Brothers and Sisters (OTH,XO,CC,TEEN)AN p. 23-Oct20

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Kath7
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Brothers and Sisters (OTH,XO,CC,TEEN)AN p. 23-Oct20

Post by Kath7 » Fri Jul 02, 2004 4:22 pm

Title: Brothers and Sisters

Author: Kath7

Disclaimer: I don’t own either the concepts or characters from Roswell, One Tree Hill, or The Dead Zone. I’m just borrowing them, with thanks. The title of this story comes from the Coldplay song, which can be found on the Roswell soundtrack. Thank you to Anniepoo and Bordersinsanity for the great banners. I couldn’t pick between them, so I decided to post both.

Rating: TEEN

Summary: Crossover - Roswell/One Tree Hill. Based on a challenge by A Rose is True Blue. Liz Parker from Roswell, New Mexico discovers a truth about her family that will change her life forever. Couplings will be all CC from Roswell, and L/P and N/H from One Tree Hill. This isn’t really a shipper story though. The main focus will be on Liz from Roswell, and Lucas and Nathan from OTH.

This fic will also have elements from The Dead Zone TV show. Characters from the show will not be included, but Liz will discover a new talent that is very similar to that possessed by Johnny in The Dead Zone.

Setting: This is set post-Sexual Healing in the Roswell world, and post-Crash Course in Polite Conversation in the OTH world. The Roswellians are sophomores, the OTH characters juniors. We’ll just pretend that Max healed Liz in the fall of 2003, shall we?

Author’s Note: Yes, yes! I know I have four other stories that need updating. I almost have a new part of Born of the Stars ready to go. I just need to finish reposting it on CC. In the meantime, I am writing this one just for fun. I am hoping to update once a week, on Fridays.

Winner - Round 6

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Winner - Round 7

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Brooke

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Winner - Round 8

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Lucas


Part 1

Roswell, New Mexico - February, 2004

"Where do you think you’re going, young lady?"

Liz Parker froze. She grimaced before looking over at the window leading into her bedroom. Her father stood framed there, his arms crossed, a stern expression on his face.

"Um, nowhere?" she suggested lamely. The fact that she was standing on the ladder that led down from her balcony, however, clearly indicated that this was not the case. And Jeff Parker was no fool. He sighed heavily, and started to pull himself through the window.

Liz glanced down at her boyfriend, Max Evans, who was hovering at the bottom of the ladder, a panicked expression on his face. She waved her one free hand at him urgently. He melted into the shadows, just as her dad reached her and looked down over the side. Liz let out a breath, her heart starting to slow in her chest.

Her relief was short-lived, however. "Max, I know you’re there," Jeff called down, making Liz close her eyes in frustration. "I suggest you go home right now, and maybe I’ll ignore the urge I’m suddenly having to call your parents."

"Hi, Mr. Parker," Max said ruefully, emerging from his hiding spot. "Uh…I just came by to borrow a book from Liz. For school."

"Let me guess," Jeff returned wryly. "Romeo and Juliet?"

"Um…" Max looked up at Liz helplessly. She had, by this time, returned to the balcony. She shook her head at him, exasperated.

"No, Dad! Biology," Liz snapped. She was so tired of this! If she wanted to see her boyfriend, she should be perfectly able to do so without sneaking around.

"You two more than know that you have one more week of house arrest before we’ll consider letting you see each other outside of school," Jeff continued patiently. "This kind of stuff is not helping your cause. It’s what got you into this mess in the first place."

"Dad, we know," Liz flared. "I mean, Mom reminds me every single minute of the day."

"Go home, Max," Jeff repeated sternly. "We’ll just pretend this didn’t happen, shall we?"

"Thanks, Mr. Parker," Max replied. "I’ll see you tomorrow, Liz."

"I’ll call you later," Liz told him, glancing at her father mutinously.

"Hey, Max, aren’t you forgetting something?" Jeff called down as Max moved away. Liz’s father sounded amused, which only made Liz more angry.

Max turned, looking confused. "I am?"

"Your textbook?"

"Oh, for…" Liz marched across the balcony, and picked up her biology textbook from where it sat on the lawn chair near the window. She returned to the ledge and dropped it down to Max, who caught it expertly. He looked at it for a moment, bemused. She rolled her eyes at him, and he grinned slightly, obviously beginning to find the humour in the situation. She could almost read his mind. He was thinking about how nice it was to have normal teenage problems, like groundings and parental harassment.

Liz was beginning to wonder if she agreed. At least when they were dealing with the alien chaos, or running from the sheriff, they were together. This imposed separation - two weeks and counting - was beginning to slowly drive her insane. She was not typically a rebellious child, her parents knew this, and the severity of this punishment did not fit the crime, in her opinion.

"Bye," Max said again, staring up at her, his dark eyes gleaming in the reflected light of the strings of Christmas lights she had draped around her balcony.

"Bye," Liz replied softly. Her heart started to beat more quickly, as it always did when Max looked at her.

Moments later, she heard the jeep start at the end of the alley, and then drive away. Finally, she turned back to face her dad, who was, by now, leaning against the wall beside the window, arms crossed, the stern expression having returned to his face.

"Liz…" he began, but his daughter cut him off impatiently.

"Dad, I know, okay?" she exclaimed. "It won’t happen again. But, I mean, really! We barely have any chance to talk to each other at school. I miss him!"

"You know that this is for your own good," Jeff argued, following her back through her window. "Your mother and I…"

"Are worried that we’re moving too fast, that we’re going to get ourselves into trouble…blah, blah, blah." Liz whirled, throwing her hands up in the air in frustration. "Dad, I know. I just don’t understand why you won’t believe me that Max and I aren’t having sex."

"Liz, you stayed out all night," her father reminded her.

"And, even if we were," Liz continued, ignoring the fact that her dad had spoken. "We’re not complete idiots, okay? We’d be careful."

"Lizzie, this isn’t about that," Jeff told her gently. "You know it isn’t. It’s about us being able to trust you."

"Dad, you can trust me," Liz retorted. "But Max and I love each other. We’re going to be together. I don’t know why you and Mom can’t just accept that!"

"It’s not that we don’t believe you, Liz. But the Evans agree with us. You and Max have been acting very irresponsibly since you got together. We’re trying to teach you a lesson now, so that later, when you are in the position of having to make important choices, you make the right ones."

"Dad! We will!"

"You haven’t demonstrated that you can yet, Liz. If you think that staying out all night with your boyfriend, when you’re both only 16, is acceptable, then you have another think coming. And that’s what these three weeks are for," Jeff retorted, finally beginning to raise his voice. Liz was pleased. It was what she had been going for. She wanted her father to stop pretending that he was doing this "for her own good." He was doing it because he was trying to prevent her from growing up. He was just as bad as her mother.

When Max and Liz had returned from their night in the desert, their parents had clearly not believed that they had just fallen asleep, which was what this was really about. Liz had felt like Mrs. Evans was branding her with a scarlet letter for tempting her innocent little boy, her eyes were so cold. Meanwhile, Liz’s mother had been about ready to murder Max, if the expression on her face had been any indication. But Nancy Parker had also been pleased. She had been the one over-reacting all week to how much time Max and Liz were spending together, and she was happy to finally have the ammunition to separate them for a while.

The dads had been much more reasonable, but since Max and Liz couldn’t exactly tell either set of parents that they had fallen asleep waiting for a signal from an alien, rather than engaging in any illicit activity, (not that the illicit activity hadn’t preceded the sleeping, but they had not gone all the way) they had been forced to accept the grounding that their parents all agreed upon before they came back.

It wasn’t that they hadn’t expected to be punished. Liz, in particular, had known that she was going to be in for it, and that she might even be forbidden to see Max for a while, but it was getting ridiculous! The first week had been bad, the second torturous. Seeing him at school just wasn’t good enough - not when she wanted to be with him every second of the day.

Finally, about to enter the third week of "house arrest" as her father termed it - straight home after school, and no going out except to work in her family’s restaurant, the Crashdown, downstairs - she had had enough. Which was why she had called Max and managed to convince her mostly virtuous boyfriend to sneak out with her. After all, she knew that he missed her as much as she missed him. He had been banned from his usual haunting of the middle booth at the Crashdown, and Isabel, his sister, had told Liz at school yesterday that she was just about ready to zap all of his Counting Crows CD’s into small piles of dust.

But, of course, they had been caught. Since Liz knew she had violated the terms of her punishment, she had already decided in advance that a good offense was better than any lame excuse, should this happen.

And, so, she burst into tears. It was embarrassing, it was unlike her, but she was desperate. If she didn’t get a chance to talk to Max alone soon, to find out if he had ever heard from the alien who had hidden the orb that had gotten them into this mess in the first place, she thought she might lose her mind. "Daddy, please! This is just so unfair!"

"No one ever said life was fair, Liz," Jeff replied, sounding unmoved. "It’s my job to protect you. I was willing to give you and Max the benefit of the doubt, but I think your mother has been proven right. You can’t be trusted, and so, I’m adding another week onto your grounding."

"Dad!" Liz shrieked, disbelieving, her tears disappearing. "No!"

"I’m sorry, Liz. But you’ve brought this on yourself. I think I may have to call the Evans after all, too."

"Daddy, no!" Liz exclaimed, visions of Max’s parents hating her even more than they already did running through her mind. She rushed forward, grabbing his arms desperately. "I’ll do anything! I’ll clean the entire house! I’ll polish all the silverware in the restaurant. Just, please, don’t add another week!"

Jeff folded his arms again, raising an eyebrow. He tilted his head and examined her. Liz felt her heart beating double-time. She could see that he was wavering. She knew her father. He absolutely hated punishing her. He had always been the easy parent, her mother the disciplinarian.

"Dad, I swear! I won’t leave the apartment all week. Please!" Liz pleaded. He was bending, she could tell. She tried to look as innocent as possible.

"I’ll tell you what," Jeff finally said. "All this talk of cleaning has reminded me that we have an attic that needs a good going-over."

Liz felt her heart sink. Was he really going to take her up on her offer? She hadn’t expected that. She wrinkled her nose. "The attic?"

"Your Grandma Claudia left a lot of stuff behind, when she passed away," Jeff continued. "It needs to be sorted out. Your mom and I want to have a yard sale in the spring." He grinned. "It might even be fun. Your grandma had a lot of neat things."

Liz felt a pang, remembering her beloved grandmother, who had died of a stroke in the fall. Recalling that difficult time again reminded her of Max, and how much she missed him. After all, Grandma’s death had brought them closer. "Are you saying that if I clean the attic, then my grounding is over?"

"After it’s done," Jeff replied sternly.

"Can I have help?" Liz asked, already scheming about how quickly she could accomplish this task. She and Max would be back to normal in no time!

"As long as it’s not Max." Her dad raised a finger warningly. "I’m not an idiot, Liz."

"I meant Maria and Alex," Liz told him, offended.

"Okay," Mr. Parker agreed. "Maria and Alex can help out. If you can convince them."

Liz smiled, feeling triumphant. "No problem. You’re right. It might even be fun."

She wondered why her father looked just as certain that he had won this battle. "Well, it might be fun, but don’t think that this is me letting you off lightly, sweetie. It’s a big job."

As she watched her father leave, Liz flopped back on her bed and grinned at the ceiling. She was sure her father was mistaken. After all, how messy could one attic possibly be?

***

"You have got to be kidding," Maria Deluca exclaimed when she pushed her way past a curtain of cob-webs and into the attic. It was the next day and Liz felt her hopes come crashing to the ground as she followed her best friend through the trap door and into the storage space. "Liz, this is going to take forever!"

Alex Whitman, Liz’s other best friend, was shaking his head. "Jeez! Your parents sure don’t believe in throwing anything out, do they?"

Liz stared around in dismay. "I haven’t been up here in a long time," she muttered, already cursing her father again. "Ouch!" she exclaimed, when she stubbed her toe on the baby doll carriage blocking the center of the room.

"What are we getting out of this again?" Maria demanded, turning to glare at Liz. "Michael wanted to hang out today."

"You want to hang out with Michael Guerin, whom you yourself have called a complete moron many times over, when you could be helping your best friend, whom you haven’t seen in weeks?" Liz retorted, linking her arm with Maria’s. "Come on, Maria! You’re the one who said you’d do anything to be able to hang out again."

"I didn’t mean bulldoze an archeological site, Liz," Maria replied. "Besides, I must admit that I’m glad that you’re under house arrest. You and Max were getting a little hot and heavy there. I agree with your parents. You needed to take a step back. We still don’t know what alien mating rituals involve."

"Okay, is there a bucket around here?" Alex demanded. "Because, if you keep talking about this, I may need one in which to hurl. How many times do I have to tell you that the thought of you two with guys creeps me out to the last degree?"

Liz ignored him. "Puh-lease," she said, smacking her best friend lightly. "Max told me on the phone last night that Michael decided to experiment to see if he could give you a glowing hickey."

Maria scowled. "I’m going to kill him," she muttered. "And when were you talking to Max anyway, missy?" she demanded, her face a bright shade of red.

"Nice change of subject there," Liz laughed. "But Max and I are still allowed to talk on the phone."

"I think I’m going to need to talk to your parents," Maria said primly. And, then, in an attempt to really change the subject, she reached out and picked up a pair of flashy bell bottoms, which were draped over a trunk. "Ew." Liz grinned as Maria held them up to her waist and walked over to the dusty full-length mirror across the room. "On second thought, cool!"

"Good Lord," Alex said. He shook his head at Maria, then returned to rummaging in a box nearby. He pulled out a comic book gleefully. "Liz, do you know how much these are worth? Your dad was as big a dork as I am!"

"Hello? Where are you guys?"

Liz started, glancing over at the trap-door. Moments later, Isabel Evans’s golden blonde head poked through it.

"Isabel, you made it!" Alex exclaimed. He rushed forward, helping Isabel the last few feet into the attic.

Liz glanced at Maria, who seemed as surprised as she did. She looked back at Max’s sister. "Isabel?"

"Hey," Isabel replied easily, glancing around. "Wow. You weren’t kidding, Alex. This is a disaster." Liz stared at her. Isabel’s eyes were gleaming. She seemed excited.

"How did you know it was a disaster?" Maria demanded of Alex. "And why on Earth didn’t you warn me?"

Alex shrugged. "I have my sources." When Maria advanced on him threateningly, he held up his hands to ward her off. "Okay! Peace! I happened to be around a couple of months ago when Grandma Parker’s stuff arrived. I helped Mr. Parker haul some of it up here."

"You?" Liz teased. "Since when do you do heavy lifting? Didn’t you once tell me that you were a computer geek for a reason? That physical exertion should never require more than lifting a dodge ball?"

Alex glared at her, glancing at Isabel meaningfully. "I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about."

"Right," Maria said, grinning at Liz. "Anyway, what are you doing here, Isabel?"

"I came for two reasons," Isabel replied. The tall blonde was already rummaging in her large bag and was pulling out more cleaning supplies than Liz had ever seen. "One, my brother is seriously on the verge of driving me insane with his mooning. I mean, I thought you two were bad when you were in each other’s company. But I’m willing to put up with just about anything if it gets him off of my couch while I’m trying to watch The O.C."

Maria and Liz exchanged another amused glance.

"And, two?" Liz asked.

"And, two," Isabel continued, rubbing her hands together, her eyes gleaming in that strange way again. "I love to clean."

***

Two hours later, Liz knew that Isabel had not been kidding. She did love to clean, and she worked hard when she did it. But she had left out the third reason she wanted to help. She also loved to boss people around.

But, if Isabel hadn’t been present, they likely wouldn’t have gotten very far, Liz reflected, as she sat back on her heels, and pushed a lock of hair off cheek wearily. Maria kept getting distracted by the vintage clothing she found, and Alex had tried to sprawl onto Grandma’s old couch with a few comic books, before Isabel ordered him back to work. Thanks to Max’s sister, they had actually started to make a dent.

"What’s in there, Liz?" Isabel asked, passing by behind her. The tall blonde was lugging a box closer to the trap-door, so that it could be more easily moved down for the eventual yard sale. She paused to stare at the chest Liz had uncovered when she’d finished folding all her Grandpa Parker’s old clothes.

Liz pushed her hair back behind her ears. "I was just about to open it," she replied.

"It looks like a hope chest," Isabel told her, setting down the box, and dropping to her knees beside Liz. "My mom has one."

"What’s that?" Maria inquired, coming up behind them. Liz and Isabel exchanged a grin. Maria was the first to jump at any excuse to stop working.

"A lot of girls used to have them," Liz explained, pushing the lid off the dark mahogany chest. "They stored stuff in it that they might need when they moved out on their own, or got married." She stared down at the blue and white pompoms that sat on top of the items in the chest. "I don’t think this is a hope chest though." She pulled out the pompoms, and set them aside. Beneath them sat a yearbook. "I thought so," she exclaimed.

"What is it?" Alex demanded. He had joined them by this time too.

"It’s my mom’s high school stuff," Liz exclaimed. She picked up the yearbook and pointed at the cover. "See? Tree Hill High."

"Where the heck is Tree Hill?" Maria demanded.

"North Carolina," Liz replied. "My mom grew up there." She stared at the pompoms. "I didn’t know my mom was a cheerleader. Weird."

"Yeah," Alex agreed. "You don’t seem like the offspring of a spirit stick devotee." All three girls turned to stare at him. "What? I’ve seen Bring It On!" he exclaimed defensively. When they continued to stare, he glared at Liz and then Maria. "Excuse me! I saw it with you two!" His face was, by now, bright red. "Jeez!" He glanced at Isabel. "Where are Max and Michael? I think I need to find me some testosterone. I’m feeling judged."

Maria grabbed the yearbook out of Liz’s hands and started flipping through the pages. "What was your mom’s maiden name again?"

"Richards," Liz replied. She and Isabel leaned over Maria’s shoulders so that they could see the yearbook, too. Maria stopped on the page where Nancy Parker’s senior class picture could be found.

Alex, who had given up pretending to be uninterested, gave out a low whistle. "Whoa. Your mom was a babe, Liz."

Liz wrinkled her nose. "You think?"

"Totally," Alex replied. There was a pause. "Well, except for the hair of course."

"It was the eighties, Alex," Isabel said. "Give the woman a break."

"Hey, look at this!" Maria exclaimed, giggling. She touched another picture, in the bottom left-hand corner of the facing page. There was a heart drawn around it in red marker. "Your mom must have had a crush."

"I don’t blame her," Isabel put in. "What a hottie."

"Hello? I’m standing right here." Alex pretended to be offended.

"What?" Isabel demanded. "You’re allowed to call Liz’s mom a babe, but I can’t say that…" she paused, reading the name next to the picture, then continued, "Dan Scott is a hottie?"

"But, you see Isabel, you’re not the one with the inferiority complex," Alex told her, grinning.

"Well, I think he’s kind of mean looking," Maria said. "Look at those eyes."

Liz tilted her head, examining the picture of Dan Scott. Her best friend was right. His dark eyes were cold above the half grin.

Liz nudged Maria to continue flipping through the yearbook. They stopped on a full-page spread entitled Ravens Basketball Rocks!

"There’s your mom again, Liz," Maria said, pointing at a picture near the top of the page. The candid shot portrayed Nancy Parker in her cheerleader outfit, laughing with another girl as they stood on the sidelines of a basketball game. The caption read "Nancy Richards and Karen Roe - Two Peas on a Squad!"

They found Nancy on several more pages, including as a member of the Homecoming Court, and the Prom Court.

"Your mom was queen bee, wasn’t she?" Maria said.

"I guess so," Liz replied, a little amazed. She had known that her mom was a cheerleader, but she hadn’t really guessed that she was so popular. But it was very clear that she had been. There were pictures of her everywhere, usually in the company of the same pretty girl from the cheerleading picture, Karen Roe. Liz was surprised that Liz had never heard of her. It was quite obvious that they had been the best of friends in high school.

"You know, I think you’re missing out on an opportunity, Parker," Alex said teasingly. "You could join the Comets’ squad. I mean, it’s in your genes. You and Pam Troy could be best friends!"

"Ew," Liz said, knowing it was the expected reaction, but she was slightly distracted. She had just noticed something a little odd. They were still gazing at the prom page. She looked at the picture of her mother posting with Karen Roe and two boys, one of whom was the same guy her mom had drawn a heart around in the class pictures. Strangely, he was not her mother’s date though. He had his arm around the other girl. Liz frowned. Her mother was not looking directly at the camera, but rather at the boy named Dan Scott. And she looked entirely lovesick.

The truth was so clear, Liz almost couldn’t believe it. Her mother had been in love with her best friend’s boyfriend in high school! It made Liz feel weird knowing this. She wasn’t sure why, but it also made her uncomfortable.

"I recognize that dress," Maria exclaimed, pulling Liz out of her strange reverie. She jumped to her feet and thrust the yearbook at Liz. She hurried across the attic, rummaged through a rack of old clothes and pulled out an aquamarine, taffeta dress. "Tada!"

"Try it on, Liz," Isabel suggested. Liz glanced at the other girl, surprised. "It’ll be hilarious. I mean, look at it!"

Liz wrinkled her nose. The dress was indeed hideous. If she had to describe it only one word, puffy was the only thing that came to mind. "Okay," she said, although she wasn’t entirely sure she wanted to. There was something about the dress that repelled her, but it was more trouble than it was worth to try and explain this to her friends. She took the dress from Maria, then disappeared behind the old changing screen in the corner of the attic. She emerged several moments later and stood in front of the full-length mirror next to it.

As she stared at herself in her mother’s dress, Liz felt momentarily dizzy. She reached up and touched her forehead, then glanced at Maria and Isabel in the mirror. Alex had gone back to the couch and his comic books, obviously bored by the fashion show.

"Liz, are you okay?" Isabel asked, sounding worried. "You don’t look so good."

"It’s the colour," Maria suggested. "It doesn’t suit her. She looks better in red."

But Liz barely heard her best friend’s comment. Maria’s voice was fading out. Liz stared into the mirror, then blinked.

Because she was no longer looking at herself. Instead, a much younger version of her mother was staring back at her.

"You look gorgeous."

Liz blinked. She didn’t recognize the voice. She felt a shudder descend her spine when a light kiss was dropped on her exposed shoulder. Looking behind her, she saw that she was no longer in her attic. Instead, she was standing in a classroom with coats piled high on the desks.

"Meet me in the band room in half an hour," the voice whispered.

The scene changed and Liz found herself in what was obviously a music room. "You came," the same voice greeted her.

"I shouldn’t be here," she heard herself say, but it was not her at all. It was, instead, a younger sounding version of her mother’s voice.

"Why not? We both want this," the voice said. He was still in shadow, but Liz knew it was a guy, and she was pretty sure she knew which guy.

It was Dan Scott. He was standing in front of her, wearing a wolfish grin, his eyes smoldering.

"But, what about Karen?" Liz squeaked.

"What about her?" Dan asked. "She has nothing to do with us, Nan. You mean more to me than she ever will."

"I can’t," she said firmly. But she could hear the regret in her voice. "You need to break up with her."

"I promise I will," Dan replied.

"I don’t believe you," Liz said.

"I’d do anything for you, Nan." Liz felt her knees weaken at the sincerity of his tone. But, as she gazed up into his dark eyes, another shiver ran down her spine.

"Liz…LIZ!"

Liz blinked. She shook her head slightly, still staring into the mirror. Her eyes widened when her own reflection, wearing her mother’s very ugly prom dress, stared back.

She turned her head, then blinked again, when she realized that Isabel was shaking her. "Are you okay?"

Liz glanced at Maria, who was hovering nearby, her face white. Alex stood behind her, his jaw clenched.

Liz turned back to the mirror, shaking her head again.

"I don’t think I am," she whispered.

To be continued…
Last edited by Kath7 on Sat Oct 20, 2007 4:37 pm, edited 50 times in total.

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Post by Kath7 » Fri Jul 09, 2004 8:07 pm

Author's Note: Thanks for the feedback, folks! Hope you enjoy!

Part 2

Liz paced the length of the Eraser Room, growing more anxious by the second. If Max didn’t hurry up, they weren’t going to have a chance to talk before their first class. They had met in the small closet every day since their grounding, in order to be assured of at least one chance to see each other. However, they were on a tight schedule. Neither of them could afford to be late - not when they were already in so much trouble. The last thing Liz wanted - or needed - at the present time was for her parent mandated separation from Max be extended.

But, trust that, on the one day that she actually had more on her mind than making out with her boyfriend, he would be late. She considered calling him the night before, but she had been too freaked out, and, then, after a while, pissed off, to want to discuss what had happened over the phone.

She sighed in relief when the door finally opened and Max slid into the room, looking over his shoulder as he did so. Liz threw herself into his arms before he even had a chance to close the door fully.

"Whoa!" Max exclaimed, taking a step backward to compensate for Liz’s sudden assault. "What’s wrong?" He set her away from him and pushed her hair off her face, staring into her face with concern. "Are you okay?"

"Where were you?" Liz demanded, sounding more annoyed than she was. She felt as though she was holding onto her composure by the smallest thread.

"I’m sorry," Max soothed, kissing her gently. "Isabel took forever."

"Max, I really need to talk to you," Liz complained. She felt tears fill her eyes when she glanced at her watch. "And now we don’t have time!"

"Liz, I’m sorry," Max repeated. "What’s wrong?" He was looking at her anxiously. "Are you feeling okay? Isabel told me you got sick yesterday. You look exhausted!"

Liz leaned her head against his chest, taking deep breaths to suppress her tears. "I barely slept," she said. "But I lied to them. I didn’t feel sick." She felt herself starting to calm down as Max stroked her hair comfortingly.

"Then what’s wrong?"

"Max, I had another flash," Liz told him, pulling away. "A really weird one."

Max stared at her. "What? Are you serious?"

"Yes," Liz whispered. "We were cleaning the attic and Isabel convinced me to try on my mom’s prom dress, and…" she trailed off, her voice cracking slightly. "Max, when I put it on, I became my mom."

"What do you mean?" Max asked carefully. He was frowning slightly.

"I mean, I became my mom," Liz insisted. "For a few minutes, I was no longer in that attic. I was my mom, and I was seventeen years old, and her best friend’s boyfriend was hitting on me…And I was letting him!" Liz felt slightly nauseous as she remembered the touch of Dan Scott’s hands on her shoulders.

Max shook his head in confusion. "I don’t get it."

"And you think I do?" Liz demanded. She brought her hands up to her temples and rubbed, trying to push the memory out of her head. "This is a disaster! First of all, why the heck did I have a flash about my mom of all people? I mean, I’ve only ever had them about you. And, second of all, do you have any idea what this means?"

Max seemed to be searching his mind for what it might mean to her. Liz glared at him impatiently. "No," he finally admitted. "What does it mean?"

"It means that my mother is a total hypocrite!" Liz exclaimed. "She’s being all holier than thou about you and me, and, meanwhile, she screwed around on her best friend in high school!"

"Liz, how do you know this for sure?" Max asked. "Couldn’t the flash have meant something else? Did you actually…" he trailed off, sounding a little upset.

"What?" Liz asked.

"I mean, what happened? He kissed you?"

"Well, no," Liz admitted. "But they made a date for later. And my mom told him to break up with Karen."

"Karen is the best friend?"

"Yes," Liz replied. "A best friend I’ve never even heard of, might I add." She scowled. "I wonder why. I mean, the guilt is probably killing her or something." She crossed her arms. "I am so mad about this, Max. How dare she preach to me when she was a complete tramp?"

"Liz, calm down," Max urged. He ran his hands down her arms soothingly. "There has to be some kind of explanation. I don’t understand how you got a flash from a dress. It doesn’t make any sense. Did anything else you touch make you see anything?"

Before Liz could answer, the bell rang. They both looked towards the door and Liz sighed in frustration.

"How am I supposed to just sit in class?" she demanded.

Max kissed her one the forehead. "I need to think about this anyway. It’s just too weird. I need to talk to Michael and Isabel."

"No!" Liz exclaimed. Max looked at her strangely, and she elaborated. "Max, I don’t want anyone to know. Not until I figure this out! Why do you think I didn’t tell the others yesterday what was really wrong?"

"Why?" Max asked. "Liz, this is really weird."

"It’s more than weird," Liz said darkly. "I have a feeling that something really horrible is about to happen. I mean, there’s a reason that I had that flash." She looked up at him pleadingly. "Can’t we just keep this between the two of us? At least for a little while?"

Max stared at her, perplexed. Finally, he sighed. "Okay. If that’s the way you want it." He ran a hand through his hair. "But I don’t like this, Liz. I mean, I thought the flashes were over once we found the orb."

"I did too," Liz replied. She shook her head. "But I have to admit, Max, it’s not really the flashes worrying me at the moment. I’m almost used to those by now. It’s my mother! I just don’t understand why I had a flash about this. Like with the orb. I had those flashes for a reason. So that we’d find it. I must have had the one yesterday for a reason too. I mean, doesn’t it make sense?"

"I guess," Max agreed reluctantly. "Listen, can I at least talk to River Dog about this? Maybe he’ll have some light to shed on it. Maybe Nasedo told him something." He grimaced, looking guilty. "Because, Liz, I can’t help but feel that this all stems back to me healing you. Maybe I did something to you. Something that can’t be fixed."

Liz felt a pang, and for the first time since the flash the night before she felt her anger and fear drain away. Her concern for her boyfriend was instantly greater than her concern for herself. She placed her hands on either side of Max’s face, so that he was forced to look directly at her. "No way are you going to feel bad about saving my life. Don’t even go there. I won’t allow it. I’d be dead without you." She stood on her tiptoes and kissed him. "Whatever happens to me, happens. I’m alive, and we’re together. That’s all that matters."

Max hugged her tightly. "I just want to make sure that you’re okay, Liz."

"I’m okay," Liz insisted. "I really am. I told you, I’m not worried about the flashes. They don’t hurt and they’re telling us things we really need to know."

She sensed that Max wasn’t quite convinced, but he seemed willing to let the subject drop. "Well, okay. But I’m still going to see River Dog."

Liz nodded in agreement. "Okay. And, in the meantime, I’m going to do some research of my own," Liz told him. She kissed him again, briefly, then led the way out of the Eraser Room.

"What kind of research?" Max asked, sounding worried.

"The kind that’s going to tell me exactly who my mother is," Liz replied firmly. "Because, right now, I don’t think I have any idea anymore." She turned and started to walk away.

"Liz, please be careful," Max called after her. "You might not like what you’re going to find out."

"Don’t worry," Liz replied over her shoulder. "All I want is a little information. It will be fine."

She chose to ignore the expression of worry on Max’s face.

Three hours later, on her lunch hour, Liz was in the West Roswell High School library, staring at a computer screen. She had managed to pull up a web-site for the Tree Hill Times, the newspaper for the small town Liz’s mother grew up in. However, there was no information predating the time the paper went online, which had only been five years before, so typing in her mother’s name had produced no results. She had at least hoped to find some more pictures from her mother’s senior year, because she was aware that small town newspapers often published information from the local high school, such as the names of the Homecoming Court, but she was out of luck.

She wasn’t really sure what she hoped to learn, but she knew there was a reason she had that flash. There was something to know, and she had to find out what it was.

Liz tapped her fingers impatiently on the table beside the keyboard. Finally, she typed in "Dan Scott." Maybe the cheating boyfriend still lived in Tree Hill. She was rewarded by a long list of article titles. She frowned, leaning forward and scrolling down.

Dan and Deb Scott Host Charity BBQ

Liz gazed momentarily at the picture of an older Dan Scott and his pretty wife, but the article was boring, and didn’t tell her anything other than that Deb Scott was the honorary chair of the local chapter of Mother’s Against Drunk Driving. Of course, it also told her that Dan Scott had not married Karen Roe, which was interesting, but not shocking. He was a cheating bastard after all.

Dan Scott Opens Second Car Dealership

This article was even more boring, so Liz quickly clicked back to the list.

Former B-Ball Great Dan Scott’s Two Sons Now Tearing up the Court

After clicking on the headline, Liz was presented with two pictures. The first was of Dan Scott with one of his sons, a good-looking dark-haired boy. Dan had his arm proudly around the boy’s shoulders, but the son didn’t look very pleased to be having his picture taken. He was almost scowling at the camera. The caption read: Dan and Nathan Scott

The second picture was obviously of the other son. Although the shot was in black and white, Liz could tell that this guy had lighter hair than his brother. He had not posed for the picture. Instead, it was a candid action shot on the basketball court. Liz scanned the attached information. Lucas Scott on the court.

Liz quickly scanned the short accompanying article.

With the recent addition of Lucas Scott to the starting line-up, local sports hero Dan Scott has even more to cheer about. Lucas’s younger brother, Nathan, is already a valuable member of Coach Durham’s championship contending squad.

Basketball runs in the blood of the Scott family. Dan Scott led the Tree Hill Ravens all the way to the state championship in 1986, where the team lost the final game. Scott went on to the University of Iowa on scholarship, before injuring his knee in his freshman year, which permanently ended his career.

When asked to comment on what it is like to watch his two sons play together, Scott replies, "Nate has the makings of a star. Lucas is new and still needs to prove that he belongs on the team. It takes a truckload of heart to make it all the way to state."

Tree Hill will be watching the Ravens this season, in hopes that the Scott brothers have what it takes to make their father’s championship dream finally come true.


"What a creep," Liz muttered. She felt a pang of sympathy for the unknown Lucas Scott. What kind of father allowed himself to be quoted in a newspaper about his kid, and then said something like that? She momentarily imagined how her dad would react to similar questions about her, were the Roswell Daily Record ever to approach him. He would probably wax poetic for days, Liz reflected wryly. In spite of her recent annoyance at both her parents, Liz did not doubt for a minute that they loved her, or that they were proud of her.

However, the further evidence of Dan Scott’s sleaziness made Liz’s skin crawl, and also made her anger at her mother more intense. She had betrayed her best friend for this scumbag?

"Whatcha doing?"

Liz turned her head in time to see Kyle Valenti settle into the chair he had pulled up next to her.

"Just some research," Liz told her ex-boyfriend. She eyed him suspiciously. Although she and Kyle had sort of made up, he still didn’t really talk to her unless he wanted something. "Why?"

"Just thought you might be checking the headlines for evidence of your criminal boyfriend’s latest caper," Kyle replied, smirking.

"Kyle…" Liz trailed off warningly.

Kyle raised his hands. "Kidding. Just kidding." He raised an eyebrow. "So you and Evans are hot and heavy again, huh?" When Liz stared at him, Kyle tilted his head. "C’mon, Liz. Everyone heard about your mommies in the office because you were caught making out in the ER."

Liz felt momentarily guilty. "I’m sorry, Kyle."

"Whatever," Kyle said. "I’m over it, Liz. Really. I just want you to be careful."

Liz smiled. "Thanks, Kyle." Because she still wasn’t comfortable talking about Max to Kyle, she quickly changed the subject. "I haven’t seen you around much lately."

"I’ve been busy with the team," Kyle explained. "We’re heading to a tournament out of state this weekend, and coach has been kicking our asses preparing for it."

"Oh, I’m glad," Liz said. She felt a rush of relief. "Your ankle’s all better?"

"Yeah." Kyle sounded distracted though. Liz realized that he was reading the computer screen over her shoulder. "Hey, why are you reading about the Tree Hill Ravens?"

Liz blinked, then stared at him. "What do you know about the Tree Hill Ravens?"

Kyle didn’t answer right away. He was quickly reading the article. "They’re going to be at the tournament in Memphis," he eventually told her.

"You’re going to Memphis?" Liz demanded, still not quite sure what this coincidence meant. Because it was a little too weird to be one.

"Yeah." Kyle shrugged. "We went last year. Don’t you remember? You followed the team so closely." Liz heard the teasing note in his voice and blushed slightly, momentarily forgetting about the Tree Hill Ravens.

"I liked basketball," she muttered, embarrassed, because they both knew darn well why she had become so interested in basketball the previous season.

Kyle grinned. "Don’t worry." He patted her shoulder affectionately. "I won’t tell Evans that he isn’t the first guy you mooned over."

"Kyle!" Liz exclaimed, even more embarrassed. "I’ve always liked basketball. In fact, I still have season tickets. Maybe I’ll even come to this tournament of yours!"

"Right, Liz. You keep telling yourself that." Kyle stood and continued, "Well, seeing as your face now matches your T-shirt," Liz glanced down at her red T-shirt, then scowled at Kyle, "my work here is done. See you in Memphis!"

Liz glared after him. She couldn’t stay mad at Kyle for long though. She knew that his entire life revolved around teasing people. It was just unfortunate that she allowed him to be so good at it where she was concerned.

She turned back to the computer, staring at the picture of Dan Scott with his son, Nathan. She bit her lip, narrowing her gaze. Why did she feel such a strange fascination for this man? It couldn’t be just because her mother had been involved with him in high school. There was something deeper going on here. She realized though that research wasn’t going to tell her what she wanted to know.

At least not research in the traditional way. She was just going to have to be patient. She had already had one flash. When she and Max needed to find the orb, she had experienced a series of them until the truth was revealed. She just had to hope that whatever strange power was opening these doors for her would continue to do so.

When the final bell of the day rang, Liz was one of the first students out of the school. She noticed Alex and Maria waiting for her by her locker, but she quickly veered in the opposite direction, not having any time to waste. Until she figured out what was going on, she needed to focus all her attention on trying to have another flash.

Although she was supposed to work a shift in the Crashdown that evening, Liz figured she had enough time to sort through more of the stuff in her mother’s trunk. Maybe touching something in there would enable her to see something. After all, the flashes that had led to the orb had emerged when she touched Max, accessing some memory he hadn’t even been aware he possessed. By putting on the dress Liz had been able to touch into some remnant of the events that had taken place while her mother was wearing it. Liz figured that it might not be limited to just the dress. The only other item she had really looked at closely had been the yearbook.

Ironically, although a yearbook held memories, they were not the kind Liz was looking for today. She needed back in her mother’s skin at that time, needed to know in her heart that her mom was still the person she believed her to be. That there really had not been anything going on between her and Dan Scott.

In the attic, Liz pushed the turquoise dress off the top of the mahogany chest. It was where she had dropped it after quickly changing back into her clothing the day before. She was not surprised when nothing happened. The dress had already given up its secrets. It was time to move onto something else.

She lifted the lid of the chest and stared down at the contents. She wasn’t quite sure what to handle first. She also wasn’t sure how she was going to react if nothing happened.

Liz closed her eyes briefly and took several deep breaths. Then she reached into the chest, without opening her eyes, and pulled out the first thing her hands touched.

She could tell instantly that she was holding a cheerleader’s pompom. She could see it in her mind, but did not yet open her eyes. She ran her fingers lightly over the streamers, willing them to speak to her.

And, just like that, they did.

When Liz opened her eyes, she was standing in a crowded gym. She looked around, her heart pounding at a hundred times its usual speed. There was a basketball game in progress, but there was no sound. She could see everything, but she could not hear any of the fans, or the players, or the ball hitting the backboard, as it was doing right now.

She was right next to the home team’s bench. Glancing down, she saw that she was wearing a blue and gold cheerleader’s uniform and that the pompom she was holding in the real world, in the present, in her attic, was also in her hand here. It was easy to understand that she had become her mother again, although there was no mirror nearby to tell her so.

She quickly spotted Dan Scott on the floor. It was he who had sent the ball towards the net. She sensed the crowd’s disappointment when it failed to go through the basket. She still could not hear anything, but she saw the referee blow the whistle and realized that Tree Hill’s balding coach had called a time-out.

When Dan and the rest of the Tree Hill Ravens trotted over to the bench, it was only then that Liz was able to hear what was going on.

"What do you want?" Dan demanded, getting into the coach’s face. "Coach, we don’t need a time-out! Let’s get on with this."

"Settle down, Danny," the coach replied. He was staring at Dan, his eyes narrowed. "What did I tell you to do out there, son."

Dan crossed his arms and stared at the coach mutinously. Liz watched some of the other players shift nervously, obviously uncomfortable witnessing this very public confrontation between their coach and their team’s star player. "When I get a shot, I shoot," Dan finally muttered.

"I told you to pass to Hanson," the coach said patiently. "If you’d done that, we would be up by two points right now."

"We could have been up by three," Dan snarled.

"We aren’t," the coach retorted. "Next time you pass to Hanson. You got me?"

The coach turned away and started to speak to another player. Liz barely noticed though. She felt her eyes widen as she watched Dan’s face. He was turning an interesting shade of purple. "No, Coach, I don’t ‘got you.’"

The coach turned around very slowly and stared at him. "What did you say to me?"

"I said I don’t got you. This is my team, Whitey, and I play the way I damn well want to, taking the shots I want to, or I don’t play at all."

There was a long moment of silence. Liz could almost feel the entire gym holding its collective breath. She understood now why she couldn’t hear anything else happening around her. This was the only scene she was supposed to see.

Finally the coach replied quietly, "Then I guess you don’t play."

Liz watched Dan’s gaze flicker for one moment, and then he sneered, "I dare you to bench me."

"I’m not benching you, Danny," Whitey, the coach said. "We all heard you say that you don’t want to play if you can’t take the shots you want to. Since this is my team, and I told you that you are not going to shoot, but that you are going to pass to Hanson, I guess you’ve chosen not to play."

Liz could see on Dan’s face that he had never quite expected the coach to call his bluff. She was watching his face carefully and, so, saw the exact instant that Dan Scott decided to call Whitey’s bluff back.

He stalked over to the bench and plopped down upon it. He crossed his arms and glared at the coach, as though waiting for him to admit that he didn’t really want him on the bench.

Whitey ignored him. "Dennison, you’re in for Scott."

Dan’s eyes widened in astonishment, but he did not move. Instead, he turned his head and looked directly at Liz. She felt a shiver descend her spine.

It took her a moment to realize that he wasn’t looking at Liz at all, but, rather, to her right. Glancing in that direction, Liz noticed for the first time that she was standing next to a pretty dark-haired girl. She recognized her right away. It was Karen Roe.

"Karen," Liz whispered. The girl shook her head, and looked at Liz.

"What, Nan?"

"What are you going to do? Dan…He just threw the championship away."

Liz was astonished when Karen’s dark eyes filled with tears. Liz reached out a hand compulsively, her heart going out to the other girl. Her mother must have done the same, Liz realized, because, after all, this was her best friend. Even if Nancy was betraying her, Liz sensed that her mother really did love this girl.

"That’s not the only thing he’s thrown away," Karen whispered, before turning on her heel and running out of the gym.

Liz stared after her with wide eyes. That one light touch had told her all she needed to know. Instantly she gained the information that her mother must have already had in this moment, on this day, so long ago.

Karen Roe was pregnant.

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Kath7
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Post by Kath7 » Thu Jul 15, 2004 11:55 pm

Author's Note: Okay, guys, just a little head's up. I'm going to to be away for two weeks, so this won't be updated again until I'm back, although I am well into Part 4. I may try to finish it up and have it posted on Saturday, just to tide you over.

Thanks, as always, for the feedback!

Part 3

"Miss? Miss?"

Liz continued to wipe the counter-top, her thoughts a million miles away. It wasn’t until Maria nudged her from behind that she realized that the annoyed customer was speaking to her. "Wh…Oh, sorry! I’m so sorry, sir. What can I get you?"

"My bill?" the man snapped impatiently. "I asked you for it ten minutes ago. You never brought it."

Liz grimaced. She avoided Maria’s eyes. "I’ll meet you at the till."

A few minutes later, when the man had left, and Liz had made sure that all of her other customers were taken care of, she collapsed onto one of the stools at the Crashdown’s counter, bringing a hand to her face and rubbing her eyes wearily. She was embarrassed that she had been doing such a bad job all evening, but she could not focus at all.

All she wanted to do was to return to the chest upstairs to see what other secrets she could uncover. She knew that the flashes were trying to lead her somewhere, but she could not for the life of her imagine what Karen Roe’s pregnancy had to do with her.

One possibility was that her new gift was trying to show her why her mother was so concerned about her relationship with Max. Quite obviously Nancy Parker had lived through the experience of her best friend’s teen pregnancy. It suddenly made more sense as to why she would be so concerned about making sure that her own daughter avoided such a predicament.

And, yet, Liz somehow knew that this was not the answer. There was some other suspicion, lurking in the back of her mind, that just wouldn’t go away.

Maria walked past Liz, the coffee pot in her hand. "Glad to see you’re finally awake, Liz," she teased. "I know you miss Max, but you have to stop daydreaming about him on the job, woman. It’s upsetting the balance of the universe to have me getting better tips than you."

Liz sighed again. "I wish it were that simple," she muttered. Because, while she certainly still missed Max, and wanted nothing more than to be able to discuss all of this with him in the open, she had to admit that she’d barely thought of him all night. She wondered briefly if he had gone to see River Dog, as he had planned to do. She wasn’t very concerned about the alien aspect of the flashes, although Max clearly was. What she wanted, more than anything, was to know what they meant.

"Maria, listen, can you handle things down here for a few minutes?" Liz asked, getting up and determining that it was time to stop denying the truth. There was only one place that she could feasibly get some real answers. From her mother. Nancy Parker was the only one who might have some light to shed on this whole situation, and Liz was not going to waste another minute before talking to her. "I need to go talk to my mom," Liz elaborated when Maria seemed on the verge of saying no. "Please, Maria! I’m desperate here!"

"Far be it from me to stand in the way of true love," Maria sighed. She waved her hand in the air. "If you think you can get the dragon lady to back down, then go. If I need help, I’ll get Michael to come in from the kitchen. He can glare at them and they’ll all go running out the door."

Liz grinned at her best friend. "Thanks! I owe you one."

"I think you owe me a few more than that, babe!" Maria called after her as Liz hurried through the swinging door and up the stairs to her family’s apartment.

Liz found her mother in the laundry room. She was folding towels and humming softly to herself. Liz paused, staring in at her. Now that she was here, she wished she had thought a little more carefully about how she was going to approach this. She couldn’t exactly burst out with, So, Mom, I got some weird flashes when I touched your old prom dress. Were you screwing around on your best friend in high school?

She grimaced to herself, then just decided that she had to play it by ear. She could not wait any longer.

"Hey, Mom, can I talk to you for a second?"

Nancy Parker jumped about a foot, before whirling. "Liz! Sweetie, you gave me a heart attack!" She glanced at her watch. "Aren’t you on until closing?"

"I’m on break," Liz replied quickly. "It’s pretty dead. Maria’s got it covered."

Nancy nodded, before taking another towel out of the dryer. There was a moment of silence, where Liz scanned her mind again for how to begin. It went on for so long that Liz’s mother raised her eyebrows and said, "So, we’re back to the silent treatment, are we? I thought you wanted to talk to me."

Liz wrinkled her nose. "Mom, I wasn’t giving you the silent treatment."

Nancy grinned wryly. "Oh, no?"

"Well, not on purpose," Liz muttered. "I just didn’t have anything to say to you."

"Liz, I know you’re upset with me and Daddy, but this if for your own good," Nancy said. "You know we like Max. But we need you to have some time apart, so that you can think about how you should be behaving responsibly so that you’re both safe."

"Mom, for the last time, we’re not having sex," Liz almost wailed, frustrated beyond belief that her mother could just not move on.

"I believe you, Liz. But this isn’t just about sex," Nancy argued. "It’s about being responsible in every way. Staying out all night, no matter what you were doing, is not responsible behavior. You know that."

"I do know," Liz replied. "Which is why grounding me is so dumb! It was a one time thing! It’s not going to happen again! I promise."

Mother and daughter glared at each other for a moment, until Nancy finally said, "Is this why you came up here? To convince me to end your grounding?"

Liz took a deep breath, trying to calm her anger. "No," Liz finally said, struggling to sound calm. "Didn’t Daddy tell you? As soon as I’m done cleaning the attic, I’m not grounded anymore."

Nancy’s eyes narrowed. Liz saw a flicker there that made her realize she had made a mistake. Her mother had not known. Uh oh. She may just have sunk her own boat on that. But Nancy didn’t comment. Instead she asked, "Then, what is it?"

"It’s about something I found in the attic," Liz explained, trying her best to sound like she wasn’t freaking that her mother might veto the agreement Liz had made with her father. The sooner they got off the topic of her grounding, the better. "When we were cleaning."

"Is that what you were all doing up there yesterday?" Nancy asked. Her annoyance seemed to be dissipating as well.

"Yeah, it was actually kind of fun," Liz replied. "Anyway, we found some of your stuff. From high school. And I was just wondering about some stuff."

"Oh?" Liz watched her mother very carefully place the folded towel in her hands into the basket in front of her. Was it her imagination, or had Nancy visibly tensed?

"It was kind of neat. We looked through your yearbook and stuff."

"Well, that’s nice, Sweetie," Nancy replied, sounding unnaturally cheerful. "Just don’t make too big a mess."

Liz watched her mother pick up the basket and start to move out of the laundry room. She blinked. Her mother brushed past her, obviously getting ready to walk away.

It was more than obvious that Nancy Parker did not want to talk about high school.

For the first time, Liz reflected on what her mother had told her in the past about growing up in Tree Hill. She realized now that it had not been very much at all. She had known that her mom was a cheerleader, but that was about it.

Why?

"Mom, I said I had something to ask you," Liz called after her mother. Nancy was already half-way down the hallway to the bedrooms, obviously intent on escaping the conversation. Which made Liz more than certain that they should be talking about this. "Mom!"

"Liz, what is it?" Nancy said over her shoulder. "I’m busy!"

"Mom, will you please just stop!" Liz demanded urgently, chasing after her.

Nancy paused, then turned. "Please don’t speak to me that way, Liz."

For a long moment, mother and daughter stared at each other. Liz blinked when her mother actually looked away first.

What on Earth was going on here?

"Mom, why don’t you want to talk about this? I thought it would be fun," Liz explained, knowing it sounded lame. Oh, well. In for a penny, in for a pound. "I’m sorry I’ve been so moody lately. I thought…I thought that maybe you could tell me some stuff from when you were in high school, and I could just understand why…"

"Why what, Liz?" Nancy demanded. "Why I don’t want you to throw your life away on some small-town boy?"

"Mom, I’m not even talking about Max," Liz replied, a little shocked. The venomous tone of Nancy’s voice sent a chill down her spine.

"Do you want to talk about how boys in high school only want one thing, and when they get it, they never speak to you again?" Nancy continued, her voice rising with every word. "Is that what you want to talk about?"

"Mom?" Liz stared at her mother. Her heart was hammering at ten times the normal speed. "Mom, what’s wrong?" She swallowed, then decided to just go for broke. "Is this about Karen?"

Nancy’s eyes widened in shock. "Where did you hear that name?"

"In your yearbook," Liz explained. "That’s what I wanted to ask you about. You seemed like such good friends! Why have I never heard you talk about her before?"

"Liz, I don’t want to talk about Karen Roe," Nancy replied firmly. "I haven’t spoken to her in seventeen years."

"But, why? I mean, I can’t ever imagine not speaking to Maria again," Liz said. "I just don’t get it. How do you just stop being friends with someone. Just because she was preg…" Liz shut her mouth abruptly. She felt her mother’s eyes burning a hole into her with their intensity.

"Liz, I don’t understand how you know all this," Nancy finally whispered. "There is nothing in that yearbook that says that Karen had a baby after high school. How did you know that?"

"I just guessed." Liz shrugged. She decided to ignore that it was quite a leap in logic. Her mother would never figure out the real way anyway, so why not just pursue it? "You’re totally freaking out about me and Max. Maria and I have been discussing it, and we just sort of figured that maybe you had known someone who’d had a baby or something. Was it Karen?"

"Yes," Nancy finally admitted. Liz watched her mother’s anger drain out of her. "Yes, Karen had a baby right after high school. And the father deserted her." Nancy dropped the laundry basket she had still been holding against her hip. "Do you understand now, baby girl?" She took a step forward, placing her hands on Liz’s face so that she had to look straight into her eyes. "Do you understand why I need you to be careful?"

"Mom, why didn’t you just tell me about this?" Liz asked. "I mean, I totally get it. I want you to understand though. Max and I are not having sex. And, even if we were, and something like that were to happen…Max, he would just never do that. He loves me. He wouldn’t leave me."

"Liz, you’re both sixteen. It’s not a risk I want you taking." Liz opened her mouth to argue again, but Nancy cut her off. "I believe that you believe that about Max. I even believe it to a certain degree. I know that Max is a nice boy. But this has nothing to do with him, really. You have dreams. So does he. You’re both just too young. Can you please try to understand that?"

"Max is almost seventeen," Liz muttered. "And, anyway, I’m not like Karen. My boyfriend isn’t a complete ass."

"Liz!" Nancy exclaimed.

Liz grimaced. Ooops. That had been a slip-up. "Well, wasn’t he? I mean, if he deserted her?"

"He was young," Nancy explained. "He didn’t know what to do. So he didn’t do anything."

"You’re defending him?" Liz demanded. "You’re defending Dan Scott?"

As the name passed her lips, Liz knew that she had made another major mistake. But her mother did not seem aware of it. Instead, her eyes dilated and she grabbed Liz roughly by the shoulders. "Where did you hear that name?"

But Liz could not answer. Her mother’s iron grip made her gasp, and she felt dizziness start to overcome her.

"Liz?" She could hear her mother yelling her name. "Sweetheart, what’s wrong?"

Her mother’s voice faded from her consciousness. Liz closed her eyes, shaking her head, trying to clear it.
It didn’t work. Instead, she was overcome by a series of flashes so intense, they literally brought her to her knees.

Liz tried to hold on, tried to understand what she was seeing. This was totally different from the flashes she had when touching things. These flashes were more immediate, more like those she had experienced when kissing Max.

These were flashes her mother was giving her. This was what her mother was thinking about right now, in this instant, her mind a jumble of memories, of things she did not want her daughter to ever know.

Things Liz didn’t want to know either. But it was too late. Now she did, and there was no going back.

Liz managed to wrench herself out of her mother’s grasp. She grabbed onto the wall, placing her scalding cheek against the cool plaster.

"Baby! Liz? Are you all right?" Nancy demanded. She reached for Liz again, but Liz evaded her. "Liz, you’re burning up again!"

"Mom, I’m okay," Liz managed to rasp. "I…I think I just need to get some air."

"Liz! We’re not done here!" Nancy exclaimed. "You can’t just walk away!"

But Liz could. She needed out of there immediately. She couldn’t breathe.

Liz stumbled down the stairs into the break room, and then out the back door into the alley. She was sure her mother was following her. Liz needed to get away. She could not talk to her now.

There was only one person she wanted to talk to. And she didn’t care if her mother chased her all the way there. She was going.

Liz ran the entire way. By the time she pounded on Max’s window, she was practically hyperventilating. But that did not stop the tears from coming. When Max flung open his window seconds later, he was greeted by a Liz who had fallen to her knees in the Evans’ flower garden and was sobbing uncontrollably.

"Oh my God! Liz!" He was out the window and kneeling beside her instantly. "What’s wrong? Are you okay?"

Liz collapsed against him, taking comfort in the feel of his arms, which were immediately around her. She could not speak, but just continued to cry.

Why? Why had she pursued this? Why had she gone down this road? Why had the flashes taken her here? She didn’t want to know this!

"Liz, please tell me what’s wrong," Max pleaded. "I can’t help you if you don’t tell me." Liz became aware that he was running his hands over her arms, down her back, across her hair, trying to see if she was physically injured.

"I’m okay," she managed to say, between sobs. "I just need you."

"I’m here," he whispered into her hair. "You can tell me when you’re ready."

Liz wrapped her arms around him, sighing deeply. She allowed herself to be comforted by his soothing touch.

And, for those few moments, before she told him what she had seen in the flashes, she allowed herself to forget what she had learned. She allowed herself to not face it, allowed herself to pretend that nothing had changed.

She allowed herself to pretend, for those few moments, that Jeff Parker was still her father.

To be continued...

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Post by Kath7 » Sat Aug 21, 2004 12:25 pm

Author's Note: Sorry I'm late folks! But I should be back on schedule now that things are calming down around here and in RL. After this part, we will really start to get into this story.

Part 4

The peace Liz always found in Max’s arms was over too soon. Reality came crashing back around her at the sound of Diane Evans’ voice.

"Max?"

Liz flinched against her boyfriend. She turned her head slightly, and could see Max’s mother standing in the lighted window above them, looking shocked.

"Liz, is that you? What are you two doing down there?"

Liz tensed at the disapproval she heard in Mrs Evans’ voice. She could imagine how it looked, what with her practically sitting in Max’s lap, out in the yard, in the dark.

"Mom, can you please go away for a few minutes?" Max asked, sounding extraordinarily calm to Liz. She looked up at him in amazement. "Liz is upset. I need some time to talk to her."

"What’s wrong?" Mrs. Evans asked, her tone changing slightly. Liz looked at Max’s mother, and saw sympathy where she expected anger.

"I don’t know yet," Max replied. "I promise we won’t be long."

"Liz, do your parents know you’re here?"

"No," Liz managed to say, although her voice caught slightly. "We had a fight."

Which was the understatement of the century. Not that it had really been a fight. If Mrs. Evans were to ask Liz’s mom what had happened, it was unlikely that Nancy would say the same. But how was Liz supposed to explain that to Mrs. Evans? That everything she had ever known about both of her parents - about her whole life - had been irrevocably changed because her mother had touched her?

"Oh, well…" Diane trailed off, sounding torn. "Max, why don’t you walk Liz home?"

"Mom!" Max exclaimed, finally beginning to get angry.

"You can talk on the way," Diane continued quickly. "Liz’s parents are probably worried, and I have a feeling that neither of you wants any more time added on to your grounding." She raised her hands when Max started to protest. "Max, I’m not doing that. I promise. I think you two have learned your lesson. But Liz’s mother was still very angry when I spoke to her on the phone the other day. I tried talking to her…"

"Like I care what she thinks," Liz muttered. Her sorrow was quickly being replaced by a red-hot rage she wasn’t sure she was going to be able to control.

It was probably a good thing that she and Max leave immediately. She didn’t want to completely lose it in front of Mrs. Evans.

Max looked at her sharply, but answered his mother, "Okay, Mom. Thanks." He gently maneuvered Liz onto her feet, then stood up beside her, taking her by the hand. "I won’t be long."

"Take as long as you need, honey," Mrs. Evans replied. "I’m going to call ahead and prepare the Parkers that you’re coming. I just really feel that this has gone on long enough."

Max put his arm around Liz’s shoulders and gently led her towards the sidewalk. Liz collapsed against him gratefully, taking deep breaths. She knew that she was going to have to tell him why she was so upset, but she didn’t quite know where to start. After all, the flashes had been jumbled and confusing, not clear and concise like those she had received from the items in the attic.

But one overwhelming detail had jumped out at her, and there could be no denying it.

Her mother had slept with Dan Scott. Not in high school, as Liz suspected before, but later. And it had resulted in a pregnancy. It had resulted in her.

Jeff Parker was not her father. And the worst part of all was that Liz didn’t know if her dad even knew it. Because he had been in some of those flashes too. He had already been in Nancy’s life at the time she slept with Dan. The guilt of it had almost overwhelmed Liz.

She understood now that it was Nancy’s guilt running through her, not her own. Because, really, none of this was her fault. It was all her mother’s fault. Every last bit of it. Rage began to build again, making Liz tense to the point that Max noticed, because he stopped walking.

They were standing at the corner, where Max’s street met the one that would eventually lead to Main Street. Liz’s boyfriend turned towards her and scanned her face with concern. "Okay, before we go any further, you need to tell me what’s wrong."

Liz sighed heavily, trying to get her emotions under control. She felt like a maniac, ready to scream or cry at any minute, and she didn’t want to take any of this out on Max. He was the only one she could depend on right now, the only one who knew anything about any of this. She needed him in a way that felt almost desperate. It was almost scary to need someone so completely.

She briefly wondered if this was how Max felt all the time. His secret - his alien heritage - was such a huge burden. He had gifted her with the knowledge, trusting her in a way that had often been beyond her capability to understand. The only reason she knew for him to do so was because he loved her, although he had never come out and said so. But now Liz understood. Because she loved Max, he was the only one she wanted to share this horror with. He was the only one she needed now.

Which was just as well, considering she certainly couldn’t talk to either of her parents about any of it. A gulf had opened between them, starting with her keeping secrets from them, and now widening with the knowledge that they - particularly her mother - had been just as dishonest with her.

"Liz?" Max was beginning to sound anxious, and not a little helpless.

"I had some more flashes," Liz explained quietly. She was still leaning into Max and felt him let out a great whoosh of air as he sighed. She sensed guilt begin to rise within him, but didn’t have the energy to tell him to let it go. He wouldn’t anyway - not really. Because it was just like Max to instantly blame himself for anything bad that happened to her because of the healing. As though the fact that he had saved her life didn’t eradicate any of the bad stuff.

"Oh," he said. He pulled back slightly. "We’re going to be longer than a few minutes, aren’t we?"

"I think so," Liz replied mournfully.

Max gently pushed a loose strand of hair behind her ear. "Okay, then we better go somewhere we won’t be interrupted." He kissed her on the forehead. "Do you have your phone?"

Liz realized she didn’t have anything. She was, in fact, still wearing her Crashdown uniform, having run out of her apartment so quickly. "No," she admitted.

Max nodded. "Okay. I was going to call Isabel to bring us the Jeep, but I’ll just have to go back for it, I guess."

"Okay," Liz said quietly.

"Wait here," Max instructed. "I’ll be two minutes." He kissed her again, then turned and started to jog back towards his house.

Max was gone longer than two minutes. Liz felt a shiver descend her spine as she waited beneath the lamp-post. Her thoughts were in turmoil. She had managed to block them out for a while, but, without Max’s calming presence, the flashes she had experienced when she touched her mother began to return, fast and furious.

There had been many. They had been mixed up, her mother’s own thoughts in disarray at the time Liz had experienced them, but the overwhelming message had been clear. Nancy was panicked at the mention of Dan Scott, because he was Liz’s real father. Her mother’s knowledge of this had cut through all the other flashes - scenes of Nancy with Dan; scenes of Nancy with Jeff; scenes of Nancy with Karen, who was heavily pregnant; scenes of Liz as a baby and toddler, including several of her with Jeff, as though Nancy was watching them. Liz had felt her mother convincing herself in those memories that she was doing the right thing - that keeping it all a secret was best for everyone.

It was this that convinced Liz most of all that her dad didn’t know that he was not her father. And it was a knowledge that Liz found even more difficult to deal with than the fact that he wasn’t. She loved her dad. Sure, she was mad at him now, but she didn’t want this.

What if he found out? What if he knew that he wasn’t her father and rejected her?

The fear of it…It caused a moan to release itself from her lips, in spite of herself.

"Miss Parker, are you all right?"

Liz blinked. She stared at Sheriff Valenti, not understanding his sudden presence. It took her a moment to realize that his truck was pulled up to the curb, and that he had obviously seen her standing alone on the sidewalk, fairly late at night. She was sure it did look very strange. And since the sheriff was generally suspicious of her and her friends all the time, of course he would stop.

It took her a further minute to notice Kyle sitting in the passenger seat, watching her too, a perplexed expression on his familiar face.

"Hi, Sheriff. Hi, Kyle." Liz managed to force friendliness into her tone. "I’m just waiting for Max. He went to get the Jeep. He’s going to drive me home."

Liz grimaced when she noticed the sheriff’s eyes narrow at the mention of Max’s name. "And he left you standing here all by yourself?" he demanded. Liz realized that it did sound kind of weird.

"Er…"

"Oh, Dad, give her a break," Kyle muttered. "Jeesh! Everyone knows they’re grounded for staying out in the desert all night. They’re sneaking around."

"Is this true?" the sheriff asked, his blue eyes piercing right through Liz. She glared at Kyle instead of meeting his father’s penetrating gaze.

"Not anymore," Liz snapped, her cheeks red. It wasn’t entirely a lie. After all, Mrs. Evans had lifted Max’s punishment not fifteen minutes ago.

"C’mon, Pop. We gotta go," Kyle said, looking slightly abashed at having embarrassed Liz. "We don’t have time for this. It’s not like they’re breaking the law or anything."

Of course, since the sheriff was always convinced that Max was somehow breaking the law, he didn’t immediately pull away. He continued to eye Liz suspiciously. Finally, though, he sighed. "Well, you head right home, Liz. It’s not safe to be out alone this late. You tell Mr. Evans that when he gets back. Plus it’s a school night."

"See you next week," Kyle added as they started to pull away from the curb.

"Next week?" Liz called out, confused. It was, after all, only Tuesday. The odds that she would see Kyle at school in the next three days were more than good, considering they shared several classes.

The sheriff paused the vehicle again. "Kyle has a tournament in Memphis. We’re heading out a few days early to get some stuff ready for the team. I took some time off to chaperone."

Kyle rolled his eyes, meeting Liz’s, and adding, in his usual sarcastic way, "We’re going to bond. Yippee."

Liz smiled slightly, as she knew was expected, but her mind was already whirling in a different direction.

Memphis. The Tree Hill Ravens were going to be at that tournament.

Lucas and Nathan Scott, Dan Scott’s sons were going to be there.

They weren’t just Dan Scott’s sons. They were her brothers. Liz felt her heart start to pound more quickly as this realization became clear.

She had two brothers.

"So, you still planning to come cheer us on?" Kyle called out teasingly, as the Valentis pulled away again.

Liz didn’t reply, but she stared after the sheriff’s truck thoughtfully.

When Max finally pulled up next to her a few minutes later, she had already devised the entire scheme.

As she climbed in next to him, he grimaced when she noticed Isabel sitting in the back seat. "Sorry I took so long." He rolled his eyes, pleading with her not to be mad. It was clear there had been no choice but to bring his sister. Liz could just imagine the scene that must have unfolded at the Evans house over this.

"Good grief," Isabel muttered. "You’d think asking for a ride to the Crashdown was a federal offense or something. I mean, really. You were going there anyway, Max."

"Hi, Isabel," Liz said, smiling at Max to reassure him. After all, there would be plenty of time to talk about her flashes on the way to Memphis. She had absolutely no doubt that Max would come with her.

"Hi, Liz," Isabel replied. She leaned forward and smacked Max lightly on the shoulder. "See? I told you she’d be fine with it. You are such a drama queen."

"Isabel, I can still leave you on the side of the road," Max threatened darkly.

Isabel snorted. "I’d like to see you try."

"I’d like to see you stop me."

Liz listened to them in fascination. This was normal banter between Max and Isabel, but it was the first time that Liz had actually ever truly paid attention to it.

What was it like to have a sibling? She’d never thought about it much. She was an only child, and so was Maria. Alex’s three older brothers were already out of the house when she and Alex became friends, so there had been no real evidence there. She realized that the Evanses were the first siblings she had known where she was intimate with both of them.

And, if Max and Isabel’s relationship was any indication, in spite of their present bickering, having a sibling was a great thing.

For the first time since she had touched her mother, which was really just an hour ago, Liz began to wonder if this might not all turn out well, after all. She was still extremely upset about her father - about the fact that not only was Jeff Parker not her real dad, but that the revolting Dan Scott was - but, it might not all be bad.

If all this turned out to be true - if Dan Scott really was her biological father - then she now had two brothers. Two brothers she fully intended to meet this weekend in Memphis.

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Post by Kath7 » Mon Sep 06, 2004 2:26 pm

Author's Note: Hey everyone! Sorry I'm late! I'm likely not going to get another part up until the weekend next time either, as I'm back to work tomorrow. Sigh.

Anyway, in the meantime, enjoy.

Part 5

"Meet me up on my balcony in ten minutes," Liz instructed Max, as Isabel pushed past them and into the Crashdown. "We can talk there."

Max glanced over her shoulder warily. Liz knew that her mother was in there - she had caught a glimpse of her through the lit up window as they pulled in - but she wasn’t concerned. Even if Diane Evans hadn’t convinced the Parkers to end the stupid grounding, it really had no bearing on Liz one way or the other. She was tired of being patient, especially about the concerns of a mother who obviously didn’t know her at all if she thought that Liz was stupid enough to get pregnant at sixteen. Liz was through letting her mother’s own mistakes dictate her life. Particularly as Nancy had never been honest about those mistakes in the first place.

She had other more important things to worry about now. Namely finding her two brothers and salvaging what good there was in this situation. And this she couldn’t do alone. She was determined, but was also frightened. She knew she couldn’t do it if Max wouldn’t agree to go with her.

"Okay," Max replied. "If you’re sure this is a good idea…" He sighed, then pecked her lightly on the forehead. "I’ll just run across the street in the meantime and find out my hours from Milton."

Liz called after him. "Max, see if you can get the weekend off."

He turned, his eyebrows raised questioningly. "Why?"

She smiled nervously. "We’re going on a little trip."

Max frowned slightly, but then shrugged, breaking into a light jog as he made his way to the UFO Center.

Liz entered the Crashdown. She was met instantly by a harassed looking Maria. "Liz! You said you’d be gone for a few minutes!" She glanced at her watch. "That was an hour, woman! Do you not understand the difference between minutes and hours? I had to go get your mom to help me."

Liz felt a pang of guilt when she remembered that she had left her best friend all alone to handle the late evening masses. The restaurant always had a last minute contingent who stopped by for a snack after the movie theatre down the street let out. "I’m sorry, Maria," Liz replied sincerely. "Something came up."

"I thought you were just going to try to smooth things over with your mom," Maria persisted. "When I went up there, she said you’d gone out."

Liz glanced at her mother, who was standing behind the counter. Nancy was filling the sugars, but Liz knew that she was really watching her. "We had another fight," Liz told Maria. "I needed to go see Max."

"You had a fight about seeing Max, and then you go to see Max?" Maria demanded. "This does not sound logical to me, Liz. It also doesn’t sound like a way to end an imposed separation. At the rate you two are going, you won’t be allowed to date before you’re eighty."

"The separation is over," Liz replied grimly. "Mrs. Evans told Max he could see me, and my mother has no right to tell me what to do." Liz met Maria’s eyes. Her blonde friend looked surprised at Liz’s tone. Liz sighed. "Maria, can you please just accept that it’s okay?"

Maria scowled at her. "No. Liz, you’re acting weird."

"I know, and I promise I’ll explain everything, but I can’t right now."

Maria heaved a huge sigh. "Fine," she muttered. "But you go deal with those idiots." She pointed over at a table that was brimming with jocks. Liz recognized Tommy Ryan and Paulie Mitchell, two of Kyle’s team-mates, in the crowd. She wrinkled her nose. She didn’t blame Maria for not wanting to serve them. Unless they were with Kyle, who tended to rein them in, they were a couple of jerks. "I am so not in the mood to decipher Neanderthal," Maria continued, glaring at them.

"Maria, I can’t," Liz explained regretfully, because she did feel bad about it. "I need to go upstairs. Max is meeting me on the balcony."

Maria stared at Liz. "Liz, are you nuts?"

"Sometimes I feel that way," Liz replied seriously, thinking about how tumultuous her emotions had been since the entire flash fiasco had started. And, since the flash that revealed her mother’s secret, she wondered if they would ever go back to normal. She was used to being steady and serious. She didn’t like behaving like a maniac, which she knew she was doing on a regular basis now.

It was why she was so focused on the fact that she needed to get to that basketball tournament. Until she had all the facts, she could not make the right decision about who needed to know what, and how it was going to affect them. Until then, she couldn’t tell anyone what she knew. Well, except Max, of course. She wasn’t a complete martyr. She needed him. He wouldn’t think she was crazy, but Maria might very well. Max was the one person she could depend on right now, because she knew exactly how he felt about her.

One good thing about the flashes. Maybe the only good thing.

"You’re going to get Max permanently banned from this property," Maria warned, shaking her head.

"Don’t worry about it," Liz replied. "I’m not. Not anymore."

"Okay, then," Maria said. "But you owe me. Big."

"I know." Liz reached out and gave Maria a quick hug. "You have my permission to boot them out if they bug you."

Maria’s eyes sparkled mischievously. "Nah. I’ll just let Michael have some fun with their food in the back." She rubbed her hands together gleefully.

Liz ignored her mother as she passed her on her way through to the back room. She suspected that Nancy would pursue her, but she didn’t have to encourage her.

She sighed when she heard her mother call her name. She had indeed followed Liz through to the stairs leading up to their apartment.

"What?" she demanded.

"Don’t you talk to me that way, young lady," Nancy snapped. "You are in a boatload of trouble, and you know it."

Liz just stared at her mother. She felt a flash of satisfaction when Nancy shifted uncomfortably under her gaze. She was annoyed when her mother’s expression gentled. She was obviously going to try a different tactic. Liz was glad that she could see through it all so easily now.

"Liz, you need to tell me what happened before." Nancy reached out and tried to push the hair escaping Liz’s ponytail back into place. Liz flinched away, and not just to avoid bending to her mother’s will. She also did not want anymore flashes. Not tonight. She had already seen more than enough.

Nancy sighed, but dropped her hands. "You scared me," she accused. "What is going on with you?"

"You know, Mom," Liz snapped. "You don’t trust me." And I don’t trust you, she added silently to herself.

"Liz, I got a call from Diane Evans tonight," her mother replied. "Why should I trust you? You went straight to Max’s, after I told you that you were not allowed to see him."

"You’re making me disobey you, Mom," Liz told her. "I needed to see Max and it’s stupid that I’m not allowed to. So I’m just not going to listen to you anymore until you realize it."

"Elizabeth Parker!" Nancy’s face flushed in outrage. "You are sixteen years old. You do not get to decide which rules to obey and which you can ignore. That’s not how it works!"

Liz tilted her head and glared at her. "How does it work then, Mom?" she snapped. "Because you sure don’t seem to know. All I know is that I don’t care what you say anymore, so I’m just not going to bother trying to live up to your expectations of what I should be. I’m a good daughter, I have a nice boyfriend, we made a mistake, and we’ve paid for it. And now we’re done." With that, Liz turned on her heel and marched up the stairs, leaving a dumbfounded Nancy Parker staring after her.

***

When Liz entered her bedroom, she went to her closet and pulled out a suitcase. She placed it on the bed and started methodically packing. She sensed Max climb through the window, but didn’t turn to greet him. Instead she knelt on her bed and pulled the brick out of the wall that hid her journal, placing it carefully in the suitcase on top of her clothes.

"Liz, what are you doing?" Max asked. He sounded calm, but Liz could hear the dismay he was trying to hide.

"I’m packing," she replied.

"Why? Was it that bad with your mom?"

"No," Liz replied, pulling pajamas out from under her pillow and added them to the contents of the bag. "It was fine. She knows where I stand. I’m packing because we’re going to Memphis," she continued, finally turning and meeting his eyes. "Or at least, I am. I hope you’re coming with me."

"What’s in Memphis?" Max demanded. He moved forward and gently removed the pile of pants from her arms and laid them on the bed. "Liz, what is going on? You’re really starting to freak me out here."

"The flashes, Max. I know what they were trying to tell me," Liz said. "I have two brothers and they’re going to be in Memphis this weekend. That’s why we’re going."

Max’s mouth fell open. "What?"

"My dad isn’t my real dad," Liz replied. "My real dad is a man named Dan Scott, and he has two other sons, who are only a little bit older than I am. And I want to meet them." She reached up and gently lifted Max’s chin with her index finger so that his gaping mouth closed. "So, are you coming with me? If you are, we have to leave tonight." She rolled her eyes. "I think my mother is going to try to convince my dad to chain me to my bed after our last conversation, so if we’re going, we have to go now, while she’s still in shock."

"Liz…" Max trailed off, just shaking his head in disbelief. He seemed at a loss for words.

For Liz, it was the final straw. "You’re not coming? After all I’ve done for you over the past six months, you’re not coming?" Her voice rose exponentially with each word. "Well, this is just great!"

And, with that, she burst into tears.

"Liz, please don’t cry." Max pulled her into his arms and she allowed herself to collapse against his strong chest. It felt good. She knew that she was being irrational, that Max had not said that he was not coming. But she felt like she was slowly losing control of her sanity. She just needed him to support her, not question her. At least not yet. Eventually his common sense would come in handy. But she just needed him right now.

"Of course, I’m coming. If you’re going, then I’m going too," Max soothed. He finally pulled back and tugged her after him so that they were both sitting on the bed. "I’m just a little shocked. I mean, this is all a little weird, don’t you think? It’s coming out of left field. How do you know that this is what the flashes told you? What did you see?"

"I told you what I saw. My dad isn’t my dad."

Max rubbed his temples despairingly. "God. This is a nightmare, Liz. What have I done to you?"

Liz stared at him for a long moment, feeling a pang of guilt. "Max, you saved my life," she replied gently. "Sure, there are some repercussions, but I’m dealing with them." She scrubbed her eyes impatiently, which were still trying to produce tears. She was fine, dammit! She wasn’t going to break down again.

"I talked to River Dog," Max told her. "He doesn’t remember Nasedo ever having given someone visions. He says that you must have strong medicine. He says that it has nothing to do with me, but I just can’t believe that, Liz." He dropped his face into his hands.

"Max, I’m going to say this one last time, and if you don’t listen me, I swear I won’t ever forgive you."

Max looked up at her, his eyes red-rimmed. Her tone of voice must have broken the miasma of guilt that had claimed him, because he looked ready to listen.

"I am alive because of you. Whatever the consequences are, I accept them. These flashes… visions… whatever they are….they’re not a day at the park, I’ll admit that. The stuff they tell me…maybe I kind of don’t want to know." She cupped her hands on both sides of his face before continuing, forcing him to meet her eyes. "Here’s the thing though. They’re going to upset me sometimes. Obviously they are mostly going to upset me. But I can’t have you freaking out in guilt every time they do. You saved my life. I can’t bear the fact that you feel guilty about it. Do you understand?"

He pulled her into his arms. "I’m sorry. I just can’t help it." He paused for moment, then whispered. "I love you. I can’t bear for you to be hurt."

Liz felt her heart stop. It was the first time that either of them had acknowledged vocally what they both knew to be true. She hugged him more tightly. "I love you too," she said quietly. "Which is why I can’t have you feeling guilty. I can’t bear that."

She pulled back and kissed him. It was long, and deep, but with an underlying urgency that made her feel bad. She didn’t want this moment to end quickly. But, unfortunately, as was often the case in their crazy romance, there was no choice.

"We have to go," she whispered into his neck a few moments later. "Max, we have to go now."

"I wish we could stay here forever," he replied, sighing heavily. "I wish we could just stay here and then you’d be safe."

"I’m safe wherever I am, as long as you’re with me," Liz replied, meaning it. "Why do you think I want you to come with me so badly? I know this is going to be hard."

Max frowned. "I just don’t get how this is possible. Can’t you at least tell me what you saw in those flashes?"

"Max, there’s no time," Liz insisted. "My parents are going to be up here anytime. We need to go get your stuff and then we need to drive to Albuquerque tonight to find a flight to Memphis." She paused, then added, "Oh, and we’ll have to avoid Valenti, too."

"What?" Max demanded, his eyes widening in horror.

"He’s going," Liz explained. "As a chaperone. But I already told Kyle I was coming. He probably won’t think twice about seeing us there."

Max closed his eyes, and shook his head again, as if to clear it. "Okay, what are you talking about? What does Kyle have to do with any of this?"

"My brothers are playing in a basketball tournament with the Comets," Liz replied, feeling impatient, although she was aware that, of course, Max could not know any of this. "I told Kyle I was coming to watch it. And don’t get jealous," she added, when she saw his expression darken slightly. "He basically goaded me into it. Plus, it’s a good excuse for being there. The last thing we need is Valenti calling our parents."

Max grimaced, running his hands through his hair in a characteristic gesture demonstrating his frustration. "Liz, this is insane. You do know this is insane?"

"Of course," Liz replied. "I’m not an idiot. Don’t you think I know when something is insane? I’ve been living with insane ever since that day you healed me. But, for once, I don’t care. For once, Max, this isn’t about the insane fact that you’re…not from around here. For once, this is about me, and I want to go. And if you’re coming with me, then we need to go now."

Max stared at her for another long moment, then said, "Do you promise to tell me every last detail about this on the way to Albuquerque?"

"Yes."

"Do you promise that you are actually going to discuss things with me before making decisions? Because we don’t know anything about these people you say are your brothers, Liz."

"Max, they’re basketball players, not murderers."

"Liz."

"Fine," she muttered. "I promise that I won’t do anything before talking to you about it first." She finally smiled and added, "Of course I want to talk to you about things. That’s why I want you there." She couldn’t resist adding, "Plus we both already know how much it sucks when we shut each other out." She raised her eyebrows at him meaningfully, reminding him of the past two months. After all, he had shut her out first, when he had taken his "step back," before her newly emerging gift had manifested itself so forcibly.

"Point taken," Max replied. "So, we’re agreed then. We’re doing this together. And we’ll come up with a plan before you confront either of them."

"Of course!" Liz exclaimed, teasing now. "You’ve got to have a plan!" She couldn’t help it. Although she knew that Max was being perfectly serious, she was beginning to feel giddy with excitement. She was going to find her two brothers - the only good part about any of this - and Max was coming with her!

"Liz," Max said warningly, although she could tell that he was trying not to smile now too.

"Don’t worry," Liz insisted, kissing him lightly, before pulling him off the bed so that they could leave. "Everything’s going to be just fine. I know it."

"I don’t see how you can say that everything is going to be just fine when we are basically running away together," Max replied.

"Isn’t this exactly what you wanted me to do on Valentine’s Day?" Liz demanded, smiling flirtatiously, trying to keep her spirits up, although the thought that her parents were going to be very upset when she disappeared had crossed her mind. She wasn’t particularly worried about her mother, but she didn’t want her dad to worry.

"Not exactly what I had in mind," Max admitted.

"We’ll email them when we get there," Liz suggested. "And we are coming back. I promise."

At least, at this point, she did intend to return to Roswell. But it was impossible to say for sure. After all, what would happen if she totally hit it off with her brothers? Maybe she’d want to go stay with her grandparents in Tree Hill for a while. Liz knew that her mother’s parents still lived in the small town, although she had never been there. They had always come to Roswell to visit. Although it had never struck Liz as particularly weird - her mother had always said how little she missed North Carolina - it was now clear that the reason for that had been to hide Liz’s existence. Maybe it was time that she took a little visit to her mother’s old home.

But, first, Memphis. Memphis with Max. Her brothers were in Memphis.

She could hardly wait.

A/N - In the next part, we will finally meet the Scott brothers!
Last edited by Kath7 on Mon Oct 25, 2004 8:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Kath7 » Sun Sep 19, 2004 12:15 am

Author's Note: Bump and you shall receive. :D

Part 6

Memphis, Tennessee - Two days later

"Scott, front and centre," Whitey yelled, making Lucas Scott flinch, then sigh. He folded down the corner of the page he had been reading and threw his book into his gym bag. He slid off the bleacher and went to join the coach near the basket under which he was standing.

"Sorry, Coach," he muttered. He rolled his eyes at his friend, Jake Jagielski, who threw a basketball straight at his chest, grinning.

"Far be it from me to interrupt your quiet time, son," Whitey replied, "But we’re here to practice."

"Like we need the captain of West Roswell to see you with your nose stuck in a book. You’re already a woos, Scott. You can keep the evidence at home." This came from Tim Smith, the team-mate Lucas liked least. It was typical that he was also Lucas’s brother’s best friend. He and Nathan never did agree about anything.

"Why? Is he here?" Lucas replied, not really caring, but humoring Tim, because he seemed to want him to ask.

"Over on the bleachers," Jake told Lucas, nodding towards the far side of the gym. Lucas followed his gaze and noticed a brown-haired guy in a blue and gold jacket lounging on a bottom bleacher. The guy’s eyes were not directed at the Tree Hill Ravens basketball team, however. He, instead, seemed to be watching their cheerleaders, who were practicing down at that end. "That’s Kyle Valenti. He’s only a sophomore, but he made varsity as a freshman, and he’s captain this year. League MVP and all that." Jake caught the ball Lucas threw at him, and did a neat lay-up before continuing. "He’s a nice guy. We sat together at the awards banquet last year."

"Okay," Lucas shrugged. He looked at Tim, who passed to him, so that he could do a lay-up. "I don’t think he’s watching me," he told his team-mate.

"Yeah, why would he, when he can stare at your girlfriend," Tim shot back. "You better watch out, Scott. Brooke and Valenti had a little fling last winter."

Lucas stopped dead and stared after Tim, then turned to Jake, who stood beside him. "It wasn’t serious, Luke. Just ignore him," Jake said. "Valenti’s a good guy. Tim’s just trying to start something."

"Don’t worry, Jagielski. I don’t think it’s Brooke Lucas would care about anyway."

Lucas looked over at his half-brother Nathan in surprise. He came up behind Lucas, not gently nudged him aside, and started to shoot baskets.

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Lucas demanded.

Nathan turned to stare at Lucas, his dark eyes unreadable, as he dribbled the ball. But, then, Lucas rarely, if ever, understood his brother. For example, he still wasn’t quite sure why Nathan was back on the team. He had quit a couple of months ago, after an incident with amphetamines, which he had taken because their father’s expectations for his performance had become so stressful. But, suddenly, here he was, back. How that turn of events had come about, Lucas had no idea.

Of course, the reason he had no idea was because he had other things on his mind. Namely that which Nathan was implying. The fact that his girlfriend’s name was Brooke, but that he was actually in love with said girlfriend’s best friend, Peyton, who was also a cheerleader, and who was also at the far end of the gym. How Nathan knew this though, Lucas didn’t want to ask. He couldn’t have heard about it from Haley, Lucas’s best friend, who was also Nathan’s girlfriend. Even Haley didn’t know how far things had gone. That Lucas and Peyton had admitted their feelings for each other the week before, and that now they were both just trying to figure out how exactly to break the news to Brooke.

Life had never been this complicated before he’d joined the basketball team and entered his younger half-brother’s world.

Nathan shrugged now, and simply said, "It means what it means." He then threw a pass to Tim across the floor, and went to join his friend. Lucas watched him go, frowning.

"Since when is he Mr. Subtlety?" Jake asked. "That was a very Machiavellian comment. One I can’t begin to understand. What happened to the good old days when he used to just physically attack you in class?"

Lucas sighed. "That was the other way around, Jake. I attacked him."

"Oh, right," Jake replied, chuckling. "Well, you Scotts never fail to entertain." He sobered. "But seriously, what’s going on, Luke? You know you can talk to me, right?"

"Yeah," Lucas told him. "Thanks. But it’s not something I can really share. It’s still being worked out."

"Okay. But I guess I can safely say that if Miss Brooke does hook up with Kyle Valenti again this weekend, you won’t exactly be crying yourself to sleep at night?"

"Safe to say," Lucas replied, embarrassed. He hated feeling like such a jerk. But that was exactly how he felt. He liked Brooke. He liked her a lot. She was fun and it was easy to be with her. And he knew that she liked him, too. In fact, he knew that she might even love him.

But she wasn’t Peyton. Peyton, to whom he had felt connected for months, long before he and Brooke had ever even spoken. Peyton, complicated Peyton, who did her best to keep everyone at arm’s length, but who had let him in anyway.

And now, here he was, away, with both girls present. He and Peyton had already agreed that telling Brooke this weekend, when she was already stressed by the cheerleading competition that was being run in conjunction with the basketball tournament, would be unfair. So he was going to have to keep pretending. Which he hated for two reasons, the first being that he didn’t like lying, and the second being that he was going to have to somehow figure out a way to keep his hands off of Peyton. Because, after what had happened a week ago, he knew it wasn’t going to be easy.

He had kissed Peyton once before, in the fall, right after she broke up with Nathan. But she hadn’t been ready for a relationship then, and he had been so hurt that he had ended up falling into a flirtation with Brooke, who was definitely interested. He had been unprepared for how quickly things would progress with Brooke. She was majorly into him, she was beautiful, and she was willing to offer him things that Peyton wasn’t. So, before he knew it, Brooke was his girlfriend.

But he had never forgotten about Peyton, and had never really stopped longing for her. How could he, when he spent about as much time with her as he did with Brooke, because the two girls were inseparable? And, because he spent so much time with her, he couldn’t stop remembering why he had fallen for her in the first place. Because, although Brooke was fun, he couldn’t talk to her like he could talk to Peyton. She didn’t understand the books he read or the music he listened to - or maybe she could, but she didn’t want to.

For a while he had thought that was okay - that after how Peyton had hurt him in the fall, he wanted something uncomplicated.

Everything had changed the week before when Peyton’s father, who worked on an oil rig, had gone missing in a hurricane. Brooke had sent Lucas off to support Peyton while she went to look for him, and while they were gone…Well, things had happened. They hadn’t meant for them to happen. But they had both been so relieved when Mr. Sawyer turned up alive, before they knew it, they were hugging, and then kissing, and they were alone in a motel room…

It hadn’t gone as far as it could have, but only because the necklace Brooke had given Lucas entangled itself in Peyton’s hair, reminding them both that there was someone else to consider besides themselves. That, while they could no longer deny that they wanted to be together, they couldn’t do anything about it until Brooke was told.

And, so, now, here they were, away together, and Lucas had to pretend that everything was fine between him and Brooke. That he didn’t want to touch and kiss Peyton every time he saw her. That he didn’t want to wrap himself up in the fact of her, in the joy of loving someone who understood him so completely.

It was pure hell.

But, at least he had thought it was his own private hell. Nathan’s comments seemed to indicate otherwise. Lucas followed his brother around the gym with his eyes, a knot forming in his gut.

Although his relationship with Nathan had improved in recent months, mainly through Haley’s intercession, it didn’t mean that he wasn’t still aware of his brother’s resentment towards him for joining the team. This had forced Nathan to acknowledge Lucas’ existence, something he had been able to ignore their entire lives, because their father did.

Lucas was honest enough to admit that their troubled relationship wasn’t entirely Nathan’s fault. Luke had his own stored up anger at their father, which was easy to take out on Nathan, the golden child. He tried to convince himself that his disgust at Dan Scott was all on his mother’s behalf. That it was the fact that Dan had abandoned her, pregnant at eighteen, which made Lucas hate him. He still mostly felt that he wanted nothing to do with Dan. He felt this even more having seen how screwed up Nathan was thanks to Dan. And, yet, it still galled him to watch Dan’s obsession with Nathan. Because why was Nathan so special? What was wrong with Lucas that Dan didn’t want to claim him as his own? Why had Dan chosen Nathan’s mother, and not Lucas’ mom?

Watching Nathan now, Lucas was just glad that Dan had been unable to chaperone the tournament. Because his father’s toxic presence was the last thing he needed on top of everything else.

His gaze shifted to the far end of the gym. He could see Peyton and Brooke standing near the bleachers now, their practice having broken up. They were talking to Kyle Valenti, who was also now standing. He could tell that Brooke was flirting. She always stood a little too close to a guy when she was. He wasn’t a bit jealous, mainly because of Peyton, but also because he knew it didn’t mean anything when Brooke did it. It was just how she was.

He realized abruptly that it had never bothered him. That he had been able to accept that part of Brooke’s character because he had just never cared enough about their relationship for it to hurt. That, more than anything, helped the guilt. Because, he knew now that, even if there was no Peyton, he shouldn’t be with Brooke. She just wasn’t the girl for him, either way.

Which didn’t mean that things weren’t going to be horrible when they broke up. And, yet, all he wanted to do right now was go over to the threesome by the bleachers and get it over with. He wanted to tell Brooke it was over and then kiss Peyton until her toes curled.

Lucas sighed again, then forced himself to concentrate on the practice. At least he had the team to distract him this weekend. He should focus on basketball. If he put his entire concentration into playing his best, maybe the weekend wouldn’t feel interminable.

Because, as things now stood, Lucas knew that it was going to be a very long weekend.

***

Liz stared at the practice schedule on the gym door, her heart thudding in her chest. She and Max had been in Memphis for twenty-four hours now, and had cased the entire tournament. It had all been so easy, from the flight to Memphis, paid for out of her Crashdown money, to finding a motel close to the high school at which the tournament was being held. In fact, they had showed up this morning to find an entire information booth set up for fans of the teams participating. All the knowledge she needed to find her brothers had been right at her fingertips.

It had been so easy, Liz just knew that she was doing the right thing, although she suspected that Max still had his doubts. But, he was here. It was enough. They had spent the previous night in their cheap motel room, discussing exactly how they were going to approach this, and then, had fallen asleep in each other’s arms. It had been fun, and, more importantly, it had bonded them even more closely to each other, so that Liz now knew that, even if things went badly, she had Max to depend on to get her through it.

So now the goal was to stay out of Sheriff Valenti’s way, and still manage to get to know the Scott brothers without springing on them right away with Liz’s relationship to them. Max had made Liz promise that they would both meet and judge them before Liz told them anything. Liz knew that Max was worried that she was somehow going to end up hurt, but she knew she wasn’t. This was the good part of all of this.

The bad part - her mother’s deception and the fact that her dad wasn’t really her father - well, she wasn’t quite ready to deal with any of that yet. She didn’t even want to think about any of that.

So, now they were at the gym. They knew that the West Roswell Comets were arriving within the hour to start their practice, likely with Sheriff Valenti present, so they needed to be out of here before then. But, right now, behind the very doors in front of her, the Tree Hill Ravens were running through their paces in preparation for the tournament, which would get underway tomorrow.

"Well?" Liz asked Max, who was standing next to her. He was tall enough to see through the window in the gym door, while she was not.

"They’re in there," Max confirmed. "At least I think it’s their team. They’re wearing the colours you said they would…" Max trailed off and then said, "Oh crap."

"What?" Liz demanded, standing on her tip-toes and trying to see through the window. Sometimes she really hated being short! Clearly this was another thing to blame on her mother, because if both her brothers were basketball stars, the likelihood that Dan Scott’s genes had resulted in her height seemed slim.

"Kyle’s in there too," Max replied. He shook his head, glancing down at her ruefully. "He’s talking to their cheerleaders."

Liz rolled her eyes. "Typical." Kyle had been a good boyfriend when they dated, but Liz had been forced to accept early on that Kyle liked to flirt with other girls. It hadn’t meant a thing to him, but he couldn’t stop himself either. To him, it was as natural as breathing.

"Jealous?" Max teased, grinning to show that he knew she wasn’t.

"Please," Liz shot back. She glowered at him jokingly. "Might I ask why you’re looking at the cheerleaders anyway? You should be looking at the basketball team."

Max just continued to grin, shrugged, then turned back to the window. "He’s leaving through another door."

"I think he needs to know we’re here anyway," Liz told Max. "There are going to be parties and things. Kyle told me all about this stuff last year. We need to get him to invite us."

"Won’t the sheriff be there?" Max asked worriedly.

Liz looked at him, then stood on her toes again and pressed a kiss to his lips.

He blinked, but smiled. "What was that for?"

"You are such a goody-goody," she replied. "Of course he won’t be there. The point of throwing a party at these things is to avoid the chaperones." She shook her head. "And to think Valenti thinks you’re dangerous."

Max narrowed his eyes at her, and said, "I think I should be insulted. I did go to an illegal party at a soap factory once upon a time, you know."

"Because I invited you," Liz reminded him.

"But I went," Max argued.

Liz patted his shoulder comfortingly. "I know you did." She giggled, then squeezed his arm. "What’s going on in there?" She nodded towards the doors.

"Nothing. The cheerleaders are getting their stuff together. The players are still…"

He was interrupted by a voice behind them. "What are you two doing here?"

Liz started, then turned around in dismay. She stared at the owner of the voice in horror, once her worst suspicions were confirmed.

She should have seen this coming. How could she not have seen this coming? As soon as Max had mentioned cheerleaders…

"Hi, Max," Pam Troy said, her voice sickeningly syrupy. "Aren’t you sweet to come all this way to see our squad compete."

Max had backed up a step at the sight of Pam. Liz was aware that girls like Pam made him uncomfortable. He just wasn’t quite sure what to do in the face of the fact that they regularly threw themselves at him. Mostly he ignored them, but when confronted, he often behaved like a trapped animal.

It would have to be Pam, Liz thought in disgust. She hated Pam Troy, for being everything that Liz found horrible in other women. She only cared about guys, and popularity, and making others feel bad about themselves. Both Liz and Maria had been her target on more than one occasion, and although Liz didn’t really care what Pam thought of her, she hated that the other girl could make her feel excluded, if even for a few minutes. She had done it numerous times since kindergarten, and it drove Liz crazy that other girls were so easily led astray by Pam. Pam’s bullying of Liz had been at its worst in the early months of their freshman year, before Liz had hooked up with Kyle. After that, Pam had left her mostly alone. But that didn’t mean that Liz didn’t remember how awful Pam was, or that she didn’t notice when Pam targeted other girls, which resulted in Liz hating her more.

And, now, here she was, in all her horrific glory, to compete in a cheerleading competition. The last thing Liz needed this weekend was to have to deal with Pam Troy.

"We’re here to see Kyle," Liz snapped, unable to control herself.

Pam eyed her for a moment, then looked at Max. "Well, isn’t that interesting?" she replied finally, her eyes gleaming. It was clear that Pam wanted the scoop about why Liz would bring her present boyfriend with her to cheer on her ex.

Which made it increasingly clear to Liz that it was a pretty ludicrous excuse for she and Max to be at the tournament.

"We just happened to be in town this weekend," Max inserted smoothly, while Liz glared at Pam, at a loss for words. Max, however, seemed to have regained his composure. "We’re looking at schools. We couldn’t not come and say hi since you were all here."

"What a coincidence," Pam said, although she didn’t sound convinced.

She was unable to comment further though, because at that moment the doors to the gym were pushed open and a group of cheerleaders in blue and white sweats streamed through. Max and Liz both took a step back, away from Pam, which resulted in the Tree Hill girls blocking their view of Liz’s nemesis. The space left was narrow , which resulted in one of the cheerleaders brushing hard against Liz.

Liz was hit so instantly by a flash, she stumbled slightly. The girl reached out to steady Liz, but Liz flinched away from her, and into Max’s arms. She did it instinctively, although she was focused on trying to understand what she was seeing.

In the flash, the girl in front of her was covered in blood. One minute she was innocently reaching for Liz, the next her face was dripping with the red liquid. And, in that split second, for just one instant, a vision of a boy, looking equally as banged up was standing beside her.

He looked more than banged up, Liz realized. He looked dead.

Liz recognized him. It was Lucas Scott. Her brother. Something was going to happen to this girl and her brother. Soon.

"Are you okay?" the pretty girl asked, concerned. Pam was staring at Liz too, looking more disgusted then worried.

"Yes, sorry," Liz replied, shaking her head. She blinked and stared at the dark-haired girl. "I was just thrown off balance there for a minute."

"Well, I’m really sorry. We came out of that gym like bats out of hell," the girl giggled. "But there are only a couple of showers in the change room, and we have to be ready to go out for dinner in half an hour."

"No problem," Liz replied again.

"Hello, Brooke," Pam said abruptly, causing the dark-haired girl to turn her head and take in Pam’s presence for the first time. Her expression froze.

"Oh, Pam. I didn’t see you there." She didn’t sound pleased to see Pam now that she did. It made Liz instantly like her.

Pam didn’t reply, just put her nose in the air, as though waiting for Brooke to move on. When it became clear that she wasn’t going to, Pam looked at Max and said, "I’ll see you later, gorgeous."

Max said nothing to Pam. Liz felt him flinch slightly behind her though, and heard him mutter under his breath, "Oh, joy," as Pam flounced off.

Brooke watched her go, then turned back to Max and Liz, trying to mask the disdain on her face.

"So, you know Pam?" Liz asked.

"From last year. Is she a friend of yours?" Brooke asked evenly, as though no longer willing to be as friendly if she was.

"Not really," Liz replied quickly. "We just go to the same school. Max and I were in town this weekend and we knew our team was playing, so we came to check it out." She paused, bit her lip for a moment, wondering if she should risk it, then stuck out her hand. She breathed a small sigh of relief when no flash overtook her. "I’m Liz by the way." She indicated her boyfriend. "And this is Max."

"Brooke Davis," the other girl replied, exchanging a smile with Max. "So you’re from Roswell? I guess you know Kyle Valenti, then?"

Liz smiled, although she was still thinking about the flash. What had it meant? Was it the future? Should she tell Brooke to be careful? She couldn’t though. It would be too weird. "Of course," she said, knowing that she sounded troubled. "He’s a good friend of mine."

"He’s a great guy. I just invited him to the party Nathan…Sorry, he’s my boyfriend’s brother… is throwing in his hotel room tonight. You guys should come. Kyle’s going to bring a lot of the team."

Just then the door to girl’s change room across the hall opened and a girl with curly hair, which was in the most unusual shade of blonde that Liz had ever seen, poked her head out. "Brooke, Tanis is saving us showers, but you need to come now. Lucy’s lurking."

"Thanks!" Brooke said to the other girl, then turned back to Liz. "We’re at the Holiday Inn near here. Hopefully we’ll see you! It was nice to meet you."

With that, Brooke disappeared through the door across the hall. Liz stared after her, feeling anxious.

She turned to Max. "Did you hear that? Nathan! Her boyfriend’s brother. She’s going out with Lucas." She dropped her voice and whispered. "My brother."

"I guess she is," Max replied, shrugging slightly. He seemed distracted. "Liz, what was that?" he demanded. "You had a flash, didn’t you? I felt something happening to you."

Liz stared at him. "You did? You felt it?" Her heart sped up again at the thought of what she had seen in the flash. Brooke was in danger. And so was Brooke’s boyfriend - Liz’s brother.

"Sort of," Max acknowledged. "You fell back into me. It was kind of like an electric shock."

"I did have one," Liz admitted. She told him quickly what she had seen. "Max, we need to keep an eye on her. Full time. Because, if we don’t stop it, I think something terrible is going to happen."

Liz had no idea what the flash meant, but she knew that if she didn’t figure it out soon, it was possible that she might never get a chance to know her brother. He was in danger. She had to make sure that whatever it was that was going to happen to hurt him and Brooke, she and Max stopped it.

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Post by Kath7 » Sun Oct 17, 2004 10:04 pm

Author's Note: Sorry for the delay on this, folks. Part 8 is almost done though, too. It will be up by Friday. Hopefully I can get back on my schedule after this. RL has just been coocoo.

Part 7

Lucas flopped back on the bed in the room he was sharing with Nathan. Trust Whitey. The man went out of his way to stick Lucas and Nathan together on any occasion possible. Luke guessed that he thought the brothers would find some common ground if they were forced to spend time with each other, which they would have to do rooming together. Hadn’t the guy ever heard the maxim "absence makes the heart grow fonder?"

Not that Lucas thought that Nathan wanted to grow fonder of him anyway; nor had he, if his confrontational comments at practice had been any sign. It wasn’t as if Lucas particularly cared. Nathan’s good opinion was not something he sought, but he also didn’t resent his brother in the same way Nathan seemed to resent him. Lucas had never understood that. After all, it was Nathan who had their father’s love. Of course, based on Nathan’s recent meltdown, maybe that wasn’t something either of them wanted. Maybe Nathan’s resentment stemmed more from the fact that he was the one always under Dan Scott’s eagle-eye, rather than because he was scared that Lucas was going to steal their father’s affections.

Maybe he and Nathan had more in common when it came to Dan Scott than either of them had ever realized. Because the last thing Luke wanted either was to have Dan Scott interfere in his life, which was becoming more and more of a threat now that he was on the basketball team, and Dan had been finally forced to acknowledge Lucas’s existence. So far Dan had managed to make it clear that he still wanted nothing to do with Luke, but would that always be the case?

Lucas felt a shiver descend his spine at the thought of having to deal with Dan on a regular basis. He hated the man, but he was Lucas’ father. Could Luke’s mom keep Dan out of Lucas’s life if he suddenly wanted to be a part of it? And if his mom couldn’t, then could Lucas?

Lucas turned over onto his stomach and buried his face in his pillow, trying to shut out the disturbing thought. He had enough to worry about, without adding his deadbeat dad to the mix. He was much more concerned about the Brooke and Peyton problem, and how he was ever going to sort out that whole mess.

If dinner with the team had been any indication, then this whole weekend was indeed going to be a nightmare. The cheer squad had been there too, and Brooke had sat beside him, keeping up a steady stream of chatter the whole meal. He had done his best to pay attention to her, but he couldn’t keep his eyes from drifting to Peyton every two seconds, to see what she was doing, and who she was talking to.

It was quite obvious to Lucas that she was deliberately avoiding him, and it hurt. He knew that they had agreed that it was the best way to handle the weekend, but he hadn’t imagined that it would cut quite so deeply when Peyton rejected the seat that Brooke had saved for her, because it was across from Lucas. She had met his pained gaze very briefly while doing it, but then had gone to sit with Jake, and had proceeded to have a wonderful time, if all the laughter from their end of the table was any indication.

How could Peyton act normal so easily? Lucas wondered now, groaning into his pillow. Why was he the only one destined to feel so tortured and so guilty? Why was he the only one who thought he might die if he didn’t get to kiss her at least once today?

"Are you okay?"

Lucas jerked over onto his side. Nathan was staring at him from the doorway, his expression its usual blank self. Lucas hadn’t even heard his brother come in.

"Fine," he replied gruffly, sitting up.

Nathan walked further into the room and threw himself down on the other bed. "Right. I hope this isn’t any indication about the kind of noises you’re going to make after light’s out tonight. I need my sleep, you know. Being a superstar isn’t as easy as I make it look." He stared up at the ceiling.

Lucas stared at him. The sarcasm in his brother’s voice had been a little hard to miss. Did Nathan actually want to have a conversation with him? Or was he imagining things?

"Are you okay?" he asked tentatively.

"Peachy," Nathan snapped, still staring up at the ceiling. "And I’m sure you will be too when you hear the news. Guess whose showing up after all?"

Lucas felt his heart drop. There could only be one person Nathan would be so downtrodden about. "Not your dad?"

"You got it in one," Nathan replied. He rolled onto his side and propped his head on his hand, meeting Lucas’s gaze. "So much for the party. He’s in here with us."

"What?" Lucas demanded, sitting up. "Are you kidding me?"

Share a room with Dan Scott? Absolutely not!

"So he can keep an eye on me," Nathan elaborated. "He and my mom think I need to be baby-sat since the whole pill thing."

"But, I thought he couldn’t come!"

"Whitey turned him down as a chaperone," Nathan explained. "Who knew he’d decide to pay to come on his own? I mean, not that it’s that shocking. It’s not like my dad can leave me in peace for two seconds." He sighed heavily, returning to his back, in order to stare at the ceiling again. "And the best part of all," he added. "Because he doesn’t have to worry about anyone else as a chaperone, he can focus all his attention on little ol’ me."

Lucas felt a pang of sympathy for his brother. He might not want Dan sharing their room, but it was pretty obvious that Nathan fully agreed. He flopped back against his pillow and joined Nathan in the examination of their ceiling.

Could this weekend suck more?

***

"Curses!"

Brooke Davis dropped the receiver back into the cradle and stared across the room at her best friend, Peyton, waiting for a reaction. Peyton was lying on the bed, her earphones on her head, eyes closed. She hadn’t caught a word of the conversation that Brooke had just had with Tim.

"Earth to Peyton! Hey, Musicgirl, turn it off, will you?" There was no response. Brooke crossed the room and pulled the plug for the earphones out of Peyton’s CD player. "Hello? How can you just lie there, and listen to whatever crap you’re into this week, when our social lives are in jeopardy?"

Peyton’s dark eyes flickered in annoyance, but she sat up, sighing. "What’s wrong?"

"Nathan’s dad showed up. He’s staying in Nathan and Lucas’s room. No party."

"Oh, God," Peyton replied. "Is Luke okay?"

Brooke stared at her for a moment. "Huh?" She felt stupid having to say it, but her mind was whirling in a thousand different directions. Where could they hold a party on such short notice? It couldn’t be in any room on this floor, because their chaperones were staying here too. Nathan had offered in the first place because all the basketball chaperones were staying on another floor. With Nathan’s dad on that floor though, there was no way.

She didn’t want to think about the other reason she wasn’t really thinking about Lucas. The phone call from Tim had been a welcome distraction from thinking about that other thing. Or, rather, that other person. The one from Roswell. The one she had half-hoped she’d never see again, and, yet, strangely had been waiting an entire year to see too.

Which was all highly inconvenient considering Lucas’s presence in Memphis. He had no idea about Kyle Valenti. And, as far as Brooke was concerned, it needed to stay that way.

"I mean, he can’t be thrilled about having to share a room with his father," Peyton replied, sounding aggravated. "Brooke, you know he hates his guts!"

Brooke felt a pang of guilt. Lucas’s rocky relationship with Dan Scott had not even crossed her mind. She wasn’t going to admit as much to Peyton though. She knew she wasn’t the most sensitive person in the world, but who was Peyton to question her dedication to her boyfriend? She felt a flare of irritation. It was extremely annoying how Peyton always said things that made her feel like a total bitch.

If she hadn’t had a million other things on her mind, she totally would have thought of the Dan Scott/Lucas disaster factor.

"I was just on my way to check on him," she snapped. She flounced out of the room, before Peyton noticed her embarrassment.

She never made it to Lucas’s room though. When the elevator doors opened with a ding, she was confronted by Kyle Valenti. Because her karma was so just like that.

"Hey, Brooke," he said easily. "I was just on my way to find you."

Brooke stared at him for a moment. "What are you doing here?" she demanded, sounding snootier than she meant to. But Kyle flustered her in a way most guys didn’t. She had told Lucas recently that he was the only guy she had ever really cared about, but it had been a lie. Standing in front of her was the only other guy - the first guy - who had ever made her really want to give up her flirty ways.

But that was neither here nor there. Nothing had come of it. She had made sure of it. And, yet, now here was Kyle again, stirring up the strange feelings he always engendered. She quashed the butterflies in her stomach ruthlessly.

"You invited me to a party," Kyle replied, sounding confused. "Didn’t you?"

Brooke grimaced. She had indeed. She hadn’t meant to. It was just that she had been so uncomfortable in his company after what had happened between them last spring, she had done it without thinking. It was all Peyton’s fault! She was the one who had recognized Kyle first, and she was also the one who had gone up to him. It would have been rude for Brooke, who had definitely known him better, not to have done the same. And, before she’d known what she was doing, she’d invited Kyle to the party, in order to end the uncomfortable silence she was sure Peyton would notice, and then question.

She didn’t want to talk about Kyle Valenti. Even with Peyton. But she especially didn’t want to talk about Kyle Valenti with Kyle Valenti.

"Yes," Brooke snapped now. She was hoping he would get the hint and change his mind about wanting to come. But he just continued to gaze at her with those blue, blue eyes of his, not seeming a bit upset.

When had he become so cool? He hadn’t been this easy in his skin the year before. It was distracting. But, of course, back then he had just been a freshman. Now he was captain of his team. It showed.

"It’s not happening," she finally added, when he continued to patiently wait for her to continue. "I meant to call you…" Of course, she hadn’t. But he didn’t need to know that.

"Okay." Kyle shrugged. "I just came by to tell you that I can’t make it, anyway. My guys are having something over at the pool. I can’t bail on them. Team captain and all…" He trailed off.

Brooke stared at him. He seemed to be waiting for something from her. Why? What did he want?

"Liz said she met you," Kyle finally added.

Brooke blinked. Liz? Oh, right! The girl from outside the gym. The one with the hottie boyfriend. She had forgotten all about her.

"Yeah," Brooke replied. "I invited her too. Can you tell her the party’s off? Nathan’s dad showed up."

There was a long moment of silence. Brooke felt it beginning to bear down on her. It was too heavy. She was going to have to say something, and then she’d live to regret that too, no doubt. She resolutely kept her lips pressed together.

Kyle saved her by saying, "You can come to ours if you want. Spread the word. It’s going to be a blast."

"Well, I don’t…" As if she was going to deliberately put herself in Kyle Valenti’s company. Not when being in his presence now made her feel like utter crap. And kind of strange too. In a way she didn’t want to think about because she was totally over him. She had been over him for almost a year. She had a boyfriend. A boyfriend she really, really liked. A boyfriend she thought she might even love.

"Liz mentioned your boyfriend."

Brooke blinked. "She did?" she asked faintly. Was he reading her mind?

Kyle smiled slightly. "Yeah. She also mentioned that you said I was nice. I was shocked to hear it." Although she listened for it, the latter didn’t contain any of Kyle’s patented sarcasm. It had been that wry wit of his that had first attracted her, because it had so reminded her of herself. She hadn’t even minded that he was a year younger - a mere freshman. He had been so young, and so innocent, and she had hurt him. She knew she had.

Last year his sarcasm had also been a defense mechanism for Kyle, when he felt uncomfortable. There had been a lot of sarcasm towards the end of their lost weekend.

He didn’t seem a bit uncomfortable now, though. Why? She felt a pang. She guessed that was a good thing. It meant he was over her too. Just like she was over him.

"You are nice," Brooke replied, sighing. There was no way to get out of it. She was going to have to apologize. Kyle was beating around the bush, but it was obvious that he wanted to talk about what had happened. About how she had slept with him, then never answered a single one of his emails, or phone calls, or letters. "Listen, Kyle. I know that I need to say that I’m sorry about every…"

He interrupted her again. "I think I need to tell you that it’s okay," Kyle told her firmly. "Everything that happened last year…It’s water under the bridge, Brooke. Seriously. I guess Liz didn’t mention it?" He stuffed his hands into the pockets of his blue and gold letterman’s jacket.

Brooke was surprised when she felt a flash of…what? Dismay? Disappointment? Hurt?

"Mention what?" she asked, because he obviously wanted her to.

"That she’s my girlfriend," Kyle replied.

Brooke started. She then wrinkled her nose in confusion. "She is? What about that guy with her?"

"Oh, Max?" Kyle met her gaze steadily. "He’s just a good friend of ours. He flew up here with her because I had to come up early with my dad."

Brooke wondered if Kyle was kidding himself. She had only briefly met Liz and Max, but she would have been a fool not to recognize the electricity that existed between them. And Brooke Davis was no fool. Normally someone like Max would have definitely attracted Brooke’s attention. She had been distracted by her recent meeting with Kyle at the time, but she had assuredly noticed Max. But she had also quickly rejected the idea of him at all.

If Liz was Kyle’s girlfriend, it was pretty obvious, even to a stranger like Brooke, that she probably wasn’t going to be for long. Not with Max around and based on what Brooke had seen between them.

But all she said was, "Oh, I see." Because, Kyle must know what he was talking about. "She was nice too."

"Everyone’s nice these days, I guess," Kyle said. If Brooke was not mistaken, he was beginning to sound sarcastic. It reassured her that the Kyle she remembered wasn’t totally gone.

"Guess so," Brooke snapped back.

Kyle stared at her for a long moment, then said, "So can I tell the guys to expect your ladies at the party?"

"Won’t your ladies be mad?" Brooke asked. She knew she would be if their basketball team invited a whole bunch of strange girls to a party. Plus, she knew Pam Troy, the captain of the West Roswell cheerleading squad pretty well. She wouldn’t be pleased. Not at all. Not that Brooke cared. But she so wasn’t in the mood to deal with a cheer war this weekend. That was so sophomoric. She was a junior now, and the head cheerleader. She wasn’t going to give Pam Troy the satisfaction.

"Nah," Kyle replied. "Just bring your guys along and they’ll be fine."

"Okay, then, I guess," Brooke finally said, feeling a bit uncertain. There was something completely off about this whole conversation. An undercurrent that she couldn’t quite get a handle on.

An undercurrent that should not exist if Kyle Valenti was over her, and if she was over Kyle Valenti.

"Great. See you then," Kyle said, disappearing into the elevator. Brooke stared after him, her expression perplexed.

***

Liz jumped when her cell phone rang, sounding louder than usual in the empty hotel hallway. She fumbled with it for a moment, glancing at the caller I.D. to make sure it wasn’t her parents. When she saw the name Isabel Evans pop up, she quickly answered, catching it before it rang a third time. She knew it was Max. He had stolen Isabel’s phone before they left Roswell.

"Hi," Liz whispered. "What’s up?" She was sitting on the floor behind one of the large, plush chairs making up the small lounge in the intersection of two hallways. It had an almost perfect view of the door Lucas Scott had gone through after he had returned from his team dinner in the restaurant downstairs. Liz’s other brother, Nathan, had only recently appeared, disappearing into the room as well.

Liz was glad Max had chosen now to call her. It was already taking all her willpower not to just go pound on that door and tell her brothers exactly who she was. But she had promised Max. Not to mention, it was more important that she protect Lucas than it was that she meet them right away. She couldn’t do that if he thought she was stark-raving mad.

After all, the only proof she had that she was their sister, or that Lucas’s life in danger, came as a result of the fact that she had been healed by her alien boyfriend in her parents’ restaurant in Roswell, New Mexico, six months before. No, they weresure to believe her.

So, in the meantime, until she could be introduced to Lucas and Nathan normally, she was undercover.

Max’s voice, on the phone, was lower than usual too. "She’s on the move," he said. Max was referring to Brooke, whom he had been charged with looking after, to make sure she didn’t get hurt either. "Something weird is going on, Liz."

"Weirder than usual?" Liz demanded, sighing.

"Unfortunately," Max replied, sounding wry. "I just overheard a very strange conversation between Kyle Valenti and Brooke Davis."

"What?" Liz demanded. "Really?"

"Yeah," Max told her. "I think there’s something between them. Get this. Kyle told her that you were still his girlfriend."

"What?" Liz screeched. She grimaced, and lowered her voice again. "Are you kidding me?"

"No," Max replied. He didn’t sound upset though. In fact, much to Liz’s annoyance, he sounded amused.

"I’m glad you think this is so funny," Liz snapped.

"It’s not funny," Max told her. "But it does reassure me that Kyle’s over you. If he’s lying to another girl about still being with you, it means he doesn’t want her to know that he’s interested. Which means he’s more than interested."

"Maybe he’s not interested," Liz suggested. "Maybe he’s trying to put her off. He better be! I mean, that girl is dating my brother!" Liz knew it was ridiculous, but she could feel herself starting to get outraged on Lucas’s behalf.

"Liz," Max explained patiently, "Trust me on this one. Normally, I’d agree. But he’s lying because there’s something deeper going on here. It’s pretty obvious there’s some history between them. She tried to apologize for something. That was when he told her that you were dating."

"Oh." Liz thought about this for a moment. "That is weird." Then she scowled. "I hope Kyle is planning to break up with me pretty darn quickly. Because the last thing I need is to have to pretend to be his girlfriend, on top of everything else."

"I told you we shouldn’t have told him we were here," Max replied. Liz had tracked down Kyle earlier to say hi, while Max was keeping an eye on Lucas and Brooke at dinner.

"We had no choice," Liz reminded him. "We need his help to meet my brothers. You’re the one who wants to check them out first, remember?"

"I remember," Max said, sounding long-suffering.

"I guess I’ll just have to play along," Liz said, ignoring Max’s tone. "There better be a good reason for this, though, or I’m going to kill him."

"You could just not do it," Max suggested, beginning to sound mildly irritated himself. Liz was pleased. It was about time!

"I could," Liz replied, smiling slightly to herself. "But I owe Kyle. I did sort of dump him unceremoniously. It can’t be easy for him to see us together, Max. If he has some ulterior motive with this Brooke girl, maybe I should just help him out."

"Liz, you yourself just said that she’s dating your brother!"

"Who knows?" Liz replied. "I guess we’ll just have to wait and see."

"Liz!"

Liz ignored him again, trying hard not to giggle. "Call me back, Max, once you know where…" She cut herself off when the elevator door opened across from her hiding place. "Never mind," she whispered. "I have a feeling I’m going to be seeing you in a second anyway. She’s here." She hit "end."

Brooke proceeded straight to Lucas and Nathan’s door, knocking without hesitation. The door opened a moment later.

"Hey, Brooke." Liz peeked around the chair she was crouched behind. She wasn’t sure if it was Lucas or Nathan, because she hadn’t heard either of their voices yet. It turned out to be Nathan. "Lucas is in the shower. And, no, you can’t join him."

"Pity," Brooke said. "Anyway, tell him I stopped by. I just came to see if your dad was here yet. I heard he was coming."

Liz felt her heart stop. Dan Scott, here?

"Unfortunately," Nathan was replying. "We’re both pissed."

"It sucks," Brooke agreed. "Mostly because of the party. But that’s okay. I got us another invite."

"Oh?"

"The Comets are having a party down by the pool, after light’s out."

"They’re our competition, Brooke. Why the hell would we want to go party with them?" Nathan demanded, sounding annoyed.

"Because we’ll get them so trashed, you’ll kick their butts tomorrow, that’s why," Brooke replied saucily.

"Not a bad idea," Nathan admitted. "Okay. I’ll spread the word."

"Excellent. See you later." Brooke disappeared back into the elevator moments after Nathan shut the door.

Liz had missed most of this last exchange though. She could feel panic beginning to set in.

Dan Scott was going to be in Memphis. Her real father was going to be here, at this tournament. For the first time since she had arrived here, she realized that she had not thought this through at all.

She was nowhere near ready to deal with Dan Scott. Nor did she want to. This trip was supposed to have been about her brothers, nothing more. And now she was probably going to come face to face with the man who had fathered her. The man who didn’t even know she existed.

Liz sank back against the wall, resting her head on her knees. "Oh, God," she murmured.

Where was Max? He was supposed to be on his way down, following Brooke! He should be here by now!

"Are you okay?"

Liz jerked in surprise. She lifted her head and found herself staring into the dark eyes of Nathan Scott. Her brother.

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Post by Kath7 » Sun Oct 24, 2004 11:22 pm

Part 8

Nathan was crouched next to the girl. He gazed down at her, bewildered. He wasn’t quite sure what to make of the fact that there was a pretty stranger hiding directly outside his door. A few months ago, he probably would have been extremely interested by this fact. But now, since Haley, he just found it strange. And, the more he reflected on it, kind of suspicious.

Was she a spy for one of the other teams? If so, why? It wasn’t like any of them couldn’t have just come to watch their practice earlier. The captain of the West Roswell Comets had done so, after all. Not to mention, it was unlikely that a spy was going to learn much staring at his and Lucas’ door.

He narrowed his eyes. More likely she was a distraction, sent by one of their competitors. He was one of the team’s stars after all. And, as much as it sometimes pained him to admit it, she could have just as easily been sent to distract Lucas. Having Nathan’s brother out of commission for the start of the tournament, perhaps by being led astray by a beautiful girl, would be just as big a fiasco as if Nathan was absent.

And, yet, none of that explained why the girl was now staring at him in open-mouthed astonishment. Because, if she had been sent to seduce either him or Luke, she certainly seemed a little surprised to see him.

"Are you okay?" he repeated, more gruffly this time. He didn’t like novelty. It annoyed him. He had enough of it in his own life, thanks to his degenerate father, without some joker from another basketball team adding more drama.

"Yes," the girl replied quickly. She pushed her long dark hair behind her ears, then wrinkled her nose. "This must seem kind of weird…" She trailed off, obviously searching for words.

"Not so weird," Nathan replied wryly. "Pretty girls camp outside my doorway all the time. Weekly, in fact."

The girl stared at him for a long moment, then smiled tentatively. "Yeah, well, I guess I should still explain myself."

Nathan climbed to his feet. He reached down and offered the girl his hand. She hesitated momentarily, then reached out and took it.

It was exactly then that things went completely insane.

Looking back on it later, Nathan still couldn’t describe that happened to him. It was sort of like everything went into slow motion, but sped up at the same time. He heard a rushing in his ears, and then a stream of images penetrated his mind, making him so dizzy, he felt like he might lose consciousness.

The only clear impression he came out of the whole thing with was that the girl was causing it. He absolutely knew that she was doing something to him.

It ended as quickly as it had started. When it was over, she collapsed forward into his arms, passed out.

Nathan shook his head firmly, trying to clear it. He struggled not to collapse under the girl’s weight, and eventually was able to pick her up in his arms. He staggered towards his room, stumbling into the door. It wasn’t that she was heavy - in fact, she was so small, it barely felt like he was carrying anything - but his head still felt like it was spinning at a thousand miles an hour.

Juggling the girl in his arms, Nathan realized abruptly that he had left his room key inside. He pounded on the door impatiently, and almost fell right through it when Lucas opened it moments later.

"What the hell!" Lucas exclaimed, as Nathan bumped into him. He reached out and steadied Nathan. Nathan was finally able to regain some of his equilibrium, after his brother held him up for several seconds. He took a deep breath and laid the girl gently on one of the beds.

There was long minute of silence. Nathan could hear the harshness of his breath in the quiet room. He met Lucas’s eyes. His brother was staring at him in open-mouthed amazement, looking strangely like the girl had when Nathan had confronted her in the hallway earlier.

"Do I even want to know?" Lucas finally asked.

He was no longer looking at Nathan, but was instead staring at the girl, who was lying on the bed, still completely out of it.

"It’s not what it looks like," Nathan replied quickly, without looking at his brother. The last thing he needed was for Haley to hear about this.

"What does it look like?" Lucas demanded. "Because, to me, it looks like you’re bringing a drunk girl into our room. I don’t even want to think about why you might be doing that."

Nathan glared at him. "Did I not just say it’s not what it looks like? She’s not drunk! She just passed out on me in the hallway."

"Some random girl just passed out, into your arms, right outside our door?" Lucas repeated, sounding incredulous.

"Yes," Nathan snapped. "Stop looking at me like that! I’m not the one stringing along two girls, you know!"

Lucas whitened. "What the hell is that supposed to mean?"

"You know what it means," Nathan replied. "Not that it really matters right now. This chick was hiding outside our room. She’s a spy!"

"A spy?" Lucas said, sounding annoyed. "Are you joking?"

"No!" Nathan told him. "She tried to drug me or something." He moved forward and picked up the girl’s hands. He stared at them suspiciously. "I was helping her up, and I got all dizzy." He frowned when he saw no evidence of a needle or anything on the girl’s hands. "They can do that, you know. Drug people with stuff on their hands. It goes through your pores."

"Are you insane?" Lucas demanded. "What the hell are you even talking about?"

"This tournament is do or die for a lot of these teams, Lucas," Nathan informed him. This was one reason it pissed him off so much that Lucas was on the team. He just didn’t understand how serious basketball was to some people. But, then, of course, he’d never had to deal with dear old dad. No, that had been all up to Nathan. "It gets national attention," he added.

"That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. What, are we suddenly living the X-Files or something? You’re losing it," Lucas told him, shaking his head in disgust. He pushed Nathan aside, and sat down beside the girl. He pushed her dark hair away from her face. "Go get me a washcloth," he told Nathan over his shoulder.

Nathan rolled his eyes, irritated, although he was beginning to feel a bit ridiculous. While the tournament was important, the idea that anyone would send a girl to poison him seemed a little out there. He did as Lucas requested, and went into the bathroom, where he wet a white face-cloth under the faucet.

When he returned, Lucas already had the girl stirring. Her dark lashes were fluttering. Lucas reached out and took the cloth, gently bathing the girl’s forehead with the cool water. "It’s okay," Nathan’s brother soothed quietly. "You’re okay."

The girl’s eyes snapped open. She stared up at Lucas, looking shocked. Her mouth opened, but no sound seemed to want to come out. She sat up abruptly, still staring. Finally, she said, "Max."

"No, Lucas," Lucas explained patiently. He gestured over his shoulder. "And this is Nathan."

The girl’s dark eyes flickered slightly. She glanced at Nathan. Nathan felt a shiver descend his spine. There was something in those eyes that made him extremely uncomfortable. This girl was just plain weird.

"I’m Liz," she said. She raised her hands to her head, as though she had a splitting headache. "What happened?"

"You passed out," Nathan said. "I tried to help you up, and you just passed out." Almost taking me with you, he added silently to himself.

"I’m sorry," she said quietly. Her expression was briefly distant. "That’s never happened before," she finally finished, glancing at them both. "Listen, can I call my boyfriend? He’ll come get me."

"Of course," Lucas said, although Nathan felt frustrated. He wanted to grill this girl. What had she done to him? And, if it had just been a weird coincidence that they both almost passed out at the same time, what the heck had she been doing outside their door?

The girl - Liz - reached into her pocket, then frowned. "My cell…" She grimaced. "I must have dropped it in the hallway."

"I’ll get it," Lucas volunteered.

Nathan stared at Liz, his eyes narrowed, as they waited in silence for Lucas to return. She avoided his gaze deliberately.

"I’m sorry," Liz whispered suddenly, turning her large dark eyes on him.

Nathan frowned. "For what?" he demanded. "For spying?"

"I wasn’t spying," Liz flared.

"I’m sure you weren’t," Lucas said, interrupting as he returned with the phone.

"That’s what it looked like to me," Nathan said.

"I’m not surprised," Liz snapped. "You’re suspicious of every…" She trailed off, snapping her mouth shut. "Never mind," she muttered.

Nathan scowled even more. This girl wasn’t only weird, she was also extremely annoying. He didn’t even know her. Who the hell did she think she was, analyzing his character?

Liz had turned away by this time, and was speaking into her phone. "Yeah. I’m inside." Pause. "Don’t ask." She hit the off button, and two seconds later a knock sounded on the door.

Nathan and Lucas exchanged glances. Lucas went to answer the door, and a tall, dark-haired guy came in, looking harassed. "Liz! What the hell?" He didn’t really sound angry though. He was mostly upset, and worried, Nathan thought.

"I’ll explain everything, Max," she said quickly. "Just get me out of here."

"What happened?" the guy - Max - demanded.

"She passed out," Lucas informed him. "Nathan brought her in here, and we woke her up. You should probably take her to a doctor."

Max ran his hand through his hair. "Liz!" he exclaimed in frustration.

"Does this happen a lot?" Nathan demanded. "Or only when she’s spying?"

Max blinked. "Excuse me?"

"She was hiding outside our room."

"I wasn’t hiding!" Liz exclaimed.

Nathan raised an eyebrow at her. "You don’t call sitting behind a chair hiding?"

"I’m sure there’s a logical explanation to all of this," Lucas interjected patiently, making Nathan want to punch him. "You weren’t really hiding, were you?" He directed this at Liz.

She wrinkled her nose again, in the way she had when Nathan had first confronted her. "Well…"

"It doesn’t matter," Max interrupted firmly. "The important thing is that we get her to a doctor." He turned to Lucas, whom he seemed to have identified as the least difficult party, much to Nathan’s irritation. "Thanks for taking care of her. I’m Max, by the way."

"It was no problem," Lucas replied. "I’m Lucas. This is Nathan."

"No problem for you," Nathan muttered. "You weren’t the one who was almost knocked out."

Max looked at him strangely, as did Liz. They exchanged glances.

"What do you mean?" Liz asked nervously.

"When you passed out, you almost took me with you," Nathan replied. "I barely managed to get you in here. Did you drug me or something? I’ve heard of drugs that can be transmitted through touch."

Liz stared at him. "What? No!"

Lucas was rolling his eyes. "For God’s sake, Nathan, give it a rest. You’re probably just dehydrated from practice or something."

"I’m not dehydrated," Nathan snapped. "I know what I felt!"

"We need to go," Max said abruptly. He put his arm around Liz’s shoulder and ushered her out of the room. "Thanks again!" he called over his shoulder.

The door slammed shut behind them.

"Look what you did!" Lucas said, sighing. "Now they think we’re freaks or something."

"We’re not the freaks," Nathan replied with certainty. "Something’s not right with that girl."

"Something’s not right with your head," Lucas retorted.

"I’m telling you, there is something weird about that chick," Nathan bellowed, beginning to feel almost apoplectic with frustration. Why did Lucas always have to be so difficult?

"Whatever," Lucas replied, sounding dismissive. He headed towards the doorway.

"Where are you going?" Nathan demanded. He hadn’t yet told his brother about the pool party, or that Brooke had been by to see him. Which meant that he had a very sneaking suspicion he knew exactly where Lucas was going. "You better not be going to see Peyton!"

Lucas paused at the door, but he didn’t turn around.

"I know all about what’s going on," Nathan added.

Lucas turned very slowly. "What do you know?"

"I know that something happened between you and Peyton," Nathan said, scowling at him.

"You don’t know anything," Lucas replied, although Nathan took note that he didn’t deny it.

"I know that you two haven’t exchanged a word in almost a week, which is weird, because before you went away with her, you, her and Brooke were attached at the hip."

"And this seems to imply to you that something’s going on with me and Peyton?" Lucas demanded. "You’re crazy. Not to mention, I’m sure that Hales will be thrilled to know that you follow your ex-girlfriend’s movements so zealously."

"I’m not crazy," Nathan replied firmly, ignoring Lucas’ veiled threat. "Just know, if you mess with Peyton, I’ll kick your ass. Just because we’re not dating anymore, it doesn’t mean I don’t still care about her."

"I have no intention of messing with Peyton," Lucas replied.

Nathan glared at him. He could tell that Lucas was deadly serious. "Just see that you don’t," he warned.

Lucas stared at him for a long moment, then turned on his heel and left, slamming the door behind him.

Nathan snorted in annoyance. Drama! He hated it.

He flopped down on his bed, staring up at the ceiling. And it was only going to get so much lovelier around here, with his father’s impending arrival. What was supposed to have been a fun weekend, away from the pressure his dad placed on his shoulders daily, had turned into another weekend he couldn’t wait to end.

There was only one person who could make him feel better when he felt like this. If only she had been able to come! But Haley was stuck at home, not being a member of the cheerleading squad, nor having enough money to make the trip on her own. Not that Nathan would have asked her to do that. It would have been ridiculous for her to come all this way, just for the weekend.

But it didn’t mean he didn’t still wish she was there. He missed her.

Well, if he couldn’t see her face to face, he could at least do the next best thing. Heaving a sigh, Nathan reached out and picked up the telephone from the bedside table.

She answered on the second ring. Nathan felt his mood brighten immediately.

"Hey, Hales."

At least someone wouldn’t think he was crazy. Not that he planned to tell Haley anything about the strange girl. He didn’t want her to worry or anything.

Nathan realized abruptly that he really did think that Haley might have something to worry about. Not because he was interested in that girl, but because he suspected that meeting her was somehow going to change things permanently - and, not for the better.

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Post by Kath7 » Mon Dec 13, 2004 11:54 pm

Author's Note: Hi everyone! Sorry it's been so long since I've updated. However, this one is now well planned out, so there should be another update fairly soon. Thanks for your patience!

Part 9

"Liz, we need to go home," Max said after he had shut the door to their room. They had moved into a room on the top floor of the hotel where the teams were staying earlier that day, in order to be closer to Liz’s brothers, and in order to investigate more easily. Max had even seemed to be getting into the spirit of things, determined to help Liz figure out what her flashes were trying to tell her about Lucas and Brooke. But, now, after what had happened…Liz was pretty sure that Max’s patience had just about reached its limit.

Liz eyed her boyfriend warily. He was obviously extremely upset but, more than that, worried about her. She released a sigh of frustration. Why had she had to pass out now? Just when she was so close to actually learning something about her real father? Touching Nathan had told her so much. Not only had it told her something about Dan Scott, but it had also made her begin to realize that maybe she was learning the truth about her parentage for a reason beyond the fact that her own parents were driving her crazy.

Maybe this was happening because her brothers needed her. She had already had a flash about Lucas’ life being in jeopardy. And, now that she was remembering some of the stuff she had seen from Nathan…Well, there was something rotten in the Scott family tree - and it wasn’t just Dan’s rampant sex-drive.

Dan Scott might be an ass, but his sons weren’t, and she was beginning to understand that this wasn’t just about her gaining two brothers. It was becoming clear to her that perhaps Lucas and Nathan Scott needed a sister to take care of them.

"Max, we can’t," Liz insisted now. "I need to see this through."

"You’ve met both of them, Liz," Max replied. "And they both think we’re certifiably insane. If you tell them the truth now, they’re going to want to know how you know, and we have nothing to tell them."

"I’ll just tell them that my mom told me the truth," Liz replied.

"But it’s not true, Liz, and it will come out that it’s not. And then they’ll want to know the real reason, and we can’t tell them. This is not the way to go about things. I think we need to go back to Roswell and tell your parents what’s going on. This is a family thing. You need them. You can make a decision as a family about what to do about Lucas and Nathan." He frowned. "Not to mention, this is dangerous. We need to talk to everyone about what’s going on with your flashes. I’m worried about you. They’re getting worse."

"They’re not getting worse!" Liz exclaimed. "They’re just becoming more clear! I mean, I got all kinds of stuff from Nathan when I touched him. Stuff about who he is, and about my father. They’re helping, Max! And telling my parents doesn’t make any sense. They’ll just want to know how I know too. It’s exactly the same problem. I have to use my flashes. They’re helping," she repeated.

"Liz, you passed out," Max almost yelled. "That is not helping! They’re hurting you!"

"I’m fine," Liz said quietly. "Max, I swear I am. That was just some weird anomaly because of Nathan. I’m sure of it."

Max’s eyes narrowed. "What are you talking about? And what was he talking about anyway? He thinks you drugged him?"

Liz shrugged. "I have no idea. Maybe he felt something when I touched him. Didn’t you say that you felt it when I had a flash last time? Who knows?" She wasn’t that concerned. It wasn’t like it would even cross Nathan’s mind that there might be an alien influence involved. After all, he was from Tree Hill, not Alien-Central like her and Max.

"Liz!" Max dropped onto the bed, looking extremely weary. "God. What the hell is going on?"

Liz lowered herself beside him, putting her arm around his shoulders. She leaned into his side. She needed to reassure him that she was fine. "It’s nothing, Max. I swear. Maybe I just felt it more strongly with him because he’s my brother. I mean, we share DNA. It’s probably easier to get flashes from my family. Doesn’t that make sense?"

"Maybe," Max muttered, not sounding convinced. "I just wish that there was someone we could talk to about this. Someone who would know for sure that you’re not getting hurt when these things happen."

"But there isn’t," Liz reminded him. She kissed him on the cheek. "So we just have to go with instinct. And my instinct is that this is the right thing. We need to stay - at least for a little while. I mean, we still don’t even know what’s going to happen to Lucas and Brooke."

Max sighed heavily. "I forgot about that," he admitted. "But I have to say, if it’s a choice between you being hurt by these things, and something happening to two complete strangers, there’s no choice, Liz. I don’t like this."

"He’s my brother, Max," Liz said quietly. "I have to know that he’s okay. I mean, what if it was Isabel?"

Max looked at her, his eyes narrowed. "Liz, it is not the same thing. And you know it."

"It is too," Liz snapped, but then shook her head at herself. She didn’t want to have a fight with Max. He was only worried about her. She loved him for it. But she also had to convince him. She couldn’t leave quite yet. Although she didn’t want to run into Dan Scott either. The news that he was on his way was disturbing, to say the least.

Liz took a deep breath, modifying her tone before continuing, "Please, Max. I’m okay. I swear. I can’t leave. They need me. And not just Lucas. You should have seen some of the stuff I saw from Nathan."

Max looked at her, his dark gaze piercing. Liz gazed back steadily, certainly. He finally sighed heavily, then said, "Do you promise me that you will tell me if something isn’t right? I mean, right away? Liz, I can’t have you keeping things from me. If you pass out again, that’s it. We’re going home."

"I promise," Liz assured him. "Max, I swear. There’s nothing wrong. And, anyway, this could just as easily be happening in Roswell. I can’t seem to touch anything these days without having a flash."

Max raised an eyebrow at her. "Are you having one right now?" he said eventually, his tone beginning to soften. "What am I thinking right now?"

"That you’re just as curious about all of this as I am," Liz guessed. She hadn’t had a flash, but she knew Max. He might not often express it openly, but he was just as interested in all of this, and what it meant, as she was. She knew he was. If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t keep giving in.

"Not exactly," Max replied, sounding wry. "I was thinking that you are the most stubborn person I know." He kissed her gently. "And that’s it really weird that its one of the reasons I love you," he whispered against her ear, as he pulled her more firmly into his arms. "Because it also drive me insane."

They sat that way for several moments of companionable silence, wrapped in each other’s arms, simply enjoying each other’s company in one of the increasingly rare moments of calm in their lives.

"I think it runs in the family," Liz told him eventually, after she had pulled away. Her skin was still tingling from where he had rained gentle kisses down her neck first. "From what I got from Nathan, he isn’t exactly the easiest person to get along with."

"I got that impression myself," Max said. "He seemed a little high strung."

"I think Dan puts a lot of pressure on him," Liz revealed. "I saw some stuff in the flashes…He doesn’t have an easy life. And I think there’s something weird about his relationship with Lucas. Resentment." She paused, then added thoughtfully, "He has someone in his life whose made him feel better about himself lately though. A girl."

"What about Lucas?" Max asked. "Did you get anything from him?"

"No," Liz replied. "He seemed a lot calmer than Nathan though, didn’t he?"

"Yeah, he seemed like a nice guy," Max agreed.

"Which is why we have to protect him," Liz said. "We still have no idea what’s going to happen to him and Brooke." She stood up. "We need to find them again, Max. Follow them."

"They’re going to notice us for sure now, Liz," Max reminded her. "This might get sticky. Lucas has seen you now. And Nathan’s already suspicious. And what happens if whatever it is you saw isn’t supposed to happen this weekend? What then?"

"It doesn’t make any sense that it won’t," Liz replied, ignoring the twinge of concern that Max might be right. "I mean, what would be the point of me having the flash if I can’t prevent whatever it is?"

Max sighed. "I have no idea," he finally said. "I guess we’ll just cross that bridge when we come to it." He stood, offering her his hand. "In the meantime, I guess we might as well go to the party Kyle told us about. They’ll all be there, and it won’t look weird that we’re there too."

Max’s comment about the party and Kyle reminded Liz of what her boyfriend had told her earlier. "I wonder when Kyle’s going to get around to telling me that I’m supposed to be his girlfriend?"

"Hopefully never," Max replied, sounding annoyed. He then smiled slyly. "Of course, if you’re preoccupied with Kyle, I’m sure Pam Troy will be happy to keep me company."

Liz glared at him. "That isn’t even funny, Max Evans!"

Max grinned. "It’s a little funny."

"The day you hold a complete conversation with Pam Troy is the day I wake up a little green around the gills," Liz retorted.

"Is that a challenge?" Max asked, although he was beginning to sound worried. "Because it would seem that you are a little green around the gills these days."

Liz smiled to herself. She knew that the last thing Max actually wanted to have to do was talk to Pam Troy. She considered torturing him slightly, but he was starting to look truly mortified. "No," Liz reassured him. "It isn’t a challenge. Because if you talked to her, then she’d never let me forget it, and then I might have to punch her."

"And that would just be wrong," Max said, sounding relieved, but also amused…and, if Liz was not mistaken, slightly pleased.

"Very wrong," Liz agreed, standing on her tip-toes to kiss him lightly on the lips. "Now, we better get ready for this party." She went into the bathroom.

"Liz," Max called after her. "Would you really punch Pam Troy over a guy?"

Liz opened the door, and smiled at him. "No, Max. Just over you. And not just Pam Troy either."

"You’re very sexy when you’re jealous," Max told her, his voice lowering huskily.

"I try," Liz replied, just as Max reached for her. "Now get ready." She took a step back, closing the door with a snap.

She was still giggling to herself in the shower, the memory of Max’s groan of frustration that had followed making her entire body warm all over.

***

"We need to tell her."

Lucas pushed past Peyton when she opened the door to her hotel room. He started pacing, running his hands through his dark blonde hair in frustration. "I can’t take this anymore. We need to tell her. Tonight."

Peyton grabbed him as he passed by her, a warning frown on her face. She gestured wildly at the bathroom door, clearing indicating that Brooke was inside. Lucas stared at the door in consternation, but let out a slight sigh of relief when he heard the shower running.

He was losing it, big-time. It hadn’t even crossed his mind that Brooke might actually be in the hotel room she was sharing with Peyton. What kind of idiot was he anyway?

Peyton, who was still holding him by the arm, turned him slightly and pushed him towards the door. Lucas allowed it, because obviously they weren’t going to be able to talk with Brooke liable to come out of the bathroom at any minute.

Moments later, Lucas found himself huddled with Peyton in a shadowed alcove down the hallway, having a furiously whispered conversation.

"We agreed, Luke," Peyton hissed. "After the competition. I won’t ruin this for her."

"Nathan’s on to us," Lucas replied in a low tone. "She’s going to find out. It’s going to be so much worse if it doesn’t come from us."

Peyton stared at him, her brown eyes wide. "You told Nathan?" Lucas’ brother’s name came out sounding panicked.

"Of course I didn’t tell him," Lucas replied, shaking his head in annoyance. "He figured it out on his own. I can’t help it if it’s obvious when I’m around you."

Peyton’s expression softened. She sighed. "I know. I’m sorry." She paused, then added, "What did he say?"

"He basically told me that I better not hurt you," Lucas replied. He reached out and gently pushed a lock of bronze hair off of Peyton’s cheek. "Like I would ever let that happen."

Peyton smiled slightly, but then released a small sigh. "God. This is so bad, Luke." She lowered her eyes, biting her lip in consternation.

"We need to tell her," Lucas said firmly. "It’s the only fair thing. It’s wrong not to. We both know it is. We’re pretending that this is about Brooke…not telling her. But we both know it’s not. We’re just scared. The longer we wait, the more hurt she’s going to be."

"I know." Peyton sighed heavily, then allowed herself to sag against Lucas. He felt his heart start to beat more quickly, as it always did when he was touching her. He wrapped his arms around her, burying his face in the curly hair at the nape of her neck. He allowed himself a moment of the peace being like this with her always gave him.

Too soon, Peyton pulled back. "You’re shaking, Luke." She paused, then continued carefully, "This isn’t all you’re upset about, is it? Brooke, I mean?"

Lucas frowned. "You think I’m jealous of Nathan? I’m glad he still cares about you. It shows he’s not a total jerk."

"I heard about Dan." Her tone was sympathetic, and underlying that, concerned.

"Whatever," Lucas replied. "It’s no big deal."

"Luke…"

"Seriously, it’s not. I mean, it’s not like I’ll even see him."

"He’s staying in your room, Lucas."

Lucas pressed his lips together. "I’m going to talk to Whitey about that. See if I can’t move in with Jake and Tim."

Peyton asked tentatively, "Isn’t that just kind of avoiding the issue?"

Luke scowled. "There’s no issue, Peyton. There won’t ever be an issue with Dan Scott. He’s chosen not to be a part of my life, and so I want nothing to do with him either. He won’t care one way or the other, anyway. He’s here for Nathan." Lucas was surprised at the slight pang he felt as he said it. He knew it was true and, yet, he wondered if Nathan might think that Lucas was deserting him if he moved out.

Of course the slight pang was about Nathan. It couldn’t possibly be about Dan. He didn’t care about Dan.

Why should he care? Dan didn’t care about him - at all.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite that easy. And he knew it. Because he also knew, somewhere deep inside, that he, Lucas, did care.

He shook his head firmly. He couldn’t think about what he felt about Dan right now. He had enough to worry about with Peyton and Brooke. He didn’t need Dan on top of everything else.

"I’m worried about you," Peyton said softly.

"Don’t be," Lucas replied firmly. "I’m fine. I swear. It’s Brooke we should be worried about."

Peyton raised a delicate hand, rubbing her forehead tiredly. "I am." She sighed. "What if she never talks to us again?" She sounded so upset at the idea, Lucas’ heart broke for her.

Lucas swallowed, then said quietly, "We don’t have to do it, Peyton. We can…I mean, we don’t have to pursue this. But, the thing is, I have to break up with her anyway. It’s not fair to her. But it doesn’t mean that you have to be a part of it."

Peyton’s head snapped up. "I am a part of it, Luke," she insisted. "I’m in too deep now. And I can’t lie to her anymore either. Or to myself…" She trailed off, then added in a whispered rush, "I love you."

Lucas felt his heart stop, then restart, now beating double-time. He couldn’t stop the grin that split across his face. He pulled her against him, hard. "I love you too," he admitted fiercely.

It was true. The way he felt about her…There was no other way to even attempt to describe it. He loved her and he needed to be with her, no matter what.

He pulled back again, looking her right in the eye. "So we tell her?"

"Yeah," Peyton agreed, closing her eyes and leaning her forehead against his chest. "I guess we have to."

"Okay," Lucas said. He stroked her hair soothingly. "It’ll be okay. I know it will."

And, for one long moment, as they stood there wrapped in each other’s arms, Lucas thought it might be.

Of course, had he not been so engrossed in Peyton just then, he would have seen the captain of the West Roswell Comets step off the elevator, do a double-take at the pair at the far end of the hallway, then quietly melt back into the lift. If he had noticed the expression on Kyle Valenti’s face at the sight of Brooke Davis’ boyfriend and best friend in a compromising position, he probably would have amended the sentiment.

But, fortunately - or unfortunately, dependent on the point of view - he did not.

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Kath7
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Post by Kath7 » Thu Jan 20, 2005 12:57 am

Author's Note: Hi everyone! This is short, but it's a turning point in the story. We're leading up to the big climax of this section, so expect more in a couple of days.

Part 10

"Welcome, ladies! Glad you could make it!"

Brooke wrinkled her nose as the West Roswell player grabbed her hand and raised it to his lips. He was cute enough, but could he be any cheesier? She glanced at Peyton, who rolled her eyes.

"I’m Paulie," the guy continued. He pulled Brooke closer, leering down at her. "And you’re gorgeous."

"You’re certifiable," Brooke snapped, wrenching away from him. She couldn’t quite escape from his grasp though. She smelt alcohol on his breath. He was obviously already three sheets to the wind.

"Certifiably crazy about you," Paulie replied. He leaned in. Brooke realized with horror that he was actually going to try to kiss her.

She was preparing to administer a well-placed knee where the sun didn’t shy, when Paulie was suddenly gone.

"Hey, Mitchell, you’re needed in the pool."

Brooke stared in amazement as Paulie went flying through the air and landed unceremoniously, with a huge splash, in the nearby swimming pool. She found herself abruptly staring at Kyle Valenti, who was shaking his head in annoyance.

"Sorry ‘bout that. He’s kind of an ass when he’s drunk." He didn’t spare the sputtering Paulie a second glance, although Kyle’s team-mate was by now yelling in outrage. Kyle turned his back, clearly unconcerned.

"No kidding," Brooke snapped. "You didn’t need to do that," she added. "I’m not some damsel in distress!"

She could feel butterflies in her stomach. Much to her despair, she knew it wasn't because she had just been accosted by a drunken fool. It was because of how gorgeous Kyle looked. He was dressed casually in jeans, and a West Roswell t-shirt, but they emphasized his well-toned athlete’s body. It was also clear that he had just showered, because his brown hair was slightly damp, and slicked back, which drew attention to his blue, blue eyes.

Which was why she was being so peevish. After all, he had helped.

"I could see that," Kyle said wryly, ignoring Brooke’s tone. He looked to her right. "Hey, Peyton."

"Hi, Kyle," Peyton replied, sounding amused.

"Can I interest either of you in a drink?" Kyle asked, motioning towards the far side of the pool. "Booze is over there."

"Sure," Peyton said, before Brooke could say no. She sighed. She needed to get away from this guy. He was confusing matters far too much. She wasn’t supposed to notice how cute other guys looked! She had a boyfriend! A boyfriend she loved.

But Peyton had already linked arms with her and was pulling her along beside Kyle.

"How are you getting away with this?" Peyton asked as they made their way towards the make-shift bar. "Where the heck are your chaperones? Where’s the hotel staff?"

"The hotel staff is being paid to look the other way. Our chaperones are what you might call ‘out of commission’," Kyle said. He grinned mischievously.

"What did you do to them?" Brooke inquired, curious in spite of herself.

"Nothing too wild," Kyle replied. "Just some Nyquil in their dinner drinks. It puts my dad out like a light. He’s the only one we really need to worry about. The rest of ‘em could care less. They’re all dads who used to play. They get it."

"Your dad, the sheriff?" Brooke asked, raising her eyebrows. She had to admit it took balls to mess with a father who was also a police officer.

"Yup," Kyle answered. "It makes him even easier to deal with. He’s so sure we won’t try to pull one over on him, we almost always get away with it."

Brooke laughed in spite of herself. "That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard."

"That’s my dad," Kyle replied. "He’s a good cop, but he’s not so great at the whole ‘paying attention to the kid’ thing. I get away with a lot of stuff."

Brooke heard something in his tone - a slight bitterness - that made her glance at Kyle in surprise. Their eyes met. There was a pause, during which Brooke realized that she was beginning to blush. Kyle’s gaze was meeting hers straight on, and it was warm and ridiculously mesmerizing. She forced herself to look away.

It was then that Brooke noticed that Peyton had disappeared. She looked around frantically. Where had her best friend gone? And why had she left her all alone with Kyle? Had Brooke, or had Brooke not spent close to the hour it took them to get ready telling Peyton about how weird it was being around Kyle because of what had happened last year?

Of course, she was also the one who had insisted that it didn’t mean anything, when Peyton had stared at her intently during the discussion. It had made her so uncomfortable, she had told Peyton that she wanted to try to be friends with Kyle, so that they could move beyond the strangeness. Peyton had probably just taken her at her word, and had left her alone with the basketball star so that she could tell him that.

As if. There was no way she could be friends with him, obviously. Not when she felt goosebumps rising on her skin just from his proximity.

This was so not good.

"So, where’s your girlfriend?" Brooke blurted.

"Around," Kyle answered mildly. He was eyeing her, looking slightly amused.

"I was looking forward to meeting her again," Brooke continued. "She seemed nice." She knew she was babbling inanities, but she couldn’t seem to stop herself.

Kyle just smiled. "I’ll just go find her, shall I? And you can go find your boyfriend. We can have a nice little double-date."

Brooke frowned at him. He looked smug. What was going through that warped brain of his?

"Okay," she said uncertainly. She looked around. "I don’t see him yet," she admitted. She glanced at her watch. Where was Lucas anyway? It was after ten.

"Maybe he’s with his real girlfriend?" Kyle asked, sounding innocent.

Brooke glanced at him. "What?" She was slightly distracted, worried about her missing boyfriend. Had Peyton been right? Was Luke so upset about Dan Scott’s presence at the tournament, he had decided to skip the party?

Kyle shook his head. "C’mon, Brooke. Let’s cut the crap here. We both know that you don’t have a boyfriend, and I don’t have a girlfriend. Can we just stop these games and say what’s really on our minds?"

She blinked, then stared at him. "Huh? What are you talking about?" Her attention was completely on him now. "That Liz girl isn’t your girlfriend?"

"No," Kyle admitted sheepishly. "I just didn’t want you to know that I was really looking forward to seeing you here again. Not after I heard that you were dating someone." He smiled slightly, looking a little shy. Brooke felt her heart start to thump more quickly in her chest. "But, now that I know that were both just messing with each other…Let’s just stop it, Brooke. Do we really want to waste anymore of the weekend pretending we don’t still like each other?"

Brooke felt herself getting lost in his warm gaze again, which she understood was probably not doing much to convince Kyle that he wasn’t right. Okay, she could afford to be a little honest with him so that he wasn’t totally embarrassed when he realized that he was totally barking up the wrong tree.

She shook her head, wrenching her eyes away from his, and said firmly, "Kyle, I’m not going to deny that I’m not still attracted to you. But I have a boyfriend. The timing sucks. I’m sorry."

Kyle didn’t say anything for a long moment. He just eyed her, looking tolerant. It irritated Brooke. Why wasn’t he taking no for an answer?

Could it be because your lips are saying no, but your body is saying yes? A small voice in the back of her head asked. Brooke realized with horror that she had actually taken a step closer to Kyle.

"I have a boyfriend," she repeated. She deliberately took a step back.

"Brooke, c’mon," Kyle sighed. He looked hurt. "If you don’t want to hang out, fine, but stop lying to me. Just tell me that flat out."

"Kyle, I’m not lying," Brooke snapped. "I swear I have a boyfriend."

"Lucas Scott?" Kyle asked. "The same Lucas Scott I saw kissing your best friend not an hour ago upstairs?" He eyed her incredulously. "Brooke, I know he’s dating Peyton. I’m sure you had some big scheme for him to act like your boyfriend, just like I planned to have Liz act like my girlfriend, but the cat’s out of the bag. I saw them."

Brooke felt her stomach drop. She stared at Kyle for what felt like forever, trying to see even the slightest hint on his face that he was joking. If he was, she wasn’t quite sure what was supposed to be so funny about this - deliberately hurting her - but he was quite obviously messing with her. Was he really that bitter?

However, when she saw the expression that crossed Kyle’s face when he took in her disbelief, she suddenly realized that he wasn’t joking at all.

"What?" she whispered, her shock so complete, she felt her knees about to give out on her.

"Oh my God," Kyle said. "He really is your boyfriend." He stared at her in horror. "Brooke…" He reached out, as though to support her, but she pulled away.

She needed out of there. Immediately. She whirled, searching around frantically for an exit.

Her eyes zeroed in on Peyton, who was standing near the bar. She wasn’t alone. Lucas was standing next to her, and although they weren’t touching, there was something in the way they were holding themselves that told Brooke absolutely everything she needed to know. There was an intimacy there, right out in the open, that she really could not believe she had never noticed before.

Kyle was not playing a trick, or making a bad joke. This was really happening. Her best friend and her boyfriend had betrayed her.

As she watched, Lucas reached out and touched Peyton on the small of the back, directing her through the crowd. They were headed for an exit that led out into the lobby of the hotel.

"Brooke…" She felt a light touch on her shoulder. She looked at Kyle, who was clearly mortified. "I’m so sorry. I’m such a jerk. I really had no idea."

"Neither did I," she whispered. She felt tears sting her eyes. "Kyle, I have to go," she said, through gritted teeth. She would not cry in public. She would not cry in front of Pam Troy, whom she had just glimpsed moving in her direction, no doubt to continue the bickerfest that was their usual conversational style.

"Brooke, let me come with you," Kyle pleaded. "You shouldn’t be alone."

"But I am alone," Brooke replied dully. "Obviously, I always have been."

With that, she walked away from him without looking back.

Locked