posted on 25-Nov-2002 2:46:18 PM
Title: Selling the Drama
Rating: PG13, will go NC-17
Pairing: Michael/Liz (minor Alex?Maria, and Kyle/Isabel)
Spoilers: None
Disclaimer:Just trying to fix the mess they made of the show. Can ya blame me? ;)
Summary: Definitely AU. Liz Parker and her brother Jaime arrive in Roswell with a lot of baggage, namely Liz's "boyfriend" Jared, and nothing for the the Pod Squad will ever be the same.
Alex is alive, and they are all around 21. Tess has left the planet with Max's son and while Maria and Michael did have a relationship it is currently in it's off phase.


Hope you enjoy it.*happy*

~*~Prologue~*~

Sheriff Jim Valenti was on the last block of his nightly rounds when he saw something that caught his eye. Stopping his vehicle a little ways back he observed what appeared to be a new family moving into the old Johnson place. Always wary of stranger in his town since finding out that not only did aliens exist, but not all of them were as kind as the ones he knew. He also knew the government would go to any lengths to get their hands on a real alien, preferably alive.

Ever since Max Evans had saved his son’s life years ago he’d vowed to protect his extra-terrestrial friends. And snooping on any new residents went along with that.

A smile touched the older man’s face as he watched a lanky brown haired, boy looking to be about ten or eleven, juggling a soccer ball around the yard in the dusk of the evening. A look a deep concentration hung on the boys face and his lips moved as if counting each time the ball struck his body.

Jim had counted about twenty when the ball fell out of the boy’s reach and a look of utter disappointment fell over his face. It was then that Jim noticed a petite woman, with long dark brown, almost black, hair in her late teens or early twenties come out of the house. The smile she gave nearly radiated off her and despite her tired and slightly sweaty appearance, she was just about the prettiest thing Jim had ever seen. Olive skin and brown eyes that spoke immediately of warmth and kindness.

She seemed to be the picture of what Jim had imagined his daughter might look like had he and Michelle had any more kids besides Kyle.

He watched as she studied the boy and picked up the discarded soccer ball. she playfully bounced it off his head and the two began laughing.

The woman seemed too young to be the boy’s other...a sister perhaps. Deciding to take a closer look Jim drove his car up to the driveway. He saw the two tense up immediately, but once he stepped out of the vehicle with the patented Valenti smile he saw them relax.

“Howdy.” Jim said removing his hat politely, knowing the non-threatening phrase might ease the two even further, “I’m the sheriff around here. Jim Valenti.”

The woman smiled brightly and stuck her hand out, “Liz Parker.” She wrapped an arm around the boy’s shoulder nudging him slightly, “And this is my little brother Jaime.”

Jaime immediately downcast his eyes, but shook Jim’s hand and mumbled a hello. Jim couldn’t tell if the boy was just shy or afraid of the uniform so he tried to coax the boy out of his shell.

“School will be starting soon, Son. What grade will you be in?” he asked trying to get the boy to look him in the eye.
Jaime glanced up slightly then began picking at an imaginary thread on the soccer ball, “Um... fifth sir.” he answered, glancing up to see the older man’s reaction.

“Fifth?” Jim said a little surprised, “You look a little young to be a fifth grader.”

“I’m ten.” Jaime said warming up to Jim seeing his gentle nature.

“Jaime’s the brains in the family.” Liz said proudly, “Skipped third grade last year.”

“Well I hope you won’t find Roswell to boring. Our schools are pretty decent.” Jim said earning a genuine smile from the boy, “Where are you two from, if you don’t mind me askin’?”

“Not at all,” Liz said, “We moved her from Seattle, well... outside Seattle.” she looked over at Jaime and they both shared a saddened look, “Our parents died a couple months ago and we needed a change of scenery.”

Jim nodded, “I’m awfully sorry to hear about your parents.” Jim said suddenly realizing why the boy was probably shy around older men, probably reminded him of his father. Deciding to take a different tack he moved on, “What brought you to Roswell, New Mexico of all places?”

“Well I did.” a male voice said from behind them.

Jim watched as both Liz and Jaime turned their heads their faces falling immediately. A tall man, looking to be in his mid to late twenties, Lean build, with blonde hair. His eyes were crystal blue and Jim could swear he saw an iciness to them. Or maybe it was the reaction both Jaime and Liz had to him.

“Jared Delaney.” the man said with a painted smile, shaking Jim’s outstretched had a little too hard. His attention turned to Jaime, “Why don’t you finish unpacking your room and stop bothering the sheriff here.”

Jaime looked to Liz. She gave him a slight smile and a nod, squeezing his shoulder before he turned to go back in the house. He stopped for a minute turning back to Jim and once again shaking his hand, “It was nice to meet you sir.”

“Likewise son. I’ll see you around town, It’s pretty small.” Jim said, thoroughly impressed by the young man. He could barely get his twenty-one year old son to call people “Sir” and here was this ten-year-old kid giving him a lesson in manners.

When Jaime disappeared into the house, Jim turned his attention back to the two adults in front of him. Jared had one hand placed on the small of Liz’s back “ Mr...Delaney? I take it you two aren’t...”

“Related?” Jared asked with a smirk. He moved his hand from Liz’s back to around her tiny waist hugging her to his body, “No. Not that I haven’t tried. But Liz here seems to have a marriage phobia.”

Liz let a half hearted, but embarrassed smile touch her lips at Jared’s remark and Jim could swear she was trying to figure out a way to get out of his embrace, “Come now Jared, “she said through her teeth, “the sheriff doesn’t need to know everything about us.”

Sensing Liz needed a little rescuing, Jim pressed the conversation forward, “You said you brought them to Roswell, Mr. Delaney?”

Jared kept his smile on, “Yes. Actually it was Jaime who picked the place, but I got myself hired at Evans & Tate. Don’t imagine I’ll have great deal of work, but they seemed eager to hire me on.”

“Great firm, “ Jim said, “Good people. Phillip Evans is one of the best. Nice family too. You were lucky.”

“Or maybe they were, right Sheriff?” Jared joked.

“Right.” Jim said, having to stifle his laughter as Liz unconsciously rolled her eyes, “”Uh... what are you doing for work Miss. Parker.”

“Please call me Liz, Sheriff.” Liz said politely, “I’m working at...”

“Liz here is working at Spacey’s.” Jared interrupted, “That bar on Crash Blvd. Doesn’t pay much, but I imagine my Lizzy will do all right in tips.”

Liz nodded reluctantly, but looked annoyed by Jared’s interruption. Over the years Jim developed a sense for people and he could tell from body language alone that this was an extremely strained relationship and Jared wanted to make it perfectly clear who wore the pants in the family.

“ Spacey’s is a good place. I frequent it myself. You shouldn’t have too much trouble there. Most of the locals are just happy drunks.”

Thanks.” Liz said giving Jim a genuine smile, “I start tomorrow night, after we get unpacked and I get Jaime registered at Roswell Elementary.”

“Well when you do you should come by the Crashdown Cafe. It’s a little restaurant just down the street from the bar. I know the owners and some of the help. Nice bunch of people.”

“Seems you have a lot of those around here, Sheriff.” Jared said sarcastically, “Nice people that is.”

Jim bristled at Jared’s tone, “Well it’s a nice town. Mr. Delaney, and I’d like to keep it that way.”

“Well, you won’t have to worry about us. “ Jared said hugging Liz to him once again, “A lawyer, a waitress and a stupid kid. More likely to spot an alien than one of us in trouble.”

“Oh I have no doubt.” Jim said half smiling, “Well, you folks have some unpacking to do. I’ll just be on my way. It was nice to meet you Liz. Mr. Delaney.”

Jared and Liz shook his hand once more and Jared headed back into the house. Liz was about to do the same when Jim called out to her. She approached him tentatively.

“Forget something Sheriff?” she asked a little confused.

“When I’m off duty you call me Jim okay?” he said in a fatherly manner, “And if you or Jaime need anything you call on me. I know you must be having a rough time right now with the loss of your parents. So..”

Liz smiled, placing a gentle hand on the kind man’s shoulder, “Thank you. Sher... Jim. That means a lot, but I think we’ll be okay. Jaime and I were built tough. Mom and Dad did a good job giving us the basics.”

“All the same, you know where to find me.” Jim said insistently. Liz nodded and watched him get back in his car. She waved as he drove off, heading back inside the house.

Liz looked down the hall when she entered the living room to see Jaime’s door shut tightly and the light creeping out from underneath. She was about to go see if he needed help unpacking when Jared stepped out of the kitchen blocking her progress. Ice in the glass he held in his hand, tinkled, surrounded by the amber liquid she’d learned to hate.

“What the hell did he want?” Jared growled his breath already tinged with the alcohol from the glass.

Liz rolled her eyes at Jared’s unnecessary paranoia, “He just wanted to make sure we were okay. We told him about Mom and Dad dying and he was just being friendly. Nothing more, Jared.”

“You sure?” he asked narrowing his eyes at her, almost begging her to lie to him to give him an excuse.

Liz lowered her voice and glared up at him, “I’m sure. Now if you’ll excuse me...Unlike you, I have some unpacking to do.”

Liz moved to brush past the man towering above her but felt her wrist grabbed sharply and tugged back causing her to wince in pain, “Tut. Tut. Elizabeth, “ he said waving a finger in front of her, “Remember your place.”

“Like you’d ever let me forget.” Liz said through her teeth ripping her hand out of Jared’s grasp, rubbing the red mark that now appeared on her arm. He shook his head and snorted disappearing back into the kitchen to refill his drink and organize his briefcase.
As Liz headed for the bedroom she saw Jaime’s door opened a crack and peeked her head in, “Doing okay?” she asked her little brother.

Jaime nodded and put away a pile of socks in a drawer. Liz knew he’d seen what Jared had done and nearly wept that she’d managed to put her brother in this position. Looking behind her to make sure Jared was still in the kitchen Liz stepped inside her brother’s room shutting the door behind her.

“The sheriff was nice.” Jaime said with a smile, as he grabbed a pile of t-shirts. He worried about Liz when Jared got this way and the last thing he wanted was her worrying about how he was feeling. This was a new place and a new beginning. He only wished they could have done it without Jared.

“Yeah he was...” Liz agreed biting her lip, “You know Jared has to go into the office tomorrow morning, so I thought you and I could blow off unpacking for a little while and kick the ball around at the park. What do you think?”

Jaime’s face was practically beaming. He missed his parents like nothing else, but he’d come to cherish the time he got to spend when it was just he and Liz, especially without Jared. The two great loves of Jaime’s life were soccer and his sister.

“I’ll take that as a yes.” Liz laughed. Jaime nodded emphatically. She tousled the boys hair and gave him a kiss on the forehead, before leaving his room make her bed.

Having already unpacked the linens Liz, grabbed a sheet and pillow from the closet and headed out to the living room to make up the couch, otherwise known as her bed.

Just as she was tucking in the last corner she felt Jared’s presence looming behind her. He was watching her bend over to straighten the pillow.

“You know there’s plenty of room in my bed.” he slurred.

Liz continued fixing the already immaculate sleeping area, “Have I ever said ‘yes’ to that offer Jared?”

Jared shook his head laughing “No harm in trying.” he said before slipping back into his own room, slamming the door in a near drunken stupor.

“There’s plenty.” Liz whispered sadly her eyes filling with tears.

~*~
TBC?




[ edited 26time(s), last at 17-Feb-2003 6:21:45 PM ]
posted on 26-Nov-2002 3:24:59 PM
Chapter 1


Michael, Max, Alex, Kyle and Jim had met for an early morning game of two on two. Aliens versus human. Jim said being the “old fart” he’d just spot for Kyle or Alex although all four boys knew the sheriff of Roswell could run circles around them.

Isabel tagged along with her brother Max that morning on the premise of working on her tan although watching her boyfriend, Kyle, getting worked up into a good sweat, didn’t hurt either.

Maria had the morning off from her job at the Crashdown, the cafe she and her mother ran. Her reason was far more obvious in the form of Michael and their perpetually on again off again relationship.

At the moment they were off, a result of what had become known as a “Deluca sized” tantrum a few months earlier about Michael’s lack of perfection when it came to her needs. Fed up Michael called it quits, ever tired of trying to be something he wasn’t.

It’s not that Maria was a bad person, she was just very demanding. She wanted romance and flowers, sensitivity and a knack for knowing what to say at the right times. In essence she wanted Alex... in Michael’s body. But the old adage was true, Maria would have to be hit on the head with a tons of bricks to realize it. And thankfully Alex, while enjoying being her best friend, was patient and in hopelessly in love with the complicated diva.

“Who’s idea was it again for you guys to be shirtless?” Alex asked taking a poorly timed shot as he watched Maria’s eyes rove over Michael’s chest.

“Uh that would be you, Tall, Pale and Skinny,” Kyle teased Alex.

“Oh yeah... thanks for reminding me what a colossally unattractive person I am.” he said sarcastically watching his teammate sink his shot effortlessly

“Hey the minute you start looking attractive to Kyle all my suspicions will be confirmed.” Michael joked, earning a laugh out of Max.

“Sure Guerin,” Kyle threw the ball into the the long haired alien’s chest, “When at a loss for wit go for the homoerotic.”

“Should we be worried that you even know the word homoerotic,” Max quipped as Michael passed him the ball.

“Only you Evans.” Kyle said batting his eye lashes at him, Max immediately faltered shooting an air ball.

“You guys are terrible at this game!” Maria called out from her spot on the blanket.

“My dear.” Isabel said rolling her eyes, “The game these boys play has nothing to do with basketball.”
Maria looked at her blonde friend quizzically. Jim laughed knowing exactly what Isabel was taking about, “It’s a bullshit contest.” he provided.

“And the point of being out here on the basketball court on one of the hottest days of the year would be...?” Maria asked failing to see the logic in any of this.

“To get out their manly aggressions, sweat, and strut for hot chicks.” Isabel answered as if it were plain as day.

Maria laughed, “And they say women are complicated.”

The four boys took a time out from their contest to hydrate and to sub Jim in for Kyle. Isabel laying on that blanket in the shade was looking a little too tempting. He fell beside her laying a big wet kiss on her cheek.

“Ugh!” she said pushing him away, “You’re all sweaty. Get off.”

“You never complained before.” Kyle said raising his eyebrow suggestively at her.

“That’s because she’s usually working a sweat up with you.” Alex teased.

“Hello brother present.” Max said sounding disgusted.

“Not to mention a father.” Jim said trying not to laugh. He knew his son was a grown man and lived with Isabel, but it was a little too much to actually think about how the two played house together.

Maria sighed heavily, “At least some people are getting some around here.” she said her gaze falling on Michael.

Michael rolled his eyes ignoring her comment and turned to Jim, changing the subject, “I realize nothing ever happens here besides the odd alien invasion,” he joked, “but anything new come up?”

Jim thought for a moment then remembered the new family he met the night before, “Not really. I met the new family moving into the old Johnson place.”

“What are they like?” Isabel asked throwing a towel at Kyle to keep him from sweating on her.

Jim scratched his head in thought. How do you tell them that the sister and brother were nice, but the boyfriend was put a whole new spin on being an asshole.

“Decent people I guess.” he finally said, “It’s a girl, about your guy’s age, her ten-year-old brother and her boyfriend. He just got hired at you father’s firm,”
“Yeah?” Max said, “So that must be the Delaney guy he’s been raving about.”

Isabel nodded her head in agreement. At their weekly dinner at their parents house Max and Isabel had been treated to Phillip’s excitement over his newest acquisition in Jared Delaney.

“Dad’s real excited about him.” Isabel said rolling her eyes.

Jim was intrigued. The way Max and Isabel were talking about and the impression Jared left him with the night before it was almost as if they weren’t talking about the same person, “You're dad probably knows more about him. What’s his story?” he asked.

Max shrugged, “Just that he was really lucky to have him. He was some big hot shot at a firm in Seattle and was looking for a change of pace. Dad doesn’t know why he left and he said when he get’s someone with Jared’s talent, for half what he was making in Seattle, he’s not inclined to ask too many questions.”

“Did he happen to mention anything about Liz or Jaime Parker?” Jim asked the Evans kids.

“Is that the girlfriend and her brother?” Alex asked.

Jim nodded. Michael watched the older man carefully. He knew Jim Valenti pretty well by now and he could see the man’s mind processing every bit of information that he was getting. Something about this family bugged him and Michael wanted to find out why.

Max and Isabel looked at each other and shook their heads, “Guess it never came up.” Isabel said shrugging her shoulders.

“Well what are they like?” Maria asked not wanting to be left out of the conversation.

Jim was about to answer her when a soccer ball rolled onto the blanket Kyle and Isabel were occupying. Looking up a smile touched his face, “Why don’t you see for yourself?” he said gesturing in the direction he was looking. Everyone turned around to see what Jim was pointing at.

~*~

After Jared left for the office that morning, coffee mug in his hand and three aspirin already working on his hangover, Liz and Jaime threw on their soccer gear and headed for the park.

Living only a couple blocks away Liz walked while Jaime juggled his soccer ball down the sidewalk. Liz was thankful she’d put on her tank top that morning because the heat was quickly rising. They didn’t have summers like this in the northwest. Jaime had already shed his oversized shirt tucking it into the back of his shorts.
“Think you could used to this?” Liz asked wiping her brow from the thin sheen of sweat that had already formed.

“I could get used to just about anything.” Jaime said. Liz knew her the one thing Jaime would never adjust too and it went unspoken. The truth was she shared her brother’s reluctance.

“Well, let’s forget about him for a couple hours,” she said putting a smile on her face, “He’s stuck in that stuffy old office all day.”

“Small comfort.” Jaime murmured.

Liz’s smile disappeared earing her brother’s comment. Her heart sank again as the reality of the situation that not only she was in, but him as well. She’d promised her parents if anything happened, that she’d always take care of Jaime and now things were just one big mess.No matter how many different ways she thought of trying to get out, Jared’s threat loomed, and if it was possible, staying with him was the lesser of the two evils.

Jaime stopped juggling the ball seeing he caused his sister grief. It wasn’t his intention and he knew it wasn’t her fault they were stuck with Jared. In truth he blamed himself. If Liz hadn't had to...

“Hey.” Liz interrupted Jaime’s thought, “Don’t do that.”

“What?” Jaime asked, looking guilty.

“Stop blaming yourself. I know that look Jaime Parker. It wasn’t your fault.”

“But Liz...” Jaime argued, but was quickly interrupted by his determined sister.

“No regrets little brother.” she said sternly, before sighing softly and placing her hands on Jaime’s shoulder making him look her in the eye, “Mom and Dad wouldn’t want that.”

Jaime finally relented nodding softly and they continued walking, “They wouldn’t want us with him either.”

Liz squeezed her brother’s shoulders with her arm, “I know.” she said sadly.

The closer they got to the park the better Jaime and Liz’s moods improved. By the time they reached the area designated for soccer Jaime was practically on cloud nine. He and Liz passed the ball around and took shots, talking about anything that wasn’t Jared related.

On one shot at the goal Jaime misfired and sent his ball soaring over to the basketball courts. He was about to let out a frustrated yell when he saw who had bent down to pick up his ball.
“Hey isn’t that the sheriff?” Jaime asked Liz.

His sister nodded and they decided to go over and say hello. He’d been so kind the to them the night before and while she’d never say so out loud, Liz knew Jaime needed a better male influence in his life than Jared Delaney.

The closer they got the more flush Liz felt. There was a tall, long haired man without a shirt that had immediately caught her attention and she even felt her breath hitch when she saw him turn to see what the sheriff had been pointing at. His hair was damp with sweat as was the rest of his skin. Her eyes met with his and for the first time in her life she loved the color amber. For once it reflected kindness and a fire that was dangerous but only to her heart. The only word that she could think of was, beautiful.

~*~

Michael turned his head to see this brother and sister everyone seemed to be wondering about, not expecting to have his breath nearly sucked from his body. She was a tiny little thing, her long dark hair was pulled up in a ponytail exposing the brownest eyes he’d ever seen in his life. Her shorts hung on her hips and the tank top exposed just enough skin to nearly make him pant. A thin sheen of sweat covered her chest and she nearly glittered in the day’s sun. The only word he could think of was, beautiful.

Not wanting to be caught staring he settled on the boy. He wore a goofy grin that was quickly fading when he saw the rest of the people. Probably shy around crowds. Michael knew that feeling all to well. He liked spending time with his friends, but Michael was perfectly content to stay at home alone on a Friday night despite the whines of his buddies.

The boy didn’t really much look like the girl His hair was a lighter brown, cut short and his eyes were a lighter brown than his sister. For a ten year old he seemed tall, but then standing next to the woman anyone would. The boy was nearly eye level with the petite girl.

“Sorry about that Sheriff.” Jaime said quietly, as Jim tossed him the ball.

“Now I told your sister, off duty it’s Jim, son.” Jim mock scolded.

Jaime smiled and saluted, “Yes sir.”

“This your day off?” Liz asked Jim finally speaking, her eyes kept wandering to the tall man standing next to him. She looked away quickly when she met his eyes only to meet they eyes of another stranger. He wasn’t as tall as the other man and his hair was shorter and darker, but his gaze seemed far more intense, cold, as if he were sizing her up.

“Nah. Just going in a little later. Thought I’d catch up on some court time with my son.” Jim said nodding down at Kyle who was helping Isabel off her blanket to greet the new strangers.
Maria held her hand up to an oblivious Michael and Alex tried not to laugh at her annoyance, and extended his own hand to help her up.

“At least someone knows how to be a gentleman.” she huffed loudly, but Michael again was oblivious to her ranting.

Some might have thought it just been that Michael had developed an immunity to her voice over time. But as Alex and Kyle exchanged a knowing glance they felt Michael’s indifference to Maria’s comfort had more to do with the raven haired beauty standing in front of them.

Jim looked around that the group of young people and realized he was the gateway between the strangers, “Geez, where are my manners? Let me introduce ya’ll.”

The introduction took a few minutes Jaime shaking hands with everyone and not quite meeting their eyes. Everyone noticed when Michael and Liz finally greeted one another. They held the other’s hand just a little too long and their eyes never left each other. Only when Maria cleared her throat loudly did they realize what they’d done, dropping their hands quickly.

“You as good at basketball as you are with that soccer ball, Jaime?” Kyle asked breaking the tension that seemed to hang in the air.

“Uh... well I can beat other ten-year-olds.” Jaime said sheepishly scratching at his forehead.

“Well seeing as you’re already shirtless, you can take Max’s place. He plays just about as well.” Kyle joked earning a jab in the arm from a slightly offended Max.

Jaime looked to Liz with pleading eyes and she smiled nodding her head. “Go on. Abandon me why don’t you.”

Jaime handed the ball to Liz and walked onto the court with Michael, followed by Kyle and Jim. Alex, Maria, Isabel and Liz sat down on the blanket and talked while watching the other four play ball.

“Well, Dad cannot stop raving about Jared.” Isabel said after informing Liz that she and Max were the children of Phillips Evans.

Liz tried to smile brightly, but it came off as plastic as it felt, “That’s great.” she replied, “He was really looking forward to getting started.”

“Where are you working?” Maria asked keeping one eye on this new girl and the other on a decidedly off-his-game Michael growing aware that the two were connected. Jaime was making more shots than he was. Then again his focus wasn’t exactly on the game.

“ Spacey’s” Liz supplied, “Not exactly my first choice, working until late at night, especially when Jaime starts school, but it was all I can get on short notice.”

“Well if you don’t like it you should come to work at the Crashdown.” Alex offered, “Maria and her mom own the place and Michael works their as a cook and co-manager.”

Maria smacked Alex in the chest and gave him a rueful glare for extending the offer. She might have made it herself had Liz not been returning Michael’s glances.

“What?” Alex asked rubbing the tender spot Maria had just assaulted, “It’s not like you don’t need a new waitress. I mean the only reason you keep Agnes around is because no one else has applied.”

Liz sensed Maria’s unease and graciously rescued her, “It’s okay Alex. I appreciate the offer, but we’ll see how it works at the bar. I start tonight.”

“Well at least come in for dinner,” Isabel said knowing this was the groups night for meeting up during the week, “Then we can meet the man my father seems to have fallen in love with.”

Liz let her gaze fall over to Max, who hadn’t taken his eyes off her the entire time, “Um... He’ll probably be working late, but I’ll see if Jaime wants to go.” There was no way Jared would approve of them meeting up with new people. He wanted them as little in the public eye as possible, but Liz never did like Jared’s rules and it was getting lonely for her and Jaime. She decided it was a necessary risk.

“And it’s on the house tonight” Maria offered deciding at least be friendly to the girl. Liz opened her mouth to argue, but Maria held her hand up. “No arguing.” Liz shut her mouth and smiled.

“Trust me. That’s the smartest thing you’ll ever do.” Max finally said with a smile, referring to avoiding an argument with Maria Deluca.

Twenty minutes later the basketball players came off the court sweaty and seeking hydration. Jaime’s face was red with exhaustion and Liz might have worried except for the smile that stretched from ear to ear.

Maria bent down to retrieve a water bottle for Jaime, but he waved her off, “I got it, Miss.” he said.

“Miss?” Maria was pleasantly taken aback by the boy’s politeness, “You’re parents sure raised you right.” she said without thinking.

Liz and Jaime’s faces fell upon the mention of their parents and an awkward silence came over the group.

“You’ll have to excuse Maria,” Michael said with a slight smile to both Jaime and Liz, “She was born with her foot in her mouth,”

“At least I was born,” Maria mumbled, but was glad to see her slip up didn’t have any lasting effects as Jaime and Liz were once again smiling.
Liz handed Michael a towel she’d been absently playing with while talking to the others. He accepted it with a nod of his head making sure he didn’t touch Liz’s hand. He was afraid what actually feeling her skin might do to him since her eyes were effectively breaking down his self made stone wall.

“Who won?” Max asked.

“We did.” Kyle said proudly, “For once. And it wasn’t for Jaime’s lack of trying.”

Michael wiped his face on a towel and glowered at Kyle, “I’m just off my game today. Next time Buddha Boy.” he said, turning his eyes to Jaime, shrugging his shoulders, “Sorry little man.”

Michael was momentarily thrown by the smell on the towel that he knew wasn’t his. It must have been from the lotion Liz used on her hands, vanilla, that morning. What was this girl doing to him? He felt like all his senses were being attacked while instinctively he would resist such things, he felt himself welcoming them.

“Don’t worry about it.” Jaime said with smile, “I’m used to losing.”

Despite the smile on the boy’s face Michael couldn’t help but her an element of truth behind his statement. A quick glance at Liz’s sad eyes all but confirmed his feeling. Jaime’s last statement rang in his ears, not because they were a little harsh for a kid his age to be saying, but that it felt all too familiar.

The moment passed and soo they were all laughing and enjoying eachother’s company. Jaime looked off into the distance for a moment. His eyes widened suddenly and he stopped laughing.

“Shit.” he muttered under his breath, picking up his soccer ball, he looked up at his sister.

“Jaime!” Liz quietly scolded, not that anyone there really minded that the boy had cussed, having been guilty of more than a few colorful words during their game that morning.

“We gotta go.” he told her insistently, not taking his eyes off of what had unnerved him.

Liz kept smiling but turned to follow her brother’s gaze, quickly finding out exactly why her normally polite brother not only swore, but was being quite abrupt. Jared. He was standing about a hundred yards away tapping his watch and raising his arms in the air.

“Shit.” Liz echoed Jaime’s earlier expletive, “It was nice to me you all.” she said quickly to everyone letting her eyes linger with Michael’s questioning ones.

Michael didn’t know why, but he didn’t want Liz or Jaime to leave. Part of it was the way their moods seemed to change so drastically when Jared made his presence known, the other part of him just felt good being around both of them. It was a pull he hadn;t felt in a long time. Not since...
“We’ll see you tonight, right?” Michael uncharacteristically blurted out, interrupting his own thought.

Liz nodded and she and Jaime made their way towards what they knew was a fuming Jared.

“That was suave, Guerin.” Kyle teased, “What happened to the stone wall?”

Michael waved Kyle off and continued watching Liz and Jaime as they approached Jared. He watched as they got closer that Liz subtly pushed Jaime behind her, protectively.

Both their bodies spoke for them. Jaime’s shoulder sagged and he gripped Liz’s hand tightly. Liz on the other hand stood as tall as her tiny frame would allow and her feet were firmly planted. She could put up a fairly effective stone wall herself.

Jared towered over the both brother and sister his arms crossed, looming as though trying to intimidate the pair. His face was beyond stern and bordered on angry. Judging from the way Jaime’s head hung his head he was doing it rather effectively.

Jared and Liz seemed to exchange words, no one could hear what the were saying, but the angered look on Jared’s face never wavered so it couldn’t be good. Finally Liz threw her hand in the air and maneuvered Jaime to the opposite side of Jared. He leaned down to kiss Liz but she and Jaime were already five steps ahead of him. He shook his head in defeat and jogged to catch up with them, wrapping a strong arm around Liz’s shoulder when he reached her.

Michael was about to turn back to the group when he saw Jaime look back at him. His eyes were sad, lonely and almost crying out for help. Michael felt a lump in his throat no amount of swallowing would push away and only turned back to his friends when Jaime faced forward.

“So that’s Jared, huh?” Kyle asked his dad, again breaking the silence that had come over the group in their individual efforts to eavesdrop on the exchange between Liz and Jared.

Jim nodded, then met Michael’s gaze. He knew he wasn’t the only one that sensed something ominous about Jared. Something didn’t seem about him. Jim liked to call it the Square-Peg-In-A-Round hole theory. Forced to fit where it was never meant to be.

“Well he’s not hard on the eyes.” Maria said in a vain attempt to arouse Michael’s jealousy.

Michael bit the inside of his cheek trying to bite back the comment he had for his ex-girlfriend and instead went about forcefully packing up his duffel bag, “My bet’s that not the only thing he’s hard on.” he muttered through his teeth.

~*~
Liz knew her bliss was too good to be true the second Jaime had caught sight of Jared. It had been too much to hope that she could give her little brother a moments happiness to laugh and just be a kid. She’d even let herself fall into the moment, making actual friends and entertaining the stirring feeling she felt whenever she looked at Michael.

She hated to end things so abruptly, but she didn’t think she could handle Jared throwing on his charm to these people to cover up the monster that lurked beneath. She fought back the bile that rose in her throat at the smile he always gave people suggesting a man with no worries or demons.

She heard Michael call out to her as they walked away and was reminded that she now had something to look forward to that evening before work. It almost took away the steely resolve she was building in order to face Jared.

“Liz..” Jaime said, fear tinging his voice as they drew closer to Jared. He could see the the fire that lurked behind the icy blue eyes the man who had come to mean so many bad things to him.

Liz gently pushed Jaime behind her, shielding him with her body and taking his hand for the support he could give her, “I’ll take care of it, Jaime.” she said her voice full of the resolve that kept Jaime together.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Jared asked angrily, when they stopped in front of him.

“Having fun. You remember fun don’t you Jared... or was that something they removed at law school.” Liz said nearly as angry, unsure of where it was coming from.

“We still have a house to unpack and you’re out here playing?” Jared growled doing his best to ignore the sass he was getting from Liz, “And what did I tell you about other people?”

“I’m not a child Jared. If I want to make friends I will.” Liz said defiantly.

She watched him clench his fists in rage, “I dare you.” she said a near smirk coming over her face, “I dare you to show everyone what you really are.”

“You first.” Jared taunted.

“Liz...” Jaime said again, this time his voice more urgent. His sister was baiting Jared and he knew that she’d pay for it later. He knew he was getting through when he felt her body begin to relax against his.

Liz sighed, “What are you doing here anyway? I thought you were at work?” She asked Jared.

“Lunch break.” he answered shortly, “Wanted to see how much work you’d gotten done.”

“Like a good master should.” Liz grumbled. Jaime tightened his grip once more on Liz’s hand reminding her to watch her tone.
Jared leaned his head back trying to control his temper, “I don’t want to fight Liz.” he said his voice calmed, “Not here.”

For once Liz agreed. She could feel her new group of friends eyes on them, especially Michael’s and the chilling reminder that while she was definitely attracted to him, he was off limits.

“Fine. We’ll go home and finish unpacking.” Liz relented.

Jared smiled knowing he’d won once again. Deciding to tempt fate Jared leaned down to kiss Liz on the premise of furthering the facade they had to build but found her already a few steps away Jaime firmly at her side.

Jaime loved his sister’s tenacious nature, and the truth was he felt it more than she did, but he’d seen what Jared could do when he felt Liz had provoked him and he wasn’t anxious for a repeat.

Taking one look back at Michael and the others his little heart sunk at the knowledge that his fun would always be a fleeting thing as long as Jared was in the picture.

“Is that really them?” he whispered to Liz sure that Jared was out of earshot.

Liz looked down at her brother with a small smile and nodded, she then tensed as she felt Jared’s arm wrap around her own shoulder.

~**~
TBC...


posted on 27-Nov-2002 3:32:09 PM
Just ptting up a new chapter, since I won;t beable to tomorrow. Be back Friday with more. Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving. *happy*

Chapter 2

Much to Jaime and Liz’s relief they were spared from any retribution of Jared’s part when as soon as they got home he realized he had to get back to the office. He left strict “orders” to have the house in order by the time he got home that evening.

Liz was beginning to regret her earlier defiance with Jared when she realized she’d be leaving Jaime home alone with him that evening. Her job would most likely not let out until at least midnight and while Jared had yet to lay a hand on her baby brother, his propensity for violence had been escalating. If even one thing was improperly placed... There had to be a way to keep Jaime safe.

Once certain that everything was in proper order Liz showered and got ready for work. It wasn’t the most respectable job she’d ever held down, but the attire wasn’t completely humiliating. At least she was a bartender and got to wear jeans. The shorts the waitress’s wore would have made Daisy Duke blush.

She inspected herself in the mirror. Her long dark hair was straight and curled at the ends, she put on a little more make-up than she was normally comfortable with, but it came with the job. She tied the navy blue shirt at her waist and fixed it so the bar’s logo stretched across her chest like the manager told her it should. Her hip hugger jeans bared enough of her navel to drive a few customers crazy and kept her in a bit of denial that she wasn’t completely exploiting her body for a few generous tips.

When she came out of the bathroom Jaime was dressed and ready to go to the school to register for classes that started in two weeks time. Liz spun around and gave Jaime a helpless look.

“Still respect me?” she asked half joking.

Jaime nodded and laughed. He knew his sister was beautiful, but she was his sister. All he saw was what was in her heart and while lately it had been all but completely shattered, she was still beautiful.

~*~

Registering Jaime at Roswell Elementary took a matter of a thirty minutes and more than a few wide eyes at Liz’s attire. She didn’t mind and her parents always told her to hold her head up high no matter what. She was providing for her brother in the most difficult of circumstances. No matter if it was cleaning toilets with a toothbrush or serving drinks to horny locals she’d do it with pride and as long as Jaime still looked at her with love and respect in his eyes she could make it through just about anything.

Deciding to take Maria up on her offer for a free meal their next stop was the Crashdown Cafe for dinner, before Liz’s shift began at Spacey’s.

As they drove along the road in Liz’s old Ford truck, one of the few things they had left from their parents farm, Jaime’s mood began to improve and a slow smile crept over his face.
“What’s got you grinning like a Cheshire cat?” Liz asked her little brother, finding his smile always contagious.

“Nuthin’” he answered coyly looking out the window to avoid Liz’s eyes.

Liz thought for a moment at when she’d seen Jaime smile that big before and it suddenly struck her.

“You’re looking forward to seeing Michael again aren’t you?” she said poking her brother in the ribs.

Jaime tried to wipe his smile from his face but Liz was always too in tune with his mood. He finally started laughing and looked over at his sister, “Like you aren’t?”

Liz stopped laughing and her face grew serious. It was one thing to admit to herself that she and Michael shared an intense pull towards one another, but it was another entirely to act on that pull. She chastised herself for letting her attraction to Michael, be so obvious that her ten-year-old brother had picked up on it.

“I barely know him Jaime...and its too dangerous... with Jared...” she faltered.

“Jared.” Jaime scoffed, “We’ll never be happy with him around.”

“I think that’s the idea,” Liz said sadly, letting a moment of silence pass between them.

“I don’t think Max trusts us.” Jaime said scratching his head.

“He shouldn’t.” Liz pointed out, “None of them should. It’s the way they’ve survived this long... and Max especially after Tess...”

Jaime bit his lip in thought, “Why can’t we tell them Liz?... Or at least Michael?”

Liz looked over at her brother and cupped his cheek in her hand. He was so desperate and she so wanted to say “yes” to his request, but there were too many unknowns and one large threat in the form of...

“Jared.” she simply said.

“He’s all talk.” Jaime said angrily turning away from Liz’s touch. She rested her hand on his shoulder and gave it a squeeze.

“What if he’s not Jaime? I won't risk that with you or the others. As far as Jared knows the only aliens that exist are...”

“We’re here.” Jaime said abruptly as they came upon the Crashdown Cafe.

Liz nodded and parked the truck across the street. Jaime slammed his door sending years of farm dust flying around them. Liz ran around the front and stood in front of the angry boy.

“Look I know you want to tell Michael. It’s good that you trust him and I promise we’ll tell all of them soon, but for right now we have to play it safe. You have to trust me Jaime. Please.”

Jaime saw the pleading look in his sister’s eyes and knew she was bearing the weight of the world on her shoulders. She needed him to be strong and to have faith that she would do the right thing even if she got hurt in the process.

“Ok.” he said relented, “But not much longer, please.”

“I promise Jaime. And you know I always keep my promises.” Liz said letting out a deep breath.

Jaime nodded. Liz always made good on her word. Something their parents had taught them. Things were bad now, but he had infinite faith that Liz could get them out of it.

“Okay. Now let’s go get a burger...” she said playfully wrapping him in a head lock and poking his ribs again, “You’re getting too skinny.”

“I can’t help it,” Jaime said gesturing at his body, “I’m growing faster than I can eat.”

Liz laughed, “Let’s test that theory shall we?” as they walked through the Crashdown’s double doors.

~*~

Alex, Isabel, Kyle were seated in a booth waiting out another Monday night, when the whole I Know/Am and Alien Club met to discuss any alien related business or lately, since any threats of their enemies had died down after Tess left, just shoot the breeze. Max would come in when his shift at the UFO Center was over.

Maria was waiting on the few occupied tables while Michael flipped burgers and readied other orders. One of the main reasons they chose Monday nights was because the Crash was practically dead on that night, barring any conventions.

This had become the tight knit groups routine over the years. Ever since the day Maria found out aliens really existed.

~*~

Michael had gotten into it with Hank again and in frustration rode his motorcycle out to the desert to let out some aggressions. Maria had innocently been driving the Jetta back from a supply run for her mother when she saw Michael’s bike parked along side the road and heard an explosion. Being Maria, which meant being nosy, she pulled off to see what was causing the explosions and if Michael had been hurt.

She’d never really paid the boy much attention before. He gave off clear signals that he wanted to be left alone and most people were inclined to adhere to that, including her, but she couldn’t ignore him if he was hurt.

After walking closer and closer to the explosions, she saw Michael a few yeards away with a bruised cheek and a bloody lip and hid behind a rock. His hand was extended into thin air and Maria thought maybe the rumors about he less than stable mental status was true. Before she coud give it much thought a boulder five feet in front of Michael exploded as he hollered frustration.

He whipped around having heard Maria’s scream of surprise and fear. And so it began. Maria kept Michael, Max’s and Isabel’s secret, well kept it from everyone but her best friend Alex.

Michael, Max and Kyle had been best friends all through grade school and high school, but when Kyle’s dad, Sheriff Valenti, started snooping around about the explosions just outside his town they backed off. A few of the residents had told them they’d seen Michael’s bike out there as well as the Evans Jeep, and he’d begun asking Kyle questions about his childhood friends.

Kyle had kept doggedly after his friends concerned they were getting into things of an elicit nature, but was cut off at every turn. The dagger twisted as suddenly Max and Michael were hanging out with Maria Deluca and Alex Whitman, two people he’d never so much as seen then say hello to, and suddenly they were keeping secrets with them.

Kyle had done his best to just distance himself after a while, the pain of losing two boys he felt were his brothers and the girl he’d been harboring a crush on for years, Isabel, was too much. But. one day, when he saw Michael’s bruises in the boys bathroom he couldn’t stand idly by. He’d always suspected Hank beat Michael and asked his dad to check it out but every time he was met with Michael’s stone wall. Thanks for the concern, but keep the hell out of it.

Kyle had approached Max quietly and asked him if it was true. Max reluctantly admitted it to his old friend and the two hatched a plan to get Michael away from Hank. A week later Michael, with the help of Phillip Evans, had become and emancipated minor, complete with a job, his new girlfriend Maria had gotten him at the Crashdown and an apartment. Hank, on the sheriff’s orders left Roswell in a hurry and it seemed hadn’t looked back since.

Only when Max had been kidnapped by the Special Unit did Michael let Kyle in on what was really going on. That he, Max and Isabel were aliens that came in the crash of 1947 and hatched ten years earlier as apparently six-year-old children. Kyle could barely wrap his head around what Michael was telling him, but he knew somehow it was true. Everything his grandfather had raged on about, lost his job and credability over, was all true.

Kyle had convinced Michael and Isabel that his father could help them and desperate to get Max out they reluctantly agreed. In the effort to rescue Max, Kyle had been shot and Max healed his friend as his weeping father cradled him in his arms.

From that moment on the sheriff had pledged his loyalty to the aliens and their friends. It was a loyalty that grew over time into a lasting friendship and not one of obligation.

While Max had been initially resistant to Tess’s advances when she’d first come to town, but after finding out about destiny he relinquished any doubts and they began dating.

Later the next year, when Alex went off to Sweden no one thought anything of it until his return. His behavior was off and he wasn’t Alex anymore. He was withdrawn and almost cold. Kyle had joked that he’d spent too much time in the cold and it seeped into the normally cheerful boy’s veins.

Isabel had tried to dreamwalk Alex, but his for some reason he had found a way to block her, which was odd, but never sent up any red flags. People could shut Isabel out if they needed to.

After waiting patiently for nearly a year Tess finally got Max to sleep with her and the first time proved to be the charm, as she revealed to him the next day that she was pregnant.

What no one knew was that she had been using Alex, mindwarping him into getting the translation to the Destiny book and the key to the granolith. On the premise that their child couldn’t survive on Earth, Tess convinced Max and the others that this was their only way home.

After saying their goodbyes to Maria, Alex, Kyle and Jim the four aliens headed off to their ship and the new life that waited for them on Antar. None of them felt good about it. It was never like they’d pictured, feeling it abrupt and rushed.

It was then that Tess lost her grip on Alex. He along with the other humans had gathered at the Crashdown to wallow in their misery. Maria having just lost her virginity to a man who was leaving the planet forever, Michael. She wasn’t even sure if they loved each other like they should have, but at the time it felt so right.

Kyle, again facing losing his two best friends, the woman who let him into her heart, Isabel, and the girl he’d come to feel was his sister, Tess. And Jim was losing a psuedo-daughter.

Suddenly images began assaulting Alex. His time spent in Las Cruces. Tess’s orders. He fell to the ground holding his head as it came flooding back to him. The others tried their best to help him, but it wasn’t until he got every last memory back that he was able to tell them what was really happening. What Tess had done and was going to do.

They sped as fast as they could to the granolith chamber only to find it completely sealed. They screamed and hollered trying to do anything to get the other’s sttention. To stop them from being sent to their deaths.
They were about to give up when the rock face opened up and Isabel stepped out. She barely had time to register what Kyle was telling her about Tess, when they all went inside. It all came out about Tess’s plan to deliver Max, Michael and Isabel to Kivar as well as the heir to the throne of Antar, housed in her womb.

Having no time to spare everyone got out as Tess was rocketed into space carrying a part of Max with her. Isabel’s love for Kyle had saved them from what might have been a fate worse than death. Perhaps she really was more like Vilandra than she dared believe. Only this time choosing the love of another man over her brother had brought them life, not death.

With their one ticket home forever lost the aliens settled into their lives as humans. Max never gave up on the search for his son , no matter how many wild goose chases and dead ends he came to. But one thing that didn’t change in the wake of Tess’s departure was the Monday night meetings, except now it was just to be together and remind themselves they were still, an oddly functioning, family.

As with most meetings since that fateful summer the others expected this night’s to be over quickly. If only so that Michael and Kyle could go back to their respective homes and catch the nightly sports recap. The group spent a lot of time together during the week anyway so the weekly meeting was really a matter of habit and tradition. A comfort they clung to as tightly as they held onto each other.

Michael had just passed off cooking duties to one of the other chefs, when Maria took her break to greet Kyle, Isabel and Alex. She was content not to harass Michael that night, until she saw Jaime and Liz, in her “uniform”, walk through the door.

Acting quickly Maria grabbed Michael’s had and spun him around, away from the duo who had made their way over to the booth housing the other three.

“What?” Michael asked gruffly, not in anywhere close to a mood to put up with whatever Maria had on her mind, which was usually him.

“Nothing.” she said pasting a look of wide eyes innocence on her face, before letting a seductive grin touch her lips “Just wondering what you’re doing after the meeting.”

Michael rolled his eyes. He loved Maria, in the friend sense, and he hated that she couldn’t get past their relationship no longer being physical. But he was also, Michael, and always looked for a way to trip his old flame up.

“I’ve got a date.” he lied with a smirk.

Maria’s smile immediately faded to shock and then anger, “ Oh you do not! I would know.”

“Well, now you do.” Michael said doing his best not to laugh at the redness that came to Maria’s cheeks. She obviously believed him.

“With who?” she asked her face growing redder by the second.

“None of your business.” Michael teased, taking a step back to turn towards the others.

Once again Maria stopped him abruptly and her eyes fell behind Michael to Liz who was laughing about something Kyle said. She narrowed her focus back on Michael glaring.

“Wow Spaceboy.” she said raising her hands in frustration, “You know her for what... five minutes and you ask her out? News flash Michael! She!s living with someone else! An let’s not forget...” she lowered her voice to an insistent whisper, “You. Are. An. Alien.”

Michael looked at Maria dumbly, “Have you been sniffing the oven cleaner? Who the hell are you talking about?”

Michael was bewildered. He’d only been goading Maria, another weekly ritual. His real date consisted of some serious couch time and ESPN highlights. He was about to demand an answer again from Maria when he felt a tap on his shoulder.

Frustration and confusion still draped his face when he turned around to come face to face with, “Liz.”

~*~
TBC...


posted on 1-Dec-2002 2:41:17 AM
Chapter 3

Michael barely had time to register that Maria had thought that Liz was the girl she thought he’d made a date with and that his joke had somehow terribly misfired, when he saw the petite brunette looking up at him with a small smile and those damn brown eyes that instantly made him lose all coherent thought. Made him forget he was made of stone.

God, she was beautiful. And even with the smile on her face those eyes held a familiar sadness. A sadness if he could venture a guess was mirrored in Jaime’s eyes and led straight back to Jared.

Maria’s words began to bring him back to reality. The reminder that for a long list of reasons, Liz was off limits to him and no matter what this new feeling he was having for this beautiful stranger it was time to create a new wall.

“Hey,” he said looking away from Liz’s eyes, afraid he might lose his resolve.

But in taking his eyes away from hers he found himself assaulted by the rest of her. Her nose, lips neck, the tan expanse of her tummy the curve of her hip into her jeans... this was going to be more difficult than he’d anticipated.

He unconsciously closed his eyes and clenched his jaw, steeling himself once more before opening them again, “Did you need something?” he asked making sure to put some distance in his voice.

Liz’s smile fades upon hearing the sudden coldness in Michael’s tone. It would never match Jared’s, but for some reason it hurt more. She didn’t have much time to dwell on it when Jaime came up behind her his face beaming. How could she let him see her so sad when this was the happiest she’d seen him since their parents died?

“Um, actually Jaime and I needed to ask Maria something.” Liz said remembering her original purpose for walking up to the pair.

She too had, once again, been physically moved by Michael. Through the day’s work she could catch the scent that was him; hard work mixed with the desert air. She was sure they wasn’t anything else like it. And while she’d gotten an eyeful at the basketball court that morning, Liz couldn’t help but admire the way his worn t-shirt hugged the muscles of his arms. If only that damn apron hadn’t covered his chest...

What was it about this guy she’d only known for a moment, yet made her want to forget Jared’s threat and risk everything?

Michael stepped aside so Liz could speak with Maria, but stayed next to them wary that Maria’s jealous streak may touch Liz unwittingly. His eyes fell from Liz to Jaime, who was thankfully smiling up at him. Unfortunately he’d been right about the sadness; it touched the boy’s eyes as well. Michael had been haunted all day by the desperate look Jaime had given him when they left the park with Jared that afternoon. Every moment that day he wasn’t occupied with thoughts of Liz and the instant effect she had on him he was torn away by Jaime’s all too expressive eyes.

Michael gave Jaime a small smile and patted the boy on the back, letting him know that the cross look he wore was just for show. He nodded his head towards Maria and rolled his eyes. Jaime had to stifle a chuckle as he knew caught Michael’s gesture.

“What did you need?” Maria asked Liz, suddenly serene, giving Michael a moment’s pause but by no means any sort of hint that the green monster had completely faded, “And if you insist on paying for you’re meal you will offend most egregiously.”

Michael’s jaw nearly dropped. Not only was Maria being nice to Liz but she was using an SAT word. What the hell was she up to?

Liz smiled and then looked back at Jaime who nudged her sheepishly, “We were wondering if Jaime could put a notice up on your bulletin board?”

“Mowing lawns for your piggy bank?” Maria asked Jaime.

Jaime’s smiled faded, but not because of anything Maria had said. He repeated some of Jared’s words from that afternoon before he’d gone back to work, “Just need to earn my keep.”

“Have at it.” Maria said gesturing at the cork board by the front door of the cafe.

Michael was struck by the anger behind Jaime’s words. Had Maria not noticed how shaky his breath was; or the way Liz had reached and hand back to squeeze her brother’s after the words had been said?

Jaime nodded and walked back to the board while Liz stayed to thank Maria. Curiosity got the better of Michael and he followed Jaime.

“So what are you gonna do at night while Liz is at work?” Michael asked as Jaime scribbled his name and number on a piece of paper.

Jaime shrugged his shoulders, deciding no answer was better than the truth and he didn’t really want to lie to Michael. The truth was he’d lock himself in his room doing his best to avoid Jared until the older man passed out, went to bed or Liz came home, whichever came first.

Michael watched all of this play out on Jaime’s face. It was painfully obvious Jaime didn’t want to be in that house without his sister. Silence often gave away more than words ever did. Michael had learned that about himself a long time ago. If you don’t want people in you business or asking questions you weren’t inclined to answer you kept your mouth shut.
Michael looked around the cafe’ and scratched his eyebrow. He saw Liz looking over at them, biting her lip. She wore look of worry that Michael caught, she didn’t want Jaime alone in that house either.

That settled it for Michael. He could do his best to shut Liz out, she was an adult and could handle whatever it was that seemed to have the two of them sacred, but Jaime was just a kid and Michael felt an overwhelming need to protect him.

“Would your sister mind if you got home kinda late?” Michael asked, startling Jaime. Apparently he’d been too quiet or this boy was too jumpy.

“How late? Jaime asked, wondering what Michael was thinking and watched as he kept scratching his eyebrow.

“After ten.” Michael supplied.

“I don’t think she’d mind. Why?” Jaime said doing his best not to hope for what Michael was about to ask. Good things didn’t happen to him, at least not lately. And Jaime knew full well Liz had been looking for a way to keep him out of the house or away from Jared while she was at work.

“Well, Amy, Maria’s mom, was just telling me today we needed a new busser. I mean it’s hard work and the pay isn’t great but...”

“Are you serious?” Jaime asked unable to contain the smile that had come over his face.

“Serious about what?’ Liz asked as she and Maria approached Michael and Jaime.

“Well I was just offering Jaime here a job bussing tables. He can do it after school once that starts, but for now he can work during my shifts.” Michael explained, doing his best not to rake his eyes over Liz’s body.

Liz looked over at Jaime and saw the sheer joy in his eyes and knew she couldn’t say no, not that she wanted to, “Ok. But you do everything Michael tells you to and it cannot get in the way of school.”

“It won’t.” Jaime said excitedly, wanting to throw his arms around his sister, but also feeling a need to maintain some manly pride around Michael.

Michael couldn’t help, but smile at Jaime’s excitement and he felt a bit of pride being able to help someone else for once. But then he noticed Liz’s face fall a bit.

“But how will you get home?” she asked Jaime, “My shift doesn’t let out until after midnight sometimes later.” Jaime’s shoulders sagged. He knew it was too good to hope for.

“I’ll take him home.” Michael offered.
He would have liked to say it was a selfless gesture, but it wasn’t. This would give him a chance to meet Jared. Size him up, see if his feeling was true and be there if anything happened. Or at least let the son of a bitch know Jaime wasn’t unprotected.

“I don’t want to put you out...” Liz said, but Michael interrupted.

“You live in the old Johnson place right?” he asked. Jaime nodded emphatically, “My apartment is only a block over. It’s not out of my way.”

“What’s not out of your way?” Maria asked curious as to what the three had been discussing.

“Dropping Jaime off at his house.” Michael told her plainly.

“Why would you be doing that?” Maria pressed, her hands going to her hips.

“It’s called being friendly Maria.” Michael said sarcastically

“My point exactly, Michael. When are you ever friendly?” she challenged.

Liz and Jaime might have felt uncomfortable in the middle of what seemed to be a tense situation, but they were too busy fighting their laughter.

Maria was still waiting for an answer when Jaime started looking around at the tables seeing the empty ones loaded with dirty dishes. He started stacking them up and and headed toward the kitchen.

“Whoa! Little man.” Michael said stopping Jaime with his armload of dishes, “Why don’t you start after you eat.”

Jaime blushed and set the dishes down, nodding. Liz tousled her brother’s hair, “At least he’s eager.”

Michael watched them sit down, his eyes never leaving Liz’s... form. He tried to tell himself it was just the lack of activity he’d been suffering since his final break-up with Maria, but he knew that was lie. But how could it be more? He barely knew this girl. Damn it.

“Earth to Spaceboy!” Maria said haughtily, snapping her finger in front of his face.

“What?” Michael growled, annoyed she’d caught him watching Liz.

“What did you do?” she asked him as though he should know what he was talking about.

“You’re going to have to be more specific Maria.” Michael said rolling his eyes.

“The kid. The dishes. A ride home?” she said as though speaking to a small child.
“He’s our new busser.” Michael explained.

“He’s what?!” Maria practically screamed, “Did you NOT think to ask me first?”

Michael smirked, “That’s the advantage to being a co-manager. I get to make a decision like that.”

“Hello Michael” Maria fumed, “CO-manager! We discuss these things!

“So consider it a unilateral decision.” he said brushing past her to grab Jaime and Liz’s orders sitting in the pick-up window.

Maria was about take off after him when Max walked in. He saw the look on her face and chuckled, “What did Spaceboy do this time?”

~*~

As Jaime and Liz sat down next to Alex, Kyle and Isabel, she couldn’t help but watch Michael and Maria’s semi-heated exchange. Alex caught her and smiled.

“They used to date.” he answered her unspoken question.

“Ooohhh! Is that what they used to do?” Kyle scoffed, “I thought it was more a fuck or fight type of arrangement.”

Isabel smacked his arm and nodded her head towards a beat red Jaime. Kyle’s color matched the boys when he realized what he’d said in front of a kid, “Oh...damn.. uh ...sorry..”

“It’s okay,” Jaime said trying hard not to laugh, “I learned about ‘fighting’ a long time ago. Right Liz.”

Liz nodded, giggling at Kyle who was rubbing his arm, “That right. The birds the bees and Muhammad Ali.”

“They aren’t together anymore” Isabel pointed out also aware of Liz’s interest in Michael.

“ This week.” Alex said wistfully. Liz caught the sadness in Alex’s tone and wondered if he was harboring feelings for Maria.

“I don't know Whitman.” Kyle argued, “I think this time it’s gonna stick. Michael was pretty adamant about not getting back together with her. Said he ‘couldn’t handle the drama.’ Besides...” he said passing a glance over at Liz who was unaware, “I think he’s got other distractions of late.”

While Liz may have been oblivious to Kyle’s gesture at her, Jaime was not and could barely contain the grin at the remotest of possibilities that his sister could find some happiness for herself.

Isabel also caught the glance and kicked Kyle’s shin under the table.

“Ow! Woman, I’m going to have Dad haul you in for domestic abuse.” he mock threatened.

“Kyle is our couch comfortable?” Isabel asked sweetly.

“For sitting? Yeah.” Kyle answered not quite sure why his girlfriend was asking such a random question.

“Well if you want to find out is sleeping capabilities.... keep talking.” she answered, eliciting a chuckle from Liz, Alex and Jaime.

“Dude.” Jaime said wiping his eye, “I’m just a kid and I know you should shut up.”

Kyle made and animated gesture of closing his mouth as Michael brought over the food. He had to make a decision. Michael knew sitting next to Liz would be way too much for his senses so he decided on sitting next to Jaime and Alex. As soon as he sat down he regretted it as he was greeted with a genuine smile from Liz.

“What you guys laughing about?” he asked trying to distract himself.

“Kyle’s impending date with a couch...” Liz supplied, “... famous boxers....and sex.”

“All appropriate dinnertime conversation in front of a ten-year-old.” Alex joked.

“That’s one hell of a fantasy you got going there Whitman.” Michael said laughing.

“Sure, pick on the geek.” Alex huffed.

“You ready for work?” Maria asked Liz plopping down next to Michael, leaning against him possessively

“Um,” Liz said looking down, suddenly uncomfortable seeing this other girl pressed up against Michael, “Yeah. I guess so. Feeling like a piece of meat, but what the hell.” she referred to her uniform.

“I think you look fine.” Michael said, intending it to have been a comment he made in his mind, but quickly followed it up. Distance man. “... for a bartender.”

“Thanks.” Liz said a little bewildered by Michael’s changing tone. Hot and cold. Pick a temperature already.

Max eventually joined them and they spent the next half hour talking and laughing. Not one word was mentioned about Jared, by some sort of mutual, yet unspoken agreement. Seems Michael and Jim weren’t the only one’s to sense the strain when his name was mentioned.
Liz looked at the Crashdown clock and excused herself. She said goodbye to Jaime and thanked Michael for giving him the job.

“Hey.” Michael said as she headed out the door, “Be careful.”

“I can take care of myself.” Liz said, “ They’ll be putty in my hands.”

“More like rock hard.” Michael said without thinking.

Liz blushed and went out to the truck. “Rock hard?” Michael muttered to himself.

~*~

Jaime worked diligently that night. He wanted to prove to Michael hiring him wasn’t a mistake. When the Crashdown closed and the other’s hung around for the meeting Max pulled Michael aside, obviously annoyed about something.

“What the hell are you doing?” Max asked him cryptically.

“Are and Maria sniffing the same oven cleaner? Be more specific. I tend to screw up a lot.”

“Liz and Jaime.” Max said dumbly, “You know we can’t get involved with them.”

“Yeah Max. I know, but thanks for the reminder.” Michael said sarcastically.

“Seems to me you do.” Max argued, “Giving Jaime a job here... Ogling Liz every time you see her.”

“I do not ogle Liz.” Michael growled, “I’ve been around her twice and...”

“And you’re already falling for her.” Max interrupted.

Michael bit the inside of his cheek. He hated it when Max was right, but he wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction, “Bullshit, Max. Liz is...”

“Beautiful?” Max supplied.

“Easy on the eyes.” Michael corrected, “I’d be dead if I didn’t notice her. Hell, I even caught you watching her this afternoon.”

“Wha.. I didn’t...” Max faltered, “Well, like you said, you’d have to be dead. But that’s not the point. We agreed after Tess...” he paused for a moment bitterly remembering the mother of his long lost child, “ We agreed not to let anyone else in.”
“I was there remember.” Michael bit out, “We’ve known them for two days Max, that doesn’t mean I’m signing them up for our little club.”

“I know Michael, “Max softened, “But I wanted to stop this before anything starts.”

“ This?” Michael scoffed, “There is no this! As Maria pointed out to me today, Liz belongs to someone else.”

“And Jaime?” Max countered.

Michael ran his hands through his hair. He wanted to tell Max his suspicions, but he was fairly certain it would fall on deaf ears. Max would never understand that kind of pain. But he knew something that Max might listen to.

“He’s an orphan, Max. Like us. Except not. In a way I think we got the better deal never knowing who our real parents were. And at least you had the Evans. Jaime knows what it’s like to have parents and now they’re gone. We didn’t really know what we missed.”

Max opened his mouth to argue, but then closed it quickly. Michael had struck a chord. He tried to imagine losing his own parents and the thought shook him. He was an adult. He could only imagine what it was like for a child Jaime’s age.

“But he does have Liz, Michael. And Jared.” Max reasoned.

Michael bristled, “ I doubt that.”

“What are you talking...” Max asked, but was interrupted when Jaime came in with the last bin full of dirty dishes.

“Oh... sorry.” he said sheepishly, “I was just...gonna take these...”

“Don’t worry about it.” Michael waved Jaime off then turned his glance to Max, “Max and I are done. Go put those in the washer and I’ll make you a sundae.”

“Cool.” Jaime said with a smile and headed to the sink.

Michael went to follow him, but Max grabbed his arm, “What about the meeting?”

Michael rolled his eyes, “When is the last time we discussed anything remotely alien at these meetings Max? I’m gonna take Jaime to his place and then I’m gonna go home and veg. That okay with you?”

Max clenched his jaw and nodded. Michael started to walk away again when Max called out to him, “Keep your distance soldier.”

Michael glared at him as they parted ways

~*~

After sundaes at the Crashdown, sans Tabasco, Michael didn’t want to freak the kid out, he and Jaime walked out to his motorcycle.

“This is your ride?” Jaime asked with wide eyes.

“Yeah,” Michael said patting the the bike, “ It’s not much...”

“It’s phat.” Jaime said eying it, “You build it yourself?”

Michael nodded with pride, “You like motorcycles?”

“Are you kidding?” Jaime said as though it was the dumbest question on the planet, “Back at the farm my dad and I...” his breath hitched at the mention of his father. He bit back the tears and looked away, ashamed he’d shown any sort of weakness. “We were restoring an Indian, It woulda been sweet.”

“I bet,” Michael agreed letting Jaime’s moment of grief go by unspoken. He knew he hated when people saw him cry. He handed the boy his helmet and got on, “We’ll have to get you one if this arrangement sticks.”

Michael felt Jaime nod behind him and grip his waist and they roared off down the street.

Ten minutes later they pulled in front of Jaime’s house. The light was on and they could both see Jared on the couch going over some papers. Jaime got off the bike and handed Michael his helmet, looking up at the house.

Michael saw that same look come over Jaime’s face that he’d seen at the park earlier that day. Fear and trepidation. He didn’t want to go in that house alone.

The boy looked back at Michael scratching his forehead, trying to hide his fear, “Uh.. thanks for the ride... and the job.”

Michael nodded. Max’s words were ringing in his ears. “Keep you distance soldier.” But he couldn’t get that look on Jaime’s face out of his mind.

“You want me to go in there with you?” Michael asked Jaime, “Explain things to Jared? Make sure he’s cool with it?”
Jaime visibly relaxed and Michael saw the relief in his eyes. The boy tried to play it cool, “Um... yeah sure.. if you want.”

Michael got off the bike and set his helmet on the handlebars and walked to the door with Jaime. As they walked through the door Jared rose to his feet, taking an intimidating stance his nightly ritual of whiskey swirling in a half empty glass.

“I know I’m late...” Jaime started to explain, but Jared held up his hand and smiled.

“Don’t worry about it.” he said in an uncharacteristically nonchalant voice, “Your sister called and explained everything to me.”

“Just earning my keep.” Jaime bit out not buying an ounce of the charm Jared was putting on for show.

“Little hard work never killed anyone,” Jared said. Michael watched the boy’s body tense up, “Who’s your friend?” Jared asked gesturing at Michael.

“Michael Guerin. I hired Jaime.” he said extending his hand to Jared.

“Jared Delaney.” he said taking Michael’s hand, wincing slightly when Michael out gripped him, “Uh.. you were in the park this morning weren’t you?”

Michael nodded, “Yeah. Jaime was unfortunate enough to be my two on two partner.”

“So then you met my Lizzie. Quite a girl isn’t she?” Jared pressed.

No one really knew how long Jared had been standing there that morning. He saw the looks that passed between the Liz and Michael. This guy was trouble.

“You’re a lucky man.” Michael said with a plastic smile. Jared nodded in agreement.

Jared turned his attention to Jaime and nearly glared, “Why don’t you go to bed, Squirt. You’ve had a long day.”

Jaime looked up at Michael and he nodded at him to go on. He wasn’t going to leave until he was sure Jaime was safe and secure in his room. “I’ll see you tomorrow. Same time.”

“Okay,” Jaime said brushing past Jared, not meeting his eyes, and walking quickly back to his room. Just before he stepped inside her called back, “Good night Michael.”

“Night little man.” Michael said and watched Jaime close the door. He waited to hear the snik of the lock before turning his attention back to Jared, “He’s a good kid.”
“If you say so.” Jared answered his words slurring slightly, “You want a drink?”

Michael shook his head, “No thanks. Don’t drink.” he said, for more than just the reason that aliens didn’t tolerate alcohol.

“We all have our vices.” Jared said taking another large gulp from the glass, “What’s your’s Mr. Guerin?”

Michael shrugged his shoulders in no mood to play a drunk man’s game. Jared laughed, “By the looks of you.... my guess is pretty girls.”

“Don’t know a man who doesn’t have that vice.” Michael scoffed.

“Well, just stay away from mine and we’ll get along fine.” Jared said evenly, but Michael caught the malice behind the words.

Choosing to ignore the statement, Michael excused himself, “I’m just gonna go. I’d say it was nice to meet you...”

“But you’d be lying.” Jared finished.

Michael smirked and walked out the door. He was straddling his motorcycle when Liz drove up in her truck parking in the driveway. She got out looking at the window for a moment. Jared was nowhere in sight, most likely refilling his drink in the kitchen. Deciding to risk it, Liz approached Michael.

“You’re home early.” Michael noticed.

He’d told himself a thousand times in his head he was just going to leave without a word. Two men tonight had told him to stay away from her and he was inclined to agree with them, but the second she started walking in his direction Michael felt frozen. No, not frozen. Truth was he felt hot all over and he swore he’d broken out in a sweat. Great stone wall Guerin. Distance remember?

But it seemed logic took a holiday because Michael didn’t move. And moreover, he didn’t want to.

“We were dead.” Liz explained. “Mondays aren’t huge bar nights. Crappy tips, but at least the crowd isn’t as...”

“Rowdy?” Michael asked.

“Grabby.” Liz corrected. Michael nodded his understanding, “Jaime do okay tonight?”

“Yeah he’s a real pro.” Michael said, not sure where his sudden swell of pride came from.
“Well he’s a smart kid. Always has been.” Liz said with a smile.

“Can I ask you something? Michael asked her scratching his eyebrow. A faint breeze picked up and through the bar’s cigarettes smoke, Michael caught the scent of Liz’s hair, lavender. He had to close his eyes for a moment, wondering if her skin smelled half as wonderful or was nearly as silky as her hair seemed to be.

“Michael?” Liz asked shaking his shoulder slightly. Michael opened his eyes realizing hed spaced out for a moment.

“Uh.. sorry... I'm kinda tired.” he lied, “Um, you don’t have to answer this if you don’t want... But how did you’re parents die?”

Michael watched as Liz mimicked Jaime’s reaction outside the Crash to the mention of their parents. Liz took a deep breath, “Car accident. A really bad car accident.”

“I’m sorry.” Michael said, kicking himself for having caused her any pain, “Were you two with them?” Liz shook her head quickly.

Michael paused for a moment before pressing, “And Jared... how did you two...?

“Hook up?” Liz finished, trying to bite back the lie she’d have to tell. Michael nodded, “He handled a lot of the legal work for my parents farm.” which was the truth, but next part she nearly had to choke out, “He was really there for us when Mom and Dad died.”

“He and Jaime don’t get along do they?” Michael said bluntly.

Liz was a little taken aback by Michael’s question, but expected nothing less from him, “You got that, huh?”

Michael nodded, “Kinda obvious. What about you and Jared?” he decided to press his luck.

“It’s been stressful, “Liz said deciding to be vague.

“I bet.” Michael muttered.

“What?” Liz asked not quite having heard him.

“Nothing.” Michael said shaking his head, “Look I gotta go. Opening in the morning.”

“Right,” Liz said, hating to see him go, “Thanks for giving Jaime that job. It means a lot to him... and me.”
Liz turned to leave and all Michael could think is he didn’t want her to leave. He didn’t want her to go back in that house with... him. On instinct he reached out his hand catching hers. He regretted it the second it happened for everything he felt the moment he touched he skin. He swore the air crackled around them and a fire burned in his hands and spread through his body, that he didn’t want put out. He read the same thing on Liz’s face when she turned her head to look at him.

Michael reluctantly dropped his hand, shaken by the sensations running through him. Without a word he threw on his helmet and gunned the engine of his bike riding off into the night.

He knew touching Liz would be dangerous, but this was ridiculous. and all he could think about was finding a way to touch her again.

~*~

Liz stood in the driveway mouth agape as Michael drove away. She hadn’t counted on the sensations that passed through her when he took her hand. It was as if all the electricity that sparked between them concentrated in that one touch and she felt it in every nerve. And all should could think was she’d scared him away. It was for the best. For his own protection. Right?

“He’s not yours to have, Parker.” she muttered to herself, as she walked up to her front door.

Liz was so lost in thought and trying to regain her composure she didn’t notice the back of Jared’s hand until it smashed across her face and the burn that followed from this touch was one of intense pain.

~*~
TBC...


posted on 3-Dec-2002 1:21:13 PM
Chapter 4

The shock and force of the blow sent Liz falling to the hardwood floor with a yelp. She’d felt the pain the instant the back of Jared’s hand met her cheek and would have to count the seconds before her adrenaline would kick in and numb the burning on her flesh.

When Liz caught up with the last few seconds of her life she looked up at Jared with a glare. He was seething and rage burned in his eyes. Liz should have been scared, but one too many run-ins with this man since her parents had died had made her immune. She only hoped Jaime either hadn’t heard or would do exactly as she’d told him. Stay in his room.

Liz eyes fell to Jared’s drink still firmly in his hand and laughed, “Well at least you didn’t spill old Jack.” she motioned at the whiskey.

“You know for someone who’s on the floor you have a lot of...” Jared began his voice graveled with anger.

“Practice?” Liz asked sarcastically.

“Balls, Lizzie.” Jared corrected. “You have a lot of balls.”

“Someone has to.” Liz muttered at the moment not caring if Jared heard her. If she was in for another beating she wanted to make sure she earned it.

She pushed herself up off the ground to stand when Jared grabbed her by the hair yanking her up the rest of the way. Tears of pain sprang to her eyes and she cursed herself for showing any weakness around him. It was one thing if her held most of the cards, but she needed to keep a few for herself.

“I’m assuming I did something to deserve this, “ Liz ground out closing her eyes tight as Jared’s grip tightened. “... or have you decided on random acts of violence?”

“Stay away from Michael.” Jared said menacingly.

It all made sense now. He must have been watching she and Michael through the kitchen window. Their touch was only for a moment, but it would have been enough for Jared if Liz let held her gaze upon the long haired man for so much as a millisecond too long.

Jared tightened his grip on her hair, “I saw you two in the park today, and just now... you don’t get involved with anyone remember?”

“Particularly good looking men, who don't hit their fake girlfriends?” Liz countered, knowing it would incur Jared’s sizable wrath.

Being as tiny as she was, Jared had little difficulty in throwing her up against the wall knocking the breath from her.
“Play the role Elizabeth, or you know what happens. And while you’ve got one hell of a mouth on you I think you know when to keep it shut. Are we clear?”

“I’ll play the role, Jared” she bit out, “But no matter how bad you want it, it'll never be true.”

Jared smiled, shaking his head in laughter. He turned to walk away from her, the spun around punching her in the stomach. Liz’s knees buckled, and she double over fighting for breath. Jared knelt next to her gripping her chin to face him.

“Are we clear?” he asked again, his voice low and cold.

“Crystal.” Liz coughed out.

“Good.” he said standing up to walk away, “I’m going to bed. And Liz?”

“What?” Liz grumbled.

“I’m a patient man.” he nearly sang, disappearing into his room.

“Not in this lifetime.” Liz mumbled hoisting herself off the floor and staggering to the bathroom to clean up.

Liz saw Jaime’s desk side lamp glowing faint from under his door. With the racket Jared had caused it had more than likely woken him up if he’d been asleep. Liz decided to clean herself up before talking to him.

She entered the bathroom and squinted against the harsh light. She wasn’t greeted with a much better sight in the mirror. Her hair was mussed and knotted in the spot Jared hand tangled his hand into. Her cheek was red and swollen. Definitely going to bruise.

“Can’t have that.” Liz said mocking Jared’s tone.

She closed her eyes placing her hand over the the injured area. She felt the healing warmth sooth the ache on her skin. When she opened her eyes the skin was back to it’s flawless olive smoothness, unmarred by violence.

Liz picked up her hairbrush off the counter and began running it through her tangled hair. She winced when she passed over the tender spot where, her raven locks had been yanked. Her eyes filled with tears and she bit her lip to fight them back. she had to be strong. She couldn’t let Jared know he was breaking her with each strike of his fist or callous word. Whether laced with alcohol or without the drunken haze, each time it robbed her of a little more of her dignity.

She turned the faucet on and splashed some cold water on her face to drown out the warm salty tears of her suffering. As she brushed her teeth she ran her hand over her tender belly. There would be no mark and her breathing had returned to normal. She always wondered how it was Jared knew just where to land a blow, that would cause the most pain.

Taking a deep breath Liz opened the door, ready to make up the couch for bed. She shuffled quietly past Jaime’s room and hearing the faint drunken snoring of Jared near the back of the house in his bedroom.

Her breath caught when at the sight that greeted her in the living room. Jaime was tucking in the corners of the sheets she would lay on and setting the pillow down.

He’d heard every word, every blow his sister suffered at the hands of the man he hated most in the world. Knowing she’d be tired, he snuck out while she was in the bathroom hoping to sneak back to his room before she came out.

Things were always the quietest in these moments. They both knew how wrong it was, but at the time they didn’t know how to change it. Jaime left the quilt folded on the arm of the couch and approached Liz carrying her pajamas. Liz accepted them with a brave smile, trying to convince her baby brother that she wasn’t hurt.

Jaime bit his lip, seemingly a Parker mannerism, debating on whether to speak or just let the moment pass. Liz toyed with an imaginary thread on her pajama, biting her own lip.

Jaime saw past the brave front she was putting on and wrapped his arms around his sister’s waist, resting his head against her shoulder. Liz squeezed him back. The loving touch of her brother could almost erase the pain she’d suffered not twenty minutes earlier.

Liz kissed the top of Jaime’s head as he released her and silently went back to his room, locking the door behind him, leaving Liz to ready herself for bed. Knowing that since the day their parents died her dreams would cause her more pain than Jared could ever hope to deliver.

~*~

For the next two weeks Michael and Liz followed the advice of their respective companions and stayed away from each other. Although they could stop the awkward moments when they happened to be in the same store or when Liz would drop Jaime off at the Crashdown f