|posted on 16-Jan-2003 6:34:58 PM|
|Title: Graduation Day|
Disclaimer: I own nothing except for Elise, Agent Jacob Wilson; all other characters belong to Jason Katims and Melinda Metz. I don’t even own the International Spy Museum in Washington DC; it belongs to Milton Maltz and various other investors. I simply read about it in People and asked myself what if….
Author’s Note: The International Spy Museum is a grouping of five former office buildings filled with spy gadgetry and stories of espionage exploits. In one of its many rooms you can actually talk to retired agents, ask them questions and get an idea of procedure and such. This room interested me, what would they answer, what wouldn’t they and what would happen if an event from the past came back to haunt them…
December 18th, 2021
Former FBI agent Jacob Wilson leaned back in the overstuffed leather chair the museum thoughtfully provided. It was a slow day, most people were deterred from coming to the museum by the steadily falling snow outside; it had deterred most the other former agents that usually sat with him too. Jacob had come to work simply because he didn’t have anything to do at home; his job hadn’t left him much time to meet someone, let alone build a family, so now he was alone. Not that he didn’t enjoy his new job, he did. He liked interacting with the public, embellishing tales of heroic nationalism; it didn’t even bother him that the first question out of almost every tourist’s mouth was: “Did you ever kill anyone?” It was all part of the mystique of being an agent, and Jacob had been an agent for a very long time.
He perked up a little as heard someone enter the room. It was a teenage girl, probably eighteen or nineteen, dressed in the style of the early millennium which had recently made a come back. With a quick survey, he took in her tight long sleeve black shirt, the puffy jacket hanging over one arm and the low-riding jeans that flared a little at the bottom, slightly surprised to find the denim draped over the arch of, what looked to be, a beat up pair of Doc Martin boots. He’d bet she’d been one hell of tomboy once upon a time. Ash blonde hair curved under just above her collarbone framed a delicate face with sherry brown eyes and big hoop earrings. She took her time reaching him, sucking on a lollypop as she studied the pictures on the wall, pictures that showed all the agents that normally populated this room when they were young and fit and in the service of their country. She seemed to linger a moment on Eddie Johnson’s picture, and he wasn’t surprised, most people were interested in the former NSA member. Hell, even he thought Eddie was a pretty interesting guy who led an amazing life as an agent. Most of what he did was still classified though, and wouldn’t become available for public knowledge for at least another thirty years. Jacob had done some stuff that was still classified too, but nowhere near as much as Eddie. The girl turned her eyes briefly to his picture hanging above his chair, before taking in the much older man. A mischievous grin turned her lips, and she waved the sucker in his direction, “Just the man I wanted to talk to.”
“Or the only man you get to talk to,” Jacob replied whimsically, earning a bigger smile. “Everyone else didn’t want to drive in the snow.”
“Wimps,” she judged solemnly, the twinkle never leaving her eyes.
“Oh yes, you’d never believe they once worked for the government,” he agreed with a laugh, before gesturing to one of the many vacant leather chairs. “Grab a seat, and take a load off.”
She flopped down into Eddie’s chair, throwing her jacket on the floor with the carelessness of youth, “So how do we do this?”
“You ask a question and if I can I answer it.”
She leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees, “Ever kill anyone?”
The teenager’s tone was completely serious, lacking the bloodthirsty yet joking quality of most tourists, and while her posture looked relaxed, a fine tension seemed to run throughout her body. Because his answer seemed to matter so much, he chose his words carefully, “I have killed only if I thought I or my country was in danger.”
She appeared to consider his answer for a few moments before nodding, as if she had to weigh and judge his words. Her eyes flickered down for a moment focusing on the little silver band she was twisting on her index finger, before glancing back up to pin him with an amber stare, “What was your involvement in the events of June 6th, 2002 in Roswell, New Mexico?”
Jacob’s breath caught in his chest as memories flashed before his eyes. Gun fire. Flames. Screams of pain from both sides. The smell of gasoline and burning flesh. Petite girl with deep brown eyes staring with horror at the barrel of his gun trained on her chest. Small hands cradling her stomach as boy with intense hollow eyes cradles her body. Hard male voice reduced to pleading, “Please just let her go, she has nothing to do with this…” He felt a burning in his chest, and he didn’t know if it was from the air trying to escape or the precursor to heart attack. He hadn’t thought about that day in years, successfully blocking the nightmarish experience from his mind. His throat worked, his words forced out in a betraying rasp, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Suddenly the overhead lights began to flicker erratically, going out as the fire doors slammed shut, sealing the room off. Jacob jumped up, reaching for the gun at the small of his back that wasn’t there, that hadn’t been there since his retirement from the Bureau four years before. The girl’s face was all dark shadows, but her eyes seemed to glow in the weak light provided by the emergency lanterns, watching, judging. “What the fuck is going on here?”
She didn’t even flinch at his angry tone, and her gaze never wavered from his face as she repeated slowly, “What was your involvement in the events of June 6th, 2002? What did you do on their graduation day?”
[ edited 1 time(s), last at 20-Jan-2003 1:38:07 AM ]
|posted on 20-Jan-2003 1:37:21 AM|
|Chapter One |
May 28, 2002 1:30 am: thirteen days before Graduation
"Hey, how's Zan doing?" Liz asked Max as she crawled into his room through the window. She needed the solace that Max could give her after what she'd gone through tonight. Driving Tess to her death, helping her commit suicide had drained her. She felt dirty and wrong, filled with conflicting emotions of euphoria and sadness. Yes, she had hated Tess, hated her for what she did to Alex, to them all, but she hadn't wanted her dead, especially in the sacrificial manner that she had gone about it. Liz needed Max to hold her, to tell her everything would be okay, that life was going to get back to normal whatever that was.
"My parents have him. They're taking him to be adopted," Max told her tonelessly.
"What? How could they do that to you? I thought they understood," Liz whispered in anguish. She rushed forward to wrap her arms around him, to offer him comfort her own needs forgotten; only to have him back away leaving her bereft. Goosebumps rose on her arms and she shivered because although the night was warm, the room felt off somehow, Max felt off. "I thought they knew how much Zan meant to you, you've only been searching for him since day one."
"I asked them to take him, Liz," he grated out, staring not at her but somewhere over her left shoulder. "I want Zan to have a normal life."
She couldn't believe what she was hearing, after all that she had gone through this evening, after all that Tess had done to bring little Zan back to Max, he'd just given him away? She tried to sound rational, but the feelings boiling up inside her lent a slight tremble to her voice, "What do you mean by a normal life? What kind of life is that going to be Max if he ever starts developing powers? He's going to have no idea where they came from or how to control them. What if he levitates a table at age six like Michael did? You could be condemning him to a life of uncertainty and possibly danger if he does something in front of the wrong people. Jesus Max, did you even consider these things and their consequences?"
"I don't know Liz, did you consider the consequences of your actions when you took Tess to her death tonight?" Max shot back at her, really looking at her for the first time. She saw his eyes were full of rage. "Did you even think about how it would affect me?"
"What are you talking about Max?" Liz backed away as he advanced towards her. His face was dark and twisted and for the first time in a long while he frightened her. She'd only seen that look on his face one time before, the time when he grabbed and violently shook her in the school hallway when she was questioning Tess about Alex's death.
"I felt everything, Liz, everything. It took her exactly two and a half minutes to succumb to the flames and the smoke at the army base. Two and a half minutes of agony where her only thoughts were of me and Zan and how sorry she was that she had caused so many problems in her short life all in the name of love and destiny."
"Max, I understand…" her voice cut off as rough hands grabbed her upper arms and pinned her against the wall.
"No Liz, you don't understand because if you did you wouldn't have helped her in the first place. Tess loved me so much that she gave up her life for me, my wife gave up her life for me. Losing her was like feeling my heart being torn out, and in that moment I realized she'd always been the stronger of the two of us. She had the strength to do what she thought was right, and in the aftermath I couldn't even bare to look at my own son." His face was only inches away from hers as his fingers became more and more punishing with each word. Max was in a rage and it was completely directed at her. What scared her most though was the way his voice had gone from a furious scream to a deep almost calm sounding rasp. He might not be completely in control but he knew what he was doing. He knew, and he was hurting her anyway. "So please, tell me Liz what you could possibly understand. Tell me what brought you to my house so early in the morning. Did you come to celebrate, or how about to tell me that everything was going to be all right because we're together? I can tell you now that nothing is ever going to alright again and it's all because of your actions, but please fill free to enlighten me on the thoughts of the great Liz Parker."
She was in shock, the man she had gone to jail for, sacrificed her dreams and most her humanity for, had suddenly become a stranger. The one person who was never supposed to hurt her, her soul mate was uttering the words that were ripping into her core. She felt like she was crumbling inside, the last barrier between her and the flood of emotions she'd held at bay for so long was rotting away.
You need to stop being such a victim, Liz. Maria's voice echoed through her mind like a lifeline, a reminder of the girl she'd once been and she realized what she'd let herself become, a willing victim for Max Evans. A little curl of anger sparked in her mind as she recognized that even now she was just passively letting him do what he wanted, just like she'd submissively followed him on his hunt for his child, the child he'd just given away. What had happened to the Liz Parker who stood up for her convictions? What happened to the girl who'd been strong in the face of FBI agents and killer aliens? How had she gone from the girl who had escaped death once to one who let Max, her healer, slowly bleed her out over the last year; bleed out the love, and the strength, and the joy that had made her truly alive? Not only was she the victim that Maria accused her of being but she'd been an active participant, letting him chip away at her in the name of love. Her anger flared stronger burning away her passivity to make room for her own pain-forged rage. The power that had blazed through her earlier in the evening when she'd blown Tess across Michael's apartment built up once again. It was white hot and focusing in its intensity. She was not going to be the victim anymore; she was not going to let him see her break. "Let go of me Max."
Her voice matched his in its strength and intensity, but Max just sneered, to caught up in his own accusations to notice the change. "No Liz, I want to hear what you have to say, I want to hear how you could possibly justify what you did."
"I told you to let go of me Max," she said evenly as she lashed out with the full force of her anger, her power, blasting him across the room. "You really should have listened to me, but it's become quite apparent that you haven't been listening to me for a long time. Perhaps I should take that as a cue that our relationship really is over."
She spun on her heel and left then, afraid that if the rage died before she got out of the house she would revert, become the meek little girl who worshipped the ground he walked on. Afraid that he would find some rational reason for his behavior just like he always did and she would fall right back into the same old pattern. As it was she only made it a block away before her body was racked by the shakes, the anger was gone and she had nothing to replace it, she was empty and horrified. What was she becoming? She abhorred violence but back in that room she had finally understood how seemingly rational people could snap and kill. If Max had come after her, had made even a threatening move towards her, she would have killed him without a second thought. She was teetering on the edge of an emotional abyss, had been for the better part of a year, and she desperately needed to pull herself back together.
Tiredly she took stock of her situation and came to the conclusion that she just didn't have the strength to make it back to her house. The shakes were getting worse, signaling that she was going to crash soon, as it was her legs could barely hold her. She staggered towards Michael's, his place was the closest and it was doubtful that Max would show up there now that he had "reunited" with his parents. She just needed some place where she could collapse, a place where she could wake up and not be bogged down by other people's questions.
She leaned against the wall beside his door, knocking weakly on the hard wood surface before letting her arm fall limply to her side. Please let him be a light sleeper, please let him hear. She was starting to contemplate the comfort factor of the worn carpet that lined the hallway as a strong possibility when Michael's door flew open. He stood in the portal in only his boxers; his hair mussed and eyes heavy growling, "What?"
Liz pushed away from the wall only to realize how vital its support had been. She swayed for a moment as the blackness that had been lingering around the edge of her vision grew, spreading across her eyes, framing Michael in an increasingly narrower space with dancing gold sparkles. "Liz, are you okay?"
She flailed out a hand to catch herself as she began to fall backwards only to have Michael slide a strong arm around her to help prop her up. She tried to give him a grateful smile but it required too much energy to move the slack muscles, energy better used to keep her functioning. "Can I sleep here tonight Michael?"
She never did hear his answer; the roaring in her ears obliterated any other noise as the blackness swallowed her up. She was so tired.
* * * * *
Michael sat on his couch, cradling Liz's limp body in his arms as the dawn sunlight slowly seeped into the living room. He hadn't been able to bring himself to put her down since she'd collapsed against him in his doorway, and he'd scooped her up. At first he'd thought she'd simply fainted but it quickly became apparent that her body had shut down and she was locked deep in the realms of sleep. So he'd sat down on his couch and contented himself with holding her, holding the one girl that had always been an unattainable dream. When it had become painfully obvious that Max and Liz were "soul mates" to each other, he'd turned his attention to Maria, reasoning that as Liz's friend she must share some of the qualities that made the brunette so beautiful to him. Michael had been wrong though because where Liz was the moon, elegance and forgiveness, willing to cloak ones flaws in the shadows and highlight only the good, Maria was the sun, and the sun could be harsh and unforgiving. It was not that Maria was a bad person, she just needed someone who had fewer secrets to hide, fewer flaws in his soul, and Michael was not that person. He was not that person because, even when he'd been with her, he'd still envied Max for having Liz.
He settled deeper into the couch, shifting her gently to lie more fully against his chest, her dark hair a silky cascade over his arm. Every once and awhile she would shift and cry out in her sleep and he would get a flash of what was paining her. The flashes ran the gambit from Alex's death to Tess', but most were centered on the horrific fight Liz had had with Max. From these memories, Michael had gathered that Maxwell had finally flipped, becoming both mentally and physically abusive as he attacked Liz with his love for Tess. Even from the grave that blonde bitch was ruining Liz’s life, stealing the one person that she would have done anything for, had done anything for. It was only the fear he had for Liz's mental state should she wake up alone, and the realization that his anger would benefit no one but himself that kept Michael from going after Max. Still every time he looked at the dark bruises ringing her exposed upper arms, the blue bleeding into purple, he had to physical choke back the bile that rose in his throat. He'd always known that when Max finally did lose it, finally gave into the explosiveness of rage, he'd be dangerous, but Michael had figured that he would flip out over Liz not at her, never in a million years had he believed she would be the target.
He looked down at Liz, taking in the fans of dark lashes resting against golden skin. He'd watched Liz waste away in the last year and had been in agony over it. He couldn't bear to watch the kind, caring girl change into a hardened woman who only seemed alive when Max was around, and even then he hesitated to call her reaction living. She had been transformed from Liz Parker intelligent, strong girl to Liz Parker, Max's creation: a girl so desperate to try and keep his love that she let him get away with anything, and in the end he'd still abandoned her for Tess. Michael was sure that in a few days his king would come to his senses and try to woo Liz back, but he didn't think Max would ever be able to erase the words he'd etched deeply inside her. Max had gone and thrown away his soul mate, the only thing Michael had ever wanted most, without a backwards glance. Michael knew that she probably had come to him out of convenience, but he was honored that she felt safe enough even after the seal incident. Liz had always been his biggest supporter though, never shooting down his ideas and always willing to listen to his problems. He only hoped she'd be willing to let him return the favor.
He leaned down, taking a deep breath of the scent that was uniquely Liz as he pressed a lingering kiss to her forehead. I could love you forever if you'd let me. Her head slowly tilted back sliding his lips from where they'd rested down softly down her face until the stopped just millimeters from her own. Warm air puffed across his face as her lashes fluttered open to expose drowsy brown eyes. Her sleepy husky voice broke the stillness of the morning air, murmuring, "Do you mean it?"
It was only then that Michael remembered that Liz got flashes through touch.
* * * * *
Liz was floating on a sea of warmth; compassion and love enfolding her brittle mind in their healing touch. She felt so happy and safe that she didn't want to leave the comfort, but burrow deeper inside and stay there forever. Instinctively she knew that this was what love was supposed to feel like, giving without expecting anything in return. It seeped inside her and for the first time in a year she didn't feel empty, didn't feel like she was searching for something that was just out of her reach. It felt so surreal after the blankness that a small part of her was afraid she'd finally lost it, retreated into a dream world because she was no longer able to handle the pain of living. It wasn't until the familiar male voice slid through her mind that she realized where she was, and who the source of the emotions surrounding her was. I could love you forever if you'd let me.
She opened her eyes to find Michael's face only a breath away from her own, his gaze reflecting the warmth and love drifting over her. The man Maria referred to as a stonewall had let her inside and what he felt for her, Liz Parker, was a healing balm to her battered soul. The love he projected was so unconditional and without bounds that she couldn't stop herself from craving it, from reaching out, "Do you mean it?"
He looked shocked that she'd heard his thoughts and his eyes quickly began to shutter over, guarding against the rejection he was so used to following his declarations. She panicked as she felt the warmth start to recede; she wasn't ready to let it go, to be abandoned again. She reacted to her unconscious need, raising her head that scant distance required to press her lips against his, stopping not only his withdrawal but releasing the flood of passion he'd held at bay, a passion that washed over her in conjunction with the love. It was powerful and electrifying, rolling off Michael and into her system, burning away any lingering awareness other than him. He filled both her vision and her mind as he filled her mouth. Her senses were on overload as they kissed frantically, driven by the wild feelings flooding them both. Her hands skated over his the lean muscles of his bare chest up into his long messy hair, using her grip to pull him down on top of her as she shifted to lie back on the couch. The blanket of his body made her feel safe even in the maelstrom of emotions. The feel of his lips and hands and weight left her feeling more alive than she had in a very long time, before even Alex's death. Michael's love wasn't confined to longing glances, deeps sighs and soft kisses, but an earthy physical need to connect on all levels. She moaned as she felt his rough artist fingers dance against her stomach before traveling under her tank to unhook her bra, teasing hard nipples. She let the nails of her left hand scratch lightly down to the base of his spine and was rewarded by the jerk of his hips into her own; leaving her fully aware of just how much he wanted her.
Michael pulled back slightly struggling to rid her of her tank top, and the brush of cool air against her heated skin made her shiver. He must have mistaken the small movement for fear because he paused with the soft folds of cloth bunched up under her arms and whispered haltingly, "We don't have to do this Liz. I'll stop if that's what you want."
His golden brown eyes were so sincere, so quietly accepting of her possible rejection. If she said no, he would stop; not an offer many teenage boys would have the control to make, but Michael did it anyway. He was giving her the power of refusal, a power that she had never had in her relationship with Max. Max had always been the leader and she the follower, and while they'd never had a sexual relationship, she knew he would have expected the same hierarchy to carry over. Michael was letting her chose the course, and she understood then that she didn't want to be a leader or a follower, but a partner, an equal. Silently she pulled the cotton tank over her head and arched her newly bared breasts against Michael's chest, inviting him to leave his hesitation behind, to revel in the wonderful sensations that coursed between them. Joy flared in his eyes at her touch and he tilted his head to drag his lips down her throat and onto her chest in a trail of biting kisses. In that moment as his lips captured her nipple she feared nothing but the absence of the freedom that Michael's love gave her.
Liz's hands tangled with Michael's as they fought against the stubborn buttons enclosing her jeans, until finally he captured her interfering fingers in his own and guided her arms up around his neck and out of the way. The scratch of the rough denim down her thighs was soon obliterated by the slid of hot palms that followed, and she didn't even notice that her panties had disappeared until those long dexterous fingers slid inside her to the rhythm of the pulling lips on her breast. The feelings were a fire consuming her, wiping from her mind everything but Michael and what he was doing. She didn't even notice when he removed boxers, until she felt his blunt shape forging its way into her body, heralded by the slight pinching that marked the loss of her virginity. Pain is funny, capable of distracting and focusing, disconnecting and connecting. The physical pain caused by Michael's entrance was just yet another reminder that she was still gloriously alive, that Max hadn't killed her with his hateful words and actions, that there was indeed life after Max Evans. She wasn't losing her virginity so much as reconnecting with her soul, her humanity. With each drive of his hips Michael reinforced and multiplied the joy building up inside her until finally she peaked in a swirl of love so intense that her eyes flew open and she found herself once again captured in his amber gaze. Linked to him body and soul, Liz felt herself slide over the edge, secure in the belief that Michael would catch her should she fall.