|posted on 29-Oct-2002 3:52:19 PM|
|Time After Time|
Disclaimer: Roswell and their Characters don't belong to me. They belong to... UPN? Katims? Whoever.
Summary: Post Graduation. What if things went disastrously wrong?
Authors Note: Co written with my dear friend, Alexis, whose idea this story was based on. I changed the idea slightly, and developed it from there. Alexis then helped me iron it out.
Time after Time
Cyndi Lauper & R Hyman.
Lying in my bed I hear the clock tick,
And think of you
Caught up in circles confusion -
Is nothing new
Flashback - warm night -
Almost left behind
Suitcases of memories,
Sometimes you picture me -
I'm walking too far ahead
You're calling to me, I can't hear
What you've said -
Then you say - go slow -
I fall behind
The second hand unwinds
If you're lost you can look -
And you will find it
Time after time
If you fall I will catch you -
I'll be waiting
Time after time
After my picture fades and darkness has
Turned to gray
Watching through windows -
If I'm Okay
Secrets stolen from deep inside
The drum beats out of time
If you're lost you can look -
And you will find it
Time after time
If you fall I will catch you -
I'll be waiting
Time after time
2006 - Vasquez Rocks, near Roswell, New Mexico
Kyle Valenti, looking weary and defeated, stepped through the Pod Chamber's opening and deposited a large bag just inside the cavern. He was thinner than he had once been and he carried a gaunt, almost haunted demeanor. He looked around at the strange interior and shook his head. Apart from the fine layer of dust and sand, it looked no different from the day five years ago that Max had thrown them all out before he faced Tess, who he had just been told was responsible for Alex's death. They had all thought the place was destroyed when Tess had blasted off for Antar in the Granolith shortly afterwards. But that had been an illusion. With nothing better to do during their years in exile, Liz had studied the 'Destiny' book, and had translated more of the messages inside. While it was true that the Granolith sent Tess back home, it had remained behind. The ruination of the chamber had been an elaborate illusion, created by the Granolith itself as a form of self-defense. It had certainly worked on the small group of close friends who scampered for safety and had never returned to investigate.
"Can you help me, Kyle?" a breaking voice called from the entrance to the chamber.
Kyle turned, stepped back out into the desert heat, and helped Liz carry the inert figure of Max Evans into the cavern. With a sense of reverence, Kyle laid out his friend on the rocks, and carefully mopped up the sheen of moisture breaking out on the young man's body. Only the flicker of his eyes showed that he was still alive. Max also seemed a former shadow of the man he had once been. His face was drawn, almost skeletal and his skin had a gray pallor to it. Liz too seemed changed, affected by the events of the past four years. Her once long brown hair was now cropped short and had been bleached blonde to try and help hide her appearance from the roving FBI units. She knelt down over her husband's stationary form and started to weep.
"I'll, uh... go and move the car," Kyle told Liz. "I'll hide our tracks on the way back up."
Liz nodded, but her eyes never left Max's.
Kyle watched the young couple for a moment before his heart could no longer stand the pain. He stepped out of the chamber. Tears rimmed his eyes as he headed down the rocky slope towards the car parked in the clearing beneath them. It was not fair, he cried, that those two should continue to suffer for their love. When he got to the car, Kyle hurled out a curse to God, to Bhudda, to fate, destiny and any other driving force that had tortured their little group ever since the day a young man risked everything and healed a young woman.
After they had crept silently into the night after their graduation four years before, they had tried to do the right thing. But it seemed that for every good deed they performed, ripples spread out and caused more problems for others. It was like the Midas touch in reverse. Over the years, the FBI grew more skilled at tracking them, and the group soon lost the ability to stop and recuperate in small out of the way places. It wasn't long before they had to resort to crime to get by. Food, clothing, cars and gas. They needed them to live, but soon, their faces were too well known to find anonymous work. They had to resort to the only option left open to them, which only increased the danger. It had been years since their last good deed. A part of Max's soul died the night they broke into the convenience store and stole just enough food to eat for the next few days.
The beginning of the end began when Isabel found out through her dream walking that Jesse was in trouble. Naturally, they rushed to his assistance, and had blundered into a carefully arranged ambush. Isabel had died that night, caught in the crossfire when she rushed from the cover of Max's shield to grab Jesse, not intending to leave him again. A hail of bullets struck them both and they died together. As soon as they had managed to escape, leaving Isabel's body to the fate of a genuine alien autopsy, Max had shut down. It was only Liz and her deep, abiding love for him that managed to drag him out again, but he was never the same man again.
Maria was the next to go. Pursued by a number of heavily armed vehicles, she was caught by a stray ricochet that had bounced around the edge of Max's shield. Unable to drop the shield for fear of them all being struck by the hail of bullets, Maria slowly bled to death while Michael and Liz tried desperately to stem the flow of blood. When she finally died, no one could tell whose howl of anguish had been loudest. Michael's, Liz's or Max's. In a fit of pure rage, Michael stood at the back of their van, outside Max's shield. He hurled bolts of pure energy at the pursuing vehicles; blowing two up completely before Kyle failed to avoid a crater caused by a projectile fired at them and deflected by Max. The van rolled, throwing everyone into a small gully at the road's side.
The FBI agents lined the road and fired an unbelievable hail of bullets into the darkness while his remaining friends helped each other to flee. A stray bullet had struck Max in his cerebral cortex. Not only was he instantly paralyzed from the neck down, but was no longer able to use his alien abilities. He could not heal himself. They scurried through the night, with Michael and Kyle carrying Max between them. Liz had tried so hard to remain strong, but they could see that she was weakening. They had found a deserted cabin and once he had made sure that Max, Kyle and Liz were settled, Michael had left the cabin to find the FBI agents responsible. They never saw him again, but the gunfire they heard in the distance, and the huge explosion that followed was strangely reminiscent of the night Tess died.
Liz had cried over Max for three straight days. When he finally regained consciousness, he had said only two words.
Kyle had crept out that very night and had stolen the first car he came across. It took them six days and twenty-three car changes to arrive back at the pod chamber in New Mexico. Now that they were here, Kyle knew that Max would die. He certainly had the look of death about him. Once Max was gone, Kyle had no doubt that Liz would take her own life to follow Max's soul into the stars. Although the thought truly upset him, he knew that they would be happier in death than they were in life. Life sucked.
* * *
When he had returned from hiding their tracks, he saw that Liz had finally fallen into a somewhat uncomfortable doze, holding Max's head in her lap so that any movement would wake her up. She had such huge bags beneath her eyes that she looked much older than she really was. Kyle watched over them both for a while before he shook his head and crawled into the Granolith Chamber to give them some privacy. It was the first time either of them had crawled through to see what had become of the artifact that had done so much to them all. It certainly seemed as normal as the last time he had seen it. Except for the large bag on the middle of the floor. He crossed to it and when he picked it up, Kyle was surprised to find that it was heavy. He reached inside and found Liz's journal, the one she had sent to her father a few days after they had left Roswell, the one that she had asked him to burn. What was it doing here, he wondered?
There was also a note inside. The note was addressed to Liz. Looking back at the entrance, Kyle decided to spare Liz any more pain. He read the note, not out of any sense of curiosity, but out of his protective feelings towards his friend.
"Lizzie, please forgive me for not burning the journal like you asked. I thought that if I kept it, we, that is, your mom and I, Amy, Diane, Philip and Jim would have something to keep us going through the coming dark days. We discussed where to hide it, and Jim suggested here. He was surprised to find this amazing place still standing, and even more surprised that he was able to get in. He said it had something to do with Max. We love you Lizzie, and we are so proud of you. Mom and Dad."
Kyle tucked the note and the journal back into the bag. He would keep this from her for now. She had enough things on her mind. Perhaps he could give this to her when things... when Max... Perhaps this would help her later.
* * *
Kyle sat in the entrance to the chamber and watched out across desert scrub. He liked to spend a few moments every now and then by the open doorway, even if just to look out at the scenery. It was better than watching his friend dying. He had seen teams of FBI agents out in the distance, searching for traces of their tracks. They never did find out how they managed to keep locating them, but they had somehow always managed to zero in them. Michael had always claimed that it was the element, Cadmium-X, which was probably resident in Liz and Kyle's bodies after Max had healed them. If that were true, then what would have happened to his father? Or the kids Max had healed that Christmas? He gave a sigh, and returned to the chamber, closing the portal behind him.
"Well, the FBI might know we're here," he shrugged, "but they'll never find this place, right?"
Sitting at her usual place next to Max, Liz nodded. Max was sleeping again. It was something he did almost all the time now. They both knew that sometime soon, Max would fall asleep and not wake up. Liz always hated the time Max slept, and refused to leave his side.
"Yeah," she confirmed. "Their machines will confirm this is solid, and not even a nuclear explosion will break this rock. And even if they did find out about it, it needs the power from one of the royal four to open it."
"But we're not Royal four, Liz. And we can open it."
"Proxy," Liz shrugged. "He healed us, we have his signature."
"Oh." Kyle nodded. It was then that he noticed that while Liz was reading the Destiny book again, she was playing with a small, thin tubular crystal.
"Where did you get that?" Kyle asked.
"It was in... Michael's things," she sighed. "We found it years ago. Maria, Michael and me. When we were searching for answers. To Alex's death."
"Oh," Kyle looked away. Even now, after all these years, Kyle was still haunted by the guilt over the unwitting part he played in Alex's murder. "So what does it do?"
"I always thought it was the key Max used to fire up the Granolith," Liz looked up at him now. There was something in her eyes that Kyle had not seen in a long time. Determination. "You know, the time Tess left."
"I'm guessing it wasn't?"
"No," Liz shook her head. "That one must have been Tess's. But this one? I'm not sure. But I think... I think..."
She fell silent as Max groaned in his sleep. Her eyes were filled with a momentary dread.
"You think what?" Kyle asked when it was obvious that Max was still breathing.
"Kyle, do you remember that time I made you pretend to sleep with me?"
"How could I ever forget," Kyle looked away from Max.
"Well, remember how that was when Max came back from the future? How he made me do those things to push Max and Tess together to prevent the end of the world?"
"Yeah," Kyle nodded, remembering that night shortly after they left Roswell when Liz told everyone the whole story.
"Well, look at us, Kyle. In that lifetime I changed, we had fourteen years of happiness before it all blew up in our face. This time, Alex had only a few months. Isabel, Maria and Michael have all died, after four years of misery. Now Max... Max is..." she couldn't say it.
"I get the picture," Kyle intervened. "Not exactly a good trade, huh?"
With tears leaking from her eyes, Liz shook her head.
"I can see where you're headed, Liz," he continued. "But didn't you say that you had a friend, Serena, who did that for you?"
"No," Liz's eyes burned through her tears. "Max said that Serena helped me. I think that Serena told me it could be done, but I did it. Kyle, I think I know how to do it."
"So... you're saying that you're going back in time, and... what, exactly? When? Are you going to tell Max what was really going on with you and me, so nothing happens with him and Tess? Or maybe warn Max about Tess and Nacedo? Maybe you can stop Isabel from letting her mom make that tape. What?"
"All these years, we have discussed where it all went wrong. We've said it was when Tess came, or when I ran away from Max that time he learned of his destiny. Or maybe it was the way I handled future Max coming back. Or maybe it was the Skins, or the dupes. But we were wrong. All of us. Because we were happy with who we were with, no one was prepared to admit when things really did start to go wrong. No one wanted to accept the truth, because of what that would mean. Kyle, it all went wrong the day that Max healed me, the day that he exposed himself to the FBI. If he never healed me, your father would never have taken an interest in Max. My dress would never have found its way to the FBI, and the special unit would never have turned up."
"But what about Nacedo? And Tess? Liz, the Skins would have harvested their new husks and been free for another fifty years to hunt them down. And what about the Gandarium? The whole planet could die if that gets out."
"Tess only arrived because we responded to Nacedo's signal. If Max and I had never found that map, Michael wouldn't have known how to respond. Tess would have never shown up. With no interest from Agent Pierce and the Special Unit, Whittaker would never have located Max in Roswell, and the Skins would have been bumbling around in the dark and never found them. Isabel picked up the dreams of that girl, Laurie and managed to save her from Grant and the Gandarium. That had nothing to do with me. I'm sure she'll do it again."
"But, Liz? It was you who worked out that it was the lack of air that killed them. Without you helping them..."
"They relied on me too much," Liz sniffed, wiping away a tear. "Max is just as smart as me, but he let me do too much of his thinking. He'll work it out."
"Liz, the only way to change all that is to stop Max from healing you. Liz, I won't let you die."
"No, Kyle," Liz stood up, and looked down at her husband. She started to cry hard, tears raining from her eyes. "Don't you think I'm dying now? Seeing Max like this? It's eating me up, Kyle. I'm dying slowly, from the inside out. I'm going to go back and give the man I love more than anything in the whole world his life back."
* * *
They waited for Max to wake up before they left. Kyle went to the Granolith Chamber, waiting for Liz to say her good-byes. Kyle's heart couldn't stand watching that. He had inserted the crystal into the small slot like Liz had told him to, and was keeping an eye on the timer. Liz had assured him that Max would wake up before it was time. She had full confidence in their connection.
"I have to do this, Max," she cried into his chest while he was in a brief moment of lucidity. She had just explained what she was doing. "You do understand that, right?"
"I do," his sad, hoarse voice confirmed.
"But I want you to know, Max, that it hurts more than anything to know that I'm taking away this love that we felt for each other."
"You're not taking it way, Liz," he gasped. "I always had it. I will always love you."
"I know, Max. But what about me? I only fell in love with you because you saved my life. That new me will never experience the amazing things that I have."
"But you'll get your dreams back, Liz."
"I know," she sobbed. "But somehow, those dreams don't seem so real anymore."
"Liz? Knowing that you will be safe is worth more to me than all the love you have bestowed upon me." He was starting to tire. "Liz, I love you, and I wish that we could have had a normal life together. But I have no regrets. 'Tis better to have loved and lost...'"
Liz leaned over and shared a deep, passionate kiss with her husband. He was already asleep by the time she lifted her head, a sleep that she knew that Max would not wake up from.
"What's so great about normal?" she cried as Max's form turned into a solid blur and tears cascaded down her cheeks.
* * *
"He's asleep," Liz whispered as she crawled into the Granolith Chamber.
"Liz," Kyle asked in a tender voice when Liz returned. "You know, when we do this, when we get back... you and I will still be dating."
Liz had persuaded Kyle to return with her. He hadn't been in the Crashdown that day, and he was her 'plan B' in case something went wrong. If the worst happened, and Liz was shot again, Kyle was to prevent Max from healing her at all costs. Liz's plan was to prevent the shooting altogether. No shooting, no need for healing. Because she had been the one shot, she could not be in the café. Future Max had told her that he couldn't come into contact with himself, she knew the same would apply to her.
"Yeah," Liz nodded. "But without Max crashing into our lives, maybe this time, we'll make a go of it. Maybe..."
"It's just that... Liz, you and Max are meant to be together. Anyone can see that."
"No, Kyle," she shook her head and grabbed his arm. "Don't you see? We're not! Things go wrong whenever we're together. Friends die. It's better this way. Trust me. How long have we got?"
"Another ten minutes."
"Okay. We've set the date for early in the morning on the day of the shooting. We'll be appearing just outside of town. As soon as the stores open, we'll go and get stuff to disguise ourselves. We can't be recognized. We can't do anything that might raise unanswerable questions that will lead your dad to Max. You've got the last of our money, right?"
"Yeah," he nodded. "Walgreens have those $19.99 wigs on special offer. I remember because Paulie was going to wear one as part of his 'Crash' outfit. I never did find out what he was going as. We can get hats and sunglasses too."
"Okay, then I'll try and prevent those guys from ever going to the Crashdown. If I can't stop them, I'll call the Sheriff's office and persuade them to send someone over. If there's a deputy there, maybe the guys won't have that fight."
"Okay," he sighed, shaking his head. "But for the record, I don't like this. This goes against every tenet I've come to live my life by. This is bad kharma, Liz, and I'm going to end up being reincarnated as a rat."
Liz gave Kyle the first smile he had seen from her since Isabel died, even if was only a weak one.
Fate, Kyle knew, played peculiar tricks on people. You only had to look at the twists and turns Max and Liz had endured, and still they clung to the love they shared. Just as Kyle knew that they belonged together, he knew that without the shooting incident, they never would get together. Liz was dating Kyle then, and she was too nice to consider breaking up with him over the half chance of dating Max. It had taken Max getting beaten up by his friends to give her the determination to break up with him. Kyle, for that matter, had known a good thing when he saw it and would never have dumped Liz, even if she wasn't as... forthcoming as other girls he had dated. And Max? Max was too wary, too afraid of exposing himself or the others to even contemplate a confrontation with Kyle over Liz. He would never take that step and ask Liz out on a date. Without each other in their lives, he knew they would both be miserable. Kyle wished he could do something to help them both.
Liz stared at the timer. Five more minutes.
"Should we go through the plan again, Kyle?"
"No, Liz," he shook his head. "We've been through it a dozen times. One more won't make a difference. It's uh... pretty simple."
"Yeah," she nodded.
"Listen, uh..." he looked uncomfortable as he looked back into the main chamber. "I just want to say... you know... goodbye, to Max."
Liz nodded, and Kyle scurried through the tunnel.
"But be quick," Liz called after him. "We don't have much time."
Kyle crawled over to Max.
"I don't know if you can hear me, Max," he whispered to Max's sleeping form. "I just want you know that what I'm doing, I'm doing for Liz. I love her, you know. Not like you do, but in my own way. I know you'll never get the chance to... Just know that I do this for her, and that you'll benefit as a result, okay?"
Kyle lifted Max's right hand, and he clasped it with his own.
"It's been a pleasure knowing you, Max," Kyle shook the paralyzed limb.
Whether it was a reflex action of the inert body, or whether Kyle merely wished that he had felt it, Kyle was sure that the hand he was holding squeezed his back. He crawled back through to an agitated Liz, picked up his bag, looped it over his shoulder and together, they stepped into the Granolith.
* * *
September 18th, 1999 - Just outside Roswell, New Mexico.
In the stillness of the early morning darkness, in that time just before the sun starts to pierce the morning sky, a brilliant white light illuminated the gloom. Where there had been nothing but desert only a moment before, two people now stood, thin, almost emaciated and looking very, very tired. They looked around at their surroundings, appearing to not fully realize where they were. It took them a few moments to compose themselves.
"Wow," Kyle mumbled.
"When Max did this, he wasn't disoriented," Liz shook her head. "He just stepped straight up to my window and 'pow,' ripped the heart right out of me."
"Do you suppose it worked? Are we in time?"
"There's only one way to find out," Liz shrugged.
The pair walked into town, arriving while it was still early morning. A block away from the Crashdown, Liz checked the date on a newspaper wedged into the mailbox of a small store. September 18th, 1999. They were on time. Kyle and Liz set their watches by the clock above the town hall.
"Walgreens," Liz said.
"It won't be open yet," Kyle informed her.
"Well," she sighed. "What's one more breaking and entering? We'll take what we need, and leave money by the cash registers."
They made their way to the back entrance of the department store. Liz easily unlocked the door, a trick she had learned from Max, and Kyle disabled the security alarms.
"You get the wigs," she nodded towards the wall where Liz knew the hair accessories were, "and I'll get us some hats and sunglasses. Meet up back here."
"You sure you want one?" Kyle asked. "I mean, you already cut your hair and bleached it. No one'll recognize you."
"I really want to have long hair today, Kyle. I can't explain why, I just....
"Sure," Kyle nodded.
The stand holding the sunglasses was right at the front of the store next to the main entrance. Standing behind the display stand, hoping that no one would pass by and see her, Liz searched for two suitable pairs, with big, dark lenses. A strange noise caught her attention, a noise that she hadn't heard in over five years. Max's jeep, with a young, fit and healthy Max Evans, drove by. Liz almost blew her cover by running the far end of the doors to try and keep him in sight. A strange ache struck her heart as the realization of just what she was about to do hit her. She hoped that she would be strong enough. Liz wondered where Max might be going at that time of the morning, until she remembered that Michael was still living with his foster father at the Chisholm Trail Trailer Park at the far edge of town. He was on his way to pick him up.
"What now?" Kyle asked when they had emerged from the store with their wigs, hats and glasses pulled on their heads.
They walked back out onto Main Street.
"Now," Liz cast a sad look up the street at the spaceship perched above the entrance to the Crashdown. "We wait."
* * *
They stood in front of the UFO Center, still owned by Milton, the one that Max would not work for because he would never be sent there by Maria, who would not be so nervous of the aliens she would never know existed that she would not shortchange a customer.
"Are you sure about this, Liz?" Kyle asked for the twentieth time.
It was nearly time to take their positions. They had spent the day in the park, sitting behind a cluster of trees. As the time drew near, they had moved closer to the café.
"Yeah," she nodded.
Everything about Liz seemed... dead. Kyle had no doubt that even with the distance of time between them, Liz had sensed that Max, her Max, back in the Pod Chamber, had died. She was only just holding herself together to do this final deed before...
"I'm sorry, Liz," a single tear escaped his eye. He laid a sympathetic hand over her arm.
She gave Kyle a tight little smile. Kyle gave her a hug, stroked the phony hair that looked so wrong on her, and turned to cross the street.
Kyle entered the Crashdown Café an hour before the time of the shooting. He chuckled to himself when he saw that Max and Michael were already there, reading through the menu. They looked so young. Kyle wondered how Michael put up with sitting in that place for an hour or more, while Max just stared at Liz. A strange pain coursed through him. He hated doing this, but Liz had been right. He did not want her to suffer like this. He wanted her happiness almost as much as Max did. He pulled his eyes off of the two young teenagers, and looked over to the waitresses. That pain that coursed through him increased when he saw Liz. She was always beautiful, but there, as a sixteen-year-old, she looked so... so... When he saw the young dark haired girl giving a wistful glance at Max, who suddenly ducked his head, bringing a smile to Kyle's face, he now knew that he was doing the right thing. He had changed his mind frequently during the morning as Liz tried again and again to convince him, and herself, that her plan was the right thing to do. Kyle turned around and left the Café.
* * *
Across the road Liz started to panic when she saw Kyle, the Kyle from her time, running from the café as though the devil was after him. What had he seen to cause that? Were they too late? She tried to remember this day. Was young Kyle already in there? Had he paid her a visit that day all those years ago? Liz couldn't remember. He hadn't even looked in her direction. She was sure that if something had happened that forced them to change their plans, Kyle would have told her. A dozen possible scenarios ran through her mind while she watched and waited. It was up to her now, she realized. Kyle had deserted her. But, just as soon as she had come to that conclusion, Kyle reappeared, hefting his bag over his shoulder. She wondered where he had gone. She hoped she had the chance to talk to him before they vanished. He gave her a big smile and a thumbs up as he went back in to the café. Perhaps he had remembered something, something that might have affected their chance of success. She wondered if Future Max had encountered any problems like that. Liz watched Kyle sit down at the front of the café, next to the window. She waited a while longer, and saw Maria come and take his order. The blonde waitress gave no indication that she recognized him. Kyle had changed too much and Maria had never been that perceptive.
A few moments later, a sharp pain struck Liz's lower abdomen. Turning towards the wall of the UFO Center, she lifted her shirt. She was shocked to see that the silver handprint that Max had left all those years ago had reappeared. Two men walked around the corner, forcing Liz to cover herself. They were walking towards her, their eyes staring hard at the Crashdown Café. She recognized the men at once. They were the men who would shoot her, in less than an hour's time. Here goes, she thought. She stepped out in front of them, causing them to pull up sharply.
"You thinking of eating there?" she asked, trying to feign indifference as she nodded at the Crashdown.
"What's it to you?" one of the men growled. It was so distinctive that she blinked. No. She had imagined it. A trick of her memory. The pain on her stomach continued to burn.
"Nothing," she shrugged. "Just trying to be polite. Just that I heard the food wasn't all that great, you know."
"Well, we're kind of... hungry," the other man seemed so polite. It was hard to reconcile the fact that this man would get involved in a fight that would endanger someone. "But... uh, thanks."
Their eyes locked, and for a brief moment, Liz was reminded of another pair of eyes, eyes that had looked into hers in such a fashion far too few times for her liking. The memory made her dizzy. She wavered and started to collapse. The more polite of the two men reached out and caught her. Instantly, Liz was assailed with a series of familiar flashes.
A naked boy and girl walking alone along a dark desert highway with a pair of approaching headlights behind them.
A young, dark-haired girl playing with her friends as a young boy climbed down from a bus.
The same boy, older, watching the same girl, herself she realized, across the school hallway.
Shared biology labs with stolen glances.
Liz pulled away as a sudden cascade of unfamiliar images overwhelmed her. Images that showed lives of people she knew, lives of loneliness and desperation.
"Oh my god! Max!" Liz exclaimed.
* * *
The two rough-looking men exchanged frightened glances.
"Get outta here, lady!" the other growled.
Liz gave a wry smile. That could only be...
"Shut up, Michael," she spat.
"Who are you?" Max asked through narrowed eyes, but Liz could see that at least a part of him knew the answer already. In whatever lifetime, they were connected.
"It's me, Liz. Liz Parker."
Both of the men looked from Liz to the Café and back again.
"Impossible," Michael shook his head in anger. "Liz is in there," he nodded at the Crashdown.
"Yeah, and so are the two of you."
"Okay, say we buy that you're who you say you are," Michael backed away a little. "What are you doing here?"
"I'm guessing the same as you," she eyed the two men carefully. "I'm here to change the future. I mean... the past."
"I don't understand," Max spoke at last. "Liz, how have you done this? And how did you know it was us?"
"I got here the same way as you," she shrugged. "I came through the Granolith."
"How do you know about that?" Michael demanded.
"In my lifetime, Max, you and I were... close."
"We were?" There was a huge smile on his face. "We were together?"
"Yeah," Liz gave a real smile for the first time in a long time.
"How?" Max shuffled his feet. "Did I ask you out or something?"
"No," she shook her head. "Something more dramatic. You healed me. You see, today, later, I get shot and..." Then she realized. "Wait a minute. You're going to shoot me?" Her face dropped. "You came back to shoot me?"
"Yeah, uh..." Max stammered, guilt flooding across his face. "It was the only way we could think of that would make me go to you. You see, in our life, we never became friends. I was just your lab partner. You went on to Harvard and..."
"Wasted my life, and was a lonely bored alcoholic on the east coast."
"Yeah," Max gave a sad nod. "Uh, how did you know that?"
"I saw it."
"In the Granolith?"
"No, just now. When I touched you." Liz saw Max's look of confusion. "It's, uh, something I get from you healing me. I can see these flashes... images, the same ones you get when you touch things when things get..."
"So what about you?" Michael snapped. "What are you here to do?"
"Oh," Liz sighed. "Max, I've come to stop you."
"What?" Max was shocked.
"Max, listen," she grabbed his arm. "This gets really complicated, okay? But trust me. Us getting together will be a disaster. Everyone dies. Michael, Isabel, Alex, Maria..."
"Alex? Maria? What do they have to do with it?" Max asked.
"Like I said--complicated." Liz took a deep breath. "Okay listen. This is what happens."
Liz told Max and Michael the whole story of their relationship, from the day of the shooting they were about to commit all the way through to the disastrous last few years. She also included the future version of Max splitting them up. She could see that they were stunned with the revelations of what their lives would turn out like after they carried out their plan. It took Max some time to compose himself before he could bring himself to speak.
"Liz, in my lifetime, none of that happened. You and Kyle kept on dating right up until your grandmother died. After that, you broke up. You became closed off and introverted. All you did was study. By the time you graduated, you had no friends. Maria and Alex-- you pushed them away. They started dating, and... they got married, and then divorced. Alex, he's some computer geek in LA. Maria, she's just left her third husband. She still works at the Crashdown... making passes at the truckers just so she can feel loved. After you graduated, you went to Harvard. You, uh... you married this older guy. A professor. But he left you for another student a few years later. Apparently, you'd been drinking since your grandmother's funeral."
"Because you weren't there for me," she whimpered. "But what about you three?"
"Isabel and I graduated," Max continued. "Michael, he, uh..."
"I dropped out to earn some money for me and my sorry excuse for a foster father."
"Anyway, Iz and I went to UNM. You and I never saw each other again." Max sounded so sad. "But things just kept on happening around us. Strange lights in the sky. Some people died outside of town, they had these silver handprints on them."
"Like this?" Liz asked, lifting her tee shirt.
Max and Michael both stared at the mark.
"Yeah," Max nodded. "Uh, Liz?"
"You left it there. When you healed me. It disappeared after a few days, but it seems to have come back."
"I did that?" Max looked momentarily frightened. "Anyway," he continued, staring at Liz's stomach, now covered by her shirt again. "I guess that was this Nacedo, and... Tess looking for us. Then the ones you called the Skins started to appear, but they moved on after a while. We were never more scared in our lives. Then the thing with the... Gandarium? That happened, except we never had the help of you or the sheriff. We only just managed to get rid of it. It was... touch and go."
"After that. Isabel and I got married," Michael continued.
"You did?" Liz looked shocked.
"Yeah, uh... it was a disaster. It split us up, in the end. All we did was fight. Of course, we involved Max in our fights, tried to make him choose sides. He wouldn't, so Isabel decided that if he wasn't with her, he was against her. She took off a few years ago. We never heard from her since."
"Just last month, there was a huge story in the news. Four aliens were captured in New York. A huge FBI operation caught them. They tried to cover it up, but someone leaked the story. Pictures appeared everywhere, TV, magazines, newspapers. They looked just like us. A few people made some connections, made a few phone calls, and we were forced to run. We hid out up in the Rockies. We found an old shack miles from nowhere, made it habitable, and lived by sneaking into nearby towns and ripping off convenience stores. The story doesn't end there. Those four, the ones you called duplicates? They implicated a few people. As well as us, there was that film producer you mentioned. He went into hiding too. Actually, he came looking for us. That's when he told us about the pod chamber and the Granolith. We talked, trying to work out what went wrong. He said that I needed someone. Someone to give me balance, make me more human. He asked me if there was anyone that I ever felt drawn to. Michael told him about you. Langley said it sounded like it was you. He said that maybe... maybe I was supposed to be with you."
"Why would he think that?" Liz narrowed her eyes. "Max, I'm not one of you."
"No, that's not what he meant. He said that back on Antar, I made mistakes because I chose the wrong people to listen to. He seemed to think that I needed someone strong, someone who wouldn't care if I were a King, who wouldn't just agree with me. Liz. It was you."
"So you've come back to shoot me?" Liz demanded. "Why do that? Why not just have Michael tell the other you to just go ahead and ask me out?"
"Because I wouldn't listen, Liz," Max sighed. "This secret of mine, it makes me..."
"Different," Liz gave a wry smile.
"Yeah," Max nodded. "We discussed this, and decided that this was the best way. I would never have been brave enough to approach you. It had to be this way."
"But what if you didn't? Heal me, I mean," Liz looked worried. "What if you just let me die?"
"Because I know that the version of me in there won't let you die, Liz. No version of me, no matter what timeline, would let you die. I know, in my heart, that I'll heal you. I always knew that you would accept what I was, that you wouldn't be afraid. But Michael, and Isabel, they..."
"But why today? And why in such a public place?"
Max paused, and drew a deep breath.
"Your personality changes when your grandmother dies. We had to get together for me to help you through that. We decided that we had to give us time to get close, and time for you to break up with Kyle. As for public, it had to be somewhere where you and I were together. That meant either in school, or in the Crashdown. We decided there were fewer people in the Crashdown, and with the Crash festival coming up, we could pass it off as a hoax of some kind."
"I won't let you do it," Liz stepped between the two of them and the café.
"Liz," Max urged. "The life we led was just existence. We were miserable."
"At least you're alive. We all are."
"If you can call it that. Besides, you're not alive. And we don't know about Isabel."
"I'm sorry," Liz sniffed. "Max, when I left you this morning, you were dying, in my arms. I've never felt so... terrible. Max, I won't let you do this. I won't let you throw your life away like that."
"Who's going to stop us?" Michael sneered. "You?"
"I have powers now, Michael," Liz glared. "Every bit as strong as yours."
"I don't believe you," he snapped.
Liz passed the hand across the poster on the wall of the UFO Center. The images changed in front of their eyes.
"There's two of us," Michael countered.
"Yeah, and one of you is Max. And I know how he thinks, how he feels. No matter what timeline he comes from, Max would never hurt me. You're on your own."
Max looked into her eyes, as though he was measuring her determination.
"Come on, Michael," Max sighed at last, his shoulders dropping.
"What?" Michael demanded. "Where?"
"I'm not doing it. She's right. The misery we suffered was nothing compared to theirs."
"Goodbye, Liz," Max reach out, tucked a strand of her wig behind her ear and gave a lop-sided grin. "I preferred you as a brunette."
He turned away, cast a last, sad look across at the Crashdown, and walked back down the street. His head hung low in abject defeat. Michael gave Liz one last angry glare and hurried after Max.
Moments later, the younger versions of Max and Michael left the cafe, and walked over to Max's jeep. With a single tear rolling down her cheek, Liz watched young Max until he was gone from sight.
"You okay?" Kyle asked, having crossed after the two boys he was supposed to watch had left. He seemed strangely upbeat.
Liz nodded. They had done it. She hadn't been shot. Time had been changed and she had saved Max. She had saved them all, to live a useless life of forgotten dreams and lost loves. At least they were alive. She lifted the shirt to cast a last look at the handprint that had changed her life so dramatically, but it was gone. It had never happened, so it would not be there. Tears again flooded her eyes.
"Oh, Kyle," she sobbed, and collapsed to the ground in a storm of hysterical weeping.
Seconds later, they both vanished.
* * *
Unaware of her future self's impending demise, or of the end of a love that she would not share, sixteen-year-old Liz Parker walked, unconcerned towards the two tourists sitting in the middle of the diner. She carried their orders.
"Okay," she smiled placing the plates of food in front of them. "I have got one Sigourney Weaver, that's for you. And one Will Smith. Can I get you guys anything else? Green Martian Shake? Blood of Alien smoothie?"
"No, thanks," the man looked at his partner and shook his head. "We're good."
"Are you guys here for the crash festival?" Dressed like that, how could they not be?
"Yeah," the woman bubbled. "Can't wait. So...does your family come from Roswell?"
"Just four generations," Liz nodded.
"Uh," the man asked, "well, does anyone in your family have stories about the UFO crash?"
"Well, I guess it would be O.K. to show you guys this...." Liz smiled, sounding conspiratorial. Tourists! They were so gullible. And so eager to leave big tips if they thought they were buying in to the whole alien cover up. She showed an old photograph to the obsessed couple.
Maria walked by, looked at the picture of one of Liz's old cupie dolls that had been warped from being burned, rolled her eyes and continued on her trip to refill coffee cups with a smile on her face.
"My grandmother took this picture at the crash sight, right before the government cleaned it up," Liz continued baiting of the tourists.
"Do people know about this photograph?" the woman asked.
"Well, I know about it, and now you know about it," Liz looked concerned.
"Woah!" the tourists exclaimed.
"I'm gonna be right back," Liz told them. "Don't show that to anyone."
"No," the woman shook her head.
"You are sooo bad girl," Maria accused when Liz walked by her side back to the counter. Both girls had huge smirks on their faces. "Oh, and Max Evans is staring at you again."
"No way," Liz breathed, and turned to look at Max. He was looking up, but then he quickly looked away. "Maria, that is so in your imagination."
"Max Evans?" Liz continued. She pointed at her face. "This? No, nuh uh. It's not..." But she was so thrilled. Max was such a mystery. She had never seen him with a girl, apart from his sister. There was a rumor that he was gay, but Liz didn't believe that. She felt that he was just waiting for that right girl.
"And with those cheeks!" Maria teased. "Preciosita tan linda!"
"Maria!" she objected. "And, and even if it weren't I'm going out with Kyle. I mean, he's steady and loyal, and he appreciates me." She sounded like she was trying to convince herself, and not Maria.
"Sounds like you're describing a poodle," Maria's eyes rolled as she went to take another customer's order.
* * *
Liz climbed up to her room in the family apartment above the café, stretched her weary limbs and sat on the edge of her bed. She looked at her reflection in the mirror and released a deep sigh.
"What's up, Chica?" Maria asked as she followed Liz into her room.
"Do you ever feel that life's passing you by?" Liz asked.
"Of course," Maria nodded. "Every day. Why do you ask?"
"Do you ever wish that something monumentally life changing would happen and take you down a dark and mysterious road that's sort of... dangerous, yet rewarding?"
"What's brought this on?" Maria sat beside her friend.
"I don't know," she sighed. "Maybe it's what you said earlier. About Max Evans looking at me. Have you ever noticed how deep his eyes are? Like there's a whole mystery in there, and he's waiting for the right person to discover it."
"Someone like you?"
"Me?" Liz looked up. "Come on. Why would someone like Max even notice someone like me?"
"Kyle noticed you," Maria pointed out. "I mean, he's one of the more personable jocks. Not for you, I admit, but he's popular, and he asked you out."
"We sort of drifted together," Liz pointed out. "A summer fling while we both waited for something..."
"You mean someone..."
"Exactly. I'm telling you, babe. I think Max has it for you."
"What? Maria, that is so in your imagination. If he has, why hasn't he asked me out?"
"Maybe because he doesn't think you like him. I mean, apart from your bio projects, what have you ever talked to him about?"
"Nothing, I guess."
"Besides," Maria continued. "He doesn't strike me as the kind of guy who would move in on someone else's girl."
"He's just so..."
"Same difference," Maria shrugged. "What are you doing tonight?"
"I thought I'd stay home and make a start on my journal tonight. I think in this contemplative disposition I'm in..."
"Yeah," Liz chuckled. "It was in 'Word of the Day' yesterday. I've been dying to use it."
"Well, make sure you write that into your journal somehow. Alex and I are hanging out tonight, Liz. If your 'disposition' changes, call us."
"Okay," Liz laughed. "I will."
"See ya," Maria left the room.
"Bye," Liz called to her.
Liz continued to stare at the reflection of her appearance in the mirror. She wondered what someone like Max found attractive in a woman. Someone 'like' Max, or Max, she wondered? She stood up and shook her head. No. Not someone like her. She would need to be more full-bodied. Strong. Tough. Able to keep those secrets he has locked in that mysterious head of his. But why was Maria so adamant that he kept sneaking glances at her?
With a groan of frustration, she pulled the fastenings of her uniform apart, and pulled it from her. She looked at the dress, standing in her red spotted bra and panties before she stuffed the dress into the laundry basket. She pulled a pair of jeans and an oversized sweater from her wardrobe. Once dressed, she sat on the edge of her bed, and again contemplated her reflection. What was wrong with her today?
"When I'm a world famous scientist," she promised herself," I'm going to discover everything about all these little mysteries. Then I'll invent time travel and come back in time to tell myself everything I've discovered. I'll choose today. So that means any minute now, an older me will appear and change my life."
"I guess not," she smiled and started to chuckle. "Time travel. Yeah right."
She rose from her bed, crossed to her desk, and picked up her favorite pen, the one her Grandma Claudia gave her. Liz pulled her journal from bottom drawer, and climbed through to her balcony. After lighting her private place with candles and fairy lights, she sat on her lawn chair and opened the journal to the first page, ready to write. She stared in shock and surprise at the words that she didn't remember writing.
"September 23rd. Journal entry one. I'm Liz Parker and five days ago I died. After that, things got really weird."
* * *
Liz's whole body felt numb as she sat at her desk in the Biology room, listening to her teacher talking about the lesson. She sat up all night reading the strange entries in the journal that was hers, and yet, not hers. Entries that had not been there the day before when she had tucked the book away. She couldn't understand how her brand new book had suddenly become so old and battered, and filled with writing. Although the writing was clearly hers, what she had read was more like a... fantasy. A strange novel of aliens and time travel, and so not possible. There was only one person who could sort the problem out for her, who could help her determine if the entries she had read held any truth, or if she was the victim of some elaborate hoax. That one person hadn't arrived yet. She glanced at the door, nervousness sweeping through her like a winter wind.
"Okay," her teacher started. "We've spent the last week talking about genus and phylum, and now we're going to get a little more specific and talk about the difference between species. For today's experiment you'll be working in teams of two."
The door to her left opened; Liz felt her heart pounding as Max walked into the room. He dumped his books onto the table next to Liz and sat down, sticking his pencil into his mouth.
"Mr. Evans, so nice of you to join us," the teachers sarcasm raising a light titter. "Okay, everyone on the right prepare a slide with the vegetable sampling, everyone on the left, take a toothpick and get a sample from your cheek."
Liz noticed Max jump. He looked uncomfortable. He took the pencil from his mouth and raised his hand.
"Mr. Evans?" the teacher sighed.
"Could I get a bathroom pass?"
Liz noticed the desperation in his voice.
"High maintenance today, aren't we?" the teacher smirked, handing him the pass.
"It's very easy to look on the outside and say what differentiates humans from other species," the teacher continued when Max had left. She handed Liz the toothpick. "But what about what's on the inside? Everyone, look at the human cells and describe everything you see on your lab sheet."
Liz stuck the toothpick into her mouth, against the inside of her cheek. She prepared the cells she collected and viewed them under the microscope. It was an experiment that Liz had performed a dozen times of more and she knew exactly what it was that she would see. She glanced across at Max's pencil. After checking that no one was watching, she picked it up and carefully prepared a slide using the residue of Max's saliva on the end of the pencil. Even though she knew that she would see something different, she was still scared by the pulsing green cells that she was looking at. The journal was true. Max was... different. And if that part was true... so was the rest of it. Tears flooded Liz's eyes. She had to speak with Max.
"Max! Max!" Liz called after his retreating figure when their class had finished. Morons dressed in their alien costumes continually blocked her way. "Excuse me, excuse me. Max, I have to talk to you."
She grabbed his arm and pulled him towards the nearest room. It was the band room. Kyle was inside, beating out a rhythm on the kettle drums.
"Kyle!" she exclaimed. He was the last person she wanted to speak to right now.
"Hey!" Kyle pulled off his sunglasses, revealing that his eyes had lit up with Liz's presence.
"Hey!" Liz tried to act normal.
"Hey, Max." Kyle nodded at Max, his mind conjuring up all kinds of suspicious circumstances.
"Hey," Max replied, showing his unease.
"So. Did you get my message?" Kyle asked.
"Oh yeah, I did. I was uh, just a little..."
"Preoccupied?" Kyle offered.
"That's what it was."
"I know, Maria told me about how you wanted to make a start at your journal." He saw her flinch. "You okay?"
"Oh, yeah I am, it was just something that... you know."
"So you guys are...?" Kyle wondered.
"Um, we're looking for a place...to study, for our Bio midterm," Liz wondered why the journal hadn't warned her of this.
"Oh right. Right okay... Biology. All right, I was leavin' anyway."
"Great, um, that's good."
"Oh, I got my costume for the Crash this Friday. It's great," Kyle paused at the door.
"Kyle. We've gotta study. Sorry." Liz couldn't help noticing Max's awkwardness, standing to one side of their conversation.
"Right. See ya, Max." Kyle's words were laced with a hidden warning. He left the room.
"So... you're going out with the Sheriff's son?" Max asked.
"Um, yeah," Liz's mind was racing. "Well, it's kind of like this, this casual...okay, Max. Can we just focus here for one minute please?"
Max nodded, looking away, stabbing his hands in his pockets. He wasn't really sure why Liz had dragged him in here, but it seemed important.
"Um, I-I scraped some cells from your pencil. This is really hard to say; I'm trying to keep from blacking out here. Um, the cells weren't normal."
Max looked like someone was just about to shoot him.
"So, Max, what I'm going to suggest to you is that we just go back to the bio lab now, so that I can take a sample so that I can see what I'm thinking is wrong, you know? I mean, I found out some strange stuff, and it's like really big. And if that experiment was right, then that means what I heard was right. And I don't know how to handle this. So I need to know, that I got the wrong cells..."
Liz blinked. The journal was true! She needed this confirmation, and she just knew that if it were accurate, Max would tell her the truth.
"Okay, um. So help me out here Max. I mean, what are you?"
"Well I'm not from around here."
"Where you from?" So far, she was batting one thousand.
Max pointed upwards with his index finger. Liz's heart started pounding harder. It was true! It was true!
"You're not an, an alien, I mean. Are you?" But she knew he was. The journal told her so.
"Well I prefer the term 'not of this earth'," Max gave a wan smile "Sorry, it's not a good time to joke. Yeah, I am. Wow, it's weird to actually say it."
Liz grabbed her bag. She needed to think. When she had confronted Max, she had expected him to laugh at her. She was still hoping that this would turn out to be a huge practical joke. She knew, however, that Max could not make up the fear that was laced in his voice. So many things made sense now. She started to leave the room. She had to think. She needed to decide what she should do next.
"Liz...." Max called out.
"Um, Max, you know, I have, I'm gonna be late for my US Government class, so I'm just gonna..."
"Liz, listen to me," Max pleaded, stopping her by the door. "You can't talk to anyone about this. Not your parents, not Maria. No one. You don't understand what'll happen if you do. Liz please? My life is in your hands."
"I know," Liz gulped, and fled.
* * *
"Hey Maria," Alex sat with his lunch at the back of the cafeteria. "Where's Liz?"
"That's what I'd like to know," Maria sulked.
"Oh," Alex smiled. "You two haven't had a falling out, have you? Now that would be a newsworthy report. Not like this thing." Alex threw a newspaper onto the table.
"No," Maria snapped. "We haven't had a falling out. At least, if we have then I don't know about it."
"So what's up?"
"I don't know," she growled. "I mean, last night, I invited her out with you and I, but she wanted to make a start on her journal. So I left her. Maybe she's mad 'cause I didn't try harder to persuade her."
"No," Alex shook his head. "It can't be that."
"Then where's Liz? I mean, why is she avoiding me? Okay, first of all, Liz is never late right? She walks into homeroom today, and goes and sits next to Pam Troy. She like, hates Pam Troy and you know like, goes around admitting it openly... and... Alex are you listening to me?"
"Yeah, yeah, Maria. I'm listening to you. But this is just you being you. All right? Liz is fine. She probably worked later than she planned to, overslept and she's just tired. Okay."
* * *
They sat apart from the other diners at the Taco stand out in the desert. A popular lunchtime hangout, Max, Michael and Isabel preferred it for the solitude they could find.
"So, what's up with you?" Isabel asked her brother.
"Liz knows," Max said in a hushed voice.
Two little words that struck fear into Michael and Isabel's very core.
"I can't believe this, Max. You know, I finally feel like I have a quasi-normal existence and you go and blow it all with one random act of lunacy." She turned to Michael. "How did you let my misguided brother do this? How could you let him tell her?"
"Hey don't turn this around on me. I'm not the one who thinks he's gotta be Captain Truth!"
"She tested some of my cells," Max defended. "In biology. From my pencil."
"Great," Isabel sighed. "The important thing is, to contain this. We just have to figure out what to say to Miss Scientist."
Max looked guilty.
"Oh my God, you told her."
"I didn't have a choice," Max urged. "It was almost like... she already knew."
"No one knew, Max," Isabel spat. "Don't you realize that everything has changed."
"No, it hasn't."
"Max, she's right," Michael barked. "We're screwed. It's time to leave Roswell."
Michael rose from the table and headed towards Max's jeep. Isabel followed him. Max gave a sad shrug, and left.
"Michael, we can't just leave," Max called.
"Yeah, we can," Michael snapped. "We've always known this day would come. We said when it did we'd be prepared."
"Michael, where are we gonna go?" Isabel asked. "You know, Roswell's home."
They all climbed into the jeep.
"Roswell's not home," Michael shook his head. "It's not even in our solar system."
"Well this is the closest thing we have to home right now," Max defended.
"For you two maybe," Michael looked away. "It was you the Evans found on the side of the road, not me. They're like real parents to you. My foster dad just keeps me around for the monthly check."
"This is gonna be O.K.," Max tried to convince himself as much as the others. "We should just lay low. Go back to school and act normal."
"Act normal?" Isabel demanded. "That's your big plan, Max? Don't you realize it's only a matter of time before they find us and turn us over to some government agency where they're gonna test us and prod us, and, oh yeah, exterminate us."
"Everything is gonna be okay," Max urged again.
"No it won't," Michael complained. "Our cover is blown. And I'm not gonna hang around and wait for them to catch us."
"No one is caught yet," Max soothed. "I mean, we don't even know if there is a 'them.'"
"What happened to our parents?" Michael demanded. "What happened to everybody else on the ship? They were killed, and you know that."
"Liz won't tell anyone, she's different."
"Really? So how'd she react when you told her? 'Great you're an alien, that's fantastic.'"
Max looked away, hiding the pain of Liz's sudden rejection.
"No, I didn't think so."
"I'll talk to her," Max sighed. "If she won't promise me that she won't tell anyone, then we'll do what you want. We'll leave."
* * *
Kyle walked Liz to the door of their apartment. They had been on a date, one that had gone less than well. Kyle seemed to sense that things were changing between them, while Liz just seemed to be somewhere else.
"Well, goodnight," Liz gave a small smile.
"Oh right, right," Kyle knew something was up when Liz hadn't even offered a good night kiss. "Listen Liz, you've, you've been somewhere else all night."
"I know," Liz sighed. "I'm sorry. Kyle, do you ever wonder if...."
"Do I ever wonder what?"
"When you see me, do you, do you feel things?"
"Yes," Kyle nodded. "Of course. I feel things. Like what?"
"Forget it, I don't know what I was talking about. I'm just gonna go get some sleep."
"What's this all about, Liz?" Kyle demanded.
"Do you believe in destiny, Kyle?"
"Sure," Kyle looked confused.
"Do you believe that there is someone out there especially for you? I mean, like a soul mate?"
"Well, Liz, aren't we kind of young to think about that? I mean, we're only sixteen."
"Kyle, what if someone told you who your soul mate was? What if you found out that a certain person was meant for you? What would you do?"
"I don't know, Liz," Kyle admitted. "Why do I get the feeling that you're trying to say that I'm not the one for you?"
Liz looked up at Kyle, her eyes filled with sympathy.
"Kyle," she murmured. "I think I know who my soul mate is. The thing is, he's just too nice a guy to make a move on me while I'm still seeing you."
"Are you dumping me, Liz?"
"That's too strong a word. Kyle, I like you. I want you to still be my friend. I don't want you hating me, or M... my soul mate."
"Liz, how can you be sure if this guy is what you think he is. Who is it, by the way?"
"It's... I think it's Max. Max Evans."
"You're dumping me for him?" There was hurt in Kyle's voice.
"Kyle," Liz sounded sad. "Please tell me that you'll still be my friend?"
Kyle turned and he stormed away. A tear trickled down her cheek, but Liz knew that they would one day make up. Somehow, she knew that their paths would one day meet; that they would again be friends.
* * *
"Liz!" she heard calling from beneath her balcony. She had been expecting him.
"Hey," she called down to him.
"I have to talk to you."
"Sure, Max," she nodded. There was no trace of fear in her vice. "C'mon up."
He scurried up the ladder and swung himself over the low wall and onto her balcony. He stood and stared at her.
"I can't imagine how you must feel right now, I mean, I've thought about telling you a thousand times."
"You have?" she smiled, sitting back on her garden chair. "Come, sit," she indicated the space she left for him.
"You... you're okay with this?" Max looked confused, surprised. He seemed shocked that she would be so willing to have him so close to her. "With what I am?"
"Yeah," she smiled. "I admit that it was a shock at first, but I was kind of prepared."
"Prepared?" Max asked. He seemed nervous. "How?"
"I found this, Max," she held up her journal. "The thing is, it makes no sense until you get to the end."
"What is it?" Max sat beside her, and accepted the journal Liz offered him.
"That, Max, is the guide to our future."
"Just read it," she encouraged.
Max gave her a sideways glance and opened the first page.
"September 23rd. Journal entry one," Max read out loud. "I'm Liz Parker and five days ago I died. After that, things got really weird."
Max looked at Liz, his eyes narrowed.
"Keep reading, Max. You have to read the whole thing to understand. And you have to understand, Max. You just have to."
* * *
Max read the whole journal. With his powers, it was rather easy, taking only an hour. Liz watched the emotions fly across his face. Fear, joy, sadness, anger and despair all were visited upon him at one time or another. At last he lay the book down.
"How did you get this?" Max asked in a hoarse whisper.
"I found it in my drawer, in place of the one I bought the other day. I was as confused as you were..."
"I can't believe it," he smiled. "We get married."
"No, Max," she shook her head. "That was that lifetime. We don't know what will happen in this one yet."
"Because you weren't shot," he nodded. "Sorry, I was... Wait. So what happened? Why weren't you shot?"
"They came back."
"Me, and Kyle. They came to change their future."
"Why? What went wrong?"
"I wasn't sure, until I checked the last page. Read it, Max."
He turned to the journal's last page.
"Liz. Things have happened since your last journal entry. They're all dead, except you and I. Max will be dead shortly. And believe me when I say that you are almost dead. From the inside out, you told me. Liz, that is, you, decided to use the Granolith to come back and fix it so Max doesn't heal you. Even if it means you die from that wound. That's how much you love him. In a more lucid moment, Max agreed, as long as you were safe. That's how much he loves you. The two of you are magic together, Liz. Please find a way to work through this and be together. Use the journal to guide your futures together. One more thing. You have to break up with me. As soon as you can. Only please do it gently, because having you in my life as a friend is a gift I don't want to take away from me. Trust me when I say, I'll get over it. Max is a great guy. I always knew it, even then. Go for your dreams, Liz. We all loved you, Maria, Alex, Michael, Isabel, me, but especially Max. Your friend, in whatever lifetime, Kyle."
"Came back to stop the shooting."
"But that means we can't..."
"No,no, no, Max," Liz turned to face him. "We can. Don't you see? What we have here is a weapon. We know who is out there, what they mean to us, and whether or not we can trust them. We're already ahead in the game. Max, I know your secret, and it doesn't worry me. I want to help. I want to be in your life. And because of our knowledge, we know that we can have a future together. You and Michael can visit Copper Summit, and destroy the husks without them knowing who you really are. We can find and destroy the Gandarium before it becomes a threat to anyone. Michael can even help Laurie before it's too late. The FBI, and especially Agent Pierce will never know about you. No Topolsky. No Whittaker. And most importantly of all, no destiny."
"But, Liz. Is this the life you want? I mean, what about your dreams? Harvard? We don't know what will happen."
"Max, neither did they. And look what they endured just to be together."
"But, what, Max? Are you trying to say that you don't want to date me?"
"I do," he smiled. "It's just that..."
"Would you reverse connect with me?"
"In that other lifetime, you did a reverse connection on me. It's what I thought made me fall in love with you. But I was wrong, Max. I've always loved you. I just didn't know it. But I want to share that knowledge my other self had. Please, Max?"
Max placed his hands on both side of her head.
"Now just take deep breaths and try to let your mind blank out," he told her.
She did just that and was rewarded with a rush of images of Max and Isabel walking down the road and the Evans finding them, Max on the first day, and how he saw her. Then they were in the halls at school with Liz talking to Maria. Images of Max's thoughts of Liz since the third grade. Liz could feel everything he was feeling. She could feel his loneliness. Liz knew that like her other self, she was really seeing Max Evans. She saw herself as he saw her. She was blown away when she realized that to Max Evans, she was beautiful.
He removed his hands and stood looking a little awkward. Liz looked into his eyes; hers were filled with awe and wonder.
"We'll make this work, Max. We have the knowledge."
"What about the others?" Max wondered out loud. "Michael, Isabel, Maria and Alex. What about this guy, Jesse?"
"Well," she smiled. "Since we know how they react, and we know how things work out in the future, we work on them. If the spark was there in the other time, the same is true for them as it is for us."
"They're going to hate us," Max smirked.
"Do we care?" Liz laced her hands into Max's. "Oh, and something else."
"What's that?" Max asked, hesitancy in his voice.
"Since we know how your parents react, I think you should tell them about yourselves. And get Michael away from Hank."
"Yeah," Max nodded, though he could not hide the fear from his eyes. "Yeah, maybe you're right. But let's deal with one thing at a time. We'll start with Maria. I think sorting out Michael and his... life will make it easier for us."
"Okay, Max," Liz nodded. "But I'm not letting you forget about your parents. The more people in your corner, the better you'll feel."
"Agreed," he smiled. "Now, there's just one more order of business before we finish."
"Okay," Liz sighed. "Let's hear it."
Max edged closer to her and a playful, crooked smile crossed his lips.
"We know there were no... explosions, right? No... bangs, no... changing into little green things. In fact, we know it's... perfectly safe."
"What is?" she liked the dangerous look in his eyes.
"I have waited a long time for this, Liz," he grinned, tucking a stray strand of her long, dark hair behind her ear. He leaned closer to her, his voice growing soft and low. "And if you think I'm waiting 'til December for our first kiss, you have another think coming."
He closed his lips on hers, gently nibbling at her bottom lip. She returned all the passion and all the hope that she felt in that kiss. Like the first kiss they shared in that other lifetime, it was special. It was more than special; it was electric. Instantly, they both knew that this was meant to be. Max had no worries that anyone would be looking for him, he knew that he could keep Liz safe along with the others. They had endured so much in that other life. This time, they would not fail. They would lead as normal a life as they could, and would face anything that arose, together. At last, the soul-searing kiss came to an end.
"Wow!" Liz panted.
"I could get used to this," Max agreed with a shy smile.
"Time after time," Liz chuckled.
Vote for The Importance of Being Elizabeth
[ edited 1 time(s), last at 29-Oct-2002 7:58:24 PM ]