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 CC A/N 02/11/13

Postby maipigen » Tue Mar 26, 2013 7:58 am


I don't own Roswell or Any of its franchise. If I did, I'd start a kickstarter project and make a Roswell movie like Rob Thomas is doing with the Veronica Mars movie.

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Betaed by the amazing Marzmez, whose input and questions (aka. Kicks in the butt) kept me going when I was ready to throw in the towel. Thanks!
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A/N *looks cautiously at everyone, ready to bolt* Hi, I'm sorry it's taken so long, but life…Just…Anyway, here's an action packed chapter for you all with just a tiny reminder of I have everything under control despite the usual cliffie at the end. Certain parts of this chapter were planned from the beginning and others just flew out of me with no regard to the overall plot. That said, just trust me, for all that's holy – Trust. Me… Enjoy!
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Last Time on TATT: The Timetravellers + Courtney arrive to help Alex and Maria with the Skin, Kent, who Maria already injured. Max doles out some vengeance, shocking the humans. Nicholas suffers from delusions of grandeur because he's got Tess and is still unaware that Michael and Kyle have escaped the Skin infested town. He still thinks Kyle is Zan. When we last saw everyone, Alex could no longer handle all of the tumult emotions and fainted. I think that's all of it, let's continue the fun, shall we?
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Michael's POV

They all stood still, holding their breath when Alex's power snuffed out and he went to the ground. It was eerie how the memory of the night he'd died in the original timeline kept playing on Michael's mind. Maybe it's the defeated look in Max's eyes? He pondered, tightening his hold on Maria's trembling form when the other hybrid crouched next to the unconscious human.

Or just the fact that the shit storm keeps on coming and we can't seem to stop any of it, he amended bitterly as he silently watched Max's now glowing hands dart over Alex's body to assess his current state.

"He's got a nasty head wound," Max finally said after what felt like forever. Another few moments of glowing hands and the wound vanished as if it had never been there – if one discounted the trail of dried blood all over the teenager's face and neck.

It didn't take long after the healing before Alex began to stir and the moment he did, Michael noticed Max all but run to Liz's side out of the corner of his eye. Evidently he couldn't keep himself away from her any longer, but Michael didn't blame him.

If it'd been Maria, I wouldn't have been able to keep it together for half the time he did, Michael thought and waited until Isabel had calmed down the guilty and embarrassed looking Alex enough for him to actually process things properly.

"So," Michael tried to step away from Maria, forcing away the part of him that just wanted to keep hold of her and hoping the bad things would avoid them for all eternity, but she didn't seem the least bit willing to cooperate as her grip only got firmer. "We need to think of a plan."

Courtney nodded in fervent agreement and Michael had to swallow back a mixture of sadness over her original destiny and pure annoyance since his much older self now clearly saw the blatant hero worship in her eyes. I can't believe I missed out on that the first time, he chided himself as he took a step closer to the others with Maria still practically glued to his side.

Kyle spoke up; momentarily distracting Michael from remembering the first time he'd gotten to know Courtney and her beliefs that had planted a seed of wanting the King's power all to himself that he hadn't really recognized until the time when Max had died from the hands of a homicidal rich old guy and his younger wife.

"First of all we need to get to the Granolith before the Skins do. Nicholas is bound to get there soon with Tess' help."

"Tess isn't helping him," Alex murmured and everyone's attention went back to him. Michael frowned a little when he recognized the flash of pure hope that came into Kyle's eyes before he gained control of his expression.

"Yeah," surprisingly, it was Maria, who spoke up next. "It's totally not her doing. That evil teenager with way to many issues, if you ask me, forced her hand. I heard him threaten Liz and Alex's lives before she would even consider not killing him. I was too freaked out to really understand any of it until Alex filled in the blanks for me. She only agreed to help him so Alex and Liz could get medical help."

"Yeah, but I guess he told his henchman to kill us anyway." Alex's voice was hoarse and Michael caught his eyes darting over to Max, still sitting in the Jetta with Liz. "But he's the one who ended up dying…"

Obviously, he's a little spookedat seeing the darker side of Max, Michael surmised as he too looked over at a silent Max. The former king was caressing Liz's unconscious form ever so gently; as if afraid his touch would hurt her even more. Not that I blame him really. In this life, he's still pretty innocent so any violence is bound to shock the hell out of his principles and beliefs.

"He deserved it, trust me." Courtney's voice was without any infliction and Michael knew there was an untold story there just waiting to be shared, but frankly they didn't have the time, so he took over the conversation.

"Forget about that now. We need to get a plan together before it all ends up with us dead and with no Granolith."

Kyle nodded, seemingly very eager to plan now that his tentative faith in Tess had been restored somewhat and spoke up. "We'll pile up in the cars and drive there as fast as we can, surround the rock in strategic places and take on Nicholas and his people and get Tess away from him."

"Uhm, excuse me," Maria held up a hand, "as the only conscious human who doesn't have powers, I kinda want to veto that plan – No offence, Valenti."

A rush of melancholy surprised Michael by its strength as he looked down at the woman he loved. Trust me, Baby; you do not want powers…

Maria frowned and when she spoke, Michael felt his insides twist together in nauseating fear. "Why wouldn't I want powers, Michael? I'm the weak link here, remember? If I don't get some magic Czechoslovakian mojo soon, I'm gonna be the first one they go after, mark my words."

Michael stood frozen, as Maria's obvious fear took her over and she dove into her jeans pocket and withdrew a small bottle of cedar oil that he guessed from experience was probably laced with something calming that her mom had made.

A muttered 'oh', came from Isabel and Michael managed to look over at her. Apparently she too had noticed the little moment and the fact that Maria had answered something that his mouth hadn't said. Within moments, the former Antarian princess had made her way over to him and placed her finger on his hand as discreetly as possible.

'She can hear you, Michael.'

Maria rolled her eyes and looked over at them, her bottle still firmly in hand. "Of course I can hear him, Isabel. I'm weak, not deaf."

Holy- Michael barely managed to restrain himself, even inside his own mind and tried adopting a calm expression that he kinda knew was failing miserably even without the puzzled look Maria sent his way.

He quickly thought back to the many powers they'd all discovered and built upon in the original timeline. That's right, Michael thought, wanting to kick himself for forgetting, I forgot that the bonded couples could communicate telepathically without touch…but that doesn't explain how Maria could hear Isabel's thoughts to me.

Isabel looked just as confused as he did, and Kyle's face indicated that he was beginning to realize what was going on even as Courtney kept talking about possible battle plans and Max kept on ignoring everything in favor of the woman in his arms.

She was always the strongest one when it came to that kind of communication, Michael remembered as flashes of the past came to him in vivid clarity that under normal circumstances would've gotten him ready to either stand guard outside Maria's house in case of unforeseen troubles or get him to locate Max for an intense sparring session. I can't believe we forgot about that

"What's going on?" Maria stepped closer to Michael, eying Isabel's expression with a dubious and slightly nervous one of her own. "You're looking weird, I don't like weird, you know."

"Uh…"

"Don't you 'uh' me, Michael Guerin! I hate secrets and frankly it's too scary right now with all the other stuff that's going on." Her eyes looked up at him imploringly, silently begging for the truth and Michael found that he was just too weary to keep going with all the lies and decided to give at least a little bit of his knowledge to her.

"Apparently, since we've… bonded, you've gained one power…sort of."

"What kind of power?" Maria looked intrigued and Michael silently wished that for once she wasn't so obsessed with gaining powers. He'd lived through one life where she'd been 'gifted' with one like the other humans and unlike them;, hers had been a true nightmare that had ended up slowly killing her from the inside out.

Forcibly shoving those heartbreaking memories back to the deepest corners of his mind, Michael focused on the present and answered. "We can communicate telepathically from varying distances. Me, Iz, Tess and Max have to touch if we want to talk to each other in secret. I'm pretty sure that Alex and Liz can do it with their bonded too."

Alex blinked and straightened up a bit, realization slowly dawning on his tired face. "Oh, I've tried that too…I think. I've been hearing Isabel's voice in my head on and off, but I thought it was just 'cause of my powers that I could sense her so clearly. At least, I'm not the only one this time around." He gave a small self-deprecating grin and looked over at Maria, as if happy that he wasn't too big of a freak of nature now.

"Oh, so it's not some special just-for-me kinda thing?" Michael wanted to shake Maria until she understood that the power that she was itching to gain was going to destroy the last bit of her innocence. Having already been healed by Max, Michael was realistic enough to know that Maria would get her wish sooner rather than later. Her horrifying ability to read and project a person's worst fear into them, watching them slowly dying, a silent bystander in whatever fabricated nightmare was being made at the time was already on its way.

But I still pray every day that her powers don't come back as quickly as Alex's did – She's not strong enough for it, but I couldn't possibly convince her of that

Using every ounce of patience he had left, Michael merely ran a hand through his hair and shrugged Maria's question away. "You're gonna get a crash course in our mind-voodoo now, so pay attention 'cause I think I've got the start of an idea for helping Tess and ending this nightmare once and for all."

Kyle's POV

There was complete silence in the car as he drove toward the pod chamber and Kyle was sure that it was the same way in the other two cars.

Isabel was sitting next to him, shooting glances in the rear view mirror at a drowsy Alex who was lying down in the backseat.

For Kyle, the tension was palpable, reminding him of all the times they'd gone to war in their last life. His fingers were white as they clenched the steering-wheel with more force than he knew what to do with.

While deceptively calm on the outside, Kyle's head was still spinning from all the different things that had happened since…well, since he'd returned from death through time and space or whatever it was, but mostly he kept thinking about Tess. His stomach clenched with anxiety, an emotion he'd felt her experience all evening he had felt a crushing disappointment when they had thought that Tess had betrayed them.

The relief that had poured through him when Alex and Maria had firmly debunked that idea was enough to make his legs quiver, and his hands had still been shaky when he'd gotten in the car to follow the Jetta. It was still quite confusing for him to suddenly have this protective instinct when it came to the girl he'd once wanted dead more than anything for betraying not only the group, but him in particular.

Another jolt of uncomfortable secondhand fear and pure hate suddenly rushed through him, and Kyle managed to send as much comfort through to his unexpected bonded before forcing himself to think about the plan they'd agreed on to help save not only the curly-haired hybrid, but the Granolith as well.

The notion of Maria being able to hear Michael's thoughts directed at her without any deeper training, like had been needed in their past lives, had spurred the idea of using the dramatic girl in the actual plan itself. It clearly hadn't been something Michael had enjoyed thinking up, let alone saying out loud, given the look of self-loathing on his face as he'd detailed what and how he wanted Maria to act once everything got going.

The churning inside of him grew downright painful for a second, distracting Kyle from his self- appointed attempt at going over the plan step by step. Kyle's body was still extremely sore from the treatment he'd gotten in the Skin infested town mere hours earlier, so the automatic tensing of his muscles that he couldn't stop whenever Tess' feelings erupted within him wasn't exactly making things less painful.

Okay, Kyle grit his teeth and added a little speed to the car when Maria's car started moving faster, hopefully we arrive at the pod chamber before Nicholas and his cronies, leaving us a little time to set everythingup

Maria was going to climb as high as she could on the rocky exterior so she was able oversee everything that was taking place on the ground. Alex was to go with her to scope out the emotions of everyone, once things got going.

Isabel, being the best at these kinds of things, would camouflage the two humans to blend in perfectly with the surface before disappearing inside the podchamber and further in to the Granolith's hidden location, ready to protect the thing by destroying it if nothing else could be done.

Kyle's part was to stand next to Courtney, head bowed and projecting as much submission and defeat as he possibly could manage, with Michael next to him – both of them keeping the charade of being Max and Michael. Courtney would then spin a tale of having taken them both along because they'd managed to kill some of the other Skins keeping them captive, thus wanting to deliver them to Nicholas for one last punishment.

If the young looking Skin bought the flimsy tale, Kyle had to wait for Michael's touch telepathic message that he'd forwarded from Maria whether or not there were other hostiles around, before he smoked as many of Nicholas' underlings as he could. Michael was gonna provide backup.

And Max… Kyle frowned as he pulled up next to the Jetta not too far from the cave, he's gonna stay in the car guarding Liz.

The former king had blatantly refused to leave the unconscious girl's side. It would seem that seeing Liz so vulnerable and fragile had somehow spurred an instinctive, almost animalistic protective side to Max. The usually levelheaded leader seemed incapable of assisting with the plan and despite the big hurdle it was gonna be without Max's larger powers and shielding abilities, Kyle kind of understood his friend's side of things.

Courtney had gained eternal disgust from most of them when she'd turned to Michael, proudly proclaiming yet another proof that Max wasn't suitable for leadership and the general was. Maria had growled, and Michael had rolled his eyes and clearly stated that suitable of not, Max was still his king and would always be.

I almost forgot her original agenda, Kyle thought as he slowly exited the car and made his way over to a silent Michael, who was watching Maria begin to climb the rock with a look of sadness on his worn down face. She seemed so normal when we drove to Roswell, that I guessI –and the others- forgot that she's always wanted to get Michael on the Antarian throne

Out of the corner of his eye, Kyle watched as Isabel led a still tired looking Alex over to the rock and gently pushed him in Maria's direction before following herself. A few minutes later, both humans were safely hidden and Kyle could barely spot them even though he knew just where they were.

You've done it again; Kyle smiled a little, his eyes following Isabel on her descent back to the ground. Hard to believe your camouflaging abilities all began with a stupid car makeover so long ago when I was just an idiotic teen. Kyle had to bite back an inappropriate chuckle of all things when he added inwardly, and of course she used to use it on her make-up before that.

The pain of opportunities lost and the undeniable love between Isabel and him came as it always did when Kyle remembered the past, but to his surprise, it felt off – as if it was a phantom pain that was just there as a reminder and not acting like a stake through the heart.

Kyle bit his lip, his hand automatically going to his sternum, where Tess' emotions continuously bled over to him and wondered if maybe allowing the new Tess in his heart was such a bad thing?

"You ready?" Michael's rough voice catapulted Kyle out of his thoughts and he quickly straightened up.

"Yes, let's get this over and done with."

Isabel made her way over to them with a tight look in her eyes. It was as clear as day that she wasn't comfortable leaving Alex in harm's way. "I have a question," she said as soon as she stopped walking. "Do you guys think that we should tell Jim about all of this when it's over?"

"What?" Kyle's heart leapt in his chest and he just stood by as Michael immediately objected.

"We can't. He's not the same man we left behind in the war. He's not," Michael cast a remorseful glance at a silent Kyle before adding, "the sheriff we knew and loved. He's too weak right now to handle it. Let's just not do this right now, Isabel. We've got enough crap to worry about."

"Yeah," Kyle managed, his heart beating normally again at the thought of his now estranged father live a happy, non alien informed life. Even if he missed the man he'd been with every part of his being. "Dad's not gonna take it well. It's not like he's doing his own investigation this time around – and with no Pierce to torture Max, I doubt we'll see him realizing that you guys aren't evil. Or maybe I'm wrong, I don't know, but I don't want my dad involved in any of this. Not this time around."

"Okay," Isabel nodded and surprised him by hugging him firmly. "This time we'll make everything better," she whispered in his ear and Kyle chuckled darkly, but embraced her just as tightly.

"Let's spread out," Michael interrupted the moment and Kyle pulled away feeling a little better.

"None of you idiots better die on me," Kyle said, "I'm gonna kick your asses if you even think about it. Okay?"

Michael and Isabel smiled and nodded. A moment later, the female hybrid turned and left for the podchamber and Kyle followed Michael over to Courtney for some last minute preparations.

0o0o0

It was as if Tess had been let in on their plan, because only about five minutes after everyone had taken their places and gone over the plan one last time, she showed up with Nicholas and his followers.

The dark-tinted windows of the cars didn't expose how many there were inside, but Kyle guessed they were filled to capacity just in case.

Nicholas' teenage figure exited the expensive looking vehicle first, his eyes narrowing instantly when they landed on Courtney and her two supposed hostages. A moment later, Tess followed and although she only reacted visibly with a small widening of her eyes, Kyle felt her terror at seeing them.

She feels like she's gonna pass out any minute now, Kyle thought and took a page from Michael's book and tried to send a specific thought to the curly-haired former queen, not really expecting to be heard.

'Don't worry, Tess,' Kyle put all he had into it, but doubted it worked all that well when Tess merely frowned and shook her head in obvious confusion.

"Well, that was very thoughtful of you." Nicholas' tone was a mixture between smug and condescending and Kyle realized he'd completely missed Courtney's explanation for their presence in his attempt at reaching Tess.

Courtney bowed her head and thanked the Skin that she was supposed to follow unconditionally. Kyle barely forced back a grimace at the subservient way she was acting in time to act defeated when Nicholas' beady eyes landed on him with superior contempt.

"So, this is the great and powerful Zan. Or Max, I guess since you're barely more than a weak human these days."

Kyle avoided the Skin's look, knowing his own eyes would betray him by being full of fire and defiance, which wasn't what he was supposed to have at that moment. Luckily, his avoidance seemed to add certainty to Nicholas' belief that he was the top dog, so to speak.

"I can't believe you, Zannie boy. I mean, I knew you and your precious family were weak even before you got sent to this retched planet, but now you're just pathetic."

Michael fidgeted next to him, and Nicholas' attention went to the only real Antarian in his sight. "And you…Well, I don't even have to look too closely at you, your lack of intelligence is obvious just looking at you, did you know that, Rath? I guess not even the human DNA could dissolve the pure brawny idiocy that was your lot in life when I knew you."

Kyle felt Michael's finger surreptitiously touch his wrist just as he responded to Nicholas' taunts. "I don't even know you, Dude," Michael murmured in a faux tired tone of voice that just dripped of confusion, anger and fear. At the same time, his voice rang through Kyle's mind with a much more firm clarity that gave the human reason to believe that Michael's acting wasn't gonna last long.

'Maria says that Alex has felt seven people in the cars, so that makes nine. Is that too many for you?'

'Just get me a little closer to the cars, so I can suck up some of the electricity from them to get the job done.' Kyle replied, trying to look as defeated as possible, while Nicholas continued his taunts.

Tess must have gotten the fact that we've got something planned, Kyle thought even as Michael tensed next to him, obviously planning to get him closer to the vehicles as asked, she didn't even flinch when that little creep identified me as Max. Hopefully she'll catch on quick enough not to interfere when shit get's going for real…

The touch on his wrist returned and Kyle tensed up, hoping that Nicholas wouldn't see it. 'Just follow my lead.'

Before Kyle could do much of anything, Michael straightened up and barreled into Nicholas much smaller body hard enough to land them both on the rocky ground. Kyle took advantage of the planned distraction long enough to run to the nearest car. The moment his fingers touched the metal, Kyle began sucking all of the energy out of it that he could find. His entire being reveled in the power once again and if he was put on the spot, Kyle could almost admit to having the electricity caress him like a long lost lover, happy to be in his presence again, but fortunately for his dignity, that had never happened.

Out of the corner of his eye, Kyle managed to keep a track on what was going on around him, and just as he finished sucking up as much energy as he could from the car, Nicholas' men exited the cars with furious scowls on their faces. It was then that Kyle understood that even though it felt like ages to him, the unexpected attack from Michael and subsequent brawl had barely taken seconds, a minute at most.

"Now, Kyle!" Michael ordered, just as he sent off a blast of his own raw power at an approaching Skin, who was set on assisting his teenaged leader. Two others took the place of the quickly disintegrating Skin and Kyle knew that he wouldn't get a better window than this and sent all he could of his energy toward the attacking Skins, trusting that Courtney and Tess could handle themselves if necessary.

He was so caught up in the almost primal joy of releasing his pent up powers that Kyle didn't see the Skin sneaking up on him from behind until Tess' warning came. "Kyle, behind you!"

It happened so fast that Kyle barely comprehended it. He spun around with his arms raised for attack. Tess ran toward him with a fierce expression on her pale face. The Skin slashed at his belly and then pain exploded all around him.

"KYLE!"

Kyle sunk to the ground, feeling a great sense of horrifying déjà-vu as he watched the battle going on without him. Tess was screaming as she mercilessly struck down the Skin that had taken him out and Michael's roar of rage resonated all around them in the dawning light.

As if in a trance, Kyle raised one blood-coated hand to inspect it. The amount of dark-red blood on his fingers and palm probably should've struck more fear in him, but all Kyle worried about was the fact that he couldn't stand up and help anymore. He was feeling numb and he spared a brief grateful thanks to whomever took care of these things that he wasn't in pain this time around.

It hurt like hell last time, Kyle remembered morbidly, falling backwards to look up at the sky where the stars were slowly being driven away by the growing morning sun. I guess Dad's gonna know the truth without me this time. I just hope he handles it well and doesn't blame the guys...Dad

"Kyle!" Tess' scent hovered over him and Kyle blinked back to the present as much as he was able. "Hang in there, please."

"Tess?" How weird, Kyle thought with a small frown, why was she here? Wasn't she evil? "Are you gonna kill me?"

"What? Kyle, come back to me. KYLE!"

"'Cause that'd suck," he murmured without giving Tess more time to talk. He was feeling more and more sluggish and confused. Images from two lifetimes rushing through him at the same time, "I kinda think I'm already in love with you…I don't wanna hate you again…Where's my dad?"

There were sounds of an ongoing struggle all around him, and Kyle knew he really should stop lying around babbling like a fool, but for the life of him, he couldn't get his limbs to work properly and a part of him was just very focused on talking with Tess and getting his dad there. He wanted his dad so much…but he was dead.

At least I'm gonna join him soon, Kyle decided with a cough that rattled his insides uncomfortably. He had a brief stint of awareness, enough to taste and recognize the coppery blood in his mouth that was trailing down his cheeks whenever he moved his lips. Enough to understand that Tess was still screaming his name next to him with a surprising amount of sorrow and to take in the fact that there was a lot more people around there'd been before he'd been taken out.

Slowly, Kyle focused his gaze past Tess' tear-streaked face and saw a lot of other unfamiliar cars around. Those hadn't been there before, he realized. Other people were fighting and they were way too much for Michael, Tess and Courtney to handle by themselves. Fuck this, he thought, I didn't go out like a wimp last time so I'm not gonna do it this time around either.

With the last bit of his strength, Kyle raised the hand that wasn't being held by Tess and pointed in the direction where most of their enemies were and fired off every last bit of his electrifying power before things turned dark.

Kyle thought he could hear Alex howl with some kind of emotion in the distance, but in that moment, Kyle really didn't give a damn. I'm just happy I went out as awesomely as I did the last time, he thought with a wry twitch of bloodied lips before everything finally turned black and he knew no more.

Alex's POV

Everything seemed to happen so fast. One minute, he was hiding with Maria; his skin still itchy where Isabel had used her powers to conceal him as much as she could. Maria was whispering furious questions to him, trying to get him to use his abilities to scope out their enemies so she could deliver news to Michael down below.

The next minute, there was hideous and furious fighting breaking out and other cars pulled up to join the battle just after Kyle of all people had been taken out. The feelings that Kyle experienced during those moments would forever be branded in Alex's mind, he worried.

Kyle's wounded mindset, Michael's agony, Maria's fear and Tess' sorrow flew into him without him being able to stop it. But, Alex knew from earlier experience that if he just breathed, he could and would slowly get a handle on it.

That was, until a new person arrived below. At first glance, he looked normal, tall and relatively well-built with dark-blond hair that ruffled in the breeze, but Alex didn't really notice his appearance because he was too busy taking in his presence itself. It practically screamed danger and if Alex had believed in auras he'd have said that this man's radiated nothing but darkness.

It quickly became too much – just too much – for Alex's already worn out mind to handle and he let out a howl of fury, fear, sorrow and frustration that commuted into one thing and one thing only; he wanted them all gone! Right now!

"Alex?" Maria's voice was cautious, but he wasn't fooled. She was petrified of the things going on inside of him, and one tiny part of him wanted to ease his best friend's worry, but the rest of him was just so tired of everything and didn't care what kind of tiny, unimportant emotions she was giving off at that moment in time.

He sat up fully, despite the fact that anyone that looked up at him would see him now. Not even Isabel's camouflage was enough to conceal his whereabouts. Maria's small hands grabbed at him and Alex downright snarled at her, watching in detached silence as she flinched roughly enough to jar the unstable rock she was half lying on. It broke off and she tumbled towards the ground with a piercing scream.

It was that shocked sadness tainted with fear Maria projected as she fell to the ground that managed to get through to Alex enough that he leaned forward and tried to grab her. He didn't move fast enough, and the enlarged eyes Maria sent to him even as she fell further and further away froze Alex completely.

His more rational side was screaming at him to do something, anything to save his friend, but he couldn't do anything other than lie there on the edge with his hands outstretched and watch Maria's descent.

Alex was half-aware of the fact that Michael had heard – and more than likely felt – Maria's scream and had tossed Nicholas to the side as if he was a mere ragdoll in an attempt to get to his love in time. Alex could almost taste the lack of hope the time-traveler had, along with the fierce determination to still try saving her despite the low hope. They both knew it was going to be too late and Alex's soft side was whimpering, not able to handle losing another one of his circle of friends.

Suddenly, something changed Maria's destiny. She stopped midair and she screeched even louder as if she couldn't quite believe what was going on. Then she changed tones and started yelling to be put down.

Alex scanned his surroundings with both his eyes and his powers until it all landed on that new arrival, the evil one that even had Nicholas' insides twisting with barely repressed anxiety.

"If I drop her now," the stranger said in a controlled neutral voice that sent shudders down Alex's spine and subsequently everyone else's as well, "she won't die. She might break a bone or two, but that's manageable even with this planet's primitive healing."

Michael's sigh of relief was more mental than physical and Alex took it in gladly, anchoring himself to it before he lost the last bit of his control again. The man spoke again and threatened that control with a mere sentence.

"Then again, I could make her go the other way and let her fall again; seeing one of these Earthlings splattered on the ground would be a nice way to start this day, don't you agree?"

His eyes met Alex's, who instinctively lashed out mentally, only to almost be swallowed by a blackness that drowned out anything else but hate and fear. It was blowing his mind apart, and Alex did his best to hold on to anything that was good and pure – pushing aside his guilt over putting Maria in her current situation, his grief, stolen from Tess, over Kyle and anything else.

Isabel, think of Isabel. Alex ordered himself, knowing that it was more than likely to fail, but then the amazing feel of her lightness and beauty began to cut through the darkness and pour into him.

'Shh, Alex,' her voice was soothing, albeit oddly strangled, and it was enough to force some sort of sense back into the normally sensible teenager. 'Just take a deep breath, please. Relax…'

'What's happening to me?' Alex returned; trying to look past Isabel's walls to see what was going on in the world that wasn't covered in ferocious darkness. 'Why can't I feel anyone else anymore?'

And then, Alex knew what was going on and he doubled his efforts of regaining his control. His powers were pouring out of him in much the same way they'd done in the school when he'd nearly killed Isabel. Several of the Skins were on their knees, a couple even disintegrating as he watched on through Isabel's eyes. The evil man, who he somehow now knew was named, Caden was showing teeth in a soundless growl, his hands clenched in obvious pain.

That didn't matter though, nothing mattered but the fact that Alex's powers hadn't just attacked his enemies, but they were latched onto his friends as well. Michael was lying on top of a moaning Maria, who'd apparently been released from Caden's mental grip. Courtney was standing up still, shaking with a bloody scratch running from her temple to her cheek. Tess was bowled over an unresponsive Kyle, her hands pressing onto his wound tightly even as the rest of her was twitching violently and Isabel…

Alex cringed; Isabel had left the safety of the pod chamber at the first feel of his distress and was lying halfway outside the entrance, her head turned in his direction even as she struggled to breathe. Evidently, her connection to him was causing her great pain, but he couldn't make out any kind of fear of him whatsoever. Just an overwhelming need to keep him safe and stop him from hurting the people he cared about.

'Take…a deep breath…shhh…' Her plea finally pushed Alex over the edge and he stood up and roared out his defiance, pushing back at Caden's oppressive energy, which he'd unknowingly multiplied, and after what felt like eternity, but was probably nothing more than a few moments, Alex broke down the walls and he could breathe peacefully again.

'I'm sorry, Isabel…Please tell them I'm so, so sorry.' Alex managed to send out, carefully sitting down safely, before he allowed himself to once again pass out from overexertion even as he felt someone very powerful draw nearer to them all.

Isabel's POV

Alex's control over his – and everyone else's – emotions slowly began to trickle back after he fell unconscious and Isabel found herself able to breathe again. A part of her took the time to realize that her reaction to Alex's new gift was bigger than the rest of them due to her bond with him. The rest of her was busy cataloguing the seemingly endless new arrivals as they continued exiting the cars all around them.

Her eyes travelled around everywhere, eager to see where she'd be most helpful. She knew their plan had fallen to pieces the minute Caden had shown up. The fear she had at seeing Khivar's second in command in flesh and blood so early in the timeline bubbled beneath her skin, but her experience with that emotion during her lives made her able to still function.

It was the sight of Kyle in the distance with a teary-eyed Tess that nearly made her come undone. Her heart was pounding and her mind faltered at the sight that she'd never wanted to see ever again. Oh God, not again – Don't let it end this way, she prayed, already running to their side in an attempt to help.

She was stopped half-way, however, by a handful of Skins that looked like they'd been through Hell from Alex's treatment and ready to dole out some vengeance of their own. Courtney lay without moving, so Isabel rightly surmised that they'd already started with the betraying Skin.

Without a word, Isabel simply flung out her hands and sent the off biggest energy pulse that she could, instantly killing three of her would-be attackers.

One of the two surviving hostiles managed to punch her hard in the face and Isabel went down, not used to those types of injuries anymore. She stayed down for a long second, dazed and aching. It gave her attacker enough time to kick her in her ribs with crushing force. She gasped and spit out a mouthful of blood at the brutality of it all.

"Stop it, you fool!" Caden's voice rang out in the desert area and Isabel sat up without hindrance, touching her bleeding nose and mouth gingerly even as her side throbbed angrily. "That's Khivar's woman – he wants her back alive so he can deal with her betrayal himself! You can kill the rest of the weaklings yourself; they've got no chance of fighting back now that the King is dead."

"I'm not Vilandra, Caden." Isabel announced hoarsely. She forced everything else out of her mind as she slowly got back up on her feet when she noticed something behind one of the people she hated most. When she briefly looked back at him, Isabel saw a flicker of surprise on the alien's face at her knowledge of his name, but didn't give him time to ask any questions. Instead, she just reached out and killed the last two obstacles in her path to Kyle and Tess with an ease that hopefully portrayed that she was speaking nothing but the truth. "I'm Isabel Evans and I'm not as weak as you think I am. None of us are. Right, Max?"

Isabel looked over Caden's shoulder again at the shadow she'd seen emerge from one of the sandy hilltops. Max didn't respond with words, but the way his eyes literally blazed into Caden as he calmly made his way down the small hill without even firing off one blast of power answered the question for him.

If I can somehow get over to Max and touch him, we could work out a plan, Isabel thought, gradually inching herself closer to her deceptively calm looking brother, whose dark eyes were still burning into Caden with a ferocity that frankly scared the crap out of her when she got a closer look.

Surprisingly, it seemed to have an effect on the bloodthirsty Caden as well, his own eyes unable to look away from the look of death Max had bestowed upon him. For one insane second, Isabel almost felt sorry for Khivar's agent as she recalled the stories she'd heard from an emotionless Max of just how he'd ended his former torturer's life.

Then the images of her brother's abused body when he'd been rescued after a two weeks stay at Caden's hide-out flew into her mind, and any and all thoughts of sympathy evaporated like they'd never even been there and Isabel even gave a soundless growl, causing a few of the nearby Skins to fidget uncomfortably.

A movement to the side alerted Isabel to the fact that Michael was once again back in the land of the living and they shared a brief look that said so many things that she knew that he too had caught a glimpse of Kyle and Tess behind her, and that he was willing to fight fast enough to hopefully be able to prevent his death a second time around.

A wave of agonizing grief tried to drown her fragile calm, but she pushed it to the back of her mind with a ruthless efficiency. We saved Nasedo when he was dead that one time, Isabel tried cheering herself up, conveniently overlooking the fact that Kyle wasn't Antarian for the time being. We can do the same with Kyle…Now focus, Isabel and be ready for whatever happens.

It was Nicholas' voice that brought Isabel back out of her grieving mind and she looked over at the Skin with bared teeth. He's responsible for all of this; if he'd just left us alone we wouldn't have lost—stop it and concentrate! She scolded herself, just as his words finally registered in her head.

"The king is dead, Caden. That boy is a nobody meant to distract you. Forget Khivar's orders about Vilandra and kill her and the idiot General and their humans. We've still got a chance if we find the Duplicate pairs."

"Idiot," Caden growled, never looking away from Max's stare. "There's a reason they're copies; they're weak and our leader cannot abide the weak as you very well know."

"But—"

"Shut up," Caden hissed. "I don't know what moron it was that your guys killed, but it sure as hell wasn't Zan. Look at this guy, Nick. Really look at him."

Nicholas barely moved a muscle, too worried about making sure that neither Michael nor Isabel advanced any further. "Fine. He's not dead yet, so kill him now, already before this all blows up in our faces."

"Kill the humans, you fucking wimp and I'll handle this boy myself, show him just who the real powerhouse here is." Caden straightened up and Isabel held her breath for a second, until Nicholas catapulted into action.

Isabel hadn't expected it, and Michael too judging from the surprise showing clearly on his face, Nicholas didn't go for the obvious target; a nearby and frozen with fear, Maria, who was lying in a half-way fetal position, cradling her right leg that seemed to be in a very unnatural angle from what was visible. No, he was moving exceptionally fast towards the only other person that Isabel had travelled through time for; the man she loved above all else.

"ALEX!" His name left her lips in a hoarse cry that did no good at all to the unconscious male, considering the bond was still completely silent from his end.

Michael didn't say anything, but he was already moving where Isabel was not and his movement jolted her into action, but even when they ran as fast as they could, shooting out energy pulses in a frantic attempt at stopping the Skin long enough to save Alex, they both knew it was futile.

Please, not this – anything but this, please! Isabel pleaded inwardly when yet another blast just narrowly missed the small Skin. I can't live without him too, please – why can't it be me instead, please?

"Please don't kill him!" Isabel screamed pathetically, her eyes burning with unshed tears that were mere seconds away from falling. "Somebody help us!" She cried out, hoping for a miracle that she knew in her heart wasn't going to happen.

And then, impossibly enough it did and the desert suddenly echoed with a pained, gurgling scream that sent a shiver down Isabel's spine at the same time her heart leapt with an almost devastating sense of relief.

TBC…
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A/N I repeat: Trust. Me…

Until Next Time, let me know if you liked the chapter! Or not, I just want human contact through the internet and, wow, just realized that sounded way dirtier than I thought it would *blushes and prepares to flee the country*

Ditte Mai
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maipigen
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Re: The Antarian Timetravellers TEEN/MATURE CC CH. 31 03/26/

Postby maipigen » Fri Apr 26, 2013 4:54 am

Before I say anything else, I'd like to thank those who've stayed with me for so long, you're the reason I haven't just forgotten this story and concentrated on something else. Big thanks to new readers as well, you're always welcome!
Thanks especially goes to:
AvolonRose
xilaj
Janetfl
Timelord31
kissme4ever123
Michelle in LA
Earth2Mama
sonia62
emerald123
begonia9508
Strawbehrry Shortcake
keepsmiling7

A/N First off: Remember when I asked you to trust me? Yeah, I'm keeping my word in this chapter to some extend hehe. So, I was in a writing mood and this popped up, I hope there hasn't been too much of a anticipation for fight scenes, because I still suck royally at those, so they may not live up to the hype. That said, there's a tiny bit of blood and gore in this chapter, but it's not that bad. Also in Liz's pov the highlighted sentences are words from the previous chapter! Now, I'll let you get on with reading. Enjoy:D
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Last Time on TATT: The entire gang minus Max/Liz makes a plan to take on Nicholas and it starts out great until he gets back up from Khivar's second in command, Caden. Alex freaks out and it's only Isabel's doing that they aren't all dead. Maria gets caught in the crossfire. Kyle is taken down by a Skin and dies as he kills several of the enemies with his powers, leaving Tess and Isabel in despair. And on top of that Nicholas suddenly makes a move to take out an unconscious Alex and then someone answers Isabel's prayer for help and intervenes… Let's see what happens next, shall we?

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Big, ginourmous thanks to my trusty beta Marzmez for all the help and support during my insecure rambles!

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Liz's POV

She hurt all over, it was choking every pore of her being, only broken by sporadic flashes of memories that weren't –couldn't be – hers. There were voices around her and Liz knew that she should respond; help out that frightened male voice that she vaguely recognized as Alex's.

Except, Liz's mind tried to tell her, it can't be him because he died; Tess killed him and showed barely any remorse. But that's not true, a tiny part of her did its best to force through, Alex is alive and Tess is your friend, she'd never hurt anyone.

Another male voice, quieter than the other voices around her, seemed to speak to Liz and she wanted nothing more to open her eyes as he kept asking her to, warm lips gently caressing her hair from what she could gather in her limited situation.

As time went on, Liz slowly began to realize that she was supposed to wake up – that there was trouble around her and she was always in the midst of the fighting, no exceptions.

Max was skin and bones as he hung fromthe chains, covered in lacerations and blood and his body showed clear signs of his own urine and more, but Liz had never been happier to see her husband –[i]husband? – alive and she felt a rush of adrenaline shoot through her as she made her way to his side and reached out to him with her heart and soul through their bond. It didn't take long to get a reaction. His lovely eyes cracked open at her touch and as soon as their minds connected, Max seemed to crumble and all she felt and heard from her other soul was devastation. Not at his own fate, but the fact that Liz even put herself at risk in the first place.[/i]

"First of all we need to get to the Granolith before the Skins do. Nicholas is bound to get there soon with Tess' help."

Tess? Liz's mind was distracted from her horrible memories at the sound of a rough voice. Kyle, she decided – once more confused because he'd been dead for years now and no matter how crazy she was becoming, Liz knew that dead people didn't talk. Kyle's not dead! Her small inner voice practically screamed and Liz would've flinched back from the noise if her body's reactions had been hers to control.

Yes he is, Liz finally managed to practically growl back as memories of impossible things flooded her numbed senses. So am I for that matter. I'm not supposed to be here… No, I died to save Max – You're not dead! – Always to save Max

"Forget about that now. We need to get a plan together before it all ends up with us dead and with no Granolith."


Tess is alive too? She betrayed us, Liz could feel an all consuming anger begin to twist inside of her and she fought her own body for control so she could help. Immediately her body protested again; that old, almost familiar, pain from a life gone by, mixed in with fresh agony and memories that shouldn't be possible. How is all of this even possible? Liz wondered, unknowingly grimacing in pain as she tried to open her eyes and look around.

"Shh, Liz," Max's soothing voice whispered in her ear, instantly sending calming waves down Liz's tense spine. "I'm here now. I'm so sorry I couldn't stop all of this from happening to you. I just wanted you to be safe…That's the only reason I came back; for you, always you, Liz."

Came back? Wait, Liz's confusion bled away slowly and another old, - yet completely impossible, her rational voice yelled in the background, - memory returned to her, filling in another piece of the puzzle she'd been trying to solve for weeks now.

The cave was dark and empty, but Liz had left behind childish fears of bogeymen long ago; her real life's monsters were a lot worse. Instead, she confidently made her way through a small, inconspicuous hole in the far end of the wall and ended up in the chamber that housed the Granolith.


Liz spared a moment of her search to stare up at the thing that had so much power it still blew her scientific loving mind even after all her years involved with her Czechoslovakians.

Shaking her head, Liz shoved the thoughts away for now and continued the searchfor her wayward husband. Another close fit through another passage and she was crawling out through one of the pods and entering the podchamber where her eyes quickly landed on Max's still form.


He was sitting with his back to her, not moving, but Liz knew that he'd sensed her presence froma slight lessening of thetension in his shoulders. A few seconds later, she sat down next to him and leaned her head on his shoulder with a small sigh of contentment.

"What are you doing up?" His voice was rough and gravelly, but considering that he barely spoke anymore, Liz wasn't surprised in the least. "You need to sleep."


"Pot, meet kettle," Liz joked and straightened up so he had to look down into her eyes, forcibly dragging him away from whatever deep thoughts he was in the middle of. "Maria came looking for you, she said you just walked out of a meeting with Michael earlier. That's not like you. What's wrong, Max?"

Max sighed and gave an abysmal attempt of a smile that both of them knew was just for show. "I'm just tired, Liz. That's all."


Liz bit her lip, a feeling of dread slowly making its way down her spine. Max didn't get tired, he was their rock whenever things got too hard, always ready with a soothing touch and a soft smile, except, now that she thought about it, Liz realized that it'd been a while since his beautiful smile had lit up the room.

"Don't you ever feel likeyou've had enough?" Max interjected through her thoughts and Liz looked up again. "Things are getting worse every day and we've lost so many already and I can't do anything about it. Liz, tell me what to do?"

Liz turned around so that she was facing her troubled husband. "Max, life is hard and with our luck it's probably gonna get a lot harder too, but…we persevere because we have to. Of course I'm tired, I can't tell you thenumber of times I've wanted to use Serena's knowledge to just go back and take a chance to change our lives."

Max frowned, "What are you talking about?"

Liz smiled gently and ran a hand through Max's grey-streaked hair that once scared her so much when she'd first seen 'future Max's' face so long ago. "If it wasn't so dangerous, the Granoliths opportunities are endless. Remember 'Future Max'? Let me tell you something he told me that I haven't shared with you before. Actually it's more along the lines of something that Serena told him."

Max raised a brow and nodded when Liz looked at him for permission to go on and she took a deep breath and told him all about the time travel feature in the Granolith.


In the next second, Liz just knew. The puzzle was finally solved and she wanted to both weep with joy and scream with outrage. They did it, I don't know why I'm back but they did it…Oh my God.

In that moment, Liz noticed that while her attention had been sorting everything out, Max had left her alone. She couldn't feel his warmth or sense his emotions nearby and that gave her the incentive to fight harder to return to the land of the conscious.

"I can't believe you, Zannie boy. I mean, I knew you and your precious family were weak even before you got sent to this retched planet, but now you're just pathetic."

That voice? Nicholas! Liz's younger self's fear of the boy-looking alien still lingered inside of her and her heart began to beat faster and faster, giving her enough power to fight her body. After what felt like forever her left forefinger twitched and then a couple of toes and then, suddenly, Liz's eyes snapped open and she was moving before she even truly realized it.

"Kill the humans, you fucking wimp and I'll handle this boy myself, show him just who the real powerhouse here is."

Liz's insides froze before thawing with wrath that sent spikes of power through her, power that she hadn't felt in a long time; her own special crackling lightning power. She recognized Caden's voice and was about to search him out when another voice screamed out Alex's name and everything in Liz focused on saving the boy she'd called her best friend, until Tess came along and ruined everything.

Not this time
, Liz decided, racing faster than should've been possible. This time I will save Alex and everyone else who's in that bitch's way! She ignored that tiny, younger, part of her that tried explaining that Tess wasn't evil, Tess was her friend, because that was just too ludicrous to take in right now along with everything else.

Tess' POV

Horror, sorrow, anger, denial and guilt and bone crushing grief battled inside of Tess from the second she'd watched Kyle sink to the ground with the most devastatingly confused expression on his face.

Everything seemed to happen in a blur after that; her connection with the dying human was struggling to stay working, sending the biggest bursts of energy into him as she could manage. Tess didn't verbally or mentally acknowledge it, but she was more than ready to die with Kyle despite their relationship being barely there.

It didn't matter; all she knew was that she could not live without him. And, more importantly, Tess bared her teeth, they're all gonna die if he does

A lot of things seemed to happen in a blur as Tess sat at Kyle's side, her hands pressing on his stomach to staunch the blood flow as much as she could. Maria fallen to the ground with a shriek of pain, Isabel fighting and Max arriving all seemed to happen at the same time. Even when Isabel and Michael rushed to save Alex from Nicholas' rash act, Tess still couldn't comprehend everything entirely.

A second later, everything stopped, as the heartbeat that she was so engrossed in listening to through her bond with Kyle stopped.

"No…" Tess moaned, catching a glimpse of someone stopping Nicholas' mad dash out of the corner of her eye. It didn't matter; nothing did if she couldn't get the silent heart beating again. "NO!" Irately, Tess desperately began pounding on Kyle's still chest, "you can't do this to me, come back! Come back to me right now!"

Noises erupted all around her when she felt her control slip out of her fingers and Tess jumped to her feet, eyes not wavering one inch from the quiet –not dead, he wasn't! – boy on the blood-soaked ground.

A feeling unlike anything Tess had ever experienced seemed to slide into her, and she resigned herself to the fact that in a matter of minutes, her life would probably end as well. But not until they're all dead, she thought viciously, practically growling with so much rage and grief it was all but choking her.

One quick movement and Tess had slipped a quickly, alien sharpened rock into the nearest Skin's vulnerable neck, watching dispassionately as the blood sprayed everything – including her – nearby. Another quick jab and victim number two went down with a gurgled scream as she clutched her severed throat with desperation that Tess watched with a frighteningly sense of serenity.

Just as Tess turned to send a killing blast in a third Skin's direction, she saw a flash of sparkling green and everything erupted into pain that rivaled the one in her heart. She fell to the ground right between one of her victims and Kyle, spasms rocked her body and she struggled to locate her attacker.

"Tess!"

The air around her crackled with electricity for an endless moment, until it suddenly vanished, leaving her spent and throbbing all over. Tess grimaced as she looked up to see her attacker, only to freeze in shock as her eyes locked onto Liz's dark brown ones.

The brunette was standing only a few feet away with Nicholas' smaller body caught in her arms as if he was an unruly child to be taken home for punishment. The Skin was pale and bleeding from several scratches on his face, his clothes sent out small puffs of smoke in the morning light that only brought more attention to the multiple burns on his arms.

"L-Liz?" Tess whispered hoarsely, slowly managing to get back on her feet. Her grief momentarily pushed aside by mounting confusion and slight apprehension. The look in the human girl's eyes gave Tess the chills and she ignored the hypocrisy of her thoughts when she compared Liz to a seemingly soulless being.

Then the human she'd considered her best friend spoke, and Tess suddenly didn't know what to say or do.

"You couldn't stop yourself this time either, could you?" Tess followed Liz's sorrow and rage-filled eyes as they landed on the unmoving Kyle and swallowed a lump of dread.

The Skin in Liz's arm seemed to get his second wind and began thrashing around violently and Tess watched in anxious awe as the brunette human seemingly electrocuted him with one quick movement. Nicholas' scream was both a soothing sound and an agony all at once for the curly-haired hybrid.

"LIZ!"

Tess jumped to her feet when the roar of Max's voice seemed to distract Liz and her grip on Nicholas lessened enough for the injured Skin to rip himself out of her arms. Out of the corner of her eye, Tess noticed that Max was standing frozen, hindered by Caden's presence and Michael was by Maria's side while Isabel was with Alex. The only other one free to help was an unknown woman that had stayed near Michael every time Tess had managed to look away from Kyle earlier.

Before she took any time to think further about Liz's behavior, pressing down her initial dread at the human's cold eyes, Tess had sent off a blast that struck Nicholas in his side just as he was reaching out to stab Liz with an unnoticed knife that gleamed in the early sunlight.

The Skin was blasted backwards with another pain-filled scream and Liz sank to her knees. For one desperate short minute, Tess feared that the alien had managed to injure Liz and felt her insides twist together. She couldn't bear the thought of losing another of her circle, but before her fragile mind snapped completely, Liz drew in a shagged breath and stumbled back to her feet.

She looked over at Tess with an unfamiliar look in her eyes, a mixture of confusion, old anger and gratitude battled for dominance until it settled on a neutral stare that once again made Tess' skin crawl.

"Focus on me, you little brat!"

Caden's coarse voice interrupted Tess and she quickly turned to stare at him, only to see his attention focused solely on Max. Evidently, the former king had tried coming to Liz's rescue once again, much to Caden's consternation and his temper finally snapped with terrifying results.

A second later, everything erupted into another bout of pure chaos. Caden sent a pulse of raw energy Max's way and he rolled out of the danger zone and responded in kind with so much speed that Tess knew that he'd had some kind of training in his life.

She didn't have time to think about that though, because unbelievably, in the next moment, Nicholas had appeared again and jumped on to Liz's back, unceremoniously slicing the girl's fragile neck. The blood immediately sprouted from the deathly wound and Tess catapulted herself into movement a fraction of a second faster than the rest of her friends did.

The next thing she knew, Tess was holding on to Nicholas' own neck and was squeezing for all her worth. "Why won't you just die?" she growled through gritted teeth, wanting to pour as much pain and suffering into the deceptively innocent looking Skin as possible.

Liz was now lying on the ground, one hand clutched frantically at her neck, but then Tess vaguely noticed her move toward them with her free hand raised and a second later, her hand reached behind them and Tess knew what was going to happen next.

Judging from the widening of Nicholas' eyes and the pure fear that dawned on his face, he knew too and then he vanished between Tess' fingers as Liz ruined his meat suit and it blew away in the soft wind that was around them.

Feeling a little cheated out of actually ending that miserable, smug worm's life, Tess turned to stare a little dumbfounded at Liz. She was still a little creeped out at the sudden switch that seemed to have taken place in her friend; she'd never seen Liz in that state before.

Of course, the second her eyes landed on Liz, Tess got her sense of self back and was nearly overthrown with fear at the sight in front of her. Liz was now lying crumpled on the ground, blood everywhere and her grip on her injured throat looked to be quickly lessening, but her eyes were glued on Tess with that indecipherable stare with no hints of stopping.

Without a second thought, Tess batted Liz's hand away and took over adding much needed pressure on her gaping wound. If she'd thought too much about it, Tess would probably have thrown up, might even do it later, but at that point in time all she was focused on was getting Liz to survive long enough so that Max could either heal her or they'd get her to a much needed hospital.

"M-Max…" Liz gurgled, face wincing with every syllable.

"He's coming," Tess promised, the lie easily slipping from her lips as tears began running down her face. In the background Caden and Max's fight was still going strong, something she knew that Liz wasn't blind to either, but it looked like the brunette appreciated the lie none the less.

"You're gonna be fine," Tess murmured again and again, screaming in her head for someone to help her save her friend.

She was so intent on not letting Liz's life slip between her fingers that Tess didn't even notice the fighting going on all around her until someone grabbed her arm and tried pulling her from Liz's side. With a ferociousness that felt more primal than anything else, Tess turned her head and savagely bit into her would-be captor's hand, refusing to let go even when her assailant began shaking her tinier frame with all his might.

She was only interested in two things now, only capable of doing two things. Stop the Skin from hurting Liz and save Liz at all costs, not caring whether or not she got hurt herself.

Out of nowhere, the Skin was ripped out of her mouth and Tess watched with wide eyes as Michael unceremoniously snapped the alien's neck and sent something that reminded her of her own blast, yet a hell of a lot more powerful, right through his body until it too disintegrated.

A second later, Michael was on his knees next to her, and staring down at the unbelievable calm looking Liz, who just kept staring up at them as if she wasn't bleeding out in front of them and gasping more and more for air.

"Tess," Michael's tone was more serious than she ever remembered hearing before and for some reason it managed to snap her out of her halfway primal state of mind enough to look at him questioningly. "I'm not exactly the best healer – fuck, I don't think I'm even qualified, but I know a little bit, so I'm gonna try to help Liz and I'd appreciate it if you didn't attack me. All right?"

Taking a deep breath, Tess looked down and met Liz's gaze for a short moment before looking back up at Michael. "Promise me that you'll do what you can? If it feels like you're failing, I'll take over again because she can't die too. I can't lose her …Please."

The tears kept on rolling down her cheeks, and landed on the ground, mixing morbidly with Liz's lifeblood, solidifying, in Tess' exhausted mind that she had to save Liz at all costs.

The air rumbled with the continuing battle between Caden and Max, and Tess spared one brief glance over at the two males. If she hadn't been so ruined inwardly by losing Kyle and struggling to save Liz, Tess may have gawped in awe at the sight. The two men moved like dancers, their movements were as flawless as they were deadly and everything around them, including a few downed Skins, was ruined beyond all repair. The ground was cracked and some dry bushes were burning violently, sending giant masses of smoke up into the air. Only then did Tess notice the smoke filled air all around her, and she realized her throat was raw and it was hard to breathe.

But, it didn't matter and without much thought about what would happen should Max actually lose his fight, Tess turned back to Michael and Liz. They shared a look and then Michael nodded and Tess slowly removed her blood-soaked hands when Michael's own hovered over hers in preparation for whatever he was about to do.

For what felt like forever, but was probably nothing more than a few seconds in reality, nothing seemed to happen and Tess had to fight herself from pushing Michael out of the way and taking over.

Then, to Tess' profound relief, she noticed that Michael's fingers slowly began glowing greenish and not long after that, the flow of blood between his fingers stemmed and Liz began to blink rapidly as though uncomfortable with something and Tess realized it was the wound's closing itself up that irritated her.

"Liz?" The wobbly tone in Michael's voice told Tess that he'd had no real confidence in his own powers, but she didn't feel betrayed. In fact, she had to repress an urge to hug the stuffing out of him with grateful joy.

Liz gestured mutely to his hands around her neck, which he promptly removed with a relieved smile on his face. A scream from Maria instantly took his attention away and the former Antarian General was across the site and next to Maria, who was busy struggling with one of the few remaining Skins.

Tess prepared to help, but with an ease that frankly frightened her, Michael's big hands had ended the attacker's life and she looked over at Liz instead. The brunette seemed a little dazed, a result of the blood loss, Tess knew and she didn't say anything for a long moment.

A roar of rage and triumph from Caden trapped both girls' attention and Tess had to hold a weak Liz back at the sight of Caden pounding Max to the ground and slamming his head into the ground. For some unexplainable reason, Tess wasn't worried – something told her that Max had everything covered and just as she finished muttering that very thing to Liz, Max got to his feet and to Tess he'd never looked more dangerous.

"Now, it's my turn," his voice was gravelly and rough, practically oozing threats. Judging from Caden's slight flinch and the sweat pooling on his brow, he knew the danger he was in.

Liz squirmed in Tess' arms and with a start of her own; she released the human girl as fast as she could. To her surprise, Liz didn't act as if she was going to continue whatever it was she'd been doing before Nicholas had hurt her; instead, she merely inclined her head with a careful motion that told Tess that although the severity of the injury had lessened, the pain had by no means disappeared.

"We have to help him," Tess whispered, eyeing her surroundings for more enemies, but aside from Caden and one, who was busy clutching his head over by Isabel, who was still beside an unconscious Alex there didn't seem to be any more left.

"It's not necessary." Liz stated in a similar whisper, her eyes locked on Max with a look that Tess didn't remember seeing on her before. It was as if she was looking at the one person that meant more to her than anyone else and if she blinked, something bad would happen.

Instinctively, Tess glanced over at the unmoving figure on the ground a little to her left. Her heart skipped an uncomfortable beat and her stomach churned, as though painfully missing the barely formed connection she'd shared with him. Kyle…I'm so sorry, she thought before once again being distracted from her mixture of grief, guilt and anger.

Caden must have lashed out while I wasn't looking, Tess thought as she saw Max stumble back with a loud grunt of pain, a long, fresh gash running from his shoulder and down to his waist, leaving his shirt in tatters.

I've never seen his eyes look so inhuman, the observation ran through Tess' mind as he very briefly looked in their direction, settling on the blood that covered Liz in particular before he returned his concentration to a panting Caden. Apparently he'd used what was left of his waning strength wounding Max.

"Why can't you and Khivar just leave us alone?" The question was loud in the sudden silence and Tess watched with baited breath as Caden struggled to maintain his menacing aura, but it was useless against Max, who only seemed to be getting stronger with every passing second.

"We wouldn't have interfered in his reign," Max continued, confusing Tess with his knowledge, something she only had a little off courtesy of Nasedo's upbringing. "I- we were content here on Earth, living in peace. Will you just leave, go back to your delusional ruler and tell him we're not interested in a world that we died on so long ago?"

Caden sneered and Tess felt a tiny bit sorry for him, knowing he was sealing his own fate when he finally replied to Max's request.

"My king wants you gone, your line broken forever and I want whatever he wants. Why couldn't you just stay dead, huh? Khivar's ruled Antar for decades now, his love for Vilandra the only positive thing he's got left to remind him of a better time even as his people cling to your memory in a continuous attempt to overthrow him." Caden took a deep breath, settling into a battle stance that Tess recognized as one of those that Nasedo had taught her as belonging to the Royal Guards only and she gained another piece of the puzzle in terms of who Caden really was.

"I'm loyal to my king and your kingdom is ancient history as far as I am concerned; Zan was a spoiled brat and nothing more. You'll never convince me to surrender this fight, so stop stalling and keep going, before I lose whatever patience I have left!"

Max stood completely still for one long minute, closing his eyes briefly as if in prayer and when he reopened them, Tess saw nothing of the teenage boy she'd come to know since arriving in Roswell and she swallowed a lump of pure fear at the sight.

"He's gonna kill him," Tess murmured, grabbing Liz's hand. To her surprise, Liz actually squeezed back as she responded with a mute nod of agreement.

Just as Liz finished moving her head up and down, Max slowly bent down and took two small pebbles in his hands. "At least I tried," he said quietly. As he spoke, he made a fist and Tess had to look away for a second when his fingers started to glow brightly. When she looked back, Max was holding two deadly looking blades in his hands. At that moment, he began to run toward Caden, and the expression on his face was one of resigned determination.

Truthfully that scared Tess more than anything else, but she didn't get a chance to do anything before Max reached Caden. His quick rush seemed to have caught the alien off guard as well because he didn't even try to dodge when Max buried those weapons into his chest with a savage grunt of effort.

He killed a defenseless man, a tiny, moral part of Tess kept on thinking, before her more rational – and vengeful – self came back and reminded her that defenseless or not, Caden hadn't been a good man and would've killed, not only Max but all of them if he'd gotten the chance. He's already partially responsible for K-Kyle's…

Unable to even think the word 'death', Tess vehemently shook her head and just watched alongside Liz as Caden stumbled back, Max's knives still embedded in him as he sunk to his knees and eventually tumbled backwards where he didn't move again.

Maria's POV

The silence in the cave was oppressive at best, an exhausted Maria decided. She was silently watching as Michael, Max and Alex came walking inside carrying their precious cargo between them.

I can't believe what's happened these last few days, Maria thought, biting her lip when her leg gave another stab of pain from the break it had suffered hours earlier.

Michael had done some Czechoslovakian mojo on her leg that hadn't exactly healed her break completely, but had at least made it somewhat bearable. It's nothing compared to what's happened to some of the others here, she continued with a sad sigh and a slight trembling running down her spine at the memory of not only watching Kyle die, but seeing Liz – her best friend in the whole world – get so grievously and mercilessly injured and not having been in any kind of position to help.

Thank God for Michael, Maria looked over at the man in question; his face somber and pale as he helped place a motionless Kyle on the ground they'd prepared for him. If he hadn't helped her, I wouldn't have been as sane as I am right now.

Her eyes travelled over to Max, who looked nothing like the angry warrior he'd been since arriving on the scene to take on Caden. He looked, if not broken, then completely fatigued and weary, as if the weight of the whole universe was on his shoulders.

The second he'd made sure that the insane alien with the creepy eyes was in fact taken care of, Max had all but catapulted himself over to Liz's side and the look of pure tenderness and love that he'd given Liz as he'd carefully pried her bloodied hands off of her neck to complete Michael's weaker healing had sent shivers down Maria's spine and she'd had to look away from their private moment.

Shortly thereafter he'd made his way over to her and reached out to heal her, but Maria had only shook her head and leaned into Michael, who was sitting next to her with a pleading look on his face directed at Max. "I'm okay for now," she'd said and pointed weakly in Kyle's direction, "Please see if you can do something about that."

That had brought the thankful mood to a halt more surely than anything else could have and Maria had been carried into the podchamber and sat down on the floor where Liz had sat down next to her and without any warning at all her friend had hugged her like they hadn't seen each other in years. If she hadn't been so tired and damn relieved that Liz wasn't actually dead, Maria may have wondered about it more, but as it was, she simply returned the hug with a fierce one of her own.

Isabel joined them, along with a shaken looking Tess, who looked like her whole world was over and without any hesitation whatsoever, Maria dragged her into the group hug as well, feeling a few burning tears in her eyes to match Tess' continuous flowing ones.

Courtney sat in the corner, looking like a small wind would bowl her over, and normally Maria would've questioned her right to be there, but she'd actually saved Maria's life when Michael had been busy helping Liz. She'd barely woken up when one of the last Skins had tried literally ripping Maria in half, but she'd stumbled and then crawled over and pushed that weird destruct-o button that they all had before fainting once again.

If only she'd stop eyeballing Michael whenever he's around then I might even like her a little bit, Maria thought with a wry smile. The next moment, Max turned to look in Maria's direction and she had to force herself not to react. It would seem that her forgotten fear of the alien-ness that was Michael had transferred over to Max after seeing his brutal ending of Caden.

Alex stood next to Max and Maria saw him frowning a bit and then his gaze zeroed in on her and she silently cursed herself for her lack of control when her earlier fear spiked a bit. I guess it's normal to fear the guy who tried to kill you, she thought, but then she wanted to kick herself when she saw Alex's minute flinch and Isabel's immediate focus on him.

"I'm sorry about everything," Alex murmured as he settled down next to Maria on her free side. "I wasn't in control of myself…Otherwise I'd never hurt you, I hope you know that."

Maria sighed and wrapped the arm that wasn't around Liz over Alex's tall, gangly shoulders. "Of course I do, Alex. I'm sorry I'm so weak that you have to feel my emotions after what can only have been a seriously poopy day."

Alex's smile was more along the lines of a grimace, but she appreciated his attempt none the less. "Well," he said as he made no move to get up, "at least now you see that envying my 'cool' powers is a complete waste of time."

"I can't believe I was that shallow," Maria whispered, leaning her head on the cave wall behind her. "After today I wouldn't wish any of those freaky Czech powers on anybody. No offence, Tess."

Tess, who was sitting in a similar position on Liz's other side as Maria was, didn't bother replying. Her sole focus was on Kyle's form on the ground and Max, Michael and Isabel's movements as they placed those alien stones Maria had heard about from Michael all around Kyle.

A moment later, Max glanced over at Tess with an almost guilty look to him. "We'll need you to help, Tess," he said gently, as if speaking to a child. Which I suppose is the only kind of mental stability she's able to keep hold of right now, Maria surmised, feeling nothing but pity and understanding for the girl.

If that had been Michael… The mere thought brought a wave of fresh agony over Maria that was tenfold that of the pain in her half- broken leg. Alex gave a small jolt next to her and Maria quickly put a lid on her thoughts, shoving her morbid fantasy of seeing Michael lying dead on the ground to the background as fast as she could. "Sorry," she apologized and Alex merely shrugged and closed his eyes.

Tess unwrapped herself from the human comfort that she'd been encased in since entering the podchamber and Maria watched intently as she slowly made her way over to the other hybrids and gingerly sat down in front of the small amber colored stone that was lying innocently next to Kyle's pale face.

"What are they gonna do?" Maria whispered, not expecting any answers since those who'd know about the details seemed to be getting increasingly focused on pouring some kind of soft glowing energy into the stones in their hands.

"They're magnifying their own powers through the Healing Stones," Liz's slightly hoarse voice answered without any hesitation whatsoever. To Maria's confused surprise, she even expanded on her explanation, "Out of all of them, Max is really the only healer and through their Royal Four connection their strength magnifies to unmeasured dimensions – they're hoping that their combined forces will somehow resurrect Kyle, that the powers that have been awoken in him is enough to make him more like them for the stones to work properly."

"Whoa," was all Maria could really say to that and she got a quick smile from Liz, who then looked back at their Czechoslovakian friends.

It didn't quite hit Maria until later that it was kinda weird that Liz was suddenly such a fountain of knowledge even if she took into account Liz's quest for answers, but Maria was momentarily distracted when suddenly, a curtain of light started evolving around Kyle's body until it suddenly burst into one huge flame like orb that flew inside him with a whoosh of sparkles trailing after it.

And then, rather anticlimactically in Maria's opinion, nothing else happened.

Maria held her breath along with everyone else in the cave, all their eyes transfixed on Kyle for what felt like forever. Even Courtney, Maria noticed when she saw the only surviving Skin lean forward ever so slightly after a few minutes of anxious waiting.

"No…." It was Tess' voice that first rang out in the hollowed rocky cave, "Please don't do this to me, Kyle. Please don't leave me. We've got so much to talk about. Please…Nononono!"

Maria wanted nothing more than to go over to her and comfort her, but for one thing she was still not really able to walk without assistance and for another thing, suddenly Alex began moaning next to her and her attention shifted to him.

"Argh…Stop," he muttered over and over again, bringing Isabel's focus over to him, but before she could help calm him down like she'd done when he'd last lost control, and before Maria could improvise and knock him unconscious with a jagged piece of rock that she'd scooped up from the ground, the entire cave resonated with a primal scream that shattered everyone's nerves.

One heartbeat later, things jumped into motion. She watched in frozen awe, one stone filled hand still halfway raised to smack Alex over the head, as none other than Kyle rushed to his feet with remarkable agility for a dead guy.

Maria yelped in unneeded warning when his completely healed body bowled into Michael's with a force that sent the larger male stumbling to the ground. A second later, Kyle was downright growling at Max as he prowled toward him, an almost casual kick sent an unprepared Isabel to the ground as well and Alex immediately ran to her side. Apparently, he did something to Kyle because the resurrected human bent forward with a groan for one short moment, before he managed to make his way over to Alex with payback in his emotionless eyes.

Liz began to get up, but Maria instantly grabbed a firm hold of her. "Don't be stupid, he's lost it completely- he's gone totally Resident Evil on us," she whispered frantically, hoping that her stubborn friend would see the pure stupidity in getting involved in a fight that not even aliens with powers could seem to stop.

Okay, so they're completely worn out and he's newly energized, Maria quickly amended when Max struggled back on his feet, but still, shouldn't they be able to take us all down in a second no matter what?

"Tess, look out!" Isabel yelled, being the only one to notice that the other girl had jumped to her feet and was running toward an unnoticing Kyle.

Maria watched – along with everyone else – with her mouth wide open in shock as Kyle twisted around to no doubt finish off another wrongly perceived threat, only to be utterly silenced by Tess kissing him with all her might. She was grasping on to his bare chest with hands that was still smeared red with Liz's dried blood, but he didn't seem to mind because after only a few long seconds, his own bloodied arms had wrapped themselves around her much smaller frame and was pushing her as close to him as possible.

Feeling it was safe enough since she was pretty sure that Kyle's sanity was returning, Maria untangled herself from Liz and began crawling over to Michael, who hadn't moved since Kyle had knocked him to the ground. Max had explained earlier, as he'd looked him over before preparing to fetch Kyle into the podchamber that Michael was beyond fatigued. His attempts at healing, at using powers as they weren't meant to be used, had drained him a lot more than usual. Add to that the whole weird, but awesome thing they just did to get Kyle back and there's no question that he's on his last legs, Maria thought as she finally reached her boyfriend.

Maria breathed a big sigh of relief when she saw that Michael wasn't unconscious as she'd first thought. He was just lying there and staring up at the roof of the cave with a small smile on his face. "So I guess Tess took a note out of your book," he said gently, reaching out to caress her cheek with an indescribable look of tenderness in his eyes. "Shutting the guy up by kissing him," Michael explained at Maria's questioning look.

Unable to stop it, Maria chuckled tiredly and leaned against Michael, using him as a comfy pillow even as she took great care in protecting her leg from further aggravating it. "If I wasn't in so much pain right now, I'd totally take my own move back and show them how it's really done," she murmured, placing her head in the crook of Michael's neck which muffled her words a bit.

She felt a small rush of concern and guilt run from Michael's side of their bond to hers and knew what he was going to say even before he said it, "Are you in a lot of pain? If you're still feeling a little iffy about Max, I'll try again to help you and-"

"Don't," Maria interrupted quietly, "I can handle it for now. I know you and Max are more than exhausted right now; I don't wanna burden him with my silly injury until we can't avoid it any longer. He needs, we all do by the way, to charge our batteries so to speak before doing anything else. My immature behavior has caused enough problems for you guys already, I'll deal with it. Just don't move too much, 'cause I kinda want to stay right here with you until we're all better."

"You're not as immature as you think you are, you know." Michael whispered and then added with a small, almost sad smile, "Actually, I'd rather have you immature and innocent than the opposite, believe me.

Maria was about to say something along the lines of 'sure, whatever' when Max spoke and Maria looked over at him to find him sitting next to a content looking Liz.

"We need to take care of Caden's body and the ones that weren't Skins as well," his tone was without any inflection and if Maria didn't know any better, she'd say he was talking about getting some homework done, he seemed that affected by it and once again, Maria was a little more than a bit perturbed.

"I can light a fire," Courtney said, looking at Max with the same look that Maria was sure was gracing her own features. "Burn the evidence before anyone in law enforcement gets involved. I'll have to go to Copper Summit too; to be sure they're all gone before too much time passes."

"I'm pretty sure we did a lot of damage when we escaped," Michael said, making Maria wonder what she had missed before he continued, "but just in case we weren't thorough enough you should check out the Husk room, maybe yours made it, however unbelievable it sounds or…maybe enough survived so that we could fiddle a little with it to help you out."

Courtney looked at Michael like he'd just given her a million bucks. Or like he agreed to sleep with her, Maria thought sourly, but beat it down quickly when she felt Michael's subtle amusement at her emotions.

Their conversation was interrupted by none other than Kyle and Maria switched her attention to him, preferring to look at the formerly deceased and deranged teenager than at her boyfriend's alien stalker.

"I agree with Michael, but you can't burn the bodies though. I've learned a little from growing up in a sheriff's home," he said when Courtney looked at him with a raised brow and a confused expression. "No matter what there's bound to be some kind of evidence and if anyone heard or in worst case scenario even saw a smidge of our earlier battle, then it's gonna be easy to find some kind of DNA evidence or something like that, even if you burn Caden and the others."

"I'll handle it," Isabel said, eying Kyle with such a relieved look in her eyes that Maria briefly wondered if the former Ice Princess had a crush on the sheriff's son until she noticed the way her hands were intertwined with Alex's.

"Handle it how?" Maria blurted out and then immediately wished she'd just kept completely out of the conversation when all eyes turned to her. "I mean, if you don't mind me asking," she murmured embarrassed, - and promptly burrowed her head back into the crook of Michael's neck, feeling unusually insecure for some reason.

"I don't mind at all," Isabel smiled and Maria dared to look over at the girl she'd used to downright fear not too long ago, "I'll use my powers to make them and everything else into sand particles – they'll blow away in the wind like the Skins did when they disintegrated."

"Oh…" was all Maria could formulate verbally even as her mind jumped from question to question that she already knew she'd never ask anybody but Michael. Or Liz since she's always got a way of knowing everything, Maria corrected with an inward smile.

Courtney was the first to leave; she shocked pretty much everyone by actually bowing respectfully to Max before she left for Copper Summit. Not too long after that, Alex and Isabel left too, saying something about waiting in the Jetta so they could all go home to Tess' place and clean up before going home to their own houses.

Tess was practically glued to Kyle's side and Maria heard him say that he was still too juiced up from the revival to actually sit still and plan. Evidently, it'd been the burst of raw energy from all of them that had made him more or less explode as soon as he'd been awoken, too overtaken with instincts to calm down enough to listen to his more rational mind until Tess' actions had grounded him.

Good to know he's not gone cuckoo, Maria thought with a small smile as her eyes followed them out the door. A foreign, yet gentle touch on her injured leg brought Maria right back to the real world and she gave a mighty jerk that sent waves of burning throbbing down her leg. She may even have whimpered a little, but she would never admit it to anybody if asked.

When the red hot pain slowly subsided, Maria opened her eyes and saw Max crouching in front of her. Michael gently pushed her up into a sitting position, clearly in agreement with his friend that Maria's healing had waited long enough.

"You're too tired," Maria argued when Max reached out and placed his hand on her knee, "Michael already took care of most of the breaks, I'm totally fine for now."

"Maria," Michael's tone was full of warning, but it was the look of sheepish remorse on Max's face that finally convinced her that no matter how dangerous he could be, Max truly was a gentle soul underneath it all. Besides, she thought with a quick sigh, if Liz trusts him even after all of this, I'm damn sure gonna follow her lead.

"Thank you, Max." The words slipped out without any hint of bitterness, fear or apprehension and Maria felt a hint of warm gratitude from Michael that told her that she'd done the right thing.

A few minutes later, Maria was convinced again when she actually supported her huge lump of a boyfriend outside to the Jetta where Isabel sat on the backseat with Alex holding her. Courtney had taken her own car and was already gone.

A quick scan of her surroundings told Maria that her fellow blonde had already taken care of the bodies and the rest of the evidence from the battle. One car had survived Isabel's sweep and Kyle and Tess' forms next to it told her that they'd use it to drive home in privacy and she smiled, happy that something finally seemed to go smoothly for them.

"Well, let's go and get cleaned up," she said and got into the driver's seat with a spring in her step that belittled the exhaustion she felt. "Let's get this crappy day over with. Who's with me?"

The answering smiles were proof enough and without another word, Maria turned on the engine and began the drive back to Tess' place.

Liz's POV

Once everyone was gone, Liz saw what she'd been waiting for ever since seeing all of the power that Max had used since he'd joined the battle, only moments before she did.

He paled, utterly spent after using every last bit of energy on Maria's admittedly much needed healing. One breath went by and then he sank down the wall next to her with a tiny groan of pain that Liz knew she wasn't supposed to have heard.

"Come here," she whispered softly, gently leading him into lying down with his head in her lap and awkwardly stroking his sweat soaked hair with the arm that still bore – by now – a very dirty cast. Her own body still throbbed from the treatment she'd gotten from Nicholas' goon, but the memory of that was still hazy, fighting a losing battle over all the other memories she'd somehow gotten shoved into her skull.

"Are you okay?" Max asked, his eyes slowly closing even as he spoke. Liz could feel his concern through their connection, weak though it was, but she didn't worry about the state of their bond at that moment. No, she just wanted to calm her husband down, give him peace.

"I've never been better," she bent forward and placed a small kiss on his sweaty forehead. "I'm here with you."

A hint of surprise bubbled through the bond and Liz smiled with all the love she had in her when Max's eyes reopened with what had to be enormous effort. "What do you mean?" His tone was uneven, but it didn't hide his befuddlement and Liz knew she would get no better time than this to tell him, it was a rarity to be as alone as they were right now.

"Max…" she began and Max frowned only to freeze entirely when she continued, speaking clearly and never looking away from his comically widened eyes, "You know, I would've done the exact same thing you guys did. I want you to know; now more than ever that I love you and I always will. That's why I'm so happy that you took my words to heart and used that brilliant mind of yours to figure out Serena's cryptic words about time travel. Like I said; I would've done the exact same thing."

TBC…
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A/N One odd extra little thing that my beta made me aware off: Unlike canon, this story's Skins have the ability to bleed, something which I forgot they actually don't while writing and am now too tired to correct since the dispatching of said aliens are a big part of this chapter. Now, I'm most eager to hear what you thought :D

Until Next Time
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maipigen
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Re: The Antarian Timetravellers TEEN/MATURE CC CH. 32 04/26/

Postby maipigen » Thu Jun 13, 2013 11:02 am

A/N This chapter – and the next one, I’ll imagine – is focused on the gangs handling of the whole battle thingie, so don’t expect major bloodshed and action now; for once I’m gonna concentrate on the couples…so I hope you’ll enjoy it.

As always, eternal gratitude to my lovely – and reliable – beta, Marzmez – even when her own life gets rough she’s still there for me and that means the world to me.

CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE

Alex’s POV

It was a cool, wet sensation that slowly brought Alex back to the world of the living. A moment of silent pondering told him that someone was running a wet towel across his face and down his bare torso.

Usually, Alex’s natural shyness and awkwardness in his own lanky teenage body would have caused him to sit up and grab the nearest cover as he emitted an unmanly shriek. But Alex was exhausted, beyond so in fact.

I feel like I’ve competed in twenty consecutive marathons and then done eight-thousand pushups. Alex decided wearily as he struggled to compile enough energy to even open his eyes.

After taking one more long breath, Alex’s mind caught up with him and he tensed immediately. The memory of what had happened before he’d lost control again flew through his thoughts, along with everything else that had taken place in the cave and for the first time the young teenager could finally begin to comprehend what he’d actually done.

Oh God, he winced, I nearly killed Maria. Isabel too…What am I doing just lying here? Wait, his rational side kicked in and Alex felt himself calm a little, if you’re in someone’s bed and they’re cleaning you, things must have gone in our favor so you can relax a little.

“Alex?” Isabel’s worried voice reached him, and he nearly frowned when he realized that he wasn’t feeling anything from the bond, or his new power. That gave Alex the last bit of strength he needed to haul his eyes open.

The sight of a disheveled and dirty-faced Isabel met him, but to Alex she was still the most beautiful girl in the world, as she’d been ever since he’d seen her step off the bus for the first time way back in elementary school.

“What happened?” his voice was hoarse, but considering the amount he’d screamed during the last day or so (he still wasn’t sure exactly how long he’d been unconscious), Alex wasn’t surprised. The last thing he could remember was Isabel guiding him into Maria’s mom’s car to return to Tess’ place, but then everything went black.

Isabel turned half-way around to place the dirtied towel on the windowsill before facing him again. Alex could see dried tear streaks in the dirt on her face, and wanted to grab the towel and return the favor, but he still felt as weak as a newborn kitten, so he promised himself to pay her back later.

“I guess you could say that we won the battle. I’m just not too sure of the war yet,” Isabel murmured her eyes trailing up his face to meet his eyes. She continued softly with a small, but sincere smile, “Kyle didn’t die after all, you’re still here so is everyone else, but I can’t help feeling like it’s just the calm before the storm. It’s all so unreal to me right now.”

The mention of Kyle got Alex to remember the last of the fuzzy details and he couldn’t contain a smile of his own as he struggled to sit up and answer Isabel. She saw his attempt and quickly sat down next to him to help, and when she tried moving away again, Alex simply held her tight in his shaking arms. “Don’t go,” he pleaded.

Isabel cringed, making Alex worry until she explained, “I don’t want to harm you – I know your gift works better with actual touch, and after what you’ve suffered ever since getting that damn ability, I want to spare you as much as possible.”

In that, at least, Alex could ease Isabel’s worries. “Don’t be scared. I don’t know if it’s because I’m so tired, or that I’m out of juice for now, but I don’t feel anything other than pure joy that you’re okay, and still willing to actually spend time with me after nearly killing you.”

The look Isabel sent him would have sent a more capable man running scared, but Alex’s exhaustion and inability to move proved to be a good thing when, after a long, tense minute, she sighed and put her head in the crook of his shoulder. “Don’t be stupid. I’ll always want to be near you.”

“Good,” Alex whispered and rested his head on top of her’s. Underneath all the grime, sweat and blood, he could still smell that special scent that was purely her and it relaxed him more than anything else ever could.

“Let’s rest for a bit and then go out to the others and talk about everything there. For now, just try and sleep a little, you don’t have to keep watch over me anymore, Isabel. Let me return the favor.”

The only response Alex got was Isabel’s soft, but deep breathing, telling him that she was already sleeping. She is probably just as wiped out as I am, Alex realized, gently letting one shaky hand caress Isabel’s cheek and carefully planting a small kiss on her head.

The silence echoed all around him, and he added while closing his heavy eyes once again, I guess we all are so I’d better use this opportunity to actually rest a little more…

0o0o0

When Alex woke again, it was dark out and Isabel with him anymore, which immediately raised his adrenaline level a bit. She wouldn’t have left without telling you if it was important, Alex’s rational side cut through his worry and Alex breathing slowed.

As soon as he could focus outside of his concern for possible emergencies, Alex realized that the air was thick with delicious smells that made his mouth water. A moment later, his stomach growled loudly as if trying to devour itself, and he was thankful that no one but him heard the inelegant sound.

Sitting up fully, Alex discovered that he’d regained some of his strength and, feeling confident in his ability to walk unassisted, he began making his way down to the kitchen.

He made it half-way down the stairs before an unexpected dizzy spell caught him unawares and he quickly sat down on the step to avoid tumbling down and breaking his neck.

Alex had only sat there for about a minute when he heard steps behind him and turned his head to lock eyes with Kyle. The image of his dead body flashed through Alex’s mind, and he had to look away. It’s weird, he thought, Kyle and I were never the best or closest of friends, but his death cut me deep, just like everyone else.

“Hey, Man.” Kyle sat down next to him, nudging him gently with his shoulder. “Feeling okay?”

“Shouldn’t I be the one asking you that?” Alex’s tone was a little guilty, he still found it somewhat incredible that somehow Kyle was once again living and breathing right next to him. It was a little too odd for his logical mind to grasp; especially in the state it was currently in.

Kyle’s grin reminded him that he was actually in a conversation and not talking with an illusion. “Well, I gotta say that being brought back to life like that was invigorating. I don’t know how, but I was charged one hundred percent when I woke up…Well, you all saw how I acted.” This time it was Kyle, who looked a little sheepish.

“Yeah…” The two guys sat together for a long moment of peaceful silence, before Alex suddenly remembered something. “So you’re in love with Tess?”

The small flinch didn’t go unnoticed, but Kyle tried to act like it hadn’t happened. Instead, he shrugged and looked down at his sock-covered feet and reached out to remove some lint that wasn’t really there to prolong his lack of response.

Taking pity, Alex continued, “Look, it’s not a blame thing, I promise. I just remember that the emotions running through you two were pretty intense, even with everyone else’s running amok as they were. I was just surprised, I guess. I mean, didn’t you and Michael and Max say it was her that killed me originally?”

“Err…” Alex soldiered on when the stupefied expression on Kyle’s face made it clear the other human didn’t have a clue how to reply.

“I can’t deny the way you feel, or how she feels either. I just,” Alex paused and then grinned tiredly. “Well, I think it’s neat that the time travel thing worked out for you in the end, ‘cause she truly cares about you. I could definitely feel that.”

The relief on Kyle’s face was profound, and Alex shook his head. He didn’t exactly love his powers, but if they could give someone peace of mind, even a little, they were worth it in the end.

“Anyway,” Kyle finally met his gaze again, and Alex wanted to smile when he saw a hint of a lingering blush on his cheeks, but decided it would probably only be funny to him if he did so, “the reason I stopped, was just to see if you’re okay. As a fellow human, I know getting weird-ass powers are…Well, weird.”

This time it was Alex to look away for a bit, his eyes trailing down the steps as he tried to figure out if he was happy or sad that his disturbing, and sometimes rather painful, abilities seemed to be missing. I do miss the connection with Isabel, he suddenly realized. I’ve grown so used to always having a part of her with me. I completely forgot to ask her if she could even feel me as I am now.

After another long pause, Alex finally spoke. “They don’t work right now, so I guess, I should be happy.”

“What do you mean ‘they don’t work’?” Kyle looked concerned, and Alex knew that if he’d been in tune with his body, he would have felt the worry worm its way into his skin, affecting his every sense. That part he didn’t miss.

“Ever since I woke up nothing seems to be working right, not even the bond with Isabel, for some reason. Now that I think about it, that’s the part that freaks me out the most.”

At his words, Kyle seemed to collapse, and it took a second before Alex understood that it was because he’d relaxed at his words. Kyle opened his mouth and explained that it was perfectly normal to be burned out after overusing their powers. It happened to all the humans that overused them, but after a lot of rest they’d come crawling back to him.

“What about the bond thing with Isabel?” He wasn’t concerned about his powers anymore, suddenly, it was just very important to reestablish the connection with the girl he loved.

Kyle smiled comfortingly and got to his feet. “That’s gonna come back too. You’re just exhausted right now, it’s your body’s way of telling you that things are at a low point, but don’t worry, it doesn’t last long.”

Alex sighed heavily, exhaling all his untold worries and started struggling to get back to his feet. His dizziness returned as soon as he stood up and he toppled forward. Luckily, Kyle grabbed him just in time and threw his arm over his shoulder.

“I know it’s not considered cool to do this when you’re practically half-naked,” Alex flushed, only now remembering that he still hadn’t put on a shirt from Isabel cleaning him, and Kyle laughed and added, “but don’t sweat it, I got you.”

“Thanks, Kyle.” Alex gingerly placed one foot on the lower step, grateful for Kyle’s assistance. “I can’t seem to regain my strength right now. Ever since we were in that cave, it’s like I’ve just had all my energy sucked out of me or something.”

“Well,” Kyle’s expression had a peculiar look to it, and Alex suddenly had a burning need for his powers to figure out what was going on in the other human’s head, “trust me on this, Alex, even though it sounds strange, but this isn’t the worst time we’ve had in a cave together. Last time there were killer crystals…and we were kinda underground, but well…”

“Huh?”

Kyle didn’t continue, and Alex decided not to push, realizing a little late that he was talking about something that had happened with that other Alex that had died. Feeling uncomfortable remembering once again that he’d actually been dead before, and by a friend’s hand, Alex shook off those memories and concentrated on getting to Isabel and the sinfully delicious smelling kitchen.

A few minutes later, his tired eyes locked on Isabel, who was standing by the stove, cooking up a storm. There were several plates with numerous food items sitting on the breakfast table and he grinned with delight –especially since she’d cleaned herself up and looked a lot better than their earlier encounter in the bedroom.

His laughter distracted Isabel from pouring pancake batter, but judging from the beaming, albeit slightly wobbly, smile she sent him, she didn’t seem to mind. Kyle cleared his throat and helped Alex sit down on one of the available chairs.

“I’m just…” Kyle trailed off, looking at a point over Isabel’s shoulder, and Isabel’s smile dimmed. “Yeah, I’m gonna go see if some of the others are up for some grub.” With that, he vanished and Alex looked at Isabel with every intention of figuring out what that was all about, when, in that moment, their connection reopened and he could feel her again.

Fortunately, for Alex’s brittle state of mind, it was only their bond that had awakened and not his powers. The massive flood of emotions that were running through Isabel as she watched the now empty doorway where Kyle had stood, would more than likely have knocked him out again.

“Your pancake is burning,” Alex pointed out when Isabel didn’t seem to come back to herself.

The girl flinched guiltily and immediately put her hand over the pan and evaporated the burning pancake with her powers. She stood with her back to him for a moment, and the continuous stream of happiness, sadness, guilt, worry and confusion was starting to make Alex dizzy again.

Finally, though, Isabel snapped out of it and looked back at him in silence. Alex blinked and ran a hand through his grimy hair. “So,” he whispered, reaching out to pour himself a cup of coffee, “I guess there’s a story between you two that would explain why you always feel so conflicted around him?”

Isabel swallowed, seeming unable to reply and Alex continued softly, “To be honest, Isabel, I don’t care what that story is. I just want you to be happy, so please stop worrying. It’s okay that you’re thrilled he’s alive and with Tess, even while you’re angry that he’s with her too. The rest of it doesn’t matter anymore. We’re living a new life now, remember?”

Slowly, Isabel loosened up and after a short hesitation, she made her way over to him and to Alex’s surprise, she dropped to her knees and planted her head in his lap. “I’m just so tired, Alex, but please,” she turned a little to look up at him, “please don’t doubt my love for you... ever.”

Alex smiled and caressed her soft hair with elation, “You forget that I can feel you, so I won’t ever have that problem.” He bent over and raised her head enough for him to gently place a kiss on her lips. The sensation was invigorating and it ignited the spark inside of him that was his powers, and the next thing Alex knew he was once again able to feel everything.

“Uh, I’m sorry.” Isabel all but tore herself away from him, when she too, felt his powers return, but Alex barely noticed. He was too busy fighting for control of his power, and then somehow, Alex suddenly had it and he was able to shut it off for the first time.

“It can be controlled,” he muttered, opening his eyes to look into Isabel’s eyes with pure joy. “Don’t tell me why I couldn’t before, but right now; I just know how to use this instead of it using me. So,” Alex grinned widely and opened his arms, “you better come back here right now.”

Laughing, Isabel did just that and they sat together, just enjoying each other. This is why I don’t mind any of that other stuff, Alex thought, about her caring too much for Kyle or even the dangers and pain that follows them around. As long as we’re together nothing else matters and I’m beginning to understand why they fought so hard to return to us…

His stomach complained loudly and interrupted their tender moment. Alex shrugged sheepishly, and rubbed his belly pathetically. A few seconds later, Isabel had poured him some coffee and some juice and reheated the food all around him.

“Let’s eat,” she smiled, handing him a plate of bacon. “God only knows how much there will be left once the rest of them joins us.”

Alex smiled and nodded in agreement before losing himself in the wonderful food, briefly wondering how his two best friends were doing.

Michael’s POV

The sound of her tears woke him up, the feeling of her sadness that rushed at his dulled senses with the subtlety of a brick smashing through a glass window. With a small groan, Michael dragged himself back to consciousness, pushing his many aches to the back of his mind.

Before he was entirely awake, Michael had his arms around the shivering girl he loved so much. “Shh, Baby,” he whispered, “what brought this on?”

He could feel her gulp big breaths as she tried to stop sobbing. It took her several tries, but then Maria finally subsided in her violent crying and graduated to hiccupping shallowly.

“I don’t know,” she got out, her voice muffled from keeping her head at his chest. “I was dreaming, and then things just hit me, you know? These crazy things aren’t supposed to happen to kids. We’re still kids, you know?”

Michael barely suppressed a flinch, “I know,” he agreed quietly instead. Maria burrowed closer to him and continued spilling her every thought.

“I thought I was okay with everything. We survived, or got brought back to life in Kyle’s case, that’s a weird thing I’ve not even begun thinking through, but that’s fine ‘cause I’m still trying to not think about my best friend lying dead on the ground with her freaking throat cut open for all to see!”

The image of Liz’s injured state flew into Michael’s mind, and this time he couldn’t quite fight off the uncomfortable shudder that ran through him. She looked both so panicked and so serene at the same time, he remembered, all her interest was in Max’s battle with Caden as if her dying wasn’t even important. She looked…Michael hesitated and then thought with a growing sense of foreboding that he didn’t quite understand, she looked like the old Liz

“Michael?” Maria’s worried voice interrupted his thoughts, and Michael forced a small smile on his face to show he was still listening.

“I thought I was fine,” the human girl continued softly, and Michael’s heart went out to her. “But… I don’t…This is so not what a normal teenager goes through, and you know what?” She moved her head to look into his eyes fully, “for some crazy reason, despite all the fear and horror and genuine grossness of everything, I still have this notion that I’d rather do it all over again than live a perfectly safe life without you. I want to be with you no matter what and it boggles me, I don’t get it!”

Michael closed his eyes, feeling a pang in his chest at her words. The ‘no matter what’ part reminded him of the day they’d decided to leave Roswell, how her intense eyes had grounded him, promising that she would follow him no matter what, despite the rocky year they’d had relationship-wise.

I’ve longed for her to care for me that way again, Michael thought, grasping Maria’s smaller body and pulling her close once more, but it’s bittersweet to finally hear her acknowledge it. Knowing her she’ll begin to pull back and avoid me like Liz did to Max when after hearing his mother speak of his destiny

“Do you think things will settle down now?”

Michael sighed at Maria’s question, too weary to hide it. “I don’t know,” he answered seriously, “but I’ll do my best to keep you out of harm’s way if worst comes to worse.”

There was a short, heavy pause and suddenly, Maria moved. In one quick movement, she’d sat up, grabbed a pillow and threw it in his face. Michael was so dumbfounded that he just kept lying there, staring up at her with his jaw hanging open in disbelief.

“I’m not worried about me, Dumbass!” Maria practically shrieked, lunging for the pillow again. “Like it or not, I’m just a measly human and easily overlooked. You on the other hand…Don’t you dare get killed!”

“Uhm…” Well, what could he really say to that? It seemed like Maria approved of his non-response and slowly made herself comfortable at his side again.

“Now,” she muttered, stroking his chest once, “I’m gonna sleep some more and if I have anymore nightmares that make me cry like a little girl then either find me some of my oils or hug me tighter. You got that?”

“Yeah.” Michael grinned widely, settling down to rest a little more himself as well. “Oils and hugs, I got it.”

0o0o0

When he woke up again, Michael felt more at ease than he really could remember. The bond with Maria practically hummed from their earlier talk and with a soft kiss to her sleep ruffled hair, Michael eased his way out of the bed.

He went in search of the nearest bathroom only to stop when he found Liz, of all people, standing in front of the closed door to said bathroom.

Unbidden, the image of her bleeding throat came to him, and Michael had to fight off a sudden burst of nausea and panic. She’s here, he calmed himself, and she didn’t die.

“Liz?” He walked a little closer, and the brunette turned around with the same grace he’d always associated with the Liz from his original timeline. Again, there was a small pang in his chest for memories lost before he managed to focus on the positive things. They were all still alive, for one.

“Oh hey, Michael.” Liz greeted, turning back to the door which she stared at with a concentrated expression on her face, almost as if she was-

Michael frowned, “Are you actually thinking to Max in there? ‘Cause even though I know you guys always had that ‘soul-mate’ thing going on, that’s just a little too much closeness, you know?”

Liz froze for a long moment, and Michael had just enough time to worry that he’d offended the girl; he’d used to joke rather candidly within their original lifetime, before she broke out into a big grin and shook her head at him.

“Don’t make me laugh right now, Mike, I’m busy trying to get Max back to the realm of the living.”

“What do you mean?” Instantly, Michael was on edge again, his feet already carrying him toward the door to lend aid. “He’s hurt?”

Thankfully, Liz shook her head and immediately eased his worries.

“No,” she said with a heavy sigh, “I think with everything happening over the last few days, his mind just needed a break. He went in to take a shower two hours ago and he’s still there. He…” for the first time there was a hint of something other than vague, tired annoyance on Liz’s face and Michael once again had the eerie sense of recognition that he’d had earlier. “He’s shut down, that’s the best way I can explain it.”

The two of them stood silently in front of the unmoving door that seemed like a huge obstacle in their way to Max, both too polite to actually wrench the truly fragile wood off its hinges to get to the man they both considered the strongest one of them all. Finally, Liz turned back to Michael with a curious expression of…Well, if Michael had to name it, he’d say it was mirth.

“You better go in there,” she said, nodding with her chin at the door. “I think I’ll go back to our room and try to fix this mess, since Max is still a little too out of it to help me.”

Michael followed Liz’s eyes, and for the first time, he noticed the once so pristine plaster on her broken arm. It was now dirty beyond belief, covered in the reddish sand from the desert and chunks of dried blood that the Antarian rightfully guessed mostly belonged to her.

Now that he noticed it, Michael realized that she was still mostly covered in dirt, sweat and blood. That told him that unlike most of them, Liz had returned to the Harding house and hadn’t cleaned herself up yet. It was kinda gross, to be honest.

“Oh, do you want my help?” He asked, already reaching forward a little in case she said yes.

Surprisingly, Liz quickly stepped backwards with an unexplainable smile on her lips. “No thanks,” she said, all but covering up her injured arm. “I’m not that injured, my friend. I’ll wait for Max – tell him I’m in the downstairs bathroom instead of our room, cleaning myself as much as I can in a sink, okay?”

“Uh, sure,” Michael muttered, his eyes following the brunette as she made her way to her self-proclaimed goal and disappeared from his sight altogether. That was weird; he thought with a growing frown, she seemed a little different than usual. I would’ve expected her to rage and scream for answers considering her past behavior, but she seemed almost too calm compared to what’s happened to her lately. Maybe that’s why Max is freaked out?

The thought of his friend, and leader, got Michael to focus and he turned back to the bathroom-door with a small sigh. “Like it or not, Maxwell, here I come.” He warned and placed his hand over the doorknob, using his powers to unlock the door and enter.

The moment the large hybrid had closed the door behind him and found Max. Michael’s insides momentarily twisted together in a mix between horror and dawning realization of just how bad Max’s state of mind really was.

Max was sitting naked as the day they’d clawed their way out of the pods, in the bottom of the tub with water pouring down on his back and bowed head. The red welts on his skin, and a quick look at the shower faucet, told Michael that Max had turned up the water to the highest temperature available.

But, Michael thought, eying the lack of steam with a knowing look, since he’s been sitting there for about two hours, according to Liz, he’s sitting in freezing water now.

Another close look revealed that Max’s lips were blue, and his body was trembling under the ongoing water, but his eyes seemed completely blank.

It reminded Michael of another time when Max’s mental state had been completely broken by stress and loss and just all around badness. Max had kept everything inside to stop people from spending valuable time worrying about him, even Liz had been fooled until the day Max’s defenses had failed, where his temper had gotten the best of him. He had almost killed Sydney, his powers lashing out at her and suffocating the girl. In the end it had been Liz who had stopped the attack by managing to force herself to her feet and drag herself over in front of him, because even half out of his mind, Max would never hurt Liz.

And then he completely shut down, Michael remembered, seeing the memory play out in his head. Max had barricaded himself in the shabby conjoined bathroom of the two rundown motel rooms they’d all been hiding in, not responding to anyone or anything. Even back then, Liz had known to send in Michael since she knew her husband’s guilt would only increase by seeing her, knowing how close he’d come to hurting her – even if the rest of them knew she was never really in danger.

It had taken a lot of gentle talking – something Michael at the time hadn’t had the most experience in, a lot of patience and in the end a good smack on the head to get the brunette to even begin responding to him. They’d never spoken of that day since.

Somehow I don’t think a simple smack is gonna be enough to solve this, Michael thought as he cautiously inched closer to the still immobile Max. He looks numb right now, but if I move too fast he may lash out and accidentally hurt me and that’ll only make things worse

The General in Michael was busy coming up with counter-plan upon counter-plan when, to his huge shock, Max turned his head in the direction he was standing in.

Michael held his breath, but when, after nearly a minute, nothing happened, he exhaled heavily and chanced a little talking after all.

“I ain’t exactly enjoying seeing you full Monty there, Maxwell.”

Max didn’t respond, but Michael hadn’t expected him to, he was just happy not to be lifted up and thrown through the door. Another couple of small steps led Michael to the toilet, and he slowly sat down, eyeing the intensely staring brunette all the while.

Finally, after another few minutes with no words, Michael’s patience couldn’t take it anymore. “Wanna fill me in here? I’m a little confused to be honest, last I saw you, you were keeping things together.”

For one entirely too brief moment, it seemed like Max was actually going to twitch his lips up into a half-smile, but then a rush of some other, darker emotion ran over his weary friend’s face. Another minute went by before Max eventually, to Michael’s relief, opened his mouth and then his words completely tilted Michael’s world upside down yet again.

“Liz remembers.” After taking in a deep breath, Max exhaled the next part heavily, “she remembers everything.”

“What the hell?” Michael had jumped to his feet before his brain had made a conscious decision to do so. “…I mean…What the hell? That’s great, isn’t it? I mean I’d think it was great; you don’t look like you think it’s great. Don’t you think it’s great? Why don’t you think it’s great?”

Oh jeez, Michael had to repress an urge to rip out his own tongue; I was channeling my Maria for a second there. He took a deep breath, trying to keep all his questions from running out his way too active mouth.

A moment later, Michael was distracted from his internal self-flagellating by Max doing the absolute last thing he’d expected, judging from how he’d been acting: the guy laughed, a big, throaty and hoarse laugh that sounded like it wasn’t used all that much. Which, Michael shrugged mentally; it kinda isn’t, now that I think about it.

Max brought an end to his thoughts when he suddenly got up on his feet, naked as the day they’d been found in the desert. Michael rolled his eyes, ripped off the shower curtain that was around the bathtub and unceremoniously threw it at the other male after he'd shut off the water.

“Don’t shock my delicate senses, Maxwell – I don’t think I could handle any more right now.”

Max nodded silently, wrapping the curtain around him and, with a few gestures, transformed it into some nondescript clothing before stepping out of the tub. With every movement, it seemed to Michael as if Max’s usual strength was coming back tenfold.

“Look,” Michael held up a hand, tilting his head a little in confusion, “not that I’m not thrilled to see you back to your senses again, but weren’t you like half-way insane just a minute ago?”

With a small smile Max replied, “I guess the only way to explain it is that my mind and my body needed a break. After Liz told me that her memories were back, I kinda spaced out; too many things had happened in too short a time and I came in here to take a shower and next thing I remember is you barging in here and pulling me together like…like last time. I’m glad you didn’t have to hit me, though, my head’s killing me to be perfectly honest.”

“What happens next, Max?” Michael stepped to the side to let Max pass so he could reach the door.

Max looked over his shoulder as he reached for the doorknob. “I’m going to have a talk with my wife.” And with that, he disappeared, leaving the door wide open, not noticing that Michael was overwhelmed by a sudden rush of pure envy to such a degree that his knees buckled and he slid down to the tiled floor.

Why are you acting like such a girl? Michael tried to rally himself back to his own senses; you’ve got nothing to be jealous off. Remember how Maria was at the end? Do you really want her going back to that? She’s young and still pretty innocent in this time; her memories would more than likely destroy her…

The thoughts brought forth an onslaught of memories of a much more jaded, battle-weary and all-round haunted Maria that truly hated the way her powers struck fear in everyone just by looking at them.

Seeing everyone’s worst fears created a black hole in her, Michael thought, running a shaky hand through his hair, a black hole that eventually consumed her until she decided to die alongside Liz, leaving me, the person she claimed to love the most, behind.

That last thought somehow managed to bring Michael’s tumult emotions into a semblance of peace, and, with a long, heavy sigh he slowly got back to his feet again. He caught a glimpse of his reflection in the bathroom-mirror, and he cringed.

Jesus, I look like the walking dead, he thought and he quickly opened the faucet and splashed a generous amount of ice-cold water on his face, rubbing it to bring back an inkling of color to his pasty skin.

After another few minutes, which he spent getting himself under control, Michael set out to get some food. As soon as he walked toward the stairs, a mouthwatering scent reached his nostrils and Michael quickened his steps, pushing all else aside with a stubbornness that had gotten him through war alive.

As soon as he reached the bottom of the stairs, Michael heard the most beautiful sound in the world, to him: Maria’s laughter. He stopped in the doorway to the kitchen and just looked as she grinningly handed a napkin to a blushing Alex, whose chin was bearing evidence of a spill of some kind that Michael wasn’t too interested in, his eyes riveted on the sight of his beautiful wife.

In that moment, Michael had no doubt whatsoever that somehow, sometime in the future, Maria would once again consent to be his bride, and that knowledge finally cemented his decision to stop his petty jealousy of Max and Liz’s relationship.

If I had to choose, Michael decided and made himself known by falling into the empty seat next to Maria and ordering to be fed with a smile up at an equally grinning Isabel, I’ll take Maria’s happiness over my own any day of the week. Besides, he added mentally, when Maria turned to look at him with a look that bore that special kind of adoration and annoyance that was just for him, I’m not exactly miserable with this Maria, now am I?

Liz’s POV

Leaving her husband behind for Michael to take care of, took more willpower than Liz had anticipated. As soon as Michael closed the door behind him, Liz instinctively snuck back to listen at the door, before her more rational – and older – self got her to change direction midway and walk back to the bedroom she’d spent only a short time in before Max had decided to “take a shower”, forgetting that she was supposed to go downstairs.

The bright sun was mocking her and Liz quickly pulled the curtains to block it out, childishly sticking out her tongue before rolling her eyes at herself.

What am I doing? She plopped down on the untouched bed with a loud sigh. I screwed things up with Max; he’s too weary to truly understand what’s happened. I should at least have waited a few days before springing this on him.

Liz closed her eyes and the image of Max’s frozen expression back at the podchamber immediately came back to haunt her. The worst part of it all, Liz remembered, absentmindedly scratching a speck of dirt, or maybe dried blood off of her collarbone, is the state of our bond. I can’t believe I – the younger part of me – let it get so strained. I am her so I know what she thought about it, and to a point I sort of understand it, but still…the connection between us has always been instant, so I don’t understand myself

Another, recent memory floated into Liz’s thoughts to remind her just how idiotic and selfish she had behaved at times. Max sitting in the Crashdown, looking crushed when she’d asked him to close the bond.
From the way he looked, Liz recalled, biting her bottom lip worriedly, I’d say they hadn’t been back for long at that point.

Liz sat, her mind going in circles for a long while, ignoring the random bursts of emotions from Max’s side, figuring he was responding to whatever it was that Michael was saying. Finally, she sat up and abruptly cursed.

Stop it. I did what I did because I didn’t know Max’s story. It’s completely illogical to keep shaming myself into a big mess of remorse. I’m back and I will fix things and make everyone happy again.”
She firmly told herself, standing up and ripping off her dirty and ruined shirt.

She was suddenly completely disgusted by all the gore on her body, and in half a mind to call for Isabel to come help her out, but before she could make up her mind, the bedroom door opened and Max walked in.

Liz froze mid-movement, her ruined shirt dangling from suddenly boneless fingers as she watched his eyes travel up and down her body. After a little too long for it to be deemed appropriate, Max met her eyes again and simply said that they needed to talk.

“Yeah,” was all Liz managed to croak out, all her earlier wisdom and power seemingly vanishing in thin air in a few seconds. “We really do.”

TBC…

A/N I know I keep saying it, but I truly love those few of you that have stuck by me from the start and kept reading and commenting, it drives me to finish this story to keep you from waiting any longer hehe. Also, thanks to those new comers there are, you're also very much appreciated! Thank you all and let's hope this sates your appetite for a little while at least:)
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maipigen
Enthusiastic Roswellian
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Re: The Antarian Timetravellers TEEN/MATURE CC CH. 33 6/13/1

Postby maipigen » Sun Jul 21, 2013 7:08 pm

I don't own Roswell or any of its franchise. Sorry to say.

As always big thanks to marzmez for taking the time out of her busy schedule to work on this - trust me she's busy and for her to prioritize this "little" thing means the world to me. Give her some love as well!

A/N Hi my peeps...Okay that sounded cheesy. Anyway I'm back briefly to upload this, even in the midst of my vacation that's how much I love you all;) I hope you'll like it. I'm thinking maybe this is the second to last chapter, trying to end it on a pretty chapter number, I'm anal like that, I know... Thanks for all the lovely and interesting comments I've gotten for the last chapter - they helped me with a few things in this chapter. If possible, I'd love to hear what you enjoyed or not enjoyed in this chapter - sometimes your questions gives me ideas hehe:D

Tess' POV

Tess had just finished taking a much needed shower when the door opened and Kyle walked in. At first glance, the sheriff's son seemed troubled, so Tess probed their bond tentatively to see if there was something bothering him. To her dismay, she found their connection was barely there, clearly a sign that Kyle wasn't interested in sharing how he felt at that moment.

How he's gotten so good at controlling the bond so quickly, Tess thought with a small frown marring her features, I'll never know. I guess all I can do is try talking to him.

Tess threw her brush at the bed before turning her full attention to the boy she'd fallen in love with, however crazy it still sounded to her when she thought about it.

"Hey, Kyle."

Kyle jumped in surprise, and the light in the bathroom flickered a second until he regained his equilibrium.

"Hi, I'm sorry I didn't think you'd be up yet, I was just gonna check on you."

Suddenly, feeling a little bashful, Tess shrugged and looked up at him out of the corner of her eye. "I couldn't sleep…dreams, you know?"

Kyle nodded and Tess continued with a small smile, "I was just wondering where you were, actually. Have you eaten? There's plenty of food in the fridge, I went shopping before—"

Tess cut herself off, the memory of Kyle lying dead on the ground haunting her and affecting her vocal chords. If I live to be a hundred, I will never see anything so horrible again, she thought, fighting to shake off the images while staring fully at Kyle, because he was alive and not dead out there in the desert!

"Tess…" Kyle's voice rang through her; the worry in it gave her a feeling of warmth, like she had just finished a mug of hot chocolate. The pleasant, not to mention uncommon, sensation helped drive away the frightening memories.

"It's nothing, don't worry," she murmured, trying to tell herself simultaneously that she was an independent woman and really should stop acting like a love struck teenager. But I am a love struck teenager, Tess' rebellious side pointed out and she shook her head violently.

The awkward tension grew. Kyle was fidgeting with a thread of his worn shirt while Tess was looking everywhere but at him. Eventually though, Tess gathered enough courage to blurt out the question that she'd been dying to know the answer to since…well, for a while.

"Are you happy?"

Kyle frowned, taking the time to rip off the thread before looking over at her. Tess swallowed at the dark expression that flashed over his face. "I…I don't know, to be honest, Tess. I'm not trying to hurt your feelings, because I don't want you to be sad. It's just hard to explain."

"Try," Tess ordered gently, walking over to him and taking his hand before leading him over to the bed to sit. "I promise I won't start crying or anything, no matter what you say. I'm not a crybaby. Nase— I've always been encouraged to keep my emotions in check, so don't worry, I can take it."'

At her slip of the tongue, Kyle's frown transformed into a full-fledged scowl that, for one brief second, made Tess want to run and hide, despite the fact that he was the actual human in the room. If he can even be called that anymore, she thought, licking her dry lips. He's got powers that can rival any of ours in potency and after what happened in the podchamber, I'm not too sure anymore…

"Look," Kyle's voice brought Tess back into the present, and she put her thoughts aside to ponder later. "I'm not exactly good with words, but yeah, a part of me is thrilled that you're here, willing to be with me and I really don't want to fight that part. And there's the other part of me that's still beyond pissed about your lying and mindwarping me."

From the way Kyle's eyes suddenly looked, he seemed far away. Tess figured he was remembering the time she'd wiped his memories of them being aliens after the incident in the computer room with his friend, Johnny.

The awkwardness turned into guilt. Well, to be fair, Tess tried to comfort herself, it's not like I could possibly have known how great he'd take everything…no matter how much Isabel kept trying to tell me. The attempted self-soothing rang a little hollow, so Tess just ended up sighing heavily.

Her breathing seemed to bring Kyle's attention away from whatever it was he was thinking, and once again focused on her. Tess swallowed audibly.

"I told myself when I started developing these feelings for you that I'd let the past go," Kyle muttered, not looking away. Tess couldn't bring herself to move, even if she wanted to. "When I was brought back to life by you guys yesterday, I was overwhelmed by this insane need to just be with you, and now that I've calmed down, I can't really say that inclination has changed – no matter what kind of mistakes you've made before. So, to answer your question in a very convoluted way; yeah, I think I'm happy and you play a big part in that."

Okay, Tess thought, trying with all her might to keep her emotions in check as she'd promised mere minutes earlier, not the love declaration I was hoping for, but it's still more than I expected, I guess.

Apparently, something slipped through her defenses, because Kyle scooted a little closer and took a firm, yet gentle hold of her shoulders. "Look at me, Tess," he ordered softly, and she could do nothing but obey. "I can't promise you the world right now, because there's still so much you don't understand and I'm not that sure I can ever really explain things to you without causing some sort of meltdown and–"

"Don't," Tess whispered, reaching up to caress his cheek, but stopped halfway when her nerves got the better of her. "I said I could handle it. Besides," she smiled tentatively, "it's not like I haven't kept secrets from you, remember."

Not for the first time, Tess noticed something flash through Kyle's eyes while the bond echoed with some vague emotion that was too complex for her to grasp, but for once she acted like it didn't bother her and just kept staring at the human she'd fallen in love with.

Sensing his indecisiveness, Tess just gently poked his cheek with a small smile dancing on her lips. "I'm fine, Kyle," she stated, "I'm just happy that you're not d…That we didn't have to leave you in the podchamber. And let's be honest here—" Tess forced a grin,—"it's not like we've really known each other long enough to reveal everything. Just know that I'm strong and capable of handling a lot more than I get credit for, for future reference."

A long minute went by before Kyle seemed to work out what she'd said. The tension slowly seeped from his body, and Tess had to hand it to herself, she finally got rid of the awkwardness.

Only, not entirely, Tess amended a moment later, when she realized that Kyle hadn't stopped staring at her lips since she stopped speaking. Without any conscious thought, Tess' tongue darted out to lick her bottom lip.

It was as if the movement acted like a verbal permission for Kyle to take control. He sent her one quick glance before promptly leaning forward with a whispered, "Screw all this talking, I ain't Max," before his warm lips slanted over hers in an intense kiss that made her mind go blank.

All her focus was on the way his lips were a perfect fit against her own, the taste of him and the scent of his skin, coupled with the usual warmth of his body so close to hers numbed her to everything else…at first.

Suddenly, Tess' attention was overwhelmed by the massive amounts of images that she began to receive from Kyle's side of the bond.

Kyle was running into the Granolith chamber with Liz, Michael and Maria. Liz screaming at Max, who was standing beside…was that girl really her? "Max stop!" Liz's next frantic words froze Tess' insides completely and she stopped worrying about the confusing fact of her own presence, "It was Tess. Tess killed Alex. She mindwarped Alex and sent him to Las Cruces to decode the book, when he broke out of the mindwarp and she killed him."

Max's confused eyes landed on Kyle with growing anger, "Why didn't you say anything?" "Because," was Kyle's reply, "she mindwarped me!"

Tess stopped moving altogether, her mind soaking up every flash from the human in front of her, not noticing that she'd grabbed onto his face, keeping him in place by pure instinct in an attempt to gain more knowledge.

"I carried his body. She made me think it was luggage. She killed him. Tess killed Alex." "You know, of all the aliens I've met, you're the only one who has no soul." "We took you into our home, Tess. We protected you. And how did you repay us? You brainwashed me into carrying Alex's dead body!" "We don't remember a lot. In our other life Khivar was our enemy. He was trying to take over my throne. Isabel fell in love with him, and helped him overtake us. It was a blood bath; we were all killed, including Isabel. Our genetic material was mixed with human DNA, and then we were sent here.

Then a series of more horrifying moments streamed through her head, and Tess could feel her mind struggling to keep up, but still she didn't stop the connection – too intent on seeing what the hell was going on, because this had to be some kind of evil joke.

The setting changed, seemingly newer and yet a lot darker. Kyle was fighting, killing Skins and other humanoid aliens with his powers, standing back to back with Michael, carrying a bleeding teenager to safety, while calling for Max, and screaming for the girl, Sydney to hang on, embracing Liz as she cries on his shoulder, trying to get an unbelievably gaunt Maria to smile, having rough, animalistic sex with a silently crying Isabel, pretending that he doesn't see the truth; that she's still in love with a dead boy that was killed by Tess, a hated phantom continuously haunting his mind wherever he goes. "I just died for you Woman…" Kyle lying bloodied and undoubtedly dying, watching Isabel leave him behind for the last time. Waking up, young again, in a dark forest with the group of Antarians staring at him with varying degrees of shock. Realizing they were back again, seeing Tess again, ready to kill her instantly—

"ARGH!"

Tess broke through to the present, her mind hurting with everything and the horror and confusion waging war within her, it was just too much and she wanted to not see what she'd seen. A stinging pain on her face vaguely told her that she was trying to claw her own eyes out, but she didn't stop – she couldn't, just as she couldn't stop screaming out her agony.

Warm hands struggled with hers, forcing her bloody fingers, now coated with bits of flesh, away from her hurt face and eyes. In the distance, Tess heard Kyle's desperate calls of her name, begging her to just snap out of it, but she couldn't – all she could do was scream, because it was all too much…

Max's POV

Seeing the still bloodied and dirty form of Liz standing in front of him, knowing that she remembered everything up until her death in the original timeline again was awe-inspiring, mind baffling and terrifying all at the same time and all Max could do for a long moment, was just stare at her.

Despite the grime and the blood, she had never looked more beautiful to him than she did in that moment. He was so lost in just looking at her, that Liz's voice actually made him flinch when she broke the silence.

"To be honest, Max, I don't really know how to begin. I mean back at the podchamber, you just looked at me when I told you the truth and didn't really say anything. When we got back here you went to take that shower and…Well, you know better than me what happened next. I'm afraid whatever I say will set you off again. I mean, are you unhappy that I'm back? I guess, I could understand that, the Liz I used to be was a lot more innocent and—"

Max was moving before she could finish her sentence, and without any preamble whatsoever, he enveloped her in his arms and just held on to her tightly for a long while. At first he tried to force down their bond, knowing how much it tended to freak her out, until he remembered that unlike this timeline's Liz, his wife had thrived on their connection.

It took but a minute to decide whether or not to open himself up, for some reason, it felt like exposing himself to an unbelievable degree, no longer used to it. It makes sense though, Max thought to himself, grabbing onto Liz's body with all his might. First I lost you, then the war escalated, then we came back here and you weren't fully you anymore, so I lost the ease of this…but not anymore.

With his last thought, Max slowly opened up their bond, fully showing everything that was in him in the hopes of vanquishing any shred of doubt Liz might have had of his feelings.

The gasp told him it had succeeded, and if that hadn't been enough for Max, a second later, Liz's side of the bond responded in kind by opening up as well and all thoughts of calmly and maturely talking things out completely disappeared from his mind.

Then moving as if in a daze Max placed his head in the crook of Liz's neck and breathed her in deeply. The smell of the battle, the blood and grime, didn't linger. It was the scent of her that was so unique he could pick it out of a line up with a blindfold on… that he couldn't get enough of. Before he knew it, Max began kissing her soft skin, nibbling her neck like his memories reminded him that she used to love.

"M-Max…" Liz's voice washed over him, bringing with it salvation and hope for a much brighter future. She was healing him, the true healer in Max's mind had returned to save him from further hardships.

He could feel her heart beating frantically, and managed to tear his mouth away from her neck long enough to meet her widened brown eyes. A moment later, Max had reached out his hand to trail down a finger on her cheek. The colorful afterglow of his touch briefly reminded him of the very first time it had happened back when they'd been mere children the first time.

The memories of all the other times it had happened in their lives together came and went with satisfaction, but nothing thrilled him more than knowing that it would not be the last time it happened, because she was back in his arms and better yet, she wasn't afraid of him any longer.

Liz's muffled chuckle in his ear made Max step back to look her fully in the eyes again, and her small smile made him want to do things to her that his current teenage body had yet to experience. "What?" he whispered softly.

Liz shook her head and then trailed a finger of her own down his cheek until she reached his recently transformed shirt. "I can't do it to you," she muttered, a smile still etched on her face, and it was infectious as he too recalled the first time she'd said those words.

"It's so amazing to know that I won't lose those memories now," Max said – his senses coming back as the haze of lust and desire slowly trickled backwards, "it's like I've woken up from a nightmare I didn't even know I was having, you know?"

"I know exactly what you mean," Liz nodded, as she watched her hand fingering his neckline, and in that moment, Max noticed the shameful state of the cast on her arm and wanted to kick himself. In a flash, he'd gingerly grabbed the arm and led Liz toward the bed, sat her down and unceremoniously begun crumbling the rather gross-looking plaster under his fingers, personal weariness be damned.

"Max," Liz tried taking her arm back, but he wasn't about to let her suffer from an injury when he could prevent it.

"Liz," he said, pausing to look her deeply in the eyes. "I let you decide when you didn't have your memories out of respect for you and the fact that you didn't really know anything about me, but now that you do, why should you put up with this when I can stop it?"

"Because," Liz replied promptly, her face set in that stubborn mask that warned Max that he was about to tread on thin ice, "I can't go home without a cast. I haven't worn it the prescribed amount of days yet. Even my parents' pre criminal record would notice that, don't you think?"

"I'll just make a new one after I've healed you." Max stated and went back to his work. It took a moment for his powers to fix the break in her wrist, and nary a few more to transform a pillowcase into a new, much cleaner, cast.

"There." Max released Liz's arm with a satisfied sigh. Suddenly he was overcome with a massive amount of dizziness. "Whoa…" He began to tilt forward awkwardly, landing in Liz's arms with a small groan.

"Max? Are you okay?" Liz's tone wasn't frantic, but it certainly held enough worry for Max to immediately try to calm her down.

"It's nothing," he murmured, eyes closed as he tried fighting back a sudden wave of nausea. "Think I'm just finally feeling the effects of using too much power lately, this body isn't as trained as my old one was, to be honest."

"Shh," Liz soothed, gently helping him down to lie in a more comfortable position, "don't talk too much. I bet you're hungry, so I'll go grab something for you to eat."

The very idea of actually eating only made things worse, and his expression must have told Liz that because she cringed with sympathy and just stayed put.

"Join me?" Max asked, unable to not look at Liz – dizziness nowhere near as important as actually looking at the woman he loved, however sappy that sounded.

"Sure," Liz smiled and gently placed herself along his body with her head on his chest.

Max savored the closeness and his nausea slowly disappeared, but he still didn't move – too content to actually get back up and go to the kitchen for food. Instead, Max gripped Liz tighter and decided to get their "talk" over with.

"I'm very happy that you're here," he began quietly, feeling Liz stiffen next to him at his words. "I don't understand how exactly, but I'm not in the least bit sorry, no matter how I originally acted. My mind just went on a little break, I think. There's been so much I haven't been able to tell you until now. Taking care of Hubble, Nasedo, Topolsky and Tess. The whole Serena mess and—"

"Wait," Liz moved to look at him and Max frowned at the eager look in her eyes, "what Serena mess? She's okay, right?"

Swallowing a lump of dread, Max tried to find the words to describe what had happened between him and the mysterious little human girl. I had forgotten how much Liz loved Serena. She was like a mother, sister and best friend all rolled into one

"I know that face," Liz burrowed her face back into his chest with a heavy sigh. "Something not so great happened."

"Yeah…"

"Just tell me, please. I think some of 'innocent Liz's' annoyance with secrets travelled over to me when I took her place or whatever. Just give me the cliff notes version."

"Okay," Max turned on his side, so he could look at Liz more closely as he tried formulating what had really happened with Serena. "Isabel and I went to her house to heal her. I tried, but somehow her…I don't know what it was, but it was her as we knew her that connected with me mentally and she basically told me not to bother. Something about not repeating mistakes was all she said."

"Huh," Liz exclaimed softly, her eyes dry as she pondered his words.

Well, Max thought bitterly, I guess it's not that surprising, considering its Liz from our future that's in control now. She is nothing if not strong. "So," he said quietly, "I wasn't happy with her decision, but I reluctantly decided that it'd be disrespectful not to honor her wishes."

Liz didn't say anything for a little while, and just when Max was about to encourage her to speak her mind, Liz broke all of his preconceived beliefs when a lone tear slowly trickled down her face. The rush of intense mourning from her side of their connection nearly overpowered him, and a fresh wave of nausea made its way through him.

In the first disoriented second, Max had no idea what was going on, but then he remembered. Serena had still been alive when Liz had died. She didn't know that she wasn't waiting in the wings in Phoenix with her old mind and memories intact – She's grieving for her pseudo daughter

"Oh, Liz," Max whispered and went to embrace her again, when, suddenly, an eerie scream rang through the entire house.

The two brunettes jumped to their feet, and instinctively fell into a battle formation as they rushed out of the room in search of the source. A pounding on the stairs told Max that those already up and downstairs had heard it too and was coming to investigate as well.

Michael's long legs carried him upstairs first, and his hardened eyes locked on to Max's with a silent question for orders. Evidently, Michael had also fallen victim to old instincts, but Max didn't bother mentioning it. Instead, he pointed at Tess' room, "It's coming from in there," was all he got out before Kyle's desperate sounding voice jumpstarted him back into action.

The sight that met him and the others as they barreled through the open doorway momentarily froze Max, his eyes struggling to take in and understand what was going on in front of him.

Tess was on her knees, screaming bloody murder, her face a horrid mass of vivid red, still leaking blood, scratches that originated from around her eye sockets. Her fingertips and nails were painted red and spoke as to what had happened.

Kyle was crouching behind the curly-haired girl, struggling to keep her hands away from her self-mutilated face, his mouth by her ear as he tried calling her back to the real world with little effect.

No one moved for a long second, the silence only broken by Tess' increasingly hoarse screaming, and, in the end, it was Liz that broke ranks first and ran to Tess and Kyle's sides.

"W-What happened?" Isabel asked, her arm on a white-faced Alex's arm as he stood completely still with a frown on his face. Judging from his expression, Max figured that he was trying to calm Tess down, but without any luck.

Kyle cursed in pain, when Tess unexpectedly head butted him, too lost in her own world of… whatever it was. "I don't know. We were talking and kissing one minute and the next she turned into this!"

Max nearly lost his balance when Maria pushed past him and joined Liz in trying to calm Tess. Max only hoped they would manage where Kyle failed. He watched Liz and wondered whether her innate hatred for Tess had been crushed by the friendship she'd build with the blonde before regaining her old self.

For Tess' sake, Max thought, keeping his distance until he was needed, let's hope it's the latter

In the next second, though, Max didn't quite know what to think, when Liz suddenly shoved Kyle away and slapped Tess twice in quick succession with her still tear-stained face set in a fierce scowl.

Tess' POV

The throb from the slaps managed to shock Tess' mind back into a somewhat working order, and she blinked rapidly. The first thing she realized was that her entire face was hurting, and she had a fleeting memory of being responsible for it herself, so she quickly pushed that aside.

Instead, her focus turned to the one who'd had the audacity to actually strike her. Surprisingly, her eyes met Liz's and once again Tess had a weird feeling that Liz had changed in ways that she couldn't even begin to comprehend – especially since her own mind was still trying to come to terms with whatever it was that had made her snap so violently.

"Snap out of it," Liz's tone was cool, but her eyes carried a hint of softness that told Tess that change or not, her friend was still somewhere inside and ready to comfort her. "What happened?"

At the question, Tess closed her eyes and turned her head to the side, not yet capable of fully understanding what she'd seen or felt. Her avoidance didn't stop Liz from grabbing her face and turning it back.

"Trust me," Liz's tone carried weariness, bitterness and amusement all at the same time, "there's nothing you can say that'll shock me."

"Come on," Liz urged softly, her hand pushing her curls out of her face, "whatever it is, it'll feel better to talk about it."

"I…" Tess began, looking over at Kyle's still worried face, and stopped when she saw the blood from his nose. "What—"

"Never mind this," Kyle brusquely interrupted, softening his words with a small smile, "it's you I'm worried about."

"Well," Tess took a deep breath, "when I kissed Kyle something happened. Something that I wasn't prepared for, nor did any of it make sense." Another inhaling of air, and the calming waves sent to her from Kyle, coupled with Liz's almost unnatural serenity, gave Tess the strength to continue. "Now that I think about it, I remember Nasedo mentioning something like this, but only vaguely because he'd never experienced it himself…I saw…I mean, when we kissed, there were these images, but they didn't make sense at all and—!"

Tess broke off as she began to shout again, fighting for her control. Just as she thought that she'd dive back into the chaos, another rush of peace came at her. Out of the corner of her eye, Tess saw Alex stare at her with a very concentrated look on his face, and she managed to give a smile that looked more like a grimace in thanks for his assistance.

Finding her equilibrium again, Tess looked back at Liz, whose expression had turned stiff at her words. "D-Do you know what that means, Liz?" she asked and added, "have you experienced that too, with Max I mean?"

"Okay, I think maybe us Czechoslovakians need to talk for a minute," Michael's voice interjected quickly before Liz could give an answer, and Tess would probably have glared at him if her eyes hadn't hurt so much.

"Well," Maria's tone wasn't quite as cold as the arctic, but to Tess' ears, it was pretty damn close as she watched her friend turn around from her kneeling position in front of her to look up at Michael, "Czech or not, Tess is our friend, in fact, not to sound childish, but she was our friend before any of you even bothered to talk with her, so we'll go when—"

"We'll be right outside, Michael." Liz talked over Maria, and Tess saw the other blond sputter indignantly like an engine that ran out of gas. "Come on, Maria. I need a shower anyway; maybe you could help me find some clean clothes, because this blood is never coming out and I don't need the reminder of what happened…"

Tess, and the rest of them, watched how Liz masterfully manipulated Maria by subtlety reminding her of her recent injuries and near death, distracting her from any anger toward Michael in a matter of seconds.

Maria was up and holding on to Liz's uncast arm, half-way dragging her out the door in a blink of an eye. She ordered Alex to come too, because powers or not, he was still human. Tess almost didn't catch the words that Liz muttered as she passed Michael, but she had no idea why those words would cause the large male to pale instantly and look after her disappearing form with widened, disbelieving eyes before turning to Max, who merely shrugged with a secretive smirk.

Tess frowned, tiredly leaning back against Kyle, whose warmth indicated that he was right behind her. What's so special about, 'Oh, Mike – even after all these years, you just never learn, do you?' He looks like he's seen a ghost?

Isabel walked over and quietly closed the door after the human trio's exit, while Max and Michael made their way over to Tess and Kyle. Max's hands were already glowing softly as he reached out to her face, and Tess couldn't quite repress the sigh of relief that came when the deep scratches quickly closed up, and the stinging around her wounded eyes vanished as if never there in the first place.

As soon as Max finished, Tess had to reach out to keep him from toppling over.

"Max!" Michael was by his side on the floor immediately, and Tess watched with baited breath as her former husband shook his head and rubbed his eyes roughly. "I'm fine," he muttered, leaning toward the bed for support, "I've just overexerted myself, not rested enough after everything."

Tess' guilt flared up, and it was only Kyle's wave of soothing comfort through their bond that stopped her from apologizing. And there's the fact that Max will probably just look at me like I'm crazy for wanting him to wait to heal me until he's fit again – completely ignoring the fact that he can heal me just as well tomorrow after a decent nights sleep

"Tess?"

Michael's voice interrupted her thoughts, and she flinched a little, knowing what he wanted to know. How can I even begin to explain, when I don't get what happened myself?

Fortunately for Tess, it seemed like it didn't matter that she understood zilch, because judging from the way they all looked at her, they seemed to know exactly what was going on.

"This better be good," Tess stated after a long minute of tense silence. Michael looked to Max, who looked at Kyle still sitting behind her. "Please, tell me what's going on, those images I saw –hateful Kyle asking Michael why he hadn't killed her yet – they make no sense…"

"Fine," Max sighed, leaning his head backwards on the bed. "I'll tell you everything. Just promise us that you'll stay seated until I'm finished. It's a pretty long story."

"O-Okay," Tess hesitantly promised, suppressing the urge to take Kyle's arms and wrap them around her body. She tried to tell herself it would be to keep her from running away, but she really knew she just wanted the comfort of his warmth and love. "I'm listening."

Max opened his mouth and spilled everything. Tess' entire worldview crumbled in the process.

Liz's POV

Liz didn't say much while Maria helped find some clothes and guided her to the shower where Max had had his mini-meltdown. She listened to the grumblings from Maria and the comments from Alex as if she was in another world.

Which coincidentally, I kinda am, Liz thought tiredly, forcing a smile to her friends before closing and locking the bathroom-door. Quickly stripping down, Liz wrapped a plastic bag around her cast, turned on the water and stepped in as soon as the steam started forming in the air.

She robotically cleaned herself and washed her hair twice, all the while watching with a detached feeling as the dried blood on her skin fizzled down the drain leaving a gory trail of red until more water drowned it out. In that moment, Liz finally gave up her struggle, the struggle she had fought ever since Tess' scream had interrupted her from breaking down fully at the news about Serena.

Her breathing got harder, as she tried stemming the pain that seemed to build up inside her chest and paralyze her with memories of Serena. The pressure of her grief was choking her from the inside, and Liz wanted nothing more than to be able to blink away the growing burn in her eyes, to stop what she knew deep down was unstoppable.

Within seconds, tears took the place of the blood in being washed away by the pouring water, but it brought with it no relief. Liz just kept on crying, images of the pretty little brunette child that she'd, at times, considered her own, playing in a loop in her head.

"Why, Rena?" she hiccupped, venting her anger and frustration by smashing her cast clad arm into the tiled wall in front of her.

Max's concern and comforting emotions slammed into her, and Liz bit her lip when she felt like laughing hysterically. Being with Max again, seeing everyone alive and well, is what I need to focus on. Max said Rena wanted this, so I'll have to respect it no matter what

Sighing heavily, Liz stepped out of the shower and got dressed in a matter of minutes, all the while sending back enough to Max to stop him from bursting through the door in his worry. She forced back the natural disgust she got from putting on her dirty clothes again, but she didn't have anything clean to wear and she didn't want to bother any of her friends to help her. When she finished, Liz straightened her shoulders and unlocked the door. I'm here now and life will be better than before, she told herself.

And, Liz added as she exited the bathroom, at least this time around I won't have Tess to worry about. It was weird for the brunette to actually consider a person she'd spent more than a decade hating with every fiber of her being a friend, a good friend nonetheless.

Ever since she'd locked eyes with Tess on the battlefield, dying from her brutal injury, Liz had felt her hatred begin to drizzle away. She'd pushed the subject aside, choosing to focus on Max and their conversation until she'd seen a horrified Tess in Kyle's arms on the floor. After that, the young Liz's feelings for the curly-haired blonde surged to the surface and she'd immediately jumped into the fray to help Tess.

"It's still a little weird, though," Liz whispered to herself, only to flinch when Maria's voice asked her what she was talking about.

"Um, nothing, I'm just talking to myself," Liz replied, sending a small glare at Alex, who was looking at her funny. I guess his powers are picking things up, she thought and barely resisted the urge to jump him in a fierce hug. The older part of her just wanted to stare at the friend she'd lost so long ago and so unfairly too, while the rest of her just wanted to be left alone.

But I can't, Liz thought and dragged Maria away from Tess' closed bedroom door when it seemed like she wanted nothing more than to loiter around within earshot. I have to stop Maria and Alex from knowing anything about our other life so their minds don't explode like it seems like Tess' did

0o0o0

A half an hour later had Liz feeling a little more positive and overall appreciative of all the good things coming back from the dead and into the past was actually worth. She was smiling at the banter between Maria and Alex that sprouted to life moments ago, where Maria couldn't stop herself from teasing the teenage boy about not wearing a shirt in front of ladies.

Of course, Alex had replied, "which ladies," and Liz just sat back and watched the nostalgic sight unfold. She was so invested in staring at her friends, remembering the good times that she didn't notice when both of them stopped talking and turned to stare back at her.

"Are you okay, Liz?" Alex asked, his eyes narrowed with concern. Liz nodded her head yes, and tried to change the subject back to him and Maria.

"I guess I was just so distracted by your body that I couldn't help myself."

"Ha!" Maria slapped Alex's arm with a beaming grin, "I told ya, I'm not the only one who thinks you're adorable, Whitman."

"I'm not adorable," Alex pouted, his eyes dancing with amusement, "I'm manly."

"Oh yeah, you're all man." Isabel's voice distracted the group of friends and they turned as one to look up at the tall, beautiful girl, whose eyes were fixed on Alex and a smile that lit up her face.

"Aaaand that's too much information for me," Maria quipped and got to her feet, while Liz silently eyed the former princess cautiously. Judging from the way Isabel's eyes kept falling on her, plus the confused frown on Alex's face when he started looking between his girlfriend and Liz, she had definitely decoded the words that Liz had spoken to Michael earlier and figured out the truth.

"Could I get a minute with Isabel, Guys?" Liz asked, deciding to just get the reunion over and done with. "I need help with some Dreamwalking in the future," she added when Maria seemed to want to object. "I may need it for nightmares and stuff because of the battle."

Comprehension and sympathy dawned on Maria's face, just as Liz knew it would and after a quick, but a little too tight hug, the blonde walked out. Alex hesitated, looking between the two young women.

"I know you're hiding something," he blurted out and Liz had to work extra hard to keep herself from cringing- still not at all used to the unexpected powers he'd gotten. "But I trust you both, and just hope that whatever it is you'll return that trust someday."

His ability to make me feel guilty seems to be as intact as ever, Liz thought and watched silently as Alex briefly pecked Isabel on the cheek before leaving them to their privacy.

"So you're back too?" Isabel blurted out after a few seconds of awkward tension, and Liz had to smile.

"Yeah. From what you're saying I figure Kyle's back too, right?" Liz watched Isabel's eyes widen and then narrow at her words and hurried to explain. "It makes a lot of sense from what I've discovered so far compared to what me and S-Se…Compared to what we found out in the past but I'll tell you the rest at a better time."

"Okay," Isabel whispered. Her eyes suddenly glassy-looking at the near mention of Serena and then she rushed over and enveloped Liz in a hug that could rival Maria's in tightness.

Liz could feel her sister-in-law tremble around her and didn't object in the least to the hug. Instead, she too put her arms around Isabel and just enjoyed being able to touch one of her best friends for the first time in what felt like eternity, sharing her deep grief with someone that understood just how close she'd been to Serena.

Liz didn't know how long she stood with her arms around Isabel, but it was long enough for a fragile sense of calm to engulf her, at long last managing to –momentarily at least – stop all her tumultuous thoughts.

It was the sense of Max drawing closer that clued her in that it had been a while, and she began pulling away from the embrace until Isabel suddenly grabbed her again and whispered in her ear, "Losing you nearly killed him, Liz. Please help me heal the part of him that died with you, before he breaks."

Liz glanced to the side and met Max's gaze, he was looking pale and unbelievably exhausted, but all of his focus was one hundred percent on her. "I will," she whispered back and stepped out of the hug, "I'll do everything I can so we can all heal again, I promise."

"Heal? Do you need healing?" Max oozed worry as he walked the short distance from the door to the two of them, looking between them. "Why didn't you say so, Isabel?"

"Whoa, hold up," Isabel held up her hands and backed away with a small smile on her lips, "emotional healing, and not healing. Stop listening in on other people's thoughts by the way. I just needed to talk to Liz and now that that is done, I'm gonna go back down and feed the hungry masses, 'cause we all know aside from Michael, I'm the only one able to produce edible food in this house."

She's still got some of her old fire in her, Liz thought with a smile of her own. Despite everything that's happened she always tried keeping the mood up…but I'm glad that her eyes seem happier in this life, she added fondly before Max spoke and distracted her from her own thoughts.

"Want to go for a walk outside in Tess' backyard?"

Liz eyed her once and future husband with a frown. "You look ready to drop any second now, Max," she stated as she walked over to him and began leading the way to the bedroom they'd been assigned. Her small cool hand wrapped in Max's much larger and warmer one, subconsciously needing to touch him as much as possible.

"You're going to sleep and when you wake up, Izzie or Mike will make you something to eat and you'll eat it without complaint, am I clear?"

"Yes, Dear." Max saluted and let Liz sit him down on the edge of the bed and bemusedly allowed her to take his shoes off.

A moment later, he was clad only in his boxers and under the covers and Liz unceremoniously began taking off her shoes, pants and socks and trying not to cringe at the dried blood and grime on the socks in particular. After a brief internal debate, she decided to keep her relatively bra and undershirt on and crawled into the bed to join him.

Soon the two of them were snuggled up tightly and just basking in being together. Liz's mood was tainted with the knowledge of Serena's fate though and she quietly asked Max to fill her in on what her younger self hadn't been able to grasp until now, and with a small sigh, he did as she asked.

Twenty minutes later, after so many stories, Liz just laid there, staring up at the ceiling. After a while, she turned her head and looked at him. "For what it's worth, I really appreciate you trying to change our future and from what I can gather, you've taken care of the major points so that's great…"

"But?" Max leaned his head in his hand as he turned to the side and stared right back at her.

Liz barely swallowed a smile, suddenly just too excited to be where she was and without a devastating war in sight to not be a little happy. She didn't want to think about serious stuff anymore so she decided to mess with Max a little, "But," she continued, "now that I'm back, maybe you should leave the planning of things to me 'cause my plans used to work…"

Her words had the reaction she wanted. Max mock-gasped with offence and pounced, tickling her all over to get her to say uncle. "Max Evans is a master strategist," Max said, tickling her sides ruthlessly, "he's not too bad-looking either. Say it, Max is superior to Liz all the time."

"N-Ne-Never!" Liz barely managed to gasp out between giggles, enjoying the moment all the more because Max seemed to gain strength from listening to her laugh.

Then things suddenly changed. From one moment to the next, Max's lips was on hers and they were eagerly sending whatever they were feeling through their bond, more desperate than ever to reconnect completely.

"God, I love you," Max groaned and roughly pulled off her T-shirt and bra, eying her with loving eyes that made Liz weak in the knees. "Don't ever leave me again, I love you so much," he repeated and began kissing his way down her collarbone to her breasts and it didn't take long before Liz was completely lost to her emotions and desires.

0o0o0

It was a slightly ruffled Liz that eventually emerged from the bedroom, leaving a near comatose Max behind to finally get some of the rest he so severely needed.

Especially now, Liz smirked to herself and made her way downstairs to find everyone gathered in Tess' living room. They looked more or less as tired as she felt, so Liz simply waved and squeezed in next to Michael, who had a sleeping Maria leaning on his shoulder and Tess, who looked pale and worried as her eyes kept jumping from Kyle to Alex.

They all sat in silence for a few minutes, before Liz snuck a glance at Maria and decided to take a chance to just get things out in the open between the others there. "So," she quietly said, looking around at everyone, evidently distracting Isabel and Alex from a telepathic conversation if their flinching was anything to go by, "Max told me that everyone here but Maria knows the truth about the time travelling. He told me what happened after I died, so I'm covered. I just want you all to know that like Kyle I've gotten my memories of that life back too."

"So you hate me again?" Tess whispered, sounding nothing like the confident girl Liz had known in her first life, let alone like the close friend she'd found in her during this timeline. "Because I…" here her eyes darted to a sad, but understanding – looking Alex, "because I killed Alex."

"No," Liz immediately replied, feeling secure in her answer and even leaned to the side a little and gave the blonde a small arm rub. "I don't, Tess. You're my friend and that's all I care about at the moment. I've lost too many of those in my life to ever take one for granted."

Tess smiled, and Michael spoke up next, "I knew it! You're the only one that ever called me 'Mike'." He paused and then added with a fake glower, "I still hate that, you know."

"I know," was all Liz said and turned to face Alex and Isabel on the other couch, while ignoring the slight pain that her earlier activities had cost her with an inwardly grimace. "We need to talk about everything later, but we've got school tomorrow from what I remember so let's just meet up in the music room at four to talk without Maria finding out."

"Oh, you don't have to worry about that," Maria's said suddenly, and she sat up in one fluid motion, staring harshly at them all. "Why do I get the feeling that I'm the last one to know something really important here? You better tell me because I'm about to freak out like I've never done before, okay?"

Liz looked at Michael, who looked sheepish at not keeping better watch on Maria's bond hearing so she wouldn't hear what she wasn't ready for. "Um…"

"Don't even think about spinning some bull crap line, Liz Parker!" Maria bellowed and jumped to her feet, "I really need to know why you came down here babbling about time travel and what the hell do you mean by us dying and Tess killing Alex? Talk or so help me; I'm walking out that door and never coming back!" Her eyes were on Michael as she spoke the last words and Liz knew her best friend enough to know she meant every word.

Why can't anything ever be simple? Liz thought, biting her lip and closing off a huge part of her connection to Max to keep from disturbing his much needed sleep. Maybe Max was right and he's the better strategist after all…

TBC…
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maipigen
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Re: The Antarian Timetravellers TEEN/MATURE CC NOTE 9/03/13

Postby maipigen » Wed Sep 18, 2013 9:07 am

Thanks for the lovely comments, they guilted me to finish hehe. Sorry for the wait, but couldn't be helped - if possible you should go and read the last chapter before this to refresh your memory:)
Next time will be the last chapter of TATT can you believe it? Now, this chapter and what happens may not agree with you, but trust me, it's been planned since forever:) please enjoy and comment about your thoughts, they keep me thinking;)


Michael’s POV

It was in the middle of the night and their camp was silent – except for Kyle’s soft snores from ten feet away, indicating he was exhausted after his watch.

Michael smirked, vowing to tease the human about it before turning his alert eyes back out on to their surroundings, keeping a vigilant watch. The smirk had vanished almost as fast as it had appeared; a feat that was nowhere near unusual anymore. None of them smiled much these days…

A moment later, he heard soft footsteps approaching and his bond thrummed as she drew closer. Frowning a little, Michael turned his head in the direction he could feel Maria coming from and waited silently. She hardly ever slept these days, but when he’d left her, she’d been fast asleep and he’d sort of hoped that it’d stay that way for a few more hours.

“Hey, Babe,” he greeted Maria, who in turn gave a mere twitch of a smile. The sad thing was that it was the best she could manage these days – especially after their last fight with Khivar’s men, where she’d been forced to use her power and in return now suffered from massive nightmares that echoed through to Michael, making him realize just how much his wife suffered in silence.

Without saying anything, she sat down next to him, huddling up to his larger body to get some warmth. Michael unceremoniously bent down took a small pebble and quickly transformed it into a soft blanket – something he and Max had begun to do early on in their war to keep from carrying too many bags in times of flight.

“Here,” he softly offered and placed the blanket around his wife’s bony shoulders, only for her to shrug it off and roughly place a part of the blanket over his shoulders, essentially cocooning them in their own little world of growing warmth.

“I want you to know,” Maria said, after a few minutes of comfortable silence where Michael easily split his attention between his wife and surveilling the area, “that I love you more than anything. I love you so much that I just want to bask in the glory of it sometimes because the knowledge and security of our love is what’s keeping me going most days.”

Michael’s heart stuttered with a growing dread, but expertly pushed it back, knowing that Maria wouldn’t appreciate feeling his fear. “What brought this on?” he asked instead, gripping her tighter in the process as if making sure she wasn’t about to vanish into thin air.

Maria sighed and wearily placed her head on his shoulder. “I just wanted you to know in case…I just wanted to know that you know without a shadow of a doubt that I love you. I don’t show it all that much anymore, and these days you’re more my caregiver than my husband and I know you’ve felt the brunt of my resentment for all of the weirdness that’s happened to me over the years, but…”

Michael swallowed a lump of pure fear and looked down on his wife when he felt her turn her head toward him. The look in her eyes would give him nightmares for a long time. It was pure sadness, love, determination and bone-crushing exhaustion that met his eyes as Maria quietly finished, “I just need you to know that I love you, Michael. That’s all.”

Michael kissed the top of Maria’s blonde head and did what he did best, ignored the feeling that something was completely wrong with his wife who was usually so strong and said the only thing he could think of, “I love you too, Baby.”

Three weeks later, Michael was painstakingly digging his wife’s grave by hand after she’d made him unable to follow her as she went with Liz to save Max – no amount of love stopping her from leaving him behind...


A car honked right outside of his window and Michael abruptly woke up with a startling clarity in his head, even as the last wisps of his dream-memory faded away into the nothingness he stored his memories at while awake.

It wasn’t new to him to find himself waking up with another dream of the shadow of Maria that she’d become in their other life. He’d dreamt about her every night for two weeks, ever since she’d stormed out of Tess’ house with Liz and Alex running after her.

With a heavy sigh, Michael sat up, rubbing a hand through his hair – A quick look around told him that Kyle hadn’t come back that night either, preferring to stay with Tess apparently.

Not that I blame the guy, Michael thought as he made his way to the bathroom to get ready for school. If I had the opportunity I’d do the same in a heartbeat.

Fifteen minutes later, Michael locked his crappy apartment’s door behind him and walked the short distance to Max and Isabel’s house.

As he neared his family’s home, Michael watched with a mixture of fond amusement and crushing jealousy as Max exited the Evans’ front door with his cell phone at his ear and an unusually large smile on his face. Isabel followed with an equally happy expression plastered on her face and Michael had to use all of his strength to wipe the small sneer of his face when she looked away from her brother and noticed Michael waiting for them.

“Michael, hey!” She greeted, and brushed past her brother, who sent a casual wave Michael’s way before refocusing on his conversation with who Michael had no doubt was Liz.

Isabel reached him, and when her smile began to falter, Michael realized he wasn’t looking as unaffected as he wanted, so he forced a small twitch on his lips, not wanting to spoil their happiness just because his own love life was in the dumps at the moment.

“Still no word from her, huh?” Isabel asked, barreling right past all of Michael’s carefuly setup walls. She’s always been too good at reading me, he thought tiredly and just nodded mutely, before making his way to the Jeep where Max was now waiting, the cell phone blissfully nowhere in sight.
“Let’s just go, okay?”

To his climbing frustration, Michael soon realized that Max wasn’t going to honor his request and put on a scowl just for his friend. “What?”

Max ran a hand through his hair and just gave him that deep and soulful look that meant he was getting ready to breach the area that involved feelings and Michael was not in the mood for it. Straightening up, he all but growled silently for a second and then threw out his ultimatum, “Start the car and take us to school, or I’m getting out and finding something better to do today. It’s not like I actually need to be there to graduate or anything…”

The part of him that was connected with Maria screamed out in fear, not in the least bit willing to forego any small chance he had of laying eyes on her that day, but outwardly, Michael stayed firm and calm, waiting for Max to make his move.

Another long moment went by, before Max sighed heavily and started the engine without a single word. Isabel looked like she didn’t know whether to roll her eyes or give him a comforting pat on the back. Fortunately for Michael’s strenuous hold on his temper, she did neither and just leaned back and watched the scenery pass by as they finally made their way to the school.

0o0o0

A few hours later, Michael was downright twitching with agitation. He’d suffered through two boring classes with Max and Isabel’s searching and pitying eyes throughout it all. And now I’ve gotta suffer through another with a fucking empathy queen.

The glare he sent in Alex’s direction when the lanky teen walked up to the empty seat next to him stopped him mid-step. It took another student’s push from behind to finally get him moving again.

Inwardly, Michael enjoyed the fact that underneath everything, Alex’s respect and or fear of him still ruled him every now and again. The part of him that wanted to remind Michael that his human friend hadn’t even said anything and he really shouldn’t be such a jerk was firmly pushed aside with a metaphorical beat down.
Alex’s half-smile interrupted Michael’s internal battle and he couldn’t keep his damn emotions from being all curious, which led to Alex actually opening his mouth.

“Dude,” he whispered, just as the teacher entered, “the feelings you’re going through right now are worse than the entire women’s softball team on PMS…Just putting it out there.”

“Shut up,” was the brilliant reply that Michael managed before the teacher cleared his throat and forced them to – if not pay attention to him then at least keep quiet for the next little while.

When the period ended, Alex hurried to his feet and stepped in front of Michael before he even finished throwing his stuff back in to his bag. “Don’t start,” Michael ordered, suddenly having extreme difficulty with keeping his emotions in check.

“Whoa asshole, move it so the trailer trash doesn’t infect us normal people,” a voice drawled mockingly, and Michael had to use all his already limited patience to not turn around and clock the speaker, who he’d immediately recognized as Johnny, Kyle’s former jock-friend.

To his great surprise, and everyone else present as well, Alex was the one who reacted to the childish taunt, and with a lot more anger than he’d ever done when it came to his own mockery.

“Keep your mouth shut, Johnny-boy before I shut it for you!”

The picture of the taller Alex, all but snarling at the stockier Johnny – coupled with the instinctive submissive moving back a few steps that everyone immediately did – made Michael want to smile a little.
Who knew that underneath everything, Alex is a badass, Michael thought, grinning a little when a memory of the teenage boy hitting him once upon a time flew into his mind, oh, right; I kinda already knew that…

“Dude, chill out, Man,” Johnny mumbled, after a long moment of hesitation. He nodded to his friends and they all quickly made a beeline for the door, obviously choosing wisely for once in their lives.

“That was sort of awesome,” Michael admitted, slinging his bag over his shoulder, deciding to stay.
Alex looked a little chagrined, his good-natured persona slowly drifting back into his expression. “Yeah, sorry about that,” he ran a hand through his hair sheepishly, “I guess you projected a little too much for a second there. But I’ll admit it was kinda nice finally saying something to that jerk. He’s a bully, you know.”
Remembering how the jock had cornered him in the computer lab a few months earlier, trying to humiliate him came to Michael and he just shrugged, “Yeah, he’s a douche. Look, I’m not really interested in talking about serious crap today.” Or ever, his subconscious added sourly, but Alex merely smiled.

“I knew you’d say that and I totally respect it, so that’s why I’m just gonna invite you to the quad for lunch with Isabel and I…and Max and Liz…And Kyle and Tess…”

“Right, couple central,” Michael muttered, feeling trapped because the last thing he needed was another reminder that he was the odd man out. He’d felt that way all through his original schooling, so he wasn’t really into a repeat performance in front of his friends and family. “I was gonna…err, go to the library and—“

Alex interrupted quickly, “Don’t lie, I honestly don’t think you even know where that place is,” he barely dodged a punch to the shoulder for that remark and continued on with a small smile, “but seriously, Michael, we want you there, you’re a part of the group and even though there’s a little hiccup right now with Maria, you shouldn’t be alone. Especially when you’re hurting and I know that better than anyone, so don’t even try another lie.”

Michael fidgeted a little uncomfortably, picking at a loose thread on his backpag to avoid looking at his friend. A few minutes went by in awkward silence until Michael said the only thing he could at the moment, “your powers suck, you know that?”

Alex grinned, “Absolutely. Now come on, Isabel’s mom packed a huge lunch for her today and she promised to share and I’m starving.”

Rolling his eyes in defeat, Michael listlessly followed, trying not to look for Maria with each passing step.
It didn’t take many minutes before Michael had to fake an urgent need for the bathroom. He didn’t need Alex’s powers to feel the sheer happiness and contentment that his friends were giving off. It made him a little nauseous and he had to get away before he threw a fit or did something as idiotic and out of character as breaking down into tears, begging for them to help him get Maria back into his life before he lost his ever-loving mind completely.

He was followed by Max, whose bladder mysteriously seemed in need of release the exact same time Michael got up to leave. Fortunately, for Michael’s peace of mind, the former king was wise enough not to say anything, but he did send his fair share of concerned looks on the way to the toilets.

Michael was so busy trying to ignore Max’s looks, while battling a severe longing to smack him in the head, that he didn’t immediately notice Maria was a mere fifteen feet away from him.

He caught movement out of the corner of his eye and automatically looked in the direction to gauge any and all threats as he always did after his experiences with the war, only to lock eyes with a cold-faced Maria.
She looks angry, Michael thought, unable to look away even for a second as he tried processing what that meant. I can’t feel her anger right now, but she looks pissed off at me…Has she cut the bond? Michael’s instant wave of horror at the mere thought of their connection being damaged in any way must have travelled over to Maria’s side, because she suddenly flinched a little and the resentful expression was mixed with a little bit of confusion and worry.

“Oh thank God,” Michael whispered, sending as much love and comfort as he could, taking the opportunity to let his love know that no matter what she believed Maria was – and would always be – everything to him.

Sadly, it seemed that the message wasn’t well received. Maria’s expression closed off again within seconds, and with one last scathing look at him and an even worse one for Max, she turned in the opposite direction and left without saying a word. It was as if they were now completely beneath her. The pain of rejection rushed through Michael, and he all but crumbled to the floor.

Max slid down next to him, talking loudly about something inane to draw the interest away from the unusual behavior of the school’s loner, “I’m sorry.” He said after a little while of silence.

Michael just shrugged, discreetly wiping at his eyes to see if any wayward tears had managed to leak out of his eyes despite his best efforts. “Don’t be,” he replied with a heavy sigh. “I get her reaction; I just have to give her some time to process.”

The two brothers sat quietly together for another long moment until Liz came looking for them. Again, Michael had to fight off that part of him that was more or less howling with jealousy at the sight of pure, innocent joy that lit up Max and Liz’s faces as soon as they were near each other.

They deserve to be happy,
Michael forcibly reminded himself, Max hasn’t smiled like that since before Liz died to save him. Stop being an ass, Guerin and be happy for your best friend’s good luck, ‘cause you know you don’t really want that shadow that Maria was to come back to this time. She’ll break or probably go insane just by being around all this teenage angst. And on top of that your temper can’t handle that kind of Maria again, she’ll just end up leaving you in the end like she did before…

Michael sent his surroundings a glare as if just being in a high school was offensive to his sensibilities all of the sudden. Liz’s voice brought him back to the present and he looked up at her when she came to a stop in front of Max.

“Did you guys talk to Maria?”

Next to him, Max shook his head and the concentrated look on his face, coupled with the look of dawning realization on Liz’s expression told Michael that Max was bringing her up to speed on what had just happened.

“I’m not weak,” Michael blurted out, interrupting whatever moment the two lovers were sharing, “I don’t need you guys to keep an eye on me all the time. I’m just gonna give Maria her space and eventually she’ll be pissed off enough to confront me or you guys and things will smooth themselves out again.”

Max got to his feet, holding out a hand to hoist him up while Liz crossed her arms and looked seriously at him. “Michael,” she began quietly, “I know I’m still a little wobbly since merging completely with my old self, but I do know some things and what’s more important, my friend, I know you. There’s no doubt in my mind that you’re just as mad at Maria these days, or at least getting there.”

“Mad?” Michael scoffed, grabbing the handle on his bag and slung it back onto his shoulders, “what do I have to be mad about? I’m not the one that’s been lied to and/or kept in the dark. Like I said, I get where she’s coming from and I’ll respect her wishes until she’s ready. I’d appreciate it if you all did the same.”

Liz smiled, the mature edge to it looking completely at odds with the youth of her features. “Don’t try and con me, Mike. I’ve known you a long time, and I’ve known Maria forever. I remember our past life now, don’t forget that. I was there during the days of Maria’s depression and I know what it did to you. You can’t tell me that there aren’t some residual emotions there in the face of her reaction now? If you even try, I could always bring in Alex for a more in depth analysis.”

The dream that he’d had just that morning seeped into the forefront of Michael’s mind, and he gritted his teeth. For the first time, he truly hating the fact that the Liz from their original lives was back. She’s always known me too well…

“Liz, just leave me alone. I’m dealing with enough right now, without you Dr. Philing me,” Michael ordered, brusquely pushing past Max, making his way to the exit. He’d had enough of school and well-meaning friends for one day.

I don’t know what she’s talking about,
he thought, all but jogging down the steps to the parking lot, I’m not mad at Maria. I understand her better than anyone, and unlike the rest of them I’m gonna wait until she’s ready to come to me for explanations. I’m not gonna risk ruining the only chance of happiness I’ve got left. I’m not mad at Maria…

Michael turned in the direction of his apartment and firmly ignored the tiny part of him that didn’t quite believe his own statement.

Maria’s POV

“Maria…”

The voice and the person it belonged to no longer got any kind of response, but it didn’t make it stop.
“Maaarrriiiaaaa….”

Maria took a deep breath and calmly continued on with her work, taking finished orders from José and delivering them without even once acknowledging the annoyance that was Liz, who was sticking to her like glue.

“Here you go, Sir,” Maria put on her fake happy-to-serve-expression, dumped the plate in front of her customer and turned to take a new order from a young couple that had just walked in. Liz followed her, once again calling for her to reply. It took everything in the blonde not to throw her order-pad in her best friend’s face.

Except, Maria thought, absentmindedly greeting the new customers, I can’t really call her that anymore, now can I? She’s not the same Liz I grew up with anymore – she’s someone else that I can’t even begin to grasp the complexities of and so are Mi…So are all the other Czechoslovakians and I don’t like it any more now than when I first found out.

Remembering how she’d found out the truth about all the secrets that had been kept from her, Maria had to work extra hard to keep a scowl from appearing on her face. I think, she thought as she hurried over to José with her new order, expertly ignoring Liz in the process, that’s what hurts the most. Not the secrets themselves, but the way I found out about them. They only told me ‘cause I accidentally heard it, they weren’t going to tell me anything originally and that’s not what friends do. Friends share.

“Maria?”

Jeff Parker’s voice cut through Maria’s thoughts and she flinched, almost spilling her tray of sodas on her boss. “What?”

Judging from the small cringe the only father-figure in her life couldn’t quite keep off his face, Maria realized that she’d all but growled at him. With a little more effort, Maria managed to put on a half-way sincere smile on her lips and looked up at her boss more closely.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Parker. What did you want? I’m kinda busy right now; there are a lot of orders to be taken and so many ketchup bottles to refill.”

Mr. Parker nodded, but he still had an air of confusion around him, so Maria stayed put, sending a glare of epic proportions to the side behind him where Liz was just standing with an expression that told its clear tale of her being a lot older than she looked. That’s another thing that keeps creeping me out, Maria decided, barely forcing back a shudder of unease, she’s way older than me – it’s like she could be a friend of my mom’s instead of me. I don’t get why she just doesn’t leave me alone and let me stay miserable and betrayed.

“Look,” Mr. Parker’s voice cut through all of Maria’s bubbling anger and despair and she quickly looked back up at her employer when he continued solemnly, “I’ve noticed that lately, you and my daughter are going through some things. I can’t fault your effort here at work, quite the opposite in fact,” he grinned a little, but hurried on seriously when he was met with the blank stare of the angry teenager. “But, I’ve known you practically your whole life and I don’t like seeing you like this. So…emotional.”

Maria couldn’t keep her glare from reigniting at his words, and she angrily put her tray down on the nearest table and then crossed her arms before softly speaking again, “Me being emotional or not isn’t the problem in question here,” Mr. Parker subtly took a step backwards, clearly able to sense his impending doom if he didn’t, “the problem is Liz and the way she’s acted lately. I don’t like being lied to and if you don’t think I’m handling things well despite my “emotions”, I just have one more thing to say …I quit.”

With those words, Maria promptly teared off her antennas and all but threw them at Mr. Parker before storming into the backroom to clear out her locker and change into her own clothes.

Fuming, and feeling exceedingly close to tears of fury, Maria wasted no time at all undressing, throwing her uniform at the couch with all her might. She ignored the confused looks from Agnes and Isabel, who’d both been interrupted in the middle of changing into their uniforms for their own shifts when she’d barged in.

Considering how long Maria had worked at the Crashdown, it took a pathetically short while to gather her meager belongings. So short in fact, that she’d already finished and turned to leave when Liz finally made her appearance.

“Maria!”

Without missing a beat, Maria ignored Liz’s call and just jogged out the backdoor and into the alley to the street where she continued in a brisk walk toward her place. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that Liz would come after her, and Maria preferred as much distance between them as she could manage.
She was so absorbed in escaping her best friend– former best friend, the bitter part of her pointed out coldly - that she didn’t notice where she was going and a moment later, Maria walked straight into someone.

The strength of the collision made Maria tumble backwards awkwardly, and she would’ve fallen completely on her back if it weren’t for two strong hands darting out to grab her mid-fall.
The second the touch connected from Maria’s skin to her brain, she didn’t even have to look up to recognize who’d saved her from making a fool out of herself.

“Let go of me, Michael,” she growled, already ripping her arms out of his grip and stepping back. Her guts were playing twister, one part of her dying to just step back into the embrace she knew he’d give her if she let him know she was longing for it. It took a little more effort than she would’ve liked, but eventually, Maria found her bitchy self again and raised her brow mockingly.

“Are you following me around? Don’t you have more important things to worry about? I mean some sort of intergalactic shenanigan that could make Captain Kirk drool with envy or something?”

Before Michael could respond, Liz finally reached them and Maria’s temper had a new target to focus on. For once she was too exhausted to care about keeping her emotions in check, too hurt to keep pretending that their lying hadn’t wounded her more than anything.

The look she sent Liz must have portrayed a little of that hurt, because the brunette cringed ever so slightly, eying a stoic-looking Michael out of the corner of her eye.

“Don’t look at him,” Maria ordered, glaring her down, “he’s not important – what’s important is that you need to leave me the hell alone, Liz! I’m not interested in listening to more of your spiel about the greater good or whatever while you keep even more crap from me. I don’t know if anything you’ll ever say again will get me to trust you. I obviously have none of your respect.”

“Now hold on—“ Liz tried, but she was ruthlessly interrupted by Maria, who just scoffed and spoke over her.
“Like I said, you clearly don’t respect me or my wishes otherwise you’d have listened when I asked you to leave me be the first time. So I’m just gonna say it again, leave me alone – you don’t owe me anything, you’re not the girl I grew up with, you’re sure as hell not my best friend anymore!”

The flash of genuine hurt on Liz’s face nearly made Maria sick to her stomach, but she pushed it down and turned to leave. Only, she barely made it a few steps before Michael had taken a firm, yet gentle hold of her arm again. He didn’t say anything, just held her there for a few seconds before he practically barked, “We need to all calm down. Liz, call Max and the others and tell them to meet at my place ‘cause this ends tonight. I’m sick of this crap and you,” his eyes burned back into Maria, who was suddenly overwhelmed with the transference of his chaotic emotions through their bond and unable to get any words out at the downright domineering glower he sent her, “you’re coming with me and I don’t wanna hear another peep outta you until I’ve had my say.”

The next thing she knew, Maria was being all but dragged down the street to Michael’s apartment and all of her anger seemed to have been momentarily frozen inside of her as she followed along meekly.

0o0o0

I feel like my mom just caught me stealing one of her condoms
, Maria thought, pretending that the awkward stares and growing tension in the room wasn’t getting to her. Any minute now there’s going to be a lecture of some sort, followed by a “we all love you.” It’s enough to make me sick to my stomach.

Maria licked her lips, not able to wholly hide her unease. Especially since Michael had yet to look at her since he’d practically dumped her on his ratty armchair. He’d sat down on the edge of the coffee-table in front of her, waiting silently for Liz to arrive with the others in tow.

It hadn’t taken long, but to Maria, who was the object of Michael’s smoldering stares, it had felt more or less like time without end.

“Well,” Liz spoke up from her place right next to Max on the couch, “I guess we’re all waiting for you now, Michael.”

Michael cleared his throat, finally breaking his hold on Maria by looking over at the brunette and nodding. “Yeah.”

Maria did her best to act like she wasn’t the least bit interested in what he had to say, scanning the others grumpily instead. Kyle sat on the kitchen counter with Tess leaning up against his front, looking like she belonged there. The sheriff’s son was unusually somber-looking and it was a little freaky since Maria still expected him to crack immature jokes to break the awkwardness in the room.

Well, she amended silently, he’s not really been that jolly of a guy for a while. Especially since he got those mojo powers… Maria’s eyes travelled over to Isabel and Alex, who were downright cuddling on the other end of the couch, and looking wholly unapologetic about it as well.

Max and Liz, well, Maria didn’t really need to look at them to know that they were holding hands and keeping each other calm and collected through their bond. A part of Maria was able to admit that she kinda envied her friend the closeness she’d gained with the dark-haired Evans when her memories returned, but as long as she didn’t say it out loud it didn’t count, Maria decided and finally looked back at a serious-looking Michael.

The moment she met his gaze, Michael jumped into an explanation as if he’d only been waiting for her to look back at him.

“Ever since you found out about the truth in the way you did,” Michael quickly glanced over at Liz, who was looking a little dejectedly down at the floor, clutching Max’s hands in her own, “you’ve been a bitch.”

“What?” Maria gaped, her earlier anger moving into befuddlement and she had half-raised her hand to slap her idiot sort-of boyfriend over the head when Michael continued calmly.

“It’s true, Maria, but to be honest, I don’t give a crap about that anymore. At first I was sorry and wanted nothing more than listen and support you through your bad days. I was ready to talk to you about everything, but you rejected not only my attempts but everyone else’s as well. I get it, but things won’t change back now – no matter how much you complain. Your petty jealousy is not only useless, but immature and childish too.”

“Well, apparently,” Maria interjected before Michael could add more fuel to her fire, “I am immature and childish compared to most of you, right? I think Liz told me you were in your late thirties or something, so basically you’re ancient and I’ve got every right to bitch and moan like a child, because that’s what I am.”

Michael’s expression closed off, became blank, but through their – albeit muted – bond, Maria could easily feel his growing frustration with her and for some reason she reveled in it, wanting nothing more to make him snap.

“Even though Alex and Tess,” Maria looked over at them as she mentioned them, glancing briefly at Kyle as well before scowling right back at Michael, “and Kyle, sort of, are my age, they were given enough respect to learn the truth up front and without any talking down, but oh no, not me, the crazy DeLuca kid, and I wanna know why? Do you all think I’m a loose cannon, too stupid to understand the seriousness of the whole thing? That just because it took me a while to get over myself when it came to getting my own powers? Maybe they’ll show up soon and then I can prove to all of you that I’m not weak!”

Inwardly, Maria was a little confused at the immediate tension her words provoked, especially in Michael and Liz. As if her with powers would be more horrible than anything else they’d faced together, and a wave of genuine hurt rushed through her at the thought that just maybe they simply didn’t trust her with any of that Czechoslovakian mumbo jumbo.

Michael’s next words seemed to nail the thought into her like her own insecurity hadn’t quite managed yet, and for one short second, Maria wanted to cry at the injustice of it all.
“Over my dead body are you getting powers, Maria!”

“Screw you, Michael Guerin – in fact, screw all of you!” Maria practically screamed as she jumped to her feet. “Sitting there on your high horses, judging me and finding me lacking – I’m worth so much more than this crap. I don’t have to take this, I’m leaving.”

She didn’t get more than maybe three steps, before Liz stood in front of her and Michael was etched up against her back, preventing her from getting out of the apartment and away from the sad looks of her former friends.

“Move, Liz.” Maria demanded quietly, trying to adopt the cold expression she’d seen on Michael’s face earlier.

“I’m sorry, Maria,” Liz said, ignoring her request, “ever since you walked out of Tess’ place, I’ve felt like a complete jerk. It hurts me that you think I don’t trust you, you’re everything to me, don’t you know that? Even though you don’t feel like it right now, I’m still Liz, I’m still the girl who helped you shoplift your first tampons because you knew your mom couldn’t afford another expense that month, I’m still the girl that went back inside and paid the clerk despite your stubborn pride when you hyperventilated with guilt the second we walked out of that store. You’re still my best friend, Maria. Always have been and always will be. I hope you’ll see that again someday. I know that I have a lot to make up for, and I handled things wrongly, but you have to understand something too. The Maria I remember wasn’t happy, and it broke our hearts every day, and we just wanted you to live as normal a life as we could manage. I’m truly sorry.”

The speech made Maria’s eyes burn with unshed tears, but she used all of her strength to push aside her instinctive urge to embrace Liz, making every hurtful thing between them vanish, at least for a few minutes. Instead, she just gave an awkward half-shrug and stepped around Liz toward the door without a word.

Suddenly, just as her hand reached for the door handle, Michael spun her around roughly, grabbing the sides of her face with his big, callused hands. “I’m so sick of all of this! If you wanna be included and see how great you were in the other life we had, I’m damn well gonna show you.”

Out of the corner of her eye, Maria saw Isabel, Kyle and Alex lean forward with hesitation written all over them. Max just stared with disquieting calm as if he’d always known it would end like this. And then, in time with her next inhale, Maria didn’t have any more opportunities to notice anything else than what Michael was ruthlessly showing her through their connection.

Images upon images rushed into her mind, burying her in a pit of relentless despair, fear and bitterness that was choking the life out of her even as she just kept standing immobile with Michael sweat-clammy hands on her pallid face.

There werebattles going on all around them, filled with screams of anger and screams of agony, and Maria knew she was seeing things through Michael’s eyes – especially since he was standing behind someone that could only be her.

Her hair was in disarray. It was speckled with blood as if she’d stood in front of an exploding person at one point. Her fingers were bony and looked like they were cutting into a tall, muscular man’s face as he kneeled placidly on the ground in front of her.


“No, no, no, please don’t. Please stop!” the man gurgled, blood leaving his mouth in spatters as he begged and pleaded for his release. “Just kill me,” he screamed and from Michael’s memory Maria knew that her eyes were pure white as they stared mercilessly into the man’s bleeding eyes.

A moment later they unceremoniously exploded out of his face and she dropped the body seemingly without a care and turned around haphazardly and there were now tears streaking down her ashen face. “W-What happened? What did I just do?” she asked hoarsely just before passing out.


Another scene flashed by, Maria sitting quietly on the ground in some unfamiliar cave, staring at a smokeless fire without really seeing it. The plate of food in her hands remained untouched, and Liz’s worried voice echoed in the cave, “You gotta eat, Maria. You’re skin and bones. Please, you need to keep your strength up. Michael won’t say anything, but he’s scared too. Just look at him, he hasn’t stopped staring at you since he gave you the food.”


The sad excuse of a smile that erupted on Maria’s lips was weak at best, and she quickly gave it up. “You know I’m never really hungry after using my powers,” she muttered, her voice hoarse from disuse. “You can have it, Liz, if you want. I’ll get something later…”


“Maria,” Liz’s tone was broken, but seemed to realize that the battle was lost and stepped back toward the part of the cave where she slept next to Max.

“It’s okay,” Maria muttered, meeting her husband’s gaze, “I’m okay, Spaceboy – Just getting used to the awesome power I’ve got. Go to sleep.”


A very thin Maria was throwing up next to the body of a woman, who looked like she’d been walking home with groceries from the local shop. Michael’s hands were shaking when they landed on her bony shoulders. Maria’s groan froze them for a second before she spoke and then he removed them.

“Don’t touch me, Michael,” she said and spat out the last bits of her only ingested meal that day, “I’m dangerous.”


“Shhh,” Michael’s arms quickly enveloped her smaller frame, ignoring her feeble attempts at escape, “look at me, Baby,” he asked when her eyes remained closed tight.

“Don’t wanna,” she whispered, tears leaking out from between the closed lids without any restraint. “I don’t wanna risk losing you. I’m a freak, I’m not safe and you should put me out of my misery before I end up harming another innocent person like this.”


Michael didn’t know what to say to make things better, and Maria continued tearfully, “I just killed an innocent woman, who was kind enough to look me in the eye and smile as she said good evening, Michael! Her biggest fear was dying without having done something worthwhile, she wanted to be doctor, Michael, a kid’s doctor. I’m a horrible person; I deserve to die more than all of us put together for what I’ve done. You know she’s not the first one I’ve accidentally killed. I hate this, I hate it, I just want it to stop. Please, make it stop!”

For the first time since Michael started force feeding his memories into her, Maria felt things from her other self’s point of view, and an unpleasant nausea started as the emotions of guilt, despair and complete and utter self-hatred that rolled through her continuously.

For a second, Maria was utterly certain that she was going to do as her other self did and throw up right then and there all over Michael’s sneakers…and then, something changed that when she thought about it later, totally blew Maria’s mind.

It started with a fog, sneaking subtly in through the corners of her mind into her mindscape, blurring another heart wrenching memory of Michael being put under her powers so she could go help Liz save Max. The fog slowly thickened and tiny wisps of mist seemed to reach out to her, calling for Maria to follow.

Without any real conscious thought, too damn inundated and confused by all she had seen, Maria tried to enter the fog. It was like stepping through a spider web, its sticky residue making her want to scratch even though her rational mind quickly pointed out that one couldn’t scratch the mystical whatever-it-was that she was under, thanks to Michael.

A second later, Maria broke through the heavy fog and froze immediately at the sight before her. Realistically, she knew that her physical body was standing in Michael’s living room, crowded by all its occupants, watching the two of them with wide and serious eyes as Michael did his best to show her what he’d never wanted her to know. But all Maria could comprehend at that moment was the fact that she seemed to actually be corporeal and inside what appeared to be a shabby house, probably long abandoned.Then she looked closer.

The room had one occupant who was standing vigil by a shaded window, watching the night’s traffic soar by. “Oh my God,” Maria whispered as her eyes took in the other person’s emaciated frame and unkempt hair.

Her words caused an instant reaction, and Maria watched…well, she watched herself spin around from the window and fall into what seemed like a much practiced battle stance.

A car drove by, its lights momentarily illuminating the window and darkening the older Maria long enough for the younger one to break out of her frozen mind and into a state that suited her style a lot more: Utter panic.

“Nononono! This is too weird, even for me,” she whimpered, backing away from the motionless woman in front of her, who was silently watching her retreat until she hit a wall and was stopped entirely. “Look,” Maria bargained, “how about you don’t look at me and I pretend I’m not scared like a little girl having her first nightmare and Michael somehow gets me outta here, right now?!”

The last part was all but screamed out and Maria fully expected whatever mojo that Michael had used to answer to her and end this madness, except nothing happened.

“Michael?” OldMaria, as the younger one bluntly named her inside her head, asked, an inquiring tone to her voice that clearly stated that she wanted some answers as soon as possible or else…

“Err…Yeah, you know, Czechoslovakian, tall, spiky hair –when he remembers to do it anyway –impulsive –tends to glare...”

There was a short pause during which Maria held her breath in fear until OldMaria unexpectedly straightened out of her battle stance and broke into a gravelly laugh. “That’s about right, yeah. So I guess you’re not entirely alien then. Who are you?”

Maria fidgeted, looking everywhere but at OldMaria’s face, not really in the mood to find out what her biggest fear truly was. “Uhm, well…I’m you, I guess.”

OldMaria didn’t say anything and Maria chanced a glance and caught the image of raised brows of disbelief. “Oh what the hell,” Maria sighed and managed to explain everything in ten minutes, leaving the older version of her looking completely gobsmacked if the loose hanging jaw was anything to go by.

“You can look at me, you know,” OldMaria’s tone was sad, but truthful as she continued quietly, “I’ve learned some control over the years. I understand if you don’t believe me, but—“

Maria looked up and caught her older self’s weary gaze. It took everything in her not to gasp at the sight. OldMaria looked exhausted and for one brief second, Maria wondered if she should even be standing up as frail as she looked, but then OldMaria spoke and momentarily distracted her thoughts.

“So basically some Czechish weirdness, combined with your temper tantrum put you here.”

Maria wanted to give an indignant huff, but realized that her normal antics wouldn’t work or even impress a little. Instead she just rubbed her dry eyes and shook her head in incomprehensible agreement.

OldMaria’s lips gave a twitch that vaguely resembled a smile, and added, “From what you’re telling me, things will eventually work out. You’ll go back and forgive them all because deep down you already have, you’re just making a point and I can’t say I’m not jealous, but I guess this way is the only way where things work out and this stupid war ends…” Her parody of a smile vanished back into the usual frown lines as she continued softly, making Maria’s heart ache with phantom pains, “I’m tired of losing all my friends and family. At least this way we all get our happy ending.”

“Y-You’re different than I thought,” Maria whispered and the old woman, because that’s more or less what she had become now, smiled a much more heartfelt smile and nodded.

“Honestly, I’m happy. You’ve given me answers that I didn’t know I wanted, but desperately longed for. Having you here gives me hope for a life without bloodshed and innocent lives lost…Have you been healed by Max?”

Maria nodded, and OldMaria sighed, her eyes radiating pity and worry, “If you get them before you’re done with school, don’t look at your…No, forget it - just beg Tess and the others to block them for you somehow. Liz, Serena and I worked out that she was the one ingredient missing to help me years ago. Having the Fourth would’ve completed their strength, the Royal Connection, and made it possible for me to not get them. Even though, I kinda still find it hard to believe that she’s not a killing betraying skank in your time, I’ll kiss the damn Devil himself to avoid killing anymore innocent people. Just…please, you don’t want that either.”

“I’m sorry you had to go through life like this,” Maria muttered, not really knowing what to say, but the other woman merely shrugged.

“Don’t be- truth be told, I can’t deny it’s come in handy from time to time, but that doesn’t mean I don’t wanna lose it. I mean we’re all on edge lately, Max has been taken by Khivar’s sadistic second-in-command and I’d like nothing more than to march out and get him back, staring Caden right in the eyes the whole time, but still…”

“Wait,” Maria frowned, trying to remember every last bit of information Liz and Alex had given her back when she’d still had the patience to listen to their story, and the blurry memory from mere minutes ago filtered through to her. “Max’s been taken? That-That means you’re gonna…” She trailed off, suddenly too scared to say another word in case all her Back-To-The-Future knowledge happened to be true and changing the past would bring horrible consequences to her own life.

She shouldn’t have bothered, because like it or not, OldMaria was her in every way and had already guessed what was gonna happen to her. “Oh,” she exhaled a deep breath, “so that’s how it happens.”

A long moment went by in awkward silence, until OldMaria suddenly grinned manically and that, more than anything, freaked Maria out. “Well, that’s great… really. I heard Liz muttering something about mounting a rescue a few hours ago before leaving to prepare our route to one of our other safe houses. Knowing what I do now, I can help her and not worry about leaving Michael behind. In the end everything will work out for the best and he’ll be happy again. Thank you, Maria, you’ve given me a lot more peace than I’ve had in years, probably more than I deserve after what I’ve done.”

“Maria,” a deep, familiar voice broke through their conversation and both of them froze with fear in their hearts.

“Michael,” they both whispered in tandem and looked frantically at each other. Then, Maria felt a resounding inner pain that broke out from within her and travelled through her entire body. She managed a choked groan and one last look at OldMaria, who no longer looked fearful, but a little bit happy even. In the exact second that Maria spotted the shadow of an older looking Michael appearing in the doorway, staring at OldMaria with concern, everything turned black.

Until she reopened her eyes and locked gazes with her Michael.

They stared silently at each other even as several voices around her told Maria that whatever the hell it was that she’d just experienced, Michael and her had gone through it together without anyone being able to do much of anything.

“Be quiet,” Michael ordered without looking away from her and blissful silenced fell over the room. The others were confused and a little bit scared at what must have seemed like some sort of shared seizure, but Michael and Maria were calm.

A pure sense of confused relief coupled with profound sadness and growing understanding seeped into Maria’s side of the bond. Without really knowing how she did it, she thought out to Michael ‘I…Err, she, never stopped loving you, Michael. She didn’t abandon you because she was tired of everything. She left because she knew we’d get a second chance.’

Michael’s face looked stupefied, too overwhelmed with the new knowledge that was burning away the lingering anger he’d had at the original timeline’s Maria’s abandoning him and she continued gently, ‘I am still mad at the secrecy, but I understand now. I’ll get over it, but you have to promise me one thing.’

“What?” Michael immediately asked, still too shocked to use the silent method of communication, bringing with it a lot of curious looks from the others still quiet in the background.

Maria smiled, reaching out to grab hold of the hands still gripping her cheeks softly. “Help me get Tess and the other two to block my powers when they come – and the memories too…”

A brief flash of regret ran through their connection, before it was followed by understanding agreement.
“You sure?”

Maria remembered the deadened look in her older self’s eyes, the quick flare of pure hope that had kept lingering there until she’d vanished as soon as she had heard that the war didn’t have to happen, that she didn’t have to accidentally kill someone again.

“I’m positive,” she answered and did the only thing she could think off at the moment, the only thing she’d wanted ever since angrily leaving Tess’ house weeks ago. She fell into Michael’s arms and closed their last remaining distance with a kiss that echoed with the original timeline’s Maria’s hope for a better tomorrow.

TBC
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maipigen
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Re: The Antarian Timetravellers TEEN/MATURE CC CH 35 9/18/13

Postby maipigen » Tue Dec 24, 2013 8:15 pm

A/N Sorry for the wait, it was harder than I thought to actually finally let go of this story. This is it, the end of a four year journey…I know I won’t please all of you with my ending, it’s inevitable, but I hope you’ll all enjoy the last foray into TATT’s world. Thank you all, it’s been great and I love you all!
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Last Time on Tatt - I do recommend you reread ch. 35 regardless:

Michael struggled with an angry Maria, so did everyone else. She was furious with being the only one not in the know about the future and the time travel. Liz staged an intervention of sorts to all but force the blonde to see reason. Things were said and done, Michael revealed he didn't want Maria to get her powers. Somehow during a mindmelt, Maria travelled to the past, met her emaciated and bitter self, came back to her senses and made up with Michael.
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Kyle's POV

Things finally began to settle down after the explosive showdown with Khivar's men. The confrontation with Maria no less volatile, but that was also subsiding.

Remembering how they'd all just sat there, wanting the young woman to understand their reasons still gave Kyle a bad taste in his mouth. We sort of overpowered her, ramming our stories and beliefs down her throat, acting disappointed 'cause she didn't get it. How could she? She's the only one of us who’s still slightly normal…At least until Michael somehow connected her to her former self. Now, that really blew all of our minds.

Kyle sighed, wiping his sweaty brow as he came to a stop from his run. His breath normalized quickly; he was in the best shape of his life at the moment, and he resumed his pondering.

To his surprise, Maria herself had seemingly no problems with him anymore, which was weird after months of her snubbing him for being included in the "Czech-club". She now smiled tentatively at him in the school halls, and didn't object anymore if their teachers put them in the same group in class.

Frankly, it was freaking him out.

She behaved friendly; if a little cool toward all of them, except Liz for some reason. Kyle sat down to begin his stretching routine, recalling how Maria still avoided talking directly to Liz and never sat with them at lunch if she was present.

I guess it sort of makes sense, Kyle decided, groaning a little at the burn in his legs as he stretched for all his worth, she's Maria's best friend and being left out of the loop, no matter the reason, is gonna piss any decent friend off.

Kyle froze in the next moment, as a familiar truck turned onto the street and all thoughts of Maria and Liz's ongoing battle for peace or whatever it was, fled his mind completely.

Dad…Kyle swallowed a heavy lump of guilt, anger and regret all rolled into one as the police-car drew nearer and slowed down when its driver saw and recognized Kyle.

The memory of his dad from the original timeline battled on with the one from this life, how the Sheriff had all but demanded that Kyle leave his brother in arms, his friend and confidante behind because he didn't trust him after the shooting at the diner.

He's still here at least, a small part of Kyle's subconscious butted in, tearing away at the slight disappointment that he couldn't quite keep from feeling whenever he laid eyes on his father. He's not dead because he marched out into combat to buy time for the rest of us to escape. He's alive and you should really man up and remember that, Kyle told himself and awkwardly got to his feet when his dad pulled up next to him and stopped the car and got out.

"Hey, Son." The Sheriff's voice was hesitant and hoarse as they stood face to face for the first time in months. "Got a minute?"

Brushing the dirt from his pants gave Kyle a moment to figure out how to respond. He'd avoided his dad for months, ignored the calls and knocks on Michael's door that told him that angry fight or not, Jim Valenti wasn't ready to give up their relationship.

And to be honest, neither was Kyle.

"Sure," he finally murmured, taking the first step toward his dad. "Do you wanna go somewhere to talk or…"

"Anywhere you want is fine," was the eager reply, and Kyle felt a fresh surge of guilt at the sudden happiness and hope that exploded on the proud sheriff's weathered face.

"Let's go to the Crash," Kyle offered and unceremoniously got into the passenger-seat before his father could say or do much of anything.

0o0o0

Walking into the familiar diner was always sort of soothing to Kyle's nerves, and as soon as the scents of the place enveloped his senses, his heartbeat settled and he managed to give a sincere smile to his dad as they both made their way to an available booth.

Maria, who'd, walked in a few days after quitting and confidently demanded her job back from a rather guilty-looking and befuddled Jeff Parker was working that day, and she was the one to walk over to take their order.

"Hi, Kyle…Sheriff," she nodded politely at them, "can I get you something to drink?"

Kyle ordered a coke, while his dad just asked for a coffee and without another word; Maria turned and left to get it for them. Kyle watched her brush past a sad-looking Liz on her way, but decided his dad deserved more of his attention if they were ever going to figure out their differences, let alone make peace.

Just as he turned back to his father, a new, but familiar feeling blossomed in his gut, and Kyle couldn't repress a small, happy smile at its appearance. He noticed his dad's slightly confused look as he turned to look at the door, where, a second later Tess walked in with an equally bright smile on her face.

It still boggled Kyle's mind a bit, whenever he took the time to ponder the fact he was in a relationship with the Tess Harding. He'd spent more years than he cared to remember hating her with all his being, but now he was in love with her as well.

Life's truly crazy, Kyle thought as Tess' eyes landed on him and she began making her way over to him, the hate is gone, replaced by more happiness than I'd ever expected even when I was chasing after Liz when I was a teenager the first time. Hell, I used to somehow think of her as my sister for Christ's sake.

A quick flash of of all the non-sibling related things the two of them had been doing at Tess' place brought an uncomfortable lurch to his stomach, and Kyle quickly pushed those images away along with any memory of his past life’s innocent feelings.

"Son?"

His dad's voice broke through Kyle's mind, and he quickly looked away from Tess and faced his dad, who looked like he'd been trying to get his attention a few times already, judging from the slightly exasperated expression he was sporting.

"Sorry, Dad."

"Don't be, Son," the Sheriff said and glanced up at Tess, who finally reached their table, "Just introduce me to this young lady of yours that brings such joy to your mopey face and all's forgiven."

The second the words left the older man's face, Kyle caught a glimpse of hesitation on his face, as if his dad wasn't quite sure he was allowed to joke so soon after their first step to reconciliation. Kyle soothed him with another smile and held out a hand for Tess as he just casually did as his dad wanted.

"Dad, this is my girlfriend, Tess Harding. Tess, this is my dad, Sheriff Jim Valenti."

Tess nodded politely with a slightly awkward tint to her expression, and Kyle knew that for just one moment she'd remembered what she'd learned of her past life, how she and Kyle had once lived together as siblings. How she'd been a second child to the man sitting across from her boyfriend and lover.

Hopefully, Kyle thought, sending a small amount of comfort and teasing amusement through their connection, this time around she'll think of him as dad in another way, as her father in law…Someday.

"Nice to meet you," Tess' voice brought Kyle back out of his mind, and he nodded his approval, eyeing his dad for any tells of what he thought.

The sheriff was blank for a second, his eyes wandering from the blonde next to Kyle and back at him. Then, a genuine smile broke through and Kyle sighed in relief, not even bothering to think how important his dad's opinion was to him still, considering they'd been estranged for such a long time.

Tess turned to him, and Kyle couldn't keep his hands from gripping her slender waist as she spoke softly to him, "I'm gonna go chat a bit with the others. Isabel is still talking about how she's going on a date with Alex tonight and I'm pretty sure Liz and Maria could use a break."

Grinning, Kyle stood up and quickly planted a kiss on her lips before sitting back down to finally have the talk he so needed with his dad.

Apparently, though, his father wasn't quite ready to jump right into it in his usual blunt manner. Instead, he was looking at Tess walking over to the counter to chat up a smiling Liz and Isabel, whose smiles only dimmed a fraction when a stone-faced Maria walked by – ignoring Liz per her usual behavior.

"You look happy, Kyle."

Kyle bit his lip for a moment before nodding. "I am."

There was a long silence that wasn't weighed down with the usual awkwardness that had been present on their drive to the Crashdown and then Kyle froze up with surprise as his dad began talking in a rush, as if eager to get everything out in the open.

"I'm sorry I tried ordering you who to see and to be friends with. I know now that Max is a good kid, and I was too caught up in my dad's crazy ramblings to even give him a shot. I know you're a great judge of character, and I should've trusted you. You're my son and I love you and I don't want us to have the same relationship I've had the last thirty years with my old man. I want us to be close again – and before you say anything," the sheriff held up a hand in case Kyle would jump in and interrupt, "I know I'm to blame for us growing apart, my job has gotten in the way over the years, but I got so obsessed with what happened with the shooting last year and how strange things got that I lost sight of the only thing that matters, and that's you, Kyle. You're the only thing in my life that I can't bear to lose. So, please come back home and let's be a family again. Or just start with a weekly visit or something, I'll try to cook some edible food and not pawn you off with fast food as usual."

"Dad…" Honestly, Kyle was gobsmacked; he had no words to describe the mixed feelings of joy and guilt he was feeling at his dad's apology.

I kept things from him, compared him to my dad from the other timeline and found him wanting, Kyle thought, licking his dry lips, and yet here's that glimpse of him that I was missing. Even though he doesn't know the truth this time around, he's still willing to let everything, but his love for me go.

For the first time, Kyle truly felt what he hadn't been willing to accept before, his dad wasn't dead. In fact, he was very much alive and willing to patch things up between them despite Kyle not making the first move.

The nervousness in the older man's eyes wasn't a good look on him, in Kyle's opinion and he decided to take his dad's olive branch for what it was and try responding maturely.

"Dad," Kyle repeated softly, reaching out a hand and planting it over the one of his dad's that laid on the table, only to remove it quickly at the startled look in the older man’s eyes. It didn’t surprise Kyle though, neither of them had ever really been the touching kind, it always felt awkward. Sighing quickly, Kyle continued with what he wanted to get off his chest.

"We have stuff to work on and talk about before we can truly be okay," he ignored the saddened look the otherwise so proud man sported and continued on, "but…if you try to cook food for me, we won't live long enough to do that, so I'll cook. Deal?"

Kyle pushed away the shamed sensation in his gut when his dad broke out into the single most relieved grin he'd seen in his life and nodded back to him.

"That's a deal, Son. That's a deal."

At least it's a start; Kyle thought and glanced over at Tess when he felt her send a supporting wave of emotion through their bond, which he returned quickly. Then he turned his attention back on his dad to continue their talk with something a little less serious.

"Did I tell you, I'm a Buddhist now?"

Isabel's POV

The day's shift at the Crash was over, and Isabel wanted nothing more to go home and take a long hot bath to soak away all the stench of fried food and sweat. Of course, she thought as she changed into her own clothes, I could use my powers to get clean, but it's never quite the same as a nice soak.

Maria walked in and distracted her from her happy thoughts as sadness immediately swept over her. A part of her didn't regret the end result of the intervention that Michael had mustered up to reconnect, but most of all she just hated how attacked the vibrant blonde must have felt, how alone in the midst of people she was supposed to call friends.

But, Isabel reasoned, sending a small smile Maria's way when the blonde nodded politely at her with a small smile herself, at least I've talked with Maria about it all after we had the night shift together the other day and she's willing to work on everything instead of burying it inside again.

Isabel swallowed a small grin when she briefly thought about how the blonde that she'd once despised back when she was a teenager the first time around, had ended up being one of her closest friends, her sister.

"Why do you look so cheery?" Maria's voice distracted Isabel from her own thoughts, and she broke out into a beaming smile at the memory of what was awaiting her as soon as she finished getting dressed in her own clothes again.

"As you already know, I'm going out with Alex tonight. Well," Isabel amended with a vague gesture at her own figure, "first I've gotta wash the Crash's lovely perfume of my skin at home, but then Alex's coming over to take me to a movie."

"That sounds nice," Maria's expression seemed genuine, so Isabel nodded happily, unafraid of stepping on any toes, "I wish Spaceboy could wise up and learn a little from Alex sometimes. We've spent every free moment in his apartment going over everything from BTTM."

Isabel's brow furrowed in confusion, "Err…BTTM?"

Maria's eyes glinted with amusement, and Isabel briefly lamented the fact that she hadn't seen it for so long before tuning back into what the other girl was actually saying, "Before the Timetravel Madness."

She couldn't help but break out into laughter and after a hesitant second, Maria joined in and Isabel knew that, although slowly, things were being repaired with an even better foundation than they originally experienced.

"Well, I'm gonna head out," Isabel finished putting on her jacket and grabbed her backpack with a hurried smile, "I don't wanna keep Alex waiting more than I have to."

"Have fun," Maria shook her head with a smile dancing on her lips, "don't do anything I wouldn't do."

"That leaves it pretty open, don't you think?" Isabel snarked and barely avoided a mock punch to the arm as she danced through the door and out into the alleyway that lay behind the Crash. She had a much anticipated date to get ready for.

0o0o0

An hour later, Isabel was just putting the finishing touches on her hair when she absentmindedly tweaked the color of her dress to red as she remembered Alex's fondness for her in that particular color.
The doorbell interrupted one of the few truly fond memories she had of her first life in Roswell and the dream she'd walked in on way back when she was snooping on Alex.

"I'll get it!" Isabel all but screamed, jogging down the stairs with her heels firmly clasped in her hand. For the first time since arriving back in time, Isabel truly felt like a young girl, eager for an innocent date and shy glances. She was distracted by her own eager fantasies, and her mother easily cut in front of Isabel with teasing laughter erupting from her lips, when she reached the front door first to let Alex in.

"Good evening, Alex," Dianne greeted the tall teenager, whose eyes had immediately landed on Isabel standing behind her smaller mother. "Come on in, Isabel's just getting ready."

In that moment, the house phone rang and Dianne excused herself, leaving Isabel and Alex smiling lovingly at each other.

"Hi," Isabel said, looking at the dress pants and tight-fitting shirt that she'd bought him as a gift a few days earlier when she'd dragged him to the mall for some retail-therapy slash training his powers in large crowds with the myriad of emotions that come with them. "You look nice."

The bashful shrug that Alex sent her, made Isabel want to just give him a big hug and kiss. His lack of self-awareness about his cuteness was adorable and she hoped he never lost it.

"Stop that," Alex grinned when some of Isabel's feelings transferred to him both through their bond and his powers at the same time. Before she could say anything else, Alex continued with a soft look in his eyes that made Isabel's heart thump irregularly. "You look beautiful, Isabel."

Isabel basked in the whole concept of dating Alex, finally having forgiven herself for fighting her attraction to the human in the original timeline.

"Well, let's go, shall we?" She smiled and held out a hand for him to take, but just as their skin connected, Isabel's mom came back from the kitchen and stopped them from leaving.

"Isabel, honey, I need a big favor." Her eyes imploring Isabel to listen as she continued quickly, "I'm so sorry to do this, but Dad just called. He needs a file from his study, and since I promised you the car and Max is at Michael's place," Isabel barely stopped herself from scoffing, knowing full well that her brother was in fact at Liz's place, probably having the time of his life, "I can't bring it to him…unless you want to wait here while I drive over to his office with the papers?"

Dianne's small knowing smile turned a little devious as she added innocently, "You know I always drive a bit slower at night, afraid of having an accident. Which in turn would make me late to Phil's office and that'll probably prompt him to ask me if I'm okay and that'll only expand upon your delay with your plans for the night and—"

"Fine!" Isabel held out her free hand for her dad's file, "I'll go, drop the guilt trip, Mom. Geez." Ignoring her mom's triumphant grin, Isabel muttered annoyed, "What does he need a file for this late, anyhow? It's after eight o’clock; he should be home by now."

Alex's chuckle beside her didn't completely eliminate Isabel's irritation, but she calmed down and even managed a returning smile when her mother handed her the file and the keys to her car at the same time.

"Well, Dad's busier than ever, which is good for everyone, but he's finally come to the realization that he needs some help and he's meeting with some new lawyers, trying to see if he can find a perfect match for the firm, but two of the applicants could only fit in the interview tonight due to other arrangements.
Apparently, they were talking about a current case that's been bugging Phil and one of the applicants was very interested in helping out regardless of the hiring situation…or something, you know I tend to tune out your dad when he gets too excited."

This time, Isabel did break out into a grin, knowing full well that an excited Phil Evans was like a little kid in a candy store, something her mother had long lost her patience for. "I'll drop it off as quickly as I can. I'll be home no later than twelve."

Dianne smirked, "Nice try, Sweetie." She sent a mock-glare at Alex, who could undoubtedly feel her seriousness underneath and looked back somberly, "Have my daughter home no later than eleven."

"Yes, Ma'am." Alex nodded and Isabel groaned and hurried for the door, before her mother could delay them any further.

"Let's get this over with, so we can continue with our plans."

'It's only gonna be a few minutes, Isabel,' Alex thought out to her and Isabel nodded, getting into her mom's car as fast as she could.

"Yeah, you're right," Isabel answered, "in a few minutes, we'll finally have our alone time and all will be right with the world again."

0o0o0

The drive to her dad's office took about ten minutes, and Isabel all but jumped out of the car when she parked in front of the building. "I’ll only be a few minutes," she smiled at Alex, who remained seated. "If I don't take you with me, chances are we won't have to waste more time while parental unit number two questions your intentions. We're lucky enough that Mom was too preoccupied by teasing me tonight, you know."

"Yeah," Alex said, casually leaning back in the passenger's seat. "I'll wait right here. Don't worry about keeping me waiting, we've still got," he looked at his wristwatch with a grin dancing on his lips, "until eleven after all…"

"Shut up," Isabel laughed and shut the car door before turning to head inside to her dad's office.
A few minutes later, as she entered the small lobby that was the waiting area, Isabel felt the smile drain away as if it had never even been there when she heard a familiar voice. A voice that she'd had no idea was still so perfectly ingrained in her memory that she could recall every little nuance of it.

"Jesse." Isabel whispered softly, half-frozen between wanting to escape from the man she'd once called husband and run into his arms to just be held once more.

How can I feel like this? Isabel wondered, still trapped mid-movement, I love Alex! He's everything to me. I can't feel anything for Jesse anymore, I've already challenged his devotion to me with Kyle, I can't bring Jesse into it now. I-

"Izzie?" Her dad's voice broke through the rising panic Isabel was feeling and she looked up from the floor with a jolt, afraid of looking at the tall figure she sensed was standing beside him.

Despite her best efforts, Isabel's eyes slowly turned to lock with Jesse's dark ones, and she felt a wave of confused emotion crash over her, jumbled together with old love she'd avoided thinking about with all her might and guilt.

Oh my God, Isabel frowned, he looks so young. She eyed her husband-from-another-life and had a small epiphany. Holy— That sheepish smile, those friendly eyes, they're just like Alex's. I guess, I was looking for a part of him to love when he died and found it in Jesse. I can't believe I didn't realize that until now, I always thought they were nothing alike and that it was a good thing 'cause it proved that my love for Alex was just a child's love. I thought I loved Jesse for all the things he wasn't, and now I can immediately spot that I was wrong, I loved Jesse for how he subconsciously reminded me of my soul-mate.

"Izzie, don't be rude," her dad's voice broke through Isabel's frantic mind, and with great strength, she finally broke the stare she'd forced on Jesse and looked back over at her father.

"I'm sorry, I was just surprised to see someone so young interviewing for a job here in boring old Roswell, New Mexico, that's all."

Her dad's narrowed gaze told Isabel that her fib wasn't entirely believed, but fortunately they were not angrily suspicious as she clearly recalled them being in the last timeline before they'd been forced to let him know the truth with the Air Force and the F.B.I breathing down their necks.

Eventually, the Evans patriarch simply shook his head at her teasing and turned to Jesse and introduced her to him and vice versa. Jesse straightened up and walked over with his hand reached out. Judging from the way his eyes lingered at certain aspects of her body, Isabel knew he liked what he was seeing, and it did send a small rush of old memories filled with passion and fire down her spine. And yet, Isabel realized when she unceremoniously grabbed her once-husband's hand to shake and then calmly released it without any lingering effect, it was surprisingly easy to shake off the feelings and focus on the human boy waiting patiently outside in her mom's car.

"Nice to meet you," Jesse greeted, and Isabel smiled friendly enough before handing her dad the file that she was actually there to deliver.

"I hope your interview goes well," she muttered to Jesse, whose eyes dimmed with disappointment when she continued speaking clearer to her dad, "I'm gonna head off. Alex's waiting for me downstairs for our date."

Phil chuckled, "Well, I hope your night's gonna be fun, Honey, but not too fun. I'm much too young to be a grandpa, you know. Although, I'm sure Alex's not gonna give me any unwanted grey hairs, he's got a nice head on his shoulders that one. He's a good kid."

Isabel smiled and then forced herself to look back at Jesse with none of her old memories showing in her gaze. "Welcome to Roswell, and for what it's worth, I think you made a right decision in choosing my dad to work for. He's the best."

Jesse smiled, his disappointment from before nowhere to be seen. He'd clearly written her off as untouchable with Phil's praise of Alex and her own obvious happiness at the thought of the boy.
"Thanks, I think so too. It was nice meeting you, Isabel."

Mutely, Isabel just nodded and went over and kissed her dad's cheek before quickly leaving. A few minutes later, she arrived back outside and stopped mid-movement when she saw Alex casually waiting, leaning against the hood of the car and eyeing the entrance with an intense look in his eyes.

"H-Hi," Isabel said, hesitating to move closer under a fresh rush of guilt. Guilt that despite her heart's true desire to be with Alex, there had been a part of her, however small, that had truly delighted in seeing the man she'd chosen for a spouse in her other life.

Alex blinked, and the intensity from his eyes seemed to dim a little, pulled back by the will of his natural softness. "Whatever it is that has you so conflicted," he began, pushing himself off of the car to walk over to her, "don't worry, we'll work it out."

Smiling sadly, Isabel was about to give a generic answer of agreement, when Alex's large hands landed gently on her cheeks, tilting her head up a little. Clearly, he wasn't about to let her lie or wheedle her way out of an honest conversation.

"Isabel," his voice had an almost hypnotic effect on her, and the blonde time traveler found herself unable to blink or look away as their eyes locked, "Like I've said before, I'm not gonna leave – whatever it is, we'll work it out and when you're ready, I'll listen. Stop trying to protect me, and just be with me completely."

His lips twitched and broke the heavy air around them as he released her face after a quick caress, "In case you haven't noticed," Alex continued, "I'm not the same geek you first fell for. I'm capable of handling things beyond the terror of trying to avoid P.E."

Memories of the past that she'd traveled away from ran through Isabel's mind in a matter of seconds. She couldn't keep a smile from appearing on her face, when the image of her beloved Alex, lying dead, bloodied and frail inside that coroners van that she’d snuck into after Max couldn’t revive, was ever so slowly being erased by the present time Alex and his silent strength that seemed to envelope her in long sought after security and above all, love.

"I've noticed," Isabel whispered, leaning forward and pressing her lips against Alex's. A moment later, she drew back and stepped over to the driver's side of her mom's car. "Let's go, I was promised a first class date night and I intend to collect.”

Alex's grin was like a soothing balm over the wounds on Isabel's soul. Some of those wounds had been opened that night by the presence of Jesse, but there were no longer any lingering doubts about “what if's” in Isabel, she had finally gotten the one thing she'd defied death to get.

The one man she truly loved.

"Well, Miss Evans," Alex's voice brought her back to the now and Isabel watched him get inside the car before following quickly, "we Whitman's always deliver on our promises, you can count on that."

"Oh, I will," Isabel chuckled and started the engine to drive off to the long-awaited night they'd both looked so forward to.

Liz's POV

"Why don't you just sit her down and talk everything through?"

It was only Liz's undeniable love for the man she had once called her husband that stopped her from glaring over her naked shoulder at him as he made his way from the bathroom to the bed in the bedroom that had been given to them by Tess. It was a place that the two lovers had spent a lot of their free time in, getting comfortable with the fact that despite everything, they were united once more.

She did roll her eyes though.

"Do you even know Maria, Max?" Liz asked, wrapping her robe tighter against her as she stood up from the vanity and made her way over to the bed as well. They'd told their parents that Tess was having a co-ed sleepover and they'd been invited. In a way it was true, because at that point in time, Kyle was downstairs with Tess, regaling her with stories about the man his dad had been in the other timeline.

"I'd like to think so," replied Max with a small smile. Liz rolled her eyes again, this time with a fond smile dancing on her lips.

"I do know her more than anyone, perhaps except Michael. That's why I can honestly say, with deep love and affection in every word, Maria is a stubborn and vindictive girl, whose anger doesn't stop for anything. Not even me."

Max frowned and soothingly rubbed her shoulders, trying to take the tension away. "That's a bit harsh, don't you think? She's got a right to be angry, I'll admit that, but—"

"There's nothing wrong with Maria being angry at us, at me especially. She's right, you know, about everything really…" Liz's eyes dimmed with sadness and she twisted away from Max's hands, not willing to accept the comfort they provided.

"Right about what?" Max sounded confused as he leaned back against the headboard and just watched her with those dark eyes that seemed se see into her very soul.

"I'm not her friend anymore. I'm not Liz Parker, the paranoid girl trying to uncover secrets of the boy she not so secretly liked; I'm not the friend she knows she can lean on in times of need anymore. I'm the woman that died and came back, I'm the woman that instantly seemed to side with the aliens that she hadn't still one hundred percent understood. I'm the woman that completely attacked her for being what I'm not fully anymore, a sixteen year old girl. I'm mentally older than her mother. I'm not her best friend anymore."

Max smiled a soft little smile, and Liz felt the comfort she'd refused psychically go through their connection in a warm rush of pure relief. "Don't worry," he said, and Liz sighed while he continued, "I may not know Maria as well as you do, but I do know that neither of you can truly be mad at each other for long periods of time. You may not entirely remember this, Liz, but Maria died in the war by your side, following you into battle to save me. She knew the risks. She didn't have to go with you, she could've survived staying behind and lending strategic advice to the Unit, but she didn't. The thought of losing you was unbearable to her – she even used her powers on Michael to come to your side – deliberately, and you know how she hated those powers back then."

Liz frowned, lying down next to Max, thinking. I never knew that…

A moment later, Liz abruptly sat back up and all but jumped out of the bed. A few seconds later, she had redressed in her shirt and jeans, and was struggling with her shoes, jumping around on one foot in her hurry.

"What are you doing?"

To call Max's tone bemused was an understatement, and Liz sent him a smile as she balanced on one foot, finishing getting dressed. "I'm gonna go over to her and annoy her till she forgives me," Liz smiled beatifically, looking ever so innocent in the process, "it's what she would have done if the roles had been reversed."

"Really?"

"Yup, see you, love you, and don’t wait up!" And with that, Liz ran from the room, bouldering down the stairs and interrupting what looked like quite a heated moment between Tess and Kyle, who jumped away from each other like they had something to hide.

The look of mixed guilt and defensiveness in Kyle's eyes, managed to halt Liz in her tracks for a second. Impulsively, she walked over and hugged her childhood boyfriend fiercely, somehow knowing what his problem was.

"I know you love her, and I'm not going to ruin that, Kyle. She's not that person anymore; heck, she's one of my best friends and I never thought I'd say this, but I love the fact that you two are together."

And you won't have to pine unsuccessfully over Isabel any more, Liz continued silently, and, with a quick hug for a confused Tess, Liz left the Harding house to continue on with her self-appointed mission: Getting Maria back.

0o0o0

After making the necessary pit stop at the local supermarket for some much needed ice cream therapy, Liz now stood in front of the DeLuca home. Suddenly, she was feeling nervous and unsure.
What if it's all for nothing? What if she won't breach the gap between us no matter what I do?

In the midst of Liz's growing panic moment, the door she was standing in front abruptly opened and Maria's mom nearly collided with her before Liz had the forethought to actually move out of the way. She had to stomp down the instinct to ignite her old powers of deadly electricity, still not entirely used to them not being there.

"Oh, Liz! Hey, Honey," Amy DeLuca greeted cheerfully, her distracted mind seemingly only just noticing Liz. "It's been a while since I've seen you around these parts," she added with a questioning look in her eyes, "did you and Maria have a falling out?"

"Uh," Liz started, only to nod sheepishly when Amy's eyes traveled down to the ice-cream in her hands.

"Say no more," the mother smiled knowingly, "Ice-cream therapy…Well, I'm going to a job interview – someone's heard about my pies and may want me to cater their party, so…See you later, Sweetie."

And with that, and a quick peck on the cheek, Amy vanished as quickly as she'd come, leaving Liz to stare at the still half-open front door that the other brunette had left behind in her hurry.

Well, Liz thought, straightening her shoulders, here goes nothing

Liz walked through the door and closed it quietly behind her, before making her way into Maria's room, where the blonde was busy doing what looked like her math homework.

"Hi," Liz decided to be proactive, before Maria looked up and spotted her staring at her. They had enough issues without needing to add to it by Maria thinking she was creepy too.

Judging from the epic glare the other girl sent her way, she didn't even seem to think about that.
"I didn't invite you," Maria's tone was bland, albeit cold and it was the coldness that got to Liz more than anything. Maria was a lot of things, but cold wasn't one of them.

"Maria," Liz began, suddenly stumped as to what to do next. Her initial plan to get them talking over ice cream seemed juvenile and naïve all of the sudden, but it was all she had. "I…Can we talk?" She lifted the ice cream in her hand, "I've got your favorite…"

"I'm not hungry." Maria's eyes lingered a little too long at the chocolate goodness in her arms for Liz to believe it to be completely truthful.

"Well, I guess I'll just go eat it all by myself, maybe put a scoop over one of your mom's banana cream pies that I know she always has in the fridge."

"Fine," Maria huffed, jumping to her feet, "I'll get the bowls, you get the spoons."

Five minutes later, found the two women sitting in the small kitchen, eyeing each other closely with each of their own bowl of deliciously melting ice cream.

"I know you're mad," Liz finally began after another couple of minutes with heavy silence and wary glances. "You've got every right to be, but at the same time I want you to know that I'm not sorry for what I did. But," she held up her hand with the spoon in it to emphasize her point, "I'm sorry for letting you down."

Maria frowned," If you're not here to apologize for your little ‘You're such a child,’ intervention, what are you even doing here in the first place? I'm not really interested in hearing your reasons right now, whenever I think about it, I still want to beat you with my hairbrush or something along those lines."

Liz smiled a sad smile and pushed her bowl aside and leaned forward a bit, "I'm sorry for letting my old self take over when it comes to our friendship. To be honest, Maria this whole coming back thing hasn't exactly been easy for me either."

Maria rolled her eyes, and one tiny spark of annoyance began to glow inside of Liz. I always hated how she gets on her high horse during fights and won't listen to reason until she's had me groveling just long enough to make me feel humiliated

"Look," Liz sighed, sidelined her irritation with the knowledge that Maria was more than likely feeling the same thing. "Believe me, don't believe me, but I know it's been difficult—"

"To me it seems like the only thing that's been difficult for you is separating yourself from Max Evans long enough to look the part of an independent girl with big dreams of college and living the dream."

"Maria," Liz began, her own tone taking on an edge of anger that the blonde didn't hesitate to pick up on.

"Don't, "Maria", me, Liz. You have no idea how I feel. Over the last couple of months things have gone weird beyond belief, I've fallen in love with an alien with a truckload of issues that I've only recently started to figure out and I had to watch the one person in the world I trusted more than anyone get her throat slit and walk away from that unharmed, yet different. Ever since that day in the desert fighting the Skins and whatever, you've never once stopped looking at me like a child. To top it all off, I was ambushed by my closest friends on your say so and ended up talking to an anorexic, and suicidal-looking, version of myself that was the only one that ever told me the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And then you have the gall to sit there and tell me you're not even the least bit sorry! Get out, Liz!"

Liz felt horrified, saddened that her actions had brought about such a change in their lifelong friendship. And I can't put the blame anywhere else than at my own feet, Liz realized as she stood up, halfway tempted to just sit down on the floor and wail like the child Maria thought she saw her as.

In the end, Liz did the only thing she could. She spoke from her heart, tears beginning to well up in her eyes at the thought of ending the friendship that had carried her through more than a few rough times in her life.

"I know you think I'm horrible," she began softly, unable to look away from the angry gaze Maria kept fixated on her, "and I know I could've handled things better, but what you don't understand is that no matter what you think, I'm scared. Scared of being here in a body that rightfully belongs to another part of me. I'm so scared of losing you that I ended up pushing you away without even realizing that I did it and yeah," Liz ran a hand through her hair in frustration, "I'm not sorry that my decision to force you back into the fold or whatever you want to call it, got you to finally realize what's been going on, I do regret the way it all played out, but despite what you seem to think, Maria, I'm not perfect, and I don't know everything! I can make mistakes just like anyone else."

Maria looked frozen as Liz stood immobile in front of her sitting form, desperately fighting away tears that seemed to want to keep coming. A minute with heavy silence passed before the blonde finally stood up herself.

"We need to agree that what you did, no - how you did what you did, was wrong."
Liz frowned, not quite getting her friend's words at first. Maria didn't notice, continuing on quietly with an unusually somber expression on her face.

"I'm tired of being angry at you, Liz. I'm not saying I've forgiven you, and it's going to be a while before we'll get back what we've lost, if ever...But," Maria added when Liz looked away, too sad to handle any more eye contact. "But, I'm willing to sit down and talk it out, try to figure out how to mend things a little so I'm not so goddamned angry and hurt whenever I look at you. You will have to sit there and listen to what I say without judging me, without jumping in with excuses and demands, because this will be about my feelings, all of them mixed with a huge dose of teenage angst too. Can you handle that? Are you willing to listen to me long enough so we can rebuild our friendship on this new Czechoslovakian reality of ours?"

Liz sighed, her tears drying on her cheeks as she looked back up at Maria. "It's gonna take a while."

Maria's lips twitched, "It's gonna get ugly."

"And probably loud," Liz continued and made Maria break into the first honest smile she'd seen since ambushing her in Michael's apartment.

"It's going to require more ice-cream," Maria said, nodding at the melting pile in the bowls that had remained basically untouched since being scooped in there.

Without a word, Liz took out her phone and called Max to go on an ice-cream errand for her, and hung up with a quick, "I love you," before looking over at Maria with a smile of her own when the blonde simply rolled her eyes.

"That boy is so whipped that he makes the rest of the male population look bad..."

Liz smiled, as she always did when her thoughts wandered to Max, and Maria chuckled softly, for the moment keeping a temporary truce until Max came and delivered the requested ice-cream and left.

Fifteen minutes later, both young women once again sat in front of each other, looking serious.
Maria took a deep breath and Liz tried not to hold hers when her friend started speaking. "I guess you could say that I've been avoiding you because every time I look at you I'm reminded that my Liz is gone for good and..."

Max's POV

It was early evening and the group was all gathered in the Crash. Maria, Isabel and Liz were all off duty for once at the same time and they'd decided to get the rest of them together for a unofficial celebratory dinner, marking the one year mark since Max, Isabel and Michael had come back in time to change things from pure disaster to peace.

I can't believe it's been a year already, Max thought, eyeing Liz, who was smiling widely at Maria, who was busy exclaiming something or other about something no doubt teasingly offensive that Michael had put her through during their date the night before.

It had taken time and a lot of effort between Liz and Maria before they could honestly say that their friendship was repaired. There was a lot of yelling, crying and on one occasion even a little hair pulling before they'd mended things enough to finally put everything behind them enough to look forward to the future instead, and none were happier for them then Max and Michael, who felt they could relax again.

At long last we can all just enjoy being together and alive and out of danger, Max thought to himself, reluctantly looking away from his fiancé of just two weeks. He still wasn't used to them being officially engaged, especially since Liz's dad, Jeff had had no issues whatsoever with them being together this time around.

Isabel’s loud belly laugh interrupted his thoughts, and Max looked at his sister, whose genuine happiness seemed to radiate from her entire being. She was sitting next to Alex, who echoed her joy. The two of them had had their ups and downs, Alex's powers making their arguments all the more hard for them to get through. Now though, both of them seemed to have found their niche and Isabel had foregone early graduation this time around to spend as much time with Alex, centering him in ways none of the rest of them could even hope to achieve.

Max frowned a little when he recalled how Isabel's continued ambivalence in regards to the Phoenix kids had brought Alex storming into Max's room, threatening him with angry eyes and choking powers to stop upsetting her. It had taken Max's own considerable strength to stop the tall human from doing something he'd regret.

The thought of the Phoenix kids brought Serena to the forefront of Max's mind, and he couldn't stop himself from feeling a fleeting stab of pain that got Liz's attention, as well as Alex's. His smile and sheepish shrug soon distracted them, and they looked back to the one they'd been talking to.

I've done what she wanted, Max recalled the kids that Michael, Kyle, Tess and he had travelled all across the country to heal during the last few months under the disguise of going to look at colleges. Serena wanted her friends saved and it's finally done now. Sydney was the last one and with the help of Tess none of them remembered anything other than a fuzzy dream that will get them to call me if their powers show.

Max ignored the voice inside of him that changed the ‘if’ to ‘when’ and took a bite of his tabasco infused chocolate cake with all of the appetite of the teenage male he was once more.

“You okay?” Kyle’s voice broke through Max’s thoughts and he looked over at one of the humans they’d travelled for in the first place.

“Yeah, just thinking about how happy I am that we succeeded in our mission to change things, you know.” As soon as he said it, Max realized that he wasn’t even lying – as an undercurrent the thoughts kept swirling in his mind, bringing up the differences they’d caused.

Some were expected and some weren’t, Max smiled wryly and turned more fully to Kyle, when he laughed out, “Yeah, I’m happier now than I’d ever imagined that I’d be. Especially since if you hadn’t come back here last year, yours truly would still be six feet under…Or floating in microforms in the sky since I was kinda blown to pieces.”

“Kyle,” Tess’ stern tone of voice made the human flinch a little, and Max smiled when the blonde hybrid tore into him for even mentioning the way he’d died, apparently they’d agreed never to think about it again.

That is definitely one of the most unexpected things to have changed, Max decided fondly, his old memories of the harm his once-upon-a-time-wife had caused all but erased in the face of the smiling, caring and above all in love girl she’d become.

Tess had completed her transition into being a true part of the Royal Four, her powers ending up doing as her other self had once claimed; strengthening them all. Her relationship with Kyle grounded them both in ways neither – or anyone else – had anticipated. There had been a few issues with getting the Sheriff to accept the fact that his child had basically lived in his girlfriend’s house, but somehow Tess had worked her magic and the Sheriff was content with them as well.

Well, Max amended, looking away to gaze at Michael, who was grinning uncharacteristically wide at Liz, who seemed to be getting teased mercilessly by Maria. As long as Kyle keeps up the pretense of actually sleeping at his childhood home now and again…

Michael broke off his laugh when he seemed to feel Max’s eyes on him, and the two childhood friends locked eyes for a brief moment before the larger hybrid refocused on Maria and Liz. There was a sense of tiredness shining through Michael, and Max knew it was because of the news he’d received only three weeks earlier.

Hank had passed away. Though, not due to his drinking problem. He’d successfully quit drinking, and had been doing his damndest to make amends to the kid he’d neglected and abused, and Michael had, if not forgiven him, than at least had been working on doing that, hanging out with his foster dad, helping him fix up the trailer they’d both pretty much abandoned after Hank had gone away to rehab.

And then he ends up redeeming himself in ways none would ever have imagined, Max thought.

Hank had been leaving a job interview, about to get into his beat up truck, when a kid had run into the main road, tripping on her shoelaces. Minutes later, Hank lay dead and broken by the side of the road, having run out in front of an incoming van and pushed the child out of harm’s way of what had later been revealed to be a drunk driver.

Max swallowed a lump when when he remembered Michael’s face when receiving the news. He’d never in a million years expected anyone to grieve for Hank, let alone Michael, but his friend had gone deathly pale when he’d gotten the news and had wandered off to process it. In the end, it had only been Maria’s closeness and silent support that got him back to himself.

I guess planning a funeral catapulted a lot of memories back into the front of his mind on top of everything – it’s been tough on him, Max thought with sympathy.

‘What are you thinking about that’s making you look and feel so glum?’ Liz’s voice in his head surprised him, and he looked over at her to see her looking gently at him.

‘Hank…Serena, the Unit, you know the usual’.

‘Stop being so solemn,’ Liz ordered with a soft smile in his direction as Maria tried to get her attention, ‘things are far better than they were at the same time in the original timeline, so instead of focusing so much on the bad stuff, be grateful for the successes.’

‘I am,’ Max replied, sending a hint of exasperation through their bond. Liz was adamant in trying to get everyone happy, casting off the shackles of their brutal past as quickly as possible.

‘There’s something else though,’ Liz’s eyes met his, and like always, Max had a hard time omitting anything from her.

‘I’m just a little bit worried despite all we’ve accomplished. I guess it’s a habit that’s gonna be hard to let go off. I still have a lot to process.’

Liz’s expression took on a serious edge, and in that moment, she looked eerily like the woman she was on the inside and not the carefree teenager she was trying to be. ‘You’re still thinking about what we talked about the other night, about my theory?’

‘It’s been on my mind, yeah,’ Max admitted, looking away from those brown eyes that didn’t need a bond to look into his very soul.

‘Oh, Max,’ Liz s sigh was more mental than physical, and Max felt a little sheepish about his obsessive behavior. ‘Let it go, Max, it’s not going to affect us. In fact, I’d say it’ a good thing, you know.’

Max smiled and mentally agreed, knowing that she was right. He decided to stop thinking and just enjoy their evening with their friends. It was harder than he really wanted to admit and after a few minutes, Max stood up to go to the restroom and clear his head fully.

“Where are you going, Maxwell?” Michael’s question brought a momentary hush at the table with it, and Max rolled his eyes as he pointed to the restroom. That in turn kick started the conversations back up and Max quietly walked the short distance and locked the door behind him with a sigh.

He looked at himself in the mirror, something he still wasn’t that fond of, the reflective image of his younger, and arguably more innocent self stared back at him with eyes that had seen too much.

Why can’t you just stop thinking?” Max asked himself. Even as he asked himself that question the memory of Liz revealing her knowledge of why she and Kyle were remembering the previous timeline, and even more surprisingly her theory on the sudden power increase the time travelers, and him in particular, had gained from their jump through time.

He couldn’t remember how the conversation even got started, but he’d been sitting with Liz on her terrace, looking at the stars for a science project in school they both knew they’d ace without really trying and thus simply enjoyed a way to spend official time together.

One thing led to another and all of the sudden she’d blurted out that she knew why their memories were back. Apparently, she and Serena had dug a little deeper into the book that Tess had killed Alex to translate – except with Serena there, they were reading the original and not the translated bundle of papers.

“The bond between us couples is so rare that the book devoted a whole chapter to it,” Liz told him with wide eyes, “even on Antar it’s seen as something sacred and something all couples should aspire too. The bond between us never ends, which is probably why Kyle and Tess and Isabel and Alex got together so abruptly when you returned, the bonds reaching out through dimensions to reconnect or something.”

When Max had frowned and asked her to elaborate about the memories specifically, Liz had shrugged and explained plainly, “From what I found out with Serena’s help, our souls are sort of locked together the moment they connect, meaning that if one leaves the other follows and tries to restore balance. So…” Liz shrugged again, scribbling something on her notepad as she spoke again, “it would need a foundation though to come through like it’s done with Kyle and I, danger, fear and love fueling the instinct to come together again, coupled with power.”

Max hadn’t gotten a chance to ask what she meant, before Liz explained further, “Power was never an issue. When we came here our souls were still in our younger bodies and they merged and that means we’ve got power times two this time around and that made it easier for our older souls’ memories to return to their rightful owner…I still don’t know how Maria’s fighting it off, maybe her soul remembers the fear of her future power and refuses to grant the memories access to her younger self, or something, I don’t know…”

A knock on the restroom door interrupted Max, and he quickly splashed some cold water on his face and opened up the door with a smile.

“Max,” Alex stood in front of him with a raised brow, “I’m begging you to stop thinking so much, my friend. You’re infecting Liz, who’s bumming Maria out and that means Michael and so on.”

“Sorry,” Max grinned apologetically, sending another dose of loving apologies through the bond to Liz, “I’m good now.”

A moment later, both men had arrived back at the booth and their friends. Out of the corner of his eye, Max noticed that Liz was on the phone and turned to look at a silently smiling Isabel and Michael.

“What?” He asked and both of them looked at him, still not losing their smiles. “What is it?” He asked again, trying not to sound too annoyed.

“We talked about it over the last year, when you weren’t around,” Isabel began and Michael took over.
“We decided we never really thanked you, and we wanna do that now, on this anniversary.”

“Thank me for what?” the annoyance was quickly being replaced with confusion, and Max eyed his two fellow travelers.

“It was your idea that catapulted this whole thing.” Michael said, while Isabel nodded with tears in her eyes. “If you hadn’t known the thing about using the Granolith for time travel, we’d probably be dead by now. Hell, I have no doubt I’d prefer being dead over going back to that place.”

“Yeah,” Isabel leaned over and embraced her brother forcefully, “we would’ve died in that damn cave if you hadn’t gotten the idea, and this life is so much better now. I’ve never been happier and I know you two feel the same way.”

Michael nodded without hesitation and slapped Max on the shoulder, evidently still not as touchy-feely as the female hybrid was. “Yeah, so thanks.”

Max had to blink a little extra for a few seconds, feeling touched beyond belief. “I couldn’t have done any of it alone, you know. Without you two by my side, I would’ve given up the second Liz died. Nothing else could inspire me to fight as much as trying to save the last of my family, hoping for a better outcome. So thanks right back at you. And I’d do it all over again.”

The trio smiled at each other, and Max felt a serene sensation wash over him. The war may not be over on Antar, Khivar could ignore his warnings and still try to come after them, but none of that mattered in that moment. They were all here and alive, and by all he held dear, Max was willing to fight for it to stay that way.

But luckily, he thought leaning back in his seat with a contented sigh, there’s no sign of trouble at the moment, every one of us is happier now than we were a year ago, and overall things seem peaceful. I could get used to that.

Liz called his name, and Max broke out of his self-contented state of mind to look over at his fiancé, who was holding her cell phone out to him. “It’s Grandma Claudia,” she explained, looking a little mischievous, “she wants to talk to you.”

Feeling a little apprehensive, Max took the phone and held it to his ear. “Good evening, Mrs. Parker.”

“Hiya Honey,” Claudia southern accented voice sounded in his ear, “I just wanted to talk to ya and once more thank you for fixing up my ticker last year, it’s still doing fine. My doctor thinks of me as his miracle client, and even let me eat red meat again, so thanks.”

“Err…You’re welcome,” Max answered, confused and pleased at the same time. “Glad to hear things are going good.”

“Well, about that – there is something important I want to ask ya.” Claudia’s tone changed became a little sterner, and Max could easily imagine the small woman performing civil arrests with her strong personality alone as back-up.

In the next second, Max’s jaw dropped and his eyes sought out Liz’s, who were smiling teasingly at him, probably already having heard her grandma’s dilemma.

“Mind telling me, why I heard my cat cussing out the neighbor’s dog just now?”

THE END…
--------------------------------------

A/N So, I hope this entertained most of you, I know some will absolutely hate it, but I think it needed to end on a funny note:D I've loved writing this, I've felt so included in the Roswell community where people have welcomed me with open arms and smiles. I love you all and thank you for giving me a chance and responding so well to my crazy ideas. I love that I ended up being original in this massive fandom with a few of my twists (Serena, the Phoenix kids *cough*).
Thank you so much, it's been an experience I wouldn't have missed for the world!

Until whenever
Ditte Mai

In case you're wondering: Courtney found a usable husk, aided by Max and Michael to make it fit perfectly. She now travels the world to make sure none of Khivar's men remain. Nasedo and his fellow Antarian Langley live in L.A. more or less in peace, fighting each other more than anything. Nasedo's plans derailed he's had to actually come to terms to live on earth for once.

The would-have-been alien hunter couple from the shooting, the mindwarp worked- End of story. They are now married and expecting.
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