The Rebel *Sequel* (CC ALL, YTEEN) Ch. 26 - pg. 19 - 12 / 9 / 20

This is the place to post all your General Roswell fanfiction. Any Canon fics, which pick up directly from any episode of the show and that focus on Max/Liz, Michael/Maria, Isabel/Alex or Isabel/Jesse, Kyle/Tess, or all the couples together! Rule of Thumb: If Max healed Liz in the Crashdown in September 1999, then your fic belongs here. If it picks up from the show in any way, it belongs here.

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Re: The Rebel *Sequel* (CC ALL, YTEEN) Ch. 21 - pg. 17 - 7 / 17 / 20

Post by xmag » Fri Jul 17, 2020 5:34 am

I'm still not close to know for sure who is going to rule Antar, Max or Van. BUT... but Van and Max can agree on who is the best for Antar. That's what matters, right? Not who is the rightful heir, Max or Van, but who is the better ruler for Antar. But what might indicates that Max and co will stay on Earth is Isabel's fate. Her betraying her brother for Khivar is known and she is a war criminal. Even if she is forgiven officially, would Max and co risk going back to Antar ? What if an angry antarian decides to attack Isabel, only seeing Vilandra in her?

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Re: The Rebel *Sequel* (CC ALL, YTEEN) Ch. 21 - pg. 17 - 7 / 17 / 20

Post by clueless » Wed Jul 22, 2020 8:58 pm

So glad to have you back! I’m finally caught up and can’t wait for more!!

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Re: The Rebel *Sequel* (CC ALL, YTEEN) Ch. 21 - pg. 17 - 7 / 17 / 20

Post by Misha » Sat Aug 01, 2020 8:02 pm

xmag, although I've known since the beginning who will rule Antar in the end, it's been an incredibly interesting road getting there :mrgreen:

cluless, I'm glad you're back, too!

Let's see a bit more from our shifters before I throw them right back into chaos again 8)

Part 22: The Heart of the Matter
October 2005 – The Compound

1 : Shade

The first time Shade saw a photograph of Zan, he thought he had the wrong image. After all, cloning meant being the same, looking the same, so he felt thoroughly deceived by the Antarian-alien being he’d trained so hard to protect.

He’s not Zan, he’d told Luke, ready for an explanation.

He’s Zan where it counts, Luke had answered, signaling his head—and then his heart.

And so, it was with those expectations in mind that Shade watched Zan in the flesh for the first time, carefully hidden in the car his Majesty was about to drive. The General was coming, too, but Shade’s disappointment that he also didn’t look like himself had long passed.

Thankfully, Vilandra was not part of this trip.

Shade was an odd shifter among shifters: he preferred to be on a wall somewhere than walking around. When he’d been told to choose an identity, a human persona to fall back to, he’d spent countless hours picking something that was both appropriate and menacing. At some point, he’d made sure he couldn’t choose to be a dog—a big, scary one, with enormous canines and four legs for speed.

He’d been denied.

But that was how Shade’s mind worked. He had no desire to talk to others and being seen and found it bothersome that people expected him to want a normal Antarian life. He was a shapeshifter who loved to shift. It just so happened he didn’t love to shift into people.

Through the years, he’d spent his time honing his skills to be invisible no matter where, until the only challenges he had were inside the Royal Palace. And in those exercises, he’d come to know Khivar really well. All those private meetings, all those late calls from his army, every single report that came to his desk. What had started as training sessions in stealth, had become a de facto espionage spree.

By the time he’d seen enough, he knew exactly where to go: The Rebellion. But Shade was not stupid. He’d done to Van and Luke what he’d done to Khivar: wait and watch. He gathered information for months, looking for the elusive Van, who everyone whispered was more than the head of the Rebellion, but hardly anyone knew exactly what.

It was a testament to how effective Luke’s security measures were that it had taken Shade the better part of two years to figure out where Van was. And another year to realize Van’s title also included Second in Line to the Throne.

Once Shade had known where Van was, he’d been there day and night, often moving through the ceilings and vents of the dark places where the Rebels dwelled. With time, enough shifters were in the Rebellion that it became a problem to get past them. Shifters gave a vibe to each other that was hard to conceal but not impossible.

Once he was satisfied with his intel, Shade had gone to the archives to look for the real Zan. Khivar painted him as a lunatic that had sought to destroy the natural way of things. The Rebellion painted him like a golden savior who had died too young and had defied death itself for Antar. Shade knew neither of those narratives was true, but if he was going to risk his life for either side, he needed to know who Zan had been.

He’d found his answers buried deep on the fourth planet of the Allegiance. Although Larek had been the closest friend to Zan, Shade knew the man was too politically correct to have data about the king laying around. So, he’d gone to Kathana’s Archives, which had the best-preserved records of the Allegiance’s history that one could hope for.

Digital records had been censored—the Archives did not erase anything—but the printed ones were available if one knew where to look and who to bribe.

Zan had been an idiot, Shade concluded after months of reading and piecing things together. Still, he could see how Khivar had wormed itself in until he’d taken everything away. Zan had been an idiot, yes, but one worth following.

He’d arrived with Van armed with a plethora of multiple sources and information that had impressed the Rebels’ leader. Though Van would tell him later that Shade’s skill to bypass Luke had sealed the deal.

If you can get this close to me, then you’re more than capable of defending Zan.

Eventually, Shade’s preparation landed him exactly where he wanted to be: directly in this new Zan’s life.

Are you the real Zan or just a distant echo? Shade wondered as Zan started the car. This was the first time he would get to see and hear both Zan and Rath together—but it would be far from the last.

“I got another flash,” Zan said, serious.

“Yeah, me too,” Rath answered, with the sort of sigh that spoke of annoyance and trouble. “They’re becoming more frequent now. Lasting longer, too.”

Zan nodded. Behind him, Shade looked carefully at his face. Maybe Zan was not there yet, but maybe, just maybe, it was only a matter of time.

2: Ash
Berlin - 2007

“I can’t go back to Van and tell him Zan is ‘conflicted’ whatever the hell that means,” Luke said with evident frustration as Ash gave his report over the phone. They had been watching Zan, Rath, and Vilandra for almost two years now. Although encouraging for the most part, Ash’s final words were not exactly what Van wanted to hear. It was up to Luke how he wanted to deliver the news, though.

“To be honest, we only know what they say to each other. What they think or how much they remember, they just keep it to themselves. Until Van doesn’t sit down with Max, we won’t know for sure how successful the process was.”

A deep sigh met his words. “At least he’s not an idiot, right?” Luke asked, almost in desperation.

“Far from it. Sometimes…sometimes when he’s talking with Rath, you can see Zan’s way of thinking shining through. Vilandra has taken to international politics in the way she never did back home, and she’s making Zan interested, as well.”

“How ironic she’s finally taking an interest in what used to be her only job.” A paused. “Is she conflicted, too?”

“Yes,” Ash sincerely said. “She’s deeply ashamed, that much is clear from their conversations. If anything, she thinks of herself as Vilandra far more than Zan or Rath do.”

“Good. Until all this mess is sorted out, at least some measure of justice is being served. Keep looking for clues, Ash. Van cannot be deceived. Either Zan survived, or he didn’t, and the Rebellion needs to plan for either outcome.”

Luke hung up, leaving unease in the shapeshifter’s mind. When Ash had first arrived, he’d been so honored and so proud of being part of the Invisible Guard. He’d been sure Zan had survived and would gladly and dutifully choose to go back to Antar. Nowadays, he was—of all things—conflicted.

He’d once told Violet that they didn’t own this Zan any loyalties. That once this mission was over, they could choose to go back to Antar and keep fighting or stay here on Earth and live the life they deserved: free. But those words meant that Ash’s heart was not on guarding Zan, but in judging Zan. He was not looking for good news, but for bad ones. For every flaw, every confirmation that Max was not the king they wanted.

And every day he found proof of both things: Zan was there but so was Max. It was the same with Rath and Vilandra. The three of them danced this complicated waltz between each other and their significant others, always afraid of missing the beat and stepping on everybody’s toes.

He could not tell Van that Zan was dead any more than he could say to him that his brother was ready to go home. And as long as Zan was stuck, so was the Rebellion.

So, he kept watching, waiting for a definitive sign. One that could very well never show up.

3: Violet
2007 – Amsterdam

“I was so sure he was going to tell her!” Jade said for the hundredth time, exasperated. For some reason Violet couldn’t really understand, her colleague had deeply invested himself in Max and Liz’s relationship. It killed him to know that Max was still concealing his memories of Zan as if it were a personal offense against one Liz Parker. “Why does he keep stalling? Why?” Jade asked her, with big sad eyes.

“Because he doesn’t know the answer himself,” Violet said, shrugging. “We know he has regained a significant part of his memories as Zan, but he never makes the switch. And maybe he never will.”

And until he does, I refuse to call him Zan, she privately thought. Max Evans might have the Seal, but he was no Antarian King. His days were not spent thinking about Antarian politics and how to lift his world out of an interplanetary war. As far as she could see, Max’s interest in Zan’s life was more like a scholar’s than someone who intended to learn these lessons to use them as a better informed and far more skilled Zan.

“Liz deserves to know. He deserves to share this burden.”

“I wish we knew what exactly happened between them when Queen Ava was here,” Violet said with a sigh. It bothered her that this planet had already changed Zan’s and Ava’s relationship to the point she’d betrayed him. The Ava from their records would have died for Zan. The Ava Violet had met in Antar a few years back hardly acted like the one from legend.

“Maybe we could ask Dave,” Jet said, suddenly shifting between them. With Max and Liz safely tucked in their hotel room, it gave them time to talk to each other without being in the move. “Clearly, Max is afraid of something bad happening if Liz finds out about his memories. I’m not saying it has to do with Ava, but it can’t be good to remember you used to have a loving wife.”

“But she knows that!” Jade pointed out. “She knows about his destiny, his heritage, the reason why he was created, and she still doesn’t care. Max is just—he’s just—”

“Stalling,” both Jet and Violet said, a recurrent phrase Jade was stuck with.

“Why does this bother you so much?” Violet asked exasperated. “You shouldn’t wish for their everlasting love. When the time comes to leave, they’re both going to be broken-hearted.”

“Or if he doesn’t leave,” Jet said, “then the fact that they chose their selfish love over an entire planet is going to hang over their heads for the rest of their lives.”

Jade looked at them as if they had slapped him. He shook his head. “They’ll find a way. But it will only work if Max tells her the truth, so they can work on this together.”

“Or the General can rule,” Shade said out of the blue, spooking all three of them. Shade rarely voiced any opinions concerning his Majesty’s current love life. Besides, he preferred to spend his downtime exploring the Earth rather than talking.

Jade frowned. “Rath has no claim to the throne without his marriage to Vilandra. And Vilandra will never rule Antar, anyway.”

“Legalities and bloodlines aside,” Jet said, “Rath would be a clever choice.”

“The Rebels wanted him,” Shade said, narrowing his eyes at some memory. “When Khivar was gaining popularity, and Zan was making glaring mistakes to follow his vision, they went to Rath to offer him their loyalties.”

“I’ve heard rumors about it,” Violet said, crossing her arms. “Supposedly, Rath personally threw the guy out of the palace.”

Shade nodded. “But he didn’t put him in prison. Which meant Rath didn’t believe they were entirely wrong, just misguided.”

“It would be an entirely different mission if we were guarding Rath and Maria,” Violet said with a chuckle.

“I bet he hasn’t told her either,” Jade said in a dark mood.

“Well, the General is in the exact same position as Zan is,” Shade pointed out. “They both have to choose between their human lives and their Antarian lives. They both have set themselves up for heartache.”

“Which brings me back to my first question,” Violet said, turning to look at Jade, “Why do you care so much if Max tells Liz or not?”

“Because they deserve it. Zan, Liz, Rath—all of them. All we’ve seen our entire lives is war. War and suffering and enslavement. I want to live in a world where I know that happily ever afters are possible. That they trust each other unconditionally.”

“Earth has made you soft,” Jet muttered.

Violet shook her head. “But if he gets his happily ever after, then what happens to us? What happens to this? We were not sent here to guard a civilian, Jade. We guard him because he will decide our future. And our future doesn’t care about Liz’s heart—or Zan’s for that matter. Or yours.”

“If we’re not fighting for anyone’s heart,” Jade quietly said, “then why are we fighting at all?”

He melted away before anyone could answer.
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Re: The Rebel *Sequel* (CC ALL, YTEEN) Ch. 22 - pg. 18 - 8 / 1 / 20

Post by xmag » Sun Aug 02, 2020 3:48 am

Hmm, this shows some division between the shifters, I wonder if it will come into play later on? They all have their ideas on Zan and the future so their opinions could play a part in how they react to him or the danger he or Liz are in. Or even Michael and Maria, since one of the shifters remembers the Rath followers.

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Re: The Rebel *Sequel* (CC ALL, YTEEN) Ch. 22 - pg. 18 - 8 / 1 / 20

Post by keepsmiling7 » Sun Aug 02, 2020 9:00 am

Will Zan make the switch after regaining memories.....???
Thanks for the update.

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Re: The Rebel *Sequel* (CC ALL, YTEEN) Ch. 22 - pg. 18 - 8 / 1 / 20

Post by Misha » Sun Aug 23, 2020 2:03 pm

xmag, I think the shifters' opinions represent how many things everyone expects from Zan. That no matter what Max decides, someone is always going to want something else :roll:

keepsmiling7, still a few more chapters to go before the Max-Zan questions is settled :twisted:

To everybody else reading, I hope you're enjoying the story so far. I would love to hear what your thoughts are, and what do you think Max should decide: does he stay or does he leave? What's best for Antar?

Part 23: On The Road
November 2nd, 2011 - New York

1 : Jake

“As I told you, Dave didn’t tell me a thing,” Jake sincerely said while Langley took the wheel, and Jet turned from the front seat to make sure Van was unharmed. “Dave kept the whole deal secret until last week, but then he wanted to know if I had any insights on what Max might choose, so he finally told me.”

“Someone still betrayed us today,” Van said, perfectly still on the backseat they were sharing.

“How much time do we have till they know we escaped?” Jet asked Langley looking intently at Van’s eyes, willing his sight to come back. Even Van could probably feel his anxiety.

“A few more minutes,” Langley said. “McKay will find out that Max is not in custody and will figure out it was all a ruse. I don’t like that he wasn’t prepared to deal with shifters. He’s not an idiot.”

“No, he’s not,” Jake agreed. The man who haunted his dreams was anything but an idiot. “You think he’s letting us go on purpose?”

“Maybe. We’ll take the long way to headquarters to make sure we’re not having any tails.”

The thing about Langley was that Jake had a good idea of what he could do. The black sedan the Unit had given them was no longer black, for one, and Langley had scanned it to make sure no tracking devices were attached. But beyond the extent of his powers, Jake had no idea who Langley was or what history he had with Dave, Van, or Max.

“Here, can you—clean him up?” Jet asked as he found a bottle of water and a few discarded napkins and handed them to Jake. It was certainly upsetting to see Van’s face smeared with real blood.

“Of course,” Jake said. “Where are you bleeding, exactly?” he asked Van while inspecting him closely. Van didn’t move.

“It’s a small cut,” he said, raising his hand. “It’s nothing to worry about,” he added a bit louder, probably wanting Jet to hear that, too. “I’m far more interested in your answer, actually.”

“What answer?” Jake asked, pouring water on Van’s hand first. He tensed. Not used to being touched, are you? Jake wondered.

“The one you gave Dave. What do you think Max is going to choose?”

Jake froze. Seven years of talks with Max came to his mind at once. The fear of the unknown, the need for control, and the sense that he was losing himself.

“He’s not going to play games, for one,” Jake answered as he wiped dried blood out of Van’s fingers. “He’ll decide to be true to his heart. That’s why I was so angry at Dave. He’s been trying to walk Max through life without giving him the benefit of the doubt. For some reason, he thought Max is incapable of making his own decisions, no matter who wants what.”

“He certainly has Zan’s stubbornness,” Langley said. “We could have done without that trait when we cloned him,” he added as an afterthought.

A ghost of a smile graced Van’s lips. “You know my brother in a way I can only wish for. You Guarded him when he was a ruler, and you trained him when he was an outcast.”

“He’s certainly had a couple of interesting lives,” Jake said. “I’ll clean your face now,” he added before pressing the wet napkin to his cheek. “You’re having quite the day, as well.”

“It’s the most important day of my life.”

There was such deference, such longing in Van’s voice that Jake sincerely hoped Zan had survived to meet his little brother. Max, on the other hand, was probably not as thrilled to have a living reminder of his alien donor. After all, Van represented everything Max wanted to forget: another planet, a royal status, and a life away from Liz.

“You’ve already talked to Max,” Jake said, taking one last look at his work. At least Van didn’t look like a late Halloween trick-or-treater anymore. “What do you think about him?”

Did he pass your test or not?

“He had questions, as I expected. He also fainted, which prompted us to move him to headquarters. As I told you earlier, something’s not right with Zan today, he admitted as much.”

Langley looked at Jake over the rearview mirror, and then glanced at Jet, who nodded.

“It can’t be coincidence everyone’s landing on us today of all days,” Langley said from the front seat, easily maneuvering around New York’s streets. Jet kept checking the mirrors.

“We contacted him today because there’s a credible threat to Zan’s life,” Jet said, looking at Langley. “His fainting might be related, though I can’t see how Khivar would have managed that.”

“If Max dies, all of this would’ve been for nothing,” Langley muttered. Of course, since Langley had been playing with Max’s destiny since the moment Zan died, it was no wonder the shapeshifter felt responsible for this.

“What happens if Max says no?” Jake asked, curious. “If he doesn’t want to go back?”

“Why is everyone so sure he’s not Zan?” Van asked, for the first time exasperated. “He already sat as Zan at a Summit in this exact same city eleven years ago. He had no memories, no safety net, no back-up, and yet he stood his ground with the Granolith. He did the right thing even when he barely knew his name. I’ve never understood why everyone centers on the fact that he doesn’t remember when what really matters is that Zan’s sense of duty is intact. He would give his life for the things he believes in.”

Jake looked at Van, at the rebel who’d spent his entire life fighting, who knew no peace but was filled with way too much hope. “Max is just a man, Van,” Jake carefully said. “He’s prone to make mistakes and have selfish desires like everybody else does.”

“Everyone tells me I shouldn’t have high expectations. That my brother died on Antar decades ago and there’s no replacing him. That this world and this body has changed him beyond recognition, but—I can’t stop thinking that he seems like the right man. And that’s all I really care about.”

2 : Dave

The warehouse was shabbier than he remembered. The last time he'd set foot in this place had been seven years ago, when he'd given it to Luke's unique group of killers. They were here as much to train as they were to execute Antar's enemies to the crown. They would eventually become Max's Invisible Guard, and for that, Dave was thankful. Keeping an eye on all seven of them was difficult on any given day. Knowing there were assassins, agents, and rebels all trying to get a piece of his Majesty was not comfortable news to let them loose in the world.

By his side, Daniel slowed the car to a crawl.

“This place was not in your codes," he accused, for once Dave managing to keep something secret from this kid’s prying hands.

"You think I would risk having the exact location of a group of interplanetary rebels in anything but my head?" he simply asked. He'd kept a lot of information about a lot of people in his codes, but Antar's Rebellion was something he kept out of any written records as much as he could.

"So, what's here, their ship?" Daniel asked, finally stopping the car.

"A ship, but not exactly theirs. They have some sort of wormhole technology now, which does, in fact, open down there. But the ship is the original one from 1947. They used it mainly for communication purposes."

"The '47 Roswell crash ship? That ship?" Daniel asked, his eyes going round like when he used to work for Dave.

He nodded. "Langley knew where it was. I just went and fetch it." He smiled at that. He loved it when things sounded so easy and yet had been hell.

"What else do you have stashed around the world? The Yeti? Nessie in an underground lake?"

"No, I just limit myself to otherworldly aliens," Dave said dryly, no longer amused. The fate of the Earth was never an amusing matter.

"Okay, okay...don't be so touchy. So, you gave them a ship and headquarters, plus all paid expenses. Are you part of their Rebellion?" Daniel asked, frowning, as if this should be obvious but really wasn't.

Well, that's because it really isn't obvious, Dave thought with a heavy sigh.

"They want Zan. I want this planet to stay in one piece. It wasn't a difficult decision."

Daniel slowly nodded as if things were starting to make sense. "What if Max says no?"

"Then he says no," Dave shrugged. "He's been trained for life on Earth, that was my goal. If he chooses to go or stay, I won't even be in the same room when he says so. Van will make sure of that," he darkly said. For Van, Dave was a secondary lifeform who got the divine task of looking after his beloved king and brother. It was never an easy or happy moment to be in the presence of the Rebellion’s leader. But Dave understood, maybe a little too well, that Van was risking an entire planet.

"Way to go, Dave. Making deals on Earth's behalf without no one being the wiser."

"What can I say? Making deals is what I do," Dave said as he opened the door. It was time to reclaim his domain, if only in name.

3 : Michael

Sixteen minutes later—exactly sixteen minutes, as Dave would tell them—Ray finally found the deserted road that led to the aliens’ headquarters. Beside him, Luke was impatient, a feeling Michael shared. They both needed a new direction to follow, a way to identify where they had to go to find Maria, Max, and Van—in that order.

And there was also the question of what was going on with Isabel. He didn’t sense fear from her, not the kind that came from danger. Instead, her emotions were running high on their connection, the sort that put Michael on edge.

“Was this place always a dump?” Ray asked as he parked. The headlights illuminated an old, rusty warehouse that wouldn’t be misplaced in a horror movie.

“We make it look like that on purpose,” Luke said as he exited the car, eager to meet his friends. Maybe Van was already there.

“It’s a hologram,” Michael explained when Ray looked at him on the rearview mirror. “The less attention you attract to your safehouse, the better.”

“Michael—” Ray said before Michael could open the door, “How much do you really remember? About Antar, I mean.”

“A lot,” he said evasively. He hadn’t had this conversation with anyone but Max and Isabel, and he wasn’t in the mood to explain his guts to Ray here. Hell, he knew he had to tell Maria now, and he wasn’t looking forward to that conversation either.

“Enough that I should be calling you Rath?” Ray pressed, raising an eyebrow.

“Of course not,” Michael said, taken aback. “Look, we remember them, what their lives were like, the decisions they made, but I’m no general from another world. All I really care about right now is to find my wife and the rest of my friends and get the hell out of here. Does that sound like you should be calling me Rath?”

“Okay,” Ray said, shrugging. “But you have to admit, this is getting weirder by the second.”

“Yeah, wait till you see the interior.”

Michael got out of the car and then froze. Luke was inspecting a red vehicle hidden in the shadows of the warehouse, and his internal alarms went up immediately. After all, Maria was coming this way. He had to know everyone and everything that was here before she walked into a trap.

“It’s warm,” Luke said as he came to stand with him. “Whoever drove here must be already inside.”

“I bet it’s Dave,” Ray said. “What? He likes flashy things. Who else knows about this place that would drive a sports car to an undercover safehouse?”

“If it wasn’t anyone in the know, they’re as good as dead, now,” Luke said, turning to the warehouse.

“Luke,” Michael warned, “My wife is coming to this place. I’ll burn it to the ground and then some if she so much as gets a papercut in here, you understand me?”

“Ye—yes, General,” Luke said, and then opened the door to hurry inside.

“You know, for someone who claims he isn’t a general, you sure are fond of bossing that guy around.”

“Yeah, it has its perks,” he gruntled.

Before entering, Michael stared at the red car for a few moments, making sure all tires were slashed useless. Whoever had come in that car was not leaving in it. He took one last glance in Maria’s direction, and then closed the warehouse door behind him.
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Re: The Rebel *Sequel* (CC ALL, YTEEN) Ch. 23 - pg. 18 - 8 / 23 / 20

Post by xmag » Mon Aug 24, 2020 2:30 am

It looks like everybody is converging to the same place, meaning that after being split up for .... pfff, how many parts? our characters will reunite again.

Now, will their enemies find them? I'm on team Van and co side: MacKay might have expected them to escape and planned to follow them to the "gathering", in the hope of killing off everyone. He might even be using alien technology to follow Van and Co instead of human technology.

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Re: The Rebel *Sequel* (CC ALL, YTEEN) Ch. 23 - pg. 18 - 8 / 23 / 20

Post by keepsmiling7 » Mon Aug 24, 2020 1:46 pm

Great part.
LOL........."paper cut".......Michael made his point.

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Re: The Rebel *Sequel* (CC ALL, YTEEN) Ch. 23 - pg. 18 - 8 / 23 / 20

Post by Misha » Sun Sep 06, 2020 9:16 pm

xmag, you're onto something, but the answer might surprise you :mrgreen:

keepsmiling7, Michael can get really scary when it comes to those he loves.

Thank you all for coming back to read. Drop me a note if you're enjoying the story :D

Part 24 : Sweet and Spicy
June, 2008 – Hong Kong

1: Maria

“Would the lady like some dessert?” the waiter politely asked as Maria was finishing the last of her main course. Mr. Han Yung was finishing his main course as well and looked at her with a small smile. Chinese men had the strangest small smiles she’d ever seen. It was as if they knew far more than they were telling, and their smile had more to do with that than anything to do with her.

“Yes, please,” she said. Efficiently, the waiter produced the dessert menu a second later. She sighed in content. Being here, eating here, with this man—this was the life she wanted. This was what her talents were for: negotiating.

She was in Hong Kong, settling a deal with one of Dave’s companies. It was attached to one of the many patents the wonder trio with Jake had been able to discover through the years of working with Dave. Jesse and Isabel had been supervising the legal paperwork while she was securing the commercial use. It wasn’t exactly what she had pictured herself doing as a career, but it had both the benefits of keeping an eye on their finances and traveling.

Even if it comes with playing with fire, she thought, while Mr. Yung was telling her about a show she should attend while being in the city. His English was slightly accented, certainly nothing to compare to her butchered Mandarin. Besides, speaking the language would go against Dave’s cheating list.

When she’d first expressed her interest in helping out in this part of the process, Dave had said it could be done, but only if she applied herself. You already are good at negotiating, Ms. Deluca. But if you’re going to be dealing in my affairs, you’ll need more than just those glares of yours.

She’d glared at him.

One of the first things he’d personally taught her was to never volunteer more information than necessary. “Most people assume Americans don’t speak anything but English. Take that assumption and run with it. Especially if you are meeting two or more people, they’ll tell each other things that wouldn’t say otherwise knowing you won’t understand.”

And it had worked. Oh, how it had worked.

Just as Isabel had worked for her law degree, Maria had gone for an MBA. True, the diploma that hung on her bedroom couldn’t have been more faked, but what it represented was real. She’d read the books, gone through the works, and learned through experience, being a glorified secretary for Susseth while she learned the ropes for an entire year.

In short, she had earned the right to be sitting at this table, negotiating the financial future of what was rightfully theirs, discovered by the sweat of her hybrid friends and boyfriend. A financial future she liked to call “the-run-away fund.” The key was not to get greedy. She just had to figure out when it would be okay to stop.

She picked a chocolate cake with nuts for dessert, even if Mr. Yung excused himself, saying he had another meeting to attend. He bowed to her a couple of times, and she awkwardly bowed back. Her Chinese manners were not better than her spoken Mandarin, but at least her host seemed to think that was expected. At least that part, she didn’t have to feign.

Her dessert arrived the moment she’d found herself alone at the table. She’d just scored a big win, and she was more than happy to celebrate with a nice dose of chocolate goodness.

The lesson that hadn’t really been a lesson was that big corporate men liked pretty girls. Pretty girls with brains, on the other hand, was a two-punch combination. This, you already have, Dave had said, praising her. She had never said that to Michael, knowing Dave’s windows could only withstand so much of her boyfriend’s furious energy. Dave hadn’t been flirting, of course, he’d been practical. That he’d appointed her to take a course in beauty, how to dress, make-up, and talk, had been a little bruising to her ego, but it had been worth it.

She would never have the looks or the intimidating aura that Isabel commanded, but she certainly did not look—or feel—like a small-town girl swimming with sharks. No, now she was a businesswoman. At twenty-four, she was standing at the top of the world, and she loved it. Michael had been biting his tongue more times than she would have thought, especially when she put her looks to good use in meetings like this one. He kept reminding her that she was free to go. Whenever she wanted, he would deal with Dave’s fallout. She was normal, she was beautiful, she was young. Sometimes, the only thing that was missing from those conversations was a finger pointing to a door with Michael saying, just go!

Fat chance. She was not leaving Spaceboy alone to fend for himself. She might not feel truly comfortable with the circumstances they were in, but she couldn’t deny the benefits of what she’d earned by being a glorified prisoner. Not only had she earned an education she wouldn’t have been able to afford, but she’d also earned the trust of a very powerful man and the people who worked for him. Dave had great respect for passionate people, for people who liked to act, and that was her.

“Where Liz has her brains, and Isabel her looks, you have something else. You have fire.” Dave had said that, and she’d never forgotten it.

She liked to repeat that to herself from time to time, too. She would never be a bookworm like Liz when it came to science, and never would effortlessly make men’s heads turn like Isabel. But she could command a meeting, plan a fundraising, and be all-around charming while never losing the business objective. This was the life she’d always wanted and never knew about.

A beep went off from her phone. A message had arrived.

The meeting’s over?

Michael’s text read. He was always making sure she was okay. That things were going according to plan. Since Dave’s goddaughter had been targeted a year before, Michael had liked less and less the idea of her going alone. Dave had told her—and only her—that he would respect her wishes if she wanted to go alone, but he could also arrange for Michael to serve as her partner in crime—as long as Michael wouldn’t mess up the meetings to begin with.

I’m having dessert. Meeting went great!

She texted back. She loved Michael, she did, but he just didn’t have the patience for the finesse and subtleties of the back and forth of the business world. Besides, liked it or not, her charm diminished when she had a man beside her, especially someone as intimidating as Michael could be when it came to her and those he loved.

Although lately…lately, Michael had been calmer. No, that wasn’t the right word. He just seemed more centered. Like his rebellious years were finally coming to a stage where he didn’t open his mouth before thinking all the time. He sometimes made surprisingly accurate predictions of what would happen on the negotiation table. He was still her Michael, just a bit older and a bit wiser.

Chocolate cake, right? Save some for me.

She smiled. A few words on a phone screen were not nearly enough, but at least talking to Michael in some way made her feel as if he were nearby. Closer. She would finish her cake, go to the hotel, and call him. It would be the middle of the night for him, but he certainly was awake. She couldn’t think of a better way to keep him company with an ocean in between.

Um… eat it carefully.

Michael’s last message made her laugh. For the last couple of days, she’d been telling him about Hong Kong’s exotic food. Usually, of the moving variety. There were plenty of American restaurants and fast foods around for her not to worry about it, but her curious soul had wanted to try as many dishes as she could. Chocolate cake was a welcome familiar sight, though.

Something clinked with the fork as she sliced the cake in half. She sliced it again, slowly this time, until the fork made contact with the hard object once more. Bringing the cake closer for inspection, she started to remove cake off the foreign piece. What could the Chef possibly have spilled on her cake?

Eat it carefully, indeed, she thought to herself as she uncovered what was really inside. It was a tiny dark box. She stared at it for a second, before suppressing a laugh. She went to her phone, ready to text: “OMG. Somebody is going to propose, and the waiter messed it up. I ended up with the cake with the ring!”

She didn’t even get a chance to start. Michael had beaten her to it. She stared at his message, knowing she was reading it wrong.

Would you marry me?

The four words stared right at her.

She didn’t know how he’d orchestrated all of this. She didn’t care how, actually. Part of her had thought he’d never propose—that marriage was as alien to him as Antar was—but here was the ring, right in the middle of Hong Kong, in a fancy hotel, with Michael thousands of miles away at the other side of the world. The coward, she thought with a smile, her shocked face becoming one of love as she kept re-reading the message.

I’ll take that as a yes.

She frowned at that. And then, her eyes opening wide, she snapped her head to look around. He was here, he had to be here, knowing she had ordered the cake, knowing what to say and when to say it. And sure enough, there he was, standing not even ten feet from her table, all dressed up in a suit, a knowing, mischievous smile touching his lips.

She really didn’t care how. She just flung herself to his waiting arms.

2 : Max
June, 2008 – The Compound

Max opened his eyes. It was 12:57am, according to his bedside clock. By his side, Liz’s eyes opened a moment later.

“What?” she asked, frowning, still not sure she was awake.

“She said yes,” Max replied a second after, hugging her. They had been waiting for the official news, but sleep had ensnared them about an hour before. Michael’s happiness had dragged Max out from his dreams, and through his connection to Liz, she’d felt the echo coming from Max.

She hugged him back.

Michael had asked him how he’d proposed a few months ago. Max had—admittedly dreamily—told him, but Michael had concluded he didn’t want something “sappy” like that. It had taken time and a perfect choreography of the right moment versus the right place. When the trip to Hong Kong came a week ago, it had taken a team effort to make it work.

Liz quietly repositioned herself over his chest, listening to his heart, both of them lost on a night years ago, when she had said yes as well.

“Do you think he even realizes he’s sappier than you were?” she wondered out loud.

They both laughed at that.
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Re: The Rebel *Sequel* (CC ALL, YTEEN) Ch. 24 - pg. 18 - 9 / 6 / 20

Post by keepsmiling7 » Mon Sep 07, 2020 10:40 am

Yes, I am very much enjoying the continuation of your story.

Loved the "run-away-fund".. Everyone needs that.
Also loved maria's message from Michael.
It was not too sappy!

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