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 37, 9/2

Post by keepsmiling7 » Wed Sep 23, 2015 8:33 am

Outstanding part........on the TV show during this part I was hating the turn Roswell was taking.
But you brought great humor as you filled in lots of the blanks.
The Sheriff didn't want to die watching the Price is Right and I loved Kyle's comments regarding birthday parties.
Bet most 18 year olds would agree with his point of having no parents present.
Diane did push Isabel.......but Kyle would have loved to have a mother that cared for him.

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Kathy W
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Chapter 38

Post by Kathy W » Sun Oct 04, 2015 5:33 pm

^^ Thank you! Kyle is great for humor. He also brought a more skeptical perspective to the party, particularly because he wasn't as romantically encumbered as other humans "in the know". I would have loved to have seen more of Kyle on the show. (And now I'm kind of getting my wish. :wink: )


Six weeks later,

Sunday, October 29, 2000, 1 p.m.

West Roswell High School

"Halt, human! Can I have your brain? I'm hungry!"

On his way to the weekend football game, Max Evans paused on the sidewalk in front of school and eyed his questioner curiously. "Are you supposed to ask? I thought zombies just took what they needed."

The zombie looked nonplussed. "Oh. Yeah. Guess I need to work on that."

"You've still got time," Max advised. "Halloween isn't till Tuesday."

"Yeah, doofus, get it right," muttered a fellow zombie, shaking his head in disgust. "Geez, man, you should have been a ghost. You know, like Casper the Friendly Ghost…"

The ragtag gang of corpses wandered off as Max smiled, and not just because they'd gotten his species wrong. It was Halloween, that magical time of year when Roswell kinda sorta maybe forgot about aliens and turned its attention to other creepy crawlies and long-leggedy beasties. To be sure, many a bulbous-headed, big-eyed alien would walk the streets two nights from now, but they would be one oddity among many instead of the main attraction, just like here, where costume-clad characters and monsters thronged the schoolyard, making him look positively boring by comparison. Perhaps perversely, Halloween was the one time of year when he felt as close to invisible as he could ever be. Also perversely, Halloween seemed to be enjoyed most by the very young and the quite a bit older. Last year in his freshman year of high school, most of his classmates had dressed up, some for several days prior to the holiday; this year it appeared that a higher percentage of his class, now sophomores, was eschewing Halloween as...well...sophomoric. A high proportion of Juniors and Seniors sniffed at their costume-clad underlings, while the most enthusiastic participants were the last people Max would have guessed: The staff. Some went with themes, like a history teacher dressing up as Ferdinand Magellan or a science teacher as Marie Curie. Some kept it simple with devil horns or the classic big nose and glasses, while some went all out, with an office receptionist memorably sporting a Scarlett O'Hara-sized hoop skirt which almost knocked a computer monitor off a desk. It appeared one needed to be either too young to embarrass or too old to care in order to truly enjoy Halloween. According to his mother, he'd never enjoyed it. What did that say about him?

"Max! Max, wait up!"

It was Tess, with Kyle Valenti on her heels. "Hey," she said breathlessly, running to meet him. "Pretty weird, huh? It's not even Halloween yet. Why would so many people dress up to watch a football game?"

"Halloween's big around here," Max answered, looking warily in Kyle's direction. "Kyle."

"Evans," Kyle nodded. "So what are you dressing up as? Yourself? Gonna blend in with the other monsters?" He waited an excruciating second before flashing a smile. "Kidding! Had you going there, didn't I?"

"That was rude," Tess said sternly.

Kyle's face fell. "It was just a joke. God, you little green—you people can't even take a joke," he amended hastily.

"Sure I can," Tess said. "Maybe I'll run your underwear up the flagpole. I'd call that funny." She paused while Kyle blinked. "Kidding! It was just a joke. Can't you humans take a joke?"

"Hilarious," Kyle muttered.

"So it's funny when you do it, but not when she does it?" Max asked.

"I'm gonna go suit up," Kyle said, ignoring the question. "I've got a game to play."

"Don't let us keep you," Max said.

Kyle left, but only after throwing a smoldering look Max's way. "Don't mind him," Tess advised. "He's still dealing."

"Then he can get in line," Max said. "We're all dealing. You seem to have him on a pretty short leash. I take it you two are getting along better?"

"We bonded over absent mothers," Tess said. "But yeah, it's better," she went on when Max looked puzzled. "They're letting me do the laundry, but the cooking is proving more problematic. The Valenti men are very into frozen dinners."

"Quick and simple," Max observed.

"Boring and salty," Tess corrected.

"I can't talk," Max admitted. "Mom makes all our meals. So what's it like living with two other people?"

"Interesting," Tess allowed. "There's so much talking. Nasedo wasn't exactly a conversationalist, and we argued more than we talked, so it's weird to have people having actual conversations that don't involve yelling, even if a lot of them are about sports." She paused. "You know, sometimes I forget. That he's gone, I mean. He was gone all summer, and I kinda got used to it, so sometimes I have to remind myself that he's completely gone. That he's never coming back."

They walked toward the playing field, passing a crowd of vampires. While Nasedo's death and Whitaker's subsequent attack were still very fresh in his mind, Max had to admit that he didn't miss Nasedo. They'd never had a protector, then they'd had one for a very short, very problematic time, then he'd decamped to Washington. It felt more natural not to have one than to have one. "What happened with the house?" Max asked. "Has it sold yet?"

"Valenti has a real estate agent working on it," Tess answered. "I forged a bunch of documents for him so it could go on the market. He wants to sell off the artwork and put the money into a college fund for me. I told him to keep it as, you know, my rent, but he's really stuck on the college fund thing."

"Not a bad idea," Max said. "Tuition goes up every year."

"So what?" Tess said. "I'm not going to college. None of us are."

The casual way that last statement was delivered was jarring, underscoring once again their very different mindsets; Max just assumed he and Isabel were going to college because that's what his parents assumed. "You never know," he said. "We don't know when we're going back, and until we do, we have to act the part."

"And you think college is a good way to do that?" Tess said skeptically.

"Sure. What better place to hide than in a dorm?"

"Fair point," Tess allowed. "Although if I have to wait, I'd rather just invent a degree and get a job doing something that would be useful when I go home, like in government or the military. Why jump through all the hoops that go with the education system if you don't have to?"

Because then it's not real, Max thought silently. For him, this life was real; for Tess, it was just a sham until their real life started, or rather, re-started.

They had reached the stands, and Alex appeared out of a sea of costumes. "Hey, Max! Tess! We're up on the right if you want to join us. Nice to see someone else who isn't dressing up."

"We kinda dress up every day," Tess said.

"Oh. Uh...yeah," Alex said, abashed. "I guess, but that's not what I meant."

"Hey, Whitman!" a passing jock called. "What are you gonna be for Halloween? A cop?"

"Yeah, you gonna wear a costume?" another called. "Or take it off?"

Alex flushed as laughter erupted. "Ignore them," Max advised.

"Wow, they're still riffing on that a month later?" Tess wondered.

"Guess it was memorable," Alex muttered.

"Hi, Alex."

Max bit back a smile as Isabel appeared. His sister had the uncanny ability to send the male of the species into slack-jawed silence as she did now, the jocks watching enviously as she linked arms with Alex. "I loved my birthday present," she announced, loud enough for his tormentors to hear. "That was so brave of you. I bet there isn't one other guy in this school who would do that for me. They wouldn't have the nerve." She paused, letting that sink in. "Walk me to the refreshment stand?"

"Sure," Alex agreed, smiling the way guys always smiled in Isabel's presence.

"Nice save," Tess murmured as Isabel marched off with Alex, leaving a muttering group of jealous jocks behind. "How's she doing?"

"She's speaking to me again, if that's what you mean," Max said.

"Is she going out with Grant?"

"You tell me," Max answered. "She hasn't said, and it wouldn't be smart for me to ask."

"I haven't gotten any more phone calls about gift suggestions," Tess said. "Honestly, I don't see what the big deal is. None of this is real, Max. Might as well enjoy it as much as we can until we go home and the real work begins." She started climbing the stands. "Alex said they were on the right, didn't he?"

"Yeah. You go on," Max said. "I'll grab some snacks. We've still got a while before the game starts." And I need to find Isabel, he added silently as Tess shrugged and headed upward. He'd hadn't been completely honest with Tess; Isabel was speaking to him, but only barely. He'd really screwed up when he'd backed her into a wall. It had been quite the comedown after feeling so on-top-of-the-world when he'd successfully derailed the mad rush to kill Brody, who remained friendly now that he thought he had a kindred spirit in Max. She wasn't going to like what he had to tell her, but she had to be warned. Maybe a shared misery would help melt the frost between them. He found her in line alone at the refreshment stand.

"No, Grant isn't here," Isabel announced when he came up behind her.

"Alex isn't either," Max noted.

"I was just extricating him from the bullies," Isabel said. "And making a point."

"I'll say," Max agreed. "Expect to see a lot more stripteases in the next few days."

"I'll make certain my camera's ready," Isabel said. "Where are you and Tess sitting?"

"With everyone else," Max answered.

"Really? You're sitting with Liz? Or perhaps I should say, Liz is sitting with you?"

"We still talk to each other," Max protested. "We're still friends."

"But you want more than that," Isabel said.

"Yeah," Max admitted. "I do."

Isabel gave him a startled look, then dropped her eyes as though that candid admission had poked a hole in her armor. Max waited until she'd placed her order before speaking again.

"I overheard something this morning, Iz. You're not going to like it, but you should know. Mom is pushing Dad to put you in therapy."

Isabel whirled around, nearly dropping the cash in her hand. "What? Why?"

"I guess she's connected how worried you were back at the beginning of school with how 'defiant' she thinks you are now," Max said. "She thinks you're acting out as a way to handle whatever's bothering you."

"So she thinks I'm having some kind of breakdown?" Isabel demanded, sounding close to doing just that. "Every kid in this school 'acts out' more than I do!"

"But she's never seen you do it, so she's worried," Max said gently. "And we can't exactly explain that our alien protector was murdered, and you almost got killed rescuing Tess, and—"

"Okay, okay, I get it," Isabel broke in, barely keeping her peace until the bored kid behind the counter took her money. "So what do I do? Does this mean I'm going to have to see the same shrink you did?"

"That's part of the problem," Max admitted. "She's so impressed with all those 'coping skills' the doctor supposedly taught me that she wants him to teach you the same thing."

"But he didn't teach you anything!" Isabel exclaimed. "That was all just Grandma getting you off the hook! Mom brought this up the night of my party, but I hadn't heard about it since, so I thought...God, Max, what am I going to do?"

"For now? Nothing," Max said. "They're just talking, and Dad didn't say yes."

"But he didn't say no, either? What?" Isabel said when Max hesitated. "What are you not telling me?"

"Okay, I didn't bring this up because I know it's going to sound like I'm asking," Max said. "And I'm not. For the record, I'm not asking."

"What are you talking about?" Isabel said warily.

"So we're clear? You know I'm not asking?"

"Asking what?" Isabel exclaimed.

Max shifted uncomfortably. "Mom ran into one of your friend's moms at the grocery store and found out that you weren't at their house when you said you were. Then she started nosing around and found several other moms who said you weren't at their houses when you'd said you were. So now she's trying to convince Dad that you might be with Grant."

Isabel's eyes, which had begun widening after the first sentence, now resembled dinner plates. "What? How on earth did she...And he believed her? God, first you, now her! Can't everybody just leave me alone? But...well, of course she blames Grant. Which is really ironic considering…" She stopped, twitching self-consciously, as though afraid she'd said too much. "I can't believe this. After everything I've—I just can't believe this!"

"Look, just keep your head down, don't lose your cool, and for God's sake, no more lying," Max said. "Don't give them any more reasons to think this is a good idea. We'll figure this out."

"No, I'll figure it out," Isabel said. "I need your keys."

"My keys?"

"To the jeep!" Isabel said impatiently. "You won't need it during a football game. C'mon—give."

Max bit back a "where are you going" query and fished his keys out of his pocket. "So you're not staying for the game—"

"No," Isabel snapped. "I've got better things to do. And don't ask where I'm going, or where I was, or...just don't!"

Max watched helplessly as his sister stormed off through the happy crowd of football fans. "Where's she going?" a voice said.

It was the counter kid again, holding a tray with Isabel's order as he watched her retreating figure. "I wish I knew," Max said.

"You gonna take this?"

"Sure," Max sighed. "And for the record, I didn't ask."


"Excuse me, are those seats taken?"

"," Liz answered. "Go ahead and—"

"Yes!" Maria interrupted. "Sorry," she added as the kid's face fell. "We have a large group."

The seat hunter moved on, and Liz threw a reproachful look at Maria. "Why did you do that? We have plenty of seats."

"We need enough for everyone," Maria said.

"We have enough for everyone," Liz answered. "Me, you, Alex, and Isabel."

"We need seats for Max and Michael," Maria said.

"Isabel didn't know if Max was coming," Liz said. "And Michael doesn't come to football games. You know that."

"He might," Maria said. "I left him lots of messages."

"The same messages you've been leaving him since school started? You know, the ones he's never returned?"

"Well, he should have," Maria said stoutly. "We just saved their butts. Again."

"Oh, right, we did all of it," Liz said dryly. "Isabel didn't do a thing."

"She wouldn't have if I hadn't figured out what "reds" meant," Maria said crossly. "Or driven her out there, or come back to get help and found Michael and Courtney canoodling in the back."

"Okay, I get it," Liz said. "You want Michael to thank you. Even though I distinctly recall Max thanking everyone that night quite sincerely."

"And I want to know what he and Courtney were doing when I so rudely interrupted them," Maria added darkly.

Another football fan loomed above them. "Excuse me, are these seats—"

"Yes!" Maria exploded. "Scram!"

The fan scuttled away as Maria scowled and Liz rolled her eyes. "Maria, you and Michael aren't together," Liz said. "I know you want to be, but you're not. He can do whatever he wants with whoever he wants, and he doesn't need your permission."

"Like hell he doesn't," Maria declared. "One of these days, he'll get the message."

"What message?" Liz said in exasperation. "That they owe us? That our help comes with a price tag? We helped save their butts because they're our friends, not because we want to hand them a bill."

"Of course they're our friends," Maria said, "but—"

"No," Liz broke in firmly. "No 'buts', Maria. If you don't want to help them, don't. If you want to keep torturing yourself that Michael's gonna have this sudden change of heart, go right ahead, but the rest of the school shouldn't have to suffer along with you. Let people sit down. If Max or Michael show up, they'll just have to—"

"Oh, cripes," Maria groaned. "Incoming!"

"Hey, guys!"

It was Tess, all smiles and waving gaily as she pushed right past both of them and plopped down in one of the contested empty seats. "Alex said you were up here," she said cheerfully, either unaware of or ignoring Maria's potent glare. "Nice view."

"Yes, and it will be very nice for the people we saved seats for," Maria said pointedly.

"Oh...yeah, thanks!" Tess said. "It was really nice of you to save seats for us."

Liz chewed her lip to keep from smiling as a cloud of steam rose from Maria's ears. "I'm sorry," Maria said deliberately, "but we didn't know if you were coming."

"Yeah, I wasn't sure either, not until the last minute," Tess said.

"So we didn't save you a seat," Maria clarified.

"Oh, no problem," Tess said.

"So I'm not sure all of us will fit," Maria persisted.

"We can squeeze in," Tess assured her.

"I'm pretty sure we can't," Maria said.

"Let's just wait and see who shows up," Tess shrugged. "Max will be here soon."

"Oh, so, Max is coming?" Liz said, hoping her tone was neutral.

"Did you two come together?" Maria asked bluntly.

"No," Tess answered. "I came with Kyle. Max said he had to talk to Isabel. I'm guessing there's still fallout from the whole 'dating Grant' thing."

"Well, he is an older man," Maria noted. "I can see why Max wouldn't want her dating him."

"I can't," Tess said. "None of this matters. None of this is real. The four of us will be going home, so whatever happens on Earth stays on Earth, along with whoever it happened with. No sense getting all worked up about it."

"So, what, Earth is like Vegas?" Maria said tartly.

"Kind of," Tess agreed.

Maria's eyes flared. "I think I'm going to round everyone up," she said coldly, "and then we'll see if some of us need to relocate."

"Cool," Tess said. "Later."

Liz braced herself as Maria fumed, clearly frustrated at her inability to get a rise out of Tess. But she contented herself with flouncing off, muttering audibly but not legibly as she pounded down the bleachers, the stairs shuddering with each step. Left alone with her husband's ex-wife from another planet, Liz sat in awkward silence for what seemed like way too long.

" have you been?" Liz ventured finally.

Tess's head swung around. "How have I 'been'? We see each other every day in school, don't we?"

"I mean...I meant...I was just thinking about what happened, you know, at the party," Liz said. "Getting abducted by an alien isn't exactly everyday stuff."

"You would know," Tess said. "That's something we have in common. You were abducted by an alien too."

"Yeah, but Nasedo didn't beat me up," Liz said. "He just argued with me, and was nasty, and tried to scare me. Did scare me," she amended.

"Tell me about it," Tess agreed. "Arguing was just about all we ever did. The only real conversation I ever had with him was right before he died."

"Really? What was it about?" Liz asked.

Tess got a strange look in her eyes. "It doesn't matter now," she said, shaking her head. "I was telling Max that sometimes I forget that he's really gone. He was gone so much anyway that sometimes I have to remind myself that he's never coming back."

"It was like that with my grandmother," Liz nodded. "She didn't live with us, so we didn't see her all the time. Sometimes I think, 'I should call Grandma', or 'I need to tell Grandma', and then I remember...I can't."

"Yeah," Tess said. "That's it. That's it exactly."

"But if you argued that much, maybe it's a relief that he's…no," Liz said quickly when Tess's eyes fastened on hers. "I didn't mean a relief that he's dead, just...I mean, I know you must miss him, so…" She closed her eyes and stopped, calculating that two feet in her mouth were enough.

"It's okay," Tess said. "Believe me, I knew him better than anyone, so I have no illusions about what a wonderful person he was. The truth is I didn't miss him being around this summer. I thought I'd hate the empty house and being all alone, but it was actually kind of nice—no fights, no bitching, no one constantly telling me I was doing everything wrong. Nasedo was really good at one thing—-he was a weapon. Nothing pretty, nothing fancy, nothing friendly, but if you needed a hammer, he was your guy. And now that we're surrounded by nails…"

"It would be nice to have a hammer," Liz finished.

"Exactly," Tess said. She craned her neck toward the bottom of the bleachers. "Here comes Maria. Guess I better start looking for another seat."

"Oh, I'm...I'm sure she didn't mean what she said the way it sounded," Liz said uncomfortably.

Tess gave her a pitying look. "Sure she did. I'm not stupid, Liz, and I don't have a hearing problem. I just don't choose to engage with every insult that's thrown my way. I'm alone now. I can't let the Maria's of the world get to me."

Liz's hands gripped the edge of the bench as the angel on one shoulder warred with the devil on the other. She really should say something nice now, something like You're not alone, Tess. You've got us. So why didn't she? Why were her lips pressed together like she'd sucked on a tube of Superglue?

Maria appeared. "Alex is coming, and so is Max," she reported, resuming her seat beside Liz. "Isabel should be back soon too, so it looks like you'll have to move, Tess."

Liz winced at the blunt barb, but Tess merely waited impassively until Alex and Max climbed the bleachers. "Hey, guys!" Alex called. "We come bearing food!"

"Wow, hot dogs, fries, Cokes...yum!" Maria said. "Where's Isabel?"

"She left," Max answered.

Maria's face fell. "Left? Left where? Left why?"

Max shrugged. "Don't know. She didn't say."

"So it looks like I can sit in Isabel's seat," Tess said. "Right, Max?"

"What? Oh...sure," Max said, clearly confused.

"Great!" Tess said. "Maria, could you pass me a hot dog?"

Liz kept her gaze straight ahead as she felt Maria starting to go nova. "Pass this down to her," Maria whispered sullenly to Liz, handing her a hot dog, "before I throw it at her."


Pod Chamber

Isabel stood a ways back from the open door, sniffing cautiously. The smell always got to her, the reek of whatever had been in those pods which seemed to permeate the very rock the place was made of. Every time she came here, and she'd been coming a lot lately, she lingered by the door, acclimating to the odor before stepping inside. Over the past month she'd found it less oppressive, even familiar; perhaps it wasn't as bad as she'd first thought? Did emotions govern the sense of smell like they governed everything else? Because God knew she never crossed this threshold without a slew of conflicting emotions, all jockeying for position like cats at a food bowl and with claws just as sharp. Confusion, curiosity, fear, resentment, guilt, denial, and a slew of others tried to shout each other down, but recently another had joined the ranks, and a most unexpected one at that—pride. It lurked in the background, small, but there, impossible to deny, and it stirred now as she realized that for the first time, she didn't smell anything. Had she finally gotten used to it? Maybe the door opening and closing so many times over the past month had aired the place out? Or maybe there never had been anything that rank to begin with. Had it all been in her head?

Isabel stepped inside, walking past the pile of dust on the floor which was still in a vaguely body-like shape. When she'd come here the night Whitaker had taken Tess, she'd hated this place, hated the uncertainty and danger it represented, the pull of a life she couldn't remember and didn't want. The combination of what she'd found here and what Whitaker had told her about her former life had left her in a daze that was part horror, part fascination. She'd wandered through a couple of school days in a fog, pulled in conflicting directions and worried about further attacks. Surely there were more Skins out there. Surely Whitaker had friends who would miss her, would come looking for her. Surely they were due for a Round Two any minute now. It was amidst this expectation of an impending second disaster that she'd hit upon a way to manage the fear and uncertainty which consumed so much of her time and energy. The inspiration had come from none other than that storied southern belle, Scarlett O'Hara.

“I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow.”

Isabel smiled faintly at the memory of how dismissive she'd been of one of her mother's favorite films, how privately irritated that the selfish Scarlett bore more of a resemblance to herself than she wanted to admit. But spoiled Scarlett had made a good point when she'd put off thinking about bad things for a later date. Heeding that advice, she'd decided to do her worrying away from prying eyes in the pod chamber, where she could talk out loud, cry, scream, or throw things without giving herself away or looking like a crazy person. It had worked; whenever the inevitable fear had gnawed at the edges of her life, she'd told herself, "I won't think about that right now. I'll think about that at the pod chamber." She'd covered her tracks by attributing her absences to time spent with friends, a ruse now discovered. How terribly ironic that her successful effort to manage her anxieties had now resulted in her mother not trusting her to the point where she was talking about shrinks.

"I'm back, mother," Isabel called to the empty chamber. "I really wish I could talk to you. I could tell you all of this, everything. You'd understand. You wouldn't try to set me up with some shrink."

Not fair, Isabel admitted. Her alien mother knew things her human mother never would, things that would change Diane's opinion if she could share them. That had been one of the hardest parts of this, to go through something so traumatic and not be able to share it with her mom. God knows they'd been through plenty of trauma before, but this time it was personal. This time she needed a mom, and the alien mother who knew the score was enticing, if absent.

"You'd realize why I did what I did, what I'm doing," Isabel went on. "You'd think I was brave to fight back. You'd be proud of how I rescued Tess and…and made certain Whitaker could never hurt us again."

Talk about rationalizing, Isabel thought wearily, having been about to say "and killed an enemy". It was surprising, really, how much that had affected her. Whitaker had been about to kill both of them, so why did it matter that she'd killed Whitaker? It had taken a good deal of talking to the empty chamber to finally voice what was really bothering her, which was the fact that she hadn't intended to kill Whitaker; she'd only meant to stop her, making her death purely accidental. And that if she could kill an enemy accidentally, that meant she could kill a friend or a family member the same way. She hadn't used her powers at all since that night, afraid that something dark and alien and uncontrollable would pop out and strike down anyone within range. Is this what had happened back on that other world? Had she really betrayed everyone like Whitaker had said? Was she responsible for their deaths? Was this all her fault? That her alien mother had referenced none of those things was comforting, and besides, Whitaker would have said anything to get her way. But given what she'd done without even meaning to, she couldn't rule out the possibility that she'd killed people by accident in that other life. It could still all be her fault.

Picking her way through the ruined pods, a path more open now that she'd come this way many times before, Isabel waited as the doors slid open, revealing...well, whatever it was, the huge, gleaming cone-on-a-cone which hummed and glowed enigmatically, safely housed in its own little room. She still hadn't told the rest of them about this. It hadn't come up, and it had been strangely comforting to have a secret, something no one else knew, like a consolation prize for all the hell she'd been through. It helped that it was dazzling, bright, and oh so different from the smelly world on the other side with its wrecked pods and alien remains. Whatever this was looked futuristic. Sleek. Hopeful. Whatever this was looked like something she might even be proud of. And now she'd have to share her find because she'd need all the help she could get to stop her mother in her tracks. Max knew she'd lied about being with friends, which meant the rest of them would find out, which meant they'd all suspect she was cracking up. Time to fess up.

"Pick up," she muttered after stepping outside where she could get cell reception. "C'mon, Michael, pick up!"


West Roswell High School

Max felt rather than heard his phone ring, the cheers in the stands drowning out the ringing but not the insistent vibrations as he dug in his pocket. "Iz?"

"You and Tess need to come to the pod chamber," Isabel announced.

"Why?" Max said sharply, one finger in his ear to drown out the noise of the game. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing's wrong," Isabel said. "I need to show you something."

"What is it?"

"I can't go into it over the phone. I need you to come here."


"Fine, finish the game, then," Isabel said. "Michael will see it first. He's on his way."

"And so are we," Max said, it being a poor idea for Michael to be unchaperoned. "We'll be there in a few minutes." He hung up. "We need to go," he said to Tess.

"Okay," Tess said.

"Wait, what?" Maria demanded as they both stood up. "You're leaving? Why?"

"We have to take care of something," Max said.

"Take care of what?" Maria demanded. "We're in the middle of a game!"

"Some things are more important than games," Max said.

"But where are you going?" Maria persisted. "Don't you want to know where he's going?" she said to Tess.

"If Max says we have to go, then we have to go," Tess said.


"Maria," Liz broke in gently. "Let them go. It's none of our business." She stood up. "Go on. Scoot past."

Max gave her a grateful look. "Thanks."

"Cheer up," Tess advised as they climbed over a scowling Maria. "Now you can have the seat back."


I'll post Chapter 39 on Sunday, October 18. :)
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 38, 10/

Post by keepsmiling7 » Mon Oct 05, 2015 12:23 pm

The Evan's are beginning to have problems with their perfect children.......first Max might need a shrink and Isabel is dating the older man.
I hated this part during the show when the aliens were lining up together, leaving the human to themselves. Guess we just can't ignore it in this story?
Liz and Tess at least had a conversation at the ballgame.......that's unusual.
Now, the aliens are off to the pod chamber.......

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

Chapter 39

Post by Kathy W » Sun Oct 18, 2015 4:48 pm

Hello and thank you to everyone reading, and special thanks for the feedback! ^^^


October 29, 2000, 4 p.m.

Pod Chamber

"Say something," Isabel ordered. "Somebody say something. Say anything."

No one paid her the slightest mind as every head craned upward, gazing at the thrumming, glowing whatever-it-was buried deep within the rocks of the pod chamber. Michael had arrived first, and she'd made him wait, cooling his heels outside until Max and Tess arrived a few minutes later. By that point Michael had been ready to burst, so she'd led them in without preamble and waited for the inevitable questions. She was still waiting, growing more fidgety by the minute as everyone stared at the contraption as though in a trance. Seriously, she could go sit outside and wait...

"How did you find this?" Tess asked.

Thank God, Isabel thought—not only a question, but a safe question, one that didn't require her to address the fact that she'd kept this to herself for the past six weeks. "I...threw a rock. I was mad. I picked up a rock and threw it at the pods, and I heard something. And saw something, this...glow. So I climbed through and found this."

"When was this?" Max asked.

"I've been coming here a lot," Isabel said, "just to work through what happened, you know, think about it. This is where I've been when I told Mom I was going out with friends. I couldn't very well tell her I was here. And now she wants to send me to a shrink!"

"Oh, Isabel, no," Tess said sadly. "Can't you make something up about where you were?"

"She already did that," Max said. "Mom found out, and now she doesn't trust her."

"But she could come up with a reasonable explanation," Tess said. "That's what we were all trying to get you to do back when you were seeing a doctor."

"And Mom will pick any 'explanation' to death because she's already been lied to once," Max said. "Like I said this summer, lies lead to more lies."

"Look who's talking," Isabel said sharply. "I wanted to tell Mom ages ago, but you said no."

"And I'm still saying it," Max said. "It's too dangerous for her to know."

The group fell silent, with Isabel secretly relieved—she'd argue all day if it meant she could sidestep the issue of timing. "So you didn't know about this?" she asked Tess.

Tess shook her head. "Nope. Never saw it, don't know what it is. Nasedo never mentioned a special room with a giant glowing cone. But Whitaker did. Well...sort of," she amended when everyone shot her a startled look. "She wanted something, something she called..."

"The 'Granolith'," Isabel finished.

"Yeah," Tess nodded. "That's it. I'd never heard of it, but she clearly thought I should have. I told her I didn't know what it was, and she asked me if there were any secret places that only we knew about because that's where it would be. I thought of the pod chamber, but obviously I wasn't going to tell her about it. And then...and then things got ugly, and I forgot all about it. Until now."

Max looked at Isabel. "What did Whitaker say to you?"

"What do you mean?" Isabel said warily.

"She must have said something," Max said. "How else would you have known what this was called?"

"Oh," Isabel said, having been fearful that Max somehow knew the awful things Whitaker had told her about her behavior in that other life. "She...she just kept saying, 'Where's the Granolith?' She didn't say what it was, but she sounded desperate. When I found this, it was obviously hidden, and it certainly looked important. I figured this must be it."

"What else did she say about it?" Max asked.

His tone was neutral, but Isabel knew her brother; what he really meant was, what else haven't you told us? "Nothing," she said stiffly. "She didn't say what it was, or where it was, or what it did. She just wanted it and accused us of hiding it. Which we apparently were."

"What was she talking about when she asked you where it was?" Tess asked. "Maybe that will give us a clue about what it does."

Isabel relaxed a bit, this being a more neutral question. "Um...she said they'd been looking for it. And that they can't exist here the way we can because they only have skins, not the DNA. She said their time limit was 50 years, and their time was almost up. She said, 'I need to find the Granolith if it's the last thing I do', and 'You're hiding it, the four of you, the royalty they tried to save by sending you here'."

"Huh," Tess said thoughtfully. "So...this is connected to the fact that their time is running out? Maybe it lets them live here longer than 50 years?

"She said we're royalty and there are four of us," Isabel noted. "That fits what we've heard."

"Why didn't you tell us she was looking for this?" Max asked.

"I did," Isabel said. "I mentioned it when we were leaving the power plant."

"But you didn't tell us the rest of it," Max said.

"And you didn't ask," Isabel countered.

"I was a little busy," Max said.

"What, and I wasn't?" Isabel demanded. "I didn't know what it was, and things got messy after that, so I kind of forgot about it."

"Isabel, we haven't talked about exactly what happened to you," Max said in a steely tone. "You haven't said, and I left you alone because I figured if there was anything really important, you would have spoken up. And now I find you heard all these things, and you haven't said a word?"

"I'm saying something now," Isabel protested.

"And it may not have mattered if you tried to dredge it all up earlier," Tess added. "I just remembered now when you brought it up."

"An enemy tells both of you they're looking for something, and neither of you remembers it?" Max said skeptically.

"Do you remember every single thing that was said to you when you were kidnapped?" Isabel said crossly.

Max thought for a moment. "Yeah. Pretty much."

"Guys," Tess warned. "We've all been through a lot. Let's not try to top each other."

"I'm not trying to 'top' anybody," Max said irritably. "I'm just saying—"

"Max, just leave it," Michael said.

A startled silence followed; Michael had yet to say a word, let alone weigh in on the current argument. "You?" Max said incredulously. "Of all people, I'd expect you to object to not knowing everything right away."

"What for?" Michael said. "Look, whatever this is has probably been here since our pods were put here, and we never even knew. So we went a little longer without knowing. So what?"

"So we all have a responsibility to report anything we learn," Max said. "The first thing I did after I got away from Pierce was tell everyone everything he'd said to me, everything I'd heard while I was at the base."

"The 'first' thing?" Michael said. "Because I saw you right after you got away from Pierce, and I don't recall you being chatty."

"You know what I mean," Max said impatiently. "After it was over. After the threat, the immediate threat, was gone. I know what it's like to be kidnapped, so that's not an excuse."

"Do you know what it's like to kill someone?" Michael paused while Max stared at him. "No? Because I do. It messes with your head. Leave her alone."

"I don't believe this," Max muttered.

"You know what I don't believe?" Michael said. "We're standing in front of something awesome, and all you can think about is the calendar. Aren't you the least bit interested in what this is? I mean, look at it! It's huge, it's glowing...what's powering it? If it was 'on' when Isabel found it, it must have been on before then—how come we never heard it? What's it for? Why was it hidden? These are the things I want to know. It must be incredibly important."

"Yeah, important enough that our enemies are kidnapping us to get to it," Max retorted, "which makes it helpful to know it exists in the first place. I'll be outside. It's getting a little hot in here."

Isabel's eyes dropped as Max stalked out. "I'll talk to him," Tess promised. "And don't worry about the shrink thing," she added, squeezing Isabel's hand. "We'll think of something."

Tess followed Max out, leaving Isabel alone with Michael. "Thank you," Isabel said quietly. "I wasn't expecting you to support me."

Michael shrugged. "I know what it's like to have a secret. How it makes you feel special."

"What do you mean?" Isabel said. "I didn't keep this secret—"

"Isabel...don't," Michael broke in. "Max may have missed how you wouldn't say when you found this, but I didn't. Kyle took you somewhere before he brought you back to the party that night, and you wouldn't say where. You came here, didn't you? You've known about it for weeks."

Crap, Isabel thought heavily. Here she thought she'd dodged that bullet. "So...are you going to tell Max?"

" 'Course not," Michael said. "I meant what I said. What difference does it make? This was here all along, and we didn't know. We don't know what it is or what it does, so all it can do for us is put us in danger if another Skin shows up looking for it. The fact that you and Tess didn't know about it may be the reason you're still alive."

"'re not mad at me?" Isabel ventured.

Michael came to stand beside her, sliding his arm around her shoulders as the cone hummed above them. "I'm not mad at you. You were mad at Max and me, which is why you didn't tell us. The way we jumped all over you that night, we didn't exactly encourage you to share."

They gazed up at the throbbing cone for a moment in silence. "What do you think it is?" Isabel whispered.

"No idea," Michael answered. "But that's not my first question. Somebody's willing to kill for this. I want to know why."


Crashdown Cafe

"Courtney, could you grab tables 5 and 7?" Mr. Parker asked. "That's a lot, but I'm afraid we're a bit short-handed today, and I know you can handle it."

"Sure, I'll…" Courtney stopped as the Crashdown's door dingled.

"If it's too much, just say so," Mr. Parker said. "I can always grab a pad and dive in."

"No, it's okay," Courtney said quickly. "I can handle it. No problem."

Five minutes later, Courtney stiffened again as the door opened when she was hanging up the orders for her new tables. This was what she couldn't handle, not tables, but the uncertainty. Vanessa had been dust for weeks now, and every single day she woke up expecting to find an invasion of Skins. That panic, that feeling of impending doom had lessened somewhat when they'd discovered that Vanessa had expected trouble and covered her tracks; when Liz Parker had returned to the office, she'd learned that Vanessa's personal assistant had been informed that her boss was taking a month-long "personal leave". But that month had come and gone, and when she hadn't returned, the hunt was on, in Washington and no doubt Copper Summit too. Frankly, Nicholas should have been here by now. That he wasn't was downright odd.

"Can I have more napkins?" a customer at the counter called. "The dispenser is empty."

"Comin' right up," Courtney promised. Maria was off today, which made life much quieter, but more hectic. She was just coming out of the stock room when Rath slipped in the back door.

"Did you have a good break?" Courtney asked. "Oh," she went on, noting the look on his face. "No, you didn't."

"Why do you say that?" Rath asked irritably. "I didn't say anything was wrong."

"You didn't have to," Courtney said.

"Well, maybe I don't want to talk about it," Rath retorted, grabbing an apron.

"Maybe you don't," Courtney agreed. "Forget I said anything."


Courtney paused as Rath hesitated in front of his locker. "I...I'm just not used to someone backing off. That doesn't happen very often."

"I hear you," Courtney remarked, knowing exactly what he meant—Maria was a veteran information-pumper. "This is me, backing off."

"Look, I'm...I'm sorry," Rath said.

"Don't be," Courtney said. "It's none of my business."

"No, it isn't," Rath agreed. "So why does your saying that make me want to make it your business?"

"Because it was your choice," Courtney answered. "I didn't demand it as my right. Next question?"

Rath smiled faintly. "I've got plenty of those. Unfortunately you're not the one to ask."

"Try me," Courtney said.

"Love to," Rath answered. "But I can't. All I can say is, just for once, I'd like to feel like the entire freakin' world isn't out to get me."

"Who's out to get you?" Courtney asked warily.

"No idea," Rath said. "Wish I had."

He went into the kitchen. Courtney slowly returned to the cafe as her unease grew. It could be just another spat with Maria, but it sure sounded like more…

"Any day, now, sweetheart," groused the napkin-less customer.

"What? Oh…sorry," Courtney said, pulling open the empty dispenser.

"Were they buried six feet under?" grumbled Napkin-less.

"No, but you're going to be if you keep that up," commented the man now occupying two seats down.

Courtney suppressed a smile as Napkin-less faced the newcomer. "Who the hell are you?" he demanded.

"I'm the one who's pointing out that if you want something, ask nicely. You owe her an apology."

Napkin-less snorted. "Like that's gonna happen."

"Perhaps I failed to make myself clear," his scolder said in a deadly voice. "Apologize. Now."

"Like hell I will!" declared Napkin-less. "It'll be a cold day somewhere before I…"

His voice trailed off when he saw the look on his scolder's face. "Uh...sorry," Napkin-less said sullenly, plucking a napkin from the now full dispenser and returning to his meal. Courtney studiously ignored them both for a good five minutes before slipping a cup of coffee onto the counter.

"Threatening customers? Not good for business. You know that, right?"

Brivari shrugged. "He should be grateful I didn't make him say thank you."

"That's two words," Courtney noted. "Not sure he could handle that."

"Why didn't you take him down a notch?" Brivari asked without even a ghost of a smile at that last remark. "It's not like you to take anyone's crap."

"I pick my battles," Courtney said. "I didn't pick that one. Not to mention he's right; I took my sweet time coming back."

"Hardly an excuse for being a jackass," Brivari said. "He could have helped himself to a napkin off any unoccupied table."

"There aren't any unoccupied tables," Courtney said.

"Your point?" Brivari said.

Is made, Courtney thought silently, deciding not to pick this battle either. Brivari had been in a mood of late, if "mood" was the right word to describe one's reaction to the death of the only other being like you on the planet. His current pique actually represented one of his better days.

"Well...thank you for being my knight in shining armor," Courtney said. "Much as I never saw that coming."

"You still haven't," Brivari said bluntly. "You don't need saving. He just pissed me off."

Courtney cocked an eyebrow. "Right. My mistake. So...any luck with the house?"

Brivari snorted, Jaddo's now empty house being one of several sore subjects. "I've practically torn that place down to the studs. No box."

"Mmm," Courtney murmured, privately grateful that he'd had no better luck than she had. "Then it must be somewhere else."

"He must have hidden it offsite," Brivari nodded darkly. "Or maybe he just buried it in the backyard. Maybe I should dig for it, like a dog looking for his bone."

"Or maybe she has it," Courtney said.

" 'She'?"

"Ava. Think about it," Courtney said, having spent a good deal of time doing just that. "He raised her. They were alone for years. He must have had some way to find it so it wouldn't be lost forever, and it's logical that he set that up with her."

"A hybrid?" Brivari said skeptically. "They can't wipe themselves without getting into trouble. No," he went on, shaking his head, "Jaddo was stubborn, and blinkered, and absolutely maddening, but even he wouldn't have dropped something so precious into a hybrid's lap."

"You sure about that?" Courtney asked.

Brivari fixed her with a steely glare. "Perhaps you think you knew him better than I did?"

"Of course not," Courtney said calmly. "Just running over the options."

"Run over them in silence," Brivari said coldly. "Have you heard from Larak?"

"No," Courtney admitted.

"I knew it," Brivari muttered. "I told him not to transfer. I told him it was too dangerous. They got to him."

"We don't know that," Courtney said. "Look, you want to be all doom and gloom? Go right ahead. Me, I'll hold the keening until I know for sure what's going on. When you're Resistance, you learn to wait for information. You kind of have to." She glanced around the cafe. "I've got tables. Back in a few."

Now grateful for the extra tables, Courtney escaped to the blissful monotony of taking orders for greasy food, all the better to take her mind off how guilty she was feeling. Larak had indeed disappeared, but what Brivari didn't know was that he'd vanished after she had done an end run around both the King and his Warder, presenting a treaty to the leader of another planet and committing treason in the process. While the possibility of something dire having happened to Larak had crossed her mind, it was far more likely that he was shopping the treaty to their sister planets. As much as she'd love to know he was okay, a part of her was dreading his return. If Brivari was in a foul mood now, just imagine how angry he'd be when he found out that the treaty he'd—predictably—rejected was under consideration, as she assumed it must be or Larak would have returned by now. God, he'd be furious. She'd probably need Dee to intercede on her behalf…

Her phone buzzed just as she went back behind the counter. Speak of the devil, Courtney thought dryly, fully expecting it to be Dee. One glance inside her pocket told her otherwise.

"Agnes," Courtney said urgently to the famously grumpy waitress, "could you—"

"Oh, no you don't," Agnes declared, wagging a nicotine-stained finger at her. "You do this to Maria all the time, but I'm not Maria."

"I noticed," Courtney agreed, "but—"

"And no 'buts'," Agnes said firmly. "Do your job and wait for your break just like the rest of us."

"And which break would that be, exactly?" Courtney said. "Your beginning of shift break, your mid-shift break, your mid-mid-shift break, or your end-of-shift break?"

"What are you trying to say?" Agnes demanded.

"I'm not 'trying' to say anything," Courtney retorted. "What I am saying is that either you cover me, or the next time you step out back for a smoke in the middle of a rush, I'm taking pictures and telling Mr. Parker."

Agnes' face reddened. "Why, you little—"

"Order up!" Rath called. "Agnes—yo! These are yours. Get'im while they're hot. I'm not reheating them."

Agnes scowled, but grabbed the plates and stalked off, completely missing Rath's wink. "Thank you," Courtney whispered.

"Don't mention it," Rath shrugged. "Go on. I'll keep Miss Waggy Digit busy."

Courtney retreated gratefully to the bathroom and pulled out her phone. When she returned to the cafe five minutes later, her face was white.

"What's the matter with you?" Brivari said. "You look like you've seen a ghost."

"I have," Courtney admitted. "In a way."

"Elaborate, or be silent," Brivari commanded irritably. "I don't like guessing games."

Courtney leaned in closer. "I just got a call from the Resistance. They never call me off schedule unless it's an emergency. It seems that right before she died, Vanessa told Nicholas about the treaty."


"So he blew his stack," Courtney said. "She told him it was his duty as Khivar's Second to present the treaty to Khivar whether he liked it or not, and that if he refused, she'd present it herself...and tell him why."

Brivari's finger tapped on his coffee cup. "And this qualifies as an emergency...why?"

"Don't you get it?" Courtney said. "Nicholas doesn't realize Vanessa's dead. He thinks she's jumped ship, and he's right—that's why she planned that nice long 'vacation', to give her time to get away." She paused. "She actually broke with Nicholas. She actually went against him in favor of the treaty."

"Is this useless information supposed to make me sorry she's dead?" Brivari demanded.

"No, it's supposed to make you sorry we lost a stab at peace," Courtney said. "A part of me always wondered if Vanessa really meant it. Looks like she did."

"So what?" Brivari snapped.

"So forgive me if I'm bummed that it might have had a chance!" Courtney exclaimed impatiently. "Are you so invested in war that you can't get your shapeshifting head around peace?"

Oops. Brivari promptly turned a very worrisome, albeit interesting, shade of purple. "She kidnapped the Queen!" he snapped.

"And Dee and I both told her she was nuts to do that," Courtney said. "We told her she'd just wrecked the one and only chance we've ever had to settle this mess by doing the one thing you'd never forgive."

"Which makes it all the more of a waste of time to spend so much as a single second musing on her motives," Brivari said.

"Oh, stop it," Courtney said wearily. "You never would have supported so much as a look at that treaty even if she'd hadn't kidnapped Ava. That's just a convenient excuse for not doing what you never would have done anyway."

"That treaty got Jaddo killed," Brivari said furiously, "so forgive me if I'm not all starry-eyed over its chances."

"You wouldn't have given it the time of day even if he hadn't died, and you know it," Courtney retorted. "How about this? How about we make his death mean something by giving serious consideration to the biggest, most courageous thing that bitch of a Warder ever did?"

That interesting shade of purple morphed to several shades as Brivari and Courtney faced off, practically nose to nose over the counter. She knew she was playing with fire, but she'd had it. The news that Vanessa had not been conning her cut deeply because a part of her had never really believed she was being genuine. This was confirmation that the two most unlikely people in the history of Antar had reached a truce, and if they could do it, anyone could. All except this sad sack of a Warder, that is, who would categorically reject any attempt to keep the treaty alive not because he thought it had killed Jaddo, but because it had been written without him, because he hadn't been invited to the party. This was nothing but a temper tantrum, pure and simple.

"Is...there a problem here?"

It was Mr. Parker, observing their stand-off with concern. "No," Courtney answered coldly. "Just an animated discussion."

Mr. Parker studied Brivari's scowling face. "Aren't you the same guy who was yanking her chain a few weeks back?"

Courtney felt a stab of remorse at the pain that flashed across Brivari's face; the "guy who was yanking her chain" needed no translation. "I am not," Brivari said curtly, rising from his seat and throwing bills on the counter. "And more's the pity. Good afternoon."

He strode out as Mr. Parker turned questioning eyes on Courtney. "It wasn't the same guy," she said truthfully. "And it really was just a discussion."

"You know him?" Mr. Parker asked.

"Yes," Courtney said, still amazed that she could honestly saw she "knew" a Royal Warder. "He's had a rough time lately. He's kind of short-tempered, and I just got tired of it."

"We've all had rough times," Mr. Parker said disapprovingly. "That's no excuse for harassing my staff."

"He...lost someone," Courtney said, knowing Mr. Parker could relate. "Just a few weeks ago. Someone very close to him."

Mr. Parker's expression softened. "Oh. Oh, I...just let me know if it gets out of hand, okay?"

"Will do," Courtney promised.

Courtney returned to her tables with a heavy heart, surprised to find herself a bit shaky. Brivari would never wear that face in here again, but she'd felt an obligation to defend him all the same. She shouldn't have goaded him like that; the disappointment of having been so close had gotten the best of her. If only Jaddo and Vanessa hadn't died. If only two of the people she hated most on this planet had lived, there might have been a better chance. It was true that Brivari would have fought the treaty anyway, but now that he believed it to be the cause of Jaddo's death, it was deader than dead to him, not to mention that his worsening bad mood was disturbing. She knew what it felt like to lose someone close to you. She'd felt the same way when her father had died.

Transitions, Courtney thought sadly as she took another round of orders. They suck.


Roswell International Airport

The flight board winked and blinked, information changing faster than one could read. Flight 286, Dee read from the list of arriving flights. Gate 5.

"Well?" Anthony asked from behind his newspaper when she joined him in the rocking chairs so thoughtfully provided by the local airport.

"It's here," Dee said heavily. "Or at least that's what the board says. I liked it better when these things were announced over a loudspeaker by an actual person."

"Luddite," Anthony smiled.

"Are you sure you're okay with this?" Dee asked.

"Of course I'm okay with it," Anthony answered.

"No, I mean really okay with it."

Anthony's newspaper dipped, his eyes peering at her over the top. "Haven't we been over this already?"

"Yes, but we're talking about having another person come to live with us."

"I know that," Anthony said.

"Indefinitely," Dee added.

"I know that too."

"So that's a big step," Dee said. "A big step."

Anthony folded his newspaper neatly on his lap. "Not as big as it will be for her. That's what this is really about, isn't it? That it could be you?"

"That some day, it will be me," Dee said sadly.

"Some day, it will be all of us," Anthony noted. "But it's not us, not today. Let's not waste today worrying about tomorrow." He rose from his seat. "Shall we?"

They walked down the terminal to Gate 5, where passengers were only just beginning to disembark. A full ten minutes later, a white-haired woman trundled off the jetway pulling a rolling suitcase behind her, and smiled at them. "Yvonne!" Dee said, pulling her into a hug. "We're so glad to see you again."

"And so very sorry for the reason," Anthony added gently.

"Yes, was inevitable, I guess." Yvonne squeezed Dee's hand. "I'm grateful for your invitation, and I want you to feel free to rescind it at any time if this doesn't work out for you. I realize it's a big step."

"Nonsense," Dee said briskly, avoiding Anthony's gaze as they stepped off the escalator to the baggage claim. "Do you have many bags?"

"Only two," Yvonne answered, "both red. I packed rather quickly, I'm afraid. An awful lot stayed behind in my apartment. I'll have to go through it all at some point."

"But not now," Dee assured her, "and not without help. Here we are," she went on as they reached the baggage carousel, already spewing luggage. "Anthony, would you be a dear?"

"Two red suitcases, coming right up," Anthony said, joining the throng around the revolving bags.


"Buddy, you gonna take that?"

The question appeared to startle the man holding a suitcase half on, half off the carousel. "What? Oh...sorry, I...I thought I saw someone I knew."

"It's an airport," his fellow passenger shrugged. "Happens all the time."

Not to me, the man thought, pulling his suitcase out of the scrum. He hadn't been here in over fifty years. He hadn't been certain he would come at all, deciding only at the last minute to buy a seriously expensive airline ticket he couldn't afford. He must be getting nostalgic in his old age, to the point where he was seeing things. The face in question had belonged to a woman, and there hadn't been any dames in his unit way back when.

The Roswell sunshine outside the terminal was every bit as fierce as he remembered, causing him to squint so much that the shuttle waiting by the curb was almost invisible. "509th Bomb Group!" barked the driver. "Line forms on the right!"


I'll be busy over Halloween weekend, so I'll post Chapter 40 on Sunday, November 8. :)
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 39, 10/

Post by keepsmiling7 » Sun Oct 18, 2015 9:15 pm

The royal four had an interesting encounter in the pod chamber.
Loved Agnes and Courtney going against each other.
Great part,

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Kathy W
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Chapter 40

Post by Kathy W » Sun Jan 17, 2016 10:41 pm

The board's back! Image I'm on hiatus until January 31, but I'll fill in the missing chapters and bring this board up to speed with my other boards before then.


October 29, 2000, 6:30 p.m.

Evans residence

"Could you pass the bread, please?" Max said.

"Sure, honey," his mother answered. "Izzie?"

Across the table, Isabel busied herself with her dinner plate and ignored them. "Isabel?" Diane persisted.

"What?" Isabel said.

"Your brother would like the bread," Diane said.

"So?" Isabel said.

Max watched his parents exchange glances. "So it's closest to you," Philip said. "Would you please pass it?"

Isabel grabbed the bread basket and passed it to Philip. "I didn't want it, sweetheart," Philip said. "Max did."

"So pass it to him," Isabel shrugged.

There was a brief pause before Philip handed the bread basket to Max, who took it without comment. Isabel had been angry with him since they'd returned from the pod chamber, which was okay with him because he was angry with her too. She'd obviously found that huge, glowing whatever-it-was a while ago, maybe even as long ago as the birthday party, and said nothing to anyone. That she would make such a momentous discovery and keep it to herself for even ten minutes was infuriating. That she would do so while they were in the midst of murderers and kidnappers was downright dangerous. They'd almost lost Isabel and Tess over that thing, and probably had lost Nasedo over it. To stay silent on a subject of such importance was completely unacceptable.

"So how was the game?" Philip asked.

"Fine," Isabel said.

"Not very descriptive," Diane noted.

"What's to describe?" Isabel said. "It's a football game. Someone yells 'Hut!', they all run and pile on top of each other, and then a whistle blows. Then they do it again. And again, and again."

"Pretty much describes football," Philip chuckled as Diane frowned. "Who won?"

No one said anything. His parents watched them both expectantly as Max debated fibbing his way through this, ultimately deciding that wasn't a good idea right now. "I don't know," he admitted. "I didn't see all of it. I left early."

"Oh?" Philip said. "Why?"

"There were some...things going on with our friends," Max said. "Taking care of that was more important than watching the game."

"Did you leave early too, sweetheart?" Diane asked Isabel.

"No," Isabel answered.

"Yes," Max said.

They had spoken simultaneously. Across the table, Isabel's eyes flashed as their parents stopped eating, their heads swinging slowly from one child to the other. "Well, which?" Philip asked. "Did Isabel leave early too, or not?"

There was a strained silence as Max and Isabel eyed each other across the table. "Yes," Max answered, "she did. We left together."

"Then...why did you say you hadn't?" Diane ventured.

"Because I don't want to give chapter and verse on every single thing I do," Isabel said peevishly.

"I can't speak for your mother, but I wasn't going to ask for chapter and verse," Philip said evenly. "Your friends are your business, and I'm glad they're more important to you than a football game."

Everyone resumed eating. No more lies, Iz, Max thought as a heavy silence settled over the table. Lies were precisely why his parents were exchanging meaningful glances from opposite ends of the table while Isabel fumed over her plate. Lies were why he was nursing a grudge against his own sister. The lies had to stop.

" two have a fight?" his father asked.

"No," Isabel said.

"Yes," Max said.

They had spoken simultaneously again. Diane sighed heavily as Philip looked questioningly at Isabel. "Sweetie?"

"Dad, don't call me 'sweetie'," Isabel said irritably. "My name is 'Isabel'."

"As one of the two people who named you, I know that," Philip said. "So you and Max had a fight."

"Why do you just assume he's right?" Isabel demanded.

"Because he was right the last time," Philip answered. "Your track record is less than stellar."

Isabel pushed her beans around her plate for a moment. "I just didn't want to get into it."

"You could have answered truthfully and still declined to 'get into it'," Philip said.

"I didn't lie," Isabel insisted.

"Yeah, honey, you kind of did," Philip said.

"More than 'kind of'," Diane observed.

"You asked if we'd had a fight," Isabel said. "It wasn't exactly a 'fight', so I didn't lie."

"I also asked where you were all those nights when you were supposedly at friends' houses," Diane said. "Are you going to tell me you weren't 'exactly' not there, so those weren't lies?"

"See, this is why I don't go into detail, because I always get the third degree," Isabel grumbled.

"Where you are isn't a 'detail'," Philip said. "It's something we have to know for your own safety."

" 'Safety'?" Isabel said scornfully. "That's a laugh. There's no such thing as 'safety'."

Max stayed on the sidelines even as his parents exchanged more worried glances. Isabel was right, of course, and he knew exactly what she meant, but there was no way to communicate that to their parents. On the contrary, doing so would only make things worse.

"Isabel, your father and I have decided it would be a good idea for you to see a therapist," Diane announced.

Finally, Max thought as a startled hush fell over the table. The cat was out of the bag, and Isabel certainly couldn't say he hadn't warned her. "What?" Isabel exclaimed, sounding genuinely surprised. "Why?"

"Because of all the lying," Diane said. "And the mood you've been in."

"And here we go again," Isabel said angrily. "You always overreact, and now you're doing it again! A therapist? Really?"

Not helping, Max thought wearily as his mother's eyes hardened. "Yes, really," Diane answered. "Now you're fighting with your brother, which you never do."

"Right, so Max and I have a fight, and I go to a therapist?" Isabel protested. "Why me and not him?"

"I just think something needs to be done," Diane said stubbornly.

"And your idea of 'doing something' is sending me to that therapist Max saw?" Isabel demanded.

"Definitely not that quack," Philip muttered.

"Philip!" Diane admonished. "He wasn't a quack. He helped Max; your own mother said so."

"Max, help me out here," Isabel begged. "So we had a what? Brothers and sisters always do that. That doesn't mean I need a therapist."

"Yes, Max, what do you think?" Diane said. "You've had some therapy, so do you think it's a good idea? Do you think that would help her?"

No, Max thought, keeping his eyes on his plate. Therapy wouldn't help Isabel, but something had to be done. He'd tried to warn her. He'd told her they were considering this, but here she was provoking them in spite of that warning. If she wanted to be mad at him, fine, but this show of hostility mere hours after he'd warned her this was coming was just plain stupid. Maybe she should go to therapy just to learn a lesson about keeping her mouth shut…

"Great," Isabel said stiffly, rising from her chair. "Thanks for nothing, Max."

"Isabel, wait!" Philip called as she stormed off.

"Izzie, honey, come back," Diane begged.

"I'll talk to her," Max said, pushing his chair back.

"Let him go," Philip said when Diane began to object. "If they had a fight, maybe they need to talk."

"Like they did here?" Diane said skeptically. "Because that was so helpful. This wasn't just a fight, Philip, this is part of a pattern. Why do you just shrug everything off?"

"Why do you blow it out of proportion?" Philip said. "Because she has a point…"

Max left his parents bickering and went down the hall to Isabel's room, where he encountered a locked door. "By all means, come right in," she said irritably when he made short work of that. "Because locking the door always means 'come right in'."

"So you're mad at me," Max said. "Join the club, because I'm pissed too. Why didn't you tell us what Whitaker said? Why didn't you tell us what you'd found in the pod chamber? Why did you wait so long?"

"And here we go again," Isabel sighed. "God, you're just like Mom! What difference does it make? Even Michael didn't care!"

"Michael's just covering his own ass because Michael did the same thing," Max said. "River Dog came to him, and he didn't tell us...and almost got himself killed."

"So now you're going to take that out on me?" Isabel demanded. "Because telling Mom to send me to a shrink will solve everything. It certainly did for you."

"I never said that—"

"No, you didn't say anything!" Isabel exclaimed. "You sweated therapy all summer, and we sweated with you, but you just sold me down the river!"

"Isabel, you did that to yourself," Max said sternly. "I warned you Mom was trying to get Dad to agree to a therapist, so what do you do? You throw a tantrum at the dinner table! Why would you do that when I'd already told you she'd all but talked him into it?"

"If he was already talked into it, then it didn't matter what I did," Isabel retorted.

Both of them eyed one another, seething in silence as Max reflected that this was only getting worse the angrier they became. "Okay," he said after a moment, trying to stifle his feelings, to find a middle ground. "I'm sorry I got angry with you. I almost lost you, so to find out that you hadn't told me something so hurt. And it worried me. What if I can't protect you because of something I don't know?"

Isabel stared into space for what seemed like a long time before her expression softened. "I...I didn't know what to do. I...killed somebody, Max. I killed somebody. God," she said quietly, shaking her head. "It sounds so weird to say that out loud. Those are words I never thought I'd hear myself say." She paused. "The pod chamber was the one place I could go and be truly alone. No one would expect to find me there, not even you. And I didn't want to deal with what it meant because I wanted so badly for all of it to just go away. I knew the minute I told you what I'd found, you'd all be in there gawping at it, and I'd lose the one place I could be alone."

Max smiled faintly. " 'Gawping'. Is that what we were doing?"

"It's what I was doing," Isabel admitted.

Max sat down beside her, slipped an arm around her shoulders. "Okay, we were gawping. But you've gotta admit, it's gawp-worthy."

"It is," Isabel agreed. "Whatever it is, it's actually kind of…"

"Cool," Max finished.

"Yeah," Isabel said wonderingly. "That. And we made it. Our…'people', I mean. Wherever we come from, they can make things like that."

"Does...that make you want to know more about them?" Max asked.

Isabel was quiet for a moment. "Maybe," she whispered.

There was a brief knock at the door. "Oh, honey, look," Philip said, poking his head into the room as Max and Isabel spun around. "They've made up."

"For the moment," Diane allowed.


"Philip," Diane said warningly, "we agreed. Tell them."

"Tell us what?" Isabel asked fearfully.

Their parents filled the doorway, one resolute, the other resigned. "Your mother and I have reached a compromise," Philip said. "I've agreed to a few sessions with a therapist as long as it's not the same therapist Max saw."

Max squeezed the hand his sister slipped into his, hoping she wouldn't overreact and validate their decision. "Maybe a different therapist is a good idea," he said as Isabel looked away, stunned.

"I'm glad you think so, sweetheart, because your sister had a point," Diane said. "If the two of you are fighting, maybe you could both use someone to talk to. So we'd like you to have some sessions too."

"And then you can both evaluate the new person," Philip went on, "and tell us if they're being helpful or not."

Max stared at him, the prospect of more months of lying looming ahead. "So it's a plan," Philip went on cheerfully, as though silence meant agreement. "I don't know who you'll be seeing, but your mother and I will look into other therapists."

"Grandma," Isabel said suddenly. "Ask Grandma Dee. Maybe she knows someone."

"My mother?" Philip said doubtfully. "Why would she know anything about—"

"What a good idea!" Diane broke in brightly. "I'll go call her right away."

"You will?" Philip said.

"Hush," Diane whispered as she led him away. "She loves your mother, and if it makes her feel better, I'll do just about anything…"

Max and Isabel sat in silence, watching the doorway as though hoping their parents would reappear and take everything back. "What is it they say about misery?" Isabel said finally.

"That it loves company?" Max said.

"Yeah," Isabel said dully. "That."


Valenti residence

Tess Harding passed a hand over the doorknob, sealing it shut. A moment later she reached under the bed, opening her secret hiding space. The alien box was cool and curved in her hand as she removed it and set it on the bed. Six whole weeks had gone by since Nasedo's death—would it open? Holding her breath, she held a hand over it and closed her eyes.

Nothing. The box remained closed, impervious to the power she sent through it. Crap, Tess thought disconsolately, flopping on the bed. Shouldn't it be open by now? How long had Nasedo expected her to wait? Wasn't six weeks long enough? She'd been so hopeful that the box would open, that something inside would tell them what that glowing thing in the pod chamber was for, what a "Granolith" was for. It was maddening that Nasedo had never told her about it, leaving her gawking like the rest of them, just like it was maddening that Isabel had been the one to find it. If she'd found it, she would have…what? Kept it to herself? Pretended she'd known all along? Probably impossible to do the first once that hole in the pods had revealed the light, and inadvisable to do the second; nothing good would come of the Others thinking she was keeping things from them. So why did she wish she had been the one to find it? Because I deserve to, she thought fiercely. The Others had lived an idyllic life in sunny Roswell while she'd spent her life on the run. Okay, maybe Michael's life hadn't been exactly "idyllic", but at least he'd had some semblance of a family with Max and Isabel and their human parents. Their world, their birthright, was all she had, so she should have been the one to find this huge, obviously Important Something and report it to the Others, and since she hadn't been, she should at least be the one to tell them what it was and how it worked. She was certain the answers to those questions must be in this box because how could something like that have been left in their pod chamber without an instruction manual of some sort? But the box remained stubbornly closed, taunting her. She had something none of the rest of them had, but what good did it do her if she couldn't use it?

A knock came at the door. "Tess?" Kyle's voice called. "Dinner's ready." The doorknob rattled. " this locked?"

"Yeah," Tess answered, scrambling off the bed. "Just a sec."

"Why is the door locked?" Kyle said, rattling the knob some more.

"I'm changing my clothes," Tess said, shoving the box back into its hiding space. "People usually like to do that in private." She sealed the floorboard over the box and unlocked the bedroom door.

"You're...wearing the same clothes," Kyle noted.

"Yeah, I didn't like the new outfit, so I put this back on," Tess shrugged.

"Talk about a waste of time," Kyle said. "Is this a girl thing? Changing your clothes, then changing your mind, then changing them back, all behind a locked door?"

"What's the matter, Kyle?" Tess said coyly. "Haven't you ever done anything in your bedroom behind a locked door?"

Kyle promptly pinked, as she knew he would; the magazines under the bed had no doubt been well and truly thumbed with one hand down his pants, all behind that locked door. "No," he said quickly, his eyes widening as her eyebrows rose. "I mean...uh...well...dinner's ready! Come and get it!"

"Worst subject change ever," Tess noted as she followed him to the kitchen, where Sheriff Valenti was stirring something in the oven.

"Hey!" the sheriff called. "Have a seat—dinner's almost ready."

"Tater tots?" Tess asked.

"And chicken rondolets," Valenti said, adding proudly, "and I made salads."

Progress, Tess thought approvingly as she took a seat. Cooking at the Valenti household had more to do with microwaving than actual cooking. Most meals consisted of some sort of frozen, breaded product, often more than one, and only rarely anything consisting of fruit or vegetable matter. An actual salad, which required more than simply slapping grapes, bananas, or apples on the table, was unheard of. "So how'd you like that game, eh?" Valenti said. "Wasn't that fumble pretty spectacular? Won the game for our guys, that's for sure."

Tess blinked; she'd completely forgotten about the football game, and had no idea who'd won. "Yeah, spectacular," she agreed. "Totally."

"Hang on just a sec," Valenti said, scurrying back to the oven. "I think the tater tots are burning."

Kyle eyed her across the table. "Liar," he whispered.

"Hmm?" Tess murmured, privately wondering if it was possible to burn tater tots, and if doing so would make them taste better.

"You left the game early," Kyle said. "I saw you and the rest of them creeping away before the end of the first half."

" 'A', we weren't 'creeping', and 'B', weren't you supposed to be playing? How did you find time to scan the stands for just a few people several rows up? Why, Kyle Valenti," Tess went on with amusement as Kyle looked distinctly uncomfortable. "Were you looking for me? In the middle of a game? How sweet."

"Don't get all sappy," Kyle said crossly. "I just happened to see you all walking out between plays. Where'd you go?"

"None of your business," Tess answered calmly.

"Maybe not, but what was so important that you had to leave in the middle of a game?" Kyle said.

"Exactly what part of 'none of your business' are you having trouble with?" Tess asked.

Kyle leaned in closer. "You know, I could tell my dad that you just lied to him."

Tess leaned in closer. "You know, I could tell your dad that you were nasty to Max before the game."

"I was joking!" Kyle protested. "And besides, he was a real ass the night of Isabel's party, demanding to know where I'd taken her like she was his slave, or something."

"Oh, you mean like you're demanding to know where we went, and threatening me if I don't tell you?" Tess said. "So the way to protest Max being an ass is to be one yourself. Way to go, Kyle."

"I wasn't looking for you up in the stands," Kyle insisted.

"I know you weren't," Tess said. "You were looking for Isabel."

Kyle blushed furiously as Valenti set two large cookie sheets of previously frozen, breaded goodness on the table. "Here we go!" he announced gaily. "Let's celebrate your win!"

"With real food for a change," Kyle muttered, stabbing a rondolet.

"So did you know Tess was there cheering you on?" Valenti asked.

"Heck, no, Dad!" Kyle said brightly. "When I'm playing, I'm so busy I wouldn't even notice Martians in the stands."


Proctor residence

Yvonne White unzipped her suitcase, her stiff hands clutching at the zipper which ran clear around the case. The new fashion for soft luggage with loads of zippers was not kind to the arthritic, and she had to stop and start again several times, each time repositioning her hands to get a better grip. At last the lid gave way and she pulled it back, digging into the contents to remove what she'd buried in the middle, the better to protect it. The silver frame shone, it's glass undamaged, and the two faces in the photo it contained smiled back at her, young, healthy, full of promise. More digging produced a battered watch, a set of captain's bars, and a cardigan sweater which had seen better days. Yvonne unfolded it, smoothing the wrinkles and buttoning the buttons before holding it to her cheek and inhaling deeply. It still smelled like him.


It was Dee, standing hesitantly in the doorway of the little bedroom which had been hers as a child. "If this is a bad time, I can come back later."

"No, no," Yvonne said. "It's not a bad time. No worse than any other."

Dee came into the room and laid a set of towels on the end of the bed. "I wish I could offer you your own bathroom, but I'm afraid we'll have to share the tub, at least. We put a powder room downstairs, but the only tub is up here…"

She stopped as Yvonne waved a dismissive hand. "No worries. Just let me know when the two of you usually take baths, and I'll be sure to pick a different time."

"But we don't want to disrupt your schedule," Dee protested.

Yvonne smiled faintly. "I do. When I'm doing new things...I miss him less."

Dee sat down on the end of the bed. "I'm so sorry," she said gently. "I can't imagine what it must be like to lose your husband."

"I should have been able to," Yvonne said. "Stephen had Alzheimer's for years, so I certainly had plenty of time to get used to what was coming. He'd reached the point where he didn't recognize me, where every time he saw me, it was like he was meeting me for the first time. So you'd think I'd be ready for it...but I wasn't. I wasn't," she said softly. "Not even close."

"How did it happen?" Dee asked.

Yvonne shrugged. "He didn't just wake up. He hadn't been ill, no more so than usual, that is. They found him in the morning. He was already cold, so he'd been gone for a while."

"So no warning," Dee said sadly.

"You don't feel it at first," Yvonne went on. "There's too much to do. Belongings to collect, death certificates to file, phone calls to make. It's afterwards that it hits you. I wasn't sure it would. I've lived without Stephen for so long now, I wasn't sure how much it would matter when he was truly gone...but it does. Sort of like couples who've lived together think getting married won't matter, but it does."

Dee looked at the little pile on the bed. "Were these his things?"

Yvonne nodded, fingering the buttons on the worn sweater. "Everyone always says that material possessions don't matter, that people are more important than things, and that's exactly right…until those people are gone. Then those things become terribly important because it's all you have left of them."

"And now Jaddo's dead too," Dee murmured. "Although I doubt Brivari has any 'things' of his to sort through."

"It's been a bad year across the board," Yvonne agreed. "How is he?"

"Angry," Dee answered. "And grieving, even if he won't admit it."

"Have you told him about Stephen?"

Dee shook her head. "No. God, no. The last thing he needed was more bad news. He's in quite the mood."

"Understandably," Yvonne said. "And how are the kids?"

"I wish I knew," Dee sighed. "We used to have at least some inkling of what they were up to because Tess would talk to Jaddo, and Jaddo would let us know. But since he died…"

"That line of communication no longer exists," Yvonne nodded. "And at the worst possible time, when Isabel has to deal with having killed someone."

"Brivari saw all that, so we knew what happened there," Dee said, "but there must be so much more. Courtney's trying hard to eavesdrop more, but she hasn't been able to come up with much. I swear I'm going to bug their bedrooms."

"A rather drastic measure," Yvonne said, "especially if they find the bug. They'll be terrified the Special Unit is back in town."

"Can't I just plant the bug, and 'fess up if they find it?" Dee said glumly.

"Frankly, I think it's time to 'fess up anyway," Yvonne said. "I understand why Brivari wants to stay in the background, but there's no reason you have to. Max can't compel you."

Dee looked troubled. "You should have seen him that night, after it was over and Isabel came back to the party. He was...well, he was downright insufferable. Ordering her to tell him where she'd been, snapping at me...he was rude, he was patronizing, he was everything he shouldn't be if he's going to handle that power responsibly. Brivari's right—he has to stay out of sight, at least for now."

Anthony appeared in the bedroom doorway. "It's Diane," he announced, brandishing a phone, "and she sounds...well, she sounds like Diane."

"Oh, good Lord, what's she hyperventilating about now?" Dee muttered, taking the phone. "Diane!" she said brightly as Yvonne raised an amused eyebrow. "Hello, dear! How is everyone this fine Sunday?"

There was a long pause while Dee listened. "I see," she murmured. "Yes, of course you're concerned, but...what? You want to do what?" she demanded, her voice rising abruptly. "Are you serious? After what happened last time…. Yes, but..." Dee rolled her eyes as an agitated voice floated from the phone. "Yes, I did say that, but do you really think that would help? That last doctor was just…" Dee stopped abruptly, her eyes fastening on Yvonne. "Actually, Diane, I do have a suggestion for you, one I think you'll like. Can I get back to you? In, say, an hour or so?"

"Goodness, what was that all about?" Anthony asked when Dee rang off.

"Our dear darling daughter-in-law wants to put Isabel in therapy because of the way she's been acting lately," Dee said.

"You can't blame her," Yvonne said gently. "Diane doesn't know what's wrong, but she knows something's wrong."

"It gets worse," Dee said. "She wants Max back in therapy too. My whitewashing his first doctor with all those "coping skills" makes her think they could both use more coping skills."

"The price of success," Anthony said ruefully.

"But she asked me to help her find a new doctor," Dee continued, "and I happen to know one with time on her hands. One Diane would welcome with open arms, and who would never blow them in no matter what they let slip."

"Oh, I don't know," Yvonne said doubtfully. "Do you think Philip would accept an old lady as his children's therapist?"

"I think Philip would accept anyone who wasn't that other doctor," Dee said. "What do you say? It would be much safer for the kids, and it would give you something to do. And maybe you could convince Diane that they're fine, and don't need therapists."

"I'm not sure any of us are 'fine'," Yvonne said. "But I'll help in any way I can. If you can get their parents to agree, I'll do it."

"Excellent!" Dee said. "At least if they have to put up with therapists again, this time it will be the right one. Okay...first crisis of the day averted. Will you join us downstairs for dinner?"

"I'd love to," Yvonne said. "I've spent years eating alone. It will be good to have someone to talk to." She reached for her bag, meaning to pack up the things she'd been going through, when Dee picked up the framed photograph.

"I remember when you both looked like this. Was this taken on the base?"

"In 1950," Yvonne nodded, "right before we had to run. We were on our way to look for Captain Carver to see what he knew about that reporter who died right after the crash."

"Whatever happened to Captain Carver after the compound was shut down?" Dee asked. "Cavitt was hounding him, wasn't he? Did Carver ever find out he was free?"

"No idea," Yvonne said. "We never saw him again."


Holiday Inn, Roswell

"Welcome to the 509th Reunion!" the cheerful, far-too-young lady trilled to the next attendee, perched on her folding chair behind a long table full of carefully Sharpied name tags. "May I get you your name tag?"

"I'm guessing I can find it myself," the man said, sounded vaguely irritated. "I know my own name."

"But that's my job!" the young lady admonished. "You wouldn't want to deprive a lady of her job, would you?"

For a moment, the man looked like he was going to argue that point. But then his expression softened, and he shook his head. "No, ma'am, I would not. It's Carver. Captain Harold Carver."


I'm posting again beginning Sunday, January 31 with Chapter 43, but I'll put up 41 and 42 before that date. :)
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 40, 1/17

Post by keepsmiling7 » Tue Jan 19, 2016 1:27 pm

Poor parents have not a clue as to what their kids are doing......
And the kids are almost giving it away.
Wonder if the therapist idea is going to work?
Thanks for the update,

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Re: Birthright *Series* Season 2 (CC, TEEN), Chapter 40, 1/17

Post by Misha » Fri Jan 22, 2016 4:52 pm

The Boards are back!!!

Yvonne is back!!

You're back!!!

My goodness, my poor heart :mrgreen:

I'm enjoying how Tess baits Kyle way too much :lol:

Ah! I knew you wouldn't let the therapist point drop. I can't wait to see what comes out of that!! Plus, it's good to remember that Max never really dealt with the whole White Room, not until it started haunting him months afterwards. :|

"There's addiction, and there's Roswell!"

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Chapter 41

Post by Kathy W » Mon Jan 25, 2016 2:00 pm

The boards are indeed back! Life is good! :mrgreen:


October 30, 2000, 8:30 a.m.

Eagle Rock Military Base

"Welcome aboard, ladies and gentlemen!" chirped the perky tour guide. "In a short while, we'll reach the Eagle Rock Military Base! I'm sure all of you have fond memories of serving your country there, and are so excited to see it again and show it to your loved ones! We're so lucky to have a classic Roswell day to reacquaint yourself with this time in your lives, warm, sunny, and gorgeous!"

Sitting toward the back of the bus, Hal Carver winced. Warm and sunny? Try hot and dry. At least it wasn't summer, when a glass could melt on a desktop, but Roswell was still plenty balmy in October, not to mention downright arid. He'd downed a quart of water since breakfast, and he still felt thirsty. The end-every-sentence-with-an-exclamation-point guide droned on, pointing out the supposedly noteworthy features of the barren desert landscape until a dark smudge appeared on the horizon, and her voice took on a new measure of excitement.

"We're almost there!" she exclaimed grandly as though the bus was approaching Disneyland.

"Isn't this exciting?" the man across the aisle exclaimed. "There it is, after all these years! It's like going back in time!"

Wish I could, Carver thought darkly. If he'd known then what he knew now, he'd have kicked some ass and then some. His "fond memories" were precisely the reason he'd elected to leave his loved ones home, not that his kids, now grown, would have been interested anyway. His wife was another matter; the reunion package included spouses, and coming up with a good reason why he didn't want her to accompany him had been tricky. There was just no good way to say that you had strong suspicions you were going to wind up in jail because you'd gotten so angry that you'd thrown something through a window.

"The Eagle Rock Military Base was decommissioned in 1974," the guide continued. "But we obtained permission from the current owners to bring you all back to your old home!"

" 'Current owners'?" Carver called. "You mean the army doesn't own it any more? Who does?"

The entire bus turned to stare at him as the guide's smile froze. "We'll have access to the main building and the living quarters, and we can walk around the rest of the base!" she went on, ignoring him. "You can show your families where you lived while you were defending Uncle Sam!"

"You didn't answer my question," Carver pointed out. "Who bought the place?"

"Who cares?" the man sitting in front of him said. "What I want to know is why we only get to see the main building and barracks. What about the hangars? That's where I spent most of my time."

"We were unable to assess the safety of every structure, so for safety reasons, only sections will be available to us. But what stories you'll have to tell!" the guide gushed. "Just imagine being able to show your wives where you ate, where you slept, where you—"

"Hid your girlie magazines," someone tittered.

Nervous laugher echoed through the bus as the guide blushed and wives looked variously perplexed or pissed. Carver shook his head as a couple of dozen husbands hastily tried to brush off that last comment along with knowing laughter. It was said that porn drove the internet, but long before there was a world wide web, porn had driven military bases; always had, still did, and always would. The bigger question, drowned out in the chatter, was who would want to buy an Army base. Given what had been happening when he'd been booted, that list could have some pretty nefarious characters on it.

"Guess you don't get your question answered," his seatmate said.

Carver glanced at the unfamiliar man sitting next to him as the guide babbled on about "life in the 40's and 50's" as though she wasn't talking to a bunch of people who'd already lived it. "Guess not," he answered.

"Seems like it shouldn't be hard to answer," the man said. "Not exactly a state secret."

Carver shrugged. "Maybe she just doesn't know."

The stranger cocked an eyebrow. "You really believe that?"

"Do you?" Carver said.

"Hell, no," the stranger answered. "I was here in '47. I saw what went down."

"Oh, yeah?" Carver said. "What'd you see?"

The stranger's eyes strayed out the window. "Enough to know that was no weather balloon."

You think? Carver mused as the stranger fell silent. He had no idea who this guy was, but it didn't really matter; dozens of soldiers had seen the remains of that "weather balloon", so dozens of soldiers knew better. "You got a name?" Carver asked.

"Yeah. You?"

Carver smiled faintly. "I meant one you wanted to share. You're not wearing a name tag."

"Neither are you," the stranger noted.

"Hate the damned things," Carver said. "I feel like a kindergartener."

"I hate the way everyone leans over and peers at it instead of just asking like normal people would," the stranger said.

"Good to know I'm 'normal'," Carver said.

"I wouldn't go that far," the stranger demurred.

They sat in companionable silence, two smartasses who still hadn't exchanged names as the dark blob in the distance took shape and the guide babbled on, only half listened to as most of the wives were gazing suspiciously at their husbands. It was weird how he felt better now that a kindred spirit was close at hand. He didn't regret not bringing his wife, but it had been a lonely slog watching old friends reunite. His own reunion had been brief, the length of time it had taken to speak a single name at the Memorial, where the names of those who had fallen or passed had been read out.

Captain Richard Dodie

The speaker had continued down the list as Carver's hands clenched together, grateful that the room full of bowed heads couldn't see his face. The last time he'd seen Richie was when he'd knocked on his door in that dive in Alamogordo where he'd been holed up to keep Cavitt's greasy mitts off his family. They'd downed several beers and stayed up all night talking, carefully avoiding any mention of aliens, dead reporters, or other touchy subjects. Richie must have had quite the hangover when he'd boarded that plane to Korea the next morning; God knew he'd had quite the hangover as he'd packed his stuff and prepared to go home after Ritchie told him Cavitt was dead and could no longer hurt him or anyone he loved. He'd been glad he'd relented and invited Richie in. He was even more glad 8 months later when word came that Richie would never be coming home.

"We're hee-er!" the guide trilled, managing to stretch a one syllable word into two. "Now, when we reach the main building and disembark, remember to stay together."

" 'Disembark'?" Carver said. "Why doesn't she just say 'get off the bus'?"

"Could be worse," his seatmate noted. "When you get off a plane, you 'deplane'. This could be 'debus'."

Carver's chuckle died in his throat as he looked out the window when the bus came to a halt. Two men in dark suits opened the gate, closing it behind them after the bus went through and taking up positions in front of it. "What's with the suits?" Carver said. "They don't look like military."

"Because they're not," his seatmate said.

"Then who were they?"

"Representatives of the 'current owners', most likely," his seatmate answered.

The bus had arrived. Carver had to keep himself from smiling at the thought of "debussing" as they filed off, forming an amoeba-shaped crowd in front of the base's main building. "Welcome back to Eagle Rock!" their ever chipper tour guide called. "Let's form an orderly line! We'll begin our tour with the Mess Hall!"

"So everyone can throw up their breakfasts," murmured his companion, who had stayed toward the back of the group.

"More suits," Carver said.


"They've got earpieces," Carver noted.

"That they do."

"And sunglasses," Carver added.

"So you can't see where they're looking."

Carver stared at his seatmate. "Who are you, exactly? I still don't know your name."

"Don't know yours either," the man commented.

"It's Hal."

"I'm Brian," the man said. "Got a last name?"

"None I want to share," Carver said warily.

"Same here," Brian said.

An uneasy feeling stirred in Carver's gut as he surveyed the dark-suited men surrounding their little group. One of them unlocked the doors to the main building for their guide, who enthusiastically waved everyone inside. Carver and his enigmatic bus buddy were some of the last through, and there was no mistaking the click of the doors being locked behind them, or the fact that every single one of the suits took up posts outside.

"This was the main reception area!" the guide announced, always striving to make the mundane and obvious sound exciting. "Visitors checked in here, along with any personnel reporting for the first time. Follow me to the Mess Hall! Everyone stick together!"

"Looks clean," Carver commented as they trundled down the main hallway. He remembered being here, but it was different when it was empty; the place had a vaguely museum-like quality now, echoey and creepy.

"Too clean," Brian commented. "Way too clean for a place that's been 'abandoned'."

"Maybe they cleaned it up for us," Carver suggested, glancing down a side hallway. 'Or maybe...wait. What is—"

"Don't stare," Brian ordered. "Don't let them know you see them."

Carver pulled his eyes forward, tearing them away from the suit he'd seen in the shadows. They were everywhere, standing sentinel at side hallways and doorways, silent, unmoving, their covered eyes invisible. No one else seemed to notice. "What the hell is going on?" Carver hissed.

"I'm guessing they don't want anyone wandering off on their own," Brian said.

"Looks like some goddamned police state," Carver muttered as they filed into the Mess Hall, empty and gleaming like it never had back in the day.

"Good guess," Brian said. "Very close."

"How would you know?" Carver demanded. "Who the hell are they? Who the hell are you?"

"Why do you care?" Brian asked, sounding genuinely curious.

"I care because I put my ass on the line back in '47," Carver snapped, "and then I got my ass kicked. And I was one of the lucky ones, which will tell you what happened to some of the rest of them."

"Interesting," Brian said, studying him closely. "I don't remember you. When were you here?"

"None of your business," Carver retorted.

The superlative-loving tour guide was in full swing now, describing delicious meals and dedicated kitchen staff, along with other things which had never existed. "Look, we can spend our time becoming BFF's, or we can ditch this place and go on our own little magical mystery tour," Brian said.

Carver stared at him. "What the hell is a 'BFF'? And how are we supposed to 'tour' with the Men in Black watching?"

"Sorry," Brian said. "Picked up some of my daughter's slang. And I guarantee you that not a single one of these suits knows this place the way I do. If you're interested, stay close; if not, hang back. I won't wait for you."


Pod Chamber

"Michael!" Max called. "Michael, wait!"

Isabel and Tess exchanged glances as Max hurried after Michael, who was in one of his predictable snits. "I said we'd come back, and we will," Max said to Michael's retreating back. "But right now, we have school."

"Right," Michael said in a deeply skeptical voice. "Because everyone knows that school is so much more important than the Granolith."

"At the moment, yes," Max said. "Whatever this is, it's tucked in safe and sound. The best we can do in the meantime is go about our business like we haven't found it."

"I don't believe this," Michael muttered.

"See, this is one more reason I wasn't in a big hurry to tell everyone about this," Isabel whispered to Tess. "I knew this would happen. I didn't know why, but I was certain they'd find a reason to fight about it."

"Michael started it," Tess murmured. "Max is just defending his decision."

"The fact that Isabel and Tess didn't know what this is or where to find it is probably the reason they're still alive," Max argued. "Which means that could work for us too."

"Collective ignorance," Michael said ironically. "Always a great strategy."

"It is if it keeps you from getting killed," Tess noted.

"I might have known you'd defend him," Michael said.

"So you'd rather we be knowledgeable and dead?" Max said. "What good is it to know if the knowing kills you? For now, none of us knows this is here, and the best way to not know is to not be here."

"That is wrong on so many levels, I don't know where to start," Michael said darkly.

"So, what, we're just supposed to live here now?" Max said in exasperation. "Just move into the Granolith chamber and never leave?"

" 'Chamber'?" Isabel whispered. "We already have a pod 'chamber'. How does this thing get its own 'chamber'?"

"Sounds better than 'corner of the rock cave'," Tess shrugged. "More regal."

"You know, why do I bother?" Michael was saying as Isabel stifled a smile. "You just don't get it."

"I told you we'd go back, and I told you when," Max said coldly. "If that's not enough, too bad."

They were all outside the pod chamber now, working their way down the rocks with Michael and Max pulling ahead, their voices becoming less and less clear. "I feel a little guilty about not telling everyone about this right away," Isabel said as she and Tess followed at a slower pace, "but I gotta tell you, I don't miss not having to listen to this earlier. Michael even made the same argument about our not knowing being what saved us, but he's conveniently forgotten that now that Max said the same thing. It kind of doesn't matter what Max does; Michael will fight about it anyway."

"Because he doesn't think Max takes it seriously enough," Tess said. "And don't feel guilty; I didn't even remember that part of my conversation with Whitaker until you brought it up. We didn't talk much about what happened. Maybe we should have."

"Maybe," Isabel agreed. "I was coming here for some time to think alone, but now Mom's sending me to a therapist because I lied about where I was when I was here. Maybe if we'd talked, that wouldn't be happening."

"So she's really going through with it?" Tess said. "We can make up a story about a boyfriend, or something normal like that."

"Sounds like what we were trying to get Max to do," Isabel said.

"It would have worked for him; it'll work for you," Tess said. "And have your grandmother talk to your mom."

Done, Isabel thought. "Why?" she said out loud.

"Because it's always better for someone 'in the know' to try and influence things," Tess answered. "Take Valenti, for example. He made sure all the paperwork was right for me starting school this year, and made up some story about why I was staying with him, and so on."

"Okay," Isabel said uncertainly. "But what does that have to with my grandmother?"

"Everything!" Tess said. "Nasedo was always so suspicious of humans knowing about us, and I understand why, but I must admit it's a lot easier to navigate the human world with a human who knows. A lot easier. How long has your grandmother known about you?"

Isabel stopped walking. "Tess, what are you talking about? Grandma doesn't…'know'."

"Yes, she does," Tess said. "I didn't suspect until the night Nasedo died, but when my house was broken into, I was sure of it."

"No," Isabel said, shaking her head vigorously. "You've got it all wrong. Grandma Dee is really smart, and really outspoken, and doesn't get all emotional like Mom does, but she doesn't know about Max and me."

"She must," Tess argued. "Think about it—why was she there the night Nasedo died? Why was she there at that hour?"

"She stays up late," Isabel said. "She always has."

"At your house?" Tess said. "And why did she pull me away from your mother and scoot us all back to the bedroom? Because she knew, that's why. She knew why we were there because that's why she was there. But what really convinced me was when Max said he didn't want me to move in with you after my house got hit. I mean, yes, I was mad about that because I thought we could all be together and I'd get to have a mom for the first time in my life. But then Valenti said your dad would have figured out something was up right away because he had a nose like that. And I asked if your dad was Grandma Dee's son, and he said yes. And then it all made sense."

"What makes sense?" Isabel said. "Yes, Dad would sniff you out pretty fast, but that's why you're at Valenti's. What does that have to do with Grandma?"

"Where do you think your dad learned to do that?" Tess said. "I've met your grandmother. She's a force of nature. Do you really think it would be that hard for her to figure it out?"

Isabel started walking again, her mind working furiously. She'd had these same thoughts herself and so had Michael, but they'd grown up with Grandma; hearing it stated so matter-of-factly by a comparative stranger was jarring. But then there was the fact that Grandma had called her when they were out chasing Liz and Nasedo. And she'd deftly gotten Max off the hook with his psychologist. And just recently she'd let her go chasing after Tess after an enigmatic conversation that Isabel hadn't yet closely examined. It was really hard to argue that she didn't know something

"I know what it is," Isabel said finally, a giant weight lifting from her shoulders. "Last year, before you got here, my mom accidentally started a fire in our kitchen. Max put the fire out with his powers, and when Mom asked him how he'd done it, he said he'd thrown a pot of water on it. But Valenti was sniffing around, and he told her it was a grease fire that water couldn't have put out. He was really poking around, and Mom started poking, and...well...Mom and Max wound up talking, and she agreed to drop it because she convinced herself that he could put the fire out because he's...special. You know, like people who can see the future, or talk to ghosts, or move things with their minds. So Grandma's probably just going along with that, that we're 'special', and—"

"Isabel," Tess broke in gently, "think. If your mom thinks Max is 'special', what does that have to do with you? Did you help put the fire out too?"

No, Isabel realized with dismay. "And I'm curious," Tess went on, "about where your mom got the idea about Max being 'special'. Did she come up with that on her own, or did your grandmother put the idea in her head?"

"I...don't know," Isabel admitted. "Does it matter? No, it doesn't," she rushed on before Tess could say anything. "It doesn't matter who thought of it, or if they think just Max or both of us is different. Grandma doesn't know. I'm sure of it."

Tess shrugged. "If you say so."


Eagle Rock Military Base

The perky tour guide had everyone waxing poetic about the good old days as Carver stood at the back of the enthusiastic crowd gathered in the mess hall with his odd bus companion, Brian, a man who seemed to know a great deal more about this base than he did. I won't wait for you. What the hell did that mean? Where exactly was the guy planning to go? There must be half a dozen Suits in this room alone, lurking along the edges of the crowd and near the various doors. The next 5 minutes went by with excruciating slowness as the tour guide babbled more fairy tales about military cuisine and then began to take questions as Brian slowly worked his way along the back edge of the group. Hal followed, driven by sheer curiosity and stubbornness, until Brian stopped behind a knot of portly airmen who all but obscured them from view.

"Ready?" Brian whispered.

"For what?" Carver said.

"To go AWOL."

"But how—"

"Shhh. We need the right moment. Stand here, right next to me."

The "right moment" came 30 seconds later when the crowd erupted in applause on behalf of the guide, who arguably deserved a standing ovation for the fiction she was spewing. Out of sight behind a line of middle-aged spread and with the noise covering them, Carver felt himself yanked backwards into a dark and manky-smelling place with a hand over his mouth. It all happened so fast that it took him several seconds to work out that Brian had pulled him through one of the doors into the kitchen, the sound of applause muffled by the closed door. Several yards in front of them, he could just make out the dim outline of another Suit, dark glasses, earpiece, and all, standing sentinel in front of another kitchen door at the other end. Carver's heart was galloping, but the Suit never looked their way. Seconds that felt like hours ticked by before he heard the group outside moving off, and the Suit moved with them, pushing through the kitchen door without a sound or a backward glance. They were alone.

"Sorry," Brian said when Carver wrenched himself away. "Thought you were going to squeal."

"Because that's what happens when you don't give a guy any warning!" Carver said furiously. "What the hell were you thinking? We could have barreled right into that Suit!"

"I saw him go in," Brian shrugged. "Besides, this is a service door. Not sure they even know this one exists."

"Hell of a way to find out," Carver said peevishly. "They've got eyes, don't they? If we can see it, they can see it."

"Not necessarily," Brian said. "It blends into the wall. Lots of guys missed in back in the day. Like I said, I know this place better than they ever will. You coming?"

"Coming where?" Carver demanded. "Where the hell are you going?"

"To take a look at stops that aren't on the tour," Brian said. "Go back if you'd rather. Tell'em you got lost. They'll believe you."

There was the faintest note of derision in his voice, just enough that Carver scowled but followed along behind as Brian headed for the other end of the kitchen, the condition of which made it clear that it hadn't made the renovation list. Several inches of dust covered counters, sinks, appliances, everything, while layers of grease gleamed in the little light which managed to get past the grime-covered windows. Here you could believe the base had been abandoned for years. Even the back door which Brian opened with difficulty drove that point home.

"What's this?" Carver said as they stepped through.

"Loading dock," Brian answered, shining a small flashlight into the darkness. "When you're feeding a thundering herd, you need shitloads of food delivered. Should be a door back here…"

There was. Carver stepped through, blinking in the sunlight, to find himself on the side of the main building facing west without a Suit in sight. "Not for nothing, but where are we going?" Carver said.

"Out that way," Brian said, pointing west. "I want to check on the building I bunked at."

"Living quarters are on the tour—"

"Not these living quarters," Brian said. "Trust me, these aren't on the tour."

"And what are we saying when they find us?" Carver asked. "That we got lost?"

"Sure," Brian shrugged. "Why not?"

Carver stared at him. "You're serious."

Brian pulled a folded piece of paper from his pocket. "The tour should wind its way over there in about 20 minutes. We'll just melt back into the crowd. Or if that doesn't work, we'll admit we wandered off a bit and take the inevitable tongue-lashing."

"Where'd you get this?" Carver said, snatching the paper out of his hands.

"From the tour guide," Brian said.

"You stole her itinerary?" Carver said incredulously.

"I borrowed it from her bag," Brian said innocently. "I'll give it back. I promise." He paused. "You don't have to come. This is my gig. You struck me as the type who might like my tour better than hers. but if I'm wrong…"

The sentence trailed off, questioning, perhaps hopeful. "Of course I'm coming," Carver said. "You've got me curious. Besides, you've already put my ass in a sling, so why not?"

"I'm guessing you were pretty good at putting your ass in a sling long before we met," Brian said.

"What, and you weren't?" Carver retorted.

Brian smiled. "Hell, no. I'm a veritable choir boy." He tucked his flashlight in his pocket. "C'mon."

Moving furtively until they were out of sight of the main building, they headed due west across the base on paths untrod for decades. Brian moved easily, but Carver was soon puffing to keep up; they looked to be of similar ages, but Brian was thinner, more wiry, lacking the gut which Carver sported. It had been a long time since he'd hiked like this, driving a truck for a living requiring more sitting than hiking. Been a long time since he'd engaged in any cloak and dagger stuff too, and while part of him was thinking he was too old for this, the other part of him was loving every minute of it. Still, it was hard to forget the last time he'd cloaked and daggered, with everyone running after him, dogs chasing him, vaulting fences, dropping cameras…

"There it is," Brian said.

Thank God, Carver thought gratefully. It was downright embarrassing how out of shape he was from a simple five minute walk, although it could be argued that hotfooting it across an abandoned Army base didn't qualify as "simple". Semantics aside, he was very glad to stop beside a single story, nondescript building with a set of double doors which were securely padlocked shut.

"This is where you bunked?" Carver said, trying hard not to pant. "Never seen this place before."

"Few have," Brian said, fingering the padlock and the heavy chain it was attached to.

"Weird that it's locked," Carver said. "Nothing else is chained shut."

"Not for long," Brian said, pulling a long, slender tool out of his jacket pocket.

"What, you''re picking the lock?" Carver said. "What for?"

"Why do you think?" Brian said, inserting the pick into the lock. "I want to see inside."

"Okay, I didn't sign up for this," Carver protested. "I thought we were just going into buildings that weren't on the tour."

"Which is exactly what we're doing," Brian noted.

"No, now we're breaking and entering," Carver argued.

"Just entering," Brian said. "I don't intend to break a thing."

"Why?" Carver demanded. "What's so special about this building? Start talking," he ordered grimly when Brian said nothing," or I'm walking."

"So walk," Brian shrugged.

"Fine," Carver said hotly, doing just that.

"They held a live alien in this building for 3 years," Brian called after him.

Carver stopped dead in his tracks. He'd expected some kind of answer given that Brian had gone to some lengths to acquire companionship on his little escapade, but never in a million years had he expected that. "What did you say?"

"You heard me," Brian said. "I told you I was here in '47."

"So was I!" Carver snapped. "And, yes, I know that was no weather balloon. Better than most."

"That so?" Brian said. "Then why are you all goggle-eyed at the fact that an alien prisoner was held here for years?"

"Because that can't be!" Carver exclaimed. "I let them go! I pulled the fire alarm! I dumped the building! They should have been able to get away!"

Brian raised an eyebrow. "Not sure what you're talking about, but they didn't get away." There was a faint click. "Want to see?"

The doors swung open. Carver stared past them into a small entryway and another set of doors bearing a suspiciously modern keypad lock. "What the hell?" Brian muttered. "This wasn't here."

"Never mind that," Carver said, peering through the window. "Gimme your flashlight."

Brian pulled out his flashlight and shone it through the window as they cupped their hands around their eyes to see better. Carver's eyes had just started to adjust when they heard it.

"Shit! Get the lock back on," Carver commanded.

Brian fumbled with the chain as Carver peered around the corner. The tour had arrived, chirpy guide in the lead, several dozen former soldiers gratifyingly huffing and puffing behind her as she walked briskly along. Had they had more time, they could have stayed out of sight and melted into the back of the crowd. Now the best they could do was come at them sideways, drawing the stares of several Suits who gathered behind the astonished tour guide as she confronted them, perky frown firmly in place.

"Where are you coming from?" the tour guide demanded.

"Sorry," Carver said sheepishly. "Had to pee. Happens a lot ever since my surgery. I was hoping one of the old latrines was still useable."

The Suits promptly backed off, perhaps dismissing him as a threat, perhaps put off by the thought of the middle-aged urinary problems which loomed in their futures. "Do you want to get me in trouble?" the tour guide said crossly with a sideways glance at the Suits. "Do you have any idea what we had to go through to get access to this place?"

"Some," Brian murmured under his breath.

"Sorry, ma'am," Carver said. "I'd be happy to confess if you wind up in any kind of trouble on my account."

The guide considered that for a moment as the rest of the group dozed behind her, grateful for the pitstop. "There is something you can do to make it up to me. I've had a call from the local high school. They'd like some of their students to interview vets for a school project, so I'll put your name down…" She paused, searching for the name tag that wasn't there.

"Carver," Carver said. "Captain Carver."

"Captain Carver," the guide nodded, running a finger down her list before turning to Brian. "And you are…?"

"So sorry for the trouble," Brian said as she looked him up and down. "We didn't mean to interrupt your tour, ma'am. We won't hold it up any longer."

Brian headed back to the group. The guide looked like she was going to argue, but thought better of it after a glance at the hovering Suits. Carver fell in step beside Brian as the tour lumbered on.

"Nice save with the peeing," Brian murmured.

"You're welcome," Carver said. "Are you even with the 509th?"

"I'm a soldier," Brian said. "Did you see what I saw? New tile. Modern light fixtures. New signs."

"And everything clean as a whistle," Carver said. "They're still at it. Whatever went down there back in the '40's isn't over."


Back later in the week. :)
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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Kathy W
Obsessed Roswellian
Posts: 690
Joined: Thu Oct 31, 2002 5:06 am

Chapter 42

Post by Kathy W » Fri Jan 29, 2016 10:52 pm


October 30, 2000, 9:00 a.m.

West Roswell High School

"Mr. Guerin! True or false? We're not even a month into the semester, and you're already failing my class. This is a new record."

Michael stifled a groan as a smug look settled over Mr. Vandermark's face, a fitting companion to his smug tone. What was it with the parade of whiny humans? First Maria, the current contender for Whiny Human of the Year, followed by Liz, not typically whiny, but certainly the winner of Distraction of the Year, if not the decade, when it came to their Fearless Leader. Now it was his history teacher objecting to his lack of interest in World War II, unsurprising given that he had his own war to fight, on another planet, no less, and it sounded like they were on a number way higher than two. How could he be expected to give a shit about another world's past when the future of his own hung in the balance?

"To be perfectly blunt with you, sir, World War II just doesn't do it for me," Michael said, careful to insert the honorific. Being called "sir" or "ma'am" really tickled adults for some reason.

"Well, try 'doing' this," Vandermark answered. "The 509th bomb group is in town this week for a reunion. Your biographical account of one veteran's wartime experience will be on my desk by 5 o'clock."

"Old people creep me out," Michael protested.

"Then think of them as living history," Vandermark suggested. He opened a folder, scanned a list. "Try this one," he said, scribbling on a piece of paper. "He's only in his early 70's."

"So he only occasionally wears Depends," Michael muttered.

"And if I hear that you've shown so much as a particle of disrespect to a United States soldier who sacrificed to make sure you have the right to stand in this hallway and shoot your mouth off, you won't be able to say 'revocation of emancipated minor status' before I have you back in court. Oh, yes," Vandermark continued when Michael's eyes widened. "I can do that. The court can remand you back into the care of state child protective services for several reasons, one of which is failure to complete the level of education you agreed to when emancipation was granted. You agreed to finish high school, did you not, Mr. Guerin?"

Yes, Michael thought darkly as the question hung in the air unanswered. "5 o'clock," Vandermark repeated. "And mind your manners, or I'll fail you even if you turn in the equivalent of War and Peace. Do we understand one another?"

"Yes, sir," Michael said tonelessly.

"Excellent! I look forward to reading it, and hearing what an interested and respectful student you were."

Shit, Michael sighed as Vandermark melted into the crowd. Just what he needed right now, a snarky teacher. They had enemies descending on them, a spectacular, hugely important something-or-other in the pod chamber, and a planet to save, but the agenda for the day involved talking to someone who probably couldn't piss standing up. Perfect.

"What was that all about?"

It was Max, both suspicious and concerned. "Nothing," Michael said.

"Like hell it wasn't," Max said. "What did you do now?"

"Nothing," Michael repeated. "Which is what it was about. I haven't exactly been a stellar student lately. Been a little busy."

" 'Haven't been stellar' as in not making the honor roll, or 'haven't been stellar' as in failing?" Michael, if you get a failing grade, that will be reported to the court," Max went on, reading the answer in the silence which followed. "The school has to report your grades until you graduate. You know that."

"Yes, I know that," Michael said impatiently. "I'll fix it. I've just had a few thousand more important things on my mind lately. We all have, hence our friendly chat earlier this morning at the pod chamber."

"But the rest of us aren't failing," Max said. "You can do this stuff in your sleep. You just don't want to."

"Wow," Michael deadpanned "What a hugely insightful...insight."

Max took a step closer. "I don't need this now, Michael. You don't need this now. You find fault with my priorities, but then you do something to jeopardize your independence? Don't be stupid. Keep your head down and blend in."

"Yes, Your Majesty."

"And watch your mouth," Max ordered. "You were mean to Maria, but what you said to Liz was inexcusable."

"Oh, of course," Michael said. "Because she's Liz."

"Because she's trying to cover for us," Max retorted. "The only reason the four of us are alive is because our friends have covered for us, lied for us, and literally saved our lives over and over. Have you forgotten how much they've done for us?"

"No, I haven't forgotten," Michael said impatiently. "I just don't see why them helping us before means we have to keep genuflecting no matter what else is happening."

"Since when is simple manners 'genuflecting'?" Max demanded. "And this isn't about them helping us before, this is about them helping us now. Liz is helping us now. Whitaker's been gone too long, and people are asking questions. The you-know-what is about to hit the fan, and she'll be the first to know just how big the splash is. Don't you think we should at least be civil to the person in that position?"

"I don't believe this!" Michael exclaimed. "We just found the coolest thing ever, and you're going on about me being "mean". This isn't about manners, it's about us!"

"Yes, it is about manners," Max said firmly, "because without manners, there are no friends, and without friends, there is no 'us'."

"You sound like Vandermark," Michael snorted. "He just read me the riot act about some ancient vet he wants me to interview. Said he won't accept my report if he hears I wasn't 'respectful'."

"Why wouldn't you be?" Max said. "You led my armies in that other life. If anyone should know enough to respect a soldier, it's you. So go do your report, get Vandermark off your back, and make certain you stay emancipated. The last thing you want is to go back into the system. Or face my father when you do."

Max loped off, one of the few people left in the hallway. Michael headed to his next class, clutching the piece of paper Vandermark had given him, walking furiously. If anyone should know enough to respect a soldier, it's you. God, he hated it when Max was right. He wasn't being much of a general by riffing on a veteran in Depends. Two classes crawled by before he was done for the day and could get this over with. The address was a motel not far from school.

"Captain Carver," the bored clerk intoned, reading Vandermark's scribble. "That'd be Hal Carver. Room 15."

Michael ran a hand through his hair and buttoned an extra button on his shirt before knocking on the door of Room 15. "Stay out of trouble," he muttered to himself. That would be the motto for the rest of the day, be it with a vet, a teacher, or the child protective system.


Pineview Motor Lodge

Room 15

"Can I help you?" a frosty voice had asked.

I'm in trouble, Hal Carver had thought, caught red-handed at the computer belonging to his inquisitor, a stick-thin brunette who looked young enough to be his daughter and mad enough to be his wife. He could still see her expression even though he was a mile away in his room at the motor lodge, absentmindedly trying to do a crossword puzzle while he waited for his penance, a.k.a. high school interviewer. 
The brunette had not been pleased.

"I'm trying to find another vet," he'd answered truthfully. "We just got back from touring the base, and I neglected to ask this fellow his name."

"So go find him," Brunette had advised with more than a touch of exasperation.

Love to, Carver had thought. After sitting beside him silent and somber all the way back from the base, the enigmatic "Brian" had melted into the crowd with maddening speed when they'd returned. Carver had been dying to talk to him, but with conversation on the bus being inadvisable given the subject matter, he'd waited with difficulty for a private moment that had never come. To say he was frustrated was a gross understatement.

"I tried to find him," Carver said. "He's gone, and I don't know where he's staying."

"So you decided to help yourself to my laptop," Brunette said.

"I was just checking the list of attendees," Carver said. "It was right here on your desktop. Maybe I didn't do it right?" he went on when she gave him the gimlet eye. "They didn't have computers in my day."

A pair of pursed lips later, Brunette apparently decided to buy his best impression of an old guy who didn't know that rifling through someone's computer was the equivalent of rifling through someone's wallet. "All right," she sighed. "What's his name?"


"Brian what?"

"I don't know," Carver said. "We never got to last names."

"Of course not," Brunette muttered, clicking away with admirable speed. "There is no 'Brian' attending this reunion."

No surprise there, Carver thought. "Was there a Brian in the 509th in the 1947 to 1950 time frame?" he asked. "Maybe his name just didn't make the official hit list. Attendance list," he corrected quickly when her eyes narrowed. "I mean attendance list. Sorry. Old habits. Soldier talk."

She relented, the clicking taking a lot longer this time. "I see no 'Brian' in the 509th during those years," she reported.

"What about the base proper?" Carver pressed. "Could you check?"

"What do you think I am, the Department of Defense?" Brunette huffed. "This is a reunion of the 509th. If he's not in the 509th, I don't know about him, and neither do you, because only a member of the 509th could have been on that tour. Maybe he gave you a nickname or a middle name, in which case we won't find him on my computer or any computer. You'd be better off spending your time looking for him than wasting my time. I'm an admin, not a secretary."

"What's the difference?" Carver asked.

Sheesh, Carver thought after receiving a look which could have frozen boiling water. What in blazes was wrong with being a secretary? Lots of women aspired to be secretaries in his day. Everyone knew it was really secretaries who kept the world running, whether in business, education, or the military. Titans of finance or General MacArthur could disappear, but if secretaries disappeared, everything ground to a halt. How could anyone possibly get huffy over being thought a secretary? He was still musing on the oddities of the modern age when he bumped into Chirpy Tour Guide.

"Why are you still here? Your student interview starts shortly, and your interviewer will meet you at your hotel."

"Motor lodge," Carver corrected.

"Don't let me down," she instructed firmly. "Better get a move on. You don't want to be late."

Don't I? Carver had thought darkly. But that was how he came to be sitting on this crappy little bed in this crappy little motor lodge, trying to occupy his mind with this crappy little crossword puzzle. It wasn't working. Clues swam in front of him, but all he could hear was Brian's voice in his mind.

"Not sure what you're talking about, but they didn't get away."

This was the crux of it, the part which had him in a chokehold, which invalidated his entire life in a single sentence. Because the one thing he'd always told himself, always hung onto with a grip like death, is that his "honorable", really dishonorable, discharge from the military had served a higher purpose, that of freeing whatever it was he'd freed from that morgue back in '47. That he'd been successful in doing so had never been in doubt; the confusion which had followed his escape from the base had lasted well into the night, longer than it would have for a false fire alarm and far longer than it should have had they actually caught something. He knew this because he'd watched from a distance as soldiers swarmed the base, dogs were deployed, and orders shouted. Not a safe distance, mind you, as there was no such thing as a "safe distance" from which to watch a military installation, but safe enough given that they'd abandoned their search for him as soon as they'd received word that they'd lost something far more precious. That had been his comfort in the years to come, sometimes his only comfort, that it had worked, that he'd won, that they'd lost whatever they'd captured. Through all the years Cavitt had hounded him, he'd sought solace in that loss, and satisfaction in the following years when he'd gotten on with his life. It remained the bravest thing he'd ever done in either his short military career or civilian life...and now it sounded like it was all a lie. What had he been thinking? How could anything have escaped that night, even shiny things from another world? With all those soldiers, all those dogs, how had he ever reached the conclusion that his ruse had worked? Because I wanted it to, he thought ruefully. He'd wanted it to work, so he'd convinced himself it had, only to have that shot down by an anonymous soldier who'd obviously lasted longer than he had. He should never have come back here. If he had just stayed home, he would have lived out his days thinking he'd been successful.


Great, Carver thought sourly when he answered the door and found himself looking in a mirror. Being a smartass himself, he knew a smartass when he saw one, and there was no question that a smartass stood outside his room, albeit one who'd made at least a cursory effort to clean himself up. Some minutes later, after gruff introductions, inane questions, and only barely disguised contempt, Carver had had enough. To hell with the Chirpy Tour Guide, to hell with the Army, and to hell with this smartass. And to hell with sticking your neck out for what was right, because obviously that didn't work.

"Hey, look, kid, I'm not one of your hoodlum friends," Carver snapped, having reached the end of his rope. "You better start showing me a little respect, or I'll kick your ass through this door."

The kid eyed him for a moment, then stood up slowly and looked him in the eye. "Well, let me save you the effort. I'm just gonna take this," he said, holding up one of those flyers they hand out at reunions covered with photos from back in the day. "Then I'll be out of your hair, okay?"

It wasn't the answer Carver had been expecting, just like the news that his big night back in '47 hadn't turned out the way he'd expected. All of a sudden, he had the overwhelming urge to tell someone what had happened, to share it with another human being. And since the kid was doing a report for school, who knew? Maybe someone else would read it. Maybe someone would start asking questions, the kind of questions that would make whoever spruced up that building on the base think twice. Maybe keeping it to himself all these years hadn't been the right way to go about it. Maybe it was time to talk, and who better to listen to a smartass than another smartass?

"They have black eyes," Carver said, his back to the door through which Smartass was retreating. "Empty. Vacant. Ageless."

The kid stopped. Of course he did. It was better this way because what adult would take him seriously? Kids were easy to fool.

Not this one. "You're gonna teach me about aliens," Smartass said in a deeply skeptical voice.

Carver nodded. "Okay," Smartass shrugged. "Let's hear it."


Crashdown Cafe

"Can you do me a favor?"

Courtney looked up from the orders she was totaling. "Sure, Mikey G. What do you need?"

Rath aimed a thumb behind him. "I need you to babysit for a minute."

Courtney peered around Rath to find an older man who was looking around in astonishment. "Him? Looks like he's old enough to play by himself."

"Just get him a cup of coffee or something while I talk to Maria," Rath said. "It'll just take a minute."

"A minute?" Courtney said. "Talking to Maria? Nobody talks to Maria for a 'minute'."

"What the hell is all this shit?" the man demanded. "What happened to Parkers?"

"On the other hand, I like him," Courtney said as startled patrons stared. "Go ahead. I'll keep him busy. And good luck."

Rath gave her a knowing look and disappeared into the back. "Welcome to the Crashdown," Courtney said to Rath's disgruntled companion. "Can I get you something?"

"Yeah, you can get me Parkers," the man said in consternation. "This used to be a bar, a good bar. When did it turn into kitsch central?"

"Specifically? 1959," Courtney answered. "That's when the restaurant was added, and eventually the bar disappeared. When did you know it as Parkers?"

"1947," the man answered.

"Before my time," Courtney said.

The man snorted. "You think? You look 12. How old are you, anyway?"

Courtney did a quick mental calculation. "About 200. Ish," she amended. "Give or take."

"Another smartass," the man said darkly. "What's with the stupid aprons and the stupid...whatdya call those things?"

"Deely-boppers," Courtney answered. "And what's 'with them' is that all this stupidity brings in tourists, and tourists have money. Lots of money. Lots and lots of money. And that's how the current owner, Jeff Parker, son of the Parker you knew back in '47, feeds his wife and daughter."

The man's expression softened. "Right, right, I...sorry. I can be a bit of a smartass myself."

"Just a 'bit'?" Courtney teased. "Peace," she went on when the man's eyes flared. "We smartasses have to stick together. What can I get you? An Alien Blast? A Men in Black Burger?"

"I haven't the faintest idea what any of that is," the man grumbled. "Got a banana split?"

"Comin' right up," Courtney said. "Have a seat."

"Least it's still got a counter," the man muttered. "Sort of."

Courtney smiled as she dug into the ice cream container. It wasn't every day she got to talk to someone who remembered the cafe from back in the day when it hadn't been a cafe. Who was this guy, anyway, and what was Rath doing with him? Whatever, if the King's Second needed him babysat, then babysit she would. She'd just delivered the sundae when the door dingled.

"Brody Davis," Courtney said, pulling out her pad as Larak's host slid onto a stool. "What can I get you?"

"Actually," Brody said under his breath, "it's Larak."

Courtney almost dropped her pencil. "Larak?" she hissed. "It's been weeks! Where the hell have you been? And you're out in the daytime? Why?"

"Because it's that important," Larak said. "It took some doing, but the Five Planets have accepted the terms of the treaty. The war might finally be over."

Courtney bit her lip. "Um...we have a problem."


Evans Residence

"I can't tell you how relieved I am to have your support, Mom," Diane said, appearing with two mugs of tea. "Philip is against it, but I really think this is the best thing for the kids."

Seated on the couch, Dee accepted a mug of tea and held her tongue, albeit with difficulty. While she hardly supported Diane's insistence on both kids going into therapy, it would hard to argue otherwise given that she'd personally suggested Yvonne as a therapist. And yes, of course her son was against this latest Diane-o-gasm; whether or not he believed his children needed counseling, he could smell a fake a mile away, and that doctor Max had been seeing was a worthy candidate. At least they wouldn't have that particular problem this time.

"And then when you told me Dr. Johnson was in town, it was like the fates were confirming my suspicions," Diane went on, using the pseudonym Yvonne had adopted after escaping from the nearby Eagle Rock base back in 1950, that of "Marie Johnson". "Having her show up at the moment we needed her's like the universe confirming that I'm on the right track."

"Mmm," Dee murmured, sipping tea to keep herself from saying something she'd regret later. She wasn't sure which was more objectionable, the notion that the universe was genuflecting to Diane or the announcement that this was the moment they needed Yvonne the most. The days after the kids had come out of the pods won her vote for that honor. It had been Yvonne who had looked them over and kept the medical system at bay, falsifying records and signing off on things she had no business signing off on. Without Yvonne, there was no telling where they would have wound up.

"What fantastic luck to have her here now!" Diane was saying. "I mean, really, how often do we get luck like that?"

Dee stared at her. "Diane, you did hear me when I said her husband just died, didn't you?"

"Right; right," Diane said quickly. "I'm so sorry."

"Could have fooled me," Dee said.

"Well, I'm not sorry she's here," Diane said, "but I am sorry for the reason she's here."

"Just please don't rattle on about how the universe sent her," Dee said. "That will sound like the universe killed off her husband just so you could have what you wanted."

"Mom, please!" Diane said in a wounded tone. "I'm not that cold. One of my worst nightmares is that Philip will die before me and I'll be left alone. Give me some credit." She paused. "I know you never approved of Max having therapy, but you said yourself that doctor taught him coping skills. Hopefully Izzie will learn the same thing."

Caught in my own lie, Dee thought ruefully. She'd invented the whole "coping skills" bit to spring Max from therapy, so it was especially galling to see it used to sentence Isabel to the same dungeon. "At least this time we'll be dealing with a better doctor," she said.

"But I thought you liked Max's doctor," Diane protested. "You even told me how well I'd done choosing him."

"Oh, of course," Dee said, backpedaling, "but it's always nicer to have someone you know and trust. Marie has known the kids from the beginning. Nothing will ever top that."

"Absolutely," Diane agreed. "So should I ring Dr. Marie at your house to set up the first session?"

Dee hesitated. "I'd wait a bit. Her husband only just died, and she only just got here. Give her a couple of weeks to settle in."

"A couple of weeks?" Diane said doubtfully. "Isabel has been in a mood for over a month now."

"So a couple more weeks won't really matter," Dee said. "Whatever's bothering the kids, it's not so bad that they can't wait a couple of weeks for their first session."

"I guess," Diane said reluctantly.

"And you'd wait at least that long for an appointment with any other doctor," Dee noted. "Probably longer."

Diane considered that for a moment. "True. Very true. For a minute there, I thought you were stalling."

"Nonsense," Dee said. "I know you well enough to know that if you've decided this is best for your children, then this is what's best for your children."

Diane brightened considerably. "Thank you, Mom. That means so much to me!"

And it buys them another two weeks, Dee added silently. Besides, she's learned the hard way that once Diane had made up her mind, it was wise to at least pretend to agree. Philip would make no secret of his reservations, so she would play along in the hopes that her show of support would leave Diane open to her influence. It was the best she could do for the kids at the moment.

"You know, I would really appreciate it if you would talk to Philip," Diane went on. "He's going along with it, but I know he's against it. Maybe you could change his mind?"

Dee quickly took a sip of her tea. "Oooh! Needs more sugar."

Diane blinked. "More sugar? I must have put three teaspoons in there."

"Guess it needs four," Dee said cheerfully. 'I'll be right back."

"You know, all that sugar isn't good for you," Diane called as Dee escaped to the kitchen and leaned against the counter, mentally leafing through available excuses for not trying to talk her son into something she was also against. Philip was usually willing to humor his wife, but in this case he was fighting back. Secretly she wanted to hug him for that, but of course she couldn't. Perhaps she could explain her "support" as just humoring his wife?

The doorbell rang. She heard the door open, followed by an exclamation of surprise. "Tess! Come in, dear."

Tess's voice floated into the kitchen. "Thank you, Mrs. Evans."

"Izzie's not home yet," Diane said, "but you can wait for her if you like."

"That'd be great," Tess said. "I also wanted to thank you again for not getting angry when Max and Isabel came to see me so late back when school started, and for the hot chocolate you offered. That was very nice of you."

"You're very welcome, dear," Diane said.

Dee frowned. Tess was referring to the cover story they'd used the night Jaddo had died and they'd had to retrieve his body from Max's bedroom. That had been weeks ago and was unlikely to be the reason for her visit.

"I was also thinking about all the photo albums you showed me when I first came to town," Tess went on. "It was so much fun looking at them. I'd love to look at them again."

"Certainly, dear," Diane said, always ready to pull out the pictures. "You and Izzie can look at them together."

"Can I start while I wait for her?" Tess asked.

"I don't see why not," Diane said. "I'll go grab one we didn't look at last time."

"Could I see one from when she was young?" Tess asked. "Like when she first came here after you adopted her? Isabel was telling me about her very earliest memories. That's what got me interested."

"I see," Diane said slowly. "Well…"

"Please?" Tess pleaded. "My mother died when I was very young, and we have very few pictures of me when I was little. I guess that's why I like looking at other people's pictures."

Dee's eyes narrowed. What was she up to? Something, no doubt, and rather clumsily too, much like her Warder. Guardian, she corrected sadly. Valeris had been Ava's Warder, not Jaddo. Diane, to her credit, hadn't just forked over her children's most personal moments, but she still hadn't answered. "That's much better," Dee said, going into the living room as though she didn't realize it contained a hybrid obviously fishing for something. "I do love sweet tea...oh! We have company!"

Just in time, Dee thought, as Diane looked like she'd been seconds away from falling for that line about dead mothers. Tess displayed only pleasant surprise, although Dee caught the whiff of annoyance which preceded it. "Mom, you remember Tess, don't you?" Diane said. "She was here the night you stopped so late a few weeks ago."

"Of course I remember," Dee said. "We actually saw each other at least once before that, didn't we, Tess? Nice to see you again."

"Nice to see you too, Mrs…"

"Call me 'Grandma'," Dee advised. "Everyone does, and it relieves the confusion of having two 'Mrs. Evans'."

" 'Grandma' it is then," Tess smiled.

"Tess is waiting for Isabel," Diane said. "She wants to look at some of the photo albums from when the kids were little. Like back when they were first adopted."

"Oh, my," Dee said. "That's a very personal subject."

"Oh, of course," Tess said. "But Isabel was telling me all about it, so—"

"So you wouldn't mind waiting to see how she feels about that," Dee broke in smoothly. "Right?"

"Right," Tess said quickly. "I wouldn't want to make anyone uncomfortable."

"Of course you wouldn't," Dee said. "And God knows there are plenty of photos to be enjoyed while you wait. Diane has mountains of them."

"Oh, stop!" Diane said with mock admonishment. "Lots of moms have mountains of pictures. I'll go grab a couple of albums for you, Tess."

Diane disappeared into the basement. Tess watched her leave, shaking her head. "So close," she murmured.

"Sorry?" Dee said.

"I might have known you'd be here," Tess said. "You always are, aren't you?"

"I'm not quite sure what you mean, dear," Dee said.

Dee sipped her tea in silence as they eyed one other, each with a secret they didn't want the other to know. "I mean, you're always there," Tess said in a tone which had become pointed, calculating. "Whenever something happens, you're always there."

"I'm a member of the family, so I fail to see how my presence would be considered unusual," Dee said. "And what exactly do you think is 'happening'?"

Tess considered that for a moment. "Isabel told me her parents want to put her in therapy."

"I heard," Dee said.

"I told her to have you talk to her mom," Tess went on. "I thought maybe you could talk her out of it."

"I'm afraid you give me too much credit," Dee chuckled. "There's no talking Mrs. Evans out of anything she thinks will help her children."

"But you'll try to make it better," Tess said. " know."

"Know what?" Dee said.

Tess leaned in closer and fixed her with a hard stare. "You know that Isabel and Max aren't human."


Back on Sunday!
BRIVARI: "In our language, the root of the word 'Covari' means 'hidden'. I'm always there, Your Highness, even if you don't see me."

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