Of Journals & Journeys (AU M/L, YTEEN) Ch. 62 Pg 22 - 12 / 29 [COMPLETE]

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Re: Of Journals & Journeys (AU M/L, YTEEN) Ch. 19 Pg 11 - 12

Post by Misha » Sat Dec 13, 2014 10:24 pm

Hey! The beta is feeling much, much better, so we might get beta-ed chapters soon :mrgreen:

Meanwhile, here's a short scene :)



June 24th, 2011 – Day 1727 and counting

I can't win this battle. I can't pretend I don't know the things I've come to know through my flashes. I can't pretend that being inside these walls and getting my weekly fixes isn't killing me.

I don't know if I can withstand going to see Parker. What if I touch her, and get a flash that all this time she's been plotting my demise? What if I've been wrong about her all along?

Yet, as days pass, I realize that I don't have any other choices, do I? She's the only one I have left.


Chapter Twenty
Plan C



The last week of June, Max restarted his Starbucks routine. He didn't risk going directly to Parker, not without checking that his alibi was still secure. That meant scouting the area, seeing if he was being followed, and long hours sitting on a table all by himself, pretending to read or research on his laptop while his senses got attuned to this place again.

Relief flooded him the first night he was back. Parker's car was in its old spot despite the late hour. She was still working on this. She was still waiting for him. Or maybe that's wishful thinking.

He also noticed a new car. Maybe a new technician? Maybe one of her friends? The car wasn't there on Tuesday or Wednesday, but was parked very close to her own Honda on Thursday. It was there on Saturday and Sunday as well. She came over the weekends now, but she wasn't coming alone.

Max drummed his fingers on the table, unsettled. She'd never been over the lab on weekends before, and much less accompanied. Part of him was sure she'd discovered something major, and was so close to the truth she worked non-stop. But if that were true, then why was she having someone else with her?

His first instinct told him that she had betrayed him. She had showed her research to some idiot and now they were working on their future Nobel Prize. How long had she waited? Three weeks? Four? Once the month was gone she decided he was probably never going to come back and his blood was free for all!

On his less paranoid moments, he thought she was working on something major, but for once it didn't have to do with him. She did have a job as a researcher, and the company did work with all kinds of drugs. Chances were, her boss was making her work longer hours, and someone from her team was helping her out.

When they closed Starbucks on Sunday night and no one had come out of the lab to claim either car, he had the depressing thought that maybe she was dating someone from the lab. It wasn't that he didn't want her to have a love life, but that it was impractical for him. It would mean she wasn't 100% focused on looking for his cure.

Late that night in his room, Max contemplated forgetting all about Plan A and B, and coming up with a third plan. He needed to get the drug out of his system without killing him. And as Sunday became Monday, Plan C eluded him. He'd invested so much time on Plan B for a good reason, after all.

He was never going to leave this life, was he? If his body didn't fight this, if she didn't find the cure… He should have never placed his freedom in the hands of a stranger.

It had been a long time since he'd felt this helpless. About 1727 days and counting, he thought with a miserable sense of humor. Closing his eyes, he willed his body to relax. He had a couple of hours of sleep before Frank came through that door, ready with his next mission. Feeling sorry for himself was not going to help him.

He fell asleep before he could notice the silent tear that ran down his face.
"There's addiction, and there's Roswell!"

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Re: Of Journals & Journeys (AU M/L, YTEEN) Ch. 20 Pg 12 - 12

Post by Misha » Sun Dec 14, 2014 8:50 pm

Hey! I think I'm good with new chapters for the entire week. So, if you missed the update on Ch. 20 yesterday, go back and read it :mrgreen:





Journal entry 11, July 3rd, 2011

We never really think about the price of freedom, do we? The 4th of July comes and goes, fireworks, smiles, barbecues. But none of us know what it really is like to live with invisible chains, seeing the world with our hands bound, having no choice but to obey.

I haven't seen John since he let me know that my suspicions have been right all along. Half-alien. Yeah, I can believe that. No human has the soulful look that Max's eyes have. John tries to hide it, but every time he brings his wife into the equation, I can see it in there as well. I guess he has lived long enough outside to learn to hide it, least someone figures out his non-human status.

I have heard about him, though. Now that he's becoming a major investor, William has been driving me crazy with reports, updates, and paperwork. He's driving me insane! I spend every minute that I can working on that drug composition, on how to neutralize it, but with my boss breathing down my neck every other night… Even if Max were on his doorframe right now, I would have to send him home.

The funny thing is I almost feel as if Max were right around the corner all the time.



Chapter Twenty-One
Privacy



The Fourth of July week brought with it a much needed respite in Liz Parker's life. For once, she didn't have to stare at a computer while her well-meaning-if-annoying boss looked over her shoulder, hopelessly trying to understand a word she said.

It also brought an unexpected visitor to her own doorframe.

"Oh my God! Alex?! What are you doing here?!" Still scrawny, still grinning as if he were fifteen and not twenty-eight, Alex Whitman stood on her doorway with Thai take out in one hand, and a carry-on in the other.

"Well, I was in the neighborhood," he said with his characteristically wide smile, while she hugged him.

"Come on in! Are you like, coming from the airport?"

"Well, I actually made a detour for food, first. That thing airplane's serve now? It doesn't really count as edible," he said, raising the Thai food bag. It brought back a memory of Max coming to her lab with food, the same Thai logo, the same spicy smell. It had been the one and only time she'd ever eaten with him.

"Maria told me you didn't have plans for the holiday, and I tried to call but my phone had this suicide thought and it crashed while I was trying to avoid this lady who had this huge—"

Alex kept talking about his trip while they settled the food, the dishes and the beverages. Having Alex around brought with him an incredible energy, a need to smile and be spontaneous and just be happy. Why had Alex never seriously dated was probably a loss for all women in the world.

Married to his job… doesn't that sound familiar, Doctor? She told herself. Strangely, the jab came in Max's voice.

"Plus! We're celebrating!"

"What?"

"Well, it's not a done contract right now, but—I got it. I mean, my company got it!"

Liz frowned, completely lost. "Got what?"

"The contract! As of next month, we're going to be consultants for your labs."

"No way!"

"And it all started with your recommendation!"

She had utterly forgotten about that. Hadn't they been talking about this back in January or February? Had she been so consumed with Max that everything else around her life had stopped having any meaning? That nothing else mattered?

Yes.

No.

Maybe?


Alex went chatting about how it all had unfolded, and how he had this one last interview to sign the contract in three days. Liz smiled, played the best host her parents had taught her to be, and enjoyed Alex's company to the fullest. Maybe she had been distracted, sure, but she was out of the lab right this moment, and she was entitled to her life.

What about Max's life? Isn't he entitled to spend it with friends as well? Does he have any? Is he allowed any?

She squashed that little voice as best as she could. Alex deserved much better than this. And she had been busting her neurons for months in order to find that drug. She just wasn't a miracle worker.

Her fingers fidgeted below the table as she fought the sudden urge to leave her apartment and go to the lab. One more trial. One more test. She was so close now—

"Oh! I forgot! A package was outside," Akex said while they cleaned the table.

"A package?" On a Fourth of July?

Alex walked to his carry-on, unzipped it, and took a small manila folder out.

To Dr. Parker.

She recognized the handwriting immediately: John's. She tore it open before Alex could say anything. Two seconds later, a black USB dropped on her palm. A folded note followed. She read it while Alex looked at her, waiting for an explanation.

He'll need to watch this.

"Anything wrong?" Alex mentioned as she re-read the note. "You look kind of pale…"

The USB on her hand felt heavier than lead. Her first instinct was to open her laptop, plugged in the device, and see it. Then she re-read it again: He'll need to watch this. He. Max. Not her. Was she going to take that choice from him, too? This wasn't hers. If she watched it before Max, she'd been taking one more thing from: his right to privacy. One he already seriously lacked.

"Liz?"

"Sorry. Just… work stuff." She folded the note with the USB inside, and put it on her pocket. Picking the package, she studiously shredded it while walking to the closest trash tin.

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah… yes! What were you saying about staying at a hotel? I have plenty of room here!" she went on and on, changing the subject and never coming back to it. On her left pocket, the USB burned through her soul. For the first time, she had more than just blood from Max. And she was not going to peek.
"There's addiction, and there's Roswell!"

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Re: Of Journals & Journeys (AU M/L, YTEEN) Ch. 21 Pg 12 - 12

Post by Misha » Mon Dec 15, 2014 8:22 pm

Yay! Long chapter! In case you're late to the party, this is the third chapter I've updated in a row ;)




Journal entry 12, July 5th, 2011


The thing no one ever tells you about having secrets is how much they can tear you apart. How much the excitement gives room to anxiety. How not being able to contact Max is slowly killing me, but not being able to talk about it is pure torture.

I've only lived with this for seven months. How on Earth does Max manage to go through life like this? At least John's married. He shares his secrets with someone. Would Max ever trust me enough to share his? Not as his doctor, but as his friend?

Is he even alive right now?



Chapter Twenty-Two
Blood Ties



John's physical disappearance reminded Liz that she lived in a dangerous world now. One where secrets were kept to the point people would kill for. One where half-alien hybrids walked around, changing the colors of Starbucks' cups, while being shadowy, gloomy, and broody.

She had more than enough on her plate between analyzing John's old data, organizing the research files for the upcoming merge with John's company, and carrying around John's USB everywhere she went. Officially, John had taken over her life.

Maybe he'd done it on purpose. Since the day she'd learned the alien truth about him—and by extension, about Max—she'd been so swamped in work, numbers, and biochemistry, she hadn't had time to freak out. Contemplate the implications? Sure. Theorize about the possibilities? Definitely. Running around in circles because aliens walked the Earth? Not yet, but she was getting close.

Had his wife freaked out?

She'd researched him a little, but she just plain sucked at internet stalking. She had no more idea now about who John Herschel was than she did two weeks ago. The fact that he never mentioned his wife by name was odd enough. Protecting her? And why were the files all throw in the box like that? Her notes would indicate John's wife was a highly organized person—much like herself, really—so it didn't make much sense.

Unless John had taken the research without her consent or knowledge…

He's trying to get Max out. What would I do in her place? It takes me ages to get him free just to see him going back there twenty years later? Really? Wouldn't that feel like a slap on my face?

But then, she didn't really know John, his wife, or their relationship. All she had were a few revelations, two hundred pages of notes, and a story larger than life.

And a doorframe, she thought as she glimpsed at the door for the hundredth time. She was so used to see it empty that she didn't notice that someone was actually there. When it registered two seconds later, she looked up startled. Surely, she told herself, it's my imagination.

But the image remained there. A perfect silhouette of a man she had come to know to the last strand of DNA, if nothing else.

"I wasn't sure if you were going to come before or after the contract was signed. William won't shut up about it," she said with a chuckle, writing down some numbers on the chart before she could give her full attention to her guest. "Although I gotta thank you, John, that's one heck of a research."

"Who's John?"

Two little words that shattered everything she'd been dreading for two months now. The tone, dark, masculine, and slightly vulnerable could come only from one of her subjects. This time, when she looked up, her heart slammed on her chest.

"Oh my God, you're alive!" she stood so fast that the stool fell noisily behind her. She wanted to run, she wanted to touch him, she wanted to—what? Throw herself at his neck and unwaiting arms? She couldn't picture Max reaching for her and spinning her around. As much as she wanted to help him, as much as seeing him alive lifted a ton of weight off her shoulders, as much as it made her happy… that was just not Max. She stood frozen midway there, while Max stood frozen on his doorframe.

"Who's John?" he repeated, seemingly without moving. She could hear something else there now: betrayal.

Who's John? Really? A million answers got stuck in her throat. From the moment she had laid eyes on his "brother", to the moment she'd gotten the notes that had left her one step away from finding the exact drug component, to Alex's charming face smiling because he'd signed the contract. Even her boss's face made an appearance in the kaleidoscope of images that her brain strained to place into a coherent order, talking ad nauseam about this deal and what it meant for the company.

"He—" she started, feeling her smile fade a little. If she said the wrong thing now, Max could very well turn around and never come back. The realization hurt her. "He left something for you," she said, swallowing.

Max came into the lab then, in all his gloomy glory. And he looked terrible.
She bit her tongue before she could ask questions about where he'd been the last two months. There's going to be time for that, she told herself. Surely, Max had his reasons to disappear for so long, but the dark vibes coming off him were not inviting her to twenty questions.

"You told him," he stated.

She laughed. More like an outburst, really, while she went for the USB. "He told me." Then she sighed. "A lot has happened since you left. And I mean, a lot. It's going to take me a while to explain it all, so please, please, don't leave before I'm done."

Max frowned, his movements cautious. His hands were by his side, and she realized he was relaxing them from a previously fisted position. He was angry, but now he was curious as well.

"He did leave this for you, though. I—I haven't opened it. He said you would need to see this?" She'd been meaning to state, but it came out as a question.

"How could he have told you about me? Wait, did they find about you?"

His anger evaporated. It was visibly replaced by worry, and Liz had no idea what to read into that.

"No, no. It's… it's complicated."

"Explain," he said, taking the closest stool and siting on it, perfectly upright. He winced after a moment.

"Are you okay?"

"Yeah, just a flash. Now, explain."

She'd forgotten how infuriately cryptic being around Max could be. A flash?

"I guess the best way to tell you this is in chronological order. Two months ago, I was having lunch when…"

She told him everything in as much detail as she could. About how John had found her out of thin air. About the contract with the labs. Even about the lunch where John talked to her boss and her with total different meanings. About the samples that had arrived the next few days. About not having seen him since he told her the truth.

She even told him about her suspicious that his wife didn't know all of this.

And through all of it, Max didn't say a word. He narrowed his eyes, and looked at other parts of the lab, thinking God knew what. He never hunched. He sat as straight at the end of her tale as he had at the beginning.

"The handwriting is his. I— I haven't looked at what's inside, but we can check it on my—"

"No," Max said finally, raising from the stool. "They might be tracking the files. Once you open them, you'll have half the base on you."

Liz froze, the USB in her hand suddenly burning her skin as if it were on fire.

"What?"

"Yours," he said to himself. "I've been piecing together fragmented information these past two months. I didn't know what they meant until now. 'Yours'. He said 'I don't care how you did it with yours'. They were referring to John."

"So, this isn't news for you…" Liz said slowly, feeling suddenly stupid. Of course he would know! He was the guy with the super powers here.

"Oh, it is. In more ways than one… Alien, huh?" he said with a ghost of a smile, hardly finding anything funny at all.

"So you don't want to open it?"

Max shook his head. "I can't risk it. I'd rather not know than to fall into a trap."

Inwardly, Liz winced in dismay. Had Max never trusted anyone?

"I don't know him, Doctor," Max explained, maybe reading Liz's consternation. "Up until two months ago, I had no idea there was another me around. Maybe there are more. What I do know is that I have no way of knowing if there's something harmful in that device."

"He… he looked worried enough about you…" Liz defended John in a small voice, feeling like she should stick to microscopes and stats.

"Think about it, Parker," Max said in a more practical tone. "He invested in your company, and then shows up knowing you have been working for me? He spins a tale about how his wife helped him out, much the same way you have me. A wife he doesn't name and gives hardly any details about. The best way to keep up a lie is giving few details. It's easier to keep it straight in your head in the long run. Now he gives this to you? He wants to track me. The only reason he wants that is if he—"

"CHAMPAGNE!" The loud sound of a cork flying by the hall almost shattered Liz's heart. Max turned around in an instant with his hand extended, ready to unleash another one of his secret skills. The light flickered and a few test tubes cracked around him.

Grinning as if he had won the lottery, Alex happily spilled half the bottle of champagne on the floor while the bubbles still frizzled.

"WE'RE OFFICIALLY PARTNERS!!" he yelled as if she weren't ten feet away. "This calls for celebration big time!"

It was until that moment that he noticed that neither she nor Max was moving.

"Um, we are partners, right? The kind who celebrate, I presume?" he looked at them, really looked at them, and swallowed. Bubbles still fell to the floor. "Woa, this is awkward if not…" Alex trailed off, the tips of his ears turning scarlet.

"You think I'm John," Max said a moment later, the tension leaving his shoulders, finally lowering his hand.

Alex froze in place, his blue eyes opening wide. "I—you—what…? Wait, you're not—"

Max shook his head, turning to look at Liz with a serious stare. "I'm his brother."

"You're not kidding," Alex said slowly, blinking a couple of times. "But you look… I mean, John looks..."

"Older. We know. Doctor, I'll come back—"

"Alex! We have a problem," Liz rushed in, passing Max by. "The kind of problem you love," she added with a smile, the USB on her open palm. Alex grinned at that, forgetting the non-celebration.

Behind her, she couldn't see the murderous look Max aimed at her.
"There's addiction, and there's Roswell!"

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Re: Of Journals & Journeys (AU M/L, YTEEN) Ch. 22 Pg 13 - 12

Post by Misha » Tue Dec 16, 2014 8:28 pm

Ah, I so love to post every day :mrgreen:




Journal entry #13, July 6th, 2011

Is it really that hard to ask for help? To trust the people your friends trust?

Wait, don't answer that…



Chapter Twenty-three
Decoding



It was late by the time Alex left the keyboard. It had been midnight a little while ago, and Liz didn't know what to do to keep herself occupied and Max from bolting.

There was no way Max was going to leave now that Alex was making progress with the USB. Liz, on the other hand, tried to keep busy with the charts. Without Alex being in the known, she couldn't talk about the whole thing freely with Max.

"You're just putting yourself and your friend in danger," Max whispered, while he reheated his latest cup of coffee—with his bare hands.

She stared at them. Long fingers that gripped the cup a little too tight. What else could those hands do?

"I happen to know Alex is extremely good at what he does. You think John would have picked him otherwise?"

"I have no idea what John might do regarding anything. He might be outside waiting for me for all I know."

"Would you look at it from my perspective?" He didn't say anything, she took that as a yes. "Let's say you were him. You found me somehow, we spent months, maybe a couple of years developing this thing to get you out. We—we fall in love," she said, not letting the blush stop her, "and then we go happily ever after to some remote island in the middle of the pacific. Except… and this is a big except, okay? You know they have another you. A child, a baby, I don't know—"

"A six-year old," Max supplied, his jaw set.

"A—right. A six-year old. And all this time, you've been wondering about him, what is happening to him. Are they treating him like you were treated? So you never forget… and… Somehow he finds you, just don't ask me how, you're probably better at this than I am. And now that he knows about you, he's trying to set you free. And here we are."

"You make it sound so easy," he said, looking at Alex, who couldn't be farther from their conversation at this point. All he had eyes and ears for where the monitor and the keyboard.

"Maybe it's a bit of both, you know?" Liz said, shrugging. "He said he was risking a lot by coming so close to the base. Are you staying close?"

"About 30 miles from here, actually. This is the closest Starbucks to the base. I pretend I come for a cup of coffee every free night I've got."

Liz stopped at that. "Every single night? So… you've been out there some nights without coming up here?"

"Of course, almost every night for the past three weeks, actually." The nonchalance in which he said that boiled Liz's blood up.

"What? What?! You think I haven't been agonizing for the past sixty three days if you were alive or dead?!"

That got Alex's attention. They both ignored him.

"I can't come every night here. What if I'm being followed? I take the upmost respect for your safety. If you are gone, or worse, killed, where does that leave me?"

The only reason she didn't slap him right there and then was because Alex cleared his throat. But Max read her intent loud and clear, the guilty look in his eyes betraying him a second later.

"It's clean. I threw at it everything I could think of, and nothing but video. Um… this doesn't mean our newly made partnership is doing something illegal right?"

"No," Liz said.

"Not at all," Max said with her. They said it a little bit too fast. Alex nodded, completely unconvinced.

"Why would anyone want to track you with this device?" he asked finally, his fingers still flying on his keyboard.

"That's none of your business," Max answered in a deadly tone.

"What he means is, he's very grateful for you taking the time to check it out for him," Liz said instead, going over to Alex. "So, it's just a video?"

"Several, actually. About tweeeenty—twenty-seven. They all have a different time stamp and are different qualities and stuff like that."

"But it's clean. It means no one can trace us?" Liz pressed for Max's benefit.

"It means there's nothing in these files that is not supposed to be there. You were safe from the beginning. So the last thing to do is see if they all run—"

Before Max or Liz could end this whole thing with "thank you Alex, I'll take it from here", Alex clicked the first video. As far as he was concerned, whatever was there was for all to see.

Liz's heart jumped to her throat. Max was behind Alex so fast it was almost dizzying. "Don't—!"

The monitor went black for a moment, and then a movie started. On instinct, Alex froze the frame, afraid that he had done something wrong.

"—play them," Max whispered, his eyes glued to the monitor the same way hers were. Men in containment white hazmat suites stood inside a large warehouse, holding different tools and clipboards. The stamp date on the file read November, 1976. The largest object on the frame—the largest object in the entire warehouse by the looks of it—was a huge, dark gray, flying saucer.

"This isn't a movie, is it?" Alex whispered, turning to look at Liz. She shook her head.
"There's addiction, and there's Roswell!"

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Re: Of Journals & Journeys (AU M/L, YTEEN) Ch. 23 Pg 13 - 12

Post by Misha » Wed Dec 17, 2014 9:40 pm

I think I still have a couple of chapters ready to finish this week of updates :mrgreen: This is one of my favorite chapters 8) Do you guys have any favorite so far?

begonia, just to keep it clear, this AU deals with the "what if..." the shapeshifters didn't survive the '47 crash. It means that Antar is somewhere up there waiting for their king, and that the 2 sets of pods were taken by the military and never rescued. So, John is Zan, but why is he so much older is a tale for another chapter ;)



July 6th, 2011 – Day 1739 and counting


The thing about trusting people is that it requires… trust. There's no other way to phrase it, really. It means you tell them something that they won't unhear. See things they won't unsee. Bottom line is, once you give them your trust, there's no way to get it back.

For the longest time, I have always been told who to trust. It isn't a matter of choosing for me. Parker taking it away by recruiting Whitman is just one more reminder that trusting is not something that comes easily—or freely—in my life.

The irony being, of course, that the one and only person I have ever trusted without being told to, is Dr. Parker herself.



Chapter Twenty-Four
Haunted



Once Alex Whitman saw what he saw, there was no point in holding it back. Later, Max would think that all he had to do was take the USB and storm out of that place. Leave Parker with the mess to explain what was going on, wait a few weeks to come back, and hope she wouldn't follow through with that attempted slap.

The truth was, seeing that frozen frame with an obvious spaceship triggered all kinds of emotions within himself.

He'd been lied to, but that wasn't new. What was new was the scale at what had been told to him. The first thing he thought was: So, Parker was right. They couldn't have created me thirty years ago…

The second thought was that John had also been telling the truth. Aliens. Half-aliens, anyway, but certainly not entirely human. Never that.

And once that realization hit him, a million others threatened to bury him underneath. He had always had a purpose. Before tonight, that had always been clear: he was created by the US Government to see the potential of the human brain. He was a weapon, a strategy. An advantage.

Now he was none of those things. At least, his origin point had never intended him to be. He just didn't know his intended orders right now, his intended purpose, and that left him feeling hollow.

"Do you want to… keep watching?" Alex half whispered, his hand hovering over the mouse.

"Max…?" Liz asked, now giving him the choice.

"Is it long?" he heard himself asking. Alex moved the mouse below the video, and the timing stated: 6:23. How much information could six minutes and twenty-three seconds tell him?

Hell, I'm just looking at a frozen frame and that has already destroyed the bases of my existence.

He nodded.

Alex hit play, the three of them getting closer to the monitor.

The first minute went by with nothing changing much. People middling around, calling each other for things. In the back, tables with many pieces were neatly arranged.

A very young Summers made an appearance then, making Max's blood run cold. He couldn't be older than 30 years then. Maybe not even 25.

"As you can see, we’re very busy today. The ship has been receiving radio transmission that we’re unable to decode. Once every four months and six days, to be precise. And, today's the day, as they say. Since our last two attempts to decode this signal, we have learned a whole lot more. We’re confident this time, we'll get something right."

The next three minutes went into detail about their data, how they had intercepted the first signals ten years ago. It was all rather technical and… boring. Only Alex nodded in understanding.

"This makes sense to you?" Max asked.

"Yeah. Well, some of it is rather old fashioned, but then again, this is forty years old. The principles still apply, but they would use other technology now."

"You think they managed the signal?" Parker asked.

"Only one way to know," Alex said, calling up the file window with the other twenty-six videos in it. "We'll have to watch them all."

She turned to look at Max, and Alex followed suit two seconds later.

"We might as well watch them," he said with a heavy sigh. He looked at the clock in the wall. It was late, and someone at the base was bound to ask questions. Maybe just a couple of videos, then.

The second video started with a shaky camera being focused and placed in position. It was strange, really, to anticipate this so much while dreading it in equal measure.

Max frowned as two men in lab coats appeared. That was Frank, all right, with beard and glasses he no longer wore. Hadn't he said something about an eye surgery? Or had that been a flash?

It didn't matter. Frank smiled and nervously fidgeted with the clipboard, while the other lab coat talked to someone off the camera.

"We're rolling," someone yelled from behind the lens.

"After so much consideration," the man who wasn't Frank started, someone Max had never seen in his life, "we believe that the decrease in oxygen inside the fluid in the pod is deteriorating at an alarming rate. The subject inside won't survive longer than a few more weeks."

"Since our one and only success is this hybrid's counterpart, we're pretty optimistic that the subject will survive." Frank said with a smile, his shaking hands now clasped. "We're as ready as we're ever going to be."

"Can you detail what went wrong with the other hybrids' emergence?" the off camera man asked. Frank frowned. The man beside him didn't look pleased.

"Lung development. We're expecting the same underdevelopment from our eighth subject, of course, but we're better prepared this time around. Even better than we were with John. This should be a success."

"Can you—" whatever the question, it was interrupted by a nurse coming to Frank. She said something on his ear, and he nodded, all serious now.

"It seems we might have been off. I don't think our subject should wait any longer, do you?"

Frank and his partner moved to a crystal panel that overlooked a wide room where a dozen people mingled around. A hospital gurney waited alongside what looked like a standard OR. But all the commotion was around a dark object, something that didn't belong in the pristine whiteness of everything else.

"As you'll see," Frank said while dressing in scrubs, "the fluid inside the pod is almost translucent now."

"Have you named the subject?" the cameraman asked. Frank smiled.

"It was closed, but John broke the tie. He voted for Max."

The video ended there, Alex's monitor becoming black.

No one said anything.

Alex closed the player, and went for the next file. Max's heart accelerated. He didn't recognize the pod from the previous video, but this one was from inside the room.

Pod was an apt name for it. It was big, big enough to contain a six year old inside without much of a problem. Max had seen pictures of himself as a young kid, of course, remembered how he looked back then, but seeing himself now, floating inside, with his eyes closed and looking so vulnerable… It made him shiver.

He took a step back.

A lot of equipment was arranged in the room. A lot of bright lights. A lot of anticipation. Someone talked in the video, but Max couldn't hear it. He kept looking as a gloved hand took a scalpel, and slashed in the air, indicating where the cuts would happen.

A dozen electrodes were pasted to the translucent layer of the pod, giving feedback to a dozen monitors, where lines and beeps kept tabs on his biometrics. His younger self had been wistfully ignorant of all the commotion.

The scalpel made contact, and fluid poured out. Several gashes were carefully cut at the bottom. Inside, he didn't move.

A whole minute went by as people checked monitors, more fluid gushed out, and eager hands touched the outer layer. Eager to touch him. Eager to take him out from the only place he'd ever known.

He took another step back. His heart banged in his chest. Parker and Alex where indifferent to his anxiety, glued to what was happening on the monitor.

The same gloved hand cut right atop of him, and the layer gave up without any resistance. The scalpel was left behind. They reached for his head first, bringing it outside.

Max collided with the wall. It was as if he were trapped in a flash. He remembered… he remembered the sensation of something going through his mouth and throat. He remembered the discomfort, wanting to move but unable to do so.

In the video, his airways were being cleared. Someone supported his shoulders while someone else placed a heart monitor.

The light came afterwards. To his sensitive eyes, it hurt like hell. All he'd known was darkness, comfortable and warm, and now he was experiencing cold and light for the very first time. He tried to fight harder.

He wasn't looking at the video anymore. He was trapped in it. His body was completely taken out and placed on the gurney. Hands, so many of them, touched him, prodded him. It was confusion to the nth degree, and the only reason Max was not losing it now was because his adult mind understood what had happened.

It didn't make a difference. He was scared. When the tube to help him breath entered his throat, Max's gag reflex took over.

Sitting on the floor, he tried to throw up. Unlike his six-year old self, he was not being sedated now. He couldn't breathe. He couldn't get away. Everything hurt, everything was horrible out here. He needed back!

"Max? Max?!"

He was hyperventilating, and he didn't care. He needed air more than he needed logic, and he was going to get it one way or another.

"Hey! HEY! Snap out of it!" Alex grabbed him by the shoulder. Cold broke through Max's skin. He turned feral eyes on his captor, and without even extending his hand he sent Alex flying half way the lab.

"MAX!" Parker yelled. "IT'S OVER! IT'S NOT YOU!"

But it was him. It had been. Parker kept talking and he couldn't follow. He didn't need to see more videos to recall what it had been like those days. He had felt so alone, so vulnerable… and Frank and Maggs…

A phone was showed in his face. His phone. And it was showing an incoming call. Max blinked.

"They're calling you!" Parker said with urgency, trying to shake him awake without touching him. Behind her, Whitman sat with a perplexed look.

Max grabbed the phone on automatic. "Evans," he answered, closing his eyes and leaning his head against the wall. Frank's voice came loud and clear.

"Where are you?"

"At—" Starbucks? He wildly looked for the clock on the wall. It was past midnight. "Still at Starbucks, something came up," he said dismissively. "I'm on my way there."

"You bet you are. Briefing starts in an hour, so you better be in here."

Frank hung up. Max stood up. A briefing at 1:00 a.m. meant he was going to be on a plane to somewhere in the middle of nowhere by 5:00 a.m. So much for revelations.

Nausea returned with a vengeance as he attempted to stand.

"Are you okay?" Parker asked, while Alex joined Liz, his eyes weary.

"I'm sorry… I was… I usually don't lose control that way," he said as Alex gave him a hand to stand up.

"Good to know. That was… that was pretty intense," Alex said, looking back at the paused video, which was thankfully showing an out of focus image of the general chaos that his birth had been. "Are you okay?"

"I will be. They want me back at the base. I—I probably won't be able to come back for a few nights."

"What do you want me to tell John?" Liz asked.

"Stay away from him, both of you. This hardly proves anything."

"That's gonna be hard to do," Alex said, sitting in front of his computer. "Since right now he's Liz's boss and my partner."

"Find a way. Take extended leave. Do something. I'll contact you when I'm back, okay? Don't dig any further."

He turned around and went through the door. His heart jammed in his chest. He had absolutely no idea if this was going to be the last time he walked through this hall. And no idea if he wanted to keep watching.
"There's addiction, and there's Roswell!"

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Re: Of Journals & Journeys (AU M/L, YTEEN) Ch. 24 Pg 13 - 12

Post by Misha » Thu Dec 18, 2014 9:14 pm

Back! Though I gotta be honest here, I'm running out of polished chapters, and the last few haven't been betaed :shock: If you do see something off with the grammar, let me know!

On an unrelated note, I keep listening to Distance by Christina Perri, and it kinda, sorta, maybe describes Liz and Max's relationship in this story... 8)




July 11th, 2011 – Day 1732 and counting


It's not unusual for me to come "home" from my missions alone. It allows me time to decompress… To rearrange my thoughts and be okay with carrying out my orders, being them to spy, steal, destroy, or kill.

For the millionth time, I tell myself this won't last long. I'm almost at the end. It's been five days since I saw those videos, and part of me wants to believe John is out there just to help me out. It's a part of me that is growing every day…

I park on my usual spot just to realize that Maggs' car is also parked on her usual spot. I know there's trouble. I wasn't off when I told Parker that I wouldn't be coming for a few nights, but maybe I should have added a couple of weeks.

There's only one reason for Maggs to be here. And it always involves me under a lot of stress, so buried in physical tests I'd wish I were plotting someone else's demise.



Chapter Twenty-Five
Summer Time



"I just got wind of this two hours ago," Frank said as he paced back and forth, while Maggs sipped her coffee and Max felt like turning around, getting his jeep, and disappear—drugs be damned. "Summers will be here at 6:00 a.m. with a new battery of tests he says will get you further."

Leave it to Frank's extended grapevine to tell him when trouble was coming. Sure, Summers had tight schedules to coordinate with Max's very tight schedules, so surprise visits were… nonexistent. That Summers had decided to just pop out of nowhere was a matter of concern.

You are this close to leaving, just play along, he told himself as Frank told him pretty much the same thing: "if you follow his instructions, chances are he'll get tired to wait for you to magically produce a new trick."

As I said, play along.

"Why does Summers think Max can do something else is beyond me," Maggs said with exasperation. "He knows he has to submit any tests to us first, and we get the final word on allowing them to go through."

Frank nodded. Max watched them debating their joint strategy, as they usually did whenever Summers was scheduled, or anything major was about to happen in his life.

Like being born.

They lied to me. They have lied to me since the moment I came out of that pod. So why were they fighting for him? Why did they despise Summers as much as he did? Were they the enemy or not?

It won't matter once I'm out.

He fervently hoped it wouldn't.

"Well, whatever he's thinking, he has another thought coming," Frank said, stopping. "We can go ahead and re-schedule Max's six month evaluation."

"You think Summers won't care to reschedule our reschedule?" Maggs interrupted, going for another cup of coffee. She was addicted to it the same way Max was addicted to checking on Parker. "What kind of strings he must have pulled to land on us like this…?"

"At least we can win a day or two to regroup."

"Why don't we just give in?" Max asked, for the first time getting a say on his own future. Frank and Maggs looked at him as if he'd said he was pregnant. "I mean, he always wins. You might delay it, you might change some of his tests, but he always wins. This way at least he'll leave sooner rather than later."

"Because we're giving him power," Maggs answered firmly, her coffee forgotten on the table. "Is no secret to you that Summers thinks we are too soft on you, and that you should be accomplishing more. When Frank and I run interference, it isn't because we think we can spare you, though we certainly try. It is so he knows he can't barge in and use you."

Funny, it felt as if everyone wanted to use him these days.

He didn't sleep much that night. He hadn't been for the past weeks, and although his powers fixed the dark circles under his eyes, his concentration was off. And an off concentration meant his flashes started to multiply like bunnies.

The bright side about having seen Parker not a week ago was that he hadn't gotten any ill flashes from her. Or actually, any flashes at all. He'd been too nervous to get them. Too anxious about her having rattled him out that he had forgotten all about getting a flash, and had started thinking about just getting out of the base.

Just like Frank had promised, someone knocked on his door before 6:30 a.m. The request to get ready and come out had not really been a request, but an order. The messenger hadn't been from around there, either, so it was obvious that Summers hadn't come alone.

Great, just great. Audiences didn't make him nervous, but they made him feel self-conscious. Yes, he was different, yes, he was special. And yes, he could do nice tricks. But the stares that he would invariable get from those new to his powers were unnerving.

Haunting.

It didn't matter. Before the clock had hit 7:00 a.m., Max stood in front of Summers, who looked at him with a rather predatory eye.

Don't flinch. Don't flinch. Don't even think about flinching…

"Sorry for the early rise, Max. But I think I might have some good ideas of how to spend your morning."

Summers's smile barely qualified as such. Don't flinch, Don't— He flinched, and covered it with a cough.

"You're not coming down with something, are you?" Summers said, standing up, taking a folder with several papers inside.

Max shook his head. He'd never gotten sick in his life. He'd gotten pain, and had felt nauseous and dizzy from drugs and tests. But a flu? A run of the mill cold? Those were as alien to him as… well, they were just alien. Things he read about that he never got to experience, like vacation time, and a drug-free life.

Unlike all the other times, Summers didn't explain what the tests were about. He didn't even introduce his two aids. Worse, Frank and Maggs were nowhere to be found.

The next twenty minutes were business as usual. He got undressed, put on some pants, and let them stick as many electrodes to his body as they wished. Soon, the hum of monitors joined their quiet task. He was used to hearing his heartbeat going up as he raced or exerted himself, and he was used to hear it going slow if he was coming down and relaxing. That usually involved Maggs, and with her out of the picture, so was a quiet morning.

His heartrate leveled out at 72 bpm, and he took a deep breath. Whatever was going to happen, it was going to happen soon.

"It's been brought to our attention that you have been a bit… distracted," Summers started, getting his folder open. Max's heartrate started to raise, and Max hastily concentrated on getting it down. Lying to polygraphs had been part of his training ages ago, and this was no different than that. Just a big, happy lie detector, he thought as he looked straight at Summers as the man stood up, the folder on his hand.

"Why do you think it happens?" he asked off handily. Max swallowed for a moment, his eyes never wandering off Summers's.

"I've been in a lot more missions lately. I tried to deal with them, but it's hard sometimes… if I don't get out much, I get a bit angsty."

"Is that so?" Summers asked, leaning on the examination table in front of Max.

"Distractions can be dangerous," he sneered a moment later. "What's so interesting about Starbucks?"

He couldn't stop the monitors from picking his jump in cardiac rhythm. He willed it back hastily, but the damage had already been done.

"What does it have to do with training?" Max asked, trying to sound curios and confused.

"Why Starbucks?" Summers repeated, like a dog that wouldn't let his bone go.

"It's near, it's cheap, and people mingle. I don't stand out, I don't spend much, and I don't go far. It was the logical destination."

"Hm…" Summers said. He barely inclined his head once, indicating the aid behind Max to do something. And that something was to heavily place his hand on Max's shoulder.

The flash came instantly. And so did his bio-readings, the monitors picking up his reaction.

"What did you see?" Summers asked in a deadly tone. Max barely heard him, as an image of the aid as an eight-year old almost drowning on a pool passed through his mind. He coughed on reflex, shaking his head once to dispel the sensation.

"I—" Nothing was not an option. The monitors had picked the changes in his body. And Summers knew.

I don't care what you did with yours!


Frank's words echoed in his mind. Summers had trained John, or at the very least, had supervised him.

"I don't—"

Distractions… how had Summers learned about his distractions? Starbucks was actually an easy one: he reported about it all the time. He came back to the base with a cup all the time. Had he gotten careless? Had John rattled him out?

"I don't know…" he finally admitted, a compromise between how much he had mastered his power and how much Summers wanted to know.

"Since when are you getting them? The images?"

"About… I don't know, maybe three weeks?"

"Try harder," Summers intoned, leaning so close to Max, that Max almost backed off. Almost.

"I don't know. At first I didn't know they were happening. They have been keeping me awake for some time now. It's hard to sleep… my attention has been… off."

"And you failed to report that to Frank because…?"

This time, he couldn't will the monitors to show his heartbeat hadn't increased. Lying was one thing. Lying at this level, under Summers steely eyes, was plain impossible.

"I… I was waiting to understand it."

"Well, what do you know? That's exactly what I want."

This was his worst nightmare: a new power, Summers, and no way out.

And it was only starting.
"There's addiction, and there's Roswell!"

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Re: Of Journals & Journeys (AU M/L, YTEEN) Ch. 25 Pg 14 - 12

Post by Misha » Fri Dec 19, 2014 9:27 pm

Thank you! Reviews are like cookies for my Muse, and she loooooves you! :mrgreen:

begonia, I think the short answer is, because rebelling would kill Max. Factor in the weekly drug he can't live without, and add that they wouldn't put up with it. The long answer has long paragraphs dedicated to how this is the only life he knows, the only place he calls home, and how for the longest time he actually felt that he belonged there. And let's not forget that this story starts with his first open step into rebellion: contacting Liz 8) So he's getting there, just in a slow, stealthy timeline :wink:



Journal entry #14, July 13th, 2011

You know how they say that ignorance is bliss? They might be onto something. Ever since I learned the truth about Max Evans, my nights seem longer, and my sleep-time shorter.

Even getting to know his last name seems like a victory.

I don't kid myself. My life will be forever marked by a "before" and "after" Max. Maybe I'll never find the drug, or how to get him off it. Maybe I'll never see him again on his doorframe. But at least I know that somehow, I helped Max found the only other person out there who seems to care about him.

If only John hadn't disappeared along with Max.



Chapter Twenty-Six
Allies



"Liz, are you even listening to what I'm saying?" Alex said in exasperation, his bright blue eyes pleading with her. "Why are we even here?!"

Here being the lab, and not running through airports to reach the other side of the world. Since Max had left, Alex had become her shadow. Her talkative shadow, that is. Good grief, and she thought Maria was bad when she was babbling!

"We are here because Max needs to see the rest of it," Liz said, referring to the USB that she was still taking everywhere except the shower.

"Liz, I know I've said this a thousand times—"

"—a million—"

"—but you're dealing with aliens!"

"Alex—"

"God! I shook John's hand! I've been talking to him for months! I'm—I'm—I'm hyperventilating…" he said, half panting, half horrified. "We're dealing with aliens!" he repeated, finally sitting down on the stool in front of her, his eyes a bit glazy. "We can't keep doing this…"

She loved Alex like a brother, but he could be so blind sometimes.

"Doing this? You mean, dealing with aliens? Alex, I'm dealing with a man who was cheated out of life! You saw the videos!" she said angrily, pointing out at his open laptop. "You saw what they did to him! What they are probably making him do right now! They don't even see him as a person…" she whispered, unconsciously hugging herself.

They had watched all twenty-seven videos. There was no way Alex would have stopped, and honestly, neither could she. She'd told herself that there might be something related to the drug she could use—and she'd been right—but deep down she'd also wanted to know the secrets Max would never tell her. Try to understand him better.

"What do you think they'll do to you if they find out how much you know?"

"Alex. I know you're worried. I know that what you're saying makes sense. But… you never saw him coming back so tired he could barely stand. He never asked for your help, he asked mine. I'm—I'm sorry, I just can't leave him."

"Great… That's just great. You know I won't leave this place until you hear reason and—"

"Max is not coming back," John's voice cut through Alex's pleads as sharp as a samurai sword. Liz felt her heart sink so fast, she didn't even have time to be relived John was back, standing on Max's doorframe.

"What do you mean he's not coming back?" she asked, her voice sounding high pitched.

"He… They caught him using a new power. One he'll spend months trying to master under the watchful eye of one Dr. Summers. He'll be lucky if he sees the light of day before six months go by. He won't risk coming back here after that."

In this mood, with that intensity in his eyes and the black cloud over his head, John was a dead ringer for Max.

"They—they wouldn't…" Alex started, standing between John and herself. "I mean, they won't hurt him, right?"

"Depends on your definition of hurt," John said, walking towards them. "I take it you saw the videos?"

Alex nodded slowly. Liz sat down, closing her eyes. "Max only got to watch three. He was sick after the last one. I mean, literally sick."

Something must have crossed John's face, because Alex quietly said, "the one where they took him out of the pod…?"

"Fun memories," John said, with no trace of joy. "You said the last time that the drug they used on me was different than the one they're using on Max. Have you narrowed it down?"

Liz stood up, standing beside Alex. "I'm on the final stretch. I don't know how long it would take me to have a counter-drug. It might be six months for all I know."

"No, that's good. What do you need to finish it?"

Liz's eyes went wide. "Honestly? I need Max. Here. As in days, not his twenty-minute visits, but we both know that's out of the question."

"How many days?"

His insistence was convincing enough. "Three, maybe four. He needs to run the trial, I need to see what happens. The problem is, he'll be at the base if something happens."

"Maybe, maybe not… Leave that problem to me, you work on the drug."

What kind of power was John going to use to achieve that? Time travel?

On video #5, the doctors had gone into detail about Max's telekinetic abilities at the tender age of nine. He had been meticulously recorded and every conceivable bio-data recorded. His limit back then had been sixty pounds, pretty much his own weight.

On video #9, the doctors were showing the scans of Max's brain activity, going into detail about what exercises Max had been going through when the images had been processed. It sounded a lot like Max had gone from his own weight to being able to lift an entire car. Two tons and some change, before he had passed out.

"John, what are you going to do?"

"Whatever it takes."

On video #8, an eighteen-year old Max aimed his gun at a target, and fired repeatedly. The recoiled on his wrist and arm was all the movement in his posture. All 8 rounds found their mark at 100%. And that had been only the beginning, while whoever was narrating it went on and on about how Max needed to master his skills in the event the use of his special abilities was compromised.

Max had been taught to kill before he was even legal to enter a bar. The logical part of her brain told her that it described every single enlisted man and woman between 18 and 21. Somehow, she couldn't even begin to imagine what it had done to Max. She just couldn't.

"We have to get him out," John said with a frustrated sigh. "But it wasn't easy on my time and I don’t want to think how hard things are going to be now. Especially locked on that place, with everyone's eyes on him."

"Woa, woa, woa," Alex said, his shoulders squaring. "We cannot just go against the US government and tell them to hand their alien-human hybrid to us. Preferable in one piece." He winced as he said that.

"I think we'll be a bit more subtle about it, Whitman," John said with a pointed look. In all the commotion and between the anxiety and the waiting, Liz had forgotten that Alex actually knew John way better than she did.

"Subtle how? We'll sneak him out of the window?"

"No," John said thoughtfully, "We won't sneak him out at all…"
"There's addiction, and there's Roswell!"

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Re: Of Journals & Journeys (AU M/L, YTEEN) Ch. 26 Pg 14 - 12

Post by Misha » Sat Dec 20, 2014 11:13 pm

Hey there! I think I have you girls covered till Christmas :mrgreen: Feedback is a great motivator 8)

dreamon, in the real Roswell timeline, John would be Zan -from the dupes in New York. Why is he much older is a tale for another chapter, one that won't take long for you to read :wink:




July 15th, 2011 – Day 1736 and counting

It seems an eternity has passed between Summer's predatory gaze, and Maggs's resigned eyes looking down at me.

She won't touch me. She won't risk me getting more unwanted flashes, but I miss her comforting hands dearly. I miss human contact. I miss going out. Hell, I even miss going out to kill some target who has done unspeakable things to this nation or however it is they justify it.

Not for the first time, I realize that I hate my life.



Chapter Twenty-Seven
Untouched



"You should have said something," Frank said in a low voice as he prepared the syringe, while Max's hand shook with uncontrollable tremors. His last fix had been three days ago, but with so much "stimulation", with his powers going high wire and his stress levels going through the roof, the once-a-week routine did not apply.

He needed that drug now.

"I know…" Max whispered, his eyes following the syringe with the same attention that Summers had followed the lines on his EEG for the past 72 hours.

"Why did you think you couldn't?" Maggs asked, her eyes roaming his face for an answer that Max would not let her see. Gone were the years where he had trusted her explicitly. Gone were so many things.

"I didn't want to worry you," the explanation came. He had been lying for months now, sure, but the fact that he knew how much and for how long they had been lying to him made telling half-truths the more easier.

"Max. You thought that developing a new power would worry us?" Frank moved closer and didn't even have to ask. Max extended his arm with hopeful eyes. He was one second away from salivating.

"I was worried about Summers finding out." And boy, was that the truth. The honest-to-God truth of it all.

"For all the good it did," Maggs said with a stern face. He had rarely seen her angry. He wished he didn't care. "He came to us at 6:00 a.m. proclaiming you had been withholding information about you. We laughed. We laughed! Do you even understand that? The power you gave him over you?"

The power he took from you over me?

"I'm sorry…" he whispered, feeling the needle going in, feeling his body relaxing as his blood stream took that wretched thing into his cells. Into his brain.

"We told him we were so sure that wasn't true that he could go right ahead and ask you. We wouldn't interfere."

This time, Max flinched. It was one thing to know they had lied to him but cared about him, and another that he had indirectly aided Summers to push him into this hell.

"He can't touch you today. Not while the drug is so fresh in your system and you look like hell," Maggs said firmly, her eyes turning to the glass behind her. "He accelerated your body's need for it, now he has to pay."

Funny, it feels like the only one who's paying here is me. All the time.

"That's a relief…"

Summers had known just enough about how flashes worked. John must have been having them at some point. Who knew? Who cared? Summers had him now and there was nowhere to hide, much less to run.

Adrenaline triggered flashes. Not all the time, but it was a key component, along with touching an object or a person with his bare skin—usually his hands. Since he couldn't will them to happen, an event had to be encouraged, and that meant getting his heart pumping.

Easiest way to do that was exercise. Max had run miles upon miles on the threadmill, while various objects were placed at the back of his hands. That had given them mild results. Barely enough to get a baseline.

So Summers started to get creative. They were now using low charged electroshocks. They didn't hurt him, exactly, but were enough to keep Max on alert and his adrenaline running. Enough to improve his flash rates.

He lied. He lied every time they asked what had he seen and instead had given them vague answers. Maybe he'd picked a color. Maybe a detail here and there. In reality, he was getting bombarded with information that his brain could not process fast enough. He would get a flash and then recall the last before that one. In one hour, he could record eighteen different events, all loading and pilling up at the back of his head. Details that he had not consciously picked started to blend with similar other flashes. He was getting an overload of information, and a monster headache to go with it.

He was so sensitive to getting flashes right now, he didn't dare to touch anything or anyone. Not until he could get a grip on himself.

For the first time in his life, he was thankful for that drug. For the respite it was giving him. Since Summers had taken over his life three days ago, nothing had made sense but getting out of the testing with his secrets intact. Now he could think straight. And his very first thought was to get to Parker.

He pushed it down. Thoughts like that were likely to get him kill, or get her killed. Not to mention that knowing John was out there was a huge time-bomb as well.

It was scary how many times since he'd found about his "older brother" Max had been tempted to ask about him. About the others. Eight pods, that was what the videos had said. What if there had been more? The videos implied he and John where the only surviving ones, but was it true?

What reason would those people have to lie? The thought was depressing. He'd lost six brothers and sisters he'd never known about. He missed the idea of them, but he was glad at least they had been spared this life.

Dreams haunted him. About what was on the other twenty-four videos he had not seen. About John coming into his room with a smirk, telling him all along it had been a trap. About Parker leaving the lab.

Summers was not going to let him go, not in the foreseeable future. How much did John know about him? How long would Parker wait?

How long could Max endure?
Last edited by Misha on Wed Dec 24, 2014 4:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Of Journals & Journeys (AU M/L, YTEEN) Ch. 27 Pg 15 - 12

Post by Misha » Sun Dec 21, 2014 3:14 pm

Hey!! Here are some needed answers about the past :mrgreen:

Thank you all for reading and especially to those reviewing. You have no idea how much reading your thoughts makes me writer better and faster :D




Journal entry #15, July 19th, 2011


Last year, Maria was pushing me to have a life out of the lab. Make new friends, go out, have an adventure.

As I prepare Max's syringes and listen to John go over his plans with Alex, I smile. I don't think Maria had this in mind, but I suddenly feel like I can take on the world.

I finally feel like I'm not a small-town girl anymore.



Chapter Twenty-Eight
In the beginning



"I knew chances were Max would die before they took him out of the pod," John explained, forgetting for a moment the pizza in front of him. Alex had gained a grip on things over late nights and take-out, a fact that Liz thanked to her lucky stars. Without Alex on board, getting Max out was going to be a whole lot more difficult.

"No other survived?" she asked. The videos had implied it, but maybe—

"All the others died," he said, a haunted look in his eyes. Whatever John was remembering, Liz knew it wasn't pleasant. "I planned my escape carefully around that day, Max's 'birthday'. Everyone was going to be busy with him, even if he died… And yet I heard… the last official thing I heard was that he had survived. It was too late, I had to go right that moment or face the consequences of a failed escape attempt. I never forgot about him, not one day in these past twenty-two years."

Alex swallowed hard. The thing about Alex was that once his loyalty was won over, he really stuck to his friends. Maybe he didn't think of John and Max as their friends, but they were Liz's friends, and that was enough for now. Plus, his curiosity was getting the best of him.

"Would they really hurt him?" Alex asked. Liz's appetite dwindled the more they talked about it.

"It's not… nice, but it's not a torture chamber. Since we're unique and all, they don't want us dead. The problem is how can they manage to understand what we do if they don't keep pushing us? They're careful. After all, they can't replace us."

Video #17 had detailed how reproductive incompatible Max and John were. Their hybridization did not seem to have rendered them infertile, but their genetics were different enough that offspring were unviable. The thought of someone taking Max's children away to do to them what they were doing to him was nauseating. She lost all appetite at that memory.

John blinked, apparently getting back to the here and now. "It was so long ago, and I still feel like I was there last week. So much has changed," he added, absently touching his wedding band. The wife Max had insisted was not real, and yet the fondness in John's eyes could not be feigned.

"I still can't believe the crash was real," Alex said, getting back to his pizza. He stared at John as he always did when he remembered John was not entirely from around here. John found it funny, for some reason. She doubted very much Max would remotely approve.

"And let's not forget, our honest-to-God alien powers," John supplied with a grin, waving his hand over his pizza, heating it up. "Half-alien, anyway," he added as an afterthought. "At least they don't know everything Max can do, because Max doesn't know himself. And we do have some nifty tricks under our sleeves."

"The videos…" Liz started, her curiosity gaining the best of her. John looked up at her as he bit into his pizza. "They didn't go into detail about the crash… Not really…"

He chewed thoughtfully for a few moments. "It was the Roswell crash," he declared. He seemed to get a kick that they were from there. How small this world is, he'd said with his infectious grin. "All the crew was dead before the US military got to them. The only things alive inside the ship were eight pods. I didn't remember emerging from one until I saw the pods when I was thirteen. They were hoping I could tell them anything about them, I guess. In any case, it was an eye opener for me. Max was the only one left by that point."

"They told you everything?" Liz asked, astonished.

"Oh, they did, at least everything they had. We're smart, they wanted to see if I could figure it out. I'm guessing that my leaving made them change tactics. They didn't tell Max any of this, did they?"

Liz shook her head. "Not the alien part, I don't think so. Max wasn't exactly spelling out his secrets to me, but he was intrigued when I told him."

He didn't know anything, really, Liz wanted to say. All Max seemed to care about his past was everything he'd been told. It made sense, really. All he wanted was a future.

"They were eight in total… they were all you? Like Max and you?" Alex asked. It was so strange to be asking these questions and having John so openly answering them. For the past days all they had been doing was hacking into Max's files and Summer's files, while planning the best way to get him out.

John shook his head. "Four girls, four boys… We grew up inside the pods you saw in the videos. When we arrived, we resembled six-month human fetuses. They took out the first one about two months after the crash, a pod that had been damaged during the landing. They had finished discovering the wonders of the four full-fledged aliens who'd died. We were next."

"I'm so sorry," Liz whispered. Had they been their parents? Everyone who was like Max, everyone who had any answers… they were all gone except for John.

"That's okay," John said with half a smile. "We are human, for the most part, you know? Whoever these aliens were, I don't think we were related."

As much as John tried to make light of things, Alex and Liz couldn't stop feeling awful for the whole thing. John sighed, and then chuckled.

"I better finish telling the story, I guess… the more you know, the more you can tell Max in case I'm not around when you see him next."

He took a sip of his Cherry Coke, and Liz wondered how many things he shared with Max. Her eyes went of their own accord to the doorframe as John started again.

"They discovered we were hybrids with that first subject, a girl. Three years later, they decided they wanted to crack another pod open. This time, one of the boys. By that point, we were viable fetuses for human standards. We weighted twelve pounds by then. Frankly, they were tired of waiting for us to be ready. We looked like we would make it."

"Except he didn't…" Alex said, absently chewing on his pizza.

"No, but they learned more from this subject and his pod. They tried again with another girl in 67'. They discovered that it was a lung problem. It's a flaw in our design, actually. We lack the lung capacity to sustain us outside our pods."

"Maybe you weren't design to be in this atmosphere," Liz theorized, thinking fast. John shrugged, finishing the last of his pizza.

"Whatever the cause is, when they went for the third girl, they knew what to expect. She didn't survive more than a few hours."

All of them… What is this going to do to you, Max?

"That's what the video was about," Alex said, his eyebrows going to his hairline. "I mean, where Max was… being… born—that's what they did. They hooked him to a respirator right away."

"That's how it was for you?" Liz asked.

John nodded, reaching for the tabasco sauce in the middle of their impromptu dining table. It was half empty and he had been the only one pouring it on his food all week long. He doused his newly acquired slice of peperoni and mushroom liberally. "Trust me, my hatching wasn't any easier… or fun. At least they had practice with me by the time they reached Max. I spent one month in intensive care. They realized that by using a neonatal drug to expand our lungs, they could potentially save me."

Of course, not even being born would be easy for you, uh?

"What number were you? Fifth?"

"No, I was the sixth. They went with another approach with the fifth hybrid, the last girl. They were trying to figure out a way to improve our vitals inside the pod. The fluid got contaminated… it wasn't pretty." John stopped, his eyes getting unfocused again. "I saw the pictures, all of them. And I saw Max, inside that pod." He blinked, getting back to reality and to his pizza. "Anyway, in '74, I was their first success. Champagne and high-fives and congratulations." John toasted with his Cherry Coke, and arched an eyebrow when Liz and Alex didn't follow. "I'm really glad they got it right, you know? I wouldn't be here otherwise."

Liz exchanged a glance with Alex, and they both reached with their own beverages in an awkward toast.

"That's better," John said, grinning. "I hadn't thought about this in a long time. I'm feeling old…" he joked, his eyes returning to his wedding band for a moment. "Where was I? Oh, right, they already had me, and they had two boys left. Chances where, now that they knew how to do it, they would both live. They were wrong."

Rain started falling outside, and for one moment Liz wondered if John could control the weather as well. The things he could do were absolutely fascinating, and she wouldn't put it past him to be able to call a little rain in.

"What happened to the seventh?" Alex asked quietly.

John took a deep breath. "They never really explained that to me. Once I was out of the pod I started maturing as any other 6 year-old. Since the other two subjects were safe and sound in their pods, they didn't want to push their luck, and instead concentrated their sights on me."

"I bet you showing all those powers intrigued them," Liz said, frowning. How old had John been when he had exhibited his first paranormal activity?

"It made them hungry," he corrected her. "By 1982, they were ready to take their chances with the next boy. I was fourteen, and showing so much potential, they wanted another one ASAP. So they went for the seventh. He never gained consciousness. They kept him in some sort of comma until he just gave up. They didn't let me see him, but he wasn't like us. I mean, the same way Max and I are clones of each other."

Liz frowned. "You mean… wait, what do you mean?"

"We were two sets of four. There were two of each."

Liz blinked, coming up blank with any idea of the reason behind that.

"After that, they just stopped trying to get Max out. They wanted to see how it was supposed to work, what the aliens were trying to do. How long were we supposed to be in those pods, instead of cutting him out. You saw the video for that one. The oxygen levels plummeted, and instead of waiting for Max to come out on his own, they intervene at the last possible moment."

"This thing just gets weirder," Alex said heartfelt. "I mean, what possible use would it be to have you emerged as six years old?"

"We'll never know," John said, taking the last sip of his Coke. "We might have been a failed experiment for all we know. Maybe something was missing from the crash. But as time passes, and life goes on, all that I really care is that we are here, we are alive. Nothing else matters." A beat. "Well, nothing but getting Max out, that is."
"There's addiction, and there's Roswell!"

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Misha
Addicted Roswellian
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Re: Of Journals & Journeys (AU M/L, YTEEN) Ch. 28 Pg 15 - 12

Post by Misha » Mon Dec 22, 2014 10:55 pm

Yay! The day's not over! Here's the update :mrgreen:



July 21st, 2011 – Day 1742 and counting


It's been ten days since Summers took over my life. I went from despair to denial to anger to resignation, and not necessarily in that order. He's going to be in my life for who knows how long, so I keep telling myself all I need to do is endure. Sooner or later, someone is going to need my talents more than Summers wants his answers, and I'll be shipped out to another mission. Yet I have no illusions: it might take a while.

I've been dreaming a lot these days, about a certain brunette, her hacker friend, and my other older self. If only dreams could come true.



Chapter Twenty-Nine
Coming Through



At first, Max had woken up every day with a sense that he was forgetting something and then he'd dismiss it. Summers had moved into a more aggressive exercise routine now that he had a better base-line, but Max was sure the electroshock therapy would make an appearance sometime soon. That or something else.

Like every single test in his life, he was expected to ace it. To get better at handling his newfound power. To be all he could be. If he didn't start showing improvements soon, then he risked Summers getting really creative about it.

The problem was that Max couldn't just suddenly be good at it. He couldn't condensed four months of his own practice into a few days in the lab. If Summers found out for how long he'd known he could do this, he would be digging his own figurative grave.

When Max woke up on the thirteenth day of his new life, he was sure he was missing something. By the time he reached his bed that night, every single muscle of his body ached, and the headache that split his head in two reminded him in no uncertain terms that he couldn't keep lying to Summers. He had to give the guy something before he decided the only way he was going to get answers was with a scalpel to his brain.

At this point, would that make any difference? He was too tired to answer himself. He fell asleep without even changing to pants.

"There you are!" a voice greeted him with relief. Max blinked. His head didn't hurt so much, but his body still felt heavy. Lying on his bed, all he could see was the ceiling. He couldn't move.

"If I had known dreamwalking you was going to be this hard, I would have started years ago," the voice was nice enough, but Max couldn't see anyone. He couldn't get up either.

"Don't fight it, or you're going to wake us up. Just, relax."

The last time he'd heard someone telling him to relax had been a lifetime ago. All Summers wanted was to keep him stressed out. Regardless, he tried. He was too tired to fight this, anyway.

John was there a second later. Max turned to look around, afraid someone was going to see him.

"Hey, it's okay. You're dreaming."

"What?"

"We've been having this conversation for the past eight nights," John said with a resigned sigh. "I've been trying to contact you through your dreams. I guess you must be pretty wiped out if I'm getting such a clear reception tonight."

"You're real?"

"Yes. Are they letting you go out?"

Real? He was real?

"Max?"

"How can you do this?"

"Practice. Motivation. We spent a lot of time separated with my wife, who would kill me if she knew what I'm trying to do. Now, Max, would they let you out of the base?"

"Summers wants a breakthrough. I'm not giving him any."

"Do it," John said in all seriousness. "Summers is always happy when he gets things going. It'll be easier to convince him to let you go for a couple of hours. We'll take it from there. And Max, please remember this time around."

When the alarm clock went off the next morning, Max opened his eyes and stared at the red numbers. He had a job to do.

Summers greeted him with an absent wave as he looked over the stats.

"I need a break," Max said, the aid behind him stopping in mid motion to get his jacket off as if Max had confessed he was going to escape.

"I need results," Summers said without looking up. "You get your breaks when your fix is needed," he stated, putting the charts down and looking icy eyes at him.

"Let me work this out on my own. Today, tomorrow. If I make good progress, then give the time out for a couple of days."

Summers arched an eyebrow, skeptic. "Look," Max tried again, "I'm just too worried about getting enough flashes I don't really pay attention to the quality of them. Maybe I can change that and earn my break at the same time."

This time, Summers contemplated the deal. In Max's mind, the plan was simple: if John really talked to him in his dreams, he would attempt contacting Max for the following two nights, and would learn if Max had been allowed to go out. On the other hand, if it had been only wishful thinking and no one was out there waiting for him, well… he could really use the time out of this place.

An eternity later, Summers nodded. "Okay, let's try it your way."
"There's addiction, and there's Roswell!"

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