posted on 20-Mar-2002 9:04:07 PM by Chrisken
Title: In another world (tentative)
Author: Chris Kenworthy
Email: chris⊕chriskweb.net
Rating: PG?
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters or premise of 'Roswell,' look for Melinda Metz, Jason Katims, or the Fox head honchos. I just write stories here. :]
Category: Very AU, skewed reality version of... well, early season 1 to start with. UC couples leading to CC couples - yes, it's homecoming backwards. ;-)
Spoilers: Well, if you haven't seen the pilot, what are you doing here? ;-) Any events from the show might appear here, somewhat distorted. Familiarity with early season 1 will probably help you to make sense of all the clever things I'm trying to do. :-D
Dedication: To all you rabid dreamers and candygirls. I dunno if you're gonna love this or hate it, but either way it's *all for you.* hehehehe.
Author's note: Yes, I know, I have too many epics on the go already, but I couldn't resist this idea. Will make the premise clear in the first few parts I hope, for now just get into the flow. Thanks to Emilie for her transcript of "The Pilot" which was essential. :o)

September 18, 1999...

Liz Parker smiled brightly as she maneuvered two plates full of food onto the table. Smile brightly at the customers and recap. "Okay, I have got one Sigourney Weaver, that's for you." Nod at the short-haired twentysomething blonde woman. "And one Will Smith." Her partner's hair was darker, spiky, and set off a pair of black-rimmed glasses. "Can I get you anything else? Green Martian shake? 'Blood of Alien' smoothie??"

**Boy, I hope these guys are generous tippers. We could really use a little mad money with the Crash festival coming up. Six... no, five days to go, right?**

"No thanks, we're good," the guy said after taking the first bite of his sandwhich.

"Are you guys here for the Crash festival?" Liz asked hopefully. Not many people would show up this early, but the two of them didn't act like locals and they didn't look like they were 'just passing through.' If they were like most UFO nuts, Liz had a trick up her sleeve that would guarantee at least two bucks on the tip. **Unless they're just MEAN UFO nuts.**

"Yeah, can't wait," the woman chimed in. "So, does your family come from Roswell?"

**Gotcha!** "Just four generations," Liz drawled, teasing her. **Don't volunteer anything too soon. Let them come to you.**

"Well, does anyone in your family have stories about the UFO crash?" the guy asked. **He's almost drooling.**

Okay, time to seal the deal. "Well, I guess it would be okay to show you guys this," Liz whispered confidentially. Quickly, she palmed a photo into the woman's hand. As the rubes goggled, Liz noticed Maria DeLucca shake her head as she walked by with the coffee pot. Sounded like an argument was starting over at Maria's table. **Customers from hell.**

"My grandmother took this picture at the crash site RIGHT before the government cleaned it up," Liz lied. Actually, none of her relatives had ever had anything to do with aliens, which was why she fell back on cheap tricks like that doctored photo to impress the alien nuts that came into the Crash.

"Do other people know about this photograph?" the woman asked in a breathless voice. Oh my god, was she actually *buying* this?

"Well, *I* know about it, and now YOU know about it." Yeah. this is a real alien photo, and I've never shown it to ANY other customers, but I showed it to you. Because I saw something special in your faces...

"Whoa," the guy breathed.

"Wow," the woman echoed.

"I'm gonna be right back," Liz told them. "Don't show that to anyone."

"No," the woman replied, and Liz hurried back to the small window that seperated the dining room from the kitchen.

"What do you want?" she asked the guy who had been trying to signal her unobtrusively.

"You were showing the picture to those touritst, weren't you?" Alex Whitman accused her in a whisper. "You know your Dad told you not to..."

"And if anyone *tells* my Dad about this..." Liz shot back, "that someone might find out that their reccomendation as a short-order cook has just evaporated. You dragged me back here just to lecture me?"

"Moving on," Alex replied with a half a wink. "Tess Martin can't keep her eyes off me."

"Really?" Liz turned around and looked at the seating area. The booth where she knew Tess and Max Evans has sat down was featureless. She leaned over so that her head was in line with the right side of Alex's window. A patch of Tess Martin's unmistakeable pale-blonde hair and a small patch of forehead was visible now, and even from that much Liz could tell Tess was wrapped up in her conversation with Max. "You're kidding yourself again. She can't even see you, and if she could she wouldn't care as long as Max Evans was in the building."

"Maybe little miss 'Assistant Manager' is just feeling bitter because she's been working every day all summer and she's feeling jealous of those of us who have *lives,*" Alex shot back.

"Oh, will you guys stop it with the witty banter and just swap spit or something?" Maria DeLucca interjected as she put the coffee tray on the kitched counter. "At least then you wouldn't look like such clueless smart kids. You're meant for each other. Ah well, I'm on bathroom break. See ya in five." And she was gone.

"Okay, um, well..." Alex stuttered cutely, trying to fight back a blush. "Well... I guess, now we should..."

"Swap spit?" Liz repeated sarcastically with a raised eyebrow, which just made Alex stammer more and get less intelligible.

"You ask me to give you another day? You're running out of time!!" Liz noticed the ruckus starting at Maria's 'table from hell' without being particularly concerned. The guy who was screaming knocked some dishes off the table, and they broke. **Guess who's gonna have to clean that up -- little miss 'assistant manager.'**

"No, I wasn't going to say that..." Alex was saying...

"I want the money *today,* not tomorrow," the customer from hell yelled. Suddenly, he run and took cover behind the next booth over. Not just him. The UFO nuts were ducking and hiding too.

Customer from hell's little friend had a gun. **Lemme guess, you're the customer from hades?**

Alex saw the gun too, and jerked away. Somehow, Liz couldn't. Everything was happening in slow motion, but her muscles were frozen. The gun exploded in a burst of ear-cracking sound, and even the customer from hades seemed surprised about it. **He hadn't been meaning to shoot.** And then Liz felt the streak of pain tear through her mid abdomen.

**I've been shot. The gun was pointed right at me when it happened to go off, and I'm about to die.**

She expected her life to flash before her eyes, but it didn't. A few memories - hanging out with Alex and Maria and Kyle Valenti this summer - freshman year, Dennis D Chavez junior high... but it seemed like her brain wasn't really trying. Alex's voice rang in her ears, an anguished whisper. "Liz..."

And then there was a new voice. "Call an ambulance." Footsteps stumbling away. "It's going to be okay." A warm, strong hand touching her arm.

"Look at me. You have to look at me." Liz felt... sleepy, more than anything. Something about the voice cut through her fatigue, though, and she forces her eyes fully open and stared in the direction that the voice was coming from. Hey, that looked like a face.

And suddenly she was fully coherent, completely aware of the face that was staring back into her eyes. Max Evans' face. The pain screamed at her, for a second, and then subsided. Not subsided - the awareness of the pain was just being taken away from her.

For a few seconds, Liz was completely aware of her own body, aware of the cells, even the molecules that made it up. Aware also of the damage that had been done to her body, the rips that the bullet had opened through her skin and fat tissue, (not that there was much fat to start with, thank god,) and the deeper damage that had been done to her internal organs. The side of the wall of her small intestine had been mangled in one spot. About a quarter of her spleen looked like it had been in a car wreck. And, worst of all, a mid-to-sizeable artery had been torn open, and it was pumping its blood out into empty space at an alarming rate.

As that artery hemmoraghed blood, Liz suddenly knew with more than just textbook knowledge, it would lower the pressure in the rest of her circulatory system. When the blood pressure dropped too low, brain damage or cardiac arrest could be the next step. And there was nothing she could do about it...

But there was *something* that could be done. Because suddenly the blood flow stopped, and even reversed - any blood that was still clean and useable flowed BACK into her artery, and then along to the cells in her spleen as both it and the artery were repaired. Next the intestine, and finally the skin was sealed over again. As an afterthought, the bullet, which had been lodged against one of her ribs near the spine, flew apart and entered the bloodstream. The iron would be accepted and used to make more blood cells, Liz somehow knew. The lead would be disposed of.

And then, the sudden clarity and awareness were gone, and Liz was mostly aware of being tired and still vaguely uncomfortable. Max tossed a ring of car keys to Tess, who Liz realized had been waiting impatiently, and reached up to the kitchen counter and found a bottle of ketchup. Unfathomably, (to Liz, at that moment,) he broke the bottle into two halves with his bare hands and dumped most of the sticky red mixure onto Liz's uniform.

"You broke the bottle when you fell," he whispered, rearranging into a squat. "Spilled ketchup on yourself. Don't say anything: *please.*"

He backed away as Alex rushed through the swinging doors and hurried to Liz's side. "Liz, are you okay?"

Liz could only stare at the young man who had just saved my life. **Who is he? *What* is he? What just happened here??**

To be continued...

[ edited 4 time(s), last at 31-Mar-2002 12:21:15 PM ]
posted on 23-Mar-2002 6:06:57 PM by Chrisken
Title: In another world (tentative)
Author: Chris Kenworthy
Email: chris⊕chriskweb.net
Rating: PG?
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters or premise of 'Roswell,' look for Melinda Metz, Jason Katims, or the Fox head honchos. I just write stories here. :]
Category: Very AU, skewed reality version of... well, early season 1 to start with. UC couples leading to CC couples - yes, it's homecoming backwards. ;-)
Spoilers: Well, if you haven't seen the pilot, what are you doing here? ;-) Any events from the show might appear here, somewhat distorted. Familiarity with early season 1 will probably help you to make sense of all the clever things I'm trying to do. :-D
Dedication: To all you rabid dreamers and candygirls. I dunno if you're gonna love this or hate it, but either way it's *all for you.* hehehehe.


It was... Liz wasn't sure. Ten minutes after everything had gone down? Twenty?? Time didn't seem to have its usual meaning. She sat in one of the Crashdown Cafe's vinyl-padded chairs, staring idly at Miss UFO nut's half-eaten Sigourney Weaver. Nothing was processing through her brain yet. Nothing made sense.

A familiar voice cut through the daze. "Lizzie, oh my god." **I'm on.**

Sure enough, there was her father, Mister Jeff Parker... almost certainly having hurried back from the potato products distributor as soon as he heard about what had happened in the restaurant. "No, dad, look, look at this," Liz said, holding up her apron, which was brightly marked with red stains and clearly smelled of tomato and vinegar - but not blood. "See, I'm fine, I just spilled ketchup. I'm really... I'm okay."

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah."

As her father started to make some reply, Liz inexplicably focused on the voice of the old Native-American deputy who had been the first lawman to arrive on the scene. "I'm gonna need a better description than that. I assume that they weren't actually cartoons." From what Liz could pick up, Maria had been giving a description of the customers from hell from whose table the shooting had come, since she had gotten a better look than anybody, taking their orders, getting them their food.

A few seconds later, a tall man with an off-white cowboy hat opened the front door and stepped into the cafe. He wore dark shades that reflected the world around you in shades of black when you looked at him - blue jeans, a light blue button-down shirt, and the green jacket overtop had a bright gold star pinned to the chest, and another one on each shoulder. This was Sheriff James Valenti the second. Every teenage in town knew him on sight, and most were scared shitless of him, whether or not the guys would admit it to their macho buddies.

Liz didn't have any reason to act macho. *She* was scared of the Sheriff, even though she knew he was the father of Kyle, one of her closest friends. She'd admit it to anyone who asked.

Fortunately, no-one ever had.

"Cyprus oil, it, um, it reduces stress," Maria volunteered. She had been caught in the middle of taking a sniff out of a tiny bottle when Valenti made his entrance, an action which obviously felt suspicious enough that she felt she had to explain herself. Jim didn't even nod, he just paused a second in acknowledgement and walked up to where Liz and her father were sitting.

He took off those shades before he spoke. "You okay?" That helped, without those dark glasses he looked somewhat less frightening and a considerable margin more concernes - possibly even protective. There was still a no-nonsense air that Valenti carried about himself like an insisible cloak, though.

"Yeah, thanks, I'm just a little shaken up," Liz said, forcing a smile. What would she say if he started asking more questions?

Fortunately, the deputy spared her that, for the moment anyways, "Sir, the suspects ran out right after the in-cident o-ccured," he drawled, taking his superior aside in a relaxed gesture. "Couple of outsiders, no apparent robbery, no injuries other than the girl that fell. Just seems like an argument that got outta hand." A second after he finished his report, the door to the kitchen squeaked, and the deputy growled out, "Hey, I told you two to *stay outta* there!"

It was the UFO-nuts-couple, who turned around guiltily after being yelled at. "Couple of tourists, in town for the Crash," the Deputy explained for Valenti's benefit. He had already taken their statements.

Around this point, Alex got up, sat down next to Liz on the opposite side from her father, and very unobtrusively took one of her hands in his. Liz smiled shyly at him, grateful for the moral support.

"Uh, Sheriff, hi?" the UFO nut guy said, waving sheepishly at the lawmen. "Um, um, I'm sorry, I really need to talk to you. I think something *happened* here."

"What do you think 'happened?'" Valenti asked unflappably. He was always unflappable, it seemed.

"The gunman was... was, was standing right over there, right?" the UFO guy stuttered. Uh-oh. This did not sound good. What had this bozo's wild imagination managed to reconstruct? "And the gun was fired into this direction." He waved from the far table towards the kitchen window. Liz couldn't keep herself from standing up in alarm. "Now, Jen and I..." brief nod to blonde short hair, "We searched this entire place up and down, and -- I mean, there's... where's the bullet?"

**This is bad.**

"We haven't found a bullet hole yet, Sheriff," the deputy added.

"Yeah, and uh, Sheriff, before it happened, the girl gave me this." The nut guy handed Liz's picture to Valenti. **Oh, god, no.** At least that had no real connection with what actually happened, but it would just make the situation look more strange.

Valenti handed the photo off to Mister Parker, who had stood up. "Jeff?"

Jeff Parker barely even needed to look at it. "Lizzie?"

Liz sighed. "Yeah?"

"I told you about showing the alien photo to tourists."

Meanwhile, Valenti was nosing around the table where Max and Tess had been sitting. Eager to prove that she could cause even more trouble than her boyfriend, UFO girl... **he called her Jen right?** put in "There were two kids sitting over here when it happened, a boy and a girl about her age. And then one of them went--"

"Uh yeah, that's right, there were," Liz broke in, rushing up to the sheriff. She didn't want anything about Max Evans' involvement here to reach Valenti. She still didn't understand what had happened - didn't know if *anything* had happened beyond her imagination, but if there was any chance that Max had... helped her, she didn't want to betray the one thing he had asked of her. "But you know, I didn't recognize them, so they must have just been tourists."

"No, no, it sure looked like she knew them to me..." the nut guy persisted...

* * * * *

Afternoon was turning to evening by the time Liz had finally (she hoped,) thrown Valenti off of Max's trail. She hurried up the stairs to her family's apartment above the restaurant, and kept on going until she had closed the door to her room. Opening up the suede jacket she had been using to deflect any attention from the blue one-piece waitress uniform, she prodded delicately at the part of the stomach where *it* had happened.

No soreness, but the stains had hardened in a way that ketchup alone definitely did not react. And it almost looked like there were... powder burns? **Ridiculous. You only get powder burns at close range. I was - what, thirty-five feet away from that gun??** Still... there was a black powdery-ness there that couldn't help but seem suspicious, even if it was only dust and dirt that had gotten mixed in with the blood and the ketchup.

Suddenly dynamic, Liz pulled the buttons apart and shucked off the uniform. **I have to keep this away from ANYONE until I can find a way to clean it. Or dispose of it...** From the inside of the outfit, Liz could see the bullet hole clearly, without the ketchup stains confusing the situation. Even if she cleaned the uniform, that hole could arouse questions. **So what do I do, bury it out in the desert somewhere??** Unable to come to an immediate decision, she shoved the uniform into her bookbag, carefully, so that neither the stains nor the bullet hole were immediately exposed.

Sighing with at least some sense of satisfaction, Liz crossed over towards her dresser, to get some street clothes to wear. But on the way, something caught her attention in the mirror.

As she turned to face her reflection, Liz didn't spare even the usual half a second for her mid-length, dark hair with the perm wearing out, for the silver chain her Grampa Cameron had given her for her birthday around her neck, for her trim figure in the black underwear she had had on underneath the Crashdown uniform.

On her stomach, spanning across the area where the bullet had struck her, a pattern was marked out in glowing silver against Liz's skin. An elliptical blob here, a longer line there, and a comblike pattern with four parallel strokes.

Together they made an unmistakeable handprint pattern.

Max Evans' handprint.

* * * * *

"...For this experiment, you'll be working in teams of two," Miss Goldson, the so-called 'biology teacher,' (in Liz's opinion, the young woman was clearly an artsy teacher's school graduate who had been picked to cover the retirement of Doctor Schwidt as cheaply as possible. So far, the evidence would suggest that Liz already knew more about science than the teacher.) Uh, anyways... after that little announcement, Liz shot a glance nervously towards the classroom door.

Max Evans was her lab partner, about the only thing they knew each other from before yesterday, and he hadn't shown up for class yet. Was he avoiding her because of... of whatever had happened in the cafe? Ah well, if he didn't arrive, Liz could probably just do the assignment hers-- and then there he was, making his way through the door with a long drawn-out sigh, and looking as handsome as ever in a slate blue sweater with a small V-neck.

"Mister Evans, so nice to have you join us," Miss Goldson quipped. Max sat down on the stool beside Liz, his books going into the lab table and a pencil into his mouth without a word. That much was par for the course - well, not Max chewing on a pencil, because he didn't often. But he didn't talk much. Oh sure, occasionally when they were waiting for a long boring experiment to finish Liz could prod him into some small talk. But even then he always steered carefully clear of anything too personal - his family, his friends, his own opinions on anything more serious than the pros and cons of rap music or the latest Ryan Phillipe movie.

"Partners on the left, prepare a slide with the vegetable sampling," the teacher continued. "Partners on the right, take a toothpick and get a sample from your cheek." Liz and Max each glanced at each other and took a fraction of a second to work it out. Max was on the right. He took the pencil out of his mouth and stood up. "Mister Evans?" Miss Goldson sighed.

"Could I get a bathroom pass?" Max asked nervously.

"High maintenance today, aren't we?" the teacher joked, waving him up and taking one of the small slips of paper off of her desk and jotting a few words down on it. As she started to ramble on again about what makes the millions of species of life different from each other, Liz watched Max go and wondered what that had all been about.

Sigh. She'd probably better do both sides of the experiment herself, just to be safe. Liz snagged a few toothpicks from the girl sitting in front of her and drew the end of one against the inside of her mouth. After following painstakingly the correct procedure for making a microscope slide, Liz peered through the eyepiece and started jotting down notes. Very ordinary-looking cells... pink even though she hadn't dyed them with any of the color solutions... she could even pick out a few of the organelles from inside.

After checking the vegetable sample, Max still hadn't returned. Liz started to wonder about the reasons for his disappearing act? Was it possible that Max was actually afraid of something that might be seen on a slide sample??

**Well... if he was so worried, then... then he SHOULDN'T have left his pencil sitting right there.**

Liz suspected on some level that she shouldn't be doing this. But her curiosity about all the strangeness around Max Evans had gotten too high. Quickly she reached over, took hole of the pencil carefully near the point, and scraped carefully from the other end where it had been in Max's mouth. Wondering whether she actually had any cells or not, she added a few drops of the vibrant green dye and put it under the microscope.

She had cells here all right - and what cells!! They were more blocky and angular, more elongated than her regular human cheek cells, and seemed to be surrounded by a tough but supple barrier - not rigid and unyielding like a plant cell's cellular wall, but not thin and flexible like any animal or human cell she'd ever seen before either.

And that wasn't all the strangeness either. Inside the cells - the interior was clearer than any sample Liz had ever taken before - most of the protoplasm seemed to be glowing with a greenish intensity that brightened and dimmed on about a two and a half second cycle. The nucleus was about normal, but there were subcellular structures here completely unfamiliar to Liz - including some that almost seemed to gleam with purple and orangle lights, like tiny little stars.

"Fascinating, isn't it, Miss Parker?" Liz looked up from the microscope in total terror, only to find Miss Goldson smiling blandly at her. **She has to think you're only doing the usual experiment.**

"Uh, yeah..." Liz answered vaguely, not sure what she would say next. She didn't have to. Miss Goldson grinned momentarily and moved on to the next table.

Suddenly panicking, Liz took the slide out of the microscope, took off the tiny plastic cover, and sprayed both it and the sample area on the slide with the sterilizing solution that she had used to clean and prepare the slides before beginning. Another check on the microscope revealed nothing out of the ordinary. Max's pencil went into her pocket.

Max showed up just in time to collect his books and Liz's notes before the class bell rung - he had to have timed it that way. As Max hurried off with the first tide of students eager to leave bio 201, Liz made a decision. **I can't leave it like this.** She rushed after Max Evans and soon was within a few feet of him in the east hallway. "Max, Max!!" A stoner-looking short guy bumped into her, costing precious momentum. "Excuse me," and she pushed her way around him, calling again. "Max, I have to talk to you!" She was hurrying up to his side by the time she said that, and Max turned to her curiously, and with a worried expression on his face.

She grabbed his arm and made a split-second decision as to where to go. The music room was nearby, and she didn't think any band class would be in session this period. As she led the way, the concentric semicircles of chairs were all empty, except for one. Liz immediately recognized the unruly dark hair and the ears cutely sticking out too far. **Alex.**

He didn't notice her at first. Alex's trusty bass guitar was slung over his lap and he was riffing around - obviously just having fun with it. **You can't deny it, though... the guy's got a good sense of sound.** Liz shook off her temptation to listen longer and spoke up. "Alex?"

He looked up at her, smiling. "Hey!"

"Hey," Liz answered back quickly.

"Hello, Max." Liz glanced to her side - Max had pulled up next to her.

"Hey, Alex."

"So... you doing okay today?" Alex asked her with a nod of friendly concern... or was that 'more-than-friendly' concern? Liz could never tell.

"Oh, yeah, I'm good. Sorry for blowing you off last night, I was just so..."

"Shaken up," Alex finished for her.

Liz stumbled momentarily at that intercepted completion. "Um... yeah. When the gun went off. But hey, you know, boom!! Way loud and then it's over."

Alex nodded his eyes narrowing for a moment and then he was back to normal. "So, what are you guys doing in here?"

"Umm... I was looking for..." As usual, Liz felt like she could never come up with a really good lie on the spot. "For a place we could study for our bio midterm."

"Oh, right." Alex unclipped the shoulder strap from his guitar and pulled out the case. "Biology. Lab partners. Well, I'll just get out of your hair."

"You don't have to," Liz heard herself saying. "You were here first, you've got first dibs if you wanna practice..."

"Naw, I should be getting down to the computer lab anyways." He finished packing up the bass guitar. "Good luck with the biology. Uh, Liz..." He pointed a finger in her direction, then did a double-take and swiped it away when he realized how much it might resemble a pointing gun. "You wanna go see 'Bowfinger' sometime? C'mon... Show business con artist hijinks!! Plus, Eddie Martin caught up in many strange situations that he doesn't understand!"

Liz had to laugh. "Okay... call me after school."

Alex smiled and headed for the door. "You got it. Have a nice day, Max Evans."

Liz watched him leave. "What's the deal with you two?" Max asked. "Are you dating?"

"Not... officially..." Liz sighed. "That's not what we're here to talk about." She turned to face Max. "Okay, first of all...." No words seemed to come that would fit so she just finished, ever so lamely, with "this." And she lifted up the fabric of her red tank top to show the still-glowing handprint on her midriff.

Max stared at it, obviously completely taken aback. "Wow."

Liz brought her hem back down. "And... and I scraped some cells from your pencil," she continued. "This - this is really hard to say -- I'm trying to keep from blacking out here. Um: the cells aren't normal." She blurted that last phrase out. Deep breath. "So, Max... what I'm going to suggest to you is that we just go back to the bio lab now, so that I can take a sample so that we can both see what went wrong, you know? That I got the wrong cells." There. She'd said it.

Max sighed. "You didn't get the wrong cells, Liz."

Liz blinked in surprise. She certainly hadn't expected him to say *that.* "Okay, um... so help me out here, Max. I mean... what are you?" She hadn't meant to blurt it out like that, but maybe it was for the best.

"Well, I'm not from around here," he said, shaking his head slightly.

"Where you from?" Max just pointed up into the air with one finger. "Up north?" Liz whispered, knowing that she was playing dumb, but she couldn't quite get her brain around what Max seemed to be hinting.

Max just pointed his finger even higher, and Liz shook her head. It didn't help that the light was behind his head from her perspective, throwing out a surreal nimbus of light about him like he was E. T. "I mean, you're not an... an *a-alien*, I mean... Are you?"

"I prefer the term 'Not of this earth." Max whispered softly. Liz shot him a dark look. "Sorry, just, it's not a good time to joke." He heaved a deep breath. "Yeah, I am. Wow, it's weird to actually say it."

Suddenly, Liz *so* didn't want to be here for the epiphany of Max Evans coming to terms with his transstellar heritage. Instinctively, she pulled her backpack on tighter and turned to go. "Liz," Max called out to her.

"Um, Max, you know, I have..." she babbled. "I'm gonna be late for my US government class, so I'm just gonna..."

And suddenly he rushed forward, slamming the music room door before she could open it and holding it closed. "Liz, listen to me. You can't talk to *anyone* about this. Not Alex, not Maria, not your parents. *No one*. You don't understand what'll happen if you do! Liz, please? Now *my* life is in YOUR hands."

She looked up into those big brown eyes of his, nodded ever so slightly, and then turned to go.
posted on 25-Mar-2002 10:46:06 PM by Chrisken
Title: In another world (tentative)
Author: Chris Kenworthy
Email: chris⊕chriskweb.net
Rating: PG?
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters or premise of 'Roswell,' look for Melinda Metz, Jason Katims, or the Fox head honchos. I just write stories here. :]
Category: Very AU, skewed reality version of... well, early season 1 to start with. UC couples leading to CC couples - yes, it's homecoming backwards. ;-)
Spoilers: Well, if you haven't seen the pilot, what are you doing here? ;-) Any events from the show might appear here, somewhat distorted. Familiarity with early season 1 will probably help you to make sense of all the clever things I'm trying to do. :-D
Dedication: To all you rabid dreamers and candygirls. I dunno if you're gonna love this or hate it, but either way it's *all for you.* hehehehe.

Note: Anyone with a sensitive stomach when it comes to Max/Tess affectionate scenes... SUCK IT UP!! :-D It's not that bad.


"Go over it for me again."

Alex looked up from his fish sticks to Maria DeLucca and sighed. "I've already gone over it, like, what, four times??" He sighed. It wasn't that easy to sway Maria once she made her mind up. "Okay... you go on bathroom break."

"Gotit."

"Liz and I make a few awkward comments, trying to deal with the Maria DeLucca 'Real Deal' backwash," Alex enumerated, getting a sour look from his friend. "The first guy starts yelling, knocking over plates and such. The second guy draws a gun, and everybody's ducking and covering while they grapple for it. Except Liz, who doesn't have anywhere to go, and looks too stunned to move anyways."

"Alright..." Maria replied, the gears turning inside her head as she processed this.

"Now, I didn't have a great view of what happened next, but the gun went off, and Liz kinda lost her balance, and it looked like there was red on the front of her uniform. I was just going to take a closer look when that Max Evans guy comes rushing up and tells me to call an ambulance, which didn't sound like a bad idea." He sighed. "It looked like Tess was doing crowd control, keeping the tourist nuts from getting in the way while Max saw if Liz was hurt."

"Okay, and then...?" Maria prompted again.

"Well, once I've given all the details to the 911 operator and got back to Liz... well, she was fine. Telling everybody that she'd fallen, and spilled ketchup, and all that. Max and Tess were leaving just around then... and it wasn't too long before the paramedics and the deputy showed up."

"Okay... thanks, Alex," Maria smiled at him. "I just needed to hear that one more time. It was a non-event, right? One of those things that could have become a tragedy with a little bad luck, but we got good luck and it didn't, you know what I mean?"

"Yeah, maybe..." Alex replied, eating one of his fish sticks. For the first time he looked more worried than Maria about the whole thing.

* * * * *

Meanwhile, several miles away, radio loudspeakers were announcing the prize for the best costume at the Crash festival at he Mexican food stand out on route 256. Max and Isabel Evans, Michael Guerin, and Tess Martin were having lunch at one of the wooden tables set up on a patch of desert between the kitchen and the parking lot.

"I can't believe this, Max," Isabel hissed quietly but intensely at her brother. "You know, I finally feel like we have a quasi-normal existence and you go and *blow* it all with one random act of LUNACY!" Frustrated at the reaction she wasn't getting from Max, she turned to a new target. "How did you let my misguided brother do this??"

"Hey, I didn't *let* him do anything," Tess maintained with a quaver in her voice. "He WENT. Once the deed was done I *tried* to help cover all our tracks, but I accept no responsibility here."

"Look, I said I was sorry," Max offered weakly.

"'Sorry'?" Michael mimicked. "You wouldn't let me get away with anything approaching sorry if I pulled the same kind of thing, and admit it. We all swore to that pact, Maxwell, and put our own blood to it. And *you* were the one who insisted to it in the first place. So forgive us if we're not gonna let you off the hook easy."

"You use *your* powers all the time," Max argued weakly at Michael.

"Yeah, when I need to, to keep Hank off my case or something. But it's not about the powers, it's about how you use them. I don't do anything that would look suspicious."

"The important thing," Tess broke in, intent on keeping Max and Michael from going at each other's throats when the four of them, as a group, had whales to fry. "...is to contain this. We just have to figure out what to say to 'Miss Scientist.'" Max had just gotten up to telling the three of them how Liz Parker had confronted him about his strange cells when Isabel couldn't contain her frustration any longer.

Isabel considered a moment, and then caught the awkward expression on Max's face. "Oh my god," she breathed, "you told her the truth."

"I didn't have a choice," Max claimed. "It's gonna be okay."

"Don't you realize that everything has changed?" Tess chimed in.

"No, it hasn't."

"Max, she's right, we're screwed." Michael stood up, leaving the rest of his lunch sitting on the table, and added "It's time to leave Roswell." In the silence that followed, Michael walked off towards Max's Jeep. Somewhat awkwardly, the other three got up and followed him.

"Michael, we can't just leave," Isabel said. Something about the air around them had changed when Michael said that last phrase. Suddenly it wasn't three of them playing 'gang up on Max' anymore. The dynamics had suddenly gotten more complicated.

"Yeah, we can," Michael insisted. "We've always known this day might come. We *said* that when it did, we'd be prepared."

"Michael, were are we gonna go?" Max asked as he opened the driver's door to his car. "You know that Roswell's home."

Checking to make sure no-one else was within earshot, Michael shot back "Roswell's not home," as he got into the back seat diagonally opposite Max. "It's not even in our solar system."

"Well, this is the closest thing we *have* to home right now," Isabel put in.

"For you two maybe," Tess argued. She was sitting in the shotgun seat, as per usual. "It was you the Evans' found on the side of the road, not us. The Martins might have adopted me, but it's not like they're real parents to me."

"My foster dad just keeps me around for the monthly cheque," Michael put in.

"This is gonna be okay," Max said, trying to cut through the same old arguments. "We should just lay low. Go back to school and act normal."

"Act normal?" Isabel repeated, suddenly turning on her brother. "That's your big plan, Max? Don't you realize it's only a matter of time before they find us and turn us over to a labful of government doctors who are going to prod us and examine us and... what was that last one? Oh yeah, *EXTERMINATE US*?"

Max knew better than to argue with her sister when she was in a mood like this, so he just put Bob (the Jeep,) into gear and pulled out of the parking log in a cloud of dust.

About a minute later, as they sped back into town, Tess caught his eye and nodded slightly, which was enough to make Max feel better. She was scared, like they all were scared, but she'd stand by him. That meant the world to Max when things were falling apart.

* * * * *

Maria was waiting for Liz when she got out of the bathroom. "Hey, homegirl, how's it hanging??"

Liz smiled, grateful for the distraction. "Is that it? No more badgering me about what happened at the cafe last night?" she whispered, falling into step beside her best girlfriend.

"Nah... I figured after dealing with Alex, your parents, and the Sherrif, you'd have had enough," Maria replied with a wide smile in return. "Hey... you're blushing. Did Alex neglect to dish in a little gossip at lunch??"

Liz grinned, shaking her head. **How does she DO that??** "Hmm... well, our good friend Alex Charles Whitman invited me to *another* friendly movie evening. 'Bowfinger.'"

"Oh... I *hate* Heather Graham," Maria commented in an aside. "Nobody should be allowed to be that pretty *and* that perky. As far as Alex, what can I say? The poor boy's got it bad."

"Maybe..." Liz sighed, pushing the whole Max Evans bit further out of her mind, and concentrating on Alex. "If so, then why does he never mention the 'date' word? Well, I know, not everybody uses the 'date' word anymore, but... you know what I mean. If he called it a 'thing,' at least then I'd have some idea where we stood, you know?"

"Isn't it a 'thing' by default?" Maria joked. "Well... maybe he's nervous. You know, YOU could always say the 'date' word to *him* and see what happens."

"Why should *I* have to?" Liz joked back with a laugh.

* * * * *

Max threw a glance over his shoulder to check his blind spot, and noticed that Isabel was playing one of her CD's by holding it up to her ear again. "Could you please *not* do that??" That little trick of hers always freaked Max out - not because it would be suspicious if anyone ever caught her doing it. Isabel was always very good about pulling alien tricks like that only when privacy was secure.

The thing that got up Max's butt about the CD player routine was that he hadn't been able to learn it. Isabel always said she'd been able to figure it out by 'instinct' and practice. Recently, Tess had been giving signs that she was starting to get the hang of it. As far as Max himself, he suspected that he knew too much about the theory behind compact discs and players and the stats were freaking him out. He could 'sense' the codes burned into the underside of the CD - he could make 'sound' by maniuplating the molecules of the air and making them vibrate. He could even create passable music, if he was doing it from memory. But to convert the CD binary codes into the music that they represented on the fly?? Max couldn't do it, and it galled him that Isabel, who knew nothing about the complexities involved, somehow *could.*

"Yeah, like listening to a CD is the problem," Isabel wisecracked, taking the disk down and storing it in its case.

"I couldn't just let her die," he argued weakly. Suddenly a siren sounded out of nowhere from right behind her. Isabel looked back as Max scanned using the rearview mirror. The flashing lights on Valenti's light brown van were obvious.

"Is he pulling us over?" Tess asked somewhat unnecessarily.

"Max, go," Michael recommended, kicking at Tess's seat for emphasis. "Let's get outta here."

"We can't start acting guilty," Max reminded him. He carefully put his right blinkers on, slowly decelerated, bore left until Bob was crawling along the shoulder, and braked. "He *always* pulls kids over," he reminded no-one in particular, turning the ignition off. "He does it all the time. It's nothing."

"Yeah, 'nothing,'" Michael mimicked savagely just before Valenti got to Max's window.

"Your license and registration, please?" the lawman asked crisply... the same exact words he'd used in tens of thousands of similar situations, Max was sure. Tess handed him the small slip of paper from the glove compartment, and Max paired it with the small laminated card from his wallet and passed them to Valenti.

"Thanks, Mister *Evans,*" Valenti said with a nod, stressing his name ever so slightly. Did he suspect something? "We had a little trouble at the Crashdown Cafe yesterday. You kids be careful out there."

**Is he deliberately baiting me? Trying to read something from my face??** Max did his best to not let anything slip, but he couldn't be sure how much success he was having. Of course, with those sunglasses on, it was almost impossible to read Valenti's expression.

Valenti handed back the license and registration. "Yes, sir," Max muttered belatedly.

As the sheriff was getting ready to walk away, he noticed something down in the footspace next to Max's brake pedal. Max followed where he was looking - a half-full bottle of Tabasco sauce. Did that have some significance to him??

"Watch your speed," Valenti said in an offhand way. "Arrive alive." He nodded and headed back to his van.

"We will," Max called after him. He reached for the ignition keys, but Tess snatched them away before he could start the Jeep. Max sighed. "Tess, it's gonna be okay."

"No, it's not!!" Tess lashed out at him. "Our cover is blown! And *I* for one don't wanna hang around and wait for him to catch us."

"No-one is 'caught' yet!!" Max argued back as Tess stepped out of the jeep and turned back to face him. "We don't even know if Valenti is looking for aliens yet."

"Someone is!!" Tess railed back. "Somebody buried the bodies of our parents, Max, whether you want to believe that or not. Why else were we left in the middle of nowhere with nobody to take care of us? Why else does the official report on Roswell say 'weather baloon'? Because somebody doesn't want to face up to the reality of alien vivisections. But they want to find US. You can bet that they do. And guess who could lead them right to you?"

"Liz won't tell anyone," Max countered. "She's..."

"And how did 'Liz' react when you told her who you really were? 'You're an alien, great, that's fantastic!?'"

Max looked away nervously and caught a smirk on Isabel's face, which she replaced with a serious expression and a shrug.

"I didn't think so." She threw the keys onto the seat and stormed off into the desert, leaving Max to figure out what to do now.

"Gee, and I thought *I* was pissed," Michael wise-cracked from the back seat.

* * * * *

"Well, goodnight," Liz said, looking up at Alex as they approached the back kitchen entrance to the cafe.

"Yeah," Alex replied, a smile crossing over his face. "See you in the quad tomorrow morning before first class?"

"Huh? Oh, yeah, sure."

"Liz?" Alex asked a little more intently. Liz caught herself and looked up at him with a more alert expression. "Sorry, it just seems like you've been out of it ever since we left the theater."

"Oh, that. Sorry, it..." **I've been thinking about Max Evans and aliens and the fact that you could have been figuring out what to wear to my funeral right about now.** "I was just thinking. You know, about the movie. With that guy... the big star actor, you know, not realizing that these weird people he was bumping into were other actors. Not realizing that his life was being caught on tape without his permission."

"I don't believe it," Alex scoffed. Liz looked up at him, shocked. "Only Elizabeth Parker could take a screwball comedy like that and figure out a way to squeeze deep thoughts out of it. 'Alien love! Why did you say I prefered *ALIEN LOVE??*'"

Liz cringed. That line had been haunting her too. What a pick for Alex to have made on today of all days! "See you tomorrow, Alex," she replied, forcing a smile.

Alex smiled back and threw her a wide wave, It was getting pretty late, so Liz reached up to switch off the light that shone above the doorway.

She didn't make it to the switch. "Liz?" Alex asked. Liz froze, and then realized that in that pose her nubby sweater and her T-shirt were riding up, exposing her skin right where the handprint could be seen. Quickly she yanked the sweater down. "Goodnight, Alex."

He stared at her, for a second, and then turned away. "Goodnight, Liz."

Once Liz was back up on her balcony, finally alone, she sighed and tried to make sense of the past day and change. First there was Alex. She didn't know what she felt about Alex. She hung out with him, she traded caustic wit with him, she watched movies with him. Maria kept going on about the chemistry she saw between them... was that all in Maria's head? She was dating a guy, so she wanted to see her friends romantically involved too - with each other, if at all possible?

Liz could see dating Alex. He was sweet and funny and not-bad-looking and things were always interesting when he was around, and usually good. The only problem was that she wasn't sure Alex could see dating her. And she didn't want to be the first one to mention it, because with the Maria thing, Alex might well agree to a date - even a long string of dates - just out of curiosity and goodnaturedness, when he really wasn't interested in her that way. And Liz didn't like that idea.

**But what if he's thinking the same thing about you, right now??**

And then there was Max. Liz didn't understand where Max was coming from. **How do you understand an alien??** She had been frightened by that scene in the music room... when he slammed the door on her. On the other hand, he had saved her life... and in the process, had clearly been putting at risk the secret he wanted very much to keep safe.

Liz sighed, staring up towards the stars as if expecting them to answer her questions.

But no answer came.

* * * * *

Max took one last look at the clock on his bedside table and nodded. He had to go and see if Liz Parker was back from whereever yet. He'd spilled the secret to her and he needed to be sure that she wouldn't blab it. He pulled on his jacket and opened the bedroom door.

Tess Martin stood on the other side, her hand lifted up to knock.

"Oh, uh... hi," Tess mumbled awkwardly into the silence. "Your mom let me in."

"Right," Max said, closing the door and irrelevantly remembering how he had overheard his paretns talking about how concerned they were that their 'kids' were so serious about dating the only other orphans they knew in their age group from Roswell. After a few discussions about that Isabel and Michael had volunteered to 'go on break' publicly for a while and see what the Evans' reaction to that would be.

Something like this might be only a minor annoyance to any other teenagers, but nothing seemed to be minor. Anything could mean the difference between life and death if it had the potential to draw suspicion their way. Not least running up to a dark-haired girl in a cafe after a shooting incident.

"I'm sorry about... well, you know, blowing up at you earlier," Tess said, sitting down on his precisely made bed. Max could feal his pulse starting to beat stronger - not just because Tess was pretty, though she was. 'Startlingly beautiful' might be a better term. But it was a combination of reactions that normally knocked Max for a loop the first time in any given hour or so he took a good look at her. The 'Tess Effect.' He shook it off and tried to find his place in the conversation.

"I understand," he said supportively, pulling out a chair and sitting down opposite her. "We're all scared, and we're all taking it out on each other."

"Except you," Tess pointed out, and sighed. "But it's not just that I'm afraid. Not of Valenti and alien-hunting doctors, and what have you, I mean..."

Max knew what Tess would probably dance around for five minutes or so, if he let her, and spontaneously he cut to the chase. "Liz Parker."

Tess nodded, ever so slightly. "I dunno what to make of this, Max. You rush up and do your healing mojo thing on a girl from your bio class, throwing common sense, caution, *and* the pact out the window all at once." Tess took a deep breath. "That I could handle. But at lunch today, it was like everything was 'Liz this' and 'Liz that.'"

"Well... what did you expect?" Max smiled ever so slightly. "Michael and Isabel were double-teaming me. I don't know this Liz girl that well, but I don't think she's the kind of person who'd turn us in, and I wanted to reassure them about that, except neither of them were listening."

"Is that all it is?" Tess pressed. "And why did you risk all of us for her sake in the first place? Was it just instinct? Seeing someone hurt, maybe someone that only *you* could help, and not thinking about the consequences? Or not wanting to let her die and keep yourself - keep all of us safe, when maybe with a little good luck we could all be okay?"

Max fought back a nervous gulp. "Yeah... pretty much. Somewhere in there." He looked up into those brilliant blue eyes of hers.

"Good. Because I'd hate to think that you'd throw me over - and your sister, and Michael - because you were secretly, madly in love with some human girl who you don't even know." And then Tess giggled - it was obviously a joke to her. "So... where were you headed?"

Max thought a second. "Huh? What do you mean??"

Tess laughed again. "The jacket, big boy. Or do you just kind of lounge around in it??"

"Oh." Max joined in the laughter. "Nowhere that can't wait." He took off the jacket. "Oh... I napster-ed a few Sarah MacLachlan songs for you. Wanna take a listen?" He gestured to the desktop computer underneath his bedroom window."

"Twist my arm..." Tess replied in that throaty, flirty voice that she used on such occasions, and laughed out loud. They switched places, Tess taking the chair and pulling it up to the computer table, and Max sitting up against the pillow on his bed and watching his girlfriend's face.

TO BE CONTINUED...
posted on 29-Mar-2002 9:55:48 AM by Chrisken
Title: In another world part 4
Series: Roswell Dreams
Author: Chris Kenworthy
Email: chris⊕chriskweb.net
Rating: PG?
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters or premise of 'Roswell,' look for Melinda Metz, Jason Katims, or the Fox head honchos. I just write stories here. :]
Category: Very AU, skewed reality version of... well, early season 1 to start with. UC couples leading to CC couples - yes, it's homecoming backwards. ;-)
Spoilers: Well, if you haven't seen the pilot, what are you doing here? ;-) Any events from the show might appear here, somewhat distorted. Familiarity with early season 1 will probably help you to make sense of all the clever things I'm trying to do. :-D
Dedication: To all you rabid dreamers and candygirls. I dunno if you're gonna love this or hate it, but either way it's *all for you.* hehehehe.


True to her word, Liz showed up to their 'spot' in the quad fifteen minutes before class the next morning. Maria and Alex were already there, discussing their costumes for the Crash festival that night, and Kyle showed up about a minute after Liz did from the other direction.

"Hey babe," Maria said, greeting her summer sweetie with a kiss. "You up for lunch at the Burrito stop today?!"

"Sorry, no can do," Kyle apologized, draping an arm around Maria's shoulders and sighing. "My dad is insisting on picking me up for some 'father/son' time today at noon. Totally lame, yes, but what can I do about it?"

"If he was my dad, I think I'd be too scared to talk to him," Alex put in. "Except, of course, that that would probably piss him off..."

"He's not that bad," Kyle disclaimed. "The thing with my dad is, you have--"

"Ooh, hold that thought, Kyle, 'kay??" Maria asked. She gestured out across the throng of students. "Ray Sanchez, he's in that band I was telling you about. The one that I'm thinking about joining if they promise me I can write my own songs and they'll perform them if they're any good. I'm gonna go talk to him for a second, alright?" Blowing a kiss to Kyle, she was off.

"Oh-kay..." Alex said after a moment of silence. "Well, Kyle, I guess as long as Maria's got you stuck 'holding that thought,' we need a new topic."

"Uh... whatever," Kyle sighed.

"Hmm... how about... 'When is Maria going to take you in to get your leash resized?'" Alex teased. Kyle fought back a blush and shook his head.

"Come on, Alex," Liz spoke up. "Watch the line."

"Ah, hey Liz," Alex quipped, turning to her, still obviously on too much of a role to stop easily. "How're you this morning? Still radioactive??"

"'Radioactive?!'" Kyle repeated, turning to Liz. "What's this about, Liz?"

"Since when do I keep track of the demented notions that breed like bunnies in Alex Whitman's head?" Liz cut back. "I have no idea. You'd have to ask him."

Actually, Kyle didn't, since as soon as he turned, Alex was more than glad to fill him in on the details. "Liz has this really funky glowing mark on her abs. Like a handprint or something. I saw it last night after walking her home from the movie."

"Hmm..." Kyle considered this, grinning rogueishly. "And what were the two of you doing when you happened on this choice view, Alex? Are manly congrats in order?" He reached out a hand for Alex to high-five if appropriate.

Liz bulled between the two of them, knocking Kyle's hand away. "*We* weren't doing anything - I was turning off the kitchen light. And Alex didn't see anything glowing on my 'abs' because there's nothing there to see."

This was totally ignored by Kyle. "Maybe it's the piece de resistance for her Crash costume." He turned slightly to address Liz. "Did you get some psychedelic glowing paint or something? What does a handprint have to do with aliens anyway?"

Liz toyed briefly with the notion of going with that story - and rejected it. Too many things could go wrong. "No, it's not a costume, it's a delusion. Alex, you must have been seeing things."

"Fine," Alex said levelly. "Then why are your arms wrapped around your waist?" Liz jerked her arms away - she had indeed been crossing her arms somewhat protectively in the vicinity of her stomach. "If there's nothing there, just show me," Alex finished.

"No, I don't think I'm going to show you my stomach in public just because you came up with some crazy story." She sighed. Maria was heading back over, and one more person hearing about this was the last thing that Liz wanted. "Drop it, Alex, okay? Right now. I'm asking you, as a best friend, to drop it. Alright?!"

Alex sighed and dropped his defiant stare. "Okay. But you know the rules, Liz: I get to use that 'best friend' thing next. Right?"

Liz agreed with a nod and a grateful smile, as Maria rejoined them and Kyle started talking about how to handle his dad again.

* * * * *

Max caught up with Liz in the west hall between third and fourth periods.

"Hey, I wanted to talk to you," he said, pulling her aside. "You seemed a little freaked yesterday..."

"Yeah, I know..." she said, looking up at him with that vulnerable smile. "But I'm okay now, believe me. You don't have anything to worry about."

"That's good to hear," Max replied, catching onto the code that they were using to talk about his secret in public. "I wanted to be sure that you're... comfortable - with all th..."

"Max, I gotta go!!" Liz cut him off. "I have comp lab in like one minute, and I can't be late. Don't worry, I'm not gonna crack and spill. Byee!!" And with a frantic wave, she hurried away.

Max shrugged with a little suppressed aggravation and headed off to study hall.

* * * * *

As her sixth period spare began, Liz was rooting around the chairs in the band room looking for her bookbag. It hadn't been in its customary place on her dresser that morning, and Liz had been trying to trace her steps yesterday. She knew she had had it when she'd come in here to talk to Max, so...

"Hey."

Liz turned up to identify who had just spoken to her. "Maria. Hi, listen, have you seen my bookbag anywhere?"

"Uhh... not since yesterday afternoon. Can I talk to you for a second?"

Liz called off the search and gave her best (girl)friend in the world her full attention. "Of course. What's up?"

"Well, I've just been... a little worried about you. Ever since... well, yesterday, you've seemed a little weird. And I don't mean weird in that Liz Parker destined-to-be-great-scientist way we all know and love."

Liz sighed. Another suspicion she had to quash. "C'mon, Maria, aren't you jumping the gun? I'm allowed to have a weird day or two, aren't I??"

"Sure," Maria agreed. "If that's all that there is. On the other hand... if something's going on, I'd hope that you'd talk to someone about it. Doesn't have to be me... Alex, even your parents, the guidance counselor... whoever your pretty little head feels more confortable talking to...." Even Maria had to shake her head to find her place after that ramble. "I just don't want you burying stuff deep inside, 'key? It's not healthy for the aura."

"I'm not burying any stuff deep inside," Liz told Maria with all the sincerity she could muster.

"So you're alright?" Maria pestered.

"I'm alright, okay??" Liz smiled back at Maria.

"Glad to hear it." Maria waved, headed back towards the door, and gasped to see Principal Forrester and the old Indian deputy enter the room.

"There she is," Mister Forrester said, pointing at Liz. Liz gasped in shock. What was *this* about? Maria seemed at least as dumfounded.

"Miss Parker, the Sheriff needs to ask you some questions," the deputy solemnly intoned. Liz looked at the principal, who nodded slowly, and slowly walked towards them.

At least, Liz got to sit in the front of the deputy's county police car. She would have felt totally humiliated if she's had to get into the back like she was being arrested herself. At the Sheriff's station, Liz had to wait in a reception area for a minute or two before Valenti was actually ready to talk to her.

When the secretary told her to go in, Liz could hardly believe her eyes. Walking out the same door Liz was supposed to head into was none other than Alex Charles Whitman. Liz wanted to ask him what this was about, but didn't dare get out of line under the impatient glare of the secretary and the tangible presence of the Sheriff in the next room. She did look into Alex's eyes for a second, and they seemed apologetic, frightened, and disappointed in her all at once.

"Sorry to keep you waiting, Miss Parker," Valenti said in that deadly calm way he had, indicating the chair right in front of his desk. "Your father said it would be all right if I talked to you."

**Dear ol' dad.** Liz nodded, but Valenti hadn't waited for a response from her. "Sorry to have to show you these."

**Show me what??* Liz wondered, and then wished that she hadn't. **Eww!!** A black and white photograph of a man's body in only boxer shorts on a forensic bay was slid onto the table in front of her. As best Liz could figure out, the guy seemed just shy of middle age, and quite likely to be dead. She couldn't suppress a shudder, and somewhere in the back of her mind a little voice said that she shouldn't have tried. **It'll be the reaction that Valenti would expect from a high school girl with nothing to hide.** Fortunately, it was also the reaction of a high school girl with something big to hide.

"This man was found dead, with no apparent cause of death," Valenti was saying, "except..." Another photo was placed above the first, a closer shot of the upper chest, neck, shoulder, and half the face of the unfortunate corpse. This time, Liz *did* have to stifle her reaction. Across the upper chest, near the throat, another handprint faintly glittered on the man's skin. In black and white, it was impossible for Liz to tell how similar on color or tint they were, but the pattern was exactly the same as hers. She couldn't believe it.

"What do you make of that mark?" Valenti asked, pointing to it for unneccesary emphasis. Liz tried to look away from the handprint without making it too obvious that she was doing so, and ended up staring at the categorizing tag that had been paperclipped to the eight by ten piece of photographic paper. 'Coroner Mochtley. J Valenti. Nov 16 1959. 117503'

Liz looked up towards Valenti, only to find him staring down at her. "I have never seen anything like that before," she told him as smoothly and calmly as she could.

"Alex Whitman has just told me that he saw a very similar mark on your stomach last night," Valenti told her with just a trace of self-superiority. "A glowing silver handprint."

"Alex was wrong," Liz whispered, almost feeling like she was commiting a betrayal just by saying the words.

"I'm sure," Valenti responded easygoingly. "From what I hear, he's a young man with quite a wild imagination. But..." the pause was just long enough to somehow telegraph Valenti's seriousness. "I am going to have to see for myself?"

"Why??" Liz burst out. "I mean... silver handprint or no silver handprint... there's no crime involved, is there? No reason for the sheriff to get involved."

"I have my reasons." Now Valenti's tone was unflexible, pure steel. He gestured for her to stand up.

Liz considered passive resistance, but discarded the thought after a second. The way James Valenti was acting about this, she had no doubt that he'd be willing to call in two deputies and have them lift up her sweater and shirt... (only as far as the stomach, of course,) by force if necessary. What's more, making such a big deal out of this would only prove that she had something to hide.

**What would I be doing here if I really knew nothing about Max Evans, if the thing at the Crashdown was really the non-incident it seemed to be.** "Come on, sheriff, I told you that I spilled ketchup, and I... I said that like a thousand times." What had posessed her to say that? Ah well, it wasn't a big stretch to connect the shooting in the cafe to the mark that Valenti was so concerned about. Even for an innocent girl.

"Liz, please," Valenti sighed, all business. Not relenting a fraction of an inch.

**Well, it's over. Might as well try to handle this with grace and some semblance of dignity.** Liz quickly rose to her feet, fingered her sweater nervously for a second or so, and then grabbed the material of the sweater and shirt at the same time and drew them up until her thumbs were almost at her bra-line. She kept watching Valenti's face.

For what seemed like the longest moment he looked clinically at her midriff. Then Valenti's eyes tracked up to meet hers without his head moving a milimeter, but his expression held the faintest touch of confusion, and then... aggravation. Confused herself, Liz looked down, and then bent over so as to get a good look at her own belly.

There was no sign of any kind of silver glow, or any marks at all in the place where the handprint had been. She couldn't resist stretching out a few fingers cautiously to run over the place it had been.

"The glow faded from the corpse, too," Valenti informed her with a resigned sigh. Liz shrugged and sat back down, letting her clothes resume their normal configuration. "What do you know about a kid named Max Evans?"

**Uh-oh, this isn't over yet.** "Max Evans?" Liz repeated. Valenti umm-hmmed promptingly. "Umm..." **Come on, if you don't say SOMETHING soon that's going to look suspicious.** "I don't - really know him all that well." That should sound responsive without helping Valenti out much, and without commiting her to something Valenti could find out was a lie just by asking around at the school.

"Was he one of the kids at the Crashdown that day?" Valenti pushed.

"No." It seemed safer to stick by her original story about that as long as she possibly could. Then again... Alex had recognized Tess, and Liz herself had mentioned that she was there with Max, just in case Alex could possibly have forgotten. And Valenti had just been talking to Alex. Had he testified to Max being there that day?

Well, Liz couldn't come up with the nerve to change her story now. If she was confronted with a direct rebuttal, she could claim 'her mistake' and that she hadn't known Max was there, which would still seem to exonerate Max from anything to do with her.

But Valenti didn't confront her with anything. "I see."

"Can I go back to school now, Sheriff?" Liz blurted out.

Jim nodded, once again the soul of easy-going-ness. **It's amazing how many times the guy can switch attitudes in a matter of minutes.** "Just one more thing." He pulled something out of a desk drawer and put it on the desk. It was Liz's bookbag. "Somebody turned in this bookbag. It *is* yours, isn't it??"

Liz stared at it for a second. She couldn't figure out how it had anything to do with the cat-and-mouse game Valenti had been playing with her. And then the connection dawned on her. She had put her Crashdown uniform in that bookbag. With the bloodstains buried underneath the ketchup stains, and the bullet hole. She had totally forgotten about that while carrying the bag around yesterday. Then the bag went missing, and now it turned up in the sheriff's station. Except...

Nobody had 'turned it in.' Liz was sure of that, just as she was sure that if she looked inside, she would find no uniform. Somewhere, somehow, Sheriff James Valenti the second had deliberately set out to obtain the bookbag and he had succeeded. She couldn't even imagine how he had guessed its significance, and she didn't care. **Was it last night, was he in my room while I was sleeping? Or while I was out at the movies with Alex? Did he do the break and enter job himself or somehow convince one of the deputies to do his dirty work and never say a word??**

Liz couldn't wait to get out of that building. Being there, sharing air with the quote unquote 'lawman' James Valenti, was chilling her right down to the bone.

* * * * *

"A shot was fired," Valenti ranted, pacing back and forth in his office not fifteen minutes later. "There's a bullet hole in the dress. I'm telling you, the girl was shot!!"

The slightly short man sitting down to the side of Valenti's desk stroked his beard thoughtfully. He was mostly bald, with just a bit of dark hair over each ear to complement the patch growing out of his chin, and wore a beige long-sleeved shirt, a dark green vest, and a matching tie. In front of him on the desk were a silver-colored metallic briefcase and a blue waitress' uniform.

Valenti stared at the new man. After several seconds' pause, he slowly and deliberately stood up, not saying a word.

"What are you doing?"

"I have a flying saucer sighting in Phoenix," Agent Stevens said as he opened the case and casually put the uniform inside. "An accountant in Barstow who thinks he's Jesus. Both cases were more solid than this." He said the sentences matter-of-factly, but it was impossible to tell whether he truly believed them or was just trying to puncture Sheriff Valenti's certainties. "I'll have this checked out at the lab." To judge from his tone of voice, he didn't expect that much to come of the checkout. "Call me, Sheriff, if you ever have anything... *real.*" He draped his coat over his arm and left the office.

Valenti hurried after Stevens as he left the station. "Listen, you guys told me to call you if something went down. What happens now?"

"I have the lab check out the dress," Stevens repeated like he was talking to a six-year-old. "I'm gonna handle this case in the proper manner without getting too personal, and I suggest you do the same." He put his sunglasses on.

"I'm not walkin' away from this," Valenti declared, coming to a determined stop a few feet away from Stevens' car. "I'm gonna be a part of this investigation."

Stevens turned around to face him down. "Sheriff, do you know what everyone used to call your father?? Sergeant Martian." Stevens laughed without humor. "You don't wanna end up like him." He opened his car door and got inside.

Valenti moved closer until he was leaning his hand on the car near Stevens' window and looking inside. "Agent Stevens, I was eight years old when my father discovered that corpse. My whole life I thought he was as crazy as everyone else did, crazy to believe. Now I'm not so sure." From the look in the Sheriff's face, one might think he was looking for reassurance, something that was certainly a rare event.

Stevens thought himself up to the task. "Thank you Sheriff. Your work is done now, we'll take it from here." And he started the car and pulled out.

* * * * *

Liz hurried all the way to the other end of the art room, not feeling that a closed door was enough protection. She tossed the book bag onto a table and spun around to face Max Evans. "I need to know the truth, Max."

Max just looked her, seeming somewhat out of place in his blue West Roswell High gym shirt. (Liz had essentially dragged Max out of a gym class - wrestling - to talk to him now.) "I need to know everything, Or I'll... I'm just going to go to Valenti and tell him everything I know."

Liz felt horrible making that threat. But on the other hand, she felt as if she deserved to know. If Valenti was going to be using Liz and her friends as pawns in whatever he was trying to do to Max, the more Liz knew the better she'd be able to protect him.

For another thing, Liz needed a little reassurance that she actually *wanted* to protect Max Evans... That picture - what if Max Evans could have been responsible for that too. He was an alien, he didn't have to age in the same way that humans did. Maybe he wandered the earth, killing people and saving the lives of others as it suited his whim. Liz wasn't so sure she wanted to lie to Valenti to protect someone like that.

"Okay," Max said softly. He didn't seem at all disappointed in the threat Liz had just made, he didn't refer to it at all. To him it was probably just a reasonable request that Liz want to know more of the facts. Now she felt embarassed.

"Okay." Her mind was blanking. Fortunately, she had prepared for that, and dug a little slip of paper out of her jacket. She had wrote a few questions out on the ride back to school without letting Alex or the deputy know what she was doing, by *volunteering* to be in the back this time. "All right, here we go. 'Where did you come from?'" She looked up from the note to see Max's reaction.

For an instant his face was filled with disappointment, pain, and loneliness, and then it cleared as Max tried to answer her question matter-of-factly. "I don't know. When the ship crashed I wasn't born yet."

Liz asked her first unscripted follow-up. "So there was a crash?"

"All I know is, it wasn't a weather balloon that fell that night," Max answered in that same half-joking tone he had used when he said he preferred to be called 'not of this earth.'

Okay... Liz decided to try going a little further afield. "The ship crashed in 1947. But you're sixteen... I mean, are you?"

"We were in some kind of incubation pods," Max explained.

"We??" Liz picked up on, cutting him off.

"Me, my sister, Michael Guerin, and Tess Martin." Liz couldn't contain a smirk and a soft chuckle, and Max picked up on that. "What??"

"Well... I mean, everyone knows that the four of you date... or at least used to." For a wild fraction of a second Liz wondered if it could be possible that all this was a joke. That Max and the people he had just named were ordinary human teenagers who had planned out one heck of a prank, that she really never had been shot.

"Well, you hear such horror stories about dating outside of your species," Max teased. "Last winter, there was this weird V-shape constellation and it kind of - triggered dreams. Very intimate dreams. So yeah... it's a long story, but now we date. Kind of the easiest way of dealing with what we think might be an alien mating instinct."

Liz shook her head. *WAY* too much information, though she might want to ask more about that later, once she was mentally buttressed and what have you. "Okay, moving right along... what powers do you have??"

"Well, I can heal people or animals, when they've been hurt... as you know." Max shrugged diffidently. "When I touch them and look into their eyes, it's like I make a connection. And... we can all manipulate molecular structures."

"What does that mean?" Liz put in. "I mean... I know what the words mean, but what does it mean in practice??"

Max looked around quickly and settled on a tube made of see-through plastic and containing some yellow paint. He concentrated, and new color swirled inside it, finally coming to rest with all of the visible paint being a delicate pink. He handed it over to her.

"I... see..." Liz said slowly, after a few seconds. "The pigments that made this appear yellow are just simple organic compounds, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen in typical proportions. It's the shape of the pigment molecule that makes yellow light reflect off it. By rearranging how the atoms fit together, you destroyed the yellow color and created a pink pigment." Max nodded in agreement.

Liz was lost in thought for a second. Yes, it was a simple demonstration Max had just made for her. But what a power that was. Molecular structure quite literally provided quite literally the foundation of the world around them. With this kind of abilities, Max and his friends could open doors in solid walls, change what writing appeared on virtually any sheet of paper. It was almost certainly the foundation for the healing powers Max had used to save her life. The cellular structures of her body had been disarrayed by the bullet, and Max had restored them by altering the molecules that made up those cells.

It was also a power that could kill - like on Valenti's corpse, perhaps. Alter the molecules of the heart muscle so that they could no longer beat properly.

Max was looking at her. **Move on, quickly... if he hasn't figured this stuff out already, he doesn't need YOU giving him ideas.** "Max, who else knows this??"

"The four of us... and now you."

"What about your parents??" Liz couldn't believe that they would all keep this secret from their parents, (or in Michael Guerin's case, possibly a foster parent, she wasn't sure.)

"We don't tell anyone," Max told her gently. "We sorta think our lives depend on it."

"But then..." For a second Liz had trouble phrasing her thoughts into words. "When you healed me, you risked all this getting out, didn't you?"

"Yeah."

"So why did you do it??"

Max sighed. "Tess asked me that same question last night. I kinda let her believe that it was just altruistic intentions, that I wouldn't have let anyone die under those circumstances if I could possibly help it, that kind of thing. But I'm not sure that's true."

"Um... okay," Liz replied, starting to feel uncomfortable about this.

"I think the fact that it was you... had something to do with it," Max continued slowly. "Not like I've been secretly in love with you and life would lose all meaning if you weren't in this world," he disclaimed. "I love Tess and I'm happy with her. But... I've been aware of you, Liz Parker. I've admired you. And it was the thought of such a senseless tragedy wiping out a life as full of promise as yours that pushed me out of the booth the day before yesterday."

"Okay..." Liz repeated, feeling vaguely flattered. Suddenly, something else occured to her. "Max... what about that handprint. What does it mean??"

"I don't know," Max admitted. "I mean... we've all discovered that we can leave glowing handprints like that on purpose, They fade out after about a day and a half. And I kinda get the impression that there's some... significance to them, although I couldn't quite tell you what. But that one on your stomach was the first time I'd ever seen one that the four of us didn't leave intentionally."

"Valenti showed me a photo of a corpse," Liz told him. "A murder victim. It had the same silver handprint on its chest."

"That can't be," Max said in surprise.

"The photo was marked 1959," Liz continued.

"That's impossible!"

Liz knew she had to tell him the worst now. "Alex saw the handprint on my stomach, and Valenti stole the waitress uniform with the bullet hole in it. He asked me if you were in the cafe during the shooting. Max, he suspects you."

Now, it was Max who was rushing away. "Max..." Liz called after him.

"I have to go," he mumbled over his shoulder.

"Wait, go, where? Where are you going!?" As Max slipped out the art room door, Liz rushed to follow him. "Max, wait! Max!!"

As Liz burst out into the corridor, a pack of strange-looking creatures in shades of gold, green, silver, and purple screamed around her. Liz bashed into a furry brown alien, and screamed. It took her a few seconds to realize that these 'aliens' were just fellow high school students, excited and already in their costumes for the Crash festival tonight.

* * * * *

Max sighed as he climbed up the long straight staircase in his parents' house. This was the first stop, to pick up his essentials, fill Isabel in on the situation, call ahead to Tess and Michael. Then swing by the Martin house and rendezvous with Michael about halfway from the trailer park.

Everything had changed now. Before Liz had told him about that interview with Valenti, he had bene the firmest apologetic for staying in Roswell, hiding in plain sight, pretending to be ordinary kids. **But hiding in plain sight only works against people who don't know exactly what to look for.** Mentally, Max had just done a complete flip-flop. Leaving town was their only way.

He passed by Isabel's door and swung it open witout knocking. Iz was lying on her back on her bed, already in her spandex seven-of-nine-ish costume, legs up in the air, trying to straighten out some detail with her boots or something. "Forget the festival," Max blurted out. "It's time to leave.

Isabel sat up and looked at him, a stunned expression on her face.

TO BE CONTINUED...
posted on 31-Mar-2002 12:18:06 PM by Chrisken
Title: In another world part 5
Series: Roswell Dreams
Author: Chris Kenworthy
Email: chris⊕chriskweb.net
Rating: PG?
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters or premise of 'Roswell,' look for Melinda Metz, Jason Katims, or the Fox head honchos. I just write stories here. :]
Category: Very AU, skewed reality version of... well, early season 1 to start with. UC couples leading to CC couples - yes, it's homecoming backwards. ;-)
Spoilers: Well, if you haven't seen the pilot, what are you doing here? ;-) Any events from the show might appear here, somewhat distorted. Familiarity with early season 1 will probably help you to make sense of all the clever things I'm trying to do. :-D
Dedication: To all you rabid dreamers and candygirls. I dunno if you're gonna love this or hate it, but either way it's *all for you.* hehehehe.

Michael stepped up into the Jeep before Max had brought it to a complete stop. Isabel was in the front seat this time, with Tess sitting right behind her. Isabel shot a look back at her alien soulmate.

"Where's your stuff?" she asked in a low tone.

"I'm wearing it," Michael shot back.

Max put the car back into gear.

* * * * *

"Thanks, Mrs. Whitman." Liz hurried up the stairs to Alex's room, knocked twice, and then let herself in without even pausing. Alex was sitting at his laptop. Liz closed the door and hurried over to him. "We gotta talk."

Alex looked up from the computer screen and turned to face her - and Liz couldn't fight back a shriek. "Eeeee!!"

Alex's eyes were dominated by huge black circles... when he looked her way Liz could see a tiny flash of white, but this was definitely NOT normal. Liz skittered back a few steps in alarm. Had some horrible alien force taken over Alex's body? As a way of getting to Max and the others?

Then Alex's face shifted into his usual expression of confusion, and he chuckled. "Sorry about that." He opened his left eye wide and popped out a huge black contact lense from it. "My costume for the Crash festival. I'm going for the 'Black cancer victim.' Like in the X-files. Whatcha think?"

"I, uh... certainly found it convincing," Liz told him seriously. Now one of Alex's eyes was normal and the other was still hugely black. "Umm... could you take the other black eye out? We need to talk."

"Hmm?" After a second Alex nodded, put the first contact lens into a little container, then popped the second one out. Frustrated, Liz turned away until she checked back and he was done, normal Alex once again.

"Okay. You were talking with Sheriff Valenti today?" Liz started off.

"Yeah... he had that young, enthusiastic deputy pull me out of advanced algabra class. You??"

"I was on spare, and the old indian deputy found me in the band room," Liz sighed. "What did Valenti ask you? What did you tell him?? He said that you'd told him about the handprint."

"Yes, I did." Alex sighed heavily. "I know you used 'best friends' on me, but I don't think best friends covers lying flat out to the police. Not when I don't know when all this is about." He stared into Liz's eyes, daring her to disagree.

"What else?" Liz replied flatly.

Alex gestured to his bed, and Liz reluctantly sat down. "Umm... he asked if Max had been in the cafe when you were shot. I admitted that he was there, I'm sorry, but he caught me off guard with that one. On the other side, I denied that he had run up to you and said something about he and Tess ran out as soon as the shot was fired. I figured that was the best way to cover up without drawing attention to what you'd said to the sheriff about him not being there."

Liz sighed. "Well... I guess you're right, I couldn't have expected you to cover up any more than that."

"And I didn't speak up about *this*... because Valenti didn't ask about it," Alex continued, opening up a drawer in his little desk and handing something to Liz from it. It was a crashdown waitress' order book - *her* order book, with bright red stains on it. "Those aren't ketchup," Alex announced. "No way, no how, not buying it. Which makes me ask you: what is going on??"

Liz looked at Alex for a long time. She'd known him ever since his family had moved to Roswell from California in the fifth grade. They'd sworn blood brother and sister when they were eleven. Liz never thought she'd be keeping a secret from him.

But she had to. "It's not my secret to tell, Alex."

"I don't have to guess whose it is," Alex sighed. "And I can respect that. But consider this, when Max Evans entrusted you with his secret, he was expressing faith in your judgement. If you have faith in me, you should be able to pass that secret along to me. That way, I can help protect it too, since I obviously know stuff that you would rather I didn't spread around."

Liz groaned. "Alex, 'The only way to keep a secret is to *keep it*.'" That was a quote from a fantasy novel they had both loved two years ago.

"I don't believe that, not any more. Sure, it works in theory, but it doesn't measure up in practice." Alex sighed. "But I'm not gonna be able to convince you of that? Well... never mind. If you do feel like sharing this secret, I will protect it as carefully as I would one of my own - or one of yours. It's up to you." He let out a long rush of air. "So... do you wanna talk about something else?"

Something started building up in Liz. What Alex had been saying... the pressure from inside her to confide in someone she really knew about all this. Maria's words kept ringing in her ears: 'You shouldn't bury stuff like this inside. It's not good for the aura...'

"Max Evans is an alien," Liz blurted out. Alex turned to face her in shock. "I was shot and dying that day in the cafe, until he used his healing powers on me. I owe him my life, and the one thing he's asked of me is that I try to help keep him from landing in some government lab because of it. I intend to follow through."

"I, I..." Alex squeaked, looking pale as a ghost. Finally... "I need air."

"Okay, come on." Liz got up and closed the distance between herself and Alex. "Let's go take a walk. Or a drive. Whatever you want."

* * * * *

"So..." Michael leaned in towards the front seat. "With this picture, what we're saying is, there's more of us??"

"One more," Max said cautiously. "Or at least there was in 1959."

"So then there's hope!" Michael continued. "I mean, if we can find him, he can tell us who we are, where we came from..."

"Michael, calm down," Isabel suggested from the front seat. She was still wearing the dramatic makeup from her crash festival costume, and the costume itself, though she had a soft white coat on overtop. "We had one potential relative forty years ago. All we know about him is he was a potential murderer."

* * * * *

"Okay, let me try to get this straight," Alex said after taking a deep breath out the window. Liz was behind the wheel of the Whitman family Ford Taurus - she didn't exactly have her full driver's license, but she was sure whe was better behind the wheel right now than Alex. "Max was in the 1947 crash??"

"Yeah, I think so... as a tiny little alien pod or something," Liz replied as matter-of-factly as she could.

"But that was fifty-two years ago, and he's..."

"He's sixteen, yeah, I know..." Liz finished with a smile. "He said something about incubation time, but wasn't real specific. Next?"

"And they just assumed human form? I mean, the human body is the most complicated machine known to exist, how could they..."

"Alex, I don't know the answers to all these questions, I didn't ask," Liz burst out. "The point is, do you believe m-- Oh my god, that's him." Liz distinctly picked Max's face out from behind the wheel of the Jeep going the other way. She looked around for somewhere good to turn around, then declared, "I'm cutting a U-ie."

"Cutting a U-ie?" Alex replied, disturbed and disbelieving. "Liz..."

"I've got to talk to him again, Alex." And then Liz cut the steering wheel hard right, bringing the Taurus further into the currently empty oncoming traffic lanes as it turned further sideways and decreased in speed. Once the car finally came to a stop, it was pointing three-quarters of the way around in the other direction and Liz pushed on the gas again, straightening out and charging after the now-distant Jeep.

"Oh my god, Liz, you're nuts," Alex groaned.

"No, I'm not, I've just gotta catch him," Liz argued.

"Catch him? Liz... c'mon. He's in a Jeep and obviously in a hurry. We're in a ninety-three Taurus. You do the math."

But, releative horsepower per pound notwithstanding, Liz was able to keep the pace with Max's Jeep and even gain some ground by flagrantly ignoring the Roswell local speed limits, which the Jeep was at least paying lip service to.

For some reason, Max suddenly braked and took a right turn down an alley, so she followed suit. When she got to the alley, she realized that the far end was blocked by some kind of truck or construction vehicle. Max was starting to back up, but he wouldn't be able to get back out with the Taurus in the way.

Well, that worked fine for her. Liz very deliberately parked the car right in the middle of the alley, skewed sideways slightly so that it would take up even more room, and opened her door. As she started towards the Jeep, Alex followed behind her, and Max, his sister Isabel Evans, and Tess Martin followed suit.

It was the first time she had gotten a close look at the other three since all this stuff with Max started - it was one of the few times that she'd been near the three of them at all. Michael Guerin seemed your everyday guy from the wrong side of town - light brown hair sticking up from his head, kinda hunky (though nowhere near as handsome as Max Evans was, in Liz's opinion.)

Isabel Evans, Max's sister, seemed to be dressed up in an outfit for the crash festival. Her golden-blonde hair was slicked back, her model-perfect features highlighted with enough makeup to seem overdramatic on purpose without being trailer-park - a glossy coat of foundation, almost no blush, flourescent pink lipstick, white eyeshadow, and dark outlined eyelashes and eyebrows. It was hard to tell under the jacket, but Liz could see bits and pieces of a spandex costume that she somehow knew would accentuate Isabel's strikingly voluptous physique.

And then there was Tess Martin, the alien girlfriend Max had mentioned. She was the shortest of the four of them, with curly blonde hair the color of pale wheat. Unlike Isabel's dramatic model-like beauty, Tess seemed all-american perky. **But then, all-american and alien don't exactly mix, do they? Boy, can these extraterrestrials choose their human appearance or something? There must be something to explain why they all happen to be gorgeous.**

"What are *they* doing here?" Alex whispered to her, pointing to Max's friends and relations. "No, don't tell me there's four!"

"Well..." Liz mumbled back.

"I think I may throw up..."

They were all close enough to talk now, but none of Max's crew were saying anything. **Expecting me to speak up first? Well, I can handle that.** "Alex knows," she started.

"Unbelievable," Tess snorted.

"Look, I'm not gonna tell anyone your secret..." Alex started. He broke off when Michael started towards them threateningly, his hand raised. They both stood their ground, though Liz was remembering what she had been thinking earlier about Max's 'power of molecular manipulation' and what it could mean as an offensive weapon.

"Get your car out of the way. NOW," Michael said bluntly, and Alex stepped back a few steps. Michael was very good with that intimidation thing, but Liz wasn't about to back off yet. For Max's sake, she couldn't. Or so she thought.

"I... I really don't think you should t--try to leave," she stuttered. "It's just gonna show people that you're guilty."

"Guilty of what?" Tess wise-cracked. "Saving your life??"

Liz didn't see any need to answer that, but Max sighed "Tess??"

"Look, I've been thinking here, and I think I've come up with an idea," Liz said, cutting off a possible domestic squabble. The 'idea' had pretty much just flashed into her mind right now, seeing the six of them standing together. "If we can all work together, I think we can throw Valenti off the trail."

"We're *not* together," Tess felt the need to point out. "OUR lives are at risk, not yours. Now move your car."

"Tess," Max said again. "This can't last forever, this... secret. And I don't want it to."

"Look, I can't change what happened," Liz said. "But if you run, Valenti is gonna *know* it's you. You'll be PROVING it for him."

"She's right," Max said softly.

"I should've know you'd side with her," Isabel commented.

"I'm not on anyone's side, Isabel, all right?" Max corrected.

"Well get on a side, Max!!!" she flared. "Because time is running out."

Liz was watching Max's face for the next few seconds. She always thought she could tell the moment that Max did indeed chose a side. Of course, it wasn't one of the two that everyone expected him to choose between. It was his own side.

"You should move the car." he said to Liz. "I'm turning myself in to Valenti."

Liz had to think about those words for a few seconds before they would make sense. If Max went to Valenti and admitted to being an alien or whatever, it would reduce suspicion on the other three. They could probably leave Roswell, or maybe even stay, without getting caught. The only obvious flaw was... well, that Max was giving himself up.

**My life for his freedom. That's what it comes down to. And he's rather take that safety play than risk seeing the same thing for his sister, his girlfriend, his best friend...**

"Max, we said we were all leaving," Michael insisted.

Tess was obviously tracking through the same implications the same way Liz was, and she didn't like the final result. "Max, I can't go without you." Max didn't say anything.

Tess caught Isabel's eye. Isabel nodded slightly. Tess turned back to Liz.

"What's your idea?"

* * * * *

The phone was picked up on the second ring. "Hey, who is this?"

"Maria?" Liz chuckled softly. "It's Liz."

"Liz??" There was a pause. "Did your dad get call privacy or something?"

"Ummm..." Liz took a moment before she could think of a reply. "No, I think your call display is just acting up."

"Ehhhh." Liz could totally picture Maria shrugging vaguely. "So?"

"So... the crash festival. You're going with Kyle, right?"

"Yeah, we'll be near each other... not right together all the time, you know."

"Of course not," Liz said, stifling a laugh. "So... you wanna meet up in front of the podium? Say, forty-five minutes?"

"Love it. You ready to have a little fun tonight?"

"Oh, am I ever!" Liz felt justified in indulging in a quiet "whoo!" into the phone.

"Haha, that's my homegirl," Maria laughed back. "No more weird day?"

How could Liz answer this. "Not so's you'd notice."

"Forty-five minutes. See you then?"

"Def." Liz hung up the phone, and turned to the other young people, (using the term in a non-humanocentric way,) that were scattered around the Evanses' living room area. (Max and Isabel's adopted parents were out at a party for his law practice.) "We've got forty-five minutes. Can we do it??" she announced to the company in general.

"Hehe, don't make me laugh." With a flourish, Tess waved her hand over an old blanket and, in a flash of light, it was changed into a rough pile of green material. This, Tess picked up in her arms and headed towards the downstairs bathroom. "Don't let *him* sneak a peek," she warned Liz, pointing discretely towards Alex. "I've scratched little boys' eyes out for less!"

* * * * *

"Hey." Jim Valenti hurried up to the Indian deputy, Owen Blackwood. "Where is he?" The two of them had split up to cover more ground, and Owen had radioed Valenti that he'd spotted a young man matching the picture of Max Evans.

"There." Owen pointed, and about thirty feet away, through the crowds of festival partyers, Valenti could see Max Evans. His 'costume' of a midnight black suite and tie with a white dress shirt on underneath - possibly a reference to 'Men in black,' that was the only thing that Jim could think of. He hated alien movies.

Owen was speaking again. "What did this kid do, Jim?"

**He broke the laws of nature - and probably the speed of light.** "Never mind that. I'll take it from here, Owen."

* * * * *

Liz caught sight of Valenti making his way through the crowd, slowly but purposefully. Trying to pretend that she hadn't noticed, she continued on, bearing slightly right. After a few seocnds, she turned around and looked for Max. There he was, catching her eye. He'd already seen the sheriff too.

Liz nodded, almost imperceptibly, and Max continued on his way, munching down towards the bottom of his corn dog. Liz carried on too, heading towards the alien action figures booth. Once there, she didn't slow down, but reached out and pulled down a rope that had been hanging from the top of the stand. Letting the rope slip from her fingers, she cast a quick look over towards the parking lot. Isabel had noticed. She'd pass the message along to Michael and Alex.

* * * * *

Max tossed the corn dog stick into a garbage can and slowly turned around. Sure enough, there was Jim Valenti. He stepped forward a few paces, knowing that the Sheriff of Roswell would come the rest of the way to him.

Sure enough, he did just that. "I have some questions for you," he called, loud enough to be heard over the rock music but not for his voice to carry far. Max fought not to look at Liz. Would she be able to hear the conversation between him and Valenti? Probably not. But she knew what she was waiting for.

"What kind of questions?" Max asked, more quietly. That would help to bring Valenti closer to him, which was probably a good thing for this scene.

Valenti stepped closer and quieted down himself. "Were you at the Crashdown Cafe the day of the shooting?"

Max wasn't going to lie about that, even if it meant his story conflicted with Liz's in that detail. "Yes."

Valenti stepped right up to Max, but his voice was getting louder now, out of anger. "What did you do to Liz Parker!?"

"I didn't do anything to her!" Max protested.

"I don't believe that!" Quickly, efficiently, Valenti grabbed on of Max's wrists, spun him around so he faced away, brought his two hands together behind his back, and cuffed them together.

Max didn't resist, but once the handcuffs clicked shut, he couldn't resist wisecracking, "Aren't you gonna read me my rights??"

Valenti sighed, the warm puff of air hitting Max's right ear noticeable against the chill of a desert night coming into town. "Do you have any?" he countered bitterly.

* * * * *

Liz hurried through the alien throngs of the Crash towards the parking lot, knowing what she expected to find there. Sure enough, there was Alex, lying on the dirt ground, apparently hit by his own car. Michael had already gotten out of the car and out of the area.

She was on. Resisting the urge to look over her shoulder... (she still knew where Valenti and Max were supposed to be, and knew that they were within screaming range. "ALEX!!!!"

Isabel Evans hurried up, and so did some of the other partyers. Liz thought she could recognize the UFO nuts from the crashdown, the nosey ones, but she wasn't sure. She hurried towards Alex, purposefully tripping and stumbling so as to not get to him too soon - or block the view.

Another figure was approaching Alex's prone body from the other direction - a definitely female individual, dressed in a flowing green gown and with short green hair. **Okay, if she's shown up, then probably.** Now Liz risked the look back. Valenti had just arrived, pushing a handcuffed Max in front of him. Deputy Owen was just rushing up from a slightly different direction. All eyes were on the girl in green.

What the heck, Liz thought adding a bit more melodrama couldn't hurt. "That's Alex, Sheriff Valenti!" Liz called out. "Help him!"

Meanwhile, the alien lady in green had torn open Alex's shirt and pressed her hand against his chest. Now she pulled the hand back away, and, as Valenti took a cautious step closer, she glared up at him, hissing, baring her teeth ferociously, and revealing her eyes - pools of liquid blackness. Even Valenti was startled for a minute at that, and that was all it took for the green alien to rush away and duck between the parked cars, untraceable for now without a thorough search of the area.

Instead, first the sheriff rushed up to Alex. "What happened here?" Liz could tell that he was looking closely at the silver handpring now marked out on Alex's chest.

Alex coughed and struggled up onto his elbows... Liz knew that he was opening his eyes although she couldn't see them from where she was. "Are you alright?" Valenti asked. Alex nodded.

"Yeah, I... think so," he muttered.

Enough time should have passed now that... yeah, the girl in green was making a break for it. "There she goes!!" someone yelled - it was a crash fan. "There's the girl that went up to her, sheriff, that's her!"

Valenti paused only long enough to tell Owen "Watch him," indicating Max, before he gave chase.

* * * * *

Jim Valenti slowed to a stop as he reached the crowd in front of the Festival podium. He had lost sight of the girl in green and wasn't quite sure which way she had gone... there!! She was standing still and whooping it up like the rest of the partyers... either trying to blend in or secure in the thought that she had shaken off any possible pursuit. Steel in his face, Jim Valenti walked deliberately towards her, grabbing by the shoulder and swinging her around to face him.

"AYYYYYII!!!" Her eyes were normal now, a pretty shade of hazel-brown and her face seemed slightly different. "Sorry, Mister Valenti, but you scared the shit outta me! Oh!!" As the girl cringed in horror at what she'd just said, Jim recognized her - Maria DeLucca, Amy DeLucca's only child and Kyle's new girlfriend.

Sure enough... "Maria! Hey dad, what's up?" An alien figure in a shiny gold cape lifted of its mask to reveal his son Kyle. "What's up??"

"Where... where were you," Valenti forced himself to ask Maria, "just a few minutes ago?"

"Ummm..." Maria blinked in surprise. "We... were over at the snack bar, right Kyle?" Kyle nodded as Maria held up a just-started granola bar. "Have you seen Liz Parker, Mister Valenti?"

"Uhh... Liz Parker," Valenti repeated dully. Fortunately his observational training filled in the necessary details. "Parking lot. There was a slight... incident with young Mister Whitman, but he seems to be alright." And he turned away to rendezvous with Owen. Idly he noticed that some of his fingertips were covered in silver.

* * * * *

Max winced as Valenti slammed him into the wall of the information booth - not hard enough to leave a mark, but hard enough to hurt. "You think you're a smart guy, don't you?" the Sheriff snarled.

"I... don't know what you're talking about," Max protested.

Valenti swung him around so his back was up against the wall. (Max hoped that was only literal and not figurative.) "Don't play games with me, Mister Evans." He waved a few fingers in front of Max's face. "This is paint."

Max looked closely at them. "So it is. Looks like somebody's playing a string of pranks to me."

"Don't gimme that!" Valenti barked. "You went up to Liz Parker in that cafe and you did something to her, and *I* need to know what it was!!"

"I had a hamgurger," Max said, doing his best to keep his emotions in check. "When the gun went off, I ran away." Short sigh. "Did I break the law? Sheriff, are you arresting me?!"

After a second, the Sheriff shook his head and started preparing to unlock the cuffs. "No... your dad would have you out in an hour." **One benefit of having the best lawyer in Roswell for an adoptive father. "But let me tell you something. I'm gonna find out what the truth is. You can count on it." The cuffs back on Valenti's belt, he swung Max up against the wall once more for luck.

"You're a real smart guy," he repeated. "Well, so am I." And he stalked back off to the parking lot.

After checking to make sure that Valenti had really gone and that no-one else seemed to be watching him, Max went off to rendezvous with the others at the chain link fence. All three of them were there, Isabel, Michael, and Tess, who had already ditched the Maria-duplicate-costume, probably in one of the portable toilets. The MC, that first officer guy from Star Trek, was counting down the final seconds, and as Max stepped up to the three people who had been his only true friends and only true family for seven years, the countdown hit zero and the mockup flying saucer was blasted out of its perch on the high cliffs above the park and sent swinging down the cable that would lead it to its doom.

Max had always loved getting into the spirit of the Crash festival before. It was campy, it was corny, and it was a celebration of the fact that even for those who didn't believe a word of it, alienania was a fact of life in Roswell, New Mexico. It was the town's one big claim to fame, it was a staple of the local economy, and it was the one topic which could be guaranteed to get a laugh.

But this year, with the festival coinciding as it had with the worst threat they had yet faced, and one which (as Valenti's parting words hinted) they had only resolved in the short term, not the long run, Max couldn't help but see a savage side to the festivities. This event that everybody here was glorifying -- it might seem like a hoax, but Max knew that it had to have led to the death of people like him, either directly or indirectly.

After swinging down through the air for several seconds, the spaceship touched ground, to the whoops and exaltations of everyone around them. As planned every year, the mockup alien figures were jerked out of their places as the saucer was wrenched to a stop - the 'extraterrestrials' flew threw a sheet of flame and pitched to the rocky ground, burning. More hoots and hollers ensued. Max's feelings of disgust... and fear rose higher. Did these people realize what they were cheering? This representation of tortured death -- was it sanitized simply because the alien figures were 'different'?? And if they realized that Max and his family were *different* too, would the feel any compunction about burning him? He didn't need to look at Tess, Isabel, or Michael to know that they were thinking the same things too.

Isabel flinched, but shook it off and forced herself to keep looking at the burning bodies. The rest of them seemed to have the same idea - that they couldn't avert their eyes from this, that they had to bear in mind what awaited them in this world. As Jonathan Frakes led in another cheer, Max found himself reminded of a line in one of those Star Trek episodes. 'Look upon death, and always remember.'

* * * * *

Liz felt naseous as she watched the reactions of the four of them to the Crash mockup. **What kind of species are WE, that we can glory in something like this?** She turned away, torn apart inside.

Up until now, she had felt some guilt at the deception she had planned, at leading an officer of the american law astray. But everything looked different now. Max had done nothing but to save her life, at considerable risk to her own. It would probably have been more fitting if she had died, that he could have kept his secret safe. And right now, nothing seemed particularly too extreme to keep Max and his friends safe and secure in their anonymity as 'normal teenagers.' Well... mass murder would be going too far, sure, but--

"Hey." Liz turned around, but she knew whose the voice was.

"Hey." She smiled a little as she saw him. "You okay?"

"I guess so." Max gave his best effort of a smile back. "We'll have to be extra careful for a while, but..." he trailed off there, not quite sure what to say.

"Listen, Max?" Max nodded and looked at her. "I never really got around to thanking you. For saving my life."

"Thank *you*," Max said back, and Liz realized that what she had done here tonight meant as much to Max, as what he had done in the Crashdown meant to her. Possibly more. They stayed silent for a few long seconds.

"Well, um..." Max turned back to look around, "I'd better be getting back. None of us are really in the celebrating mood, you know."

"Yeah," Liz agreed.

"You wanna ride? The Jeep'll be a little crowded, but..."

"No, that's alright," Liz assured him. "The cafe isn't too far away - I'll walk." She waved goodbye and took a bearing on home. Maria would probably be upset that they hadn't gotten together, buut Liz was tired and she knew that she couldn't keep up a normal facade right now.

It had definitely been a wild couple of days, Liz reflected as she walked. Her sensation of being a normal small-town girl, just living a normal life... had definitely taken quite a hit, if not been disrupted entirely and for good. But in exchange... look how much she had gained. **I'll definitely appreciate the little things more, because I know what it feels like to face that moment where you think you have none of them left. I've been told one of the biggest, most mind-blowing secrets there can be in this world, and passed it on in turn to my best friend. I have a new friend in Max Evans, and potentially in the other three. They're scared, and not ready to open up just yet, but maybe in time...**

Liz walked the rest of the way back to the Crashdown lost in her thoughts, said goodnight to her parents, stripped out of her black leather festival costume, put on a nightgown, and opened the windows. The night wasn't as cold as it had seemed to be just an hour ago - probably a Mexican wind was moving in, carrying warmth with it.

"Liz!!" The voice was almost too quiet for Liz to hear as she lay on her bed, idly connecting patterns of dots on a sheet of paper. "Liz!!" It was coming from outside her window, and Liz climbed outside onto her little 'balcony.' Since no-one was there she looked down over the edge.

"Hi, Liz." It was Alex. "Can I come up?" He gestured to the fire ladder, which he and Maria often used to visit Liz on her balcony late at night without clueing her parents in.

"Sure!!" It wasn't until Alex was climbing over the ledge that Liz realized she was still in her nightgown - and she didn't want to climb back into her room until Alex was gone, so she couldn't get a robe. So she did her best to ignore it. "Sorry for ditching you at the festival, I was just feeling kinda."

"It's okay," Alex assured her, and hopped up to perch on the ledge, looking Liz in the eyes. "So... aliens, huh?"

"Yeah," Liz agreed somewhat uncertainly. "Who'd a thunk it?"

"Well, as strange as this whole situation has been, it's kinda made me realize a few things," Alex said somberly. "Like how much you mean to me, and how much I'd miss you if you weren't a part of my life any longer."

Liz stayed silent, not sure what to say.

"So... with all that in mind... I was wondering if you wanted to go to dinner at Senor Chao's, say saturday night??" Alex asked, his cheeks burning red. "As an official date?"

Liz jumped slightly in surprise, her heart pounding. "Uh... yes!! Yes, I definitely would, Alex." She got up from her chair and walked toward him.

Alex jumped down from the ledge and walked towards Liz too... and neither of them were quite sure what to do when they met. Alex put out his hand sheepishly, and Liz shook it. Liz felt like she wanted to hug him, but given what she was wearing it would feel weird, and Alex seemed to realize that too.

"Should we kiss?" Alex asked uncertainly.

"Umm... let's leave that for tomorrow," Liz suggested as a compromise. "Thanks for everything, Alex."

"Oh, hey, it was nothing," he assured her. "Handprint scrubbed right off with a little soap and hot, hot water." A trademark Alex grin. "And playing a practical joke on the Sheriff was fun - we should do that more often."

Liz laughed - and pointed back to the fire ladder. "Go. Now." she commanded with a smile. "'Cause I'm not about to let you stare at my butt while I climb back through my window in this nightgown."

"Ah well, can't blame a guy for trying," Alex joked, heading over to the stairs. "Gnight Liz!!"

"Goodnight, Alex." Liz leaned back against the wall and looked up at the stars.

**I wonder which one Max's people come from?**

THE END... for now. (Stay tuned for Roswell Dreams #2 coming soon!!)
posted on 25-Dec-2002 10:34:34 PM by Chrisken
The sequel has started... though I never got too far with it. :-/ It's called "Not sure yet", I just bumped it. Will probably request it to be moved from dreamer to UC if I ever get part 2 out, because this whole series does have a pretty high unconventional rating. :] (which isn't to say that the CC couples won't still get together in the end.) *happy*