posted on 31-Oct-2002 3:22:53 PM
Issues of Trust

A Dark Angel/Roswell polar crossover fic

Sequel to Common Ground

Disclaimer: I don't anything.

Part I - Keeping Up the Act

"Please, Liz."

"Maria, I said no. I don't want to have a party." She took a long drink of her beer and sighed. The party was a bad idea but she knew that Maria wouldn't leave her alone until she relented. Even though it was a lost cause, Liz wasn't going down without some semblance of a fight; she wasn't a pushover even though she often played the part.

Since high school graduation, Liz had been allowing bits of her true nature and attitude to seep into her "Little Lizzie Parker" routine but she was still a far cry from total conversion. She had talked it over with Michael and they had agreed on a gradual adjustment. They didn't think that her few friends and casual acquaintances were ready for a complete personality overhaul and they didn't want to raise any undo suspicions. Meaning that timid Liz Parker would let Maria Deluca steam roll right over her eventually, it would be out of character if she didn't. Of course, Liz thought, it would only be after a significant amount of groveling.

"Come on," Maria urged, "it'll be the best birthday bash ever. We can invite all of your friends, have lots of food, drinks and dancing."

"As I've told you countless times before, Maria, that day is meaningless," she replied giving the girl a pointed stare. "Shall I make a list of my reasons? Hmm, let's start with the fact that I have no idea as to my actual birth date, I'm adopted remember. I also don't like to have lots of attention, which a birthday party is sure to give me." Liz halted her dissertation momentarily to see if Maria understood her. "Besides, the only friends I have are you, Alex and Michael. Two of which I live with above this bar and all of which I work with on a daily basis. So, as you see, there is no need to have some kind of fanciful soiree in my name."

Nope, her argument was a no go; Maria was purposefully being obtuse. She only ignored Liz's comments and continued with her justifications. "You're missing the point, Liz. It doesn't matter that the day means nothing to you; it's just a day to signify how special you are. It gives your friends and family a chance to show you how much you mean to them."

Liz gave Maria a skeptical glance and took a swallow of her beer, saying nothing. Normally she admired Maria's tenacity but right now, she just wished she would back off. It didn't look like it would be happening anytime soon however.

"Liz," Maria pleaded. "Birthdays are intended to be a fun celebration of all the years that you have lived. You're supposed to do something out of the ordinary. Be wild and let down your hair for once in your life. Let me throw you a party and you can shed 'Perfect Lizzie Parker' for the night."

If she only knew, Liz thought smirking slightly before removing her eyeglasses to wipe them clean on the hem of her oversized T-shirt. Maria and Liz had been sitting at a booth in the Crashdown for the past half-hour. The obstinate blond had been trying to talk her into a birthday party for the past month, but still Liz resisted. She didn't want the unnecessary attention, especially now. It had only been a couple of months since she, along with five others, had broken into a local military base to procure information pertaining to a secret government association known as Manticore.

Liz's brothers and sisters were now in the process of eliminating all of Manticore's sites within the United States and around the world, hopefully ending the organization for good. Zack, her brother and commanding officer, would not allow her to go on active duty to help out her family due to complications that developed during the operation at the base. She had argued that her near death experience had nothing to do with the mission, just her own imperfect physiology that she happened to share with each member of her family, including him. The argument had fallen on deaf ears, though, as he ignored the plea and issued a direct order to keep out of the fray.

After many imploring and long debates, Zack and her other siblings, however, had given Liz permission to run the command center in Roswell, New Mexico. Liz, her boyfriend, Michael, and adoptive brother, Alex, were coordinating the attacks, keeping tabs on all of the units and acquiring all of the needed supplies. They were busy night and day, working in the Crashdown and running the headquarters for Zack. The last thing that they needed was to have a big summer blowout at the central location.

"What if I like being 'Perfect Liz Parker', as you put it. I don't have the time or energy to be anyone else."

"So that's what this is about," Maria babbled determinedly. "Don't worry, you won't have to do anything. I'll make all of the plans, supply the food, decorations and music. I'll make out a guest list. Do you think that Alex will help me? He is, after all, your brother. I know," she spouted excitedly, "I'll have my mom make the birthday cake, she's the best in town. Do you want chocolate or vanilla? Never mind, I'll make it a surprise. Anyway, I'm going to have to make a trip into the city to buy supplies..."

Liz cut her off with a sharp, slashing movement of her hand. "Maria, stop. I haven't said yes. I want to make this perfectly clear, I don't want a birthday celebration in any way, shape or form."

The terse interruption did nothing to phase Maria and she continued with her rambling, "Ok, so it won't be a birthday party. How about an end of the summer bash? We could...."

Intervening again, Liz said brusquely, "Alright, here's the deal. Do you promise to leave me alone and plan this by yourself if I agree?"

Maria nodded her head enthusiastically, squealing in delight.

Liz sighed dramatically not attempting to disguise her displeasure concerning this decision. "Do you promise me that this will not be, in the slightest way, a birthday party and that I won't have to torture and/or maim you before the night's over?"

More head nodding. She looks like one of those damn dashboard dogs, Liz thought dryly.

"Then it's a deal," Liz said simply, her tone clearly stating that there was no room for negotiation. "You plan the party and leave me out of it as much as possible."

"You won't regret this, Liz," Maria gushed, moving over to Liz's side of the booth to wrap her in a tight hug. "It'll be a night that even you will remember."

A night that even you will remember. The words reverberated through Liz's head sending a cold chill throughout her body. Why had she given in to Maria's demands?


Part II - The Past Summer

Trudging up the stairs to her apartment, Liz continued to mentally berate herself. Why had she allowed Maria to talk her into a party? Why couldn't she be the strong-willed soldier when she was around that girl? Sometimes she hated the gutless, diminutive figure that she portrayed daily, Liz thought grumpily.

There had been something about her final decision that had left an ominous feeling in the pit of her stomach. A feeling that Liz wished she could place or ignore. Maybe it's nothing, she thought, but quickly dismissed the idea; her instincts had never been wrong before. Shaking her head violently, Liz attempted to force out all of the possible scenarios that were beginning to form in her overtaxed brain.

Walking into the living room, Liz grabbed a chair and rotated it until it faced the dining room. She needed to remove herself from her foreboding thoughts and knew just the solution. Settling down into the seat, Liz turned her attention to Michael Guerin who was, at present, leaning heavily over the dining room table submerged in his own thoughts.

He looks good, she thought, raking her eyes over him and taking note of his appearance, just the distraction that I need. Michael's meager attire consisted only of a ratty pair of tight, faded blue jeans, leaving his feet and chest bare. Liz wasn't about to complain; Michael was definitely good eye candy, she thought losing herself in thoughts of what his trim, muscular body could do to her.

The exposed skin of his back was well defined and bronzed from the long hours they had spent training out in the desert. His silky, tawny-colored locks had grown in length over the summer and now extended past his shoulders in waves. Tracing the contours of Michael's back with desire-laced eyes, Liz sighed, Michael really is a beautiful man, she thought smugly, and he's all mine.

Letting her gaze wander away from Michael's form, Liz analyzed the dining room. The area had undergone a massive transformation over the past couple of months. She noted all the alterations with a touch of sadness; it no longer reflected the loving household that the Parkers had made it. It's once warm and homey atmosphere had been replaced with one of utilitarian coldness and sterility.

After Zack had approved her petition, the first step taken had been to establish a centralized headquarters. Upon mutual agreement, they had decided to convert the dining room for that purpose, deeming it the most suitable area. Alex, Michael and Liz had acted quickly and efficiently, packing up all nonessential items and stowing them away.

All of the furniture that would not be beneficial to the cause was moved into other rooms. The hutch, which had once stored her mother's fine china, now housed their steadily increasing number of weapons: various rifles, pistols, ammunition, grenades and cutlery. Alex's workstation, which was once found in his room, was now located in the corner of the room and had been greatly expanded to include more sophisticated items. The new equipment was thanks to Logan Cale, a close friend and her twin sister's, Max's, beau; he had made sure that Alex had top of the line equipment before heading back home to Seattle in June.

In addition to the new computer equipment, maps and building schematics had been plastered over the walls until there was no exposed wallpaper. The largest singular covering was a world map that blanketed a third of one wall. It was peppered with colored stickpins, each signifying a Manticore location. Red pins noted the sites that were destroyed and no longer functioning, green those still up and running. Out of the dozens of pins stuck into the map, four were still green. Currently, plans for the final missions were strewn out across the table and any other available surface.

Sighing, Liz thought about Zack and her other siblings; they were doing a great job of dismantling Manticore. The only regret that Liz had was that she wasn't out there with them. She belonged out there, in action, fighting alongside her brethren, but she had been forbidden. Zack didn't want her out there after the last assignment Liz had completed. She had almost died and he refused to acknowledge her complete recovery. Smiling slightly, she glanced up at Michael's figure slouched over the worn tabletop. If it hadn't been for him, she would have died.

Michael had stayed with her sharing his energy and extending her life until help could arrive. He and his family had exposed their other-worldliness in order to save her life. Max Evans, Michael's king, had used his alien skills to heal a ruptured artery in Liz's brain. Not only did he reverse the aneurysm, but it also seemed that he had corrected the cause of the seizures. Liz had not suffered one in the three months since.

Despite the fact that Liz was more physically fit than ever before, Zack did not trust the aliens. He was not convinced that the healing was permanent and had vetoed any active involvement on Liz's part. Reliving the confrontation with Zack caused Liz's head to begin aching slightly and she raised her hands to massage the dull pain from her temples. Liz understood his concern, but that didn't mean that she had to like it.

In fact, Zack's whole attitude towards the aliens irritated her. They had entrusted their secret to five outsiders (Zack, Max, Logan, Alex and herself) in exchange for her life. It seemed unfair for him not to trust them; they had given up a lot to keep her alive. Not only did he not trust the aliens but he also didn't want her to either. He had ordered Liz not to tell them about her transgenic status. The only exception to the rule had been Michael.

Glancing back up to Michael's half-naked body, Liz felt her eyes soften and a genuinely happy smile emerge on her face. Zack did trust Michael, implicitly. He had begrudgingly acknowledged the seriousness of their relationship, especially when he found that Michael would do anything to protect Liz. Michael had a mutual respect for her eldest brother but always managed to butt heads with him. That was until they started planning the raids on Manticore.

The faith and acceptance that Zack had bestowed upon Michael had proved to be beneficial in more ways then in regards to Liz's safety. They had discovered that he was a natural born strategist; he even surpassed Zack's extensive tactical understanding. Not one of his plans had failed if implemented exactly to his specifications. The stratagems that he supplied were responsible for each and every downfall of Manticore's facilities. One by one, every operation had all gone down without the slightest indication of a problem; even after the security details had grown larger and tighter after each raid.

Knocking her head gently against the back of the chair, Liz made a decision. I need to concentrate on the here and now, she reminded herself. I cannot continue to dwell on the past or Zack's commands any longer. Soon the fight will be over and I will be able to concentrate on my life. Hmm, my life, my future and the role that Michael will play in it. I like the sound of that, she thought, smiling inwardly.

The pleasant thoughts quickly dispersed before she could stop herself. As Liz's glee faded away, she remembered her foreboding feelings concerning the upcoming party. Why do I feel like something bad is going to happen?

[ edited 3 time(s), last at 3-Dec-2002 11:06:03 PM ]
posted on 31-Oct-2002 3:24:09 PM
Part III - Dealing With Your Problems

Michael had heard Liz enter the room quite a while ago but she had yet to say anything to him. Turning to see what occupied his girlfriend's attention, he couldn't help but smile at the remarkable creature seated before him. Sometimes he lay awake at night wondering how he had gotten so lucky as to have her in his life. Liz was his savior, his lover and his best friend; they were a perfectly matched pair and fed off of each other's strengths and weaknesses. She was also the most beautiful being that he had ever beheld; her silky brown hair fell in waves to her waist and those dark chocolate eyes of hers swirled with a plethora of unguarded emotions when she was around him.

Taking regard of Liz's hunched carriage, Michael noted that her head was tilted forward slightly and both eyebrows were scrunched together forming a distinctive V. The most notable tell as to Liz's state of mind, however, was the manner in which she was chewing on her lower lip. It was an action she resorted to when something was bothering her. If she kept gnawing on it that viciously, Michael thought, it would soon be bleeding.

Sighing and shaking his head from side to side, Michael realized that Liz had been losing herself to her thoughts a lot lately. He knew that the inactivity was vexing her, it got to him, too. They were both itching to get out and do some active duty, to just be able to do something, anything, besides scan maps and computer screens. It wasn't possible though; Zack had made that point clear enough. Both Michael and Liz had been benched; they had to content themselves with helping out on this end of the job.

Despite the need to escape the trappings of their assignment, Michael had to admit they were doing a damn good job. Doubts had overwhelmed him at the beginning, but now he was actually enjoying himself. Military strategizing allowed him to draw on his past life as a general; he was slowly gaining insight into the being that he once inhabited. And Liz, her detailed knowledge of war games and military coups was amazing, not to mention extensive. They made a great team, personally and professionally. Alex had proved to be a great asset to them as well; he handled the transfer of information from the control center to the field and kept contact with each member of their forces.

The past three months had been enlightening for Michael, to say the least. Not only had he started accessing his alien memories, he had also found his human side. Liz had gotten him to open up to her; she had chiseled her way through his emotional barrier. They talked about everything from literature and feelings to military tactics and the Crashdown. The whole experience was new to him, Michael had never known what he was missing out on by erecting his metaphorical stonewall.

Due to Liz's encouragement, patience and understanding, Michael now found himself to be more laid-back, less quick to anger and generally a more outgoing person. Person, he thought happily, that I am. I have finally accepted that I am part human. Funny, it took another not quite human entity to get me to acknowledge that part of myself.

Enough of this, Michael thought as he walked over to kneel in front of Liz. Raising his hands to cup her cheeks, Michael gently shook Liz out of her musings and told her, "Liz, you need to stop doing this." She looked at him with a quizzical and slightly amused expression. "Ok, ok, we both need to stop doing this. We are both very valuable members of the team, even if we're stuck in the small, stuffy town of Roswell, New Mexico."

Liz sighed and Michael watched as she released her lip from the torture her teeth had been performing on it. Leaning over, he placed a gentle, but firm kiss on her mouth. Pulling back slightly, Michael whispered, "How about we finish up in here then try to relax for a while?"

Responding with a subtle curl to her lips and a nod, Liz asked, "So what have you been up to? Is there anything that you need me to do?"

"Now that's a loaded question if I ever heard one," he smirked. Michael picked himself off the floor and then pulled Liz up against his chest. "What exactly did you have in mind? I've been busy out here thinking up new techniques and strategies."

"You're incorrigible. You know that, right?" she laughed while casually kneading the muscles of his bare, lower back. "But you're also very sexy."

Suppressing a shudder, Michael released Liz from his grasp. Chuckling at her comment, he then turned and led them over to the table and the contents that he had been so engrossed in earlier. Gesturing to the papers spread haphazardly across the surface he said, "I was just doing a last minute check on the particulars. Alex is supposed to be encrypting the information tonight and sending it to Zack."

Motioning again, Michael continued, "You've already given the ok on all of this so you don't really need to look at anything. I'm just making sure that I accounted for every possible circumstance, you know how meticulous I've become about these things. I don't want Zack to kick my ass again, he's a lot more malicious than you are when it comes to sparring."

Encountering silence on Liz's part, instead of the laugh he had been anticipating, Michael turned to see what she was doing. His quick surveillance was greeted with an absent look in her eyes and the knowledge that she had resumed mauling her lower lip. Something must have happened today, he thought, she seems a bit out of it. Stepping behind her small body, Michael wrapped his arms around her abdomen and whispered into her hair, "Do you want to tell me about it?"

Michael heard a loud breath of air escape Liz's lips and then felt her rotate in his arms until their chests were pressed together. Her body pulled back slightly and her head inclined to meet his steady gaze. "It's nothing really," she hedged and he gave her an incredulous look, raising his eyebrows, urging her to continue. "I just have a bad feeling, that's all."

"What about?" he asked curiously. "Things have been going so well for us, your family, and Alex the last couple of months that it's only natural that you feel that way."

Liz shook her head in disagreement. "It's more then that, Michael. It's like an instinct; I can feel something sinister moving in our direction. I just don't know when it will be here or what it's going to be."

"Ok, let's think about this," Michael said earnestly. "When did you pick up this impression?"

"WhenItoldMariathatshecouldthrowapartyintheCrashdown," she said while ducking her head sheepishly.

The words rushed out of Liz's mouth so quickly that Michael had a hard time understanding them. Realization dawned on him and he let loose a hearty laugh, his whole body shaking. "She finally broke you down, huh? I swear that woman could negotiate the Queen of England into abdicating her throne to the Prime Minister of France."

"Please, Michael," she pleaded, her voice barely masking the fear that it contained. "Don't joke about this. Something is going to happen, my instincts have never been wrong before. I just want us to be prepared for anything. I can't lose anyone, not now that I have a chance to really live."

Noticing the unshed tears in Liz's eyes, Michael pulled her tightly against his chest and rubbed her back soothingly. It wasn't like her to be this scared, she was really shaken. "I'm sorry that I'm being so flippant about this. I'll take it seriously; we'll do everything we can to prevent this unforeseen force from harming us. I just don't think that there is anything else that we can do that we're not already doing. We've currently got this place secured more tightly than Fort Knox. No one can get in without our knowledge."

"I know. I'm probably just being paranoid. Or maybe it's just the lack of action getting to me." Michael smirked down at Liz and she amended her statement. "Ok, so the lack of military action is getting to me."

Liz playfully pushed Michael away from her. "I'm growing weary of this kind of talk, it's all we do anymore," she said. "Let's go do something tonight. I'm tired of being cooped up in this apartment; I only leave to go downstairs to tend bar and outside to beat you and Alex senseless at the quarry. I think we're both ready for a change of scenery and some fresh air. How about a movie or maybe dinner at Senor Chow's?"

Shaking his head ruefully, Michael grinned at Liz. "You've forgotten haven't you?"

"Forgotten what?" she asked feigning fear.

"You, me, three other aliens, Alex, dinner," Michael stated warily and backing up so that he was out of hitting range.

Watching Liz, he saw her grow rigid before she scowled and groaned out loud, "Maybe I just blocked it out, you know a defense mechanism. An evening out with your family doesn't promise to be very pleasant."

"Come on. It won't be that bad."

"They don't hate you," she retorted spitefully.

"Liz," Michael said reproachfully, "Alex is going to be there, too. They haven't quite accepted him either, you can't leave him to face the wolves alone."

"Stop trying to convince me. I haven't changed my mind. I said that I would go and I will, but I make no promises where Tess Harding is concerned. If she tries anything, I'm going to make sure she doesn't do it again," Liz growled with conviction.

"That was an accident," Michael told her, but he really didn't believe it either. Tess had made it perfectly clear what she thought of Liz. The last time that Michael had taken Liz to a group meeting, the queen had 'unintentionally' thrown his girlfriend across the room and through a second floor window. Liz, being who she was, had avoided injury, but had refused to be included in any future dealings with the group. It had taken a lot of maneuvering on his part to get Liz to agree to another meeting; Michael had been extremely fortunate that he was well-versed in strategy, he grinned at the memory of his tactics.

"Like hell that was an accident," she barked, scowling at him. "The only promise I'm going to make, in regards to tonight, is that I won't kill her," she paused meaningfully, "not intentionally anyway. Tess makes me believe that Zack is right about your family and that I should stay as far away from them as possible."

"Zack is wrong and someday I'll prove that to you." Liz looked at him skeptically and he sighed. "I guess, however, that your promise is the best that I'm going to get from you tonight." Michael leaned in and placed a gentle kiss on Liz's forehead. "Why don't you go in and start getting ready, I'll join you in a couple of minutes." He rubbed her back gently and continued, "Maybe I'll find someway to ease your stress." Liz smiled seductively at him and sauntered out of the room.


Part IV - Phoning Family

The warm bath water surrounded Liz's body soothing her all-to-tense muscles. Tonight was sure to be a test of her will and she wasn't looking forward to it. Each of the aliens had made their stance in regards to her perfectly obvious; they did not want Liz involved in Michael's life in any capacity. She was only a human and not worthy of his affection. According to what they had told her, he would soon grow tired of her and leave. They had refused to acknowledge the relationship even after Michael gave up his apartment and moved in with her and Alex above the Crashdown. Liz released an exasperated sigh before completely submerging her head under the water's surface trying to drown her sorrows in the wet depths of the bathtub.

Michael kept insisting that they would come around, but Liz wasn't so sure and she suspected that he was losing confidence as well. Still, he was eternally hopeful partially due to the fact that he hadn't been witness to most of their spiteful words and actions.

At one time, it had appeared that Max and Isabel were beginning to accept the relationship, to even encourage it. That was, however, until the night that Tess had tried to scare her away. After Liz had been thrown through the window, Michael was the only one that expressed any concern to her well-being. She would have passed it off as nothing out of ordinary if she hadn't seen the look that passed between the Evans twins and Tess just prior to her alien-induced flight through the air.

From that day forth, Liz avoided the other three members of the Royal Four at all costs. It was not that she was afraid of what they might do to her, but because of what she might do to them. As it was, Michael had to interfere several times when events had started to become too heated. She still wasn't sure as to how he had talked her into eating with them tonight. All she could recall was seductive music and candlelight followed by Alex's pounding on the bedroom door for them to be quiet.

Still holding her breath, Liz felt her connection to her sister flare up in the back of her mind. "Hey, Maxie. Don't you have better things to do then try to sort out your sister's befuddled head?"

"Ash, it's good to talk to you too," she replied sarcastically. "I'm worried about you, that's all. You've been giving off emotions in Herculean waves the last couple of days. None of them very happy, I might add."

"It's just been a long week, Sis, and it looks to be an even longer night. Michael talked me into going out with the Pod Squad for dinner." Liz mentally groaned and heard Max return the sentiment.

"Do you need me to come down there and help you kick some alien ass? It'd be a nice change of pace from the missions that I've been going on for Zack."

Liz smiled, she could always count on her sister to understand. "Nah, I can handle them. I still have the element of surprise on my part. They probably wouldn't bother me so much if they knew that I could kill all three of them without breaking a sweat or a second thought. I just had to go and promise Michael that I wouldn't harm them permanently. What was I thinking?"

Laughter flooded through the mental connection. "So what else have you been up to, Ash? Anything exciting happening on the Roswellian front?"

Welcoming the change in dialogue, Liz relaxed and enjoyed the conversation with her sister.

posted on 31-Oct-2002 3:25:14 PM
Part V - Tactical Advantage

Finishing the final perusal of the documents for the upcoming mission, Michael turned and yelled towards Alex's bedroom, "Alex, get your ass out here. I'm ready for your expertise."

Alex poked his head out his door and smiled grudgingly, "At least you said my name this time. I was getting tired of hey you."

Michael smirked at his friend as Alex made his way over to the computer. It had become a nightly ritual for them to ridicule each other, it helped ease the tension around the apartment and distract them from the seriousness of their situation. "Don't get your panties in a bunch, man, it's just a routine email. You know encrypt, upload, send. Think you can handle all of that?"

Settling into the desk chair, Alex answered wryly, "If Michael Guerin can plan a covert offensive without breaking a nail then I can surely get this done and not have a life-altering incident."

Leaning against the desk, Michael turned his attention to the computer screen and took on a more serious tone, "Just let me know if you have any problems. I'm going to try to calm Liz down before we head out tonight."

Grimacing, Alex continued to punch away at the keyboard. "You knew that Liz would react this way, after all, you did trick her into going tonight."

"I did not use any chicanery," he grinned wolfishly. "I just used my ... charm and ... winning personality."

Alex groaned, "I don't want to hear about it. She's still my sister; it's enough that I am exposed to the noises coming out of your bedroom every night." Sighing, he turned to face Michael and asked sincerely, "Why is it that they accept me dating Isabel, but not Liz and you?"

Rubbing his temples, Michael straightened up and frowned, "I don't know and I'm tired of dealing with it. It's my life, damn it, and they are just going to have to deal with my decisions. Liz is a permanent fixture in my life, I wouldn't give her up for anything, that includes the answers to my existence."

"Well, as her brother, I'm glad to hear that. You both bring out the best in each other, eventually they'll see that."

"Thanks, Alex. I'm going to leave you to your business now while I go check on Liz."


Part VI - Washing It All Away

Walking into the bathroom, Michael failed to see Liz immediately only the large tub in the back of the room. Panicking slightly, he remembered her earlier warnings, they must have shaken me more than I realized. Forcing his body to remain calm, he crept closer to the edge of the bathtub. Seeing Liz lying motionless beneath the water's surface, Michael stifled a shout and reached over preparing to pull her out.

Before his hand could touch her, however, Liz's eyes popped open, startling him. God, I hate it when she does that. As Michael watched, she raised her head up out of the water and turned towards him. "I was beginning to give up on you, stud muffin," she teased. "Bathing just isn't the same without my favorite water toy."

Michael released a deep breath once he had assured himself of her safety. He took in her appearance, roguishly scanning her curves. It didn't matter how many times he had seen Liz's nude body; he still reacted to it in the same manner, with an overwhelming desire to ravish her. She's beyond gorgeous, he thought, noting the glitter of light that played across her water-drenched form. Moving in towards Liz, Michael took her lips with his own and gave her a hard, passion-filled kiss. Grinning, he stood back up and stripped out of his jeans before climbing into the tub behind her.

"It's nice to see you're in a better mood. I guess that the bath is helping out?" Michael asked as he wrapped his arms around Liz's naked chest.

Liz tilted her head back until it rested on his chest. When he could see her chocolate tinted eyes, she answered, "Actually, I was talking to Max before you came in here. She always seems to make me feel a little bit better."

Smirking down at Liz, Michael replied, "I'll wager that I can do a better job of cheering you up than she can." As he told her this, Michael repositioned his hands on her thighs and began to massage them rhythmically.

"Don't be too sure of yourself, buddy," she said playfully, relaxing at his ministrations. "Max offered to come down here and help me control the alien population. You know have your alien spayed or neutered; I think I saw that on a television show one time when I was younger. Anyway, I think that kicking some extraterrestrial ass would take quite a load off of my shoulders."

Feigning hurt, Michael stopped moving his hands and answered, "And what, beating the shit out of me every day at practice doesn't aid your recovery in the least bit? If that's the case, I'm just going to have to find a better way to spend my time." Liz scowled at him. "Just promise me, Liz, that you'll pretend to have a good time tonight?"

Liz rolled over in the water until she was straddling Michael's lap. Cupping his face in both of her hands, she told him, "I'm tired of talking about the petty differences in opinion that I have with your family. I promise that I won't, intentionally, provoke any one of them tonight. I can be civil and am an accomplished actress."

Michael pulled Liz in closely to his rapidly heating body. Her fingers threaded into his hair and she leaned forward to brush a light kiss across his full lips. "Now can we forget about them for a while. If you remember, earlier I was promised help in relaxing before going to your dreadful family dinner," she breathed huskily.

Not waiting for a response, Liz attacked Michael's lips. As their tongues clashed, she wrapped her arms around his body and rolled them over in the water. Sensing an opportunity, Michael slid a hand down Liz's slick body seeking out her heated center. Lovingly, he began to rub her clit and pump his fingers in and out of her body.

Michael's ministrations procured a gasp from Liz's throat. Her spine arched uncontrollably, severing their kiss and allowing for a torrent of water to flood into Michael's lungs. Coughing and sputtering at the sudden intrusion, he abruptly raised his head above the water's surface to breathe in cleansing gulps of air.

posted on 31-Oct-2002 3:26:38 PM
Part VII - Relaxation Techniques

While Michael was still struggling for breath, Liz slowly resurfaced. Her eyes emerged first and she cast a predatory glance in Michael's direction. Skimming quickly across the water, she positioned herself at the opposite end of the tub from Michael. "Don't think that you can get away from me that easily," she said grabbing his feet and grinning wickedly at him.

Slowly, Liz let her hands trail up Michael's calves, caressing them gently. When she reached his knees, she submerged again and followed her hands up to his prone body. Tenderly, she stroked up Michael's inner thighs until she reached his arousal. Unable to resist, she grasped the engorged member and began to slide her hands up and down his shaft. Placing a kiss on the tip, she felt Michael jerk excitedly in response. Liz smiled in return then engulfed him completely with her mouth, ever so slowly easing him down her throat.

Distantly, as her head was below the water's surface, Liz heard Michael moan in pleasure. Continuing her ministrations, she barely registered the feeling of his hands coming down to grip her shoulders in encouragement. The pace she set was painfully slow to demonstrate that she, not Michael, was in charge. Feeling him begin to thrust deeply into her accommodating mouth, Liz gave in slightly and quickened her movements.

Conscious of Michael's rapidly approaching release, Liz promptly released him from the confines of her mouth. Sensually, her tongue darted out and slid up the length of his shaft, swirling when she reached the tip. In an effort solely meant to tease him, she sucked the head of his penis into her mouth and grazed her teeth over it carefully. Michael's body flinched in response to the assault and began trembling due to his body's denial of release. Pitying him, Liz drew his entirety into her mouth, setting a frenzied pace. Using her hands, she traced small circles on the inside of his thighs until his muscles tensed and ceased vibrating beneath her fingers. Interpreting the sudden tension as a sign of his impending orgasm, she began to hum loudly, allowing him his much-anticipated liberation of control.


The vibration of Liz's mouth sent Michael over the edge and he thrust one last time before sending his seed deep into her throat. Lying back weakly in the tub, he relaxed his grip on Liz. Again, she raised her head up out of the water and watched him as he lay back limply, a mischievous twinkle her eyes.

Smiling lazily at Liz, Michael tiredly pulled her up into his embrace. "Not that I'm complaining, far from it," he panted, "but I thought we were going to ease the tension out of your body."

Liz returned his smile coyly. "I saw an opportunity, so I took it," she said. "It's not everyday that I get to best you, usually we're on equal footing. And you don't have to worry about little old me, I'm nowhere near done with you, or your body, for the night."

Reaching for a washcloth and bar of soap, Liz continued in a commanding voice, "Now bathe me. I think I've earned it."

Michael accepted the proffered bath items gladly and set about cleaning Liz. Creating a thick lather, he lowered the cloth to her back and began to rub lazy circles on it. Deciding to forego the hindrance of the rough washcloth, he began using his hands to work the soap over Liz's skin. Slowly, he eased his hands down her spine and gently cupped her buttocks. The tense muscles in her body loosened almost immediately at his touch and he was pleased to hear her let out a low moan.

Sliding Liz up his reclining form, Michael positioned her so that he could access her lips. As his soapy hands continued their ministrations to her body, he began to plunder her mouth with his tongue.

Finishing with Liz's backside, Michael rinsed off her body and rotated her until she was sitting directly on his lap facing away. He massaged soap into her firm tummy then trekked down her legs. Reaching her toes, he trailed his fingertips back up her body, slightly brushing her clit before bringing his palms up to knead her breasts.

Liz's breath was quickly becoming labored when he released her to grab a bottle of shampoo. At the loss of his touch, she shivered and burrowed further into his body. Michael gently relocated her form until she was sitting between his legs still facing away from him. He then squeezed some shampoo out of the bottle and brought his hands up to massage her scalp, working the gel into a thick lather. Liz's head leaned into his touch and he reveled in the feel of her hair, even wet it was still soft and luxurious.

The washing was having the effect that Michael had hoped it would; he felt Liz shiver then heard a low moan of pleasure escape from her throat. Encouraging her to recline further, he carefully rinsed the shampoo from her hair and followed up the action with conditioner.

Michael quickly cleaned himself and allowed Liz to lie limply on his chest, enjoying the closeness of their bodies. Both Liz and Michael remained in the bathtub relaxing until the water began to cool. It would be a long night for him, too, and he wanted to enjoy the reprieve while he could.

Laggardly, Michael eased himself out of the tub and gently lay Liz back down. Grabbing a towel, he hurriedly dried his body then leaned over to pick her up and out of the bath. Holding her firmly around the waist, he selected another towel and began to gently rub her down. His tender ministrations caused Liz's legs to collapse and a series of excited moans to be emitted from her throat.

Carefully, Michael lowered Liz to the carpet then lay down beside her. Brushing a light kiss across her lips, he trailed his hands up her body to thread his fingers into her hair, drying it. Locking their gazes, he moved to settle between her legs and slowly penetrated her body.

Opening a mental connection to Liz, Michael slowly and tenderly began to move in and out of her welcoming heat. They continued to hold the connection letting the mutual love and adoration flow from one mind to the other. Their emotions mingled together increasing the passion of the moment and drawing out their orgasms. Their ecstasy reached a frenzied peak before they climaxed simultaneously.

Michael bent to give Liz one last, sweet kiss before withdrawing from her body and snuggling into her warmth. "I love you," he mumbled sleepily into her chest.

"I love you, too, Michael," Liz replied while pulling him tightly to her.

posted on 31-Oct-2002 3:27:43 PM
Part VIII - Dinner with the Family

"How did you get me to agree to this?" Liz asked for the umpteenth time. She, Michael and Alex had just arrived at the Italian restaurant where they were to meet the rest of the aliens.

"Because you love me?" Michael responded hopefully, a bit of humor laced in his voice. Observing the withering look that Liz sent his way, he decided to try a different approach. Raising his eyebrow in a challenge, he continued, "So you're going to let them win? I didn't think that you would call it quits so early in the game, Parker; I guess you're not the person that I thought you were."

Alex picked up on Michael's angle and added, "If you don't go in there and sit down to a nice, quiet meal, they will win. Liz, you will be showing them that they have control over you."

Raising her hand, Liz made a slashing motion across her throat efficiently stunning both men into silence. "Fine," she growled before turning to lead them into the dining area.

Feeling Alex's hand on his shoulder, Michael turned to see what the man wanted. "Michael, I hope you're prepared for tonight; Liz is probably going to break one of those oh so important rules of hers. You know the one that she has about blending in. If Tess tries anything tonight, I don't think that Liz is going to be able to refrain from going all Manticore on her ass."

"Relax, Alex," Michael said smirking. "I think that Liz can smell your fear." Proceeding into the eating area, Michael continued over his shoulder, "It'll be alright, Alex; Liz can contain her anger pretty well. If on the off chance that she can't, or won't, we have a private room reserved. Hopefully, we'll be able to deal with the carnage."


Seated between Michael and Alex at a large round dinner table, Liz mechanically digested her meal. She had been both pleased and angry when she had learned that they had a private room reserved for the occasion; the privacy meant that Tess would probably try something since she wouldn't have any witnesses but it also allowed her some leeway if they came to blows. Only God will be able to help that woman if she tries anything tonight, Liz thought. I'm getting really tired of this shit and I don't think that Michael and any army that he might find has it in them to restrain any retaliation that she’ll provoke in me.

Looking at the rest of the room's occupants, Liz noticed that they were positioned around the table in the typical boy-girl fashion. Isabel was seated on the left side of Alex with Tess on Michael's right, directly across from her sat Max. Uneasiness skittered through Liz's mind but she didn't let her body betray her feelings. She was waiting for the blade to drop; it was only a matter of time given the company. Subconsciously, Liz stole another glance around the room instinctively finding all avenues of escape and pulp attack and defense positions. When the damn broke, she would be ready; then they'd see whose head was rolling.

As Liz observed her surroundings and companions, she couldn't help but notice the looks of longing that Alex and Isabel cast at each other when they thought no one was paying attention. There was definitely a lot more going on in their relationship than Alex is telling me, she thought.

Conversation amongst the six seated at table was strained; it was limited mostly to remarks and attempts from Isabel and Alex as they tried, unsuccessfully, to ease the almost palpable tension. Max and Tess had not said much through the courses; in fact, they had barely acknowledged Liz's presence at the table. Max stared blankly around the room, every once in a while fixating on some random object. Tess sporadically spouted out harsh obscenities directed at the two human members of the dinner, especially Liz; she didn't even attempt to disguise the icy glares that she was sending in Liz's direction.

Thankfully, other than Tess's rudeness and Max's indifference, the meal had been rather quiet and uneventful. As dessert was served, Liz heard Isabel direct a question towards her, "So where are you going to college this fall, Liz?"

Liz considered ignoring the question but the imploring look on Alex's face made her reconsider the decision. Squeezing Michael's encouraging hand on her thigh, she answered, "I don't believe I'm going to school in the fall. I've just found some members of my family and I'm going to try and reconnect with them. If everything pans out well, I'm going to start classes the next year."

"What's this?" Tess said jumping on her answer, the disdain clear in her voice. "'Perfect Lizzie Parker's' not going to college. I think Earth just stopped rotating on its axis. And don't you mean our family? Alex is your brother, isn't he?"

"Not that it's any of your business, Tess," Liz replied noting the familiar cold chill was creeping up through her bones. As she spoke, she could feel her eyes growing blank and her emotions shutting down making room for the invasion of her mercenary instincts. Taking a deep, calming breath, Liz tried to ignore her uneasiness and continued, "Alex is not my biological brother; his family adopted me."

"Oh," Tess exclaimed an evil light filling her eyes. "So you're an orphan? Poor you, no one loved you enough to keep you around. I wouldn't know what that was like; my people loved me so much that they had me recreated after I died. You must have been a terrible child, why else would you get left behind? What did your parents do? Did they bribe the Parkers to take you in?"

"Tess," Michael growled in warning, "that's quite enough."

"It's alright, Michael," Liz said as she stood up; it was time to get out of there before she hurt someone. "I'm just going to go use the washroom."

Walking into the restroom, Liz released an infuriated scream then punched her hand into the side of a stall hoping to vent some of her frustrations. Her fist passed easily through the thin metal wall leaving a jagged hole the size of her fist. Withdrawing her hand, Liz flexed it and watched as blood trickled down her knuckles in small rivulets. Pain, she thought, such a human feeling; it's a reminder that I don't have to be a soldier, not any more.

Liz shook her head and moved over to the sink to wash away the blood; the wound was already starting to heal and would be completely gone in a matter of days. As she watched the pink-tinged water flow down the drain, Liz thought about Michael and Alex, how they made her feel alive, loved and wanted; they made her want to be a good person.

The main problem, she had found, with being around Tess was that the alien made Liz forget all of those thoughts and feelings and revert to her military training and instinct. Tess made her want to kill, to be the soldier that she knew was encoded in her DNA. Liz let loose another frustrated scream and stared at her reflection in the mirror, willing her calm to return.

posted on 31-Oct-2002 3:29:22 PM
Part IX - The Princess

Scooting his chair back, Michael prepared to go after Liz and try to pacify her but was stopped unexpectedly by Isabel. "Let me go, Michael," she said concern evident in her eyes and voice. "I think that I can help."

Somewhat surprised, Michael nodded gratefully and watched Isabel leave before turning his anger to Tess. "What right do you have to be so mean to Liz? She's been nothing but nice to you."

Tess snarled at Michael. "What right do I have? What right did you have telling her our secret? She's a liability; her and every other human that we bring into our group," she growled looking over at Alex. "I. Don't. Like. Humans."

"How sad and lonely for you," he heard Alex mumble. Michael raised his eyes sharply to Max when he heard him chuckle slightly at the comment.

"I'm going to give you one last warning, Tess," Michael growled turning to stare deeply into her eyes. "Stay away from Liz. If you give her due cause, she will not hesitate to kill you and, believe me, I will not stand in her way."

"Ooo, I'm so scared. Is your little human pet going to take me out?" Tess snickered her eyes dancing with humor.

"You've been warned, Tess. Don't say that Michael didn't try to get through to you," Alex said irritably.

Michael caught Max's eye and indicated that the warning applied to him, too. The king raised an eyebrow in question, in response to which Michael shrugged. He was aware that Max would not take the threat lightly; Michael was not one to embellish or bluff. Just as well, he thought, maybe he'll make Tess back off.


Touching the silvered glass, Liz asked herself, "How can one person make me lose so much control, in so little time?"

The door to the bathroom opened slowly and Liz observed Isabel's reflection in the mirror as she entered the small room. The tall blond turned, observed the hole in the stall and glanced to Liz's freely bleeding hand. Raising an eyebrow and smirking she asked, "Who won?"

"I think it's a draw; neither of us have much fight in us tonight."

As Liz watched, Isabel placed her had over the puncture and reconstructed the damaged metal. "Did you need me to fix your hand?" she asked, her voice suspiciously sincere.

"No, I'm a quick healer." Looking at Isabel distrustfully, Liz questioned, "Not that I'm angry or anything, but why are you in here? Did you come in to throw some more mental punches? If so, you can turn around and march right back out to the table."

"No, I'm not here to abuse you, you've had enough of that tonight and pretty much every other time you've ever been around us. I'm going to be honest with you, Liz, I'm tired of this silly feud." Liz raised her eyebrows in astonishment at the woman; this wasn't anything like she'd been expecting.

Isabel paced around the confines of the room, clearly not finished with her diatribe. "Tess is being foolish and letting her fears influence her judgement. I don't like how she is treating you and Alex; if I could make her stop I would but Max is the only one who can order that. I wanted to make it clear, that although I know I haven't been very nice to you, Tess does not speak for me, or my brother for that matter."

"Why are you telling me this, Isabel?" Liz asked curious as to her intentions.

Isabel lowered her gaze to the floor before answering. "I want to be friends with you for both Michael and Alex's sakes. Liz, you mean the world to both of them and they are two of the most important men in my life. They both found something special in you and I would like to see that for myself. And," she said raising her eyes to meet Liz's, "I would like to get to know you better for my own selfish reasons; it would be nice to have another friend, I don't have too many them."

Liz stared at Isabel in disbelief; she wanted to be friends. "Are you serious or is this just another ploy?" she asked tersely.

"I'm very serious but I don't blame you for not trusting me," Isabel said her chin dropping slightly.

Studying Isabel's movements with Manticore precision, Liz found no tells that she had been lying and was inclined to give her the benefit of a doubt. She trusted her instincts and let all of her indecision fade away. "Isabel," she said a small smile creeping onto her face in what she hoped was encouragement, "I'd like to get to know you too."

Isabel's head popped up and a wide grin spread across her features. "Thank you, you have no idea what this means to me. Why don't we start with an outing to learn a little bit more about each other? Let's go to Las Cruces; we can go shopping and to a movie."

"Sounds good to me. How does next Saturday sound?" Liz asked genuinely happy for the first time since entering the restaurant.

"That's great," Isabel replied dragging Liz into an awkward hug. "We're going to have so much fun. Now let's get back out there before they send a search party."

posted on 31-Oct-2002 3:30:27 PM
Part X - After Dinner Retreat

The rest of the night went pretty smoothly for Liz. She was more relaxed and found herself actually enjoying the conversation with everyone but Tess. As they separated for the night, however, she still had some pent up anger that needed to be exorcised before she could return to the apartment. High-jacking the car keys, Liz slid behind the wheel and sped Alex's Jeep Cherokee out into the desert.

"Where are we going?" Liz heard Alex ask hesitantly from the back seat.

"The quarry," she replied simply. The air filled with loud groans and Liz turned to glare at the two men riding with her. "I have some residual frustration that I'm going to work out on the two of you, especially you, Michael. I believe you are the one that talked me into attending the alien formal tonight," she stated grinning menacingly.

Reaching the intended location, Liz exited the vehicle and set out some ground rules for the boys to follow. "Okay," she said, "this is how it's going to go. Alex, since you tend to break easily, you're just going to observe; I'm not really trusting myself tonight and I'd rather not put you in the hospital."

Liz observed the two men before her; Alex was grinning in relief and Michael was frowning at her. "What about me? Want to see me in the hospital?" he asked cautiously.

"I won't damage you too much," she replied with a sly smirk. "I'm only planning to reinstate my superiority over the off-world tourists, not incapacitate my lover."

"That's reassuring," Michael replied wryly.

"You better watch it or I won't give you a head start," Liz teased. "Now run, on the count of three I'm coming for you."

"One." Liz watched Michael race off into the desert and began to contemplate her strategy.

"Two." Tapping her foot impatiently, Liz waited for Alex to say the last number.

"Three." Wasting no time, she used her altered physique and tracking capabilities to chase down Michael.

Stopping momentarily, Liz accessed her night vision and focused her hearing. To her left, she heard soft, barely distinguishable footfalls, Michael. Pretending she wasn't aware of the intruder, she stood still and waited for him to come closer. At the last possible moment, she turned and blocked his attack with her arm, surprising her assailant. Quickly, Liz reversed their positions and became the aggressor, countering with a punch of her own, which landed squarely on Michael's jaw.

The hit failed to faze Michael for he continued the assault with no pause; his next move was to sweep out with his leg, knocking Liz to the desert floor. Twisting her body before the impending collision with the sandy terrain, she managed a handspring up off the ground, followed by a high back flip. Landing directly behind him, she planted her foot in his back and shoved him into a rocky outcropping. Michael pivoted quickly in defense but only succeeded in blocking her first and second punches before failing with the third.

Losing herself to her earlier frustrations, Liz proceeded to attack Michael letting out all of her accrued emotions. The punches increased in intensity and speed until her arms were blurring and she was flailing almost wildly. Slowly, she was brought back to her surroundings and the fact that Michael was no longer responding to the fevered jabs that she was landing. Freezing immediately, Liz found control over her outburst and released the hand that had been holding on to his shoulder.

Instantaneously, Michael's body crumpled to the ground motionless. Liz let out a ragged scream and collapsed beside him. Sobbing heavily, she brought her hands up to his face and began to stroke his cheeks softly, her eyes closed and the salty tears she was releasing fell to soak his face. "What have I done?" she repeatedly mumbled through her cries of anguish.

When Liz opened her eyes again she found Michael looking at her with sparkling eyes and a smirk on his lips. "You bastard," she yelled smacking his arm. "You made me think that I had hurt you really badly."

"I'm sorry," he said laughing, "it was the only way that I could get you to stop. As for injuring me, my ribs and muscles are killing me and I think that you owe me a rub down when we get back to the apartment." Taking on a more serious tone, he asked, "Where did you go back there? You had me worried."

"I'm not sure; somewhere in the dark recesses of my mind, I guess," she stated angrily climbing to her feet. Pacing back and forth, she mumbled, "Something in me snapped. I couldn't keep myself from letting out all of the built up rage that I've been harboring all summer in regards to Zack, Manticore and your family."

Liz was well aware of Michael's history of abuse and hated to think that he had suffered more at her hands. Kneeling back down, she placed a kiss on his lips and said sorrowfully, "I'm so sorry, Michael. I can't make excuses for what I did tonight, but I can tell you that if it is at all possible I will never let it happen again. I can't believe that I got so out of control; it's just not me. And to take it out on you; you were a punching bag for the greater portion of your life and I just used you in the same way.'

"I know that an apology isn't good enough for all the damage that I did tonight and I'm not sure how I will ever make it up to you, but I will try everyday for the rest of my life. I love you so much and you don't deserve this. Maybe your family was right, you shouldn't be with me," Liz stated vehemently wrapping her arms tightly around her chest as fresh tears began to trail down her cheeks.

"Please, Liz," Michael said wiping her tears gently away with his thumbs. "Don't worry about it; I know you, I've seen into your heart. You would never abuse me consciously."

"What about tonight?" Liz asked shakily. "It could just as easily happen again with worse consequences."

"Liz, my days of being a doormat are over and, believe me, if I thought that you had intentionally hurt me tonight, I would be as good as gone. And I won't hear anymore talk about you staying away from me, it's not going to happen; I won't let it. We both know that we need each other; I don't know what I would do without you in my life."

"But..." Liz began.

"No, I said we weren't going to talk about it anymore, or ever again for that matter. We belong together, period. Tonight doesn't prove anything; everyone has his or her lapses. Look at me, sometimes I get so angry that I blow up random objects regardless of my company; I could just as easy hurt you with one of my outbursts."

"I don't want to hurt you again," Liz sobbed.

"You haven't and you won't. Like I said before, I've seen into your heart and I trust you with mine implicitly. I love you."

"How can you love a animal like me?" she asked insecurely.

Michael quirked an eyebrow at Liz as she waited for his answer, "Animal? I don't think so; you are very much a young desirable woman. Unless, of course, you're talking about in bed and that's quite all right with me."

Smiling weakly, Liz answered, "I know what you're trying to do and I appreciate the effort. Sometimes the uncertainties of what I am just get in the way. Are you certain about being with me?"

"Of course, I wouldn't have it any other way. I know that you're worried about turning into my foster father, but that's not going to happen; you're a much stronger person then he could ever think about being." Michael inclined his head and pulled Liz in for a brief kiss. "Now, if you like, we can take it one day at a time and I'll be beside you every step of the way."

"I would like that," Liz replied gratefully.

"We should get back to Alex, he probably thinks that you killed me." Liz winced at his careless words, not a joke she would have made.

Michael must have noticed her discomfiture because he quickly added, "Hey, you may not believe it, but I've gotten worse beatings from your brother, Zack, during sparring practice. In a couple of days, we won't even be able to tell that I lost to my girlfriend in a fist fight; I'm a quick healer like you are and my bruises will fade in two or three days." Gripping her chin firmly with his right hand, Michael forced Liz to look into his eyes. "Just promise me that we'll work on your anger management and find more productive outlets for it."

"You're one to talk," Liz replied grumpily.

"Hey, I resent that implication," Michael said grinning. "I'll have you know that a stint at Parker's Charm and Finishing School has greatly improved my temperament. I mean, when's the last time that Zack was able to get under my skin. Hmm?" Before Liz could answer, Michael grabbed her in a bear hug, rolled them over until he was on top then began to tickle her sides mercilessly.

Laughing at Michael's antics, Liz managed to squirm out of his grip. Standing, she pulled him up beside her and told him in a stern tone, "If you ever, I mean ever, try to pull another stunt like you did earlier, you will not be sharing my bed for a whole week; that is a threat." Placing a sickly sweet smile on her face, Liz continued, "Now let's go home and fix you up."

posted on 31-Oct-2002 3:31:31 PM
Part XI - The King

As Michael and Liz approached the quarry, Alex could be heard talking animatedly to someone. Feeling Liz tense beside him, Michael stopped moving and tried to listen in on the conversation. It couldn't be, he thought, did they follow him out here?

Shaking his head at Liz, Michael stepped out of the shadows to see what Max was doing out in the middle of the desert at this time of night. "Well, Max, such a pleasant surprise," he heard Liz say as she moved out from behind him. "What are you doing out here?"

Max answered with a face devoid of emotion, "I could ask the same question but I'm not all that interested."

Grabbing Liz's arm before she could make any sudden moves, Michael pulled her to his chest and wrapped his arms around her in warning. "Maxwell, did you need something?"

"No, not really. I was just trying to figure out how you spent your free time; I can honestly say that it's not quite what I expected." A scowl crept into Max's features, "Alex wouldn't tell me what you were doing so I thought that I'd stick around to see if you would tell me."

Meeting Max with an icy glare, Michael could hardly contain his anger; he had followed them, more precisely he had spied on them. "I don't owe you or anyone else an explanation," he bit out. "So what? We came out to the quarry, it happens to be a beautiful, clear night; the stars are very visible."

"You expect me to believe that you were stargazing? I'm not that big of a fool, I know something else is going on," Max ranted.

Michael noticed Max looking at the exposed skin of his arms that were at present wrapped protectively around Liz. Groaning inwardly, he braced for the upcoming torrent of questions. Mentally, he kicked himself for not mending his arms yet; Max was sure to notice.

"Why are your arms covered with bruises?" Max questioned concernedly. "They were fine earlier tonight."

Damn it, curse Max and his stupid attention to detail. "I fell," Michael replied expressionlessly.

"I haven't bought that excuse in years, Michael," he said venomously. "You don't have to protect Liz, I can see the marks of the abuse that you've been suffering."

Feeling Liz stiffen in his arms, Michael whispered to her, "Let me handle this." Visibly, he saw Alex stand and stalk towards Max, preparing to defend Liz. A little louder, Michael said in a commanding voice, "Alex, Liz, wait for me in the jeep; I'll just be a minute."

Each gave Michael a reluctant glance before trekking towards the silent automobile. "If you need me, Michael," Liz said, "just holler."

After they had climbed into the car and shut the doors, Michael turned to address Max. "You have no right to accuse Liz of hurting me; she is one of the kindest, sweetest individuals that you will ever meet. She is as averse to physical punishment as I am and would never intentionally harm me."

"I don't believe you, Michael," Max replied angrily. "You're in denial over what type of person she is. Since you've been dating her, you've shown up to all of our meetings with fresh cuts and bruises; you have even asked me to heal broken bones. Why are you and Alex protecting her? Is she threatening you?"

"Maxwell, that's enough," Michael shouted. "I will not have you talk about her that way. There is a lot more going on in our lives then we tell you. These marks on my arms don't mean anything. They don't represent abuse; in fact, it's just the opposite. We've been training and learning to defend ourselves against any of our unforeseeable enemies." That's close enough to the truth, Michael thought, but will he believe me.

"Do you really expect me to buy that bullshit, Michael?"

Interrupting the ensuing tirade, Michael stated firmly, "It doesn't matter if you 'buy it', it's the truth. Now if you don't mind," he said gesturing towards the waiting vehicle, "I'm going to head on home and get some rest. You're exhausting."

"I could order you to tell me."

"Don't pull that king card over this and don't make me lie to you. This is none of your business, so stay the hell out of it," he stated climbing in the awaiting vehicle.

"This isn't over," Michael heard Max yell as he started the car and headed back towards town.

"Max won't drop this, you know," Michael said addressing the other two occupants in the automobile.

"We'll just have to be more discreet," Liz replied tiredly. "After this month it won't matter so much; Manticore will be gone and we won't have to hide anymore. I'm sorry that my life is creating a rift in your family."

Michael turned to look at Liz sympathetically, "Hey, don't worry about it; everything will be okay. We'll work out our differences eventually and they will come to realize how great both you and Alex are."

"I hope for your sake that they do," Liz said sadly. Frowning slightly at her comment, Michael focused his attention on the road. No one uttered another word as the car traveled towards town.


Part XII - Say What?

"You're doing what today?" Michael asked for the second time as he squatted down to reconstruct the fragments of the plate that he had just shattered on the floor. Surely he hadn't heard Liz correctly; it had sounded to him like she had plans with his sister. Standing up straight, he handed the plate back to Liz for re-washing and waited for her answer.

"I just told you," Liz answered, rolling her eyes dramatically when she looked up from the sudsy water. She paused and gave Michael a freshly cleaned glass before replying. "I'm going to spend the day with Isabel. I believe the plan was to go shopping and maybe a movie."

The cup slid out of his fingers and crashed to the floor. Glaring at the treacherous pieces of the drinking glass scattered over the linoleum, Michael attempted to process the information. He had heard her accurately; Liz was voluntarily spending time with his sister.

"Are you going to break every dish that I have?" Liz asked grinning at him. "If so, can I stop washing them? I think cleaning them then breaking them is a waste of time, so we should cut out the middle man, me."

Michael ignored her barb and fixed the broken glassware. Turning towards Liz and her seductive smile, he questioned, "Since when have you two been planning this?" Liz shrugged and turned back to the sink plunging her hands into the water and pulling the drain.

"I thought that you didn't want to have anything to do with my family," Michael stated confusedly; he was determined to get an answer from Liz.

"Isabel's helping to change my perceptions. I thought, you of all people, would like that; didn't you want me to have a more open mind?" she asked condescendingly.

"Well, yeah, but I never actually expected it to happen," Michael mumbled under his breath while accepting the last item to be dried.

Catching Liz cast a bemused glance his way, he gave her his full attention. "Do you not want me to go? I'll cancel, but to tell you the truth, I've been looking forward to this all week. It'll give me a chance to get to know Isabel a little bit better, to find out exactly where her relationship with Alex stands and," she continued placing her wet, soapy hands on Michael's bare chest, "I'll get to hear some embarrassing stories about you when you were growing up."

Michael groaned loudly, unsure if it was due to her thumbs caressing his naked flesh or her words. "Please tell me that this isn't just some covert operation to get information you can use for blackmailing your boyfriend."

Liz's eyebrows arched mischievously, "Now would I do something like that? I mean I have been bored around here lately but do you really think I'd stoop to fake a friendship just to dig up some dirt on you? I have a feeling that I could get you to tell me just about anything given the right...stimulation." Batting her eyelashes, Liz pulled him closer and slid her hands into his jean pockets to cup his buttocks through the rough denim.

"That may be true," he rasped between placing wet kisses on her exposed neck, "but I wouldn't put a little espionage past you." Working his hands up underneath her shirt to feel the warmth of Liz's soft skin, Michael continued, "Not that I blame you, who wouldn't want to find out everything about me; I'm a wonderful, amiable, extremely sexy individual and, might I add, magnificent in bed."

Playfully, Liz shoved him away and grabbed her wallet. "Someone thinks pretty highly of himself, too bad we don't have time for you to prove it to me." Liz gave him a probing, heated kiss before abruptly walking away from Michael. "I hear Isabel downstairs so I'm going to leave you to your own...devices...for a while."

Grunting in slight annoyance, Michael watched Liz give him a cocky smile then retreat down the stairs. What was he going to do with that woman? Smiling to himself, he secretly began to concoct a plan to get her back for all of that teasing.

posted on 31-Oct-2002 3:33:03 PM
Part XIII - Girl Talk

"Michael is probably going to blow a gasket when he sees that outfit, Liz," Isabel stated excitedly. "But it looked like it was made expressly for you."

"Yeah, I know but he'll love it, although I'm positive he'll like taking me out of it more," Liz joked. Isabel and Liz had finished shopping for the day and they were taking a breather at a small cafe.

"I, so, do not need to hear about my brother's sex life. That's just unbelievably gross," Isabel made a disgusted face before laughing lightly. "It's bad enough that I have to hear about your escapades from Alex, but now from you, too; I just don't think I can take it."

"Oh, it's not that bad, in fact, it's overwhelmingly good," Liz laughed at Isabel's blush. "Did Alex tell you how he found out about our...relationship?"

"Yeah, Alex said he walked in on the two of you. He also told me that Michael threw a hissy fit and that if you hadn't been holding him down and covering his naked body, he would have bolted out the nearest door," she said, her eyes twinkling in amusement.

"It was hilarious, to say the least. Now all I have to do to make him fidget is bring up that night. Imagine how embarrassing it was for him to be scared that Alex would kick his butt for sleeping with his sister. Personally, I think that Alex was just glad that I finally found someone to spend some time with, that way he didn't feel so guilty asking you out." Liz smiled remembering the first time that she and Michael had been intimate. It had been wild and passionate and had cemented their lives together irrevocably. "Who knew that one extraordinary night of great sex would lead to where we are today?"

"You both have definitely come a long way since then," Isabel commented, her expression softening to one of earnestness. "I don't think that I ever thanked you for all that you did for Michael. He's such a different person now and I mean that in a good way."

Liz shifted uncomfortably in her seat. "You're welcome, although I can't take all of the credit; Michael had the potential, he just needed a push in the right direction."

"Don't you mean a hard kick in the ass?" Isabel joked. "With his newfound attitude towards life, one would think that he had been enlightened by that almighty Buddha that Kyle Valenti keeps rambling on about. Speaking of which," she continued, changing the subject, "I hold you personally responsible for letting him drink that much beer at work last night; his sage advice increases ten-fold after each pint."

"You got a good tip, didn't you?" Liz teased. "Seriously, I don't know what I would do without Michael in my life. He's been my rock this summer and helped me get through some pretty rough times. Hell, if it wasn't for him, we both know I wouldn't be here right now. I may have been a positive influence on him and I'm grateful, but the truth is that he's been good for me, too. We seem to bring out the best in each other. I love him and would do anything for him, including give up my life. I just wish that Max and Tess would see that; he doesn't let it show but their dismissal of our relationship is tearing him up inside."

"They'll come around; it'll just take time," Isabel said sympathetically as she reached over to pat Liz's arm. "I even think Max may be warming up to you, because of you, Michael no longer questions his authority all of the time." Isabel played unconsciously with her straw as she sat across from Liz. "I think that the conversation is getting a little bit heavy for our first outing so let's talk about something else. We're supposed to be having fun and finding out about each other. So, now that you've volunteered some info about yourself, what do you want to know about me?"

"Okay," Liz said grinning wickedly at the opening, "so what's up with you and Alex?"

A small smile played across Isabel's face as she answered. "I really like him. He's so caring, funny, gentle and understanding. He didn't run away when he found out about my otherworldly status and he's been helping me to cope with all the stress in my family. The relationship is definitely going somewhere and I'm looking forward to whatever comes in the future. I think that for the first time in my life, I'm truly happy with who I am."

Liz met Isabel's eyes and gave her a sincere smile, she understood completely. "I'm glad to hear that, Alex means the world to me. He has been the only constant that I've had for the majority of my life. He'll probably kill me, but I'm pretty sure that he feels the same way towards you. I haven't seen him so happy and content since his parents died. And with you in his life, I don't have to worry about him being alone," Liz finished sadly.

Puzzlement filled Isabel's features, "What do you mean alone? He'll always have you, won't he?"

Realizing her slip-up, Liz quickly recovered, "I'm sorry just my pessimistic attitude coming to the forefront of my thoughts. Of course he'll always have me; he couldn't get me out of his life if he tried."

Isabel frowned at Liz. Sighing, she continued, "Really, I didn't mean anything by the statement. I am truly happy for you two and luckily enough for the both of you, your relationship appears to be acceptable to their majesties," Liz finished dryly.

Groaning, Isabel replied, "I thought that we weren't going to talk about them anymore. They are the perfect kill switch to any good time. Speaking of good times, Maria talked me into helping her plan the Crashdown party."

"You, too? I think that she's planning a mass take over of my restaurant; she's already enlisted Alex's help and a couple of the other waitresses. I believe that she's been trying to convince Michael that he would be beneficial to the cause but so far he won't have anything to do with it."

"It'll be a great time, you might even enjoy yourself," Isabel cajoled.

"It's not that I don't think I'll have fun," Liz replied absently, "it's just that I don't think that I...that we need all of the attention right now." Shit, what was wrong with her today, she hoped that Isabel didn't catch her Freudian slip.

Isabel arched her eyebrows questioningly, "Don't worry about alien business, Liz. Allow yourself a night off and enjoy the break in routine. We've been taking care of ourselves for years so we know that hiding in plain sight is our best defense."

Believe me, Isabel, I know all about it, Liz thought. Aloud she said, "We better be heading off to that movie if we're going to make it back in time for you to start your shift."

Suddenly, the hair on the back of Liz's neck stood on end. Quickly, she scanned the small dining area but could find no threat. As much as she wanted to pass it off as her imagination, Liz knew that she couldn't. Someone had been watching them and they did not have good intentions.

"Are you okay, Liz?" Isabel asked.

"Yeah, I'm fine," she said distractedly. "Let's get out of here."


Part XIV - Pulling Rank

"Zack," Michael yelled into the receiver of the phone he was clenching tightly in his fist. "We are going to need more people on this last mission. From what our scouts and informants have reported, they have the last of the X7's stationed there; and not just one or two, but a complete set of twelve."

"We're trained for this type of thing, Michael," Zack replied coolly.

Michael scowled as he listened to Zack's response. "I know you think that you can take them, but do you remember the last encounter with X7's? The mission may have been a success but three of our guys almost died, not to mention the others that were wounded."

"And we learned our lesson last time, it will not happen again. You and Ash are not to come over here, do you hear me?"

"Yes, yes, I'm still listening, but I think you're mistaken. You need me and Liz there, Alex and Logan too, for that matter. The complex is huge and we don't have much information about it. We have no idea as to what needs to be hit and with the amount of security that they are going to have there, we won't have that much time. We need to get in and out of there as fast as possible; that means more people."

"I will not allow Ash to come on a mission of this nature. She is not healthy enough; a relapse could occur at any time. She could suffer a seizure while inside and that makes her a liability."

Alex walked quietly into the room smiling pitiably and mouthed 'Zack'. Rolling his eyes, Michael nodded his head yes then returned to screaming into the phone. "She is just fine and you know it. In fact, she's probably a lot healthier than any of you guys and is just itching to get out and do some active work."

"Have you been keeping up with your training?" Zack asked stiffly. Michael could tell that the man was beginning to crack, not like he had much choice in the matter. They were going to be in Lubbock.

"Yes, we still spar everyday, Alex, too."

"Even if you have been, I still don't believe that you are capable of pulling this off. You haven't been on this end of the job since the beginning of the summer."

"We're fit and in prime condition, Zack, not to mention the fact that we will both be fresh. I know the rest of the guys must be getting tired."

"We were engineered to be the best and we don't need rest," he replied angrily.

Michael rolled his eyes again and observed Alex chuckling at his antics. "I know that you're all super soldiers, but you're still human."

"You better not be telling me that aliens are superior to me and mine," Zack said, his voice growing colder, if that was at all possible.

"No, I am not getting into that with you now. Anyway, it was not an intentional barb directed to your genetic inferiority's, or lack there of," he added quickly. "You need us and we're ready to go."

"No and that's final."

"I'm going to be there no matter what you say, Zack. I am not your soldier to be bossing around. Up until now I've only been appeasing you for Liz's sake; I knew your concerns for her wellbeing and decided that my staying away from the center of the action would help relieve her stress. Personally, I don't like her out there either, but you're going to need her this time. This mission is going to be a very delicate maneuver and I will be on site to oversee it. Besides, you know where I go, Liz goes."

"I told you no and I mean it."

"Damn it, Zack, this is non-negotiable. We are going to be there so get used to it. Now call me back when you've calmed down and accepted it."

Forcefully, Michael slammed the phone down into its cradle. "Argh! Alex, that man is definitely a test of all my strength, tact and temper."

"True, but you definitely handled that a lot better then you would have three months ago," Alex said somewhat proudly. "So did you talk him into including us this last time?"

"He didn't say yes, but I didn't leave him much room for argument. There is no way that he's leaving us behind this time, to pull it off we're going to need as many people as we can gather."

"I hope you know what you're doing by incurring the wrath of Zack," Alex said jokingly. "He'll probably pay you back by taking swatches of skin and will probably require you hand over your first born."

"Pissing off Zack is only part of my hard day's work," Michael replied happily. "Any punishment will be worth it to be able to tell Liz that she's going to get in on some Manticore takedown action."

"Remind me to stay away tonight. I don't want to see or, more importantly, hear how Liz thanks you for your wonderful gift," Alex said dryly.

Michael gave Alex a shit-eating grin then descended into the Crashdown to start his shift in the kitchen. He knew Liz would be ecstatic; she'd been so melancholy all summer. It would be good for both of them, they would get out and do what they were trained to do.

posted on 31-Oct-2002 3:34:07 PM
Part XV - The Queen

The dining crowd in front had thinned out quite a bit and all the orders were done, giving Michael a chance to relax. Tiredly, he propped himself against the counter and thought about his girlfriend. He hoped that Liz's day was going well; it was a reprieve in which she was greatly in need. Sighing, he wondered if she and Isabel had found some common ground; he knew that they could be good friends if they just got over their mutual stubbornness. Why is it, he thought, that all of the people in my life are inflexible mules? he thought sarcastically.

Michael's thoughts were interrupted when a short blond popped her head into the kitchen. Great, just what he needed another lecture from Tess. "Can I help you with something, your Highness?" Michael growled in an unwelcome manner.

"I came to talk to you about Liz," she replied menacingly, walking into the kitchen and standing opposite from him.

"Of course you did," Michael said crossing his arms over his chest defiantly. "What else would you want to talk about? It's not like you haven't made it your goal to destroy her life."

"She's destroying yours, why wouldn't I want to return the favor," she sneered.

"I don't know, Tess, maybe because somewhere in the middle of that black, rotting heart you feel the tiniest bit of compassion."

Tess returned his comment with an icy glare. "Max told me about the bruises, so I thought that I would come speak to you while Liz was away. Maybe you won't be afraid to talk while she's gone."

"I have nothing to speak up about. I'm sure that if Max told you I had bruises then he also told you how I had gotten them." Michael turned away from Tess to grab a new order ticket off the wheel. "If you don't mind, Tess, could you show yourself out, I've got work to do."

Opening her mouth to protest, Tess was interrupted by a presence at the door. "You heard him, he has work to do."

"I don't have to listen to you, Liz Parker," Tess hissed.

"You do when you're on my property. Now would you please leave."

Michael watched in horrified fascination, he could feel the tension in the room escalating to precarious levels. Tess wasn't budging from her position against the back wall and Michael noted the steely determination in her eyes; he needed to intervene and fast. "Tess," he said nervously, "please leave. I promise I'll talk to you later."

"I'm not afraid of your human, Michael. If she wants me to leave, she can make me."

"I'm going to ask you one more time, Tess," Liz said unemotionally. "Would you please get the hell out of my establishment?"

"I've got something to say to you, Liz," Tess spat. "First, you corrupt Michael and turn him against us and now you're going after Isabel. What do you think you're doing?"

Michael waited for Liz's reply but was surprised to find her silent; it couldn’t be a good sign. Studying her features, he tried to obtain some indication of her state of mind and did not like what he found. Her lips were pursed into a tight line. She had her arms crossed in an intimidating fashion. And her eyes, they frightened him the most; they were completely devoid of any emotion, the soldier stoicism shining through. Please let Tess shut up, he pled silently.

Of course she didn't. "I want you to stay away from me and my family."

Silence. Michael continued to eye Liz warily. She had not broken her steady glare directed to Tess and had yet to change her stance. If he hadn't known any better, he would think that Liz was ignoring Tess's outburst. But he did know better, it was the calm before the storm. "Tess, leave Liz alone," he pleaded.

"I'm not talking to you, Michael. I'm having a nice little chat with your girlfriend," she said, her eyes lighting up dangerously. "Or should I say, talking at your girlfriend."

Continued silence. Damn that soldier mentality; Michael knew that Liz could stand there all night. Normally, it wouldn't bother him so much but Liz's quiet demeanor was enraging Tess more than her yelling back ever had.

"Are you going to butt out of our lives?" Tess asked, slowly growing more irate. Tess's hands were beginning to tremble slightly where they were clenched tightly at her sides and her face was turning a crimson shade.

Liz answered with more silence. Michael knew he'd have to find a way to intervene soon; he wasn't the only alien that had problems controlling their gifts when angry.

"Answer me, damn it." Tess started to shake tremulously and Michael felt her energy charge. The only answer Liz gave was more silence and steely resolve.

The air in the room crackled and Michael could tell that Tess was not going to hold in her rage any longer. Before he could reach out to stop her, she released her built up energy and levitated the butcher knife that he had been using earlier. The blade hung in midair for a split second before it was flung forcefully across the room at Liz.

Panicking, Michael watched in terror as the blade soared straight on a collision path with Liz's head. Raising his hand, he intended to shoot a bolt of energy at the knife to change the trajectory but stopped when he saw Liz finally reacting. Faster then his eyes could process the information, she raised her arm, grasped the knife by its handle, sufficiently halting its forward progression. In a less then a moment, she had turned the tables on Tess, redirecting the blade in her direction. Currently, the knife was soaring towards her blond head as she looked on in silent bewilderment.

With a dull thrumming sound, the knife embedded in the wall a mere millimeter from Tess's ear, sheering off a few of her golden locks. As she stood sputtering in fear, Liz made her exit calling angrily over her shoulder, "I'm getting the hell out of here, Michael. Don't wait up for me."

Michael watched Liz leave out the back door, suddenly insanely angry with Tess. Preparing to rip into her, he was stopped short when he noticed Isabel huddling shakily outside of the doorway. "How did she do that?" she asked timidly.

Outside, Michael could hear Liz's motorcycle roar to life and peel out of the alley. Glaring between the two girls, Michael chose to ignore the question. Right now, he'd be lucky if he didn't blast them to smithereens. "Tess, I warned you not to mess with her, but did you listen to me? No, you just had to go and try to prove some sort of moot point."

"But...but, Michael..." Tess choked out.

"No, I'm through with you for tonight. Go home and cool off; when you feel like apologizing then I'll speak to you," Michael interrupted angrily. Tess nodded her head obediently and shuffled nervously out the door.

"And you, Isabel," Michael said turning to address the cowering girl, "I thought that you two were supposed to be out shopping and bonding today. Why was Liz home so early?"

"I had to start my shift," she said guiltily. "If I had known, I would have kept her away for a little while longer." She reached out and touched his forearm. "I know what I saw, is she one of us? Was that some sort of side effect of the healing?"

"No, she's not one of us and that was not alien related. Despite what Tess says, I have never blatantly lied to any of you about Liz. Believe me when I say she has secrets of her own that don't concern us. She's been hiding what she is for longer then we have and that's all I’m allowed to say."

"She let something slip today while we were out; said that she might have to leave Alex alone. What did she mean by that?"

Sighing, Michael raked his hands through his hair. Damn it, he had thought that Liz had gotten past that. Manticore was all but destroyed and she would soon be able to lead a normal life, one where she wouldn’t have to worry about leaving Alex behind without a second thought.

"Can we talk about this later, Isabel? I really need to catch up with her and try to calm her down. Can you get Alex to man the kitchen? That I went after Liz?"

"Sure, no problem, but how are you going to find her? She could be anywhere."

"Don't worry, I know where she is."


Part XVI - For the Taking

Climbing off of his motorcycle, Michael looked up at the sheer cliff wall looming in front of him. A smile crossed his face as he remembered his and Liz's first journey there and all of the trips since that fateful night. This had been the site of their first kiss and had become so much more since then.

The place was a monument to Michael's readjusted life as it was the first place where he had decided to follow his heart instead of his head. Here, he had found someone that could relate and understand his thoughts and actions, something that he had never even considered possible. Here, his heart had found and made room for Liz Parker.

Michael knew that the escarpment was special for Liz, too; she had been the one to bring him out here and introduce him to it. He wasn't the only one that had found and welcomed change out here. The plateau had been her high place, a sanctuary where she could look back on the few happy memories of her past and look forward to new ones. Now, it was their fortress of solitude, a place where they could come and enjoy the moment instead of dwelling on the past or dreaming of the future.

Over the months that Michael and Liz had been together, she had come out here often; sometimes he would join her, other times she would insist on being alone. Here, she could forget all her problems and find peace. It was where Michael knew she would be and he hadn't been disappointed; her motorcycle was parked in the shadow of the stone.

Quickly, Michael ascended the steep gradation. Rock climbing had been a necessary skill to learn when he started dating Liz and she had been a very willing teacher. They had spent many a night scaling various formations, working on his skill and maneuverability, and the rewards, both mentally and carnally, had been worth every cut, scrape and fall he had suffered.

Within minutes, Michael had reached the flat expanse of the mesa. Pulling his body up and over the edge, he walked over to where Liz lay on her back staring at the great expanse of stars shining in the sky above her. Pulling off his jacket, he sank down beside her and used the coat as a makeshift pillow.

"What are you doing here?" he heard her ask quietly.

"I thought that you could use a friend," Michael replied simply, letting her decide the direction the conversation would take.

Liz rolled over and entwined their legs together, pressing her body to Michael's intimately. Softly she stroked his chest through the rough material of his shirt and nuzzled his stubble-covered cheek with her nose. "I don't need a friend right now," she purred. "I need a lover."

Michael's body responded immediately to the dulcet sounds of her voice and he couldn't help but lean in for a kiss. Intending only for a brief encountering of lips, he had to suppress a surprised gasp when Liz deepened the union. She roughly pushed her tongue into his open mouth and moved to straddle his hips. The ferocity of her kiss increased drastically, what she wanted from Michael unmistakably clear.

Breathlessly, Michael broke contact with Liz to get his bearings. "We need to talk about what happened tonight," he panted trying to hold her body and lips at bay.

"I'm through talking, Michael, that's all we ever do and it hasn't accomplished anything. Right now, I need to feel. I need to have some other emotion in me besides loathing, anger and violence. I need you inside me. I need to feel your love for me as you approach your climax, to feel your seed fill my womb. It makes me feel alive. Help me, Michael; I need to know that I'm human. Please, give this to me," she begged. "I need you."

"I need you," Liz repeated softly meeting his eyes.

The sadness and fear that Michael saw reflected in the depths of her chocolate pools awed and concerned him. She was vulnerable, a very un-Liz like trait. She was the strongest person that he knew; she was aggressive and self-reliant, anything but vulnerable. Distress flooded through their connection as Michael mentally reached out for Liz, immense anguish. He could easily read the inner turmoil and found it centered on the events back at the Crashdown tonight and from the dinner a couple of days ago. Liz was terrified, not for her secrets or safety but of herself and what she was becoming.

Michael knew that they needed to discuss the earlier incident but he could not refuse her heartfelt plea; they would talk later. Right now, she needed his assurance and love, not pretty words but actual, physical contact. With his eyes, he indicated that he understood and would not deny Liz what she desired. She sighed in relief and slowly began to grind their lower bodies together.

Sitting upright, Michael threaded his fingers into Liz's hair and brought their mouths together giving her the passion and intensity that she craved. The heat of the kiss spread to his body, scorching him, melting any further resolve that he might have had. Her need was becoming his and he desperately wanted to be with her, in her. He needed to be surrounded by her moist, waiting heat, to be buried deep inside her, to touch her soul.

Urgently, Michael began to strip Liz of her clothing, only breaking their kiss to pull her shirt up and over her head. Savagely, he worried her newly exposed breasts with his lips and teeth, encouraged when he heard her growls of contentment. Roughly, he brought his hands down to encircle her waist before sliding them up her sides and around her back to draw their chests closer together. Liz arched into his touch and threw her head back moaning his name.

Drawing back slightly, Michael clenched her sensitive nipple between his teeth and pulled it taught. Liz's body convulsed in pleasure at the slight sting of his ministrations and her fingers fisted in his hair almost painfully. Impassioned beyond any point of regaining control, he turned his attention to the upper swell of her left breast. Primal instincts overwhelmed him and he felt the pull to leave his mark on her body. Michael gave in to the need; waiting only until Liz nodded her head ever so slightly in permission. Slowly, his teeth bit into the soft tissue as his lips closed over the area sucking forcefully.

Releasing Liz's tender skin, Michael leaned back to admire his handiwork, pleased at the dark bruise staining her, otherwise flawless, breast. Looking up at the angel straddling his body, he growled possessively, "You're mine."

posted on 31-Oct-2002 3:35:15 PM
Part XVII - Mine

Approval gleamed in Liz's eyes as she held his gaze. Wantonly, she threw herself back into the moment needing to return his favor, to brand him as he had her. Frantically, she pulled at the buttons of his shirt, ripping the garment open when she couldn't manipulate the tiny clasps quick enough. Laying him back on the ground, she slid down his body, distracted momentarily when she encountered the stiffness in his groin. Taking a deep breath, she reluctantly continued her descent pressing her stomach firmly to his growing hardness.

Giving Michael a mischievous grin, Liz seductively purred, "My turn," before dropping her mouth to his naked left pectoral muscle. Never breaking eye contact, she clamped down on the firm area with her teeth and repeated his earlier actions. His eyes darkened with desire at her ministrations, which she continued until he had a stigma that matched her own.

When finished, an indescribable impetus came over Liz. It couldn't be explained in words and there was nothing malignant in it's nature; something about it just seemed so right. Willingly, she submitted to the impulse and let it consume her body, mind and spirit. Wordlessly, she let it guide her movements, climbing off Michael and rising to her knees beside him. Silently, he copied her actions until they were facing each other mere inches separating their sweating bodies, the same forces seemingly leading him.

Meeting Michael's glazed eyes, Liz felt herself falling into their depths and forming a mental connection stronger than any she had ever been a participant in. Their thoughts mingled until she was unsure as to whose they were. As always, she found herself enjoying Michael's presence in her mind, he belonged there.

"Duk ammon," they stated simultaneously. Instinctively, Liz raised her left hand and brought it up to cup Michael's cheek and pressed her right hand to cover her mark on his chest. Vaguely, she was aware that he was mirroring her actions and words.

"Sig kuna di ammana," they spoke together. As the words floated out of her mouth, Liz felt a warm surge of energy deep within her body. The intensity swelled and began to course through her veins, pleasantly filling her thoughts and senses with impressions of her and Michael's love. When she became accustomed to the currents she found that the swirling energy was shifting and changing to a steady hum. It was concentrating in the palm of her right hand, the one positioned on Michael's chest. The vibration echoed to Liz from Michael where his hand was flattened to her flesh.

With a tingling jolt, the energy began spilling out of Liz's hand to pool in the mark she had made with her mouth. Michael's body answered in kind, delightfully flooding her senses with his raw, unrestrained essence. She became lost in the transfer and connection, reveling in all that was Michael. He was a warrior, a protector, a lover and a friend. He was her everything and she his. Liz felt his passion, trust, fear, happiness and overwhelming love as they were fed through the bond and knew that she was sending hers to him as well.

Unable and unwilling to move, Michael and Liz silently agreed to let the power flowing between them progress and expand. The current was stimulating and pleasurable, not in any way undesirable. It was an experience that she would not break away from if she had been given the choice. Her senses were heightened and she was instantly tuned in to Michael's lust and desire. With the newfound sensitivity, the barest touch of his hand on her left breast made her burn with unrestrained passion.

Tilting her chin upwards, Liz met Michael in the softest of kisses, a light brush of velvety lips. The kiss ignited the energy coiling in their bodies, stoking it to a raging inferno. Suddenly, a kiss was not enough for her; she wanted, no, needed, more. Feeling no compulsion to bury or ignore the sensations, she parted her lips and fed hungrily on her lover’s welcoming mouth.

Their mutual need for each other escalated at the deepening of the kiss and Liz could feel her energy begin to blend with Michael's. All thought abandoned her as they stood simultaneously and began to shed the rest of their clothing. Slowly, she slid the zipper of his jeans open and felt him mimicking her motions. She traced her fingers along the waistband of his pants briefly before shoving her hands underneath his boxers to caress his erection. When she felt him reach her core with his own nimble fingers, she stopped teasing and pushed his pants down to his ankles. Liz's own jeans pooled at her feet and she became distracted while impatiently kicking her shoes off to step out of them.

Once stripped completely of all her garments, Liz lay back on the ground pulling Michael on top of her. Growling viciously, he fell on top of her and began to devour her mouth. Before losing herself in his ravishing, she guided his erection to her entrance and helped him slide inside. Releasing animalistic noises at the contact, she encouraged him to drive into her heat powerfully, meeting him thrust for thrust. Liz's orgasm approached quickly with great force and she allowed her body to succumb to it, screaming out in rapture as Michael continued to pound into her. Flipping them over, she rode him hard and fast wanting him to come screaming her name. As her second orgasm started, she felt Michael unraveling beneath her. The explosion of energy was intense as they fell over the brink and into blissful darkness.


Part XVIII - The Morning After

An unwelcome light greeted Michael upon waking in the morning and he groaned in response to the blinding intrusion. Warily, he blinked his eyes open noticing immediately that he was not in his bed, that he was, in fact, sprawled on the desert floor with a familiar weight pinning him down. Grinning down at the dark head of hair, Michael began to stroke her mane contentedly. He always liked waking up with her in his arms; he only wished that he knew where here was.

Shifting slightly, he scratched his eyebrow and tried to remember where he was and how he had gotten there. Liz was upset last night. He came out to find her. They were on top of their plateau and he had driven his bike out here. Okay, that answers that question, but why are we still here?

Slowly, the memories from last night began to trickle to the forefront of his mind. Liz needing to feel him. Marking her. Him being marked by her. Frantically making love in the sand. They had been savage, primal and animalistic in their lovemaking last night, Michael remembered. They had been overwhelmed by intense need and urgency. What was that? Michael thought. They had had sex many times and in almost every way imaginable but last night he could not have stopped if he had tried; something had driven them forward and carried their passion to new heights.

Liz wiggled in his arms and began to suck gently on his neck. Moaning lightly at the contact, Michael pulled her up for a proper good morning kiss.

"Morning to you, too," Liz mumbled sleepily, breaking away from the kiss and looking around the area. "What are we doing out here in the desert? I don't remember being tired or falling asleep."

"I remember following you and having some of the best sex of my life but I'm kind of hazy on the rest of the details," Michael replied honestly.

"Well, maybe this will refresh you memory," she purred sitting up astride his hips.

Michael's manhood flared to life and he was just about to act on his impulses when he noticed the mark on Liz's bare chest. His body froze instantly and he stared in shock. How had he left a mark like that? It wasn't a bruise, it was a tattoo and it was glowing dully in the early morning sun. Momentarily rejecting his enflamed passion, he looked at the tattoo in wonder slowly raising a hand to trace the design.

"Michael, what is it?" Liz asked her voice slowly trailing off to a whisper. "Oh my God."

Tearing his eyes away from Liz, Michael chanced a look to see what had distracted her. Following her fingers to his left pectoral muscle, he gasped when he observed an identical tattoo etched into his skin. The colors were vibrant and the design extraordinary. Two swords were crossed over a starburst of deep blue. One blade was heavy, thick and black while the other was of lighter stock and shimmered in silver; blood tipped the ends of each weapon. The swords obviously indicated Michael and Liz's roles as protectors and soldiers and that did not trouble him, it was the third object that he didn't understand. Looped around each hilt was a golden circle; the circles were conjoined beneath the clashing swords. Upon initial inspection, he had thought that it was an infinity symbol but a closer investigation showed him that they were rings linked together.

"Wow," he stammered. "I didn't know that I could do that."

Smiling, Liz replied, "We did that. Now we share the same mark, our mark."

Affectionately, she raised her hand to caress the emblem of their love. As her fingertips brushed across his tattoo, a bolt of ecstasy rushed through Michael. Hissing, he snapped his eyes shut and commanded, "Do that again."

Once more, Liz stroked Michael's chest sending waves of pleasure throughout his body, this time accompanied by flashes of last night. The images hit him with a brute force: the synchronous movements, the ache to be together and the simultaneous words. Somewhere deep in the recesses of his mind, he recognized their actions and the strange words. They had completed a ceremony from his past, not just any ceremony but an Antarian one of great importance.

"Liz," Michael said with an emotional rawness in his voice. "I know what happened last night."

"What is it?" she asked concerned. "Is something wrong?"

"I think it's great but you might think otherwise," he replied cautiously. "Do you remember what we did before we made love?"

"Yes," Liz said, "I remembered it in flashes when you touched your mark on my chest."

"It was a ceremony, an ancient Antarian tradition." Michael paused momentarily before continuing, "Last night we bonded."

"What do you mean 'bonded'? We've had sex before, why was this one time any different?" she asked with confusion.

"Not bonded as in sex, Liz." He hoped that his next words wouldn't make her hate him. "We bonded as in spiritually, mentally, physically. We now belong to each other, life mates, inseparable from one another. We will never be able to find solace or happiness in anyone else ever again. Our lives are now entwined, for better or worse, for the rest of our lives."

Liz turned her head away so Michael couldn't read her eyes. She had yet to say anything and he was worried; did she not want this? "Say something," he pleaded, "please. Do you hate me? I don't want to lose you but if you don't want to be my mate, I'll leave." Sadly, he laid his head back in the dirt and closed his eyes willing the unshed tears away.

Soft drops of warm rain splattered down into Michael's face before he could properly start mourning his loss. Opening his eyes, he found Liz weeping above him but smiling happily. "I'm honored to be yours. I love you and don't want you anywhere but in my life everyday for as long as I live."

"So you're not mad?"

"How could I be? I've been bonded to the man I love and have been promised that his love will be returned to me forever." Grabbing his hand, Liz placed it over her left breast then brought her hand to rest on his speaking the words from last night, "Duk ammon. Sig kuna di ammana.” Forever mine. I am yours for all eternity.

posted on 31-Oct-2002 3:36:17 PM
Part XIX - Responsibilities

It was growing late in the afternoon when Michael and Liz finally made it back to the Crashdown. They had found an extremely pleasurable way to celebrate their new closeness and had a hard time breaking up their tryst. It seemed that the bonding had affected their sex drive, increasing it dramatically. Which is saying quite a bit, Liz thought humorously. She suspected that the marriage of their souls had other affects as well but so far they hadn't had any indications; all they could do was wait, it was only a matter of time before they surfaced.

Upon opening the door to the apartment, they were greeted by an extremely agitated Alex. "About damn time you two got home," he spat furiously gesturing with his hands.

"Relax, Alex," Liz told him taken aback by his attitude. It was nothing like the happy-go-lucky man she had lived with for so many years. "What bug crawled up your ass this morning?"

Alex glared at them menacingly. "While you were both out doing whatever the hell that you were doing until..." he glanced at his watch, "...three o'clock this afternoon, I've been getting obscene phone calls from our 'commanding officer'. Seems that he was supposed to get the preliminary plans for the Lubbock expedition this morning, but someone forgot to send them. Any guesses as to who he blames for the incident?"

"Shit," Michael hissed angrily. "How in the hell could I forget to do that? I'm sorry, Alex, I didn't mean to leave you to deal with Zack. I'll handle this, let me take a quick shower then I'll gather the material and you can send it to him."

Michael raced out of the room and Liz turned to follow him. "Oh no you don't, sister," Alex said grabbing her arm. "If you go help him, he'll never get out of there and I'm not about to listen to another of Zack's outbursts."

"Chill, I'm just going to grab some clothes and use your bathroom. Is that all right?"

"Fine, but you had better be quick; we've got a lot of stuff to do tonight."

"Yes, dad," she said grinning. "I'm sorry that we weren't back any sooner but something happened last night and we lost track of time."

"Do I want to hear about it?"

"Probably not, but I'm not even sure that I could explain it. It was…different and definitely alien in origin."


"No, not at all. It was actually..." Liz searched for the right words to tell him, "...quite enjoyable."

"That's enough, I don't need to hear anymore," Alex groaned. "Please, go take your shower, maybe it will cool down your libido."

"Fat chance of that happening," Liz mumbled under her breath as she made her way into her bedroom.


Part XX - After Effects

After a brisk, and extraordinarily cold, shower, Michael haphazardly dried his body off and pulled on a pair of boxers. He still couldn't believe that he had completely forgotten about the plans; it was unlike him. Zack was probably furious and he was sure that he'd lost any ground that he had captured yesterday on the phone. Wondering how he could be so stupid, he shuffled out to the dining room and collected the papers that he needed Alex to send.

"Ouch," he yelled jerking his finger into his mouth. Stupid paper cut.

"Are you okay, man?" Alex asked concernedly. "Liz told me something happened last night, something alien. Did you get hurt?"

"Thanks for your sympathy, Alex, but I'm fine," Michael said forcing a smile on his mouth for Alex's benefit. "I'm just a little upset with myself; I'm sure my stunt this morning isn't doing too much for my request."

"And what would that request be?" Liz asked from the doorway. Damn, he thought, eyeing her damp hair, flushed skin and skimpy attire, a pair of his black silk boxers, a black, cropped tank top and his mark displayed proudly, unhindered by a fabric covering. He felt his desire for her stir and cursed silently, that cold shower was all for naught if she was going to prance around like that.

"I'll tell you later," he murmured stalking towards her.

"Um, guys," Alex interrupted, clapping his hands in impatience. "Task at hand please. You can return to your nookie later, after you've gotten all of our asses out of the hot water."

"Mud," Michael muttered breaking eye contact with his goddess. She brought him to his knees with just a look, a word, a soft intake of air; he loved her with everything that he was and now she would be his forever.

"What was that, Michael?" Alex asked grinning maniacally. "I don't think that I quite heard you."

Michael ignored his friend and finished gathering all the papers he needed. Hurriedly, he organized the sheets then thrust them into Alex's waiting hands. "It's up to you now, buddy. Scan them, encrypt them and send them. Come on we don't have all night, some of us have better things to be doing with our time," he said smirking.

Alex frowned, "One of these days, Guerin, I'm going to get the last word." Sitting down at his desk, he began to type away at the keyboard furiously, seemingly ignoring the other two occupants in the room.

Feeling Liz's presence, Michael turned around to gather her in his arms. "Don't you have any decency? I mean, what were you thinking wearing that in front of a sex-crazed alien? Did you want me to ravish you right here in the middle of the apartment?"

"Well, that was the idea," she purred, nuzzling his neck. "But now I've got other plans. Give me your hand; it's dripping blood all over my carpet. I leave you alone for a couple of minutes and look what happens."

"It's just a paper cut," he replied examining the wound with a frown, "although it is a little bit deeper then I thought."

"Let me see it," she demanded, "I'll let you know how bad it is; I am, after all, a trained medic."

Reluctantly, Michael held out his hand to let Liz assess the jagged cut. "See I told you it wasn't...Ouch," he shrieked when she probed the wound. Yep, definitely worse then he thought, he was starting to get a little light-headed, but he’d never tell anyone that. Raising a hand to brace himself, Michael grabbed a hold of Liz's shoulder brushing her tattoo with his thumb in the process.

Warmth surrounded Michael's body as he felt the energy in Liz grow and reach out for him at his light touch. The power surge was brief and when it was over, he no longer felt unsteady and the stinging in his finger had ceased. Casting a cursory glance at his finger, Michael observed that both the cut and blood were gone showing a perfectly healthy finger.

"Well, I think we've found another side-effect of the bonding," Liz stated wryly, looking somewhat amazed at the discovery. Michael nodded in agreement; she had healed him, he had nothing to do with it. It appeared that she could access some of his alien abilities, healing at least, which others, he didn't know.

Neither paid any attention to Alex as he stared at them in shock, that was until he spoke up; they were too busy trying to understand what was happening. "What do you mean by that? What effect of what bonding? And when did you both get tattoos?" he asked, his eyes darting between Michael and Liz.

Seeing an encouraging look in Liz's eyes, Michael decided to tell Alex everything. "Last night we bonded, it's an Antarian custom very similar to Earth marriages. The tattoos are a result of the ceremony and signify our relationship to each other."

"What?" Alex stammered. "Married? How could you just get married? Did you ever think that I might want to see me little sister get married?"

"Alex," Liz said soothingly rubbing his back, "he said that it was similar to marriage. Trust me, you didn't want to be there; it was a very...personal experience and not meant for public viewing. And it's not like we planned for it to happen, we weren't even aware of what was going on at the time, it felt right so we went with it."

"So are you or are you not married?" he asked trying to clear his confusion.

"No, not married, at least not by Earth's standards," Michael stated. "It's more like we've declared ourselves mates...”

"...for all eternity," Liz finished. "The tattoos symbolize our love, our individuality and our intertwined lives."

"What did you mean by effects?" Alex questioned curiously.

Michael was uncomfortable with the question so he softly cleared his throat and let Liz answer it. "Well," she said casting an amused glance at Michael, "we seem to have developed an almost overwhelming sex drive."

Alex groaned loudly, "How can you two crave sex anymore? You already go at it like rabbits any time you're alone in a room for more than a minute." Liz opened her mouth to speak but was stopped by her brother’s waving hand. "You know what, I don't want to know, forget I asked that last question. Liz, you said something about another effect?"

"I just healed Michael's paper cut; it appears that I'm accessing or developing his alien powers."

Alex's draw dropped down to his chest. Before he could recover from the shock of Liz's statement, Michael pressed on. "We don't know if she's going to inherit my abilities but it's a pretty good guess. We'll test them out later and see but right now we just don't know what either of us is capable of, I don't really remember anything about the outcome of a bonding and I’m positive that there has never been one like this before."

"Who knows," Liz added softly, "Michael, you might even take on some of my characteristics."

"As if you weren't both freaks before," Alex joked, "now you'll have to contend with a combination of alien know how and Manticore engineering. Promises to be loads of fun, I'm sure."

Before Michael could voice an acceptable retort, the ringing of the phone broke through the silence of the apartment. Zack.

posted on 31-Oct-2002 3:37:29 PM
Part XXI - Facing the Music

Taking a deep breath before picking up the phone, Michael prepared for his unavoidable ass chewing. "Hello, Zack."

"Well, if it isn't Michael Guerin. I'm guessing that you have a very good explanation for your lack of performance today but..."

"Actually..." Michael interrupted.

"As I was going to say, I don't want to hear it," Zack said stiffly. "Your failure disappoints me and I would reprimand you if I had the time, but I don't; in about an hour, my team is heading out to hit the second to last base. I will say one thing though," he said, his voice growing more chilly and authoritative, "don't ever let me down again or you will regret it; I can promise you that."

"I won't fail you again," he said, breathing a sigh of relief and scratching his eyebrow. This was not quite the tirade that he had been expecting and was happy that he wouldn't be getting reamed. Zack must be getting soft, he thought smirking.

"Just so you know where you stand, Michael," Zack stated. "If it hadn't been for your exemplary performance this summer, I wouldn't be giving you a another chance. You have proven your worth."

Michael's jaw dropped open at the words and he didn't say anything. A compliment from Zack was extremely rare and he was slightly stunned at the moment. With fierce determination, he swore that he would not make Zack regret it.

Before the conversation could get too personal, Zack changed topics. "I've looked at the prelims that you had Alex send me a little while ago. They're crude and need some work but I think this approach is worth pursuing. I want you to have a complete draft prepared for me by Wednesday night so we can go a week from that day. Field reports have shown that security is most lax on that day and will give us a little bit of an edge."

"Right," Michael said in agreement. "We'll get on it immediately and pound out more details as soon as you send your recommendations."

"Check the extra equipment that we'll be using and procure whatever else we're going to need. Have Alex memorize the compound's security systems and contact Logan; they'll need to collaborate on this."

"Zack?" Michael asked, his heart pounding in anticipation. "What about Liz and me? Any specific instructions?"

"Have Ash fit you both with a vest and some weaponry."

"You're allowing us to join an active unit?"

"I'll see all three of you in Lubbock in a week and a half." With his final statement, Zack hung up the phone cutting off any further questions from Michael.

A slow smile spread across Michael's mouth, they were going to Texas.

"That does not look like the face of a man who just got reprimanded by the CO from hell," Alex stated dryly. "Good news, I hope."

"Very good news, Alex," Michael said giving him a meaningful look.

"Really?" he said, a smile emerging on his face as well. "I didn't think that he would cave."

Michael noticed Liz looking between him and Alex with a question in her eyes. "What am I missing here? What good news?"

"Well, Liz," Michael stated gently grabbing her shoulders and looking deeply into her eyes. "Looks like we'll be making a trip to Lubbock next Wednesday. Seems that Zack agrees with me and wants us out on the front line with him."

Liz's eyes lit up happily and she launched herself at Michael, nearly knocking him over with the force of her reaction. "It seems, to me, that we have some celebrating to do," Liz stated drawing him into a deep, passionate kiss.

"As much as I hate to say it, and I really, really do hate to say this," Michael groaned, "the celebration is going to have to wait. We've got a deadline to meet if we don't want Zack to revoke his decision."


Part XXII - Hormonal Urges

"You can't put it off any longer, Liz," Michael stated reproachfully. "You promised to meet with Maria on the phone earlier, so you're going to go downstairs in five minutes and see what she has to say."

Liz's only response to his chastisement was a low growl and an annoyed glare at her boyfriend. She could feel the familiar rush of blood stirring within her body; she was going into heat. The last thing she needed was to go down to the Crashdown and argue party semantics with Maria and Isabel. If she didn't get Michael into bed, soon, it was going to be hard to contain her temper and frustration.

Sniffing the air, Liz noticed that Michael had a different scent today but what it was she couldn't place. Amusedly, she wondered if the bonding might have affected his response to her feline urges. If that was the case, there was no way in hell he would let her stay away for long, she thought grinning.

Stepping into his personal space, Liz wrapped her arms around Michael. Nipping at his collarbone with her teeth and dragging her nails down his bare back, she couldn't help but groan when she felt his arousal begin to grow and press against her stomach. Hastily, she pushed him against the wall and attacked his mouth.

If Michael was feeling any of her increased ardor, he made no indication of it. Instead, he halted her attack and began pushing her gently, but forcefully, out of the room. "Go," he commanded. "There's nothing up here for you to do at the moment anyway. We finished with the plans and Alex is the only one that has any actual work to do. Right now, we're just waiting on word from Zack about last night's raid and then we're going to send out the plans that we slaved over last night and all day today."

"I don't want to go," she purred stopping in the stairwell and turning towards him with a fierce determination in her eyes. Stepping close to Michael, Liz drew his head nearer and rubbed her cheek alongside his, reveling in the scratch of his beard stubble and marking him with her scent. She heard him sigh contentedly but he kept shoving her down the steps.

"I don't know what's gotten into you tonight, Liz," he said pulling away from her, "but you need to go. Maria and Isabel are waiting and you promised. I'll be down later, after I've helped Alex. Now scoot."

Somehow, while Liz was lost in the wonderfulness that was Michael, he had gotten her out of the apartment and halfway down the stairs to the restaurant. Before she could protest, he withdrew back into their home and closed the door behind him. Reluctantly, Liz turned and walked down the stairs not bothering to try the door, knowing instinctively that he had sealed it using his alien powers.


What the hell was that? Michael thought as he leaned back against the now closed door gasping for breath. It had taken all of his willpower, and then some, to push Liz out of the apartment. The way she had been all over him and the fierceness in her eyes led him to believe that she was going into heat. No, he was positive that's what was happening and was well aware that she would need him soon. That wasn't the strange part; it had been his response to her advances that had shocked him. Michael had never felt her want so intensely, the feeling was almost palpable.

Struggling to regain his composure, Michael shook himself and walked into the living room just as the phone rang. Picking up the receiver, he almost screamed in relief. Surely an argument with Zack would cool off his libido. "Zack," he breathed into the mouthpiece. "How did it go?"

"Surprisingly easy," he replied calmly. "The place was nearly abandoned, only a couple handfuls of guards, it was like they knew we were coming and cleared out before we got there."

Michael frowned and sat down in a wooden chair, it wasn't good news. "We knew that it was a long shot they wouldn’t figure out what we were up to. Do you think that they've moved everything to their last location or somewhere new?"

"I don't really know but I guess we'll find out in a week. As it was, there was no vital information available and the few soldiers that they did leave were incompetent. No one was injured and we all made it back to the rendezvous without an incident."

"That's news that I like to hear. What are we going to do about next week? Still go on as planned?"

"Yeah, we're not going to back down now. Manticore knows that we're closing in on them and they are planning something big. If we took the chance to back off for a while, their forces would regenerate and we'd have more problems then when we started this venture. I don't want to see that happen and I'm pretty sure that I can speak for the others. We've worked too hard and too long to quit when we're so close."

"I agree with you," Michael stated nodding his head. "We need to strike now. I just don't like your report; it probably means that they are amassing their remaining troops in Lubbock. I have the final plans a little early and I'll have Alex get them to you as soon as possible. We'll probably have to tweak them some more due to the new data."

"I'll get you more exact information as soon as I can, Michael. I've already sent out more scouts to run perimeter checks and whatever else they can manage. I'm not going to lie to you, next Wednesday does not look like it will be a fairy tale ending."

"You didn't have to tell me, I already knew. Nothing, in either of our lives, is ever simple, but we'll pull through, we always have."

"Keep that optimism, you'll be needing it."

Optimistic, hmm, he guessed he was, now who would have thought that? "You could use a little of it too, Zack."

"I'm a soldier, Michael, through and through. I don't let emotion and hope cloud my senses and decisions. Maybe after this is all said and done, we'll see, but right now..."

Zack's voice trailed off and Michael realized that he had let more information out then he had intended. Sensing that he would be uncomfortable with his new insight, Michael changed the subject. "I'll have Alex email you the plans after I get off the phone and we can discuss them tomorrow."

"Sounds good, soldier," Zack stated stiffly, the momentary breach into his thoughts sealed tightly. "I'll call tomorrow and make sure that Ash is there, I want to talk to her."

The line went dead and Michael returned the phone to the base. Motioning to Alex, he signaled for the man to transfer the recent changes to Zack; he was too lost in his thoughts to speak. Frowning, he scratched his eyebrow knowing that if the details of the upcoming mission weren't perfectly wrought then he risked losing Liz, Alex, her family and even her domineering older brother. They deserved a chance at happiness and living without fear, Michael just hoped that he was strong enough to be the person they needed him to be. Not the protector from an alien planet but the leader and strategist that they depended on.

Abruptly, Michael was roused from his thoughts when he felt a wave of pure lust course through him. Standing rigidly, he was slightly surprised when he knocked over the chair that he had been reclining in. Bending over to return the chair to its rightful state, he felt another ripple move through him. Grasping the chair tightly in his hands, Michael fought the overwhelming sensations and was vaguely aware that Alex was staring at him curiously.

"Hey man," he asked, "are you all right?"

Michael's head snapped to Alex's voice, a sound that suddenly grated on his every nerve. Glaring at his friend, he struggled against the need to jump over the table and beat Alex senseless. What the hell was going on? Michael thought. Catching the glitter of his newly acquired tattoo, he suddenly knew.

Consciously or not, Liz was pulling him to her; he was feeling her go into heat. Somehow, his alien/human body was responding to her animalistic urges. He realized that he could liken himself to a tomcat on the prowl. He needed to fight or claim his territory and breed.

Alex started to speak again but stopped when Michael narrowed his eyes and hissed at him angrily. If he said another word, Liz's brother, or not, he was going to get his ass kicked. Clasping his hands more tightly on the back of the chair, Michael tried to control the torrent of raging hormones. No good, he thought, digging further into the hard wood of the chair, feeling it splinter and crack in his vise-like grip.

An unexpected hum started in the back of Michael's mind giving him a solution to his problem. Leaping into action, he knocked Alex out of his way and sprinted down the stairs to the Crashdown, to Liz. The hum let him know that she needed him just as badly, just as quickly, just as forcefully and that she would be ready and waiting.

posted on 31-Oct-2002 3:38:37 PM
Part XXIII - Giving In to the Force

Liz tried to listen to the conversation and even add a few comments of her own but she found herself distracted. Distracted by the sight and smell of so many men. They were everywhere and her skin burned to be touched by one of them, all of them, anyone that would have her right now, anyone that would give her sexual release.

Damn, Michael, she thought, why did he have to send her away now? If he didn't show up any time soon, she was not going to be held responsible for her actions. Desire coursed through her body; desire to be claimed, to be taken, to be bred. The lust and awareness had never been this intense before and she wondered at it. The feelings were overwhelming and if Maria hadn't boxed her into the booth, she would be upstairs shredding Michael's clothing to feel the smooth skin of his naked flesh rubbing up against her body. Luckily, she was strong-willed and stubborn, but a girl could only maintain her disposition for so long before she cracked.

A hum started in the back of her head and that was all it took. Liz broke. Ignoring the protests of Maria and Isabel, she leapt onto the table, scattering their drinks and food to the floor, unaware of the incredulous stares of the other customers. They didn't matter; Michael was coming for her.

Quickly, she escaped into the back room and spied Michael rushing down the stairwell. A shared look of mutual need passed between them before time disappeared. Suddenly they were locked in a tight embrace, ravishing each other's mouth, seeking out a release.

Clothes evaporated with a flick of a wrist, whose, Liz was not sure. The fire that had been raging in her loins for the last half-hour was immediately stoked at the first contact of Michael's smooth skin. Reacting the only way she knew how, she wrapped her legs around his hips and impaled herself on his body. Immense waves of pleasure and ecstasy washed through her; finally she was where she had been craving to be all night.

Both groaned at the swift joining of their bodies. Growling uncontrollably, Liz barely felt as Michael slammed her naked body into the brick wall of the break room, she was too caught up in the sensations that he was creating in her. Ignoring the rough surface as it dug into her back, she let herself enjoy the overwhelming passion and lust of the moment.

As he began to pound into her body, she found herself unable to remain quiet and called out his name in great, bellowing gasps, vaguely aware that he was following her example. Meeting Michael thrust for thrust, she felt her body quickly approaching orgasm. Blissfully, she exploded to the erratic tempo he had set letting warmth and pinpricks of sensation spread throughout her body. Even as her body cooled down, she could feel another orgasm approaching and this time she knew that he would join her in release.

Her second climax was approaching fast when she heard the doors creak open. Growling menacingly, Michael turned away from the spot he was worrying on her neck long enough to throw out a hand and force Isabel back through the door to the restaurant before slamming it shut. Seeing Alex at the head of the stairs, Liz mimicked Michael's actions and threw her brother back into the apartment, securing the door lock after he passed through.

Throughout the interruption, never once did they break their tempo and soon Liz forgot about the intrusion. She concentrated on the feel of Michael moving in and out of her body and felt a surge of happiness. This was where she always wanted to be. Teeth bit into the tender flesh of her neck and she threw her head back in rapture as she let her second orgasm overwhelm her. Her body was hypersensitive and trembling in ecstasy as it acknowledged her lover's release, his seed planted in her body, seeking out her womb.

Panting heavily, they both slid to the floor, no longer containing the strength to maintain a standing position. During the fall, Michael's hold on her never faltered and she ended up lying beside him on the cool tile. Meeting his gaze with hooded eyes, she saw the wonder and confusion etched in his own. He wanted to know why he had reacted so strongly but she didn't have his answers, she could only speculate.

Liz's sex induced haze was starting to wear off but she still could not make her body function properly. Just as well, she was quite content to remain in Michael's sweaty embrace until morning. Taking a moment to gather her thoughts, she found that the earlier humming in her brain was still there and stronger. It was a pleasant feeling, full of love, contentment and astonishment yet it held a note of worry. Instinctively, Liz knew that she was feeling Michael's emotions and from the look of wonder on his face, he hers.

Michael was the first to break the comfortable silence. "Sorry I booted you out of the apartment, I think that we wasted some incredibly valuable time," he said smirking tiredly.

"You're just lucky that I'm not going to hold it against you. As soon as we can find a more suitable venue, I'm going to demand a repeat performance." Liz smiled lazily, despite the fact that she was thoroughly sated, she could feel desire swirling low in her belly.

"You better hope that I'm inheriting your stamina as well as...well...whatever this is."

"We both know what this is; I'm in heat, you responded like the alpha male."


Part XXIV - Caught in the Act

"Has your reaction always been this strong?" Michael asked curiously, although he already knew what her answer would be.

"No, must be an alien perk," she said grinning at him. "It does add some spice to our sex life, doesn't it?"

"I didn't think it could get any spicier." Gently, he began to stroke her back with his hands, which had suddenly become extremely restless. Groaning, Michael realized that the desire he was convinced he had exorcised in Liz hadn't completely dissipated. In fact, it was coiling through his body like a hungry beast only slightly appeased for the time being. They needed to relocate soon, he thought mischievously or else someone would stumble in on...

"Shit!" Michael yelled. Now that he remembered, he could hear people banging on the door trying to get in. "Liz, I think that we're in for a lecture, a beating, anything. I blasted Isabel out of the room and then sealed the door."

"I wouldn't worry about that so much, Michael," she said somewhat aloofly. "I did the same thing to Alex."

Michael eyes widened and he stared at her; she nodded indicating that she wasn't lying. Sure enough, a pounding could be heard from the upstairs apartment and horrified yells. How had he missed that? Oh yeah, he had been busy burying himself deep within his girlfriend.

"So you've inherited healing and power blasts, what else do you think will pop up?"

"Perhaps we should discuss this later?" she suggested chuckling lightly. "I do believe that our siblings are trying to get to us at the moment."

Impishly, Michael glanced to the door that hid Isabel from view. "What are we supposed to tell her? Alex is in on our little secret but I don't want to tell Isabel yet."

"First, let Alex in, maybe he'll have a suggestion or, better yet, a solution." Raising an eyebrow in amusement, Michael cast her a questioning glance. "What?"

"Do you really think that your brother wants to see us naked?" She smirked at his answer. "Again, I mean."

They dressed quickly in spare clothes they found in the employee lockers then let Alex in. When the door opened, he stumbled down a couple of steps before catching himself on the railing. "What the hell is going on? With the way Michael rushed out of the apartment, I thought that we were under attack. And who is banging on the other door?"

"Everything's fine, Alex. There isn't a siege, just Isabel trying to break her way in here." Liz said soothingly.

Alex crossed his arms over his chest and began to stomp his foot impatiently waiting for an answer. "Alex, man, she's in heat," Michael told him in explanation.

"That's all," he exclaimed, his shoulders relaxing slightly. "I've dealt with it before."

"No, it's different this time," Michael replied. "The affects were increased in Liz and spilled over to me through our new connection."


"Think of it in terms of animals," Liz said matter-of-factly. "I went into heat and Michael was the male that needed to claim me."

Alex's eyes grew wide and his jaw dropped as he understood the comparison. You'd think he'd handle surprises a lot better after all that we've put him through the last couple of months, Michael thought amusedly. "Well, I thought you two were horn dogs before and now you're telling me that I'm going to have to suffer through this several times a year. Do you have no shame? If anyone's going to be getting that much sex I think it should be me."

"Want to say that again, Parker?" Michael said glaring at him and taking a step forward. Perhaps present conditions were influencing his possessiveness, but no matter, he wanted to rumble and Alex was providing an outlet. "I do believe you're dating my sister."

"Michael," Liz said placing a restraining hand on his arm. "Cool it. You fuck his sister every night in the room across the hall from his. You don't get to throw stones. Besides, she's outside this door and we need to let her in."

Relenting, Michael grumbled loudly and allowed Liz to wrap her arms around his waist. "Any ideas as to what to tell Isabel, Alex, my dearest brother?"

"Tell her the truth," he said bitterly, "that you couldn't wait until you got to a more secure location before jumping each other's bones. She'll believe it, I complain about you two all of the time."

Michael cast another glare at Alex before releasing the door sending Isabel and Maria tumbling to the break room floor. They splayed out before them in a tangled pile and he couldn't help but laugh as they tried to straighten themselves. Soon he found himself followed in his humor by Alex and Liz. With the stress of the confrontation over, Michael found the situation hilarious, he and Liz had gotten caught once again in the throws of passion.

"I don't find what's so humorous about this," Isabel stated icily. "I heard my brother and friend screaming bloody murder and I couldn't get in to help them."

"Believe me, Isabel," Liz chuckled, "we weren't screaming bloody murder."

"Actually, quite the opposite, Iz," Michael managed to choke out through bursts of laughter. "I don't really think that there would be anything that you could do to help, nothing that wouldn't be construed as incest in forty-nine states."

"Oh my God," she stuttered, "you were..." Isabel didn't finish the sentence, her cheeks flushed red and she joined the other three in laughter.

Maria had yet to say or do anything since toppling headfirst into the room. Turning to see her reaction, Michael felt his mirth renew. Her eyes were darting rapidly back and forth between him and Liz trying to process the new information; she appeared disbelieving. "Alex had mentioned your escapades but I thought he was just kidding. I mean this is Liz Parker we're talking about."

Alex, Liz and Michael collapsed to the floor clutching their sides at the hilarity of her statement but Isabel stopped laughing and looked to Maria. "Why is it that I feel I'm missing out on some private joke?"

posted on 31-Oct-2002 3:39:43 PM
Part XXV – Gearing Up for Battle

Tuesday, the night after Michael and Liz had attacked each other in the break room, they, along with Alex, were working quietly on their roles for the upcoming week in Lubbock. After the events of the following night, they decided not to leave the apartment for fear of a reoccurrence. As it was, Liz was certain that Isabel was suspicious of the incident and they didn't need to add any more fuel for her speculations.

While serving their self-imposed imprisonment, Michael and Liz had dealt with their heightened sexuality in the only way they knew how, lots and lots of carnal pleasuring. She smiled smugly to herself, it had been a very welcome gift when Michael not only showed signs of increased stamina but wakefulness and her own personal favorite, agility. To say that their night had been enjoyable would be an understatement; it had been exquisite.

As much as she had enjoyed their twenty-four hour interlude, Liz was glad to feel the effects of her heat fading away. She liked to be in control of her body and when she was in heat, she was far from in control. Shaking herself, she concentrated on the task at hand; if she thought too much about last night and earlier in the day, she would only re-ignite her dampened passion.

Picking up a knife, Liz glanced about her seated body and at the silvered weapons. Moments earlier, she had spread their accumulated arsenal around where she sat on the floor and was now picking through it carefully. The mission was in a week and she was occupying her time trying to tamp down her excitement by checking and rechecking all of the equipment. Despite her training, the promise of the forthcoming endeavor was threatening to bubble over and betray her mercenary skills and attitude. She was like a caged bird that had been promised a chance to fly; hence the need to occupy herself with busy work.

Carefully, Liz raised the steel to the blade she was holding and preceded to hone the edge to razor sharpness. Satisfied with her handiwork, she set it down and picked up the next one. There were four more to do and then she was going to overhaul the guns before constructing the explosive devices that they would need to blow the last Manticore establishment sky-high.

Catching herself merrily whistling the theme song to Mission Impossible, Liz chuckled. Perhaps I'm enjoying this a little too much. Casting a cursory glance around the room, she tried to judge if either of the men had heard her. Nope, they were both too busy to be bothered by her musical attempts.

Stopping in her task briefly, Liz analyzed the two men in her life. Alex was, at present, talking on the phone to Logan in Seattle. They were coordinating their roles for next Wednesday and fine-tuning the list of equipment that each would need to bring with them. As he talked his arms and hands gestured about his body wildly, it was clear to Liz that he was just as excited as she was.

Liz wondered if he was aware how much his involvement meant to her. He was human, no special powers or abilities; the only connection was his undying love and devotion for a woman that he looked to as the sister his parents never got to have. Alex may think that his only value was his exemplary computer skills but he was more then that, truthfully, he was her moral support. His presence Wednesday would demonstrate that he believed in Liz and wanted to be a permanent part of her life.

And Michael, he was at his all too familiar perch pouring over details, maps and plans for the millionth time. Everything had to be perfect, and despite his earlier accomplishments, Liz knew that he was worried he was inadequate for the job that he had taken. If the bunched muscles in his back weren't enough of an indication, she only had to observe his scrunched forehead or his hands that were drawn into fists so tightly that the knuckles gleamed white.

Despite his demeanor, Liz knew that he was excited as well, but he couldn't let it show. If he allowed the slightest bit of enthusiasm to spill over he would also give away his nervousness. And we can't have that, Liz thought amusedly; we don't want anyone to know that Michael Guerin might be afraid or insecure.

If it hadn't been for their new attachment, Liz would've passed her insight into his emotions as a result of their time spent together over the last couple of months, but she knew better. The hum from their joining yesterday had yet to go away and neither really thought that it would. It was a constant vibration in the back of Liz's brain that allowed her to sense his emotions. The connection was not telepathic, as with her sister, Max, but just an acute awareness, clues and indications as to the other's mood.

They had discovered over the course of the day that the hum grew louder the closer they were in regards to body proximity or the more heightened the emotions of a situation. Right now, it was like the steady purr of a kitten, quiet and comforting. Liz couldn't hold back a chuckle at the comparison; Michael probably wouldn't like it too much.

Liz's laughter turned into huge guffaws when she noticed that she'd drawn Michael's attention. His eyebrows were raised in a silent question but all she could do was shake in a futile attempt to bottle her mirth. Behind him, Alex paused long enough in his conversation with Logan to direct an annoyed glance in her direction before returning to the phone. Sucking in big gulps of air, Liz avoided Michael's penetrating gaze in an attempt to control herself. The hilarity of her thoughts came to a screeching halt, however, when she heard the distinct metallic snick of the downstairs lock opening.


Part XVI - Full Alert

Immediately, Liz froze where she sat on the floor doing a quick assessment of the situation. Someone had managed to bypass the door lock, two deadbolts, the security chain and electronic alarm system. No normal human would be capable of doing so, at least not that quickly and without drawing her attention before now. They've found us, she thought grimly, time for me to go into action.

Jumping up, Liz turned to warn Michael but found him already looking at her quizzically. His head was cocked to the side and confusion was clouding his usually alert eyes. So he had heard it, too. Their earlier assumptions had been correct, he was going to be inheriting some of her abilities. She wished that they had time to discuss it now, but it would have to wait until later; an enemy was among them.

Motioning to Michael to remain in the dining room, she swung a fleeting glance to where Alex sat at his desk; he was still chatting animatedly on the phone, oblivious to the potential threat. She'd let him stay unaware for the moment, Michael would protect him and perhaps he would unwittingly serve as a distraction. If he was talking on the phone the intruder wouldn't know that their presence had been sensed, right?

Footsteps crept slowly up the staircase; they would have been imperceptible if it had not been for her excellent sense of hearing. Casting another look at Michael to make sure that he understood his role, Liz noiselessly climbed to her feet grabbing one of the knives she had been sharpening. Stealthily, she crept to the entrance to await her prey.

As the intruder reached the landing, Liz flicked off the light in the stairwell sending the room into inky darkness. Before the person could react, she rushed out blindly acting on instinct and relying on her night vision and other heightened senses.

In the dark of the entryway, she lashed out with her right foot landing a flying roundhouse to the prowler's face. The blow stunned the trespasser and knocked them to their knees gasping for air. The person's right arm moved upwards in an attempt at defense but they weren't quick enough for Liz's catlike reflexes. Lightening fast, she grabbed the extended arm and wrenched it painfully behind their back.

Wasting no more time, Liz hefted her blade and, ever so carefully, placed it against the intruder's neck. The person stopped moving immediately and she used the slight reprieve to examine the apartment for co-conspirators. Utilizing her enhanced sight and hearing she studied the area and found no other companions. Strange, she thought, why would Manticore only send one assassin after us?

Deciding that she would puzzle over it later, Liz jerked her prisoner to an upright position and began to march them into the dining room. The person was trembling slightly, a fact that Liz could not easily dismiss. Anyone that would be attacking us would know beforehand what he or she was getting in to, so why were they scared? Soldiers showed no emotions; at least that's what I was taught at Manticore. Ah, she thought, maybe they're not from Manticore.

Solemnly, Liz flipped the light back on only to be greeted by a couple of less than expected reactions; Michael's jaw dropped down to his chest immediately and Alex released the phone to the floor. Obviously, they were both in shock. Who have I captured?

posted on 31-Oct-2002 3:40:43 PM
Part XXVII - Questions Anyone?

With her rush of adrenaline finally dying down, Liz took a moment to study the prisoner. They had a distinctly feminine form, not so surprising; I am, after all, a girl. Reasonably tall, again that was not all that shocking. Soldiers came in all shapes and forms, didn't they? Long blond hair pulled into a ponytail; hmmm. Black leather pants, bright pink top and large dangly earrings; kind of flashy, not exactly what I would have chosen to break into someone's apartment. It was the smell that gave her pause, however, it was familiar; she knew it from somewhere, it was a unique combination of jasmine, lavender and something else.

Curious as to the identity of her prisoner, Liz retained a firm grip on her blade and used her other hand to grab the captive's shoulders and spin her around. Standing before her, sporting a rapidly darkening bruise on her right cheek was one Isabel Evans and she looked terrified.

Quickly, Liz dropped the knife from Isabel's neck and threw it to the floor. She wasn't a danger to them; at least she hadn't been in the past. I guess I’ve blown my cover now. We'll just see how she reacts to our operation once she's gotten over her fear and astonishment, Liz thought somewhat amusedly.

As the blade hit the carpet, Alex and Michael let out a joined sigh of relief before hurrying over to Isabel's side. The woman scorned Alex's attention and grabbed Michael's arm possessively letting him guide her to a chair. Clinging to what she knows, can't say that I blame her, Liz thought. Alex cast a hurt look towards her then dropped down beside Isabel placing a comforting arm around her shoulders. After a moment's hesitation, she leaned into it, relaxing significantly. Well, at least I didn't screw up too much for him, looks like she'll let him work it out.

"What the hell were you thinking, Liz?" Alex shouted glaring at her. Sure, almost kill his girlfriend and he gets defensive.

Giving him a pointed look, Liz stated coolly, "How was I supposed to know that your girlfriend would be sneaking up here? We can't be too careful, it could have been anyone."

"At least we know that we're prepared now," Michael said smirking and giving her a sympathetic look. Have I mentioned how much I love that guy? Liz thought. She should have known that he wouldn't be angry with her, he would have done the same thing; act first, ask questions later.

Turning to Isabel, Liz dropped to her knees to look into the frightened woman's eyes. "Isabel, I'm really sorry. I've been a little high-strung lately and wasn't quite expecting you to come barging into my home unannounced."

"I...I just wanted surprise Alex," she stuttered. "I haven't seen him since yesterday because he's been so busy. I wanted to see what he had been up to..."

Isabel's voice trailed off and Liz noted that she was taking in the room and it's present condition. The lack of typical dining room furnishings, the large computer terminal and a sizable cluttering of papers indicated that they weren't up to anything ordinary.

Having no idea as to what to say to Isabel, Liz remained silent. The alien was sure to have questions and she would answer them when they came but how exactly do you start a conversation like this one? Liz knew that she should be upset about the predicament but inwardly she sighed happily. There would be one less person to hide from, one more person that could see the real her.

Overcoming her earlier fear and trepidation, Isabel suddenly shouted in irritation, "What in the name of Antar is going on here?" Determinedly, she shook off Alex's embrace and stood to stare Michael fully in the eyes. Probably thinks that it's related to aliens, Liz thought; she's about to get one hell of a shock. "And how in the hell was Liz able to best me in a fight? I'm an alien for crying out loud and she’s a human and a tiny one at that."


Part XXVIII - It's What I Am

Michael turned and gave Liz a questioning look; it was her decision to make. She shrugged and indicated that it didn't matter, taking that as his queue, he turned back towards his sister. Smirking he asked, "So, do you want the long or short version?"

Isabel's mouth opened to retaliate but it was Alex's voice that broke through the mounting tension. "Stop joking around, Michael," he growled out then turned to his sister. "Liz, I know you're going to tell her so stop stalling and get on with it. I'm not in the mood for either one of your antics and I'm sure Isabel isn't either." Done with his interruption, Alex sat back on his heels stiffly but not before giving both Liz and Michael mutinous glares. Michael noticed Isabel give Alex an appreciative glance before she, too, sat back down in the chair glaring at him and Liz.

Placing a comforting hand on Liz's arm, Michael gave her an encouraging squeeze and a quick kiss to the temple. "Go ahead," he whispered. "You've been wanting to tell her this for a while now."

Nodding slightly at his comment, Liz squatted down in front of Isabel and grasped both of her hands with her own. Her emotions were ranging wildly in the back of his mind but mostly he caught waves of relief, happiness accompanied by an overall wariness. He understood how she felt; one less person to lie to, one more person that would know the real person behind the Liz mask but how would she react.

"Before I start with my explanations," he heard Liz state, "I want to apologize. I would have told you earlier, actually I wanted to tell you,” she said with a grimace, “but I couldn't. You and your family have done so much for me and although I haven't lied to you, I haven't been completely honest."

"Honest about what?" Isabel asked confusedly. "This isn't alien related?"

"Far from it, Izzy," Alex spoke up softly rubbing her back. "Just listen to what she has to say."

"Like I said before, I couldn't be honest with you. I was not allowed for various reasons but mainly because telling my secret puts other lives in danger. I'm sure that you can appreciate that."

Michael watched Isabel nod distractedly at Liz's statement; he knew that she comprehended the importance of what Liz was about to tell her. Slowly, understanding began to replace the anger and confusion in Isabel's expression. "Go on."

Hearing Liz take a deep, calming breath, he sent all the love and compassion that he could muster through their link. Michael wanted her to be aware that he was with her every step of the way. A silent partner that would stand in the shadows and help whenever she needed him.

Liz sighed gratefully then turned her back to Isabel. Reaching up to her neck, Michael pushed her hair gently aside and exposed the identifying bar code to Isabel. Her hands reached out impulsively and brushed the tattoo lightly, a soft gasp releasing from her lips. "What is it?"

"I was not born Liz Parker, that much you already know. She, however, does not exist, never has." Liz rotated her body back to facing Isabel. "The tattoo on my neck is my name, more accurately, my designation. I was introduced into this world as X5-456, self-given title, Ash. I am the result of years of genetic manipulation and recombination."

She paused long enough in her dissertation to make sure that she still had Isabel's attention then continued. "It was determined that if scientists could get the right DNA soup, they would be able to create the most highly evolved species on this planet. Fortunately for you, Michael, Max and Tess, they are unaware of your existence or would have used your genetic material in the process.'

"Anyway, the scientists succeeded with their experiments resulting in me and my family. They termed us super soldiers, if you will. It was thought that instead of sending ten or twenty men into combat they would be able to send only one having the same results."

Watching amusedly, Michael observed Isabel's mouth form a silent 'O' at Liz's well-placed words. "As honorable as those intentions may sound, it was not the life that we wanted. We were just children but we knew of our importance and the fact that, to them, we were only objects, weapons." Liz paused to let the information sink in. "About ten years ago my family and I escaped. Somehow, I made it to Roswell, New Mexico and have been in hiding ever since under the guise of Alex Parker's sister."

Liz finished and rocked back on her heals; all they had to do now was wait for Isabel's reaction. Michael wasn't certain as to what her response would be but was pretty sure that it would be a positive one. Several minutes passed by before Isabel's look of stunned disbelief changed to one of sympathy and recognition. They waited with bated breath for her first words.

"Michael was right," she stated confidently. "You do have more in common with us then we could ever know. How long has he known, Liz? Or would you rather I call you Ash?"

Placing his hands on his girlfriend's shoulders, he stated, "Since this May."

"And you can call me Liz. Ash is a part of me that, hopefully, I'll be able to leave behind soon." Liz inclined her head and grinned up at Michael. Warmth spread through his body. Everything was going to be all right.

"And Alex, is he like you?" Isabel asked curiously.

"Nope, I'm just a regular old human, nothing exciting about me and my physiology."

"Oh, I wouldn't say that," Isabel mumbled. Speaking louder, she said, "How long have you known about Liz?"

"Since about six months after she came to live with us," he replied. "Although I was pretty suspicious before that point, she walloped me pretty good the first time we met."

"Oh, come on. Haven't you gotten over that yet?" Liz teased. "All I did was try to get you to leave me alone. He wouldn't take no for an answer, Iz."

"Believe me," she said, "I know how stubborn he can be. How do you think that he finally convinced me to go out on a date with him?"

"Hey ladies," Alex said feigning hurt, "I'm still in the room."

"Like I could ever forget about you," Isabel said grinning. "Anyway, we're getting off topic. How did you find out, Michael?"

Now that was a story he liked to tell. Rubbing his hands in anticipation, Michael prepared to start his tale but was interrupted by Liz. "I'm afraid that story is going to have to wait till another day. Right now, we really don't have the time for reminiscing. Zack, my brother, should be phoning soon and we've got some things to do before then."

posted on 13-Nov-2002 6:36:40 PM
Part XXIX - Expanding Ranks

At Liz's mention of Zack, Michael and Alex grunted dishearteningly before returning to their previous tasks, reviewing the projected plans and divvying computer responsibilities. Leaning over, Liz began collecting the weapons she had scattered on the floor earlier all the while keeping an eye on Isabel.

Placing the knives back to the appropriate shelves in the china hutch, Liz turned to see Isabel stand up and approach her. Together they gathered the remaining pistols and returned them to the cabinet in silence. Finishing quickly, Liz let Isabel break their comfortable solitude. "I guess being a super soldier explains the knife throwing, the curious word slip-ups and why you were able to drive your fist through a steel bathroom stall," she stated grinning.

Michael's head jerked up at the last item on Isabel's list. He narrowed his eyes accusingly at the statement but remained silent. Good boy, she thought, he's knows that I'm not in the mood for a lecture right now. "So, can I say, from the smile on your face, that you're not angry with me?"

"Honestly," she replied, "I'm a little miffed but if anyone can comprehend where you're coming from, it's me. I can't hold your need for privacy against you, the same thing has saved me from exposure a number of times."

"Thank you for being so great about all of this; I was afraid that you would resent me because of it."

"Hey, don't even think about it. Did you really believe that I wouldn’t understand or that I’d go running out of your apartment screaming my head off? Give me some credit," she said smiling brightly, "not all that much shakes me anymore. I knew there had to be something special about you, why else would Michael be so smitten?"

Liz couldn't help but return Isabel's grin; it was contagious. I guess with everything that has happened in her life, my news really isn't all that out of the ordinary.

"Now," Isabel said changing the topic, "You'll have to let me know what other things you can do, you know besides whip my sorry ass. Maybe you can even give me some pointers, I mean, I can't rely on my alien prowess all the time, right?"

"You betcha. I'll enroll you in Parker's Military Training Academy immediately." Alex groaned loudly in the background. "Do you have a problem with that?"

"Nope, no problem," he gulped. "I'm just not sure Iz knows what she' getting herself into."

"Don't listen to him, Isabel," she stated smirking. "He's just upset because even though he's a whiz at Quake it doesn't translate over into everyday life." Alex scowled at Liz and Isabel looked slightly confused, only Michael bellowed loudly at the comment, at least one person appreciated her humor.

"Ok, I think we should stop picking on Alex," Isabel stated, "sometimes it's just a little too easy." Alex redirected his glare. "What are you guys doing? And what's up with that big map?"

Before answering, Liz led Isabel over to the table in the center of the room, eyeing her uncertainly. "The map is part of the project that we've been working on with my family all summer."

"Project?" Isabel commented amusedly. "From the looks of it, I would say that you're planning a mass takeover of a high-security government facility." She looked up to Michael and Liz's faces to be greeted with dead seriousness, the gaiety drained out of her features. "Please tell me that's not what this is. Please."

"We can't do that," Liz heard Michael say. Good, she thought, he not going to deny it or skirt the issue.

Isabel turned a worried frown to Liz. "Do you want me to lie to you, Izzy? I will but only if it will make you feel better."

"Why are you doing this?" she asked hesitantly, almost as if she feared the answer.

"We're destroying Manticore," Michael replied stiffly. "They are the people that created Liz and her siblings. They've decimated and shattered enough lives with their existence, it's time that they were gone."

"Look at that map over there, Isabel," Alex said speaking up and gesturing with his hand. "Notice that green pin near Lubbock, Texas, all the rest of them red. That pin indicates the last site, after it's gone, Liz won't have to live in fear for her life anymore. She'll be able to have what you've always wanted, a normal life."

With Alex's heartfelt words, all of the indecision disappeared out of Isabel's eyes leaving behind a fierce determination that Liz recognized all too well. "Tell me what I can do to help," she said, her eyes flashing.

"Are you sure about this?" Liz asked smoothly. "When I told you about me, I had no intention of dragging you into my mess."

"I'm positive," she replied. "I'll do anything for my friends."

"Welcome aboard," Liz said grinning.

"What about Zack?" Alex and Michael asked simultaneously.

"Let me worry about my brother. He's hardly in the position to pass up free help, we're going to need all the aid we can get if the reports are half as bad as he alluded."

"I would second guess you," Michael said smirking at her, "but I'm well aware that you know what you're getting into, Liz."

"I can handle my brother. So, now that that's settled, is there anything that you need to know, Isabel?"

"There aren't any more secrets?"

"Well..." Liz and Michael replied drawing the word out.

"What is it?" Isabel asked dejectedly.


Part XXX - Alien Information

Looking towards Liz, Michael searched for a sign that it was okay to reveal their new, and very alien, connection. Seeing her nod in consent, he grabbed the hem of his T-shirt and jerked it up and over his head distantly aware that Liz was mimicking his movements.

"Whoa!" Isabel shrieked excitedly while quickly averting her eyes. She looked towards Alex for answers but he remained silent, merely averting his eyes. "Alex, stop them. Michael, Liz, what the hell do you think you're doing? I'm aware that you have a sex drive that would rival the entire crew of a naval battleship but come on..."

Michael smirked as Isabel's voice trailed off; her sudden intake of breath made it was apparent that she had seen the reason behind their removal of clothing. Reaching out to a topless Liz, he motioned for her to come closer then wrapped his right arm around her. With his other hand, he pushed the strap of her satiny bra aside fully exposing the tattoo above her left breast. Delicately, Michael skimmed the tattoo with his thumb causing it to light up and Liz to tremble in his arms.

A loud gasp rushed out of Isabel's throat in surprise. "What are they?" she asked glancing quickly between the two standing before her.

"I think you know what they are and what they mean, Is," Michael said softly brushing a kiss across the top of Liz's head. The brief touch had set his simmering desire into overdrive and it was all he could do not to pull Liz into the closest room.

"You're right, I do know," she replied confusedly then muttered the same words that they had spoken that night. "Duk ammon. Sig kuna di ammana. You've bonded with Liz. It means that you've found your perfect match and chosen your mate. You're linked together for the rest of your lives." Isabel's eyebrows scrunched together in frustration. "But how did I know that?"

"Instinct, memory, call it what you will but it doesn't change what it is, or what it means."

A huge grin spread across Isabel's face and she reached out enveloping both Michael and Liz into a hug. "I knew that you two were good for each other but I had no idea that this was possible. I'm so happy for the both of you to have found each other." Isabel pulled away slowly, casting a quick glance in Alex's direction. Murmuring quietly to herself, she said, "It gives me hope for the future."

If it hadn't been for the acute hearing he had inherited from Liz's side of the connection, Michael didn't think that he would have heard Isabel's words; she’s spoken them so quietly. Smirking knowingly, he cast his own look towards Alex and received a glare from Isabel at his efforts. So Liz was right in her assumptions about their relationship, there was definitely something more serious going on then just a casual fling.

The phone rang, distracting Michael from his musings on Isabel and Alex's relationship. Liz answered it before the bell stopped ringing and brought the receiver up to her ear. Sitting down in a chair, he leaned back to listen to her side of the conversation. "Hello?"

"Yes, we've been busy. Michael is patiently waiting for the new scouting reports. Alex has been talking on the phone to Logan all day. I've been checking over the weapons stash and gathering the materials to build the incendiaries."

"Why would I start lying to you now?"

"Yeah, yeah. I don't think that I would have been much of a conversationalist yesterday any how."

"I went in to heat, if you must know," she stated angrily.

"That's besides the point, anyway the effects are wearing off. Michael has done a lot to help me out." Liz winked at him and he stifled a groan. Did she really have to talk to Zack about her sex life?

"No, I'm not pregnant." Michael choked on his tongue and started sputtering. Alex grinned widely and pounded him on the back; Isabel just sat back and smirked. Really, he thought glaring at his sister and roommate, did Zack have to go there?

Michael was still slightly irritated with himself for not using protection the other night and Liz was constantly trying to assuage his guilt. It had taken lots of prodding on her part and a thorough scan of his girlfriend’s body on his to convince Michael that she was not with child. A fact that had greatly relieved them and had prompted Liz to send Alex out for an economy-sized box of contraceptives. It was a task that Liz’s brother was still grumbling about.

Tuning back to the phone conversation, Michael heard Liz say, "Do we have to talk about this now?"

"Yes, I'll have all the devices ready to go by next Wednesday. I haven't failed you yet and I don't intend to start now. This is important to me too."

"We have another addition to the team." Liz jerked the phone back from her ear quickly. Zack's cursing could be heard very clearly and Michael had to bite back a laugh.

"It's Isabel Evans."

"Yes, the alien." Liz rolled her eyes dramatically and grinned over at Isabel.

"Don't worry, she won't be going in with us. I'm posting her at the van with Logan and Alex, they can always use the extra set of eyes."

"Zack, she wants to help and I'm not going to turn her away. She knows what our lives have been like for the last ten years."

"Yes, I told her, after I almost killed her."

"No, I don't want to argue with you. She won't get in the way and if I find her not to be an asset we'll definitely leave her behind." While she was talking, Liz shook her head at Isabel indicating that she wasn't serious.

"I was right about Michael, wasn't I?"

"What Zack is speechless? I never thought I'd live to see the day."

"Oh, all right," she said dropping the phone to her chest. "Michael, Zack wants to speak with you."

Shaking in mirth, Michael grabbed the phone out of her hands and gave Liz a light kiss. Into the receiver, he said, "I told you that sitting around was getting to her, Zack; she's been getting vicious with her commentary. Not to mention the fact that she's in heat."

"Don't start with me, Michael," he replied. "I just got enough shit from Ash. I wanted to give you the field reports."

"All right," he said grabbing a pen and paper. "I'm ready."

"The perimeter is sealed tight, guards at every fifty yards. All the sniper towers are filled. The only trucks that have been going in contain cargo, food and munitions from what we've been able to see. No one visits and no one leaves. It looks like they're planning for a siege, which means that we won't be able to postpone the date. We can go no later then next Wednesday."

"Any word on Lydecker or the X7's?"

"We know that they are there, but so far they've kept a tight lid on them. Our preliminary reports indicate that a full unit is there so we’ll go with that. I'd rather overestimate the size of their force then underestimate it."

"Is that all you have for me?"

"Yeah. I know it's not much, but I'll keep you posted."

"From the looks of it, I won't be altering the plan too much. We don't really have any more information then we did before although we'll have to take out the snipers before we enter."

"Do whatever you have to, but let me know. I'll call again Saturday. And Michael?"


"Get Ash to relax, she sounded a little high strung earlier." With his last words, Zack hung up the phone without saying goodbye.

"Well?" Alex asked raising his eyebrows.

"Looks like the plan is still on for Wednesday. We'll just have to make sure that Isabel's ready to go by then."

posted on 13-Nov-2002 6:38:24 PM
Part XXXI - Parker's Academy for Military Training

Standing alone on the hot desert plain, Liz squinted at the horizon watching as the heat rose off the ground in waves. She might be some sort of super entity but it was still damn hot outside. Ah, nothing like August's in New Mexico, she thought grumpily.

Sensing movement behind her, Liz spun to address the three people that were waiting for orders, Michael, Isabel and Alex. Today, they would start conditioning Isabel. Later, she and Michael were going to experiment with the physical aspects of the bonding ceremony, find his limitations and so forth.

"Okay, troops, it's time to get to work," she said taking on a serious tone of voice. Standing at attention with her arms crossed behind her back, Liz continued, "We have a lot to do today and I want no horsing around."

Liz focused her gaze on Isabel and caught her smiling slightly. "Something funny, soldier?" she shouted retreating into drill sergeant mode. Alex took a quick step away from his girlfriend and Liz fought back a grin at his reaction. He knew that she was a bear during training and had taken the brunt of some of her tirades. But this was real life and she couldn't afford to be soft or lenient, even if she was dealing with her family.

The grin dissipated from Isabel's face and she shook her head timidly. "Now let's get one thing straight before we get started." Liz looked at each person in turn daring him or her to interrupt. "What we will be dealing with in the near future requires strong mental and physical discipline. One wrong move next Wednesday may cost the life of someone that I care about so you'll have to excuse me if I take my position a little bit seriously."

"Now, Isabel," she said stopping before the woman and speaking in a softer tone. "I realize you're new to this and it will take a little getting used to but just be happy that you're getting me and not Zack." Out of the corner of her eye, Liz could see Michael and Alex nodding enthusiastically in agreement. Cheeky bastards, she thought amusedly.

"Now, from what Michael has told me, you have no munitions experience and we'll work on that tomorrow." Isabel opened her mouth to protest but Liz interrupted her. "It is necessary, especially since you don't have any offensive skills of an alien nature. Michael and Alex both carry, too, so you won't be alone.'

"I don't mean to offend you, but from what I observed in my attack last night, you're not too adept at defending yourself physically either."

The woman in question scowled. "Are you just going to pick on me today? I'm sorry that I've been trying to live a normal human existence for almost eleven years."

"I'm not picking on you, just making observations. Giving you an advance warning as to what we'll be concentrating on. The defensive skills will come in time and I'm not overly worried about you learning them immediately. I do, however, want you to be comfortable with some basic techniques before next week. You won't be joining us inside the facility but will be staying near the van with Alex and Logan keeping watch. We don't anticipate trouble but I'm sure that we'll draw some, we always have in the past.'

"Anyway, you'll be an extra set of eyes and ears so that they will be able to concentrate on what's going on inside the compound. The better trained you are, the more efficient you'll be. Understand?"

"Yes, sir," Isabel said frowning slightly. With her ice princess facade cast away for the time being, Liz could tell that Isabel was worried about being a disappointment. Quickly, she moved to reassure her and reduce the pressure. So much for being a cast iron bitch, Liz thought facetiously.

"Now that's the spirit. And don't concern yourself with trying to learn everything too fast, I'd rather you be confident with a few moves then so-so with fifty." Isabel gave her a grateful look and Liz let a smile emerge on her face. "If you're half as quick at learning as Michael is, I'm sure you'll do just fine."

Liz stepped back from her audience and clasped her hands behind her back. "Ok, Isabel, I want you to observe only for this first lesson, so go stand over to the side with Alex. Michael and I tend to get a little rough during practice and I don't want to unintentionally hurt you." Smirking at Michael, she motioned him closer with her hands and prepared to battle.


Part XXXII - Face Off

Stripping down to her sports bra and stretchy workout pants, Liz gulped a drink of water then waited for Michael to get ready. He, too, had dressed for the heat and lost his shirt; now, he was clad only in a pair of nylon biking shorts and running shoes. Yummy, she thought distractedly. Catching his mutual appreciation of her body, she smirked slightly then let her mind empty, focusing only on the task at hand.

Michael had not uttered a word since the group had arrived at the quarry almost half an hour ago; Liz guessed that he was using the time to plan his course of action. Although he didn't take it personally anymore, he really didn't like to lose a sparring match to her, that much she knew. Each trip out to the desert, he tried some new technique and combination; the creativity and adaptability that he demonstrated still amazed her.

Despite his commitment, however, Michael was still no match for an X5; she wound up kicking his ass about nine times out of ten. But his determination and enthusiasm awed her; it was a testament to his dedication and willingness to learn. Maybe, just maybe, the traits I passed along to him through our bond will even things up a little bit. He'd like that, she thought wryly.

Locking eyes with her opponent, she braced herself for the assault. With Isabel and Alex watching on in obvious interest, Michael and Liz began to circle each other warily. A determined light filled his eyes and she caught a slight smirk on his lips before he launched his offensive.

Feigning a right jab then a left cross, Michael backed off slightly before repeating the punches. The repetitive motions were hard and fast, the first striking Liz's chin and the second narrowly missing her right cheek as she ducked out of the way. Quickly, she countered with a sharp kick to his shin then a hook to his stomach.

Momentarily, Michael dropped to his knees but was up again before Liz could continue with her assault. Reinitiating his attack, he proceeded to throw well-aimed punches and kicks at her head and torso. The swings were fast and possessed more discipline then she had ever seen him demonstrate, even so, she still managed to block and avoid a majority of the strikes by weaving her body to and fro.

Remaining on the defensive, Liz took several steps back making a circuit around Michael. The current route was getting them nowhere, their skills were pretty evenly matched and they were each anticipating the other's moves. Silently, she marveled at her discovery, due to the bond, they were acquiring skills that neither would be able to develop naturally: Liz, alien voodoo, and Michael, agility and strength with precision, accuracy and control. Humorously, she raised an eyebrow at him in which he replied by shrugging; right, they'd talk about it later.

Shifting tactics, Liz went on the offensive for the first time that morning. Foregoing the traditional exchange of blows, she opted to use brute force. With her exceptional speed, she launched her body in Michael's direction planting her shoulder in his chest and knocking him to the ground. Rolling head over heels, Liz came out on the bottom where she drew her legs up to her chest tightly. Quickly, she released her coiled muscles and sent Michael flying through the air to collide with an accommodating rock wall.

Again, Michael was up and moving within seconds giving Liz no time to continue with her attack. Reacting on impulse, she pivoted with her right leg and brought her left foot up quickly. The foot hit the desired target, connecting with his chest and knocking him to the desert floor. Recovering immediately, he managed to roll away from Liz's next attack and land in a squatting position. Kicking his right leg out, Michael swept her feet out from underneath her body.

Manipulating the momentum of her body for her own benefit, Liz bent her torso and planted her hands into the sandy soil. Doing a series of back flips, she escaped Michael's next moves and gave herself a moment to rethink her approach. With her enhanced hearing, she heard him coming up behind her very rapidly. Course of action decided in her mind, she waited for his attack.

Sensing that Michael was within a foot of reaching her, Liz ran forward and up an adjacent stone wall flipping overtop of his head. Landing directly behind her assailant, she kicked him hard in the knee hearing a distinct snap. Pain popped up in their connection, damn, she thought. Regretfully, she gripped him in a headlock and forced him against the jagged cliff. He squirmed and twisted in her arms, elbowing her mercilessly in the sides, still she refused to relinquish her hold.

Liz silently begged for him stop resisting, she had broken something in his body and knew that he was in pain. Stupid male alien pride, she thought irritatingly, just accept that you lost again.

Her wish was granted as a dejected Michael ceased all movement. "All right," he mumbled breathlessly. "Uncle."

Retaining her grip, Liz replied matter-of-factly, "Now we both know that's not the password, Michael."

The reply was a long, drawn-out sigh and some grumbled obscenities. "Damn it, woman," he growled. "Can't you see that I'm hurt? Won't you just let it pass this once?"

Smirking, she tightened her grasp and said, "What do you think?"

"Okay, okay," he said in a nasally voice. "I'm your bitch."

"Got that straight," she said smugly lying him gently down on the ground and propping his back against jutting rock. "Now how's that knee?"

posted on 13-Nov-2002 6:39:31 PM
Part XXXIII - Sharing the Power

"I think you tore some tendons and dislocated it," Michael said gritting through his teeth at the pain. "Care to fix it?" Liz gave him an incredulous look and he nodded to her encouragingly. "We need to see what you can do." Her expression didn't alter so he continued, "Don't worry, I'll help you every step of the way."

Wordlessly, Liz sank down beside his body and placed her palms over his damaged knee. When forming a connection with her, Michael was faintly aware of Isabel and Alex approaching, asking if they needed any help. Distantly, he heard himself answer, "No." Already, he was deep within Liz's mind, losing himself once again in the woman he loved.

Michael thought that he might be rushing Liz with his request, but they needed to know their limitations. All the alien powers were brand new to her and he wanted to see if she would be able to control them and exactly how strong she might be. He figured there was no better time then the present to try out her healing capabilities.

Feeling energy begin to pool inside Liz, Michael took over the connection, mentally shoving her in the right direction. When she finally concentrated the energy into his knee, he felt intense warmth spread out from the tattoo on his chest, knowing intuitively that it was glowing brightly with a silvery blue sheen. Liz's hands started to emit a soft white glow of their own which grew to encompass his rapidly swelling kneecap. The energy continued to flow until all the muscles and tendons had re-knit and aligned themselves properly.

As Liz was finishing the doctoring, Michael realized that she was panting heavily and shaking slightly. With a final shudder, she broke their connection and collapsed on top of his legs, her head falling limply into his lap. "All better?" she asked breathlessly.

"Yeah, Liz. I'm all better now, thanks to you." Tenderly, he brushed a few stray hairs out of her face and whispered in her ear, "Hey, just relax for a little bit, healing takes a lot out of you especially when you're just starting out."

Liz's eyes slid shut immediately, succumbing to the exhaustion. Michael raised his eyebrows in surprise; he hadn't thought that she would give in so easily. Manticore had taught her that sleep was vulnerability and it was a concept she still honored. Even after their intense training workouts, she rarely needed more then a brief nap before she was ready to go for another forty-eight hours. Softly, he stroked her hair; she must have really overdone it.

As he listened to Liz's breaths evening out, Michael was rudely reminded that they were not the only two present. "What the hell just happened here?" Isabel shouted angrily. Alex placed a restraining hand on her shoulder and motioned for her to calm down, but she continued her tirade. "I know that you said Liz was a super soldier but the skills she listed were enhanced physical attributes. I don't recall anything metaphysical in that inventory."

"Iz," Michael replied in irritation. "You're right, it's not one of her natural abilities. What you witnessed is due to the bonding. It seems that we have inherited each other's specialized abilities."

That was obviously not the answer that Isabel had been expecting. Her jaw dropped low forming a silent 'O' and her eyebrows knit together in confusion. Suddenly her jaw clamped shut with an audible click as she seemed to clue into what he was relating. "What do you mean 'we'?"

Sitting up straighter, Michael pulled Liz close to his chest before answering. "So far, I've picked up her enhanced hearing, smell and sight." He took a moment to glance at Alex who was soothingly rubbing Isabel's back. Probably a good thing that he's here to run interference, Michael thought, she’s going to be upset that we kept all of this from her.

"Is that all?"

"Well, we'll have to wait until Liz wakes up to see, but if I'm right, I've also acquired her faster reflexes and strength. Normally, I can't hold myself for as long as I did today in a head-on battle with her. Right, Alex?"

"Yeah, I agree and I'm sure Liz will too. You were both pretty kick ass today, it was like watching a dance," Alex replied in wonder.

Noticing the strange look on Isabel's face, Michael gently prodded, "Iz, what is it?"

"Are you going to tell Max about this?"

"I hadn't planned on it," he sneered, instantly becoming upset. "Just because he is my king doesn't mean that I have to tell him every aspect of my life. He'll just use the bond as an excuse to yell at me and curse Liz some more. Until he responds in a mature and positive matter to her, he has no need to know the depth of our relationship."

Isabel moved to interrupt his tirade but Michael stopped her with an impatient wave of his hand. "Max still believes that we won't last, that I'm, what did he say, sowing my wild oats, or some such nonsense. He's being pig-headed and this won't do anything to change his mind. In fact, it will probably just infuriate him all the more."

"I think you're wrong, Michael," Isabel said in defense of her brother. "Max is more accepting then you think he is, he's just suffering a lapse in clarity and letting himself be influenced by Tess's overwhelming hatred."

"Think what you will, Isabel," Michael snorted disdainfully, "but I'm not telling him." Looking at her pointedly and with venom in his voice he continued, "And neither are you."

A murderous expression emerged on Isabel's face and her eyes narrowed into slits, "I have never betrayed you, Michael, and I don't intend to start now." Turning on her heel sharply, she marched away from them and into the desert.

Casting a reproachful glance at Michael, Alex hurried off after Isabel calling over his shoulder, "Take care of Liz, I'll go get your sister."


Part XXXIV - Coming to an Understanding

As Michael listened to Isabel and Alex's hushed conversation in the distance, he silently blessed his new hearing capacity. How had he ever thought that Liz couldn't hear him? He'd been such a fool but she had humored him each and every time that he thought he was surprising her. Michael smiled at finding a new depth to the woman that he loved.

Honing in on the distant sounds of his sister and her boyfriend, he heard Alex speaking. "Stop, Isabel, please. Michael didn't mean anything with his words, he and Liz are just a touchy subject around you and your family."

"All right, I'm listening, Alex. State your case and be quick about it." Michael fought back a laugh at Isabel's petulant voice; he hoped Alex knew what he was getting into.

"Isabel, Michael has been angry and disappointed with you, Max and Tess for a long time now. Every time that one of you insulted or abused Liz, his ire and defensiveness got stronger."

"That's no excuse to doubt my loyalty. I'm trying to atone for my indiscretions, not make more of them. I would never betray his trust to anyone, including my brother." Michael could just imagine Isabel’s stance; arms crossed over her chest, right foot thumping rapidly against the ground and her lip stuck out in a pout. Her anger had stopped him a few times and he found renewed respect in Alex Parker, maybe he was strong enough to be with Isabel after all.

Alex offered up a heavy sigh before responding. "Isabel," he said in chastisement, "stop acting like a child. Granted Michael could've been a bit more polite but we both know he tells it like he sees it, no beating around the bush with him. And besides, how was he supposed to know how you would react?" Alex paused briefly in his dissertation. "You've been happy with their relationship for how long now? A week?"

"Two weeks," Isabel interjected meekly.

"It doesn't matter how long, Izzy. He's barely had enough time to come to grips with your sudden acceptance and I know that they are both trying to get past your condemnation and doubt. You really hurt him so don't expect him to take you back with open arms. Besides, we are both aware that Michael, even though he's loosened up somewhat in the past couple of months, is always suspicious, almost paranoid half of the time." Humph, Michael thought grumpily, paranoid my ass.

"But I..."

"No," Alex stated forcefully. "Stop feeling sorry for yourself. You know that he loves you and will always be there for you no matter what. He once thought the same of you and, even if you don't think that you did, you betrayed him. Cut him some slack, Isabel, it's the least you could do after the way you treated him and Liz the entire summer."

Michael heard a whispered, "Ok," then gentle sobbing. Deciding that he no longer needed to eavesdrop, he quit listening and turned his attention to the longhaired beauty in his arms.

Twining his fingers through the dark locks, Michael inhaled deeply and tried to relax, jumping slightly when he heard Liz speak. "Alex is right, you know. You could've been a little nicer to your sister. She's trying at least."

Frowning at her admonishment, Michael thought about his choice of words. Sighing, he admitted to himself that he might have been a little too harsh. "I guess that I snapped. There's just been too little trust for too long and I couldn't hold back." Taking a deep breath, Michael then continued, "I am sorry and I would like to say that it will never happen again but I can't make that promise."

"I don't expect you to promise me that, if you did I'd have to kick your ass again." Michael looked at Liz amusedly where she lay on his lap. "Your expressiveness is one of the things that I love most about you."

"One of the things?" he smirked.

"Does someone need their ego stroked?" she purred.

"If that's what you want to call it, then yeah, I'm in need of a good, hard 'ego' stroking right about now."

"Well, big boy," she growled seductively, "I'd like to accommodate you but we've still got to teach Iz some self-defense techniques before we can call it quits for the night. That is, of course, if she hasn't changed her mind."

"She'll be back," Michael said confidently. "Isabel's not a quitter and she really wants to make it up to us for her behavior all summer. If I might ask, why did you forgive and let her in so easily?"

Liz paused a moment before answering his question and her eyebrows wrinkled in thought. “She’s your family, Michael,” she stated. “Isabel loves you and wants you to be happy; she genuinely wants to be included in your life and has accepted that I’m going to play a part in it. It took her a little while but she has finally seen that we love each other and that I would do anything for you.” She stopped and cocked her head to the side before finishing. “Besides, I’m tired of wasting my time hating her; she’s sincere, that much I’m sure.”

“I think so too but it’s still going to take a while for me to completely forgive my sister.”

“I know that and I think on some level she does too. Luckily enough for you, everyone reserves truckloads of patience when dealing with you.”

Michael scowled at her comment and turned his head away. “But you’re worth every bit of it.” He rotated his head back around to give her a sheepish look and she continued, “Now let’s round up the troops, we have some learning to be done.”

posted on 13-Nov-2002 6:40:34 PM
Part XXXV - The Days in Between

As Michael had predicted, Isabel did return and her determination to do her best and win their trust was greater then ever. She had approached the lessons with fervor and they proved to be both productive and informative. The training sessions showed that Isabel had a natural aptitude for self-defense; a fact that surprised them all, especially Isabel. Liz had been happy to find that the female alien was enjoying her training much more so then Alex and Michael ever had.

After one particularly exhausting drill, Liz and Isabel had discussed her enthusiasm to great extent. The woman had replied simply after much thought, "It's freeing. I don't have to rely on everyone else to protect me just because I'm a girl and I can do this without tapping into my alienness, it makes me more human. And even though I'm still getting used to the rudimentary skills, I'm more confident in myself, in both body and mind."

Liz had agreed whole-heartedly with her friend; Isabel was definitely changing. She was displaying a more confident attitude and had begun to laugh more often and she had only been a part of their exclusive club for a week. She fit comfortably into their fold and had found her own niche in the group, trading barbs and sarcasm with ease. Her role in the group was clearly defined; she was a confidant, a supporter, an advisor, a friend and an overall wardrobe critic. Isabel accepted it all readily, eager to be a part of the action instead of sitting on the sidelines like she had done in the past. Definitely, it was a change for the better.

To Max and Tess's displeasure, Isabel had basically relocated to Liz, Michael and Alex's apartment for the week. It had been her idea; she thought that it would be easier for her to attend the daily training exercises if she wasn't under the ever-watchful and suspicious eyes of her brother. They all had agreed without question, Liz and Michael slightly relieved at her decision and Alex more than eager to have his girlfriend as close to him as possible. Michael, however, made sure that she had her own room, as far away from the sex-deprived teen as she could get.


The seven days had passed relatively quickly and with little activity, the only actual incident involving the other half of the pod squad. The skirmish had happened after the initial announcement of Isabel's relocation and had been exclusive to Tess and Isabel. It was a short affair that left Isabel and Liz collapsing in peals of laughter to the floor after it was over.

The confrontation had started with fierce demands and insults on Tess's part and had proceeded to grow ugly when she had tried dictating her authority to the alien princess. Before Liz or Michael had to step in, however, Isabel had easily put Tess into her place and dismissed the blond from the restaurant. Perhaps Liz had been giving Isabel a bit more training then she had originally thought; it seemed that she was developing her backbone as well. Max's reaction had been unexpected; he had only raised an eyebrow in question before trailing after Tess with a slight smile on his face. Liz had decided that there might be hope for him after all.


Decked out in full gear, Michael and Liz had practiced their part of the mission repeatedly. Liz had demonstrated the mechanics of her self-built incendiaries and made certain that Michael knew the essentials before handling them. The explosives were an important part of their action in Lubbock and they couldn't afford for any 'human' error.

Together they had tested Michael and found that he did, indeed, acquire each of Liz's specialized abilities. He could jump as high and far as she could, his stamina, strength and agility were all at the same level as hers and he could hold himself much better in a fight. He didn't, however, obtain her singular connection to Max, not that they had expected him to; it was unique even to them.

Although neither one voiced the words, they were both slightly relieved at their findings; the assignment would run a lot smoother with Michael up to par with the X5's. They threw themselves into honing and developing his new abilities, preparing for the coming Wednesday. As the days flew by, Liz could not get the overwhelming feeling of approaching danger out of her mind. Something was coming and it wasn’t good. She was pretty sure that it wasn’t the upcoming mission but something to do with the day of Maria’s party.

Liz had begun to sense someone watching her every move more frequently over the past week but when she had investigated there was no one to be found. That fact did nothing to ease her mind; each passing day made her a little more tense and apprehensive. She thought that it might have been her recently overactive imagination, but it also seemed that Isabel was picking up on something out of the ordinary, too. None too quickly, it was time for them to travel into Texas, to Manticore's Lubbock holding, and finish what they had started almost four months ago. She had pushed her worry to the back of her mind; she would deal with it later, when she had more time.

posted on 3-Dec-2002 11:04:11 PM
Part XXXVI - Ready, Set, Go

"Okay, Isabel," Zack snarled menacingly. "Do you understand what you're supposed to be doing?" Michael grinned; his sister's presence was pissing off the CO and he was enjoying it slightly more then he should.

"Yes, sir," she replied sarcastically, raising her hand to her brow in mock salute. Liz really had had an influence on his sister’s attitude. "I stay at the van to watch and listen for any individuals that may be approaching. If I find anyone, I let Alex and Logan know then try to discourage the advancement."

"How?" he asked crossing his arms over his chest at the obvious defiance.

"Any way possible," she said smiling. Zack's expression didn't change so she elaborated, "Use my feminine wiles and if that doesn't work my fists, as a last resort my prowess as an otherworldly being."

Distracted momentarily while stifling a chuckle with his hand, Michael missed Zack turning his hard eyes in his direction. "What's so funny, Guerin? Got something that you want to share?"

"No, nothing at all, Zack," Michael stated regaining his earlier pose of nonchalance. There was no need to piss him off now; they had to have their minds on the moment and he didn’t want to waste his energy fighting with the CO.

"I'm just curious, but are all aliens so stubborn and insolent?" he asked in an off-handed manner.

"Well, you know what they say about curiosity, don't ya?" Michael replied, his eyes sparkling with humor. "It killed the cat."

"Ha, ha, Michael," Liz interrupted, "you're bloody fucking hilarious." Turning to Zack, she continued, "What are our assignments and when do we head out?"

"We have three groups of three and two of two, which you already know. Krit and Syl have section Alpha. Brin, Jack and Tinga have section Beta. Jondy, Zane and Jace have section Gamma. I'm pairing up with Ben and we'll be taking Delta. Ash, Max and Michael, you will be taking the last section. Everyone else is already set and I'll be joining Ben when I'm done here. You know your route and instructions. I want you positioned for entry in a half-hour, we go in at exactly one hundred hours. Mark time, 24:28:31."

Michael raised his arm and reset his watch, observing the others echo the movement. After preparing all week, he didn’t think that he could’ve been more ready to get started. The expectancy was beginning to drive him crazy and Liz wasn't helping matters at all. The hum that had been so insistent throughout the week was roaring loudly with her excitement of the impending siege. He wondered, amusedly, how she kept it all inside. On the outside she was a calm, steady, emotionless wall but inwardly she was trembling wildly with anticipation.

"Alright, I'm heading out," Zack announced. "I don't think I have to remind you about the importance of tonight, so I won't. Everyone be careful and I'll see you in two hours." Zack hopped on his motorcycle and sped off down the road trusting Michael, Liz, Max, Alex, Logan and Isabel to get moving.

"Okay, everyone, listen up," Max said, taking charge. "Alex and Logan, you have your weapons and instructions so get the van out of here and into position. Isabel, go with them, keep an eye on them. Ash, do you have her arsenal?"

"Yeah," she replied pulling open a bag. "Iz, here's the pistol that we worked with and a couple of extra clips. If someone threatens you, don't hesitate to fire but hold out until it's absolutely necessary. We don't want you to attract any undo attention which gunfire is sure to do." Isabel was already wearing the kevlar vest that Liz had fitted her with and had a short dagger strapped to her thigh. Michael knew that she was pumped and ready to go.

"Ok, guys, get out of here," Max commanded holding up two fingers. "We'll see you in two."

Michael watched the van until it disappeared in the distance; he hoped that they would be seeing them soon. It was an unspoken decision on their part not to have lengthy good-byes with their loved ones. They would be seeing them in a couple of hours so there was no need to; there it was again, he thought, that optimism. If it kept them alive, then that was all that mattered.

Slowly, Michael came to realize that Liz had calmed down tremendously. The buzz that had been raging in his head was reduced to a less distracting murmur; she was burying her feelings and slipping into her soldier's countenance. It was scary how fast the transformation had been. Using Liz as his model, he erected his own wall, blocking his widely ranging emotions. With the barrier firmly in place, he turned to his team.

"Here," Liz said handing them each a shoulder duffel. "In all three of these there are five charges, fifteen total. As we all know, we are to plant them and then get the hell out of the building. I'm confident of my skill in constructing these but, regardless, be careful. They are set for remote detonation and Zack has the controls, he will not hesitate to ignite it if we are not accounted for. We are to be out of that building before two hundred hours and we will be."

"Is everyone ready?" Michael asked, shouldering his bag and rechecking his equipment for the last time.

"Set." Liz and Max stated simultaneously. Each sported an identical facial expression and stance; they were dressed in the exact same clothes and carried like weapons. The two sisters were a force to be dealt with and Michael was glad he wouldn't be on the receiving end this time.

"Let's go," Michael said taking point and jogging towards their assigned outpost. The time had come, his final test. Did he have it in him to protect his family and friends?


Part XXXVII - It's Too Easy

"Gee, Michael, slow down," Max teased as she ran up behind him. "We don't have to go so fast and we don't want to wear out your human body before we're even inside the building."

"That's not going to be a problem, Max," he smirked. “I can take whatever you throw at me.”

"What does he mean by that, Ash?" she queried.

Stopping to scan for sentries, Liz squirmed uncomfortably before replying, "We've all been so busy this week that I haven't had time to tell you. I'll give you a more detailed report later but right now all you need to know is that we each developed the other's skills. Michael is just as adept at our Manticore engineered fighting skills as we are."

Max gave Liz a silent reprisal before speaking, "Does this have anything to do with me blacking out the other night?"

Gasping, Liz unconsciously let her emotions surge for a moment and clamped a hand to her mouth. How could she think that it wouldn't have had an effect on her sister? "I didn't realize...Shit, are you okay?"

"Just peachy," she retorted. "We'll discuss this later, I hear the first sentry approaching. Spread out, I've got this guy. Michael you go right, Ash left; take out any guards you come across then return. It's almost one and it’s time to set this game in motion."

Silently, her sister and Michael stalked off in their assigned directions and she to hers. Creeping stealthily in the region indicated by Max, Liz heard low voices chatting straight ahead. Squatting behind a tree, she listened to their conversation, picking up whatever clues she could.

"There isn't anyone coming to this place, Gentry. I don't understand why we have to patrol every night; it's a waste of time, if you ask me."

"I didn't ask you, Blake, you took it upon yourself to tell me. And it's not a waste of time; I was at one of the last sites attacked, the one over in Georgia. There was nothing left and I was one of two survivors out of a total of eighty-six stationed there. If the higher ups say that there is a threat, then there is; they wouldn't lie about something like this." Smart guy, she thought, too bad he has to die.

"Post twenty, check in," a garbled voice said from a transmitter attached to Blake's belt. Quickly, the man grabbed the walkie-talkie and edged away from Gentry. Hmm, not keeping to his post, huh, bad soldier. Liz waited until she heard him answer, "All clear in section twenty," before attacking. She dispatched the man with ease, grabbed his radio then turned in the direction of the other man.

Despite the man's earlier paranoia and boasting about being one of two survivors, he was seriously inept for his assignment. Liz pondered the curiosity while she made her way back to her designated position. She considered that the two soldiers were oddities, more like she hoped they were. Please let Max and Michael have better news, she thought.

"Ash," Max whispered into her mind when she caught up to her sister. "Something's wrong, that man was too easily taken out."

"I had the same problem and I believe Michael did, too." In fact, she knew he did. The emotions that he had so carefully blocked out earlier were raging through her head; he was extremely unhappy.

Soft footfalls approached Liz from behind and she turned towards them. Michael's exterior still held his earlier calm but his eyes were lit with a dangerous fire. "It's a trap," he said mechanically. "They knew that we would be here tonight."

Liz and Max nodded silently in agreement, nothing else needed to be said.


Part XXXVIII - Going In

"Max," Michael stated turning to the young woman, "get on the horn and let Logan know what we found out, Liz and I are going to scout to the fence and see what else is out of place."

Michael crept up to the boundary with Liz beside him; he readily scanned the area looking for any discrepancies. No, he thought, shaking his head, it can't be. The plan they had developed was rooted in the fact that they would be able to sneak up on the base without being seen. There had been lots of cover in this area and now it was gone. Using his new telescoping vision, he could see every identifier in the five hundred yards that lay between them and their destination. There was nothing, no trees, no buildings, no cover at all.

"That's not the only problem," Liz said breaking his surveillance. "There aren't any snipers in the towers."

What? he asked silently. Sure enough, they weren't there but where were they? Hurriedly, Liz and Michael rushed back to where they had left Max.

"Max," Michael spoke quietly, "we need to get moving."

"What did you find?" she asked.

"All the ground cover was removed today, we're about to step into a no man's land. The snipers are no where that we could see, either."

"What's the plan?"

"We head out but we'll have to scrap most of the strategy from the original. We'll just worry about our section and let everyone else handle theirs. Do you think that we need to notify them about our discoveries?"

"No," Liz answered with conviction. "They already know and will be taking action. Zack hasn't called us back in, which means he is confident that everyone will be able to adapt. We were trained for this kind of eventuality."

"Let's rock," Max stated before jumping over the fence. Michael and Liz quickly followed pursuit, easily clearing the twelve-foot boundary. Landing upright with his legs already in motion, he raced to the compound; everything, for the moment depended on speed.

When they were about two hundred yards away from the safety of the walls, Michael heard a shot ring out in the night; several others immediately accompanied it. They had found the sharpshooters and they were positioned in the ground underneath turf shaded camouflage. Weaving intermittently through the barren land, he attempted to fend off any and all shots; if he kept changing his trajectory then they would have a harder time of locking him in their sights.

His careful avoidance of the leaden projectiles was almost for not when his body came to a momentary standstill upon looking over to Liz. Her body jerked as a bullet collided with her chest and she tumbled to the ground. However, before Michael could go to her, she was up and running again, spurring him into immediate action. A motion that was none to soon, he thought as he felt the disturbance of air near his cheek.

They made it to the wall with no further incidents, stopping only long enough to dispatch the snipers that they came across. "Are you alright, Ash?" Michael heard Max say. Anxiously, he listened for Liz's reply.

"Yeah, just fine. Luckily, it hit my vest and only knocked the wind out of me. I'll probably have a nice sized bruise tomorrow but right now, I'm good to go."

Michael felt himself relax slightly at her announcement; he hadn't lost her yet. "Are you two ready for the next phase?"

"As we'll ever be," they replied together.

"Is there any way you could stop doing that?" he asked exasperatedly. Their only answer, cheeky smiles.

Anxiously, he led his team in scaling up the outside wall of the building; they would start at the top floor of the two-story structure and work their way down. Time to see what we can do, he thought indifferently. Michael no longer felt the need to prove himself or his worth, he just wanted to get them out alive and, preferably, in one piece.

posted on 3-Dec-2002 11:05:29 PM
Part XXXIX - Cleansing Manticore

Cursing under his breath, Michael reached for the last grenade on his belt, pulled the pin, waited three seconds then flung the object out the open doorway and down the hall. It would be much easier if could just use his alien power blasts, he thought begrudgingly. Stepping away from exposure quickly, he covered his head with both arms and awaited the explosion. This was not going well; no, not at all well.

They had been able to place the first eleven charges without incident; it had been odd but welcome. It was when they were working on the twelfth that Zack's voice could be heard over the communicators. His tone was calm but had an edge to it; Michael had known instantly that something was wrong. Zack had informed them that they had been incorrect in their assessment of troops in the base. Deadly wrong in fact, there was not just one full unit of X7's but two.

Soon, every group had started transmitting over the COM system. Zane and Tinga had been seriously wounded and had to retreat to safety, but at least they were getting out. Zack had had to leave Ben to fend for himself while he laid the rest of the charges; he was too injured to move without assistance. Krit and Syl had finished their section but were surrounded. The announcements had hit Max and Liz hard but they were dealing with it the only way they knew how, by finishing their job. It was the least they could do for their falling family.

Just as quickly as the barrage of static voices started, they had ended. Michael could only pray that they had some sort of disrupting device, he didn't want to think of the other possibilities or what it would mean for his sister and Alex. The silence didn't last long, though; soon the air was filled with gunfire and the scurrying feet of the approaching enemy.

Michael's assessment of the situation had been short and sweet; they needed to get their asses in motion. Right now, evacuating was not an issue. They had three bombs left to plant, which was why they were currently trying to clear a path through a legion of soldiers and not leaping out the nearest window to safety. Luckily enough for his team, no one had received injuries up to this point.

Suddenly the hallway behind him exploded in bright orange flames and screams of agony; Michael grimaced, he may have liked the life of a soldier on Antar but here on Earth he could only see death as murder. Deciding to assuage his guilt later, he rushed out the door with Max and Liz following closely. They sprinted down the passage stopping only momentarily to position one incendiary before continuing with the last two.

Time was running out but they could not afford to separate to speed up the process. There were just too many X7's moving about the joint. At least that was all there were, they hadn't had to worry about any other troops; apparently Manticore felt that their special troops were enough to thwart a unit of X5's. Michael prayed that they would soon be proving those bastards wrong.

Another five minutes and Max had positioned her last explosive. One left to go and Liz carried it. They hurried down the suspiciously empty corridors, keeping a keen eye on every direction, entrance and vent. Movement behind them, movement in front. Shit, Michael thought, an ambush. Before he could react, he observed Liz rip the last grenade off her belt and yank the pin with her teeth. Have I mentioned how much I love this woman yet today? She held it for a full five seconds before forcefully tossing it towards the awaiting troops.

The explosion was close this time and Michael hadn't taken any precautions to protect his body. A spattering of dirt, drywall, blood and chunks of dismembered bodies rained down on him. Wiping his eyes furiously with a grime-covered hand, he continued on through the path that his girlfriend had created. Max and Liz rushed out ahead of him searching for any survivors and seeking out the last location for the bomb. Shots rang out harshly reminding him of his already damaged hearing.

With ears ringing, Michael raced down the hallway, away from the would-be captors and assassins and into unknown territory. Another round of bullets was fired behind him and he stumbled as several of them imbedded in his armor covered back. He silently thanked Mr. Kevlar or whoever had been the genius behind the hard rubber covering.

Michael was in the process of regaining his scattered control when he saw Liz and Max both get struck; his girlfriend in the back and upper right arm, her sister high on her left hamstring. Liz never once broke stride as the bullets impacted with her body; she kept moving, even going so far as to wrap her injured arm around Max's waist to help her keep running.

Their escape came to a halt when they reached their destination, a small room housing the mainframe for the entire base. The computer contained all of the research data for the entire X series project; it would be their coup de grace.

Slamming the door behind him, Michael used his powers to seal it shut then turned to Liz. "Set the last charge so we can get the hell out of here."

"I can't," she said holding the explosive out to him, "it got damaged in the last round of bullets."

"Shit. Alright we're leaving now, if we stay any longer we're going to be killed."

"Calm down, Michael," Max stated impatiently. "She can fix it."

"Can you?" he questioned.

"Yeah," Liz responded, "just give me five minutes."

"It'll have to be faster then that," he said glancing anxiously at his watch, "we've only got four before they remote detonate."

"Then I suggest you busy yourself with clearing out the hallway. Take my gun and see if you can pick any of them off, and Max, do what you can, I'll have this repaired in no time."

Liz set about her work and Michael reluctantly turned back to the entrance with Max at his side. Throwing open the steel door, he aimed and took out one X7, hitting her directly in the face with his shot. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Max fell two before she discarded the weapon and challenged one of the remaining three in hand-to-hand combat.

The clip clicked empty on Michael's pistol and he tossed it aside taking a defensive stance against the two other X7's. He and Max moved until they were back-to-back leaving one less angle of approach for their enemies. The X7's rushed him and he fought them with all he was worth, flailing wildly and giving everything he had to the attack. He had thought that the X5's were amazing but these guys were something else; he feared that the only thing keeping him alive up to this point was the fact that they were only ten years old and still somewhat inexperienced in active combat.

Some way, he wasn't sure how, Michael managed to connect one of his feet to the side of an assailant's head; he heard a nasty crack just before the child sank to the ground motionless. Now he was one-on-one with the only standing opposition; Max had dispatched her target and was lying limply on the floor beside its body.

Seeing a glitter of silver in the young man's hand, Michael reached for his own knife only to find it missing. Relying on his reflexes, he fended off the attack only receiving a few deep cuts and scratches but he was unable to break through the other's defense. He backed up to try another approach only to be tripped by one of the fallen enemy bodies. Even in death they still fight, he thought grumpily as he tumbled to the ground. The assailant used the blunder to his advantage and rushed Michael, his knife outstretched and poised for the kill.

This is it, Michael screamed inside his head; slamming his eyes shut, he waited for the biting pain of the sharp blade as it tore into his flesh. Five seconds and the deathblow still hadn't come. Cautiously, he opened his eyes and stared at the sight in front of him; the child was obviously dead. No one could survive the blade of a seven-inch knife being driven in their throat up to the hilt. Max was standing immediately to his right, a smirk on her face. He looked up to her gratefully before withdrawing the weapon and wiping the blood on his already soiled T-shirt.

Casting a quick glance to his watch, Michael muttered a resounding “Fuck” before pushing past Max and grabbing Liz's arm. Forcing her to look at him, he yelled, "We've got to get out of here detonation is in exactly ten seconds."

"One more minute, Michael," she yelled back distractedly. "I just need to set it and we can leave."


Max cast a glance at Michael and he motioned for her to get the hell away.


Michael took a step in Liz's direction, cursing her foolishness and sense of responsibility. Why wasn't she any faster? Why couldn't she just leave?


Liz finally secured the bomb to the mainframe.


Time was running out, they weren't going to make it out of the room in time.


From the end of the hallway, Max turned and yelled worriedly, "Hurry up."


Liz flipped the switch to arm the explosive.


Liz picked up her bag.


She turned and stepped towards the door.


Michael grabbed Liz, pushing her out the exit in front of him, using his body to shield her from the blast.

The second before the room behind him exploded into a cloud of dust and flame, Michael watched Max hobble out a window to safety. He spared a last glance to the woman that held his heart and her shocked expression rocked him to the core. "I love you, Liz," he mumbled into her dark hair.

The shock wave caught him blissfully unaware as the bombs were detonated. Heat and flame bit into his back and left side scorching his already abused body. Michael wrapped his arms tightly around Liz, enjoying her warmth for one last time before everything around him went black.


Part XL - Let Me Follow

Liz groggily opened her eyes and felt a heavy weight holding her to the ground. What? A hand was tugging frantically at her arm but she ignored it; she needed to get her bearings and figure out where she was before she dealt with the person intruding into her personal space. Flexing her muscles, she tried to dislodge the object holding her down only to find that she couldn't move her right arm.

Finally, after much lifting, she managed to climb out from beneath the behemoth holding her down, her right arm hanging broken and useless at her side. No, she thought blinking her eyes rapidly, not a behemoth, Michael. Oh God, the explosion; he protected me from the brunt of it. She dropped down beside him screaming hysterically, "Please don't you die on me, damn it."

Her silent prayers were answered by a sharp, crippling pain coming to life in the back of her head. Doubling over in pain, she let out a short sigh of relief, Michael was alive, but barely, and he was in tremendous agony.

Someone was shaking Liz, trying impatiently to get her attention. Right, she thought, my sister. "Ash, get it together, we need to get out of here pronto. The building probably won’t stand much longer, most of the structural supports were blown in this section."

Tears poured out of Liz's eyes as she tried to focus on her sister’s words. Clutching her head, she answered, "I can feel his pain, Max; I can't block it out. It's overwhelming me. Help us please; I can't have him die for me. I can't live without him."

Confusion lit Max's face but she did as Liz asked her the only way she knew how. She felt their connection flare to life and soothing words and feelings flow through it. Slowly, she recaptured her poise, blocking out Michael's familiar presence until they got him out of the building and to safety.

Between the two of them, Max and Liz hauled Michael outside through the rubble and to the periphery. Unable to get him over the fence without further injury, Liz decided upon a new route of action and impatiently blasted a hole through the wire. As fast as they could, she and her sister carried him to the van where, hopefully, their getaway driver was waiting for them.

Entering the clearing, they found no people, no van, nothing but tire tracks and scorched grass. Liz dropped to the ground no longer able to squeeze back her tears. Her lover, and mate, was dying and she was helpless. Her sister attempted to wrap comforting arms around her but she shrugged them off roughly, she had an idea.

Placing her hands above the blistered and blackened skin of Michael's back, Liz tried to make her energy pool and perform the process she needed to heal. Nothing happened. She tried again, still nothing. Why was it that she could blast a hole through a steel fence but she couldn't heal the man that she loved?

The question was pointless; she already knew the answer. Michael's life was ebbing and she had blocked their connection so that she wouldn’t have to deal with his crippling pain. She needed him to broach the alien abyss but, even if she reopened the connection, he was too wounded to guide her. Liz choked back a sob; she couldn't even return the service he had provided for her so few months ago. He was dying and with him any alien powers that she might have used to save him. There was nothing more she could do, so she collapsed on his chest and vowed that she would join him in death.

That was how Isabel found them; Michael charred and sprawled on the dirt floor with Liz weeping above him. Liz watched the alien approaching across the field and felt hope swirl in her anew. Isabel made her way over to the huddled pair and leaned down beside Michael’s body to quickly assess his condition with her alien powers. Sadly with tears trailing down her cheeks, she raised her eyes to meet Liz’s, "I can't help him, Liz; there’s too much damage. We need to get him to my brother."

Liz felt her brief glimmer of hope fade away with the announcement. She was numb. She was cold. She was scared. She was losing Michael. She had probably already lost most of her family, if not all. Alex was nowhere to be seen. Had freedom really been worth this price?

Shutting her mind off from the unwanted thoughts and events that she couldn’t change, Liz let Isabel take charge of the injured team. Together, they got Michael loaded in the van where Logan and Alex waited with light injuries. On the periphery of her consciousness she felt the van start moving and frantic voices yelling at her to snap out of it. It was a command that she couldn't obey.

Once they were in the sanctity of the vehicle, she reopened her connection with Michael just to feel him one last time. Soon the emotions and physical pain overwhelmed her already weak and battered body and she followed him into unconsciousness. This is where I belong, she thought, alongside my love in sweet oblivion.