Title: Chameleon (Post-Graduation)

Author:
Carol000/spacemom

Category: M/L & gang

Rating: Every single one of them :-D

Disclaimer: They aren’t mine and they never SHOULD have been JK’s. He obviously had no idea what to do with them.

Summary: What happened back in Roswell after 6 local teens disappeared amidst a confusing military operation at West Roswell High’s graduation. How did the parents cope? Where did the gang go with no money, no possessions, and a whole lot of unsettled business between them? Who, in fact, was the enemy? Good questions. Here are some answers.


Chameleon

I’m Jeff Parker and 5 days ago, I read my daughter’s journal. After that, things got really weird.

[5 days previously]

The bell rang over the door to the Crashdown, and Jeff Parker looked up, squinting against the late afternoon sun. He blinked in confusion as the FedEx delivery woman extended her clipboard toward him and pointed to line #22.

“Sign here.”

He did as he was told, and she thrust the bright white box into his hands, spinning on her heel and heading out the door to her waiting truck. Jeff looked at the return address. He didn’t recognize the name, Beth Maxwell, but he did recognize the handwriting. It was Liz’s. He hurried to the back and stowed the box behind a carton of alien ties in the storage room. Now fully alert, he moved quickly into the restaurant and began to work, willing the minutes to fly by so he could open his package in privacy, his mind replaying the nightmare of the last few weeks over and over.

His daughter had run off three weeks before, the night of her high school graduation, and he hadn’t heard from her since. In his mind, he saw it all again, as if in slow motion: Max Evans mysteriously convincing the guest speaker to leave the stage so he could begin a speech of his own from a stage gone dark. Liz, rising to leave seconds before Isabel Evans also rose, whispering a frantic goodbye to her new husband and her parents. Then a motorcycle—motorcycle?¾roaring into the auditorium, then crashing out again with Max on board. Military everywhere. Pandemonium.

It wasn’t until later that night that he had finally tracked down Jim Valenti, the reinstated sheriff’s deputy, and learned that Kyle and Maria had disappeared with them. Jim had looked stricken, but for some strange reason, he’d seemed resigned to their unexplained departure.

Jeff was not.

After that, Jeff had sent Nancy, who’d been watching from the back, determined not to miss her own daughter’s graduation in spite of a problem with the balloons that she’d ordered for the post-ceremony reception, to find Amy DeLuca. What she’d found was a hysterical woman who was bouncing wildly between a total emotional breakdown and violent rage. She was sure that Maria had run off with that renegade Michael Guerin—a boy who had swerved in and out of her favor during Maria’s tumultuous relationship with him. At the moment, he had catapulted out of favor—probably permanently.

Jeff, on the other hand, went straight to the Evans home after speaking with Valenti. Somehow, all the drama in his daughter’s life always came back to Max Evans. Jeff had found Philip and Diane completely shaken, but not frantic, and Jeff had gone from bewildered to angry at their resigned acceptance of the situation. Jesse, Philip’s protégé and Isabel’s husband, sat bent on the sofa, his head in his hands, rocking slowly back and forth.

“Aren’t you worried about them? Aren’t you going to go to the police?” Jeff screamed, desperate to urge them to action.

Diane’s wide, tearful eyes were filled with sympathy. “Jeff, there is a reason behind all this, but we’re not free to tell you—not yet. Please trust us when we say they had to go, and as soon as it’s safe, we’ll explain why.”

Jeff stared blankly, idly wondering if somehow he were dreaming. Everything was surreal, and nothing was making any sense. “You know where they are?” Then the anger came crashing back. “Tell me where they are!”

Philip pulled Diane into his arms. He was shaking almost as badly as she was. “We don’t know, Jeff. And that’s the way it has to be.”

Jeff’s mouth worked furiously, trying to put words to the chaos of his own thoughts. Finally, his frustration erupted into the simplest of questions. “What the hell are you talking about!”

“We’ll tell you what we know, Jeff, but not yet. Right now, their safety must come first. Go home. Tell your wife that they’re okay, and that soon—as soon as we can—we’ll explain what we know. It’s the best I can do for now.”

Jeff had wanted to put his fist through the wall or smash that complacent vase of flowers sitting on the kitchen table—anything to jolt them out of this conspiracy of silence they had committed to, but he could see the hopelessness, and he’d slammed the door as he stormed out. Nancy and Amy had been waiting for him when he strode in.

“Valenti and the Evanses know something, but they’re not talking. All they did was promise more information ‘when it’s safe.’ What the hell is that? ‘When it’s safe.’ They’re in danger or something and no one will give us what we need to help. What is wrong with everybody!”

One look at the two women’s faces and Jeff immediately forced himself to calm down. They were a breath away from losing it, and he didn’t want to be the one who pushed them over the edge.

“Look, these are responsible people who love their children. If they say we have to wait, then I don’t know what choice we have. We’ll try again tomorrow.”

With that, they had ushered Amy to the spare bedroom, knowing she shouldn’t be alone in this fragile state. Then Nancy sought the comfort of normalcy and routine by fixing them some tea. As they sipped quietly, their minds tried futilely to answer the same spinning questions: When had they lost track of what was happening in their daughter’s life? When would they ever see her again? And—once again—did everything boil down to Max Evans and his shroud of secrecy?

Later, lying in bed, their imaginations ran wild. Or so they thought. For how could they have known that their imaginations would never begin to touch the truth?

The next three weeks had been nothing but unanswered questions and resolute, but sympathetic, silence from Jim Valenti and the Evans-Ramirez coalition. They uttered meaningless reassurances over and over, promised at least partial answers “when it was safe,” and kept themselves apart from everyone. Jeff and Nancy had hung in limbo, waiting for news they weren’t sure they wanted to hear, and praying that their only child wasn’t ruining her life. Now, finally, there was news, and Jeff’s heart was pounding with dread and anticipation.

When at last Jeff had hurried the last customer out the door and flipped the sign to “Closed,” he retrieved the box and set it on the counter in front of him. Nancy had gone to spend the weekend with her mother, hoping her frayed nerves would find some peace. His own had been so jangled that he and Nancy only seemed to feed each other’s anxiety. Now he found himself alone with what might be the first real answers.

He pulled the tab that would unzip the heavy cardboard box, then tilted it to allow a dark blue book to slide onto the counter. He recognized it immediately—Liz’s precious journal. She had been most adamant when she started writing in it that no one was to touch it. “These are my private thoughts,” she’d insisted. “I write in there for me, no one else.” They had been happy to respect her privacy. Liz had never given them any reason to worry or mistrust her—until last year.

Somewhere along the line, Liz’s relationship with Max Evans had started to lead her astray. Jeff had fought bitterly to keep them apart, but in the end, partly because of Jim Valenti’s reassurances that Max was a good kid, Jeff had chosen to trust her, and even Max. It had scared him a lot when he’d realized that ultimately, it was Max Liz would choose. Jeff wasn’t willing to lose her, so he decided to accept her terms. Now he wasn’t so sure that had been a good idea.

Pushing his reflections aside, Jeff slowly opened the cover of the book and stared in shock at the first words written there: “It’s September 24th and 5 days ago I died. After that, things got really weird.” Then he began to read. Four hours later, tears streaming down his face, his world had changed forever, and his fear for Liz had taken on a whole new meaning.

******

“I do.”

The words slid past Liz’s lips, familiar and full of hope, whispered a million times in front of mirrors, tucked between droplets of a shower, humming beneath the surface of every dream. Now they were a reality, lighting the eyes that caressed her even now with their love and amazement.

“And do you, Philip Maxwell, take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death parts you?”

“I do.” He’d done it. He’d married the only girl he’d ever loved. It was almost more than his pounding heart could absorb and the extra just spilled onto his face in a huge, goofy grin.

“I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride.”

Their eyes kissed first, and once locked together, the rest followed suit. They were used to the flickers of electricity that tickled at the edges of their consciousness when they kissed, then merged into a warmth that spread throughout every cell. Still, whether is was the charged atmosphere of the wedding or a physical reality, there was something new and different this time—an emerging clarity in their sense of each other, and they separated, wide-eyed and smiling.

“I can’t wait to get you alone,” Max breathed, leaving Liz spellbound under his heated gaze. They stood lost in each other, each wondering how they had come to this place that had seemed impossible for so long.

“Maybe we should leave before they turn us all into voyeurs,” Kyle quipped.

The mood broken, the smiling couple ran from the church, joy radiating from their faces. Max had never felt so carefree or been in such awe of his wife’s natural beauty. Her lithe figure scampered happily out into the sunshine, a vision floating in a cloud of white cotton, dark hair falling loose and shining against a dazzling smile. Max was overcome. She was love and purity and everything good in his life. He squeezed her hand and bent to kiss her yet again: his bride, his wife, his soulmate.