The Antarian Timetravellers (CC,MATURE) COMPLETE - 12/24/13

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

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maipigen
Enthusiastic Roswellian
Posts: 55
Joined: Sun Feb 28, 2010 1:22 pm
Location: Denmark

Re: The Antarian Timetravellers TEEN/MATURE. CH 20. 6/16/11

Post by maipigen » Wed Oct 26, 2011 4:30 am

jojotheorange:
Timelord31: Thanks for the many comments and bumps;)
cjsl8ne: You took the words right out of my mouth:)
Natalie36: Yep, just hope her anger is written right;)
Roswellian117: We all want a Max for ourselves, don't we:)
mary mary: Yeah, you're right. They seem to forget that they are guilty of the same thing.
AvalonRose: I will say this in regards of the memories. She gets flashes of them, like a transference of sorts, but not a personality change...maybe...lol
nibbles2: : Hopefully this chapter will tell you a little when it comes to Tess. The Jen thing...maybe it'll be an issue, maybe not;)
keepsmiling7: Remember that Tess is innocent in this universe;) I hope the Dreamer bit isn't a total letdown after so long.
Earth2Mama: I love reading your subtle hate for Tess lol. You make valid points so I hope this chapter will explain a little bit at least.
kissme4ever123 : wish granted;)
begonia9508: well time will tell if not killing Nasedo was the rtight move or not;)

Thanks for all the lovely comments!


A/N *steps forward hesitantly* Is anyone even still reading this? After a frantic time with a move across country, illness, finding a new job and writer's block, I finally felt a little bit of inspiration and decided to write at least one chapter before the year ends. I warn you that it might disappoint you a little as it's a bit all over the place, but I've been struggling to finish it for over three months now so it is what it is… Enjoy!


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Last Time on TATT: Nasedo's plan to stop Larry and Jen is thwarted by the trio and Tess. Max teaches him who's in charge and Tess is caught in the crossfire. Max uses all his strength to save her and passes out. They head to Tess' house to recuperate. Kyle calls to warn them that the other humans are on their way and aren't exactly in the best of moods


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CHAPTER TWENTYONE

Liz's POV

Liz stood behind a severely agitated Maria DeLuca, as she hammered on the wooden door to Tess' house with enough power to make the house shake in its foundations. While Maria tended to get more and more vocal in her rage, and Alex was more of a surprising verbal kind of guy, Liz went mute. Her ability to speak was already extremely diminished as she waited impatiently for someone to open the goddamned door before she kicked it in!

Finally, Michael's form appeared in the doorway and Liz didn't even give Maria a chance to lay into her boyfriend before pushing the bigger male roughly out of the way and all but running into the Harding residence in search of her own sort of boyfriend.

" Max?" Liz asked Isabel, who'd just appeared on the staircase. Apparently, the beautiful hybrid seemed to recognize the state of mind that Liz was currently in, because she simply pointed behind her up the stairs.

"He's sleeping right now; he's been through a lot."

"I know that," Liz replied, walking by Isabel as calmly as she could manage, while her entire being itched to be close to its bonded counterpart. "I just don't know what he's been through 'cause neither of you have told us anything!"

Before Isabel could reply or even attempt some unwanted soothing, Liz reached the door where she could feel through the bond that Max was sleeping in a near comatose state. Slowly opening the door, Liz held her breath, fearing what she was about to see.

In the next second, she let out a shocked gasp, and nearly stumbled in her eagerness to get to his bedside. Whatever it was that she's expected, this wasn't it. It was far worse.

It was obvious that he'd been through hell and back since she'd last seen him. His face was an unflattering shade of pale that made him seem as though he'd been deathly ill recently. A bowl of water stood on the nightstand and its reddish color told the always noticing Liz that Isabel had probably been up here cleaning blood off of him. She immediately began searching him for wounds, a part of her still female enough to appreciate the muscled chest that her removing the blanket revealed.

To her immense relief, there didn't' seem to be any injuries, and so, Liz sat down, feeling a bit calmer now. She was unconsciously running her hand over Max's ruffled hair as she mentally reviewed what she'd been through these last few days.

The amount of emotions that had run through her in the past few days alone had left Liz more than a little emotionally drained, making her feel fragile and unsure in a way that she'd never before experienced. The always changing flashes of abrupt pain, anger, hate, guilt and even fear had kept the young brunette up at night, leaving her with an eerie restlessness that not even her usual night sky gazing could suppress or soothe.

"What's been going on with you lately, Max?" Liz asked softly, caressing his soft dark hair gently as though her very touch could be painful to him.

"He saved my life today," Tess' voice suddenly sounded from the doorway and Liz moved her head in the direction of her newest friend so fast, that her neck gave an audible crack of complaint.

"Oh?" Liz's eyes took in the sight of the curly haired blonde in silence. It was obvious that Tess had also been through a lot since they'd last seen each other. The soft skin under her eyes was darkened with exhaustion and her clothes were rumbled and dirty. Nothing like the usual impeccable girl she used to be.

"Shouldn't you be in bed or something?" Liz reluctantly stopped touching Max's still unresponsive face and stood up. "You look beat."

Tess sent her a small smile, "Well; even if I needed to go back to sleep, it's not like I could with that ruckus going on downstairs."

A tell tale crash of something – probably porcelain – sounded in that very moment, alongside with Maria's screeching and both girls shared a knowing look; not even needing to see it to know that their tenacious friend was letting all her frustrations out in the best way she knew how.

"Come, sit," Liz looked around and spotted a small chair by the other end of the room, gesturing for Tess to take a seat. "At least sit down and tell me all about what happened. It doesn't seem like I'll get any answers out of Max just yet, and I already know that the other two won't tell me anything unless he gives his permission. I'm telling you, it's like he's their freaking leader or something; it's very annoying."

Liz pretended not to notice the guilty start in Tess when she said the stuff about Max, apparently she was more right than she realized, but she settled down next to Max's side again and patiently waited for the hybrid girl to start talking.

0o0o0

A little while later, Liz emerged from Max's temporary bedroom and walked downstairs to prevent her best friend from outright killing Michael.

The sight of Isabel standing silently in front of a obviously upset, but still gently scolding Alex and Michael holding up a wooden tray as a shield against whatever new object Maria found to throw at him while she berated him for his thoughtlessness, was enough to almost put a small smile on Liz's lips, but she shook off the temptation and told everyone to just stop talking.

Maria froze with a hand raised, clutching an already broken vase at the hollow tone that even Liz could hear in her own voice.

"Liz, are you okay?" Maria seemed to put aside her animosity towards Michael momentarily and turned to fully face her. "You need anything to drink? How's Max? Did he tell you anything? This one," she nodded with her chin at Michael, who'd hesitantly put down the tray, "won't say anything other than it was an emergency. It's not like that's any decent excuse for scaring us to pieces!"

At the last word, Maria threw the vase again and only Michael's lightning quick reflexes saved him from getting the porcelain right in the face.

"Maria, just stop," Liz muttered, rubbing her chest, feeling a slight burn of emptiness that was peculiar after seemingly so long periods of time filled with changing feelings. "I really can't deal with anything more right now."

"Are you okay, Liz?" Alex asked, turning away from Isabel to look at her with concern in his eyes.

"Yeah; I'm just…" Liz sighed, not finishing her sentence. Instead, she looked over at Maria. "Look, I'm gonna head home for a little while and I'd appreciate a ride. Or, if you'd rather keep throwing things like a toddler in a tantrum, I'll just walk. See you guys later," she added as she turned to leave.

"Liz…" Surprisingly, it was Michael that halted her movement and she looked at him over her shoulder. "We...It's not that we don't want you to know stuff."

"I know," Liz replied, and then decided to be a little evil as she continued on her way out of the door, "but I don't need you to tell me what happened. Tess told me everything."

A tiny part of Liz reveled in the shocked faces of the two teenage aliens, while the rest of her just couldn't muster up anything other than sadness. The past few days had exhausted her emotionally; whatever it was that had transpired before Max and the others went after Nasedo, it had been something extremely disturbing filled with bursts of anguish, anger, regret and even desperation.

She managed to put her pettiness behind her; at least a little bit and just continued walking slowly outside. Before she'd taken too many steps down the road, Liz heard Maria follow her and she stopped walking and waited for her best friend to catch up with her. A minute later, the red Jetta pulled up next to her and the passenger seat opened.

"I'm so gonna need to know everything you know," Maria's voice drifted out to Liz.

"It's not exactly a great story," Liz warned, "in fact; it just might make you even more emotional."

"I don't care; I'm sick and tired of just knowing half of things. And besides, I promised Michael I wouldn't go digging into their mysterious…well, mysteriousness; but you never did, so I really want to know."

"Fine," exclaimed Liz and got into the car. She'd just put on her seat belt when the door to the backseat opened and Alex got inside the vehicle as well. She couldn't quite stop herself from gawking at her other best friend and judging from the quick glance she shot Maria, the other girl was looking equally as dumbstruck.

"Hey, I'm just as curious as you two," Alex muttered, looking earnest. "And I'm not gonna stay out on the sidelines while you two run around snooping. We're a team, right?"

Liz smiled sadly, but she couldn't deny that she felt a little bit gratified and sincerely happy that despite her and her friends' obvious feelings for the otherworldly teens; they were still willing to be the group of best friends they'd always been.

"Yeah, Alex that's right." Liz nodded and then quickly told them all about the debacle with Nasedo that had nearly cost not only Tess her life, but all the others as well apparently.

Michael's POV

"Maria, stop! It's insane. You can't go out there, we've already lost too much today!" Michael's voice was raw with barely repressed emotions; Max's grief filled whimpers still echoed inside of his weary mind even after he'd fallen into a horrifying silence.

Maria's once so vibrant eyes met his and she didn't blink as her hands kept fixing some of the weapons that they'd gotten together over the years. "I don't care. Those bastards killed my best friend, Michael. The last thing I said to her was that she was an idiot for risking her life like that; I didn't…" Maria faltered and wiped away a rare tear that had sneaked down her cheek during her words. "I just have to live with being too scared to help her save Max, but I won't live with those horrid people rejoicing right in front of us. I can't!"

Michael knew he sounded too weak; that his evident lack of belief in their overall victory would do nothing for the few survivors left; but like his wife, he just didn't care anymore. "Please…I can't lose you too. You're the only thing keeping me sane. You mean the world to me."

For a split second, Maria's deadened eyes softened a fraction and Michael almost dared to hope, but then her gaze wandered past him and landed on the form of a badly injured Max, cradling Liz's dead body in his still bleeding arms and he knew he'd lost her.

"I'm sorry Michael; but I promise you can tell me what an ass I am when I get back."

Michael shook his head determinedly, "You're not going out there without back up; without me."

"You're all wounded or too exhausted to be of any use to me," Maria objected, but Michael refused to listen to her logic and stood back up from where he'd fallen once they'd heard Max's roar of disbelief when Liz had passed away so little time ago.

"I'm going and you're not stopping me," he stated instead.

Maria sighed and held out her scarred hand to him, "Fine, but first let me take a look at that gash on your forehead; it's gotta be pretty painful by now."

Michael wasn't expecting what she did next; he'd already begun compiling mental checklists of what to bring out to the field himself, but then he felt Maria's soft chapped lips graze his cheek and heard her whisper, "I love you too much to take you with me. I'll kill a few for you too, Spaceboy," before he was forced into staring at Maria's powerful eyes that immediately sent him into an oblivious darkness…


Michael woke up with a jolt; the memory of the last time he'd seen Maria before her death in the original time line catapulted him into instant alertness. His eyes scanned his surroundings like the professional soldier that he still was on the inside and forced himself to take deep, calming breaths even as the information from his quick assessment filtered through his brain.

It was early yet; the sun had just risen and the unfamiliar setting proved to be Tess' place and once, a few moments later, Michael realized that the only real danger around him was giving himself an ulcer he managed to get himself back together.

"I hate those stupid memories," he grumbled, as he got up from the pullout couch that he'd fallen into with a groan of exhaustion the night before. A realistic part of him knew that these last few days that had been full of adrenaline and fear had more than likely been the catalyst for his dream.

And having Maria mad at me always seems to be the ultimate trigger, Michael thought as he went to take a quick look at Max before grabbing a much needed shower. Max was still sleeping off the bone deep fatigue he'd gotten himself into and Michael decided that that was a good thing, considering how much he'd been through both with Hubble and with Nasedo as well.

Once he'd transformed his dirty clothes with his powers, Michael went in search of something to eat. His stomach was making sounds that clearly stated that it didn't even have to taste good, as long as it was edible, he'd be content.

When Michael reached the kitchen a few moments later, he stopped abruptly at the sight of a still slightly weary looking Tess, who was rummaging through the fridge while humming to herself. A quick look at his surroundings told Michael that she was about to cook some kind of breakfast.

Taking a long breath and preparing himself mentally to lose the last bit of negativity towards the woman he'd hated for over a decade, Michael walked over to the counter next to the fridge and grabbed the box of eggs sitting there.

"What kind of eggs do you like?" he asked brusquely, ignoring the jolt his appearance sent through the female hybrid.

What he couldn't quite ignore was the brief look of suspicion and hope that flashed through Tess' eyes and Michael ran a hand through his hair, feeling guilty and defensive all at the same time. Damn, it's like her innocence pierces through me even more after yesterday. She really wants to be a part of us and Maria and Liz were right; she deserves better…Time to man up, Guerin.

Michael finished his internal pep talk and shrugged when Tess still didn't react. "Look, I'm starving and I make a mean breakfast so…again, how do you want your eggs, Tess?"

"That's the first time you've ever said my name and looked me in the eye at the same time." Tess pointed out quietly, and again, Michael could easily spot how his – and his fellow time travelers – behavior had affected her, but then she surprised him by beaming for one small second.

"But I hope it's not the last. Anyway, I like scrambled eggs with Ta-"

"Tabasco sauce, right?" Michael interrupted with a genuine smile. We aliens really do love our hot sauce.

"Yeah," said Tess, looking happy that he shared her taste, "and I also add this tiny dash of vanilla powder; it really gives it a kick like you wouldn't believe."

"Really?" The thought intrigued the always hungry former cook, who immediately went to work. And simultaneously chatting, if not entirely amiably then at least with a new level of comfortableness that relaxed them both and reminded Michael of a time where Tess had been his teacher and friend; something he'd all but forgotten up until now.

0o0o0

Michael stalled for as long as he could, but eventually he had to go wake up Max for school. They couldn't afford to act out of the ordinary and Max Evans was rarely, if ever, absent from school.

"See, that's why it's fun to be me right now," Michael joked, watching with eyes like a hawk how Max more or less staggered out of Tess' house with a hovering Isabel next to him, ready to lend a hand if need be. "I've always been unpredictable when it comes to my schooling so the teachers will only be concerned if I actually show up too many times in a row."

Max sent him a look that clearly told him to keep his mouth shut and Michael grinned; feeling oddly happy now that the tension of the last few days was finally ebbing away. Max was alive and getting better by the second. Tess wasn't a part of the huge conspiracy with Khivar this time around and Nasedo was gone – hopefully for good.

Excepting Maria's annoyance with him, things were great. Now all we have to worry about are Topolsky, Pierce, the Dupes, the Skins and the healing of our old friends before their illness gets them killed…Michael thought, suddenly feeling his earlier tension return little by little at the thought of just how much they still needed to get through before they could live normal lives.

In the next second, Michael shut those frustrating thoughts out of his mind because Isabel had just pulled into the school's parking lot and Kyle stood by his own car, waiting patiently for them. It was obvious to the trained eye that the once dead man turned teenager was dying to know the details of what had transpired over the last twenty four hours.

Michael grimaced once he noticed the shocked expression Kyle's face gained once his eyes landed on Max, because in his experience, no one, not even Isabel was as big of a mother hen as Kyle Valenti…

And I bet it doesn't help his mood that Tess is pulling into the parking space next to us with a big grin on her face, Michael thought with a soundless, but heartfelt sigh as he tried helping Max out of the Jeep without letting the prouder male know that that was what he was doing.

"Come on, Maxwell; Kyle seems to want to chat. Tess, would you mind trying to see if you can calm Maria and the others down a bit when you go see them? It seems like you're the only one they're not pissed at right now."

The curly haired blonde smiled, visibly happy to be asked to lend a hand. "Sure; I'll do my best, Michael."

Michael watched her leave, momentarily ignoring Max's hoarse whispered question to Isabel of why their loved ones were apparently extremely angry, thinking about how much might have been avoided in the other timeline if only they'd taken a moment to really get to know Tess Harding.

And also, Michael smirked briefly, before turning back to the present and a fast approaching Kyle, whose look of patience had evaporated the second Tess' presence had become an issue, I could've gotten that awesome scrambled eggs recipe a lot earlier. Truly a lot of wasted years there.

Max's POV

"…really need to take something more to eat than that pathetic excuse of a sandwich," Kyle's reproving voice washed over Max as he sat, trying not to let his exhaustion show too much during the lunch break.

Even after sleeping for so long, and so deeply that no dreams or haunting memories even made an appearance for once, Max felt truly drained. Realistically he knew he'd had a real close call this time, but as his eyes trailed over the table in the other end of the quad, where Tess sat smiling with Liz, Maria and Alex, Max didn't regret a thing.

This time around, Tess would be a great ally and after what had transpired between them, Max had no doubt that her loyalty for the Royal Four had cemented itself completely.

Now all we have to worry about is everything else, Max sighed and took a bite of the soggy chicken sandwich in his hands, pleasing Kyle who finally turned away to stare covertly at Isabel, who was gazing longingly over at Alex.

Out of the corner of his eye, Max caught the sight of a familiar flash of blonde, and barely managed to keep in a groan of frustration. I completely forgot about her, he thought, his eyes following Kathleen Topolsky's form as she walked quietly through the quad.

"I gotta take care of that," Max murmured, nodding discreetly in the F.B.I. agent's direction. Kyle, Isabel and Michael all turned to look at him with varying degrees of worry clear on their faces.

"We can wait for a few days," said Isabel. "Tess told me what kind things Nasedo did to her place and office to keep her from running back to Pierce."

"Yeah," Michael took over, almost as if they'd rehearsed the conversation beforehand, "according to Tess, Nasedo had her so freaked out that she doesn't even dare breathe out of order so we can afford to take a brief break; recharge and stuff."

Kyle rolled his eyes, "Oh sure, if Tess says so, it must be true. Why don't we just let things be until she figures out her nemesis is gone and begins to contact her boss so he can come and kill all of you in your sleep."

"You're being a bit overdramatic there, Buddy," Michael said, when it was clear that Max wasn't going to interfere with his point of view. "I know there's history there when it comes to Tess, but you gotta understand that that girl isn't the one we knew. In fact she's-"

Kyle held up a hand, looking extremely annoyed, even a little bit betrayed, "If you say she's a great girl, Guerin, I'm going to have to hurt you."

"Stop," Max ordered when Michael and Isabel took in breaths to continue what would more than likely have turned into a massive discussion that would've drawn the wrong kind of attention to them all.

Max turned his eyes on Kyle, who didn't seem to like the look in his eyes and quickly averted his own down to the table, as if he was a small child being reprimanded by a parent. "I promised Tess we'd include her. She's not the one we all knew and if I can see that, you have to at least try to do the same. We came here to make things better and save a lot of lives, so please try and focus on that instead of events that won't happen here."

Max took a deep breath and then looked over at his fellow hybrids, who were watching him intensely, automatically allowing his words to wash over them like they'd done so many times before when their lives had been at stake, "I'm going to talk to Kathleen and see if she's willing to forgive and forget. We could use someone on the inside of Pierce's people; especially now that Nasedo is in L.A with Cal and won't be infiltrating them as originally planned. We need that Unit closed down and ridiculed so it won't gain any more power. I'll debrief you all later."

And with that, Max slowly got up, unconsciously pulling out some of the strength he'd used when going in to battle in the past, forcing his fatigue away as if it'd never even been an issue. He was vaguely aware that his fellow students were eying him with a mixture of confusion and awe, but he didn't care about any of it and just quickly followed in Kathleen's footsteps until he reached her small office and knocked on her door.

He entered when he heard her giving permission and couldn't keep his surprise completely out of his face once he got the first real look of the agent in days. She looked haunted; there wasn't any better word for it.

I wish Tess could tell me what exactly Nasedo has put Kathleen through while we've been busy, Max pondered, feeling a refueled desire to go after the older alien and force him to spill everything, so he could somehow help the pale looking woman in front of him – and keep her from spilling everything to Pierce when she gets the first opportunity. Max added a little cynically to himself, the realistic part of him not foolish or naïve enough to believe she wouldn't try such a thing if she didn't trust them.

In the next second, Max felt like an idiot, because he suddenly remembered the memories that had been dropped over to him from Nasedo just the day before and tried to pull them to the forefront of his mind to go over them in search of any kind of answers.

Kathleen's emotionless voice brought Max back to the present with a small start. "What can I do for you, Max?"

"Do you want to be free?"

The question startled the blonde woman and she had a short moment where she looked like a fish out of water, but then she got her expression under control and Max deemed it safe to continue.

"I've sent Nasedo away for now. He won't be in charge of you any longer and frankly, the way you've been treated disgusts me. I also know that I can't let you go when you know so much about me and mine."

Kathleen swallowed at his words, soundlessly showing her agreement to his words and Max kept on talking, "I'm not a bad person. None of us are out to conquer the earth and make humanity our slaves. In fact, I'm half human and what I know of my original home isn't something that I'm proud of. I consider myself human and all I want to do is to live a normal life with the people I love. If you tell Pierce about us, he's going to torture us all individually; even our human friends aren't safe from that. When he's done, he's either going to kill us or put us in an underground bunker where scientist can prod us until we grow old and die."

It was clear that the fact that Max spoke so calmly about what was in store for him, was something Kathleen didn't like and she broke eye contact to look down at her folded hands instead.

"I…" she started hesitantly before looking back up with sincerity shining in her eyes, "I'm not a fan of Pierce's methods, Max. I joined his crew because he made it sound like a matter of life and death; survival of the species if you will. I know everything about him and even if I give you my word to never reveal anything I've discovered, I don't doubt for a second that he's going to come at you some other way. He's a dangerous man, Max."

Max smiled and sat down gingerly at the nearest chair; unable to contain his exhaustion anymore. "Yeah, well; so am I…"

"I owe you my life," Kathleen spoke softly, looking genuinely thankful despite her time as a prisoner at Nasedo's hands. "I know that most of what I thought about this entire mission is wrong. But I don't want to betray my country either. The people have a right to know, because if you're here; what's next? Who's next? And also," Kathleen's lip twisted into a rueful smile, "I'm scared he'll kill me if I don't report back to him as soon as I can."

"I understand that," and Max truly did. He would probably have done the same thing if he'd been in her shoes, but still; he had his family to protect so he wasn't going to just let the agent go…but he really didn't want to kill her either. I've had enough of killing for now, Max thought, ignoring the flash of Hubble's unseeing eyes as he lay dead on the ground.

"So where do we go from here?" Kathleen's voice hitched a little bit; her fear of his decision unable to be held entirely at bay.

An unexpected solution suddenly struck Max with a clarity that he hadn't experienced in a while. The memory of the last time he'd gotten the same idea fluttered through his mind and made him smile gently.

"I've never tried this before, but maybe I can make the connection go the other way, so you can see, you know that…that I'm still me."


"I have a suggestion that could prove the answer to everything." Max explained further, when he saw that Kathleen looked relieved rather than suspicious – evidently, he'd managed to get her to trust him even if just a tiny bit. "I have this ability to get inside people's heads and see their memories and the way they're feeling and stuff. It's kind of difficult to explain, but I can sort of compare it to the thing that Spock does in Star Trek."

Kathleen's lips twitched into a real smile at the joke, and nodded for him to continue. "I can turn the connection around so that you can see a part of me; see for real that underneath it all, I'm just an ordinary kid." An ordinary kid who's lived about three times, killed and tortured and travelled through time and space to save everyone he cares about, Max's sardonic inner voice pointed out, but Max ignored it with an ease that came with a lot of practice.

To his immense relief, Kathleen didn't look put off by his idea; in fact she looked interested. "And this will help me in deciding whether or not I will remain loyal to you of my own free will?"

Max nodded.

"And if I still want to go to Pierce, what then?"

Max just stared at her, consciously letting his soldier mask fall into place on his face. Kathleen flinched and Max hurried to say, with as much heartfelt regret as he could manage in just a few words, "I have to protect those I love. And if you want me to, I'll protect you as intensely as them."

"Are you going to kill me, Max?" Kathleen's own professional mask slid into place, and Max's respect for the operative gained a few inches. She really is a very brave woman, he thought sadly.

"Honestly, I don't know," Max answered, deciding to speak the truth. "Tess has this gift to make people believe things that aren't real; make them forget…"

Kathleen paled an unseemly shade of beige, leaving her with an unbecoming green tint and Max allowed the guilt to pierce through his chest. He really didn't like ultimatums; it made him feel like he was a bit too much like Nasedo.

"So…I'd forget my family and everything?"

"You'd be a totally new person." Max replied.

There was a long silence that grew in tension with every soft click of the clock on the wall behind Kathleen. Finally, the F.B.I. agent sighed and rubbed her eyes tiredly.

"Well, I guess it beats being dead, which is what'll happen if Pierce no longer has any use of me and I know I'd already have died if it wasn't for you and your friends…So; this mind meld thing you're talking about, how does that work exactly? Does it hurt?"

Max shook his head and carefully got back to his feet to walk the last few steps over to Kathleen, who was sitting behind her cluttered desk. "No; but I have to touch you and have eye contact for it to work properly though."

Kathleen nodded and gestured for him to come closer; "Fine, for what it's worth, I really hope this gives me a clear idea of what to do."

"Yeah," Max smiled, reaching out and placing his hands on the blonde's cheeks; reminding him again of the first time he'd done this with Liz so very long ago, "me too, Kathleen. Me too."

Liz's POV

It had now been three days since Liz had stormed out of Tess' house; she hadn't spoken to any of the hybrids since then, except for Tess of course.

It was quite funny really that Tess, who'd only lived in Roswell for a short time had already implemented herself as one of Liz's closest friends. Whereas before it had always been Liz, Maria and Alex; Tess was now a full part of their little tight knit group of friends.

But aside from her, Liz had completely avoided the rest of them; even going so far as making her dad change her shift at the Crash so she didn't have to work with Isabel.

She told herself that she wasn't being childish, that she was just giving them all the space for their obvious secrets that they evidently craved so much, but even Liz's internal lies had a hollow tint to them. The truth was she was extremely tempted to go up to Max a few days before when he'd sat with his sister, Michael and Kyle in the quad eating lunch.

He'd still looked ill there was no better word for it and then he'd walked away without even looking at her, something that had sent a spike of annoyance and sadness through her. And today at school, he'd spent most of the time in the guidance counselor's office along with Michael and Isabel, so she hadn't seen him much and what frightened her a little, even though she barely acknowledged the feeling to herself, was the fact that their connection; their bond was almost silent.

Liz hadn't felt anything substantial from his end since before he'd fallen unconscious after saving Tess' life. And Liz was beginning to feel forgotten and she hated that. Especially since she was still maintaining her silence towards the trio of hybrids, so Max really should have come to her now to explain things or at least tell her that he was okay.

Well, enough is enough; Liz thought as she walked up to her room after her after school shift. She quickly showered to get that fried food smell off of her and changed into her favorite pajamas. I want to talk to him about everything before there's too much distance between us…I want him to trust me enough to let me in on all of his secrets.

Liz smiled a little at the thought, that her almost boyfriend's smallest secret was that he was an alien. Some would probably say that was the biggest one to have, but Liz knew differently. When she'd told Maria a little about her theory of the trio's secrets, the short haired blonde had vehemently agreed, saying something about managing to get Michael to confess at least that much.

She'd thought over her options in regards to get Max alone long enough to talk, and had originally decided to try and send true terror through the bond to catch his attention, knowing him well enough by now to know that he'd drop whatever it was he was doing and come running to her supposed rescue.

Since it was a pretty evil thing to do to someone, Liz had quickly pushed the idea away and tried to come up with something less unethical. Finally, just as she'd spotted Isabel come in for her evening shift, Liz realized that she needed to go simple with this and stop overcomplicating things so much and just go seek him out at home.

Liz finished brushing her hair and sat on the edge of her bed, trying to figure out when would be the best time to visit Max. She glanced at her watch, feeling too restless to do much of anything. In the end, Liz pulled out a clean pair of jeans and a sweater from her dresser, changed back out of her pajamas and wrote a quick note about going for a walk so that her mom wouldn't worry if she poked her head in to check on her later in the evening and found her missing.

A few minutes later, Liz had scaled down the fire escape from her terrace with a practiced ease and was making her way to Max's house to clear the air for once and for all.

About twenty minutes later, Liz reached her destination, rang the doorbell and hit her first roadblock. What do I say if his parents open the door? It's too late for a study session and it'll be too lame an excuse to say I forgot to give him some notes when I'll see him tomorrow in school anyway…

Liz was so absorbed in her worrying that she barely noticed the door being opened and it was only the jolt of pure surprise that flashed through her bond that told her that it was indeed Max who'd opened the door.

"Max! Hi!" Cringing in embarrassment at her loud greeting, Liz looked down at the ground.

"Liz…" the confused surprise in Max's tone was obvious, "what's wrong? Did something happen? Is someone hurt?"

Liz quickly looked up at the sound of growing fear in Max's voice and stepped closer, holding out a hand to pacify him from panicking. "No, nothing's wrong. Don't jump to conclusions, okay Max. I wouldn't show up without calling you if something like that had happened, I promise."

"Oh." Rarely speaking Max seemed to be making a rapid comeback and Liz refrained from rolling her eyes and just sent him a glowing smile that she didn't have to see to know looked fake.

"Anyway, I was out walking and wanted to know if you'd come walk with me? We could talk or something…"

Max was going to refuse; Liz just knew it and was preparing some kind of Plan B, when Max's mother suddenly appeared behind him, smiling widely at her. "He'd just love to; isn't that right, Max?"

Before long, Max was standing next to Liz out on the doorstep, looking a little bit baffled as to exactly how that had happened, while Liz was just happy that most mothers turned into wanna be matchmakers once their kids reached a certain age.

They started walking down the quiet street; the night's darkness only broken by a few lampposts every few feet. Liz kept running through ways to start the conversation, but fell short every time she looked up at Max's blank face.

Finally, Liz had had enough and increased her speed enough to get a little ahead of Max and turned around, stopping him abruptly in his tracks. "Look we need to talk, Max."

"Okay."

"I mean, I know you're probably gonna be against it and- wait, what?" Liz frowned in confusion, it seemed a little too easy to her.

Max shrugged and gestured over at a nearby bench so they could sit down and be comfortable. Once seated next to each other, he straightened up and looked Liz right in the eye. "I owe you an apology."

He continued before Liz could even fully comprehend what he was saying, "I know that I didn't do the best job in making sure that you didn't feel what was going on this last week and I'm sorry if I scared you. We all are."

"I know, but…" Liz trailed off, staring at a piece of gum stuck on the barely visible pavement, not really knowing how to continue now that she'd gotten so far. Max's warm fingers took a gentle hold of her chin and lifted it upwards so he could look her in the eyes.

"I get that you hate that you don't know everything, but please just trust me on this; it would ruin everything if I told you. I want you to enjoy your life and be happy."

What can be so horrible that you don't want to share it with me, Max? Liz wondered silently suddenly desperate for that eerie look in his dark brown eyes to disappear.

"How can I be happy, knowing that you're not?" The soft spoken question escaped her lips without her consent, but once it was out, Liz couldn't make herself take it back. Instead, she just observed every little miniscule movement around Max's eyes that told her clearly that he hadn't expected her to say something like that.

After a beat of concentrated silence, Max closed his eyes for a second and Liz worried that she'd upset him, but then he reopened his eyes and the fire that burned in them roared right through Liz's entire being, scorching her and warming her in places she hadn't even known to be cold.

"Oh Liz," Max's voice was like liquid velvet and his hand on her chin moved to her cheek, caressing the shell of her lower ear in the process. "But I am happy, don't you see that? Every morning I wake up and feel you through the bond, I smile with true bliss. And knowing I'm here with you right now, secrets be damned, that's all I need. I love you more than anything in the world."

Max froze as soon as the declaration left his mouth and Liz felt a quick stab of adrenaline fueled fear rush through their connection before it was squashed ruthlessly from his end. Obviously he didn't mean to say it, Liz realized somberly, even as small dabs of giddiness ran through her.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to…" Max removed his hand and now he was the one to look away, staring just as entranced at the same piece of gum that Liz had found so fascinating only moments earlier.

All of a sudden it seemed as though all of Liz's previous thoughts and feelings towards Max's secrets didn't matter anymore; all she wanted was to get him to look at her again. Liz acted before her rational self could charge in and overpower her senses, placing her hands on Max's cheeks and turning his head toward her.

"Liz, what-?" Max sounded so adorably bewildered that Liz nearly laughed, but instead, she just leaned forward and pressed her lips to his in a gentle and caring kiss that was very different from the fiery one they'd shared in the cave when they'd reopened their bond.

Liz only allowed herself a brief, chaste kiss before pulling back to stare deeply into Max's widened eyes. Before he could regain his control of the situation, Liz shook his head carefully and said the words she'd longed to say for quite some time.

"I love you too."

The smile that broke out on Max's usually so emotionless face was almost painfully beautiful in Liz's opinion. His eyes lit up with the same fire from before, but this time it was like an eruption from a volcano. His almost childlike joy and overpowering love flowed unchecked into Liz from his side of the bond, bathing her in warmth from the inside out.

It was as if something had been missing and only now found again and Liz couldn't stop herself from matching his emotions with her own.

"Say it again," Max's voice sounded almost begging in his request and Liz couldn't deny him even if she wanted to and she really didn't want to.

"I love you, Max Evans. I love you." Liz didn't get a chance to say anything else, because before she could take another breath, Max had slanted his lips over hers in a breathtaking kiss that very nearly erased every thought from her mind.

As long as we love each other, we'll get through whatever it is that's hurting him so much, Liz thought dazedly and twined her fingers into Max's thick dark hair and when he returned the gesture, wrapping his muscled arms fully around her, Liz didn't think about anything else for a long time. She just hoped that everyone was feeling as wonderful as she was at that point in time.

Kathleen's POV:

"So, Agent Topolsky," the voice was saccharine sweet and full of an underlying coldness that had sent braver people than her running for their lives, "let's see if I got this right, shall we?"

The tall, dark shadow came a little bit closer to the strapped down form of Kathleen, who didn't have to see the man speaking to recognize him as Special Agent Pierce.

"You want me to believe that your disappearing act from your mission was due to the fact that the kids discovered your identity? And then they just let you go? They're vile animals so I sincerely doubt that they have any capacity for mercy."

They have more than you, Kathleen thought exhaustedly, wisely remaining silent. The throbbing pain from the 'session' she'd just endured was enough to keep her on her toes. It would be extremely stupid if she was killed now that she'd gotten so far.

Special Agent Pierce's voice sounded again, bringing the aching blonde back to the present with a bit of difficulty, "I want you to tell me everything."

"I can't tell you anything else than that. They let me go," Kathleen rasped out with a struggle when it became clear that he expected some kind of verbal response.

Suddenly, Pierce's face was right in front of hers, and Kathleen would've flinched backwards if she hadn't been unable to move. The smile on his admittedly handsome face scared Kathleen more than the real torture she knew she was still in for did.

"We'll see about that," his voice still full of fake sweetness, "I will break you and if you can be used after that I will build you back up. You have let me down, Agent Topolsky and I don't like being disappointed. Trust me on this; I will know everything you do before I decide what to do with you."

Kathleen swallowed harshly, her fear sending shivers down her spine. The memory of Max's reassuring voice the last time they'd spoken went through her mind and she focused on that instead of the team of lab coat wearing people that began filtering back in to the small white room she was being kept in.

"Once the pain starts, Kathleen; close your eyes and think of what you're fighting for; it may not be a perfect cure, but it will help you. I swear to you that when the time is right, I'll let you help me kill Pierce. You deserve that."

Kathleen's lip turned up into a macabre parody of a smile and she locked eyes with the nearest torturer. He paled and turned to Pierce, who looked down at Kathleen with a small hint of admiration, not knowing his latest victim was fantasying about the way she would end his miserable life.

Let's hope your plan works, Max, Kathleen managed to think as the first piercing slash appeared on her pale skin and she broke into a hoarse scream.

TBC…


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maipigen
Enthusiastic Roswellian
Posts: 55
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Re: The Antarian Timetravellers TEEN/MATURE. CH 21. 10/26/11

Post by maipigen » Wed Dec 21, 2011 10:04 am

Thanks for the lovely comments!
begonia9508: Thanks for the praise:D
Earth2Mama: The inspiration was halted a bit by technical issues, but I'm baaack:D
keepsmiling7: Happy the Dreamer part was okay...you just don't want to like Tess do ya hehe.
Timelord31: And then after such sweet comments, I end up going so long again without updating; sorry!
AvalonRose: For once, Max and Liz have peace between them - you know what that means right? Someone else's got to suffer now *giggles evilly*
emerald123: So happy you're still with me:D And then I made you wait so long again; sorry about that:D
kissme4ever123: Thank you:D
jojotheorange: Tess is slowly coming to terms with things and she's got something else to worry about in the upcoming chapters:)
BB: happy the egg thing was well liked:D As for kathleen; you're gonna see a lot more of what she's been going through since last chapter...poor Kathleen. And as for Liz; she's a lot more passive aggressive than might come across...well, you'll see after this chapter anyhow.
Mt. Gazer: Totally forgiven for the shortish comment, simply put; I'm way behind on your wonderful story as well so it all adds up. Btw, voted for you a few times:D
zaneri1: Welcome back and sorry about the wait!
Janetfl: SORRY! Posting on RH tomorrow- or later depending on my schedule, I swear!
Carrie: I've missed you! Glad you're not so swamped with disasters these days! And again, your comments always makes me both a) very thrilled and proud while blushing and b) very sure that you must be commenting on the wrong story with all that shameless praise of yours:D



A/N YES, I managed one more chapter before the end of the year, go me! This chapter is full of set ups, moving the plot along (finally), so the next few chapters will be a bit more action filled than this one. Do be warned though, that the last POV will be a bit gory...just a dash. Anyway, I hope you'll all enjoy this despite the shortness!


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Last Time on TATT: The humans show their lack of appreciation of being more or less ignored while the hybrids go through a lot of stuff with Nasedo. Michael begins to realize that Tess isn't as bad and gets some cooking tips from her that he never knew he couldn't live without, Kyle doesn't understand the beginning acceptance of Tess from the other Timetravellers. Liz confronts Max, who ends up declaring his love for her. Topolsky makes a choice after Max shows her a thing or two…

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CHAPTER TWENTYTWO

Kyle's POV

It was the middle of the day and Kyle was sitting in the middle of the quad alone for once; having sought out some much needed solitude by waiting until Max and the others had left.

The sun was warming him up, ailing him with its gentle warmth.

Kyle exhaled deeply as the bell rang and took away the rare moment of serenity he'd managed to achieve.

"Well," he muttered as he threw away the trash from his barely eaten lunch and got to his feet, "at least I managed to sleep a full eight hours tonight so that's a good thing."

Ever since that night in Frazier Woods where he'd woken up, been born or travelled through time and space or whatever it was, Kyle had discovered one crucial thing; his younger body and mind hadn't been able to handle the sudden onslaught of excruciating memories and he'd woken up screaming more times already than he'd done while actually living through the time itself.

And after barely two months, it was starting to affect him physically as well. Kyle rarely looked in a mirror anymore; the bags under his eyes weren't a good look on him, something he knew very well from experience. He'd begun losing some of the meat on his bones - opting instead to spend the worst nights exercising to an almost brutal degree alongside a stone-faced Max, who never pushed him to talk and just shared his silent strength with him.

Kyle was still crashing at Max' house and the added tension that was the strained relationship he now shared with the father he'd all but idolized in his old life, wasn't helping him sleep.

And then there's the whole suddenly accepting Tess thing, Kyle thought as he walked towards class and spotted the curly-haired hybrid chatting amiably with Liz, Maria and Alex. I know she's innocent here, but I just can't be myself around her... At least not yet, he amended, trying to convince himself that eventually it would happen.

Another now familiar sight brought Kyle back to the present and he smiled sadly, allowing himself to let his feelings show since he was sure no one was watching him.

As he watched, Isabel walked up to Alex and practically beamed at him, looking more beautiful than Kyle had ever seen.

Memories of a certain day pressed his boundaries, trying to escape from the part of his brain where he usually kept it all locked iron-tight.

Naked skin, sweat covered bodies, warmth and ferocity all mixed into one in rejoicing that they weren't dead like so many others. A weeping Isabel, sorrow and fresh guilt aging her prematurely, a repeated litany of "I'm sorry, Kyle - please don't shut me out" echoed through his mind and Kyle was actually relieved when he accidentally bumped into one of his former friends, Johnny.

"Whoa, Weirdo," Johnny sneered looking down his nose at him, "just 'cause we used to hang doesn't mean you can come anywhere near me. Besides aren't you like all gay for Evans these days?"

Kyle never felt his added maturity more than in these kinds of situations, but in order to blend in he swallowed an annoyed sigh and acted like he was gravely insulted.

Besides, Kyle reasoned as things quickly escalated and Johnny pushed him into the nearby lockers with a bang, this way I'll blow off some steam.

Sadly, the fight didn't last long enough to quell the restlessness growing inside of him, because only a few moments later, Michael and Max appeared out of nowhere and pulled Johnny away from him.

"Kyle! What the hell?" Michael asked, turning the slightly smaller human around to face him. "Are you out of your mind?"

"No," panted Kyle, wiping the sweat off his forehead, trying to infuse himself with his earlier serenity, "I'm known for being a popular jock that hung out with Johnny and the others, but I guess I forgot the teenage pecking order. I couldn't back down without escalating things even more, so if you got a problem then bite me!"

Kyle ripped his arm out of Michael's grip and turned to leave, but froze when his eyes locked with Isabel's from across the now deathly quiet quad.

For a second, her beautiful eyes shone with the same hint of memories that he'd just unwillingly lived through and he didn't quite know if he wanted her to come over to him to finally clear the air or just leave him the hell alone.

Then Alex gently placed a hand on Isabel's shoulder and she turned to answer his soft spoken question.

If she turned back to look at him, Kyle didn't know, because as soon as her eyes left his, he had disappeared inside the school.

0o0o0

Later that day, after dodging his friends and even a call to the principal's office, Kyle was unable to avoid a confrontation any longer.

It was Michael, who eventually took his arm and began pulling him out to the parking lot, where Max and Isabel were waiting.

Seeing Isabel in the distance recharged Kyle's anger and abruptly, he tore his arm out of Michael's grip, "let me go, Man," he all but hissed and took a few steps backwards. "I'm gonna walk today."

"Dude," Michael wasn't deterred in the least; a trait Kyle normally found very respectable, but today it was just plain annoying. "What's up with you today? You're acting like a younger version of me and it's not that attractive. You don't have that Guerin charm to pull it off."

"Stop being an idiot," Kyle growled, not in the least bit amused, "I'm having a shitty day and I don't want you Pod Squads to put your noses into it, all right!"

Michael frowned and straightened up, subconsciously letting his General persona bleed over in his younger body; obviously he too was no longer amused. "Kyle, you're a close friend so I won't kick your ass, but get over yourself for a minute. We all have bad days."

"Yeah," Kyle retorted, refusing to let his guilt keep him from speaking his mind, "but you've got someone to share it with. Maria is your other half and you got her back. Max got Liz and Isabel's got...well..."

Michael's face suddenly dawned with understanding and Kyle almost hated him for the flash of pity he sported before he regained control of his facial features.

"Not one word," Kyle warned, holding up a hand.

"She was never-" Michael started but then stopped at the look he received for his troubles. Michael was after all, the only one who'd ever known the whole truth.

"I'm handling it," Kyle said, after a beat of uncomfortable silence, "I guess it just hit me a little harder today than normally. I just don't want to talk about it, it drives me insane..."

Michael sighed and just ran a hand through his already ruffled hair. "I'm just worried about you, Valenti. It's not healthy carrying it all inside like you've been doing."

"Yeah well," Kyle shrugged and turned to leave, "I'm managing and besides, I had my shot to be with her and she didn't want me; hell, I even died for her so…Anyway, I'm gonna take off, gotta blow off some steam before I wind up doing something we'll all regret."

"Kyle," Michael held out a hand to halt his leaving and Kyle looked at him tiredly. "You didn't see her after you," the hybrid quickly checked his surroundings for any possible listeners before proceeding quietly, "died. I mean, she was a complete mess and one of the reasons that she was on board with this whole granolith time jumping scheme, was because of you."

Kyle smiled and he couldn't help but look over Michael's shoulder at the woman they were talking about, before he met Michael's eyes again with a sigh. "That may be so, but I'm not the main reason, am I?"

Michael didn't respond to that, like Kyle knew he wouldn't and at long last he managed to get away from his friend. Only to stop a few minutes later, when he'd grabbed his bag in his locker as he realized that unlike everyone else, he really didn't have a place to go right now. If I go to Max's house, I'll run into Isabel and I can't face her right now without making things worse for the both of us, Kyle thought, scratching his stomach as it itched, until an idea struck him.

I can go work out for a bit and then crash at Michael's later, Kyle decided, remembering that Michael's emancipation from Hank had finally been finalized and he'd moved into his "new" apartment just one week earlier, and made his way to the small gym that Roswell High had.

Fortunately for Kyle's peace of mind, it was empty for once, so he didn't have to worry about anyone wondering just what had happened to the school's wrestling champion in regards to his changed muscle mass and form.

How long Kyle spent in that room he didn't know, but when his knees were shaking and the sweat pouring off of him reminded him that he needed some form of liquid so he didn't crash and burn, he slowly stopped and walked towards the soda machine that he vaguely remembered being a big part of his first time as a carefree teen.

Kyle was so deeply focused on just getting something to drink and not think about anything else that he reached the coveted machine, only to realize that he didn't have any cash. Why didn't my powers travel with me to this place? He wondered sourly, slamming his sweaty hand on the glass, half considering just tipping the whole damn thing over and be done with it.

Then, Tess' voice startled him right back to reality and Kyle froze. "I can help you, if you'd like?"

Kyle slowly turned his head, a mantra of 'she's not evil, she's not evil', running through his mind as he forced out some semi-polite refusal.

Tess' disappointment was poignant and Kyle actually felt like it was pouring through him and he barely managed to avoid rolling his eyes at himself; he'd left his empathic ways and Buddhism behind even before he'd gotten himself killed to save Isabel and Max.

"You know, Kyle," Tess' eyes forced him to meet hers in that unique way of hers that he'd all but forgotten, "I know that I did a horrible thing to you and I'm sorry."

Kyle's insides froze for a second with pure fear; does she know what she made me do back then? Has she returned as well? But then Tess continued softly and Kyle's worries were put to rest for the moment.

"Wiping your memories of that day in the computer lab with your friend was a rash decision, but at the time, I truly believed that you couldn't handle the truth about us. And now, I know that I was wrong and I really would like for you to give me another chance; I mean, we were sort of becoming friends and I'd like that to be the case again."

We were more than friends; we were family, the thought filtered through Kyle's conflicted mind, but even as the words echoed inside him, something didn't feel right about that statement anymore and he frowned, quickly pushing the confusion feelings aside to concentrate on the present.

"I'm a guy who can carry a grudge and…" Kyle swallowed through the part of him that still didn't want to see past Tess' old self and continued with an inwardly grimace, "…Look, I'm stubborn and anyone can tell you this about me- Anyway, my point is that I need to stew a little but then we'll probably be okay again."

"Don't." Tess' eyes narrowed and Kyle almost wanted to take a step back at the heat in her gaze. "I'm not stupid; I've been putting up with a lot of weird treatment from Max and the others until they finally seemed to realize that we're supposed to be friends; a family. I'd like you to take a note out of their book and forgive me and let me back in. I don't need your half-hearted stalling and promises, Kyle; I just need my friend back. And when that happens, I might even get you to stop feeling so hurt and bitter about Isabel being in love with Alex all the time."

"How did you-?" Kyle began, but was interrupted quickly by Tess' tinkling laughter before she answered him with her head tilted to the side, almost as if she was inspecting him for something.

"Please, you're very easy to read once one knows what to look for, Kyle and for some reason I do. So here's a little piece of advice whether you want it or not; I'm a good person and I like you and I like Isabel, but you two clearly aren't meant to be and you need to get over that and enjoy your life instead of making everyone miserable. I mean, aren't you the happy go lucky guy that welcomed the new girl and made her welcome when almost everyone else were too busy gossiping about her? Also, I know what it's like falling for a guy who's most definitely in love with another girl; and if I can get over it, so can you."

And with that, Tess left and Kyle honestly didn't know what to think or feel anymore. It's like she's taken all my thoughts and cut right through them to the core, he pondered as he began to walk out of the school's grounds. She's right; I need to stop obsessing over things that can't be changed. She reminds me of the Tess that lived with me for so long and knew me better than anyone. The one who didn't sleep with Max and ruin everything with her obsession to become Max's mate; the one that I loved…before she turned into the sister I never had, Kyle quickly amended, scratching his itchy stomach and chest, somehow feeling both tired and excited and thoughtful all at the same time.

Michael's POV

Michael ran a hand through his hair and groaned as his muscles protested the movement. I guess sitting cooped up in the same position for so long can do that to even the best of us, he thought and briefly debated asking a very focused looking Max at his side to help him out a bit, but decided against it when he noticed that his friend was looking so intently at his screen that he might end up blowing up all the lights in the room if he was startled out of his zone.

"Not to sound weird or anything," Kyle's whispered voice reached him and Michael turned his head a fraction to look at the human, "but I'll rub your neck if you rub mine, Dude."

The smile on the sheriff's son was genuine and he no longer looked like he had a severe wish to lash out at everybody and Michael couldn't help but respond with a smile of his own, politely declining the offer with the one fingered salute.

I wonder what got through to him, Michael wondered, eying his friend through the corner of his eye as his fingers nimbly typed away busy with his own self-appointed assignment, when I talked to him yesterday, he still acted like everyone was against him. But I'm glad he's somewhat back to himself though.

Kyle had burst through Michael's door the day before, several hours after school, looking haggard and tired, but he hadn't worn his almost signature look of bitterness and subtle antagonism anymore. It was like he'd been through a mood changing machine and so, when Michael had raised a brow and told him to go get something to eat and Kyle hadn't given him the one fingered salute in response, he figured things were finally getting back to normal.

And I'm not rocking that boat by asking him what made him chill out, Michael thought and turned to look at the screen that Max was busy typing away at.

"Found anything yet?"

Max nodded distractedly and continued typing ferociously; Michael straightened up with eagerness overtaking his fatigue instantly. It would be their first real lead on that issue if they succeeded and they really needed to tie up this loose end before it came to bite them in the ass like the last time.

Michael and Kyle waited with baited breath for a few agonizing minutes, before Michael's patience couldn't take it anymore and he snapped, "Maxwell, care to share with the class?"

Max stopped his fervent typing and looked at Michael. "I followed their last known foster homes and went from there; Isabel dream walked me last night to see if she could get some of my memories to the forefront of my mind so I'd remember better and I finally got something and I think I know where they are right now. What about you guys?"

Michael leaned back and let Kyle take over, silently happy that they'd gotten somewhere too, "We've found the town again and after a bit of digging it's obvious that they're already settled in and preparing the harvest just like last time. Maybe we'll catch them unaware this time around. Michael and I were thinking we'd sit down tonight and figure out the best way to go about destroying those damn husks again, so you and Iz might be needed for some basic grunt work."

Nodding in agreement, Michael added, "I've found Courtney's last known address and thought we should look her up before she comes to town. Or," Michael shrugged, "I mean, it's not even sure she's coming to Roswell this time 'cause we haven't really done anything and the signal that got sent out last time by the Pods haven't been sent this time and…well, I'm just not keen on getting her killed this time around if it can be avoided."

Max nodded solemnly, he clearly recalled how much help the Skin had been to them, despite her almost religious beliefs that Michael was the true leader.

I hope she's gonna see past that this time, Michael barely repressed a shudder at the memory of the times he'd been forced to take responsibility in Max's absence – the last time had all but killed him too in the original timeline during Max's captivity. I'm definitely a General, but I'm not the King.

"Well Guys," Kyle broke the tense silence, looking entirely too happy after having spent so much time looking bitter and sullen, "you know what this means, don't you?"

Michael and Max shared a bemused glance when Kyle continued with a grin, "Roadtrip this weekend! We just gotta decide where to go first though."

0o0o0

Going to New York in peacetime isn't at all like I've envisioned, Michael thought, looking around the passing buildings on their way out of Roswell very early the next Saturday morning.

Michael glanced to his side where a blank faced Kyle sat next to none other than Tess. The tension is so thick in here I could cut through it with a knife…Maria's face flooded through his mind and Michael sighed and leaned back in his seat, she'd know how to get us all loosened up; probably force Max to change the radio channel a hundred times and singing along to every song for ten seconds before humming some of her own songs instead in the end.

The memory of one of the very times such a thing had happened entered his mind, and Michael couldn't stop a small smile of genuine happiness slip over his face. Maybe this time it'll happen when we're on our honeymoon or something; or when we're taking a holiday or- whoa, stop it, Michael's more rational part interrupted his fantasies; she's barely seventeen years old and you're already planning your lives together. Do you want her to run away from you screaming? And have you forgotten that she's pretty rightfully pissed at you at this point in time?

Michael shook the thoughts of any possible marriage with his favorite blonde out of his head and decided to observe the other occupants in the Jeep as a decent tool of distraction from that last bit. Max was driving, silent and efficient as always; his every movement showed that he'd forgotten to act like a teenager for the time being, because he sat ramrod straight, scanning their surroundings rapidly as though scouting for any possible attacks.

Can't say that I blame him, Michael mused with an internal shrug, I'd probably be doing the same thing if I was the one behind the wheels. They'd lost too many friends to surprise attacks in the war and such a thing was never easy to shake off.

Screams for help that couldn't come in time, blood and guts all over his clothes and face marking him as one of the few survivors still standing- No, don't think about that, Michael valiantly forced the memory of that hideous day out of his mind and looked over at the former wife that he now considered a sister.

Isabel was sitting next to Max, supposedly reading a girly magazine, but her attention didn't seem to be on the shining pages at all since she'd been on the same page for the last ten minutes or so. Michael caught her looking discreetly at a slightly uncomfortable looking Kyle every now and again, but he chose not to comment on it.

And then there's Tess, Michael thought, glancing over at the fourth hybrid, still a bit surprised that she'd managed to gather an invite to the Big City as it were. Or invite might be pushing it, Michael thought with an internal smirk.

It had sort of happened by accident; Kyle had left to gather supplies for their trip once they'd finally decided where to go first and had then given Max and Michael the task of getting Isabel on board, since they'd need her for the trip as well to present an united front.

Michael had only been a slightly amused witness as he watched the curly haired hybrid somehow wrangle out information about their trip from Max, citing something about the fact that they'd all promised to include her and shortly after that, Tess had grabbed Isabel's wrist and dragged her away so they could pack, completely ignoring the protests that both Max and Isabel were giving.

It had been fun to watch, Michael reminisced with a small smile playing on his lips; and then she had to go and tell Maria and Liz about the trip as well and that's when things turned less fun and a lot more complicated.

Maria had been in her ace once she tracked him down later that very day; finally deeming him worthy of her presence again after the whole fiasco at Tess' house where she'd all but broken his nose with all of the flying porcelain, and had pulled him over into an unused classroom to ask why in the world, she and Liz weren't coming along as well.

Michael had blinked, thinking fast as to what kind of excuse would appeal the most to his (hopefully) future wife. But then, Maria had simply rolled her eyes and slapped his chest.

"Don't even bother, Spaceboy," the nickname caused a pleasant tingle in Michael's stomach that he tried not sending back through their connection to keep at least a little of his pride, "Tess told me all about you four gallivanting off to The Big Apple to confront some kind of mechanically engineered look a likes that some old book or something says are bound to be evil. I totally respect that and I even support that you need to go deal with that; I mean, one Michael Guerin is bad enough, I doubt I could handle another one."

Maria had smiled ruefully, but then her eyes had turned dark with some other emotion and Michael had known that she was far from as calm and collected as she seemed, "what I just don't understand however, is that apparently Kyle Valenti has gotten an invite. Kyle Freaking Valenti, Michael! He's the kid that used to pull down my pants in elementary school and laugh at me for wearing pink undies; the guy who's never acted like a decent human being unless it was to impress Liz! I just don't get why you all trust him and not us."

Maria had trailed off softly, looking away to hide her obvious displeasure and in that moment, Michael had finally realized that she was truly hurt that he and the others seemingly didn't trust her and Liz and Alex enough to let them come with them.

"It's not that we don't trust you," Michael had begun, itching to reach out and cup Maria's soft cheek in reassurance, "but this whole thing with Kyle is one of the things that I just can't talk about. I'm sorry and-"

"Don't even bother, Guerin," Maria had taken a step back, her face slipping into a cold mask that brought back haunting memories inside of Michael that he fought to push away immediately. "I guess we're just not that close after all. Have a nice trip."

Before the tall time traveler could manage much more than gawk in shock, Maria had vanished from his sight and the way all emotions suddenly seemed to dim down, told Michael that Liz had taught her a thing or two about maintaining privacy through the bond.

"Fuck," Michael had cursed and slammed his right hand straight through the nearest wall; unconsciously sending a pulse of his raw anger through his fingers and instantly demolishing the plaster.

A minute later, he'd vacated the classroom, a freshly fixed drywall behind him and a severely bleeding hand, which didn't hurt nearly as much as the disappointed glance Maria had sent him before she'd left.

"Michael," Tess' voice interrupted his reminiscing and Michael jolted back to the present, locking eyes with the blonde.

"What?" He immediately felt bad for snapping at her, but she seemed willing to ignore his bluntness and just nodded with her chin towards the window.

"Everyone's taking a bathroom break and a little pit stop for some fresh air; and since you've done nothing but stare miserably out the window for the last few hours, I figured you needed a break too." She sounded so genuine, which only made Michael feel even worse, until she added with a smirk so much like his own, "don't worry about it, Michael. Make it up to me by buying me some marshmallows and some Tabasco sauce and it's all in the past."

"That's a deal Harding," Michael grinned and a few minutes later, the two hybrids were enjoying themselves immensely by grabbing as many Snapples that they could safely carry; something that Tess enjoyed almost as much as Michael did and when they all returned to the jeep ten minutes later, Michael finally managed to push his feelings about his spat with Maria to the back of his mind for the time being.

Besides, he thought, stealing one of the Snapples that Tess had claimed for herself, I can't be distracted about that right now; I need all my attention on those bastards and not on anything else.

Liz's POV


"I'm telling you there's something going on that's potentially dangerous to everyone, but are we in the know? No we're not and it's bugging the hell out of me," Maria's voice rang through the phone line into a very tired Liz's ear.

In her defense, it was about the fifteenth time that day that she was listening to the same thing. Maria had a tendency to repeat herself when she was really angry.

"I know Maria; you're right, it does suck," Liz parroted the things she knew from vast experience that her best friend needed to hear and true to previous form, Maria quickly launched back into a heated diatribe about how everyone and most specifically Michael was at fault for all that was wrong with the world and Liz allowed her own thoughts to wander a bit.

I don't think they're doing this to deliberately hurt us, she thought, slowly getting up to stretch her legs, Max seemed as apologetic as Maria said Michael did when he told me and, Liz continued, biting her lip in worry as a memory from the other day passed through her open eyes, Michael did truly seem like he was more than sorry.

Liz had been speeding to her locker to grab the one book she'd forgotten for class and gotten a special hall pass to go get when she'd spotted Michael exiting one of the rarely used classrooms. The sight had momentarily blown every thought out of her head and she'd just stared in horror at the image in front of her.

Michael had walked slowly out of the classroom, looking briefly to either side before walking away, his right hand hanging limply down his side even as long trails of crimson blood traveled down his skin and left a ugly trail after him.

Liz had immediately spun around and run back to her AP English class that she shared with Max, bursting in with a distracted apology on her lips for her irritated teacher even as she bent down and told Max that Michael was injured. He'd left the classroom faster than should've been possible with nary an excuse for the now very befuddled educator standing forgotten by the blackboard.

The look that came over him the moment I told him about Michael is something I'll never forget and I really hope I'll never see it again, Liz thought with a shudder, releasing her now throbbing bottom lip from her teeth with a soft pop.

Liz had been tempted more than once to tell Maria what she'd seen, but in the end had decided against it to keep some semblance of calm in Maria's day.

"LIZ!" Maria's bellowing voice hurt Liz's unexpecting ear and she yelped and dropped the phone to rub her abused ear softly. She bent down and picked up the phone after a few soothing rubs.

"Maria!"

"You weren't even listening!" Maria accused in the other end, making Liz roll her eyes a little before she could control herself. "Don't roll your eyes at me, Parker!"

Guiltily, Liz stopped and sat down at her desk, not for the first time taken aback by her friend's seemingly psychic abilities. "Look, I'm sorry, Maria; but I can't really say anything that I haven't already pointed out. Why don't you just come over and watch some movies with me; I'll even call Alex and see if he's interested too?"

Maria hesitated, but declined with a dramatic huff before she sighed heavily and added quietly, "Aren't you sick of their secrets by now? I mean, I've promised not to snoop and I won't, but I truly feel like they think we're untrustworthy and besides changing his puppy dog look from you to Isabel, what's Kyle done to deserve their trust?"

"I don't know," Liz replied, glancing over at her poster of the solar system next to her closet. "But I think we just need to be patient and then they'll tell us everything soon enough."

"You're very annoying," Maria pointed out, "you sound so damn grown up all of the sudden; just because you and Max are all over each other lately…I just really feel like we're meant to be in the loop too, you know."

Knowing that saying anything else would probably just add fuel to the fire, Liz simply chuckled and before long the conversation ended with a Maria who said something about asking her mom to take her to her favorite fortuneteller to figure things out for her.

The silence after Maria hung up was almost choking Liz for some reason and she grabbed a pencil from her jug of writing utensils on her desk and took one of her post-it's and started writing; Going to New York abruptly – Tess hinted that it was to fight of some kind of clones.

Liz stared at the words for a long time, before her eyes narrowed and then, slowly, almost as though she was in a trance, she crossed out the word, 'clones' and wrote, 'Dupes', instead before getting up and going outside to the hiding place where she kept her journal and put in yet another note about her boyfriend's mysterious behavior.

Someday I will know everything, Liz thought resolutely, hiding the bulging journal in the slot before putting the brick back with an ease that came from a lot of practice. Max's flashes to me during our first few kisses told me that there's still a lot I need to know, but unlike Maria I'm done trying to ask them for answers; I'll find them all myself eventually.

A few seconds later, Liz's mother's voice sounded from the doorway and she quickly got back into her room and followed her mom down to dinner.

0o0o0

The next day was Sunday and Liz had barely slept all night, waking up every few minutes from vague nightmares about someone looking like Michael and Isabel trying to kill Max.

And the continuous feeling of unease and alertness from Max's end isn't really helping matters, Liz thought as she got out of her morning shower and got dressed.

When she got down to the diner and stole a few donuts for breakfast, her dad took one look at her and sent her out for a walk in an attempt to make her feel better. I guess, I do look a little pale, Liz thought and glanced at her reflection in her spoon, but she just shrugged it off, knowing the reason for that and the bags under her eyes as well and did as her dad told her to.

The sky was filled with dark clouds and Liz quickly regretted her obedience when the first few drops fell about thirty minutes later and she was nowhere near her house. And I didn't even bring a decent coat, she lamented fruitlessly as she held her hands over her head for some meager semblance of shelter from the continuous drops falling on her with more and more power.

It didn't take long before she was completely drenched and Liz really wished for some kind of miracle when all of the sudden a police car drove by and pulled into the curve a few feet further ahead. The passenger seat opened in a silent invitation and Liz hurried inside and turned to send her rescuer a beaming smile.

"Thank you so much, I was almost drowning out there and…" Liz trailed off as her eyes caught up with her mouth and she recognized the new addition to Sheriff Valenti's team; Deputy Fisher.

Deputy Fisher was a good looking man, with an air of friendliness about him and he never forgot his southern manners whenever out in public. He always tipped his hat politely whenever Liz serviced him at the Crashdown. She had even witnessed him climb up a tree to rescue old Mrs. Peterson's elderly – and extremely fat – cat Mr. Pippin a few weeks ago; charming her with friendly smiles even as the feline scratched his face something fierce.

And still; there was just something about him that didn't sit well with the clever brunette. He smiles with his lips but not his eyes, she thought not for the first time as the dark haired deputy did just that.

"Well, Miss Parker, I couldn't with good conscience let a pretty little one like you catch a cold. Colds are dreadful things to overcome after all." His charming smile sending inexplicable chills down Liz's spine.

"Err…right," she murmured uncomfortably. "Anyway, it's really nice of you, Sir."

"Think nothing of it, Miss Parker," and there was that smile yet again, Liz noticed before he turned his attention back to the road, "what kind of gentleman would I be if I didn't help out wherever I could."

They drove for a few minutes in silence; something Liz was profoundly happy for since she truly didn't know how to react to the man – she quickly decided to let her instincts guide her since they'd never steered her wrong before when he finally did open his mouth and asked a bit too casually for it to seem sincere.

"So; I've been seeing that Evans boy around you a lot lately. Your Daddy says you're all but glued together these days."

"Yeah," Liz shrugged awkwardly, fiddling with a loose thread on her wet shirt. "We're together a lot, I can't deny that."

"So…" Fisher's voice took on an edge that sent warning signals to Liz, "where is he this weekend? I haven't seen him or his sister around – or that other boy that always hangs around them."

For the first time in a long time, Liz was truly happy that Max and the others secrets weren't hers yet, because she had a sudden feeling that if she knew more then she might not get out of the car anytime soon. And even what little I do know, I'm not gonna tell you, she sent out, wordlessly defying the older guy next to her, who was still wearing a much too nonchalant expression on his face for it to be real.

"Well, I heard him and Michael talking about going camping this weekend with Sheriff Valenti's son, Kyle. I don't know where Isabel is though; out with her closer friends I suppose."

"You know, I don't like being lied to," the tone was eerie and Liz swallowed, but told herself to hold firm, taking solace in the bond where she could feel Max's calm. There was a very tense silence as he pulled up in front of the Crashdown a little while later, but then his face broke out into that excessive friendly smile that creeped Liz out more than ever, "I'm glad we got to spend a little time together, Miss Parker; I'm sure we'll get better acquainted soon. In fact," the deputy smiled even wider, "I can pretty much guarantee it. Now run along now before you start to shiver and get really sick."

Liz nodded mutely and exited the car faster than she could remember doing before in her life and ran to the backdoor so she didn't have to be seen by all the customers in the diner. Suddenly she was craving privacy more than anything; no that wasn't true, Liz realized as she stripped down and ran into her bathroom, locking the door behind her before sliding down her small tub for a bath, I need Max – even though he's secretive he's not creepy like that man

Unbeknownst to Liz, Deputy Fisher was a lot creepier than even she gave him credit for and as she sat shivering in her bathroom, attempting to calm down from their encounter, he drove out to a secret facility in the desert and changed back into his real clothes and identity, which was Special Agent Daniel Pierce.

Pierce's POV

The scanner beeped granting him access as he knew it would and he walked into his office to go over some reports from the doctors taking ever so gentle care of his former agent, Kathleen Topolsky. After a few minutes of some quite enjoyable reading, he got up and walked to the White Room where they were holding her for interrogation.

The shrill scream echoing off the bare walls around him a few hours later, was hoarse; the exhaustion plain to hear and Pierce almost enjoyed the sound.

She's a traitor to her race, he thought, watching detachedly as yet another shiny instrument of pain was being pulled out of Kathleen Topolsky's trembling body.

The doctor, who was currently on duty, trying to make the stubborn agent talk, calmly wiped the object free of blood and then grabbed one of his many colorful syringes and plunged the sickly green liquid into Topolsky's sweat-covered neck.

It's almost beautiful to watch, Pierce thought as spasms quickly overtook the female's body.

He took a piece of cloth and forced it into her mouth, he wanted her in pain, not choking on her own tongue after all.

"Sir," a new voice sounded from the earpiece that Pierce almost always wore when he was busy in the White Room.

A leader should always be reachable, as Pierce's grandfather used to say, something that had only reinforced itself in Pierce's mind when he joined the military and seen the chain of command in action firsthand.

"Yes Agent," Pierce said, keenly aware of Topolsky's crying eyes on him as he spoke.

"I've just been introduced to this particular case, Sir, and I need to say that unless you want Agent Topolsky brain dead or insane, you need to give her a break soon."

Pierce narrowed his eyes and glanced behind him at the wall he knew was a one-way window from the other end; where the new operative most likely was at that point in time. "We've been at this for a month. If she'd break down like that, she'd have done so already."

Pierce swallowed a smug smile at this sound argument, loving the defeated sigh he could hear in his ear at his determined tone.

"Ok Sir; just remember that the Intel she might provide may be faulty at best."

"Of course, Agent," patronized Pierce, turning back to lock eyes with a silently crying Topolsky, "but I'll never stop unless you start talking Kathleen."

Topolsky blinked and her already pale skin turned a little whiter, as impossible it may seem.

"A-a..." Topolsky croaked, trying to speak through her no doubt aching throat.

Feeling generous, Pierce nodded to the doctor to give her some pain reliever.

A few moments later, the suffering woman continued in a raspy voice. "A month? It's finally been a month now?"

The question seemed a little odd to Pierce, but since he'd been through hundreds of these sessions he knew the victims..., knew the hostiles, he corrected internally, usually focused on the oddest of things during their rare break from agony.

So, he just nodded and softly agreed that, yes it had been a whole month at long last.

Something flashed through Topolsky's red-rimmed eyes and she looked down briefly before slowly lifting her head as though all of the burdens of the world were on her petite shoulders.

After staring soundlessly into Pierce's eyes without any emotions showing, Topolsky sighed heavily and finally did what Pierce had so fervently wished for; she broke.

"If you take me back in, I'll tell you everything I know. Just please stop hurting me, sir..."

TBC

A/N: Thanks for sticking with me for over a year now and I hope 2012 will see a lot more updates from TATT. Have a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year everyone!
Until Next Time
Ditte Mai
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Re: The Antarian Timetravellers TEEN/MATURE. Note about Upda

Post by maipigen » Wed Feb 29, 2012 3:23 am

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Thanks for all the comments and the patience:) This chapter may not be understood, but I hope you'll like it.

Last Time on TATT: Kyle tries working through his conflicting feelings towards Isabel and Tess. Michael unwillingly hurts Maria when Kyle is seemingly accepted into the group without any explanation. The guys all dig up information on their enemies and decide to head to New York with the female hybrids in tow to meet the Dupes. Liz tries to comfort Maria, telling her to relax since eventually they'll be told everything – even as she's making a detailed journal of all the things that she's discovered, signaling that she's just as impatient as her best friend. Liz has a creepy experience with Deputy Fisher. And Kathleen breaks…


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CHAPTER TWENTYTHREE

Kyle's POV

Kyle was walking quietly behind the original time travelers and a confused looking Tess as they made their way away from the so called place of residence that the other four hybrids were supposed to be living in. Except they weren't there and according to the weary looking middle aged crow that ran the place; none of them had been present for over a month.

Kyle rolled his eyes as the memory of himself asking why the hell she hadn't alerted the police or something as soon as they went missing trickled through. The woman had just snorted and muttered something about being happy to be rid of those freaks before slamming the door in his face.

Since he was the only one that didn't look like one of the missing teens, Kyle had been selected to confront the woman, but he honestly thought that she wouldn't have looked twice even if Max or the others had asked for the missing dupes. She looked like she only waited for the day when she could burn the place down, Kyle thought sourly as he continued following the other three.

Max was leading the group, slowly making his way to the place where he remembered Rath and Lonnie having taken him in their earlier life. Considering the massive amount of more pressing memories that Max had been through since his brief visit in New York with Tess, Kyle was slightly impressed that he didn't seem to doubt where he was going even for a second. I shouldn't really be surprised, Kyle reasoned with a small shudder, Max always remembers stuff that the rest of us doesn't deem important anymore.

After another fifteen minutes walk in silence, Max finally stopped and led them through hidden places that were covered with signs that told the observant person to keep away if they valued their lives.

"Charming," Isabel muttered, ducking low as she followed a stony faced Max inside a dark subway tunnel that would eventually lead them all to the second set of hybrids. Tess nodded in fervent looking agreement, while Michael simply snorted.

Kyle swallowed a small smile, no matter what; I can always count on Isabel's sarcasm. It's weird that I never realized that she lost that in the last years of the war… He shook himself out of that particular train of thought a moment later, when he suddenly felt something pointy in the lower part of his back and a whispered voice ordering him to freeze.

"Eh, guys…" Kyle froze, lamenting yet again that his powers hadn't travelled through time with him or whatever it was he'd done. Max, Isabel, Michael and Tess immediately tensed at the cautious tone in his voice when he added in a mock calm tone, "we might have a little problem on our hands."

"You damn right you do," a hissing voice sounded in the sudden silence, a voice that sounded so much like Isabel's, and yet very different at the same time that it unnerved him a little. "Don't move a muscle if you want your friend here to live. I don't like ruining pretty things, and he's mighty fine. Now…Step into the light so I can see you."

Only then, Kyle realized that the hybrid he knew to be Lonnie, hadn't yet spotted the others and he couldn't help but smirk, even as whatever it was she was all but carving into his back, twisted a little more brutally.

"Oh, you've got no idea what's in store for you," he warned and watched as first Max, then Michael, then Tess and at last Isabel stepped into the artificially created light that Lonnie had procured while Kyle had been distracted.

The slight gasp in his ear brought another smirk onto Kyle's face and the moment where Lonnie's attention on him lessened, he sprung forward into the safety of his friends closed up ranks.

Lonnie immediately reacted by throwing the weapon in her hand; a homemade knife, after him; enhancing its flight with her powers, but Max simply raised a hand and his signature green glowing shield came up and Kyle breathed a small sigh of relief.

"We need to talk, Lonnie. Take me to the others before you realize that you're not the most dangerous one in New York City anymore."

Kyle smirked at the paleness that the Dupe had gotten ever since laying eyes on them; especially the ferociously glaring Isabel. "Lead the way," he said when she still hadn't moved a few minutes later. Lonnie sighed and after one last look at her look-a-like, she turned around with Max at her side and did as ordered.

Tess' POV

I don't know whether to be scared out of my mind, or fall to the ground laughing my head off, Tess pondered silently, as she followed Max and the others into a huge, cluttered room that once upon a time may have had a function, but it was only apparent to the Dupes.

At first, the sight of the very different looking Isabel had frightened Tess, she had to admit that; but when they all walked in and interrupted what seemed like a friendly hockey spar or something and caught sight of the other three Dupes, Tess had been hard pressed not to let a snort of amusement escape her.

The first one that Tess' eyes landed on was the one that looked like Michael. Albeit, a Michael with a severe lack in anything fashion or taste oriented, Tess decided as she took in the sight of the wild hair, the various piercings and the very non-new clothing that made Michael's style seem like he was a fashion model in comparison.

The sight of the Max look-a-like made Tess infinitely happy that Nasedo had come to Roswell to make her attempt a liaison with Max, because the abomination of a beard on the other Max's face could never have worked for her. No, not even close.

The last one that Tess' eyes found in her quick scan was the one who looked like herself. Maybe I'm a bit biased, she thought, running her eyes over the brightly colored hair and piercings, but she doesn't look nearly as bad as the others. I could pull off a look like that if I wanted to.

Tess didn't get more than a few seconds to take in the whole look and feel of the other hybrids, before the one, who looked like Michael seemed to have finished his own quick assessment of them. "Lonnie, what the hell?"

Lonnie shrugged, trying to seem a lot more casual than she really was, if her nervous glances towards Max every now and again were any indication. "It's cool Rath."

"Fuck no, it ain't 'cool'," the one called Rath growled and held up a hand in the signature motion that Tess recognized from when she needed to blast something really hard. She'd already begun her own countermove, when suddenly Rath was blasted off his feet, catapulting into the nearest wall with a bang.

The sound of his head smacking into the bricks, resonated in the sudden silence and Tess looked over at Michael, who was smirking ever so slightly. "I've been wanting to do that ever since I first saw you," she heard him mutter.

A moment later, Rath was being helped to his feet by the one that looked like Tess and she frowned a bit at seeing the much bigger male simply push her helping hands off roughly, hissing something no doubt offensive to her.

"Hey!" Tess called out, for some reason not really liking the dejected look on the look-a-like's slightly thinner face; it seemed like she was used to being called derogatory things and didn't have any real ability to fight it off any more. "Pick on someone your own size, Jerk."

The massive glare that he sent her way for her trouble instinctively made Tess fall back and go into the battle stance that her guardian had drilled into her from childhood. She needn't have bothered though, because a second later, her view was blocked by Max's muscular frame and his voice rang out like a whip, "Stand down."

From the look Tess managed to sneak as she looked out from behind Max, Rath didn't really seem to know how to react to the deceptively suburban teenage looking Max. Instead, he looked over at the one that looked like him and asked if he wasn't planning on showing these punks what he was made of.

The Max duplicate seemed a lot more capable of taking in the details about the unexpected arrivals than Rath. Like the fact that all of them, even Tess, looked extremely capable of hurting them. He just stood calmly, leaning on a hockey stick that had seen better days. "If you think I'm risking my ass for this before I've gotten some answers, you're dumber than you look," was all he ended up saying, scratching that horrible excuse of facial hair that made Tess want to hold him down and shave him as soon as possible.

"You're a fucking coward, Zan," Rath grumbled, causing Zan to straighten up and clench his fists.

"Don't start," he warned softly, and for a split second, Tess could see some of Max in him. Next to her, Lonnie sighed heavily and stepped forward.

"Guys, behave; we've got company and I don't know 'bout you, but I'd sure as hell like to know how they know 'bout us."

The two arguing hybrids stopped and looked at Lonnie, who was flanked by Isabel and Kyle. Tess decided to stay behind Max, since she wasn't really sure what the others skill set was yet and if she had to take cover behind someone, it would be the guy who'd already proven to be willing to save her life.

"Who's that?" Zan nodded with his chin at Kyle and Tess' self-preservation instinct immediately vanished when she suddenly felt the need to protect her human friend. Or…acquaintance, she lamented unhappily in her head, since he's still not completely forgiven me for mindwarping him. Not that I blame him…

"No one you need to know," Isabel answered icily and took one step forward, shielding the only human in the room. "Now quit stalling and let's get down to business. We came here to talk."

Zan's eyes widened at the sight of Isabel, but he just nodded once and gestured for them all to take a seat in the sad excuse of a couch. Briefly, Tess wondered why they didn't use their powers to spruce up their home, but let the matter lie as Max took up from where Isabel left off.

"We're here to talk and to give you a warning." His dark eyes glided over the others and he continued seriously, "Sometime in the future your sister and her lover will betray you. That's a fact and-"

Max was abruptly cut off by Lonnie, who ripped her arm out of Isabel's hand and stomped over to her brother. "What are you talking 'bout Zan 2.0? We're a family and we watch each other's back!"

Tess watched in silent confusion as Max just continued as though he hadn't been interrupted. "How I know this is irrelevant, but I will say that since I don't know that much about you, I've decided to give you the benefit of the doubt. Also," his eyes landed on Lonnie and Rath and the look in them sent a shiver of unease through Tess as she once again was reminded that Max was nothing like Nasedo had told her growing up. "I will not go to the Summit you two are letting take place next year; I warn you that should you go ahead as planned despite my warnings, I and my family will end you."

Rath sneered soundlessly, but didn't seem to want to take any chances of further injuring himself, while Lonnie seemed completely shocked that someone appeared to know everything about her and the very secret plans she'd slowly begun making only recently.

Honestly, she's not the only one confused right about now, Tess thought, but she'd come to accept that there were things going on with the other hybrids that she would probably never know and just take things as they came.

"W-what do you want from us?" Tess looked over at her clone and hated the sound of her slight hesitation. If I let my enemies know I was the weakest link like that, Nasedo would've killed me, she thought with annoyance.

Max's voice brought her back to the present with a start. "Leave this place and forget about your life. Change your identities and live your lives in peace. If you try to cross me or mine, like I said, that's going to be the last thing you ever do."

He sounds like he's used to killing without missing a beat, Tess realized with an internal shudder. How can he be the same guy as the one who Liz's got wrapped around her finger without even trying? He's dangerous. Tess' eyes briefly glanced at Isabel, Michael and Kyle and she amended silently, they all are…

Zan leaned back in the beat up couch, laying an arm around Tess' copy and smirked. "What makes you so sure you're the one who's calling the shots here?"

Isabel answered quietly, hands slightly raised in case of any altercations, "We're the originals and like it or not, our power is more than you four can handle even if you're united. Just do as my brother says and spare yourselves a lot of pain."

Rath's sneer hadn't lessened as he listened to the conversation, and he seemed like he couldn't stand much more talking. "I ain't gonna let some snobby looking Squares boss me around! We're meant for more than this crappy ass existence!" And with that, Rath launched an attack on the one closest to him, which just so happened to be Tess.

Tess was too shocked by the sudden movement to do much of anything in those first crucial seconds. After that, she didn't have to worry anymore since Rath was no longer advancing. In fact he was lying on the concrete floor with his hands wrapped around his throat, gurgling blood.

With wide eyes, Tess looked over at Isabel, whose pointy finger had elongated into something claw like and from the drops of blood dripping softly down on the cluttered coffee table; she'd used it to cut Rath's throat in a vicious show of brutal efficiency.

Tess was fighting back gasps of alarm; again feeling like she was a mere kid compared to her other Roswellian hybrids. Especially, when Max simply raised a brow and looked Zan straight in the eye. "Are you a healer? I would do it, but I think it'd be counterproductive to our point if I actually saved his life."

Lonnie was pale, already by her lover's side, her hands bloody as she took over from the desperate looking Rath in terms of stemming the blood flow from his ghastly wound. "Zan!" She screamed, never taking her wary eyes off of Isabel, who was now daintily wiping her normal looking appendage with one of the ratty blankets from the couch.

Zan held up Max's stare one last, long second before he moved quickly down to help his second in command. Before he planted his hands on Rath's bleeding throat, he looked into Lonnie's wide eyes and asked seriously, "Are you planning on betraying me, Sister?"

Lonnie swallowed visibly, but seemed to realize that lying wouldn't get Rath the help he needed fast enough. "I won't, I swear. Please save him, Zan." Her eyes travelled towards the Tess' dupe in a quick motion, "Ava, please make him help me!"

Zan shared one quick look with Ava before looking down at a desperate looking Rath, who grew paler by the second. "And you? Will you swear to not betray me too?"

Rath couldn't nod, but he must have let something shine through his glassy eyes, because a moment later, Zan bent down and finally started healing the injured hybrid with an intense look of concentration on his face.

Tess exhaled a sigh of relief when, a few minutes later, Rath sat back up on his own. He was a bloody mess, and way more pale than he should be, but he was alive. Tess looked at Isabel and caught a brief flash of similar relief and relaxed an inch. I guess she's not as hardcore as she acts. But she deserves major props for her acting skills, Tess thought even as the tiny hint of emotion fled Isabel's flawless face. She does what she needs to, just like Max and Michael, but takes no enjoyment in it. We're more alike than I ever realized.

"I trust you're all aware now, that we are not what we seem to be," Max spoke again, exuding nothing but cordial calmness that looked to be having the same effect on the Dupes as it did on Tess. The Dupes nodded with various degree of fervor, Rath while his hands were busy with cleaning the blood off of him.

"I'm not much of a fighter," Zan stated a few moments of awkward silence later, "I prefer just chillin' and relaxing. I like my life and I kinda thought my family felt the same way." They all acted like they didn't see the slight twitch in both Lonnie and Rath as he added with a heavy sigh, "I guess I'll have to grow up now. So since I don't really feel like being dead and all; I could use some help with what's gonna happen next."

Tess bit her lip in slight frustration when Max stepped forward and spoke, not having heard this little part of the plan during their roadtrip to New York. "We have two guardians in L.A. We have only met one of them, but after I give him a call, I can promise you that they'll both do their best to help you along. I just have one request and that's to lay low. We have more enemies than any of you can even being to realize and I agree with you Zan, that a peaceful life is much more appreciated than the opposite."

Zan smirked again, making Tess believe that that was his only facial setting, "At least we agree on that much. Now…" He looked at her with a raised brow and forced the curly haired hybrid to change her mind about him when his face lit up into a flirtatious leer, "why don't you introduce me to you all – especially that little beauty right there."

Tess felt a flare of something akin to annoyance bursting to life inside of her, which wasn't all that surprising given her feelings towards Max's dupe, but what surprised her was the feel of someone else's anger inside of her, but for the stony faced expressions around her, she really couldn't tell from whom.

I must be more tired then I thought, Tess decided and rolled her eyes when Zan eyed her up and down, taking no heed to the fuming Ava next to him. But if he keeps it up, I won't be too tired to knock him out.

Liz's POV

While Max and the others were in New York City, Liz was busy. So busy in fact, that she was beginning to show it by gaining dark, unattractive circles under her eyes and she didn't have a lot of appetite so her weight was decreasing as well, leaving her with a little too much bone and not enough flesh.

On the second day of Max and the others' absence, Liz groaned as she came into her room, just having finished her latest double shift at the Crashdown, and let herself fall into her deskchair. "I need to sleep," she muttered, absentmindedly removing her antennas.

If only I didn't feel so weighed down with everything that's been going on, when I finally do try to relax, Liz thought, getting ready to take a bath. She grabbed one of her fluffiest towels and got into the shower, already losing her battle to not think about anything alien related a few seconds later.

Maria kept bugging her with her own irritation and hurt from Michael's supposed betrayal whenever she could catch Liz in a spare moment; Alex was just a permanent guest in the diner these days, looking sad and worried and Liz's own concern for Max kept nagging at her. All of which were things that the intelligent brunette could usually handle without much effort, but then there was Deputy Fisher too. He'd taken to showing up in the Crashdown at all times of the day; she had even seen him at Maria's house, flirting with her mom the night before, so she had a sneaking suspicion that she wasn't the only one he was keeping tabs on.

He's not just stalking me, Liz thought, drying her hair on autopilot, he is stalking those who aren't in New York. The memory of their brief conversation in his car ran through Liz's mind and she shuddered a bit before once again forcing the matter out of her head, promising herself to tell Max and the others as soon as they returned.

As Liz passed her desk, she noticed the clutter that had sprouted there, it was usually something she never allowed, and before she knew it, she was deeply engrossed in cleaning it as her insides kept twisting uncomfortably. Something that it had been doing ever since she'd let herself step inside of Deputy Fisher's vehicle.

The choking feeling of unnamed danger, the beat of cold sweat of fear that she'd felt mixing in with the raindrops still staining her skin, the- "No," Liz shook her head and threw her pencils into her drawer with a resounding bang. "Stop thinking about it."

She stood up and quickly donned her pajamas and crawled into bed, a moment later; she turned around and turned on her radio to chase away the echoing silence. Liz forced her eyes to close, wishing for sleep, but a couple of minutes later, the other reason for her lack of calm hit her like a freight train.

Tension, anger, concern, hope, fear, annoyance, desperation and caution hit her through the bond in one continuous cycle; the amount of each emotion told Liz that Max wasn't in any real danger and it was only his personal worries that he wasn't good enough in hiding from her. That or he's letting me in a little more, Liz thought, not for the first time, but it's really not that easy to block so I can sleep

Liz had originally wanted to close off the connection so she didn't have to catch herself from spacing out or trembling ever so slightly with nerves, but the image of Max's horribly hurt face the last time she'd cut their bond had stopped her from going through with it. So, instead, the teenage girl simply rolled over and started doing multiplications in her head in an attempt to catch some much needed sleep.

0o0o0

The next day was Monday and the only reason that Liz blearily reached out and shut off her alarm clock when it'd been ringing for five minutes straight, was the fact that today was the day where Max was supposed to be back from his trip.

And then I may be able to relax a little again, Liz hoped as she tiredly prepared for a new week. As she walked down to force something in her empty stomach, despite its knots, Liz wondered just how it was that she'd gotten so weirded out by Max's absence from her in such a short period of time. It's like our bond wants to keep us in the same place as much as possible; at the very least in the same town, she thought, giving up on the waffles that her mom had put out for her and taking an apple instead.

She was still nibbling on said fruit unenthusiastically when there was a knock on the door. The moment Liz opened the door, all of her pent up emotions and all of the stress she'd been feeling flew from her mind to be replaced by an explosive burst of pure joy.

"Max!" She flew at him, startling him a little, but not caring as she latched on to him as though he was the sole purpose of remaining sane. A small part of Liz had an inkling of this to be the complete truth, but she pushed the possible ramifications of that to the side and just enjoyed Max's arms around her as she breathed in his special scent.

"When did you get back? I didn't feel anything," she muttered with her face buried in the crook of his neck.

Max's small chuckle resonated through his body and the movement jostled Liz a little, but she didn't care; she was just so happy to be back near him.

"About fifteen minutes ago; I wanted to surprise you and maybe give you a ride to school."

Liz whispered her agreement to that idea and just tightened her grip on the hybrid with a content sigh.

After what only felt like seconds, but was probably more along the lines of minutes, Liz slowly untangled herself from her sort of boyfriend. His smiling dark eyes sent pleasant shivers through her and she had to repress a sudden need to drag him upstairs to the more private setting of her room.

Then, as she stood staring at him, Max's eyes dimmed ever so slightly and he ran a hand through his hair. "Liz, don't take this the wrong way, but you don't look so good. You're still beautiful of course, but you look exhausted."

Liz appreciated that he found her beautiful, something she still hadn't really managed to find any rational explanation for and smiled. "I've just been busy. You know, school and the Crash and stuff…anyway," she quickly changed the subject; "I have to say I don't know whether to be happy that you let me feel you in your absence or slap you for the same thing. I was on pins and needles, let me tell you."

Max smiled ruefully, reaching out and caressing her cheek ever so slightly. It was always a bit perplexing to Liz when he did that, since it made her feel like he literally worshipped the ground she walked on. I'm by no means perfect, so having someone look at me like I am is a bit unsettling.

The moment the word filtered through her mind, Liz remembered another pretty unsettling thing and flinched. Deputy Fisher. She must have let something slip, because in the next second, Max was a lot closer and staring into her eyes with an intense look that told the human that he wasn't about to be distracted no matter what.

"Liz, what's wrong?"

"Nothing, Max. I just…It's nothing." Even as she said the words, Liz battled with herself. I keep asking him to trust me and let me in, so I should really do the same. But, she argued inwardly, I don't want to worry him with my paranoia; it's probably nothing.

Max's warm hands on her face gently pulled Liz out of her head and into the present and she blinked owlishly. "I won't push you to tell me," He murmured softly, "I have way too many secrets of my own for it to be justifiable. But," Max's tone turned excruciatingly soft as he gazed lovingly down into her eyes, "just promise me that you know that you can always come to me if you need to. Okay?"

Liz nodded and smiled when Max planted a brief kiss on her forehead before letting go of her. "Now, go get your stuff and let's get to school before you break that perfect record of yours."

Liz stuck her tongue out at his teasing, but turned to do as she was told. She quickly grabbed her book bag sitting on the counter next to her uneaten waffles and walked back outside. On the way to school though, Liz sat in Max's Jeep feeling more and more conflicted, even as a big part of her enjoyed just sitting next to him and holding his free hand as he drove.

Even if Deputy Fisher is more than he seems, I really shouldn't be keeping it to myself…He's not really after me. She cast a quick look at Max and smiled when he caught her, before she looked back out at the passing scenery. He's after Max, Michael, Isabel and Tess and something tells me he's utterly ruthless…Or might be after them.

Liz frowned as she suddenly felt something rush through her; a flash that wasn't hers but one that she barely recalled seeing from when she'd reopened her connection with Max in the cave with a searing kiss. A white room, pain, fear, needles, ice, Deputy Fisher's chilling smirk.

"Liz?"

Liz jumped in her seat and looked over at Max with a no doubt deer in the headlights look in her eyes. "What?"

Max looked slightly bemused, even as a hint of worry entered his eyes. "We're here."

Liz looked around, only just then realizing that Max had parked the car in the student parking lot at the high school and she felt rattled and embarrassed. But then, as soon as Max had opened his door and was about to exit the Jeep, she also suddenly felt resolute and held out a hand to stop him, having made her decision in that split second.

"I need to tell you something, Max, but it may sound completely crazy and…" Liz trailed off for a second, before continuing with a look of determination in her brown orbs, "I need you to hear me out and then you can either investigate on your own or ignore it, but at least I'll have done my part."

Max furrowed his brows, but silently closed the door again before turning to look at her fully. "I'm listening Liz. Whatever it is, I can handle it."

Liz really hoped he meant it and started her story. "Well, there's this new guy in town, who works for Kyle's dad, Deputy Fisher-" A bolt of anger and unease flew through the bond and Liz quickly continued with what had happened the other day and how she'd noticed the admittedly handsome Deputy around her increasingly more after that.

"…don't know why exactly, but I'm pretty sure he's not just a deputy and I know it sounds completely ludicrous, but I just have this feeling that he's bad news and…well, I thought that you should know even if this might make you think of me as some paranoid person with way too much time on her hands."

"Liz stop," the firm command immediately put a stop to Liz's babbling and she took her first real breath since launching into her quick explanation and finally looked closer at the boy next to her.

Max wasn't pale or showed any truly visible signs of discomfort, at least as long as one didn't look too closely into his dark brown eyes. Not even their shared bond told her as much about his current mood as his eyes did in that moment. He looks like I've just dealt him a deathly blow, Liz grimaced on the inside, it's like I've told him the worst news he's ever heard.

"I need to go find Iz and Michael," Max said after a long, tense silence. Liz didn't even get a chance to ask any questions, before Max added quietly, "Please don't ask right now. I don't want to have to lie to you."

Biting her lip in thought, Liz broke their locked gazes before whispering with a noticeable plea in her voice, "Just tell me if I was right when you've investigated it. I deserve that much."

"You deserve a lot more than that," Max muttered tenderly and slowly leaned forward and slanted his lips over hers in the gentlest kiss she'd ever received in her life. "Some day I'll tell you everything," Liz heard him whisper in her ear just before he exited the jeep and vanished with a speed that surprised her.

"I don't know if I can wait that long," Liz said in the sudden lonely space that she'd been left in. "But I'll try to be patient for now," she continued as if the boy she was speaking to could still hear her. Then she grabbed her bookbag and walked to her first class with a curious mix of happiness and sadness swelling up inside of her and this time it wasn't the bond acting up, because Max had muted their connection the instant she'd spoken Deputy Fisher's name.

Of course, Liz's promise fled her conscious later that day, when she noticed that not only was Michael and Isabel invited to some sort of secret meeting in the Eraser Room, but so was Kyle. Maria wasn't the only one smarting over the fact that he'd been let in so effortlessly and Liz snapped, deciding to take matters into her own hands.

Max's POV

It took three hours of appearing just as bored and unfocused as the other teenagers around him, but finally Max managed to get his fellow time jumpers and Kyle located in the Eraser Room just as the bell rang for the next class.

Michael, acting carefree and nonchalant as he was wont to do in such times, merely raised a brow as Isabel squeezed down into a seat between him and Kyle and looked up at the still standing Max by the door. "Not that I particularly care all that much, but if we keep these little rendezvous' up, we might attract attention from well meaning teachers that want to figure out why we're so unhappy that we can't show up in time for classes."

Kyle snorted, looking a little pained at sitting so close to Isabel, who in turn acted like nothing was wrong and simply rolled her eyes at her hybrid friend.

Max finished locking the door with his powers and put up a special kind of shield that Serena had painstakingly taught him once upon a time; it acted more like an anti listening ward than any real defensive shield and took a little time to set up. "We need to tie up another loose end before worrying about our scholastic achievements."

As he finished speaking, the others looked a lot more alert and a hell of a lot more serious, something that Max was very thankful for. At least we're way past the part of our lives where we debated endlessly about the most minor details before getting back to the matter at hand. Seeing the look of curiosity, Max shook off his thoughts and simply said Pierce's name.

"What about Pierce?" Kyle asked, at the same time as Michael, who said, "I thought you said you were taking care of him!"

Isabel merely looked cautious, seemingly recognizing the slight look of anxiousness that Max knew he hadn't quite wiped off his face yet. Sighing, he retold Liz's story, trying not to think about how much she'd changed since getting to know his alien secret. She looks so much more affected this time around; I hope we can have some peace and quiet after Pierce is taken care of. She needs it more than the other humans do, I think.

"Maxwell!"

Michael's voice interrupted Max's ponderings and he chastised himself mentally before refocusing completely on the current situation.

"I have a plan, but you're not going to like it," he slowly said, pretending not to hear his sister's muttered curse at his words. It's not like his lasts few plans didn't work, but it was true that they took a lot out of them and if nothing else, they all really needed some rest.

"Tell us everything," Kyle ordered, ignoring Isabel's words as best he could, considering she all but sat on his lap in the small room. "And don't even think about leaving anything out, Max, 'cause we'll find out the truth anyway and then there's gonna be shouting and anger and I'm just too tired for that right now. Now, spill it."

Max glanced at his long time friend and one time rival for Liz's affections and sighed. "Fine, but hear me out before you all object to it," here his eyes darted over to Isabel in particular and she frowned.

A couple of minutes later, the empty hallway outside of the Eraser Room echoed with a cry of outrage. "That's a stupid plan, Max! Absolutely not!"

0o0o0

Stupid plan or not, let's just hope it works, Max thought that same evening as he donned a pair of black pants and a tight fitting black shirt.

Isabel stood in the doorway watching him, scowling ever so slightly, but he could easily ignore that since he understood her feelings quite well.

At last grabbing a pre-prepared protein bar with Tabasco sauce drippled all over it, Max was good to go. He quickly walked past his sister, but then stopped when she spoke quietly as he passed her.

"Please don't risk your life for this plan of yours. I didn't come back here to loose you."

Max stopped dead and looked back at her with a small smile adjourning his lips; a movement that still felt foreign to him after so many years in battle. "I'll try my best." I'm surprised Iz, he thought to himself as Isabel nodded and left his side and walked into her own room and closed the room a bit harder than was necessary, here I thought we agreed that nothing matters more than to keep this peace we're living in now. Not even our lives. I'll be careful, but if it comes to it, I'm still willing to die for my beliefs, so you or anyone else doesn't have to; I can't live through that again without going insane.

It didn't take Max long to get to his destination after his first stop. He'd driven by the Sheriff's department just to scout and see if Pierce was really doing his so called job, then he drove into a deserted area just outside of town and changed the Jeep into a lot less noticeable vehicle and painted it black with one quick movement of his hand. It may not be as good as when Isabel does it, Max thought, assessing his work with a critical eye, but it'll have to do for what I need.

Not long after that, Max drove to the small apartment building that 'Deputy Fisher' supposedly lived. Kyle had remembered his dad's passwords and managed to find out the information after hacking Sheriff Valenti's private computer from one of the computer's in the school.

Max looked up at the dark windows in the apartment and began making his way stealthily to the door, only to dash to the side and hide behind another parked car as someone came out in the next second. Max chanced one look and smirked to himself.

Pierce wasn't wearing his deputy costume, but the usual suit that Max had always associated with the bloodthirsty operative. It would seem he's on his way to the base, Max thought and ran back towards his disguised Jeep as fast as he could to follow the F.B.I agent.

It hadn't been part of the plan to go to the base already, Max knew that the others would freak out if they knew what he was doing, but he had a chance to advance things before it got too out of hand and was going to take it.

Max soon found himself in the place that he had once thought was the worst he had ever experienced, but he was wiser now and definitely less naïve.
Compared to some of the other tortures he'd been subjected too, Pierce's hadn't been the worst one; to be honest, Max decided with a rueful twitch of his lips at the macabre thought, it hadn't even been in the top three.

But it had been the first one and therefore it would always be something he'd never forget.

Forcing the memories of those twenty-four hours out of his mind, Max snuck closer and tried remembering everything Isabel and Michael had shown him of the place after he'd finally convinced them that his plan to kidnap Pierce was sound. I'm just lucky that I thought of that idea considering what is currently happening, Max thought and he'd just reached the entrance when everything inside of him froze up in fear. Fear that did not belong to him and as soon as he realized that it was coming from Liz through the bond he'd already muted to the best of his abilities earlier in the day, he heard her scream in the distance and cursed with his own fear.

"Oh Maaax," a familiar voice rang out and caused the hybrid to freeze mid-movement. "I'm so happy you decided to join me tonight. I must admit that I was surprised when my men told me of your presence at the apartment, but…oh well, I couldn't very well let this golden opportunity slip by now, could I?"

Pierce's voice was overflowing with that false saccharine sweetness and polite tone that used to cause the hairs in the back of Max's neck to stand up – at least until Khivar's arrival had flushed that memory out.

What do I do? What do I do? The question was on repeat in Max's frantic mind, but then his insides twisted when Liz cried out in pain.

"I don't enjoy causing harm to innocent people, Max," Pierce said in the distance, "but I'm perfectly willing to do so if it means saving my planet from your type of vermin."

"You don't know anything about me," said Max and slowly stood up with his hands raised. His face was void of any and all emotion when he finally locked eyes with the Federal agent, trying to go into that soldier mode of his that he'd sworn never to return to. Liz kept saying she was sorry and the fear and pain in her voice nearly broke Max's resolve. "If you have any decency in you, you will let her leave here. She's innocent in all of this."

Pierce smiled his fake smile once more and gestured to the sunglass wearing agent, who was holding Liz in his arms. "Give her to me Agent Carlson." Then he turned his head a fraction in Max's direction. "I'm terribly sorry, but that's one request I can't grant - Especially since it seems that harming this little one, means so much to you. Aren't we lucky she decided to hide in your car? I did wonder why I saw her crawl into your Jeep just before school ended as I was leaving the principal's office to deliver some career pamphlets for the Senior Class. I'm a concerned citizen after all," at the end his voice took on that slight southern twang that Max had forgotten about until then.

Max swallowed a growl as Pierce ran his gun down Liz's trembling face, neck and cleavage and judging by the cringe on her face, his grip on her was by no means lighter than the one she'd been in before. Max noticed that her right arm was hanging loosely down and in an odd angle, recognizing a broken arm when he saw one and had to fight back his primal urge to just release all of his rage. If I do that, he calmed himself with a lot of effort, I'll hurt Liz; she hasn't developed any powers yet so I can't do it without hurting her. Relax, and wait for the perfect opportunity.

Max's quick assessment had barely taken five seconds, but it was long enough to hear Pierce call out for someone behind him. As he heard the steps drawing closer, Pierce's taunting voice sounded again, "Since you are willing to behave so nicely, I'll let an old friend take you down for questioning. I have no doubt that you'll enjoy seeing her again. She's talked a lot about you."

And just as Kathleen Topolsky placed her hand on his bicep to lead him inside of the base, Max watched in horror as Pierce simply knocked Liz unconscious and handed her back to one of his operatives. "We'll be taking Miss Parker as an insurance of your future good will and cooperation. I'll be down to see you in a few hours, so I hope you'll enjoy your time with Agent Topolsky while you wait."

It was only Max's former training and experience in these kinds of situations that saved him from crying out Liz's name, pleading for her safety despite knowing that Pierce would only enjoy such an act. Instead, he tightened his emotions and let his older, less emotional self take over fully.

"I guess my plan wasn't as good as I thought," Max coldly stated as Kathleen slowly led him down the hallways to that cursed White Room that he really hadn't missed.

Kathleen glanced over at the other agent that was flanking Max's other side and said just as coldly, "You have to really know who to trust. Have a nice time Max," and with that Kathleen shoved him inside the White Room and the door creaked as it slowly closed with an ominous bang.

Max closed his eyes and sent out the strongest pulse that he could, hoping that just maybe Isabel or Michael was close enough to feel that things hadn't gone as planned and then he sat down to meditate, ready to go back to that dark part of him that had survived never-ending torture, knowing that he'd need it more than ever…

TBC…
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Re: The Antarian Timetravellers TEEN/MATURE CC CH 23 02/29/1

Post by maipigen » Sat Mar 10, 2012 9:49 am

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A/N What’s this? I updated pretty quick this time, didn’t I? Hehe, I decided I didn’t want to leave you hanging for too long. There is a bit of torture in this chapter, but it’s not too graphic and never from the actual victims point of view, so it shouldn’t be too gruesome to read even for those squeamish of you. I hope it doesn’t seem too choppy, but I really wanted something out fast and this is the end result. Thanks for the lovely reviews as well, they’re the main reason I couldn’t stop writing!

Last Time on TATT: The hybrids and Kyle take care of the Dupes and plan to handle Pierce. Liz grows weary of all the secret keeping around her and makes a bad decision. Max gets reacquainted with the White Room…

CHAPTER TWENTYFOUR

Isabel's POV

Isabel was in a fairly decent mood for once, which was surprising to her since her brother was about to embark on one of the most idiotic plans of all time. She'd tried convincing him to figure out something else, anything else, but even after she'd all but pleaded with him as he changed his clothes, Max didn't listen.

None of that explained her fairly positive mood, but it was simple really. Isabel was picking up an extra shift; evidently Liz had wanted a night off for once, and the sight of Alex sitting by the counter, doing homework always cheered her up.

And it doesn't hurt that he always lights up when he sees me, Isabel thought as she walked over to the counter to get her order pad. "Hi Alex."

It was when Alex barely looked into her eyes with a thin smile on his lips, and the quick rush of disappointment rushed through their bond that Isabel remembered that Michael and Max weren't the only ones dealing with an irate human. "Hello Isabel," he muttered, tearing his gaze away from her and with it gone, Isabel's mood plummeted once more.

"D-Do you need anything?" Great Isabel, Isabel thought sarcastically to herself, why don't you stutter some more and get him to see what a great catch your hybrid behind really is.

Alex blinked as he slowly looked back up at her, looking as if he tried with all his might not to look her into her eyes. "I would like another soda, thanks."

Eager to do something, anything to get back on her once upon a time boyfriend's good side, Isabel all but ran to the soda machine and grabbed the biggest glass she could find and filled it to the brim. Agnes sauntered by and snorted at the beverage which was running over the sides of the glass, staining Isabel's fingers with its yellow color.

"Move along, Agnes," Isabel warned the older waitress, not really in the mood to be ridiculed at that point in time by the diner's resident black cloud of doom, "nothing to see here."

A moment later, she finally managed to hand over a perfectly cooled and filled glass of orange soda, feeling as though it was the biggest thing she'd ever procured for anyone. "It's on me," Isabel added with a beaming smile when Alex fumbled with his wallet to pay.

"Oh, I can't let you-" he started, but Isabel just waved off his objections and rushed over to a couple that had just entered the Crashdown to take their order. On the way, she noticed Michael sitting in the booth they all usually sat in, staring holes in the back of Maria's eyes as she dashed around with practiced ease and completely ignored him – even though he'd obviously tried getting her attention for a while.

Deciding that the couple, who were busy kissing each other, could stand to wait a little, Isabel made her way over to her fellow time traveler. "Hey Michael, what can I get you?"

Michael waved her off, not taking his eyes off of Maria as he spoke, "I'm sitting in Maria's section. I want her to take my order, Iz. Sorry."

Isabel shrugged and placed a hand on his shoulder, giving it a gentle squeeze as her heart went out to him at the almost desperately longing gaze he was sporting. "I'll tell her to-"

"No, don't interfere," Michael interrupted quietly, "She's pissed and it's not without reason so I'm just gonna sit here and wait until she's ready. I'm not gonna push her…"

Isabel glanced back over her shoulder at Alex, who was sitting calmly with his now half-full soda. He looked gloomy and just the thought of it being her fault made her chest ache uncomfortably. "Yeah, me neither," she muttered at Michael, giving his shoulder one last squeeze before finally going over to take the very affectionate couple's order.

The rest of the shift passed by with its usual mix of rushing around or doing a whole lot of nothing, sending former, snobbish friends their much deserved glares when they tried to assert their popularity over Isabel's as she waited on them. It gave the Antarian princess quite a good feeling to quell any and all attempts of the teenage girls to discredit her and make her feel like a loser.

Like any of that even matters to me anymore, Isabel thought as she'd just "accidentally" tripped over thin air and spilled quite a bit of coke on the one girl, who'd she'd heard mutter stuff, not only about Isabel herself, but about Alex as well. Apparently, the gangly teen just sitting minding his own business was enough to get him on the bully's radar. I've killed more people than I could ever have imagined and now I'm supposed to be devastated by a pack of little kids trying to make me feel intimidated. As if

Since it was a school day the next day, Isabel's shift was short and she followed a neutral looking Maria into the backroom to change out of her uniform. Just as she was about to go against Michael's wishes and ask if the blonde had any intentions of forgiving him, it happened.

It was something that she'd hoped never, ever to feel again; a stabbing, piercing wave of raw emotion crashed into the very core of her being with the strength of a hundred tsunamis.

HELP ME!

The cry for help raced through her and caused Isabel to stumble forward into the still opened locker in front of her as she battled the overflowing nausea that the possibilities of the distress call invoked.

"Isabel?" Maria sounded frantic, and a small part of Isabel really wanted to just reassure her old friend that she was fine and that there was no reason to worry, but the bigger, more realistic part that had lived through wars, knew better and just couldn't muster up any real comfort for the human- Especially since she was busy trying not to gag out all of her sudden fears.

A second later, the door to the backroom slammed open and Michael stormed in with a stone faced Kyle trailing after him. Evidently, he didn't need his powers to realize something was really off to put that expression on Michael's face.

"Iz?" Michael's hands went to her face and she felt him deliberately lift her up and as their eyes met, Michael used their ability to talk without being overheard.

'What's wrong? I felt something horrible, but it was too vague for me to get a handle on. Is it Max?'

Isabel nodded, her tongue suddenly too dry to function properly as her very imaginative mind began assaulting her with unbearable images of what had made her proud brother plea like that.

'He's in trouble Michael,' she sent back even as her mouth gasped out the same words audibly.

Isabel didn't let Maria's confused, and Kyle's more relevant questions bother her, nor did she acknowledge Michael's continued attempts at probing into her mind, she was busy being consumed with pure, unadulterated fear for Max. And then, Michael was pushed away as familiar cool hands settled on her face in much the same way, Michael's had been only seconds before.

"Breathe Isabel," Alex's soothing voice echoed all around her, chasing away the mocking fantasies that kept on trying to drown her senses to drag her down fully into despair. "Breathe!"

Only then, did the beautiful hybrid realize that she'd forgotten all about breathing in her desperate state of mind and she took in a lungful of air with a gasp.

Isabel calmed a fraction and locked eyes with the one human she loved above any reason, considering he'd been killed so early on in their previous life. Alex's eyes were dark with worry and his own concern for her and she tried with all her might to send some semblance of cautious calm through their connection, but to her surprise, Alex frowned with frustration and shook his head.

"Don't try to calm me down like an upset kid," he ordered, forcing his own anger back at her and she blinked as something seemed to burst like a bubble within him and a moment later, she was hit with a wave of his emotions that went way over the normal standard and then everything turned blissfully dark.

Maria's POV

The second that Isabel bowled backwards, looking for all the world like she'd just croaked, all hell broke loose.

Michael growled and within the span of two seconds, Kyle had slammed Alex into the small cluster of lockers that stood up against the wall into the diner. "What the fuck did you just do?" Michael's voice was guttural with rage and his eyes were narrowed ominously in a way that really shouldn't be sending pleasant tingles down her back.

Kyle stood right by the angry hybrid's side and that left Maria to take care of the downed female left unnoticed on the floor. She looks really pale, Maria observed, automatically checking to see if she'd sustained any bumps on the head since Alex had been removed so fast that he'd barely managed to stop the girl's fall. She seemed like something terrible happened and I really hope it's not something too horrible to any of us

Maria breathed a small sigh of relief when Isabel's eyes began to flutter in the next moment, realizing that she'd been more scared than she cared to admit. Who'd have guessed I'd be starting to see Queen Amidala as my friend?

Isabel's eyes slowly opened and the look in them touched something within Maria, it was soft and full of joy at seeing her, and then in their next breath, Isabel's eyes widened as everything seemed to crash into her all at once. Another breath and a quick look over Maria's shoulder and Isabel was jumping to her feet and sent Kyle and Michael stumbling into the opposite wall with one raised hand. "what the heck are you two doing?" she hissed, stepping in front of a pale faced Alex, who looked immensely relieved at seeing her, not only wide awake and a whole lot less panicky, but angry and ready to protect him from the two angry males, who were busy straightening back up after her unexpected attack.

"He hurt you!" Kyle said, looking eager to get back into the fray, but Isabel's glare stopped him cold, just as it did Michael, who was not trying to avoid the disappointed look that Maria was sending him.

"He was comforting me," Isabel stated coldly and walked backwards a few steps to be within touching distance from the still shaken looking Alex, "he'd never hurt me and you two should know better than anybody!"

Maria rolled her eyes mentally; here they go again with their secrets and coded messages. I swear someday I'll-

She was pulled out of her bitter planning when she heard that they were now in the middle of discussing what to do and how to find Max. Huh, Maria realized with a start, seems like I was out a lot longer than I thought.

"-find him if we don't go out and look for him!" Isabel whisper yelled, trying not to gain attention from Jeff Parker, who'd just walked by the door on his way to the kitchen apparently.

Michael ran a hand through his shaggy hair, "it's no use, if that worked we'd have found him when Khi-"

"Kids tried to bully him, right?" Kyle interjected quickly, sending a look at Maria and Alex, who in turn shared their own look. Obviously that hadn't been what Michael had been about to say. Too tired to protest any more, Maria pretended that she hadn't heard and just kept listening in on the more and more absurd suggestions at locating Max.

A few minutes later, Maria had had just about enough of being ignored and raised her hand pompously, and started speaking coolly to the others. "I realize that as a lowly human I couldn't possibly add to this oh-so-productive conversation that's been going on these last few moments, but," here Maria's glance went to Kyle, who seemed to wilt under the quick glare, "since Valenti here is allowed to speak up amongst the so-called-cool crowd, I'm gonna speak too. Any of you ever thought about grabbing Liz?"

At the looks of confusion, Maria barely managed to force back her eye roll. "Does Liz, or does she not, share a huge bond with the missing Max? Couldn't she be the key to locating him since she's probably curled up in a ball right now, feeling confused and scared out of her intelligent little mind? Just a suggestion…"

The looks that Isabel, Michael and Kyle shared would've earned a proud chuckle from Maria if she wasn't feeling so tense at that point in time. They looked like they'd been slapped in the head with a brick for only one moment longer, before Kyle spun around and led the way upstairs to the Parker's apartment.

Maria grabbed Alex's arm and followed suit, not needing a mirror to know she had a very determined look on her face. They're not leaving us out of this anymore, I'm sick of it!

As soon as she stepped into Liz's room and saw the frozen trio in there, looking confused as to why the clever brunette weren't there since they needed her, Maria got a bad feeling. She walked past the other people and started looking around.

"Where's Liz?" Michael asked, looking at the clearly unoccupied bed as if she'd magically appear if he stared at it long enough.

"Mr. Parker just said she wanted a night off," Isabel muttered, glancing out of the open window to see if maybe the girl was sleeping on the small terrace.

"She left earlier," of all people, it was Alex, who seemed to know something and Maria was the first by his side as he continued quietly, "I saw her leave and asked her what she was up to. She said she was going to do some research for some biology project she was working on, which I thought was weird since we don't have a project right now, but it's not unusual for Liz to want to work ahead so I just thought that she-"

"Thanks Alex," Kyle interrupted, smiling a bit guiltily at him, finally seeming to realize that he'd actually crossed a pretty big line when he'd attacked Alex earlier.

"It's clearly a lie," Maria stated even as she started walking around with the air of someone who was used to spend time in Liz's neat room. "She's up to something and I've got this weird feeling that it's got something to do with Max."

At the mention of Max's name, the tension came crashing back into room and Maria stepped out the window, following a part of her that told her to do so even as she made sure to take in every little detail of the space before her.

There was a niggling feeling of déjà vu inside of her and Maria had a brief flash of a weary looking Liz talking about a hidden journal, before she found herself standing in front of the place where she just knew there was a loose brick and before she hesitated enough to talk herself out of acting on it, Maria reached out and a moment later, she was standing with a bulging, brown journal in her hands.

Immediately, Maria opened it up to the last page and gasped at what she found written in hurried scribble.

-I don't know why I feel so odd about this, but something's telling me that Max and the others aren't telling me everything. I feel like there's this compulsion on me to find out as much as I can, since it's obvious that no one is willing to tell me or Maria or Alex anything. So, I'm going to hide in Max's Jeep as soon as I finish this entry. Hopefully it'll bring me some clarity, something that I feel that I've been missing since that day where he brought me back to life

"What does it say?"

Michael's murmur next to her, startled Maria and she closed the journal with a snap. Every word that Liz had written resonated within Maria; she felt exactly the same and it was only the right opportunity that had given Liz the chance to act first.

"She's with Max," Maria decided that was the least worrying aspect of what she'd just discovered, but as soon as the words left her mouth, Michael paled drastically and looked over at the window where Isabel stood watching them with worried eyes.

Okay, I may not have been right about that, Maria thought, biting her lower lip with increasing worry as true fear bowled into her from Michael's side. Evidently he'd forgotten to monitor their bond for the time being.

"He's with Pierce then," Maria heard Kyle mutter from behind Isabel. Judging from the flinch the unknown name brought forth in all the Czechoslovakians – and Kyle – Maria figured that whoever Pierce was, it wasn't a nice person.

"Do you think…?" Michael began, before looking briefly down at Maria, who finally exploded.

"Hold up!" She screeched, holding up a hand to make her point, "If this Pierce person is bad, I deserve to know everything and so does Alex! Right, Alex?" she looked beseechingly over at Alex, who stood quietly in the back.

"Calm down," Isabel softly said, but it only served to incite Maria's rage even more.

"No, I won't calm down! Now talk before I start screaming my head off."

Kyle looked like he didn't really know whether to scowl or smile, so Maria sent him a sneer that quickly brought an end to any expression on the young man.

"For Heaven's sake, Michael," Isabel finally exclaimed, her hand massaging her temples wearily, "tell her something so we can get on with saving Max and Liz from that monster."

Michael sighed and then took a deep breath before he launched into a story about how this Pierce guy was the slightly dopey Deputy Fisher in disguise – something that really freaked Maria out, considering her mom had flirted quite severely with the guy just the other day.

"-and now he's somehow managed to get a hold of not only Max but Liz as well. There's no doubt that he's hurting them." Michael trailed off quietly, seeming to expect an explosion of epic proportions from her.

Well, he's gonna be disappointed, Maria thought even as she was battling herself to keep from doing just as everyone expected from her. If Pierce hurts one hair on her head, I'm gonna kill him. No, I'm gonna sick my mom on him and then I'll sit back and watch the real agony begin!

"Maria?" Alex's whisper of her name brought the admittedly dramatic girl back to her senses and she looked up at her tall childhood friend. He smiled briefly and nodded over at the trio, who were busy muttering amongst themselves. "They're gonna go after them. It seems like they know where this secret base is, so…Anyway, we're supposed to stay behind."

"No way!" The words left her lips before she'd even fully formed the words mentally, and within a span of two seconds, Maria had placed herself firmly in front on Liz's window to keep them all from leaving. The startled looks she was receiving didn't deter her in the least. "You're not going anywhere without me!"

Michael's sigh of frustration was nothing compared to the small burst that rushed from his end of the bond to hers, but it only managed to increase Maria's stubborn streak. "Maria, be reasonable; it's too dangerous to come with us. You're only hu…" he stopped short and Maria laughed a cold laugh that seemed to have an effect on not only him, but the others as well.

"Only human, you mean." Maria said after she'd caught her breath. Then she looked over at Kyle, who actually refused to meet her gaze and instead, Maria looked back up the guy she had some very strong feelings for. "I'm not the only human that's going with you. Again it seems like Kyle's got a free pass to tag along even though he's just as pathetically human as I am."

"That's not what I meant," Michael objected, taking a small step forward only to stop dead the moment that he realized that Maria stepped backwards at his advancement. "Maria, it's too dangerous; I couldn't live with you getting hurt. It'd kill me more than anything else could. I love you."

Maria huffed; trying not to think too much about the pleasant feeling his words awoke inside of her. "Right now, you've got a funny way of showing it. If Kyle goes, I go, it's as simple as that; no," Maria continued after one more quick look of disgust in Kyle's direction, "screw that; I'm going no matter what!"

"Stop acting like a child! I'm not letting you go anywhere!" Michael roared, at the end of his rope and he walked closer with thin lips and an angry expression on his face that actually managed to make Maria a little bit nervous.

Before she listened too much to the more rational part of her, Maria's hand had moved and the sound of the slap she'd just given Michael echoed in the sudden silence. No one moved for a long moment, and Maria forced back the feeling of regret she'd had the instant her hand had connected with his skin.

"You may not trust this lonely overly dramatic human," Maria glanced harshly over at Kyle and Isabel before she continued, looking Michael straight in the eye, "but Liz is my best friend and I'll be damned if I don't help save her. She's been there for me more than anybody else and despite my feelings for you, I'm not gonna obey you like some little scared girl. I'll do just what she'd do for me. I'll grab Alex and follow you in the Jetta, because I know he's just as willing to save his friend as you are to save yours. Right, Alex?"

Alex nodded and stepped up next to her, not even speaking but his meaning was clear. He was going too.

Michael looked down at her for one long beat of silence; the mark from her fingers on his cheek almost glowing in the light from Liz's room, but Maria refused to feel guilty. She refused! Then, Michael broke their stare to look over at Isabel and Kyle and Maria bit her lip again. If he's gonna do some Czechoslovakian mumbo jumbo on me, I'll never forgive him…

Michael sighed heavily and looked down at the ground after another brief, tense pause, looking as though his world was crumbling around him. Isabel sent him an understanding look, glanced up at Alex with a look of confusion in her gaze before finally focusing on Maria, who still didn't know what was gonna happen.

"Can you get your mom's car without raising any suspicion? We'll need it for where we're going…All of us."

Maria barely held back a childish whoop of triumph as she nodded eagerly and it didn't take long before they were all seated in her mom's beat up car. Hang on Liz, Maria thought, speeding out of Roswell after pausing long enough to pick up a bewildered, but willing to help Tess, hoping that none of Kyle's father's deputies were out on the prowl that night, we're coming. Just please hang on

Pierce's POV

"This must be what it feels like when a child gets his most anticipated wish and realizes that it's just not as good as it's supposed to be." Pierce said, not taking his gaze from the sight in front of him.

The sight being Max Evans, or whatever name he went under since that obviously couldn't be his real name given his origins, strung up by chains from the ceiling of the White Room, undergoing what in layman's terms was called torture.

Although, Pierce thought with an inwardly grimace, that is such a crude word.

The woman next to him shuddered almost unnoticeable, but Pierce didn't let on that he'd caught it. After all, it's not that long ago she was the one all but living in that room, he thought, this time allowing a small, satisfied smirk to sit on his lips. He could allow himself to be gracious in his victory.

"I have the files you asked for Sir," she stated, handing him a bunch of papers with that slight tremor in her fingers that she hadn't been able to lose since said visit in the White Room.

"Thank you, Kathleen," Pierce took the files with a small smile and briefly looked through the one on the top, labeled Isabel Evans. It barely took a minute for him to realize that there really wasn't a lot to go on. He looked back up at Kathleen, who was trying her best not to look affected by the sight of Max's torso being cut with scalpels.

"This can't be all there is. Are the other files just as unsatisfactory? I thought you knew better than to let me down like this."

Kathleen gulped. "I did my best Sir, but since that Nasedo character took me, I really didn't have a lot of time to-"

"Spare me the excuses, Agent Topolsky," Pierce didn't sneer, but it was pretty close. To cheer himself up, he looked back at Max. A little while later, he felt at ease again and set down the files on a nearby table. "How are things progressing with Miss Parker?"

It was as if the thing acting like Max Evans could actually hear him, because as soon as Pierce spoke Liz's name, he looked up from his stare at the white floor and right into Pierce's eyes, completely disregarding the white clad doctor, who was busy running a razor sharp scalpel down his torso for the tenth time.

The blood gushed out and it was obvious that the perturbed human wasn't completely happy with his victim being so calm and collected and had cut just a little deeper than was perfectly necessary.

Max's eyes were dark, almost black and the lack of any expression on his face actually managed to send something akin to a shiver down the back of Pierce's spine, but he shook it off, not willing to let his momentary weakness be seen even though it was impossible for the captured alien to see him behind the glass.

I'm the winner here, Pierce thought vindictively as he straightened himself up.

"Sir," Kathleen's voice brought him back to the here and now and he looked at her, trying not to let his unsettlement of Max's behavior show on his face. "Liz Parker is just a child compared to that one in there; she's hurt and in a lot of pain and I…Honestly, Sir, I mean no disrespect, but I can't see the benefit of torturing Liz."

Pierce smirked and slowly looked back at Max, narrowing his eyes when he saw that the alien hadn't moved his head an inch. Unable to take that attitude anymore, he reached out and pressed a button. There was a pause inside the White Room and the man, who'd been calmly taking his so called care of Max, stopped immediately and looked over at the place where he knew his superior, was standing.

"Take a break and go focus on the female." The effect of those words was instant; and not entirely what Pierce had expected.

Max stiffened and his already dark eyes darkened even more and the snarl on his lips made him look almost feral; his fingers clenched in his bindings and as if in slow motion Max somehow managed to rip through them, cutting up his wrist with no regard for his personal safety and all of that happened even though it was supposed to be impossible – the first thing Pierce had had done was inject Max with the power suppressing serum that they'd developed during their experiments on the original aliens in their possession.

Pierce had only just pressed the alarm button when Max had unceremoniously snapped the neck of the middle aged man, who'd been delighting in his pain for the last several hours and as four suit wearing agents stormed inside the White Room to subdue him, Max's head was turned towards where Pierce was still standing immobile, somehow paralyzed by the pure hate poured out of those dark eyes.

"If you lay one more finger on her, I will kill you in the most hideous way imaginable," Max growled even as three of the agents kept beating on his already abused body. It was as if he didn't feel any of it as he continued threateningly, "and I've got a lot of imagination – just ask your Agent Topolsky."

Finally, the fourth agent had determined, just as everyone else, that beating Max Evans into submission was a dead end and took out his personal tazer that was issued to all federal agents and planted it straight into Max's throat. The insane looking alien teenager dropped like a sack of potatoes, thrashing violently in the process.

Not admitting it out loud, Pierce silently enjoyed the view for a few more moments before turning back to an extremely pale looking Kathleen. "Now that is taken care of, I will let you go in search of our departed doctor's second in command to take over his responsibilities. I'm sure he's just as inventive as his predecessor."

"Sir…What about Liz Parker?" Kathleen's voice stopped him just as he reached the door to the hallway.

Smiling slightly, Pierce turned around and said calmly, "I'll handle the little Miss Parker in the interim, don't you worry, Agent Topolsky."

With one final nod, the Special Unit's leader made his way down the hall and stopped in front of the guarded door where he knew he'd find Liz Parker, chained to one of the interrogation chairs; her broken arm still uncared for simply due to the spiteful part of Pierce. As long as Max Evans wasn't cooperating, she wouldn't be getting any medical help.

Besides, he thought running a hand through his already smooth hair, making sure his attire was as flawless as always, it's not like she won't be needing it again later anyway if Max keeps beings so self-centered.

Just as he reached out to open the door, nodding briefly at the guard standing at attention next to it, Pierce was suddenly filled with the memory of Max's guttural threat; "if you lay one more finger on her, I will kill you in the most hideous way imaginable."

It took a little while, but eventually Pierce fought down the unexpected quiver those words brought him and he took a deep breath and entered the room with one thought only.

I'm not going to let that creature intimidate me; I'm the master in this scenario.

0o0o0

Pierce exited Liz Parker's holding cell with a mix between a satisfied and weary sigh. He wasn't entirely happy about having to curb his natural tendency to go all out on the obviously brainwashed girl, who'd turned traitor to her race, but he had enjoyed using all of his abilities to hit her where it hurt most; her mind.

Looking down at the device in his hand, Pierce smirked slightly; it was a fairly new invention, which looked like a more technical version of a virtual reality helmet for computer gaming systems. It had been an instant hit in the Interrogation Units across the country – at least in those divisions that were enough in the dark to justify scaring the life out of their hostages, Pierce thought, handing the device to the stone faced guard by the door.

As he slowly made his way back to the White Room to see how much Max had come to realize that actions really had severe consequences, Pierce thought back on the hour he'd spent with Liz Parker. First, she'd been crying and begging for help, mercy, anything really, but it hadn't lasted very long.

In fact, Pierce thought, placing his hand on the scanner by the entrance into that section of the base that held the White Room, she seemed to grow a spine surprisingly fast. These kids may be traitors and alien scum, but they sure do have guts.

The image of Liz's tear stained face as he'd removed the device from her head that had just shown her violent images of all of her friends and family dying, came to the agent's mind as he finally reached his destination. He ignored the small part of him that had repressed a shudder as Liz had spat at his feet and said just one thing.

"I can feel Max right now and no matter what's going to happen with us, he's going to make you hurt more than us; mark my words."

The certainty in the exhausted teenager's voice and eyes had hit something inside of the older man, but he'd shaken it off and slapped her hard, cracking her lip in the process.

"Sir," an agent stopped in front of him, looking a bit bemused as to why Pierce was just standing frozen in front of the White Room, "the hostile woke pretty soon after you left and no matter what we've done, he's shaken it off…except…" The younger agent trailed off and only continued when Pierce raised an eyebrow in question, "except for about ten minutes ago; he started roaring like some sort of animal and once again managed to get one hand free from his bindings despite it being broken. We subdued him with tranquilizers, but Agent Stevenson will need medical leave. I have to admit I'm confused as to why the serum isn't having much of an effect."

Ten minutes ago, Pierce frowned, looking down at his right hand, it was around that time I struck Liz. Can he somehow feel how she's been treated? The very idea seemed preposterous to the logical agent, but then he once more heard Liz's hoarse voice in his head.

"I can feel Max right now and no matter what's going to happen with us, he's going to make you hurt more than us; mark my words."

"I have no doubt that the serum is merely taking a bit longer to work on him than the original batch due to his human DNA," Pierce changed the subject, since he really hated not knowing all the answers. "How is the hostile doing now?" Pierce managed to force down the small shudder that had somehow escaped him and looked his subordinate straight into the eyes, giving none of his personal feelings away.

"He's somehow still awake and keep on muttering, "you promised," whenever he sees Agent Topolsky in the room. We had to send her away after the third time due to her still fragile emotional state." There was a small tone of disapproval in the younger man's voice; evidently, he wasn't approving of Pierce's decision to clear Kathleen for active duty after the last few months she'd had.

"Well, let's go in and see if we can't get the young man to think of something else than my agents." Pierce said and entered the White Room, enjoying the sight of the clearly injured alien for a second, before realizing with a start that the subject still wasn't even remotely broken.

Max Evans was glaring with cold eyes at him and once more it was like an invisible grip was taking hold of him and choking him. No human would ever look so dangerous, Pierce thought, forcing his feet to keep moving forward with a bit of an internal struggle that fortunately wasn't visible to the naked eye.

"Really Max, if you still have energy to pout like that, you should've let my men take more care of you." Pierce gestured to some of the cautious looking medics in the room, who approached the silent Max with hesitation as if he was a wild animal.

I'm not scared of you, Pierce thought out to the deceptively looking teen, I'm just protecting my country and I will break you. He rolled up his sleeves as he decided to get more involved in the process himself. A moment later, the White Room echoed with the sounds of knuckles hitting skin, but it didn't quite soothe the unnerved part of Pierce, since Max Evans never once broke eye contact during the violent treatment. It was like the young man was just waiting for an opportunity to strike out once more, like a patient rattlesnake.

I'm not going to be afraid of you!

Michael's POV

Maria was ignoring him and staring straight ahead as she drove towards the destination that Michael had told her to in an admittedly grouchy tone of voice. For once, it didn't hurt him since he too was busy ignoring her. At least on the outside

I can't believe she can't understand how dangerous this is gonna get, Michael fumed as he mentally prepared himself for battle once more. I wish she wasn't so God damned stubborn!

Isabel sent her own looks at a silent Alex, who was rubbing his temples in what appeared to be a splitting headache and Michael tried calming down a little. It's not like I'm the only one with someone to lose on the line, he mused. The thought of Max and Liz entered his mind and his fists clenched automatically. It dawned on the large hybrid that despite his frustration with Maria, at least she was still safe and sound by his side.

It must be hell on Max right now, Michael sympathized with an internal wince, going through all of what we've already done only to have Liz targeted. If something like that happened to Maria… The very idea sent shivers of pure fear through him and he noticed Maria flinch and look back at him briefly. It would seem that he'd been broadcasting a little too clearly through their connection.

Michael didn't get a lot more time to worry about anything, because in the next minute, they reached the hidden base at long last. He and Isabel had already gone over what they knew about the place, skimming over the part of just where they'd learned all of their knowledge and they'd planned to split into two groups to decrease the chances of getting caught before they'd rescued Max and Liz.

Tess, Kyle, and Alex went in search for Liz while Michael, Isabel and Maria went to go find Max. Being back in the place where a lot of things had started made Michael feel incredibly old all of the sudden. He glanced behind him and saw that Isabel was taking up the back, covering them in case of difficulties. She too was in combat mode and looked ready to do some serious damage. It seemed like old times in more ways than one, Michael reminisced uncomfortably. Except, the Maria I knew didn't walk down the hall muttering, 'I'm so so so screwed', whenever we infiltrated enemy compounds

Before too long, Michael spotted that infernal scanner that had caused him so much trouble once before and he quickly hand signaled Isabel to keep Maria safe as he quickly changed his clothes into a black suit and slicked his hair back. A moment later, he was through the scanner easily since he wasn't really as inexperienced as he looked anymore and had, without any reservations whatsoever, killed the guards standing there. After disposing of the bodies by using some disintegrating technique that Sydney had taught him to master one memorable birthday, Michael signaled for the girls to rejoin him.

Fortunately, Maria hadn't seen the killing, focusing only on not getting caught by other errant guards that inevitably would have to arrive at some point, so Michael let out a breath of relief he didn't know he'd been holding. He wasn't sorry about the deaths he'd just caused per say, having been in the same situation too many times before to keep being merciful, but he'd hate it if Maria started fearing the darker side of him before she understood everything.

"Do you remember the way?" Isabel asked, still looking around for any potential threat. Michael nodded and quickly took point and did his best to shield the love of his life, who was now starting to get over her paralyzing fear and focus on her surroundings a bit more.

"There it is," Michael pointed at the door in the distance, where one other guard was posted. He was sitting by a chair, looking completely bored. Michael briefly felt for the unknown guy, considering his own experience of being a security guard, but he squashed it when he remembered the little fact that said guard quite possibly had been involved with Max's capture.

"Hello there," Michael sauntered up to the surprised agent, "we're a little lost and were wondering if- Okay, no need to get hasty." The agent had jumped to his feet and begun reaching for either his gun or his communication device to call for backup and Michael quickly sent out a small version of the blast that Tess had taught him, knocking the man unconscious in an instant.

"He's in there," Michael gestured to the door as he quickly bent down and took out the gun that the agent had been carrying and the communication device, which he switched off just in case.

Maria immediately went for the door, but Isabel was faster, shoving her out of the way with a small glare. "Think, Maria." She hissed quietly, "Max is being held captive in there, there's no way they're not armed."

Maria bit her lip, looking a little sheepish, but then stepped back so the two hybrids could handle the next part of the plan.

Isabel calmly opened the door with the key card that Michael handed her which he'd swiped from the still unconscious guard. The sight that met his eyes sent a hated image through his mind of the last time his leader and best friend had looked so thoroughly injured and it was obvious from the quick sight of Max's dark eyes and expressionless face that he'd retreated into that part of himself that no one who'd seen it before ever wanted to experience again.

"Fuck," the curse was whispered, but it still caught the attention of everyone in the White Room, including the man that had been the first man that Michael ever killed.

"Seize them!" Pierce ordered, looking remarkably nothing like his usual calm and collected self. Michael spared a brief smirk at the visual. I guess Maxwell got under the pretty boy's skin more so than last time around.

Soon after that thought had entered his mind, all deliberation fled his mind as struggles began breaking out all around him and Michael was busy trying to protect Maria, who somehow seemed to think that just because she was present meant that she had to participate in the whole thing by kicking some guy's shin and private area just like she'd done to him that one time.

Isabel managed to get to Max and released him from his bindings even as she lashed out and sent out a vicious pulse of raw energy that fried one of the medic's right where he was standing. Michael spotted another operative sneak up on her while she was distracted and turned to take care of him with one quick blast that sent the guy slamming into the opposite wall.

Then everything seemed to stop as Michael saw Maria move impossibly fast out of the corner of his eye towards Pierce, who'd raised his gun towards Michael when he'd been distracted and the next thing Michael knew was the phantom burning sensation exploding inside his chest even as he watched Maria slide slowly down to the floor, clutching her chest with a wide eyed look of confusion on her face.

"MARIA!"

Michael lost it and wave after wave of agony, fear and hate enveloped his very core as he ran towards her, trying to catch her before she slammed her head into the floor. All around him, a blistering heat erupted, sending the one remaining human screaming out the door with bursting blisters all over his skin, only to be shot in the head by someone from the hallway. Pierce was already lying dead on the ground with a shocked expression on his face, but Michael didn't care about any of that right then.

It would seem that backup had arrived, but it was too late; much too late.

Michael wept and screamed even as the usually so vibrant bond that tied him to the one person he didn't want to live without again began dimming at a rapid pace. "Please, Baby, please stay with me," he pleaded over and over again, completely blind to what was happening around him.

He heard a throaty scream that wasn't his own, but took no real notice of it as Maria's gasping breaths turned more and more shallow with every intake of breath; a trail of blood ran down her chin from her mouth and further down onto his hands that were cradling her head as gently as he could. "Please Maria; don't do this to me now, not after all this, please…"

Suddenly, there were hands trying to separate him from his wife and Michael went ballistic. There was no room for rational thought when someone wanted to take his reason for being away from him. He growled and lashed out with another burst of blistering heat, until eventually someone simply pushed him off of Maria, smashing him into the ground.

The next thing Michael knew, he was being forcibly held down by a frantic looking Kyle and Alex, who looked like he wanted to puke. His eyes weren't on them for more than a few seconds before they found Maria again, barely noticing that an injured looking Liz was standing by the door being held up by Kathleen Topolsky and Tess as they all watched the dying Maria.

She was lying on the floor, still gasping violently in an attempt to stay alive and Max was leaning over her. Michael couldn't see what exactly took place, but he felt the ripples in the air that signaled the use of some pretty powerful healing. It shouldn't be possible, Michael thought as he weakly tried getting loose from his holders, if he's been injected like the last time, Max shouldn't be able to use any powers… Then Michael vaguely recalled how Max had forced them all to undergo training in suppressing the serum one long month so very long ago, in a desperate attempt of getting the upper hand against Khivar's forces. No one had really succeeded in their task, so that's why Michael was completely shocked at what was happening.

Even if he's managed somehow, he thought, not even daring to blink as Max's bloodied back trembled in front of him, obscuring any real view of what was happening; he's exhausted and hurt. He can't heal her as well as he could if he was healthy…

Never before had Michael lamented his own lack of ability with healing someone; he fervently prayed for a miracle and despite his disbelief, it seemed like Max was coming through for him regardless of his own obvious wounds.

He knew it'd worked even before Maria whispered his name underneath Max; he'd felt their bond thrumming to life with a burst of adrenaline rush that gave him the strength to shake off Kyle and Alex's hold on him and crawl towards Maria.

"Baby?" he whispered, unashamedly weeping at the sight of the nonexistent bullet hole in her chest that the massive quantities of blood couldn't hide. "Maria…"

Before Michael could take Maria in his arms, Max straightened up and shook his head with a familiar look on his pale face. It was only Michael's quick reaction that caught the dark-haired hybrid before he tilted backwards with a moan of Liz's name on his bloodless lips.

0o0o0

"So can I look forward to antennas or a third eye or something now?" The question came from a sleepy Maria, who was cuddled up into his arms as Kyle drove them back to Roswell. Isabel was driving behind them in Kathleen's car with Alex, Liz, Max and Tess.

"We'll talk about it later," Michael murmured soothingly, taking a firmer grip on her as she succumbed to sleep.

Michael sighed and looked back up, not looking back at the sight they'd left behind as they fled. Isabel had completely demolished the base after spending a little time in Pierce's office with Kathleen.

The first thing Michael had wanted to do after they'd placed a comatose Max in Liz's lap in the Jetta and he'd hugged Maria, was to go after the weary agent, who'd obviously sold them all out for her own life. But after some real hasty explanation on Kyle's part, it seemed like the agent had actually been working with Max the entire time. She'd apparently told him everything when they'd found her trying to free Liz after killing the guard.

"She agreed to hold out under torture as long as she could, before pretending to betray us to Pierce. She was supposed to work her way back into his good side and ruin the Special Unit from within, since we don't have Nasedo to do it for us." Kyle had smiled ruefully, "it would've worked too if Liz hadn't hid herself in Max's Jeep and blown the plan to bits."

Michael frowned as he glanced over at the quietly shivering agent, who sat next to him with a lost expression on her face. She did all of that for us and then Max went and got himself caught, she really must hate us all more than anyone right now.

In the end, Kathleen had taken Isabel to every computer and file cabinet in the place so she could melt them to oblivion before she torched the place to the ground. They decided to trust that the former undercover counselor was telling them the truth when she swore that no Intel about Max's captivity had been sent out before they'd showed up. Evidently, Pierce had wanted to experiment a bit on Max before alerting his superiors.

At least we got Pierce and ruined the base before that Skin lady could worm her way in, Michael thought, planting a soft kiss on Maria's brow. No matter what happens next, we're still on top compared to what happened last time in my book

A little while later, both cars pulled into Tess' driveway and with a little effort they managed to get Max safely inside under the cover of darkness and then they all just fell into the nearest seat available, ready to take a much needed break from everything.

Michael took Maria to one of the unused guest bedrooms and quickly managed to manipulate some towels into bed sheets before lying down next to her still sleeping form with a sigh of contentment. He decided to worry about Max's state, about the possible repercussions of their actions the next day and just closed his eyes to get some hard earned sleep.

He smiled, already halfway sleeping when he felt Maria scooting closer to him with her own sigh of satisfaction.

TBC
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maipigen
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Re: The Antarian Timetravellers TEEN/MATURE CC A/N 05/10/12

Post by maipigen » Mon May 21, 2012 5:05 am

First off, I wanted to thank you all for nominating and voting for my story since I ended up winning quite a few things. I'm so happy you keep on enjoying my not so little tale! Second of all, sorry for the wait, I can honestly say that you won't believe what I've been through lately, but that I'm back on my feet and hoping to write more soon . We'll see. Now, I hope you'll enjoy this chapter!

Timelord31: :) So thrilled you keep liking it!
jake17: Thanks Carrie, but my writing is nothing compared to yours, you know how I feel about that:)
janetfl: Glad you liked it. I'm only touching some of the characters in this chapter -or else it would've never ended. I'll get to the others in the next one, promise;)
Earth2Mama: Yes Maria had powers originally. As for Kathleen she'll get her HEA ending in this chapter...I hope. Thanks for the well wishes in my later post as well!
begonia9508: Lol, loved your Maria description:D Suits her, doesn't it:D
jojotheorange: Thank you!
keepsmiling7: Sorry it was hard for you, I tried toning down the gore, but glad you liked it regardless!
nibbles2: Well, it's hard telling them, so not quite there yet sorry. As for the thing about the memories, yeah, Kyle's situation is a little different than the others.
marymary: Liked your summary and you're not wrong:)
cjsl8ne: :D Yeah, Liz will have to live with her pain for a little bit sadly. Glad you liked the chapter!
Avalonrose: Thanks! As for your question...(hehe)...

Last time on TATT: The gang rescues Max and Liz from their torture; Maria gets shot and then saved. Pierce finally died and the Special Unit was completely destroyed.


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CHAPTER TWENTYFIVE

Maria's POV

Maria stood next to a pale Liz, who was busy letting her parents fawn all over her and her broken arm. The Parker's had dropped whatever they'd been doing as soon as Liz made her way into the Crashdown with Maria and Alex trailing after her.

Maria stood silently by as Liz once again muttered their hastily made pre-planned story to her worried parents. "It was just a bad fall, you guys. It wasn't anything serious and Maria and Alex already took me to the hospital and I'm fine now. I just didn't want to go to school today though."

The tone was surprisingly lively and Maria was secretly impressed by her best friend's ability to lie, but unlike the Parkers, who immediately agreed that school was too strenuous that day, she recognized the subtle signs that Liz couldn't quite hide. Are you really as fine as you say you are Liz? You've been so quiet ever since we got to you; you just sat there in your own little world, not even noticing that the boy you're having feelings for was desperate to touch you.

The memory of Max's none too subtle attempts at staying near Liz at the breakfast table that Tess and Isabel had prepared when Maria stumbled out of the bed she'd shared with Michael, flashed through her mind and that inevitably caused her to remember everything that had happened and how it culminated with the abrupt pain in her chest and the panic she'd barely kept from sending out to Michael.

The hot blood gushing out of her without any resistance, the tears burning her cheeks as they slid uncontrollably down her skin, the growing desperation that she just couldn't seem to see the boy screaming out her name so intensely….

No, Maria shook her head and forced that particular incident out of her head, Max saved me and that's that. Stop thinking about it!

It took a little effort, but eventually Maria did what she did best; turned her ministrations into being a good friend instead of dealing with her own feelings. She followed a silent Liz up to her bedroom and as if they'd agreed already, both girls went into Liz's bathroom and got ready for a day of girl time.

They'd already called in sick at school when they'd woken up in Tess' place, and Mr. Parker had straight away called in two of his rarely used waitress' and more or less ordered Agnes in as well. Maria mentally snorted when she recalled the pale taint of the man's skin as he stuttered through that particular conversation before she put on one of Liz's pajamas and followed her best friend into her big bed where they proceeded to just lie silently next to each other.

Maria turned her head and found Liz staring unblinkingly up at her ceiling and the unfamiliar look in the other girl's usually so lively eyes caused Maria to reach out and clasp Liz's hand in hers, giving it a gentle squeeze. "It's gonna be okay," she whispered.

Liz turned her head as well and met Maria's gaze softly, "Don't worry about me, Maria. I'm just trying to get it all right in my head for now. I should be concerned about you instead; you haven't exactly had the greatest couple of days yourself." At the end of the sentence, Liz's voice turned hoarse and her eyes swelled with tears.

"I could've lost my best friend and it would've all been my fault. I'm so sorry Maria!"

Next thing she knew, Liz had wrapped her arms around her and was all but sobbing into her neck. That more than anything broke Maria's steely resolve not to ponder about everything too much and soon the burning in her eyes had transformed into big, tears as well.

"Is this a private party or can anyone join?" Alex's voice startled the two girls and Maria sat up, still crying violently.

Liz's state of mind was still all over the place, because she instantly started apologizing to him as well and Maria just patted the bed and re-clasped Liz's trembling hand – a little afraid of the brunette's emotions seeing as Liz had never been the most emotionally driven girl in their relationship. "There's always room for you, you know that."

Ten minutes later, Alex had donned a pair of his sweats and a T-shirt that he had stashed in Liz's closet since this sleepover was far from the first one they'd ever participated in together.

With Alex there, Maria felt more at ease for some reason. He'd laid down in the bed with Liz still weeping and Maria hadn't been able to stop either and a few moments went by before Maria felt his calm envelope her like a blanket and she felt safe like she hadn't felt since getting out of the bed she'd shared with Michael that morning.

"We're gonna get through this," she muttered lowly as she gradually succumbed to an exhaustion that didn't feel completely natural, "as long as we're all okay, we're gonna make it through this."

Alex and a now much calmer Liz murmured their agreement sleepily and before she knew it, Maria fell into a peaceful slumber despite the fact that it was barely noon.

Tess' POV

Fear, anger, desperation and hate churned in her gut and made her react instinctively. His fear and hate burned itself into her as she somehow reached out and- NO!

Tess gasped as she jumped upwards from the couch where she'd managed to fall asleep after everyone had filed out of her house more or less awake earlier this, Tess glanced at the clock on the wall and grimaced, well, earlier this morning.

Judging from the dusk settling outside her living room window, she'd been asleep a lot longer than she'd anticipated and she wasn't surprised to feel the pain in her neck when she straightened her spine as she stood up fully.

The nightmarish dream came back to her as she wandered from the living room and into the kitchen to make herself a snack. She'd been dreaming about what had happened when she'd run into that hellish white room that had probably seen more blood than most prisons put together.

Pierce had just shot Maria and was re-aiming when Tess had let rage engulf her in a way she'd seldom, if ever, had experienced before. Before she knew what she was doing really, her hand had come up and she'd sent the most vicious illusion straight into Pierce's already overworked mind and even though it had seemed like his death had been instantaneous, Tess knew that he'd died screaming in agony over and over again in a hell solely created by her and for the life of her, she couldn't find it in her to feel guilty about it.

He almost killed one of my first ever friends, Tess rationalized as she mechanically poured some Tabasco sauce all over her peanut and jelly sandwich and started chewing. He tortured my first ever friend and I can't even begin to comprehend what he put Max through.

The image of the man she'd once married ran through her mind and Tess lost the last of her barely there appetite. Max had looked feral and judging from the dried and fresh blood on his person, he'd been through a lot while they'd scrambled around to prepare their rescue mission.

He looked so strong even when he was toppling over after healing Maria, Tess thought as she absentmindedly cleaned the dishes that no one had had the energy to do that morning, too occupied with her thoughts to even contemplate using her powers for the menial task. Him and the others aren't weakened at all by their human DNA like Nasedo used to say when he trained me. And neither am I.

Tess sighed and finished her task before deciding to go for a walk to clear out the memory of Pierce's death that kept playing at a loop inside her mind even as she thought about other things.

A half an hour later, Tess reached the town square and tiredly sat down on one of the benches placed there to gather the energy to get back home. She smiled a little at the thought that she actually considered the little house that her guardian had only bought as a cover to be her home these days.

"Things have gotten so messed up," she whispered into the night, closing her eyes tiredly.

"Tell me about it," a familiar voice said and Tess flinched as she recognized Kyle of all people in the middle of sitting down next to her. "Hey Tess." He nodded calmly and she had a brief moment to be thankful for the fact that for once he seemed to actually not hate her, before he spoke again.

"Don't take this the wrong way, but you look like crap."

Rolling her eyes, Tess leaned back on the bench and just snorted. "Right, 'cause out of all of us I was the one that had to drink four cups of coffee this morning just to stay awake."

"I didn't sleep," Kyle pointed out, before chuckling a little when Tess' raised brow reminded him that neither did she. "Okay, fair point. So, I was actually looking for you."

Tess frowned, not really believing a word of what Kyle said, but before she could point that out, the human chuckled a little again, "Yeah, it sounds unbelievable I know. But," he smirked and for one moment, he looked just like the friendly guy, who'd been so welcoming to her, before she'd screwed things up by mindwarping him, "I'm actually here on the account of someone else."

"What do you mean?" Tess turned to look him closer in the eye and Kyle sighed before he replied quietly.

"Max wants us all back at your place as soon as possible; or…" he shrugged looking deceptively calm, which for some peculiar reason, Tess just knew that he wasn't, "Well, he just wants the four of you out-of-towners', really. He said something about needing the power of four for something."

"Wait," Tess bit her lip nervously as she mulled over that piece of information. "You're saying that Max and the others actually need me? They want to include me? But they don't trust me."

"After what we've been through together, Tess, I don't think that's a problem anymore. You proved you're not like you use…Like we thought." Tess had a feeling that he'd been about to say something massively different, but let Kyle believe that she didn't notice.

Instead, she simply snorted derisively, her earlier self-loathing suddenly reemerging at the thought of their little adventure in the Special Unit's department. "Oh yeah, I'm just super duper sweet and all it took for you people to really believe in me was me killing a man in cold blood."

Kyle's lips twitched as though he was going to smile of her and Tess lost her temper.

"You have no idea what I'm going through, right now, Kyle!" She yelled, standing up and facing him fully, "I killed a man and tortured him! And I would do it all over again and it's freaking me out. I miss Nasedo; at least he wouldn't smirk at me like I'm some little girl. I mean," Tess took at deep breath and continued, suddenly unable to keep everything bottled up anymore. "He might be completely crazy, but at least he knows what it feels like to take a life, Kyle. You and the others are not even capable of grasping what it's like! I hate that my life has turned into this mess and I'm starting to think that I'm just as evil as Nasedo is, 'cause I'd do it again in a heartbeat to protect my friends, so don't you dare laugh at me – especially since you hated my guts not that long ago!"

Sending a heated glare as she finished her tirade, Tess spun around and began walking back home. Her exhaustion now chased away by her anger she picked up the pace until she was running in a dead run.

Suddenly, though, Kyle was in front of her and stopped her by grasping her arms roughly and he shook her a little bit and then said hoarsely, "Tess; calm down! You've got everything mixed up, Girl. You're not evil for protecting us all; hell, I'm fucking proud of you for killing that son of a bitch when no one else could. Trust me, he's had it coming."

The feeling of Kyle's warm fingers on her skin, sent a spike of something unfamiliar through Tess, but she forgot about it, when she somehow ended up hearing him murmur, 'Congratulating her for being a murderer is something I'd never expected to do. What a fucked up life we live,' despite the fact that she was looking right at him and knew without a shadow of a doubt that he hadn't moved his lips.

As soon as that thought crossed her mind, Kyle instantly released her with a startled gasp and took a few steps back. "You heard that?" he asked, looking decidedly pale all of the sudden.

"Yeah. What's going on, Kyle? I thought only we could do that."

"Forget about it, Tess." Kyle was suddenly all tense and didn't look her in the eyes anymore and for some reason that got to Tess more than anything else, so she just took a deep breath and screamed her anger out – not caring that beside her, several of the windows of the parked cars on the lot suddenly exploded into a million pieces.

"Tess!" Kyle's voice reached her as if far away, but she didn't care and just kept on howling like a mad woman. Until, suddenly Kyle's warm hands were on her face and the next thing she knew his soft lips slanted over hers in a bruising kiss that froze her solid from the inside out even as several unfamiliar emotions seemed to burst out through her skin and into his.

How long she stood there with Kyle, Tess didn't know, but suddenly she was alone and feeling bereft like a big part of her was missing. She caught a glimpse of Kyle's hastily retreating form in the distance and unbeknownst to her, the two of them were holding a hand on the same spot on their torso, just above the navel and sharing the same thought of, "what the hell was that?"

Max's POV

Max pulled up to Tess' place with Michael, Isabel and Kathleen in his jeep. The sun was down and there was an edgy silence in the car that didn't seem to want to go away, despite the fact that only just that morning, they'd all been a lot less stiff after their dramatic adventure.

I guess people have had time to process everything a bit more now, Max decided, turning off the ignition with a soft, weary sigh that sent a shiver of pain up his side. He'd been asleep ever since coming back home that morning, lying next to an equally worn out Isabel, so he hadn't had time to heal himself yet. Fortunately their parents had already left for work, so no explanations as to their unusual state had to be made.

Somehow I don't think they'd react all that well to my current appearance so hopefully I'll still have some powers left after we're done here tonight to take care of it, Max thought and glanced briefly at himself in the rearview mirror. He had a black eye and several cuts and bruises on his skin that Max knew from his quick shower earlier went all the way down his body with a lot of bigger gashes from those damnable scalpels that Pierce's goons seemed to favorite.

Max blinked out of his thoughts when Isabel opened the door to the passenger seat and tried not to dwell on the insistent memories of his experience that was clawing around on the edge of his mind. Besides, Max thought as he too vacated the jeep, reaching out a hand to support Kathleen, who was still looking like she could use a week's worth of sleep and serenity, I've been through much worse than this. It's not like it was my first time being tortured…

Max shook his head as he recalled with a sinking heart that unlike him though, Liz hadn't been through this kind of thing before and understandably she was shaken by the whole experience.

It's like she went into herself and doesn't feel safe to come out yet, Max pondered, following Michael's lead as he walked up to Tess' front door. She barely spoke a word, not even when I woke up with my head in her lap.

The bond hadn't been much help, too overfilled with echoes of fear, anger, guilt and pain to make much sense at all. Max honestly didn't know where his emotions began and Liz's ended and ever since he'd driven her and Maria back to her place that morning, the bond had been almost completely silent and it was making him more and more nervous.

"Maxwell, get inside before you attract attention from the neighbors," Michael's order brought Max back to the present and he hurried to comply, ignoring the stab of pain his quick movement cost him.

Once inside the living room, Tess was eying them all with a mixture of curiousness and anxiousness and Max found himself frowning a bit at the odd look in her eyes. She seemed like she'd repeatedly walked into a wall and didn't quite know how to stop doing it.

With a sigh, Max put it out of his mind, deciding to take a moment later to talk privately with her; if for nothing else, than at least to thank her for eliminating Pierce when he'd been unable to. Then he carefully straightened himself up as much as his injuries allowed and started speaking.

"Thank you Tess for letting us use your place for this even if you have no idea what it is yet." Tess' lip turned into a small smile and Max continued with a look at Isabel and Michael, who was sitting with a creepy silent Kathleen between them, "I've talked this over with Kathleen earlier and we all agree that she deserves to get her life back and that's where you come in."

Tess' brow furrowed deeply, "me? What can I do?"

"It's pretty obvious if you think about it," Isabel spoke up, staring with a surprising amount of friendliness at the curly haired hybrid, who'd stiffened at her words.

"You…you want me to mindwarp her?" She raised a hand in Kathleen's direction without looking away from Isabel. "You out of everyone have always been disgusted with my power and now you want me to actively use it? I've gotta admit to being pretty damn confused here."

"Kate deserves peace of mind," Michael spoke up, nodding at the still quiet F.B.I. agent. "She's been through a lot of crap lately and I'm not just talking about your psycho guardian going all postal on her, but Pierce too. We can't mindwarp, but you can so if you'd be kind enough to help us out, it'd be cool."

"But," Tess hesitated and Max had never been more sure that this young girl was nothing like the Tess he'd once believed himself to care for, "I don't know if it'll hold. And I don't want to risk losing the ground I've gained with you all by not doing what you want well enough."

"We're going to join hands and send you some of our strength," Max soothed softly at the sight of genuine anxiety in her eyes. "It'd be like what we did when I healed you. Our powers intensify if we meld them together. We can't do this properly without you Tess."

Tess bit her lip, which Max idly noticed was a bit swollen and he worried that she'd been cooped up all day biting her lips over what she'd done to Pierce, but chose not to comment on it.

"I do want to help, don't get me wrong, but what should I make you forget and what do you want to remember?" Tess directed her questions at Kathleen, who blinked once and answered almost inaudibly.

"I just want a normal life."

"Okay," Tess agreed and looked around the others for help. "What happens next?"

Max smiled with relief, since he'd originally been the one to convince the undercover agent to hold on so fervently to her belief that they could all be trusted, it meant a lot to him to be able to repay her for her assistance. Also, Max thought gravely, if I can't help Liz out with her bad memories, at least Kathleen will regain some peace of mind

He gingerly turned to his side where he'd carefully set down the bag he'd been carrying and opened it to reveal some very familiar healing stones. "We use these."

Tess' lips parted before they transformed into a much more confident smile. "Okay then; let's start."

It took about ten minutes or so to set things up and sit down in a circle with Kathleen poised in the middle, looking rather forlorn and insecure and yet, Max could also spot some of that steely resolve in her that he knew had helped carry her through the last few hellish months of her life.

You helped me, he thought intently; filled with gratitude, now let us help you as much as we can.

"Each of you place one hand on the stone placed in front of you," Isabel ordered softly and continued, "and the other one should be on Kathleen's skin. You'll have to take off your sweater," she added gently to the agent.

"All right," Kathleen nodded and quickly did as she was told. Max held in a small gasp at the sight of scars on her body; scars that were similar to the fresh wounds on his own body. "Let's get this done before I lose my nerve."

Max sent her a small smile and reached out as the first one to touch her bare arm, squeezing it at first in a silent show of support. The older woman's answering smile warmed him and a moment later, Tess, Michael and Isabel had placed their hand on her as well, distracting their little moment.

"You have to look at me," Tess' voice rang through the suddenly eerily silent room and Max closed his eyes when the stones slowly began to glow more and more, nearly blinding him and instead he concentrated on sending out as much power as he could to help Tess solidify her mindwarp completely.

The tension in the room build up to a nearly painful level and Max knew privately that he was sending way more energy into Kathleen's mindwarp than he could really afford to spare in his condition, but he didn't care; too focused on healing at least one woman's horrible memories to the best of his abilities. He could feel some of that power beginning to heal all of her scarring and bruising and tried sending even more to her in case the healing required more.

Suddenly, Kathleen began to scream and Max quickly opened his eyes again to watch Tess catapult forward and grasp the human woman's head firmly in her hands, keeping the small healing stone in constant contact with her own skin as well; "You have to endure it, Kate," Tess hissed breathlessly, "I'm nearly finished. Just. One. More. Second!" She screamed out the last word and the next thing Max knew, he was being slammed backwards into the wall by an invisible force field that seemed to expand from the two females in the middle of their little circle and then just as he realized that his agonizing injuries had reopened, everything went blissfully black.

0o0o0

"You are without a doubt the most stubborn man, I've ever met." Her voice was hard and rough, but the shine of unshed tears in her brown eyes gave her away.

Max grinned weakly, "Technically, I'm not exactly a man." She rolled her eyes and he winced when he tried chuckling at her. She was immediately by his side, helping him upright as he began coughing
.

"I really wish we had people that could do what you do, healing wise." She muttered, stroking his hair; the only part of his body that didn't ache or burn at all. "This was really too close, Max."

"Liz…" Gently lying back down on the makeshift bed, Max sighed heavily. "I couldn't let him win and he'd have won if I'd let him take Michael and Eric. He's always been really interested in those damn kids and their powers, you know that and-"


Liz interrupted, her mouth set in a firm line now that he seemed to have regained his breath. "You don't always have to be the one to save us, Max. You may be the strongest power wise, but that doesn't mean that we aren't all prepared to die for what we believe in just like you."

The thought of losing her pierced his already aching chest and disregarding his wounds, Max sat back up and took her too skinny face in his nail less hands. "You, Liz Parker-Evans aren't allowed to die. I wouldn't be able to bear it."

"How do you think I feel about you being trapped and hurt like that, Max?" Her voice quavered and one lone tear ran down her gaunt face that to him was still the most beautiful visage in the world. "I won't lose you if I can help it. You've already suffered so much, and I love you too much to stand idly by another time. I won't do it again, Max, no matter what you say."

Max nodded in solemn respect for her words, but inwardly he knew that he'd rather let himself be killed than let his wife die for him. It just wouldn't happen.

"I love you, Liz." He tried distracting her, but to his mild surprise, Liz copied his move and grabbed a gentle hold of his bandaged face and stared at him for a long minute.

"I will not lose you to this war, I swear it Max Evans; I love you too much. Trust me on that…"

There was a pounding in his head and his heart was beating way too fast, but Max couldn't rip himself out of what he knew to be a memory; he tried and tried with all his might, because he knew that whenever he dreamt about that moment between him and Liz, another one always followed, a darker, much more mocking one…

"Max!"

Her voice was frantic and hoarse, as if she'd screamed his name over and over again; but he still thought it was the most precious sound in the world. And hearing it now scared him more than anything he'd ever felt and all he wanted was to get out of his restraints to somehow get her out of here.

"L-Liz," he gurgled her name, the blood from the newest beating he'd taken spilling out of his mouth and he cursed his weakness
.

"He's dreaming, Michael." Isabel's voice sounded close by, overlying the sounds of battle and Liz's cries for him, but still, Max couldn't get out of his own mind.

Michael's voice was right next to him and Max could even feel his friend's breath on his face when he replied to his sister, "He's spent too much juice, Iz. He was bound to crash sometime. I've seen this before and he won't wake up unless he's in physical pain."

Pain, oh excruciating ache; someone was carrying him away from the place where Liz had died for him and he couldn't do anything. "Liz!" Her name was all his abused throat could manage and he clawed weakly at whomever it was that was keeping him from running back inside and somehow undoing what had just happened.

"Looks like he's hurting with all those wounds," another voice echoed over Max's nightmare and he was grateful that he was a little distracted from reliving the worst memory of his entire existence.

"Fuck it – I'm waking him up," Michael's old impatience seemed to break through and suddenly the mental agony Max was reluctantly reliving was being overwritten with some very real pain that sliced through one of his not yet healed gashes. Vaguely, Max knew that his brother in all but blood had ripped the wound open and pinched it harshly and even though it hurt like hell, he was still grateful.

"ARGH!" That didn't mean it didn't hurt though.

"Max!"

Gasping for air, Max sat up, clenching his hands over Michael's that were still on his now very fresh injury, subconsciously stopping him from bringing him more pain. He felt the nightmare slowly trickle away into that corner of his mind that was reserved for thoughts of his old life and exhaled carefully in relief – he was back in his own body again, so to speak.

"Help me get up, please," he looked at Michael and ignored the two pale faces of the female hybrids standing around him. As Michael's strong arm slowly helped Max back on his feet, he had to lean most of his weight on him because everything started spinning and it took him awhile to gain his equilibrium back.

"When you get home tonight," Isabel stated, wrapping one arm around him and enveloping him with her familiar scent of flowers and well…her, "we're going straight back to bed and you won't leave until you've gotten all of your energy back."

"That will only happen after I've talked with Liz," Max said, but quickly agreed to his smothering sister's demands before turning his attention back on the still form of Kathleen, who was lying unconscious on the floor where he'd last seen her.

"So how do we do this? I hadn't really expected her to go down like that, so we need a plan to smuggle her into her apartment without getting noticed." Even as he said the words, Max knew that once again they'd be relying on Tess' powers and he couldn't help but laugh inwardly at it all. Just a few days ago, they'd all greatly despised her ability to mindwarp and now they were beginning to use it more and more just like they had in their original timeline.

Well, at least I'm pretty sure this time that she's not a backstabbing murderer, Max thought as he nodded to Tess, who'd volunteered to help with getting Kathleen back home.

0o0o0

The birds were beginning to chirp outside his window, and Max could see the dawn inching closer by the minute from his place next to Isabel's sleeping form in his room. Unlike his sister, he'd been unable to get much sleep after they'd all somehow managed to sneak Kathleen into her bed and leave undetected.

He was bone tired, but every time he started dozing off, an image of Liz's terrified face woke him right back up and he was at the end of his rope. With a sigh, he got out of the bed and swallowed back a wince when his abused ribs protested the movement. He glanced at the mirror that hung in the hallway and closed his eyes to measure how much energy he had managed to get back from his sort of rest.

There's enough for me to take care of some of these annoyances, Max decided and swept his now glowing hands over his naked upper body, closing up cuts and vanishing bruises as he went. His ribs groaned internally before there was a silent pop and the soreness disappeared.

Max decided against using the rest of his meager powers to heal his bruised face, promising to use an excuse of being in a fight if anyone bothered to ask.

Now feeling a lot more human so to speak, Max quickly showered and put on some clean clothes and he staggered down to the kitchen to grab something to eat, knowing that his use of powers would come back to haunt him soon if he didn't.

Finally, after quickly choking down some hastily made breakfast, Max wrote a quick note to his sister before running to the jeep to go to Liz's house. He just really needed to make sure she was all right because with each passing minute, Max's feeling of unease from her side of their connection seemed to expand and he was filled with stress and worry by the time he pulled into the parking lot behind the Crashdown.

She feels like she's completely shut down, Max realized when he gracefully climbed up to the small terrace in front of Liz's room. Not that I blame her of course, she's not able to handle these things like us who've already lived through it once and- whoa!

Max froze in surprise, barely refraining from letting his instinct sending out a blast to attack the one who'd frightened him. There, sitting quietly and staring up at the dawn was Liz and by the looks of things, she had been sitting there for quite a while.

"Hey Max," she muttered without looking at him, keeping her eyes trained on the brightening sky. The tone in her voice resonated within him, telling the once alien king that things were not at all well with the girl he loved.

"Are you okay?" Max unfroze and cautiously made his way closer to Liz's side, sitting down on the edge of her patio chair. "I mean," he smiled a little, "I know it's a pretty stupid thing to ask all things considered, but…"

Liz finally turned her head in his direction and looked him straight in the eye with a small, rueful smile playing on her lips as well. "I won't lie and say I'm completely fine, but I'm dealing. Besides," she sighed, running a hand over the journal in her lap that he only just noticed being there. "It was my own fault. I should've trusted you and I didn't and I'm sorry."

Max couldn't stop himself from touching her any longer as Liz continued softly, "It's because of me you got hurt, and I wish I could take it all back but I can't."

"Liz," Max waited until her eyes met his once more before continuing intently, "I'll admit I was a little angry at you for hiding in the car, but that was only because you put yourself at risk. Don't you know by now that you're my whole world and I can't lose you again, I mean, I just can't lose you ever."

Unable to bear the sight of Liz's dead eyes, he shook her gently and tried pulling her out of her guilt in another way, "You need to process things, Liz. If you bottle it all up and don't talk about it, it's only going to get a lot worse for you. Trust me in that at least, 'cause I know what I'm talking about."

"I'll try, Max." Liz said, after a long beat of silence where the two of them just stared intensely into each other's eyes. Max frowned a little, there was a small part of him that warned him that Liz wasn't telling him everything, but he also knew her well enough to know that he couldn't push her into accepting help until she was ready. They were eerily similar in that aspect.

"Good, I'll hold you to that." Max forced a smile and took her injured arm in his hand, and tried forcing down the guilt her injury caused him before their bond snatched it up and sent it to her. "Now, do you want me to heal this? It's gonna itch though, but I can't remove the cast or else your parents will be suspicious."

Liz smiled and caressed his cheek, and Max had to snap out of the automatic urge to lean into her warm touch as she answered his question. "No, you don't have to do that. By the looks of it, you seem like you could probably use your powers on yourself instead of on me. I mean, I only hurt my arm and you suffered through a lot worse than me…"

Her eyes darkened at the memory and something flashed through them that Max couldn't quite decipher, so he hurried to distract her. "I've healed the worst of it and feel a lot better. Now…Do you wanna go downstairs for breakfast? I know your dad opens in about ten minutes anyway and you look like you could use some proper food before tackling school."

Liz grinned, but her feelings weren't in it completely and Max promised himself to get Liz to talk about things before too long so she didn't wind up exploding like he'd done on more than one occasion. "Sure, let me just go in and wake up Maria and Alex; I'm sure they're starving too – We crashed pretty early yesterday so we didn't really eat much."

"Sure," Max agreed, hating that tiny, juvenile part of him that really just wanted to spend time alone with his wife, and stood up to climb back down and enter the Crash' through the front door. He mentally shuddered at the thought of how overprotective Jeff Parker would get if he spotted him coming downstairs from Liz's room. He'd lived through hell on more than one occasion, but there weren't many people, human or not, that scared him as much as his father-in-law in a rage.

"I think you should call your sister and Michael to come too," Liz's voice brought him out of the memory of a pissed off Mr. Parker and he nodded in accord. "And I'll call T-Tess and Kyle too," she added, for some reason hesitating on Tess' name, but Max didn't pay any attention to it, already sending out a pulse to Isabel with as much power that he could spare.

A half an hour later, found Max sitting next to a sleepy eyed Maria, who kept thanking him in low tones for saving her, while cursing him for letting Liz wake her up so soon at the same time. Alex was sitting next to her, eying his orange juice with reverence as he listened attentively to something Isabel was whispering in his ear. Michael was staring longingly at Maria, who paused long enough to smile shyly at him from time to time and Tess was sitting next to him, seemingly pretending not to notice Kyle at all, who was sitting straight next to her and focusing on his waffles with an intensity that most people used to solve complicated equations. Liz was sitting on an extra chair on the edge of the table, so the crammed booth didn't wind up suffocating them, and was silently enjoying her meal, glancing at them all with a pleased look in her eyes.

Max shared her pleasure, happy to unwind for the first time in a long time. Also, he thought glancing around at the packed table; it's the first time we've all been together since I can remember. It's almost peaceful… I just hope it last this time but if it doesn't, I'm gonna be ready.

Clenching his fist around his fork, Max silently swore yet again to keep his family safe and looked over at a still silent Liz once again before digging into his own breakfast.

Extra Kathleen's POV

Her alarm clock went off, waking her with a jolt and feeling tired but somehow still extremely energized, Kathleen all but jumped out of her bed to get ready for her day.

As she sat down to eat her morning meal, a little time later, Kathleen pondered over her current life. She'd been sent to Roswell to spy on some kids, but had resigned from that assignment only a week into things; her conscious not ready to go after harmless kids.

Fortunately, her supervisor had allowed her to quit without any hassle, which she vaguely remembered being something that he rarely did, and Kathleen had kept her job as the school's guidance counselor with the irregular case of substituting various classes as well.

She'd been ill and depressed for a few months, she knew, but know things were okay again and the young woman was ready to face her job with all the energy that had been missing for a while. An hour later, Kathleen was entering the school with high spirits and went about her day as she usually did, with joy.

Sometime during the day, there was a knock on the door and it opened to reveal one of her favorite students, Max Evans. He was smiling kindly down at her as she gestured for him to take a seat.

"I just wanted to make sure you were okay, Miss Topolsky," he said softly, denying her invitation by remaining upright. "I want my preferred substitute teacher okay now that I've heard Mr. Morrison cough a lot today – just in case."

"You just like me 'cause I don't assign homework," Kathleen smiled widely and Max nodded in reply.

"Of course."

"Well, Mr. Evans; I guess I can soothe your oh-so-worried mind by revealing that yes, I'll be taking over Mr. Morrison's classes tomorrow. He's already asked me earlier."

"Great." Kathleen enjoyed the rare smile that lit up his usually so emotionless face; a face that more often than not, caused her fellow teachers to think of him as trouble. It was something that the former agent really hated, because on some deep level, she just knew that Max Evans was a good kid.

She eyed him closer and narrowed her eyes when she spotted an almost healed cut on his upper lip and fully took in the dark shadows under his eyes. "Is everything okay with you, Max?"

The teen took a deep breath and stared just as intensely into her eyes as she did his before he replied softly, "Yeah, Miss Topolsky. Things are beginning to look up now. Don't worry about it."

"You can always come to me, I hope you know that, right?" her tone was exceedingly gentle, as if she was talking to a wild animal, which on some level she thought she was considering the poor kid's background.

"I know." Max paused and then the atmosphere lightened as he smiled again and added before leaving just as suddenly as he came, "I'm glad you're okay now Miss Topolsky."

As he quietly closed the door behind him, Kathleen had the strangest feeling that he wasn't talking about her depression that had almost cost her not only her F.B.I job, but her current job as well. Then, deciding not to worry about it and just enjoy her life as she felt almost obligated to for some reason, Kathleen shook her thoughts out of her mind and concentrated on reading Mr. Morrison's notes for her class the next day.

TBC

A/N I put in Kathleen's POV at the end because I think she deserved it and I couldn't fit it in; I've had it lying around for a long time but finally decided to just add it as a little extra bit. And I'm aware that Max healing her scars could end up giving her powers, but I'm twisting canon a bit and saying that since the healing stones were involved that just doesn't happen…because…uhm…it doesn't:D
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maipigen
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Re: The Antarian Timetravellers TEEN/MATURE CC CH.25 05/21/1

Post by maipigen » Fri Jul 06, 2012 6:59 am

A/N Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I'm too busy at the moment to reply individually as I always do, but decided you'd rather have a new chapter anyway. Just know that it means the world to me to read your comments, thoughts and ideas. Thank you.

A/N2: I struggled more than normally with this chapter. I have a somewhat serious conversation in both Kyle's and Michael's POV, and I had to make people's different views seem…well, different. It's a lot harder than it looks, but I hope you don't find it too choppy or unfinished. Fyi: Bit of a blood warning for Isabel's POV. Enjoy!

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Last Time On TATT: Maria worries about Liz's mental state after her torture. Alex, Maria and Liz have some human time to cope with everything at Liz's place. Tess is comforted by Kyle after she struggles to get past killing Pierce; they wind up bonding, which freaks the youngest Valenti out. Max gathers all the hybrids to help mindwarp Kathleen out of her misery. Later he tries getting Liz to open up. She deflects and organizes the first ever group dinner since the Antarians came back in time.
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CHAPTER TWENTYSIX

Kyle's POV

It was eerily silent around him; the only sound was the sound of his panting breaths and his body's movements in the night. His sneaker clad feet slammed against the pavement with ferocious strength, heightening his speed more and more until he started trembling uncomfortably.

Kyle didn't care; he wanted to run away from everything. Away from the fact that his dad wasn't the hero he'd been in the other life, that none of his fellow humans saw him as anything other than the slightly mean jock he'd been once upon a time, that he'd come back powerless, but more than anything, Kyle was running to escape that thread inside of him that connected him to the person he'd once considered a sister.

Tess. The very thought of her, sent a shiver of something he couldn't quite decipher down his sweaty spine, and with one last burst of effort, Kyle stormed down the empty sidewalk at three in the morning.

Finally, his body gave up on him, and Kyle was forced to stop. He bent forward, leaning his arms on his knees and gasping violently for air, and tried to push back the queasiness that tried worming its way through him.

It took a little while, but eventually, Kyle felt strong enough to straighten back up, wiping his sweaty hair out of his eyes. He shivered, and glanced down at the soaked through wife-beater, knowing he'd have to go back to Michael's place and shower soon so he didn't wind up with pneumonia of all things.

As if thinking about the former temperamental hybrid had summoned him, Kyle spotted him standing completely still, out of the corner of his eye when he turned to head back to Michael's apartment.

"What the…" Kyle whispered, narrowing his eyes to look closer, just in case his eyes were playing tricks on him.

Upon further inspection, Kyle realized that it was indeed his friend standing in front of someone's house in the middle of the night. Huh, he wondered, letting his eyes take in the small home, what's so special about this place?

In the next moment, the question was answered when a lone passing car drove by and shone its light upon the front of the house in a split second. It was Maria's house.

Oh, right, Kyle sighed. I shouldn't really be surprised to find him here. He almost lost her again, so naturally he's in his overprotective mode.

A distant memory of a scowling Maria calling said mode 'pain in the Czechoslovakian wife's ass-mode' entered Kyle's mind, and he had to swallow back a nostalgic grin. He really missed his friendship with the blonde human; after he'd somehow returned to the past, Maria had been more jealous of his closeness with the hybrids to even think about trying to cultivate a friendship with the guy she'd known practically her whole life.

I guess she never really got an opportunity to see past how I treated her in elementary school, Kyle thought sadly, even as he began walking slowly towards the immobile figure standing in front of what Kyle suspected was Maria's bedroom window.

He was walking as slowly as he could, while at the same time making as much noise as possible with his movements. Kyle had at three individual times accidentally snuck up on all of the Antarians, and he wasn't about to do it again. His eyebrows, which had somehow been singed all three times, ached in phantom pain at the memory of those incidents.

"Hey Guerin," Kyle greeted amiably, when he had stood next to the other man for a long moment without being acknowledged in the slightest. Maybe he just didn't realize I was here.

"Hey Kyle." Was all Michael replied, he didn't even look away from the dark window in front of him, and Kyle mentally rolled his eyes. Right, of course the General knew I was here; he probably knew where I was before I even spotted him my damn self.

The silence grew again, and Kyle mostly wanted to just turn around to go get that shower his nose was telling him that he sorely needed at this point, but the look in his friend's eyes stopped him. And the small, selfish part of him was actually pleased to be doing something else but think about the whole mess he'd gotten caught up in with Tess.

"Wanna talk about it?" he tentatively asked, when his conscience won over his vanity. Michael glanced at him without answering before turning his attention back on the unmoving form in a bed that Kyle could just barely make out in the darkness.

"Yeah, didn't think so really," Kyle continued after a few minutes of yet another edgy silence. "I guess I don't blame you for being here right now. I mean, if I'd been through what you have, I'd probably be setting up camp out here too."

Michael didn't move, and Kyle shrugged as if he didn't really care. On the inside though, he was growing a little bit more concerned than previously. Michael had rarely looked so despondent, so drained. Not even during the toughest part of the war…well, before Kyle's knowledge of it ceased due to his untimely death and all. Michael had always been the one that tried cheering people up. It was something he'd taken over from Maria, when her deadening powers had slowly gotten the worst of her.

"Anyway Man, I'm here if you wanna talk…" Kyle finished with a sigh. There was no response, but he hadn't really expected one. I guess, I'll have to open the floor so to speak, Kyle realized with an internal grimace of pain.

'Cause personally, I could use some listening ears for a second."

Michael twitched, almost as if Kyle's request had finally gotten through to him, but then he stilled and didn't react further.

"Aw screw it," Kyle cursed, and before he knew it, it burst out of him. "I kissed Tess, and I think that we're somehow bonded now, and it's freaking me out, and I can't stop getting this Tess and our Tess confused, and I don't wanna end up blowing everything by letting something slip through the connection. So, really, my life sucks just like yours do."

There was no movement for a long second, but then Michael twitched again…and again, and with a start, the confused Kyle understood that Michael was trying to hold in his laughter.

"Shut up Asshole, it's not funny." Kyle hissed, looking around to check for witnesses to Michael's apparent meltdown.

Michael was finally looking at him, even wiping his eyes while a small smile still lay on his lips. "Oh Dude, it really kinda is."

It was only the fact that Kyle honestly couldn't remember when he'd last seen the other guy smile that stopped him from punching him out. Instead, he just shrugged in an attempt to make it seem like he didn't care about any of Michael's amusement.

Judging from the smile that was still on Michael's face, he wasn't succeeding.

"Look, if you just wanna laugh, that's fine, but I was being serious here." Kyle said, trying to get things back on track. He regretted it almost instantly, because the smile quickly disappeared from Michael's face, leaving it slightly gaunt and exhausted looking instead.

"Nah Man," Michael shrugged, "I get the complicated part. So, what are you gonna do now? I could try to teach you some techniques in guarding your inner thoughts, but to be fair, it's mostly something I did on instinct back when I first started going out with Maria – I've never taught it to anyone."

The idea had some merit, Kyle realized, but in the end he decided not to try another mental alien thing as the first option, which he told Michael straight out.

Michael nodded, "I get that. But you know where to find me if you change your mind."

Seeing a way back in to the real problem at hand, Kyle smirked, and nodded with his chin towards the window in front of them. "Yeah, right here, would be my guess. Care to tell me why you're taking the stalker tendencies so far this time?"

Kyle waited, half-way expecting to be ignored like he'd been before he'd spilled his guts, but to his surprise, Michael looked over at him, seemingly with every intention of talking.

The moment their eyes met, Kyle had to repress a shiver; the other male was clearly in agony. Probably beating himself up, and blaming everything that almost happened on himself, Kyle decided without saying anything out loud.

"I need to stay here, in case bad stuff happens." Michael's voice was like nothing Kyle could ever remember hearing before; incredibly soft, almost timid with a healthy dose of bitterness thrown into it.

"She's home safe, sleeping soundly," Kyle felt the need to point out, glancing in at the still form on the bed through the window.

"I know that." Michael all but hissed, his cheeks tinged a little with embarrassment. "Don't you think I know that, Kyle?"

"So what's the problem?"

"The problem is," Michael spat out through gritted teeth, "that nothing is as it's supposed to be! Maria likes me, I know that; I can feel that, but she doesn't trust me, and because of me not gaining her trust, she almost died…again. If it hadn't been for Max, I would've…" He trailed off, the look in his eyes lost, and tormented at the mere possibility of losing the woman he loved.

Kyle did the only thing he could do, reached out and punched Michael in the chest. Hard.

"Aw, what the hell, Man?" Michael rubbed his pain away, glaring daggers at Kyle all the while.

Rolling his eyes, Kyle merely took a precautious step backwards before speaking his mind. "This is what's wrong with you guys. You take everything on your shoulders, thinking that because your DNA is different than ours; all our problems are your fault. It's just not true, Michael. I know Maria, and I know that she chose to participate in Liz and Max's rescue; that she somehow ended up shot, because of a lack of foresight that she used to have. I get that you don't trust her, or the other two. I know that compared to us, they're just kids, but still – you beating yourself up because you're holding Maria up to the Maria from the other timeline is not only wrong, it's disgraceful."

Michael frowned ominously, the air taking on that special oppressing feeling it did whenever he was beginning to get really mad, and Kyle quickly wrapped up his last points.

"Maria doesn't deserve to be treated like a child, being guarded for her own safety. Neither does she deserve to be held up to the pedestal you've got your original Maria on; she won't ever reach that, no matter what you do."

"So what do you suggest I do then, Mr. Wise Guy?" To call Michael's tone of voice acidic would be an understatement at this point, so Kyle took a deep breath before replying.

"You let her come to you – Knowing her as I do, it's bound to happen once she steps out of her 'Best Friend'-mode. You just have to come to terms with her, and the others, not being who we lost, but people with their own thoughts and ideas. It sucks, but I'll give you a piece of advice. I look at it, as if they've all gotten amnesia, and I have to reenter their lives smoothly, so they don't call the cops on me…or something."

Michael stood without moving a muscle for a long while, and Kyle didn't really think he'd succeeded in explaining his views to the other male, but slowly, the oppressing air seeped away, and Michael slumped a bit with relaxation.

"I guess you're right…" He murmured, running a hand through his hair with a small groan. "I'm just tired, I really wanted to come back to happy times, you know. Peaceful and all that Gandhi crap."

Kyle grinned, slapping Michael on the shoulder briefly. "Well, just to be fair, we never did have any kind of peaceful times the first time around either, not even when we were this young." He gestured down his sweat covered front.

"Huh," Michael snorted, and spared Kyle a quick glance. "Ain't that the truth?" He paused, and then asked without looking away from the window this time. "So what do we do now?"

"We go home, and you cook me something to eat, 'cause I'm starving, while I take a much needed shower." Kyle said, turning to leave Maria's lawn.

A few steps later, he realized that Michael wasn't with him. "Are you coming?"

Michael hadn't moved, but Kyle caught the slight reflection of a grimace on his face in the window, before he spoke. "Not to sound like a wimp or anything, Valenti, but you've gotta shove me a little or else I don't think I can."

Nodding mutely, knowing how serious his friend was, Kyle stepped up next to Michael. He placed his hand on his shoulder, and started walking back once more. There was only a little bit of reluctance, before Michael sighed heavily and followed him.

They walked in amiable silence for a while, until Michael looked at Kyle with a raised brow. "So…Tell me more about this Tess thing."

Groaning, Kyle cursed himself for having revealed anything in the first place, but for some reason, he couldn't not talk about Tess and ended up doing just that the whole way back to Michael's apartment.

Michael's POV

After Kyle had managed to cut a little through the piercing fear of his heart, the night before, Michael was a bit saner about everything, but it didn't mean he was completely over everything just yet. He was just a little less obvious about it. The whole thing about Tess and the unexpected bond, was hidden away to ponder over when he was no longer so worried about his girlfriend.

She's here, she's still breathing, Michael thought, downright staring at the woman he loved above all else in the middle of second period geometry class.

Maria didn't seem to notice his attention upon her, too caught up in eying Liz, who was sitting quietly next to her, diligently taking notes with her uninjured hand.

"Hey Michael," Isabel's greeting from the chair beside him jolted the hybrid out of his thoughts and he reluctantly turned to meet her gaze. The concern in them was obvious, but her expression was kept neutral so as not to attract any unwanted attention. "You'll burn a hole in the back of her head if you keep watching her like that."

"I'm not staring." Was Michael's brilliant reply to that and Isabel rewarded him with a teasing eye roll and he chuckled at the clear lie that had just left his lips. "Yeah, well; she doesn't notice anyway. She's too busy making sure Liz is all right after…after everything."

The teasing glint in Isabel's eyes dimmed a fraction and she sighed. "You know," she said quietly, gazing at the two human girls, "I thought coming back would make their lives better, but I don't think it's working quite right."

Michael shivered as the old memory of a dead Maria entered his mind and he said through gritted teeth, "It's still better than being dead, Iz."

"Yeah, I guess," Isabel muttered and then added when Michael shot her a scowling look, "I mean, sure it is, but you've got to admit that we haven't exactly made things a lot better for them despite our best efforts."

"Well, I'm gonna fix things so nothing bad happens again." Michael vowed and explained further when Isabel leaned forward slightly with a questioning air about her. "There's still the Skins and crap like that to get to and I'm gonna handle it before it turns into the same massive pile of," he broke off at Isabel's raised eyebrow and reproving look and censored himself with a small smile, "stuff ."

Isabel glanced away from him and looked up at Kathleen, who was cheerfully, although obviously without any real grasp on the matter, going through the geometry notes that their normal teacher had left behind before his vacation. Then she looked at the still Liz, who was now gazing mindlessly out the window, ignoring the concerned whispers of a tired looking Maria.

"I think that's a good idea. I'm in if you need any help."

"I know," Michael nodded gratefully and resumed his staring at Maria, who finally noticed him and sent him a small smile and an eye roll when Kathleen finally noticed the lack of attention her teaching had, and playfully threatened with detention if people didn't follow the lesson.

0o0o0

He didn't care that his teachers were looking at him oddly, Michael decided. It's worth the risk of regaining my stigma as weirdo kid again anyhow.

His fellow students were busy chatting good-naturedly, only absentmindedly punching at the keys on the keyboard while their just as bored teacher was staring at the only active participant in class. Namely him.

I wish I'd remembered to get a computer of my own, Michael thought, shielding his busy typing and deflecting the teacher's attention with a jaw breaking yawn and a glare that still worked wonders considering he hadn't actually used his brooding face since he was an actual teenager.

Mission accomplished by the teacher's eye roll and loss of scrutiny, Michael dove right back into what he'd been doing; hacking several systems with an expertise that would make even Serena look bad.

Michael's subtle search finally hit gold and he stopped, staring intensely at a security image of Courtney, who was standing next to someone clouded in shadows. Michael swallowed a growl; he didn't need a lot of brain cells to recognize the tiny form as belonging to Nicolas.

"Got you," he whispered with an unattractive smirk of triumph that unknowingly made the student next to him gulp and switch her seat to the next one over.

Michael quickly printed out the pages he'd discovered and got up without caring about the raised eyebrows his movement caused. A moment later, found the large hybrid almost jogging down the hallways with several crinkled pages of paper in his hands and he didn't stop until he reached the class where he knew Max was in.

Knocking on the door and adopting the serious expression of a kid that had every right to be where he was, Michael entered and looked searchingly out into the room until his eyes connected with Max.

"Yes, may I help you?" Michael glanced at the teacher, who was looking at him with a frown and barely repressed a smirk. I guess I can't escape my bad reputation no matter how much better I am at actually showing up in class this time around, he thought and cleared his throat to speak.

"I've been sent for Max Evans. He's needed in the administration's building."

The teacher's frown didn't lessen, but apparently she didn't really care to go the distance in terms of actually finding out the truth because she simply nodded and looked at Max, who'd already taken his bag and stood up to leave.

"Find out the homework assignment from one of your classmates, Mr. Evans so you don't fall behind."

Max nodded in agreement and without a sound followed Michael out the door.

Once they were standing out in the empty hallway, Michael spoke before max could follow up his curious expression with a question.

"I've got a sure read on Courtney; I can get her and if we go together we'll be able to get Nicolas before the Summit crap and all of that."

Max's dark eyes lit up with a light from within that Michael recognized to be pure hope of an end to all of the madness they'd gone through back in their original timeline with the drama and fear of those days, but then he blinked and it was gone.

Michael frowned, waiting for his best friend's no doubt enigmatic response. He didn't disappoint.

"We need to talk with Liz and Maria and Alex."

"Uhm, okay, I'll bite. Why?"

Max blinked and looked away before setting his gaze on Michael, and in that moment, the larger time traveler could see the burning emotional despair that was eating the former king up from the inside, and he automatically took a step closer to lend some kind of support to his best friend's suffering. Before he got a chance to speak though, Max just sighed and answered his question.

"We're losing them all over again. They may be alive and well this time around, Michael; but as sure as I'm standing here, we're losing them. I can't handle another life without Liz ever again, Michael."

Michael stood immobile for a long second, trying to figure out to lend some strength to Max, who seemed a lot older than both his psychical and his mental age combined.

"I understand that, really I do, but come on, Man," he finally settled on saying, "we can't just blurt everything out like that. They'll never believe us for one thing."

"We'll show them," Max countered, his fervent look of hope reminded Michael of the time so very long ago they'd both denied Isabel the chance to tell Mrs. Evans about their origins.

"Buddy," Michael sighed, running a hand through the hair he'd slowly begun growing out again, "we'll scar them for life if we give them images to go with our stories. Unlike us, they're still pretty much just kids."

"I agree," Max murmured hesitantly, but then he straightened up and in that moment, Michael realized that nothing he'd ever say could convince the brown-haired hybrid otherwise.

"But what, Maxwell?" Michael prepared another, no doubt futile, argument as to why they should protect their loved ones. A moment later, all arguments fled his mind as he tried to process what Max had just said.

"Last time we trusted them, Michael. We trusted them with our lives and they're the same age now as they were then. In fact, at this point in time in our earlier lives, they'd all pretty much risked their lives for us and expected nothing but truth and trust in return. Why is it that we can't give them that now? Even though we know without a shadow of a doubt that if we trusted them, they'd never let us down? Tell me that."

"Well," Michael countered, frowning at the things he'd just been told as things began unfolding in his mind in ways he hadn't anticipated. "We swore to protect their innocence this time around, didn't we? So they didn't die again."

Max's lips turned up in a bitter smile that frankly, didn't suit him at all. "It's already too late for that to be an issue, Michael. Too many things have already happened to make our vows any good. Add in the fact that they're all connected to us through the bond and we've got a recipe for possible disaster. Michael, I won't lose Liz again; it's been killing me to keep all these secrets from her."

"You think you're the only one?" For the first time, Michael's temper seemed to rise to the surface and he was mad enough not to care. "I just don't want to lose them over this. What do you think is gonna happen, when we sit them down and tell them about the time travel and the end of the world so to speak? It's gonna freak them out, and they might end up avoiding us!"

"That's already happening for me with Liz!" Max roared, and Michael found himself automatically tensing, halfway into his preferred battle stance in case his leader was going to lash out with violence.

"Last time we didn't have the bonds either, which makes everything so much more screwed up and-".

"Hey guys!"

Kyle's voice interrupted whatever Michael would've said back, and he relaxed from his earlier stance, only just realizing he'd been in it in the first place.

"Hey Kyle," Michael greeted, slowly turning to look at their human friend, a bit more certain now that Max wasn't about to blow them all up into smithereens, but all that worry came back and intensified with tens of thousands when he noticed that Kyle wasn't alone.

Immediately, his eyes darted over to Max, who was just standing immobile and meeting the shocked, and much freaked out look that one Alex Whitman was sending his way.

For the first time since Maria had been shot, and nearly died, Michael didn't even think about her. No, all that went through the large hybrid's suddenly empty mind was, "oh shit."

Isabel's POV

Isabel was actually feeling, if not content, then acceptably calm for the moment. The thought of Pierce being gone for good, and them having eliminated any evidence that could lead future F.B.I. Units to their tail, was simply too good to not feel satisfied about.

And now it seems we're on route to fixing the whole Skin mess too, Isabel thought, sitting quite comfortably at her seat next to her former friend and/or minion, Michelle. The other girl kept shooting frightened glances her way, but Isabel ignored it with an ease that was born out of a lot of experience.

Currently, she was expertly filing her nails, half-way listening to the teacher babble on about the War of Independence, while silently bemoaning the fact that she couldn't just fix her cubicles with a little help from her powers due to possible witnesses.

Oh well, she thought, shrugging mentally, I can just perfect it when I get home later.

Bored now that she couldn't do more to her nails, Isabel looked around the classroom, and stopped when her eyes reached Liz and Maria. The two were sitting in the front, no doubt due to Liz's need to be able to hear everything her teachers told her. But the longer Isabel looked, the more it became clear to her that Liz was nowhere near listening.

Neither is Maria judging from the looks she keeps giving Liz, Isabel decided.

Then again, Isabel thought on, with a small headshake, it's not surprising she's hanging on to Liz so much after what they've been through lately. Liz hasn't been the same since we got her out of the base and Maria nearly got killed too. She's probably never seen her best friend so despondent before.

A memory of one of the times Isabel had seen a miserable Liz flickered through her mind, but she shook it off without paying much attention to it, too caught up in her sudden worry for the two young women.

Then, a second later, she froze. Something was bursting through the bond with an unmatched speed, and it was such a jumbled mess that it took the former princess a few moments to decipher it properly.

Disbelief, confusion, anger, hurt, but above it all; panic.

Isabel was half-way to the door, when her teacher icily brought her a little back down to earth. "Miss Evans; do you have something to share?"

"I…I…" Isabel, at this point, could barely form sentences, too deeply entwined with the emotions that Alex was pouring through to her

"Aw, aw, aw, my arm; oh it hurts!"

Liz pained filled shout, drew the teacher's attention away from Isabel, and she found herself staring equally as entranced as the rest of the people present.

The brunette was holding her injured arm, her eyes filled with tears, and she was all but whimping. It seemed like her arm was cramping, that something was most definitely wrong, and Isabel had the conflicted emotion of horror rushing through her. If Liz was indeed in danger of some sort, she had to help, hoping against hope that Alex could hold on.

It was in that moment, that Liz looked up into Isabel's eyes, and in that brief look, Isabel just knew the other girl was acting; that she'd somehow interpreted Isabel's panic and decided to help her out. It seemed as if Maria had caught on as well, because she was acting like the frantic best friend that was sure that Liz was about to die right this very minute, and doing her utmost to be in the way for the teacher to do much of anything.

Thank you, Isabel sent out a silent thought of thanks, and slipped unnoticed from the classroom.

She barely managed to get down one hallway, before she was run over by the very person she was desperately seeking.

"Alex!"

The teenager froze from his position on the floor, where he'd landed, and Isabel reached out to him, but before she got a chance to do much of anything, Max, Kyle and Michael rounded the corner of the hallway and interrupted.

"He knows! He overheard us!" They looked anxious, and panicked, even the usually so stoic looking Max, but even so, they only looked half as scared as Alex.

The words pierced Isabel's heart, and in one terrifying moment, she felt as if she was two people. One being so overwhelmingly happy that her love finally knew everything, while the other was completely freaked out because her love knew everything!

"Alex, please calm down." Isabel softly begged, her whole being locked onto Alex. "I'll explain everything, just please don't run away from me."

Isabel was fully prepared to witness an epic meltdown, to see the clumsiest human in their circle blubber incoherently before running off at high speed. What she hadn't expected, was Alex slowly sitting up against the nearest wall, rubbing his neck tiredly.

"Fine. But I think I've got the gist of it already."

Isabel raised a brow, and looked over her shoulder up at her brother, who looked more sheepish than she'd ever seen him before.

"What do you know?" she asked in a whisper, looking around cautiously. She wasn't about to risk more people finding out, no matter how much her heart was beating with fear and adrenaline.

"Well," Alex didn't look at any of them, staring straight ahead and speaking in a chilling monotone that didn't suit him. "You're from the future, we were all dead, and now that you're back, you want to prevent us from everything, and it's slowly tearing everything apart. How am I doing?"

"Jeez Max, how much did you blabber on about this in public?" Isabel hissed, before trying to calm herself down. Her connection with Alex was going haywire and making her feel uncomfortable.

He may look calm and collected, Isabel realized, fighting back a rising sense of nausea with difficulty, but from all of the things that I'm feeling through our connection, Alex is freaking out big time. It's almost like his emotions are hurting me psychically.

Just as she thought that, something seemed to stab her insides, and she bent forward with a pained moan. The painful sensations kept spiking at irregular intervals, and Isabel soon realized that she was being hurt from the inside; somehow Alex was hurting her without even touching her.

"…more to the story, and we need to sit down and talk more fully about everything," Isabel vaguely heard Kyle saying in the distance; his voice was somehow distorted, and she was too distracted by her hurting to attempt to listen in on the conversation going on around her after that.

She blinked furiously to get the small dark dots out of her sight, recognizing them as a sign of upcoming unconsciousness. The coppery taste in her mouth, took Isabel by surprise. She moved her tongue, and learned, with almost nonchalant carelessness, that she'd bitten through her tongue. She was still bent over in a position, which she knew looked like she was pleading silently for Alex's forgiveness, or willingness to stay, so Isabel wasn't surprised no one around her knew what was going on.

She felt warm drops trail down her cheeks, and out from her nose. Isabel wasn't naïve enough to think it was tears or even snot; the red color in her vision told her that it was all blood. She would've known even without her vision; she'd experienced something similar before.

Finally, Isabel managed to work through the ever growing pain to open her mouth, and gurgle out her brother's name.

Next thing she knew, Isabel was being rushed into a small room that she distantly remembered as the Eraser Room of all places. She heard Max order Michael to make the blood in the hallway disappear, before his eyes locked with hers and he began healing her.

It's no use, Isabel wanted to say, it's Alex who's doing it, he just doesn't know it yet. Only Alex can make the pain go away.

How she knew this, Isabel had no idea.

"…keeps saying your name…" Max's voice reached her as if far away, but Isabel couldn't muster up any more attention. Everything she had was devoted to battling out the still oncoming waves of stabbing pain.

"…look at me Izzie!" I thought I was doing that, Isabel thought out to her brother, but then she discovered that she'd closed her eyes, when two strong fingers forced her eyelids apart, and she met Max's concerned gaze once again.

He's punishing me, and he doesn't even know it. The thought kept running through Isabel's mind on repeat, and she'd almost given up hope of the pain ever stopping, when suddenly, she felt a familiar set of hands gently cupping her face.

"What am I doing, Isabel? Tell me! I'm not punishing you!" Alex's voice seemed like it was reaching into her, and pulling the last bit of sanity with him to the surface.

Because it was Alex asking, pleading frantically, Isabel somehow managed to tell him mentally what was happening to her, and coaching him back to inwardly calmness.

A few minutes later, or it could have been hours, Isabel didn't really know, the pain was suddenly cut off, and pure blissful numbness set in. After that, Max once again opened her eyes, and a moment later, she was fully healed albeit a little sore.

"What the hell was that?" Michael's voice was the first to pierce the tense silence, but Isabel couldn't give him an answer.

It turned out to be Kyle, who came up with the answer. His tone was eerily calm, not even the slightest bit of emotion in it when he spoke.

"I guess Alex's powers decided to show up and make themselves known…"

None of the time travelers moved a muscle at the preposterous idea of Alex, who'd only recently been healed by Max, having powers already. It shouldn't be possible.

The only one, who did move in the tiny room, was Alex himself. He was crouched next to Isabel, running his thumbs up and down her cheeks. His touch was smearing the drying blood all over her face, but he didn't seem to notice. He was just repeating the same thing over and over again, "I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry."

Isabel finally came out of her shock, and just wrapped her arms around his lanky frame. "It's okay," she whispered to his plea, "everything's going to be just fine. I promise."

The other guys straightened up, clearly going to leave the two of them alone to talk in private. The last thing Isabel heard, before Max quietly closed the door behind them, was Kyle's faked cheery voice stating that they should look on the bright side now; only one human knew the truth out of three, so things could've been a lot worse…

Liz's POV

September twentythird. Journal entry one. I'm Liz Parker and five days ago I died. After that, things got really weird…

The pale form on the bed frowned and twitched even as new images flashed through her mind in one gigantic swirl.

"Liz, if you do this; you're dead." The voice of the girl that Liz practically considered her baby sister rang loudly in the tense silence and she blinked the burning in her eyes away.

"I know, Serena." She forced her exhausted muscles to cooperate as she continued, "But you also know that if you try to stop me, I'm not going to be the only one."


The still form of Liz parker flinched, looking as though she was having a seizure, her body tensing up and making the veins in her neck pop out.

"Miss Parker," Agent Pierce's cool, yet hate filled eyes rammed into her, "don't take this little meeting the wrong way; you're simply a bargaining chip to use against the abomination you call Max Evans. But," Pierce's lips turned into a sadistic smile, "that doesn't mean we can't have a little fun while we wait, now can it?"

He bent forward and placed some sort of helmet device on her face once more and images, upon images flashed through the young girl's mind and she knew she was screaming horribly at the fear and pain they induced, but she couldn't for the life of her stop herself from doing it.


"LIZ!"

Liz's eyes snapped open and she was staring straight into her mother's frantic face. Her heart was pounding a mile a minute, and for some reason her breaths just didn't seem to want to slow down. Also, it was like her hands had crackled with electricity for a split-second too, but that was just too weird.

"Mom!" Liz gasped, instinctively flinging her arms around the older woman, clinging to her for dear life. She felt weird, as if her mom wasn't supposed to be alive, and the peculiar feeling scared her even more.

"Shh, Sweetie. It's okay, I'm here," her mom soothed into her ear, rocking them both softly from side to side in an even motion. "Everything is just fine, Honey"

How long Liz sat in her mother's warm embrace, drawing comfort like a sponge, she didn't know nor particularly cared to either. She just enjoyed the sensations, even as her mind tried to categorize everything.

"Do you want a glass of warm milk?" Her mother's voice drew Liz back into the real world, and she blinked with amused confusion.

"Mom," she said, reluctantly pulling away from the embrace, "I'm not five years old, you know."

"I know," Nancy smiled as she gently ran her fingers through Liz's soft hair, "but I've got news for you, Sweetheart. To me, you'll always be five years old. You'll understand when you've got a kid of your own some day."

Liz smiled, and thanked her mom for the comfort, before pretending to lie back down on the bed to try and sleep some more. Nancy got up with a small smile, and left, leaving, to Liz's amused bemusement, the door opened just enough for the dim lights of the hallway to be seen.

She did try to go back to sleep at first, but her mind kept going back and forth between her nightmarish dreams and the chaotic feelings she'd gotten from Max that day in school.

It must have had something to do with Isabel; Liz rationalized, biting her lip wearily. When she stormed out of the classroom today, she looked so scared that I couldn't stop myself from helping her escape Mr. Tanner's wrath. Thank God, Maria knows me so well, or it would probably not have worked as well as it did.

The memory of Maria's overacted drama, which kept everyone from knowing Isabel had left, put a small smile on Liz's face. Of course, they'd both been sent to the school nurse to be checked out soon after, and both of them had spent the rest of the day there until their parents picked them up with concerned looks on their faces.

Thankfully Mom and Dad bought my excuse of studying too hard, Liz's smile dimmed as the now familiar guilt overcame her. She really hated lying to her parents.

But it's necessary, she decided, her thoughts returning to the tumbled mess of dreams she'd just escaped from. They'd never believe any of this even if I did tell them.

It had been silent from her parents' bedroom for half an hour, before Liz moved again. She stealthily got out of her bed, put on her robe and went out to the place where she hid her journal.

An hour later, Liz finished documenting all of the fragmented dreams she'd been having ever since Pierce had put that damnable helmet on her head. As she'd been writing, her mind travelled to Max and the weird emotions he'd been giving off ever since…well, since she'd first become aware of their connection to be honest.

For some reason, Liz no longer felt bothered in the slightest about the bond between Max and her. The only peculiar thing about it all was the increasing knowledge from deep within her which told her that it shouldn't be so dark and tainted. Their connection was always supposed to give off comfort, hope, purity and above all love.

It's like it's supposed to be 3D, Liz wrote at the bottom of the page, in a rushed scrawl that looked nothing like the orderly way she usually documented her thoughts, but right now, it's only 2D if even that. I somehow just know that Max is the one I'm meant to be with; that we're willing to sacrifice everything for one another, but I can't make the jump from that knowledge to reality. I'm scared…It's like I'm two people right now. It's like there's another Liz Parker just waiting in the wings to come out and overtake me. I don't know what to do…

TBC
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A/N3: So any idea of what kind of power, Alex's gotten? I've hinted at it in earlier chapters and can reveal that I got the idea from the show during Alex's counseling session with Topolsky. :D
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maipigen
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Re: The Antarian Timetravellers TEEN/MATURE CC A/N 08/24/12

Post by maipigen » Sat Sep 01, 2012 4:34 am

Huge thanks to marzmez for the quick beta assistence, impressed at the speed to be honest:)
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A/N First off, thank you all for the continued support and interest! It always cheers me up/makes me guilty when I get a comment and/a bump for more:D Now, this chapter jumps right into a lot of action. I can only say that I'll try to answer more questions in the next chapter. Enjoy!

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CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN


Max's POV

"So you're sure that this won't end up biting us in the ass?"

Michael's tone was softer and more hesitant than the words suggested, and Max chanced a glance in his best friend's direction before he looked back out at the road. "It's the best option. This way we're giving Alex the time he needs to get things straight in his head and get over the guilt of accidentally hurting Iz."

Max heard his sister's deep sigh from the backseat at the mention of what Alex had done to her without realizing it, but she didn't comment, allowing him to continue quietly, "We need to tie up the rest of our loose ends before things go off course any more than they already have."

"I, for one, am glad to be getting out of Roswell for the time being," Kyle said, his voice full of fake cheer that was obvious to all present in the Jeep. "Hanging out, road tripping and not being followed by a deathly alien army is kinda fun."

Michael turned to look at him, and Max had to fight off the smile that threatened to develop on his face when he spoke, "and your eagerness has nothing to do with a certain formerly murderous blonde?"

"Who, Maria?" Kyle quipped, and Max grinned briefly when Michael simply gave the human the finger and turned back around in his seat.

At least we're doing something proactive for once; Max thought to himself, passing the sign that welcomed people to Roswell with a small, nostalgic sigh.We've got a plan and when it's been executed things will have to slow down enough for everyone to feel at ease again…and I'll sit Liz down and tell her everything before our relationship is completely ruined.

"So," Isabel cut through the rare moment of amusement, her face clearly showing her determination to get things over and done with as soon as possible. "Let's go over the plans to make sure we're not forgetting something."

Michael shrugged, "Fine. Kyle and I go to Copper Summit to ruin those damn husks in the dead of night, and if Courtney is there, we'll take her with us."

Max took over speaking with a deep sigh, "While that's happening, Iz and I are going to go to Serena's house to heal her before she ends up in the hospital in Phoenix. She'll dreamwalk Serena's parents to make sure they don't suspect a thing. Then we'll go to Eric's house and do the same. Sydney and the rest aren't sick as of this moment in time, so we can't heal them yet." Michael shook his head with an air of frustration about him; he still didn't agree that healing the kids was the best thing for their future. Max ignored it with practiced ease and continued, "After that we'll meet up and go back home where we'll figure out if we should get into the whole business with Laurie and her family or leave it well enough alone."

Out of the corner of his eye, Max saw Michael nod, this time in full agreement and knew without looking that Kyle and Isabel was doing the same.

"All right then," Kyle broke the silence after a few minutes of quiet thinking, "before we get too giddy from being on the road again, I demand we stop at the first service station, 'cause I need me some snacks for the trip."

Max and the others chuckled; none of them had forgotten the many times Kyle's stomach had dictated their route in their earlier lives. "Sure, sure," Max muttered and pressed the gas pedal with a small sigh, oddly happy to be on the road again.

0o0o0

Several hours later, Max turned onto the street where he knew Serena's childhood home was. Isabel was sitting next to him, her eyes darting quickly around to make sure they weren't noticed. Michael and Kyle had split from them earlier, slunk away in the darkening night to steal the first available car to take them the rest of the way to Copper Summit.

For once we're not using Maria's Jetta, Max realized with a bittersweet smile, it feels almost sacrilegious considering how much that car helped us out in the past. Liz and the others always helped us too…

Max shook his head, forcing the thoughts of his human friends and loved ones out of his head. I need to be focused on what's about to happen, I can't be distracted right now.

With a massive effort, Max let his other, less human side take over and all his concentration was on the job he was about to do. The proof of his success was the tiny flinch that Isabel couldn't help but give when she met his eyes a moment after they'd both soundlessly exited the jeep.

Halfway down the street, Max stopped in front of a small, two-story building with a rusty swing set on the front lawn. Max easily recognized the house from all of the times that Serena had told him and the others stories about her life before the healing.

'It's just like she described it,' Isabel's cool touch on his arm almost burned Max as her voice simultaneously sounded in his head. 'She really was a normal little girl once.' The tone in his mind was slightly disbelieving and Max wasn't surprised. He too had always had trouble picturing the serious little all-knowing little girl as a normal kid that liked to play.

The memories of what her life had ended up like threatened to overwhelm Max, so he quickly shook off his sister's touch and used their old hand signals to convey that he was going inside the house. Isabel nodded seriously and they crept inside under cover of darkness. Max used his powers to disable the alarms, and the family's two cats were quickly and quietly encased in one of his soundproof shields to keep them from waking up the house's residents.

Three minutes later, after opening several doors and finding both of Serena's parents sleeping soundly, Max finally found Serena's room. She was sleeping just as deeply as her mom and dad, her skin pale and gaunt looking and her hair a lot thinner than he remembered. That makes sense, Max thought, all but gliding up to her bed and kneeling beside her. She wasn't sick when I really got to know her. I only ever saw her ill that one night in Phoenix.

The sight of the little dark-haired girl sleeping caused a crack to appear in Max's self-appointed armor and he had to swallow a lump of grief for the memory of the young girl that had meant so much to all of them.

"She looks so young," the whispered words left his lips before Max realized he was speaking. Isabel nodded to his right and after a quick glance at her; Max saw that she too was staring down at the little girl with sadness and awe very visible in his eyes.

"We're doing a good thing, right?" Isabel asked; her voice tight with suppressed emotions. Max couldn't speak so he just nodded and gestured for his sister to keep watch while he prepared himself for the healing.

Closing his eyes, Max took a deep fortifying breath in preparation for what he was about to do. Instead of waking the little girl, and thus alerting her to his and Isabel's presence, Max would attempt to connect mentally with her throughout the healing process.

It was something he'd barely begun experimenting on in his earlier life; the need for vengeance and killing far outweighed his natural instinct to heal. Besides, Max thought bitterly, at that point in time there weren't that many people left to heal so it didn't quite have the same appeal any more.

Don't think about that now, Max scolded himself and cracked his knuckles before gently placing his long fingers on Serena's forehead, I have to focus on what I'm about to do; I can think about the past later

It all happened so fast that when Max thought about it later, he still had no idea what really happened the moment he carefully maneuvered his way into the sick little girl's mind. All of the sudden, instead of being in control, Max was gently led towards a bright spot in the distance. Instinctively, the time traveler struggled as fiercely as he knew how, but it was all in vain. The gentle hold on him didn't waver at all and with each breath, he was being slowly, but surely, dragged towards the foreign light.

'Don't be scared, Max.' The voice was familiar, but at the same time it was completely unknown.

What's going on here? The thoughts were swirling in Max's mind, and he hated not being in control; the last time it had happened, Tess' healing after Nasedo's attack had almost fallen to pieces.

'Just be patient,' the voice responded, as if his thoughts were no longer his own, and Max automatically prepared for battle. There was the sound of a small, tinkling laugh that was almost eerie in its familiarity, but Max refused to acknowledge it, because if his growing suspicions were correct then everything he knew would be off kilter.

'You always were the stubborn one,' the voice stated, full of gentle amusement and a love so ferocious that it almost crumbled Max's emotional shield, making it entirely too difficult to focus on and maintain his defenses.

Finally, it seemed like his unwilling journey was about to come to an end; the light all but exploded around him, and when Max could finally see again, his vision was still filled with little black dots. It took a while but eventually his sight cleared and he was able to see if his suspicions were correct.

The person in front of him wasn't a little cancer-filled girl; no, it was a beautiful young woman, whose health and power flowed out around her.

It was the Serena he'd lost in the other timeline. No, that's not right either, Max's inner voice corrected, Serena looks like she should've looked like if she hadn't been involved with aliens, war and death. Just like a normal young woman embarking on life

"Hey, Max," Serena's voice, now easily recognizable for some reason, resonated within him. In that moment, Max longed for nothing but to run over and wrap the still tiny female in his arms and hug her tight. He hadn't realized just how much he'd missed her in his life.

"S-Serena…" It was a struggle to say her name, Max wanted to say so much more, but his throat had clamped up and his heart was beating a mile a minute. He didn't want to think about Isabel's reaction if she looked over at his physical body in the real world, he must have looked like he was having a heart attack.

Finally, after having swallowed past the lump in his throat a few times, Max managed to ask his most pertinent question, "How is this happening?"

Serena smiled; it was the same unbearably innocent smile she'd always bestowed upon him, and once more, Max had to reinforce his shields so he didn't fall to the ground weeping.

"Call it yet another unexpected manifestation of my powers. I guess I was more powerful than we all thought back then… but," she continued, her tinkling voice taking on a more serious edge, "but I'm glad that I got this chance, because I need you to do something really important for me."

"What?" Max asked; his entire being virtually ached to help her. In a way, he'd come to realize that he'd always seen Serena as the daughter he and Liz didn't get to have, and he loved her unconditionally. "Anything."

Serena smiled and came closer until she could touch him. She reached out and planted her small, surprisingly warm hands on his cheeks before she spoke again. "I'm glad to hear you say that, Max, because I really need you to do this for me." She took a deep breath before finishing her plea in a quiet, intense tone of voice, "Get out of my mind, leave with Isabel right now and go help Michael because he'll need it and forget you ever knew me or any of the other Unit kids."

"W-what are you saying?" Max already knew what she was saying, but he needed clarification just in case he was getting the information wrong. Oh, how he hoped that he was wrong.

"Max," Serena pressed their foreheads together, and her voice seemed to echo all around him as she quietly continued, "I don't want you to heal me."

Isabel's POV

Isabel's entire body was tense and ready for action. She'd already located a picture of Serena's parents for her upcoming dreamwalk, so other than keeping a lookout she had nothing more to do but make sure her brother wasn't using too much power.

Soon after he'd closed his eyes, Isabel realized that something was wrong. Normally when he'd tried to heal with this technique in their original time, he'd seemed blank and more like a human statue. But mere moments after connecting with Serena's still form, Max's skin broke out into a sweat and his eyebrows furrowed as though he was in the middle of hard, strenuous work. The small gasps he let out from time to time didn't exactly soothe the concerned sister any either.

Isabel was tempted to go over and lay her hand on Max's neck to connect with him, but she knew from previous experiences that it rarely ended well if she interfered, so she restrained herself with great effort. Besides, she told herself pragmatically, if I'm in there with them, I'm going to be a bad lookout in case something happens out here.

Isabel's resolve started to waver as the seconds ticked by and nothing seemed to happen, apart from the vague shine of Max's customary green shield that slowly began to form around him as the time passed. For the first time, she regretted that she'd insisted on splitting up the group. Michael would probably know what to do and if not, Kyle's unrelenting calm in crisis situations would most assuredly help her more than anything. Even if things were still a tad awkward between them, but Isabel forced herself not to think about that for the time being.

A few minutes later, all Isabel's thoughts fled her mind as Max began to moan as if in complete and utter agony. Then, with a rough gasp, Max was suddenly back in his own body, still kneeling in front of Serena's deceptively fragile frame.

"Max, are you okay?" Isabel whispered, her hands already steadying him as he stumbled ungracefully to his feet. Her worry skyrocketed when she felt him tremble furiously under her touch. "Max?"

"We have to go." He murmured with a slightly dead tone in his voice that Isabel had never wanted to hear again.

"What's wrong? What happened?" Isabel looked over at Serena, who looked just like she had when they'd first arrived. "She hasn't been healed, we can't leave yet."

Max glanced down at the little girl with an indescribable expression on his face, before looking up at his sister. "We have to go," he repeated carefully.

"But—"

"Isabel, let's go now." The steel in Max's voice didn't convince Isabel as much as the truly heartbroken look in his dark eyes. He looked like he'd been in the White Room all over again.

"Okay," she agreed reluctantly and walked closely behind Max as he made his way out of the room. In the doorway he stopped and looked back down at the sleeping child.

"Goodbye Serena," he whispered and before Isabel could do or say anything, she heard him leave the house.

"What did you do this time?" she muttered to Serena, who merely rolled over on her other side with a small adorable snort.

'Take care of each other,' Serena's voice suddenly sounded in Isabel's head as though she was standing right next to her, 'this is the only way, Isabel. Don't forget that I love you all so much.' It was as though Serena's lips touched her cheek just before an almost inaudible murmur of 'goodbye, Isabel' reached her before everything turned silent again.

When Isabel exited the house and covertly made her way back to the Jeep, she was glad that Max didn't question her about the tears running down her face.

"Let's go to Eric's house then," she said instead, transforming a CD into a tissue to wipe her face.

"We're going to Copper Summit," said Max when he started the engine. He still hadn't regained any emotion in his voice, and that, above all else stopped Isabel from demanding any immediate explanations. Somehow she already had a pretty decent idea of what had happened. Serena always was the most pigheaded of us when she saw a path in front of her…

"Okay…but you're so gonna tell me everything after this is over and we're back home." Isabel demanded instead, not breathing until Max sighed and nodded in agreement.

"Yeah…When we get back, I'll tell you everything."

0o0o0

"I-I'm so so so sorry, Isabel," Alex's voice was hoarse and he still had trouble looking into her eyes after whatever it was that he'd done. "I'll never forgive myself—"

"Alex," Isabel interrupted, moving closer to him as careful as she could without spooking him back into the nearest corner. "I know it wasn't on purpose. I know that now. I'm the one who should apologize for what I thought and how I've lied to you for so long, but…I really didn't want you to know any of this."

For the first time, Alex's eyes lost a bit of the self-loathing and he glanced into hers quickly as if surprised. "Why not just tell us everything from the start? Apparently, we knew the truth before and handled it okay enough. Whatever happened to make you and the guys think we didn't deserve to know the truth?"

"Please don't ask me that." Isabel bit her lip, now being the one to avoid eye contact. "You all just deserved to live normal lives."

Alex's lips twitched and he explained when Isabel's eyebrow raised in a silent question. "No offence, Isabel, but ever since you started taking an interest in us our so-called normal lives went right out the window."

"Also," the gangly teen added, once more looking away from Isabel, "I can't help but question the whole for-your-own-good-spiel. Nothing good has come from all of those secrets. Besides, I know that something happened in your other life that concerns me because let me tell you, every time I ask about it, your anxiety levels spike so high that I feel like I'm about to puke."

"I thought I'd dimmed the bond a little," Isabel murmured. Alex shrugged and pointed at his head.

"I'm not using the bond right now. I think your brother's healing kinda made me into some sort of Empath…or something, I don't know. I just know that I feel what everyone around me is feeling and I have to constantly calm myself so I don't accidentally kill someone like I almost did with you."

Isabel looked around the packed diner, where she'd cornered Alex on her break and frowned. "I'm sor—"

"I know," Alex cut in, with a shadow of his usually vibrant smile on his face, "I can feel it."

The two of them sat in uncomfortable silence for a while, and Isabel watched quietly as Alex's own emotions played on his face. Sometimes he flinched when an intense emotion hit him, and she was tempted to completely re-open their connection and take on some of his unwanted burden.

She never got the chance because, naturally, Alex intercepted her intention and held up a hand. "I don't think you can handle this, Isabel," he whispered, looking her in the eye, at last, for longer than the split second that was the norm of this conversation. "I know you mean well and I'm glad you're not even the slightest bit angry with me right now…but," he ran a hand through his hair with an air of frustration about him, "I think we need time apart right now."

"You don't want to be with me anymore?"

"Isabel, the only thing I've ever wanted since I found out that girls didn't have cooties was to be with you, but as I am right now, I need to be able to control myself first. I don't wanna wake up one day after a nightmare to find that I've hurt you. I don't wanna hurt anyone."

Faced with the naked fear that Alex couldn't quite keep out from their muted bond and the slightly crazed look in his widened eyes, Isabel did the only thing she could.

"I'll be waiting. It doesn't matter how long it takes, Alex Whitman. I love you."

A few seconds after the words left Isabel's mouth, she noticed that most of the other people in the Crashdown were laughing uproariously and looked like they were suddenly having the time of their lives. Judging from the look of pure ecstasy on Alex's face, she knew why. For the first time, Isabel realized that Alex's powers weren't all bad.

She smiled softly at him, now I just need to convince him of that when he's ready.


"Iz!" The call of her name, and a gentle shake from a hand on her shoulder brought Isabel back from her sleep. She blinked and straightened up, filing the dream and memory away for later perusal so she could focus one hundred percent on what was about to happen.

"We're here," Max announced unnecessarily, and they both looked out at the sign that welcomed them to a city that neither of them had ever wanted to see again.

"Well, let's hope this time it turns out better than the last time," Isabel said as she soundlessly exited the jeep and helped Max turn it invisible to hide it from any wandering Skins. Please, she continued silently, let it turn out better this time…

Michael's POV

It was dawn by the time that Michael drove past the sign that welcomed them to the oh-so-friendly town of Copper Summit. Being back in the same space where he'd suffered one of his first personal losses, gave Michael the chills.

If it wasn't because we really need to eliminate all loose ends, he thought with a barely noticeable shiver down his back, I wouldn't have come within a mile of this place.

After they passed the sign, Kyle too, seemed to grow a lot more uncomfortable. "This sucks," he murmured after a little while, "I feel helpless going into this, you know. You don't know," he added with an eye-roll at Michael's look of bemusement, "'cause you're the one that's got powers and can pulverize anyone that even looks at you funny. Me on the other hand, am in the whole 'duck and cover' stage due to my human…err…human-ness."

"Look," Michael ran a hand through his hair, "I get it, but I know you're capable of kicking ass even without your powers. I was there when you trained remember?"

Kyle shrugged, but he did look a bit more appeased, so Michael continued, "Anyway, we need to go over the plan one more time. I have this feeling things are not going to be as easy as we think."

"Fine. Well, let me kick things off then; we're gonna go in to the nearest café or diner or whatever, act like two normal high school kids on a road trip and case the place out for any out of world activities. Then, at nightfall we're gonna go to that place where you know they're keeping their husks and one-two-three we torch the place and hightail it outta here. Easy peasy."

Michael chuckled, "right, 'cause things always go exactly as we plan, right?"

"Shut up, Dude," Kyle punched him in the arm, "I'm trying to reconnect with my Buddhism here, calmness and serenity and crap like that, okay."

"Right."

Michael smiled and turned down the main street to locate a place for their plan to begin. There was a small and old looking building that seemed like a great place to start. As he parked the car, Michael noticed the curious looks from the few people up at that early hour.

Why they even bother to act like this place is a normal town, I'll never understand, Michael repressed his natural instincts to just start blasting people apart and forced a carefree look on his face as he followed Kyle out the door.

There was a flare of worry from Maria's side of the bond, and Michael quickly squashed his side to prevent her from picking up any more from him. She doesn't need more on her plate right now. Michael sighed, his longing to be near his soulmate nearly stopping him in his tracks. He still hadn't completely overcome his need to be near her all the time after her near death experience, but she'd barely paid any attention to him after that first morning at Tess' house. She's still focused on helping Liz through her ordeal; I hope she's not going to need me until I'm back in Roswell…Of course the friendship between Liz and Maria has always been solid, so I shouldn't worry…I really shouldn't.

"Dude," Kyle's hiss in his ear brought the pondering General back to his senses, and he blinked out of his thoughts. "Try to bring your A-game, okay? Defenseless human is your only back up, remember?"

"Right," Michael nodded and took a deep, soothing breath before reaching out and pushing open the door to the diner. "Let's get this over with before I go completely crazy."

The inside of the diner seemed perfectly legitimate with the smell of grease and coffee in the air, but something just didn't feel right. It's like a perfect picture of an American diner, Michael decided as he followed an incessantly chatting Kyle over to one of the booths. It's just like it's supposed to be, but still, something isn't quite there…like a picture of a diner, but not the real thing.

Michael nodded approvingly to the Kyle when he made sure that they were now sitting in a place that oversaw the entire room, right into the kitchen and all the exits. Say what you will, Kyle, Michael thought out to his friend, powers or not, your training is just as etched into you as mine is.

"Mornin' boys," a chipper voice greeted them, and Michael plastered his fakest smile on his face, clenching his hands under the table to keep from attacking out of instinct. The voice belonged to a seemingly middle-aged looking woman with graying temples and big blue eyes that should've shone with warmth, but was just shy of genuinely creepy. Michael chanced a look at Kyle and realized that he too had recognized the woman as a danger. "What are you having? We've only just opened thirty minutes ago, so the grill ain't at its best right now, but I'm sure we'll work something out, right?"

"Sure, absolutely," Kyle beamed, picking up a laminated menu that seemed to have never been used before. Another clear sign to that Michael knew that the ever observant human had spotted too. "What about some coffee and pancakes? What do you say, Adam?"

Michael swallowed a smirk at the fake name; it was one they'd used in their earlier lives to prevent people from finding them, so he had no trouble switching into the persona he'd created along with the name. "Absolutely, Kenneth; I'm just famished. Although," Michael smiled politely at the Skin waitress, "I must say that this American cuisine still has not quite convinced me of your nation's superiority."

Kyle grinned, he hadn't lived long enough the first time around to see Michael perfect his English accent, so he enjoyed himself even in the midst of all the danger. "Well, Adam, that's 'cause your country's got a queen that thinks haggis is the best dish ever. It's gross is what it is."

"Haggis is from Scotland, Wanker." Michael pointed out with the air of an offended Englishman, who wouldn't take any slights about his queen.

"Anyway, Boys," the waitress cut in, her tone a lot less chipper all of the sudden – apparently bickering teenage boys wasn't something the Skins had much experience or patience with. "I'm gonna go get ya'lls breakfast 'fore the mornin' rush comes stumbling in."

They watched her move away as stealthily as they could while still keeping up the charade of being normal kids on a road trip. Michael reached for the napkin holder and grabbed a couple of napkins. Kyle immediately handed him a pen from one of his shirt's pockets and watched while babbling nonsense about their non-existent trip as Michael doodled on the paper.

Michael smirked inwardly as he kept on glancing around with wide eyes and a silly smile on his lips and continued to draw. It was a code that only Michael and the rest of the time travelers knew, he was planning and taking notes of all the people that couldn't quite act as well as they could.

Finally, after their breakfast had been devoured, after a quick poison scan from Michael, they stood up and Michael stuffed the napkin in his jeans pocket and went to pay.

At the register, Kyle vocally decided that he definitely needed to see more of the town and that led the waitress to loosen her lips and explain the way to the nearest motel.

Twenty minutes later, they'd paid up front in cash and checked into a room with two beds that was too pristine to ever have been used before. Another sign if there ever was one, Michael decided and then he threw himself on the nearest bed with a loud groan of frustration.

Kyle raised a brow at him and pointed at the room at large, mouthing something about listening devices and Michael cursed himself for being so stupid and irresponsible. A second later, he sent out an electromagnetic pulse that should fry any and all electric devices. Another quick flash of blue and the room was encased in a more fragile version of Max's shield to keep unwanted visitors out as well.

"Now we can talk freely," Michael murmured and he burrowed down on the bed again.

Kyle shrugged and sat down on his own bed with a sigh. "Why so glum, Chum?"

"Really?" Michael sat back up again, leaning against the headboard. "You can't tell me you don't know."

"I don't know," Kyle's smile was a tad obnoxious and Michael had to remind himself that he really wasn't a 17 year old to keep from launching one of his pillows straight into the other guy's face.

"Fine, let me just paint you a picture here, okay." Michael growled, pulling out the rumpled up napkin as he spoke. "In that diner of theirs, there were eleven so called customers, two waitresses and a cook. As we sat there for fifty-eight minutes, thirty-three people walked by the diner; some of them more than once. They were keeping an eye on us, which means they're suspicious. And powers or not, we can't take even half of them on alone. Also," Michael added with a sigh, "that's only the Skins we've seen so far. Who knows how many are in this town right now! I mean, that congresswoman that Liz worked for is only just rising up and making waves. We don't know how many Skins there are, where Courtney is or just what their psychotic leader Nicholas is up to. We don't know and it freaks me out."

Kyle sat in silence for a long while, absorbing everything Michael had just spilled. Eventually, he too leaned back on the bed's headboard with a heavy sigh. "This is gonna suck, isn't it?"

"It's kinda a given at this point in time, yeah."

Another short beat of silence occurred, before Kyle just shrugged. "Well, let's make the most of this little break then, because we can't do anything until nightfall anyway. You wanna take first watch or should I?"

In that moment, Michael felt a rush of gratitude to his old friend. True, Kyle may be a liability when it came to powers, but aside from Max there wasn't any other guy he'd rather have by his side because powers or not, Kyle Valenti had proven himself time and time again to be absolutely ferocious when it came to fighting their enemies.

"I'll take the first watch," Michael offered when Kyle started to look annoyed over the delayed reply. "I'll wake you in five hours."

"Cool," Kyle nodded and unceremoniously kicked off his shoes and wrapped the blanket around him. Five minutes later, he was dead asleep and Michael kept a vigilant watch just like he'd promised.

0o0o0

"Tell me something," Kyle's whispered voice reached Michael just as he managed to open the door to the room he remembered being the one where all the husks had been. "Doesn't this seem way too easy for you? I mean, we're never this lucky."

Michael repressed an urge to smack his friend in the back of the head, "Dude," he exclaimed instead, "one doesn't go around saying that. It'll jinx us, you idiot."

"Sorry…" came the petulant response and the not at all contrite look followed soon after. "But come on, Man; it's been totally easy. We weren't accosted once since leaving the motel and now we find an unprotected lair. It doesn't fit with what you've told me of this place."

"Look, it's probably just because they don't expect us to do this. We're gonna finish the plan and then leave before anything happens. Chill for a second, and let's just…" Michael's voice trailed off as his throat clammed up with adrenaline as his eyes took in the room he'd been in once before in another life.

It did look the same, the glass tubes with the Skins' new husks were just as he remembered it, and the humming sound from the motors keeping the water the right temperature was familiar as well. What weren't so recognizable were the two Skins standing right in the middle of the room with glowering yet smug expressions on their faces.

"Hello," the female that had been their waitress earlier that day greeted coldly. Her eyes were now filled with that hate she hadn't quite been able to repress in the diner, "we've been expecting you."

"Oh crap me and my jinxing." Michael heard Kyle's muttered curse and couldn't help but silently agree.

We have to get out of this, Michael thought. What am I gonna do? I can't just start killing them; we don't know how many are up there waiting for us or if they know something that we have to know to live safely. I can't put Maria and the others at risk again…I won't!

"Hi there," Michael greeted with a small mocking wave because in danger or not, he would never let them see his growing anxiety. "To what do we owe this lovely welcoming committee?"

"Yeah," Kyle took over, having fought long enough with Michael to know his way of doing things, "we're really not that special. You're welcome to just leave and we'll say to whoever asks that you did a great job, right?" He looked up at Michael, who nodded.

"Definitely."

"Cut the bullshit, you two," the other, unfamiliar, Skin ordered.

"That's pretty harsh," Kyle pointed out and the female Skin bowed mockingly, her words freezing Michael and Kyle with surprise.

"I do apologize, Your Majesty; after living on this cesspool of a planet for so long, one's manners tend to take a backseat. I hope you and the General don't mind us." Then she cackled madly and abruptly raised her arms in a crazed movement like that of a prayer. "But then again, it's fun and I don't really care one bit what you think."

"You think I'm the—" Kyle began, only to have Michael's elbow bump into his arm.

"Don't bother denying it, Your Majesty," Michael said, casting a warning glare at his friend, "they're obviously on to us."

"Damn right we are," the woman hissed, "I can't believe our luck. We've just found out a few months ago where the Antarian Royal family sent you to and that you actually survived the incubation period, and here we are. Nicholas will be pleased when he returns, as will Khivar! I can finally stop degrading myself by portraying one of those moronic human slaves that this planet calls waitresses."

"Hey!" Michael said through gritted teeth, "don't knock on the waitresses, they're a hell of a lot more tough than your sorry, collapsing skin ass."

The male Skin bared his teeth at the insult and unexpectedly sent a pulse of raw energy towards Michael in response, and Michael only had his quick reflexes to thank for narrowly dodging the deathly blast. The female shrieked angrily and swiped her hand across the male's face, and his face's membrane immediately began to crumble away as if her nails had poisoned him.

"We need them alive, you fool! If they're dead, they're no good to us!"

The male didn't reply, he was too busy screaming out his hurt and trying to force his torn and rotting flesh back to some semblance of normal. Even Michael, who'd seen a lot in his day, had to fight off a burst of nausea at the disgusting sight.

In the next minute, Michael wanted to shoot himself; they'd just let a perfectly good escape opportunity slip right through their fingers. Judging from the sudden look of annoyed comprehension on Kyle's face as he looked at him, Michael wasn't the only one feeling stupid right then.

Fuck, what do we do now? Michael bit the inside of his cheek, for the first time just as concerned as Kyle about the human not having gotten his powers transferred with him from the great beyond or wherever it was he'd come from. If I attack, they are definitely gonna realize pretty soon that Kyle's not Max and that'll only lead them to the real king

Michael's mind felt ready to explode as he was frantically searching through options, but he lost all train of thought a moment later, when the door opened up behind him and a voice he'd never heard sound so detached before spoke, "I've informed Nicholas of our triumphant catch of the year, Vara. What do you need me to do next?"

Slowly, inch by inch, Michael found himself turn and look at the speaker and found himself face to face with Courtney.

She looked exactly like he remembered her from their brief acquaintance in his past life; an obvious alpha female with a will strong enough to crush bricks, but for the first time, Michael saw her as what she really was; a hostile enemy out for blood. Her eyes lacked all of the admiration and awe they'd always possessed whenever looking at him. They were completely devoid of any human emotion whatsoever.

The female Skin, whose name was apparently Vara, straightened up with a smirk plastered on her face. Once again, she was the picture of smugness and Michael had to fight off a sudden urge to break her neck.

"Thanks for your assistance, I'll be sure to mention your continued cooperation to Nicholas. I'm sure he'll be pleased to hear of your progress, my dear."

Courtney nodded mutely, and glanced over at Kyle and then at Michael. It was during that split second look that Michael caught it; he wouldn't have noticed it if he hadn't been so trained in body language as he was, but there was no doubt that the quick flash of shame and vivid hatred had been something he'd imagined. Not even his imagination was that good.

Maybe she's not a hostile at all, Michael reasoned internally as he looked away to keep anyone from detecting his observation. It could be that she's spying on her own kind so she has as much as possible to offer me when she eventually decides to come find me. Was that what she did last the time?

Since Michael's life had been nothing but war for so long, it was a little hazy looking back at the memories from the short period of time that Courtney had been in his life. It meant that Michael couldn't remember exactly what had taken place down to the smallest detail, but after a moment of deliberation, he decided that it didn't matter. If Courtney's really on my side, I have to save her this time. I can't let her die for me again.

Vara brought him back to the very dangerous present, and Michael calmly did as demanded when she ordered him and Kyle to turn around. Soon after that he felt her cold, clammy hands on his wrists where she bound him in chains. Kyle's grunt of pain told Michael that the still groaning male Skin had bound his wrists a little too tightly for his liking, but there was nothing to do about it.

"Don't worry about that little pinch of pain," Vara soothed with a condescending smile, she even patted Kyle's hair mockingly. "It's merely the beginning of the kind of pain you are about to experience, Your Majesty. Despite his other faults Sirl is very good at inflicting pain."

The stiffening of Courtney beside him was the only warning that Michael got. One breath later, Kyle broke out into screams of pure agony, his voice cracking halfway as he toppled over backwards to the floor, convulsing violently with Sirl calmly following with his right hand placed on Kyle's chest.

"A pity," Vara's tone was beyond haughty as she slowly sidled up to Michael's side, "I honestly didn't think that the human DNA would turn such an otherwise strong race so utterly pathetic."

The sight of Kyle trembling and crying out in crippling pain was one of the hardest things Michael had ever seen. He'd rarely felt as helpless as he did in that moment and he couldn't stop thinking about Tess' reaction to what Kyle was going through. At least Maria is somewhat used to it, but Tess is flying completely blank…I don't think Nasedo taught her all that much about bonds of love

Finally, when bloody foam started running down Kyle's chin, Michael couldn't stand it anymore. "Stop it! He'll die! You fucking cowards!"

Vara ran her fingers through Michael's hair, and he cringed at the unwelcome touch. "The General is speaking the truth, Sirl. We must make sure they both survive or else we'll never achieve the Granolith's location."

Sirl stepped back, removing his hand from the spot on Kyle's torso where it had been planted since the torture began. Vara looked between him and Michael, "but of course, we can spend a little time seeing if the pathetic human race's influence has ruined the formerly so admirable General; don't you agree, Sirl?"

The answering half smile that the male Skin sent Vara was disgusting, flakes of melting skin falling off his face at the movement. Vara merely returned the smile and gestured from Sirl to Michael.

He only had a few seconds to close off the connection between Maria and him as much as possible before Sirl's long-fingered hand found his chest and instantly pain practically exploded behind his eyelids. Michael lost all reason and didn't even feel himself falling to the floor in much the same manner that Kyle had just done.

Kyle's POV

It took him a while before he regained the ability to think let alone function. As he blinked into the real world again, Kyle vaguely noticed that someone else was screaming hoarsely now, and that he should probably try and help that person out, but it was as if his body was someone else's; it tingled, burned and trembled incessantly and he felt as weak as a newborn kitten. He could feel that there were tears in his eyes and his nose was runny so Kyle absentmindedly wiped it with the back of his shaking, still bound together, hands only to discover that the fluid on his face was all blood.

What the hell happened? He wondered, inching himself back on his feet carefully. Something was churning in his gut, and after a moment of weary thought, Kyle recognized it as a flare from the newly formed connection he shared with Tess. God, I hope she didn't feel all of that. I may not love her as Michael loves Maria, but I sure as hell wouldn't want her to suffer through that…

He'd never felt worse pain in his life, past and present combined and for one brief second, it shamed him to realize that he was hesitant to jump back into the line of fire to protect his friend. Fortunately, it didn't last long and Kyle made a move to jump Sirl, who looked way too content considering half his face was rotting away.

Just as he'd taken a few steps, something stopped him. A grip on his arm that made him moan with pain, evidently his abused nervous system couldn't yet bare to be touched. An unfamiliar voice distracted him from the soreness, and Kyle turned his head a fraction to look at the other female Skin.

She looked distraught, her eyes never leaving the convulsing Michael on the ground. "Don't get yourself killed, I can't protect you if you get subjected to that again in such a short time," she murmured, barely audible with the screams from Michael taking up most of the sound. "Your death will cause more pain to the General than I can allow…"

Kyle wanted to rage, ask the strange woman what the hell she was talking about, but he found it impossible to tear his eyes away from the sight in front of him. Michael's suffering because of me, he thought guiltily, vaguely recalling Michael ordering them to stop hurting him. I have to do something…but I'm weak, I can't do anything. I'm gonna have to watch him die like they once saw me die. Fuck, I can't let that happen, those bastards!

As the rage continued to build like a tidal wave inside of Kyle, he absentmindedly felt a nearly forgotten sensation grow inside of him; it was something he hadn't experienced in what felt like forever. The machines that powered the incubators all around him were beginning to call out to him, calling for his attention, begging to assist with his outpouring of justice.

It's…It's my powers, Kyle realized with a start, and in that moment, he felt a small spark of gratitude to Sirl's heinous act of torture because somehow it seemed to have awakened his dormant abilities.

"Hey, Freddy Krueger!" Kyle roared. It was like all his pain and fear was blown away with the knowledge of his upcoming battle. "Get your hands off of him right now!"

Sirl growled at him and pointed his free arm toward Kyle with a maniacal laugh that normally would've cautioned the cop's son, but not now. Instead he merely ripped his arm out of the seemingly friendly Skin's grip and raised both his arms in the air with a cry of pure jubilation and his eyes shut firmly as he reached out to his long missed powers.

The watery fluid in the incubators began to bobble ominously at the same time that the hum of electricity started to increase more and more. Kyle opened his eyes, knowing from past experience that they were now glowing pure white, and smiled toothily.

"It's payback time."

And then everything exploded into action…

TBC…
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A/N So, yeah, I made Alex into a mutated Jasper from Twilight, only a lot more deadlier, talkative and a lot less bloodthirsty;) Reason for it being the counseling session that Topolsky gave him once, it listed him as being perfect as a psychologist and I guess I just took that one step further. I'm also aware that I'm taking a lot of artistic license with the fact that Max & co. can reach their destinations so fast, but let's just say it's okay and get on with it.

And as I said up top, I will try to answer more questions in the next chapter:) Feel free to leave a comment or two below and make my day:D

Until Next Time
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maipigen
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Re: The Antarian Timetravellers TEEN/MATURE CC CH. 27 09/01/

Post by maipigen » Mon Oct 08, 2012 12:31 pm

Big, adoring thanks to Marzmez for the beta help, it was sorely needed.


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A/N So, here I am again with a relatively short chapter, but it had to be done. It's not packed with a lot of action, but consider it an interlude to better and bigger things. Enjoy and as always, big adoring thanks for the lovely comment of the last chapter!



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Last Time on TATT:Max, Michael, Kyle and Isabel decide to be proactive. Max and Iz tries to heal Serena, who somehow refuses from beyond the grave of her other life. Michael and Kyle gets caught in Copper Summit and tortured viciously until Kyle's hidden powers suddenly decide to make an unexpected, but very needed appearance...


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CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT

Courtney's POV

Initially, Courtney had been relieved when she discovered that her esteemed General was in Copper Summit, but after one look at him, she realized that he was only a boy playing a grown man's game of chicken at the wrong time and place.

That didn't diminish her original devotion to the man, but it did allow Courtney keep her cool more easily as her arrogant superiors taunted not only her, but him as well. Then the torture began. Her vigorous training kicked in and she stopped the King from saving him when he tried to intervene even though he had just survived a bout of torture himself.

It was the only way, she thought at first, only to realize soon after, with a startling clarity, that she didn't really know anything at all.

The tubes with the growing husks suddenly exploded and a suffocating power unlike anything she'd ever experienced seemed to envelope every molecule of the large room. The wires connecting the whole panel seemed to leap up as if alive, hugging the former Antarian king with reverence and devotion. It would've disturbed Courtney more if it hadn't just roasted two of her old enemies in a matter of minutes stopping her general's pain.

Instead of freezing like a dear in the headlights, Courtney leapt to Michael's side and checked his vitals. He groaned loudly when she unceremoniously lifted his eyelids to see if there was any semblance of intelligence left fearing that Sirl torture had only left behind a mass of pain.

"…Courtney…?" His name on her lips was a shock, and confusion flowed into her. How did he know of her existence? Especially with the fake name she'd barely begun using on this god forsaken planet.

"Shh…General," she soothed, and helped the much larger man to his feet with a strength that her own small stature should not have been able to do, if truth be told. "I've got you now. But…" her eyes glanced at the other male warily, "you may want to calm your King, he's a little too trigger happy right now for my taste."

"My king?" Michael's voice was hoarse and rusty, which wasn't a big surprise given the amount of screaming he'd done, but the confusion in it was still clear and Courtney pointed her chin in the direction of the one she was talking about.

Before he could say another word, the door to the room suddenly exploded into million pieces and in stormed two people that Courtney didn't recognize at first, but then the admittedly beautiful female looked her over with a ferocious gleam in her eyes, and that look just screamed 'Vilandra'.

Immediately, Courtney spun the still dazed Michael behind her and raised her hands, ready for anything. It proved to be bit of overkill, since neither of the new arrivals paid her much attention; their focus was solely on the former king and the obvious show of power he was giving.

"Kyle?" The one who used to be Vilandra exclaimed, and at the sound of her voice the guy's attention seemed to fall apart and the power lines and wires suddenly dropped to the ground, lifeless once more.

"Isabel…Max!"

The last male, Max stood by the door and when her gaze locked with his, Courtney once more realized that she was missing something very important. There was power in those unfamiliar eyes, power and determination, and in that moment the Skin didn't doubt for a second that if she stepped one toe out of line she'd be dead before her next breath.

I…I've never seen anything like this before, Courtney thought, fighting back a shudder. She was a warrior! Then, a vague memory slipped through her mind of a time when she'd done reconnaissance on Zan and the rest of the Royal Four, in an attempt to infiltrate the Antarian forces and get close to Rath.

The King had stood in front of some unnamed soldier, who'd betrayed his platoon to save himself, thus leaving them to die a painful death. Even though she'd always considered Zan weak and without any abilities to speak off, compared to his General at least; the rightful King, there had been a spark of something much deeper that had shook her foundations a little. At least enough to never forget the raw power that had been glimpsed as he'd ordered and executed the kill order on the soldier before him.

In the next moment, Courtney just knew who she was looking at, and her eyes quickly darted over to the strange man, who was busy being thoroughly examined by a fussing Vila…Isabel. "He's not the king," she whispered softly, absentmindedly helping Michael back on his wobbly feet.

"What?" Michael was the only one to react to her words, but before Courtney could reply or even ask questions, there was a sickening sound, like something exploded in on itself and melted at the same time.

Oh no, Courtney darted forward to the one, now ruined, tube where her own husk had been growing perfectly. She sank down to her feet, eying the bubbling mass that should've been her savior in only a few years. This shell will only last a few years more at most; she fought back the burning in her eyes that would've otherwise made her weep like a child. I'm going to die now; nothing left to fight for

A movement out of the corner of her eye managed to grab Courtney's attention momentarily and she looked over at Michael, who was muttering quickly to the man that was so very obviously Zan. Unless, she continued to herself and slowly got back to her feet, I do what I set out to do and fight for my general.

"Stand back, Courtney," the voice of the one who used to be Zan ordered coldly, his dark eyes assessing her and apparently finding her wanting. Without knowing why exactly, Courtney froze immediately and hoped to the Gods he wouldn't kill her before she could finish her self-appointed goal.

Then, like a lightning bolt, it hit her. "How do you know my name?" she asked, and the look Michael and he exchanged, along with the sudden frozen figures of Isabel and Kyle told her she'd picked up on something important.

"We can't stay here for long, Max," Michael cut through the tension with a sigh, his form still trembling slightly after the abuse that Sirl had put him through. It didn't go unnoticed by the Skin that he'd completely neglected to answer her question. "There's bound to be more Skins coming the longer we stay here…and I don't know about you guys, but my tank's running on empty right now."

Max nodded and Courtney frowned; it wasn't that she'd expected the famed general Rath to openly disobey or belittle his king, but she was surprised at the almost tangible feel of trust and loyalty between the two of them.

Before she got a chance to think more about that unforeseen obstacle on the road to get Michael on the throne, Isabel spoke and distracted her. "We have to go home and rest, the husks are gone so the threat of the Skins is too, right? Maybe we'll –"

"That's not entirely true," Courtney interjected and hurried to continue when Isabel turned to look at her with narrowed eyes. "You have gotten to most of this town's big hitters, yes, but our leader is out of town...in fact he's on his way to your town…if he's not already there."

"What do you mean?" Michael asked, leaning a bit more heavily on Max's shoulders, his exhaustion becoming more apparent. "We haven't done anything to attract Nicholas' attention to us; we were supposed to be safe."

"Well," Courtney bit her lip anxiously before continuing quickly, "we've been keeping track of one of the original guards sent with you and recently the other one arrived. The surveillance team on them managed to intercept a conversation where your location came up. Sorry."

Courtney had heard a lot of curse words during her stay on Earth, but even she was slightly overwhelmed at the stream of expletives that erupted out of Isabel's mouth. Eventually, she regained her self-control a bit and turned away from Courtney to address her brother, "I told you Nasedo was gonna be trouble! He's betrayed us again; we have to do something about it."

Feeling like she was acting more like a broken record than anything else, Courtney cautiously interrupted yet again, "that's not entirely true either, Princess."

It was only the fact that she prided herself on her courage that Courtney managed to avoid flinching at the deathly glare she received for her continued interruptions. None the less, she spoke rather quickly so as not to infuriate the temperamental blonde. "The Guardian didn't betray you voluntarily. He was overheard during a shoot in L.A. Apparently; he's found work as the other Guardian, Cal Langley's, assistant or something. I guess they thought it was safe to talk in the middle of a busy movie production. He had no idea my race was even there."

"What about those nasty shedding skin calling cards you people tend to leave behind?" Kyle asked, his face screwed up in distaste at the thought and Courtney, feeling a little offended on her species' behalf, sneered coldly at him.

"Well, you have to get used to that, won't you, since you were the one that destroyed our solution to that pesky problem. Thanks for that by the way!"

"I'd do it again in a heartbeat, Lady," Kyle growled right back, and Courtney forced herself to stay still when the wires at his feet started twitching ominously like rattlesnakes. She may be powerful, but she was by no means stupid enough to think that she could handle his peculiar ability alone.

"Hey! Relax," Max cut through their argument with a wave of his hand. His dark eyes were trained on Courtney, as he spoke again. "So Nicholas knows about Roswell. Does he know about the Granolith? Won't he return if you call him and say you've captured three of the Royal Antarians?"

Oh crap, Courtney damn near wilted under the penetrating gaze. For some reason, all of her earlier conviction about Zan being weak had completely left her and she had an inkling that she was going to feel something a lot worse when she told him the rest of her knowledge.

"…H-He doesn't know that there's three of you here…He thinks…" Courtney found it unbelievably hard to finish her next words, but she finally managed after a deep breath of calming air. "He thinks it's the perfect opportunity to capture your weaknesses while you're distracted here."

"Our weaknesses?" Michael frowned, glancing at an equally confused Isabel. Max on the other hand seemed to get what she was implying incredibly fast judging from the way he immediately tensed up.

The air around his body shimmered with undeniable power, and his growing rage was clear in his voice when he finished explaining things for her. "He's going after the two people that we were married to on Antar. He's after Isabel and Tess."

Isabel cursed, Michael frowned and to Courtney's surprise, Kyle rapidly paled and placed his hand on his sternum in an almost soothing manner. It didn't make what she had to do next any easier, and she stepped backwards a few steps before for the third time uttering the phrase, "That's not entirely true…"

"He's aware of Isabel's existence, true…but…err…" Courtney hated the show of fear she couldn't quite repress, and straightened up with all her effort, "he didn't know about the one you call Tess. I just found out about her earlier today during my private research; he thinks that the one you call Liz is the former queen."

"Liz?" The air crackled with power that made Kyle's earlier show seem like child's play, and to Courtney's private disgust and horror, she felt a piece of dried skin peel off her face and land on the ground, unable to survive any longer in the smothering atmosphere that Max put out.

"Y-Yes," she wanted to finish her tale as quickly as possible, before Max's abilities ended up killing her fragile husk entirely, "he's convinced that the only reason you'd risk exposing yourself as you did by healing this Liz back in September was because she was your queen. He's gonna try and convince her, and Isabel, to join him and if he can't…he'll…" Another piece of skin began to fall, and Courtney stopped, unable to take anymore.

Max completed her sentence with an eerie expression on his face, "he's going to kill them." A moment later, it was as if the power had been cut off, and Courtney found herself able to breathe evenly again but something told her that it was merely the calm before the storm, so she quickly volunteered to help when Max began to plan their escape from Copper Summit and the fastest way back to Roswell to save that fragile human, Liz, who had no idea what was coming for her.

If she hadn't hated him with a passion, Courtney might have felt sorry for Nicholas, but as it was, she simply agreed to follow the Antarians and kept her mouth shut.

Maria's POV

Maria was tired, tired to the bone in fact. Her every move was sluggish as she took the orders of the customers she hadn't managed to scare away with her make-up free face and glares. Liz was acting the same way she always did, but then again, Maria had always envied her best friend's ability to act cheerful when on the clock.

She acts like nothing's changed, Maria thought as she planted a couple of plates with burgers and fries in front of two people she vaguely recognized as seniors from her school. Glaring evilly at them when they smirked at her appearance, Maria was inwardly proud of herself when both young men instantly focused on their meal and left her alone to ponder how much her life had transformed lately.

Liz has changed more than I like, always looking so pensive and worried when she thinks she's not being watched. Alex is avoiding us both and Michael and the others are definitely going through something pretty horrible considering the tense energy I keep getting from his end, Maria deduced, before glancing over at the last person that knew about the whole Czechoslovakian thing; Tess.

And considering she's one of them, Maria thought as she glanced over at the exhausted form of the curly haired hybrid, who 'd been nursing her blueberry and Tabasco infused pie for over an hour now, she doesn't look like she's as included as the others are. The human blonde forced herself not to think about Kyle's presence once again, still a little miffed about the way he'd somehow wormed his way right into the middle of things.

Eventually, Maria's kind disposition won over her pettiness and she walked over to the blonde, whom, if she was completely honest with herself, she kinda liked.

"You know," she greeted with the first real smile of what felt like ages, "that pie ain't gonna eat itself. I know it's not the flavor that's bad, 'cause my mom made it…Although, now that I think about it, Tabasco sauce can't really taste as good as you Czech's seem to think."

Tess flinched when Maria's voice seemingly woke her up from her own little world, but then she smiled as well, glancing down at the pie in question. "Don't knock it till you've tried it, that's all I'm saying."

Maria shrugged, her nose scrunched up in distaste. "Oh, no, I'm perfectly fine with the whole not burning my tongue while eating sweets thing, but thanks." She paused before she decided to just go with her gut and do what she came for. "Actually, I wanted to know if you're okay? You look worried."

Tess glanced around, probably making sure they weren't overheard, Maria correctly assumed, before she leaned over the counter and murmured, "I think something's not right with the others…I can feel Ky—"

Maria held up a hand and leaned closer herself, "Are you telling me that Kyle Freaking Valenti's connected with you, like Michael is with me?"

For one moment, Tess looked completely abashed, like she'd done something very wrong, but Maria smiled in relief and stopped the hybrid from panicking. "That's great. It explains everything!"

"What?" Tess looked utterly confused so Maria hurried to continue.

"That totally explains why they're letting him in so soon. I mean, I guess it's a little sexist now that I think about it, 'cause Liz and I knew about the bond thing first, but they're probably just worried that our poor little girly hearts can't take as much as a guy can so…" Maria trailed off, slowly moving away from overjoyed to offended. "That's actually really uncool, 'cause we knew first and I can guarantee that I can whoop people's asses a lot better than Valenti can."

"What's my boy gone and done now?" Maria froze alongside Tess at the familiar voice of Sheriff Valenti. They both turned a fraction as the older man slid onto a stool next to Tess with a polite smile on his weathered face. If the sight of the lawman hadn't terrified Maria beyond reason, she would have noticed the almost desperate need in his eyes to know more about his estranged son, she would have taken in the dark bags under his eyes and his sad appearance indicating he was carrying a heavy burden on his shoulders.

But as it was, Maria didn't see any of that; instead, she put on a completely fake smile, pulling out her order pad. "Hi, Sheriff…So what can I get you today? We've got some coconut cream pies that my mom just dropped off an hour ago, if you're interested? Or are you interested in a warm meal; there's a discount on the Will Smith Special today if you order two sets of fries?"

Sheriff Valenti looked bemused at the tense stance that Maria couldn't quite fight back, but he just ordered a coffee to go with a small slump of his shoulders. Obviously her lack of knowledge about his son wasn't what he'd hoped for.

Maria smiled and was about to turn to get the man his coffee when suddenly, Tess grabbed at her stomach with a low moan of pain. Her face twisted in obvious agony and thinking fast, Maria signaled to Liz knowing she was the quick thinker of their group.

Sheriff Valenti frowned with concern at the girl by his side and placed a hand on her shoulder. "Are you okay, Miss Harding?"

"Hi Sheriff," Liz breezed over, looking completely unconcerned and once more, Maria envied her best friend that ability to act as if nothing was wrong, "Tess warned me this would happen, Sir. She's having female problems and they always affect her rather harshly. Isn't that right, Tess?"

As the sheriff paled at the mention of the dreaded monthly problem, Tess nodded frantically. Maria walked around the counter, intending to help Liz get Tess into the backroom, but in that moment her insides erupted into a burning, stabbing pain that made everything else utterly inconsequential.

Oh my God, she mentally screamed out her distress. It was purely by instinct that she managed to keep herself from reacting visibly, knowing that the sheriff wouldn't believe that she too suddenly developed 'female-issues'. She caught Liz's eyes, and it was a true testament to their friendship that the brunette immediately caught on to the fact that something was going on. She quickly handed the sheriff the coffee that Maria had placed on the counter with a beaming smile that barely looked fake.

"Here you go, Sheriff. I'll take over from here. I'll tell Kyle you said hi, if I see him, okay?"

A moment later, Liz had Tess in her arms and was leading her back to the break room with an outward calm that Maria would once again have envied if she wasn't too busy using all her power to remain expressionless from the assault she was undergoing.

What's happening to you, Michael? She thought, her heart pounding with fear at the instinctive knowledge that no matter how bad it was for her, Michael was taking the brunt of it to spare her. In the next second, the pain intensified and Maria couldn't quite withhold a small whimper of pain. Fortunately for her, the sheriff was halfway out the door and next thing she knew, Liz was next to her with Alex of all people towering behind her.

His long arm reached out over Liz's shoulder and grasped her hand firmly and suddenly the pain became much more bearable, allowing Maria to let out a breath of profound relief. Alex staggered for a bit and Maria looked up at him with worry, only to realize that somehow her childhood friend was absorbing the pain and her natural selfless personality quickly acted by shoving his touch off. She almost welcomed the pain as it flooded over her in an instant.

"Maria!" Alex groaned, running a hand over his sweaty forehead. Clearly, the pain had surprised him. Liz looked between them with furrowed brows, seemingly not really understanding what had just happened and just dragged the two of them back to the break room for privacy.

Liz's father merely waved in understanding, when Liz said it was an emergency that needed all of them. Agnes the sour waitress however scowled at having that many more sections to fill.

0o0o0

Ten minutes later, found the quartet sitting in Liz's bedroom with a recovering Maria and Tess. The agony they'd suffered had abruptly ended, leaving them feeling drained beyond anything either of them had ever experienced before. Although, Tess did mutter something about feeling just as tired as if she'd just undergone one of Nasedo's grueling training exercises. She'd flushed right after, still not comfortable thinking about her once upon a time guardian after his actions.

Maria eyed Alex intensely while Liz was busy comforting Tess, trying to explain as much as she could about the bond that they now all had. She didn't think much about the fact that Tess' bond with Kyle was new, and thus didn't explain his long time involvement with the other Czechs. No, her focus was on her gangly friend, who didn't seem to be willing to meet her eyes for some reason.

Finally, Maria's lack of patience won out and she slapped him weakly on his bicep. "Ow!" he hissed, rubbing the abused limb gingerly while Maria rolled her eyes.

"Oh please," she shook her head, "I barely touched you, you big baby. Now quit stalling and tell me what the hell just happened out there."

At her words, Tess and Liz stopped their murmured conversation and redirected their full attention to Alex, who flinched.

"Yeah," Liz spoke softly, eying the now squirming Alex closely with her intelligent brown eyes, "now that I think about it, you were the one to run into my room and get me to help Maria. I wouldn't have known something was wrong with her too if you hadn't told me. Why didn't you just buy the period excuse like Sheriff Valenti did?"

"I…uh…I…" Alex hesitated, and if Maria hadn't been so drained and sore she would've smacked him for real this time. She settled for sneering coldly with a feeling of betrayal warming her insides. Surprisingly, it seemed like Alex could read her because he snapped his eyes to her and flinched ever so slightly.

"Maria quit it, please. I'm not trying to hurt you here, okay!"

Blinking, Maria slowly reached out to grasp Alex's shaking hand, but he pulled away before she could touch him. "Alex, I'm sorry," she said, feeling hurt despite her friend's words.

Alex jumped to his feet, running a hand through his hair in a frustrated manner. "Look, if I tell you this, you have to swear not to freak out and believe me I'll know if you freak out on me." He practically glared at all three girls, and Liz, being the automatic leader in these types of situations promptly nodded.

"We won't," she promised and Maria nodded despite her instinctive knowledge of herself. Her ability to remain calm was stunted in some situations, so she reached into her uniform's skirt pocket and withdrew a small vial of calming drops that she always carried on her person.

"Yeah, we won't" she repeated softly after placing a few bitter drops on her tongue and shuddering in distaste. "We'll try at least."

There was a brief, but heavy silence, where Maria and Tess tiredly leaned up against Liz's sides on the bed, waiting for Alex to reveal whatever he was trying to say. Finally, after a few minutes, he managed to say something that was completely unexpected.

"After I nearly died…No, wait…uhm, to put it simply, I've got powers now."

Maria tried, she really tried, but she just didn't quite know how to process her new knowledge and her usual M.O. took over. "What? You've got powers! You're a Czechoslovakian too, aren't you? How have you kept it secret all these—"

"MARIA!" Alex bellowed and it was almost as if her mouth snapped shut on its own, the raw force in his tone sent out invisible ripples of power that made the hairs at the back of her neck stand up. Tess moaned pathetically as if she could feel it much more clearly than Liz, who merely frowned and leaned forward sharply, gaining their gangly friend's attention.

"Calm down, Alex." Her voice seemed to penetrate his abrupt anger and Maria felt able to breathe again, absentmindedly rubbing the spot where she could still feel the pained exhaustion of Michael. The weakness she could feel frustrated her and worried her all at the same time. It'd only been a short while since she'd seen him and they still hadn't completely cleared the air of everything that'd happened during Liz and Max's capture, no matter how at peace she'd been that first night.

I never realized how much I actually depend on his invisible strength to calm me these days, Maria thought as she sent a slightly sheepish, but apologetic smile at her friend.

"Sorry, Whitman," she murmured and gently reached out to pat his arm, but to hers, and the others shock, Alex jumped backwards and tumbled to the ground in an attempt to avoid her touch. The mere thought of it, hurt Maria's feelings but she tried not to show it visibly. The quick pang in her heart didn't lessen though.

Alex's head snapped up in her direction, eyes wide in nervous eagerness. "No, no, Maria, I'm sorry it's not you, I promise. It's the powers; I think Isabel called it a touch and emotional telepath or something. I can absorb people's emotions all the time, but when there's touch involved it's like it's intensified tenfold and I soak up the feeling and I'm still woozy from when I tried doing it downstairs earlier when you felt that horrible thing from Michael's end."

Maria and the others listened attentively and he continued with a soft sigh as he planted himself in Liz's desk chair, "The thing is, I feel everything all the time now and I'm not really great at it yet and…" Alex suddenly looked years older and almost frightened. Maria had to repress the urge to go hug him as he added in a shameful whisper, "and to make things even better, I seem to be able to somehow project emotions to other people, making a deadly weapon out of it if I'm not careful. I almost killed Isabel…If Max hadn't been there I'd…I owe Max my life."

The air thickened as if Alex was slowly sucking the oxygen out and replacing it with invisible electricity that would burn ones skin off before sucking the energy out of your body, and Maria couldn't move. Her sore body completely forgotten as the adrenaline floored her, but still, she couldn't move away from whatever it was Alex was doing. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see the echoing panic in Tess and Liz's eyes.

Once again, it ended up being Liz, who distracted Alex enough to realize that he was projecting something and hurting us. He groaned and banged his head down on the desk, muttering apologies repeatedly.

"You're gonna figure out how to handle this, Alex. We all believe you're capable. I trust you just as much as I've always done."

Maria jumped in, her friend's obvious self-loathing hitting her hard as she tried to reassure him just like Liz, "She's right, Alex. You will be a lot more badass than any of the bullies at school will ever expect now, but we still trust you without doubt."

Alex straightened up when Tess added quietly that she too wasn't afraid of him and he looked gobsmacked. If she'd taken a pan to his head and smacked him hard, Maria didn't think he'd look as shocked as he did in that moment.

"You really do, don't you? I feel your nervousness, but you're not afraid of me. You're worried about the guys and Isabel…Not me potentially snapping and killing you."

"Oh, please," Maria would've have rolled her eyes if they weren't pounding in her skull, "I don't care how much you can make my insides curl up in fear, 'cause I still have pictures of you in your volunteer uniform at the hospital, remember? It's gonna look good on the entrance to the school if you bug me too much."

Alex laughed and his reaction brought genuine smiles to the girls' tired faces and Maria enjoyed the brief moment of peace, before her worry about Michael and the others seeped back into her mind and took over.

She would've dived into it completely if she hadn't caught the sudden and very intense look that Alex exchanged with Liz. Her eyes were narrowed with something that looked like suspicion and Maria forced herself to pay more attention to the present.

"I have to know a few things before you head home, Alex," Liz said, after a few moments of quiet and Maria frowned with confusion when Alex immediately got red ears and began scratching his right wrist; a clear sign that he was about to lie if pushed too far. Alex was great at many things, but lying wasn't one of them and he had many, many obvious tells, like blushing and scratching his wrist for instance.

"What do you wanna know?"

"Why did you get powers so soon? As far as I know, it usually takes a minimum of one year for the powers of the healed to manifest."

"Wait, what?" Maria sat up straight and glared over at Tess for conformation, not bothering to question Liz about her knowledge because she knew from a lifetime of experience that Liz Parker had ways of obtaining information that no one else had hopes of getting.

Surprisingly it was Tess that ended up answering and Maria could do nothing but stare at her blankly. "It's the prize of the healing, it's something Nasedo told me about once when I tried learning more about my first life and my," her eyes darter over to Liz, who merely nodded encouragingly, "husband. Apparently, on Antar Max's ability to heal was legendary and unheard of before. We can all heal a little, but when he was born, his abilities manifested quite early on and according to Nasedo, his talents were so strong and his healings so intense that he made his patients better than they were before. I don't know much about it and neither did my guardian, but evidently, it's something that Max's human DNA couldn't squash out. He was really, really powerful when he was Zan, and he probably would've gotten even stronger if Khivar's forces and Viland…if he hadn't been killed."

Tess smiled and continued with a bittersweet look in her eyes, "It's funny really. Nasedo always said that Zan was weak, that he wasted his powers on the wrong people and didn't use his potential right, that even the Antarians saw him as a weak king with too little comprehension of reality and now, across the universe and with the DNA of a inferior species, he's stronger than all of us…Got to love the irony."

Not really liking the 'inferior species' comment, but too focused to be truly offended, Maria leaned forward and asked the question she didn't really want the answer too, "So does that mean we'll all get powers too? I mean, we've all been healed by Max at some point."

Tess bit her lip before she nodded slowly. "Yeah, I guess, although I was as confused about the quickness of the manifestation of Alex's powers as the rest of you. By all accounts, it should be Liz to get them first."

Alex shrugged, "it's not hard to guess why. If you're right that Max's powers grow continually, then it makes sense. Besides, he used a lot more juice for my healing than Liz's if I remember correctly."

They all nodded, deep in thought for a while, before Maria took up the conversation again.

"So got any more secrets to share? You might as well get it all out now before we part ways for the day."

In an instant, Alex stiffened with a look like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming truck. Clearly there was more, but he denied it vehemently. If it wasn't for the fact that Maria still felt weak she would have continued the interrogation. In the end she hoped that she'd get another chance in the future to really question him.

He looks so burdened by whatever it is and it's not a good look on him, Maria thought as she took out her cell and called her mom to let her know she'd sleep at Liz's place. She was too tired to go home and knew that Liz wouldn't mind the company.

I just hope that Michael and the others will be back soon so we can finally relax again…I mean
, Maria sighed and burrowed herself closer to Liz, who chuckled and lifted her injured arm out of the way, we're definitely due for some peace and quiet soon.

Alex's POV

It was the emotions that woke him up; the bitter taste of anxiety and rage that grew from within him. Groaning quietly at the pain in his neck from falling asleep in Liz's small desk chair, Alex looked out the window only to discover that it was dark outside and he checked his watch. They'd all been sleeping for a few hours.

"You feel it too," Liz's voice surprised him, and he bit back a curse when he jolted and banged his knees into the desk. Making sure that he hadn't woken Tess or Maria up, Alex met Liz's serious looking gaze.

"I woke up a few minutes ago after feeling practically nothing from my connection with Max," she explained and slowly extracted her limbs from the tangled mess of girls on her bed and began getting up as she added, "I recognize his attempts at shielding me, so I didn't think much of it since he's always been very protective, but I guess he's not that great at hiding for long periods of time and given your new powers, I think you felt it too somehow. Sorry about that by the way."

"It's not your fault. Despite everything, I'd rather be alive to be woken up randomly than six feet under like I would've been if Max hadn't healed me."

"True, I just sometimes forget that it was the only other alternative available, you know?" Liz smiled and in that moment, Alex realized that the brunette looked a lot more mature than he remembered seeing her. Rationally, he knew it wasn't surprising given the way her life had gone ever since last September, but still, it was hard to see firsthand.

And if she's changed that much, what about me? Alex wondered, but shook off his thoughts when Liz spoke again; bending down to grab her flip-flops from under her bed.

"I feel like stretching my legs, get to use some of that energy that's churning in my gut, if you get my drift. Wanna join me? We can talk about what you're not telling us," Alex tensed, unable to think of a good lie, because how did one go about revealing that they'd lived before and that their loved ones had travelled through time to save them, thus mucking stuff up in the process?

It's not exactly something we can chat casually about while taking a stroll, now is it? Alex mentally rolled his eyes at the very idea, just as Liz continued with a small sigh.

"Or, since that idea obviously freaks you out given the feelings you're suddenly shooting out, we could just take a walk and not say anything at all?"

That suggestion was much better and Alex promptly agreed, standing up to grab the light jacket he'd tossed on the floor earlier that evening.

Ten minutes later, Alex was trailing Liz down the stairs and out the backdoor into the small alley after Maria and Tess had both declined to join them. Liz had gently shook both the girls awake to ask them to come with them outside, but they both said that their bodies weren't up for any kind of movement, still being sore from whatever it was that Michael and Kyle had let seep through from their end.

They walked in comfortable silence for a while until Alex couldn't control his doubled dose of curiosity and asked the question that Liz obviously was thinking about as well. "Wonder what's got Max so fired up, huh?"

Smiling softly, Liz shook her head a little. "Honestly, I'm not sure I want to know right now."

"Yeah, I hear you," Alex grinned awkwardly, fighting off a wave of guilt when Liz looked positively dejected as she finished, "Besides, Max keeps so many secrets and he'll never tell me if I ask. That I've learned by now at least."

They walked down Main Street for a while each caught up in their own thoughts, and in Alex's case, guilt. He was busy trying not to project the feelings, using some of the relaxation techniques that Kyle Valenti of all people had given him, spouting something or other about having used them a lot when he first found out in his original timeline.

It's odd to think that in another life one of my old bullies turned into one of my best friends, not to mention a peace loving Buddhist. Of course, in that other life I ended up dead because of Tess Harding, so I'll take this one. The memory of Isabel's robotic tale of his death and Tess' involvement tried to enter his weary mind, but Alex decided to focus on Kyle's advice instead. He genuinely liked the Tess of their current lives and didn't want to sully his still new friendship with her by the memory of that other girl in a life he didn't even remember.

So consumed by battling his irritating powers into a somewhat submissive state, Alex failed to notice that Liz had stopped dead a few steps back. Frowning questioningly, he turned back to her and was about to ask what was wrong, when he caught both the sight and feel of her sudden panic.

Instantly, Alex ran back to her side and followed her line of sight with his heart pounding in his chest and his adrenaline level rising second by second. When his eyes landed on what had freaked his normally so composed friend out, Alex felt confused.

Standing on the other side of the street were two people; a tall skinny man, whose hooknose had clearly been broken more than once, with dark eyes and wrinkled skin. The other one was a kid, a young boy that couldn't possibly be more than thirteen, perhaps fourteen years old. He wore normal teenage clothing, with his dark hair gelled to look windblown, he looked completely normal, but Alex couldn't deny after one quick glance back at Liz that her eyes were locked on the kid and not the more menacing looking man next to him.

"Liz?" Alex asked, feeling conflicting emotions; he could still sort of taste the echoing anger that ran through Liz from Max's end, while Isabel's feelings through his own bond were fearful and suspicious. Adding to this was the overriding panic that seemed to rob Liz of her ability to speak. In the next moment, though, Alex was consumed by a rush of pure unadulterated hate and smugness. He looked over at the weird kid, brow furrowed in concentration.

The feelings emitting from that kid were by no means normal; in fact, they seemed more inhuman than anything else he'd ever 'tasted' so to speak. Not even when he'd been consumed by his own emotions and lashed out at Isabel in school had Alex been so close to losing himself and that scared him more than anything else ever had.

"Alex," Liz voice sounded as if far away, "we have to run. Please, trust me. We have to hide before they get to us."

The much smaller girl grabbed hold of him and Alex found himself halfway dragged further and further away from the creepy duo. He only rediscovered his senses when the kid opened his mouth and called after them, "You can run, but you can't hide." After that started picking up his pace, silently thankful for all the Dodgeball and running around in P.E. that he'd done lately, because something told him that if they didn't keep running, things would get a lot worse than anything he'd ever experienced before.

Let's hope, he thought desperately praying for help, sending as much as he could of his emotions through to Isabel and gasping for air as he rounded yet another corner right after Liz, we can stall things enough for the others to help us or else we'll be dead before sunrise…

TBC…


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A/N Big thanks for any and all comments, I'm itching to hear what you think!

Until Next Time

Ditte Mai
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maipigen
Enthusiastic Roswellian
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Re: The Antarian Timetravellers TEEN/MATURE CC CH. 28 10/08/

Post by maipigen » Sat Oct 27, 2012 5:07 am

Big thanks to my loyal and new reviewers below, I love you all for taking the time to comment!
keepsmiling7 (So happy you like Alex's new destiny;))
emerald123 (I hope Liz's POV will explain things a little. If not, then...two updates in a month at least;))
kissme4ever123 (Thanks:))
Strawbehrry Shortcake (Happy you liked Courtney, I was a bit iffy about including her)
Janetfl (You're gonna hate me...lol)
Earth2mama (Came back as fast as I could. Hope you're not dissapointed over my K/T - they've already connected though, so that's a plus that'll have impact)
AvalonRose (Hope Liz's POV shines some light on your questions:))
Michelle in LA (something tells me you've been a terrible teen hehe;) Glad you liked K's powers!)
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Big thanks to Marzmez for the beta help and the soothing when I suddenly got too nervous about this chapter :)
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CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE

Isabel's POV

There was a tense, uncomfortable silence in the jeep as Max speedily drove back towards Roswell. Isabel eyed the tight grip he had on the steering wheel, preparing herself to take the wheel if his control over his powers snapped.

In the backseat Kyle and Michael were both sitting with their eyes closed and their mouths pinched tightly, both of them clearly exhausted and drained. Courtney was following them in her own car.

The thought of the female Skin, that Isabel honestly barely remembered, was enough to make her cast one more look in the rear view mirror to make sure that the Skin hadn't somehow betrayed them and called in backup on her end.

"She's one of the good guys," Michael mumbled and Isabel looked back at him with raised brows, trying to look innocent. "Don't give me that look," he added quietly, "she died for us in the original timeline and I'm sure she's willing to do it again. If nothing else, she'll be of good use to us."

Hearing that, Isabel sighed softly and turned back around. It's truly a testament to how much we've all changed, she thought, feeling sad for the purity they'd all lost one way or another during their last lives. Michael always wanted to save her if he could, but now he's prepared to use her as a shield to save us first. He'd never even contemplate using an ally or a friend like that before we went through the war.

Kyle groaned and rubbed his stomach fervently, "Damn it, Tess is totally freaking out and her state keeps me from getting some much needed shuteye."

Wisely, Isabel held her tongue. When Michael had revealed that Kyle had bonded with Tess, she'd had to swallow the urge to go hunt the other female hybrid down to kill her as violently as possible. It was still pretty inconceivable to Isabel that Tess of all people had connected so much with Kyle in this new life. They'd acted like siblings in the other timeline. At least until she killed Alex and mindwarped him to carry the body to the car, Isabel sniped inwardly before sighing heavily again.

I promised myself to let the unlived past be the past, Isabel berated herself. Besides, now that I think about it Kyle did tell me he and Tess were hot and heavy before the sibling thing kicked in…, but then he was drunk when he told me, so…Let's just hope it's not gonna be as good for her as it is for me to have a bonded human.

Isabel had only spent a few seconds thinking, but she realized she'd missed something when Kyle's shocked gasp interrupted her thinking. He looked equal parts horrified and guilty, she decided as she glanced between him and a serious looking Michael.

"What did I miss?" she asked, earning herself the attention of the duo on the backseat.

"Why didn't any of you ever tell me how to shield pain from our side of the bond? Tess has had to feel everything from my end since that bastard put the whammy on me!"

Sharing one brief look with Michael and once again noticing how tired he looked, Isabel took over explaining what she could. Gently, she began, "Kyle, we never told you any of it, or showed you for that matter, because it didn't occur to us. Despite the fact that you're family and we've lived - and died in your case - in war, you're not a genetically engineered hybrid. Tess was dead and we really had no way of knowing that this would ever happen. You two were like brother and sister, remember?"

Kyle looked ill at the idea of seeing Tess as a sister now, before he bit his lip and avoided Isabel's solemn gaze. Evidently, he still wasn't entirely comfortable thinking of Tess as more than a sister…or less.

It probably doesn't help his composure that it's me telling him all of this, Isabel reasoned and turned back in her seat with a small smile of comfort, we were actual lovers once – even if it only did happen one time – so it's bound to be weird getting the knowledge from me, finding out that a lot more is happening behind the scenes than he'd ever really understood.

Speaking of behind the scenes, Isabel looked over at the eerily silent Max, finding him in the same state than before. I can't wait to find out what happened back there with Serena and why we aren't gonna go track down Sydney and the others

With one last look at her brother and her boys in the back, Isabel slowly leaned back in her own seat, staring out at the passing scenery. She was trying to charge up her batteries, so to speak, knowing that if she kept looking at Max, she wouldn't be able to keep from begging him for answers.

Besides, Isabel's mouth twitched a little, as her right hand rubbed her sternum a little; I need to keep calm so Alex doesn't get too much on his plate. He deserves some peace and quiet.

0o0o0

It was a few hours later, the sun was setting slowly on the horizon, bathing them all in its glowing colors before it all turned dark and stars began to twinkle up in the sky.

Isabel would probably have enjoyed the sight a lot more, if her entire being hadn't suddenly been enveloped with a wave of chaotic emotions. It took her a moment, which felt like eternity, to sort through some of them, finding pure adrenaline fueled fear to be the most dominant one.

"Alex," she gasped, clenching the dashboard in front of her as she tried to come to grip with what was happening on the other end of her bond.

In the midst of her own feelings, Kyle and Michael's nervous 'are you okay's' from the backseat, Isabel vaguely noticed that Max was bent forward as well, his entire form shaking as if he too was in distress.

"Max…" she managed to whisper, bringing everyone's attention to him, but he merely grit his teeth and floored the accelerator.

The air in the Jeep compressed, became hot and smoldering, and Isabel's gasps for air did nothing to help her gain the least bit control over her own body.

"MAX!" Michael's bellow and Kyle's subsequent use of powers to somehow stop the car in the middle of the road finally reached Max enough for him to regain his senses; at least enough to stop reacting visibly and hurting the rest of them.

They sat there for several unending minutes while Isabel tried all she could to project as much calm and silent support to Alex, even as his emotions kept almost bowling her over from their massive intensity. She tried to listen to Michael's questioning of Max, who replied in short, distracted sentences like he too was being overwhelmed by Liz's feelings.

The growing panic and confusion that Alex was going through and the fact that she couldn't help him was nearly Isabel's undoing, but she reached into that unwanted part of herself that had lived through war and tragedy to find her inner strength once again.

A few more moments passed by before she felt more or less in control again. Turning to her brother, Isabel quietly asked the question that would determine what would happen next. "How far away from Roswell are we?"

Max glanced at her, briefly ripped away from his own personal torment to answer. "If we hurry, maybe half an hour, but probably a little more."

"Then what are we waiting for?" Isabel looked back at Kyle with a raised brow, "fix this damn car and let's go before we end up losing our family again."

Kyle nodded and closed his eyes, drawing strength from within before there was a slight coughing sound from the engine of the Jeep and the engine came back to life. Max didn't turn to thank Kyle, already putting the vehicle back into gear and racing onwards with a silent air of pure desperation around him.

Isabel managed one sincere smile herself, before her mind was once more caught up in whatever Alex was going through. Please, she began to pray, feeling more desperate for some kind of luck than she'd been since the time she, Michael and Max had been barricaded in the cave with the Granolith to begin finalizing their plan to travel back in time. Please don't let us be too late this time. I can't lose any one again; I can't live without Alex one more time. Please give us the time we need to save them all…

Next to her, Max's fingers kept clenching and unclenching around the steering wheel, his dark eyes trained on the road ahead, completely focused on getting to his soul mate in time and for one short second, Isabel almost felt bad for Nicholas and those who'd gone after Liz. At least, until another spike of pure fear raced through her and Isabel lost every other thought in her head that wasn't focused entirely on Alex.

We're coming, Alex, she thought, praying he'd hear her wherever he was, just hang in there for a little bit longer.

Liz's POV

"Come on, get in here," Liz was gasping, but her voice was firm as she grabbed her friend and all but shoved the bigger boy in behind a dumpster that was standing near the public library. It was as far away from The Crashdown as she'd been able to manage in an attempt to make sure the Skin, Nicholas didn't find Maria or Tess.

"Do you think they saw us?" Alex was panting a lot more than she was, but it wasn't exactly surprising. Alex was a lot of things, but an athlete wasn't one of them.

Liz dared to move out of her crouch to check, only to find that unfamiliar male Skin standing mere feet away from their hiding spot in the dark. She instantly moved back with a silent gasp of surprise. Shaking her head and gesturing to be quiet, Liz took a brief moment to think over what had made her run before the two strangers had even spoken to them.

It was hard to explain but the moment she'd laid eyes on them, Liz had known that they were Skins, despite the fact she really had no idea what that meant. A small part of her had flashed back to one of those too short memories she'd unlocked or whatever it was, during her torture at Agent Pierce's facility. That had been where she'd gotten the name of the young boy, Nicholas, and somehow known without a shred of doubt that he was the real danger to them; not the much bigger and much more intimidating figure next to him, but the teenager himself.

Liz chanced one more quick peek to see if the coast was clear to move again and breathed a sigh of relief to see that no one was around. Nodding to Alex for him to follow her, Liz slowly got back up from her crouch and immediately darted in the same direction they'd just come from.

She heard Alex right behind her and Liz was sure they'd manage to escape unscathed until suddenly she heard an undignified yelp and a curse and even without turning around, Liz knew that Alex had been caught. For one selfish second, Liz wondered if she could go on and live with herself, but her inner goodness prevailed and she slowly turned around.

Her eyes locked first with Alex, who looked terrified and angry all at the same time. His emotions seemed to be in his control, but she credited that to the fact that the large man holding him was remarkably calm and that was probably keeping Alex grounded in the midst of everything. Letting her eyes move a bit to the right, Liz's gaze landed on Nicholas.

The otherworldly eternal teenager looked positively smug. He was a little winded as well, and Liz figured he wasn't used to moving around that much. She took perverse pleasure in seeing the sweat on his face; half-way hoping that he'd succumb to the exhaustion and drop dead.

"Hello, Ava," he greeted her with a mocking bow that made Liz bristle defensively.

"I don't know what you're talking about," she responded harshly and added, "let my friend go!"

The smug look turned into a condescending smirk that danced on his prepubescent lips, "Well, I would," he said, "but he may be useful to us yet - Especially if he means enough for you to stop running away. Things will be a lot easier on all of us if you just listen to what I have to say and do exactly as I demand."

"I'm not good at following orders," Liz bit out through a clenched jaw, while inwardly her mind was running a hundred miles per hour. Ava? Why does that name sound so familiar? He's convinced I'm her, but I'm just Liz Parker…A brief image blew through Liz's mind and suddenly she had an image of a very weird looking Tess with pink highlights and piercings.

She tried to keep her facial expression completely bland even as she desperately attempted to beat down the growing rush of images flooding her mind. This is so not the time, she thought angrily, I don't have to know stuff like this right now, I only need to know that these people are evil and we're in danger if we don't figure something out as soon as possible!

Using as much willpower as she could, Liz slowly managed to push her confusing mindscape aside enough for her to concentrate more fully on the matter at hand: Saving Alex and getting away from Nicholas without leading him to her other friends.

"If it makes you feel any better," Nicholas' tone was grating on Liz's last nerves, but she didn't react visibly other than deepening her scowl, "don't see it as following orders, but giving in to my request."

"Well," Liz sighed, her heart pounding a million miles per hour in her chest, sending a no doubt staggering amount of emotion Max's way, "when you put it like that…Please let my friend go, and I'll do whatever you want."

The enemy alien was tempted, it was obvious. He barely glanced at Alex as he started to struggle more desperately. "Don't! I'm not worth it," he cried out, doubling over in pain when his captive punched him savagely in the gut to silence him.

"Alex," Liz waited till he looked up again, an idea forming in her mind "I wish you could feel what I'm feeling right now…" His eyes glinted with understanding as she continued in a deceptively sad tone of voice, "It's devastating and I don't want to feel like this anymore, so I have to try to save you – to save us all." Please let him get it, she prayed silently with baited breath.

A beat of silence went by before Alex sighed and straightened up. Nicholas and the other eyed them both with suspicion until suddenly, Alex closed his eyes and something took away their ability to concentrate altogether.

Liz was affected too, her heart constricting painfully and she didn't know whether to scream out in agony or hope for the relief of passing out. She'd hoped his newfound powers could help if he really cranked it up, but this was too much, too hard, too sad—

"LIZ!"

She was roughly, but thankfully, pulled out of her mounting despair when Alex's arms shook her wildly an undisclosed amount of time later. Glancing under his arms, Liz caught sight of both Nicholas and the other one lying on the ground, moaning with their eyes firmly shut and their hands in their hair. To her disgust there were several pieces of skin on each of their cringing faces that seemed to be in the midst of falling off. She had to look away and swallow deeply a few times to beat off the wave of nausea the sight caused her.

"Snap out if it," Alex yelled and began dragging her away from the downed aliens with as much speed as he could manage. That was when Liz noticed the light sheen of sweat on her friend's pale skin and the dark circles under his eyes; clearly it had taken a lot out of him to purposely use his new abilities and she felt a rush of guilt that finally managed to send her right back to herself again with a resounding bang.

"Come with me!" She hissed and took over the dragging part and pulled on Alex's long arm to get him to follow her. "We'll find somewhere quiet long enough for us to call for help and to warm Maria and Tess to be careful too."

Some minutes later found the fleeing duo in the only other populated area in town in the evenings; the local pool hall slash bar that Liz had a weird sense of déjà vu in as soon as she stepped through the door. The loud music and the chattering of dozens of people rattled her even as she felt grateful for their presence. A small part of her hoped that Nicholas wouldn't publicly make a grab for her, that he still needed to maintain at least some semblance of normalcy in the world.

"Do you have your cell phone with you?" she asked Alex as soon as they'd walked into the most crowded area of the room. His dejected expression told her the answer before he even spoke.

"I didn't think we'd need it, Liz. It was just supposed to be a quick walk, nothing else. How was I to know that we'd be running for our lives and—"

"Don't worry, Alex," she interrupted before his anxiety could take over his exhausted state of mind, hoping that the chaos of different emotions in the room would make sure he could take out any specific feelings to feed on so to speak. "There's a payphone in the hall by the restrooms, I'll go call Maria to warn her and Tess and you can call Isabel right after that."

Alex looked sheepish, embarrassed almost, clearly he hated not being completely in control of himself and Liz didn't blame him one bit. "I don't think we have to call Isabel and tell her anything…I….uhm," he glanced around to make sure no one was listening in on their conversation, "I think my ability heightened our connection. I haven't gotten a complete handle on this power, or anything and I'm almost sure my reaction to that kid and my brief stint as a hostage kinda tipped her off big time. Her emotions are running rampant with worry, anger and fear right now. I guess it's lucky I'm so beat or I'd be hyped up on it way more than I am already."

Frowning a little at Alex's words, Liz simply nodded and asked for money to the telephone, in case her limited amount wasn't going to cut it, because Maria did have a tendency to babble incessantly during freak outs.

And let's face it, Liz thought, making her way through the throng of people around her, this freak out may be putting the other ones she's had lately to shame. I just really hope her screams won't attract attention from Mom and Dad or any of the Skins

As she quickly dialed the number to Maria's phone, Liz pondered over Alex's words about Isabel and their bond. It's weird; she thought as she listened to the tone in her ear, I've barely felt Max since before he left. There was that odd spike of anguish and hurt earlier, but since then it's like it's just gone. Like he doesn't want me to know what's going on with him anymore after I asked for time to think…I guess our bond just isn't as strong as the other's– Hell, even Kyle Valenti is involved with Tess now for some reason and

"Who's this?" Maria's voice brought Liz tumbling back to the present and it took her a few seconds to get her mouth working properly. Seconds that immediately kicked up her best friend's paranoia. "I swear, if you don't stop breathing heavy like a pervert, I'm gonna go all over town until I find you and then I'll definitely show you that my cute blonde self is way more than you could ever handle so stop freaking me out by calling with secret numbers and crap."

She'd probably have continued for a while yet, but Liz raised her voice as much as she dared and cut through any further rants. "Maria DeLuca, quick acting crazy and listen to me!"

"Liz?"

"Don't freak out, okay." Liz cursed inwardly when Maria's voice immediately turned up so high that dogs in Canada could probably hear it and tried again, "Maria; you need to listen and do exactly what I say, okay?"

"…O-Okay," the reply was hesitant, but firm and Liz quickly told Maria what had happened ever since she and Alex had decided to go out for a walk.

0o0o0

Nearly twenty minutes later, Liz and Alex were getting a few looks, standing as they were next to the most active pool table, where their teenage selves didn't exactly fit in with the middle-aged biker types that were playing. And it doesn't help that Alex's anxiety is affecting everybody, cranking us all up with paranoia, Liz thought, forcing herself to stop fidgeting, Or that just before we walked over here, I had a screaming match to calm Maria down over the phone

Liz didn't get more time to think about how Maria's screech of fear and outrage most likely had awoken the entire neighborhood, considering the yelp from Tess she'd heard in the background as the hybrid was shocked into wakefulness. Just as she'd decided to go back and call her friends again, there was a sudden hush in the crowd and Liz didn't need Alex's flinch to tell her that they'd been found.

Before anyone realized what was happening, Liz grabbed Alex and they snuck out the backdoor and into the alley that ironically enough they'd both hid in earlier that night. Sadly, they didn't get far.

Nicholas' accomplice stood watch at the only escape route and Liz's heart rate went right back into overdrive the second she spotted him. It didn't take long before Nicholas showed up as well, standing mock casually behind them in the doorway.

"Fancy meeting you here," he said, smiling coldly with anger burning in his eyes. Evidently, he didn't care much for the hide and seek aspect of the evening so far. Liz didn't feel that bad about it, but she did swallow down her fear at the idea of angering the alien more.

At least we got to warn Maria and Tess, Liz tried calming herself down a bit as they all stood immobile for a long second, Alex can use his powers again when he's gotten a little more rest and I'll…I'll stall as much as I can.

"Now, Little Girl," Nicholas' tone was eerily polite, making Liz want to rebel, but she forced her instincts down. "We're gonna talk and that human of yours better watch it or else…Do I make myself clear?"

"Crystal."

"Kent, make sure he can't do that shit again," Nicholas ordered and before Liz – or Alex for that matter – could do more than cry out in objection, the large Skin, Kent catapulted into movement and a few seconds later, Alex was lying unconscious on the ground, bleeding from a rather nasty looking head wound from where Kent had slammed his fist into his temple.

Liz moved to run to him, but Nicholas raised a finger and shook his head warningly. Unable to stand looking at the deceptively innocent face, she turned and stared down at her hurt friend. Please somebody find us, she prayed fervently, Alex has to get help.

"Now," Nicholas spoke again, ending Liz's brief stint into desperation long enough for her to glare heatedly down at him, "don't look at me like that, we needed to talk and with that distracting you, you'd never really listen. So, I did you a favor, Ava."

"My name isn't—"

"No, I apologize," the teenage looking alien raised his hands in fake apology, "I should call you your new name, Liz. It's just that, since I last saw you, you have changed so much that it's hard to remember you're actually you if I don't use your original name. I'll do better from now on, you have my word."

"I don't want anything from you."

"I know, but consider it a pleasantry then, because I need you to listen to me so I can report back to my boss that I did what I could."

Liz crossed her arms, thinking hard in a try to find some kind of solution, but Nicholas seemed to take her silence as agreement and stepped closer with a little bit of caution.

"Now, I'm well aware of you Antarians and your superior abilities, but I'd appreciate it if you didn't…Oh, wait; Ava has never been the biggest combat oriented person so I doubt it will have transferred over to you so much." He grinned and for one moment, Liz wanted nothing more than to be able to use some kind of powers on him, killing him on the spot, but her natural personality took over and she felt horrified over the unexplained bloodthirstiness she'd suddenly sported.

"Before you say anything," Nicholas continued, obviously not worried in the least about her supposed powers now that Alex was out from the count, "consider me a friend. I'm here to help you, believe it or not. You've always had a great tendency to follow wholeheartedly after that fool husband of yours, but I'm here to warn you that the loyalty you have for him is in vain and also," his smug smile returned tenfold before he added, "Khivar has informed me that not everyone of the Royal Four are as loyal as you are."

For some reason, Liz knew exactly what to say and before she could talk herself out of it, she opened her mouth to coolly reply, "If you're talking about Vilandra, don't bother with that spiel. She's not her anymore, she's Isabel Evans and she's got a bigger heart than all of us combined. You can't put a wedge through us anymore; she won't betray her family again."

"Well," Liz's heart constricted at the pleased tone in Nicholas' voice, "then I suppose it's good that we've got the queen and not the princess in our clutches. Now, listen here; you will tell that husband of yours to give us the Granolith or we will kill you. You will tell him to get Vilandra to join us so my boss can have his old lover back and," Nicholas grinned evilly and took one step closer to her, "here's the kicker: If you don't do anything, if you don't join of your own free will, we'll kill that boy over there, your so called parents and everyone else you care about on this wretched planet. Do we have an understanding?"

Liz swallowed heavily, frantically trying to get her allegedly brilliant mind to come up with some kind of escape plan, but it didn't seem to cooperate and she wanted nothing more than to fall to the ground and sob her heart out. Instead, she kept her head high and did the only thing she could under these circumstances.

She fought back to save her friends and family. Without a word, Liz exploited the fact that Nicholas had gotten so close to her and swung out her cast clad arm as hard as she could and slammed the would-be-boy right in the throat.

Instantly, Nicholas doubled over, clutching his throat as he gagged violently. Liz heard him croak a curse word but didn't intend to stay around him for too long. Instead, she turned just in the nick of time to avoid a vicious stroke from a growling Kent.

Liz wanted nothing more than to grab Alex and make a break for it, but she knew that it was impossible. Hopefully they'll be so mad at me that they'll forget about him and chase after me, she hoped silently and dodged another strike from the angry Skin.

Using Dodgeball skills that frankly surprised Liz more than a little, she managed to avoid capture for a little while longer and for one short moment, she thought she was going to succeed in her escape plan - Except, Nicholas proved to be a lot tougher than his youthful body seemed.

"Got you, you little bitch," he sneered hoarsely, his voice still suffering from her earlier blow. His slender arms were like steel around her waist and even though Liz immediately used some of the tricks her dad once taught her and tried to head butt the Skin, it was pointless.

"I didn't want to do this," he whispered in her ear, sending puffs of warm, moist air over her skin that sent a shiver down her spine, "but I guess you can't be reasoned with. Kent!" He raised his voice a fraction and the other Skin jogged over to them with a serious expression on his face.

Liz's eyes darted between them as they had what seemed like a silent conversation between them until Kent nodded mutely and held out a hand in her direction. Instinctively, Liz just knew it wasn't a good thing to be touched by him, that she should step up her struggles to get away before it was too late.

She did squirm and move as much as she could, not willing to give up. But even as Liz cried out in refusal to submit she knew it was futile and a mere moment later she was proven right. Kent's scaly fingers touched her forehead and everything in Liz disappeared into a massive swirling vortex of pure suffering just as someone cried out her name.

Tess' POV

She'd been asleep without any of her usual haunted dreams of Nasedo trying to get her to kill her friends, and lately Kyle. It was the sound of hushed yelling that woke her up in the end and Tess yelped a little at the sudden loudness around here. After that she groaned softly, burrowing down in the soft pillow she'd somehow wrapped herself completely around and tried to get back to sleep before her constant worry about Kyle could wake her up entirely.

"…kidding me right now? It's dangerous to you too, I'm not gonna stay here and…No…Liz!"

Maria's voice turned increasingly more panicked and Tess finally opened her eyes and saw her friend pacing furiously back and forward across Liz's bedroom floor. Considering how pained I still am, I'm betting it's hurting her right now so she must really be wired up, Tess surmised and slowly sat up to avoid aggravating the hurting bones inside of her.

Whatever it was that Kyle went through, Tess thought, running a slightly trembling hand through her curls, I just hope it wasn't as bad for him as for me…Oh who am I kidding, she sighed and bit her lip in silent worry, Kyle must have felt it ten times more than me. I hope he's okay

"Tess?" She looked over at Maria, who stood with her cell phone limply in her right hand. The look on Maria's face managed to cut through the haze of weariness that Tess had been battling with ever since Kyle's attack.

"What's wrong? What happened?"

"It was Liz calling to tell us that we're in danger." Maria seemed at the end of her rope, and Tess walked over and hesitantly placed a hand on the other girl's shoulder. Human tendencies like soothing a friend in need were still so very new and foreign to her, but she was damn well willing to give her all.

"I'm listening." Tess murmured and gently led Maria over to the rumpled up bed to sit down more comfortably.

Five minutes later, Tess was shaking and trying to beat down the selfish part of her that just wanted to flee, if not the country then at the very least the state.

"This is bad, Maria," she whispered, feeling completely horrorstruck. "Those Skins, I heard Nasedo talk about once or twice over the years. They scared him and trust me, Nasedo wasn't scared of anything. I hate to say this, but we're really in danger right now."

Maria frowned, her forefinger and thumb fingering a small bottle that Tess recognized as one of Maria's soothing oils. "So what do we do now?"

"We do as Liz said and stay here, I'll put up some kind of barricade and hope it lasts long enough to keep us safe."

"Nah ah," Maria shook her head and stood back up with a speed that Tess didn't know she had in her, "Liz and Alex are out there; they're my two best friends in the whole world. I'm not leaving them alone while I cower here in the dark. Sure, the dark is a nice place where I can hide pretty well, now that I think about it, and I sure as hell don't wanna die or anything, but…" Maria's eyes lit up with a seldom seen light that did something to Tess' innards, something that almost made her feel ashamed more than anything else as the human continued softly, "but I need to do what Liz – and Alex – would do for me and help any way that I can."

"We can't do anything," Tess murmured, only just then realizing that she too had stood up as if to follow the other blonde subconsciously. "We're just two people."

"No," Maria argued with a smile that made her look wise beyond her years, "we're one admittedly dramatic human with crafty planning abilities and one Czechoslovakian who's been raised by a serial killer. I'd say we've got just as good a shot out there as Liz and Alex do."

Tess bit her lip thoughtfully, trying to muster up the courage to exit Liz's bedroom. I've been trained for these types of situations, she rationalized as Maria slowly began to get ready, I wanted to be a part of this and I can't back out just because I'm scared now…Besides I've got Kyle to protect too. He's just a human and he's gonna need me to back him up.

"Fine," she conceded after an image of a hurt Kyle entered her mind, forcing her to admit more than ever that whatever feelings she'd developed for the sheriff's son, they were stronger than she'd ever imagined. "Let's do this."

Maria nodded with a small smile and to Tess' surprise, she held out a hand with a can of pepper spray that she'd seemingly pulled out of nowhere before pocketing it for herself. "What?" her eyes danced with subtle amusement, "Liz is an only child and a girl. Let's just say that Mr. Parker has shown both of us a thing or two over the years and believes in being prepared."

Despite everything that was going on, despite Kyle's repeated spikes of pain and guilt and whatever it was they were about to head out in, Tess couldn't help but chuckle loudly at her human friend's sheepish smile and found in that moment that Kyle suddenly wasn't the only one she was ready to fight for.

0o0o0

Walking down the street with an increasingly more desperate blonde, who was sniffing a bottle of calming drops like nobody's business in the middle of the night, was something Tess had no desire to repeat. Especially since said blonde had not stopped mumbling about how much she really hated evil Czechoslovakians in a more and more loud voice that attracted curious looks from the few people that walked near them on their way.

Finally, Tess had had enough and she turned to Maria with a raised brow. "Look," she hissed angrily, "you're not the only one who's worried, but since it was your idea to leave Liz's apartment in the first place, I'd really like it if you'd just shut up for one little second so we can hear if something's going on that isn't supposed to – you know, so we could actually help if needed!"

Maria did a great imitation of a pout that made her look like a seven year old. Tess doubted the other blonde realized it at the time though, and then she sighed after one long moment of silence. "I'm sorry, Tess. I'm just not good under pressure, I guess. Usually Liz is the one leading me in those kinds of situations…I just really worry about my friends and Michael's not doing well, I can feel it and it worries me and," Maria sighed again and once more looked way more burdened than anyone her age really should in Tess' opinion, "to be honest I'm so scared."

Tess wanted to be able to lend a shoulder for Maria to lean on, but the part of her that had been raised by a merciless guardian turned killer wanted to slap her back into the real world. There was no time for this type of behavior, she could almost hear Nasedo's deep voice in her ear and she had to repress an urge to glance around to make sure he wasn't there. Ultimately though, Tess' newfound softer side won out and she managed to smile briefly with as much reassurance as she could muster up.

"We're gonna help our friends and Michael and Kyle and the others are gonna be fine. Tomorrow we'll all be laughing about this, I'm sure. Now come on, Maria, we haven't even looked inside the place Liz called from yet."

The two girls stood immobile for a moment before Maria's lip twitched self-deprecatingly, "You're not just saying that to make me feel better, are you? 'Cause if you are, you really need to work on your acting skills."

Tess shook her head in denial with a matching smile on her lips and was about to say something when she heard a brief shout not far from where they were standing. Chills travelled down her spine and she shared a quick, anxious look with Maria; that voice belonged to Liz. Before she really knew how, Tess had commanded Maria to stay hidden and had exploded into movement, all thoughts about her own pain forgotten in the face of true danger to one of her only real friends.

She ran like she'd never run before in her life, a few moments later turning a corner and freezing instantly at the sight in front of her. Alex was on the ground, unmoving and Liz was in the arms of what appeared to be an everyday teenager with a huge beast of a man leaning over her.

Just as Tess arrived at the terrifying scene, the man touched Liz and the moaning gasp of pain reminded Tess of her own short minute in pain earlier that day and without really knowing how or why, she just snapped, anger fueling her more than she'd ever felt before in her life.

"GET YOUR FUCKING HANDS OFF LIZ!" she screamed and reached out with all of her being and sent a bolt of crushing power towards the male, whose right arm immediately exploded into millions of pieces, sending bits of skin, bone and blood everywhere.

The scream of agony was like music to Tess' ears and for one short second, she spared enough mental capacity to worry about the pure joy she felt at administrating pain until her attention was caught by the teenager still holding Liz like his little life depended on it.

"W-Who the hell are you?" he sneered after he'd composed himself a little from her icy glare.

"I'm the one who's going to kill you if you don't put down my best friend," Tess practically growled and watched with inward confusion as the boy's eyes suddenly widened, darting from the unconscious Liz, who still seemed to be in pain for some reason, and back to herself.

"She's human," he then murmured and Tess cocked her head a little, feeling an unprecedented and instinctual need to save Max's mate.

"Yeah, and she's my king's woman, so I'd be careful with her if I were you."

"You're Ava?" The boy seemed completely gobsmacked at the whole idea, but Tess, who recognized the name, nodded with a sneer. "B-but you're supposed to be weak, not this…this—"

He stopped and then smiled such a creepy grin and Tess felt a sudden urge to find a washroom to scrub her skin raw. "Well, you're actually the one I came looking for in the first place."

Tess frowned; watching with growing irritation as the teenage enemy unceremoniously threw Liz to the ground and firmly told his moaning partner to shut the hell up. Then, he turned his full attention to her and she had to force herself not to react outwardly.

"Now that we've found the real queen, I have a proposition for you…"

Tess crossed her arms, sensing that for the moment she or her friends weren't in any further danger. "What kind of proposition?"

The young boy grinned widely and Tess' inner alarms started blaring as he calmly told her about wanting her to switch sides. "…and as a bonus," he finished with a grand hand gesture that he might have thought looked great, but in reality made him look foolish, in Tess' biased opinion, "…none of your little weaklings friends will be hurt further, we'll even take them to a hospital to be looked at. So what do you say, Your Majesty?"

Tess swallowed harshly, her heart pumping faster and faster as her mind searched out the best response. If I do as he says, I'll be able to help Liz and Alex to stay alive…If I do as he says, I'll get the power that I've missed my whole life, fulfilling my destiny to be queen like Nasedo always wanted. She bit her lip as a sudden rush of images flashed through her mind; Liz smiling in welcome when she first came to the school, Maria's protective friendship when her fellow hybrids had been less than welcome, Kyle's warm eyes when he'd first met her, Max's solemn face as he promised to stop leaving her out of the group, Alex's worry that she'd reject him for his new power burst, Isabel's beautiful face soft in regret at hurting her feelings, and Michael's rarely seen smile as they stood in the kitchen, trying new recipes that fit their unique taste buds.

"I will kill your friends if you don't make a decision soon," the boy's eerie polite voice told her and Tess forced herself back to the present with a small jolt.

"I…" she took a deep breath and with one final glance over at her downed friends that sent a tug through her heart, Tess continued quietly, "You don't have to do that…I've made my decision."

"Great," the young looking Skin clapped his hands with a smile. "Now, Kent here will make sure your friends are taken to the hospital and we'll talk business, you and I."

"Yeah…" Tess whispered, clenching her hands roughly in growing despair as her mind battled her heart. "Let's talk business."

TBC…

------------

A/N So instead of hating me for another cliffy, than be happy I managed to update a whole two times in one month:) Gotta find the upsides whereever we can, right? Thanks in advance for taking the time to read and if possible, review:)
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maipigen
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Re: The Antarian Timetravellers TEEN/MATURE CC CH. 29 10/27/

Post by maipigen » Thu Dec 13, 2012 2:20 pm

Big Thanks to Marzmez, who worked wonderfully and hard to get this chapter out on this special day!

A/N First off, I have to thank all my readers for their lovely comments and thoughts. It's definitely you guys and girls who's been helping me get this story posted however slowly. Now you're probably wondering what I mean by that thanks to my beta, Marzmez, but it's pretty simple. TATT's turning 3 years old today! *whoop* I can't believe I anxiously posted that first chapter 3 years ago, truly not expecting anyone to enjoy this weird idea, but you all surprised me. So despite my real life issues that I won't bore you with, I had to honor my *baby's* birthday and reward all of my reviewers and readers for 3 long years with sporadic updates and unbelievable cliffhangers:) Enjoy!

Last Time on TATT: Max, Michael, Kyle and Isabel begin their race back to Roswell to help their loved ones, whose emotions through the bonds are telling them that things aren't as peaceful as they'd hoped. Liz and Alex run into Nicholas and try to escape without luck and both end up hurt. Tess has to make a choice in regards to Nicholas' suggestion and her role in Roswell.




Max's POV

The night was still, almost eerie in its complete abandonment of sound and life. Max enjoyed it on several levels; mostly due to the fact that the silence would be yet another way to ensure no one got too close to their temporary camp.

The soft patter of steps coming from behind him was an excellent example of that fact. Max smiled gently as two familiar arms wound themselves around his waist and his wife's warm body pressed itself up against his back.

"Come back to bed, Max."


It was like he was in another body, as if he was watching himself from the outside. He could see the white knuckles on the steering wheel as he pushed the jeep to give everything it had to return to Roswell, to Liz, as fast as possible. A part of him could hear the chatter of his friends and family in the car, but it didn't register. Nothing mattered. The only thing that was clear were the memories that Serena's soul had somehow grasped and brought back to life with a clarity that sent shivers of forgotten misery, pain and longing through his entire being.

He was sitting quietly with his sobbing sister in his arms, her warm tears leaving damp evidence of her heartbreak. Around him were the others that hadn't died…yet, his treacherous mind pointed out even as his arms tightened in response to Isabel's muffled cries of mourning for Kyle.

"He didn't have to die," the words were choked and hoarse as she kept repeating them in the crook of his neck
.

A small part of Max cringed at the repressed feelings the memories brought back in his weakened mental state, his sanity hanging by a thread after all that had happened recently; the possibility of losing Liz a second time very real and something he knew he'd never recover from.

His body ached terribly as he stood mutely alongside his brother in all but blood, painstakingly carving out their wives' last resting place with their hands. The sun was burning his already bleeding back, aggravating his injuries even more so. Michael eventually responded to Isabel when they brought out the body of his deceased lover, but Max couldn't find it in him to acknowledge them; the agony inside of him numbing him completely to other people's struggles. The hole had to be perfect, nothing less…

Max bit his lip until he could taste the coppery tang of blood, that particular memory wasn't one he ever wanted to think about if he could help it. He'd lost himself utterly and completely after Liz's death and begun his true crusade to extract vengeance on Khivar like never before, losing his grip on humanity more and more with each passing day until returning to the past and rediscovering his sense of self.

"Max," Serena's tinkling voice was more somber than he'd ever heard, but still, a part of him thought – hoped – that she was merely jesting even though she'd already said it three times before, "I don't want to be saved."

"You're out of your mind," Max finally managed to force through gritted teeth, "You just don't know better."

Serena raised a brow in a manner that she'd clearly adopted from Maria. "Excuse me, Mister, but I'm pretty sure I know what I know and not what you think I should know…You know?"

Unable to mimic her smile, Max merely stood immobile until her slight grin faltered at his non-reaction. When she stood motionless, he continued to speak.

"I came back to save us all, not just my wife. You're a part of my family too and if you don't want to be healed because of the possible danger, I get that, I really do, but…" Max took a deep breath before adding softly, "you deserve to live and we're all ready to step back and not let you know us in this life as long as you and the rest of the Unit are safe, Rena."

Serena's eyes darkened at the sound of his nickname for her, but she stood patiently while Max struggled to put his reasons into words. "You all died because of that war, because of us and in your case because of me. None of you deserved that life; you had all killed before you reached adulthood. Hell, none of you evenreached adulthood because that senseless war."

Max knew that if he'd been in his own body, he'd be trembling and quite possibly screaming those last few words out, but since he was stuck inside Serena's peaceful mind and his corporal body stood in her bedroom with a no doubt anxious Isabel keeping watch, Max settled for cursing inwardly.

Serena stood silently forwhat felt like an eternity to Max, who hoped that his words had somehow penetrated her shell, had given her a reason to just do as he wanted for her. Then, slowly, Serena took a deep breath and moved closer to him where she somehow proceeded to kick his shin with a lot more glee than a time traveling presence from the past really ought to in Max's biased opinion.

He didn't get a lot of time to think about that though, because next thing he knew, Serena was yelling angrily in his face. "How many times do we have to die before you pull that stick outta your ass and think things through? Why is everything always your responsibility, huh? Believe me when I say that the rest of the Unit kids completely agree with me. We talked about regrets and sorrows more times than I can even count, Max. Sure, we died in the war – voluntarily, I might add – and that sucks big time. We were kids, but like you and the others we never really had the chance of a normal childhoodonce our powers manifested or have you forgotten those pesky little things, eh? My capacity to understand Antarian technology and the ability to hack any computer in the worldmade everyone else seem stupid by comparison., Eric threw fire and was unable to control it before finding us. Do you remember that he accidentally killed his classmates on a fieldtrip when they bullied him? Let's not forget little Sydney, who's billionaire dad flinched every time they were in close contact because he was suffering from being Larek's host body and her ability to manipulate molecules freaked him out more than anything or—"

"I get it," Max held up his hand, practically growling in frustration, "we ruined your lives; I ruined everything and I'm sorry, but I just can't let you die needlessly again."

"Whoever said we blame you, Max? That's something you have to work on, my friend; not everything is your fault. Yeah, your healing gave us powers that eventually made us seek you out and join the fight so to speak, but most of us would've died as kids in Phoenix anyway. I got a lot of extra years with a family that believed in the good in people and didn't give up no matter what. It gave me a lot of hope for mankind, really."

They stood without speaking for a minute, before Max, feeling increasingly desperate, tried again, "None of you deserve to die, Rena…"

"I know that," the young woman whispered tiredly and continued gently, "You can save the others by somehow getting them to a hospital in the near future. Their condition isn't very advanced or only just beginning and in our last life, it was mostly discovered too late and if you somehow get them to a check up early on, there's a very good chance for them. Use Izzie's powers to freak the parents into getting them to a doctor or something…"

"And you, what about you?" Max knew, he just had to hear Serena say the words one more time. "What about you?"

The smile that formed on the girl's plump lips nearly broke Max's heart completely, it was heart wrenching to see her so certain and serene in the face of her own illness.

"It's already too late for me, Max. I'm going to that ward in about a week. I was the one who lived there the longest, aside from Eric. I had my life, Brother, and I spent it doing exactly what I should and when I somehow figured out a way to give this plea to you, I jumped at the chance. Also," Serena suddenly looked her age again and Max's heart clenched even more, "I really wanted to see how everyone was doing, which brings me to my final selling point."

"Oh?" Max frowned and then paled rapidly a moment after Serena finished talking.

"If you save us this time around, with your current power level then you're only accelerating things beyond your control and I really don't think a five year old fire maniac like Eric is something you'll be able to handle discreetly – I mean, he was bad enough when he was nine, right?"

"What do you mean with my current level?" Max had a foreboding feeling, but prayed his suspicions were incorrect until Serena solemnly answered his question.

"When you travelled back; you, Michael and Isabel took over your former bodies with all they entailed. That means you took over the current powers they had and mixed it with the abilities and strengths from your old life, gaining a lot more power than previously. It's something that's gonna affect you all, but since you're the only healer, Max, it means that the molecule changes that your healing brings forth in humans, happens a lot faster. It'll be faster still if you're all doing it in tandem like when you healed Michael that one time in that cave or whatever it was. The four of you were meant to work as a solitary unit and lending each other strengths whenever needed.

"That's why Alex got his powers already," Max murmured to himself, and Serena's nod of agreement settled it completely.

"Then…What about Liz? Whyhaven't her abilities showed up yet?" Max asked, finding familiarity in the way he automatically listened to the much younger Serena, whose knowledge had helped them survive far longer than was plausible in their original lives. "I healed her the very first day we showed up here, yet she's powerless."

"I don't really know that," Serena shocked him by replying. "I have an inkling only, but you'll have to forgive me if it's wrong. I think she's already got her powers to some degree but that something is blocking her."

Serena smiled, seemingly growing younger with every passing moment and half of Max dreaded the moment she'd send him away, leaving her to die even as the rest of him was itching to learn more about the many questions they'd asked themselves ever since returning.

"What do you mean? She's got powers already or what?"

"I think that she, and the other bonded humans have somehow travelled with you. I mean," Serena clarified softly, "I think that the part of their souls that you all carried went with you to this time and slowly merged with their counterparts and some of that power and the memories are buried in them all."

"That doesn't explain Kyle," Max muttered, even as a fierce hope began to lighten up his chest with pure happiness, "he's the human and he somehow came back without being healed and even without being bonded too."

Serena sighed tiredly, seeming to grow more weary with every passing second, but she still appeared willing to answer as many questions as she could, "Again, I'm not quite sure. Truly, I believe that it all stems from the fact that Tess was never meant to betray us all. That her unintentionally half-formed bond with Kyle stuck with him or something and when you all returned, it came with you through powers way more mystically than I can fathom. Heck, Max; I don't know everything and I don't wanna go the God way, but maybe it was divine intervention for good deeds or something…Just be thankful for it because Kyle was a powerhouse and you can never go wrong with that, right?"

His head wasspinning with all the information given to him, but Max managed to use his old ability to compartmentalize as much as he could and decided to plea with his surrogate child one last time.

"I love you, Rena. I don't wanna see you go."

Her small image seemed to shrink down to her sleeping counterpart's age, her hands embraced his cheeks gently and she placed a small, warm kiss on the tip of his nose. "Just promise me one thing."

"Anything," Max breathed, swallowing hard.

"When everything is over; when you've finished with the Skins and made Khivar realize none of you want to be involved in the war again…when," Serena's voice hitched a little and Max's heart went out to her, "when everything is bright and happy and wonderful…just…please don't forget me, okay?"

"Rena…" Max enveloped her tiny frame in his arms and savored the childlike scent that hit his nose, knowing that this was the last time he'd ever see her alive. "We'll never forget or stop loving you; you have my word on that, Sweetie."

He could feel her smile against the crook of his neck and imprinted the memory in his mind immediately. "Good," her muffled, childish voice said, "Because you have to go now…You're needed elsewhere.
"

"Wha–?"

Next thing he knew, Max felt himself being forced back out of Serena's mind and found himself standing back in the corporeal world in her bedroom, his mind desperately trying to make sense of everything that had just happened.

"Max?"

Isabel's concerned voice somehow managed to intrude on the last memory of Serena, and he forced himself to look at his sister briefly, which seemed to be enough for her at the present time. Mutely, his attention turned back on the road, reveling in the fact that they had finally arrived back in Roswell.

"I'm following Liz's whereabouts through the bond," he said quietly and advised softly, "You three should do the same with your bonded."

Kyle, Michael and Isabel all nodded in tandem and closed their eyes tightly.

I'm coming Liz, Max mentally told his absent love as he too reached out as far as his senses would let him, I'll end this war before it can start this time, I swear. Just hold on, I can't lose you too

Alex's POV


The pain was nauseating at first; his entire body throbbed in pure agony and it took the gangly teenager a while to remember what had caused it in the first place.

As Alex slowly came back to his senses, he could feel that there was a warm, sticky feeling on the back of his head, with throbs of pain echoing out from it and he knew that he'd been injured somehow. The details were still fuzzy.

He managed to swallow back a groan when he first came too, but inwardly he was whimpering. It took a moment more before Alex realized that he was moving and a quick glance through half-lidded eyes told him what he already suspected; he was in the back of a van with Liz lying next to him.

He took another glance to make sure they were alone in the back before Alex began moving slowly over to his friend. His entire body protested every movement, but his concern wouldn't let him quit before he'd made sure that Liz wasn't seriously harmed or worse.

"Liz?" He whispered, reaching a shaking hand out to touch her neck, searching for a pulse. Before his hand connected with her skin, Liz gave a quiet moan.

Alex breathed a sigh of relief, ignoring the pain his movement caused him and tried bringing Liz back to consciousness. Only, as he looked closer, Alex noticed that her eyes were moving rapidly behind closed lids, she was frowning deeply and her skin was bathed in sweat.

She's obviously in agony; Alex surmised silently and gently stroked her sweat matted hair away from her face. I wonder what happened after I lost consciousness. Judging from the way she's looking right now, it can't have been good.

Alex didn't get a chance to ponder for long, he'd only just stopped trying to wake Liz up when the vehicle suddenly came to an abrupt stop and the unseen driver exited the van.

Alex's heart was beating fast and he immediately tried to multiply his feelings of fear and confusion in a hope that it'd manage to incapacitate the person about to open the doors, but to his horror, Alex's powers seemed completely drained after waking up and if he'd had time he'd have cursed violently.

"Shit," was the only thing he managed to hiss before the doors to the van slammed open and he locked eyes with the old looking alien, Kent that oddly enough seemed to have lost a part of his arm since he'd last seen him.

If he's that injured, Alex thought frantically, why the hell isn't he dead yet? What's he planning?

In the blink of an eye, Kent mimicked Alex's earlier curse and somehow managed to jump to Liz's side and hold out his remaining hand to her face wearing a twisted smile. "Don't try any of that funny crap on me again, human or I'm gonna end this little bitch right now."

Alex's insides froze in fear, but he kept an impassive face, eager to keep up the illusion that his powers were still very much available and that it was only the threat on Liz's life that kept him from using them, not his exhaustion.

"What did you do to her?" he asked instead, slowly holding up his hands to show his willingness to cooperate.

Kent's twisted smile turned downright sinister and had Alex been a lesser man, he couldn't have repressed the shiver that ran though spine at the sight. He simply swallowed a lump of dread when the alien finally replied.

"I was interrupted last time we were busy having fun together and I didn't get a chance to end my little connection with her."

"What? She's been in pain ever since I blacked out?" Alex was horrified, no wonder Liz seemed to be uncomfortable; Kent was basically still torturing her! "Stop it right now!"

"You better be more respectful to me, Boy," Kent warned, his hand hovering over Liz's face mockingly, "I can make her feel like this forever if I want to."

Once more, Alex froze mid-movement, hating his vulnerability like never before. "Just stop hurting her, please," he begged quietly and added a "Sir," for good measures.

Kent smirked and placed his hand on Liz's damp forehead in an almost tender way that made Alex want to shove the male away from her in disgust. A moment later, Liz's furrowed brow smoothed and she looked, if not peaceful then at least a little more relaxed.

Alex breathed a sigh of relief, only to gasp in shock when Kent wrapped his arm around Liz and unceremoniously began dragging her out of the van. Alex scrambled to follow suit, and had to fight back the urge to vomit as wave after wave of nauseating dizziness swept over him at the quick movements.

"Wait, what do you think you're doing?"

"Shut up and get out here, human," the alien growled, obviously now in pain himself after the hardship of carrying a still non responsive Liz outside.

Following the order to the best of his limited ability, Alex eventually got out of the van and saw, to his shock, that they were in the middle of nowhere. They'd been taken to the desert and the moon and the twinkling stars shining down on them were the only light nearby.

"W-what are we doing here?" Alex was beginning to get a bad feeling about this, his worries for Liz and her pain taking a backseat to the more immediate threat.

Kent chuckled darkly, kicking Liz over to a mound of sand. "Damn, I can't wait till your mouth stops speaking, Boy. I thought I'd done a nice enough thing to the girl there, now she won't be in pain anymore."

"What?"

"Oh shut up and get down here before I kill her right now." Kent looked menacing and all Alex could do was follow orders, trying to push past the soreness so he could try and think up a plan to save them. "I'll tell you a secret, though," the alien continued kicking Liz again so she rolled past the sand and disappeared into what Alex only now discovered to be a hole, "I hate killing small fish like you people. Your entire race is a disgrace. I have no idea what the hell it was you did to me earlier, but I'm still stronger than you and it gets boring to end your race's miserable lives all the time… Now, come here."

"You may be stronger, but I'm way smarter and I'm not gonna let you kill me without fighting back," Alex growled angrily as he struggled to grasp the small sparks of his power, "I'm not letting you kill us like animals."

"But that's exactly what you are," Kent exclaimed and bent down in a crouch with his arm reaching down into the hole towards Liz and Alex finally managed to get his fear multiplied and sent out towards the alien, but to his despair it fizzled out halfway there and did no good what so ever.

"Please…" Alex felt like crying, he was barely seventeen years old for Christ's sake and his life was only beginning.

"Don't beg, it's pathetic," Kent mocked, "I was ordered to kill you ants in secret so the former Queen Ava or Tess or whatever she wants to be called these days would cooperate with my superior. So even though that bitch took my arm, she can't be too upset about losing you weaklings… You know what, thinking about how much it will hurt her once Nicholas is done with her, I take it all back; I can't wait to end your miserable excuse of a life. Now get ready, Human!"

Unable to think of anything, spent as he was after his last desperate attempt at saving Liz and himself, Alex stayed on his knees where he'd fallen earlier without resisting. Isabel, I'm sorry, Alex thought with all his might, praying that she'd hear him and feel him before things ended for him. I'm so sorry.

Kent made his way over to him and Alex tried using one of those techniques that Liz had once taught him to close off his end of the connection with Isabel. I can't let her feel me die, he thought, especiallysince she already saw me die once before…

Alex closed his eyes, but they quickly snapped open again when a rumbling sound in the distance interrupted his artificial calm. Kent too was distracted, turning halfway around to look at something that honestly surprised Alex more than anything else.

It was a car hurtling over the ground at maximum speed and before Alex could do much more than gape unintelligently at the approaching vehicle, it slammed violently into Kent, sending the alien flying with a scream of agony.

The lights blinded Alex, so he could only make out a blurry shape exiting the car with a hurried jump. The voice told him who it was as the figure hysterically asked, "Did I get that fucker? Tell me I got him!"

"Maria?" Alex breathed out his friend's name and as the blurry figure came closer, he recognized her completely and decided to do what he'd wanted to ever since waking up. He blacked out again.

0o0o0

When he came to, Alex found himself lying on the ground with Maria crouched over him and slapping his cheek over and over again.

"Urh," Alex's groaned pathetically, upping his vocal displeasure to, "Aw, Maria, stop helping me!"

Her small hand stopped a few centimeters away from his now stinging cheeks and her eyes looked scared and just as confused as he felt. "Oh thank God, you're awake," she exclaimed after a short pause, "I think I actually killed that other guy; I can't carry Liz out of that hole over there, Tess went with that creepy kid all alone, Michael seems so tired and… and my mom's car is completely ruined on the front – there's no way she'll let me borrow it after this, I guarantee it."

"Way to prioritize," Alex muttered, slowly sitting up. He expertly ignored Maria's gasp of outrage at his quip and added tiredly, "we need to get Liz out of that hole and make sure that guy is subdued before we do anything."

"Despite the fact that you obviously don't think I'm a capable human being," Maria's tone was dark and Alex felt the wispy echo of her annoyance and hurt through the limited powers he had available even after his brief fainting spell, "but I already tied him up with some of the rope that was in the trunk and he didn't even flinch when I touched that yucky nonexistent arm of his, and I did that before I even tried pulling Liz out myself."

Sighing, Alex placed a hand on Maria's shoulder, guilty over having hurt her feelings. He knew that she put up a front with most people when in reality she really was quite vulnerable to any type of criticism from her loved ones. "Sorry, Maria," he murmured and squeezed softly.

Maria didn't move for a second, but then she relaxed her tense stance and Alex didn't even need his powers to know that he'd been forgiven. "So, let's get Liz," he changed the subject and gratefully accepted Maria's assistance at getting back on his feet. His dizziness was still present, so even with her help his movements were rather wobbly before he found his footing and made his way over to the hole Liz was lying unconsciously in.

Liz's slender frame was completely still and if he hadn't already known her to be alive, Alex would've thought she was dead. At least I got the torture to stop; Alex comforted himself and carefully began crawling down to his friend.

It took almost twenty minutes to get Liz into the Jetta's backseat. When he looked back on it, Alex honestly had no clue how they managed it given his wounded condition and Liz's complete lack of assistance.

Making sure she was as comfortable as possible, Alex then gestured for Maria to follow him back to his would-be killer to see if he was still alive. When they got to him, his quiet moans told their own story and out of the corner of his eye, Alex saw Maria give a sigh of relief.

"Don't be so pathetic," Alex ordered, purposely mimicking the alien's earlier words, "I'm gonna ask you some questions and if you wanna live, I suggest you answer them."

"I'm not gonna live long if Nicholas finds out I've betrayed him," Kent sneered, his face grimacing at his pain.

Maria leaned over Alex's shoulder, only able to do because he was hunched over, "Well, you're not gonna survive one more meet and greet with my car, you know. So talk."

Alex cringed, hoping that the other Skin wasn't about to call her rather obvious bluff. Fortunately, Kent seemed distracted enough by his pain not to take in the pretty unconvincing look on Maria's pale face.

"I don't know anything—"

"Then what was with all the boasting earlier?" Alex interrupted coldly.

"Nicholas needs the Granolith and Av-Tess knows where it is, she seemed real eager to reveal everything once you were out of her sight."

Alex glanced over at Maria, who frowned and took over the interrogation. "Tess wouldn't do that unless it was worth something to her. What did you promise her?"

Knowing the answer, Alex replied before Kent could say something that would undoubtedly end with Maria restarting the Jetta in fury. "She was promised that Liz and I got help, he told me that before you got here. So she thinks she's saving our lives."

At least this time she's not some power hungry murderer that ruins my brain
, Alex thought with real gratitude. If nothing else, at least Isabel and the others saved Tess' soul this time around.

The whole concept of time traveling and the alterations to his current timeline still freaked the usually very logical teenager out, but he could see the benefits at long last. Like the ones that mean we're all still alive of course, he added with an internal grin.

"So you're saying that Tess is all alone out there and thinks she's sacrificing herself for you?" Maria clarified and Alex nodded, waiting for the inevitable blowup. He didn't have to wait long. "Well, what the hell are we waiting for? We've got to save her."

A dark, hoarse chuckle interrupted them and they both looked down on Kent, his mouth twisted into a bizarre smile with bubbles of blood oozing down his chin, "Like your feeble race can even come close to our leader and Nicholas. They will never…" his voice ended in a coughing gurgle that sent a wave of pained nausea over Alex, telling him that at long last his gift was slowly returning.

"Yeah, well," Alex stood up with his eyes locked on the quickly deteriorating Skin, "we got you, didn't we? Humans or not. Come on, Maria, let's—"

Suddenly, there was a sound from the distance that Alex immediately recognized. Turning around he could already see the headlights from another car fast approaching. The question is, he thought warily, is it someone that's with us or against us?

Maria seemed to have gotten the same idea, she hurried over to the Jetta and tried starting the car just in case they needed to escape, but before the car came to life the other vehicle was close enough for Alex to sense Isabel's presence as if she was shouting out to him.

"It's the good guys," he told Maria, who immediately slumped forward over the steering wheel with relief before hurrying back over to his side, muttering something about finally seeing what had happened to Michael.

Kent gasped hoarsely for breath behind them, but no one took much notice seeing as their attention was trained on the familiar sight of the Jeep coming to a rough halt a few feet away. Mere seconds later, Isabel was out the door, meeting Maria halfway, who was on route to the just now appearing Michael. The next thing Alex knew, he had a six foot hybrid in his arms, squeezing the life out of him.

"You're okay, thank God," Isabel muttered repeatedly into his ear and under normal circumstances, Alex would more than likely have loved the closeness, but as it was, his head was throbbing and his recurring bouts of nausea finally got the best of him and he wrenched himself away from the embrace and threw up right next to them.

"Alex!" Isabel gasped his name and held a cool hand to his burning forehead, her touch filled him with relief even as her chaotic emotions of worry, guilt and love flew into him; it would seem that his slowly returning powers always worked at full capacity whenever it was Isabel near him.

Feeling a little bit more like himself, Alex carefully straightened back up. He sheepishly wiped his mouth with his sleeve, wishing he had a cool glass of water in his hands to cleanse his mouth. Alex was so caught up in the innocent desire to not have major bad breath near his sort of girlfriend, that he almost missed said female turn to an eerily still Max and ask if he'd heal his head wound.

"No, I'm fine," Alex protested and stepped back. He was instinctively afraid of the healing power that had somehow given him his abilities and given from the slight slump in Isabel's shoulders, she knew it and he felt guilty and wanted to make her smile.

"Maybe after we've dealt with that guy, okay?"

As he'd hoped, Isabel's beautiful face lit up into a smile that seemed to wipe her exhaustion off her face and Max nodded once, still completely silent.

Maria stood with Michael over by the Jeep, her arms around his waist and to his surprise, Alex saw them kiss as if their lives depended on it. Kyle stood next to them with a vaguely nauseated expression on his face, seemingly praying for the ground to swallow him whole to escape the sight, but unable to actually turn his head and look away.

It was the quick approach of yet another car that interrupted the couple and drew everyone's attention back to the present situation. The car stopped and a moment later, a pretty, young woman stepped out in a graceful motion that would look staged on anyone else.

Who's that? Alex wondered, eying the blonde with narrowed eyes. He grabbed Isabel's hand and her touch got his powers to flare to life and he instantly sent out feelers to see if the unknown girl was an enemy or friend. Before his probing powers reached her, Isabel spoke and cleared the issue on her own.

"That's Courtney; she's a Skin too, but a good one that wants to help us."

"What? If she's one of them, she's obviously just playing you," Maria yelled, finally wrenching her lips away from a seemingly rather rejuvenated Michael's, "You can't trust them, they're insane!"

Alex looked over at Isabel with a raised eyebrow, silently agreeing with his friend. Isabel sighed and quietly muttered, "We know we can trust her, okay?"

Ah, Alex thought tiredly, she's someone they knew in that other life and are willing to trust now… I wonder what she did to earn their trust

The Skin, Courtney walked over to them, sending a brief glare at a confused looking Maria that made Alex wonder just how much trust they should give the female. When her eyes met his, Alex felt a little calmer, she looked gentler somehow than Kent and Nicholas and his senses told him that aside from some irrational emotions at the sight of Maria in Michael's arms that Alex frankly didn't understand, she was genuinely willing to help and hoping to stop her kind from ruining their lives.

"Hi." Was all she said and Alex waved awkwardly in return before turning to Max, who stood immobile and seemingly emotionless. Despite appearances though, Alex could sense that the time traveler was itching to go to Liz's unconscious form in Maria's car.

Deciding to help the other guy out, Alex gestured towards the car, "she's been unconscious since we got here, and I got the Skin to stop torturing her so—"

"Torturing her?" To say Max's tone was cold was a pretty huge understatement, but Alex soldiered on, knowing that the anger wasn't directed at him personally.

"Maria ran him over and tied him up, he's over there." Pointing behind him, Alex fell silent at the suddenly oppressing power surge coming from Max.

Alex let go of Isabel, in an attempt of minimizing his own powers, but it seemed like them touching had somehow refueled his reserves and he could feel Max's pure, raw anger directed at the downed Skin.

Fortunately for Alex's peace of mind and sanity, Max managed to reign in his feelings and then began making his way to the wounded enemy moaning more and more weakly on the cold ground.

What happened next was forever branded into Alex's memory; his being cried out in equal parts shock and fear. Max simply bent down and began searching the other man's back for something.

Kent tried fighting back, but his tied up status and wounds didn't allow him much resistance, evidently, unlike Alex, he knew just what was about to happen. Alex watched in growing horror as Max's face transformed into a deathly mask that didn't suit him and simply said, "Go to hell," before he did…something that simply disintegrated Kent into a million pieces of dust that quickly blew away in the gentle night wind.

Without showing the slightest bit of remorse over his kill, and Alex could feel nothing but a grim satisfaction brimming from the dark-haired hybrid, Max quickly made his way over to the Jetta and climbed in to Liz's side where his emotions suddenly proceeded to burst through him at such an accelerated rate, that Alex flinched and took a few steps back.

"What's wrong?" Isabel was immediately next to him, crowding him and all of the sudden it was just too much for the usually calm teenager to handle. In the span of nearly no time at all, he'd found out his girlfriend was from a very bleak future, had almost killed her by accident, been chased by two crazy aliens, been hurt and scared, he'd almost been killed himself and now this, coupled with his returned powers of empathy, it was just too much!

"Everybody stop, just stop feeling!" Alex roared and pulled his own hair to relieve some of the tension rising in him. "I can't take it anymore!"

Bitter anger so powerful he could almost taste it on his tongue burned inside him, battling it out with fear and confusion and an all consuming need for peace. In the distance, Alex heard Maria trying to calm him even as Isabel called for Max's help. The last thing he sensed, just before he felt like he was about to literally explode, was two hands and Max's presence and then everything turned blissfully dark once again.

Nicholas' POV

It's hard to believe that the sniveling Ava blew Kent's arm off like that, Nicholas thought to himself with a hint of amusement. To be honest, he'd never really liked the man and seeing the arm blown off his body as if it was made of glass had satisfied some deep urge Nicholas hadn't known was in him.

He glanced over at the stony looking Antarian, who kept insisting on using 'Tess' as her new name. She's definitely changed, he thought cautiously, before she would have waited for her husband before making any kind of major decision like this. Gotta love that human independence.

The mockery was clear even in his head, and Nicholas quickly wiped off the sneer of disgust for the human race before turning his head towards Tess.

"I really don't know why you're being so cold, Tess," he said, trying to put as much politeness into his tone as possible, "I've done what you asked in regards to those friends of yours. Kent will call me the minute they're in the E.R. so wipe that frown off that pretty face, why don't you?"

Tess' left eye twitched and her lips thinned for a moment. "If you think I'm happy about betraying my friends, you're more insane than I thought. I promised to take you to the Granolith, I didn't sign on to be your new playmate, kid."

"I'm not a kid," Nicholas practically growled, still extremely sensitive about his apparent youth even after nearly fifty years. He wanted nothing more than to escape the body he'd been given and return to his own or at the very least, a body that could go into a store and didn't have to get his underlings to buy age restricted items.

"Okay, keep your pants on," Tess taunted, once again showing the Skin her transformation from the weaker Ava from his memories.

"That's it," Nicholas whipped out his cell phone, for once not taking the time to miss his planet's much more advanced technology in his eagerness to wipe that smirk off Tess' face, "I'm calling Kent to stop him from getting help for your friends."

Petty? Yes, but his pride had been hurt and he could not stand for that – it reminded him of how Khivar treated him and he hated feeling mocked.

"No, wait!" Tess immediately froze and added insistently, "I'm sorry; I'm just not used to having friends to betray and it's hurting me… Please don't call Kent, Liz and Alex need help. I'll stop talking, I promise."

"Now was that so hard?" Nicholas didn't put away his phone and thoroughly enjoyed the panicked look in the girl's eyes as he pressed his speed dial and held the phone up to his ear.

"Are you on your way?" He asked, before the person answering even said a word.

"We'll be there in a few minutes, Sir." A female woman said and continued seriously, "We've tried contacting those in town, but no one is answering. Should we send a few of us back to check on the others?"

Nicholas rubbed his chin, absentmindedly wishing for a full beard that he'd always wanted, and answered, "No, there's no time. They're probably enjoying themselves a bit too much with the hostages. I'll handle them when we get back. For now, just come pick us up, so we can call Caden and his men to meet us at the Granolith."

"Understood, Sir," the woman replied and hung up.

Nicholas smiled at the wary look on Tess' face and waited patiently for a few minutes until four big black cars pulled up next to them. He turned to Tess and opened the door of the closest car, "After you, Your Majesty."

Tess' eyes looked like he'd just offered her a swim in a tank full of sharks. Which, Nicholas smiled widely as he quickly followed the hybrid, isn't really that far off, when I think about it.

A moment later, Tess was giving directions to the driver and they took off towards the Granolith that Nicholas and his kind had looked for as long as they'd been on this retched planet.

Finally, he thought, leaning back in his seat and visualizing Khivar's pleasure and rewards for his services, the Royal Pains will be gone for good and we can go home to a world where people respect me as the fierce warrior that I am.

As Nicholas contemplated his coming triumph he almost missed the way Tess was looking at them with a very calculating look in her eyes, the proof that she may be beaten, but was in no way giving up the fight. When he did spot it, however, the Skin merely smiled arrogantly. On her own, she's weak and there's only Vilandra left to fight us and she's always been more interested in playing in the sheets than fighting so this is gonna be easy.

Not even Zan and Rath can escape my town unscathed, but I'm not telling her that until Vilandra finds us. It'll be good to see the looks on their faces when they realize that the Royal Four is no more.

Nicholas sighed with satisfaction and then concentrated on his upcoming phone call with one of the few men that he actually feared. Caden, Khivar's second in command, had been sent to Earth only a few months ago when they finally developed the perfect vessel for the powerful alien.

At least, after tonight, Nicholas thought with an anxious feeling, he won't be Khivar's second anymore, because I'm gonna be the one that will always be remembered as the true killer of the Royal Four

TBC…
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