posted on 30-Dec-2002 10:18:08 PM
1-1-1


Images courtesy of Roswelllover


Title: Time Runs Both Ways
Author: Assilem_1
Disclaimer: I own nothing so no point in suing . . .
Category: AU CC Liz’s POV
Rating: PG-13 (At least for now)
Disposition: Dreamer through and through (<-hint *happy*)
Feedback: Yes, please *happy*
Summary: This starts off kinda dark, but it’ll get lighter. It takes place after Alex dies in Season 2, but in a twist of fate, Max also dies, but everyone please trust me, I’ll fix this in a way that’ll make all the Dreamers happy . . . *happy* . . .

Note: To anyone who read this on the Dreamer board, I added a lot of music to the chapters because I'm secretly trying to get nominated for "Best Musical Use" . . . So I'd really appreciate it if you let me know if the music works . . . . . .

And if you need a pick me up after this story, check out my funny story Running with Scissors . . . It's set in an alternate universe where our Favorite Roswellians are in college, but the shooting never happened, so things are completely different.

So basically it's the exact opposite of this story . . . (Hey, a little self-promotion never hurt anybody!) . . . *tongue*

Anyway, on with the story . . .

~~~


“And so the world ends . . . Not with a bang, but with a whimper.”


Chapter 1

Journal Entry 31 – July 13th 2002

So, so much has happened since that fateful day on the ledge. At the time I felt it was an ending. But now I see I had only just begun.

So, how did I get here?

The answer seems to be a very long one, but, instead of starting at the beginning, since I’ve already done that in the beginning of this journal, I thought I’d start at the end. Or what I thought was the end.

And I can still remember it all so clearly . . .

I stood there, with the wind blowing past me, the darkness surrounding me and I could just imagine the ground rushing up to meet me as I stood on that ledge. And you know what I felt?

Calm.

Yes, I, Elizabeth Claudia Parker, was contemplating suicide and the thought actually made sense. The funny thing was, with all that had happened lately, I somehow figured my big exit from this life would be just that. Big. Not that I imagined myself going out with guns blazing or anything crazy like that, I just thought it’d be major. Especially to me. But right then, my death just seemed like a minor thing.

So why am I writing all this down now?

Well, for one thing, tommorrow is the day I stood on that ledge.

Yes, I know, that makes no sense, but it’s still true.

No one remembers any of this . . . Not Max and Alex dying, not the pain that followed, not even me trying to commit suicide.

But that’s ok.

It’s a burden I will happily shoulder alone if it means it’s all undone.

But back then, I’d stopped writing things down, stopped keeping track, stopped talking altogether. No one could hear me anyways, so it just became easier to stay quiet and see if anyone noticed. And you know what?

They didn’t.

Although, really I can’t blame them for that because there was so much grief going around back then, there was hardly room for much else.

But now I realize that in order to make sense of where I am now, I have to deal with where I was then. That dark place that I was buried in. Inside myself. And yes, I know some people will consider what I was about to do a cop-out. But they don’t know how it felt. How the pain felt. And how it took over so much so that there was nothing left of me. How I couldn’t sleep without reliving that terrible day. Couldn’t eat anything and successfully keep it down. Couldn’t think without the memories rushing in.

Oh yes, I remember what it was like. Remember the pain better than I’d like to admit actually, since some of the issues are still with me.

So I retreated . . . from everyone . . . and everything. Losing Alex hurt, almost more than I could stand. But then to lose Max. It was like losing a part of myself. And I just didn’t know how to do it alone anymore. How to keep going day to day like part of me wasn’t missing. Like it was going to somehow magically be ok. Because it wasn’t ok. I wasn’t ok. And I felt like I’d never be ok again.

So I thought if I kept still and stayed quiet, maybe the pain would loosen it’s hold on me.

But the silence in my head was so deafening back then. And I’d open my mouth to scream only to discover I had no voice.

But how could I scream?

I wasn’t even there.

I wasn’t anywhere.

I had ceased to exist . . . without even noticing.

So death made sense to me after that.

Of course, I didn’t understand it at first. Why the people I love had to succumb to it. Why Max and Alex couldn’t be with me then.

I wailed and I fought and resisted the knowledge that they were gone, because I figured if I didn’t believe it, it wouldn’t be true. Yes, I know, ‘Faulty Liz logic’ Max would call it, but he wasn’t there and that wasn’t the point. The point was that after that I understood . . . that it wasn’t technically suicide ‘cause I was already gone. I had died that day when they did. I just didn’t realize it at the time. I’d been walking around for weeks, an empty shell of myself. Just going through the motions, expecting that at some point something would happen to finally bring me back. But you know what?

Nothing ever did.


~ ~ ~

“Liz?” her father’s voice drifted out to her from the open window of her bedroom. “Dinner’s ready hon.”

“I’ll be there in a minute Dad” she responded as she closed her eyes for a moment. Then she reopened them, bookmarked her page, closed her journal and rose from her chair on the balcony. She wearily climbed back into her room and put her journal in it’s new hiding place under a loose floor board in the closet. She then went to join her parents for dinner.

When dinner was over, she excused herself and retired to her room. But she didn’t go back and retrieve her journal. Instead she found her mind traveling back to that fateful day and she relived it anew.

~ ~ ~ ~

~*Spend all your time waiting*~
~*For that second chance*~


Once again, the wind was blowing through her hair and she could see the ground below her so clearly.

~*For a break that would make it okay*~
~*There's always some reason*~
~*To feel not good enough*~


She was still staring down at her soon-to-be destination. The place where only moments from now she would finally know the peace that she couldn’t seem to find anywhere else. Funny how it all seemed so complicated before and now it all seemed so simple.

~*And it's hard at the end of the day*~

She’d resisted for so long, trying to convince herself that there was a reason to go on. Deluded herself really because all along she knew . . . what she had to do. She’d always told him that without him she couldn’t imagine living. But she felt she owed it to him to try.

~*I need some distraction*~
~*Oh beautiful release*~
~*The memories seep from my veins*~


And as her mind flooded with thoughts of Max, suddenly the once inviting ground blurred as her tears began to flow again. But she didn’t want to cry. She was so tired of crying . . . of mourning for what could have been . . . what should have been. If only she’d never changed things, she thought for probably the millionth time. But she couldn’t help it. Whenever she thought about how things turned out, it inevitably lead to thinking of how they were the first time around. Before Future Max came and asked her to give up the world, her world. Neither of them could have known that this would happen. Couldn’t have suspected that ending that fateful relationship would result in Max and Alex’s deaths.

“So what of the future now?” she cried out into the silence.

Fourteen years into the future seemed inconceivable considering how things were now. If being without Tess weakened them enough to lose, then being without Max meant that the battle would probably be over before it started.

So it was over for all of them now and everything she’d given up, everything she’d lost, was for nothing.

~*Let me be empty*~

It was all just too much she thought as her tears got the best of her and she began to sob. She crumbled to the ground then, as the weight of her grief crashed down around her. And yet she knew it would only get worse because every time she allowed herself to think of how bad things truly were, it lead to her remembering how it all came to be this way.

~*Oh and weightless and maybe*~
~*I'll find some peace tonight*~


‘But not this time’ she thought as she forced herself to stand. ‘I won’t relive that day again, I won’t!’ So she determinedly composed herself and pushed her grief down into the void it was used to occupying. And as her tears slowed she looked up, told Max she loved him for the final time in this life, and she prepared to jump.

~*In the arms of the angels*~
~*Far away from here*~
~*From this dark cold hotel room*~
~*And the endlessness that you fear*~


And just as she began to take that first step off the building into nothingness, everything started moving in slow motion. Slowly her foot moved forward and she began to tip, tip, ever so slowly forward, she could see the tear that had just slipped down her cheek fall slowly away, as if part of her were trying to get there faster. She could also feel the wind blowing her hair away from her face and the pressure of it like it was trying to push her back into her original position. But she knew there was no comfort or solace left for her here, so her decision was made. So slowly tipping forward, forward and just as she was about to leave the ledge altogether, strong arms grabbed her and pulled her back. ‘Back?’ she thought. ‘Back to what? My empty shell of a life? My life without Max?’

~*You are pulled from the wreckage*~
~*Of your silent reverie*~


“Nooooo!” she cried to the still unknown person who was trying to keep her away from her final peace of mind.

~*You’re in the arms of the angels*~

So she fought him, clawed at him, desperately begging him to let her go. But still he held on to her until soon her fighting dissolved into heartwrenching sobs. It was only then that the stranger turned her around in his arms to hold her while she wept. After a few moments, she brought her head up from his chest and looked into his familiar face and said

“Michael?”

~*May you find some comfort here *~


~~~~

Lyrics from "Angel" by Sarah McLachlan


Chapter 2

‘How did I get here?’ she wondered not for the first time as her and Michael were sitting in Maria’s beat up Jetta outside of the building she had just tried to committ suicide in. Everything had seemed so simple just moments ago when she knew she was leaving this world behind for a better one. She figured that the people in her life would mourn her, but they would eventually let her go.

They had to.

Besides everyone had been too wrapped up in their grief to notice anyone else around them. Isabel had turned to Kyle and they seemed to comfort each other and Maria was so broken that Michael seemed to be the only person who could reach her.

‘So why was he here now?’ she wondered.

“Michael, what are you doing here?” she finally voiced aloud the question she had been thinking for the past few minutes. When he continued to stare straight ahead with both hands on the steering wheel, she started to get upset again and wailed “Why couldn’t you just leave me alone?”

And that’s when he did turn to her and looking into his eyes, she realized that he was angry. ‘But why?’ she thought to herself.

“Leave you alone?!?” Michael roared. “Leave you alone so that you could kill yourself?!? What the hell were you thinking? How could you do that to yourself? To us? To all of us who have already lost so much? To Maria! How could you do that to your best friend Maria? Who can barely wake up each morning without crying so hard I think she’s gonna split apart. How could you even think that this was a good solution to your problems?”

And this suddenly made Liz angry, which, she discovered, was a hell of a better emotion to deal with than grief. “Do this to you ? To all of you ? What about me? I mean, Isabel and you lost a brother, Maria lost a best friend, but I lost a soul mate and a best friend! What about how I’ve been feeling? How sometimes I can’t even breathe it hurts so bad. How dare you try to tell me what is or isn’t a good solution to my problems! You don’t even know what it feels like to have my problems! Why don’t you imagine what it would feel like to lose Maria . . . and then add losing Isabel to that and then maybe, maybe you can talk to me about pain!!!” By this time she was crying again, but she was brushing the tears away angrily as she glared at Michael.

At that, all the fight seemed to go out of Michael and he just collapsed against the steering wheel. And it was only by the slight shaking of his shoulders that Liz could tell he was crying. ‘This was just too much!’ Liz found herself thinking again, in despair, as she looked at Michael. Michael was the toughest of them all and here he was crying. It was all just too much for Liz and she launched herself at Michael as her crying increased and his continued in earnest.

Slowly, slowly, they broke apart as their crying decreased and as it subsided altogether, Michael gave her a half-smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes and said “Now if you tell anyone that I cried on your shoulder, I will have to kill you.” But instead of lightening the mood like he originally thought it would, Liz just turned to look out the window at the building they had just left.

At that, Michael’s façade fell and he turned to face her fully. “Liz, I know this isn’t really my place and I know we haven’t ever really been close and I’m probably the last person you’d pick to talk to . . . but what you were about to do . . .” and he let the rest of the sentence trail off.

Liz sighed heavily as she realized that she had been putting off this moment when they would have to have this conversation, so instead of addressing his comment, she decided to repeat the question she’d asked earlier. “Michael, what are you doing here? How did you know to come here? I mean, I purposefully picked this building for it’s isolation and yet here you are . . .”

He turned to face forward again as he debated what to say. Should he tell her the truth? He wasn’t sure if he should because it could be a little more than she could handle right now. She was just about to commit suicide. Didn’t that suggest that kid gloves were necessary? Or was this a time for tough love? He grumbled quietly to himself, wishing Maria was here. She’d know what to do, he thought. He never was any good at this touchy-feely stuff and the crying fit he’d just had was already more emotion than he showed in a lifetime. But since Maria hadn’t been herself lately, she hadn’t noticed that her friend was slipping into a black pit of despair, so that just left him. And the odd thing was discovering that he actually cared about Liz. Because before all this happened, he had only thought of her as a thorn in his side, then she was just ‘Max’s girlfriend’and ‘Maria’s best friend’ and then she was ‘the-girl-who-broke-Max’s-heart.’ He had just never taken the time to notice that somewhere in between all their inner-group dramas and intermittent brushes with death, the group had become like family to him . . . And that included Liz, Alex, Kyle and even Valenti. So this made Liz like a sister to him . . . even though, he’d never taken more than a passing interest in her well-being. Until this morning that is . . .

~*Of all the things I've believed in*~
~*I just want to get it over with*~


Michael was so absorbed in his thoughts that he didn’t realize that he’d taken much too long to answer the question and Liz, left alone with her thoughts, found herself being called back to that ledge . . . and it terrified her.

~*Tears form behind my eyes*~
~*But I do not cry*~


She didn’t realize until she was pulled back from it, how much of herself she had really lost in the time that had passed. She had faded away and no one had noticed. Not even her. But what else could she do? The pain was just so overwhelming. It was gut-wrenching. It was like nothing she had ever experienced. And it was all the time.

~*Counting the days that pass me by*~

And then top that off with the fact that it wasn’t getting better. Wasn’t it supposed to get better? It seemed someone had told her that once, the ‘time-heals-all-wounds’ thing, but exactly how much time?

~*I've been searching deep down in my soul*~
~*Words that I'm hearing are starting to get old*~


Time didn’t seem to be her friend these days. Time had brought her to that ledge. Well, ok, that wasn’t exactly true. Pain had brought her to that ledge. But time just kept hitting her over the head. Days slipped into weeks, weeks slipped into months, and nothing changed.

~*It feels like I'm starting all over again*~
~*The last three years were just pretend*~


Sometimes she’d watch the clock change from minutes to hours, hoping if she watched, something important would happen. A moment of clarity.

~*And I said*~
~*Goodbye to you*~
~*Goodbye to everything that I knew*~


But the only moment of clarity she’d had was when she accepted what she had to do and had gone to that ledge . . .

~*You were the one I loved*~
~*The one thing that I tried to hold on to . . . *~


“Uh- um . . .” Michael started, realizing that he had to say something to break the silence. Liz turned to him when he spoke and the pain he saw in her eyes nearly took his breath away. How did they miss that? How could anyone have missed that? But even as he watched, her eyes clouded over and took on the haunted, blank look that he realized he had gotten used to not seeing. Yes, an intervention was definitely in order. Which, he thought, was ironic since he always figured he’d be on the receiving end of one of those, but whatever, back to the matter at hand. ‘Words! I need to say something, right? Just speak from the heart, she’s already seen you cry, it can’t get much worse than that, can it?’ he thought to himself.

“Um, I kinda sensed you” Michael stated.

“Sensed me?” Liz yelled. “What the hell does that mean?!?”

“Well, um, do you remember this morning when I was coming out of the breakroom and you were walking in and we collided?” as Liz nodded mutely, he continued “Well, when I reached out to steady you, something just happened and suddenly I could feel it . . . um, your pain, that is. It was like this living, breathing, thing that nearly knocked me over, but you were so deeply consumed by it that you didn’t even notice and you just kept going. Well, ever since then I’ve had this dim sense of you, where you are, um, how you’re feeling and your emotions were screaming to me a little while ago, so I came. It wasn’t till I got here that I realized what you were about to do and . . .” He trailed off not knowing what else he should say. He really had no experience with this. The only person he really talked to about feelings was Maria and well, she was Maria so that made sense. Bonding with someone that was not his girlfriend was new to him. Argueing with the others in their group hardly constituted discussing feelings.

“It was the loss of our connection . . .”

Liz spoke so softly Michael wasn’t even sure she’d actually spoken.

“What?” he asked.

“Nobody ever knew it and we never even really talked about it with each other. But after Max healed me, there was this, I don’t know, this part of me that always had a sense of him . . . He was like this quiet presence in my mind . . . And feeling him brought me comfort. But the day he . . . the day he and Alex died, it’s like someone ripped out part of me and left this . . . this nothingness in it’s place. And it’s just too much . . . I lost Alex, I lost Max, and in the end, I lost myself . . . I lost a part of me that I’ll never get back . . . I gave it a go. I really did. But honestly Michael, I’m just not strong enough for this . . . ”

And she once again turned her gaze back to the building.

“Liz, I know this is hard. It’s hard for all of us. But listen to me . . .”

Liz continued to gaze at the building, so Michael gripped her shoulders and she turned, finally, to meet his eyes.

“Liz, listen . . . I don’t have any easy answers for how to get through this. I’m just taking it day by day myself. And it’s hard . . . It’s unbelievably hard to try to adjust to losing people you care about. People that deserved to live long and happy lives . . .”

At this Michael’s voice broke a little. He took a deep breath and continued.

“I won’t pretend to understand what you’re going through ‘cause as you stated earlier I can’t know. I do understand that it’s different for you. But Liz, you have to find a way to get through it. Think of what Max and Alex would want for you. Would they want you to give up?”

She shook her head numbly.

“And if the roles were reversed, would you want them to give up?”

Again she shook her head no.

“Well then you’ve got to keep trying Liz. Just try taking it day by day. Hell, take it minute by minute if you have to. But keep going on. I can’t guarantee it’ll get easier, because they’ll still be gone, but it can’t get much worse. But one thing I want you to remember from now on is you’re not alone. I know everyone’s been tied up in their own grief, but I’m here now Liz and I’m not going anywhere.”

She just nodded at him dully and then looked down at her hands folded in her lap.

“So, I have to ask . . . Are you ok? Do you think you can do this?” Michael gently asked her.

“I think I can try” she responded softly.

“Well I guess that’s all any of us can do, huh?” he said as he started the car. “But for the record, if you feel yourself being called back to that ledge, just call me instead, ok?”

She again spoke softly, but he heard a very quiet “Ok.”

During the drive home, they were both silent and introspective, They didn’t say much to each other, but it was a comfortable silence nonetheless.

When they arrived outside of the Crashdown, Michael pulled around back, assuming correctly that the balcony was what Liz had used to sneak out since it was now 2 in the morning.

“Try to get some rest now Liz” he said to her softly as she began opening the car door.

“I’ll try” she answered him and got ready to leave the car. But just as she was about to get out, she suddenly turned to him and gave him a tentative hug. He heard her say softly “Thank you” and then she was gone, climbing up the stairs of the ladder to her balcony.

“Good night Lizzie” he said to her softly as he put the car in gear and backed out of the alleyway.

~~~

Lyrics from “Goodbye to you” by Michelle Branch



[ edited 5 time(s), last at 17-Feb-2003 9:54:42 PM ]
posted on 30-Dec-2002 10:22:32 PM
Note:

This chapter is very sad! Sorry guys but I will fix this! I promise! *sad*

Chapter 3

Liz climbed in her bedroom window quietly, making sure not to make any unnecessary noise to alert her parents to the fact that she was sneaking in. Although, considering how many times before she’d done it and not gotten caught, it was obvious that no less than an earthquake would awaken those two, but it was the last thing she needed tonight, so she moved quietly.

She purposely turned her mind off to the events of the day as she went about her nightly routine of putting on her sleep clothes, brushing her teeth, and washing her face. But after switching off the light to the bathroom and returning to her bedroom, the thoughts she had been pushing to the back of her mind began slowly creeping forward again. She stared at her bed, knowing there was no way she was gonna sleep tonight and not have the nightmare, so she quickly grabbed a blanket and went out to her balcony to lay in the lounge chair she kept out for just this purpose.

She sat and gazed at the stars and tried to shut her mind off. When that didn’t work and her grief began to press down on her more and more, she finally gave in and cried, thinking about what she’d almost done tonite. Which brought her back to Michael. So she sat and thought about what he’d said earlier about taking it day by day.

She figured maybe she could do that. Especially now that she knew someone out there was willing to help her. And as she sat, chewing thoughtfully on her bottom lip and feeling the wind move softly past her face, her eyelids began to droop and before she knew it, she was drifting off. Which made sense because, truth be told, she hadn’t slept in over a week: her own personal solution to the nightmare problem . . .

Her last thought before she drifted off was ‘Darn, I shoulda made some coffee . . .’

With the stars her only witness, she slept fitfully for awhile, but then she began to toss and turn when the familiar but terrible nightmare started . . . It always began so innocently. As that day had been. There was no hint as to how badly it would end . . .

~~~~~

She was on her way over to Alex’s house to study for an english lit quiz they were gonna be given the next day. Alex had been having trouble with the material, so she’d volunteered to help him. So she walked . . . humming a little tune along the way.

She was having one of her more hopeful days. One of those days where the lost future she was supposed to have with Max wasn’t weighing her down so much.

She just chose not to think about it and that made it better.

‘Hey, look! Up ahead, isn’t that Denial City? Haven’t visited there in awhile’ she thought to herself ruefully.

‘But hey, whatever works, right?’ she thought so she continued on.

When she arrived at Alex’s house, she knocked but no one answered, so she turned the knob and entered, knowing the door would be unlocked. It was always unlocked. She started up the stairs to Alex’s room.

“Alex” she called out. “I’m coming up the stairs! So if you’re in any state of undress, I suggest you cover up immediately ‘cause I love you, but I don’t wanna see your . . .”

Her voice trailed off as she reached Alex’s room and took note of the scene unfolding in front of her. She blinked her eyes, sure she was hallucinating . . . But when she looked again, the scene was still the same. Alex was standing in his bedroom with a gun (‘where did he get a gun?’) and he had it trained on Tess who was standing just inside the door with a notebook in her hand.

Tess turned to look at Liz and Liz’s breath caught in her throat as their eyes met, because Tess’s eyes were cold and hard. At that exact moment, the only person Liz could think of whose eyes had been like that were Nasedo’s. His eyes had always been so devoid of humanity and lifeless and that’s exactly how Tess’s looked at that moment.

Then her eyes flashed at Liz as some of the anger she was feeling reflected in them, until she got it under control and she turned back to Alex. With feigned frendliness, she said to him in a deceptively soft tone “Alex, you don’t want to do this. Look, your friend Liz is here. Everything is ok now. Isn’t it?” On the last two words, her voice hardened until it almost sounded like a threat.

‘What did I walk in on?’ Liz wondered, but before she could ask what was going on, Alex started yelling and waving the gun at Tess.

“You did this to me! You mindwarped me for two months while I decoded that alien book for you and now there's nothing left for you to mindwarp. You destroyed my mind! How could you do this to me?”

‘Decode an alien book? Huh?’ Liz wondered what the hell was going on ‘cause right that second it seemed like the world had gone mad. Liz was a member of the I-know-an-alien club, but this just didn’t make any sense.

She expected Tess to say as much to Alex, but Tess didn’t respond.

She just stood there, glaring at Alex and then her expression changed and she looked like she was concentrating. Suddenly the gun Alex was holding started wavering as he looked like he was having trouble controlling it. And then he shakily turned it around so that it was pointing at his chest. And the expression on his face! . . . He looked utterly terrified. Liz wanted to run to him and yank the gun away, but before she could, his finger located the trigger and he pulled it! . . . Tess callously pushed Liz aside and left the room clutching the notebook she was holding to her chest. Liz stumbled sideways a little, and shook her head, trying to clear it, but when she turned back to Alex, all she could see was blood . . . Blood everywhere. Alex’s blood. And he was splayed out on the carpet.

“Nooooo!” she screamed as she rushed to him and tried to figure out what to do.

His eyes were closed.

“Alex!” she yelled. “Alex, you have to wake up!” She grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him a little. But he didn’t respond.

Then she felt for a pulse in his neck and finding none, she really began to panic. She began to rock back and forth, then she placed both hands over his wound to stop the bleeding, then she began to talk to him.

“Alex, it’s gonna be ok . . . It is . . . I promise, it’s gonna be ok . . .”

Liz’s voice trailed off as she tried to recall every bit of first aid training she had ever received . . . But this was a gunshot wound! . . . First aid was just not enough! . . . And then it occurred to her . . .

‘Max! Max could fix this!’

So while holding one hand over Alex’s wound, she manipulated her back pack off her shoulder, opened the flap and pulled out her cell phone.

(She was so panicked she wouldn’t notice the bloody handprints she was leaving on everything till 2 days later.)

She called Max using the speed dial on her phone, which was fortunate ‘cause she couldn’t have recalled his number at that moment if she tried.

The phone rang, once, twice, three times and then

“Hello?” Max answered breathless.

“Max . . . you have to come . . . Alex was shot . . . Tess shot . . . Tess made Alex shoot . . .” and then she looked down at Alex and herself.

“B bl blood Max, there’s b blood everywhere . . . He doesn’t . . . Alex doesn’t . . . there’s no pulse Max . . . M m m Max you have to come now!”

“Liz?” Max asked. “What? What happened? . . . Where . . . Where are you?”

“Alex’s room . . . Max you have to come
now! . . . Mmmmm . . . ” she hummed as she began rocking back and forth again.

“Ok, Liz, just, are you ok? Were you shot? Is Alex . . . Is Alex . . .” Max couldn’t even bring himself to ask the question. Liz sounded so scared. He’d never heard her sound like that before. And there was something else in her voice that terrified him.

“Max! You have to come now Max!” she yelled at him hysterically.

“Ok, ok, I’m on my way . . . Just . . . I’m gonna call Valenti too, maybe he can help control the neighbors or whoever may have heard something . . .” he trailed off.

“Just whatever Max, just come now!” Liz shouted at him and hung up.

And she sat there, with her hand covering Alex’s wound and rocking back and forth until Max got there.

She heard the downstairs door open but she didn’t move. She didn’t want to leave Alex. So she just sat there.

And that was the scene that greeted Max when he entered Alex’s bedroom.

Liz looked up at him and his eyes widened in shock, taking in the scene around him. Alex laying on the floor with a gaping hole in his chest that Liz was holding her hand over. She was shaking uncontrollably, with tears streaming down her face and she was rocking slightly. She didn’t even seem to be aware she was doing it.

And the blood . . . there was blood everywhere.

“M Max, you have to save him” Liz said brokenly.

At that moment, Max sensed that it was already too late, but he had to try. So he knelt next to Liz, gently lifted her hand from Alex’s chest and placed it on her lap. Then he placed his hand over Alex’s wound and closed his eyes to concentrate.

Liz watched him eagerly. Sure that he could fix Alex and everything would be ok again.

But nothing happened.

After a few minutes, Max opened his eyes and the hopefulness in Liz’s gaze caused an almost physical ache in his gut.

“It’s too late” Max said dejectedly. “He’s gone Liz . . . I can’t heal him.”

“No!” Liz cried. “Nooooooooo” she moaned this time. She then wrapped her arms around herself and began rocking back and forth again.

And Max watched as her eyes slowly glazed over and he knew she was going into shock.

“Liz!” Max cried as he suddenly realized that she could’ve been shot too. There was so much blood he’d assumed all of it had been Alex’s, but what if it wasn’t?

“Liz, are you hurt? Did you get shot too?” At that he tried to pry her fingers away from her tiny frame to inspect for himself.

“No!” she cried pulling away from him. “I’m not hurt . . . j just Alex . . . just fix Alex!” and she turned her gaze back to Alex and began crying in earnest.

Max was about to reach for her again when he heard the front door open and Valenti call “Max? Liz?”

“Up here Sheriff” Max called as he rose from his position, but still kept a trained eye on Liz, who hadn’t moved or even acknowleged the Sheriff when he called to them.

The Sheriff entered Alex’s room and couldn’t believe what he was seeing there. Max stepped over to him and began reiterating what he’d told him over the phone. Somehow Alex had been shot and Tess was involved. And then he prepared to tell the Sheriff what he’d probably already guessed. “I can’t save him Sheriff . . . He was already gone when I got here . . . But Liz . . .” he trailed off, not knowing what to say about Liz as he turned back to gaze at her.

The Sheriff walked over to her and said coaxingly“Liz?”

“Hmm” she answered almost absently as she sat gazing at Alex.

“Liz, honey, what happened here?”

Liz turned to him and he was immediately disconcerted by the blank look in her eyes. It was like everything that had happened had overloaded her and she had just shut down. She slowly began to speak as she turned her gaze back to Alex.

“T Tess was here when I g got here and her and Alex were argueing and he had a g g gun pointed at her . . . He was saying that she mindwarped him for m months to decipher some alien book and she’d destroyed his m mind . . .”

At this Liz began chewing on her lip as she trailed off, as if she’d forgotten she’d even been speaking.

“What happened next Liz?” Sheriff Valenti gently prompted her.

“T Tess looked really angry and then she looked like she was concentrating and then the . . . the g gun Alex was holding . . . he turned . . . he turned it around in his hands till it was pointing at his chest b but he looked like he didn’t understand w what was happening ‘cause she was m making him do it! . . . Then he p p p pulled the tr trigger . . .”

By this point she was crying hysterically and Valenti scrambled over to comfort her, regretting that he’d slipped into Sheriff mode and forced her to recount the story while they were still in the room with Alex (Alex!) . . .

He turned to look at Max, who had been standing by the door, but Max was already gone.

He heard his feet thudding down the stairs and he could just imagine that he was going after Tess.

He turned back to Liz, but she was already pulling out of his arms and rocking again. So he got up to call the station and report that there’d been a suicide, since that was the only way to explain what had happened.

So Liz sat there. It was weird how, if she just looked at his face, Alex looked like he was simply sleeping. After some amount of time had passed, Alex’s room was suddenly full of people. Valenti came back and led her into the next room and she let him guide her to wherever they thought she should be even though she wanted to stay with Alex. But she knew Alex was already gone from that room, even though his body remained. In this other room, they came and asked her questions, but she didn’t really understand the words. She could barely see their faces. Everything was just so blurry. Someone came and took her pulse and her blood pressure and wrapped a blanket around her, but eventually they left her alone. She was dimly aware of the people around her, but her mind had stopped trying to process everything that was going on.

She was swimming in the nothingness of it all when it happened.

All of a sudden, something terrible was happening and she felt like her chest was on fire. For a minute she couldn’t grasp what was going on. And then the fog cleared.

It was Max.

Something was happening to Max! And suddenly, she could hear him in her mind. ‘I’m sorry Liz . . . I love you . . . ’

And then he was gone.

“Max!” she screamed. “Don’t leave me!”

But she instinctively knew he wasn’t there anymore . . . he wasn’t anywhere anymore . . .

Several cops rushed into the room, but they all parted for Valenti since they had no idea what was going on. Valenti took one look at Liz’s face and the fact that she was chanting “Max” over and over again and ordered everyone out of the room.

After he had closed the door securely, he stepped over to her and crouched down. She had curled into a tight ball on the bed, sobbing Max’s name brokenly.

“What happened to Max, Liz?” he prompted her gently.

Liz turned her gaze to him and the only way Valenti could think to describe her was broken . . . she simply looked broken.

“Max is dead” she whispered. “He’s dead.”

And saying it aloud suddenly made it real . . . Too real . . . So she really began to sob then. Gut-wrenching sobs that shook her whole frame. She cried because Max was gone. She cried because Alex was too. She cried because she suddenly felt so lost. And finally, she cried because she was so hurt about Max that she didn’t have enough room to still hurt for Alex.

Valenti didn’t know what to do so he let her cry. He didn’t really understand how she knew about Max, but now wasn’t the time to try to dispute her claim.

Liz felt like she cried for hours and didn’t stop until she had nothing else left.

That’s when she turned inward and started crying on the inside.

When Liz’s tears had slowed, Valenti felt she was ok enough to move, so he lead her from the room, explaining to his deputy that he was taking her home.

She didn’t remember leaving Alex’s house or even getting in Valenti’s truck and she really didn’t remember the drive over. It just seemed like they were suddenly parked around the back of the Crashdown. So she got out and Valenti followed. She wasn’t exactly sure why he followed her inside, but she was beyond caring at that point.

As she walked in, Maria was just coming into the breakroom. Maria took one look at Liz’s face, her bloody clothing and Valenti’s somber expression and she screamed “No!”

At that Michael, Isabel and Kyle rushed in. When they too took note of Liz’s clothes, the 3 of them paled visibly as Valenti stated after a heartbeat

“There’s been an incident . . . Alex is dead . . .”




Chapter 4


Maria began to sob immediately and Michael hastily moved to her side as she nearly collapsed. Kyle did the same for Isabel as she swayed a little on her feet as the tears began to flow.

Valenti just continued to look somber as he glanced at Liz to see how she was holding up. But Liz still seemed to be trapped inside her mind ‘cause she barely seemed aware of her surroundings, much less the grief of those around her.

“What happened?” Michael asked harshly. ‘And where the hell was Max? He was supposed to meet us here over an hour ago’ he thought to himself angrily.

“Right now I don’t know if that’s our biggest concern . . .” Valenti started off as he glanced at Liz again. “There may be some issue of Max being hurt as well, based on what Liz has said.”

At that Liz spoke very softly and addressed the room.

“Max is dead” she stated.

And then the world went black as she passed out.


~~~~

Liz slowly woke from the dream, knowing she would be crying ‘cause she always woke up from the nightmare crying.

Well, sometimes she woke screaming too, depending on which part of the dream she woke up on, but mostly she just woke up crying.

Sometimes her pillow was so soaked when she woke, she wondered if she spent the whole night crying.

Although sometimes the nightmares were worse.

Sometimes in her dreams, all of them died that day, one by one, until she was the only one left.

Then, other times she wrestled the gun away from Alex and she was shot instead.

But the worst of the nightmares was the one where she was forced to watch Tess kill Alex and then kill Max right in front of her.

And it was so vivid, since they had pieced together what had happened to Max after he left Alex’s house.

Apparently he’d tracked Tess to the pod chamber, although they never could figure out how she managed to overpower him, but they found Max laying on the floor of the pod chamber with a silver hand print burned into his chest.

And oh yeah, the granolith was gone.

That book Alex had decoded for Tess must have contained instructions telling her how to use the granolith to go home ‘cause that’s apparently what she tried to do after she killed Max.

Alex had a proper burial 4 days later, but Max’s body was laid to rest in the desert outside the pod chamber that same day, because there was no way they could go to the authorities with any of what had happened.

A few days later, Michael discovered the granolith a few miles west of the pod chamber. Apparently Tess had gotten it to take off, but it crashed soon after. They never did find out why but they found Tess dead inside. No one in the group took pleasure in that fact though, because they had simply lost too much.

Along with finding Tess, they also discovered the book that Alex had translated for her. So they finally had the answers they had been searching for. But no one rejoiced in this information, because the cost for gaining it had been too high.

With much difficulty, they got the granolith back into the pod chamber and reformed the wall around it. They buried Tess not far from where they recovered the granolith.

So the running story that the group came up with to cover Max’s dissapearance was that he had decided to depart Roswell for parts unknown soon after learning of Alex’s death. Isabel even packed up some of his stuff and left a note typed on his computer to make it believable.

They never bothered making up a cover story for Tess though. It simply hurt too much to think about her.

But once the rumor mill got hold of Max’s story, it got twisted and turned around and became that Max and Tess departed together for parts unknown . . . since they’d dissapeared at the same time and they had been kind of cozy before that.

This wouldn’t have been such a hard rumor for the group to hear if it wasn’t such a perversion of what had actually happened.

But everyone continued on, coping in their own ways.

~~~

Liz lay there as her crying subsided and wondered why she did this to herself. Why she subjected herself to that nightmare, night after night, as if experiencing it the first time wasn’t terrible enough . . . Or, as if the pain she felt during every waking moment somehow didn’t earn her the right to a decent night’s sleep . . .

‘But one day at a time, right?’ she thought as she just then noticed that it was daylight out.

Just as she was about to rise and go inside, Michael’s head suddenly appeared as he climbed the final steps of the ladder to her balcony.

“Hey Liz” he said before he even rose fully to the top, knowing he would find her curled up in her lounge chair.

“ ‘Morning Michael” Liz said, not really surprised to see him so early in the morning. Very few things surprised her anymore. Still she found herself averting her face from his prying eyes, but Michael took note of her tear-streaked countenance and red eyes in silence. He didn’t tell her that he’d felt her grief all the way across town and that was what had brought him here. Instead he announced “Ok, so you’d better get dressed. I definitely need breakfast if I’m gonna be up this early and you might as well join me.”

Knowing Michael was just there to check up on her, she decided to take the path of least resistance and join him for breakfast instead of getting into a discussion over why she wasn’t particularly hungry.

“Ok” she said. “Just head downstairs and I’ll be there in a few minutes.”

“Ok” he replied and made his way back down the ladder since he didn’t want to chance bumping into Liz’s parents that early in the morning and having to explain anything.

Liz headed back inside and was in the midst of showering when the flashback hit. A flashback of the shower she took to rinse off Alex’s blood. And since it had been awhile since she’d had a flashback, she was unprepared for all of the emotions that usually accompanied it. And they hit her all at once: grief, helplessness, guilt, anger, horror. She slowly sunk down to the floor of the tub and bawled like a baby . . . hoping that the sounds of the shower would muffle her cries, but at the same time not really caring if it didn’t.

It was awhile before she was able to rise and step out.

Meanwhile, Michael could sense her grief downstairs, but knew this one she needed to work through alone, so he stayed in his seat. He knew she’d need to eat something when she came down so he ordered a big breakfast for both of them.

Feeling numb, Liz went about the rest of her morning routine. She brushed her teeth and washed her face and pressed a warm cloth against her eyes unsuccessfully trying to rid them of their puffiness. She then grabbed a pair of jeans and a t-shirt and put her hair into a ponytail. Her face settled into it’s usual blank look as she headed downstairs to face the world . . . when all she really wanted to do was just retreat from it.

And now she had to go and sit with Michael and try to allay his fears of her suicidal tendencies.

If she didn’t think it would make her cry, she’d laugh.

Truth be told, she was so far from hungry she didn’t even want to look at food. But she’d promised Michael she’d eat breakfast with him, so that’s what she’d do.

Maybe she could just get away with some toast and coffee. After all, Michael wasn’t her parents, who fussed over what she ate like eating would somehow make her ok. She was just so sick of people and the way they acted around her, as if treating her like an invalid somehow could make the pain less. She knew that they were just concerned about her, but it was just so hard holding it together just to make everyone else feel better.

And so she walked through the breakroom and into the Crashdown feeling just a little annoyed. She made her way over to Michael and noted he must have already ordered since there were 2 plates sitting on the table.

He had already started to dig in and was putting tabasco sauce on everything, as usual.

Liz felt that pang that she always felt when she saw one of them do this because it always reminded her of Max, but she pushed it away as she slid into the booth across from Michael. And it was only then that she looked at her plate and realized that Michael had ordered pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage and orange juice for her.

“Michael, I can’t possibly eat all of this . . .” she gestured at her plate in annoyance.

Michael, who had expected an argument, just continued to eat then looked across at her and said “You need a good breakfast, I’m treating, so eat up.”

Folding her arms defensively across her chest, Liz replied “So fine, I’ll pay for my own breakfast and then it won’t matter if I eat it.”

“Hasn’t anyone ever told you about the wasting of food and the starving kids in China thing?” Michael asked with his mouth full, obviously enjoying his breakfast.

“Yeah, lots of times and if I were in China, I’d give them my plate, but since I’m not, I think I’m just gonna have some toast and coffee” Liz countered.

“Look” Michael said in a softer tone “the coffee’s on it’s way and this food is already here. How about you just eat what you can and we’ll go from there, ok?”

Something in Michael’s voice told her that he understood what she was going through and he wasn’t just trying to give her a hard time, so she nodded and muttered “ok” as she pulled the offending plate closer.

They ate in silence and neither noticed when Isabel and Kyle entered a little while later. Isabel threw a puzzled look in their direction and after a moment’s pause, she dragged Kyle with her over to their table.

“What’s up guys?” she asked, looking from one to the other. In all the time she’d known them, she’d never seen these two voluntarily sit down and eat a meal together. Yet here they were.

“Not much” Michael replied as Liz said “Hey Isabel, Hey Kyle.”

“Hey guys” Kyle said.

Meanwhile Michael was so busy scarfing down his food he barely paid attention to the fact that Isabel and Kyle were still standing there awkwardly.

Liz, after throwing an annoyed look in Michael’s direction, slid over in the booth, patted the seat next to her and said “You guys should join us.”

“Ok” Kyle answered before Isabel could think of a nice way to turn her down.

Isabel threw Kyle a look because he knew she had a system going where her and Kyle would hang out together and somehow that kept some of the pain away for both of them. She usually avoided everyone else from their group because it was just too painful and just reminded her of it’s absent members. Even her and Michael had grown apart as he spent more time with Maria trying to comfort her. Which, she realized, left no one for Liz to lean on. And really, Liz probably needed comfort most of all.

And now that Isabel was taking a really good look at Liz Parker, she realized that she didn’t look good. She looked like she had lost weight, she had a slight smile on her face that didn’t reach her eyes, her eyes were puffy and had dark circles under them and she seemed to be pushing her food around on her plate rather than eating it. Initially, Isabel had no idea why she felt compelled to walk over to their table, but looking at her now, she knew that something about Liz virtually screamed that she needed help. The only question was how had she not noticed for so long?

Kyle slid into the booth next to Liz and after a second Isabel slid in next to Michael, who she had to push over a little to make room.

“Umph” Michael grunted as her elbow collided with his rib cage.

“What are you doing Iz?” Michael asked startled as some of the food he was eating flew at her.

“Say it, don’t spray it Michael!” she replied, disgustedly wiping food off the front of her shirt.

Liz suddenly laughed at the picture the two of them made. Michael looking put out because he had to stop eating to slide over and Isabel looking almost sick that food that had just been in Michael’s mouth was now on her shirt.

Everyone looked over at Liz surprised. They hadn’t heard anything even resembling a laugh from Liz Parker in a long time.

Feeling suddenly self-concious because everyone was staring at her, Liz’s smile flickered then faded as she turned her attention back to her plate.

Trying to take the spotlight off of Liz and also because he was starving, Kyle said “You know Parker, if you’re just going to play with that food, I’d be happy to take it off your hands.”

“Really?” Liz asked hopefully.

Michael opened his mouth to protest, but swallowed it at the scathing look Liz shot him.

“Sure, anything to help a friend” Kyle replied with a grin.

At that, Liz dropped her fork and happily pushed the plate over to Kyle.

“Well” Isabel stated “Unlike greedy boy over there, I’d like my own plate of food, thank you very much, so I’m gonna order something.”

At that she signalled to a waitress who was already headed over with coffee and mugs who promptly took Isabel’s order.

“Mmmm” Isabel sighed as she took her first sip of coffee.

Michael, finally finished with his breakfast, contentedly pushed his plate away and focused on the coffee in front of him.

Isabel spoke up first, since Kyle was busy devouring Liz’s leftovers like he hadn’t eaten in days. ‘What is with men and food this morning?’ she wondered, disgustedly tearing her eyes away from Kyle.

“So where’s Maria? Is she working this morning?” Isabel addressed both Liz and Michael.

“No” Michael answered, sitting back “her and Amy left for some mother/daughter bonding trip yesterday. They’ll be back in a week.”

Liz looked at him surprised, realizing that Maria had mentioned something about it to her Dad, but she really didn’t pay attention to what was being said. She and Maria barely talked to each other anymore.

Since they had been the two closest people to Alex, it was just too painful spending time together because the memories of the three of them always rushed in. But boy, did she miss her best friend, she realized suddenly. Not the Maria that she’d been since that terrible day, but the Maria of before who was a walking, talking ball of energy that never let anything really get to her.

Feeling Isabel’s gaze, Liz looked across at her and realized that she was looking back and forth between her and Michael questioningly. And Liz could just see the gears turning in Isabel’s head trying to figure out what holy or unholy powers had brought them together for a meal.

Michael meanwhile was busy putting more tabasco in his coffee, completely oblivious to the questions Isabel was about to bombard them with. But before she could, Kyle spoke up.

“So Isabel and I were going to head to this concert in the park today. You guys wanna join us?”

No one noticed the annoyed look Isabel shot Kyle across the table.

Michael answered “Nope, that’s ok man. The last time Maria and I went to a concert in the park, Maria got hold of some bad cookies and became convinced she was shrinking. It took me hours to convince her she wasn’t.”

Everyone around the table laughed at the image that evoked, because it seemed like such a Maria thing to do.

“Why would she eat cookies she got from someone at a concert anyway?” Isabel asked.

“You got me” Michael answered. “I turned around for a second and when I turned back, there she was with this huge cookie in her hand that she got from god knows where. I mean, you know Maria, she has such a sweet tooth. I just figured she’d gotten it from her purse or something.”

More laughter from everyone at that because Michael truly look baffled as to why Maria would do that. Not recognizing that it was just Maria’s innate ‘Maria-ness’ that made her do things like this. She really was a kid at heart.

Michael just shook his head grumbling something about strangers and candy to himself.

“So, who’s playing today?” Michael asked.

“Some local band” Isabel answered.

“Well, if some guy offers you cookies . . .” Michael began.

“Uh, Michael, you can save that warning for Maria . . . ” Isabel replied as her food arrived.

~*I had a smile*~
~*Streched from ear to ear*~


Liz sat there looking around at her three friends as they continued to talk, thinking it was almost like old times.

~*To see you walking down the road*~

She could even imagine that Maria was in the kitchen fixing an order and Alex and Max weren’t gone . . . that they were actually on their way here now and would be coming through the Crashdown doors any minute.

~*We meet at the lights*~

She even glanced at the doors for a minute . . .

~*I stare for a while*~
~*The world around us disappears*~


But then the food she’d just eaten turned over in her stomach with the acknowledgement that they wouldn’t be coming through those doors ever again and it wasn’t old times.

~*It’s just you and me*~
~*On my island of hope*~


These were new terrible times where one decision could cost you your love, your friends, your life . . .

~*A breath between us could be miles*~

You could lose it all in the space of a day. Liz looked around again, avoiding the eyes of everyone at their table and starting to feel claustrophobic.

~*Let me surround you*~

Her eyes finally settled on Isabel’s plate.

~*My sea to your shore*~

At the sight of food, Liz’s stomach turned over again and the little she had managed to eat became in serious danger of coming back up.

~*Let me be the calm you seek*~

She quickly rose, interrupting the chatter around the table.

~*Oh but every time I'm close to you*~
~*There's so much I can't say*~


Realizing her intent, Kyle got up to let her out of the booth and before she departed, she said “Well, um, ok guys, my shift is starting in a little while so I’d better go get changed. I’ll see you guys later.”

~*And you just walk away*~

And with that she rushed away from the table.

~*And I forgot to tell you I love you*~
~*And the night's too long*~
~*And cold here without you*~


She rushed through the breakroom doors and away from the 3 sets of sad eyes that followed her.

~*I grieve in my condition*~
~*For I cannot find the words to say*~
~*I need you so*~



~~~

Lyrics from “I Love You” by Sarah McLachlan


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 17-Feb-2003 9:42:10 PM ]
posted on 30-Dec-2002 10:38:53 PM
Chapter 5

Isabel could feel the sadness coming off of Liz in waves. ‘How had she made it this long carrying all that pain around?’ Isabel wondered silently.

“Is she gonna be ok by herself?” she asked aloud.

“I don’t know” Kyle answered.

When no response was forthcoming from the third party at the table, they both turned to look at Michael, who was still staring at the door Liz had gone through thoughtfully. He started when he realized that they were both staring at him curiously.

“What?” he finally asked then, nervously taking a sip of his rapidly cooling coffee. He was trying to sift through the emotions he was getting from Liz and there was one in particular that he found very puzzling.

“I just asked if Liz was gonna be ok by herself or should one of us go up and talk to her?” Isabel repeated.

Michael, suddenly coming to a decision, swiftly rose from the table, dropping some money down, and announced “I’ll go check on her.”

Isabel rose to let Michael out and he rushed towards the breakroom doors. As an afterthought, he threw over his shoulder “Have fun at the park!” and then he was gone.

Isabel and Kyle just stared after him confused.

Liz meanwhile had made it up the stairs and into the bathroom before the retching started.

Michael slowly walked up the stairs to Liz and her parents apartment, knowing he needed to give her time to finish losing her breakfast. When he got to the top of the stairs, he didn’t bother to knock since he knew Liz’s dad was downstairs, her mom had left out while he was ordering breakfast and Liz was too preoccupied to hear him knocking. He let himself in, but once in the apartment, he found himself feeling slightly flustered as to what to do. The sounds of Liz throwing up carried well into the living room, but Michael knew he wasn’t the hold-the-hair-back-while-someone-vomits type person, so he sat down on the couch to wait, knowing Liz would be out soon enough.

Liz continued to lose her breakfast in the bathroom. When she finished, she clung to the bowl for a minute, waiting for the room to stop spinning. When it did, she flushed, rose shakily to her feet and made her way over to the sink, where she assessed the damage. Her skin had a slightly greenish tint, her eyes appeared sunken in, and the dark circles under them seemed more pronounced now. She sighed and picked up the mouthwash. She figured maybe she should start buying the stuff in industrial size considering how often she used it. After gargling, she splashed some water on her face and headed towards the kitchen to see if she could find a cool compress. Her head was killing her!

She made it to the living room, only to discover Michael sitting on the sofa looking uncomfortable while waiting for her.

“What is it Michael?” Liz asked, sighing wearily because she wasn’t in the mood for this right now.

“I need to know why you feel so guilty Liz. I got a sense of it earlier, but now it’s practically the dominating emotion. You shouldn’t feel guilty over what happened. It’s not your fault they . . . that Max and Alex . . .” he swallowed “ . . . died.”

“Not my fault? Not my fault!” Liz wailed. “Do you know there was a second between when Alex turned the gun on himself and when he pulled the trigger that I just stood there and watched?!? And that I was the one who called Max to come over and heal Alex?!? That he would have been home safe if it wasn’t for me?”

Michael looked over at Liz, frustrated beyond belief that he couldn’t get her to realize that she had no reason to feel guilty. He perched on the edge of his seat and looked at her earnestly. “Liz, I don’t know what I can do to convince you that it’s not your fault! Any of us in your situation would have done the exact same things! We all would have called Max to try to heal Alex. We all would have been too in shock seeing Alex turn a gun on himself to try to stop him. And even you said that it was only a second’s pause! Look Liz, I’m not a big believer in God or anything, but I do believe there’s a plan in all of this. And I believe there’s a way to get through it, if we help each other and allow ourselves to be helped . . .”

“I used to believe in God Michael, but it’s so hard to now. How can you feel so sure that there’s a plan to all of this?” she asked him desperately.

“Because I can’t accept the alternative” he stated simply. “Everything that’s been happening to us has to be part of some bigger plan. Otherwise it’s all just chaos and . . . and pain . . . But if you look, I mean, really look, it all seems so clear . . . The three of us, me, Max and Isabel, had been on this planet for years and I never considered it home . . . until Maria . . . Now I can’t believe that someone so special came into my life because of random events. That just doesn’t make any sense to me. Does it make sense to you? Max always knew his home was with you . . . No matter how much me and Isabel tried to dissuade him, he held strong to that belief. And one day almost 2 years ago, fate stepped in and proved him right. Now, does that seem like coincidence to you? These are not just random events Liz. All of us aliens were walking around terrified, all the time, until you guys brought out our human sides . . . showed us, reminded us, that we are part human . . . showed us how to feel . . . We can’t change the past Liz . . . all we can do is accept it and move on . . .”

Liz jerked a little when he said that, but Michael didn’t seem to notice as he continued.

“What I’m trying to say is that we have to be thankful for the times we shared with them . . . treasure the memories we have so that they’ll continue to live on. Be thankful that we have each other to lean on. I think that we’re all meant to be here for each other. In a random universe, would I have been there to pull you back from that ledge? . . . And that’s what I’m trying to say . . . You need to let me be here for you. You and I both know it’s what Max would have wanted. And maybe that’s why I can sense you. Because the universe felt it was time for one of us to save you from yourself . . . You have to let me do this Liz. You have to let me help you. And in order to do that you have to let me in and stop doing this to yourself. Stop torturing yourself with the what-ifs, the could-of’s, should-of’s and would-of’s. They’re not helping you Liz. They’re destroying you . . .”

~*There’s a lot you don't know*~

“I can’t help it Michael . . . You don’t know . . . you can’t know what I did, how I changed the past . . . the future . . . How I made it worse! . . .” she wailed.

~*There’s a lot I can't tell*~

“What?” Michael said exasperatedly. “What are you talking about?”

~*Would you think I'm crazy*~
~*If you knew me that well*~


At this point, Liz started and looked at Michael like a deer caught in headlights, then blinked like she just then realized what she’d said. “Um . . .” she hedged, trying to figure out what to say to extricate herself from her slipup.

~*'Cause there's a lot you don't know*~

“Look” Michael began “there’s obviously more to this story than you’re telling me and I think you want to tell me, to tell somebody so that the huge burden of guilt you carry around can be lightened . . . Just tell me, ok?”

“Well . . .” Liz had no idea what she would say next. She was so tired of keeping secrets, of constantly questioning how what she’d done had changed the world. So she decided to tell Michael . . . maybe it really would help.

~*And you say . . . *~
~*You won't go and I'd like to believe you*~


“Liz?” Michael gently prompted her.

She started talking softly “Back in October of last year, I had a visitor. He came to me from the future . . . 14 years in the future and told me I had to prevent the world from ending . . . I . . . it was Max.”

Michael sat back stunned. Of all the things he’d expected Liz to say, this was not even on the radar screen! He regarded her curiously, not sure what to think.

~*But I know . . . *~
~*There's no one left to save me*~


Liz began pacing back and forth across the carpet looking down and clasping and unclasping her hands. Now that she had started talking, she found that it was a huge relief to finally tell one of the podsters what had happened.

~*I am the only one*~

“When Future Max first came to me, I was sure he was a shapeshifter or a skin, so I didn’t believe him. But he knew things that were gonna happen before they happened. Max . . . present day Max, um my Max serenaded me that night and Future Max knew it was going to happen. He knew so much that it was impossible to deny the truth. He really was from the future, a future so terrible that he came back to get me to help him change it . . .”

~*There's no one left to save me*~
~*I am the only one*~


“He said that in the original timeline, he and I . . . we . . . got back together and um . . . became inseparable . . . This fact caused Tess to leave and apparently she was vital to the group’s survival, because 14 years later earth was taken over and with you guys being one alien short, you couldn’t prevent it . . . In fact, Max, Future Max, said that you died just minutes before he came back and Isabel died just two weeks before that. . . . He said that the only way to prevent this was to change the pivotal event that caused Tess to leave. So he wanted me to get Max to fall out of love with me and fall for Tess. Michael, he spoke of his and my future . . . We were together till the end . . . the end of the world . . .”

“We got married at 19 and our wedding! All of you were there for our wedding . . . including . . . including Alex . . . But I changed it . . .”

~*There's no one left to save me*~

“I broke Max’s heart, because Max, Future Max, asked me to . . . I pretended to sleep with Kyle to convince Max it was over. I gave up everything to try to fix the future and I only made it worse! So do you see now Michael?!? Why I blame myself?!? This is all my fault!”

~*Is it all in my head*~
~*Or somehow is it truth?*~


By this time, tears were running down Liz’s face and she made her way over to a chair, sat down heavily and buried her head in her hands.

~*Was it something I said*~
~*I can offer no proof*~


This finally broke Michael out of his stunned trance and he rushed over to her, settled on the edge of her chair and put his arm around her, rapidly trying to sort through all she had told him. Amazed at what she’d done, what she’d given up for them. To try to secure their futures, she’d given up her own . . . her future with Max.

~*'Cause there's a lot you don't know*~

“Liz” he gently shook her to get her attention. She looked up at him through tear-filled eyes and he instantly felt protective of this little wasp of a girl. She was a part of their group, he corrected himself, part of their family and he needed to reassure her that she hadn’t done anything wrong.

~*And you say . . . *~
~*You won't go and I'd like to believe you*~


“Liz, you just threw a lot of information at me just now and I’m gonna need some time to sort through it, but the one thing I can say right now is that you should not, repeat, should not hold yourself responsible for what happened with Max and Alex. Neither of you could have known that the future would be changed in this way when the plan was devised. Hindsight is one of those things that can make you feel really bad or stupid or whatever after the fact. But what you have to keep telling yourself is that you made the best decision you could based on the information you had at the time.”

~*But I know . . . *~

“But that’s the thing Michael! We should have explored the possibilities first! Should have come up with a better plan! Should have . . . we should have . . .” at this Liz began sobbing heavily.

~*There's no one left to save me*~

Michael just tightened his arm around her and said “Liz, I don’t think there’s anything you could have done. All Future Max knew is that without Tess we were weakened. He didn’t know Tess was a psychotic bitch that would eventually turn on all of us. In that other timeline, she didn’t stick around long enough for anyone to find out. Bottom line is any plan that resulted in Tess staying in Roswell was already flawed. You have to try to remember that when that guilt starts pressing in on you.”

~*I am the only one*~

Liz sniffled a little, but her tears had slowed. ‘Who knew Michael could be a voice of reason?’ Liz was blown away by how much talking to Michael was helping her. For the second time in less than 24 hours Liz found herself saying “thank you” to Michael softly.

At this, Michael grumbled something that sounded like “you’re welcome” and stood up. He looked down at her and said “Don’t you have a shift starting in a few minutes?”

She was surprised. She had been so eager to get the story off her chest she’d forgotten all about work. She glanced at her watch and gasped. “Actually I’m twenty minutes late! I’d better go get changed. But thank you Michael!” And she found herself hugging him again in appreciation.

Michael lightly hugged her back and then broke away embarrassed. “Well, um, I’m gonna head out . . . I’ll see you later!” and he rushed out of the apartment.

Liz just shook her head and smiled a little at how quick Michael had beat a path out of there. All of the emotions and sharing were probably getting to him. But she was still so very grateful to whatever deity or power-that-be that sent him to help her. She went to the bathroom and tried to repair some of the damage done by crying with makeup. ‘It’ll have to do’ she thought while looking in the mirror. So she went downstairs to her locker and quickly changed into her uniform, alien-head apron, antennae and all.

Once she began working, she found that the day passed by relatively quickly and she realized that she felt somewhat lighter emotionally. The pain hadn’t lessened. It was always with her and so was the ache where her connection to Max had been, but the guilt had retreated. So she finished out her 7 hour shift and went upstairs to change and figure out what to do with the rest of her afternoon. As she crossed the living room, she began unbuttoning her dress when a button popped off and rolled under the sofa. She cursed softly and knelt down to reach under the sofa to get it. Her hand touched something metal and cold. She pulled it out and sat up. As she watched, it uncrumpled in her hand and reformed into a square piece of metal.

As her fingers jerked around it in surprise, the force of the flash that hit her was so powerful that the whole room went black as she passed out.

~*There's no one left to save me*~
~*I am the only one*~


~~~

Lyrics from “Save Me” by The Pierces



Note: The song in this section is from Jeremy Kay "Have it all"

Chapter 6

She awoke to someone calling her name. But everything was so foggy. And her hand was killing her. Why did her hand hurt so much? She fought to open her eyes and looked straight up into Michael’s concerned ones. He was sitting on the floor next to her and he had her head cradled on a pillow on his lap.

“What happened?” he asked her softly.

He had been so worried. He’d been sitting in his apartment watching a basketball game after talking to Maria for a half hour when he’d suddenly felt shock coming from Liz . . . Before he could process that, he felt her confusion, her fear, then grief, then pain, then just nothing. It was like she had simply stopped being. And he didn’t know what happened. What if she’d been attacked? What if she were dead? There were no words to describe how terrified he felt at that moment. So he rushed over to the Crashdown, nearly crashing Maria's car in his haste to get there quickly. And he found Liz stretched out on the floor in front of the sofa in her living room, not far from where he’d left her standing earlier in the day. He rushed over to her and thank god, she was still breathing, but she was clearly unconscious. Not wanting to jostle her too much since he didn’t know what happened, he’d grabbed a pillow from the sofa and sat her head in his lap and started trying to get her to wake up.

Right now she was looking at him with this really perplexed expression and he realized with a start that she was in pain!

“What’s wrong Liz? Where does it hurt?” Michael asked desperately.

“My hand Michael, my hand really hurts” she answered. At that she held up her hand and it was only then that she realized it was clenched closed around something. She unclenched it with effort and gasped in shock at the piece of metal that unfurled in her hand and the blood that started pouring from the cuts in her hand. She dropped the piece of metal quickly and sat up, cradling her hand against her.

Michael looked confused as he picked up the piece of metal that he’d been keeping in his pocket for months now. He wasn’t sure how Liz had gotten it, but whatever had happened had obviously involved it.

She went to look at her hand again to assess the damage, but the sight of the blood on her hand reminded her of the last time she’d had blood on her hands . . . Alex’s blood . . . and her eyes began to roll back in her head as she started to pass out again.

Michael looked up just in time to catch her before she collapsed back onto the floor and he said “Whoa Liz, what is it? What happened?!?”

Liz looked at Michael with wide, unseeing eyes “The b blood Michael! Alex’s b blood . . . all over my hands . . all over me . . . m my . . . my fault . . . It’s all my fault . . .” she began to draw inward as she wrapped her arms around herself and started to rock back and forth.

Michael realized she was having a flashback and tried to comfort her. “No Liz, it’s ok . . . This is your blood . . . Come on, let’s get you cleaned up.” And he guided her up and to the bathroom. She allowed herself to be guided numbly, not really paying attention, not really caring where he was taking her.

When they reached the bathroom, Michael wet a clean washcloth and carefully cradled Liz’s hand. He softly wiped the blood away and saw that the cuts weren’t too deep and the bleeding had already stopped. Liz winced a little, but otherwise barely acknowledged what was happening. When he was done, Michael held Liz’s hand up for her inspection and said “See Liz? It’s all cleaned up.” He was hoping that would snap her out of it.

Liz’s unseeing eyes slowly focused on her now clean hand and she blinked and looked around. Once again coming to look into Michael’s concerned eyes.

“Liz?” Michael asked uncertainly.

“I’m here Michael. I’m . . . I’m sorry I freaked out on you” she said embarrassed.

“It’s okay” Michael answered relieved. “Let’s go back into the living room so you can tell me what happened and how you got this” and he held up the square piece of metal.

Liz’s eyes widened as she looked at the piece of metal and suddenly the flash she’d gotten from it came back to her at full force. She took the last few steps to the sofa on shaky legs and sat down. Michael, sensing her sudden unease, came and sat beside her.

“Michael, I got a flash from that! I found it under the sofa. The flash Michael . . . it was like nothing I’ve ever felt . . . It . . it was Death, Michael, all around me . . .” Her eyes glazed over as she recalled the flash. “Everything was so unclear . . . there was this feeling of hopelessness and . . . and so much pain. It was more like impressions rather than actual images, but then . . . there was just nothing, like the pain had just stopped . . . like the person in pain had just given up. I . . . I don’t know what it means Michael, but it was terrifying . . . ”

“I’m sure, since it knocked you out it seems . . . And you got all that from this?” he asked, holding up the metal piece dubiously.

She blinked and looked at him.

“Yeah, why? Do you know what it is?” she queried.

“Yeah, uh . . . it’s mine” he said, looking over at her to gauge her reaction. Seeing her simply looking at him curious, he continued. “It must’ve fallen out of my pocket earlier when I was here. It’s actually uh, a piece of our ship that crashed . . . as you can kinda figure from it’s odd behavior it’s obvious it’s . . . otherworldly . . .” At that he crumpled it in his hands and then held his hand out and it returned to it’s original shape. “I got it from this former captain in the army, Hal Carver, that I met some months back who claimed he was around when our ship crashed in ’47. He showed me this piece of metal to prove he was telling the truth, then he let me keep it after I . . . after I showed him that uh . . . that I believed him.” At that last part, Michael couldn’t quite meet her eyes.

“Wow, ok” Liz said, slightly shocked. “But ok, that still doesn’t explain why I got a flash from it.”

“I know” Michael said puzzled as he returned his gaze to the piece of metal in his hands. “I’ve had it all this time and I never got anything from it.”

“I . . . I want to try again to see if I get another flash from it, to see if I can get a clearer flash from it, but not right now. The last one was a little too much for me” she said as she flexed her hand unconsciously and then looked down at it sitting in her lap.

“I understand” Michael said, as he stood and walked over to the window. He was actually trying to shake the feeling of dread that had curled in his stomach after hearing about Liz’s flash. And after the past 24 hours Liz had had, he realized that a good distraction was in order for the both of them.

Turning back to Liz, he asked “So what do you have planned for the rest of your day?” already making plans in his head.

Noticing Michael's sudden change of topic, Liz thought she’d try to lighten the mood herself as she replied “Oh, you know, the usual. Although I can’t decide which of my exciting activities to do first. There’s, you know, the always entertaining ‘stare at the wall’. Then there’s ‘stare at the sky’ which is good for some laughs. But, you know, really ‘stare at the clock’ beats out both of those . . . ”

Michael held up his hands “Ok, I get it, you have nothing planned. So, you wanna go catch Izzy and Kyle at that concert in the park?”

“Uh . . .” Liz hedged, thinking about the last time they all tried to get together, this morning not withstanding. It was about a month after Max and Alex’s deaths and Kyle had arranged for them all to get together, probably because he felt it would help Isabel. But what a mistake that had been! Everything was so awkward and strained and the pain going around the group was almost palpable. And then, just when things had started loosening up, Liz had mentioned something about Alex and the whole table had fallen silent.

‘Grief-girl strikes again’ Liz had thought to herself.. ‘Where there is joy, she will bring sadness. Where there is laughter, she will bring silence. For she is ‘Grief-girl’ . . . able to depress a whole table in a single bound’.

Which was why she felt uncomfortable about being around the group now. It inevitably seemed to lead to painful reminders.

“How about we just go and if we see them, we see them?” Michael said sensing her discomfort over the idea of them doing anything as a group.

Liz nodded her acquiescence, figuring that regardless, she could definitely use a break from herself.

“Just let me change first” she said, looking down at the Crashdown uniform she was still wearing.

Michael nodded and said “I’ll be downstairs” and headed out of the apartment to wait for her. Liz hurriedly changed and joined him downstairs. Then they were off to the park.

When they arrived, they found the crowd somewhat bigger than they expected, due to the fact that there simply wasn’t anything to do in Roswell most of the time, so when something did pop up, everyone went. So instead of trying to squeeze through all the people swarming about, they kept to the fringes of the crowd. The band playing was actually pretty decent and they were just finishing out one song and began another.

Some days I feel like crying
Don't matter if it’s rain or shine
I feel like my heart was broken
At least a million times


Liz’s eyes widened when the lyrics of the song hit her hard.

Some days I wake up dreaming
Feels like I never even woke
I answer life's big question
As if it's one big joke


And she tried to fight it when she felt the bile rising in her throat, but it was already too late.

Maybe it's too soon to be sure
But I really do believe that some day we're gonna have it all
So I try so hard to keep the rhythm of a train rolling right along
When the ride gets rough you got to carry on


She stumbled over to a tree, hoping Michael wouldn’t notice, but of course he did and trailed slowly behind her as she lost the last of what was in her stomach and after the dry heaves stopped, she leaned against the tree heavily trying to catch her breath and block out the rest of the song.

“So what was that about?” Michael asked softly.

“It was just the song. A little sensory overload” Liz hedged, deciding not to share that Alex used to play that song. ‘Grief-girl would not be making an appearance at this event’ she thought to herself silently. But then she grimaced at the horrid taste in her mouth, reminding her that Grief-girl had already visited.

Michael said “I’ll be right back” and walked off. Liz didn’t even look up. He was back less than a minute later and handed her a bottled water.

She took it gratefully and used it to rinse out her mouth, although it didn’t totally take the bad taste away.

“Tic tac?” Michael asked, pulling a pack out of his pocket and offering them to her.

Liz smiled the most wistful smile and took the pack, just staring at it contemplatively.

“What?” Michael asked. “What is it?”

“Alex” Liz said softly..

Michael patiently waited for her to continue, he could tell she needed to talk.

“Like a year ago, he really wanted to work at this computer store and he had been forcing me and Maria to practice with him for days to prepare for the interview. So anyway, we had practiced this one day right through lunch with me and Maria firing interview questions at him left and right, so we decided to order something to eat. Now Alex being Alex, he orders this burger with the works . . . fried onions, peppers and everything. Even saturn rings on the side. So, when he’s about to leave for the interview he starts getting really worried about his breath, so Maria offers him some tic tacs. He pops a couple in his mouth and walks out looking totally confident. He comes back like 20 minutes later looking totally dejected and just sits down and drops his head onto the counter. So Maria and I look at each other and then walk over to him. He doesn’t even acknowlege us. So Maria asks him what happened, did they not offer him the job? And still without looking up he tells us he didn’t even get that far. Apparently when he went in, he and the manager of the store sat down at a table and the manager asked him the first interview question and just as he began to answer, one of the tic tacs just goes flying out of his mouth and lands on the table between the two of them. Alex said he was so mortified that he just grabbed the tic tac remnant off the table and rushed out before the guy could say anything.”

Michael laughed softly at the story and Liz began to join him, but just as she’d feared earlier, her laughter quickly dissolved into sobs and Michael put his arm around her and waited for her cries to subside.

“Is this what it’s been like for you Liz, since they died?” Michael asked her. “The throwing up, the flashes, the nightmares, and the crying?”

“It’s been bad since that day” Liz acknowledged. “But in the past few weeks, it’s just gotten worse. That’s why I couldn’t stand it anymore Michael . . . It’s getting worse instead of better.”

Michael’s arm tightened around her and he said “It’s gonna be ok Liz. We’ll get through this together, I promise.”

Liz just nodded numbly and continued staring straight ahead.

Neither of them noticed the menacing figure standing just a few feet away, looking at them speculatively.

posted on 30-Dec-2002 10:41:31 PM
Lyrics used in this chapter are from Peter Gabriel's "I Grieve"


Chapter 7

The concert ended with thankfully no further throwing up or crying spells and Michael and Liz wandered back to Maria’s car, not having seen Kyle or Isabel anywhere.

“So what now?” Michael asked, trying to think of what they could do next to pass the time.

“I think I want to try holding that piece of metal again” Liz replied quietly.

Michael looked over at her surprised. “Are you sure?” he asked. Not even sure if he was ready to find out what that vision was actually about. That sense of foreboding had stayed with him since Liz had told him about the vision earlier and he just sensed that whatever it was, it was going to change everything . . . and not for the better.

“Yes” Liz replied. “I just have to know what that was. I get the sense that it was really important.”

“Ok” Michael said, trusting her instincts. “Just, if we’re gonna do this, we probably should go to my place, just in case you pass out again. I don’t want to have to explain anything weird to your parents.”

That made sense to Liz. Even though she had been so focused on her determination to try again, that she hadn’t thought about the fact that the flash might knock her out again.

“Ok” was Liz’s reply as they just then reached the car. She climbed in the passenger seat next to Michael and they rode to his apartment in silence. Both occupied with their thoughts of what the flash might have meant.

When they pulled up to his building, they climbed out of the car and treaded inside. Michael unlocked the door and snapped on the light, throwing his keys on the counter.

Liz noted the empty snapple bottles on the coffee table and the half-empty pizza box without comment.

Michael shrugged and said “I gave the cleaning lady the day off.” He didn’t feel the need to mention that he’d rushed out too quickly earlier to bother to clean up.

“So, ok, are you ready to do this?” he asked, trying to distract Liz from examining his apartment too closely. He knew it wasn’t the cleanest place ever, but he liked that he knew exactly where everything was.

“Yeah” Liz nodded, focusing on the matter at hand and sitting down next to him on the couch.

“You’re sure you want to do this?” Michael asked, hesitantly pulling the piece of metal out of his pocket.

“As sure as I’m ever gonna be” Liz replied, rubbing her suddenly sweaty palms on her jeans and then grimacing when the cuts on her hand reminded her of what the metal had done the first time.

“Maybe you should try the other hand this time” Michael said, noticing how she was examining her hand.

“No, it’s ok . . . It’s not like I want two injured hands instead of one” she said as she held her hand out for the metal piece.

Michael placed it into her outstretched palm and watched her hand close reflexively around it. He looked up into her eyes and watched her pupils dilate suddenly, then her eyes rolled back in her head and she just collapsed back against the sofa.

~~~~

She was standing in nothingness.

Her head turned slowly from side to side, trying to figure out where she was. Everything was just so muddled and she fought to clear the air around her so that she could see clearly. That’s when she realized that she wasn’t alone. Isabel was laying just a few feet away . . . only she wasn’t breathing and there was a trail of blood coming from her nose and mouth.

Liz wanted to go to her, but she couldn’t move. And the realization that Isabel was already gone nearly brought her to her knees it was so intense.

But before she could get a handle on these emotions and try to make it over to Isabel, Kyle stepped out of the murkiness. He looked at Isabel and then started to walk toward her with a completely anguished expression on his face. She saw a bright light and then he suddenly faltered and fell and she knew without checking that he was also dead. At that she cried out and fell to her knees, sobbing furiously, because she couldn’t understand what was happening. She gathered herself to prepare to stand, but then she realized that her hands were strangely wet. She looked down, confused, and saw a deep gash in her stomach, bleeding furiously. And that’s when the physical pain began . . . unbearable, tormenting, crippling pain.

Nothing was making sense! What was happening?

She looked up, pleading with whatever deity was toying with her to undo all of this, but when she looked back over at her friends, Michael stumbled forward, holding his stomach and bleeding furiously. But before he could make it over to her, another bright light hit and he collapsed. Liz cried out and crawled over to him even though she knew it was too late. And when the next bright light hit, aimed at her, she just gave up and let the darkness rise up to get her thankfully.


~~~~~

Michael sat next to her silently. She had been out for fifteen minutes now. He had ceased feeling any emotions from her about a minute ago, but what he’d felt before that had made him incredibly anxious. He didn’t know if he should try to wake her or not. But as he watched, Liz suddenly lunged up from the sofa, gasping for air.

“Liz, it’s ok . . . It’s ok” he said to her soothingly. “You’re okay. It was just a dream . . .” he said as he patted her back awkwardly and removed the metal piece from her hands, noting that this time it hadn’t produced any new cuts.

Liz turned frightened eyes to him and his breath caught in his throat, because whatever she’d seen must have been terrifying.

~*It was only one hour ago*~
~*It was all so different then*~


“What? What is it Liz?” Michael asked, although he was afraid of her answer.

~*Nothing yet has really sunk in*~

As if the question had turned off some light inside her, Liz’s eyes clouded over and her gaze moved away from him to focus on the wall.

~*Looks like it always did*~

“We’re all gonna be killed . . . ” she said in an almost detached way. But what disturbed Michael most was the incredibly haunted look in her eyes that he hadn’t seen since the day Alex and Max died . . .

~*This flesh and bone*~
~*It's just the way that we are tied in*~


Michael’s mind was working furiously, trying to figure out what she was saying and what it might mean. “What do you mean Liz? . . . What did you see?”

~*But there's no one home*~

She stood and looked back at him. “I saw us Michael . . . Me, you, Kyle and Isabel . . . We all died.”

~*I grieve . . . for you*~
~*You leave . . . me*~


She stepped over to the door. “Michael, I’m really tired. Could you take me home now?”

~*So hard to move on*~
~*Still loving what's gone*~


And he could sense it within her. Instead of the grief and pain that usually radiated from her, all he could sense now was resignation.

~*Still life carries on*~

And he was shocked. She had given up. Whatever she’d seen had just obliterated the last of her will . . .

~*Carries on and on and on . . . and on*~

~~~~


Michael sat in the Jetta outside the Crashdown. Liz had long since vacated the passenger seat, yet he just couldn’t bring himself to leave, knowing the state she was in.

And the nagging questions in the back of his mind just kept buzzing around, demanding answers.

‘What if Liz were right? What if they were all about to die? Shouldn’t he get as much info as possible and warn the others so that they could be on the defensive? Shouldn’t he do something?’

He had tried, without success, to question Liz further about her vision. But she had gone into an almost catatonic state once she’d gotten into the car and nothing he said seemed to get through. And all he could sense from her was that god-awful resignation.

But something warned him against pressing her too hard, because he could sense that her hold on things was tenous at best and forcing her to recall a vision that showed her the deaths of her friends could very well send her over the edge into a despair she might never recover from.

Still Michael didn’t feel comfortable leaving her in that state so he scooted down in the Jetta, trying to make himself comfortable since he’d be sleeping outside the Crashdown tonight.

~~~~

Liz went inside, passing her parents, who she dimly remembered to greet and continued her way upstairs to her bedroom. There she began her nightly routine.

Routine . . . maybe that’s all life boiled down to. Maybe that’s all that kept people sane. And maybe that’s why she was losing it now, she thought to herself. Oh, she knew she didn’t appear to be losing it, but that’s because she’d shut herself down before it could truly kick in. The unfairness of it all . . . Why it seemed to be picking off members of their group one by one. The ironic thing was the ledge was no longer calling to her, because she didn’t need it to die anymore. If her vision was correct, all she had to do was wait it out and death would come to her. She laughed mirthlessly at that fact.

Another ironic fact was that this was the first night in a long time that she didn’t actually dread sleep. Sleep was the least of her worries tonight. So, she figured, if sleep actually visited her tonight, she wouldn’t turn him away.

And with that she climbed into bed. It took only moments for her to fall into a deep sleep.

~~~~

She was sitting outside in the lounge chair on her balcony. But, something was wrong. She hadn’t fallen asleep on the balcony, she’d actually laid down in her bed for once.

So why was she here now?

“Because I have something to show you Liz.” The female voice was so slight it seemed to float on the wind past her ears.

Liz jumped up from the lounge chair. “Who’s there?” she asked, sensing that she shouldn’t be afraid, but afraid nonetheless. Her subconscious hadn’t been kind to her lately, she had good reason to be nervous, she reasoned.

“Who I am is not important” the voice said. Yet Liz could sense a kindness in her tone that allowed her to expell some of the breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding.

“See with your heart Liz . . .” the voice said. And suddenly Future Max was standing just a few feet away. Liz’s breath caught in her throat, seeing a future that could no longer be.

“Why? Why are you showing this to me?” she cried out in anguish. “This isn’t real, I changed this!”

“It’s ok child . . . Just look . . . You have to know what to see . . .” and with that Future Max stepped over to the side of the building, not far from where Liz used to hide her journal, moved his hand over a brick and then slid it out and tucked something inside. What it was, Liz couldn’t tell since he was facing away from her.

“What just happened?” she called out into the night.

“Shh child . . . It’s gonna be alright . . . For as you’ve already learned, time runs both ways . . .”

“What? What did he hide in there? What does all of this mean?” Liz cried out, but already she could feel the presence starting to drift away from her and the night shimmered around her and suddenly she was alone.


~~~~

She came awake slowly, trying to understand what had just happened . . . whether it had been just a dream or something more. And she glanced at the clock . . . 7:15 . . . There was only one way to find out if the dream had been real.

So she got up, threw on a robe and trudged out to the balcony. Once there, she attempted to stand where she thought she’d seen Future Max stand in her dream and looked at the bricks in the wall.

‘Well, if this isn’t a needle in a haystack’ Liz thought wryly. Still she began checking the bricks, looking for one lose one.

She was just about to give up when she found it.

Wonderingly, she pulled the brick out and looked inside. She saw a folded piece of paper that she quickly withdrew and behind that was a slender, oblong crystal. She pulled that out too and sat down in her lounge chair to read.

~~~~

Michael climbed the steps of the ladder to Liz’s balcony slowly. Trying to prepare himself for the worst, because he didn’t dare believe that the emotion he’d thought he’d felt coming from her was real.

Yet, as he ascended the final steps and Liz came into view sitting on the lounge chair, she looked over at him with a smile playing around her lips and he saw it in her eyes.

Hope.



[ edited 4 time(s), last at 22-Feb-2003 3:48:42 AM ]
posted on 30-Dec-2002 10:42:39 PM
Note: The next two chapters are pivotal! *wink* . . . Now on with the show!


Chapter 8

“ ’Morning Liz” Michael tentatively said, not sure what to say to a suddenly cheerful Liz in the wake of her vision yesterday.

“Michael!” Liz exclaimed. She got up. Then sat back down. All the while fidgeting with the letter in her hand.

“Michael, there’s no way I could explain this to you, so here! Read!” and with that she thrust the letter into his hands and picked up the crystal she had set down and began to study it again.

Michael took the letter from her and sat down to read it, extremely curious about this letter that had given Liz back her hope.

It began:

My Dearest Liz,

If you’re reading this letter, it means that our plan of altering the future must have resulted in a future far worse than the original and that the fate of the world is now at stake. I know this because these are the only conditions under which you were to be contacted about the existence of this letter.

I recognized that in coming back to change the future, that things might become worse instead of better. Fate is not a thing to be toyed with, as we did. I say Fate because it is obvious that no matter the lifetime, you and I are meant to be together, so any reality that attempts to alter that could end badly. Although Romeo and Juliet is beginning to seem like our story. Romantic, yet tragically doomed.

But I digress.

There is much to do now, for you must once again attempt to change the past. And I’m sorry to ask this of you, but you are the one person who has the power to fix this. As I recognized when I came back and asked for your help. Now I’m sure you doubt this, but you are strong Liz. Stronger than even you give yourself credit for. You can change this reality that you’re living in. You can fix this.

I’m assuming you have already started having the visions.

This was true in my timeline also. They have probably shown you great death and destruction that you are somehow powerless to prevent. These visions happened in my timeline too, but they were too late to prevent Isabel’s death, as they were probably too late to prevent the death of one or more members of our family in yours. I say, ‘family’ for that is what we came to see ourselves as, as time went on and we faced many battles together. I must tell you that these visions signal the beginning of the end.

In my timeline, they signalled the end of the world.

Which is why I brought an extra crystal behind for you to use to go back. So go back my love and reclaim all that you have lost. I’m sorry to lay such a large task on your delicate shoulders, but as I have said, you are strong my Liz. Stronger than you could ever imagine. I have seen it time and again in my years with you and I saw glimpses of it with you tonight, seeing how strong you were in a task that I know broke your heart.

Just remember what I've always told you.

We create our own Destiny.

With all my love,
Max


Michael looked over at Liz who had now focused her attention on his reaction to the letter and shocked brown eyes met dancing, happy ones. Liz saw the questions in his so she waited for him to speak.

“How . . .? Where . . . ? What . . . ?” Michael shook his head. He couldn’t seem to form a coherent sentence. There were so many questions swimming around in his head, he couldn’t figure out what he wanted to know first.

Liz decided to try to answer what she thought Michael was trying to ask. “Well” Liz began with a smile “you asked ‘how?’ first so I’ll start with that. I had a visitor in my dream last night. She wouldn’t tell me who she was or even let me see her, but she did show me Future Max hiding the letter and the crystal, so I looked for them this morning when I woke up.

“Now your next question was ‘where?’ Well, it turns out Future Max had hidden them behind a brick in the wall right over there.” And she pointed to where she’d found the items.

“Now your ‘what?’ question, I’m not really sure about because I don’t know what the rest of the question was gonna be, but I’m assuming you were gonna ask what we’re supposed to use the crystal on to time travel. Well, that answer is simple . . . the granolith.” And she let that hang in the air since she knew it would be a shock to digest.

“The granolith?!?” Michael finally spoke. He was still nearly blown away by the letter, but then finding out that they could use the granolith for time travel was mind boggling.

“Yeah, apparently with this crystal, the granolith can be used to travel in time. Although the ‘how’ of that, I’m not really sure about, but I’m sure we can figure it out” she said confidently. She was just so happy that things could be changed. That they could bring Max and Alex back. Alive.

“So what are we waiting for?” Michael said impatiently as he began to rise. “Let’s go!”

“Okay Michael, just let me get changed out of my pajamas” she said giddily. Not even minding Michael rushing her. Not minding anything in that moment.

~~~~

As they rode out to the pod chamber, Michael began to question her more about her dream.

“So when you say that you had a visitor in your dream last night, do you mean someone ‘dreamwalked’ you?”

Liz contemplated his question. “You know, I hadn’t really thought of it that way, but I guess, yeah, someone dreamwalked me” she said in surprise, knowing that the only person they knew who could do that was Isabel.

“So who was this person? She didn’t tell you anything about herself?”

“No, in fact, when I asked her, she said that who she was wasn’t important. Then she showed me Future Max hiding the letter and crystal, said something really cryptic about time running both ways . . . which of course makes sense now . . . and then she was gone.”

Michael absorbed all of this in silence, recognizing that Liz had told him everything she knew.

They rode the rest of the way out to the pod chamber in silence, both consumed by their own thoughts. Liz reread the letter from Future Max for what seemed like the hundredth time, soaking in Max’s familiar handwriting, marveling that even after fourteen years, it hadn’t changed much. She could hardly believe that the letter was real and not just some figment of her imagination.

But it was real and it was here and she could take it all back. All the bad things that had happened. They could all be fixed.

There had never been a sweeter thought.

As they left the town behind and drew closer to their destination, Michael thought about how often he’d taken this road to go out to the pod chamber since Max’s death. It hurt like hell that Max was gone. Which shouldn’t have been surprising, but it still was. He knew he’d cared about Max, loved him like a brother in fact. But he’d never imagined losing him would feel like he’d lost a vital part of himself, like an arm, a leg, or even a lung.

The pain was sometimes more than he could bear.

So he’d ride out to the pod chamber on his motorcycle every once in a while, because somehow coming out to the place where Max was buried, and the last place he’d been alive, helped.

Sometimes he’d just walk around outside the pod chamber and have silent conversations with Max in his head. And he said all the things he felt he should have said to Max when he was alive. The conversations were almost always the same, but it helped to purge his soul of some of the pain and some of the guilt he felt over the way things had happened.

‘Liz wasn’t the only one with a claim to guilt over Max and Alex’s deaths’ he thought to himself as he glanced over at her. But she appeared to be completely immersed in the scenery rushing past her window.

Liz barely noticed the scenery beyond her window as they drew closer to the pod chamber. The last time she’d come here was the day they’d gone looking for Max and found him dead inside. She’d been there when they buried him outside the pod chamber. ‘So many sad memories in this place’ she thought. But they were going to fix that. She glanced over at Michael and noticed that he looked somber also. She reached over and touched his arm and said “We’ll fix this Michael. We will.”

He turned to her with a grateful smile, surprised, but only slightly that she knew what he’d been thinking in that moment. But of course she’d know, she’d probably been thinking the same things. But as she said, this was their chance to fix things.

Michael pulled off of the highway and onto the desert floor that would lead them to the pod chamber, jostling them both back to the matter at hand. When he pulled to a stop in front of the rock formation, they both jumped out of the car and Liz followed Michael as he steadily climbed up the rocks. They both glanced over at the marker that marked where Max was buried, but neither of them spoke. As they continued their trek upward, Liz’s heart was pounding in her chest thinking about Max. But she shook these thoughts away so that she could focus on the matter at hand.

Upon arriving at the entrance, Michael waved his hand over a particular section and a silver handprint appeared. He placed his hand over it and the entrance to the chamber slid open, beckoning them forward. They stepped inside and Michael made sure that the entrance closed securely behind them. Liz consciously blocked out the image of the last time she had been here when Max had been slumped over on the opposing wall and focused on Michael moving forward in the chamber. Gathering strength from what they were here to do, she followed Michael through one of the pods and into the chamber beyond to where the granolith was held.

Liz hadn’t noticed before, since she had never actually seen it inside the chamber, but the granolith was truly an impressive site. The base had a metallic ring around it, but the center was bevelled glass that shone with a strange incandescent light. The light shined into the structure itself, which was thin at the bottom and spread out into a conical shape and stood to the ceiling. It appeared to be composed of metal, probably the same kind that the ship had been composed of since the crash in the desert didn’t seem to have damaged it at all. It also seemed to be emitting a light humming sound, which was probably from the vibrations of it’s energy.

‘They were really about to try this’ she thought nervously. And as she looked at Michael, she realized that they must both be feeling the gravity of the situation, because the feeling of apprehension she’d suddenly had was mirrored in his expression.

Michael spoke first. “So . . . How do you think this works Liz?” he said, nervously rubbing his palms against his jeans.

“I don’t know Michael. Let’s just look for a place to insert the crystal and go from there” she replied.

They both began circling the structure, looking for openings. Then Liz’s voice broke the silence. “Found it!” she cried excitedly. It was about halfway around the structure in it’s base. There was a slot that she could tell would probably fit the crystal. Michael quickly joined her and they both peered down at the opening.

“Ok, so what do we do now?” Michael asked. “I mean, I know we insert the crystal. But how do we tell it where we want to go and what day we want to go to, etc?”

Liz chewed on her bottom lip as she contemplated their dilemma and her scientific mind kicked into overdrive. “Well” she began “if the granolith was never meant to work for time travel . . .”

“What?” Michael interrupted aghast. “Why do you say that?”

“Future Max told me. He said the granolith had to be altered to work for time travel and since all he left was this crystal, the crystal must be all the altering it needs.”

At that she began studying the crystal to find anything unusual in it’s makeup that would show her what they had to do to feed it information.

After a few minutes of watching her examine the crystal, Michael finally said “You know what I think? I say the only way to figure out how this thing works is to just try it.” At that he pulled the crystal out of Liz’s grasp.

“What do you mean Michael?!? That seems like too drastic a way of figuring things out.” But then she remembered this was Michael she was talking to. In the time she’d known him, he had mastered the art of acting now and thinking later.

“We’ll never know if we don’t try” he said and then reached down and inserted the crystal into the machine before Liz could say anything further. She just stood by speechless as the crystal glowed with a bright light and the machine hummed to life all around them. The granolith almost seemed to be spinning as a bright light shot through the base and into the opening above. Michael met Liz’s surprised stare with a slightly triumphant one and said “Well at least we know it’s working.” And then he pressed his palm flat against it’s surface, not sure if that would accomplish anything.

The sounds around them became even more racuous.

Suddenly a bright light lit up the chamber and Liz was thrown to the ground just as Michael dissapeared from beside her and as she sat up, he appeared inside the granolith inside of a swirling incandescent light. She turned a shocked gaze to him to find him looking slightly disoriented. But then he began to look excited at the idea that everything seemed to be working. But just as he thought that, the sounds around him began to decrease and die down and he felt himself coming apart again and found himself once again standing outside the granolith.

Liz rushed over to him. “What happened?” she asked.

“I don’t know” he answered breathlessly. “One minute everything was fine and then the next . . . it’s like it spit me out” he said disgruntledly, bracing his hands on his knees to catch his breath and then straightening up.

Liz hit him once in the shoulder. Hard.

“Ow!” Michael grunted, rubbing his shoulder. “What was that for?”

“For scaring the living daylights out of me with that stunt! We can’t go at this half-cocked Michael. If we want this to work, we’ve got to be careful and meticulous. We’ve only got one crystal. We only get one chance.”

Realizing how foolhardy what he’d just done was, Michael dropped her gaze and mumbled a gruff “Sorry.”

Liz’s tone softened. “Michael, it’s ok. One good thing that came out of this is we know what will happen now if there’s no info fed to the crystal. Speaking of which” Liz once again began to chew on her bottom lip. “Maybe it’s because we haven’t programmed a destination, so it just powered back down. But” and Liz pepped up. “This just means we need to think this through first” and she shot a pointed look at Michael, who avoided her gaze. “But it’s definitely a fixable problem. Just give me a day to ponder and I’ll come up with something. Max had confidence that I’d be able to figure this out, so we’ll just have to have confidence too.” At that she bent down and pulled the crystal back out of the granolith and slid it into her pocket. She then glanced at her watch and said “Well, if we’re not gonna be traveling back in time today, I guess I’ll have to get back to the crashdown in time for my shift.”

Michael grudgingly agreed, but sent one last longing look at the granolith before following her out of the chamber.

~~~~

All day at work, Liz pondered the possibilities of how to get the granolith to work, but every solution she came up with was just as quickly discarded. She was starting to feel a little frustrated and the hopeful looks Michael kept shooting at her from the pickup window where he was working weren’t exactly helping her thought processes.

At some point, what seemed to Liz like the longest day in history finally ended and all of the customers had departed. Liz and Michael worked in silence cleaning the restaurant and found themselves the last people there. By silent agreement, when they were done they both sat down in a booth to talk. Liz started since Michael was obviously waiting to hear from her.

“Look Michael, I was thinking . . . Maybe we should tell Isabel, Kyle and Maria about this. They might have some ideas about how to get the crystal to work . . . ” and she trailed off at the look on his face.

“Yeah, ok. So we just announce to them that you had a vision of all of us dying . . .”

“Not Maria” she interrrupted.

Michael continued as if she hadn’t spoken “ . . . of all of us dying and that the world will most likely end if we don’t somehow figure out how to travel back in time and change it” he said sarcastically.

“Well, when you put it that way it just sounds ridiculous . . . and terrifying . . . But look Michael, it’s no worse than what we’ve already faced. And if there’s any possibility that they might be able to help, how can we not tell them? This effects them too, you know.”

Michael dragged his hand down his face wearily and sighed, suddenly feeling very tired. “I know” he replied. “Look, ok, I just don’t want to worry everyone unneccesarily” and he held up his hand to ward off the protest he could see was about to come from Liz. “I don’t want to worry them unnecessarily if there’s even a possibility that we can figure this out without them. It’s just, things have already been so hard for everyone, you know?”

At that, Liz dropped her gaze to her lap and nodded. No one knew better than her how hard things had been lately.

“So ok” Michael said, trying to distract Liz from her dark thoughts. “How about you sleep on it tonight. Who knows, maybe you’ll get another visit from that mystery lady of yours. And if we’re no closer to an answer tommorrow, we’ll tell them everything. Ok?”

“Ok” Liz replied, thinking that it sounded like as good a plan as any. She began to rise from the booth “So ok, if that’s decided, I think I’m gonna turn in. It’s been a really long day.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean” Michael said as he followed her through to the breakroom. “I’ll see you tommorrow Liz. Make sure you lock this door behind me” he said as he stepped out of the back door and into the alley.

“Drive home safely Michael, I’ll see you tommorrow” she replied and watched him walk over to Maria’s car and get in. He waved at her as he started the car. Liz waved back and closed the door and locked it.

She knew she’d have no trouble getting to sleep, because she felt like she hadn’t slept in days. She flipped off the lights and wearily climbed the steps to her apartment and just barely finished getting ready for bed before she fell onto her bed and into a deep sleep.

~~~~

Once again, she was sitting out on her balcony with no knowledge of how she’d come to be there. Was this a dream?

“Yes it is, my child. I brought you here because there is still much to tell you” the now familiar voice floated to her.

“Can you tell me how to work the granolith?” Liz asked.

“Of course. But first you need to know about time . . .”

“What about it?” Liz asked.

“All of you. Your time is running out. There is not much time left now . . . You are not long for this reality . . . None of us are . . .”

“What does that mean? What does any of this mean?” Liz cried frustratedly.

“My child, calm down, Everything will be explained . . . But you should know that the enemy is close . . . closer than they’ve ever been. And they have or will soon have all the information they need. There isn’t much you can do here anymore, but you can go back and make sure that this reality never happens.”

“That vision . . . Do you mean I can’t prevent my friends from d dying here?”

“Yes, that’s exactly what I mean.” Liz let out an anguished cry.

“Liz . . . you must focus on moving backwards, the rest will take care of itself.”

“How? How do you know all of this?”

“I just do” was the elusive answer Liz received.

“Why is this happening now? This didn’t happen the first time right?” Liz asked.

“No. In that other timeline, it took fourteen years for your enemies to be strong enough to attack and win. But in this timeline, since they know the King is gone, it has made them bold . . . “

Trying to gather her thoughts, Liz asked “So how do we get the granolith to work?”

“You. You must work the granolith. You must be the one to go back.”

“But . . . but Michael has powers . . . He can go to Max . . .”

“Your were the one who changed things in this reality. You are the one who will have to change them back. Anyone else who tries will fail . . . ”

Absorbing that information and frightful that the dream might end before she found out everything she needed to know, she asked “So how do I get the granolith to work?”

“You have to impart the information through your powers to the crystal.”

“Powers? I don’t have any powers.”

“Yes, you do, my child. Even now they lay dormant below the surface. Can’t you feel the changes inside of yourself? The energy that moves around inside you?”

Liz sat back, stunned and tried to assess herself. She realized there was a restless energy inside of her now, but she had never really noticed it before.

“But I don’t understand” she said out into the night. “Where did I get these powers? What am I capable of? How do I use them?”

“I can only tell you what you need to know. And that is that all of your questions will be answered in time. You will know how to use your powers when the need for them arises.”

Liz’s head was spinning with all of this new information about herself.

“But you have to know Liz . . . You’ve not a long time to live . . . The ones that will kill you? You can not hope to defeat them. None of you can, not without Max. And when the time comes, your body will not be in a state to use the granolith. Only your essence will be able to go . . .”

“I don’t understand! I’m about to die? Then how will I go back?” Liz cried desperately.

“You will need to separate your essence from your body and send it into the granolith. Michael will help you. Just recall what Max did a long time ago with someone you loved before she died . . . ”

“Who? Who are you talking about?”

“You already know Liz . . . Just see with your heart and you will have all of the answers you need . . .”

Her voice was already fading away and Liz knew it was too late to ask any more questions.


~~~~

She woke from the dream suddenly. Sitting up in bed, the name just tumbled from her lips:

“Grandma Claudia”


posted on 30-Dec-2002 10:44:42 PM
Chapter 9

Liz remembered it all. She remembered when her Grandmother had been in the hospital after having a stroke and she had begged Max to try to heal her. He had been unable to, saying that what was happening to her Grandmother was natural and his powers couldn’t alter what was happening naturally. But he had managed to somehow get her Granmother outside of her body so that she and Liz could talk one last time before she died. And suddenly she knew that that was how Michael would be able to get her essence into the granolith.

She sat up in bed, glancing at the clock . . . 7:05. She jumped up to get ready for the day, knowing there was much to do and if Michael was in any way predictable, he would be there soon.

She got ready quickly and headed outside to her balcony to wait.

True to form, Michael’s head appeared over the railing about 5 minutes later and she jumped up.

Michael was surprised with the impatience radiating off of her, but underlying that he also sensed dread. Before he could say anything, Liz spoke.

“Michael, we have to go, there isn’t a lot of time and we have to get started.” He was about to ask when she said “I’ll tell you along the way,” hustling him back towards the railing.

Michael stopped for a second and said “Ok, fine, but I have to have some coffee and at least a donut before we head out of here.”

Liz opened her mouth to protest, but decided to allow Michael this since they’d need all the energy they could get if her visitor last night was right. So Michael headed downstairs and she went back inside to come down from the apartment. She bumped into her Dad coming from the storage room in back.

“Oh, Lizzie! I need for you to make a delivery for me in Bitter Lake. It’s really important that we get the old smoothie machine there this morning if we want it fixed by the end of the week.”

“But Dad . . . I have some things to do today that are kind of important . . .” she trailed off as she saw the pleading look on her fathers face.

“Lizzie, please . . . I wouldn’t ask you to do it if there were any one else that could! . . . Look, if you do this for me, I’ll find someone to take over your shift for this evening. How about that?” he asked imploringly.

Liz relented, figuring that they could continue to the pod chamber from there. “Ok, Dad, I guess I’ll get Michael to drive me there since he has Maria’s car this week, so your car will still be here if you need it for anything.”

“Great Liz. Thanks!” he said as he patted her on the shoulder enthusiastically.

“I’ll just go find Michael and tell him” and she headed through to the Crashdown to find Michael standing at the counter, obviously picking up take-out orders for both of them.

“Michael, change of plans there buddy” she said as she patted him on the shoulder. “We have to make a delivery for my dad in Bitter Lake. Can you move the car to the back door so we can load Samantha inside?”

“Samantha? Who’s Samantha?” he asked confused.

“The old smoothie machine. Maria named her when she first started working here.” Liz smiled fondly at the memory. “Anyway, we have to get moving. You’ll understand once I explain.”

“Ok” Michael said. “I’ll just take the food to the car and I’ll come around to the back to get the machine.”

“Ok.”

Liz met him around back and soon they were on their way to Bitter Lake with 'Samantha' safely tucked away in the back seat.

Liz spent the rest of the ride telling Michael about her dream and he was as visibly shaken as she expected him to be. As she had been until she had accepted the reality of the situation. He wasn’t too happy about her being the one that had to go back, but once Liz explained why, he understood that since her actions were the pivotal catalyst in changing things, it made sense that she was the only one who could fix them.

Shortly after Liz finished summarizing what she’d learned in her dream, they arrived at the repair shop in Bitter Lake. They dropped ‘Samantha’ off and were quickly back on the road to the pod chamber.

“So ok, I still don’t get it. How do we get the information into the crystal?” Michael asked puzzled.

“Like this.” And Liz pulled the crystal out of her pocket, concentrated for a minute and the crystal glowed a bright red for a moment and then it turned clear again.

“What did you just do?!?” Michael exclaimed, hardly able to keep his eyes on the road after that display.

“I used my powers to send the information into the crystal. Now it knows to send my essence back to April 5th of this year at 7:45 p.m.” Liz said confidently.

“Just like that?”

“Just like that” Liz replied.

“But how did you know what to do?” Michael asked.

“I just knew” she shrugged. She couldn’t explain it any better than that. Suddenly this morning she’d known lots of things. It’s like she’d had the answers all along, she just had never realized it before.

Michael accepted her answer, realizing through the strange link he had with her that she was explaining the best way she knew how. He could even sense it in her, this new confidence.

“So we’re all gonna die, huh?” he asked softly, even though he knew the answer. “So your vision is gonna come true?”

Liz glanced over at him somberly. “Yeah” she said. “But Michael, I promise to fix this. We’re going to fix this. But I think we need to let Isabel and Kyle know, so that they’re at least on alert. I think we should have them meet us at the pod chamber.”

“Yeah, that’s probably a good idea, considering what’s going to happen. And since Maria wasn’t in your vision, we’ll just have to assume that she’s going to be ok.”

“Yeah” she swallowed, trying not to think about her friend being left here alone. If she succeeded, this reality wouldn’t even exist for Maria.

She turned to Michael “I’m going to call Kyle and Isabel and have them meet us at the pod chamber.”

She pulled out her cell phone and dialed the Valenti residence. No one answered. So she tried Kyle’s cell phone.

“Hello?” he answered.

“Kyle it’s Liz, where are you?”

“Isabel and I are on our way to Hondo. They’re having some sort of carnival and only Buddha knows why, but Isabel wanted to go” at this he rolled his eyes and there was a muffled “Ow!” when Isabel punched him in the arm.

“Look” Liz began. “Forget about that, you need to meet me and Michael at the pod chamber, pronto. Ok?”

“What’s this about Liz?” Kyle questioned, hearing the serious tone in Liz’s voice.

“It’s too much to explain over the phone. Just meet us there, ok?”

“Ok” he said and hung up.

“What was that about?” Isabel asked.

“I don’t know” Kyle said while scratching his head. “Liz just wants us to meet her and Michael at the pod chamber. But it can’t be good, considering where they want us to meet them.” He checked the oncoming lane and seeing that it was clear, he made a quick u-turn to head back to Roswell.

Isabel nodded and was about to answer when her cell phone rang.

Looking at the caller id, she saw it was from home.

“Hello?”

“Isabel, honey, I’m glad I caught you!” her mother said. “Where are you now?”

“Well, actually, Kyle and I are headed back to Roswell as we speak.”

“Really, honey? ‘Cause I’m in a bit of a pickle here. I’m stuck waiting for the electrician, but I really need this prescription from the pharmacy. Do you think you can pick it up for me?”

“Of course Mom, I’ll pick it up for you, no problem.”

“But . . .” Kyle began, Isabel clamped a hand over his mouth and continued her conversation with her Mom.

“Ok Mom, I’ll see you in a little bit . . . Um hmm . . . Love you too . . . Bye!” Isabel removed her hand from Kyle’s mouth and said “Yes, I know, we’re supposed to meet Michael and Liz, but my Mom really needs her prescription. It’ll only take like 5 extra minutes really, right?”

“I guess” Kyle grudgingly replied, figuring that it couldn’t be anything that urgent that five minutes would make a difference in. So they headed back to town and immediately Kyle knew that something was wrong. There were cars parked in the middle of the streets, but there were no people in sight anywhere.

It was entirely too eerie and reminded him sharply of the last time this had happened when the Skins had taken over the town and made all the humans dissapear. He and Isabel shared a worried look as he stopped the car behind a few haphazardly parked cars and they both got out. In silent agreement, they walked into the nearest store, which happened to be Mr. Henry’s supermarket. There was no one at the registers. There was food on the check out counters and some even bagged up, but there was no one in sight anywhere.

“Hello?” Isabel called out.

No one answered.

Beginning to get antsy, Kyle grabbed Isabel’s arm and said “Let’s get out of here. I don’t like the looks of this.” And he pulled Isabel out of the store, just as Nicholas was rounding a corner.

Isabel froze in shock as Nicholas and a group of Skins stopped just a few feet away from her and Kyle.

“Ah, Velondra . . . So we meet again. We’d heard the great ‘King’ was dead and just had to come see for ourselves” Nicholas said with a smirk on his face. “Nah uh uh” he said as he wagged his finger at her. At that, a Skin next to him erected a blue-green force field that effectively blocked Isabel’s blast.

“There’ll be no using your powers this time little lady. We tried to bring you over to our side, but you refused. And you know what they say . . . If you’re not for us, you’re against us.” And he raised his hand and in it was some sort of alien device.

Kyle had been seemingly paralyzed, but suddenly he realized that something bad was about to happen, and he grabbed Isabel and began to run back towards their car.

They almost made it.

Suddenly Isabel screamed and nearly fell beside him. He grabbed her around the waist and nearly dragged her to the car, pushed her inside and then jumped behind the wheel beside her. He started the car up, reversed and hightailed it out of there.

That’s when he realized there was blood on his hand where he had been holding Isabel around the waist.

“Isabel?” he turned to her and nearly lost it when he saw the amount of blood that was soaking into her shirt and jeans.

“Kyle I . . .” Isabel was trying to speak around the pain, but was having no success. It felt like her insides were coming apart.

Kyle began to pull over so that he could assess the damage, but Isabel shook her head and her pain-filled eyes silently urged him on and he recognized that they hadn’t put enough distance between themselves and the Skins to be safe yet.

He held on to Isabel’s hand and tried to speak reassuring words to her and for the most part, the strong grip Isabel kept on his hand and her ragged breathing let him know that she was still with him. And for awhile he was convinced everything would be ok. He figured if he could just get to Michael and Liz, somehow maybe they could figure out what to do. But just before he turned off to the pod chamber, her grip suddenly lessened. And he looked over to her and saw that her eyes were wide and unseeing.

She was gone.

He made the turn and saw that Michael and Liz were waiting outside of the pod chamber for them. He stopped the car and numbly got out.

~*The winter here's cold, and bitter*~

Liz saw the blood on his hands and the anguished look in his eyes and recognized the look from her vision and she knew without hearing him say it that Isabel was dead.

~*It's chilled us to the bone*~

She ran to Kyle and pulled him forward and when they were level with Michael, she began pushing him forward too.

~*We haven't seen the sun for weeks*~

“What about Isabel? She’s still in the car!” Michael said confused. Kyle still hadn’t said anything and why was there blood on his hands?

~*Too long too far from home*~

“It’s too late Michael. We have to get inside” Liz said still trying to get the two of them to move forward, just as a car pulled off of the highway and towards them.

~*I feel just like I'm sinking*~

Michael still didn’t get it. ‘Or maybe he didn’t want to get it’, he thought as he realized that Isabel still hadn’t stepped out of the car. The grief hit him so suddenly that he almost collapsed, but just as he was glancing back for one last look at Isabel, he realized that there was a car moving towards them coming fast from the highway.

~*And I claw for solid ground*~

Before he could even react the car stopped and Nicholas jumped out of the passenger side and some other Skins jumped out as well. Remembering what Liz had told him about her dream, he realized that even if they couldn’t win, he still had to try to fight them. So as they scrambled up the rocks, he turned and fired a blast, aimed at the two skins running behind them. His blast made contact and they flew backward.

~*I'm pulled down by the undertow*~
~*I never thought I could feel so low*~


But he didn’t notice the device Nicholas was aiming at him till it was too late.

Michael saw a flash of light and then the blast hit him square in the stomach. It felt like his insides were on fire and he clutched his stomach as he turned and stumbled forward.

~*And oh darkness I feel like letting go*~

Nicholas then aimed his device at Kyle who was being pulled along by Liz. Kyle collapsed next to Liz and she knew there was nothing she could do for him. She grabbed Michael and took on most of his weight as they made their way to the entrance.

Nicholas called up to them “You know you can’t win, right? We already have what we want. The Royal Four will be dead and the granolith is delivered right into our hands.”

At that he aimed a blast at Liz that struck her square in the back. The pain was excruciating but she refused to crumble, knowing that they just had to make it inside.

~*All of the strength and all of the courage*~
~*Come and lift me up from this place*~


Almost unable to support Michael’s weight now, she watched as he raised his hand and put it over the handprint and they nearly fell inside.

Michael made sure the door closed behind them and he used his rapidly waning powers to seal the door so that it wouldn’t open again. Then he stumbled forward and caught a swaying Liz as she fought to keep the dizziness at bay. As she regained her footing, Michael urged her forward as he nearly crawled through to the chamber the granolith was in. At that moment, the whole chamber shook, probably from Nicholas firing blasts trying to get inside.

~*I know I can love you much better than this*~

Liz collapsed against the side of the granolith and inserted the crystal in it’s slot. Michael grabbed her hand and concentrated and then watched as Liz’s body went limp. He thought she had died, but then he heard his name:

“Michael.”

He looked up and saw an ethereal Liz standing beside the granolith just as the crystal turned red and the sounds around them became louder.

“Michael, it’s gonna be ok. I promise to fix this. And thank you.”

“For what?” Michael sputtered out.

“For being my friend” she replied. And then a light shot through the granolith and he was knocked backwards.

The last thing he saw before darkness claimed him was a swirling light bouncing around Liz inside the granolith and then suddenly she was gone.

~*It's better this way*~

~~~~

Liz felt as if she were flying through the stars, everything was moving so fast. Then suddenly, she was sitting at her desk in her room looking at her computer screen and a single thought was moving through her head:

She was home.

tbc

~~~~

Lyrics from "Full of Grace" by Sarah McLachlan


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 7-Feb-2003 10:21:39 PM ]
posted on 30-Dec-2002 10:46:31 PM
Chapter 10

Amazed, Liz stood up . . . and immediately felt the room tilt sideways.

She sat back down heavily in her seat.

‘Note to self: Traveling back in time? Not good for the equilibrium’ she thought to herself.

Grabbing hold of her desk, she closed her eyes tightly and tried to figure out what was happening. Understanding dawned when she realized that this must be a side effect from traveling around in time. But she figured a little dizziness was a small price to pay to be able to fix the future.

But sudden doubt rose when it occurred to her that she really hadn’t verified that it had actually worked. These things weren’t exactly an exact science. What if she’d come back at a different time than she planned? What if she’d come back too late? Her eyes snapped open and she was relieved to see that the room was now right side up. She hurriedly reached for the mouse to her computer and clicked on the calender tool. And there it popped up, clear as day: April 5th 2002 . . . almost 3 weeks before Max and Alex died.

Max!

‘Max is still alive!’ she thought. And then she realized that she could actually feel his presence in her mind. She could feel their connection. It was right there, humming in her mind. With that thought, she grabbed her jacket and climbed out of the window to her balcony, knowing immediately where she was being called to.

So she started walking to Max’s house, recognizing that it was about a 20 minute walk, but it was worth it. As it was, it only took her 15 minutes, because she jogged most of the way.

When she arrived, she instinctively dodged the front door and walked around to his bedroom window. And when she got her first view of him seconds later, she felt her breath leave her and then return in a rush. She felt like she might burst from the happiness in her heart. She was feeling so many contrasting emotions at once that she almost felt dizzy again, and quickly grabbed hold of the window sill to steady herself.

She was just about to raise her hand and knock, anticipating the second he would turn and see her and their gazes would lock, when he leaned forward from his position sitting cross-legged on his bed. Liz stepped a little to her left to get a better look and realized that Tess was sitting on the bed with him. And before she could turn away, they began to hug.

She was shocked that she had forgotten about this part. Forgetten how close Max and Tess had gotten before everything happened. But now it came rushing back to her . . . This future. The prom. The awkwardness. Seeing Max and Tess kissing. The horribleness of it all.

Feeling suffocated by her memories, Liz pushed herself away from Max’s window and with tears blocking her vision, sprinted blindly away. It was all so confusing. Max obviously had feelings for Tess. But Tess was going to kill him. What was she supposed to do? How was she supposed to fix this mess that she made since she was the one that pushed them together in the first place?

So she ran faster . . . just wanting to put space between her and her thoughts. But she couldn’t outrun herself . . . or the reasons she was back . . .

‘Now my life is in your hands . . .’

She could still hear the echo of the words Max had uttered to her once as if he had just said them. That statement had never been more true than it was now. All of their lives were in her hands now. But she realized that she was going to need help to go up against Tess . . . And she needed a plan. With her purpose slowly returning, her body slowed it’s desperate, yet hopeless attempt to escape and she wiped her tears, trying to decide what to do next. Who could she lay this heavy burden of knowledge on? She couldn’t go to Maria because she would probably go off the deep end once she told her all of what happened in the future. Alex was too close to Tess since she still had access to his mind through her mindwarp. Kyle was also too close to Tess since he lived in the same house with her. And Isabel lived in the same house as Max so she was automatically discounted.

‘So Michael it is’ she thought.

And when she looked up, she realized that she had been headed towards his place all along. Her subconscious must have known that Michael was the one to turn to. But she had to remind herself that this was the old tough, abrasive Michael. Not the one she’d dealt with before who was more in touch with his emotions because of Max and Alex’s deaths. And in light of that, she had no idea what she was going to say to him when she got there.

Before she knew it, she had arrived at his building, still with no idea what she’d say to him. She figured she’d just wing it when it came to explaining everything. And as she approached his apartment door, she could hear him inside:

“Maria, I’m not gonna change my mind about . . . but . . . you . . . still . . . Whatever!” and she heard something that sounded like him slamming the phone down.

She gathered that he had been talking to Maria on the phone and she wasn’t letting him get a word in edgewise. ‘But she wasn’t known as ‘Hurricane Deluca’ for nothing’ Liz thought as she raised her hand to knock. At that exact moment, Michael opened the door and nearly bowled Liz over with an extreme scowl on his face that barely changed once he realized who he’d bumped into.

“What are you doing here?” Michael asked, scowling at her while crossing his arms and effectively blocking the entrance to his apartment.

Liz looked up at him and wondered to herself if this were a bad idea. This really wasn’t the Michael that she’d known. Would he even listen? Squaring her shoulders, she decided she’d make him listen. All of their lives depended on her being able to do this, so there was no point in getting nervous now.

Michael’s scowl just deepened as Liz continued to stay quiet. He was already aggravated over Maria, he was really not in the mood to deal with Liz and whatever her drama of the week was.

Liz pushed him backwards back into his apartment. She shut the door as Michael regained his balance and said “Michael, I need to talk to you.”

“Me? You need to talk to me? What about?” he asked skeptically. He perched himself on the arm of his sofa and once again folded his arms across his chest, hoping that the intimidating posture would scare Liz out of his apartment, so that he could go ride his motorcycle and blow off some steam.

Liz began to pace in front of him.

Deciding to plunge right in, she said “Michael, there’s a situation brewing here that will soon get out of control if we don’t do something about it.”

Michael still looking skeptical, said “Ok?”

“Look, I don’t know how to say this so I’m just going to say it. I . . . I know the future. I know what’s going to happen. And I know that on April 23rd, about two and a half weeks from now, both Max and Alex will die if we don’t prevent it from happening.”

Michael jumped up and bellowed “What?!? What the hell do you mean? Why will . . .” Liz put up her hand to stop his ranting. “Look Michael, there’s a lot I need to tell you, but you have to just listen ok? This isn’t easy stuff to talk about and there’s a lot to cover.”

Michael sat back down on the arm of the couch and looked over at her skeptically again.

“So ok” he began after a few seconds .“Suppose what you say is true. Why come to me? Why not go to Max? Or Isabel? Or hell, even Maria? Why come to me?”

“Because you helped me the first time” she said softly as she stopped pacing for a minute and looked him right in the eye.

Michael blinked, surprised at the almost gentle look on Liz’s face. He was momentarily taken aback until what she’d said sunk in.

“What do you mean ‘The first time’? What are you talking about?”

She sat on the other end of the sofa facing him and said “Okay, so you’re never going to believe this, but I’m going to say it anyway. And in order for any of it to make sense I need to start at the beginning, which would mean we need to go back to October . . .”

And as she recounted the story of Future Max and the end of the world to him, she watched various expressions flicker across his face: incredulity, disbelief, amazement, shock, and then the familiar scowl settled over his face again.

“Why should I believe you? Why should I believe any of this is anything more than an elaborate tale you made up to try to explain away sleeping with Kyle now that Max and Tess are getting closer?” he said and watched a hurt look briefly flicker across her face that made him feel bad about what he’d just said. But just as quickly as it came, it went, and a determined look took it’s place.

Liz looked across at him with her jaw set. “Ok, so you want me to prove it to you? I will. I know that you consider everyone in our group family even though you’d never admit it. I know that you carry around a piece of metal from the crashed ship in your pocket. I know that you consider Maria your home. I know that Maria will hound you to take her to the prom and you’ll refuse, but only because you don’t know how to dance. But you’ll get lessons and show up anyway. I know that after Max and Alex died, you stayed with Maria and helped her when she could barely stand alone.” Liz took a deep breath “and I know that, in the future I came from, you helped me. I was completely broken over Max and Alex’s deaths and . . . and I was ready to give up. And you . . . you pulled me back from the brink . . .” She blinked back tears as she stood up. “So Michael, I need your help again, ok? I know that tough guy thing is just an act and that there’s an actual heart in there, so just snap out of it so we can fix this, ok?”

Michael blinked at her and simply nodded his head, too overwhelmed by all she’d just said to even begin to form an answer.

She sat back down and they both sat in silence for awhile.

Michael’s confusion finally caused him to speak up first.

“So ok, if Max was alive 14 years in the future, then how is it possible for him to die in a couple of weeks, along with Alex?”

“Because the future I’ve come back from is not the same one Future Max was from. His future was him and I being together. The one I came from, the one we’re in now, is the one that resulted from me changing things and pushing Max towards Tess."

"I’m here now because Future Max left something behind when he visited. . . A failsafe in case things didn’t work out. And when things went terribly wrong in the new future, it allowed me to come back and fix them. Which brings me back to now . . .” and she once more got up and began to pace.

“I still don’t get it” Michael said. “Why did Max and Alex die? What was so different that would cause them to die if they didn’t die originally?”

Liz spat the name out like it left a bad taste in her mouth.

“Tess."

"Tess is what happened. It seems that whether she stayed or left, she still had the ability to bring on the end of the world . . . She killed them. She killed both Max and Alex. Michael, she’s been mindwarping Alex to interpret this book that will tell you all how to get home. Then after she made Alex shoot himself right in front of me, Max went after her and she killed him too.”

Michael’s eyes registered the shock he was feeling, hardly able to believe what Liz had witnessed, what Tess had done . . . that they’d had a traitor in their midst all of this time.

Liz continued in a monotone “After Max was dead, there was nothing stopping your enemies from attacking early, so that’s what they did. They killed us all Michael.”

Michael turned shocked eyes up to her and met her deeply troubled ones. He noticed only now that he was willing to see it that her eyes were different now. They had this haunted look that he was pretty sure hadn’t been there before. ‘Probably what happens when you see all your friends die’ he thought silently.

“So wait. A couple of questions here. If you died, how did you manage to come back?”

“Moments before I took my last breath there, you sent my essence into the granolith and voila, here I am.”

I did this? How?”

“Well, it’s apparently this thing that you can only do when a person is near death. But it’s a way to push a person’s soul outside of their body. Max did it with my Grandma Claudia right before she died . . . ”

Digesting this new information, Michael’s voice hardened as he asked “So what happened to Tess after she killed Max and Alex?”

“She apparently had planned all along to have Alex interpret the book and use the granolith to go home . . . But it didn’t work. The granolith crashed and she ended up dead."

"*Death* Michael. That’s what waits for all of us in a couple of months if we don’t fix this now.” Liz said solemnly. “I can’t lose everybody this time Michael. I barely made it the last time. You have to help me. Help me change this . . .”

“How long did you say we had?” Michael asked.

“Till April 23rd. D-day” she said grimly.

Just as Michael opened his mouth to say something else, someone began pounding on his apartment door and Maria’s voice carried from the other side.

“Open up Guerin! I know you’re in there, your motorcycle’s outside!”

Michael’s scowl reappeaared as he rose and stepped over to the door and opened it. Maria stomped past him, already talking a mile a minute.

“Look Michael, you can be difficult all you want, but you’re going to have to face it sooner or later. We’re in a relationship. And people in relationships do things like this. They actually go places together. You know, besides the back seat of my car and your apartment. Now I want to go to my prom and *you* are going to take me!” she said as she poked him in the chest.

Leaning against the now closed door with his arms crossed, Michael winced, but waited for Maria to notice that there was another person in the room with them.

Maria finally looked up as she took a breath and looked at Michael to gauge his response. He simply smirked at her and tilted his head at something behind her, so she turned, following Michael’s line of sight, and jumped a little when she noticed Liz sitting on his sofa looking uncomfortable.

“Liz! What are you doing here?”

Thinking fast, Liz said “I just stopped by to . . . to talk to Michael about, um, these new powers I may or may not have. Er, I got mad the other day and a mirror broke and I wanted to talk to someone about it” she finished lamely.

At this, Maria slapped Michael’s arm.

“Ow! What’d I do?” he asked as he inched out of the line of fire.

“You and your alien conspirators changed my poor Lizzie into a walking talking time bomb! You see chica?” she said pulling Liz up from the sofa and hooking arms with her and walking to the door. “This is what knowing aliens does for you. You end up either unknowingly altered or just generally annoyed.” Still dragging a slightly bemused Liz beside her, Maria looked over her shoulder at Michael and said “I’ll deal with you later Spaceboy” and pranced out of the apartment with Liz safely in tow.

Michael just shook his head as he closed the door behind them, thinking ‘Hurricane Deluca strikes again. I guess I’ll call Liz later . . . ’

~~~~

As they climbed into Maria’s car, Maria turned to her and asked “So how are you doing chica? You looked like you needed to be rescued in there, and that’s what friends are for, right? So when did this mirror incident happen and how come you didn’t tell me about it?” Maria finally finished.

Liz buckled her seatbelt and avoided Maria’s eyes. She waved away Maria’s questions. “I was just seriously freaked is all. Anyway, what are you and Michael arguing about now? Looks like you were gonna let him have it if I hadn’t been there” she said trying to distract Maria from her train of thought. All the while secretly pleased to get her feisty Maria back. ‘It’s been entirely too long’ she thought, determined to make sure that nothing happened to change Maria back into the grieving shell of a person she was in that other reality.

“Michael and I have been arguing about the prom. He insists that he’s not going and I insist that he is. It’s like this whole endless cycle thing.” Maria waved her hands around as she talked, then working up steam as she started the car, she continued. “He is so infuriating! You’d think he’d know by now how important a prom is to a girl, but does he?” Not waiting for an answer, she continued “Nooooo. He has to be difficult and ruin possibly one of my greatest high school memories.”

Liz quickly wiped the smile off of her face as she turned to her friend. In this case, knowing the future would come in handy.

“Maria, I know it probably doesn’t seem like it now, but I think all of this is gonna work out. I think Michael does know that junior prom is very important to you. He’s probably just nervous over something ridiculous like having to dress up or not knowing how to dance or something . . .” Liz hoped she hadn’t told Maria too much.

“You really think so?” Maria asked hopefully.

“Yeah, I do” Liz replied with a reassuring smile.

Just then they pulled up in front of the Crashdown.

“I’ll see you tommorrow ‘Ria” Liz said as she climbed out of Maria’s car.

“Bye Liz” Maria said distractedly as she pondered what Liz had said.

Liz just shook her head as she walked into the Crashdown, just imagining what was going through Maria’s head about Michael.

She made her way upstairs and to her bedroom realizing for the first time how exhausted she was, both physically and mentally, from the days events. She began her nightly ritual and then climbed under the sheets for her first night of good sleep in a long time. And she was going to need it, she thought grimly, because tomorrow she would face her biggest challenge yet.

Tomorrow she had to go to school, face everyone, and pretend that everything was normal.

Normal.


tbc . . .



[ edited 1 time(s), last at 7-Feb-2003 10:35:31 PM ]
posted on 30-Dec-2002 10:48:18 PM
Chapter 11

Liz woke up to her alarm the next morning feeling exhausted. If she didn’t know she had just woken up, she’d think she hadn’t slept at all. She sat up in bed, then immediately fell back as a wave of dizziness hit her.

‘Not the way I wanted to start my day’ she thought to herself as she threw her arm across her eyes, closed them tightly and waited for the dizziness to retreat.

This was a new day and she wanted to get started on the right foot. There were wrongs that needed to be put right. That’s why she was back. But then she tensed. She suddenly needed proof once again that she had indeed gone back in time. That all of this wasn’t just a hope-filled dream that she’d just woken up from.

She sat up tentatively and thankfully found the dizziness gone. So she climbed out of bed and once again walked over to her computer to consult her calender tool.

April 6th 2002.

She exhaled the breath she didn’t even know she was holding and relaxed. She went back to her bed and sat down on the edge and concentrated on her connection to Max. He was like a quiet humming all around her. It was nothing short of amazing really. She recognized that now. Spending all of that time without it, without him, made her realize how essential he was to her life. Even if they weren’t together, she still needed him and right now she needed to save him from Tess.

Words seemed to float up to her from her memories . . .

‘The future is to be determined . . .’

She remembered Future Max saying those words to her. At the time, she’d felt sadness when she heard them, but now they made her feel like anything was possible. Like she really could fix things . . .

“Lizzie?” her father knocked on her bedroom door. “Time to get up hon” he called as he walked past her room.

‘Nothing like routine to make you feel at home’ she thought and smiled. That smile stayed on her face throughout the rest of the morning. Through getting ready for school, through breakfast, and through Maria picking her up.

“What?” Maria asked, finally noticing the smile on Liz’s face. She had been so preoccupied with thoughts of Michael that she was just now noticing Liz’s seemingly permanent smile. She glanced over at Liz again before hitting the turn signal for the school parking lot. “What are you smiling about?”

Liz turned her attention away from the passenger’s side window. “What? Oh, nothing in particular. I feel happy today is all” Liz replied.

“Um hmm” Maria said, looking at Liz contemplatively. Something was definitely going on with her, but she had no idea what it was.

But just as they emerged from her car and she was about to question Liz further, the first bell rang, signalling that they had 5 minutes to make it to class. So they hastily rushed to their lockers and then off in different directions hollering a quick “See you later” to each other.

They met up again in their next period. Maria came into class fuming and Liz could practically see the steam rising off of her head.

“You would not believe what that . . . that . . . *guy* did last period!”

Liz just raised a questioning eyebrow and waited for the rant to begin.

“Mr. Walt got called to the office, so I decide to try to work out this whole prom argument with Michael, right? So here I am, trying to be the bigger person you know? So I don’t fuss, or scream, or smack him in the head like I want to. No, I calmly and rationally approach the subject of prom. And you know what he says?”

Liz, knowing it can’t be good, quickly shook her head.

“He said ‘Not right now Maria, I’ve got bigger things to worry about’!”

As Maria’s best friend, Liz knew this was one of those moments where comments weren’t needed, so she stayed quiet.

Maria mimicked “ . . . not right now Maria . . . bigger things Maria . . .” Looking across at Liz, Maria said “Now I ask you Liz, what could possibly be more important than prom?”

At that exact moment, Liz saw Max walk into class and she felt like all the air went out of the room. Faintly she heard Maria still talking in the background, but her attention was focused solely on Max. Her heart started pounding, her palms got sweaty and she could feel a thin film of perspiration break out on her forehead. She wanted to get up and run to him and never let go. Instead she sat there and clasped her hands together tightly in her lap and willed herself to stay seated.

Max stepped into the room and looked around, as if searching for something. Then his eyes met hers and locked. Everything else seemed to fade away at that moment. An eternity seemed to pass between them, while Max’s eyes transmitted unspoken words of heart break and love, Liz’s gaze spoke of pain, loss, love and grief. Max’s eyes turned puzzled. But just then a hand snaked out and grabbed his arm, pulling his attention away from Liz.

The spell was broken.

Liz looked next to Max and saw Tess take the space beside him, looking up at him adoringly. His eyes would no longer meet Liz’s as he allowed Tess to pull him into the room. They sat in the row in front of Maria and Liz.

Liz noticed that Maria had grown silent.

Max mumbled a barely discernible “hey” while Tess greeted them with an exuberant “Hey guys!” as she turned back to them. Maria scowled at her and Liz barely got “hey” out before she felt like gagging.

Just then the second bell rung and Mrs. Henry started in on the day’s lesson, so Tess turned to face forward again.

Liz felt like the room was shrinking and like it had suddenly grown hotter. She felt like she couldn’t breathe. She quickly raised her hand and asked for a bathroom pass and avoided the curious looks she knew were on Max, Maria, and Tess’s faces as she rushed out of the room.

She hurried around the corner before she collapsed against a locker and buried her head in her hands. She was feeling so many varied emotions, she couldn’t even begin to sort them out. She felt angry, bitter, afraid and alone, but most of all, and she hated to admit it, but she felt . . . defeated. Like she was fighting a battle she was doomed to lose.

In another time, Tess had killed her love and her best friend . . . and she’d been powerless to stop her.

She fought the images of finding Max in the pod chamber. Dead. Suddenly the image of Alex’s lifeless body floated to her. She shook her head violently, trying to dislodge the memories.

‘Why?!?’ she screamed in her mind. She hadn’t been able to stop it then, what was supposed to make this time so different? Fore-knowledge? And what was she supposed to do? Was the solution to kill Tess? Was she even capable of taking a life? Even Tess’s? And would her actions make things better . . . or worse?

In Future Max’s timeline, without Tess the world ended.

Suddenly she was assaulted by the image of her bloodied hands after Alex’s death. She shook her head violently again. She was afraid . . . afraid of what inaction might cost her, cost them all. She was afraid she wasn’t capable of killing Tess . . . but she was also afraid that she was . . .

Once again the fate of the world was in her hands . . . and she was so terrified. So she let the tears fall.

“Hey, hey, it’s ok Liz” she heard and looked up to see a concerned Michael coming toward her. Liz looked away, ashamed to be caught sobbing on the floor when she was supposed to be strong enough to handle this. Michael put a comforting hand on her shoulder.

The flashes started immediately.

*Flash*

Alex waving a gun at Tess and then looking shocked when he starts turning the gun towards himself. Tess callously pushing Liz out of the way after the gun goes off.

*Flash*

Liz with her hands over his wound trying to stop the bleeding and saying to Alex that it’s gonna be ok.

*Flash*

Liz wrapping her arms around herself and rocking when Max tells her that it’s too late, that he can’t heal Alex.

*Flash*

Max at the pod chamber slumped against the wall with wide unseeing eyes and a silver hand print burned into his chest.

*Flash*

Burying Max in the desert outside the pod chamber.

*Flash*

Liz looking in the mirror and seeing the blood on her clothes and on her hands.


Liz looked up at Michael and cried “Don’t touch me!” as she jumped away from his hand on her shoulder. Then without looking at him, she said “I’m sorry Michael, I . . .I have to go!” and she ran away down the hall.

Neither of them noticed Isabel step back out of sight from where she’d been walking at the opposite end of the hall.

Michael looked after Liz in shock and then slumped down against the lockers, holding his head in his hands, in much the same posture he’d found Liz in. He felt like he’d just been torn in two by Liz’s grief . . . and his own. She didn’t deserve those memories. Hell, no one deserved to have experienced that. And it was all because of that conniving bitch Tess. She’d caused all of that grief and sadness. Something definitely had to be done about Tess.

Liz didn’t return to her History class. She’d fled from Michael and made her way outside and sat until she cleared her head. But she couldn’t get the image of a deceptive Tess turning to them and smiling out of her head, so she knew she wouldn’t be returning to class.

She decided that the best place to start sorting out this mess was with Max, so she waited outside of class for him to come out. The bell rang, and she shifted her weight from one side to the other anxiously as everyone began filing out. Maria noticed her and said “Liz! What happened to you? How come you didn’t come back to class?”

Liz, still trying to see around her and spot Max, said “I’ll tell you later Maria. Right now I have to talk to Max.” Maria, with thoughts of her own Spaceboy on her mind, nodded her head in understanding and walked on to her next class.

As Liz turned back to the rapidly emptying classroom, she spotted Max and Tess coming out together. Her stomach turned over but she ignored it and called out “Max!” He turned to her and so did Tess. Liz said “Um, Max, can I talk to you privately for a minute?”

“Sure” he said. “Tess, I’ll catch up with you later.” Tess looked reluctant to leave as she looked from Max to Liz, but after a seconds hesitation, she turned and soon blended in with all of the other students trying to make it to their classes before the second bell rang.

“Um, follow me” Liz said awkwardly.

She led Max to an empty classroom and closed the door behind them. That’s when she noticed he was looking down and rubbing his head.

She began reaching forward before she was even aware she was doing it. Before he realized what she was about to do, her hands dropped to her sides. “Max, are you ok?” she settled for asking.

“Yeah” he said, looking up. “It’s just this headache I keep getting off and on, but I’m ok. What did you want to talk to me about?”

“Right” she said nervously. “Um, I wanted to talk to you about . . .” and she hesitated “ . . . Tess” she finally got it out and saw him stiffen.

“What about her?” he asked defensively.

“Max, you . . . we can’t trust her. She’s not on your side. She’s going to betray you Max. She’s going to betray us all . . .” Liz’s voice trailed off at the hard look that had appeared on Max’s face. His whole demeanor had changed dramatically.

He looked at Liz angrily, but didn’t say anything for a moment, as if he were trying to get his emotions under control. With quiet anger he said “So I can’t trust Tess? She’s going to betray me?” Liz didn’t miss the innuendo in his words and flinched at their implication. Max seemed not to notice as he continued “And how is she going to betray me Liz? Is she going to sleep with Kyle too?”

She flinched again. She couldn’t believe Max was speaking to her like this. Was this the anger he’d held in since seeing her and Kyle pretend to sleep together? She opened her mouth to try to explain “Max I . . .”

He interrupted her before she could continue “All Tess has ever done is stand by me. She’s been there when I needed her.” He looked at her pointedly. “And now you’re telling me I can’t trust her? Well, how do I know I can trust you? You slept with Kyle, Liz. Kyle! And yeah, I forgave you for that, but I can’t forget it.

And now that I’m finally moving on with my life like you wanted me to do not so long ago, now you tell me that it’s wrong? So what is it Liz? What is it about Tess that you think you know? Did you look into your crystal ball? Or did a little birdy tell you she can’t be trusted? What is it Liz?” he said advancing upon her. “What? Or is it that you don’t want to be with me, but you don’t want me to be with anyone else either?” he said bitterly. “Well, you wanted me to move on. Deal with it.” And he moved past her and out of the classroom.

Liz stood in shock as the force of Max’s words hit her like fists. But she fought it. Fought the grief that threatened to overwhelm her at his words. This wasn’t about her and him. This was about saving his life . . . his and Alex’s. So she rushed out of the classroom to go after him, but he was already gone.

She made it to her next class, but just barely. She felt the weight of the world pressing down on her once again. Deciding on a course of action, she planned to talk to Max at lunchtime. She needed the time to regroup anyway.

Time seemed to pass slowly as Mr. Robbins went on and on about formulas and theorems and Liz exhaled loudly when the bell finally rung, signalling the end of class.

She rushed to her locker to get her lunch, then rushed out to the quad to wait for Max. Michael was already sitting at their table. Her footsteps faltered when she saw him, but she determinedly made herself continue. Before he could say anything, Liz set her lunch down across from him and said “Michael, I’m sorry. I never meant for you to see . . . No one should ever have to know . . . ” She found it hard to continue.

“Liz, it’s ok. It’s not your fault.”

“But Michael it is. I knew my emotions were too close to the surface. I should have stopped you before you touched me. It’s all of these newly discovered powers. It’s just overwhelming and . . . ”

“Liz! It really is ok. Now would you stop worrying about this so that we can figure out what to do next.”

She met his eyes and found no blame in them, so she nodded. She stated softly “I . . . I tried to talk to Max earlier, but he just got mad at me for suggesting that Tess was bad and wouldn’t listen to anything else I had to say.”

“Well, you know what I say? I say we catch Tess in a dark corner and just blast her to kingdom come and worry about explanations later” Michael said evenly.

“Michael, I don’t know if that’s the best . . .” she trailed off because across the quad, coming towards them, was Alex!

His head was down and he was obviously looking for something in his backpack. Liz’s eyes filled with tears. Alex was alive! She fought the urge to run to him and hug him like there was no tommorrow. Michael looked over his shoulder to see what had captured Liz’s attention and saw Alex. He turned back as he felt a lump in his own throat remembering the vision of him from the flash. He reached across and grabbed Liz’s hand, Liz looked at him surprised, glad that he hadn’t gotten anymore flashes from her. “We’re gonna fix this Liz. It won’t happen again” Michael said earnestly.

“What won’t happen again?” Alex asked curiously as he stepped up to their table. Michael picked up his sandwich and began eating.

“Oh nothing” Liz replied as she blinked tears away.

“Alex, what are you looking for?” she asked curiously as he continued to go through his bag.

“My lunch” he replied as he sat down. “I thought I put it in here this morning, but I must not have” he said as he rummaged through his backpack one more time.

“Well, it’s ok Alex” she replied. “I have enough to share.” She reached in her bag and handed Alex half the sub she’d had Carlos make that morning.

“Are you sure?” he asked. “ ’Cause I don’t mind going into the cafeteria and buying something.” But even Alex couldn’t keep a straight face and the grimace that crossed his face caused Liz and Michael to laugh and Alex joined in. The cafeteria food was notorious for being terrible. Especially since most of the entrees included the word ‘surprise’ in their name. Usually it was things like tuna surprise and chicken surprise.

“Yup” Alex said with a grin. “That bean surprise looks especially tasty today.”

“That’s right, it is Vegetarian day, but ‘Bean’ surprise?” Liz asked.

“Hey, when it comes to cafeteria food I live by the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ rule. But, you know, I can always catch the Bean surprise next time around” he said as he happily bit into the sub Liz had given him. “But you know what? I need a soda. You guys want anything?” he said as he got up

Replies of “no” and “no thank you” flowed from Liz and Michael, so Alex scooted off to get his drink.

Liz watched him head to the cafeteria fondly, pushing visions of how she’d last seen him to the back of her mind. She was so focused on him that she didn’t notice Tess dragging a reluctant Max towards the table till they were almost there. She and Michael noticed them at the same time. They both tensed.

Michael stood up angrily “Maxwell, you can not trust her! She is not on our side!” he said adamantly pointing a finger at Tess.

Max moved a startled Tess behind him as he angrily addressed Michael. Indicating Liz, he said “She got to you, didn’t she? Why are you listening to her Michael? Tess is one of us. Not Liz!” He cast a disdainful glance at Liz before glaring at Michael.

Liz felt like someone was physically yanking her heart out of her chest with the things Max was saying. He’d never been this mean to her before.

Max looked at Michael imploringly, “Michael, she’s helping me recover my memories. She can help you too.”

“Max, you’re letting Tess inside your head? What the hell are you thinking? You don’t know what she might be doing in there. She’s going to destroy you Max, she’s going to destroy us all if you let her!”

“You know what?” Max’s expression hardened. “You two obviously are convinced of something that’s not based in reality. I can’t talk to either of you. Just stay away from us. Stay away from both of us!” and he dragged Tess away, but not before she gave them both a triumphant look that spoke volumes.

Michael turned to look at Liz and saw that she looked devastated.

“Liz . . . he obviously didn’t mean those things he said . . .” Michael began.

“Michael, don’t apologize for him. This whole thing is a total mess! We’ll never get near Tess now that she knows we’re on to her!” Liz shook her head in frustration and then got up from the table.

“Wait, where are you going?”

“I’m gonna go find Alex and reassure myself that he’s ok” Liz said and walked away. She found Alex sitting on the floor next to the Coke machine holding his head.

“Alex! What’s wrong?” she said as she ran to his side.

Alex looked at her with slightly dazed eyes. “I don’t know. I just got dizzy and lightheaded all of a sudden.” He pushed himself to his feet and swayed a little. Liz caught him as she became even more concerned.

“It’s ok Liz. I just haven’t been sleeping right for a while. I’m just gonna go to the nurse’s office and lay down.”

“I’ll walk you, ok?” she said, hoping he wouldn’t protest.

“Thanks” Alex said, as he focused on placing one foot in front of the other, trying to make it to the nurse’s office without embarrassing himself. When they arrived, Liz led him inside and guided him to a seat.

“I’ll bring your stuff here, ok?” Alex just nodded without opening his eyes and Liz rushed out.

On her way back to the quad, she bumped into Michael, who had come looking for her.

“We really need to figure out what we’re gonna do about Max and getting him away from Tess” Michael said.

“Right now we’ve got a more immediate problem.”

“Oh really” Michael said as he crossed his arms across his chest. “And what would that be?”

Liz replied in one word.

“Alex.”


tbc . . .



Wanna see what life would be like if the shooting never happened?
Well read my fic and find out:

Running with Scissors



posted on 30-Dec-2002 10:52:42 PM
Ok everybody, here's the new part I promised! . . . I've been tweaking it for days now and now I just want it gone, so here you go! . . . *tongue*

Enjoy!

~~~

Chapter 12

As they headed back to the quad to get Alex’s things, Liz filled Michael in on the condition she’d found Alex in and on what he’d said to Tess on that fateful day.

‘You mindwarped me for two months while I decoded that alien book for you and now there's nothing left for you to mindwarp. You destroyed my mind!’

Liz shook her head to dislodge the memory then took a shuddering breath. She determinedly went on to explain to Michael her theory that the damage Tess was doing to Alex’s mind might end up being fatal if not fixed. And so they needed Max to heal Alex or he might not live past April 23rd even if they managed to get rid of Tess.

As they reached the quad, they both were so deep in their conversation that they didn’t notice that Isabel and Maria had taken up residence at the table until they were upon them.

Isabel noticed them first. They were walking towards the table with their heads close together, talking. She glanced over at Maria, but she was busy eating her sandwich and scribbling in a notebook with her free hand.

“You know, there is something weird going on with those two” Isabel said and flicked her head at the approaching Michael and Liz.

Maria glanced over at them and frowned a little, but then her expression cleared. “Well yeah . . . Liz went to see Michael yesterday, because she said she thought she was showing evidence of having powers.”

“Hmm” was all Isabel said in response since Michael and Liz were just arriving at the table.

“Hey, what’s up guys?” Isabel asked.

Liz tried to look calm as she said “Oh um nothing. We’re just . . . taking Alex’s stuff to him . . . He went to the nurse’s office ‘cause well, he’s um . . . he’s not feeling well . . . ”

Isabel immediately went from suspicious to concerned. “Is he ok? What’s wrong with him?”

Maria was busy glaring at Michael, so it took a second for Liz’s words to sink in. Her expression immediately changed as she turned to Liz and said “Hey! What’s wrong with Alex?!?” She even stood up and started gathering her stuff together as if to accompany Liz back to the nurse’s office but Liz hurriedly tried to assure both of them.

“Um, no, don’t worry! He’s just tired or something, nothing major or anything. You guys should enjoy your lunch . . . It’s no big deal really . . . Anyway, I’m just gonna take him his stuff and then I’ll probably head to the library afterwards . . . ”

She let out a silent breath of relief as Maria sat back down and went back to glaring at Michael, who seemed to be looking everywhere but at them. Isabel also looked satisfied with Liz’s explanation and the concern in her expression lessened.

“Yeah, and I’m gonna, um . . . go” Michael stated and started backing away from the table at the stony expression on Maria’s face.

“Whatever!” Maria said as she went back to angrily writing in her notebook.

Liz hurriedly gathered up Alex’s and the rest of her things and rushed away before anyone could ask anymore questions. Once she got inside the cafeteria, Michael fell back into step beside her.

~~~~

Isabel wasn’t sure, but she’d swear that she saw Michael rejoin Liz when she went into the cafeteria. She glanced over at Maria, but she was amazingly oblivious to the whole thing. And she was still furiously writing in that notebook of hers, her lunch all but forgotten next to her.

“What are you writing?” Isabel finally broke down and asked.

“Oh, I’m writing down my mantra . . . Mr. Harmon fussed at me for saying it aloud last period, so I started writing it. Works just as well . . .” Seeing the perplexed expression on Isabel’s face, Maria shrugged and said “I ran out of cedar oil today.”

“Let me see” Isabel said as she pulled the book from under Maria’s angry pen. Isabel read the line that was written and re-written all the way down the page “ ‘I am a strong, young woman. I control my emotions. My emotions do not control me. I am a strong, young woman. I control my emotions. My emotions do not control me.’ ” Isabel looked over at Maria with eyebrow raised and said “Ok, yeah, I guess it’s better than ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’ but just barely.” Isabel handed the notebook back to Maria and said “I’ve got one word for you Maria: Ther-a-py . . . Get some . . . Or, you know, stop dating Michael, whichever helps with your sanity.”

Maria just rolled her eyes and went back to writing at the mention of Michael’s name.

But Isabel wasn’t ready to give up the topic of Michael and Liz just yet. She said “So, tell me more about Liz and her newfound ‘powers’ . . .”

Maria sighed and dropped her pen. As she thought about it, she frowned because she realized that she didn’t know much. “Well, she mentioned something about getting upset and breaking a mirror without touching it, but that’s all I know . . .”

“That’s it?”

“Yeah, Isabel, dang! I can’t know everything! ” Maria said exasparatedly.

“Yeah, well it just doesn’t sound like enough of a reason to warrant those two hanging out together. I mean, think about it Maria . . . When have you ever known them to even hold a conversation, much less spend any time alone together? Plus I saw them in the hall during 2nd period and Liz was crying and Michael looked upset too.”

Maria’s eyes widened and then narrowed as she said “Really?”

“Really” Isabel replied.

“Humph” Maria said as she folded her arms across her chest in a move reminiscent of Michael.

“Yep” Isabel stated as she looked back towards the cafeteria. “There’s definitely something going on with those two. And it’s more than what she told you too. I can sense it . . . ”

~~~~

Liz spent the rest of the period in the nurse’s office sitting next to the bed Alex was sleeping in. She sent Michael to work on talking to Max since she figured Max would be more receptive to him. When the bell rung signalling the end of the period, Alex didn’t even stir. Liz reluctantly rose and went to her next class.

The rest of the day passed by in a blur and Liz hardly noticed. Alex didn’t show up for the last class they had together and Liz was worried, but when she went to the nurse’s office she was told he’d been sent home for the day soon after lunch.

So Liz started the trek to Alex’s house . . . purposely ignoring the memories from the last time she’d taken this walk.

Still worrying about Alex and the whole situation, she barely noticed the sounds coming from upstairs as she walked in the front door. She made her way up the stairs slowly. Still she was completely unprepared for the sight that greeted her at Alex’s bedroom door.

It was Alex. In his underwear. Swiveling and dancing to the song ‘I want you to want me.’

Still unaware of her presence, Alex continued to jump and twist around.

Liz cried out “Oh.My.God. Please make it stop!” in mock horror.

Alex froze like a deer in headlights. “Liz!” he cried, surprised. “Um, I was just . . .” he stuttured, then, like he just thought ‘oh screw it!’ he grabbed the clothes nearest to him and dove for the bathroom.

Liz couldn’t help it, she started to giggle, and then she began to laugh. Full deep belly laughs. It had been so long since she’d laughed. Ages, it seemed. She leaned against his desk for support as she continued to laugh and belatedly flipped off his music. It figured Alex would be the one to cause her to laugh this hard.

She tried to gather herself together when she saw him emerge from the bathroom fully clothed now, only to burst out laughing again.

“Ok fine” Alex said “you saw me dancing in my underwear-”

“ - again -” Liz said.

“ - yeah, again. But in my defense, the last time I was like 12-”

“ - and the song was ‘I’m too sexy.’ ” Liz couldn’t help it, she started giggling again.

Alex sat on the bed and hid his face in his hands.

“And don’t forget the tighty whiteys!” Liz said between giggles.

“Fine, my humiliation is now complete . . . I have come full circle . . . But, you gotta admit, at least it was a cooler song this time” Alex said from behind his hands.

Liz just continued to giggle. Then when she finally got herself under control, she said “Thank you Alex.”

He looked up surprised. “Why?”

“Well . . . because things have been so hard lately. I almost forgot what it’s like to laugh. But you reminded me. You always remind me of happier times.”

Alex sobered “Yeah, I’ve noticed them too” referring to Max and Tess. “Liz, I don’t know what’s going on between Max and Tess right now, but you know, you have to know what you mean to him . . . It’ll all be ok Liz.” He got up and looped one arm around her waist in a half-hug. “We’ll make it ok.”

Liz blinked back tears at his simple words. He was so unknowing of what was to happen, yet he willingly and readily assured her that everything would be ok. She should be telling him that. “I love you Alex” she said as she hugged him back.

“Love you too Lizzie” Alex said as he playfully ruffled her hair.

‘It’ll be ok’ Liz thought. ‘It has to be.’

~~~~

Max found himself wandering the streets of Roswell. Again.

After the confrontation with Liz and Michael, Tess had settled him down and he had studiously avoided both Liz and Michael for the rest of the day. Michael had been a little harder to avoid because he seemed to be everywhere Max was, but Max still managed to outmaneuver him. He was too aggravated to talk to Michael right now.

Seeing his aggravation, Tess had suggested that they take a drive after school. Later she’d worked with him some more to try to retrieve more of his memories. He always felt more settled after their sessions. It’s like they cleared out the clutter of his mind.

But right now he just felt restless.

So he walked.

And not surprisingly he looked up to assess his surroundings and found himself standing in the alley below Liz’s balcony. Which made sense because more often than not when he wandered around town, he ended up below Liz’s balcony.

It was strange how that clarity he seemed to achieve when he was around Tess just dissapeared when he was alone. When he was alone, his heart and his head always warred against each other. His head told him that Tess was the person he wanted to be with, but in his heart he still loved and wanted to be with Liz. And it was a continuous battle Max was never sure who he wanted to win. And the battle lead to the headaches. The headaches that made him feel like his head was in a vise.

Then there was the anger. The anger that he felt wanting to be with Liz when she obviously didn’t want to be with him anymore. She had even slept with Kyle to prove it. The anger threatened to consume him sometimes it was so intense. This anger felt so out of control and so foreign. It scared him how quickly it rose up sometimes . . . almost out of nowhere it came. Liz had slept with Kyle sure, but he’d forgiven her for that.

Hadn’t he?

He felt like if he could just think clearly for awhile he could sort it all out. He could get to the bottom of his anger, his feelings for Liz and his feelings for Tess. But whenever he found his head clear he was around Tess and none of that other stuff seemed to matter anymore.

He looked up and could see the faint lights above that told him that Liz was in her room. Part of him wanted to go up to her and try to talk things out. But the other part of him said that there was nothing left to be said.

And then he recalled their conversation earlier. How she’d tried to make him turn against Tess: the only person who seemed to understand him lately. When had Liz stopped being that person? Liz used to be the one who could soothe his soul, just by being in her presence. When had that changed? He couldn’t even remember when Tess had taken her place. Shouldn’t he remember?

He looked up again, at the lights from her balcony. How many times had he stood in this very spot thinking that he should just call up to her?

But he never did.

He usually just walked away. He stuffed his hands in his pockets and headed towards home.

Like he was doing now.

~~~~

Liz was slowly preparing for bed. Today had been a trying day and it had just begun to take it’s toll. Her mini-breakdown with Michael, then the argument with Max . . . if you could call it that . . . more like he yelled and she listened. And then the worry over Alex . . .

She was exhausted . . .

~*Come to me now*~
~*And lay your hands over me*~


She was also afraid . . .

~*Even if it's a lie*~
~*Say it will be all right*~


She couldn’t go through losing Alex again. She just couldn’t.

~*And I shall believe*~

She knew that even though he had been feeling better when she saw him earlier that he was not ok.

~*I'm broken in two*~
~*And I know you're on to me*~


She still remembered the reports from his teachers after his apparent “suicide” in her timeline saying he had had frequent unexplained mood swings and complained of health problems that kept him from finishing assignments, but at other times he seemed perfectly fine.

~*That I only come home*~
~*When I'm so all alone*~
~*And I do believe*~


So Liz wasn’t foolish enough to believe things were ok, even if she wanted to believe.

~*That not everything is gonna be the way*~
~*you think it ought to be*~


Michael had checked in with her earlier and told her he hadn’t managed to get ahold of Max today. Max had managed to make himself scarce. But he was still determined to find him.

~*It seems like every time I try to make it right*~
~*It all comes down on me*~


Thanks to her and the flashes, he now understood a little too well what was at stake. Also not helping was the fact that Maria had been hounding Michael trying to find out what was going on with him and Liz.

~*Please say honestly you won't give up on me*~

There was so much to worry about.

~*And I shall believe*~

Liz forcibly turned her mind off, knowing that solutions would continue to elude her until she had a good night’s rest under her belt. So she blanked out the events of the day as best she could and finally fell into a troubled sleep. But she was still unprepared to find herself walking down the familiar path to Alex’s house, straight into the nightmare she hoped to never see again . . .

~*I shall believe*~

~~~~

Isabel lay in bed, filing her nails and flipping through a magazine. Every once in awhile she’d glance over at the clock on her nightstand, sigh, and go back to filing and flipping. Eventually she went to the kitchen and fixed and ate a snack. When she got back to her room, she glanced at the clock one last time and said “Finally!” She picked up last year’s yearbook, opened it to Liz’s picture and laid back, determined that tonight she would finally know what was going on in the mind of Liz Parker.


tbc . . .

~~~


Lyrics from "I Shall Believe" By Sheryl Crow



Wanna see what life would be like if the shooting never happened?
Well read my fic and find out:

Running with Scissors




[ edited 1 time(s), last at 31-Dec-2002 1:06:05 AM ]
posted on 30-Dec-2002 10:54:59 PM
Chapter 13

Isabel found herself riding in the backseat of Sheriff Valenti’s SUV, with Valenti driving and Liz sitting in the passenger seat staring down at her lap.

The truck stopped in the alley behind the Crashdown and Liz finally looked up and got out of the vehicle, saying nothing and staring straight ahead. Valenti clambered out after her and Isabel followed them both into the back of the Crashdown, still puzzled as to what this dream was about.

She stepped inside and noticed Maria coming into the break room. Maria looked at Liz curiously and then with horror as she screamed.


~*In the midst of my darkest hour*~
~*You see my tear-stained face*~

Isabel finally took a good look at first Valenti’s somber face and then looked at Liz. What she saw made her blood run cold.


~*This broken form that no longer feels power*~
~*With no apparent place*~

Liz’s hands and clothing were covered in blood.

Isabel backed up, wanting to flee this dream . . . this nightmare . . . when the dream version of herself, then Kyle and Michael came running in. She didn’t want to stay, but she couldn’t move. She felt rooted to the spot as Valenti’s next words almost made her collapse.

“There’s been an incident . . . Alex is dead . . .”


~*Even when this world’s turned*~
~*Her back on me*~

The sounds of crying echoed through the room as Isabel clung to the wall and then lowered herself to the floor, unable to stop shaking, unable to comprehend why Liz would be dreaming of Alex dying.


~*And when it’s cold where it once burned*~
~*And my thoughts are frightening*~

Still in shock, she was barely paying attention to the dream anymore so she missed most of what the Sheriff said and only caught the tail end “. . . may be some issue of Max being hurt as well, based on what Liz has said.”

From her position on the floor, she looked over at Liz with shell-shocked eyes, barely able to look at her with all the blood, Alex’s blood, covering her, but Liz finally spoke up.

And what she said made this nightmare so much worse.


~*You will never leave me*~

“Max is dead.”


~*You will never leave me*~

And she saw Liz begin to crumble and then Isabel felt herself get expelled from the dream as it came to an end.


Isabel shot up from her bed, shaking uncontrollably and moaning “Nooooooooooo . . . . ”

~~~~

Liz sat up in bed, clutched her pillow tighter and used it to muffle the cries coming from deep in her throat.

She cried till morning.

~~~~

Isabel Evans was on a mission.

To the casual observer, as she stepped through the doors of West Roswell High, she simply appeared focused as she barely acknowledged the greetings thrown her way. But if one were to look closer, they’d notice the dark circles under her eyes that even makeup couldn’t hide, the troubled look in her eyes, and the determined set to her jaw, as she headed straight to Liz Parker’s locker.

She spotted Liz standing with her back to Isabel in front of her locker with a very concerned-looking Michael who was right beside her. Isabel walked right up to her, whipped her around, and at the same time ground out “What the hell is up with you Parker?!?”

But as she spun Liz around, her next words died in her throat because Liz looked, for lack of a better word, awful. Isabel had thought the circles under her own eyes were bad, but Liz’s eyes were red-rimmed and had a sunken-in appearance. She was wearing that same haunted expression Isabel had seen on her face in the dreamwalk.

Michael, surprised at Isabel’s dramatic entrance stepped between the two of them. “What is it Iz?” he growled in annoyance.

Isabel was still too shocked over Liz’s appearance to voice her annoyance at walking into the Hell-world that Liz had dreamt up in her nightmare like she had originally planned to do. She knew it was unreasonable, but she just kept seeing Liz covered in blood and hearing that Alex and Max were dead.

She blinked surprised eyes at Michael when he stepped between them and then her eyes narrowed. “Michael, what are you, Liz’s protector now? I just wanted to talk to her.”

“Iz, look at her” he stepped to the side so Isabel could look at Liz again. “Does she really look like she’s in a state to talk to anybody right now?”

Liz sputtered “Michael, I’m not a baby, I can speak for myself!”

Focusing on Michael for the moment, Isabel, imitating his posture folded her arms across her chest. “What is going on with you two? Suddenly you’re all buddy-buddy, hanging out with each other, Liz is dreaming about people dying and now she looks like the living dead-”

“What?!?” Michael said and a second later a muted “What?” came from Liz.

“Iz, did you . . . ” Michael’s voice lowered to a whisper “ dreamwalk Liz last night?”

Isabel bristled. “What did you expect Michael? You two have been walking around like you’re bestest-pals, obviously hiding something, and Maria hasn’t been able to get an explanation out of you, so I figured I’d check it out myself.” She shrugged.

“Check it out? Check it out?!? You can’t just go traipsing around . . .” once again his voice lowered “in people’s subconscious when you feel like it Iz-”

“Actually Michael, having this power means that’s exactly what I can do” she said smugly.

“Guys!” Liz said to get their attention, stepping out from behind Michael. Both Michael and Isabel turned to her. “Michael, it’s ok . . . I think . . .” she took a deep breath “I think we’ve been going about this all wrong. I think we need to let everyone in on what’s going on. Maybe working together we can fix this.”

Michael blinked surprised eyes at her.

She turned to Isabel. “Isabel, you’re right, there is a lot going on here that Michael and I haven’t been sharing and I’m beginning to see that that was the wrong way to go. But I don’t want to have to tell this story more than once, so let’s have a meeting tonight at Michael’s and I promise I will tell you guys everything you need to know, ok?”

“Ok” Isabel said hesitantly. It was funny because throughout her whole plan to confront Liz today, it had never occurred to her that Liz might cave quickly. She had been fully prepared to drag her into the Eraser room if-need-be and get answers out of her.

“What time?” Isabel asked quickly, wanting to make sure this meeting actually happened.

“Um, how about 9?” Liz looked at Michael to see if that was ok with him. He nodded because he knew his shift ended at 8, as did Liz and Maria’s. He looked at Isabel.

“Nine’s fine with me” she said and just then the bell rang, signaling the start of the days classes. “Ok, well I’ve got to get to class, so . . .” and she left the sentence dangling as she turned to go.

“Isabel!” Liz called out to her and waited for her to turn back around. “Don’t . . . Don’t tell Tess about the meeting ok?” and she looked around to make sure no one overheard, but students were busily going to their classses and were paying their little group no attention.

“Why not?” Isabel asked suspiciously.

“Because this involves her, ok?” Michael said harshly. “Just trust me Isabel, Tess shouldn’t be anywhere near this meeting, ok?”

Isabel looked at the both of them wearily, but she agreed. “Isabel!” Liz grabbed Isabel’s arm as she began to turn away. When Isabel turned to face her again, Liz dropped her arm and asked pleadingly “Don’t . . . don’t tell anyone about my dream until I can explain, ok?”

Isabel looked skeptical, but looking into Liz’s eyes she could only see grief, strain, and a desire to hold things together, so she nodded. Liz let out the breath she’d been holding waiting for Isabel’s answer. “Anything else?” Isabel asked quietly as she glanced from Michael to Liz. “No, um, that’s it” Liz said looking down at her shoes. Just then the late bell rang, so the three of them rushed off to their respective classes, but not before Michael and Liz exchanged weary glances.

Between the three of them, they spread the word that there was going to be a meeting at Michael’s later that night and at lunchtime Isabel, Maria and Alex discussed what the meeting could possibly be about. Liz and Michael were strangely, or, considering recent events, not so strangely, missing in attendance. Kyle was hanging out with his football buddies. And Max and Tess had been avoiding the group for a while.

“So, Isabel” Maria began, rubbing her hands together “what did you see in Liz’s dream last night?”

“What?” Alex looked from Maria to Isabel. “You-” his voice lowered conspiratorially “dreamwalked Liz last night? Why?”

Before Isabel could answer, Maria cut in “Because of Michael and Liz. Have you seen how weird those two have been acting lately?” By Maria’s tone, one would never guess that Isabel had to point their behavior out to her just the day before.

“So, come on Isabel, spill! What’d you see?” Maria asked eagerly.

“Actually, um, I’m not sure . . .” she said glancing at Alex out of the corner of her eye. “It was all weird and stuff . . . but Liz promised she’d explain everything tonight, so I think we’d better just wait and see . . . ” she trailed off at the unsatisfied look on Maria’s face. “Maria, seriously, I think this meeting will be the answer to everything. We just have to hold off till then.”

“Humpf” Maria said and muttered something about difficult Czechoslovakians, but she let the subject drop.

~~~~

Michael wandered around the school looking for Max. He finally found him under the bleachers in the football field. He ducked out of sight as he watched Tess walking away from him. As he walked up, Max spotted him and immediately tensed up and said “Not this again. Michael I don’t feel like dealing with you right now.”

“Well start feeling like it Maxwell, because you are acting like a jerk right now and take it from me, you’re gonna regret it later.”

“Oh really? Why is that?”

“Because you’re trusting the wrong person-”

“Oh really?” Max interrupted. “So this is about Tess again is it?”

“Yes, this is about the Bitch from Hell, but-” Michael’s words were halted abruptly as Max charged him and they both fell to the ground. Max threw a punch that landed square in Michael’s jaw. They wrestled for a few minutes with Michael throwing a punch that connected with the left side of Max’s face, but not before Max managed to land a punch in Michael’s stomach. Finally Michael used just enough power to throw Max off of him and they both got to their feet, eyeing each other wearily.

Michael spoke up before Max could say anything.

“Look Max, you can be angry or upset at me for telling you the truth. You can even fight me to try to change my mind, but it doesn’t change what’s true. I have no reason to lie to you Maxwell and neither does Liz.” He spit out blood and finished talking. “All I’m saying is think about it Max. Think about who you’ve known the longest, who you trusted since the beginning, and who you had to be convinced to trust. We may not be saying things you want to hear, but we’re not your enemy. Just think about it Max.” And grimacing and holding his jaw, he left Max to his thoughts as he walked away.

Max put his hand to the side of his face, winced and then sat down and held his head in his hands as the now familiar headache started up again.

~~~~

Michael walked up to Liz, who was sitting outside of the library where they had agreed to meet. Before he could even get to her, she looked up and asked “Did you find him?” But then when Michael drew closer and she saw the dirt on his clothes and the bruise forming on his face, her expression darkened. “You found him and he did this to you, didn’t he?”

“Well, he wasn’t too fond of me calling Tess ‘The Bitch from Hell’ . . .”

Liz couldn’t help but slightly smile at the reference, but then she grimaced. “Are you ok Michael?” she asked, concerned as she reached up to touch his bruised face. He ducked away from her hand and said gruffly “Yeah, I’m fine.” But he winced on the last word.

“Fine” Liz said and dropped her hand. “Did you at least get to talk to him?” she asked instead.

“Yeah, I think I planted some seeds in his mind. I think I’ll be able to approach him later and he’ll listen this time.”

“Good, now we just have to prepare for the meeting tonight and figure out what we’ll tell everyone.” The bell signaling the end of lunch rang at that moment. Liz sighed “ . . . and get through the rest of this school day . . .”

~~~

Nine o’clock rolled around and things were quiet in Michael’s apartment. Kyle and Maria were sitting on Michael’s sofa and Michael and Liz were sitting on the stools at the counter. Michael was nursing an ice pack to his jaw and Liz was massaging her temples, trying to fend off an oncoming headache. The tension in the room was palpable. Maria had been trying unsuccessfully to pry information from them, but they’d insisted that nothing would be discussed until everyone was present. Kyle had tried to make a joke but no one laughed so he shut up and was now studying his nails.

Just as the silence was becoming suffocating, Isabel and Alex came barreling into the apartment, a little out of breath from rushing. “Sorry we’re late” Isabel said. “Alex was asleep when I got to his house and I had to wake him up.” She rolled her eyes as she moved towards the sofa. Maria scooted over for her while pushing Kyle off the sofa, he grumbled but moved to the floor. Alex perched on the arm of the sofa, next to Isabel.

Liz stood. “I guess we can get started . . .” she said, looking around at everyone assembled.

“Wait, where’s Max? I thought he’d be here” Alex said.

“Max is with Tess. He didn’t want to come to the meeting tonight” Isabel answered. Both Maria and Alex looked at Liz with concern at that statement, but she strove to look unaffected.

Kyle spoke up next.

“About that . . . how come we weren’t supposed to tell Tess about this meeting? What’s going on?”

“We’ll get to Tess in a minute” Liz replied. She nervously tucked her hair behind her ear and then said “Ok, so I called this meeting because . . .” she faltered. Michael awkwardly patted her on the shoulder. She gave him a grateful smile, then turned forward again. Maria and Isabel exchanged a look and Alex was just baffled. When did Michael and Liz grow so close? Where had he been when this happened? He looked across at Liz as she began to speak again.

“I called this meeting because Michael and I have been keeping something from you . . .”

“I knew it!” Maria broke in. “You two are fooling around, aren’t you?” She pulled out her cedar oil and took a sniff as she started to hyperventilate, shooting daggers at Michael over her oil.

Liz gave her an exasperated look. “Maria, why would you even think that? It’s nothing like that. I would never do that to you and neither would Michael. You know that.” She waited for Maria to meet her eyes and nod. Maria mumbled “Sorry, go ahead and continue . . .”

Liz took a deep breath then she addressed the room again.

“Some bad things are about to happen, if we aren’t able to stop them . . .” She held her hand up to ward off the questions she knew were about to come from everyone. “There’s a lot I need to tell all of you, and I’ll try to explain as best I can. So let’s start at the beginning . . .”

And Liz found herself re-telling the story of Future Max for the third time. It was ironic that for so long it was a carefully guarded secret that she didn’t tell anyone and now it seemed like every time she turned around she was telling this story. As she finished, she looked from face to face, noting the different expressions. Maria and Michael looked unaffected of course because they both knew the story. In fact, when she’d told Maria, to her supreme embarrassment Maria had sung “Wind Beneath My Wings” to her. Liz smiled slightly at the memory.

Isabel looked incredulous and slightly disbelieving. Alex was looking at her with quiet compassion for all she’d been through and Kyle’s expression was one of dawning comprehension.

“That was why . . . ?”

“Yeah Kyle, that’s why I asked for your help. I’m sorry I had to drag you into all of this” she gestured with her hands helplessly.

“Don’t worry about it Liz. At least it was for a worthy cause like trying to save the world. I thought we were just trying to piss off Max.” He grinned at her and then looked sheepish with the glares he got from Isabel and Michael.

“So ok, why should we believe any of this? How do we know you’re telling the truth now, if you lied to Max before?” Isabel asked staring at Liz challengingly. Maria tensed up as if to defend Liz and Alex reached for Isabel’s hand. However, Liz had fully expected doubt from Isabel, just as she had expected it from Michael before, so she was prepared. She replied before either of them could interject. “Because Kyle was there and he can vouch for the fact that it was a set up, although he didn’t know why. And because I have no reason to make this up. I was never even supposed to tell any of you. The only reason why I am now is because I know we made things worse and that the world will still end if we don’t do things differently.” Isabel still looked skeptical, so Liz pulled out the trump card she’d hoped she wouldn’t have to use. She said it softly, hoping to lessen the blow. “And because you saw the future in my dream Isabel. That was all real.” Isabel paled and her hand tightened in Alex’s. “And it will happen again if we don’t prevent it.”

“What did you see Isabel? What will happen?” Maria asked, supremely curious now and concerned about how pale Isabel had gotten suddenly.

Liz interrupted before Isabel could reveal anything Liz didn’t want revealed just yet. “We’ll get to the future in a minute Maria, there’s still more to explain.”

Recovering although she still looked pale, Isabel asked “Ok, so what does that future have to do with the here and now? Didn’t your ‘act’ fix things?”

“Well, see, that’s the thing . . .” Liz began. “It didn’t. In fact, it just made things worse. Instead of the world ending in 14 years, it’ll end in July.”

The word “July” echoed around the room, but everyone was too stunned to interrupt.

“See the mistake both Future Max and I made was in trying to keep Tess in town. We should have found some other way to prevent the end of the world, because having Tess here just made things worse.”

“Worse how?” Kyle asked.

“Well, see, in Future Max’s timeline, Tess left soon after Max and I got back together, so no one ever knew what kind of damage she would cause if she stuck around.”

“What makes you so sure Tess will cause ‘damage’?” Kyle asked.

“Because I was there.” She held up her hand once again to fend off questions. “See I lived that future . . . I lived that end of the world . . .” There were stunned looks on everyone’s faces, but Liz continued on. “Future Max figured that changing things the way we did might go badly, so he left a way for me to come back in time if I needed to and I did.”

The room was completely silent as everyone tried to digest this.

“So we’re dealing with two different timelines here?” Alex asked. “One where Tess left and the world ended in 14 years. And one where she stayed and the world ended in July?”

Liz thanked god for Alex’s brilliant mind in that moment for summarizing everything so well. “Yes, Alex that’s exactly what’s going on.”

“So you’re saying that you’ve come back from that second future? The one that you and Future Max created?” he continued to ask. Liz could practically see the gears turning in his head, trying to sort all of this out.

“Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m saying.”

“So, you’re not our Liz? You’re actually some kind of ‘Future Liz’?” Maria asked.

“No, I’m still me and we can get into the semantics later, but right now that’s not the important thing. The important thing is that the end of the world events are triggered by things that will happen in a little over a week from now.” She let that sink in and then continued. “When all was said and done in my timeline, Tess had harmed several members of our group, we were weakened, and the Skins attacked and won. All because we trusted the wrong person, let the wrong person into our inner-circle.”

“So Tess is at the heart of this?” Kyle asked, dazed.

“Yeah Kyle, I’m sorry, but it’s true.”

“I never trusted her . . . wicked bitch of the west . . . somebody should drop a house on her . . .” Maria muttered as she pulled out her cedar oil again.

“So how far back did you go?” Alex asked.

“What do you mean?”

“How far back in time did you go to try to fix things?”

“I came back on the 5th of this month, so just a few months in time . . . ”

“If Tess is at the root of this, how come you didn’t go back further?” Isabel asked. “Why didn’t you just go back to before she came and convince us not to trust her, not to let her in?”

They were now getting to the hard questions. The questions Liz had asked herself when she began to doubt she could make a difference in this reality. She gave them the same answers she gave herself.

“Because who knows what I would have changed if I’d gone back that far?” Liz said as she paced. “I knew . . . I knew, I had to change things. But what if . . . what if I went back and we handled Tess as soon as she came and then the White Room thing happened and you guys needed her to rescue Max?” Michael put a reassuring hand on Liz’s shoulder and her pacing stopped.

Everyone was quiet.

Liz stared unseeing across the room as she said “And this is exactly what I mean. What Future Max and I did accelerated the end of the world because it was huge. I didn’t . . . I didn’t want to chance making another drastic mistake. So I figured if I could come back to the most recent pivotal event, the ripple effect would be lessened . . .”

Maria still continued to grumble quietly to herself as Alex looked concerned over how much this discussion seemed to be taking out of Liz. She almost appeared to be coming apart at the seams. But as he watched she took a deep breath, let it out, and continued to talk.

“The most important person to bring over to our side now is Max. We need to get him away from Tess . . . soon. I’ve tried talking to him and so has Michael. I didn’t do too well, but Michael has managed to make some progress.”

All eyes turned to Michael who was still nursing an ice pack to his jaw.

“But obviously, it’s not going the greatest.” She turned to Isabel “And Isabel, this is where you come in. We need you to talk to Max and try to convince him that what I’ve told you is the truth. That he can’t trust Tess and that she means us harm.”

Isabel nodded and grasped Alex’s hand tighter. He didn’t mind, he was still worried over how pale she was.

Liz fielded some more questions from the group, and they just kept coming up with new ones until she felt like her head would explode from all the pressure. Her head was killing her and she was exhausted. Alex was about to speak up and end the questioning, but Michael beat him to the punch. Michael set down his ice pack and interrupted Isabel’s next question just as Alex had reached out and touched Isabel’s arm to get her attention.

“Ok guys” Michael said. “I think that’s enough for today.” Liz looked at him gratefully. He had been silent throughout the meeting, letting Liz handle the questions, but he could sense that she needed a break now, so he’d stepped in. “We can meet up again tomorrow night and continue this. Hopefully Max will join us then and we can make a group decision about what to do about Tess.” He glanced at Maria and said wryly “Besides dropping a house on her.” He sobered. “But everyone keep in mind, until we have Max on our side and know what we’re gonna do about Tess, we can’t tip our hands on what we know. Tess was somehow able to do serious damage in that other reality. We can’t let that happen again. Don’t underestimate her. She is very dangerous.”

Kyle looked back and forth between Michael and Liz, incredulous. He had been too shocked through most of the meeting finding out about Tess to say much of anything. But now, when he realized that they expected him to go home and pretend everything was normal, he was shocked that this was their plan.

“So what? I’m supposed to go to my home that I share with my Dad, and oh yeah, A PSYCHO ALIEN and wait for her to work the whammy on us while we sleep?!?”

“Kyle, you’ll be ok” Liz responded. “I was there, remember? She didn’t target you or your father. I’m sorry you’re stuck living with her, knowing what you now know, but we will handle this situation soon. Until then just try to act as normal as possible.” Kyle rolled his eyes, but nodded his head. There was nothing to be done about it now and they couldn’t let her know they suspected anything. He’d just have to grin and bear it.

Michael took that as his cue and addressed the room “Ok, guys, we’ll meet tomorrow. Now everybody out so I can try to get some sleep. Oh and if Tess asks about the meeting, just tell her it was about Liz thinking she had powers, but she didn’t. She’ll lose interest real quick when she hears that.”

Everyone nodded their heads. Kyle looked at Liz as if to say something else, but then he grudgingly got to his feet and made his exit out of the apartment. Maria walked over to Liz and threw her arm over her shoulder. “Chica, you riding with me?”

Isabel stepped up. “Um, I’ll give her a ride. I wanted to talk to Liz anyway.” Both girls looked at her a little surprised, but then Liz’s expression changed to one of resignation.

“Ok” Maria said hesitantly, glancing from Isabel to Liz, but seeing that Liz was nodding at her to go, Maria gave Liz a half-hug, stepped over to Michael and planted a kiss on his uninjured cheek, and then stepped to the door.

“Maria” Isabel called out. Maria paused at the door. “Can you give Alex a ride home? I’m gonna drive around for awhile after I drop Liz off and see if I can find Max.”

Alex had been watching all of this from his perch on Michael’s couch. Puzzled by all the different group dynamics that seemed to have sprung up suddenly. He focused on Isabel. “Isabel, you sure you don’t want some company?” he asked with a concerned look. She hugged him and didn’t want to let him go, but she said “No Alex, go ahead and ride with Maria. I’ll call you later, ok?”

“Ok” he said and squeezed her hand. He stepped over to Liz. “You gonna be ok?” he asked her softly. She gave him a small, yet sincere smile that somehow reminded him of how strong Liz truly was. He didn’t think he could have done half of what Liz had done in the past few months. He met her eyes for a moment and then, like he’d found what he was looking for, he gave her his trademark Alex-grin, ruffled her hair and then followed Maria through the door. As it closed behind them, it left just Isabel, Michael and Liz in Michael’s living room.

Not wasting any time, as soon as the door closed behind them, Isabel said softly “The dream, Liz . . . Alex and Max really died?”

Liz backed up to the couch and wearily sat down. She could barely meet Isabel’s eyes so she focused on Michael’s carpet instead as she said softly “Yeah . . . How much did you see?”

“The-the ride to the Crashdown and the stuff that followed . . . ” Isabel said as she too made her way to the sofa as her legs threatened to give out on her. Michael quietly left the room, leaving Isabel and Liz to talk alone.

“That . . . that was my own personal reminder of the worst day of my life.” Liz didn’t even notice she was wringing her hands as she finally met Isabel’s yes. Isabel inhaled sharply at the pain and suffering so clearly displayed there.

But then Liz blinked and the look was gone, leaving Isabel to wonder if she had imagined it.

Liz continued to speak. “The thing is, I haven’t had that dream since I entered this reality. The only reason I can figure of why I had it now is that it’s my mind reminding me that that day might still happen if I don’t prevent it. Isabel . . . I didn’t want to say anything in front of him, but Tess will kill Alex first” she said urgently. Isabel inhaled sharply. “We have to prevent that this time around. But the thing is . . . she’s mindwarping him to get him to interpret the Destiny book. It has all the anwers, including how to work the granolith. Tess’s mindwarp is doing damage to Alex’s brain and now he’s sick . . . even though half the time he seems to be ok. We need Max to heal him Isabel. Or else it might not matter if we prevent Tess from killing him this time around, he’ll . . . he’ll still die.”

“Ok” Isabel said shakily. “Liz, why . . . why didn’t you tell Alex and the group exactly what Tess is doing . . . and what she’ll do?”

Liz met her gaze straight-on. “Would you want to know that an evil alien is turning your mind to mush and there’s nothing you can do about it?”

Isabel was silent.

“That’s exactly why I didn’t say anything. The truth will come out. It always does. But not now. Not while Alex is still in danger.”

Liz met Isabel’s eyes for a second and then she nodded. She got up and started towards the door. “We should go” she said softly. “The sooner you drop me off, the sooner you can go and find Max and get him to heal Alex.” Isabel got shakily to her feet. “Michael” Liz called out. Michael came out of his bedroom quickly. “We’re heading out.”

“Ok” Michael answered. He tentatively went up to Liz and gave her a quick hug, then pulled Isabel in for a hug as well. Both women were taken by surprise. “Take care of her” he whispered to Isabel before he let her go. Isabel just nodded and pulled Liz out of the apartment.

Michael stood at the window and watched them walk to Isabel’s parent’s car, get in and drive away. Today had been a hard day for all of them, but it had been especially hard for Liz. He just hoped that Isabel was able to get through to Max, then at least it would be worth it.

Time was running out for all of them. He could practically hear the clock counting down.

~~~~

The ride to the Crashdown went by in silence, both Liz and Isabel too consumed with their own thoughts to bother with conversation. As Isabel pulled up outside, she turned and gave Liz a hug. “Thank you Liz” she said and then turned to face forward again so Liz wouldn’t see the tears forming in her eyes. Liz knew she was thanking her for all she’d tried to do to save them and all she was doing now. Even though she felt Isabel’s thanks was misplaced, she didn’t tell her that. She simply said “You’re welcome” and climbed from the vehicle. She watched as Isabel pulled away from the curb to go in search of Max.

She stood there in front of the Crashdown for a while, enjoying the wind blowing past her face, just pondering the meeting and what she hoped had been accomplished there. She didn’t even notice someone had walked up until she heard her name softly spoken.

“Liz”

She’d know that voice anywhere. She turned slowly, hoping she wasn’t hallucinating, because standing just a few feet away from her was a very lost looking Max . . .

tbc


~~~~~~

Lyrics by Kendall Payne "You will never leave me"



Wanna see what life would be like if the shooting never happened?
Well read my fic and find out:

Running with Scissors




[ edited 1 time(s), last at 17-Feb-2003 9:45:55 PM ]
posted on 30-Dec-2002 10:57:20 PM
Chapter 14

Max had found himself standing in the Crashdown’s alley once again. Only this time when he looked up there were no welcoming lights above beckoning to him.

Liz wasn’t home.

Tamping down on his disappointment, he once again tried to sort through his thoughts. His mind was a sea of confusion, with echoes of what Michael had said to him earlier floating around.

‘Think about . . . who you trusted since the beginning and who you had to be convinced to trust . . .’

‘We’re not your enemy . . . ’


He realized that somewhere along the way he must have lost his way, because it seemed a line had been drawn in the sand between him and his friends.

They’d ended up on opposing sides.

How had things gotten this way?

He always knew he could trust Michael. He always knew he could trust Liz. So why suddenly did it seem so hard?

It wasn’t until he found himself below Liz’s balcony that he realized how much he had wanted her to be home. His emotions were in a turmoil and all he knew is he wanted to see her, wanted to figure out how things had come to be this way.

But she wasn’t there.

So, looking up one last time, he turned and walked dejectedly out of the alley, intending to start towards home. But as he stepped out into the open, something compelled him to look up. And when he did, there Liz stood in front of the Crashdown with the wind whipping her hair around her face.

And he felt some of the constriction in his chest ease . . .

~*Find me here*~

His feet carried him to her before he even knew he was moving. Her name tumbled from his lips in a whisper, afraid she’d disappear if he spoke louder.

~*Speak to me*~

And as she turned towards him, time seemed to slow down and all he wanted to do was gather her into his arms and know that it would be ok, because it hadn’t been ok for so long . . .

~*I want to feel you*~
~*I need to hear you*~


She looked so hopeful . . .

“Max” she breathed his name in surprise and stepped towards him.

~*You are the light*~
~*That’s leading me*~


And as their eyes met, the world fell away.

He stepped closer.

~*To the place*~
~*Where I find peace*~
~*Again*~


Suddenly the spell was broken as some people came walking out of the Crashdown, talking and laughing.

~*You are the strength*~
~*That keeps me walking*~


Max blinked and looked around confused, feeling out of place all of a sudden.

“I . . . I should go” he said haltingly and began to turn away.

“Please” she said desperately as she reached out and grabbed his hand “don’t go.”

She had a second to notice that his fingers seemed to curve almost instinctively around hers . . .

~*You are the hope*~
~*That keeps me trusting*~


Then it felt like a bolt of electricity ran through both of them as the flashes started . . .

~*You are the light*~
~*To my soul*~


At first the images whirled by so fast they were barely discernible. Shared moments between the two of them. Precious moments. But then they started to slow down.

~*You are my purpose*~
~*You’re everything*~


Max saw himself appear to her, but he was somehow older.

~*And how can I stand here with you*~
~*And not be moved by you*~


Conversations rushed by . . .

“No, you're not Max, ok? You . . . you're like a shapeshifter. You are like some other kind of alien, with, like, the ability to look like Max with that beard and those . . . and those grey hairs.”

“If I were a shapeshifter, there's no way I could tell the future. In approximately 10 seconds, I will show up outside your window and begin singing to you . . . accompanied by a mariachi band.”

“Why are you here?”

“14 years from now, we are taken over by our enemies.”

“I need you to help me fall out of love with you.”

“Did we get married?”

“We eloped. We were 19.”


~*Would you tell me how could it be*~
~*Any better than this*~


“Do you know how hard it was for me to tell him that I didn't want to die for him? He's the only reason that I'm alive right now. You . . . you've . . . you gotta come up with another plan. Please go to someone else. I . . . I just . . . I can't do this anymore.”

“Just 25 minutes before I came here, I held Michael in my arms . . . dead. Isabel died 2 weeks before that. Now you have to do this. You have to find a way. All of our lives depend on it.”

“How? What can I do that's gonna make you turn away from me?”

“You really think this is gonna work? I would never be jealous of Kyle.”

“Don't you realize what you are to me? What you're always gonna be? You're the love of my life. Everyone else is gonna be second best. There'll never be another you.”


~*You calm the storms*~
~*And you give me rest*~


“I wanna have my wedding dance.”

He saw the two of them dancing, his future self spinning her around. And then he disappeared, leaving a despondent Liz behind.

Max felt like his whole world was crumbling. What he’d seen, it couldn’t be, it just couldn’t. Liz couldn’t have gone through all of that for them, for him, because he asked her to . . .

He looked into her anguished eyes and couldn’t deny it was all true.

~*You hold me in your hands*~
~*You won’t let me fall*~


She didn’t sleep with Kyle.

They got married.

Michael and Isabel died?

The flashes changed again and suddenly Alex was holding a gun and yelling at Tess.

~*You steal my heart*~
~*And you take my breath away*~


“You mindwarped me for two months while I decoded that alien book for you and now there's nothing left for you to mindwarp. You destroyed my mind! How could you do this to me?”

~*Would you take me in*~
~*Take me deeper now*~


He saw Tess concentrate and make Alex shoot himself . . . and the blood! There was so much blood! He saw Liz’s valiant efforts to stop the bleeding. Her denial . . .

“Alex, you have to wake up!”


His body shook with shock. What had Liz been through?

~*And how can I stand here with you*~
~*And not be moved by you*~


He saw himself show up and try to heal Alex.

“It’s too late . . . He’s gone Liz . . . I can’t heal him.”

Then he saw himself leave to go after Tess . . . Leave Liz sitting broken on the floor of Alex’s room . . .

In the next flash he saw himself on the floor of the pod chamber with wide, unseeing eyes and a silver hand print burned into his chest.


He was witnessing his own death . . .

He saw them bury him and then Alex’s funeral.

He saw months of Liz’s anguish and her trying to find a way to deal with the loss. Then he saw her find a way to use the granolith to go back in time . . .


~*Would you tell me how could it be*~
~*Any better than this*~


But not before seeing more of the people she loved die.

~*And how can I stand here with you*~
~*And not be moved by you*~


Her first thoughts when she came back were of him.

~*Would you tell me how could it be*~
~*Any better than this*~


He saw himself sitting on his bed, hugging Tess. Then him and Tess walking into class together.

He felt Liz’s fear, her anguish, her terror that she might not be able to change things, that the future she’d come from might happen again. Then he saw her attempt to talk to him. His angry words to her, just the day before.


His horror at himself was building.

He saw himself yelling at her and Michael about how Liz wasn’t one of them. He saw the triumphant look Tess threw back at them as she walked away. He saw Michael’s face after their fight-

~*Cause you're all I want*~
~*You're all I need*~


He broke contact with Liz and stepped back . . .

Horror, shock, fear, anguish . . .

He couldn’t even sort though the emotions, they were so intense . . . He felt like there were shockwaves pulsing through his body. It was all just too much . . . He couldn’t process it all . . .

What he’d seen, what he’d done, what Liz had been through . . .

And overlaying all of that was disgust at himself . . . He felt sick at his part in all of that . . . How could he have treated the people he cared about so badly? Treated Liz so badly?

~*You're everything*~
~*Everything*~


His shocked eyes met her anguished ones and the heartbreak, pain, and yes, still, love shining through them pushed the air from his lungs.

He didn’t deserve to have her look at him that way . . .

The words slipped from his mouth as he stepped even further away from her.

~*You're all I want*~

“I’m . . . I’m sorry Liz . . . I’m, I’m so sorry” he said as he turned and ran away, needing time, space, clarity to sort it all out . . .

~*You're all I need*~

“Max, please don’t leave me!” she cried.

But he was already gone.

~*You're everything*~
~*Everything*~


She fell to the ground and cried.

How long she stayed that way, she didn’t know, but suddenly someone was pulling her up and gathering her into their arms.

“Max?” she said softly until she looked up and saw her father’s concerned eyes looking down at her.

“Dad?” she blinked. “What are you doing out here?”

“The better question is, what are you doing out here on the sidewalk crying?” he asked in concern.

“I . . . I . . .” she sniffed, trying to compose herself, trying to come up with a reason because there was no way she could tell him what really happened.

“It’s ok Lizzie” he said like he understood. “Let’s just get you inside, ok?” She nodded and he guided her into the Crashdown and up the stairs.

~*Would you tell me how could it be*~
~*Any better than this*~


~~~~

Max was standing at the base of the ladder to Liz’s balcony, about to climb up, when a car drove by the alleyway, reversed and then came straight toward him, twin lights splitting the night in front of him. He put up his arm to block the light and squinted to see if the person was a friend or foe. The driver’s door slowly opened and before Max could react, he heard his sister’s voice say “Max!” in relief.

He dropped his arm and almost fell backward when Isabel rushed at him and crushed him in a hug. “Somehow I knew I’d find you here!”

“Isabel?” he stepped back from her. “What are you doing here?”

“I was looking for you- Meeting tonight- Tess is bad- Alex is in danger- Max, you have to heal Alex!” Isabel said, her words tripping over each other in her attempt to get them out.

“Heal Alex? What are you talking about Iz?” Max said in fear over the last thing she’d said.

“Max, I know you probably aren’t going to believe this, but . . . Tess is doing something to Alex . . . to his mind Max. We couldn’t even tell him it’s so awful! . . . But if you don’t . . . if you can’t fix it, he might die!”

Max stumbled to the hood of his parent’s car and sat down, his legs suddenly feeling rubbery.

Was history repeating itself? Is this what Liz was trying to fix?

Everything had turned upside down in the space of a few hours. Or maybe it’d just turned right side up again. He wasn’t sure. But suddenly it seemed that up was down, right was wrong, and Tess was bad. How had he spent all that time with her and not sensed that? How had he forgotten what she’d done when she first came to Roswell? How had he let her in when he used to be so adamant about keeping her out?

He knew there were answers to these questions somewhere, he just couldn’t seem to find his way to them. He was still having trouble sorting through it. So he’d returned to Liz . . . his true north, his beacon, his home . . . because he realized that over the past few months, even when he felt confused about practically everything, his walks . . . his path still led him to Liz. And after earlier, when he’d deserted her (‘again!’ his mind screamed) he needed to know that she was ok. Heck, he just needed her period, he thought. Which again drew his gaze to her balcony . . .

Isabel had been trying to patiently wait for Max to work through the shock of it all, but found she was having a hard time considering how concerned she was over Alex. She began shifting from foot to foot in a very un-Isabel-like manner, then came to a decision.

“Max! We have to go!” she said and when he didn’t move or even seem to have heard her, she took matters into her own hands and dragged him off the hood of the car and pushed him into the passenger seat.

He was about to protest, but thought better of it when he looked at Isabel’s face and saw that she was barely holding it together. So as she walked around to the driver’s side of the car, he took one last wistful look at the ladder to Liz’s balcony . . .

Isabel spoke up as she got in next to him.

“The meeting Max! Liz did . . . Liz did this . . . this huge thing for us, even though we didn’t know about it at the time but she-”

Quietly he interrupted “I know Isabel.”

“You know? How do you know? When did you find out? Why didn’t you tell me? What-”

“Isabel, take a breath! I found out tonight. I . . . I got flashes from Liz and I saw it . . . all of it . . . what she did, how she . . . how she tried to save us . . .” He could barely form the words to describe what Liz had done for them, it was so much. And she had been alone in most of it . . .

Isabel just nodded and focused on the road ahead, trying not to think about what Liz had lived through, or that god-awful nightmare or the damage Tess was doing to Alex’s mind: All things she had been unsuccessfully trying to tune out since the meeting. She hoped that Max was able to fix what was wrong with Alex. She was so afraid of losing him. Her hands were shaking as she pulled into Alex’s driveway and cut the engine, tears already beginning to pour from her eyes thinking about him dying.

She wiped them away, but they just kept coming. She reached for the door handle but Max’s hand on her arm stopped her. He had noticed her tears and realized that this wouldn’t work.

“Isabel, I think you should go home.”

“But-”

“No buts Isabel. Alex doesn’t know what Tess is doing to him, right?”

She shook her head.

“So this is gonna be hard enough for him to find out that Tess has been messing with his mind without you breaking down in front of him.”

Isabel was having an internal war, torn between what Max was saying and her desire to be there for Alex.

Max continued on.

“Besides, I need you to cover for me with Mom and Dad. I’ve been leaving out a lot lately without offering any kind of explanation. You and I both know that if at least one of us is home they’ll worry less.”

“Izzy, I’ll take care of him, I promise. And you can call him later to see how he’s feeling, ok?”

Isabel silently nodded her head, wiping the remaining tears from her face. Max squeezed her hand and climbed out of the car.

“Max!” Isabel called through the open window. “Tell him . . .” she trailed off, not really sure what she wanted Max to tell Alex for her.

“Iz, I’ll tell him you wanted to be here . . . It’ll be ok, I promise . . . Now get outta here before you wake the neighbors!” he said to her kiddingly.

He got a shaky smile as a reward and then she pulled out of the driveway.

Max looked up at the stars as if to draw strength from them, took a deep breath and then walked to the front door and knocked.

tbc . . .


Lyrics from “Everything” by Lifehouse



Wanna see what life would be like if the shooting never happened?
Well read my fic and find out:

Running with Scissors




[ edited 2 time(s), last at 17-Feb-2003 9:46:41 PM ]
posted on 30-Dec-2002 10:58:54 PM
Chapter 15

Max raised his hand to lift the knocker on Alex’s door again, after having waited a few seconds to see if someone would answer. Just as the knocker was about to make contact with the door, it slowly swung open and a sleepy-looking Alex stood in front of him, rubbing his eyes.

“Max?” Alex asked drowsily. “What are you doing here?”

“Um yeah, I just dropped by to, uh, see you . . .” Max said and trailed off uncertainly, not sure how to go about informing Alex that Tess had been messing with his mind and he had come to ‘fix the damage.’

Alex blinked at him, starting to wake up some. “You came to see me?” he asked surprised. Then he started peering around Max. “You know, Isabel is looking for you man. You should’ve come to the meeting tonight. Big stuff’s happening. Evil aliens, the world ending, Liz and Michael bonding, all types of stuff . . .” Alex babbled on because he wasn’t sure why Max was there. What if Tess was controlling him?

“Alex!” Max said, interrupting him. “Isabel was the one who dropped me off here. I, I know about what happened before with Liz. I know more than I wish I knew honestly” he said as he ran a hand tiredly through his hair.

“You know?” Alex asked and let out the breath he’d been holding in relief. “Well, come on in man!” he said enthusiastically as he led Max into the living room. “So why are you here? Shouldn’t you be out devising a plan to defeat Tess or making up with Liz or apologizing to Michael or something?”

Max sat down heavily on the sofa, ignoring Alex’s babble and trying to think of how to approach the reason for his visit. He looked at the stairs.

“Uh, did I wake your parents? Is it a problem me dropping by so late?” Max said and began rising from his seat, silently berating himself for not even thinking about Alex’s parents beforehand.

“No, it’s ok man, sit down. They’re away on some week-long getaway . . . children optional. So it’s just little ‘ol me here” Alex said as he settled on the sofa across from Max.

“Ok, um, good” Max said as he ran his hands through his hair again and prepared to get to the reason why he was there.

“Alex, how, uh, how have you been feeling lately?”

“Well, I’ve been . . . wait, huh?” Alex said, confused. Then comprehension dawned. “Is this about me going to the nurse yesterday? Did Liz or - or Isabel send you over here to heal me? ‘Cause it’s nothing really. We have bigger fish to fry right about now what with-”

“Alex!” Max interrupted him again. “It’s not ‘nothing.’ Tess has been mind warping you and it’s doing damage. I’m here to fix it” he said evenly as he looked directly at Alex. He noted the denial that came over Alex’s face before he even spoke a word.

“What?!? Tess isn’t doing anything to me! I’d know if she . . .” he trailed off as he saw the serious look on Max’s face, realizing that with all that was going on, Max would not have come if there wasn’t a possibility of truth to what he said. Alex still found himself resistant to the idea though. He couldn’t accept that Tess could have played around in his mind and he not at least have an inkling of it. But he knew Max wouldn’t leave until he’d at least tried to heal him so he agreed.

“Fine, fine” he said as he tugged on the bottom of his t-shirt restlessly. “You go ahead and do your, your hocus-pocus thing, but when you find that it’s just a case of tiredness, won’t you feel silly?”

For all his bravado, he still shrunk back as Max moved to sit beside him. “This isn’t . . .” he gulped “ . . . gonna hurt, is it? ‘Cause I have a low pain threshold and-”

Max was now starting to regret his decision to not let Isabel accompany him, because Alex obviously needed someone to calm him down and, for all the time they’d spent around each other, Max really didn’t know what to say.

“It’s not gonna hurt. Just . . . just sit back and let me fix whatever’s wrong, ok?”

Alex just nodded, so Max raised his hands and placed them on either side of Alex’s head. He closed his eyes and concentrated.

Alex found this whole situation very strange, but he trusted Max, so he just waited, wondering if it was working. He was about to speak up and voice his question out loud when the first flash hit.

*Flash*

Tess coming to Alex under the guise of needing help with an assignment and searching his mind for the ability to interpret the Destiny book.


*Flash*

Alex starting the interpretation, but telling Tess that he needs more power to decipher the codes.


*Flash*

Alex and Liz discussing the new supercomputer at UNM during lunch and Tess sitting quietly at the table.


*Flash*

Tess taking Alex to his guidance counselor and mind warping him into arranging a fake trip to Sweden for Alex to cover an extended stay at the University of New Mexico.


*Flash*

Alex resisting leaving his friends and family to go stay in UNM’s dorm. Tess informing him that he will interpret the Destiny book using the supercomputer or she’ll start ‘accidentally’ killing his friends . . . starting with Liz because she would love for Liz to be out of her hair for good.


*Flash*

Days and days of working on the interpretation, practically day and night. Then one day a ray of hope enters Alex’s field of vision in the form of Jennifer Coleman. She notices the delivery guy bringing him Thai food and starts up a conversation. She drops by a couple of times, but it doesn’t last long after Tess shows up during one of the times that they’re talking. She leads Jennifer away and she never stops by again. Tess comes back with pictures that she tells Alex to set aside for later. Then the pain begins.

She’s hurting him and she won’t stop.

He begs her to stop.

His head feels like it’s going to explode from all of the pressure, but Tess says that she’s just teaching him a lesson. Showing him what she can do if he doesn’t focus on interpreting the book. What she can and will do to him and all the people he cares about.

The pain is so intense he passes out.

When he wakes up, Tess is sitting there and she calmly rises and tells him to get back to work.



*Flash*

Tess waking Alex up and telling him to get over to the lab and finish interpreting the book. When he insists he needs rest, that his head is hurting, Tess causes the headaches to get worse, till he can barely stand.


*Flash*

Tess standing over a obviously in pain Alex. Her telling him that him and his ‘precious friends’ were insignificant little specks on her radar. Then her kicking him in the stomach and telling him once again to get back to work.

Alex felt like his head was ripping in two from all of the new memories he’d suddenly received. But then, as abruptly as they’d started, the flashes stopped.

And Alex was so thankful.

He opened his eyes and found that he felt . . . good. Better than he had in ages. There was no headache, no tiredness, no nothing. He felt like himself again.

He looked over at Max and Max opened his eyes and looked back at him. “Are you ok?” Max asked him. “How do you feel?” he said weakly.

“I feel great!” Alex informed him. “Better than I have in like, forever! But you man, how do you feel? You look really tired.”

“Yeah, I am. Just let me . . . I, I’m gonna rest here for a minute, ok?”

“Sure man, whatever you need . . . And, and thanks” Alex said to him gratefully.

Max nodded tiredly, then closed his eyes. The last thing he saw was a happy Alex sitting next to him.

Alex got up and tried to hold on to that happy feeling, but he found that it was quickly giving way to anger. An anger so intense and deep, it went to his very core.

Tess had stolen months of his life, she’d violated his memories, she’d threatened his friends, and she would eventually cause the end of the world if she wasn’t stopped. She’d invaded his mind and nearly killed him. And she didn’t even care.

Someone had to stop her. It might as well be him. She’d never expect it from him.

He took one last look at Max sleeping peacefully on the couch. Then he turned and strode purposefully to his father’s study, where his father kept his gun.

Max woke a little while later and at first he had no idea where he was. Then looking around, it all came back to him. Healing Alex and then falling asleep. He got up and walked around. Finally he went up the stairs expecting to find Alex, but all he found was empty rooms.

Alex was gone.

~~~

The phone rung shrilly, yanking Liz out of a troubled sleep.

“Hello?” she mumbled, trying to shake off the lingering traces of her dreams.

“Liz! It’s Max, I’m uh, sorry to be calling you so late, but I’m, I’m kinda worried . . .”

“Max? What’s wrong?” Liz asked, instantly awake and alert.

“It’s uh, it’s Alex . . . I healed him earlier tonight and now he’s, uh, he’s gone . . .”

Liz was quiet, trying to digest this information and figure out what it meant. Warning bells started going off in her head after a few seconds.

“Oh My God Max! The Valenti’s! You have to get there now, he’s going after Tess!!!”

“What? Why would he go alone?”

“Max, just go now!!! I’ll meet you over there!” she said and hung up the phone. She threw on a jacket over her pajamas and quickly slid on her sneakers then quietly left her room. She grabbed the keys to her parents car out of the bowl on the table and eased out of the apartment. Once out she ran down the stairs, out the door and jumped into the car and sped over to the Valenti’s . . . breaking all sorts of speeding laws and running lights along the way. She stopped behind Max’s haphazardly parked jeep and ran to the door that was already open and stepped inside. She had only moments to assess the situation inside.

Max was standing near the door with his hands outstretched in a supplicating gesture, Tess was standing in front of the kitchen, and Alex was standing next to the sofa.

And he had a gun aimed square at Tess.

~*I know some things never change*~
~*But this can’t be one of them*~


‘Not again. Not again’ she chanted in her mind. But even as she was thinking this, she saw Tess begin to concentrate and the gun began to shake in Alex’s hand.

~*I don’t think I can stand it*~
~*Any longer*~


Without thinking, she dove for Alex and knocked the gun out of his hands.

~*Are you scared?*~

“Liz?” he questioned as he flew sideways from the impact, but somehow they both managed to stay standing. He shook his head to try to clear it and looked down, surprised, at Liz. Max was also staring at Liz surprised. So no one was prepared for what happened next.

~*Are you scared?*~

“You have been a thorn in my side for the last time Liz Parker! I should have killed you a long time ago” Tess said as she leveled the gun at Liz and began squeezing the trigger.

~*Are you scared?*~

“Noooooo!” Max yelled, diving in front of Liz at the same moment the gun discharged and firing a blast at Tess simultaneously.

~*‘Cause if you’re scared*~

The blast sent Tess sailing across the room. She hit her head hard on the floor and laid still.

~*You’re not alone*~

“It’s over Max” Liz said as she lay sprawled under his weight. She pulled her arm from underneath her to grab his arm and noticed that her hand was red.

~*I once thought I was brave*~

“What . . . ?” She looked at Max and saw a rapidly growing puddle of red forming on his shirt and below him.

~*But I can’t stop crying*~

“Max!” she cried out and then she felt the world start spinning. His blood seemed to be everywhere. He was loosing so much blood.

~*Sometimes I think*~
~*I’m going crazy*~


His eyes were closed.

His blood was all over her, around her, consuming her. It was all happening again. All of it.

Maybe it was just a dream, maybe she was dreaming . . .

~*But I am waiting patiently*~
~*Though I feel*~
~*It’ll all be in vain*~


“Liz you have to do something!” Alex urged her as he watched her appear to go into shock.

Snapping out of it, Liz placed her hand over Max’s wound and watched the blood pour out around her hands. She pressed harder. Did this ever help? she wondered. Max couldn’t die! No one was supposed to die . . . There was so much blood. It was so red. What could she do? Suddenly the red started fading. She almost stopped applying pressure, not sure what was happening. The colors continued to fade and Liz was almost positive she was losing it. And then everything was gray.

Just shades of gray . . .

“Liz! What are we gonna do? We can’t call an ambulance!”

~*Are you scared?*~

‘You will know how to use your powers when the need for them arises.’

She could hear the voice in her mind as if she had just spoken to her.

And then she knew . . .

“Max” she shook him hoping, praying it wasn’t too late. He opened his eyes sluggishly.

“You, you have to look at me” she said to him pleadingly.

~*Are you scared?*~

He focused and their eyes locked. Time seemed to stand still and Liz felt her powers kick in. She began knitting together the torn flesh of his chest, dissolving the bullet and repairing all of it’s damage. In the back of her mind, she registered the flashes that she received but she didn’t have time to process them.

~*Are you scared?*~

When she was done, they broke contact, both shocked at what she’d done.

Max sat up and looked at her. Alex’s mouth was hanging open. Then he snapped it shut.

“Well, that’s one problem solved” he said. “Now we just have to deal with the other one.”

And they all turned to look at where Tess had fallen, but there was just an empty space.

~*‘Cause if you’re scared*~

Tess was gone.

~*You’re not alone*~


tbc . . .


~~~

Lyrics from “You’re Not Alone” by Kendall Payne


Feedback?


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 30-Dec-2002 10:59:56 PM ]
posted on 30-Dec-2002 11:02:32 PM
Ok guys . . . We've officially caught up to what I have so far . . . Check out the link in my sig for updates, just in case I forget to come back here . . .

Hey, it happens! *tongue*

Melissa *big*


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 30-Dec-2002 11:09:00 PM ]
posted on 24-Jan-2003 7:42:39 PM
Chapter 16

Max and Alex began talking at once.

“Where did she go?” “Could she still be here?” “What did you do Liz?”

Liz got to her feet slowly, their voices barely registering as background noise. She was looking down at her hands, which were wet, but the substance on them was gray.

Why was everything gray all of a sudden? And why was the room moving around?

“Liz?” she heard Max say but it seemed like it was coming from far away . . .

She looked around, feeling like the whole world had started moving in slow motion.

She looked at her hands again and said “Is this blood?”

Then she swayed on her feet and passed out.

~~~~

Kyle pulled onto his street slowly and very reluctantly.

He’d driven around after the meeting, hesitant to go home. He dreaded having to deal with Tess and pretend that things were ok. So he figured if he drove around long enough, she’d be sleeping by the time he got home.

It was distressing what a difference a day could make.

Finding out that the girl you’d been thinking of as a part of the family meant to destroy you and your friends and would eventually cause the end of the world if she wasn’t stopped was sobering.

It still hadn’t really sunk in.

He wondered not for the first time how he had gotten into all of this. He was supposed to have a simple life . . . be the town all-star, with the perfect girlfriend, adored by most and envied by some, until he left for college and eventually ended up playing for the pros . . .

And a part of him still wanted that life, wanted to be completely oblivious to the existence of aliens and time travel, and blue goop trying to take over the world.

But the other part of him, the part that he was trying to ignore right now, understood that his life had a higher purpose now.

It just all got mixed up when you were sharing a residence with a very evil alien who doubled as a seemingly innocent girl that you had to look across the breakfast table at every morning.

He sighed, hoping this wouldn’t be how his life was from now on . . . Avoiding the evil alien he was unfortunate enough to share a home with . . .

As he approached his house, his brow furrowed, seeing Max’s car parked recklessly in front and what he suspected was Liz’s parent’s car parked behind it.

He climbed out of his car and cautiously approached the front door, which was wide open.

He stepped inside and stopped in shock.

Both Max and Alex were bent over a seemingly passed out Liz.

“Alex, Max! What’s going on? Why are you guys here? Is Liz hurt?” he fired questions at them rapidly, looking at Liz with concern.

They both looked up at him with matching expressions of distress on their faces, then as Liz stirred in Max’s arms, they looked back down at her.

Max gathered her closer, doing another quick scan to make sure she was ok. He exhaled, satisfied with the results.

“Max?” Alex questioned.

Max looked at Alex and his expression changed to one of resolve. He quietly rose with Liz in his arms and said “Come on, we should get out of here” as he strolled to the door.

He awkwardly took his keys out of his pocket and tossed them to Alex. “You drive” he said.

Catching the keys easily, Alex replied “Sure, but uh, where are we going?”

“I’ll tell you in the car.”

“Hello?!?” Kyle said. “Totally confused guy, still standing right here . . .”

Max looked at him as he passed and said “Kyle follow us, we’re not going far . . .” and then he climbed into the back of his jeep with Liz still in his arms. Alex jumped into the front and they began to pull off.

Kyle, frozen up till that point, flew into action, closing the door to his house and running to his car, not wanting to get left behind.

‘And so the drama continues . . .’ he thought to himself as he was starting his car.

He noticed as he was driving away that Tess’s car was gone . . .

~~~~

“Alex, head to Michael’s . . . I’ll call him and let him know we’re coming.”

“How’s she doing?” Alex asked, throwing a worried look over his shoulder before turning forward again.

“She’ll be ok. I think she’s just exhausted from the healing. It takes a lot out of you and it was her first time . . .” Max trailed off as Liz whimpered. He looked down at her distressed face. Even in her passed out state, she still seemed to be battling demons. He smoothed her hair away from her face and whispered to her “Shhhh . . . It’s ok Liz . . . Everything’s ok . . .”

“Max” Liz said softly and shifted closer to him. Finding a comfortable position, she exhaled and her breathing returned to normal.

Max reveled in the feeling of Liz in his arms again. It wasn’t so long ago that he thought he’d never get to experience this again. He wanted to savor it, but he still had calls to make . . .

He sighed as he reached for his cell phone. He first called Isabel and then Maria and told them to meet him at Michael’s. Maria wasn’t thrilled to be woken up, but she heard something in his voice that told her something serious had happened, so she didn’t complain. Isabel sounded completely alert, waiting for news of Alex. Barely fielding her questions, but assuring her that Alex was ok, Max told her to meet him at Michael’s.

A soft smile crossed Alex’s face as he listened.

Next, Max called Michael, who already seemed to be up. He answered the phone sounding worried.

“Hello?”

“Michael, the whole group’s heading your way. Something major has happened . . . We’ll be there in a few minutes.”

“What happened Maxwell? I knew something didn’t feel right! Is anybody hurt?”

Before Max could answer, Liz stirred in her sleep and murmurred “Max?”

“I’m here sweetie. It’s ok, just go back to sleep . . .”

“Ok” she said yawning and patted his arm before she surrendered to slumber once again.

“Max? Maxwell?” Michael yelled in his ear.

“Yeah, Michael. We’re pulling into the parking lot now, ok? Bye” and he hit the end button on his phone.

He and Alex emerged from his car and started towards Michael’s building. They were so engrossed with worrying over Liz that they didn’t even notice Michael until he was upon them.

“Liz?” he looked at Max accusingly. “What did you do to her?” he said as he pulled Liz from Max’s arms. Max would have fought him, but he didn’t want to wrestle over Liz in such a fragile state, so he let Michael take her from him, feeling the chill of her absence clear to his bones. He stuffed his hands into his pockets.

“If you hurt her, I’m kicking your ass” Michael said to him warningly as he strode purposefully towards his building.

“I didn’t-” Max started, but Liz, sensing a difference, stirred in Michael’s arms and opened her eyes.

“Michael?” she said weakly, looking up at him in surprise.

“Yeah Liz, it’s me. We’ll be in my apartment in a sec. Do you feel ok? Did Max hurt you?” he asked concerned.

“Max? Max! Is he ok? Put me down Michael! Max!” she screamed.

Max scrambled from behind Michael as he set her down hesitantly. “I’m here, I’m right here . . . Let’s just get you inside . . .” he said and wrapped his arm around her waist to help her suddenly wobbly legs to stand. Michael glared at him from beside her, but he didn’t care. He just wanted Liz to be ok.

Kyle pulled into Michael’s parking lot and got out of his car, watching the scene silently. He hurried to join Alex, walking behind the three of them. He noticed that it was a kind of standoff, with Max guiding a bemused Liz to Michael’s apartment with Michael hovering protectively.

~~~

Maria came tearing into the parking lot, a mess of squealing tires and protesting brakes and climbed from her vehicle. Isabel arrived a few seconds later.

“So do you know what this is about?” Maria asked Isabel.

“I don’t have a clue” she answered. “The last time I saw Max he was going to heal Alex-”

“Heal Alex?” Maria blanched.

“Uh, let’s just get inside” Isabel hedged as they both rushed to Michael’s apartment and burst in, afraid of what they might find.

They found Liz stretched out on Michael’s sofa looking troubled and exhausted. Max was hovering over her. Kyle looked confused. Michael looked concerned and pissed at the same time. And Alex looked like he didn’t know what to do.

“Alex! You’re ok!” Isabel said, immediately going over to him, and giving him a hug . . . drawing comfort from just being near him. “You are ok, aren’t you?” she said as she pulled back.

“You mean, did Max heal me? Yeah, he did . . . All better” Alex said as he nodded and gave her a shy grin. Isabel breathed a sigh of relief and smiled back.

“Ok, so why did Alex need to be healed? What the hell is going on?!?” Kyle exclaimed, feeling like he’d been seriously left out of the loop.

“That’s what I’d like to know” Maria said, hands on hips, ready to pummel answers out of everyone if she had to.

Michael got up and pulled Maria from her spot standing near Max.

“Michael, what-?”

Isabel turned and addressed the room “Ok guys, what’s going on? What happened?”

“You got me . . . I’ve been waiting for an explanation for awhile now” Kyle answered looking at Max and Alex warily.

“Tess got away” Liz said softly, from her seat on the sofa. “She shot Max trying to shoot me and she got away . . .”

“She shot Max?!?” Isabel exclaimed, only just now noticing the torn shirt underneath Max’s jacket.

“Oh God!” she said as she rushed over to him.

“I’m fine Iz. I’m fine . . .” Max reassured her as he waved his hand over his shirt and made the damage disappear.

“So what’s wrong with you Liz?” Michael interrupted. “You didn’t get shot did you?” he asked gruffly.

She just continued looking down, not answering.

“No, she kinda . . . healed Max” Alex said slowly.

Everyone turned to look at Liz in surprise. She tucked her hair behind her ear nervously and avoided everyone’s eyes.

“Since when does Liz have powers?” Kyle asked.

“How did Tess get away? . . . And what were you doing anyway? I thought we agreed to wait to go after Tess” Michael said, ignoring Kyle’s question.

“We did agree to wait, but I kinda went after Tess on my own” Alex said shame-faced.

“Why would you do that?!?” Isabel exclaimed.

“What she said” Maria threw in, hands back on her hips.

“I-I-” Alex stumbled, trying to come up with a way to explain.

“The important thing is that he’s safe now” Max said, trying to take some of the pressure off of Alex. Max had seen the flashes of what Tess had done to him. She’d almost killed him. If anyone had a right to go after Tess, it was Alex. It may not have been the smartest move, but he could understand why Alex did it. He was just thankful that Liz had figured out where he’d gone. Things could have ended up so much worse . . .

“Why are you suddenly on our side Max?” Michael said with hostility, interrupting Max’s thoughts. “Did it take Tess almost killing you to get you to see she’s not on our side? . . . That she never has been?”

Max lifted guilty eyes to Michael, but before he could speak Liz said quietly “Tess was doing something to him, to his mind Michael . . . That’s why he couldn’t believe us.” Max looked at her in shock, this being the first he’d heard of this. He’d never even suspected . . .

“She was playing on his feelings of anger and . . . and betrayal, when he thought I . . . thought that I slept with Kyle.” Her gaze moved to Kyle but skittered away quickly. “She compounded those emotions so that they practically took him over. But when he got flashes from me earlier tonight, it broke the hold she had over him.”

“And how do you know this Liz? Is that what he told you?” Michael said, unable to let go of his animosity towards Max because of how he’d treated Liz.

“I saw it when I healed him.” Finally looking up, she made eye contact with Michael. “Just let it go Michael” she said softly. “Regardless of how it happened, we’re all on the same side now. And Tess is still out there somewhere” she said as she looked around the room. “This is not the time to be dwelling on past hurts . . .”

“But-”

“Michael, he’s your family . . . Let it go.”

Everyone was surprised at Liz’s words and their effect on Michael. He seemed to calm immediately as he said “Fine” gruffly and pulled Maria closer.

Maria looked up at Michael, then across at Liz, whose focus was now on her lap again. Somehow Liz had gotten the inside track on her boyfriend. She’d have to talk to her about that. ‘Later’ she thought. Liz looked absolutely exhausted at the moment.

Maria tuned back in to discover that the group was discussing exactly what had happened after the meeting they’d held earlier. A subject she should definitely be paying attention to.

When everyone was finally up to speed, Max pointed out what no one had been willing to say up till that point.

“We’re not safe . . . Tess has the ability to get into people’s minds and make them see things that aren’t there . . . and not see things that are . . . She could be anywhere, anytime . . . She almost killed Alex, she tried to kill Liz and she nearly killed me. So from now on no one goes anywhere alone. Kyle, Maria, Alex, Liz, anywhere you guys go, one of us should always be with you. We may not be able to see her if she’s here, but at least we 3 have a fighting chance because of our powers.”

“Liz has powers now too” Maria threw in.

“Yeah, and what’s up with that anyway?” Kyle asked. “Does she have powers because you healed her? ‘Cause if so, does that mean I have them too?” Kyle looked none too pleased at the idea.

Max dragged his hand down his face wearily. A gesture that he did only when he was feeling overwhelmed. “I don’t know Kyle . . . I just don’t know . . . We can investigate it later if you want.”

“Later or never, whichever” Kyle muttered.

“For tonight, I think we all should stick together. Tess is most likely to strike again quickly, hoping to catch us vulnerable.” They all looked around at each other nervously. “So Alex, your parents are out of town right?”

Alex nodded his head, confused about the change of subject.

“Well, I think that’s where we need to go . . . All of us” Max said in a tone that brooked no argument. “We’ll deal with the fallout in the morning. Right now I just want everyone safe.”

So it was a tired and stressed bunch that trudged out of Michael’s apartment and to their separate cars. Before getting in, they agreed that both Isabel and Liz needed to drop off their parents’ cars in order to avoid upsetting their parents further in the morning and that they needed to call Kyle’s Dad and tell him to stay somewhere else for the night. Max wanted to drive Liz, but she insisted that he drive his own car and she would let Alex drive her. They’d have plenty of time to talk later.

She watched him walk away silently, then she climbed into the car next to Alex.

“And where does the lady desire to go this evening?” Alex asked with a British accent.

Liz smiled at him, then said quietly “I’m glad you’re ok Alex.”

“Of course I’m ok Lizzie” he replied. “I strong, like bull” he said in a bad Russian accent as he puffed out his chest. Liz laughed, something she didn’t think she was capable of tonight, if ever again. She sobered quickly and grabbed his hand.

“Alex, you can never, ever do anything like that ever again! I lost you once, I can’t lose you again” she said in a desperate voice, memories of that other future haunting her.

Alex inhaled sharply. “Did I- Was I- I died?” he questioned her softly.

She looked at him for a moment with tears shimmering in her eyes and nodded.

“It’s ok Lizzie. I’m ok. I’m sorry for worrying you” he said softly as her hand tightened in his.

Alex spent the rest of the drive speaking in funny voices, trying to distract her from her thoughts.

It almost worked . . .

The procession of cars headed first to the Evans’ and then to the Crashdown. Finally, they were down to Max, Maria and Kyle’s cars as they headed to Alex’s.

When they got to Alex’s, sleeping arrangements were quickly made with Isabel, Max and Michael agreeing to sleep in shifts. They secured every door and window in the house, putting a little extra behind the locks so that Tess couldn’t get in (they hoped) without alerting someone.

Michael had offered to take the first watch, saying he was too wired to sleep anyway. So everyone trudged off to their respective rooms.

~~~

Max knocked softly on the guestroom door and then entered at the soft “Come in” he heard from the other side.

Maria was busily folding down the covers on the bed when he stepped inside.

“Liz, you have a visitor” she called out to Liz. A second later, the bathroom door opened and Liz stepped into the room, shutting off the bathroom light as she did so. Her and Max’s eyes immediately locked and the room was completely silent.

“I’m just gonna . . . go check on Michael . . . or something . . .” Maria said and left the room, shaking her head at how quickly things had returned to normal with those two.

As the door closed softly behind her, “Liz, I’m so sorry” were the first words out of Max’s mouth as he stepped towards her.

Liz looked at him and said “Max it’s ok, you weren’t you. Tess was messing with your head. I understand . . .”

“No, I mean about everything, everything you had to go through because of us . . . because of me-”

Liz put a finger up to his lips, silencing him. “It’s ok Max” she said to him softly. She met his eyes, willing him to feel her emotions and know that she didn’t resent him for anything that had happened.

They continued to gaze into each other’s eyes until Liz stifled a yawn.

“Liz! You should be sleeping . . . We can talk in the morning, after you’re rested . . .” Max said as he guided her to the bed. Liz just allowed herself to be guided and sat down on the edge. “I’ll talk to you in the morning” Max said and placed a chaste kiss on her forehead, then he left the room.

~~~

When Maria entered a little while later, she found Liz still perched on the edge of the bed, staring off into space.

“Chica, are you ok?” she asked. Liz looked over at her, jolted out of her thoughts. She nodded her head and said “Yeah” softly.

“You’ve had the weight of the world on your shoulders for awhile now.” Maria said to her. “Get some rest.”

“I will Maria, thanks.”

“Anytime Lizzie” Maria said and walked over and gave her a hug. “But stay on your side of the bed and no spooning me” she said jokingly as she wagged a finger at Liz.

Liz smiled. “You wish” she said as she climbed under the covers. Maria walked back around and climbed in on the other side.

“Goodnight Liz.”

“Goodnight Maria.”

“Goodnight John-boy” they both said together, and then laughed at their nightly ritual for sleepovers when they were younger.

Liz lay and listened as Maria’s breathing evened out. She just couldn’t fall asleep. So she crept out of bed and then downstairs.

“Hey Liz” Michael said from the sofa in the dark living room.

“Hey Michael” she said, trying to adjust her eyes to the dark.

“So how’s it going?” he asked her. She threw him a look that he could sense, even in the dark. “Yeah, right . . . nevermind . . .”

“Can’t sleep?” he asked instead.

Even in the darkened room, he saw her shake her head no. “Well, I’m here if you want to talk . . . Tonight had to have been really hard . . .”

“Yeah, um Michael? I’m gonna just get something to drink and then I’m gonna go to bed . . . We can talk tomorrow, ok?” she said as she hastily stepped away from the couch. She just wasn’t up to discussing everything yet. She was doing an ok job of holding it together, but that wouldn’t last if she started thinking about what had almost happened tonight.

“Oh-k” Michael said hesitantly, knowing she needed to talk about what happened, but deciding not to push her.

She began to turn away, then she turned back to him quickly. “Did you want coffee or something? Since you’ll be up most of the night keeping watch . . .”

“Yeah, that’d be great Liz . . . and uh, tabasco sauce if they have it . . .”

Liz just nodded and headed into the kitchen. She turned on the light and went to the cabinet. She grabbed the sleepy-time tea for herself and the coffee grounds for Michael. She then searched for the tabasco sauce, knowing that Alex kept some in the house for when Isabel stopped by. She found a bottle behind some cereal in the cabinet, so she pulled it down . . . and stared at it. She couldn’t stop staring at the bottle. It just didn’t make any sense . . .

She pulled out the ketchup bottle and stared at it too. Beginning to shake a little, she made her way over to the light switch and flipped it off . . .

She didn’t want to see anymore . . .

~*Make it go away*~

Caught between confusion and fear, she made her way over to the table and sat down.

~*Or make it better*~

She was busy fighting an internal battle so she had no idea how much time passed, but she felt when Max stepped into the room. She could sense his hesitancy even over the ocean of space separating them.

~*Isn’t that what love is supposed to do?*~

“Are you ok Liz?” he asked quietly.

~*Make it go away*~
~*Or make it better*~


His question barely registered as she began talking.

~*‘Cause I would do either one for you*~

“I don’t know what’s happening to me . . .”

~*This is not the way you should see me*~

“It keeps running through my mind . . . like a movie playing in slow motion . . . I-I’m supposed to stop it this time around . . .”

~*This is not the face I recognize*~

“No one’s supposed to die . . . No one’s supposed to die” she said almost to herself as she began rocking in her seat.

~*Should I lay my head down here for a moment*~

“Liz what is it?” Max asked, instantly by her side She could see him reach for her out of the corner of her eye and she tensed, almost about to tell him not to touch her, but she needed the comfort. She needed something she could feel.

~*Would you sing to me like I’m your child?*~

“There’s not supposed to be any blood . . .” she said looking down at her hands. “But it’s not red anyway” she said absently. Max said her name softly and she looked up at him. “I-I can’t see colors Max . . .”

~*‘Cause I’m not angry*~

“The world’s nothing but gray now. . .”

~*Oh I’m not crying*~

“The last color I saw was your blood . . . before it turned gray too . . . It was so red Max . . .”

~*I’m just in over my head*~

“You were dying . . . just like Alex died . . .”

~*Well you could be the angel that stayed on my shoulder*~

“So much blood . . . so much death . . . Everybody dying . . .” her last words ended on a sob.

~*When all the other angels left*~

Max dropped into a chair and immediately pulled her into his arms.

~*So make it go away*~
~*‘Cause I am weak and*~


He wanted to take away her suffering, her awful memories of that time before . . . He wanted to give her comfort, solace, peace of mind . . . If only he could heal her soul as easily as he could heal her body he thought wistfully.

~*This is more than one should have to take*~

Liz felt like a dam burst inside of her . . . All of the hurt and pain she had bottled up came forward . . . Max was beside himself . . . hurting because she hurt, wishing he could take it all away . . .

~*If you do this for me*~
~*Well I will promise*~


Her sobbing was deep and gut-wrenching now . . . She must have been holding it in for so long . . .

~*I’ll make it go away for you someday*~

Max heard footsteps getting closer and then the light snapped on.

“Maxwell, what the hell?!?” Michael growled as he looked at Liz distressed. “What did you say to her now?!? Can’t you see she’s been through enough?” Michael said as he approached Max, prepared to once again pull Liz from Max’s arms, regardless of how much she was clinging to him.

Max held up a restraining hand to Michael even as he offered comforting words to Liz. “Shh Liz, it’s ok . . .” He looked up at Michael pleadingly. “Please just go Michael, I’ll take care of her, I promise” he said. Michael looked torn, but as he watched Liz cling to Max like he was her lifeline, he nodded at Max and then quietly left the room as Liz’s sobs echoed behind him.

Max rocked Liz in his arms and ran his hands through her hair soothingly, all the while whispering comforting words to her until her sobs turned into hiccups and then subsided altogether . . . When she was completely quiet, Max looked down and saw that she was asleep. He felt his heart expand in that moment. Liz had gone through so much because of them, because of him, because of what he was. She had given up so much, lost so much, and it wasn’t over yet. He pushed away the guilt that threatened to overwhelm him. This was not the time.

Remembering her talk of being colorblind, he did a thorough scan, but could find nothing wrong with her. It was just another one of the things they would have to discuss in the morning . . .

When he was sure she was sleeping soundly and wouldn’t waken, he gathered her fully into his arms and carried her for the second time that day. He headed out of the kitchen and when he passed by Michael, he could sense his gaze, but thankfully Michael didn’t say anything.

Max made his way up the stairs with Liz in his arms and to the guest room her and Maria were sharing. Maria didn’t stir as Max laid Liz down on her side of the bed. Immediately with the loss of his body, Liz murmurred a protest and curled into a ball. Max brushed his lips across her forehead and whispered “Sweet dreams sweetheart,” connecting with her just enough to send her pleasant memories of a childhood spent playing with Maria and Alex. As a soft smile transformed her features, Max smiled and brushed her cheek briefly, then straightened as he watched her sleep . . . glad that he could at least give her this . . .

~~~

Liz jerked awake from her dreams and her senses registered several things at once . . . First that Maria wasn’t in the room, that the door was open, and that the small hairs on her arms were standing on end . . . She knew something was wrong. Something compelled her to sit up and just as she did, something fired past her and singed the pillow where her head had lain. Without pausing to think, she immediately rolled out of bed . . . and into a soft body . . .

But there was no one there . . .

Only one explanation . . . TESS!!!

Liz didn’t look back and didn’t pause, she just bolted . . . out of the room and down the stairs, yelling to Max and the others . . . By the time she was down the stairs, they were all congregated in the living room with varying degrees of concern on their faces . . .

“Your shield Max! Put up your shield!” Liz cried, panicked when she reached his side.

“Liz what-?” Max said even as he did as she asked and surrounded them all in his shield.

“Just keep your shield up Max!” she yelled.

That’s when he felt it. Someone was firing at his shield! And suddenly they were surrounded by Skins!

“What the hell?” “We have to get out of here!” “What’s happening?” “Where did they come from?” Everyone was talking at once, but Liz was concentrating . . . trying to find the presence in her mind that was Tess . . . And when she found it, she expelled her permanently, like a door slamming shut . . . And then the Skins that seemed to have them outnumbered disappeared and she could see Tess fleeing out of the front door . . . She grabbed Max’s hand and connected with him and he saw the Skins disappear too and Tess escaping. Max grabbed Isabel’s hand and Isabel grabbed Michael’s hand and they all saw Tess leaving.

“Lower your shield Max!” Michael yelled and then he charged after her, hand raised for battle. But she was already in her vehicle, speeding away . . .

“Dammit!” Michael yelled. “What the hell just happened?!? Did she just get away again?”

~~~

Tess could feel each of them throwing her out of their heads, flinching as her warp was tossed back in her face.

But she didn’t let this deter her.

It just meant that she’d have to go about this differently the next time.

And there would be a next time because she desperately needed Alex to finish the last part of the interpretation.

She’d get off this miserable planet if it was the last thing she did . . . Even if she had to kill them all in the process . . .


tbc . . .

~~~

Lyrics from “Make it go away” by Holly Cole