Title: Silent Lucidity

Author: Kath7

Summary: A spoiler fic, written before we knew all those spoilers were false. It was originally two fics: "Following My Heart" and "Silent Lucidity" but really flows better as one. It is told from Liz and Max’s points of view, alternating. A retelling of the end of Season 2.

Disclaimer: I own nothing here, although apparently I wasn’t borrowing anything from Katims and co. either since very little of this turned out to be true. Hopefully some of it still will. Lyrics by Queensryche.

Silent Lucidity

Hush now, don’t you cry
Wipe away the teardrop from your eye
You’re lying safe in bed
It was all a bad dream
Spinning in your head.
Your mind tricked you to feel the pain
Of someone close to you
Leaving the game of life
So here it is, another chance
Wide awake you face the day
Your dream is over, or has it just begun?

There’s a place to hide
A doorway that I run through in the night
Relax child, you were there
But only didn’t realize that you were scared
It’s a place where you will learn
To face your fears, retrace the years
And ride the whims of your mind
Commanding in another world
Suddenly, you hear and see
This magic new dimension
I will be watching over you
I am gonna help you see it through
I will protect you in the night
I am smiling next to you in silent lucidity.

If you open your mind to me
You won’t rely on open eyes to see
The walls you build within
Come tumbling down
And a new world will begin
Living twice at once you learn
You’re safe from pain in the dream domain
A soul set free to fly
A round trip journey in your head
Master of illusion, can you realize
Your dream’s alive, you can be the guide but

I will be watching over you
I am gonna help you see it through
I will protect you in the night
I am smiling next to you.

Queensryche

Part 1 - Liz POV

For the first time since Alex died, I am beginning to feel something again.

I know that I said that I was breathing again after the prom, after finally seeing all of my worst nightmares come to life right in front of my face…

Max kissing Tess.

Kissing her the way he kissed ME, his hand on her cheek, completely lost in the moment.

I pretended at first that I didn’t care, but that was of course a lie. Max didn’t even know what to say when I confronted him about it. But then he never knows what to say to me anymore. We have lost the ability to know what the other is thinking. Our hearts are closed off from each other.

The connection is gone.

I miss it like I miss breathing.

I don’t hate him. I want to. It would be easier.

I know that he hates me. But at least he’s not ambivalent. I couldn’t stand that. I need him to feel something for me, even if its bad.

I stopped breathing again the day Alex died.

I forced myself to turn it all off when I lost my best friend.

I know that it was my fault. If Max hadn’t saved my life so long ago, Alex would still be alive.

Sure, I would be gone, but at least everyone else would be safe - Max included. He risked his life that day, risked everyone’s life to save mine.

It wasn’t fair, it was probably wrong, but he was only following his heart.

I have realized something.

I haven’t followed my heart in a long time. Not since Future Max appeared on my balcony as a matter of fact.

I knew that it was wrong to listen to him. I should have done what I knew in my heart was right. I should have told Max the truth. We could have worked together to keep Tess around. We are not mean people. I don’t believe that Max deliberately shut her out in that other life that I never will get a chance to experience.

We could have fixed it together. But I listened to my head. I broke my promise to my grandmother.

She told me once that it would be difficult to follow my heart - that sometimes it takes us to places we shouldn’t go. But NOT following it has led to an even worse place.

My best friend is gone.

I know now for sure that it was because of Max and Michael and Isabel and Tess.

And me.

Of course, none of us were directly responsible for what happened.

And I still can’t figure out why it happened. There has to be some important clue that I’m missing…

All I know is, no matter how bad it has gotten between us, I have to tell Max. He probably won’t listen to me, but he has to know.

If he doesn’t know, something even worse might happen.

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

Maria and I were shocked to say the least when Michael actually showed up at the University to help us find out what had happened to Alex. It took long enough to convince Maria that I was right - that Alex’s death was MORE than an accident.

I never believed that one of the Czechs would actually start to believe.

But then Michael often surprises me. He always does the complete opposite of what one might expect from him.

He was pissed when he first showed up, tried to get us to leave. I know he was mostly concerned that Maria was going to be disappointed. I even think Max might have sent him, sent him to shut me down.

But when I found the Destiny Book’s translation in Leanna’s room, he started to change his tune.

"What the hell is this?" Michael demanded, sounding annoyed at me, as though I had all the answers.

"I don’t know." I was staring at the notebook in my hands in shock. It wasn’t in English. The translation matched the binary code that Alex had had on his arms when he had been killed.

He HAD been trying to tell me something.

I felt a pang of grief so intense I almost collapsed. Michael must have noticed because he grabbed me by the upper arms and made me sit down on the bed.

"Liz, we have to figure out what the hell this means." Michael told me, sounding upset. "We have to tell Max."

I laughed bitterly. "I don’t think he’ll believe it Michael. He doesn’t believe anything I say anymore."

A sour look crossed Michael’s face. "He’s an idiot. We’re ALL idiots. I’ll make him listen." He took the book out of my hands. Maria was standing across the room, a sad expression on her face. I think we both recognized that Michael was more upset than he was letting on that it HAD been something alien that had been responsible for Alex’s death.

"Liz, we need to go home. Back to Roswell." Michael told me. "But I think there’s something you need to know first…about Max…and Tess."

I blinked at him. "I know they’re together Michael. It’ll be okay. It’s what I wanted."

"Liz, its more than that…" Michael was cut off suddenly as we all heard a noise outside in the hallway of the dorm room. We all stared at each other wide-eyed.

"Let’s get out of here you guys." Maria was jumping up and down, her nerves clearly about to get the better of her.

We left the way we had come in - through the window - and were back in the Jetta a few minutes later.

We were on the road to Roswell - on the road back home.

Michael never did get a chance to tell me what it was he wanted to - about Max and Tess.

But I found out soon enough.

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

The three of us were actually excited when we burst into the Crashdown a few hours later.

Michael had called the others on my cell on the drive back to town. Max had apparently been annoyed but had agreed to meet us at there. I called my dad, asked him to let them all in, to let them hang around until we got there.

After that we just talked - really talked - about Alex, about everything that had happened.

I even told Michael about Future Max.

I have never seen anyone pale like Michael did after that. It was a good thing Maria was driving, because if it had been Michael we would have for sure swerved off the highway.

I thought at first he was upset because he heard how he and Isabel had died.

But that wasn’t it. All he said was, "Liz, I don’t even think ‘thank you’ covers it."

"Forget it. There was no choice." I made it sound like it hadn’t been a big deal - that I hadn’t had to rip my own heart out, as well as Max’s, to do what Future Max had asked of me.

I swallowed hard, decided that changing the subject was the only way to eradicate the emptiness that was trying to take over. "You wanted to tell me something before Michael." I said. "About Max and Tess…" I was beginning to feel light-hearted, free…To get the Future Max stuff out into the open - it was like lifting a giant weight off of my shoulders.

Of course Max was the one I really wanted to tell but I knew that Michael would tell him. He would know.

He might stop hating me. Then I could leave in peace.

Because that’s what I planned to do. There was nothing left for me in Roswell. I was going back to Florida to finish off high school there.

Alex was gone, Max was as good as gone…There was just no point anymore.

Michael had swallowed hard. "Liz…" He looked like he wanted to throw up.

It couldn’t be that bad - could it? I mean, what was worse than Max and Tess actually being together? I already knew about that.

"Pee break!" Maria announced, interrupting yet again. Michael, sitting beside her in the front seat, ran his hands through his hair in frustration.

We never did find another chance. We ended up joking and laughing for the rest of the drive, Maria forcing it, telling us that we were going to be back in angst-land-central soon enough.

She was right.

Whatever it was, it could wait.

And so I was not completely unprepared to hear what I heard coming out of Max Evans’s mouth when we burst into my parent’s restaurant.

At least I wasn’t completely unprepared.

"…no choice Isabel! If we don’t go, our baby will die!"

I stopped so abruptly, Maria rammed right into my back.

The scene in front of me was like a tableau of horror.

Max was on the floor, holding a hand to his bleeding mouth, clearly on the verge of healing himself.

And it was equally clear how he had ended up on the floor. Kyle was standing over him, massaging the knuckle he must have just bruised trying to punch Max’s lights out.

Isabel was seated at the counter, her dark eyes wide and darting around in terror. Tess was beside her, a comforting hand on her shoulder.

But it was where her other hand rested that truly claimed my attention. It lay gently on her abdomen - and it was glowing.

"What’s going on you guys?" I managed to croak, still staring at Tess’s hand in horror.

Kyle’s head snapped around. He looked so contrite suddenly I knew something about which I was not going to be happy had happened here. "I told him the truth Liz." Kyle told me without preamble. "I’m sorry but he pissed me off. He doesn’t have the right to say the things he says about you."

I blinked again. "What do you mean?" I asked numbly. I could feel Michael’s arm coming around my shoulders. Maria was standing rigidly beside me, her hands clutched in front of her.

I couldn’t look at Max. He was climbing to his feet. I know he was staring at me, but I didn’t want to see the hatred on his face that I had seen for weeks. I just couldn’t bear it.

Not anymore.

"You and Kyle didn’t sleep together." Tess supplied, apparently trying to be helpful. But there was something in her voice…Something a little frightened. I looked at her blankly. I heard Maria gasp behind me.

"Why?" I asked Kyle, my voice barely audible.

"Because he betrayed you Liz." Kyle told me, moving over in front of me, putting his hands on my shoulders. "I couldn’t take it anymore, listening to him. He’s been driving you to do crazy things for months - starting with stalking you to the point that you thought you had to go to those extremes."

Isabel had climbed to her feet, pushed Kyle aside gently. "Liz, we’re leaving. You’re not going to have to put up with any of this anymore. I am so sorry."

"Why?" Maria’s voice sounded hysterical. She clutched at Michael suddenly. He looked equally dumbfounded as if this was all news to him too.

"Tess is going to have a baby." Max’s voice was even, completely emotionless. "It can’t live in the Earth’s atmosphere. We have to take her back."

The only thing I noticed was that he didn’t say they had to take her "home." Despite all of the memories Max had regained, Roswell was still his home.

And then the first part of his statement, the part that confirmed what I already knew, managed to penetrate my brain.

She was going to have a baby. There was only one person’s baby it could be.

She was having MY child.

The pain that I felt was so intense, I didn’t know if I would be able to shut it out. But I had a lot of practice. I had to be strong. I couldn’t let them see how much this was killing me.

I did not look anywhere in Max’s vicinity. I couldn’t.

"How?" Michael demanded. "What makes you so sure that we can get back there?" He sounded furious. It was clear he didn’t want to go at all. What an irony THAT was. Michael DIDN’T want to go back.

And suddenly I knew.

I knew exactly what it was the destiny book was supposed to tell us.

I reached over and took the notebook from Michael’s hand. "Through the granolith." I said quietly. "He told me that it wasn’t supposed to be a time machine, that it was modified. I think it must be a way for you to get home." I held up the notebook. "And this will tell you how to make it work."

It was over. All of it.

I was going to give them this last gift - give HIM this last gift.

A way home.

I kept my head down as I moved towards Max. I was standing in front of him, staring at his hands.

They were the same hands that had healed me so long ago, the same hands that had touched me so gently, had made me first want to follow my heart.

Beloved hands.

They were hers now. He had touched her in ways he had never touched me, in ways I was unsure anyone would ever touch me, because I couldn’t imagine wanting anyone else - ever.

"Liz…" I think his voice might have cracked. I could hear Isabel sobbing quietly behind me.

I refused to look up.

"Here." I thrust the book towards him. "Alex would want you to have this." He reached out, grabbed it. His fingers trailed over mine for a split second.

The flashes began almost immediately.

I managed to shut them off quickly but not quickly enough.

It was you…it was you…it was you…it was you…

It repeated over and over in my mind, like a haunting refrain.

"I have to go." I whirled, still had not looked up at him. The fresh spring air was cool on my face as I pushed my way out of the restaurant’s doors. I had no idea where I was going, but I just started to run.

I had to get away. I had to.

But I couldn’t escape his voice.

It was you…it was you…it was you…

"LIZ!"

Somehow I had known that he would come after me. Why had I even bothered to try to leave?

I stopped, my sobs caught in my throat. My eyes were surprisingly dry. I realized that I was totally devoid of any feeling at all.

My heart was dead.

I turned slowly, forced myself to look up and meet his eyes.

He looked petrified with fear. I had not seen so much emotion in those eyes I loved so much in months. It was like he had suddenly come out of a trance of some sort.

But that was crazy. We had just been living in a hell of our own making.

"Liz, I just need to know why. Why did you do that?" He sounded like a lost little boy. I felt my heart start to beat again. All I wanted to do was to pull him into my arms, to comfort him.

"It’s a long story Max." I told him sadly. "Just know that I didn’t want to do it. It was what had to be though."

He stared at me for a long time, when suddenly anger flushed his cheeks. "Liz, that’s not good enough. We’re in this mess because we haven’t been honest with each other." He reached out, touched my cheek - touched me the way he had touched HER. I had seen it with my own two eyes.

I flinched away. His eyes saddened, but he brought his hand down.

"I’ll tell you Max, but only if you promise me that you’ll still go. Tess…" I choked on her name. "She’s going to need you." His gaze darkened, but finally he nodded.

None of this was her fault after all. I could hate her as much as I wanted. SHE was his destiny. I had known it for a long time. I was the one who had even pushed Max to accept it.

But it didn’t mean that I didn’t hate her. And yet she needed him now more than I did.

"I promise." I knew that he would not break a promise to me. It was done then. I would tell him, would get this whole mess out on the table.

At least the slate would be rubbed clean between us. He wouldn’t hate me anymore.

"I think we better sit down." I told him. He nodded, motioned to the Jeep which was parked nearby.

And so I told him. It took suprisingly little time, considering how it had changed everything.

I watched his face the entire time. It remained completely emotionless.

I finished off by saying, "I’m sorry Max. I made a mistake."

He frowned slightly. "I don’t think that Liz. You were so brave. You did what you thought you had to do and I thank you for it."

I smiled sadly. "I should have trusted you Max. My heart told me to tell you the truth a long time ago, but I didn’t listen to it. And now we’re here. Alex is gone, you’re all gone. But at least you’re all together. That’s what he wanted."

"Did you know that Isabel almost left town?" Max asked me abruptly. I felt my eyes widen. I shook my head. "She is so devastated by Alex’s death Liz. She wanted to leave." So Future Max’s plan HAD failed. Instead of Tess, it would have been Isabel. "I wouldn’t let her." Max continued. "She doesn’t want to come with us either but I’m making her."

"You don’t have any choice Max." It was true. Since the moment he had found out who he really was, his life had stopped being a series of choices. His life was not mine, it wasn’t Tess’s, it wasn’t even his own. It wasn’t fair but we had to accept it and I think that it was in that moment that we both finally did.

I finally accepted just what Max was. He was an alien king - one who had a responsibility to his people.

I wondered if we had accepted this before, whether we could have avoided this whole debacle.

I had always wanted our relationship to be normal - wanted the trappings of his difference, the flashes, the fireworks, but I hadn’t wanted the hardships that went along with being with him - the sacrifice, the selflessness.

I had not wanted to share him. It was why I had to lose him.

I wondered if I went back, would I do anything different? Would I encourage him to accept his heritage, help him to claim it? Could we have been together then?

But it was too late for regrets. Our future had been written the minute Future Max had disappeared.

"Are you okay?" I asked him now. His hands were on the steering wheel of the Jeep, clenched so tightly the knuckles were white.

"No." His voice was barely audible. "I’m so angry Liz. I’m so mad at him - at me - at whoever the hell that was. How could he have asked that of you?"

"He had no choice." I repeated. "Just like you don’t now. I didn’t blame him and I don’t blame you. We just aren’t meant to be Max."

He turned his head, looked at me fiercely. "I don’t believe that Liz. I REFUSE to believe it. I know how I felt about you the first moment I saw you. You are my soul mate. I just think we missed the path we needed to take so that we could be together." He reached out, tucked a strand of hair behind my ear. "It doesn’t mean that I don’t love you, that we weren’t meant to be together."

I felt tears beginning to fill my eyes. I believed him, had not believed the words as they were coming from my mouth.

"I knew I was going to hurt you." His tone was self-berating. "I am so sorry Liz, so sorry that I let you get hurt."

I placed my fingers gently against his mouth. "Please don’t say that. I would do it all over again, if it meant even having one of the minutes we shared together. You saved me Max, saved me from a life of not knowing what this feels like."

He kissed my fingertips lightly, brought his hand up to cup my cheek.

The next thing I knew, his lips were on mine, back where they belonged.

The flashes were intense: driving on the old highway together, our first kiss, our first date, the night he got drunk and called me his dreamgirl, the night we spent out in the desert, the night he told me he loved me, that wonderful Christmas Eve when he told me he believed in me, the dance in Las Vegas…

The painful moments were there too: him taking a step back after Michael was sick, witnessing that first kiss with Tess in the rain, finding out that Tess was meant for him, walking away from him at the pod chamber, seeing his face the night of the Gomez concert when he found me in bed with Kyle, the day he told me he didn’t trust me anymore, the prom when I saw him kiss Tess, even moments before, hearing that SHE was having the child that was meant to be mine…

I pulled back gently. There were tears in his eyes too by this point. We were both a mess. He continued to gaze at me, clearly unwilling to let the moment end. Reaching into the pocket of his leather jacket he pulled out something on a long cord.

My eyes widened when I realized what it was: it was the pendant Isabel had found at Atherton’s almost two years before, the pendant that had been their first real clue about who they were. It was whole now - clearly someone had put the two pieces back together…likely Max.

I wondered who was going to put my heart back together after he was gone.

"Liz, I want you to have this." Max pressed it into my hands. It almost seemed to burn them. "It’s yours. Without you, we wouldn’t know anything about ourselves. Thank you for that."

I laughed mirthlessly. "I guess at this point we’re both wondering if its a good thing or not."

"I will never regret any of it." Max replied seriously.

I felt myself about to completely break down. I looked away quickly. "At least…do you love her Max?" I whispered. I was surprised that I wanted him to say yes. I didn’t want him to be miserable, even though I now knew that Michael and Isabel were not the only ones who didn’t want to return to their planet.

I didn’t want him to be miserable. I loved him. I was not selfish that way - not anymore.

"Not like I love you." He told me, his voice breaking. It was the perfect thing to say - just like always he knew exactly what to say to me to make me feel better, knew what to say to make me love him ten times more.

I managed to bring my eyes back to his face once more. "Good bye Max. Thank you for everything."

"Thank YOU." His eyes were glittering with unshed tears.

I practically fled the Jeep. I knew that if I didn’t leave right then, I wasn’t going to be able to.

I had managed to follow my heart in the end.

I was miserable but at least Max knew how much I loved him, how much I had always loved him.

The hatred was gone.

My heart, my soul were whole again.

And deep down, somewhere within me, I knew.

This wasn’t over. Not by a long shot.

I would see him again.

Part 2 - Max POV

I am standing in the pod chamber staring at my sister.

She is staring right back at me and she is NOT happy with me.

I know it. SHE knows I know it. We are a very knowledgeable pair of siblings.

Isabel’s face is blank, not reflecting any of this, but I know her well enough to know that she is never going to forgive me for this - for forcing her to do this.

I even know WHY she’s doing it. To prove to me, to herself, to EVERYONE that she is no longer Vilandra, that she will NOT betray me again.

Although I know that this time she thinks that I’ve betrayed her - that by not being able to save Alex, that by not letting her go away to college, that by not finding a way for the four of us to stay in Roswell, I’ve betrayed her.

I don’t blame her. I think it myself. I have been out of control of my life for a long time. As Liz would say, it’s just completely ironic that when I actually DO take a stand about something, it’s the complete opposite from what I really want to do. But this time it isn’t just about me, or Isabel, or even Tess and what we all want.

It’s about an innocent baby. One that’s going to die if we don’t leave. One that I really, REALLY wish was NOT coming, but one that I have to take responsibility for.

I just can’t believe that I am going to be a father. I REALLY can’t believe that I’m going to be the father of TESS’S baby.

Michael, on the other hand, doesn’t seem surprised at all. He just seems pissed. Big time. Of all of us, I thought Michael would be the most happy to be going back to our planet. I can’t say our home. It’s not our home.

But Michael has changed. Oh, he’s still MICHAEL. Quick to anger, quick to condemn (and as usual it’s me he’s condemning) but he is also different. Maria has broken him down. He really doesn’t want to leave her.

I know how he feels. Up until last night I didn’t think I ever would again, but then everything changed.

I found out the truth about Liz and Kyle. And the whole house of cards came tumbling down.
**************************************************************

If you had told me a year ago that my life would be in the mess it is currently, I might have believed you.

If you had told me a year ago that I would actually have spent a period of my life - an extremely short period of my life mind you, but a period nonetheless - hating Liz Parker, I KNOW I would NOT have believed you.

All I knew a year ago was that I loved Liz, that I was never going to love anyone the way I loved her.

I knew then that it was wrong when Liz walked away from me. I knew that I had to stop her. I knew that the life that I loved, the life that I wanted would be over if I let it happen. I wasn’t lying when I told Liz that knowing her, loving her had made me human. I wanted to be human then. I loved being human. I loved how she was the only person who had ever made me completely happy to be Max Evans, because SHE loved ME.

But I’m not human. I never have been. I never will be. I had to finally accept it.

That doesn’t mean I don’t still wish I had been strong enough, that I hadn’t let her go. Because now I feel like I’m stuck in the middle of a nightmare from which I know I’m never going to wake up.

This is what being an alien means.

I kept fighting it for so long, kept fighting who I am, but Tess finally made me let go. Having those memories made me let go of the only dream I had ever had: to be normal.

But it wasn’t all Tess.

I can’t say that I don’t know how I ended up here. I know. I haven’t been able to think straight since THAT night…No, not the night that Liz left me - that other night. The worst night of my life. The night she and Kyle…did what they did together.

I didn’t want to believe it for the longest time - DIDN’T believe it - but I’m almost positive that the Liz I knew then could not have lied to me for that long. I don’t even know why she would have lied to me. What was the point? I mean, I saw the look on her face when I caught them. She was almost as horrified as I was.

I know she didn’t want to hurt me. She just wanted me to be normal. If I was normal, I would have been the one in that bed with her.

I still remember a conversation we had last spring, right after Tess came to town. Liz was so scared of Tess, of the fact that she was an alien, that we didn’t know what she would do. It was the first time that I really realized that Liz hadn’t fully accepted what I was. I know she wasn’t frightened of me, that she still isn’t. But that’s because she didn’t accept it - couldn’t.

I think that’s why I have been so insanely mean to her over the last week or so. God. Has it really only been a week? I feel like it’s been a life-time.

Now that I have fully accepted what I am, even if I don’t necessarily like it, I think I might have been sub-consciously punishing her for not accepting me, for not wanting to be with the REAL me, green around the gills and all.

But I know too that I am making Liz the scapegoat because somehow I have ended up somewhere I never wanted to be, whether I have accepted being the King of Antar or not.

I have taken the easiest way out over the last few weeks. I have blamed Liz. I have turned into a raging maniac where she is concerned. I hate myself every time I do it, but its like I have no control over myself when I’m near her. I don’t really blame her, but I have done everything in my power to make her think I do.

I don’t understand why. I really don’t. It’s like whenever I’m around her I enter this zone of complete irrationality from which I can’t escape. I am just so angry at her - all the time. At least when I’m around her.

I wasn’t even this mad after I had first caught them. I was devastated, confused, horrified, felt sick all the time, but I wasn’t angry.

I only turned on her when she needed me the most. I completely deserted her when Alex died. I knew it was wrong when I was doing it, knew that there was more to his death than I was allowing myself to see, but I couldn’t stop it. And no one even tried to stop me - not Isabel, not Michael, not even Maria. Ironically the only one who EVER stepped in was Tess.

Who knew? Who knew that Tess Harding would turn out to be the only calm one in a crisis?

I can’t begin to explain my feelings about Tess…about what we did, about how I feel when I’m around her.

When I’m around her its like I can’t get enough of her. It’s sort of like when she mind-warped me last year but different too. This time it just seems totally natural - like I was really seeing her last year but my devotion to Liz was blinding me to who she really was.

She is not bad. She’s just the person I was meant to be with.

Weirdly, I don’t really miss her when she’s not around. In fact, its sort of a relief. I feel all of this pressure from her all the time. I know she’s depending on me, that I owe her, and when I’m with her, I feel like together we can take on the universe.

But sometimes when I’m with her, I feel like I’m suffocating too, like I’m swimming through thick jello, like that first memory I had of her.

It’s completely opposite to how I felt when I was with Liz. With Liz, I didn’t start breathing until I was with her. All the other moments were totally focused on when we would be together again. But when I was with her, the whole world made sense. I came alive.

I felt that way again last night, for a very brief moment. When Liz was in my arms for the last time.

I know that I’m never going to see her again.

Twenty-four hours ago, I might not have cared. I have never been as angry at someone else as I was at Liz. She was going to betray us. I knew it, she knew it. She was so focused on finding out the truth about what happened to Alex, she was getting dangerous.

One thought kept running through my mind: she betrayed you once…she can do it again.

She was so single-minded, so intent on proving that Alex’s death was OUR fault.

Deep down, I knew it was. I KNEW that Alex Whitman would not kill himself, and yet I could not accept it, refused to accept that guilt. And so it was Liz’s fault.

When Michael called me from the university, I was surprised to say the least. He said that Maria had called him from there to tell him that she and Liz were still investigating Alex’s death.

I had thought Liz was in Sweden.

"Maxwell? Are you there?" Michael was yelling into the phone at me.

I was, but I wasn’t. Somehow knowing that Liz had never gotten on that plane, it made me physically ill.

She had been in Roswell when I had been doing what I did with Tess.

At that point I still wasn’t sure how that had happened. I’m still not. I think, deep down, that I was punishing Liz. I couldn’t control her but I could control hurting her. SHE had hurt me this way, why couldn’t I do the same? Tess was my destiny after all. At least I wasn’t just jumping into bed with some old flame. I never did understand why Liz had chosen Kyle of all people, why neither of them seemed particularly close AFTER it had happened.

Liz said at the time that she made a mistake but I had to have known deep down that she would never do that. I still have no idea why I just accepted it.

If I hadn’t, we wouldn’t be where we are right now.

I was sick about the whole thing when we woke up the next morning…and the strangest thing was, that even though I remembered the whole thing (you should hope so, considering it was my first time) it all felt like some dream - nightmare actually - from which I just hoped I would soon awaken.

I don’t think this is how teenage guys are supposed to feel after the first time they have sex, whether they love the girl or not.

Maybe I knew even then that the consequences of giving in were going to be huge. Who knows? All I know is that if I could take it back, I would. If I found out that it had all been some gigantic nightmare, I would be the happiest Czechoslovakian in the universe.

‘Yeah. I’m here." I told Michael. "Get them out of there. Now." I ordered.

There was a long pause. Michael was breathing heavily, like he had just run a marathon. "Maxwell, there’s something to what Liz is saying." He finally managed to tell me.

"So she’s gotten to you. Her paranoid delusions have gotten to you?" I wondered at the time at the words coming out of my mouth. They weren’t what I had wanted to say. I wanted to ask Michael what he was talking about. I could see Tess across the room, staring at me, her expression unreadable.

"Max, I’ve gotta go." I could hear Michael whispering to someone on the other end. "Listen, meet us at the Crashdown at 10:30. I’ll fill you in then."

Michael had hung up on me.

"What’s going on Max?" Tess asked me.

"Michael says that Liz found something." I told her, my mind fuzzy all of a sudden. All I could see were her blue eyes, all I felt was this incredible urge to race across the room and enfold her in my arms, protect her from whatever it was Liz had uncovered.

"Max?" Tess’s face paled, her hand moving protectively to her stomach. "It’s happening again." I swallowed. She collapsed onto the sofa, squirmed around, a terrified expression on her face.

For one moment, one heart-stopping moment, I saw her face clearly. Something was NOT right here. But it was gone. I went to help her, went to comfort her because the child we had created in one night was dying.
*******************************************************

Tess and I arrived at the Crashdown early. I was not pleased to see that Isabel had brought Kyle.

I knew that my sister was mad at me for not letting her go to college, that I had been wrong to play the Vilandra card to keep her in Roswell, but somehow I knew that letting her go would be a huge mistake.

But the fact that she had turned to Kyle - that was just cold. She even knew about the Kyle and Liz thing by then. I had told her, in an effort to keep her away from him. She had seemed upset about it, but she had not stopped hanging out with him.

"What’s he doing here?" Tess asked, looking at Kyle, kind of sadly actually. A spasm of pain crossed Kyle’s face at her words, but he quickly regained his neutral expression.

"Michael called me too." Isabel replied haughtily. She had been quite mean to Tess since we had found out about the baby. Although she mostly blamed me, she had NOT let Tess off the hook. She knew that I was trying to find a way to contact Larek, was trying to find a way to get us all back to our planet. I think deep down she was hoping that I wouldn’t be able to do it.

Because if the baby died, we wouldn’t have to go.

The worst part was, I sort of hoped so too. But I refused to admit it to myself. I owed Tess. No matter how many times I tried to avoid the fact, this kid was my heir. It was my CHILD. I had to save it if I could.

It was the right thing to do. I had done the wrong thing for so long, I had to take a stand.

"Kyle has a right to know whatever it is they found out. Alex was HIS friend too." Izzy continued.

Tess bit her lip, looked upset.

Isabel kept talking. I could hear from the tone of her voice that she was looking to cause trouble, that she was TRYING to tick me off. "So Tess, how’re you feeling?" She asked with false sweetness.

Tess moved up beside me, took my hand. "A little better. Max has been taking care of me." I saw Kyle scowl, look away.

"Don’t you mean he’s been looking after ‘us’?" Isabel asked, her eyes narrowed. Kyle’s scowl intensified.

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" He demanded. Isabel blinked, paled.

And then I knew. Tess hadn’t told Kyle about any of this. I think this knowledge was almost as shocking to me as it was to Izzy.

Tess dropped my hand, took a step backwards. She couldn’t seem to meet Kyle’s eyes.

Kyle moved over directly in front of her. "What the hell is she talking about Tess?" Tess refused to look up.

"She’s pregnant." I finally blurted out. I shook my head in shock. I hadn’t meant to say that. What the hell had happened? I realized that Tess was staring at me, her blue eyes wide. She didn’t seem upset though.

Kyle whirled so quickly, I barely managed to take a step backwards before he was in my face. "You are a real piece of work Evans! Jesus! I can’t believe this! First Liz, then my dad, then Alex, then Isabel, now Tess! Does anything you touch NOT turn to crap?"

I felt a wave of fury sweep through me at the mention of Liz. Flashes of the two of them in bed together were suddenly in front of my eyes. For the first time in what felt like a long time, the hurt and pain over that whole incident consumed me. "Liz Parker is a slut. Don’t even mention her in the same breath as Tess." I told him through clenched teeth.

I heard Isabel gasp. I didn’t blame her. I HAD NOT thought that. That had NOT been what I had wanted to say.

Kyle’s eyes were dilating with rage. I knew it was coming before he even raised his arm, but I didn’t even move. The sharp pain of his fist connecting with my jaw was like an epiphany.

I was a complete ass.

I didn’t know whether I was going or coming. I had lost my mind, completely and utterly. There was absolutely no other explanation for how I had ended up in this position.

Kyle’s tone was even when he glared down at me, complete contempt written all over his face. "Liz Parker is the furthest thing from a slut I have ever encountered. We didn’t sleep together you jack-ass. She was just trying to get rid of you. It was all a sham. I wondered about it at the time, but now I understand completely. She wanted to be away from you and she used the only thing that would completely drive you away."

I stared up at Kyle, my ears ringing. I had not heard a word of his tirade past "we didn’t sleep together." "What are you saying?" I managed to croak. Kyle just glared down at me, slammed his mouth shut, seeming to realize to late that he had said much more than he had ever intended to.

"MAX!" Isabel was screaming. "What have you let happen here? Everything is completely out of control! And you think I’m going back with you! I won’t! I won’t!" My sister started to sob. I had not heard so much pain since the day Alex had died. Her agony pierced my heart.

I was still lying on the ground. I couldn’t seem to move. I felt like I was swimming up from deep water.

Liz did not sleep with Kyle. Liz did not sleep with Kyle. Liz did not sleep with Kyle.

It was like a weird mantra. I couldn’t stop it.

She had not betrayed me. I had betrayed HER. In absolutely every way.

I closed my eyes, felt sick. Why? Why had she done this? Why had she lied to me?

The only thing I knew with utter certainty was that it had NOT been because she didn’t love me. That was not Liz’s way. In fact, it had to be for the exact opposite reason.

I knew that I wanted to get up, wanted to go comfort my sister, wanted to explain to Kyle, wanted to go find Liz, wanted to force her to tell me the truth. All the anger I felt about the Alex situation was quickly being replaced by a guilt so deep and so profound, I almost buckled under it’s weight. And yet when I opened my mouth, my tone was cold and unforgiving. "Grow up. We are NOT going to be separated - any of us. We have no choice Isabel! If we don’t go, our baby will die!" I blinked. What the hell was the matter with me? That was NOT what I had wanted to say!

It was at that exact moment that the doors to the Crashdown opened, the familiar bell jolting my attention away from where Tess had gone to try and soothe Isabel.

My mind was in a complete spin. Liz had not slept with Kyle. Tess was pregnant with MY child. I had to leave my Liz. I had completely betrayed her.

All I have now are a series of impressions of that instant. Isabel sobbing, Tess’s voice trying to reason with her, her hand naturally moving to her abdomen, glowing lightly, her eyes still on me though, Kyle breathing heavily, his anger barely leashed even then.

And yet, even with these images, the only thing I really remember is the expression on Liz’s face when her eyes met mine. I KNEW she had heard that, knew that it was the first she had heard of it.

She swallowed convulsively, managed to keep a blank expression on her face. "What’s going on you guys?" She asked, her voice soft. She wasn’t looking at me at all anymore, but, rather, at Tess.

"I told him the truth Liz." Kyle said, sounding suddenly contrite. "I’m sorry but he pissed me off. He doesn’t have the right to say the things he says about you."

"What do you mean?" Liz asked. I blinked when Michael put his arm around her. He and Maria had come in quietly after Liz had stopped so abruptly in the doorway.

I climbed unsteadily to my feet. I wanted to run to her, wanted to wipe that completely shell-shocked expression off of her beautiful face, wanted to demand that she tell me the truth.

For what felt like the first time in months I knew exactly what I wanted and it was the last thing I was allowed to do. Liz was looking anywhere BUT at me.

"You and Kyle didn’t sleep together." Tess spoke up. I managed to look away from Liz for a moment, to stare at her. Tess was watching me, a frightened expression on her face. I didn’t blame her. I think she knew deep down that if it wasn’t for the baby, in that instant I would have left her.

I am ashamed enough to say that I would have too. I would have walked away from her right then, sex or no sex. The only thing binding me to her was the baby.

She knew, had always known, that I would never feel for her what I felt for Liz.

"Why?" Liz asked Kyle, still so quietly I had to strain my ears. She was pushing a lock of her silky hair behind her ear, looked like she was barely holding it together.

"Because he betrayed you Liz." Kyle told her "I couldn’t take it anymore, listening to him. He’s been driving you to do crazy things for months - starting with stalking you to the point that you thought you had to go to those extremes."

It was all true. Kyle Valenti was apparently the only one out of the seven of us with any sort of clear vision on this situation. I had somehow driven Liz to do what she had done. And then I had completely betrayed her in every way.

I had not helped her find out the truth about Alex, I had given my first time to someone that I didn’t love and I had made her pregnant.

And for the first time I knew that Liz Parker would be better off without me.

"Liz, we’re leaving." My sister had stopped crying. She sounded absolutely devastated. "You’re not going to have to put up with any of this anymore. I am so sorry."

"Why?" Maria spoke up, sounding hysterical.

"Tess is going to have a baby." I said evenly. If I let even an inch of emotion into it, I was going to completely lose it. To actually have to say those words in front of Liz, knowing what I now knew…it was like taking a sledgehammer to my heart. "It can’t live in the Earth’s atmosphere. We have to take her back."

I saw Liz flinch slightly, but her back remained straight. She was still looking at the ground.

"How?" Michael demanded, sounding extremely unhappy. "What makes you so sure that we can get back there?"

"Through the granolith." Liz said quietly. "He told me that it wasn’t supposed to be a time machine, that it was modified. I think it must be a way for you to get home." She held up a notebook that was clutched in her hands. "And this will tell you how to make it work."

The rest passed in a blur. All I knew was that a moment later Liz had placed the notebook in my hands, I managed to breathe her name, although for some reason I felt like I was choking on it.

She was speaking, but I couldn’t hear any of it. I felt the blood pounding in my temples, horror that Liz of all people was giving us a way home.

When the last earthly thing I wanted to do was leave her.

She had whirled, went running out through the Crashdown’s doors…and again it was the little tinkling bell that snapped me out of whatever hell I was currently embroiled in.

"LIZ!" It was like that moment at the pod chamber last year. I had to go after her and this time nothing was going to stop me. I could not let her remain in so much pain.

I didn’t even listen as Tess shrieked after me. "MAX!"

"LIZ!" I could see that she hadn’t gone far as soon as I went through the front doors of the restaurant.

She was still running, but she stopped abruptly. I hurried to catch up with her, saw that her slender back was ram-rod straight. She was breathing lightly, turned, looked right into my eyes. I could see that she was steeling herself for this conversation.

Now, as I stand in the pod chamber, waiting for Michael to activate the granolith, I remember the absolute horror I felt when she had told me about that future version of myself, the one that had come back and totally screwed with everything.

If I hadn’t hated myself before…

And there is absolutely no way to fix it. Alex is dead. Tess is pregnant. My heart and Liz’s are completely destroyed.

Because I said good-bye to my heart AND my soul when I said good-bye to Liz. I still don’t know how I did it. I gave her that pendant and I let her walk away - again.

There was no choice though, really. Liz was never going to let me desert Tess and I really didn’t want to. None of this was Tess’s fault after all. I had been completely responsible - first that damned future me and then complete jerk present me.

Michael was right all along. I am no leader. All I did was screw up. But I can’t let everyone down again. I will see this through to the brutal end.

I just hope that Liz finds someone who actually deserves her because God knows I don’t.

"Are you ready?" I asked Michael. He was nodding, fiddling with the crystal we found hidden in the pod chamber because of the translation of the book.

I looked across the room at Isabel again. Her lips were pressed tightly together, but she finally just sighed, got down on her hands and knees and crawled through the empty pods to the granolith.

Tess smiled lovingly at me, went through after her.

Michael was next. He glanced once at me before looking away. "Are we sure this is the right thing Maxwell?" He ground out. I knew that he was mad at me, but he still believed I was his king. He took his role as my right-hand very seriously. I knew that he felt that he couldn’t deny my first order.

"We have no choice Michael."

He closed his eyes briefly, nodded, went through after the girls.

I paused momentarily before joining them, felt a shiver descend my spine.

This was it - the moment of truth. Going into that chamber meant leaving my human side behind forever. But without Liz, I had no human side anyway. And none of us would ever forgive ourselves if the baby died.

I let my thoughts drift to her once more, to the person who was my other half.

And it was then that I heard her.

"MAX!"

She was standing in the corner of the pod chamber, and yet she wasn’t. Her dark hair was streaming around her shoulders in complete disarray. She looked terrified.

She was a vision, just like the last time, the time she had saved my life in New York.

I stared at her in complete disbelief. That one scream seemed about all she could handle. She was fading away right before my eyes already.

But it was enough.

She needed me.

We weren’t going anywhere.

Part 3 - Liz POV - 1 hour earlier

I am sitting on my balcony, staring up at the stars.

The pendant Max gave me is clutched in my hand. I have a feeling that I won’t be taking it off for a long time. It feels hot against my palm and I momentarily allow myself to imagine that it is Max’s warmth, that I am touching him.

It doesn’t work of course. It’s only a piece of metal. But at least it was in his hands only hours before. It is the only thing I have left. The pendant, some photographs, my journal…and my memory.

Nothing will make me forget Max Evans. Ever. Which is a scary thing. Because I know it means that I am going to be lonely for the rest of my life.

I am never going to get over him.

I am pretty sure that there will be other Shawn Deluca’s in my life - well, maybe not Shawn’s. He was sort of a weird phase I was going through I think. I mean, if I was looking for Max Evans’s polar opposite, I found it in Shawn.

But that’s done. Even just the thought of anyone else just seems unbelievably tiring.

A tiny part of me actually wishes that Max and I had not made up before he left. This wouldn’t be so hard if we were still at odds. I could pretend to hate him and pretend to get on with my life.

The pendant I am clutching in my hands means that that is never going to happen now. It represents the love we share, all that we’ve been through together. It represents the fact that we both know exactly what it is that we are losing.

True love.

Maria fell asleep on my bed a couple of hours ago. She and Michael had locked themselves in the Crashdown’s bathroom for a good half an hour before he had left to go meet Max, Isabel and Tess. She looked like she had been through hell and back when she came out. I had just opened my arms to her and she had started to cry.

I haven’t cried. I am numb, sort of like after Alex died. There are not tears enough to make me feel better anyway.

Kyle’s been gone for a while. He wanted to stay, to make sure we were okay, but I told him that he needed to go be with his dad. The Sheriff has really grown to love Tess over the past few months. I know that he considers her leaving like losing his daughter.

I wonder if any of us are ever going to get over losing them?

It is so quiet now. I continue to stare up at the V constellation shining above. I wonder if they are gone…if they are even now arriving on their planet, stepping into danger.

I wonder if Tess’s baby will be a boy or a girl, whether it will look like Max. I bite my lip, feel bile rising in my throat. I swallow convulsively, forcing myself to take deep breaths, to think of something - anything - else.

And that’s when I remember something weird that Kyle said to me right before he left.

He was pulling a piece of paper out of his back pocket as he walked out.

"What’s that?" I had asked curiously.

Kyle had looked embarrassed. "Er - its actually a shopping list. I promised my dad that I would stop and pick up a few things on the way home."

I had stared at him blankly, had suddenly felt an almost uncontrollable urge to laugh.

So we were going back to our regular lives that easily. One minute bidding good-bye to our best friends, saying good-bye to my soul mate - the next minute going grocery shopping.

"Yeah, Tess was getting some weird cravings."Kyle had continued. "We’re completely out of ice-cream…and that is just totally unacceptable in the Valenti household. I mean, I have never seen anything as disgusting as the concoctions she’s been whipping up over the past couple of days. I thought Tabasco was bad enough. But she’s been dumping salt on EVERYTHING." Kyle stopped talking abruptly. "But I guess you don’t want to hear about that." He grimaced, looked awkward. "I’m sorry Liz."

I had smiled sadly at him, shrugging. "It’s okay Kyle." He had pulled me in for a brief hug before he left. I had felt him shaking with emotion. He was much more upset than he was letting on.

Something about that conversation had struck me as weird at the time, but I had not been able to put my finger on it. I had been too sad, too weary, too frustrated.

But now it hit me like a bolt of lightening.

Salt.

Tess was craving salt.

And I’m suddenly thrust back in time to a Saturday morning in the Crashdown about a year ago.

Isabel had come in for breakfast. Tess had been with her. It was before we knew who Tess was but right after Topolsky had disappeared.

I had been pleased to see Isabel. After the Topolsky fiasco we had all agreed that we would hang out at the Crashdown as much as possible, until we were sure that things had settled down again. No one wanted to have to worry about anyone else needlessly and since Michael, Maria and I were always there anyway and Max was usually right across the street at the Museum, the Crashdown had seemed logical. And so Isabel coming in had been one less thing to worry about on that sunny morning.

I had not been happy to see Tess though. Even then I had seen the looks she had been giving Max and they had made me uncomfortable. I had not been worried about him straying yet, but she had been clearly interested. It was annoying.

I laugh bitterly to myself as I remember, reflect on how innocent I was in those days. I wonder how I would have reacted then had I know that just under a year later Tess would be having MY boyfriend’s baby.

But I’m letting myself get distracted again, I’m not thinking about the right thing. Isabel….something Isabel did that day that Maria and I had discussed at length later.

She had ordered waffles and instead of requesting her usual Tabasco as well, she had proceeded to dump a full shaker of salt on top of them. The reason we noticed at all was because she had come into the kitchen looking for more.

"What the heck’s up with the salt? Are you trying to pickle yourself?" Maria had demanded, glancing at me like she thought Isabel was loony-tunes.

Isabel had just shrugged. "It’s that time of the month." She had informed us. "Don’t you guys get weird cravings?"

Maria had nodded emphatically, grinning. "Chocolate…lots of it."

"Ice cream." I added.

We had all giggled conspiratorially in silly girly fashion when Michael had come barging in. "Will you stop yakking and get those damn UFOmelettes out to the masses?" He had glared even more when we had all just kept giggling. "What the hell’s so funny?"

"You wouldn’t understand spaceboy. Alex tried once and he never recovered." Maria had replied, breezing past him and back out into the main restaurant. Isabel had returned to her breakfast and an extremely pissed off Michael and I had gone back to work.

But Maria and I had discussed it again later that night, wondered how else Isabel was different from us and how that meant Max and Michael were different, and what that meant for - ahem - other things.

This had of course brought up the topic of glowing hickeys again, which had proceeded to freak Maria out once more. She hadn’t let Michael touch her for three days.

I had not been quite as circumspect with Max I remembered now with a smile.

Truthfully, until this instant, I had forgotten about that incident. But now it was back.

And I knew why too.

Tess was NOT pregnant. I knew it for a fact. If she was craving salt, that meant that she was NOT pregnant.

She was lying.

Which also meant that there was absolutely no reason for our friends to go anywhere.

"Maria!!!" I jumped up, practically threw myself through my window onto the bed. My best friend sat up with a jolt, rubbing her eyes.

"What the heck…Liz! What’s wrong?" Her blue eyes were foggy, her cheeks still streaked with tears.

"Tess isn’t pregnant!" I practically shrieked. "She’s lying! We need to get out to the pod chamber NOW!" I was back on my feet, dragging Maria behind me.

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

"Maria! We’re not going to make it! You have to hurry!" I was practically jumping up and down in the passenger seat. I felt like I was about to fly to pieces. We had to get there in time! We just had to!

"I’m going as fast as I can! Why does everyone seem to think I can win the Indy in this damn thing!" Maria shrieked back. We were both practically hysterical with tension. "Can’t you try and do your connection thingy with Max? Tell him to stay where he is?"

I stopped moving abruptly. I hadn’t even thought of that. "I don’t even know if it would work." I replied, feeling a lump rising in my throat at the memory of just how completely Max Evans had changed me, how if I couldn’t stop him I was never going to feel the way I felt with him again. "Isabel helped me the last time."

"Try Liz!" Maria insisted. "I just don’t think we’re going to make it in time otherwise."

I bit my lip, nodded, felt a shiver run down my spine. I had to get to Max in time - had to give him the chance to make this decision about going home with all the facts. I still didn’t understand why Tess had lied about the whole thing, but I knew that she had.

It made me wonder what else she had been lying about.

I clutched at the pendant of the whirlwind galaxy which still hung around my neck. I closed my eyes, taking deep breaths.

I tried to remember exactly what Isabel and I had done the last time. I suddenly remembered distinctly just calling out to Max with every fibre of my being.

Since every fibre of my being was already calling out to him, I had to be doing something wrong. I was too overwrought. I needed to calm down.

I began to rub the pendant, forcing myself to make my breathing as even as possible.

I could feel the necklace beginning to heat up against my palm again…

And it was suddenly as though something shifted…I was falling…and the flashes began…

Flash*

Max, Tess, Isabel and Michael standing in a perfect square in a strange cone-shaped room….

Flash*

A close-up of Tess’s face…the pupils of her icy blue eyes were dilated and staring directly at Max…

Flash*

Max and Tess intertwined in each other’s arms, naked, writhing…

I pressed my eyes together tightly, fought against letting them snap open in horror.

Something strange was happening. I could feel another presence in my mind, someone trying to force me to keep watching that image play over and over in my head. I felt myself beginning to get nauseous. All I wanted to do was to stop the flashes, stop seeing them together.

But I knew that’s what THEY wanted me to do. I would not allow it.

Flash*

Max holding a baby, Tess standing beside him, her hand on his arm…

Flash*

Max’s face, a slightly dazed expression apparent, standing across from Tess, watching Michael place a crystal into what had to be the granolith…

Flash*

Tess touching Max’s face, reaching up to kiss him…

Flash*

Michael stepping back to take Isabel’s hand…they looked at each other, across at Max…and suddenly Isabel was screaming…

Flash*

A gigantic explosion…

It was so immense, the explosion, that it threw me completely out of wherever I had been.

I gasped for air, clutched at the pendant which was suddenly scalding hot against my hand.

"Liz!" Maria was glancing over at me out of the corner of her eye. "What did you see? What happened?"

"Maria, something’s wrong! We NEED to get there now! This isn’t just a matter of them leaving anymore."

"What do you mean?" Maria demanded, sounding terrified. I realized that it couldn’t have been too pleasant watching me do whatever the heck it was I had been doing. I had probably completely zoned out there for a minute.

"Maria, I don’t want you to panic here…"

She cut me off. "Too late. Liz, just TELL me."

"If we don’t get there and stop them from activating the granolith, they’re all going to die." I told her, forced myself to stare straight ahead out the windshield into the dark.

I heard Maria’s gasp in a small part of my mind, but I was already retreating again, rubbing the pendant, determined to reach Max.

I was going to stop him. I would not let HER win.

Because I now knew who was responsible for this entire debacle - and not accidentally, not by some twist of destiny either.

This had all been planned and deliberate.

She had deceived us all.

I was going to stop Tess Harding if it was the last thing I ever did.

Part 4 - Max POV

"MICHAEL!" I yelled my best friend’s name without even thinking about it.

He poked his head back through the passageway leading into the granolith. "What are you doing?" He demanded. He was scowling.

"Something’s wrong. I need to find Liz. Wait for me there. Tell Tess and Isabel that I’ll be back as fast as I can…" I was already hurrying towards the entrance, knowing that time was of the essence here. If anything had happened to Liz…

"MAXWELL!" Michael was calling after me. I could hear Tess starting to shriek my name too, but I ignored them both.

I swiped my hand over the silver hand print near the entrance to the pod chamber, the one that would open it.

As the door began to move slowly I became aware of yelling from the outside. "MAAAXXX! Open the door! MAX!" It was Liz and she sounded half hysterical. Maria was there too. I could hear her shrieking Michael’s name.

I became aware suddenly of Tess. She had come up behind me, was grabbing me by the arm, was trying to pull me towards the granolith. "Max! We have to go." My mind was beginning to feel slightly foggy again. I shook it quickly, turned back to stare at her. Her big blue eyes were locked on my face. "The baby Max. I can feel him dying. We have to go now!"

I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. I knew that there was some reason that I had left the granolith chamber but I couldn’t for the life of me think what it was.

I felt someone brush past me. I blinked, realized that it was Maria. She had launched herself at Michael, was raining kisses all over his shocked face. "What the hell! Maria! What are you guys doing here?"

LIZ!

How could I have forgotten that? What the hell was going on around here?

I shook Tess off, frowned at her. My mind was clear again. I could see a slight scowl beginning to mar her forehead.

"Max." A quiet voice from behind me. It was Liz. "Max, don’t look at her. I think she must be doing something to you."

I felt a flash of intense rage. "Are we back to that Liz? I thought you’d given up on that." My tone was so nasty, I heard Maria gasp. What the…I had NOT thought that.

And suddenly I knew exactly what was going on here. That I hadn’t seen it before…

This was exactly what it had felt like the year before, when Tess had first come to Roswell.

When she had been mind-warping me.

"Max." It was Liz again. She was speaking calmly. I could feel her small hand on my arm. I managed to turn my head, even though I felt like I was trapped in the depths of Tess’s icy eyes. "That’s not you. Fight her. You know that she’s responsible."

"Liz…" I gasped. I suddenly felt like my brain was about to explode. It made me want to fall to my knees. I reeled away from both of them, breathing quickly, managed to bring my hands up to my head.

"MAX!" I could hear Isabel’s fright in her voice.

"STOP IT!" Liz was yelling. "Stop doing that to him! Leave him alone! I know the truth you witch! There’s no baby at all! You faked the whole thing!" I felt her hands against my back. "Max! Fight her! You can do it! Please!"

I was trying. But I couldn’t seem to control my own emotions. I had clenched my jaw together so that I wouldn’t say anything more to Liz that I would regret.

"Isabel! Michael! Grab her! Make her stop it!" I could hear Liz’s orders in the back of my mind, but the majority of it was concentrating on trying to escape the warp. I could almost FEEL her in my mind. Her eyes were inescapable.

"Max! Connect with me!" I could feel her gentle hands on my face and the next thing I knew her soft lips were on mine.

The connection flared to life between us instantly. The flashes were almost unidentifiable they came so quickly.

Flash*

Liz weeping on her balcony, a hand reaching out to soothe her. MY hand…and yet it wasn’t me.

Flash*

Liz dancing with me but NOT me, feelings of joy and love flooding through her, and then the loneliness when she realized that she was alone…

Flash*

Liz clutching the pendant between her palms, her eyes closed, images of me and Tess together, an image of the granolith exploding…absolute terror - Liz’s terror - was so intense it was humbling.

She broke the kiss finally, but her eyes were staring straight into my soul as she pulled back. "Max?" She whispered, sounding worried.

"Liz. It’s all right." I told her. I pulled her against me.

My mind was completely clear.

She had healed ME this time.

I breathed in the clean scent of her hair. My entire world had shifted on its axis again and I still didn’t know why.

I could hear Michael and Isabel arguing with Tess.

"What did you do to him?" Isabel was demanding. I looked past Liz, saw that my sister was holding Tess against the wall of the pod chamber, her entire stance threatening.

"She’s not pregnant." Liz said from beside me. "She completely made it up."

"You’re lying!" Tess shrieked. She looked at me, terror on her face. "Max! Tell them! You connected with the baby! We both did." She brought her hand to her abdomen. I could feel the first stirrings of a warp trying to penetrate my mind.

I threw her out so completely and so suddenly, she gasped, cringed back against the wall.

"How do you know this Liz?" Michael demanded. He was looking at Tess like you might look at a snake that had infiltrated your house.

"Salt." Liz replied with certainty. She looked at Isabel. "Kyle told me that she’s been craving salt."

A look of understanding crossed my sister’s face. "Izzy?" I asked, confused.

"Trust me Max. She’s NOT pregnant." Isabel told me firmly. "You don’t want to know more than that."

"Who the hell cares about salt?" Michael interjected. "My question is, what else has she been lying about?"

"Nothing!" Tess wailed. "It’s all true! I swear it! We need to go home! They’re waiting for us!" Her eyes widened with horror at what she had just said. She clamped her mouth shut.

I felt Liz tense beside me. "Who’s waiting for you Tess?" She asked, her tone low but completely disdainful. "The Skins right? Or Khivar? Who did you make a deal with? Why are you so desperate to get Max back there? Because you can’t tell me its because you love him! If you loved him, you wouldn’t have mind-raped him! Because that’s what you did!" Liz’s voice was getting louder. She was absolutely furious.

I squeezed her hand gently. "Liz, its okay." I looked at Tess. "You better just tell us the whole story Tess."

"I won’t." Tess shook her head stubbornly. "I’m pregnant. You have to take me back. Our baby is dying Max." She looked at Liz triumphantly. "Because that’s one thing that I didn’t have to mind-warp Miss High and Mighty. We DID sleep together. I was the one he chose!"

Liz flinched, but didn’t reply.

My mind was whirling. Just Tess’s mention of the sex and a mind-warp in the same breath…

"She’s lying." I said with certainty. I looked at Tess. "You’re lying. We NEVER slept together."

The memories were flooding back like a tidal wave.

It was the night that we had slept together. I had tried to stop Liz from going to Sweden, had told her that if she went our friendship was over.

And Liz had walked away from me again, the disappointment on her face not overshadowing the determination.

I had known then that we were over for good. She would take me at my word. We were no longer friends.

I had been able to accept that we were moving on but only because I knew that Liz and I would always be connected by the secret that bound us together, by the connection that still existed between us even if we couldn’t be together.

Losing her completely had devastated me. I had driven around in a daze for what had felt like hours, had ended up somehow at the Observatory we had visited earlier that year with school.

I had felt at peace there on that trip, had enjoyed looking at the stars through the telescope, had enjoyed thinking about my world as somewhere I might like to visit someday to get some answers, but for no other reason than that.

I had thought that maybe going there would calm me down, would help me to figure out how to fix the rift that was developing between me and my friends.

Liz hated me. Isabel hated me. Michael was ambivalent one way or the other, but made it clear that he thought I was poor excuse for a leader.

And then there was Tess. I was beginning to remember her, had started to like her…

But the way I felt about her…it was nothing compared to what I felt for Liz - for what I had felt for her. It was why I was so angry at Liz now, that someone I could have loved so intensely could have betrayed me so completely.

It was there that Tess had found me. Only now was I beginning to wonder how she had known where I was going to be.

"Max." It had been just like that night months ago when she had comforted me after I had found Liz and Kyle together. "It’s okay Max." Her hand was on my arm.

"I’m totally alone." I had told her, knowing that I had never felt as sorry for myself as I did at that moment.

"You have me." She had replied quietly. "I’ll always be here. For eternity."

I had turned to look at her. Her blue eyes had been shining strangely in the moonlight. She had reached up, pulling my head down so that my lips met hers.

And the world had gone black.

I had woken up the next morning with Tess. We had been naked. I had memories of what we had done together.

But I realized now that the memories were already beginning to fade…that it had all been an illusion. None of it had actually happened.

"It was all a lie." I said again, more strongly this time. I looked at my friends. "Remember how she changed Mrs. Deluca’s memories when Brody held us hostage?" I felt horror at the magnitude of her deception beginning to penetrate my mind. "She did it to me too." I felt a wave of nausea. "How could I have been so stupid?" I pulled Liz more tightly against me, glared at Tess. "I kissed you, then pulled away. I was still thinking about Liz. I couldn’t do it. I just knew that it was wrong."

Tess’s face was white, her eyes glittering with fright. "I had no choice." She whined. "You were unreasonable." She turned venomous eyes on Liz. "It was all her fault! She bewitched you! You are mine!"

"I don’t get it." Maria interrupted, rolling her eyes at Tess’s rant. "My mom was unconscious when Tess did that to her."

"I must have been too." I searched my mind frantically for answers. "Someone else must have been there. Someone knocked me out."

"It wasn’t my fault!" Tess was wailing. "It was all his idea! He made me do it!"

"Who? Khivar?" Isabel sounded terrified.

"Will you just come out!" Tess yelled. "The jig is up! They’re on to us."

I glanced at Michael and Isabel as the wall seemed to come to life. What the…

A moment later it all made perfect sense. I felt the shock course through me and yet, somehow, I was NOT surprised.

Nasedo.

Part 5 - Liz POV

I felt Max tense beside me as Nasedo suddenly appeared. Michael was gaping and Isabel’s face had gone completely white.

"But…but…you were dead!" Michael managed to stutter.

Nasedo rolled his eyes, shook his head at Tess. "I cannot believe that you didn’t manage to pull this off! They are all completely imbecilic! What is wrong with you?"

Tess scowled at him, tossed her blonde head. "I was doing fine until SHE got involved again." She glared in my direction.

"I thought you had neutralized her." Nasedo snapped. He looked at me, started advancing on me. His eyes lit on the pendant around my neck. "What is she doing with that?" He demanded.

I grasped it in my hand as he moved to take it away from me. I felt Max grab my arm and thrust me behind him. "Stay away from her." He told Nasedo coldly. He was staring at the shapeshifter. I could tell by the tone of his voice that he was absolutely furious. "What the hell is going on around here? I want answers and I want them now." He began to advance on Tess, who suddenly looked ill. "What did you do to me? And why? Why are you so desperate to get us back there?"

Tess bit her lip, glanced at Nasedo nervously. As I watched, I could see the wheels spinning in her devious mind. And then she began to talk. "It was his fault Max!" She said, pointing at Nasedo. "He made a deal with Nicholas." She moved towards Max. I felt disgust as tears began to well in her blue eyes. "Max, please, you have to believe me. I never agreed to help them! They were mind-warping me too!"

Nasedo snorted. "She’s lying of course." He said, sounding completely disinterested. "She was the one who plotted with Nicholas. She’s been doing it for months - since you all went to Copper Summit."

"But why?" Michael demanded. "What’s in this for you? You’re supposed to protect us!" He sounded absolutely devastated. I saw Maria move closer, put her arm around him.

It couldn’t be nice to learn that the one person you had always believed was there to look out for you was a betrayer as well.

"Do you think I want to stay on this God-forsaken planet?" Nasedo demanded. "I’ve been trapped here for over fifty years! It was never supposed to be this long. Dealing with Khivar and Nicholas was the only way to get back there. I faked my death so that Tess could infiltrate herself further. I knew that the King would feel that she was his responsibility - that if we could only keep him away from that one," He nodded towards me, "We’d be able to make a deal with Khivar." He was looking at Max, Michael and Isabel in disgust. "You are all so weak! Like babes in arms! It was going to be years before you had matured enough to be able to take us home."

"They’re going to kill us the minute we get back there, aren’t they?" Isabel asked, her voice practically frozen with hatred. She eyed Tess with disgust. "You are such an idiot! They were going to kill us! And Nasedo wouldn’t even care. He’d have had what he wanted. He would have been home." She sighed heavily. "I knew it was wrong. I knew it." She looked at Max, her lips pressed together. "We owe Liz and Maria our lives." She turned to me, then Maria, her eyes melting with emotion. "After all we’ve done to you, how can I ever thank you?"

"I think you just did." Maria replied, moving forward to hug her. "It’s not your fault Isabel."

Max’s sister began to cry. "It is. Poor Alex. He was killed because of us."

I looked at Max. He looked upset, like he was still trying to digest all of this information.

"What about Tess?" He asked, his tone barely controlled. He shook her hand off of his shoulder, where it had suddenly appeared. "What the heck do you have to gain out of any of this? I trusted you! What more did you want? Isabel is right. They would have killed us. All of us, including you."

"You." I said quietly. "She wanted you and she wanted to be the Queen." Max turned to look at me, his eyes unreadable. "She knew that if you stayed here, we would have eventually found our way back to each other." I smiled sadly. "It is what was meant to be all along I think. If not me than some other human." I added. I glared at Tess. "Isn’t that right Tess? You aren’t meant for each other at all anymore - are you? And because of that fact you were willing to take the slim chance that you MIGHT be able to survive a return to your planet."

Tess’s face was a mask of hatred. "You’d like to believe that, wouldn’t you Liz." But her tone indicated that I had hit the nail right on the head.

"It’s too late anyway." Nasedo inserted, sounding long-suffering. "You’d lost him before you ever got him here." He told Tess.

"What?" She screeched. "What do you mean?"

Nasedo indicated the pendant I was still clutching in my hands. "He gave that to her. She is his queen now."

I heard Maria gasp, saw even Max’s eyes widen with shock. I felt my heart stop.

And yet I wasn’t surprised. Not at all.

Nasedo shrugged, seeming resigned. "You are right Miss Parker. Tess lied. The four square were never meant to mate with each other. They were meant to bond with humans. The King is meant to have an heir with a human woman to create the ultimate ally. The entire human race." He added.

"Why are you telling us this now?" Isabel asked suspiciously. "Why should we believe you when all you’ve ever told us has been lies?"

"Believe what you will." Nasedo sighed. "I don’t care. It doesn’t look like I’m going anywhere." He sneered at Tess. "All because of you little idiot."

"We can still go!" Tess exclaimed. "We still know how the granolith works!" She looked at Max. "Come with me Max! You know you want to. Isabel, Michael! We can go home! We don’t belong here."

I could see Michael staring her, his face a mask of disgust. Isabel was looking at Max though. "What are we going to do Max?"

"We’re not going anywhere." Max said firmly. "Nasedo just told us we’re meant to be here, meant to be with humans." I saw him glance at me quickly, than look away. "I believe it. In fact its what I knew all along. I just forgot for a while." He glared at Tess.

"But, what our mother said in her message…" I could still hear tears in Isabel’s voice. "Max, we have to go back eventually - don’t we?"

Max was frowning. "I’m beginning to wonder how much of that message was real." He was eyeing Tess. "Mind-warping seems to be able to hide most truths, doesn’t it Tess?"

Tess paled, but she pressed her lips together, refused to answer.

Nasedo spoke up again. He was leaning against the wall of the pod chamber wearily. "It was all true." He pointed at me. "She saw it, didn’t she?"

I flinched. Had I ever. It had been one of the worst days of my life.

"So?" Max asked, clearly still hoping that his theory that the message was largely incorrect was true.

"She can’t be mind-warped. Not if she’s your chosen mate." Nasedo replied, sounding bored. "She’s your strength and your protection. She will always see clearly, especially when you cannot."

"That sounds familiar." Maria muttered under her breath. I heard Michael snort.

Max seemed perplexed. "Well then I do have to be with Tess…don’t I?" He looked at Michael and Isabel, then at me, his eyes meeting mine for a long moment. "Do any of you actually remember exactly what she said?"

"I for one don’t remember her saying ANYTHING about us having to be together." Michael said quietly. He looked at Isabel. "We never bought it Iz. She never said we had to be together, just that we had been. Basically she just gave us a bunch of information that did us more harm than good, mainly because we jumped to conclusions." He looked embarrassed for a moment. "We’re really good at that." He muttered. A saw Maria struggle to hide a smile.

"She told us to recognize our enemies by the evil within." Isabel added, glaring at Tess. "Gee, I wonder who she could have meant by that?" Tess sneered at her, tossed her blonde curls, not looking at all ashamed.

How on Earth could we have trusted her? Why hadn’t we remembered how she had used manipulation and deception when she had first arrived in Roswell?

None of us had been thinking clearly for a long time. And at least Max had an excuse. He had been practically mind raped.

But I couldn’t be mind-warped, if Nasedo was to believed, which was still questionable. What was my excuse? Why had I not seen that Max had not been acting like himself at all?

I flashed back briefly to that moment in the hallway, when I had been pursuing my investigation into Alex’s death like a mad-woman. He had grabbed my arm, completely out of control. Even HE had been shocked by it. That had NOT been Max.

I glanced at Max out of the corner of my eye. He was listening to both Michael and Tess intently. Then he turned to me, his eyes still impossible to read. I could tell exactly what he was doing. He was shuttering himself from all of this, actually, for once, refusing to allow himself to make a decision until he had all the facts.

He was behaving like a leader was supposed to. For the first time in a long time.

He was back. MY Max was back.

"Liz?" I realized that he was talking to me. "What do you remember?" He didn’t even bother looking at Tess as he continued. "I need to hear this from people I trust."

I swallowed, realized that his eyes were bright with some emotion, one I almost didn’t recognize it had been missing from them for so long.

Respect.

For me.

"I don’t remember her saying specifically that you had to be together." I admitted slowly. "I just know that we all assumed it."

"I’m done assuming. As far as I’m concerned that message is eradicated. It never happened. We are starting from scratch." Max said with finality. He turned back to Tess. "I want to know what you intend to do now but know that you are no longer welcome in Roswell."

Oh my God.

It had come back to this. What Future Max and I had done had not fixed anything.

"NO!" I managed to croak. "No! She can’t leave."

Max whipped around to stare at me. "Liz?"

"Max! I told you! You need her! It’ll all happen again if she goes! Alex…" I felt a sob welling up in my throat. "Alex will have died for nothing!"

"I have every intention of leaving." Tess sneered. "I’m going home, whether any of you are coming or not."

"Good riddance!" I heard Maria murmur.

"NO! Please!" I felt my knees beginning to give out on me. I could see the smirk of satisfaction on Tess’s face. That I was going to have to beg HER, of all people, to stay…

I had never hated as much as I hated in that instant.

The world was spinning. I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to scrape my nails across her smug face! I wanted to tie her up, make her stay.

I wanted to kill her.

For the first time in my life I actually wanted to kill another living being.

And suddenly everything came back into focus. I blinked.

Max was kneeling in front of me, his hands gently cupping my face. "Liz! It’s okay! We don’t need her! I swear its going to be okay."

"Max! You do! You need her!"

"No." He said firmly. "I’ll never need her. As long as I have you, I’ll never need anyone else. Didn’t you hear Nasedo? YOU’RE my strength. We don’t need her."

He was so sure. I almost believed him…

But I couldn’t quite let myself let go of my terror.

"You are the one Liz. I’ve told you that so many times, but I don’t think you ever believed me." Max was saying, his tone low so that only I could hear him. "I knew it from the first moment I laid eyes on you. I’m beginning to realize that it was fate that separated us from Tess. She is NOT one of us. It’s you. You’re the one." He ran his fingers through my hair. I felt myself becoming mesmerized by his voice, just like in those heady days when we had first fallen in love.

"Max…"

"You are my queen Liz. You are the fourth. I know it."

"But I’m human." I protested. "It can’t be!"

Max just smiled slightly. "I’m human too…mostly." He amended. "And I’ll never forget it again either. Exploring my…er… alien side - proved to be a bit more than I ever bargained for. It was wrong. On every level. As for you being one of us, it CAN be. It is. I know it. And we’re going to prove it." He spoke over his shoulder. "Michael. Get the orbs."

Max stood up, pulled me to my feet. All I could do was stare at him incredulously. "It was you who helped me find this in the first place Liz." Max said quietly as Michael handed him one of the orbs. "I should have realized it at the time, but it was a clue. It was the proof that you had already taken your place as one of us."

He looked over at Isabel and Michael. "We’re going to try this again. And this time we’re going to get the right message." He glared over at Tess. "If I see even one hint that you’re doing something, you’re going to pay. Do you understand me?" Tess scowled at him. Max narrowed his eyes. "Maria, please watch her."

"With pleasure." My best friend replied, looking like she’d be perfectly willing to toss Tess off the pod chamber cliff with very little urging.

Max stepped closer to me, gently took my hands and placed them around the orb with his. His touch was enough to make my heart start to beat faster. "Now close your eyes and concentrate." He instructed.

It happened almost instantly. The minute I closed my eyes, I felt the orb beginning to heat up in my hands.

Moments later, the beautiful woman was with us again. The one whose words had completely destroyed my world the year before. And yet she didn’t look evil. Not at all.

The message began exactly as it had the last time.

"If you are seeing me now, it means that you are alive and well. I take this form because it will be familiar to you, and it will help you to understand what I am about to say. You have lived before. You perished in the conflict that enslaves our planet but your essence was duplicated, cloned, and mixed with human genetic materials so that you might be recreated into human beings. My son, you were the beloved leader of our people. I have sent with you your young bride. My daughter, the man you were betrothed to, and your brother's second-in-command."

I felt a shudder pass through me at those horrifying words, almost instantly felt Max’s presence in my mind. **It’s all right Liz! It doesn’t mean anything! Listen to her words with your heart, not your mind.**

"Our enemies have come to the Earth. You will know them only by the evil within. Learn enough to use your skills, your knowledge, your leadership to combat the enemy so that you can come back and free us."

It was then that the message changed…

Something had been missing the last time.

"Spend your time on Earth wisely. You were sent there for a reason my beloved children. Do not allow what you believe to be true to blind you from what you KNOW to be true. Find the ones who are meant to help you, the ones that you are destined to trust that I may once again hold you both in my arms. I live for that moment. Help us. I love you."

I opened my eyes, felt my breath return to my body. Max’s eyes were open too. His pleasure was reflected on his face.

"It’s all true Liz." He finally said quietly after we had stared at each other in silence for quite a while. "I knew it all along but I did exactly what she just told us not to. I didn’t trust myself." He looked ashamed. "And I didn’t trust you."

I didn’t reply, just brought my hand up to his face in an attempt to comfort him. I had had enough of guilt.

I suddenly became aware of the bickering that was taking place behind us. "…her out of here! We don’t need her." Michael was saying, sounding relieved.

"I have every intention of going." Tess replied snootily, sticking her nose in the air.

I could not believe her. Even now she didn’t believe that she had done anything wrong!

"Not so fast." I said. "You still have some explaining to do Tess. What you did is criminal. We need to know exactly what you did and when. We deserve that much."

Tess just laughed nastily. "Like I’m going to tell you anything." Her expression changed suddenly, a speculative gleam in her icy blue eyes. "Well, maybe I’ll tell you one little thing…but only if you help me get the granolith ready first." She smiled sickeningly. "After all, with all of your silly investigating Nancy Drew, I guess you did find out something useful - how to get me home. The least I can do is give you the answer you REALLY want."

I felt the bottom drop out of my world again.

Alex.

She knew what had happened to him.

I felt the rage beginning to build within me again.

I wanted to kill her. I knew I was not the only one either. Michael was holding on to Maria, like he expected her to attack Tess if he let go. He actually looked like he wouldn’t have minded having a go at her either.

And Isabel. Well, steam was practically coming out of her ears.

But I wanted to know the truth more than I wanted revenge. I owed my beloved Alex that much.

We all did.

"Fine." I said evenly. "I hope you realize that it will give me great pleasure to see the back end of you." I couldn’t help but add, completely against my usual practice of biting my tongue.

But then the last few weeks had changed me.

I was not the same malleable Liz I had once been. My job was to see clearly. Nasedo had told us as much.

I looked over at the shapeshifter who was watching the proceedings without a shred of interest. Max apparently noticed the direction in which I was staring because he said, "Are you planning to join her?"

Nasedo just shrugged. "I don’t feel like committing suicide today." He replied. "Khivar is going to be one peeved usurper when she arrives without you."

I saw Tess flinch, but she stuck her chin in the air to hide it. She refused to back down, refused to admit that maybe they were not meant to go back to their planet, ever.

Her entire existence had revolved around the idea. She had committed heinous acts to advance her goal. She would not ever admit that perhaps she had been wrong.

Tess stepped over to the granolith. I followed her, the crystal Michael had handed me in my grasp.

"Tell me Tess." I ordered as she turned to look at me.

Her eyes glittered with something completely inhuman for a moment. I shuddered, realized that I was looking into the depths of pure evil. It had nothing to do with her being an alien either. Evil was evil, whatever form it came in. "Alex didn’t commit suicide Liz." She said. "In fact he was on his way to tell you all what he had discovered."

"How do you know this?" I demanded.

Tess just smiled serenely. "How do you think?"

And in that instant I knew. She had killed him. I just stared at her in shock as she laughed merrily, as though she had just told me a good joke.

She was insane.

I was still frozen with horror when she grabbed the crystal out of my hands and thrust it into the granolith’s mechanism.

And it was in that instant that I remembered what was going to happen.

"OH MY GOD!" I shrieked. "Tess! Get out of there!" I whirled, grabbed Max by the arm, hauling him over to me. "Max! We have to get her out of there! I totally forgot! That’s why we came here in the first place! The granolith is going to explode!"

Max’s face whitened. "Liz! Are you sure?"

"I’m sure!" I yelled. "She might be evil, but we can’t let her DIE!"

Max apparently believed me though because he was already closing his eyes, clearly going to try and connect with Tess, trying to warn her.

But it was already too late. Even now it had started to smoke…

"Hell! C’mon you two! There’s nothing we can do! It’s too late!" It was Michael. He was grabbing both Max and I by the wrists, hauling us out through the empty pods, although we both struggled against him.

We barely made it out of the cave before the explosion rocked the entire rock formation. Michael, Max and I were all sent flying.

"OH my God!" I felt tears well up in my eyes as smoke continued to billow out of the pod chamber entrance. "I killed her! I let her die!"

I was a murderer. I had known what was going to happen and I hadn’t done anything to stop it.

Max was already grabbing me by the shoulders, pulling me against him. "No Liz. It’s not true. It was an honest mistake. You couldn’t have stopped her anyway. She wouldn’t have believed you if you had told her."

I was still sobbing. "Alex! Oh my God! Max, she killed him! She told me as much!"

I felt Max flinch against me. His hands were combing through my hair, trying to console me. "Then she got what she deserved." He finally said evenly.

It scared me to the quick when I realized suddenly that I agreed with him.

What had she done to us?

Part 6 - Conclusion- Max POV

As I stare up at Liz’s balcony I suddenly feel like I have gone back in time - back to the day after I healed her, when we were just beginning to open ourselves to each other - to the night we first really connected, when we had seen each other’s souls.

Were we ever so innocent?

My memories are beginning to return to me - memories of knowing that something was not right with Tess, that everything was off with everyone.

I still blame myself for this whole debacle: Alex’s death, almost completely destroying my relationships with Liz and Isabel, nearly taking my sister and my best friend back to our world to certain death.

I cannot believe that I didn’t know what was going on. I had known the first time Tess had mind-warped me, back when she had first come to Roswell. What had been so different this time?

The answer is really quite simple of course. I know exactly what was different.

Liz.

The first time we were happy, completely trusting of each other and completely in love. We knew that nothing was ever going to come between us. Tess could do nothing to us back then.

It was true love, fate, completion, the whole stare into your eyes soul mate thing as Maria had teased me once during the summer when Liz was in Florida and we had plotted together how I was going to get her back.

The way I felt about her back then was the best thing about my life. It was like I didn’t start breathing until we were together. Hell, I didn’t WANT to breathe unless we were together.

Tess slowly but surely tore us away from each other. Beginning with the fake message from my mother, then through pretending that Nasedo had been killed, followed by making me feel responsible for her, and finally Alex’s death and making me feel like I hated Liz, which was of course the furthest from what I really should have been feeling.

It was a slow poison but it was an effective one.

And I let it happen. And that’s why the whole thing is my fault.

I knew from the first moment I ever laid eyes on Liz that she was my destiny, that saving her in the Crashdown that day was fate.

But I let pain and hurt blind me to the truth, all because of what I had thought had happened between Kyle and Liz.

Which was my fault too - or at least the fault of a bloody stupid future version of myself. I still couldn’t believe what an idiot that incarnation of me must have been. HE had spent fourteen years MARRIED to Liz. Hadn’t he known that he was nothing without her?

That I’m nothing without her?

I want it back.

I want the innocence back, the complete rightness of what we were supposed to share - ARE supposed to share. I want it all back.

I know that things will never be exactly the same. The innocence is gone forever. We can’t just erase it…and I don’t think we should.

We have to remember - have to remember how bad things get when we shut each other out, when we let others come between us. And it wasn’t just about me and Liz either. It was about all of us - what had been six, was now five, but the bonds that tied us together were still the bonds that also kept us strong.

The lesson has been hard - too damn hard - Alex will NEVER be replaced, even by Kyle, who is really now a part of it all too - but the lesson has been learned…at least by me.

I almost let it all slip away.

I just hope that it isn’t too late to fix things - or at least to try.

I had driven Liz home after the granolith exploded. There wasn’t much to say. We were both too weirded out to be able to have any sort of coherent conversation at the time, although she had been perfectly willing to allow me to hold her hand as we had climbed down from the pod chamber. We had agreed that we would discuss it all later, that we needed time to let what had gone on, what we had done, absorb.

I know that Liz feels terrible about what happened to Tess, in spite of what Tess was, which was pure evil. She blames herself, even after I told her that it was not her fault, that Tess killed herself in a way with her complete focus on what she wanted.

I can’t help but feel a sense of satisfaction that justice has been served.

A life for a life.

She killed Alex, one of the best people I have ever known. She got what she deserved.

I wonder if this complete lack of mercy is another part of my alien side rearing its ugly head. I have a feeling that when I was Zan, it might have been a large part of my make up.

I am going to have to fight it. But to do that I need my human side. And I need Liz to help me to keep it strong.

She IS the one. Nasedo said it. She’s my protector and my strength.

I need her.

We ALL need each other.

Maria and Michael went home together in the Jetta, likely straight to Michael’s apartment to make up for almost losing each other.

It is supremely ironic that the whole time that I have been making a complete mess of everything good in my life, Michael has finally been getting HIS life together. He knows what he has in Maria. He is willing to stay here to keep it.

My friend is a lot smarter than I ever gave him credit for.

Isabel is at home, probably flipping through college catalogues as I stare up at Liz’s balcony. I know that she is relieved that she is not going back to our planet. I still cannot say home - I am even less capable now. It is not our home.

Roswell is our home.

Liz Parker is MY home.

So I have to try. I have to try and fix things.

"Liz! Are you there?" I call up quietly. My heart is pounding at twice its normal speed.

There is no answer for what feels like an eternity. I feel my stomach clench, I begin to turn away…

And then suddenly she is there, her beautiful face gazing down at me, her dark hair falling around her shoulders. Her expression is guarded, but her eyes….

They are staring into my soul. Just like always, she is seeing ME.

"Max?"

"Can I come up?" I ask tentatively, biting my lip as I wait for her reply.

She doesn’t say anything for a long moment, but then her entire face lights up in a brilliant smile. Her eyes are shining with tears, but she’s nodding. "I had one horrible moment…I thought I was dreaming." She paused, shook her head forcefully, as though pushing away the doubts that were trying to claim her. "Of course. Of course you can come up." She said quietly, deliberately.

She wanted to fix this as much as I did.

I feel the air rush back into my lungs in a great woosh of relief.

And as I climb the ladder, that ladder I have climbed so many times before, but never with so much purpose or hope, I know that we will be fine.

It is not going to be easy.

It shouldn’t be.

But we are meant to be.

We will be.

The End









[ edited 1 time(s), last at 16-Jul-2002 10:30:09 PM ]