Birthright *Series* Season 2 (CC, TEEN), Chapter 75, 12/31/19

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: Birthright *Series* Season 2 (CC, TEEN), Chapter 25, 3/1

Post by keepsmiling7 » Wed Mar 04, 2015 9:17 am

Finally back to reading this great story.
I agree with would be most helpful to know what they are up against. But then we wouldn't have anything to worry about.
Loved Courtney's precious box.
No is not a good idea for Tess to live at the Evans house. Need we say more?
Thanks for the update

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Re: Birthright *Series* Season 2 (CC, TEEN), Chapter 25, 3/1

Post by cjeb » Thu Mar 05, 2015 1:15 pm

As always, Thanks for the read
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Re: Birthright *Series* Season 2 (CC, TEEN), Chapter 25, 3/1

Post by Misha » Thu Mar 12, 2015 7:38 pm

Have I told you lately how much I love how you tie loose-ends? 8)

Love, love, love how you resolved both the "just a burglar" and the "skin at the school" with Courtney. In fact, I'm loving your Courtney faaaaar more than I ever did the one in the show. You make me appreciate secondary characters in a whole new level :mrgreen:

I always wondered why Max had withheld the information about his new shield. I have my theories, of course, but still... Not that I can complain about the reveal, though. GO MAX!

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Re: Birthright *Series* Season 2 (CC, TEEN), Chapter 25, 3/1

Post by Kathy W » Sun Mar 15, 2015 2:39 pm

Hello, everyone! Thanks to everyone reading, and a special thanks for the feedback!
keepsmiling7 wrote:I agree with would be most helpful to know what they are up against. But then we wouldn't have anything to worry about.
And no show. And no story. Three cheers for something to worry about. :mrgreen:
cjeb wrote:As always, Thanks for the read.
You're very welcome!
Misha wrote:Love, love, love how you resolved both the "just a burglar" and the "skin at the school" with Courtney. In fact, I'm loving your Courtney faaaaar more than I ever did the one in the show. You make me appreciate secondary characters in a whole new level :mrgreen:
Awww, thank you! Show Courtney started out as this creepy stalker, but she's one of those characters I always wanted to nail down and debrief. Along with Langley (obviously), Larak, Nasedo, that guy who "tested" Max in NYC, heck, even Nicholas. (Just nailing him would be fun, never mind the debriefing. :wink: ) They all knew more than they were telling, and I wanted to know what they knew.

Back in a bit.

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Chapter 26

Post by Kathy W » Sun Mar 15, 2015 4:07 pm


September 12, 2000, 12:15 a.m.

Roswell UFO Center

Courtney climbed out of the car with her misgivings, already legion, growing by the minute. What she was about to do was risky, and not just because it was sneaky, underhanded, and broke every rule of interplanetary etiquette. She was about to go behind the King's back, or at least his Warder's back, and propose a peace treaty to the leader of another world. If it went badly, she could be viewed as a traitor to the crown; if it went well, she could still wind up that way, although the odds that she'd be prosecuted for it decreased. Dee's presence was something of a mixed blessing. On one level, she was grateful for the company and support. But Dee could be something of a wild card, tart-tongued and impatient with protocol and political nuance, two things which might get her past the barricades tonight. Her confidence wasn't exactly blazing, so finding out that she'd left behind a calling card at Jaddo's house was especially unwelcome, not to mention rattling; she'd screwed up Brivari's errand without even realizing it. On the bright side, at least the house would be empty in the short term. She could use a few more bright sides right about now.

"Not the front door," Courtney called to Dee. "We use the side door. Less noticeable." Usually, she added privately, noting that she'd certainly been noticed today by Larak's grumpy host. At least she'd managed to put in a good word for the King, who might have met with a very different reception as it seemed Brody didn't realize he'd inherited an employee.

"Now, remember, let me lead," Courtney said when they reached the side door.

"Aye, captain," Dee said blandly.

"I'm serious," Courtney insisted. "Let me do the talking."

"My lips are sealed," Dee promised.

"Since when?" Courtney muttered.

"As sealed as they ever are," Dee corrected.

"Dee, please!" Courtney groaned. "This guy is important! I told you, he—"

"Runs a planet," Dee finished. "So you said. Some kind of king, but not a king."

" 'Premier'," Courtney corrected. "That would be the closest translation."

"Titles are just words," Dee said. "My opinion will rest on the man, not the title. We have presidents, not kings, but it's still just a title. King, Premier, President, Grand Pooh Bah...whatever the title, it still means nothing without a person of substance inhabiting it."

"Then keep in mind I know this person," Courtney said. "You don't, and you won't, not in a few minutes."

"So you hobnobbed with royalty back home?" Dee said. "That's not what I heard."

"Okay, I know him better than you do," Courtney amended. "Just promise me you'll keep your opinion to yourself until after we've left. We can debrief later."

"I'll try," Dee said.

"Which could mean throwing things," Courtney said crossly. "I mean it this time—I need you to mind your manners."

"I'll be on my best behavior," Dee promised.

Courtney stared at her warily for a moment. "Good," she said finally, turning to face the door, working up her courage to get this show on the road.

"As long as he's on his best behavior," Dee added.

"Oh, for Christ's sake!" Courtney exclaimed. "Maybe I shouldn't have brought you! If you're just going to—"


Courtney froze as Dee's hand lowered from the door. "Why did you do that?"

"Because you were stalling," Dee answered. "You're obsessing about this, Courtney. You're all atwitter that I won't curtsey or have my pinky finger out like I'm supposed to. Since when are you so worked up about 'manners'? Since when do you bow and scrape?"

Courtney looked wildly back and forth from Dee to the door. Unbeknownst to Dee, she'd still been deciding if she wanted to do this at all, which is why she'd been amendable to arguing in an alley. But now someone had knocked, and that knock could not be undone. If Larak was here, it was because she'd summoned him; to leave now would be worse than anything which would come of their staying.

"Try to understand," Courtney begged, "what I'm doing, what I'm trying to do, could be interpreted as treason. I'm in no position to propose a peace treaty; I'm not high enough up the food chain."

"I disagree," Dee said firmly. "You are the leader of the Resistance, which is, as I understand it, absolutely vital to the restoration of peace on your world. You're an equal participant at the bargaining table, and it's time you started seeing yourself that way."

Courtney shook her head. "You're the only one who sees me that way. I guarantee Larak won't. Not to mention that I'm about to go behind the King's back, behind his Warder's back. That's not something you do lightly, not where I come from."

"Weren't you the one just talking about blackmailing the King's Warder?"

"You know how bad you thought that was?" Courtney said. "This is worse. Way worse."

"You're not doing this 'lightly'," Dee said. "The situation demands it. You have to go behind the King's back because the King doesn't know what's what, and Jaddo was already going behind Brivari's back."

"That's different," Courtney repeated. "Jaddo could have gotten away with it because he was Rath's Warder and...well, because he was Jaddo. But I'm not in anything even close to that lofty of a position. If this goes bad, I could wind up tarring the entire Resistance. I could actually make things worse."

"So could not trying," Dee pointed out. "Does this mean that anyone who even attempts to broker peace will be considered a traitor? If that's true, then no one will ever be able to fix this, and I simply don't buy that. You have to start somewhere, and it appears that Jaddo and Vanessa, two of the most unlikely people in the universe, managed to do that. Opportunities like this are not only few, they're practically non-existent; I'm not ready to give up on this, and I don't think you are either." She paused, her expression softening as Courtney stood beside her, miserable and silent. "But I don't want to make this any harder for you than it already is. If you really wish you hadn't brought me along, I'll go back to the car and wait for you."

"No," Courtney said reflexively.

"So I'm not that bad after all?" Dee said dryly.

Courtney stared at the door in front of her, a barrier tonight in so many more ways than the obvious. "Of course you are. But the only thing worse than doing this with doing it without you."

Footsteps sounded inside, and Courtney braced herself as the door opened and Brody's face appeared. "Good evening," Larak said cordially. "I'm here as re…quested," he finished, his eyes fastening on Dee. "Who's this?"

A pause followed as Larak regarded both of them suspiciously and Dee waited, tight-lipped but mercifully silent. "This is Deanna Evans," Courtney answered, trying to keep her voice steady. "You've heard of her—we call her 'Dee'. She and her family have been our allies since the very beginning. Dee, may I introduce Larak, Premier of Kerona, one of Antar's sister planets."

"Pleased to meet you," Dee said.

Larak said nothing, his eyes darting back and forth from one to another. "You failed to mention this in your note," he said reproachfully.

"It came up after I'd left the note," Courtney said.

"Then you should have left another note."

"There wasn't time."

"Meaning you knew I'd refuse."

"On second thought," Dee said, "perhaps not so glad to meet you."


Dee waited impassively as Larak's eyebrows rose and Courtney sent her a weary look which seemed to say that didn't take long. Well, no, it hadn't, but the speed with which this particular Grand Pooh Bah had raised an objection had raised her own ire just as quickly. "I thought we talked about this?" Courtney whispered. "I told you he—"

"Rules a planet," Dee finished. "Yes, you mentioned that. Apparently one without manners."

"One without humans," Larak corrected. "I gather you have been of service to the crown, madam, and for that, you have my thanks. Please understand that I do not hold you responsible for this indiscretion. I hold myself responsible," he continued, looking directly at Courtney. "I know we've spoken, and I've asked your opinion on various matters. It appears I've given you the impression that you may take liberties. You know how precarious my position is. You should not have shared my situation without my consent."

"I wouldn't have if it wasn't important," Courtney protested. "Something's happened, something that justifies this…'indiscretion'."

Larak regarded them in silence for a moment. "'ve certainly put me in an awkward position."

Courtney's eyes suddenly flashed. " 'Awkward position'?" she repeated testily. "Seriously? Join the club! Dee and I have both been in 'awkward positions' for the past two days! I just told you something happened. Don't you even want to know what that is, or are you too busy whining about your 'awkward position'?"

That's my girl, Dee thought approvingly. She was no expert on interplanetary niceties, or any kind of niceties, for that matter, but she was willing to bet that if they wanted to succeed, Courtney would need to act like a leader, not a supplicant.

But Larak's eyes had hardened. "Perhaps you should come back after you've calmed down. I'm sure—"

"Jaddo's dead," Courtney announced.

The silence that followed was more profound than that of the empty street at midnight. "Dead?" Larak repeated, stunned. "And Brivari…?"

"Out chasing the assassin," Courtney answered. "And get this—Jaddo was working on a peace treaty with Vanessa, and—"

"Vanessa?" Larak interrupted incredulously.

"I know, I know, but it's true," Courtney insisted. "Just before he died, Jaddo told Brivari that Vanessa wasn't the one who killed him. And Vanessa came to me wanting my support for the treaty, but she thought Jaddo was still alive. I'm here tonight to present the terms and see what you think of it."

"This is very hard to believe," Larak said skeptically.

"I just told you Vanessa came to me, and yet I'm still alive," Courtney retorted. "Believe it, and make it fast, because we don't have a lot of time."

Another silence, longer this time. "No," Larak said finally, shaking his head. "No, were right to inform me of Jaddo's death, but there should be no discussion of a treaty without the King's Warder."

"Then there sure as hell won't be, because Brivari will never give it the time of day," Courtney said crossly. "Think about it—Vanessa and Jaddo? They're gasoline and a lit match, yet they came up with something they could both get behind. What are the odds of that happening? This at least deserves a hearing. Brivari will reject it because it exists, and we can't afford that. This is the first serious effort to make peace since Antar fell. Are we really going to just let him flush it?"

Larak's head began to shake faster, the enormity of what she was asking sinking in even further. "I just want you to hear me out," Courtney persisted. "It'll still have to go through Brivari, but it will look different if the Resistance and Kerona are behind it. It'll be harder for him to throw it away if it has serious backing."

"This could be construed as treason," Larak warned. "You do know that, don't you?"

"Of course I know that," Courtney said impatiently. "But that only applies to me. You're not a subject of the king."

"No, I'm his best friend!" Larak exclaimed, running a hand through his host's hair as he paced in the doorway. "An armistice would affect not only him, but his family, his line...and yet he's not here, nor is his Warder. He is unrepresented at the biggest negotiation of his life!"

"No, he isn't," Dee said. "I'll represent him."

Larak blinked "You?"

"Don't sound so surprised," Dee said with an edge to her voice. "I'm his grandmother, after all."

Larak looked at Courtney. "What is she talking about?"

"We told you they're all living with human families," Courtney said. "In the human family that raised him, this is Zan's grandmother, and right now, I can't think of anyone better to represent him. Not even his own Warder."

Dee's eyebrows rose as Larak gave a snort which sounded suspiciously like disgust. "What?" Courtney said. "I thought you wanted the King represented?"

"Not by a human," Larak said. "No offense."

"Offense taken," Dee said flatly. "You do realize your 'old friend' is now half human, don't you?"

"I'll wait for Brivari," Larak said firmly. "Assuming this incredible story is true and not some Argilian fairy tale, which it may very well be."

Larak folded his arms across his chest in what must be the universal sign of stubbornness. "Fine," Courtney said angrily. "I thought you might want to be first up on this seeing as you're here, and all, and Zan's friend, but fine. I'll contact Kathana. Or Sero. Or Hanar. Or hell, I'll contact all three just in case one of them has an attack of the stupids like you just did."

"Wait," Larak ordered. "If you contact our sister worlds, this will be all over the five planets in no time. And you'll be considered a traitor on more worlds than one."

"No, really?" Courtney retorted. "It's a risk I'm willing to take. Doesn't that tell you something?"

"I risk my life just by being here!" Larak exclaimed. "Doesn't that tell you something?"

"Okay, enough with the pissing match," Dee said impatiently. "You're both risking your lives. Gold stars for both of you."

"Sarcasm," Larak muttered. "It never needs translation."

"Whose side are you on?" Courtney demanded.

"My grandchildren's side," Dee said firmly, "which would be your king's side and your friend's side. And since we're all supposedly on the same side, I think we can do better than just walking away angry."

"Of course we can 'do better'!" Courtney exclaimed. "He can listen to me! And he just refused. Several times."

"Much as it pains me to admit it, Mr. Head-in-the-Rule-Book has a point," Dee said. "You have one Warder to worry about, while he has five planets, planets I'm guessing are full of people who will react exactly the way he did now. If he supports this and it goes bad, he'll have far more people chasing him than you will. We need a bit more balance." She paused as both of them stared at her. "What if," she continued to Larak, "we present the terms with the understanding that, if you reject them, this conversation has never taken place. No one need know of this meeting unless you decide to tell them. This is off the record unless you decide otherwise."

"She'll still carry out her threat to take this so-called 'treaty' elsewhere," Larak said. "How is this an improvement?"

"It's an improvement because you can play dumb," Dee answered. "You may rule a planet, but you only rule one planet; you can only make decisions for your world, not others. Courtney has the right to offer this to your sister worlds, but if you listen now, she would do so without mentioning that you had first crack at it. That leaves you free to argue against it, or support it once you see which way the wind is blowing. You could even decide to admit you'd turned it down if you wanted to."

"And if I don't listen, my refusal will be made public?" Larak said warily. "That sounds suspiciously like blackmail."

"I'd call it 'incentive'," Dee shrugged.

"And I'd call it fair," Courtney added. "You have nothing to lose by listening, and everything to gain because whether you hear about it now or later, you are going to hear about it. It's just a matter of where and when. I'm in."

Dee looked at Larak. "And you?"

The silence which followed was so long that Courtney found it hard to not break it. Larak's gaze swung back and forth in consternation as it lengthened; twice Courtney started to open her mouth, and twice Dee stiffened beside her by way of an unspoken cry of hush! The ball was in Larak's court. They'd just handed him the equivalent of a get-out-of-jail-free card, so if he continued to balk, he was just being stubborn.

"I can see why Brivari likes you," Larak said finally. "You have a devious streak."

"That's not an answer, but I do appreciate the compliment," Dee said.

" 'Compliment'?" Larak said dryly. "I must have said it wrong. But...much as it pains me to admit it, you also have a point." He stepped back, gesturing inside. "Come in. Both of you."


7:05 a.m.,

Valenti residence


It was a panicked cry, almost a bleat, really, and Tess stepped quickly out of the way as it was answered by the appearance of a disheveled Valenti the Elder dressed in little more than Valenti the Younger, though with the addition of a tee shirt which had seen better days, judging by the yellow underarms and boxers which were definitely not Calvins. The sheriff took one look at her and dived hastily back into his bedroom, reappearing seconds later wrapped in a plaid bathrobe which could safely be described as "ratty". "Geez, Kyle, what's the matter?" he demanded, conveniently ignoring the fact that Kyle had no idea what she was doing here. "You're gonna wake the whole neighborhood!"

Eyes still bulging dangerously, Kyle pointed to the kitchen, quite a feat given that his hands were firmly shielding the family jewels. "Can we talk?"

The sheriff gave her a sheepish look. "Sorry about this. Would you excuse us for a minute?"

Tess held up both hands. "Go powwow. I'll just use the bathroom while you're...powwowing."

She grabbed her backpack and retreated to the bathroom as two generations of Valenti's began arguing over her presence in voices loud enough to be heard through the door. Join the club, she thought sourly. Kyle Valenti was just the latest in a long line of people who didn't want her around. For all his faults, she'd always felt like she belonged with Nasedo, and he not only wanted her around, he was annoyingly nosy. Now she belonged nowhere. She'd bet good money that the sheriff had been secretly hoping she wouldn't be here when he woke up...and she almost hadn't been. Long had she lain there last night, debating whether or not to help herself to one of Valenti's guns, go home, and lay in wait for the intruder, an absurd scenario she'd abandoned when she remembered that she was very likely dealing with whoever had killed Nasedo, something they'd managed to do despite the fact that Nasedo had a personal arsenal more formidable than any gun. No, getting herself killed hardly served their purpose, but bunking with the sheriff, at least for tonight, did, and she'd drifted off to sleep from sheer exhaustion only to be awakened by a shrieking male adolescent. Now she sank down on the toilet seat, clutching her backpack on her lap and pondering her next move. She'd told Kyle that she "lived here" only because she knew it would freak him out, not because she'd actually decided she did.

"Is there anything here that an alien would want, Miss Harding? Anything only an alien would know to look for?"

The voices outside the door grew louder as Tess unzipped the backpack and dug inside. The gray alien box was cool to the touch and surprisingly lightweight given that it was heavy with purpose. This is what their intruder had been looking for; she was sure of it. This is why none of Nasedo's expensive artwork and sculptures had been touched. The real prize was in this box, which was the very first thing she'd checked when she'd run upstairs last night, breathing a sigh of relief when she'd thrust her hand into the wall and found it safely hidden in its alien hidey hole.

"If you need to run, this is the one thing you take with you. It must be kept safe at all costs."

Even before she'd resealed the box in the wall, Tess had already decided she shouldn't stay in the house. Whoever had broken in was clearly looking for this box, so the box needed to move, and she had every intention of moving with it. And where else to move but to Max and Isabel's? Michael was a possibility, but he probably wouldn't want a chick moving in with him, and besides, she and Isabel were friends. Even if it was just a sleeping bag on Isabel's bedroom floor, the thought of moving into the Evans' household filled her with so much joy that she'd almost been secretly grateful for her alien intruder. Being a part of that stable family she'd been so envious of was hugely appealing, but even more appealing was the chance to be closer to Max. She'd readied her arguments on the way down the stairs and been overjoyed when the sheriff broached the subject himself, only to hit the wall when it was clear she wasn't going with Max. Absolutely stunned, she'd retreated to to pack, a slow burn building inside her. How could he abandon her in her hour of need? She'd had nothing to do with this, couldn't possibly have staged this, but she was being treated like it was all just another Chemistry Class mindwarp. By the time they'd reached this house last night, she'd been thoroughly pissed and proceeded to take it out on the poor sheriff, the one person who hadn't abandoned her. What she wouldn't give to see the look on Nasedo's face were he to learn that the king had brushed her off while a human stood by her.

"Is there anything else you'd like to tell me?" a faint voice demanded on the other side of the door. "Anyone else hiding here? Maybe some little green men in the basement? Or little red men in the fridge?"

"You were asleep; I didn't want to wake you," the sheriff said in exasperation. "And she wasn't 'hiding', she was on the couch…"

Not to mention that I'm not green, red, or a man, Tess thought dryly. Great observational skills, that Kyle. Why were aliens always referred to as men? Did the notion of female aliens really place such a burden on the human imagination? Or was it just that most of the humans who had discovered their ship had been males in a decidedly male-dominated society which couldn't fathom why a female would be on a ship?

The voices faded, followed by a door slamming. Tess peeked outside the bathroom; the argument had moved to a room down the hall, which gave her an opportunity. She needed to hide the alien box somewhere more permanent than her backpack. Scanning the terrain, her eyes fell on Kyle's open bedroom door, probably the last place an alien intruder would think to look…

With the argument still ongoing, Tess scooted across the living room and into Kyle's room, looking around frantically; she'd already noticed that Valenti's tended to pace when they fought, so it was unlikely they'd stay where they were for long. Yuck, she thought, wrinkling her nose at the plate with dried cheese and the empty glass with an inch of something or other left in it. Typical teenage male bedroom—dirty dishes, clothes strewn everywhere, weird stains on the carpet. Kneeling down, she dug under the bed, her hands closing on a stack of what felt like magazines. Jugs? she thought with amusement, leafing through them. Hustler? So apparently Kyle did know a girl when he saw one, notwithstanding hysterical outbursts about little green men. Buddhism for Beginners? That one definitely didn't fit the mold. Maybe she hadn't given Kyle enough credit; he was more eclectic than she'd thought. And growing more eclectic by the minute given that she'd just stashed an alien box beneath a floorboard she'd conveniently loosened and replaced, layering the Buddhism and boobs magazine collection over top. By the time the argument moved back into the kitchen, she was back in the bathroom, for real this time. The world may be falling apart, but she was going to school come hell or high water. Alien powers came in very handy when one didn't have time for the usual methods of hygiene.

"Hey!" a voice called through the door, accompanied by loud knocking. "Did you fall in? We've only got one bathroom in this house. Give a guy a break!"

Tess grabbed her backpack and opened the door. "You don't have to shout," she told Kyle reprovingly. "I'm not deaf."

"My back teeth are floating," Kyle retorted. "Maybe you want me to pee through the keyhole?"

"I was just trying to give you and your father some space," Tess said. "And I'd use a cup, but that's just me. Spray the wall if you want. You're already acting like an animal."

She stalked out, Kyle's fuming and sputtering cut off by a slammed door. Dropping her backpack on the floor near the couch, she spied the sheriff in the kitchen doorway holding a cup of something or other. "I'm sorry about that," he said apologetically. "He's a little rattled."

"Join the club," Tess said.

"I'm sure we all are," Valenti allowed. "Kyle'll come around. He just needs some time to get his head around it. He didn't really mean to be so harsh."

"It's okay," Tess said. "I'm not fragile. And I don't scare easy."

Valenti nodded slowly. "Yeah. I imagine you don't." He paused. "I wasn't sure you'd still be here this morning."

"I wasn't either," Tess admitted. "But I decided that getting myself killed really didn't solve anything."

"No argument there," Valenti agreed.

"And I...I'm really sorry I was so nasty last night, sheriff. None of this is your fault, not my house being broken into or Max hanging me out to dry. I appreciate you sticking by me even when he wouldn't."

"Apology accepted," Valenti said. "And you're welcome. But I don't agree that Max 'hung you out to dry'. I know you'd rather be staying with him, but he had very good reasons why that wouldn't work, reasons I agreed with. He was the one who asked me to take you in, and I said I would."

"Even though you don't 'do girls'?"

Valenti looked stricken. "You heard that?"

Tess touched one ear. "Alien hearing. It's pretty darn good. Just FYI."

"Oh," Valenti said sheepishly. "Well...I don't have any daughters, so I'm not up on girls."

"Then you're in luck," Tess said. "I'm not just any girl, and I'm very self-sufficient. And Nasedo left me plenty of money, so I can pay my own way."

"Does this mean you're staying?"

"Yes," Tess answered. "If you'll have me."

"I thought the question was whether or not you'd have us. But of course you can stay," Valenti added gently when she dropped her eyes. "I'll see about getting a cot or a sofa bed. We can turn part of this room into a bedroom, maybe put up a curtain or something." He held up his cup. "Want some coffee? I managed to make some while Kyle was caterwauling."

Tess smiled in spite of herself. "Love some. Would you like some breakfast? I like to cook."

"You do? I hate it," Valenti said ruefully. "I'm not sure what we've got out here for someone who really cooks. I've got some pans, but we don't use them a whole lot."

"No worries," Tess said briskly. "I'll make do."

Always have, she added silently as she followed Valenti into the kitchen, glancing toward Kyle's bedroom and the hidden box. What Max didn't know was that she'd been prepared to tell him about the box last night, to hand it over to the king Nasedo had said was its rightful owner. She'd changed her mind when it was clear he wouldn't take her in, but she was prepared to rethink that if she could convince Max that she really belonged with him. And if not...well, then they would just have to wait and see.


Harding residence

"Good Lord, it's past 7 a.m.," Dee groaned, flopping into a chair. "Have we really been up all night?"

"Weenie," Courtney teased. "What happened to Dee Evans, the night owl?"

"Even night owls eventually go to bed; they just go later," Dee said. "I can't remember the last time I pulled an all-nighter."

Courtney hefted a stack of books and replaced them on a shelf. "I can. Three days ago, when Jaddo died."

Dee shook her head. "Tossing and turning in a horizontal position doesn't count. That's called 'can't get to sleep', not 'didn't bother trying'."

"That's because we spent all our 'trying' here," Courtney said, pushing the books into position, eyeing them critically and readjusting. "For all the good it did us."

"We've been over every square inch of this house," Dee sighed. "Maybe it's not here. Maybe it never was; they hid Valeris's book in the library, after all. Jaddo and Tess moved around a lot, sometimes on very short notice, so why would he hide this mysterious box wherever he happened to be living at the moment?"

Courtney flopped down on a sofa opposite Dee. "I thought of that. But having to up and run makes it all the more important to keep it close, where you can grab it and go. It's here. I just have to find it."

"And how exactly do you do that if it's not hidden in a conventional manner?" Dee asked. "You said it was probably in an alien made hiding space. What, do you run your hand over every square inch of wall and floor, hoping to find it? It sounds like we could tear this place down to the studs and not find it."

"Theoretically we would, if it's hidden in the house," Courtney said. "It's not hidden in some pocket of the space time continuum; it's a physical object in a physical hiding space. But if he hid it in the yard, or the garage floor, or the front step, even tearing the house down wouldn't help." She was quiet for a moment. "I haven't thanked you yet for what you did last night with Larak."

"Of course you haven't," Dee said dryly. "I did exactly the opposite of what you asked me to do."

"You were quiet in the beginning," Courtney allowed. "Never thought you'd pull it off even that long."

Courtney ducked as Dee chucked a throw pillow at her. "You progressed from bowing and scraping to arguing with him leader to leader in record time," Dee said. "And when we finally came to terms on whether or not he'd listen, those were your terms."

"My terms?" Courtney said. "You're the one who got that door open."

"He let us in because you threatened something worse," Dee reminded her. "You did that, not me. I merely made it more palatable."

"And had him eating out of your hand before we left," Courtney noted.

"Powerful people like worthy adversaries," Dee said. "How do you think I've managed to coexist with Royal Warders all these years? I argued with them, that's how. You won his respect when you fought back. I thought I'd have to goad you into arguing, but he did it for me, not that's it's ever been hard to get you going. At any rate," she went on, dodging the pillow Courtney lobbed back at her, "you got what you wanted. He'll support your treaty, although I never doubted he would if you could get him to listen to it."

"You didn't?" Courtney said. "Why not?"

"Because he lives in a war zone," Dee said. "He'll support pretty much anything that brings that to an end, which is why I'm not really interested in his opinion. He's hardly in a position to be objective."

"Neither are you," Courtney said. "You don't want your grandchildren to leave."

"I don't want them to, but I've always known they will," Dee said. "I just want them to survive."

"No argument there," Courtney agreed. "What say we get something to eat, get some sleep, and start again later? Ava will be back to get the rest of her things at some point, but hopefully she won't move back in. Don't you dare tell Valenti this was friendly fire, or she probably will."

"Haven't told him about you; don't plan to," Dee said. "He'll try to keep her there, but she's not your real deadline."

"No, she isn't," Courtney sighed. "Let's hope that operative keeps Brivari busy just a little while longer."


Clifton, Arizona

Vincent slid past the back doors, unnoticed by the workers on the loading dock. He'd managed to keep his skin in one piece and scrounge some food from restaurant dumpsters, but he still hadn't been able to contact Copper Summit; the mysterious electrical glitches plaguing the Midwest conveniently followed him wherever he went. Bloody Warders, he thought darkly, idly wondering if whoever had decided to enhance monsters had had any idea what they were creating. Aware or not, they all got to pay the price for it now. One more thing Khivar would fix, if he ever got his act together and stopped pining after that pitiful princess, that is. The basement was quiet as he limped painfully down the hallway toward the little alcove he called home, for the next few hours at least.

"You're back," a voice said pleasantly.

Vincent stopped dead in his tracks. Something resembling a short, bald man was seated on a wooden crate, casually flipping through a torn magazine. Unassuming as it looked, there was no mistaking what it was. His time had officially run out.

"Interesting choice of accommodation," the Warder observed, looking around the dank basement.

"Beggars can't be choosers," Vincent said sullenly.

"Nice reading material, though," the Warder continued. "I suppose that's a perk that comes with hiding in the basement of a post office."

"Yeah, well, I've gotta have something to do when you black out communications wherever I go," Vincent retorted.

"Communication is overrated," the Warder shrugged.

"Can we get on with this?" Vincent said sharply.

"No rush," the Warder said calmly. "I was afraid I'd missed you."

"Afraid you wouldn't get the chance to execute me?" Vincent retorted. "Afraid I'd drop dead before you got to toy with your prey?"

"Neither. I was afraid I'd missed a chance to get some answers."

"Like I'd tell you anything," Vincent muttered.

"Oh, you'll tell me," the Warder assured him.

Vincent snorted softly. "They always said that Warders loved to torture people."

" 'Love to'?" the Warder said skeptically. "I believe that falls under the heading of 'don't believe everything you hear'. But all good myths carry some truth," the Warder went on, its voice like black velvet as it rose to its feet. "I don't 'love to' torture people; I find it tiring and time-consuming. But even I have to admit it works." It paused as Vincent backed up, his eyes wide. "So...shall we 'get on with it'?"


It's vacation time again Image, and Easter comes right after we get back. I'll post Chapter 27 on Sunday, April 12.
BRIVARI: "In our language, the root of the word 'Covari' means 'hidden'. I'm always there, Your Highness, even if you don't see me."

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Re: Birthright *Series* Season 2 (CC, TEEN), Chapter 26, 3/1

Post by keepsmiling7 » Mon Mar 16, 2015 6:16 am

Courtney and Dee make an interesting team.
I'm quite fond of Dee, so let the story continue.
Tess is very protective of "that box". She was given specific instructions to take it if she was ever on the run. Sure would like to know more about it's contents.
Tess would of course rather have moved in with Isabel and Max. That would have been a disaster in my opinion.

Happy vacation,

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Kathy W
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Chapter 27

Post by Kathy W » Sun Apr 12, 2015 4:21 pm

Hello to everyone reading! Carolyn, I agree ^^ that Tess moving in with Max and Isabel would have been a disaster. I'm not against Tess as much as some, but even I don't think that would have been a good idea for anyone, including Tess.


September 12, 2000, 7:30 a.m.

Doubletree Inn and Suites, Roswell

"Your breakfast, ma'am," the waiter announced, pushing the cart laden with steaming dishes into the suite. "Scrambled eggs," he announced, lifting a lid. "Toast. Bacon. Sausage. Coffee. Orange Juice. Is there anything else you require?"

"No, thank you, it all looks wonderful," Vanessa smiled, quietly slipping him a five dollar bill.

The waiter gave her a slight bow. "Enjoy your breakfast."

I intend to, Vanessa thought, surveying the spread with satisfaction. It having occurred to her that Jaddo would likely not return to the scene of his capture, she'd done some checking and discovered that he'd never checked out; the room was still registered to him, still funded by whatever credit card he'd presented at check-in. The Doubletree was no Ritz Carlton, but it was far better than a Holiday Inn. Not wanting a good thing to go to waste, she'd moved in here, leaving the shoddy Holiday Inn and its bad memories behind, along with its dodgy room service and errant skin flakes which had settled in the crevices of the room; cleaning up an exploded husk in a hotel room, it turned out, was a bit of a challenge. Comfortably settled in Jaddo's suite, she'd cheered herself up while waiting for him to resurface by planning her campaign for their treaty. First stop had been Courtney, always an irritant but undoubtedly a survivor. If she could bring the weight of the Resistance to bear in their favor, that would make a huge difference. Next up had been certain strategic individuals back in Copper Summit, although the pickings had been slim there; anyone in a position of power such as hers was surrounded by people just waiting for the chance to tear you down and elevate themselves. But one had to start somewhere, so started she had, and she should have some idea of which way the wind was blowing by the time Jaddo reappeared. She'd decided she'd been hasty in expecting him to resurface quickly. After his ordeal, he'd probably lay low for at least a week, maybe more. In the meantime, she'd enjoy his lovely hotel room and work her end of the bargain. He'd have some catching up to do when he…


Vanessa grabbed her phone a little too eagerly, stopped, checked herself. God, but she was acting like a schoolgirl waiting for her boyfriend to call. Looking at the display, she frowned.


Shit, Vanessa thought darkly. Had one of those strategic individuals blown her in? Quite possible, but she'd factored that in; some wild story about a treaty was nothing against the piles of dirt she had on all of them. Anyone who tried to throw her under the bus would find themselves under it in short order while she waved goodbye from the safety of the sidewalk.

"I've lost some operatives," Nicholas said with preamble.

"Good morning to you too," Vanessa said dryly. "You do tend to misplace your playthings."

"Very funny. I sent them to Roswell. Have you seen them?"

"Now, why would you have done that? I told you this was my assignment."

"And I decided you needed some help because I'm Khivar's Second, and I get to do that. Have you seen them?"

"Nope. If you told them to stay hidden, which I imagine you did, I'd say they're doing a bang-up job."

"No one who doesn't report in is doing a bang-up job," Nicholas said crossly. "What do you know about these power outages?"

"I know the human power grid is a pile of toothpicks held together with chewing gum and Scotch tape," Vanessa said. "I'm surprised this doesn't happen more often."

"Then obviously you haven't been paying attention. The outages are following a specific pattern. They started in New Mexico, and now they've moved into Arizona. When the power goes off in a new area, it goes back on in the old one. It looks deliberate."

"Are you accusing me of playing pick-up sticks with the power grid?"

"I was just wondering if you had anything to share," Nicholas said acidly. "You know, like progress? Has your beloved Daniel finally turned up?"

Vanessa licked some bacon grease off her fingers. "Yes."

" 'Yes'?" Nicholas repeated. "And you didn't tell me?"

"He only just resurfaced," Vanessa said. "I'll get back to you when I've finished taking his temperature. Good luck with your grid. And your missing toys."

She hung up on his sputtering, ignored his subsequent calls while she finished her breakfast in peace and quiet, and headed for the office, where her ever busy intern was busy even at this hour. "Parker," Vanessa nodded.

"Hi," Parker said.

"Here before school starts," Vanessa noted. "Now that's dedication."

Parker smiled weakly while Vanessa eagerly picked up a pile of messages, leafing through them. "Are there any other messages?" she asked. "Did Mr. Pierce call?"

Parker hesitated. "No."

Oops, Vanessa thought, registering the look on Parker's face. She'd been determined to wait patiently, and here she was, abandoning that resolve for the second time in the last hour. "Look at me," she said ruefully, "waiting for my boyfriend to call. Which one of us in high school?"

Vanessa went into her office, attempting to muster some interest in the day ahead. It was Tuesday, only three days since she'd freed Jaddo, but it felt like three weeks. She really needed to get a grip. "Actually, Congresswoman?" Parker said from the doorway, "Agent Pierce isn't...coming back. Ever."

Oh, good grief, Vanessa sighed. It was a universal axiom that the young were creeped out by the thought of their elders having sex, but this was too much. "What are you talking about?" she chuckled. "You make it sound like he's dead."

"No, no, no, um...uh…" Parker paused, struggling for words. "You see, he left this message...a voicemail...saying that he was going away, and he wasn't coming back ever...and that it was over between the two of you."

Vanessa stared at her in shock. "I want to hear it," she said tightly.

"Um...I erased it," Parker confessed. "It was really harsh," she rushed on, "and cold, know, trust me, you didn't want to hear it."

"I can make those decisions for myself, Parker," Vanessa protested. "I'm a big girl."

Parker's mouth worked for several seconds before she managed a barely audible, "I'm sorry."

"Voicemail," Vanessa said faintly, finding it hard to breathe as she slowly lowered herself into her chair and Parker quietly let herself out. How ironic. Rath's Warder had just dumped her via phone. She stared into space for a long time, unable to believe her ears. Why would Jaddo do that? He'd been committed to the treaty, probably more so than she was. Was this Brivari's doing? Perhaps it was Brivari who'd called, posing as Jaddo, who was posing as Pierce, in an attempt to derail a treaty he didn't support? Or maybe…

A moment later she started laughing, loudly enough that Parker shot some alarmed looks in the direction of her office. Oh good Lord, but she was an idiot! Jaddo hadn't dumped her—Pierce had dumped her, and in a very public way which was sure to set tongues wagging. It was all tied together, his silence, the power grid problems, Nicholas's missing operatives. They'd killed one in the Holiday Inn, but the other had never returned. She'd assumed Brivari had gotten to him, but that had never been a satisfactory answer because it didn't make sense; Royal Warders were smart enough to realize that missing operatives drew attention. But Jaddo was hot-headed and temperamental just like her, and after his capture, she could easily see him hunting down the second operative. That's where he was, why he hadn't reappeared. He was probably planning on retiring the Pierce personna, and this was his way of letting her know he was okay, albeit in a heart-stopping way.

Jackass, Vanessa thought fondly as she started leafing through the endless stack of papers which seemed to live on her desk no matter how much she cleaned it. When he got back, she was going to give him a substantial piece of her mind for scaring her like that.


West Roswell High School

"So were you going to tell me about this?" Michael demanded.

"I just told you," Max answered.

"Ages after it happened," Michael said sourly.

Pulled off to the side in a hallway with students milling past, Max's eyebrows rose. " 'Ages'? It happened last night."

"And it's not 'last night' now. Why didn't you call me last night?"

"Because it was late," Max said, "and because I handled it."

"Yeah, you 'handled' it," Michael huffed. "All by yourself, like you usually do."

"We handled it," Max said pointedly. "Tess, Valenti, and me."

"Great, so now you're 'handling' things with everyone but me?"

"No, Isabel knew nothing about it until after it was all over. Michael, what's this all about?" Max demanded. "It's all settled—"

"Right, it's settled without me," Michael said. "Seems like everything gets settled without me, or without anyone even consulting me."

"I'm consulting you now—"

"Yeah, after it's settled," Michael said. "Just like you usually do. And assuming you've told me everything, which I'm not sure you have."

"Of course I have," Max protested. "Someone broke into Tess's house last night—"

"Not 'someone'—an alien," Michael corrected. "Ordinary burglars don't leave thousands of dollars worth of artwork untouched and pieces of skin hanging from the back hedge."

"Fine, an alien," Max said patiently, "and now she's staying at Valenti's house—"

"And why is that?" Michael demanded. "Why isn't she staying with you and Isabel? You know what? Never mind—I already know the answer to that. This is about Liz, isn't it? Because everything's always about Liz, even when she's not here."

"Well, I suppose we could send Isabel over to your place and put Tess in Iz's room," Max said. "Then we'd be doing everything 'by the book'."

"This isn't about the book, and you know it," Michael retorted.

"Then what is it about?" Max demanded. "Valenti agreed that he was the best one to take her in. She's not used to pretending, not in her own home. She doesn't have to pretend with Valenti and Kyle because they already know what's what."

"I pretended with Hank," Michael said.

"Yeah, you did," Max agreed. "Until you didn't. And we both know how well that worked out."

"Hey, I was defending Isabel!" Michael exclaimed. "You heard him!"

"I know, I know," Max said wearily. "I'm not trying to start a fight over Hank. I'm just pointing out that you, of all people, should realize how hard it would be for her to have to pretend all day, every day, around the clock."

"Because you don't want your fake parents to know," Michael said scornfully.

"Because you don't want them to know either," Max said pointedly. "The fewer people who know, the better, not to mention that my dad would be all over the fact that Tess is technically a minor. He'd be digging into Ed Harding, and looking for relatives and lots of other things we definitely want him staying out of. Valenti is perfect because everyone will assume the sheriff is doing all that."

"I just think she should be with one of us," Michael argued.

"Fine," Max said shortly. "She can stay with you."

A bell rang, and students scattered as quickly as Michael backed up. "Me? Why me?"

"Why not?" Max shrugged. "You want her to be with 'one of us'. If she moves in with you, she's with one of us, and she doesn't have to pretend. Oh...I get it," Max said when Michael just stared at him. " 'One of us', means my place, not yours. Why didn't you just say that in the first place?"

"She'd be better off with Isabel," Michael said, irritation having been replaced by awkwardness. "The girls would be happier together. And they'd both be better off with your mom."

"Oh, now she's my mom?" Max said sharply. "A minute ago she was just a 'fake parent'."

"Admit it," Michael ordered. "You don't want her there because of Liz."

"I admit I don't want her there," Max allowed, "but not because of Liz. In case you haven't noticed, Liz and I aren't exactly together any more."

"Yeah, well, at least one of you has some sense," Michael muttered.

"I don't want her there because she thinks of me as her husband, and I'm not," Max went on, ignoring him. "I don't remember being married to her. I don't want to be forced into a relationship I don't want, and apparently you don't either because I don't see you picking out china patterns with Isabel. That's my excuse. What's yours?"

"Look, it doesn't matter where she's living—"

"Certainly seems to matter to you," Max said.

"—what matters is what whoever broke in there was looking for," Michael said. "What were they after? What did Nasedo have that they wanted?"

"Tess said she didn't know of anything they'd be after," Max answered.

"Just because she doesn't know of anything doesn't mean nothing's there," Michael argued. "Obviously someone thought something was there. And just because she said she doesn't know of anything doesn't mean that she doesn't."

"You think she's lying?" Max said.

"I think she's capable of it," Michael answered.

"Capable of what?" another voice said.

Michael huffed impatiently as Max's eyes dropped and Tess came up behind them. "What are you doing out here during class?" Michael said.

"Peeing," Tess answered, waving one of Mr. Sommer's coveted bathroom passes. "And I could ask you two the same question, but I'll stick with my first one, so...I'm capable of what?"

"How'd you know we were talking about you?" Michael protested.

Tess smiled. "I didn't. You just told me. Cough it up, Guerin, or am I so frightening that I render you speechless?"

Max said nothing as the two stared each other down. "Fine," Michael said flatly. "You told Max that you didn't know of anything anyone would want to steal. I'm not sure I believe that. You've kept things from us before. What's to stop you from keeping things from us now?"

Tess nodded slowly. "I see. So it's still 'us' and 'her'. Well...I guess I already knew that."

"You haven't answered my question," Michael noted.

"True," Tess agreed. "So here's my answer—there is nothing in my house that I know of that an alien would want to steal."

"What about something you don't know of?" Michael said. "God only knows what Nasedo had."

"Well, if I don't know about it, I can't tell you about it, now can I?" Tess said. "Besides, if Nasedo had something important enough to steal, what makes you think it would be at the house? The book was hidden in the library. The healing stones were with that Indian."

"River Dog," Max corrected. "And she has a point, Michael."

"So you're telling me there was nothing hidden in your house?" Michael said. "Nothing at all?"

"Of course there was something hidden," Tess answered. "All the paperwork for our fake identities, the deed for the house, all the stuff on 'Ed Harding's' bank accounts. All of that was hidden in a space like the one in the library, with a handprint lock, and all of that was untouched, so no one found it."

"You didn't mention that last night," Max said.

"In front of Valenti? No, I didn't," Tess said. "But it was the first thing I checked."

"When you ran upstairs," Max nodded.

"It's in Nasedo's bedroom," Tess said. "I brought it to Valenti's with me, so it's safe."

"If Nasedo had one hiding space, he could have others," Michael said.

"He could," Tess agreed, "but if he did, he never told me about it."

"But we should look," Michael argued. "We should go over that place with a fine-toothed comb."

Tess shrugged. "Okay."

" 'Okay'?" Michael said.

"Yeah, okay," Tess repeated. "I'm going over after school to pick up more of my stuff. Meet me there, and we can tear the place to shreds if you want. What?" she went on when they both stared at her. "If there's something there, I want to know about it too. We all do."

"You guys go," Max said. "I've got work."

"What, the UFO Center is more important than this?" Michael protested.

"Access to the UFO Center is important," Max corrected, "so why don't you take point on this? And then afterward I can accuse you of not telling me about it soon enough to suit me, and we can do this all over again. Twice in one day. Double the fun."

"So now you're a stand-up comic?" Michael retorted. "Keep the day job."

"Do you want this, or do you just want to bitch that you're left out?" Max demanded.

There was a brief pause while Michael gave them both a stony stare. "Fine. I'll be there."

"See you then," Tess said.

Michael stalked off, leaving Max and Tess alone in the hallway. "Sorry about that," Max said. "He gets like this when he's worried."

"Oh, so that's what it is," Tess said. "And here I thought he was like this all the time."

Max smiled faintly. "Right. life with the Valenti's?"

"The sheriff's good," Tess said. "I got to cook this morning for someone who actually enjoyed it."

"Great!" Max said. "What about Kyle?"

"Ah," Tess sighed. "Kyle."

"Is he upset?" Max asked.

Tess shook her head. "I'm afraid 'upset' doesn't even begin to cover it."


Yes! Alex thought, sliding into the computer lab and finding it blessedly empty. This was the highlight of his week, alone in a room humming with technology, with any or all of it at his disposal. The reasons why this particular lab was empty at this particular time on this particular day were still a mystery to him, one he hadn't pursued for fear of alerting someone who would promptly demystify it by taking it away. No, best to just enjoy the rare times the universe sent flowers and not ask impertinent questions about who sent them. He never mentioned this to anyone, never opened the door any wider than absolutely necessary to admit his thin frame, never turned the lights on, never made a peep lest someone investigate. Now he slid into a chair at a terminal in the middle of the room, the furthest point from either the door or the windows, and jiggled the mouse. The screen awoke as the thrum of students hurrying in the halls faded into the background and he descended into the land of Python, Visual Basic, and Java, where everything was colorful, orderly, and predictable…


Crap. Alex peered over his monitor, afraid he'd find a teacher. But it was only a kid, a single kid with his back to him, peering out the narrow window in the door. Maybe he'd come in by mistake? Or maybe he was hiding from someone? Maybe if he stayed very, very quiet, the kid would leave and that would be the end of it Seconds ticked by as paradise hung in the balance, until the kid finally turned around.

"Valenti?" Alex said in surprise, forgetting his vow of silence as the sheriff's son and one of West Roswell's biggest jocks surveyed the lab like it was a minefield. "What are you doing here?"

"Following you," Kyle answered. "Is there any other reason I'd be in a place like this?"

"I...well, no, but...what are you looking at?" Alex said as Kyle went back to staring through the window.

"I'm making sure no one saw me come in here," Kyle said.

"Good!" Alex exclaimed in spite of himself. "I mean...I know why I think it's good, but...why don't you want anyone knowing you're in here?"

Kyle gave him a pitying look. "I have a certain reputation, Whitman. I can't be seen talking to geeks, or hanging out in Geek Land. No offense."

"None taken," Alex said. "Even jocks have computers that need fixing. What's wrong with yours?"

"I'm not here about a computer," Kyle said. "I'm here about the little green men."

" men," Alex said slowly. "Haven't we established that there are no little green men, per se?"

Kyle looked puzzled. " What is 'persay'? No, never mind—it's not a little green man anyway. It's a little green woman."

"A little green woman," Alex repeated.

"Yeah. She's moved in with us, and I don't know what to do."

Ooooookay, Alex thought as Kyle continued to peer out the window as though he were being chased. Word was that Kyle had only just returned after being gone all summer, supposedly to put some distance between himself and his misadventure last spring, if death by gunshot could be labeled a "misadventure". Perhaps that hadn't been the best idea. Perhaps he should have stayed here and worked things through. "So, Kyle," Alex went on, "have you by chance know…"

Kyle stared at him as he mimed a tipping cup. "What? No! I'm not drunk! What, do you think I'm nuts? I never drink beer at school!"

"Words to live by," Alex agreed. "But you're not making sense, so it was a logical conclusion."

"No, no, I...look," Kyle said in exasperation, "this all started with Noriega."

"Noriega," Alex repeated. "The Panamanian dictator currently imprisoned here in the US. What about him?'

"No, not him...the other "N" word. "No, not that "N" word," Kyle protested when Alex's eyebrows rose. "Nixon? Nader? Navratilova? Nasedo!" he finished triumphantly. "The guy that was with Tess. He just died. Somebody killed him."

"Yeah, I know," Alex said. "I was there when Max blew into the Crashdown with the news that he was dead on his bedroom floor."

Kyle's eyes widened. "No shit!"

"Just pitched through the window and cacked on the carpet, from what I hear," Alex said.

Kyle sank into a nearby chair. "Wow. That's messed up."

"Tell me about it," Alex agreed.

"Did you know Evans and I got drunk together once?" Kyle said. "Stinkin', rip-roaring drunk."

"Really?" Alex said, tactfully omitting that he'd seen at least part of that experience—a very painful part—on the night of the Blind Date Concert.

"He's not half bad when he's in his cups," Kyle chuckled. "You should have seen the stuff he…" He stopped, staring into space. "Holy shit! All that weird stuff he did that I thought I just imagined because I was bombed—he really did that! He really—"

"Kyle? Kyle!" Alex commanded. "Keep your voice down! No one's supposed to be...I mean, you didn't want anyone knowing you were in here, right? Well, someone's going to hear you if you keep carrying on like that. Now, you said you were following me. What for?"

"Right. Right. Sorry," Kyle said. "I need your help. With the little green woman."

"Kyle," Alex said patiently, "there are no 'little green—"

"I mean Tess," Kyle interrupted. "I woke up this morning, and she was asleep on our couch. And Dad says she lives with us now because an alien broke into her house, and it's not safe for her to go back."

"Wait—an alien broke into her house?" Alex said. "When was this?"

"Last night," Kyle answered. "You didn't know?"

Alex sat back in his chair and shook his head. "It's not like there's an e-mail list. Damn," he went on ruefully. "Nasedo said their enemies were here. Guess he was right."

"This heaven is so vast, no message can stain it," Kyle intoned. "How may a snowflake exist in a raging fire?"

Alex blinked. "Isn't that...Buddha?"

"That's me," Kyle said in a hollow voice. "A snowflake in a raging fire. There was an alien on my couch, Whitman, and not just any alien—a girl. There's a girl in my house, with girly things, and girly clothes, and girly—"

"Okay, I get it," Alex broke in. "Interesting that the girl part is bugging you more than the alien part, but whatever. Did you talk to your Dad? What'd he say?"

"That it was only temporary," Kyle said, his hands working in front of him. "Just until they figured something out."

"Well, there you go, then," Alex said. "It's only temporary."

"But what do I do until then?" Kyle demanded. "I was trying to get away from the little green men, and now one of them is living with me? And it's a girl? That's like a double whammy! Girls are alien enough without them being actual aliens! You've been at this alien crap longer, Whitman. What the hell am I supposed to do with an alien girl?"

Ouch. "Um...okay," Alex said, choosing his words carefully. "First thing to remember? They're people. So we don't call them 'it'. You don't say, 'it's a girl', you say, 'she's a girl'. Just like you would for any other girl."

"Okay," Kyle said, nodding rapidly. "Okay. Alien etiquette. This is good. I knew a geek could help. What else?"

"You just treat her like you would anyone else—no, scratch that," Alex amended, noting that Kyle's human etiquette wasn't exactly Emily Post material. "She's a guest in your home for a short while, so treat her like you would a guest."

"I don't know how to treat an alien guest," Kyle said.

"Forget the alien part," Alex counseled. "It's not relevant."

"Not relevant?" Kyle repeated. "What the hell are you talking about? What if she, like, blows me up in my sleep, or morphs into some hideous, tentacled creature? What do we really know about these...these…"

"People," Alex said patiently.

"Okay, 'people'," Kyle finished reluctantly. "What do we know about what they can do, what they will do if we piss them off?"

"You know, you have a point," Alex said, giving up. "So your best bet is to not piss her off. Don't give her a reason to blow you up. Be on your best behavior. Make Miss Manners proud."

Kyle considered that in silence for so long, Alex was beginning to fidget. "You know, you're right," he said finally. "I'll just keep my distance. I'll just keep my mouth shut."

"That would be best," Alex agreed.

"And I'll keep a baseball bat by the bed," Kyle added.

"If...that makes you feel better," Alex allowed.

"It would," Kyle confirmed. "Just in case. 'Speak softly, and carry a big stick'. That's what Buddha said."

", that was Teddy Roosevelt," Alex corrected.

Kyle looked blank. "Oh. Close enough. Thanks, Whitman. You know, for a geek, you're almost tolerable."

"Gee, thanks," Alex said, grimacing from the sharp smack on the arm Kyle had just given him. "For a jock, you're ever-so-slightly human."

"Thanks, man," Kyle said, the sarcasm sailing straight past him. "I won't forget this." He peeked through the door. "Coast is clear. Enjoy your...whatever is you do in here."

Geez, Louise, Alex thought, massaging his sore arm. It was easier talking to a block of wood than a jock. But at least his precious empty lab was still safe, and he might have gotten Tess a reprieve from the Neanderthal she was bunking with. Ironic, really, that the jock with the party-hearty reputation was terrified of an alien girl while the geek was trying to get closer to one.


Want to c u

Her phone hidden behind her textbook, Isabel smiled. Michael's brush with the law was thankfully over, but her brush with the one who'd sent the dominoes falling thankfully wasn't. Grant Sorenson was quite a bit older than she was, but that's what made him so enticing; he was better mannered, better spoken and, despite his dusty occupation, better smelling than the average high school boy. Best of all, he didn't know her; with him she was free to be whoever she wanted to be, which was very appealing amidst the maelstrom of recent events. He wanted to see her, and she wanted to see him; the trick would be getting away from the eagle eyes of the rest of them. Me 2, she wrote back, tapping awkwardly on her phone's keys. Grant was so much better at this texting thing. Maybe he could give her some pointers on how to speed things up...

"Evans, Isabel," Mrs. Iorillo called.

"Here," Isabel said, her eyes still on her phone as something swished by her.

"Evans, Maxwell."


Isabel glanced up. "Cutting it a bit close, aren't you?"

"She never takes attendance until about 5 minutes into the class," Max whispered. "Michael's freaking because I didn't call him about Tess last night."

"Michael freaks whether you call him or not," Isabel said, glancing down as her phone flashed L8r? 4 pm?

"What's that?" Max asked.

"Nothing," Isabel said quickly. "So...Michael. Freaking."

"And Tess said Kyle was freaking," Max added.

"And I'm not the one freaking," Isabel said. "There's a switch."

"Michael and Tess are going to comb Tess's house after school for anything Nasedo left behind," Max said. "You're going with them."

"Why?" Isabel demanded. "I have something else do to this afternoon."

Max arched an eyebrow. "Something more important than Nasedo's murder and Tess's house being robbed by an alien?"

Crap, Isabel muttered inwardly. "Oh, all right, but...wait. I'm going with 'them'? Where are you going?"

"To work," Max said.

"Oh, so that's more important than Nasedo's murder and—"

"Yes," Max broke in firmly. "It is. You, Michael, and Tess are going to search Tess's house, and I'm going to work. Is that clear enough for you?"

Isabel's eyes burned as she turned back to her phone and typed cant. Michael and Kyle weren't the only ones freaking. Max was freaking too; he just freaked differently, slipping into dictator mode in a vain effort to keep control of a situation which felt like it was slipping out of his control. This particular tendency of his had flared big time after his escape from the Unit, and she'd tolerated it with relative grace, but it was getting old. Besides, what was so all-fired important about the UFO center that it ranked above their latest crisis?


3:00 p.m.

UFO Center

The interior of the UFO center was as cool and dark as ever as Max walked down the familiar stairs into an unfamiliar tangle of furniture and boxes. "Evans," barked the new owner, the brand new owner who had just appeared out of thin air at a very suspicious time. "You can start by cleaning up that exhibit over there. Let me know when you're done."

"Okay," Max said.

Great people skills, Max thought as he got to work, but his mind wasn't on the exhibit. He hadn't mentioned Milton's sudden exit to the rest of them because he still wasn't certain if it was anything to be concerned about, and no one needed anything else to fret over. That meant he couldn't tell them why coming to the UFO Center was more important than joining them at Tess's house, which had left Isabel balking and Michael sulking. Only Tess had accepted the plan without comment or complaint, a kindness which made him want to pull her aside and pour out the whole story. It would be so nice to be able to share these burdens with someone, someone he didn't feel he had to protect from the truth, who wasn't always whining or objecting or overreacting. But it was what it was. Tess would just listen and wait for him to investigate further, but Michael and Isabel wouldn't. He needed more information before he approached them.

Brody walked by. Max watched him unlock the office door and go inside; when he left, it would be his turn. While the others searched Nasedo's house for answers, he was going to conduct a search of his own.


We're back on schedule for every other week, so I'll post Chapter 28 on Sunday, April 26. :)
BRIVARI: "In our language, the root of the word 'Covari' means 'hidden'. I'm always there, Your Highness, even if you don't see me."

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Re: Birthright *Series* Season 2 (CC, TEEN), Chapter 27, 4/1

Post by keepsmiling7 » Mon Apr 13, 2015 8:53 am

We have a real mystery going on here........the alien box.......break-in at Tess's house.
All of possibilities.......
One thing for sure, Max realized Tess didn't need to be at their house since she considered him her husband.
Hope you had a great vacation, and we'll be back in 2 weeks.

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Kathy W
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Joined: Thu Oct 31, 2002 5:06 am

Chapter 28

Post by Kathy W » Sun Apr 26, 2015 4:01 pm

Thanks to everyone reading, and thanks for the feedback! ^^


September 12, 2000, 3:15 p.m.

Harding residence

"Incredible," Isabel whispered. "It's creepy even when he's dead."

"Hold yourself together, Isabel," Michael said. "This is only the front yard."

But she's right, Tess thought as the three of them stood in the driveway, having just stepped out of the jeep in front of her house. It loomed before them, cold and forbidding, even the key rattling ominously in the lock. The door swung open as they all peered cautiously inside, no one budging from the porch.

"At least it was still locked," Isabel said.

"Thieves don't come in the front door," Michael said.

"I wouldn't know," Isabel noted. "And I'm wondering how you do."

"Don't," Tess said when Michael stepped forward. "I'll go first."

"I should check it out before anyone goes in there," Michael argued.

"It's my house," Tess countered. "I know it better than anyone. And I can defend myself, unless you'd like to argue that you have better control of your powers?"

Michael flushed and stayed put as Tess stepped inside, her eyes everywhere. For the first time, she had an inkling of how the rest of them had felt when they were so uncomfortable here because she was feeling it now, albeit for a different reason; she felt violated. Someone else had been here, someone who was very probably Nasedo's murderer, someone searching for what he'd told her she must guard at any cost.

There is nothing in my house that I know of that an alien would want to steal.

Tess inspected the house slowly, only slightly guilty over that display of semantics. No, there wasn't anything in her house that an alien would want to steal because she'd already removed what the alien wanted to steal. Nasedo had said the box belonged to the King, not his Second, so no way was she blurting out its existence in front of anyone but the King. And she'd decided there was little point in telling even the King while it remained locked because what were they going to do with it? Fret over it? Try to break into it? Argue over where to hide it? Isabel would do the first, Michael the second, and all of them the third; no, it was best kept quietly in her choice of hiding place until it opened, in which case it would be worth revealing. Besides, there was too much going on right now. No one needed more to deal with, least of all Max, who'd almost had his head taken off by Michael and Isabel because he hadn't accompanied them.

"All clear," she reported when she returned to the front door.

"Does that mean we have to go in?" Isabel said dubiously.

Michael gave her a scathing look and marched inside. "Where is it?" he asked Tess.

"Where's what?" Isabel asked.

"Show me," Michael ordered when Tess raised an eyebrow.

"I don't like your tone," Tess said. "Max didn't either."

"Well, it was weird that he didn't come with us," Isabel said.

"He had a good reason," Tess said. "And no, I don't know what it was, but he must have. He wouldn't have skipped this without a good reason."

Michael snorted softly. "How much you wanna bet that 'good reason' is Liz?"

Tess shook her head. "Nope. Liz left before we did, and she went in the opposite direction of the UFO Center."

"So you notice when Max and Liz leave, and which direction they're going?" Michael said.

"Yeah," Tess answered, "I do. I find facts to be much more useful than tantrums."

They faced off in the front hallway, Isabel looking back and forth from one to the other in consternation. "Okay, can we please get this show on the road?" she pleaded. "I don't want to spend any more time in this creepy house than I absolutely have to. No offense," she added awkwardly.

"None taken," Tess said. "It's upstairs."

"What's upstairs?" Isabel said, trailing along up the stairs to the second floor, where she came to an abrupt halt. "What's this?"

"Nasedo's bedroom," Tess answered as Isabel hovered on the threshold.

"His bedroom?" Isabel said incredulously. "Okay, creepy just got way creepier."

"Would you get in here?" Michael barked.

"Would you mind telling me what in blazes we're doing in Nasedo's bedroom...whoa," Isabel said suddenly. "What's that?"

The handprint glowed over the bed, Tess having just revealed it. "This is just like the handprint lock in the library," she told Michael, who was staring it like it might explode. "It hides a space in the wall, a cavity, if you will. You just reach through the handprint."

"We never saw where the book was in the library," Isabel said, having overcome her reluctance and joined them.

"Go ahead," Tess coaxed Michael. "Stick your hand in there, and see for yourself."

He did, albeit cautiously, feeling around for quite some time before withdrawing his hand. "It feels like the inside of a box. An empty box."

"I told you it held the papers that support our alias," Tess said. "Birth certificates, fake school records, that sort of thing."

"And there was nothing else in there?" Michael asked.

"I also told you that I emptied it and took everything over to Valenti's," Tess said. "That's all there is."

"So whoever broke in didn't find this," Isabel said.

"How could they?" Michael said. "You'd have to search every inch of the house to find it."

"And who'd want to?" Tess added. "I don't see why a thief would want fake birth certificates and passports."

"Exactly," Michael agreed. "They were looking for something else, and we should too. Are there any more of these hiding spaces?"

"Not that I know of," Tess answered.

"Which means there might be," Michael said. "Let's get to work."

" 'Get to work'?" Isabel echoed. " 'Get to work' doing what, exactly? Guessing other hidey holes into existence?"

Michael looked at Tess, who shrugged. "It's possible he had other hiding places, but I think he would have told me about them before he left for Washington."

"If he has more, they're probably somewhere else, just like the library," Isabel argued.

"Maybe," Tess agreed. "But it can't hurt to look."

"So what, we wander around and wave our hand over every square inch of wall?" Isabel protested.

"Not just the walls," Michael said. "Ceilings and floors too. They could be anywhere."

"But that'll take ages!" Isabel objected.

"Look, if you'd rather do something else, I was going to pack my things," Tess said. "You could do that while Michael and I search. Let her go," she advised as Michael started to protest when Isabel practically fled. "I have to pack my stuff anyway, and you and I both know this is a long shot. Why don't you check the rest of this wall? I'll start on the next one over.

Michael huffed impatiently, but backed down and aimed his hand at the wall. He'll probably blow it up, Tess thought, although she really didn't care. She'd acted nonchalant, but the truth was she was every bit as keen on this search as he was. What she hadn't told them was that someone had definitely been in here since last night when they'd discovered the break-in. Whoever it was had been very careful to leave everything as close as possible to the way they'd found it, but they were no match for a pair of hybrid eyes trained to notice the smallest detail out of place because your life depended on it. She'd written off the first few things she'd noticed ever so slightly out of place or askew, but by the time they'd reached the second floor, the sheer number of such instances had confirmed her suspicions. Whoever had been here last night had come back, and they'd had all day to do a thorough search. Now it was their turn.


Evans Residence

"Max?" Diane called in surprise. "Is that you?"

Crap, Max sighed, hastily closing the window he'd slipped through when he'd seen his mother's car in the driveway. So much for time to himself. "Hi," he said awkwardly when his mom appeared in his bedroom doorway. "You're home early."

"So are you," Diane noted. "I thought you said work started today."

"It did. I mean, I thought it did," Max amended. "The UFO Center has a new owner, and he told me...he said didn't need me for a few days."

"A new owner?" Diane said in surprise. "Where's Milt?"

"Don't know," Max shrugged. "The new guy said he bought him out."

Diane frowned. "Huh. That's odd. You still have a job, don't you? The new owner is going to need help, and you know the place better than he does."

"He's just getting everything up and running," Max answered.

"Okay," Diane nodded. "Well...I guess you get a few more days before the work/school grind starts again."

"Yeah," Max agreed. "A few."

"Oh, and Max? I didn't hear you come in, didn't come in the window again, did you? I thought your father and I were very clear about how the weather stripping is getting ruined by all those feet—"

"I know," Max said quickly. "I remember. Maybe you just weren't expecting me, so you didn't hear me."

Diane stared at him for a moment. "Maybe," she allowed finally. "But no more windows, okay? That's what we have doors for."

"Right," Max nodded. "Gotcha."

She left, having thankfully not realized he hadn't explicitly denied coming in through the window or verified that he still had a job. Sinking down on his bed, Max stared at the floor, his mind churning. Normally it would be he fact that he'd just been fired which would have sent his world tumbling, but under the circumstances, that had barely registered. May 14. The day he'd been rescued from the Special Unit, the day they'd set off the orbs...what was that date doing on Brody's computer? 4:33 p.m. The timing was right, as they'd had to hole up in the cave, deal with the whole Pierce bit, find Nasedo's body, and…and bring him back to life Max thought sadly. Too bad that hadn't worked this last time. Pulse detected. Was that the orbs going off? It must be, but how could the orbs have caused a "pulse"? What did that even mean?

Set off those orbs, and you have no idea who you may be leading straight to us.

Max flopped back on the bed, his hands on his temples, a headache looming. It didn't matter what "pulse" meant; what mattered was that, whatever it was, someone had detected it and traced it here just like Nasedo had warned. He turned his head sideways, toward where Nasedo had died; it was hard not to look at that spot every single time he saw it, and given that it was in his bedroom, he saw it a lot. Maybe his parents would stop worrying about weatherstripping if they were to learn a dead alien had pitched through the disputed window. He could imagine his mother scrubbing the carpet until the color came out. If only windows and carpets were all they had to worry about.

They are among you now.

They headache was coming on full force now as Max continued to put the pieces together. It simply couldn't be a coincidence that stalwart Milton had been bought out by a guy who knew what had happened on May 14, assuming he'd actually been bought out, that is—for all they knew, Milt might be dead. And what was that weird thing on Brody's desk? Why had he gotten all freaky about it? He hadn't been lying when he'd told Brody he'd never seen it before. Maybe Tess would know what it was. Sitting up, he grabbed a piece of paper and a pencil and started sketching until something occurred to him—Nasedo's house had just been robbed. Tess said nothing had been taken, but what if that weird device was what was taken? What if Brody was the one who'd taken it? What if Brody was the thief? Which would mean Brody was…a Skin. Whoever had been in Tess's house had left a piece of skin behind on the hedge in the back. He should check the UFO Center for pieces of…but he couldn't. He'd been fired. Here he'd just argued to Michael that access to the UFO Center was important, and now that it was more important than ever, he'd been fired. Shit. Now what?

A couple of minutes later his sketch was complete and he flopped back on the bed, a glimmer of sanity beginning to grow. God, but he was doing a Michael here, automatically jumping to the worst possible conclusions. Take this weird device he'd been sketching—how did he know it was even real? What if it was one of the millions of faux alien "devices", or a movie prop, or even a toy? And the whole pulse thing—Nasedo had warned them that setting off the orbs could lead others to them. Was it really so unthinkable that one of those others could be a very human UFO fanatic? And who else but a UFO fanatic would buy a UFO museum? The timing of the purchase was suggestive, but could also just be coincidence; he hadn't worked at the museum all summer, so he really didn't know what had been going on with Milton. He really needed to take a step back, or maybe a few dozen steps, and do some more digging. Like showing this sketch to Tess, for example, to see if she recognized it. Or finding out more about what happened to Milton…

Max sat up abruptly and reached for his phone. "Hi, can I speak with Philip Evans?" he said when his Dad's admin answered.

"Mr. Evans is busy at the moment," the admin told him. "May I take a message?"

"This is his son, Max Evans."

"Ah. One moment please…"

Max waited, feeling slightly guilty; he usually didn't name drop, but this was important. A few seconds later, his father's voice came on the line. "Max!"

"Hey, Dad."

"You don't usually call here," Philip noted. "Is anything wrong?"

"I was just...a little rattled," Max said, wishing he'd prepped his speech beforehand. "I went back to work today, and the museum's been sold to a new owner who says he doesn't know what happened to Milt."

"Really? Well, that kind of thing does happen," Philip said.

"Yeah, was just really weird," Max said. "Is there any way you could look into the sale?"

"I don't do real estate," Philip said. "Are you suggesting there's something fishy going on?"

Not that I can tell you about, Max thought, desperately searching for the hook which would send his bulldog of a father into action. "I guess...I guess I was just looking forward to going back to work and having things be the way they used to be," Max said. "And then I get there, and the new owner is all surly, and...I don't know. It kind of rattled me."

"I see," his father answered, his voice shaded with concern.

"I guess I just want some more information on what happened," Max went on, pressing his advantage. "The new owner didn't want to talk about it, and I don't know where to look, or how to reach Milt, or…"

"No need to," his father said soothingly. "I can ask around and at least get the basics if that would make you feel better."

"It would," Max assured him. "Thanks, Dad."

"No problem. Don't you worry about this. I'll look into it."

I know you will, Max thought as he hung up. This wasn't the hard part. Even telling his parents that he'd been fired wouldn't be the hard part. No, the hard part would be telling Michael, or rather telling Michael in such a way that would prevent him from going down Paranoid Lane just as he had a few minutes ago. Sometimes it really sucked being the fearless leader. In a perverse sort of way, he was hoping they'd found something at Tess's house which would occupy enough of Michael's attention to give him time to get some answers before things got out of hand.


Valenti residence

Tess's arms and shoulders ached as she flopped on the Valenti's couch in the Valenti's house, which was curiously devoid of Valenti's. Nothing. That's what they'd found after hours of searching, hours of waving hands over every square inch of wall, ceiling, and floor in her former home. If Nasedo had any other hiding spaces, either they weren't in that house or they'd missed them, quite possible given the creeping exhaustion she and Michael had been suffering toward the end. Even Isabel had been pressed into service, Tess's collection of belongings being relatively small due to the need to up and run at a moments notice and thus not taking long to pack. If nothing else, she did have that to show for the afternoon's festivities, with several boxes and bags arrayed at her feet containing the rest of her worldly possessions, none of which were as important as what she'd removed from Nasedo's one known hiding place last night. Overcome with a sudden wave of paranoia, she bolted off the couch and checked beneath Kyle's bed, pushing aside the girlie magazines and Buddha Bible to make certain the little box was still there. It was. Whoever was after it either hadn't figured out that she had it or hadn't found it yet, hopefully the former.

Although I'm not certain anyone would notice if this house was tossed, she thought wrinkling her nose at the unemptied garbage, the piles of laundry, and the dirty dishes in the sink. Honestly, how did these people eat? What did they wear? And given that it was now after 6 p.m., did they ever come home? She'd braced herself for re-entry, not really being accustomed to having others around, and instead found herself in an empty, messy house. This needed to be cleaned up, not only to make it more livable, but also to make it easier to see if anyone was rifling through it the way they had at…my old house, she finished silently, realizing for the first time that she now officially saw that house as "other". It wasn't hers anymore, not after being searched twice by unknown intruders, and she hadn't been sad about leaving it to come back here. She'd offered to pay Sheriff Valenti for her room and board, but perhaps a better way method of payment was to take care of things the Valenti men clearly didn't, or didn't want to.

She set to work, and within the hour the dishwasher was humming, a load of laundry had moved from the washer to the dryer, and she was rummaging through the fridge and cabinets for dinner fixings. It appeared that Valenti's subsisted on frozen dinners and good ol' Chef Boyardee, but that got old fast. There was a grocery trip in her future, but tonight she would make do with what she had. When the meatloaf was in the oven, she found an old, neglected vacuum cleaner in a neglected closet and tackled the living room. If she had to sleep here, at least it would be clean…


Startled, Tess shut the vacuum off; she'd been humming along and not paying attention, so she'd missed the throbbing mountain of disapproval at the edge of the room, otherwise known as Kyle. "Hey," she said. "Where've you been? It's pushing eight."

"Where've I been?" Kyle echoed in astonishment, dropping his backpack in the middle of the floor, the preferred Valenti storage space for just about anything. "What difference does that make? What the hell are you doing?"

"It's called 'cleaning'," Tess said dryly, "and I'm not surprised you're not familiar with it."

"And what's all that racket?" Kyle went on, ignoring her. "The vacuum's off, but it still sounds like a freight train is running through here."

"That would be the thing called a 'dishwasher'," Tess said patiently. "It washes dishes. And the thing called a 'washing machine', and another thing called a 'dryer'. They wash and dry clothes."

"You're washing your clothes?" Kyle asked suspiciously, looking down at the various boxes strewn around the couch, a.k.a. her bed.

"Actually, I'm washing yours," Tess answered. "God knows I need to wash mine, but I've had a few other things on my mind recently, and I couldn't get to the washer anyway what with all the mounds of laundry around it. And on it. And in it. So I decided to do yours first, you know, kind of dig my way...out," she finished as Kyle yelped and made a beeline for the little utility room off the kitchen. Shaking her head, she was just about to turn the vacuum back on when the front door opened.

"Hey, Tess," Sheriff Valenti said, tossing his hat on a table.

"Hi, Sheriff," Tess said. "You're home late."

"It's my usual time," Valenti said. "The station is a harsh mistress. What's that smell?"

"Dinner," Tess answered as the oven timer went off and Valenti followed her into the kitchen, watching her pull a fragrant meatloaf from the oven just as Kyle appeared in the kitchen doorway with a wild look in his eyes.

"Kyle?" Valenti said warily. "You okay?"

"No, Dad, I am not okay!" Kyle exclaimed. "And what the hell was that weird noise? And what the hell is that?"

"The oven timer," Tess answered patiently, "and this is food. You're familiar with food, right?"

"Oh, very funny, Lieutenant Uhura," Kyle said crossly.

"Kyle!" Valenti admonished.

"Leave it," Tess advised. "I've been called worse. And frankly, that one's a compliment."

"It was supposed to be an insult," Kyle retorted.

"Try harder," Tess advised.

"Time out!" Valenti ordered. "Kyle, what's the problem?"

"What's the problem?" Kyle echoed incredulously. "What's the problem? The problem, Dad, is standing right there! The whole house is throbbing with machinery, it smells weird in here—"

"That's the vacuum cleaner bag," Tess said matter-of-factly. "It was growing mold. I changed it."

"—there's crap all over the living room," Kyle continued as Valenti flushed, "she's the kitchen, and she's messing with my underwear!"

Tess raised an eyebrow and Valenti blinked as this last exclamation ended with a flourish in the form of a pair of boxers which Kyle brandished as though they were evidence that would send her to the gallows. "I believe what's he's referring to is 'laundry'," Tess told the sheriff. "I'm doing the laundry. Said Calvins were part of said laundry."

"Yeah, we don't get to that as often as we should," Valenti said, clearly embarrassed. "Or cleaning."

"I noticed," Tess said briskly. "Which is why I decided to earn my keep by helping out with things you don't get to as often as you should."

"Don't help," Kyle ordered. "Don't clean. Don't cook. And don't under any circumstances touch my stuff!"

"Kyle?" Valenti called as he stormed off. "Kyle!"

A door slammed, followed by a car's engine starting. "Guess it's just you and me for dinner," Tess said.

"Look, I'm really sorry about that," Valenti said sheepishly. "He's having a rough time with you being here. Guess you noticed that."

"Hard to miss," Tess admitted. "But I can't blame him. I'm having a rough time with it too." She paused. "We went back over to my house today. Someone had been there again. It wasn't obvious," she added hastily when Valenti's eyes widened. "The others didn't notice, but I did. Little things had been moved, too many of them. Someone's still looking for something."

"Then you can't go back there," Valenti said.

"I know," Tess said. "Whoever it is will be back. I don't want to be there when they come again."

"Of course you don't," Valenti said. "And I, for one, appreciate the effort you're making, and...and that smells wonderful. And I'm starving."

"Really?" Tess smiled as Valenti started fishing plates out of the cupboard. "Then let's eat!"

Forty-five minutes later, after a meal which came with the added bonus of conversation, Tess decided this was kind of nice. It was fun to cook for someone who appreciated it and fun to have someone to talk to while eating it. She might actually learn to like living here, if she managed to crack the nut named Kyle.


September 13, 2000, 7:25 a.m.

West Roswell High School

Max Evans strode through the hall, more tightly wound than any watch spring. He'd had a difficult night with bouts of fitful sleep punctuated by bouts of fretting, and he was eager to get some answers, but he couldn't find Tess. Rounding a corner, he spied Maria and Liz having an animated conversation and headed toward them, catching snatches as he drew closer.

"…shredder was going so much, I was afraid it was going to burn out," Liz was saying. "Can you believe it?"

"They say hell hath no fury like a woman scorned," Maria remarked. "Maybe we should change that to 'congresswoman scorned'."

"What happened?" Max said.

Startled, the pair turned. "Oh! Um...hi," Liz said, swiping her hair behind one ear like she did when she was nervous. "I was just...just telling Maria that Congresswoman Whitaker isn't taking Nasedo's—I mean Pierce's—disappearance very well."

"How would she know about his 'disappearance'?" Max asked.

"I...told her he'd left a voicemail breaking up with her," Liz said. "She was asking if he'd called, and I...I didn't do the wrong thing, did I?"

"I don't see how," Max shrugged. "It's all the better for us if she's not expecting to see him again."

"And get this—she's so mad that's she's shredding all her alien files!" Maria exclaimed. "That's definitely better for you, right?"

"Yeah," Max agreed. "It is. Hey, have either of you seen Tess?"

Maria's eyes narrowed, and Liz's face fell. "," Liz said. "We haven't. But I'm sure you'll find her. I…have to get to class. See you later."

"Yeah, see you...ow!" Max said as Liz walked off and Maria whacked him on the arm. "What was that for?"

"Asking her where to find Tess?" Maria said in disbelief. "What is wrong with you? I thought you were still in love with Liz!"

"I am," Max protested. "I'm not looking for Tess because I'm in love with her. It's just business."

"Yeah, well, keep your 'business' to yourself," Maria ordered, "at least when that 'business' involves your former wife."

"She's not my former wife to me," Max protested. "I don't even remember her."

"I don't care if you remember her or not, just keep it to yourself! Men," Maria muttered in disgust as she flounced off, leaving Max shaking his head, but only for a moment; Tess had just walked in, and he hurried toward her, Liz's unhappiness barely registering as he pulled the sketch he'd made the night before out of his pocket.

"Oh...hey, Max," Tess said wearily.

"Is...something wrong?" Max asked.

"Well, Kyle hates me, and the Valenti's couch has springs manufactured before World War I, but other than that, everything's peachy."

"Kyle 'hates' you?" Max said. "What happened?"

"I was just cleaning up," Tess sighed. "You know, vacuuming, laundry, making some dinner, and he got all freaky on me and accused me of playing with his underwear. Never mind," she went on when Max's eyebrows rose. "I was just trying to help by doing the stuff he and the sheriff obviously don't get to. I guess he objected to me doing his laundry."

"I guess I don't know how good I've got it," Max admitted. "My mom does most of that. Pretty much all of that."

"Yeah, well, I've done pretty much all of that most of my life," Tess said. "Nasedo wasn't exactly what you'd call 'domestic', and he didn't wear clothes or eat like we do. If I wanted something done, I had to do it myself."

Max felt a pang of sympathy as Tess described a life he'd never known. He and Isabel had chores, of course, but their parents still did most of the heavy lifting and always had. Maybe it would be a kindness if she came to live with…no. Tess living in their house would raise a whole new set of complications that went way beyond Liz being disappointed and Maria punching him.

"Give him some time," Max advised. "Give all three of you some time. I'm sure you'll all need to get used it."

"I think the sheriff already is," Tess remarked. "He loved the dinner I made, and he couldn't stop exclaiming about how clean the house looked and how he'd forgotten about some of the clothes I washed...and I only vacuumed one room and did one pile of laundry. Imagine how thrilled he'll be when I move on to other rooms and other piles."

"Maybe Kyle will be too," Max suggested. "Maybe you'll find some underwear he didn't know he had."

"If you hear a scream echoing around town, that'll be it," Tess said dryly. "I gotta go."

"Wait. Um…" Max pulled the sketch he'd made out of his pocket. "Do you recognize this?"

Tess scrutinized the drawing of the five-sided device. "No. Why?"

"I saw it at the UFO Center yesterday," Max said, leaving out the part about being fired. "It looked so real, but then I thought it might be a movie prop, or something. A lot of so-called 'alien artifacts' are."

"Mmm," Tess murmured. "Not this one."

Max's heart sank. "Why do you say that? You said you didn't recognize it."

"I don't, but I think I recognize the writing on it. Are these markings accurate?"

"Yes," Max said warily. "What does it say?"

Tess shook her head. "I have no idea. But I think they match some of the writing in the book that was in the library. If they do, that means it's written in our language."

"Wow," Max said faintly.

"We should check the book," Tess advised, "see if there are any matches. Then we'll know."

"Right," Max said. "Thanks."

Tess hurried off, and Max leaned against the wall feeling like he had a lead weight on his chest. He'd been so hoping this thing was fake, but she was right—the symbols did look familiar. Still, that didn't make Brody anything but a human who'd chanced upon the rare genuine alien artifact. They still had to move cautiously here, especially because he knew Michael wouldn't.

He found Michael and Isabel standing outside their first period classroom. "We need to talk," he told them.

"We already told you we didn't find anything yesterday," Isabel said sourly. "We searched every bloody inch of that house, but—"

"This isn't about that," Max broke in. "Meet me after school by the bleachers."

"Don't you have work?" Isabel asked.

"I'll explain when I get there," Max said.

"Explain now," Michael ordered.

"After school," Max said firmly. "I'll see you then."


Congresswoman Whitaker's office

"Here you go," Rose said, plopping a folder on her desk. "There's only one 'Tess' in West Roswell, so she wasn't hard to find."

"Who is she?" Vanessa asked.

"Sophomore. Transfer student. Just got here a few weeks ago. Mother's deceased, lives with her single father who works for the military. This is everything I could rustle up on them." Rose paused. "You haven't said why I'm digging up all this personal information on a kid."

"I'm working on an initiative for single parents," Vanessa said smoothly. "She's just one of the examples I got wind of."

"Oh...okay," Rose said, obviously relieved. "Great idea! Let me know how I can help."

"You already have," Vanessa promised her. "Thanks, Rose."

Her able assistant scurried off, mollified by the lie she'd helped to craft as Vanessa opened the folder and leafed through it curiously. Jaddo's "ditch you" voicemail, no doubt his preparation for ditching the persona of Pierce, had gotten her thinking about the next step in this game. Soon they would have to present their nascent treaty to their respective colleagues, and that's when the shit would hit the fan. It would be so much nicer to have an ace in her pocket, something to bargain with, to pique Nicholas' interest in a way she knew peace never would...and what better ace to have than Khivar's precious princess? She'd been so busy with Jaddo and the treaty that she hadn't yet pursued the Liz Parker angle, but fortunately the recordings she'd made of Parker's conversations had paid off, along with her Oscar worthy performance drinking and shredding, which had startled Parker into revealing perhaps more than she'd intended. Parker, it seemed, was now estranged from the boy who had miraculously saved her, pushed away by competition from a girl "from his past". The boy could be either Rath or Zan, the girl either Vilandra or Ava, but all that mattered for now was the girl. Even if she couldn't figure out her exact identity, she was close enough to make an excellent bargaining chip. Leafing through the folder Rose had given her, it was clear Tess Harding was blonde, smart, and new in town, which implied the hybrids had been separated. A bit odd, that, but...

Vanessa's eyes fastened on a photograph, some kind of shindig for new students. The face which caught her eye wasn't Tess's, looking dutiful but bored amidst the twenty or so new students, but the man behind her. She'd seen that face just once before, and she'd begged its owner never to show it again. "Why, Jaddo," she murmured, a small smile on her face. "I never took you for the domestic type."


I'll post Chapter 29 on Sunday, May 10. :)
BRIVARI: "In our language, the root of the word 'Covari' means 'hidden'. I'm always there, Your Highness, even if you don't see me."

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Re: Birthright *Series* Season 2 (CC, TEEN), Chapter 28, 4/2

Post by keepsmiling7 » Sun Apr 26, 2015 4:38 pm

So the mysterious box actually belongs to the King.......but what does it have in it??
I was surprised Max asked his dad about Milton.......maybe if the kids would have had their parents on their side the whole time things might have been different. But we'll never know.
Loved the domestic Tess.........and so did the Sheriff. Yes, Kyle will come around and will be very impressed.

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