posted on 9-Sep-2001 7:58:37 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17, but you will be warned before those post
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 1

The sky was clear, bringing forth the kind of night sky that you could stare at for hours and lose yourself in. And Liz Parker had been doing just that. She had been sitting in her lounge chair staring at the stars for so long they had all seemed to run together. Her journal lay open before her, the pages blank. It had been months now and she still couldn’t bring herself to write a single word. It had bothered her at first, but now she had come to accept it. Her heart was simply empty. She had nothing left to write. Gone were her hopes and dreams, her visions of the future. She had seen the future already, and it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

Liz sighed as she closed her journal. Her parents were worried about her and she found that it was becoming too tiring to pretend things were still okay. Alex was dead. Tess was pregnant with Max’s child and their days were now spent looking for the serpent they had allowed into their circle. Sure, none of them had actually trusted her, but they hadn’t expected her not to murder and betray them. Maybe they had given her too much credit.

Don’t trust anyone had been their motto long before Max had trusted Liz with their secret. They should have stuck with that. At least then Alex might still be alive. They would still be the three amigos. She and Maria and Alex would still be able to get together every Thursday night and laugh. Max Evans would just be someone she had Biology with. And destiny would just be a work in a book. If only Max had lied to her when she had asked him what he was.

As the familiar what-ifs ran through her head, Liz let herself sink into the now familiar depths of depression. Classes were starting up tomorrow. Summer was over. It was her senior year, the supposed best time of her life.

After Tess had left with the Granolith, they had spent the entire summer searching for her, searching for any clue that would tell them what had happened or where to find them. Maria had actually turned out to be a computer genius, much to everyone’s surprise. She had decrypted the remainder of Alex’s files and had even hacked her way into some information that had been useful.

Through that information and the top-secret documents Brody had gotten his hands on, they had discovered the fate of the Granolith. It had not achieved orbit. They could only assume that it had malfunctioned along the way and it had crashed back to Earth. But the big question was where had it crashed? They knew of at least four countries looking for it, having picked it up on their radars, but none had been able to pinpoint its’ exact location.

The group consensus had been that there must have been some sort of cloak or force field around it that was hiding it from view. Maria had found a passage in the decodings that spoke of a cryogenic sleep occupants were put into. After months of discussions and research, they had finally been able to determine why the Granolith had crashed. It wasn’t a machine built to travel long distances.

After exhaustive searches and more decoding, they had unearthed it’s true purpose. The Granolith had been described as a powerful machine, a weapon with cataclysmic capabilities. Legend had it that it had been created by an elite group of entities, beings of pure energy that created it for peaceful purposes. But the ruling forces of the planet each thought they should own it, and a war was begun. Distraught over the possibility of it being used in war, they stole the Granolith away in the middle of the night. They locked it’s power tight, prophesizing that in the last remaining days of the dying moon, a child of Royal blood would be conceived that would possess the knowledge to awaken the Granolith’s true powers, that worlds would fall under their rule and the power of the universe would be in their hands.

Zan and Vilandra’s mother had belonged to a race of people that were guardians of the Granolith. They had hoped that Zan’s first born would have been the prophesized child, but they had been murdered before there had ever been a chance. So, the Queen had sent the Granolith with them, hoping it would be safe from Khivar. It had been modified for some flight in emergency situations over the years, but not for a journey such as the one Tess had undertaken.

Suddenly, there had been an even greater rush to find Tess. If Khivar were to get a hold of Max’s son and the Granolith, they wouldn’t have a home to return to. And through it all, Liz had helped. She had been there to research and hypothesize. She had lied and broken more laws and rushed alongside them to find Tess, to find the child she had created with Max. And Liz had died inside a bit more every time. She still hadn’t told him about her visit from future Max. The guilt over Alex’s death was hers alone to shoulder.

And then there was her relationship with Max, if you could even call it that anymore. They had talked once seriously. Max had explained that he knew she had secrets, things she wasn’t telling him and he respected that. He had treated her horribly and he would have to earn back her trust, her confidence. But every minute since then, he had been obsessed with finding the Granolith. But Liz could see the torn look in his eyes. He knew he was hurting her, but he was powerless to stop it. It wasn’t too long before Liz just stopped looking. They were both doing what had to be done. So, they were friends now. But could they ever be more? She would always be in his way, a distraction from his cause. And just because Tess didn’t turn out to be his destiny, it didn’t mean that she was it now.

A soft scuffling sound in the alleyway caught her attention but she couldn’t bring herself to do more than glance at the stair railing. Friend or foe, it didn’t matter anymore.

A head of light, curly hair appeared and she recognized it immediately. A minute later, Sean Deluca hopped onto her roof. He sent her a sly grin when he saw her sitting there.

“Hey, Parker. I guess I don’t have to worry about waking you up.”

All Liz could manage was a half smile, but her heart wasn’t in it and he knew it. She said nothing, knowing he had come for a reason.

Sean stuck his hands in his pocket. What had he been thinking coming over here like this? Oh yeah, he’d been thinking of Liz Parker’s face. He moved to sit in the chair beside her and watched her in the moonlight. She was grace and beauty all rolled up into a neat package. And she wasn’t his, never would be.

“Uh, so look, I sort of had something I needed to tell you.” He paused, hoping she would have some sort of response, sighing when there was none. “I’m leaving Roswell. And I want you to come with me.”

Edited by - cookieman1234 on 09/19/2001 10:11:35

[ edited 30time(s), last at 31-Jul-2002 7:35:39 AM ]
posted on 9-Sep-2001 7:59:06 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17, but you will be warned before those post
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 2

Liz’s usually stoic face crumbled. “Leaving? What do you mean? Why?”

“I don’t know where and as to why…why not? There’s really not much in this town, no excitement, no intrigue. Don’t you ever dream about going somewhere new and exciting? About traveling to places you’ve only read about?”

Liz smiled now, a trace of sadness in her eyes. “Yeah, once.” That was before everything had come crashing down, before Alex had died and Max had slept with Tess.

Sean was excited. “See? I knew you did. Come with me. It’ll be fun, just you and me on the open road, never stopping until we’ve seen and done everything to be seen and done.”

Liz shook her head. “Sean, you can’t just skip out of town. What about all the trouble you’d be in?”

“I turned 21 a few days ago. I’m free to go.” He spoke gently, not wanting her to know his sadness at being forgotten.

The familiar twinges of guilt settled themselves over Liz’s heart. She hadn’t known, hadn’t even talked to Sean since the last time she’d needed something. She’d used him and tossed him aside and he didn’t care. He wanted to take her away from here, away from all the memories, the grief and the endless searching for Tess. But how could she? How could she leave Max? Or Maria? “I’m sorry, Sean, but I can’t. I’m starting my senior year tomorrow. I have school and a job and family and-“


Liz nodded sadly. “Yeah.”

“I understand you saying no, I do. Really, I expected it. But you’re wrong to stay for him.”

“Sean, you don’t really understand the whole situation.”

“Maybe not, but do you know what I do see? He doesn’t appreciate you. You knock yourself out for him and he pushed you aside until he needs you. What would he do, Liz if it came down to a choice between you and that blonde he’s been hanging around? Would he leave you for her? Does he even know how much pain you’re in? How long has it been since he looked into your eyes and really saw what was there? I know you still miss Alex and I also know there’s more than you’re telling me, but you deserve so much better than that. If he can’t give that to you, let him go. But if he can give you your smile back, then stay here.”

Liz closed her eyes as tears threatened to overflow. How was it that Sean was the only one to know she was dying inside? Max used to be able to see into her soul and fix things before she ever knew they were wrong. Now, he glazed over her emotions if it didn’t help with his search.

She’d tried to tell Maria once a month ago that she wanted to leave, that she needed to. But Maria had clung to her, begging her not to go. She had just lost Alex, how could she lose Liz too? So, she had stayed, pushing back the depression that threatened to engulf her until she could no longer do it. What did anything matter anymore?

“I don’t know what I want anymore. But I know I have to stay. I’m needed here.”

“They need you here, but what about what you need? Has anyone asked you that lately? I’m not saying you have to leave with me, but for gods sake, Liz, leave. Don’t let them kill you. I remember the little girl with such spark, such life. You knew what you wanted and you went after it. Don’t settle.”

“You should go.” His words were making her feel things she didn’t want.

“You’re the strongest person I’ve ever met, Liz Parker. Don’t let them break you. Be selfish for once. Find the person you wanted to be, the person Alex wanted you to be, and do whatever it takes to get there.” He looked at her one last time, knowing he would burn this last image of her into his memory. He could have loved this girl. Now, it would be a regret, a what-if. He turned to head for the stairs when he felt a hand on his arm.

Liz was out of her chair as fast as she could scramble. She couldn’t let him go like that. She threw herself into his arms and took a moment of comfort. “I’m going to miss you.” And she would. He had been a friend when she had desperately needed one most. “I love you, Sean, but-“

“Not that way. Yeah, I got it.” He tossed her a lopsided grin. “Take care of yourself, Parker. Find your smile, it can be beautiful. And if you ever need a traveling buddy…” He let the offer hand. Then he was slipping out of her arms and down the stairs without a second glance.

Liz stood alone, wrapping her arms around herself as a sudden chill hit her body. She knew sleep wouldn’t come easy tonight.

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 15-Feb-2002 2:08:19 PM ]
posted on 9-Sep-2001 7:59:35 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17, but you will be warned before those post
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Um, yeah, this ended up being WAY longer than I expected it to go, but I couldn’t break it up anywhere that didn’t chop it up. This fic is a lot slower writing than DWYHTD, so it may take me a bit longer to get these out to you. But I will try to get another one out tomorrow for ya! But only if you leave me some love.

Finding Yourself
Part 3

The first day back at Roswell High was just like every other first day. The group met in front of the school and walked in together, but there was none of the cheerful banter that usually followed them. They all had lockers on the same hall and they broke up to settle down for the day.

Liz turned out to have her first three classes with at least one of the pod squad, but no Max yet. With only one more class to go before lunch, Liz checked her schedule. AP Biology. Great, surely, Max wouldn’t be in there.

As she swung open the door, her eyes locked with Max’s. He gestured wildly toward her, as if he’d been waiting for her appearance. At one time, her heart would have beaten wildly, but now she merely trudged over to the station he had chosen in the back, far right corner. She could only imagine that the solitude appealed to him. There weren’t any lab stations remotely close. It was just them and a plant.

“Good, you’re here. Listen, I’ve been thinking about that crash sighting in Albuquerque, and I think we were too hasty to write it off as a potential site for the Granolith. If we leave now, we could probably make it there by sunset. They’re be less people to see us looking after dark.”

So that was it? Not, how has your day been, or what do you think the new teacher will be like? This was her life now. Just Tess. Her heart cracked a little more. But Max was still talking.

“So, I was telling Michael that we should meet under the bleachers at lunch from now on. It’s more private and we can make plans more freely there than the Quad. What do you think?”

Liz was saved from having to answer as the new teacher walked in and introduced herself.

“We’ll talk at lunch.”

But Liz said nothing, only pulled out her pen and notebook and began studiously taking notes. Anything to fill her brain with something other than the search for the Granolith.

Liz rode quietly in the front passenger seat of the Jeep as it bounced along the desolate Albuquerque road. The group had in fact agreed with Max’s reasoning and they had left immediately. Isabel and Kyle were in the backseat and Michael and Maria were in the Jetta. The trip had been marked by the same silence they lived with now.

Max was in his own world, no doubt planning out his strategy. Liz had watched him for part of the trip, just wanting to see an emotion flicker across his face. But there had been none. He hadn’t even known she was watching him. She thought back to a time when he would have turned to catch her watching him and she would have blushed. They would have shared a private smile and held hands for the remainder of the journey.

But those days were gone. Even Isabel and Kyle had felt the tension. They had been forced to spend unusual amounts of time together over the summer, both having lost someone they cared about. Truth be told, Isabel had found a good friend in Kyle Valenti, a surprising confidant. They may have been thrown together by horrible circumstances, but they had made the best of it.

Personally, Kyle thought Max was borderline crazy these days. This late night trip marked the fifth time this month Max had dragged them off in the middle of the night to hunt down the Granolith. One night it had been because he had dreamed of a mountain, and they had driven all night to the nearest mountain range to check it out. Another time, he had seen a billboard and another time, something had seemed familiar to him in the picture. So, they had picked up and driven across three state boarders. And each time they failed to find answers, Max dug himself deeper into the world he now lived in. Kyle guessed he understood as well as anyone Max’s single-minded determination. But frankly, none of them really did.

The thing that had surprised them most of all was that not even Liz’s presence seemed to calm Max. They had all expected the couple to forgive and forget and return to their old mushiness. They were Max and Liz, super-couple extraordinaire. Nothing could ever break them apart. Hadn’t they always said that? But if possible, they seemed to have grown even further apart. They all had noticed it, but were afraid to acknowledge what it meant.

Now, Max pulled the Jeep to the side of the road and the Jetta followed. Max climbed out, grabbing a flashlight from under his seat. Without a backward glance, he trudged off alone into the darkness.

Isabel and Kyle exchanged glances. “I guess we follow.”

Maria and Michael appeared at their side. “Anybody got a spare flashlight?”

Liz sighed and pulled three flashlights from her backpack. After all the times they’d run off in the middle of the night, you’d think they would be better prepared.

The group searched high and low across the wide expanse of desert, looking for anything that might indicate that the Granolith had indeed crashed there, a piece of otherworldly metal, chemical spills, glowing rocks, a sign with an arrow pointing out the location of the Granolith. Hell, they would take anything they could find. The hours rolled into each other, but no one complained. They had done this too many times before.

Liz stood from her hunched over position and rolled out her shoulders. A quick glance at her watch told her she hadn’t slept in almost 48 hours, yet she wasn’t tired. Idly, she wondered when was the last time she had eaten. But she supposed that didn’t matter much either. She glanced back at the various groups, hoping they were having more luck than she was. Michael and Maria looked to be more talking than searching, but it had been almost six hours since they had arrived. Kyle and Isabel were still waving their flashlight around, hoping to catch a glint in its’ beam.

And then there was Max. Her heart broke just watching him. He was practically crawling on the desert sand, desperately looking for some sliver of hope. How many more times could he do this? Each time they searched only to find nothing, he became a bit more defeated, pushing her a bit further away. How many more times could she let him?

She hated to admit it, but there might have been a grain of truth in what Sean had said the night before. Why was she here really? Nobody needed her. They hadn’t in a long time. Max had stopped looking for her real opinion months ago. He only wanted her to agree with him.

But as she watched him dig around for any trace of a crash, she wondered if what he needed wasn’t freedom. They dragged her around to every meeting and hunt, and each time Max had to bring up that night and it’s consequences, his eyes would meet hers and raw pain was reflected. They were only hurting each other. Maybe it would be best if she did just leave, skip town and get away from all the heartache, the loneliness, the pain. Maybe she needed a clean start, a chance to find out who she was. And so did Max.

She looked up and saw that the group was heading back towards the cars. She picked her way over rocks and briars carefully. They were already engrossed in a conversation by the time she got back.

“-so, I say we find a motel somewhere and crash for the night. I guess I was wrong. Nothing’s here.” Max lowered his hooded eyes.

Liz looked away, not able to stand the pain in them any longer.

“Max, I really think we should drive back tonight. We do have school tomorrow, and we could just take shifts driving back.” Isabel had managed over the last few months to find a soothing tone of voice that was the only thing Max actually heard.

“Yeah, if you think so.” Defeated, Max swung himself back into the Jeep, his eyes staring straight ahead looking one last time for any sort of sign. When the others had climbed back in as well, he slammed the Jeep into gear and accelerated onto the highway. He only looked straight ahead now. Somewhere out there, the Granolith stood waiting, and he would do whatever it took to find it.

posted on 9-Sep-2001 7:59:59 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17, but you will be warned before those post
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 4

Back in Roswell, their first six weeks of school had passed by quickly. Between class, working, and hunting for the Granolith, Liz barely had any time to sleep. Tonight was no exception. She had worked a full shift after school, struggled to read for her American Literature book, then had given up and gotten dressed. Max had cornered her at lunch today and asked if they could get together that night. He had said it was important. Despite the nagging voice of warning in her head, her heart had been a bit lighter all day. Maybe things were turning around for the better.

She had changed clothes five times already, discarding outfits that didn’t fit her anymore. Sometime this summer, she had lost weight, and most of her old clothes hung off her body now. She rummaged through her closet until she pulled out a light blue T-shirt dress. She turned and twisted in the mirror to take a better look at herself. It didn’t look too bad.

She had actually been excited as she combed out her hair, thinking of all the things Max could want to talk to her about. He had had an excited gleam in his eyes and her heart leapt a little just thinking about it. She had missed him so much. Where were they going? It didn’t even matter. Nothing mattered but today. He had remembered. After all the things he had gone through, he remembered today.

She pulled out her makeup bag, dusty from misuse and set about concealing the dark circles under her eyes. She wanted everything to be perfect.

She checked her clock. Max should be here any minute. She hastily searched for her pearl drop earrings her grandmother had given her. A soft rapping on her window made her twirl around. Max stood there, waiting.

Liz smiled, the first smile she had felt in months now. She crossed to the window and opened it. Max hopped inside, a pair of jeans and a white t-shirt clothing him. Liz wondered if perhaps she had overdressed, but didn’t care.

“Good, I’m glad you’re ready. We’re running late.”

Liz grabbed her sweater and when she turned back, Max was already out her window and on his way down the ladder. She pushed away the quick stab of pain in her heart. Oh well, Max would have to ease back into being the romantic boyfriend he once was. She would give him time.

She climbed out her window and down the fire escape to find Max waiting in the running Jeep. She climbed in with him, expecting some sort of smile, or kiss from him. Something. But he merely put the Jeep into gear and swung it around into the street.

Liz tried to push back the feeling that something was off. Max was just trying to surprise her. That was all. She trusted him. He would do something wonderful. Tonight was their night after all.

Max sped through the dark streets, and Liz again wondered where they were going. A minute later, he pulled into Michael’s parking lot. Liz frowned. They were coming here for their anniversary? Then her smile returned. He had probably spruced up the apartment so they could have some alone time.

Max climbed out of the Jeep and went immediately to Michael’s door. Liz scrambled behind him to keep up. Why was Max knocking on the door? Was everyone else helping? Was Max just letting them know they were here?

The door swung open and Michael stood in the door frame. “It’s about time you got here, Maxwell. You did call this meeting, didn’t you?”

Max pushed open the door and Liz felt her heart drop and crash. The entire group sat around in various chairs, looking irritated for having their evening interrupted.

There was no candlelight, no flowers, no surprise. Max hadn’t remembered. He had just called another meeting.

posted on 9-Sep-2001 8:00:21 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17, but you will be warned before those post
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 5

Liz sat quietly as she listened to Max go on about the information he’d found at Brody’s late last night. Apparently, satellite feedback had shown a small crater embedded in the desert outside Phoenix. According to all the charts Max had worked up on wind velocities and trajectory courses, this was the most probable location for the Granolith.

“Alright, this trip is going to take a few days, maybe a week, so I created a cover story with school and parents. We’ll leave first thing in the morning.”

Liz listened to them make plans about hotels and time tables and her anger began to build. How could he do this to her? She’d thought he’d remembered their anniversary, and instead he’d merely planned another meeting, another trip to find Tess and the child they created together. She had to face facts. She was nothing more than a tool to find Tess.

“I’m not going.”

Conversation continued around her, no one having heard her. But Kyle had been watching Liz ever since she had walked in the door. He’d watched as her heart had shattered right there in the hallway. Something was going on with her.

He examined her carefully now as Max talked. The dark circles around her eyes had grown larger, her eyes appearing to sink in. She had lost weight too. He hadn’t realized how much until she’d shed her baggy clothes for the dress she now wore. She looked to be nothing but skin and bones. He cursed himself for not noticing earlier. He, like everyone else had been wrapped up in the death of Alex and Tess’s betrayal, and hadn’t noticed how it affected anyone other than Max. For the first time in months, he saw sparks of life in her eyes, sparks of anger. It looked as though she had reached her breaking point.

“I think Liz has something to say.”

Max and the others looked up for the first time when Kyle raised his voice. All eyes turned to Liz.

“Not that anyone cares, but I’m not going with you this time.”

“Don’t be silly. Of course you are.” Maria dismissed her friend’s response easily. But Max looked up and saw Liz for the first time that night, maybe even in months. For some reason, she was pissed. And it was directed right at him.

“Liz, what’s wrong?”

Liz stood now. “What’s wrong? You want to know what’s wrong? Everything. How about that?”

“Okay, if you want we can talk about this tomorrow on the way to Phoenix. We really need to leave early in the morning.”

“You’re not listening. But that doesn’t really surprise me anymore. I’m not going to Phoenix. You don’t need me.”

Max approached her carefully. How could she think that? “Of course we need you.”

“Who? The team or you? Max, you haven’t even looked at me, let alone asked for my opinion in months now. The only thing you need me for is information on the Granolith. I know you’re hoping I know more. But you know what? I don’t.”

“But you knew about the Granolith before anyone told you.”

“Is that it? You want to know all the dirty secrets I have left? Fine. The reason I knew about the Granolith’s power before any of you is because Max told me.” Maria was giving her warning glares, but Liz no longer cared. Nothing mattered anymore. Max had broken her for the last time. There was nothing else to lose.

“In the future, there would have been a war. Tess would have left Roswell and everyone would have died. Except for the two of us. So, we sent you back in time to last year, the night you serenaded me to be exact, to fix things. To make Tess stay and for you to fall out of love with me. All he tome me was that it was dangerous if in your enemies’ hands. That was all I knew. All I know. Except that Alex’s death is every bit as much my fault as Tess’s, as well as you two conceiving a child.”

“How can you say that?” Max was struggling to keep up. Time Travel? Wars were fought? None of this was making sense, but Liz was still yelling at him.

“Don’t you see? If I hadn’t pushed you away, we would have slept together that night and none of this would ever have happened. It’s my fault Alex wasn’t alive to see his eighteenth birthday or go to that concert with Isabel. And because I pushed you towards Tess, we fought and you turned to her for comfort. I can’t forget that, Max. I’ve tried, but I can’t.”

Max’s heart broke looking at Liz on the verge of tears. He moved toward her to take her in his arms and she side stepped him, wrapping her arms around her body. A pain sliced deep in his heart. Liz had never done that before.

“No, don’t touch me. I’m done with this, with all of it. You know, I actually thought you remembered. I was foolish enough to think that maybe you would give me just one night. But you couldn’t even do that.”

“Liz, please, what are you talking about?”

“Today, Max. Do you know what today is?”

Max thought hard. Obviously today was important. It was Tuesday. Nothing significant there. What was the date? He had a hard time keeping track of things like that lately.

Liz watched him struggle to figure it out. “It’s September 18th, Max. It’s our anniversary.”

Max’s face twisted in horror. God, how could he have forgotten today? Now that he looked back, it was obvious. Liz was dressed up. She had thought he was taking her somewhere and he had forgotten all about today and brought her to another meeting to talk about Tess and his child. Again, he reached out for her and she stepped backwards.

”Liz, I’m sorry. I’m an ass. Let me make it up to you.”

Liz shook her head. “How? And why should you for that matter? After all, what’s an anniversary without a relationship to go along with it?”

An arrow straight to his heart, but Max accepted it. Why had it taken him so long to see the pain she was in? “Of course we have a relationship.”

“Do we? We’re not lovers. Hell, we’re not even friends anymore. When’s the last time you even looked at me, Max? Really looked at me. I took a look in my mirror this morning and you know what I saw? A stranger. I don’t eat, I can’t sleep. I have to weigh every decision I make in terms of what sort of cataclysmic event it will cause. I don’t even know who I am anymore. But I know that I don’t like it. And I know that I don’t like you anymore either. The person you’ve become is someone I don’t recognize either. How is that a relationship?

Max didn’t know what to say. He was indeed looking at her for the first time. Had she been feeling these things all along? “Liz…” he trailed off, not knowing what the hell he could say now that would make things better. When was the last time he had put her first in anything? Longer than he could remember.

Liz shook her head, knowing the tears would start to flow soon. She’d be damned if she’d breakdown in front of them. Without a word, she ran out the front door, slamming it behind her.

posted on 9-Sep-2001 8:00:45 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17, but you will be warned before those post
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 6

Liz didn’t know how long she walked. It could have been hours, it could have been minutes. Time had all run together now. Without paying attention to her surroundings, she was surprised to find that her broken heart had taken her to Alex’s grave. She stood there a minute, staring at the immortal words chisled in marble.

Alex Charles Whitman
Beloved son and friend

That was all it read. There was nothing to tell the world that he was the only person who could beat her at pinball, or that he had been part of a group of three. Maria, Alex and Liz had been dubbed the three musketeers by their parents, never having gone anywhere without one of the others.

The tombstone said nothing about how his sense of humor had been the only thing to get them all through terrible times, or how he had been the best and most loyal friend anyone could ever have asked for. He would never have the chance to be remembered as a Beloved Husband and Father. He had died at the age of seventeen and it was all her fault.

Tired, Liz collapsed in front of the grave. She could no longer hold back the tears and found she didn’t want to. So, she let go, let out months of anguish and guilt.

“Hey, what’s with all the crying?”

Liz turned tear stained eyes to meet Alex’s worried gaze from behind her. “Oh, Alex. I’m so sorry.”

Alex hopped off the grave marker he had been perched on and sat on the ground beside his old friend. He held her as a fresh bout of tears surfaced. “It’s okay, Lizziebug.”

“No, it’s not okay. It can’t ever be okay again. You’re dead and Max doesn’t want me anymore.”

“Now that can’t be true. Max loves you.”

“Maybe, but it’s all so wrong. I don’t know if I can forgive him for sleeping with Tess, for giving up on us. But I was the one who pushed him towards her. So, that’s my fault too.”

“Enough of that. You can’t take on the weight of the entire world on your shoulders. They’re not big enough. Things happen the way they do for a reason. You know that. If giving up your life would have saved Max’s life, Isabel and Michael’s too, would you have done it?”

Liz sniffled, trying to see his point.

“Of course you would. That’s who you are. And maybe my death saved Isabel’s life. Maybe that was the greater good.”

“But I want you back here. It’s not fair.”

“I know, baby. But there’s nothing to be done about that now. What about Max? Do you still love him?”

Liz didn’t have to think. “Yes. I always will, but it’s killing me.”

Alex nodded, wisdom in his eyes. “Have you taken a look at yourself lately? What happened to my beautiful Liz? I’ve been watching you. You’re not taking care of yourself and I don’t like it. This has to stop. I don’t care what you have to do, but please find yourself again. I know you’ve been thrown for a loop here and I know it feels like it won’t ever get any better, but it will. Us ghosts are far wiser than the living. You have to trust me on this.”

“I’m thinking about leaving Roswell.”

Again, Alex only nodded as if he already knew this too.

Liz sighed. “I just don’t know if I can. How can I leave my friends and family behind and run away? What if they need me for something and I’m not here? And Max needs my support too, I know it.”

“Let me ask you a question. When was the last time anyone did need you? Max needs his own time to figure things out too. Maybe you all do.”

“So, you’re saying I should leave?”

“Whoa! I’m saying nothing of the sort. We’re not allowed to interfere, not directly anyway. But I think there are times to follow your head and times to follow your heart.”

“Well, which one is this?”

“If I told you, I’d have to kill you.”

Liz laughed at his fake accent. “Anyone ever tell you you have a morbid sense of humor?”

“Not lately.” He sobered a bit. “It’s time for me to go, Liz. I’m sorry I couldn’t help more. But you need to find yourself again. Stop blaming yourself for my death. It wasn’t your fault. There is still a lot you don’t know about yourself, about who you are. Your next decision will determine if those truths stay hidden or if they surface.”

“I don’t understand.”

“You will. Be strong. I love you.”

“I love you too, Alex.” But he was already gone. She was alone in the dark cemetery. Could she really do it? Could she leave Roswell all by herself? A crunching sound startled her out of her daze.

Kyle grinned sheepishly at her. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. I thought you might be here.”

Liz wiped at her tears and stood up. “You didn’t have to come get me. I’m fine.”

“That’s just it. I don’t think you are. And that’s all our faults. We didn’t notice, Liz. And I know I’m sorry for it. We agreed to be friends and I haven’t been a good one. I’d like to make it up to you if you’ll let me.”

“You really don’t have anything to apologize for. Tess betrayed you worse of all.”

“Yeah, well humor me. Let me give you a ride home for starters, or anywhere you want to go.”

“Okay. Home sounds good.”

“Are you done here? I didn’t mean to interrupt.”

Liz cast another glance at Alex’s grave and was able to manage a smile. She knew Alex was watching her, would be no matter what she did. And it was a start. “Yeah, I think I’m done here.”

Kyle wrapped an arm around her waist as she leaned her head on his shoulder. Together, they walked back to his Mustang. Liz didn’t have to say anything. Kyle knew something had changed, a decision had been reached and he was almost afraid to find out what it was.

He pulled the car to a stop outside her fire escape railing.

“Thanks, Kyle. You’re a good friend.”

“Not good enough, but I’m going to be.”

Liz smiled at him as she placed a kiss on his cheek and climbed out of the car and into the night.

posted on 9-Sep-2001 8:01:18 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17, but you will be warned before those post
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Alright, this is an official warning from me to you. First of all, this part is LOOOONG. I don’t like doing that, cause I’m mean and like to keep you coming back for more, but I couldn’t bring myself to cut this part anywhere. Second, this is sad. Yes, I’m admitting it. Be warned.

Finding Yourself
Part 7

Max drove aimlessly in the dark, snatches of the earlier conversation running through his head.

Liz had stormed out of the apartment, leaving everyone in shock. It hasn’t taken Max long to recover and he had jumped up, heading for the door. Only Kyle had stood in his way, pulling him back.

“She’s been through enough. Let her have some time alone.”

“No, I need to find her now. I have to talk to her before it’s too late.”

“This isn’t about you, Max, not this time. This is about Liz and what she needs. You broke her heart again tonight. Maybe for the last time. Did you see the defeated look in her eyes? You put it there. Hell, we all did really. The last thing she needs is you charging after her, making her talk before she can get her thoughts together.”

“Kyle’s right.” Maria spoke up now. She hadn’t been a friend either. When her heart had been bleeding and raw, she had turned to Michael. Isabel and Kyle had each other. Who had Liz had to talk to? Liz had even asked for help this summer, telling Maria she was drowning here. But Maria had panicked and guilted her into staying. She was to blame too. “We all failed her. She doesn’t need any of us right now.”

“Well, she needs someone! She can’t just walk home in the dark!” Max had started pacing, realizing just how badly he had screwed up and not having a clue how to fix it.

“I’ll go.” Kyle had volunteered. “Just stay away from her.”

Now, Max drove, thinking back on all the things he could have said and done differently. It was a wonder she didn’t hate him after the way he’d treated her. Ignored, brushed aside for him to relentlessly quest after the Granolith.

Damning the consequences, he swung the Jeep around and headed towards Liz’s house. He needed to see her tonight. He had the sinking feeling that tonight may be his only chance to get through to her, to show her how much she meant to him.

He made the drive quickly, careful to pull quietly across the street to not wake the Parkers. He made his way rung by rung up her fire escape, not knowing what to expect. Would she even be there? If not, he would wait, as long as he needed to. But as he climbed over the ladder, his eyes were drawn to Liz’s small form huddled on her lawn chair. She looked so small, so broken, that he wanted to run to her and promise her the world. But he didn’t have the right to.

He hopped over the ledge as he’d done a hundred times, but it was different this time. Liz didn’t stand to greet him, didn’t flash him a secret smile. Now that he thought about it, he didn’t remember the last time he actually had seen her smile. She merely continued to stare up at the sky. Max approached her slowly.

“Liz? Is it okay if I sit down?”

She nodded and Max took a seat beside her. Where was he supposed to begin?

Liz knew he was struggling to find a way to reach her, but she was beyond it now. She knew what she had to do.

“Did I ever tell you the story about the time Maria, Alex and I went camping in Frasier Woods? It was the summer before I was shot. It was just the three of us, sitting in the middle of the dark woods, Alex’s idea of course. Maria and I had voted on going to another city and staying in a hotel for our vacation, but Alex insisted on going camping. He said we hadn’t lived until we’d had to rough it.” She smiled at the memory. “It rained, monsooned actually, and all we had was this second hand tent with a leaky roof. Maria and I moaned about it, but Alex was having the time of his life. He told us ghost stories and we ate the marshmallows we couldn’t toast. Then when we heard noises outside, Maria and I ended up sleeping in his sleeping bag with him, so he could protect us from whatever dangers lurked outside. We were miserable, cold and scared to death, but I’d give everything I had to go back to that night, that horrible night that almost made me catch pneumonia. Because, that night, it was just us. Everything was okay. I didn’t know it then, but that’s one of the best memories I have.” Liz paused.

“And then I think about what my life is like now. I can’t help but weigh every decision in terms of death and universal destruction. If I have cornflakes for breakfast, will the world end? Who will die today if I decide to throw caution to the wind and tell you right now I forgive you for everything you came here to apologize for? I feel like I’m weighing the value of human life. If we had slept together last year, then Isabel and Michael would have died, along with thousands of others. Tess would be gone, a war wouldn’t have to be waged over your unborn child. But instead, Alex is dead. There’s no winning.”

“Liz, none of that was your fault.”

“Well, the only common thread is that we were involved. We can dance around it all you want, Max, but as long as we’re here in each other’s pockets, everyone around us is in danger. Don’t you see? Michael was right all those years ago. I distract you. I mean, here you are babysitting me when you have a lead on finding your child.”

“I had to see you, Liz. I was worried about you”

“You shouldn’t be. I haven’t been okay in a long time.”

“I’m sorry again for that. I know words can’t begin to make up for it-“

“It’s fine, Max. I understand.”

Her tone was flat and he was truly worried now. Why wasn’t she yelling at him? “But you shouldn’t have to.”

“No, Max, really I get it. You were only doing what you had to do. It’s your responsibility to watch out for the others, for your planet and for your child. I’m sorry I threw a fit and stormed out. It was childish and wrong. As a friend, you deserved better.”

“Well, as a friend and the woman I love, you deserved better than I’ve been treating you.”

“Don’t say that.” Liz squirmed. She wouldn’t be able to do this if he told her how much he loved her.

“What? That I love you? I do, Liz. I know how I’ve treated you lately and that’s all going to change. I’ll spend more time just you and me. I won’t research so much to find the Granolith.”

“You would do that for me?”

Max swallow hard. “Yes.”

Liz closed her eyes. “Max, I can’t ask you to do that for me. That’s why this isn’t working.”

“What do you mean?”

“I can’t be okay in this town anymore, neither can you. If I let anything happen between us, it would be wrong. You have a destiny, Max, and it’s not me.”

“I’m so sick and tired of that word. If you’re afraid of what being with me will mean, or if you don’t love me anymore, tell me. But just don’t hide behind destiny.”

Liz turned to face Max for the first time. “I do love you, Max. I always will, but I’m dying here. Everything around here is slowly choking me. I love you enough to know that you don’t belong to me, and that I have to let you go.”


“Yes. Max, you have a life to live. You need to be able to focus all your attention on finding your child, stopping Khivar, and finding yourself in all of this. Maybe I’m being cowardly, but it’s time for me to go. Put yourself in my shoes. If Kyle and I had slept together and we had conceived a child, but then I disappeared, how would you feel following Kyle around looking for his child, knowing that it should have been yours?”

Max knew how he would feel, anger, jealousy, rage, and a hundred other things. And he understood.

“That’s how I feel all the time. If it were just the baby we were looking for, maybe I could do it. But with her killing Alex and all the future stuff, it’s too much. When I said I don’t know who I am anymore, I meant it.” She waited, could she say it? “I’m leaving Roswell.”

Max’s heart lurched. “Okay, for how long? Christmas break is coming up soon.”

“No, I’m leaving tonight. I’m moving away.”

“You can’t leave. Liz, we can change things. I can change.” He was desperate now. He couldn’t live without her.

“You shouldn’t have to. After all this time, I’m still holding you back. You were supposed to be sleeping now so you can leave in the morning for Phoenix. But instead here you are, saying you’ll put it all behind you. You can’t do that, Max. Like it or not, you are a King. Not only do your people need you to find the Granolith, but you also have a child out there. And you should be spending every minute of the day looking for him. That’s why I’m leaving. It hurts too much to watch you do this and you don’t really need me. We both need some time to find our places. Somewhere out there, you do have a destiny. Maybe it’s with me, but maybe not. And maybe I have a destiny of my own to fulfill. And I can’t find it here. I have to leave.”

“Would you still have gone if I hadn’t come here tonight, if I hadn’t come here to talk to you?”

“But you did. I always did know what you were going to do before you did it. That’s how I know you’re going to be a great leader and a wonderful father.”

“Where will you go?”

“I don’t know. I’m not going to hide or change my name. But I am going to ask you not to look for me. Don’t track me down and watch me from afar. I can sense when you’re around and it’ll only drive me crazy if I think you’re there somewhere.”

“Will you ever come back?” His heart had already accepted that she was leaving. She needed to. But he needed to know if he would ever look up and see her standing in front of him.

“One day, but don’t wait for me, Max. Maybe I’ll be able to work things out in my head for us to be together, maybe not. I’m letting you go so you can fly free and clear of guilt. You may find that the only way for all this to end is for you to go home. And if that’s where your path takes you, go.”

“Is there anything I can say or do to change your mind? I have to know.”

“Yes. All you have to do is ask me to stay. Ask me to spend the night with you and I will. But I won’t be the Liz Parker you fell in love with.”

Max nodded, his heart aching. He had done this to her, had pushed her to this point with his inattention and his very existence. But beyond all that, she loved him enough to stay if he said he needed her, even if it meant she would die a little more inside everyday. He did need her, like the very air he breathed. But she was right. There was too much in their way right now. Slowly, as if afraid not to scare her, he moved to sit in her lounge chair. She looked at him questioningly, but he was powerless to stop moving. He had to feel her in his arms one last time. He drew his arms around her, hugging her close, trying desperately to remember it all for later. Would her scent disappear from his memory? Could he ever forget how soft her skin was?

“Maybe you’re right. Maybe we both need some time to spread our wings and see if our journeys take us apart or bring up back together.” He pulled back from her slim form and offered her a broken smile. “Do you need a ride somewhere?”

Liz let out a breath. He wasn’t going to ask her to stay. Was she glad he was making this easy, or disappointed? “Yeah, the bus station.”

“Okay. Is this all you’re taking?” He nodded to a bag that sat behind her chair.

“Yeah.” She stood with him, praying that her knees would hold her up. She was really going to do it. She was going to leave her heart behind and find a way to live again.

Max held out a shaky hand to her. Without hesitation, she placed her hand in his and they climbed down the fire escape and into Max’s Jeep.

Author’s note: Now, I have a question for all of you guys. I loved the last part I wrote with Alex coming to Liz to help her out. I’m trying to decide if I should put him in a bit more as the story progresses (maybe another two or three scenes) or leave him out, giving his visit more impact. Please give me your opinion and I’ll decide based on what you guys want to see. Thanks. And I need you guys to remember something, I love Max and Liz together. This will not turn into an U/C story, although it may look that way sometimes. They just have a long road ahead of them before that even has a possibility of happening. Just a note before I get more death threats. And yes, I did borrow the memory of them going camping in Frasier Woods from DWYHTD, but I can do that because I made them both up. I just loved the idea and I ran with it in here too.

posted on 9-Sep-2001 8:01:58 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17, but you will be warned before those post
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Hey guys, I’m doing my best to get parts out for this story, but I’m working on like three others at the minute, so bear with me. Thanks for the great feedback, I always love to hear it even if it is criticism or advice. Basically, I need you guys to remember that I have a couple of words here and I sometimes confuse them in my head. DWYHTD is set after Max in the City, so I need to make sure I don’t reference anything that happened the second half of the season. So, if I forget to explain something or mix something up, let me know. I’ll try to fix it best I can.

SciFiNut111- Thanks for your long note. I love to make people think. I too, hated Max for a couple of episodes last season and was livid the way they split up the characters. Michael and Maria were the only saving grace of the show, and they weren’t even couple-ish until the episodes with Laurie. Anyway, I digress. Liz is fed up in this world. She’s tired of following everyone around and she finally did realize that she wasn’t Max’s first priority. But being Liz, she understood that, even if she didn’t like it. That’s why she’s leaving. She knows that Max has to put his child first and until she has a place on his list, she’s leaving to find herself again. She doesn’t recognize herself anymore, being kind of a doormat. She lost her best friend, murdered by the woman she pushed toward Max for his own good. She’s kind of screwed up in the head right now. Wouldn’t you be? But she wasn’t asking Max for permission to leave. Remember, she loves him, would do anything for him. So, if he told her he absolutely needed her, she would stay. She was asking him to understand that she needed to leave and not to try to stop her, or bring her back. I just rambled there far longer than I planned to, so I’m going to stop now. Hope that cleared things up for some of you if I wasn’t clear in the last part.

Finding Yourself
Part 8

The ride to the bus station was quick, far too quick. And Max once again cursed the small town they lived in. He parked and Liz got out to purchase her ticket. Max stayed where he was, knowing Liz had been right. If her knew where she was going, the temptation would be too great. He would end up watching her from the shadows just to drink up the sight of her. And that wasn’t what this forced separation was about. They had to find out who they were apart from each other if they stood any chance of ending up together.

It took Liz only a minute, then she was back, sitting in the passenger seat. They both sat looking straight ahead at nothing.

“Did you get one?”



“A half hour.”

A half hour, thirty short minutes. It wasn’t enough time. He wanted to turn the Jeep’s ignition and flee with her, run to a place where they didn’t have any problems. But there wasn’t any such place. But maybe there could be someday. “What do you want to do?”

“Can we just sit here?”

“Anything you want.”

Silence settled around them. There was nothing left to say. So, they watched the sunrise through the dusty glass windshield of Max’s Jeep. Liz moved to clasp hands with Max and he tightened his grip on the one piece of her flesh he was allowed to touch. How had he ever ignored her? What the hell had been wrong with him that he could be single minded enough to push Liz out of his life?

The minutes flew by and the couple soon found themselves watching the glowing green numbers of the clock on the control panel.

“I have to go.”

Max nodded. “I’ll walk you out.”

Together, they left the empty parking lot and through the ticket office to the bus. What few passengers there were stepped up to find their seats. Liz turned to Max, tears in her eyes.

“This is me.”

Max looked into Liz’s eyes and found his own anguish mirrored there. In that instant, he realized what they were both giving up. There was a very real chance they’d never see each other again, that he could be called home or she might find someone else that would realize that perfection she was. All the dreams and fantasies of his future with her were slipping away. And he was powerless to stop it. He didn’t deserve her. But he would next time they met, if they ever met again.

“Max,” Liz felt her own heart breaking as the silent drama unfolded. Would they ever have another chance, or was this it? Could this be the last time she would ever look into his deep eyes, or ever have the chance to be held in his strong arms?

On a sob, she threw herself at him, burying her head in his chest. Max’s arms came around her tight, his fingers winding up through her hair to grip her tighter to him. But it still wasn’t enough. He let her slip from his tight grip and their eyes met again. Slowly, he leaned closer, their lips barely touching.

Liz closed in the distance, wanting to feel his lips on hers one last time. She opened herself to him, pouring every bit of love into the kiss. She desperately needed him to know that she wasn’t trying to hurt him by leaving, but fixing them the only way she knew how.

Max returned the emotions. He understood why she had to go, just as he understood that his chest would be empty the rest of his life without her love, her trust to complete him. The kiss continued, both remembering better times when kisses were stolen in eraser rooms and secret rendezvous’ on her balcony let to heartfelt confessions of love.

Unable to stand anymore, Max broke the kiss. He couldn’t stop the tears if he wanted to. “I’ll always love you, Liz Parker, no matter where we end up. You made me who I am and I know I’ll see you again someday. Fate isn’t through with us yet. And hopefully, I’ll be worthy of you then.”

Liz smiled through the tears that threatened to blind her, her last gift to him. She took several steps backward, not wanting to let Max slip from her sight yet. When there was nowhere left to go, she stepped on the bus, scurrying to the back window to watch Max for as long as she could. She could feel the vibration of the bus as the engine started and she knew they were leaving. She placed her palm flat against the glass, wishing there were another way, but knowing there wasn’t.

The bus moved forward and Max began getting smaller. Liz saw him start forward, almost as if to stop her, but he remained. Soon, the bus had pulled away from the station completely and Liz remained where she was, even after Max was only a speck in the distance.

posted on 9-Sep-2001 8:02:23 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17, but you will be warned before those post
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 9

The phone rang, echoing through the Evans’ household. Diane Evans rolled over in bed and answered it sleepily on the fourth ring.


“Diane? I’m sorry to bother you this early in the morning, but I’m afraid I have a problem.”

Diane bolted upright in bed. “Sheriff Valenti? Jim? What is it?”

“Well, I need to ask you to check and tell me if both of your kids are in bed.”

“Diane, what’s going on?” Phillip awoke quickly. The Sheriff calling at five in the morning was only trouble.

Diane covered the phone mouthpiece. “Jim wants to know if the kids are in bed.”

“Of course they are. I’ll go check though.” Phillip made his way out of bed and into the hallway.

“Jim, what’s this about? Phillip’s checking. Is everything okay?”

Jim sighed over the connection. “No, I’m afraid it looks like Liz Parker has run away. She left her parents a note and I was hoping Max and Isabel could help.”

“God, how horrible! How’s Nancy?”

“Not well. She’s beside herself with worry.”

Phillip returned to the doorframe, Isabel right behind him. “Max isn’t in his room.” His eyes were panicked. Where the hell was his son and why was the Sheriff asking?

“What’s going on?” Isabel knew Max was going to get caught out with Liz one day. She couldn’t cover for him forever.

“Jim, Max isn’t here either. Oh, god, is he gone too?”

“Now calm down, Diane. I’m on my way out there.”

Diane hung up the phone and turned to her family. Had Max run away with Liz? “Liz Parker ran away from home. Isabel, where’s Max? Was he with her?”

Isabel was speechless. Liz had run away? That didn’t sound right. Surely, Max and Liz were just off somewhere talking.

“They had a fight earlier and he went to find her last I heard. They probably just got caught up somewhere working things out. This is just a big misunderstanding. You’ll see.”

But four hours later, Isabel wasn’t so sure. Sheriff Valenti had come by and given them the whole story. The Parkers had gone to check up on Liz and had found her room empty except for a note to her parents. Some clothes and personal affects were missing. Maria, Michael, and Amy were with the Parkers now, waiting for any kind of news. Their story had been the same. Max and Liz had fought and that was the last anyone had seen of them, except for Kyle finding her at Alex’s grave.

Kyle had come over to the Evans’ house and had helped Isabel pick through Max’s things, looking for any sign of a struggle or if anything was missing. Isabel insisted that Max and Liz had been taken, saying her brother wouldn’t just leave them like that. Kyle wasn’t so sure. But to be safe, they had told the Sheriff anyway. He agreed to let them help search and Kyle and Isabel hopped into Kyle’s Mustang to pick up Michael and Maria.

At the Crashdown, they found hysterical Parkers and a distraught Maria. Amy was doing her best to calm them all, but her heart wasn’t in it. When they saw Isabel and Kyle, their eyes lit up.

“Did you find them?” Maria rushed forward, expectantly.

“No, no word yet. The Sheriff thought the four of us might be able to look around a few places they might be.”

“Good idea. Maria, you take the car. I’ll be here if you need me.” Amy patted her daughter’s hand, pushing them out the door. There was no need to have a half dozen people sitting around fretting, when they could be out looking.

Outside, the four agreed to split up. Michael and Maria would check the pod chamber, cemetary and the school. Isabel and Kyle would circle around town and try the airport, train and bus stations.

Kyle drove in silence, thinking about Liz. She had looked absolutely broken in the cemetery. How long had that been building up? Liz was tough, it would have to have taken more than a single incident to set her off like that. This had to be Alex’s death and the future Max incident that put things in perspective now. So, it was no wonder she would have left town. But for Max to go with her? It didn’t make sense.

They had already been by the park and every place they could ever remember Max and Liz going. They had tried the airport and the train stations with no luck. They were headed for the bus station now, the last place they knew to look.

Kyle heard a car horn behind him and he checked his rear view mirrors. “Hey, Isabel, Michael and Maria are behind us.”

Isabel swiveled around in time to see the Jetta pull alongside the Mustang. Maria rolled down the passenger window and Kyle rolled down his as well.

“Any luck?” he yelled out the window.

“No, you guys headed for the bus station?”

“Yeah. Meet us there and we’ll regroup.”

Maria nodded and the Jetta sped off in front of them, leading the way to the station.

Both cars pulled into the parking lot at the same time and Isabel let out a gasp as she recognized Max’s Jeep sitting empty. She was clawing at the door handle as Kyle slowed the car for her to jump out. Isabel ran to the Jeep, frantically searching for any sign of her brother and Liz. Maria was on the other side of the Jeep, doing the same thing.

A white envelope caught Isabel’s eye and she picked it up to see Liz’s loopy scrawl on it. “Maria, I think this is for you.”

Maria looked at the envelope, identical to the one the Parkers had found that morning. Without having to open it, she burst into a fresh bout of tears.

Isabel looked frantically around the parking lot. Max wasn’t there and Liz had left a note for Maria. Maybe it would shed some light on what was going on, but Isabel had to find Max. He couldn’t be gone. She took off into the ticket office, pushing her way into the front of the line to pull out a picture of Max and Liz and thrusting at the ticket booth operator.

“Have you seen these two here tonight?”

The man scratched his head a minute. “I don’t recall seeing the young fella, but the girl looks familiar.”

Isabel’s heart lurched. “When? Where did they go?”


Isabel turned to where Maria’s voice had called from. Without an apology, she pushed her way back through the line to make a break for the buses. But the sight she found made her stop short even as her heart broke. Max was sitting on a bench, head in his hands, looking frozen. She ran to his side and knelt before him, trying to make him look up at her. Maria and the others had followed just as quickly, but were more than willing to let Isabel handle things now.

“Max, look at me. Are you okay?” He didn’t answer, so she shook him a bit. “Max, I need you to snap out of it. Where’s Liz?”

At the mention of Liz’s name, the tears started rolling down Max’s cheeks again. “She’s gone, Is. She’s gone.”

Shocked, Isabel took her brother into her arms and rocked him gently as he wept. What had they done?

posted on 9-Sep-2001 8:02:53 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17, but you will be warned before those post
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 10

The group had watched Isabel and Max for a few minutes, before Michael gently reminded them that the police were still out looking for them. He reasoned that it would be better to take Max home, as opposed to having to be brought back by a police cruiser. So, Isabel had managed to coax her brother back into the Jeep. Michael had driven in silence while Maria’s occasional sniffle was the only sound heard.

Max seemed to have shut down as they pulled him from the last place he had seen Liz. His eyes had sort of glazed over and Isabel was truly worried for him. Then the anger began building towards Liz. She knew it was irrational and selfish to think that way, but Liz had fled in the middle of the night and left her brother like this. He didn’t deserve it. Isabel ignored the rational part of her brain that told her why Liz had left. She didn’t want to hear it just yet. Maybe later.

Michael had pulled up in the Evans’ driveway and they sat still, no one wanting to go in and explain what had happened. But they didn’t have to wait long. The front door had been flung open and Diane and Phillip came rushing towards them, folding Max in their arms. He allowed them to lead him upstairs to bed and the Sheriff approached Isabel and Kyle, looking like they were the only rational ones in the group.

“She left town, Dad.” Kyle hung his head low. He had seen it coming, but hadn’t stopped it.


“Early this morning, bus station. We found Max still there.” Isabel didn’t want to talk to the Sheriff now. She only wanted to get up in her brother’s room and make sure he didn’t do anything stupid. Without another word, she broke from the group and ran up the stairs.

Kyle turned to his father. “They’re not taking it well.”

“What happened?”

Kyle ran a hand through his hair, a mirror image of his father. “Things have been pretty rocky since Tess and Alex. You know how single minded Max has been lately, trying to find them. I think Liz was just holding it all in and it just built up. She exploded last night. I guess it was their anniversary or something and she thought he was going to surprise her and instead, he’d just called another meeting with all of us.”

Jim shook his head. “The shooting. That was two years ago yesterday, wasn’t it?”

“What are you going to do, dad? You can’t drag her back, can you? It’ll kill her.”

“Unfortunately, I can’t do a thing since she already left town. She is eighteen, barely, but she legally old enough to leave if she wants. I was hoping I could at least get her to talk to her parents, but I guess not. She really didn’t say anything to anyone?”

Kyle shook his head. Maria still had yet to open the letter they had found. That was for her alone to share if she chose. “Only Max.”

Jim nodded, as if expecting the answer. “Okay, son. I guess I have to go tell the Parkers. Maybe having Amy there will help. I’ll see you at home.” Jim turned to walk to his car, then stopped, turning back around to pull Kyle into a tight hug. “I love you, Kyle. You know that, right?”

Okay, this was getting to be too much. “Yeah, dad. I got it.”

Jim nodded again, this time returning to his car and stepping in, dreading the return to the Parkers.

Upstairs, Max had been tucked into bed, his lifeless eyes staring up at the ceiling. Why was it that he could only see her face wherever he looked now? He had done everything he could to push her away, her sad doe eyes haunting him every time they met. But now, he longed for those eyes. What had he done? Why had he let her go?

Diane and Phillip held each other as Isabel sat on her brother’s bed and whispered in his ear. They were thankful Max was here, that he hadn’t run away with Liz, but they had a feeling that they had still lost their son.

Isabel turned her back to her parents, hoping she was blocking them from seeing what she was doing, but not really caring if they did. If she could offer any sort of comfort to her brother, she would do it. She placed a hand on his forehead and closed her eyes. She formed a connection with Max and sought to put him to sleep. She ignored the feelings and images he sent her, instead focusing on his neural pathways. When his breathing had labored and she was sure he would be okay alone for a few hours, she rose from the bed and gestured for her parents to follow her out. She climbed down the stairs, the evening’s events taking a toll on her body now. Kyle was in the kitchen, banging around, making coffee or tea she supposed. Why people did that in times of stress she never knew, but found that she was comforted by his presence. She wouldn’t have to face her parents alone.

Isabel turned, and found herself pulled into tight hug from both of her parents. She held onto them for a minute, glad she at least had them. Then, she pulled away, knowing they needed a story.

Kyle emerged from the kitchen with mugs of warm tea. Diane took one gratefully from him, using the ceramic to warm her chilled hands. They had almost lost their son today.

“Isabel, what happened? Where did you find Max? And what about Liz?”

Isabel faultered, not knowing where to start. She felt Kyle’s hand on her arm and she flashed him a grateful smile. He would take over for her and she would owe him forever for it.

“Mr. and Mrs. Evans, Liz is gone. She left town early this morning. From what we figure, Liz had a nervous breakdown of sorts. Alex’s death was too much for her and you know Max and Liz had been broken up at the time. When Max dated Tess,” Kyle found the words vial to his own ears. “Liz couldn’t handle it. She pushed everyone away when Alex died and everything just went bad last night. They fought and she left. I found her in the cemetery last night and I took her home. Sometime after that, Max showed back up and I guess they talked it all through. Max drove her to the bus station and that’s where we found him. I think he let her go, even though it may have killed him.”

Diane began sobbing, and Phillip held her tight. “What about her parents? Is your dad going to find her?”

Kyle sighed. “Well, the tricky part is that she’s legally old enough to do what she wants. Dad says he can’t force her back. In Liz’s letter to the Parkers, she asked them to give her some time, not to come looking for her. And if they let her be, she would call them in a few weeks and keep in touch. I just hope Dad can talk them into following her wishes. If they hire someone to drag her back, she’ll just leave again and then no one will ever be able to find her.”

“God, it’s just so horrible! I wish I could do something, but I think we’d do more harm than good to Nancy and Jeff right now. When you see them, you’ll tell them to call us if they need anything?”

“Of course.” Kyle wasn’t sure when he had developed his father’s tact and ability to handle people in a crisis, but he found that it wasn’t as distasteful as he once thought.

Diane squeezed Phillip’s hand. “I’m going to make lunch. Kyle, you’ll stay, won’t you?”

Kyle slid his eyes toward Isabel, seeking her answer. He would go if she wanted to be alone with her family.

“He’ll stay.” Isabel offered him a weak smile. She needed someone to keep her strong, and Kyle was perfect for the job. She had a feeling it was going to be a long healing process for everyone involved. And wherever Liz was, Isabel hoped that she could find someone to lean on herself. Somehow, they all would get through this.

posted on 9-Sep-2001 8:03:16 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17, but you will be warned before those post
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 11

In the weeks following Liz’s hasty departure from Roswell, the town was abuzz with gossip on what had actually happened. Liz Parker was a straight A student, top of her class with a bright future ahead of her. Sure, she had lost one of her friends, but everyone was convinced there were more sinister forces at work for her disappearance. One rumor floating around was that she had found herself pregnant and had been forced to flee in shame. Another rumor was that she had found herself in trouble with the law and was on the run. But wherever her name was mentioned, one thing was for sure. Max Evans was at the core of the problem.

Everyone knew how perfect of a couple they had been, the two smartest students in the class had emerged as a super-couple overnight. Max Evans had been one of the most eligible bachelors in their class, elusive and shy and he had changed in the blink of an eye. When rumors had first started that they had broken up last year, they weren’t believed. But then when the new blond girl had appeared tied at the hip with Max, the talking had started anew. Then with the death of Alex Whitman still fresh in everyone’s minds, it was no wonder Liz had skipped town.

The five remaining members of the group had somehow managed to muddle along with their lives, but just barely. Maria had read the letter left to her by Liz and refused to share it with anyone, but no one had really pressed her for information. They all knew what they needed to know already. Liz wasn’t coming back for along time, if ever at all.

Jim Valenti had been successful in convincing the Parkers not to hire a private investigator and drag her back home. He had explained that they had to trust her on her own for now, give her the room she had asked for, and one day they would get her back. They hadn’t liked it, but they had come to terms with it, waiting each day for the phone to ring, hoping it would be their Lizzie letting them know she was safe and sound.

Michael had been there for Maria, becoming the supportive boyfriend she had always tried to turn him into. He stayed with her day and night, half afraid to leave her alone, and to their surprise, Amy Deluca hadn’t had a problem with Michael’s temporary living arrangements. Maybe because she knew her daughter had lost both of her best friends and was afraid she might lose her daughter too, but Michael had become a permanent fixture in the Deluca household.

Maria had taken to tuning out the world and staring off into space. They could only guess she was living in her memories of happier times with her two best friends. But it was the spontaneous crying jags that caught them off guard and put them on edge. Some days it was something as small as a song on the radio that Alex had sung to her, or pulling her red sweater out of her closet only to remember that Liz had borrowed it, but Maria was just as broken as Max, if not more. At least he’d had the chance to say goodbye.

Isabel had taken over the roll of protector and mother hen. She made sure Max ate and slept, having to remind him to do these simple tasks. He too would stare off into space, only he could sit there uninterrupted for days if Isabel let him. He had replayed every minute of their time together in his head hundreds of times, but he refused to talk to anyone.

His parents had finally forced him out of bed after a week, and he had returned to school with an air of indifference. He didn’t study, didn’t do his homework. Not even his pursuit for the Granolith could catch his interest. He was merely existing, his mind caught in the endless loop of his time with Liz, while his body functioned as everyone expected it to. Get up, eat breakfast, go to school, come home, eat, and sleep again. Each day blended in with the rest. He no longer knew what day it was or cared. When Isabel woke him up and told him where to go, he did it. Arguing only took away from the time in his head with Liz.

Still more time passed with no sign of any change. Summer had turned into Fall and the nights were becoming cooler. And as each day passed, Michael became more worried. Maria was suffering from nightmares that were keeping them both awake. Isabel too had stopped sleeping in her own bed, instead using Michael’s old sleeping bag to sleep on Max’s floor in case he needed anything. And getting Max to say more than ten words a day was becoming increasingly harder.

Only Kyle seemed to be as worried as Michael was. Kyle himself had tried to be there for his friends, only to discover that he wasn’t needed. He had taken to spending more and more time away from the group, afraid that his growing anger towards Max would erupt one day. At least for Isabel’s sake, he had maintained his distance so far, helping where he was needed most. By being gone. Max had crushed a good friend and let her leave alone. No one knew where she was or if she was okay. But of course she wasn’t okay. Why would she be? But at least Max and Maria had their friends and family to take care of them. Liz was alone.

Only Michael seemed to see these things. He knew the group was falling apart. They had lost their leader and maybe the heart of the group as well. Isabel now gave all her attention to Max and Maria had Michael. Michael felt as if Kyle was slowly being fazed out of the group. They needed to act, and act fast.

But Maria had beaten Michael to the punch, already seeing that they were becoming less and less of the closely bonded group they had once been. She had opened her eyes and taken a good look at herself in the mirror that chilly October morning and hadn’t liked what she had seen. Her eyes were hollow and puffy from crying herself awake that morning from another nightmare that she couldn’t remember.

All she knew was that she had never felt so alone in her life. Then it had hit her. That was how Liz had felt for months, that exact emotion. Maria understood then for the first time why her friend had left so abruptly, and vowed to find some way to make things up to her. She hadn’t been much of a friend for Liz since Alex’s death, but she would be now.

Maria had also wondered for the first time what this was doing to the others. She had been so caught up in her own grief that she hadn’t really looked at them either. She knew no one had continued with the search for the Granolith and Max’s son, and everything about that seemed wrong. Liz had left so Max and the others could do these things properly, so that Max could obsess night and day over how to fix his mess, so Max could learn to become the wonderful father and King Liz knew he would be. And maybe Liz would one day find her way home, maybe not. But her sacrifice wouldn’t be in vain.

With a glint of determination in her eyes that had been missing for far too long, Maria had slipped away from Michael long enough to sneak into the UFO center. If there were any more recent activity, Brody would have information about it. He had become obsessed himself with the object numerous countries were searching for, convinced that it held the key to his own abductions. Luckily, Maria knew exactly how to get into the files from several of the covert operations they had run in the past.

She slipped into Brody’s office and quickly popped the lock on his file cabinet, silently thanking her cousin for teaching her something useful. She thumbed through the older documents and quickly zeroed in on the newest ones. Hastily, she carried them to the small copier in the corner of the office, had replaced the originals and snuck back out before anyone had even known she was there. There was just one place left to go now, and it would be the hardest thing she would ever have to do.

posted on 9-Sep-2001 8:03:49 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17, but you will be warned before those post
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Okay, look, here’s the deal. I’m still not happy with how this part reads, but I’ve played with it for too long already. So, let me know what you guys think.

Finding Yourself
Part 12

Maria steeled up all her courage as she sat in her parked Jetta outside of the Evans residence. She knew the Evans were out shopping, so that just left her Isabel to deal with. Max had been well guarded by his sister, making sure that no one hurt her still fragile brother. Well, Isabel hadn’t dealt with Maria yet. She would just march up there and demand to see Max. Or she could just go through the window like Liz used to. The more she thought about it, the better the second way sounded. Yep, there was something to be said for the coward’s way out of a situation.

More nervous now than she thought possible, Maria climbed out of her car and across the well manicured front lawn. Sadly, she already knew which window was Max’s. When had they begun using windows more often than doors?

A quick pass around the house showed her that Isabel was watching television in the living room alone. That meant Max must be in his room. Maria carefully picked her way around the house and in front of Max’s window. It was now or never.

Not bothering to knock, Maria slid the window open and poked her head through. Max was on his bed, sleeping by the looks of it. Deciding it was better this way, Maria set about climbing through to his bedroom. Succeeding with only minor scrapes, she approached the side of the bed.

“Max, wake up.” Maria whispered, but received no response.

Poking him in the ribs, she tried again. “Max, I need to talk to you.”

Max groaned and rolled over, burying his face under his pillow. “Go away, Maria. I already told Isabel I don’t want to talk to anyone.”

Maria felt her anger rise to the surface. Did he really think he was going to get away with that? “Max Evans, I don’t give a damn what you want. I’m here to talk to you and you’re going to get up and listen to me.”

Max pulled the pillow from over his head, turning pleading eyes to Maria. “Please, Maria, you understand, don’t you?”

“Oh yeah, I understand alright. Those sad eyes may work on Isabel, but not on me, not anymore. It’ll be less embarrassing if you just get up and dressed on your own, but I’m not leaving here without you.”

“I’m not going anywhere.”

“Wanna bet? Max, you’ve been holed up in here for weeks now and we’ve let you. Hell, I’ve done the same thing, so I know how easy it is. But it’s time for that to stop. Both of us need to wake up and have a talk.”

Max saw the gleam in her eyes. Maria was in the mood to talk and she looked pissed. He’d wondered how long it was going to take for his friends to blame him for Liz’s disappearance. He supposed he owed her at least the chance to get it out of her system. “Give me a minute.”

Maria watched as Max climbed out of bed and pulled on a pair of jeans, not bothering to tuck in his shirt. They had all stopped living, and they were about to begin again. She took a glance around his room and found that it wasn’t much better than Max’s appearance. “First thing we do after we get back and you shower is clean this place up.”

Max ignored her jibe. “I assume you didn’t go through Isabel?”

“Uh, no the window, actually.”

Max nodded. He really didn’t feel like going through Isabel much himself. He loved her, but when she played mother hen, she could be stifling. Together, they climbed out the window and slipped into Maria’s Jetta. The window was down and Max found that he enjoyed the feel of fresh air as they raced down the highway. It had felt like ages since he had breathed it in. “Where are we going?”

But Maria didn’t answer. She was trying to figure out what she was going to say and if she would still have a friend in Max when she was through. They drove in silence for the trip out to the desert.

Max immediately recognized the surroundings. She was taking him to the bluff where they used to have their meetings, back before Tess, before Destiny, before they had hurt each other.

Sure enough, Maria slowed the car and parked, jumping out of the car. Nerves drove her forward as she paced the bluff.

Max followed her slowly. “Look, Maria, I know you’re angry with me. You have every right to be.”

She whirled to face him. “You’re damn right I’m angry with you. And thank you for giving me your permission, your highness.”

Max’s spine stiffened. “That’s not necessary, Maria.”

“Isn’t it? Isn’t that what this is all about? You give commands and we follow? The Great King and his lowly servants? You tried to command Liz from leaving Roswell to find out the truth about Alex. You commanded Isabel not to leave for school. Who knows what else you’ve done, because you haven’t talked to me in months. Did that work out for you? Did you get better results with threats and demands? Liz was right. Look at us. Look at what all of us have become. Ever since Alex died things have been wrong. Liz knew it, but none of us believed her. You made her feel guilty, drew a line in the sand between us all. And none of us chose her. I’m to blame for how I treated her too, but she was right. She knew Alex better than the rest of us and she believed in him. I don’t know about you, but I’ve lost my faith in everything. And I know how scared and alone I’ve been. Your world wasn’t the only one that was shaken up, Max.”

Max stood tall, afraid to move for fear of breaking down and never being able to regain his footing. “I’m sorry, Maria. I haven’t been there for you. You lost both of them.”

“This isn’t about me.” Maria felt her anger draining away. She still wasn’t done with Max, but this wasn’t the time for the fierce storm of her anger. There would come a day when she would let him have it, but not today. She needed to get their group back on track. “No, you weren’t there for me. But you know who else you haven’t been there for? Your son.”

Max’s eyes flared. “I don’t want to talk about that.” He couldn’t. The guilt was too much. How could he help anyone if he couldn’t even help himself?

“Well, guess what? I do. Liz left because she wanted you to be able to concentrate day and night to find him, to get the Granolith back so that it won’t be a threat to your people. What about them? Would you condemn millions of people because you got your heart broken?”

Max winced. He’d never had a furious Maria before, angry yes, but furious no. “That’s not fair.”

“You’re right, it’s not. Look at yourself. Is this what you want to be like? Do you want to just exist, waiting for the day maybe when Liz comes back? Cause I can tell you she’s not going to break down and come running home. She’s lost too. But if she does come back around one day to see what we’re up to, this isn’t the Max she’s going to come running home too. She fell in love with the Max that was self-assured, that was a friend, and that cared about those around him. And you’re not him anymore. Maybe you never will be again, but maybe you can be someone better. Maybe we all can.” She softened, knowing she was getting through to him.

“If you want, you can spend the rest of your life lying in bed playing what-if games in your head. Or you can get up and take your life back. Find the Granolith, your son. And if the only way to save him is to return home, then go home. That’s why she left, Max. So you could be your own person. You need to face the consequences of your actions. She may be gone for good.”

Max’s features reflected nothing but pain. “I don’t know how to do it without her.”

“Then we’ll figure it out together. I’m not going to leave you alone. I may kick you in the ass every now and then, but I’ll be here whenever you want to talk about her and Alex. I don’t want there to be awkward silence whenever their names are brought up. We need to be a team again, you, me, Isabel, Michael, and Kyle.”

Max groaned. “He has to hate me.”

Maria nodded her head. “I think so. But if you want his help, you’ll have to prove to him that he’s wrong about you. Prove to him that you can be a friend. Kyle was hurt too, you know. He thought of her as a sister. We all were burned by Tess. But I’m not going to let her ruin anymore of our lives. Liz asked me not to.”

“Did she say that in her letter? What else did it say? Do you mind talking about it?” He had to know more about what she had been feeling.

“I don’t know. Max, she was so hurt. She just kept writing about how lonely and scared and empty she’d been without Alex. It tore her up having people think he’d killed himself. She knew how much life was in him. She wrote about how she knew if she didn’t leave she would regret it her whole life. She wants to live, to find out what normal looks like. And she wants the chance to find out if her love for you is the best kind or the kind that only kills you slowly. She said she would write to me sometime, not anytime soon, but she wouldn’t disappear completely.” Maria looked down at her feet. “If she does, I’m not going to tell you. Just like I won’t tell her how you are if I ever have the chance to write to her. You both need time apart.”

Max looked at Maria’s defeated form and realized she was right. He had been spoiled and selfish. Everyone else had been hurt and they had moved on. Somehow, he would find a way to move on, for Isabel and Michael, for Maria, for his son, for himself. Liz had believed in him the way she had believed in Alex, and he wouldn’t waste that. What was the point in her leaving if nothing good came out of it?

“Where do I begin?”

Maria looked up into Max’s eyes. There was still sadness, but a determination also swam in his depths. Had she gotten through? “I have the updated reports from the satellite feeds in the car.”

Max nodded. “Will you help me go through them?”

Maria smiled a real smile. “I would love to.” But she still had to know where they stood. “Max, are we okay? I didn’t want to be too hard on you and I’m still angry, but can we be friends?”

Max closed the distance between them and pulled Maria into a tight hug. “We will be again. I promise to work on it if you promise to kick me in the head if I get caught up in myself again.”

“Deal.” Maria broke away from him and together they set about the task of pinning down the most likely place for the Granolith.

posted on 9-Sep-2001 8:04:29 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17, but you will be warned before those post
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Okay, look, here’s the deal. I’m still not happy with how this part reads, but I’ve played with it for too long already. So, let me know what you guys think.

Finding Yourself
Part 13

Kyle stood in the middle of his living room doing a quick inventory. Potato chips? Check. Nachos and salsa? Check. Soda? Check. Remote control? Check. Satisfied, he flopped down on the couch and grabbed the closest bag of chips. The day of games was ready to begin. He had his whole day mapped out. College football games were following themselves all day until there was an endless stream of them that couldn’t have made Kyle happier. He had absolutely no reason to move. He had already disconnected the phone and had taped a sign on the door that instructed anyone who read it to go away. He picked up the remote, aiming to turn on the television when a frantic burst of knocks sounded at the door.

A shutter ran through his body at the sound. He just wouldn’t answer it. They would go away and he would get to watch his games. He waited a beat, not turning on the television yet. After a few seconds of silence, the knocking started anew.

Kyle swore, throwing the remote and dropping his chips as he rose, stalking over to the door. He pulled it open roughly and Isabel poured into the room, tears running down her perfect face.

“What’s wrong? Are you okay?” His annoyance forgotten, He pulled her into the living room.

Isabel shook him off, pacing, wringing her hands. “He’s gone, Kyle. I can’t find him and I’ve looked everywhere.”

“Slow down. Who’s gone?” Kyle was still giving her a once over. She didn’t seem hurt, but she did look hysterical.

“Max. I can’t find Max anywhere. He was sleeping in his room and I thought he’d be okay on his own for a few minutes while I watched television. When I went to check on him, he was gone. He must have left from his window. I tried to call Michael, but he didn’t answer. I’ve been all over town and I can’t figure out where he went.”

That was the big emergency? Kyle took a deep breath. No one was hurt. “Isabel, you have to calm down. I’m sure Max is fine. He probably just wanted some air. He’s probably back home already.”

“No! He’s not! He’s gone, Kyle. I just knew this was going to happen if I let him out of my sight. And I was right. Oh, god, what if he left to go find Liz? I can’t lose him to her again. She does nothing but hurt him anyway. I’m glad she left.”

“Whoa there. You don’t mean that.” Kyle felt his defenses rise. Nobody would talk about Liz like that, not even Isabel.

“Why not? Every time she crooks her finger, Max goes running and then she leaves him when things get rough. I’m tired of picking up after her.” She continued to pace, her anger at the situation rising.

“You know that’s not what happened. It destroyed her to leave for Florida last summer, and I know it destroyed her to leave town for good this time too.” Kyle had to remind himself that she was just upset over Max. She would regret saying these things later.

“What do you know about it? Just because you dated her and pretended to sleep with her doesn’t make you an expert.”

“At least I can claim to be her friend. When did you ever spend more than five minutes in her presence without criticizing her for something? She sacrificed a lot for you and Michael, and when she needs friends the most, you push her aside. She lost Alex too. How would you feel if Michael died and everyone gave Maria comfort, but ignored you?” Tired, Kyle ran a hand through his hair. “This isn’t helping anything. Why didn’t you come over and get me right away?”

She had wanted to and the pathetic need had scared her. She didn’t want to depend on someone the way Max and Michael did. She wouldn’t fall into that trap. “It was my problem to deal with, mine and Michaels. Not yours.”

“Oh, I see.” Kyle’s spine stiffened. She had reverted back to the ice queen, her voice taking on a frosty air. “I thought that when friends had problems, they leaned on each other. I guess I was wrong.”

Isabel’s temper rose at the flat tone of his voice. “Your bruised ego isn’t the problem here.”

“You’re right. You’re the problem. And I think you should leave.”

“What? I’m not going anywhere. You have to help me find Max. You have to call your dad and make him put our an APB or something.” She couldn’t believe her ears. Kyle was kicking her out? That was unacceptable.

“Why? Because you can’t find Michael to help you first? I’m not your back-up friend, Isabel. You can’t just come over because you need my dad’s help. Either you trust me to help you all the time or not at all.”

“This is crazy. Max could be in trouble. We have to go now.” She snapped at him, unable to help herself. Where were these demands coming from?

“I’m not one of your servants, princess. You can’t order me into action. And maybe Max is just fine. He’s a big boy. He knows his way home.” Kyle crossed his arms over his chest. This wasn’t going to end well.

“You’re only doing this because you’re mad at Max.”

“Damn right I’m mad at Max. I’m pissed as hell at him, but I’ve kept my distance from your delicate brother for your sake. Maybe Max needs a good kick to the head to knock some sense into him. But at the moment, I’m mad at you as well.”

“Fine, whatever. Be mad at me. I thought we were friends, that you would help me if I came over and asked for help.”

“But that’s the problem. You didn’t ask, you demanded. That’s not what friends do. But if you really want me to be a friend, then I feel obliged to tell you that you’ve been crazy lately. Ever since Liz left, you’ve treated Max like a handicapped child. You do everything but cut up his food for him. It has to stop. Max doesn’t need to be coddled. He needs to get his ass in gear and be a leader. And he can’t and won’t do that unless you back off.”

“What the hell do you know about my brother? Or any of us that that matter? Maybe you’ve forgotten, but the only reason you’re alive right now is because he saved your life.” Kyle’s words were wounding her, putting her back up. Was she really holding Max back? She couldn’t be. She was just helping.

“I haven’t forgotten a thing. But just because he healed a gunshot wound in my stomach doesn’t mean I owe him or any of you a lifetime of worship and the rights to my first born child. You know, I thought I understood why Liz left, I really did. But it turns out that I didn’t until this very moment.”

Isabel allowed the cold Ice Queen mask to slip back up to cover her features. “Then maybe you should go join Liz. You can start a ‘We Hate Aliens’ club. Maybe we could all do a Jerry Springer reunion sometime.”

He refused to take her bait. “You deserve better than being a babysitter, having to constantly worry about Max. How are you ever going to live your life?”

“I’m not going to kick my brother aside when he’s at the lowest point in his life.”

“He’s not at the lowest point in his life. If he was, he’d have no place to go but up, and he’s still sinking fast. Let him fall, Isabel. I may have issued with him, but he’s a survivor, you all had to be. I guarantee he’ll land on his feet. But you have to give him that chance.”

“You’re not going to help me, are you?” She switched tactics, batting her watery eyes at him and letting her face soften just enough.

Kyle stood his ground. He would not crumble under the teary eyes or the desperate need in her eyes. He suspected many had fallen for that act too many times before. “No.”

The softness disappeared and she was once again unreadable. She nodded briskly. “Then we don’t have anything left to say to each other. We’re not friends anymore.”

“If that’s the way you want it.”

“It’s the way it has to be. I can’t have people in my life I can’t depend on.” She turned and let long strides carry her towards the door. She resisted the urge to slam the door behind her, but just barely.

Kyle sunk back down to the couch, his afternoon’s plans no longer appealing. He knew he’d just burned his last bridge in the group of people he acknowledged as friends. There was no use looking back now. What the hell was he going to do now?

posted on 9-Sep-2001 8:05:00 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17, but you will be warned before those post
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 14

Michael pushed his way through the Deluca household into the tidy kitchen, performing a juggling act with bags of groceries. As he slammed them down on the counter, he wondered when he’d become so domesticated. Somehow, two women not ruled his life. But he truthfully didn’t want it any other way. Amy had been so great about letting him stay with Maria, he’d wanted to do something for her. So, grocery shopping had seemed easy enough. How the hell was he supposed to know what shampoo they used? He’d grabbed the list off Amy’s fridge and knew he was in over his head from the minute he’d walked into the store.

Maria had begged for some alone time that morning, pushing him out the door in a way that had left no ruffled feathers. But she’d woken up in a strange mood, having seemed more aware than he’d seen her since Alex died. He dared not hope he had his Maria back. It had killed him to watch her sit back and take the recent events without a fight. His Maria was passionate and reckless. She wasn’t a planner, but a doer, often with an impulse that drove him mad. But he’d take that infuriating girl any day over the one with the heartache in her eyes.

The groceries forgotten, Michael turned towards Maria’s room, their room these days. He didn’t know how he’d fallen asleep every night without being able to hold her in his arms, and he didn’t know how anyone could expect him to again after being allowed the pleasure. Maybe after graduation, he could convince her to move in with him. Of course, he’d make it seem like it was her idea and put up initial resistance. But in the end, it wouldn’t matter whose idea it was, because he’d be able to hold her in his arms every night. For the hundredth time, Michael sympathized with Max. He wouldn’t be able to make it if he ever lost Maria.

With a quick knock, he pushed open her door, eyes scanning the room for her. With a frown, he noted that the room was empty.

“Maria?” He called out. Where the hell was she? He crossed to her bathroom and found it just as empty. Deep in thought, it took him a moment to notice the sheet of paper propped up on her pillow. Michael snatched at it, reading it greedily.

Don’t be angry, but I’ve left. I woke up and didn’t like who I saw in the mirror. So, I’m off to kidnap Max. Don’t worry, we’re fine. And don’t let Isabel hunt us down just yet. Max and I need to work through a few things. Hopefully, we’ll be better friends for it. I love you.

Michael swore even as there was a knock at the door. Had he actually said he preferred impulsive Maria? A part of him hoped this kidnapping didn’t splinter the group even further. But somewhere deep inside, he knew that Maria was maybe the one who could get through to Max. None of them had even tried and he knew they had all taken the cowards way out.

The incessant knocking at the door made him turn towards it, swinging it open in frustration.

“Isabel? What’s wrong?” He ushered her inside quickly.

“Thank god you’re here! I’ve been trying to call you all day!”

“I was at the store. What is it?”

“Max is gone, Michael. I can’t find him anywhere. He was sleeping and when I went to check on him, he was gone. I’ve been all over town and there’s no sight of him. I don’t know what to do anymore.”

“Okay, first you need to calm down. I think I know where Max disappeared to.” He handed her Maria’s note and she read it quickly.

“Why the hell would she do something like that? We need to find them now. Who knows what she’s doing to him.”

“I would imagine she’s talking to him.” Something about Isabel’s tone of voice irked him. But he’d known her too long to take offense to her.

“You don’t understand, Michael. Max is at a difficult place right now. The last thing he needs is Maria hammering away at him.”

“First of all, you watch what you say about Maria. Second, Max isn’t the delicate flower you’re making him out to be. We’ve let him mope long enough.”

“What?” Isabel was stunned. If anyone would have taken her side, she was sure it would have been Michael. “How can you say that? God, you sound just like Kyle.”

“Well, maybe Kyle’s right. What have we got accomplished since Liz left? Nothing. Now, nothing against Liz, because I think she was right to leave town, but she is at the heart of all this. Since she left, Max has shut down.”

“Can you blame him? Look at what he’s been through this past year. What she put him through”

“Right, well look at what all of us have been through this past year. Let’s start with Liz, who found out Max was destined to be with Tess, so she gave him up. Then he pursues her only to have his future self come back in time to break them up. She pretends to sleep with Kyle, has to put up with us, and we were bastards to her, Isabel. Her reputation is ruined, her friendships at risk, and she did it anyway. Liz and Maria lost their best friend, who was murdered by one of us. And when Liz came to us, Max made everyone choose sides. I know you miss Alex, and I know Max misses Liz, but the rest of us were hurt too, Kyle and Maria most of all. And if Maria wants to get out of bed for the first time in months to go talk to Max, then I’m not going to stop her. It’s time we all started healing.”

Defeated, Isabel slumped onto the couch. That was almost identical to what Kyle had tried to tell her before. But she had ruined that friendship already, the only one she had left. “I can’t lose anyone else. I only wanted to help.”

Michael softened and knelt before her. “I know you did. But you have to stop now. We need to start looking for the Granolith again. Who knows how powerful it can be if the wrong people get a hold of it?”

“He’s absolutely right.”

Michael and Isabel looked up to find Max and Maria in the doorway. Isabel resisted the urge to run to Max and hug him tight. Maybe Michael was right. It was time for all of them to let go and move on.

Max stepped into the room, a large bundle of papers in his hands. Michael stood again and gave both of them a glance. “Everything okay here?”

Max nodded curtly. “It’s a work in progress.” He turned his head toward Maria and she smiled at him in agreement. They would be friends again someday.

“Maria and I talked and she made me realize that I’ve wasted too much time feeling sorry for myself. I can’t promise you that I’ll be a barrel of laughs, but I won’t go back to the person I have been the last few months. I owe each of you an apology for the way I’ve treated you. I know words can’t ever be enough, but I promise to be there for all of you no matter what.

Liz is gone and I can’t do anything to change that, or to make up the last year to her. But I can find my son and do everything in my power to give him a good chance at a life, whether that be here or on Antar. I don’t know what the next few months will hold, but they’ll probably be dangerous. I can’t even promise that when I find him, I’ll be able to stay on Earth. But I won’t ask any of you to come back with me. Liz was right. If she’d stayed, I wouldn’t have been able to make a choice between leaving her behind and possibly killing my son.” He looked around at the room’s occupants. “None of you have to help me. I’ll understand if I have to do this on my own, but I will do it. No matter what the cost.”

Maria nodded. “I’m in. I know I’m not much help, having no powers and all, but anything I can do, I will. It’s the least I can do for Liz.”

Max smiled at her in thanks. He didn’t deserve any support at all after all he’d put them through.

“If Maria’s in, I guess I’m automatically in too. Although, I may make you grovel for my forgiveness just for fun.” Michael grinned at Max, happy to have his old friend back again.

Max turned his gaze to Isabel. She turned sad eyes on him. “I owe you an apology too. I’ve been hovering, not letting you do what you needed to do. I was just so afraid of losing you too, I couldn’t stand it. Forgive me?”

Max leaned down to pull his sister into his arms. “You don’t have anything to apologize for. I love you, sis. And I may not have made it through those first few nights without you. So, no more crying, and no more apologizing, unless I’m the one doing it. We should call Kyle. Maria and I have been going over some of the more recent reports on the Granolith search.”

“Kyle isn’t interested.” Isabel spoke up quickly. “I talked to him already. He isn’t going to be coming to any more group meetings, or help us at all. He’s not on our side anymore.”

Max looked at Isabel in confusion. He thought the two of them had become friends. He would have to pull out what had happened, but not just yet. Some things were better left to sit for a few days and discussed with cool heads. “Okay, then let’s get down to business.” He started pulling out charts and satellite feeds, laying them out flat on the coffee table. “I think we need to do a bit more research first, but I think I have the location pinned down roughly.”

posted on 9-Sep-2001 8:05:29 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17, but you will be warned before those post
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 15

The front door burst open and Jim Valenti rushed through, dropping his things at the door to make a beeline for the living room.

“Okay, who’s winning, Kyle?” He called out as he removed his Stetson from his head and stepped into the living room. He stopped short at the sight of his son sitting stoicly on the sofa. “Kyle? What’s wrong? Did they cancel the game?”

“No, I mean I guess not. I never turned it on.” Kyle ran his fingers through his hair. “What time is it?” But he really didn’t care.

Jim examined his son carefully. Kyle wasn’t watching the game? There was trouble here somewhere. “Are you okay?”

Kyle’s gaze remained riveted to the floor. “Did you ever want to leave Roswell, Dad? And give me a real answer, not a parent answer.”

Jim took a seat, getting comfortable. He had an idea where this was going and he wanted to feed his son a lie. But they had taken an oath after Kyle had discovered the truth to always be honest with each other no matter how hard it was. “Yeah, there was a time when all I wanted was to get the hell out of this town and never look back.” Jim sighed at the memory, the longing to flee his hometown. “But you have to remember that your grandpa was Sheriff back then. He’d spent his every waking moment searching for the truth about aliens. He was as obsessed as I was two years ago with Max Evans. But you have to remember that everyone thought Dad was as crazy as a loon. I didn’t have many friends and most of the kids considered it a kind of sport to pick on me. So, yeah, I was ready to forget this town ever existed.”

Kyle had raised his head to watch his father’s features. He’d never heard this story before. “What happened? Why didn’t you travel, see the world like you wanted to?”

Jim nodded. “I was planning to. I guess I was about your age, maybe a bit younger, but I’d been saving every penny, waiting until the day I had the courage to do it. But the old man found out about it somehow, and we had the fight of all fights. I stormed out of the house, waited until I thought he’d be asleep so I could sneak back in and get my things.” Jim paused, lost in the memories of that night. “When I got back to the house, it was lit up with squad cars. He’d had a stroke after I’d left. I knew then it was my fault just like I still know it today. I’d said terrible things to him, about him. Things were never the same after that. We just couldn’t forgive each other.”

Kyle looked at his father in a new light. He’d always known there was a rift between them, but had never suspected how old the scars were. “So, that was it? You stayed?”

“Yes and no. I told myself I’d stay for a year, finish school, keep an eye on the old man. It wasn’t long after that I met your mother. She transferred into town and she changed my whole world. We eloped the day after graduation. She loved this town.” Jim smiled at the memory of how her eyes would light up when she was excited. He still saw so much of her in Kyle. “Dad had another stroke and had to retire soon after. Your mom persuaded me to join the sherrif’s office, work my way up the ranks. She knew I’d always wanted to, but never could while Dad was Sheriff. She said this town was meant to be run by the Valenti men.”

Kyle sat in silence a minute, missing his mother like never before. She’d been dead ten years now, but the Valenti men hadn’t forgotten how warm her presence or how bright her smile.

“You want to find Liz, don’t you?”

“It’s not like that, Dad.” Kyle was quick to reassure him, but wasn’t that exactly what this was about?

“It’s okay, Kyle. I was waiting for you to come to me about this. Actually, I thought you’d have come to me a week after Liz left. You have too much of your mother’s heart in you to let a friend disappear like that.”

Kyle took a deep breath. “It’s more than that. Yes, I want to find her, but I think I want to join her too.” Kyle observed his father’s blank expression and knew he’d gone into interrogation mode. He wouldn’t give anything away.

“You want to find Liz and live with her? Leave Roswell for good?”

“Yes.” Just stick to the answer. Don’t elaborate and don’t squirm under that tense stare. Was it getting warm in there? With a swear, Kyle continued on. He never have been able to beat his father in a match of wills. “It won’t be so bad really. I was planning to leave home in a six months anyway for college. And I can just enroll in High School wherever Liz is.” He paused, not knowing if he was getting through or not. “Dad, I have this feeling that she needs me, needs a friend. And I need to get out of this town.”

“I’m sure she’s made new friends where she is.”

“But how can she talk about what’s really bothering her with people that don’t know the big secret? And if she can’t talk it through, how’s she ever going to work it out and be okay? You do care about her, don’t you?”

“Of course I care about her, Kyle.” Jim struggled to keep his calm. “But I care about you more. How are you planning to live? Paying rent and utilities are expensive. And when will you study?”

“I don’t even study now. Okay, bad joke. But I thought about the money. I still have the trust fund Grandma left me. I know it’s supposed to be for college, but I’ve been offered full scholarships at a dozen schools and I can take any one of them and still have some of the trust fund money to rely on. I’m not gonna go crazy, Dad. And I’m not going to run away in the middle of the night either. And as for studying, I’ll be with Liz. Remember her? Valedictorian? You think she’ll let me get away with not studying?”

Jim felt the weight of his many years. His son was grown up. When the hell had that happened? And how could he try to keep him here when he could see the desire burning in his eyes? “Are you only going for Liz?”

“No. I’d like to say I’m being completely noble and selfless, but I want out too. This past year was too much, with Tess lying to our faces. I actually saw her kill Alex, I helped load his body in our car. Starting over where no body knows you sound slike the best idea I’ve ever heard. Liz just thought of it first.”

“What about your friends here, Kyle? You don’t want to graduate with them?”

“What friends? In case you haven’t noticed, I don’t have any besides the ‘I know an alien’ club. And they don’t really like me. They put up with me because I might come in handy, and so they’re closer to you.”

“What about Isabel? I thought you two were getting close.”

“Not anymore.” He still couldn’t think about Isabel. He’d really thought he’d found a kindred spirit in her. And maybe their paths would cross again someday, but he knew she wouldn’t want to see him for a while. And with her went his last friend in this town.

Jim ran a hand through his closely cropped hair. “This is crazy. You know that, right? You’re still in High School. You’re not even 18 yet.”

“Two weeks, Dad, and I’ll be 18. Besides, it’s just another day on the calendar to me. If I haven’t learned it yet, the odds are I’m not going to get any big life lessons in the next 2 weeks either.”

Jim cupped a hand on Kyle’s shoulder. “You’ve grown up so fast. I’m sorry for that. You’ve learned lessons no one should have to know.”

“That’s not your fault, Dad. I don’t want to fight with you and I don’t want a rift like you and Grandpa have, but I feel like I have to do this. I’m the only one that can go help her anyway. It took me awhile to figure out why Liz didn’t say goodbye to Maria, why she hasn’t even written her yet. If Liz had told Maria she wanted to leave town by herself, Maria wouldn’t have wanted to let her leave alone, and she would have had to decide between her best friend and the man she loves. Liz knew that and never gave Maria the chance to be noble. Liz has always been there for every one else. Maybe together we can make sense of things, figure out who we want to be when we grow up.”

“How are you even going to find her? She could be anywhere by now.”

Kyle saw through his father’s bluff with a grin. “See, I was thinking you could just tell me where she was and save me the trouble of going through all the same legwork you already did to find her.”

“What makes you think I know where Liz is?”

“C’mon, Dad. This is me you’re talking to. The only reason I didn’t run off and find Liz to make sure she was safe was because I knew you’d already done it. You would never have let her disappear. In fact, I’d be willing to bet you’ve already talked to the local police and have them driving by her apartment to check up on her.”

“Only for the first few weeks she was gone. Damn it, what was I supposed to do? Let her disappear without a trace? What if something happened to one of you or her parents? What if someone had followed her?”

Kyle grinned at his father,, the softie. “I knew she was in good hands. So, how is she doing? I know you went to see her a few weeks ago, so don’t bother hiding it.”

Jim let out a short laugh. “My son, the detective.”

“I’m a Sheriff’s son. You can’t put anything past our kind.”

“You’re damn right they can’t.” He was ridiculously proud his son had figured him out so well. He would make a fine Sheriff himself one day. If he chose it, of course. He had sworn years ago to Lily that he wouldn’t push Kyle into his profession. “Yeah, I went to see her. She’s in a small town in Arizona, Flat Creek. She had all of her transcripts moved there. She has a small apartment, a step above a roach motel. She never saw me, but she seemed settled. I watched her take pictures of a group of kids in the park.”

“So, she’s okay.” Kyle couldn’t explain why that made him ridiculous happy and relieved.

“Kyle, she may not want to see you, or anyone from Roswell.”

“Or maybe she needs one of us and is afraid to call.”

“You’ve made up your mind, haven’t you?”

Kyle nodded. “I have to do this. I have to leave. But I need you to understand and support me on this.”

Jim forced himself to meet Kyle’s eyes, the eyes of a man. He had raised him well, and he was ready to leave the nest. He was so much like himself at that age, Jim had to grin. How could he deny his son this one request when he knew how burning that desire was? He could say no, keep Kyle in Roswell just as he’d had to stay. And they just might end up regretting it. With a terrible pain in his heart, he made his decision. “If you do this, there are two conditions.” He saw the eagerness leap into his son’s eyes and knew he was making the right choice. Sometimes, you simply had to trust and let go.

“Condition one, wherever you go, be it alone or with Liz, I want to know. I’m talking common sense stuff. If you move, tell me before I call a disconnected number. I want to be able to get in touch with both you and Liz if I need to. You can tell her she has my word that I won’t tell a soul where she is unless she tells me to. Second, if either of you ever get into any kind of trouble, human or alien, I want you to call me. Can you live with those terms?”

Kyle nodded vigorously. He had no fears about leaving this town behind, no trepidations. The only thing he was leaving behind was his father. But he knew they would never lose touch. He was really going to do this. An excitement built up within him at the thought. There was so much he wanted to see and do. Would Liz be willing to join him? He hoped so. He had a feeling she would make an excellent traveling companion and he couldn’t wait to start. “When?”

Jim had hoped to be able to talk him into staying until his birthday, but he looked ready to pack his bags now. “Give me a week to get all the paperwork together and get you enrolled in the High School. If you can get everything squared away at school and with your trust fund, we can plan on next weekend.”

“Thanks, Dad.” Kyle pulled his father into hug and didn’t even mind when he clung to him a minute longer than usual. “You could have said no or made it hard for me.”

“What would that have gotten me? I like it better this way. Now, c’mon, let’s figure out when you’re bringing with you. I think your room would make a great pool room.”

posted on 9-Sep-2001 8:06:00 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17, but you will be warned before those post
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 16

Kyle managed to make it through the remainder of the weekend and a whole day and a half of school uneventfully. He had successfully been able to fill out all the paperwork necessary to transfer and had been wished well by al of his teachers as they signed their names to the documents that would grant him freedom.

His coaches had been a bit more difficult, as he was a star player on each team and he was leaving his football team in the middle of the season. He was also leaving vacant spots on the basketball and wrestling teams. Understandably, they were upset. But in the end, there was really nothing they could do. And they had written him glowing letters of recommendations for transfer onto another team.

And with each pen stroke, Kyle’s soul felt clearer. Everything had been taken care of. All that remained now was to face the people he had once thought of as friends, people that had gone out of their way to close ranks and exclude him from whatever it was they were plotting. He hoped for all their sakes that they were finally forming as a group again. And to be fair, he had gone out of his way to avoid them too. He hadn’t approached them and he had purposely spent his lunches in the busy quad, knowing they preferred the solitude of the bleachers to meet and plan.

But as the lunch bell rang and he headed for his usual spot, he cursed his luck. The entire gang was gathered in a deserted hallway, blocking his safe retreat. In a cowardly way, he hoped they continued to ignore him for the remainder of the week. Swearing at himself as to how crazy he sounded, he continued onward. Why was he afraid of them? Certainly not because he still cared about them. It had to be some other reason he couldn’t pinpoint.

Maria saw his path and broke away from her conversation with Michael. She’d been trying to find Kyle since Monday morning, but he’d been elusive. Isabel had told them they’d had a falling out and had asked not to include him in their meetings until she’d had a chance to apologize, but the rumors flying around were too insane to ignore. She met Kyle halfway, nervous though she couldn’t place why. Isabel began filing her nails, miffed that Kyle hadn’t tried to seek her out yet. How was she supposed to apologize if he was avoiding her? Max and Michael looked on with curiosity. They too had heard rumors around school.

“Hey, Kyle. I’m glad I found you. You wouldn’t believe the wild rumors flying around school. Pam Troy was saying you got in a fight with Coach Larson and he kicked you off the football team. But I know that’s crazy because you’re our only chance to beat the Devils in the big game next week. I told her so myself.”

Kyle smiled at Maria. Why had he been avoiding her? If he could count on no one else in Roswell, he could count on Maria, and by extension Michael he supposed. It was good to know who your lifelong friends were.

“That’s the best one I’ve heard so far. But it’s completely not true.” He watched her flash Michael an ‘I told you so’ smile, and he hated doing this to her. “Actually, I quit.”

Her eyes bulged. “You what? That’s crazy. Why would you quit right before the biggest game of the year? Go talk to Coach. He’ll understand. Just tell him you were on drugs and you were out of your mind.”

Despite the situation, Kyle’s grin widened. Had he thought he wouldn’t miss anyone? “Maria, it’s okay. There’s actually something I need to tell you. I’m leaving Roswell.”

Silence hung in the deserted hallway. “What?” Maria’s face was contorted by a mix of heartache and confusion. “You can’t leave Roswell. You belong here. And the Sheriff, what’s my mom supposed to do when he just picks up and leaves her?” Maria might not like the thought of them dating, but breaking her mother’s heart was out of the question.

“Dad’s staying here. I’m going by myself.”

“You’re going to find Liz, aren’t you?” Max spoke directly to Kyle for the first time in weeks.

“I already know where Liz is, but yes, that’s where I’m going.” Kyle forced himself to meet Max’s eyes, knowing he would find pain there. And frankly, it was getting old. He wasn’t the only one who had been hurt. When they met, Kyle found that Max’s eyes were still tortured, but not out of control anymore. Maybe they would be able to fix things here after all. But Kyle wouldn’t be around to see it. “Don’t worry, Dad will still be here to help you out.”

“To hell with your father, what about you? And Liz? How do you know she’ll even want to see you? What will you do then?” Isabel didn’t care that she wasn’t supposed to be talking to Kyle. He was leaving them too.

“That’s a chance I’m going to have to take. But I need out of here too.”

“When?” Maria wasn’t sure why she felt like she was going to cry again. She should be happy. Liz wasn’t going to be alone anymore. And no matter how stubborn her best friend was, Maria knew that Liz needed someone to talk to.

“Saturday. Look, let’s not make a big deal out of this. I’m not running away or anything. Dad will know where I am. And nothing will change for any of you. You don’t need me, you never did. You only put up with me because of Dad and because Tess used to drag me around everywhere. This really isn’t a big deal. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have things to finish up before I have to leave.” He pushed past them while he still could. Maybe he was leaving more behind than he’d convinced himself of.

The remainder of the day hadn’t gone much better. Somehow, word had leaked out that Kyle was transferring out of town and each class was filled with the well wishes of people he’d never talked to before. The sudden popularity surprised even him. He’d grown accustomed to popularity that stemmed from his sports abilities. But even this had become ridiculous.

He nearly bolted from class when the final bell rang, sprinting for the safety of his car. He was supposed to meet his father at the Crashdown for dinner and then he was free to spend another night packing, sifting through eighteen years of memories. He drove the short distance to the Crashdown and claimed a booth. He idly flipped through a menu as he waited for his father. He was probably still caught up in the burglary case. There wasn’t much real crime in Roswell, but when there was, Jim Valenti liked to sink his teeth into it.

A shadow fell across the table, and Kyle automatically flashed a smile, expecting his father to offer an apology for being late. Instead, he found himself looking up at the Parkers. Why the hell hadn't he thought about that?

“Mr. and Mrs. Parker, hi. I’m just waiting for my dad before we order.” Way to go, Valenti. He chided himself for sounding so lame. Why would they both come over to his table to take his order?

Nancy was wringing her hands, her eyes darting about nervously. “Kyle, we heard you were leaving town. Is that true?”

Kyle sighed and nodded. “Yes.”

“Are you-do you know-“ Jeff couldn’t figure out the best way to begin his sentence.

“Yes, I know where Liz is and I’m going to see her.” He took pity on the Parkers. They only wanted to know that their daughter was okay. “Look, I shouldn’t tell you this, but Dad has been checking up on her. He says she’s fine, safe. I just need to get out of this town too. I figured she could use a familiar face.”

Jeff nodded his head, having figured as much. “We know you won’t tell us where she is, but you’ll have to forgive us for asking. We lost our baby girl and we just want to hear her voice tell us she’s safe.”

Nancy pulled a creased envelope from her pocket and extended it towards Kyle. “Can you give this to her for us? At least she’ll know we’re not angry, that we miss her and love her and want her to come home.” She and Jeff had talked this through a hundred times. They could find her they knew. But she had specifically asked them not to, to give her the time she needed. And while they knew they had raised a strong and capable daughter, her heart was bleeding. And for the first time, they were powerless to help her. They also knew their daughter well enough to know she was stubborn and headstrong. And if they pushed her, she would run far away this time, and it might be years before they heard from her again, if ever. So, they had decided to wait her out, see what happened. But when news that Kyle Valenti was leaving town alone, they knew he would be going to find their daughter, and they had revised their plan.

Kyle nodded and took the envelope, not sure what to say.

Nancy pressed a hand to her mouth and fled the room, afraid she would do or say something that might cost her her daughter for good.

Jim came through the door in time to catch Nancy’s hasty departure. “She holding up okay?”

“Not really. Each day seems harder than the last. Look, Jim, I wanted to thank you for your help so far. Nancy and I knew you’ve gone above and beyond to keep an eye on Liz. It’s the only thing that’s kept us sane so far, knowing at least that she’s okay. And I just wanted to make sure you know what that means to us.”

Uncomfortable, Jim nodded. “Just doing my job.”

“No, you’re not, but thank you anyway. You’re always welcome here, and your money’s no good, both of you. Just so you know.” Jeff threw a last glance at Kyle. “Take care of her, and please ask her to call us.” Then he was gone, after his wife.

“I wish I knew I could have free food before I decided to leave town.” Kyle attempted humor, but it fell flat. The emotion weight of the letter he held was overpowering. He wondered how many times Mrs. Parker had folded and refolded the letter she had no doubt painstakingly written. Not wanting to think about it, he stuffed it in his pocket, turned to face his father. “Burglary case?”

Excitement jumped into Jim’s eyes. “You wouldn’t believe what they took. Oh, before I forget, keep Friday night open. I thought we could at least celebrate your birthday then.”

“Friday night. Got it.”

“Okay, so you know how the Phillips’ collect bird houses? You don’t know the half of it.”

Kyle sat back with a grin, enjoying the sound of his father’s voice for the little time he had left to hear it.

posted on 9-Sep-2001 8:09:02 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17, but you will be warned before those post
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 17

Saturday rolled around quicker than Kyle expected it to. His last week as a Roswell High student was over and done. He had survived the longest week of his life. He had survived the goodbye party they had thrown for him at school with a thousand of his supposedly closest friends. But he hadn’t been happy t see any of them except Maria and strangely Michael. He’d never really thought about the most difficult of the aliens, but the guy always told you what was on his mind. He didn’t lie unless you counted the few times he’d tried to push Maria away. And that had become the most important character trait he looked for in his friends.

He thought back to the conversation he’d had with Michael last night. He’d been pulled aside and wished good luck. To say Kyle had been surprised would be an understatement. He’d explained that Liz and Maria were sisters and Liz being gone was killing Maria. Michael was glad Kyle was going so Liz would have someone to watch her back and stop her from doing self-sacrificing acts of nobility. He’d said that if either of them ever needed anything, to call him. He’d come running no matte what, and without a word to anyone if necessary.

Kyle had thanked him for that, grateful to know he still had friends in this town. But then Michael had said something bizarre.

“He’s jealous of you, you know. That you have the freedom to pick up and go. That you know where she is and you can go to her and probably be accepted back into her life. And you’re completely human. In his eyes, she should be with you and not him.”

Kyle had shrugged it off, but Michael had remained insistent. “He’s not that bad of a guy. He’s just made some whopper mistakes, bad judgements of character. And he’ll pay for them for a long time coming. It’s kind of like when you thought we were all evil and out to get you, before you found out the truth when you were hunting us down like your father. We let you live and you turned out to be halfway decent.”

Michael had flashed him what almost could have been a grin. He had been kidding, he was pretty sure. At least he hoped so. You never could tell somedays.

He’d even been given a double surprise that night to arrive home and find a surprise birthday party waiting for him. His father, Amy and Maria had been on hand with a homemade cake, a happy birthday banner and a handful of presents. It had been nothing spectacular, but it had been one of the best memories he’d created in a long time.

But now it was Saturday morning. He was packed and ready to go and was only waiting for his father to return from the quick emergency at work he’d been called in on this morning. Kyle was all but bouncing with nervous energy. He was leaving Roswell behind today. He was off to find bigger and better things. It was nothing but open sky and uncharted paths ahead for him now.

Even when the doorbell rang, he was determined not to let his visitor spoil his good mood. But when the door opened to reveal Max Evans on his doorstep, he felt his cheerful disposition slip away.

“Evans, what can I do for you?”

Max acknowledged the barely contained anger he saw in Kyle’s eyes, knowing it had probably been there for month, but he’d been too blind to see. “Can I come in for a minute?”

Kyle opened the door wide, turning to retreat into the living room. Kyle remained on his feet, arms crossed over his chest and a hard look on his face.

Max recognized the stance from the many times the Sheriff had tried to intimidate him. He wondered if father and son knew how much they were alike.

“I’m here to apologize to you for every look, every word I ever said against you. You’ve been a friend all along, and I never knew. And I wanted to thank you for being there for Liz when I was too wrapped up in myself to be there. I just wanted you to know that before you left. Truth is, she should have stayed with you after she was shot. I’ve only brought her heartache.” The words almost lodged in his throat. The pain was too much to bear. Kyle Valenti was leaving Roswell to go after Liz and there was nothing he could do about it. He wanted to be the one she turned to. But she had tried, and he hadn’t been there for her. Now, it was time she turned to someone else.

“You’re right.” He swore at the look on Max’s face. What had he expected him to say? “Look, Evans, I know you’re used to having everyone tell you it’s not your fault and you’re being too hard on yourself. But I don’t think you’ve been hard enough. When Liz met you, she was a sweet, naïve, young girl with dreams and aspirations. She used to go on and on about them when we dated. Now, I may not have understood her, and I’m not saying Liz and I were meant to be together, but from the minute you healed her, she had stars in her eyes for you. And no matter what I said or did, I couldn’t get her to see that you were no good.

Since then, she has lied for you, put herself, her friends, and her family in danger. She has broken the law. And what does she get in return? The knowledge that no matter how much she loves you or what she does for you, your life, your destiny will always be linked to a murdering bitch that killed her best friend. So, if you’ve come here to ask me to tell Liz to come home, you’ve come to the wrong place.”

Max shook his head. He knew he had treated Liz like dirt and had taken advantage of her heart, but no one was going to cheapen the good times they had shared. “I know I corrupted Liz, but you don’t know a damn thing about what our relationship was like. Just being in the same room with her charged the air. I could feel her presence when she turned a corner and entered the same hall I was standing in. There was a time I saw into her soul and cherished what I found. I may have taken that for granted, but if I ever get the chance again, I swear it’ll be different.” He knew he was being wishy washy. When he came over here, he thought he knew what he was planning to say. He was going to try to let Liz go, to tell Kyle to let her know, but now he found that he couldn’t do it. He would always love her and would work everyday to become a better man using the lessons she had taught him.

“Why are you telling me this? What happened to the ‘I don’t deserve her’ speech you started out with?”

“I guess I changed my mind. She was right to leave. Both of us need time apart. But there was a time when I put her safety, her happiness over everything else. I’m telling you this because she’s going to look to you for an opinion and it might make or break our relationship.”

“You might have put her safety first the day you saved her life, but never did you put her happiness first. You let what everyone else thought turn you away and keep your distance.”

Max’s eyes hardened. “Who told you that?”

“Nobody had to. I had eyes.”

“Then I’ll tell you how it was. The reason I pushed her away was because I was scared, not because of Michael and Isabel. They harped on me for months, but I still went to Liz everyday. She made me feel things I’d never known were possible. Every power I had was amplified with her near me. Just touching her completed my soul and for the first time in either life, I felt complete. I might not be worthy of Elise’s love, but she chose me. Regardless of the rocky path and what it cost her.” Max was livid. How had he thought he could give up his other half? He would fight for her the way he had last time.

“What did you call her? Who’s Elise?” Kyle looked at Max strangely, his anger replaced by curiosity. “Is there someone else besides Tess you were involved with back home?” This guy was unbelievable. Not only did he have a wife, but he had a mistress too.

Max frowned. What had he been talking about? For a minute, he’d caught a flash of a girl, her giddy laugh and the warmth it brought to his heart. Could that possibly be a flash of someone on Antar? Had he left someone behind? He shoved the thought to the back of his mind. It was just one more puzzle.

“I think I should go.” He headed for the door solemnly. “If she asks, if she ever wants to know, tell her I miss her and no matter where I go, I’ll love her until the day I die.” Then he was out the door and Kyle was alone.

Confused and more that a bit worried, he tried to forget about Max. But there was something about his eyes when he’d been ranting. They had taken on a faint glow and he’d been sure Max was speaking not about Liz, but another girl in another lifetime. The big question was whether she’d pop up somewhere unexpected and pull the woman scorned routine and turn their lives upside down like Tess had. And what would this news do to Liz? He decided he simply wouldn’t tell her. Of course, if she point blank asked if he knew whether or not Max had a mistress on Antar, he would tell her the truth. But until that day came, he would keep that bit of information to himself.

posted on 9-Sep-2001 8:09:48 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17, but you will be warned before those post
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 18

Kyle had it all figured out by Monday morning. After the long drive Saturday, he had checked himself into the Waverly, a lovely rat trap of a motel that rented room weekly. It hadn’t taken him long to unpack, so he’d decided to hit the town, see some nightlife. And it took him no more than twenty minutes to discover that there was none. He had moved from a small town to another small town.

But he hadn’t let it discourage him. He found the local equivalent of the Crashdown, and had managed to make a few friends for school. And a very lovely redhead had been kind enough to show him the town highlights Sunday.

So, as he entered the hallowed halls of the local high school, a thrill raced through his body. Nobody here knew what he was like. He didn’t have to be the Sheriff’s son. He didn’t have to be Kyle, the Jock. He had a freedom here he could never know in Roswell, and he was going to enjoy every minute of it.

He found the front office without incident and patiently filled out paperwork, listening as the guidance counselor droned on about how much he was going to like the school. Idly, he wondered if she would turn out to be evil like his last guidance counselor, unconsciously cataloging her personality traits for future use. Then he caught what he was doing and smiled at his own thoughts. Yes, a break from Roswell was definitely what he needed.

Armed with a map and a class schedule, he found his first three classes and allowed each teacher to embarrass him by singling him out as a new student and introducing him. As if a town this small hadn’t figured out he was new. But he had played the part of the new kid, waving at the group, making small talk about aliens, graciously accepting offers to give him private lessons to catch up in class and be shown the town. By lunch, he had six dates set up. Oh yeah, this town had been a good move.

But as he progressed throughout the day, he had been searching for any sign of Liz. He hadn’t figured on having any classes with her since she had always been in more advanced classes, but he’d hoped to see her at lunch or at least in the halls. He had avoided asking anyone if they knew Liz, but just barely. He was dying to see her, how she was holding up.

Kyle had the whole scenario all but mapped out in his head. She would be angry at him for following her, thinking they didn’t trust her to be okay on her own. He knew enough about women in general and Liz in particular to count on that. Rather than try to force himself into her world, he would ignore her, let her be until she sought him out. She would know he was in town if she needed him, and that was enough.

So, as he entered his last class of the day, he gave up the hop of bumping into Liz accidentally. He would have to work out an accidental meeting somehow. He entered his art class and looked around in surprise. Two dozen easels were set up with empty canvases. Kyle swore. He had to actually paint in this class? At least it proved his theory that all guidance counselors were evil. He threw his bad beside the closest easel and took a seat on the wooden barstool. This was guaranteed to be pure hell.

He moped as the class filled up quickly. Of course, he didn’t recognize a single soul, and the seat next to him remained empty. An older man who obviously was the teacher entered the class and gently placed his art supplies near the front of the room. He clapped to get their attention, though it wasn’t necessary.

“Hello, my happy people! I trust you all had creative days today.”

There were collective groans and Kyle took solace in the fact that they all thought him to be as annoyingly chipper as he did.

“So, I’ve been told we have a new student in our midst.”

The door was flung open wide and the teacher flashed a fatherly smile at the late -comer.

“Great! You made it today! I can’t wait to see what sort of expressive things you’ll help us create today. Now, please grab a seat while I finish introducing our new student.”

Kyle struggled to see around the door. There was only one open seat left in the class and this person would be his partner. He made a quick wish for a sultry redhead, then the room stood still for a minute as Liz Parker came into view.

She was smiling at the teacher, looking around to find an open seat. Her dark hair had been cut to just brush her shoulders, and it made her look older. Or maybe that was the way she held herself now.

Liz scanned the room, a vague flutter of annoyance still haunting her. When was Josh going to learn that no matter how charming he tried to be, she wasn’t going to go out with him? Men could just be so smug. She was tired of the whole lot of them. Her eyes lighted on an empty seat to her left and when she saw the seat beside it already filled, she blinked hard, sure she was hallucinating. Kyle Valenti was sitting at an easel with a cocky grin on his face.

The teacher clapped his hands again as Liz found herself glued to the floor, staring at Kyle.

“Okay, as I was saying, we have a new student at James S. Marsters High School. And we all have the privilege of knowing him. Hello, Kyle and thank you for sharing your creative energy with us. You can call me Chris.”

“Not a problem.” Kyle gave a little wave to the rest of the room, ignoring Liz as she fumed silently from the doorway.

“Elizabeth,” Chris called out to her, oblivious to the mounting tension. “There is an empty seat near Kyle. Perhaps you can catch him up to speed for us.”

Having snapped out of the shock of seeing Kyle, Liz glared at him through slitted eyes. She took the empty chair, opening her mouth to no doubt yell at him. But Kyle was saved by their overly enthusiastic teacher.

“Okay, today we’re going to do something new and exciting. We’re going to learn to work in pairs. I’ve already taken the liberty of pairing off the room, so you are all sitting with your partners.”

Liz seethed inside as she half listened to Chris drone on about how the assignment was supposed to work. He had some nerve following her here. Hadn’t she specifically asked everyone to leave her alone for awhile? She didn’t need anyone checking up on her. She could take care of herself just fine. Did they think she was going to fall apart on her own? Or maybe crumble at the first sight of an old friend and go running back to Roswell? And why the hell would they send Kyle of all people?

It was another twenty minutes of frustration until Liz finally had a chance to face Kyle. They were supposed to be taking turns painting the same canvas, their subject a large bowl of grapes. Chris had been over a half dozen times already to check on the new student, and Kyle had insisted on engrossing him in conversation every time. Now, Liz noticed that he was preoccupied with a group in the front of the class and she pounced on Kyle.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” she hissed.

Kyle sighed as he attempted to paint the bowl of grapes. “I know it’s not the best painting in the world, but it’s not that bad. I think it might be the shading.” He studied the god-awful canvas a minute, pretending to be engrossed in his work.

“You know what I mean. What are you doing in Flat Creek?”

“Trying to get a good education. But I really think my guidance counselor is evil. And here I thought that was just a Roswell thing.”

“I don’t need you here to baby-sit me,” she stated between clenched teeth.\

“Nobody ever said you did. It’s not like I sought you out at all. Art class was the last place I expected to see you. You’re actually even worse at this than I am.”

“Then why did you come?” His whole demeanor was rubbing her wrong.

“To get the hell out of Roswell. You of all people should understand that. Do you think this needs more red?”

“I do-“ Liz stopped, snatching the paintbrush from Kyle’s hand to get his full attention. “I do understand. But why did you track me down and follow me here? You could have gone to a thousand other cities.”

Kyle calmly picked up another brush and coated it with red, returning to his masterpiece. “I figured if this place was good enough for you, then it would be good enough for me.”

“Kyle, I want you to leave. I don’t want you here.”

“Sorry, I already filled out my transfer papers. I’m not going through all that again for anything. Look, while we have a minute, there’s something I need to talk to you about.”

Liz’s face turned stony with her resolve. “I’m not going back.”

“Who said anything about going back? I was going to ask you to stay away from me. I mean, when people put two and two together and find out we’re from the same town and then we start hanging out all the time, they’re going to think we’re dating again. And, well, I’ve already been there and done that.” Kyle had to stifle the grin that wanted to spread. Liz’s face was priceless. “So, I think we’ll both have far better social lives if we can start completely from scratch. I know you understand. So, when we go seeing each other in the halls, just pretend you don’t know me. But I guess if you do ever need me, I’m at the Waverly. Just make sure you call first. It’s my first time having a place of my own, if you know what I mean.”

Liz stared at Kyle with her mouth all but hanging open. Was he for real? The bell sounded and Chris called out to the class.

“Just leave your masterpieces where they are and I’ll see you all tomorrow. Have a creative day!”

“See ya!” Kyle picked up his bag and bolted through the door.

Liz sat in her seat while the class piled out slowly. What had just happened? Was Kyle being serious? No. He had to be tricking her in some way. This was some strange ploy to get her to go back to Roswell. It was a good tactic sending Kyle to confuse her. But it wouldn’t work. He had caught her off guard today, but tomorrow would be different. Kyle Valenti hadn’t met the new Liz Parker yet. She was a mean, take charge, non-doormat. And it was time the Roswell gang learned that.

posted on 9-Sep-2001 8:10:19 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17, but you will be warned before those post
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 19

Liz frantically pawed through her small apartment as the sun peeked over the horizon. She knew her hair clip was here somewhere. Stumbling around the living room, she pulled couch cushions out of place in the search. She wouldn’t have lost it if she hadn’t been so preoccupied with Kyle showing up out of the blue yesterday.

The room around her didn’t consist of much, just a small couch big enough for two and a ten inch television. A small bed and a single bedside table sat off to the corner of the loft apartment. And these items received the same brutal treatment as the couch in Liz’s frantic search. She was going to be late for school if she didn’t hurry. Crawling under the bed, she produced the silver clip with a small cry of triumph.

The walk to the bathroom mirror was short, but she attached her mother’s clip and studied her reflection. She was no longer the broken girl that had arrived in the middle of the night with no place to go. She was strong now, independent. She didn’t need anybody. Really. So what if her dreams had been nothing but memories of her time in Roswell? Surely, seeing Kyle had brought it on, but that had to be their plan.

She could never to back to the way things were. Alex was dead and everything else good had died with him. What did it matter if she still thought about Max a dozen times a day? That she wanted to call him and see how things were going in the search for his son? Maybe she had been right all along when she said that she wasn’t his destiny, that they belonged apart. But first and foremost, he had been her friend. A million years ago, they had trusted each other in everything. And while she didn’t regret leaving, she did feel like a coward for the way it was handled.

As always, she wondered how her parents were. Had they been shocked when they had arrived to wake her up for school to find an empty bed and a note? Had they been angry at her hasty departure? They had to be confused, blaming Alex’s death for her breakdown. But they had respected her wishes, and she had to wonder at the restraint it had taken them to do that. She had actually looked over her shoulder continuously the first week, expecting someone to grab her and take her home. Home. She had felt that way about Roswell, New Mexico once. And she probably would until the day she died. But she couldn’t go back yet. Not until she knew who she was destined to be.

Liz grabbed her bookbag and headed out the door and down the street for the half mile walk to the school. But try as she might, she couldn’t shake the memories of her past today. People here knew her as an enigma. They knew she transferred from Roswell, but nothing more. Not even her closest friend, Mel, knew any of the details of her life. How could she tell the story without awkward pauses and half truths? She thought it fairer to her friend to keep the memories locked tight in her heart. She had shed no tears since her bus ride out of Roswell and she intended to keep it that way.

Increasing her stride after a quick glance at her watch, Liz let herself worry about Maria. She really did miss her best friend, but didn’t know where they stood now. She had asked Maria to take over her role in the group as the voice of logic. It was an odd choice, but she knew Maria would do it for her. She could be a pillar of strength when she needed to be. And she wasn’t afraid to tell people when they were out of line or not carrying their own weight.

Even after her irrational anger at Maria asking her not to leave town, Liz still considered Maria Deluca to be her best friend. There were some bonds that could never be broken, not with harsh words or quiet breaks. She knew that her sudden departure had hurt her, but at least she had Michael to comfort her. Liz understood Michael better now through Maria’s stories and knew he could be trusted with Maria’s heart.

Overcome by a sadness she hadn’t felt in months, Liz let down her guard. She really did miss Roswell and it’s half-crazed inhabitants. She missed having breakfast with her parents, missed closing the Crashdown with Maria, giggling about boys over ice cream. She missed Alex’s lopsided grin and all the technobabble she and Maria had teased him about. She missed his protective strength and how he used to put his arms around them both, his girls.

She missed her bedroom and her balcony that had introduced her to the millions of stars in the sky. She missed seeing Max’s face pop over the railing and the secret smile he reserved just for her.

She just missed Max. Here in the quiet solitude of her own mind, she could admit that. She missed the Max that had loved her, the Max that had made her feel as if she were one half of a very beautiful whole. But after Tess arrived and they found out that his destiny belonged to another, things had unraveled fast. It had happened long before she had pushed him away and had pretended to sleep with Kyle. It had begun that horrible day in the rain when she had seen Max and Tess kissing. Her heart had cracked open and it had never quite been able to heal.

Max had become a different person and to be fair, so had she. But even as she had begun letting go of Max, pushing him towards Tess, her own traitorous heart had screamed out that it was wrong. It told her that Max was never meant to be with Tess. But she had ignored the little voice and this was where she was. Maybe things would have been different if she had fought for Max that day on the rocky bluffs, or if Max hadn’t let her run from them. All she knew for certain was that the Max she had known this past year was a shadow of his former self. He had looked at her less like the woman he loved and more like a convenient mind to bounce ideas off of. And that was why she left and couldn’t go back. She deserved better than that. And if she found it with someone else, then so be it. But a piece of her heart would always belong to the dark haired alien that had saved her life.

“Hey there, lovey, you look like someone killed your best friend.”

Liz looked up, surprised to see that she had already arrived at school. Her friend, Mel, stood before her looking gorgeous as usual in a pair of leather pants and a black top. Her reddish-auburn hair curled down past her shoulders, and a pair of oversized hoop earrings hung at her ears. Liz couldn’t help but smile at her.

“Nope, all my best friends are intact these days. But what are you doing here? Class is about to start and you’re here before that happened? I’m shocked.” Her mask went back up. She didn’t want Mel to worry about her, not when there wasn’t anything that could be done about it.

“Cute. You’re a regular comedian today. Did you forget? Newspaper and Year Book meetings first thing this morning? Ring a bell?”

Liz grimaced. She had forgotten completely about the meetings. Mel hated school with a passion and could rarely be found in it. She preferred instead the quiet of her job as a mechanic. The only thing that could motivate her to come to school, however, was the newspaper and yearbook meetings and get-togethers. Her father was a photographer with his own studio and had hired Liz on after the two girls had met taking pictures for the yearbook. “Yeah, I’ve had a lot on my mind this morning.”

Mel considered her best friend. She couldn’t claim many friends in this school, because frankly, most people didn’t understand her. She might have looks, but her personality had been known to be a bit abrasive and a tad too truthful for most of the boys she knew. But when Liz had arrived in town, eyes clouded over with a sadness most people didn’t know, Mel had taken an instant liking to her. And when she had discovered that her new friend had hidden talent as a photographer, she had introduced Liz to her father and he had hired her right away.

Liz wouldn’t ever talk about her past, and Mel knew something had scarred her deep, deep enough to have made her develop a mask that she hid behind. She would tell her story in time, but in the meantime, it was her job to keep her cheerful, and having fun. That was what life was about in her opinion.

Mel linked her arm through Liz’s and dragged her towards the crowded hallways. “C’mon, let’s get to class. I can’t wait to see the look on Mr. Black’s face when I actually show up on time.”

posted on 9-Sep-2001 8:10:49 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17, but you will be warned before those post
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 20

Kyle trudged through the hallway, knowing his history class had been somewhere just yesterday. He consulted his schedule again, hoping it would help him in some way. The halls were all but deserted now, the late bell having already rung.

With a frustrated sigh, Kyle let himself think about what a disaster yesterday had been. He hadn’t been expecting Liz to be in any of his classes, and he had been unprepared. As he figured she would be, Liz had been irate, furiously angry he’d had the nerve to check up on her. Hell, she probably thought Max had sent her. Although, why she would think that was beyond him. He and Max had never really been on good speaking terms.

Now, he had to face her everyday when he really only thought he’d have to pretend not to be interested in her life from afar. And she was his painting partner! She would be sure to hate him by the end of the week if he kept up his act. But she had to believe that he wasn’t there to drag her back or because he thought she couldn’t handle herself. Truthfully, she had handled herself better than any of the rest of them ever could have.

A soft swearing caught his attention and he turned to the other end of the hallway. A stunning woman in skin tight leather pants was trying to jam a box into her locker. She was tall, 5’7 he’d would guess, with curves no man should ever be able to resist. And that hair. There was a yard of it, curling and twisting down her back in the most amazing color of reddish brown he’d ever seen. He pasted on his cockiest grin as he approached her, history class all but forgotten.

“Need some help, darlin’?”

The woman stopped her struggles with the box as she turned to face Kyle. “Are you talking to me?”

“Do you see any other beautiful women around here?”

Her lips curved into a seductive smile and the surge of lust that speared through Kyle’s body surprised him. She gave him a very deliberate once over. “Hey there yourself, handsome. You look a bit lost. Can I help you find something?”

“I think I’m pretty good where I ended up.”

“I’ll bet you are. You must be the new guy.”

“Word travels fast.” He leaned up against the locker next to hers, letting the soft honey in her voice wash over him.

“So do reputations. And yours proceeds you.”

“All horrible rumors. I’m a great guy once you get to know me. I’m Kyle.” He offered his hand to her. She glanced at it a minute before placing her small hand in his. Kyle found himself surprised by the rough skin he found there. This was no pampered beauty.

“Mel. So, what brings you to the east wing of our humble school?”


“Ah, you must have Jenkins. Good Luck. I hear he’s tough.”

Kyle saw her attempt to ease away from him and he decided to make his move. “So, Mel, you know I’m new in town and I’m in desperate need of a tour guide to show me the highlights of this town. What do you say I give you my number and we get together some time?”

But her lips only curved wider. “Oh, I’ve got your number alright. Let me guess, town hero and local god. You probably played two, maybe three sports, captain of the football team no doubt.” She continued her evaluation of him, eyes raking his body as she tapped a short fingernail against perfect teeth. “And I’ll bet the women in this town just eat that up.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Kyle answered, his grin giving him away. “And for the record, I was captain of the football, basketball, and wrestling teams.”

“Know a few moves, do you?”

“More than a few. I’d be happy to show them to you anytime.” He moved closer to her, invading her personal space.

“Sorry, slick. You’re just not my type. I prefer my men to be smooth talkers and you are obviously not one of those.”

Before Kyle had a chance to retort, footsteps echoed down the hall. He turned to find Liz jogging toward them and he muttered a soft curse.

Mel looked on questioningly as Liz froze when she saw Kyle.

“What the hell are you doing here?”

“Liz, what have I asked you about following me around school? Didn’t I ask for privacy?”

Mel continued to smile as Liz sputtered in anger. Wasn’t this interesting? “You two know each other?”


“Definitely not!”

“Well, you’ve convinced me.”

“Mel, let’s go. Mr. Hooper sent me to find you. He figured you might have gotten lost along the way. But I see you were just being annoyed.”

“Lost? I’ll have you know I was having trouble stuffing your junk in my locker.” Her soft accent thickened with righteous indignation. And Kyle was charmed to the bone.

“Well, I would have stored my junk in my locker, but it was full of your car junk.”

“That is not junk. It’s quality equipment and your locker just happens to be closer to the shop than mine.”

Liz eyed Kyle distastefully as he stood grinning at the pair of them. “Do you mind?”

“Actually, I believe I was here first.” Kyle settled more firmly against the locker. This was interesting. Mel and Liz seemed to be good friends. At least that answered his question as to whether Liz had people she could trust here.

“I was just meeting Slick here. He tells me he’s in need of a tour guide.” Her eyes were laughing at him, but he didn’t mind. Her very presence was mesmerizing.

“Us dumb jocks have trouble finding our way.”

“Mel, we really need to go.” Liz was back to ignoring Kyle’s presence now.

“Let me.” Kyle stepped forward to help push the box Mel had been struggling with into her locker. He was surprised to see that it was filled with camera equipment and film. Why did Liz have all this stuff?

“C’mon, Mel. Everyone’s waiting.” Liz latched onto Mel’s arm and began tugging her down the hall.

Mel flashed Kyle one last smile. “See you around, Tiger.”

The girls rounded a corner and Liz dropped her arm.

“So, what’s the real story here?”

“Nothing.” Liz fumed in silence. Kyle was blatantly trying to pick up her friend. What was he thinking?

“Uh huh. So, two new kids transfer into Flat Creek, Arizona within months of each other from the same small town and there’s no story? Do you always greet perfect strangers with animosity?”

“It’s nothing.”

“Right. So, was he as big a ladies’ man in Roswell as he is here?”


Mel laughed as Liz scowled, leaving her friend alone in the hallway. Oh, she had a feeling life in Flat Creek was about to get far more interesting than it had been.

posted on 9-Sep-2001 8:11:23 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [mail] Cookieman123⊕ [/mail]
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17, but you will be warned before those post
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 21

In the short time since Liz had left Roswell, she had already discovered a few things about herself. She knew that she could make it on her own. She knew she could make friends wherever she went. She knew that she liked who she was. She knew that while she missed her friends and family, she didn’t need them on a daily basis to survive. And she knew now that Kyle Valenti had come to Flat Creek to drive her crazy.

The days following Kyle’s arrival at school had flown by, and try as she might, it was becoming increasingly harder to ignore her old friend. True to his word, he hadn’t sought her out. In fact, he had gone out of his way to stay away from her. But Liz wasn’t stupid. She knew it was all part of some sort of plot, but to what end she still hadn’t figured out.

Still, everywhere she went, he seemed to be there. With the Senior year rapidly coming to an end, it was her official job to record their final days on film. And somehow, after only a few days of attendance, Kyle was already one of the most popular people in the school. It hadn’t really surprised Liz though. Kyle really was a good person. He was likable and had a dead on sense of humor, and women really went for his athletic abilities. But Liz knew something was up. She might not have even minded having him there as much if she could believe that he really wasn’t trying to drag her home. But she knew otherwise.

So, now as she lugged her school borrowed camera equipment down to the gym to catch some candids for the yearbook, she tried to push Kyle out of her mind. She had no reason to think about him. None at all.

But as she pushed open the doors to the small gym, her eyes were immediately drawn to the crowd of women all but swooning over the basketball players. And she had instinctively known that Kyle was among the players. Perhaps she set down her equipment a bit harder than she should have, but she was able to load the camera without any mishaps and Liz considered that a good thing.

As she moved silently around the room, snapping off shots at random, she was able to let go of her sour mood. As usual, she was sucked into the lives of the people she photographed. It was one of the reasons she had been given the job of photographer, that and her grandmother’s name. Liz had inherited her photography skills from her grandmother and it made her smile to think about what her grandmother would say if she saw her now.

Liz was able to walk into the school and snap pictures that no one else would see. Most of the shots they already had were of couples that had been together since birth, and group shots of the same people over and over. But Liz had seen the people behind the masks they wore, and had been able to catch people in private moments that saw into their true personalities, and to where true beauty came from.

She clicked away now, catching a couple of cheerleaders giggling on the bleachers with a few members of the chess club she recognized. She caught a few basketball shots as the players hustled together on the court, and a few more of the girls who cheered them on. She caught sight of the gym coach chatting with one of the star players in a corner and immortalized them on film. She shot the lonely and the crowded alike. Not only the most popular and well liked would be remembered in this years’ yearbook. Sometimes, the best people stayed well hidden in the shadows, or behind trees.

That thought made her pause as her mind drifted to places it shouldn’t. She was only here to finish off a few more roles of film. Why couldn’t she go a whole hour without still thinking about Max? It was crazy.

Her eyes lifted from where her hands had been idly fiddling with her camera to rest on Kyle’s soft eyes. Was that pity she saw in his gaze? Well, she didn’t need it. She was just fine before he came along, and she would be just fine after he had gotten bored with her and left. Upset at the turn her temper had taken, she began shoving her equipment back in her bag. But she still knew the exact moment Kyle broke away from his group and jogged her way.

Kyle swore at himself even as he continued towards Liz. This was certainly the last thing she needed, but he couldn’t help himself. She had looked so lost there for a minute, he was sure she had been thinking about home. And Liz didn’t deserve the sadness he saw in her eyes. She didn’t deserve the loneliness that came from not having anyone you loved around to help the days go by. And that was certainly something he knew something about these days. And maybe, just maybe, seeing his face wouldn’t make her quite so homesick. Hell, he was no Max Evans, but he could be a friend.

So, here he was, jogging towards her as she violently jammed things back in her bag. Oh yeah, he was definitely stupid for doing this. But it was too late to turn back.

“Hey, Parker. You okay?”

“Just fine, Kyle. Go away.”

He raised both hands in a defensive gesture. “Whoa there. I just said a friendly hello. I even quit my game to see if you were okay.”

“Well, I don’t need your help. I’m just fine. So, you can go back to flexing your muscles for the whole school to see and be impressed by. But I’m not buying it.” She wasn’t sure why she was still talking to him, or why she was so angry, but she went with it, feeling better as the words poured out.

Kyle blinked hard. He wasn’t expecting personal attacks, but maybe he should have. “What aren’t you buying?”

Liz stopped her movements to meet Kyle eye to eye. “I’m not buying the concerned friend act. I don’t buy that you dropped out of school and left town to chase after me just to see if I needed a shoulder to cry on. I don’t buy that you weren’t sent here to drag me back to Roswell. Tell me, who was it? My parents? Maria? Max? Or was it your dad?”

“Now wait a damn minute.” Kyle’s back was up. You just didn’t drag his father into this mess. He’d done nothing but be understanding and wonderful. “I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, Liz. Nobody sent me after you. You made a decision and left town. Everyone else has done nothing but respect that so far. Even though it damn near drove everyone mad not knowing what happened to you. Yes, they were all hurt and concerned, but they trusted you to know what you were doing. And when I told them I was leaving too, they told me you wouldn’t want to see me, but I didn’t listen. Because in the back of my head, I was thinking about how hard it is to deal with all this Czechoslovakian crap alone. I know. I dealt with it all last summer by myself. And it screwed with my head.”

“I’m not you, Kyle. I can take care of myself. I don’t need you babysitting me.”

“Because I’ve been following you around since I got here? What I told you before was true. I did need to get out of Roswell. You’re not the only one with bad memories of that place. But I figured maybe together, we could start over and still have someone to talk to when the world doesn’t make any sense. I know you have new friends here, and I’m glad you do. But can you tell them the reason you’re upset is because your Czech boyfriend slept with his wife and conceived a child after she murdered your best friend? And if you can’t talk about it, then how are you ever going to make sense of it?”

Liz was shaking with anger. Never before had she had a stronger urge to hit someone. “How dare you. You have no idea what my life is like, then or now. How do you think it felt to see them together, knowing I had pushed them there? Knowing that maybe if I hadn’t pretended to sleep with you, then maybe Alex would be alive today? My life was a mess in Roswell. I didn’t like who I was, or how I was ignored when I tried to explain how I felt. And you stand there and tell me what I do or don’t need to talk about and how to make it better? What if it can’t be made better? What if talking about it only makes it worse until it’s all I can think about? What if I’ve been having nightmares since you came here? I can’t get it all out of my head. It just swirls around up there, replaying every minute to see if I could have done something different. And I can’t do it anymore.”

Kyle shook his head, knowing he’d already screwed up any chance he’d had of being friends with Liz again. And it hurt more than he thought it would. “My intention wasn’t to hurt you by coming here. I’m sorry that it seems to be doing just that. I really thought you’d want a friendly face around. Obviously I was wrong. So, I’ll just leave you to your brand new life where you don’t ever have to think about the people you left behind that still love you and would like to know that you’re still alive and okay. Because when you left, you were borderline suicidal. How would you feel if it were Maria? If Michael and Isabel had slept together and conceived a child and then she ran off in the middle of the night? You’d be worried, scared. And so were we. I know we weren’t the best of friends before, but I tried.

I’m not here to drag you home, Liz. Do whatever the hell you want. You can obviously take care of yourself and you don’t need me. But if you do nothing else, just tell them you’re okay. That’s all they need. Then you can disappear again if you want and never think about Roswell, New Mexico again in your life. You can make a hundred new friends, and I hope your life is long and happy and free from words like ‘destiny’. But I thought you were more of a fighter than that. The Liz Parker I knew wouldn’t run from herself like that. She would stand tall and face her demons and vanquish her nightmares from sheer will alone. You are the strongest person I’ve ever known. And I know things were unbearable and you were more alone in Roswell than you could ever be here. But I thought I could make that up to you, be here if you decided to talk about things. Again, I’m sorry. I promise you won’t have to worry about me bothering you anymore. I just wanted to see for myself that you’re okay. And you obviously will be if I leave you alone. So, goodbye.”

Kyle pushed past her and out the gym doors into the locker room, leaving Liz standing alone. Around her the gym noise continued and she could only wonder at what had just happened.

posted on 9-Sep-2001 8:11:54 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [mail] Cookieman123⊕ [/mail]
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17, but you will be warned before those post
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 22

The Halloween party was in full swing by the time Liz arrived. She had been out of it all day since she and Kyle had yelled at each other earlier in the gym. She had dreaded art class all afternoon, but Kyle hadn’t showed up. That had been the thing that upset her the most. Sure, she didn’t talk to him and he infuriated her on purpose, but it had been oddly comforting to know he was there. And she found that she had missed his presence. Then she had gotten dressed and had looked at herself in the mirror for a half hour before cursing herself for being a coward. Of course she could wear the costume. The old Liz Parker might have felt self-conscious, but the new Liz was fearless.

So, now she stood in the throng of people wearing a bunny suit, and feeling mildly foolish. She took a deep breath and hefted her camera bag on her shoulder. She would just find Mel and things would be okay.

Mel lounged easily against the wall, sipping whatever punch was in the large bowl. She’d be willing to bet everything she had it was spiked, but she didn’t care.

“Well, look who I found. Good evening, lovely Mel.”

Mel raised her eyes to her visitor, a smile forced onto her lips. But when her eyes met on Kyle Valenti’s form, she couldn’t contain her laughter.

”Hey there, Tiger. Nice costume.”

Kyle glanced down at the white Elvis costume that clothed his body. There was a large cut down the top, showing off a well muscled chest. He was even wearing a pair of spangled sunglasses and a dark black wig. “What? You have something against Elvis?”

“Not a thing until now.”

“You’re stepping all over my pride here. So, what are you supposed to be? A non-participating member of society?”

Mel felt herself relaxing around Kyle. He really wasn’t so bad, if you could get past the swaggering arrogance. “Actually, I was trying for ‘Dragged not of my own free will’.”

Kyle nodded. “Yeah, I’ve worn that mask before. But it was never Halloween. So, what are you doing here?”

“Waiting for Liz. We’re supposed to be taking pictures for the yearbook and the newspaper.” She saw his eyes cloud over for a minute, and she wondered why. They usually avoided each other, but this was different.

“Yearbook, huh? Should I be nice to you if I want my face plastered all over every page?” He leaned in close, his usual leer on his face.

“Please, do you really think the student body wants that ugly mug on every page of their yearbook?”

But Kyle took no offense. He really liked this girl. She was the only person he’d ever found, besides Maria who could match him barb for barb. And Maria was the closest thing to a sister he had. No, this was different. “You just haven’t been privy to the Valenti charm yet. I’ll use it on you one day and you’ll swoon at my feet.”

“Fall down laughing is more like it.”

“You just want me to say something to you in my Elvis accent, don’t you?”

Mel laughed, a hearty chuckle she hadn’t done in years. “Please don’t.”

But the light mood was broken. Kyle was looking over Mel’s shoulder and something he saw sobered his features.

“Look, I’ve got to go. You keep working that costume. If you want people to think you’re not having a good time, you’d better stop smiling.”

But as Mel watched, confused, he was backing away into the crowd until he disappeared completely. A moment later, Liz appeared at her side.

“There you are! I’ve been looking everywhere for you. Where’s your costume?”

Mel eyed Liz’s leotard and fishnet stockings with a grin. “What are you wearing? Are you a playboy bunny?”

“No! I’m just a bunny.” Liz self-consciously adjusted her ears. She refused to be embarrassed.

“Do you have a tail?” Mel craned her head around to Liz’s backside, erupting in laughter at seeing the cottontail pasted firmly to her butt.

“Okay, are you planning on helping me, or what?”

“Okay, okay, sorry. Just let me get a picture of you in that outfit, alright? It’s priceless.”

Three hours later, the two girls were sitting at an empty table as the party died out around them. They had recorded every last minute and they were positive they had some wonderful shots to develop later. Liz had even managed to have some fun, and hadn’t minded the cat calls she’d received when she interrupted occasionally to take a picture. But through it all, her mind had been elsewhere, back in the gym with Kyle. Because sometime today, a terrible thought had worked it’s way into her mind. What if Kyle really hadn’t come back to bring her home?

“Alright, are you gonna spill it, or what?”

“Spill what?” Liz sipped her soda, leery of the punchbowl’s contents.

“Whatever’s been on your mind all day. You’ve barely said two words to me.”

Liz sighed. “I sort of had this fight with Kyle earlier.”

“So, what’s new about that? You two fight all the time.”

“No, this was different. I think…I think I may have made a mistake.” And she felt better for having said it outloud.

“About Kyle? Look, I know there’s more going on than you’re telling me, and that’s fine. But if you want to talk about it, I’m here.” She shrugged her shoulders, trying to be flippant, but she really wanted her new friend to confide in her. Throughout all the moves she’d done in her life, Liz was the best person she’d ever met and she really wanted to be considered a friend.

“We did know each other in Roswell. And I thought…I ran away in the middle of the night. There were things, too many things going on, and I had to leave.”

Mel frowned. This was the first time Liz had ever talked about Roswell. “Did you say goodbye to anyone?”

“Only one person. And when Kyle showed up here, I thought he was trying to get me to go home.”

Now the animosity was starting to make sense. “And he isn’t?”

“I don’t know now. He says he isn’t, but I don’t know what to think.”

“Well, it sounds to me like you two need to have a talk. It’s the only way to clear the air. You two were friends before?”

Liz nodded. “Yeah. I guess you’re right.” Not wanting to ruin the party mood, Liz forced herself to cheer up. Tomorrow was Friday. She would talk to him before his first class. “So, I think Derek Jones had his eye on you all night.”

“What? Are you out of your mind? Why would you even bring something like that up? He’s a jock. Do I look like the type to fall for a jock?

Grinning at her friend, Liz pretended to examine her. She was wearing her usual leather pants and a black top. Her wild hair tumbled around her neck making her look casually sexy, hoop earrings dangling at her ears. “Yeah, I don’t know what he would see in you anyway. I mean, why go for the supermodel type when he could have a wallflower like me?”

“Wallflower? Now I know you’re crazy. In case all the mirrors in your apartment are broken, let me assure you, the bunny suit, it does wonders to the male imagination.”

“Really?” Liz wrinkled her nose in thought.

“Trust me. I think it’s the tail. Men are suckers for things like that. Besides, I distinctly heard Josh asking about you.”

Liz moaned. “When is he going to take a hint?”

Mel laughed good naturedly, throwing her arm around Liz’s shoulder. “I don’t get it either. Why would he go for a wallflower like you when the supermodel best friend is around?”

“I’ll let you borrow the bunny suit. Maybe it can break you out of your dating drought.”

“Oh, I’m fine with my single status. There’s no need to change that.” No need at all. She didn’t need a man around to fill up her time or tell her what she could or couldn’t do or wear. But unbidden, Kyle Valenti’s face filled her mind, his lip curled up in an Elvis sneer. And she smiled. Maybe she would check out his Elvis accent sometime. It couldn’t hurt.

posted on 9-Sep-2001 8:12:26 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [mail] Cookieman123⊕ [/mail]
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17, but you will be warned before those post
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 23

Liz woke up early Friday morning in a better mood than she’d had all week. And she hadn’t had a single nightmare. That alone convinced her that talking to Kyle was the right thing to do. She arrived early, waiting by his locker for him to show up.

But when he still hadn’t shown up by the time the late bell rang, she was frowning in thought. Kyle was never late for school.

During homeroom, she used her contacts in the front office to get Kyle’s schedule, feeding them a story about tracking him down for pictures. So, when she checked in on his second and third classes and still found nothing, a part of her worried. It was unnecessary, she knew. Kyle was more than capable of taking care of himself, but he was skipping class his first week.

Kyle was usually the picture of health. In fact, he never even missed class back in Roswell, not for the flu or a vacation. No, as Liz thought about it, she realized that wasn’t right. Kyle did take off one day a year. It was a ritual he’d told her about once. Every year, he and his father would take the day and bond. They would fish, or play basketball, or go to the batting cages. It was something they did religiously every year on…Kyle’s birthday.

Glancing at the date on her watch, Liz swore. Today was Kyle’s birthday. And he was all alone in a town where the only person who knew him wasn’t talking to him.

Liz sighed heavily as her History teacher droned on about the Civil War. She’d done a lot of thinking last night. Although she was still angry he’d followed her against her wishes, she did understand that he was still worried about her.

By the time the bell for lunch rang, she had a plan. If possible, Flat Creek was even smaller than Roswell. So, she knew exactly where Kyle had gone. She slipped from the school unnoticed and made the short trip home to deposit her books.

She set out on foot with plenty of time for a quick stop at the grocery store. The walk to the sports pavilion would take her a bit longer, but she didn’t mind the walk. It would give her time to put her thoughts in order.

Kyle felt the satisfying crack as the ball connected with his bat. That one would have been a double at least. He stretched his shoulders before resuming batting position. It felt good to be exerting his muscles again. He’d already talked to the football coach this week. He was trying to get his records transferred and the coach had promised to take a look at him next week. But until then, he didn’t have free roam of the school gym.

He’d woken up that morning feeling more than a bit sorry for himself and he couldn’t bring himself to go to school. He knew how bad it looked, but he just didn’t care. He found that he missed his father’s presence more than he thought he would have.

Another ball came zooming towards him and he let his anger and frustration drive the bat. There was another crack and the ball hit the back net with the same force the others had suffered.

“That looked like a home run.”

Kyle turned quickly, startled by the intrusion. Liz was standing on the other side of the fence, a paper bag clutched in one hand. He couldn’t explain it, but he felt a bit better just having her there.

“More like a triple.” He resumed his position and sent another ball flying. “What are you doing here, Liz? Don’t you have class?”

“I could ask you the same question.”

Kyle shrugged. “I’m taking a self pity day.”

“I see.” Liz paused, feeling like it wasn’t her place to be doing this, but pushed on anyway. Kyle had come unannounced into her life and she might as well do the same. “I’m sure your dad would have come if you’d asked him too.”

Liz’s soft words cracked the wall around his heart he’d spent all last night building. Of course Liz would remember his birthday. The next ball whizzed by his head, but he made no more to hit it. Instead, he slowly turned to look at her for the first time.

“Is that why you’re here? You felt sorry for me?”

Liz licked her lips nervously. “No. I was going to talk to you today, but you never showed up. Can we go somewhere for a few minutes?”

Wordlessly, Kyle exited the batting caged and gestured towards an empty picnic table. They settled across from each other and for a moment, neither knew what to say.

Unable to take the silence any longer, Liz took a deep breath and began. “I may have been too hard on you.”

Kyle’s lips curved into a grin. “Is that an apology? Not that you need to give me one, but if it is, it needs some work.”

Liz found herself smiling back at him. “Well, it’s not really an apology, but it is. I’m still really upset that you followed me when all I asked was for some time alone to work through things. But I understand why you thought you could help me. You made some good points yesterday. You were right. I’m not dealing with any of it, but running away. And maybe – maybe talking it through sometimes, now that I have some distance, might help me. A little.”

Kyle’s grin couldn’t be contained. “Are you trying to say you need me without hindering your progress as an independent woman?”

“Maybe.” She knew she had to get it all out. “When I first saw you, I knew you’d come to get me, to take me back to Roswell. And I was wrong to just assume that. For that alone, I’m sorry.”

“Well, then I apologize for showing up unannounced. I know it threw you but I didn’t know how to prevent it. Life in Roswell was just short of unbearable, and I thought that since I was leaving, I might be able to do some good here. Maybe we could hear each other out. I don’t want to talk about Tess either, but I think that if I don’t, if we don’t, then it gives her more power. And if she did nothing else, she taught me that there are only a handful of people that I trust with my life. And you’ve always been one of them.”

Laying her hand on top of Kyle’s, she smiled. “You’re right. I left to become a better person, a person who isn’t afraid to face the monsters in the dark. I’m still kind of angry though.” She forced a stern expression on her face. “You’re not completely forgiven.”

“I would expect nothing less.”

“But I have to admit that I was a little happy to see a friendly face again.”

“Well, while you’re still angry with me, I should probably give this to you now.” Kyle reached into his pocket to retrieve a creased and worn envelope. He slid it across the table at her. She made no move for it, but he hadn’t expected her to.

“Your parents asked me to give it to you. I’ve had it in my pocket all week, hoping there would be a perfect moment to give it to you. But I don’t think there ever will be. You don’t have to read it. I just wanted you to have it.”

Liz found herself unable to pull her eyes from the envelope. What did her parents think of her? Not knowing was almost easier.

“Are they…angry with me?”

Kyle shook his head. “No. They’re worried and they’re sad, but they’re not angry.”

Liz nodded, determined not to cry. She quickly pocketed the envelope. She would read it later. Maybe tomorrow, just not right now.

She forced a smile back onto her face, forcing herself to meet Kyle’s eyes. “So, I have something for you. It’s not much, but an 18th birthday shouldn’t go uncelebrated.”

Kyle watched in amazement as Liz pulled a small chocolate cake from the brown bag she carried. He’d seen the emotions she’d felt at holding that letter, and now she was trying to make sure he wasn’t alone on his birthday. His respect for her raised another notch, proving that she was without a doubt the strongest person he’d ever known.

She lighted a silly looking circus clown candle and then presented it to him. “I’m not singing,” she informed him.

“C’mon, just one verse?”

“Forget it. Are you gonna make a wish or what?”

“I’m getting to it. Anyone ever tell you you’re kinda pushy?”

“It’s the new me. I’m pushy and mean.” She dragged a finger through the icing on one side, tasting it.

“I noticed. You wanna quit that? This is my cake, you know.”

“You’re taking too long.”

Kyle took a deep breath and blew out the candle, afraid she would dig into the cake before he had a chance to stop her.

Liz cut the small cake into two pieces and passed one to him. The cake was dry and the icing a bit too sweet, but as Liz made a face at him from across the table and flicked a forkful of icing at him, he decided it was the best cake he’d ever had.

They spent the remainder of the afternoon at the sports park, Liz claiming she owed Kyle at least a round at the batting cages for interrupting him earlier. Then, she let Kyle try to show her the basics of batting. She’d failed marvelously, only connecting a single time, but they both managed to have a better time than they had in ages.

Afterward, Kyle insisted on driving her home, upset she’d walked all the way alone. Once outside of her apartment, Liz felt a bit anxious. She really didn’t want to invite him up, not quite ready for that level of intimacy with him. But Kyle seemed to understand.

“So, I’ll see you Monday at school? Maybe we can say hi when we pass in the halls now?”

He was making fun on her and she knew it. “If I’m in a good mood. Listen, Kyle, are you still looking for a job?”

Kyle didn’t even want to know how she knew he was looking. “Yeah.”

“Well, I’m working tomorrow in the park. The Baseball Little Leaguers have a game tomorrow and they hired me to film it. The coach is retiring after the season and they’re looking for an assistant in the meantime. They’ll probably get bumped up when he retires. I could introduce you if you want.”

“Are you kidding? That would be great!”

Liz sighed in relief. “Do you know where the park is?”

“Large patch of green in the middle of town? Yeah, I got it.”

“The game starts at one. If you show up early, maybe you can help.”

“I’ll be there.” When Liz made a move to get out of the car, Kyle placed a hand on her arm. She looked at him questioningly. “Thank you,” he said simply.

Liz nodded. “I’ll see you tomorrow. Happy Birthday, Kyle.” She climbed out of the car, watching as Kyle sped away into the distance. Her heart felt lighter, more at ease. She knew it was still a long road, but maybe she didn’t always have to travel it alone.

posted on 16-Sep-2001 9:27:25 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [mail] Cookieman123⊕ [/mail]
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to R for language mostly
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 24

Kyle arrived at the park early the next afternoon, anxious about the day’s events. Would he really get the chance to be a little league coach? He’d been applying for job after job with no luck so far. To think he could get one that he would actually enjoy would be a dream.

So, as he parked his car and jogged through the park, he scanned it for Liz. When he finally spotted her dark hair, he stopped a minute and watched her with a smile. The kids were already there, practicing in their crisp uniforms. Liz was all over the field, snapping an endless stream of candid shots. Occasionally, she would stop to talk to one of the children and they would throw their arms around each other to pose for the camera. Kids were just natural hams, he supposed. And some of them never did quite grow out of it.

Unable to resist, he closed the distance between them, jumping in front of her camera.

“My left side is really my best side.”

Liz couldn’t help but grin when his face filled her viewfinder.

“People like you don’t have bad sides.” On impulse, she took a few shots, then lowered her camera. “C’mon, I’ll introduce you.”

Kyle found himself being dragged to the dugout where an energetic looking older man was speaking with several parents. He broke away, smiling when he saw them coming.

“Liz! Have you come to take my picture? I tried to look especially spiffy today when the parents told me what they’d done.”

Liz grinned at him, reminded of her own grandfather. “I’ll make sure I squeeze you into a few shots. But I wanted to introduce you to someone. Coach Jackson, Kyle Valenti. He just transferred last week.”

“Did you bring me a job applicant?” But he was studying Kyle, sizing him up as he spoke.

“It’s nice to meet you.” Kyle held out his hand and was met with a firm handshake.

“Likewise. Tell me about yourself, Valenti.” The boy had a firm grip and the build of a fine athlete. He would do quite well.

“Captain of the Varsity squad, All Stars, we were first in our division last year.”

Liz listened with a grin as they discussed batting averages. She could tell Coach Jackson liked Kyle.

“I’ll tell you what, Valenti. This game today is against our county rival, the Tigers. You help me win today and you’ve got yourself a job.”

“Strange, but fair.”

Liz watched as the two men shook hands and headed for the dugout, already discussing strategy. She shook her head at the pair and reloaded her camera as the children took their places on the field.

Three hours and two dozen rolls of film later, the Flat Creek Tornados had defended their school’s price and Kyle Valenti had himself a new job.

Liz had hung back after the game, speaking with some of the parents who had hired her. She’d given them the information they requested on how and when to expect their pictures back. But really, she was watching Kyle and Coach Jackson. Finally, when the parents had claimed their children and cleared out, the Coach called Liz over.

“Liz, I owe you for bringing Valenti here to my attention.”

“So, he has the job?”

“Not only the baseball team, but I’m using him for every other team sport we have!” He clapped Kyle on the back. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” He tipped his baseball cap at Liz. “I expect pictures.”

“You’ll have them.”

Kyle managed to hold his enthusiasm at bay until the Coach had left them alone. And then it took him only a heartbeat to pull Liz into a bear hug, swinging her in tight circles.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you.” He set her down. “I owe you big time.”

Liz made a show of smoothing down her hair and skirt. “Wow, I have two men at my disposal now. You’d better be careful. I collect on my debts.”

He grinned at her. “Today was the best day ever. “C’mon, celebrate with me. Let me buy you an ice cream cone. It’s the least I can do.”

“I demand two scoops and sprinkles on top,” she declared seriously.

“A reasonable demand. I accept your terms. Now tell me where we’re going.”

She scooped her bag off the ground and linked arms with Kyle. “We can walk from here and you can tell me all about your new job.”

They walked the short distance to the ice cream parlor while Kyle told her about the plays and strategies they’d talked about.

Kyle bought them both a cone and they leisurely strolled back to the park, window shopping as they went.

“So, he says they’ll pay me a flat fee to sort of assist on all of the teams! I still can’t believe it. They’re even going to work with my schedule when I start playing football.”

“I’m glad it worked out for you, Kyle.” And she was. It was a good feeling, knowing she had been able to help him out. They still had a few things to sort out before they could become true friends again, but the ball was rolling at least.

“Okay, okay. I know I’ve been boring you senseless with sports talk. You pick a topic.”

“Did your father call you last night?” She had been a bit worried by the Sheriff’s lack of attention. Was there trouble with him leaving Roswell?

Kyle nodded, taking a lick at his ice cream cone. “Yeah. I’d told him I wanted to be by myself this year. He was still feeling guilty because I was alone, but I explained that I wasn’t alone.”

Liz froze. “You told him we spent the afternoon together?”

“Liz, he knows you’re here. He’s the only one though. You didn’t really think he’d let you just leave town without a trace, did you?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t think about it.” She eyed her ice cream thoughtfully. “Is that how you found me?”

“Dad? Yeah. But I asked, told him I knew he was checking up on you. He wanted me to tell you that he gave his word he wouldn’t tell anyone where you were, not Max or Maria, or your parents.” He saw the relief on her face and knew she trusted his father. It felt good to know she believed in his word. They were after all the two most important people in his life these days.

“So, tell me all about your secret life as a photographer.”

Liz began walking beside him again, accepting that he was trying to change the subject. She would have to think about this more a bit later. “My grandmother’s influence. When I was growing up, I used to travel with her on my summers. I went on a few digs with her and even more reservations. She used to do all the photography work on her books, and she taught me how to take pictures.” She was sad for a second, missing the woman who had shown her so much.

Kyle nodded, remembering Claudia Parker. The Parkers were as an established a family as they came in Roswell, and everybody had known and loved the free spirited Claudia. Everyone except for her own daughter. Kyle chuckled at the memory of Nancy and Claudia in another fight, over Claudia’s sometimes outrageous behavior.

“Hey, remember the time she came into town to take you to that huge rock concert in Albuquerque? You were like fifteen.”

Liz smiled at the memory. “Oh my god. I’d forgotten about that. Grandma decided that we had to dye our hair to fit in, but she bought the wrong kind and it wouldn’t wash out.” She laughed at the memory of her mother’s face when they had come home with identical purple hair colors.

“I almost died when you showed up at school like that.”

“Well, Mom had trouble getting a hair appointment to dye it back. And I had a huge History test I refused to miss. She was great. She always made me see things in a new way, made me live life.”

Kyle didn’t have to ask to know she was talking about Claudia now. They might have only dated for a few short, disastrous months, but he’d known her his whole life.

Absently, he tugged on a stray lock of her hair. “Well, I’d say she’d be proud of you starting over.”

Liz’s smile widened, knowing Kyle was right. “She would come into town and she and Alex would sit up late, playing cards. She taught us all one summer, but Alex was the only one that was any good. Maria, Grandma and I would stay up late eating ice cream and giggling over boys. But she and Alex could play cards all day.” Liz paused a minute, deciding she could trust Kyle. “That’s how I see them now, playing cards all day, talking about us and how if they were here things wouldn’t be as big a mess as they are now.”

“It’s a good image. Do you think they would let my mother sit in on a few hands? She used to play a mean game of bridge.”

The image of Alex playing bridge make her giggle, and it felt good.

“I think they get together all the time.”

They studied each other over ice cream cones before Liz linked arms with Kyle. “C’mon, I’ll let you give me a ride home.”

“Say, Mel isn’t seeing anyone, is she? Which is purely a random question, not at all related to any interest I may or may not have in her.”

Liz laughed at him. “Oh, no. Don’t even think about it. She’s not your type.”

Kyle let Liz lead him down the street, but he had the feeling that Liz was dead wrong about that one. He would just have to bide his time with her leggy friend. They all fell prey to his charm sooner or later.

posted on 16-Sep-2001 9:27:58 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [mail] Cookieman123⊕ [/mail]
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to R for language mostly
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 25

“Okay, well what do you think about this arrangement?”

Liz and Mel stood over a table with a few other students as they sifted through an assortment of pictures. Mel was clutching Liz’s arm behind the others and Liz knew she hated the suggestion as much as she did.

“Um, well, yeah, Janie. We could set up the yearbook without any names this year and I definitely think it would save space, but I think some of the parents would have a problem with that. Mel, didn’t you have something? Anything?” She murmured the last part and Mel snickered at her. The head of the yearbook staff had been out since Friday with the flu and she had asked Liz to take over the meetings while she was gone.

“Actually, I did have a few new ideas for those extra pages we’re trying to fill.”

Liz watched gratefully as Mel’s smooth southern accent captivated the room. Not for the first time, she wondered where Mel was actually from, but she couldn’t ask. It was one of their unspoken rules. If you wanted everyone to know something about yourself, you would tell them. And if she started asking questions about Mel’s background, she would have to answer a few herself. Thankfully, Mel seemed to know that she didn’t feel like leading the others, and had been trying to step in and help. Leadership just wasn’t her thing. She’d already tasted that once and it had been enough.

Mel guided the others through the half finished presentation she really hadn’t been prepared to give yet. But Liz seemed a bit frazzled today. Her friend had all the makings of a good leader as far as she could tell, but didn’t seem to want the responsibility of it. So here she was stuttering her way through an explanation of an idea she hadn’t even finished developing yet.

The door opened behind Liz and Mel watched with amusement as Kyle Valenti strolled through the door. He was always good for shaking things up a bit. But as Mel looked closer, she noticed that his step didn’t have it’s usual swagger.

“Kyle, what’s up?” Liz’s brow creased at his sudden appearance as well.

“Listen, I’m not going to be able to make it after school today. Can we get together sometime later this week?”

“Sure. Is everything okay, Kyle?”

“Yeah, sure.”

But Mel could see the waves of frustration rolling off him from across the room. What could cause Liz’s smooth talking new friend to lose his cool? She didn’t want to be interested, didn’t want to care, but she found that she did. Swearing at herself, she knew she had been spending too much time around Liz. She was usually much more guarded than this. She was far better off without a man in her life, much less a slick operator like Valenti.

Kyle clapped a hand on Liz’s shoulder. He hadn’t meant for his mood to carry over, especially not around Liz. “Really, I’m fine. I’ll see you in class later, okay?”

“Actually, can you meet me for lunch? Mel and I usually eat outside on the picnic tables.”

Kyle nodded, his eyes darting around the room, finally resting on Mel.

“Hey, beautiful. See you at lunch?” He winked at her, but he didn’t feel any real amusement from the gesture. Before Liz had a chance to cross examine him further, he was out the door.

Mel excused herself from the group and went over to where Liz stood watching the door in confusion.

“So, I guess whatever you two were fighting about is finished?”

Liz thought about the weekend and how far they had come in that short length of time. There was still a bit left to work through, but she trusted him. And that was a huge step. “Yeah, you could say that. Did he seem odd to you?”

“Isn’t he always odd?”

Liz sighed. “Nevermind.”

But despite herself, Mel found her thoughts drifting back to Kyle occasionally. What had put that look in his eye? It was almost defeat, and that confused her. Guys like him were invincible.

Mel kicked herself mentally as she dumped her things in her locker. She didn’t care about Kyle Valenti. She’d only known him for a few days. Hadn’t she learned years ago not to get close to people? If they didn’t let you down, she would leave town before they had the chance. It had happened a dozen times in a dozen different cities in the last few years. And it would probably happen a hundred more in her lifetime. Liz had proved to be the exception to her rules so far, but her father had been making noises about moving again before the year was out. Which proved her theory that it just didn’t pay to get involved with people.

But, when she heard the distinctive sound of rubber hitting metal, she wasn’t surprised to find Kyle at the other end of the hall kicking in his locker. But she was surprised at the feelings that wanted to surface. Where were these nurturing feelings coming from? She wanted to turn the other way and leave, to pretend she hadn’t seen him. But something deep in her told her to trust for the first time, and to involve herself.

With a sigh and a muttered oath, she clutched her next period books to her chest and made her way down the empty hallway.

Kyle gave the locker another swift kick and felt fractionally better for it. He knew it was childish, but he just didn’t care.

“That locker’s always had it coming.”

Kyle froze when he heard Mel’s sugary voice. He turned slowly to find her standing a few feet from him, her head cocked questioningly.

He ran a hand through his hair and realized he hadn’t styled it that morning. Weird, he was usually careful about that sort of thing.


“Fine. Nothing’s wrong. I caught that act earlier. You want to talk about it, Slick?”

Tired and defeated, he felt some of his anger slip away just being in her presence. Liz was the only other person who had ever made him feel like that, but he couldn’t talk to her about this. He leaned back against his locker. Telling someone couldn’t hurt.

“I didn’t get in to NorthWestern.”

Mel sighed. Hell, she was starting to care. She closed the distance between them and leaned against the locker to his right.

“Sorry. But you had back up schools, right?”

“Three more letters. I was accepted, but not with a full scholarship.”

Then it clicked in Mel’s brain. “Those were sports scholarships, weren’t they?”

Kyle lowered his gaze to the ground. “Yeah.”

“It’s because you left Roswell in the middle of the season, isn’t it? Because you followed Liz.”

Kyle pushed away from the locker, filled with nervous energy. He didn’t like being read so easily. “Liz has nothing to do with it.”

Mel kept her gaze down. This had everything to do with her. He had followed her for whatever reason, and had lost his scholarships because of it. But she suspected he would cut out his tongue before he told her so. Great, the guy had hidden depths.

“When I first met Liz, she was a mystery. Not that she isn’t one now or anything, but I respected that she didn’t want to talk about herself. That’s why we get along so well. When I was a kid, I was never in school long enough to really make friends, so when I met people, I would make up stories about them. This one had a perfect home with a huge Barbie playhouse. Maybe another girl would have a brother she picked on. It didn’t matter what the real story was, because I could make up whatever I wanted. So, when I met Liz, I created this story in my head, like I used to do. I figured she was an orphan, no friends, no family, maybe an abusive past, probably hid in the shadows. But I knew she had definitely been hurt.”

“You don’t have it half wrong,” Kyle murmured.

Mel ignored him, but saved his comment for later. “But since meeting you, I’m revising that story. I think she had some great friends. Not everyone would leave their homes behind to help a friend.”

“You don’t know my home.” Kyle met Mel’s eyes, unsure of what to say. He had a feeling she was as new to this emotional sharing thing as he was. “Liz and I were never really close friends before.”

“Sometimes they make the best kind.” Mel squirmed against her own words. When had she turned into the Brady Bunch mom?

“Are you coming on to me?”

Mel threw up her hands in exasperation. The one time she tries to be nice, this is what happens. “Typical.”

Kyle grinned at her despite his situation. He really did feel better. He’d gotten the vibe that she didn’t usually play the nice guy and had decided to lighten the mood. Whatever happened, happened. Maybe it was for the best. Even knowing what would happen, he would still have left Roswell. Something had called him here and he would try to figure out why.

“So, tell me, what does Mel stand for? Melody?”

“I’m going to lunch.” She pushed off from the locker and headed down the hall.

Kyle quickly grabbed his books and jogged after her. “What are you doing this weekend?”

“Burning pictures of you.” She refused to think about how right it felt with him walking beside her.

“If you need me to pose for those, I’m free Friday.”

“I wouldn’t waste the film. Besides, I’m sure your time is better spent with your groupies. I promise you’ll get more out of them.” She rounded a corner, headed towards the double doors that led outside.

“I’m crazy about you, you know that?”

She snorted at him, and he laughed at her, opening the door for her just because he knew it would make her mad. And sure enough, as she pushed past him, bristling with anger, he felt like maybe the world had been turned right again.


posted on 18-Sep-2001 10:11:06 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [mail] Cookieman123⊕ [/mail]
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to R for language mostly
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 26

Journal Entry – November 16, 2001

The last few weeks have gone by quicker than any other I’ve ever known. Things have changed so much since I last wrote in here. I know I said I was going to keep up this journal, as a method of therapy of sorts, but it’s been hard. Mostly because I’m still running from my feelings. But I’m going to try.

Kyle and I made up, sort of. He spends his lunches with Mel and I now, despite the long line of girls that want his attention. He’s become the big man on campus and he loves it. I think he’s dated a different girl every week and Mel and I have a bet going to see if he can make it through the graduating class by Christmas, minus us of course. But if I didn’t know better, I’d say there was the beginnings of something between them. Maybe I’m imagining it. Maybe not.

Mel and Kyle are an odd story. They seemed to have formed this bond completely separate of me. And after a dozen frustrating encounters, I’m used to their banter now. It’s like they’re constantly trying to one up each other in the battle of wit, but it does make for some amusement. In some ways, it reminds me of Maria and Michael, way back in the days when they swore they hated each other. They would argue over something as trivial as the best brand of ketchup, then I would turn to Max and he would smile at me and I knew he understood.

But Max isn’t here now. And he might never be again. I know I said I left to work out things, but part of me, the weak part, still wishes I was still there with him. Will he even be on the planet by the time I find the courage to return home? I don’t know for sure, and it hurts me that we might not have the chance to create better memories than the last ones we have now, even as friends. I still miss him like nothing I’ve ever known. Being away from him is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I know it’s something that has to be. He wasn’t the Max I fell in love with in the end. He lied to me, betrayed me, hurt me. If I let myself thing about it, I’d cry all day. So, I push my grief to the back of my mind and pray Max will find the strength to do what needs to be done without me. I don’t know what the future holds for us, and I don’t want to know. Some things are better left to be discovered in the moment and not lamented over for fourteen years.

But I digress. I swore this journal wasn’t going to turn into a long letter to Max. So, I’ll move on now.

Kyle started his job with Coach Jackson and he loves every minute of it. I went by the school to drop off some pictures and he regaled me with stories of how useful Kyle’s input was to the sports department. And true to the High School coach’s word, he had tried out Kyle for the Varsity Football team and they started him immediately. They’d actually been giddy with excitement when Kyle had won them the game. I know, I caught it on film.

I went to take pictures and offer him my support, and I even dragged Mel along with me. She’d never even been to a game! Imagine that! She acted bored for most of the game, but when Kyle had been tackled after a foul had been called, Mel had been up on her feet with the rest of us, yelling at the referees. Kyle found out she didn’t know anything about sports, and she agreed to let him teach her if she could show him how to perform basic maintenance on his Mustang. He was pretty worried about letting her near his car, but after she yelled at him for being sexist, they’d started their first lessons. It’s hard to say who I feel more sorry for.

I still have the letter Kyle gave me from my parents. Every night I take it out and look at it, turn the envelope over in my hands. And every night, I put it back in my dresser drawer. And I promise myself that tomorrow I’ll open it. Tomorrow I’ll have the strength to open that piece of paper and read the words my parents wanted me to hear. But each morning comes without any of that strength, and I wonder if it ever will.

Kyle and I talked about it briefly, for like thirty seconds, and he told me not to rush it. When the time was right, I would know. He said that they loved me and for now it was all I needed. I think Buddha has made him wise beyond his years. Or maybe that was the aliens.

I know I should call them, tell them I’m alive and not only well, but better here than I hoped I could be. But every time I reach for the phone, my hand trembles and I hate myself for being a coward. So, maybe I’ll write them a letter instead, just a note to tell them all the things I can not say. I’ll send it to the Sheriff. He’d deliver it for me, no questions asked. But what would I say?

Hi, Mom. Hi, Dad. I left everyone behind for reasons I can never fully explain to you. I killed my best friend, not with my hands, but with my actions and the actions I drove others to. And the man I loved more than anything, that I sacrificed my future for, betrayed me with his wife, created a child that couldn’t live on this planet.

There were some things you just couldn’t tell your parents.

And so I write nothing.

But behind it all are the ever present questions that run through my brain. It doesn’t matter how far I run from Roswell and from Max, I still think about them. I have to. Because of the actions we took there, because I’m alive today at Max’s hand, I’m not entirely human anymore. And I don’t know how I feel about it. Ava alluded to it, but never told me how I was changed. And at the time, I was afraid to ask. That was me, the big chicken of Roswell. It was almost our motto. If your close your eyes, maybe it’ll all go away when you open them. Obviously, that worked well for us.

There was also something else about her visit that I never told anyone. Who would have believed me then? But I knew from the first time she looked at me that she knew something she wasn’t telling me. It was almost as if she recognized me. But I know that’s not possible. How could it be? But it was a sort of vibe I got and I’ve learned to trust my instincts. And they tell me that there are secrets inside of me I haven’t unlocked yet, but I know I won’t be whole until I do. So, I continue researching in secret. Kyle wouldn’t understand. He hates Max and everyone in Roswell for what they did to his life. And while I can’t blame him, I can’t share this with him either. Maybe some day, but not yet, with Tess’s betrayal so fresh in his mind.

So, while I want to distance myself as far from all of this as I can, if I really am trying to take a journey of self discovery, then I have to look at all parts of myself, and not just the parts I like. And like it or not, part of me may now be alien.

And when I think about it, and what it means, it makes me glad that Kyle’s here. I’m not quite ready to talk about Tess and Alex with him yet, and maybe Mel may be more objective about Max, but I think that with the two of them by my side, I just may wake up tomorrow to find the courage and strength that has so long eluded me. And hopefully when I do find out who Liz Parker really is, I’ll like who I’ve found.

posted on 15-Oct-2001 12:45:08 PM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [email] Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to R for language mostly
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 27

Liz flopped back on her bed in frustration. “I can’t do it anymore. I just can’t study. My brain is officially fried.”

Kyle glanced up from his History book. “I knew it was going to happen one day. Excessive studying only leads to trouble.” He examined her from where he was sprawled on the floor, his books surrounding him. Was now the time to voice his thoughts? Hell, it probably wouldn’t ever be a good time. “Liz, can I ask you a question?”


“Do you miss it at all?”

Liz sighed. There was no use pretending she didn’t know what he was talking about. But it didn’t mean she was going to answer.

“Why don’t you ever talk about them? About how my leaving affected everyone or what happened?”

“I figured if you wanted to know, you’d ask. Look, if you want me to say that your absence shattered everything, I can. Because it did. But in a good way. We all had to wake up and look at our lives and I don’t think any of us liked what we found.”

Liz nodded. She refused to feel guilty for what had happened after she left. That was something the old Liz would have done. “Kyle, have you ever felt so alone, you didn’t know how to make it go away?”

He thought back to the first week after he’d arrived in town. “Yeah.”

“I’ve felt that way for a long time now, but since you came, it’s easier to breathe. I know I gave you a hard time when you first got here, but I’m glad you’re here now.”

Kyle smiled at her, feeling at home for the first time. “Careful, Liz. If you go all gushy on me, it’ll ruin your new bad ass image.”

“Well, it’s going to be blown to hell when I ask you to move in with me.”

“Whoa.” Kyle had never been taken more off guard. “Are you serious?”

Liz chewed on her lower lip nervously. “Well, think about it from a practical standpoint. We’re both young and full time students. And yeah, we both have jobs now, but I’ve seen your apartment and I’m obviously not living in the lap of luxury. Let’s face it, we just don’t make enough money alone to afford a semi-decent place to live. But I thought that maybe together it might be easier.” And she only really felt stronger when he was around. He knew her, where she came from and what had happened to her. He understood her better than anyone these days. Maybe he had been right when he’d said they could help each other.

Kyle considered what she said. It did make a small amount of sense. He’d had the feeling she was lonely, but faced with the pleading look in her eyes, he wondered if he’d understood how deep it really ran. Because as much as he’d been hurt and confused, Liz’s pain outdid his tenfold. “Are you sure about this? I mean, I’ve been doing a lot of dating here and I wouldn’t want us to do this and have you feel put out when I bring someone home.”

Liz made a face at him. “First, I’m not a goody two shoes that is flustered easily. Okay, not anymore. I’m working on it. Second, I know your reputation isn’t as colorful as you’d like it to be. We dated, remember? It took you like two weeks to kiss me.”

Wounded, Kyle clutched his chest. “My heart is broken. I’ll have you know I was trying to be honorable. You were the girl of my dreams back then. You made me nervous, you know. It took me a whole year to get the courage just to ask you out.”

“Really?” Liz was surprised beyond words. She certainly hadn’t known that. “Why didn’t you ever say anything?”

“It was kind of embarrassing. I mean, we’ve known each other since birth, and we were always friends, but we were never close. But the funny thing is, once I had you, I realized that I had really only wanted to get closer to you. All those feelings I’d convinced myself I had for you just weren’t there. I’m just not explaining this well.”

Liz climbed down from the bed to join him on the floor. “No, you’re explaining it perfectly.” She thought back to that summer they’d started dating. She’d been flattered and thrilled that someone like Kyle had found her attractive and interesting. They’d had good times together but things had become flustered and awkward whenever they reached a point in the date for them to kiss goodnight. And for a while, she’d thought it had been her. Until she’d been shot and her whole world had been turned upside down. “What do you say, Kyle? We can find a place that will give us both some privacy. If Max hadn’t come around and everything hadn’t gone crazy, we would have ended up really good friends. Let’s start over.”

“If we do this, there are two conditions.”

“Such as?” But she knew she would agree to pretty much anything.

“First, I don’t want my presence to stop you from doing things you would do in your own apartment. Like if you want to walk around in your…underthings, then hey, don’t let me stop you. Or if you want to invite your girlfriends over for pillow fights and sleepovers, then I can be understanding, then I can be understanding about those kind of things.”

“That’s kind of you, Kyle. But what if Mel comes over and we want to have a pillow fight / sleepover while in our bras and panties.”

Kyle’s eyes glazed over, an image forming in his mind. “That would be the best thing that could ever happen.” A pillow hit him square in the face and he grinned at her.

“My second condition is that we stay strictly platonic. I know I’m buff and manly, and charming and handsome,”

“You forgot modest and humble.”

“Right, I don’t have to list my virtues to you. You already know them all. But I’d appreciate it if you could made an effort to keep your hands off me. You had your chance with me and it just didn’t work out.”

“Does smothering you with a pillow in your sleep fall under that category?”

“Does that mean you agree to my terms?” Kyle crossed his arms over his chest primly.

Liz flashed him a grin. “I guess so, roomie. It might be hard, but I think I can manage.” Giddy, she threw herself into Kyle’s arms.

“I’ll allow this hugging this one time. But you’re going to have to work on this.”

“Shut up, Kyle.”

“Couldn’t have said it better myself.”

Liz and Kyle followed the voice to the doorway where Mel was leaning against the frame.

“And I thought if I waited long enough, the group hugs would be done.” She entered the room, tossing her books on the floor as she went. “So, what are we celebrating today?”

“Kyle and I are moving in together.”

Mel’s eyebrows shot up. “And what did he use to blackmail you into doing that?”

Liz made a face at her. “Nothing. It was my idea.”

“And you’re sure you’re not feeling feverish?”

Kyle wrapped an arm around Liz’s shoulders. “Sorry, Mel. Some women just find me irresistible.”

“And some women spend their whole lives dieting.”

“Which you obviously don’t believe in.”

Mel’s eyes flared with indignation. “What is that supposed to mean?”

Kyle grinned at her, a special mix of cockiness and amusement he reserved just for her. “Nothing, darling. You look wonderful. You can hardly see that extra inch of skin on your stomach. I just think it’s great you don’t care about things like that.”

Logically, Mel knew what he was doing. She’d done it to him a dozen times. But she’d be damned if she’d let him call her fat and get away with it.

“Well, I’d rather have an extra inch than those love handles you’re developing. Tell me, how long has it been since you worked out?”

Liz tried to stifle a giggle at the look that crossed Kyle’s face. Afraid he would strip naked to prove Mel wrong, she stepped in to mediate as usual.

“Okay, guys. You both get points for that round. Mel, I was hoping you could help us. You have been here longer than either of us.”

Still eyeing Kyle wearily, she nodded. “Yeah. I guess it wouldn’t hurt.”

Liz turned to Kyle. “So, how soon do you want to do this?”

“As soon as we can. Thanksgiving is next week and unless you have secret plans, I’m as open as you.”

Liz’s eyes widened with enthusiasm. “Oh! This will be great! We can find an apartment and cook Thanksgiving together.”

Mel and Kyle exchanged a look.

“I’m not cooking.”

Liz’s smile widened when Mel and Kyle made the declaration at the same time. This was going to be the best Thanksgiving ever.

posted on 15-Oct-2001 12:45:46 PM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [email] Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to R for language mostly
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 28

“Kyle, this is like the tenth apartment we’ve looked at today.”

Excitement lit Kyle’s face as he considered the possibilities of this place. “I know, I know. I just want us to find the perfect place. Humor me. Let’s go take a look then we can go grab dinner.”

Liz let herself be dragged up the stairs, but didn’t really mind the climb. It had amazed her how excited Kyle had become once the idea of moving in together had sunk in.

He had shown up at her apartment the day after she had proposed the idea to him and he’d brought newspapers and apartment guides with him. But when she’d seen that he’d color coded the listings he’d selected to look at, she almost hit the floor in shock.

It had been three days since then and he’d dragged her from apartment to apartment in search of the perfect one. She’d had no idea Kyle could be so meticulous, but she was fast learning.

There was an excitement growing in Kyle that he couldn’t name. This was the journey he’d looked forward to embarking on when he left Roswell. The motel he’d been sleeping in was cheap and sadly about all he could afford. But with Liz, they could afford something better. He knew she thought he was crazy, and he didn’t blame her. But he couldn’t remember looking forward to anything as much.

They reached the third floor and Kyle consulted the chart he’d meticulously created.

“It’s 302.”

Continuing down the hall, they stopped only for Kyle to examine the paint or the condition of the hallway carpet.

“This is the one. I can feel it.”

Liz rolled her eyes at his back. The last four apartments had felt like “the one”. But when Kyle pushed the door open, they both found themselves in a state of shock. A furnished living room stood before them, brand new looking furniture set on hard wood floors, sparkling counters gleamed under the fluorescent kitchen lighting. And a large, stone fireplace took up a fair portion of one wall.

Liz ripped the paper from Kyle’s hand. “We have to be in the wrong place. This can’t be right.”

Puzzled, Kyle began moving around the room. “No, this is the right place. But how is this affordable?”

Liz verified the address and circled the room, as baffled as Kyle. “Where did you get the information from?”

“Coach Jackson. His aunt or someone moved out and he knew about it before it hit the market. There’s gotta be something wrong with it.”

“Oh, good. You two made it. I’m Patty, the landlord. So, how do you like the place?”

Liz and Kyle eyed each other wearily. A blonde in a pair of tight blue jeans and a sleeveless top stood in the doorway with a clipboard. Falling into their familiar good cop/bad cop routine, Liz moved forward to shake hands with the woman.

“I’m Liz Parker, and this is Kyle Valenti. So far, this place looks wonderful. But we haven’t seen everything yet.”

“The rooms are probably unlivably small,” Kyle grumbled, barely able to keep the joy from his voice.

“Oh, no. The bedrooms are the best part. In all, the apartment has just under 2000 square feet.” She began leading them to other areas, turning on lights as she went. “There are three bedrooms and one a half baths. The space has a unique design in that not only to the bedrooms all adjoin the bathroom, but each other as well.”

“We were only really looking for a two bedroom,” Kyle interjected with forced stoicism. The place was huge! The wood floors were in impeccable shape, the kitchen counters larger than he could have hoped for.

“Oh, well, a lot of tenants use the extra room for a guest room, storage, a nursery, things like that.” She opened the first bedroom door and again the two could only stare in shock.

The bedroom was huge, and more importantly, fully furnished. A four poster bed flanked one wall while dressers and a small armchair filled out the rest of the room. Patty walked to one window and pulled the drapes open.

Liz let out a gasp as the Arizona skyline lay out before her. It was beautiful, and it already felt like home. Slowly, she turned her head and locked eyes with Kyle.

Kyle could hear Patty’s voice as though through a wind tunnel. Liz’s whole face had lit up when that curtain had opened and he couldn’t remember the last time it had happened. And that was when he knew that whatever the rent, they would live there.

“The rest of the bedrooms are through here.”

But they’d already seen what they needed to. “And the rent is what we talked about on the phone?”

“Yes, it’s really a find.”

Kyle raised his eyebrows at Liz. She beamed back at him. “We’ll take it.”

“Great. I have the paperwork with me. All I need is your information, a deposit and your first month’s rent and it’s yours.”

Liz nodded while she filled out the information. She and Kyle had already pooled their money and Kyle went about writing her a check.

“So, when can we move in?” Liz’s excitement was uncontainable.

“Well, technically not until the first of December.” But one look at the pure glee on their faces was enough to sway her even if Coach Jackson hadn’t already called in a favor. “But since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I’ll let you move in immediately.”

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. Remember, rent is due the first of the month. The power and water and the rest of the utilities are still on. Just get everything transferred over to your name in the next few days and we shouldn’t have any trouble. Now, I’ll let you go. If you ever need anything, my number is on the fridge and I’m on the first floor. And if I don’t see you tomorrow, happy Thanksgiving.”

Kyle and Liz continued to grin at each other until the door closed behind them, a set of keys clutched in their hands. Without a word, they both broke away to run in different directions around the apartment.

Liz squealed in delight when she examined the first bedroom closer. The quilt on the bed was hand sewn purple, the armchair was soft and plush. With a few pillows to add color, it would be perfect.

Kyle rushed to the other two bedrooms, judging them carefully. He knew Liz had already claimed the first, so he didn’t bother with it. The second bedroom was a bit larger than the third and had it’s own exit, but the third room had a large screen TV bolted onto a shelf in the corner. Once they hooked up some cable, he could comfortably set up to watch sports if Liz was occupying the living room. A matching armchair sat across from the TV and he could almost see himself settled in for Monday Night Football.

He began opening doors, picking out the exact spots for all his things. He could even get his dad to bring up some more of his things. The old man had been hinting around about wanting to see him settled for himself. Before, Kyle had been afraid his father would worry or second guess his decisions if he’d seen that motel or Liz’s apartment. But now, there was nothing stopping them.

Kyle moved to the last door, opened it to find a spacious bathroom with a double sink. There were two more doors and he assumed they belonged to the other two bedrooms. As if on cue, one of the doors opened and Liz’s grinning face met his. With a squeal of delight, she threw herself into his arms for a hug.

“Can you believe it? This is ours now.”

“I think I’m still in shock. When do you want to start moving?”

“Now. I already started boxing up a few things yesterday. I still don’t have much, so we should be able to do it today. What about you?”

“I’m already packed. But it’ll take us awhile to get everything over in my car.” He watched her examine every inch of the bathroom with glee.

“I already called Mel. She’s gonna borrow her dad’s truck and meet us at my apartment in a half hour.”

“You move fast.”

“When I’m motivated.” She grabbed his arm. “C’mon, the sooner we go, the sooner we can come back and arrange everything.”

“Oh, great. Sure, you’re excited. You get the job where you stand and point and I have the back breaking labor part of moving the heavy pieces of furniture.”

“Am I going to have to live with a cry baby?”

“And I talk in my sleep too. I hope you don’t mind.” Kyle opened the door leading to his bedroom. Together, they walked into the living room.

“Not as long as you say things that I can use against you later.”

“This roommate thing may be more overrated than previously expected.” He grabbed his new set of keys, tossing them in the air for Liz to catch. Life with Liz would never be boring.

Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [email] Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to R for language mostly
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 29

Journal Entry, November 22, 2001

Dear Liz,

You’re going to have to muddle through this with me. I’ve never done anything like this before, but I’m going to try, for you. In case you haven’t guessed, I’m trying to keep a journal. I know I said before you left that you would always be a part of the group, but how could you really be if you didn’t know anything that was going on? So, I’m going to be your eyes and ears while you’re gone. I know there’s a good chance you may never read this or never want to really, but I’m going to write them down anyway. And who knows, it could be therapeutic.

Where do I begin? So much has happened since you left three months ago.

Max laid down his pen and stared at the sentence he had just written. Had it really only been three months? It seemed like longer somehow, as if the days had stretched into something unrecognizable. And not for the first time, he wondered if this whole journal thing was a good idea. He’d thought about it for awhile before finally going to the store and picking up the things he’d needed. If the day ever came when Liz wanted to be a part of their lives again, she could easily do so. Or if something should happen to them before she returned, she would have some way of knowing what had happened.

“Max! Dinner’s almost ready.”

“Coming!” He yelled back to Isabel. She had decided to tackle Thanksgiving dinner this year, relieving Mom of her Martha Stewart creations. And while his stomach thanked her, he still couldn’t get in the mood to celebrate. He’d come a long way from the boy who had been a step away from comatose when Liz had left, but still not far enough.

He looked down at the empty pages of the journal again, feeling helpless as they mocked him. What should he tell her? He could dedicate a dozen pages on their search for the Granolith, on what they had found and what they hadn’t. But that was one of the reasons she’d left to begin with. Should he tell her about the other questions that weighed down his heart? How could he tell her that since the night Kyle had left Roswell, he’d been remembering his past life in bits and pieces? How could he break her heart even more by telling her that he now knew that he never loved Tess before? That there was another girl that he remembered loving in snatches of dreams? The memories were fleeting and elusive and they usually left him with more questions than answers. If he’d loved this girl so much, why had he married someone else? So much of what they knew would hurt her, but if he was going to do this, he would do it all the way.

“Max! Are you coming or what?”

He closed the journal with a snap, his hand pausing to examine the outer leather cover. It had seemed too plain for the story he was sure it would tell. So, when he had waved his hand over the cover and a symbol had appeared in the bottom right corner, he had been amazed and confused at the same time. He was sure he had never seen it before, but yet it seemed familiar somehow. It was two rings interlocked, a sun hovering above them. Could it be his family crest? He didn’t know for sure, and he wasn’t sure how he could find out.

“Max! Are you deaf today?” Isabel appeared in his doorway, clad in their mother’s apron with a mixing bowl tucked under one arm and propped up on her hip.

“I heard you. I was coming right now.” Not wanting ridicule from his sister, he quickly tucked the journal into his desk drawer, carefully hidden under a stack of papers. He would have to pry up that loose floorboard later and hide it a bit more carefully when Isabel’s eagle eye wasn’t on him.

“You know, I could use some help.”

“Weren’t you the one that insisted on doing dinner all by yourself? If I recall, I offered to do dessert.”

Isabel snorted at his offer. “Frozen apple pie? I don’t think so.”

“I’m insulted. I would have gone to the Crashdown and picked up one from them.”

“Somehow, Men in Blackberry Pie just isn’t part of the Thanksgiving dinner I envisioned.”

“You asked for my help.”

“Serves me right. Come on, maybe you won’t totally screw up setting the table for dinner.”

Max followed his sister with a grin. She had been uptight and worried about him for so long, it had taken a toll on her. He’d sworn not to do anything to make her worry about him like that again. He should be the one taking care of her and he’d been trying. Unfortunately, his sister was prickly and didn’t want to be taken care of. It had been an uphill battle. But she had cheered up with the prospect of Thanksgiving dinner to be taken care of.

He went about setting the table, amused when his mother came into the kitchen for what had to be the three hundredth time to stir Isabel’s pots and ask if she needed help. Isabel shooed her out of the kitchen while she put the finishing touches on the last of the dishes.

By the time Isabel carried out the turkey she had spent all day baking, the rest of the family was already seated around the table.

“It looks wonderful, sweetheart.” Phillip inhaled the aroma of fresh baked turkey as his daughter presented it to him for cutting. He sliced it easily and served it expertly as each plate was passed his way.

“So, Max, where is Michael this year? He’s not alone, is he?”

“He was invited to have dinner with Maria and her mother.”

“Ah, chinese food for Thanksgiving dinner?” Isabel teased, knowing Amy and Maria’s tradition.

Max grinned as he dug into his own dinner, thankful again Isabel had cooked instead of their mother. Tofu just wasn’t any competition for real turkey and stuffing.

“So, Phillip, finish telling me about that little boy.”

“What boy?” Max turned his head questioningly towards his mother, gaining his full attention.

“Just a case I’m working on. A small child was abandoned on the steps of a church a few weeks ago. The police were able to find out who he was, but the mother’s gone missing.”

“How old is he?” Max’s heart broke to hear of any child not wanted. It hit too close to home.

“Three, I think. They were able to find the aunt and she’s trying to sue for custody on the off chance her sister comes back to try to reclaim the child.”

“She can’t do that, can she?” Isabel was appalled. How could a mother abandon her child then try to tear it away from a loving home?

“Unfortunately, the law usually sides with birth parents on pretty much most occasions. But I think the aunt has a good chance. The birth mother’s been in and out of jail for the last ten years for dozens of violations.”

“Where is the child now?” Max poked at his mashed potatoes, his appetite lost.

“A foster home outside of town.”

“That’s horrible. He has to spend Thanksgiving in a foster home instead of with his family that wants him?”

“Isabel, it’s really a wonderful place. Colleen Martin runs the place with her daughter. They usually have a dozen or so kids up there and it’s nothing like the foster home they placed you kids into before we adopted you.”

Isabel tried to let herself be comforted by her father’s warm hand covering her own, but couldn’t do it. She remembered all too vividly the nights she had woken up alone and scared. She hadn’t understood anything then, still trying to learn to speak, and had been terrified of everything around her. “I guess.”

“Where is this place?” Max felt his heart go out to the child he had never even met. He knew how hard it was to feel alone. He had felt it his whole life.

“Just out past the old soap factory.”

Max nodded, remembering the place well. Liz had been arrested there when the Sheriff had been trying to get information on him. He pushed the memories back down with all the rest. There was no use looking back on those memories anymore. Maybe a trip out to this foster home wouldn’t be such a bad idea. He still had some free time on his hands and had been thinking about volunteering somewhere. Who knew better how to relate to orphans than an orphan that had lived through it all?

“What’s so special about this place, Dad?”

Phillip sighed deeply, not wanting to burden his family with the harsh reality of his job, especially on Thanksgiving. “Well, most of the kids they take in are sick. Most couples don’t want to adopt a child that doesn’t have a life expectancy of more than a few years.”

“It’s sad.” Diane held her husband’s gaze across the table. They both understood how lucky they were to be blessed with the children they had. “But thankfully, we have people like Colleen and Sara to take care of those children and give them a home for the time that they do have.”

Max listened to his mother with half an ear. What kind of people took in sick children? Wonderful people that could teach him a few things about the other side of human nature. For too long, he’d been exposed to the dark side of humanity and of his own people.

“Well, that’s what I’m thankful for this year, that I have two healthy children of my own.”

Isabel tried to smile at her mother, but found it hard. By the look on Max’s face, he would be making a trip out to the home shortly. She wondered if she could just catch a ride with him. Somehow, they managed to cheer up enough to enjoy the dinner. She had laughed at all the right moments despite the emptiness inside of her.

Max was the first one to finish dinner and he tried his hardest not to fidget while he waited for the others to finish their dinner and their polite conversation. The empty journal weighed heavily on him. He had figured out how to begin writing in it and now couldn’t wait to get started. When his mother stood up and began clearing dishes, he practically bolted from the table in his haste to get upstairs.

After closing the door firmly, he retrieved the journal from it’s temporary hiding place and flopped down on his bed. He re-read the short page he had started earlier before he started a new line underneath it.

We found the Granolith.

posted on 15-Oct-2001 12:46:32 PM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [email] Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to R for language mostly
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 30

“Sorry I’m late, but I couldn’t find the…cranberries.” Mel broke off what she had been saying when she stepped into the new Parker/Valenti household. It was utter chaos. Empty boxes lay in discarded piles around the apartment, and it looked as though some of the boxes’ contents had merely been dumped on the floor. Kyle sat on the light blue rug in front of the television, a large box open in front of him, one arm resting frozen inside. “Happy Turkey Day, Slick.”

“NO! NO! NO! What the hell was that? You call that a pass?”

“Okay, then. I’ll just find Liz. Good to see you too, Tiger.” Mel crossed the living room into the kitchen where Liz surely had to be hiding. She had been given the grand tour the day before and had absolutely fallen in love with the place. It sure was a far cry from the apartments they had lived in before. But she had been grateful for the invitation to dinner. Her father was off on another trip somewhere or another and she didn’t even know when he was coming home this time. Dinner with friends was better than a frozen meal at home alone. But when Mel stepped into the kitchen she wondered if a bomb of some sort had gone off. “Liz? Uh, I don’t mean to insult you, but what’s going on in here?”

“Mel! Thank god. Did you bring the cranberries?” Liz rushed forward to snatch the bag from Mel’s arms. Not waiting for an answer, she began rifling through it’s contents.

“So, what’s Kyle’s deal?” She snagged a stick of celery from a large pile of half-sliced stalks.

“He’s watching football. But he’s supposed to be unpacking!” Liz called the last part out louder, hoping Kyle would take a hint. Immediately, the two girls heard grumbling and movement from the living room. Satisfied, she went back to inventorying Mel’s bag. “Wait, where are the carrots?”

“Carrots? You didn’t say anything about carrots.”

“Yes, I know I did. How are we supposed to have stuffing without carrots?”

“I don’t know, maybe add water and stir.”

Liz glared at her. “I don’t think so. That is not stuffing. It’s freeze dried junk.”

Mel shrugged, not really offended. Truthfully, she’d only said it to get a rise out of her friend. She seemed to be taking this whole cooking for the holidays thing a bit too seriously. “Why are you going to all this trouble, anyway? It’s not like we couldn’t just go out for pizza or something.”

“We are having a nice, pleasant, NORMAL Thanksgiving day dinner whether anyone likes it or not,” she stated through gritted teeth. She peeked out through the open bar area to Kyle. “Kyle! I need you to go to the store for me.”

“What? Can it wait till half-time? This quarter’s almost over and we’re down by-“ Kyle broke off, taking a look at Liz’s face. She had woken up in Drill Sergeant mode and he’d tried his best to stay out of her way. He had a pretty good idea why she was so wacko about this dinner, but he didn’t want to bring it up. She was craving something normal and he was afraid she wouldn’t be able to live up to her insanely high expectations of herself. So, if driving to the store for-what did she want again? Whatever it was, he would have her write it down and he would escape from this place before he had a chance to screw this up for her somehow.

“I’ll get my coat.” With a backward glance at the television, he headed for his bedroom.

A knock sounded at the door.

“Oh, Mel, can you get that? The landlord said her husband was going to stop by today with some papers they forgot to bring.”

“Sure, first it’s buying groceries, then it’s answering the door. Next, you’ll want me to get your mail and answer your phone,” Mel teased as she moved for the door. She pulled it open with a grin and was surprised to find an older man standing nervously on the doorstep. He held a Stetson in both hands, anxiously running his hands over the brim. He took one look at Mel and then back at the number on the door.

“I’m sorry, I must have the wrong place.”

“No, you’re fine. You must be the landlord. Hi, I’m Mel. Don’t worry, I don’t live here, I’m just here for the food. Liz said you had some papers for her to sign?” She looked at him expectantly. This was the landlord? It just didn’t fit. He didn’t look the part. There were hard lines on his face that spoke of harder times, but there was a gentleness to him that puzzled her. Why did it feel like she knew him? “Have we met?”

“What? No. Do Kyle Valenti and Liz Parker live here? I’m not the landlord.”

“Mel, is that Mr. Stevens?” Liz stepped out of the kitchen, drying her hands on a hand towel. She made it half-way into the living room when she froze in place.

Mel watched with interest as Liz and this man stared at each other a minute.

“Liz.” He nodded toward her, not wanting to scare her. “How are you?”

“Sheriff. I’m fine.” She took a deep breath. Why was she afraid? He wasn’t here to take her home. He’d known where she was the whole time and had never interfered with her life. She forced herself to relax, letting a smile play across her lips. “You’re the last person I expected to see, but I don’t know why I didn’t see it coming. Does Kyle know you were coming?”

“No, I’m sorry to just drop in. But the place is a little lonely without him around.”

Liz felt her heart soften a bit. She always had liked him, trusted him long before they had a reason to. “Well, you should come in. I think I need a hug.”

Relieved, Jim stepped past Mel into the living room. Without a second thought, he pulled Liz into a hug. “You look better…good.”

“Well, I’d have to look better, wouldn’t I?” Hugging Jim brought out all sorts of feelings in Liz. She’d missed the simple act of hugging. It wasn’t as if Kyle was a hugger, and she had begun to think of Jim as a second father. And today was a day for family. Suddenly, remembering Mel, she pulled away from Jim’s warm embrace. “Have you met Mel?”

Jim nodded at her again. “Not formally. I’m Jim, Kyle’s father.”

Mel’s eyes widened. Suddenly it all made sense. She took his outstretched hand and found herself smiling at him. She had just learned more about her two secretive friends in two minutes than she had the whole time they’d lived here. “Nice to meet you. Sorry about the mistaken identity thing.”

“Okay, now I’m only making one trip to the store today. So, whatever it is you need, write it down now. The game is just starting to get good and-“ Kyle looked up from zipping his jacket and found himself looking into his father’s smiling face. “Dad?”


Kyle threw himself at his father, not wanting to admit how much he had been missing the old man. The two men hugged each other, neither wanting to let go.

“I didn’t know you were coming.” He threw a sideways glance at Liz to see how she was taking the sudden appearance of his father. He didn’t want her thinking he’d known about this or planned it behind her back. But she was smiling at him and he let his own grin grow.

“It was sort of a spur of the moment thing. I was telling Liz that I didn’t mean to intrude. The house was just a little too empty this year.”

“I thought you were going out with Amy and Maria.”

“Well, this year, Michael was invited to go, and as much of an understanding we’ve come to, eating dinner with Michael Guerin is just not the family holiday I envisioned.”

Kyle grinned at the thought of Michael and his father eating together. Michael still didn’t really trust his father much farther than he could throw him despite all the help he’d given them. It probably would have been filled with uncomfortable pauses and Amy’s idle chit chat. “I can see how much fun that would be. Wow, you’re really here. This is great. Hey, have you had a tour yet?” Not waiting for an answer, he clasped a hand around his father’s neck and led him through the apartment.

Alone, Mel and Liz exchanged a look.

“So, that’s Kyle’s father? Where’s his mother?”

Knowing how important privacy was, Liz was reluctant to say anything. But it couldn’t do too much harm. “She passed away a long time ago. It’s just been Kyle and his dad for as long as I can remember.” Not wanting to think about her own family or the letter that still weighed heavy on her conscience, Liz linked arms with Mel. “C’mon. I need some help with dinner. It looks as though we just added another setting.”

“I don’t know why you assume I can cook just because I’m a female. Now, if you want your engine rebuilt, I’m your girl. But baking a turkey? Uh, no.”

“How hard could it be? Millions of people do this every year. You just toss it in the oven and a few hours later, it’s done.” She felt a renewed sense of urgency to make sure everything was perfect.

Mel looked at her skeptically. “I don’t know. If it was that simple, pizza parlors wouldn’t be open today.”


Liz took the seat Jim held out for her and she scooted closer to the beautiful antique table that had come with the apartment. Mel had done a wonderful job setting the table, the crystal glasses they had found in a cabinet glittered under the soft lighting.

“Okay, as a new Thanksgiving tradition, I think we should all list one thing we’re grateful for this year.” Kyle nodded at Mel. “Ladies first.”

She snorted at him. “Okay, I’m grateful for the sweet engine I picked up for a steal last month from this guy. He thought it was beyond hope, but all it needed was for-“ she stopped when the silence hit her. “You were probably looking for something a bit more touchy feely, huh?”

“Well, maybe not from you, but hey, if engines are what you’re thankful for, then go at it.”

Mel crossed her arms over her chest defensively. Only the presence of Kyle’s father and not wanting to ruin Liz’s dinner kept the scathing comment on her lips. “So, what are you thankful for then?”

Jim watched his son’s interaction with this girl with amusement. She was certainly spunky and would be sure to keep Kyle on his toes. He didn’t think his father radar was failing him, and was sure they weren’t dating, but the idea wasn’t too far out there. Wanting to diffuse the situation, he stepped in with the grace of all his years of skill. “Why don’t I go then? This year, I’m thankful for family and for friends, that we’re all alive and well and happy.”

“Good one, Dad. Well, I guess I’m thankful for this sweet apartment and my new job. And I’m thankful that I know I can trust everyone in this room with my life, which is something that should never be taken for granted.” He thought back to Tess and how he had trusted her and how hard her betrayal had cut.

Liz saw the look on Kyle’s face and knew what he was thinking about. It was her turn. “I’m thankful for new beginnings, for friends that love me. I’m thankful that we’re all here today, alive and safe.” A little bit sad, she raised her glass and held it high in the air. “To Alex, who couldn’t be here today to laugh with us, the best friend a girl could ask for.”

Kyle mirrored Liz’s actions, raising his own glass for their fallen friend. “To Alex, a great guy to hang with in a life and death situation.”

Jim followed the two kids, thinking back on the young kid he’d known since birth. “To Alex, who died too soon.”

Mel raised her glass, although she had no idea who this Alex was. He was obviously a friend that had died, and she paid her respect to the man that had impacted her new friends so deeply.

They all clinked glasses together, taking a long sip on the sparkling cider Jim had picked up from the store with Kyle.

“Alright, let’s dig in. I’m starving and this smells wonderful.” Kyle rubbed his hands together anxiously.

“What do you want first?”

“Uh, I’ll take a slice of the pepperoni and two supremes.”

Jim raised the lid of the closest pizza box and dished out the slices to his son.

“Yeah, sorry about the dinner, guys. Who knew you had to defrost the turkey before you baked it?”

“No complaints, Liz. You did an excellent job on the rest of the meal. Now, where are those mashed potatoes I was looking forward to?” Jim pulled out a few slices for himself, wanting to reassure Liz.

“Uh, well, they were sort of burnt.”

“Burnt? How did you-Ow!” Kyle broke off with a cry of pain as his father kicked him from under the table. “Uh, well, what about the stuffing?”

“Do you remember that smell we couldn’t get rid of?”

“Oh, right. The yams?”

“That was the small fire we had to put out that I wasn’t supposed to tell you about. Sorry, Liz.” Mel sunk into a slice of pizza before she got herself into even more trouble.

Suddenly, Liz started laughing, wiping at the tears that overflowed from her eyes. “I really am sorry about dinner. I had wanted to make this perfect meal and everything went wrong.”

“I think things turned out just fine.” Kyle looked around the table, at the small family they had created. “In fact, let’s never cook Thanksgiving dinner again. I believe strongly in supporting local businesses on days like this. Who needs yams and turkey? But oh, tell me for the love of all things good that the pumpkin pie is safe.”

“The pumpkin pie is safe. It’s store bought. Besides, the turkey is still baking. Who knows when it’ll be done.” Liz bit into her own pizza. Who ever said normal was turkey and stuffing?

“I think we should have a moment to thank all the little businesses that stay open on days like today for people like us.”

Mel sat back, listening to the chatter with a grin. But in the back of her head, she was working out the puzzle of what had happened to them. It had to be something horrible, for them both to pick up and leave their lives behind. And Kyle had mentioned something about life and death situations. Maybe the death of this Alex had been the cause. She wouldn’t pry, but she would put the small pieces she did know together and see what she came up with. She hated puzzles, after all.

posted on 15-Oct-2001 12:47:16 PM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [email] Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to R for language mostly
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 31

“Max, quit picking at your food and just eat it.”

“Sorry, Mom.” Max set down his fork quietly. He really didn’t have an appetite anyway. He wasn’t sure why he had been so restless lately, as if he was waiting for something to happen. Maybe things had just been too quiet.

Isabel finished off her stack of pancakes and took it upon herself to finish Max’s bacon. It wasn’t as if he was eating today. He was in one of his moods today it seemed. She wasn’t worried about him though, he was just cranky. She had learned how to judge him by now. Still, she would risk getting snapped at to ask him about it later.

The doorbell rang and Diane looked at Phillip in question. Phillip checked his watch, laying his newspaper aside. “Who would be here his early?”

“I’ll get it, Dad. I’m done anyway.” Isabel excused herself from the table and made her way to the door. Could it be Michael or Maria this early on a Saturday morning? It didn’t seem likely, especially since there seemed to be this new animosity that had cropped up between Max and Maria since the whole Granolith debacle earlier that summer. Things had been going along fine and then trouble. They had dropped most of their other friends and acquaintances over the summer. Isabel didn’t know about the others, but she just couldn’t seem to bring herself to worry over trivial High School things, especially since she had decided to finish up High School with the others.

She pulled the door open and came face to face with the most gorgeous green eyes she had ever seen. Instinct had her smile widening for his benefit. “Hi, there.” She judged him to be about twenty four, maybe twenty five, good height, looked as though he worked out and could have a killer smile if he ever used it. Here was potential.

“Hi, I’m looking for Phillip Evans.” He gave her a glance over, a smile playing across his lips. “You are obviously not him.”

Oh, god, she had been right about the smile. Her knees felt weak just looking at him. “Well, you’re quite the perceptive one. And who might you be?” She leaned against the door jamb, thankful she had taken the extra fifteen minutes that morning to put on a bit of makeup.

“Sorry, I’m Mark Christopher. Phillip must be your father.”

“Right again. Boy, you could make a living off that kind of perceptiveness. I’m Isabel. Is this business or pleasure?” She couldn’t figure out who this guy was and why he would have shown up for business on a Saturday at this hour.

“Business, I’m afraid. Do you mind if I come in?” Had he ever seen such a beautiful woman before? He didn’t think so. Her hair was short, cut just below the ears and he found it sexy in a way he never had before. She looked comfortable in a pair of jeans and a worn T-shirt. Her smile was inviting, but there was a wary look in her eye. He’d seen it too many times before not to recognize it. This girl had secrets.

“Oh, sorry. Please, come in.” She stepped aside, breathing in his cologne when he stepped past her. She recognized that scent, it was expensive. And she now knew all she needed to know about this man. “Please, take a seat. Is there anything I can get you?”

“Mark! What are you doing out this early?” Phillip entered the living room, moving forward to shake the younger man’s hand.

“Official business, I’m afraid. Jim asked me to come by and see if you had some time to go out to the Hudson House this morning.” Mark tried hard not to pay attention to Isabel, standing unobtrusively out of the way. It wouldn’t do any good to obsess over the beauty when her father was standing right in front of him.

“Is he still out of town?” Phillip sat on the edge of the couch.

“Yes, sir. Seems his son convinced him to stay a few days. So, he asked me to come by.”

“What’s the problem? Is Brandon okay?” Phillip switched his brain into lawyer mode, looking for potential trouble.

“No, he’s fine. It’s actually another kid out there, Ana Cole, six years old with heart problems. She was brought in earlier this year after the mother did a disappearing act for two weeks with her latest john. The neighbors found her living off of canned food and they brought her to the house.” He listed the facts from memory, hating to have to carry around paperwork wherever he went.

“Let me guess, the mother’s back?”

“You guessed it. Problem is, there’s already this family in Tucson that wants her. They came out here last month when Colleen called them from one of her lists.”

“And this family wants a lawyer to represent them? What’s wrong with Ana?”

“Diseased heart, I don’t know the technical terms, I’m afraid. I know she’s on some pretty expensive medicine though. She’ll need a transplant within the year if she wants to live.”

Phillip rubbed his hands over his face. “Give me ten minutes and I’ll come with you.”

“Dad, can Max and I come too? We won’t get in the way, promise.”

Phillip looked at his daughter in confusion. He’d actually forgotten she was there. “Sure, honey, if you want. Can you be ready in ten minutes?”

“Definitely.” She kissed him on the cheek and dashed off to find Max, hoping this would snap him out of his funk.

A half-hour later, they pulled to a stop in front of the Hudson House. It was a rambling three story brick structure that towered above them. Outside, the lawn was littered with toys of every imaginable kind and color. The sidewalk was colored in pastel pinks and blues, and as they approached the house, they saw that the windows were covered in drawings of turkeys that looked strangly like handprints.

Phillip rang the doorbell and it was immediately opened by a young woman with dark red hair pulled up on top of her head. A baby was perched on one hip and she smiled warmly at the two men. “Hey there. If you’re looking for Mom, she’s still out of town.”

“You’ll do today,” Phillip teased. “These are my children, Max and Isabel. They wanted to tag along today and see the place if you don’t mind.”

“Not at all. Nice to meet you.”

As Max watched, the baby grabbed a handful of her hair and pulled. He winced just watching, but she laughed it off, carefully untangling her hair. “You’ll have to forgive Bryan here. He’s a little sick today.”

“Is everything okay?”

“It’s fine, just the sniffles and a small fever. Probably just a cold. Please come in.” She stepped aside and let the troup into the house.

Max passed by, amazed at the small child in her arms. How could they be so small?

“It’s amazing, isn’t it?”

“What?” Max looked up at the girl for the first time. She didn’t appear to be much older than he was. From this close, he could see the light dusting of freckles along her nose and he thought it was kind of cute. Why hadn’t he ever met her before?

“How small and fragile they look. But let me tell you, they’re strong little guys.”

“How old is he?” Once again, Max’s attention was drawn back to the small child. He had released his grip on her hair, but now he was craning his head to get a better look at Max.

“Six months. He’s been here with us for a month now. But he’s a lucky ducky, aren’t you?” She bounced the baby and made him laugh. “He’s being adopted by a wonderful family pretty soon.”

“Do you usually do things like that? Just keep the kids until they’re adopted?” It seemed weird to have a revolving door like that.

“Mostly. They usually need a place to go until the paperwork has a chance to go through. But we get a lot of kids that aren’t as lucky as Bryan. Not many people are willing to adopt children with diseases or health conditions. So, they usually stay here with us as long as we can keep them.” She watched Max study the baby. He hadn’t really so much as glanced her way yet. Some people were just drawn to children, but he seemed to be sad looking at Bryan. And she always was a sucker for a sad face. “Say, would you mind watching him for a minute while I help out your father?”

“Me? But I don’t-“

“You’ll be fine. Just don’t drop him.” She smiled at him, idly wondering if he was available. It never hurt to keep an eye out. She hurried off in the direction of her mother’s office to help the two men waiting on her.

Max faced the small boy Sara had placed in his arms. He smiled up at Max and starting making gurgling noises. Despite himself, Max smiled back, forgetting his discomfort at being so close to the baby. He had no experience with them, and had never given them a moment’s thought until Tess had announced that she was pregnant. Truthfully, they had never thought they could have children and so it had been easy to glance past them.

“Who have you got there?” Isabel had watched Max handle the baby and had been ready to step in and help. At first, she had wondered if it would set him back to be around a baby after everything that had happened, but when he had smiled down at the little bundle, she knew he would be okay.

“Bryan and I are hanging out, I think. I didn’t know they got this small. I mean, look at these fingers, and they have fingernails! Look at how small they are.”

“My brother the genius.” But he was kind of cute.

“So, what’s up with you and Mark?”

“Hmm? What do you mean?” Playing dumb came natural to her after all these years.

“Don’t do that with me. I saw the eyes you two were making at each other all the way over here. He’s a cop, you know.”

“Thank you, Max. I hadn’t noticed when I climbed into the squad car. Thank god you were here to clear that up.” She took a seat on the couch, picking up a small toy car and spinning the wheels.

“It’s not safe, Is.”

“Max, don’t you think I know that? God, I just met him. I’m not planning our wedding yet or anything.” But she had been imagining how wonderful it would be to kiss those lips. Sadly, it would never be though. Max was right and she hated him for it. “Nothing is going to happen with Mark. It’s just a flirtation. He’s cute and he’s rich. But he’s not the forever kind.” No one would be for her. She knew that now. Alex might have been but he was gone. “Can we just play with the baby for a minute?”

“Sure, Is.” Carefully, Max handed the baby to Isabel, watching as she cooed at him. Had he caught a flash of loneliness in her eyes? Could she feel as empty as he did? He would save that conversation for another day.

Max climbed down on the floor with his sister and helped push a car along the floor, delighted when the baby clapped his chubby hands at him.

“Sorry that took so long.” Sara rushed back into the room, half-afraid she would find chaos, but found Bryan climbing up Max’s broad chest, pulling at his short hair. And when Max laughed, she thought her heart was going to melt. Oh yeah, she was a goner. “So, I see you two have acquainted yourselves.” She turned to Isabel, surprised to find her glaring at her. “You must be Isabel. I’m Sara.”

“Nice to meet you.” But she made sure there was just the slightest hint of frost in her tone. Enough girls had hurt her brother. The last thing Max needed was another one falling for the wounded puppy routine.

“Okay, I have what I need. Sara, good to see you again. Tell your mom I’ll look over these papers and give her a call next week. Kids, you ready to go?”

“Yeah, Dad. Let’s get out of here.” Isabel stood, taking the baby from Max and handing him to Sara.

“Sure. I’ll be out in a minute. I wanted to talk to Sara for a minute if that’s okay.”

“We’ll be outside.” Phillip juggled the large stack of papers and gratefully handed over half of them to Isabel when she came over to help. With one last glare over her shoulder for Sara, she followed her father and Mark out the door.

“What can I do for you, Max?”

“I was just wondering if I could come back sometime? I have a lot of free time on my hands and I think it would be fun to work here.”

“Oh, well, we don’t really have any money to pay you.” Why had she thought he would ask her out? She didn’t even know him and he paid more attention to the children than he did to her. But still, it would be nice to see him around again.

“I’m not looking for a paying job. I was thinking about volunteering. I could talk to your mother when she gets back if I need to.” He didn’t know why he felt so strongly about this. It just felt right being in this house, helping.

“You want to volunteer here? I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but it’s not exactly a glamorous job, especially for someone your age.” God, could she sound any more like her mother? When had she become a complete spaz?

“I’m not exactly like other guys my age. So, is it a problem?” He knew he was being pushy, but he couldn’t help it. There was some force driving him here. And he had learned by now to trust his instincts.

“No, not at all. I’ll have to check in with my mother first though. Can you give me a call back in a few days or come back by?”

“Sure. Will Wednesday be too soon?”

“No, Wednesday is fine.” And it couldn’t come soon enough.

“Great. It was nice meeting you, Sara.”

“Nice meeting you too, Max.” She watched him tickle the baby one last time before heading out the door. He was this great big ball of mystery to her. When he looked into her eyes, she could swear she saw something there. But what had it been? He may have been right when he said he wasn’t like other guys. Because she had never felt like this before. He was coming back Wednesday. He seemed too impatient to merely call back. He would be here as bright and early as he could. And she would be ready for him. And if he turned out to be single, and she could manage to not trip over her tongue, then life was about to get interesting.

posted on 15-Oct-2001 12:47:51 PM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [email] Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to R for language mostly
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 32

“Kyle? Kyle, are you here?” Liz walked through the door to her new apartment, still giddy over the newness of it, throwing her keys down on the small table by the door. She picked up a stack of mail and began flipping through it as she walked through the living room.

“Sorry, Liz, just me.”

“Oh, Sheriff, you scared me. I thought you were leaving this morning.”

“Please, haven’t we talked about this a hundred times? It’s Jim.”

“Fine, Jim, you scared the life out of me.” She smiled at him, glad Kyle had talked him into staying for the long Thanksgiving weekend. “So, is Kyle around?”

“No, some girl called and he apologized to me and ran out of here. Does that happen a lot?”

Liz chuckled. “That must have been Angelia. She’s his newest girl this week, and what Angelia wants, she gets.”

“Well, it’s good to see some things never change. I hate to say my son is a player, but…” he trailed off, not wanting to finish the sentence.

“But he is,” Liz finished for him. She loved Kyle dearly, but he seemed to think of himself as god’s gift to women.

Jim winced. “You know, he wasn’t always like that. As I recall, you two were a pretty good couple.”

Liz blinked hard. “Us? As in Kyle and I? Are we remembering the same times? Don’t you start that parental thing with me. Kyle and I are hardly couple material. At best, we were good friends. There just wasn’t any spark or chemistry. And then…”

Jim saw the hint of sadness that filled her large eyes and he regretted putting it there. But he felt like she needed to talk to someone. “And then you met Max.”

Liz sunk to the couch, knowing she couldn’t run from the conversation forever. And she really didn’t want to. “I guess you could say that. Let’s just say I met the real Max.”

Jim took a seat beside her. “How are you really, Liz?”

She blew out a deep breath. “I don’t know. Some days I’m great. I can go hours without thinking about what I left behind or how much I miss everyone. But other days everything just sucks, and I want to run home and hide.”

“Nobody would think less of you if you did.”

“No, but I would think less of myself. When Alex was killed…it sort of threw everything out of whack. No, I think that happened when Tess showed up in town. Nothing was quite the same after that. There’s just so much I still need to work out in my head. If I go back now, it would be so easy to fall back into the familiar pattern with Max and everyone else. In Roswell, I was expected to be a certain person. And I didn’t want to be mild-mannered Liz Parker with the perfect boyfriend and life. I hated that image, who I became and what happened because of it.”

“If I told you you weren’t to blame for Alex’s death, you wouldn’t believe me, would you?”

She smiled at him, covering his large hand with her own. “No, but I would appreciate the gesture.”

Jim nodded. There were just some things she would have to figure out and come to terms with on her own. “Have you talked to your parents yet?”

She had known the question was coming, but it still agitated her. “No. I can’t yet. What would I say to them? They don’t even know why I really left. What am I supposed to say when they start asking questions?”

“Why don’t you write them a letter then? Just to let them know you’re alive and well. Liz, I hate to play the parent, but when Kyle said he was leaving, it tore at my heart. Sure, I knew he was leaving for college anyway soon, but to lose your only child so suddenly, it cuts deep. And your parents don’t even know where you are. I can’t begin to imagine what they’re feeling.” He saw the look on her face and softened a bit. She was really hurting over this. “Liz, I’m not trying to guilt you into doing something you’re not ready to do. But I could deliver something to them if you didn’t want them to know where you are. They’re worried about you.”

“I’ll tell you what, I’ll think about it. I hear you. But I just can’t talk to them yet. I know I should, but I just can’t.” She rose from the couch with the sudden burning desire to read her parent’s letter. She walked halfway to her room before turning around. “You’ll still be here awhile, won’t you?”

“I’ll come say goodbye before I leave.” He hesitated a minute. “Liz, when Tess was living with us, I treated her like the daughter I never had. But it never felt right. I just wanted you to know that if you ever need anything at all, whatever time of the day or night, call me.”

Liz smiled warmly, understanding his unspoken words. “I may not call you Dad, but you’ve always felt like one. Thank you for trying to help, and for keeping my secrets.” Not wanting to cry, she fled into her room, throwing her books into a heap on the floor. She headed for the drawer that held her parent’s letter and took it out.

She turned the worn envelope over in her hands, feeling the smooth texture. It was now or never. She sliced through the flap with her fingernail and slowly pulled out the letter. Immediately, her mother’s flowing handwriting jumped out at her. She could almost smell her perfume, gardenias. With a deep breath, she opened the single sheet and began reading.

Dear Liz,

Your dad and I thought about the best way to write you this letter and we finally decided that I would put our thoughts and feelings onto paper. First of all, we miss you, and we love you. Honey, we know things were rough for you after Alex died and we’re sorry we weren’t there for you more. Maybe we should have seen how troubled you were by it all. And you’ll never know how much it hurts us that we couldn’t help you. We know there’s more to why you left, that we’ll probably never know exactly what was going on in your head that night two weeks ago, but we can accept that. We just want to know that you’re safe and happy wherever you are.

And saying that, I fear that one of the reasons you left was because you found out somehow the secret we’ve been keeping from you. If you already know, we hope this letter will help you. If not, it’s time you did know. But we regret not being able to tell you in person. Honey, you were adopted. Now, it’s not as heartless and cold as it may seem. We may not have brought you into this world, but we loved you with everything we had. And there were years that went by where we had actually forgotten that we didn’t make you ourselves. Your father and I think you somehow found this out and it hurt you that we never told you the truth. But we kept telling ourselves that it would be better to wait until you were old enough to understand. But we never stopped to see that not only were you old enough, but sometimes the truth doesn’t set you free.

We wouldn’t have brought anything up in this letter if we didn’t think you weren’t hurting over this. We are your real family. You were brought to us, a small miracle of pink limbs and a cry that could wake the dead, and we fell in love with you. In the letter you left on your bed for us, you said you were going on some kind of journey. And if part of that journey means you’re trying to find your birth parents, we’ll understand. But I’m afraid we can’t help you. Not because we don’t want to, but because we don’t know anything. Your grandmother brought you to us saying your family was gone and she helped us adopt you through less than legal channels. Phillip Evans helped us with the paperwork and he knew even less than we did. But when your grandmother passed away, she took any information about where you came from with her. I always told myself that I would ask her one day, but I was afraid without ever knowing why. Now, it’s another regret on a long list.

Liz, please don’t be angry with us. Your father and I love you very much and we respected your wishes not to look for you. And you’ll never know how hard that has been. We should have told you from the start that you weren’t ours, but we were afraid. We only hope that we don’t lose you over this. Please just let us know somehow that you’re okay. We love you and worry about you in a way that only parents can. Don’t forget about us and we hope that wherever you are, you’re happier than you were here and you find whatever it is you’re looking for. Remember always that we love you and that no matter what happens or what you find, you’ll always be our daughter.

With love,
Mom and Dad

Liz set the paper down with shaky hands. Her brain was overloaded with information. She was adopted? How could that be? Her whole life there had never been any indication, any clue that she had been adopted illegally. And her grandmother was involved? She had found her and brought her to her parents? Was that why they had always shared a special bond that her parents had never been able to achieve with her? Hundreds of questions flew through her head until they threatened to overwhelm her.

Deciding she had to only take a few deep breaths, she forced herself to calm down. She would make a list. That’s what she’d do. She would write out a list of questions she had now. Some of them she would ask her parents someday and others she would have to find answers to herself. But first and most importantly, she had to write a letter back to her parents. They were tearing themselves up over whether she was upset and had left them for good. How could she explain that her leaving had nothing whatsoever to do with them? Her heart was even heavier than before. She’d had this letter for weeks now while they thought they had done something wrong that had caused her to leave.

Moving with a purpose, she pulled a fresh sheet of paper from her notebook and began writing, the words coming fast and furious from her brain.

Dear Mom and Dad,

First of all, I want to apologize to you for not writing to you sooner. Kyle did give me your letter, but I was too weak to open it. That is, until today. And I’m sorry you’ve been thinking you did something to drive me away. Nothing could be further from the truth. I left for reasons that I can never fully explain to you because I’m not sure you’d even believe me.

I am happy here. I’ve transferred to the local high school and I’m still planning to attend college in the fall, though I’m not sure which one yet. Kyle moved here a few weeks ago and while I gave him a hard time at first, I’m glad he’s here now. He’s become this rock that I depend on. We moved in together last week, and before your parental instincts rise up, we’re just friends. Kyle and I will never on any planet at any time ever be anything more. So, don’t worry. But know that he’s like this older, sometimes annoying big brother that watches out for me more than I’d like for him to. And he’s turned out to be a hundred times more meticulous and dependable than anyone ever gave him credit for in Roswell.

The Sheriff came to see us for Thanksgiving and I’m going to send this letter back with him. I’ve asked him not to tell anyone where I am, not to hurt you, but because I’m still afraid to talk to anyone. If I went back now, I’d hate myself for it, but I still miss everyone more than I thought possible. We took some pictures that I’m going to send copies of too. I know it’s not a lot, but it’s all I can do right now. I know how selfish I sound, but I feel like I have to be so I can regain some kind of sanity. You were right when you said that Alex’s death threw me off balance. Truthfully, nothing will ever be the same and I’m trying to figure out a way to make sense of everything.

I can’t promise you anything right now other than I won’t forget about you. And no matter who actually brought me into this world, I am your daughter. It would have been easier to hear it from you guys, but I don’t hold any bad feelings towards you two. You did what you felt was the right thing for everyone and I understand that more than you might think. Your letter has given me a lot to think about and I will. I won’t disappear off the face of the earth. I want to call you, but I don’t know when I can. The Sheriff knows where we are and how to get in touch with us if any kind of emergency comes up.

I miss you guys and I love you. You’ll never know how much it means to me that you’re giving me the chance to do this. Tell Maria that I love her too and I’ll get in touch with her when I can. Please don’t give up on me. I’ll come back someday and when I do, I’ll be strong enough to face everything I left behind in Roswell.

I love you guys,

Liz sat back and reread the letter to her parents. It wasn’t much, but at least they would know she was alive and well. She pushed back the growing number of questions her parent’s letter had brought on. She wasn’t quite ready to tell anyone about it yet. There was some force telling her to keep the information to herself until she could make sense of it. She would have to call Mr. Evans and find out what she could from him. But could he keep it a secret from Max? She would have to think about that for awhile. Without understanding why, an excitement filled her. This was what she had been sensing was coming, what Alex had told her about when she lay sobbing at his gravesite. Something was going to happen and it was finally beginning.

posted on 25-Oct-2001 10:44:45 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [email] Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to R for language mostly
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 33

“That’s two Will Smith burgers, a cheese fry and three cherry cokes.” Maria deposited the plates in front of the three aliens and couldn’t resist leaning in closer to Michael for a quick kiss. As predicted, he tried to pull her in for a longer kiss, but she sidestepped him easily. She still had an hour left on her shift and Mr. Parker had been a stickler about keeping personal time personal.

“Later, Spaceboy,” she promised, winking at him before she disappeared behind the counter.

Michael watched her go with a smile. She had been so depressed since Liz had left that he’d worried about her day and night. But after she had woken up that morning last month and kidnapped Max, she had been better. She still wasn’t her old bubbly self, and he suspected she never would be again. But the simple act of getting up and going to work without Liz didn't seem to depress her anymore. And it was a good enough start for him.

The door chimed behind them, signaling yet another customer. Maria’s head popped up, an automatic smile on her lips that died when she recognized the face.

“Sheriff. When did you get back into town?” She couldn’t help the bitterness that crept into her voice. He knew where Liz and Kyle were, had been to see them for Thanksgiving. And Maria still had no idea where her best friend lived or how she was doing.

“Monday night. Say, are the Parkers in?”

“Yeah, is everything okay?” Oh, god, was it Liz? Had something happened? Panic seized Maria’s heart.

“Everything’s fine, Maria. I just have something for them.” Knowing the trio would be sitting in their regular booth, Jim wasn’t surprised to find them watching him. Most of the information they had gained in their life had been obtained from eavesdropping. He supposed some habits died hard.

Max had been watching Jim since he’d walked in the door. He’d been to see Liz, he would have bet his life on it. And he had shown up to tell the Parkers about it, about how she was doing. And as much as he wanted to hang onto every word, he knew no one would talk about her while he was in the room. Maria had more hope n her eyes than he’d seen in months and he was afraid Jim would pull the Parkers into another room and Maria would miss her first chance to know how her best friend was doing. But if he left, it would be a far less uncomfortable situation.

Michael was wrapped up in the glow in Maria’s eyes when movement caught his attention. Max had risen from the booth and was dropping a few bills on the table.

“Maxwell, you got a hot date or something?”

“I just have some things to do. You guys stay.” He was thankful for the second car his parents had bought for Isabel. It meant he could have the freedom to drive for hours without having to worry about leaving her stranded somewhere. And he’d picked up the habit of wandering endlessly lately.

“But I thought we were hanging out.” Isabel eyed her brother carefully. Where was he off to in such a hurry? “Will you be home for dinner?”

“I don’t know. I’ll call.” Max grabbed his keys from the table and fled out the door.

“What’s his deal?” Michael moved Max’s untouched plate of fries closer. There was no sense in wasting food. “I thought the mood swings were getting better.”

“They are.” Isabel watched Max peel out of the parking lot.

“Could have fooled me.”

“For gods sake, Michael, you were there when we found the Granolith.” She’d dropped her voice to an angry whisper. “You saw what it did to him to find the damn thing empty. And now those dreams he’s been having. He’s remembering his past life on top of trying to sort out what from the last year has been real and what Tess planted in his head. So, I think he’s entitled to a few mood swings. You of all people should get that.”

“Are you saying I’m moody?” But he already felt guilty. Isabel was right. Max had been through a rough couple of weeks. From the mush in his brain, they had figured out that a lot of the things they remembered happening were Tess’s made up memories.

Max had confided in Michael that he was pretty sure that the sex had been real enough. But he wasn’t sure if the baby had been real or just Tess’s way of getting him to Antar and to Khivar. But before Michael could mutter out an apology, Maria had come back with the Parkers.

“Sheriff, is everything okay?” Jeff was hot on his wife’s heels, practically running from the kitchen.

The Crashdown was practically empty this time of night, and Jim didn’t see any harm in talking where they were. “Everything’s fine.” He saw their anxiety and immediately sought to ease it. “I just have a message from Liz.”

“Liz? You heard from Liz? Is she okay? Everything’s alright?” Nancy had taken hold of Jeff’s arm and he had pulled his wife into his arms, both bracing for bad news.

Michael had slid out of the booth to stand behind Maria and offer support.

Jim smiled at them. “She’s fine, healthy and happy. I went to spend a few days with Kyle and Liz was there. It seems they rented out an apartment together, close to the school. In fact, it’s so nice I’m thinking of moving in with them.” When no one seemed vaguely amused, he decided to give up. “She’s okay,” he repeated. “She asked me to give this to you.” Jim pulled out Liz’s letter and was caught off guard when it was snatched from his hand.

Nancy and Jeff ripped open the envelope then held out the letter to read. Nancy covered her mouth with her hand, silent tears making their way down her cheeks. Maria watched them read the letter while she practically danced from foot to foot to hold back until she was included.

Jeff finished the letter first. “What pictures was she talking about?”

“That’s why it took me so long to get out here. I had to have them developed.” He handed them the package of photos.

The group slid into a booth, the Parkers on one side and Michael and Maria on the other. Isabel had risen to stand beside Jim near the booth.

“Look at her. She cut her hair.” Nancy ran a finger across the glossy surface of the first photograph.

Jim glanced over their shoulders to see which pictures they were looking at. Liz and Kyle were smiling at the camera, wearing matching lopsided grins. The next one showed the moment Mel had captured when Liz had been trying to sneak up on Kyle and Jim to finish a pillow fight Kyle had started. The group flipped through picture after picture, occasionally asking Jim what a picture was of. When they reached the images of Liz and Mel posing, Maria’s eyes turned sad as she asked who the girl was.

“Uh, that’s Mel. She’s a friend of theirs.” Jim knew Maria like his own flesh and blood and he knew she felt replaced in Liz’s life. He made a mental note to talk to her later and reassure her.

“She certainly looks better.” Jeff couldn’t stop staring at a single picture of his baby. She wasn’t posing, but was staring out a large window. She was wearing the same look of sadness that he’d come to recognize in her over the last year. But she looked older to him, wiser if possible. And he’d missed it. His little girl wasn’t so little anymore.

Nancy had reached for Jeff’s hand again, joy in her heart over knowing her Liz was okay. But she couldn’t help but be jealous of Jim Valenti. Not only did he have the freedom to talk to his son and Liz, but he had been able to see them, spend the holidays with them. And it stabbed her deep.

“Thank you, Sheriff,” she managed to choke out, unable to tear her eyes away from the pictures. “If you talk to her again, tell her how much it meant to us.”

“She knows.” He hesitated to say more, not wanting to overstep his bounds. “She’ll come back one day. She just needs some time to figure some things out. She misses you.”

“It helps. Thank you, Jim.”

Jim nodded, “I’ll see you guys around. Maria, do you need a ride home later?”

Maria nodded, not sure how he knew the Jetta was in the shop. She supposed things between him and her mother were getting more serious. “Yeah.”

“I’ll come back by later then. Good night, everyone.”

Michael watched the Sheriff exit the building before turning to Maria. “Are you okay?”

Maria eyed the image of Liz and Mel smiling at the camera. Then she forced a smile back on her face for Michael. “I’m fine. Why wouldn’t I be?”


Max drove without purpose, without aim. He knew the Parkers would drill the Sheriff for information on Liz, so they would more than likely be there for awhile. Which meant that hang out spot was dead for the night. He tried not to think about it. He knew Liz was okay, safe at least. They may have been separated, and her trust in him may have been broken, but the connection between them that had always been present still hummed steadily. It was the only comfort he had left these days.

He pulled the Jeep to a stop, surprised to find that he had wound his way through town to sit in front of the Hudson House. He hadn’t meant to come here, and he certainly didn’t want to seem like a pest. But since he was here, he may as well go in. If he was bothering anyone or in the way, he would simply leave.

After the second knock on the door, he began to feel foolish. What if they weren’t even here? Or they were so busy he was bothering them? He turned to go just as the door opened with a creak. An older woman with red hair peppered with gray stood in the doorway, her smile wide when she found Max looking more than a bit lost.

“Hi, can I help you?”

“I’m Max Evans. You know my father, Phillip. We came by here last weekend with him and I think I met your daughter.”

“Sara? Yes, I remember her telling me about you now. You wanted to volunteer here, right?”

Max let out a breath. At least she had a clue who he was. “Yes. I’m sorry to just come by like this. She said you might be back today, but if it’s a bad time I can come back.”

“No, please come in.” She opened the door wide and led Max into her office.

Max followed patiently. He hadn’t really had a chance to see much of the inside of the house last time he came. The floors were a polished wood and despite the clutter of toys they had to carefully step over, the interior was unbelievably clean. When they had reached Colleen’s office, Max found himself seated in a plush armchair facing her from across her desk.

“So, tell me, Max, do you have any experience with children?”

Max swallowed hard. “No, I’m afraid not.”

“Any experience with any volunteer work?”


“Why do you want to help here? Sara told you that we don’t have much money here, and what we do have we give to the kids. I’m afraid we don’t have any money to pay you.”

“I’m not looking for money.” Max sat forward, struggling to put into words something he didn’t quite understand himself. “From the moment I heard about this place from my dad, what you do here touched me. You help people, take in children that have no place left to go. And you not only take them in, but you do it with a smile. I want to be a part of that. I want to help if I can in any small way. I have a part-time job, but it’s nothing that isn’t flexible the few days I actually work a week. I know I don’t have any experience with kids much less sick ones, but I know what it’s like to not have anywhere to go, to feel like you don’t belong. The foster home my sister and I stayed in before we were adopted wasn’t nearly as nice as the home you have here. And I guess I feel like I’m giving something back.” Max knew he was red. He hadn’t meant to say that much, wasn’t sure really what had gotten into him. But he knew that he felt a vibe from this house, and he didn’t want to overly question it. He just felt like he belonged here.

“I’ll tell you what, Max. I like you and I think I can trust you, especially if you’re anything like your dad. Can you come by tomorrow? Sara will be free and I’ll have her show you around, introduce you to some of the older kids. Then we’ll see how you like things.”

“Definitely. Thank you, Mrs. Hudson.” Max rose to shake her hand.

“Please, it’s Colleen. And you shouldn’t be thanking me yet. These kids are a handful. You’ll be pulling out your hair in less than a week.” She shook his hand, noting the determination in his eyes. Yes, her daughter had been right about him. He looked eager, almost as if he was trying to fill something empty inside of him. She’d seen enough of that kind of sadness to last her a lifetime. And just because a child was adopted didn’t necessarily mean that feeling of not belonging went away. Sometimes they just grew up. It looked as though she had herself a new ward to watch out for.

Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [email] Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to R for language mostly
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 34

Liz snapped off another round of shots on her camera and then stood back. Aware of the cramp in her back for the first time, she arched, stretching her abused muscles. She’d been in the park for an hour now and Kyle had been right when he’d said the fresh air would do them all some good.

He’d organized a football game with some friends, who had invited a few more of their friends. And by the time they were all gathered, an impromptu party had formed. The guys had been playing for well over an hour and Liz hadn’t been able to resist pulling out her camera and taking a few pictures. From there, everything around her had jumped out at her and demanded attention. She’d taken pictures of the trees and flowers, as well as the park’s children playing on the swings. She had a quick flash of flying through the air on a swing, laughing as Alex pushed her higher and higher. And she smiled at the memory.

“Heads up!”

Liz was so engrossed in her thoughts, she never heard the quick shout or the thundering footsteps headed in her direction. Ten seconds later, she found herself coming into contact with a very hard body and the world spun off it’s axis as she crashed to the floor.

“Whoa. Sorry about that. I was trying to save you from being hit in the head with the ball.”

Liz gingerly placed a hand to the back of her head, wincing slightly as she found a tender spot. “My hero,” she muttered.

“Here, let me help you up.”

A hand broke into her field of vision and she took it, being pulled back onto her feet.

“I really am sorry about that. Dan tried to warn you, but I guess you didn’t hear. Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I think so.” Liz looked up for the first time and came face to face with her attacker. He was tall, with sandy blond hair that looked just a hint too long as it curled over his ears. He was wearing the same uniform as the other guys, a ragged jersey and shorts, both soaked in sweat from a hard game. But the muscles that peaked out from behind the cloth were quite impressive. And that was when she started thinking maybe she did have a head injury. Since when did she notice things like that? And why was she still staring at his face? His eyes were all cloudy with concern for her and she liked it.

“Liz! Are you okay?” Kyle came sprinting across the field when he saw Liz go down. He’d been relieved to see her back on her feet, but she still looked a bit shaky. “Maybe you should sit back down.”

“I’m fine, Kyle. Where’s my camera?” She began looking around wildly for her equipment, saying a quick prayer that it hadn’t been crumpled.

“I’ve got it. Don’t worry.” Mel had pulled Liz’s camera off the floor, knowing she would be more worried about it than her own health. The girl was so predictable.

“I tried to stop in time, but I couldn’t.” The man continued to explain.

Realizing their hands were still joined together, Liz looked down at them with an amused grin. The man immediately dropped her hand, embarrassed by his own actions.

“I’m fine, really.” She turned her attention back to the man. “I’m Liz. Nice to meet you.”

“Tag.” He accepted her offered hand and shook it carefully.

“As in ‘You’re it?’” Mel found that she couldn’t resist the comment. Tag was staring at her friend like he was afraid she was going to fall to pieces any minute.

“Exactly.” Liz was smiling at him, and he knew he was acting like an idiot, but he really hadn’t meant to hurt her. Dan had thrown a long pass and they’d seen a bit too late that someone was in the way.

“Hey, guys! Are you playing or what?”

Liz glanced back at the guys on the makeshift field. They had seen that she was okay and wanted to resume playing now. “Go play. I’m fine.”

“Are you sure? Maybe you should go home and lie down.” Kyle turned to Mel, his brow creased with worry. “She should go home.”

“Am I not standing right here?” Liz gave Kyle a little push. “Go play. I’m going to move over there where it’s a little safer. Have fun. You too,” she glanced at Tag. “C’mon, Mel.” Liz linked her arm through Mel’s and the two of them walked off together.

“Are you really okay?” Mel whispered to Liz as they walked.

“Let me put it this way, if you let go of my arm, I’ll probably fall.”

“Okay. Let’s find you a seat then and you can impress everyone with your resilience.”

Tag turned to Kyle as the girls walked away. “She’s okay, right?”

“Liz? She’s tough alright. They both are.” He watched Mel support Liz across the field, taking in the full view of Mel’s tight behind in her leather pants. Did the girl ever not wear leather?

Tag examined the way Kyle’s eyes followed the two girls. “You and Liz, you’re not…”

“Hmm, what? Liz and I? No way, no how.”


Kyle froze, not liking the way he’d said it. “Hold on a minute here. Why do you ask?”

“No reason. I was thinking of asking her out myself. You know, if she survives the mild concussion I probably gave her.”

“Oh, you don’t want to do that.”

“Why not?” From where Tag was standing, there wasn’t any reason why he shouldn’t ask her out. Now that the shock and fear were subsiding, he was able to take in her appearance. She was petite and had some fire in her. She hadn’t lit into him for knocking her down, even when she should have. And besides that, she was gorgeous.

“Oh, well, she’s pretty boring and hard to get along with.”

“She didn’t look like it to me.” Tag started off in the direction of the field again, Kyle following hot on his heels.

“Well, she is trust me. And then there’s that weird rash she can’t get rid of.”

“Uh, huh. So, she’ll need someone to help her rub lotion on her.” For some reason, Kyle was trying to dissuade him from asking Liz out, and it amused him. He’d only known Kyle for a few days, having met him through one of their mutual friends, and he seemed like an okay guy. But he was playing mother hen here. Why didn’t he want him to go out with his friend?

Kyle swore to himself. Why wasn’t this working? If anything, his list of things wrong with Liz only seemed to make this guy more interested. And the last thing she needed was to date someone this soon. He looked up and noticed that Tag was already half way down the field. “Did I mention she’s gay?”

Liz and Mel sat out and watched the rest of the game. Liz was still a little light headed and had decided to give her camera a rest. But Mel had been distracted by an elderly couple on a picnic bench. Liz had given her the go ahead and she had disappeared to try to convince the couple to pose for her.

Alone, Liz allowed herself to relax. She was already feeling better, the incident behind her. But Tag had been really sweet, worrying about her. She didn’t know why her mind kept going back to this guy. Sure, okay, he was kind of nice looking, in an All American Good Looks kind of way. But she’d known dozens of guys like him and hadn’t had any sort of interest in them. Maybe it was his eyes. They had a spark of something adventurous and alive, always looking out for something more. She used to have that spark, before she had learned to live in the shadows and not call attention to herself or her actions.

Before she knew it, the game was over and she watched as they broke up, some making plans for another game the next day. She rose on shakier legs than she would have liked and tried to bend back down to retrieve her bags.

“Here, let me help you with that.”

She straightened to find Tag smiling at her as he bent to pick up her bags. “Thanks.” Oh, yeah, it was that spark in his eye that was so amazing. What had it been like to live your whole life with a thirst for life, never knowing the fear of death lingering in every face around you? She couldn’t remember.

“Did you drive? Because, no offense, but you’re not looking so good.”

“No, actually I walked over.” Which was going to become a problem if she wanted to get home. She supposed Kyle would be happy enough to go home and get his car to pick her up in.

“Well, let me offer you a lift home. I promise not to cause any more head injuries to you today.” He smiled at her, trying to look as harmless as possible.

“I’m not really sure that’s a good idea.” It made her sad to say no, and confused her when she realized she wanted to say yes.

“Look, I’ve already hurt you today. The least I can do is make sure you get home safely.”

Kyle loped over to where Mel stood, snapping the last of her role of film on an elderly couple. Somehow, she had managed to get them to cuddle together, posing for her. Which just proved that she was amazing in every way possible. But in his haste to join her side, he hadn’t seen the children’s sand bucket half buried in the sand and he managed to hook his foot, sending him sprawling into the sand. Several children had noticed and had started pointing and laughing. Never one to miss a beat, Kyle bounced back onto his feet and took a deep bow for them all.

“No wonder you’re such a hit with the ladies. You save that move for all your women, Slick, or just the special ones?” Mel took one last picture of the couple and then set down her camera. “Thanks. You guys are wonderful. I’ll have these developed in a few days and I promise to send you copies of them all.”

Kyle watched as they left, hand in hand. “What did you do to them?”

“Nothing. I just asked them to pose for a few pictures. They’ve been together fifty five years in January.” She sighed, despite herself. “Doesn’t that sound impossibly long?”

“I don’t know, it sounds kind of nice. It must be good to know you’ll be with someone for the rest of your life.”

Mel looked at him, surprised by his comment.


“Nothing. Say, isn’t that Tag over by Liz?” She wasn’t comfortable with the emotions churning inside her, and she knew Liz being drooled over by some guy would be enough of a distraction to change the subject.

“Where?” Kyle scanned the field for Liz’s head, swearing when he found them together. “I thought I told him she wasn’t interested.”

“How do you know if she’s interested or not?”

“I just know. The last think Liz needs right now is another bastard getting her hopes up and breaking her heart.”

Mel watched Kyle spring off to defend Liz’s virtue. She had already figured that Liz had been hurt by a guy, but it never helped to have it confirmed. She followed Kyle quickly. Someone was going to have to rescue the girl from Kyle’s brotherly interference.

“Liz. Hey, are you ready to go now? George is going to give us all a ride home, you know to our apartment, where we live together, you and I, alone.”

Liz grinned at Kyle’s none too subtle hints. “Yeah, I’m ready. It was nice meeting you, Tag. Maybe I’ll see you around.”

Kyle took Liz’s bags from Tag’s shoulder and couldn’t resist the smug look he sent the other boy. He had won this round. Oh, yes, he had won. And if he had anything to say about it, Tag would never get the chance to put his slick hands on Liz. He knew all too well when men wanted, and Liz was too good for that sort of thing. He had come to Flat Creek to protect her, and protect her he would.

Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [email] Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to R for language mostly
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 35

“Hello? Is anybody here?” Max opened the door to the Hudson House, listening for sounds of life. He’d been warned that often they couldn’t hear the door and no one would answer when he arrived. So, he entered cautiously, moving towards the sounds of a baby’s cry. He sidestepped a line of toy soldiers on the bottom step and on the second floor, narrowly had a narrow miss with a lone roller skate.

“Colleen? Sara?” He peeked into a room and found Sara covered head to toe in baby powder, and Ben squirming atop a large table.

“Sara? Are you okay?” He stepped into the room slowly, not wanting to scare her out of the daze she seemed to be in.

“Max! Thank god you’re here. I know I was supposed to show you around and everything today, but I have a semi-emergency and I could really use your help.”

“Sure. What do you need?”

“Well, Mom and a friend of hers took the rest of the zoo to the park for awhile but I stayed with Ben and Ana. Well, Ben’s running a pretty high fever and I can’t take him anywhere near Ana right now.”

“The little girl with the heart problem my dad is helping?”

“Yes. So, could you keep her company, play with her? Whatever she wants, just don’t let her get too excited.”

“Uh, okay. I suppose.”

“Great. Thanks, Max.” Sara strode over to an intercom in the corner and pushed a button. “Ana? Sweety, are you there?”

“Yes,” came a timid reply a minute later.

“Honey, a friend of mine is coming up to play with you for awhile. His name is Max and he’s okay to talk to, okay?”


Sara released the button with a smile. “Ana’s upstairs, down the hall on the right.” Trusting Ana was in good hands, Sara turned back to the baby and the dilemma of trying to keep his fever down. She’d learned from her mother how to make snap judgements with people. And Max Evans had not only passed through her but her mother as well.

Uncertain of where he was going or even what he was doing, Max backed up to the stairs and climbed up to the third level. The soft voice of a small child caught his ear and he followed it to an open bedroom door.

A little girl sat on her bed, indian-style under a fluffy pink blanket with butterflies. Her dark hair hung around her face, hiding it from his view. She had a Barbie doll in each hand and a dozen brightly colored doll outfits lay strewn on the bed around her.

“Ana?” He asked with a smile. He’d never really been around kids before, not to mention sick little girls. Would she be afraid of him?

Ana’s head popped up when she heard Max’s voice and she locked her eyes with his. Max wanted to squirm under her probing stare, but he waited for her to react to him.

“You’re Sara’s friend?”

Max nodded. “I’m Max.” He took a step into the room and when she didn’t flinch or move backwards, he took it as a good sign. “Whatcha got there?” He gestured towards her dolls.

“Barbies.” She tossed her head back, holding it high. The boys she knew usually made fun of her for playing with dolls.

“Do they have names?” He remembered Isabel had fantastical names for all of her dolls, royalty names that he still wondered if they belonged to real people. He moved to the edge of the bed, not sure what to do.

She made a frustrated sound that he recognized well from growing up with Isabel. “Yeah, Barbie.”

“Oh, sorry. I’m kind of new at this.” Had he just been put in his place by a six year old?

“’S okay.” She cocked her head to the side and examined him again. “You could play with me. I could teach you.”

Max watched as she batted her eyes at him, a frown all but formed on pouting lips. And he wondered if it was an ingrained trait all women just knew how to do from birth. But nevertheless, he knew he was sunk.

“Sure. What do I do?”

She scooted back on her twin bed and patted the empty space in front of her. “First you have to sit down. Here, you can be this Barbie. And I’ll be this one. We’re playing Magical Fantasy Fashion Show and they have to model the dresses.”

Max eyed the doll in his hand. Half of her blond tresses had been cropped off at uneven angles and her red dress was only half on, making him wonder if this was such a good idea after all.

“Don’t you have any boy dolls?”

She scoffed at him. “No. Now, I’ll go first and you can follow me.” She set the doll on her feet and bounced her along the blanket as if walking. “Oh, thank you everyone for coming. Isn’t my dress beautiful?”

Max grinned as her voice rose several octaves as she mimicked Barbie’s voice. She really was pretty cute. And while there were bags under her eyes, she looked almost okay, not really sick at all. He wondered if maybe there had been a mistake.

“Okay, you’re turn.”

Max turned his attention to the half-dressed doll again. Unsure of what to do, he bounced the doll as he’d seen her do.

“My name is Barbie and I’m wearing a red dress.”

Ana covered her mouth with her hands as giggles escaped. “No, silly. You can’t use a boy voice! You have to use a girl voice like mine.”

“Like this?” Max raised his voice higher, swearing on everything he owned that Michael and Isabel would never catch word of what he was doing.

Ana giggled again. “No! Higher!”

“Like this?” He rose his voice to an impossibly high pitch, her giggles filling in the empty holes in his soul. “Hi, my name is Barbie and I’m wearing a red dress.”

“You didn’t even dress her all the way. Let me do it.” She took Barbie from Max and deftly fixed her clothing.

“So, what happened to her hair?”

“Jesse!” She rolled her eyes. “He tried to play Beauty Parlor with me but he’s a boy. I told him he was doing it wrong, but he wouldn’t listen to me and then Nicole got mad at me cause Jesse cut her hair. It wasn’t my fault and Jesse laughed at me, but Sara made him apologize for being mean and he didn’t get any chocolate cake for dessert.”

Max tried to follow her rambling sentences the same way he did with Maria. He filed all the information away to process and sort through for later.

“So, these aren’t your Barbies?”

She shook her head sadly. “No. Nicole’s new family bought em for her before they took her away. Now, I have to share with Rachel.” She made a face to show just how distasteful sharing with this girl really was.

“But sharing is a good thing.” His mother had ingrained it into his and Isabel’s heads for years now. And she’d be proud he was passing it along.

“But she waits till I’m playing with them to want to play. It’s not fair.”

“Well, why don’t you just play with one of your toys when she does that?”

And plucked at the bedspread. “I don’t have any of my own.”

“No toys at all?”

“I had a real pretty doll my aunt Cara bought me, but Jesse took it and lost it.” Her lower lip started quivering.

Panic filled Max. “Don’t cry. It’s okay. We’ll just have to get you a new doll.”

“Really?” Her face lit up. “Like the Pretty Polly doll with the pink ribbons and all the neat dresses?”

“Yeah, exactly like that.” How could her enthusiasm be so contagious? He’s smiled more since he’d been in this room than he had in over a year.

“I’m hungry. Can we make a snack?”

“Sure, I guess.” He glanced out into the hallway, hoping the answer to the question would lie there. It wasn’t dinnertime yet. He didn’t see the harm.

“What do you want?” Of course, he had no idea where the kitchen was or what was in it, but he would try his best.

“Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich.”

Max stared at her incredulously. And he thought they ate weird food combinations. “I don’t know how to make that.”

“Oh,” her face fell in disappointment.

“But you could show me.”

“No, I’m not allowed to walk downstairs.” She returned her gaze to the bedspread.


“Cause last time I tried, I fell and hurt my leg. And Colleen said no more walking till my heart is all better.”

Max’s heart broke to hear her story. He searched for a way to bring back her smile so it would light up the room again. “Well, what if I gave you a ride downstairs and you showed me where everything is?”

“Piggy back ride!” she squealed.

“Yeah.” Faced with another first, he nodded his head. “Okay, a piggy back ride. Let’s go.”

Ana threw back the blanket and carefully climbed to her feet on the bed. Max leaned closer so she could grip his neck. The first thing he noticed was how small she was, She was all skin and bones and he was sure that she was small even for someone her age. The second thing he noticed was that she didn’t have enough strength in her small arms to hold on tight enough not to fall. Once he had hoisted her onto his back, he reached one hand around to grip her back. Ready now, he headed down the stairs.

“Sara! We’re going to the kitchen for a snack!” Ana called out when they reached the second floor landing.

Sara emerged from the bedroom, eyes wide. “You’re hungry, sweetie?”

Ana nodded, burying her head in Max’s shoulder.

“Is that okay? I didn’t know-“

“Are you kidding? If she’s hungry, feed her anything she wants.” Sara smiled at the two of them. They seemed to have become fast friends, despite the look of panic that filled Max’s face. “If you need anything, just call me on the intercom. And you, you know the rules.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Max continued his journey down the stairs, following Ana’s directions to the kitchen. After the second wrong turn and a bout of giggles, he figured out she was doing it on purpose. The house seemed to be a maze of doors and hallways all connecting to another part of the house. He imagined some of the kids had quite a bit of fun hiding in the rooms.

Finally, they found the kitchen and he set Ana down in one of the softer chairs and went in search of bananas and peanut butter. But while Ana rambled on about a TV show she watched, Max’s mind wandered to Sara’s surprised face. Why had she been so shocked that Ana was hungry? He would ask her about it later. For now, he would hunker down in front of a the TV with Ana and a large plateful of Banana and Peanut Butter sandwiches to watch something called the Powerpuff Girls.

An hour later, he found himself laughing like the kid he’d never quite had the chance to be. He could see the popularity of the kids’ show. And Blossom kind of reminded him of Liz. But when he glanced down to ask Ana something, he saw that she was fast asleep. She had curled up against his side after she had wolfed down three sandwiches, and had proceeded to explain who each character was. She liked Mojo Jojo the best and they’d spent a few minutes during the commercial break trying to imitate his evil laugh. Ana had won.

Now, her small head was nestled on his chest, her hand fisted in his, and he couldn’t remember when that had happened. Asleep, she looked so much more fragile than she did when she had giggled over his reaction to his first taste of her sandwich. She looked…well, sicker. Her eyes were indeed carrying large bags and he wondered if she slept or if it was a fitful sleep when she did. So far, she had been sleeping pretty heavily and he didn’t think he should disturb her. But here, he could see the first signs of weakness. His dad had said that she would need a heart transplant before the year was out or she would likely die. And he knew that if he had it within him to heal her, he would. But like with Liz’s grandmother, he couldn’t heal something that was natural occurring. And a diseased heart was something even he couldn’t fix.

He heard the door open and a half dozen kids came scrambling inside. The sound of sneakers hitting hard wood floors and barreling up the stairs made him flinch, checking to make sure Ana stayed asleep.

Colleen stepped into the living room, momentarily startled to find Max and Ana on the couch. “Oh, Max. Hi. I see you’ve met Ana.”

“Hi, Colleen.” Max tried to untangle himself from Ana to stand up and greet Colleen, but she waved him back down.

“Stay. How long has she been sleeping?” She poked her head around the corner to keep an eye on two of her boys that had been whispering all afternoon. Nothing good ever came of that.

“Forty five minutes or so. We had a snack and she fell asleep.”

Colleen eyed the empty plate and the cartoon still running on the television. “Ah, I see you’ve been properly introduced to Cartoon Network. Ana’s a junkie for the stuff. Did she really eat?”

“Yeah. She had a few sandwiches and a glass of milk.” Max hesitated a minute. “Colleen, Sara acted a little funny earlier when Ana told her she was hungry.”

“And you were wondering what that was about?” Colleen sighed and took a seat on the other side of Ana. She smoothed back a strand of her dark hair. “How much do you know about her illness?”

“Not much,” he confessed.

“Well, her heart is diseased. It always has been. Her mother is a junkie that used to leave her alone for weeks at a time, and Ana’s always been on medication. Her aunt, Cara Page, was buying the medicine for awhile and tried to help take care of her, but her husband passed away and her mother is sick and living with her. So, she couldn’t take in Ana. I found a family in Tucson that is willing to take her, but she has to stay here until she can get a transplant. And to be honest, if she doesn’t find a donor heart soon, she may not be strong enough for the transplant.”

Max looked down at the little girl that had filled his afternoon with such energy and joy. “She said she wasn’t allowed to walk down the stairs?”

Colleen nodded. “Yeah. She had an accident last month. Her body is getting weaker and her legs have to work double time to support her. She tried to walk down the stairs in the middle of the night and she ended up falling. It was an hour before one of the other kids found her. She didn’t break anything, but she was too weak to climb back up. Her doctors said it would only get worse from there, so we told her she’s not allowed to walk down the stairs or climb by herself.”

“But she was so energetic today. We played and watched television.” Max was having trouble fitting the image of the dying little girl with the one he’d been with today.

“You caught her on a good day. We’d given her medication before we left and I guess she tired herself out. Usually, the medication makes her sick and we’re lucky if we can get her to eat much of anything. You did good to get her to eat what you did today.” Colleen placed a hand on Max’s. She could see he was having a hard time accepting what she was telling him. “I know it’s hard to accept, Max. It’s hard not to be able to do anything, but just being here for her is the best we can do right now.”

“So, you just have to wait and see if a heart is available?” How could they calmly sit back and wait to see if she would live or die? His whole life, he’d only had one person he couldn’t save and it had been Liz’s grandmother. And as much as he’d wanted to save her for Liz, he didn’t really know her all that well.

“She’s on a waiting list, but it’s not as simple as that. She is high priority, but it has to match her profile.”

Ana stirred beneath them. “Max?” She asked groggily.

“I’m here.”

And rubbed her eyes, yawning loudly. “I’m sleepy.” She moved closer to him and he tightened his arm around her unconsciously.

“Do you want to take her upstairs to her bed?”

“Yeah.” Carefully, he scooped the small bundle into his arms and tried to ignore the warm feeling it gave him when she nuzzled against his neck. How long had it been since someone had trusted him so implicitly? He sidestepped the toys, old and new, that had gathered since he had arrived that morning and made his way to her bedroom. He pulled back the fluffy pink bedspread and laid her down, careful to cover her back up. He didn’t know how easy it would be for her to catch a cold, and it was drafty in the old house.

“Max?” Ana half-opened her eyes to find her new friend.

“Yeah?” He moved back over to the side of the bed.

“Are you going home now?”

Max didn’t need to glance at his watch to know it was late. “I’m afraid so.”

“Will you come back tomorrow?” She yawned, her eyes closing more with every word.

“You betcha.”

She gave him a sleepy smile. “Kay. Good night.”

Max watched her slip back into a sound sleep and he stood there for another minute watching over his new friend. He would be back tomorrow and the day after that, and if the day ever came when he could do something to help this fragile little girl that had touched his heart, he would do it without hesitation.

posted on 27-Nov-2001 11:48:44 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [email] Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to R for language mostly
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 36

“I don’t like it, Kyle Something’s wrong.”

“I’m sure she’s just busy, Liz. It hasn’t really been that long.” Kyle secretly believed her, but knew it would only worry her more if he said so.

“Hasn’t been that long? Kyle, we haven’t seen Mel in two weeks. She’s been skipping class more than you used to and she hasn’t returned any of my calls.”

“It’s not exactly like she had a perfect attendance record at school before this.” But she had made her way over to their new apartment every day. Mel had become a permanent fixture in their home before she had dropped off the face of the earth.

“Something’s wrong,” Liz repeated, a frown on her face. “I can feel it. I always could and I have that same feeling creeping up my spine.”

A knock on the door caught their full attention and Liz dashed from the couch to answer it. When she found a very nervous looking Mel in the hallway, Liz pulled her into a quick hug before she had time to remember the other girl wasn’t one for shows of affection.

Seeing Mel’s discomfort, Kyle pulled Liz back. One look at her face told him that something was indeed wrong. Mel’s usually perfect appearance was gone. She had bags under her eyes and her lipstick looked as though it had been chewed off.

Before Liz had a chance to say anything, Kyle stepped in. “What’s wrong?”

Mel’s eyes flashed to meet his for a quick second before they slid away to flit around the room. “Sorry I didn’t return your calls. I was just…busy.”

“Mel?” Liz asked of her new friend.

“Okay, I’m not really one for big scenes, so I’ll just make this quick and easy.” She took a deep breath, glanced at them, then back down at the floor where it was safer. “I’m leaving town, actually Dad and I are. He’s been transferred again, and we’re leaving next week. I’ve never been one for long goodbye’s, so I just wanted to tell you both goodbye now. So, I’ll just see you around.”

That had been a week ago. The words had replayed themselves in Kyle’s head a thousand times. Mel was leaving, just when he was starting to really get to know her. It wasn’t right and it wasn’t fair, and those emotions were what drove him to Mel’s house, that and the look in her eye when she had announced that she was leaving. Unless he was mistaken, Mel didn’t want to leave Flat Creek anymore than they-no, Liz, wanted her to. He didn’t really care one way or another. He followed the directions he’d been given, wondering why neither he or Liz had ever been to her house. It was a small white house hidden behind a grove of trees and bushes and he nearly passed it. The yard was neatly groomed and looked tidy. But something seemed wrong, something he couldn’t put his finger on.

He parked and walked up the driveway to the front door, knocking heavily on the old wood door. He stuck his hands in his pockets and waited, not sure why he was really here. Was it really for Liz like he kept claiming in his head? It sounded right when he lay in bed in the middle of the night listening to Liz toss and turn in bed across the quiet apartment. She needed as many real friends around her these days as she could get. But was this just for Liz? The question had plagued him for a week now. And if so, why did he have that heavy feeling in the pit of his stomach when he thought about Mel leaving?

The door swung open and Kyle came face to face with Mel. Her eyes widened and her mouth opened in shock as recognition dawned in her eyes. “What are you doing here?”

“Can I come in?” Kyle bounced on the balls of his feet, nerves making him jittery. What was wrong with him? He watched as she regained her composure, sliding her mask over her features. And he felt a deep sense of loss, knowing for that brief moment, he’d seen the side of Mel that nobody probably got close enough to find.

“Sure, Slick. But I’m not sure why you’d want to.” She casually leaned against the doorframe, feeling more secure than when Kyle had surprised her. What was he doing there anyway? She hated being caught off guard and the quicker she could find out what he wanted, the quicker she could get rid of him and she could finish packing.

Kyle entered the living room, careful to step around the large piles of boxes that formed a maze of sorts. Even knowing that most of their belongings were in boxes, the room felt empty, hollow somehow. He leaned against the couch’s arm, wanting to be on his feet for this talk. He could tell she was annoyed by his presence and he wondered why he felt that it was the first real emotion he’d seen from her.

“You have five minutes. I’m a busy girl.” Mel chose to sit in an armchair opposite the couch. She refused to be intimidated by him, though he was invading the private bubble she never let anyone into.

“So, you guys are still planning to go this weekend. Where’s your dad?”

“You came all the way out here to ask me that?” Her father had left town again and she refused to talk about that with him. She watched him, trying to figure out his game. Was he here to make one last pass at her? She hoped not. For once, she thought she had met her match in the game of wits and if a quick roll in bed was what he was after, it would ruin the opinion she had formed of him.

Kyle’s eyes darted around the room, taking in what he could and not caring that he was being obvious. “I guess I was wondering why you’re leaving if you obviously don’t want to go.”

Mel’s eyes flashed hot. “Obvious? Tell me, darlin’, how do you read minds so well?”

“Not minds, but faces. And yours keeps haunting me.” Kyle turned to meet Mel’s eyes, hoping she would meet him head on and not shy away like she had done before.

“Well, I’ll be out of your hair soon enough, Valenti. I’m terribly sorry to have kept you from your beauty sleep. If that’s all you came for…” Mel rose from the couch and took two long strides towards the door before Kyle’s voice stopped her.

“What if I told you that Liz wanted you to stay? That she needed you to be here?”

His voice was so quiet, she wasn’t sure she’d heard him right. Were they really talking about Liz? Or could she be hearing what she thought she was hearing? She damned her inexperience in things like this. “Liz wants me to stay?”

“Yeah.” So she was going to keep her back to him. It would make this a little easier. He took a step forward, then paused, not sure what to do with the emotions churning inside of him. “She doesn’t make friends easily anymore and she trusts people even less. She’s been hurt before, lost until she didn’t know which way was up. And if you leave, it might make it worse.”

“I have to go.” But she found that she didn’t want to. The feelings of sadness that swamped her at midnight overwhelmed her now. Kyle’s soft voice was almost her undoing. What was it about this cocky guy that could break down the walls she’d spent her whole life building?

“What if you didn’t? Would you stay?” He stepped forward now, pulling a thick envelope from his pocket and tossing it on the empty hall table beside her. He saw her glance at it, knowing she would never ask what was in it. “I asked my father for some help, legal advice. You’re not eighteen yet, I pulled your records. Just because your father is leaving doesn’t mean you have to go with him. What kind of life do you have moving from place to place every few months? Don’t you want to graduate with people you know? Don’t you even care about the people you’re leaving behind?”

Mel closed her eyes tight, forcing herself to regain her composure. “Look, Slick, the decision has been made. Dad and I, we move around sometimes three or four times a year. Flat Creek was just another stepping stone. Next week, we’ll be residents of another no name town. This is why I don’t make attachments. They’re too hard to break. Let’s just say good-bye here and not bother with it later, okay?”

“No. Don’t do that to me, not now. You want to stay here and we both know it. Why can’t you just say so? Are you really that stubborn?” Kyle’s found his temper growing as he heard the cockiness firm in her voice. “I’m offering you the chance to stay, to have a family and a home with us. We have a third bedroom with your name on it.”

“It’s not that easy to cut ties to the only family I’ve ever known. You might be able to do it without a backward glance, but I can’t. All I have is my father and he might not be up for father of the year, but at least he didn’t take one look at me and bail. Do you have any idea what that feels like?” She whirled on him, her anger a force she didn’t recognize.

“You’d be surprised what I understand. You’re not the only one who lost a parent, or has had to suffer through pain, Mel. If you want to go, then go. I was just trying to tell you that if you do, you’ll be missed.”

“Liz’ll get over it.” Mel folded her arms over her chest, determined to stand her ground.

“I wasn’t talking about Liz.” Kyle’s voice softened again. Apparently, he wasn’t going to get through this with his pride intact. He ran a hand through his hair in frustration. “Look, all I know is that I’ve never met anyone like you. And I’m afraid I never will again. I’d really like the chance to get to know you. I want to know your life story. Why does your dad move around so much? Who do you get your smart ass sense of humor from? What places have you seen and where do you want to go? Hell, I’d settle for knowing what ‘Mel’ is short for.” Kyle took a deep breath. “I don’t want you to go, Mel.”

Mel stood frozen in shock. She hadn’t expected that. Had anyone ever said anything like that to her? No, no one had. Now, here was someone who cared about what happened to her and she was leaving in a few short days. Her eyes slid down to the envelope Kyle had tossed at her. She wanted to stay, to become a vital part of the small group they had created. She wanted to be known as thoroughly as Liz and Kyle knew each other. She wanted to know what had happened that had driven her only two friends in the world away from their homes. But it was fear and doubt that held her back. She’d never opened herself to anyone like that before. What if they decided they didn’t like what they saw after all?

Kyle watched with a heavy heart as Mel closed her eyes. He looked away, unable to figure out what the hell he thought he was doing anyway. He brushed past Mel and fled out the door.

Safe inside his car, he drove aimlessly. The empty desert soothed him and instead of questioning it, he let the feelings engulf him. How many times would he trust women only to be bruised? When would he learn that he just couldn’t trust anyone besides Liz and his father?

Darkness fell and by the time he finally glanced at his watch, he winced. Liz would still be up and worried about him. They were supposed to have met for dinner hours ago. He’d hoped he would have been able to bring Mel with him and give Liz good news for a change.

He slammed his transmission into gear and swung his car towards home. Once there, he took the steps two at a time, a thousand excuses flying around in his head. He turned his key in the lock, but the door swung open before he could turn the knob.

“Kyle! You’re home! We were getting worried.”

“Liz, sorry. I lost track of time and-“

Liz was shaking her head, a large grin plastered on her face. “Why didn’t you tell me you went to see Mel?” Liz laughed, throwing her arms around Kyle and pulling him into a hug.

Kyle looked at Liz in confusion. How had she known that?

“I told you he was keeping it a surprise. But a word to the wise, Tiger. Next time you invite someone to move in, run it by your other roommates first.”

Kyle blinked hard as Mel entered his field of vision. “But I thought-wait, you’re moving in?”

Mel shrugged, tossing her long curls over her shoulder. “I was already packed.”

Kyle’s smile was slow forming, but brilliant. “You’re staying.”

“You always this far behind in conversations?” Mel’s smile was lazy, but he caught it. “I talked to Dad. He thought I should stay, maybe graduate someplace with friends. Still have some room?”

Noting the sparkle in both her and Liz’s eyes, Kyle put one arm around each girl.

“Did Liz explain the rules around here?”

“I shudder to even ask.”

“Well, rule number one is to never let my presence stop you from walking around in your underwear.”

Mel’s lip curled. “Who said I wear any?” She slipped out of his embrace, uncomfortable by how easy it felt. She picked up the closest suitcase and began dragging it towards her new room. Unable to resist, she glanced over her shoulder, amused by the look on Kyle’s face. He was frozen, still trying to figure out if she was kidding or not. But half the fun, she decided, was in finding out.

posted on 27-Nov-2001 11:49:07 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [email] Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to R for language mostly
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 37

“Okay, here are your lists. You have your budgets, so let’s go.” Isabel handed Michael and Maria a sheet of paper each.

Maria scanned her list, her eyes lighting up with delight by the items she found.

“Whoa, wait a second, Isabel. I think you mixed up mine and Maria’s lists. There are dolls on mine.”

Isabel leaned closer to glance at his sheet. “No, it’s fine.” She caught the look on his face and sighed. “Suck it up, Michael. This is for a good cause, remember? Don’t you want to see the smiling faces of those kids on Christmas day? Okay, look. I even gave you an exact list of which dolls I want you to buy.” When his expression still didn’t change, Isabel slapped the paper flat against his chest. “Just do it, Michael.”

Michael rubbed at the spot on his chest where he was sure he’d find a bruise later. He’d never admit to it, but he’d always had a healthy fear of Isabel. She could be downright violent with him if she didn’t get her way. He took the list and glanced at it with a scowl. “And why doesn’t Maxwell have to help?” he mumbled to himself.

“Because he snuck out of bed this morning before I had a chance to volunteer him.”

Maria leaned in close to Michael and planted a kiss on his lips. She remembered how Isabel had woken them up that morning at six o’clock just to make sure they wouldn’t go anywhere. To say she’d gotten an eyeful would be an understatement. But Isabel now knew better than to not knock before entering, and that Michael had a wicked libido first thing in the morning. “See ya, Spaceboy.”

“Wait! Why don’t we just do this together?” He grabbed hold of Maria’s arm, giving her his most pathetic look.

Maria grinned at him. “That would defeat the whole point of splitting up to save time.” She flashed him a wider grin and batted her eyelashes at him. “Play nice and I’ll make it worth your while tonight.” She nipped at his chin. “We can pick up where we were interrupted earlier.” She pulled away and winked at him before skipping off down the aisle.

Michael shook his head as he watched her blond pigtails bob behind her. He was all but shaking with lust and she left him standing there. How could she do that to him? In an even fouler mood, he quickly turned towards Isabel in a last ditch effort to have help, only to find that she was already gone.

“Great,” he muttered, twisting to examine the store around him. Where the hell would they put dolls in a place like this?

A small blonde girl caught his eye and he watched her as she sucked on a large blue lollipop, a stuffed dog clutched tightly in one arm. His gaze shifted sideways, looking for a parent. Not seeing one, he approached the child. Who would know better about dolls than a girl?

“Hi, I’m Michael and I was wondering if you could help me.” He smiled at her and the girl merely continued with her lollipop, her eyes wide as he spoke to her. “I’m trying to find the dolls. Do you know where they are?”

She pulled the blue treat from her mouth and Michael grinned at the cute picture she made. Maybe this wasn’t going to be so bad after all. Then the girl let loose with an ear piercing scream.

Panic guiding him, Michael tried to quiet the child. “Shh, there’s no reason to cry. Oh, forget it. I’ll find them myself.” He carved a hasty path, sure someone would be by to claim the screaming kid and he didn’t want to be there when it happened. Plus, if Maria found out, he’d never hear the end of it.

He walked aimlessly, secretly hoping to find Maria or Isabel to plead one last time. But when he spied an aisle filled completely with pink boxes, he knew he’d hit the jackpot. Examining the list Isabel had given him closely, he didn’t see the figure that rounded the corner the same time he did and they collided.

An automatic scowl on his lips, Michael turned to give the stranger a piece of his mind and found himself face to face with his oldest friend. “Max?”

“Michael.” Max froze, wondering what to do. He hadn’t expected to see anyone he knew today.

“What, did Isabel rope you into shopping for her many charities too? It looks like the Christmas Nazi is back with a vengeance.”

“Yeah.” Relief flooded through him and he instantly felt guilty for it. Max hadn’t told anyone but his parents about his volunteer work yet. It wasn’t because he was ashamed, but just something he wanted for himself a bit longer. He’d become a permanent fixture at the House and all the kids loved him. But no matter how busy he was, he always found some time to spend alone with Ana. Sometimes he’d play with her for hours and was slowly trying to introduce her to the world of action figures, but other nights, he only had time to read her a bedtime story. Sometimes she made up stories for him of princes and knights who went on fantastic journies to save their princesses. And each one made him think of Liz and how in their own fairy tale, it had been the princess who had slain the dragons and suffered the hardships for the prince. And he would go home and write another letter to her, to apologize and make up a new list of all the ways he would make it up to her if he ever had the chance.

But now, he had Michael in front of him and he was telling him a lie and hating himself for it. But he only wanted a little more time before he had to justify it to everone.

“So, look, why don’t we put these lists together and get this over with? I’m starved. What do you say we grab some tacos and make a night of it? I really think I’m close to the body count in Braveheart.”

“Um, actually, I sort of have plans. But we could do it tomorrow or something.”

Michael eyed Max. Something was going on. First, they hadn’t actually seen Max outside of class in weeks, and even at school, he’d been spending most of his free time in the library. The few times he’d seen him on the computer, Max had tried to close down the screen. But not before Michael had caught a glimpse of a headline or two. For some reason, Max was researching heart diseases. He hadn’t asked yet, but he’d told Maria about and she’d advised him to wait. Whatever Max had been doing, it was making him softer, more like the old Max. And they didn’t want to impede on that. But at the same time, Michael knew that Maria feared that what had been making Max so energetic these days was another girl.

“Hey, man, is everything okay with you? You bailed on us last week for dinner and you’ve been non-existent. You know you can tell me anything and I won’t judge.”

“I’m fine, Michael. There’s nothing to-no, that’s a lie. I do have something going on. I’m just not ready to talk about it yet.”

Michael nodded his head, surprised by the admission. He was used to the ‘I’m fine’ song and dance then quiet brooding. Outright honesty was more than a bit foreign to them but maybe it was about time. “Okay. Just-“

“Here’s your doll, sir.” A teenager in a red apron approached Max. Michael watched as Max’s face turned a beet red. But the boy didn’t seem to notice Max’s discomfort. “It’s a good thing you ordered this a few weeks ago. The Pretty Polly doll is one of the hardest toys to find this year.”

“Thank you.” Max glared at the boy, then at Michael, daring him to say something. He grabbed the brightly wrapped box from his outstretched hands, and Michael couldn’t help the chuckle that escaped.

“Don’t make me hurt you.”

Michael shook his head as Max stalked away. “Hey! Don’t forget about the tacos tomorrow night!”

Max raised a hand in acknowledgement and Michael returned to his list.

“Damn it!” He turned back to the employee who was busy rearranging a display. “Hey, I’m gonna need one of those Patty dolls too.”

“I’m sorry, sir. We’ve been sold out of the Pretty Polly dolls with Rainbow hair for months now.”

“Then how the hell did Maxwell get one?” This guys voice was starting to wear on his already foul mood.

“We had a cancellation and he happened to be here.”

Michael swore again. Isabel was going to kill him. Somehow this would all be his fault, he just knew it. Somehow, the image of him and Maria alone at his place was turning into the image of him trying to hunt down this toy all day long. Could life suck anymore than this?

posted on 27-Nov-2001 11:49:21 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [email] Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to R for language mostly
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 38

”Dashing through the snow”


”In a one horse open sleigh”

“That’s enough.”

”O’er the fields we go”

“Can’t you at least sing a new song?”

”Laughing all the way – Hahaha”

“Kyle, it’s been four hours now.”

”Bells on Bobtail ring”

“What do you want, my first born? Take it, it’s yours.”

”Making spirits rise”

“Are those even the right words?”

”Oh what fun it is to sing a sleighing song tonight”

“No, don’t do it again. Kyle!”

”OH…Jingle Bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way, oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh – HEY – Jingle Bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way. Oh what fun it is to ride…in…a …one…horse…open…sleigh!” Kyle ended his song by going down on one knee and raising his hands high into the air. Around him, the residents of the food court looked and laughed.

Liz found herself smiling despite herself. It had been her mistake to mention to him that morning that she hadn’t felt very Christmasy this year. So, Kyle had dragged her to the mall to do some Christmas shopping and had been serenading her with carols for hours now. Around them, a few shoppers clapped at Kyle’s over the top singing. Liz merely buried her head in her hand as Kyle reclaimed his seat at their table.

“I have to smother you with a pillow in your sleep now.”

Kyle grinned at her. “Feeling more in the spirit of things? Cause if not, I can sing the Twelve Days of Christmas again.”

“Which version?” She asked dryly. Before today, she’d never even known there were a dozen different versions of the annoying holiday classic.

“I can sing them all.”

“Tis the season.” She plastered a fake smile on her face as Kyle laughed at her and picked at her cinnamon roll.

“So, what do you want to do now? Do you want to go pick up Mel’s present?”

“Yeah. We may as well. It’s a good thing she had to work this morning, it may be the last chance we have to slip away and pick it up for her.”

“She’s gonna be so surprised.” Kyle’s grin widened when he thought about the present they had picked out for Mel. She’d been eyeing it in the window for a month now, but they knew she would never buy it for herself. So, he and Liz had decided to go in together and buy it for her.

“Yeah, so have you picked up something for your dad yet?”

He heard the trace of sadness in her voice again, but decided to let it go for the moment. “No, I’m having kind of a hard time figuring out what to get him. He’s not exactly the easiest person to shop for.”

“Has he decided to come to visit?” Did her voice actually sound as hopeful as she thought it did? Damn the holidays. Could she be any more stereotypical? The holiday blues.

“Liz, why don’t you just call them?” Kyle was tired of playing the game with her where they tiptoe around the subject. He knew she missed her parents, but she was afraid to call them. It had taken her months just to write them a letter to let them know she was alive and well.

Liz sighed. “I don’t know. What am I supposed to say?”

“’I miss you’ is a good start. I hear parents eat that kind of thing up. Especially when your only daughter runs away from home in the middle of the night. They might be thinking about you a little.”

Liz glared at him. “Don’t start with me. I thought you understood what I had to do.”

Kyle raised both hands up in a defensive gesture. “Whoa there. Easy. I’m on your team. I left Roswell too, remember? I’m just saying, it’s Christmas. You’re lonely, they’re lonely. So, if you put two lonely groups together, there might not be so much loneliness and I won’t have to sing Christmas carols day and night just to get you to smile at me.”

“Okay, I get the point. I’ll think about calling them. How about that?”

“It’ll do for now. So, let’s move on to more important things. What did you buy me for Christmas?” Kyle propped his head on his hands and batted his eyelashes at her.

“Forget it. If that eye thing didn’t work when we were dating, why would you think it would work now?” She sat back in her chair, crossing her arms over her chest.

“Because I’ve been practicing, and I think I’ve gotten better at it.” He batted them at her some more, just wanting to hear her laugh again. She had started to become more moody as Christmas approached. And he knew that she was missing the brightly lit Crashdown that she and Maria decorated every year. She was missing her family and friends, and she was probably missing Max and it drove him crazy. Max didn’t deserve someone like Liz in his book, but then he’d never liked the guy from day one. Unfortunately, she still wouldn’t talk about it with him and he knew it was because she knew about his feelings towards Max. He tried not to sigh in frustration. Maybe she would open up to Mel now that she was living with them.

Liz laughed at Kyle, throwing a wadded up napkin at him. “Nope. My lips are sealed. Besides, what kind of surprise would it be if you knew what you were getting?”

“A good one. Surprises are overrated anyway. In fact, why celebrate Christmas on the twenty fifth? Let’s break tradition and celebrate early this year. We can open presents this weekend, or even tonight. What do you say?”

“We don’t even have the tree up yet.”

“But that’s what we’re doing when we get home. Don’t you see the beauty of my plan?”

Liz rose from the table, picking up their trash. “Let’s go.”

Kyle rose, grabbing the bags of presents they had bought. He saw her moving to the left side of the mall and he hurried to catch up with her. “Liz, wait! Hang on a second.” He pushed past a mob of shoppers and caught up with her, trying to steer her to the right. “Mel’s present is the other way.”

“I know. I just want to go in this store again real quick.” She turned and fluttered her eyelashes at him. “It’ll only take a second.”

Kyle swore, not the eyes. How did she know he was powerless against the eyes? “I really don’t think that’s such a good-“

“Thanks, Kyle!” She dashed away and rounded the corner that led her to the camera shop.

“Damn it. Mel’s gonna kill me.” He shifted his packages, looking around madly for any sign of Mel. Not seeing her, he followed after Liz. She hadn’t even gone inside the store yet, but was standing outside looking at the display in the window, a sad look on her face.

“It’s not even here anymore. Somebody must have bought it.” Everyday for the last month, she had stopped by this shop to check out the newest camera equipment they had for sale. The camera she was using was old to say the least and it belonged to the school. When she graduated in the fall, she wouldn’t have anything to use. So, she’d been checking in to see if the camera she’d had her eye on would ever go on sale. She’d been hoping she could catch it after Thanksgiving, but she’d been held up clothes shopping with Kyle and they’d missed her only opportunity to afford buying a camera for herself.

Kyle placed an arm around her shoulder, awkwardly hugging her amidst the packages. “I’m sorry, Liz. We’ll find you another one.”

“It doesn’t matter anyway. It’s not like I could afford it or anything. Stupid camera.”

“Are those more holiday blues I hear? How about a jolly chorus of Frosty the Snowman to cheer you up?” Out of the corner of his eyes, he saw Mel’s head pop out from behind a counter. She gave Kyle an evil glare and began gesturing to the bag in her hand.

“Please no more Christmas carols, or I really will have to kill you in your sleep.” Liz turned away from the store, catching Kyle’s lack of attention. He was looking over her shoulder at something. Curious, she turned to see what he was looking at.

Mel caught Liz’s movement and ducked behind the counter again, just before Liz could catch sight of her. Oh, Kyle would pay for this later. Hadn’t she given him specific instructions to keep Liz away from the camera store for the morning? Now, she was crouched on the floor while the salesman rang her up. There was a man standing beside her that kept glancing down at her and she was afraid he would give her away. So, she stomped down hard on his foot and he glared at her like she was crazy, but he walked away. Maybe she was a little crazy. Who cared? All she knew was that Kyle had exactly two minutes to get Liz out of there before she skinned him alive.

“Kyle, what are you looking at?”

“Uh, nothing.” He’d seen Mel disappear behind the counter and knew he was in for trouble later. But as long as Mel had gotten the gift, that was all that mattered. “A girl. She was flirting with me, but I think you scared her away. Good job, Liz. I can’t even get a decent date with you constantly hanging around me.”

“Yeah, you’re a regular wallflower these days. How many girls have you gone out with this month?”

“Numbers aren’t important, Liz. Shouldn’t we get going? We’re supposed to meet Mel at the Christmas tree lot in an hour. And I’d hate to be late on top of everything else.” He’d seen some guy looking at Mel, no doubt wondering what she was doing on the floor, then his face had twisted in pain and he’d wondered what she’d done to the poor guy.

“What else?”

“Huh? Uh, nothing. Forget it. Let’s just get her gift and go.”

Liz gave Kyle a strange look before letting him lead her from the store.


Hours later, Kyle sat back on the couch and let the last few minutes of “It’s a Wonderful Life” play on the television. After the debacle at the mall, the trio had met up and spent all afternoon picking out the perfect Christmas tree. Much to Kyle’s chagrin, they had put it in his car and taken it home, where they had decorated with the newly purchased ornaments and lights Kyle and Liz had picked out that morning. He’d even convinced Liz to turn on some Christmas music, agreeing to Bing Crosby and no Twelve Days of Christmas.

They’d popped popcorn and had managed to have a pillow fight when Kyle had accidentally dumped the bowl of popcorn on Mel’s head. It had been an honest mistake. And how was he supposed to know that socks and hard wood floors didn’t go together? He’d fallen hard when Mel had started chasing him and she’d tackled him instantly. The girl must have some sort of professional wrestling experience, because she’d pinned him in a minute flat. He’d been more than a bit impressed, but had felt obligated to hit her with a pillow when she’d released him.

They’d ordered takeout and had curled up to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” on television when they found out that Mel had never seen it. And both of the girls were fast asleep on the couch. He’d handed Liz a box of Kleenex as she sniffled her way through the movie and Mel had acted insulted when he’d offered her a shoulder to cry on. But he thought he’d seen a few tears glistening in her eyes throughout the movie.

But in the silence of the living room, with their newly decorated Christmas tree glowing in the corner of the room, Kyle let himself actually ponder the thought that had been growing in his head since lunchtime. He knew Liz was lonely, that she missed her parents. And he knew that she was stubborn enough not to call them for Christmas. His father had told him how broken up the Parkers had been by Liz’s disappearance and he’d seen it firsthand before he’d left Roswell. And then there was whatever information had been the in the letter he’d given to her from her parents. Something in there had rattled her, but he hadn’t brought it up yet. He knew she would talk about it when she was ready.

Determined, and more than a bit scared he was doing the wrong thing and Liz would never forgive him, he rose from the couch and towards the kitchen. He stopped in front of the phone that hung on the wall and stared at it for a minute. If he did this, there would be no turning back.

“Screw it.” He picked up the phone and punched in the familiar numbers of the Crashdown. He knew the Parkers would be closing right about now and he hoped it wasn’t too late to catch them.

“Crashdown Café. How can I help you?”

Kyle paused, his vocal cords not cooperating.


He was going to hang up any second. He had to say something quick. “Mr. Parker?”

“Yes. Who is this?”

Kyle could all but hear his frown of confusion over the phone. Liz did the same thing. “Uh, this is Kyle, Kyle Valenti.” He made sure to keep his voice down, not wanting to wake Liz.

“Kyle? Is Liz okay?”

Way to go, Valenti. Scare the parents. “No, I mean yes. Liz is fine. Everything is okay. I, uh, just wanted to call you…for her.” Kyle let out a breath. Okay, he was in this far, he might as well go all the way. “Look, she misses you, both of you. And I’ve been trying to get her to call you, but she’s stubborn and I think she’s scared.”

“Scared? Of what?”

“I’m not really sure. Mr. Parker, I know you don’t understand why she left Roswell. But I promise you that she had good reasons. I know she’s afraid to go back to Roswell. She’s gotten so much stronger since she left. She’s afraid that if she has anything to do with the place, then she’ll take a big step backwards.”

“Kyle, we love our daughter. We only want what’s best for her. And she told us that staying away was what was best. Are you telling me different?”

“What I’m telling you is that she’s lonely, and she needs her family, especially for Christmas.” He paused, sure Liz would kill him for this, but knowing she needed to see them. “Would you two be able to come and spend some time with her? She doesn’t know I’m calling and I’m not going to tell her you’re coming. She’ll only talk herself out of seeing you. We could meet someplace neutral, and let her decide if she wants you to stay for awhile.”

“Kyle, just tell us where and when and we’ll be there.”

“Okay, give me a few days to think about where, but how about Christmas Eve? And, Mr. Parker? You can’t tell anyone where she is. She doesn’t want to see anyone else, not even Maria right now. I don’t think it would help.”

“I understand.”

“Okay, I’ll get back with you soon.”

“Kyle? Thank you. You have no idea how much this means to us.”

Kyle winced at the gratitude in the older man’s voice. He hoped this would go as well as he hoped. “I’m not going to lie to you, Liz might end up hating me for doing this, but I don’t think she will. It’s up to you guys now to work this out. I’m just the middle man.”

“Thank you anyway.”

Kyle replaced the receiver with a soft click. He was done for now. He’d called the Parkers. They could trace the phone number and call her now if they wanted. And Liz would kill him for it.

“That was a pretty brave thing to do, Slick.”

Kyle jumped when Mel’s silky voice filled the air around him. “What are you doing up?”

“Do you think she’ll see them?” Mel ignored him. She didn’t know much about what was going on with Liz and her parents, but she had a feeling that her new friend needed some family around her this time of year.

“I don’t know.” He gave in to the urge and laid his forehead flat against the wall. Had he just made a huge mistake? A ball of nerves was forming in the pit of his stomach.

“Well, for what it’s worth, I think you did a good thing.” It felt right somehow, with the silence of the apartment settling around them to watch Kyle’s moment of weakness. He usually put on such a show, it was rare to see anything real. And it was disconcerting. She couldn’t joke her way out of this and she found that she really didn’t want to. Unsure of what she was doing, she placed a tentative hand between Kyle’s shoulder blades.

Kyle froze when he felt Mel’s small hand on his back. She’d never made any sort of forward move with them, never initiating hugs or any contact really. So, the move was surprising, but comforting. He gave into the moment and turned, wrapping himself in her arms. After only a moment of hesitation, she returned the embrace, letting her fingers rest at the base of his neck, playing with the hair she’d harassed him about cutting only that morning.

He knew if he were to pull back, he’d see vulnerability written all over her face, so he didn’t. It would embarrass her, so he let her have her moment as well. He made a show of pulling back, composing himself even while he knew she was doing the same.

“Well, that was manly of me.”

“I’d say.” She hadn’t quite pulled her mask back yet, knew he was seeing something in her eyes that she usually hid. But for some reason, she didn’t mind with Kyle. Here, she could be safe.

“Hey, how about some ice cream. I think I saw Rocky Road in the freezer that Liz was hiding from us.”

He knew her favorite ice cream flavor. Was there anyone else in the world that took the time to know and memorize such mundane things? No, there had never been. And him knowing was nice. She offered him a rare smile, not tinted by sarcasm. “Yeah. That would be nice.”

“You sit and I’ll scoop.” He turned to gather bowls and spoons while she went for the ice cream. Together, they sat at the table and dug in.

“So, tell me about yourself.” Kyle knew this would probably be one of the last times he would be able to get her to open up, so he took advantage of it.

“What do you want to know?” She spooned up a large glob of ice cream.


posted on 27-Nov-2001 11:49:44 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [email] Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to R for language mostly
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 39


I’ve fallen in love.

There’s no other way to describe the way I’m feeling. She’s beautiful and smart and funny and she has a smile that lights up the room. She can spin tales of people and places she’s never been before and the pictures are so bright and colorful you’d swear they really existed.

Her name is Ana.

She’s six years old.

And she’s dying.

When I first met her, I didn’t see how that was possible. She was so full of life and energy. She could play for hours on end and never get tired. There were times when she didn’t have the physical strength to do things, but those days are nothing like how she is now. Now, she lies in bed all day. Even sitting up to eat can be a chore, and that’s when you can get her to eat.

I’ve done nothing but research for the last month, day and night, it was what kept me sane. She was born with a heart problem called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. Scary sounding, isn’t it? Believe me, it is. I know you and you’ll love the scientific explanation for it all. Basically, the entire left side of her heart was underdeveloped when she was born. She’d had three major surgeries before she was three years old, the first one before she was a week old. Each one was designed to help her blood flow, and for awhile things looked hopeful. Until earlier this year.

The fixes the doctors kept promising her would make her feel better didn’t work. She kept getting sicker and sicker until they finally told her that there was no fix. She needed a new heart. And that was when the waiting began.

I don’t know how Colleen and Sara do it. I know they’ve taken care of sick kids before, but I think Ana is the sickest they’ve seen. This summer, Ana was bumped up on the waiting list for a new heart. Instead of being a ‘Status 2’, which is the lowest you can get, she became a ‘Status 1B’. Which meant that everyone began counting her life expectancy in terms of months.

And then there was this morning. We took her back to the hospital to be poked and prodded and her doctor, a balding guy with thick glasses and a kind face, came back with the news we’d been dreading. And she was bumped up on the waiting list again. This time, she’s a ‘Status 1A’. Which means she may not live to see Christmas.

Just in the last three weeks, I’ve seen the change. She’s so sick, I’m amazed she’s still alive. Some days, she can’t talk very well and her breathing has become a bit more labored, but she still smiles at me when I come to visit. And my heart breaks a little more every time I see it. She’s so brave, so strong, it makes me feel ashamed of all the things I used to worry about. They seem so petty now, so far away from this new world I live in.

And I can’t help but wish you were here. You’d know exactly the right thing to say. But you’re not here and I’m trying to muddle through this the best I can. The funny thing is, I can hear your voice in my ear, whispering that I can’t play God and heal everyone in the world. And you’re right. Sitting back and watching, waiting has never been harder to do.


Max set down his pen and closed the leather journal with a snap as Sara poked her head into Ana’s room.

“Hey, Sara.”

“She’s still sleeping?”

“Yeah. The trip to the hospital and those new medicines the doctors gave her today really wore her out.”

Sara watched him rub at a tension spot on his shoulder. He’d been sitting in that same spot for almost five hours and she had been worried about him. “You don’t have to stay all night, you know. I’m sure your family would like to see you for a bit. Why don’t you go home?”

“No, I’m fine. Besides, I promised her I’d be here when she woke up.”

“Well, have you at least eaten anything?”

“And I thought your mother was bad at nagging.”

She smiled, leaning companionably against the doorframe. They’d had a few conversations over the last few weeks but Sara still didn’t know anything about Max Evans. He was an elusive mystery, puzzle that she was sure she would never be able to figure out. But there were two things it hadn’t taken her long to discover. There was a girl. And she already had his heart.

She’d watched him when he thought he was alone, in the dead of the night after Ana had fallen asleep and he would sit in that chair and watch her until Colleen threw him out. He would have moved in by now if they would have let him. But the sadness in his eyes, the defeat in every move he made, told her that he was in pain. And as much as she wanted to be the one to take away the pain and help him learn to love again, she had a feeling that Ana had beaten her to it.

Sara shook off her own melancholy mood and smiled at Max. She’d figured out weeks ago that there would never be anything between them more than friendship, but she would settle even for that.

“Well, where do you think I get my bossiness from?” She quieted a minute, knowing his thoughts were still on Ana and the doctor’s prognosis this morning. “They’ll find her a heart, Max. I know they will. We just have to believe.”

“Yeah.” Absently, he fingered the beeper that hung on his belt loop. He remembered the pride he had felt when Colleen had handed it to him. If…no, when they found Ana a heart, they would page that beeper and the race against time began. They trusted him enough to give him that responsibility, and they understood what it meant to him. “I know, but blind faith that everything will work out for the best has never been my strong suit.”

“Well, you’re just going to have to work on it then. So, what do your friends think about you spending so much time here? I know they have to miss you. You’ve been here everyday as soon as you get off work.”

Max hung his head a little lower. “I haven’t exactly told them yet.”

“What? Why not?”

Max knew she was surprised and probably more than a bit confused, but he really didn’t feel like going into a lengthy explanation at the moment. Sitting and waiting in the hospital all day only to find out that Ana was in fact dying, had taken away the last of his strength. “It’s a long story, Sara.”

Sara saw the despair on his face and cursed herself for bringing it up. He’d been through enough today, they all had. She nodded her head, but saw that his attention had been drawn to movement from the bed.

“Max?” Ana whispered groggily.

“I’m right here, sweetie.” Max moved to her bedside, crouching down low so that they were eye to eye.

She struggled to open her eyes when she heard his voice. “I had a dream.”

“Was it a bad one?” She was struggling to stay awake and talk to him. He saw it but still wanted just a minute more of her sweet voice to hold him until tomorrow.

She shook her head. “It was a good one. You were there and I was there and you were pushing me on the swing and I was flying high in the air. And then we went to the zoo and we were making fun of the monkeys.”

Ana yawned and Max smiled, despite the heaviness in his heart. “What were the monkeys doing?”

“They were making funny monkey noises. Max, can we go to the zoo?”

“Anything you want.” But the nagging voice in the back of his head told him not to promise her anything. They had no guarantee that she would ever go anywhere other than the hospital again. “Why don’t you go back to sleep?”

“Kay.” She closed her eyes again, her small arms wrapped tight around the stuffed dog he had bought her last week. “Max?” She forced her eyes to open again.


“Will you come back tomorrow?”

She had asked him that every day. After a life of being deserted by her family, he couldn’t blame her for wanting to know if the people around her would return. “Of course I will. We can have dinner together. Do you want me to bring you something?”

“Chicken nuggets.” Her eyes were already closing again.

“You got it.” He couldn’t resist smoothing back her hair as she slipped back asleep. Gently, he placed a kiss on her forehead. “Good night, Ana.”

Quietly, he moved away from her bed and slipped out the door with Sara, pretending not to see her wipe a tear from her cheek.

Together, they walked to the front door and Sara opened it for him. “Go home, Max. Spend some time with your family. You’ll be here all day tomorrow again I’m sure.”

Max nodded, knowing she was right. “Thanks, Sara. Tell Colleen I said goodbye, will you?”

Sara nodded, pushing him out the door. She was going to crack any moment and she wanted to be alone when she did. What kind of world was it where innocent little girls died?

“Goodnight, Max.”

Max heard her close the door gently behind him and he slowly made his way to his Jeep. He’d been resisting the urge to destroy something all day, and now he was caught between temper and frustration.

“Max, we have to talk.”

Max looked up to see Maria sitting atop the hood of his Jeep. “Maria? What are you doing here?”

“I could ask you the same question myself. But would you answer it?”

“Maria, could we not do this tonight?”

She shook her head. “Sorry, Max. We’ve given you weeks now, hoping you would come to us and tell us what’s going on. Isabel lives with you and she says she hasn’t seen you in four days. So, your time is up. We’ve been patient and we’ve been understanding. Now it’s time for the truth. What are you doing here? And who was that girl you were talking to?”

Max sighed and sagged against the side of his Jeep. “I can’t do it tonight, Maria. It’s just too much.”

“Max, I thought we talked about this after Liz left. You can’t let your feelings bottle up inside. Look, I know you’ve been lonely since Liz left, and I just want to say that it’s taken me great effort not to storm up there and kick the cheap floozie’s ass, but are you two seeing eachother? Because although I’m trying to be a friend to you, I’m also Liz’s friend. So, if you want to tell me about it, I’ll listen, but I need to tell you that I’m going to have to hurt you when you’re done telling me about all the new ways you’ve broken Liz’s heart.”

“What?” As usual, Max had trouble keeping up with what Maria was saying. “Floozie? Who are you-oh, you mean Sara.”

“Sara,” Maria repeated, a gleam in her eye. “So, that’s her name.”

Max recognized that look and it only meant trouble. “Maria, it’s not like that.” Defeated and tired, he gave in to the depression that had been hanging over him all day. “Can we go somewhere and talk?”

“There’s no one at Michael’s.”

“No, I think I need to smash something.”

Not understanding, but willing to try, Maria hopped off the Jeep. “The rock quarry?”


They drove in silence down the dark highway. Max knew it was taking Herculean effort on Maria’s part not to question him yet. She thought he was seeing someone? That was laughable. Of all people, she should have known that he couldn’t do that again. He’d learned his lesson and was suffering through the consequences.

When they had finally arrived, Max cut the engine to the Jeep, but couldn’t bring himself to get out.

“Max? Talk to me.” His silence had begun to worry her. Her fear over the last week had been that Max had been seeing someone new. But everything inside of her told her it wasn’t true. This wasn’t like before, with Tess. She knew he’d learned from his mistake and was doing everything he could to try to measure up to the man he used to be. That was the only thing that had kept her from smacking him around earlier. But something was definitely wrong.

“Her name is Ana.” Max fixed his gaze out the window, taking comfort in the darkness. “And she has less than a month to live.” He settled himself in the drivers’ seat for the long story ahead. If he could tell anyone, he could tell Maria. And knowing he had someone to share it with made the burdon a bit easier to bear.

posted on 27-Nov-2001 11:52:21 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [email] Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to R for language mostly
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 40

“You’re never going to believe what I found!” Mel swung through the living room door, an excited grin on her face.

“Elvis is still alive?” Kyle offered from the kitchen as he and Liz unpacked a bag of groceries.

“The location of the dead sea scrolls?” Liz suggested while handing Kyle a jar of peanut butter.

“Proof that we’re not alone in the universe?” Kyle lowered his voice to what he thought was an appropriately spooky level.

Not amused, Liz elbowed Kyle in the ribs. “Kyle!”

“Ow!” He exclaimed, unable to stop the chuckle that erupted when he saw the look of horror on Liz’s face. “What?” He asked her. “C’mon, it’s funny.”

“Kyle, you’re going to be the death of us one day.” Liz continued unpacking the groceries despite the look on Kyle’s face. When she felt his finger dig into her ribs, laughter pealed out.

“Kyle! No! That’s not funny! Stop!” She pleaded through her laughter as she twisted to escape his grasp.

“If we’re going to be hunted down, I’d rather do it laughing.”

“Okay, okay, you win. Please stop.” She was having a hard time catching her breath and Kyle let her go, satisfied with her pleas.

“You guys are so weird,” Mel announced, hands on her hips and a confused look on her face.

“Ignore us. It’s been a long week. What have you got?”

Mel’s excitement returned as she faced Kyle and pulled a crumpled piece of paper from her pocket. She held it out for his inspection. “A Rave, tonight. And we’re all going.”

“Excellent,” Kyle announced, crossing the room to take the paper from Mel. “I’m in.” They slapped palms in the air, then turned to face Liz expectantly.

“Oh no. Forget it. Count me out.”

“C’mon, Liz. You have to come. It’ll be so much fun. Have you ever been to a rave before?”

“Oh yeah.”

Kyle snorted with laughter as he remembered the rave of their sophomore year. “I’m sorry. It’s really not funny, but it is.”

“Am I missing something?” Mel inquired. They could do this all day, talk about the past without ever really talking about it. She wondered if it was just because she was around or if it was something else that prevented them from outright reminiscing.

“Let’s just say I’ve never had a good experience with one. You two go. I have plans for a bath and bed.”

“Oh, you would have had a good time at the last one if not for, you know, Dad arresting you and Alex, and Max not talking to you, and Michael breaking up with Maria.” Yeah, that hadn’t been one of their better nights.

“And you know that how? From your days of stalking us in the bushes?”

“Your dad arrested Liz?”

Liz turned a glare on Kyle. They’d forgotten Mel was still there. Apparently, they were getting lazy these days. “I was a victim of circumstance. But that’s beside the point. I’m not going,” she announced. “Really, forget about it.”


“What am I doing here?” Liz shook her head in bewilderment as the party raged on around her.

“You’re going to have fun if it kills you.” Mel declared, scoping out the room for the alcohol.

“What’s the point of living without parental disapproval if you don’t get drunk and live it up once in a while?” Kyle was dancing in place, automatically checking out the room for available women. He spotted a blonde in the corner and he grinned. “It you’ll excuse me, ladies.”

Liz watched as Kyle made his way through the throng to his latest victim. “Amazing. How can he even see in this place?” The lighting was so dim, it was almost non-existent.

“It’s mood lighting. Okay, I’ve spotted the good liquor. We’re going in.” Mel dragged Liz to the makeshift bar.

“Whatta want?”

Mel examined Liz thoughtfully. It was going to take some work to get her loosened up. “Two tequillas.”

“Mel,” Liz protested.

“Hush. It’ll be good for you to loosen up and have some fun. Thanks.” She took the drinks from the shifty looking bartender.

Liz took one of the shots reluctantly.

“Bottoms up,” Mel raised her own glass cheerfully.

“Yeah.” Eyeing the liquid wearily, Liz raised both eyebrows and sighed heavily. “When in Rome…” She raised it to her lips and downed it in one gulp.

“Oh, god, this is foul.” Liz grimaced as she choked, a trail of fire burning in her belly.

“Oh, I think I see Jello Shooters. C’mon!” Mel took off in the direction she’d been looking in, sure Liz was a step behind her.

“Mel, wait!” Liz called out, feeling more than a bit dizzy all of a sudden. What was the matter with her? Sure, she’d never drank before, but she hadn’t expected this kind of reaction. She tried to move forward, but found her footing uneven. Frowning, she tried to remember if the floor had been slanted before. But she found that she couldn’t remember much of anything. A wave of giddiness swept over her body and she had the sudden, ridiculous urge to giggle.

She clamped a hand over her mouth. No, she was going somewhere. Now if only she could remember where exactly that was, she’d be great. Maybe she had been looking for someone. She glanced around the room, but everywhere she looked, dozens of bodies moved together to the beat of the music.

Liz closed her eyes, her senses momentarily on overload. But the world continued to spin around her. Deciding it was better to have the real world spin, she reopened her eyes and caught movement from her peripheral vision.

“Max? What are you doing here?” She could see his dark head moving away from her and she frowned in thought. Why was he leaving? Trying to follow, she tripped on her own feet and stumbled into someone. She opened her mouth to apologize, but a giggle erupted instead.

The annoyed stranger scowled at her as beer dripped from his hand. “Watch where you’re going.”

Liz continued stumbling forward, following the dark head through the crowd. Her head had never felt lighter, no thoughts able to form in her spinning head. And she felt freer than she ever had. If only Max wouldn’t move so fast, she could find out where he was going.


“Hey, I’ve been looking all over for you.”

“What?” Mel yelled back at Kyle, the noise in the room deafening.

“Nevermind. Where’s Liz?”

“Liz? She’s with you.” Mel finished her second round of Jello Shots, surprised when Kyle grabbed her arm and spun her around to face him.

“She’s not with me.” A slick panic raced down his spine. “I haven’t seen her since we got here.”

“Well, she was following me, then she left. I figured she went to find you.” Mel began to panic, this was not good.

“Shit. You lost her?”

“Whoa there. She’s not lost, just misplaced. Don’t worry. We’ll find her. How much trouble could she have gotten into in a few minutes?”

Kyle considered the question. In his experience, they didn’t have to seek out trouble, it always had a way of finding them. He grabbed hold of Mel’s arm, not wanting to lose her too. “Don’t ask. Let’s just find her.”

posted on 27-Nov-2001 11:52:37 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [email] Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to R for language mostly
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 41

Maria sat in Max’s Jeep, running a comforting hand through his hair. The sun had begun peeking over the horizon an hour ago and they had just finished talking. Max had poured his heart out to her, telling her every fear, every wish he had. He’d told her all about meeting Ana and the endless doctor appointments. He’d told Maria about her failing heart and that the only hope Ana had of living was if another little girl out there somewhere died to give it to her. And they had cried together all night.

In turn, Maria had told Max her fears about never hearing from Liz again, or the hundred irrational reasons she had come up with as to why her best friend hadn’t called or even written yet. She’d told him about her progressing relationship with Michael and how they were looking more and more likely to have a future together.

They had laid everything they had bare and had ended up watching the sun rise together. Hours and hours ago, they had called Michael and had asked him to inform the Evans that Max would be staying with him all night. Maria knew Michael had been curious and a bit miffed at being left out, but she knew he understood. So, he had covered for Max, and they had both been thankful that Amy was out of town. With Jim Valenti again, no doubt. But she had other things to worry about than her mother’s sex life.

Max’s head was resting on her lap as she smoothed back his hair the way her mother used to do when it had felt as though her world was coming to an end. She knew he was still awake and had fallen back into his thoughts again. He had told her all about Ana, the little girl with the dying heart, and though she had never met her, Maria’s own heart broke for them all.

Poor little Ana had never known a life without pain and loneliness, desertion from her family and the people she thought she could trust. And poor Max had never known a life without fear, without the feeling that he didn’t belong, and now he lived with the constant questions that haunted him. They still didn’t know if Tess had mindwarped him into believing they had slept together and conceived a child. Their relentless pursuit for the Granolith that had driven Liz away, had ended months ago and it had left Max with more questions than answers.

Maria could still remember the look on Max’s face when they stood in front of the Granolith for the first time after seeing it blast out of the chamber walls. They had searched night and day, finally able to locate it in the middle of the desert. Max had stood frozen, staring at the empty cylinder that had contained Tess when it had taken off.

The Granolith was in relatively good shape, a few patches that needed fixing, but they had taken care of that easily enough. Or at least they thought they had. It was always hard to tell with alien devices. But when Max had reached out and touched the Granolith’s smooth base, he had been assaulted by images. And the confusion had begun. The events he’d seen had led them to believe that Tess had been mindwarping them all at one point or another. Max had said that he felt as though he connected with Tess through the Granolith, and through that connection he had not felt a baby.

Maria glanced down at Max’s head and sighed deeply. Their lives had become so screwed up, she didn’t know which way to turn now. Low moral she could deal with. Alien enemies were no sweat. But dying little girls and the heartbroken look on Max’s face were too much for her to bear. It was no wonder they’d found each other. They seemed to be filling a place in the other’s very soul that no one else had been able to fill. She only hoped for all their sakes that something could be done to save Ana. Because for the second time in Max Evans life, it appeared that he had fallen head over heels in love. And he was in danger of losing out on even more this time.


Max’s voice brought her out of her own thoughts. “Hmm?”

“It’s almost breakfast time. Do you want to go to the House with me? I’d like you to meet Ana.” Somehow, talking to Maria, putting his emotions into words had been cathartic. He saw things more clearly this morning. There was hope today that wasn’t there before. By the end of the day, Michael and Isabel would know what was going on and instead of having to avoid his friends, they could walk beside him.

Maria smiled at the strength in his voice. She knew that Max. He was the Max that had been taught by Liz to know that in the end, it always works out and love conquers all. It had been a long time since anyone had seen him.

“Yeah. I’d love to meet her.”

Forty five minutes later, Maria found herself walking up to the front door of the house she had spent all of last night staring at. Max walked in, knowing he was welcome and she followed him with a smile. Michael and Isabel were behind them, a bit more confused, but there nonetheless. They had called the others and asked them to meet at the House. This seemed to make more sense to Isabel than it did to Michael, but he had only complained marginally about being left out of the loop.

While Max had gone to play with a group of boys in the yard, Maria had filled them in briefly on what Max had been doing these last few weeks. She had explained how important it was for them to meet Ana, and so the trio had followed Max into the house.

“Max? Is that you?” Colleen came around the corner, wiping her hands on a dishtowel. “I didn’t expect to see you so early this morning. Sara told me how late you two were up last night.” Her eyes lighted on the trio surrounding him. “Oh, hi. I’m sorry, I didn’t see you there. I’m Colleen.”

“Colleen, this is my sister, Isabel, my best friend Michael and his girlfriend Maria.”

“Hi.” Maria moved forward to shake Colleen’s hand. She’d heard about the wonderful things this woman had done and she would have given her a medal if she could have. “I’m so happy to meet you.”

“Maria, is it? I’m happy to finally meet you, as well. Max has told us quiet a few stories.” Colleen smiled, already liking the younger girls’ energy.

“Well, I’m sure they were all good, because Max knows better..”

“We’ll talk later,” Colleen promised with a wink. She turned to Isabel. “You’re Phillip’s daughter. He’s done some wonderful things to help us out. I heard you came by for a visit while I was out of town last month. I was hoping you would come back so I could meet you.”

“I meant to come back and let you know how impressed I am with how you run this place with so little funding. I’m on a few committees, and if they knew about the wonderful work you were doing here, I’m sure you could get more help.”

Colleen smiled. The girl was a copy of her father. They held themselves the same way, had the same mannerisms. And Phillip had said almost the same thing to her when they had first met. So, she gave Isabel the same answer she had given her father years ago. “I look forward to talking to you about it.”

Michael looked around uncomfortably. He knew he was supposed to say something clever or polite, but when were they going to learn that those sort of things just didn’t come naturally to him? “Uh, hi. I’m Michael. Which of course, you already knew because we were already introduced. So, I have nothing else to say at this time.”

Colleen’s smile widened. She’d seen his kind before, gruff exterior with a soft heart underneath. How could he be otherwise if he had a girl like Maria on his arm? “Nice to meet you as well.”

A trio of children skittered down the hall when they saw Max, all clamoring for his attention.


“Hey, Max! Are you here for breakfast?”

“Yeah! Sara’s making pancakes. You coming?”

Max smiled at the group of ten year olds excitedly trying to win his attention. “Yeah, I’m coming. Can you save me a seat and I’ll be there in a minute?”

“Sure thing, Max. Max is sitting next to me!” The girl ran off in the direction of the kitchen.

“No, he’s not! He’s sitting with me!”

“He sat with you last time!”

The remaining two children followed at breakneck speed and as they turned a corner, the distinctive sound of breaking glass could be heard.

Colleen rolled her eyes. Those three were nothing but trouble when they were together. “If you’ll excuse me, I have some glass to attend to.”

“Could you use some help?” Isabel asked. When Colleen nodded her head, Isabel found herself smiling back at the older woman. She really did want to talk to her about helping her get funding.

“It looks like the Christmas Nazi just found herself another good cause. And let me tell you, I am not doing anymore doll shopping this year, no matter what the reason.”

“C’mon, Michael. You only had to spend one afternoon in a toy store to help out. Is that too much to ask?”

“One afternoon? Try three days. I couldn’t find the stupid Patty doll Isabel told me she had to have and I spent the better part of a week trying to track the stupid thing down.”

Maria looked at her boyfriend strangely. “You spent a week trying to find a doll?”

“I don’t want to even talk about the nightmares it gave me. Screaming kids and all those parents pushing and shoving to get in line.” He shivered. “It still creeps me out.”

“Michael, you do realize you could have just, um…used a little…you know…and changed a normal doll into the one you were looking for?”

Michael stared at her, jaw hanging slightly open. Why hadn’t he thought of that? And he felt monumentally stupid. “Well, where the hell were you last week?”

Maria rose up on her tiptoes to place a kiss on Michael’s lips. He was too adorable when he pouted. “Waiting for you at home. I wondered where you were spending all of your time.”

Max tried not to smile at the look on Michael’s face, but it was getting hard. “Michael, if Sara’s in the kitchen cooking, she may need a bit of help.” He leaned closer, whispering. “She doesn’t make her batter from scratch.”

“What?” Michael’s eyes got wide. “Well, that’s just stupid. Where’s the kitchen?”

“That way.” Max pointed in the direction the trio of kids had run off to. Michael followed Max’s direction, muttering under his breath.

“You know that’s one of his cardinal sins, right?”

“He does make some mean pancakes.” Max’s eyes drifted upstairs, the humor dying from his eyes.

“Do you want me to come with you? Or do you want to go by yourself?” Maria squeezed Max’s arm gently.

“I want you to meet her.” He couldn’t explain it to Maria, but if Liz couldn’t be there to meet the little girl herself, having Maria there was almost as good. Maria would understand and she wouldn’t forget. She would know how important it was to Max that someone remember Ana if she didn’t make it.

Together, they climbed the steps up to the third floor. Maria followed Max, knowing this would be the first trip of a hundred she would make to this room. Max pushed open the door and Maria felt her heart fly into her throat. Tears flooded her eyes when she saw the little girl propped up in bed by a dozen pillows. Her long, dark hair was fanned out around her. She was dressed in a faded pink nightgown and around the drooping collar, Maria could see how pale and lifeless her skin was. She was combing the matted hair of an old doll, and when she turned and saw her visitors, her face lit up in an angelic smile. The dark circles around her eyes seemed to fade a bit and though there was fatigue behind every movement, she moved to the side of the bed, allowing room for Max to join her.

Max crossed the room to take his seat beside Ana. She was awake already and he hadn’t expected her to have the energy to do anything other than sleep again today. But here she was, surprising him again, playing with her doll, and smiling at him like the world wasn’t in fact ending.

“Ana, I want you to meet a good friend of mine. This is Maria.”

Ana smiled shyly through her lashes at the new girl. “Hi. Wanna play dolls?”

Maria found herself unable to resist that grin and she crossed the room to sit at the foot of the bed. “Of course I do. You are talking to the girl that owned the most dolls on her entire block.” Maria took the old doll from Ana’s limp arms and she began to slowly untangle the knot of hair with the comb.

Ana watched in awe as the tangles disappeared out of the dolls hair. “Max can’t do that.”

“I can too,” Max protested, running a protective hand over Ana’s head.

Ana rolled her eyes and Maria found herself laughing at the gesture. This kid had Max pegged.

“Oh really? What about Betsy?”

Max blushed. “Okay, that was an accident. And Sara fixed it, didn’t she?”

Maria leaned in closer to Ana. “Let me tell you a secret, honey. Men are useless when it comes to things like that. You need a woman’s touch for delicate matters like hair brushing.”

Michael burst into the room, a mixing bowl in one hand and Sara trailing close behind. “Max, there you are. Would you please tell Julia Childs here that you can’t make pancakes from a box? I’ve tried to reason with her, but she’s too stubborn to listen to reason.”

Sara sputtered, making a dash for the mixing bowl. Michael easily pulled it out of her reach, holding it high above Sara’s head. He turned back to Max. “If you need me, I’ll be making breakfast.” He turned his attention to the little girl on the bed. “After all, it’s not everyday I get to make breakfast for two beautiful ladies.” He winked at Maria before turning and heading for the kitchen.

Maria felt her heart flutter as Ana giggled over Michael’s words. If she hadn’t already loved him, that would have done it for her. She turned to Max, but found him engrossed in pointing to something out the window to Ana. She sighed in contentment.

Fate wouldn’t let anything bad happen to them again, would it? Hadn’t they been through enough? Somehow, someway, this would all work out and Max and Ana would realize that the world wasn’t an unfair place to live in after all.

posted on 27-Nov-2001 11:53:01 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [email] Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to R for language mostly
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 42

“Oh, god. Kyle, it’s been over an hour. What are we going to do?” Mel’s eyes continued to dart around frantically. They’d searched the place high and low and still had seen no sign of Liz anywhere. And though she had been trying to keep calm, panic was starting to set in.

Kyle ran his fingers through his hair nervously. He’d lost Liz. How could he have been so stupid as to leave her alone in a place like this? She hadn’t even wanted to come and now she was missing. She could be anywhere. She could have been picked up by a stranger and kidnapped. Or worse. It could have been one of their old enemies. And that was the paralyzing fear that had been growing in his head for an hour now.

If Nicholas or one of the skins got a hold of her, dear old King Max would give up anything and everything to get her back. Or at least the old Max would. The new and not so improved version that had broken Liz’s heart might not give up their all important artifacts for a lowly human. How could they have forgotten the threats that faced them? Take them out of town for a few months and they started feeling safe again, started forgetting that their lives were in constant danger.

“We need to search again.”

Something about the tone in Kyle’s voice was beginning to worry Mel even more. But now wasn’t the time or place. “I agree. Let’s split up and meet back here.”

“No.” Kyle grabbed hold of her arm, not letting her leave his side. “Splitting up is never the best way to do things. If we stay together, they have less of a chance to capture one of us.”

“Capture? Kyle, what are you talking about? Who are ‘they’? I’m talking about Liz, and all I know is that she’s missing. We’ve stuck together and it didn’t work. Now we’re doing it my way. And in my way, we meet back here in fifteen minutes. If we can’t find her, then we come up with another plan. I’ll take the second floor. You take down here.” She eyed him warily. Was he okay? Ever since they’d discovered Liz missing, he seemed to have turned into a different person. He kept making vague references to “them” and she wasn’t sure if she should be worried about him losing his mind, or worried about some unknown group of shifty characters that were hunting them down. It was definitely a question for later, when Liz was safe and sound in her bed.

Kyle was still in his trance, so she pinched his forearm hard.

“Ow! What the hell did you do that for?”

“Now isn’t the time for guilt. We need to be on the same page here. Liz wouldn’t just disappear, so she’s in some sort of trouble. So, you need to snap out of whatever you’re in and search this floor. I’ll be back in fifteen minutes.”

Kyle nodded. She was right. Worrying wouldn’t find Liz. “Fifteen minutes,” he agreed, watching her disappear towards the stairs. He hated letting her out of his sight, but it was unavoidable. He moved into action, searching the ground floor. His mind automatically sought out all exits out of the building. Which would have been the most inconspicuous way to drag someone out of a crowded room?


Tag was bored. There was just no other way to describe what he was feeling. A friend of his had dragged him out here, promising it to be the party of the year. He looked around him at the hordes of people drinking and jamming to the overly loud music. Why had he agreed to come here anyway? Oh, yeah, his adventurous side.

“Hey, man! There you are! Some party, huh?”

“Yeah,” Tag moved a step away from his very drunk friend and sighed. Some friendships should just stay High School friendships and end there. “Look, man. I think I’m gonna head out of here.”

“No! You can’t! The party’s just started! I’ll tell you what, why don’t you come upstairs with me. I know of a couple of the more secret rooms with some action going on.”

“What kind of action?” Yeah, this was something he wanted to get tangled up in. Oh, was this friendship over as of tonight.

“Relax!” He laughed, spilling beer everywhere. “It’s not that kind of action. There’s some gambling. That’s all. A couple of pool tables, some card games, the usual. I know that’s right up your alley.”

Tag sighed. Too many people knew his weaknesses, it seemed. He never could turn down a good game of pool. If that was all that was going on upstairs. “Okay, one game, then I’m gone.”

“Excellent! C’mon, I’ll show you the way.” He turned towards the stairs, knocking into someone flying down the stairs.

”Watch where you’re going, Creep.”

Tag watched his friend give the girl a drunken leer and he wondered if he really thought that would work. But the girl looked familiar somehow.

“Hey, baby. Where you goin’ in such a hurry?” He only grinned when she kept moving. “Her loss.” But oh, what women in leather pants did for him.

“Right. You said something about a pool table?”

“Step this way, my good man.”

Tag followed his friend up the stairs and down a hallway. He watched him pull open a door that had looked just like another wall panel to him.

“Welcome to the real party.” He gestured him inside, stopping to talk to a skinny kid that couldn’t have been more than sixteen. “What’s going on up here, man?”

The kid folded his arms over his chest. “The usual. Couple of games set up in the back. Louie’s here. The Feldman brothers started some trouble a few minutes ago. Oh, and some hot chick’s wiping the floor with Eddie in the pool room.”

“Then that’s where we’re headed.”

Tag could only roll his eyes. What had he gotten himself into? He could be at home planning his trip right now. Instead, he had fallen on the pleas of an old friend set on rekindling a dead friendship. They walked into a large, open room and Tag frowned in recognition. A brunette was laughingly chalking up her pool cue as a couple of guys continued hitting on her. Why was she so familiar looking? She was dressed in a pair of form fitting black pants and a blue tank top that didn’t leave much to the imagination. Then her dark eyes turned in their direction and it hit him like a bolt of lightening.

“Liz?” He began moving across the room, long legs eating up the space between them. What the hell was she doing here? Sure, he’d only met her for a few minutes, but he really didn’t get the impression that she’d be the type that would hang out in a place like this.

“Tag! I’m so glad you’re here.” She tried to move forward, but tripped over her own feet, landing squarely in Tag’s arms. “Have you met my friends Eddie and Joe? I thought Eddie was Max,” she confessed. “But that didn’t make any sense. What would Max be doing here? And they were kind enough to invite me up to play with them.”

“Yeah, I’ve met them before.” He’d gone to school with them for four years and he knew more about them than he liked. “Liz, you’re drunk.”

“No!” She exclaimed, slurring her words slightly. Then she lowered her voice and leaned in close enough for Tag to catch a whiff of her perfume. “Maybe just a little.”

Tag resisted the urge to close his eyes in frustration. “A little? How much did you have to drink?”

Liz tried to squeeze her fingers together to show him how much she had drank, but kept missing. She focused all of her concentration on the movements. And Tag had his answer, way too much.

“Okay, you are going home.” He turned to the two guys that were still busy leering at her. “Alright, guys. Fun’s over. Give her back whatever money you took from her.”

“Are you crazy? She’s taken us for everything we’ve got.”

“What?” Tag turned back to Liz, pulling her aside. “Liz, are you…hustling pool?”

She let out a girlish giggle and he found himself grinning back at her.

“It’s really not that hard. Besides, I’m using my secret weapon.”

“And that is?” He was almost afraid to ask. If those two guys found out she was cheating them, there would be hell to pay.

“Geometry. It’s just a game of math. All you have to do is calculate the…I can’t remember the name just now, but it’s all numbers.”

“You’re drunk and you’re scamming them by using math?” This was almost more than he could bear. Was this girl for real?

“Hey, are you playing or what?” Joe called out across the room.

“She’s leaving. You’re leaving.” He started dragging her across the room, surprised when Eddie blocked his path.

“Hey, the lady promised us another game. We have the right to win some of our money back. You got a problem with that?”

Liz turned in his arms and suddenly she was uncomfortably close to him. “Oh, we can play doubles!” She exclaimed, then turned her pouting lips to Tag. “You’ll play, won’t you? Pretty please, with sugar on top?”

Suddenly amused by the entire situation, Tag felt as though he was living someone else’s life. “Why the hell not. But one game then you leave with me.” He eyed his old High School chums. They met his glare, but backed down.

“Okay, I’m breaking!” Liz announced cheerfully as she stumbled around the pool table to set up the pool balls. The other three men watched her failed attempts and Tag decided to take pity on her. How long could one game last in her condition anyway?


Mel and Kyle rode back to the apartment in silence. They had searched the building a half dozen times and had even expanded their search to the surrounding buildings, but they hadn’t had any luck. Currently, their plan was to see if by some miracle, Liz had made it home, and if not, they were heading straight for the police station.

Mel studied the familiar road before them. Kyle had reached a near panic hours ago and now he was sitting quietly. And that fact almost scared her more than his panic attack had. All night she had turned the events over in her mind. Why had she not made sure Liz was following her? What if there was something in Liz’s shot and she hadn’t been able to call out for help? Dozens of endless scenarios rant through her head as Kyle continued to break all laws to get them home.

She placed a hand on Kyle’s thigh in an attempt to offer him some sort of comfort. She knew he didn’t blame her for Liz, but blamed himself. And that was harder to bear somehow.

They pulled to a stop in front of the apartment building and they both hopped out in a leap, taking the stairs three at a time to the room they shared. Kyle hadn’t expected Mel to keep up, but she was a breath behind him.

Finally, he pushed open the front door, dropping his things loudly. “Liz! Liz! Are you here?”

Mel went one way and Kyle went the other, both searching the apartment for signs of Liz. Tearfully, they met in the living room.

“She’s not here.”

Mel saw Kyle beginning to zone out again and she moved to his side. “It’ll be okay. We’ll call your dad and the police just to be safe and-“

The door knob turned and both residents were surprised to see the door swing open again.

“Tag? What are you-Liz! Thank god!” Mel was at her side in an instant. Her friend was draped over Tag’s back, and she was giggling like a loon.

“Liz! Where have you been? We were looking all over for you!” Kyle moved to pull Liz from Tag’s back and began dragging her towards the couch. “Are you alright?” Unable to help himself, he began searching her for injuries.

“Why, Kyle, I didn’t think you cared.”

Kyle let her drop to the couch in confusion, turning to Tag. “She’s drunk.”

“Not my fault. She was like that when I found her.”

“Where was she?” They’d searched the place high and low.

“Back room. I found her hustling pool from a couple of low lifes. She did pretty good too.”

“Hustling pool?” Kyle turned a frantic look to Liz, who was still giggling at him from the couch. “We were worried sick and you were hustling pool?” It was amazing. He saw Mel pull Tag aside and he crouched down beside Liz. “Are you okay?”

“Oh, Kyle, you’re hurt!”

Kyle looked down and saw a thin trickle of blood on his arm. When had that happened? He’d been so intent on finding Liz that everything else had been secondary. “It’s nothing.”

“Let me fix it for you.” Liz pulled Kyle’s arm closer, resting her hand over the cut on his elbow.

“No, Liz, really, it’s a scratch.” But his eyes widened considerably when he saw the faint glow of light under Liz’s palm. What the hell? He pulled her hand back and examined the skin that had been torn a second before. It was smooth and whole now. Had she just…

“See? All better.”

Thought churned in Kyle’s mind. Liz had just healed him. There had to be a logical explanation for it, but hell if he could find one that wasn’t likely to freak him out. Max. It had to be Max. Hadn’t Ava told them that Max had changed Liz when he’d healed her? Were some sort of freakish alien powers developing inside of her? That was the last thing they needed right now. Should he tell her? Or should it go under the file of things to tell her only if she outright asked him about it? Like that “Elise” slip of Max’s in Roswell? Would it do her any good to know she was developing alien powers just when she was starting to have a normal life? No. He would keep it under wraps for now, wait until the time was right and then tell her. It wouldn’t do any good to anyone right now.

Relieved that the danger was over, Mel could smile at the situation. Liz was alright, a little drunk, but alright. “Thank you, Tag. But I think we’ve got her from here.” She gestured towards Kyle, who was still kneeling next to Liz, whispering to her. “You might want to head out of here while you still can.”

“Yeah. Listen, tell her to lay off the liquor for awhile. I don’t think she handles it very well.”

Mel pushed Tag towards the door. “Oh, don’t worry. I’m sure she’ll figure that out for herself tomorrow. Good night, Tag.” She closed the door in his face and turned back to her two roommates.

She watched as Kyle ran a hand through his hair again and she fought not to smile at him. “Relax, dad. I’ll take her to her room and get her undressed.” She pulled Liz off the couch. “Up we go.” She hooked her arm under Liz’s shoulder and half dragged her down the hall. She knew Kyle was following them, unwilling to let them out of his sight, but she pushed Liz’s door closed in his face. “Sorry, only girls allowed in here.” That would piss him off, guaranteed, but she could worry about him later.

Mel dropped Liz onto her bed and began the difficult task of pulling off Liz’s shirt. When she was done, Mel could only stand back and laugh. Tucked in Liz’s bra were dozens of dollar bills. “You really did hustle them, didn’t you?” And she found that she was strangely proud of her friend.

“Oh, yeah. They really weren’t all that hard to beat anyway.” She rolled her eyes, recounting the tale as Mel tried to strip Liz of her pants. “I thought Eddie was Max, and I kept following them. But when I stopped them, I realized that Eddie could never be Max. He just has those eyes, you know? I always could just melt when he looked at me.”

“Eddie?” Mel asked, struggling with one of Liz’s boots.

“No, Max!” Liz giggled again, flopping back on the bed, a dreamy sigh escaping her lips. “He used to just watch me, all the time, no matter where we were. He would just walk into the room and I would know. I could feel him inside.”

Mel stopped her struggles, sitting on the floor. This was the first time she’d heard any stories of Liz’s old life. So, there was a guy. Didn’t it just figure?

“So, this Max, what happened?”

“He broke my heart. And I broke his. There was so much pain it was hard to breathe.” Her giggles had stopped, her eyes closing as she talked.

“Well, it’s like I always say, Men are nothing but trouble. What did this guy do to you?”

“He found his destiny. And it wasn’t me.” Liz yawned loudly, rolling over on the bed, still half dressed. “He’s a king, you know. And he lived in a beautiful castle in the stars. And I was going to live with him.”

Mel shook her head as her friend rambled on about royalty. “Oh, yeah. You’re drunk all right. I’ll be surprised if you remember any of this tomorrow.” She pulled off Liz’s last boot and stood up, not surprised to find her fast asleep.

“We were worried about you, you know. Don’t ever do that to us again.” Mel pulled Liz’s comforter around her, cocooning her in the soft blanket. She turned out the light and went to find Kyle, knowing he would want a full progress report.

posted on 27-Nov-2001 11:53:19 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [email] Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to R for language mostly
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 43

“Oh, no. I got the gumdrop guy again,” Max lamented as he moved his cardboard player back to the beginning of the game. A game of Candy Land was spread out on the bed before them.

Ana giggled, covering her mouth with her hands. “You always get that card.”

Max glared at her. “I think you’re cheating. You always get the Princess card. So, where do you hide them? Are they up your sleeves?” He made a show of looking up the long sleeve of her purple nightgown. “I don’t see any up there.”

“Silly! I’m just lucky.” She pulled another card from the deck, delighted when she pulled a double red card. “Only one more turn and I win.”

“Thanks for reminding me,” he said dryly. “We’re playing Chutes and Ladders next. Isabel never could beat me at that game. She used to get so mad, she’d yell and stomp her feet and not talk to me for a whole day.” Max leaned in close to whisper. “But that was okay with me.” Max pulled a card from the stack and moved his piece forward a blue square.

Ana sighed. “You’re so lucky to have a sister.” She picked at the quilt, her interest in the game lost.

“I guess so.” Max hadn’t really thought of himself as lucky before. He’d spent most of his childhood attached at the hip with Isabel, and though he was glad he had someone around who understood him, he’d never really stopped to think about how lucky he was to have her in his life.

“I’d give anything to have a sister,” she whispered.

“How about a brother?”

Ana scrunched her face in disgust. “I guess so. If I have to have one. But he’d have to do what I said.”

“Well, I hate to break it to you, but brothers usually don’t. Isabel used to try to boss me around all the time, and I never listened to what she had to say.”

“Used to? You mean you got her to stop?” Michael walked into the room, dropping an armful of bags carefully on the floor.

“Michael. Where have you guys been? You went out for lunch like two hours ago. I was beginning to wonder if you were ever coming back.”

“Yeah, well, we got a little sidetracked.” Michael moved back into the hallway and Max could hear noises.

“What are they doing?” Ana asked Max, craning her neck to see out in the hall.

“I don’t know. But if Isabel and Maria are involved, it could be anything.”

On cue, Maria breezed into the room, a bright red Santa Clause hat perched on her head with a sprig of mistletoe attached to the white tip. “Merry Christmas,” she announced cheerfully. She walked around to the bed and placed a smaller version of her hat on Ana’s head. It sunk down over her eyes and Maria laughingly pulled it back up on her forehead. “We’ll have to work on it.” She gestured to Max. “Maybe you could see what you can do with it?”

“Got it.” He pulled the hat from Ana’s head and moved behind the little girl. It took him only a second to size it down to fit her small head. “Perfect fit.”

“Don’t worry about me, Maria. I’ve got it all by myself.” Isabel staggered through the room, a tightly bound Christmas tree under her arm.

Max moved to take it from her and she sent him a thankful look. “I don’t even want to tell you where I have sap. It’s going to take a week to get rid of it all.”

“What’s going on here, guys?” Max asked as Maria continued to pull red hats from her bag and placing them on the heads of everyone in the room.

Maria turned to look at Ana. “Isn’t he slow today. What does it look like to you?"

“Christmas!” Ana bounced lightly on the bed in excitement as she watched Maria pull bows and bulbs from the bags Michael had deposited on the floor.

“Aren’t you clever.” Maria turned to Max. “Colleen was telling us how disappointed Ana was that she couldn’t come downstairs to help them decorate the Christmas tree last week, so we thought we’d bring Christmas to her.”

Max smiled in gratitude as he remembered the look on Ana’s face when she found out she had slept through the entire process of decorating the big tree downstairs. She had been running a high fever at the time and she hadn’t been able to keep any food in her system. Max had sat with her, watching her sleep and reading her the occasional story as they had listened to the others cheerfully decorate for the holidays.


“Yeah, I know, I know. You’re in eternal debt to me.” She winked at him, placing a Santa hat firmly on his head. “Just be more cheerful this year than you were last, okay? And if you feel in the giving spirit this year, I’m a size four and there’s this little black dress at Macy’s in the window that I’ve had my eye on. I hinted at Spaceboy over here but I think we remember the present he tried to pass off on me last year.”

Max found himself grinning as he remembered Michael polishing the bumper for Maria’s car he’d found at the dump. He and Isabel both had tried to warn Michael that Maria wouldn’t stand for it, but he had stubbornly ignored them. Thankfully, Isabel had foreseen it and had bought a pair of pearl earrings for her. “Yeah, but he did buy you those wonderful earrings.”

Maria scoffed. “Like I didn’t know Isabel picked those out. Have you seen Michael’s taste?” She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye. He was wrapping a strand of colored lights around Ana’s shoulders and making her laugh. Her heart softened just watching it. They’d come a long way. “But I love the guy, so I let him think he’d pulled one over on me.”

“Maria, you’re too good to him sometimes.” Max teased.

“All women are a little bit more understanding when it comes to men. We have to be.” She patted him on the cheek. “But you wouldn’t understand that, would you? It’s alright. Just remember Macy’s, size four.”

“Okay, I know I come off as independent and all, but could someone please help me out here?” Isabel was struggling with the tree, trying to set it upright in the tree stand they had purchased.

“I’ll help,” Maria offered, moving to help Isabel.

“Yo, Maxwell, do something with these.” Michael tossed a bag of CD’s to Max. “There’s a player somewhere in these bags.” Michael was busy wrapping Ana up like a Christmas tree, engrossed in trying to make the star stay on her head. But she kept giggling at him, and it slipped back to the mattress.

“Smile, guys!”

Michael held the star atop her head as they both obediently faced Isabel’s camera.

Max watched his friends work together and he couldn’t help but smile. Maria was busy trying to make sure the tree was perfectly straight. Michael and Ana were mock wrestling on the bed as he tried to hand tinsel from her ears. And Isabel kept snapping pictures of the two.

His family had really come through for him and he wondered why he hadn’t known they would. How could they not look at Ana and fall in love with her instantly like he’d done?

“Max! Come on over here and help me decorate this tree. There’s something wrong with it, I think. It keeps moving.” Michael tried to keep Ana still, but she was giggling uncontrollably now.

“Michael, can you get the rest of the decorations out of the bags, please?”

Michael mock saluted Maria and Max took Michael’s place on the bed.

“Where did Ana go? I thought I saw her on the bed, but she’s not here now.”

“I’m right here, silly!”

Max made a show of pulling the tinsel off her and gave her an exaggerated smile. “There you are. What happened?”

“He kept putting this stuff on me, and I tried to tell him I wasn’t a tree, but he wouldn’t listen to me!”

“Well, we’ll just have to find a way to get him back for it later, okay? Do you feel okay enough to help decorate? Or do you want to take a nap first?”

“Decorate!” She announced.

Max hadn’t seen her so excited in longer than he could remember and he made a mental note to personally thank all three of them later. The soft sounds of Bing Crosby floated out from behind them.

“No, not that CD. Put in the one where the dogs bark out the Christmas Carols.” Michael instructed, his hands full as he hung a wreath on Ana’s bare walls.

“I thought I took that one out of the cart.” Isabel rolled her eyes, looking to Maria for support. But Maria cheerfully grinned at them both.

“That was the decoy CD. He usually keeps the real one on him and slips in it at the last minute.”

“You think you know all my secrets, huh?” The wreath hung, Michael turned to pull Maria into the circle of his arms.

“Honey, I do know all your secrets. You only think you’re fooling me.” She placed a kiss atop his nose, settling further in his arms.

“Are they always like this?” Ana asked as she sorted through box after box of ornaments to decide which ones she liked best.

“Oh yeah.” And he wouldn’t have it any other way. “Here, how about we move the tree next to the bed so you can hang the ones you want?”

“Already on it,” Maria sung out, slipping from Michael’s arms. “Give me a hand here.”

Together, they moved the tree to Ana’s bedside so she could gleefully hang the brightly colored balls from the limbs. And in the background, Isabel continued snapping away with her camera, recording their first Christmas together as a family.

posted on 27-Nov-2001 11:53:35 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [email] Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to R for language mostly
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 44

“Oh, god. I think I’m going to die.”

Kyle held Liz’s hair back as she clung to the toilet in agony. “No, you only wish you were.” He grimaced as she began retching anew. “You know, sweetie. If there were any faint glimmers of attraction left over from our days of dating, I think this safely stamped them out.”

“You’re too good to me, Kyle.” She closed her eyes, wishing for death to come quickly and take her away. How could simple things like the sun and Kyle flushing the toilet make her want to claw out her eyes and rip off her ears?

“So, you had exactly how much to drink last night?”

“I’m kind of fuzzy on that. All I remember is tequilla and then nothing. I feel like I drank a gallon.” Shakily, she sat back against the wall, resting her head against the cool tile. “Remind me never to drink again.”

“I have a feeling I won’t need to.” He eyed her a moment, unsure of how to begin the conversation she wouldn’t want to have. “You scared us last night.”

“I know. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to.”

Kyle looked down at his hands. “Well, I owe you an apology too. You didn’t even want to go last night and we browbeat you into going.”

“You were just trying to make me have some fun. I just wish I could remember some of it.” She had a feeling she knew where this was going.

“The thing is, we shouldn’t have done it. It was stupid, Liz. You of all people know how unsafe things like that are. We’ve been here for a few months and we think we’re safe from everything we left behind. We’ve got to start being more careful than that. We should stick together from now on, never separate. And Mel is living with us now too.”

“And what? She should pack her bags and move out? Kyle, listen to yourself. The reason I left Roswell was because of all this. I was tired of being afraid all the time. Okay, we had a scare last night, but nothing Czech related happened.”

Kyle’s eyes floated around the room nervously.


“Nothing.” It was nothing. He’d sworn to himself he wouldn’t bring it up this morning. “I just think you should be safer.”

“Kyle, I appreciate the gesture, really I do. But I’m not going to let my life be rearranged to keep me safe. The truth is, you can’t protect me all the time. I know you try and I love you for it. But I wouldn’t let Max make decisions for me and I won’t let you do it either. Besides, what are you going to do? Give up all your dates to spend your waking hours with me? Or maybe I should tag along with you.”

“I just don’t think you’re taking it seriously,” he pouted.

“I am. But the thing is, I’m not anybody of any interest anymore. Max had Tess and hopefully by now they have his son. If anyone wanted to get to Max, why would they bother with me?”

Because you’ll always be the love of his life. He wanted to tell her, but knew she didn’t need to hear it to know. As much as he hated Max for what he’d done to Liz, he understood that there would always be that ‘other half of my soul’ kind of love between them. But maybe she was right about him overreacting for now. He couldn’t very well follow her everywhere she went and he couldn’t kick Mel out of their lives completely based on the possibility of an enemy threat. So, what was the happy medium?

“So let’s compromise,” he suggested. “How about you promise to be more careful and I’ll back off on the safety issue?”


“So, hustling pool, huh?”

“Apparently. I made fifty dollars last night.”

“Then you can treat us to dinner when you’re up for food again. At least one of us got to have a bit of fun last night.”

“If I apologize again, can we stop with the talking?”

“Silence it is.”

“Hey, guys! How are we feeling on this bright and sunny morning?”

“Please kill her,” Liz moaned, covering her head with her hand.

“I made breakfast,” Mel announced cheerfully. “Eggs, extra runny with sausage and bacon sizzled to perfection.”

Liz made a grab for the toilet and Kyle stood, pushing Mel from the bathroom forcefully.

“Liz, are you…”

Liz waved a hand at him, her forehead resting on the toilet rim again. “Go. I’m not going anywhere.”

Kyle followed Mel into the living room. “That was evil.”

“Yeah, well the good ones are just easy targets. It makes me feel better for all the worrying I did last night. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m glad she’s okay. But she did spend the evening having fun while we drove ourselves mad with worry. And if a little good natured ribbing makes me feel better about that, then so be it. So, how is she doing really?”

“She’s okay, just hung over. I think we had a worse time than she did.”

Mel watched him sink to the couch in frustration. Why did it always seem like he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders? “Well, she was having the time of her life last night. She kept going on and on with wild stories about this and that.”

“Oh? Like what?” Kyle tried to make the question casual. Had Liz said something to Mel last night?

“Nonsense really. She kept talking about Max, and then a bunch of nonsense about royalty.” She saw Kyle’s body jerk at her words and curiousity got the better of her. “Okay, what was that?”


“You know what I’m talking about. You just had a freak attack when I said the name Max. I already figured he’s Liz’s long lost love that stomped her heart into the ground. But what is it about him that makes you react like that?”

“You’ve got the stomping part right.” Kyle rubbed his heads wearily over his face. He hadn’t gotten any sleep last night, worrying the hours away with their newest predicaments. “Mel, please don’t ask me about this. Yes, Max was part of the reason Liz left Roswell. But the rest of the story is long and complicated and it involves secrets that we aren’t allowed to tell.”

His eyes were pleading with her to understand and she wanted to drop the whole thing, but something was driving her forward. “Does part of the story involve shifty looking guys that you might refer to as ‘them’?”

Kyle met her eyes. “Yes. But that’s all I can say.”

“Fair enough.” He wasn’t lying to her and that was all she could ask for. The rest of the answers would come soon enough. Secrets, she had learned, very rarely stayed secrets for long.

posted on 27-Nov-2001 11:53:53 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [email] Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to R for language mostly
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 45

“Okay, so it’s settled then. We’ll leave here the minute finals are done and head out for Colorado.” Kyle could barely contain his excitement. They were finally going to take a trip, see some of the world. Granted, it was only skiing in Colorado for Christmas, but it was a start.

“I’m still not sure we’re going to be able to fit everything into your car.” Liz had thought about the seating arrangements long and hard and she didn’t think it was feasible.

Kyle rolled his eyes. “I told you it would work. But we have to keep to the one suitcase rule.” He saw the look that passed between Mel and Liz and he became even more determined to keep them to that, even if he had to pack their suitcases himself. “Okay, second item on the agenda today…”

“When did we start holding town meetings?” Mel asked. She was sprawled on the couch, amused by the whole experience. She’d seen so many cities in her time, it was hard to remember a time when she was excited about leaving.

“When we discovered that the New Years party of the year was being thrown.” Liz put an exaggerated tone in her voice, lightly mocking Kyle’s excitement when he’d told the girls about it.

“Fine. So, Liz doesn’t want to have any fun. That’s okay with me. But you’ll have to forgive me for dragging you along and forcing you to live your life and go out and meet new people. You can just stay here and die an old maid and we’ll come back someday and visit you and your cats.”

Liz scowled at Kyle, but remained quiet.

“Why do men think that just because women choose not to live a life of frustration with men, that they’re old maids? Did you ever think maybe we would choose to live alone?"

“Okay, so Mel doesn’t have a date yet. We’ll put it on the list of things that have to get done. Oh, I know this guy. He’d probably go out with you, but you’d have to keep your mouth shut or he might ditch you before midnight.”

Liz struggled not to laugh at the sheer outrage on Mel’s face. Kyle had really done it this time.

“Keep my mouth shut? I’ll have you know that I don’t need your charity. I’m more than capable of finding my own date and actually keeping him around.”

Kyle turned to face Mel, a look of pity on his face. “Honey, if you need a date, all you have to do is say so. No one will think any less of you for it. In fact, I’ll tell you what. How about we go together? That way you won’t suffer through the embarrassment of being left alone with all those couple around.”

Mel snorted. “The day the best I can do for a New Years date is you, is the day I kill myself…honey. I can’t imagine being stuck with only you to kiss at midnight.”

“Hey, I’m very kissable. Tell her, Liz.”

“Oh, no. I’m not getting dragged into this mess. You’re on your own.”

“C’mon, I need my honor defended here. Tell her that we had some spectacular kisses when we dated.” He turned pleading eyes on her now.

“When did I miss the story where you two dated?” Mel’s curiosity was piqued.

“Oh, it was a hundred years ago at least,” Liz explained, not understanding why she saw hurt flash across Mel’s features. “But, yes, we did have a few memorable kisses,” she threw in for Kyle’s benefit.

“See, Princess? You could do worse than to have me for a date.”

“Yeah, well, I don’t think zoo creatures count.”

Liz bit her lip, the laughter threatening to bubble to the surface. They were practically nose to nose, glaring at each other. She decided she’d better interrupt before it turned into a death match. “Kyle, I’m sure Mel appreciates your offer, but I’m sure she can find her own date. Plus, if you go with her, you have no absolutely no chance of getting lucky. And didn’t you say that was the whole point of New Years?”

Kyle leaned back and examined Mel. “Hmm, you do have a point there. Sorry, Mel, but I retract my very generous offer.”

“You retract-“ Mel sputtered, unable to form a full sentence. “I’ll have you know that I already have myself a date.”

“Really?” Kyle looked at her skeptically. “Who?”

“Greg Harris.” She smiled smugly at him.

“Greg-You can’t go out with him!”

“And why not? He asked, I accepted. It seems like it’s going to happen.” She examined her fingernails calmly. She couldn’t explain why, but it felt good to have him glaring at her over this.

“Because he’s…Look, he’s only out for one thing.” How could he explain to her what guys wanted when they looked at a girl like Mel? She was drop dead gorgeous, and her smile could be as charming and as beckoning as a Sirens’. She just oozed sexuality and a guy like Greg was only going to expect one thing from her.

“Getting lucky? Yeah, I kind of figured that out all on my own there, Slick.”

“Okay, this is getting ugly. I’m out of here if we’re finished?” Liz rose from the couch, but her roommates seem not to have noticed.

“Well, shouldn’t you break off your date then?”

“What? You think you’re the only one with plans to get lucky on New Years? You’re such a typical male.”

“Typical? There’s nothing typical about me, baby.”

Liz sighed and picked up her camera bag, slipping out of the apartment quietly. Though she could have stomped around naked and they wouldn’t have batted an eye at her. Unless she was mistaken, there were very undeniable feelings in that room and unless they got over their stubborn streak, it could be years before they would ever admit anything. But she would let them figure it out on their own.

She headed down the street towards the park. Maybe she could get a few good pictures for the portfolio she was slowly trying to put together. Catching site of her favorite coffee house, she made a change in plans and skipped across the street. Maybe some caffeine would help inspire her.

She paused outside the door to check on her cash and was surprised to have something crash into her back. She managed to catch her balance, then turned when she heard familiar apologetic mumbles.

“Tag.” She smiled when his eyes widened in recognition.

“Liz. We really should stop meeting like this,” he joked. “So, uh, how are you doing?”

“I’m fine, thanks to you I hear.”

“Hey, all I did was play some pool with a very good partner. How much did you make, by the way?”

“Enough to buy you a cup of coffee. Do you have a few minutes for me to thank you properly?”

“I think I can spare you one or two.” He held the door open for her, then followed her inside to a table. It was late in the morning, so the place was thinner on customers than usual.

A waitress came by to take their order, then sailed off into the kitchen. It made Liz think about the Crashdown and she smiled wistfully.

“Coffee makes you nostalgic too?”

“No. Sorry.” She blushed, returning to face Tag. “I was going to try to figure out a way to get in touch with you. I hear I was a little…tipsy last weekend. And I don’t remember much, but I remember you showing up. So, I’m sure I owe you a thank you for something in there, or at the very least for getting me home in one piece. Which leads me to my next question. I didn’t, uh…”

“Do anything embarrassing? Nothing besides running around naked singing show tunes. Or do you usually do that?”

“Haha.” She returned his smile, surprised at how easy it was to laugh with him. “So, I’ll take that as a no.”

The waitress returned with a plateful of sugary pastries and Liz picked at one. “So, tell me something about yourself. I just realized I don’t know anything about you other than you play football and pool.”

“Well, I graduated from James A. Marsters High School last spring and it was a very lovely ceremony. It rained buckets and the whole thing had to be moved inside the gym. But the reason we hadn’t had it in there to begin with was because it was closed for remodeling. So, here we were, the graduating class and all of our family and friends standing on tarps and in between paint cans and ladders.”

Liz smiled at his memory. “So, you’re going to college this year? Which one?”

“Nope. I’m a certifiable bum this year. I decided to take a year off and see the world.”

“And how have you found it so far?”

“Well, I never actually left as planned. A friend of mine that was supposed to back pack around Europe with me was killed in a car crash a week after graduation.”

Liz didn’t offer him the platitudes she’d grown accustomed to after Alex had died. They didn’t do any good. So, she laid a hand over his. “What was his name?”

“Carl. We hadn’t known each other more than a few years, but he had the same zest for exploring things that I did. We used to bungee jump all the time. We’d planned to take skydiving lessons when we came back from Europe.” He trailed off a minute, but managed to clear the sadness from his eyes. “So, I stayed here. Europe didn’t seem the same without him and it was too late for me to sign up for classes. But I’ll be going in the Spring. What about you? All I know is you like to take pictures and you play a mean game of pool. Oh, and I’m guessing you don’t drink much.”

“You guessed right. A couple of friends convinced me to go. I’m a transplant from Roswell, New Mexico, and so is Kyle, one of my roommates.”

“So, you live with Kyle?” He tried to ask it casually, but there really wasn’t a good way to ask that question.

“Yes,” she grinned at him. “He can be such a mother hen sometimes. He’s my self-declared body guard. Sorry if he gave you a hard time. He’s just a little overprotective.”

“So, you’re not dating him then? Just a friendly, casual question in case he decides to come find me later and hurt me for talking to you.” Could he sound any lamer?

“No, formerly dated, but not in a long time.” She knew he was deciding whether to flirt with her or not and it made her want to giggle. What was wrong with her? She hadn’t acted this way since…well, since Max had come along and swept her off her feet.

Tag took a sip from his mug. “So, you’re from Roswell? I’m sure you’ve been asked a hundred times if you’ve seen any little green aliens running around, so I’m not going to ask.”

“Yeah, you wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve heard the question.” And avoided it. “But you get used to it. So, what are you doing with your time if you’re not going to school and you’re not working?”

“I plan mostly and I write.” He tried to shrug it off as ordinary, though he had a strong streak of pride in what he wrote.

“Really? Anything in particular?” If he had asked her the least likely thing she would have thought he did, it would be writing. He just seemed more of a jock than a writer, but she supposed she was stereotyping with no reason.

“Fantasy mostly, some Scifi. Nothing you’d be interested in, I’m sure.”

“I have a very wide belief system. Try me.”

“Well, if you wanted to, I guess you could read some of my stuff.” Nobody had ever really asked before and it amused him that this girl would be interested. Usually, people thumbed their noses at him when he told them what he wrote.

“So, is your family adjusting well to life in Flat Creek?”

“Actually, my family is still in Roswell. I headed out on my own.” And she’d never missed them more in these last few weeks with Christmas approaching. She knew Kyle had been so insistent on them going out of town because he thought he could distract her from becoming melancholy over her family. And though she appreciated the gesture, she couldn’t imagine a Christmas without them. “Kyle and Mel and I are actually planning a trip out to Colorado for Christmas. We’re trying to get out a little bit too.” She didn’t want to answer the parade of questions that would follow now about her family and why she was here alone.

“Some snow skiing, huh? Ever been before?” He picked up one of the rolls and ate it, forcing himself not to ask any questions. She looked like she would run if he did.

“No, but Kyle has and he promised to show Mel and I the ropes. What about you? Big New Year and Christmas plans?”

“Christmas, no. Just the traditional where my brother and I fight over the television while my mother slaves away cooking a feast. But they’ll be gone for New Years and Seth is planning some big shindig.”

“Wait, Seth? He’s your brother?” Liz smiled. Sometimes the world really could be pretty small. “He invited us to his party. It’s supposed to be pretty big from what I hear.”

“Yeah, last year he narrowly escaped being arrested for the twenty minute firework display he put on. It seems he almost set some guys house on fire. But you guys are coming?” Did he dare to hope he would be able to see her there?

“Definitely. And you’ll be there, right? So, maybe we could meet up and talk.” She was way out of practice with this sort of thing. Was there a subtle way to ask if he already had a date? There was something about him that made her feel normal again.

“Yeah. That would be great. And maybe if you’re not doing anything, you know, before the party with your date, then we could eat something. Together.”

Liz grinned at his discomfort. “Well, since I don’t have a date yet, he shouldn’t mind.”

Tag let out a breath. Why would someone like her not have a date? It was puzzling. She should be beating them off with sticks. “In that case, I feel obligated to take you out for a good meal. And I know this place with a pool table in the back. Maybe we could see how good you are without the liquor. And I could drive you to the party from there?”

“Yeah.” Liz considered it, knowing he was asking her out in a round about way. She had a faint twinge of guilt, Max’s face filling her mind, but she pushed it aside quickly. She and Max were done and there was nothing wrong with her going out on a date. She had left Roswell to start a new life and eventually, that meant jumping back out into the dating pool. “I think I’d like it a lot. But only if we called it an official date.”

Tag let his eyes rest on her. She was peering out at him from behind dark lashes and he couldn’t resist her. Maybe he had finally found someone who would adventure with him. Most girls he knew wouldn’t be able to hold their own against a couple of guys like Eddie and Joe, but she had managed it while completely liquored up and she’d even hustled them for good measure.

“I think I can handle that if you can.” And as she smiled at him, he knew he’d found himself a partner.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 4-Jan-2002 9:53:50 AM ]
posted on 27-Nov-2001 11:54:09 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [email] Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to R for language mostly
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 46

Max fought not to drum his fingers on his desk in boredom. How could any of the people around him stand the quiet? Somewhere in the back of his mind, he knew he should be finishing the final exam laid out before him, but he just couldn’t do it.

The weight of the beeper that hung on his belt was oppressively large. With each passing minute, Ana got sicker. They were simply running out of time. How the hell was he supposed to concentrate on History?

He thought back to the fight his parents had won for him. Electrical devices like beepers and cell phones were prohibited in the school. So, his mother had insisted on informing the principal of the situation. Max could still smile at the memory of his mother going head to head with their surly principal. And in the end, Max had been granted special permission.

It still amazed him to think about how supportive his parents had been. But since Liz had left, they’d tried to be a lot more understanding about things. Michael had figured they remembered those few hours when they hadn’t known if their son had run away.

But whatever the reason, they’d given him free rein as long as he didn’t get into trouble and he kept his grades up. So, he’d fallen back on his old habit of speed reading. Isabel had called it cheating years ago and they’d stopped. Well, mostly they’d stopped.

Max had come to rely on it when he and Liz had been involved in their whirlwind romance. They never had gotten any studying done in those days.

Liz. Just thinking about her brought a smile to his face. As always, he wondered what she was doing. She probably had a whole new life carved out for herself somewhere. He had hurt her so many times, but Liz was a survivor. She would never let him ruin her life. And that had been why she had left. Because he very nearly had.

He closed his eyes, letting her face form in his mind. Her round eyes staring up at him, her hair framing her face, a smile on her lips. She was perfection. Somehow, he’d forgotten that.

Thinking about Liz, he pushed the History exam to the side. There was no use pretending he was going to finish it. He yawned once, his late night at Ana’s bedside catching up with him. He glanced at the clock. Another hour to go. Suddenly feeling incredibly tired, he let his eye lids droop closed again. Ten minutes and he would finish the test. He gave in to the sleep that was hovering on the edge of his sub consciousness.


With a yawn, Max opened his eyes to the sounds of soft music. Why had he been so tired? He couldn’t remember. He looked around at his surroundings and found himself confused. Where the hell was he? It looked as though he were in a lounge of some sort. He found that he was sitting at a table in the corner, hidden in the shadows. A band played quietly near the bar. He glanced around the room, wondering why he was the only person there.

Then he saw her.

A woman in a white dress was sitting at the bar, her back to him. Her dark hair was twisted up into a simple knot on top of her head. And that dress clung to every curve on her body. And his heart leapt in recognition.

He pulled himself out of his chair and made his way across the empty dance floor to her. He hadn’t let himself dream about her in so long, afraid of what seeing her would do to the progress he was trying to make. But here she was, sitting alone, and he was helpless.

Max stopped behind her, knowing she would feel his presence. She turned slowly, her sad eyes meeting his and she smiled.

“I knew you’d come.”

“You were the only one that ever did.” He held out a hand to her. “Dance with me?”

She gave him a full smile and he knew he had to be dreaming. He hadn’t seen that dazzling smile in longer than he could remember. She placed her delicate hand in his and let him lead her across the room to the dance floor. Holding her right hand in his own, he pulled her into the circle of his arms and felt complete for the first time in months. Or was it even longer?

He could feel the loneliness coming off her in waves and it tore at his heart. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” she shook her head. “It’s just hard sometimes to be hopeful. And with the holidays and everything…I miss you,” she confessed softly after a minute.

“I miss you too, Liz.” He couldn’t help the selfish thought that snaked through his brain. If she were in Roswell to hold him just once for real, he might be able to get through another day. He might find the strength to believe that Ana would live a long and healthy life.

She tilted her head and examined him. “You’re so sad. Why?”

“Someone I love is sick.” He twirled her around the dance floor slowly, not wanting this dream to end. It was so real, he wouldn’t have been surprised to snap his fingers and find out it wasn’t a fantasy he had conjured up. She felt so soft, her fragrance still the same. And she wasn’t looking up at him with hatred burning in her eyes the way he feared she would if he ever saw her again.

“You can’t help them?”

“Not this time.” He gave up on the pretense of dancing and caressed her face with his hand. “I wish you were real. I wish I could go back and fix so many things. I’d go back to the day I saved you and I would do it right. I would never give you a single reason to cry, or to worry. And you wouldn’t ever have a reason to leave me. I would do it right, Liz. I’m trying so hard.”

“I know you are. You just got lost along the way. We all did.” Her hand was caressing the back of his neck, tangling in the overgrown hair she found there. “Things happen for a reason, Max. Our meeting wasn’t an accident. It was meant to be. If things hadn’t happened the way they did, we wouldn’t be the same people we are now. And I think I’m learning who I am, away from you and away from Roswell. And one day I’ll come back.”

“I still love you. I love you more than you’ll ever know, Liz. And if I ever see you again, I swear I’ll make it up to you.”

“I still love you too, Max. But I’m afraid. I’ll never belong in your world no matter what I do. But I want to. I want to be able to trust you and love you without hesitation. And I don’t ever see that day coming.”

She was fading and he panicked. “No, Liz, don’t go yet. Stay with me another minute.”

“You’ll be fine, Max. You’re the strong one. And your friend, the sick one? Just be there. If that’s all you can do, it’s enough. You just have to believe it’ll all be okay and it will.”

“Do you still believe, Liz?”

She smiled at him, stepping back from the circle of his arms. “I do now.”


“Max! Max, wake up!”

Max awoke to the sharp pain in his arm, and his sister’s insistent voice. “Ow! Is, knock it off,” he hissed. And then he heard it. The beeper, hooked protectively on his belt was vibrating softly.

With shaking hands, he unclipped it and brought it under the light to read. He turned wide eyes to his sister and found a world of hope on her face.

“They found a heart.”

Isabel grinned broadly at him. “Well, go. What are you waiting for? I’ll call Mom and Dad and everyone else and we’ll meet you at the hospital.”

Max shot out of his chair, only remembering to grab his book bag and incomplete test when Isabel hissed at him again. He laid it on his professor’s desk and mumbled an apology. He didn’t have time to worry about that now. The race against time had begun.

posted on 27-Nov-2001 11:54:30 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [email] Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to R for language mostly
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 47

Kyle sighed, gripping the steering wheel of his mustang while the desert passed them by in a blur. They’d been driving now for a few hours and Liz still had yet to say anything to him. She had been energetic enough when she’d woken up that morning, chattering about how great it was going to be to get away for a week. But after they had finished their exams and had begun packing up his car, she’d been moody and silent.

Mel had fallen asleep soon after they’d climbed in the car. She’d stayed up all night cramming for her finals, declaring it to be the only way she knew how to study. So, Kyle had waited until he was sure she was asleep to broach the subject with Liz. Mel had a history of not being as asleep as he thought she was and he had a feeling Liz’s sudden mood swing had something to do with Roswell.

He turned down the radio that had been blasting since they’d left.

“So, you wanna tell me about it?”

Liz never turned her attention from the passing scenery. “No.” She didn’t even pretend not to know what he was talking about. Kyle always had been too perceptive.

Kyle nodded. “Okay. Have it your way. Let it fester inside and eat up your insides until it becomes a major problem instead of just telling me what it is. Hey, it’s your life.”

Liz closed her eyes and rested her head against the back of the seat. “I just had a dream. That’s all.”

“Oh.” That was it? He’d been worried over nothing? “Well, do you want to tell me about your bad dream?”

“That’s just it, Kyle. It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t bad at all.”

Uh oh. And then he knew exactly what they were talking about. Only one person brought that note of wistfulness to her voice. “Max.”

“Yeah. I guess I was sleepier than I thought after helping Mel last night. I went to the library to finish studying this morning and I fell asleep. In my dream, we were in this bar or lounge or something. And I was all alone and then he was just there. And we danced and we talked and it was the most amazing thing. It felt so real. I didn’t want to wake up.”

Kyle chose his words carefully. This was the first time Liz had openly talked to him about Max, and he didn’t want to screw it up right off the bat. “So, all you were doing was dancing?”

“Somehow, we stopped dancing and we were just holding each other. I’d forgotten what it felt like to have him look at me, to hold me in his arms like he was afraid to let me go.”

“But, it was only a dream, Liz.” Something in her tone was worrying him. “Right?”

“I don’t know. I mean, are you asking if he was dreamwalking me? I don’t think that’s even possible, is it? That was Isabel’s area, and I wouldn’t have put it past Tess, but Max? I don’t know.” She frowned in thought. She’d spent all morning trying to figure out that exact thing.

“Well, did he say anything that we could trace? Like so and so did this, or wore this, or something like that?”

“He did say a friend was sick. He was so sad, Kyle. It was crushing. I’d hate to think he was real and he was feeling those things.”

“Well, that’s easy enough to solve. We’ll just call Dad when we get into town and ask him if he knows if anyone’s sick. If it is alien related, then the parents wouldn’t necessarily know, but Dad should.”

Liz nodded. “I guess you’re right.” She laughed, shaking her head. “I’m probably just being silly. It was just a dream. I was thinking about Max, wondering where he was and how he was doing at Christmas time. That’s all.”

“Right.” But Kyle made a mental note to have his father check around for them at home.

“Speaking of your dad, are you sure you don’t want to invite him to come up? There’s still time.”

“No. I can’t have him running to come see me every holiday. It’s not fair. I promised myself I wouldn’t do it, no matter what.”

Liz noticed how rigid his arms had become, his knuckles white from his tight grip on the steering wheel. Why couldn’t he just admit how much he missed his father? Men could be so stubborn. “If you change your mind…”

“I won’t, but thanks.” Kyle forced himself to calm down. Seeing this might be his only time to ask, and knowing Mel was fast asleep in the back seat, he took a chance. “Liz? Do you ever think about Tess and what she did?”

The half smile fell from Liz’s face. “All the time.”

“Yeah. You know, when I left Roswell, there were so many things to sort out in my head. Alex’s death and the role I played in it, the things I thought I was feeling for Tess. But I still don’t know if any of it was real. She screwed with us so many times, I can’t rely on my own memory.”

“She did whatever she had to do to get Max and to have a child with him. We were just in the way.” She’d had plenty of time to think back on every word Tess had uttered since she had mysteriously arrived in town. Liz had known from the start that there was something off with her, but it had been passed off as jealousy. At least now she knew to trust her instincts.

“I’m sorry, Liz. I shouldn’t have brought it up. But we never talk about it, what she did.”

“It’s okay, Kyle. You don’t have to be the upbeat guy all the time. You loved her, maybe not in a relationshippy way, but you and your dad loved her like a part of your family. And she betrayed you worst of all.”

“I just wish I could forget, just move on and not still feel like I could have done something to save Alex. Maybe if I’d been a little quicker or stronger, I could have fought her.”

“What?” Liz turned to face Kyle. “Is that what you think? Kyle, no. None of that was your fault. You just walked in at the wrong moment, and she took advantage of you. She used her powers on you. How were you supposed to defend yourself against that? None of us could. Max and Michael and Isabel couldn’t even protect themselves.” She laid a hand on Kyle’s leg. “It’s not your fault.”

“It’s not yours either, you know.”

Liz closed her eyes again. “That’s different.”

“Right, because you had some secret way of stopping Tess and her evil mind controlling powers?” He loved Liz, but she could be one of the most frustrating people he knew sometimes.

“Alex was my best friend. She mindwarped him for months and I never noticed a thing was wrong with him.”

“He was out of town the whole time deciphering those damn destiny books. How were you supposed to know?”

“I just should have.” She should have known. That thought had plagued her for months after his death. It had spurred her on when everyone had been ready to label Alex another suicidal teenager. But she knew Alex, and he loved life.

“Alex wouldn’t want you to blame yourself.” Kyle let the silence hang in the air. They would both have to get over these feelings of guilt if they ever wanted to move on from the whole mess Tess had created.

“Alex isn’t here,” she whispered. She could feel the tears welling up in her eyes and she tried to force them back.

Kyle turned his head cautiously, hoping he hadn’t driven her to tears like he was afraid he had. With a muttered swear, he pulled Liz tight against his side. She buried her head in his shoulder and he let her cry.

“I’m sorry, Liz. I didn’t mean to upset you. Let it all out. I won’t tell anyone you’re not Brave Liz all the time.” He pulled her closer, gently patting her back as her tears fell. He didn’t remember ever seeing Liz cry, and he had a feeling this had been welling up for a long time. “It’ll all be okay, I promise.” Kyle glanced in his rear view mirror at Mel’s sleeping form. At least they could be thankful that they hadn’t woken Mel. Otherwise, there would be a lot of explaining to do.

posted on 27-Nov-2001 11:54:46 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [email] Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to R for language mostly
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 48

Max paced the waiting room floor nervously. What was taking them so long? After his frantic rush from the school, he’d called Colleen and told her the amazing news. She had insisted on getting Ana ready and meeting Max at the hospital. When they’d finally arrived, the nurses had taken her to prep for surgery. But they had promised Max he would be able to see her before she went in.

Colleen appeared at his elbow, two coffees in her hands. “Here.” She seemed to be in the state of shock he was in, and they didn’t bother with words.

“Thanks.” Max took the drink, though he knew it wouldn’t do anything more than warm his hands. How could people just sit here and wait like this? Just sit and wait to see if their loved ones would live or die?

“They’re good doctors. She’ll be just fine.” Colleen continued to stand. There would be time for sitting and waiting after Ana had gone into surgery. Now, she felt better standing.

Max nodded, wishing with all his heart he could believe it. But the truth was, he had a long history of losing people. And he had lost his blind faith so long ago that good would win out in the end.

“Max! Oh, honey. There you are. We’ve been looking all over for you.”

Max looked up when he heard his mother’s voice. She was rushing down the corridor towards him and he only wanted to be held in his mother’s arms for a minute.

Diane let her son pull her into a hug and cling to her and she felt a twinge of sadness that she couldn’t do anything to take away her baby’s pain.

“Where’s Ana? Is she in surgery yet?” She didn’t have to question how Max had become as involved as he was so quickly. Her son always did have a soft heart, a bit too soft sometimes.

“They’re still admitting her. The heart is being flown in from Albuquerque.”

“Is there time for that?”

For the first time, Max saw Maria, Michael and Isabel standing behind his parents.

“They wouldn’t have told us if there wasn’t time.” Max loosened his grip on his mother, fully appreciating her and everything she’d done for him for the first time. How had she gone through countless years of worrying about him and Isabel?

Maria stepped forward to pull Max into a hug. “We came as soon as Isabel told us. Have you seen her yet?”

“No, they’re supposed to come get me.”

Even as Max was speaking, the doors opened and Ana’s doctor approached them. Max rushed over eagerly.

“Can I see her?”

He nodded hesitantly. “Yes, but only for a minute. We just received a call. Her heart’s just arrived at the airport. So, we have to get her into surgery.”

Max nodded quickly, not wanting to waste more time talking. “Anything you say.”

“Follow me then.”

With a backward glance at his family and friends, Max followed the doctor through the double doors. He allowed the nurses to dress him in a sterile gown, all the while watching Ana’s still form on the hospital gurney behind the pane of glass that separated them.

Nervous now, Max opened the last door and stepped into Ana’s room. She was lying in the middle of the room, a dozen machines monitoring her different systems. An IV had already been attached to her arm and he felt the ridiculous urge to rip it out and grab her and run. Didn’t they know what the success rate for heart transplants were? Even if the surgery went off without a hitch, she would still have to take immunosuppressants for the rest of her life so her immune system didn’t reject the heart. And that was assuming her body didn’t reject it in the first few days. The whole thing was so dangerous and uncertain, he didn’t want to put her through it. But the logical side of him knew it had to be done. This surgery would either give her a chance to live, or it would kill her.

“Ana? Are you awake?”

“Max?” She asked groggily.

“Yeah, sweetie. It’s me.”

“Colleen said the doctors are gonna give me a new heart.” She yawned, but opened her eyes.

Max saw a world of trust in those half open eyes and his heart clenched. “That’s right. Remember what we talked about? The nurses are going to give you something to make you sleepy and when you wake up, you’ll be in a room with some other kids your age.”

“Will you and Colleen be there?”

“Wild monkeys couldn’t keep us away.”

She smiled weakly. “Sara too?”

Max thought of Sara, who was back at the house watching the other kids. She’d called him already to make sure he was okay and to give him a quick pep talk. “I know she’ll be here too.”

“I’m scared,” she confessed, her voice so low Max could barely believe she’d spoken.

Moving to her bedside, he was careful to side step the machines and cords that she was hooked up to. “You don’t have to be. The doctors and nurses know what they’re doing and this is going to make you feel so much better. Just think, you’ll be able to go out and do things.”

“Like go to the zoo?”

Max smiled. “Yeah, like go to the zoo. How about I take you there? Just you and me? And we can watch the monkeys all day and have cotton candy.”

“Can Michael come too? He makes silly monkey noises.”

“Of course Michael can come too.”

“Max?” She fought another minute to keep her eyes open, struggling to focus on Max. “I love you.”

Max closed his eyes, letting her words wash over him. He felt as though a tidal wave of emotion were going to burst through, but he held it back. Now wasn’t the time. He could break down later, but now he would be strong. “I love you too, Ana.”

“Max? It’s time.”

Max turned to face Ana’s doctor and he nodded slowly. The nurses had entered the room and one of them moved to adjust Ana’s IV. He shifted out of their way and watched as the little girls’ eyes closed firmly and he knew the drugs had taken effect.

There was a flurry of activity around him and he knew he should move, get out of the way, but he was rooted to the floor. He didn’t want to take his eyes off her, knowing it could be the last time he saw her alive. He wanted to kick the fatalist in him, force himself to be optimistic, but it was the hardest thing he'd ever had to do.

They wheeled Ana past him and his feet moved of their own accord, following after them. A part of his brain recognized that they had returned to the hallway where he’d been waiting for so very long. But still his feet kept moving. A hand on his arm stopped him and he turned to look into Maria’s tearful face.

“You have to let them take her, Max.”

Numb with worry, Max let Maria guide him to a nearby chair. He could feel her arms around his shoulders as she rocked him, whispering words of hope in his ear. Max closed his eyes and let her words sink in. He just had to hold on to that feeling. What had Dream Liz said to him in that dream he’d had earlier that day?

Just be there. If that’s all you can do, it’s enough. You just have to believe it’ll all be okay and it will.

Max held fast to the words, letting them roll around in his head. He just had to believe and it would be okay. He knew it. And as the walls he’d built for himself over the years began crumbling down anew, he trusted in Liz’s words. Even if she was only a dream, he believed in her. And if she could believe, then so could he.

posted on 27-Nov-2001 11:55:03 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [email] Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to R for language mostly
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 49

“Okay, my happy little driving buddies! Everybody out of the car and let the fun begin.”

Liz and Mel eyed Kyle as they slowly moved out of the car. The car trip had been one of the longest ever and Kyle’s sudden cheerfulness was beginning to grate on Liz’s nerves.

“How long until we have to get back in that car again?”

“Five days,” Mel replied, pulling her bag out of the car with her. The trip hadn’t been that bad. Who knew Kyle was a closet Sinatra fan? They’d had a sing along that had lasted through half the state. And she knew they’d driven Liz half-crazy, but it was her own fault if she was going to be moody to begin with. Mel was determined to enjoy her vacation.

“So, we check in, then what do you say we do a bit of exploring?” Kyle clapped his hands together and eyed the two girls hopefully.

“Sounds like a plan. Liz?”

“Yeah, sure.”

Mel locked eyes with Kyle over Liz’s head. Kyle merely shrugged and Mel pursed her lips together in thought.

“Kyle, why don’t you go check us in and Liz and I will get the bags ready?”

“Okay, I’ll be back in a second.”

Mel waited until Kyle loped off before she rounded the car to Kyle’s trunk. Liz moved to help her, but her friend’s mind just wasn’t in the task. “Okay, you want to talk about it or what?”

“I’m fine, Mel. Just a little Christmas blues.”

“Uh huh. Well, I’m convinced. Look, Parker. This is supposed to be fun. Do you remember that? You were the one that was the most excited of all about this trip. So, now we’re here. Let’s make with the happiness.”

Liz watched Mel standing beside Kyle’s car, hands perched on her hips while she glared at her. Maybe she was right. It was silly to mope around when there was no reason to. “Okay. I’ll cheer up. I promise. Now, let’s empty the trunk before Kyle sees those bags we slipped in there when he wasn’t looking.”

“There’s my girl. So, what do you say we check into this skiing thing?”

Liz tugged on a bag, trying to free it from the overly packed trunk. “Explain to me again why we’re not just getting Kyle to show us the ropes? He used to go skiing with his father all the time. I hear he’s pretty good.”

“Well, that’s exactly why he can’t show us anything. Do you want him lording it over us that he is the expert? No, I didn’t think so. Trust me on this one. We’re better off letting the real pros teach us.” Mel took the bag Liz handed her and began a pile at her feet.

“Look, I’m not out to lure some unsuspecting ski instructor into a snowy romance. So, if that’s your game, count me out.”

Mel made a face at her. “Like that was my plan. Although it wouldn’t hurt if the instructors were easy on the eyes, my goal is to be able to ski better than Kyle before this trip is over.”

Liz rolled her eyes at the pair of them. Would they ever stop competing and just learn to co-exist? “Okay, but I’m warning you, my goal is to be able to walk to the car when it’s time to go. I’m not following you to the Big Slope of Death just so you can prove to Kyle that you’re not a wimp.”

“You’re such a girl,” Mel leaned back against the car, examining her nails casually.

“Hey! I resent that. I mean, okay, I am a girl, but…oh, never mind. Just help me out here with your big, strong non-girly muscles, huh?”

“Okay! We’re all checked in and with only one small goof up. Isn’t that great news? How are we coming out here?”

“What goof up?” Liz straightened from the trunk and the two girls eyed Kyle.

“Well, it seems they had some overbooking issues and they…well, they seem to only have one room for us. But on the plus side, it does have a roomy king size bed.” Kyle smiled at them encouragingly.

“You’re kidding! I thought we booked these rooms weeks ago. You did book them, didn’t you?”

Kyle took a step back from Mel’s threatening posture and held his hands up in defense. “Of course I booked them. Look, there’s some sort of convention or something in town. And all the rooms are booked. We can try another resort if you want, but they’ll probably all be booked up too.”

Liz sighed, weighing the options. Well, she already lived with them. How bad could sharing a bed be? “No, we’ll just stay here and make the best of it. Besides, this place is supposed to be a four star resort. I’m not leaving to stay at some place we’ve never heard of.”

Mel nodded reluctantly. “I still think this mess is your fault, but I don’t know how to prove it. Yet.”

Kyle eyed the growing bag of luggage on the sidewalk. “Hey, where did those bags come from? I didn’t pack them in the trunk.”


Liz shifted patiently from one foot to the other, her gaze resting on the snowy scene outside of her window. She’d never seen so much snow before, and waiting inside was killing her.

“Kyle! What’s taking so long?” She yelled at the bathroom door.

“And he says it takes me a long time to get ready,” Mel muttered, filing her already non existant fingernails from her seat on the bed.

“Just trying to look my best!” Kyle answered as cheerfully as he could muster. For the last ten minutes, he’d very secretly and very quietly been having a panic attack in their shared bathroom. This was it. The next hour would either make or break his friendship with Liz.

When he had checked them in, the woman behind the desk had informed him that Nancy and Jeff Parker had already arrived and had left him a note asking him to invite Liz and Mel to dinner. Unfortunately, he had yet to tell Liz about any of it. So, he’d been trying to rehearse different ways of breaking it to her in the mirror.

“Hey, Liz. I hope you didn’t mean it when you said you didn’t want to see your family for Christmas, cause they’re downstairs.” No, that wouldn’t work. Maybe if he threw in a compliment first?

“Hey, Liz, you look great in that dress. Say, remember your parents?”

He dropped his head in his hands and wracked his brain for another way. There had to be a better way. Or maybe he should grow up and quit acting like a spaz and just tell her. Squaring his shoulders, he braced himself for the inevitable confrontation with Liz. He pulled open the door and immediately launched into his speech.

“Liz, first of all, you look beautiful tonight. Second-“ Kyle stopped, glancing around the room and finding only an amused Mel staring at him. “Where’s Liz?”

“Save your best line, Tiger. She’s not here.”

“What do you mean she’s not here?” Panic clawed at his stomach.

Mel shrugged. “She said she was tired of waiting for your sorry ass to primp.” She looked up from her nails to see that he wasn’t buying it. “Actually, she muttered something under her breath, but I know what she meant. And then she took off.”

“And you didn’t stop her?” Kyle began pacing the room. She could be anywhere by now, and this resort was huge.

“Apparently, I didn’t get the memo about Liz needing a babysitter. What’s your deal, Slick?” Didn’t he ever get tired of constantly keeping Liz in his sight?

“The deal is, her parents are downstairs and she doesn’t know I invited them.” Kyle stopped pacing long enough to stare out the window.

“Oh my god, are you screwed.”

“Thanks, Mel,” he drawled sarcastically. But she was right.

“No, really. What happened to ‘I’ll break it to her in the car’?”

“I got distracted.” Mel was glaring at him with an all knowing smirk and he threw up his hands in defeat. “Okay, so I chickened out. Besides, you didn’t think it was a bit odd when she didn’t bring it up?”

“I thought she was brooding or something. Hell, I don’t know.”

“I have to go find her.” He started for the door, only to be pulled back by Mel.

“Ah, no, you can’t do that.”

Kyle shook his head in confusion. “What are you doing? Let go of my arm!”

“Um, why don’t you just stay up here with me and we can play a nice, friendly game of blackjack.”

“Mel-“ he warned.

“Gin Rummy, then?” She suggested hopefully.

“I don’t have time for this.” He tried to shake her off, but the girl was strong as an ox.

“Okay, Strip Poker, and that’s my final offer.” She dug her heels into the carpet when he tried to drag her across the room with him.

“As appealing as that offer is, why don’t you just tell me why you won’t let go of my arm.”

“Okay, fine.” She released her death grip on his arm. “It’s just that, um, well, your dad is downstairs too.”

“What? What are you talking about?”

“Your dad, I sort of invited him.” He was looking at her like she’d grown a third head. It really had seemed like a good idea at the time and Jim had been thrilled at the idea, especially when she’d told him about the Parkers.

“You did what? When were you planning on telling me this?”

“Would you believe in the car?” She grinned, amused by his stance. “Hey, I was busy with the sleeping. Besides, you and Liz were talking the whole way.”

Kyle froze. “What do you know about that? You were sleeping.”

“It was kind of hard with all the blabbing, but I made due. Why? Did I miss all the good stuff? Lighten up, Tiger. Your secrets are safe.”

Kyle continued to watch her a minute longer. She’d been asleep, hadn’t she? And if she had heard anything from the conversation he’d had with Liz, she’d have brought it up by now. Wouldn’t she? So, why did his gut tell him he didn’t have the whole truth from Mel?

Why was he looking at her like he was trying to get inside her brain and pick it apart? It made her more than a bit jumpy. “Look, I thought I was doing a good thing. Either Liz is going to have her family and leave us alone together, or she’s never going to talk to you again. Either way, I’m stuck with you twenty four hours a day for the next five days and a girl could use some personal time. It was purely selfish, really.”

Kyle eased off his defensive stance. Maybe she had been asleep after all. And she had invited his father, so he wouldn’t be alone at Christmas when Liz had her family around her. She might be tough on the outside, but she was all kittens and cotton candy inside. And he knew if he ever said so, she’d kick his ass around the block.

His dad was here, in Colorado for the holidays. A slow smile spread across his face and his heart felt a bit lighter than it had. She had known what it meant to him. How she could know him so well after he’d sworn not to let anyone else in? He’d thought only Liz knew him that well. But somehow, she’d gotten under his skin and he liked to think he’d done the same with her.

“Well, I guess I can’t really be angry.”

Mel let out a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding. At the time it had seemed like a good idea, but just this moment, she hadn’t been so sure. “Good.”

“Because I invited your father too.”


Kyle grinned at her, swinging an arm around her shoulder. “I was going to tell you in the car if you can believe it.”


Liz wandered idly around the resort, peeking her head in whatever doors were open. This place was amazingly large. She’d glanced through the pamphlets Kyle had picked up on the place and she remembered it boasted a few hundred rooms and even hosted a skiing competition each year. Liz found herself thanking her lucky stars that it wasn’t this week. She could just see Mel and Kyle competing on the slopes. It didn’t matter that Mel had never skied a day in her life before. If Kyle did it, she would strive to do it better. And the idea of spending Christmas in the hospital wasn’t appealing.

She climbed down the large, curving staircase, trailing her hand along the slick, oak railing. She had been trying to pinpoint what the exact cause of her moodiness was. And it didn’t take a rocket scientist to know she was homesick. She missed the brightly lit Crashdown. She missed the argument between Michael and Maria when Michael claimed it festive to hang ornaments from the spaceship in front of the building.

She missed Maria, her laugh and her eternal optimism. She still missed Max, but ever since that dream, she’d been trying to put him out of her mind. She’d decided to take Kyle’s advice and call his father, just to see if everyone was okay. And that would settle whether or not it had simply been a dream, or if it had been something more.

And then there were her parents. She knew how selfish it was of her not to talk to them. That’s why she had been building up her courage over the last few days. She’d decided to call them, at least let them know she was okay, and hear their voices again. Wasn’t Christmas about family anyway? If she couldn’t go back to Roswell yet to see them, the least she could do was call. And she would. There wouldn’t be any chickening out this time. She wouldn’t just pick up the phone and hold it in her hand until it started beeping at her. She would punch in the numbers and when they answered, she would…

She had no idea what she would do.

Liz shook her head, trying to clear the melancholy from her brain. This had to stop. She had left town, and this is what came from it. She would just continue moving forward and call her parents and it would be enough.

She paused at the bottom of the stairs, deciding where to go next. Maybe a cup of hot chocolate would do just the trick. She’d bundled up in her new winter gear they’d gone shopping for, but it was just ridiculously cold here. She wrapped her arms around herself and stepped into the restaurant. They seemed to be gearing up for the dinner crowd, because she couldn’t find anyone to help her.

Not in any rush, she wandered her way to the bar. A tall man in his late twenties smiled at her. “What can I get you?”

“Hot chocolate?”

“Now that I can help you with.” He moved to prepare her mug and Liz seated herself on the barstool. The people she’d seen so far were so different. She guessed growing up in a small town had spoiled her. She’d basically known everyone around her and now she was in an environment where everyone was a stranger. It was a different feeling, but she wasn’t sure if it was better. There was just something about small towns that made her feel more welcome.

“Here you go, darlin’.” The bartender handed Liz her drink. She reached into her pocket to pull out money, but he stopped her. “Sorry, but this one’s already paid for.” He gestured towards a table behind her and when she turned, a grin formed on her face.

She hopped off the barstool and moved to sit with Jim Valenti. “Hey, what are you doing here?”

“You don’t believe in coincidences?” He saw the look of disbelief on her face. “Not anymore, huh? Mel invited me. She thought it would be nice to spend Christmas with Kyle. She said something about him being pigheaded and irritating.”

Liz grinned back at him. “That’s our Mel, soft spoken and afraid to voice her opinion.”

“I like her,” he confessed, taking a sip of his own drink. “So, how could I refuse an offer like that? And with your parents and all…”

Liz’s smile faltered. “What about my parents?”

“Well, they got in safely, didn’t they? Mel told me all about it.”

“Wait, I’m confused. Where are my parents?”

“Well, they’re actually right behind you.”

Liz turned in her chair, sure Jim was mistaken. Her parents were in Roswell, not Colorado. But the world seemed to slow down as her eyes locked with those of her parents. They were frozen in the doorway of the restaurant, and she figured they had seen her first. Slowly, she rose from her chair, half-afraid if she moved too quickly, they would vanish.

She kept moving until she was only a few feet from them. Her mother seemed to be clinging to her father and she wasn’t sure why. Unless…were they worried that she would run from them?

“Liz?” Nancy whispered.

Liz wasn’t sure what her mother was asking and it didn’t matter anyway. With a small sob, she launched herself into the waiting arms of her parents. Arms immediately moved to pull her closer and together, they clung tightly. With her mother’s whispered words of love in her ear and her father’s soothing hand on her back, Liz felt some of the holes in her heart fill. And suddenly, the holidays seemed so much brighter.

posted on 30-Nov-2001 8:09:09 PM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [email] Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to R for language mostly
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 50

Max had never known what it was like to literally count every second of every minute that passed by. But he was learning. He’d been waiting four hours so far for word on Ana’s surgery. Fourteen thousand, four hundred seconds had ticked by on the clock across from him. And he’d watched every one of them go by. Still nothing.

Since they’d wheeled Ana into surgery, things had quieted down. Colleen and his parents had talked for a bit, hushed words from the hallway and he’d heard his name more than once. Isabel had taken to playing den mother, making sure everyone had coffee and checking for updates on Ana. She’d also dreamwalked Ana and had quietly assured Max that she was dreaming happily. Maria had consoled Max for a while until he’d told her he was fine. He knew she hadn’t believe him, but she’d given him the space he wanted and she had taken to watching him from her resting place on Michael’s chest. Michael had been blissfully quiet and he realized that he took Michael’s quiet support for granted sometimes.

And as Max had watched those seconds tick by, he’d tried to think about anything besides the little girl down the hall. He’d gone through a lifetime of songs, had recited almost entire Shakespearean plays in his head. He’d even tried to count the number of bumps on the wall around the clock.

And when none of that had even worked a bit, he’d thought of Liz.

In his mind, he’d recounted every moment they’d spent together from the beginning, the good times and the bad. He’d once cursed his ability to remember such specific detail, but that had been after he’d found Liz and Kyle in bed together. He’d moped for days, doing nothing but remembering the softness of her skin and the way her eyes would light up when she saw him. At that time, he had hated his memory, sure it had been playing tricks on him. How could Liz have gone from looking at him like he was the world to sleeping with Kyle? It hadn’t made sense. But he had believed it anyway. And his whole world had crumbled because he hadn’t listened to his heart.

Now, he thought back to that horrible year that had followed that night. He’d pushed Liz away, treating her more horribly than he’d ever thought himself capable of. But he still hadn’t been able to cut her out of his life completely. Maybe he had been masochistic back then. Or maybe his heart still believed somewhere deep down that it had all been a lie. But he had asked her time and again, and every time she had told him yes, she had slept with Kyle.

He knew it still wasn’t any reason for the way he treated her, but he could see it now, with clarity that came from being so far removed from those horrible days. He’d walked around like the living dead, a ragged hole in his chest that only grew when he saw her. In those days, the world had seemed against him, but Tess had been there. But now he could see that it was calculated, planned carefully to have worked out that way.

Max forced his thought away from Tess. Her name alone had the power to make him feel physically sick. And he still had a hard time believing he had ever touched her. But he knew he had. Despite all the confusion surrounding Tess and what she had done to their memories, he knew he had slept with her. And it would be the biggest mistake he would ever make in his life. If he could be certain of anything, it was that. And he knew that it had been calculated on Tess’s part to lie to him about having a son in order to take him home, into the waiting trap of Khivar’s. And he had fallen for it. It had only taken him months of questioning every word that Tess had spoken to put all the pieces into place. Plus, there had been the visions he’d received when he’d touched the Granolith.

Weary, he scrubbed his hands over his face. When had he started thinking about Tess again? He must be more tired than he thought. Filled with the sudden urge to get up and move, Max rose suddenly, catching the attention of everyone in the waiting room.

“I’m going for a walk,” he explained.

Maria nodded at him, wanting to offer to come with him, but she knew she would only be hovering. “You won’t go far?”

“Just down the hall.” Why would he go anywhere where that door wasn’t visible? Soon, the doctor would be walking back through those double doors and he had been keeping half on eye on them.

He started down the hall, not wanting to meet the concerned eyes of his family. He knew they were expecting him to break down if the doctor came back with bad news. And he could hardly blame them. He had been a basket case for longer than he could pinpoint. But he just needed to get away for now.

Not having anywhere to go, he wandered to the water fountain, taking a long sip. Around him, doctors and nurses hurried by to tend to unseen emergencies and he felt a sort of longing to be one of them. He knew it was ridiculous, but the white halls didn’t bother him as much as he thought they would. Maybe one day…

“Max! Has there been any word yet?” Sara came rushing down the hall, her eyes filled with concern.

“No. We’re still waiting. Everyone’s over there if you want to wait with them.”

She eyed him carefully. “How are you?”

He laughed, not meaning for the bitterness to come out. “I’m just fine.”

Sara laid a hand on his arm. “She’s a fighter. She’s lived this long, hasn’t she?”

Max met her eyes, and nodded, Liz’s words echoing in his head. He just had to believe. “Yeah, she has.”

Satisfied, and more than a little confused as to the reason behind his sudden change in attitude, she nodded. The last time she had seen Max, he had been moody and depressed. Now, she almost thought she saw hope in his eyes. It was unexpected, but nice.

Before Max could say anything, he caught movement from the wide double doors and he immediately turned his attention to Ana’s doctor. He moved quickly across the slick floors.

“Mr. Evans?” When they had admitted Ana Cole earlier that afternoon, he’d been assured that Max Evans would be the one to received most of the updates.

“How is she?” Max barely registered that the others had formed a small circle around them.

“The transplant was a success.” He watched as the group let out sighs of relief. “She’s not out of the woods yet,” he warned. “Her body could still reject the heart, but we’ll just have to wait and see.” He offered them a smile. “But everything looks good so far.”

“Can I see her?” Max couldn’t help the joy that was bubbling in his heart. Ana was going to be okay. She had survived the surgery.

“Only one of you and only for a minute. She’s in ICU now. We’ll keep her there for a day or two until we know better if there were any complications.”

Colleen placed a hand on Max’s shoulder. “Go see her.”

“Are you sure? Maybe she’d rather see you.”

“I’m sure, Max. Give her our love.”

Max nodded before pulling Colleen into a hug. She smiled back with the same energy he had. “Go.”

Following the doctor, Max allowed himself to be suited up again to see Ana.

“I’ll give you two a minute alone.” The doctor excused himself and then Max was alone, pulling back the curtain that kept Ana semi-private. She was lying on the gurney still, tubes and wires attached from almost every patch of skin he saw. He could make out the gauze bandages underneath her hospital gown and it reminded him of how much she’d been through.

With a quick glance behind him to make sure they did indeed have privacy, Max approached Ana slowly. She was still out from the drugs and he decided it was probably easier on her that way. Carefully, he picked up a thin hospital blanket from the foot of her bed and laid it gently on her chest. Silver handprints wouldn’t do in the ICU. He laid his hand atop the blanket and focused on forming a connection with the small girl.

Within seconds, he could feel her life pulsing around him and he went about tracing the blood flow to her heart. He examined the doctor’s work, giving the blood vessels a small nudge to help them begin attaching to her new heart. When he was satisfied that there wasn’t any further damage or anything else he could do that wouldn’t arise suspicion, he pulled back.

“Max?” Ana sleepily called out.

“Hey, honey. How do you feel?” Max leaned in closer to make out her words.

“Funny. I’m really tired.” She didn’t even have the strength to open her eyes.

“Well, you should sleep then. We’re all going to be outside when you get up. So, you just rest, okay?”

“Kay,” she whispered, already sleeping again.

Max knew he should move from the bed, but he found it difficult. He moved the blanket back to it’s original place and ran a hand down her sleeping face. Ana would be okay now. He was sure of it, not only because of his healing powers, but because he could place faith in others to do what he couldn’t. Once again, Liz had been right. And the knowledge of it made him smile like he hadn’t ever known possible.

posted on 30-Nov-2001 8:09:21 PM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [email] Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to R for language mostly
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 51

Kyle dragged himself down the plush carpet hallway, his father and Mel in tow. Together, they’d had a very lovely dinner and had laughed long into the night. His father had called them from downstairs and had been more than a bit upset at having been the one to tell Liz about her parents. He’d apologized to Kyle and explained how he’d thought she’d already known her parents were in town before he let out the news. He’d recounted their reunion and then they had left together at Jim’s insistence.

And all night long, Kyle hadn’t known what to make of it. Had she been so upset with him for inviting her parents that she didn’t want to speak to him? Or had she been so thrilled about seeing her parents, she’d forgotten how exactly they’d gotten there? It wasn’t likely, but it was still a possiblity.

Who was he kidding? She was going to kill him. He’d violated the only rule she had laid down. No contact with Roswell.

Now, he was walking back to their room as though it were death row.

“So, how did you guys manage to afford this place?” Jim asked Mel, who was walking companionably beside him. She really was an amazing woman and he enjoyed her company immensely. He was proud that his son and Liz had found such a good friend.

“One of my father’s friends. He did a photo shoot for this place years ago and sort of it on the map. So, he told us if we ever wanted to come stay, we can have the place.”

“And you only have one room?” Jim hated it when the father in him came out. Sure, he trusted all three of them, but he was still a father of a teenage son.

“Well, we had two rooms.” She eyed Kyle distastefully. “But we’re sharing due to some overbooking.”

“And you’ll all be sleeping in one bed together?”

“Dad, what are you getting at?” Kyle stopped envisioning his own death long enough to rejoin the conversation.

“Nothing. Nothing, really. I’m sure you guys will be fine. Just ignore the old man.”

Kyle relented and pulled his father into a one armed hug. “You’re not so old.”

“And you’re probably healthier than all of us.” Mel agreed. Jim Valenti had grown on her much the way his son had. And it amazed her. She’d always considered herself a loner, never getting close to anyone for any reason. But now she had strong friends, ones she could almost hesitantly call best friends, and an extended family. What was happening to her?

The trio reached the door and Kyle hesitated, key in hand. Mel sighed, snatching the key card from his hand. She swung the door open once she had unlocked it.

“Liz? Are you here?” She turned back to Kyle after a second of silence. “She’s not in yet, Darlin’. You’ve been granted a temporary reprieve.” She tossed a grin at Kyle. He’d worked himself up into a fit of worry all night. He’d only half-heartedly joined in their conversation and she’d known he was worried about how Liz was going to react to his involvement. And she couldn’t for the life of her figure out why he was so worried. Okay, he should have told her before she found them on her own, but they’d had a happy reunion. Why would he think she would be mad at him? They were as close as two people could be and if Liz threw that away because of something that helped her in the long run, then she just didn’t know her friend very well at all.

Kyle let out a shaky breath. So he had another hour or so before he had to pay the piper.

“I really am sorry about telling her the way I did, son. If I’d known, I would have been a bit more tactful about it.”

“It’s not your fault, Dad. I should have told her. At least she had a few seconds of warning before she saw them. But you said they looked happy?” He was holding on to that one piece of information, sorry he hadn’t been there to see it.

Jim grinned at the memory. The three of them had clung together a minute, holding tight. And he knew he’d seen more than a few tears shed. “Yeah, they looked good together.”

“Then whatever else happens is okay. It was all worth that moment for her.”

Jim could only marvel at how much his son had grown in the past few months. It made him ache, but it also made him proud. He turned to Mel, placing a kiss on her hand. “It was lovely to see you again, Mel. I’m sorry your father had to postpone his vacation. But I’m sure he’ll be here for Christmas.”

“Yeah, I’m sure you’re right.” Mel plastered a smile on her face for Jim’s benefit. She could at least fool the father, if not the son. And for that reason alone, she avoided Kyle’s gaze.

“Well, I’ll see you two in the morning for breakfast. And I trust you,” he added more for his benefit than theirs.

“Good night, Dad.” Kyle moved for Mel to enter the room and waited until his father turned down the hall before he closed the door. His father’s worried face amused him. Kyle knew he wasn’t worried about him and Liz. His father knew them well enough to know that Max still had complete control of Liz’s heart. So he was actually worried about something happening between him and Mel? The whole idea was laughable. It had taken him months just to work himself up to a quasi-friendship status with her. And if there was one thing he knew about Mel Carter was that she simply wasn’t interested in him like that.

“I’m taking a shower,” Mel announced, closing the bathroom door behind her as she sailed past Kyle.

Kyle shook his head. He would never understand her, but he could predict her. For a few hours, she’d been open with them. Or at least, more open than usual. She’d laughed and even shared a few stories from her days of traveling. But when it was just the two of them together, she clammed up again and shut him out. What was she so afraid of? Was he that bad of a guy to talk to?

As Kyle stripped out of his dinner clothes and slipped on a clean t-shirt over his boxers, Mel consumed his thoughts. He’d been living with her for a month now and he still didn’t know anything about her other than the few things he’d gotten out of her that night they’d shared a pint of ice cream and talked.

He had a feeling Liz knew some of her past, but Liz would never tell him anything private. She was too good a friend for that. Besides, for some irresistible reason, he really wanted to hear Mel’s story from Mel.

Kyle climbed into bed, moving to the far right side. And he lay, staring at the ceiling, while the sounds of Mel moving around the bathroom filled the silence of the room. She would laugh if he told her he knew her pattern. It was kind of cute really, and kind of reassuring. No matter what she’d done that day, she would always take a shower at night, even though she always took another one in the morning anyway. But she would follow it up with brushing her teeth. After that came the brushing of that long mane of curly auburn hair that she kept wrapped up in her favorite purple towel. She would put some kind of gel in it that made it smell like wildflowers and after she changed into her clothes, she would go to bed.

The first week she’d lived with them, he would stay up listening to those sounds, trying to pinpoint exactly what each one was. And after awhile, it was second nature to listen out for her nightly ritual. He couldn’t say why, but he found that he couldn’t sleep without hearing the soothing sounds. And she would probably belt him if she knew he kept track of her.

So, when the door opened and the sounds of her footsteps padding towards the bed filled the room, he closed his eyes and pretended to be asleep. He felt the bed curve under her weight and she scooted over to the middle of the bed, sure to leave room for Liz, but not coming too close to him either. And when he felt the pillow hit his rib cage, he knew she had placed it between them as a barrier. And he grinned into the darkness.

Silence settled around them and the soft glow of the moon was the only light. He could hear the soft sounds of her breathing and he could tell she was still awake.

“Mel? Are you asleep?”

“I would be if you’d quit yapping.”

Kyle shifted, linking his arms behind his head. “When your father called earlier and said he wasn’t going to be able to make it tonight, you weren’t surprised.”

Mel tried not to sigh, but settled instead on burrowing further into her pillow. She’d known he was going to bring it up. He couldn’t resist the opportunity. Maybe if she just answered his questions and told him what he wanted to know, he’d let her be and she wouldn’t succumb to the soft pull she had to pour out her secrets to him. Damn this whole situation. Kyle Valenti could be a complete softie sometimes, and it would be different if he knew what he was doing. But it was those flashes of him when he was actually vulnerable that got to her. Like that time when they’d been frantic to find Liz. Apparently, when he loved, he loved completely.

“Yeah. Let’s just say he doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to promises.” She shrugged, though she knew it was dark and he couldn’t see. “Don’t take it personally. I’m sure he intended to come when you invited him. Things just have a tendency to creep up that are more important.”

“More important than his own daughter?” Kyle asked, genuinely surprised. He’d never actually met her father, but how could he not love Mel?

“You’d be surprised how far down on the list I rank.” She caught the bitterness in her voice, and tried to shove it back. Why was she letting herself get emotional? Purposefully, she put a hint of amusement in her voice. “A last minute poker game or a photo shoot of polar bears could all be considered more important than family.”

Kyle could all but hear her put her mask back in place. And it saddened him. In her whole life, had she ever had anyone she could confide in? “Tell me.”

Mel considered her options. She could either pretend not to know what he was talking about and have a good verbal spar to distract him from the original question, or she could just tell him.

“My father used to be this hotshot photographer back in the seventies.” She sighed thinking of all the articles she’d seen with his name attached. “If you wanted something shot, you called Jack Carter. He did everything from Tribal Indians and African wildlife to fashion. That’s how he met my mother, Alyson Price. She was this big up-and-coming actress that was looking for some shots to add to her portfolio. And since my father was the best, she wanted him.” Mel focused her gaze into the darkness around her. Kyle hadn’t said a word yet and she knew he would lie there until the end of time if she wanted to talk. And it made her feel warm inside. No one but Liz had ever sat and really listened to her.

“You can probably guess the rest of the story from there. They met, had that instant sizzling attraction and fell into a relationship. My mother liked the press being with my father got her and my father thought the whole thing was pretty amusing. He got a handful of new offers from the fanfare and so they continued dating. And then this little thing popped up, me. Neither one of them were expecting it and my mother was livid. She’d finally gotten in the spotlight and the sort of roles she was after weren’t exactly family roles. But the press managed to find out before she had a chance to…take care of the situation. And she decided she’d rather be known as a mother than the alternative to the press. She agreed to marry my father, who was less than thrilled too. How was he supposed to jaunt off to the Egyptian pyramids with a kid? I think they both planned to pass me off on the other, but dear old Mom beat Dad to the punch.”

Kyle waited out the silence. He had no idea what her childhood must have been like. And it sounded as though she hadn’t meant to tell him this much, but he hoped she would finish. It filled in the holes he’d been trying to peg her with.

“She left one night a few months after I was born. She slipped out in the middle of the night and left a stack of divorce papers behind and a note that said she couldn’t handle marriage and a kid. So, dad did the only thing he knew how to do, he took me along with him. He couldn’t give up photography. It was his first love, above my mother and above me. So, we’ve always traveled together from town to town. During the summers, we would travel overseas. It was pretty great really. I’ve seen corners of the world that nobody else will probably ever see.”

“I’m sorry.”

Kyle’s words were so soft, so gentle that it made tears spring to her eyes. Angrily, she blinked them back. She didn’t cry, ever. “Weren’t you listening? I’ve had chances normal kids never have.”

“I heard every word. But I think you missed out on a lot that normal kids had too.”

“Like what?” She scoffed at his accusation. “Riding a bike down a suburban sidewalk? I rode an elephant on the African plains. That’s a pretty fair trade off.”

“Did you make many friends?”

Mel stiffened, not sure how exactly they had gotten this far. “I wasn’t lonely.”

“That wasn’t what I asked.” Kyle didn’t doubt that she hadn’t let herself be lonely. She had more control over her emotions than even King Max did. And it made him want to take it all away.

“Look, Slick.” She rolled over to face him and found that he had turned his head to look at her. The light was low, but she could still see those eyes probing her. “I didn’t mean to give you a sob story. I’m sorry if that’s how you took it, but I’m happy with my life. I like where I am and how I got here. I didn’t have a hometown to grow up in, knowing everyone who walked past me. But then, I’ve never had to run away from it all either.”

Kyle recognized that she wanted to fight. She was more comfortable attacking than being attacked. And he vowed not to let her do it. So, he remained silent. Mel huffed and flipped back over on her side, turning her back to him. Unsure if he was stepping over the bounds of friendship, but doing the only thing he knew how to do, Kyle moved the pillow she had placed between them as a barrier and tossed it at the foot of the bed. Slowly, he moved closer until he was behind her. He felt her body stiffen when he draped an arm over her waist and settled it gently on her flat stomach. He was striving for as chaste as he could get, not wanting to scare her, but offer her a few moments of comfort.

Mel forced her body to relax when she felt Kyle align his body against hers. Instinct told her to swat him away, to refuse the comfort he thought she needed. But there was something so gentle about his touch, she found the urge subsiding. Slowly, she uncoiled her muscles and let out a breath. She could go back to being bristly and driving him crazy tomorrow. If he thought he was helping her out, she could at least give him the illusion. It was Christmas after all. Besides, if he tried anything funny, he knew she studied kickboxing for a year.

She closed her eyes, letting his hand generate a warmth that flowed through the thin cotton shirt she was wearing. And if she felt more at peace than she ever had, there was no reason he ever had to know that. What could one night hurt?

posted on 3-Dec-2001 2:14:42 PM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [email] Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to R for language mostly
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 52

Liz let herself into her room quietly. It had been such a long night, the last thing she was up to right now was talking. The room was dark except for the faint glow over the horizon of the rising sun and her only thought was taking a long, hot shower. She pulled off her boots, hopping on one foot since she couldn’t remember where the chair was supposed to be. As quietly as possible, she groped around in the dark for the bathroom door, and gave a small cry of achievement when she found it.

Inside, she leaned against the door for a minute. A dozen emotions were churning inside of her and she didn’t know what to do with them all. Deciding to shut down her brain for the duration of her shower, she stripped and climbed into the large shower.

Kyle’s eyes snapped open when he heard the bathroom door close. Liz was back. Panic filled him before he could help it. All night, he’d lain awake, terrified of what she would say to him when she finally came home. He had finally fallen asleep not too long ago, but terrible nightmares had plagued him.

And then he felt something warm pressed against him. Confused, he looked to his side and smiled when he found Mel sprawled out across the bed. She had pulled the heavy blanket from his body and she lay cocooned in it now. But her head was still resting on his chest, one arm draped over his chest.

He was filled with the sudden thought that if Mel woke up and found them like this, she would die of humiliation. She would be unbelievably embarrassed to be found in that position with him. And a huge grin split his face. Looking around, his eyes lighted on the phone book on the bedside table beside him. Trying not to move too much, he stretched his arm far enough to push the book until it was teetering on the edge. With a last gentle nudge, Kyle sent the book falling to the floor with a loud thud.

Mel’s head popped up sleepily. Trying to take in her surroundings, she became all too aware of a very male body lying underneath her. Her eyes opened wide when she realized she was lying on top of Kyle. She pulled back as though she’d been burned and then glanced back at him. His eyes were still closed and he had a contented smile on his face.

He was still sleeping. She let out a breath of relief. He would never let her live it down if he’d woken up before she had. She tried to ignore his state of undress, the way his shirt was riding up above his stomach. That just wouldn’t be smart. Yet here she was, still staring at him. What was she doing lusting after Kyle Valenti? She must be going insane. There was no other reason for it. And unless she got out of there quick, she would wake him up and there would be a whole new world of teasing. And she could happily do without that.

Then she heard the shower turn off and she realized Liz must have woken her. Moving off the bed carefully, Mel padded to the dresser and pulled her unruly hair back in a clip.

Kyle peeked one eye open, trying to contain his grin. He could practically feel the nervous energy in the air. He watched Mel move around the room, picking out her clothes for the day and he got a glimpse of long leg peeking out from the shorts she had slept in. He rolled his eyes, glad he hadn’t known that she’d slept beside him half dressed. His control only went so far. Mel turned sharply and he dropped his head back on the pillow.

Mel continued to stare at Kyle’s still form, a frown on her face. She’d had sworn that she’d seen him move. But that couldn’t be. Because if she had seen him move, it meant that he was only pretending to be asleep. And for what purpose she couldn’t even guess. Unless he was trying to make a fool of her. And she simply couldn’t let that happen.

The bathroom door opened and Liz stepped out, wrapped in an oversized bathrobe. Her eyes lighted on Mel and she gave her a smile. “Hey, Mel. I hope I didn’t wake you up.”

Mel resisted the urge to glance back at Kyle. “No, you didn’t wake me up.” She examined Liz. “How did things go with your parents?”

“Good. Really good. I’m sorry I disappeared last night on you guys. I didn’t mean to leave you alone.”

Mel waved away her apology. “Don’t worry. We were fine. Jim treated us to a very lovely steak dinner.”

“When did Jim get here?” She thought back to his surprise appearance in the restaurant last night.

“Oh, yeah. I guess you missed that. I invited him.” She shrugged. “I thought it would be nice for him. Plus, I was getting pretty tired of babysitting the smooth talker over there.”

Liz glanced at Kyle guiltily. She dropped her voice to a whisper. “I forgot he was still sleeping. Do you want to go talk somewhere else?”

“Hmm?” Mel asked, trying to sound distracted. She kept one eye on his still form and then she knew he couldn’t possibly be sleeping. He simply wasn’t that still. With a smile, she turned back to Liz. “Oh, I wouldn’t worry about Kyle. He’s sleeping like the dead. Say, Liz. I’m glad you’re here. We need to talk.” She pulled Liz closer, giving her a quick wink and nodding her head back towards the bed. “You remember what we were talking about the other day when Kyle was at work? I think we should go ahead and ask him to join us. I think Kyle would be okay with the idea of a threesome with us.”

Liz looked at Mel, confused. But when she heard a thump from behind them, the two girls turned to find Kyle sitting on the floor, rubbing his head.

“That wasn’t very nice.”

Mel grinned at him even as she smacked him in the head with a pillow. “One good turn deserves another.” She turned to Liz. “I’ll just let you two talk.” She whacked Kyle over the head with the pillow one last time for good measure before gathering her things and locking herself in the bathroom.

“Why do I always feel like I’m a conversation behind with you guys?”

“Trust me, you don’t want to know.” He picked himself off the floor and faced his friend. It had been easy for a minute to forget. But now she was standing in front of him.

“Look, Liz, about your parents-“

Liz smiled and threw herself in Kyle’s arms, cutting off his well rehearsed speech. She held him tight and he felt his own arms wrap around her tiny waist.

“Thank you, Kyle. I don’t know how I can ever think you enough for that.”

“So, you’re not mad?” He pulled back, searching her face for the truth.

“I was, for about thirty seconds. But I got over it.” She shook her head. “It was so amazing. We went out for dinner in town and we stayed talking so long, they had to throw us out. I told them everything that happened since I left and they filled me in on some Roswell stuff.” They’d thought they’d been helping with updates on her old friends, and she hadn’t had the heart to tell them she didn’t want to know, that she couldn’t know, or she might run back to them. “I asked them if they knew if everyone was healthy and they said yes.” She smiled at him. “See? I told you my dream was just a dream.”

Kyle nodded, though he wasn’t convinced. He made a note to check it with his father just in case. “So, we’re good then? Because if you need time, I’m good with that too.”

“We’re more than good. And to prove it, how about I buy you breakfast?”

Kyle’s eyebrows shot up. “You’ve got yourself a deal.” He turned and reached for a pair of jeans and pulled them on.

“Should we wait for Mel?” Liz glanced back at the bathroom door.

Kyle followed Liz’s glance, listening for something Liz couldn’t hear.

“Nah, she’ll be eighteen minutes and I’m hungry now.” Liz gave him a funny look .’’She still has to dry her hair and brush her teeth, and-you know what? Forget it. It’s just a thing I know.” He pounded on the door.

“Hey, Sleeping Beauty, Liz and I are heading downstairs for breakfast. Get your butt in gear and meet us downstairs!” He yelled through the door as he pulled on his jacket. “That ought to get her moving,” he decided.

Liz just shook her head at the pair of them. If it was possible for two weird people to rub off on each other and become even more weird, then she lived with proof of it.

posted on 18-Dec-2001 10:01:09 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [email] Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to R for language mostly
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 53

“Merry Christmas everybody!” Maria opened the doors to the children’s ward with a flourish. Ana had been moved out of ICU the evening before after the doctor’s had given her a healthy prognosis. She had a feeling Max had done something to help the little girl along, but he hadn’t said a word about it.

Ana sat up straighter when Maria dragged a half dozen bags into the room behind her. She giggled and clapped her hands as Maria pulled out Santa hats for all the other kids in the room. Saving the best for last, Maria plunked an especially festive Santa hat on Ana’s head.

“I decorated it myself,” she confessed proudly. She had woken up early to glue the glitter and sequins on herself. “And Liz used to accuse me of not being crafty. Hah, I say to that. How are you feeling today, angel?”

Ana followed Maria’s topic changes easily, but wasn’t dissuaded. “Fine. Who’s Liz?”

Maria looked down into those sharp eyes filled with questions and it reminded her of herself. “Well, I’m glad you asked. Liz is one of my bestest friends in the whole world.”

“You have more than one bestest friend?” She sounded skeptical, but she was willing to believe anything Maria told her.

“I most certainly do. I have…” Maria did head count. “Six.”

“Six?” Ana’s eyes were wide.

“Absolutely.” She began emptying the contents of the many bags she had filled to the brim with Christmas items. “There’s Liz, and my boyfriend Michael, and Max.” Maria tickled Ana’s nose at the mention of Max’s name and was rewarded with a giggle. “There’s Isabel and Kyle and Alex.”

“Who’s Kyle and Alex?”

“Well, Kyle is this sort of annoying guy that –well, you know how brothers are? No, well neither do I really. But if I’d ever had one, I’m sure he would have been exactly like Kyle.” She sighed when she saw the look on Ana’s face.

“Oh,” Ana said, really not sure what she meant.

“Well, you know what boys are like.” Ana rolled her eyes in understanding. “Well, I love Kyle, but he can be pretty irritating when he wants to be.” She smiled, missing the frustrating bully dearly.

“And Alex?”

Maria’s smile was bittersweet. “Alex was one of my bestest bestest friends in the whole universe. But he died.”

“Did he go up to Heaven to be with the angels?”

Maria’s heart twisted painfully. “Yeah, I’m sure he did. He was the nicest person you’d have ever met.”

“Where’s Liz? Can I meet her?” Ana could tell that Maria was sad and it made her feel funny inside.

“Someday. She and Kyle moved away. But they’ll be back some day.” How many times a day did she tell herself that? She had to force herself to believe that she would see them again.

Shaking off her mood and blaming it on the holidays, Maria shifted gears and smiled. “That’s not why I’m here though. See, I have this problem and you’re the only person who can help me.”

“I am?” Her eyes widened in surprise.

“You are,” Maria confirmed. “You see, it’s Christmas and I haven’t wrapped any of my presents yet. And I need someone with little fingers to help me tie the ribbons.”

“I have little fingers.” She held them up for inspection.

“You know, those are exactly the right size. You’re hired for the job. I have to warn you though, I can only pay you in candy. I hope that’s not a problem.”

“I’ve never wrapped presents before.” Excitement laced her words.

“Well, it’s easy.” Maria began rifling through bags looking for tape.

“Maria?” Ana asked in a small voice.

“Yeah, angel?”

“Do you think Max would like it if I made him something?”

There was a shyness in her voice that was heartwrenching. “I think Max would love anything you made for him. And I have just the stuff we need. Tell you what, we’ll get you set up and I’ll do the hard part of wrapping the presents.”

They worked steadily, only stopping for an occasional gigglefest or for Ana’s opinion on which wrapping paper was best. And once when Maria had tried to sneak a peek at her masterpiece, Ana had informed her that it was a secret.

“Oh, shoot. I’m out of tape. Ana, I need you to do me a huge favor. I’m not done wrapping presents and Michael’s gonna be here any minute. Can you make sure no one goes in those bags? I have a super surprise present in there and I don’t want anyone to see it.”

Ana nodded her head, thrilled to be given such an important task.

“Great! I’ll be back in a second. I’m just going out to the nurses station.”

Ana watched Maria leave before returning to her own project.

“Hey, kiddo. Whatcha got there?”

Ana looked up when Michael’s cheerful greeting reached her ears.

“I see Maria’s already been here.” He glanced around the newly cheerful room with a chuckle. “So, where’s she at?”

“She went to get tape.” Ana looked up from her coloring with a smile.

“Tape?” A glint shined in Michael’s eyes. “That must mean she’s wrapping presents. What’d she get me?”

“Nuh uh. I’m not supposed to tell.”

“Well, then I’ll just take a peek in the bag here.” Michael moved towards the bags slowly.

“NO! You’re not allowed.” Ana glared at him menacingly. “Maria said not to let anyone look. She’s got a super secret present.”

“A super secret present, huh? Well, did she say who it was for?”


“Well, I’ll bet it’s for you then.” Michael figured Maria would skin him alive if she heard that lie, but he needed to know what she had gotten him so he knew if his present for her was enough. “And I’m sure she didn’t mean me when she said nobody.” He sent Ana his most pathetic look. It had worked hundreds of times on Maria before she had figured him out.

Ana frowned, but relented. “You think Maria bought me something?”

“I’m sure she did.” He straightened up. “Tell you what, I’ll just take a peek inside and see if the super secret present is yours and I’ll give you hints about what it is.” Michael peered into the bag before she had a chance to stop him. And he became confused when his eyes lighted on the red and green sweater. He pulled it out of the bag and laid it on the bed. “What in the world is this?” He asked Ana.

“I don’t know.” She looked at it. “It’s kinda pretty.”

“Pretty? It looks like a dog chewed on this side.” He held up one side for her examination. “And this arm is way longer than the other. You and I both could fit inside this thing. Who in the world would she buy this ugly thing for?”


Michael turned stiffly when he heard Maria’s voice from the doorway behind him. And he had the distinct impression that he had just screwed up royally. “Maria. I didn’t know you were there.”

“I gathered.” It was taking everything in her not to burst into tears. She’d walked in to hear his mocking tone and her heart had crumbled. Stiffly, she strode over to the bed and began tossing her things into the bags she had brought them in.

“Maria, wait. Let me explain.”

“Explain? What would you like to explain, Michael? You know what? Just forget it. I don’t want to talk to you right now.”

Michael threw his hands up in the air. “What’s the big deal? It’s just a dumb sweater. So I don’t like it. It’s not the end of the world or anything. You can just take it back and get one that isn’t defective looking.”

Maria glared at him. “I made that dumb sweater for you.”

“Oh, hell.” Michael saw the pain in her eyes and he knew he’d not only screwed up, but he’d done it in the worst way possible. She finished tossing her things back in their bags and leaned over to kiss Ana.

“Good night, angel. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Are you mad at me, Maria?”

“No, sweetie. I’m not mad at you. I love you and I hope you have a very Merry Christmas.” She straightened and brushed past Michael.

“Maria, wait.” Michael tried to follow after her, but she was already half way out the door.

“I don’t have anything to say to you that can be said in the presence of children. Good night, kids!” She called out behind her.

A chorus of “Merry Christmas’s” followed Maria’s retreating back.

“You made her mad.”

Michael took a seat on Ana’s bed. “No, I’ve seen her mad. This is worse. I hurt her feelings.”

“You should apologize.” She offered him all her wisdom.

Michael turned his attention from the empty doorway to Ana’s project laid out before her. “I think you may be right.” But he needed to figure out the best way to do it. “So, whatcha got there?”

“It’s a secret.”

“Great. Well, I don’t have much of a track record with them today, so you’d better not show it to me.” Michael sat on Ana’s bed in silence a minute, trying to figure out a way to fix the mess he’d made of things.


The Christmas party was in full swing by the time Kyle entered the courtyard. After a long morning of skiing with his father and an even longer afternoon of keeping overly amorous ski instructors away from Mel and Liz, Kyle had squeezed in a nap. He’d had just enough time to shower and meet everyone downstairs before the party really started. Besides, didn’t Maria used to say that it was fashionable to be late for a party?

He spotted the Parkers easily enough. They were sitting at a table with Liz, their infamous video camera lying asleep on the glossy oak surface. Since their reunion with Liz, Kyle would have bet they’d filmed every minute of their trip, catching every move Liz had made. And my extension, that had also meant that he and Mel had been in every shot as well.

Kyle spied Mel next. She was finishing off a roll of film outside, catching nature in all it’s wintry wonderness. Or was she really doing something more sinister? More devious? It was hard to tell with her. She’d been disappearing at odd hours of the day and night and whenever he questioned her on it, she got defensive and changed the subject. Something was going on with that girl and he was going to figure out what it was.

“I just love the smell of a fresh snow, don’t you?” Jim clapped a hand on his son’s back.

“Yeah,” Kyle answered, still keeping an eye on Mel. Why was she shooting pictures of the fresh snow?

“Is everything okay, son?” Jim had caught the supposed animosity and fierce competition between his son and Mel and though it amused him, he felt as though Kyle had finally met his match. And it made him want to sigh, making him feel old.

“Actually,” Kyle forced his attention from Mel and back to his father. “There was something I needed to talk to you about.” Instinctively, he glanced over both their shoulders.

“What is it?” Jim knew that look. It was the same one Max Evans gave him when they had something unbelievable to tell him.

“I’m going to tell you, but you have to let me tell the story. Okay?”

“Alright.” Jim led Kyle over to a table, out of the way of the doors.

Kyle blew out a breath, searching for a place to start. “First of all, is everyone okay in Roswell? No one is sick or anything?”

Jim thought back to the other kids. “No. Everyone is fine. They were all at the Crashdown before I left. Maria and Michael were working and Isabel and Max were sitting at a booth.” He thought back harder, knowing it was important somehow. “Max did seem a little antsy, like he wanted to get out of the place. But they were in pretty good spirits. Why?”

“Liz had a dream the day we drove up here. She fell asleep in the library and she says the dream felt real.” Kyle looked at his father, sure he would know what he was talking about.

“You’re saying someone dreamwalked her?” Jim asked anxiously.

“Not someone, Max.”

“Is that possible? I thought only Isabel could do that.”

“So did we. I told her it was probably just a dream. But she said the Max in her dream said a friend was sick.”

Jim sat back now, thinking back. “No, none of them were sick. They all looked fine to me.”

“Well, that settles that then.” But there was still the matter of the party.

“Kyle, what else aren’t you telling me?”

Kyle grinned sheepishly. Why did he ever even consider lying to his father? “There was this other thing. Liz sort of healed me.”

“I’m sorry. I think my old ears are playing tricks on me again. Did you say Liz healed you?”

“We went to this party-“

“Were there adult chaperones at this party?”

“Dad,” Kyle warned. “Do you want to hear the story or not?”

“Sorry. I’m your father. Continue.”

“Well, at this party, Liz sort of got separated from us after Mel tried to get her drunk.”

“Should I be hearing this story?”

“Let’s not get carried away in details. Suffice to say, Mel and I were worried about her and a friend brought her home safe and sound,” he emphasized the last part. “But she was completely out of it. I guess I managed to cut myself while we were looking for her and she just…healed it.”

Jim let the knowledge roll around in his head, knowing it would be there for weeks. “How?”

“That’s the question of the hour.”

“Well, what did she say about it?”

“I sort of didn’t tell her she did it. It’s not like she remembered much from that night.” He defended his actions against his father’s angry stare.

Jim leaned forward again and whispered his words. “She used alien powers and you didn’t tell her she’d done it?”

“You don’t understand, Dad. She left Roswell behind because she was tired of dealing with all that mumbo jumbo. Ava said Max had changed her when he healed her. What if this is part of that change? Is that going to help her have a normal life? I don’t think so. It’s going to suck her back in. And that’s the last thing she needs right now.”

“Kyle, she should know about this. It’s bigger either of us. How is she supposed to make this journey of self discovery she was telling me about if she doesn’t have all the pieces to do that?”

“I’m only trying to help.” But there was doubt in his mind now. What if his father was right?

“I know you love Liz, and you want to watch out for her. But part of growing up is getting your heart broken. It’s up to her to decide what she wants to do about Max. But I think she should know if she has powers.”

“Who has powers?” Liz threw herself in a chair beside Jim.

Kyle scrambled for an answer, surprised by her sudden presence. “Uh, Wonder Woman. Yeah, Dad and I were talking about this…comic book I used to read as a kid and we were discussing it.”

Liz threw Kyle a weird look. “You used to read Wonder Woman comics?”

Kyle blushed. “Yeah, sure. All the time. So, how are your parents?” he asked, hoping to change the subject.

Liz smiled warmly. “They’re great. I finally convinced them to put down the video camera and just talk to me.”

“They missed you.” Jim laid a hand on hers.

“I know. And I missed them too. They were telling me about Maria. She asked Mom to teach her how to knit so she could make Michael a sweater for Christmas.” Her fingers traced the pattern on the table cloth, her thoughts on her best friend. “Mom said it was the most hideous looking thing she’d ever seen, but Maria was so proud of it.”

“I’m sure she’d love to hear from you, Liz.”

Liz shook her head. “No. She’s busy. Maria was telling Mom that she was volunteering at a foster home.” She shrugged her shoulders. “I’m sure they all have plans already.” Realizing how depressed she was sounding, she forced herself to brighten. “Have we heard from Mel’s dad yet?”

Kyle frowned. “Yeah, he called last night and said he was running behind. He doesn’t think he’s going to be able to make it at all.”

“How did Mel take it?” Liz glanced at her friend nervously.

“The same way she takes everything. She brushed it off, then she made some crack about the way I was dressed and changed the subject before I knew it.” Kyle glanced at Mel as well. She might not let it show, but she was disappointed. And maybe a little bit lonely.

“If you guys don’t mind, I think I may go harass her for awhile.” Kyle rose from the table, giving his father one last look before disappearing down the snow covered steps.

“I think I’m going to go upstairs for a minute too.”

Jim squeezed her hand when she tried to slip away. “Liz, whatever happens, you know you can trust me, right? No matter what it is.” If any of what Kyle had told him was true, she was going to need all the friends she could soon.

Liz smiled at Jim. “Of course.”

Satisfied, he nodded. “Go make your phone call.”

“I’m not-“

“I know you want to call her. She misses you, Liz. No matter how far apart you two are, she’ll always be your best friend.” He smiled at her. “Merry Christmas.”

“Merry Christmas to you too.” He released her hand and she quietly slipped up the stairs, desperate for a minute alone with her thoughts.


Isabel kicked at the candy machine, swearing when her chocolate bar wouldn’t fall from its’ perch.

“Hey there. Can I help you out?”

Swinging around, Isabel came face to face with the familiar green eyes that she’d been thinking about. “Detective Mark.”

“It’s Sergeant actually.”

She found herself grinning at him despite the resolve she had to stay away from him. “What brings you to this lovely wing of the hospital?” She turned and began kicking the machine anew.

“Well, we’ve had a rash of incidents involving people kicking in vending machines. You wouldn’t know anything about that, would you?”

She turned to glare at him, surprised when it didn’t have the usual effect. She had considered using her powers to blast the thing open, but she hadn’t thought Max would appreciate that. “I’ll be sure to call if I see anything.”

“Look…Isabel, was it? Since you’re obviously in need of sugar, how about I treat you to something in the cafeteria?”

“It’s not that I don’t appreciate the offer, but I don’t think-“

“How’s Ana? I heard she came through the surgery with flying colors.” He interrupted her, knowing an apologetic refusal was on her lips.

Isabel studied him carefully. His concern for Ana seemed genuine and it made her nervous. “Yeah, she’s doing just fine. Is that why you came all the way out here?”

“I actually went by the Hudson House to speak with Colleen and she told me you and Max were spending Christmas in the hospital. It seemed a bit lonely, so I thought I’d see if maybe I could help.” And he hadn’t been able to get Isabel Evans off his mind since he’d met her a few weeks ago.

Isabel weighed her options carefully. She knew Max would be occupied with Ana all night long and her parents were roaming the hospital somewhere. Maybe spending some time with someone new would raise her spirits a bit. “I can spare an hour.”

“Is! There you are. Have you seen Maria anywhere?” Michael rounded the corner, taking Isabel by the elbow.

“No. I haven’t seen her for hours. What’s up?”

“I screwed up,” he admitted bluntly.

Isabel scoffed. “Tell me something new.”

Michael glared at her. “If you see her, just tell her I’m looking for her.”

Isabel watched as he continued sprinting down the corridor. She turned her most charming smile on Mark. Flirting with a handsome guy wasn’t a bad way to spend some time. Even if it couldn’t ever go anywhere. She offered him her arm. “Shall we?”

“Let’s pop into Ana’s room first. Colleen asked me to give Ana something.”

Together, they set off in the direction of the children’s ward.

“Knock knock.” Isabel smiled at the picture Ana and Max made on the bed. “Merry Christmas, you two.”

“Merry Christmas!” Ana called out to them, a smile stretched out across her face.

Max turned a dazed face to his sister and she questioned him silently. “Ana made me a present.”

Isabel stepped forward to examine the work of art draped across Max’s lap. It was a drawing of a couple of stick figures and some brown blobs Isabel couldn’t identify. It had large piles of glitter and she was afraid to touch it. “It’s…ah…lovely, Ana.”

“It’s me and Max at the zoo with the monkeys. He’s gonna take me there when the doctors say I can go.” Ana was still coloring on another sheet of paper, working on another masterpiece.

Isabel looked into her brother’s eyes and found them moist. The simple act from Ana had touched him the way none of them had been able to. “It sounds like you two are going to have fun.”

“Lots of it,” she agreed.

Max turned to the stranger at Isabel’s side. “I’m sorry. I know we’ve met, but-“

“Mark Christopher,” he supplied, holding out his hand for Max to shake.

“Right. You work with Valenti.” Max shot Isabel a look asking what she was doing with him. Isabel sent him her best “Butt out of it” look. “You here on official business?”

“No, I come bearing gifts. Ana, Colleen asked me to give this to you.” Mark held out a box to the small girl.

Ana’s eyes lit up. “Presents? For me?”

Mark handed them to her gently so she wouldn’t have to reach. She tore into the bright paper as eagerly as her stitches would allow and gasped out loud when she reached the boxes inside. “Barbies!” She held the boxes up for Max’s inspection.

Max nodded approvingly, taking his time to examine the dolls. He knew Ana was waiting for his reaction. “Not just any Barbies. These are Barbies of your very own.” He took the boxes from her and went about opening the first one.

“Well, my job here is done. Merry Christmas, Ana, Max. Isabel? Are you ready?”

“Where are you two going?” Max paused his actions.

“We are going to have hot chocolate in the cafeteria. I will see you later, Max.” She linked arms with Mark and led him from the room before Max had a chance to come up with a reason why they shouldn’t.


Max returned his attention to Ana. He would have to talk to Isabel later and find out what she was doing with the newest member of the Roswell Police Department. “Yes?”

“Can we look at the stars tonight? You promised.”

Max remembered his promise to her when she had caught him stargazing one night. It had been too cloudy that night and she had become so sick after that, they hadn’t had a chance. “Sure.” He moved over to the window and looked out. “It’s clear enough. You want to do it now? Or do you want to play with your new dolls?”


“Okay.” Max returned to the side of her bed and shifted it until she had a better view of the window. It wasn’t ideal, but he didn’t want to risk moving her out of bed. He took a seat beside her and crouched down to her level. He looked up to find his guiding star and was surprised to find it burning bright.

“See that big bright star right there?” He pointed to it, hoping she could follow his finger. “There are five stars that look like a big V?”

Ana scrunched up her nose. “Oh, yeah. I see it. What’s it called?”

Max smiled as he remembered naming that star cluster well over two years ago. He had just left Liz’s and had driven out to the desert to think. That star had burned brightly then too, drawing his attention. It was his guiding star, the one he always looked for to orient himself no matter where he was. It was the biggest and the brightest of them all.

“I call it ‘Liz’.”

“Like Maria’s bestest friend?”

“Maria told you about her?” He wasn’t surprised. What he was surprised to find was that he hadn’t.

Ana nodded her head. “Maria said she lived far away but she’d come back some day and I could meet her. Is she your bestest friend too?”

“We used to be bestest friends.” And if he ever had the chance to become so again, he wouldn’t hesitate. “But that is another story for another time. I thought you wanted to know the star names?” He saw the questions forming in her eyes and he had to remind himself not to be swayed by the pouting lips.

A nurse entered the room and called out gently to the occupants. “Visiting hours are over. It’s bedtime in here.”

Max looked around the room, knowing none of the kids were ready for bed. They were still wired from the excitement of the day. It was more the parents who looked tired.

“I have to go, Ana.” He leaned down and placed a kiss on her forehead, trying to stand tall against the puppy dog eyes she was giving him.

“Okay.” She clutched at the Pretty Polly doll he had given to her that morning.

“That means you too, Mr. Evans,” the nurse called from the doorway. He’d been the last to leave and the first to enter the room since Ana had been admitted. And he was driving the nurses crazy.

He made a show of tucking Ana into her bed. “I’ll see you in the morning. You be a good girl and go to sleep.” He turned one last time and with his back to the nurse, winked at Ana.

Her eyes widened, then she smiled. She covered her hand over her mouth to prevent her giggles from escaping. “Good night, Max. Thank you for the present.”

“I love you, Ana.”

She wrapped her small arms around his neck. “I love you too.”

The nurse rolled her eyes at the pair of them, waiting patiently to escort Max out of the room.


Liz climbed the stairs slowly, her heart heavy. Jim had told her just what her parents had. Maria missed her. And she should call. They’d been best friends for as long as she could remember. But Liz had skipped town and had left Maria to deal with everything on her own. Had it been too much? Would Maria resent her for what she’d done?

She let herself into their room and walked mechanically to the phone. Then she froze in place, unable to make her hand move those last few inches.

“Are you really going to call this time? Because I think you should.”

Liz closed her eyes when the all too familiar voice washed over her. “Alex.”

“You getting other ghostly visits I don’t know about?” he joked.

Slowly, she turned and found her old friend standing beside her, his hands in his pockets and a wide grin on his face. “If you keep showing up like this, I’m going to start thinking I’m crazy.”

“You were already crazy to begin with.” He pulled his hands out of his pockets and held them open. “What? Dead people don’t get hugs around here?”

She smiled, brushing at the tear that slipped down her face. Closing the distance between them, she pressed herself into Alex’s chest. “I miss you.”

“I know.” He closed his arms around her, gently stroking her hair. “I wish I could be here to help you more. But all things happen for a reason. You know that.”

With a sniffle, she pulled out of his embrace and smiled brightly for him. If Alex was here, he must have a reason. “And to what do I owe this visit?”

Alex rolled his eyes at her. “You even need to ask? C’mon, Liz. You’re being stubborn again. Just call her.”

“I’m not being stubborn. She’s too busy for me to call today. I’ll do it tomorrow.”

“Uh huh. And there won’t be another excuse tomorrow? Or the day after that?”

“Why aren’t you bugging Maria? How do I get to be so lucky?” She grumbled, knowing Alex wouldn’t take her seriously.

“You always were more fun. Maria bugs right back. Tell Doctor Alex all about it.” He took a seat on the chair, crossing his legs primly.

“Does she hate me?” Liz asked in a small voice.

“What? Hate you? Liz, where would you get an idea like that from?”

Liz shrugged. “I don’t know. Alex, I left her with so much stuff to deal with. Your death, Tess’s betrayal, looking for Max’s son. She’s the only non-alien left in the bunch. She was hurting too and I didn’t even say good bye when I left.”

Alex stood, taking Liz by the shoulders. “Listen to me, Liz Parker. What is it going to take for you to get over this guilt? You didn’t kill me. And neither did your actions. It’s going to eat you alive if you don’t let it go, you and Kyle both. And as for Maria, I love you both. And all I can tell you is that you’re going to need each other soon. Or more importantly, she’s going to need you first.”

Liz whipped her head around to meet Alex’s eye. “Why? Is something going to happen to her?”

Alex shook his head. “You know I can’t tell you that.”

“To Michael, then?” Her mind whirled with possiblities.

“Liz, does it matter what’s going to happen? Maria is going to need you.” He repeated the words slowly to her, willing them to sink in. “And she won’t be able to turn to you if you’re not there for her first. Call her. Wish her a Merry Christmas. You won’t regret it.”

“You sure about this?” She eyed the phone skeptically.

“Hey, it’s me, Alex, you’re talking to. Have I ever steered you wrong?”

“You mean besides the time in fourth grade when we went camping and you assured me the green plant wasn’t poison ivy?”

He grinned sheepishly. “Okay, let’s forget about that minor incident. We have more important things to deal with here.”

“I’ll call her. You’re sure she’s home now?”

Alex looked off in the distance over her shoulder at something she couldn’t see. “Yeah, she’s there now. And if you call her, it might soften her up for when Michael gets there.”

“What did he do now?”

Alex grinned. “You don’t even want to know. But they’ll be fine. I promise.”

Liz turned back to the phone, picking up the receiver. She dialed the familiar number quickly, before she had a chance to change her mind. She shut her eyes tight while she listened to the phone ring. On it’s fourth ring, she was beginning to doubt Alex’s ghostly wisdom. Then someone picked up the phone and Liz held her breath.


Liz’s voice caught in her throat. Too many emotions flooded her system and she couldn’t speak.

“Hello?” There was an irritation in Maria’s voice now. “Michael, is that you? Because I thought I told you not to bother calling me tonight.”

Liz’s eyes opened and she met Alex’s. He’d known about her and Michael. Maybe he knew what he was talking about with the rest after all.

“Fine. You know, what, I don’t want to talk to you either.”

Liz panicked as she realized Maria was going to hang up. “Maria, wait. It’s me.”

There was a pause on the other end of the phone before Maria’s hopeful whisper came through the phone lines. “Liz?”

“Yeah, babe. It’s me.” Liz took Alex’s earlier seat.

“Are you okay?”

“I’m fine. So is Kyle. I just…I missed you, Maria. I missed my best friend.”

Liz could hear her shaky laugh and knew Maria was as close to crying as she was. “I miss you too, Liz.” She sniffled and Liz could almost hear Maria turning into full gossip mode. “So, tell me what’s been going on in your world.”


Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Diane Evans turned down the hospital corridor into the cafeteria, pausing in her tracks when she saw Isabel and Mark sitting together. Their heads bowed together as they laughed softly over mugs of hot chocolate. Diane couldn’t help but let her heart soften towards the man who had made her baby laugh after everything they had been through lately.

Let your heart be light

Phillip came up behind his wife, circling his arms around her waist. Caught, she offered him a sheepish grin and he placed a forgiving kiss on her forehead. For a minute, they watched the new couple together with a smile. Laughter had been a foreign sound around them lately. But maybe things were finally starting to look up.

Next year all our troubles will be out of sight

Movement caught their eye and they shared a smile when they saw Max sneaking past the nurses’ station to slip back into Ana’s room. A smile graced his lips when he spotted his parents. He saluted them before crouching low and slipping past the nurses. Diane turned to smile at her husband. It was about time their children smiled again.

Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Kyle watched the Parkers share a slow dance in the courtyard and he couldn’t help but smile. The joy on their faces was unmistakable. His father appeared at his side and offered him two cups of egg nog. With a secret smile, he nodded at Mel. She was busy taking pictures of the enormous tree that filled the lounge. Kyle smiled back at his father and mock saluted him before setting off.

Make the yuletide gay

Mel could feel the moment when Kyle came up behind her. He held out a glass to her and she took it, offering a rare smile of her own. With a free hand, he pulled a sprig of mistletoe from his pocket and held it above his head. With a suggestive eyebrow wiggle, he puckered up his lips. Mel chuckled and elbowed him in the ribs.

Next year all our troubles will be miles away

Mel felt a hand at her elbow that was too bony to belong to Kyle. She turned and found herself looking into the grinning face of her father. Without questioning it, she flung herself into his arms and found herself amazed when he returned the gesture.

Once again as in olden days

Michael climbed through Maria’s open window, surprised she hadn’t locked it tight in anticipation of his visit. He stumbled his way through her room, his eyes lighting immediately on the infamous sweater. He slipped it over his head, doing his best to hide that the left sleeve was longer than the right. He was careful to smooth down the hideous looking green and red sweater she had lovingly made for him. Following the sound of her voice, he was amazed by what he saw. She was curled up on the couch, the phone attached to her ear. And she was laughing.

Happy golden days of yore

Michael listened to the sound a minute, not sure when she’d last been so happy. Content to watch her forever, he took a seat in one of the dining room chairs. And when he realized she was talking to Liz, he smiled with her.

Faithful friends who were dear to us

With a last smile, Maria hung up the phone and turned to Michael. She’d known he was there, just like he always was when she needed him. Liz had been right. Why be upset over the little things when there were so many real problems out there?

Will be near to us once more

Petty arguments forgotten, Maria found herself in his arms. Her heart was too full of love for anything to ruin that moment. And when Michael smiled at her, she saw the regret in his eyes that he had hurt her. And all the apologizing that was necessary was done. Her eyes were drawn to the sweater she had knitted and she giggled when she realized that it was indeed pretty hideous looking.

Someday soon we all will be together

Liz slowly hung up the receiver and smiled. Her heart ached to see her friends again, but there would be time. She turned her attention to the large window behind her and to the V of stars in the sky. The lowest of them seemed to glow brighter tonight and it made her smile even more, thinking of Max.

If the fates allow

Alex appeared beside her and when he offered her a brilliant smile, she knew she’d done the right thing for once. She laid her head on his shoulder and together, they watched as a star shot across the night sky.

Until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow

Max gazed out the window of the children’s ward, his attention drawn to the familiar V of stars he’d pointed out to Ana only hours ago. He caught sight of a shooting star and made a quick wish that wherever Liz was, she was happy and safe.

So, have yourself a Merry Little Christmas now.

Ana moved on her bed, an impish grin on her face. She’d known he would come back, had trusted him to. Holding out two Barbie dolls to him, she scooted up the bed to make room for him. He took a seat and took one doll from her. Unexpectedly, she threw her small arms around him. Max closed his eyes and took the love she offered, stroking a hand down her long hair. He didn’t have anything to offer her but his love and she took it gladly. He could hear some of the other kids moving around and knew they weren’t all asleep yet. One of the older children was reading a Dr. Seuss story he recognized from his childhood and a single line stood out and carried across the stillness of the night.

Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps means a little bit more.

And as he settled in for a long night of Magical Fashion Show Barbie doll playing, he couldn’t help but be thankful of how bright their Christmas had turned out.

posted on 18-Dec-2001 10:01:30 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [email] Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to R for language mostly
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 54

“Sorry I’m running late.” Nancy Parker quickly scooted into her chair across from Liz and offered her a smile. “Your father kept telling me to go and he would finish packing, but you know how he is.”

Liz laughed when her mother rolled her eyes. It felt nice to be able to spend time with them again. These last few days had been too short. And today was checkout day. “He’s not folding the clothes too, is he?”

“There are some things I would never leave for him to do. So, what are you having? Did you order already?”

“No, I was waiting for you, but the breakfast special smells wonderful.”

Nancy closed her menu. “I agree. So, what time are you guys heading out today?”

“Sometime after lunch I think. Kyle wanted to hit the slopes early this morning again and I think Mel wanted to surprise him with her new skiing skills.” She didn’t want to think about when they would have to leave. Everything had been so perfect those last few days, she didn’t want it to end.

Chuckling, Nancy sipped at her coffee. “I like her. She seems like a good girl.” Nerves jangled in her stomach despite herself. There was so much she needed to talk to her daughter about, but she didn’t have any idea where to start.

“Mom? Can we talk for a minute?”

Nancy set down her mug and gripped Liz’s hand in hers. She had been dreading this moment for so long. “You want to know about your adoption.”

Liz bit down on her lower lip, nodding her head. There were so many questions she wanted answers to and she just didn’t know how to ask them.

“I figured as much. I’m afraid I just don’t have much to tell you. Your grandmother brought you to us. We’d been trying to have a baby for so long and we hadn’t had any luck. We were about to give up hope. Then one day out of the blue, there was your grandmother standing on our doorstep with this little bundle in her arms. You were all red from crying and she just handed you to us.” Nancy’s eyes glazed over with the memory. It seemed so long ago. “We knew you were ours.”

“Did Grandma ever tell you anything about where I came from?” Liz hated asking the questions, but she needed answers. There was something burning inside of her that told her to push for more.

Nancy shook her head. “We asked, but she wouldn’t ever tell us. All she said was that you were all alone and you didn’t have any family here that could take you in. So, we asked Phillip to help us with the legal end of things. I remember he was hesitant at first, and he insisted on talking with your grandmother privately. And it was like he changed his mind overnight. After that conversation, he was great about helping us keep things quiet. I believe he had just married Diane and they had started planning for a family themselves.”

The words swirled in Liz’s head. Something was here, in those words, an answer to a question she didn’t know how to form.

“What did Grandma say to Mr. Evans that convinced him to help you?”

“I don’t know. They wouldn’t ever tell us. And it just wasn’t important at the time. We’d fallen in love with you from the first time you cried and we would have done anything to keep you.”

Claudia Parker and Phillip Evans had spoken in private and she had convinced him to bend the law to help them. Liz knew her grandmother could be persuasive, but Max’s father was one of the most law abiding people she’d ever met. So, what had her grandmother said? Lost in her own thoughts, Liz missed the crestfallen look on her mother’s face.

“I’m sorry I can’t tell you where you came from, honey. I know you probably want to meet your real parents. It’s only natural for you to be curious. But we just don’t know. After Phillip told us he could legalize the adoption, we just stopped asking questions. You were this beautiful gift and we were thankful just to have you. I’m only sorry we never told you this sooner. I don’t know if it had anything to do with why you left the way you did, but you seem so much stronger now. And I think you can handle the truth. Your father and I had always meant to tell you someday, but we could honestly go years forgetting that we hadn’t created you ourselves.”

Her mother’s words sunk into Liz’s head and she gripped Nancy’s arm. “Don’t apologize to me, Mom. You and Dad only did what you thought was right. It’s not easy to make decisions that effect the lives of others and I’m sure you thought it through. I just wanted to know anything you knew about it. I’m not upset, or looking to track down my birth parents. I love you and Dad both. And nothing will ever change that. You will always be my parents, no matter what some DNA test says.”

Nancy pursed her lips together, trying to hold back the tears that threatened to spill. She’d wanted to hear those words, but had been afraid to hope for them. Needing the comfort, she pulled her daughter into a tight hug. She felt Liz’s arms tighten around her and they rocked quietly a minute.

Wiping at a tear, Nancy finally pulled back. “I promised your father I wasn’t going to cause a scene by blubbering on you.”

“You can blubber away. I don’t mind.”

“No, I’m done. See?” She smiled brightly as Liz. “Besides, I still have more I wanted to tell you. Your father wanted to give us some alone time, but I know he wanted to tell you this himself. We’re moving out of the apartment.”

“Oh?” Liz felt her chest crush under the sudden weight. They were moving?

“We’re not going far, just out of that place. We talked about it and when Kyle invited us up this weekend, we said we’d see how you seemed before we made any final decisions.” Nancy tucked a strand of hair behind her daughter’s ear. “And what we found was this strong, independent woman who isn’t likely to come running home to her parents any time soon. You’ve grown up on us sometime in the last year or two. I feel like I blinked and I missed it. You’re carving your own place in the world and we’re happy for you.”

“So, to celebrate, you’re moving?”

Nancy chuckled. “Not like that exactly. We just want a smaller place for the two of us. We lived there so long, chained to the restaurant, and we want a break. I want to be able to travel before I’m too old to enjoy it. And that’s why we’re selling half of the restaurant.”

“You’re selling…” Liz trailed off. Her whole world was spiraling out of control.

“It’s okay, Liz.,” Nancy explained when she saw the horrified look on Liz’s face. “None of your stuff is going to be touched. Your father worked it all out. Amy Deluca is buying forty nine percent of the business. And we’re keeping the rest for you one day. We’re not kicking you out of the house or anything. And if you want to keep the Crashdown, it’s yours. Amy knows that. She just happened to be looking for a business venture and your father and I want some more time to ourselves.” The initial horror had faded, but shock still clouded her eyes. “We’re not leaving Roswell or anything. We’re just finding a place of our own. We don’t need all that space.” Nancy patted her hand, sure Liz would be fine once she’d had time to think it through. She picked up her coffee and sipped it again.

“Is there anything else you want to tell me? You and Dad aren’t getting divorced? Moving to Egypt? Anything?”

“No, I think that about covered it. Oh, and I brought some of your grandmother’s things I thought you would want. Actually, it’s an old box from her travels. I didn’t know what to do with some of it, but I couldn’t bring myself to throw them away. Besides, you always did understand her better than I did. Maybe some of it will make more sense to you.”

Liz shook her head, trying to clear some of the confusion away. “Yeah, I’d like that. I don’t have anything of hers.”

The waiter appeared at their side, sensing that their conversation had reached a stopping point. Liz listened as her mother rattled off their orders, but her mind kept wandering back to what her mother had said about her adoption. The words replied themselves over and over in her mind, but she didn’t come up with anything more concrete.

All she knew for certain was that her mother didn’t know anything more, and she doubted her father did either. Phillip Evans might know something, but in order to find it out, she would have to contact Max’s father. And she wasn’t sure if she could do that yet.

Why would Claudia Parker appear on her daughter’s doorstep with a baby and never tell anyone where she had gotten it from? Could her grandmother have been involved with black market dealings? It didn’t seem likely, but then none of this fit her grandmothers’ personality.

She would have to sit down with this information and put it on paper. Maria used to tell her that she couldn’t think clearly until her thoughts were organized and she’d constructed a pie chart. She would come up with leads and she would figure out why she had this burning desire to know the truth. After all, wasn’t that why she had left Roswell? To discover who she was? She wasn’t interested in finding her birth parents and meeting them. And she wasn’t even sure if that was a possibility from what her mother said. But she was interested in finding the answer to why no one seemed to know where she came from. And she had a feeling the best place to start would be the box of her grandmother’s things that her mother had brought. Somehow she knew it would hold the key to all the answers she needed. It would only be a matter of time before she found them.

posted on 18-Dec-2001 10:05:07 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [email] Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to R for language mostly
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Bump and you shall receive.

Thanks for all of your wonderful feedback. My computer ate the first half of this and I spent the morning trying to retrieve it. So, to make it up to you, this part is extra long.

Finding Yourself
Part 55

“Good Morning. Welcome to the Crashdown Café. My name is Maria and I’ll be your server. Would you like to try the Martian omelet?” Maria chirped cheerfully to her new table of customers.

“Maria, it’s us. What’s with the routine?”

After a careful glance over her shoulder, Maria let her cheerful façade slip. “When Mr. Parker left town, he put Rosalee in charge. Why he would do that I don’t even know. Don’t even get me started on that! But the girl’s power tripping and she thought it would increase business if we were a bit more…cheerful when we read the specials.”

“Well, it made me want the omelet. So, count me in.” Michael closed his menu and managed to smile at his girlfriend. Since her conversation with Liz, Maria had been more relaxed and happier. Plus, he had managed to get through the sweater incident without losing any body parts. So, he figured he owed Liz one the next time he saw her. But that hadn’t stopped him from trying to be a bit nicer to Maria. He was even willing to let Isabel help him set up a surprise for her.

Maria returned his grin and jotted down his order. “Okay, that’s one Martian omelet. What about you guys?”

Habitually, Max checked his watch.

“Give it a rest, Max. You still have an hour and twenty three minutes before the nurses will even let you into the hospital wing. I swear they have your picture up in the lounge with a warning to keep an eye on you. You have time for breakfast.” Isabel examined the new menu carefully. “I’ll have the omelet and so will Max.”

“One hour and twenty two minutes, but who’s counting?” Max forced himself to relax when his sister threw a wadded up napkin at him playfully. He knew he’d been taking life a bit too seriously lately, and he was trying to sit back and just enjoy the calm that had enveloped the group.

“Alright, I’ll be back with your order in a minute.” Maria sauntered off, pausing a moment to check in with another table. A song in her heart, she joked for a second with the guy sitting at table two. Snippets of her conversation with Liz still rang through her memory. They’d talked for hours about nothing and yet everything. Liz had told her about picking up photography again and about living with Kyle and Mel. And though her heart still clenched at the mention of Mel’s name, she had listened. Liz had regaled her with stories about Kyle and Mel and the two girls had secretly agreed that something was brewing.

It had been good to hear her voice again. It had felt as though the world were crashing down on her after her oldest friend had disappeared and she had never felt more lonely. But on the day she had woken u p and realized that Liz had been living in that state for countless months, she had felt ashamed of herself. From that moment on, things had changed. And now, she was glad to hear from her friend and to know that she was happy again.

She had wanted nothing more than to tell her everything that had happened with Tess and the Granolith, but knew Liz wouldn’t want to hear the information. It was, after all, why she had left, to distance herself from it all. Maria had thought briefly about telling Liz about Ana and everything Max had been going through, but something had held her back. Maybe it was the hope that Max would have the chance to tell her himself one day, but she had held her tongue.

Michael watched her laugh lightly with one of her customers and the sound thrilled him. It wasn’t the half-laugh she’d been trying to fool them with for so long, but a deep chuckle. And if he hadn’t already fallen head over heels in love with her years ago, that moment would have done it for him. Needing to capture that moment, he excused himself from the table when he saw her deliver the order and then head in the direction of the break room.

Isabel saw the look in Michael’s eye and called out after him. “Michael, don’t keep her too busy! I want breakfast sometime this morning!” She sighed and turned back to Max. “When did he turn into a love sick puppy dog?”

“About the time I turned into an arrogant ass.” He met his sister’s cautious eyes and grinned. “It’s okay to talk about it, you know.” He’d been wanting to bring this up with his sister for awhile now. “We’ve tiptoed around it ever since Liz left. And I know I worried all of you for awhile. And then with Ana, and not knowing if she was going to live…I know you’ve been worried I was going to go off the deep end. But you don’t have to. I still have a long way to go, but I won’t break if you decide to yell at me or throw an occasional insult my way. You’ve been bottling them up for so long, I’m sure you’ve got some good ones saved up.”

“Only one or two.” A weight was lifted off Isabel’s shoulders. She had been handling him with kid gloves. It was nice to know she didn’t have to all the time. “And just so you know, having your permission to use them doesn’t take any of the joy away…your Highness.” Her lips twisted in humor, knowing he would bristle at the title.

“Ha ha.”

The bell over the front door rang cheerfully and Max had a clear view of the Parkers’ entrance. They were laden with suitcases and bags, but the smile on their faces was enough to light up the room. Automatically, he rose to help them with their bags.

“Thank you, Max.” Nancy flashed him a smile as he took the bag that hung from her shoulder. “Boy, it’s a relief to be rid of that one.”

“Where do you want these?” He asked, trying to ignore the stab of guilt he felt every time he saw the Parkers.

“Upstairs will be fine, Max,” Jeff answered.

Hearing the noise, Maria pushed through the break room doors, busily adjusting her apron. “Hi! Did you just get back into town?”

Michael followed her into the restaurant, mildly annoyed at having been interrupted. But he supposed it was better to stop than to have his boss catch him making out in the back room with one of his on duty waitresses. “Hey. Did you guys have a good trip?” He followed the caravan up the stairs and into the apartment.

“Just put those anywhere, boys.” Nancy dropped her own load, then turned a beaming smile on her daughter’s friends. “We had a fabulous time. I’d forgotten what snow looked like, it’s been so long since we went skiing.”

“You went skiing?” Maria’s head popped up. Jim had gone skiing too. And she knew for a fact that he’d gone to see Liz and Kyle.

Nancy met eyes with Jeff before answering. “Yes, and to answer your next question, Maria, yes, we saw Liz.” The smile that had permanently creased her face returned. “She looks so good! She cut her hair and even though Jeff thinks I’m crazy, I think she grew another inch.” Nancy couldn’t stop gushing, her whole demeanor changing when she thought of her strong-willed daughter.

Isabel shifted closer to Max, noticing that he had become rigid when Liz’s name had been mentioned. In a gesture of support, she laid a hand on his arm. Surprised, Max turned to see his sister looking at him with concern in her eyes. He immediately snapped out of the trance he’d been sucked into. Sooner or later, he was going to have to face Liz and know how she was doing. And he would have to do it without rushing to her side immediatly.

“So she’s…okay?” Max heard the words come out of his mouth, and he fought against asking the thousand other questions that threatened to follow. But first and foremost was the question at hand.

Nancy spared a pitying look at Max. She and Jeff knew that Liz’s decision to leave and the secrets she kept had something to do with this boy. But they’d decided that as long as their baby was safe and happy, they wouldn’t pass judgement on things they didn’t really understand. And Nancy had seen the way he had suffered after Liz had left. And there had been enough suffering to last a lifetime.

Max watched as Nancy reached out a hand to grip his arm. “She’s good, Max. She’s happy and full of life and we all had such a wonderful time. Oh, we brought our video camera. Do you want to see?”

Maria all but leapt forward. “Yes! You brought your camera?” She turned to Michael. “That means they probably filmed every single minute,” she teased.

“Well, not every minute, but close.” Jeff was already pulling the camera from its bag and moved to the television with a jumble of cords. “Just give me a minute to get these things hooked up just right.” He struggled with the wires, attempting to connect them. The television screen went from blue to black and he stopped his struggles. “There we go.”

“Come, sit.” Nancy urged them all onto the couch while Jeff pressed the play button on the camera.

Max felt an uneasiness settle in his stomach, butterflies that he hadn’t felt since his days before Liz. Then the television jumped to life and they were assaulted with images of snow.

“This is the resort we all stayed in. Liz’s friend got us all a wonderful deal on the place.”

Max watched as the camera panned around the exterior of the resort, finally coming to rest on Nancy’s smiling face. But beneath the smile, he could see nerves. This must have been before they saw Liz. Nancy was rattling on about the snow lifts and the skiers, but Max wasn’t listening. The camera flashed, changing images and now it was Liz’s smiling face that filled the television screen.

And in that moment, Max felt his heart stop beating.

Liz turned, laughing at something outside of their vision. She disappeared suddenly and when she returned, she was dragging Kyle with her. She had thrown her arm around his shoulders and was pressing her cheek close to his.

“Liz, cut it out. I don’t want to be a part of the Parker film vault.” On screen, Kyle tried to shake Liz loose, but she wouldn’t have any of it.

“They want a Christmas picture. Now, hold still a minute before I have Mel tackle you. Okay, Dad. Now.”

There was a flash and Max figured that Jeff had been standing behind Nancy with a camera.

Kyle immediately shook Liz off him. “Okay, I’m done here. Can we open presents now?”

“No, you’re not, son. I want one with you and Mel.” Jim’s booming voice of authority rang through the speakers and they watched Kyle grimace. “Dad, I thought you promised no more picture taking today.”

“I lied. Now, go get together on the couch.”

“Oh no. That couch is not big enough for the three of us and I am not snuggling with Slick here.” The camera panned until it rested on a girl with flowing auburn curls. She stood defensively, arms crossed over her chest.

Maria recognized the girl instantly from being in Jim’s Thanksgiving pictures. Mel. She felt the familiar twinge of jealousy, but she beat it back. Liz looked happier than she’d been in ages and that was what mattered.

“You know your secret desire is to snuggle with me.” Kyle lunged into view, grabbing Mel in a headlock.

“In your dreams, Tiger.” She maneuvered quickly, slipping from his grip and sending Kyle sprawling to the floor.

“This could get bloody. Maybe we should open presents now,” Liz suggested to the adults in the room.

“Give up?” Mel asked, bending Kyle’s arm behind his back. She was sitting on him, one knee pressed into his spine.

“Never! I’m just getting my second wind!”

“Opening presents now!” Liz announced. “Oh, look. Kyle, this one is for you. And Mel, it looks like Santa brought you something as well.”

“A present for me?” Mel released her grip on Kyle and moved to the overflowing Christmas tree.

The group watched as Christmas unfolded before them. Instead of taking turns opening presents, there was mass chaos as everyone ripped into their boxes together. Liz and Mel had taken up residence on the floor and the others looked on as they tried to stick their bows on Kyle’s head. He protested, but laughing all the while.

Max watched the easiness between the group with a hint of sadness. He refused to let the emotion consume him, soaking up every gesture Liz made to review it later. She was happy. He had broken her heart and destroyed the life that lived inside of her and she had moved on and prospered. It just proved what he had always known about Liz Parker. She was the strongest of them all.

Maria watched the screen as Kyle traded uneasy glances with Mel. Mel nodded and pulled a hidden gift from behind the couch. She slid it towards Kyle and he handed it to Liz with a grin.

“What’s this? Another present? Kyle-“

“Oh, quit your yapping. Kyle and I bought it for you together. So, open it up already.”

Liz frowned in thought, then pulled at the bright green paper. Her gasp filled the room and she turned watery eyes to Kyle and Mel. “You didn’t! Guys, this is too expensive.” She pulled the camera box from the wrapping paper carnage and turned it over carefully.

“Nonsense. Like we didn’t spend a lot of money on Mel together.”

“And we both went in on that present for Kyle,” Mel piped up, looking at Kyle. “You spent a lot of money on me?”

“You spent a lot of money on me?” Kyle asked Mel. With mischief in their eyes, they both dove for the tree, looking for their names.

Mel sat back triumphantly with a large, rectangular box. Not bothering to shake the contents for clues, she ripped into the box. “Oh my god. You bought me the jacket! Thank you thank you thank you!” She flung herself at Liz, who had enough foresight to move her camera aside.

“Hey, I bought half of it. Where’s my hug?”

Mel snorted at him, but grinned, running her hands over the supple leather of the trench coat. “I don’t like it that much.”

“Okay, you guys get boxes and I get an envelope?” Kyle turned the envelope over in his hands. Curiosity getting the better of him, he ripped into the envelope, jaw dropping open in shock. “No way. You bought me tickets to the opening basketball game at ENMU?”

“I know you and your dad go every year. It’s a fine, family tradition, I’ve been told. So, we thought we’d throw in a plane ticket too.”

Isabel watched as Kyle threw himself at Liz, then at Mel. They hugged and she felt a stab of jealousy. She used to be Kyle’s friend. And while the logical part of her brain told her she had ruined that friendship herself, it still hurt. They used to all be such a close knit team. What they had become hurt more than she ever imagined it could.

Beside her, Max had yet to move. His eyes were boring holes into the television screen but she wasn’t worried about him flipping out after watching the home videos. Maybe it was good for him to see that she was okay.

Michael pulled Maria closer against his chest as the rest of the videos played out before them. Christmas ended only to be followed by dinners and skiing lessons with Liz and Mel. Maria laughed as she caught a glimpse of Kyle’s scowl when the ski instructor tried to show the girls a few moves. He kept interrupting their lessons and an inevitable argument with Mel ensued. Despite the situation, Maria found liking Mel more and more. The girl had spunk and she could bring Kyle Valenti to his knees without hesitation. And that took talent.

They watched as a snowball fight broke out, led by Jim and Mel. It was hard to tell which side won in the end, since they were all wet and covered in snow. Then the images shifted back to the ski slopes and Maria was surprised to find two figures racing down the slopes. She recognized Kyle right away by the blue snowsuit she’d helped Jim pick out for him. And after a minute of watching, she realized Mel was the other figure. Apparently, the lessons had paid off.

“They competed all afternoon.” Nancy explained as they watched the two zip down the slope. “Liz was telling me that Mel stayed up every night trying to learn so she could show up Kyle.”

“That’s funny,” Maria agreed. If there was anything she could understand it was a fierce competitive streak. And she began to see what Liz had been trying to tell her on the phone. Kyle was softening, just a bit around the edges, but he was softening. And it was all because of Mel.

“Oh, this is the best part!” Jeff announced, snickering. He might have been a bit apprehensive about his daughter living with Kyle Valenti, but after watching the video, he hadn’t been worried about anything inappropriate happening. “It was really Jim’s idea though. We set up the video camera on a timer in their room and didn’t tell them. I don’t think Jim believed Kyle when he said nothing romantic was happening between Kyle and Liz. Especially with them living together.”

“Oh?” Max spoke up for the first time, keeping an eye on the television. Liz was standing in the snow, the wind whipping her hair around her face as she laughed with her father. The image was so captivating, he almost missed what Jeff had said. Almost.

“They’re living together?”

“All three of them actually,” Maria joined in, then looked guilty. “She, uh, called me on Christmas,” she explained.

Max considered the information, rolled it around in his head. Liz was living with Kyle. The image of her in bed with her ex-boyfriend came to mind before he could stop it. But he brushed it aside just as quickly. He knew now the whole thing had been a set up. Liz hadn’t betrayed him, but he had betrayed her. But the image of that night was still burned into his memory.

Besides, even if she was involved with Kyle now, it wasn’t any of his business. Liz had left Roswell behind and hadn’t asked him to wait for her. In fact, he had encouraged him to move on and live his life. Just as she was now doing. And by the looks of it, whatever she was doing was making her ridiculously happy. And if Kyle, or this new girl, Mel gave her a reason to smile, then he hoped she stayed where she was and never set eyes on him again. Because no one deserved more happiness than she did.

The image on the screen blackened and Maria struggled to take in the surroundings. There was a rustling sound and though they couldn’t see anything, three voices carried through the video camera.

“Ow! Who was that?”

“Me, Mel. Now, quit moving, Kyle. I’m trying to get comfortable.”

“Well, I think you’d be a bit more comfortable if you’d stay off my side of the bed.”

“Well, mine’s all lumpy.”

“That could be because you’ve been lying on my arm all night.”

“Sorry, Liz. Here, let me-“

“Ow! Quit moving! You just hit me.”

“Okay, somebody needs to cut their toenails.”

“I think you broke my nose.”

“Quit being such a whining girl, Kyle.”

“You guys, I’m trying to sleep here. Can you knock it off?”

“It’s no use. I can’t get comfortable with the two of you suffocating me. I want out of the middle.”

“Forget it, Mel. You steal covers. At least in the middle, Liz and I have a chance of staying warm.”

“Warm? I’m dying.”

“Well, do you think you’re wearing enough clothes? What do you have on, like three layers?”

“I just wanted to make sure Slick here doesn’t have roaming hands.”

“Fat chance of that happening. I think the smell of your face cream is enough to knock me out if I come too close.”

There was a silence on the tape, then Liz’s voice rang out.

“Uh, Mel, that had better be your hand because if not, Kyle is going to have a hard time playing football this season.”

“Sorry, I thought you were the pillow.”

“I’m trying real hard not to take offense to that.”

“Wait, how did you think Liz was the pillow? Where was you hand anyway?”

“No place you’ll ever see.”

Maria was snorting with laughter as the conversation continued. Even through the pain of missing her two friends, she laughed with them. Maybe things had worked out for the best after all. It wasn’t an ideal situation, but they seemed to be getting along better then she could have imagined they could. Kyle might be an irritating ass, but she loved him like a brother. And when the chips were down, you could always count on him to be there. And that was something none of them had been able to do for her. It had been a painful journey to come to that conclusion, but it helped to know the truth. She smiled as the beginnings of a pillow fight rang out. Yes, it was looking like they might all be okay after all.

posted on 18-Dec-2001 10:05:45 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [email] Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to R for language mostly
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Two whole parts in two days? Is the world spinning off it's axis? Thanks for all your wonderful feedback. But I've got to eat lunch now. I starved myself for you people to get this out before lunchtime or it wouldn't happen. *happy* So, I hope you like it.

Finding Yourself
Part 56

“So, you gonna open that box or just stare at it till the end of time?” Mel threw herself on the living room couch, finishing the last of her sandwich.

Liz sighed, but continued to stare at the box. How could she explain that she was afraid to find out what was inside? Something inside of her was whispering, clawing to be known. And over and over again, Alex’s words chanted in her head, words spoken to a sobbing girl on the cemetery floor.

There is still a lot you don’t know about yourself, about who you are. Your next decision will determine if those truths stay hidden or if they surface.

Mel shrugged when Liz remained quiet. What could possibly be in the box that would be so bad? “Well, I’m off then. I’ve got the Rickman wedding in a few hours and I still have errands to run. You sure you don't want to come? They’re paying me twice what I would have asked for.

“Hmm? No, but thanks anyway.”

“Suit yourself.” Mel stood and retrieved her new coat from the closet. As always, she reveled in the feel of the soft leather and it gave her a quick thrill. No one had ever bought her a Christmas present before and the gesture more than the gift stirred places in her heart she’d never known.

Liz heard Mel slip out the door, but her attention remained focused on the box. Why had it mesmerized her from the start? What could her grandmother have kept hidden away the way her mother told her it had been? After Claudia’s death, Nancy had cleaned out her house and had discovered the items hidden in a safe they hadn’t even known she’d owned. But from her mother’s story, the items were nondescript, nothing that would warrant the precautions she’d taken.

“Mel already gone?”


Kyle paused, watching Liz. “You okay?”

“Uh huh.”

Having known her his whole life, Kyle knew when she wasn’t paying attention to him. “Okay, sure. So, do you want to have crazy monkey sex here on the couch?”


“Have I ever told you that I’m really an evil alien bent of enslaving the planet and turning all the women into my love slaves?”


“Want to hear the story about the Oscar I won last year?”

“Uh huh.”

“And how about the Grammy for the Country song I wrote?”

“That’s great.”


Liz snapped out of her daze when Kyle snapped his fingers in front of her face. When had he come into the room? “What?” She’d almost reached the point where she could make sense of everything going on around her.

“You’re not listening to me.”

“Yes, I was. You were talking about…uh…wait a minute. I know this. It was either Mel or football, right?”

“Are you okay, really? You’ve been acting wiggy since we got back.” Kyle took a seat on the couch beside her.

Liz blew out a deep breath. “No. I’m just thinking to hard.” She reached up to rub at her temples, frustration seeping in. “Why? Did you need something?” Kyle had the same look on his face he’d been wearing for weeks now. He had something he wanted to say and she wasn’t sure if she was going to like it if he’d had to think about it for so long.

“Uh, no. Not really. Just looking for a hot babe to hang out with for the evening. You free?” He placed an arm around her shoulders and forced the words back. Now wasn’t the time to tell her. She was freaked out about something. “What’s up with you and the box? I thought you were opening it last night?”

“I don’t know, Kyle. I can’t explain it. There’s this huge secret my grandmother was keeping and I’m afraid the answers are in this box.”

“Okay, this is one of those occasions where I’ve missed a conversation or two. Since when did you grandmother keep big secrets?”

“Since she the day she brought me to my parents doorstep.” Liz raised her eyes to meet her friends’. She needed someone’s help on this. “Kyle, I was adopted.”

“Whoa.” Whatever Kyle had been expecting, it certainly hadn’t been that. “Since when? You never said anything before.”

“It was in Mom’s letter. They thought I’d found out and it was part of the reason why I ran away.” Liz dropped her head into her hands. She could at least be thankful that she had smoothed over the edges of guilt and uncertainty with her mother.

Kyle let the information sink in. And something began clicking in his brain. But now definitely wasn’t the time. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine. The funny thing about this is that I haven’t broken down or had this blinding moment of clarity where I had to go on a quest to find my birth parents. Because I know somehow that I won’t find them.” And this sudden insight frightened her as well.

“So, how does your grandmother fit into this?” Kyle was trying to put the pieces together, and it was settling heavily in his stomach.

“She brought me to my parents’ doorstep, quite illegally I’ve been told. When Mom and Dad asked where I’d come from, she wouldn’t answer. She just said that I didn’t have any family to take care of me. So, they hired a lawyer to help them around the legal system to adopt me.”

Kyle nodded. “Okay, so what do you want to do? Because I know you, and you hate puzzles. You don’t want to find your birth parents, so what then?”

“I want to know why no one knows where I came from.” Liz forced her eyes to meet Kyle.

“You’re sure your parents don’t know anything else?” When Liz only nodded, he continued. “Then we start with the lawyer. He had to have some basic knowledge to pull off an illegal adoption. Surely they ran searches in hospitals and missing persons reports. Maybe we can get our hands on that and skip all the legwork. Did your mother tell you who their lawyer was?”

Liz turned a wry grin on him. “Phillip Evans.”

“No.” Kyle turned his blank stare to the wall. “Well, that certainly complicates things.”

“It’s kind of funny really.” The giggle came out of nowhere, but once it had started, she found that she couldn’t contain them.

Kyle glanced at her, sure she’d finally gone crazy. “Well, I always thought I’d be the one that pushed you over the edge. It’s kind of disappointing really.”

“I don’t know what to do, Kyle.” Liz laid her head against his arm. She felt better now that she’d told someone about it, and better still because she knew she could trust Kyle to help her.

“Do you want me to call Max’s dad for you? I can tell him what’s going on and see what he can send me.”

Liz considered it, knew it would be easier all around to let Kyle handle Phillip Evans for her. But she found herself shaking her head. “No. I need to call him. I’m not sure why, but I think I need to do this myself.”

“You know you’re not alone though, right?” He squeezed her shoulders tight.

“I know if I get in trouble, you’ll come slay the big, bad dragons for me.”

“So, you gonna open that box or what? The suspense is killing me now.”

“Yeah. I guess so.” She slipped off the couch and pulled the lid off. Slowly, she began pulling the items, dusty relics that were hidden away.

Kyle watched Liz pull an array of items from the box. There were several books Claudia had written and photographed on a variety of subjects ranging from the Egyptian pyramids to Stonehenge, to Indian reservations and their practices. Several of the items looked like they had been tools of some sort, but he had no way of guessing when. They could have been items from the days of dinosaurs and cavemen for all he knew.

The box seemed to be an endless stream of artifacts she had collected from her days of traveling the world. Liz was able to pinpoint the origin of some, recognizing the Egyptian markings on one in particular. A small wooden box lay on the bottom and she pulled it out carefully.

“She put a box in a box?”

“It’s a puzzle box. She bought me one when I was a little girl. She told me to keep my most valued and treasured things in it.” She shook the box lightly and was surprised when she heard a rattling. “There’s something inside.”

“So, open it.”

Liz turned the box every way, looking for a spring to open the nondescript box, but she couldn’t find anything. There didn’t seem to be any way to open it. “That’s strange. There must be some sort of trick to it.” She frowned, but put the box aside. She would figure out a way to open it. But for now, there were still items to be unpacked.

Liz reached inside and pulled out the final item protectively wrapped in paper. “It’s her journal.” She recognized the weight and feel of it anywhere. She could hardly believe it. Why hadn’t her mother told her there was a journal inside? She hastily began pulling the wrapping off.

“Wow, you two really were alike, weren’t you?” Kyle mused.

“She always used to write in this. And I would ask her what she wrote about. She would say they were tales of life and love and loss. I wanted one too, so I could be like her. And that next year she bought me my first journal. I kept it for years, not wanting to write in it. But after Max healed me, I knew it was why she had bought it for me. To write what I was feeling then.”

The paper came off and she was holding the old leather book in her hand. It was old and worn from use and exactly the way she remembered it. Nerves racing through her, she flipped it open expectantly. Then frowned in confusion. “It’s empty.”

“Well, that hardly seems like a prized possession.” Kyle was still picking through the items that had come out of the box. Claudia Parker had really gotten around the world.

Something was off with the journal, Liz could feel it. She flipped through the book quickly, but found nothing. Her grandmother used to tell Liz that she wrote in her journal whenever important events happened in her life. And yet, here was the very same journal Liz had seen her write in a hundred times, yet there was nothing there.

“Mom said that she couldn’t make sense of the items. I’m beginning to see why.”

“I’m sorry, Liz. I know you were hoping to find something in here. Maybe in the puzzle box?” He suggested hopefully. He hated to see the frustration in her eyes.

“Maybe,” she agreed. But the journal continued to draw her attention. She knew what she’d seen. And she’d seen her grandmother write in that book for hours at a time. There weren’t any ripped or torn pages. And another layer was added to the mystery that had become her life. She sighed, then placed the journal back in the paper that had protected it to carefully over the years.

“You want to order a pizza? I have a feeling we could be doing this forever.”

“I’m in.” Kyle let Liz order their dinner and he watched her carefully. He was beginning to form some theories, but he wanted to be sure of what he suspected before he brought them up to Liz. If any of what he suspected was correct, they were in for ever harder times than he thought.

posted on 18-Dec-2001 10:07:36 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [email] Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to R for language mostly
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

I guess it would help if I attached the actual story to the post. *shakes head* I'm really having that bad of a day. Oh, this first part is dedicated to Kira. *wink* She's one of the few Seuss kindred souls I have out there.

Finding Yourself
Part 57

"I learned there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind... But I've bought a big bat. I'm all ready, you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!"

“Maria!” Ana squealed, her attention divided between Max’s story and Maria’s presence in the doorway.

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt.” She apologized to Max. They’d looked so cozy, snuggled in bed with a Dr. Seuss book hat she hadn’t had the heart to disturb them. But she turned a brilliant smile on Ana. “And how are you feeling today, baby?”

“Great! Guess what, Maria. Dr. Connely came today and he said I can go home soon.”

Maria glanced at Max, confirming the good news. “Really? Sweetie, that’s terrific! No, it’s better than terrific, it’s stupenderificarously fantastical.”

Ana giggled at Maria’s words, and Max grinned at the easy banter between the two girls.

“She’s in perfect health. The doctors are baffled.”

“I’ll bet they are.” Maria tilted her head at Max in question. They’d had suspicions that Max had been “helping” Ana’s recovery, but he had been careful so far and since no mysterious silver handprints had turned up, they'd left him alone.

With a sheepish grin, he shrugged his shoulders. Why bother to deny that what she already knew?

Maria let the admission pass with a wry grin that promised they would talk later. Instead, she wandered around Ana’s corner of the Children’s ward, her eyes lighting on the box of chocolates by the window.

Ana watched her pry the lid open with excitement. “They’re not the good kind.”

Maria wrinkled her nose in agreement after a glance. “So, where’s the good stuff?”

“She ran out of those yesterday,” Max supplied.

Maria glanced at Ana again. “Ana, girlfriend?”

“They’re in the bottom drawer,” she whispered, not wanting the other children to hear where her secret stash was hidden.

“Hey. You told me they were all gone,” Max protested, amazed he was being left out of the newly formed girl group.

“You see, Max,” Maria began, rifling through Ana’s drawer for a piece of candy. “Women need chocolate in a very special way that men can never understand. Isn’t that right?”

When Ana nodded, Max shook his head in disbelief. “You’re corrupting a whole new generation now, huh?”

“And my work here is done,” she announced proudly. “So, why aren’t you at home getting all dolled up for tonight?”

“I could ask you the same question.” He’d hoped against hope they would have forgotten about him. But he should have known better. Maria became his shadow lately, making sure he got out and breathed in fresh air on a regular basis. But there was no way he could explain to her that he wasn’t in the mood to celebrate New Years.

“You could, but then you’d be changing the subject. You’re not ditching on us, are you, Maxwell?”

“I think you and Michael are spending an unhealthy amount of time together,” he mumbled. “Besides, I told Ana I was going to spend the night here.” All he really wanted was some time alone. Maybe he would drive out to the pod chamber. He hadn’t been there in months, not since they’d been trying to hunt down the Granolith.

“No, you didn’t. Nurse Jennie said you weren’t allowed back in tonight and she was going to sleep outside the door if she had to,” Ana offered cheerfully.

When Max glared at Ana, Maria tried her hardest to look stern, but it ended in a laugh. “Using small children as your alibi? I’m shocked and appalled.”

“So eight o’ clock then?”

“You got it.”

“What’s at eight?” Sara appeared at Maria’s elbow, bearing gifts for Ana. She leaned down for a kiss before turning her attention back to the grown ups.

Maria grinned broadly at the girl. “Perfect. You’ve just saved me a stop. Sara, you’re coming out with us tonight. We’re all meeting up and going downtown for the big street party.”

“And fireworks!” Ana added. “Max told me I could go next year if I was feeling better.”

“You absolutely can,” Maria agreed. “So, you’re coming then? Great. We’re meeting up at eight. Max can pick you up.”

“Maria, can I talk to you for a second?”

“That’s okay, Maria. Thank you anyway, but I was planning on staying home.”

Maria rolled her eyes at the pair of them. Max was panicking as if she were trying to set them up on a blind date. And Sara had this glimmer of excitement in her eyes before Max opened his big mouth and made her feel like she wasn’t wanted.

“Look, you two. Let’s just settle this here and now. I’m not trying to set you two up. Sara, in case you don’t already know, Max has vowed, and rightfully so, never to date again since he’s in love with my best friend. Max, you could use a few normal friends. You know, get out and not talk shop all the time. So, this is not a date, and now Max won’t feel like a fifth wheel when I tell him Isabel is bringing Mark.”

“Whoa. Isabel is going out with Mark? The cop?” Max’s overprotective streak kicked in.

“Max, trust that Isabel knows what she’s doing. There was a time when your dating Liz caused a bit of disapproval. Remember how much fun that was?” When Max had no answer, Maria clapped her hands together. “Great. It’s settled then. I’m so glad you’re coming, Sara. And I’m out of here. I have tons more stuff to do before the night is over. Ana, my love, you get some sleep and I’ll see you tomorrow.” She blew the little girl a kiss, which she eagerly caught. Then she skipped out the room.

A grin on her face, she headed for the elevators. Why did people still resist her? Didn’t they know it was useless? Alex used to call it “Maria Logic” and it had secretly pleased her. It would be good for Max and Sara to get out. Max needed some time away from the hospital. She was sure he would have moved in by now if he could have gotten away with it. And Sara, the poor girl had no friends over the age of ten that she knew of. She didn’t know much about her, but Colleen had mentioned that she had been home schooled most of her life. She was roughly the same age they were, but it was hard to tell. And maybe she could help keep Max in check when Isabel brought Mark.


Maria turned when she heard the familiar voice of Jim Valenti. “Sheriff. Hi.” She hugged him, genuinely glad to see him. “Where have you been hiding? We haven’t seen you around in awhile.”

“I’ve been around. Is everything okay?”

“Okay? Why wouldn’t it be-oh, you mean the hospital? We’re all fine. Just visiting a friend.”

“You have friends outside of the group?” Jim joked, but a bell was going off in his head.

“Very funny. So, how’s Kyle? The Parkers showed us the videos they filmed over Christmas,” she explained when he looked confused.

“Oh, well, he’s great. He’s got himself a job as an assistant coach at the middle school.” Jim grinned proudly just thinking about it. He’d been able to sit in on a few games when he’d visited at Thanksgiving.

“That sounds right up his alley.”

“So, who are you visiting? Anybody I know?”

Maria waved a hand in the air. “No, I don’t think so. Max has been volunteering at an orphanage and one of the little girls had a heart transplant right before Christmas.”

“Is she okay? That sounds serious.”

“She’s fine now. But between you and me and the wall, I think Max has been helping out in that department. Max is absolutely smitten with her. You should see them together,” she laughed. “I think they’re best of friends these days.”

Kyle’s words rang in Jim’s head. “You said she had the operation right before Christmas?”

Maria counted backwards. “Yeah, a couple of days before, I think.” She saw the expression on his face for the first time. “What’s up?”

“Nothing. Hey, let’s have lunch sometime this week. It’ll give us a chance to catch up. I’ve got to take a statement down the hall, so I don’t have a lot of time right now.”

“Go, official police business must be done. Tell Kyle and Liz I said hello next time you talk to them.”

“I will. And tell your mother I said hello.”

“I’m sure it would mean more if you told her yourself,” Maria couldn’t help herself. Making the Sheriff blush was far too easy.

“I’ll, uh, do that then.” Jim hurriedly escaped down the hall, automatically reaching for his cell phone. He punched in the numbers for Kyle’s apartment and listened to the phone ring. He swore when the answering machine picked up.

“Hi, you’ve reached Kyle, Liz and Mel.” Kyle’s rich voice traveled over the phone lines.

“We’re not in right now.” Liz’s voice informed him.

“This is so stupid. I’m not doing this.” Mel argued over the recording.

“Can you just for once do something as a team. Nobody has to know you’re not a lone wolf.”

“Well, at least I’m not a-“

A loud beep rang in Jim’s ear and he might have been amused if he wasn’t so concerned about what Kyle had told him over Christmas.

“Kyle, it’s your father. I need you to call me right away. It’s important.”

He hung up the phone and let his thoughts jumble together. Kyle had said Liz had dreamt of Max and it had seemed real. And in the dream, he had mentioned a sick friend. Somehow, Max had developed the ability to dreamwalk without knowing it. He didn’t believe for a minute that Max would visit Liz’s dreams on purpose. The boy really had changed these last few months, and if what Maria said was true, it had something to do with this orphanage.

But how would Liz react when she found out it really had been Max she had spoken to? She had left town to distance herself from Max and from his brief conversations with her, he was pretty sure she wasn’t quite ready to deal with him yet. Liz really was like a daughter to him and he didn’t want her to get hurt. But he couldn’t see how she could find out about this and not be.

With a glance at his watch, he wondered where they could possibly be.

posted on 19-Dec-2001 12:16:57 PM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [email] Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to R for language mostly
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author’s Note: This takes place after “Departure”. I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don’t know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker…

Finding Yourself
Part 58

Liz picked up the puzzle box that had become the bane of her existence since she had discovered it. The damn thing had no clasp, no trick spring, no hinges of any sort. It simply wasn’t possible to open it. Yet, somehow her grandmother had put something inside of it, something she was beginning to feel was of great importance to the older woman.

She and Kyle had settled down over pizza and had struggled to put all of the pieces they had together. Admittedly, it wasn’t a lot, but it wouldn’t be a mystery if the answers were merely lying around. She didn’t mind the work. She just hadn’t counted on it being so frustrating so fast.

Basically, all they knew was that Claudia had brought her to the Parkers, Phillip Evans had been asked to help them legalize the adoption but he had reservations. It hadn’t been until Claudia had spoken with him that he agreed. So, what had she said? Had she told Phillip where she was from? Was she some sort of illegitimate child, someone’s dirty secret? Maybe it was just her overactive imagination running wild, but some of Kyle’s more farfetched ideas didn’t seem so farfetched anymore. She knew he’d only been trying to inject his usual dose of humor into the situation, but it bothered her. Why didn’t anyone know she was adopted? Roswell wasn’t that big of a town.

Liz turned the puzzle box over in her hands again, absorbed in her own thoughts. She heard the phone ring and it took her a minute to remember she was the only one home. Biting back a swear, she jumped up and raced around the apartment for the phone. Kyle had used it that morning, but why he put things where he put them was something she had never figured out. She heard the machine pick up as she managed to trip over one of Kyle’s shoes.

“Kyle, it’s your father. I need you to call me right away. It’s important.”

The tone in Jim Valenti’s voice was one she knew well. She’d heard it dozens of times and it always meant trouble. Rubbing at her knee where it had struck a table, Liz spotted the phone peeking out from under Kyle’s bed. She made a grab for it and punched in Jim’s number.


“Jim? Hi, it’s Liz. Sorry I missed your call. What’s wrong?” Max immediately sprung to mind. Had something happened to him? Or maybe Maria? Hadn’t Alex told her Maria would need her help?

Jim paused, unsure how to handle the situation. “Liz. Hi. Is Kyle around?” He tried to keep his voice light. He was sure his message had sounded pretty dire, and he kicked himself for it.

“No, Mel roped him into going shopping with her. Is everything okay?” Why wouldn’t he answer her question?

“Yeah. Sorry to scare you. I just wanted to talk to Kyle about something. It’s, uh, about his favorite sports team I found out this morning.”

Liz frowned. “You’re sure?”

“Absolutely. So, what are you kids doing tonight? Nothing illegal, right?”

Despite herself, Liz smiled. “Well, first we were going to egg some houses, then maybe do a little light vandalizing. Then we were going to buy some street drugs and drink ourselves into a coma.”

“I think you’re spending too much time around Kyle.”

“You may be right. We’re going to a party. And don’t worry. I don’t think there’ll be any drinking, at least I know I won’t be.” Her last experience still left a bad taste in her mouth. “And I have a date.”

“Really?” Jim’s ears picked up and his paternal side kicked in again. “So soon? Are you sure you’re ready?”

“You know, you’re worse than Kyle is. Relax. It’s just a friendly thing. Kyle and Mel both have dates and I didn’t want to be the fifth wheel.”

“Well, just be careful. And if he tries anything funny-“

“I’ll give you a call.” And the fact that she could and he would come running to defend her honor gave her a warm feeling.

“Alright. I’ll let you go. Just have Kyle give me a call. But it can wait until tomorrow if you guys have to get going. Just be careful.”

“Yes, Dad,” she teased, then a thought hit her. “Oh, wait. Can I ask you a favor?”


“Can you get me Phillip Evan’s office number?”

“Sure, but why? What’s this about?” His police instincts were kicking in and they were telling him trouble was coming.

“I just need to talk to him about something.” Liz hesitated to drag him into the middle of this, but knew she would be needing him if Phillip didn’t know anything. “I know it seems strange, but I need to talk to Mr. Evans first. I promise I’ll tell you everything that’s going on. I just need to figure it out myself first.”

“Okay, Liz.” He rattled off the number to her and waited for her to jot it down. Kyle would know what was going on and if it were important, Kyle would convince Liz to tell him. So, he would trust them for now.

“Thanks, Jim. I know you’re going on faith here, and I appreciate it.”

“I’ll talk to you next week then. Bye, Liz.”

“Bye, Jim.”

Liz hung up the phone and carried it back into the living room where it belonged. She stared at the piece of paper in her hand and weighed her options. She could call Phillip Evans and get it over with. Eventually, she would have to speak with him.

Shaking herself out of her daze, she reached for the phone. Why was she afraid to talk to him? Just because he was Max’s father? That was ludicrous. She needed information and he had it. She punched in the first few numbers, cursing herself for reverting back to a coward. She’d vowed to develop a backbone and then she goes spineless.

The phone began ringing. Liz tapped her pen against the table. After the third ring, she began to think he wasn’t there. The front door opened behind her and Mel and Kyle came in the room arguing.

“I was not flirting with that guy.” Mel tossed her keys on the coffee table, stripping off her leather jacket.

“I’m sorry. Don’t I have two eyes? I think I was there. You were all over him. It was pretty disgusting.” Kyle began the process of dumping the bags he had been juggling.

“What’s it to you anyway?” She turned to glare at Kyle.

“That guy was a dog. If you’re going to embarrass yourself by hanging all over some guy, at least let him be worth your time.” Kyle returned her glare.

“Embarrass myself? Have you been hit in the head one too many times? I wasn’t even flirting with him. Now, if it was just my natural charm oozing through, then I can hardly help that.”

Kyle snorted at her answer. “Natural charm? Are you joking?”

Liz hung up the phone to intercede before blood was shed. “Okay, guys. Can we just back off a second?” Why did it always feel like she was playing referee with them?

“Finally, a voice of reason. Hey, Liz. We picked up that dress you wanted.”

“Great. The blue one, right?”

“You got it. I think it’s in the red bag by Retard-Boy’s feet.”

“Hey!” Kyle was trying to decide if he was offended, but he caught the ghost of a smirk on Mel’s face. Instead, he turned to Liz. “We didn’t interrupt, did we?” He gestured towards the phone.

“No.” But Kyle’s attention had been drawn to the table where her scrap of paper still sat. She wondered why she had the sudden ridiculous urge to run and snatch it away.

Kyle had spied the sheet of paper and something about the phone number on it caught his eye. “This is…” He trailed off, looking at Liz.

“Yeah.” What more could she say?

Kyle continued to watch her. She’d tried to call Mr. Evans? “Well?”

“No answer.”

“Excuse me. Is this one of those conversations that doesn’t involve me in any way?” Mel glanced back and forth between the two of them, minor irritation showing on her face. When neither of them answered, she began picking up the closest bags to her. “Fine. I’ll just disappear and you two can discuss who really shot Kennedy and the other top secret things you don’t want me to know about.”

Liz watched Mel storm away, and she sighed. “Kyle, this is dumb. I’m so tired of lying.”

Kyle saw the sadness in her eyes and as much as he wanted to tell her to leave Mel out of it, he really didn’t have a good reason. All he had were his suspicions and he wasn’t ready to tell Liz yet. And if telling Mel about her adoption would ease some of the guilt from lying about everything else, then so be it.

“So, tell her.”

“What?” Liz shot a glance at Kyle. “Are you crazy?” she hissed.

“Not about that.” Kyle shook his head. “About you. If you want her help, tell her. Otherwise she’ll get over it. She’s not exactly an open book herself. She’s just ticked at me.”

Liz shook her head. “No, I don’t think so. I never thought about it, but I guess we do exclude her from a lot.” She stood. “I’m going to go talk to her.”

“Good luck,” Kyle mumbled. “Hey,” he yelled at Liz’s back. “Are you going to call him back?”

“Tomorrow. I don’t think he’s in the office today.”

Kyle nodded. “You’re not a coward, you know.”

Liz didn’t even bother to act surprised. Kyle was getting better and better at reading her mind. “It helps to hear it.”

She knocked on Mel’s door. “Mel? I know you’re in there. Can I talk to you for a second?”

Mel swung her door open. “Look,” she let out a breath. “I didn’t mean to throw a temper tantrum out there. I just spent an hour at the mall with Valenti. My nerves are a little frazzled.”

“No, it’s okay. I owe you an apology. Kyle and I, we’re just used to keeping things to ourselves. In Roswell, we had this pretty exclusive group and I think I’m out of practice when it comes to trusting people. And I do trust you.” Liz took a seat on Mel’s bed.

“You know that Kyle and I have kind of shady backgrounds.”

Mel took a seat beside her, amazed she might actually find out something first hand instead of through overheard conversations. “I gathered that.”

“Yeah. Well, we have secrets that aren’t ours to tell. And if they got out, people we love would be in danger. I’m sorry I can’t tell you more than that.”

“Is that why you left Roswell?”

“Yes. It just got to be too much.” Liz tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “But that wasn’t what Kyle and I were talking about in the living room.” Liz picked up a screwdriver that was sitting on the bed beside her and began playing with it. “When Kyle came after me, my parents gave him a letter to give to me. It took me a long time to read it. But basically, they thought one of the reasons I left was because I was adopted.”

Mel waited for the rest that she was sure would come. “And?”

“And I didn’t know that.”

“Oh.” And then the last few weeks made a bit more sense. “So, they thought you knew and you really didn’t until you read the letter?” Mel thought about it. “Wow, that sucks.”

Liz chuckled. “I’ll say.”

“So, what was the thing in the living room about?”

“Basically, nobody knows where I came from. My grandmother brought me to my parents and she told something to the lawyer that I’m hoping can help me. I was trying to call him when you guys came home. I talked to my parents on Christmas and I didn’t even say anything to Kyle until last night. I didn’t mean to exclude you, but I guess it was just habit.”

“That and the boy knows how to pester you to death until you want to chew off your own arm to get away. I can see how you’d tell him.”

“Okay, that was a bit more graphic than I think was necessary, but it works.” Liz glanced at her friend. “So, we’re good?”

“We’re good. In fact, if you want my help, you’ve got it.”

“I was hoping you’d say that.” Liz smiled, feeling some of the burden lift off her shoulders. Maybe this wouldn’t be as hard as she’d feared. She would call Phillip Evans in the morning and in the meantime, they would go out tonight and have a good time. And she made a vow to herself that she would not mope or brood at all tonight. She would go out with Tag and have a perfectly normal evening if it killed her. For once, she would trust that everything would be fine.

posted on 28-Dec-2001 11:10:31 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [email] Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to R for language mostly
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author's Note: This takes place after "Departure". I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don't know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker.

Finding Yourself
Part 59

"So, tell me more about yourself, Mark." Max ignored the death glare his sister had been sending him for the last hour. If she was going to be crazy enough to bring a cop as her date, did she really expect him not to interrogate the guy?

"Max-" Isabel warned. "I think Mark has already told you enough of his life story. Don't you?"

"Don't worry about it, Isabel. I have three sisters. I'd do the same thing." Mark smiled warmly at her.

Max tried not to choke on his water. Instead, he turned a plastic smile to the man who thought he wanted to date his sister. "Great. So, you don't mind if I ask if you have a criminal record."

"Max!" Isabel turned a dozen shades of red, each one darker than the last. She sunk back in her chair, mortified. She'd really hoped her brother would be on his best behavior, but it looked as though he was going to be difficult.

Maria chuckled from the other side of the table. Max seemed to have developed a deep-set mistrust in the entire human population, especially the ones that were interested in dating Isabel. But Maria actually liked Mark. He seemed genuine and had been quite friendly, despite the interrogation Max had been putting him through since their meeting.

She relaxed against Michael's arms, absorbing the warmth of his body. Michael had even been on his best behavior, even though she knew he was dying to interrogate Mark himself. And she loved him all the more for it. And poor Sara. The girl had been sitting, virtually silent the entire time
they'd been there. And she had no one to blame but herself for that. Maria had hoped Sara's presence would at least keep Max's line of questioning down to friendly. But now she sat, all but ignored.

And she could hardly blame Max for it. His heart hadn't been in celebrating New Years to begin with. And she understood his reluctance. If she knew her friend, he was in full brood mode and the thought of starting the year without Liz didn't make him want to jump through hoops. But he seemed to be taking that frustration out on Mark. And while it made for an entertaining dinner show, Isabel was going to blow her top soon.

With a sigh of contentment, she let her attention waver long enough to take in the busy restaurant. She was glad she had made the reservation last month. The place was filled beyond capacity, the bar reaping the rewards of the crowded evening. They'd opened the restaurant a few months ago with the hopes of it becoming a new hot spot and it looked as though it had worked.

Her gaze flickered around the room, smiling as she made the occasional eye contact with someone. Faces melted together in the sea of strangers. So, when she found herself looking into the long familiar face from her childhood, her eyes widened in shock.

"Jesse?" Maria whispered, then repeated again, a bit louder.

Michael heard his girlfriend's whisper and something about the tone sounded wistful. He turned to follow her gaze and found a tall, dark haired man grinned madly at Maria. He quickly wound his way through the crowd even as Maria was pushing to her feet. They met in the middle in a crushing bear hug that stopped all conversation around the table.

"Maria Deluca. I can't believe it's you. You're stunning."

Maria fluffed out her hair dramatically. "Well, naturally. Look at you. You're not so bad looking yourself. God, it's been like five years."

Michael cleared his throat loudly. He sized up the man that still held his girlfriend in his arms, and Michael decided that he could take him. He was tall, but a bit on the scrawny side. As strong as the urge to pummel this guy was, something in him whispered that he looked familiar.

Maria turned her attention back to the table. "Oh, sorry. Jesse, I want you to meet everyone. This is Isabel and her date Mark, Max and Sara, and my boyfriend, Michael."

Jesse wiggled his eyebrows at Maria and she giggled.

Something was strange about the gesture. He could have sworn he'd seen it before. Then it hit him like a ton of bricks. The reason why this guy's gestures were so familiar was because they were Alex's.

"Guys, I want you to meet Jesse Whitman. He's Alex's brother."

Maria watched as that piece of information settled in. She expected and saw the guilt that flashed over Max's face. Isabel registered only sadness and Michael, surprisingly enough was smiling.

"I didn't even know Alex had a brother." Michael held out a hand now, realizing that he was a childhood friend, and not a threat.

"Well, I don't think they talked about me much. I'm sort of the family secret."

"Sit and tell me everything. Where have you been? Last I heard, you took off for Europe somewhere when you got the research grant." Maria snagged a chair from a nearby table and pushed Jesse into it.

"Six months in Milan, then I moved around a bit more. I ended up settling in Switzerland. I found a lab that offered me a sackful of money for my research. The only problem was that I couldn't leave until the study was done." Jesse made himself comfortable. He knew if he was intruding, Maria would tell him. She always was a straight shooter.

"So, what exactly do you do?" Max found his voice. He had to find a way past the guilt of Alex's death.

"I've been working on cancer research mainly. I go where the money takes me." Jesse took another look at Maria, amazed by the confident woman she'd grown up to be. "I can't get over how great you look. The last time I saw you, you and Liz and Alex were trying to come up with enough money to take some summer camp thing."

Maria rolled her eyes. "I don't even want to think about that. We washed cars and walked dogs for months. But we were determined to get out of Roswell for the summer."

"Where is Liz? Is she meeting you here?" Automatically, Jesse began looking around the restaurant for signs of Liz.

The group turned silent, not knowing what to say.

"What? Did I say something wrong?"

"No, it's just that Liz isn't here. She left town about six months ago. Things got to be just a little too much."

"You mean Alex's death?" Jesse's eyes clouded over, all traces of humor gone. "You don't know what it did to me not to be able to come home for his funeral. I tried doing everything I could. But by the time I found out, it was too late for me to catch a plane."

Maria laid a hand over his. "It was lovely. I looked for you, but your dad explained it when I asked. I'm sorry you couldn't come."

"Yeah." He forced the guilt and sadness away. "So, is Liz okay now? I can't imagine what you guys went though. For as long as I've known you, you guys were inseparable."

Maria felt Michael's arms come around her and she was grateful for the comfort. "I talked to her at Christmas and she's doing better. It was just a shock. But I know she'd be happy to know you thought about her. You know, she always did have that crush on you."

Jesse grinned at the thought. "Yeah, I kind of knew. For a month she followed me around wherever I went. And I was too cool for that back then."

"You crushed her," Maria joked. She'd accepted that there would always be this sliver of pain whenever she thought about Alex. But she wanted to be able to talk about their years together without losing it.

"So, Jesse, are you in town for long?" Michael interrupted. He wanted Maria to have some time to reminisce with Alex's brother, but there were a few people at the table who had never met Alex before.

"I haven't decided yet. ENMU is considering my proposal, so I may be sticking around indefinitely. We'll just have to see."

Maria's brain began working and she shifted gears easily. "Well, the town has changed quite a bit since you've been gone. You probably won't even recognize it. In fact, you might want to take a few days to get reacquainted. And I know the perfect person to help you out. Sara here knows this town like the back of her hand."

Sara choked on her soda and Max patted her lightly on the back. A smile crept up on him as he saw what Maria was trying to do.

"Me? Oh, I'm actually a bit busy-"

"Sara and her mother run a foster home just outside of town." Maria gushed, leaning towards Jesse. She knew he was a sucker for charities. He had almost as soft a heart as Alex's.

"Oh, really? Which one? I used to help out at a couple of places before I left town." Jesse turned his attention to the quiet redhead in the corner.

"The, uh, Hudson House." What was wrong with her? She wasn't usually this tongue tied around men. She had even been confident at one point. But ten minutes in this guys' presence and she was stammering.

"I've heard of that place. In fact, I think I met your mother a few times. She's a wonderful lady."

Maria grinned wildly as they began a conversation of their own. Michael leaned over to plant a kiss on her cheek. "You do good work."

"I try."

Mark decided to take advantage of the lapse in the former interrogation and turned to Isabel. She'd been fidgety since this long lost friend had sat down and he wanted to make her comfortable again. "Would you like to dance?"

"I'd love to." She didn't question how he knew she wanted to get away from the table and from Jesse, but she simply went with him. She wanted time to compose her thoughts before she spoke with Alex's brother.

Maria and Michael watched as Mark led Isabel out onto the dance floor. Max had gone back to glaring at the couple, but it was a half-hearted effort now.

Max listened to Jesse and Sara interact, but his mind was elsewhere. Liz had told him stories about Alex's older brother and how close he had been with Alex. Alex had been six when he’d moved to Roswell and though Jesse was older by five years, they two had been inseparable. Then Alex had befriended Liz and Maria and Jesse had made friends his own age. Now that he knew who the man was, he could see that the resemblance was striking. And it made his heart ache for the needless pain Alex had suffered through before he died.

He had no idea how much time had passed as he sat at the table. Maria had been gracious enough to leave him to his brooding and had gone off to dance with Michael. And at some point, Sara had timidly asked if it was all right for her to dance with Jesse. He had mumbled something at the time and off they had gone.

Now, Max sat alone at their table. The people around him had been fluttering around quicker and he figured it had to be close to midnight. Their happy voices carried over to him and it suddenly became too much. He didn't belong here with these happy people. He didn't have any great hopes
and dreams for the coming year. The only thing he had to hope for was seeing Liz again. But even that was a selfish hope. Because he'd been listening to the voice in the back of his head that told him Liz was better off wherever she was. The tape he'd seen of her playing in the snow, carefree and happy, reminded him of a time so long ago when words like destiny had just been words spoken in love stories. But they could never be that carefree again. And if he clung to the hope that they would be together again someday, he knew it would only happen if she were dragged back into his life. And that was what had destroyed her to begin with.

Max rose from the table, looking for the quickest exit out of the place. He grabbed his dinner jacket and headed against the crowd toward the fresh air. Michael and Maria would understand. Isabel and Mark would be glad to be rid of him and Sara was too busy with Jesse to really miss him. He jumped into his Jeep and sped out of the parking lot. All around him, couples walked
the street, laughing and counting down the time until they could ring in the New Year. And all Max knew was that he couldn't breath. Something was choking him, but he didn't know what.

He drove aimlessly, without purpose or direction. And when he pulled to a stop at a red light, he realized that he had arrived. Max swung the Jeep into the parking lot and set out across the damp earth. He was careful in his steps, stopping only when he saw the immortal words carved on the grave marker before him.

Alex Whitman

Beloved Son and Friend

Max sank to his knees in the grass and braced himself against the marker. The grass had grown high and there were several weeds that threatened to overtake the plot. Max made quick work of them, not satisfied until the Alex’s final resting place was once again tidy. It was only then that he allowed himself to sit back.

“Hey, Alex. I know I’m probably the last person you expected to see out here, and especially tonight, but I just had this feeling.” Max shrugged. “I’ve learned not to ignore gut instinct. If I’d done that, neither of us would be here right now.”

His gaze shifted to the edge of the plot where a hand gathered bouquet of wildflowers perched. “It looks like someone brought you flowers. And from the pink bow on them, I’d say it was Maria. She’s always doing goofy things the rest of us would never think of. I didn’t bring anything myself. But I will next time.”

Max paused, not sure what he wanted to say. “I don’t know where you are right now. I never believed in religion much before, but I’m beginning to wonder. Something tells me wherever you are, you’re watching us all. And I’m sure if you could have, you’d have kicked my ass over how I treated Liz. And I would have gladly let you. I guess what I’m saying, is if you can, keep an eye on Liz for me. I don’t know how I know, but I have this feeling that something’s coming. It’s this sense of anticipation I’ve been trying to ignore. But it’s getting stronger now. So, I don’t know what’s coming, but just watch out for her. And I’ll keep an eye on Maria for you.”

Weary, Max gave in to the emotion, dropping his head to his knee. The last few months had caught up with him and all he wanted to do now was crawl into bed and sleep for a week. Ana was going to be okay and with her health came a one way ticket out of Roswell. He’d tried to ignore that as well. But he knew the day was rapidly approaching.

“I miss her,” he whispered. “I just wish there was some way to tell her that. When she left, everything was so screwed up. I still thought the only way to save my son was to leave Earth. But now I know there never was a baby. And I wish I could tell her that I’m still here and whether or not she likes it, I’ll always love her. I may never see her again or if I do, she may not want anything to do with me. But between you and me, it’ll always be her. And if I ever get the chance, I’ll spend the rest of my life making it up to her. Because she deserves the best, even if it isn’t me.” Max scrubbed a hand over his head. “What am I doing? I’m sitting here talking to a grave marker. No offense, Alex. But I think I’ve finally lost it.”

Max rose from the ground, brushing off his pants. “I’ll come back, maybe plant some flowers in the spring. You could use a little bit of color around here and Maria’s thumb is far from green.” He thought of Liz again, wondered for the thousandth time where she was. “Just take care of her, Alex. She’s stubborn and she probably won’t let Kyle help her out. You know that better than I do.”

Max stuffed his hands in his pockets and set off slowly back towards the Jeep, wondering if he could indeed sneak into the hospital again.

Perched atop a grave marker, Alex let out a sigh. He hoped they were strong enough for the times that were coming. Liz at least had an idea. Max seemed to have a feeling, but the others were too hard to read. It seemed that he was going to have to keep a closer eye on everyone.

“You’re right, Max. Something is coming. But what will happen when it does?”

posted on 28-Dec-2001 11:10:56 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [email] Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to R for language mostly
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author's Note: This takes place after "Departure". I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don't know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker.

Finding Yourself
Part 60

“You are not wearing that out in public.” Kyle stood in Mel’s doorway, arms folded over his chest as he glared at her.

Mel glanced at the bathrobe she was wearing while she applied her makeup. “My bathrobe? You know, Slick, you say a lot of strange things, but I tend to agree with you on this one.”

“Not your bathrobe. I meant that…catsuit.” He pointed to where her newest clothing purchase hung on her closet door.

“First of all, don’t use your boy terms on any article of my clothing. Second, what business is it of yours?”

“I’ll tell you why it’s my business. If you go out tonight to an unchaparoned party with Greg, he’s going to get certain ideas in his head. And trust me, you don’t want to know what those ideas are.” He strode over to the closet and snatched the hanger off the door.

Fury lighting her steps, Mel followed him and snatched her outfit from his hand. “Maybe I already know what sort of ideas he has. And be assured that you will be the absolute last person I will come to for advice if I decide I don’t like Greg’s ideas.”

Kyle pulled at the hanger but Mel’s grip was too strong. “Maybe I’m just helping out a friend before she gets herself into trouble.”

Mel tugged on her end of the hanger, but Kyle held fast to his half. “Well, maybe I don’t want your help.”

“Maybe you need it.” Kyle gave one final tug with enough force behind it to pull Mel off balance. She stumbled forward, bracing herself against Kyle to prevent falling on her face.

Kyle reached out instinctively to grab her, but caught only a handful of her terrycloth robe. When Kyle saw her belt loosen, the logical part of his brain told him to look away. Instead, he found he could only stare as her robe parted and he was treated to an eyeful of Mel’s creamy skin. Horrified by the bold of blinding lust that sizzled in his body, he jumped back, dropping both Mel and her outfit to the floor.

Mel glared at him from the floor. “What the hell is wrong with you?” He pointed a shaky finger at her and when he continued to stare, open mouthed, she glanced down to find her robe open.

With a shake of her head, she stood up, careful to smooth down the wrinkles in her outfit. “What’s your deal, Tiger? You’ve never seen a bra before? Let me explain the basics to you then. I am a girl. I have girl parts, some of which I occasionally cover with this stretchy material us girls like to call a bra.” She snapped the bra snap of her leopard print bra, grateful tonight had been one of the rare occasions she’d chosen to actually wear one.

“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a date to get ready for. As do you, unless she came to her senses already.” Was that desire she saw gleaming in his eyes? God help her if she’d spent the last few months trying to convince him she wasn’t interested only to have him start anew after seeing no more skin than if she’d been wearing a bathing suit. That just wouldn’t do at all.

She dragged him to the open doorway to his bedroom and pushed him inside. “Goodbye.” And she slammed the door in his face.

Stunned speechless, Kyle continued to stand, slack jawed in the middle of his room a minute longer.

“Kyle? Is that you?” Liz popped her head into Kyle’s room from her doorway. “Great! I need your help.” Liz strode across the room and dragged him into hers.

“Okay, here’s the thing. I don’t know what to wear. Should I go with the blue or should I go with the black?”

Kyle shrugged, his senses slowly returning to him. “They both look the same to me. Just pick one.”

“Kyle! This is serious! I need to make a statement and how am I supposed to make a statement if I can’t even pick out a stupid dress?”

Kyle faced the fairly hysterical Liz that stood before him. “Okay, then wear the black.”

“What does the black dress say to you?” She held it up over her white bathrobe.

“Uh, it says ‘sophisticatedly sexy’. Actually, don’t wear that dress.”

“Kyle, I need you to not be a guy. I need you to be a girlfriend. Now, what does the blue dress say?”

He examined the dress thoughtfully. Both dresses were more than a bit more revealing than he would have chosen for her to wear, but both were decidedly less provocative than the catsuit Mel was planning to wear. “Well, that one, to me, says ‘Don’t touch me because I have an alien ex-boyfriend that can blast you with laser beam eyes’.”

“Kyle!” Liz protested, sinking to the bed in defeat. “I’m serious.”

Kyle took a seat beside her. “I know. Why? I thought tonight was supposed to be fun. Don’t you want to go?”

“Yes-No-I don’t know anymore.” She dropped her head in her hands. “Why do I feel like I’m betraying Max?”

This Kyle had been prepared for. He draped an arm around her shoulders. “Do you want to talk about it?”

“I know, logically, that Max and I aren’t together. But in my heart, Kyle…” she trailed off, tears pooling in her eyes.

“You know you can talk to me about Max, right? Just because I think he’s an egotistical bastard doesn’t mean you have to.”

Liz choked out a laugh, knowing it had been his intention. “I still love him, Kyle. There isn’t a day that I don’t think about him, and if he’s safe and healthy and happy. I feel this…pull towards him. And I know that no matter what I do with the rest of my life, it’ll all come back to him.”

“I thought you were still mad at him.” How could she not be?

“I am. But not the way I was. I’m angry that I could be forgotten so easily, that he could brush me aside. I’m angry that he believed that I would sleep with you and betray him, because deep down I didn’t ever think he would.”

“I don’t think I need to mention here that Max did sleep with Tess. Oh, look at that, I did mention it.”

Liz caught the bitterness in his voice and bled for Kyle. He had felt real emotions for Tess and she had convinced him that it was brotherly affection. It had been another mindwarp, another trick she had played on them. And her sleeping with Max had been a stake to the heart. “I know Max slept with Tess. And he’ll have a reminder of that everyday for the rest of his life.” Liz thought of the small child they had created, the child Max should be searching for still. And it made her want to cry for innocence lost. “But honestly, it’s not completely his fault.”

“Okay, you’re about to really piss me off, Liz. If the next words you were about to say were that their sleeping together is in someway your fault, then I don’t want to hear it.”

“I’m not saying it’s my fault. It’s something that was done. But I can’t lynch Max for it. Kyle, you saw his face when he found us in bed together. He was absolutely crushed. He was devastated. And whenever he looked at me after that, there was always a shadow in his mind. Even when he knew the truth, he still couldn’t get that image out of his mind. And honestly, if the situation had been reversed, if I had walked in on Max and Tess having sex, I don’t know what I would have done. But I don’t think I could have calmly walked away and tried to be friends later. Not back then. Not when we were so close to being together again.” Liz bowed her head. Just thinking about it made her want to crawl back into bed and simply give up. How could she ever be okay with it all? How could she ever go home again and not worry about her very presence making Max too weak to do what needed to be done?

“I’m angry about a lot of things.” Her voice was lower now, thick with unshed tears. “I’m angry he didn’t believe in me when your father wanted to say Alex killed himself. And I’m angry that despite it all, I still want to be with him.”

“Then why aren’t you?” Kyle watched her brush away angry tears. He didn’t pretend to know anything about her relationship with Max, but she was still hurting from everything that had happened.

“Because it’s crazy and it’s pointless. Despite everything we’ve been through, he doesn’t belong to me. It still boils down to the basic conclusion I came to when I heard their mother’s message. Max is part of a destiny. He has an entire race of people that depend on him. And when I’m around him, things get muddled. So, if I’m ever going to go back to Roswell, I need to find a way to be strong enough not to melt in his arms. I need to find a way to stop the end of the world from coming just because I can’t say no.”

Kyle met Liz’s eyes and realized exactly the kind of dilemmas she thought she had to face everyday. More than once, he’s wondered what it would take to live with the knowledge Liz lived with. And the wisdom and strength he saw in her eyes were a glimpse of something stronger inside. She just didn’t know it was there yet.

“I already think you’re the strongest person alive.” Kyle squeezed her shoulders. He wanted to lighten the mood. She deserved to go out and have fun. She deserved a night or two off from constantly worrying about ending the world with her actions. “And when the time comes, you’ll be ready. Because you’re Liz Parker, the girl that brought two races of beings together and made a family out of them. And one day you’ll go back. And you’ll be so amazingly strong and confident they won’t even recognize you. Now, if you can tackle time travel and interplanetary wars, then I think I can at least pick out a dress.” He examined the two again. “Are you sure you don’t want to go with a nice turtleneck?” When Liz only pursed her lips, Kyle picked up the black dress. “Then go with this one.”

Liz sprang up from the bed and immediately stripped out of her bathrobe.

“Liz! I’m still here, you know.” Kyle quickly averted his eyes, thankful when she pulled the dress from his hands. What was it with women stripping in front of him today? And why didn’t it happen more often?

“Not that I don’t appreciate the free peep show, but you couldn’t have felt that comfortable in my presence when we were actually dating to strip down to your underwear?”

Liz rolled her eyes as she slipped the fabric over her head. “If I can trust you with the innermost workings of my heart and my soul, I think I can trust you to not attack me in my underwear.”

Kyle sighed. “I think my sex appeal is slipping.”

posted on 28-Dec-2001 11:11:25 AM
Finding Yourself
Author: Cookieman aka Stacey
Email: [email] Cookieman123⊕
Category: M/L , but strong friendship themes with others L/K
Rating: PG 13 to R for language mostly
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a computer, some college debts and a vivid imagination
Author's Note: This takes place after "Departure". I know, I know, another Departure fic, right? Well, give me a try. The first few parts are trying to wrap up the mess left to us, so it might take me a few parts to get into it. In case you don't know yet, feedback makes me post far quicker.

Finding Yourself
Part 61

“Liz, you’ve got to help me.”

Liz and Mel had no sooner arrived at the New Years Eve party when Mel had grabbed Liz by the arm and dragged her into the bathroom.

“What’s wrong?” Liz asked when they were safely in the bathroom.

“This may come as a shock to you, but I don’t date much.”

Liz gave a sigh of relief that ended as a chuckle. That was her big dilemma?

“I’m glad this is fun for you,” Mel glared at Liz. This was serious.

“I’m sorry. But if it helps, I’m a bit nervous too.”

Mel waved away the implication. “I’m not nervous, I’m lost. And frankly, I wouldn’t mind being here alone.” After all, she was used to being alone. She’d spent her entire life just fine without feeling the need to date or keep a penpal in every state she’d lived in.

“So, why are you here with Greg then?”

Someone knocked on the bathroom door from the hallway and Mel threw her weight against it. “Go away!” She turned back to Liz. “Okay, well it’s this whole long story that I won’t bore you with. But basically, Kyle insinuated that I couldn’t get a date for tonight.”

“And naturally you had to prove him wrong.”

“Exactly. So, what I need you to do is help me out. What am I supposed to do on a date?”

“Oh, no. Trust me. I am absolutely the last person you want dating advice from.”

The pounding on the door became more insistent, but both girls ignored it. Mel continued to plead with her eyes and finally, Liz relented.

“Oh, all right. Just be yourself. I’m sure he’ll like the real you just fine.”

Mel twisted her lips into a wry grin. “Yeah, I’m sure he’ll be impressed to know that I can strip his car and put it back together again.”

“You can do that?” Liz asked, impressed.

“Let’s save that conversation for when we’re dating and I’m trying to impress you. For now, I need real help. I’m not looking for anything long term here. I just want him to not leave me before the night is over.”

Liz considered it. She knew somehow she would end up regretting her next advice, but she knew there was no way Mel was actually interested in Greg. He was one of the school’s biggest jock and completely opposite of Mel’s type, if she even had one. “Now, this is horrible, bad advice in any other situation, but I guess you should pretend to be interested in whatever he’s interested in.”

Mel thought about it. “Okay, he’s a complete moron, but I think I can suffer through a few hours of smiling and nodding as long as it wipes that all knowing smirk off his face.”

“That’s probably the most deranged thing I’ve ever heard you say. But I hope it works out for you. Can we go back to the party now?”

“Yeah, sure. How do I look?” Mel dashed to the mirror to fluff out her hair. She smoothed down the leather of the one piece pant suit. A catsuit Kyle had called it. It just showed what he knew. She’d worked hard to afford the outfit doing both photography and some mechanic work on the side. She didn’t mind it really. They were both things she loved. But she had treated herself and Kyle had the gall to insult it and by extension her.

With a smirk, she eyed the zipper that ran from her neck to her stomach. She pulled the zipper down a few inches, just enough to show a hint of the cleavage she usually didn’t give a second thought to. If Kyle wanted to glare at her all night, she might as well give him a reason to glare.

Liz watched Mel primp in front of the mirror and she grinned. Somehow, she didn’t think the extra effort was for the benefit of her date.

“He won’t know what hit him.” Liz stated, envisioning the look on Kyle’s face. All it would take for Kyle to snap Greg’s neck was one straying glance.

Together the two girls rejoined the party, locating their dates where they had left them.

“Hey,” Tag smiled when he saw Liz approach. “We were wondering if you two had gotten lost.”

“Almost. You didn’t tell me your parents’ house was so large.”

Tag shrugged. “It’s home. We just ran into Kyle and Chrissy. He said he was going to get drinks and they were coming right back.”

Mel grinned. “Really? Well then, let’s move on somewhere else.” If he thought he could issue demands, he had another thing coming. “Let’s dance,” she suggested to Greg.

“Sounds great.” Greg grabbed Mel by the arm and led her roughly to where the other couples were dancing on the makeshift dance floor.

“You want to join them?” Liz suggested. She couldn’t explain why, but there were butterflies in her stomach. Not to mention that sliver of guilt that was piercing her heart with every word.

“Anything you want.”

Tag smiled at her and she felt even guiltier. He really was trying to be nice and she felt like she was deceiving him as well. Kyle’s parting words before he’d left to pick up Chrissy ran through her head.

Just go out and have a good time. You don’t have to fall in love with the guy. The fate of the universe doesn’t have to sit on your shoulders all the time.

And she had realized Kyle had been right. She was still weighing her decisions in terms of global destruction. And it was time to stop. She was going to have fun if it killed her.


Mel slowed her dancing to a stop when the last song faded out. A quick glance at her watch told her she’d been dancing for well over an hour. Liz and Tag had joined them and they’d been having a grand time until Kyle and his disapproving chaperone glare had invaded. He’d dragged Chrissy on the dance floor and hadn’t let either her or Liz out of his sight since.

The highlight so far had been when Greg’s hands had begun to roam just a bit further than she cared for. But instead of treating him to her right hook, she had moved out of his reach. He probably figured her for a tease, and the very thought of his hands on her was enough to make her sick. But she was determined to show Kyle she could keep a date interested. So, when the last song had ended, she’d figured it was as good a time as any to take a break and cool off.

“Let’s grab something to drink and talk for awhile,” she suggested.

“Great idea. I hear there are free rooms upstairs.”

Mel swallowed the urge to laugh. “I was thinking more along the lines of sitting outside on the deck.”

“Hey guys. Great music, huh? So, what are we up to? Taking a break? Good idea. Mind if Chrissy and I join you?” Kyle’s voice was cheerful, but behind it was rigid steel. It had taken every ounce of self control he possessed not to strangle the life out of Greg. How could Mel not see the way he’d been looking at her all night? And when he’d seen them take a break, he knew Mel would kill him for it later, but he wanted to make sure he didn’t try anything stupid. Nobody messed with his Mel and got away with it.

“Actually, we were wanting some alone time.” Greg stated, one hand on Mel’s arm.

“We’d love some company,” Mel announced cheerfully the same time Greg spoke. She wasn’t actually worried about not being able to handle this goon, but she more wanted to show Kyle that she could keep a date interested.

“So, I’ll go get us some drinks and meet you three outside.” Kyle all but pushed Chrissy towards the couple and headed towards the drinks.

Liz and Tag saw the other couples break apart and he nodded toward them. “You want to join them?”

Liz shook her head. Kyle and Mel would be trying to annoy each other all night and she got to see that every day. “No, I live with them. That’s enough.”

Tag caught a glimpse of a couple of early drunks making their way clumsily through the crowd and he reached out to pull Liz out of the way. Instinctively, Liz avoided his touch, then cursed herself for it when she saw the look in his eyes. She was so used to keeping her distance from people, she didn’t know how to let the wall back down.

“I’m going to get us something to drink,” Tag announced, moving away from the other dancers.

Liz reached out and grabbed his arm now. “Tag, wait.” When he turned around to face her, she let out a deep breath. “Can we talk somewhere? Private?”

“Yeah. Follow me.” He didn’t dare reach for her again and he led the way up the stairs and down the long hallway. Stopping in front of a door, he reached into his pocket for a set of keys. He unlocked the door quickly and opened the door wide for Liz to enter.

Liz walked into the bedroom and immediately recognized it as Tag’s. The room just gave off a vibe that was uniquely him. She watched as he crossed to the large oak desk and sat in the chair facing her. And she knew she had to tell him something.

“Okay. What’s up, Liz? If I’ve done something wrong, tell me what it is.”

“No, it’s not you, Tag. It’s just this complicated situation. You’re a great guy-“

“Why do I hear a ‘but’ coming?” There was a trace of sarcasm in his voice.

Liz began pacing the room. “The thing is…okay, there’s no really good way to say what I have to say, so I’m just going to say it. I mean, there’s no point in beating around the bush and avoiding the topic until I end up rambling on and on. So, I’m just going to say what I need to say and I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t interrupt me because I’m not used to doing this.”

Tag grinned now. She was babbling while she paced and he already had a pretty good idea of what she wanted to say. But there was no harm in having a bit of fun with her first. “Are you trying to tell me you’re gay?”

Liz stopped pacing and looked up, confused. “What? No.”

“Married then?”

“I’m only seventeen.”

“You’re not suffering from a terminal illness, are you?”

“You’re making fun of me.”

“Well, if it’s none of those things, I’m going to guess that somewhere along the line someone broke your heart and you’re a little afraid to get involved with me.”

Liz opened her mouth to deny it, then thought better of it and closed her mouth. She sat down on the bed. “Do I wear a sign on my back or something?”

“It’s okay, Liz. I understand. You just have this look in your eyes. My sister had the same look after her boyfriend broke things off with her last year.” He shrugged. “I figured it was something like that.”

Liz turned her gaze to her hands. “I’m not over him yet. I feel like I need to tell you that. I know you wanted us to go out, but I just want to be fair to you and let you know that I don’t know that I ever will be over him.”

“You’re still in love with him.”

“Yes.” Liz raised her eyes to meet Tag now.

Though there was quick flash of disappointment, he recovered quickly. “Okay. It’s good to know. But it doesn’t really change anything.”

“What do you mean?”

“Liz, when I first met you, the first thought I had, after wondering if I’d caused you any permanent brain damage, was that you had this look in your eye. I can’t exactly explain it, but I knew I’d found someone to do things with. I’m not looking for anything serious. I’m only nineteen years old. I don’t want forever yet. But I’m not looking for a one-night stand either. I want to see the world. I want to do a hundred things. And I want someone to see them with me, regardless of whether we actually date or not.”

Liz considered his words, thinking back to the initial reaction she’d had to him as well. She had seen the gleam in his eye, the hunger to explore. And something inside of her had recognized it. “I feel really bad about doing this.”

“I know. But I’m telling you that you don’t have to. Look, no pressure. You can take your time and figure out what you want. But why don’t we start out as friends?” He stood and held out his hand to her.

“Friends, huh?” The guilt in her heart lessened a bit. She stood with him. “I think I can do with another friend.” She accepted his hand and they shook heartily.

“And I appreciate the honesty. You want to tell me about him? I like to know who my competition is,” he joked.

“Someday. But not tonight. I heard there was this wild party going on downstairs. Maybe we should rejoin it before rumors start flying about us.”

Tag offered his arm to her and she accepted it with a smile. Friends were always good to have around. Now that she knew there wasn’t any pressure and she didn’t feel like she was leading him on, she knew she could relax.

“Let’s party. Oh, and Kyle warned me not to get you drunk again. Actually, he more threatened me.”

Liz rolled her eyes. “Who needs a father with Kyle around? I think I did pretty good last time. I made some money and a new friend. But since my stomach still quivers whenever I smell alcohol, I think I may stay away from it for the evening.”

“Probably a good idea. Besides, it’s always more fun when you can remember the party.”