posted on 22-Jan-2003 1:57:34 PM
Title: Serenity

Author: Linsey

Rating: R for now

Couple: Polar, but possibility for general UC

Disclaimer: I own nothing, all the characters presented in this story belong to Jason Katims or Melinda Metz in some form, and I just brought them out to play.

Prologue


It seems that all my life I’ve dreamed of him, a tall lanky boy with an infectious grin and an amazing mind, a boy I would connect with but who would never connect with me. In my vivid lifelike imaginings he calls me his “Serenity” even as he followed the cool blonde that has his heart.

In these dreams I see the future. War. Destruction. Death.

I feel him die in my arms, hear the death rattle in his chest even as he gasps out those beautiful words “My Serenity” one more time, even as his love tries to protect us from the approaching forces.

In my dreams I have shared companionship, love and death with this group of brave individuals that he calls his friends, his family, and although I know that the end is bad I long to escape to these visions each night just to see him one more time.

Lately though, my dreams have begun to fade, he has begun to fade, and I worry at this. I know the future still remains the same. War. Destruction. Death. Those images don’t hesitate to greet me in slumber. The outcome remains the same, but something is different, wrong; he is not there. The agony of this has caused me to do the irrational, caused me to leave Berkley in the middle of my freshman year, to just jump in the car and drive east; east towards the place of my destiny, east towards the place of my death, a place shrouded in towering red stone.

I find it easily, as if guided by some greater power, a large outcropping of rock in the middle of the New Mexico desert. My approach is slow, not out of fear, but out of awe, here before me lies proof that my dreams are real, that I am not crazy or insane. The rock seems to know me or at least my purpose, and before my eyes a portion disappears to invite me in, to show me its secrets. The Granolith. I know its name although I have never heard it spoken while awake. It is just as I have always known it would be, powerful and wise, and I feel an instant hum within myself to the wavering energy it gives off. I know now what I must do, what my dreams have been showing me from the beginning. In a hidden crook of the wall lies a crystal and I press it gently into place, activating an unearthly green glow in response to my actions. The green surrounds me, passes through me, and I slowly feel myself begin to break down, molecule by molecule until I am one with the green glow filling the cave, I am everywhere and nowhere.

Take me away. Take me to him. Take me to Alex.

* * * * *

Chapter One: All is fair in love and War…

“What the hell are you doing here?” Michael growled, his contemplative state had been broken ever since he had seen the car approaching in the distance. The dust cleared to reveal the lanky boy he had privately dubbed “Protector of Earth Girls Everywhere” climbing out of the vehicle.

“We need to talk,” Alex responded, his voice was cool, but he kept a respectful distance between himself and the rougher boy, not wanting to be greeted by the hard right he’d been expecting ever since that moment in Michael’s apartment. He only just managed to control the fine trembling that vibrated down his arms by shoving his hands in his pockets. To Alex, Michael was the dark one, the unexplainable one. The wall in his eyes was too high to see the real person, to have any inclination of what would happen next. Now after Courtney’s death there seemed to be an added element, a repressed violence that cloaked him. Michael was angry, Max was paranoid and Alex’s girls were driving him insane. Maria was the epitome of depressed, having sniffed more aromatic oils in last couple of days than Alex thought were produced in a year, and Liz was skittish for reasons unknown. Liz wouldn’t talk to him and he refused to sit around feeling helpless, so he decided to solve Maria’s problems for awhile--something infinitely easier and yet more dangerous. He found himself tracking down Michael in the desert, risking life, limb and a hard right to the jaw to ask, “Were you in love with Courtney?”

The other teen stiffened, muscles locking, jaw clenching, and Alex steeled himself for a blow, a blast of violence for his impertinence. It took him a few moments to realize no fist was forthcoming, and that his tightly closed lids were a dead give-away of his fear. He let them slit open, peering through matted lashes he found Michael staring at him, hard eyes, rubbing a tired hand over his face. Suddenly the other boy looked older, lines etching deep into his forehead, and Alex realized that maybe he did not want to know, did not want to be the one to have to tell Maria that her Space boy lost his heart to another alien, lost his heart to the enemy. He found himself arming against a whole different kind of blow as Michael opened his mouth and spoke, “No, I didn’t love her.”

For a moment Alex thought his legs were going to give out, relief weakening his knees to the point of collapse. He managed to pull himself together when he realized the alien teen was walking away from him towards the outcropping of rocks that housed his pod. Alex followed behind, babbling away the tension, the fear of the fight, words tripping and flowing, “This is great! Not that I mean Courtney’s death is great, but you don’t know what this means to Maria. Well, you probably know what this means to Maria, she was worried you didn’t love her, but now I can tell her you do. Better yet, you can tell you do—”

His words choked off, he felt like he had run into a rock, no a stone wall. Michael did not even seem to notice his impact, only watched him with steady, barren gold eyes, eyes that made him realize, “Oh shit, you don’t….”

He couldn’t bring himself to say the words, but apparently Michael had no qualms, “…don’t love Maria?” he scratched his eyebrow, his words were defiant, “No Alex, I don’t.”

Someone must have found a way to suck all the oxygen out of the desert because Alex sure as hell had a hard time finding his breath. Maybe it was the knot of anger lodged in his throat, cutting off the air to his lungs. The knot was unable to stop his words though, they came exploding out, rapid fire, “How the hell can you not love Maria! She’s sweet and kind and would walk across hot coals for you, has fought against aliens and the FBI for you, and all she asks in return…”

“…Is for me to be Max,” Michael interjected, damming Alex’s rage with just six words. How could he fight against that, he knew it was true, had pointed the unfair comparison out to Maria hundreds of times only to have her explain to him like one would a five year old that she did not want Michael to change really, just take on some Max-like qualities. Alex had barely restrained himself from asking if one of those qualities was making out with a blonde interloper like Tess, but he didn’t think she would see the humor. It was not that he had anything against Tess, she had her good points although he was hard pressed to think of any at the moment…Tess was not the issue here, Michael and Maria were. “So what you’re saying is you don’t love either of them?”

Michael wheeled away from him, throwing his hand out. A rock exploded in the distance, and Alex jumped slightly at the unexpected noise and action. Michael’s voice, when it emerged, was once again a growl, “I’m saying that neither of them loved me Alex, that it was mutual. Courtney loved what I was in the past, a man that I don’t even remember and am not sure I ever want to be. I couldn’t save my planet the first time, why the fuck did she think I could save it now.”

His voice was raw, and Alex realized that he was finally getting a look beyond the formidable Guerin barriers, a place he was scared to enter and yet honored to be shown. “And Maria, Maria wants me to be an adventure, but safe. She wants me to be Max, but only his good qualities, she wants to forget the bad stuff, to hide behind the melodrama of staring longingly into each other’s eyes. Maria doesn’t want my reality, she wants a cardboard cut out of Max with my face.”

Personally Alex thought that was a little harsh, the truth, but harsh all the same. “Listen Maria’s had a tough life…”

The alien teen simply quirked one brow and the irony of his words were not lost on Alex, if anyone had a reason to rail against the injustices of life, it would be Michael. Still… “Maria has a hard time trusting men because of her dad, if she wants you to be more like Max it’s just because she’s so comfortable with him.”

“Then she should date Max.” That was it, end of statement, end of relationship as far as Michael was concerned. Alex found himself stumbling along behind the other man, trying to dig his way out of the hole he just buried Michael and Maria’s relationship. In the process of trying to pull the metaphorically foot out of his mouth and explain, he did not watch where he was going, and suddenly found himself flying face first into the sand.

“Yuck,” He said spitting out a mouth full of sand. He felt like he had lost a layer of skin to the microscopic rock particles that made up the desert floor. “What hit me?”

“Oh Shit,” he heard Michael murmur. Alex turned to over realize the source of his fall was a who not a what, and she definitely did not look in fighting shape. He could not tell if she was shivering or convulsing, but it looked like tiny earthquakes racked her body. He quickly scrambled over to her side to discover blue tinged lips trying desperately to close over chattering teeth. He felt rather than saw Michael crouch down next to him, pushing the loose strands of blonde hair back to find her eyes tightly closed. “We need to flip her over.”

The other boy’s command was so bizarre that Alex started to protest, only to have it dawn on him that Michael was looking for the valve that marked the Skins. Would he always have to live his life approaching those he met as a possible alien first, human second? She, at least, did not seem to be aware of being moved, simply curling into a little ball on her side as if to generate more warmth. Alex removed his jacket, covering her with it, before reaching out a hand to wipe the flecks of silver sand from her face. It took him a moment to comprehend that one of those spots of sliver was actually a small stud of a nose ring. The insistent brush of his fingers against her face triggered the fluttering of her lashes and he found himself staring into a pair of dilated black eyes. Her face stilled for a moment trying to focus on him as her pupils narrowed, and unexpectedly her lips turned up into some semblance of a smile, “A-a-alex, y-you haven’t f-filled out y-yet.”

Those few words seemed to steal what little energy she had and her eyes slid close again. Not that Alex noticed, he was to busy staring at Michael in shock, their thoughts were mirrored in their faces. How the hell did she know who he was?



[ edited 5 time(s), last at 26-Jan-2003 1:09:24 PM ]
posted on 23-Jan-2003 11:37:24 AM
Asabetha-good question...She's my attempt to play around with characters mentioned but never seen. Your answer is in this chapter.

Chapter Two: Future Past…

October 21st, 2014

I pressed my hands to the hole in his chest, but I could not staunch the flow of blood pouring out between the cracks in my fingers. Pulling him tight against me, his back to my front, I applied more pressure all the while scanning the horizon. “Hold on Alex, Max will be here soon. Your going to be okay.”

Out of the corner of my eye I could see Isabel holding back the Skins. She had wasted so much energy already trying to help the boy in my arms, and I feared that the Skins were merely playing with her, wearing her down before moving in for the kill. Healing was not her strength but she had tried anyway, only I was scared we had merely lengthened Alex’s pain and not his life. It remained to be seen whether or not the others would find us before Alex died, before all three of us died, and I found myself searching my mind for a prayer, for anything. Now I lay me down to sleep…Hail Mary full of Grace… I felt his body shudder against me and gave up the mad scramble for words I could not remember, they would not save him, only Max could do that.

I pressed my lips to Alex’s ear, a desperate attempt to be heard over the energy blasts and explosions, “Just keep breathing, any minute now they’ll show up, and in few days this will be something we laugh over.”

He reached back and touched my face, his wet hands leaving red streaks on my cheek, neither one of us believed my words. “Tell me a story, Serena.”

A sob rose in my throat, and I swallowed hard to drive it down. Every night we told each other stories before we fell asleep, simple remembrances of our lives before the War, crazy tales about the brother of a cousin of a friend. Sometimes we would even rip off Disney, not that anyone cared since it had been destroyed back in 2011. Those stories were a way to break the tension, make us laugh, remember what we were fighting for. The simple act of sharing, of talking under the cover of darkness somehow made it feel less hopeless. The request had become our signal that the world had become to much to bear, that the other person needed the escape to memories, to sleep, needed to get away from the pain. The fact that it was the middle of the day and the state of his wound, gave his treaty much darker implications.

“Okay Alex, I’ll tell you a story. I just want you to focus on the sound of my voice, don’t stop listening okay?” I choked out. I could not stop the tears falling from my eyes, sliding down to wash the blood from my skin, the blood from his hand as he gently stroked my cheek. He was dying but he felt the need to comfort me. “Once upon a time, there was this girl who thought she knew everything, until she met this beautiful boy who showed her how much she had missed.”

“Did they fall in love?” Alex rasped before a coughing fit shook his body. I tried not to notice the blood that appeared on his lips.

“He was in love with another, but yes, she loved him, she loved those he loved.”

His hand tightened on my face and awkwardly he turned his head to look up at me. “He loved her, the girl in your story. The other girl just needed him more.”

“I know,” I whispered, the earnest look in his eyes broke my heart.

“I love you, Serenity” he murmured. “You’ll look after her, all of them?”

I knew what he was doing, he had always put us first before himself, always tried to make sure we would take care of each other. It scared me, and his words were getting harder to hear they were so weak; I pretended not to see that with every blink his eyes seemed to stay closed a little longer. “Always, but I’m not going to have too, right? Right, Alex?”

For the longest time he did not answer me, just lay there against my shoulder, the rattle in his chest proof that my arms were doing no more than keeping him near. I could not hold back death, and I could not keep Alex locked inside his failing body. We both knew it, but some little part of me held out hope that we would be saved. I guess that’s why it still took me by surprise, the moment when his body finally gave up, and his eyelids fluttered close for that last time. Jesus, no…

“My Serenity,” he sighed, a whisper of an exhale against my lips.

“I love you,” I told him, but he was already gone, his face reflecting a peace I had not seen there since before the War. Back when he was an innocent freshman at Berkley. Back when life made sense. Back when there was just a girl, who had fallen in love with a boy she could not have.

An enraged scream filled the air, and I realized that Isabel too had felt him go, probably before I had through that unexplainable connection that came with being husband and wife. I watched as the anger, despair, and pain welled up inside her until she glowed, until the Skins that had surrounded us backed away in fear. The power exploded out of her, decimating our attackers until I had to shut my eyes against the flaky particles that clouded the air. I did not bother to open them as she fell to the ground next to me, wrapping her arms around her fallen husband, around me. I did not bother to open them, but the tears leaked out anyway, combining with Isabel’s to cleanse the features of the man we both loved.

We were still kneeling there, holding him and each other, when the group found us an hour later.

* * * * *

The present

Alex cradled the unknown girl on his lap, trying to provide her with as much body heat as he could. In the driver’s seat Michael guided the car back onto the highway towards Roswell, but Alex paid him no attention. He could not pull his eyes away from her face, a face that seemed so familiar and so foreign at the same time. He had thought he was going to have to fight Michael to get him to help them, but the discovery that she did not bear the Skin’s nozzle and the agonizing little moan that escaped her lips as she slipped back into unconsciousness, helped gain the support of the alien teen. It reminded him that Michael was a protector too, that behind that stonewall was someone not indifferent to another’s pain. They had bundled her up in their jackets, carrying her back to the car with no other plan but to get her out of the desert and get some warmth back into her body.

Fifteen minutes later he was once again staring into her expanded pupils as her lashes lifted, but this time he could see the faintest edge of blue too. “H-hello.”

“Hello,” he replied, surprised again that she was able to talk with the ripples still running through her body. “Do I know you?”

He did not mean to ask that question, it just slipped out. She didn’t seem to offended so much as saddened, simply responding, “Once upon a time you called me your Serenity.”

“Long ago in a galaxy far, far away,” he joked lamely. It earned him a stern glance from Michael in the rearview mirror, and a faint almost inaudible laugh from her. Or at least he thought it was laughter, but he became unsure when he saw the little moist tracks on her face.

He opened his mouth to apologize, to explain that he had not been making fun of her, to ask what was wrong, but she managed stop him by simply raising a weak hand to press her chilled fingers to his lips, “Happy tears Alex, happy tears because here you’re still alive.”

She paid no attention to the startled expression on his face, or the fact that Michael had started to scratch his eyebrow. She just lay there in Alex’s arms, letting her hand fall from his mouth to rest over his beating heart that seemed to give her more comfort than any words that he could possibly think of, her forehead nuzzled into the hollow under his collar bone. A little smile still curved her slightly blue lips, but he was pretty sure she was recovering from whatever happened to her. The chills certainly did not seem as frequent and her breathing was not as labored as she slid away from him back into sleep, leaving him to stare at a face that he was sure would haunt his dreams for the rest of his life, or perhaps already did only to dance away from remembrance when he awoke.


posted on 24-Jan-2003 4:42:30 PM
Wow! Thanks all of you for the feedback. I have to warn you that these first couple of chapters are pretty dark when it comes to the future aspect. Oh, and I would like to apologize ahead of time for any little grammatical blips in these chapters, I try to read them outloud and I do have a beta, but we are both overworked students we read much to fast to catch everything.

Surfgirl, I left you a little note on Surviving Santa Clara about all my other stories on this board, unfortunately since then I believe "For the Preservation of Butterflies" dropped off the face of the earth (or at least this website), but overall it's a pretty good guide to what I have posted and what I will post in the future. Mainly I'm just juggling far too many stories *happy*.

Chapter Three: Just Surviving…

October 28th, 2014

“How’re you holdin’ up?” Kyle’s voice whispered along my ear. I had felt him crouch down behind me just moments before, the sudden heat and the absence of wind. I caught the wisp of alcohol on his breath, and bit my lips to keep from saying anything. He was a big boy, and who was I to deny him that one small crutch. He could dissipate its affects if needed with the powers he had acquired from a long ago healing. Part of me envied him his one escape.

“I’m surviving,” I murmured, never taking my eyes away from Isabel who was curled against my legs, her head resting against my knees. It had become a routine, having her collapse against me after spending the day fighting like a woman possessed. There was no mercy in her now, no compassion, not for the skins who had succeeded in stealing her husband away from her. She stared blankly at the fire, almost comatose, not even registering the feel of my fingers brushing through her hair. It was an act that I performed more for my own comfort than hers; she was my last connection to Alex, she was the only one who understood.

War made you crazy, but we still felt the repercussions from the insanity caused by his passing. The night after his death we had both just reacted, the pain more than we could stand. She had blamed her brother, proclaiming his worthlessness before throwing him against a rock wall with a burst of energy. Michael had to restrain her so that Max could escape, and we both ended up holding her until her rage had drained. It never truly disappeared though, waking us all each night with the screams that only could find release in the agony of sleep. While we cared for Isabel and Max healed himself, I remained dry-eyed, frozen. It was not until later when she had finally passed out that I walked into the desert. Kyle found me later stripped bare, rubbing my skin raw with sand. I have to get him out. Can’t be strong with him still warm on my skin.

He never said a thing, just wrapped his arms around me while I whimpered and sobbed, staining his dust covered shirt with my own blood and tears. At some point he must have entered my mind because my hysteria was quietly overcome by a monotone hum, lulling me into a state where I drifted along in silence, in peace. It was beautiful, calming, but I could not tell you if I lingered there for minutes or hours, Kyle never said, and it was still dark when I came to my senses. Suddenly I was in my body, fully aware of the grittiness of the ground beneath me and the rough weave separating me from Kyle’s chest. He must have realized because he silently helped me stand and dress, brushing sand from my skin with hands that betrayed their knowledge in their lack of hesitance.

War changed you, made you do things you thought you would never do. At times your pores became so clogged with death and fear, that your body pleaded to feel alive in an act as old as time. We tricked ourselves as humans into believing that pillow talk and cuddling raises it above animal instinct. I truly believed that I would always remain faithful physically as well as mentally to a boy I would never really touch. Imagine my horror when just three years into the War I found myself falling into the arms of another, seeking comfort on the most basic of levels. In the beginning there was shame and a touch of anger, not only had we found release but neither of the names cried in that moment were our own. He felt he had betrayed a girl that had left her family and him long ago, I felt I had cut the most sacred of ties with Alex. I went to him crying, expecting him to denounce me, but his too old eyes only reflected understanding, and after that the shame I felt slowly faded. He asked me once, only a year ago, if I was happy. I knew that he meant with Kyle, with the whole situation. Happy? Happiness implied a sharing, not a using, and that was what Kyle and I were doing. He used me to get back at Tess for leaving, to bury the guilt he felt for surviving after Maria, Amy and the Sheriff had all died during that disaster of a birthday party. And I…I used him as a substitute for the man life would not let me have. I could not bring myself to lie in answer to Alex’s question, not completely, so I simply shrugged my shoulders and told him I was surviving. Surviving. The act did not truly require you to live, only to carry on, but I did not tell him that, just like I let Kyle operate under the illusion that it meant I was fine.

“Good,” he exhaled. My mind finally registered the origin of the fumes as tequila and I swallowed hard to keep from asking him to share. “I’ll be taking over for Michael tonight. I don’t know why, but he’s been out of it lately and we don’t know how he would react to one of Isabel’s spells.”

He rolled his shoulders, clearly uncomfortable with implying some weakness in the man in charge of our safety, but it was right on both accounts. Her “spells” as we called them were really nightmares, the dreams of what could have been, should have been, reaching out to grab her unconscious mind every night. They wrenched the soul. You could tell when they started by the flickering of her eyelashes, and the whole camp knew their end by the screams. Isabel didn’t talk about them when she awoke, but she didn’t have to. At least not to me.

The second night after Alex’s death, we’d fallen asleep finally out of exhaustion, curled together on Alex’s sleeping bag that still retained a hint of his smell. I didn’t know what was happening at first as I found myself looking through a window into a tastefully decorated living room. I could see Isabel standing near the mantle looking a pictures of her and Alex, their wedding picture, another of them holding diplomas, a scattering of frames filled with vivid color and bright smiles. Happiness. In every picture he looked so youthful, so alive, so…Alex, and the love he felt for Isabel just seemed to radiate from them all. I started to cry even as Isabel did, which should have tipped me off that it was a dream--we’d both cried all the tears we could have at that point—but for some reason all I could think of was knocking on the glass to get her attention, to have someone to cry with again. She noticed him in the doorway first, all lanky body in a rumpled suit, his tie obviously discarded at some point earlier…

“Honey, I’m home,” he sang out. His voice sounding the same way it did when he’d call me after completing a huge programming assignment, hoarse from disuse but so damn proud. “Come on Is, aren’t you going to kiss your husband hello?”

Through the window I could see Isabel’s knuckles grow white, see her lips move as she whispered over and over that this wasn’t real, couldn’t possibly be real. I didn’t care if it was real or not, just pressed hard against the glass, trying to pass through to the Alice in Wonderland world where Alex was happy and still breathing. The glass wouldn’t give though, and I was stuck on the outside watching his reaction to Isabel’s hesitance. His brows drew together briefly, only to be pulled apart as his eyes grew wide in realization, “Is, your not mad because I was gone so long, are you? I told you I’d be back, that I’d never leave you for long.”

His words, accompanied by that little lopsided grin he would give when he was unsure, was all it took. She was across that room and in his arms, laughing and sobbing, her words of love hiccupping out of her. At that point I began beating, and screaming against the window, blood running down my arms as they punched through thick glass. Nothing was going to keep me away from holding Alex too. Nothing. I climbed past the broken shards and into the living room, only then gaining the attention of the happy couple in front of me. Isabel looked over at me and smiled, paying no attention to my bloody hands or the broken window, “It’s Alex. It’s really Alex.”

Her joy seemed to fill up the room, a light obliterating everything else, or at least that’s what I thought a first. Really the room was disintegrating around us, the walls, the window, that carpet fading away, until it was only we three and the pictures from the mantle. Then the photos began to blur one by one, their empty frames falling away into the black nothingness that appeared all around us. I vaguely remember screaming, “What’s going on?”

Alex appeared confused by Isabel’s and my fear, pulling out of her arms, but encompassing us both in that little smile of his, “I told you I would never leave you for long.”

The sentence wasn’t even completely out of his mouth when he began to disappear too, the fading starting where he’d been hit by the alien blast that killed him, the last couple of words emerging on a slightly choked gurgle of a dying man. The last parts of him to disappear were his eyes, glassy and lifeless, staring out at us from the blackness. Then he was gone, and we were left alone in the dark with our screams.

Liz was the one that woke us that night, held us as we choked on the breath that emerged much to quickly from our throats. Her face white with strain and sadness, she was the one that wiped away the blood from the slashes Isabel had made on my arms. It was her nails, not dream glass that I’d felt. She never said anything, but I think Liz got a flash of the dream because later she told me it would be best if Isabel and I didn’t sleep near one another. Her face looked so tortured like she felt she was stealing him away from the two of us, but maybe she was hearing his ghostly words too, experiencing the same tearing inside that we were, only modified for her last best friend and not a lover. Maybe she thought that would stop the dream from happening again, but now Isabel just suffered through it by herself. Now she was the one that screamed, “What’s going on?”

Now she was the one the screamed. Alone.

Now it was the pressure from my own nails that caused the blood on my hands as her cries echoed through the night. Every night.

We tried to wake her before the end, to catch her before he disappeared, but we never seemed to be quick enough. Even I, the girl who’d actually been there through a bizarre bit of dreamwalking even Max couldn’t explain, couldn’t catch her in time. So instead, more often than not, I sat by her side unblinking to hold her when those cries signaled the end, to hush them as I brought her into wakefulness with quiet words and my own tears, my own silent breaking. Even when I wasn’t on “Isabel Watch” (as they’d begun to call it) I didn’t sleep because I was afraid that unlike Isabel I wouldn’t have the strength to wake up and still function even in her limited capacity. I was afraid that I simply follow him into the darkness and dissolve too, abandon my promise to him, my commitment to him, for the peace of nothingness. I could better handle her emotional insanity upon waking than the temptation of that black void.

It had become apparent that some of us couldn’t even handle that. Michael was teetering on the edge. Unbeknownst to us, the wall that seemed to define Michael Guerin was cracking, and we had just all come to realize that it had been the only thing holding him up for a very long time. I knew why, but I didn’t tell Kyle. Michael’s demons where his own. He could feel the end coming as surely as I could, the strange foreboding lingering on the edge of consciousness. The end was not the cause of his bleakness though, it was merely a catalyst in a reaction that had started years ago. The conversation we’d had back in August played through my head:

“How do you do it?” Michael’s voice startled me from my scan of the horizon, and I jerked my gaze over to where he leaned against the rocks.

“Do what?” Having absolutely no idea what he was talking about, I stared at him puzzled.

“That,” Michael grated out, jerking his head to gesture to the side. Back at camp I could see Isabel stooping to give Alex a kiss on the temple as she strolled by. His entire face lit up at the small act. “How can you take it?”

“She makes him happy,” I murmured. I’d long since stopped experiencing pangs of jealousy. Isabel was what he wanted and I loved him enough to understand. It took me a moment to realize that the question had a much deeper significance. Michael’s eyes no longer watched Isabel and Alex, but the other couple that sat near them going over topography maps. “How long have you loved her?”

He flinched as if I struck him. Sometimes it’s hard to hear the truth spoken aloud, or even to have it acknowledged. “At times, it feels like forever.”

I gave him credit for not denying it automatically like I had in the beginning. I used to laugh like a loon whenever my roommate Stacie accused me of being in love with Alex. “That feeling I know well.”

Silence flowed over us after that, him watching Liz, and me pretending not see the pain etched on his face. It was fifteen minutes before he spoke again, and his question seemed more directed at himself than me. “What do you do if he’s not making her happy?”

“Hey, you still with me?” Kyle asked, pulling me from my reverie. My eyes flickered up from the fire’s reflection dancing in Isabel’s hair and into the shadows. I could see Michael’s lone figure perched just beyond the circle of light, keeping watch at the entrance of our canyon.

“Would you mind trading shifts with me too actually?” I frowned at Michael’s back. “I have something I need to do.”

“No problem.” Kyle scooped Isabel’s unresisting body from the ground. I ached inside at the sight of her gaunt cheeks and blank eyes. She didn’t even comprehend that we’d been talking about her, that she was being moved. She looked like an old doll, worn and lifeless. I held the flap back of the tent we had constructed for her, more to muffle the screams than to provide shelter, and helped tuck her in to her sleeping bag. My discarded blankets were crumpled beside it, and Kyle folded them into a cushion before sinking down. He grabbed my hand, and for a moment I wondered if he knew what was really going on. His eyes showed not a hint as he gave my fingers a quick squeeze and a flashed a small smile, “Go do what you have to do.”

I couldn’t make my lips form a smile in response, so I settled for a nod before pushing my way from the tent. I made sure to make a lot of noise as I approached Michael, afraid that startling him might mean my death by friendly fire. The irony that I was scared of the very thing I viewed as a release did not escape me, but I had promised Alex that I would take care of them all. I wasn’t about to start breaking my word to him, my soul was blackened enough already. “Hey.”

“We shouldn’t have a fire going, its too dangerous.” He’d been retreating behind the military façade a lot lately, it was just one of the many signs. “I told Max this wasn’t a safe area.”

He sounded more resigned than angry, and it was that acceptance he had that scared me. I had always believed that it was Michael’s criticism and badgering that kept Max human, kept most of us alive. God, he sounded so defeated, I just wanted to ease some of the weight that seemed to push down on him. “We know this canyon, this whole desert better than the Skins. We have the added benefit of the perimeter security that Alex and I installed here back in ’09. Besides, it’s not the Skins nature to attack at night, they’d be as handicapped as we are.”

He scratched his brow lightly, but managed to toss me a weak smirk. “However could I doubt our wonderful security system.”

I rolled my eyes at his tone, he’d been doubting our creation ever since its inception even though it had saved us on more than one occasion. I moved to stand next to him, careful not to brush against him in any way. Sometimes something as small as a touch of the fingers can make a person break. I unconsciously echoed Kyle’s earlier question to me, “How’re you doing?”

“I’m…” he trailed off, obviously searching for a word that wouldn’t give away too much.

“Surviving,” I supplied, and for the first time since we started talking his eyes fully met mine. A flash of understanding passed between us, and his body slumped as some of the tension seeped out.

“Yeah, I’m surviving.” As with our conversation several months ago, his gaze sought Liz. She was standing a ways from our camp, staring up into the stars. Whenever I did that I was trying to find answers to questions I didn’t know how to phrase. Liz was trying to understand how she could keep fighting a war that cost the lives of all she held dear. You could see it in her rigid stance, in the arms clasped tightly about her middle. She was a woman trying to reconcile her own demons and failing like the rest of us. Sometimes I thought she continued to fight because stopping would mean that it had all for naught, that her loved ones had died in vain. I know that’s why she stayed by Max’s side, acting more like an advisor than a wife. “We’re all surviving.”

“They live like brother and sister, Michael, not husband and wife. They haven’t for a long time.”

“You’d think that would make it easier, wouldn’t you.” He scuffed one booted foot against the ground. “I realized a long time ago that he would never let her go. He needs her too much.”

Liz was Max’s crutch, just as tequila was Kyle’s. Michael’s crutch had been denial, but he’d lost that the moment he’d understood Liz’s unhappiness. Briefly I wished I kept smoking instead of giving up the habit because Alex asked me to. I could have used the dose of mind-numbing nicotine right then as I came to grips with Michael’s dilemma. Possibly happiness meant destroying his king, meant admitting that the lies that he had been telling himself for years were just that. Lies. If the War hadn’t broken out, Max and Liz’s marriage would have only lasted two or three years tops before they finally realized there was more to life, before they outgrew each other. I had made the mistake of whispering my prediction to Alex during the reception in the Vegas chapel, and he’d called me a cynic. It was mostly for show though, he told me he agreed with me later, but that Liz had to learn that Max’s smothering wouldn’t let her become the woman she was supposed to be on her own. If only the War hadn’t happened, if only Michael had told Liz he’d loved her long before the wedding, if only Alex hadn’t died…If only, the two most dangerous words in the English language because there was simply no proof that life wouldn’t take a wrong turn again if your if only became true. Still I couldn’t stop them from slipping past my lips on a sigh, “If only…”

Michael didn’t respond, and I made an apologetic sound in the back of my throat. Hindsight was much clearer than forethought and there were many twists that I didn’t feel like revisiting. I was sure it was the same for Michael, and I’d just brought them to the forefront. Anyone could see that Liz was unhappy. The glow that always used to radiate from her was gone, and she hardly ever smiled. And Michael, being the king of pain and guilt, blamed himself for all of her unhappiness. If he’d only told her…There I went with those stupid words again. I shook off my slightly cruel take on the situation. He was a man caught between two loyalties. Michael couldn’t help the way he was anymore than Liz could stop being Liz and take that one selfish, lifesaving step away from Max.

The awkward silence stretched, and I searched for a way to fix the damage. Alex had always been the aware one, the one who knew how to handle the emotional blunders. Dear God, Alex. I swallowed hard as an image of his smiling face wavered before me in the sand. Somehow I’d always thought that I would die first and it had contented me. He’d always been the stronger one, the one that had kept Isabel and I steady during battle. In the end, he died because of me, died because he’d step in front of a blast heading in my direction. I was expendable damn it, not him. These people needed him, loved him. He would have known what to do in this situation whereas I was floundering. Isabel might not blame me for what happened, but I blamed myself. The only reason I hadn’t gone completely mad from his death was that promise, that fucking promise, and that’s why he made me swear to it; taking care of Isabel gave me a purpose, a path, and it was the least I could do after…My hair whipped against my face as the breeze came up, carrying with it a faint moan. Isabel’s dreams had started early tonight, and I cowardly grasped on to it as a way to escape the damage I didn’t know how to repair. “Um, I’d better go help Kyle with Isabel.”

Michael nodded briefly, eyes masked to hide whatever he was thinking. I hurried back towards the tent on quick legs, mumbling, “Please don’t let this be a really bad ni-”

I couldn’t say what registered first: the sound, or the flames, but the explosion sent me flying backwards several feet to land hard in the sand. The tent was gone with only a pit filled with ashes and dancing flames to mark the passing of the two occupants inside. I stared at it numb, removed, my only thoughts focused on the piercing scream I could hear in the distance. Its long, high pitched wail hurt my ears, and I wanted to yell at the person to shut up, that screaming wouldn’t help. I wanted to explain that it was a mistake, that Isabel and Kyle couldn’t have been in that tent because I was supposed to take care of them and I would never let anything like this happen. The words didn’t emerge though, the passage was already filled. It’s hard to admonish yourself.

* * * * *

Present

“Michael? Alex? Would someone please tell me what’s going on? Who is she?” Alex ignored Liz’s questions as he maneuvered through her bedroom doorway to lay the blonde on her bed. Behind him he could hear Michael explaining that they had found the girl in the desert and that something was wrong with her. He paused in the act of wrapping blankets around her to look at his best friend since third grade. “Liz, your house was the closest one we could bring her too, and I know that you took emergency training while you were in Florida. Can you take a look at her?”

“Shouldn’t you call Max?” The brunette walked to the edge of the bed, and began helping Alex pile on the blankets. It was a hard task because the shaking had returned, along with an overall restlessness of tossing and turning.

“We thought he might be here,” Michael burst out. “You two used to be attached at the hip.”

Alex watched as Liz gave a small mirthless smile at the description. “Oh I think the hip ties have definitely been severed, but you can try his cell phone.”

Michael grunted and grabbed the portable off of the desk, jabbing roughly at the keys. The audible tones from across the room seemed to make Liz flinch. Alex decided to draw her attention back to the subject at hand. “What do you think is wrong with her?”

She stared for a moment, her eyes taking in the pale features before her. “It looks like she could be in shock, or maybe even hypothermia given her blue lips. It’s just…”

When she didn’t finish, Alex blurted out a little roughly, “It’s just what?”

Liz seemed to hesitate, biting her lip before answering. “Well, look at her eye lids, you can practically see her eyes moving around beneath them. That’s what people look like when they are dreaming.”

Alex opened his mouth to ask her to elaborate, but Michael cut him off. “I got a hold of Max. He’ll be here in twenty minutes.”

Something about the look on his face made Alex wonder what else Max had said, but he never got a chance to ask about it. A scream erupted from the bed. It sounded like someone was dying, its long note filled with despair. Her body had snapped back, arched almost in half as if the scream was literally drawing her form with it. Without a word, they all grabbed on to her, wrestling her back down onto the mattress, a job made much harder as she struggled and bucked against their hands. Liz tried to muffle the sound with her palm, and Alex ended up using his weight to hold down the girl’s twisting torso while Michael pinned her shoulders. They could hear the sound of feet pounding up the stairs, surely the Parker’s come to investigate. “Oh Fuck.”

Alex silently echoed Michael. Fuck summed it up so nicely. The girl heaved beneath him again, and he let his full weight bear down on her. As suddenly as the screaming had begun, it ceased, leaving them only with ringing ears and a body that had gone from rigid to ominously limp.

Fuck.

posted on 26-Jan-2003 1:08:33 PM
A/N: I have a stalker, Surfgirl? I have never had one of those before...I saw your note on Point of Grace. If you have any questions or anything you can always bmail me (or whatever it is called). Moving on, this is yet another dark chapter....

Chapter Four: Aliens coming…

November 11th, 2014

I was locked in that place inside of me again, that place that muffled the sounds of falling rocks, Michael’s return blasts at the enemy behind us, and Liz’s screams to hurry up, to be careful. It was not her face I saw looking back at me, but Alex’s features stained with blood; it was not the sandstone walls of the old mining tunnel leading to the Granolith surrounding me, but the burning rubble where a tent housing two lives once stood. Days ago Liz told me I was still in shock, and I had to laugh because I did not think that shock could last over a week. I think the sound scared her, it certainly did Michael who quietly made sure I fell into a dreamless sleep each night with the help of an expired bottle of sleeping pills. The police department psychiatrist we had all been forced to see after Kyle’s birthday disaster had prescribed them. Why Michael had kept them, I was not sure, but they were preferable to Max’s solution, Max who wanted to dull the memories in my mind, Max who feared that I was dangerously insane, a liability…Max who we were sending back in time to save us all.

After the explosion that took Kyle and Isabel, I could not stop screaming. It had finally taken Liz backhanding me across the face to make me stop. Her features had filled with such loathing and fear as she stared down at the hand that had moved without any conscious thought. Part of me wanted to tell her it was okay, that I was too far gone to even really feel it, but that part of me had buried itself so deep inside that no sound emerged. It wasn’t until Max tried to heal me, to erase the only images that were keeping me from embracing the blackness that took Isabel, Alex and Kyle, that I reacted at all. Those first few seconds were a blur. It took a moment for my mind to realize it was connected to my body again, and by that point I was flying at him. I heard Liz talking to Michael later about how eerie it was that I was completely calm as I grabbed Max about the throat. All I could remember was repeating over and over, “You can’t take them away from me too…”

Michael pulled me away and Liz talked the anger out of Max’s clenched fists, but we circled each other wearily after that. I think he was surprised later when I suggested that he be the one to take the Granolith back. I did not explain to him that he was not the best choice, only the most logical. He was the lesser of two evils really. He would not survive here without Liz if she went back, I was useless with no powers and nothing to recommend me to a group of teens I would not meet for another year and a half, and Michael…well Michael felt it was his duty to stay and fight, and I knew that the only thing keeping him from doing something stupid, something idiotically heroic was Liz’s presence. I did not explain any of this, just turned my eyes back to the fire after saying my piece, desperately searching for whatever Isabel had found in the dancing flames.

“Jesus, we only have ten minutes,” I heard Max yell back breaking through my insulating mental barrier, and reminding me that I did have a purpose in this moment. I paused to set the electrical tripwire Alex and I had designed for the walls. His blood stained features flashed before me in the rock and I fought back a shiver.

“Michael,” I screamed trying to distract myself. God my voice sounded rusty, cracking from disuse, “Hurry up.”

Liz and Max were getting ready to round the bend, and while I had instructed them both on how to complete the final activation of the Granolith, I needed to be there, I needed to know that I had done all that I could. …Look after her, all of them…

I turned my head to scream at Michael once again, but the words died in my throat. It was almost like watching a movie really. The cascade of rocks triggered by some unseen Skin’s blast fell in slow motion, particles of dirt floating down, masking chunks of falling sandstone. It was one of those scenes where the hero miraculously escapes, rolling just in time. Only that wasn’t how it happened, and when the dust cleared my eyes found Michael not standing nonchalantly off to the side, but buried from the waist down under the rock.

“Michael,” I whispered…or maybe that was Liz’s voice, either way his named echoed in my ears as I ran towards him. Somehow, even though she had been several yards ahead of me, Liz beat me to his prone form, kneeling by his side to cradle his head in her lap.

“Don’t worry, we’ll move the rocks. Max can heal you…” her voice faded out of my mind to be replaced by my own. Hold on Alex, Max will be here soon. Your going to be okay. Numb I dropped to his other side sliding his bag under him to help support his back. I had seen the look in Michael’s eyes before, there wasn’t time to save him, to save us, to save any of this. We were down to seven minutes.

“Dear God,” Max murmured as he approached, automatically raising his hand to dematerialize the rubble.

“Don’t bother,” Michael rasped, struggling to sit up higher. His breathing had taken on a labored quality, but it did not stop him. He glanced at me briefly, a quick meeting of the eyes, an acknowledgement that one of us had to speak the truth before turning to stare at Max. “There isn’t enough time.”

“No, that’s not true,” Liz began, but he cut her off, his hand coming up to grasp her arm. His gaze never wavered from that of his king’s. “You know what you have to do. Just go.”

Five minutes. The floor rumbled and cries echoed off the walls as another Skin was killed in one of our traps, but Max stood frozen where he was, gaping at the authority in his general’s voice. My jaw clenched hard and a burning formed in the center of my stomach. Had he forgotten why we were here? Fuck this, fuck him, this was not the moment for anyone to be falling behind. Michael could see that, why couldn’t Max? I jumped up, grabbing his elbow hard with my nails digging deep into cloth covered flesh as I pulled him away towards the Granolith. I only managed to drag him thirty feet before he pulled back so hard that my shoulder wrenched in the socket.

“What the fuck do you think you are doing?” I hissed, only to find him staring back at the scene behind us. Liz was bent over Michael, her hair forming a curtain between them and us.

“Liz. I-I need Liz,” his voice trembled with his quiet announcement and I felt the burning spreading inside me a little more. Jesus, Michael was dying. He was the one that needed someone, no one should go alone. I glanced at the deep lines in Max’s face then back at the couple behind us. What do you do if he’s not making her happy? Nothing. You do nothing because if it all worked out right none of this will have happened, no War, no death, no burning rubble and bloody faces. I knew this, Michael knew this. Only three minutes left. Go do what you have to do.

I shoved Max in front of me, “Keep going. I’ll get her.”

I ran back, my harsh breathing and pounding footfalls bringing Liz’s eyes up to meet my own. I didn’t even have to say anything. She understood duty well, better than the rest of us ever did. She took one last soft pass of her fingers along Michael’s cheek before pulling herself up and taking off after Max. If she looked back, I didn’t know, I had taken her place on the ground. “How do you feel?”

He grimaced in response, but there was something in his eyes. Did they look lighter? I frowned as I pulled my modified taser, and pressed it into his hand.

“I can hold them off fine,” he grumbled, shades of a Michael I hadn’t heard in so long. Alex had reverted back before dying too. Tell me a story, Serena. The burning was beginning to travel up my esophagus causing me to swallow hard before explaining. “It’s for when…it’s for when blasting takes too much energy.”

His fingers moved from the weapon to clasp my wrist. “Take the pills with you Serena. I won’t be needing them.”

Those little blue and white capsules that sent me into the freeing darkness each night. Our savior in suicidal form. A pact between Michael, Liz and myself that after Max went back we would each swallow enough pills that there would be no one for the Skin’s to mind rape for answers. It was both the death I prayed for and the death I feared. Who would await me in the aftermath? I had thought that Michael felt the same way, but there was a new air of calmness that had settled into his features. I didn’t have time to ask, to question, so I simply nodded, slipping my hand away to pull the plastic bottle from the exposed pocket of his bag. “Goodbye Michael.”

I should not have bothered. He wasn’t even looking at me anymore, his gaze turned towards a group of approaching Skins, his hand raising to fire a blast. And yet, as I ran away, I thought I heard his voice above the explosions, a mere whisper. “Let us escape the cruel night.”

Maybe I was right after all.

I entered the Granolith chamber only a minute or two after the flash that signaled that Max was gone. I had lost time setting the last of the traps, anything to delay the Skins long enough. Liz didn’t even acknowledge my presence as I stepped up to the glowing rock and began to type in the new code, the code that would guarantee that this would all end one way or another.

Her voice, when it finally emerged, shocked even me. “I told him I didn’t have any regrets.”

Her arms were clasped tightly crossed her body, her tone bleak. “One more lie to add to a soul already going to hell.”

She looked at me then, eyes black with pain. “Did you ever consider that you might have had another life if only you’d taken that chance offered so long ago?”

“What exactly are you asking me, Liz?” I asked slowly, my voice echoing oddly in the room as I moved the activation crystal into its new position. It locked in. Armed. Ready.

“Regrets, second thoughts…Don’t tell me you never thought about it because I know we all have. So let’s hear some of them.” She kind of collapsed at the base of the Granolith at that point, the anger rushing out of her along with the strength in her knees. She didn’t seem to even notice the increasingly rhythmic pulse of the rock she leaned against as it built up energy, swept away as she was by her own lost opportunities. “God knows mine are evident enough.”

Michael. I knew it then that she was thinking of him, out there dying or already dead. No one to hold him like I did Alex, no one to mourn his passing because none of this would exist. It would never happen, I would never have to face my own regrets and weaknesses again. I handed Liz her little handful of pills and the bottle of Patron of Kyle’s I had found the week after his death. It seemed ironic that I would go out with Kyle on my lips and Alex on my mind, but maybe it would give Liz what she needed. …Look after her, all of them… Forgive me, Alex. “Take the pills with the tequila, and we’ll just fade out with my regrets, okay?”

I waited until she had taken a large swallow, hacking and coughing before stealing it back to throw back a shot of my own. Warm and strong, it burned away the bitter taste of the sleeping pills of which I had only taken one. Ten minus one makes nine, nine blue and white pills that had the power to send me away forever, but not until after. Heaven or Hell, it didn’t really matter. I just needed to keep my promise, I needed to know Liz was gone before I could finish myself.

An extra shot of Patron followed just seconds after the first. Liquid courage, no more, not yet, no release yet. “I met Alex soon after I broke up with the Prick. Stacie my roommate always called him that, so much so that I slipped once when out on a date with him. His real name was Jerry, not that it matters because the only thing I regret about him was that I didn’t break up with him before he left me.”

I paused for a moment, fiddling with the bottle. I was babbling, Jerry the Prick had not even entered my thoughts in so long, not like Stacie did. Stacie whose only crime was to be in the wrong airport during a terrorist attack. Stacie who used to tease me out of my bad moods and pour coffee straight into my veins to help me wake up after a long night of programming. I hope she went quickly, easily. Beside me Liz’s head rolled drunkenly on her shoulders, the changes caused by Max’s long ago healing speeding the effects of the alcohol and pills. We had thought this might happen, planned for it. Michael had thought he would be the last to take them, last to go, but I had always known differently. I would be the last to go because I should have been the first to die, not Alex.

Part of me wondered if Liz could even comprehend what I was saying anymore, part of me wondered if it mattered. Maybe these were my last rites, my life flashing before my eyes. Nine little pills stuck to my sweaty palm, waiting. “There was this boy…not boy…man named Sam Lewis. He used to work at the campus coffee shop. Sam the Coffeeman. He knew what I was going to say before I did sometimes, could judge my moods by the way I opened the door. He asked me out when Jerry and I broke up, and I said no. I was afraid, afraid to lose that little bit of normality, that friendly smile. God, I didn’t even know what fear was back then, but I buried anything I could have possibly felt for him deep down inside, for protection. He graduated the end of that year, and the next Alex came…”

Liz murmured something unintelligible before coughing and gagging, her body trying to reject the poison, but her will to die was as strong as her loyalty. She kept down. I swallowed the rest of my capsules. Three with each tequila chaser. It was time. I didn’t want to feel it when the Granolith exploded like I feared Stacie did in that long ago airport, didn’t want to see the Skins I could hear coming towards us. I just wanted to die in my sleep, to feel that comforting blackness one more time, forever. It was time to end it as it should be ended…with Alex. “He was so funny, always there making a joke, willing to go over that one equation that just wouldn’t work, digging his way inside. I didn’t realize I was opening up until I was in love. In love with a man I couldn’t touch, or have as my own.”

Her head slid down against my shoulder, her chest not moving as the strong scent of ammonia filled the air. And then there was one, only me to hear my confession, hard as it was to give. Jesus, where was my blackness, my forgetfulness. I hugged the bottle closer to my chest, it was my crutch now. “That’s what I regret, never taking that chance. Having to delude myself with another man’s touches when I couldn’t have the one I wanted. Never letting myself be happy.”

“All I wanted was to be happy.” I tried to take another drink, but my arms felt weak, fingers clumsy and numb. My head, heavy, bobbed forward with the long beat of my lashes. I did love you Alex. His face swam before my eyes, twisted, bloody and sad. My Serenity… I’m so sorry I failed you.

The waves the Granolith was giving off were filling the room now, only a few minutes left. The whole cave was spinning, and those ten little pills were trying to force their way back up. I snapped my teeth together as fast I could, molars cutting into cheek, copper blood mixing with the precursor drops of tequila and bile. I swallowed down hard, locking my throat. This existence would end whether or not Max changed the course of fate. My body stopped fighting and my eyes drifted close. Please…please let this be the last time. I closed myself off, pulled in, tried to ignore the buzzing of the alien bomb I leaned against and the shuffling noises at the edge of the room. This was it…

“Well now, what’s this?” Wonder. Dark. Wrong. God I was so tired. Don’t think. Ignore. Alex…

Lifting, burning. “Yo Duke, gotta live one he’.”

Pulling me up, out into the light. Squeeze those eyes tighter. No. Darkness. Pulsing heat…healing?...burned. Jesus, my chest, my mind. It hurt. It was not supposed to hurt. No, you can’t take them away from me too… Make it stop, please God, Alex, anyone, make it stop….

[center]* * * * *[/center]

The Present…

Maria had saved the day. Alex mulled that little twisted piece of reality over in his mind as he sat next to the still form on the bed. The girl moaned quietly, chest rising and eye lids still flickering, but otherwise calm. Her skin was regaining most of its color too. No more blue lips, but he was still faced with the universal anomaly that Maria had seriously come to the rescue. She had arrived at Liz’s bedroom door minutes before the Parkers, and willingly made up some babbling story about Michael challenging her lung capacity to explain away the scream.

“Was he specifically challenging your ability to act in a horror film,” Jeff asked, eyes sharp while Nancy seemed to be visually searching Michael and Liz who stood blocking the doorway for some sort of wound.

Alex was pretty sure that they hadn’t believed her, but Liz’s parents were not the type to push. That, and they probably feared that Maria would let a scream loose just to prove them wrong. His own ears still hurt from the original one. Whoever his…Serenity?...was she had good lung capacity. Still, he had to wonder if this all qualified Maria for superhero status. Would they have to start projecting an “M” in the sky to signal for her help? Given that she had currently embroiled herself in an argument of epic proportions with Michael, he did not think they would be calling for her skills anytime soon. “…What the hell were you thinking bringing that-that person here? Don’t you know we obviously don’t have good luck with strange blondes?”

“You’re blonde, Maria, and you’re here.” Michael folded his arms across his chest, obviously settling in for the long run. Alex winced, it was not smart to piss Hurricane Deluca off like that. Maybe he needed to step in.

“Emphasis on the word strange, like Courtney for example,” she shot back in a NutraSweet tone. The storm was definitely building, any minute now she was going to physical attack her ex, it was definitely time to step in. No way in hell was Michael going to pass up the opening that last comment had provided.

“I was the one that wanted her brought here.” There. Settled. End of argument. Only Maria was suddenly staring very pointedly at his hand. He followed her gaze. When had he started stroking the girl’s face, and why couldn’t he make himself stop? He looked up trying to find an ally, but Michael was quirking an interested eyebrow and Liz was giving him The Look. Damn, she hadn’t used The Look since the very early beginnings of his feelings for Isabel. Guaranteed there was going to be a long embarrassing talk later. Why did he have to pick female best friends?

Max chose that moment to burst through the door, huffing and puffing. Tess followed closely behind him, and briefly Alex considered the idea that she might be responsible for the King’s loss of breath. Kyle slid in behind the first two, eyes wide with interest. Nope, apparently Max just needed to work out more. “What is going on? How could you endanger us like this?”

And to think he had actually been happy to see the idiot king for a few seconds. He could feel a spark of anger breaking through his strange bemused state. How dare Max question him when he and the rest of the aliens had embroiled them plenty of dangerous situations. He had broken Liz’s heart and yet he stood there fully expecting someone to get down on their knees and beg his forgiveness. Bastard. He was definitely one that could not take the moral high ground. Surprisingly, help for Alex’s cause came from an unexpected source. “Look Maxwell, we found her in the desert. She’s not a Skin, but she does seem to know who Alex is. So get off your fucking high horse, and try to help her out. Liz said it looked like she was in shock.”

Twice in one day Michael Guerin managed to break his personal best in the most words spoken at one time category. Wow. Somehow he thought it prudent not to mention this little observation with the group, better to have Michael on his side for a little while.

Max looked at Liz who nodded, but refused to meet his eyes for any length of time. In fact, she seemed to scoot a little closer to Michael. Now that was interesting. Maybe he would be the one having the talk with Liz. Tess started arguing the intelligence of the whole situation and Kyle made a smart ass comment about how they felt they had to physically harm people to get them to join their little club. Max just kept staring at Liz who was now practically hip to hip with the other Michael. The blonde beside him murmured quietly, had she just said his name again? He cleared his throat to get the everyone’s attention, this had gone on long enough. “Excuse me, she’s not getting any better over here, and since she is the only one that could possibly answer any of our questions…”

His voice hung in the air for a few moments before Max finally approached the bed. “She’s needs to be looking at me.”

“She has only opened her eyes twice in the last hour Maxwell, so quit stalling,” Michael growled sensing the teen’s hesitance.

Alex got up so the alien King could take his position beside the girl on the bed, the hand he placed above the girl’s chest glowing silver. Max frowned, “I just don’t think this is going to wo—”

It happened so quickly, his voice cut off by a well placed hand to the throat. One second the little blonde had been lying still on the bed as Max attempted to heal her, and the next she had the teen pinned against the quilt as she knelt over him, her face inches from his own. “I told you Max, you can’t take them away from me.”

Her voice was so calm, cold, empty, her entire focus on the boy beneath her. Alex could not believe what he was seeing. He wanted to cry out that this wasn’t right as Michael and Tess both raised their hands to blast her. He must have made some sort of a sound because her head flew up and her dilated pupils shrunk to pin points of black within the blue of her eyes as she took in the rest of the room. “Alex?”

Her body relaxed, sliding right off Max into a sitting position on the bed. “Oh god, Alex. You’re alive. You’re real.”

Max seemed afraid to move, afraid she would attack him again. Neither of the other two aliens had released their stance either. She wasn’t looking at them though, she was watching him, Alex, her lips curling up into a smile that took over her entire face. “For awhile I thought they were just dreams, not real, that I was insane.” She seemed to find something about her garbled sentence funny because she chuckled, but is sounded a bit ragged, strained, “But here you are.”

It was the tears that started down her cheeks again that helped him find his tongue. “I’m sorry, but…uh…we’ve never been properly introduced.”

A gurgle of laughter escaped at his formal tone, “It’s okay.” She tilted her head, and several strands of hair fell across her brow. Once again he was struck by that strange sense of familiarity. “Serena. I’m Serena”

A choked gasp filled the room, drawing his attention to the brunette that stood by the door, skin white.

“Liz are you okay?”




[ edited 1 time(s), last at 26-Jan-2003 1:10:17 PM ]
posted on 6-Feb-2003 10:00:26 AM
Gee Thanks Asa and everyone else who bumped or left feedback!

I'm trying as hard as I can, but I have a couple of stories that have their pickaxes in my brain right now, and my top priority is a story I'm writing with my partner Lauren21 called "Double Negatives" (basically because she can get on my case if I'm not coming up with plot fast enough).

Serena is one of my favorite characters to write though (she, and two others named Callista and Evie, pretty much rule my writing subconscious). I'll do my best to let her out to play soon,

Linsey