posted on 21-Feb-2002 1:26:09 PM
Crash and Burn

Author: leaving_normal (aka Jo)

Rating: PG-13 for now, but there will be NC-17 bits later

Disclaimer: Nothing to do with Roswell, none of the characters are mine… they belong to the Roswell creators…

Synopsis: This is a challenge response fic, but also loosely based on the song lyrics by Savage Garden. I’ll outline the challenge here:

1- Must be all couples M/L, A/I, M/M and any other couple you decide.

2- Okay now all of them must not know each other except (Liz and Michael because they are siblings) and if you choose to make any one else siblings also it's okay.

3- they are all sent to this sort of foster home (kind of like higher ground) because their parents died or whatever. They are all sent to this house in which they must live, it's kind of like a boarding school.

4- They all must meet for the first time and then you decided how the couples come together. Each person has to overcome whatever issue they have ( it must be bumpy at first)and you decided what, how and all that.

5- All characters must be very similar to the way they are on the show.

6- You can add any one else you choose

So basically, the Roswell gang are all alone, facing very different problems, until they’re all brought to the same foster home. This fic shows them dealing with their problems, becoming friends and making enemies… To give you a taste of what’s to come, there will be cat fights, all night parties, lots of tears, lots of couples getting together, it’s interesting who else will appear later in this fic!

Crash and Burn, Savage Garden

When you feel all alone,
And the world has turned its back on you,
Give me a moment please, to tame your wild wild heart,

I know you feel like the walls are closing in on you,
It’s hard to find relief,
And people can be so cold.
When darkness is upon your door and you feel like you can’t take anymore…

Let me be the one you call, if you jump I’ll break your fall,
Lift you up and fly away with you into the night.
If you need to fall apart, I can mend a broken heart,
If you need to crash then crash and burn you’re not alone.

When you feel all alone,
And a loyal friend is hard to find,
You’re caught in a one way street
With the monsters in your head.

When hopes and dreams are far away
And you feel like you can’t face the day…

Let me be the one you call, if you jump I’ll break your fall
Lift you up and fly away with you into the night,
If you need to fall apart, I can mend a broken heart,
If you need to crash then crash and burn you’re not alone

When you feel all alone,
And the world has turned its back on you,
Give me a moment please,
To tame your wild wild heart…

Let me be the one you call, if you jump I’ll break your fall
Lift you up and fly away with you into the night,
If you need to fall apart, I can mend a broken heart,
If you need to crash then crash and burn you’re not alone

posted on 21-Feb-2002 1:26:49 PM
Crash and Burn

‘And the world will never be safer than when you’re in my arms Lizzie’ I remember that night so well. I remember every little sound, every feeling, every smell. That was the last night I ever saw my dad. The last night that I ever, ever felt safe again.

Liz felt the wind run through her outstretched fingers, and felt the sun make her olive skin glow with happiness. She inhaled deeply, wishing to surround herself in the atmosphere of summer. She lay further back on the soft grass, watching as Michael played soccer with their dad. Michael would fake right, but her father knew it was coming. Liz sighed contentedly. This was where she loved to be. Under the sun, surrounded by everything, and everyone, she loved. She looked earnestly over to her brother. She smiled to herself. Every girl in Liz’s grade had wanted to be her friend when they’d found out who her brother was. Liz could hardly believe that they were related at times, the strong, athletically built Michael towered inches about Liz’s petite frame. Their interests also contrasted, she was a science-whiz whilst anyone was lucky to find a book in Michael’s room. He was the rebel, but no one could deny that Michael had a huge heart. And she loved him. Her loving gaze shifted towards her father. His muscular physique and broad shoulders meant that him and Michael were like walking clones, which Liz didn’t think Michael minded. But her father’s eyes matched hers, they were deep brown. Michael’s eyes were green, maybe even a little greyish, but Liz and her father shared the same chocolate brown eyes. She thought back and laughed when Michael had requested contact lenses, so that he’d look exactly like his father. She laughed as her dad threw Michael across the field, Michael laughing and retaliating, knocking her father flying. For as long as she could remember, Michael had idolised their father. He wanted to walk like him, talk like him, act like him, dress like him. She smiled lovingly, they were all so happy. Even now that mum had left, maybe it was for the best. They were the Parkers – and no one would ever break them apart.

Liz watched as the sky drew darker, and darker and darker still. A breeze picked up, and she lifted herself off of the grass. The rain began to drip out of the sky, as she began to call out to her father. She crossed her arms. Why couldn’t they hear her? She began to panic, and run towards them. But the faster she ran, the further away they were. She screamed as the thunder and lightening in the ebony sky transformed the peaceful scene into one of terror, and agonising familiar pain. She was in their house, about to watch it all happen again…

* * *

Michael swept his dark hair back off his face. He stood on the hard wooden floor of the dark room, as the pipes creaked in time to his shallow movements. His huge blue sweater covered his hands, as he grabbed onto them to keep himself warm. His bare feet were scratched and bleeding, but he couldn’t feel anything anymore. He couldn’t sleep anymore. He peered out of the shattered window, where the draft was coming through endlessly. It must have been just coming into the early hours of the morning.

‘I should really board that up,’ Michael thought subconsciously to himself. Of course, there wasn’t any point anymore.

The rain was coming down faster and faster, reflecting his present mood. It tapped on their old tin roof, and it was this that actually keeping Michael awake. When he was little, Michael had quite liked the sound. It was soothing, peaceful even. Now? Now it just meant that the roof needed fixing. His attention was brought back to reality by the murmuring coming from the double bed that him and Liz shared. They were too afraid to sleep alone at night. Sometimes, not that he’d admit it to anyone, he’d wake up and just watch Liz sleeping. Just watch her take slow and even breaths, and know that he wasn’t alone. He grimaced as his heart tugged at him, as he wished he could give her more. Her brown hair was spread all over the pillows, as she cuddled further and further into the covers for support,

‘ She’s having another bad dream,’ he realised, as he wandered his way over towards her. He past the dresser, placing his mug of semi-hot coffee on top of it. He climbed in beside her, leaving her wrapped up tightly in the covers, but shivering himself from the cold. A month ago, they’d had to move out of their nice suburban house. It was huge, they each had their own bedroom, and it was brightly decorated. All the colours of the rainbow coloured the walls, and photographs were found everywhere. Photographs of all three of them. But that had disappeared now, and appeared to be nothing but a dream. They had no family now, none at all. God knows where their mother was, and their father had never introduced them to any other members of the Parker family. Michael had once tried to bring up the idea of meeting Grandma and Grampa Parker, but received nothing but a sharp look. He assumed his father and his parents just didn’t get on well. Michael swallowed hard again, trying not to let himself cry. Now they lived in what could be described as a shed, and not a particularly nice one at that. It was wooden, cold and creepy. Michael had to fight anger, hatred and regret all at once, as well as focus on just keeping Liz breathing. She’d refused to eat or drink, or do anything that required moving. She’d just cried. They both had. They’d laid which each other, crying for days on end. When the funeral was over, people started asking questions… where would they stay? Who would take them in? It made Michael so angry; who were they to decide anything? They’d just lost their father! But he had no choice now. They were moving, moving to live with someone they didn’t even know. But at least they were going together.

Liz began to thrash out violently, shouting in her sleep. Michael’s grey eyes flickered in concern. He’d have to wake her up again. He knew what dream she was having – he’d had the same one every night since…. Well, since that night. Suddenly Liz’s eyes opened wide. She stared straight at Michael, tears glazing her frightened eyes, threatening to fall again. He gently pulled the hair back out of her hot face. She trembled, and whispered,
“ It was a dream wasn’t it? He’s not here anymore,” Liz quivered, making Michael’s heart break all over again. He nodded silently, as Liz closed her eyes and buried her head in the crook of Michael’s neck. She sobbed and sobbed, never running out of tears. Michael felt the violent tremors of her body run through his, as they lay together.

‘She needs so much more than this,’ he said, stroking her hair lovingly. She didn’t deserve this broken down house. She didn’t deserve to cry in pain every night. She deserved a family. Michael knew that this was the best thing to do, they had to leave this place. Liz had tried to calm herself down, but was still hiccuping through her tears. She turned to Michael again, grasping onto him tightly, so afraid that someone would take him away from her.

“ Michael?” she managed to whisper. Michael looked down into he scared brown eyes of his frightened baby sister, “ Please don’t leave me,” she finished, her voice quavering through her tears. That was it for Michael. His heart began breaking all over again, sending shoots of pain all through his chest. His eyes filled with tears, and the lump caught in his throat. She settled back down on his chest, her own chest still rising and falling erratically. He held her close. The tears silently slid down his cheeks, as he gave his sister another squeeze.

‘I’m never leaving your side,’ Michael whispered lovingly, careful not to let Liz hear the catch in his voice. He closed his eyes and tried to ignore the thumping in his head. He held Liz tightly in his arms, careful never, ever to let go.

* * *

It was near breaking day. The harsh New York sun was glazing the apartment. Climbing slowly from the table, to the chair, and finally to the large double bed in which Isabel slept peacefully in. The rising and falling of her chest showed her state of peacefulness, although, her outer physique didn’t quite match. Her long blonde hair could have made her the supermodel type – her long legs and perfect complexion would have completed the package. But that wasn’t Isabel’s style. Her blonde hair was streaked with purple, blue, orange, green – Isabel had lost count with the amount of colours in her hair. Her chunky platform boots weren’t exactly lady-like either. But Isabel didn’t care. She’d never cared. That’s why she lived the way she did. She rolled over and opened her eyes cautiously. Her eyes traced the features of the man she was lying next to. Isabel shrugged, knowing full well what had happened last night.

“ Well at least this one’s cute,” she thought to herself. She was still wearing her underwear. It obviously hadn’t been that good a night; usually she wasn’t wearing anything at all. She sighed unhappily. Why did she keep on doing this? It wasn’t even fun anymore. She woke up every morning next to a different guy, wondering how the hell she’d ended up there. Usually the result of some drunken party, or some wild trip with the fellas from Rachel’s Rat Shack. She sighed, as she searched for her other platform boot. No education, no home and no family had taken its toll on Isabel. And apparently, breaking and entering into a bowling alley was a result of her ‘mis-guided youth’. To Isabel, it was a result of being hungry and wanting something to do. What kind of a place was closed at one in the morning anyway? As a result of that final straw, as the authorities put it, Isabel would now go into a care facility until she turned eighteen. Isabel stretched and felt under the sofa, finding her other boot. She sat on the chair, trying to unbuckle it so it would shove onto her foot. Her contacts itched incredibly. She strode over to the mirror, and played with them. It wasn’t enough for Isabel to wear those clothes, that bright green mini-skirt and fuchsia pink tank top. She had to have the contacts that made her eyes swirl as well. She sighed, and wondered what she actually looked like under all that purple lipstick and blue eye-shadow.

‘Ah well, you’re not going to find out standing here all day’ she said to herself quietly, not disturbing what’s-his name who was still snoring in bed. As she passed the coffee table, she noticed his wedding ring on the table.

‘ Honestly, some people have no morals,’ she said with a fake disgusted grimace, laughing evilly as she took his wallet off the table. A girl had to live, didn’t she?

* * *
Maria shuddered, hearing her mother’s screams in the next room.

“ Please don’t take her away from me! He’s gone! He’s gone!” her mother cried in pitiful sobs. Maria rocked herself back and forwards on her bed. She wished they’d stop yelling, this was worse than…well, worse than what had been happening. Her mum couldn’t change anything, and to be honest Maria didn’t know if she wanted her to change anything. She brought her knees up to her chest, the way she always did when she needed to hold herself together. Goosebumps spread up and down her skin. Her door swung open, a man entered, followed by her frantic sobbing mother,
“ Come with me Maria,” the man said, holding out his hand. Maria cautiously began to move off her bed, and slide on her trainers. She looked up to her mother,
“ Don’t go honey, things are better now. They’re better now,” she coaxed. Maria’s eyes brimmed with tears again. She was leaving her family, her friends. She pushed her mid length blonde hair back off her face, and stood up with conviction. The man grabbed her bags off the floor and pushed violently past Mrs.Deluca, echoing to Maria to follow him. Maria bit her bottom lip to stop it from quivering. She looked up at her mother,

“ I’m sorry mum, I don’t have any choice,” she started through the tears, but Mrs. Deluca turned away to face the doorway. Maria’s hands shook, as she grabbed Truffles, her bear, off the side. She walked slowly out of her room, taking time to savour everything that was hers. She looked around the room one more time. This time tomorrow she’d be sleeping in someone else’s house, someone she didn’t even know. The thought terrified her. She closed the door behind her on the cries of her mother, and hastily left the house. She settled in the passenger seat of the man’s car, and as they pulled away from the only home Maria had known, she saw her mother come running out of the house. The man carried on driving, as Maria watched her mother disappear from sight in the rear-view mirror,

“ I love you mum,” she thought silently as the heavens opened and the rain began to pour.

* * *
Alex Whitman stood outside his sunny California home. His bags were at his feet, ready and packed. He wiped away the beads of sweat that were forming on his forehead. If his dad didn’t get here soon he’d have to walk to the airport. He sat down on top of his biggest suitcase. Trust his dad to be late. It was possibly the last time in years that Mr. Whitman would get to see his son, and he was still late. As if on cue, his father came speeding around the corner, stopping abruptly at Alex’s feet. The noisy car came to a halt with a screech. Alex looked up from his slump on the floor,

“ Load em up!” his father ordered. Alex sighed; this was obviously not going to be a big, heartfelt goodbye. He opened the trunk and put his few possessions into the back, and took a seat in the back of the car. When the engine started, he looked out the window, watching the scenery flash past.

“ This is only a temporary situation Alex,” his father said, taking off his reflective sunglasses. Alex hated those sunglasses, he could never tell if there was any kind of emotion in his dad’s eyes. His sharp military uniform said it all – he just didn’t have time to have a son. Surprisingly, this time, Alex wasn’t bothered. How many times had he been sent to live in a different town? With people he didn’t know? He’d lost count. Twelve, thirteen times probably. And that was only within the last year. It seemed people just couldn’t hold onto him, he’d only super glued his Principal to his chair, and accidentally nearly burned down the house trying to make toast. It wasn’t like it was his fault or anything. He sighed, it didn’t matter anyway.
“ Yeah dad, whatever,” Alex said tonelessly as they approached the airport. As they came to a halt, Alex opened his door and removed his luggage. Alex waited for his dad to get out of the car. But he just sat still in the front seat, looking straight ahead. Alex swung one of his bags over his shoulder and began to walk away,
“ Alex!” his father called after him. Alex sat his bags down and bent down by the window to hear his father’s last words,
“ There will be someone waiting to pick you up at the other end. You’re staying with someone called…”

“ Mr and Mrs Valenti, I know,” he said obnoxiously, trying to escape the clutches of his father. His father’s blue piercing eyes seemed to drill an imaginary hole through his forehead,

“ Try not to blow anything up.”

These were the famous last words of his father, as the car reversed, leaving Alex alone in the big airport. He tore his ticket out of his back pocket.

Flight 365 – non-stop to Roswell, New Mexico.

Great, Alex thought, Roswell, NM, where the fun never ends. He chuckled to himself, taking a deep breath and plunging straight into the crowds. He whistled merrily as he sat down in the departure lounge, thinking about the hilarious possibility of meeting any aliens in his new home…

* * *

Max Evans packed his last shirt into his duffel bag. His dark features and muscular frame couldn’t even hide the agonising pain he felt right now. Behind him, his foster family stood rigidly. His foster mother, April, stood close to tears, with the support of her husband George, who had his hand on their little five year old girl, Sophie. Turning around slowly, Sophie came running into his arms. Max held the little girl tight. He’d enjoyed living here for the past two years, he’d made a family, something he’d never thought he’d do before. Sophie tore away from him, her blonde curls getting wet with her tears,

“ Max please don’t go. We haven’t finished reading Charlottes Web yet,” she said, her chubby 5 year old hands grasping onto her bunny. The famous Mr.Wiggles hadn’t left Sophie’s hands since her first day in kindergarten, and Max doubted that she’d ever let go of him. She looked at him expectantly with her baby blue eyes. He smiled lovingly,

“ Your mum’ll finish it off with you. Won’t you mu… Mrs Miller?” he said, a lump in his throat. He’d nearly called her mum. Obviously she’d recognised his mistake, as her eyes began to fill with tears again. She grabbed Sophie’s hand,

“ Come on Sophie, Max and your father have to talk before he goes,” she said, trying to tug the little girl away from Max. Her little arms gripped strongly onto his neck, not wanting to let go. Max tried again to stop the tears from falling. He stood up, as Sophie wrapped her legs around his waist,

“ Come on Soph, I’ll visit, I promise. Go with your mum now, I think I smell cookies!” he said bravely. The little girl reached out for her mother, as she took her into her arms. She smiled thankfully at Max,

“ Thank you Max. Have a safe journey,” she said civilly. Sophie leant over and kissed Max on the cheek,

“ You can still be my big brother, even if you’re going to be far far away. I’ll still love you. And I’ll send you all my pictures. And you can have him…” Sophie said as she kissed Mr. Wiggles on the head and handed him to Max. Max gulped again, as he took the teddy out of her hands,

“ Thank you Sophie. I’ll make sure Mr. Wiggles is very happy. Be good okay?” he said as he waved her goodbye. They left his room. Max was left alone with Mr. Miller again. He bent down to pick up his bags, but Mr. Miller caught him by the hand,

“ Max, we want you to know that it’s only because of what happened, with you and that girl,” he stopped, feeling the muscles in Max’s arm tighten. Max looked at Mr. Miller, his grey eyes showed compassion and remorse, but that didn’t make him feel any better. He knew he was innocent, Max nodded,

“ I understand Mr. Miller. If I was in your situation, I’d do the same thing,” he said rationally, knowing that he’d never send his adoptive son out to yet another foster home. Not for something that no one could prove he had done. Not for something he knew he hadn’t done. Mr. Miller pulled a $20 bill out of his wallet and held it out to Max. Max shook his head,

“ I don’t need your money. You gave me a family, Mr. Miller, and for that I’m really grateful. Just look after Sophie for me okay?” Max said, picking up his bags and walking slowly out of the room. Max put his bags in the back of his jeep, and settled Mr.Wiggles down beside him in the passenger seat. He turned the key in the ignition, and began to make the eight-hour journey to his new home, in Roswell, New Mexico. He past all the familiar sights, and it was the sight of Tess Harding laughing with all her friends which made him sick to the stomach…

* * *

“ Jim, is everything ready?” Amy Valenti called upstairs from the spacious kitchen. She wiped down the surface for the millionth time as Jim came trotting to join her. He placed his arms around his wife,

“ Amy, the kids are going to love it here. And they’re going to love you,” he said as he kissed her on the nose. Amy smiled, though it didn’t ease away the butterflies in her stomach. She sighed and put down the dishcloth.

“ What was I thinking Jim? I’ve just taken on six teenagers. They’re all going to hate me,” Amy said, beginning to get flustered again. Jim smiled lovingly at his wife. This was her dream – their dream – suddenly coming to life. The Valenti Household, as they had named it, was a foster house, set up for teenagers who just needed to get away from everything and start a new. It’d been their dream ever since college. Amy began to look through the fridge again, counting the amount of Cokes and candy bars they bought. Jim laughed lovingly,

“ These kids aren’t going to know what hit them. They’ve got the best mum ever, don’t worry, just take it as it comes honey. But just remember, these kids have been through a lot, you know, about them being uh, well…”

“ Special?” Amy volunteered, closing the fridge again. She nodded her head, “ I know Jim, I just want them to have a nice ordinary life.”

“ And so we bring them to Roswell, home of the extraordinary!” Jim joked, his loving grey eyes dancing. Amy smirked,

“ I know, I know. I sorted out a couple of waitressing jobs, and some stuff at UFOnics, and oh, the museum…” Amy said, running the list off on her fingers. She stared up at the clock nervously.

“ Remember these kids might want to do some of these things themselves,” Amy’s eyes opened wide in fear,

“ I’ve gone over the top! What should I do Jim what should I do??” Jim chuckled again, trying to calm down his wife. He smiled gently,

“ You go and open the door and smile honey, I think the first two are here already,” he said with a light kiss. She took a deep breath and wandered through the lounge and opened the front door, waving to the small brunette and tall, muscular boy who were now approaching the doorway.

Relax and breathe Amy, relax and breathe!

* * *

posted on 21-Feb-2002 1:27:25 PM
Part 2

Liz cautiously approached the woman standing in the doorway of what was to be their ‘new home’. The very thought of it made Liz sick to the stomach. She didn’t need a new home, she didn’t need anything. All she needed was her father back.

‘ Stop it Liz,’ she commanded herself, ‘you’ve got to give this a go.’ She took her bags out of the taxi, struggling with their weight. After all, she’d had to pack up every aspect of her life for the last sixteen years. She wasn’t exactly travelling light. Michael broke out into a grin when he saw her struggling, but instead of making some witty comment about how inferior girls were, he’d just picked up a couple of boxes and started to approach the doorway. She was glad the teasing would wait. The butterflies in her stomach began to mount, as she smiled timidly at Mrs. Valenti.

“ Hi, I guess you must be Liz and Michael?” the woman said. The woman was quite pretty, with short brown hair that was quite highlighted. Liz struggled to smile, finding it all too hard to take it. Michael rested a box on the ground, as he wiped his hand on his back pocket and stuck it out to shake Mrs. Valenti’s hand. Mrs. Valenti laughed,

“ Michael, please, I’ll feel like a business associate! There’s no need to be so formal. Do you want me to help you inside with your bags?” she asked, as she began to walk up to the taxi. Liz grabbed her bags protectively,

“ I’m fine,” she ordered hastily, before feeling really rude and adding a quiet “thank you.”

Mrs Valenti seemed quite unfazed by Liz’s reaction, and began to help Michael inside with some of his boxes. Michael looked over his shoulder at Liz, and raised his eyebrows. She knew that look. God, she’d invented that look. That look meant,

“ Come on Liz, please, for me?”

She smiled vaguely; at least some things would never change.

* * *

Michael let out a low whistle as he walked through the threshold. Jim smiled,

“ Quite a house huh?” he said, whilst Michael put down a box of miscellaneous belongings. Michael looked around. The front door had led them straight into a huge living room. Above him, the timber supports were visible in the roof, so much so it felt like they were in an old barn. Looking around the area, he saw two sofas and a couple of armchairs, which surrounded a 32” wide screen television. Liz set down the box she was carrying, and looked around too. She was amazed at the size of the house. When Michael had broken it to them that they were going to be fostered, she’d cried. She didn’t want to leave familiarity; she liked her quite town life. She’d imagined some trailer park, where the people only fostered for the monthly cheque. She’d imagined crying herself to sleep in a cold, damp room, hearing screams of violence around her. But as she did a double take, and looked at the homely environment that was laid out in front of her, she started to ease a little. Michael stuck out his hand to Mr. Valenti, and Mr. Valenti shook his hand back.

“ This is a really nice house you have Sir,” Liz piped up, still amazed by her surroundings. Michael nodded,

“ We’re really glad to be here, Mr. Valenti,” Michael said, trying not to sound too fake. Sure, he was totally impressed by his surroundings, but it was nothing compared to his real home. The home that held every memory of his father. Michael felt a familiar lump rise up to his throat,

‘ Hold it together Michael. These people are going to think you’re a nutcase if you breakdown within the first five minutes you meet them!’ he told himself, forcing himself to take a deep breath. Amy laughed as she came through the door with another bag,

“ There’s no need to be so formal, honestly. Just call us Jim and Amy, that is, unless you’re uncomfortable with that?” Amy’s eyes flickered, as she brushed her hands down on her trousers. Liz smiled vaguely, Amy was really trying hard to make them feel welcome, and she’d just acted really cold towards her. Liz got that feeling in her stomach – the one she always got when she felt bad. She cleared her throat,

“ Sure, Amy,” she said with a warm smile. Michael came next to her and gave her a squeeze, showing his support. There was an awkward silence, until Jim said,

“ Well, seeing as you’re early why don’t you go on ahead and start settling in. The other’s will be here in an hour or so, dinners already cooking. Amy, do you want to show Liz to her room?” Amy nodded enthusiastically. Jim motioned for Michael to follow him, as they walked into the back room.

Liz became nervous when it was only she and Amy left in the room. She shuffled her feet uncomfortably, Amy bent down to pick up a box, giving her a sidewards glance,

“ This is all pretty scary huh?” Liz lifted her head to see Amy holding a box of hers. Liz nodded silently, still shuffling her feet,

“ I’m sorry if I seemed rude outside, I’m just a bit, well, you know. All over the place,” Liz said, with a slight smile. If she was going to live with these people, she had to make an effort to get on with them, and besides, Amy seemed really nice. At Liz’s words Amy’s eyes instantly brightened,

“ Oh Liz, I really don’t want you to worry about anything like that. You’re going to be living with people you’ve never met. That’s really scary!” Liz smiled, as her brown eyes began to fill with tears. She wasn’t being patronised; Amy really did mean what she said. For the first time since her father’s death, someone wasn’t taking pity on her because she was an orphan. Amy just wanted her to feel comfortable. Finally, she was being treated like a human being again.

Brushing her eyes discreetly to wipe away any tears that were mounting, Liz motioned to the stairs towards the back of the room,

“ So, is my room upstairs?” she said quietly. Amy nodded,

“ I’ll take you up. Do you want a hand?” Liz nodded gratefully. She took a deep breath and began to scale the stairs, carrying two boxes carefully balanced on top of each other. Amy chattered on behind her,

“ You’ll be sharing a room with another girl, she’s your age,” Amy said. Liz was a bit alarmed.

What if the girl didn’t like her? What if the girl snored? What if she was really rude and horrible?

‘ Oh god, please just let me get through the day,’ Liz thought, as Amy led her to the second door on the right. She desperately wondered where Michael was, right now, he was the only one who’d make her feel safe.

* * *

“ Does it look okay to you?” Jim said, opening the door to Michael’s bedroom. His eyes widened again. Okay? Was this guy kidding? Laid out before him was the kind of boy’s bedrooms you saw on T.V. The room was longer than it was wide, so that it was kind of rectangular in shape. At both ends of the room there were two single beds, Michael sat his box down on the nearest one,

“ Am I sharing with somebody?” he asked cautiously. His bed was already made up with a blue bed spread, which matched the walls. Behind his bed there were shelves, and a bedside table with a lamp to the left side of his bed. The room was pretty empty, waiting to be filled up with all of the guy’s ‘junk’, as Jim had referred to it in a previous conversation with Amy. Jim smiled,

“ Actually you’ll be sharing the room with two other guys. If you look round the corner of the room, it kind of bends so there’s more room at the other end for three beds. It’s okay cos the room isn’t small. Is it okay for you Michael?”

Michael nodded, making his way to the other end. Where he had thought it was rectangular, it had a kind of alcove bit just off centre, where there was another bed. Michael turned around,

“ This is just great. Wow, I’m kind of lost for words,” Michael said, beginning to investigate the room, pulling out drawers, and noticing there was a hi-fi system on one of the shelves in the middle of the room. Michael’s eyes opened wide,

“ This is for us?” he asked, already knowing the answer. Jim smiled again,

“ This wasn’t what you were expecting huh? To be honest Michael, this isn’t a state run foster home. I’m not going to lie to you, because I want our relationship to get off on the right foot. Amy and I can’t have children, and so when we came into a bit of money, quite a lot of money, we opened the Valenti household. Your Principal sent us yours and Liz’s details,” he said, Michael sat down. Jim leant on the sideboard behind him,

“ Right. Well, I suppose it doesn’t make any difference. There’s just one thing I wanted to talk to you about,” he started, raising his eyebrows. Jim nodded, waiting for him to continue,

“ It’s Liz, she’s still really upset about our father…” his voice trailed off. Jim nodded, and his eyes focussed on Michael in an understanding way. His hair was greying slightly, but his eyes were somewhat young at heart. He smiled, and patted Michael on the back,

“ I know Michael, and we’re not going to talk about it until you want too,” he said, as he prepared to leave the room. Michael stopped him,

“ No sir, it’s just that I wanted to warn you not to call her honey, or sweetheart or anything like that. Things like that, the pet names that Dad used to call us, it still upsets her. So, I’m just telling you, so no one gets hurt,” Michael said, his greeny-grey eyes dead serious. Jim nodded humbly,

“ I’ll tell Amy. Thanks Michael. Go on, start unpacking your stuff,” he said as he turned and left the room. Michael took a deep breath, well, things were going okay. For now.

* * *
Liz started to tear off the brown tape to one of her boxes. This was weird, really weird. At the moment, nothing had really hit her. Here she was, in her new room, unpacking all of her belongings. It was like some weird dream or something. She sighed as she felt into the box, drawing out a photo frame. Liz had chosen the bed near the window, right next to an old mahogany desk. Amy had obviously decorated the room herself, with purple walls and silver stars dotted around the room.

She looked at the photo frame in her hands. It was a picture of herself, Michael and their father. She smiled, lovingly tracing her father’s face. She sat it down on her bedside table, where the picture had been since her father had died. It felt comforting to have him looking over her. Liz took out another possession, this time her journal. Liz touched it, inside were all her memories since she had turned sixteen, not so long ago in fact. It was a present from Michael, but she guessed her father had given him a bit of help. Liz smiled again; at least she had some stuff to remind her of what home really was.

Liz jumped when she heard something come crashing up the stairs, and quickly opened a drawer in her desk, thrusting her journal inside. She stood up as the bedroom door flew open, followed by a blonde girl of about Liz’s height. On instinct Liz rushed to help the girl who was struggling to balance a number of large boxes in her hands. Liz grabbed a box off the top and set it down on the other bed which had been positioned opposite to Liz’s. The blonde girl’s cheeks were red, and it had obviously been a struggle getting up the stairs. The girl smiled timidly,

“ Thanks! I shouldn’t have tried to carry al those boxes up the stairs at once!” Liz shook her head as the girl began to rummage through her bags. The girl seemed kind of scatty, but she seemed nice enough.

“ Ah hah!” The girl cried, bringing out a bottle with a purple substance in it. She held it up to her nose and breathed in its essence. Liz giggled, amused by the sight. The girl stopped,

“ Oh my god, you must think I’m completely crazy or something! It’s aromatherapy. Lavender, meant to help reduce stress,” the girl explained, motioning for Liz to take a seat beside her. Normally Liz was really shy around people, and hardly ever made new friends. But this girl, she thought, she just seemed to click with. The way she acted around her, it was as if they’d known each other for years. Liz sat down beside her, as she threw the bottle underneath her nose,

“ You can keep that one, I’ve got loads! Which bed do you want?” the girl said, running around the room to investigate. Finally she sat back down on the bed and sighed. Liz giggled again. This woman was obviously a complete nutter,

“ I am so sorry. It was a really long flight, and I think you can guess that I drank quite a lot of coffee. I’m so nervous right now, and usually I wouldn’t tell this to anyone, but I guess we’re kind of in the same boat so I -”

“ Breathe!” Liz said, breaking the girl’s continuous sentence. They both grinned at each other. The girl held out her hand,

“ I’m Maria Deluca,” she said. Liz took her hand and shook it lightly,

“ Liz Parker,” she replied. The girls giggled again, both relieved that they’d met someone. Maria stood up again,

“ Do you think I’m crazy?” she asked, beginning to investigate the room again, this time a bit slower. Liz shook her head,

“ I did at first, but now I see you’re running on caffeine. I kinda thought about having the bed near the window, if that’s okay with you?” Liz said, returning to the bed se had claimed for her own. She wondered over to meet Maria by the window, where they watched as a boy drove into the driveway in a red jeep. Maria waved a hand dismissively,

“ Yeah sure, that’s fine. This is all a bit weird, isn’t it?” Maria said, tying her blonde hair back with a scrunchie. Liz nodded furiously, glad that she could finally talk about this with someone,

“ Yeah totally,” Maria replied something, but Liz didn’t quite hear her. Her eyes were transfixed on the guy who was grabbing his bags out of the front seat of a jeep…

* * *
Max greeted Jim and Amy as he came through the doorway, and exchanged a few pleasantries before running his stuff up to his room. He’d been here before, the Millers had brought him up to introduce him to his new foster family, thinking it’d be easier for him to re-adjust.

‘ Yeah, readjust.” Max thought as he pushed open a door.

Lost in his own thoughts, he didn’t realise there was another boy unpacking his stuff in the same room. He’d settled his stuff in the bed in the alcove, and turned around, searching for something to say. The boy looked at him. On first glance, Max thought the guy was kind of odd. His hair was long, and he looked like he hadn’t slept in weeks. Sizing him up, Max thought he could have been around the same age as him, maybe a year older. The guy was the first to speak,

“ Hey, I’m Michael,” he said, holding out his hand. Max looked at the guy,

“ Max Evans,” he said coldly, before turning back to unpack his belongings. Michael raised an eyebrow, this guy obviously wasn’t a talker.

“ So, what music you into?” Michael asked casually.

‘ You’ve just walked into a foster home where none of us have any parents, and you’re asking the guy what kind of music he’s into?’ Michael thought silently. What else was he supposed to say? How did your parents die? That’s not exactly welcoming.

Michael shifted uneasily; there was something about the guy that was scary. It was like he walked in the room and just breathed power.

“ I’m just going to get another box,” Michael mumbled as he made a quick exit though the door and down the flight of stairs.

‘ That guy really creeps me out,’ thought Michael, as he approached the doorway.

* * *

Alex stumbled through the open doorway, looking around the place. Man, this place was huge. He sat down his shoulder bag, as the military man his father had arranged to pick him up started to bring his boxes through to the living room. A tall, muscularly built guy who looked about eighteen came running down the stairs, heading towards him. The guy looked slightly spooked, and Alex tensed up a bit, thinking of his own not-so-muscular physique. Alex gulped, admitting that next to this guy, he was a string bean. Surprisingly, the guy just offered his hand,

“ Hey, I guess you’re another homeless victim?” Michael said, firmly gripping the guy’s hand. Alex’s eyebrows furrowed in concentration.

“ That’s me. Just be sure to keep all electrical goods out of my reach,” he added with a slight grin. Michael laughed, not quite understanding the guy’s joke. Alex came inside and whistled,

“ Is this for real?” he said, not to anyone in particular. Michael too took a better look around the place.

“ You think this is good? Wait till you see our room!” Michael said, actually starting to get excited. It was hard for him. On one hand, he was being torn from everything he’d ever known. On the other hand, he was walking into a mansion. He thought that maybe he’d figure it out later,

“ Our room? Are we sharing?” Alex asked, starting to pick up one of his bags. The military guy came through and handed him his guitar,

“ We shall depart now, Sir!” the military person said, clicking his heels behind him. Michael raised his eyebrows, whilst Alex just patted the guy on the back,

“ Tommy, you don’t need to call me Sir, and yeah, go on, get outta here.” With an unsure nod, ‘Tommy’ left the room, leaving Michael flabbergasted,

“ Are you like, a criminal or something? What’s with the military accompaniment?” Michael said, watching the military jeep reverse out of the driveway.

“ Long story. So, you gonna show me to our room? I’m Alex by the way,” Michael nodded. Michael looked at the living room, which was beginning t look like a cheap garage sale with the amount of boxes in it. He picked up one labelled ‘Metallica’ and began to haul it upstairs,

“ Michael. Yeah, we’ve got a huge room, though the guy we’re sharing with seems a bit of a weirdo,” Michael commented. Alex trailed behind him, hoping everyone would all be as easy to get on with as Michael.

* * *

“ Is everything okay?” Amy asked as she set down the salad on the kitchen table. Liz sat opposite Michael, they were the only two at the dinner table at the moment. Everyone had all had a chance to unpack, and were starting to settle into the house. Liz had had a nice chat with Maria, and she seemed nice enough. Michael had told her about this weird guy he was sharing a room with, but had said another guy, Alex she thought it was, was cool enough. Liz twiddled her fingers, the way she always did when she was nervous. Amy called up the stairs again,

“ Guys, foods ready!” she called again. She walked back into the kitchen and took a place at the end of the rectangular table, with Jim at the other end. Liz watched as Maria came through the doorway, and sat down next to her. Michael kicked her underneath the table,

“ Oh yeah, Maria this is Michael, my brother. Michael, Maria,” Michael gave a nod, and Maria smiled.

“ Nice to meet you,” Maria smiled, and by the look on her face, she was really pleased to meet him. Liz smiled gently; it looked like her new friend had a crush on her brother. A tall, somewhat lanky guy wearing some baggy jeans and a long t-shirt came in next, who Liz guessed was Alex. He took a seat next to Michael.

“ Hey everyone. I’m Alex, and I’m really hungry,” he announced, Maria giggled again. Obviously the caffeine hadn’t worn off yet.

“ I’m Maria, and this is Liz and Michael. They’re brother and sister,” Maria stated matter-of-factually. Alex nodded,

“ Nice to meet everyone. So, is dinner done?” he asked Amy. She laughed,

“ Yes Alex, we’re just waiting for Max to join us. Jim, wasn’t Isabel meant to be here by now?” Jim shrugged,

“ There’s bound to be traffic. She’s coming all the way from New York,” Jim said, explaining to the rest of the group. Maria’s eyes lit up. New York, she’d always dreamed about going there and starting up her singing career.

Liz sat up straighter in her chair as Max entered. Liz gulped as Max skimmed past her chair and took a seat next to Maria. He was amazingly good looking. She thought that maybe it was his eyes. She’d walked into Michael’s room earlier and caught sight of him.

This was Liz Parker. The girl who hadn’t even kissed a boy yet. Well, she’d kissed a boy, but nothing special. Nothing that made her tremble all over. Why was she feeling this way about a boy she’d only just met?

He sat down at the table, not saying anything. Michael gave her one of those, ‘I told you so’ looks; trying to prove a point that this guy was weird. Liz raised her eyebrows. There was hush around the table again,

“ Everyone, this is Max Evans. That’s Michael, Alex, Liz and Maria. So, are we all okay?” Amy asked nervously, trying to break the tension.

“ I am really really hungry!” Alex said, making Liz and Maria smile again. He hastily added,

“ But, this is also a really nice house Mrs. Valenti. Now can we eat?” Liz laughed again, as Amy took three quiches out of the oven,

“ I really didn’t know what to make, so I’m afraid it’s a bit mix and match tonight,” she said, setting the quiches down on the table, next to three different kinds of meat, so buttered bread, so french fries, and a huge salad.

“ It looks great Amy,” Jim said as he took some salad out of the bowl. There were murmurs of agreement that flooded the table. All of a sudden, Liz didn’t feel hungry. This reminded her too much of home. Sitting around the table, eating dinner. That was something families did. They weren’t a family, they were strangers. Liz took some salad and passed the bowl onto Michael.

“ I thought we could discuss some house rules over dinner, you know, just the basics.” Amy said, Alex moaned a little,

“ I know this was too good to be true. What is it, one of those, you-can’t-leave-the-house-unless-we-say-so kinda deals?” Alex said, shovelling food into his mouth like he’d never eaten before. Maria laughed at his forwardness,

“ No Alex, we’ve only got a couple of rules. Jim and I would like you to stay in tonight, maybe get to know each other a little. Otherwise, we’d like you to be in at around 11pm on a school night at the very latest, and at the weekend, that can be extended to 1am, as long as we know where you are. Those are basically the only rules we’ve got. Apart from the universal rule, boys, leave the toilet seat down,” Amy said, winking at Alex who pulled a fake ‘moi?’ expression. The doorbell rang,

“ That’s probably Isabel, Amy, shall we go and greet her?” Jim said. Amy dotted her mouth with a napkin and they started to walk out of the Spanish decorated kitchen.

“ Isabel – Michael, I’m claiming her. Isabel seems like a nice name – I’m imagining tall, blonde, big-” he stopped when Michael elbowed him in the ribs,

“ What? I was going to say big feet!” Alex said innocently,

“ There is no way you guys are going to take priorities on who’s going to have Isabel. She’s probably a really lovely, shy girl. I will not let you two corrupt her,” Maria said, adding emphasis by stabbing her salad.

“ Killjoy,” Michael murmured, Maria shot daggers at him,

“ What did you say?” Maria said, Michael looked at her, ready to retaliate, but Isabel had just entered the room.

And the room went silent.

Before them stood Isabel. Complete in a bra-like fuchsia pink top, and lime green skirt, ripped fish-net tights and heavy boots. Liz tensed up a bit. Maria shot a look at Alex.

Max looked up from his dinner. Catching sight of the girl named Isabel; he’d had to do a double take. He’d hoped no one had noticed the low squealing noise he had made when she had entered the room, and she had obviously recognised him too. His eyes searched hers, but he couldn’t find any words to talk with.

“ Everyone, this is Isabel Ev-”

“ Just Isabel,” she said forcefully, staring at Max. Max went back to eating his dinner, trying to act normal. She sat down next to Alex, who visibly tensioned at the very brush of Isabel against him. She slumped in her chair,

“ Isabel, this is Michael and Alex, and this is Liz, Maria and lastly Max,” Amy said, making her way around the table. Isabel stared at Max; her contacts making her eyes seem the work of the devil,

“ Hey Max,” she said, with a hint of sarcasm lining her words. Maria turned to Liz and mouthed,

“ Oh-my-god!” to her. She had to agree, this girl was totally, uh, weird. Max gulped,

“ Hey Isabel, so, um, how was your flight?” Amy said, trying to ease the situation. Isabel just looked at her. It was so quiet you could hear the sound of their knives and forks scratching the plates. Isabel stood up,

“ I don’t do chatter. Where is my room?” Alex stood up,

“ I’ll take you there,” he said bravely, standing up. Isabel must have been a good two inches taller than him, but he hid his fear well,

“ No thanks, I don’t do geeks either,” she said with a sharp turn and walked up the stairs. Liz’s mouth was wide open, as Jim and Amy followed her up the stairs.

“ Oh wow, Alex, d’you know what, you can have her. All yours, I won’t even try to take her off your hands,” Michael said with a slight grin. Liz giggled,

“ Well, you know, if she washed those colours out of her hair, and um… Well she’s not my type really…” Alex said, looking around the table,

“ Are there anymore fries?”

* * *
It was getting on for near midnight, but Michael and Alex were still strumming away in their bedroom,

“ How long have you played for?” Alex said, strumming lightly on his base guitar, Michael shrugged,

“ Two, three years. My dad taught me,” Michael said, strumming his acoustic. Alex nodded,

“ Wish my dad had time to teach me. Always off fighting some war,” Alex said, as he leapt off his bed and walked towards the window. Michael swallowed hard,

“ Yeah well, just be glad you’re dad’s still alive,’ Michael said bitterly. Alex turned around,

“ Oh hey, I’m sorry man I didn’t mean to-” but Michael cut him off,

“ It don’t matter. We’re all strangers you know. Just don’t mention dads around Liz. She’s still really upset,” Michael said, still strumming away. Alex’s eyebrows merged as he asked,

“ What happened?” he said softly, sitting on his bed. Michael sighed. It was bound to come up sooner or later; it may as well come up now.

“ There was a storm one night. Liz’s always been afraid of thunder and lightening, so dad used to get up and stay with her until she fell asleep. So he’d got up, and started to go into her room, but we weren’t alone in the house-”

Michael was interrupted by a sharp knock on the door. Jim walked in,

“ Everything okay?” he asked, popping his head around the door. Alex nodded,

“ Yeah, yeah, fine,” he said, picking up his guitar again. Jim looked around the room,

“ Have you seen Max?”

* * *

Liz opened the door to the study. Inside loomed the dusty smell she loved about the library. She’d been amazed to find out hat the Valenti’s had a library all of their own. Wandering her way through, past bookshelves upon bookshelves of books, she walked straight into someone.

“ Oh I’m really sorry,” she said, as she knelt down to pick up the book he had dropped. She looked up into the eyes of the boy,

“ Max right?” she said uncertainly. He nodded. His brown eyes were intense, as they stood there for minutes, just looking at each other. His eyes were flickered with Amber specks. Liz looked at the book in her hands,

“Astro-physics,” she read, Max nodded again, taking a seat on the sofa behind them. Liz took it as an invite to sit next to him. She looked at him,

“ Can you actually talk?” she asked him, he laughed. He looked at her again. She had the most beautiful eyes, and there was something about her hair that just made him want to touch it. He shook away those feelings; he didn’t even know her!

“ Yeah I can talk. Sorry, this has all just been a little weird today, I think I creeped your brother out by being so quiet,” he said, taking his book off her. She looked down at his hands, and instantly wanted to entwine her fingers with his,

“ I know what you mean. Do you want to, like, talk about it? The weirdness I mean.” Liz asked,

‘ Liz, what are you doing? You don’t even know this boy!’ she told herself. But she wanted to know, she wanted to know why he was so quiet, why he didn’t say anything. But what she really wanted to know is why she felt so drawn towards him. Why did he want to know everything about him?

“ I don’t know if I can,” he whispered. Liz nodded,

“ I understand. Michael just seems to tiptoe around the subject when he’s around me. He doesn’t want it to be real because him and dad were really close,” Liz said biting her lip. Why was she telling him this?

‘Because it’s nice to have someone to talk to’ a little voice inside her said. Max squeezed her hand gently, and a million different feelings ran through Liz. He took his hand away,

“ I’m sorry. I guess he’s not with you anymore?” Max said, Liz nodded sadly, and leant back in her chair. There was something so normal about sitting here with Max, like she could have done it a million times before.

“ Yeah, he was killed two months a go,” she said in a whisper, as she lightly dabbed her eyes with the sleeve of one of Michael’s jumpers that he’d leant her.

Max sat back in the chair. She was crying, but what could he do? There was something so right about this. He wanted to sit and talk to her for hours. He’d known from the very first moment that he’d seen her that there was something about her. He couldn’t just let her cry,

“ I’m sorry,” he murmured, as he slipped his two strong arms around her. He rested her head on his chest. This was weird, really weird. She’d just met this guy, and now she was sharing a cuddle with him?

But this felt right. To both of them.

When she cuddled Michael, she felt secure and loved. But resting her head against Max’s chest, and hearing his heart murmur, she was sure there was nothing brotherly about this.

Max rested his head on top of hers. He couldn’t believe he was doing this. Weeks after Tess had... Tess. He’d thought of her. Suddenly, all the images of that night came flooding back to haunt him,

“ Tess? Are you okay?” he’d asked, touching her lightly on the shoulder. She’d turned to look at him, tears in her frightened baby blue eyes. It was a cold night, and she was sitting on the park bench all alone. It wasn’t safe.

The next thing he knew, Tess was screaming.

Then the whole town was talking about him.

And his foster parents were making him leave.

Max was suddenly brought back to reality. He removed his arms from around Liz, and picked up his book,

“ I’m sorry Liz, I better go,” he said hastily, and before Liz could say anything he was out of the room.

‘ That guy is really weird.’ she thought, as she searched the shelves for a good book to read before going to bed.

* * *
Isabel paced up and down her room like a caged animal. A bedtime? She’d never had a bedtime! Isabel began to scratch at her arms, the way she’d always do when she couldn’t have her own way. Her mind wondered. She’d been allowed her own room at least, after kicking up a lot of fuss. She didn’t want to share a room with that blonde bimbo or brunette freak.

And now Max was here. Why was he here? She thought she’d never see him again! She had to get out of here. She couldn’t stand it. She ran over to the window and slid it up. It was raining outside, but that wouldn’t stop her. She grabbed her jacket and hauled herself out of the window and onto the balcony, before thrusting herself down onto the ground.

Time to check out the night life in this town…

* * *
It was dark now, really dark. Maria and Liz lay in their beds. They’d done a good job of making the room their own, but there were still boxes lying strewn across the floor, waiting to be unpacked. Maria opened her eyes.

“ Liz?” she called across the room. Liz was still awake; she was finding it hard sleeping without having Michael next to her. She was all alone in a strange bed.

“ Yeah?” she answered. Maria shuffled around in her bed,

“ Can I ask you a question?” she whispered again. Liz smiled to herself, okay, she wasn’t exactly alone. Maria had given her numerous bottles of perfumed waters to keep her going. She was really beginning to like Maria,

“ Yeah Maria? What is it?”

“ Are you scared?”

Scared? God, I’m petrified.

“ Yeah Maria. I’m scared.”

She heard Maria sigh from across the room. She was glad she wasn’t the only one. Liz settled back to go to sleep. Five minutes later, she heard Maria whispering again,

“ Liz?” Liz smiled; Maria obviously wasn’t ready to sleep.

“ Yeah?”

“ Want to know what I’m most scared of?”

“ Yeah.”

Maria paused a minute,

“ Isabel – how scary was she!” Maria said with a giggle. Liz joined in. It was true, Isabel had terrified Liz. Maybe it was the black lipstick and eyeshadow that had done it to her.

“ Really scary,” Liz admitted. Maria sighed peacefully this time.

“ Goodnight Liz.”

“ Goodnight Maria.”

posted on 21-Feb-2002 1:29:04 PM
Part 3

Michael felt tentatively along his bedroom wall. He hadn’t slept yet tonight, the thunder and lightening was keeping him awake. But he’d heard a thump. It wasn’t the shed door, because his dad had fixed that the night before; and besides, this bang felt like it was inside the house. Reaching the light switch, he flicked it on and rubbing his eyes, reached for the doorknob.

The house was cold and empty. Michael loved his house, in the daytime it was full of sunshine, and happiness. All his friends would come over to his house, because his was the biggest and besides, they all loved his father.

Michael jumped as he heard another thump somewhere in the house. Approaching Liz’s room, he turned the doorknob slowly, and peered inside. Liz was sitting on her bed, wrapped up in her covers. Michael clicked the door behind him, and walked over to her, embracing her as soon as he was close enough.

“ Hey, come on, you’re sixteen now! Still afraid of a little thunder and lightening?” Liz smiled a little,

“ Oh come on, I’ll be afraid of it forever,” Liz paused for a moment, “Did you hear a thump? I think something feel off the bookcase downstairs.” Michael nodded,

“ Yeah, I was going to have a look. I suppose we could manage some chocolate chip cookies and milk whilst downstairs as well,” Michael said with a grin. Liz punched him playfully,

“ I’ll race you downstairs!”

* * *

Liz came plummeting down the stairs, laughing, although trying to be quiet as to not wake her father, who she knew could sleep through anything. He’d stayed up with her that night; she smiled, remembering his words,

‘And the world will never be safer than when you’re in my arms Lizzie’

That was why she loved her dad, he’d make her safe whenever she felt like she was in any trouble. When she was twelve, she was bullied because she loved science. When her dad had found out, he’d gone straight round to their houses and demanded an apology, and some kind of punishment for the perpetrators from their parents. She hadn’t been bullied since.

Liz went to go and switch on the light. She flicked it once. And again.

‘ Hmm, that’s weird,’ she thought, ‘the storm must have cut off the power supply.’

Michael was close behind her,

“ What’s up?” he asked her, placing a hand on her shoulder,

“ Nothing, the lights are out, that’s all,” she said uncertainly. Michael laughed,

“ Afraid of the dark as well?” he teased. Liz punched him again.

They made their way into the kitchen, and suddenly they froze.

This wasn’t right.

Cold, terrifying fear swept through Liz’s body.

Michael hands froze, and the smile on his face faded into the darkness.

There, in the middle of the kitchen floor, slumped their father.

“ DAD!” Liz screamed, running towards him. Michael caught her by the arm. She hadn’t seen the other man, hiding in the shadows. He’d pulled her behind him,

“ Liz, go and get help!” he whispered desperately, his stomach churning. The man came out of the shadows. His bala-clava only revealed his bright, menacing green eyes. Michael shuddered, as he pointed the kitchen knife at them,

“ No one’s going anywhere,” the man stated evilly. Liz began to shake. The kitchen knife gleamed with blood, as she followed the trail across the kitchen floor to where a red liquid was slowly surrounding her father.

There were no thoughts going through her mind as she threw herself across the floor at her father, only to get caught by the stranger in their house. His rough grip held her neck tightly. He thrusted her head up,

“ See what you made me do to your father!” he said sinisterly.

Liz’s eyes filled with tears. Fear crept over body once again. She thrust her head violently in the direction of Michael, who stood on the spot.

Michael’s body had turned numb. His father was lying dead on the kitchen floor. This madman had invaded their house. He felt like he was going to be sick. He had Liz. He stood feet away from the murderer.

“ Let her go,” he ordered. He set his feet apart. The man chuckled,

“ Michael. Do you think I’m that stupid?”

Fear swept over them both again. Where did they know that voice from? How did this cold-blooded murderer know their names? Liz screamed as she tried to bite the man. Michael lunged forward.

It all happened so quickly.

Liz bit the man’s fingers as hard as she could, as he thrust her away. Michael grabbed the guy’s throat.

He could feel the hatred run through his veins. He could feel the paralysing fear reach his throat as the madman hovered above him, thrashing the knife at Michael face.

Liz screamed.

The rain poured.

The knife plunged.

But someone intervened.

* * *

Michael gasped as he awoke. Sweat trickled down his back, and moistened his head. He held out his hand in front of him. Even in the darkness that surrounded his room, he could see his hand violently shaking.

‘ It’s a dream. That’s it. A dream.’

But thinking that didn’t make Michael feel any better. He brought his knees up to his chin and huddled in the covers around him. It wasn’t a dream. All that had actually happened. He felt his stomach begin to burn. He needed to talk to someone. He looked in front of him. Alex’s feet were sticking out of the end of the bed, whilst to his right, Max stay dead still.
But he couldn’t talk to either of them.

He needed his sister.

* * *

Liz moaned softly at the feeling of someone poking her. Her blankets were cool on top of her, but as soon as someone had started poking her she could feel the heat radiating off of them. Liz opened her eyes slightly. It was still dark, but she could hear the birds singing. She heard a husky voice next to her,

“ Liz,” the boy was saying. Liz yawned and snuggled further into the covers.

“ What Michael? It’s not time to get up yet,” she said. Not opening her eyes again. Michael took the covers off her and climbed in beside her. It was more cramped than in their double bed, and Michael feared that if he moved slightly he might fall out of the bed altogether. Liz rested her head on his chest.

He felt better, lots better. He started to relax as Liz cuddled next to him. There was something about that dream that scared him.

‘ Maybe the fact that it actually happened?’ he scolded himself.

Liz’s breathing became regular and even again. Michael gladly welcomed the warmth of her body against his, it meant that he wasn’t alone. A shiver ran through him. He could still see those green eyes staring at him, almost laughing. Michael began to shake again.

“ Michael. Are you okay?” Liz whispered, not moving. Michael still held her close.

“ Yeah. I had… the dream,” he said, his voice quivering. Liz shuffled uneasily. His bear chest was warm and uncomfortable, so she moved so that she was facing him. She eyed him up and down wearily; her soft brown eyes gazed into his frightened green ones.

“ You saw him again didn’t you?” she asked, her voice shaking.

She swallowed hard. This was a secret they’d been living with ever since it’d happened. No one knew they’d seen the murderer. She didn’t know why they’d kept it a secret. She knew why she had done it, because Michael had told her to. But why he’d told her not to tell anyone, she didn’t understand. But she trusted him, and right now he was the only one she had.

Michael’s eyes filled with tears as he nodded. Liz’s eyes glazed over and she cuddled into her brother, trying to support him as tears slowly fell from his eyes. He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to forget, if just for a moment, that his father wasn’t here. That he’d never reach out and touch him again. That every time they’d laughed, or hugged, or watched football… that they were just memories now. Liz gripped him tightly, as a new wave of devastation swept through him, shaking his entire body.

Michael didn’t cry often. Come to think of it, Liz had never seen him cry until the death of their father. But when Michael cried, his whole body shook. Liz cried as she felt all the pain and hurt he was feeling blend into her own feelings of devastation.

In the darkness, the two of them cried with one another. They cried until they were too exhausted to cry anymore, when Liz fell asleep, clutching on to her brother so that he wouldn’t leave her. Michael stared at the ceiling through the darkness. The pain was still so raw, that anything was setting him off at the moment. A light breeze was flowing through the window, and the sun would be coming up in an hour or so. His chest lifted and fell again, in the most unnatural state Michael could think of.

His eyes wandered towards the other bed in the room. The girl lying inside was obviously dreaming. Maria, that was her name. Her blonde hair spread all over the pillows, as she looked peaceful in her sleep. Michael watched her for a long time. He watched as her eyebrows twitched, as if she was reacting to something. He watched as she rolled around, kicking the covers off of herself. He’d smiled slightly when he’d seen that. She was wearing Scooby Do pyjamas. Scooby was his favourite. Occasionally she would murmur in her sleep. Michael’s eyes traced every inch of her face. She was so peaceful, so elegant. He wondered what had ever happened to such a perfect girl for her to end up in a place like this. His eyes settled on her lips. They looked so soft, so perfect.

Michael’s stomach turned.

So perfect for what? For him to kiss her?

* * *

Max awoke to the sounds of the birds singing merrily to bring in the sunshine. He stretched out, and immediately rolled out of bed and started his regular daily exercises.

‘I’ll do a couple of push ups, go get Sophie out of bed and we’ll make pancakes for mum and dad…’

He thought. He brought himself up again, to sit on the bed. Immediately he recognised Mr.Wiggles. But that was about the only thing he recognised. Max looked around in a panic. Then he heard Alex’s soft snores radiating from the other side of the room and sighed a little.

He was at the Valenti household. Sophie wasn’t here. There weren’t going to be any pancakes for breakfast. He clutched Mr. Wiggles close to his chest.

This wasn’t fair. He’d been torn away from everyone and everything he loved. And he hadn’t done anything.

Apart from try to be nice. And look where that had got him.

Setting Mr. Wiggles back down on his unmade bed, he pulled on a pair of clean boxers, jeans and a T-shirt. His muscles ached, and his head was thumping. He hated new places. They always took so much getting used to. He wanted familiarity, he wanted regular sites. People he knew.

His mind drifted back to the encounter in the library. Liz was beautiful. When he’d first seen her, he’d thought he was pretty and left it at that. But when she’d bumped into him in the library yesterday, he’d looked into her eyes.

And that was all it had taken.

One look at her eyes was like coming home. Her eyes sparkled, they drew him in. And instantly he wanted to know everything about her.

Where was she from? What was her favourite colour? What foods did she like? What guys did she like?

But then he’d remembered Tess. He’d remembered that night, that one stupid night when he’d told himself to just leave her alone. But how could he? He was only human after all, and she was obviously upset. It didn’t matter about their past, it was dangerous for her to be outside all alone.

Max shook his head, determined not to remember anymore. He carefully opened the bedroom door, noticing that Michael wasn’t in his bed, and hoping that they wouldn’t run into each other again. Walking down the silent hall in his bear feet, he past her door.

He backed up, and stood outside it.

It had been such a shock last night. He’d never expected to see her again. And he’d never expected to see her looking like that. Her once gorgeous, long blonde hair was now destroyed by permanent streaks of colour, and her nice dresses and simple jewellery replaced with hooker outfits and tattoos. And all because he didn’t leave with her. She’d begged him, pleaded with him. She needed to leave, she cried for hours. But he’d said no, believing that she wouldn’t actually leave. And that was the last time he’d ever seen her, five years ago.

Max took a deep breath. He knew that she could be awkward, god, he of all people knew how awkward she could be. But he knew that he needed to see her, to say what he should have said five years a go.

Bravely he turned the doorknob, and whispered,

“ Isabel?”

* * *
Part 3c

* * *

Isabel watched her door slide slowly open. She was sitting at the window, after just returning from a night out. Not that Roswell had anything to offer her. She’d visited a couple of bars, a couple of clubs, but everywhere she went she was just gawked at. Normally she’d love it, all the attention, but people were staring at her like she was out of space or something. She’d ripped her fishnet stockings, and burnt a hole in her top; her mascara was running and the dark circles looming under her eyes made her look a state. She didn’t care; who did she have to impress?

She took another drag on her cigarette and brought her knees up to her chest, leaning against the wall and staring out the window to day break in Roswell, New Mexico.

The visitor just stood in the doorway.

“ You gonna come in or just stand there all day?” Isabel said in her thick New York accent. She looked at Max. His browny-black hair was still cut in the same way, covering his eyes. He didn’t look much older than the night she’d run away, those scared eyes looked at her as if she was going to pounce on him at any moment. She laughed to herself, which seemed to make him even more nervous.

Max clicked the door shut and stood next to it, just looking at Isabel. She looked painfully thin, not at all like he’d remembered her. He cleared his throat,

“ You shouldn’t smoke. It’s bad for your health.”

Max, you haven’t seen this girl in five years, think of something better to say!’ He commanded himself.

Isabel snickered and threw the cigarette out of the window. She pushed herself off the windowsill and came to face him. She slowly looked him up and down.

“ So this is what you’ve become,” she said, turning and walking over towards the bag which still sat on her perfectly made bed. She started to rummage through it for something to wear. Max was lost for words.

“ You dyed your hair,” he said, thinking of nothing else to say, “ I never thought you’d do anything like that, you always loved your hair.” Isabel grunted,

“ Yeah well, things change. People change.”

Max shuffled his feet, not knowing what to say. He said the only thing he could think of,

“ I never thought I’d see you again,” he said gently, coming up behind her. Isabel laughed again,

“ Typical Max. State the obvious. Ain’t you gonna say how much you’ve missed me, and that now we’re livin’ here we’re gonna do all the things we never got to do? Start all over again?” She said dramatically, beginning to take off her top. Max spun around, giving Isabel some privacy. She may have been comfortable changing in front of him, but he certainly wasn’t ready to see that.

“ Isabel, don’t you just want to talk about what happened? I was so worried about you, I didn’t even know if you were still alive!” Max said, struggling with his emotions. He faced out of the open window. The sun had risen, and people had started to go about their daily business. Isabel laughed,

“ Yeah whatever Max. Since the day you abandoned me I’ve been livin’ out in New York. What else d’ya wanna know?” she said, standing in front of him. He looked her up and down. She’d grown up so much. She wasn’t the young 12-year-old who’d been begging with him to run away with her. She didn’t even look scared anymore, she was like a completely new person. Max’s soft brown eyes settled on hers. She’d taken out her contacts, and Max suddenly found his Isabel again. She was there, in her clear blue eyes.

Isabel stepped away awkwardly.

“ I ain’t just gonna stand around for you to look at,” Isabel said, beginning to get nervous. The tension in the room was incredible. The two just stared at each other. All of Max’s past memories came flooding back to him,

“ Isabel, we can’t leave. Mum and Dad, they’ll be mad!” An eleven-year-old Max said quietly. The cold breeze was flowing through the open window, and the stars were twinkling brightly.

Isabel grabbed his hand. Her eyes were ocean blue, and her long sunshine blonde hair was reaching down to her waist now. She was the picture of innocence, but tonight she was determined. Max shook his head, but Isabel persisted,

“ Max, they’re not our real parents. Our real parents are out there,” Isabel said, pointing through the open window. Max gulped again. Isabel grabbed his bag off the side,

“ Izzy please, why can’t we stay here? We’ll get lost in New York! It’s bigger than Roswell,” Max said, pleading with Isabel. She turned and faced the window.

‘This isn’t going to work’ she told herself.

Tears begin to fill her eyes,

“ Sure Max. Go back to bed. It was a silly idea,” Isabel said, turning to tuck him up into bed. He snuggled down deeper into his covers and smiled as she tucked him in.

“ It’ll be okay Isabel. We’ve got each other. Me and you remember?” Isabel closed her eyes,

“ Yeah Max, I remember.”

Isabel kissed him on the top of the head, and walked out of his room back into the hallway. The tears began to fall as Isabel watched Max fall asleep.

She couldn’t stay here. She had to find her real parents.

No matter what it took.

Max shook his head, and plunged back into reality. The anger built up inside him,

“ You left me Isabel! I was eleven years old, you and me, don’t you remember?” he said, staring at her. Isabel’s eyes seemed to soften for a moment, before returning to her cold, icy stare,

“ You made up your mind Max. You chose strangers over your own sister,” she said spitefully, and turned and walked away from him.

“ Isabel!” he called after her. She spun around,

“ I’m not your Isabel anymore Max. I’m not your sister. You can go on believin’ in your own little world that we’re gonna have this amazin’ bond and make up for all the time we’ve lost. But that ain’t gonna happen. I’m a grown woman, and you, you’re just a little boy,” Isabel said with disgust, before turning away and hanging on the doorknob.

‘ What are you doing Isabel! This is your brother, the person you spent so many nights thinking about, worrying about! And now you’re pushing him away again?’

With final determination, Isabel opened the door, stepped through it and slammed it shut.

After all, growing up on the streets, you had to learn how to push your feelings aside.

Otherwise you might just break altogether.

* * *

“ I had a dream last night,” Alex said as he reached over to the fruit basket and took and apple. He munched on it hungrily. Michael scratched his head and yawned tiredly,

“ Yeah man? Supermodels in swimsuits dream?” he asked, pulling out a chair and resting his arms on the pine table.

The two sat at the breakfast table, idly chatting as Amy fussed over them. Alex had been the first downstairs, after being woken up by shouting in the next room. Seemed like Isabel wasn’t a morning person.

Alex shook his head,

“ Nah, this one was far more graphic. I’m talking…” Amy looked at Alex, giving him the warning eye,

“ …about that really lovely old woman on the corner of the street. Isn’t she a babe?” Alex said, taking another bite of his apple. Michael snickered. He liked Alex; he seemed all right in a not-all-there kinda way.

Kinda like Maria, he thought to himself. He pushed all thoughts he was having of her to the back of his head.

Michael nodded in agreement,

“ Yeah total babe. Talking of babes, you spoken to Isabel yet?” Michael said, making Alex nearly choke on his apple. Michael slapped him on the back, as Alex continued to splutter. He regained his composure before continuing,

“ I told you, not my type,” he said, patting his chest. He decided to give the apple a miss and poured himself a tall glass of orange juice. The pancakes sizzled in the background,

“ Not your type huh? What type do you go for?” Michael said, too tired to reply with any kind of witty comment. Alex placed the finished glass back on the table,

“ The type with a heartbeat, a pulse, oh and if they can squeeze it in, a soul,” Alex said as he began to harass Amy for more cereal. Michael laughed,

“ I don’t know,” Michael said, motioning for Alex to come in closer. Alex leant over the table,

“ I’ve heard those wild types are pretty good in bed,” Michael finished. Alex’s eyes grew wider, as he sat down, apparently considering the possibilities.

Max came into the kitchen and sat down at the top of the table, not acknowledging their presence at all. Michael raised his eyebrows, but Alex just shrugged,

“ So when you thinking about making your move?” Michael asked as my set the first lot of pancakes on the table. Michael went to reach for it, but Alex got there first. For a tall skinny guy, this boy could eat! Alex began to shovel the food into his mouth,

“ Well, Isabel seems a little bit, uh,” he said, taking another bite of his pancakes. Michael stabbed his with his fork,

“ Scary?” he ventured, Alex laughed. Max looked up from his position of staring at the table.

“ Are you talking about Isabel?” he asked, although, as Michael realised it was more of an order for them to tell him.

‘ Why does this guy seem to breathe authority?’ he asked himself. Michael raised an eyebrow,

“ So you do talk!” Michael said sarcastically, stabbing his pancakes again. Max turned to Alex,

“ It’s not a good idea to go after someone like Isabel,” Max said quietly. Alex put his food down,

“ Max, I know we’ve only just met and all but I do know what I’m capable of,” Alex said, taking the orange juice carton off Michael and pouring himself another glass. Max stared at Alex with big brown eyes,

“ Alex, I’m warning you,” Max said with a firm voice. Michael raised his eyebrows,

“ Warning him? I don’t think he needs warning okay-” Michael started, but Max cut him off,

“ Just leave Isabel alone,” Max ordered. Michael stood up, and stood close to Max,

“ Look man, I don’t think he’s going to take orders from you, and as a matter of fact I’m getting a bit pissed off with just listening to you spout out orders all over the place. Alex can do whatever he wants!”

At this point the both looked at Alex, who was still stuffing his face with pancakes. He looked up at them,

“ Okay guys. Just sit down and calm down okay?” Alex said, his stomach turning. If they were like this on their first morning together, they’d be unbearable to live with. Amy came back into the kitchen,

“ Everyone okay?” she asked cheerfully. Michael and Max stared at each other, and replied through gritted teeth,

“ Fine.”

Amy just looked at Alex, who simply held up his plate and asked politely,

“ Can I have another pancake?”

* * *
Part 3d

Maria peered into the shop window, pushing her blonde hair behind her ears. It was nearly midday, and Liz and Maria were in town with Alex and Michael searching for jobs and generally trying to get a few bits together whilst checking out the town.

“ Hey Liz, there’s vacancies here,” she said, waving her hand so that Liz would follow her to the window of this funny looking restaurant. Liz stepped away from Michael and peered inside,

“ I don’t know, it looks kinda quirky,” Liz said, as she scanned down the notice. Michael and Alex were sharing a joke about some swimsuit dream or something, whilst Maria turned to Liz.

“ Do you know what? We should so have lunch there. We can find out about the positions and check out some of the locals,” Maria said, a small grin twitching on the corners of her lips. Liz smiled; she looked up at the restaurant,

“ Crashdown Café huh? I suppose we could give it a go, you gonna join us Michael?” she said, turning to her brother. Michael took a sideways glance at Alex. He cleared his throat,

“ I’m actually gonna go with Alex. We’re gonna check out the record stores,” Michael said, pulling Liz to give her a hug, “ You gonna be okay by yourself?” he whispered into her ear.

Liz smiled and nodded softly. There had to be some things they did separately, and sometimes, being around Michael hurt so much, because every time she looked at him she saw how hurt he was. And how much he was like their father.

She waved him goodbye and entered the Crashdown, where Maria started to rate every guy she walked past. Liz smiled, she really liked Maria, and as she gazed on at her as she chattered on mindlessly, she wondered vaguely if they’d be best friends. Liz had never had a best friend, apart from Michael and technically that didn’t count because he was her brother. She’d always been too tied up in her love of science to go out with friends. But sitting across from Maria as she chatted idly about her past love life, Liz played with the straw in her smoothie and realised that this is what it was like being normal.

And she finally felt at ease.

* * *
Isabel walked through the mall on the busy Saturday afternoon. Everywhere she went people’s heads turned. Isabel had terrified some fourteen year-old boys by exposing her tongue stud, then making it bleed. The little blonde girl had nearly thrown up when she’d seen the blood. Isabel had just laughed. It’d hurt a bit, but the look on their faces was priceless.

She was hungry. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d eaten, and having the money to buy a burger was a new experience for her. Usually she’d have visited a friend living in Brooklyn, and if she got really hungry they’d have fixed her up. But on a day-to-day existence she’d have to lie, cheat and steal just to get a good meal. Isabel smiled slightly. She missed New York. Everything was so exciting there, nothing was normal. Here? Well, the look on the two old people Isabel passed on the escalator said it all.

She approached the burger stand, and restlessly joined the end of the queue. Normally she’d storm up to the front, not caring what anyone said, but she was tired and achy. She hadn’t slept for forty-eight hours; although, living on the streets you learnt to live with not sleeping. If you slept, you could have been raped, mugged, murdered.

The first months that Isabel had lived in New York she was terrified. She’d started to look for her mum and dad, asking at offices and waiting at train stations. But no one would take her seriously, seeing her for the naïve little twelve year old blonde girl she was. She’d slept on the streets, well, she hadn’t exactly slept. The one night she had slept, she’d woken up to a group of boys surrounding her, and she may have been naïve but she knew exactly what their plan was. She’d only just managed to escape, and had cried for hours and hours down an alleyway, just wishing that she’d stayed with Max. But then she’d met Griff. And what happened in that moment changed her life forever.

Isabel approached the front of the queue but immediately lost her appetite. She took the hand that was grasping the $10 note out of her pocket, and made a quick exit out of the mall. It was that name, Griff. It made her stomach turn, and it made her want to cry all at the same time. But Isabel didn’t cry anymore. She hadn’t cried since her last night with Griff, and she’d never cry again.

Reaching the outside she breathed deeply. The freshness of the air was sickening; as she took her cigarettes out of her pocket and lit one, placing it loosely between her parted lips. The sunshine was shining brightly, falling upon Isabel’s pale face. She crossed the road, and sat on a swing in the small park.

Isabel turned her head and watched a couple of random girls flirting with some guys that she couldn’t quite see.

‘ That’s so degrading’ Isabel thought to herself, as she stamped out her cigarette and drew out another one. The girls were still obstructing her view of the guys. So wrapped up in her observation, she didn’t notice the guy sitting on the swing beside her. As the girls moved, Isabel dropped her cigarette.

Who was he?

The guy that the girls had been drooling over had apparently been worth it. His blonde spiky hair and eyes such a clear blue that Isabel could see them from her swing made him irresistible. Isabel bent down to pick up her cigarette and noticed another pair of shoes. She looked up and saw a guy with dark brown; slightly burgundy coloured hair staring at her,

“ Take a picture, it lasts so much longer,” Isabel said sarcastically, ignoring the stranger again. He snickered,

“ The new girl in town huh? Let me guess, you come from New York, you were sent here for being a bad, bad girl?” the stranger said, not taking his eyes off her. Isabel turned to him,

“ Oh yeah, I was a bad, bad girl. If you ain’t careful, I’m going to show you why I got arrested,” Isabel said, calmly threatening to show the guy the same move that had broken that police officers arm. Well, the police officer had started it. Isabel went back to stare at the guy flirting with the rest of the girls.

“ I’m up for any moves you want to show me baby,” the guy said, drawing a cigarette out of his own pocket. Isabel laughed, that must have been the worst line she’d ever been given. She ignored him again, watching the guy she was becoming increasingly attracted to thrown another guy across the grassy area they were playing on. The guy blew out his drag, and turned to Isabel,

“ Forget it baby, Fletch ain’t going for someone like you,” he said. Isabel immediately stood up and stamped out her cigarette,

“ And what you tryin’ to call a girl like me huh?” she asked him. He stood up. He was about her height, and those piercing green eyes were so mysterious. Isabel checked his profile; she could take him,

“ I’m sayin’ he’s a cheerleader type. Girls like you, you need someone who can accommodate for your needs,” he said, beginning to put his hands on her waist. Isabel was caught off guard, but moved away suddenly. He looked at her,

“ I ain’t gonna hurt you,” he said slyly, Isabel spat at his feet,

“ Sure you ain’t, cos you ain’t comin’ no where near me. See ya, pretty boy,” Isabel said as she flicked her leather jacket over her shoulders and began to walk away from him. She wasn’t scared of him; she’d been around enough to know when a guy was simply all talk.

“ So, I’ll see you around Baby?” he called after her, she stopped and turned around,

“ Call me Isabel,” she said with a coy smile and a flick of her hair.

There was no point in letting a potential opportunity slip by. Even if she was formulating how to get to know Fletch a lot better…

* * *

“ Uh huh, no way. I can not see myself working here. Have you seen those uniforms?” Liz said as she bit into her ‘Will Smith’ Burger. It was good, she couldn’t deny that. Maria laughed as she wiped the mayonnaise off the side of her cheek,

“ You’d so look cute, and besides, I don’t think Max would mind!” Maria said wiggling her eyebrows, Liz eyes flew wide open as she scrunched up her napkin and threw it at Maria,

“ Hey, that is so not true! Besides, have you even spoken to Max?” Liz said, taking another bite of her burger. She chewed thoughtfully, thinking about him in the library. She’d felt weird just starting to cry on him, but what else could she do? Any memories were making her cry at the moment. But there, in his arms, that was something so different. He was so warm. Sure, she had Michael, and she loved him for everything. But this was different. Max was on the outside, and until he’d pushed her away, she felt completely at ease in his arms, something she’d never been able to do before.

Maria snapped her back to reality, giving her an I-knew-it-grin,

“ What?” Liz asked her, finishing her smoothie. Maria laughed,

“ You Chica, are hooked!” she said, finishing her own cola. Liz laughed, she wasn’t hooked. Well, not yet anyway. Maria seemed to change like the weather, as she started up another conversation,

“ Hey so, we start school tomorrow? You scared?” she asked thoughtfully, attacking her burger again. Liz cocked her head to the side,

“ I don’t know, I kind of like it. I’m kind of interested in science,” Maria’s eyes widened,

“ Oh! I love that too. The chemical stuff, blowing things up, and oh, things from outer space. Like aliens on Mars and stuff!” Maria said, starting to get excited and drumming her hands on the table. Liz smiled, and couldn’t resist laughing,

“ Yeah, er, kind of!” Liz said cheerfully. She finished her burger and picked at her fries. She had to ask Maria that all-important question. She hesitated a little,

“ Are you, one of those, uh, cheerleader types?” she said quietly, as if it was a deadly disease or something. Maria’s smile dropped,

“ No, why, are you?” she asked in an equally quiet manner. Liz shook her head,

“ Hell no!” Liz said, making Maria laughed,

“ God, you said it like it was a disease or something!” she said cheerily, “ I’m not a cheerleader person, I kinda do things my own way you know? Don’t follow the crowd. It’s much more exciting that way,” Maria finished in her matter of fact manner, as if to illustrate the point, she started to sniff her cedar oil.

Liz smiled. This was what it was like having friends. She’d almost forgotten that. Maria finished her fries and smiled at her,

“ This might sound really weird, but, are you still scared? I mean, the thing is, I was thinking this morning and I don’t really know you at all. But I feel like I trust you. And I suppose its because we’re both in the same boat. I was terrified about coming here, but now, well, it’s not so hard,” Maria said.

Liz felt like crying, Maria was so sweet and nice to her; not at all what she’d thought it’d be like.

“ Well, I think if we stick together, we’re going to be okay,” Liz said as they started to get up to pay the bill. Maria smiled warmly. She was so, well, she guessed relieved was the right word. She’d imagined some girl who was tall and scary ordering her around. She laughed again,

“ I just had this mental thought, can you imagine Isabel as a cheerleader?” Maria said, cringing at the thought. Liz laughed out loud,

“ Out of all the times I’ve seen her, I think that’d be the scariest!” Liz said as Maria handed her her application form and they began to walk out of the Crashdown Café, knowing that they’d soon return as waitresses.

Liz smiled as the sunshine greeted her face.

So this is what it was like to have friends.


* * *
Alex whistled merrily as he strode down the halls of West Roswell High, with the general thought of,

‘So many people to make laugh, so little time!’

Honestly, he was actually starting to feel a little lonely. Hanging out with Michael the day before had been cool. They’d talked about music, and thankfully avoided the topic of Isabel. Alex grinned to himself; of course he could have her, if he really wanted her that was. He shook his head, passing a number of different lockers. At least he was starting this school at the start of the school year. The past schools he’d been at he’d had to start in the middle of semesters, and making friends was hard because everyone had already sorted themselves into little groups.

The smell of this school was fresh, and the bright yellow lockers actually made him smile. Noticing a couple of familiar faces, he made a beeline towards them,

“ Hey Liz, hey Maria. How’s the first day of West Roswell High going?” he said cheerfully, watching Maria tape up a picture of some guy in her locker. He leant on the lockers next to Liz, before taking his schedule out of his pocket. Liz smiled,

“ It’s weird being around so many people. So much happened over the summer,” she said, biting her lip and willing herself not to cry. She only had to make it through the day. She scanned the halls again, searching for Michael. Spending this much time away from him was hard. Before, she’d spent day in, day out with him, and she still needed him.

Alex looked thoughtfully looked down at his timetable,

“ Hey, do you guys know where room 203 is? I’ve got French now, and I’ve been late for every class I’ve had today. Oh you guys never would have guessed what happened in biology this morning,” he said, and as if on cue, the ‘disaster’ that had happened this morning came sliding down the hallway.

Mr. Pete, Alex’s biology teacher, couldn’t have been taller than five feet tall, with whispy white hair and gentle brown eyes twinkling. Alex smirked as the student continued to wheel the teacher past on his desk chair. Apparently someone had found it rather funny to superglue their teacher to his seat. Alex saluted the teacher as he rode past,

“ Okay Mr. Pete?” he said cheerfully. Mr Pete turned his head around,

“ Mr Whitman!” he said warningly, although when Alex pulled a fake ‘me?’ expression, the teacher broke into a smile and shook his head. Liz and Maria turned to Alex, their jaws nearly hitting the floor,

“ You didn’t!” Maria said, a smile beginning to form on her lips. Alex wiggled his eyebrows at them. Liz slapped her hand over her mouth and began to laugh. Alex looked at his schedule again,

“ Come on, I’ve got more havoc to rage in French. Where you guys headed?” he said, as the bell rang and he began to walk with them down the hall, winding their way through numerous students. Liz and Maria quickly scanned their timetables, and laughed,

“ I guess it looks like we’re all in the same class!” Maria said cheerfully. Alex rubbed his hands together,

“ Ah ladies! I will show you my ways now. Come on, maybe we can go for ice-cream afterwards! J’ai tres faim!” Alex said, putting an arm round each of their shoulders, whilst Liz laughed,

“ What does that mean?” Maria asked, confused,

“ It means he’s hungry!” Liz said between giggles. The halls were empty as they approached the room, laughing and teasing Alex about his constant hunger!

* * *
Michael paced up and down the living room in the empty house. Well, Max was off being moody somewhere, but the person who should be home wasn’t. Michael checked the clock. It was 6pm. School had let out hours ago. Where was she?

He sat down and buried his head in his hands. Why hadn’t he checked on her? Why had he let her slip out of her sight? He knew how dangerous it was for them to be apart. His hands began to shake as those piercing green eyes began to haunt him again.

Suddenly the front door swung open and Liz, Maria and Alex came walking leisurely through the door. Michael breathed a sigh of relief. Maria and Alex headed upstairs, as Liz made her way over to him. She settled on the sofa next to him, and placed her books on the coffee table,

“ Me, Maria and Alex just went out for ice-cream after school, I’m telling you, the things that boy has done! Has he told you about the time he-” Liz started but stopped when she saw the serious look on Michael’s face. Michael stared at her, his worry slowly turning into anger,

“ I was worried about you Liz! I didn’t know where you were!” Michael said in a low tone, but expressing his anger none the less. Liz’s soft brown eyes looked at Michael pleadingly. She placed a hand on Michael’s knee,

“ It’s okay Michael. I’m safe!” she said comfortingly. She knew how Michael could worry. Michael snatched away from her gesture and began to pace up and down,

“ No Liz, you’re not! You’re spending afternoons with people you don’t even know! Anything could happen to either of us, and you’re off parading around like nothing ever happened!” Michael said, his voice raising. Liz rose to her feet also, preparing to defend herself,

“ You went out with Alex! And besides it wasn’t far!” Liz argued, beginning to feel her cheeks heat up. Michael stared at her,

“ You shouldn’t get so close to these people. They’re not family Liz,” Michael warned her, taking her by the shoulders. Liz took a step back, shaking her head,

“ Michael, we’ve been here a week, why shouldn’t I start making friends? I want to be normal again.” she told him. Michael turned his back on her, something that Liz hated. She hated being closed out of her brother’s life. Michael turned back around, and it was then that Liz noticed the tears forming in his eyes,

“ You’re forgetting dad already aren’t you? Just because you’ve come here, you think he doesn’t exist anymore!” he said spitefully, causing Liz to break out in a flood of tears.

Fear and anger raked through Liz’s body. How could he say something like that? They stood there, staring at one another,

“ How can you say something like that Michael?” she asked him quietly, tears beginning to spill over her eyelashes. Michael turned away from her, and began to walk upstairs,

“ Because it’s true. You just don’t care!” Michael shouted as he stormed upstairs, leaving Liz to grab her books and head back out the front door in a flood of tears.

* * *
Part 3e

Michael paced up and down in his room.

Why did I do that? He asked himself.

“ I am the biggest jerk!” he said out-loud, feeling like punching something.

He was still angry, although this time he was angry with himself. He ran his fingers through his long hair and sat down on his bed. He’d been worried, and it’d come out all wrong. And now he had pushed Liz completely away. He knew how sensitive she could be, and he didn’t blame her. He’d just been so worried that the minute he’d seen her he’d got scared again; scared that he would lose her.

“ You’ve so blown it this time!” Michael said throwing himself down onto his bed. Alex looked up from his guitar,

“ Is this like, a private conversation between you and your imaginary friend? Or can anyone join in?” Alex said as he get up and lounged on the desk chair opposite Michael. Michael put his hands over his face and groaned,

“ Not now Alex, I’ve just done something so stupid,” Michael said, staring at the ceiling. Alex rocked back and forwards on his chair,

“ Argument with Liz? What’s the big deal? Your brother and sister, you argue don’t you?” Alex said, picking out a chocolate bar out of the desk drawer. He munched thoughtfully. His brown eyes stared at Michael until he rose up to sit no the edge of the bed again,

“ Well no, we don’t really argue. Well, sure we did, she’s kinda like this neat freak and…” Michael’s voice trailed off. He hated admitting that he was wrong, it frustrated him so much when he didn’t do things right, and hated it even worse when he hurt someone else by doing that. Alex still sat there, his brown eyes open and not judging Michael at all. Michael smiled,

“ Did you argue with your brothers or sisters?” Michael said, looking at Alex. A cloud seemed to darken Alex’s face, but lift in an instant,

“ I’ve always been an only child. Don’t live anywhere long enough to form any brother/sister relationships,” he said simply, slam dunking the wrapper of his chocolate bar in the bin and picking up his guitar again,

“ Hey, I’m sorry man, I didn’t mean to strike a nerve or anything,” Michael said, getting up. Alex looked up at him,

“ Yeah I know. No probs. Just be happy you’ve got a sister, a sister who’s only in the next room…” Alex said, his brown eyes coming over all meaningful. Michael nodded, and turned to walk back to the door, pausing momentarily on the handle to look and Alex and frown slightly, wondering why a guy like him had to have it so hard.

* * *

Maria held the cell phone up to her ear as she unfolded another box of her clothes. She held up her favourite purple three-quarter-lengths and smiled; the little mirrors she had sown on had been an excellent touch. Maria hummed into the cell,

“ Mmm hmm. Yeah. Fine,” she said. She kept trying to distract herself from the person on the other end of the phone. She didn’t want to be having this conversation, but she knew she had to. A lump caught in her throat,

“ Yeah I’m fine. Everyone’s really nice here,” she mumbled. A knock came on the door as it slid open slightly. Maria’s heart leapt into her throat as Michael placed his head around the door and invited himself in.

Why was he so good looking? She cursed herself. He clicked the door behind him and started to talk to Maria,

“ Where’s Liz?” he ordered, looking around the room. If it was one thing Maria couldn’t stand it was taking orders. She turned her back on him and continued on the conversation,

“ I started school today,” she continued on, taking another one of her favourite tops out of her bag.
Michael flustered around her, beginning to get impatient,

“ Aren’t you listening? I asked you where Liz is, its not going to take long to answer,” Michael said ignorantly, Maria turned her back on him again, beginning to get some slight pleasure in his pathetic bargaining techniques,

“ No! No of course not!” Maria said, her eyes flying wide open as a response to something the person on the other end of the phone said. Maria felt tears begin to well up in her eyes as the person on the other end sobbed, Maria hearing every cry, and every hiccup. Michael was getting too impatient, so he reached out and took the phone off her, pressing the cancel button. Maria screeched,

“ What the hell do you think you’re doing! That was an important call!” she screamed, battling to get the phone off of him. Michael held it higher, so that she couldn’t even reach it on tip-toes.

“ So what, it’s one of your cheerleader type friends talking about what skirt to wear tomorrow. My conversation, on the other hand, is very very important. Where is Liz?” Michael said as Maria began to jump up and down after the phone. She groaned with frustration, she hated being short.

“ I don’t know Michael. Why should I know? You’re the one who’s scared her away,” she said bitterly. An invisible blow seemed to come to Michael’s stomach, as he backed down. Maria snatched the phone off him.

“ Now get out of my room.” She ordered. Michael gave her an evil stare as he stormed out of the room, slamming the door after him.

* * *

Max sat in the garden, his knees tucked underneath his chin. The garden was massive, with loads of apple trees, and even a fountain. Max loved the smell of the outside. It was fresh, new and exciting. Every time you breathed in, you were breathing in something new. He sighed. The first day of school had been hard. He was used to being the loner, in fact, he actually preferred it that way. But all through school today he’d just felt lonely, and desperately just wanted someone beside him.

He groaned again, as the image of Tess flashed in his mind. He wanted to forget about her, God, he wanted to forget about her. But when she’d taken his life in her hands and wrecked it beyond compare, it was hard to just forget about her.

He pulled his notebook out of his backpack, and turned to the back. He grabbed a pen and began to jot down random things he was feeling.

Loneliness, heartache, rejection, frustration

He put his pen down and watched as Liz came through the garden gate, slamming it behind her. Her wild brown eyes were furious. Her wild brown hair flew behind her, as she walked with confident strides. She didn’t seem to notice him, but she disappeared around the side of the house. Max looked back at his notebook, and picked up his pen again and scribbled,

Lust, want, belonging.

* * *
Isabel skipped around the side of a dumpster, trying to get a better look at Fletch. She’d followed him, and the rest of the cheerleading squad, home to try and get a better look at him.

And she was right the first time, this guy was gorgeous.

“ Okay girls, I’m afraid you’re going to have to let me go now. I’m home,” he said hugging a couple of them. Jealousy spread over Isabel. The girls waved goodbye and hung on until he closed the door. Isabel sighed, her heart racing.

She had to have him.
* * *
Maria looked at the clock. She’d been sitting there a whole hour. Her pad of paper still lay empty on the kitchen table, and her pen was still playing the role of her chew toy. She slammed it down on the table,

Why is this so hard? She asked herself.

She took the pen out of her mouth and wrote on the top of the page,

Dear Mum.

She put down the pen.

No what do I write?

Maria felt like crying. She didn’t know what to say, she didn’t even know why she was writing. Well sure, she knew why she was writing; it was because Michael had hung up on her mum earlier. She threw down the pen in frustration and placed her elbows on the table, resting her head in her hands. She’d been kinda glad Michael had hung up on her mum. She was crying like anything, screaming that she’d lost her only daughter. What was Maria supposed to say to that?

Someone else came storming into the kitchen. She looked up and groaned again,

“ What, are you everywhere?” she asked him, placing her head back in her hands. Michael frowned,

“ Just shut up with the stupid comments okay? Have you seen Liz?” he said, placing his hands on the table and looking dead into her eyes. Maria stood up and looked straight back at him,

“ You asked me that an hour a go and I said no,” she said, their faces just inches apart. Michael gulped,

“ I’m not asking you about an hour ago, I’m asking you about now!” he barked through gritted teeth. Maria tore away from his stony glare and picked up her pad. She turned her back on him,

“ Where are you going?” he ordered, grabbing her by the arm. Maria turned around, and in that instant, Michael felt like the smallest guy alive. Maria’s eyes were brimming with tears, their blueness being made even brighter by the film of tears. He gulped. He hadn’t meant to make her cry,

“Michael, I don’t know where Liz is! Just let go of me!” she said quietly, visibly trying to keep the tears from falling. Michael released him grip and watched as she walked away from him.

Great, in the space of an hour he’d hurt two people he cared about.

* * *

Alex strummed his fingers lightly along the strings of his guitar, singing along to the smooth chords. A light tap came against the door,

“ Come in,” Alex said, placing his guitar on the floor. Jim entered through the doorway,

“ Was that you playing?” Jim asked softly, Alex grinned sheepishly,

“ Yeah, oh, I’m sorry was it too loud?” he asked, making Jim chuckle. He sat down beside Alex on the bed,

“ You’re really good at it. Are you in a band or something?” he asked, picking up the guitar himself. Alex laughed,

“ Well, it’s a one man band. Me,” he said, as Jim laughed. Alex kicked at the ground,

“ I don’t really have time to form a band. I kinda move around a lot. Well hey, the change of scenery is always a bonus!” he said with a grin, though Jim thought he could see the glint of sadness in Alex’s eyes. Jim patted him on the back,

“ Well hopefully Alex you’ll be with us long enough to form a band. That is, if you like it here,” Jim said beginning to get off the bed. Alex looked up thoughtfully at him,

“ Yeah, it’s great here. Amy’s a brilliant cook!” Alex said enthusiastically, his stomach growling hungrily. Jim laughed,

“ I can tell you like your food! Dinner will be a half hour, do you want to try and round everybody up?” he asked as he began to shut the door. Alex nodded as he began to strum his guitar again, Jim hesitated inside the doorframe,

“ Alex, you really are good,” Jim said, closing the door behind him. Alex couldn’t help but smile as he whispered,

“ Yeah, I wish my dad would say the same.”

* * *
Liz walked quietly through the library. She’d stormed out of the front door about an hour ago, but soon realised she had no idea where she was going or even how to get there. She’d walked through the back gate and walked around the side of the house, climbing an old apple tree and sitting there for hours until the sun had set. Then it had started to get cold, so she’d decided to come back into the library.

She ran her fingers past the spines of so many books on politics, science, art and history. She picked up a book on the solar system and just smelt it; she loved that dusty smell. Her father used to read to her for hours and hours. And she’d listen to every word he’d said. She sat down on the sofa and flicked through the pages. Her father had talked to her all about the stars and the planets nearly every day, and as a result of that Liz was fascinated by it. Super novas, giants, it all reminded her of the lust she and her father shared for science and astronomy.

Suddenly Liz became aware that someone was standing next to her. She closed the book and looked up at the stranger. Max smiled at her,

“ We’ve really got to stop meeting like this,” he said as he smiled, taking a seat next to her. She smiled at him. His brown eyes seemed troubled, yet at the same time they were so open, and honest. And he smelt great, as Liz noticed, and her heart began to race faster and faster. Max picked up the book from Liz’s lap, touching her bare legs as he did so. Sending shivers all through Liz’s body. She smiled at him,

“ So you’re into the solar system too?” she asked him. Max nodded,

“ Yeah, it just amazes me to think that the big bang created all of this from nothing you know?” he said, frantically skipping pages. Liz smiled,

“ That’s exactly the way I feel about it, it just takes my breath away,” she said wistfully. Max began to flick past a page, but Liz stopped him, reaching over him and making him stop on a certain page. Liz looked up at him. She was nearly sprawled all across his lap, and their faces were inches apart. She gulped as she looked at his lips. She was so close, and there was a part of her that so desperately wanted to kiss him.

But he backed away nervously, returning to the book. Liz looked at him, wondering why he’d rejected her again. Max cleared his throat,

“ What’s so special about this page?” he asked her. Liz took a moment to regain her thoughts as she touched the picture,

“ This is the whirlwind galaxy. So far we’ve only been able to get this one picture of it. My dad used to rant on and on about it all the time. He’d even joke that he’d take me and Michael there one day,” she said smiling. Max touched her hand again,

“ You miss him a lot don’t you?” he asked. Liz nodded,

“ It’s so hard because Michael looks so much like him. We were all really close, and now me and Michael have just had this huge fight,” she said looking up at him,

“ Did you used to argue with your siblings?” Liz asked. She wanted to know so much about Max; she wanted to know why he was afraid every time they got closer. Max nodded,

“ I used to argue with my foster sister Sophie all the time, she was only little so they were fun arguments,” he said, but bit his lip. Liz looked at him,

“ If you want to talk about things Max, we can. I know it’s weird and I don’t even know you, but there’s this part of me that is just aching to talk to someone,” she said, this time placing her hand on top of his.

Max watched as their fingers entwined and his heart leapt about 3 feet in the air. She was so loving, so caring. He wanted to tell her everything too, and smiled as he gazed down at their hands, bringing them up so he could hold one of her hand with both of his,

“ I’m sorry if every time you come near me I’m like a nervous wreck,” he said, looking into her soft brown eyes. She smiled,

“ It’s okay, all of us, that’s all of us living here, we’ve all been through so many different things. Maybe that makes us all closer in a way,” she said. He nodded,

“ I’ve never really had friends before,” he said, and she nodded,

“ Neither have I,” she said sadly. Max continued, taking a deep breath,

“ But where I came from, before I lived here, there was this one person who was always trying to make friends with me. But she just wasn’t the kind of person I wanted to be friends with. And everything kind of just got so messed up, and that’s how I ended up living here,” he said. Liz looked confused, and knew that he wasn’t telling her all the details, but he was opening up to her. He licked his lips and continued,

“ That’s why I kind of backed away from you the other day. I’m just scared that if I make friends with anyone, I’ll lose everything that means anything to me – for the second time,” he said, tightening his fingers around hers.

She looked at him, he was so honest, so open and so hurt by whoever had done this to him. She couldn’t resist it anymore, but threw herself into his arms and held him tight. She felt so amazingly happy when she felt his arms tighten around her waist. She reluctantly drew back,

“ I’m sorry for what happened with you Max. But I know what it’s like to lose everything,” she said sadly. With building confidence, Max put his arms around her, and buried her in a cuddle. Liz sighed,

“ Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, and I’d have been crying so hard I’d have to remind myself that I have to breathe. I hope that someday I’ll go back to not having to remind myself to breathe, that it’ll just be part of my life again,”

She looked up at him with her big brown eyes that made him go weak at the knees, maintaining her entrancing eyes; he took one hand and stoked the side of her cheek. His stomach was in knots and he didn’t know if she could feel him shaking, but this felt so right. He breathed in, and whispered as her face came closer to his,

“ I don’t think life is about the number of breaths you take,” he said slowly, placing her strands of hair behind her ears. He paused and cupped her chin,

“ I think it’s about the number of moments, in life, that take your breath away,” he said as he brought her lips up to his.

Liz’s stomach was turning. Her lips were seconds away from touching his, and with every second that past, she wanted to kiss him for longer and longer.

Max was shaking as he cupped her face, and parted his lips. He knew he should be more careful, after everything that had happened to him, but how could something that felt so right be so wrong?

A sharp tap came at the door, throwing them apart. Liz jumped away and tried to stop her heart from racing. Alex popped his head around the door,

“ Dinner’s going to be about fifteen minutes,” he hollered as he came walking towards them. He looked at them, first at Liz, then at Max,

“ Did I interrupt something?” he asked, taking a seat in between them. Liz groaned silently,

“ No Alex. Nothing at all,” she said, biting her tongue. Max gave Liz a quick smile. And Liz’s heart began to race again.

* * *
Michael walked through the lounge after dinner. Liz hadn’t been at the table; in fact, she’d skipped dinner all together. She’d told Amy that she didn’t feel well, but Michael knew that it was an excuse so that she wouldn’t have to face him. He stopped as he noticed Maria curled up on the sofa by herself, watching a horror film from behind a pillow. He felt his heart tug at him, he’d been so horrible to her all day. He came and sat down at the other end of the sofa, kicking off his shoes and curling his feet under him, Maria looked at him,

“ What, are you here to shout at me again?” she asked, still keeping the pillow in from of her so that she couldn’t see all of the screen,

“ I just wanted to sit and watch the movie okay?” he shot at her. Maria smiled,

“ I suppose that’ll have to do as an apology,” she said with a smile, turning back to face the screen. Michael smiled a little but tried to appear pissed off. He cleared his throat,

“ So, you planning on watching the movie or just listening to it,” he said as he took the pillow away from her. She covered her eyes with her hands,

“ This is really scary actually,” she said, fighting him back for the pillow. He gave it to her and she cuddled it into her chest,

“ Sure it is. I can watch anything, it’s only a movie,” Michael said, Maria looked at him,

“ Sure you can. What are you trying to prove?” she asked him, they both went back to looking at the screen, where the murderer was just sneaking up on his victim. Maria tensed all over. Then, at that dramatic point where the music changes and he’s stabbing her to death, they both screamed and Michael covered his eyes. Maria laughed in hysterics, and handed him the pillow,

“ Maybe you need it more than me,” she said with a smile. Michael smiled back and took the pillow, before hitting her over the head with it.

* * *
The thunder and lightening was surrounding her, beating faster and faster. Liz came into the dark kitchen, illuminated only by the erratic bolts of lightening. Coming closer, she screamed,

“ DAD!”
A million thoughts were running though her head, as she began to run towards him by Michael caught her by the arm. He pulled her protectively behind him,

“ Liz, go and get help!” he whispered desperately, his stomach churning. Liz’s eyes gleamed with fear as a man came out of the shadows. His bala-clava only revealed his bright, menacing green eyes. Liz felt Michael shudder, as he pointed the kitchen knife at them,

“ No one’s going anywhere,” the man stated evilly. Liz began to shake. The kitchen knife gleamed with blood, as she followed the trail across the kitchen floor to where a red liquid was slowly surrounding her father.

There were no thoughts going through her mind as she threw herself across the floor at her father, only to get caught by the stranger in their house. His rough grip held her neck tightly. He thrusted her head up,

“ See what you made me do to your father!” he said sinisterly.

Liz’s body began to scream, as she got an up close view of her father. Liz’s eyes filled with tears. Fear crept over body once again. She thrust her head violently in the direction of Michael, who stood on the spot.

Michael’s body had turned numb. His father was lying dead on the kitchen floor. This madman had invaded their house. He felt like he was going to be sick. He had Liz. He stood feet away from the murderer.

“ Let her go,” he ordered. He set his feet apart. The man chuckled,

“ Michael. Do you think I’m that stupid?”

Liz stopped cold. She was absolutely petrified now. This man, this monster that had just murdered her father knew them. She screamed as she tried to bite the man. Michael lunged forward.

It all happened so quickly.

Liz bit the man’s fingers as hard as she could, as he thrust her away. Michael grabbed the guy’s throat.

He could feel the hatred run through his veins. He could feel the paralysing fear reach his throat as the madman hovered above him, thrashing the knife at Michael face.

Liz screamed.

The rain poured.

The knife plunged.

And suddenly, their father came lunging across at the man, knocking him off his feet. The man’s green eyes seemed to glow with fear, as he turned on his heel and ran out of the house. Michael cradled his father’s head in his lap, whilst blood began to seep into his own T-shirt. Liz sunk down beside him, and watched as her father took shallow, raspy breaths. Michael screamed at Liz,

“ Go get an ambulance!” he screamed, and Liz, paralysed, just obeyed his every order. She could hear Michael talking to her father as she took the phone off the receiver, her hands shaking violently,

“ Dad, it’s going to be okay. Liz’s is going to get an ambulance and everything’s going to be okay,” Michael choked through the tears. He watched as his father opened his eyes, he placed a bloody hand around Michael’s face,

“ Michael, look after Liz. You and her are very very special,” his father said. Michael began to brake down,

“ No dad, we need you! You can’t die!” he pleaded, tears raging down his face.

Liz’s trembling fingers frantically dialled 911.

“ I need an ambulance, and and the police, we’ve been broken into and my dad’s lying on the floor, I think he’s dying he’s been stabbed! Please come quickly!” Liz said quickly.

All of a sudden a bright white light seemed to spread through the whole house. Liz closed her eyes as it blinded her, and she dropped the phone.

She heard an agonising scream from the next room.

And then all went black.

* * *
Liz awoke with a gasp. Her hair was drenched in sweat and her hands were trembling. She slowly got out of her bed and made her way through the door and along the hall. She didn’t hesitate as she opened Michael’s door and slowly crept into bed beside him,

“ Liz?” he whispered. He felt her cold hands against his chest and her hot tears follow. He put his strong arms around her, and stroked her hair,

“ Shhh Liz. Shh it’s going to be okay,” he whispered as she cried. She looked up at him,

“ I’m sorry for making you worry Michael,” she whispered through the tears. Michael lowered her head back onto his chest,

“ It’s okay Liz. I’m sorry for shouting at you, I just got scared,” he said, as he felt Liz nod.

“ Michael?” she asked. He hummed in recognition,

“ You won’t ever leave me will you?” she asked quietly. Michael’s heart ripped in two, as tears slowly fell from his eyes,

“ No Liz. I’m never leaving you.”

posted on 21-Feb-2002 1:30:14 PM
Part 4A

Max rolled around in his bed. It’d been a good night dreaming, but now his eyes seemed to be super glued together. He could hear the birds singing merrily in the trees, knowing it was morning. He smiled to himself. Another day at school, and another day with Liz. His stomach knotted as he remembered how close they’d been to actually kissing yesterday. He pulled the dark covers up to his chin and sighed,

How could it be so easily to fall in love with someone after what happened? Max silently asked himself. He rolled over onto his side and looked across at Michael. Max did a double take.

There, lying facing him was Liz Parker. Her lips slightly parted and her brown hair flowing around her face, Max’s heart began to race again. Various questions plagued him,

Why was she in Michael’s bed? Max nearly laughed to himself,

Because she’s his sister. He reminded himself, not pausing to even blink. She breathed softly, seeming quite content to be in Michael’s arms. Max felt a tiny pang of jealousy hit his stomach. There was a huge part of Max that wanted to be the one cuddled up with Liz. But then, realising the very limited amounts of clothing he was wearing he blushed. Maybe he could be wearing just a little bit more when he was that close to her.

Liz stirred in her sleep as she began to wake up. Max squeezed his eyes shut and pretended to snore softly. He could feel her movements in the room as she lifted herself out of bed, and placed the covers back over Michael. He opened his eyes very slightly, enough to catch sight of Liz walking across his bedroom floor in her long shirt and panties. She clicked the door behind her. Max took deep breaths to calm himself down. He stumbled out of bed with vague thoughts of catching Liz before anyone else was awake.

But what was really playing on his mind was the possibility that the next time Liz came into his room, she’d be coming to see him.

* * *

Isabel couldn’t help but snort as a familiar guy sat next to her in the quad at lunch. Isabel had scared away a bunch of freshmen for this table, a table with a perfect view of Fletch. She was infatuated with him, and had even gone as far as to steal a copy of his timetable from the office. She wasn’t about to let this guy ruin it for her,

“ Get lost dork,” Isabel said bluntly, coming straight out with her feelings. She ducked her head around him so that she could see Fletch a bit better. She let out a snarl when Fletch placed his hands around another girl. The guy laughed, his green eyes still as mysterious as they had been that day in the park.

“ I see you’re still admiring the wonderful world of Fletch,” the guy commented sarcastically. He lit up a cigarette, which, in the middle of the quad, was strictly prohibited. Isabel had to give the guy his props, he didn’t care what other people thought, that was for sure. That was kind of attractive. Isabel scowled at the guy,

“ I told you the first time pretty boy. Ain’t ever gonna happen,” she said, following his example and sparking up her own cigarette. They seemed to be gathering quite a lot of attention, and Isabel smiled inwardly as she noticed Fletch looking her way. The guy just laughed,

“ Enough with the pretty boy stuff. I’m Adam, and I’m a lot more wiling than Fletch will ever be,” he said. Isabel turned to look at the guy. His burgundy coloured hair fell across his face, and his pale skin looked as if the sun hadn’t touched it in weeks. His nails were coloured in black, but what amazed Isabel the most was his eyes. They were green, not just any green, but a shiny, emerald green.

“ And what makes you think I’m so willing?” she asked him flirtatiously. With a second glance, this guy wasn’t as bad as she thought he’d be. Sure, he was a little up himself, and sure, he was different. But that’s what Isabel wanted. Different. The guy turned to her, and looked into her eyes. Isabel had never had such an intense moment in her life. His eyes seemed to overwhelm her, invade her somehow. In a way it was kind of scary. But in a way… she kind of liked it. He took her hand,

“ Because I’m tellin’ you, this town ain’t got anything to offer nobody. Come out with me, Friday night. I’ll show you a good time,” he whispered seductively. Isabel looked at the guy. He was persistent; she could give him that. Isabel’s gaze flew over to Fletch, who seemed deeply interested in what the two were talking about. Isabel licked her lips, formulating a plan. If Fletch was this involved in one conversation she was having with another guy, imagine the possibilities of what Fletch could feel if he saw her with another guy. She smiled,

“ You know what, I’ll think I’ll give it a chance,” Isabel said, leaning forward and kissing the guy softly on the lips, with hopes of making Fletch extremely jealous. Isabel was slightly taken back when Adam ran his tongue along her bottom lip, and before she knew it, she was actually enjoying kissing him…

* * *

Alex stabbed at his frog in Biology. He’d been thankful to know at least one guy in his class, although he hadn’t been overjoyed when he’d found out Michael was just as useless at Biology as he was. Alex poked at it with the scalpel again, and turned to Michael,

“ Yep, it’s dead,” he said, a serious look of pain on his face. Michael managed a smile,

“ Alex, you’re crazy you know that?” Michael said, taking the scalpel off Alex and cutting the frog open. Alex grabbed at his chest,

“ Oh! You got me!” he cried, slumping over the table.

Michael shook his head. Alex was a real nutcase, though Michael couldn’t deny he was hilarious. He watched as Alex snuck up behind an unsuspecting group of girls who had their back turned to their project. He took the frog off the dissecting plate, and said,

“ Girls, I think your project has got up and walked away,” he said, holding the frog in one hand behind his back. Michael snickered as he watched the girls hunt for the frog, and at the best moment, Alex slid the frog down one of the girl’s tops, and ran back to his seat next to Michael to watch the proceedings,

“ Aggghhh!!! There is a dead frog in my top, get it out, get it out!” the girl squealed, whilst Alex and Michael struggled to contain their laughter. Michael fished out the frog’s intestines,

“ What possesses you to do these things Alex?” Michael said as he scanned the list of body parts and ticked off heart. Alex played with his bit of paper,

“ I just think people are way too serious. They need to lighten up a little you know? How bout you and Liz, you sort everything out? I think its kind of my fault, I suggested that we go out for ice cream and one thing kind of led to another…” Alex said, poking the frog’s intestines lightly. Michael looked at him, sweeping his hair back off his face,

“ Yeah I know. I kind of flipped out when she was late. You must think I’m a total jerk,” Michael said, ticking off more names on his sheet. Alex shook his head,

“ Hell no, I mean, if Liz were my sister I’d be protective too. You know what’s really creepy? Max. He was all protective over Isabel. Do you think he likes her or something?” Alex said curiously. Michael laughed as Alex squashed the frog’s intestines harder. There was no doubt in Michael’s mind that Alex wanted Isabel himself, although personally, Michael couldn’t see the attraction,

“ Probably. The guy freaks me out, I think Liz has been spending a load of time with him, and I’m not happy about it,” Michael said as he sat on his stool and rested his head on his hands. Alex stopped poking the frog for a second,

“ Isn’t it her life though? You’ve got to be careful, you know girls can be really touchy when they think they’re being over-protected,” Alex said. He smiled as he thought of Liz and Maria at the Ice Cream parlour the other evening. They’d chatted for hours, Liz about biology and vanilla ice cream, and Maria about her herbal remedies and singing career. It was so normal, and Alex loved it.

“ But Liz’ll get too close too quickly, and she’ll get her heart ripped out. Kinda like frog over here,” Michael said, looking at the frog. He hadn’t admitted it, but he’d hated cutting it open. Same as he’d hated watching the horror film with Maria, but felt that he had to stay – for her. He sighed,

“ I have to protect her Alex. I’m the only one she has,” Michael said, as Alex began to prod the frog harder and harder. Alex coughed,

“ But what happens when you need someone? If you’re always protecting Liz, who’s going to look after you?” Alex asked. Michael shrugged and began to poke at the frog with Alex, until their scalpels collided and a yellowy goo splattered all over their faces. Michael wiped the goop off his face and stared at Alex,

“ What, does trouble just follow you everywhere?” he said with a grin.

* * *

Max dropped his heavy school bag at the bottom of the stairs, and walked into the kitchen to get a drink. It had been a long day at school, and to top it all off he’d run into Isabel at lunch. Well, he’d ran into Isabel and whoever the guy she was kissing was, at lunch. Max’s eyes had nearly popped out of his head when he’d seen that. He still remembered her as the twelve year old, innocent Isabel who’d always been with him. The same Isabel who’d spent hours climbing the trees in the park, and watched as Max caught fire flies on vacation. But to take one look at her now was like looking at someone he didn’t even know. And he didn’t know her. Max sighed as he opened the fridge and took out the orange juice. Reaching to get a glass down, his mind wondered into his dark past.

How could my life have become so complicated? Firstly I don’t know who my real parents are and get fostered, then my sister runs away, then I get sent away to another foster home for something I didn’t even do, then to top it all off I find my long lost sister living at the same place as me.

Breaking out of his thoughts, Max realised there was no orange juice in the carton, and read the note on the fridge. Apparently Alex had finished off the juice this morning and promised to pick up some more on his way home. Max laughed. Turning on the tap and filling his glass with water, he noticed an envelope on the side. Turning off the taps and reaching out for it, he recognised the handwriting. It was addressed to him, and instantly his eyes began to flood with tears again. He knew who it was from.

Storming through the kitchen and into the lounge, Max’s eyes were stinging as he struggled to keep the tears to himself. Michael and Alex came laughing through the doorframe as Max tried to rush out, bumping into Michael in the process,

“ Hey watch where you’re going!” Michael snarled, giving him a push on the shoulder. Max dropped the letter and lunged at Michael, a blaze of anger and frustration filling him. Michael stood, taken back by Max’s lunge at him. Michael hit him back, catching Max around the eye, until Alex threw himself between the two,

“ Okay, okay enough!” Alex said, placing one hand on either ones chest. Max panted heavily, holding his eye.

“ What the hell is your problem?” Michael shouted. Max paused, keeping his hand on his eye and grabbing the letter off the floor. He turned around and stormed out of the door, jumping into his jeep.

Alex turned to Michael,

“ What was that all about? Did you say anything to him?” Alex said, standing next to a dazed Michael,

“ Jesus, I don’t think I’ve said two words to the guy, and all of a sudden he’s knocking me out. I’m telling you Alex. That guy is weird,” Michael said, rubbing his cheek where Max had hit him. Alex looked out of the door before closing it, and wondered what had just happened, and more importantly, what was going to happen now.

* * *

Michael shook his head, trying to shake off the weird feelings he had gotten from Max earlier. Usually when someone punched him, it didn’t hurt at all. Liz often joked and called him her ‘iron warrior’, but it was true. Michael had never been hurt before. He’d fallen out of a tree once and survived with not even a scratch. But as Michael pulled up a mirror now, and surveyed his cheek, it was bruised and swollen.

He grabbed a towel off the side and darted across the hall, trying to be as quick as possible so that Liz wouldn’t see him. He opened the door to the bathroom, whilst still looking behind him, and it almost scared him to death when he heard the piercing scream,

“ Michael!” Maria screamed as she frantically wrapped a towel around herself. Michael stood open mouthed, not having any words to say. Maria stood, her anger building,

“ You could learn to knock!” Maria said as she turned her back on him. Michael scanned her back, where an assortment of red, purple and black bruises were scattered across her skin. Further down her back there were what appeared to be cigarette burns, and scars of all kinds. Michael leant down and picked up his towel, still lost for words,

“ I’m sorry,” he said slowly, causing Maria to turn around again. She looked at him, her eyes gleaming with tears.

“ I suppose you saw them then?” she said, her voice quivering although she was trying to remain strong. Michael swallowed hard and she walked past him, slamming her bedroom door shut behind him. He closed the bathroom door behind him and locked it shut. Tearing off his T-Shirt and sliding off the rest of his clothes, he stepped in the running shower, and massaged his hair. He ached all over, as if the simple punch from Max had drained him of all his energy. The hot water massaged his back, as he rotated his neck. His heart was still racing from that encounter with Maria, but from past experience on walking in on Liz in the shower, he knew it was best to leave girls to calm down before going after them.

But what did the bruises on Maria’s back mean?

* * *

Alex tapped his feet on the floor. Then he tapped his fingers on the desk.

Man, this is really boring he thought to himself, sitting in his bedroom. Michael had gone for a shower, and apparently walked in on Maria, Max was, well, to be honest Alex was even a little scared of Max. Liz had stayed after school for science club, and Alex was all alone.

There was no denying that Alex’s childhood had been incredibly lonely. Sometimes he wouldn’t even stay in the same city for more than two days, and moving around so much made it hard to learn names, let alone form relationships. And here he was now, in a house full of people the same age as him and there was no one to talk to. He got up on his feet and walked around the hallway, until he passed Isabel’s door. She sat on her bed, flipping through a magazine. He gulped and knocked on the door,

“ Is it okay if I come in?” Alex said, expecting a no. Isabel looked up from her magazine. She smiled a little,

“ Might as well, got nothing better to do,” she said. Alex took that as a compliment and walked into her room, shutting the door behind him. He looked around her room, it hadn’t changed in the two weeks they’d been living there. Isabel had her own room, with a single bed at one end and an arm chair at the other. Alex sat on the chair and looked up at Isabel, who barely acknowledged his presence,

“ Hey Alec, what do you think of this girl?” Isabel said, thrusting a picture of a tall, skinny, pale gothically dressed girl in his face. Alex screwed his face up,

“ Firstly I’m Alex, AL – EX?” he said, drawing the letter in the air in front if him. Isabel lay tummy down on the bed, and continued to flip through the magazine. Isabel shrugged,

“ Whatever,” she said unenthusiastically. Alex went over to join her on the bed,

“ I think she’s okay, but I think she’s hotter,” Alex said, pointing to a picture of a girl with long blonde hair wearing a simple purple dress. Isabel raised her eyebrows,

“ Isn’t that a bit… normal?” Isabel said, searching for the right words. Alex slowly took a seat beside her.

“ I guess, just in my opinion, that it doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside. If you’re an interesting person on the inside, it doesn’t matter what you wear,” Alex said, gently resting on the bed. Isabel laughed,

“ That’s a load of crap. Guys want big breasts and tight clothes. It don’t matter what’s on the inside, unless they’re undressing you of course,” Isabel said, giving Alex just a bit too much of an idea of what Isabel had experienced during her lifetime. Alex gulped and pretended to look through the magazine with Isabel,

“ You sound like that mystery brother of mine,” Isabel said, picking up the magazine and chucking it to the middle of the empty floor. This motion seemed quite bizarre to Alex, but he continued,

“ Oh, you have a brother?” he asked, and when he noticed the weird look on Isabel’s face he gave her an equally weird look back,

“ What?” he asked, Isabel shook her head and laughed,

“ I thought he’d tell you. He never used to keep a secret for anything,” Isabel said, almost nostalgically. Alex’s brain worked in over time, but came up with no explanations,

“ Isabel, I actually have no idea what you are on about,” he said, getting off her bed. She looked at him,

“ Max is my brother,” she said simply, beginning to go through a drawer and throw clothes across the bedroom. Alex went into shock,

“ Max? As in Max who shares my room Max?” Alex said, struggling for breath. Isabel laughed and nodded,

“ Hard to believe huh?” she said, taking off her top. Alex looked away embarrassed, and completely taken back at the same time,

“ Oh…yeah…wow.” He said, facing the window and scratching his head. It could explain his unresolved anger issues,

“ Alex, don’t you go spreading it around this nutty house. I’m warning you,” Isabel said, coming up to him, her fist shaking. Alex’s eyes opened wide,

“ Hey, hey, no need for violence. I’m fine, won’t tell a soul,” he said, holding up his hands. Isabel nodded, then scrunched up her face,

“ What is that smell?” she asked, stepping away from Alex. He blushed slightly,

“ Well, this frog kinda exploded on me and Michael earlier,” Alex explained with a grin.

* * *

Maria paced up and down her bedroom. She wasn’t angry, she was terrified. Michael had seen the bruises on her back. Was he going to tell Amy and Jim? Would he tell everyone else?

She sat down and bit her nails nervously, and nearly jumped out of her skin when a sharp knock came at her door.

“ Uh, come in,” Maria said unsurely, not sure who it was going to be. Maria got the second biggest shock of her life when Isabel walked through the door and headed straight to the wardrobe. Maria lowered her eyebrows,

“ Can I help you?” Maria asked, holding the hairbrush in her hand. Isabel turned around,

“ Yeah, I wanna borrow one of your dresses. I’m goin on a date tomorrow, I gotta have something to wear,” she said, as she chucked items across the floor. Maria looked at her,

“ That’s Liz’s wardrobe,” Maria managed to splutter through her astonishment. Isabel dropped the clothes.

“ That explains it all,” Isabel said, turning to the other wardrobe and empting out its contents, before stopping on a purple mini dress. She held it up to herself; Maria lowered her eyebrows again,

“ That one’s kinda short on me, and your legs are much longer,” Maria said, completely dumbfounded. Isabel shrugged,
“ The more you show the further you’ll get,” Isabel recited effortlessly, as she walked out of the bedroom, closing the door behind her. Maria sat back down on the bed, and ran the brush through her hair.

Well, my first conversation with Isabel didn’t go that badly… she thought to herself as she surveyed the damage created by hurricane Isabel.

* * *

Friday night came around too quickly for Alex’s liking. It just meant another night in, with no one to talk to. Alex felt a kind of repetition in his life, and looked up from his helpless slump on the sofa as Michael came in, and collapsed beside him.

“ Hey Man, you’re cheeks looking a lot better,” Alex said, channel surfing. Michael groaned,

“ Yeah, apparently I heal real quick. Alex, you want to you out tonight? I got invited to UFOnics by a couple of guys, and I aint going unless someone I know’s going,” Alex’s eyes lit up,

“ Yeah sure, I’m well up for it,” Alex said, coming across as a little too eager. Michael raised his eyebrows at Alex’s desperation.

“ I mean, sure, whatever,” Alex said, trying to act cool. Michael laughed,

“ You ready to got then?” Michael asked Alex. Alex looked at him,

“ You wana go now?” Alex said, looking back at Michael. Michael nodded,

“ Yeah, I kind of wanted to pick up a sorry gift for Maria, you know, she’s avoiding me after I walked in on her yesterday,” Michael said, taking the remote off Alex. Alex laughed,

“ Yeah, I heard that. What you gonna get her – a list of things I suggest you don’t get her are bubble bath, shower gel, shampoo, a pink fluffy towel…” Alex said until Michael hit him around the head with a pillow. Alex jumped off the sofa and ran upstairs to get his wallet, but did a double take when he stopped at Isabel’s door.

“ Wow,” Alex breathed. Isabel turned around. The streaks in her hair matched the colour of the purple mini-dress she was wearing. Isabel smiled,

“ I take it you approve,” she said, sliding on her boots with it. Alex leant in the doorway,

“ I guess it depends on if you’re going out like that,” he joked, but immediately held up his hands when Isabel gave him a fierce look.

“ Okay okay, I’m kidding. Have a nice time tonight,” Alex said as he opened the door to his own room and lunged for his wallet. He raced down the stairs, grabbed Michael on his way out, and the two were soon walking into town, laughing and joking as they went.

* * *

Liz turned the knob to her bedroom and walked in, stopping as soon as she had taken two steps into the place. The floor was covered in a colourful array of clothes, and shoes. She turned to Maria, who was sitting on her bed,

“ What happened?” Liz said, putting down her schoolbooks on her desk. Maria shook her head,

“ Hurricane Isabel came back for another visit,” she said, a smirk on her face. Liz began to pick up Maria’s clothes off the floor. She sat next to her on the bed,

“ We practiced this yesterday Maria, what did we say we’d say when Isabel came in?” Liz said, folding the clothes up into neat piles,
“ No! Please! I surrender at your mercy!” Maria said dramatically, then turned and smiled at Liz who was desperately trying to suppress a smile. Liz gave up and laughed. Maria pulled her trainers on,

“ Are you sure you don’t want to come out tonight?” Maria said, grabbing her purse off the side. Liz shook her head,

“ I just don’t feel like it. You and Amy go have a good time,” she said, taking the clothes that were hers and putting them on her bed. Maria pulled a face,

“ It’s only the Aquarium. I’m just going to keep Amy happy. She’s a really nice woman,” Maria said, hanging at the door. Liz agreed, all week Amy had asked if she needed any help with her homework, or if there was anything she wanted to talk about. She smiled,

“ Go on Maria, it’ll be fun!” Liz said. Maria gave her a ‘yeah, sure’ look, and walked out the door. Liz sighed. She was looking forward to having the place to herself tonight. She needed a break, people were constantly around her and it was starting to become irritating. Liz hummed merrily as she heard the door slam downstairs.

She took the opportunity to go downstairs and check the discovery channel for anything interesting tonight. The doorbell rang a second later, and, expecting it to be Maria forgetting something (which, as Liz had learnt, was one of Maria’s many quirks), she opened the door. Liz’s eyes widened as she stared at the guy standing in the doorway.

The guy must have been about six feet tall, dressed in a long back trench coat, his dark burgundy hair falling over his sunglasses, which were shading his eyes. Liz gulped,

“ Can I help you?” she said quietly. He walked past her through the door. Liz left the door open, as she became increasingly afraid of being left alone in the house with a stranger. He turned around, not removing his mirrored sunglasses.

“ I’m here for Isabel,” he said. Liz nodded quietly, as Isabel came bounding down the stairs. She paused momentarily, before grabbing Adam’s hand and dragging him out of the doorway. As he approached Liz again, he took off his shades.

A cold fear swept over Liz.

“ Nice meeting you again, Liz,” the guy said, trailing over his every word. Isabel pulled him out of the door, and Liz slammed it shut quickly. Her heart was racing a million miles an hour. She held her hand out in front of her. She was shaking like a leaf.

Stop being stupid Liz.

You can’t freak out every time you see a guy with green eyes.