing the words out past the restriction in her throat.

Frowning anxiously, Topolsky threw a look at the others before saying uncertainly, “No. But... you are her. You- have the powers to prove it. I-I’ve seen them.” She paused for a moment, seeming to doubt herself as she dropped her gaze in confusion, but then she nodded her head and said again, “I’ve seen them. They were a-asleep– in you...but Max awoke them. Just as we hoped.”

Max and Liz looked at one another in disconcertment upon hearing that.

Was that possible, Max wondered, his thoughts spinning rapidly. Could Liz really have had a dormant power inside her all along, and he’d only brought it to life?

The looked that passed between them made Topolsky hesitate, but then she said once more, to assure herself, if no one else, “I’ve seen them. I’ve seen them together with Ra– M-Michael’s. They’re the same as before. You are Shaandreyah, Liz. You have to remember now,” she almost pled. “You were born as twins– y-you and Rath. On the planet Soltaar. Your parents were Shri and–“ her forehead wrinkled in concentration, “and Juraath Te’Keiryen. The two of you...your- abilities were- complete together. Balanced. I-it made you very special. Very... very powerful. And you grew to be– great Protectorates. Some of the strongest our worlds had ever seen.” She paused and looked up at Liz proddingly, as if to say ‘Don’t you remember?’

But Liz wasn’t looking at her. She wasn’t really looking at anything. Dizziness had assailed her, and she couldn’t seem to draw in enough air. There had been a vague familiarity about Topolsky’s words that had struck a chord somewhere deep inside her, and the knowledge had left Liz reeling.

It was Michael’s response she felt, she wildly tried telling herself, her eyes looking for his for confirmation. But it wasn’t confirmation she saw in his gaze when she found it.

Michael was staring back at her, stunned by what Topolsky had said, but utterly certain that he’d just heard the sketchy details of his other life. Their other life, he corrected himself wonderingly. This was real. Liz couldn’t deny it now, his eyes fiercely proclaimed. They were twins. Whose powers worked together to make them powerful. He’d been saying ever since this thing started that his powers felt more complete with Liz’s. There was no way Topolsky could’ve known that if this wasn’t real.

“What’s a Protectorate?” he asked Topolsky, wholly convinced now of her legitimacy, and hungry for every detail she could give him.

Topolsky glanced at him warily and opened her mouth to answer, but closed it again when words seemed to elude her. Rubbing at her forehead in a gesture of weariness, she said slowly, “It’s- a... protector. O-of the Granolith.”

Michael’s brows went up in mild surprise, but the answer settled in on him with a rightness he felt down to his bones. He’d sensed something in the Granolith, something that had nagged at him and had renewed his sense of purpose in their mission here the moment Isabel had shown it to them. Now he knew why.
posted on 3-Jan-2003 3:05:33 AM by Destinee
Tess shook her head abruptly. Thinking she’d found a flaw in Topolsky’s story, she pounced on it, saying, “Rath was Zan’s protector. His second in command. No one’s ever said anything to us about him protecting the Granolith.”

Uncertainty overtook Topolsky’s features once again, and her gaze turned inward in groping confusion. As if she were only feeling her way through her memories, she said falteringly, “That... came later. He was– he was both.”

“Then why hasn’t anyone else ever told us that?” Tess demanded.

“I-I don’t know,” Topolsky answered helplessly, her arms finding their way around her middle again to hold herself tightly in the face of Tess’s truculence.

“Come on, Tess, back off. She’s tellin’ the truth,” Michael said in Topolsky’s defense. His eyes snapping with suppressed excitement, he looked at Max and said meaningfully, “Everything she’s sayin’ about us...it’s all true.”

Max’s lips parted soundlessly as he looked at Michael searchingly, but before he could question him, Michael said passionately, “I feel it, Maxwell.”

Not waiting for his response, Michael’s gaze skipped over to Liz expectantly. He wasn’t sure exactly what he was expecting of her. Maybe not a hearty ‘welcome to the family!’, but he’d thought he might at least find a pale glimmer of the giddy sense of discovery he was feeling. But he found neither of those. Instead, Liz was looking at him in mute appeal, as if she were silently begging him to take his words back or something, and he realized with a flash of wounded ire that she was still trying to deny this, in spite of what their instincts were telling them. When she physically confirmed it with a numb shake of her head, his jaw tautened at her blind avoidance.

“This is true, Liz,” he declared, his voice low and unyielding. “You feel it, the same as I do. I know you do,” he said forcefully, refusing to let her hide from the truth he could feel coursing through her as distinctly as he felt in himself. “So stop running from it, and just deal.”

Troubled conflict creasing her brow, Liz’s eyes clashed with the stormy demand in his. His insistence that she admit her feelings matched his own was like a physical force pressing in on her, but she couldn’t give into it. Logic and instinct were warring within her, and while she couldn’t deny that Topolsky’s story had stirred some vague feeling of affinity inside her, she also knew that she’d had a normal human birth. And even if Dreyah’s inception hadn’t taken place in a pod, she couldn’t have been born from Nancy Parker’s womb either, and that was a piece of reality Liz clung to. It was fact. Facts were solid and indisputable. And relying on logic and facts was an act of familiarity that brought comfort in the midst of all the clamoring emotions pulling at her from the inside.

“I’m not running from it,” she contradicted, “I just don’t believe it can be true.” Michael’s eyes flashed irately, but she thought she saw a glint of hurt betrayal there as well, adding guilt to her emotional upheaval. Defensively, she said, “I’m sorry, Michael. I know you want it to be because you wish your sister could be-- this close at hand or whatever... but I’m not her,” she said with heavy emphasis. “I can’t be her. I’ve seen my birth certificate. I’ve seen pictures, from when I was born in the hospital. I’ve even seen what my blood cells look like. I’m human,” she insisted, her tone seeming to ask how anyone could believe anything else in the face of all the evidence.“So I can’t be your hybrid sister,” she maintained in appeal.

A muscle worked in Michael’s jaw as he stared her down angrily. He was sure that deep down she knew this was true, she just didn’t want it to be, and he couldn’t help but take that personally. This was the same way she’d acted when Ava had first announced her ‘change’, and it had rubbed him the wrong way then too. It was like she thought admitting this would be consigning herself to a fate worse than death or something, and that made him feel defensive and angry. Worse, it felt like a rejection of all he was. After wishing desperately for real family of his own all his life, it seemed as though that wish might finally be coming true. But Liz obviously didn’t want any part of it.

The story of his life, he thought bitterly. Nobody ever wanted him.

His voice withering, he finally responded to Liz’s last denial, saying, “Which part is it you object to so much, Liz? The sister part, or the part about being a hybrid?”

Liz’s eyes widened. “Neither!” she immediately denied, appalled that he would ask her that. Her gaze darted towards Max to make sure he wasn’t thinking the same thing, and when his eyes skittered away from hers, she was dismayed to realize he was.

Pushing his hands into his pockets, Max bit his lip and dropped his gaze momentarily to the floor, feeling unaccountably vulnerable now that Michael had voiced the question that had been stubbornly hovering at the back of his own mind. He didn’t want to think Liz was fighting against this so forcefully because she found the prospect of being an alien so utterly horrifying, but it was getting a little difficult not to. Especially if she truly was ignoring what her instincts were telling her the way Michael said. Liz always listened to her heart, even if it seemed to be saying something illogical. And while he’d be the first to admit this whole thing sounded completely illogical, Liz seemed unwilling to even consider it a possibility. He couldn’t help but think that was because she was repulsed by the whole idea. It was a devastating thought, and it awoke the host of insecurities about who and what he was that never seemed to be far from the surface.

Liz found it distressingly easy to read his thoughts on his face, and a wave of sick remorse rushed through her.

“No. Max–” she protested, reaching out to catch hold of his arm. “That’s not...I don’t mean that. You’re putting words in my mouth, Michael,” she turned to accuse angrily. “I never said I objected to any of it. And I don’t. Not because of that.” She turned back to Max anxiously. “That’s not what this is about at all,” she promised, a part of her guiltily wondering if there might not be some truth to the claim even as she spoke.

Apparently Max could sense that. And Michael didn’t look convinced either as he regarded her narrowly, his arms folded across his chest.

“Then why don’t you try tellin’ us what it is about, Liz,” he challenged balefully.

Cornered, Liz looked from Michael, stone-faced and angry, to Tess’s taut features, and finally to Max, whose expression of carefully concealed vulnerability tore at her heart with fresh talons of guilt.

Feeling somehow remorseful and defensive at once, she replied sharply, “It’s about being skeptical of a woman who’s been playing sick games with our heads for the past three days. It’s about needing a little solid proof before I would ever even believe anything she said, especially something crazy like this! And it’s about you, swallowing every word of this without question, and trying to coerce me into accepting it too, whether it’s true or not!” Her voice had risen heatedly by the time she reached the last accusing statement, finding a convenient outlet for all her anxieties in the one who seemed bent on forcing her to this uncertain fate, and Michael responded in kind.

“Hey, I’m not trying to coerce you into anything! Far be it for me to ask you to admit you might be some sub-human space freak like all the rest of us.”

Michael! I never– “ Liz began, but Michael didn’t pause, overriding her outraged protest to continue harshly.

“And the truth is there, whether you want to admit it or not. You want proof? What about all these dreams you’ve been having about our past? You think it’s a coincidence Dreyah was in every one of them? Someone none of us even knew existed? They obviously came from her memories, Liz. Your memories.” Giving her no time to react, he went on roughly. “And what about our powers? They DO work together exactly the way Topolsky said they did. The way Rath and Dreyah’s did. How do you think that’s possible if you’re not Dreyah?” he demanded, his tone rising at the end as if in disbelief that she couldn’t see that. “And what about the Granolith? From the very beginning I’ve felt some kind of weird affinity for it. And so have you,” he declared, daring her to deny it. “You were so worried about it when Max went to the summit last month you warned him not to give it up. You were protective of it instinctively. Why would you feel like that over something you’ve never even laid eyes on?” he pressed, his eyes drilling her with a look of angry challenge. Without pause, he answered for her. “Because you’re a protector for it, exactly like she said you were. It’s the perfect explanation. Everything she’s told us is the answer to something we didn’t know...and she didn’t even know we had the questions!” He leaned forward belligerently. ”So don’t tell me you have a problem with this because there’s not any proof, Liz. The problem is, you don’t want to believe this is true, so you’re ignoring the proof,” he charged wrathfully.

“Well, look at you! What do you think you’re doing, Michael?” Liz stormed back, overwhelmed by everything he’d pointed out and by the angry emotion buzzing inside of her. “You’re ignoring the fact that I was born human, with all the evidence to prove it. Since you seem to think you’ve got an explanation for everything, why don’t you try explaining that? Explain how you think it’s possible for an alien hybrid to be born from a human womb,” she challenged.

Michael hesitated, not having an answer for that one. But he knew in his heart he wasn’t wrong about all this. “I don’t know how, alright? But I do know everything isn’t always what it seems, Liz, and you should know that too by now.”

Liz’s features twisted. “What are you trying to say? That my entire birth- complete with official documents- was all just some elaborate hoax? Get real, Michael!” she scorned, the idea sending another wave of upset through her system.

“Is that so hard to believe?” Michael returned. “One of the main objectives in sending us down here was to keep us hidden. Our entire lives have been nothing but a cover-up. And it’s not impossible to fake ‘official documents’ you know. I could turn a piece of paper into a birth certificate myself if I had all the information I needed.”

That was true, Liz acknowledged with dismayed dread. Anyone with powers could forge a document. Suddenly the solid evidence she’d been leaning on so heavily seemed nothing more than a flimsy piece of paper, shaking her sense of identity once again.

But in the next moment she shook her head abruptly. “No. I was born in a hospital. I told you, we have pictures.” Hospitals meant witnesses, doctors- medicals test and records. No one could cover up all that.

“How do you know it was you in the pictures?” Michael asked pointedly, striking another hard blow to her arguments.

“Because I do!” Liz threw back at him, nearly shaking in her distress. She wanted to rage at him to stop tearing at all her certainties- to stop pounding at her emotions with the insistent demand of his own. The conflict of her own feelings clashed with his opposing beliefs until it all was a growing pressure inside her, winding her tighter and tighter, and it was making it hard to think.

He couldn’t be right though, could he? Most of the things he’d said hadn’t actually occurred to her, but now that he’d brought them up there was no denying that they were compelling. And other things...well, she hadn’t really been ignoring them, but she had been trying to discount them because she thought she had the truth on her side. But what if it wasn’t the truth she was holding on to so tightly? What if her entire existence had been nothing but a huge lie?

The tension inside her wound ever tighter, and to Max, she looked drawn so tautly she might shatter. Reaching out, he laid a hesitant hand on her arm. It hurt him to see her in such turmoil. Both because he couldn’t stand seeing her so upset and because it fed his own painful misgivings. But this wasn’t just about the possibility of her being alien, he realized. Her whole identity was being called into question here.

When it seemed as if Michael might press her further, Max slid his hand around to rest between her shoulderblades and said quietly, “Michael, enough. Stop pushing. Liz has a right to form her own opinions. You can’t force her to accept this if she doesn’t believe it’s true. And she’s right. There’s always been every indication that she’s human. Even if some things could be faked just to make it look that way, her blood cells couldn’t,” he pointed out. Maintaining the logic in Liz’s arguments was a reminder of how legitimate they were, and Max comforted himself with that while bolstering Liz at the same time. He wasn’t sure he could believe that the birth she knew had all been a lie. It seemed as if too many people would’ve had to be involved if that were true. But the matter of her blood cells was irrefutable. There was no getting around the fact that they were human.

Intent on Liz’s inner struggle, Michael barely heard Max’s words. She’d rallied with Max’s last assertion, but Michael had felt her wavering. She was avoiding his eyes as she pressed closer to Max’s side, so Michael didn’t think he was completely connected with her, but he’d swear he could hear what she was thinking. She was doubting herself, doubting what she knew. She wasn’t sure what the truth was anymore.

Unwillingly, her eyes came up to meet his, and he held her gaze steadily. “Ask her,” he said pressingly. “She’s the one who has the answers. If you really want to know the truth, ask her.”

Liz’s hand tightened around the handful of Max’s shirt she was clasping near his waist, and her eyes swung involuntarily to Topolsky, knowing instinctively who Michael was talking about. Somehow, lost in her battle of wills with Michael, she’d almost forgotten the older woman was there. Maybe subconsciously she’d wanted to forget. But now that she couldn’t avoid the reminder, she eyed the woman uneasily. Michael was right. She seemed to be the one with all the answers. But the question was, did Liz really even want to hear what she’d say? Would it really be the truth?

Topolsky was bent forward over the arms she had wrapped around her middle, her upper body jerking agitatedly. She’d been staring raptly at the table at the end of the couch, but suddenly she stilled and lifted a bright-eyed gaze to lock with Liz’s.

Liz was helpless to look away. That cloistering sense of inevitability was back, pressing in on her with a heaviness that made her heart pound. Dry-mouthed, she asked the one question that begged to be answered, hoping it would put an end to all this conjecture.

“You said Dreyah wasn’t brought here in a pod. How...how was she born, then?”

Pinning Liz in place with her eyes, Topolsky paused deliberately then replied, “Just as you said.”

Tess made a face, exclaiming shortly, “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Would you quit talkin’ in riddles?” Michael demanded at the same time.

But Topolsky gave no indication that she even heard them. She just kept watching Liz as if she were waiting for her to get the punch line of some complex joke.

Liz was clutching Max’s shirt so tightly she could feel the bite of her fingernails through the fabric. “Stop being so cryptic,” she added in complaint, but it was faint, and not the bark of irritation Tess and Michael’s had been. A feeling of momentousness hung in the air, and she both sought and feared what the woman was trying to say.

“Cryptic?” Topolsky seemed to consider that for a moment, then shook her head in bemusement. “You know what I’m saying, Liz,” she insisted.

“Well I don’t know,” Max said impatiently, Liz’s tension putting him on edge as well. “So why don’t you enlighten us, Topolsky?”

Topolsky flicked a leery glance up towards Max, then the others, and everyone waited in rigid suspension for her to answer. But during that moment of strained silence, as all of Topolsky’s vague references tumbled over themselves in Liz’s brain, the answer suddenly came to her with the force of a sucker punch. Probably, in some hidden corner of herself, it was something she’d feared all along.

Topolsky had said Dreyah had been born just as Liz had already said. Liz had only spoken of how she, herself had been born. She’d challenged Michael to explain how a hybrid could be born from a human womb. Michael had implied that her birth involved a cover-up. Topolsky had said ‘they’ knew everything. ‘They’ were supposed to tell Liz the truth, and hadn’t. The story of her birth had been a cover-up. A human womb...A cover-up...

All of it came together in her mind to form a single, sickening conclusion. One that she didn’t even want to give credence, but suddenly seemed horrifyingly possible. And there were two people who could verify if it were true.

Pulling away from Max jerkily, Liz looked around blindly for a moment as if unsure where she was or what to do.

“Liz?” Max’s arm fell away at the abrupt separation, and he looked at her in concern.

Liz threw a haunted look up at him that didn’t quite connect with his face, and in the next moment was whirling for the door.

“Liz, wait! Where are you going?”

She’d exited the apartment before the last words were even out of his mouth, and Max found himself speaking to the empty doorway. At a loss, but poised to go after her, he instinctively looked to Michael for an explanation for her behavior.

Michael pulled his gaze from the door swinging on its hinges and looked back at Max in dismay, before his expression hardened into one of grimness.

“She thinks this might all be true. And her parents have known all along.”



TBC



[ edited 1 time(s), last at 3-Jan-2003 3:06:08 AM ]
posted on 15-Feb-2003 5:28:49 PM by Destinee
Hey, guys. Just wanted to drop you a note to tell you what's going on. I got an email asking where I would be continuing this story when the board moves and I just wanted to let everyone know that I will definitely be making the move to the new server. I've been working on the new chapter, but as usual it's coming extremely slowly. *sad* Lately I've been feeling as if I've found a little bit better mindset regarding my writing though, and I'm hoping that means a break-through is pending. I'm hoping to have, if not the completed chapter, at least half of it ready to post very soon. Hopefully I'll be there with update in hand after we get all moved. *happy*

Heidi, Constance, RosBaby, Ner, Max and Liz Believer, mia, and everyone else who's kept this thread bumped up so regularly, I can never seem to find the words to express how much I appreciate that, but just know that I love you guys like crazy, and your constant attendance to this fic means the world to me. {{hugs}}

I so appreciate everyone's patience and willingness to continue reading whenever I'm able to get a new part up. It's the most wonderful compliment to hear some of you say how easy it is to fall back into the story, and how you feel as if you can so often share the characters' emotions. Thank you so much for saying that. It always gives me such a boost to hear.

xmag, I'm still hoping that I'll get to that sequel. I certainly have the ideas for it, and if I can ever get this whole writer's block issue licked, my plan is to continue on with the story after SD&U concludes. Right now, it seems all I can do to meet that goal though, lol.

Thanks to everyone for all the kind words and wonderful support. Love you all a bunch!

{{hugs}}

Sherry