posted on 2-Jan-2003 6:35:18 PM
Author: Lauren
Email: lcoffman⊕ or laurenc2135⊕
Rating: R - because of my liking to the F Word.
Timeline: Up to The End of the World
Notes: I might have started this here at RF before, but I couldn't find the old thread. So, here's a new thread and it will hopefully attract some new readers too! I LOVE feedback and it really does inspire me to write more.

Prologue: "Only a Soldier"

The name's Michael Guerin. No, it's not Mike, Mikey and never ever "Mikey G."

Honestly, I don't care if you believe me or not, but I was in the 1947 Roswell, New Mexico crash. I'm not a 53-year-old alien in an 18-year-old body. What actually happened was that I was in a pod for 35 years, maturing, incubating… just waiting. There were four of us. Apparently, we were sent to Earth in a set of four incubation pods. The pods were set up by our protector, scratch that, former protector, Nasedo.

He was a shitty excuse for a protector to say the least.

After hauling our four pods from the crash site to some cave, the old fucking bastard up and left us there. Sure, he came back 35 years later, just in time for Tess to "hatch" but the rest of us were long gone. Who are the "rest of us" you ask? Max and Isabel Evans. The three of us all came out of the pods at the same time and in typical Michael Guerin style, I didn't wait up for them and ran off into the desert - alone. They were adopted, while I was placed in a foster home with Hank, a lousy excuse for a foster parent or a person for that matter. Years and years passed with the three of us clueless about who we really were.

A few months ago, thanks to a long series of events that started with Max healing Liz Parker on the floor of the Crashdown Café, lead us to finding out who we really were and why we were sent to Earth. Apparently, our home planet is fighting in a war and the four of us, Max, Isabel, Tess and myself all died. On our planet we were called "The Royal Four."

Max was the King.

Tess was his Bride.

Isabel was a Princess and a warrior.

Me? I was the Second in Command, basically only a soldier.

I am a soldier. I am a stonewall… and I protect my "family." It's my job.

All right, let me explain who I consider "my family." My family is all the people that I have trusted with my secret and because they know who we all really are have risked their lives for me. It's the least that I could do, look out for them… protect them. Max and Isabel, Tess, Liz Parker, Maria DeLuca, Alex Whitman, and the Valenti's are the people I consider my closest family. They deserve my protection.

Because I am a soldier, because I protect my family… they are the reasons why I got into this current situation… you know what, fuck this vague bullshit… because I am a soldier and because I protect my family is how I ended up falling madly in love with Liz Parker.

Chapter One: The End of the World

Every night, I have the same routine. I make the rounds. Around midnight, I start checking in on all of my friends to see if they are okay. First, I start at Maria's, then check on the Sheriff, Kyle and Tess since they live close by. After that I head over to Alex's across town, then check on Max and Isabel and finally check on Liz before I head home to my apartment. There is method to my madness… I check on Max and Liz last because I figure that by time I get to the Crashdown I wouldn't walk in on Max and Liz.

Last thing I need to see is Maxwell getting it on.

It was a colder that usual night for October, the night that everything started. I had my hands buried deep into the pockets of my oversized jacket and I was hurriedly walking to my last stop of the night - The Crashdown Café. The streets were very quiet as I found myself underneath Liz's balcony in front of the Crashdown. Everything was quiet… except for the sound of muffled sobs.

For a moment, a long moment, I was frozen in place. My mind at first told me just to leave, just let Liz alone right now, that she was strong enough to handle whatever it was without my help.

no… go to her, Michael… I reasoned with myself. The thought in itself surprised me, but then again, Liz was a part of my pseudo-family and if she was up on her balcony crying then I obviously didn't protect her.

Feeling the cold metal of her fire escape under my hands, I quickly climbed up and saw Liz sitting on her lounge chair, hugging her knees and quietly sobbing. Not the loud bawling crying that someone do, just the quiet sobs of utter defeat. I quietly walked closer, I could see her slim shoulders shaking from the cold and from whatever pain she went through. "Liz." I whispered as I hunched down in front of her and gently touched her shoulder. "Are you okay? Did someone hurt you?"

Liz slowly lifted her head up and looked me in the eye and shook her head. Her face was blotchy and tear stained from crying apparently for a long time. Her mouth opened to say something and then she quickly bit back another sob as her eyes teared up once again.

"C'mere." I did the only thing I thought that could make her feel better, I'm no good at words anyway... I gathered Liz into my arms and held her as she cried. For a moment, we just stayed there, me kneeling on the ground holding her. Then I moved onto the lounge chair and continued to hold her against me. As I held her, I gently ran one of my hands down her dark chocolate colored hair, trying in vain to soothe her.

She had hair like chocolate silk.

She smelled of vanilla and … something else I couldn't put my finger on.

She smelled good.

She felt soft.

She… Get a grip Guerin! I commanded myself before my thoughts wandered any further into the gutter. Here is Liz crying her eyes out against me and I start thinking about thinks I should NOT be thinking about with her. I pushed anymore bad thoughts out of my head and concentrated on Liz, who had stopped crying. I tightened my arms around her in a hug and squeezed her briefly. "Feel better?" I asked.

"Feel stupid."

"C'mon Liz. Can you tell me what happened? I can't protect you… and everyone else, if I don't know these things." I whispered looking her in the eye.

Liz pulled back and looked at me and blushed a little. "I'm sorry - I can't… Michael, it's nothing anyway." She whispered and wiped her eyes.

"That's bullshit Liz. I've seen you handle the police, FBI, school authorities, your parents, Maria's mom… all in perfect stride. You even handled keeping Max at a distance… You're stronger than I am on a lot of levels. Something big and terrible is bothering you… or else you wouldn't act this way. That's why I know you need help now." I told her, letting a little anger creep into my words. "I'm supposed to be the protector, damn it! So let me know what's going on so I can protect you!"

"I don't think I've ever heard you say that many words at one time before, Michael." Liz replied and stood up.

My body immediately protested from the lack of her warmth beside me, but I ignored it for now. "Liz. Don't try to skirt the issue. Tell me. I won't tell anyone else. Not Max, not Is. Remember your journal - I never told anyone and from what I gathered, neither did you. You can trust me again, Liz." Crossing my arms, I leaned back on the chair and added, "Besides. I'm not leaving this patio until you tell me. You're parents are going to be confused in the morning if I'm still here."

I watcher her bite her lip in frustration, knowing I wasn't going to be backing down anytime soon. She sighed, a soft quiet sigh of resignation and started pacing in front of me. "Max visited me yesterday. Except it wasn't this Max. It was a Max from 14 years in the future. He said he had used the Granolith to come back in time to get me to do something. He wanted me to push this Max, our Max towards Tess. Max said that in the future, he and I… uh… got really close about this time and Tess was angry and left. She went over to the Skins, Michael and without her, you guys were an incomplete unit."

I sat upright in her chair and stared at Liz. I knew Maria hadn't told her about the Granolith, so it was true in some strange way. Liz isn't the person to tell wild stories, she's always been honest to all of us… but I couldn't believe that Tess could betray all of us. "Go on, Liz."

She took a deep breath. "Two weeks before Max came, he told me that Isabel died in his arms. You died two hours before he came. He knew that he had to come and try to change things. Max and I we're not supposed… to be… together." Liz finally sat down next to me. "So, I arranged that Max would see me and… Kyle… in bed together and naturally assume…"

"…that you two had sex and gotten back together…"

"Yeah. I can understand if Max and I…" Liz took a deep breath, "can never BE together, but I don't think I can forgive myself for hurting him. God, Michael… You didn't see the look on his face. It was like it shattered."

I briefly closed my eyes and the image of Maria seeing Courtney and I kissing - flashed before my mind. Maria would never understand that I was just trying to figure out what was Courtney's deal… She only got angry, but I felt bad that she had to see that…

"I know what you mean." I whispered to Liz and wrapped my arm around her shoulders. With another sigh, Liz leaned against me wearily. "Don't worry Liz. I'm sure that…"

"Don’t say that things will work out, Michael. I'm not that lucky."

"Hey! I wasn't going to say that, Miss Parker." I said, pulling back and looking at her. "What I was going to say, was that, I'm sure that we will find a way to get through all of this, okay?"

Liz smiled. It wasn't a huge smile, just a small one, but it made me feel like I was doing something okay. "I never would have figured…that you…"

I smirked. "I wouldn't either… Maybe I guess I just understand what you go through sometimes. Listen, why don't you try to go inside and get some rest? We can talk about everything, later, okay?" I stood and helped Liz to her feet.

Liz nodded and started to walk away when suddenly she spun around and hugged me tightly around my waist. "Thank you, Michael."

Hesitantly, I stroked her hair and murmured, "It's okay Liz. Thank you… for saving my life, once again." When she pulled away, again, I was struck by the loss of her warmth, but tried to ignore it. "Good night, Liz." I said as I turned and walked over to the fire escape about to jump to the ground below.

"Good Night, Michael."

[ edited 3 time(s), last at 11-Jan-2003 9:25:49 PM ]
posted on 3-Jan-2003 1:42:27 PM
Chapter Two

The impact of the ground against my feet jarred me to my senses. I was just comforting my best friend's, not to mention my *kings* main love interest… and to make matters much worse - I enjoyed it. Probably too much for my own good. I shivered and immediately missed the warmth of Liz by my side…

What the hell am I thinking? I thought I was over all of this. Okay - just between you and me - I used to have a crush on little sweet Lizzy Parker when I first started school. Yeah, yeah. Maybe it was because Liz Parker was the only person in school besides Max and Isabel that would talk to me, let alone give me the time of day.
But in typical Michael Guerin style - I figured that it wasn't that big of a deal. I had gotten over it once before and this was just a little setback that I could overcome.

I started walking towards my apartment, hands deep in my pockets again, my mind deep in thought. Not really thinking, managed to find myself cutting through Roswell's main park, walking down a rather secluded pathway. Then suddenly, the sound of running footsteps further up the pathway caused me to stop dead in my tracks - then dive over the bushes to my right.

"Fuck." I muttered as a pulled the sharp rock that I landed on out of my side and peered through the bushes, listening to the sound of approaching footsteps. I could feel the white hot power start up in my hands as I prepared myself for the worst. Suddenly, I saw a brief flash of colors as the person ran by me and continued down the path. "What the hell?"

Ten minutes later I was creeping down the pathway, peering into the clearing at the end. C'mon did you expect me NOT to investigate the person that was running through Roswell Park at 3am in the morning? Okay, maybe I should of called Max or something, but that was probably the furthest thing from my mind. As the clearing came into the view - I was shocked to see Max sitting there forlornly on a bench.

But I was even more shocked to see Maria consoling him.

My emotions of seeing Maria holding a miserable Max ran the complete gamut… Surprise, Jealously, Anger -- but most importantly - Confusion.

A part of me wanted to step forward and find out what was going on, but then I remembered that not too long ago - I was holding Liz the same way. I couldn't get mad at Max or Maria for anything when I was just doing the same thing to Liz. The other part of me couldn't help but drift back to the moments where I was with Liz.

Damnit - get a grip Guerin. I crept forward a little more to listen to their conversation.

"Maria - why? Why would Liz DO that to me?" Max whispered.

Maria quietly sighed and wrapped her arms tighter around Max. She leaned her head against his dark brown hair and told him, "Girlfriend… I have no idea. It makes me so mad that she could DO that to you when she knew full well that Michael did the SAME thing to me…"

"Wait - Michael cheated on you?"

"I guess… I mean - we haven't been together officially since May - but I still always thought of us together." Maria shrugged. "But that totally died when I saw him making out with COURTNEY."

I cringed to myself behind the bushes. I had completely forgotten about the Courtney thing. Honestly, I wasn't attracted to her, but I felt it was my duty to do a little "reconnaissance" missions to find out some information. You know, since my "King" was too busy worrying about his love life and not the fate of an entire world. Maria has NO faith in me and apparently thinks I'm a total idiot. I mean, anyone could tell that Courtney was a complete total slut.

And now I know she's a *skin* too. Would Max have figured out this information? I highly doubt it. Sometimes between you and me - Max is really a selfish person. He will only care about things when they're important to HIM and him only. I get honestly sick of making all the sacrifices for him only to have him spout off his goodliness to me.

"Max - don't worry. I'll be here for you always." Maria's quiet whisper broke me from my inner thoughts.

"Thanks." Max whispered and hugged Maria tightly. "I'm glad that I finally have someone that I can count on."

Whatever Max. I snorted in disgust from my hiding place. I guess my sticking my head out for you, so you wouldn't have to disrupt your perfect life, since my life was a joke, doesn't count. I guess all the times that LIZ has risked so much for you - doesn't count either. Sometimes I wonder if Max is completely blind. He'll never know how much heartache Liz caused herself when all she was doing was looking out for Max first.

In fact, none of us aliens ever appreciated Liz… but I was planning on changing that. It was the least I could do, she saved my life tonight.

I watched Max and Maria quietly leave together - Max wanting to make sure that Maria got to the Jetta okay. With a sigh, I turned by back to Max and Maria and continued my walk home. It was easy to not think about Max and Maria. However, the thoughts of Liz were more difficult to get out of my head.

She had that effect on you - whether she knows it or not.

posted on 4-Jan-2003 9:44:50 PM
Chapter Three: Protection

It was 10:30am before I was able to drag myself to school, the next day. School was never my favorite place to be, but I still had to go… Occasionally. It's not really my fault that I was late today, so don't blame me.

Blame Liz Parker.

Really. I couldn't get her out of my head last night. Her voice, her ultimate sacrifice for all of us, everything… There was nothing I could do to fall asleep, even clamping my pillow over my head in frustration did me no damned good. So, I didn't get much sleep last night. Hey, I'm still in time for 3rd period, well, that is if I hurried.

The halls of West Roswell High were packed with people, some of them laughing, others just walking to their next class, while others were talking between themselves…

… and throughout all the noise, I was able to instantly pick out Maria's shrieking voice.

"How could you DO that to him?!"

Genius, I'm not, but I'm not a dumbass either. I quickened my pace towards Maria's voice and reasoned that you=Liz, him=Max and that= was have sex with Kyle Valenti, or at least pretend to. Rounding the corner, I spotted Maria yelling angrily at a pale Liz who was leaning weakly against her locker. Maria was waving her arms, yelling and pointing and as usual creating a big scene.

"Well, Liz? Do you have any explanation for this?" Maria continued to yell at Liz as I finally reached them.

Just as Liz opened her mouth to speak, I stepped in between her and Maria. My hardest glare instantly stopped whatever snide comment Maria was about to make. "Just back off, okay Maria…" I growled quietly at her.

Maria's eyes widened and then narrowed as she let loose her usual fury at me. "Michael. One two timer defending another! It makes me sick how you could just throw me away from that trash Courtney and how Liz pushes Max away for Kyle!" She yelled, trying to look around my body to make her point especially known to Liz.

Suddenly, Liz stepped around me to face Maria. " 'Ria, please… Just listen to me. You have to trust…"

"No. I don't Liz. I don't think Max or myself will ever trust you…" Her blue eyes looked up and connected with me as she poked me in the chest, "… or you PALY, again." Maria spun on her heel and stalked away from Liz and I. Talking a deep breath, I turned to face Liz. The dark black circles under her eyes and the paleness of her skin showed what stress she was under from this entire Future Max bullshit. I raised my eyebrows at her in the obvious question.

"I'm fine Michael. She's just… angry. I guess." Liz whispered and wearily leaned back against her locker again.

"Look, Liz. If you want, we can take off. I mean, I'm never at school anyway and I'm sure that you can miss a day. You look exhausted." I reasoned with her, because I didn't like the way she was looking. I honestly thought that she could very possibly pass out from the stress of the "End of the World" and now Maria.

Liz opened her mouth to reply, but before I could hear her response, her eyes flashed with recognition to something behind me. I watched her instantly pale in a matter of seconds.

Trying not to be completely obvious, I casually turned and leaned against the row of student lockers. Scanning the crowd of students, I finally saw the one thing that could affect Liz Parker like this.

Maxwell Evans - "My King."

If his eyes could burn holes into Liz, there would be two burn marks on her shirt. His face was an angry mask as he glared and us from across the hallway of West Roswell High. I didn't think that Maxwell would turn into a stalker, but that look on his face unnerved even me. Turning to my left, I looked at Liz.

"You know what?" Liz murmured, "I think that I can use a break today." She could feel Max's eyes on her and she refused to even look in his direction. I nodded and placed one hand on her back as I guided her of out West Roswell and to my motorcycle. As we walked out, I could feel Max's eyes on me the entire time.

I guess that I wasn't going to make it to third period after all.

I pulled to a stop in front of my apartment building parked my bike and looked expectantly at Liz behind me. I felt Liz's arms untangle themselves from around my waist as she swung her legs off the bike and jumped off. I swung my other leg over and saw Liz's shining eyes and brown hair in a tangled mess. She looked… well…

Okay FINE. I'll admit it. She looked beautiful.

"How did you like it?" I asked, fighting to keep the grin off my face.

"Michael! It was amazing! You could feel the wind rushing past my face, the way the bike turns and moves… I mean, I felt like for the first time in ages… that I felt free…"

My battle keeping back my grin was lost. I grinned at her - I couldn't help it. "Parker, you amaze me sometimes."

She looked at me, slightly startled as we started to walk to my apartment. "It seems doubtful. I'm just Miss Scientist, Liz Parker."

I shrugged. "I guess for two people as different as we are, it amazes me how much alike we think." Shoving my hands deep into my jacket pockets as we climbed the stairs to my apartment, I continued mumbling, "You said exactly how I feel when I ride my motorcycle." Jesus Christ, Guerin, you fucking sap, I mentally chastised myself. You're wearing your damned heart on your sleeve. She's your friend. She's your friend. She's your FRIEND!

I was so busy having my own mental shouting match with myself that it took me a moment to notice Liz's small hand on my arm and I looked down at her. She didn't say a word - she just sweetly smiled at me.

Did everyone hear that? It was another piece of my stonewall crumbling to the ground.

posted on 11-Jan-2003 9:23:57 PM
Special Thanks to Little Bit, Tabasco Liz, RosDeidre for reviewing and adding their feedback! *happy* I'm sorry about the delay in getting this part out, I discovered my original is formatted funny and it took me forever to fix it... However, here is Chapter Four...

~Lauren *big*

Authors Note: I've used some dialogue directly from HARVEST. I'm not claiming that these dialog lines are mine in any way shape or form.

Chapter Four: Part One - Cover Ups

The halls of West Roswell High were completely silent as I entered through the main doors of the school. By my best estimate, classes had started about 10 minutes and I shouldn't have to worry about running into Max or Isabel. Like I needed another lecture from King Max or Isabel's constant critizing. When I passed by the first set of lockers, I breathed a sigh of relief.

Sometimes, I could swear that the Evans would drive me insane. Literally.


Oh fuck. That voice could only belong to one very pissed off Maria DeLuca. I turned and looked over my shoulder to see Maria striding down the hall, green eyes flashing in anger. Max trailed behind her, his usual brooding look plastered on his face. I stopped and turned to face the two of them, slowly cracking my neck from side to side. "I'm late for class."

"C'mon. Like you GO to class!" Maria yelled and was about to continue when Max placed a hand on her shoulder. Maria relaxed for a moment, then softened her voice. "I was going to ask where Liz was, but never mind. I shouldn't even waste my time with you."

I sighed. "Will you shut your trap and just listen to me for a moment? I found out something really important about Courtney."

Maria bristled. "I'm so not interested."

"Goddamnit Maria. Just listen!" I angrily whispered.

"No, Michael Guerin... You listen to me here. She made a play for you, and you went for it. So, what? Now she's screwed you over and you've come to realize she's a cheap, manipulative tramp? Well, this is not news to me."

"Maria - pull your head out for a minute. Courtney is a SKIN." I said angrily and watched Max and Maria's faces widen in shock. I turned looked directly to Max. "So, just go about your daily lives, since I know that this is just going to be swept under the rug like everything else..."

"Group Meeting in Mr. Edinbrough's classroom in ten minutes. I'll go get Isabel and Tess." Max quietly stated and walked away from me with Maria in tow without another word.

I snorted. Our fearless leader going to take action?

About fucking time.
Ten minutes later, Max, Maria, Isabel and Tess had assembled in the empty classroom, looking at me expectantly.

Apparently, they were waiting for some explanation about Courtney. I briefly wondered if any of them had even taken the Skin threat seriously. Tess was too busy trying bang Max in remembering "Destiny," Isabel was too busy trying to bang Grant Sorenson and Max was too busy trying to suck up to Liz because he "needed" her.

And you wonder why we were all killed on Antar. Jesus.

"Listen. I knew there was something, well OFF about Courtney. She just didn't add up in my opinion. Finding her picture in Whitakers Office was just adding to it." I shrugged.

Max had started pacing around the small classroom, apparently mulling over our newest situation. "Where did Courtney go?"

"No idea. She jumped out my window... I tried to go after her..."

Maria cut in, "But it's soooo hard to run with your pants down around your ankles, huh Mikey G?"

I whipped my head around to fire a death look at Maria. She just doesn't know when to shut up, I thought and started to say something back, but Tess stepped in.

"Settle that personal crap on your own time." She snapped
at Maria, who glared back at Tess. "Okay, if Courtney is a skin, then she must of been working with Whitaker..."

I couldn't help but roll my eyes. No shit, dumbass. I thought.

"You're right..." Isabel said. "She was a skin and Whitaker was a skin, there's no way that two skins would be in Roswell together and not be working together. They were working together which means Courtney knows EVERYTHING about us."

I had to resist the urge to laugh but I couldn't help but roll my eyes again at the idiocity of this whole conversation. I looked over at Max, expecting him to have something to say about this, but all he was doing was looking out a window blankly.

"Hello Maxwell? Are we disturbing you with this "alien" talk?" I snapped sarcastically.

"Shut up Michael. He's been having a rough time." Maria snapped at me and jumped up to stand next to Max defiantely.

"Anything you feel like sharing?" Sorry, I couldn't help it. Poor little Maxwell. Whatever.

Max slowly turned from the window and fixed his gaze on me. "Not with you Michael." He looked to Tess and Isabel. "If Courtney was a Skin and working with Whitaker - does she know that Whitaker is dead in the first place?"

"She does now." Maria whispered and pointed to the TV in the corner of the classroom.

The TV was announcing a Special News Bulletin and interrupting whatever show that was on. A young announcer started reading the story. "We have this breaking news. A New Mexico Congresswoman died today, a victim of single car crash."

Ohhh crap.

"Widowed only six months before her husband, John Whitaker's Congressional reelection, Vanessa Whitaker took his place on the ballot and won by the highest margin for a Democrat in New Mexico for fifteen years. However, her contriversial term as Congresswoman ended yesterday, just outside of Copper Summit, Arizona. We now take you back to your regularly scheduled programming."

Isabel started to nervously twist her rings on her fingers as she considered the report. "But... she died two weeks ago. I was there."

Max nodded. Tess looked up at Max. "Who do you think could conviently be covering up her death for us?"

"Probably the Skins themselves. I'm sure that they don't want any exposure either." Max reasoned.

"So, Max what do we do now?" Tess simpered.

Max returned to staring out the window again. "Liz. We'll go to the Congresswoman's Offices after-school." He whispered and walked for the door. Maria, Isabel and Tess all followed him out as I stood there, dumbfounded. I sighed, knowing that Liz wasn't going to be thrilled that Max, Tess, Isabel and Maria were all going to barge in on her while she was trying to get some work done this afternoon.

I should of figured that after my one peaceful, relaxing day with Liz that all fucking hell would break loose.
Knowing that Liz didn't have a sixth period so she could go to work early, I cut out of my sixth period class to warn her about Maxwell's upcoming visit. It only took me twenty minutes from West Roswell to the Congresswoman's Office. As I placed my hand on the lock to unlock the door and step inside, I figured that by the looks of it, Liz had just arrived as well. The main office was overflowing with papers, boxes and pictures. The smaller office was around the corner and I could see the light was on.

"Liz?" I called out in the seemingly empty Office.

"Michael?" Liz called out as she walked out of the larger office, her arms full of the Congresswoman's finals. I could hardly see her around the large stack and she steered into the main room cautiously.

"Hey. I wanted to let you know that you're going to have some company later this afternoon." I told her as she gently set the boxes down on the ground.

Liz looked up at me, her eyes saddened. "What does Max want from me?" She whispered. "He can't let it go and I can't get away and..." Her lower lip started to tremble. "It's so hard, Michael."

Instantly, I closed the gap between us and engulfed us in a tight hug. "Listen." I whispered into her dark brown hair. "Maybe he'll never know or understand the sacrifice that you made for us. But I will always know, Liz. Trust me, I will always know and I will never EVER forget."

I felt her nod in my arms and slowly wrap her arms around my back to hug me. Liz stepped back and looked at me. "Thank you, Michael. I sometimes wonder what I would have done if I didn't have someone to confide in."

"That's my job Liz. To protect you, to protect everyone." I said quietly. I cleared my throat. "Is there anything I can help you with before Max, and Maria and Isabel and Tess, show up?"

Liz groaned. "All of them?" She asked. I laughed, she must of felt the same way that I did. Liz rubbed her eyes with a weary hand. "You can help me sort through all of this mail." She gestured to a huge stack of mail in one of the cartons. "This needs to be looked at. I've been monitoring all the mail, just in case the FBI or the government has been corresponding with Whitaker about anything..." She looked back at me. "Well, anything Czech."

"Really? How long have you been doing this Liz?"

Liz looked at me surprised. "Why do you think I got this job in the first place, Michael? I mean, I couldn't pass up an opportunity to help you guys from the inside, maybe to give us a step ahead of the Skins, or the government. I want to help you guys." She looked around at the boxes surrounding her. "But, now I guess I'll be back at the Crashdown again."

I grinned at her. "C'mon. It's not that bad. I promise I'll be nicer to you."

"Sure." She laughed and threw a paper clip at me. "We'll see how long that lasts."

I caught the paper clip in mid-air and with a faint glow of my hand rearranged it into a little alien waitress. "Here, to remind you of your real job." I threw it back to her.

Liz laughed again and placed my creation on the desk facing her. We worked in companionable silence, each opening letters, scanning them and then placing them back into the boxes. In fact, I could almost say that we were enjoying the time...

... that is until Max, Maria, Isabel and Tess showed up.