Birthright *Series* (CC, TEEN, S1 COMPLETE), Epilogue, 2/2

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.

Moderators: Anniepoo98, Rowedog, ISLANDGIRL5, Itzstacie, truelovepooh, FSU/MSW-94, Forum Moderators

User avatar
Kathy W
Obsessed Roswellian
Posts: 685
Joined: Thu Oct 31, 2002 5:06 am

Birthright *Series* (CC, TEEN, S1 COMPLETE), Epilogue, 2/2

Postby Kathy W » Wed Jul 07, 2010 1:17 pm

Image

Banner by Misha. Thanks a million, Misha!

Image


TITLE: Birthright, the 6th and final book in the Shapeshifters series.


SUMMARY: We've finally arrived where this series was heading from the beginning: September, 1999, and a particular shooting at a particular café with which we are all particularly familiar. This is the book which runs alongside all 3 seasons of the show, expanding what we saw on screen, filling in blanks, and adding the perspectives of the shapeshifters, along with others entrusted with protecting the Royal Four. Once again this leaves the show intact; I've stayed 99% faithful to what we saw on screen with minor exceptions, such as when the dates given in the show didn't line up with the actual calendar, or setting the events of two episodes in close proximity even though those episodes aired a week apart. This book is divided into 3 parts (1 for each season) which are further divided into chapters. It begins with the shooting at the Crashdown and ends a few weeks after the final episode of the series.


CAN YOU JUMP IN AT BOOK 6? : Yes! The opening posts contain a character guide and synopses of the first 5 books. That, along with what you know from the show, will give you enough background to start reading with Book 6.

Note: I've tried very hard not to rehash scenes from the show unless I'm adding another angle to them. If it's been a while since you've watched Roswell, you may want to break out your tapes/VCD's/DVD's and watch again as this book expands on the series.



AUTHOR: Kathy W


RATING: TEEN, for occasional language.


CATEGORY: Backstory/Conventional. All couples as they were on the show.


PERSPECTIVE: As always, the main perspective is that of those responsible for making it happen—the shapeshifters.


SERIES SUMMARY: I’ve always been fascinated with what happened before the pod squad hatched, and I’ve had a million questions. Why don’t the hybrids remember more? Why was the Destiny Book in the library instead of in the pod chamber? Why did the Dupes wind up in a sewer in New York City? Why did both shapeshifters appear to abandon their charges after hiding them so well in the very beginning? Was Nasedo really working for the Skins? Why was Langley so unwilling to help Max? And so on and so forth.

This is the story from the viewpoint of the shapeshifters, my own little fantasy about what happened, why it happened, and what went wrong. This is the sixth and last book in the series, each a sequel to the others and which have closely tracked the show; my intention is not to rewrite Roswell, but to fill in some of the blanks. The story began on the ship headed to Earth and will end a few weeks after the last episode of the series.



SEQUEL TO:

And the Stars Fell From the Sky: First book in the series. Chronicles the shapeshifters journey to Earth and the creation of the hybrids. Can be found here: viewtopic.php?t=1302&postdays=0&postorder=asc&&start=0

Alien Sky: Second book in the series. Covers the aftermath of the crash and the capture of the two surviving shapeshifters. Written around and through the Roswell episode "Summer of '47". Can be found here: viewtopic.php?t=1302&postdays=0&postorder=asc&&start=0

Comes The Inquisitor: Third book in the series. Covers the period from 1947-1950 when one of the shapeshifters was held captive by the U.S. military. Can be found here: viewtopic.php?t=7879&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0

All Too Human: Fourth book in the series. Covers a period of several months in 1959 including the filming of the movie "They Are Among Us" in Roswell, James Atherton's friendship with one of the shapeshifters, and the formation of the Special Unit. Can be found here: viewtopic.php?f=35&t=17797&p=661166#p661166

Awakening: Fifth book in the series. Covers the period when the hybrids emerge from the pods, including the final fall of Grandpa Valenti and the rise of Daniel Pierce Jr. (Pierce from the show.) Explains how Max and Isabel wound up with the Evans family, Michael landed in foster care, and Tess went with Nasedo....and why they don't remember who they are. Can be found here: http://roswellfanatics.net/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=20866&start=0



DISCLAIMER: I own nothing. Nothing anyone wants, anyway. :D I’m just borrowing these wonderful characters to amuse myself. And hopefully you.

Some of the events in this story are taken from Roswell episodes. In addition to characters from the show, there are also a few real people in this story. I know precisely none of these people, and am borrowing them strictly for this little tale.
Last edited by Kathy W on Sun Feb 02, 2014 4:35 pm, edited 134 times in total.

User avatar
Kathy W
Obsessed Roswellian
Posts: 685
Joined: Thu Oct 31, 2002 5:06 am

Re: Birthright *Series* (AU, TEEN), Chapter 1, 7/7

Postby Kathy W » Wed Jul 07, 2010 1:22 pm

If you're new to this series, here's a Character Guide and Synopses of the first 5 books to get you started.



Pronunciation and Character Guide

Some of these characters have come and gone and are not in this book. I include them here because they are referenced, and this can act as a "quick start" guide for those who haven't read the other books.

Aliens

Antarians:

Brivari—Zan’s Warder: “var” rhymes with “far”. Brivari.
Jaddo—Rath’s Warder: “a” as in “ah”, soft “J”. Jaddo.
Valeris—Ava’s Warder, now dead: “ler” sounds like “lair”. Valeris.
Urza—Vilandra’s Warder, now dead: Urza.
Covari—The name of the shapeshifters’ race: Rhymes with “Brivari”. Covari.
Riall—Zan’s father: Ree-all.
Malik, Amar—Two of the five shapeshifters who helped perfect the Argilian's (Skins) husks after they faked their own deaths and remained behind while on a mission to Earth. Both are now dead. Ma-lick ("a" as in apple), A-mar (rhymes with “far”)





Argilians (Skins):

Argilians—The name of Khivar’s race: “g” is soft, like “j”.
Athenor—Khivar's second-in-command, known to his inner circle by the human name of "Nicholas" and based in Copper Summit. Ordered the deaths of the Royal Four without Khivar's knowledge; killed Rath himself. Ath-eh-nore.
Greer: Nicholas's second-in-command.
Walt and Ida Crawford: Nicholas's real parents.
Vanessa Crawford/Whitaker: Nicholas's lover, posing as his human sister.
Courtney Harris: Our Courtney from the show. Daughter of the leader of the rebel Argilians, those who want Rath on the throne.
Michael Harris: Courtney's father and leader of the Argilian resistance. Took his own life when captured by Nicholas to prevent him from reading his mind and exposing both the resistance and the Warders.



Humans

Civilians:

Dee Proctor—First discovered the Antarians’ ship on Pohlman Ranch when she was 8 years old; a lawyer, married to...
Anthony Evans: Dee's childhood friend, now husband.
Philip Evans: Anthony and Dee's firstborn, also a lawyer.
Diane Evans: Philip's wife.
David and Emily Proctor—Dee’s parents
James Valenti, Sr.—Roswell Sheriff until he lost his job over the Silo incident.
Andrea Valenti (Andi): James Sr.'s wife
James Valenti, Jr.: Our very own Valenti from the show
River Dog: A Mescalero Apache whose family helped hide one of the shapeshifters.
Quanah: River Dog's father, and good friend of Brivari's
Audrey Tate: Lead actress on the movie They are Among Us which was filmed in Roswell in 1959. Befriended Brivari and was killed by Jaddo after she witnessed he and Brivari using their powers.
James Atherton: Self-described "alienologist" who wrote the book Among Us. Befriended Brivari in 1959, but tried to share the knowledge of his existence with his fellow alienologists. Killed by Brivari in 1959.



The Army:

Lieutenant Colonel Sheridan Cavitt—Co-commander of the operation concerned with experimenting on aliens in the late forties at Eagle Rock Military Base. In charge of security and military intelligence. Killed by Jaddo in 1950.
Lieutenant Colonel (Dr.) Daniel Pierce—MD/Psychiatrist and co-commander of the operation concerned with experimenting on aliens at Eagle Rock Military Base. In charge of the medical and psychological aspects. Future father of Special Unit Head Daniel Pierce. Killed by Jaddo in 1959.
Lieutenant (Nurse) Yvonne White—From the episode "Summer of '47". Assigned to assist in experimentation on the captive aliens. Assisted in the escape of the alien prisoner. Went AWOL in 1950 with Stephen Spade, and now goes by the name of "Marie Johnson". Is a practicing neurologist at Columbia Medical Center and married to....
Lieutenant Stephen Spade—Was in command of the security detail at Eagle Rock. Assisted in the escape of the alien prisoner. Went AWOL in 1950 with Yvonne White, and now goes by the name "Steven Johnson". Head of security at Columbia Medical Center.


The FBI:

Agent (Former Major) Bernard Lewis—Army physician who advocated a "living autopsy" on the alien prisoner in order to study it without it turning to dust. Resigned from the Army in 1950 rather than face a court martial and went to work for the FBI. First head of the Special Unit. Killed by Jaddo in 1962.

Agent Daniel Summers—head of the FBI's Special Unit until May, 1999, when he was found dead bearing a silver handprint.

Agent Daniel Pierce Jr.—our very own Pierce from the show and heir to the serum which blocks the aliens' powers which was developed by his father, Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Pierce, who held Jaddo captive for 3 years at Eagle Rock Military base.






AND THE STARS FELL FROM THE SKY


There has been a coup on Antar. The King's chief rival, Khivar, convinced the king's sister, Vilandra, that he would ask for her hand in marriage, causing her to lower the palace's defenses to allow him inside. But instead of a marriage proposal, Khivar appears with an army which takes down the unprepared capital city and kills the royal family.

Each member of the royal family is assigned a Warder, or bodyguard, from a race of shapeshifters known as "Covari". In the wake of the capital's fall, the Royal Warders flee the planet with the dead bodies of their Wards: The king, Zan, his wife, Ava, his sister, Vilandra, and his chief military officer and second-in-command, Rath. Also on board is a piece of experimental technology called the Granolith, which Antar was building secretly in defiance of a treaty which mandated the sharing of new technology with their sister planets. On board the ship, the Warders begin the attempt to resurrect their Wards by combining genetic material from their bodies with that of donors from a species on a distant planet called "Earth" for two reasons: Direct cloning produces too many errors in the copy, and the donor species possesses a powerful brain which will make their Wards incredibly powerful in their new incarnations. The result is 200 embryonic Antarian-human hybrids, or 50 sets of the Royal Four. A malfunction in their ship causes it to crash land on Earth, damaging the incubation chambers in which the hybrids are housed. The crash is witnessed by an 8 year-old girl named Dee Proctor, who thinks she saw a shooting star.



ALIEN SKY


(The events in Alien Sky are woven around and through the episode "Summer of '47".)

The Warders' ship crashes during a thunderstorm, hiding the event from all but an 8 year-old girl named Dee Proctor who happens to be looking out the window when it occurs. Thinking it to be a meteorite, she tells her next door neighbor, William "Mac" Brazel, that she thinks it fell on the grounds of Pohlman Ranch where he works. Mac agrees to let her accompany him to the ranch to look for her "meteorite".

On board the ship, the news is not good. The crash has seriously damaged not only the ship but the incubation pods in which the hybrids were housed, causing many to die. The Warders decide to hide both the remaining hybrids and the Granolith in a nearby abandoned experimentation chamber once used to conduct tests on human subjects. It needs to be enlarged, and the work begins.

Meanwhile, Dee has found her "meteorite"; she only sees it for a moment, and Mac doesn't see it at all as Valeris, Ava's Warder, is capable of shielding it from view with a mind warp. Mac finds several pieces of a strange metal which he collects and brings to Chaves County Sheriff George Wilcox, who calls the nearby Eagle Rock Military Base.

Dee befriends the aliens and discovers that she is capable of communicating with them via their telepathic speech. The Warders heal her after an encounter with a bully, and when the military locates the ship before all the hybrids are moved to their new hiding place, Dee convinces her father to help. Two sets of hybrids and two Warders are still on board when the Army arrives, along with Dee. Only Dee escapes. Urza (Vilandra's Warder) and Valeris (Ava's Warder) are killed, and the hybrids captured. The two remaining Warders, Brivari (Zan's Warder) and Jaddo (Rath's Warder) make plans to rescue them.

A Roswell deputy, one James Valenti, has seen some things that don't add up. He relentlessly pursues the Proctor family and tries to answer as many of the endless "alien calls" the sheriff's station receives in hopes of finding information on the real aliens, which he is sure exist.

Within the Army, Captain Sheridan Cavitt leads the hunt for the aliens, establishing a compound in an unused building on the grounds of Eagle Rock, while two of his subordinates, Private Stephen Spade and nurse Yvonne White, begin to question the way the situation is being handled. The two remaining Warders manage to rescue the captured hybrids with the unwitting help of one Captain Hal Carver, but Brivari is captured with the aid of tranquilizer darts. Jaddo is also hit by a dart and only barely escapes; it falls to the Proctor family to retrieve the hybrids and bring them back to their house for safekeeping.

When Jaddo revives, he hides the hybrids in the pod chamber and attempts to rescue Brivari. He fails, and winds up captured himself. The book ends with a new arrival at the Army base, one Major Daniel Pierce, a psychiatrist and neurologist assigned to study the aliens.



COMES THE INQUISITOR



Both surviving aliens have been captured by the military, but Brivari (Zan's Warder), manages to escape. Based on data gleaned during that escape, Dr. Pierce concocts a serum to suppress the remaining alien's (Jaddo, Rath's Warder) ability to shapeshift and the use of his powers, allowing the humans to keep him prisoner.

Both Nurse Yvonne White and Lieutenant Stephen Spade, who is in charge of the compound's security detail, agree to help Brivari free Jaddo. Yvonne allows Brivari to take her shape at various times during the day, enabling him to visit his colleague and search for a means of escape. Brivari encourages Jaddo to give the humans what they want, or at least appear to, so they will keep him alive, and after a series of confrontations with Dr. Pierce and Major Cavitt, he reluctantly complies.

The first escape attempt is foiled by two other Covari (shapeshifters) living here on Earth in the Arizona town of Copper Summit, defectors from a previous expedition to Earth. Both are now working for the Argilians (Khivar's race), helping them construct a seal for the shells they are building which will allow them to survive in Earth's atmosphere. One, Amar, is a sworn enemy of the crown, and blames Zan and his father before him for breaking faith with the Covari race which helped him attain the throne. The other, Malik, shares Amar's concerns but is uncomfortable with Khivar's coup and the way he is behaving. In the absence of a body to prove Zan's death, Khivar is both unable to convince the people that the king is truly dead and unable to obtain the royal mark (royal seal) which identifies Antar's ruler. In order to distract his detractors, he flings accusations at neighboring worlds, accusing them of harboring the royals' bodies and the Granolith, among other things. The distrust Khivar sows destabilizes the five planets, causing a breakdown of diplomatic relations and periodic fighting between them.

The second escape attempt is foiled by the arrival of two more Covari and four hunters, who attack the base and attempt to capture both Warders. All Covari are capable of seeing the infrared spectrum, and all emit an infrared signature that makes them recognizable to others of their race. Hunters are Covari specially bred to lack this signature, making them invisible to other Covari. Besieged by his own kind, Brivari flees south of Roswell to a cave on the grounds of the Mescalero Indian Reservation, where he is befriended by a teenaged boy named River Dog and his family. In the wake of the aliens' attack, the Army constructs a more secure holding cell for Jaddo made of white tile.

The compound at Eagle Rock where Jaddo is held prisoner is led by Major General Roger Ramey, a decent man at odds with those in the military who feel the alien is too much of a security risk and wish to have him killed and dissected, chief among them Major Sheridan Cavitt and Major Bernard Lewis (future first head of the Special Unit). Ramey introduces a new method of alien detection, an x-ray which reveals the aliens' very different bone structure no matter what form they take, and lays his career on the line to keep Jaddo alive. In return Jaddo willingly works with Ramey to provide the human military with tactical advantages, the first being a night vision device and the second being the repair of their ship, while Brivari takes down the hunters one by one. It is in the summer of 1949 when the last two hunters locate Brivari near River Dog's village and the events described by the elderly River Dog in "The Balance" occur. In the wake of the sweat and Brivari's near fatal reaction to it, both remaining hunters are killed, River Dog learns of Brivari's extra-terrestrial origins, and the friendship between Brivari and River Dog's family is strengthened.

This is no shortage of people who claim to have been abducted by aliens, and by sheer chance, David Proctor meets one of them, a man by the name of Charles Dupree. Charles' story is quite a bit different from that of other abductees, but it rings true for David, who recognizes several details. The Proctors subsequently learn why the Antarians had been coming to Earth for years prior to the crash—to harness the power of the human brain in an effort to enhance their own race. Experiments were conducted in hidden experimentation chambers like the one which eventually became the pod chamber, and the subjects were always young children, young enough that parts of their brains had not atrophied from lack of use. This revelation angers Emily Proctor so much that she bars Brivari from their house, touching off a year-long feud with her daughter, Dee. Everyone eventually reconciles, largely by agreeing to disagree, and the Proctor family continues to be a source of support for the Warders. And Dee now has an accomplice, one Anthony Evans, who lives a few houses away. Anthony is instrumental in helping Dee out of several sticky alien situations, but Dee is reluctant to tell him everything she knows for fear that doing so will put him in danger. Dee and Anthony will become Max and Isabel's paternal grandparents.

On other fronts, Yvonne White is on a mission to discover what happened to Betty Osorio, the reporter from "Summer of '47". With her and Spade's determined digging plus the efforts of Deputy Jim Valenti, they locate Richard Dodie, who harbors a grudge against Cavitt, and Hal Carver, who is holed up south of Roswell and reveals the events which led to his resignation. Their suspicions that Cavitt is responsible for Betty's death cannot be proven, however, and further investigation is halted by a disaster. Dr. Pierce has discovered the aliens' reproductive cells and has been secretly attempting to impregnate Yvonne with an alien-human hybrid. When he succeeds, she nearly dies, and it takes Brivari and a healing stone to save her life. In the process, Brivari and Malik reach an understanding of a sort, and Malik decides to help Jaddo escape.

When repairs on the ship are nearly complete, the Warders contact home via the ship's communications equipment and speak with Larak, who warns them that Khivar's second-in command, Athenor (Nicholas), is on the way to Earth with a task force dedicated to hunting them down. Removing Jaddo from the compound becomes a necessity as he is a sitting duck while captive and without powers. Plans for his escape are coming along nicely when an engineer working on the aliens' ship accidentally activates the security system, which locks it, leaving it in the condition in which Max finds it in "Busted". The ship cannot be opened without a particular power crystal (the key), and no one is able to find it. General Ramey's detractors blame the prisoner for this occurrence and take the opportunity to seize control of the compound and attempt to execute Jaddo. Brivari convinces Ramey to work with him, and Jaddo is successfully rescued in June of 1950. The remaining Covari pursue; all are killed except for Malik.

Jaddo kills Sheridan Cavitt in retaliation for his captivity, making it look like a suicide, and ushers General Ramey past an attempt to murder him and on his way to Korea, where war has broken out. Dr. Pierce attempts to abduct Yvonne White and continue his hybrid experiments, but Spade flees with her to safety; Pierce continues his work in secrecy at a mental hospital, using the female inmates as incubators. Major Lewis resigns from the military to avoid a court martial. Richard Dodie pays a visit to Hal Carver to tell him that Cavitt is dead, keeping to himself the revelations that it was he who sent Betty the key to the morgue where the glowing sacs were being held, and he who ran her off the road on Cavitt's orders in order to retrieve the files Carver had given her. Anthony Evans becomes a full member of the "I Know An Alien" club, and Malik sells the house that belonged to him and his fellow defectors in Copper Summit. Unfortunately he doesn't see who buys it. It's Walt and Ida Crawford and their two children, Vanessa.....and Nicholas.

User avatar
Kathy W
Obsessed Roswellian
Posts: 685
Joined: Thu Oct 31, 2002 5:06 am

Re: Birthright *Series* (AU, TEEN), Chapter 1, 7/7

Postby Kathy W » Wed Jul 07, 2010 1:38 pm

ALL TOO HUMAN



It's June of 1959, and Dee Evans, formerly Dee Proctor, returns home with her husband, Anthony, and their toddler son, Philip, to spend the summer with her parents, David and Emily Proctor. Malik, one of the remaining Covari (shapeshifting aliens) meets her at the bus station, filling her in on what's happened while she and Anthony have been busy attending college, getting married, and having a baby. All's been quiet on the alien front for the past 9 years, so much so that even Roswell's sheriff, Jim Valenti Sr., has pretty much given up alien-hunting. A UFO convention comes to Roswell bringing with it charlatans of all sorts including one James Atherton, and provides a good laugh for Dee, not to mention something to do to get away from her disapproving mother, who objects to the way her grandson, Philip, is being raised.

Elsewhere, in the little Arizona town of Copper Summit, Courtney Harris (Courtney from the show) is very unhappy to be moving next door to Nicholas, the leader of the Argilian (Skins) contingent on Earth with marching orders to find the Royal Four and their remaining Warders (the shapeshifters): Brivari, Zan's Warder, and Jaddo, Rath's Warder. Courtney's father, Michael, is Nicholas' third, right behind Greer, Nicholas' second. Unbeknownst to either Nicholas or Greer is that Michael is also the leader of the Argilian resistance, a group of Argilians who championed Rath for the throne and once offered to help him attain it. Unhappy with Khivar's rule, the resistance has infiltrated Nicholas' troops and is also quietly searching for the Warders and the Royal Four, hoping to find them before Nicholas does and offer their assistance in restoring them to the throne. After a run-in with Nicholas, Courtney finds herself assigned to live in Roswell and keep watch for any sign of the Warders or the hybrids. Trouble is, Courtney has never lived on her own in human society before. As luck would have it, she gets some help from one Dee Evans, who is completely unaware that the new friend she's just made is an alien.

As Courtney settles into Roswell, the Warders have located Daniel Pierce Sr., future father of Daniel Jr. (Pierce on the show) and one time captor of Jaddo. Jaddo and Brivari execute Pierce with the intention of leaving no trail, but that backfires when Jaddo leaves a silver handprint behind which piques the interest of both Nicholas and the FBI, drawing both toward Roswell.

Meanwhile, Brivari has become concerned that the hybrids are growing much more slowly than expected, so slowly that they may not be born until decades later than they'd hoped. That, plus the death of his Indian friend Quanah (River Dog's father) sends him in search of company and something to do. That something turns out to be a job as a clapper loader on the set of an alien-themed movie filming in Roswell, "They are Among Us". While working on the movie, Brivari befriends both the crew and the lead actress, one Audrey Tate, socializing with them, taking up a residence in town, and going by the name of "Langley". He also strikes up a friendship with James Atherton, a man who considers himself a serious "alienologist" and whose latest book is merely a sensational piece intended to make money. Atherton becomes Brivari's closest confidante since Quanah.

Brivari's increasing association with humans angers Jaddo, and when Audrey witnesses him roughing up the movie's lead actor, her jealous boyfriend, Jaddo kills her to keep her from talking. The method he uses resembles a lightning strike, but is still unusual enough to draw the notice of Nicholas, the FBI, and Roswell's Jim Valenti Sr.. Eventually Brivari falls under suspicion and has to disappear. Suspicion also falls on Atherton because of his association with "Langley", and when the FBI comes for Atherton, Brivari intervenes, revealing his true nature to his friend. Atherton vows to keep his secret and goes undercover to gather information from both the FBI and Nicholas's operatives, who descend upon Roswell in droves, having recognized the actress' death as being caused by a shapeshifter.

Things come to a head when the Warders discover Courtney is a Skin. Managing to convince them that she's a member of the resistance and wants to help them, Courtney facilitates communication between the resistance and the Warders. The resistance wants custody of some of the hybrids, being unaware that the Warders have only 3 sets left instead of the dozens of sets they started with. Brivari is adamantly opposed to this idea, but Jaddo believes it makes sense, as they are the only ones who know where the hybrids are hidden; should something happen to them, that knowledge would be lost. When Malik is captured by Nicholas and commits suicide to prevent Nicholas from reading his mind, Jaddo goes behind Brivari's back and gives 2 sets of hybrids to the resistance for safekeeping, retaining the set with the Zan hybrid which bears the royal mark (seal) in the pod chamber. One of the sets given to the Skins is captured and the resistance is revealed; Courtney's father, Michael, commits suicide to prevent Nicholas from learning more from him, but Courtney manages to escape. The second set of hybrids is lost in New York City when the operative assigned to them is executed before she can reveal where they're hidden.

These events convince Atherton to contact his alienologist colleagues over Brivari's objections, and this breach of trust causes Brivari to reluctantly execute his friend. The body bearing a silver handprint is discovered before he has a chance to dispose of it, once again drawing the attention of the Skins, the FBI, and Sheriff Valenti, whose wife is very upset about his increasing interest in aliens and worried about the effect it will have on their son, Jimmy. With all their enemies converging once again, the Warders decide to leave Roswell. In case the hybrids are ever discovered, they decide to remove the control crystal and instructions for operating the Granolith from the pod chamber. In case something happens to them, a "trail of breadcrumbs" is left for the hybrids, with a code of Rath's making left above Rath's pod which will guide them to the map in the cave on River Dog's reservation, which will in turn guide them to the library where the Destiny Book and control crystal are hidden. Angry at Jaddo's behavior and his giving away hybrids without Brivari's consent, Brivari and Jaddo part company, with Jaddo planning to leave a false trail to lead their enemies away from Roswell and Brivari saying he will go anywhere Jaddo isn't.

The resistance Skins leave the area, meaning to hide from Nicholas until the hybrids emerge. Nicholas is taken to task by Khivar for allowing the resistance to infiltrate his troops, for the loss of their ship, which was captured by the shapeshifters, and for briefly having possession of both a shapeshifter and a set of pods only to lose both. Khivar's punishment is to strand Nicholas and his troops here, refusing to send another ship or reinforcements. This strengthens Nicholas' resolve to find the hybrids and especially the Granolith, which may be their only way home now. Valenti and his wife remain at odds over his increasing pursuit of aliens. The Evans family goes back to college. And in NYC, an old subway tunnel containing the Dupes' pods is walled up with no one the wiser about what's been hidden inside.



AWAKENING



It's 1989, and Jeff Parker is all excited. The gaudy new sign he ordered for Parker's, his family's restaurant in Roswell, has finally arrived. Residents gawk at the huge saucer covered with blinking lights which is hoisted by crane into position over the front door and ushers in a new era for this Roswell fixture, beginning with a new name: The Crashdown Café. Jeff has other ideas as well, including alien-themed names for everything on the menu, an alien-themed décor, and a new uniform for for his staff that his waitresses have made clear they're not thrilled about. Even little Lizzie, Jeff's kindergarten-aged daughter, gives it a thumbs down, but Jeff is not deterred. Change comes slowly, and he's positive these changes will bring in more business.

Jeff Parker isn't the only one experiencing change. Jim Valenti Jr. is the new sheriff in Roswell, and he brings with him a load of baggage from when his father, Jim Sr., was sheriff. Jim Sr. was fired from his post after shooting an innocent man at Silo in 1972, and now lives with Jim Jr., also known as Jimmy, and Jimmy's son, Kyle. Jimmy is determined to escape his father's shadow, which proves difficult; the Valenti name has everyone making assumptions, and the fact that some of his father's old deputies are still working at the station doesn't help, nor does it help that his father, long uncommunicative and in need of constant supervision, is behaving more strangely than ever, upsetting everyone including Kyle's babysitter.

Elsewhere in town, Philip Evans and his wife, Diane, are moving into a newly bought house with a shadow over them. Diane has learned she can't have children, and even though they're on a waiting list for adoption, the odds that they'll ever receive the infant she dreams of are slim. Philip has bought out a law practice in town and moved his wife there in the hopes they can have a new beginning. When Anthony Evans, Philip's dad, heads out to the hardware store to fetch his son a refrigerator cable, he runs into Brivari, Zan's Warder, at the Crashdown. No one has seen Brivari since 1959, when he and Jaddo (Rath's Warder, and the only other surviving shapeshifter) parted company after Jaddo gave two sets of hybrids to the Argilian resistance without consulting him. Brivari explains that he visits yearly to check on the still much-too-slowly growing hybrids, while Jaddo spends his time hunting the Special Unit. Brivari is disturbed to see how his friends have aged and reluctantly agrees to visit everyone for the first time in decades.

He is waylaid, however, by an unexpected emergency. While visiting the pod chamber, he notices that the pods have become transparent. Retrieving the book Valeris (Ava's Warder) wrote from its hiding spot in Roswell's library, he learns what that means: the gestational fluid inside the pods is failing, and the hybrids' emergence is imminent. Alarmed, he leaves for New York City to consult Yvonne White, the former Army nurse stationed at Eagle Rock during Jaddo's three year captivity, now living under the pseudonym of Marie Johnson and a physician at Columbia Medical Center. Yvonne/Marie agrees to return with him to Roswell to do what she can for the hybrids.

But he's too late. Three of the hybrids emerge, and two are found wandering a desert road late at night by Philip and Diane Evans with Philip's mother, Dee Evans, in the back seat. Dee realizes immediately who these children are and takes them to her parents' house, intent on keeping them away from the authorities. But Philip calls the police, who take the children to the nearest hospital, raising all sorts of fears that their true nature will be discovered.

Fortunately Brivari returns with Yvonne White, who poses as the children's physician. A series of tests reveals that the hybrids have human bodies with the exception of their blood cells. Philip and Diane Evans visit the children they rescued, and Diane begins to bond with them, the girl especially. With one hybrid having still not emerged (Ava) and one missing (Rath), Brivari decides to allow the human childcare system to care for the hybrids. The two who have been found are transferred to the care of social services at Westlake Villa, a local orphanage, and Diane names them Max and Isabel, two names from the Evans' side of the family.

On the other side of the country, Daniel Pierce Jr. reaches two milestones: He qualifies as an FBI agent, and he reaches his 30th birthday. A meeting with the FBI academy's director informs him that he is due to inherit something from his father, something the Bureau wants badly. Pierce has a mysterious visitor later that night who claims to have known his father and to have been entrusted with his inheritance. He also warns Pierce that he needs to fear for his life, a claim Pierce initially dismisses but reconsiders when he realizes the Bureau is having him followed. Wary now, Pierce begins to do his own investigating into just what exactly his father has left him.

Back in Roswell Rath appears at the orphanage, having followed the other two there, and quickly bonds with Max and Isabel. Dee names him Michael in honor of Courtney's father. None of the hybrids appear to remember who they are, but all are exhibiting signs of unusual intelligence and post-human powers and communicate with each other, although none are speaking. Things are complicated when Jaddo arrives, having heard rumblings within the Special Unit and wanting to make certain the hybrids are safe. When he discovers they're emerging he advocates connecting with them immediately to jump start their memories, but Yvonne White urges caution because she's not certain how they will deal with tragic adult memories in their current state. Jaddo agrees to take it slowly, and he and Brivari connect briefly with each hybrid to impart one happy memory.

The effect is immediate. Max, Michael, and Isabel begin speaking, and start to question the differences in their Earth environment, such as the sun being the wrong color. Yvonne is alarmed at the speed of their progress and urges the Warders to back off; they agree, only to have Diane show up with the hybrids. Brivari tries to leave, but Max orders him to stay, and as he must obey an order from the king, he's stuck. Yvonne advises him that he and Jaddo must keep their distance from Max, at least, until he shows he is responsible enough to wield this power, and Brivari takes refuge on the second floor of the house, waiting for Max to leave. But Max and the others find him, fully aware now of who they are and full of questions about how they got there. Brivari and Jaddo attempt to limit the flow of information, but Max and Michael become more and more insistent on being told everything right away, although Isabel shies away. Their confrontation culminates with Max ordering Brivari and Jaddo to connect with them and show them what happened to land them on a strange planet in new bodies. The Warders hold off as long as possible, but in the end, they must obey.

The hybrids suffer a breakdown; Isabel screams, Max goes into shock, and Michael lashes out at everyone, including Isabel. They are taken to the hospital where Yvonne sedates them, and when they awaken they have regressed, appearing to have forgotten everything they knew about themselves. Yvonne theorizes that their immature brains simply couldn't handle what they were shown and advises the Warders to keep their distance and wait until the hybrids have reached adulthood before telling them the truth. Jaddo objects, holding the opinion that allowing the hybrids to be raised as humans will make them too human. Jaddo tries connecting with Michael again, but finds he has no memory or awareness of who he really is; distraught, he concludes that Rath is unsalvageable, and when Ava finally emerges from her pod, he keeps that secret from Brivari. When Brivari discovers she's gone, Jaddo insists they raise their only uncompromised hybrid together, while Brivari argues that he and Jaddo would make terrible parents and that Ava must be raised in the same environment as the others or she'll never be accepted by them. The two fight and Jaddo departs with Ava, leaving the others with Brivari. Brivari ultimately lets him go because he can't afford to leave the others unguarded for the length of time necessary to locate Jaddo. He allows Philip and Diane to foster Max and Isabel with the intention of adopting them, and Michael to move in with a foster family named Guerin.

Meanwhile, Pierce has discovered his inheritance—a serum which blocks an alien's powers. After a furious round of negotiations with interested parties, he throws in his lot with the FBI and becomes the protege of Daniel Summers, current head of the Special Unit. Jim Valenti Sr. mistakes Kyle's babysitter for an alien and pulls a gun on her, prompting Jimmy to have his father admitted to a nursing home. The hybrids settle into their new lives, all secretly aware that they're different but unable to understand why. Brivari buys a house in Roswell where he will live part time in order to keep an eye on the hybrids and becomes furious with Jaddo all over again when he discovers that he's taken not only Ava, but the crystal which operates the Granolith. And in an abandoned section of the New York City subway, a vagrant who turned his life around when he saw another set of hybrids in '59 and mistook them for tiny angels is delighted to see them break through the wall behind which they were entombed years ago.

User avatar
Kathy W
Obsessed Roswellian
Posts: 685
Joined: Thu Oct 31, 2002 5:06 am

Re: Birthright *Series* (AU, TEEN), Chapter 1, 7/7

Postby Kathy W » Wed Jul 07, 2010 3:11 pm

BIRTHRIGHT


SEASON ONE




CHAPTER ONE


September 19, 1999, 11:45 a.m.

Crashdown Café




"Maxwell, would you please stop doing that?"

Max's eyes dropped. "Sorry," he mumbled.

"So am I. Every time you look at her, you get this expression like a kicked puppy. It's embarrassing."

Max went back to his lunch, his eyes on his food. For a change, Michael thought as the object of Max's interest swished by, arms laden with plates. It took only seconds before his eyes darted up and sideways.

"You're hopeless," Michael said sadly. "What do you see in her, anyway? Girls are useless."

"I'll be sure and mention that to Isabel," Max said dryly.

"Isabel's not a girl," Michael answered as Max's eyebrows rose. "Not the way those two are. Just look at that friend of hers, that other waitress. At least she's blonde on the inside and the outside. Airheads, all of them."

"Liz isn't an airhead, Michael. And I seriously doubt she'd put up with anyone who is, so I'm thinking Maria isn't one either."

"Who?"

"Maria," Max said patiently. "The blonde waitress. She goes to school with us, remember?"

"Not really. And what makes you think Liz isn't an airhead?"

"She's got like the highest grade point average in our class,” Max said.

"So she's a bookworm. Big deal. Grades don't mean you're smart."

"Says the guy who's always failing," Max noted.

"Says the guy who's always pretending to be learning," Michael retorted. "We could learn that stuff with our eyes closed."

"So why don't you?"

"Because it's beneath me. It's beneath you too. You just haven't figured that out yet."

Max shook his head and went back to his lunch as Michael stewed silently about a pet peeve of his, that being his reputation as a loser. School was deadly boring, consisting of vast quantities of useless information disgorged by teachers into their captive audiences who were then obliged to spit it back in the form of homework and tests, which weren't hard, exactly, just time consuming. When he was younger and with the Guerins, he'd been willing to play the game, at least to a certain extent. But ever since they'd divorced and he'd been moved to a different foster home, he'd found it hard to care. His foster father made it hard to care about anything.

The sound of raised voices caught his attention. Two men seated on the opposite side of the diner were engaged in what sounded like the beginnings of a heated argument. "That's not gonna end well," Michael muttered.

"What isn't?" Max asked, his eyes still mercifully on his lunch.

"Those dudes having an argument."

"Who? I haven't heard anything."

No, you wouldn't, Michael sighed. Because he was the one who had the knack for honing in on conflict, who was drawn to it like a moth to a flame. Maybe it came from watching the Guerins fight all the time, to the point where he could predict who would start the fight and when. Although that didn't explain his habit of sizing up every place in which he set foot, mentally cataloging the number of people present, their general demeanor, the number and placement of exits, and a host of other details which lined up in his brain like soldiers marching in parade. Why did he do that? He had no idea. It was like he was born knowing how to sniff out trouble. Maybe that's why he was so good at causing it.

Michael's self analysis stopped abruptly as Max succumbed to the lure of the bookworm and took another peek. "Great," Michael muttered when it became clear that he wasn't the only one who had noticed. "Now blondie's watching. And now she's telling Liz."

"They're just talking, Michael," Max said, glancing again.

"No, she's telling her you're staring," Michael said. "Wait for it....wait for it....."

Sure enough, after a brief conversation with blondie, Liz's head swung toward Max, who quickly looked away. "Nice, Maxwell," Michael deadpanned. "Very covert, very...."

He stopped, the hairs on the back of his neck rising. "What's wrong?" Max asked.

"Those guys," Michael whispered. "They're about to blow."

Max glanced toward the men. "They are? Says who?"

"Says me," Michael answered. "We should go."

"Why? Is this because of Liz? Because if it is, I—"

A loud crash cut him off. Every muscle in Michael's body tensed as both of the men leaped to their feet shouting, the dishes one had just swept off their table in pieces on the floor. "Maybe you're right," Max whispered. "Let's go."

Too late. "Get down!" Michael ordered only seconds before one of the men pulled a gun. Screams echoed across the café followed by a curious sinking noise as those screaming dropped to the floor. All except one, that is. Liz Parker, the bookworm, the smartest girl in the class, stood gaping at the gunman, frozen to the spot.

The gun went off. Liz crumpled to the floor just as the men decided that hanging around probably wasn't such a great idea. They left in a big hurry with very few noticing, almost every eye in the diner on the girl on the ground....except Michael's. He was watching Max, who was doing more than just watching. He was vaulting out of his seat.

"What are you doing?" Max hissed when Michael stopped him. "Let go of me!"

"Max, what are you gonna do?" Michael demanded.

But Max pushed past him. "Call an ambulance," he said to blondie, who was goggling in shock.

Holy shit, Michael thought desperately as Max went for Liz. Was he really going to try it right here, right now, in front of all these people?

Max bent over Liz and ripped her uniform open, settling that question. "Oh, my god!" breathed a woman with black lipstick as the crowd surged forward to see better.

"Hey, get back!" Michael ordered, throwing up his arms to block them. It was too late to stop Max from doing something idiotic, but maybe he could cut down on the number of witnesses. Everyone was staring, their eyes as wide as dinner plates as Max bent over the girl on the ground, touched her, seemed to crumple over her.....

"Is he okay?" black lipstick asked.

God only knows, Michael thought desperately, every second he stood there seeming to take forever. Max had healed small things before, but never anything this large. He had no idea if Max could even do that.

Or if they'd survive it if he did. "Keys! Now!" Michael barked as a siren blared in the distance, wondering if Max was even capable of responding or if he'd have to carry him out of here. Power did that to you, drained you of energy. But Max promptly reached into his pocket and tossed him the keys; Michael bolted for the door, practically vaulting into the jeep and jamming the keys into the ignition. The jeep roared to life and he slammed it into gear, pulling up just outside the Crashdown's door. C'mon, c'mon, he thought impatiently when Max wasn't instantly there. Times up, Maxwell. Time to run.

And run Max did, flying out the diner's door and into the jeep's passenger seat. Michael roared off, tires squealing, so intent on getting out of there that he only caught a glimpse of the girl with long dark hair and a large red stain on her front who watched them leave, wide-eyed.




***************************************************




Valenti residence




Swish

Jim Valenti blinked as he pulled the curtains aside, the morning sun blinding him. Make that "almost morning", he added sheepishly after glancing at the clock. 11:45 a.m.? Jesus, that was late. Ever since he'd started taking weekends off, or trying to, anyway, it seemed he'd been reverting to teenaged behaviors. Maybe it was true that you actually became more like the people you lived with.

The carpet was scratchy under his feet as he padded toward his son's bedroom and carefully cracked the door open. Kyle was sound asleep as he usually was at this hour on a Sunday, sprawled in one of his famous ungainly positions that looked dreadfully uncomfortable but apparently wasn't. Sleeping till noon....God, but that brought back memories. When he'd been a teenager he'd slept past noon at every available opportunity. It always felt decadent getting up when the sun was high in the sky and the rest of the world had been up for hours. "Getting up" didn't mean "waking up", of course; he woke up at the same time every morning, school or no school, with or without an alarm clock. His alarm clock had been the sound of his parents arguing, an almost daily occurrence in his house since the age of eight. On school days or during his summer jobs, his parents' angry voices floating down the hall or up the stairs had meant it was time to get up; days off allowed him to pull the covers over his head and roll over, waking up hours later when his father was long gone and his mother at least a little calmer. His friends had always complained about their alarm clocks, but at least theirs had had snooze buttons and batteries that could be removed or plugs that could be pulled, and if all else failed, you could hurl it across the room He'd had none of those options.

Valenti closed the door softly, catching a glimpse of the photo on the wall beside Kyle's bed just before the door swung shut. That picture had been taken when Kyle was very young, too young to remember the smiling woman on whose lap he'd been sitting, sunglasses perched jauntily on her head. Whenever he regretted being a single parent, whenever he felt like he'd failed his son by giving his mother the divorce she'd wanted, he reminded himself of what he'd spared Kyle by doing just that, all the arguments and the slammed doors, the accusations and the yelling. Having experienced both the noise of parents staying together longer than they should have and the relative silence of an early parting, he much preferred the latter. He could only hope Kyle felt the same.

The phone rang, and Valenti headed for the living room, stubbing his toe on the football pads left haphazardly on the floor. Cursing, he limped to the phone's cradle only to find it empty. And so the latest hunt for the handset began, a ritual now all too familiar in the Valenti household. It didn't help that two men tended to be messy creatures, which explained why he finally found the handset beneath a pile of laundry at the east end of the couch.

"Hello?" he said breathlessly.

"Sheriff Valenti? Did I wake you?"

Damn! In the race to find the handset, he'd neglected to check his Caller ID, just assuming it was the station, which would have been worlds better than who it was. "No," he answered, trying to keep the irritation out of his voice. "What can I do for you, Mrs. Cartwright?"

"There was an important matter I needed to discuss with you, Sheriff—"

"Important enough to bother me on a Sunday?" Valenti interrupted. "Look, I know my last check bounced, but that was the bank's mistake. I thought that was all cleared up."

"It is," Mrs. Cartwright answered, "and the late payment fee was deleted. This isn't about your father's account. It's about your father."

"What about my father?"

"You haven't been to see him in quite some time, and he's asking for you. Here at the The Haven, we take great pride in fostering the needs of our residents, and....."

Blah, blah, blah, Valenti thought as she droned on. Sophia Cartwright had been his father's case manager since he'd been admitted to The Haven back in '89 after he'd threatened Kyle's babysitter with a gun because he thought she was an alien. The Haven knew nothing about that, of course. Just like he knew nothing about the mysterious doctor whose signature had made it possible for his father to get into The Haven, the one who'd claimed to have known him. In the whirl of emotions he’d neglected to commit her name to memory, and he'd been afraid to ask, afraid to jinx his sudden good fortune.

"Therefore I would be derelict in my duty if I failed to inform you that nursing home residents thrive best when surrounded by friends and family," Mrs. Cartwright continued. "And given how long it's been since you visited—"

"Mrs. Cartwright, I really appreciate your concern," Valenti broke in, annoyed that the peace of his Sunday had been shattered and furious with himself for not checking the Caller ID. "But I really think that calling me on a Sunday morning is a bit over the top."

"Well, then, when should I call you?" Mrs. Cartwright asked, a faint note of exasperation in her voice. "I call the station, and you don't call back. I call your house, and I get the machine. This is the first time I've reached you after two weeks of trying."

"Have you ever considered that I'm not in a hurry to talk to you precisely because I get a lecture every single time we chat?" Valenti demanded.

"I'm not trying to 'lecture' you," Mrs. Cartwright said patiently. "I'm merely trying to—"

"Look, you and Dad both are going to have to realize something," Valenti said. "I'm his only son, so I'm the only one to field these calls. I'm also a single parent and the town sheriff. I have other responsibilities besides my father, and you're just going to have to accept that. Like I have to accept that I and I alone am responsible for my father, and I'll never make him happy even if I go up there six times a day for the rest of my life."

"I realize a parent's waning years can be trying," Mrs. Cartwright said soothingly, "but perhaps you could—"

"Perhaps you could stop badgering me," Valenti said tersely. "The nature of my job doesn't afford me the luxury of trotting up there every time he wants me to. I hope you have a nice Sunday, Mrs. Cartwright, in spite of the fact that you've ruined mine."

Valenti thwacked the phone into its cradle and leaned against the table, one hand over his eyes. God, but he'd just behaved badly. Not only had he hung up on his father's case manager, he'd also resorted to the dreaded phrase "nature of the job". His father had used that excuse constantly to explain everything from his work hours to his endless tromps through the woods hunting for aliens. It had been one of his mother's chief complaints, and to hear those words come out of his mouth now was nothing short of disturbing. He'd tried so hard not to follow in his father's shaky footsteps. Was it all for nothing? Was he destined to become his father anyway?

The phone rang again. Still mad at himself for having uttered that hated phrase, Valenti snatched it up and jabbed the button. "Yes?"

There was a long pause, so long it became annoying. "Hello?" he said sharply. "Say something, or I'm hanging up."

"Uh....sorry, sir," came a reluctant voice. "You know I wouldn't bother you at home on a weekend unless it was important."

Owen. "Deputy Blackwood," Valenti sighed. "I....I'm sorry. What is it?"

"There's been an incident, sir."

"What kind of incident?"

"A shooting, sir."

"A shooting?"

"Yes, sir."

"Someone fired a gun on a Sunday morning in my town?"

"Yes, sir. No one was hurt....at least, I don't think so."

Valenti blinked. "You don't 'think so'? What is there to think about? Either someone was hurt, or they weren't."

"Right. Well...I think you should come down here, sir. That's why I called you."

"And where's 'here'?"

"Dad?"

Valenti whirled around. Kyle was standing in his bedroom doorway, boxers askew and hair a mess. "I'll be there in a few minutes," Valenti said into the phone. "I just need to get dressed. Hold the fort, keep all witnesses there, and see to it that anyone who 'might' have been hurt gets looked at."

"Is something wrong?" Kyle asked as Valenti hung up the phone. "You sounded upset."

"Just some idiots stirring up trouble, and on a weekend, no less," Valenti said lightly. "Probably Crash Festival tourists who landed early. I'll take care of it. Go back to bed."

Kyle waited uncertainly for a moment before shuffling back to bed. Valenti heard the bed springs creak just as he turned on the water for a fast shower. Long practiced in the art of the quick exit, he was dressed and heading out the door only ten minutes later, buckling on his gun and shaking his head as he went. The Crashdown? he thought skeptically. Since when did anything bad ever happen at the Crashdown?




***************************************************




Evans residence



Michael pulled the jeep into the driveway of the Evans' house, shut off the engine, and punched the garage door opener. The door rumbled open as he and Max sat in silence, the same silence in which they'd ridden all the way from the café, both staring into space, lost in their own thoughts. Well, make that Max who was lost in his own thoughts. Michael wasn't thinking, he was seething.

"Did I see what I thought I saw back there?" Michael demanded.

There was a pause before Max answered. "I don't know. What do you think you saw?"

"I thought I saw a girl get shot, Maxwell. I thought I saw her fall. And then....and then I thought I saw her standing on her own two feet just before we left."

Silence. Max stared straight ahead. "So....does that mean it worked?" Michael ventured.

Max hesitated. "Yes," he said finally. "It worked. At least....I think it did."

"You 'think' it did," Michael echoed. "Does that mean it did, or didn't?"

"I.....it did. It worked."

Michael felt his chest constrict. "Christ, Maxwell, it worked? You've never fixed anything that big before."

"I know."

"I didn't even know you could do that."

"Neither did I," Max whispered.

"But now we do," Michael said. "And we're not the only ones. You know who else knows?" He leaned in closer, fastened his eyes on Max. "The whole God-damned town knows because you did it right in front of them!"

Max looked away, his jaw twitching. "Honestly, what got into you?" Michael exclaimed. "What made you blast out of your seat and try out for Superman in front of a crowd?"

"Liz was shot, Michael," Max said tersely. "She might have died."

"Then she would have died," Michael said bluntly. "That's a hell of a lot better than you dying."

"I'm not dead," Max retorted.

"Not yet," Michael corrected. "Just give them time. They'll catch up with you."

"Who is they?" Max demanded in exasperation. "And besides, I dumped a bottle of ketchup all over her dress and told her to say she'd spilled it."

"Oh, you 'told her'," Michael said scornfully. "Well, that settles it, doesn't it? I feel so much better."

"I told her not to say anything—"

"I don't care what you 'told her'," Michael interrupted sharply. "What makes you think she's actually going to keep her mouth shut?"

"She will," Max said. "Liz won't talk."

"Forgive me if I don't share your confidence in the female of the species," Michael said. "We don't know she won't talk. She could be blabbering right now to whoever was driving that siren."

"She won't talk," Max said firmly. "I know she won't."

"You don't even know her, so you don't—"

"Michael, don't waste your time," Max said firmly. "It's done."

"Oh, it's done, all right," Michael said bitterly. "That's the one thing we can agree on. It's done....and so are we."

"What's done?" another voice asked.

Max hesitated for just a moment before climbing out of the jeep and stalking past his sister, who was standing in the mouth of the garage. "What's done?" Isabel repeated as Max went by. "Max? What happened?"

"Nothing happened," Max's voice called back, followed by the sound of a door closing.

Isabel's eyes swung back to Michael as he gave a soft snort. " 'Nothing'?" he said skeptically. "Wow. Kind of makes me afraid to ask what he'd call 'something'."

"What happened?" Isabel demanded in alarm. "Did something bad happen?"

"If you call getting shot 'bad', then yes, something bad happened."

Isabel's eyes popped. " 'Shot'? Max got shot?"

"No, Max is fine. For now."

Isabel's eyes raked him anxiously. "Then...you got shot?"

"No, I'm fine too. For now."

"Michael, stop horsing around, and tell me what happened!" Isabel exclaimed.

Michael grabbed the jeep's roll cage and hoisted himself out. "Two guys were arguing at the Crashdown. They had a gun, and one of the waitresses was shot. Liz Parker."

"Oh, my God!" Isabel breathed. "Is she okay?"

"She is now. Maxwell saw to that."

He brushed past her, heading through the empty garage which announced their parents' absence and into the house as feet scrambled after him. "Michael! Michael, wait! What does that mean?"

"Ask Max," Michael said shortly.

A hand grabbed him, spun him around. "Believe me, I plan to," Isabel said firmly. "But now I'm asking you. What happened?"

Michael sighed and dug his hands into his pockets. There was no putting her off when she got like this. Isabel would hound you all the way to the ends of the Earth if that's what it took to get what she wanted.

"I told you: Two guys were fighting, one of them had a gun. The gun went off; Liz went down. And Max got up."

"Got up, and did....what?" Isabel asked warily.

Michael stared at the ceiling. "He fixed her, Isabel."

Isabel blinked. "Fixed...you mean....you mean he healed her? He healed a gunshot wound? Can he even do that?"

"I think we've settled that one, don't you?"

"But are you sure?" Isabel pressed. "Are you sure it worked?"

"She was down, and then she was up. Sure looked like it worked to me."

"But...." Isabel hesitated, swallowing hard. "Was anyone else there?"

"It was a Sunday afternoon at the Crashdown. What do you think?"

Isabel's eyes widened in horror. "So did anyone else see it?"

"Not 'anyone'," Michael corrected. " 'Everyone'."

Everyone. Isabel's mouth mouthed the word soundlessly as though unwilling to say it out loud as he pushed past her, heading down the hallway to Max's bedroom. Max was slumped on his bed, bent over, his hands laced behind his neck. "Max, is this true?" Isabel demanded in a brittle voice, having lost no time in following him. "Liz Parker got shot, and you healed her? Right in front of everyone?"

"Don't panic, Isabel," Max said. "It'll be all right."

"All right? All right?" Isabel echoed incredulously. "Do you have any idea what you just did?"

"As a matter of fact, I do," Max said, fastening his eyes on his sister. "I saved her life."

"You're sure of that?" Isabel said. "What if you're wrong? You've never done anything like this before, so maybe it didn't work. Or even if it worked, maybe it won't last. Maybe—"

"Maybe she'll be dead?" Max finished. "Yeah, that would make it all better, wouldn't it?"

Brother and sister eyed each other for a moment. "Yes, it would," Isabel said finally. " I'm sorry to say it, but it would make it better."

"You're not sorry," Max retorted. "Jesus, Iz, how selfish can you get?"

"I am not selfish!" Isabel exclaimed. "Do you realize what this means, Max? How is it selfish to not want what this means?"

"It doesn't mean anything, Isabel. I poured ketchup all over her and told her to say the bottle had broken. They'll buy it."

"You don't know that!" Isabel argued. "And even if they do, what makes you think she won't tell them anyway?"

"She won't," Max insisted.

"But how do you know?" Isabel demanded.

"Because she won't," Max said sharply, rising from the bed. "Because I know she won't. Because....because she's Liz."

Michael watched sympathetically as Isabel's mouth dropped open. He's got it bad, he thought. He'd had no idea Max was so far gone. And neither, apparently, had Isabel.

"Why, Max?" Isabel wailed as he stood at the window with his back to her. "Why would you do something like this? We never tell. That's the rule. We never tell anyone."

"I didn't tell her a thing," Max said.

"Don't you try that with me!" Isabel said angrily. "Showing involves telling, and you know it! And we never tell. Never. So why now? Why tell now?"

Max sighed, a weary resigned sound that made it clear he was tired of the harangue. "Because she was dying, Isabel," he said quietly. "Because she'd be dead right now if I hadn't. I couldn't let her die. I just couldn't."

"But you could let us die?" Isabel exclaimed.

"Stop it," Max said firmly. " No one's dying, not Liz, not me, not you, not Michael. No one."

Michael shook his head as Isabel looked at him, pleading with him for support. He was on her side, but what difference did it make? Max was right about one thing—it was done, and there was no undoing it, either the healing or his crush. Isabel seemed to sense that too because she sank down on the bed, wrapping her arms tightly around herself.

"So who do you think will come for us?" she said faintly.

"No one's coming for us," Max said.

Michael looked out the window. "You hope."




***************************************************



Crashdown Cafe



"Need me for anything else?" Valenti asked.

"No sir, we're fine," Hanson answered. "We've got a pile of statements; Owen is just finishing up the last two. Turns out there was only minimal damage to the café, and Jeff said insurance should cover it, no problem."

"Good," Valenti said. "If I shake a leg, I might make it home before Kyle gets up."

Hanson shook his head, grinning. "Teenagers. Don't remember ever sleeping that late when I was that age. Do you?"

"I remember wanting to more than I got the chance to," Valenti said. "Hope the rest of the day is dead boring for you."

"Me too, sir. Enjoy your Sunday."

"Sheriff, wait!" a voice called just as Valenti put his hand on the door. "Wait!"

Valenti turned around. A man and a woman were charging toward him like they were being chased, which they were; Owen Blackwood was hot on their heels, looking madder than a hornet. "Sheriff, I'm sorry about this," Owen said, flustered, an oddity given that very little flustered Owen. "Mr. Trilling, Miss Kattler, would you please stop bothering the sheriff and let us follow procedure? You've given your statements, and I took down every single word, word for word. Your comments have been noted."

"And we've already talked," Valenti said. "What's the problem?"

"The problem is that no one's taking us seriously," the woman declared.

"About?"

"Sheriff, that girl was shot," the man said firmly. "You weren't there, but we were. We know it. We saw it. She didn't just fall, she was shot. And then that boy went up to her and....did something to her."

Valenti looked at Owen, who rolled his eyes. "Mr....Trilling, was it?"

"Larry," the man said quickly. "Call me Larry. And this is Jen."

"Larry, then," Valenti said. "I know I wasn't there when the shooting occurred, but I also know that Miss Parker wasn't injured when I arrived. And you know that too."

"That's exactly the point," Jen said in exasperation. "She was shot, and then she wasn't. Doesn't that interest anyone, even a little bit?"

"And what about that boy, the one who ran out?" Larry interjected. "Doesn't anyone want to know who he is?"

"Or the other one, the one who held us back," Jen added. "They were sitting together, and that girl who was shot knew them. I know she said she didn't, but you saw her face, Sheriff. You know she was lying."

Valenti looked at Owen, who shrugged. "I'm sorry, sir, but it looks like the girl fell, and the boy was just concerned about her. She said she broke the ketchup bottle—"

"No, no, she didn't," Larry said firmly. "The boy broke the bottle."

"We saw him," Jen nodded vigorously. "He broke the bottle and poured ketchup all over her."

"Now, why on earth would he do that?" Owen demanded.

"That's what we'd like to know!" Larry exclaimed. "And I'd think you'd want to know too!"

"So why didn't anyone else mention him doing that?" Owen asked. "Everyone else said he just bent over her. You're the only two who said different."

"Well, then, why did he run?" Jen asked. "Why would he run away?"

"Any number of reasons," Owen answered. "Maybe he was embarrassed. Maybe he has feelings for this girl and doesn't want her boyfriend to know. These are teenagers we're talking about. Could be anything."

"Perhaps this isn't the best place for this conversation," Valenti said as Larry and Jen began erupting again, steering everyone toward the back as Owen shot him a sympathetic look. Wouldn't be the first time he hadn't been able to leave when he wanted to, and it wouldn't be the last. The door closed behind them, and Valenti put on his best concerned law enforcement face.

"Mr. Trilling, Miss....."

"Kattler," Owen said.

"Miss Kattler," Valenti finished, "I appreciate you taking the time to give us your statements and voice your concerns. I really do. It's responsible citizens like you that make this great democracy of ours what it is. Now," he continued as the two beamed at him, "I need to ask you something. Do you feel Deputy Blackwood honestly recorded your observations of this incident?"

"Well....yes," Larry allowed. "But he doesn't believe us."

"I'm not asking if you feel he believed you," Valenti said. "I'm asking if you feel your statements were recorded accurately."

Larry and Jen exchanged glances. "I....we....guess so," Jen said uncertainly.

"You 'guess so'?" Valenti echoed. "Does this mean you feel Deputy Blackwood did not faithfully record your account of the shooting this morning?"

Caught, Jen gave an impatient sigh. "Yes, he recorded everything we said," she admitted, "but—"

"No buts," Valenti said firmly. "If you're satisfied that Deputy Blackwood recorded your observations accurately, then you're done here. The incident is still under investigation, and you have my word we'll take your account of events into consideration, just as we will everyone else's accounts as well."

Larry and Jen exchanged another set of glances which made it clear that they knew where their observations would fall on the witness spectrum. Behind them, Owen Blackwood was giving them a satisfied told ya so look which he promptly dropped when he glanced at his boss. Granted these two were just tourists in town for the Crash Festival, that bane of his father's existence and, to a lesser extent, of his. But even alien crazy thrill seekers deserved at least a basic level of respect in his town, and he'd see to it they got it, even if their behavior would be the butt of jokes around the coffee pot for days to come.

"So no one's interested in the fact that a bullet was never found?" Larry asked.

" 'Never' is too ambitious a word for something that happened a couple of hours ago," Valenti answered. "We're still investigating the scene. We'll find it."

"No, you won't, because it went into the girl," Jen muttered.

"It's all in your statements, right?" Valenti asked as Owen nodded vigorously and waved the papers in his hand. "Then I'll read them myself, and you'll hear from me if I have any questions."

"You should have questions now!" Jen exclaimed. "A girl gets shot, then gets....'unshot', and nobody wants to know why?"

"If she was shot, why wasn't she bleeding?" Owen asked.

"She was!" Larry said in exasperation. "I tell you, she wasn't moving until....."

Damn it, Valenti sighed inwardly as Larry and Jen took off again. He'd been trying to wind this down, and here his own deputy had gone and fanned the flames again.

".....and then he bent over her for a good solid minute or two, put his hand on her right where she was shot, and—"

"What?"

Larry and Jen abruptly stopped talking. "What...what?" Larry asked.

"You said the boy went up to her," Valenti said. "You didn't say anything about him spending a couple of minutes bending over her or touching her."

"Yes, we did," Jen said deliberately, plucking their statements from Deputy Blackwood's hand. "In here. Our statements. You know, the ones you haven't read yet, but promised you will?"

"So what exactly did the boy do to her?" Valenti asked.

Jen looked ready to continue castigating him about their statements, but was shushed by a look from Larry, who wasn't about to squander the sudden gift of Valenti's attention. "The friend he was eating lunch with tried to hold him back, but this kid pushed him out of the way and went up to the girl on the floor," Larry said intently. "He opened up her uniform—"

"With both hands, just ripped it open," Jen added dramatically.

"Yeah, ripped it," Larry agreed, "and then he put his hand on her and just..."

"Just..... what?" Valenti asked.

"Just....held it there," Jen answered. "While we all stood there, and watched and waited. He just bent over her and held his hand on her....kind of pushed it into her stomach, almost....and then she moved. She was absolutely motionless, Sheriff, and then she moved."

"And then he broke the ketchup bottle and poured it all over her, and he and his friend hit the road fast," Larry added. "And the girl just stood up...."

"And she was fine," Jen whispered.

"It's all in the report, sir," Owen broke in. "I wrote down every word they said, just the way they said it. I even—"

"Deputy, do we have a copy of last year's high school yearbook at the station?" Valenti asked.

Owen blinked. "Yes, sir, we do. But—"

"Good. Have Mr. Trilling and Miss Kattler look through it and see if they can identify the two boys they saw. Let me know if they recognize anyone."

Valenti walked out, ignoring both his deputy's stunned expression and the triumphant expressions on Larry's and Jen's faces. Tomorrow he would say that all he'd been trying to do was make the tourists feel listened to so they would shut up and go away. If giving them this one last task and refusing to so much as wink at his deputy made them feel vindicated, so be it. A small price to pay for peace and quiet and community relations. He would say that...but he'd be lying. Because the real reason he'd assigned that one last task was that his mind had fastened on a single word, repeating over and over in his mind like a broken record.

Hand.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


I'll post Chapter 2 on Sunday, July 18th, which will get us back on our regular Sunday schedule. :)
Last edited by Kathy W on Sun Feb 02, 2014 4:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
BRIVARI: "In our language, the root of the word 'Covari' means 'hidden'. I'm always there, Your Highness, even if you don't see me."

User avatar
Kathy W
Obsessed Roswellian
Posts: 685
Joined: Thu Oct 31, 2002 5:06 am

Re: Birthright *Series* (CC, TEEN), Chapter 1, 7/7

Postby Kathy W » Sun Jul 18, 2010 4:47 pm

CHAPTER TWO


September 20, 1999, 7:05 a.m.

Evans residence




Isabel Evans tossed another sweater on the bed, the towering pile already there threatening to topple. "No," she muttered, holding up another in front of her full length mirror. Toss. "No." Toss. "No, no, no."

There was a faint knock on her bedroom door; the door cracked open, and Max's head appeared. "Iz? If we wait any longer, we'll be late. Are you...." He paused, pushing the door open. "You're not even dressed yet."

Isabel arched an eyebrow. "Do all brothers wander into their sister's bedrooms while they're dressing?"

"You're way more dressed than you are at the beach, and I didn't wander, I knocked," Max reminded her. "You could have said 'stay out'. Why didn't you?"

"Never mind," Isabel sighed, tossing the latest reject on the pile. "It's just a bra."

"What's all this?" Max asked, gazing at the laden bed. "I know you like your clothes, but this is a whole other level."

"I want to look right."

" 'Right'?"

"Yeah, you know....right."

"You mean....'human'?"

"Yes, Max, I mean 'human'," Isabel said sharply. "And I wouldn't have to worry about this at all if it weren't for you."

Max closed the door behind him and stuffed his hands in his pockets. "It's okay," he said gently. "You saw the paper this morning...not so much as a peep. It'll be okay. Just ignore it."

"And what about Liz? Will she just ignore it?"

"She's probably so confused that she doesn't know what happened," Max said. "I'll see her in Biology today, and then we'll know. But even if she says something, and I don't think she will, she can't prove anything." He paused, snagging the sweater on top of the pile. "Wear this one. It goes with your eyes."

Isabel shook her head. "Too ostentatious. The last thing I want to do today is stand out."

"Well, pick something, because we have to leave."

"No, you have to leave. I've made alternate arrangements. Don't worry, I won't be late to school," Isabel added. "I don't want to stand out by being late either."

He left, and Isabel leaned her head against the mirror, closing her eyes. This wasn't the first time they'd almost been caught. She and Michael had—stupidly—used their powers in ways that had drawn puzzled attention which had served as a reminder to not do that again....until the next time, that is. Her transgressions usually involved not realizing she was being observed, while Michael's involved just plain not thinking. Max was the only one who had never been in that situation, who had never once stumbled and done something he shouldn't have, so to have him do something so massive so publicly was virtually unheard of. Interestingly, the only one who didn't seem concerned about that was Max. Michael, by contrast, had left yesterday afternoon to prepare for the onslaught of whatever, and she....she had curled on her bed in her room, absolutely terrified, not even willing to come out for dinner. Her mother had kindly brought a tray to her room and, not for the first time, Isabel had been almost overwhelmed by the urge to tell her the truth, to spill the secret they had all kept so carefully. The need to confide had always been strong, but the need to have an adult on their side suddenly loomed larger than ever. She swore that if her mom had stayed so much as 30 more seconds in her room last night, she would have blurted out everything.

But Diane had left promptly, after the standard parental probings to see if this was illness, friends, or boys, that is. Isabel had fallen into an exhausted sleep which had mercifully lasted until morning, when she'd been awakened by the sound of a newspaper being shoved under her door. The shooting at the Crashdown had, not unexpectedly, made the front page, the words wobbling in front of her as she held the newspaper with hands that shook badly. But there had been no mention of anyone being hurt or anything weird happening, not even a hint. Max was right; whatever he'd done had apparently been missed. A few early morning phone calls to friends disguised as musings about what to wear had confirmed that; no one was overly concerned about it, probably because it hadn't happened to anyone they cared about, Liz Parker not being one of the "it" crowd. So Isabel had finally emerged from her bedroom to have breakfast with the family, breathing easily for the first time since yesterday afternoon.

But doubt had set in again when she'd gone to get dressed. Her friends were one thing, but the whole school was another. Liz Parker may be the quintessential bookworm, but presumably she had some friends somewhere, so someone must be interested in what had happened to her. What if one of those someones had noticed something and it just wasn't showing up on the radar because Liz didn't move in Isabel's circle? She needed to make extra certain that she called no attention to herself, a tall order as she drew people's attention even when actively trying not to. Being gorgeous could be a burden, and that burden had never seemed heavier as she pawed through her extensive wardrobe for something that was understated, but not so different that it would cancel out the "understated" part.

Isabel glanced at the clock; it was almost 7:10, which meant her ride was leaving. Settling on a plain sweater with small earrings and no other jewelry, she pulled her hair back into a utilitarian ponytail, slipped her feet into the most boring pair of shoes she owned, grabbed her books, and made a beeline for the driveway.

"I'm here," she said breathlessly, climbing into the car. "We can go."

The car pulled out, and Isabel felt her breakfast churning in her stomach like this weekend's laundry. Everyone in Roswell went to the Crashdown. Everyone in Roswell knew the Parkers, the Crashdown's owners; that was one of the reasons Liz Parker got a pass in the catty department, because no one wanted to tick off her parents and risk being barred from the local watering hole. No matter what the newspaper said, someone must have noticed something yesterday. The fact that the paper hadn't reported it could mean nothing; didn't the sheriff keep certain details quiet when something was under investigation? Would there be cars with flashing lights waiting for her at school? Was it wise to have let Max go on ahead of her? What if someone had been waiting for him? What if they took him away, and she never saw him again? What if....

Stop it, she told herself fiercely. If there had been any question, any road that led to Max, someone would have come to their house, not waited for them at school. And Max was right; no one could prove anything, including Liz. Government officials always used the term "plausible denial" when they wanted to hide something. Perhaps that was the best strategy here, that and convincing her lovesick brother not to heal chicks in public. But since he'd lapsed on the latter, the former would have to do. They would all have to act normal, and in an effort to practice doing just that, Isabel rummaged through her pile of books and binders, mentally ticking down the homework that was due and the quizzes which were looming. Crap....she'd remembered to tuck her new pencils in her pencil case, but she'd forgotten to sharpen them.....

A moment later, Isabel froze in horror. She'd just sharpened one of her pencils....without the aid of a pencil sharpener. She did that all the time without even thinking about it, but she'd have to think about it now. Imagine if someone saw her do that. Imagine if what had never meant a thing now meant a good deal more in the wake of her brother's foolishness....

"Isabel? We're here."

Isabel startled back to the present. The car had pulled up beside the curb outside the school, and she hadn't even noticed, so preoccupied was she with the offending pencil held up in front of her like it was a recently discovered grenade. "Right," she said quickly, setting it down in the cup holder, unwilling to bring it inside, as though anyone seeing it would know right away that it hadn't been sharpened in any conventional manner. "Sorry."

"You okay? You haven't said a word."

Isabel managed a smile. "I'm fine. I'm just...preoccupied. School and all. You remember, right?" She gathered her books, leaned in for a kiss. "Thanks for the ride, Grandma Dee. You're the best."

She climbed out slowly, scoping the place out. No flashing lights, no paddy wagons, nothing unusual at all. Just kids streaming into school, all blissfully ignoring her except for the knot of friends headed her way, the looks on their faces already registering their disbelief at her plain Jane outfit. Excellent. She'd worried for nothing, and now she could go inside, safely surrounded by friends.

So intent was she on entering that protective bubble that she didn't see her Grandmother pick up the abandoned pencil and gaze at it thoughtfully.




*****************************************************



West Roswell High School




West Roswell's school secretary shifted uncomfortably behind her counter. "But why do you want to know, sheriff? Did they do something wrong? If it were anything serious, you'd be asking for records, not my personal experience."

"I'm just tying up some lose ends in an investigation, that's all," Valenti said soothingly. "And of course I'm not asking for records; that would have to be an official request, and this is just a friendly conversation. Kind of like that friendly conversation we had a few weeks ago when you were doing 50 in a 35 mile per hour zone."

Mrs. Wilson reddened. "You mean the one where I begged you not to write me a ticket because my insurance would skyrocket?"

"That would be the one," Valenti confirmed. "We made a deal, you and I, that I'd let you off as long as I didn't catch you at it again. And I'll make you a deal here and now that if I need actual records, I'll jump through all the necessary hoops. All I need now is to see these kids through your eyes because I know you see everything that goes on in this school, and I trust your interpretation of what you see."

Mrs. Wilson's smile told Valenti he'd hit the right button. Flattery always worked, but it never hurt to remind someone when they owed you a favor. "Well," Mrs. Wilson said, leaning further over the counter and lowering her voice to a conspiratorial whisper, "the first one, Max Evans, is an all around good kid. Quiet, good student, good grades, never gets into trouble. Michael Guerin, on the other hand, is just the opposite: Cuts classes, mouths off, pretty much has a seat in the principal's office with his name on it."

"Is he passing?" Valenti asked.

"Just barely," Mrs. Wilson answered. "Everything with Michael is 'just barely'. Just barely passes, just barely misses getting suspended, just barely gets moved on to the next grade. Then again, I'm not surprised given his upbringing."

"Which is.....?"

"He's a foster kid," Mrs. Wilson explained. "Since he was quite young, 6 or 7 or so. I gather he started with a stable family, but they divorced, and he's been bounced around. His latest is no prize, I can tell you that. He's only darkened the door of this school once, and that was quite enough for me."

"And the Evans kid?"

"Oh, very nice family," Mrs. Wilson beamed. "Mr. Evans is a lawyer, and Mrs. Evans is a homemaker, I think. There's just the two kids, Max and his sister Isabel. All around good eggs. You'd never know they were adopted."

"Adopted?" Valenti repeated. "You mean all three of those kids, the Evans kids and Guerin, were adopted?"

"They sure were," Mrs. Wilson nodded. "Although in Michael's case, it didn't work out as well."

"Guess not," Valenti agreed. "Thanks for the lowdown. I really appreciate it."

"Any time," Mrs. Wilson assured him.

That's not what you told me when I first asked, Valenti thought dryly as he made his way out to his cruiser. But no matter; she'd talked, and that was what counted. Of the two kids fingered by the very persistent Larry and Jen, it would appear Guerin would be the one most likely to have passed his way. But neither boy had a record, nor was there anything to charge them with or even suspect them of; even if Larry's and Jen's fantastic story were true, it was hardly against the law to help the injured. But the continued absence of a bullet still piqued his interest, as did the specter of a boy bending over an injured girl and placing his hand on her. Wild horses wouldn't drag out of him what that image brought to mind, so he was reduced to more underhanded ways of getting information, like shaking down the school secretary.

Or the good old tail, he added when he spotted his two suspects and a girl hopping into a jeep at the far end of the parking lot. Larry and Jen had claimed Evans and Guerin had left the Crashdown yesterday in a jeep and in a big hurry, with Guerin driving. Now Evans was driving, and Valenti hurried to his cruiser and tailed them from a distance. They stopped at a roadside roach coach, got their food, sat down together, appeared to be having some sort of argument....and then the Guerin kid abruptly got up and left, the other two following. Or that's what it looked like through his binoculars, anyway, the pair he kept in the glove compartment for just such occasions. Mr. Evans, Valenti thought, pulling out after them and stepping on the accelerator, it's time that you and I met.

He turned on his lights, watching with interest to see what the kids would do. After a moment's hesitation where he thought they might run, the jeep pulled over to the side of the road and stopped, Valenti pulling up behind. So far, so good. How people behaved at traffic stops told you all sorts of things about them.

Three pairs of eyes fastened on him when he drew abreast of the vehicle. The driver was a serious, dark-haired kid who watched him warily. In the passenger seat was a wild-haired boy of about the same age who made no effort to hide the resentment in his eyes. The girl in back was also about the same age, and scared. Quite scared.

"Your license and registration please," Valenti said.

"Of course, officer."

The dark-haired driver handed over the documents. So this was Max Evans. The jeep was registered in his father's name.

"Thank you, Mr. Evans," Valenti said, handing back the documents. “We had a little trouble at the Crashdown Café yesterday. You kids be careful out there."

"Yes, sir," Max said quickly. A little too quickly, which Valenti didn't miss, nor did he miss a faint clink. Max's foot had bumped a bottle on the floor of the jeep.

"Watch your speed," Valenti advised. "Arrive alive."

"We will," Max assured him.

Valenti took his time walking back to his cruiser and pulling away, driving slowly, watching the little group in his rear view mirror. They sat there for a minute having what appeared to be yet another heated conversation before the boy on the passenger side got out and walked away, apparently in a huff. He had no idea what that was all about, but one thing was clear—Max Evans had been at the Crashdown yesterday. Those bottles of Tabasco sauce on the floor of his jeep, which Valenti had inspected closely to make certain they're weren't beer bottles, matched the Tabasco bottles at the table where Larry and Jen said Max had been sitting. An odd culinary habit, if ever there was one.

But hardly illegal, he added as he sped up, the jeep now far behind him. The kids had pulled over promptly and behaved respectfully. However interesting Larry and Jen's tale, the fact remained that no one had accused them of wrongdoing, and Liz Parker remained unscathed. The memories that tale had dredged up, the associations he was making in the dark corners of his mind, could be safely abandoned. And it was just as well.

After all, look what had happened to his father.




******************************************************



Westside Manor




"It's almost lunch time," Emily said. "Are you ready to go?"

"Almost," David answered. "I just need to put my shoes on."

"Well, put them on, then. It's almost time to go."

Dee gave her father a sympathetic look as he avoided further discussion and put his shoes on even though it was a good thirty minutes before lunch would be served. She wasn't looking forward to the day when her world shrank to the point where meals were the most exciting thing she had to look forward to.

"I see they put some fall decorations up," Dee said in an attempt to change the subject. "Your Activities Director really goes all out. I've never seen this many scarecrows indoors."

"Sometimes she goes a little too far," David answered. "Like all those hot dogs at the Fourth of July picnic. Most of the people here can't eat hot dogs."

"Maybe they were for the guests," Dee suggested.

"Do you have your shoes on?" Emily asked. "It's time to go to lunch."

"Lunch isn't until noon, Em," David said gently. "We've still got a few minutes."

"You do what you want, but I'm going now," Emily declared. "I'll hold your place."

"No, I'll go with you," David sighed. "Let me get your walker."

"No," Emily said, rising slowly from her chair. "I don't need that thing."

"It makes walking a lot easier, Mama," Dee said. "The dining room is a ways away."

"I live here, so I know how far away the dining room is, thank you very much," Emily said tartly. "And I don't need that. I'll use the hand rails."

Dee looked at her father, who shrugged and waited patiently while Emily shuffled slowly toward the door of their room. It was the same every week; repeated announcements that lunch was imminent as much as an hour beforehand, followed by a much too early trek to the dining room, always without the walker which Medicare had paid for and which Emily needed badly. The arthritis which had annoyed her while in her seventies had progressed to the point where she was now stooped and shuffled painfully everywhere she went, steadying herself on nearby walls and furniture with hands whose joints were permanently stiffened and sore. She'd lost none of her fierce independence or her sharp tongue, however, which made for a challenging package. David, as usual, managed better than Dee, being long practiced in the art of diplomacy, while Dee usually spent these weekly visits biting her tongue into tiny little pieces with varying degrees of success.

They finally reached the hallway, and the marathon began, Emily moving slowly with one hand on the rails which lined the Manor's hallways, David and Dee following behind. Emily's daily premature anticipation of meals was hardly unique; most of the Manor's residents had hit the road, some shuffling like Emily, most pushing walkers, a few on electric scooters. Westside was an assisted living facility which had one golden rule: You had to be able to make it to the dining room under your own steam. Once you reached the point where you couldn't voluntarily leave your own room, the next step up was a nursing home. And for her parents that would mean separation because, so far, time had largely spared David. He was remarkably spry for a man in his eighties, much more so than most of Westside's residents, who more closely resembled Emily. David was here not because he needed this level of care, but because he wanted to be with his wife, a wife who apparently felt that her thrice daily painful journeys to the dining room put off the day when she would have to leave. Dee was of the opinion that using the walker might be a better way to do that, but she'd never be able to get that through to her mother.

"So what's on your mind?" David asked, dodging a little old lady doing 50 mph. down the hall and threatening to use her walker as a battering ram.

"Do I look like there's something on my mind?" Dee asked.

"Yes," David said blandly, "and something more than just your mother's stubbornness. Which is all that gets her out of bed some days, by the way."

Dee drifted further toward the wall as the stream of Manor residents anticipating a meal swelled to a flood. "I took Isabel to school today. Something happened yesterday that upset her badly, something that kept her in her room most of yesterday afternoon and evening. She didn't reappear until breakfast this morning."

"What happened?"

"I don't know," Dee answered in frustration. "My son is oblivious, and my dear darling daughter-in-law didn't do much besides bring her a tray of dinner and pat her on the head."

"Diane has always been very in tune with Isabel," David reminded her. "I'd trust her instincts."

"She may be 'in tune' with Isabel, but I'm the one in tune with Max. And something was up with him too. He wasn't hiding, but he looked like he'd like to. And Michael was there looking like the end of the world was coming."

"How is Michael?"

"All right, I guess," Dee sighed. "I do wish Brivari would do something about that awful foster father of his. He says he tried, but there are very few fosters parents for older teenagers."

"He 'says' he tried....does that mean you don't believe him?" David asked.

They had reached the center lounge, where the main entrance and front desk were located. Straight ahead was the hallway which held all the administrative offices, the activity room, and, at the end, the dining room, a large airy room nicely decorated like an upscale restaurant. While the dining room may be large and airy, the hallway leading to it was standard issue, which accounted for the traffic jam currently clogging it. Emily slowed to a stop ahead of them, leaning on someone else's walker for support.

"I'm sure he tried," Dee allowed. "It's just that he isn't here as much as he used to be. He was around all the time until a year or so ago, and now I haven't seen him in months. It's like he's given up."

"Can you blame him?" David said gently. "They haven't remembered. We were all expecting them to snap back pretty quickly. Who would have guessed that a decade later, they still wouldn't remember."

"But they know they're different," Dee insisted. "I know they do."

"Knowing they're different and knowing why are two different things," David said. "And they're still not old enough to tell them why, not by Dr. Johnson's standards."

"I know," Dee sighed. "I just...." She paused, wrestling with that niggling feeling she'd been having all morning. "It wasn't just Isabel hiding. She sharpened her pencil in the car on the way to school this morning....you know....they way they do. And then she looked shocked, like she shouldn't have done that. Like she was scared someone had seen her."

"Maybe she was," David said. "She doesn't know you know."

"But she's done things like that ever since she was a child, and she's never worried about it before," Dee said. "She wasn't obvious about it; no one else would have noticed but me. So why was she looking so scared?"

"Look," David said, "if anything major had happened, you would have heard about it, right? It's probably just some teenage thing. They are teenagers, after all." He paused, watching the traffic jam thin. "I should go join your mother before she forgets I came with her. Don't worry, honey. It's been ten years, and no one's found them. There's no reason to expect anyone will now."




******************************************************



10:00 p.m.

Roswell Sheriff's station




"Dad?"

Valenti looked up from his desk to find Kyle poking his head into the office. "I was on my way home, and I saw your car here," Kyle explained. "Just wondered if anything was wrong."

"No, nothing's wrong," Valenti answered. "Just finishing up some paperwork. I came back after we had dinner because I was out for awhile this afternoon and didn't get to everything."

"Yeah, I know," Kyle said. "You were at school."

Valenti blinked. "How'd you know that?"

"I saw you. It was lunchtime, and you were on the other side of the parking lot. I called half a dozen times, but you just hopped in your car and took off."

After Max Evans, Valenti thought. Jesus; his own son had been within yelling distance, and he hadn't even heard him, so intent had he been on his target. Shades of his father.

"I'm sorry about that, Kyle. Guess I had a lot on my mind. How'd your date go?"

Kyle hesitated. "That's.....kinda why I'm here."

"Oh? Liz okay?"

"Yeah, but....."

"But....what?"

Kyle glanced back down the hallway. "Can we talk? Privately?"

"Sure thing," Valenti said promptly, setting down his pen and pushing his chair away from the desk the way he often wished his father had. "Come on in. Close the door."

Valenti wheeled his chair around to the front side of his desk, expecting Kyle to take a seat opposite him. But he didn't, just stood there with his hands jammed in his pockets looking supremely uncomfortable.

"Geez Louise," Valenti said lightly. "We already had that talk about how to put on a condom, so I hope this isn't—"

"Dad!" Kyle said quickly, holding up a hand. "Don't go there. Besides, Liz isn't like that. She's not....easy. And neither am I," he added quickly, as though that may be in doubt.

"Good to know," Valenti said. "What, then? I gather this is about more than just a really bad movie."

Not sure I'm ready for this, Valenti thought uneasily as Kyle dithered further. His son was usually blunt to a fault, so to see him so tongue-tied was downright alarming. "For God's sake, Kyle, spit it out! You're giving me a heart attack."

"Okay," Kyle said, perching on the edge of a chair. "I'm just afraid I'm going to sound....nuts. Promise me you won't have me committed?"

"Not without a twenty-four hour waiting period," Valenti deadpanned.

"Dad, I'm serious," Kyle said disapprovingly.

"So am I."

"Dad!"

"Okay, fine, I won't have you committed," Valenti said soothingly. "I won't laugh, I won't even smile. You're not usually this serious, so I was just trying to lighten the mood. Now....out with it."

"Okay. Well....you know how you said a gun went off at the Crashdown yesterday, but nobody was hurt?"

"Yeah. What about it?"

"Well....Maria DeLuca....she's a waitress at the Crashdown, and she was—"

"There yesterday. I know."

"Okay....well, the word is that Maria thinks Liz was hurt."

"You're friends with Maria?"

"No. Not my type. But some people overheard Maria talking....frankly, it's a miracle the whole county doesn't hear Maria talking, the way her voice carries.....and they say that she says that she thinks that Liz got hurt somehow."

A prickle of unease crept along Valenti's spine. This was exactly the same claim made by Larry and Jen. He'd dismissed their story earlier today, partly on the basis of his uneventful encounter with Max Evans and partly because they were the only witnesses to what they claimed had happened. If there was another witness, that changed the picture.

"So what exactly does Maria think happened?" Valenti asked.

"That's just it, she didn't know," Kyle shrugged. "And I wrote it off because Liz was fine, and she was fine tonight."

"So what's the problem?"

"The problem is....I saw something tonight, Dad. Something....weird."

"Weird how?"

"Remember, you promised not to laugh." Valenti nodded wordlessly, and Kyle sucked in a breath. "Okay...here goes. Liz had this really weird silver mark on her stomach tonight."

Valenti's heart began to pound. "Silver mark? What kind of silver mark?"

"It looked...." Kyle stopped. "Jesus, this sounds retarded," he muttered.

"Never mind what it sounds like, Kyle. What did it look like?"

"Like.....like a handprint," Kyle said, his eyes on the floor. "Like a silver handprint. Which I know is, like, totally bizarre, and just completely out there. I only saw it for a second, so I've been telling myself that maybe I saw it wrong. But it was so clear, even for that second, and the fact that it's so weird is what makes me think I didn't see wrong. But then I think I'm just obsessing over what Maria said, or what someone said she said, and then....." He paused. "Am I nuts?"

Valenti said nothing for a moment, just sat there watching his son's face, weighing his options. Finally he stood up and headed for a file cabinet directly behind Kyle, rifled through it, pulled something out. Grabbing a couple of pieces of plain paper off his desk, he positioned them carefully and stood back.

"I can't show you the whole thing," he told Kyle. "Confidentiality rules, you know.....but I want you to tell me if this is anything like what you saw tonight."

Kyle hesitated before rising from his chair, looking at the partially obscured photograph almost fearfully. He was taking an awful risk, doing this. If Kyle freaked out....

But Kyle did just the opposite, breaking into a relieved smile. "That's it!" he exclaimed. "That's exactly what I saw. So you know about this. You've seen it before. I'm not crazy. What is it, anyway? Some kind of tattoo?"

"Something like that," Valenti murmured.

"Probably some girl thing," Kyle said in disgust. "Anyway, Liz is okay, so Maria must be imagining things."

Valenti slid the papers over the photograph. "Right. Liz is okay."

"Thanks, Dad," Kyle said gratefully. "I was just all weirded out by what Maria was saying, and then when I saw that hand print....well, I guess I just overreacted. And then I saw your car here on my way home, and.....geez, if I hadn't stopped, I'd be up all night thinking about this, and now I can just forget about it."

"You do that," Valenti said. "Glad to help. I'll be home shortly."

Kyle left a happy camper, and Valenti managed to keep a smile on his face until he was gone before collapsing in a chair, shaking all over. He'd had himself convinced that this Crashdown incident was nothing, that Trilling and Kattler were just a couple of mouth-breathing tourists anxious to find aliens in Roswell. And now his own son, of all people, had gone and reopened a very old memory, one that had been a catalyst in destroying his childhood and had reared its ugly head again in '89, which resulted in him having his father committed. And now here it was again, the elusive silver handprint which had apparently killed a John Doe back in 1959, after which the body had been promptly confiscated by the FBI.

His hand still shaking, Valenti pulled the photograph toward him, the covering pieces of paper falling to the floor. If the handprint had killed back in '59, why was Liz Parker alive? Could it give as well as take? What else could it do? Those questions banged around in Valenti's brain like popcorn in a popper, along with a declaration his father had made when he'd mistaken Kyle's babysitter for an alien.

But that's how they do it, don't you see, Jimmy? They look like us.

Wheeling the chair around to the other side of the desk, Valenti reached into a drawer and pulled out West Roswell High School's latest yearbook. Last year's freshman class had dutifully assembled on the front steps of the school as classes always did, some kids smiling, others mugging, others looking bored. There was Liz Parker, the miracle girl, and Maria DeLuca, the skeptical waitress. Further up the rows was Kyle; goodness, but he'd looked a lot younger just last year. And five kids over from him was Max Evans, his dark eyes burning through the photograph just like they did in real life. And looking just like us, Valenti thought grimly, remembering something else his father had said on that painful night.

I always knew they'd be back. They always come back.

Valenti slammed the book shut and thumped it on the desk, locking both hands behind his neck, rocking back and forth in his chair. He'd always thought his father mad. Everyone had. But what if he wasn't? What if he'd been telling the truth? What if "they" were not only back, but loose in his town? He knew what his father had done about it, or tried to. What was he going to do about it?

Five minutes later Valenti reached across the desk and gave his Rolodex a whirl. He dialed quickly, stabbing the buttons with an impatient finger, drumming his fingers on the desk as the phone rang once, twice, three times before he heard an answering click.

"FBI Headquarters. How may I direct your call?"



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


I'll post Chapter 3 next Sunday. :)
BRIVARI: "In our language, the root of the word 'Covari' means 'hidden'. I'm always there, Your Highness, even if you don't see me."

User avatar
Kathy W
Obsessed Roswellian
Posts: 685
Joined: Thu Oct 31, 2002 5:06 am

Re: Birthright *Series* (CC, TEEN), Chapter 2, 7/18

Postby Kathy W » Sun Jul 25, 2010 5:44 pm

Hello and thank you to everyone reading!



CHAPTER THREE



September 21, 1999, 1:30 p.m.

West Roswell High School




Tweeeeet!

Max Evans felt Tony Percy slam into him, only barely keeping his balance. Across the gymnasium a dozen other Percy clones did the same, trying to take down their teacher-chosen opponent for this day's gym class activity, wrestling. Here he'd thought he'd lucked out today, having been assigned to an opponent much closer to his own size than usual. But whatever Percy lacked in bulk, he made up for in eagerness, so naturally what he'd thought was a reprieve had turned out to be nothing of the sort. Naturally he'd drawn the short straw.

So why wasn't that bothering him? Because nothing is, Max thought, pushing back just enough to hold them at a stalemate. Yesterday he'd woken up to the unthinkable—a world where someone else knew he was an alien. He'd always known that day would come, but contrary to what he'd thought would happen, what they'd all thought would happen....nothing happened. The Earth turned, the sun shone, and breakfast was on the table. The phone did not ring. There were no flashing lights on the lawn, no men in white coats to take him away. No, life had been absolutely, totally normal, if you didn't count the fact that there was one extra person in this building who knew he was an alien.

The whistle blew again. Percy waited a few seconds before reluctantly stopping, eyeing Max like he wanted to eat him. The teacher droned on about some of wrestling's finer points, assuming wrestling had any finer points, and Max let his mind wander, back to last night, when he'd done something with Liz far more terrifying than saving her life.

He almost hadn't. After seeing Michael's and Isabel's reaction to his having told Liz the truth and being stopped by Valenti, he'd been on edge. They were all on edge, Michael especially, who'd blown off the rest of the school day, although frankly, he frequently did that anyway. But as the day had worn on into evening and nothing untoward happened, Max had started wondering what Liz was going through. He and Michael and Isabel were all scared, scared to face something strange and frightening. But wouldn't Liz be feeling exactly the same way and for exactly the same reasons? And if she was, wouldn't staying away from her be the worst thing he could do? Leaving her alone with all those fears and her own imagination seemed much worse than filling that void with the truth. He wasn't happy with the way they'd left things yesterday after the whole cells-under-the microscope bit. The way she'd rushed out, the look on her face....that look still bothered him. That look was his fault. That look was because of him.

He'd waited until Isabel was holed up doing homework before heading out under the pretense of borrowing a textbook, and then waited even longer for Liz's room light to turn on, to hear her moving on the balcony above. It was only then that he'd called to her from the street below, on pins and needles as to the reaction he'd get. Would she let him in? Would she even speak to him? What if she was too afraid of him to let him near her?

But she did let him in, and he made it through the first few sentences of his laboriously prepared speech before blowing it all by laughing at the memory of her in that poofy cupcake dress. He'd almost freaked her out by making her think he could read minds, and in his haste to reassure her, he'd impulsively offered to try to reverse the "connection", their word for those flashes of memory and thought that he, Michael, and Isabel shared on occasion. Which had been exceptionally stupid because, first of all, he had no idea if that would work with her, and secondly, he wasn't at all sure he'd want her to see whatever it was she would see. Then again, he'd just told her the biggest secret of his life. What more was there to tell?

So he'd tried. He'd thought about her, and how he felt about her, and hoped that would come through in whatever she saw, that she'd at least know that he wasn't some monster from outer space looking to turn her into his next snack. She'd told him it had worked, and judging from the look on her face, a slightly dazed but satisfyingly less frightened one than she'd worn earlier that day, it had. He'd left after that, having completely forgotten the rest of his speech but taking comfort in the fact that, whatever she'd seen, it hadn't scared her, but had actually seemed to comfort her. And he'd lain awake much of that night wondering what she'd seen, having wanted to know in the worst way, but been too afraid to ask.

Not that it mattered, because she couldn't have seen much. He led a quiet life in the shadows, the only place he felt comfortable, the only place he felt safe. Even his "otherness" wouldn't have been much on display because all of them knew precious little about themselves, having shared what little they knew years ago when they'd finally been reunited with Michael. They'd always known someone was missing, and they'd spent first and second grade scanning the halls and gazing out windows, looking for the missing piece. That missing piece had finally stepped off a school bus on the first day of third grade, the first time they'd all attended the same school. He, Michael, and Isabel had been inseparable since then, first at school because his mom and dad didn't like Michael much, and then outside of school when they'd gotten older and acquired their own transportation in the form of bikes and cars. One of the first things they'd done was connect with each other, he and Isabel contrasting their memories with Michael's because each of them knew, without saying a word, that they didn't belong here.

It had turned out there hadn't been much to share. All of them remembered breaking free of some sort of suffocating pod, of the air rushing into their lungs; even now, after all this time, Max still sometimes had nightmares about not being able to breathe, clawing at his covers like it was the pod that once held him. They all remembered suddenly being very, very cold, of wandering the desert. They remembered the orphanage, the rows of children sitting at rows of tables, the long hallways, the big windows.

But most of those memories were just pictures, and jumbled, fleeting pictures at that. What most of them remembered was not what they'd seen or what they'd done back when they'd first appeared, but what they'd felt. And what they'd felt was a curious string of emotions beginning with puzzled detachment, advancing to a fierce longing and ending with....fear. All of them recalled a fear so intense it burned them still, but none of them could remember what they'd been afraid of. That fear had lurked in the back of all their minds since childhood, shaping them, directing them. When they were little, it had cautioned them to keep to themselves what they all already knew, that they were different, other. When they were older and able to put words to feelings and do their own investigating, it had led them to investigate the tales of what had occurred here in 1947 more closely and to catalog their various abilities. That's how he'd known he could heal, although all he'd ever done in the past was fix simple cuts and bruises.

"Alright, everybody, on your feet!" Mr. Tryon bellowed.

Max climbed to his feet with a sigh. Across from him Tony Percy was doing the same minus the sigh. Tony loved wrestling, especially with quiet, bookish types like Max, and when the whistle blew he slammed into Max again with admirable gusto, Max holding him off with a combination of muscle and mind. He could have thrown the guy across the room without breaking a sweat, of course, but that wouldn't be safe. It was never safe to use their powers in public, "recreationally" or not. Or is it? Max wondered as Percy gave it his all. He'd just used his powers in public in a way that was far from recreational and gotten away with it. Perhaps people just wrote off what they didn't understand, making up explanations that fit what they saw and that they were willing to accept. He'd healed a gunshot wound in public and someone now knew he wasn't human, yet everything was still the same. Maybe it wasn't as dangerous out there as they'd thought. Maybe they'd been worrying for nothing. Maybe he could have a little fun after all.

Slam.

Tony Percy sprawled on his back, blinking up at the ceiling as the teacher stared. "Nice move, Evans," Mr. Tryon said finally. "Didn't know you had it in you."

You're not the only one, Max thought with satisfaction, Percy eyeing him warily as he climbed to his feet. Actually, he hadn't meant to slam him that hard. That was the thing about power; it required an incredible amount of control, control which one only acquired through practice and the removal of emotion from the equation. That was easier when you were reheating a taco, a lot harder when you were angry or mischievous or scared. Allow emotion to fuel power, and that power became something resembling a rogue power line, snapping and jerking every which way. Which was precisely why Michael had such a hard time controlling his powers. Michael was a rogue power line.

"Places!" Tryon bellowed.

Percy was looking a lot less sure of himself this time, and he tumbled Max to the mat with less gusto than usual. He was toying with the idea of maybe giving Percy another nudge, maybe just a little one, just "recreationally"....and then he looked up to see Liz in the doorway looking like she'd just seen a ghost.

Or maybe not...




******************************************************




Roswell Sheriff's Station




"Call me, sheriff, if you ever have anything....real."

Only nine words, most of them one syllable, but that was all it took for Jim Valenti's life to flash before his eyes as Agent Stevens stuffed the offending waitress's uniform into his briefcase and headed for the stairs, Valenti scrambling to follow. Here he'd just made the biggest discovery of his life, a discovery that threw everything he'd ever believed into doubt and made his father suddenly look much more sane than he ever had, and this is what it came to?

The possibility that he'd be dismissed as a crackpot had certainly occurred to him. After impulsively phoning Stevens last night after his conversation with Kyle, Valenti had spent a largely sleepless night wondering if he should cancel their meeting. What did he have to go on, really? Only the word of a couple of tourists and a kid. Granted that kid was his son, but that was unlikely to hold water with the FBI. He needed more than that, and he'd stopped at the Crashdown this morning to see Liz Parker and settle the matter for himself. But Liz had been late for school, cramming her books into her bookbag on the other side of the diner as Jeff assured him he could talk to her later. Valenti almost hadn't heard him, so fixated was he on something which had flashed by as Liz zipped her bookbag closed and made a beeline for the bus, something turquoise, the same color as the Crashdown uniforms. He'd meant to ask Jeff for the uniform Liz had been wearing on Sunday, had even thought her absence would make it easier to obtain. But as it appeared it was leaving with her, he'd thanked Jeff for his permission and quickly excused himself, following the school bus to the high school, using a back entrance to avoid the throngs of incoming students. If memory served, Kyle's first period was an unusually large history class which necessitated everyone leaving their backpacks in the back of the room...and Liz was also in that class. The history classrooms were on the east side of the building, and Valenti bided his time through homeroom and two bells until the hallways had emptied.

So this is what you've come to, Jim, old boy, he thought ruefully as he moved carefully through the halls, peeking in the largely open doorways. Stalking teenaged girls. Or one teenaged girl in particular, rather, whom he finally spotted toward the front of the row nearest the door in the classroom closest to the library. Kyle was on the other side, quite obviously doodling while the teacher droned on about the First World War. But his son's inattention was the last thing on his mind as he spotted his target; everyone's backpacks were indeed lined up along the back wall of the crowded classroom, and Liz's was very near the door. Five minutes worth of dithering over how to acquire it was rewarded when the teacher turned on an overheard projector and turned off the lights, allowing Valenti to nip in and snag the bag with no one being the wiser. A quick peek confirmed his suspicion; along with the usual assortment of notebooks and pencils, Liz Parker's bookbag contained one Crashdown waitress uniform with a large red stain on the front. He had to resist the urge to run red lights on the way back to the station, but finally, after what seemed like forever, he'd locked his office door and pulled the crumpled uniform from the bag, spreading it out on his desk. He'd know in a minute if he needed to call Agent Stevens and cancel.

At first, he thought he might have to. The uniform had apparently dried while it was balled up; there was no way to tell from visual inspection if there was any blood in the tomato-smelling red stain, and it took some doing to flatten it out. But what he'd found when he'd finally done so was enough to make him sit back and look away, shaking all over.

They had finally found their elusive bullet hole.

It had taken a good five minutes for Valenti to compose himself enough to think. There was clearly a hole in the dress, right where Kyle had said he'd seen the silver handprint. Now that he had definitive proof that a gun had been fired and that the product of that firing had pierced this uniform, it was time to talk to the one who had been wearing that uniform. Owen Blackwood had been dispatched to fetch Miss Parker from school and deliver her to his office, where Valenti had shown her the photographs of his father's John Doe from 1959. The look on her face had told him everything he needed to know, as had the look on her face when he'd insisted she show him her stomach, and the look on her face when she had. There was no handprint there any longer, and she was surprised; it had disappeared, just like it had on the body in '59. She'd denied Max's presence in the Crashdown on Sunday, and he'd sent her on her way after returning her bookbag, minus the uniform, of course, something she clearly expected. Turned out young Miss Parker didn't have much of a poker face.

And so it was that he'd kept his meeting with Agent Stevens and enthusiastically detailed the results of his investigation only to have Stevens look at him like he had snails coming out of his ears, utter a few unflattering remarks, and march off. With the uniform, of course. Stevens wasn't so skeptical that he'd left the uniform.

"Listen," Valenti called as they hit the street, "you guys told me to call you if I saw anything. Well, my son saw that handprint."

"I'm sure he did," Agent Stevens said tonelessly.

"What happens now?" Valenti demanded.

"I'll have the lab check out the dress. I'm gonna handle this case in the proper manner, without getting too personal. I suggest you do the same."

Stevens' dismissiveness was already bugging him, but now Valenti's alarms were all going off. That sounded like a brush off, a "stay out of my way" kind of statement. No way in hell.

"I'm not walking away from this," Valenti declared. "I'm gonna be part of this investigation."

"Sheriff, do you know what everyone used to call your father? Sergeant Martian. You don't want to end up like him."

Valenti's jaw clenched. Oh, really? Like he didn't know that. Like he hadn't spent most of his childhood enduring the taunts about "Sergeant Martian". "Agent Stevens," he said tightly, "I was 8 years old when my father discovered that corpse. My whole life I thought he was as crazy as everyone else did. Crazy to believe. Well, now I’m not so sure."

"Thank you, Sheriff," Stevens said blandly. "Your work is done now. We'll take it from here."

Stevens drove off as Valenti's life flashed before him again, this time his childhood. His father had never trusted the FBI ever since that incident right before the John Doe had been found. His memories of that event consisted of surly, dark-suited men and being entrusted with calling for help without waking his mother; pulling that off had made him mighty proud at the time. But that pride had been drowned out by the following years of his mother's assertions that his father should stop chasing whatever it was he thought he was chasing and leave it to the FBI. That was one of the reasons he'd welcomed an overture from the Bureau shortly after he'd taken the badge, a request to keep an eye out for someone they were looking for that had blossomed into several contacts a year. Stevens had been his liaison from the start, and every time Valenti had spoken with him, he'd felt vindicated, like he was repudiating his father and all his wild beliefs, proving that he was different, better, more deserving of the badge.

"Sir?"

It was Owen Blackwood, looking quizzically in the direction which Steven's car had taken. "Everything okay, sir?"

"I need to find someone, Owen," Valenti said. "A high school kid named Max Evans."

"You want him brought in? The festival doesn't start for a few hours, so I can send someone after him."

Festival. Ah, yes, the Crash Festival, that bane of his father's existence. Back then it had been in the summer and featured hordes of both locals and tourists; moving it to the fall had calmed things somewhat. "No," Valenti said, sensing an opportunity. "I'm betting Mr. Evans will be at the festival, and I'll catch up with him there. But I could use help locating him."

"His picture was in the yearbook, right? I'll have it copied off and—"

"No," Valenti said quickly. "I want this quiet. Just you and me, Owen. Not a word to anyone else. If you see him tonight, you let me know."

"Sure, Jim." Owen paused, looking at him closely. "You okay? What'd he do?"

"I'm fine," Valenti said flatly. "And I'm gonna find out. One way or another."




****************************************************




Evans residence




"So how's Grandma and Grandpa?"

"Fine, if you don't mind being asked the same question five times in three minutes," Dee answered.

Diane looked up from the dishes she was rinsing. "Oh. That would be Grandma, wouldn't it."

"Yes, that would be Grandma," Dee sighed. "My mother's losing it. Never thought I'd see the day."

"She's 84," Diane reminded her. "I think she's earned the right to lose it. What about Grandpa?"

"He's still very much with it," Dee replied. "He's got his problems, like high blood pressure, but it's under control. Looks like he'll outlast her and then some."

"Maybe," Diane said thoughtfully. "Maybe not. Not that I'm wishing anything on them," she added quickly. "I just know it's not always the one in worse shape who goes first. Lots of my friends have learned that the hard way." She paused. "Do you think he'll be all right if she dies first?"

"I don't know," Dee said, stacking the last of the leftovers in the fridge. "It'll certainly be easier for me. Mama can't live without Daddy, or someone functioning as Daddy, and if I move her in with us, we'll both kill each other. But let's talk about something else. Did you ever find out what was bothering Isabel?"

"Nope. Not a word. But she's fine now, so whatever it was, it's over."

"Well, aren't you the least bit curious?"

"Of course I am, Mom," Diane said patiently. "But you don't pry with teenagers. You just ask a few questions, and if you don't get anywhere, you let it drop and keep an eye on things. They don't like it when you pry."

"Like it or not, I'd pry if something kept Philip in his room all afternoon and evening," Dee said. "Especially if it made him miss dinner."

"That's boys. Girls are different. Boys just let it all hang out. Well....not Max," Diane amended. "He's not the 'let it all hang out' type. Never has been."

Dee watched her daughter-in-law load the dishwasher for a moment. "Diane," she said slowly, "do the kids ever talk about what happened to them before you found them?"

Diane shook her head. "No. Never."

"Nothing? Nothing at all?"

"No. Why?"

"I was just wondering if they'd ever remembered anything," Dee said. "I thought they might have over the years."

"Why would you think that? The more time that goes by, the less I think they'd remember."

Which is exactly what we're all afraid of, Dee thought. Her father had reminded her today of how they'd all expected the kids to remember what they had so briefly remembered and then forgotten shortly after they had come out of the pods—who they were and where they had come from. Certainly they wouldn't have been surprised if it had taken some time for them to recover from the effects of the connection Max had forced on their Warders and which had unfortunately illustrated their own demises in living color. But "some time" had now stretched to a decade, something none of them would have guessed when it had all gone bad back in '89.

"Anyway, I'm not certain I'd want them to," Diane was saying. "Remember how distraught they were after whatever happened at Grandma and Grandpa's house when they were little? Anything that upsets them that badly might be better off forgotten."

"Maybe," Dee murmured.

"Definitely," Diane said firmly. "We've been so lucky, Mom. Lots of adopted kids have all sorts of troubles, but not Max and Isabel. They've been just fine; no behavior problems, no academic problems, no social problems. I feel like we dodged a bullet, two bullets, really. I'm really happy to just leave it."

"Okay, honest opinions," a voice said behind them. "How do I look?"

Dee turned around....and burst out laughing. "Oh, honey, that's very.....shiny," Diane finished, throwing a disapproving look in Dee's direction as Isabel blinked and looked back and forth from one to the other. "Very....unique."

"Sorry," Dee chuckled, "I just....I mean, you don't really think this is what aliens look like, do you?"

A flicker crossed Isabel's face, barely noticeable, but there nonetheless as she stood there all decked out in silver lame, a pointy bra that could have doubled as two salad bowls, and what must be at least 5 inch heels. "Of course not, Grandma," Isabel answered. "I have no idea what aliens look like. I was just going for maximum impact."

"I'd say you succeeded," Dee smiled.

"You look lovely, honey," Diane said. "You always do."

"But I don't think you've gone far enough," Dee added. "You need more glittery eye make-up, maybe some eyelashes out to there. And the hair. The hair has to be bigger."

Isabel broke into a wide smile. "Now you're talking! Come help?"

"Sure," Dee said, ignoring yet another look from her daughter-in-law as she followed Isabel to her room, where she took a seat at her dressing table and handed her some bobby pins. "I'll brush, you pin," Isabel instructed.

Yes, ma'am, Dee thought dryly, dutifully pushing pins into the big swoops Isabel made with the hair brush. "I think your mother's mad at me. Did I hurt your feelings?"

"No. Don't mind Mom. She's just so....."

"Earnest?" Dee suggested.

"Yeah. That. I mean, I love her. I really do."

"I know you do," Dee said softly.

"It's just that she always says the same thing. She'd tell me I looked great if I was wearing a garbage bag."

"Because you would look great if you were wearing a garbage bag," Dee said. "You're a beautiful young woman, Isabel."

"I know," Isabel said casually, with all the confidence of her predecessor. "It's just that sometimes I like a little more honesty. It gets a little boring when everyone's always telling you you're beautiful."

"Not a problem I ever had, but I'll be sure to mention that you're ugly at least once a day," Dee said. "There—is that big enough?"

"It'll do," Isabel said, casting an appraising look at her hairdo. "Now for the eyes."

"You know what would be really fun?" Dee said, running the hairbrush through Isabel's hair. "If aliens came dressed up as humans."

The eyeshadow wand Isabel was using slipped, leaving a blob of silver by her eye. "What do you mean by that?" she asked sharply.

The hairbrush paused. "I just thought it would be funny if the situation were reversed," Dee said lightly, handing her a tissue.

"Oh." Isabel took the tissue, wiped off the offending streak, tried again. "Yeah. I guess that would be funny."

Dee held her tongue all the way through the rest of the eye make-up, including the eyelash glue and a set of falsies long enough to dust the windows from across the room. Actually she'd been thinking of Courtney's trip to the Crash Festival way back in '59 wearing what was essentially a human costume, but Isabel didn't know that.

"Done," Isabel announced, the twinkle back in her eye. "Thanks, Grandma. I'll go show Mom so she can tell me how beautiful I look."

Now, what brought that on? Dee thought, hearing Diane's dutiful exclamations floating in from the living room. Why had Isabel become so rattled by such a simple comment? It was almost as if she knew what she was.....

The kitchen door slammed. Dee made her way to the kitchen and almost bumped into Max. "There you are! You should see your sister, she's all....Max? Are you all right?"

"Yeah," he answered tightly. "Just...preoccupied."

He hurried past her toward his bedroom, Dee eyeing his retreat. He certainly didn't look fine, but then it was hard to tell with Max; sometimes he was so intense that she thought he might spontaneously combust. No wonder he and Brivari used to clash.

"Guess I'll be going," Dee said to Diane, who had plopped on the couch with the TV remote. "Say 'hi' to Philip for me when he gets home. If he gets home."

"Oh, he'll be home," Diane said. "He just—"

"Had a case," Dee said. "Yes, I know; I've had lots of them myself. The trick is to take control of your cases instead of letting them take control of you. I'm just saying," she added, holding up a hand as Diane opened her mouth to leap to her husband's defense. "And now I'll stop saying. Good night."

A minute later, her coat over her arm, Dee came to a halt in the driveway. Max and Isabel were beside Max's jeep, throwing what looked like duffel bags into the back. They both whirled around much too quickly and looked much too guilty for Dee's comfort.

"I'm on my way home," Dee said. "Are you off to the festival?"

"Right," Max said quickly. "The festival."

"Where's your costume?" Dee asked.

"In the bags," Max answered in a clipped tone, climbing into the driver's seat. "Get in, Isabel."

But Isabel hesitated, an anguished look on her face, ultimately bypassing the passenger seat to give Dee a crushing hug, towering over her in those stratospheric heels. "Goodbye, Grandma," she whispered. "And thanks. For everything."

"You're welcome, sweetheart," Dee said, bewildered.

"Tell Mom we love her," Isabel added.

"You can't tell her yourself?"

Isabel's eyes dropped. "I....I don't want to....."

"Isabel," Max broke in. "Now."

"Go ahead," Dee said as Isabel's eyes flicked backward in annoyance. "Have a good time, both of you."

The jeep roared out of the driveway as though something were chasing it, and Dee watched it leave, staring after it for a very long time.




****************************************************




Crash Festival grounds




"Sheriff, are you arresting me?"

God, I'd love to, Jim Valenti thought grimly, perilously close to losing his temper. After spending most of his life watching his father be made a fool of, the hottest of his hot buttons was being made a fool of himself. Which is what he suspected had just happened judging from the silver paint on his hand.

"No," Valenti ground out, turning Max Evans around none too gently and unlocking the cuffs he'd only just slapped on with hands that shook with fury. "Your parents would have you out in an hour." And how, he added darkly. Philip Evans would probably have his son out in less than that, and take Valenti's head off in the process.

"Let me tell you something," Valenti said tersely as Max eyed him warily. "I'm gonna find out what the truth is. You can count on it. You're a real smart guy, Max. Well, so am I."

Valenti stalked off through the crowd, walking quickly lest he act on the almost overpowering urge to slap those cuffs back on that smart-ass teenager, haul him down to the station, and plop him under a bare bulb. Assuming Max Evans even was a teenager, something which was very much in doubt. Or had been, that is, until just minutes ago when a young festival participant had had a run-in with a car and someone wearing a costume that matched Kyle's had planted a silver handprint on her. A painted silver handprint, to be exact. No aliens. Just silver paint.

"Jim?"

It was Owen Blackwood, looking bewildered and concerned at the same time. "How's the girl?" Valenti asked in a clipped tone.

"She's okay. Guess it was just a bump. Say....what was that thing on her chest?"

"Some prank, I'd wager," Valenti said evasively.

"But why would someone come up to her right after she'd been knocked over by a car and—"

"I don't know," Valenti snapped. "All I know is that I'm done here."

"Okay," Owen said slowly. "What do you want me to do about that Evans kid?"

"Nothing."

"Nothing? You were all over his ass just a few minutes ago—"

"I said 'nothing', and I meant 'nothing'!" Valenti exploded. "It's a simple, two-syllable word! You ought to be able to handle it!" He stopped, stung by the look on his deputy's face. "Look, I'm sorry. I'm just....irritated."

"I noticed," Owen murmured.

"It's not you," Valenti assured him. "If you need me, I'll be at home."

"Sure thing, boss," Owen nodded. "Don't worry about us. We'll take it from here."

I wish you could take the rest of it as well, Valenti thought, working through the crowd as quickly as possible. Everyone's attention was now on the alien "ship" which had just crashed to the ground, drawing roars of applause which would have sounded familiar in a Roman arena. He spotted Kyle over to one side, clapping and yelling along with everyone else, and he paused, suddenly ashamed. He'd just jumped his own kid in a public place. As a man who had grown up a sheriff's son, he knew how much of a burden the job could place on your family, how embarrassing it could be to have your dad be the law. And how embarrassing it could be when your dad acted like a fool in public, which is exactly what he'd just done. God, but he'd have some apologizing to do later.

He stood watching the crowd for a few minutes when he spotted a familiar figure. That was Max Evans over there, communing with none other than....Liz Parker. And judging from the way he tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, they were doing more than casual communing. Valenti waited until Max had walked away before resuming his own walk to his cruiser, trying to put it all together. He worked the problem all the way home and into his empty house, where he stripped off his gun and plopped on the couch, not even bothering to turn on a light. Darkness always made for better thinking.

And what thoughts they were. Here he'd been seeing handprints and aliens, but what if he was way off base? Wasn't Kyle dating Liz? Then what was his son's girlfriend doing leaning into Max Evans in that intimate way? Was she seeing Max on the side? Was that why she'd lied twice about Max being in the diner on the day of the shooting? Was this all just some teenage love triangle he'd stumbled into, with his son's girlfriend not wanting her boyfriend's father to find out she was playing the field? Or had she not been playing the field until the shooting, when Evans had done something that had made her fall in love with him? But if it hadn't happened until the day of the shooting, why the guilty lies about him not being there?

Enough, Valenti thought firmly. He could speculate until he was blue in the face, but in the end, that's all he'd have: Speculation. What were the facts? A shooting had occurred on Sunday at the Crashdown. Liz Parker had fallen to the ground...for some reason. Max Evans had gone up to her and bent over her....for some reason. Liz Parker's uniform had been stained with something, whether ketchup or blood was impossible to tell. And there was a hole in that uniform in the exact spot where Kyle had said he'd seen the handprint. Kyle.... Only Kyle had seen that handprint. Was this just an elaborate set-up to make Kyle look like a fool? Or maybe someone was trying to make him look the fool? But how? Precious few had ever seen that handprint; Kyle certainly never had. The incident had happened so long ago that none of the current staff at the station had been working there at the time that body had been found. And none of this explained the hole in the dress.

The questions whirled in his head, and he must have fallen asleep, because the next thing he knew, the front door was opening and the clock read two hours later. He sat up with a start, momentarily disoriented.

"Dad?"

It was Kyle, his mask in his hand. "Uh....why are you sitting here in the dark?"

"I guess I just.....dozed off," Valenti said.

"You 'dozed off'?" Kyle repeated. "At home? In the dark? On the night of the Crash Festival?"

"My staff can handle it. That's why I've spent so much time developing a good staff, so I don't have to be there every minute. They knew where to find me if they needed me."

Valenti blinked as Kyle snapped on the light. "You were certainly there earlier. What was that all about?"

"I....nothing," Valenti answered, running a hand through his hair. "I made a mistake."

"Yeah, I know that. But you had this look in your eye like....I don't know. It was scary."

"I just made a mistake," Valenti said shortly. "Can't a guy make a mistake?" He paused, dropping his eyes. "I'm sorry, Kyle. I didn't mean to embarrass you in front of everyone."

"That's okay," Kyle said. "I don't think anyone else even saw it. Liz certainly didn't. She was supposed to meet me in front of the podium, but she never showed."

Is that so, Valenti thought, keeping to himself where the lovely Miss Parker had been. "Well....I hope everything's okay, and I'm sorry I screwed up."

"No biggie," Kyle shrugged. He began to walk away, stopped. "Dad, are you sure you're all right?"

"I'm sure," Valenti said. "I've just had a long day."

"Right." Kyle hesitated for a moment more before heading for his bedroom, stripping off his costume on the way. Valenti reached over and snapped off the light, the quiet darkness descending like a blanket. But all the darkness in the world couldn't blot out the look he'd just seen in his son's eyes, the same look he'd given his own father for so many years, a look of concern and hesitation and....fear. The same look he'd seen from Owen Blackwood tonight, which had mirrored the looks in the eyes of his father's deputies as he'd descended further and further into madness.

They say you became your own parents. God, but he hoped that wasn't true.




*****************************************************




Los Angeles, California



"Did you see the rider that diva wanted?" demanded the DP. "Blue carpets, and pink flowers, and lace curtains on the windows? Jesus, that dressing room doesn't even have windows!"

"Actresses," muttered a co-producer. "Give'em an inch, they'll take a mile."

"She's not even bringing in that much box office," grumbled another. "You'd think she was carrying the picture all by herself."

"So what are you going to do, Kal?" the DP asked. "Does she get what she wants, or not?"

Across the room, Kal Langley plucked another glass of champagne off a roving waiter's tray. "Of course she will," he told his Director of Photography. "She'll get a blue bathroom rug from Sears, pink plastic flowers, and a lace curtain from K-Mart. What?" he added when blank looks greeted him. "She never specified where these things were to come from, or what quality they should be. If one is going to whine, one had better learn to be specific."

There was a moment of shocked silence before the assemblage burst into simultaneous laughter and applause. "Oh. My. God," the DP chuckled. "I can't wait to see her face when she sees a little blue oval potty rug!"

"Actually, I was thinking of a toilet lid cover, but whatever," Langley answered to more laughter. "But seriously, this isn't the first time someone thinks they're worth more than they are, and it won't be the last."

"She's gonna blow," the co-producer warned.

"Let her," Langley declared. "She doesn't scare me. Bring it on."

"That's what I like about you, Kal," chuckled the DP. "You don't take shit, anyone's shit. Not even mine."

"Especially not yours," Langley agreed. "Excuse me a moment, ladies and gentleman. My phone is ringing."

"I still don't see why you don't have an assistant, or a butler, or someone to fetch and carry," said the DP.

"I've got the catering service to pick up your empty wine glasses," Langley pointed out. "No need to strain yourself."

"Very funny," the DP deadpanned. "And that's not what I meant. Someone of your stature shouldn't be answering his own phone, for heaven's sake. Why are you?"

Because it doesn't pay to have anyone too close, Langley thought, ignoring that last question on the way to the kitchen. He had all kinds of minions at the office, and he brought in help for get-togethers like this, but at home he preferred to be alone. It was safer that way.

"Langley residence," he said into the phone.

"Oh, I'm sorry," a deeply skeptical voice said on the other end of the line. "I must have the wrong number. I was looking for Brivari."

Langley froze, clenching the glass in his hand so tightly it threatened to break. He hadn't heard that voice in ten years.

"Where the hell are you?" he demanded.

"Turn around."

Slowly, Langley did. There was someone out by the pool, waving a cell phone like a groupie at a concert.

"Interesting," Jaddo said. "Your whiny actress doesn't scare you....but I do."



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



I'll post Chapter 4 next Sunday. :)
BRIVARI: "In our language, the root of the word 'Covari' means 'hidden'. I'm always there, Your Highness, even if you don't see me."

User avatar
Kathy W
Obsessed Roswellian
Posts: 685
Joined: Thu Oct 31, 2002 5:06 am

Re: Birthright *Series* (CC, TEEN), Chapter 3, 7/25

Postby Kathy W » Sun Aug 01, 2010 5:07 pm

Hello to everyone reading!






CHAPTER FOUR



September 21, 1999, 11 p.m.

Langley residence, Los Angeles




Brivari stared out the kitchen window in shock, the phone still pressed to his ear. Ten years, ten long years of absence, of total silence.....and there he sat, lounging in one of the pool chairs like he owned the place. Obviously he hadn't changed a bit.

"For goodness sake, Brivari, say something," Jaddo's voice came over the phone. "You're gaping."

"Mr. Langley?"

Brivari snapped out of his trance as a waiter from the catering company hovered by his arm. "Is....everything all right?" the waiter asked tentatively.

"No," Brivari answered in a strangled whisper, his eyes locked on Jaddo. "Everything is most definitely not all right."

The waiter's gaze shifted out the window. "Is that a guest?"

"An uninvited guest," Brivari muttered.

"I'll call security," the waiter said promptly.

"No," Brivari said quickly. "I'll handle this. Go back to the party. Tell them I'm on the phone."

"Are you sure—"

"Do it. And not a word to anyone. No one goes out there, no one. Understood?"

The waiter's eyes widened. "Of course, but...are you sure? Who is that? Is he dangerous?"

Brivari thwacked the phone back in its cradle. "No more so than I am," he said coldly. "Now, get in there before someone follows me out here."

The waiter hesitated a moment longer before complying, throwing a skeptical look toward the pool as he left. He was barely out of the kitchen before Brivari opened the sliding glass door which led out to the pool, slamming it back on its tracks with a decade's worth of pent up fury, holding up a hand with every intention of sending Jaddo flying into the middle of the next estate. But nothing happened. His power seemed to be enveloped in some sort of cocoon, still there, but muffled, inert.

"Don't bother," Jaddo called, holding up a five-sided device Brivari hadn't seen in ages. "I figured you wouldn't exactly be glad to see me, so I took some precautions. Granted it blocks my powers as well, but there's something to be said for parity."

So furious he could barely see straight, Brivari took a moment to compose himself before sliding the door closed behind him, activating the electric blinds as he left. If someone did wander into the kitchen, at least they wouldn't be able to see what was going on.

"Nice party," Jaddo continued, unfazed by his silence. "I didn't want to crash it, so I decided to call. Nifty things, these portable phones. Rather large, but I imagine that'll change in the next few years—"

"How dare you?" Brivari interrupted, finally finding his voice. "How dare you come anywhere near me after what you did?"

"What I did?" Jaddo repeated, puzzled. "What did I do? Or perhaps I should say 'what did I do now', as I always seem to be doing something you disapprove of."

"You took her," Brivari ground out. "You abducted my Ward's wife!"

" 'Abducted'?" Jaddo chuckled, an absolutely infuriating sound. "My, but that's ironic. Tell me, is it possible for an alien to abduct another alien? Or does that only work from alien to human? How about human to alien—"

The rest of that sentence was cut off as Brivari's hand fastened on Jaddo's throat. He made no move to fight back just like he hadn't when Brivari had discovered the missing hybrids back in '59, and it was every bit as annoying now as it had been then.

"You took Ava!" Brivari spat. "You took her without my consent, and I haven't heard a thing from you since!"

"Nice recap," Jaddo said, sounding a bit hoarse as Brivari throttled back his air supply. "And encouraging to know you can still move as quickly as ever. You made it over here a lot faster than you move in your office—"

"Don't waste what little breath you have left being flip," Brivari said tersely. "Begging for your life, maybe, but being flip won't get you anywhere."

"Neither will begging for my life," Jaddo whispered. "I know you won't kill me. And you know that too."

Brivari held his grip for several more long seconds, waiting for Jaddo to fight back or shapeshift and escape. But he did nothing, hanging there and looking bluer and bluer until finally Brivari threw him down on a lounge chair and turned away in disgust, Jaddo gasping for air behind him.

"Yes, I took Ava," he said finally when he'd regained his breath. "I took her to spare her—"

"Oh, spare me!" Brivari exclaimed angrily. "You didn't 'spare her' a damned thing! I agreed to keep her separate, and you walked off with her anyway!"

"Because I didn't believe you," Jaddo said. "And how's that working out, Brivari? Have the rest of our Wards thrived with humans? Have they remembered?"

"An interesting question considering that Ava hasn't remembered either," Brivari retorted.

"And what makes you say that?"

"Because it's been ten years, Jaddo, a whole decade, and I haven't seen hide nor hair of you. If she'd remembered, you'd have been here with bells on, crowing about how you were right. And you're not crowing, meaning she still hasn't remembered. So how is she? Have you turned her into a complete freak yet? Are you finished warping her, or is that still a work in progress?"

Jaddo's eyes flashed, and for a moment Brivari thought he'd lost his temper. It was something of a disappointment when he reined it in.

"I have been very, very careful not to connect with Ava," Jaddo said in a voice that nearly shook with emotion. "I have been very, very careful what I've told her, what I've let her see. She hasn't even seen me in my native form. I've done my best to let her memory come back naturally—"

"And it hasn't," Brivari interrupted. "Has it?"

Jaddo's eyes clouded, his hand still rubbing his throat. "She remembers....a few things."

"But nothing specific. She still doesn't know who she is. Meaning your plan didn't work."

"Correction: It hasn't worked yet," Jaddo said. "And neither has yours, so the jury's still out."

"Like hell it is!" Brivari exclaimed. "As far as I'm concerned, you were tried and convicted the moment you stole my Ward's mate!"

"But you won't pronounce sentence," Jaddo said softly. "Because if you dispose of me, you'll never find her."

"Or the control crystal for the Granolith," Brivari said bitterly. "You didn't just take Ava, you stranded all of them here."

"A precaution," Jaddo said. "And further evidence that this isn't about Zan pining after a wife I'm quite sure he doesn't even know exists. This is about what it's always about with you, Brivari—control. Did you really think I'd give you the means to leave the planet without telling me?"

"Why not?" Brivari retorted. "You gave away two sets of hybrids without telling me. You took Ava without telling me. You rendered their only way home useless without telling me. You never tire of doing things without telling me and defending your asinine behavior as 'necessary', so why are you suddenly objecting to the notion of me doing something without telling you?"

Jaddo's eyes hardened. "I didn't come here to engage in old arguments—"

"Then why did you come here? Don't tell me you had a sudden hankering to party."

Jaddo shot him a look that was part disdain, part pity. "I came to make you aware of something, something I learned only today. I don't know if you're familiar with the Special Unit's command structure, but the agent responsible for New Mexico—"

"Agent Stevens," Brivari said. "What about him?"

"You know Agent Stevens?"

"Of course I know Agent Stevens. While you blunder around like a bull in a china shop, I do my job quietly and inconspicuously. I know at least as much about the Special Unit as you do, maybe more."

"I see," Jaddo murmured. "Then do you know that Agent Stevens paid a visit to Roswell today at the behest of one Sheriff Valenti?" He paused, measuring the look on Brivari's face. "Ah. I see you don't. So much for 'maybe more'."

"The Special Unit has been courting Valenti ever since he took the badge," Brivari said impatiently. "What about it?"

Jaddo reached into a back pocket and withdrew a newspaper, unfolding it and holding it up. "What about it?" Brivari demanded as the headline SHOOTOUT AT THE CRASHDOWN hovered in front of him. "That happened on Sunday. It's nearly Wednesday. I have Roswell's paper delivered to my house every single morning," he added when Jaddo looked surprised. "There was nothing the least bit unusual about what happened at the Crashdown."

"Apparently Valenti thinks otherwise," Jaddo said, refolding the paper. "According to my source, he called Agent Stevens to report that a waitress had been shot during that incident, only to have a teenaged boy go up to her and hover over her....and now she's fine."

Brivari froze, a cold hand gripping his heart. "The paper said no one was hurt."

"Yes, well, you know you can't rely on the media. Needless to say, this piqued my interest. Our Wards are more advanced than we are. It's quite possible any of them could heal a gunshot wound without the aid of healing stones." He paused. "Have they ever done something like this? Have they ever healed someone?"

Not someone, Brivari thought. Something. That bird in the park was the only time either he or Dee had seen Zan or any of them heal, but there was no question it was possible. There was also no question that the hybrids knew they possessed enhanced abilities; Dee had seen enough when they thought no one was watching to make that very clear, but it was also clear they knew enough to hide what they were doing. Why would any of them do something so massive so publicly?

"No one has ever seen them do anything like that," Brivari answered, choosing his words carefully. "And this is Valenti. You know how Valenti's are, always jumping on every little thing."

"They do," Jaddo agreed. "And that did occur to me. Although it also occurred to me that 'every little thing' usually turned out to be annoyingly accurate, at least in the case of the elder Valenti. As for the younger version.....well.....my source passed along a few other details."

"Such as?"

"Such as Valenti's contention that there's a bullet hole in the waitress's uniform despite the fact that she didn't appear injured, and no bullet was ever found. Even more interesting is that he claims his son saw something odd on the waitress's torso right near the alleged bullet hole." Jaddo paused. "Does a silver handprint ring any bells for you?"

Jesus, Brivari thought despairingly. He'd been willing to write the whole thing off as yet another spastic Valenti, but now.....if Zan or Rath had healed someone without the aid of healing stones, it would have taken a massive amount of energy, more than enough to leave a mark.

"Valenti can prove this?" Brivari asked. "He has photographs?"

"No," Jaddo said. "He can't, and he doesn't. He didn't even see it himself; only his son did. Frankly I'd feel better if Valenti had seen it because then I could safely say he was just dredging up old memories of his father finding Atherton's body. But unless the son knows about that too, there's no good explanation as to why he would claim he saw something like that....unless, of course, he did."

Peals of laughter floated from an open window; the party continued inside, sounding out of place in the somber atmosphere beside the pool. "Valenti handed over the waitress's uniform to be tested," Jaddo went on. "She claims she broke a bottle of ketchup and spilled it on herself, so they'll test it to see if they find anything besides ketchup."

"And Agent Stevens?"

"Was unimpressed, if my contact is to be believed," Jaddo answered. "If all Valenti was doing was relating his own contentions and reporting hearsay, I wouldn't be concerned. But the presence of the uniform changes things. Because if they do find blood on that uniform....."

Then they're in trouble, Brivari thought heavily. Finding blood on the uniform wouldn't necessarily clinch the case, of course. But to have physical evidence coincide with the report of a silver handprint would be more than enough to set off all the Special Unit's alarms and draw them right where they couldn't afford them to be.

"So," Jaddo continued, "now the question becomes, what are we going to do about it?"

" 'We'?" Brivari echoed. "There hasn't been a 'we' for decades. I'll take care of it."

"Forgive me if I'm not willing to settle for that. You didn't know about any of this—"

"Nor was it necessary for me to know. The Special Unit has been around for decades and makes periodic forays into Roswell. I don't hang on their every twitch, and you shouldn't either."

"But this time—"

"Requires observation, but that's all. The Unit isn't in Roswell. It may be just ketchup on the dress. And for all we know, Valenti's son learned about Atherton's body at some point and is seeing things, if not making the whole thing up."

"Possible, but unlikely. If they decide to pursue this—"

"Then I will pursue them," Brivari said. "Until then, all we have is supposition."

"Supposition? You know our Wards are capable of this—"

" 'Capable' is not synonymous with 'culpable'. And they've never done anything like this before, certainly not in public."

"Let me guess," Jaddo sighed. "You're going to watch and wait. Which is all you ever do."

"And which has worked beautifully for decades," Brivari retorted, "causing far less trouble than all your jumping to conclusions and preemptive strikes. If they make a move, I will make a counter move. Moving before that only risks attracting their attention."

"Their attention has already been attracted," Jaddo argued.

"All the more reason not to attract it further. And further evidence that you're every bit as knee-jerk as you always were. We're done."

"So that's all you're going to do?" Jaddo demanded. "Nothing? Just sit here and—"

"I said I'd take care of it," Brivari broke in. "And I also said we're done. Get out."

Jaddo's eyes flared. "Do I need to take matters into my own hands? Because I—"

In one swift motion, Brivari slammed Jaddo against the sliding glass door that led to the kitchen. "You listen to me," he said harshly. "You left. You took her, and you left. That was your decision, not mine. You have Ava, I have the others, and how the others are handled is up to me. I've let you stay on your side of the line, but if you cross that line, if you go anywhere near them, I swear to God I will hunt you down and dispose of you as an enemy to the crown."

"Then why haven't you, Brivari?" Jaddo rasped. "Why have you let me stay 'on my side of the line'?"

"Because protecting them is more important than chasing you. The day you change that equation, the day you make protecting them about chasing you will be the day I'll no longer be content to let you walk this planet. Do I make myself clear?"

The blinds behind them moved; alarmed faces peeked out. "You're worrying your guests, Brivari—"

"Do I make myself clear?" Brivari demanded.

Jaddo's eyes burned. "Quite."

The sliding door flew open, and Brivari's chief of security appeared, gun in hand. "What's going on out here?" he barked leveling the gun at Jaddo. "Are you all right, Mr. Langley? Who is this man?"

"He was just leaving," Brivari said, pulling Jaddo off the window and giving him a none too gentle shove. "Go back inside."

"Are you sure?" the guard asked uncertainly.

"I'm sure. And put that thing away. You're scaring my guests."

The guard retreated slowly, followed by wide-eyed guests toting glasses of champagne. "For a moment there, I was wondering if you were going to let him shoot me," Jaddo said.

"Don't worry, Jaddo," Brivari said darkly. "If anyone kills you....it'll be me."

Jaddo gave a soft snort. "Is that supposed to be comforting?" He paused. "I may have been dismissed, but I have one more question. I know where Zan and Vilandra are, but I never found out what happened to Rath. How is he?"

"You have no business asking that," Brivari said bitterly. "You abandoned him, remember? I certainly do."

Jaddo's expression hardened; then he gave a clipped nod and walked away, disappearing into the bushes on the far side of the pool. Brivari waited several minutes after he was out of sight before going back inside to face his worried guests.

"What the hell was that all about?" the DP demanded. "We heard a bang, and the door rattling, and then—"

"It was a personal matter," Brivari said shortly. "I'm sorry if we alarmed you."

"Is everything all right?" a worried producer asked.

"Yes, but I'm afraid the party's over," Brivari said. "My apologies, but there's somewhere else I need to be."




*****************************************************



Six days later


September 27, 1999, 9 a.m.

West Roswell High School




"Uh....Michael's not really into Geometry."

Laughter rippled through the classroom, and the substitute teacher calling roll smiled faintly. "He's not into it," she echoed. "I guess I can understand that. Pretty uninspiring stuff. Let's open our books to page 228....."

Max flipped his book open, glancing at Michael's empty seat as he did so. Michael was never terribly regular regarding class attendance, but the last few days had been worse than usual. In many ways Max suspected that Michael objections to Liz's plan to throw off Sheriff Valenti at the Crash Festival last week had actually been a longing to have it fail. Michael had nothing holding him here; he hated school, he had no family, and his foster father was no prize. Leaving Roswell probably sounded much more interesting to him than staying. It wasn't hard to see how he'd be disappointed that the plan appeared to have worked.

No...it did work, Max amended silently. Several days had gone by, the first twenty-four hours of which had seen both he and Isabel tensing every single time the phone or doorbell rang, making the second time in a week they'd felt that way. But no one called, no one came for them. No one even talked about the shooting at the Crashdown any more, it being old news a mere week later. Liz may not have dodged the bullet, but it appeared the rest of them had.

"Your homework will be problems 1 through 5 on page 230," the substitute was saying. "Can anyone relay that information to Mr. Guerin?"

"I will," Max said quickly.

Like he'll care he added silently as the sub nodded and turned back to the blackboard. Here Michael had briefly thought he could leave school behind him only to find himself right back where he'd started. How different had his and Isabel's reactions been when they'd arrived home after the Crash Festival having not expected to be there, to walk into their house once again, see their parents, crawl into their own beds. For them it had been a relief, a gift; for Michael, a profound disappointment.

A sound drew his attention, and Max's eyes strayed from the blackboard to find Liz Parker's dropping quickly as she turned her attention from him to her book. They had been studiously avoiding each other since the festival, a task made easier by a Biology test that mercifully hadn't required much interaction between them. Not that he'd mind some interaction; there were a million things he'd like to say to Liz. Like how grateful he was that she'd come up with something which had allowed them to stay here. And how proud he was of her for standing up to two of the most intimidating people in the world. Maria had backed away from Michael, but not Liz; she had stepped forward, looked him directly in the eye, and had her say. Isabel could send chills through a room with a mere glance, so to see her voluntarily, though grudgingly, ask for Liz's help had been something of a revelation. Granted it had been his own announcement that he was turning himself in to Valenti which had pushed her over the edge, but still....the fact that she'd been willing to even speak to Liz, who had just spilled the beans to Maria, was telling. No, there were lots of things he wanted to say to Liz, but he couldn't. He couldn't take the risk. Not the risk to himself, a risk he'd already taken, but the risk to her. Knowing him wasn't safe. Knowing what he was, what they were, wasn't safe, not for them or for the knowledgeable. It was better for both of them if they stayed away from each other as much as possible.

The class droned on until the bell finally rang, Max walking briskly toward his next class until he heard a familiar voice behind him.

"Hi."

"Hi," Max said, startled. "How's it going?"

"Good," Liz said. "Um, you know, things are just...things are just normal, you know? Completely normal."

"Good," Max said.

"Um...was that weird?"

"What?"

"That substitute just asked all of those questions about Michael. What was that about?"

"I'm sure she was just taking attendance," Max said gently.

"Right," Liz said, sounding unconvinced.

"Liz don't worry about it," Max said. "No one's suspicious of Michael. It's me."

"Okay," Liz said, still sounding skeptical.

"Hi, Liz!" called a cheerful voice behind them.

Make that a false cheerful voice; it was Isabel, throwing pointed looks at him. "Hi," Liz said uncertainly.

"Hey Iz," Max said warily.

"We should go," Isabel said firmly, hooking her arm through his and hauling him off, leaving Liz behind.

"Isabel, what are you doing?" Max demanded when they had rounded a corner.

"What am I doing? What are you doing?" Isabel retorted. "I thought we agreed you were going to stay away from her."

"I have been staying away from her," Max protested. "But I can't stay away from her entirely. We do have classes together, and we're lab partners."

"Don't remind me," Isabel said darkly. "And that still doesn't explain why you were chatting her up in the hallway. That wasn't a class, and I'm pretty sure I didn't see a Bunsen burner anywhere."

"We were talking about class," Max said. "Stop overreacting."

"Well, what am I supposed to do?" Isabel exclaimed in a fierce whisper. "First you go and spill our biggest secret to Miss Scientist, and then she goes and spills our biggest secret to Miss Freak Out—"

"Maria's not freaked out," Max broke in.

"Tell that to Michael, who said she nearly lost it when she saw him looking in the window of the Crashdown."

"I'm sure she's a bit on edge, but without her, we wouldn't have been able to throw Valenti off," Max argued. "She played her part in that beautifully."

"Fine, she's a budding Oscar winner," Isabel said. "But the fact remains that there are now two people out there who could get us killed just by running off at the mouth. Doesn't that bother you?"

"Of course it bothers me, but I don't see as there's anything we can do about it," Max said. "Besides, Maria's cool. She won't tell."

"That's what you said about Liz," Isabel reminded him. "How'd that work out, Max?"

"Iz, what do you want me to do?" Max said in frustration. "I can't avoid Liz entirely, we can't avoid Liz and Maria entirely. We live in the same town, we go to school together....our only other option is to leave Roswell. Is that what you want? Because if it is, if that's what it takes to make you feel safe, I'm listening."

Isabel's looked away. "Michael would like that."

"I know he would. I'm asking you if you want to leave."

His sister's eyes dropped, and she hesitated. "No," she said finally. "This is my home. I was never so miserable as when we thought we were driving out of town for good."

"You sure didn't show it."

"Of course I didn't," she said sharply. "You were all upset, Michael was going on about our mythic relative; someone had to keep a clear head. But....I was dying inside," she went on, her voice faltering. "To think we'd never see Mom and Dad again, or Grandma and Grandpa....it was awful."

"So you're actually grateful 'Miss Scientist' came up with a plan that worked?" Max said softly.

Isabel's eyes snapped back to his. "Don't rub it in, Max. She's the reason we needed a plan in the first place."

"No, I'm the reason we needed a plan in the first place," Max said firmly. "Liz didn't ask me to save her; no one did. That was my decision. Don't blame her."

"I know," Isabel said, anguished. "It's just that....I see the way you look at her."

"Iz, you go on dates all the time, so I really don't think you're in any position—"

"That's different," Isabel insisted. "That's just for fun. You look at her like.....like it's a lot more than that. And that scares me. Because if feeling that way makes you do what you did, and that leads to you telling her about us, and that leads to her telling someone else.....where does it stop, Max? Does it ever stop?"

"It's stopped," Max said. "Liz told Maria because she had this huge secret dropped in her lap and she needed to share it with someone. Maria has Liz to share it with, so she doesn't need to tell anyone else. And she hasn't."

"Or so you think," Isabel said.

"So I know," Max corrected. "Just give it a rest. Here you're accusing Maria of freaking out, and you're the one freaking out." He glanced at the clock. "I have to get going or I'll be late for class."

"Just try to stay away from her?" Isabel pleaded. "Promise me you'll try?"

They had reached a double door, and Max pulled it open at the same time an unfamiliar man wearing a suit appeared behind him. "Go ahead," the man said when Max held the door for him.

"No, you can go," Max replied.

"I'm sure you're on your way to class," the man said.

"Yeah, I am. So go," Max said.

The man hesitated, then walked through the door almost reluctantly. Max and Isabel followed, the door swinging shut behind them.

"All I'm saying is, be careful," Isabel whispered. "You never know who's watching."

No one's watching, Max thought wearily as he reached his classroom and slipped inside mere seconds before the bell rang. Honestly, his own sister was going to give them away just with all her fretting. Grateful to be rid of Isabel and further grateful that this was one class he and Liz didn't share, Max took his seat, glanced out the door....and froze.

A moment later, he shook his head. He was seeing things. For a split second, he'd almost gotten sucked in.

For a split second, he could have sworn he'd seen the man in the suit just outside the door, watching him.




*****************************************************




Proctor residence

Corona, New Mexico





Dee reached the bottom of the stairs and paused, feeling a twinge in her right hip. Wonderful, she thought sourly. Her mother had arthritis; did this mean she was developing it too? Those stairs had been the death knell for her mother staying in this house, that and the fact that the only bathroom was at the top of those stairs. She'd tried in vain to convince her parents to remodel, to turn the dining room into a bedroom and add a ground floor bath so they could stay in the only house they'd ever owned, but Emily had been adamant; her dining room was her dining room, and that was that. And now it's mine, Dee thought. If it was weird to visit the house in which one had grown up, it was even weirder to actually live there again.

The twinge was gone, allowing her to daydream of avoiding arthritis. Hoisting her purse, she walked out onto the front porch and stopped dead in her tracks.

"Where the hell have you been?" she demanded. "I haven't seen you in ages!"

"Nice to see you too," Brivari replied. "And your not having seen me doesn't mean I haven't been here."

"That's certainly the way I interpret it," Dee said crossly.

"Humans," Brivari said dryly. "So literal."

"Aliens," Dee retorted. "So absent."

"You know how to reach me. Is something wrong?"

Dee hesitated; that niggling feeling which had bothered her early last week when Isabel had been so upset had subsided, but not completely. Something still wasn't right.

"So the answer is 'yes'," Brivari murmured.

"I didn't say that," Dee said quickly. "I just...."

"You just....have a bad feeling?"

Dee smiled faintly. "Still sore that you didn't get to produce "Star Wars"?"

"Yes, but that's not the point."

"So what is?" Dee asked.

Brivari held up a newspaper, last Monday's newspaper to be exact, with a headline which screamed SHOOTOUT AT THE CRASHDOWN.

"What do you know about this?"






~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Next week is my birthday, and I'll be celebrating! Image I'll post Chapter 5 on Sunday, August 15.
BRIVARI: "In our language, the root of the word 'Covari' means 'hidden'. I'm always there, Your Highness, even if you don't see me."

User avatar
Kathy W
Obsessed Roswellian
Posts: 685
Joined: Thu Oct 31, 2002 5:06 am

Re: Birthright *Series* (CC, TEEN), Chapter 4, 8/1

Postby Kathy W » Sun Aug 15, 2010 4:59 pm

Hi everyone! I'm back, and I'm older. (Guess I could say that every week. :P )

Misha wrote:So, how was the birthday? I want chocolate cake too, so save something for me, okay? I promise I'll get to it... someday :wink:


So does my family--we haven't had the cake yet! Everyone was just too busy last weekend, so I celebrated on the day on my own, and we're having the cake this week. I hear it's large and chocolate, so I'll be happy. :mrgreen:

Did you ever read the first draft of the Pilot? Supposedly, it was going to be for HBO or something, so it was a more darker approach, and it ended with someone shaking his hand with Max, and before Max could react, the guy was wearing gloves that Max sees him taking off, as if in evidence... :shock:


I have the unaired Pilot (that doesn't appear to be much different from the aired Pilot), but I had no idea there was a first draft that was markedly different. At least that sounds markedly different. Glad they didn't go that route! Roswell was dark enough.

keepsmiling7 wrote:Isabel is being difficult!


She certainly is. Isabel is very difficult when she's scared. And when it's Christmas. :lol:






CHAPTER FIVE



September 27, 1999, 10:00 a.m.

Proctor residence, Corona, New Mexico





Dee lowered herself slowly into a chair beside Brivari, blinking at the newspaper held aloft in front of her. Of all the things she may have guessed would have pulled him here now, this wasn't one of them.

"What do I know about it?" she echoed. "I....I know that it happened. A week ago. What about it?"

Brivari refolded the newspaper and set it in his lap. "This is the official version. What have you heard unofficially?"

"Basically nothing you don't find in the 'official version'," Dee replied, mystified. "A couple of men got into an argument, one pulled a gun, the gun went off, they ran away. Mercifully no one got hurt. End of story."

"So no one got hurt? No one at all?"

"That's what the paper said—"

"I know what the paper said."

"Then you know everything I know. Why? Is there something we weren't told?"

Brivari rose from his seat and leaned against the porch railing. How many times had he sat on this porch over the years? Dozens, hundreds, probably, too many to count, dating all the way back to 1947. He looked so different now in his leather coat and that cap he frequently wore. Apparently if one hung around the planet long enough, one developed a fashion sense by default.

"Was Zan at the diner when the shooting occurred?"

"I don't think so," Dee answered. "He never mentioned it."

"That means nothing. This is Zan we're talking about; you can never go by what he says."

"Unfortunately, that's all I have to go by," Dee said. "And I can't imagine that he wouldn't have mentioned being present for something like that. What are you getting at? Do you think Max was involved in the shooting?"

"Did you notice anything odd about either Zan or Vilandra right after the shooting?" Brivari went on, ignoring her question.

Dee's mouth opened and closed. "Max....no. But Isabel....."

"What?"

"Well.....last Sunday.....when the shooting happened.....something was bothering Isabel. She holed up in her room and refused to come out. Diane even brought her dinner to her room. She reappeared the next morning, and she seemed to be okay, but Max left for school without her, so I drove her."

"And?"

"And she was on edge," Dee said. "Something was really bugging her. She sharpened her pencil in the car, you know, the way they do....with their minds. She does that all the time when she thinks no one's looking, but this time she just looked so shocked after she did it, like she was afraid someone had seen her."

"Anything else?"

"No. She seemed fine after that. She got all dressed up for the Crash Festival the following night....you should have seen the get-up, all stiletto heels, and wild hair, and eye make-up—"

"Classic Vilandra," Brivari muttered.

"....but then, as I was leaving the house, I found Max and Isabel climbing into the jeep, and they both looked....upset. She said goodbye to me like she thought she wasn't going to see me again."

"Really?" Brivari murmured. "And Zan?"

"Was in a big hurry to get going."

"Where?"

"To the Festival. Or so he claimed. Diane mentioned them both coming home late that night, so I take it they went." Dee paused. "What's going on, Brivari? What does this have to do with the shooting at the Crashdown?"

"Maybe nothing. I'm just checking."

"But checking what?" Dee asked. "I was impatient when Diane didn't ask more questions, but whatever it was, it's gone now. I tend to think she was right that it was just some teenaged thing. And it only seemed to affect Isabel; Max didn't seem upset, although he's so intense even on a good day, it's hard to tell with him."

"And that's exactly why Vilandra is the weathervane," Brivari said. "Zan broods, internalizes everything. Vilandra wears her heart on her sleeve; she couldn't keep a secret if you paid her."

"She seemed to have kept one well enough when she wanted to marry Khivar."

"Except that one," Brivari said darkly. "The one time she managed to keep her mouth shut, it ruined an entire planet, so let's all pray she yaks endlessly until the end of time."

Dee's eyes closed briefly. "Look," she said, "I know you see them as the people you once knew. And I'm sure there's some of those people in them. But I'm equally sure that they're not just recreations. He's not Zan—he's Max. She's not Vilandra—she's Isabel. They have similarities, but they've lived different lives this time around."

"You think I don't know that every single waking moment of my life?" Brivari demanded.

"I think that sometimes you dump your baggage from their past lives onto their present selves," Dee said pointedly. "Take Michael, for example. You haven't even asked about him, nor have you found him a better place to live."

"Nobody wants teenagers—"

"Oh, don't give me that!" Dee exclaimed. "You could do it if you really wanted to; I know you could. It's because he's Jaddo's Ward, isn't it? You're mad at Jaddo, and you're taking it out on Michael."

"That's ridiculous," Brivari insisted.

"Is it? You seemed to tolerate him better before they all found each other again in school, but after that—"

"That's because I'm not always thrilled with the effect Rath had on my Ward," Brivari said. "Not in that life, not in this one."

"He's not that bad," Dee said. "A little rough around the edges, perhaps, but he's hardly dragged Max into a life of crime. Although you're not alone," she went on with a sigh. "Diane agrees with you. She was none too happy when Michael showed up again and the three of them bonded like they'd never been apart. She's never said anything, and she won't, because then she'd have to explain how she knows Michael and what happened when they were so young, and she'll never want to do that. But I know she doesn't like having him around."

"Then perhaps you should try giving your daughter-in-law more credit," Brivari said.

Dee arched an eyebrow. "And perhaps you should try looking at them as individuals instead of carbon copies of who they used to be. Maybe hang around more, get to know them, or—"

"How am I supposed to do that?" Brivari exclaimed in frustration. "I can't get near Zan! I tried this morning at the school, and he ordered me through a doorway."

"Of course he did," Dee said calmly. "He has no idea who you are or what effect he has on you. Maybe it's time to tell him that straight out, just tell him—"

"No," Brivari said firmly. "I never knew Rath as a child, but I knew Zan at his Earth-equivalent age. Now is definitely not the time."

"Then when is the time? Will there ever be a right time?"

"When he's been smacked around enough that he gains some perspective," Brivari retorted. "That's when he started to listen to me before, when he'd stepped in enough pot holes, made enough mistakes, been screwed over and lied to often enough that he started to look at me differently. But that took a while, and he's nowhere near that point yet. He's just a kid from suburban America who doesn't know anything about hardship or responsibility other than how to spell them."

"That's a bit harsh," Dee protested. "I hope you're not going to lose interest in him the way you did with Michael."

"If I've 'lost interest', then what the hell am I doing here?"

"I'm still trying to figure that out," Dee said dryly. "All I've got is some enigmatic questions about a seemingly unrelated incident at a local eatery, and I'm betting that's all I'm going to get. Am I right?" She waited, bemused, as Brivari looked away. "Fine," she sighed. "I'll keep my eyes open, maybe ask some questions and see what happens. Will you be at your house in town?"

"Yes. And you'll be at yours?"

"Actually....we live here now."

"Here?" Brivari echoed. "I thought you were going to sell this place when your parents moved out."

"We were," Dee said, following him down the porch steps. "And then we thought, why should we? It's paid for, so we were able to sell our house, pay off the mortgage, and move in here. And I thought it might be nice to bring my parents back here for dinner sometimes, although that didn't work out."

"Why not?"

"Because Mama refuses to come back here," Dee said softly. "It took me ages to get her to walk away, and now that she has, she won't look back, even for an afternoon. I think it hurts too much." She paused. "Daddy would love to see you, you know. He's still in pretty good shape. Why not stop by sometime? Westside has some lounges, even a private dining room; he could meet you there if you didn't want to go to their apartment."

Brivari had stopped partway down the front walk, his back to her. "I think," he said slowly, "that I feel the same way about that as your mother does about coming back here."





***************************************************





FBI Field Office, 7 p.m.

Santa Fe




"I understand your frustration, sheriff, but it's late." Pause. "Perhaps you could call back....perhaps tomorrow..... Look, I'm sorry.....I'm sorry, Sheriff, but there's nothing I can tell you. Please call back tomorrow."

Agent Stevens waited, anticipating the thunk of the phone in its cradle, his assistant's exasperated sigh, the click, click of her heels on the floor as she headed for his office for what must be the sixth time today. No, what was the sixth time today. He had vivid memories of the previous five encounters.

"Agent Stevens," Pamela announced from the doorway, "that was—"

"Sheriff Valenti. I know."

"No, that was Sheriff Valenti again," Pamela corrected. "I delivered several messages from him today, and you've been in all day. What's going on?"

"Nothing's going on," Stevens answered. "I'm just not prepared to speak to him."

"Are you prepared to speak to me?" another voice said.

Not now, Stevens thought wearily, holding up a hand to silence Pamela, who was all ready to jump down the newcomer's throat. Not that he wouldn't enjoy that, of course; it was just that he knew it wouldn't work. Arguing with this one got you nowhere.

"Agent Pierce," Stevens said. "I didn't know you were in town."

"I wasn't," Pierce said. "But when Roswell's sheriff makes that many phone calls in one day, that piques my interest."

"And how would you know Roswell's sheriff had phoned here, never mind how many times?" Pamela demanded.

"None of your business," Pierce said pleasantly. "You're done here. Get out."

Pamela blinked, then looked at Stevens; he nodded slightly, and she reluctantly withdrew. Pamela was an excellent guard dog who'd tangled with all sorts, but he was willing to bet she'd never encountered rudeness like that. Few people had.

"So," Pierce said, unbuttoning his suit coat as he took a seat in front of Stevens' desk, "why is Jim Valenti beating on your door?"

"The real question is why are you beating on my door? You're not head of the Unit, Pierce, much as you may want to be."

"Yet," Pierce said smoothly. "But then we are both Unit, and I just asked you a perfectly legitimate question. Should I be expecting an answer any time soon, or should I have your exceptionally mouthy assistant send out for Starbucks?"

Which would hopefully be hot enough to burn your tongue and shut you up, Stevens thought darkly. The late Agent Summers had yet to be replaced, and unfortunately this pretty boy in a suit was on the short list. Daniel Pierce had been a member of the Unit for the past ten years, but few had seen him; he operated in the shadows, Summers' shadow, to be precise, emerging only after Summers' death to declare that the reins should be handed to him ahead of several older, much more established agents. The astonishment which had greeted this announcement had been near total with the exception of Pierce himself, who seemed to think he'd earned it, though God knows no one knew how. Almost a dozen seasoned veterans would have to be passed over....no, snubbed....to put this rude, patronizing jerk in a position no one but him felt he deserved. Even the thought was positively galling, and the only saving grace was that it hadn't happened.

Yet, Stevens amended silently. Much as it pained him to admit it, the possibility existed that Pierce might get what he wanted. Which made pissing him off completely a bad idea, not to mention that it would look weird if he refused to share. The last thing he wanted was for Pierce to go whining to the powers that be that he wasn't being collaborative, although the fact that he hadn't yet been handed the keys to the Unit suggested those powers were less than impressed. One could only hope.

"There's been an incident in Roswell," Stevens said. "Valenti is Roswell's sheriff, hence all the phone calls."

"Incident?" Pierce repeated. "What kind of incident?"

"Witnesses say they saw a waitress shot during an armed confrontation at a local diner," Stevens answered. "Supposedly a teenaged boy went up to her and did.....something to her, and now she's fine. The waitress says she just fell, and a bottle of ketchup she was holding broke and spilled all over her uniform."

"Do I detect a note of skepticism in your voice, agent?"

"Of course you do. It's a wild story, one the locals refute. They say no one was hurt."

"But Sheriff Valenti says otherwise."

"You know perfectly well that Valenti's have a long history of 'saying otherwise'."

Pierce smiled faintly. "That they do. At least the elder one did. Although, according to my stepfather, he was usually right."

"Yeah, well, according to everyone else, he was usually loony," Stevens said. "And the son appears to be no exception. His only witnesses are two Crash Festival attendees who spend their time chasing aliens."

"Which we all know are real," Pierce noted.

"But they don't," Stevens said. "And the story they're peddling is pure fantasy. Which didn't stop Valenti from buying it hook, line, and sinker, even to the point of swiping the uniform the waitress was wearing at the time and foisting it on me. He claimed there was a bullet hole in the dress, and that he never found a bullet."

"And?"

"And the lab report confirmed there is a hole, but it's not yet conclusive it's a bullet hole."

"Where is that lab report?"

Stevens hesitated. He was certainly under no obligation to show Pierce the report, but it might be better to do it now and find out what the inevitable objections would be in the privacy of his office. Rifling through a stack on his desk, he chucked a manila envelope toward Pierce, who opened it and scanned the contents.

"It says here they found blood," he said accusingly.

"It says they found mostly ketchup," Stevens corrected, "the very same ketchup the waitress claimed spilled all over her when the bottle broke. The sample was too small to be conclusive, so they're running more tests."

"And the hole? Did you even read this report, agent? The jagged edge of a broken bottle wouldn't make a hole like this. Hasn't anyone ever taught you about square pegs and round holes?"

All I need to do is look at you to figure that one out, Stevens thought. "Of course I read it," Stevens said tightly. "And I'm pursuing it, even though the dress isn't backing up his claims, and that story about the handprint—"

"What?" Pierce interrupted sharply. "He saw a handprint?"

Shit! Stevens closed his eyes momentarily, furious with himself for letting that slip. "No, he claims his son saw a handprint, a sophomore jock with a grade point average somewhere south of a C. And of course there's no handprint on the girl now."

"Because it fades!" Pierce exclaimed.

"I'm aware of that," Stevens retorted. "Just like I'm aware that handprints don't heal, they kill. There hasn't been a single recorded instance of a silver handprint doing anything but boiling you alive from the inside out. Which is just one more reason this whole story is bogus."

"I don't care if you think it's bogus," Pierce declared. "If you've got a handprint, you need eyes on the ground. You need—"

"Got it covered."

"You do? Who'd you send?"

"The best agent for the job."

"And who the hell is that?"

"None of your business."

Pierce's eyebrows rose. "Excuse me?"

"You heard me," Stevens said flatly, his patience exhausted. "This is my field office, not yours."

"Agent Stevens," Pierce said firmly, "as a member of the Unit, you have an obligation to share—"

"I've shared," Stevens interrupted. "As much as I'm going to. You don't like it, go to Director Freeh. We both know how thrilled he was to find a special unit operating right under his nose without his knowledge."

Pierce's jaw twitched, settled back into position. "It was so much better when Sessions was in power. How we managed to miss another opportunity to put one of our own in the chair is beyond me. When I'm in charge, I'll see to it we don't make that mistake again."

"If you're in charge," Stevens corrected. "If. Last I knew, Summers hadn't been replaced."

Pierce rose to his feet. "Don't push your luck, agent."

"Don't push yours," Stevens retorted, rising also. "Let me tell you something, Pierce; I was here long before you showed up, and I'll be here long after you're gone, just like all the other agents who deserve to become Summers' successor way more than you do. So you didn't get what you wanted; you win some, you lose some. Now get the hell out of my office before I pick up that phone and call Freeh. Oh, and don't forget to insult my assistant on the way out. Consistency is a virtue."

Pierce's eyes were flashing dangerously now. "Big mistake," he ground out. "Because you're wrong. I haven't lost yet. And when I win, I'll be certain to remember this conversation."

"You're terrifying," Stevens deadpanned. "And you're done here. Get out."

Pierce hesitated only a split second before slamming the lab report down on the desk so hard that a pencil cup jumped a good inch before stalking out past a flabbergasted Pamela, who slowly rose from her desk and walked into the office just as Stevens was sinking into his chair.

"You heard?"

"Hard not to," Pamela admitted. "Who in blazes was that?"

"Daniel Pierce," Steven sighed. "Summers' right-hand man and next in line to the throne, according to him. Trouble is, he hasn't been crowned yet."

"Why not?"

"His resume is about half a page long. Guy's a poser."

"Not so much of a poser that he wasn't able to find out Valenti had called," Pamela pointed out.

"He's got moles," Stevens said. "Probably a whole flock of them."

"Moles don't have 'flocks'. That's birds."

"Whatever," Stevens said impatiently. "The point is, he's nowhere near as clever as he claims to be. And don't let the expensive suits fool you. A well-dressed manikin is still a manikin."

"Mmm," Pamela murmured. "But he's awfully handsome."

"Oh, God," Stevens groaned. "Don't even start."

"I'm just sayin'," Pamela said lightly. She paused. "I notice you didn't mention the agent you sent to the sheriff's station. Or his fate."

Stevens snorted softly. "I'm surprised Pierce didn't already know. Guess he needs better moles."

"Are you going to follow up on it?"

"I'll have to," Steven sighed. "The kosher way this time, the Freeh way. The way I didn't want to."

"Why?"

"Because this is probably all a wild goose chase, and I don't want either the Unit or the Bureau to wind up looking foolish. Because going in there with guns or warrants blazing only lends credence to Sergeant Martian."

"I'm guessing Agent Hart's presence already did that," Pamela noted, "which is probably why Valenti bounced him."

"How the hell was I supposed to know he'd do that?" Stevens demanded. "Normally a local backs up ten feet when the Bureau appears. All we needed was a few minutes with the office empty."

"The way I understand it, Roswell's local isn't just any local," Pamela said.

"Spare me the history lessons, Pam," Stevens said. "I've read everything there is about our encounters with Valenti Sr., and part of the problem was that we shared too much. That just made things worse, made an already unstable man even more unstable. If I go in there with a warrant, that man's son will take it for granted that we're buying what he's selling, and then the phone will never stop ringing."

"It may not anyway," Pamela said. "Wait until this 'Pierce' finds out you sent Kathleen to Roswell. " 'Best agent for the job', my foot."

"So? I won't waste my top agents on knee jerk sheriffs."

Pamela shook her head. "I hope you know what you're doing. She's awfully green."

"Who cares?" Stevens said. "I have a duty to investigate, so I'll investigate, but I still think this is a whole lot of nothing. She can't screw up, Pam. There's nothing to screw up."




*****************************************************



Evans residence




"Go on in," Dee said. "I've got these."

"Nonsense, Mom, let Philip carry them," Diane said.

"Take two, then. I'll get the rest."

"I do hope they're not starving," Diane fretted. "We're later than we thought we'd be."

"Max and Isabel know where the kitchen is," Philip said, opening the front door with one hand and balancing pizza boxes with the other as the door swung open.

"Anybody here?" Diane called.

Dee kicked the car door closed with her foot while balancing her own two boxes. Four pizzas for five people was a bit much, but then everyone liked something different. Actually she wasn't that fond of pizza, period, but wasn't about to pass up Diane's invitation to join them for dinner. Her encounter with Brivari earlier had left her nervous about what had brought him here. Anything that would make him show himself after a long absence was worthy of attention.

"You guys hungry?" she heard Philip ask as she reached the front door.

"Hey guys, we got pizza," Diane chimed in. "Hey honey, you look....pretty. Oh, Michael....hi."

Standing in the doorway with her pizza boxes, Dee winced as she heard the change in tone. It was odd, really, that Philip tolerated Michael better than Diane; one would have thought it would have been the other way around. But Philip had accepted the kids rediscovery of each other in third grade with a shrug, while Diane had responded more like a mother bear whose cubs were threatened. Never mind that none of the kids seemed to have any memory of the trauma they'd experienced soon after they'd emerged from the pods, or that Michael had been in a stable home and was well behaved. Since then that stable home had evaporated when his foster parents had divorced, dropping him back into the Social Services system. His current foster father was little more than a mouth breather.

"Hey. I was just leaving," Dee heard Michael say.

"We've got plenty of pizza," Philip said, as Dee imagined Diane's disapproving look.

"My dad's cooking," Michael replied. "Thanks."

"Well, I'm starved," Diane said brightly. "C'mon, guys; plates, napkins, let's eat!"

Subtle, Dee thought sourly, her daughter-in-law's delight at getting rid of the interloper almost palpable from the porch. Diane had been a good mother to Max and Isabel, but her parenting skills didn't seem to extend any further than her own roof.

"Hi, Michael."

"Oh....hey, Grandma Evans," Michael said, coming out the front door. "Want help with those?"

"No, I've got them," Dee said. "Won't you join us? We bought an even ton of pizza, including ham and pineapple—your favorite. So why not.....what?" she finished when he gave her an odd look.

"Guess I'm just not used to anyone knowing what my 'favorite' anything is," Michael said. He glanced longingly at the boxes in her hand, then back into the house. "You go ahead. My dad's—"

"Cooking?" Dee finished skeptically. "Seriously, Michael, how stupid do I look?"

Michael's eyes dropped. "Not stupid at all. But you knew that."

"And I also know you'd love some of this pizza," Dee said firmly. "Don't let Diane get you down. She's weird on a good day."

"Don't let Isabel hear you say that," Michael advised. "Besides, I don't go where I'm not wanted."

"I've said whatever I like since I was a child, and I see no reason to stop now," Dee said. "And Diane's the only one who doesn't want you here, so she's outvoted. It's simple arithmetic."

Michael smiled faintly. "That's real nice of you, but I don't think it works that way."

"At least take some pizza with you," Dee said when he started to walk away. "Here....I've got napkins in the outside pocket of my purse. Wrap a few slices in those. Go on," she coaxed when he hesitated. "You and I both know this is the only dinner you're going to get unless you open a can of soup."

Dee popped open the top box of pizza, and the smell was enough to override Michael's doubts. A minute later he was loaded up with half the ham and pineapple pie, which he balanced with the deftness of one long practiced in carrying food.

"Thanks," Michael said self-consciously.

"You're very welcome," Dee said softly. "Good night."

He walked off toting his tower of pizza, and Dee was just closing the box when Diana appeared on the porch. "Oh! There you are. We were afraid you'd fallen, or something."

"Fallen?" Dee echoed. "Gracious, I'm not that old yet. I was giving Michael some pizza."

"You were? But he said—"

"That his dad was cooking? I'd be surprised if his 'dad' knew how to nuke a frozen dinner. He just said that because he knows you don't want him here."

Diane flushed. "That's not true, Mom. I just....I think...."

"I know very well what you think," Dee said, brushing past her daughter-in-law. "I should get this inside before it gets cold."

"Mom," Diane called after her, following her inside. "Mom? Wait!"

Dee turned around. "What?"

Diane folded her arms, looking supremely uncomfortable. "It's not that I don't want him here," she whispered. "It's just that I can't get it out of my head that he attacked Isabel when they were little."

"Oh, for heaven's sake, they were children!" Dee exclaimed. "Traumatized children! That was ages ago, and they don't even remember it!"

"I remember it," Diane protested. "I remember it like it was yesterday."

"I noticed," Dee said darkly. "And you've apparently decided to punish him for it for the rest of his life. Excuse me."

"No, Mom, wait...."

But Dee ignored her, marching into the kitchen where everyone else was already seated. "There you are," Philip said, taking the boxes from her. "I was beginning to think we lost my sausage and onion, and.....what happened to the ham and pineapple?"

"I gave half to Michael," Dee said briskly, pulling up a chair. "He looked hungry."

An awkward silence followed. Max and Isabel exchanged glances, and Diane had the grace to look abashed. "Oh," Philip said noncommittally, long practiced in being caught in the middle between his mother and his wife.

"That was really nice of you, Grandma," Isabel said.

"Yeah. Thanks," Max added.

"You're welcome," Dee answered. "So....tell me what you two have been up to. Did you enjoy the Crash Festival last week?"

"It was okay," Isabel said.

"I saw Isabel's costume, but what about you, Max?" Dee asked. "What did you go as?"

"Men in Black," Max answered.

"Cool," Philip offered.

Ironic, Dee corrected privately. "Oh, I had a question for all of you," she went on, hoping she sounded casual. "I was in town today, and I overheard a mention of someone getting hurt during that shooting at the Crashdown last week. Did any of you hear anything about that?"

The glass of milk Isabel was holding slipped, and she tightened her grip to catch it. Max's eyes darted briefly toward his sister, then back to his pizza. Vilandra is the weathervane, Brivari had said. If so, that weathervane had just started spinning wildly.

"Who told you that?" Max asked.

"I just overheard it standing in line at the grocery store," Dee said lightly. "I have no idea who it was."

"I didn't hear about anyone being hurt, did you, hon?" Philip asked Diane.

"No," Diane answered, happy to be off the subject of Michael. "The paper said no one was hurt. Thank God," she added.

"What about you two?" Dee asked Max and Isabel, watching them closely. "Did you hear about anyone being hurt?"

"No," Max said, looking her directly in the eye. "I didn't. And like Mom said, thank God."

He's good, Dee thought. A lot better than his sister, who was visibly rattled and who remained visibly rattled throughout the rest of the conversation. Damn it, she thought dejectedly. She'd been hoping that whatever had pulled Brivari here had been a false alarm.

Apparently it wasn't.




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



I'll post Chapter 6 next Sunday. :)
BRIVARI: "In our language, the root of the word 'Covari' means 'hidden'. I'm always there, Your Highness, even if you don't see me."

User avatar
Kathy W
Obsessed Roswellian
Posts: 685
Joined: Thu Oct 31, 2002 5:06 am

Re: Birthright *Series* (CC, TEEN), Chapter 5, 8/15

Postby Kathy W » Sun Aug 22, 2010 5:50 pm

Hello and thank you to everyone reading!

PML wrote:I like your Dee.


Thank you! I like her too, and that entire family. They provide a counterweight to very powerful shapeshifters.

As for your Daniel Pierce, hmmm, any possiblily of a stray lightning bolt or asteroid hitting him any time soon? Please?


keepsmiling7 wrote:I agree with PML......."a stray lightening bolt" would be just perfect for Pierce.


Actually, it might be too good for Pierce. :lol: He doesn't deserve a quick, random death. :twisted: Fortunately we all know when he goes and how, so we have that to look forward to!

Oh, and a belated happy birthday, enjoy your cake!


Thank you! It's large, and chocolate, and almost gone. I'd love to pin that last part on my kids, but most of it was me. :mrgreen:





CHAPTER SIX



September 28, 1999, 10:15 a.m.

West Roswell High School




"Everyone, turn to page 54 in your textbooks. We're looking at problem number three."

A rustling sound echoed through the classroom as textbooks opened and pages flipped. Odd, Kathleen Topolsky thought as heads bowed obediently over page 54. Just two days ago she never would have imagined herself in front of a classroom doing geometry. Just two days ago she was basically a glorified file clerk, albeit in the employ of a top secret organization that even the President of the United States didn't know existed. Still, having lived so recently at the bottom of the food chain, it was more than a little exhilarating to suddenly find herself not only on assignment, but in a position of power which had twenty-five people hanging on her every word. Two of whom are my targets, she added, smiling at the class as her eyes brushed the dark-haired girl on one side of the room and the dark-haired boy on the other. If their intel was correct, the girl was human....and the boy was not. Good Lord; if aliens really looked like that, the Unit wouldn't need to hunt them down. People would start building landing strips in their backyards.

"Okay," she said briskly, tearing her eyes away from the breathtakingly handsome and very human looking boy in the back corner. "Problem three. Do it with me."

Chalk squeaked, pencils scritched, and Topolsky's mind wandered to the tornado of events which had landed her here, within arms reach of extraterrestrial life. The fact that she was in the Unit at all was something of a miracle. She'd been offered a place there quite literally after her graduation from Quantico; the ceremony had only just ended and the graduates had been filing out when she'd found herself sidelined by two men in suits who had steered her to a waiting limousine.

"What's this?" she'd asked, bewildered.

"Get in," one suit had ordered.

"Why?"

"Because I said so," suit announced.

"No," Topolsky had said, backing away. "Don't try it," she'd warned, raising her arms protectively when suit had made a move to force the issue. "I'll roll you. Just watch me."

A chuckle had come from inside the limo, and a face appeared, a man's face. "Bellow," the man had said, "back off. Feisty is good in our neck of the woods. Agent Topolsky....perhaps you could postpone 'rolling' my agent for another day? I promise you a crack at him if he misbehaves."

"In exchange for what?" she'd asked warily.

"Fifteen minutes of your time," he'd answered. "That's all I'm asking."

That fifteen minutes had turned out to be far more exciting than graduation. Who knew there was a secret alien hunting unit sheltered within the FBI that had been around since 1959 and that even the President didn't know about? The man in the limo had turned out to be Agent Daniel Summers, then head of the Special Unit, and he was on a mission—to recruit a female agent. Women, he claimed, could go places men could not, were more quickly trusted. The Unit had no female agents. Would she like to be the first?

Her initial euphoria at the offer, not to mention the verification that aliens actually existed, had lasted just long enough to see her to her first post in a field office doing paperwork. Here she'd imagined herself saving the planet from ray gun-toting monsters, and all she was doing was alphabetizing files. So much for "going places men could not"; at least one of those places appeared to be a room full of filing cabinets, and it wasn't an issue of men being unable to go there, but unwilling. She'd second-guessed her decision to join the Unit for a solid three weeks before it occurred to her she could be using the time spent moping in a more constructive way: Reading all that stuff she was filing. She'd always had a near photographic memory, so mentally storing data was easy for her. She'd had no idea when, or indeed if, it would come in handy because there had been no alien sightings or even good leads for quite a while. There had even been talk, quiet talk around the water cooler, that perhaps the aliens weren't here any more, perhaps they'd finally gone home. Being the only female agent meant she was typically excluded from these conversations, but the silver lining in that cloud was that she was also invisible; other agents said things in front of her they may not otherwise have said simply because they took no notice of her. Thus did she learn that the Unit was on life support, its purpose seemingly having evaporated. She hadn't been quite sure what to think about that. The Unit's records of alien activity on this planet were all very convincing, but there was no denying the fact that no one had recorded any alien activity for several years. It was tough to maintain morale in agents who never found anything, or to pull funding out of the few sources available without evidence of their need to exist.

And then, about a year after she'd joined the Unit, evidence had suddenly appeared in the form of the dead body of Agent Daniel Summers, emblazoned with a silver handprint like all his predecessors. Summers' death rocked the Unit and Washington, what little of it knew about the Unit, that is. The loss of their leader galvanized the Unit's agents, and funding reappeared as the question of the need for it suddenly became moot. Her life had changed as well; as Unit agents bonded over the death of Summers, they placed less importance on things like rank and gender and included her in ways they never had before. It was ironic that the man who had brought her into the Unit had to die before she finally began to see glimmers of acceptance. Unfortunately that hadn't led to any postings, so back to the filing cabinets she'd gone, this time reading more voraciously than ever. Her time was coming. She could feel it.

It came in the form of a phone call Sunday night from her immediate supervisor, Agent Stevens, with not only her very first assignment, but an undercover assignment. The briefing had barely been over before she'd been out the door, practically tripping over herself in her eagerness to reach Roswell before someone yanked her back. Negotiations between the Bureau and the school district were still in progress, so she'd been assigned to fill in as a substitute teacher, which had sent her knees knocking; what, if anything, did she remember of high school geometry? Enough, as it turned out, to fake it, at least long enough for the Bureau to finish pulling the strings that needed pulling to get her where she needed to be. Although it hadn't been all bad. By sheer luck, two of her targets were in this geometry class, allowing her to observe them more closely than she may have been able to otherwise. I have to do this right, she thought as her chalk moved across the board. She knew her supervisor didn't find this to be a credible lead because it involved a silver handprint which had healed when they all knew that silver handprints did exactly the opposite. But wasn't it possible, she'd argued? Couldn't the energy that was used to kill also be used in some other way? Stevens had looked at her like she was nuts, but no matter; he had no choice but to follow up on any lead that came his way regardless of his personal feelings on the matter. So here she was, on her first real assignment and determined to make something of it even if Stevens was right and all she wound up doing was proving that female agents could handle whatever was thrown at them.

"Finished," Topolsky said briskly. "And we know that the sum of A, B, and C equals 360 degrees."

The silence behind her took on a different quality as pencils stopped scritching and students murmured, including one who said something just barely audible.

"Ms. Parker?" Topolsky asked.

"180."

"I'm sorry?"

"It's a triangle. You know, the sum of the parts would be 180 degrees."

Laughter rippled through the classroom, and Topolsky felt her chest constricting; had she really just done that? "Right," she said with what she hoped wasn't a guilty smile. "Right, of course. Equals 180 degrees."

More giggling. Topolsky felt her face reddening, and she busied herself fixing the errant information and adding a few flourishes, waiting for the blush to subside before turning around again. Funny how the confidence of thirty seconds ago had vanished, how her hated pantyhose suddenly felt a size too small and the heels she wasn't accustomed to wearing suddenly hurt. She mustn't let her mind wander like that again. The last thing she needed was to screw this up by being exposed. Aliens or no aliens, her performance here would affect not only her career, but that of any other prospective female Unit agent.

The bell rang. "Don't forget your homework," Topolsky called over the scrape of chairs and the slam of books, delighted to have a distraction. Hopefully teenage memories and attention spans were short enough that her gaffe would be quickly forgotten. She had just pulled her jacket on when the principal, a portly man with thinning hair, poked his head in the door.

"Ms. Topolsky?"

"Mr. Broadbent," Topolsky said, wondering if someone had already complained that their geometry sub didn't know the first thing about geometry. "What can I do for you?"

"Central called," Mr. Broadbent announced. "The guidance counselor position is yours. And I'd like you to meet someone. Would you stop by the office?"

"Be right there," Topolsky smiled. This was wonderful news, meaning no more math problems and unrestricted access to student records, exactly what she needed. Ten minutes later she arrived in the school office, where a man wearing a badge stood with the principal.

"Miss Topolsky," the principal said, "I'd like you to meet our sheriff, Jim Valenti. Our guidance counselors usually wind up crossing paths with the sheriff, although hopefully not too often," he added with a chuckle. "Sheriff, this is our new counselor, Kathleen Topolsky."

"Nice to meet you, ma'am," Valenti said, extending his hand.

"Likewise," Topolsky smiled, accepting a handshake that was very firm indeed.

"Please let me know if you need anything from me," Valenti went on. "I'd be delighted to be of service."

"That's good to know, sheriff," Topolsky replied. And we'll be needing something from you very soon, she thought, glancing at the clock. According to this morning's e-mail, Agent Stevens should be arriving to clean out this man's office very soon.

And then they would see just how "delighted" he was to be of service.




****************************************************




Roswell Sheriff's Station




"This thing is over, Sheriff. Let's get on with it, guys."

Jim Valenti's life flashed before his eyes as FBI agents began filing into his office, empty boxes in hand. "Search the premises"? "Remove any information pertaining to UFO's, alien sightings, and other alleged paranormal occurrences in this county"? Now, why would the governor, never mind the FBI, be the least bit inclined to go to all this trouble? This was the first time he'd ever approached the FBI with anything the least bit "paranormal". It wasn't like he was banging on their door every other week with this or that little green man sighting. He'd long thought his father was crazy to believe in aliens, as crazy as everyone else did....but that hadn't always been the case. Back when he was younger, before his parents marriage had started falling apart, he'd idolized his dad, had even taken his side in the early days when his mother was becoming more and more frustrated with his father's behavior. He remembered the first time he'd seen the photo of the John Doe with the silver handprint right after his parents had had yet another argument about aliens. He'd asked his father if his mother had seen that photo, and when his father had said she hadn't, he'd asked why not. Here was hard evidence of something weird. Why not show it to her? His father had gotten angry, saying he shouldn't have to defend himself to his own wife; she'd seen it eventually, of course, and written the whole thing off to a prank. Over the years, as her opinion of his father deteriorated right along with the opinions of the townspeople, he'd gradually fallen in line behind them. His Dad was obsessed, dangerously so. Everyone said so. It was never aliens the FBI had wanted, his mother claimed. They'd just used that excuse to get to his father, a claim given credence when Hubble had done just exactly that. It all made sense.....or did it?

Now, with agents filing in to confiscate his files, it made a much different kind of sense. He'd been pissed off at Stevens for blowing him off last week and dredging up the old "Sergeant Martian" canard, and memories had flood back. Memories of a cruel man in a dark suit waking them up very early on a Sunday morning, of his father going off with that man and trusting Jimmy to call a neighboring sheriff for help, of the FBI swooping in and confiscating the body of that John Doe with the handprint, of his mother's fear and his father's anger. Now the Bureau had treated him like crap, he was angry too, and that had only intensified when he'd found Agent Hart parked on his folding chair yesterday and sent him on his way. But as the day had worn on, he'd grown curious. Why on earth would Agent Stevens dismiss his concerns the way he had and then put an agent in his station? What was the point? What did he think that agent was going to learn sitting on a folding chair in the lobby? If they really thought he was a crackpot like his father, wouldn't they try to distance themselves as much as possible? So he'd decided to call Stevens and drag it out of him, only to be put off time and again. And that's when all his alarms went off.

His next move had made him grateful that it was night time and the station was largely deserted. His hands had been shaking as he'd removed the key that belonged to the John Doe, the same key his father had gone nuts over ten years ago, hiding it in a thermos he could easily remove if things went south. The line now crossed, he'd decided he hadn't gone far enough. Thirty minutes later he'd left the station with the only pieces of evidence in his office pertaining to anything remotely alien, copies of the John Doe file and his personal notes about the shooting at the Crashdown. He'd left quickly and quietly, mumbling goodbyes to his deputies in his hurry to get out of there, having spent so many years thinking his father crazy and trying to distance himself from his beliefs that he felt unbelievably guilty to be removing evidence and spiriting it out under cover of darkness. This was exactly the type of behavior that had sent his father over the edge and gotten him fired, and now he was doing it. It was not a pleasant thought, but it couldn't be helped. Something wasn't right. Valenti's had always had good radar for when something wasn't right, and something large and unidentified was pinging his now.

Well.....no. Actually, it was pretty easy to identify.

"You found blood on the dress," Valenti said slowly. "Why else would you care enough to remove my files? Wouldn't that be a waste of 'taxpayer dollars'?"

"It's locked," announced Agent Hart, he of the folding chair.

Agent Stevens' hand extended. "This won't take long."

Valenti stared at the hand waiting expectantly for the key to the file cabinet currently frustrating Stevens' posse. This changed everything. His Crash festival groupies had been right—there was blood on the dress. The girl had been shot. And if they were right about that, what were the odds they were right about the rest of it?

"Thank you, Sheriff," Stevens said, taking the key from Valenti.

"Make yourself at home," Valenti said stiffly. "I'm going to lunch."

It was an awfully long walk downstairs, passing FBI agents on the way in with more empty boxes and the curious stares of his own men. He'd brought this on them. He'd made the call. Once again a Valenti had flagged an alien presence, and once again the station was paying for it. They wouldn't find anything, of course, or not anything to connect to him. The John Doe file was from '59 and belonged to his father. The official file concerning the Crashdown made no mention of aliens because he knew better than to put his suspicions in writing. The John Doe's key was safely in the thermos tucked under his arm. No, their finding anything wasn't the problem.

The problem was that he'd just emulated his father again, and in the worst possible way.




****************************************************



Agent Hart hefted the heavy box with the aid of one knee and started down the stairs, peering precariously over the top. Damn, but paper was heavy, and of course the sheriff's office had to be on the second floor. Having negotiated the stairs successfully, he found himself facing a second gauntlet in the form of a long line of curious stares. Roswell's deputies were no doubt wondering why the Federal Bureau of Investigation was cleaning out their boss's office....and it was all his fault. If he'd pulled off his assignment, none of this would be happening.

It had all started so well yesterday with that desk jockey, Hanson, appropriately bedazzled by his shiny Bureau badge and happy to leave him alone. All it would have taken was five minutes with his lock picks and an empty sheriff's office, and he could have bagged a copy of the Crashdown shooting file and been on his merry way. But if his training with the Special Unit had taught him anything, it had taught him that life was never easy with a Valenti around. Valenti Sr. had been the bane of the Unit's existence from its inception, and Valenti Jr. wasn't proving to be much better. He'd idly wondered what Junior would have done if he'd refused to pack up his folding chair and leave, but it was a moot point; he'd lost the element of stealth, which was why he was there in the first place. No stealth here, he thought grimly, keeping his eyes on the front door as he marched by one pair of eyes after another. No, this was about as unstealthy as you could get.

For some reason the long main hallway seemed a lot longer on the way out as it did on the way in, and the September sunshine and fresh air felt wonderful as he finally crossed the threshold. "Finally!" Hart exclaimed, heaving the box into the waiting arms of another agent by the back door of the nearest van. "It was so stuffy in there, I thought I was going to suffocate." He paused, looking the other agent up and down. "You new?"

"Yep," the agent answered. "Got tagged for this just this morning. What is all this stuff?"

Hart snorted softly. "According to Stevens, a whole lot of nothing. We wouldn't even be here if he had his way."

"Then why are we?"

"Probably because Stevens has to follow up every lead, even it's only the ravings of a man with questionable mental health."

" 'Ravings'?"

"Okay, maybe that was unfair," Hart allowed, leaning against the back of the van. "I didn't actually hear the pitch. But this guy's father was a certified nutcase when it came to aliens, and now the son seems to be following in his footsteps."

"So he saw something?"

"Thinks he did. Something about a gun that went off at a local dive, and a waitress who was shot, but wasn't."

"So you can get shot, but not get shot," the other agent chuckled.

"Like I said—ravings," Hart said. "Supposedly somebody saved her, and Valenti thinks that somebody might be an alien. That right there tells me he's every bit as nuts as his old man."

"Why?"

Hart smiled indulgently. "You're new, right? Then let me introduce you to one of the constants of life beyond the usual death and taxes. Aliens don't save people. Ever. They kill. That's all they've ever done, and that's all they'll ever do. So when someone comes up with a story about an alien who healed a fatal gunshot wound, you know right away they're off their rocker even if they are a town sheriff. Especially if they're this town's sheriff."

"Then why cart all this out?" the other agent asked, leafing through the box. "Can't we just look through and pull certain stuff? Here's a purse snatching, a noise complaint, a fence that was too close to the property line....this is a trash heap."

"Tell me about it," Hart sighed. "And we're going to have to bring it all back, of course, because there's nothing useful here. Guess it's all a power play. Isn't everything?" He gave the box a swat. "Time to go back for another armload of power. See you in a few."

"Can I ask you something?" the other agent called.

Hart turned around. "What?"

"You won't snitch?"

"Cross my heart and hope to die, I won't tell Stevens you're in love with him," Hart said with as straight a face as he could muster.

"I'm serious," the other agent complained.

"Sorry, dude," Hart chuckled. "You just looked so earnest. Okay, I'm serious now. Not a word. What's on your mind?"

The other agent came closer, lowered his voice. "Do you....do you really....believe in aliens?"

Hart's smile faltered. "You know, back at the beginning of the year, I'm not sure how I would have answered that."

"But....?"

"But then the leader of our Unit was killed last spring. By an alien."

"How do you know it was an alien?"

"We know," Hart said grimly. "There are certain ways they kill, and this was one of them. Every single Unit leader has died that way, but Summers lasted longer than any of them. He went to the head of the class eleven years ago, before my time and way before yours. Summers was the first time someone I knew died because of an alien."

"You knew the Unit's leader?"

"Well....not personally," Hart allowed. "Don't know the new one either, if we even have one; no one's quite sure who's leading the Unit now. But my point was, yes, I believe in aliens. You see a dead body, you not only believe, but you believe they have to be stopped. It's as simple as that."

"Right," the other agent murmured. "Okay....well....you won't welsh on me?"

"Course not," Hart said. "What, is this high school? That's Topolsky's gig."

"Who?"

"Kathleen Topolsky," Hart answered. "The Unit's only female agent. She's off playing guidance counselor to the kiddies, supposedly to track down our healing alien."

"Wait....the alien is a kid?"

"So I hear," Hart said, shaking his head. "And that's another thing that makes this whole thing ridiculous. Why in the name of all that's holy would an alien pretend to be a teenager?"

The other agent shrugged. "Maybe because no one would believe an alien would pretend to be a teenager?"

Hart stared at him a moment, then broke into a wide smile. "Good," he nodded approvingly. "That was good. You had me going for a second. But I still say that would be one stupid alien, even it is a lucky one."

"Why lucky?"

"Topolsky's green," Hart said dismissively, "greener than a bag of leaf lettuce. Stevens is just going through the motions, so he sent a newbie. Didn't want to waste a good agent. If there is an alien toting a backpack around Roswell High, they're probably almost as safe as if Topolsky wasn't there." He paused, watching another agent exit the station lugging a full box. "I should get back inside. Let's hope that office isn't a bottomless pit, or we'll be here all day. Wish me luck. Oh, and one more thing," Hart added. "Welcome to the Unit."




******************************************************




Thank you, Brivari thought dryly, waiting until Agent Hart had disappeared inside the sheriff's station before letting his features slide into a different configuration. If the current size of the Special Unit was a cloud, its silver lining was the fact that that size made it easier to infiltrate, at least on the periphery. Add in the fact that humans loved to talk, and you could learn a great deal in a short period of time, even if what you learned was simultaneously conflicting, frustrating, reassuring.....and alarming.

Hovering nearby under the pretense of waiting for a bus, Brivari watched the slow but steady trail of boxes emerge from the sheriff's station. The Special Unit was now in Roswell; that much was certain, and that much was bad news. Tempering that bad news was the fact that Agent Stevens was here not because he wanted to be, not because he believed Valenti's story, but out of a sense of obligation. Hart had not mentioned the waitress's uniform, presumably because he didn't know about it; he was probably too low on the totem pole to merit such information. Had they found blood amidst all that ketchup? Or was the Unit merely acting on any and all information, no matter how dodgy? It could very well be the latter given that the Unit had lost yet another leader only a few months ago, a fact Jaddo had predictably omitted from his report. He viewed the act of picking off the Unit's leaders as his holy mission, and had never understood that doing so merely galvanized them further. He probably hadn't mentioned it because he didn't find it worth mentioning.

A bus approached. Brivari began walking, rounding the corner and returning a minute later with a new face and clothing, ostensibly waiting for the next bus, using the time to try and piece together the disparate pieces of information he'd gathered. Everyone agreed that a gun had been fired at the Crashdown last week, and no one had been hurt, the one exception to "everyone" being none other than a Valenti. The Special Unit had responded to Valenti's report by emptying his office and installing an agent in the area, even though its local supervisor didn't place much stock in that report, and the agent in question was untried. Zan and Vilandra had clearly been having some kind of disagreement in the school hallway, although he hadn't heard enough of it to know why, and disagreements between those two were as common as dirt. It would appear that what they had here was yet another case of a Valenti reading aliens into a local event. The one remaining problem was Dee's unease about the way Zan and Vilandra had been behaving, which was not to be discounted.

No, not the only problem, Brivari allowed. Not even the major problem. The major problem was he knew perfectly well that his Ward was perfectly capable of doing what Jaddo suspected despite the enormous risks involved. Zan had always been a walking conflict between control and impulsiveness. Most of the time control won out, sometimes too much so. But when it didn't, when that control faltered, he tended to race ahead without thinking, without considering alternatives, without considering the consequences, only to rein himself back in harder than ever once what he'd done had sunk in. The hybrids were aware of their enhanced abilities; this much he knew from Dee's careful observations over the years. The fact that they'd kept those abilities to themselves told him that they were at least somewhat aware of the risks involved in revealing them. For Zan to suddenly and publicly reveal an enormous power like the one he'd purportedly demonstrated would be catastrophic....and all too familiar. It was just exactly the type of thing he would have done, especially in his adolescence. It would be terribly ironic if his being here now was the result of one of Zan's bursts of impetuousness.

Another agent appeared, loading yet another box into one of the Bureau's vans as Brivari "waited" for his bus. This was the first time in a long time that he'd been in town for any real length of time, a sharp contrast to the way he'd hovered so closely right after Jaddo's disappearance. He'd expected, indeed they had all expected, the hybrids' memories to return very soon.....but they hadn't. Weeks had gone by, then months, then years. Weary of watching his Ward become more and more human with each passing year, he'd eventually distanced himself. It appeared the hybrids weren't going to remember without prodding, the very same prodding which had pushed them over the edge, and according to the Healer, they would need to wait for adulthood before attempting that again. Given what he knew of Zan's and Vilandra's adolescence, he would agree with that. This was not the time to drop the tale of their origins and responsibilities into their laps. They weren't ready.

Another agent appeared with another box just as Brivari's eye caught a flash of light across the street, then another. What was that? He could have sworn it was a specular reflection from a lens, like a camera or a pair of binoculars. Was someone else watching the goings on at the sheriff's station besides him? Probably Valenti, he thought, walking casually right past Agent Hart, who ignored him, and crossing the street at the light, keeping the sporadic glint in sight until he was at the right angle to see who it was.

Rath.

Brivari blinked, unable to believe his eyes. Rath was watching the FBI cart boxes out of Valenti's office with the aid of a pair of binoculars which had caught the sunlight and given away his position. What was Rath doing here? Why would he be the least bit interested in Valenti? He hovered for several minutes watching the watcher whose eyes were glued to his binoculars, not missing a moment of what was going on across the street.

Then, suddenly, Rath took off, Brivari hurrying to follow. Rath led him right to the Crashdown Café just as Zan pulled up in that ridiculous jeep Philip and Diane had bought him with a dark-haired girl in the passenger seat, who jumped out and went into the café. Brivari walked right up to the café windows, ostensibly examining the menu posted there while listening to Zan's and Rath's conversation.

"....taking things out of the sheriff's office," Rath was saying. ".....guys in suits.....get in there......now or never, Max."

Brivari's heart began to pound, and he edged closer, pushing his already superior hearing to its limits. There could be only one reason Zan and Rath would be discussing the goings on at the sheriff's station, and it wasn't a good one.

"Michael, it's important to me, too," Zan was saying.

"All you want to do is protect what you've got here in Roswell," Rath said accusingly.

"That's right, I do," Zan answered.

"Have you ever thought what it's like here for me, Max?"

"Of course I have."

The dark-haired girl emerged from the café, walking right past Brivari to wait beside the jeep. "Look, the woman who pulled your records, she's on her way to your place," Zan told Rath.

"What?!"

"Just stay away from there tonight," Zan ordered. "Isabel is waiting for you at our house. Just go there and wait."

"Wait for her to come and find me?" Rath demanded.

"Don't do anything stupid," Zan retorted.

Rath gave Zan an all too familiar look before leaving, and Zan watched him with concern for a moment before climbing into the jeep and driving off with the dark-haired girl. Brivari remained on the sidewalk outside the café, unsure of which part of that astounding conversation to analyze first. The woman who had pulled Rath's records could very well be the Special Unit's Agent Topolsky, but, oddly enough, that wasn't the part which had Brivari flabbergasted. That exchange....the tone, the wording, the order given, the resentful look on Rath's face....if he'd closed his eyes, he could have imagined himself on Antar listening to the King and his Second having yet another disagreement over how to handle a problem. Even more astounding was the fact that they knew there was something to handle. It appeared that not only had Zan indeed done something he shouldn't have in a very public place, but that he and Rath were very much aware of the consequences and actively pursuing them....all of which raised an interesting question.

Had they finally remembered who they were?




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


I'll be on vacation next weekend, so to avoid another 2 week break, I'll post Chapter 7 on Wednesday, September 1st. (Good Lord, is it September already? :shock: )
BRIVARI: "In our language, the root of the word 'Covari' means 'hidden'. I'm always there, Your Highness, even if you don't see me."

User avatar
Kathy W
Obsessed Roswellian
Posts: 685
Joined: Thu Oct 31, 2002 5:06 am

Re: Birthright *Series* (CC, TEEN), Chapter 6, 8/22

Postby Kathy W » Wed Sep 01, 2010 9:43 pm

Hello to everyone reading!

XAF RU208 wrote:Interesting! Looking forward to more …

Have a good holiday.


Thank you, on both counts. I had a wonderful holiday! :mrgreen:

keepsmiling7 wrote:One of the funniest parts with Topolsky in the Geometry class.....it really sets up the characters as we see them later.


I actually sympathized (briefly) with Topolsky because I stank at math. (English was my thing--surprise!) When I first saw that episode, I didn't even catch her 360 degree mistake until Liz did. Good thing the FBI didn't hire me! :P





CHAPTER SEVEN



September 28, 1999, 7:30 p.m.

Crashdown Café




"Larry, would you sit down!" Jen hissed.

"I'm just trying to find the bullet hole," Larry complained, sinking back down into his chair. "You and I both know the gun went off, so it has to be somewhere."

"Yes, but repeatedly slinking up to the corner where that waitress was and sniffing around the walls and cabinets makes you look demented," Jen declared. "If you keep doing it, they're going to throw us out of here."

"Look!" Larry exclaimed. "There she is!"

Jen followed Larry's gaze to see the girl who had been shot a week ago enter the café. She marched up to the blonde waitress, the one who had also been there during the shooting, and proceeded to get into what looked like an intense exchange.

"Larry, I—"

"Shhhh!" Larry shushed. "I'm trying to listen!"

Jen fell into a frustrated silence, straining to hear over the murmur of patrons and the clink of dishes. But all she could pick out was "Go get your uniform on, Madonna!" delivered in an equally frustrated tone by the blonde, followed by Gunshot Girl's exit, which was interrupted by a tall, lanky boy with a concerned expression.

"Okay, that's not him," Larry murmured.

"That's not who?" Jen asked.

"Healer Boy," Larry answered. "That's Gunshot Girl, but that's not Healer Boy."

"Well, it stands to reason that she talks to other people besides Healer Boy."

"But who is that?" Larry whispered. "I've never seen him before."

"Who cares?" Jen said in exasperation.

"Jen, keep your voice down," Larry admonished. "Someone will hear us."

"Oh, so now you're worried someone will hear us, but you're not the least bit worried that someone will notice every single time you wander over to that corner and start examining the woodwork?"

"I'm looking for—"

"I know what you're looking for!" Jen exploded. "I just don't want to get arrested because you won't stop looking for it!"

"Where is this coming from?" Larry whispered furiously. "You were here. You saw it. You—"

He stopped suddenly, ducking down as Gunshot Girl left the café. "Good job, Larry," Jen deadpanned, rolling her eyes. "No one will ever notice you hiding behind a bowl of Milky Way minestrone."

Gunshot Girl had gone, and Larry violently pushed his plate aside in a perfect example of the frustration Jen was feeling. "What has gotten into you?" he hissed, leaning over the table. "You were right beside me when we talked to the sheriff and identified everyone in the yearbook, and now it's like you're ready to give up!"

"Because I am ready to give up," Jen said. "Look, Larry, we've taken this as far as we can. We talked to the sheriff, we made our statements...that's it. That's all we can do. We can't prove it, and the more we try to, the more we look like nuts."

"There's no bullet hole," Larry said firmly. "That gun went off. Everyone heard it. So where's the bullet? Where's the bullet hole?"

"I don't know!" Jen exclaimed. "And at this point, I don't care. I just want to eat somewhere else for a change, somewhere that doesn't only sell food dripping in grease that's going to make me gain so much weight, my pants will rip."

"But this is where it happened!" Larry protested. "We have to be here as much as possible because this is ground zero. This is where—"

"This is where we've eaten breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the past week," Jen interrupted. "My arteries are screaming."

"But we've seen her all the time," Larry said. "Gunshot Girl—"

"Lives here," Jen finished. "She lives here. Her family owns this restaurant, and she works here, so of course we're going to see her."

"But we haven't seen Healer Boy," Larry said. "Why not? I'll tell you why not. Because no criminal worth his salt returns to the scene of the crime, that's why not."

Jen closed her eyes briefly. "Larry, explain to me how it's a crime to save a girl's life."

"It's the way he did it," Larry argued. "He just puts his hand on her, and then she's fine? What's up with that?"

"Maybe we're misinterpreting things," Jen suggested. "I know what we saw, but maybe we just reached the wrong conclusions. Maybe she wasn't shot. Maybe she just fell because she was so startled, like she said, and he just....woke her up, or something."

"Then where's the bullet hole?" Larry demanded.

"God, Larry, you're getting on my last nerve!" Jen exclaimed, pushing her plate of food away more because the smell was making her nauseous than because she wasn't hungry. "We did what we could. Everybody else says the girl wasn't shot, so maybe we're—"

"Excuse me."

Jen broke off abruptly. A man was hovering at her elbow, a stranger in black jeans, boots, an expensive-looking leather jacket. "Forgive me for interrupting, but I was looking for someone who was here a week ago Sunday during the shooting," the man said. "I didn't mean to eavesdrop, but....were you here?"

"Who's asking?" Jen said suspiciously.

"I was just curious," the man said lightly. "There are a number of very intriguing rumors flying around, and I was trying to sort it all out."

"That why you were talking to that waitress over at the counter?" Larry asked. "I notice things," he added proudly. "Nothing much gets by me."

"I guess not," the man agreed. "I've heard their side of things, and now I'd like to hear yours." He paused, eyeing the chair in front of him. "May I?"

Jen's skin prickled, and she looked away. She couldn't put her finger on it, but something about this guy bothered her. "Sorry, but we were just about to—"

"Sure," Larry said abruptly. "Pull up a chair."

Jen looked daggers at Larry, who ignored her as the stranger settled himself between the two of them. "So why do you want to talk to us?" Larry asked. "Haven't you already heard the scoop?"

"The official 'scoop'," the man allowed. "But I have reason to believe there's more to it than meets the eye."

"Like what, exactly?" Jen asked warily.

The man leaned in closer and lowered his voice. "At the risk of making myself sound....well....unhinged, can I ask if either of you believes in....aliens?"

Larry's eyes widened. "Why? Do you?"

"I have for a very long time now," the man confirmed. "And furthermore, I believe this incident has all the hallmarks of an alien visitation."

"So do I!" Larry exclaimed as Jen rolled her eyes. "The way it just came out of the blue, and everyone knows aliens have advanced medicine—"

"And the cover up," the man said, nodding. "There's always an attempt to cover it up."

"Don't we know it," Larry agreed. "We told the sheriff what happened that very day. We said, where's the bullet? Everyone said the gun went off, but there's no bullet, no bullet hole. Jen and I went to him and told him everything we saw, every single thing."

"Larry, maybe we shouldn't—" Jen began.

"And then they gave us a yearbook," Larry plowed on, "and we picked out who it was. A high school sophomore," he added, shaking his head. "Who would have guessed that an alien would show up as a high school sophomore?"

"So who was it?" the man asked.

"A kid named Max Evans," Larry answered. "And the girl was Liz Parker."

"The owner's daughter?"

"That's the one," Larry nodded. "Although everyone seems to be buying her story that she just fell and broke a bottle of ketchup."

"You think she's lying?"

"We know she's lying," Larry said firmly. "We were here, and we saw it all, didn't we, Jen?"

Jen hesitated as two pairs of eyes fastened on her. "Listen, mister, it's not that I didn't see what I saw," she said finally. "It's just that the sheriff's deputies acted like we were crazy—"

"But the sheriff didn't," Larry interjected.

"He was just humoring us," Jen countered. "We only came here for the Crash Festival, and we were supposed to be back home now, but Larry won't leave, and I'm afraid people are going to think we're....you know."

"Mmm," the man murmured. "I know what you mean. I get that a lot."

"See?" Larry said. "He gets it too!"

"That's doesn't make it any easier when I get it," Jen retorted.

"But you won't get it from me," the man assured her, leaning in even closer. "What exactly did you see?"

Jen glanced around, noting the owner in the back and the blonde waitress at the register. "Well.....we were eating our lunch, and the owner's daughter gave us a picture she claimed her grandmother gave her—"

"A picture of an alien," Larry broke in, nodding vigorously.

"Right," Jen went on. "And then these two guys were fighting, and one of them pulled a gun, and....it went off."

"And the girl went down," Larry declared. "Splat! Just like that. Flat on her back."

"On her back," Jen agreed.

"Was she moving?" the man asked.

Jen shook her head. "Nope. Not at all. And then that Max kid—"

"Max Evans," Larry clarified.

"Right, Max Evans. He was sitting in that booth with another kid, a boy about his age." Jen pointed, and the man's head swiveled to look. "Max went up to the girl, knelt down next to her, and ripped her uniform open—"

"Just rrrriped it!" Larry added for emphasis. "The button-popping kind."

"Larry, don't make this sound like some bodice-ripping romance novel," Jen said tartly. "It wasn't like that."

"What was it like?" the man asked.

"It was like....he looked scared," Jen said. "What I could see of him, anyway. His back was to us, and—"

"What you could see of him? You mean you weren't close enough to see him well?"

"That other kid Max was sitting with held everyone back," Larry said, nodding knowingly. "Interesting, huh?"

"So then Max puts his hand on the girl's stomach," Jen went on, "and—"

"Was she moving now?" the man asked.

"Nope; still not moving. So he puts his hand on her, and just...held it there."

"For a really long time," Larry said. "Like, half a minute? Three quarters of a minute?"

"And then she started moving a little," Jen went on. "And Max tossed his keys to his friend, and they took off. And the girl got up, looking all dazed and everything, with this mess of ketchup...or whatever....all over her uniform."

"And then she lied," Larry said. "She told the sheriff she didn't know the two boys sitting there, but she sure acted like she knew them."

"Who was that other boy?" the man asked. "Did you find him in the yearbook?"

"Yep," Larry nodded. "Some kid named 'Michael Guerin'."

"Did he do anything unusual?"

"Other than holding everyone back while Max did whatever he was doing? No," Larry allowed. "Although he was in a big hurry to get out of here just as soon as he heard the siren."

"Siren?"

"Max told the waitress over at the register to call an ambulance," Jen said. "And she did."

The man was quiet for a moment. "That's odd," he said finally. "Why would an alien tell a human to call an ambulance if he intended to repair the wound himself?"

"Maybe he wasn't sure she was still alive," Larry suggested. "Or maybe he didn't know if he could pull it off."

"Perhaps," the man agreed. "Although it would seem to be nothing more than a good way of calling attention to oneself, something aliens usually don't want to do." He paused. "Perhaps I'm mistaken. The request for an ambulance doesn't fit with other alien interventions."

"Then where's the bullet hole?" Larry demanded, clearly tweaked that what had seemed to be a kindred spirit was losing faith.

"Oh, Jesus, enough already with the bullet hole," Jen muttered.

"No, not enough already," Larry declared. "The gun went off. That means there has to be both a bullet and bullet hole, and there's neither."

"And the sheriff knows this?" the man asked.

"We told him everything," Larry said firmly. "Everything."

"But you thought he was just humoring you?" the man asked Jen.

"I thought he might be," Jen admitted over Larry's objections. "The deputy obviously thought we were off our rockers. The sheriff asked us to pick the kids out of the yearbook, and we did....and that was that."

"So he dropped it?"

"Or he's covering it up," Larry suggested. "He sure seemed interested when the waitress got hit by a car and got that handprint on her—"

"What's this?" the man broke in.

"The Crash Festival," Jen sighed. "The reason we came here in the first place. The blonde waitress over at the register, the one who was also here the day of the shooting, was hit by a car in the festival parking lot. She was okay, but somebody ran up to her and left a weird shiny handprint on her chest."

"Who?" the man asked.

"We don't know," Larry allowed. "Whoever it was was in costume, and it turned out to be just paint. But they were all there together: Gunshot Girl, Healer Boy, the blonde—"

"They all know each other," Jen reminded him. "It's not weird that they'd be at the Crash Festival together."

"But why—" Larry began.

"Larry, it was just a prank!" Jen exclaimed. "Just a festival prank! What else could it be? Stop trying to connect that to the shooting."

"It was weird, and it was the same people, so of course it was connected to the shooting," Larry retorted. "Besides, the sheriff was there too—"

"Of course he was there!" Jen said in exasperation. "She was hit by a car, remember?"

"What's going on here?"

Heads turned. It was the blonde waitress, Gunshot Girl's friend and co-worker, one "Maria" according to her name tag. "Are you talking about me?" she demanded.

"They were just filling me in on some local events," the man said lightly.

" 'Local events'?" Maria repeated suspiciously. "Like me being hit by a car? And the shooting last week?"

Larry's eyes dropped. "Among others," Jen said awkwardly.

"Look, you already talked to me," Maria said accusingly to the man, who was watching her with raised eyebrows. "I told you what happened. I was there. I know."

"We were there too," Larry said. "And I think it's safe to say that our version differs from yours."

"Then your version's wrong," Maria declared. "Don't follow these two down the rabbit hole," she added to the man. "They're saucer chasers. They'd think I'm an alien because my hair's short."

"We would not!" Larry retorted. "But we just might think your friend's benefactor was an alien after he magically made her gunshot wound disappear."

Jen's eyes widened as Maria tucked her pen behind her ear with a stabbing motion that looked painful, freeing one hand to grab Larry by an ear in a motion that was definitely painful judging by the look on his face. "You listen to me," she said severely. "Stop spreading this mind rot about Liz. She's my friend, and we're all just darned lucky that something worse didn't happen to her—"

"Something did," Larry muttered.

"Quiet!" Maria hissed, tugging harder on Larry's ear, making him wince. "Don't you dare wish something fatal on a friend of mine, or I swear to God with my eyes wide open, I'll—"

"Is....everything okay here?"

It was the proprietor, gazing curiously at his employee as she held Larry half out of his seat by his ear. "No, Mr. Parker, everything is not okay," Maria said stoutly. "These...people....keep spreading lies about what happened to Liz. It's like they wanted her to get shot. What kind of people want a sixteen year-old girl to get shot?"

"I never said I wanted her to get shot," Larry protested, wrenching free of her grip. "I just think—"

"You just think you don't care what happens to her as long as you find your aliens," Maria interrupted furiously. "Mister, that is so not cool."

"I never said I didn't care what happened to her!" Larry exclaimed, rubbing his ear. "On the contrary, I care very much about what happened to her. About what really happened to her, I mean."

Jen sat perfectly still as Mr. Parker squatted down beside Larry. "Mr. Trilling," he said in the measured tone one uses when one is trying hard to control one's temper, "I understand that everyone's upset about what happened here—God knows I am, because it wasn't just my customers, it was my own daughter—but it's over now, thankfully no one was hurt, and I simply can't let you keep dredging this up."

"I'm not dredging—"

"Yes, you are," Mr. Parker said firmly. "You're stirring the pot, sniffing around my establishment and upsetting everyone all over again, and I won't have it. If I catch you doing it again, you'll have to find somewhere else to eat."

"You'd throw us out?" Larry said in astonishment.

"Told ya," Jen muttered.

"Oh, that's rich," Larry said angrily. "If that's not a cover-up, then I've got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you."

"Larry, give it a rest!" Jen exclaimed. "Just let it go! Mr. Parker, I'm really sorry," she added over Larry's attempts to protest further. "It won't happen again. I promise."

"I'm afraid I owe you an apology as well," the man added. "I asked these two for their version of what happened. I had no idea it was such a sore subject."

"No harm done," Mr. Parker said. "Let's all just drop it, okay?"

"Of course," Jen nodded.

"At once," the man agreed.

Everyone looked at Larry. "Fine," he said sullenly. "If no one else wants to know the truth—" He stopped, wincing at Jen's well aimed kick under the table. "Fine," he amended. "I'll drop it."

"Good!" Mr. Parker said cheerfully. "Glad that's settled. Just one more thing. Maria....?"

"What?" Maria said.

"I think you owe Mr. Trilling an apology," Mr. Parker prompted.

"Him?" Maria demanded. "After what he did? You said yourself—"

"With 'said' being the operative word," Mr. Parker broke in. "Notice I managed to get my point across without hanging him by his ear. You're supposed to serve the customers, not manhandle them."

Maria sighed the sigh of the martyred. "Fine," she said flatly, sounding remarkably like Larry. "I apologize."

"I was looking for something a bit....more?" Mr. Parker coaxed.

Maria fixed Larry with a stare that made him recoil in his seat. "I apologize for grabbing you by the ear even though you were spreading false and malicious lies about friends of mine and deserved one whole heck of a lot worse."

Mr. Parker blinked. "Maybe I should have been more specific."

"Not at all," the man said with a faint smile. "That definitely qualified as 'more'." He rose from his seat. "I'm sorry if my curiosity caused a problem. It won't happen again."

"I just didn't want you to fall for their tall tales," Maria said. "I'm not trying to be nasty, I'm just—"

"A loyal ally," the man finished. "A rare gift. Very rare, indeed. I should know." He nodded to Mr. Parker, then to the rest of them. "Good evening to all of you."

He walked out, the little bell tingling on the door as he left. "Jen," Larry said slowly as they all gazed after him. "Did we ever get his name?"

Jen shook her head. "No. We didn't."




****************************************************




His hands stuffed in his pockets, Michael Guerin paced back and forth in the small alley between two buildings, feeling like his head was going to explode. He should have been at the Evans' house by now, a fact which Isabel had no doubt noticed. He hadn't actually seen him do it, but Michael was certain that Max had called her and told her to keep an eye out for him. It was just the sort of thing Max would do because Max didn't trust him.

Don't do anything stupid.

So I'm stupid, am I? Michael thought angrily, kicking a stone out of the way, taking pleasure in the way it bounced off a nearby wall with a satisfying thwap. Was it stupid to want to know where you came from? Was it stupid to want to be safe? Was it stupid to just want your world to get better any way it could? Was it stupid to lie in bed each night, listening to Hank stumble around the trailer in a drunken stupor and wondering if this was really all there was, all there would ever be?

He hadn't always felt this way. Life with the Guerins had been good....until it hadn't been. And then he'd had to move to his new foster father's place, at that time a ramshackle house on the edge of town. He'd thought that was bad, but the trailer was even worse. No wonder he was willing to jump at any little chance to get out of here. But now it's more, he thought, his eyes on the now largely deserted sheriff's station across the street. It was one thing to hate his foster father, and another thing entirely to have information about their origins dangled tantalizingly in front of them. Even if he'd still been living with the Guerins, he was positive he wouldn't have been able to resist the temptation to go after that. Another alien back in 1959.....a handprint that had killed, not healed. He'd never seen a handprint before Max had left one on Liz Parker. Max had healed plenty of things before, but they'd all been small, and none of them had left a mark. To have one of them leave a mark for the first time, and then to find that someone else had left the same mark under very different circumstances forty years ago was mind-boggling....and exciting.

For him, at least. Max and Isabel didn't find it exciting, they found it frightening. They actually liked it here. They'd bought into the illusion that they belonged here, that their "parents" were their real parents, and they were real kids. Much as Michael had liked the Guerins, he'd always known it wasn't real. Max and Isabel had fallen for their own story, and even though Michael wouldn't have admitted it without a gun to his head, he could see why. It must be nice to have somewhere where you felt you belonged, where you felt accepted. Maybe it was an illusion, but it was a really nice illusion, and up until now, he could see why they would be opposed to anything that would shatter that illusion. Up until now, all they'd had were vague, unsubstantiated memories and nowhere else to go. Why give up such a lovely fantasy for that?

But then Max had violated his own rules by healing a gunshot wound in front of half the town and they'd discovered there had been someone else like them in this very place. That was huge. That changed everything, and it was clear from the way both Max and Isabel were resisting it that they knew that. And now that it was no longer just a wistful, "Gee, I wonder if there's anything else out there," he was no longer willing to just let it lie. If there were answers, he wanted to know, and he wasn't going to find them by hiding in Max's house or anywhere else.

A figure rounded a nearby corner, and Michael drew further back into the shadows as it walked by wearing a familiar worried face. Isabel. He hadn't shown, and of course she'd come looking for him like some kind of demented Mary Poppins. He waited until she rounded another corner and was well out of sight before scooting across the street and around to the back, gazing up at the second floor. The other night when he'd pretended to sell candies for charity, the signs had said the sheriff's office was on the second floor, and the deputy had said there wasn't much of anyone around at night. All he needed to do was get in there.

Sorry, Maxwell, Michael thought he mentally gauged the distance. You may not want to know.....but I do.




*****************************************************




It was dark out when Brivari let the Crashdown's door close behind him, this latest phase of his investigation having come on the heels of the incredible idea that the hybrids might actually be more aware than previously thought. Valenti wasn't the only one saying something had happened on the day of the shooting; he was supposedly going on the word of witnesses, and it was those witnesses who might hold the key. One of the best places to start piecing together what had happened was the place he'd been standing in front of, the place where it had happened. Which is how he'd come to be seated at the counter in the Crashdown and approached by a waitress with a ridiculous apron, boyishly short hair, and a name tag which read "Maria".

"So," she'd announced, sounding harried, "what'll it be?"

"A Galaxy Burger," Brivari had replied. "And your opinion."

Maria had proceeded to give him the standard story he'd heard so many times today from so many different people. But her version had been delivered with an earnestness which was telling, and her outburst at the couple to whom eavesdropping had led him confirmed his suspicions: She was lying. But in keeping with the mixed news he'd been uncovering all day, the reason she was lying was encouraging. It was now clear that Zan had indeed healed a gunshot wound in full view of the public; that was the bad news. The good news was that both the recipient of his largesse and another witness had seen fit to protect him by lying about what he'd done, and that Rath had been able to shield Zan from the most intense scrutiny as he'd committed what could only be described as an act of lunacy. No matter their differences, Rath had always protected his king, and Zan had always had a knack for making allies. Both factors had once again combined to shield him from the worst, even on a completely different world.

But while those efforts seem to have fooled 99% of the population, they had not fooled the one man they needed to fool most—James Valenti Jr., the son of their nemesis from the late forties. It would appear that the painted silver handprint left behind at the Crash Festival was a clumsy attempt to throw him off, but Brivari knew very well that it would take much more than that to distract a Valenti, not to mention the Special Unit. As he rounded a corner and the sheriff's station came into view, it was clear that the Unit had finished its housecleaning and left. They wouldn't have gotten everything, though; Valenti Sr. had kept copies of information about Atherton and Audrey from the FBI, and he had every reason to believe Valenti Jr. was similarly savvy. The question was where he'd put it. Jaddo had found information at Valenti Sr.'s house; the same might be true of Valenti Jr., but he was already here. Might as well start with the station.

The sheriff's cruiser was absent from its parking spot outside, and inside the station was nearly deserted. Brivari approached cautiously, waiting for opportune moments, moving soundlessly when they came, melting into the shadows when necessary. It was so easy to elude people; one need only change one's face, hair, or clothing, or simply adopt the colors of one's background to fade into obscurity, all of which only called for shifting his outer layer of cells. He hadn't shapeshifted in decades now, hadn't needed to, hadn't expected he'd ever need to again. He wasn't even sure he still could, although he was reasonably certain that if he did, it would hurt like hell. Shifting took effort and practice, and he'd had none of either for the past forty years.

The door to the sheriff's office was locked. A moment's thought opened it, and he made certain to relock it after entering. His hand provided light as he glanced through the nearest file cabinets, many of which had been seriously cleaned out in the Unit's attempt to look thorough, but didn't expect to find anything. If Valenti had hidden anything here, it wouldn't be in such an obvious location.

Brrrrinnnnggg!

Shit! Brivari fumbled for his cell phone, cursing under his breath. Infernal thing....he'd forgotten to turn it off. There was little point in stealth if one had a noisemaker in one's pocket. "Hello?" he whispered into the phone.

It was Andrew, his trusty and oh-so-spastic assistant, who immediately demanded to know why he was whispering. "Because I don't want to be overheard," Brivari answered crossly. "My phone will be off from now on. Yes, off. That's what voicemail is for. I...what? Jesus, I don't care! Hire him, fire him, be my guest. You decide. Go ahead and.....no, it doesn't matter where I am. I'm busy. With something a lot more important than some whiny actor. Don't call me; I'll call you."

Brivari fwapped the phone closed and popped the battery out before replacing it in his pocket. He'd always been able to time his visits to Roswell to coincide with his work schedule, and previous visits hadn't required him to sneak around. He'd have to make other arrangements because unfortunately, Jaddo was right—they had a genuine problem, one which required his presence here at least until things had calmed down and both Valenti and the Unit had written everything off to a couple of Crash Festival tourists. He listened for sounds of approach, but heard none; the sheriff's office was on the second floor, so it was doubtful anyone had overheard a thing. Best to finish up and get out of here.

Ten minutes later, after a thorough check of the closet and the floorboards, he started on the desk. False backs and bottoms were common, as was the practice of taping something to the bottom of a drawer. He'd methodically searched two drawers when he heard noises and stopped abruptly. Someone was coming, but not from the hallway. The sounds were odd, and he listened hard before realizing they came from....outside?

Rising from the desk chair, Brivari walked to the window. There was a locked grate outside, a dumpster below, a drainpipe to one side....and a shadowy figure clambering up the drain pipe, and none too quietly either. The Bureau barged in with badges, so this must be Larry, that font of righteous indignation from the Crashdown, eager to prove his story correct at a damnably inconvenient time. Withdrawing to the shadows, Brivari waited impatiently as his competition reached the grate outside the office window, expecting to hear the scrape of metal any moment as tools were applied to break the lock. Instead there was a pause, a flash of light....and then the grating swung backwards with a figure hanging from it.

What the.....?

The figure outside dangled awkwardly from the grate, writhing in an attempt to reach the window. A few seconds later, after a great deal of grunting, it slipped through the window into the office, plopping on the floor with all the stealth of a car crash....and Brivari's eyes widened when he saw who it was.




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


I'll post Chapter 8 on Sunday, September 12, and get us back on our usual Sunday schedule. :)
BRIVARI: "In our language, the root of the word 'Covari' means 'hidden'. I'm always there, Your Highness, even if you don't see me."


Return to “Complete - Canon/Conventional Couples”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests