posted on 2-Sep-2001 4:40:21 PM
Sequel to Existing For Only You

Topic: Max/Liz, all the other CC as well... AU Future fic...
Author: Wind Dancer (aka Leah)
Email: wnddancer⊕yahoo.com
Rating: PG to NC-17
Disclaimer: I own nothing Roswell...thank goodness Melinda Metz is joining the writing staff next season!

Summary: Picks up one month after Existing, Liz has woken up with no memory of the events in the pod chamber. A mysterious second book is found and the gang races against time to try and decipher it...as it may contain the information they need to finally defeat their enemies who are rapidly closing in. The past comes back to haunt them...will a new face be a friend or foe?


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Pronunciation Guide

sirdsgläbëjs (pron. sierts-glah-beis)
dzïvesbiedre (pron. tzee-vess-beah-dreh)
mïlots (pron. mee-yaots...say last syllable very fast)
mäceklis (pron. maah-tse-clis)

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Prologue


Tangled up in our embrace
There's nothing I'd like better,
Than to fall.

But I fear
I have nothing to give
I have so much to lose
I have nothing to give
We have so much to lose...








"Sirdsgläbëjs. We have to find the sirdsgläbëjs."


Tess looked into each of their faces as her words echoed through the Pod Chamber. She had absolutely no idea what the sirdsgläbëjs was, but she felt an absolute urgency to find out. And soon… Tess noticed for the first time that one was missing as she looked around the room. Where was Liz? She looked over at Max and realized that he was holding someone. Tess stared at the still figure, terror building in her throat as Liz's head lolled to the side facing her. The wide, staring white caused a swift, freezing chill to run down her spine. Tess slowly got to her feet, smiling at Kyle, who rushed to help her. His hand
stayed at her waist as she walked across the chamber towards Max.

Max looked up at Tess, noting for the first time that she seemed fully recovered. Whatever had been holding her, was now gone. But, as he looked from Tess to Kyle and then back down at Liz, Max knew for certain that this was just the beginning.
The beginning of the worst. And maybe even the end. He closed his eyes to the staring whites of her eyes and began to pray. He prayed that he had the strength to protect all of them, but especially the small girl in his arms. She was his whole world, his life. Without her, Max knew he was nothing. Not a king, not a leader, not even human.

Tess put her hand on Max's shoulder and gave it a quick squeeze. She smiled warmly at him as he raised his head, the quiet desperation in his eyes causing her knees buckle. Kyle looked at her in alarm as his arm went around Tess' waist, supporting her. Tess looked up at Kyle again.

"I'm fine, Kyle. Really."

Kyle let out the breath he felt like he'd been holding for days and for the first time felt his heart slow in his chest. Tess had been given back to him. He kept his arm around her waist as she turned back to Liz and Max. Tess held Max's eyes as she reached out a trembling hand to Liz. Her hand stopped an inch from Liz's hand as she closed her eyes and took a shuddering breath. Tess crossed that last small distance to lay her hand on Liz's. As soon as her skin touched Liz's, a flash pounded through her mind, causing her to grip Liz's hand harder as she fought to stay standing.


**FLASH **

The Granolith chamber pulsed with light, the panels flashing silver and then blue and then gold. There was a small click and a panel slid open with a slight squeak in the base of the Granolith. The pulsing light in the room slowed and faded and then redirected itself to highlight the contents. There was something important in there…

**FLASH**


The flash faded away abruptly as Kyle jerked Tess' hand away from Liz. He clutched her into his arms as she blinked her eyes rapidly trying to clear them, the vision still beating a harsh tempo in her mind. She wriggled in Kyle's tight embrace and he reluctantly loosened his arms as he pulled back and hoarsely ground out.

"Don't DO things like that. Are you trying to KILL me?!! I almost had a stroke!"

Tess looked into Kyle's eyes that were suspiciously bright and felt a warmth flood her entire body. He was worried about her. He was scared FOR her. She smiled and brought her hand up to his cheek as she leaned toward him and whispered.

"I'm fine, I promise…I'm fine. I'm not leaving. I guess you're just stuck with me."

Kyle leaned a fraction of an inch closer to Tess and murmured just loud enough for her to hear.

"I'm holding you to it. Forever." And then pressed a soft kiss to her lips. Tess exhaled sharply as Kyle's lips opened over hers and his tongue swept out to trace her lips. She was rapidly falling into the sweet embrace when a tendril of sanity intruded. The vision. The Granolith. Tess eased away from Kyle after one last kiss to the corner of his lips and turned back to Max.

"There's something in the Granolith."

Max felt his jaw drop and his eyes widen as Isabel came forward, Tess' statement still echoing in his ears. The question his lips couldn't form was issued from his sister's mouth.

"What are you talking about? What's in the Granolith?"

Tess looked at all their faces as they came forward, Max rising with Liz in his arms, forming a tight semi-circle in front of her. She beckoned to them as she turned, followed closely by Kyle and led them into the Granolith Chamber. They pressed against the one of the walls and watched as Tess walked slowly to the console at the center. She ran her hands lightly over the top and then down the sides of it, searching. She held her breath as she did this and then let it out in a quick rush as suddenly a small silver handprint appeared as her hand passed over one side. She stopped and looked back at the others the shocked and wary expressions mirrored the frantic pounding of her heart. Tess steeled herself as she pressed her hand firmly to the handprint and stumbled back a step as the panel flew back, revealing a small drawer.

Tess saw something glowing dully within the small compartment as she stepped closer, peering into it. She reached with a shaking hand into the drawer and jerked her hand back as she made contact with something hard and cold. Her heart began to pound within her breast as she closed her fingers hesitantly around it and pulled it out of the drawer. It was a book. Tess held her breath as she turned it over in her hands, a startled gasp wrenched from her lips as she saw the whirlwind symbol emblazoned on the cover. She traced the whirlwind symbol slowly for the briefest of moments when a collective harsh intake of breath sounded behind her. Tess whirled around in time to see Liz sitting up, her dark brown eyes wide as her gaze collided with Tess'. Tess held the silver book clutched in one hand as Liz smiled and reached her hands out to her as she spoke.

"Siava."


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Part I


One Month Later


"DAMN IT!" Michael threw down the silver book in frustration as he raked his hands through his hair. His outburst caused several of the people dining in the Crashdown to turn and stare. Max leaned over the table and whispered, a warning tone in his voice.

"Michael. Keep your voice down."

"Okay. But, we have to figure out what this means…it's been a month. And nothing!"

Michael picked up the silver book again and flipped open the first page. It was similar to the Destiny book, strange writing that seemed so familiar to all of them. But none of them could remember how to read it. He continued flipping the pages until he got to the picture on the last page. He stared at it, focusing all his attention on it as his finger traced the whirlwind symbol and then continued to the stars within it and then moved to the three groupings of stars around it. He paused for a few long moments, his finger tracing the grouping of stars to the right of the whirlwind. And then with a long sigh, Michael
closed the book and stuffed it into Max's duffel, and then turned his attention back to Max. He was staring at Liz as she served a table across the room. 'Big surprise there.' Michael thought with a wry smile as he asked.

"How's Liz doing? Does she remember anything about what happened?"

Max's head snapped up at Michael's question, his jaw tightening as he stomped down on the wave of worry that crashed through him. It'd been a month since that day in the Pod Chamber, when they almost lost Tess and then Liz. A month since Liz had spoken that baffling message, a month since Tess found the second book. A month they'd all had spent trying to find River Dog or rather Rivan again and trying to decipher the new book. With no success. Rivan seemingly had vanished and the book was an even bigger mystery. And to top it all off, Liz had no memory of anything that had happened after she collapsed. He hadn't had the strength to tell her that she basically died in his arms, as if the words would somehow cause the awful event to happen again. Max stilled his melancholy thoughts as he remembered that Michael was still waiting for his response.

"No, she doesn't. But, she seems to be fine. I don't know, Michael… I'm worried."

"Worried about what? Liz? Or everything?"

Max smiled ruefully at Michael as he propped his chin on his hand and let out a loud sigh. Before he could answer, the object of their discussion slid into the booth next to Max. Liz smiled as she leaned over and snagged one of Michael's Saturn rings, her face twisting in a grimace as she took a bite and tasted the explosion of Tabasco in her mouth. She grabbed Max's water glass and gulped the cool liquid down as fast as she could, then turned to glare at Michael who was covering up his grin with one hand.

"Ugh! I STILL don't understand how you guys can eat everything doused with that stuff."

"Sweet and spicy." Those three words were Michael's only answer as he slid out of the booth and walked toward the counter with his glass in his hand.

"So, what were you guys talking about?" Liz asked as she slid into the seat across from Max that was just vacated by Michael.

Max tried not to look guilty as he looked into Liz's eyes and mumbled.

"Nothing. Just stuff."

"Stuff, huh?" Liz raised an eyebrow at Max as she reached over and began to trace small circles on the back of Max's hand. Max found himself mesmerized by her fingers as they rubbed his hand, over and over. He could feel his body heating, his blood simmering from just the chaste touch of Liz's hand on his. His gaze lifted until he was staring into her eyes, his breath catching as he watched the dark chocolate depths darken and her gaze drift to his lips. He watched with satisfaction as her breath quickened as he snaked his tongue out to moisten his suddenly dry lips. Max leaned towards Liz, his hand reaching out to cup her neck as he urged her closer to him.

"GET a room, you two. Geez, can't you horn-dogs give it a REST? People are eating here." Michael's voice, laced with a liberal dose of sarcasm, ripped through the sensual haze like a wrecking ball. It earned him a dark look from Max, which he promptly returned with a grin as he overturned a fresh bottle of Tabasco in his Coke. Liz stuck her tongue out at Michael as she slid from the booth and went back to work.

"Thanks a lot." Max said through gritted teeth as he clenched his fists under the table.

"Sure… Really, it was my pleasure." Michael grinned again as he lifted his glass and tossed back a swallow.

Max turned away and watched as Liz walked across the room balancing a tray of food with both hands, her short uniform hugging her in all the right places. His temperature shot through the roof again as his imagination ran wild as his eyes looked at the snaps running down the front of it. Without sparing a glance to Michael, Max grabbed his duffel bag and slid out of the booth mumbling,

"Uh, I gotta go…do something. See ya."

He was so preoccupied with his own thoughts that he didn't hear Michael's bark of laughter as he rushed out the front doors. Liz walked by the booth, her eyebrow raised questioningly as she put another Coke down in front of Michael. He just raised his eyebrow right back at her, smiling with his tongue firmly placed in his cheek. Liz let a breath out with an exasperated whoosh as she demanded.

"Where'd Max go?"

"My guess…to umm…*cough* unwind.... In the nearest cold shower." The dry tone in Michael's voice and his reply causing Liz to turn about 50 shades of red. She mumbled something he didn't quite catch and walked quickly towards the back room, leaving Michael to chuckle after her. He turned his attention back to his Saturn rings and let his mind wander.

Maria, Maria. Maria…Maria…Maria…Maria.

Michael yanked himself out of his daze as the object of his thoughts came strolling through the doors. He watched her as she made her way through the tables and walked to the counter, a bright smile on her face as she greeted Liz. Michael felt a wave of cold crash over him as Maria turned and looked at him, her smile fading swiftly, to be replaced by a shuttered, hard expression. She held his eyes for only the briefest of moments before she turned her back to him again and walked into the backroom. Michael ran his hands over his face as he leaned his elbows on the table trying to block out the thoughts that began to plague him.

I've really lost her. What if I've lost her? What if she never forgives me?

"What if she never forgives me?" Michael said under his breath as he dug into his pockets for money to pay the check.

"Who'll never forgive you?" The voice he wasn't expecting rang into his ears as he went completely still, afraid to look up. But, finally he did and met the cool, green eyes of a wary Maria. She arched an eyebrow at him as if daring him to tell the truth. Michael swallowed spasmodically as he tried to remember how to speak. He drowned for awhile in her eyes as he searched frantically for his voice. She let out a sigh and began to turn away, her jaw clenching, when he blurted out.

"You." Michael closed his eyes for a few moments, afraid to see her reaction. He reluctantly opened his eyes and met Maria's considering gaze. Her face was completely still, no expression marring her calm countenance. He held his breath, waiting. Maria turned away, picking up the dish and glass from the table and then stopped as she tossed back over her shoulder.

"I never say never…" Maria stopped as Michael inhaled sharply, the beginnings of a smile forming at the edges of his lips. She turned away again, and ignored the deflated sigh that followed her as she said.

"Except when I'm talking about you."

Part II


Later that night


Liz flipped from channel to channel, stopping for only the briefest of moments before moving on…muttering to herself.

"Re-runs, infomercial, infomercial, re-runs, boring, boring, BORING!"

She sighed in frustration and started to flip through the channels again when she heard a tap at her window. She looked up and saw Max peering into her room, his eyes sweeping from side to side. Liz stood up and walked quickly over to the window, sliding it up as Max crouched and levered himself over the sill. He smiled as he straightened, reaching out to pull Liz into his arms. She wrapped her arms around his neck, pressing her face tightly into his chest as she listened to the steady beating of his heart. Max pulled back a little and leaned in, pressing a soft kiss to her lips, and then resting his forehead on Liz's as his eyes stared into hers.

"I missed you." Max whispered, his breath warm on Liz's lips. She quirked an eyebrow and asked cheekily.

"It's only been a couple of hours. And you MISSED me?" Liz laughed as Max's brow furrowed in response to her words, and reached out her fingers to smooth them over his cheek, lingering there before sweeping them over his lips. Max's sharp intake of breath at her touch, drew Liz's eyes up to his, the dark intensity threatening to burn. Her heart sped up as she took a step back from him and tried to lighten the mood.

"So, Max…what happened this afternoon? Why'd you leave so suddenly? Did Michael say something?"

Max thrust his hands into his pockets and looked down at his feet as he stuttered.

"No, nothing…Nothing happened. I just had something…something to do." Liz cocked an eyebrow at Max, as she slowly stepped closer to him, noting the way his breath quickened as he watched her progress.

Max was in trouble. His hands were shaking as he clenched them into fists within his pockets, desperately trying to conquer the overwhelming desire to grab Liz and devour her. He couldn't explain the way he was feeling lately, like he had no control over his body. Every time Liz was near him, his body seemed to burn and his mind clouded with thoughts almost feral in nature. He wanted to possess Liz, to wrap himself up in her…loose himself in her… Mate with her. Just those random thoughts were enough to scare Max, who didn't want to lose control. He couldn't lose control. He had to be gentle and loving with Liz, she deserved nothing less. Max tried to slow his pounding heart, the furious beating drummed in his chest as Liz stopped in front of him, mere inches away. As he watched her, his eyes wary, Liz reached out her hand to touch him. Max jerked and backed away another step. Liz stopped, her hand still raised and stared into Max's eyes, the expression in the wild amber depths, sending heat roaring through her whole body.

She leaned toward him, her hand a breath away from his chest as she whispered.

"What is it, Max? What aren't you telling me? Why don't you want me to touch you?"

Max turned away from the temptation that was Liz and raked his hands through his hair as he wracked his brain for the words. Moments ticked by as Liz watched Max's stiff back as he struggled with the weight of something she couldn't see. She held her breath as he turned back to her, the hunger in his eyes tearing at her like claws as he huskily replied.

"Liz, something's happening to me. And I can't control it, and when I'm around you…all I want to do is…have you. At the Crashdown this afternoon, I was watching you as you worked...and all those snaps down the front of your uniform... I was losing control, I had to leave or I would have done something…"

Liz's pulse raced wildly as his words began to sink in. Her skin seemed to leap towards Max as she played with one of the snaps on the front of the uniform she was still wearing. She watched as his eyes followed the tiny movement of her fingers, their smoldering heat caressing her as she asked.

"What would have happened? What would you have done?"

Max closed his eyes. He had to stop looking at those snaps, they were slowly killing him. And Liz's eyes… the deep chocolate brown, pulled at him… His wavering control slipped even further as Liz popped open a snap on her uniform, her soft skin peeking through the small gap. He begged in a strained voice,

"Liz, please… Please. You have to stop. Don't you understand?! I CAN'T control myself around you. ALL I want to do is rip that off…and…and… But, I can't…I can't… I have to control myself. I don't want to hurt you."

"You would never hurt me, Max." Liz stated in a breathless voice as she trailed her hand down the front of her uniform, her fingers catching on another snap as she tugged slightly. The pop of the snap giving way, seemed to echo in the quiet room. The tiny explosion causing Max's body to jerk, as his eyes were drawn to the larger expanse of Liz's soft skin, that was now exposed. He began to shake, his fingernails digging into his palms as he clenched his hands into tighter fists. Max grasped at his weakening control, desperately trying to be strong. His efforts proved futile as Liz shattered the last shreds of it with six words.

"Put your hands on me, Max."

Her words echoed through his mind as the beast in him, reared up and howled. He crossed the small distance between them in one stride, yanking Liz up against him. Her hips were pressed flush against his as he stared down into her desire-clouded eyes. Liz shuddered as Max's hot eyes traveled the length of her body, branding her as his, without even a touch. She gave a small squeak of protest that quickly turned into a helpless moan, as he pushed her away from him just long enough to rip open the front of her uniform, the snaps popping open with tiny explosions of sound. Max pulled the uniform down Liz's arms, holding her slightly away from him as he devoured her with his eyes. The uniform caught on Liz's elbows and she began to struggle with it, wanting her hands and arms free to touch him. Max watched as Liz's struggles caused her breasts to rise with every agitated movement. The growl that erupted from his throat, ceased her struggles, and called to her in the most primal way. Liz went absolutely still as Max began to slowly pull her toward him, every inch seeming like an eternity. She bowed her head back, the long line of her throat exposed as she moaned.

"Max…"

Their bodies brushed in a whisper of contact that had Liz gasping from the heat and Max baring his teeth in response. Their bodies brushed again, a soft caress of Liz's bare skin, drawing another low growl from Max as he spun her in his arms. Pulling her back against his body, her buttocks pressed tightly against his aching arousal. Max's head was spinning as he roughly whispered in her ear, his warm breath teasing the outer shell.

"You're mine. MINE. No one else will ever touch you like this…love you like this… You belong to me… Body, heart, mind, and soul…Forever."

"Max…"

Her helpless gasp arousing him even more than he thought was possible as he moaned into her ear, savagely throwing open their connection, as he sent silently.

'Say it, Liz. Say it… You're mine. Say it!'

Liz leaned her head back, tilting it to the side, so her mouth was within inches of his as she whispered.

"I'm yours…YOURS. Forever." She arched back, grinding her hips into him gently as she silently added.

'Touch… me…Max…'

Max's lips descended over Liz's as he sucked her full lower lip into his mouth, running his tongue along it, causing Liz to whimper breathlessly. His head was full of the helpless gasps and moans coming from Liz's throat as he stroked his hands up and down the bare skin of her stomach, resting low on her abdomen for a moment, before stroking up to rest on the undersides of her breasts. Liz slowly rubbed circles with her hips, softly pressing into Max as he continued to thrust his tongue into her mouth, devouring the searing wet paradise between her lips. Max's head was spinning with want for the petite girl in his arms, her small movements against his groin causing the aching need to crash through every cell in his body. He trailed his hands over the curves of her breasts, their beauty hidden from him by her bra. The thought that anything was hidden from his eyes, his hands, even for the briefest of moments, had Max growling as he waved his hand over the covering, his powers turning it to ash. He immediately filled his hands with the weight of her exquisite breasts, his thumbs tracing her nipples, plucking the soft points until they pressed insistently against his fingers.

Liz's soft sighs of pleasure seeped into Max's clouded mind as he turned her again in his arms, his lips trailing from her mouth down the side of her neck, to suck at that tender spot at the base of her throat. Max slowly moved forward with Liz in his arms, never taking his lips away from her. Liz bit her lip to muffle the gasps and cries escaping her mouth as Max continued to torture her exquisitely with his talented lips. She let out a startled gasp as she felt the cold plaster of the wall against her back, which quickly turned into moaning sighs as Max held her arms at her sides and proceed to kiss and suck his way down her collarbone until he reached her bare breasts. The warmth of his breath teased her nipples, as they puckered tightly in response. Max stared intently on the beauty before him, his breath catching as he leaned forward, closer to heaven and whispered.

"Oh…Liz…God, you're so beautiful. Mine…you're mine…"

Max let go of her arms as his hands wrapped around her waist leaning her toward him as he brushed a teasing kiss across one nipple. Liz's hands speared into his hair, gripping the sleek strands, as if they were a lifeline. She held him to her as he continued to lick and suck at her nipples, going back and forth, laving equal amounts of attention on both aching breasts until Liz was mindless with pleasure. She nearly sobbed with loss as Max's lips suddenly left her breasts, only to be replaced by his hands as he licked a blazing trail of fire down her torso, stopping at her navel. Liz's knees buckled as Max's tongue darted in and out of her navel, mimicking the ultimate act of love. She reached out her hands and gripped his hair again and pulled. Max stopped his caresses and looked up at Liz. He couldn't stop the surge of satisfaction that leapt in him as he noted her flushed cheeks and passion blind eyes as she moaned his name and reached for the connection between them.

"Max…"

'Max, please…Please.'

Max trailed his hand down her stomach again and silently asked.

'Liz…do you want to stop?'

He waited as he held a breath, which he let out in a loud whoosh as her thoughts punched through their connection.

'Max…I need to touch you…Let me touch you…NOW…'

Max couldn't stop the chuckle that left his lips at the forceful tone of her thoughts. He stood up slowly and stared into Liz's eyes as he mischievously sent back, on the trailing end of their connection, seven words that got him hurled straight to heaven in one shot.

'What the lady wants, the lady gets.'

He watched as Liz's eyes darkened into black velvet as she grabbed the hem of his t-shirt and yanked it off, tossing it to the floor. She wrapped one arm around his neck, pushing her breasts against his now bare chest, wrenching a moan of pleasure from his lips. Liz leaned toward him, and swept her tongue across the seam of his lips, teasing him. His hands clenched at her hips in response to every flick of her tongue, until another soft growl erupted from Max's throat as he grabbed her chin and forced her lips to his. Immediately deepening the kiss by thrusting his tongue into her mouth over and over until they were both gasping. Max lifted his hands to her hair and weaved his fingers through the soft strands as he kissed his way down Liz's neck, stopping at the base of her throat, where her pulse throbbed. He teased her with the tip of his tongue and then sucked a small bit of her soft skin into his mouth, grazing it with his teeth. He pulled back a tiny bit, and hid his grin of triumph in her hair, at the sight of his mark on her. His mate. That thought had him growling again as he returned to devour her lips. Liz moaned into Max's mouth as her hands wandered down his bare chest, stopping briefly to pinch his nipples, exhilarated by the violent spasm that ran the length of his body in response.

Max tore his lips away from Liz's to gasp in pleasure that was almost pain as her hands trailed over his abdomen and caught at the button of his jeans. He held his breath and her gaze as her tiny hands slipped into his pants as soon as she undid the fastening, caressing low on his belly. Max's mind closed off to everything except the feeling of her hands on his skin. Time seemed to stop as Liz slid his zipper down slowly, the rasping sound loud in the quiet room. Max closed his eyes and tried to breathe as Liz stroked him through the fabric of his boxers. He barely heard the moan her sweet hands wrung from his lips over the roaring in his ears.

Liz fingered her way into the flap on the front of Max's boxers, the satiny smooth skin of his manhood greeting her seeking hand. She closed her hand around him, slowly stroking up and down, a thrill going through her with every moan of her name on Max's lips. She brought her lips back to his, thrusting her tongue into his mouth as she opened her mind, the connection unfurling between them.

'Max…do you like that?'

'Oh…god… YES! Don't stop…Lizzz!'

They were both so caught up in each other, that neither of them heard the front door opening, or the footsteps down the hall, until it was much too late. The footsteps stopped at Liz's door and as the doorknob turned, reality came crashing through it.

"Liz, honey…we're home…" Jeff Parker's voice trailed off in shock as he took in the sight of his daughter in the arms of Max Evans. His eyes widened as the fact that they were only half-dressed and Max's hands were somewhere they shouldn't have been, finally penetrated his daze as he yelled.

"GET YOUR HANDS OFF MY DAUGHTER!!"

His shout had Nancy running into the room, only to stop in shock and press her hand to her mouth as she stared at the scene before her. Liz peeked around Max, her face flaming red, as she looked from her father to her mother. She closed her eyes and buried her face in Max's shoulder as she sent through their connection desperately.

'Max…oh, god…this is SO embarrassing! Can you help me with my uniform, quickly! And your pants… Oh, my dad is going to KILL me…er…actually he'll probably want to kill you. Sorry…'

Max waved his hand first over the front of his jeans zipping them up and buttoning them, and then over Liz's uniform and it quickly was buttoned up to her neck and the wrinkles from his hands were smoothed as he sent back.

'Liz…you were kidding about your dad…Weren't you? Liz? LIZ!'

She smiled up at him a little wanly as she leaned up and brushed a swift kiss over his lips, her thoughts reaching out to him.

'Don't worry, I'll protect you.'

As she turned her attention back to her parents who were standing there, the shocked expressions etched plainly across their faces. She smiled warmly at them as she walked around Max, trying to divert their attention by casually asking.

"So how was the movie? Did you guys have fun?"

Her benign question met with a brief moment of stunned silence before causing her father to let out another roar of anger.

"ELIZABETH ANNE PARKER, you are GROUNDED! And YOU, you…you delinquent…GET OUT OF MY HOUSE! YOU are NEVER going to see her AGAIN! GET OUT! GET OUT!"

Liz stalked over to her seething father, and stood toe to toe with him as she said through gritted teeth.

"I am NOT a child! You can't order ME around! I'll live MY life the way I choose!"

Jeff Parker felt his eyebrows meet his hair as he glowered down at his only child, not recognizing the woman she'd become. No matter how old she got, she was still HIS little girl, and he'd be damned if some little punk was going to take her away. So he did what all males did when their territory was threatened…he got stupid and laid down the law.

"Listen young lady, while you're in THIS house…you'll OBEY my rules! And I say that you will NOT see him again. END of discussion."

Nancy Parker's eyes widened as she heard the same ultimatum issued from her husband's lips that once came from her father's in a similar situation. Nancy covered her eyes as she remembered how it'd worked out then. She took a breath and decided she would not let her husband drive their child away, the way her father had driven her away. She walked over to Jeff who was clenching his fists at his side as he waged a silent battle of wills with their daughter. Nancy felt a tiny surge of pride that their petite daughter was standing her ground, not backing down one inch. She kept her face expressionless as she watched Max walk to Liz's side, and put his arm around her as she faced Jeff. A sense of déjà vu again pounded through Nancy as she said calmly.

"Jeff, Liz…sit down, BOTH of you."

Both dark heads turned and stared at her. Her husband's eyes wide with shock and her daughter's filling with tears. Nancy put her hands on her hips and glared at them until they complied. Liz walked over to her bed, Max not far behind and sat stiffly on the edge, reaching out to pull Max down beside her. Jeff stalked over to the corner and dragged the chair over and grumbled as he sunk down onto it. Nancy looked back and forth between the two for a few moments and then started to speak. She directed her first question at Max, who's head jerked up in surprise.

"How do you feel about my daughter?"

Max held Liz's mom's eyes and answered truthfully.

"She's my whole world. I love her with all my heart."

Nancy turned away for a second, the tears filling her eyes in response to Max's quiet words. Her baby was in love…her baby was in love. She turned back and stared at the young man who'd stolen Liz's heart while they weren't looking. She watched as Max stroked Liz's back, smiling gently down at her as they waited for her mom to speak. Nancy knew what she was seeing. Love. They loved each other. And while she and Jeff had hoped to have Liz all to themselves for awhile longer, Nancy knew it was already too late. She just had to make her husband see what was right in front of him. Easier said than done. She took another deep breath and looked at Jeff and began to talk.

"Jeff…she's not a little girl anymore. She turned into a woman when we weren't looking. Please don't do what my father did to me. Don't make Liz choose between Max and us…don't…please. She'll always be our daughter nothing will change that. But, look at them. Jeff, they love eachother."

Jeff looked at his wife, seeing that her eyes were filling with tears and he cursed himself. As he raked his hands over his face, he realized how close he'd been to driving his only child away. How could he have been so stupid? He turned to his daughter and for the first time really looked at her. And then really looked at the young man next to her. Nancy was right. They were in love. It seemed to shine out around them like sunlight, and Jeff wondered how he could have missed it. He was a little sad that his baby girl grew up on him so quickly, but he knew that she would be in good hands. He'd make sure of it… He walked over to the bed and put his hand on Liz's shoulder as he said softly.

"I'm sorry baby. I just didn't want my little girl to grow up so soon. I love you."

The tears that had gathered in Liz's eyes spilled over onto her cheeks as she flung herself into her father's arms, hugging him with all her might. Max smiled at the joy on Liz's face, thankful that it'd all turned out well in the end. Max heard Jeff clearing his throat and looked up into Liz's father's eyes as he spoke.

"Max. You take care of her, you hear? And if you hurt my baby… I'll hunt you down like a dog and kill you."

Max swallowed spasmodically as he stared with wide eyes at Jeff Parker and after a couple of tries, managed to croak out.

"Yes, sir."


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

Part III


The next day



Maria jogged around the last corner before her house, her headphones snuggly over her ears, as she sang along to the song playing.

I'm telling you now,
I quit, I quit…
Cause loving you is a job I don't need.
Ain't gonna go to work no more.

I quit I quit…
The situation is vacant for me,
Ain't gonna go to work no more,
Ain't gonna go to work no more…

As she reached the front walk, Maria let her voice fade as she stopped and shook her head, the unwanted thoughts pounding their way through her mind. Thoughts of Michael…thoughts of last night. Maria clenched her jaw as she forced him out of her mind. He'd made his choice…and it wasn't her. And now he thought he'd just make puppy-dog eyes at her and she'd cave. Not this time…not this time. There was NO way she was going to let him wiggle back into her life after the way he just tossed her love aside. Maria swallowed the lump in her throat painfully as she blinked her eyes furiously against the tears that threatened. No! She was DONE crying over Michael. 'Life goes on…' She thought to herself as she walked to the front door and slid her key into the lock. As she walked through the threshold and closed the door behind her, Maria called out.

"Hey…I'm back."

When she didn't receive a reply, Maria walked to her mother's bedroom door and tapped on it as she called again.

"Mom? Mom?"

There was no answer and Maria walked to the window. Her mom's car was still here…oh well, she probably went for a walk or something. Maria let out a loud breath as she walked toward the kitchen, singing softly to herself.

I'm telling you now,
I quit, I quit…
Cause loving you is a job I don't need.
Ain't gonna go to wo…


Maria's voice trailed off as the shock of the scene in front of her eyes turned her brain to mush. Her eyes widened dramatically for a few excruciating moments before her voice came back and she screeched at the top of her lungs, reaching up with her hands to cover her eyes.

"OH MY GOD!! MOM!"

"SHERIFF?!!"

There was a loud crash and a descriptive curse that greeted her ears as her mom and the Sheriff tumbled off the kitchen table, their clothes in disarray. Maria stood rooted to the spot, her eyes covered as she shook her head back and forth. This could NOT be happening! Please GOD, let this NOT be happening. Maria began to mutter under her breath as she kept shaking her head back and forth, her voice steadily rising in volume.

"I am SO going to need therapy. For like years. YEARS! Bring ON the shock treatments, I HAVE to get these mental images OUT of my head! I…I…I…think I've gone BLIND!"

Maria stopped shaking her head as she heard her mother whispering to the Sheriff. She kept her eyes covered as she began to speak, her tone completely relaying the state she was in.

"Mom…um mom…I'm going to give you about a minute to COVER whatever needs to be covered…because when I open my eyes, I don't want to see anything that reminds me of the FACT that I JUST walked in on MY MOTHER having SEX on the freaking KITCHEN TABLE! Do I have to REMIND you that we EAT on that?!! Oh, I think I'm going to SICK! I got a MENTAL picture! EWWW!! And Sheriff, not to be RUDE or anything…but really…JUST PUT IT AWAY! I'm already so going to be SCARRED for life…now, so chop chop, people!"

Maria tried to go temporarily deaf when the rustling started, signaling that her request was being fulfilled. She turned her back to them, just in case they didn't get everything covered in the allotted time. She took several deep breaths and then reached into her pocket for her cypress oil, praying that it would help. She took one deep gulp of the scent and then called out.

"If it ain't covered YET, do it NOW…because I'm turning around."

Maria slowly turned around and counted to ten before she opened her eyes. Her mother and the Sheriff were standing on opposite sides of the table, their eyes downcast refusing to meet Maria's eyes as she began to pace back and forth between them. She stopped first in front of her mother, pausing there, waiting until her mother looked up at her. Maria nodded curtly before walking over to stand in front of the Sheriff. She again waited until he looked up at her a sheepish blush staining his cheeks. If Maria hadn't been so shell-shocked she might have found it amusing. As it was, she began to pace and as she started to talk about ground rules.

"Okay…now! Ground rules…we ALL live by them. They make things ORDERLY and structured…Without GROUND RULES, the world would erupt into CHAOS. Are we clear?"

Maria stopped and looked at the two adults in front of her as she waited for an answer. A stifled giggle came from her mother's direction as the Sheriff just slightly nodded. Maria walked over to her mother as she ticked off her points, using her fingers to punctuate her words.

"Okay, the ground rules. Number one…NO sex on the places that we EAT! This includes the kitchen table, the countertops and for GOD'S sake the appliances! Number two…if you HAVE to do it HERE, you will confine yourselves to a room with a DOOR and a functioning LOCK! Number three…NO panting after 3am! And number four…THERE will be NO hanky-panky that might be observed by UNSUSPECTING daughters who may happen to walk into the house… Well, that's all I can think of off the top of my head…so I'm going to go to my room. TO poke my eyes out with a PENCIL! Okay…and then I'm going to work."

Maria stalked out of the kitchen, still muttering under her breath about parents and little Sheriff Valenti's running around and how she was SO not kidding about needing therapy. A few minutes later her door slammed shut with a resounding crash, blocking out the peals of embarrassed laughter coming from the kitchen.

**At the Crashdown**


Later that day


Maria walked through the doors, pulling on her apron as she spied Liz at the counter. She needed to talk to someone about it, so Maria marched up to her best friend and grabbed her by the arm, pulling her toward the backroom. Liz was startled for a moment until she looked over at Maria's face and just allowed her best friend to pull her along. As soon as the doors swung shut, Maria let go of Liz's arm and began to pace. Liz sat down on the sofa and watched Maria begin to wear a track in the linoleum. When it didn't look like Maria was going to stop anytime soon, Liz asked.

"Maria, what's wrong?"

Maria turned and looked at Liz and began to rant.

"OH MY GOD! Liz! Can I just tell you that I am SO going to need therapy?!! I'm SCARRED for life here…my mother, and the SHERIFF! I…I…I can't TALK about it!"

Liz watched as Maria pulled out her cypress oil and began to inhale deeply. Something was obviously up…something to do with her mom. And the Sheriff? Liz felt a tiny tendril of panic start as her mind began to run through all the possible scenarios. She stomped down on those thoughts before they got started and asked again.

"Maria, what is it? What's wrong with your mom? And WHAT does the Sheriff have to do with it?"

"Liz, I'm a good person, right? I don't treat people badly…well EXCEPT spiky headed MORONS that deserve it…but anyway that's NOT the point. But, I'm a good person right? So then WHY did I have to be subjected to that…THAT…episode of lunacy?! I'm gonna need therapy…lots and LOTS of therapy. And shock treatments…bring ON the shock treatments!"

Maria's voice rose with every statement that frankly left Liz even more confused, as she interrupted.

"Maria, now you're just babbling. What happened?"

"I think I've earned the right to BABBLE! Liz, I walked in on my MOM and the SHERIFF…and the kitchen table…and them…I CAN'T TALK ABOUT IT!"

Liz's mouth hung open as the reality of Maria's words began to sink in. She blinked a couple of times, trying to figure out something to say as a giggle escaped her mouth. Liz covered her mouth with her hand as Maria whipped around and accused.

"You're LAUGHING?! THIS is not FUNNY! I'm probably going to be straddling a couch for the REST of my life, irreparably SCARRED and you're LAUGHING?!!"

Liz kept her mouth covered as she shook with the laughter she was trying to suppress. The outraged look on Maria's face really didn't help the situation either. Liz gave up trying to cover it up as she bent over, clutching her sides as she howled, causing another accusing tirade from Maria.

"I can't BELIEVE you're laughing at ME! I'm your best friend from like the WOMB, and I come here, looking for some sympathy…telling you about the most TRAUMATISING moment of my short life and you're LAUGHING at me! LIZZZ!"

Liz choked back another giggle as she looked up at Maria, wiped her eyes and said guiltily.

"I'm sorry Maria. REALLY. I didn't mean to laugh at you…it's just I had a similar experience last night with my parents."

Now Maria was confused. If Liz had walked in on her parents in much the same way, why had she laughed? So, she asked.

"But, then if you KNOW my pain…WHY were you laughing?"

Liz shook her head back and forth, a blush staining her cheeks as she thought about the circumstances of last night. Her voice wavered a bit as she explained.

"No, I didn't walk in on MY parents…it was just the OPPOSITE…get it?"

"What do you mean opposite? You didn't walk in on your parents…what they walked in on you?… HOLY SHIT! No way! Your parents walked in on YOU and Max?!! What did you DAD do?!! Is Max STILL among the living?!"

"Just barely." Liz giggled again as Maria's eyes bugged out of her head and continued.

"Kidding." Maria started to open her mouth when a shout was heard from the kitchen.

"ORDER UP! Liz, table five!"

Liz smiled at Maria as she left the backroom only after she promised details about last night. Maria stayed and finished getting ready for her shift, pulling her hair back in a ponytail and putting on her antennae. She was smoothing on lip gloss when the doors swung open again. Her attention still on the little mirror in her locker, she called out.

"Liz, I'll be out in a second, okay?" When she didn't get a reply, Maria called again.

"Liz?"

"It's not Liz." At the sound of his voice, Maria went absolutely still. Why now? Why did he have to show up NOW? She slowly turned and stared at Michael, who was standing stiffly by the entrance to the kitchen. She pocketed her lip gloss and reached behind her to slam her locker shut. She breezed past Michael, who reached out a hand to grab Maria's arm, as he spoke.

"Maria, I want to talk to you."

"Sorry…can't... I'm busy." Maria wrenched her arm away from Michael's hand and stalked out of the backroom, seething and muttering to herself.

"He thinks he can just grab me and I'm supposed to just stop and what…DROOL! Someone SAVE me from ego-maniacal alien MALES who think the WORLD revolves around THEM!"

"Excuse me, miss?"

A low voice near her right elbow stopped Maria's ranting as she looked down at the table next to her. And tried not to drool herself. Damn, now THAT was a MAN! Long hair, chiseled features and those eyes…'Somebody grab me a big spoon, I want a nibble!' Maria thought to herself as she pulled out her order pad and with a bright smile asked,

"What can I get you?"

"What's good here? I'm new in town…and I must say that all these alien themed things are a little weird. Don't you think?"

Maria leaned forward, one hand on her hip and drawled.

"Honey…welcome to Roswell…land of the weird and home of the strange."

"Thanks…I think." The man focused on his menu and after a few seconds said.

"I'll have a Will Smith with no mustard or olives and an ice tea with lime."

Maria smiled as she jotted it all down and smiled again as she said.

"Alright…well, I'll be right back with your drink."

Maria breezed through the kitchen doors to grab the beverage when she was grabbed by the arm and pulled into the supply closet. She didn't have a chance to scream as a large hand covered her mouth as she began to struggle. A voice hissed in her ear ceasing her struggles as she went from scared to hopping mad.

"Maria, will you STOP! It's me!"

Michael held Maria's wrists in one hand as he pulled his hand away from her mouth. The tirade started right away.

"WHAT the HELL do you think you're DOING?!!! Get your hands off me!"

Michael shook her briskly as he tried to get her attention. Finally, he had to resort to covering her mouth with his hand, only to be bit for his trouble. He felt the irritation rising as he spoke through gritted teeth.

"Would you JUST listen! And STOP biting me! I just SAVED you…you.. ungrateful little TWIT! That guy's a shapeshifter! Okay, I was just TRYING to keep you SAFE!"

Maria went absolutely still as she stared up at Michael with wide eyes. She wrenched one of Michael's hands away from her mouth as she asked.

"What guy?"

"The one you just took an order from. White hair…that's Rivan. You know the guy we all thought was River Dog…"

Maria couldn't help the screech that poured from her mouth.

"HIM?!! That's Rivan? I was expecting like some scuzzy old man, you know…kinda creepy looking like Nacedo…but him? Yummmy! Break me off a piece of that!"

The dining room screeched to a halt, all the talking stopped and all the patrons and staff turned in the direction of the kitchen as a roar rang out.

"MARIA!!"

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

Part IV


Later that night



"He actually FORBADE me to see Rivan." Maria exclaimed as she finished filling up the sugar jars, and then looked over at Liz who had stopped sweeping to stare at her. They were the only ones left in the Crashdown, closing up for the night. As soon as they had locked the front door, Maria had pounced on Liz and wanted to talk about the scene with Michael earlier. His roar from the back room that had been followed by a few choice statements from Maria on exactly where he could stick his order. The whole restaurant bared witness to Michael storming out and Maria exiting the backroom with an angry flush staining her cheeks.

"He didn't!" Liz's eyes went wide as she remembered the look on Maria's face.

"Oh yeah, he did… Can you believe that?! HE… FORBADE… ME?!! Like I'm supposed to just FALL in line, salute and yell 'Yes, SIR!' because some spiky-headed, Czechoslovakian soldier boy has a caveman COMPLEX!! I don't THINK so!"

Maria picked up her tray and walked around the room returning the sugar jars to the tables as Liz stood there laughing and shaking her head. This had certainly been an INTERESTING couple of days! Liz walked towards the backroom with the broom only to be brought up short by Maria's teasing question.

"So…you promised to tell me about last night. You and Max? The parentals? Details, PLEASE!"

Liz looked back at Maria who had climbed up onto a stool at the counter and was smirking in her general direction as her eyebrows waggled. Liz couldn't help the blush that crept up her neck and bloomed in her cheeks. That just earned her another suggestive waggle of an eyebrow from Maria. She leaned the broom against the counter and settled onto the stool next to Maria. Leaning closer to Maria, Liz dropped her voice and began to describe the events. She mentioned the snaps thing for the briefest of moments and then moved quickly on. As she glossed over the torrid details, she ignored the knowing glint in Maria's eyes. 'Some things were private…even from your best friend.' Liz thought with a tiny smile. As Liz came to the part where her mom stepped in, Maria interrupted her to quip up.

"Way to GO…MOM!"

Liz smiled briefly at the memory and started to continue when a whisper tickled across her mind.

'Liz…'

Just the briefest touch of Max's mind sent Liz's temperature soaring as she inhaled sharply, her eyes already blurring, causing Maria to look at her calculatingly as she whispered silently back.

'Max, where are you?'

'On my way…give me 5 minutes.'

Liz felt the blush creeping back up her neck as she felt Max press a soft mental kiss on the trailing end of their connection. She felt her heart speeding up in anticipation as she took a slow, sighing deep breath and turned her attention back to Maria.

"Why don't aliens JUST call collect?" Maria drawled sarcastically. Liz wrinkled her nose and stuck her tongue out at Maria, who retorted.

"Hey, watch it. You wouldn't want your face to freeze like THAT, would you?"

The girls stuck their tongues out at eachother at the same time before dissolving into a fit of giggles that lasted until the bell on the front door chimed as Max walked in. Liz got up and walked over to Max, her eyes glued to the warm amber of his. The world seemed to slow as the distance between them got smaller and smaller. For several seconds they each just drank in the sight of the other, as if their absence from eachother was of some duration instead of just a couple of hours. Maria watched this silent mating dance with a mixture of amusement and jealousy. Amusement won out after a few brief moments as the couple embrace eachother tightly, their lips meeting in a desperate kiss that proved they'd forgotten anyone else was in the same room with them. 'The same planet even.' Maria thought with a wry smile as she cleared her throat loudly.

No response. Maria tried again, really exaggerating the volume as she stared at the still embracing couple. Still no response. 'No wonder Liz's parents walked in on them, a bomb could blow up next to them and they wouldn't even notice!' Maria thought as she tapped her fingertip against her lips. Maria had an idea, it was mean…but should be highly effective. She cleared her throat again and took a deep breath as she called out loudly.

"Oh! HI! Mr. Parker! What are YOU doing here?"

Liz and Max sprang apart abruptly, Max reaching up his hand quickly to wipe the traces of Liz's lip gloss off his lips as he tried unsuccessfully to look innocent. He stared down at his hands as he concentrated on his breathing waiting for the inevitable lecture he was sure was to come. All he heard was a badly stifled string of giggles that sounded from behind him which caused him to whirl around. Maria was clutching her sides as Liz stalked toward her waggling her fingers menacingly. Maria retreated hastily behind the counter and tried to hold Liz off with a dishtowel. She kept trying to speak, her giggling causing her to wheeze breathlessly. Max watched as Liz cornered Maria and began to tickle her. Maria's shrieking laughter cause his lips to curl at the corners until a wide grin stretched across his face.

"LIZZIE! Come on! NO fair!"

"No fair? NO FAIR? You nearly gave me a heart attack with that little stunt you pulled. And what about Max?! Just because my dad accepted us as a couple, DOES NOT mean that I want him to see us MAKING OUT!"

Maria took a deep breath as Liz stopped tickling her, wiping her palm across her now mascara-smeared eyes. She looked at her best friend who was still glaring daggers at her. Turnabout is fair play! Maria smiled smugly as she looked from Liz to Max, who was standing silently over by one of the booths and drawled.

"I HAD to do something. You guys were about to MELT the wax on the floors."

Max had the decency to blush in a furious burst of color that had Maria giggling again as she quipped up sarcastically.

"So Max…what's this I hear about snaps? Hmmm? Kinky."

It earned her another glare from Liz as Max blushed an even deeper crimson as he pushed his hands into his pockets and stared at the suddenly fascinating linoleum. But even the embarrassment he felt because Liz had obviously told Maria about last night faded as the memory of the events had a smile tugging at his lips again. The smile turned into a full-fledged grin as he looked up at Maria and Liz. The girls couldn't help the answering smiles that came to their faces.

Liz walked over to Max and trailed her fingers down his arm as she whispered.

"I'll be up in like 10 minutes. I just have to finish a couple of things."

Max nodded and leaned forward as he brushed a teasing kiss across Liz's lips. He walked quietly out the front door, disappearing around the side of the building. Liz stood there for a moment with a dreamy smile on her face, her fingertips touching her lips where the imprint of Max's lips burned. Maria rolled her eyes as she picked up the abandoned dishtowel on the counter and took aim.

Liz snapped out of her reverie as the soft towel hit her right between the eyes, and then fell to the floor. She blinked a couple of times and turned to Maria who was trying valiantly to control her laughter at the sight of the confused look on Liz's face. Liz straightened her shoulders and arched an eyebrow at Maria before asking.

"Do I have to tickle you again? Or are you going to behave?"

Maria rolled her eyes upward and began whistling as she rocked back and forth, an exaggerated innocent look on her face. Liz couldn't help laughing at her best friend's antics as she picked up the broom again and returned it to the storage closet. As she walked out into the dining room, Liz saw Maria leaning against the counter, her chin propped up on her hands, staring into space.

"Daydreaming, I see? Hmmm? Michael, Rivan or Brad Pitt?"

Maria looked up at Liz, and laughed as she swiped the sponge over the countertop. She'd actually been thinking about maybe getting a place of her own. Then she wouldn't have to worry about walking in on her mom EVER again. Maria stared at Liz for a few moments before deciding to take the plunge.

"Hey, Liz? Have you ever thought about maybe moving out and getting a place of your own."

"Sure, sometimes… But even with the money I make here, I couldn't afford a place by myself. Why?"

Maria walked over to Liz and nervously picked at her uniform as she asked.

"What would you think about us maybe getting a place together?"

"You and me? How long have you been thinking about this?" Liz watched as Maria fidgeted around.

"To be honest, ever since I walked in on my mom RELIVING her free-loving hippie teenage years. Come on Liz, it'd be great. No curfew, no parents, independence…doesn't that sound perfect? Please…I mean you wouldn't have to worry about your parents walking in on you and Max, you guys could get as sappy as you wanted. And I could finally get some privacy. We could find a cute two bedroom…something not too fancy that we could afford. Well, what do you think?"

Liz's eyes had gotten wider with every word out of Maria's mouth as she began to contemplate the benefits of having a place of her own. Max wouldn't have to sneak into her window all the time. They could be alone… Liz's cheeks began to flush again as her imagination ran rampant with the possibilities. Liz looked over at Maria, who was waiting for her answer with a hopeful expression on her face, as she took a deep breath and said.

"Okay. Let's do it." Liz giggled as the screech erupted from Maria's mouth right before she launched herself at Liz. The girls began jumping up and down in glee as the excitement overwhelmed them. Liz glanced at the clock, and noted that 10 minutes had past. She turned to Maria and raised her eyebrows as she asked.

"Maria, could you finish up for me?"

"Sure, chica. Go ahead, Max is waiting."

"Thanks Maria…you're the best."

Maria laughed as she tossed her head, her eyebrows waggling as she retorted.

"Just REMEMBER that when you're helping me shop for an outfit to wear on my date with Rivan."

Liz's jaw dropped and her eyes widened for several seconds before she managed to squeak out.

"You DIDN'T! You didn't ACTUALLY ask him out did you?!"

"Of course I did. How else was I supposed to teach Michael a lesson? And besides that…Rivan just proves the theory that I've had for awhile now. Alien guys are HOT! It's my PLEASURE, really."

"Maria, you're my best friend and I love you to pieces, but…maybe Michael is right. I mean what do we really know about Rivan."

"I CAN'T believe you're going to take Michael's side! Well, I guess the fact that he helped us, and SAVED Tess' life doesn't count for anything, does it?"

Maria glared at Liz with her hands panted firmly on her hips as she waited for Liz's response.

"Of course it counts. But, Maria…I'm just concerned. I trust you, and I know you can take care of yourself. Just, please be careful. Promise me?"

Maria arched an eyebrow and grinned as she answered.

"Promise. Now, get going before his highness blows a fuse from the tension. And chica, don't do ANYTHING I would do! Remember what happened last time?"

Liz shook her head as she waved goodbye to her best friend as she walked quickly through the restaurant and up the back stairs toward her room. 'There was going to be trouble.' Liz thought. She just KNEW it. She paused at her bedroom door and listened for a moment, making sure her parents had both gone to bed. She entered her room quickly and walked over to the window. Liz peeked out at Max who was sitting with his back to her on the chaise lounge. She called out softly to him.

"Sorry…Maria needed to talk to me about something."

Max stood up and turned, staring at Liz who was climbing slowly through the window. He was struck again by her beauty and how it seemed to shine out all around her. She was perfect to him. He stood still as Liz walked over him and whispered with a soft smile.

"Hi."

Max reached out a hand and played with the ends of Liz's hair as he leaned toward her and whispered back.

"Hi yourself."

They got caught up in eachother's eyes as they traveled the last couple of inches, their mouths brushing lightly. Max licked along the edge of Liz's upper lip, drawing a sigh from her that allowed him to deepen the welcoming kiss, as he teased her tongue with his. Liz flung open their connection as she tangled her tongue with Max's, moaning in the back of her throat with pleasure.

'Max… God, I love kissing you. But my parents…'

The rest of Liz's words were cut off as Max clutched her hips and brought her flush up against him, letting her feel how she was affecting him. How she always affected him. Max ran his hands from Liz's hips, up her back to tilt her head back as he nipped his way down her neck. Max knew Liz was right, her parents could walk in at any second, and he knew he was still treading on thin ice with Liz's dad. Just because Mr. Parker had accepted him as part of Liz's life, did not mean he was okay with Max mauling his daughter. But he couldn't seem to stop kissing her. Touching her… Max desperately reached for their connection again as he pulled away, stumbling back a few steps gasping for breath.

'Liz, go over there. I can't think when you're touching me. Please, Liz…'

Liz complied and walked over to the chair next to the window, sat down and waited while Max took a seat on the chaise lounge again facing her. He laced his shaking hands tightly together and tried to calm down as Liz said his name, causing his head to jerk up.

"Max. I have some news."

The worried frown that appeared in response to her words was expected as Liz smiled and pressed on.

"Don't worry, it's good news. Maria and I are going to move out. We're going to look at apartment listings tomorrow. Do you want to come?"

Max's mind went blank right around the word 'apartment' as his imagination went wild with the possibilities. Liz. Alone with Liz. No parents, not having to worry about someone walking in on them. No more sneaking in and out of windows, he could stay the night… The heat started climbing in his body again as Max felt his eyes crossing in response to the direction that his thoughts were heading. He was shaken out of his thoughts by Liz's voice.

"Max? Max? Did you hear me?"

"I heard you Liz. I was just thinking. Sure, I'll go with you and Maria tomorrow, if you want me to. Wow, you guys must be excited…moving out. Do you think your parents will freak out?"

Liz chewed on her lip as she thought about Max's question. Her parents. Oh, boy…she was SURE her father would freak…but hopefully her mom would go along with it. After all, she was moving in with Maria, not Max.

"It'll be okay. They love Maria…besides, it had to happen sometime."

Max started to say something when Nancy Parker, wrapped in a fuzzy robe, poked her head out of Liz's bedroom window and called out.

"Liz, honey…it's getting late. Don't you have the morning shift tomorrow? Hi, Max."

"Yeah mom, we were just saying good-night. I'll be just a second."

Nancy smiled at the two and turned around, walking out of Liz's room. Liz turned back to Max and grinned at the sight of the disappointed expression on his face. She walked over and sat down beside him on the lounge. She stared into his eyes and leaned over, and brushed a kiss across his cheek as she whispered.

"Goodnight, Max. Sweet dreams."

Max answered her caress with one of his own as he lifted Liz's hand and pressed a fervent kiss to her palm, his tongue darting out briefly to tease her. Her swift intake of breath pleased him as he slowly got up from the lounge and walked over to the ladder. As he swung over the ledge of the wall and clutched the first wrung, he called out to Liz.

"I love you." And then disappeared over the side.

As Max's feet hit the ground, he heard Liz's window sliding shut. He turned toward the street and shoved his hands into his pockets against the evening chill, whistling as he walked towards the jeep. Max drove through downtown, the town silent in the dark, the streets deserted except for a lone figure. Max slowed the jeep as he passed the person, stopping completely as he recognized Rivan. He stopped the vehicle and jumped out of the jeep, walking quickly over to the shapeshifter, who was standing stiffly watching his movements. Max approached Rivan slowly, keeping his eyes steady on him. Stopping a few feet from him, Max spoke quietly.

"We never got the chance to thank you for helping Tess. We would have lost her without you. Thank you."

Rivan nodded at Max in acknowledgement before responding.

"Your welcome."

Max looked into Rivan's eyes, noticing for the first time the strange, glowing silver. Like the light that the orbs gave off when they played their message. Familiar. Alien. Before he could lose his nerve, Max blurted out a question.

"Rivan, when Tess woke up…she had a vision. We found a book in the base of the Granolith. It has a symbol on the back page of the whirlwind galaxy with two stars within it and three groupings of two stars around it in a triangle shape. Does that mean anything to you?"

All the color had drained from Rivan's face as Max's words swept over him. It couldn't be. They had planned everything so perfectly. It just couldn't be. He was pulled from his thoughts by the touch of Max's hand on his arm. Rivan backed away from him as he mumbled.

"No, it can't be. It's not time, you're not ready. It wasn't meant to happen this way. The prophecy…"

His last words barely a whisper as Max watched with wide eyes as Rivan faded before his eyes and finally disappeared without another sound. Max shuddered as he climbed back into the jeep, suddenly feeling very exposed as his jumbled thoughts ran wild. He stared up at the stars as he started the engine, the V-constellation glowing almost mockingly at him. One thought pounded through his mind as he drove the rest of the way home and all through the night.

What prophecy?
Part V


The next day


"I think this is the ONE!" Maria exclaimed excitedly, staring up at the building in front of them. Liz sighed and wished that Max was still with them. He'd been able to see only a few of the apartments they'd found before he had to go to work. Brushing her hair away from her face, Liz glanced over at her best friend and then again at the building before she asked dubiously.

"Are you SURE?" Liz arched an eyebrow at Maria as she waved her hand at the building, speaking again.

"Maria, LOOK at this place!"

"I am looking at it! I'm also looking at the list we made, and this is the LAST apartment on it that we can AFFORD! This HAS to be it. Just keep an open mind…" Maria trailed off, staring at the peeling paint and badly cracked stucco before adding in a whisper.

"And pray."

The two girls approached the building a little warily, wandering into the courtyard towards the manager's office. Stopping for a moment before ringing the bell, Liz turned to Maria and asked again.

"Maria, are you SURE that you want to do this?"

Maria pulled out her cypress oil and took a deep breath of the soothing smell before answering weakly.

"Absolutely." And then nodded at Liz, who pressed the doorbell briskly. The door opened almost immediately and the girls were greeted with the sight of a very tall, very beautiful black woman who inquired with a warm smile.

"What can I do for you?"

Maria and Liz looked briefly at eachother before they answered in unison.

"We're here about the apartment for rent."



**At the Crashdown**


One week later


"So anyway…it's REALLY cute! Two bedrooms and in a couple of days it's all OURS!" Maria was practically bubbling with excitement as she described the apartment she and Liz had found to Kyle, Tess and Alex. They were waiting for Max and Isabel to arrive so they could also tell them the news. Liz had wanted to call Michael too, but Maria had insisted that she didn't want him there. Liz had decided to leave well enough alone, and let the subject drop without further comment. She watched with the others as Maria began to gesture wildly with her hands, blurting out details in babbling commentary, her excitement contagious.

Alex looked at Maria, an indulgent smile on his face as he questioned.

"So, is there going to be room on your couch for me? My dad is driving me CRAZY…I swear if I hear the words, 'Be ALL you can be, son' one more time, I'm gonna go postal. Why can't he just accept that I'm NOT going to join the Army. I mean really could you see ME in the ARMY?!"

Maria patted Alex on the head as she sat on his knee and laid a smacking comical kiss on his cheek before answering.

"Personally, I think you would look awfully cute in fatigues. Nope, it's girls only. Well, mostly…Sorry." She amended as she looked over at Liz, who was getting drinks for everyone.

Tess giggled at the look on Alex's face before turning to Kyle and whispering something in his ear. Alex had worked up a sarcastic retort in response to Maria's teasing when a low, sultry voice that he knew very well, called out.

"Hey, blondie…keep your hands to yourself and OFF my man. Or you might lose them!"

Maria laughed and got up quickly, turning to Alex and wagging her finger at him as she said between giggles.

"Oooh, I'm scared! And you're in TROUBLE!" And went to help Liz at the counter, passing Max with a smile on the way. Kyle and Tess joined her and the friends stood back and waited for the fireworks to start, their eyes glued to Isabel as she approached Alex.

Alex stood up and greeted his girlfriend with a warm smile, pulling her into his arms. He kissed her cheek and pulled back to stare into her eyes, noting her arched eyebrow and narrowed eyes. He widened his eyes, quickly plastering an innocent expression on his face when she asked quietly.

"And just what were you doing with Maria sitting on your lap?"

"Well, technically she was sitting on my leg." Alex quipped back before yelping in surprise as Isabel reached around suddenly and pinched his butt. Hard. She leaned closer and her breath teased him, whispering in his ear.

"Let's get something straight, shall we. SHE doesn't get to touch you. You're MINE, remember that."

Alex flushed a nice beet red as he felt his body hardening in response to Isabel's possessive tone. He couldn't help the surge of pride that she was basically staking her claim on him. And the lust that followed caused Alex's eyes to cross as he battled to remain in control, the thought that their friends and Isabel's brother were only a few feet away helping immensely. Isabel smiled a little triumphantly as she felt Alex stiffen uncomfortably, his eyes darting to the side. Where everyone was watching the two of them with varying expressions of amusement. Isabel gave his ass another swift pinch before pulling out of Alex's arms and walking coolly over to the counter, demanding a drink.

Alex took a moment to collect himself before joining the rest of the group, thankful that his wardrobe consisted still of mainly tee-shirts and baggy jeans. Although Isabel had been trying to drag him to the mall with her lately, determined to bring some style into his life. Alex was glad that she hadn't gotten the opportunity yet, based on the current situation he was in. Lusting after his girlfriend with the obvious evidence to show for it and her brother not 20 feet away. A brother with alien powers no less. Alex gulped slowly, trying to remove the dry lump that had suddenly appeared in his throat as he tried to divert everyone's attention away from him. Raising his glass of orange soda he inclined his head and said.

"Here's to Liz and Maria. Congrats on the apartment."

The others all raised their glasses in agreement as Liz and Maria laughed, the smiles stretching widely across their faces. The bell on the door jingled, causing everyone to turn toward it as Michael walked into the restaurant. His eyes found Maria first, his jaw clenching in frustration as she turned away from him. He had forgotten his jacket and came back to get it, hoping that Maria would be there, so maybe he could talk to her. She'd been ignoring him, not returning his calls and it was slowly driving him nuts. Why wouldn't she just talk to him? She'd even got mad at him when he tried to warn her about Rivan and then had the audacity to ask the shapeshifter out, RIGHT in front of him. Michael gritted his teeth, realizing that he'd walked in on a celebration of sorts. One he hadn't been invited to. Even his tough façade couldn't cover up the hurt expression on his face. Liz noticed right away and called out to him.

"Hi, Michael. Want to join us?"

Michael looked at the petite girl who'd stolen his best friend's heart and couldn't help the smile that slowly turned his lips up. Max was one lucky guy. Michael gave a slight nod as his only affirmation before walking slowly over to the counter to join everyone. Max was quick to slap Michael on the back in welcome, handing him a glass of cherry coke and a bottle of Tabasco. He looked over at Isabel and asked with an inquiring eyebrow lifted.

"So what are we celebrating? Did Max finally get some?" Michael stopped talking for a second while he rubbed his arm that stung from the sharp slap he received from Tess in response. He couldn't help but chuckle at the sight of Max and Liz's embarrassed flushes as he went on.

"Kidding. But really, what's up?"

He stared at Maria while waiting for an answer. She wouldn't even meet his eyes. Michael felt another pang of frustration as he silently willed her to look up at him. After a brief moment it seemed that his wish was granted as Maria locked eyes with him for the barest second. Just long enough for Michael to see a glimpse of tears in her bright green eyes. Maria pushed her stool back from the counter, mumbling something about getting more Tabasco from the back, and blindly rushed through the swinging doors. Michael was stunned. Just being there, he'd caused Maria pain. Without saying a word to her, he'd managed to make her cry. A heavy weight seemed to settle on his chest, making it suddenly hard to breathe as he continued to stare at the empty stool, Maria had just vacated. Michael looked back at the others as Alex spoke up.

"Hey, Michael did you hear me? I said that we were celebrating because Liz and Maria found an apartment."

Michael glanced at Alex and nodded slightly, before walking toward the backroom, his steps slow and halting. He began to wrack his brain, trying to think of what he should say to Maria. He pushed through the doors, and stopped. And stared. Maria was sitting on the sofa, staring blankly ahead, as tears dripped down her cheeks. He couldn't describe the wave of pain that swept over his entire body at the sight of Maria weeping. He did this. He caused this. His heart dropped when she looked up at him, the pain in her eyes branding him, burning him from across the room. He did this. Michael shook his head and closed his eyes, trying to block out the truth before him. He backed away, turning quickly and rushing out into the dining room. Six pairs of eyes stared at him for a moment before he mumbled a quick goodbye and bolted, slamming the front doors closed behind him.

Alex turned to the others, who were still sitting there with dumbfounded expressions on their faces, as he asked.

"What just happened?"

There were a few baffled shrugs and raised eyebrows in response. Liz stood up quickly and walked into the backroom, determined to find out. She rushed to Maria's side, gently enfolding the small girl in her arms. Maria's slight shoulders shook as she sobbed, soaking the front of Liz sweater. Liz began to rock her best friend, murmuring to her, trying to soothe. Maria quieted gradually, her sobs turning to hiccupping sighs as she pushed away from Liz, reaching up to swipe her hands across her eyes. Liz squeezed her hand and questioned.

"Maria, are you okay?"

Maria looked directly into her best friend's eyes, a watery smile tracing her lips as she replied in a whisper.

"No. But, I will be."






posted on 2-Sep-2001 4:41:53 PM
**Liz and Maria's Apartment**


Four days later


"Liz honey, remember to use both deadbolts and the chain." Jeff Parker told his daughter as he handed her the keys to the new locks he'd installed in the apartment. Liz smiled at her father before turning slightly away to roll her eyes skyward, an action that Maria echoed, stifling a stream of giggles behind her hand.

Liz pocketed the keys and walked out the front door of the apartment, thinking about the day she and Maria had told their respective parents that they were moving out. They had gone straight home from seeing that last apartment to break the news. Her father had hit the roof, just as she had expected. But her mom had come through yet again, calming her father down and for that Liz had been extremely grateful. But, even her mother couldn't stop her dad from going into over-protective mode, demanding to check out the apartment BEFORE they signed the lease. Liz had to laugh as she remembered her dad's walk through with the apartment manager, Rochelle.

Rochelle had been at a total loss, faced with a demanding father who was very protective of his only daughter, and determined to scrutinize every aspect of the apartment before giving his okay. But she'd been a good sport about it all when Jeff began talking about security systems and deadbolts and the crazies in the world, while marching from room to room clucking about tiny details. Liz had wisely stood back and let her father steam-roll his way through his various lectures and advice. But, in the end, Jeff got everything he wanted.

He installed new deadbolts on the front door, added a security chain, replaced all the locks on the interior doors and all the windows, and programmed the speed-dials on all the phones. When he was finished with that, he dragged Nancy along with him to all the rummage sales and antique stores in Roswell and the surrounding towns, searching for furniture and drapes, convinced that Liz and Maria were going to freeze to death or that they would be sleeping on the floor. Nancy managed to curtail Jeff enough to get the girls just a few pieces of furniture and a set of dishes. She knew that Maria and Liz wanted to decorate the apartment themselves.

Liz shook her head to clear her thoughts. And strolled down the last short flight of stairs into the courtyard of the apartment building. She could hear the good-natured fighting and bantering of the others coming from the parking lot. She walked quickly in that direction, and smiled as she saw her mother getting out of the moving van. Liz ran over and gave her mother a quick hug, and then pulled back, a wide smile across her lips. Nancy looked at her daughter noticing the happiness radiating out of her like a strobe light. She teased gently.

"Is your father still up there?"

Liz rolled her eyes and nodded, answering.

"Yes, and he's STILL checking the locks. Mom, please…take him somewhere. Go get snacks or something, he's driving me NUTS! I may have to HURT him!"

Nancy hid a smile behind her hand, coughing to cover it up. Then she turned toward the moving van, and called out to Kyle, Max, and Alex.

"Hey guys? Jeff and I are going to go get lunch for everyone. What sounds good?"

"Pizza!"

"Subs!"

"Pizza's good."

Liz laughed as all the guys answered together. Max and Alex voting for pizza and Kyle cheering for subs like they were going out of style. She watched as a comical expression crossed her mother's face, causing Liz to question.

"What is it, Mom?"

"I just realized how glad I am that we had a girl." Nancy replied with a wry smile, waving at the guys before walking back toward the stairs, Liz's laughter following her. Nancy passed Maria in the hallway outside their apartment, and stopped to greet her.

"Hi, Maria. Is your mom coming?"

"Hi, Mrs. Parker. Yeah, she'll be here later…hopefully." Maria replied before adding under her breath.

"That's if she's not off somewhere, defiling another innocent piece of furniture with the Sheriff."

"What? I didn't quite catch that? What did you say?" Nancy inquired.

"Nothing…nevermind. So…you're here to rescue Lizzie and me from the clutches of Mr. Parker, right? I mean…REALLY, I love your husband to death. But, he's on my LAST nerve with the whole over-protective dad routine. And Liz is about 3 seconds from killing him."

"I know, I talked to Liz downstairs. I'm going to take Jeff with me to get lunch for everyone to give you girls a break. How does pizza sound?" Nancy asked with a smile.

Maria giggled and impulsively threw her arms around Nancy, squeezing her into a quick hug as she spoke.

"Oh, thank you…thank you! Pizza's cool with me. Can you get a veggie pizza with extra mushrooms? Oh…and a couple bottles of Tabasco. The guys really like their pizza spicy."

Nancy's eyebrows met at her hairline at the mention of that particular culinary combination.

"Tabasco? On Pizza?! That just sounds disgusting."

"Tell me about it. What can I say? They're manly men." Maria retorted sarcastically with a raised eyebrow and a grin.

Nancy covered her mouth, stifling the giggle that escaped as Jeff poked his head out of the girls' apartment and asked.

"What's the manager's phone number? The water pressure in the shower is not what should be."

Maria looked at Liz's mom, clenching her jaw and rolling her eyes skyward as she let out a huge sigh of aggravation. Nancy bit her lip to keep from laughing as she walked to the door and grabbed her husband's arm, pulling him into the hallway as she announced.

"Jeff, you and I are going to get lunch for everyone…so let's go."

"But, the shower…" Jeff started before Nancy interrupted him.

"Will still be there when we get back. Now, the vote's pretty much for pizza, although Kyle wants a sandwich, so I'm thinking Pellidrino's."

"Okay, fine. I'll call after lunch." Jeff replied as his wife propelled him down the hall toward the stairs, Maria's giggles following them down the steps.

Maria walked back into the apartment, closing the door softly behind her. She stopped in the middle of the living room and turned slowly to the right and then to the left as she took in her new living quarters. Liz found her there a few short moments later, leading the guys in, who were laden down with suitcases and boxes. Kyle dropped the box in his arms on the floor and arched his back asking.

"What the hell is in there? Rocks?" He turned the printed side towards him and after he read it said incredulously.

"BATH PRODUCTS! How many bath products do you NEED?! Holy Buddha, that thing weighs a TON!" Kyle looked up as he reached one hand up to massage his neck. They were all staring at him.

"What?" He questioned, turning and walking into the kitchen. Kyle pulled open the refrigerator door and grabbed a soda, while calling over his shoulder.

"Hey, anyone want a soda?" When he didn't receive an answer, Kyle turned back to the group. They were still staring at him, with odd expressions on their faces.

"What?" He asked again, looking from face to face in bewilderment. Max spoke up finally in a very quiet voice, a smile tugging at his lips.

"Did you just say Holy Buddha?"

"Yeah. So?" Kyle replied with raised eyebrows as he watched Max turn back to the group and state matter-of-factly.

"We heard right. He did say Holy Buddha."

"What's the big deal?" Kyle was getting a little irritated and he was beginning to suspect that his friends were poking fun at him. Or else it was Invasion of the Body Snatchers all over again. Kyle found himself really hoping for the latter. But, before he could say anything else on the subject, there was a brisk knock at the door just moments before Isabel and Tess strolled in, Amy DeLuca and his dad in tow.

Kyle's train of thought immediately swerved and headed south as he watched Tess walk towards him. Everything around him seemed to blur, going into slow motion. His mind was filled with the little details- the way her hair caught the sunlight, the bright endless blue of her eyes, the small dimple in her left cheek as she smiled warmly at him, her soft husky voice as she said,

"Hi, Buddha boy."

Kyle stiffened, hearing the snorts and giggles behind him. He turned and glared at the others, who suddenly found the bare walls awfully interesting. He clenched his jaw and was going to retort but his attention was diverted. Tess wrapped an arm around his waist as she leaned in and brushed a kiss across his cheek. They stared into eachother's eyes, getting lost for several minutes, until a sarcastic comment pulled them abruptly out of the moment.

"Geez, will you look at those two? They're getting as bad as Max and Liz."

Kyle turned and leveled a withering stare at Maria as he ground out between clenched teeth.

"Bite me."

Maria tucked her tongue firmly in her cheek, planted her hands on her hips and quipped back.

"And here I thought Buddhism was all about chanting, well THAT and weird proverbs…gee, I guess I was wrong. It's got biting too…hmmm, there's nothing wrong with a little KINK. But, I think you should get Tess to bite you…"

Maria's teasing was interrupted by Kyle, who yelled over the laughter that filled the room in response to Maria's words.

"SHUT UP!"

Tess bit her lip to keep from laughing, opening her eyes wide when Kyle whipped around and stared intently at her. 'Must not laugh. Must NOT laugh.' She chanted silently while she focused on keeping a straight face. Kyle raked his hands through his hair, clearly agitated, and began to mutter under his breath.

"What is this? Pick on Kyle day? Can we get back to the reason that we're all here?"

Liz took pity on him, and nodded as she turned to the others in the group, who were still chuckling, saying.

"Okay, you guys that's enough. Let's stop teasing Kyle and get to work. My parents should be back with the food in about an hour, so let's try to get as much done as we can before they get here. Maria, Amy you're on kitchen duty. Alex and Kyle, you help Sheriff Valenti bring up more boxes. Isabel and Tess if you could work on the linen closets and the bathroom, that'd be great. Max…you can help me."

"Big surprise there." Kyle said sarcastically, ignoring the narrowed-eyed glare that Liz shot his way. Alex pounded him on the back, grinning from ear to ear as the two walked out the front door, with the Sheriff trailing behind.

Maria grinned at Liz and waggled her eyebrows suggestively as she picked up a box labeled kitchen and set it on the table the guy's had already brought in. Her mom followed suit and they dove into organizing the kitchen. Isabel and Tess had Max drag all the boxes labeled linens/bath down the hall for them and they got to work as well. There was a hum of activity that invaded every corner of the rapidly filling apartment. Liz picked up a box of her things and walked toward her room, nudging the door open with her toe. She set the box down in front of the closet, turned around and gave a tiny, startled squeak.

Max stood in the doorway of her new bedroom, his eyes darkening as he traveled the length of her body with his eyes. Liz felt that burning caress sweep through her as she swayed on her feet and clasped her hands together behind her back. If she could just get through the next few minutes without touching him…tasting him… Liz watched warily as Max pushed the door closed with his powers, melting the lock with one swipe of his hand. He walked over to Liz, a small smile gracing his full lips as he said.

"So…what can I help you with?" Just that dark, seductive tone in his voice was enough to send Liz reeling. It took every ounce of her willpower to stay where she was, when her body was screaming at her to swallow him whole…in one big gulp. Liz smiled weakly, trying to focus enough to have a single thought that didn't include ripping Max's clothes off. She was in trouble. Deep trouble. Liz inhaled slowly and then murmured.

"You…you can help me set up my…my…bed." It seemed like a good idea in her mind, but as soon as the words floated from her lips, Liz groaned in frustration and refused to look at Max. She missed the grin that stretched across his lips and the narrowed, calculating look in his eyes as he slowly stepped forward, crowding Liz. She instinctually backed away in response to every step he took. But, still she refused to look at him, her face flushing and her body heating. Max kept crowding her, stalking her…until she felt her back press up against the wall, her eyes drawn up to Max's. The wild amber fire burned her as it always did, melting her defenses until she felt the flames overtake her. As she burned under his gaze, he drowned in the endless deep of hers. They were both lost. Utterly lost in a passionate haze that blurred the edges of reality and called out to them, a primal echo that would not be denied.

And so they answered its call. Max traced his finger across Liz's lips, dipping into her warm mouth, while he trailed light nipping kisses down her neck. He licked along the thin strap of her tank top, teasing her…arousing her. His fingers reached between them and pulled the strap down, exposing her bare shoulder to his kisses and his touch. Liz clutched at the sleek strands of Max's hair trying to anchor her self to the ground while he did everything in his power to make her fly away in a storm of pleasure. She arched her neck back, moaning as Max kissed his way across her chest, just grazing the tops of her sensitive breasts. Max heard her helpless sounds of pleasure and felt a thrill speed through him as he connected with Liz.

He was immediately bombarded with a flurry of intense emotions. Love, desire, need, pleasure, fear… Max gasped, his lips leaving Liz's skin as he pulled back and silently asked.

'Liz, what are you afraid of?'

'Max…'

'Liz, answer me. What are you afraid of?'

'Max, what if someone walks in?'

'No one's going to walk in. I melted the door shut. We're all alone.'

'Max, please…'

'Anything…'

'Don't stop…'

'Liz…'
**In the living room**


"I give it another 10 minutes." Kyle stated as he looked in the direction of Liz's room. Isabel arched an eyebrow at his assessment and walked to the door in question. She turned the knob slowly back and forth quietly. It wouldn't budge. She focused on the molecules of the doorknob for a few moments before releasing it with a chuckle. She breezed back into the living room and faced the waiting group. Isabel winked at Alex and drawled.

"Max melted the door shut. It's going to take a blow torch and a crow bar…not to mention several gallons of ice water, to get those two out of there now."

"For Max's sake, I hope you're wrong. If he and Liz are still in there when Jeff and Nancy get back, there's going to be one less alien king on this planet." Sheriff Valenti called from the kitchen, where he was slicing up vegetables for a salad. Amy had left a short while before to get the big glass bowl from her car.

Five heads swiveled towards the kitchen as the young people realized that they had an audience. Kyle felt his face flush as he stammered.

"Uh, dad…you know we were just kidding, right? Max and Liz are probably just talking… or something."

Jim Valenti stared at his son, one corner of his mouth quirking up as he retorted.

"Kyle. I DO remember what it's like to be young. Not to mention…in love. I'm NOT going senile…yet. So quit digging a hole, you're gonna fall in. And Tess…"

Jim trailed off as she turned towards him, giving him her attention before she asked.

"What?"

"You're not going to date until you're thirty. And you are NEVER going to have sex. Are we clear?"

Tess nearly choked on the sip of soda she was taking. She mutely nodded and then turned to Kyle, who was desperately trying to look as innocent as possible. His face began to rapidly turn red as he refused to look at Tess or his father. His dad, oblivious to this, called out.

"Kyle?"

"Yeah, dad?"

"Use protection."


***

'Liz…'

Max felt a shudder run through his body in response to her silently whispered words. Her need calling out to him through their connection that grew stronger with each passing day. He could feel all her love, her passion, and desire for him pouring through every cell in his body. And felt his feelings reflected back to her. Max leaned forward, resting his forehead on Liz's as he stared deeply into her deep brown eyes, his breaths unconsciously slowing to match hers. The stillness of the moment seemed to stretch out over years, crossing time like a messenger. Their hearts beating in time, their breaths pulling in and then pushing out, while their souls met in the embrace of their eyes. Max turned his head and rested his cheek against her temple, while his hands drifted delicately down Liz's back. He rubbed soft circles over her, tracing the line of her spine, the heat from his hands seeping through her. As his fingertips trailed along the hem of her tank top, his lips were moving slowly across Liz's face, stopping to press kisses against her eyelids, her cheeks and jaw.

Liz arched her neck into Max's sweet kisses, gasping and then moaning when he grazed an especially sensitive spot on her neck. Her eyes were half-closed as she untangled her fingers from his hair and brushed them down his neck, trailed them down over his shoulders and arms and clutched at his waist. A swift intake of breath from him answered her ministrations while she grabbed handfuls of his t-shirt and tugged on it and whispered silently to him.

'Max, lift your arms.'

'Lift my arms? Why, what's wrong?'

'Nothing's wrong. I want to…touch you…see you… You're wearing too many clothes…take your shirt off.'

Max's choked as her words penetrated his fuzzy brain. She wanted to touch him. Bare skin to bare skin. He took a step back and tore his shirt over his head, tossing it to the side. A small gasp greeted him as he turned his attention back to Liz, who reached out a trembling hand to stroke his chest. Her cool fingers shooting fire in every direction from the small amount of his skin that she was touching. He pulled her into his arms again, goose bumps breaking out all over him in response to the feel of her softness pressed up against him. Max kissed his way across her shoulder, his tongue darting out to tease the hollow of her throat as he traveled the length of her neck with his lips. Nibbling his way across her cheek, he leaned back to stare into the endless depths of her eyes a moment before settling his mouth over hers.

Their kiss started out slow, just the cool brushing of lips, searching and then answering. Max traced his tongue across the seam of her lips, coaxing her to open to the thrust of his tongue, silently adding.

'I'm not the only one that's wearing too many clothes. I want to see you. Touch you…taste you.'

'Max…'

Liz moaned as his thoughts teased through her mind, the images of her own fantasies seeming to dance behind her eyelids. She tried to concentrate long enough to push the errant thoughts into the background, praying that Max wouldn't see them. Desperately hoping that he would. Her thoughts flew to pieces with the plunging of Max's tongue into her mouth to tangle methodically with hers. Liz whimpered helplessly as he continued to drive her mad with hot, wet kisses. She moaned in panting gasps for breaths while his lips left hers to nip their way down her neck to her collarbone. Max laved his reverence for the petite girl in his arms across her soft skin, pausing briefly to lick the moisture collecting at the base of her throat, tasting the salt of her desire on his tongue. Max pulled back to stare at Liz, his beloved. His soul mate, his destiny…his everything wrapped up in the small body in his arms. He murmured to her, slipping the straps of her top slowly down farther.

'Liz, look at me.'

Liz wrestled with the weight of her passion and tried to lift her eyes to meet those of her soul mate. Her drowsy gaze crashed with his, deep brown meeting amber in a silent mating dance. Max choked on a deep breath as the depth of their connection opened Liz's mind to his with increasing clarity. He saw… God, what he saw nearly sent him to his knees. Liz… And what she wanted… Slammed into Max's mind with startling vivid images along with her love and desire. His head was swimming as he cupped her cheek in one hand as he trailed the index finger of the other down the front of her top. Trailed it back and forth down the middle, between Liz's breasts while he spoke again silently.

' I want to see you.'

'Max… God, yes…'

Max stroked his index finger up and down the front of her shirt, concentrating on the molecules of the fabric covering her. It slowly parted, revealing Liz to Max's hungry gaze. He trailed his fingertip to the hem and took a sharp breath, watching as the fabric began to sag away from her heaving breasts. Max grasped the edges and slowly pulled them apart, pushing the straps off her arms, until the garment dropped to the floor. Amber fire grazed her exposed skin, her nipples pebbling with just the heat of his look.

'Liz…you're so beautiful. Mine…forever.'

'Yes…forever.'


***

"So where are Max and Liz?" Amy De Luca asked before popping a cucumber slice in her mouth. As she chewed she looked at her daughter with one eyebrow raised. No one was answering.

"Well? Where are they?" She turned to Jim Valenti who was suddenly engrossed in cropping a bell pepper. No eye contact. Something was up.

"Maria?" Her voice lowered into a tone recognized by all children, no matter how old they got. Amy watched her daughter go absolutely still and counted off the seconds until her daughter's eyes met hers.

"Mom?" Maria inquired back, fruitlessly hoping that she could think of a way to distract her mother from her current line of questioning. Amy wasn't biting. She took a step towards her daughter, planted her hands on her hips and raised her voice.

"Maria Elena De Luca." Maria's cheeks flushed as she looked guiltily at her mother. Oh crap, it was the 'mom' look and the tone saying her full name. The only thing Maria was glad about was that there were witnesses. She looked briefly over at Jim Valenti, his lips twitching in an irritating fashion. Maria had to bite back a sarcastic quip that was waiting on the tip of her tongue, about furniture, parentals and shock treatments. She let out a long exasperated sigh and answered.

"They're in Liz's room." Maria watched her mother's eyes widen, mid chew on another cucumber slice. Amy's teeth snapped together with a sharp click as she muttered under her breath.

"Jeff's gonna kill him."


***


'Oh, god…you're so beautiful. I love you.' Max repeated with a reverence in his voice that sent shivers through Liz's body.

Arching her back, she lifted her arms and wove her fingers through his hair, leaning into him. Her tongue lazily teased across his jaw, her teeth grazing his jugular as she whispered in his mind.

'The bed?'

Max went completely still as he tried to form a coherent thought to answer her question. Was it a question? All he could focus on were the images pounding through his mind. Images of them. Liz and him. Tangled limbs, hot kisses, moans of pleasure…. Were those images coming from him or Liz? Would Liz want him to…no she couldn't! Could she? That must be from his extremely vivid imagination. Max's temperature was on rolling boil as Liz gasped his name and called out to him feverishly.

'Max! Please…the bed…'

'What? Liz, what can I do?'

'Help me…the bed…Make it…'

Max pulled back, breaking the contact between her sweet lips and his skin, his body screaming its frustration through every pore. He glanced to the side, and saw the pieces of her bed resting against the wall, the mattress and boxspring next to them. He looked again at Liz, her eyes glazed and clouded, her lips slightly parted. He watched as her tongue peeked out and ran slowly over her lips, the action going into slow motion. Playing out in exquisite detail while Max's body throbbed, ached and hardened in response. He stepped back from Liz, while a shaft of lust surged violently through him. He murmured softly to her, turning toward the pieces of the bed with his hands outstretched, gathering his power.

'Liz, close your eyes.'

Max concentrated on the pieces of Liz's bed, clenching his jaw to try and shut out the sound of the breathless moan that answered his request. The frame fit together swiftly, Max making sure the braces were tightly fitted. He let out a loud breath as he looked at the bed frame standing now in the middle of the room. He walked quickly over to the boxspring, hefting its weight in his arms and depositing it on the bed frame. The mattress followed quickly and Max straightened, returning to Liz's side. Her eyes were still tightly closed, her breaths coming faster as he got closer and closer to her. He leaned forward, stopping when his lips were a mere fraction of an inch away from hers.

'Liz…'

'Max…'

'Open your eyes.'

Liz's eyes fluttered and then finally opened, her gaze settling on his lips. She licked her lips again as if anticipating his kiss. Max groaned and moved in to capture her seeking tongue with his mouth, drawing it in and sucking on it. Liz gasped in pleasure, her hands gripping his biceps as he continued to feed upon her mouth. Tongues dueling…questing. Arousing. Max left her mouth to blaze a path under her jaw, nipping at her neck with a muffled growl. Sucking deeply on the juncture of her neck, he swung Liz up into his arms and walked blindly toward the bed. Setting her gently upon it, Max stood next to the bed for a moment, burning the image into his memory. He'd never hoped that he'd ever be here like this with Liz. That he would have her in his life and that by some miracle, she would love him. It seemed that all his dreams, his fantasies were coming true. Max blinked rapidly against the sting of tears that suddenly appeared in his eyes. Everything he'd ever wanted was here. With him. Liz. He watched the sheen of tears wash through her eyes as she rose to her knees and leaned toward him.

'Max, all my dreams came true when you saved me that day. All I've ever wanted was to love you. But, even my dreams couldn't compare to the reality of being in your arms and feeling all your love for me. You're my heart, my soul mate, my beloved…forever. From this life to the next…after eternity has come and gone.'

'I promise everything that I am to you, Liz. Body, heart, soul…I'm yours. I love you…more than any words could express. You are the reason I was born… My destiny is and will always be, to love you. Forever. From this life to the next…after eternity has come and gone.'

Their silent vows echoed in the merging of their minds, hearts and souls as their hands entwined and their lips sealed the promise. The kiss deepened, Max moving to join Liz on the bed. Their breathing was harsh in the quiet of the dim room. Lying on the bed facing eachother, their hands clutching, stroking… Pants, gasps, and moans breaking the silence and echoing. Max's hands filled with the weight of Liz's breasts, his fingertips circling her nipples, pinching at them, tugging on them. Groaning in response to her breathless moans of pleasure. His hands traveled to her hips and tugged down her shorts, leaving her bare except for the briefest pair of panties. Panties that were silky and held up by only a thin string over her hips. Tortured gasps escaping Max while Liz's hands ran down his bare chest. Her lips left his to travel down his throat, her tongue tracing the mark she'd left on him. Her hands trailing down his stomach to slip into the waistband of his jeans. Liz's fingers caught on the button at his fly, nimbly undoing it, pulling down his zipper and pushing the jeans down his hips. She lightly stroked him through the thin fabric of his boxers, driving him mad while he groaned mindlessly.

'Oh, Liz…'

***

"Hey, everyone. Chow's here." Nancy Parker called out upon entering the apartment, Jeff a few steps behind, laden with bags. Kyle and Alex jumped up immediately and relieved the two adults of some of the food, putting the bags on the table and rummaging through them. Tess and Isabel watched with a combination of amusement and disgust as the guys shoveled garlic bread into their mouths with one hand and clutched a plate filled with pizza in the other. Jim Valenti grabbed a handful of napkins and tossed them at the two, shaking his head as he spoke.

"Take it easy, guys. What were you born in a barn? Remember to chew."

Kyle looked inquiringly at his father, confused, his mouth full of food. He turned to Alex, who raised his eyebrows in question as well while the adults and their girlfriends clutched their sides, laughter spilling from their lips. That laughter quickly died as Jeff Parker, suddenly looked around and asked.

"Where's Liz?"

Isabel and Tess gulped and looked at eachother, their eyes going wide as they scrambled to think of something to say. Kyle swallowed quickly, coughing slightly as he crossed the room to the two girls. He signaled frantically to his father, gesturing for him to stall. Jim took a deep breath, smiled nonchalantly and replied.

"Oh, she's around here somewhere."

While Liz's parents' attention was focused on his dad, Kyle leaned over and whispered in Tess' ear.

"Hey, quick…do your mind freeze or whatever."

"Warp." Tess retorted with narrowed eyes.

"Whatever. Just do it and quick. Show them, I dunno…Liz going to the bathroom or something."

Kyle turned to then Isabel and said quietly.

"You, go get them out of there. Fast."


***

Liz's fingers stroked back and forth over Max's boxers, his straining manhood quivering in response to every touch of her hand. She teased around the front flap, almost touching his bare skin and then darting away. Max clutched the mattress with his hands, arching his back and moaning as her hand finally closed firmly around him.

'Oh…Liiizzz!'

'Max…you feel so…hmmm.'

Liz stroked her other hand down his chest, pinching his nipples lightly and then sucking them into her mouth. When they stood out in hard peaks, Liz let her warm breath tease over them. She kissed back up his neck, her tongue branding him every few inches, licked over his chin and captured his lips with hers. She thrust her tongue into his mouth, curling around his, then sucking his lower lip into her mouth. She began to plunge her tongue into his mouth, using the same rhythm as her strokes upon his penis.

Max clutched the mattress harder, lost in the sensations of Liz's mouth and her hands on his body. He tried to hold on to his control that was quickly disintegrating under Liz's caresses. His chest heaved, his body shook, his head spun and his control shattered violently as Liz's mouth left his lips, licked a slow trail over to his ear and whispered.

'Max…let go. I want to feel you. Let go.'

And began to stroke her hand faster. Max's heart was pounding in time with the movement of her hand across his aching erection. He could feel the pressure building, his mind going fuzzy as his body was screaming for release. He could smell Liz…the sweet spicy scent that was hers alone. He bared his teeth as he fought back for a shred of control, uncurling his hands from the mattress and wrapping them in her hair. He wrenched her mouth back to his, licking the seam of her lips and then plunging his tongue into her mouth. He tilted her chin up so he could deepen the kiss further, exploring every crevasse between her sweet lips. His hands swept down her neck and shoulders and cupped her breasts, his fingers tugging on her hard nipples. His mouth left hers and licked over the tops of her breasts, his tongue leaving a trail of fire that had Liz burning and desperate for more. She focused on her hands and the steady stroking of her fingers on his cock. Up and down, up and down, up and down. Pausing to trace the vein that pulsed underneath the shaft, feeling a thrill rise up in her as Max's hips bucked and he groaned.

'Liiizz! Ahhh… Hmmm…'

His lips wrapped around her nipple, his teeth lightly grazing, his tongue laving the hard point with wet fire. He suckled one and then licked his way to the other, showering it with the same attention. Max stroked his hand down her belly, resting it for a moment on the spot she'd been shot and then traveling the short distance to the paradise between her legs. Pushing her panties down her hips, he combed his fingers through the soft dark hair, parting her to run his fingers lightly over the inside of the labia. Max felt the scalding moisture collected there burning on his fingertips as he stroked in slow circles over the tiny bundle of nerves at the juncture of her thighs. Her hips rocked with every movement of his fingers on her, a strangled gasp wrenched from her and thrown through their connection.

'Max! Oh…Max!'

He plucked at her clitoris, stroking and then pinching softly as her breaths came faster and faster, his own speeding up to match hers. They found a rhythm and began to stroke together in time, their hands wrapped around each other, each driving the other toward release. Max could feel it building rapidly as he felt his testicles tighten in preparation. He grasped what was left of the shreds of his control and rolled Liz's clitoris through his fingers, lightly concentrating his powers on the small nubbin. Liz's hands tightened on Max's near bursting erection as her muscles suddenly tensed and her back arched. Her whole body seemed to vibrate softly as she gasped and moaned, her cries getting louder and louder as she shook. Max swallowed her helpless cries and muffled his own as he captured her lips again. Ecstasy crashed over them, Max jerking and erupting in Liz's hands, Liz thrusting her hips and writhing in pleasure. They fell together, calling out eachother's names as the waves on contentment flowed through them.

***

Isabel watched as Tess closed her eyes and concentrated on Amy, Jeff and Nancy Parker. Her forehead furrowed as she connected with the three adults and began to weave the mind warp. She showed them Liz coming out of her room, calling a greeting to her parents and then walking to the bathroom, saying she'd be out in a minute. Tess knew she could hold the warp for several minutes but prayed that Isabel would hurry. As soon as Isabel heard Liz's father calling out a greeting to Liz, she knew that the mind warp was in place. She walked quickly over to Liz's bedroom door and knocked. No answer. She rapped her knuckles harder against the door and called out softly.

"Max, you've gotta get out here now. Liz's parents are back and they're asking for her. Max?"

She let out a sign of frustration as she lifted her fist and pounded on the door.

"Max! Tess can't hold the mind warp forever. Get out HERE!"

Isabel stepped back as she heard the door knob turn and her brother bare chested, wearing only his jeans peeked his head out. She met his eyes and tried not to laugh when his cheeks flushed red and she blocked out any thoughts about what Liz and he had been doing. She certainly did NOT want to go there. Isabel backed away from the door and told Max again.

"You have two minutes to get dressed and out here. Hurry up!"

Max closed the door and turned to Liz, who was already pulling on her clothes frantically. They dressed quickly, avoiding eachother's eyes, knowing that one glance would send them tumbling into the bed again. Liz was having trouble putting on her shirt on, and Max heard her frustrated mumbles as he turned to help her. With one swipe over himself and then her, they were completely dressed and all signs of their lovemaking gone. He looked up into her eyes and immediately fell into the chocolate brown, his lips meeting hers. Their tongues tangled together, the heat rising between them… An exasperated shout broke them apart.

"MAX! Get your BUTT out here!!"

"NOW!!"
Part VI



Later that night




"Goodnight Mom."

"Night, Mr. & Mrs. Parker."

"Bye, Sheriff."


Maria took a deep breath after seeing all the parents out and walked slowly back up the stairs to the apartment. She could hear the muffled sounds of Tess, Kyle, Isabel, Alex, Max and Liz talking in the living room as she turned the doorknob and entered.

Alex and Kyle were arguing. Liz and Max were staring into eachother's eyes. Isabel and Tess were laughing over their boyfriends' antics. Maria stood silently by the front door for a few long moments and felt a wave of sadness sweep over her. Everyone had someone to love, that loved them. Except her. The image of Michael's face swam in front of her eyes as they filled with tears. Maria shook her head vigorously back and forth and scrubbed her hands quickly across her eyes. She wasn't going to cry. She refused to cry any more tears over Michael Guerin. She was going to get over him and it seemed that a date with Rivan would be the perfect start.

Maria sighed a long deep breath and walked toward her friends, focusing in on the conversation in progress.

"No, you're wrong Alex. The speakers need to over there. That way the couch will be in the sweet spot." Kyle stated and was quickly rebutted by Alex.

"Kyle, it's all about the angles. For optimal sound, the angles and sound fields should converge toward the same place…"

"Yeah, like I said. The sweet spot." Kyle interrupted. He crossed his arms over his chest and arched an eyebrow at the lanky guy next to him.

"Fine, let's just ask the girls. Liz, Maria?" Alex smiled as he delivered the final blow.

Liz looked up confused at the sound of her name. She'd been drowning in Max's amber eyes and reliving the moments earlier in her bedroom through their connection. Needless to say, she was not happy with the interruption. All Liz wanted to do was find a way to get everyone out of the apartment, before her body burst into flames. And Max wasn't helping at all…he kept sending her tantalizing images of them tangled together on her bed that had her temperature soaring and her brain turning fuzzy. She looked up dumbly and Alex and asked.

"What was the question?"

"Forget it, Alex. Liz is in Max-mode. Nothing can penetrate that. And besides, what the heck are you even arguing about? We don't HAVE any of the things your talking about so who cares?" Maria retorted, sarcasm dripping from every syllable.

Everyone laughed. A small smile even appeared at Max's lips. Alex shook his head at Liz when she repeated her question and said with a slight quirk to his lips,

"It's nothing…go back to daydreaming or whatever it is that you were doing with Max. Sorry to interrupt."

Liz looked at her best friend and nodded distractedly. Max had just sent her another image of them together and she was reeling from the impact of the images. She snapped out of it at the sound of barely concealed laughter and glared towards Kyle, Isabel and Tess who were apparently engrossed in studying the texture on the walls. Liz got up with a sniff, and stalked towards the kitchen. She rummaged around in the refrigerator for a soda and called out over her shoulder.

"Does anyone want one?"

"Sure I'll take a diet Pepsi please." Tess answered. Liz pulled out the two sodas and walked around the counter to hand one to Tess. Their hands brushed together for only the slightest of moments when Liz suddenly cried out, dropping the can and clutching her hands over her temples.

"LIZ!" Max vaulted out of his seat, toppling over the chair he'd been sitting in and raced to catch his beloved in his arms. Liz shook as the vision pounded through her head like a freight train.

**FLASH**

She was wearing a long, flowing red dress with the whirlwind symbol glowing at the hem. Tess watching as Liz approached her as if she was floating, her feet never seeming to touch the ground. As Liz stopped before her, Tess stared at her in wonder as Liz took her hand and pressed something within her palm. Then Liz smiled gently and pulled Tess into a light embrace, all the while murmuring something in her ear.

**FLASH**


"Siava." Liz whispered in Max's arms, her eyes slowly drifting open. She repeated the word again, softly rolling the word over her tongue turning her head, searching. Her eyes touched on Tess, still standing with her hand outstretched, a horrified expression on her face. Liz smiled gently at her, reaching out one hand to the small golden-haired girl as she whispered again.

"Siava."

Tess stumbled forward at the sound of Liz's voice and paled as she whispered.

"Why do you keep saying that word to me? What does it mean?"

Liz's brow furrowed and she blurted out.

"Siava…. You are Siava. That's your name."

Tess dropped to her knees before Liz. Kyle rushed to her side and wrapped his arm around her, murmuring his love in her ear. Tess sagged in his arms, his warmth keeping the panic threatening her at bay. Liz had just touched her. And the flash had pulled her under before she could blink. How was Liz doing this? Was it even Liz? Tess felt a wave of nausea flood through her, the thought that Nicholas could be involved turning her stomach. Tess stared mutely at Liz and Max and waited. And prayed.

Liz was struggling to release herself from Max's hold. He had her pressed against his body, his heart thundering in her ear. The fear, love and worry pouring off of him in static waves. The more she wiggled in his arms the tighter he clutched her. She finally had to open their connection and sternly tell him.

'Max, I'm okay…'

'Liz, what the HELL is going on?'

'Max, I don't know. But I promise you I'm gonna find out.'

'You're in danger because of me…I couldn't bear it if something ever happened…'

'Max, don't say that. I'm okay. I promise that I will never leave you.'

'I love you.'

'I love you too. Now put me down so we can find out what's going on.'

Max lowered Liz's feet to the ground, but kept his arms wrapped around her. Liz reached down and touched Tess' shoulder. Tess locked eyes with her and Liz began to speak.

"I don't know what's going on…how I know the things that I know. But you are Siava, Tess. And I'm going to promise you something…I will help you find the answers you are looking for."

Liz then turned to the rest of the group.

"The answers we're all looking for."



**The Alien Invasion Theatre**



3 days later



"Shut up!"

"I do."

"You do NOT!"

"I do."

"NO WAY! You do NOT know anyone that looks like the pug from Men in Black!"

"I do, I swear. He was an ambassador from another planet that came to an inter-planetary summit. I accidentally stepped on his tail, and he wasn't very happy about it. Actually… come to think about it, he was very, very prissy."

Maria burst into giggles at Rivan's description. They were walking out of the last showing of the movie and strolling down Main Street toward the Crashdown. Maria had decided to keep the date very traditional, dinner and a movie. And in spite of herself she was having a great time. Although Rivan was pointedly refusing to answer any personal questions about himself, he was an entertaining companion. All she had found out in the few hours they had spent together was that he was born on the same planet as her four alien friends and that he was a "friend". That was it. This guy was closed tighter than a clam. But Maria thought with a calculating smile, 'He was about to be opened up.'

"So, what do you REALLY look like?" Maria asked with a sly smile, her eyes directed down so she missed the hard clenching of Rivan's jaw in response to her query.

"What do you mean?" Rivan ground out between tightly gritted teeth.

"What do you THINK I mean? One minute you're River Dog and like 100 years old and THEN you're drop-dead gorgeous and definitely NIBBLE worthy. So WHAT gives? What do you really look like? It's NOT a difficult question." Maria quipped back with brows lifted.

Rivan stopped walking, turned and stared at the petite blonde next to him. His brow furrowed as he debated telling the truth or avoiding the question. He briefly thought about changing the subject but somehow knew that Maria wouldn't let him get away with it. Damn it! Why did human females have to be so damned intuitive?! It had caused problems for years, not only with human males but in his own planet's research as well. He let out a long resigned sigh and replied.

"This is what I really look like." And he couldn't help adding with a tightly suppressed smile.

"Except for the third eye."

Maria stopped dead, her triumphant smile frozen on her face. Did he just say third eye? THIRD EYE?!!! She gulped with difficulty and slowly turned toward Rivan. She stared incredulously as his shoulders began to shake and his face flushed red with suppressed laughter as she glared at him accusingly. He was teasing her. Well, halleluyah! Progress. Maria felt her lips stretch into a glib smile as she thought to herself. 'See…there's never been a nut too tough for Maria De Luca to crack.'

Maria glanced out of the corner of her eye at Rivan who had begun walking again. She quickened her pace to catch up with him as they passed the Crashdown. She reached out her hand and captured one of Rivan's, smiling up at him. Rivan couldn't resist the warm smile that Maria focused at him and found himself smiling back. The two continued on hand in hand in easy silence, each enjoying the other's company on the walk back to Maria's apartment. If either of them had been paying attention, they would have noticed a pair of furious brown eyes staring at them from the darkened interior of the restaurant.

Michael gritted his teeth, clenched his hands into tight fists and turned away from the window. He felt a surge of jealousy choking him, slowly strangling him, and a red haze seemed to wash over his eyes. That shapeshifter had his hands on Maria. Maria. His Maria. Michael's heart began to pound, his breath coming faster and faster as his mind focused on that fact. Rivan had his hands on something that belonged to Michael. He could feel the anger and jealousy washing through him as he continued to clench his fists, trying like hell not to lose control. He didn't want to have to explain to the Parkers tomorrow morning the reason why the Crashdown had suddenly caught on fire. He had to save Maria from that sneaky shapeshifter. She couldn't possibly know what she was doing. Maria was so trusting and Rivan was OBVIOUSLY taking advantage of her.

Blind and stupid as males were sometimes prone to being, Michael grabbed his jacket and raced out of the Crashdown. He barreled down the alley to where his motorcycle was parked. As he roughly pulled on his helmet and gunned the engine, Michael calculated the time it would take Maria and Rivan to walk to Maria's apartment. He frowned for a moment, his brow furrowing and then smoothing as he remembered a short cut. He could beat them to Maria's and be there to protect her from whatever Rivan was going to do. He'd teach Rivan not to put his hands on something that was Michael's. The motorcycle's tires squealed as Michael shot down the dark streets.

He pulled up to Maria's apartment slowly, cut his lights and stopped the bike behind a high hedge. Michael took off his helmet and stowed it, looking quickly around. His ears perked up as he heard some laughter nearby. He'd know that giggle anywhere. It was Maria. He had to hurry. He rushed up the stairs towards the girls' apartment, hiding in the shadows. He could see Maria's front door clearly and he could hear Maria and Rivan's muffled talking coming closer and closer. Just let that shapeshifter try something…it would be Michael's pleasure to pound him into a bloody pulp. All of a sudden, Michael felt a very small and very temporary thought niggling his testosterone- plugged brain. What if Maria didn't appreciate his help? What if she actually WANTED to be with Rivan? But he roughly pushed that errant tendril of reason aside and tensed as Maria and Rivan stopped in front of her door. He had to strain to make out their conversation clearly.

"So, thanks. I had fun." Rivan said lightly as Maria turned to unlock the door.

Maria turned to face him and stared into Rivan's eyes. The burnished silver seeming to flash in the dim light. She wondered what it would be like to kiss him. Would she get flashes like Liz got from Max? Never one to back down from anything, Maria squared her shoulders and made a decision to find out.

"I'm glad, let's do it again sometime." Maria replied as she stepped closer to Rivan. He was even better up close! Yummy, yummy! Look out lips, tasty is coming your way.

"Okay. I'll call you. Thanks again Maria."

"It was my pleasure. Oh, and Rivan…you forgot something." Maria took another step closer and lifted her face, staring into his mesmerizing eyes.

"Forgot what?" Rivan asked with his eyebrows lifted, looking down at Maria.

"This…" Maria whispered as she reached up and cupped her hand around Rivan's neck, her fingers tracing his thick white hair as she brushed her lips softly across his.

Rivan went completely still, unsure as to what to do. He'd never been kissed before, so naturally he was curious. But what was he supposed to do? He decided to let Maria do what she wanted and concentrated on the sensation of having another person's lips against his own. It was quite pleasing, he decided as Maria pressed her lips more firmly against his and brought her other hand up to wrap around his shoulder. Maria tried to focus on the feeling of Rivan's full lips against hers, but as soon as she closed her eyes, she saw Michael. She shoved that thought to the back of her mind, yet it kept creeping back and she suddenly found herself comparing the two men. Maria began to pull back, resigned to say something when a furious roar echoed from the shadows.

"Get your HANDS of what's MINE!!"

Before Maria could say or do anything, Rivan was pulled away from her and Michael slammed his fist into the shapeshifter's jaw. Maria's mouth dropped open as she stared into Michael's accusing eyes. She was still trying to wrap her mind around what had just happened when Michael opened his mouth and proved that testosterone overload had taken over and sent him stupid. He brought up his finger and shook it in her face as he yelled.

"You KISSED him! You…you…you LET him KISS you!!!"

Maria's mouth snapped shut with a loud click, a flush climbing her cheeks, her temper starting to simmer. She turned her back on Michael and leaned down to give Rivan a hand. The shapeshifter was looking back and forth between Michael and Maria. Oh boy! What had he gotten himself tangled into? The king's second had sucker punched him. Gingerly feeling along his jaw, Rivan was glad to discover that it wasn't broken. He looked at Maria's outstretched hand and shook his head, slowly rising to his feet and backing away a few feet. He watched Michael warily, the dark scowl on the young man's face darkening with every minute that Maria ignored him.

Michael stared at Maria, the irritation and jealousy threatening to explode. He had come to rescue her and instead the little twit kissed Rivan RIGHT in front of him! Well okay, so she didn't know he was watching, but still…she SHOULD have known better. He took a deep breath and tried to calm down so he would be able to be gracious when she apologized for her obviously irrational behavior. She began to turn towards him and he looked down and waited. And waited. And waited. Why wasn't she talking? Michael looked up into Maria's seething gaze, his shocked eyes then traveled down and took in her clenched fists. His eyes met hers again a very brief moment before her palm connected with his cheek.

SLAP!!

No sooner did the sound of the blow stop echoing in the dark hallway then Maria stabbed a sharp fingernail into Michael's chest and started yelling.

"I DON'T belong to YOU! YOU don't get to tell ME what to DO! You DON'T own ME!! Just STAY the HELL away from ME!!"

Maria then turned to Rivan, who was wisely standing to the side quietly.

"And YOU!"

Rivan lifted his eyebrows in question, waiting for Maria to continue. She abruptly turned her back on both of them and stalked to the front door of the apartment. Wrenching the door open, she muttered.

"WHY does this shit ALWAYS happen to ME?! WHAT is it about me that attracts these idiot, testosterone FILLED alien males?! Could someone PLEASE tell me?!! REALLY! I WANT to KNOW! LIZ gets a KING who treats her like a freaking princess! And WHAT do I GET?!! An emotionally STUNTED soldier boy who CAN'T control the power of his energy blasts and a freaking SHAPESHIFTER who looks like grandpa one minute and a Playgirl centerfold the next!! Men! MORONS!!"

And with this the door slammed shut with a resounding bang. Michael whipped around at the sound of muffled laughter. His eyes narrowed in a heated glare at Rivan, who strolled calmly over to Michael and smacked him on the back with a smile as he stated.

"I guess you screwed that up….ROYALLY so to speak!"

Michael shrugged off the shapeshifter's hand roughly and stalked off toward the stairs with a parting warning.

"Shut up! And stay away from Maria."

Michael clenched his jaw as a bark of laughter followed him down the steps. He drove home quickly, furiously taking curves and corners at a speed that was completely ridiculous in an effort to calm the raging storm of feelings churning in his stomach. As always, Maria had to have the final word. The irritation began to build as Michael remembered all the times Maria had slammed doors in his face, refusing to listen. He stopped his bike outside his apartment and stomped up the stairs, earning an angry glare from his downstairs neighbor. Ignoring the old man, Michael slammed into his apartment, taking some of his frustration out on the front door as he sent it crashing into the jam with a burst of his powers.

Michael stalked to the refrigerator and wrenched the door open. He grabbed a bottle of Tabasco and a can of Coke and began to walk to his room. Spying the cordless phone on the couch, Michael balanced everything else in one hand and swiped it up. He closed the door to his bedroom and sat down on his bed, overturning the Tabasco into his soda. He stared at the phone in his hand, and before he lost his nerve, he dialed Maria's cell. She was going to listen to him for once. Michael sighed with exasperation as the fourth ring sounded and her voicemail picked up. He was about to hang up when the message started playing. His jaw went slack as he listened to it.

"Hi, this is Maria…I can't come to the phone right now, so please leave a message, and I'll return your call soon. If this is the GRUNTING, pig-headed, stick up his BUTT alien soldier…just HANG it up, I DON'T want to speak to you."

Michael let the phone drop from his ear and he stared down at it as the beep rang out. He hit the disconnect button and in an adolescent show of temper, threw it across the room. Michael fell back against the mattress and stared up at the ceiling. He let out a sharp hissing breath and raked his hands through his hair, muttering.

"WOMEN!"

Part VII


Later that night



Tossing. Turning. Tossing. Turning. Broken mumbles and one name repeated over and over.

Maria. Maria. Maria.

His head shook back and forth as the images played out for him in excruciating clarity. He tried to claw back to consciousness, he didn't want to see the torturing images that his mind was showing him. His hands clutched in the bedspread, his limbs taut, rigid and then trembling. A denial drifted, muffled from his lips.

No. No. Maria. Maria. No. No. NO. NO. MARIA. NO.

He awoke with a gasp, his hands covering his face as his body trembled, the images from his dream still coursing through his body. Sweat dripped down his cheeks, down his back as he stared blankly at the wall opposite him. Replaying the nightmare that plagued him throughout the night.

Maria. Maria turning away from him. Maria and Rivan. The shapeshifter's hands on her. Touching her. Kissing her. Maria. Maria. Maria turning away from him. Maria and Rivan. Maria…Maria…

Michael rubbed his hands briskly over his face as he rose from the bed. Stumbling slightly, he walked toward the kitchen. He pulled open the refrigerator door and stared numbly into the interior. He couldn't shake it. He could still see them…Maria….Rivan. No…no…NO! Michael slammed the refrigerator door shut. No…he wasn't going to let it happen. He had to stop it. Maria…he had to stop it from happening. She deserved so much more than that. She would have the chance to live, to see the world, to have children, be normal…safe. That was a life that Michael wanted desperately for her…and he was determined to make sure that Rivan didn't screw that up. Maria was going to get her normal life, even if he had to tear out his heart to give it to her.

He dressed quickly and before reason intruded, left his apartment. Racing down the stairs and out onto the street, Michael vaulted onto his bike and gunned the engine. Tearing off down the street back toward Maria and Liz's apartment, Michael concentrated on his destination. Anything to keep his mind off the image of Maria and Rivan together. Anything to stop him from thinking about a future without her. Without Maria. A shudder passed through him as he visualized the bleak existence to come. But she would be safe. Maria would be safe. That was all that mattered, he thought, his jaw clenching. Maria.

Michael stopped his bike on the street outside of the apartment building, climbed off it and tipped his head back to stare upwards. There were no lights on in the girls' apartment. They must be asleep, he thought, his courage drying up in his throat. But he swallowed the lump down and took a deep shuddering breath and began to climb the fire escape. Michael tensed with every small creak and groan of the rusty metal, praying that he didn't wake up the neighbors. He just needed to get to Maria. He needed to talk to her, he needed her… Shaking his head to dispel that thought, Michael stopped at a small window that looked into the girls' kitchen. He slowly waved his hand over the lock, the catch releasing with only the slightest click. He paused and waited a few moments before carefully sliding the window back. Throwing his leg carefully over the sill, Michael pulled himself through the small space and crouched on the kitchen counter. Jumping lightly down to the floor, he stopped to let his eyes adjust to the dim light. He could make out the muted outlines of furniture in what he assumed was the living room.

Making his way gradually through the maze of boxes and things stacked around, Michael could make out the hallway ahead of him. He tiptoed towards it. The toes of one foot came in contact with something just moments before his other foot got tangled in it and sent him pitching forward. He landed with a muffled curse and a thump. He stilled and held his breath, reaching down slowly to grope in the darkness for what he'd tripped over. It was a shoe. Untangling the straps from his foot, Michael pushed up to his feet and turned to walk towards the hallway again. He didn't get even two feet when the lights suddenly came on. He stopped suddenly, his eyes widening as he took in the vision before him.

Maria. Maria standing in a short silky robe. Maria standing in a short, silky robe that left nothing to the imagination. Maria standing in a short, silky robe with a metal baseball bat in her hand.

While his brain appreciated the danger that baseball bat represented to his soft tissues, his libido kicked him in the gut at the sight of Maria in next to nothing. He tried to remember why he was sneaking around in the dark. And as he continued to stare at Maria, the silky material covering her was taunting him with flashes of skin. And Michael couldn't think of one reason why he was there. Except to stare. And drool. Which is what he was content doing at that moment. Staring and drooling. A small cough from behind him, brought his head swinging toward the noise.

It was Liz. Holding a spatula clutched in her hand as she leaned up against the counter. Her lips were pursed in a suspicious expression as her eyes met Maria's and then turned to him. Her eyebrows lifted and she asked quietly.

"So Michael, what brings you here at this fine hour?" Her lips twitched as she watched Michael's brow furrow and his eyes dart over to rest on Maria. Ah, hah. She began to lower the spatula to her side when Michael retorted sarcastically back.

"So Liz, what were you planning to do with that? Spatula me to death? Great defense…"

Liz straightened and focused her most withering look on him, before turning to walk back into the kitchen. She threw the spatula into a drawer and walked back into the living room. As she passed Michael, Liz paused and lifted one eyebrow. She waited a moment before lifting her hand and while she held his gaze, whacked him upside the head. And then she said concisely.

"Well, if the adolescent alien drama is over, I'm going back to bed."

Without missing a beat, Liz then turned and walked toward her bedroom leaving a speechless Michael stuck in place. Maria turned and whispered a soft,

"Goodnight, Liz." As her best friend passed her at the entrance to the hallway.

Maria turned her attention back to the young man standing in the middle of her living room. She waited for him to look at her. And sighed as she anticipated the argument to come. God, she was tired. Tired of all the drama that seemed to clog all their lives. Liz and Max, Tess and Kyle, her and Michael. Well, there wasn't really a, her and Michael anymore. And she was glad…wasn't she? Michael looked up at her then, his eyes wary as they traveled to the baseball bat that was still clutched in her palm. Maria tensed as his lips parted and he asked quietly.

"Maria, I just want to talk to you. Will you put the bat down?"

Maria's defenses reared up as she snapped back in clipped tones.

"I guess that depends on what you have to say. So what do you want Michael…something?"

Michael raked his hands through his hair in exasperation as he fought to keep calm. God, she always knew just what buttons to push. He never seemed to be in control where Maria was concerned. He felt off-balance, like someone was about to jerk the rug out from under him. He couldn't think clearly. She just affected him…she always had. She seemed to vibrate with an energy that pulsed all around her and he couldn't help but get sucked in. And it didn't seem to matter how hard he struggled or how much he ignored her. She had a power over him. But, he had to fight. He couldn't give in. He had to put Maria before himself. He had to put her happiness, her safety and her life before his own. Maria mattered. He didn't.

So, he took a couple of deep breaths and tried to say what he'd come to say. Holding her eyes, and ignoring the urge to look away, Michael plunged ahead.

"Maria, you need to listen to me. Please. I know you think that Rivan is harmless and that he's just here to help us. But what do we really know about him? All we know is what he's told us, which is pretty much nothing. I want you to be safe, and you can't be as long as you're around Rivan. Please, just trust me. Maria, please just trust me. And promise me that you won't see him again. It's too dangerous. Promise me Maria."

Michael let out a breath in a rush as he paused and waited for Maria to answer. He prayed that she wouldn't fight him about it. And as Maria answered, he realized that he should have known better.

"Don't EVEN try it!! You think you can BREAK in here and tell ME who I can and can't SEE?!!! WHO the HELL do you THINK you ARE?!!"

The hackles on Michael's neck rose as he felt his temper rising in his throat and the promise to himself to stay calm, flew out the window. He stalked over to Maria and grabbed her by the shoulders, leaning down within inches of her face. Grinding his teeth together, Michael shook her as he harshly spoke.

"He's a SHAPESHIFTER. Do you GET that?! Do you UNDERSTAND that this is not a GAME?!"

Maria wrenched away from Michael, her chest rising and falling with her rapid breaths, her cheeks flushing and her eyes glittering as she rounded on him and shouted back.

"Yeah, SO?!! So, he's a shapeshifter. SO WHAT?!! My EX-BOYFRIEND is an ALIEN! So what?!! WHAT has CHANGED?! THIS has NEVER been a GAME! And I didn't need YOU to come here to TELL me THAT! I ALREADY know!"

"Listen, you UNGRATEFUL little TWIT…."

"WHAT DID YOU JUST CALL ME?!!"

"You HEARD me!! Now I've told you WHY you can't continue to SEE Rivan…this discussion is OVER. Just DO what I SAY….for ONCE!"

Maria's face flushed an even darker shade of red as his angry words hit her like a fist. How DARE he tell her what to do! He thought he could just come in HER house and start treating her like some idiot, little simpering girl who was just going to fall in line because the big, bad soldier-boy said so. Well, he had another thing coming. Big time! She planted her feet and brought up her fists and shoved Michael away from her. She took another step forward and shoved him again as she yelled into his face.

"YOU don't get to tell ME what to do! I'm NOT one of your troops…YOU don't COMMAND me! Now…GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!!!"

Michael saw red. It came rushing through his vision, clouded his reason and his common sense as he resolved to teach Maria a lesson she would never forget. It was time she listened to him for once. Michael took a step backwards. And then another. And another until Maria thought he was going to leave like she asked. The tension began to slowly leak out of her and she had to fight to stay standing while she continued to watch his warily. He stopped about ten steps back and stared at her, his eyes narrowing in concentration. He focused on the molecules of the metal bat in her hand, pushed them closer together, exciting them. And watched Maria's eyes widen as the bat began to heat rapidly. She let go of it with a small cry, her palm smarting from the heat and stared in shock as Michael snatched it from the air and pulled towards him with a tiny tendril of power.

While she stood there, the shocked expression stamped across her face, Michael said softly.

"That was just a sample…Rivan could do that and a whole lot worse. And how are you going to protect yourself?"

No sound escaped her slightly parted lips, and Michael couldn't help but feel encouraged. He walked back to her, leaned over her petite form and stared down at Maria. He lifted her chin slowly with his fingertips and softly whispered.

"Maria, I just want you to be safe. I don't want you to get hurt and I'm trying to keep that from happening."

Maria snapped back to reality as his words sunk in. He didn't want her to get HURT?! Well, it was a little too late for that now. And he had the gall to stand there and say that to her face. HE didn't want HER to get HURT?! Maria stared with wide-open eyes at Michael as she shoved his hand off her face and backed away in disbelief. She began to shake her head back and forth, a short bark of sarcastic laughter escaping her mouth moments before she retorted back.

"You…WHAT?!! YOU don't want ME to get HURT?!! Is THAT what you just said? HURT?! Boy, do you have a lot of NERVE, standing there talking about protecting me. WHAT a JOKE!! YOU protect ME?!! The ONLY person who has EVER hurt me…is YOU! So, why don't you just DO me a FAVOR and STAY the HELL away from ME!!"

Maria turned her back on him, her shoulders heaving as she choked back on the angry tears that clogged her throat. Michael stared at her, a cold shudder passing through him as he felt a dull pain settle in his chest. He turned away slowly and walked slowly toward the front door. He stopped with his hand on the doorknob and slowly turned again to stare at Maria. He called out to her softly.

"Maria."

The only response she gave was the sharp stiffening of her back. But she didn't answer. Michel rubbed his hands through his hair and took a deep breath before he spoke softly, hoping that somehow he would find the words to ease some of the pain he'd caused the only woman he'd ever cared about.

"I never wanted to hurt you. But, who I am…what I am… could have only brought danger into your life. I didn't want that for you. You deserve the best. Everything the world has to offer. All I can offer you is being stuck in Roswell looking over your shoulder the rest of your life. I care about you too much to ask you to do that. I want the world for you Maria…"

He opened the front door, walked quickly through it and then pulled it shut behind him. He didn't hear Maria's muffled sob as she bent over, clutching her stomach. She slowly straightened a few moments later and whispered through her tears.

"I never wanted the world…I just wanted you."


In a dark room not far away, a book fell from a table and opened to the very last page. A tiny star etched in silver glowed brightly, pulsing and then began to dim. And a tear slowly trailed down a pale cheek before disappearing into the night.