posted on 1-Sep-2001 6:30:27 PM
Title: “Ties That Bind”
Author: Jezzy
Rating: Never less than R.
Summary: After “How The Other Half Lives.” M/L centered, with others. A new arrival in town changes everything.

“Maria, could you cover for me for a few minutes?” Liz asked

“Yeah, sure.” Maria replied “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine.” Liz lied “Shawn is out there, and he’s really bugging me.”

“I’ll get rid of him.” Maria said, heading out of the room.

Liz sat down on the couch and sighed. She was far from okay. The more time passed, the more she was realizing that things between her and Max would never be the same. They were barely friends. She didn’t want to admit it, but it looked like it really was over between them. ‘Why?’ She asked Future Max in her mind for the millionth time ‘Why did I have to do that? To him? To us?! There must have been some other way!’

“Liz, we need you out here.” Maria’s voice cut through her thoughts.

“What is it?” Liz asked, standing up.

“Shawn left.” Maria explained “The only people out here right now are Max, Brody, and Pam Troy.”

Liz was beyond confused “What are Brody and Pam doing here?”

“Sorry, I mean Larek is here.” Maria corrected “And I’m not entirely clear on Pam.”

Shrugging, Liz followed Maria out of the back room. Max was talking to ‘Pam’ and ‘Brody.’

“All right, Larek, I’m confused.” Max was saying “Who is she?”

‘Pam’ clucked her tongue and shook her head “Zan, my dear Zan. Don’t you even recognize your own twin?”

Max’s jaw dropped “Twin?” He repeated

“Twin?” Liz gasped

“Twin?” Maria said

“Is there an echo in here?” ‘Pam’ asked, tilting her head to one side. She placed her hands on Max’s face and pulled him down to her eye level “Perhaps this will refresh your memory.” She gently touched her lips to his forehead.

‘Flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood.’ A young woman’s voice floated through his mind as the flashes began ‘My brother, my twin.’

Images rushed past Max’s eyes. Two tiny newborn infants, a boy and a girl, with dark eyes, dark hair. The same infants as small children, dressed in regal robes like miniature adults, behaving like anything but, running around and shrieking as a servant chased them around. Those children as teenagers, whispering to each other and laughing quietly as a tutor droned on and on. Then more violent images. Himself and the girl as adults, fighting side by side in a battle. Then he saw himself on his knees, holding her lifeless body and crying out in pain and horror.

The flashes ended, and ‘Pam’ stepped back.

“Max?” Liz said after a minute “Are you okay?”

“Zala.” Max said. Then he collapsed in a chair, in complete shock.

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕

Part 1

“So, let’s see if I have this straight.” Liz said “You’re Max’s twin?”

Zala smiled and lay a hand on Max’s shoulder affectionately “More than that. I was Zan’s closest friend and confidante. We ruled our planet together.”

“So why weren’t you sent to earth with the others?” Maria asked “Why wasn’t there one of you in New York?”

“The royal rejects?” Zala asked “They’re still alive?”

“Some of them.” Larek told her “But continue.”

“Yes, continue.” Max said “Before my head explodes.”

“I wasn’t sent to earth with all of you, because I was too vital to your survival.”

Liz shook her head “So they kept you on your planet-”

“Antar.” Zala interrupted

“Okay, good to know.” Liz said “You were kept on Antar because you’re vital to their survival? Isn’t that counterproductive?”

Zala glared at her “You ask too many questions. I was killed in the same war as the rest of you, and recreated in the same way. I was then kept on Antar, hidden away after I emerged from suspended animation ten earth years ago. I was to be sent to earth when the need for my guidance was greatest. Which would be now.”

“How so?” Max asked “We destroyed the gandarium, everything is going well.”

“Trust me, dear brother.” Zala sighed “Nothing is going well.” She glanced at Liz, then back at Max “Nothing. Which is why I’m being sent to join you.”

“How?” Max inquired

“The granolith.” Zala replied “It will take all the energy of the scientists who have raised me, and we will only have one chance.”

“How will I know when you arrive?”

“I will come to you and the others. You will know me when you see me.” Zala promised “Now, tell me about the others. Are they with you? Rath, Vilandra, and Avari?”

“Michael, Isabel, and Tess.” Max said

“Keeping an eye on Vilandra and Avari?” Zala asked

“Well, Isabel knows about what Vilandra did.” Max replied “We’re not going to let it happen again, in any way. But Tess? Why do I need to keep an eye on her?”

“Never mind.” Zala said “I can explain all of it much better when I arrive. For now, I must return this body to its home.” She stood up, kissed Max on his forehead, and nodded to Liz and Maria “I shall see you all again, very soon. Come, Larek.”

“Right away, your Majesty.” Larek said, obediently following Zala out the front door.

“Well...” Liz said a few minutes after they left “That’s...interesting.”

“Very.” Maria agreed. She turned to Max “You okay, girlfriend?”

“I don’t know.” Max said. He stood up “I gotta the others. I’ll see you guys later.”

“Did that really just happen?” Maria asked, rubbing her eyes and blinking.

“I think so.” Liz said “It’s kind of...surreal. I guess we should be used to that by now, huh?”

“Seriously.” Maria said “What do you suppose she meant when she said nothing is going well? She looked right at you and Max when she said it, that’s got to mean something, right?”

Liz shrugged. She’d noticed Zala’s expression and tone of voice, too. But she wasn’t going to let herself get her hopes up, just to have her heart broken again.

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕


Part 2

“I’m still lost.” Tess whined “Why wasn’t she sent with the rest of us?”

“Apparently, because they couldn’t run the risk of anything happening to her. She was hidden away until they felt we needed her here. Which, according to her, is now.” Max explained

“Why?” Isabel asked

“I have no idea.” Max admitted “But she said she would explain everything.”

“How do we know this isn’t a trick?” Michael asked

“It’s real.” Max said “The flashes I had when she connected to me...they were real. I could almost remember everything I saw.”

“Did she say when she’ll be here?” Isabel asked, clearing getting excited about the whole thing “I want to meet this sister of ours.”

“No, but if things are as bad as she seems to think, I assume it will be soon.” Max said

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕

“Whoa, wait a minute.” Alex said “Max has a twin sister?”

“That’s what we said.” Maria replied

“A twin.” Kyle mused “She must be a total bitch.”

“She’s not like the rest of them.” Liz said “She wasn’t raised on earth, and she didn’t seem to be very in touch with her human side.”

“Is there a reason why we’re only learning she exists now?” Alex asked

“Max didn’t know about her, either.” Maria said “Her entire life, she’s been hidden away like some kind of top secret weapon.”

“Which, apparently, she is.” Liz added “Which is why she’s coming to earth. It seems there are problems that Max and the others aren’t aware of.”

“Like what?” Kyle asked

“Who knows?” Liz sighed

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕

Liz glanced around the Crashdown, looking for any unfamiliar faces. It had been two weeks since Zala had contacted them, and nothing had happened yet. She hoped that she was going to show up soon. Even though she had promised herself she wouldn’t read too much into anything Zala had said, she couldn’t help but wonder what Zala had meant when she had said that nothing was going well.

Suddenly, a young girl came in and sat down at the counter. She was striking, with thick, slightly curled dark hair that tumbled down her back, smooth, alabaster white skin, full red lips, and stunning blue-green eyes. Liz made eye contact with her for a second, and recognition swept over her ‘Zala.’ She thought. She was about to say something, when she stopped herself. It couldn’t be Zala. And asking her if she was Zala would probably make her seem insane. Still, she couldn’t shake the feeling that she knew this girl from somewhere...from another life.

“Here.” She said, handing the girl a menu “I’ll be back in a minute to take your order.”

“All right.” The girl said “Thank you.”

Liz went into the back room and got her cell phone out of her bag.


“Max, it’s Liz. I think...this is going to sound insane.” Liz began, taking a deep breath.

“Liz, with everything that’s been happening around here, I seriously doubt anything you can say right now will shock me.”

“I think Zala is here.” Liz said. She heard the phone drop on the other end of the line.

“Okay, maybe that.” Max said after a minute “We’ll be right there.”

Liz took another deep breath “Okay, bye.”

The door opened, startling Liz. She turned around and saw the dark-haired girl behind her.

“I knew it.” She breathed, a small smile on her face “It is you.”

“I’m sorry.” Liz said “Do we know each other?”

“Not in this lifetime.” The girl replied “Seiana.”

“Excuse me?” Liz asked “Who is Seiana?”

The girl gasped “Oh, I’m sorry. Of course, you wouldn’t remember. But I do. I knew it was you the moment I saw you through the eyes of the body I borrowed. I would know you anywhere, any form.”

“I’m sorry, I’m still confused.” Liz said

“I’ll explain it all when Zan and the others get here.” Zala replied “They’re close. I can feel it.”

The door burst open and Max strode in, followed by Isabel, Michael, and Tess.

“See?” Zala said

Max stared at her, stunned.

“Zan.” Zala breathed. She stepped forward and wrapped her arms around her brother.

This broke the trance that Max seemed to be in, and he returned the hug, then held her at arm’s length. “So...” he said “You’re Zala.”

“Actually.” Zala said, pulling a black leather wallet out of her pocket, “According to this ID my name is Jacinda Saunders. I’m seventeen years old, and I’m an emancipated minor from Boston, Massachusetts.” She smiled at Max “Larek took care of everything, did a wonderful job. Now, let me look at all of you.” She gently touched Max’s face “Zan...just as handsome as ever.” She turned to Isabel “Vilandra...even more lovely than you were in our other life.” Michael was next “Rath...such an attractive young man...why do you have to cock it up with that hair?” She finally got to Tess “Avari...hmm...well, I’m sure you have other qualities.”

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕

“So, you’re sure you’re entirely comfortable with her staying here?” Max asked

“Absolutely.” Liz replied “Apparently, she and I have some catching up to do.”

“How is that possible? You just met for the first time.” Max said

“She seems to think she knows me.” Liz said “She called me Seiana, said she would know me anywhere, in any body. Like she knew me in her other life. But that’s not possible, right?”

“I don’t think so.” Max said “But I never thought I’d find out I have a twin sister, either. So I don’t know what to think.”

A squeal filled the air. Glancing into Liz’s room, they saw Jacinda bouncing on the bed, giggling “Hey!” She said, jumping off the bed “This is fun, come on up!”

“I don’t think that’s such a good idea.” Liz said “Why don’t you get down, and we’ll talk?”

“Okay.” Jacinda replied, leaping gracefully off the bed. She sat down and retrieved her black stiletto pumps, slipping her feet back into them. “Can we talk downstairs? I’m hungry, traveling across millions of light years works up an appetite.”

“Yeah, sure.” Liz agreed “I’ll get you some fries or something.”

“That sounds good.” Jacinda said “Except...what are fries?”

Max and Liz laughed.

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕


Part 3

Satan, you know where I lie
Gently I go into that good night
All our lives get complicated
Search for pleasures overrated
Never armed our souls
For what the future would hold
We were innocent

Liz watched with amusement as Jacinda examined the radio.

“Amazing.” Maria said “She’s omnipotent. If she wants to, she can know our every move, even our thoughts. The fate of two worlds rests firmly on her tiny little shoulders. And she’s endlessly fascinated by the little box that the pretty sounds come out of.”

“There’s a lot that’s new to her.” Liz said “You should have seen her watching ‘Grosse Pointe’ last night. She liked it, but she didn’t laugh once.” Jacinda had been staying with her for a few days, and it seemed that every day brought dozens of ‘firsts’ for her.

Angels, lend me your might
Forfeit all my lives to get just one right
All those colors long since faded
All our smiles are confiscated
Never were we told
We'd be bought and sold
We were innocent

“I like this song.” Jacinda said decisively, as seriously as if she were choosing an insurance policy. She looked at Liz and Maria and smiled. Her smile was rare, but dazzling.

“Glad you approve.” Liz told her. She patted the couch next to her “Let’s talk.”

Yeah, this prayer is for me tonight
This far down that line and still ain't got it right

No, and while confessions not yet stated
Our next sin is contemplated
Never did we know
What the future would hold
That we'd be bought and sold, no
We were innocent
We were innocent

Jacinda left the radio and sat down. “Okay. What do you want to talk about?”

“Something you said to me the first day you got here.” Liz explained “You called me Seiana. And you said something about how you would know me anywhere.”

“I would.” Jacinda said “And so would my brother.”

“I don’t follow.” Liz said

“Have you ever wondered, Liz, why my brother fell in love with you the moment your eyes met, the first time he saw you? And why no matter what, you can’t just make a clean break and walk away from each other?”

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕

“Okay...” Maria said “Wow.”

“Yeah.” Liz agreed, trying to remember to breathe.

“I know.” Jacinda said “I was amazed, too, when I saw you. I never thought it would be possible, for your soul to follow him across the universe, to be reborn in the same place as him. I never thought love could be that strong. But I’m glad it is. And aren’t you?”

Liz nodded “Well, yes, I...I mean...I’m...”

“Overwhelmed?” Jacinda guessed “I understand.”

“We’ve got to tell Max.” Maria said “He needs to know. Everything.”

“Not yet.” Jacinda said, knowing what Maria meant when she said ‘everything.’ The other girls looked at her “Don’t get me wrong, he deserves to know. But this is a good opportunity for you, Liz. Instead of just going back to him, I think you need to make him sweat a little.”

“Make him sweat?” Liz repeated

“I know you better than you think.” Jacinda told her “Liz Parker, you are, to be perfectly blunt, fascinating to me. I never knew it was possible for a human to live a normal life without the benefit of a spine. Amazing.”

“Hey, wait just a minute.” Liz said

“No, I mean it.” Jacinda continued “You have to show Max that if he wants you, he’s got to work for you.”

“He’s been working for her since she walked away from him in the pod chamber.” Maria pointed out

“Could have fooled me.” Jacinda scoffed “Liz, you want him to prove how much he still loves you, right?”

“Well, yeah-”

“But he needs to prove it to himself.” Jacinda interrupted “You need to make him realize that even if you did sleep with Kyle and blah, blah, etcetera, he still loves you. Then you can tell him that you didn't really sleep with Kyle and everything.”

“I don’t know.” Liz said uncertainly

“I do.” Jacinda insisted “Maria, what do you think?”

“Honestly?” Maria said “Liz, don’t take this the wrong way, but I agree with Princess Leia over here.”

“Who?” Jacinda asked

Liz laughed “Never mind. Okay, fine.”

Jacinda looked her right in the eye “Do you trust me?”

“Yes.” Liz said. She had only known Jacinda for a few days, but somehow she knew that she could trust her completely.

“Good.” Jacinda said “I promise, you won’t regret this.”

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕
Part 4

“So, how much coffee did she have this morning?” Maria asked, trying not to laugh as Jacinda bounced down the hall, attracting a lot of attention.

“None.” Liz sighed “She’s just really pumped about her first day of school.”

“Don’t worry about it.” Tess said as she joined them “They’ll break her spirits soon enough. They broke mine pretty quickly.”

“That was Nasedo.” Isabel reminded her

“Oh, yeah.” Tess said, wrinkling up her forehead and pondering this for a moment.

“Hey, what’s this?” Jacinda asked, pointing to a flyer on the wall.

“They’re having cheerleading tryouts after school, one of the girls moved away and another one quit.” Isabel explained “See, cheerleading is-”

“Isabrat, I know what cheerleading is.” Jacinda interrupted. She read the flyer “I think I’m gonna try out.”

“Well, you’re perky enough.” Tess said

“And you can yell.” Maria offered

“And you’ve got a nice, big air pocket between your ears.” Another voice cut in. Kyle strode up to the girls.

“Kyle, be nice.” Tess reprimanded him

“What are you going to do?” Kyle asked, stepping up to her.

“I’m sure I could think of a fitting punishment.” Tess said. She moved a little closer to him and pulled him down to kiss him, then pushed him away. “Like that.”

“You tease.” Kyle growled, pulling her close and kissing her.

Everyone watched the pair in shock as they proceeded to start making out right there in the hallway. Everyone, that is, except for Jacinda, who walked right up to Kyle and Tess and stood just a few inches away from them. After a minute, they felt her eyes on them and moved apart.

“What? Haven’t you ever seen people kissing before?” Tess asked, thoroughly annoyed.

“On TV.” Jacinda replied, still looking at them with fascination “But not up close. Not in this lifetime, I mean.” She looked around “I want to do that.” She reached out and grabbed and random guy who was walking past her, and as her friends watched, kissed him, then pushed him away.

“I think someone needs to have a talk with her.” Kyle said to Tess in an exaggerated parental tone.

“Hey, you guys with us over there?” Tess said, waving to Liz, Maria, and Isabel.

“Yeah...” Maria said “ did this happen?”

“A few days ago.” Tess explained “Do us a favor, don’t tell anyone, all right? We’re not really sure how Jim is gonna react.”

“I’m not really sure how I’m reacting.” Isabel said

“I think it’s great.” Liz spoke up “Really great. Isn’t it great, Jacinda?”

“What’s the big deal?” Jacinda asked, rubbing her lips and staring down the hall after the guy she’d kissed, who was high-fiving just about everyone in sight. “Oh, you mean Kyle and Tess. Yeah, that’s cool.”

“We’re gonna some research.” Tess said “See you guys at lunch?”

“Right, research.” Isabel said “I got it.”

“And I got it.” Liz added

“I arrived on this planet five days ago and I got it.” Jacinda said “Have fun in the eraser room.” Tess and Kyle gave her looks and headed down the hall.

“Well...that was...unexpected.” Maria said “Liz, you okay?”

“Yeah, you did all that stuff to push Max towards Tess, and now she’s off making out with Kyle.” Jacinda said

“Wait a minute, what?” Isabel asked “How did Liz push Max towards Tess?”

“Opps.” Jacinda said

“What are you guys talking about?” Isabel asked

“Should we tell her?” Jacinda asked, looking at Liz.

“Might as well.” Liz sighed

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕

Isabel put up her hand “Wait, when you say ‘cemented,’ you mean...”

“They boffed like wild horny weasels.” Jacinda replied

“Oh.” Isabel said, paling a little “Okay, didn’t need to know that. Continue.”

“Okay, well, after Max and I...uh, yeah...” Liz said “Future Max told me that Tess got really pissed off, and she left town. Which brought about, like I said, the end of the world. So I had to push Max towards Tess so she wouldn’t leave.”

“Which is now a non-issue.” Jacinda added “Judging by what we saw in the hallway.”

“So, why don’t you tell Max...everything?” Isabel asked

“Jacinda seems to think I should ‘make him sweat’ a little first.” Liz replied

Isabel smiled “That’s a great idea, Jacey. Max really does need to-”

“Uh-huh, sure, whatever.” Jacinda interrupted “Two things, Snoozabel. You talk too much. Try shutting up for a couple minutes. And second, that, okay? You gotta cover...cover up...well, you just gotta cover up!”

“Why don’t you tell me how you really-”

“Uh, didn’t I just tell you to shut up?” Jacinda said “Now, come on girls. We’ve got class. Oh, and Izzy? I don’t think I need to tell you that everything we told you was in confidance. We can trust you, right?”

“Of course.” Isabel said

“It might be easier for you not to blab if you keep your mouth shut.” Jacinda suggested.

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕

“Okay, so what are we doing here?” Max asked

“We’re watching Jacinda try out for the cheerleading squad.” Isabel replied “This is important to her, and as her siblings, we need to be supportive.”

“That doesn’t explain why the rest of us had to come along.” Kyle said

“She’s our friend.” Tess told him

“Since when is she my friend?” Kyle asked. Tess gave him a look and he shrank back “Oh, right.”

“Whipped.” Max said under his breath, watching Jacinda “Well, she’s loud enough.”

“It’s not as easy as it looks, you know.” Maria said “I know a girl who broke three ribs when she was a cheerleader.”

“I just don’t get why anyone would want to do that.” Michael said

“Neither do I.” Liz agreed “But I think I want to find out.”

Alex looked at her as if she’d sprouted a third arm “Excuse me?”

“Hey!” Liz said, standing up “You guys got time for one more?”

“Liz, what the hell are you doing?” Maria asked

“Turning over a new leaf.” Liz replied

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕

“Liz, I am so proud of you.” Jacinda said, hugging her friend “You were great, I had no idea you could do that!”

“I used to take ballet and gymnastics when I was younger.” Liz said, shrugging “It’s not that big a deal.”

“I didn’t mean that.” Jacinda told her “I meant that you did something totally unlike you, and believe me, Max noticed.”

“And so did everyone else.” Liz sighed “How much you want to bet they’re gonna drag me off to a shrink?”

“Don’t worry about it, you did great.” Jacinda said “I think you could make the squad.”

“My parents are going to have heart attacks.” Liz said “This is pretty cool.”

“Isn’t it?” Jacinda asked “You’re starting to see how fun it can be to shock people. That’s good. You’ll break out of the good girl mold yet, I think.”

“Just don’t expect me to get anything tattooed or pierced.” Liz replied. Jacinda stuck out her pierced tongue and grinned “Which reminds me, don’t those things hurt?” Liz asked, gesturing to the tongue stud and the small diamond stud in Jacinda’s nose.

Jacinda shrugged “Not the ones you can see.”

Liz raised an eyebrow “Okay. Let’s change the subject, shall we?”

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕


Part 5

“Okay, so what are we celebrating?” Maria asked three days later as the three girls entered the Crashdown. “Both of you making the squad, or Jacey’s new piercing?”

Jacinda giggled “It’s still kinda swollen.”

“We know!” Maria and Liz said in unison.

“Well, I guess we’re celebrating me and Lizzie making the squad.” Jacinda said “So, shall we hit the mall?”

“She’s adjusting so well.” Maria sighed

“Just let me leave a note for my parents, and we’ll go.” Liz told them

“Hey, girls.”

“Oh, no.” Maria groaned as Shawn sidled up to them.

Shawn raked his eyes up and down Jacinda’s scantly clad body “Who’s the new friend?”

“Jacinda.” Liz replied curtly

“Hmm.” Shawn said, moving around Jacinda slowly “Well, welcome to town, Jacinda.”

“Thanks.” Jacinda said, a little uncomfortable with Shawn’s eyes all over her.

“Shawn, we’re closed.” Maria said “Get out.”

“Okay.” Shawn said with a shrug “See you at home. And I’ll be seeing you around, Jacinda.”

“Out.” Maria ordered

“I don’t think I like him.” Jacinda said

“Join the club.” Liz said

“He’s my cousin and I can’t stand him.” Maria added “Come on, let’s go.”

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕

“You should have seen the look on Max’s face when I told him and Space Boy that you made the squad.” Maria told Liz as they waited for Jacinda outside the rest room.

“Shocked?” Liz giggled

“Way beyond shocked.” Maria said “Actually, I was afraid he’d really had a heart attack for a second.”

“I’m telling you, Liz, the plan is working perfectly.” Jacinda said as she emerged from the rest room, still holding her nose. She took a deep breath and sighed “It’s really gross in there.”

“Welcome to earth.” Maria told her

“Oh, lucky me.” Jacinda said “So, Friday night. As far as I understand, this is a big night for going out and celebrating freedom from teachers and backpacks?”

“Well, I’ve never heard it expressed that way before.” Liz said “But that’s the general idea.”

“You guys want to go out?” Jacinda asked “Maybe dancing, or a movie?”

“Sounds good.” Maria said “I’m in.”

“So am I.” Liz added “I’ll just have to let my parents know. And let’s hope that they don’t try to commit me when I tell them I made the squad. And why do I get the feeling, Jacinda, that you’ve got some devious ulterior motive for wanting to go out with us tonight?”

“Good question.” Jacinda replied “Probably because I do.”

“What are you up to?” Maria asked “I don’t like that look on your face.”

“You’ll just have to wait.” Jacinda said with a smirk.

Maria raised an eyebrow “I like that look even less.”

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕


Part 6


“Hey, Max.”

“Oh, hi Jacinda.” Max said “What’s up?”

“Not much.” Jacinda replied “Which is pretty much why I called. We’ve hardly spent any time together, you know.”

“Yeah, I was actually thinking the same thing.” Max admitted

“Weird.” Jacinda said “Twin thing, I guess.”

“Right, yeah.” Max said “Twin thing. That’s still kind of weird for me to say. But I think I could get used to it.”

“I know what you mean.” Jacinda agreed “So maybe we should hang out tonight, huh?”

“Well, yeah.” Max replied “Yeah, that would be great. You wanna meet at the Crashdown again or something?”

“I was thinking more along the lines of UFOnics.” Jacinda said “That’s really more my scene.”

“Uh, sure.” Max said “I guess that works, too. So, I’ll meet you there at...”

“Eight.” Jacinda said “I’ll see you then.”

“Right. Bye.”

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕

“So, she said she’d pick us up at seven-thirty.” Maria said “Where is she?”

“Behind you.” A voice said. Liz and Maria turned around and saw Jacinda behind them in a short skirt and tiny halter top.

Liz jumped “Haven’t we talked about sneaking up on people?”

Jacinda shrugged “A couple times.” She sized up their outfits “We going to a club or a church meeting?”

“Whatever you say, ‘Crouching Hoochie, Hidden Push-Up.’” Maria replied

“Harsh.” Jacinda said “I approve. Come on, my car’s over here.” She led them out of the Crashdown.

“Where’s your car?” Liz asked

“Right in front of you.” Jacinda said patiently, pointing.

“You’re kidding.” Maria gasped, staring at the sleek, deep blue Volvo convertible. “I mean, how did you get...where did...never mind. I probably don’t want to know.”

“Just get in the car.” Jacinda told her.

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕

“Hey, Kyle, Tess.” Isabel said “What are you guys doing here?”

“We’re here to meet Jacinda.” Tess replied “Well, I am. Kyle wouldn’t let me leave him behind.”

“What are you talking about?” Kyle asked “You pratically dragged me out of the house.”

Tess blushed “Hey, she makes me nervous, all right?”

“We’re here to meet Jacinda, too.” Max said “Actually, I am, and Isabel invited herself along.”

“She’s my sister, too.” Isabel told him “Besides, I’m here with Alex.” She quickly added “As friends.”

“Hey, you made it!” Jacinda said, hugging Max “Oh. And you brought Isabel. Cool. Tess, Kyle. Hey.” She sized up Tess and Isabel’s outfits “Okay, I’m sorry, but if you two were any more plastic, you’d have ‘Mattel’ stamped on your asses. And those outfits are such disasters the Red Cross wouldn’t even give them coffee.”

“So, Jacinda.” Kyle said “Do you chew your prey, or just unhinge your jaw and swallow it whole?”

Jacinda raised an eyebrow “Wouldn’t you like to know, Buddha Boy?”

“Buddha Boy?” Max repeated

“You told her?” Kyle asked Tess

“I can’t exactly keep stuff from her.” Tess replied “She reads minds.”

Kyle grabbed her hand “Come on, let’s dance. Way over there.”

“I can read minds from across a room.” Jacinda told him. She turned to Max and Isabel “Lovely couple, aren’t they?”

“Couple?” Max repeated

“I swear, you have some kind of echoing disease.” Jacinda sighed “Yeah, they’re a couple. How is it possible that you didn’t know that?”

“I kind of have other things on my mind.” Max said “Like being reunited with the twin sister I never knew I had.”

“Okay, point taken.” Jacinda said. “Oh, could you guys excuse me for a minute? I gotta go talk to Liz and Maria.”

“Liz and Maria are here?” Isabel asked

“Yeah, and Michael’s here somewhere. Probably snuck off somewhere with Maria.” Jacinda said absently, looking around.

“So, you’ve basically invited...everyone?” Isabel asked

“Observant, aren’t you?” Jacinda said “Yes, I invited ‘everyone.’ I wanted to have the whole group in one place tonight.”

“Why?” Max asked

“Do you guys always ask this many questions?” Jacinda sighed “No reason, really. I mean, I thought it would be nice to celebrate me and Liz making the cheerleading squad.”

“Which reminds me,” Max said “How much did you have to do with that?”

Jacinda stuck out her tongue at him “She had an epiphany, okay? She’s turning over a new leaf. I just happened to show up around the same time.”

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕

“Hey, Max, where’d Jacey go?” Tess asked

“When you guys find out, let me know.” Max replied “I don’t really like the idea of her running around loose in here.”

“Yeah, she is a hyperactive little runt, huh?” Kyle said. Max and Tess stared at him “I said runt. Runt!”

“Oh my God.” Tess gasped, pointing to the bar across the dance floor as a new song started.

Cut my tongue out, I've been caught out
Like a giant juggernaut
Happy hours, golden showers
On a cruise to freak you out

Max’s jaw dropped “Please tell me that’s not my sister doing a ‘Coyote Ugly’ impression in a wet t-shirt on the bar.”

“No.” Kyle said sarcastically “I’m pretty sure that’s someone else’s pyschotic, jumpy, emotionally retarded alien twin who just arrived on this planet.”

We could fly a helicopter
Nothing left to talk about
Entertain you, celebrate you
I'll be back to frame you

When I grow up I'll be stable
When I grow up I'll turn the tables

“So, I guess that’s someone else’s shy, sweet, reserved ex-girlfriend dancing up there with her?” Max asked, wincing.

“Whatever keeps you sane.” Kyle said, but Max didn’t hear him. He was already pushing his way through the crowd.

Trying hard to fit among you
Floating out to wonderland
Unprotected, God I'm pregnant
Damn the consequences

When I grow up I'll be stable
When I grow up I'll turn the tables

“Jacinda, Maria, and Liz, what are you doing up there?” Max asked, having to shout to be heard over the music and the cheering.

“Dancing!” Liz giggled

“You’re drunk.” Max observed

“He’s a quick one, huh?” Jacinda said

“And so are you.” Max said “Great. Just great. Okay, why don’t the three of you get down from there?”

Blood and blisters on my fingers
Chaos rules when we're apart
Watch my temper I go mental
I'll try to be gentle

When I grow up I'll be stable
When I grow up I'll turn the tables
When I grow up
When I grow up
When I grow up I'll turn the tables

“Why don’t you make us?” Maria challenged

“What the hell is going on?” Michael asked, appearing next to Max.

“They’re drunk.” Max replied, shaking his head.

“How did the three of you get drunk?” Michael demanded

“Duh, we drank.” Jacinda said. She shrieked and giggled as a group of college-aged guys jumped up on the bar and started dancing with the girls.

“Okay, that’s it, we’re leaving.” Max said, holding out his hand.

“Fine!” Liz sighed. She took his hand and jumped off the bar, followed by Maria.

Max looked up at Jacinda. It was pretty easy to see who was to blame for Liz and Maria’s condition. “Come on, Jacey.”

“Bite me.” Jacinda replied

“I mean it.” Max said “Now.”

“Hey, the lady can stay if she wants to.” One of the guys said, grabbing Jacinda’s arm and pulling her back roughly “Who are you anyway? Her pimp?”

“No.” Max said. He stood on a bar stool and pulled Jacinda down “I’m her brother.” He set Jacinda down on her feet “Let’s get the others and get out of here.”

“Here we go.” Jacinda groaned “Lecture time. You really haven’t changed a bit.”

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕

Part 7

“Whoo!” Maria hollered. She leaned forward “Hey, Girlfriend, go faster! Come on, let’s see what this baby can do!”

“We’re parked.” Max said patiently.

“So, unpark us!” Liz said, slapping the back of Max’s seat.

“You sure you can get them home safely?” Isabel asked

“If I don’t ‘accidently’ dump them in a lake on the way.” Max replied “I’ll see you at home.”

“Good luck.” Michael said

“Hey, I got an idea!” Maria whooped as they drove away from the club “Let’s sneak into the boys’ dorm!”

“No, Atlantis!” Liz said “Let’s go to Atlantis.”

“Shut up!” Jacinda snapped “You’re both drunk, and you’re talking crazy!”

“Thank you, Jacinda!” Max said, grateful that at least one of the girls was making some sense.

“Besides, this is my gahdamn car.” Jacinda sniffed “And I say we’re going to the Lost City of Gold!”

Max shook his head “So, I guess ‘thank you, Jacinda’ doesn’t really apply here, does it? Okay, there’s got to be a coffee shop open around here somewhere.”

“No, Jacinda can’t have coffee.” Liz told him “Makes her all jittery. This is Jacinda on coffee: ‘I had some coffee! Wheeeeeeeee!’”

“She’s right, I do sound like that.” Jacinda giggled, clapping her hands.

“All right, that’s enough!” Max ordered “Not another word, okay? God, you’re all terrifying like this.”

“Sheesh, lighten up.” Liz muttered

“And don’t think I can’t tell who’s responsible for this.” Max continued

“Don’t blame Jacinda.” Maria told him “It wasn’t her fault. It wasn’t even her idea.”

“Stop covering for her.” Max replied

“She’s telling you the truth, Max.” Liz cut in

“Okay, now you’re covering for her covering for Jacinda.” Max said

“No one is covering for anyone.” Jacinda insisted “Man, maybe you should have had a few drinks. Might have killed that bug up your ass.”

“I remember what Max was like when he got drunk.” Liz giggled “He was so cute. Like a little boy.”

“I hate little kids.” Jacinda said

“And he was honest, too.” Liz recalled “But then when he stuck his tongue down my throat and that sobered him up, he didn’t remember any of it. At least that’s what he said. I wonder if it’s true. I wonder if I would remember if I were to, say, tell him that I’m still a vir-”

“Hey, mouth!” Jacinda interrupted, turning around and smacking Liz upside the head “He’s sitting right here!”

Max didn’t even hear the girls shrieking at each other. He was too shocked at what Liz had just said. She couldn’t have been saying she was still a virgin. Or could she? His thoughts were cut short by a burst of giggles.

“Maria, you sit down! Liz, you put your seatbelt back on! Jacinda, you keep your damn hands to yourself!” He yelled “I’d like to get us all home in one piece, this night is already a future therapy bill for me!”

From the look on his face, the girls could see that he was dead serious. They were silent for the rest of the ride.

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕

“Good morning, Jacinda.” Liz said, coming into the kitchen.

“Shh!” Jacinda hissed, putting her hand to her head.

“I thought you might have a hangover.” Liz said. She pulled a pair of dark sunglasses out of her pocket “Here. Put these on.” There was a knock at the door. “It’s open!”

Jacinda moaned painfully.

“Sorry.” Liz winced “Hi, Max.”

“Hey.” Max replied “Good, she’s awake. Jacinda, I need to talk to you.”

Liz pulled him aside “I don’t think that’s a very good idea, Max. She’s probably not in the mood for a sermon right now, and I’ve got to get her on her feet in time for cheerleading practice in an hour.”

“You’re serious about this, aren’t you?” Max asked, forgetting about Jacinda.

“I told you, I’m turning over a new leaf.” Liz replied, keeping her voice as even as possible.

“This isn’t a new leaf.” Max told her “This is a new tree. This is a new forest.”

“Change is a good thing.” Liz shrugged

“An identity crisis isn’t.” Max said “Is that what this is? Should I be worried? Should I plan an intervention?”

“No, you know what you should do?” Liz said “Not waste any time worrying about me, or about my life. I’ve moved on, Max. You should, too.”

“The yelling shall cease or the killing shall commence!” Jacinda ordered, covering her ears.

“Sorry, Jacey.” Max said

“That’s okay.” Jacinda groaned “Liz, could you give us a minute?”

“Yeah, sure.” Liz said, casting another look at Max “I’ll just go get dressed.”

Max watched her leave, trying to figure out what had just happened.

“So, what’s up?” Jacind asked, her voice tired and strained.

“Well, I was going to have a talk with you about last night.” Max explained “And about drinking. But I think you’ve learned your lesson.”

“Hell yes.” Jacinda muttered

“And you’ll never do something like that again, right?” Max prompted

Jacinda nodded “Sure, whatever.”

“Okay, I’ll take that as a yes.” Max said “And I need to talk to you about something else, but you obviously don’t have the time right now. So, could you stop by after practice?”

“Yeah, I will.” Jacinda said “Around three?”

“Sounds good.”

“And how about a little help?” Jacinda asked, pointing to her head.

Max placed his hand against her forehead and concentrated for a moment. “Better?”

“Much.” Jacinda replied “Thanks.” She stood up and hugged him “I’ll see you later.”

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕


posted on 1-Sep-2001 6:33:00 PM
Part 8

“Okay, I just don’t think my knees were meant to bend that way.” Liz groaned as she and Jacinda entered the Crashdown after practice.

“Oh, don’t be such a baby.” Jacinda told her “I fixed it. And relax, no one saw your landing.”

“Well, if it isn’t the lovely Jacinda.”

Jacinda groaned and rolled her eyes “Shawn. You have enough neurons to remember my name. Impressive.” She said sarcastically. Liz stifled a giggle.

“With a face like yours, you don’t need a name.” Shawn told her

Liz waved her hand in front of his face “Actually, her face? It’s about ten inches above where you’re looking.”

“Shawn, if you don’t mind, Liz has to get ready for her shift, and I have somewhere to be.”

“Yeah?” Shawn asked “Hot date?”

“Not that it’s any of your business.” Jacinda sighed “But if it will get you off my back, I’m going to talk to Max.”

“Well, he just walked in here.” Shawn said, looking past her “Ooh, and that hot little blonde’s with him.”

Jacinda whirled around “Max!” She stormed over to the door and shoved Tess “You are unbelievable.”

“Jacey, calm down.” Max said “We’re just here to get something to eat.”

“Yeah, you know, like friends do.” Tess added

“Oh, don’t you give me that bullshit!” Jacinda snapped “You haven’t given up on him at all, have you?” She turned to Max, her eyes flashing “And you! Are you legally retarded? Or can you see that she is still trying to get in your pants?”

“That’s not true!” Tess protested “I’m with Kyle now.”

“Both of you calm down.” Max said “We’re in public, and-”

“Shut up!” Jacinda interrupted. She turned back to Tess “My God, you haven’t changed at all. You know what, you don’t deserve Kyle. He may not be some almighty king, but he’s a decent guy, and he truly cares about you. And here you are still lusting after my brother. Who, coincidently, you also don’t deserve. Even though he is a total moron.”

“That’s not fair.” Tess said

“Oh, it’s more than fair.” Jacinda said “You are truly disgusting. Get out of my sight.” When Tess didn’t move for a moment, Jacinda’s eyes flashed and she slapped her so hard her head snapped back violently “Now! Before I do something you will regret!”

Without another word, Tess turned and left in a hurry, holding her face.

“Don’t you think maybe you were a little hard on her?” Max asked

“No.” Jacinda replied simply “And you...I don’t know if you’re dumber than dirt, or if you’ve completely lost your mind and are interested in her, but whatever. You don’t deserve Liz.”

“Liz?” Max repeated “She doesn’t even care about me anymore. She’s getting on with her life, remember?”

“Man, you really are dense.” Jacinda sighed “Liz still cares about you. Don’t ask me why, but she does.”

“She has an interesting what of showing it.” Max said “Although...listen, I really need to talk to you about what happened last night.”

“Max, we already went over this.” Jacinda said “I’m not gonna do anything that stupid again, okay? And FYI, I did not get either of them drunk, okay? They did that all by themselves.”

“I know, we’ve covered this.” Max told her. He pulled her to an empty corner “Listen, I can’t believe I’m even drawing you into this, but has Liz told you anything about...our history? Especially...recent?”

“You mean about how you saw her in bed with Kyle?” Jacinda asked, blunt as usual “Yeah.”

“Right.” Max said, cringing at the memory “Last night...well, I’ve never really believed that she slept with him. I mean, it just doesn’t make any sense that she would do that. Her joining the cheerleading squad makes more sense!”

“Have I mentioned that there aren’t enough hours in the week for the amount of therapy you need?”

“I’m serious.” Max said “I just-I don’t believe that she would sleep with Kyle. And last night, I could have sworn she was about to say that she’s still a virgin. Jacinda, has she said anything to you about any of it? Anything she hasn’t said to me?”

Jacinda stood up abruptly. ‘No.’ She thought ‘No, just tell him no! What’s wrong with you? It’s not that hard. Don’t look him in the face. You can’t get emotionally involved in any of their lives. Just say ‘no’ and walk away.’ Out loud she said “Max, this is really none of my business.” She started to walk away, but he grabbed her arm and looked into her eyes.

“She told you something, I can tell.” Max told her “Please, I need to know.”

“Max, no.” Jacinda said “She didn’t tell me anything.”

“Now you’re lying to me!” Max said “First Liz, and now my own twin sister. Jacinda, please. Just tell me the truth.”

“I can’t, okay?” Jacinda blurted out, her voice breaking “I can’t get involved in your emotional issues. And you have a lot of those, I might add.” Tears were streaming down her face freely now, and she wiped them away “Oh my God...what the hell is wrong with me?”

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕


Part 9

“You feel any better?” Max asked

Jacinda wiped her eyes and nodded “I’m sorry...I don’t know what came over me, I just...”

“Cried.” Max said “That’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

“It’s human.” Jacinda said “It’s weak.”

“You mean to tell me you’ve never cried in your life?”

“Not in this lifetime.” Jacinda replied “I never had anything to cry about.”

“Which means you never had anything to laugh about, either.” Max observed

“Hey, do you want me to tell you what’s up with Liz or not?” Jacinda snapped, suddenly very defensive.

Max nodded, sensing that Jacinda wasn’t in the mood to discuss her past at that time “Yeah, I do.”

“Okay, fine.” Jacinda said “The Cliffs Notes version of a long, complicated story, Liz never slept with Kyle. Or anyone else, for that matter. She’s a naive little virgin, just like you.” She stood up “Well, see you later.”

“Wait just a minute.” Max managed to choke out as he reached out and grabbed her arm, jerking her back onto the bench next to him. Through the chaos in his mind, he somehow managed to form a coherent sentence. “I think I’m going to need the long, complicated version.”

Jacinda pulled her arm away “I can’t tell you.” She said sharply “That’s up to Liz. This is your issue, and hers, and it’s up to both of you to sort it out together.” Max started to say something, but she cut him off with a glare, and walked away.

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕

“Liz, I need to talk to you.” Jacinda said breathlessly as she rushed into the Crashdown. She grabbed Liz and dragged her away from the customers she was talking to.

“What...Jacinda...would you...” Liz stammered as she was pulled into the back room.

“I’ll make this quick.” Jacinda said, flipping on the radio to make sure no one could hear them “Max is on his way over here. And he knows you didn’t really sleep with Kyle.”

You cannot quit me so quickly
Is no hope in you for me
No corner you could squeeze me
But I’ve got all the time for you love

Liz’s jaw dropped “Okay, you have got to stop that. Why is it that the more important something you have to tell me is, the quicker you tell it?”

“Liz, focus, I’m about two minutes ahead of Max!” Jacinda groaned

The space between
The tears we cry
Is the laughter that keeps us
Coming back for more
The space between
The wicked lies we tell
To keep us safe from the pain

Will I hold you again?

“Right, sorry.” Liz said “Okay, how does Max know that I didn’t sleep with Kyle?”

“I told him.” Jacinda admitted “I didn’t mean to, but he could tell that I knew more than I was saying, and he begged me to tell him, and I just...I felt sorry for him. So I told him that you didn’t sleep with Kyle. But that’s it. Everything else is up to you.”

These fickle fuddled words confuse me
Like will it rain today
We waste the hours with talking talking
These twisted games we’re playing

“Oh my God.” Liz said, sitting down. She took a few deep breaths “This can’t...I can’t...”

“Liz, breathe!” Jacinda said “It’s okay. You’ve wanted to tell him. And now you can.”

We’re strange allies
With warring hearts
What a wild eyed beast you be

The space between
The wicked lies we tell that
Hope to keep us safe from the pain

But will I hold you again?
Will I hold you again?

“I know, I know.” Liz moaned “But now...I mean, I was going to practice everything I was going to tell him. I needed time to prepare.”

“Just tell him a future version of himself popped in and told you that you guys had to break up, or Tess was going to get all pissy and leave and then the world was going to end, but now that’s not a big deal because she’s with Kyle, and even if she does leave, you’ve got me now.”

“Didn’t we just go over that ‘sometimes less is less’ thing two minutes ago?” Liz asked “I think after everything we’ve both gone through because of this, he’s going to need a little more information than that.”

Look at us spinning out in
The madness of a rollercoaster
You know you went off like the devil in the church
In the middle of a crowded room
All we can do my love
Is hope we don’t take this ship down

The space between
Where you smile and hide
That’s where you’ll find me if I get to go

“Liz, I’m sorry.” Jacinda sighed “I really am. But I can’t help you anymore. You guys are on your own now. So, why don’t I cover your tables for you, and you can just take your time and do your best to explain things to Max.”

The space between
The bullets in our fire fight
Is where I’ll be hiding waiting for you
The rain that falls
Splashed in your heart
Ran like sadness down
The window into your room

The space between
Our wicked lies is
The hope to keep safe from pain

Liz nodded and sighed “Guess I don’t have much choice.”

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕

“Hey, Liz is in the back room.” Jacinda said as Max walked in “Try not to have an aneurysm, okay?”

“I’ll try.” Max said nervously.

“What’s with him?” A voice asked

Jacinda jumped “Shawn, for God’s sake don’t you ever go home?”

“That uniform looks pretty hot on you.” Shawn said

“Not gonna happen.” Jacinda told him “Not if you were the last male on earth. Of any species.”

Shawn sidled up closer to her. Too close. “That’s what your mouth says. But not your body language.”

“Here’s some body language for you.” Jacinda said, raising her middle finger.

“Geez, I’m sorry, I haven’t heard a word you’ve said.” Shawn said “That uniform is way too small on you. It’s distracting as hell. I mean, the top is so tight I can almost tell what gauge your nipple ring is.” Before she could react, he reached out and cupped her breast “Eighteen?” He guessed.

Jacinda’s expression didn’t change at all as she grabbed his hand and flipped him over so he was pinned facedown against the counter “Listen to me, and listen good, you revolting, perverted freak.” She snarled

“Do you have any idea how much this is turning me on?” Shawn chuckled. Jacinda responded by twisting his arm more, and pushing him harder onto the counter, feeling more than a hint of satisfaction when she heard glass crunching under his chest.

“Nothing is going to happen between you and me.” Jacinda said through clenched teeth “Or between you and Liz. Or even between you and Isabel, for God’s sake! No respectable girl in this town would even give you the time of day, and any girl in this town would rather sleep with a dead sewer rat than with you.” She pushed him into the counter once more, then released him and walked back to the kitchen “Eddie, is table five’s order up yet?” She asked sweetly. She glanced into the back room and smiled slightly when she saw Max and Liz sitting close together. She was talking, and he was listening intently.

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕

“ by then I was desperate.” Liz said “I went to Kyle, I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t want to do any of it, Max. And I know you probably think I’m insane, or you hate me, or-”

Max gently pressed his fingers against her lips “No. I could never hate you. And I can’t imagine what you must have gone through these past months.”

“What about you?” Liz asked “To go all this time thinking that I would betray you. I hate myself for putting you through that.”

“And I hate myself for ever doubting you.” Max insisted “And I hate the man I would have become for putting you through that. But I could have never stopped loving you, no matter what. And now I love you even more for what you sacrificed for us, for me.”

Liz felt tears filling her eyes “Oh, Max...I love you, too. So much.”

Max wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close “Liz, don’t cry, everything’s going to be all right now.”

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕


Part 10

“Hello?” Jacinda called, tapping on the window “Anyone home?”

The door next to her opened, and Kyle stepped out, shaking his head “Most people use this little thing called a doorbell.”

“I thought about it.” Jacinda admitted “But I didn’t want to disturb you guys.”

“Too late.” Tess quipped as she entered the room. She took the box Jacinda was carrying out of her hands “Let me help you with that.”

Jacinda snatched the box back “Rule number one, Tess. I don’t know where your filthy little whore hands have been, so I don’t want them on my stuff, okay? And rule number two, don’t kiss my ass. As long as you follow those, we’ll get along fine. Comprende?”

“Okay.” Tess said blankly “Come on, our room’s this way.”

“Hey.” Liz said, setting down a few more boxes in the doorway. “Can you give me a hand with these?”

“Sure.” Kyle replied. He leaned over and picked up one of the boxes. “Geez, what is in this thing?”

Liz glanced at the writing on the side of the box “Shoes.”

“She’s been on this planet how long?” Kyle asked

“Hey, she’s nice once you get to know her.” Liz told him

“Yeah? So why isn’t she staying with you anymore?”

“Well, long story short.” Liz sighed “I changed the ring on my cell phone, when Max called it the other night Jacinda apparently thought it was a fire alarm and ran out screaming. In nothing but a thong. With toothpaste in her mouth. Through the Crashdown. During pretty much the busiest time of the evening.”

Kyle pondered this for a moment, then burst out laughing.

“Hey, come on, it’s not funny.” Liz said. She started laughing “Okay, yeah, it’s pretty funny.”

“Hey, how’s the moving going?” Max asked, stepping through the door.

“Your sister owns more pairs of shoes than that Imelda lady.” Kyle groaned, lifting the box again.

Max didn’t even hear him “Right, fascinating.” He crossed the room over to Liz and kissed her deeply.

“I’m gonna go...uh...see how...yeah.” Kyle muttered, leaving the room as quickly as possible.

“Hey.” Max said as he and Liz finally broke their kiss. “God, I missed being able to do that.”

“So did I.” Liz said breathlessly. “A lot.”

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕

“So, your boyfriend seems to be seriously lacking in personality.” Jacinda said

“I usually drown him out with the TV.” Tess replied

“Hmm. Maybe you’re not as hopeless as I thought.” Jacinda observed “Britney Spears or Blink-182?”

“Blink.” Tess said

Jacinda shrugged “Okay, so maybe we can be friends after all.”

“Hey, can I hide in here?” Kyle asked, knocking on the door “Max just showed up, and he and Liz are kind of...attached at the lips.”

“God, why don’t they just climb on top of each other and get it over with already?” Tess muttered, rolling her eyes.

“What’s this?” Jacinda asked “Support of Max and Liz’s relationship disguised as annoyance?”

“Something like that, I guess.” Tess admitted “I mean, after you told me what she did, what she gave up to save the world...I can’t really begrudge her a boyfriend, can I?”

“No, you can’t.” Kyle chuckled, wrapping his arms around her from behind. “Besides, you’ve got me now.” He turned her around to face him and kissed her soundly.

Tess pushed him away “Jesus Christ, Kyle! I just reapplied my lipstick two minutes ago!” She sighed and shook her head “I’m gonna go see if there’s anything else in the car.”

As soon as she was gone, Jacinda raised an eyebrow at Kyle, then shrugged and went back to unpacking one of the boxes.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Kyle asked

Jacinda looked at him innocently “I didn’t say anything.”

“I saw that look.” Kyle pressed

“I just don’t think you should let her talk to you like that.” Jacinda shrugged “You were just being a nice, loving boyfriend.”

“No offense, but what the hell do you know?” Kyle scoffed “You’ve been in this galaxy for...what, two weeks?”

“I know plenty.” Jacinda replied “About you, about your girlfriend, about that stuffed animal you still sleep with sometimes.”

“Hey, leave Mr. Squishels alone.” Kyle said “And I did not just say that.”

“It’s hot in here.” Jacinda muttered, already forgetting the conversation. She pulled her sweater over her head, revealing a sheer black bra trimmed with pink lace.

“ you mind, um...putting a shirt on?” Kyle stammered, averting his eyes.

“What?” Jacinda asked, shrugging “Like you’ve never seen breasts before.”

Instead of amswering, Kyle suddenly stepped forward and pulled Jacinda into his arms. Before she could even react, his lips came down on hers. She tried to pull away for a moment, startled, then relaxed, allowing him to deepen the kiss.

“Jacinda? Hello?” Kyle said, waving his hand in front of her face. “You’ve been staring at the wall for about five minutes.”

“Huh?” Jacinda mumbled, snapping out of her reverie. “Oh, sorry. I was just...trying to imagine you with a personality.”

“I’m gonna go see if Tess needs any help.” Kyle said, brushing past her.

As soon as he was gone, Jacinda sat down on the bed and took a deep breath. ‘What the hell was that?’ She wondered.

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕


Part 11

"Oh my God! Would you look at that one?”

Kyle was awakened by a shriek, followed immediately by a burst of giggles. Groaning, he stood up and walked to his bedroom, now shared by Jacinda and Tess. “Excuse me, ladies?” He called, knocking on the door “It’s seven on a Saturday morning, you mind keeping it down?” When the only response was more giggling, he opened the door and saw Jacinda and Tess sitting on his bed, photo albums spread out in front of them. “What are you doing?”

“Looking at your old baby pictures.” Jacinda replied “Man, you were Buddha Boy from day one, huh?”

“Shut up, I was pleasingly plump.” Kyle said

“Oh, a touchy subject?” Jacinda asked Tess “Do I sense blackmail opportunities?”

“Wait till we get to early elementary school.” Tess said “Three words, wide angle lens.”

“Serious?” Jacinda gasped. She looked at Kyle “I just can’t picture that.”

“Well, around sixth grade he replaced food with sports, which helped a lot.” Tess explained

“Okay, enough ridicule.” Kyle said “I’m gonna try to go back to sleep, keep it down a little, okay?”

“Sure.” Tess said “Oh, by the way, I’m gonna start teaching Jacinda to drive today. We can use your car, right?”

“Buddha, give me strength.” Kyle muttered under his breath as he closed the door behind him.

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕

“Max, stop it!” Liz giggled “No, really, I have to get back. I just came over here to bring you your lunch.”

“You said you were on your break.” Max reminded her “Besides, there’s no one here. Brody’s out for the afternoon.”

“You’re in charge?” Liz asked “Well, then we really can’t be fooling around.”

“I’m in charge.” Max said “So we can do whatever we want.”

Liz sighed as he ran his fingers through her hair and lowered his mouth to hers “What has gotten into you?”

“Can’t help it.” Max replied “You’re addictive.” He pulled her against him and kissed her deeply. Liz moaned against his mouth and wrapped her arms around his shoulders.

Within minutes, they were lying on a couch in a back room. Liz had her hands under Max’s shirt, and he was starting to unbutton her uniform.

“Hey, Evans, are you in here...whoa, bad timing!”

Liz pulled away from Max and quickly started buttoning her uniform. Max tried to be casual as he untucked his shirt completely and covered the front of his jeans, while glaring at Kyle.

“Kyle. Hi. Nice to see you.” He said “There something we can help you with?”

“You could start by erasing what I just saw from my memory.” Kyle replied “I think I just lost the last remaining shreds of my innocence.”

“I hardly think you can blame us for destroying your innocence.” Liz said, trying to hide how embarrassed she was.

“Maybe not.” Kyle admitted “How about the Damien girls? Think I can blame them?”

“Jacinda and Tess still driving you insane?” Max asked

“Still.” Kyle said “And it’s worse now. They’re getting along. Which means they’re now ganging up on me.”

“Ouch.” Liz sympathized

“It can’t be that bad.” Max said

“Wanna bet?” Kyle asked “Jacinda has this habit of walking around the house naked. Which Tess is starting to pick up. And nothing is sacred to them, either. If I hear one more crack about my mom being in an institution...I swear, I’m this close to moving to Tibet and becoming a monk.”

“Your mom’s in a mental institution?” Max asked

Liz tried to change the subject quickly “How’s your dad doing?” she inquired, slapping Max’s hand.

“He’s okay with it.” Kyle said “They keep their clothes on when he’s around. Which is a relief, because that would be so wrong. He’s pretty lenient towards Jacinda, since she’s ‘new’ and all. Plus I think he’s a little scared of her. Remember that stray dog she brought home?”

“Uh-oh.” Max said “What did she do?”

“She named it ‘Stay.’” Kyle explained “‘Come here, Stay!’ After a few days of that, the dog went insane and wouldn’t move at all.”

“Want me to talk to her?” Max suggested

“No, that’s fine.” Kyle said “I mean, she’s weird. But...I don’t know. I guess I should try to go easy on her. We all should, really. She’s only lived on this planet for a month, you know, I don’t think any of us can really understand how that feels.”

Max listened to what Kyle was saying, then nodded. “Oh my God. You like her.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Kyle asked “I’m not at all in love with her. I’m with Tess.”

Liz and Max exchanged looks “Whatever you say, Kyle.” Liz said “Now, is there something else we can help you with?”

“No, I’m out of here.” Kyle replied “You guys go back to...whatever.”

“Actually, I really need to get back to work.” Liz sighed after Kyle left.

Max wrapped his arms around her waist and kissed her neck “Sure you can’t stay a little longer?”

“I wish I could.” Liz said. She kissed him, pulling away before he could deepen it. “I’ll see you tonight.”

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕

“I hate being so human.” Jacinda groused, stirring her milkshake with her straw. “All these weird...feelings. I mean, right now, I’m so horny I can’t even think straight.”

“Obviously.” Maria said “If you could think straight, you wouldn’t announce how horny you are in the middle of a public place.”

Jacinda gave her a look. “Bite me.”

“Okay, someone’s not their usual sunny self.” Maria observed “What’s wrong, Tess still frying your last nerves every time she opens her mouth?”

“No, she’s all right.” Jacinda said “We’re getting along okay. It’s just...I don’t know. I feel like...well, coming here, and finding my family is something that my whole life has been leading up to. And now here I am...and I don’t know what to do. I always thought that once I was where I am now, I’d have all the answers, and know exactly what’s next. And I don’t have a clue.”

“Hmm.” Maria pondered. “Normally, I’d offer advice. But...I gotta admit, I’m stumped.”

“No advice?” Jacinda asked

“ to Liz?” Maria offered

“No thanks.” Jacinda scoffed “She’s too busy fooling around with Max. It’s nauseating.”

“What is?” Kyle asked as he sat down next to Jacinda. “I mean, besides DeLuca’s mom and my dad.” He turned to Maria. “The three of us found them making out in her car in the driveway last night.”

“It was pretty gross.” Jacinda added “But no, I was referring to Max and Liz.”

“Ah yes, equally horrifying, though in a different way.” Kyle said “I just walked in on them making out across the street.”

“Ouch.” Jacinda winced sympathetically. “That’s about a year on the couch right there.”

The door opened behind them and Tess came in. “Hey, guys. Hi, Buddha Boy.” She leaned over and gave Kyle a kiss.

“Oh, spare us.” Jacinda muttered

“You ready to go?” Kyle asked “We don’t want to miss the previews.”

“In a few minutes.” Tess said “I’m famished.”

“Have my fries.” Jacinda offered, pushing her plate away. “My appetite’s dead.”

“You sure?” Tess asked. “Okay, thanks.”

“I gotta admit, I was surprised when I came in here and saw you eating.” Kyle teased Jacinda. “I always thought you just sucked the life’s blood out of your prey and left behind the shell.”

“Kyle, when you insult me, at least try to be a little artful.” Jacinda sighed “You bucktoothed fairy.”

Rather than answer, Kyle suddenly stood up and swept everything off the counter. He picked Jacinda up and threw her on it almost roughly. She was stunned for a moment, then wrapped her arms around Kyle’s neck and pulled him down on top of her.

“So, Tess, what movie are you guys going to see?” Maria asked, seemingly oblivious to the fact that two of her friends were rolling around on the counter in front of her.

“Not sure yet.” Tess replied “Either ‘The Mummy Returns’ or ‘Freddy Got Fingered.’”

“Oh, see ‘The Mummy Returns.’” Maria advised “The other one was a total waste of eight bucks and stale popcorn.”

“Yeah? Thanks for the tip.” Tess said “Hey, Jacinda, could you pass the ketchup?”

Jacinda moaned as Kyle cupped her breasts through her top and started sucking on the side of her neck. As she writhed and thrashed, her foot hit the ketchup bottle, knocking it right into Tess’s hand.

“Thanks.” Tess said “Almost ready to go, Kyle?” She reached out and swatted him on the shoulder. “Hello? Kyle!”

“Huh?” Kyle said, snapping out of his daydream. “Oh, yeah, whenever you’re ready.”

“You okay?” Tess asked “You’re kinda zoning out over there.”

Kyle nodded “Yeah, I’m fine.”

“Great, let’s go.” Tess said, picking up her coat. “Oh, Jacey, you wanna come with?”

“Hmm?” Jacinda muttered “Oh, no thanks. I’m pretty tired tonight.”

“Well, see you at home.” Tess said as she and Kyle left.

After they left, Maria stared at Jacinda for a moment, then sighed. “Oh my God. You’ve got a thing for Kyle.”

“What?” Jacinda gasped, praying that she wasn’t blushing. That flash had seemed so real. She could still feel Kyle’s lips and hands all over her. “Maria, are you high? Have you been eating Crashdown food again? I so do not have a thing for him.”

“Methinks the lady doth protest too much.” Maria replied “I’ve seen that look before. You’ve got it bad. And that ain’t good.”

Jacinda shook her head. “Whatever, you’re out of your mind.” She pulled some money out of her purse and put it on the counter. “And I’m out of here.”

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕
Part 12

“So...” Jacinda said, looking up from the magazine she was reading. “If a vegetarian eats vegetables, does that mean that a humanitarian eats-”

“No.” Max chuckled, knowing where she was headed. He reached over and ruffled her hair affectionately.

Jacinda jerked out of his reached and pouted. “Damn it, I don’t get this planet at all!”

“You’re starting to get things.” Liz offered.

“Hey, girls, I got a copy of...oh, hey guys.” Kyle said “Uh...Jacinda? Wasn’t this supposed to be just me, you, and Tess tonight?”

“They came over.” Jacinda replied

“Didn’t we go over what we do when Jehovah’s Witnesses, international terrorists, or our friends drop in?” Kyle asked.

“Kyle, they were at the door, and when barbarians are at the door, you might as well let them in. They’re barbarians. They’re coming in no matter what.”

“Should we be offended?” Liz asked Max.

“Probably.” Kyle said “She offends everyone. Jacey, I’m gonna go make some popcorn. And where’s Tess?”

“Out.” Jacinda said

“Out where?” Kyle asked

“What am I, her keeper?” Jacinda said impatiently.

“Do you have to take that tone with me?” Kyle said “I was just asking.”

“You’re always asking!” Jacinda snapped “Where’s Tess? Where’s my coat? Where are my keys? I did not travel a million light years to run your sad little life!”

“Yeah, but you seem to enjoy doing it anyway.” Kyle shot back. “Unless the constant nagging serves some other purpose.”

“Shut up and go make the popcorn!” Jacinda ordered.

As soon as Kyle left, Liz let out a soft giggle. “And how long have you two been married?”

“Very funny.” Jacinda scowled.

“It’s not funny at all.” Max said “It’s disturbing. You’re in love with Kyle, that’s so...”

“Nauseating.” Liz finished.

“Oh, and you two aren’t?” Jacinda snorted “And I’m not in love with Kyle. I merely tolerate him, just like the rest of you.”

“Oh, I don’t tolerate him.” Max chuckled “At least, not the way you do.”

Jacinda threw the nearest thing at her disposal, one of her stiletto heels, at her brother. “Shut up, okay? If you guys are going to stay here you’re going to stay silent.”

Max rubbed his forehead where the shoe had struck him. “Okay, first of all, ow! And second, thanks, I think we will stay. Liz, what do you think?”

“I think it sounds like fun.” Liz replied, smirking.

Jacinda groaned inwardly. Over the past few weeks, she had been trying to convince her brother and his girlfriend to lighten up a little, to have more fun with everyday life. What had she been thinking?

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕

“I love this movie.” Liz sniffled “Even though this ending gets me every time.”

“Chicks.” Kyle muttered.

“Shut up, you’re about to start crying.” Jacinda said “I can tell.”

“I am not. I have allergies.” Kyle insisted.

“Allergies my ass.” Jacinda scoffed.

“Would you just watch your damn chick flick?”

“Eat me.” Jacinda muttered under her breath.

“Yeah, you’d like that, wouldn’t you?” Kyle shot back.

Jacinda rolled her eyes. “In your dreams.”

“Ah, young love.” Liz sighed dramatically.

“Tonight, on ‘Temptation Living Room...’” Max added in his best announcer voice.

“Shut up!” Jacinda and Kyle hollered in unison.

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕

‘Morons.’ Jacinda thought, turning over in the cot that served as her bed. ‘What do they know?’ In love with Kyle. The very idea would have been laughable had her friends not seemed so serious. ‘First of all, he’s with Tess, and she’s my friend. So he’s off-limits to me, anyway. And second, he’s loud, weird, and...and...stop it! If he’s so wrong for me, why can’t I stop thinking about him?’ She rolled onto her stomach and put her pillow over her head, as if she could block out the thoughts that were crowding her tired mind, keeping sleep at bay.

She had spent nearly twelve years on Antar in this human body, growing up far away from civilization, deep underground where the rebel alliance that now ruled the planet could never find her, in a simulated environment. She could never set foot outside certain areas that had been made to mimic the oxygen levels on earth, even one moment outside in the Antarian environment would have killed her. In those twelve years, she thought she had become used to her human body, and all of its responses to any situation.

But she had been completely unprepared for the way her body reacted when she thought about Kyle. Her pulse sped up, her breathing became labored and faster, her face felt hot. And most surprising to her was the strange, almost tingling sensation deep down inside her, that spread warmth throughout her body, and the wet, aching sensation between her legs. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t control these reactions, and while she understood what they were, she didn’t understand why she had them.

A knock on the door interrupted her musings, and she was surprised when the door opened and Kyle stepped in.

“Hey.” He whispered “Did I wake you?”

“Nah, I was awake.” Jacinda replied, sitting up. “Couldn’t sleep.”

“Yeah, neither could I.” Kyle admitted. He sat down next to her, and she felt the warmth start, deep inside of her.

“Max and Liz...they’re...they’re idiots.” Jacinda said.

“Yeah, you just figure that out?” Kyle teased.

“No.” Jacinda giggled softly. “I just...they don’t know what they’re talking about.”

“Yeah.” Kyle agreed. “They’ love. Love makes people stupid.”

“Makes them say stupid things.” Jacinda said.

“Makes things...” Kyle moved a little closer to her, and Jacinda felt like she was detatched from her body. As Kyle’s arm slid around her waist and pulled her against him, it seemed like she was standing across the room, watching someone else.

She was only shocked back into herself when Kyle wrapped his other hand in her hair, tilted her head back slightly, and kissed her deeply. She moaned into his mouth and deepened the kiss, tangling her fingers in his hair and pressing her body against his.

Kyle groaned as he felt Jacinda’s nipples harden against him through her thin nightshirt. The small part of his brain that was still logical, still working clearly, screamed at him that this was wrong, that his girlfriend was only a few feet away. He knew he should have listened to that part of his brain, but he couldn’t. The rest of his brain was in control, and was telling him exactly what he was going to do.

“Ah!” Jacinda gasped out as Kyle lay her back on the cot, covering her body with his and sucking on her neck. “What about...unnghhh...what about...” she gestured blindly to the bed across the room, unable to even think of the name.

“She’s asleep.” Kyle panted, pulling frantically at the hem of her nightshirt. Somehow, he managed to peel it over her head, even as she stroked him through the thin cotton of his boxers. His undershirt was the next thing to go, followed by his shorts. When they were both completely naked, they practically attacked each other, their hands and mouths exploring desperately.

“Kyle...” Jacinda moaned. “Oh,!”

Her pleas broke the few remaining shreds of Kyle’s willpower, and he positioned himself between her soft thighs, pulling back to look into her beautiful face.

“I love you.” He whispered as he plunged forward.

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕

“Morning.” Kyle yawned.

“Shh, don’t bother me!” Jacinda said “I think I’m getting the hang of this meditation thing.”

“Okay, cool.” Kyle said, glad that that he had an excuse not to talk to her. The dream he’d had about her the night before kept replaying in his mind, over and over. He still couldn’t believe it had been a dream.

Jacinda took a few more deep breaths and kept her eyes closed. She prayed that Kyle would leave the room. There was no way she could face him after that dream, not yet at least.

“Morning, Buddha Boy!” Tess chirped brightly, skipping into the room. She noticed Jacinda. “Hey, Gumby.”

“Don’t bother her.” Kyle said, giving Tess a kiss. “I think she’s transcended the material world. Nice sweater.”

“Oh, thanks.” Tess said. “It’s Jacey’s.”

“What?!” Jacinda exploded, opening her eyes and jumping to her feet. “Didn’t I tell you not to touch my stuff?”

“So much for transcending the material world.” Tess muttered. “Sorry, I’ll change it.”

“No, it’s okay.” Jacinda sighed, sitting back down. “Sorry I yelled at you. I didn’t get much sleep last night.”

“Yeah, neither did I.” Tess said “You were tossing and moaning all night.” She smirked “Sex dream?”

“Uh, actually, I’m glad you’re both up. I need to talk to you.” Jacinda said, changing the subject and praying that she wasn’t blushing.

“Okay, what’s up?” Tess asked.

“Well, first of all, I want you both to know how much I appreciate everything that you’ve done for me.” Jacinda began. “But...I feel like I’m intruding, and...well, I talked to Maria and her mom this morning, and then I talked to Jim...I’m moving in with the DeLucas.”

“What?” Kyle said. “Why?”

“Because it’s time for me to move on.” Jacinda said.

“But you’ll be living with Shawn.” Tess pointed out.

Jacinda nodded “I know. I can handle him.”

“Are you sure about this?” Tess asked. “I mean, I thought we were having fun, the three of us.”

“We did have fun.” Jacinda told her. “It’s just time for a change.”

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕


Part 13

“You had a sex dream?” Liz gasped, slamming her locker door. She turned to Jacinda, slack-jawed. “About Kyle?”

“Say it a little louder.” Jacinda snapped. “I don’t think Maria and Isabel heard you all the way down at the end of the hall!”

“Yeah we did.” Isabel said as she and Maria caught up. “Really, Kyle? God, Jacey. I mean, he’s a nice guy and all, but really! It’s a dream, you’d think you could do better.”

“Shut up, okay?” Jacinda hissed, shooting a glare that made Isabel glad her sister couldn’t shoot death rays out of her eyes. “It was not a sex dream.”

“Sex dream?” Max repeated, falling into step beside the girls. He gave Liz a kiss, then regarded the other members of ‘the Gaggle’ with interest. “Who had a sex dream?”

Jacinda pinched her arm frantically, praying to wake up from this nightmare.

“Jacey did.” Maria informed him. “About Kyle.”

“I did not!” Jacinda protested. “It was not a sex dream.”

“Oh, Jesus.” Max groaned “Mental images...not good...very sorry I asked...”

“It was a dream, in which you had sex with Kyle.” Maria said “Therefore, it was a sex dream about Kyle.”

“Can we please not discuss this?” Max begged.

“Yes, please!” Jacinda agreed.

“Admit it.” Isabel said. “You’re in love with him.”

“She’s in love with who?” Tess asked.

“What is this, Sneak Up On Jacinda Day?” Jacinda groaned. “Come on, people, my heart can’t take all this. I’m high strung and paranoid enough as it is!”

“Who are you in love with?” Tess repeated.

“Ben Affleck.” Liz answered for Jacinda, saying the first name she could think of. “We saw ‘Pearl Harbor’ the other night, and you know, men in uniform...yow.”

“I’ll have to make a note of that.” Max said, raising an eyebrow.

“Really, Jacey?” Maria asked “Ben? Hmm, I guess he’s okay. I like Josh Hartnett better, myself.”

“I’m torn.” Liz admitted. “One thing we can all agree on, Kate Beckinsale has all the luck.”

Jacinda laughed and pretended to be paying attention to the conversation. Inside, she was panicking. How much longer she could she deny what was happening to her? And more important, what in the hell was happening to her?

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕

“That new chick staying with Valenti? Oh yeah, even hotter than the other one. Wilder, too. Probably an easier lay.”

“How does he do it? He’s got two total sex kittens living under his roof, sleeping in his bedroom, and we can barely get girls like that to give us the time of day.”

“Speak for yourself, my friend. Give me two days, and I guarantee that new girl will be all over me.”

“What do you think?” Kyle asked Max, shaking his head in disgust. “Kick their asses now, or after gym?”

“Kyle, please, I’m trying to control myself.” Max replied through clenched teeth. While the idea of punching out one of the knuckle-draggers who were now discussing his twin sister’s breasts in detail was tempting, he didn’t trust himself to stop there.

“Probably a good idea.” Kyle admitted. As much as it bothered him to hear his buddies talking about Jacinda like she was a piece of meat, he didn’t much feel like coming up with an explanation for silver handprint-marred corpses. “So, did Jacey tell you she’s moving out?”

“Yeah.” Max said “I’m not sure I like the idea of her living with Shawn, but she brushed it off when I tried to talk to her.”

“I don’t think I like it, either.” Kyle said.

Max nodded. “Of course neither of us like it. She’s my sister, and you’re ass-backwards in love with her.”

“Are you trying to get your alien ass kicked?” Kyle groaned. “Man, get it through your thick skull that I am not in love with your sister. I’m in love with Tess. She’s my girlfriend.”

“You really call it that?” Max asked. “Kyle, get a grip. She treats you like crap.”

“So does Jacinda.” Kyle pointed out.

“Yeah, because she’s in love with you.” Max said.

“Not following your logic.” Kyle said. “You know what? Never mind. What are we going to do about her living with Shawn?”

Max shrugged. “As much as I hate to say it, I don’t think we can do anything. She’s gonna make her own decisions, and we just have to trust her to take care of herself.”

“That doesn’t sound like you.” Kyle observed. He eyed Max suspiciously. “She smacked you around when you tried to change her mind, didn’t she?”

“No, she...” Max started to deny it, then grimaced and turned his head to reveal a bruise on the back of his neck. “How’d you guess?”

Kyle turned his back slightly and pushed aside his undershirt, revealing a large bruise on his shoulder blade.

“Ouch.” Max sympathized. “She’s definitely got a mind of her own.”

“And a hell of a right hook.” Kyle winced.

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕

“Are we sure there’s going to be enough room for Jacinda’s stuff in there?” Maria asked, gesturing to Jim’s SUV.

“She said she only had a few more things to move.” Jim replied.

Just then, the front door opened and Jacinda struggled out, dragging a huge suitcase that was full to bursting.

“This is a few things?” Jim asked as he took the suitcase from Jacinda.

“The first of a few things.” Maria said.

“Only three more of those.” Jacinda called over her shoulder as she headed back into the house.

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕

“When you moved in with us, you had one really huge box of shoes.” Kyle said to Jacinda. “A month later, moving out, you’ve got three even bigger boxes of shoes.”

Jacinda shrugged. “I like shoes.”

“You need therapy.” Kyle told her.

“That’s the pot calling the kettle whacked.” Jacinda muttered. “Shawn, get your useless ass out here and get these boxes!”

“Right, sorry.” Shawn said, grabbing a few boxes and struggling to carry them inside.

“Wow...” Kyle said.

“And you guys thought I wouldn’t be able to handle him.” Jacinda smirked.

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕

Jacinda woke up slowly, stretching her arms and arching her back slightly. Glancing over at the clock, she saw that it was nearly five o’clock in the evening. Groaning, she rolled out of her bed and looked around the room she had been sharing with Maria for the past two weeks.

Living with Maria and her mother had been a lot more fun than Jacinda had expected. If it weren’t for the constant male presence in the house, usually either on the couch or in front of the refrigerator, it would have almost felt like a non-stop slumber party.

The only thing that was keeping Jacinda from enjoying her new home completely, other than the aforementioned Y chromosome, were the constant dreams and daydreams about Kyle. She’d just had another one, more intense and more realistic than any of the others, and that was saying quite a lot.

With a sigh, Jacinda stretched again and flipped on the radio next to her bed.

Don't misread the silence
And take my distance as a sign
There's only one heart that's confused
And it's most likely mine
I always make the rules
And I change them all the time
Always stayed a step ahead
'Til you looked in my eyes

My thoughts are frozen
Can't you hear me screaming inside?
As you come closer
Don't know where to run this time

As Jacinda opened the closet and pulled out a pale pink sundress and matching high-heeled sandals, the dream she’d just had flashed through her mind again. She tried to stop it, but there was just no way. The dress and shoes slipped out of her hands and she collapsed against the closet door, gasping as the memory of Kyle’s hands and lips caressing every inch of her body overcame her. It had felt so real, she had almost thought it had been real this time.

All I know is what I feel
And what I feel is way too real
Who I am is what you see
Baby how did you ever get to me?

It could be so easy
If you'd just make one mistake
Then I won't feel the way I do
And I'll say it's fate

But this emotion
I keep trying to leave behind
Keeps getting closer
Don't know where to run this time

The song on the radio certainly wasn’t helping. Jacinda put out her hand and tried to use her powers to turn it off. But she tried a little too hard, and the radio flew off the table and right into the wall.

“What the hell’s goin’ on in here?” Shawn asked, opening the door.

“Great.” Jacinda muttered. “Shawn, beat it. The last thing I need right now is pearls of wisdom from a defrosted caveman.”

Shawn raised an eyebrow. “Geez, sometimes I think you’re a freakin’ sociopath or something.”

“Right, I’m a sociopath.” Jacinda said. “Did you know that sociopaths lack what the rest of you would call a conscience? Eating a popsicle, painting the walls with your blood, it’s all the same to me.”

“Guy troubles?” Shawn guessed.

“Do you never quit?” Jacinda groaned. “Yes, guy problems. No, I do not want to talk about it.”

“You want to forget about it?” Shawn asked. “This guy I met at the bowling alley is having a party.”

Jacinda thought for a minute. On the one hand, she didn’t want Shawn hanging all over her. On the other hand, she really wanted to forget. “Yeah.” She said finally. “Sounds great.”

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕


Part 14 *Warning: contains non-graphic rape scene*

“Come on, Jacinda, answer the damn phone.” Max said. He gave up and put down his cell phone. “Maria, did she say she was going out or anything?”

“Not that I can remember.” Maria replied, cleaning up some dirty dishes. “God, girlfriend, chill out. You guys should get going, you’re gonna miss the movie.”

“Yeah, Max, what’s going on?” Liz asked.

“I’m just worried about Jacey.” Max explained. “Something about her living with that retarded gorilla bothers me. Oh, no offense.”

“None taken.” Maria replied. “But honestly, there’s nothing to worry about. Shawn’s been leaving Jacey alone.”

Max nodded “Yeah, I know. That’s what she said. Still bothers me, though.”

“Trust me, I understand.” Maria assured him. “Listen, before they snapped and split for Kuwait or wherever, I seem to remember Shawn’s parents telling my mom that he was dropped as a baby.”

“I’d say thrown.” Liz said.

“That would be my guess.” Max agreed.

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕

Shawn chuckled “Oh, man, Tess is so...”

“Go ahead.” Jacinda told him. “You can say it. Retarded. No, wait. Retarded implies she has no control over it.” She took another sip and giggled. “This lemonade tastes funny.”

“It’s hard lemonade.” Shawn explained, handing her the bottle. “See?”

“Oh.” Jacinda said, taking the bottle and turning it over in her hands, trying to read the label. The writing was blurred. “Cool, okay. Can I have another?”


“Oh my God, okay, you want retarded?” Jacinda giggled. “This one time, I was telling Isabel what a load of crap those TV psychics are, because if they have the power to see the future, why don’t they just us it to win the lottery. And she said, get this, she said ‘They’re not in it for the money, they’re in it to help people. That’s why they stay on the phone as long as you need them to.’”

“You’re serious?” Shawn asked “God, that really is retarded.”

“This is fun.” Jacinda said, downing her third hard lemonade. “Oh man...I think I’m drunk.”

“You’re completely shit faced.” Shawn said “And after only three of those, too. You’re a real lightweight.”

“Yeah...” Jacinda said “Wow...I don’t feel so good. Maybe I better lay off of these things. We got anything else to drink?”

“I dunno. Hey, Jeremy! Anything else to drink?”

“Uh, Tequezer?” Jeremy replied.

“I have no idea what that is.” Jacinda said. “Gimme one.”

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕

“Max, stop staring at the phone.” Liz sighed. “She’ll call. Eventually.”

“I know.” Max said “I just...I worry about her. I shouldn’t, I know. But...she’s my twin sister, I have the right to worry. And it doesn’t even feel like she’s my twin. She’s so...I don’t And confused. I worry all the time that she’s going to get into a simple situation, and she won’t know how to handle it, and-”

“Max!” Liz sighed. She leaned over and kissed him, pulling herself up and moving so she was straddling him, effectively shutting him up. Then she pulled back. “Max, I know you want to be your sister’s protector, and that’s really sweet. But you’ve got to get over it.”

“Get over what?” Max asked, running his hands up and down her back. “Suddenly, I can’t remember what we’re talking about.”

“Glad to hear it.” Liz purred. She leaned in to kiss him again, then pulled back and sat back in her own seat. “Now we can watch the movie.”

Max groaned and managed a small smile. She was going to be the death of him.

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕

“Shawn...lemme go!” Jacinda whined as Shawn led her up the stairs. “I can walk.”

“You had four Tequezers and three hard lemonades.” Shawn said “You can’t even see straight.” He closed the door behind them.

Jacinda looked around, blinking and rubbing her eyes. “I can see straight enough to know that this isn’t my room.”

“Nope.” Shawn replied. “My room.”

“What are we doing in your room?” Jacinda asked, stumbling slightly.

“I figured you wouldn’t want M to come in later and find you plastered.” Shawn explained. “You know how she is.”

“Oh. Okay.” Jacinda said. “Good thinking.” Her legs finally gave out and she collapsed against Shawn.

“Here ya go.” Shawn said, lifting her up and setting her down on the bed.

As soon as her head touched the pillow, Jacinda felt herself starting to drift off. She fought sleep with all her might. Sleep was when the dreams came, and she couldn’t control them. Already, she could feel Kyle’s hands running over her body, starting to unfasten her dress. She struggled and managed to open her eyes. And saw that it wasn’t a dream. Shawn was undoing the buttons down the front of her dress, fumbling a little since he was also quite drunk.

“Stop it.” Jacinda said weakly, trying to shove his hands away. “What’re you doing?”

Shawn pulled her hands away and held them down by her sides. “What’s it look like?” He snarled. “Come on, you’ve been aching to jump my bones all night, you’ve been all over me.”

“I’ve been drunk all night, and so have you!” Jacinda snapped, suddenly very sober. “I mean it, get off of me!”

“Look, you can either relax and enjoy this, or you can just lie there and keep your mouth shut.” Shawn told her, tightening his grip on her arms and pushing her down a little harder.

Jacinda squeezed her eyes shut and concentrated, willing to blow Shawn into ashes and blood if she had to. She couldn’t do anything. All she could do was keep her eyes closed as tightly as possible and try to lift herself up, beyond the alcohol that she could smell on Shawn’s breath, beyond his hands groping drukenly, blindly. Beyond the pain that tore through her, knocking the air out of her lungs. In her mind, she lifted herself to a place far above the stars, so far that she could picture herself becoming a part of the night sky, up in the cool, peaceful darkness where there was no pain.

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕

“Shawn, get your lazy ass out of bed!” Maria yelled, pounding on the door. “I mean it! Jacinda’s AWOL, Mom’s panicking, and oh my God, I just said AWOL. Damn it, I’m starting to pick up the language!” She waited for another moment and then called. “That’s it, I’m coming in!”

As Maria threw the door open, the curses and threats she was planning to hurl at her cousin to get him out of bed caught in her throat. Shawn wasn’t in his bed. And Jacinda was. She was curled up in the fetal position, wrapped in a sheet, and trembling. As she got closer to the bed, Maria realized that Jacinda was sobbing quietly.

“Jacey?” She said cautiously. “Jacinda, what happened? What are you doing in here?” As she took another step forward, her eyes zeroed in on a few small spots on the sheets. Blood. “Oh my God.” Maria gasped. “Oh, God.”

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕


posted on 1-Sep-2001 6:34:36 PM
“So then, and I swear to Buddha I am not making this up,” Kyle was saying, “I opened up my locker and BAM! Chris Goulick comes tumbling out, completely out of it. Seems a couple of the guys on the football team shoved him in there during like, third period or something.”

Max shook his head. “That kid is such a burnout.”

“Correction, a reformed burnout.” Liz cut in. “And as much as I hate to say it, that’s a shame. I mean, at least when he was smoking hash before class every day he was funny once in a while.”

Kyle chuckled. “Girl’s got a point.”

Everyone looked up as the door opened, and Maria and Jacinda walked in. Or rather, Maria walked in, practically carrying Jacinda, who looked semi-concious.

“Just wait right here, I’ll talk to them, okay?” Maria whispered, helping Jacinda to sit in the first booth.

Jacinda lifted her head slightly and nodded. She watched through half-closed eyes as Maria walked over to the counter. The laughter had died down as soon as the two girls had entered. Max, Kyle, Liz, and Michael were watching Maria approach them. Max stood up and said something that Jacinda couldn’t make out, but Maria put up her hand to silence him. From where she was sitting, Jacinda could only see Maria’s back, and couldn’t hear what she was saying. But she could see Max, Liz, and Kyle’s faces. After a minute, Liz grasped the counter as she slowly sank onto a stool, saying something over and over. Kyle’s mouth opened and closed a few times as he shook his head. Max closed his eyes and appeared to be struggling to keep his temper under control. He failed misersably.

“He...he didn’t.” He said, his voice shaking. The glass bottle he was holding broke, exploding, shattering into a thousand pieces and slicing into his hand. Max didn’t seem to notice, even when blood started to drip from his still-clenched fist. “That son of a...” He was trying to find the right word, any word to convey the hatred he felt at that moment. Giving up, he simply let out a yell, more of a roar, and slammed his fist through the wall.

“Max!” Maria said, grabbing his arm. “Calm down.”

“Calm down?!” Max repeated, pulling away from her. “That son of a bitch got my twin sister drunk, raped her, and took off, and you’re telling me to calm down?”

“Yes, she is.” Liz cut in. “Because you need to. The last thing Jacinda needs right now is to have you ranting and raving.”

That got through to Max, and at least temporarily, he calmed down. He went over to the table where Jacinda was sitting and stood there, unsure of what to do. Finally, he sat down across from Jacinda and took her hand. “I will find him...somehow, I will find him, and I will make him pay for what he did to you.”

“So will I.” Kyle finally spoke up. “He’s not gonna get away with this, Jacinda. We can tell my dad, he’ll help us track him down, and we’ll get him.”

“No, you guys-” Jacinda began.

“That’s actually a good idea.” Max said. “And-and your dad can help us cover up...whatever we do to him, and get rid of whatever’s left when we get through.”

“You guys-”

“Yeah, you know, I know all about karma.” Kyle said. “And how you can’t just take revenge, you have to let karma catch up to the person.” He shook his head. “Fuck that, man! Okay? I say we go Old Testament on his ass, and karma can lead him down the path of truth while he grows some new skin.”

“Okay, see, now that is a plan right there.” Max told him. “Who would have thought all that Zen stuff would actually come in handy?”

“You guys!” Jacinda screamed, slamming her hands against the formica table top.

Max and Kyle stopped their ranting and turned to her.

“Jacey, what’s wrong?” Max asked. “We’re...we’re going to do this for you. Hell, I’ll bring you his head...or even other parts, on a stick, just say the word.”

“Max, shut up.” Jacinda said through clenched teeth. “Look, it’s nice that you guys want to kick his ass for me. But I don’t want you to do this, I don’t want you going all vigilante on me, okay?”

Max shook his head. “I don’t understand...what he did to you-”

“Was a horrible, disgusting thing.” Jacinda interrupted. “But if you hurt’re no better than he is.”

Everyone was silent for a moment, then Max nodded and kissed his sister’s hand. “I don’t agree. But...if that’s how you want it...I mean, it’s up to you.”

“Thank you for understanding.” Jacinda said softly. She stood up, with some difficulty, though she tried to hide it. “Maria, let’s go home. We’ll tell your mom I slept over at Liz’s last night or something.”

“Jacey, wait.” Liz said. “Are you...I mean, I know you’re not okay, you need to talk?”

Jacinda shook her head. “I need to rest, I need to...process everything.” She sighed and ran a hand through her raven hair. “I’ll be okay...I, I will. I’ll be fine.”

“Okay.” Max said. “Okay, you can call me if, you know, you need to talk or...anything.”

“I know I can.” Jacinda replied. “Thanks.”

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕

“She’s...dealing with it really, really well.” Max said later that night. “Too well.”

“I can’t believe Shawn...God, I can’t even say it.” Michael said. “I don’t care what she said, I say we kill him.”

Isabel shook her head. “Michael-”

“No, really.” Michael interrupted. “She may feel that way now, but believe me, she’ll thank us later.”

“I say we tell my dad.” Kyle spoke up. “I mean, he’s the sheriff. He’ll track him down, arrest him. He’s got prior convictions, getting him put away should be easy.”

“We really can’t get the law involved in this.” Isabel sighed. “We can’t let Jacinda be investigated.”

“Whoa, whoa, wait a minute.” Tess said. “Kyle, when the hell did your dad get his job back?”

Kyle stared at her for a moment. “About a month, six weeks ago, give or take. Remember? He took us and Amy and Maria out to dinner?”

“No.” Tess said. “Was I there?”

“Uh, yeah.” Kyle said, raising an eyebrow.

“Okay, anyway, back to Jacinda.” Alex said. “Maybe I’ve been reading too many pyschology books, but we gotta get her to deal with this somehow. If she buries’s not gonna be good.”

“I shouldn’t have let this happen to her.” Max said after a minute of silence.

“Max, you didn’t.” Liz said. “You couldn’t have stopped it.”

“I could have stopped her from moving in with him.” Max insisted. “There had to be some way I could have talked her out of it.”

“Not really.” Kyle said. “We both tried that, remember what it got us? Bruised.”

“We gave up too easily.” Max snapped. “And look where it got her.”

“You can’t hold yourself responsible.” Isabel said gently. “You had no way of knowing-”

“I knew he had been bothering her.” Max interrupted. “I never liked that guy. Before it was Jacinda, it was Liz.”

“Don’t remind me.” Liz pleaded. “I keep thinking that it could have been me. And I hate myself for thinking that, because I hate that this happened to Jacey.”

“Look, the bottom line is that something unspeakable happened to someone we all care about.” Alex said. “There’s no point in trying to place blame on ourselves, on each other, on anyone. We just have to be prepared, night and day, for her to come to any one of us, needing to talk, needing advice, maybe just needing a shoulder to cry on.” Everyone stared at him. “What, so I watched a few episodes of ‘The View’ with my mom, okay? I’m right and you guys know it.”

“You guys!” Maria ran in, out of breath. She leaned against the counter for a moment before she was able to speak. “Jacey’s gone.”

“Gone?” Max repeated, jumping to his feet. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, gone.” Maria said. “She took her keys, and took off. I tried her cell phone a hundred times, she’s not answering it.”

“Did she say...anything, do you have any idea where she might have gone?” Isabel asked.

Maria shook her head. “Nothing!”

“Okay, no one panic.” Max said. “We’ll split up and look for her. Anywhere you can think of that she might have gone. The mall, the movie theater, the pod chamber, anywhere.”

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕

Jacinda threw another pebble into the quarry and watched as it hit the water, sending ripples through the reflection of the moon.

“How did you know to find me here?” She asked, without turning around.

“I don’t know.” Kyle admitted, sitting down beside her. “I just thought you might be here, no idea why.”

They sat in silence for a moment before Jacinda threw another rock and looked at Kyle. “So...if I jumped in from you think it would kill me?”

Kyle stared at her. “What?”

“I was just wondering.” Jacinda shrugged. “Do you think it would?”

“Yeah, I think so.” Kyle replied. “And you know what else? I think it would kill your brother. And your sister. And Liz, Maria, Alex, Michael, and Tess...and me.”

“I think you guys would get over it.” Jacinda said.

“And I think that we need to talk about this.” Kyle told her. “Come on, we’re going back to the Crashdown.” He stood up and pulled her to her feet.

Jacinda shook him off. “No!”

“Jacey, come on.” Kyle said. “Your brother is going to have a coronary, he has no idea where you are and he’s worried. And don’t even get me started on Maria.”

“Kyle, no!” Jacinda pleaded. “I’m just...I’m not ready to talk to them, not yet...can’t we just...take off?”

“And go where?” Kyle asked.

“Anywhere.” Jacinda sighed. “Not like, a different timezone or anything, but somewhere else. Just for a few hours, even.”

Kyle thought for a minute. “Okay, you win. Come on, get in the car.”

⊕ ⊕ ⊕ ⊕