The Man Who Didn't Belong (M/M,Mature)Ch 98 1/27/15 Complete

Finished Canon/Conventional Couple Fics. These stories pick up from events in the show. All complete stories from the main Canon/CC board will eventually be moved here.

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ArchAngel1973
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The Man Who Didn't Belong (M/M - Mature) Ch 80 - 7/15/12

Postby ArchAngel1973 » Sun Jul 15, 2012 4:42 pm

Crybaby001: Hi! Wow, that is a lot of reading in three days! We’re still working on this story… real life’s just been a pain lately so it’s been slow getting there.

Thank you so much for that compliment!

Timelord31: It’s gonna take a few parts, but we’ll get there.

Eva: Thanks, look for more questions!

Alien_Friend: Oh, that is so true! They face a harsh reality but they know they’re doing the right thing because it’s bigger than the two of them alone.

Very good possibilities.


Ending Two, Part 4 (or Part 80)

The road seemed to be endless as the tires ate up mile after mile of the blacktop that divided the desert. Inside the nondescript vehicle silence prevailed and weighed heavily upon its occupants. Neither of them said a word, lost in their own thoughts of the road that lay ahead of them. They each had their own path to follow and circumstances prevented them from taking either path together. Learning that after everything they had been through their paths were destined to part was a cruel twist of fate but one that could not be changed. Even if they were to be selfish, to take what time they could have together, the Granolith had already informed them that Maria would return to her universe regardless of her willingness to do so.

Maria brushed her hair back out of her face when the wind from the open window caught it, whipping it across her cheek. She used the movement as cover to wipe her eyes, catching the teardrops desperately clinging to her eyelashes in a losing battle. There was nothing to be said that hadn’t already been said the night before, something she was grateful for because she could hardly swallow past the lump in her throat.

They had come so far and now it was being taken away. He was being taken away from her for the second time in less than a year. She had fallen in love with him and against what had seemed to be insurmountable odds he had developed feelings for her too. It was just as hard to leave him as it was to leave her Michael. Maybe even harder because he was still alive in this universe. It was going to hurt so much to walk away from him and she wasn’t sure if it was a good or bad thing that she would remember her time with him. Would he remember her after his mission? No, she decided. Once he changed the timeline his future, what was his present right now, would happen differently and they would never meet like they had.

She turned her head to look at him, taking in the white-knuckled fist clenched on his thigh. His left hand was wrapped around the steering wheel in a stranglehold grip and his mouth was set in a grim line as he stared through the windshield. Her eyes slowly traveled down over his stubborn jaw, ghosting over his thinly compressed lips before sliding down over his chest and arms to settle on his fisted hand. She wanted so badly to touch him, to soothe the anger and hurt she knew he was feeling. He would admit to the anger but anything else he would deny. Her left hand rested on the seat, her fingernails picking at the thick seam that ran along the edge.

He was stubborn and he didn’t like being told what to do. He hated the Granolith, resented it for taking her from him and for assigning him a mission that he didn’t even want. He could go back in time, alter events, change all of their lives and have her in his life, but she knew it wouldn’t be the same. If she was right and he had no memory of their time together then he would have an honest chance of finding happiness with her counterpart. It would be different, she would be different, but if he allowed it to happen they could be happy together.

Her throat worked as she tried to gain control of her voice before speaking. “Promise me, Michael… that you’ll finish the mission and when you do finally find me…” she swallowed hard, unable to continue.

Michael was doing his best to keep his mind focused on what was coming when she suddenly broke the silence. He hadn’t been very successful; he had spent most of the time contemplating their last night together and wondering what would happen if he told the Granolith they weren’t following its mandate and she wasn’t going back. What could it really do if they defied its orders? Was it capable of making her disappear as she had suggested? Could he get her far enough away from the machine to disrupt its powers? It had to have some sort of power if it could just… zap her out of existence and send her back to her universe.

Beside him Maria had been quiet with the exception of the intermittent sounds of distress that she was trying so hard to hide. He had a feeling that was mostly for his benefit, certain that if she were alone she would most likely give her emotions free rein. Part of him was ready to take the risk; tell the Granolith to shove it, and take her as far away as they could get. The other part, the part that was duty-bound to follow this unwanted mission through to its conclusion knew that no single person was more important than the survival of an entire planet. Something inside of him railed at his ability to logically separate emotion from reason.

His left hand clamped down on the steering wheel when his chest tightened at the thought of losing her. For the first time in his life he knew what it felt like to have something he didn’t want to let go of. He had never gotten involved with any woman, had never understood why a man would willingly tie himself to one woman, and now that he was beginning to comprehend it she was slipping through his fingers. He didn’t want to let her go. He didn’t give a damn about the rest of the planet. It could go to hell for all he cared.

She had taught him more than he had ever wanted to know about love and because of that he didn’t want her to go back to a universe where she would be alone. Whether or not she had her friends was of little consequence. Without his counterpart there she would waste away. She would suffer two major losses in very little time and she would have no one to lean on, no one who would be there to help her deal with that loss. That feeling of pressure on his chest increased at the thought of her trying to deal with everything on her own.

Maria was a strong woman but she had been through hell after losing his counterpart. At least in that loss there was some finality. She hadn’t had the opportunity to completely accept it though. She’d had eight months to come to terms with her Michael’s death, but in so many ways she was just now going to be facing that reality. She had held out hope that his counterpart would be alive when she returned but the Granolith had destroyed that for her when it had informed her that her return to her universe didn’t mean the hybrid would be alive. But now, on top of dealing with accepting his death she would have to come to grips with losing him. It was too much to ask of anyone and it just notched up his anger at the otherworldly device.

He turned his head to look at her, taking his eyes off of the road and meeting her devastated gaze. She was trying hard to put on a brave face but he could see what this was doing to her. The Granolith, a device somehow connected to his race, was responsible for causing her pain and there was nothing he could really do about it. He dropped his gaze to her hand that was busy worrying the thick seam and he reached over, uncurling her fingers and sliding his through hers.

“You know what you’re askin’,” he said gruffly.

Maria nodded, nearly choking when she opened her mouth to speak. After taking a few moments to compose herself she tried again. “I know what I’m asking, Michael.”

“She won’t be you.” He shrugged his right shoulder. “I mean, she will be you, but…”

“No, I know what you mean.” She held his hand in her lap, the fingers of her free hand stroking over his knuckles as she forced the words out. “You’ll have the chance to save her and have a life that’ll be different, but you’ll have the opportunity to love and be loved.”

“She might not even like me,” he muttered.

Maria chuckled, the sound thick. “I’m sure there’ll be days when she can’t stand you, but she’ll love you with everything she has.”

“You can’t know that,” he denied.

“I do know that. It might be a different universe, but she’s me. You’re Michael and I’m Maria, it’s what’s meant to be.”

Michael stared at the road, his sharp gaze quickly locating the area where they would need to turn off to go to the Granolith. His mind automatically went back to his experience on the dreamplane and his meeting with his counterpart. “Doesn’t matter what universe it is, Michael Guerin is meant to fall in love with Maria DeLuca. That’s just how it works; the stonewall hasn’t been built that she can’t get past.” She couldn’t have any idea what her Michael had said to him but it was apparent that they both felt the same way.

“All I’m asking is for you to give her a chance, Michael. Give both of you a chance to be happy. I know you’re a soldier and I know you’re being asked to take on a phenomenal responsibility and it’ll change your life… You deserve to be loved and she’s,” she swallowed hard, “she’s the one who knows how to love you the way you need to be loved.”

He braked and took the turn, the truck bouncing over the uneven ground. His jaw clenched but he nodded sharply in response to her request though he didn’t know if he would be able to open himself up to another woman even if it was her. Or at least a version of her. H had no idea if he would even remember, unconsciously, to give that other Maria a chance. Would he somehow sense something familiar? Have some sort of flash to let him know? When he met that other Maria girl for the first time, would there be some kind of ingrained memory of what his Maria had asked?

Maria looked up when the rock formation loomed ahead and she could feel the tears leap to the surface once more. It was all happening too fast and nothing was going to stop it. Her heart thumped painfully slow in her chest as the tires ate up the distance too quickly and before long the truck was rolling to a stop at the base of the formation.

As they stood at the beginning of the path she felt everything inside of her rebel at taking that first step. She felt as if her feet were made of lead as she forced them to take one step after the other. Exhaustion and weariness colored her movements as she followed Michael and at one point her right foot caught on the exposed surface of a rock and she tripped. She was saved from hitting the ground when he turned and reached out to help her back up, taking her hand and keeping her as close as possible as they trekked the rest of the way to the hidden doorway.

They were silent as they entered the inner chamber, watching the Granolith as its color shifted to announce it was aware of their presence. “You have returned,” it rumbled. “You are prepared to go on with your journey, hybrid?”

“No,” Michael bit out angrily, “but it doesn’t matter, does it?”

Maria bit back the hysterical laughter that was trying to bubble up. It was such a Michael reaction and in spite of the weight of the moment she wanted to laugh. She didn’t dare though. She knew if she started laughing the tears would follow and she would turn into an emotional wreck. She wasn’t ready for this. She wasn’t ready to let him go again, to go back to her universe and leave him for another version of her that didn’t know him.

“By changing the past, you change the future. You’re changing my present. I’ll forget about Maria but she won’t forget about me. How fair is that?” he demanded. “Whoever or whatever created you obviously forgot to give you a conscience or a heart.” Listen to me, he thought with a mental shake of his head, talking about having a conscience and a heart. Damn, what had she done to him? “Save the world, destroy the girl. Have I got that right?”

“The human will be preserved in her universe as well as in yours,” the Granolith answered.

“Lotta fuckin’ good that’s gonna do either of us.”

The device shifted colors again and the humming lowered to a quiet drone in the background for several minutes. “You wish to remember?” it asked finally.

“Is that an option?” Michael questioned hesitantly. Did he want that? To know what he’d had and then lost?

“There is a way to preserve the memories.” The device pulsed as Michael approached it slowly. “In the wall beyond there is a device. There is no human word for it, however it will in essence record whatever you wish to remember.”

Michael jerked around when he heard a quiet hissing sound and he slowly approached the wall the Granolith had indicated. A panel slid into the wall, revealing a recessed area with a small device suspended inside. He reached out and wrapped his hand around it, lifting it out and holding it in his palm. “You’re tellin’ me this thing’s gonna record my memories?”

“When you are ready all that is necessary is for you to take the device in your hands and connect with it. Once the connection is established the device will scan your mind, automatically recording only those memories that you choose. You will be able to carry the device with you on your journey. You will begin to lose your memories as you succeed in changing the past but the device and any information contained within it is protected by the Granolith. Whatever is recorded will remain until such time as it is no longer needed.”

Michael pocketed the device and stepped back to look at the Granolith. “What happens now?”

The humming intensified and the color shifted to a midnight blue, the shade so dark that it appeared to be nearly black. “Now the human must return to her universe and you must begin your mission to save your planet.”

He swallowed hard as the moment of separation fell upon them. He didn’t want to let her go. “Give us a minute.”

The Granolith’s color faded to a calm green and the humming dropped to a quiet buzz that was barely discernible in deference to his order.

Michael rounded the Granolith and came to stand in front of Maria. “I’m not gonna bother askin’ if you’re ready for this. You’re getting screwed in this deal and – “

Maria reached up to cover his mouth. “It’s what we have to do. It’s the right thing.”

“Fuck the right thing. How is this right?”

“Michael…” she shook her head, her eyes locked on his and seeing the pain he wouldn’t verbalize. “We agreed that this was what we were gonna do.” Maria went back what felt like so many years ago to a time when Liz had told her about what she had sacrificed to save their Earth and its future. Now it was her turn to pay the price, and not even for her own future or Earth! Liz. God, she missed her so much. At lease she would have her back. She would have her best friend to help her survive this ‘saving the world business’ that came with falling in love with an alien from Antar.

His hands came up to caress her cheeks. “You’re gonna be alone. You’re goin’ back into a situation with no intel. You have no idea what’s happened while you’ve been gone. Things could be – “

Maria shook her head. “Don’t, Michael,” she begged desperately. “We have to do this.”

His hand slid over her cheek to cup her jaw and he tipped her head up. “I’m actually gonna miss you bitchin’ about everything and I’m gonna miss your cookin’. Damn, I’ve never known anyone who could cook like you do. I’m gonna miss havin’ company around the house and havin’ someone to watch a good movie with.” He leaned in and captured her mouth, his mobile lips drawing the kiss out as his fingers brushed over her face. “I’m gonna miss you,” he whispered raggedly when he pulled back.

The tears in her eyes spilled over at his admission and she threw her arms around his neck, pulling him close and holding him tightly. “I’m gonna miss you too.” She drew back to look into his face, memorizing his features. “I hope I don’t forget you. At least if I have the memories I have a part of you.” She rubbed her thumb over his bottom lip. “I love you, Michael,” she said quietly. She smiled through her tears as she looked up at him. “Let’s get this over with. There’s no reason to draw it out and make in any more painful than it already is.”

He watched her as she moved away and stepped up to the Granolith, calling out to it. He stood back, his eyes on her as her hand settled against the device and she told it she was ready. The tears on her face cut straight through him and he felt it like a physical blow when she was suddenly pulled into the Granolith. It took everything he had to stand back and let her go and it was only when she was safely ensconced within the device that he approached it, pressing his hand against it as the machine began to hum in earnest. His heart literally felt like it was being ripped from his chest as he looked up at her, certain she was taking it with him. “I love you,” he mouthed silently as their hands met on either side of the device.

He was thrown back when the machine emitted a powerful jolt and he covered his ears when the high-pitched whining became worse. He rolled over, propping himself up on his elbows with his forehead braced against the floor of the chamber. Silence suddenly fell over the chamber and he slowly lowered his hands, pushing himself up to look at the Granolith that was once more quietly humming. His gaze scanned over it as he stood and moved closer, feeling a hollow ache in his chest when he saw that Maria was gone.

Wordlessly he took the recording device from his pocket and held it in his palm, staring down at it as he allowed the connection to form. The connection allowed it to determine which memories he wished to retain and sometime later his eyes opened and he looked up at the alien device. He felt drained, exhausted, and only his promise to Maria kept him going as he followed its instructions and placed his hand against its surface. He barely had time to register that he was inside the Granolith before he was hit by a wave of dizziness and he felt himself blacking out.

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ArchAngel1973
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The Man Who Didn't Belong (M/M,Mature) Ch 81 - 11/5/12

Postby ArchAngel1973 » Mon Nov 05, 2012 8:47 pm

Ending Two, Part 5 (or Part 81)

The smell of rotting garbage was the first thing he became aware of as the sunlight pierced his closed eyelids. He lifted his right hand to shade his eyes before opening them. His first order of business was to make sure he was alone and then he took inventory of his limbs, making sure everything was working correctly. He grimaced as a warm breeze blew and the stench of garbage reached his nostrils again. He took a look at his surroundings and shook his head. He wasn’t sure where he was.

Brick walls rose on either side of him and as he sat up he realized he had been slumped against an old garbage dumpster. The ground beneath him was pitted and littered with gravel and debris he didn’t care to examine too closely. The ruts that dotted the narrow passage were half-filled with filthy water, grayish in color with bits and pieces of trash floating on the surface. It wasn’t the worst thing he had ever been subjected to but he hadn’t expected to be dumped off in some filthy back alley next to a dumpster full of garbage.

He knew Maria had landed in the Granolith chamber when she came to his universe and he hoped the damn thing had at least returned her to her own Granolith. If that piece of shit just had to play games with one of them he’d rather it was him. She was going to have enough to deal with as it was. His mind began to compartmentalize, pushing thoughts of her into a safe place to be taken out and dealt with later. He had a mission to complete and he couldn’t allow himself to be distracted with thoughts of her.

Michael stood up and checked his waistband at the small of his back, making sure his weapon was still there. He pulled his shirt down over the gun and shook his head at the stuff stuck to his clothes. He stank like a wino in a back alley and he desperately needed a shower and a clean set of clothes. He sure as hell couldn’t go looking for a couple of kids looking and smelling like this. Having to track down a pair of nine-year-olds was bad enough without having to deal with the Granolith’s demented sense of humor. He looked up at the sky to determine the time of day, knowing by the sun’s position in the sky that it was close to two o’clock.

People would be at work and their brats would be in school right now. No, wait… what time of year was it? As warm as it was for this time of day it had to be late summer. Kids would be on their summer break from school, which meant they’d be out making a nuisance of themselves. He walked to the end of the alley, avoiding the puddles and squinting against the sun. Damn, he wished he had his sunglasses! He peered around the edge of the building and his gaze was immediately drawn up to the left.

“No way to mistake that freak show,” he muttered, recognizing the Crashdown Café. He shook his head and scanned the street that was too busy for him to risk just stepping out into plain sight. He retraced his steps and walked to the other end of the alley, scaling the short wall at the end and turned his head left, then right, narrowing his eyes. It was another alley that ran behind the row of businesses along the main street. He dropped down on the other side and followed the wall down to the right, mentally running over the town’s setup when he was 15 years old.

He was pretty sure there had been a hotel about a quarter of a mile from where he had been dropped off so he headed in that direction. He was able to stay out of sight as he made his way to the hotel, sneaking through a back entrance and taking the stairs to the second floor. He checked the locks on the doors, snorting under his breath when he saw they were just standard deadbolts. “So easy to pick,” he muttered. He located an empty room near the end of the building that faced the parking lot, giving him an easy out if he needed it. Next, he went in search of clothes, and after breaking into several rooms finally found a suitable pair of pants and a shirt.

After a shower he felt more like himself. Dressed in the cargo pants and tee shirt he had acquired he sat on the end of the bed and turned the television on. He pulled his socks on and then his boots, lacing them up while he watched the local news and browsed through the newspaper he had taken from one of the rooms. His dog tags swung freely when he leaned forward, elbows braced on his knees as he scanned the headlines for anything of interest. Beyond determining the date nothing stood out to catch his attention and after a few minutes he folded it over and tossed it on the bed. He leaned over to snatch the telephone book off of the nightstand and flipped it open, scanning down the E section.

“Evans, Evans, Evans,” he mumbled, trying to remember what Maria had said their parents’ first names were. Maybe she hadn’t said because none of the names stood out. She had mentioned something about one or both of them being lawyers though, he remembered as he flipped to the yellow pages to search through the legal section for an Evans. He turned to look at the date on the newspaper again, frowning at it. Why was the date bothering him? There was something about it that was tugging at the back of his mind. He rubbed his eyes and went back to his search. He finally located one that he was able to cross-reference with a residential address and he memorized it before putting the phone book back.

Michael sighed and fell back on the bed, suddenly feeling tired. He thought about this insane trip through the Granolith and decided he felt like an actor in a really bad B movie. Time traveling to save the world, he snorted. It was completely insane. Thinking about the Granolith led to thinking about Maria and he felt a sudden pain deep in his chest at the knowledge that he would never see her again. At least not his version of Maria DeLuca. Damn it, he couldn’t afford to think about her. He shook his head to clear it and jumped up, deciding the best way to ignore those thoughts was to get moving.

He left the room the way he had found it, without a single trace of evidence that he had ever been there. He knew the money in his pockets wouldn’t be in circulation yet so he made a couple more stops to lift enough cash to get him moving. He pocketed the money and stopped at a fast food place next to a gas station to grab something to eat and browse through the street map he had picked up. He watched a man a couple of tables over get up to go get a refill for his coffee cup and his eyes landed on things left scattered around the table.

He slid on the confiscated sunglasses as he stepped out into the late afternoon sun, smirking to himself when he heard the ruckus inside as the guy accused a group of teenagers of stealing them. He shoved the map in one of the side pockets on the cargo pants and set off down the street, knowing exactly where he was going. Less than 20 minutes later he was leaning against a tree across the street from 6025 Murray Lane. His eyes roved over the exterior of the Evans home, taking in the perfectly manicured lawn, the well-maintained house, and the basketball hoop set up in the driveway.

“The perfect all-American family,” he murmured as he watched the activity in the neighborhood. It was no wonder Max and Isabel had grown up so sheltered.

His sharp gaze followed the mail carrier as she slowly made her way down the street, not even slowing down as she passed the Evans house. The yard sprinklers came on without any assistance, indicating they were on a timer, and since it was likely one or both parents would normally be home at that time of day to take care of that, he knew they were probably already on vacation. That damn Granolith obviously had no concept of time, he thought.

He would come back after dark, break into the house and do some investigating, find out where the family had gone on vacation. In the meantime he needed to find something to occupy his time because if he was seen skulking around the neighborhood someone would call the cops and that was one headache he didn’t need. He couldn’t just put a call in to Xavier if he got into trouble so it was best just to avoid local law enforcement. He scratched his chin as the date came back to mind, picking at his memory and trying to pull something out.

Whatever it was stubbornly remained just out of his grasp and he put it away as he carefully slipped out of the neighborhood. Just like when he was 15 years old there was nothing to do in this Godforsaken town. How many times had he come into town and gotten into trouble with that old bastard that passed for a sheriff? He had hated the way the guy had intimidated him when he was younger, staring at him through those stupid mirrored sunglasses, his right hand always resting on his holstered gun. He had hated that skinny moron and he was certain the guy had to be doing somebody to get into that job. Hansen’s head hadn’t been used for anything other than a hat rack. He sure as shit hadn’t… The significance of the date suddenly hit him and he started to run.

*****

Tom Gifford stared down the angry 15-year-old and waited for the explosion he knew was coming. He had been working with Michael Guerin for almost three years and while the last director had informed him that the boy was nothing more than a waste of time he hadn’t believed it. The previous director felt that the teenager was just a drain on the taxpayers’ money because he wasn’t going anywhere in life and he fully expected him to end up in the correctional system before he was an adult.

He had taken one look at the angry 12-year-old when he had taken over the position as director at the orphanage and he had seen the intelligence in the defiant eyes. The boy was streetwise, too smart for his own good, and he had seen enough of the ugly side of life that he wasn’t going to be easily reached. His type of intelligence was the kind that could put him on the wrong side of the law, the kind that could make him dangerous if it wasn’t channeled in the right direction.

For three years he had been working with Michael and the boy hadn’t made it easy. He had fought him every step of the way for the first year or so, had even pulled a knife on him at one point. But he had refused to throw the towel in because he knew the boy was worth saving. It had taken more than a year before he had gotten a single civil word out of the teenager and within minutes Michael had been cursing at him again. He wasn’t naïve and he didn’t believe that every kid could be saved no matter how much he wished it was true. Michael was an exception though; the boy was tough and he was raw, but he had heart. He would fight at the drop of a hat but he didn’t have a good track record.

Michael had made progress over the past three years, but getting his ass kicked on a regular basis wasn’t helping his attitude and it only made him more determined to take down the guys who tormented him all the time. Which was why the teenager was once again in the office, that defiant gaze burning into him, and the angry words just waiting to come tumbling out. His face was scratched up, his right eye already starting to swell up, and he was holding an ice pack against his bottom lip. It was split and bleeding but he wouldn’t show even a hint of the pain it was causing him.

“That dickhead called me a cocksucker!” he yelled finally. “No one’s gonna talk to me like that!”

“Michael, you can’t just let your anger get the best of you anytime someone pissed you off, boy. You think people are gonna stop pissing you off once you become an adult?”

“I don’t give a fuck. He comes at me again and I’ll bust one of his knees.”

Tom shook his head. “You think that’s gonna make you feel better?”

The teenager crossed his arms over his chest. “Yeah.” He shook his head. “Look, you said you were gonna teach me to fight so I wasn’t getting my ass kicked all the time and I ain’t seen it happen yet. He came in my room with one of the other guys and they double-teamed me.”

“Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why’d he come after you?”

“Why’re you takin’ his fuckin’ side?” he exploded as he paced around the room.

“It’s a simple question, Michael.”

On the other side of the door 25-year-old Michael Guerin felt his lips quirk as his younger self refused to answer. He had gotten that beating because he had interrupted that little dickhead when he had tried to force himself on Jenny Miller, another lifelong resident at the orphanage. It was probably one of the most selfless things he had done in his young life and at the time he’d had no idea what it would cost him. Unless he changed things now Tom Gifford would die on the exercise yard that night and if that happened, if he lost that link to humanity, he didn’t know how well the rest of this thing would work out. With that link shattered he didn’t believe he would allow himself to be convinced about this crazy story by a couple of kids.

He slipped away, leaving his younger self in Tom’s capable hands. The man had been tough and he hadn’t taken any shit from him or anyone else, but he had cared. Given the chance he knew the man would make a difference in his life. An even bigger one than he had made in his timeline.

*****

The sun was burning brightly, its scorching heat burning her skin. She coughed when she inhaled a lungful of the dry desert air, bringing with it fair amount of sandy particles. She pushed herself up on her hands and knees, her palms braced in the burning sand as she forced herself to stand. She looked around at the desert, feeling her heart sink when she realized she had no idea where she was.

Her heart fell to the soles of her feet as she reached up to cradle her head in her hands. Where was she? Why hadn’t she landed back in the Granolith chamber? Where was she supposed to go now? Without knowing where she was she could wander around the desert for days. If she even survived that long. She dropped back to her knees despondently, her weary gaze seeing nothing but miles and miles of desert. She didn’t have any food or water. She could survive without food, but without water she would die in the desert.

How much more could she be expected to take? Michael in her universe was gone. Michael from that other universe was gone. She lay down, feeling her will to survive fading. She stared up at the sky, her eyes blurring with tears as she pounded her fists against the ground. “Why?!” she screamed out. This was beyond cruel. What was the point of going on? She was alone and she had no idea why the Granolith had bothered to send her back to her universe. She remained on the desert floor for some time, letting the exhaustion take her over before she slowly hauled herself up enough to look around, squinting against the bright sunlight. How did she know she was in her universe? For all she knew she had been tossed into another universe to find and save another Michael Guerin.

Her eyes watered from the sun and the heat rising from the desert floor and she forced herself to her feet once more. She might die trying to get out of the desert but she wouldn’t just lie down and give up. She was emotionally spent; her heart had been turned inside out and she didn’t know how much more she could take. She had to keep going. Michael had promised to do his best to carry out his mission in the past in his universe and by letting him go, she had promised to do the same.

Not that it was much of a mission, she thought morosely. What was she supposed to do? Where was she supposed to go? It had been nearly a year, what if the others had moved on? She forced her feet to start walking even though she had no idea what direction she was going in. At the moment she couldn’t even remember how to tell direction by the sun’s placement in the sky. She couldn’t see the rock formation that housed the Granolith anywhere around and she didn’t know how she had landed outside of the chamber.

If she managed to survive her trek through the desert she could try to contact the others. They might still be in Clayton and she had nowhere else to go. She could try going back to the house she had shared with Michael. She was sure it had been rented out by now, occupied by strangers would wouldn’t understand the significance of the little house. How it had represented comfort and stability in their otherwise crazy lives.

She walked for what felt like hours. She wasn’t wearing a watch and she had no way to tell time so when the blacktop suddenly rose before her in the distance she didn’t know how long she had been walking. The bottoms of her feet burned and her legs felt heavy. The heat rose off of the asphalt in shimmering waves and she stumbled closer to it. A car passed and she waved her hands in the air, trying to get their attention because her throat was parched and her voice didn’t seem to want to work. She watched the car as it disappeared over a slight rise in the road and she nearly burst into tears.

She tripped over her feet as she finally reached the road and she fell to her knees, feeling the skin tear. She didn’t care. She just couldn’t bring herself to even do much more than acknowledge the pain. She forced herself to her feet once more and stared at the endless road for several minutes before she was able to convince her feet to move again. She weaved drunkenly as she tried her best to stay on the road.

She didn’t see the truck barreling down on her when her feet took her off of the road and then back out onto the asphalt. One minute she was dragging her feet in the sand and the next she got back on the shoulder of the road, accidentally overstepping and weaving out into the lane. The horn blaring just barely got her attention and she stood there, mesmerized by the oncoming vehicle, and too lost to move out of the way.

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The Man Who Didn't Belong (M/M,Mature) Ch 82 - 2/17/14

Postby ArchAngel1973 » Mon Feb 17, 2014 7:11 pm

Alien_Friend: Yes, Michael and Maria love each other so much. They hope that what they are doing is not for nothing, and that their sacrifice will help everybody. Maria has gone through a hard time, the worst time ever, and she doesn’t know what the future holds. But she can hope that the Granolith, somehow, sent her to that other universe for a reason other than just helping that universe.

mary mary: It’s not too late. Don’t give up hope.

Eva & Alien_Friend: Thanks for the bump!


Ending Two, Part 6 (or Part 82)

Michael watched Devon Lansing as he seethed in the aftermath of the dressing down Tom had given him. At 17, Lansing was two years older than his younger self was, and he knew from his own timeline that the kid’s violent behavior would escalate over the next few years, ending in a gunfight between him and law enforcement when he was cornered. His rap sheet was filled with charges of violence and in a just system he would’ve been dealt with and disposed of before he could ruin so many lives.

He stayed out of sight as he followed Lansing to another area of the orphanage, recognizing the familiar room the guy entered. He stayed back, out of sight, as the kid ordered the other boys outside, warning them to stay away until he said they could come back. The rooms were set up to hold six to eight children each and he had hated the lack of privacy and the constant noise associated with the dormitory style living conditions. Luckily, he hadn’t roomed with Lansing, but it hadn’t stopped the older boy from coming into his room and beating the shit out of him every chance he got.

He moved closer, listening as Lansing consulted with the 16-year-old who had followed him faithfully, doing anything he was told to do. Mason Reynolds hadn’t liked Lansing, but in exchange for being his lackey the older boy had provided protection. Reynolds had been a coward, but he was the one who had passed along the message and lured another teenager out into the yard that night. It was during that fight that Reynolds had gone to find Tom, to tell him about the fight and get him out on the yard.

Lansing and Reynolds had gotten away with murder the first time around because they had disappeared after knifing the director and leaving him to die on the yard. He had gone looking for them a couple of years after joining the Company and had been disappointed to learn their early deaths would prevent him from exacting revenge. Reynolds had died of a drug overdose like the coward he was, alone in some filthy alley, and no one had mourned his passing.

He listened as they made their plan and he slipped into the room, closing the door and locking it as he leaned back against it. He could make a phone call, leave an anonymous tip for the local police department, but it wouldn’t prevent Tom’s death. The cops could show up, they might arrest Lansing for possession of a weapon and intent, but it wouldn’t stop him from coming after Tom again. He would just wait and sneak up on him at some other time. The two boys stopped talking and turned to look at him.

“Who the fuck are you?” Lansing demanded.

Michael smirked as he watched the teenager pull himself to his full height, knowing it was an intimidation ploy. When Michael had been 12 years old Lansing had intimidated the hell out of him but he had never let the prick know it. Even at 15 years old, when Lansing was still kicking his ass on a regular basis he had never let it show. Looking at him through the eyes of a 25-year-old man gave him a different view though. “Change of plans, boys.”

The boys exchanged a look and while Lansing laughed outright, his companion’s laughter was forced and nervous as he stared at the dangerous looking man watching them.

*****

Nine-year-old Isabel Evans sat up in bed, rubbing her eyes as she looked around in confusion. She looked across the room at her sleeping brother and called his name, keeping her voice at a whisper. “Max!” She waited a few seconds and called him again. “Max, wake up!” She rolled her eyes and got up, stumbling over to his bed and flopping down on it to shake him. “Max!”

“Wha’?” he mumbled sleepily.

“I had a really weird dream.”

“You always have weird dreams, Izzy.” He tried to roll over so he could go back to sleep but she grabbed onto his shoulder and held him still. He sighed in resignation and folded his pillow in half and rested the side of his head on it as he stared at her balefully. “What was it?”

“I don’t know. There was a man who was kinda scary.” She bit her bottom lip. “But I think he’s kinda sad too.”

“Did you see him before?”

She shook her head. “I don’t think so.”

“Did he do somethin’ to you in the dream?”

“No, he just looked scary. I don’t know why I was dreaming about someone I don’t know, Max.”

“Maybe you just went into someone’s dream by accident.”

“But how if I’ve never seen him before?” she asked.

He shrugged. “I don’t know.”

She sighed and lay down beside him. “I wish we could tell Mom and Dad, Max.”

“I know, Izzy, but we can’t. They can’t ever know we’re different.”

“Yeah, I know.” She nodded. “Can I sleep over here?” She settled down and closed her eyes when he nodded in agreement. “It felt like I knew him,” she said after a while.”

“Who?” he mumbled, already half-asleep again.

“The man in the dream,” she whispered.

*****

Michael dropped the picture of the Evans’ children when he felt… a presence. There was no other way to describe it. He rubbed the back of his neck as he looked around the darkened living room. He had waited until well after dark to break into the comfortable home and he had paused in the living room to glance over the family photographs. He had picked up one of Max and Isabel to memorize what they looked like and after several moments of studying the picture he had felt that presence in his head.

He wasn’t sure what could explain the experience. “Probably somethin’ alien-related,” he muttered under his breath as he bent over to retrieve the picture frame. He resituated it on the mantle and shook off the momentary sensations of fear and curiosity he had felt as he held it. He wandered around the house, looking for something that would let him know where the family had gone on their vacation. He paused in the doorway of one of the bedrooms, easily identifying it as Isabel’s room even though he didn’t know her. Even as a child the room was in perfect order, everything displayed with a precision he could appreciate.

The next bedroom down the hall was messy, toys and books scattered around haphazardly. The bed was poorly made and clothes were strewn everywhere. This room belonged to Max, he decided. It was definitely a boy’s room. Nothing in either of the children’s bedrooms gave him a clue about their whereabouts. Not that he had expected to find anything. It was curiosity that had him checking their rooms out.

He left the rooms the way he had found them and continued on his way, searching for an office or maybe just a desk in one of the rooms. They had to have a central place where they wrote out the monthly bills, planned vacations, and figured out everything else that went into planning their daily lives. In the kitchen he found a postcard stuck to the refrigerator door with a note written in a shaky scrawl that mentioned seeing the family soon. He moved the magnet and glanced at the postmark before turning the card over and looking at a panoramic view of a sandy beach and the ocean with sailboats dotting the background.

“Florida,” he murmured as he looked at the Miami written across one corner in bold, garish lettering. Of course there was no address on the back of the postcard though. He frowned down at the signature at the bottom when he saw that there was no name, only a Love Grandma and Grandpa. “Don’t make it easy or anything.” He put the postcard back and let his gaze wander down over the pictures that were stuck all over the door. Hand-drawn art, colored pictures torn out of coloring books, all signed in crayon in a childish handwriting. Just like with the bedrooms it was easy to identify which of the pictures belonged to Isabel and which to Max.

He started sifting through the drawers in the kitchen and came up empty-handed. He gave the room one more look before heading back down the hall, looking for the parents’ bedroom. The information had to be somewhere in the house. He opened the door and glanced around, taking in the room’s neat appearance before stepping inside. He went through the nightstand drawers on one side, quickly determining that it was the father’s side of the bed as it yielded no useful information. He rounded the bed and pulled the top drawer of the mother’s nightstand open, spotting the address book right away. He made a face at the pink cover, decorated with flowers, as he picked it up and flipped it open. He scanned through the names and addresses, searching for the grandparents’. He found the paternal grandparents first but discarded them since they didn’t live in Florida. Maternal grandparents wouldn’t be as easy to locate since he didn’t have the mother’s maiden name.

He looked around and huffed in annoyance. Damn, why couldn’t this have happened just a few years in the future when personal computers were more common in the family home? He sat on the bed and continued to search through the address book. And why did they have to know so many damn people? He flipped the next page over and smiled to himself when he recognized the handwriting on the envelope tucked between the pages. “Hello, Grandma,” he muttered as he stared down at the Miami address.

He ripped a blank page from the back of the book and found a pen so he could copy the address down, shoving it in his pocket when he was finished. Now he had to cross the country and intercept the family before that accident. He paused in the hallway to look at the family pictures lined up on the wall. He knew where the accident happened and he knew when it would happen; he could simply intercept them on the road but now there was a connection with them and he felt the need to make sure they were alright.

He had time to get to Miami and locate them. The family car was gone and since the accident would happen while they were driving back after their vacation he had to assume they were driving their own vehicle. He walked along the hallway, searching the photographs for their car. Not finding one there he moved back to the living room and the picture frames lined up on the mantle. “Of course,” he murmured, reaching for one near the back. Max and his father, standing next to a dark blue car. Closer inspection revealed the car in other photographs and he went back to the kitchen, remembering that one of the drawers had contained a neat stack of bills.

He flipped through the stack of papers, noting bills on top and papers most people would consider important at the bottom. He located an insurance bill for the family car and he wrote the information down on the paper with the grandparents’ address before shoving it back in his pocket. He carefully put everything back the way he had found it and made one more circuit of the house before he left the way he came.

*****

Maria’s body felt weighed down by gravity, too heavy and sluggish to move. Her eyes were locked on the oncoming truck, the sun behind her glinting brightly off of the chrome grill and making her eyes water. Her feet refused to cooperate as random thoughts assailed her, most of them flying by too fast for her to process them. Flashes of memory, moments frozen in time, snapshots of her life… they hit her with the force of a freight train and her only coherent thought was: Is this the way it ends?

As if from outside of herself she watched as the distance between her and the truck grew smaller and even though her mind was screaming at her to move, her limbs remained stationary. She had come so far. She had achieved so much to get to this point and now that she was back in her universe she had nothing left to fight for. Even if she managed to make it back to her friends, what was waiting for them? Khivar’s invasion. Certain death, whether at his hands or the hands of those hunting them. She shoved those thoughts away even as her vision seemed to blur from the burning moisture building up as a result of the glare being reflected back at her.

The driver glanced up from tuning the radio and his eyes widened when he saw a figure directly ahead of him. He squinted, familiar with the tricks the sun could play on the eyes as it reflected off of the asphalt and the desert floor. No one would be out walking in this heat, he was sure of that. The figure shifted and shimmered with the heat rising from the road, disappearing for a moment before suddenly becoming perfectly visible.

He slammed on the brakes, the tires squealing and laying rubber down on the asphalt. The gearshift was shoved into park hard enough to nearly snap the lever off of the steering column and the door was shoved open violently. Of all the stupidity! Some stupid woman driver had probably run out of gas, and now she was out wandering around baking in the afternoon sun. His thoughts were a product of his anger for nearly hitting her and his concern for a woman alone out in the desert.

She heard the tires scream in protest as they skidded against the road and then the sound of a door slamming. Angry footsteps pounded against the pavement and she stared at the booted feet as they approached her. What if he was a cop? Oh, God, if he ran her name he would know immediately that she was wanted. She didn’t even know what kind of charges the FBI Special Unit had cooked up, but she knew they were actively looking for them. He was getting closer, she could hear the heavy footfalls and knew he was almost on top of her. Think! her mind screamed at her. You need a cover story and you’re running out of time!

“What the hell are you thinkin’ walkin’ around in the middle of the road?!” he shouted as he reached out and grabbed her arm.

Her eyes widened as she was pulled around to face him directly and her heart dropped again. It couldn’t be good to experience that sensation too many times in such a short amount of time.

He dropped her arm and stumbled back a step as he took in the woman staring up at him in disbelief. “Maria?” His confusion quickly gave way to anger as he brought himself up to his full height and his eyes took in the longer hair, the ravaged features in a face flushed from the desert heat. It wasn’t possible for her to be standing before him in this condition. Not fifteen minutes ago he had left her peacefully sleeping in their bed. His right hand flew up, fingers splayed wide in a warning for her to stay back. “I don’t know who the hell you are,” he said, shaking his head against the image being projected. Shapeshifters, Skins, some trickery devised by those hunting them… whoever or whatever this was, it wasn’t Maria.

Maria took a stumbling step toward him, her heart shredding when he looked at her with such cold, hard eyes. “Michael…”

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The Man Who Didn't Belong (M/M,Mature) Ch 83 - 4/29/14

Postby ArchAngel1973 » Tue Apr 29, 2014 6:53 pm

Alien_Friend: Yes, Maria went back to Michael, much to her surprise. She’s got one hell of an explanation to deliver though!

fadedblue: The shocked readers we have!! At least three so far, shocked to see an update. Yes, it’s been a long time, but we’re back and the story is close to be finished. No more than a dozen parts on this site.

keepsmiling7: Yeah, the same thing happens to us when there’s an update for a story we had almost forgotten about. And while it’s true that TMWDB is long, complicated, and hasn’t been updated in a long time, we hope you enjoyed rereading it.


Ending Two, Part 7 (or Part 83)

Michael shifted around to get comfortable in the passenger’s seat of the semi truck, his arms crossed over his chest and a ball cap tugged down low over his eyes. He had hitchhiked out of the small town, catching a ride with the driver of an oil tanker. The man didn’t talk much which suited him just fine. The CB radio squawked at fairly regular intervals and the driver conversed with some of the other drivers and the rest of the time the radio just went ignored.

The driver could only get him as far as the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex but he had said he was sure he would be able to catch another truck heading east and from there it wouldn’t be long before he was on his way to Miami. He had managed to lift enough cash before leaving Roswell that he would be able to pick up something to eat when they stopped. He was hungry but he could wait a few more hours.

He hadn’t made a decision about whether to make the trip all the way to Miami or whether to just wait for them in Monroe, Louisiana. They would be coming through in three days and while part of him felt the need to get to them and make sure they were alright, the rational part of his brain was telling him to wait it out in Monroe. If for any reason he missed intercepting them prior to the accident this would be nothing more than a waste of time. It would be best to wait for them to cross his path and then make sure they didn’t continue on their trip until the threat had passed.

He nodded to himself and let his head drop back against the headrest, his eyes staring at the yellow line bisecting the highway. The line was hypnotizing and without his permission his mind began to wander and his thoughts latched onto Maria. He wondered if she had made it safely back to her universe and if she had what she was doing. Had the Granolith dumped her off in the chamber? Or had she appeared somewhere that had put her in danger of being discovered? What were the chances she had been dumped off somewhere close to her friends? She had described the Granolith in her universe as being cold. He wasn’t fanciful enough to attribute emotional characteristics to a damn machine, but he wouldn’t be surprised to learn that she had appeared someplace she hadn’t expected.

It wouldn’t be random. He had a feeling it chose the place for its travelers to appear based on some sort of knowledge it possessed. But he was dead in her universe. Or at least her version of him was dead. What was the chance that something they had done had altered events and he would be alive to be there for her? His chest hurt at the thought of her being alone in a place where government agents would hunt her down just because of her choice to be with him. They considered themselves to be superior, protecting the public from a threat, and what threat did any of them pose? They weren’t the ones who had gone around killing, hunting down a bunch of teenagers with the intent of dissecting them for study, and eventually killing them. He thought about what little Maria had been able to tell him about that bastard Pierce and what he had done to Max in that white room. He hoped Maria had landed somewhere safe because anything else was unthinkable.

He forced the negative thoughts away. He couldn’t let himself be distracted by worry for her and she would kick his ass for doing it anyway. There wasn’t much he could do until he reached his destination so he let his thoughts turn instead to their last night together. He stared, unblinking, at the wide yellow line. It had barely been 12 hours since he had held her in his arms… 24 hours since he had made love to her. He missed her in a way he had never missed anyone else and it felt like he was missing some essential part of himself. He braced his elbow on the window frame and rested his head in the palm of his hand as he squinted to read the road sign coming up. They still had 420 more miles to go before they hit Dallas.

It was gonna be a long night. He sighed and rubbed his right eyebrow with the knuckle of his forefinger. It was interesting how the company of different people could alter the passage of time. The night before when he would have given just about anything to make it last as long as possible the hours had flown by. And now he was stuck with some random truck driver traveling across the country and the night would probably be interminable.

Since he had joined the Company at 17 years old he had been a good soldier. He had done what was asked of him and any complaints he had about the job he had kept to himself. And that had been fine just a matter of months ago. He had never had a reason to worry about coming home, never had to think twice about the risks he took in the field, and he had never given a fuck about what anyone else thought about him. That had all changed when one little blonde woman barged into his life less than a year ago. She had more heart than anyone he’d ever known and she cared too much; it left her open to getting hurt or taken advantage of and he had a feeling that no matter what, no one and nothing would ever change that about her.

He shifted restlessly, hating the constricted feeling in his chest because he knew it was directly related to her absence. He resisted the urge to rub over the spot that felt hollow and achy, such a direct contrast to the overwhelming feeling of tightness that seemed to surround him. He closed his eyes, letting the memories of the night before wash over him and temporarily easing the unfamiliar feeling of loneliness. He missed her in a way that he had never imagined missing anyone; it was an ache that was both physical and emotional.

His right arm crossed over his body, his hand slipping under the jacket he wore and wrapping around the grip of the gun he had stolen from a house in the Evans’ neighborhood. He had always slept lightly, a combination of an uncertain childhood and his training as an operative for the Company. The only time he had ever slept so heavily was with Maria and it hadn’t happened enough for it to disrupt his normal sleeping pattern.

His tired mind shifted to the woman he had held in his arms the night before and he could picture her as if she was right there with him. With little effort his imagination took over and he could feel her skin against his as his weight rested against her. What would his life have been like if she had been able to stay in his universe? Or if he had been able to go with her back to hers? He shook his head, pushing the thoughts away. It didn’t matter. His life had been forfeited as soon as the decision had been made to undertake this crazy mission. For eight months she had been in his life and just as he had come to the realization that for the first time he had someone he didn’t want to lose she had been taken away from him.

Now he had the opportunity to alter the past and make sure Maria in his universe lived and that his younger self would have a chance at a semi-normal life with someone who, if she was anything like her counterpart, would love him. Oh, she’d piss him off and he’d piss her off, and probably on a fairly regular basis, but now he knew that the capability to love was inside of him. They would fight like cats and dogs but they wouldn’t just fight with each other, they’d fight for each other, and he had a feeling they would make it. He’d fork over every cent he’d ever earned for a chance to catch that show.

He didn’t know how they would meet, but it would take his younger self a while to figure out why she bugged the hell out of him. He didn’t know who he was going to be once he altered the past. The adversity he’d endured all through his childhood and teens had played a big part in shaping him into the man he had become. In this timeline he was 15 years old, so a lot of the damage had already been done, but maybe having the others becoming a part of his life would make a difference. Maybe when Maria came into his life he wouldn’t be as hard on her as he had been in his own timeline.

He had a feeling she would grate on his nerves for a while, and he knew he wouldn’t understand why she bothered him. Even with the others in his life he was going to be difficult and hard to handle; he remembered well who he was at 15 years old. Having a couple of kids come to him and tell him what they were going to tell him wouldn’t be easy to hear and most likely he’d blow them off at first. But once they got through to him, once their lives were linked to his, he would take responsibility for them. He would do whatever was necessary to protect them. His involvement in the Company was imperative, and he would have to make sure he stressed that, because that training was going to be necessary for their survival.

He still had his concerns about his effectiveness in the field once he had established a bond with the others. He hadn’t had that and it had allowed him to focus solely on his career. There had been nothing to interfere with his mindset, nothing to make him question any order he had been given, and nothing to come home to. Having people to come home to could potentially lead to complications in his line of work. Or maybe it would make him fight harder. He didn’t know. The only thing he knew for sure was that for once in his life he was doing something selfless. He had given up his chance to be with Maria to alter his past and possibly save Earth in his universe from Khivar’s future invasion. And he had agreed to do it because it was what she had felt was the right thing to do.

*****

“Stay back,” Michael ordered. He stood there, locked in a staring contest with the woman… Skin… shapeshifter… whatever the hell it was. He knew it wasn’t Maria. He was as sure of that as he was sure that he wasn’t completely human. It wasn’t just that he had left Maria asleep in their bed; this look-alike was different. She had longer hair, a weariness that didn’t come from working long hours at the factory, there was something different about her demeanor, and she seemed older somehow.

The part of him that instinctively responded to Maria reacted to the expression of hurt on this thing’s face, but he forced himself to ignore it. “What are you?” he demanded.

Maria’s mind was casting about wildly, trying to find anything that would tell her when in time the Granolith had dropped her. What if this wasn’t her universe? God, she couldn’t go through this again. “What’s today’s date?” she asked, paying no attention to his question.

His eyes narrowed as he studied her, sensing confusion and an edge of hysteria in her. Almost against his will he spit out the date, “October 25th.”

“It’s Friday,” she breathed in relief. “You’re on your way to work.” Michael’s alive! Her mind chanted the two words over and over and with them came a flood of emotions. Without stopping to think about her actions, without considering how he would react, without a single moment of doubt that she was safe with him, she rushed the space separating them and flung herself into his arms.

Michael remained stiff, his arms at his sides as she held onto him tightly, confused by the combination of laughter and tears, but certain that the hysteria was still there, underlying every word she or it was uttering.

“You’re alive. The Granolith sent me back. I don’t know if it was intentional or if maybe it made a mistake… it was so certain that the events of the past shouldn’t be changed. But maybe this was what was supposed to happen.” She was babbling and she couldn’t stop. “Going back in time… do you understand what this means? It means you’ll live! I won’t have to use the Granolith to travel to another universe.” Her throat started to close up as she thought about the man she had left behind. “I had to leave you, but it wasn’t really you. Well, he was you, but you in another universe. I know you don’t understand and I probably don’t have time to explain it all.” She leaned back suddenly, her teary eyes widening as she realized that her time was probably already running out. “Oh my God, you have to listen to me – “

Michael shoved her… it away as he reminded himself again that whoever or whatever this was, it wasn’t his Maria. It could easily be preying on his predictable behavior to seeing Maria in any kind of distress. “What are you?” he demanded. This person or thing, it was talking about the Granolith, time travel, alternate universes, and his existence as if it was being called into question.

“Michael, it’s me… I’m Maria. Please, you have to listen to me!”

He shook his head stubbornly as he tried to figure out what he was going to do and wondering how much time he had before someone discovered them. They were standing in the middle of the road on the old highway that ran between the house and the factory at the outer edges of Clayton. The road wasn’t frequently traveled at this time of day but there was always the possibility that someone would come along.

Maria could see the wheels turning in his mind and she knew he was running through his options. Before long he would probably decide to find a way to secure her and if she ran out of time before she convinced him to listen to her this would have all been in vain and in less than 48 hours her past self would go through what she had already been through. She couldn’t let that happen. “Michael, you have to listen to me!”

He stared at the road behind her before glancing at the stretch of empty road behind him. They were too exposed out here. If this thing decided to attack he couldn’t be seen defending himself against it out in the open. The risk was too great. He couldn’t go back to the house, couldn’t put Maria – the real Maria – in danger that way. He could subdue her, drive deeper into the desert where they couldn’t be seen while he questioned her. It, he reminded himself. “Get in the truck.”

She saw his brow furrow and his eyes narrow just before he spoke and she shook her head. If she got in the truck he would refuse to listen until they got to wherever he felt it was safe to question her. It could take too long and she hadn’t come this far to lose him again. “No, you have to listen to me, Michael. This road is hardly ever traveled this late in the day and you know that. Yes, it’s risky to stand out here and talk, but I don’t know how much time I’ve got.” His posture became even more rigid if that was possible and she saw him calculating the odds that she had some sort of backup coming. He reached for her, his intent to force her into the truck evident in his dark eyes, and she knew it might be the only chance she had to catch him unaware.

Michael wasn’t prepared for it when she suddenly launched herself into his arms again and he stumbled back several steps when her lips crashed onto his. Her hands gripped him tightly, refusing his efforts to remove her and the momentary distraction was all she needed for his walls to drop. He felt the connection open between them, something he had never experienced with another living soul outside of Maria. The flashes hit him hard and fast, some of the scenes flying by too quickly for his mind to latch onto long enough to make sense of them. Others were so familiar all he needed was the slightest hint and he could recall them with perfect clarity. Along with the flashes came the feelings that accompanied the memories and he was unable to fight them.

Their ‘first time’ at the crash festival when she had worn that green costume and his touch had lingered longer than necessary. The time he had watched her through her bedroom window, her features slightly distorted through the rain and the multi-colored beaded curtain. The way she had looked at him, attempting to stay strong and tell him no. The care she had taken with him once she had taken him into her home, into her bedroom, and eventually into her bed. Care no one else had ever bothered to take with him… care that he had craved and known instinctively that she would give without question. The day he had walked away from her because he loved her too much. The day they left Roswell behind after graduation; her fear of what lay ahead of them intermingled with her happiness at being with him regardless of the circumstances. The day the two of them had finally settled down on their own, moving into their little house outside of Clayton. The joy she felt at simple things like decorating their home and just living a fairly normal life with him.

The flashes began to escalate, taking on a darker tone as images that he had no connection to began to hit him. He didn’t understand the scenes flying by and he didn’t have the time to process them.

A scene with him lying on the ground, blood pooling around him as the cold began to seep into his body. The Granolith and Maria’s devastation as she begged it to help her save him. Her relief as it granted her request. Her confusion when she found him… but it wasn’t him. More scenes hit him rapidly and he felt revulsion sweep over him at the treatment she had received at the hands of a man that looked like him. The bond that formed between her and this other man as time passed. Her fear when he returned from somewhere with a bullet wound and she was forced to relive the memory of losing the man she loved. The care that he took with her as she finally broke, grief causing her to collapse. The Granolith again, this time sending her back in time with no expectation of finding him alive. Her worry and anger at the realization that she had been dropped in the desert and she had no idea where she was. The nearly overwhelming sadness as she wondered about those she cared about and what she was going to do to survive. Her exhaustion as she stared at the truck coming directly at her and the fear at the thought that it could be one of their enemies. The relief and joy that had washed over her when she had seen him coming towards her that was quickly followed by the wounded feeling at the harshness in his voice.

He stared at her when she finally broke the kiss. It was true, all of it. Somehow she was Maria, he could feel it. It was crazy, but he believed her. Something terrible had happened to her, to him… to them, and somehow the Granolith had caused something to happen to prevent that event. “I died,” he said slowly.

She nodded as she reached up to touch his face. “We took you to the Granolith but it wouldn’t cooperate at first. When it finally decided to help it sent me to an alternate universe where everything was different. Liz died in the shooting, Max and Isabel were killed in a car accident when they were little, Alex and Kyle had both moved away, I had died, and you were in a covert operations thing… a trained sniper. I had to save you in that universe, Michael.”

Her fingers trailed over his face as she talked non-stop. “He had to go back in time, prevent Max and Isabel from dying because that was the only way to keep me and Liz from dying, the only way to keep the others there. It was the only way to keep us all together so that we would be ready when Khivar invaded. And the Granolith sent me back here, but I didn’t know you were still alive. I thought I was coming back to my universe eight months from now, but for whatever reason it sent me back prior to the accident.”

Her eyes roamed over his face. “You’re off this weekend, it’s rare for us to ever have two days off together, and we’ll spend it just being together. We’ll go for walks, we’ll talk, as much as you ever do, we’ll make love, and then on Sunday morning you’ll run ahead of me… it’s gonna rain tomorrow and it’ll rain hard, the riverbed will be filled and for whatever reason that draws your attention. The cliff over the river won’t support your weight, I don’t know if that’s because the ground’s just weak right there or if it’s because of all the rain, but it doesn’t matter. You have to stay away from the river. You fall and it kills you.” Tears clogged her throat and her hands dropped to his shirt, her fingers curling into the material as she shook him. “You have to stay away. I can’t live through losing you again.”

Michael reached up to cover her hands, gently prying them from his shirt. She was talking so fast it was making his head spin. “Slow down, Maria.” Future Maria, him dying, time travel, the Granolith, alternate universes, the river. It was too much. “Just stop, blondie, I need to think.”

“You don’t understand, Michael. I don’t know how much time I have here. Until I saw you I thought I was here eight months from now and that I had to find a way to survive without you. But you’re alive.” She laughed hysterically. “You’re alive, and you can stay that way. Just stay away from the river. “I just need to know that you won’t go anywhere near the river, stay away from the cliffs. God, just walk in another direction. I won’t care where we walk as long as you don’t die. Do you understand? All that matters to me… to her… is being with you.”

He studied her intently, his gaze unblinking as he went over everything he had seen and heard in the past few minutes. “We’ll stay away from the river,” he said finally.

Relief caused her to sway weakly and she sighed when he reached out to steady her.

“That other guy, me… whatever, he didn’t treat you well.”

“I wish I had the time to explain. All that matters is he was you. Just older, military-trained, and he grew up in an orphanage. But in the end… he was you, Michael.” She reached up to touch his face but her hand passed through him as it began to fade out. “It’s happening,” she whispered in wonder.

Michael swallowed hard as she slowly began to phase in and out. He checked the road in both directions, making sure it was clear before focusing on her again. “Does it hurt?”

She shook her head. “It means you believe me. It’s happening because we’ve already changed the future. You won’t die in two days.” Her green eyes shimmered with tears. “That’s all that matters.”

Before he could get a single word out she disappeared, her body fading away into nothing. Dead in two days, he mused, sickened at the thought at leaving Maria behind. He walked back to the truck and slid in behind the wheel, sitting there for several moments, his gaze locked on the road ahead of him. He turned his head to the side to look at his lunch sitting on the seat beside him; lunch that Maria had prepared for him before she had gone to bed because she wanted it to be as fresh as possible when his lunchtime rolled around. He started the truck and made a u-turn, heading back for the house as he went over everything he had just learned.

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ArchAngel1973
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The Man Who Didn't Belong (M/M,Mature) Ch 84 - 5/23/14

Postby ArchAngel1973 » Fri May 23, 2014 5:18 pm

keepsmiling7:

All I can say is that Michael really learned a lot!


You don’t know the half of it!

fadedblue: Oh, we have every intention of coming back. This story only has a few parts to write before it’s over, even if there are more to be posted here.


Ending Two, Part 8 (or Part 84)

Michael stepped down out of the cab of the semi truck and looked around the busy truck stop. It was noisy as rigs pulled in and out at the fuel islands and the continuous sound of engines droning could be heard from the parking lot where the trucks were lined up as drivers took advantage of an opportunity to pull off of the road and catch a few hours of sleep.

“Hey.”

He turned his head when Larry, the driver who had picked him up outside of Roswell called him as he rounded the front of his rig. He inclined his head to indicate that he had heard the other man and he waited for him to speak.

“Got a buddy comin’ through here in about four or five hours; he’s waitin’ to get loaded right now. He’ll be headin’ east and he said if you don’t find a ride before then he’ll be stoppin’ in for somethin’ to eat before hittin’ the road.” He uncapped the fuel tank and turned to reach for the nozzle. “If you’re interested, look for a screamin’ yellow rig with a bulldog painted on the doors.”

“Bulldog, huh?”

“Yeah, you’re not allergic to dogs are you?”

Michael controlled his expression. “Yeah, maybe I’ll keep an eye out for another ride.” He wasn’t interested in waiting around for several hours. He was going to grab something to eat and if he couldn’t find a ride he’d start walking. Someone would eventually stop and pick him up, give him a ride into Monroe.

He went into the truck stop restaurant and picked a corner table that gave him a view of the entire dining area as well as the parking lot. He sat down and grabbed the menu propped up between the salt and pepper shakers, browsing through it for a few minutes before giving his order to the waitress who was hovering nearby.

He got up to go and grab a map off of the rack by the register, returning to his seat and unfolding it, spreading it out on the table. He studied the route between Monroe, Louisiana and Miami, Florida, weighing the pros and cons of staying and waiting for them and just going down there and keeping them from leaving on time.

The soldier in him rebelled at the thought of moving too soon and he tamped down the feeling of impatience that was building inside of him. He had waited out targets in far worse conditions and managed to keep himself mentally occupied. Every mission carried its own weight and the implications of failure were far-reaching. This time though, there was no margin for error. If he failed to prevent this accident he would be damning this world to a future that was unthinkable. If it were just him he wouldn’t give a rats’ ass one way or the other. But he had made a promise and if this worked out his younger self would have a chance at having more time with Maria.

He briefly wondered if failing meant he would repeat his life and meet Maria again. He slammed the door on those thoughts. He wouldn’t put her through that pain again, not even in his most selfish inner thoughts. He pushed the map back when the waitress returned with his plate of ribs, reaching for a fork and tasting the mashed potatoes as he went back to studying the map.

*****

Michael locked the front door behind him and walked down the hall that led to the bedroom. He entered the room and stood rooted to the spot for a solid minute, his eyes locked on the woman peacefully sleeping there. He crossed the room and sat on the edge of the bed, bending over to unlace his boots. He was kicking them out of the way as he reached for the phone to make a quick call.

He hung up after talking to his shift supervisor and he stood to strip out of his clothes. He slid under the covers and rolled onto his side to watch Maria as she slept. He reached out to touch her, gently tracing over her features. He had a need to touch her, to feel her skin against his; to feel her breathe and know she was alive and here with him. Before, when that other version of her had given him the flashes there had been so many contradictions and conflicted emotions.

She had survived for eight months in another universe, with a version of him that was hostile and aggressive. He had only had time to catch bits and pieces of her time with his double but he had been able to sense the emotional rollercoaster she had been on. His fingers stilled against her cheek as what she had done for him really hit him. She had gone through so much to save him from an early death. She had somehow traveled between universes and then gone back in time to prevent him from dying two days from now.

“Maria,” he called quietly, needing her to wake up so that he could talk to her, hear her voice. His gaze followed her movements as she shifted, attempting to wiggle further down under the blankets in an effort to avoid waking up. “Hey, crazy girl.” He shifted to stop her movements, knowing it would wake her up.

Her eyes fluttered open, flitting around the room a couple of times before sliding closed once more. She huffed an annoyed breath when the man she loved more than anything and anyone else called her again, his voice insistent. “Michael,” she complained grumpily.

“I know you’re tired but this’s important.”

The tone in his voice was enough to get her attention and she forced her eyes open in spite of the desire to succumb to the siren call of sleep. “Okay, Spaceboy, what’s so – “

Michael moved in to take her lips in a heated kiss, his left hand sliding across her abdomen to settle on sleep-warmed skin. His mouth gentled on hers and after a few minutes he lifted his head to look at her. “I’m never gonna leave you,” he whispered as he stared into her eyes. “You know that, right?”

Maria reached up to brush her fingers against his strong jaw as she looked into his dark eyes, trying to figure out what was on his mind. “Michael, are you alright?” She glanced at the window behind him, seeing the sunlight that crept in through the closed curtains. The fact that it was still light out and he hadn’t gone to work was a clear indication that something wasn’t right. The only time she had known him to miss work was earlier that summer when she had come down with the flu and she had been stuck in bed for several days.

“Do you know that I’ll never leave you?”

She met his intense gaze head-on and after several moments she nodded. “I know.” Her answer seemed to appease him but there was still something troubling in his eyes. “Are you okay?”

His fingers traced over her lips as he shook his head. His hand slipped down to rest against her neck as his mouth lowered to hers once more.

Maria didn’t know what was wrong with him but she knew he wasn’t ready to talk about it. Instead of trying to figure out what was bothering him or trying to get him to open up she poured all of the love she felt for him into the kiss. She shifted around to help him when he started to work her shirt up, breaking apart only as long as it took for him to pull it over her head and toss it aside.

She didn’t question the edge of desperation she could feel in him as Michael made love to her. It wasn’t until afterwards when the beat of their hearts were returning to their normal rhythm that she broached the subject. She shifted so that she was half-lying on top of him, her left forearm resting on his chest as she met his gaze. “You wanna talk about it?”

He scrubbed a hand over his face as the fingers of his other hand stroked her arm in a repetitive motion. He hated talking. “I left here to go to work and I ran into you on the old highway.”

She gave a short bark of laughter. “Michael, I was right here sleeping. What’re you talking about?” She sobered at the look on his face as the implication of his words sank in. “It obviously wasn’t me you ran into…” She trailed off and chewed on her bottom lip as she considered what it could mean. “It had to be a shape-shifter.”

He shook his head. “She wasn’t. That’s what I thought at first too. She stepped out in front of the truck and I nearly hit her. I got out to ask what the hell was wrong with her and then I got a good look at her… and she was you.”

She shook her head. “That’s not possible, Michael. I never left the house!”

“She was you, Maria. I don’t understand all of it, but it’s true. You came back from eight months from now.”

“What did she say that convinced you she was me?”

“You don’t believe me?” he bit out.

“Michael, we’ve run into so many things that haven’t been what they appeared to be at first.” She paused for a moment, watching his hand as he rubbed her arm unconsciously. “Let’s say it’s true, that the person you met was me… from the future. Why would I come back from just eight months in the future? How did I come back? We already know that to alter the Granolith it requires knowledge I don’t possess. Let’s face it, Science wasn’t my best subject.”

“She connected with me, Maria! She was you.”

“What do you mean she connected with you? What, like she touched you? Kissed you? What?”

“Does it matter?” He pushed her off of him and got up, grabbing his jeans and pulling them on. “The second, alright?”

Maria sat up, pulling the sheet around her as she watched him pace around their bedroom. He was agitated by what had happened. No, she corrected herself, it was her not believing him that was the problem. If it was true, it made sense that she would tell him what had happened using the most convincing method at her disposal. “Where is she now?” She would be gone if she was really from the future. If her purpose was to convince him of something and she had succeeded then she would have disappeared into thin air.

“Gone,” he answered shortly.

She reached out and caught his hand when he passed her, pulling him down to sit beside her. “Tell me what happened, all of it. Don’t leave anything out.”

He lifted his gaze from their linked hands to look at her. After a moment he started to speak, his words gaining momentum until they were spilling out so fast that he had to remind himself to slow down several times. He told her everything that her future self had told him and he told her what he could recall of what he had seen in the flashes.

“So in that other universe I was with another… version of you?” She shook her head. “No, that’s ridiculous.” There was no way she would move on, not even with him in another universe, less than a year after his death.

“Maria, I don’t know the full extent of the relationship between you and… her and him but I can make a fairly accurate guess based on what I saw and felt. Do I like it? No. But in spite of my personal feelings on that subject, that other version of me kept you safe. He didn’t allow anything to happen to you and he helped you come back to me.” He brought his hands up to cradle her cheeks. “Somehow you managed to travel to a completely different universe, find a me that was completely over the top, and you convinced him and the Granolith to send you back here in time to save my life.”

She wrapped her hand around his arm and pulled him with her when she fell back against the bed. She smiled as her fingers threaded through the hair that brushed against the back of his neck. “I’m not so sure about a different you in another universe, but I do know I’d do whatever was necessary to get you back if I ever lost you.” She couldn’t imagine ever being able to have a relationship with another Michael if she lost the man in her arms. “Looks like we’re not gonna be going anywhere near that river.” She made a face at him. “And why would you suddenly find that damn river so fascinating anyway?”

He shrugged, his eyes tracing over her features once again. “I don’t know,” he murmured. “But I can guarantee that it’s off of my list of potential things to see now.”

She sighed and settled against his side. “I’m not letting you out of my sight for the next 48 hours,” she decided.

They lay there together, their thoughts on what could have been. If not for the journey she had undertaken out of love for him they would be oblivious at this moment. He would be at work and she would be sleeping, both unaware of what the near future held in store for them. Now they had the opportunity to prevent the event that would effectively alter all of their lives.

“I wonder what happened to you in that other universe?” she murmured quietly after a while. “I mean, after she… or I left him there.”

Michael didn’t say anything in response to her question. He didn’t know what had happened to that other version of him but he could imagine what his life would be like without Maria and it wasn’t worth thinking about. “I don’t guess we’ll ever know,” he said when she turned her head to look at him. “But, since the accident won’t happen, he’ll never know you so he’ll be spared the pain of losing you.” Of course, that also meant the poor bastard would never know what it was to love her and be loved by her.

She stretched up to kiss him. “I love you,” she whispered.

“Love you too.” He wrapped his arms around her and held her close, soaking up the feel of her skin against his, the sound of her breathing, and the strength of their connection.

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ArchAngel1973
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The Man Who Didn't Belong (M/M,Mature) Ch 85 - 8/26/14

Postby ArchAngel1973 » Tue Aug 26, 2014 6:22 pm

keepsmiling7: Yes, it’s spooky to think about another universe. It’s a scientific possibility, but one we doubt we’ll have confirmed in our lifetime. But exploring that theme in a story has been incredible and it’s allowed us to create a new Michael with another background and one not from OUR world.


Ending Two, Part 9 (or Part 85)

Michael stood in the shadow cast by an idling semi truck, his trained eyes scanning the steady stream of vehicles entering and leaving the parking lot where the fuel pumps were located. The lot was sectioned off with diesel fuel islands on the back side of the large station where the large trucks could fuel up and further back was the expansive gravel lot where they could park. The fuel islands at the front of the station were set up for smaller vehicles that didn’t operate on diesel fuel, and off to one side was a paved parking lot for people who were stopping in for a meal or just a break from the road after fueling up.

His eyes narrowed when a blue car pulled into the entrance and he straightened up when he saw that it was the right make and model. He watched as the drivers’ side door opened and a man stepped out. Too young. Definitely not the car he was waiting for. Before he and Maria had made their last trip to the Granolith he had hacked into the necessary databases to gather all of the information he could find about the accident. He knew they would be stopping at this truck stop for fuel before continuing on their way and based on the time of the accident they would be arriving soon.

He watched the bustling activity on both sides of the station, observing the more methodical fueling habits of the truck drivers coming in and out. Most of the drivers were stopping out of necessity, fueling their rigs, running into the station for something to eat or to grab a shower before hitting the road again. His gaze returned to the other side of the station, watching as the other travelers took their time milling about, fueling up, browsing the station for something to munch on or sitting down inside at the restaurant to eat before moving on.

He felt an odd tingling sensation at the back of his neck and he straightened up as his shaded gaze swung to the entrance. His eyes dropped to the license plate, noting the mix of numbers and letters imprinted on the yellow background. His target had arrived. He visually followed the car as it pulled into the fuel islands and he watched as a man stepped out of the drivers’ side. He recognized Philip Evans from the pictures he had seen in the family’s home and as he watched the man opened up the back door and the children escaped the confines of the backseat.

Max was excited to give his dad a hand as he filled the tank, checked the tires, and fiddled around under the hood checking fluid levels. Isabel stuck her nose up when the offer to help was extended to her and she hurried to follow her mother into the station. His eyes narrowed when she paused at the door and turned to look around curiously before her mother called her to come inside. Was it possible that she felt his presence? He didn’t know much about their abilities but there was nothing out of the ordinary going on around them, nothing that would capture her attention.

He knew his window for disabling their vehicle was small and there were too many people around to do anything under the hood. That opportunity would only present itself if they pulled over to the parking lot and decided to go inside for something to eat. Unfortunately nothing in the report indicated that they would do that. Over the past couple of days he had taken a couple of practice runs, checking the response time of the local roadside assistance. Response time was sluggish at best but he couldn’t risk them choosing today to be at the top of their game.

He waited until father and son had disappeared into the large station and he crossed the lot. He had long ago mastered the art of blending in and going unnoticed and he used that advantage now to move between the islands, pausing next to several cars and using his knife to quickly slice off the valve stems on random tires. He removed two on the Evans’ car, not willing to risk it in case Philip decided to just change the tire out with the spare and continue on his way.

He disappeared back into the shadows and waited for the reactions of the customers who were now disabled. A couple of them simply accepted the fact that someone had played a trick on them and changed out their tires. He smirked when one guy went off, throwing a fit and cursing a blue streak when he saw the damage. It only took a moment to realize the guy didn’t have a spare and that just heightened his amusement.

Two islands over Philip Evans had stopped in his perusal of the damage to stand up and turn to look at the man his little boy was staring at. Michael wondered if he would say something to the loudmouth cursing loudly. It wasn’t like the kid hadn’t heard the words before but he could easily see how protective the man was as he placed his hand on his son’s shoulder and turned him back to face the car as he spoke to him quietly.

“Philip, honey, maybe I should take the kids inside and we’ll just stay here for dinner,” Diane Evans said as she glanced at the man who was now kicking his flat tire. “They have a nice restaurant and from what the manager was saying this might take a little time.”

He checked his watch and nodded. “Well, I don’t suppose we’ll be making Dallas at our expected time with this mess,” he motioned to the tires. “Let’s have dinner and then I’ll call the hotel, let them know we’ll be checking in late.”

Across the parking lot Michael nodded to himself. The family would be stopped at the station for a couple of hours, minimum. He had bought the time necessary to ensure that they wouldn’t be involved in the accident that had claimed their lives in his timeline. He would wait to make sure they were safely back on the road before making his own way back to Roswell to finish his mission.

*****

The factory was humming with activity, the foreman shouting out instructions and the workers running to follow his orders. Raul Calderon had held his position for nearly a dozen years and he took pride in running a smooth operation. He walked along the staging area and narrowed his eyes when he caught two of his guys slacking off, ignoring the truck that was waiting to be unloaded.

“That wall doesn’t need any help stayin’ upright.”

“Just takin’ a break, boss,” one of them said.

“I didn’t hear the break whistle.” His pointed gaze bounced between the two of them. “Did you?”

“It’s just a five-minute break,” the second one grumbled.

“Your shift’s over,” he barked, waving his clipboard back toward the lockers. “Get your gear and take off.” He turned without waiting for them to comply, scanning the workers busily unloading the other trucks backed up to the docks. He glanced over his clipboard and backtracked to dock three.

He stood off to the side and watched the man working to unload the truck. Dependable, talked very little, and worked hard, Mike Lucado kept his nose to the ground and did whatever was asked of him. He had spoken with the one of his second shift supervisors and learned that Lucado’s wife had been inquiring about changing shifts. He knew working different shifts could be hell on a couple but he also knew having the two of them working the same shift could be hell on him.

He wondered if Lucado would ask to switch shifts to work third with his wife. He had stayed a few times to observe her working habits, and like her husband she was a hard worker and in the time the couple had been working at the factory they had both been reliable and always done what was required of them. They didn’t work in the same area, which would lessen the chance that the two of them working the same shift would become problematic. He watched the man and shook his head. He would see about finding a place for her on second. The majority of his shipments came in on second and he wasn’t about to lose one of his hardest workers.

“Lucado,” he called loudly to be heard over the noise on the docks.

Michael pulled the pallet down over the dock plate and reached up to pull the earplugs from his ears, letting them dangle from the cord around his neck. “Yeah, boss?”

“Truck on dock 17 needs to be unloaded when you’re finished here.”

“Dock 17’s the shipment from Dallas?” He continued when the foreman nodded. “Want the pallets broken down and the parts shelved when I’ve got it unloaded?” He nodded in response to the foreman’s thumbs-up gesture, put his earplugs back in his ears, and went back to work.

Michael moved the pallet to its designated place and went back to retrieve the next one. He shoved the forks of the pallet jack up under the pallet and jacked it up, growling under his breath when it refused to move. He pulled the lever on the handle, releasing the hydraulics and lowering the forks before pulling the jack backwards a couple of inches and repeating the process.

He unloaded the trucks and set about breaking down the pallets, but his mind was on his run-in with the future version of Maria. For the first couple of days after it had happened he had been more concerned with making sure Maria never had to go through that again. But now, as they were falling back into their normal routine the flashes he had received from her future self were at the forefront of his mind and he couldn’t stop thinking about what he had seen. He had tried to keep his thoughts in check because some of the things he had seen were really bothering him.

He grabbed one of the short crowbars from a hook on the wall and used it to pry the top off of the first crate. An image of Maria in that other Michael’s arms hit him and he gave the crowbar a violent jerk. So far the only thing he had been able to do to control the jealousy that hit him every time he remembered those images was to shove them aside and focus on something else. He hooked the rounded end of the crowbar in his front pocket and lifted the lid off of the crate, setting it aside before reaching down to lift up the first of the heavy parts that needed to be tagged, entered into the system, and shelved.

Michael spent the next six hours forcing his mind to stay away from the flashes he had gotten from the future version of Maria. He worked without thinking of anything but matching the parts to their designated locations. If he let those memories get away from him he might lose control of his powers and that was something he couldn’t risk.

As he drove home he let the thoughts loose, focusing his mind on the man Maria had come into contact with in that other universe. His counterpart had been a major prick and he didn’t know how she had put up with such an insufferable bastard for so long. He pulled up in front of their house and sat behind the wheel for several minutes, staring at the darkened windows. The moon was full, casting a bright white light over the landscape and without actively thinking about it he got out of the truck and walked around behind the house.

Normally Maria would be meeting him on his way into the house because she’d be on her way out, heading to the factory to work her shift. But she wasn’t on the schedule for tonight and he knew without that God-awful alarm clock going off six inches from her ear she wouldn’t wake up. He followed the path around the house and farther out, taking the left fork that led to the riverbed. He veered off to the left when the path forked again and he walked until he reached an area that wasn’t too steep to climb down. He made his way down the incline, slipping on loose gravel and regaining his balance as he landed on the floor of the ravine.

He walked along the edge of the riverbed that was already drying up again, the water collected from the heavy rain days earlier already gone. The bottom was muddy with small pools of water collected in the rutted bottom. The weather was beginning to cool, which meant it would take a few days for the ground to completely dry up again. Flashes that he had gotten from the future version of Maria hit him hard as he neared the place that felt so familiar yet so alien at the same time. He stared at the rocky ground beneath his feet and through the flashes he could see himself lying there, could feel the cold seeping into his body as his life bled away. He shook himself to get rid of the images of the devastation ravaging Maria’s features, the agony tearing through her as she shook his lifeless body and screamed for him to come back to her.

He leaned back against a boulder and crossed his legs at the ankles as he contemplated the ground. After several minutes he dropped his head back and stared up at the sky. It was clear tonight, not a cloud as far as the eye could see, and he could feel the slight drop in temperature. He reached up to run his hands over his face as more memories of the flashes pushed their way to the surface and he winced at the way his counterpart had spoken to Maria. He could feel the way the man’s words and tone had nearly cut her to the bone at times and beneath that he could feel her steely determination to not let it break her. She had fought long and hard to get through to the other man and courtesy of the flashes that he was slowly sorting out he could feel the emotional rollercoaster ride she had been on as she had made progress with him.

Guilt had warred with her burgeoning feelings for a man who both was and wasn’t him. After everything she had been through with that other version of him she had come back to him with the knowledge that doing so meant she was forfeiting her own opportunity for happiness. She had been safe in that other universe. No running for her life, being hunted like an animal. A scene in the Granolith chamber where she learned that she had no choice but to return to her universe with no expectation of saving him presented to her. He rubbed his hands over his face and exhaled roughly. She had returned to the Granolith believing she would be returning to him, but the damn thing had taken her hope and crushed it. The feelings of anger, pain, and betrayal had coursed through her at the realization that any real choice had been taken from her.

Yes, she could have remained in that other universe. She could have stayed with his alternate self and had more of a life than she had expected to have upon returning to her original universe but the Granolith had even stripped the choices from her, warning her that not returning to the chamber would not stop her from being returned to her universe. He could feel her resignation as she finally accepted that even though she had no opportunity to save him she did have the ability to save his counterpart. She had known that by saving that other version of him she would be giving him the life they might have had together. She would be giving him a chance to really live and know what it was like to have a family.

His eyes clenched shut as unbidden, the images of her last night with his counterpart flashed before him. She had been torn, loving both of them, and having to give up the one chance she had left at happiness. She could have risked it all, stayed with his other self, and from what he could tell, the man was more than willing to take that risk. But she had known what it meant to his universe for him to do what was necessary to save the others and she had sacrificed what they might have had together in their present for what their counterparts could have in another timeline.

His hands curled into fists at his sides as the images of her making love with that bastard hit him. He had known they weren’t far behind the others but this was the first time they had managed to get past his defenses and he couldn’t shield them from his mind’s eye. His heart pounded, his stomach turned in a nauseating roll, and his hands were clenched so tightly they hurt. It was jealousy and he knew it, but he hated that any other man had touched her, hated that he had intimate knowledge of her that should belong to him alone.

But he wasn’t just some other man, his conscience whispered. He was you. Even at the end she had been plagued with warring feelings of love and guilt. Getting involved with his counterpart wasn’t something she had done lightly. It had torn her apart on a constant basis; every bit of happiness she had felt had been tainted by the guilt. He had to let it go and he knew it; obsessing over this thing was allowing jealousy to eat him alive.

He forced his eyes open and inhaled deeply, taking in deep lungfuls of the cold desert air. It had happened in a different timeline. Even though he would prefer to have not seen those images he knew what lengths she would go to if it meant there was any possibility that she could save his life. He couldn’t really fault her for becoming involved with his counterpart. The man was, in some form at least, him. And even though the man had been a jerk he had protected her and kept her safe in a universe that was unfamiliar to her.

He nodded to himself as the pieces finally fell together for him and he was able to take them and put them away. She had done what was necessary to survive, and in the course of her journey her heart had gotten involved and she had taken solace in the arms of another version of him. All that really mattered was that she had saved him, and in the process, saved both of them. He looked around the rocky ground one last time before retracing his steps and returning to the house.

Once inside he stood in the doorway to their bedroom, watching Maria sleep. She was frowning, her left arm stretching out across the mattress in search of him. He smiled as he sat down on the side of the bed and in less than a heartbeat her hand found his and she sighed contentedly. He would’ve been content to sit there the rest of the night just watching her as she slept but after a few moments the frown returned to her face and her eyes flickered a couple of times before opening. She blinked and looked around fuzzily before her green eyes landed on him.

“You’re freezing, Michael,” she mumbled, still half-asleep. “Why didn’t you wear your coat?”

The words, meant to be chastising were slurred but filled with concern.

“I will next time,” he promised.

She clumsily fumbled with his shirt and he quickly stripped it off and threw it on the floor as he shoved the covers back and let her pull him down into her arms. She pulled at the covers and he reached over her to grab them before tugging her up against him and feeling warmth seep into his body. “Love you,” she said, the words muffled against his chest.

He kissed her forehead and rubbed his hands over her arms. “Love you too, Maria.” He felt sleep tugging at him and for the first time since he had run into her future self out on the road he felt like he would sleep through the night peacefully. They were finally where they belonged and he knew they would be careful to make sure nothing came between them.

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ArchAngel1973
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The Man Who Didn't Belong (M/M,Mature) Ch 86 - 9/6/14

Postby ArchAngel1973 » Sat Sep 06, 2014 7:24 pm

keepsmiling7: Thanks for reading! Yes, Michael will listen to Maria next time, lol.


Ending Two, Part 10 (or Part 86)

Darkness surrounded her and an agonized scream fought to free itself from the confines of her chest as she stared at Michael’s lifeless body. The darkness made no sense because she was aware of faint sunlight breaking through the clouds overhead. She could feel the cool air against her skin and hear the rushing of the recently filled river behind her but it held a surreal quality.

The only thing that felt real was the pain radiating out from every nerve ending as she reached out to touch Michael’s face. His skin was cold to the touch and it sent shivers racing through her entire body. Her hand slid down to rest over his heart and she swallowed with difficulty at the lack of movement beneath her palm. He was gone. The thing that made him a living, breathing being was gone.

“It’s not real.” She spoke the words aloud, needing to hear them, needing them to erase the scene before her and make it true. She forced herself to her feet and backed away from him, stumbling over the loose rocks beneath the soles of her shoes. She turned and started to run, unaware of the low tree limbs brushing against her, the leafless branches clawing at her as if they were trying to make her stay.

She suddenly broke free of the wooded area, tripping over something heavy and feeling the breath leave her lungs in an almost painful rush when she collided with a solid object. Before she could back away her upper arms were gripped painfully and she was shoved back but not released. Her heart was pounding so fast she couldn’t catch her breath and as she looked up she felt it nearly stutter to a halt.

“Michael.”

He stared at her but in spite of the fact that it was his eyes she knew it wasn’t him. She cocked her head to one side as she studied his harsh features. It wasn’t him but at the same time… it was. He looked confused. Despite the cold demeanor she could see the warring emotions in his dark eyes. Disbelief, confusion, fear, anger… love. She would recognize that emotion no matter how deeply buried it was and when her muscles shifted, indicating her intent to move her arm he released her.

“You’re him,” she whispered softly as she touched the warm flesh of his face.

His eyes traced over her, his brow furrowed as he tried to make sense of what he was seeing. “You can’t be here,” he said hoarsely.

Maria shook her head in an effort to understand what was happening. This wasn’t real. It was a dream. Or a nightmare, she wasn’t sure which. Michael was dead, but he wasn’t. The emotions rolling off of the man standing before her were so intense they were almost physical. “It’s just a dream.”

“If you’re here then something went wrong in your universe.”

Anger suddenly flooded his features again but she didn’t understand it. She could feel the tension in his taut body and she brought her other hand up to rest against his cheek. “This isn’t real,” she assured him.

“Bullshit!” he snapped but didn’t pull away from her touch. “I’ve gone back in time and I’ve made sure Max and Isabel won’t be killed going back to Roswell. The only way I can be seeing you is if we’ve failed. If the mission was a success you’d be…” he mentally did the math, “…eight or nine years old.” His dark eyes moved over her heatedly and he shook his head in denial. “Something’s not right though. You’re not… you’re not her.”

She wasn’t sure she understood what he was talking about. “Not who?”

“Maria.”

“I am Maria,” she insisted.

He shook his head again. “You’re not my Maria.”

She swallowed hard at the sadness in eyes that were so familiar and yet so different at the same time. “She didn’t fail,” she whispered. “You’re alive in my universe. When the Granolith returned her… me… it allowed her the opportunity to intercept Michael on his way to work the day before the accident.”

“She convinced him,” he murmured as his eyes traced over her face.

Maria watched as different emotions raced across his face but this time relief was the one most prominent. She held her breath when he lifted his right hand to cradle her cheek and she unconsciously rubbed her face against the unfamiliarly calloused palm. “Thank you,” she said quietly.

“I didn’t do anything.”

“You had the strength to let her go.” She rested her palm over his heart, feeling sadness overwhelm her at the dull thud that matched the grief in his eyes.

“It wasn’t my choice alone,” he said after a while. “She would’ve been free in my universe. She could’ve been with me openly, without fear that federal agents would come knocking down the door in the middle of the night.”

“It hurt her to leave you.” Maria knew that with certainty. “But she knew you had the better chance of surviving and being happy.”

“Happiness is overrated,” he bit out.

“Is it?” she countered, standing her ground when he looked ready to explode at her question. “You said you’ve been successful – “

He interrupted with a wave of his hand. “So far. It’s not over yet.”

“What more – “

“Why does it matter? She’s gone and you have your life back.”

“But she’s not gone!”

“She is gone,” he denied angrily. “She’ll never exist.”

Maria opened her mouth to disagree with him but the wind suddenly picked up, whipping through the trees around them and whisking his words away. She was straining to hear him, uselessly trying to understand what he was telling her, but the noise overrode his voice and as she watched he was pulled away, sucked into the dark of night. She looked around as the wind abated as quickly as it had escalated and she was surrounded by a deafening silence. The feeling of loss hit her all over again and she raised her voice to call for him.


Michael was pulled out of a deep sleep when a scream ripped through the night and every sense went into overdrive as he scanned the dark recesses of the bedroom he shared with Maria. He reached out to her as he mentally checked off every possible threat and discarded it. He pulled her into his arms and called her name, trying to wake her without scaring her.

Tears were escaping from her closed eyes to trail over her cheeks and he wondered what was bothering her so badly that it had intruded on her sleeping mind. He called her again and shook her as he reached up to gently brush the tears away.

“Michael,” she gasped as she came awake, throwing her arms around him and holding onto him tightly.

He held her close, running his hands over her back and trying to calm her down. Her body was shaking and he knew whatever the nightmare was it had been intense. Even as the tremors began to subside he could feel how taut her muscles remained in spite of his attempts to soothe her.

“Wanna tell me about it?” he murmured against her temple. Her hands, fisted against his bare back, clenched tighter as she drew in a deep, gulping breath.

“I saw him.”

He leaned back and angled his head to look at her. “Who?”

“You in that other universe.”

“Maria, I don’t think that’s possible.”

“I know what I saw, Michael!”

He grabbed her hand and held her still when she started to pull away. “Tell me what happened.” She had listened to him when he had returned home with a fantastic story about being intercepted by a future version of her so the least her could do was listen to what she had to say.

“He was you, but different. He was relieved that the Maria he sent back had been able to alter events and save your life but he was so hurt and angry because she was gone. He kept saying she would never exist.”

“She won’t,” he said quietly. “Think about it, Maria. The version of you he knew will never exist. She went to his universe and what she went through there would’ve changed her, made her… different. Even if he succeeds in changing things in his universe, that version of you won’t be the woman he knew.” He lay back against the pillows with her in his arms and yawned widely.

Maria snuggled close to him, listening to the reassuring beat of his heart and savoring the feeling of his skin against hers. “He was in love with her.”

“Of course he was.” He shrugged one shoulder, jostling her.

“If he succeeds in changing his universe, he won’t be the same person either,” she mused. “They’ll still find each other, don’t you think?”

“Can you imagine the two of us in any universe where we’re not together?”

She smiled and rubbed her cheek against his chest. “No.” She sobered as her mind went back to the beginning of the nightmare.

“What’re you thinkin’ about?” he asked when she became too quiet.

“You were dead. I saw you…” She reached up to rub her chest, trying to ease the ache there. “It was like I could feel that you weren’t there anymore. You were gone and I couldn’t bring you back.”

“You did bring me back, Maria.” He kissed the top of her head and rubbed his hand over her arm. “I’m here.”

She smiled when she felt the familiar calluses on his palm rasping against her skin. “Let’s stay in tonight. Just make dinner and watch a movie or something.”

Michael decided not to comment on the fact that most of the time when they went out it was for groceries or some other necessary thing. “Whatever you want.”

Maria sighed and closed her eyes as his heartbeat slowly lulled her back to sleep. She had come so close to losing him, so close to being left alone, and by some miracle she had been spared that loss. “Don’t ever leave me, Michael,” she murmured.

“Never gonna leave you, Maria,” he vowed. He smiled and tightened his hold on her for a moment before relaxing it again so he wouldn’t wake her.

*****

Michael stared at the woman he held at arms’ length, his sharp gaze assessing as he did his best to hide his shock. He didn’t understand what was going on but he knew she wasn’t his Maria. She was the same woman, but at the same time she wasn’t. It was a part of him he only recognized because of his time with Maria rejoiced at seeing her alive, but the rational part of him balked, refusing to believe it.

“You’re him.”

He could sense her amazement as she reached out to touch him as if to confirm that he were real even as he was struggling to make sense of what he was seeing. “You can’t be here,” he said hoarsely. “If you’re here then something went wrong in your universe.” He felt the anger erupt inside of him. Anger at the Granolith for screwing them over, anger at himself for letting her go, and even anger at her for going. He heard her deny that the moment was real and it enraged him.

He jerked away from her, unable to stand her touch. “I’ve gone back in time and I’ve made sure Max and Isabel won’t be killed going back to Roswell. The only way I can be seeing you is if we’ve failed. If the mission was a success you’d be…” he mentally did the math, “…eight or nine years old.” His dark eyes moved over her heatedly and he shook his head in denial. “Something’s not right though. You’re not… you’re not her.”

“Not who?”

He saw the confusion on her face as she voiced the question and it had hurt to deny what he was seeing. “Maria.”

“I am Maria,” she insisted.

He shook his head again. “You’re not my Maria.” Suddenly he understood exactly what Maria had meant when she had insisted on referring to the Michael she had known in her universe as ‘her Michael’.

“She didn’t fail,” she whispered. “You’re alive in my universe. When the Granolith returned her… me… it allowed her the opportunity to intercept Michael on his way to work the day before the accident.”

“She convinced him,” he murmured as his eyes traced over her face. He watched her, not missing it when she held her breath as he lifted his right hand to cradle her cheek. He felt an ache deep inside when she rubbed her face against the unfamiliarly calloused palm.

“Thank you,” she said quietly.

He didn’t understand why she was thanking him. “I didn’t do anything.”

“You had the strength to let her go.”

He swallowed hard when she rested her palm over his heart and he wondered what was causing her sadness. “It wasn’t my choice alone,” he said after a while. “She would’ve been free in my universe. She could’ve been with me openly, without fear that federal agents would come knocking down the door in the middle of the night.”

“It hurt her to leave you,” she said with certainty. “But she knew you had the better chance of surviving and being happy.”

“Happiness is overrated,” he bit out.

“Is it? You said you’ve been successful – “

He interrupted with a wave of his hand. “So far. It’s not over yet.”

“What more – “

“Why does it matter? She’s gone and you have your life back.” He resented her for that, hated that this other version of her had what he and his Maria had been denied.

“But she’s not gone!”


“She is gone,” he denied angrily. “She’ll never exist.” He saw her open her mouth to disagree but the wind suddenly picked up. He could feel the darkness pulling at him and somewhere inside of him he welcomed it. She was gone. This woman standing before him wasn’t the woman he loved. She was… but she wasn’t. The darkness finally pulled him away and he felt himself falling.

Michael awoke with a start and he pushed himself up, shaking his head and looking around to get his bearings. “Sonofabitch,” he muttered and rubbed his shoulder where it had impacted with the floor when he had fallen out of bed.

He got to his feet and went to the bathroom, leaving the light off as he turned the faucet on and splashed water in his face. Where had that dream come from? It had felt so real but at the same time he didn’t believe it was possible. If it had been real that meant that his Maria had ceased to exist and that thought hurt. It also meant that somehow, some way, the Granolith had given her the opportunity to alter events in her universe and save his counterpart. If the dream were real, then she had saved his life, and although the woman he loved no longer existed, their younger selves had the chance to live their lives out together.

Michael walked out of the bathroom, drying his face on a hand towel, and moving to the window that looked out over the parking lot. His gaze settled on the blue car down below and he smirked to himself. He had managed to hitch a ride with a truck driver heading out west and gotten off when the man stopped at a truck stop in Dallas. Finding out where the Evans family was staying only took a matter of a few minutes once he had gotten his hands on a computer and hacked into the father’s bank account to check his recent transactions.

People should really lock their private information up even in their homes, he mused as he scratched the back of his head. He wondered if people knew just how easy it was to steal and access that information. He sat down at the table by the window and took his confiscated gun out, breaking it down to clean it. It was mindless work, something he could do in his sleep, but he knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep anymore after that dream.

He didn’t understand why he had let her go. He should’ve just said screw it and kept her with him. He could’ve kept her safe. The woman you saw wasn’t the woman you knew, he reminded himself. She wasn’t the woman who knew you. She had seemed to feel sad for him, but he could sense the underlying relief that her Michael was alive and well. She had somehow recognized him but she hadn’t known him beyond that.

He shoved those thoughts away. He couldn’t risk bogging himself down with a bunch of confusing, emotional crap. He needed to keep his senses sharp because his mission wasn’t yet complete. He still had things to do and he had come too far to just throw it all away now.

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ArchAngel1973
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The Man Who Didn't Belong (M/M,Mature) Ch 87 - 9/14/14

Postby ArchAngel1973 » Sun Sep 14, 2014 10:00 am

keepsmiling7: Yes, dreams and aliens were always a big part of the show so we used that. Accomplishing his mission or not? Hmm, it’s Michael, what do you think?


Ending Two, Part 11 (or Part 87)

Isabel stretched and yawned widely as she opened her eyes and looked around. She couldn’t remember getting home so she knew it must’ve been late the night before because she was tucked in her own bed in her own bedroom. The sun was streaming in through the windows, the curtains pulled back to let the light in. She got up and blindly felt around the floor with her toes, searching for her fuzzy pink slippers and sighing happily when she found them. She slipped her feet into them and looked down at the bunny faces, smiling when she wiggled her toes and made the little whiskers dance.

She reached for the door that had been pulled nearly closed and jerked her hand back when she felt like she wasn’t alone. Suddenly feeling wide awake she slowly turned around and her wide-eyed gaze searched her room. She bit her bottom lip as she paused on her closet and a moment later on the dark space beneath her bed. She waited a moment, her gaze bouncing back and forth between the two possible hiding spaces before she shook the feeling off and hurried out of her room.

She pushed her brother’s bedroom door open and walked right in, absentmindedly kicking a basketball across the floor. Her attention was drawn to it when it rolled into the tower built out of an old set of Construx and the creation toppled over, hitting the floor and sending pieces flying everywhere. She rolled her eyes when Max didn’t even move at the disturbance. She was just about to jump on his bed and give him a rude awakening when she heard Daddy clearing his throat behind her.

Her features relaxed into pure innocence as she turned to look up at him, giving him the angelic smile she had perfected. “Good morning, Daddy.”

Philip’s expression softened as he motioned for her to come with him. “Why don’t we let Max sleep in this morning and we’ll go see what’s for breakfast?”

Her hand slid into his as she fell into step beside him. “Do you have to go back to work now?”

“I’ll run in to the office for a bit this morning just to make sure the place didn’t burn down without me.”

She laughed at his comment, knowing he didn’t mean it like that. “Daddy, why don’t grownups get summer vacation like kids do?”

“Because someone has to pay the bills and you don’t get paid for not working,” he answered as they stepped into the kitchen. He smiled indulgently when the subject was dropped as she ran over to her mother and nearly lost one of the pink bunny slippers she would deny owning if it ever got out. He chuckled quietly and made himself a cup of coffee, snatching up the morning paper, and settling down at the breakfast table.

He looked up from the stock report when his son came shuffling in, his hair standing on end, one leg of his pajama bottoms hung up around his calf, and yawning widely. “Morning, son.” He sipped his coffee and shook his head at the half-asleep, mumbled response the boy gave and went back to perusing the paper.

Isabel glanced at her brother, rolling her eyes at his appearance. “You’re such a slob.”

“Shut up,” he muttered as he leaned against the counter next to Mom.

“You two stop it,” Diane said as she handed her son a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice and sent him over to sit at the table with Philip.

“Mom, can we go to the park today?”

“Well…” she turned the eggs in the pan and glanced at her children when Max posed the question. It was a question she dreaded but she and Philip had discussed it and he was confident they were old enough to walk to the park and spend a little time there on their own. She controlled the urge to roll her eyes when her husband cleared his throat and snapped his newspaper, knowing full well he was trying to get her attention. Men just did not understand things from a woman’s perspective. “Alright, but you know you have to check in and you’ll need to be home for lunch.” And after they did their chores around the house that wouldn’t leave them a phenomenal amount of time alone at the park.

*****

Max kicked a rock across the ground as he followed his bossy sister to the park. He just didn’t understand why Mom let her be in charge. He was old enough to be the one in charge, to be the one to decide where they would go to play. But no, Mom said Isabel was in charge so instead of going to the school playground with the cool new slide they were going to the park with the old playground and the same old slide that had been there for as long as he could remember.

“C’mon, Max, you’re walking too slow!” Isabel ordered.

“You’re not the boss of me,” he declared and kicked another rock.

She stopped walking and whirled around to face him as she crossed her arms over her chest. “I am so the boss of you and Mom said you have to do what I say.”

“I like the other playground better.”

“You just wanna go there ‘cause Liz Parker’s probably there.” She rolled her eyes. She didn’t know why her brother was always staring at the other girl but if Liz Parker was anywhere around Max was going to be watching her with that goofy look on his face. “And you’ve got a crush on her!”

“I like the slide better,” he said, shoving his hands in his pockets. So he thought Liz Parker was nice. So what? At least his sister didn’t tease him about it in front of anyone else. It was kind of an unspoken rule that he took comfort in.

“Liar, liar, pants on fire!”

He didn’t have a comeback. He didn’t even know how to respond to her taunt. He could tell he wasn’t going to win an argument with her. He never did. He just sighed and gave in when she shot a triumphant smile at him. He couldn’t wait until one day when she liked a boy. Not that any boy would ever like her back, he thought as he started to follow her once more. She was so bossy and no boy liked that. He was a boy and he knew he didn’t like her when she was all bossy.

Isabel settled into one of the swings while Max went off to the slide and she wrapped her hands around the chains and dug her toes into the sand as she pushed herself. She loved the swings, loved the feeling of freedom as she flew through the air. The sky was a perfect shade of blue, the few trees scattered around the playground leafy and green, and the air was warm against her skin. The chains creaked as she began to swing in earnest and she closed her eyes as she turned her face to the sun.

She felt that itchy sensation at the back of her neck and her eyes snapped open. She scanned the playground carefully, certain that someone was watching her. She lowered her legs, letting the toes of her shoes drag through the sand to slowly bring her to a stop. Her gaze sought out Max and she spotted him sitting at the top of the slide, his legs dangling over the sides and swinging through the air. Her senses were tingling as she stood and walked over to the slide, climbing up the steps to stand behind her brother.

“What’re you doin’ now?” he asked, annoyed when she came up and started crowding him.

“Don’t you feel it?”

“Feel what?” He scowled and rubbed the back of his neck. “Quit breathin’ on me!”

“I think he’s here.”

Max paused, his irritation with his sister temporarily forgotten as he turned his head to look at her. “The man in your dream?”

“I think he was in our house, Max. I had that weird feeling when I got up this morning, like he had been there. It’s the same feeling that I got when I had the dream.”

He frowned. “How come you didn’t say anything to Mom an’ Dad?”

“I don’t know.”

“Did you touch stuff an’ see him?”

She chewed on her thumbnail. “No. But you get the flashy things more than I do. Maybe when Mom goes to the store later you can try.”

He made a face. “Mom won’t buy the good cookies if we don’t go with her.”

“This’s more important than your stupid stomach, Max!”

“Okay, but if she doesn’t buy the good ones it’s gonna be your fault and I’m not gonna talk to you no more.”

“Good.”

From his hiding place Michael watched them and shook his head. The success of his mission rested on the shoulders of these two children. What the hell was the Granolith thinking? He should’ve thought to insist on Maria accompanying him on this mission prior to her being returned to her universe. She knew what to do with children, how to talk to them, and he was sure these two would’ve been a lot more comfortable with her than him.

He watched them a while longer before deciding this wasn’t the right moment. The playground was too open and surrounded by nice little houses with nosy people peering out the windows or looking over their perfectly-trimmed hedges to monitor what was going on around them. He was going to have to wait a little longer.

*****

Max moved around the living room, picking things up, touching things, and trying to find anything that would indicate that a stranger had been in their house. He’d done the same thing in his bedroom and in Isabel’s and so far nothing had yielded the desired result. Isabel was following him around, hanging over his shoulder and bossing him like she always did.

“Hurry up, Max. Mom’s gonna be home soon!” Isabel said impatiently.

He smirked and intentionally slowed his pace just to annoy her. He had been trying to get a flash from things since Mom had left to go to the grocery store instead of watching cartoons and he was ready to quit. “This’s stupid, Iz.”

“Just keep going. He was in our house so he had to touch something.”

He stepped up on the hearth in front of the fireplace and held onto the mantle as he stretched up on his tiptoes to touch the pictures there. His fingertips brushed over the frames one at a time as he moved down. He stared at the back of his hand as he shifted further down, barely paying any attention because he was tired of this and wanted to go watch cartoons before they went off for the afternoon.

Isabel jumped backwards when Max suddenly jerked his hand away from the picture he had been touching. Her right hand shot out without thinking and the handful of pictures he had knocked over floated to the ground where they settled without breaking. “It’s that one,” she said excitedly as she pointed to the one of her brother and dad standing next to their car. “That’s the one you were touching!”

Max momentarily forgot about his annoyance with her for being taller than him and he reached for the picture when she held it out to him. He looked up as the room around him shifted into shadowy darkness and his heart started to pound when he saw the man standing there holding the picture. His face was caught in the moonlight coming in through the window across from the fireplace and Max stood frozen to the spot when the man looked up before replacing the picture on the mantle and walking out of the room.

Isabel watched her brother as he held onto the picture and started to walk to the doorway. She hurried to follow him and she remained silent when he went into the kitchen and stood there, staring. She turned her head when she heard a car and she ran to look out the living room window. When she saw Mom she ran back to the kitchen and grabbed her brother’s shoulder. “Max! Max, Mom’s home.”

He released the picture when she tugged on it and they rushed into the living room, righting the pictures and throwing themselves on the floor in front of the television just as the front door opened. “Think you can try the dream thing tonight?” he whispered.

She nodded. “Maybe I can make the connection using the picture since we know he touched it.”

“I gotta be there too, Iz. He looked scary.”

“He was kinda scary but I think he’s sad too, Max. Really sad but I don’t know why.”

He made a face. “I think he’s just scary.”

She shrugged, unconcerned with her brother’s opinion. “We’ll try it tonight.”

“Max, Isabel, why don’t you two come give me a hand with these groceries,” Diane called as she walked into the living room and saw them lying on the floor watching cartoons. “Once everything’s put away we’ll have a snack.”

That was all the incentive Max needed.

*****

Michael walked past the fountain at the entrance to the city park, restlessness keeping him on the move. He had gone back to the hotel after leaving the playground but he hadn’t been able to sit still. He had finally given up trying and decided to go for a walk. He needed to get the kids alone so he could talk to them but so far the right opportunity hadn’t presented itself. He knew he had to handle the meeting the right way because they were nine years old and he was a 25-year-old man. It wouldn’t look right for a man his age to be caught talking to a couple of children. He sighed and rubbed his hand over his face. He hated complications.

He drew up short when a kid on a skateboard cut across his path and he cursed out loud. He reached out and grabbed the boy by the back of his shirt, jerking him off of his skateboard and hauling him around to look at him face-to-face.

“Hey man, hands off!” the teenager yelled.

“Watch where you’re goin’ you little sonofabitch,” Michael snarled. “Come by me again and I’ll shove that skateboard up your ass.” He shoved the kid away and smirked to himself when he snatched the board up and ran across the street, shooting a furtive glance over his shoulder as if he was afraid he might be following.

“That wasn’t a very nice thing to say.”

He looked down at the little girl standing there with a plastic dish of ice cream and the angry response died on his tongue when she trained a pair of deep green eyes on him. He simply shrugged when he couldn’t come up with a suitable response. “You live around here?”

“Do you?” she countered and sat down on a nearby bench. “’Cause I’ve never seen you before and I know everybody in Roswell.”

He lifted an eyebrow at that. “Everybody?” he echoed.

She wrinkled her nose and shifted around to settle back against the bench. “Mostly everybody.” She shrugged. “But I don’t know you.” She looked up at him when he didn’t introduce himself. “Who are you?”

“Just visiting.”

“You have friends here? Family? Or are you just here to see the aliens?” She took a bite of her ice cream and studied him thoughtfully.

His lips quirked up in the barest of smirks at her inquisitive questions. “You have aliens here?”

“Duh,” she said and rolled her eyes. “It’s Roswell.” When he didn’t say anything she shrugged. “They’re not really real but my best friend Liz, she has a picture of one.”

“A real one?”

She laughed and shook her head. “It’s this really funny looking thing that she says is an alien. She tells people her grandma took the picture before the crash got cleaned up by the government. People always believe her though ‘cause she can keep a straight face when she’s tellin’ that story. I know better though.”

He watched her and after a few minutes he sat down at the opposite end of the bench. “Sounds like you’re pretty smart.”

“Uh-huh, I am.” Her tone was matter-of-fact and she fell silent as she finished her ice cream. “I gotta go now. My mom and me are gonna go to a movie and then we’re go home and make pizza. Mom makes the best homemade pizza. One day when I’m all grown up I get to have her secret recipe. I just hope I make it as good as she does.” She slid down off of the bench and dropped the plastic dish and spoon in the trash. “Bye,” she waved as she took off down the street.

He leaned back against the bench and watched her until he disappeared from sight. Even knowing how small the town was he hadn’t expected to run into a nine-year-old Maria. Even as a child she was opinionated and talked a mile a minute. There were six years difference in their ages in the current timeline and he knew she was going to drive his 15-year-old self to the edge of insanity. He had known it before but now… oh, she was going to make him crazy.

He got up and against his will his thoughts went back over the conversation he’d had with her. His mind slipped back to his own kitchen and his Maria rolling out dough for a pizza. She had told him it was her mom’s recipe, rolling her eyes and admitting that some of the spicier ingredients were her own additions when he had snorted. She had taken his beer from him, stolen a quick sip, and then handed it back before giving him a teasing grin and going back to work on the pizza.

He wondered if she would be as good a cook in his universe. He shook himself, pushing the memory away. He couldn’t afford to get lost in the past… future… whatever. He left the park and headed back to the hotel. He would have something for dinner, try and work out a plan for meeting the kids, and then catch some shuteye. And if he happened to catch up with Maria while he was sleeping, well, there wasn’t much he could do about that, was there?

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ArchAngel1973
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The Man Who Didn't Belong (M/M,Mature) Ch 88 - 9/21/14

Postby ArchAngel1973 » Sun Sep 21, 2014 3:13 pm

keepsmiling7: Yes, it’s funny that despite being aliens, or half-aliens, they are also so humans. They behave naturally like any other human children do. Good thing, right?

About Michael and little Maria… strange, isn’t it? Life sure likes to throw little surprises like this one.


Ending Two, Part 12 (or Part 88)

Max waited until his parents had been in bed for a while before he crept out into the hallway and tiptoed down the hall. He pressed himself up against the wall and squeezed past the squeaky floorboards and then ducked into Isabel’s room. He shut the door as quietly as possible and then ran over to her bed, jumping up on it and shaking her.

“Hey, Iz,” he whispered loudly.

“Cut it out, Max,” she hissed as she sat up. “Gimme the picture.”

“Um… I forgot it.”

“Well, go get it. And be quiet!”

He narrowed his eyes at her but got down off of the bed and went over to the door, pulling it open and sneaking down the hallway again. He crept along, pretending he was a secret agent who was charged with retrieving some secret device. Or maybe an adventurer like Indiana Jones searching for some great treasure and fighting off the bad guys. The fate of the universe was in his hands and he had to remove the artifact and return to the safety of his camp where the… He paused for a moment, his hands inches from the picture frame as he thought up a role for Isabel. She could be… he shrugged when nothing cool came to mind. Anyway, he would take the artifact to the witchdoctor and she would reveal its truth with her secret powers. He grinned at his clever imagination and resumed his adventure as he hurried across the living room and down the hall, careful to watch out for imaginary snakes.

Isabel was waiting impatiently when he squeezed into her room and closed the door again. “What took you so long?” she demanded.

He didn’t bother answering, silently congratulating himself for the successful completion of his mission as he presented the artifact to the witchdoctor. He ignored her when she snatched the artifact from his hands without a single word of thanks. Witchdoctors were always rude and mean, everyone knew that. He just grinned and climbed up on the bed to sit beside her while she ran her fingers over the picture and looked at him like he was crazy.

She just looked at him and shook her head. “You are so weird, Max.”

“Am not.”

“Are so.”

“Just do the dream thing,” he interrupted, familiar with the am-not, are-so argument and knowing well that it could last for hours.

“Shut up so I can think.” She took the picture frame and held it in her hands, staring down at it and frowning when her mind remained blank. “Okay, you had the flash and saw him while you were holding this picture so…” she pushed the frame in his hands, “I think you should hold the picture and concentrate on it, try to get another flash, and I’ll try to do the dream thing and connect with you.”

That sounded pretty complicated. “Is that gonna work?”

“It’s the only way I can think of to try to connect with him. I still don’t know how it happened that night I dreamed about him so we’re gonna try it this way.”

He shrugged. “Okay.”

They lay down side by side and she waited until she could tell that Max had made the connection before she ran her fingertip over her brother’s face in the picture. She closed her eyes and reached out with her mind, searching for that tiny flicker that rose up in the darkness. She moved toward it and felt the warmth of her brother’s presence as the light began to spread, slowly expanding until it lit up the planes of his subconscious.

Max had a beautiful mind. He was warm and loving, and being on the dreamplane with him made her feel safe and comforted. Really it was how she felt with him most of the time. Not that she would ever tell him that. But many of the people she connected with on the dreamplane lacked that light and that warmth. As she began to look around trees began to appear along with a lake surrounded by craggy outcroppings of rock. She recognized the landscape and knew it was the lake where Daddy and Max went fishing sometimes. She wrinkled her nose. She hated fishing. The worms, sitting in that tiny boat being quiet and still, and then the ugly fish with their mouths gaping open as they dangled from a hook, she hated all of it.

She moved across the rocky ground when she recognized her brother’s form up ahead and she broke into a run to reach him faster. “Max,” she called when she finally stood beside him. She touched his arm when he didn’t speak or look at her. “Max, look at me.”

“We have to follow him,” he murmured, raising his right hand and pointing at something in the distance.

She turned her head to follow his pointing finger and she felt some of the warmth being pulled away as a shadowy figure began to emerge from the darkening edges of the dreamplane. She felt a moment of trepidation as she looked at her brother. His eyes were locked on the man as if he couldn’t look away. And maybe he couldn’t, she realized. Maybe they would lose their connection to him if Max looked away from him. “Okay, let’s go.”

They set off in the man’s direction and she reached for her brother’s hand as the calm of the dreamscape began to change. The longer they followed him the darker the landscape became and the more uneasy she began to feel. The trees that had been bursting with friendly green leaves playfully dancing on the light breeze had changed and now resembled blackened shells, their branches devoid of leaves and reaching out to each other to form an intimidating wall that surrounded them on all sides.

They were getting closer to the man and she squeezed her brother’s hand tighter. She was curious but she was also afraid. The man’s mind was powerful, it was dark, and it overshadowed Max’s dreamplane. She had visited the subconscious of many people but she had never been in one so dark.

“Isabel, look.”

Her eyes widened when light rose in the distance and she swallowed hard. “What do you think it is?”

Max shrugged. “I don’t know.”

They reached the outer edges of the light and they hovered there, hiding in the shadows as they looked in on the scene. The landscape had given way to a large airy room, and in the center the man stood facing a dark blue couch. He moved suddenly and the children looked at each other when they saw the woman sitting there.

“Who’s she?” he murmured quietly.

“I don’t know. But you’re not looking at him now, Max.”

“What’s that mean?”

“I don’t think we’re on your dreamplane anymore. I think it’s his.” She looked around, taking in the setting. Her brother’s dreamplane was always filled with light, never darkness.

He frowned. “But how? You’ve never done that before, right?”

“No, I didn’t even know you could do that but I think we did.”

“Do they know we’re here?”

“I don’t think so. I mean, it’s never happened before.” She was confused by the change but she knew they had to find out who the man was if possible. “Shh, let’s listen to what they’re saying.”

They crept around the room, careful to stay in the shadows as they watched the couple in the center of the light. The man looked angry as he paced back and forth and the woman looked calm as she watched him.

“You’ve saved their lives, Michael, but to complete your mission you have to talk to them,” the woman said quietly. “You prevented the accident when they returned from vacationing in Florida and now you have to make sure they understand how to prevent Liz and myself from dying. If the mission is to succeed you’re going to have to speak with them in person.”

Max and Isabel exchanged a look.

“They’re talking about us,” Isabel said in a shocked murmur.

“She said Liz is gonna die!” Max exclaimed in a loud whisper.

The man, Michael, paused in his pacing to turn and look at the woman. “Maria, I don’t know how to talk to them! Put me in front of a crazed religious fanatic, a warlord, a band of rebels, or any other armed threat and I know how to deal with it. I’ve talked to presidents, dignitaries, and any number of military leaders, but I have no idea what to do with two nine-year-olds!”

“Michael,” her voice was calm, “the three of you share something very significant. Something no one else on this planet has in common with you. You need them and they don’t know it yet but they’re gonna need you too. The future depends on the three of you working together, saving the others, and making sure when the time comes you’re ready to do what’s necessary to save this planet.”

Max’s eyes widened. “Save the planet,” he whispered. He looked at his sister, awestruck. “We’re like real superheroes, Isabel.”

She glanced at him. “You think so?”

“That’s what she just said. Who else could save the planet?” And save Liz Parker.

“But how am I supposed to explain this stuff to a couple of nine-year-olds?” Michael asked.

Maria leaned forward and caught his hand, tugging on it, and he complied with the silent request. He sat beside her, his body angled towards her and his arm resting along the back of the couch behind her. She reached up to place her hand alongside his jaw, keeping his gaze on hers. “You can do this. They’re nine-year-old children, but they’re not your average human children. Max and Isabel have an alien side and that’ll allow them to process information that a normal nine-year-old wouldn’t be able to understand. They won’t understand all of it because it’s a lot to take in but when you talk to them, just answer their questions. And trust me, I know Max and Isabel Evans, they’re gonna have questions.”

Max and Isabel stared at each other. “They know about us!” they whispered at the same time.

“I should’ve told that damn piece of alien technology that you were coming back with me before I let you go.” His eyes traced over her face. “You traveled from one universe to another, so what would it have mattered if you’d traveled back in time to help me do this before going back to your universe?”

“That’s not the way it was supposed to happen.”

“Let’s not talk about this anymore.” He shifted closer to her. “We can talk about it later.”

She laughed, the sound warm and friendly. “I think we’ve done all we’re gonna do tonight.”

He frowned at that and leaned back to look at her when she placed a hand against his chest to stop him from moving in closer. “It’s a dream… there’re no limits in dreams.”

“But there are when you have company.”

“What?” His eyes narrowed and he slowly shifted to follow her gaze when she nodded at something over his shoulder. He froze when he saw the two children hiding in the shadows and he shook his head as the darkness suddenly began to close in. He jerked around to look at Maria but she disappeared just as he reached out for her.

Isabel and Max sat up in bed, their hearts beating fast and their breath coming in pants as they looked at each other.

“Nothing like that ever happened before,” Isabel said. “They shouldn’t have been able to see us or even know we were there.”

“But they did.” Max flopped back against the pillow and stared up at the ceiling. “They said we’ve gotta save Liz,” he said slowly.

Isabel rolled her eyes. Of course that would be the one thing he would focus on. The two people had talked about saving the planet and had known she and Max were aliens, but was he concerned about either of those things? No, because his secret crush had been mentioned. He was probably daydreaming about her right now, imagining her as Lois Clark and him as Superman flying in to save the day. She made a mental gagging sound before moving forward.

“How’re we gonna find him to talk to him?” she asked.

“I think he’s gonna find us. But Iz,” he rolled onto his stomach to look at her, “Mom an’ Dad aren’t gonna let us talk to some man they don’t know.”

“I know. We’ve gotta come up with a way to talk to him.”

“We could ride our bikes over by where the railroad tracks are. Mom an’ Dad never caught us out there.” They had discovered the old path through a wooded area back behind the high school and they had spent plenty of Saturdays exploring along the tracks.

“Yeah, we could do that.” She lay down beside him and closed her eyes. “Maybe we could think about it tomorrow,” she said tiredly.

“Okay.” Max yawned and curled up on his side.

Isabel nearly gave him a push and told him to go back to his own room but after the dreamwalk she didn’t want to be alone. Instead she reached for the picture and set it aside before turning onto her side and wiggling under the blankets. She was exhausted after exerting herself to connect with Max for the dreamwalk and within minutes she was asleep.

*****

Michael sat up on the couch and ran a hand through his hair. Sometimes he really hated dreams. He hadn’t minded that one so much until it had been invaded by a couple of kids and they had ruined his plans and chased Maria away. He remembered Maria telling him that Isabel had the ability to go into people’s dreams but he didn’t understand how that worked exactly. He was sure if the person she was intruding on could be made aware of her presence Maria would’ve mentioned that. It seemed like kind of an important piece of information.

He sighed and dropped back against the cushions. He had to figure out how to get them alone. It had to be someplace that was fairly isolated because otherwise he would never get the chance to talk to them. He shook his head. If any law enforcement officer could hear his thoughts he’d be arrested. It sounded creepy even to his own ears. He shook that thought off. There was nothing inappropriate about what he was trying to do but it wasn’t something he could explain to anyone who caught them so he had to be very careful about selecting a meeting place.

He closed his eyes and shifted around to get comfortable. Maybe he could go back to sleep and figure the rest out tomorrow. An image of the local high school, railroad tracks, and then two child-sized bicycles suddenly flashed into his mind and his eyes snapped open again. He didn’t understand this connection but it was the only word he could think of to describe the pictures that kept flashing into his mind. He would go out first thing in the morning and scout the area around the high school, see if it was a feasible meeting place. He yawned and stretched out on the couch, shifting around to get comfortable.

The dream had been odd. He and Maria had never had that conversation. Maybe it was his mind’s way of providing him with a way to approach the children. It would make more sense coming from Maria. She had talked to him about Max and Isabel during their time together, told him things about them, and described their personalities. Maybe between that and his own mind piecing things together he had been given his answer. His eyes drifted closed and as he let sleep take him his last thought was of Maria, and he wondered at his chance of seeing her again tonight.

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The Man Who Didn't Belong (M/M,Mature) Ch 89 - 9/28/14

Postby ArchAngel1973 » Sun Sep 28, 2014 1:10 pm

keepsmiling7: Remember, when Maria arrived in that universe, in the beginning of the story, she learned that Liz Parker had died, shot, and that the Maria Deluca of this universe had died too, of a sudden illness. They were both teenagers.

Max has to save them both. When the times comes, he will.


Ending Two, Part 13 (or Part 89)

Michael followed the path that had been worn down by repeated treks through the wooded area behind the high school. The full moon overhead cast enough light to allow him to move freely without risking detection by using a flashlight. He brushed a low-hanging branch aside and his ears easily picked up the sounds made by nocturnal creatures as they moved through the woods under cover of darkness.

A decent night of sleep had eluded him after the dream with the kids and he had finally decided to scout the area where the meeting might take place. He was aggravated that what little time he might be able to steal with Maria in the realm of dreams wasn’t forthcoming. Once he spoke with the kids and they had been turned to the right path his mission would be over, he would cease to exist in his current form. He dreaded that moment as much as he anticipated it. As soon as his mission was complete he would have no place to call home.

Choices would be made, paths taken, and with that first alteration of the timeline he would simply fade from existence. He didn’t understand it. On the one hand it made sense but on the other hand it was confusing as hell. He broke through the tree line and stood at the edge of a clearing that revealed railroad tracks and a few small outbuildings in the distance. He set off towards them, checking them over and quickly determining that they wouldn’t pose a threat. They were abandoned and hadn’t been in use for years.

He climbed up the rickety ladder attached to the side of one of the buildings and sat on the platform. He shrugged the shoulder strap off and placed the bag with his few belongings next to him. He wondered if the kids would sneak out here to play in the woods and around the old buildings. Max maybe, he decided. Isabel, unlikely. She probably tagged along with her brother to watch over him. Even as a child she struck him as protective. They both were really. He leaned back against the warped boards, washed gray from years in the elements, and let his head rest against the wall as he stared into the dark woods.

He had spent years working as a sniper. He had learned the art of silence, of stillness. He had used both to his advantage, professionally and personally, when it suited him. For the first time that he could remember he was unable to find solace in the silence. Now it was nothing more than a reminder of how empty his life was without Maria in it. He had grown accustomed to a different kind of silence with her. There had been plenty of times they had spent hours without talking, just being together, and he missed that.

His mind moved over everything that still had to happen for his mission to be complete. The most important thing at this point was to meet with the kids, make them understand what was needed of them. He sighed in frustration and rubbed a hand over his face. How was he going to explain their importance to the future to a couple of nine-year-olds? Yeah, they were hybrids, they had been engineered to one day lead the fight against Khivar, but when it all came down to it, at the present time they were still nine-year-olds.

They were advanced, but they had been raised as humans and combined with their current age, he believed their alien senses would be dulled. They had been adopted by Philip and Diane Evans and the couple cared for them, sheltered them, and protected them, possibly too much at times. For three years they had been part of a human family. He sat up straighter as a thought suddenly occurred to him. He had grown up in the orphanage and only had one person who had ever cared one way or the other about him. But Tom Gifford had come into his life when he was a teenager and by that time he had learned to control his alien behaviors around people.

For the past three years or so Max and Isabel had been close to their adoptive parents, they were thriving in their environment, and from everything he had learned from Maria and his own research, the two of them were very close to the couple. They had to have slipped up without even knowing or understanding what they were revealing. Philip and Diane had to know that their children were different. They couldn’t not know. he realized.

The parents were the key.

*****

Philip Evans leaned back in his leather chair and stretched his arms high overhead. He had been reading case law and putting a brief together for most of the day. He rolled his shoulders and turned his head from one side to the other in an effort to loosen his muscles. He checked the time before getting to his feet and closing several of the thick hardbound books strewn across his desk. He cocked his head to one side when he heard something but after a moment he shrugged it off and went back to work.

The office had been closed for nearly an hour and he was taking advantage of the peace and quiet to get some work done. An extra hour or two at work meant he could focus on his family when he got home and whenever the opportunity presented itself he jumped on it. He pulled a reference book down and flipped through the pages until he found the section he was looking for.

His pen paused over the legal pad that was always at his fingertips and he glanced at the closed door to his office when something caught his attention. He couldn’t say what it was exactly but he suddenly had the feeling that he wasn’t alone.

He pushed himself to his feet and glanced across the room to the door that stood open. As quietly as possible he opened the top drawer of his desk and reached inside for the small handgun that he kept for emergency situations. Diane had never cared for having it around but once they had brought the children home she had insisted he keep it at the office if he just had to have it.

He glanced down the short hallway, advancing to the open reception area once he decided he was alone. He heard a small shuffling sound behind him and he swallowed hard before retracing his steps to peer into one of his colleague’s offices. He lowered the gun and chuckled to himself, shaking his head at the nervous sound before turning and walking back down the hall.

Philip stepped into his office and his heart nearly stopped when he saw the dangerous looking man sitting behind his desk. He frowned when his gaze dropped to the man’s hand and he saw the picture frame he held. A photograph of his wife and kids that normally sat on the credenza behind his desk. “How did you get in here?” he demanded, grateful when his voice didn’t crack and reveal his nervousness. His right hand came up when he suddenly remembered the gun he held.

“Not the most pertinent question you could be asking at the moment.” Michael shrugged and leaned forward to prop the frame up beside the keyboard. He moved his right hand, resting it close to the frame.

Philip’s eyes flicked to the gun the stranger held, noting that he appeared completely comfortable with it in his grasp, as if it was an extension of his body. “What do you want?”

“That’s more like it.” His thumb stroked the weapon unconsciously. “We need to discuss Max and Isabel.”

The lawyer tensed at the man’s familiarity with his children and his eyes automatically flicked to the photograph. What could he want with them? “No.”

“Contrary to what you see, to what you’re thinkin’ at this minute, I’m not a threat to your family.” Michael shifted to lean forward, smirking inwardly when the man took a step back before he could stop himself. He may have a gun in his hand but he had never been put in a position where he had to actually use it. “Max and Isabel should’ve died after you fueled up and left the station where your tires were sabotaged.”

Philip’s eyes narrowed. How could he know about that? Unless he was the one who had done the damage. “What’re you talking about?”

“You know they’re not normal by Earth standards,” Michael said as he met the man’s gaze head-on. “You found them wandering in the desert and you could’ve turned them over to social services, let someone else deal with them, but you didn’t. Even then you knew they were different. You didn’t know how exactly, but you knew, and rather than pawn them off on others you took them into your own home to raise them. It was a commitment to keep them safe and not one you’ve taken lightly.”

He shifted from one foot to the other as he tried to process what was happening. Sure, he knew they were somehow different; they hadn’t been sick a day in their young lives, he had seen things that he had brushed off and attributed to fatigue rather than things actually moving without anyone touching them, and sometimes he thought just for a moment that he had caught sight of something flying around the room but put it down to his exhausted mind playing tricks on him when he later found the object on the floor. “Who are you?”

“What brought me here is irrelevant because we don’t have time for me to explain it in a way you’d understand. I’m here because Max and Isabel are vitally important to the survival of this planet and to that end I prevented you from leaving from your fuel stop in order to ensure they didn’t die in a car accident.”

“You’re implying you’re from the future,” Philip said slowly. He should be more shocked, he thought absently. He should be freaking out. He was being faced down by an armed man who was calmly talking about his children’s narrow escape from a fatal car crash and he couldn’t seem to react in a way that made sense. He was too calm.

“I’m not implying.”

“And you’re saying my children are in danger?”

“Your children will always be in danger because of who they are.”

“They’re just children,” he insisted.

“Don’t waste my time. You know they’re different and you’ve protected them accordingly but at some point that won’t be enough. They have to know how to protect themselves and others. It’s important that they learn how to utilize their abilities and while you’ve done well so far, there will come a time when it won’t be enough. You can’t teach them what you don’t know.”

Philip studied the man, easily seeing the leashed strength, the controlled violence he was capable of, and the thought of this man handling his children was not something he was comfortable with. “But you can?”

“Yes and no.” He launched into his explanation, revealing only what he felt was pertinent to the situation. As he introduced the plan to bring his younger self into contact with Max and Isabel he could see the wheels turning in the lawyer’s head. He explained the necessity of them working together and the importance of the human contingent and he hid his surprise at the man’s ability to stay focused on the problem at hand.

“So you’re… he’s 15 years old and he lives here, in Roswell?”

“Just outside of town in that piece of shit orphanage.”

He nodded, easily understanding the hostility underlying the man’s words. He was of the opinion that the orphanage should’ve been under better management for quite a few years now. “The man who took over a while back has been trying to restructure operations out there. He’s making an effort to turn things around.”

“He’s the first to give a fuck about what happens out there.”

Philip’s expression turned speculative. “You said your name’s Michael… last name Guerin?”

Michael crossed his arms over his chest and he stared at the other man. “Why?”

“Where you came from, or rather when, was he still alive?”

“No, he wasn’t.” He shifted slightly and stretched his right leg out. “Why?” he repeated.

“He left you something.”

“What’s your point?” He wasn’t here to talk about things that no longer mattered.

“The point is I’m the one who drew up his will. You want me to believe you’re who you say you are. What’d he leave you?”

Michael straightened up. He had never bothered to ask who Tom’s lawyer was. He had refused to attend the reading of the will and had later received a box with a letter addressed to him from the director of the orphanage. “Books,” he said slowly. “He left me the first five hard cover books in the Countdown to Extinction series. The set was incomplete at the time because the author was still working on it.”

Philip moved carefully, certain any sudden movement would have him facing the business end of his uninvited guest’s gun. He sat down in one of the chairs situated in front of his desk and propped his elbows on the arms, resting his chin on his steepled fingers. “You’ve obviously done your homework so you know my children are only nine years old.”

“Yes.”

“While I believe that Max and Isabel are well ahead of their peers intellectually, I think it’s important to remember that emotionally they are young children.”

“This can’t wait,” he said, stressing every word. He went over what Maria had told him about Max and Isabel; their relationship to their parents, each other, as well as their strengths and weaknesses. “It has to be explained in a way they can understand, I get that, but there’s less than two years for them to form a bond with my younger self.”

“That’s a lot to ask for such a short timeframe, especially when you’re… he’s six years older than they are.” He rubbed his forehead. “To make this just a bit less strange can we just refer to your younger self as Michael?”

He rolled his right hand impatiently. “Whatever. I know what I’m asking. Michael has a history that isn’t gonna allow him to be simply integrated into the all-American family with barbecues on the weekend and vacations with annoying relatives for the holidays. Matter of fact, it’ll be your responsibility to find a balance because you immerse him in that environment and you’ll cripple him. He has to maintain his edge while forming a connection to the people I’ve told you about. That edge is an essential component to making him successful in the field; it’ll assure he earns his place in his future employment and receives the training necessary to hone his natural abilities.”

Philip’s gaze moved over the man before him. “I can only assume what you do is dangerous; an undercover agent, a soldier, maybe a mercenary. Whatever it is, it has the potential of tainting them through you.”

Michael’s jaw locked and his eyes hardened. “What it will do is ensure their survival and guarantee Michael’s ability to provide them with the training they’ll need for the coming war. I won’t sit here and tell you what I’ve seen and done because it’s none of your business and it doesn’t matter anyway. It doesn’t fall to you to approve or disapprove of his career path. I won’t say choice because in many ways it isn’t much of a choice; it’s simply the lesser of two evils. What changes is his ability to connect with a select group of people, to have a reason to give a damn about what happens to anyone beyond himself, and his willingness to lead a fight that will hopefully be strong enough to save this planet.”

“I can’t just bring you home to my family. My children would be terrified of you.”

He smirked and shook his head. “They already know who I am. They don’t know the specifics, they don’t know me, but they know bits and pieces about why I’m here, and they’ll recognize me.”

“I don’t see how that’s possible.” Philip could only imagine his children’s reaction to coming face-to-face with this man. “I’m sure you’re aware that you have a rather threatening persona, and as I stated earlier, my children are nine years old.”

“And as I stated earlier, they’re not completely human. Max and Isabel are hybrids, they’re half-alien, and they have abilities that right now you don’t understand. You’ve accepted that they’re different but you have no way of knowing what it is that separates them from everyone else. Your son has the ability to heal, did you know that? You’ve seen the video of him with the bird. Hell, you were there when it happened. It’s hard to mistake a broken wing.” He narrowed his eyes and scowled. “And it’s impossible to fly with one.”

Further proof that this man was who he said he was, Philip thought. How else could he know about the recording? He and Diane had destroyed it when they had gotten it home, afraid of what could happen if anyone ever found out about it. They had destroyed it. “How could you know about that?”

“Long story,” he muttered. He had taken a gamble with that one, remembering one of the stories Maria had told him about Max healing a bird and his parents keeping the video. Stupid mistake. “What matters is that it’s further evidence that they’re different. Your daughter can get into people’s dreams.” He motioned to his head. “It’s a mental ability but even as her age she’s adept at connecting and getting into people’s subconscious.”

“And she’s… made that connection with you?” he asked, feeling distinctly uncomfortable with that thought. While he didn’t like the thought of his little girl seeing the things that he was certain were rolling around in this man’s head at any given time, it was the thought of his nine-year-old daughter connecting with a man almost three times her age. It made him feel nauseous.

Michael shook his head. “She saw nothing disturbing and there was nothing perverse about her… visit.”

“Talk to me when you have a nine-year-old daughter traipsing around in the head of a man such as yourself.” He held his hands up. “It’s not just that it’s you,” he clarified. “It’s a matter of her being nine years old and you being a 25- or 26-year-old man.”

“Let’s table that thought,” he snapped. “My time here is limited and they have to know what’s expected of them. You have to find a way to introduce Michael into their lives and make sure they’re encouraged to connect. All of this has to happen and you have to make sure they’re there to save Maria Deluca and Liz Parker. It’s imperative that they survive; they’re necessary to the success of the coming war.” And Maria was necessary to his younger self’s personal survival. The thought of her dying was more than he could stomach. Oh, he would fight it tooth and nail, but one day he was going to realize just how necessary she was to his existence.

“I need time to talk to my wife so we can determine the best course of action for explaining the situation to our children.”

Michael sighed impatiently. “We don’t have much time!”

“And the longer it takes for me to explain this to my wife the longer it’ll take for us to reach the point where we can actually introduce you and allow you to speak to them.” He cleared his throat. “Now, how can I reach you?” He shook his head when the man’s features expressed hesitation. “We both know I can’t stop you from suddenly showing up and speaking to my children without my permission, but you’ve stressed that your time here is limited and there are quite a few pieces that have to fall into place otherwise this will have been for nothing. I know my family a lot better than you do, so if you want this to work, you’re gonna have to give me the time to properly prepare them for this meeting.” He pulled in a deep breath before speaking, certain he was taking his life in his own hands with his next words. “Do we understand each other?”

He leaned forward slowly and his hand rested over the gun that had been lying on the desk between them for some time. His fingertips caressed the cold steel, his eyes never leaving Philip’s as he picked it up and stood. “Roswell Traveler’s Inn, room 211.” He stepped out from behind the desk and pocketed the gun as he crossed the room. “I’ll expect to hear from you soon.”


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