Birthright *Series* Season 2 (CC, TEEN), Update,9/9/19

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

Chapter 56

Post by Kathy W » Sun Oct 09, 2016 4:53 pm

Thank you all so much for waiting! We helped the younger one successfully move to his first job, and now we need to help the older one move back to the US. I have a bit of a breather before we go into house-hunting mode, so let's get back to the story.








CHAPTER FIFTY-SIX






November 17, 2000, 3:30 p.m.

Crashdown Cafe








The kitchen was sweltering, oppressive, claustrophobic, very much like his mood. Wiping sweat from his eyes, Michael Guerin faced a grill full of burgers destined to be alien diner fare and started flipping. They hit the grill, splattering grease everywhere, and he grabbed a rag and wiped the front of his apron, swearing under his breath.

"Nice language."

Okay, maybe not under my breath, Michael thought as Tess Harding boosted herself up on the kitchen counter. "What are you doing here?" he said irritably. "And do you realize you just parked yourself in a puddle of grease?"

Tess twisted around to look at her backside. "Oh. Whatever. It's fitting, given how my week is going."

"This have anything to do with you and Max the other night?" Michael asked.

"Word travels fast," Tess said wearily.

"When it happens at the Crashdown, you bet it does," Michael said. "So what made you decide to hit on him now?"

Tess winced. " 'Hit on him'? Ouch. We were talking about a book. And he sat down with me. It's not like I superglued him to the chair."

"Fine," Michael said shortly. "I'll rephrase the question. What made you decide to wave a book under his nose right at this point in time?"

"Marginally better," Tess allowed. "And Liz made me decide."

"Liz?"

"Yes, Liz. She offered to help me win Max over. She said she wants out, and he won't listen to her. The book was her idea."

Michael stared into space for a moment. "Huh," he said finally. "Maybe I misjudged her."

"But it was a royal bust," Tess sighed. "Which is why I'm sulking. Why are you sulking?"

"I'm not sulking."

"Right. This have anything to do with your new girlfriend?"

"I'm not sulking, and what new girlfriend?" Michael demanded.

"Courtney?" Tess said. "In a towel? Ring any bells?"

"Word travels fast," Michael muttered.

"When it happens within range of Maria DeLuca's famous mouth, you bet it does," Tess agreed. "So you're into blondes now?"

"I'm not 'into' anything, and Courtney isn't my girlfriend," Michael protested. "I wasn't screwing her, I was investigating her."

"Oh, 'investigating'," Tess said with amusement. "Is that what they call it now?"

"Not you too," Michael snapped. "I'm already getting crap from Isabel, who's on Maria's side, and Max is too wrapped up in Liz to care about anything else. I expect better from you."

Tess raised an eyebrow. "You're serious?"

"Damn straight, I'm serious!" Michael exclaimed. "We might have a problem here, and they can't, or won't see it. You should know better."

Tess studied him in skeptical silence for a moment. "Okay," she said finally, "I'll bite. What's this 'problem' you're 'investigating'? And what does it have to do with a naked girl in a towel? Oh, c'mon, Michael," she went on when he looked daggers at her. "You've gotta admit it looks suspicious. I think it looks suspicious, and I don't even care what you do because I don't have a dog in this fight."

Fair point, Michael allowed privately. Tess wasn't his girlfriend, or his ex-girlfriend, or a wanna-be girlfriend, or Maria's friend, or Courtney's friend, or...well...she really wasn't anyone's friend, including his. She might be as close to a neutral party as he could get. "Okay, I'm suspicious of Courtney, so I wanted to learn more about her. She's got the hots for me, so I used that. I gave her a ride home, she invited me in, and—"

"Wait," Tess interrupted. "You're suspicious of Courtney? The blonde semi-bimbo who slings hash, drools over you, and drives Maria nuts on a regular basis? You're suspicious of that Courtney? What for?"

"Where do I start?" Michael said in frustration. "She got here right after we set off the orbs. Whitaker has those pictures of her. She's always giving me weird looks. She could be FBI, or even an alien."

"I admit the timing is interesting and Whitaker's pictures of her even more so, but don't you think you're overreacting?" Tess said.

"That's why I was investigating," Michael said impatiently, "to find out if there was anything to it. She was coming on to me, and I asked her to take a shower. That got her out of the room so I could poke around her place."

"Hmm," Tess said thoughtfully. "What'd you find?"

"Not much," Michael admitted. "I'd just started when Maria came to the door with a photo of me she'd found in Courtney's locker, and she lost her rag when she found me there. And then Courtney heard us talking and came out to see what was going on."

"And that explains the towel," Tess nodded. "I gather Maria didn't buy it?"

"That would be the understatement of the year," Michael said. "She left, then I left, and she won't listen to a word I say."

"So I heard," Tess said. "You said you didn't find 'much'. What did you find? Anything strange?"

Michael thought for a minute. "One thing. She had a cupboard full of lotion, bottles and bottles of the stuff. You know, the kind you use on dry…"

"Skin," Tess finished softly.

Michael stared at her, flabbergasted. He'd been so wrapped up in Maria's anger, he hadn't even made the connection until just now. "Wait, do you think...do you think that means she's a 'Skin'?"

"Well...we know that 'Skins' leave pieces of skin lying around," Tess said. "We know these pieces are so dry, they literally disintegrate on touch."

"Damn," Michael whispered.

"On the other hand, if they're really that fragile, you'd think skin lotion wouldn't be enough," Tess went on. "And we do live in a desert climate where dry skin is a common problem. You can probably find skin lotion in most households in town."

"Yeah, but dozens of bottles?" Michael said.

Tess shrugged. "Maybe there was a sale?"

"Now you sound like Isabel," Michael said.

"I'm not saying you're wrong," Tess said, "I'm just playing devil's advocate. She hasn't tripped my alarms, but if you're really suspicious of her, you should definitely check it out no matter what anyone else says. I would."

"Okay, how?" Michael said.

"Sounds like the way you started was working," Tess said. "I'd do that."

"And piss Maria off?"

"Maria's already pissed," Tess reminded him, "so you have nothing to lose. If Courtney wants to get close to you, let her. Then you'll find out more."

"If it turns out I'm right, Maria will have to eat crow," Michael said with satisfaction.

"And if it turns out you're wrong, she'll eat you for dinner," Tess said blandly, "but she's already kind of doing that anyway." She paused. "I hope you're wrong. I'm really not in the mood for more drama right now."

"Yeah, me neither," Michael sighed.

The kitchen door swung open, and Courtney appeared. "Hey," she said by way of greeting. "The Men in Black burger that's up on the spinner needs to be well done, as in burned to a cinder. Just F.Y.I."

"Pile of charcoal," Michael nodded. "Got it."

"Michael was just talking about you," Tess announced.

Courtney's eyebrows rose. "Oh? Nothing good, I'll bet."

"On the contrary," Tess said. "He was saying how pissed he was that you were interrupted the other night. And that he didn't know how to tell you that he'd like to pick up where you left off."

Michael stiffened as Courtney's eyes swung toward him with an admirable measure of suspicion. "For real?" she said warily.

"For real," Michael confirmed.

"Okay," Courtney said slowly. "Then the way you tell me that you'd like to pick up where we left off is to say, 'I'd like to pick up where we left off'."

"I'd like to pick up where we left off," Michael said.

"Me, too," Courtney said. "Your place, or mine?"

"Mine," Michael said. "We're both off soon. Say, 6 o'clock?"

"6 o'clock it is," Courtney agreed. "See you later, Mikey G."

She left, her penetrating gaze lingering long after the door had swung closed behind her. "Whoa!" Tess said, fanning herself. "I knew she had the hots for you, but that look was so steamy, I might have to strip off and wrap myself in a towel."

"Very funny," Michael said sourly.

"I thought so," Tess agreed cheerfully, ignoring his temper. "And now that I've done the hard part for you, enjoy your 'investigating', Mikey G."






**********************************************************






Holy shit, Courtney thought, leaning against the wall outside the kitchen, her heart pounding. HolyShitHolyShitHolyShit! She'd been walking on eggs around Rath since their aborted encounter a few days ago, not really sure if the obvious irritation he was radiating was directed at her or Maria. Future Zan's revelation that she and Rath were together in his future had made waiting somewhat easier, but only somewhat; now that she knew she could have what she wanted, she wanted it sooner, not later. But Dee had rung a warning bell that made sense; push too hard, and she could end up derailing that beautiful future before it even had a chance to work up steam. So she had dutifully hung back, waiting for Rath to make a move, and he finally had! Well...Ava had. Whatever, Courtney thought dismissively, pulling herself off the wall when she heard Maria approaching. She didn't care if Bozo the Clown had convinced Rath to come around just so long as he had. If she laid even one eyeball on Maria at this moment, she'd crow so loud, they'd hear her on Antar, so she slipped into the storeroom to compose herself, flipping on the overhead light and doing a little happy dance as soon as she had the door closed. He liked her! He wanted her! Life didn't get better than this.

"Someone's happy."

Courtney whirled around. "Lurking in storerooms again? You know this is a bad habit, right?"

Zan smiled from his perch on a box of paper towels in the very back. "Not one of my worst. What's the occasion?"

Courtney broke into a wide smile. "Rath doesn't hate me after all! After the towel incident, I mean."

"Of course he doesn't," Zan said. "I told you, he would have married you if he'd lived."

"Then it's my mission to make sure he lives," Courtney declared. "Why are you here? Another fight with Brivari?"

"No," Zan said. "I just wanted to see you one last time."

" 'Last time'?" Courtney said. "Anything I should know?"

"I'm going to try something else tonight," Zan said. "If it works, I may...disappear. Because my future will no longer exist."

"I see," Courtney said slowly. "Does Brivari know about this?"

"Oh, yeah," Zan said. "I gave him a parting gift—I released him. He doesn't have to obey me any more."

Courtney's eyes widened. "You can do that?"

"Apparently," Zan said. "It worked."

Courtney sank down on a box of napkins. "Holy shit," she said faintly.

"Unfortunately it's only temporary," Zan went on. "If I succeed, I'll cease to exist and my younger self will take over again."

"And he's in no mood to 'release' anyone," Courtney said sadly. "But it's good to know it can be done. I had no idea that was even possible."

"Neither did I," Zan admitted. "I just made it up."

"But why?" Courtney said. "What happened?"

Zan looked away. "My grandmother happened."

Of course, Courtney thought. Something this monumental could only have been precipitated by the force of nature known as Deanna Proctor. "She wanted to know if she'd done the right thing by not telling me that she knew about us," Zan went on. "I was...angry. Angry that she stayed in the background. She had some choice things to say about me and the way I conducted myself."

"She usually does," Courtney agreed.

"Did you... know my grandmother?" Zan asked curiously.

"Know her?" Courtney chuckled. "Dee is my best friend on this planet, probably my only true friend."

Zan blinked. "You knew each other? You know each other?"

"We met back in 1959 when your dad was a toddler," Courtney said. "I'd just come to Roswell, fresh off a fight with Nicholas. Dee figured me out. She and Anthony, and her mom and dad are the reason I survived that summer."

"Great-Grandma Emily?" Zan said. "Great-Grandpa David? They knew about me too?"

"Dee was only 8 when your ship crashed," Courtney said. "She and her parents helped the Warders right from the beginning, even before the military arrived. They even had your pods in their house briefly after the Warders rescued them from the base."

Zan gaped at her in astonishment for a moment before rising from the box in agitation. "I can't believe all these people knew about us! We had no one, no one, to guide us, and there were all these adults who knew! Do you know many scrapes we could have avoided, how many times we could have used their help, and we had to do it all by ourselves?"

"Don't flatter yourself," Courtney said firmly. "You did nothing 'by yourselves'. There was always a small army of people behind you, removing obstacles and enemies you never even saw, making allies for you, covering for you. One of the main reasons Sheriff Valenti is helping you is because of your grandmother. You were never alone, but if you'd known that, there would have been some...unfortunate consequences."

Zan opened his mouth to protest, but stopped abruptly, sinking back down on the box, deflated. "She said that," he said quietly. "Grandma, she said...she said she'd done the right thing by staying away because knowing about her would have led me to Brivari and what I could do to him, and...and she said I wasn't ready. You know it's bad when your own grandmother gives up on you." He paused. "At first I was pissed, but then I realized she was right. That not only wasn't I ready, but I'd never be ready, because no one ever could be. No one should have that kind of power because everyone would eventually abuse it. Look what happened from just having it and not knowing—Brivari stayed away, all these people who knew stayed away because of him...it had to go. And he needed to see that it could go so he can judge whether or not I'll ever have the guts to give it up."

"Maybe you will someday," Courtney said. "You did this time."

"Maybe," Zan said, sounding unconvinced. He stood up. "Time to go. I'm glad we met. Both then and now."

"So am I," Courtney said, meaning it. "Hopefully we'll meet again. Under better circumstances."

"Hopefully," Zan agreed. "Good luck with Michael."

"He invited me to his place tonight," Courtney said happily.

Zan paused. "He did?"

"Yeah. After work, so, in just a little while."

Zan's eyes drifted far away. "Huh."

"What?" Courtney asked warily.

"It's just that...that didn't happen last time," Zan said.

"It didn't? But you said...you said we…"

"That was later," Zan said, "after the ships arrived and turned Roswell into Ground Zero. After almost everyone we knew and loved died, including Maria."

"Oh," Courtney said, taken aback. "So...things are different this time."

"Looks like," Zan said. "Good luck with your new world."

"Good luck ending the old one…" Courtney paused, having been about to say Your Highness. "I don't know what to call you," she confessed. " 'Your Highness' seems a bit weird under the circumstances."

Zan smiled faintly. "Call me 'Max'. That's my name."






*********************************************************







Kyle Valenti paused outside the Crashdown, gazing nervously at his reflection in the window and ticking down his mental checklist one more time. Hair clean and brushed? Check. Clean shaven? Check. Teeth brushed? Check. Mouthwash? Check, and breath mints in case that wore off too soon. Showered? Check. Deodorant? Check. Toenails clipped? Check. Wait...was that something in his teeth?

The door opened, nearly smacking Kyle in the face. Caught staring at his bared teeth, Kyle managed a self-conscious smile for the exiting patron who gave him a strange look before moving on. What was wrong with him? He'd been amused at Liz's request last night, but as soon as he'd gotten home from school, he'd started to fret. He wouldn't have admitted it to God himself, but he'd never crawled into bed with a girl, not for sex, show, or sleep. The thought of doing so now caused a tsunami of embarrassing potential scenarios to rear their ugly heads. What if he had bad breath? What if he had BO? What if his scraggly toenails scratched her? What had followed was a solid hour of cleaning, clipping, and combing which went way beyond the usual shit, shower, and shave, including a solid ten minutes inspecting his boxers to find the least worn pair. You knew it was serious when you were turning your undies inside out to check for holes. He'd taken a long shower, washing everything twice, including areas which were off limits tonight but rarely fresh as a daisy, and he'd added an extra layer of deodorant because his personal hygiene products had been known to fail him under stress. He'd shaved with a blade instead of his usual electric razor because the blade left a smoother finish. He'd had to raid his father's stash for dental floss, that not being a product in his usual kit, and he'd not only cut, but filed, his toenails, making certain to round the edges which were known for ripping holes in sheets. The toenails had taken forever, and when he was done, he'd realized his fingernails needed cutting too. He'd nixed both aftershave and cologne, afraid that either would be too overpowering in such close quarters. Finally ready, he'd arrived here only to collapse into another sinkhole of worry that he was not crisp and fresh. Here he'd thought he'd be immune to performance anxiety because he and Liz weren't going to actually do the deed, but he'd managed to develop pre-performance anxiety. Great. Just great.

Pull yourself together, Valenti, Kyle ordered himself, stepping into the Crashdown. He needed to treat this like a game, like a contest to be won. These were just the usual pre-game jitters; what was needed now was meditation. Meditation would calm him. Meditation would center him. Meditation would…Oh, no! Kyle thought frantically, catching a glimpse of his reflection in the glass cover of the cake plate. Was that hair sticking out of his nose?

"You're gorgeous," a bored voice said. "Want a slice?"

"Oh, my God, is that nose hair?" Kyle squeaked. "Tell me that's not nose hair!"

Pad and pencil in hand, Agnes lowered her glasses and gazed at him skeptically. "Okay. That's not nose hair."

"You're just saying that," Kyle fretted. "It looks like a freaking forest! How did I miss that?"

"Just a guess, but it might have something to do with your face being half an inch from the glass," Agnes said. "You gonna eat it, or just sniff it?"

"Neither," Kyle muttered, making a beeline for the bathroom. Agnes was sort of right—the hair didn't look quite so awful from a distance, but Liz was scheduled to be almost as close as that cake. Most of the hair could be pushed up inside his nose, but that long one had to go…

Yank!

A stall door opened behind him. "Dude," announced the stall's former occupant, "you've got a bloody nose."

"Tell me something I don't already know," Kyle said crossly, rinsing his bloody hand in the sink before vacating it for Obvious Man, who left without bothering to wash up. Ducking into bathrooms, yanking out nose hairs...he was starting to fall apart at the seams, and he wasn't even upstairs yet. Carefully avoiding Agnes, he slipped into the back and spied the storeroom. Perfect, he thought, closing the door behind him and assuming a cross-legged position on the floor without bothering to turn on a light. He only needed a few minutes to think, to reflect, to calm himself, and a rarely frequented dark room was the perfect place to do that. A few minutes later he was breathing evenly, peaceful, serene. He was here to help a friend, not win a beauty contest. What mattered was making himself fully available to his friend…

The door flew open and the light flicked on, followed by an indignant gasp. "What the hell are you doing?" demanded a female voice.

Startled, Kyle's scrambled to his feet. "Uh...sorry," he stammered. "I didn't think anyone came in here. It's Courtney, right? I'm here to see Liz."

"In the storeroom?" Courtney said. "Honey, she's got a bedroom. You'll be much more comfortable up there."

"I know," Kyle said, "but I was just...well...meditating before I went up."

Courtney raised an eyebrow. "Wow. I never thought of Liz as someone who required meditation. Maria, maybe, Agnes definitely, but not Liz."

"No, I'm just helping her out with something," Kyle said hurriedly, "and I…I'm just...well, I had to get into the right frame of mind to...see, it's kinda awkward…" He paused, both of Courtney's eyebrows now sky high. "Like this conversation," he finished lamely, realizing he sounded like an absolute nut case.

"Mmm hmm," Courtney murmured dubiously.

"I'm just here to help a friend," Kyle said. "My body is merely a vessel."

"Oh, I'm sure," Courtney said dryly.

"No, I'm serious," Kyle insisted. "It's important to help others, even if what they need scares you. Buddha said, 'I do not believe in a fate that falls on men however they act, but I do believe in a fate that falls on them unless they act.' "

"Liz needs something that scares you?" Courtney said. "Wait—don't answer that. Why am I even having this conversation? I have to stop coming in here. It's like one of those awful game shows where you never know what's behind each door."

"I...don't know what that means," Kyle said.

"Aren't those on any more?" Courtney said. "Let's Make A Deal? Monty Hall? Never mind. Haul your 'vessel' out of here. I'm off in five, and I will not be late."

"Right. Right," Kyle said. "Could we...could we take a vow of silence about this encounter? Because—"

"Out!" Courtney commanded.

"Right. Thank you. Bye," Kyle said quickly, taking the steps on the staircase two at a time just in case she decided to call in reinforcements. But the meditation had done its work; he was in a good place as he knocked on Liz's bedroom door and calmly waited for her to answer.

When she did, it was she who looked in need of a good meditation. "Hey, Kyle," she said, looking supremely uncomfortable. "Look, I want you to know that...that if this is just too weird, you...you know, if you can't… I mean, I understand if you don't want to."

"And the fact that you understand makes me okay with it," Kyle said. "Don't worry about me—I'm good. As long as you still want to do it, I am at your disposal."

Liz's features melted. "Thank you," she said, meaning it.

"You're welcome. Now," Kyle said briskly, "shall we send your ex over the edge?"






**********************************************************






Guerin Residence







Courtney paused near Rath's apartment, suddenly unwilling to go those few extra steps which would take her to his door. What was wrong with her? She'd practically skipped home from work after disposing of Valenti's weirdo son, camped out chanting in the storeroom. She'd spent all of 30 seconds wondering if this oddball's visit to Liz had anything to do with Zan's plans for changing the future before deciding that she didn't care; judging from what he'd told her, the future had already changed. She'd spent the next half hour showering and primping, applying loads of lotion to make certain her husk was in as good a shape as it could be and choosing clothes which were easy to get out of because she might see some action tonight. So why was she hesitating? Was it because of Dee's warning that if she pushed too hard, she could ruin the whole thing? Was it because of the look on Zan's face when he realized that their meeting tonight hadn't happened the first time around? For some reason, she had a bad feeling about this, but she couldn't for the life of her figure out why. Should she pay attention to it? Was it just nerves, or was there truly a reason to be wary of the fact that things were different this time? But if she and Rath had wound up a couple in that other future, what would be the harm in accelerating the process a bit in this one? Heck, an earlier union on their part could be a good thing. Rationalizations aside, she hung back, only steps from Rath's door but still unwilling to commit.

Until someone beat her to it. Brushing by so close that he almost touched her, Alex Whitman, he of striptease fame, marched past like a walking thundercloud. Curious as to why the mild-mannered Alex would be so angry, she followed, lurking by the apartment door he'd left open.

"…any idea what you've done to Maria?" Alex demanded.

Parked in front of the TV with a bowl of something or other, Rath actually adopted a placatory expression. "Dude, it was a misunderstanding," he said.

But Alex was having none of it. "Look, I don't care that you've got 30 pounds on me, or...or that you can kill me with some...some twisted alien power. I will not let you treat her like that! I...I don't care that Isabel treats me like crap, but no one does that to Maria, all right? She's not just some girl!"

Oh, good grief, Courtney thought wearily. The fate of planets hung in the balance, but it was still about some girl's feelings, be it Maria or Liz. Anxious to intervene before Rath lost his famous temper and did something he'd regret, she stepped into the doorway. "Knock, knock!"

Rath looked relieved. Alex turned to look at her...then hauled off and nailed Rath in the kisser. "Ow!" he exclaimed, shaking his injured hand as Courtney gaped and Rath sprawled on the floor, nursing his wounded jaw.

"Do you realize you just risked your life?" Rath demanded.

"Yeah," Alex muttered.

Rath's expression actually softened. "You're a really good friend, man."

"Call me that again, and I'll really kick your ass," Alex retorted, marching past Courtney and slamming the door behind him as Courtney hurried to Rath.

"Are you okay?" she asked worriedly, crouching beside him.

"Yeah, I'm fine," Rath said as she held out her hands to help him up. He took them, started to stand...and then stopped, as did she. They gazed at each other in silence for a long moment…

...and the next moment they were kissing passionately, standing, twirling, arms around each other, hands moving, and this time, there would no interruptions, not with Maria mad at him, and Alex having thrown his punch, and…

Courtney was so lost in the sheer bliss of having him want her the way she wanted him that she didn't register how his hand lingered on the small of her back. It was only when she felt a pulling sensation that she came to, that bliss gave way to horror as Rath backed away and held up a strip of skin.

"You're a Skin?" he demanded.

Horrified, Courtney froze. She hadn't planned on getting into species with him, at least not now, but since it had come up, should she answer? Maybe she should. Maybe the time had come for some honesty. After all, they couldn't be united until they each knew who the other truly was…

But all those lovely ruminations went right down the toilet as she registered the look in Rath's eyes. He wasn't curious or interested, he was angry, frightened, and defiant, and why not? Their only other experience with her people was Vanessa, so why should he think anything different of her? Why should any of them? What would they do with her now that they knew she was the same species as their enemy? Talking to Future Zan had been one thing, but it would be his younger self she'd be dealing with now, a different prospect entirely…

Instinctively, Courtney ran, crashing through the window in Rath's apartment as he roared for her to stop and aimed a blast of power which missed her, but leveled something else. She couldn't afford honesty right now; she needed to think, to work out how best to deal with this. Sprinting, she rounded a corner and paused, panting, looking back the way she'd come. Rath was hunting for her outside his apartment, but he gave up pretty quickly and pulled out his phone.

He's telling the others, she realized, the full magnitude of what had just happened dawning on her. She couldn't go home. She couldn't go back to her job. Her life posing as a human was over. What the hell was she going to do? The same thing Rath had done, she decided, pulling out her own phone.

"C'mon, Dee, pick up," she muttered, trying again when it went to voicemail. "Pick up!"






*********************************************************






Panting, Dee reached the landing and looked up at the last flight of stairs. God, but she hated climbing. She could still remember when she'd skipped up multiple flights of stairs while her parents straggled behind her, wondering what was taking them so long. She'd have to mention that to her parents next time she saw them; they'd get a kick out of it, or at least her father would. Slightly recovered, she climbed the last flight of stairs and stepped through the door which led to the roof.

"Okay, I'm here," she said irritably. "What on earth was so all-fired important that I had to drop what I was doing and join you on a rooftop?"

"That," Brivari answered, handing her a pair of binoculars and pointing.

Still annoyed, Dee took the binoculars and aimed them in the general direction of his finger. It took her a moment to locate the object of his interest, that being Liz Parker and the dark version of her grandson on her rooftop balcony.

"I don't get it," Dee said. "You knew he was talking to her. He married her in that other life, so how could this possibly be interesting—"

"Quiet," Brivari ordered. "Keep watching."

"Why?" Dee demanded.

"Because it's close," Brivari whispered. "I can feel it."

Mystified, Dee stared at him for a moment before raising the binoculars to her eyes once more. Ordinarily she'd argue with him, but there was something about his tone which was unnerving. "What exactly am I watching?" she asked.

Brivari never took his eyes off the couple. "The future."






~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~





Misha's coming to visit! We'll be watching lots and lots of Roswell, I'm sure, and I'll be back with Chapter 57 on Sunday, October 30.
Image
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."

keepsmiling7
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Re: Birthright *Series* Season 2 (CC, TEEN), Chapter 56, 10/9

Post by keepsmiling7 » Thu Oct 27, 2016 12:17 pm

Tess really didn't know what to think when Liz offered to help her, did she??
And Michael is still suspicious of Courtney.......with good reason.
But as Tess said he should enjoy his investigating!
Loved all of Kyle's actions while getting ready for Liz...........those nose hairs gave him lots of trouble!
As always, Alex proves to be a good friend.........and finally the skin is discovered.
Great part, looking forward to the next one,
Carolyn

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Kathy W
Obsessed Roswellian
Posts: 688
Joined: Thu Oct 31, 2002 5:06 am

Chapter 57

Post by Kathy W » Sun Oct 30, 2016 4:57 pm

It was so nice to see Misha again! We watched Meet the Dupes, Max in the City, ARCC, Blind Date, Secrets and Lies, Control, and the Pilot. Sheer heaven to curl up with a Roswell fan, some snacks, and a snoozing cat!


keepsmiling7: I often wondered what Kyle went through both before and after his faux sleepover. It was fun exploring that. Glad you enjoyed it too!







CHAPTER FIFTY-SEVEN





November 17, 2000, 6:15 p.m.

Crashdown Cafe






After a full two minutes passed, Dee finally lowered the binoculars. "They're just sitting there talking," she reported.

Beside her, Brivari's eyes were locked on the couple seated on Liz Parker's balcony. "I know."

"I know you know," Dee said, well aware that Warders wouldn't need binoculars at this distance. "I'm still trying to figure out what I'm doing here. You said 'it's close' and 'I can feel it', but that doesn't tell me what 'it' is."

"You're here to witness," Brivari answered. "I wanted someone else to see this besides me, with 'this' being something which hasn't happened yet, hence my admonition to keep watching."

"Okay, but—"

"Watch," Brivari said firmly. "You can talk and watch at the same time."

Thoroughly irritated, Dee raised the binoculars. Liz and the future version of Max were still seated, but silent now, and clearly miserable. "Let me guess—they took another stab at changing the future. And failed."

"Zan was doubtful it would work," Brivari said.

"You mean he talked to you about it? That's encouraging."

"He mentioned you," Brivari said. "Anything you'd like to tell me, Deanna?"

Dee said nothing for a moment, now grateful for the binoculars which hid her expression. So Zan had told Brivari about their encounter. Given the less than flattering things she'd said, she hadn't banked on that.

"Well?" Brivari prompted.

"Okay, I saw him," Dee confessed. "I know you told me not to, but I needed to know if I was doing the right thing by keeping him in the dark. I figured asking him was the best way to find out."

"And did you?"

"I'll say," Dee said darkly. "I explained why I never said anything, but he didn't get it. He was angry with me, and belligerent, and accusatory. And when I asked him if he'd given you an order since he'd arrived here, he lied to me."

"Mmm," Brivari murmured.

"So I told him that I'd decided I'd done the right thing," Dee went on. "He's not ready, not even after all he's been through. Maybe he never will be."

"And how did he respond?"

Dee's grip tightened on the binoculars as she watched the object of their conversation on the rooftop across the street. "I don't know. I was so disgusted, I left." And I'm not proud of that, she added privately. She wouldn't have expected walking away from her grandson, any version of her grandson, to be easy, but walking away from that one had been surprisingly easy. Simply put, she didn't like him. Perhaps her expectations had been too high; she'd imagined him to be older and smarter, and all she'd gotten was the older part. Perhaps he was still too young or just too damaged to live up to her lofty expectations.

"So what did he tell you?" Dee sighed, still waiting for the other shoe to drop. "Did he go on about nasty I was, and how awful for not telling him I knew about him when he was younger?"

"No," Brivari said. "He freed me."

" 'Freed you'? What does that mean?"

"He told me I don't have to obey him any more."

"He said that? He actually said that to you?"

"He did."

"Well, what do you know," Dee said. "I wouldn't have given you a nickel for him last night. He got it, at least partially, even if it is an empty gesture. You're genetically programmed to obey him."

"You misunderstand," Brivari said. "It wasn't a gesture, it was an order. He ordered me to never again regard an order from him as something I must obey."

Dee lowered the binoculars, flabbergasted. "But...does that work? Is it really that simple?"

"I'd hardly call it 'simple', but it worked," Brivari confirmed. "He gave me an order, and I felt absolutely no urge to obey it."

"But what's to stop him ordering you to turn it back on?"

"He thought of that," Brivari said. "I am not obliged to obey any order, including an order which rescinds the one which gave me my freedom." He paused. "Was this your idea?"

"What? No!" Dee exclaimed. "I mean, I told him I never thought he'd be ready to wield that kind of power because it's just too tempting. I thought he'd have to make the choice not to use it, but I don't know any saints who would be able to keep their fingers off it forever. I never thought it was possible to turn it off." Across the street, her grandson and Liz rose from their seats and started swaying to music only they could hear. "He cut himself off," she said faintly. "He figured out a way to cut himself off for good."

"He didn't do it alone," Brivari said. "He would never have gotten there if you hadn't pushed him."

"Off a cliff," Dee admitted. "I was so disappointed in him, so disgusted. I wanted him to be better than that."

"And he was," Brivari said softly. "And now, very soon, he'll be gone."

Startled, Dee raised the binoculars toward the balcony, where the man she'd thought so selfish and immature twirled the girl he'd married as she fought a sudden urge to run over there, to gather him in her arms and take it all back, to tell him what she hadn't told him last night, that she loved him in spite of her disappointment. "What happens if he changes the future? Where does he go?"

"According to the source who engineered this whole thing, he will cease to exist because the future he came from will cease to exist," Brivari said.

" 'Cease to exist'," Dee murmured. "I wonder how that works. And then what happens to you? What happens to your freedom?"

"It will go with him," Brivari said. "The younger version of Zan will hold the only royal mark, and I will be bound by it just as I was before."

"So we have to get our Max to turn it off just like this Max did," Dee said.

"He wasn't sure we could," Brivari said. "If the future is changed, if war is averted, the younger Zan may never reach the point where he'd be willing to do that. He warned me not to go anywhere near his younger self unless I was certain he was ready to do the same thing. He said you'd know if that were the case."

"You mean like I did this time?" Dee said. "Because I never saw this coming, never—"

A hand on her arm stopped her. "It's close," Brivari murmured. "He's fading."

"What makes you think that?" Dee said. "They're just..."

It happened so fast, she almost missed it. Still surprised that their contentious encounter had ended so well, mentally formulating a plan to see him one more time and tell him how proud she was of him, she watched as Liz Parker twirled and twirled and twirled and...and suddenly, she was twirling alone.

"Wait...did he…did he just…?"

"Yes," Brivari whispered.

Dee stared, transfixed, as an equally stunned Liz Parker frantically searched the balcony, every bit as unable to believe her eyes. "How did you know?" Dee said faintly. "How did you know it was so close?"

Brivari shook his head. "Odd, isn't it? I was no longer tethered to him, but somehow...I was more tethered than ever."

Liz collapsed sobbing in a chair, and Dee lowered the binoculars, unwilling to intrude on what should be a private grief. "The strongest ties we have are those we choose, not those which are forced on us. This was the first time you had a choice."

"And now I don't," Brivari said with an edge to his voice. "Now I'm tethered to the child again, which is even more galling than before."

"That 'child' turned into a man who saw his way clear to letting you go," Dee reminded him. "It happened once. It can happen again."

"You think so?" Brivari said bitterly. "How long will it take? How much more crap do I have to wade through before I get there?"

"Hopefully not much," Dee said soothingly. "Perhaps this time it will be…"

Her sentence trailed off as Brivari abruptly walked away. She watched him go with a heavy heart, wondering if Max, her Max, was going to get the raw end of this. Brivari was still reeling from Jaddo's death and not in the best frame of mind to handle a sudden bestowal of unheard of freedom followed by its sudden loss. She took one last look at the sobbing girl across the street before beginning the climb down to street level.

Her phone pinged, indicating that she had a voicemail. Had it rung before? She hadn't even noticed.






**********************************************************






"Hey, Agnes!" Kyle called. "Another shake, please?"

Agnes surveyed him skeptically. "That would make your third."

"That it would," Kyle agreed. "I'm drowning my sorrows in fat and sugar."

"What kind of sorrows have you got to drown?" Agnes muttered.

"May I have another shake, or do I need to ask another waitress?" Kyle said.

"Hold your horses," Agnes retorted. "You'll get your shake. And don't get mouthy with me."

"I thought 'please' was the magic word," Kyle said innocently.

"You want 'magic'?" Agnes snapped. "The back of my hand is magic."

"Did...did you just threaten me with physical violence? Because my dad might have something to say about that. You know, the sheriff?"

Agnes beat a hasty retreat, muttering probably unrepeatable things under her breath, reappearing a few minutes later with a new milkshake which she slapped unceremoniously in front of him without a single word. Probably better that way, Kyle thought, tucking into shake #3. He was a big enough smartass himself that he could easily go ten rounds with another, and he was definitely in no mood for anyone's crap. He'd been here no more than an hour, but it had been one of the strangest hours of his life, weirder even than the day he'd died and was brought back to life, largely because he didn't remember a lot of that, having been dead and all. After making his peace with the whole "pretend to be caught in bed with Liz" bit, and even enjoying their conversation while they waited in faux flagrante delicto, things had taken a very different turn after Evans had shown up. They had lain there in silence for what seemed like forever, but had probably only been about five minutes, when Liz had started to get up, and he'd put a hand on her arm.

"Let me."

"I just...I have to see if he's okay," Liz had said, near tears.

"I'll go," he'd said. "If he sees you right now, he's gonna know this was all a set-up. You want this to work, right?"

She had hesitated, then nodded. He'd climbed out of bed and pulled on his jeans.

"Could you put your shirt on?" Liz had asked. "I don't want anyone seeing a shirtless guy on my balcony."

"It's a bit late to be worrying about your reputation, don't you think?" Kyle had said dryly, only to regret it when he'd seen the look on her face. "Shirt," he'd said briskly. "Right. Got it."

The windowsill scraped as he squeezed through. Jesus, did these people do this a lot? Maybe they were smaller than he was because that was a bloody tight fit. Something on the ground caught his eye, and he reached down to pick it up. Concert tickets. Gomez.

"Do you see him?" Liz called.

"Checking," he'd answered.

But Evans wasn't there, not on the balcony, not on the street below. "He's gone," he'd reported when he'd scraped back through the window. "And he left these."

Liz had paled when she'd seen the tickets. "Just put them on the desk, please," she'd said weakly.

He'd sat down on the bed then, assuming she'd want to talk. Didn't girls usually want to talk, like, ad nauseam? "Um...Kyle?" she'd said weakly. "I really appreciate what you did...you have no idea...but I'd really like to be alone now."

"You sure?" he'd asked.

"Yeah," she'd nodded, with a quick swipe across the eyes. "Yeah, I'm sure."

"Okay," he'd said, gathering up his shoes, his belt, his wallet, before pausing by the door. "Just one thing, Liz. I know you're feeling guilty about this, but you shouldn't be. You've been clear, really clear, and Evans didn't listen. That's on him, not you."

She'd nodded wordlessly, tangled in the sheets and thoroughly miserable as he'd slipped out of the room and repaired to the Crashdown, ordering a milkshake to drown his sorrows, then another, and now another. This didn't feel the way it should, the way he'd expected it to. He'd tried to convince himself it was all about helping Liz, but the truth was that helping Liz was a lot easier when it meant swatting a guy he found uppity and annoying. He'd expected to enjoy helping her give Evans the middle finger, but, curiously, he hadn't. The look on Evans' face had been...disturbing. Whatever his private motives, the fact remained that he'd helped out a friend and Evans had it coming. So why did he feel like a jerk?

"You seen Max?"

Kyle flinched as Michael Guerin heaved himself onto an adjacent stool. "No," Kyle lied. "Why would I have?"

"I need to find him, and he's not answering his phone," Guerin said.

"And how is this my problem?" Kyle asked.

"You seen Courtney?" Guerin persisted.

"Nope," Kyle lied, vowing to never speak of that first humiliating encounter this evening.

"What about Liz? You seen Liz?"

"What am I, your party planner?" Kyle said crossly. "Why would I have seen any of these people?"

"I was just asking," Guerin said. "If I can't find Max, it's usually because of Liz, so—"

Guerin stopped as Kyle grabbed his arm. "Do not badmouth Liz," he commanded. "I am not in the mood. One snotty word out of you, and I will beat the shit out of you. Go ahead, try me. Make my day."

To Kyle's surprise, Guerin instantly backed off. "Dude," he said, both hands raised in surrender. "Calm down. I believe you. But I gotta warn you, Alex beat you to it."

"Beat me to what?" Kyle demanded.

"Taking a pop at me. I gotta say, the women around here are well defended." Guerin stood up. "Later."

Kyle's mouth fell open as Guerin left. Whitman had socked Guerin? Wow. And just when he thought there was nothing weirder than pretend sex with Liz Parker.






**********************************************************






Banks Residence







Fumbling with the keys, Courtney unlocked her front door and tumbled inside with a frantic glance behind her. She hadn't noticed any signs of pursuit, but then she'd made her way home the hard way, skulking through back yards and along side streets, pressed up against buildings, pulling the hood of the sweatshirt she'd nicked from someone's clothesline over her face, certain she was being followed. It was risky to go home, but she didn't know where else to go given the shape she was in, and Dee's house was too far away to reach on foot. She was an exile now, unable to show her face in human society, and if she had to go into exile, she wanted to have at least a few of her things with her. She'd pack, then leave. It shouldn't take long. Or so she thought, until she saw her face in the hallway mirror.

Holy shit. Courtney stared at her face in shock before peeking inside the purloined sweatshirt, shaking when she saw what it concealed. She'd been so intent on getting away that she hadn't even noticed. Stumbling into the bathroom, she cranked up the warm water in the shower and climbed inside fully clothed, sitting on the floor with her arms around her knees as the hot water ran over her, soaking her clothes, her hair. The river of water which formed around her turned red, then pink as it made its way to the drain, leaving messy trails on the white shower pan. What have I done? she moaned silently, shivering even though the water was warm. She'd been warned. She couldn't say she hadn't been warned.


"It's just that...that didn't happen last time."


And I didn't take the hint, Courtney thought wearily as the water rained over her. No, she had just skipped happily ahead, oblivious to the obvious. Now she was paying the price.


"That was later, after the ships arrived and turned Roswell into ground zero. After almost everyone we knew and loved died, including Maria."


That was the part she had missed...no, not missed, just not wanted to hear. Rath hadn't considered her a viable choice until after Maria died. She had fallen into the Warder's trap of thinking of the hybrids as the people they used to be when she should know better. They were hybrids, after all, part Antarian, part human, and they'd been raised on Earth among humans. Rath may have been inclined toward an alliance with the leader of the Argilian Resistance, but "Michael" knew nothing about that. To "Michael", Maria was the safer choice. Thoroughly miserable, she sat in the rain as the pink puddle around her faded. Eventually, she'd have to at least try getting these clothes off…

"What in the world?" an astonished voice said. "What happened to you?"

For a moment, Courtney couldn't place the voice and didn't care. Her already short remaining life span had just been shortened further courtesy of her own stupidity, so if the hybrids had come for her, it didn't much matter. But it was Dee standing over her, blurry in the rain before she reached over and turned off the water. For a moment there was only soggy silence as water swirled down the drain.

"Is that...blood?" Dee ventured.

"Help me get this off," Courtney whispered, plucking at the sweatshirt.

Dee hesitated, looking ready to demand explanations before thinking better of it. An experimental tug on the back of the sodden sweatshirt made Courtney grimace. "Scissors," she said in a ragged voice. "Top drawer. Kitchen."

Mercifully, Dee left without comment, returning a moment later with the scissors. The sweatshirt was thick and wet, which made cutting it difficult. It took a minute to split the back, then the front, and couple more to work the arms off. Underneath, her thin top clung to her like plastic wrap with a dozen slits, still oozing despite the drenching.

"Jesus, Mary, and Joseph," Dee breathed. "Were you attacked?"

"I had a run-in with a window," Courtney said.

"What kind of 'run-in'?"

"The kind where you jump through it, and then wish you hadn't."

"You jumped through a window?" Dee said. "You mean like you did back in '59 when you figured out Brivari was living in the same house you were? What on earth for?"

"Would you stop giving me the third degree and help me out of here?" Courtney said crossly. "I want to see how bad it is for myself."

Dee put a hand on her shoulder. "You don't look too steady," she said gently. "Maybe you should just sit for a few minutes."

Startled, Courtney stared at her for a moment before scrambling to her feet, grabbing the shower door handle for support as she was indeed very unsteady. Dee took one arm, which hurt like hell, but kept her from falling flat on her face as she half shuffled, half limped to the bathroom mirror.

"Crap," Courtney whispered, leaning on the sink as she gazed at the dozens of angry red lines covering her face and neck. "I look like I tangled with a razor blade."

"More like a pack of razor blades," Dee said. "It's your arms too."

"And my chest," Courtney said, swaying precariously as she lifted up her shirt. "And my legs. And my—"

"Sit down before you fall down," Dee ordered, guiding her to the toilet seat. "The front took the hit, but the good news is I don't see much on your back."

"Great," Courtney muttered, shivering in her wet clothes. "So I'm only bleeding from 500 cuts instead of a thousand."

"That's why they call it 'death by a thousand cuts'," Dee said dryly. "But none of them are deep. They should heal. I don't remember this happening the last time you jumped out a window."

"I had a few, but nothing like this," Courtney said sadly. "This is an old husk. It doesn't heal the way it used to."

"Then we'll just have to help it," Dee said briskly. "We should get your clothes off while you're still wet. The last thing you want is for the blood to dry, and it already has in a few places."

It stung like hell, but a few minutes later they had managed to carefully peel off her shredded clothes, then it was back into the shower for another rinse which also stung like hell. "That's enough," Dee reported, throwing a towel around her shoulders. "I won't rub," she promised when Courtney winced, "but you're shaking like a leaf. You'll feel better when you warm up."

She was right. Good old optimistic Dee, Courtney thought once she was patted dry, wrapped in a pair of old pajamas and handed a cup of hot tea in the still steamy bathroom, a better place for her injured husk than the drier air in the rest of the house. "Now," Dee said, plopping a chair across from her. "What in the world made you jump out a window?"

Courtney stared at her tea. "Rath found out I'm an alien."

"Michael?" Dee said in surprise. "How?"

"Gee, I don't know, it might have been the piece of skin he peeled off me," Courtney deadpanned.

Dee raised an eyebrow. "He peeled your skin off? How did that happen?"

"We were...making out," Courtney confessed. "I know, I know!" she exclaimed when Dee's eyebrow left the atmosphere. "He invited me over to his house after work, and when I got there, Alex was beating him up—"

"Wait—Alex? As in Alex Whitman?"

"Yeah. Something about how he was treating Maria. He punched Rath, and knocked him over, and I was helping him up, and we both sorta looked at each other and...well, there was always chemistry there."

"Alex punched Michael," Dee said, shaking her head. "Now I know the world is upside down.

"I thought I was prepared," Courtney said miserably. "I took a shower, I used gallons of lotion. But I must have missed a spot; he peeled it off my back."

"So he knows," Dee said. "So why not just tell him the truth? It's not like they haven't met other aliens."

"You didn't see the look on his face," Courtney protested. "He said, 'You're a Skin?' like I was some sort of fungus. And then he took a shot at me and blew up his own television."

"Did he take a shot at you before or after you ran away?" Dee asked. "That's what I thought," she went on when Courtney looked away. "You were running, so of course you looked dangerous. You should have stayed and explained."

"Explained what?" Courtney demanded. "Somehow he didn't look like he was in the mood for a long-winded essay on the Argilian Resistance."

"The only Skin they knew was Vanessa, so of course he would jump to the wrong conclusions," Dee said, "but why the window? Bit extreme, don't you think? Doesn't he have a door? Didn't you come through it when you got there?"

"I don't know!" Courtney wailed. "I'm sorry, I just...panicked. I was all excited because he invited me over, and then to have it end like that...I should have listened to Zan. He thought it was weird."

"You saw him again?" Dee said. "When?"

"This afternoon," Courtney said, wincing as she plucked her pajamas away from the cuts. "He told me this didn't happen the first time, that Rath and I didn't get together until after the invasion started and Maria was dead. Next time I see him, I'm gonna nail him to the wall and ask more questions."

"There won't be a 'next time'," Dee said. "He's gone."

Courtney blinked. "Gone? Gone where?"

" 'Gone' as in 'disappeared'," Dee clarified. "I watched him disappear. He was with Liz Parker, and then suddenly she was all alone. That's where I was when you called."

Courtney rocked back on the toilet seat. "He said he was going to try something, but...I guess I didn't seriously think it would work. He also said he set Brivari free. Claimed he didn't have to obey him any more. Was that true?"

"It was," Dee confirmed, "but now that the future version of Max is gone, our Max is in charge again."

"That didn't last long," Courtney sighed.

"But it did happen," Dee said. "We know it can be done, and we know how. We just have to get Max to a point where he's willing to do the same thing."

"Good luck with that," Courtney muttered.

"He did it once," Dee said. "He figured out why no one should have power like that. I know he went through a lot to get there—"

"Yeah, like getting whacked upside the head by you," Courtney said dryly.

"—but there are other ways to reach the same conclusion," Dee finished, ignoring her. "Why wouldn't he be able to get there again?"

"I'll tell you why," Courtney said. "Zan was trying to change-the-future himself out of existence. At first I thought this 'free the Warder' bit was this big magnanimous gesture, but now I'm not so sure—he had nothing to lose by giving that up because he was going to be giving it up anyway, giving everything up. Max won't be in that position. He'll have everything to lose, which will make him all the more likely to hang onto it."

Dee looked startled for a moment, like she hadn't considered that. "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," she said finally. "We have bigger fish to fry at the moment."

"And I'm the fish," Courtney said wearily. "I can't go back to work. I can't stay here. I'm screwed, screwed."

"Calm down," Dee said. "You'll stay with me, of course."

"This would be so much easier if Jaddo were still alive!" Courtney exclaimed. "Tess would hear about it and tell him, so then we'd know what they were all thinking, and then he and I could...wait. Did I just say I was missing Jaddo? It's a cold day somewhere if I'm missing Jaddo."

"I'll pack your suitcase," Dee said. "Come with me and tell me what to pack."

"Don't forget my trithium generator," Courtney said as Dee helped her to her feet. "I have to tell Nathaniel what happened in case I don't make it."

"Is he still your Second?" Dee said. "And of course you'll 'make it'. Those cuts aren't deep, just numerous."

"God, it's late," Courtney said catching sight of the clock near the bed. "I've been here almost an hour. Why haven't they come for me?"






*********************************************************






The night was still, the park quiet save for the distant sound of cars on the road nearby. The soft glow of the pole lights cast shadows on the ground as Tess relaxed on the bench, enjoying the first time she'd been near her former husband when he hadn't objected to her presence. She'd fully expected him to refuse her request to sit down, to say yes when she'd asked if he'd like her to leave, and she'd been certain he would pull away when she'd tentatively placed a hand on his shoulder. That he hadn't said or done any of those things filled her with a ridiculous amount of joy. She might not be wanted, exactly, but her presence was not protested. It wasn't much, but it was a start.

Time passed. A lady went by with a tiny, hyperactive dog straining on a leash. Something small and probably furry rustled in the grass. She was honestly surprised to find herself here, having not had much hope for Liz's invitation to be outside the Crashdown tonight, with her hopes dropping further when she'd watched Max climb the ladder to Liz's balcony with a spring in his step. But only minutes later, he'd climbed back down with feet which now looked like lead. She felt slightly guilty about it, but her heart had leaped when he'd leaned against the building and doubled over with what looked like a sob. She couldn't for the life of her imagine what could have happened to cause that reaction, but whatever it was, it appeared to have worked. Somehow, Liz had managed to make her point after all.

"Can I ask you something?"

Max's voice was a flat monotone which matched his glazed stare, but it cut the stillness nevertheless. "Sure," Tess answered, glad he was finally talking.

"I want you to be honest with me," Max added.

"I will."

"Completely honest," Max clarified. "Will you do that?"

Tess glanced sideways. He was looking at her intently now; he meant business. "I will be completely honest," Tess answered. "Even if I don't want to be."

"Good," Max answered. "The other night outside the Crashdown, when we were talking about Steinbeck...did Liz really set that up?"

Shit. Why did this have to be the very first question? "Yes," she answered reluctantly.

"How? When? Why?"

"Well...um…'when' was the night before that. 'How' was she came over to my house and—"

"You mean Valenti's house?" Max broke in. "Was Kyle there?"

"Uh...yeah," Tess answered, taken aback. "He lives there too. But she came to see me, not Kyle."

There was an unexpectedly long pause. "Go on," Max said finally.

"She offered to help me with...you," Tess continued, cringing inwardly at the memory. "She said you were going to be at the Crashdown the following night, and I should be be there too, and she suggested a book from English class, the Steinbeck we're reading because you like Steinbeck. I suggested a different Steinbeck—"

"What about 'why'?" Max interrupted. "Did she say why?"

Tess hesitated; honesty or no honesty, this was going to hurt, and for some reason, quoting Liz almost felt like betraying a confidence.

"Well?" Max demanded. "What did she say?"

"She said she was sick of 'living like this'," Tess answered reluctantly. "And that she wasn't going to be free to move on unless she got you to move on. And when I asked her why she'd help me, she said she wasn't doing it for me, she was doing it for you. She said...she said I was your future."

Max was quiet for so long that Tess was certain the conversation was over. Probably just as well; she really didn't want to get into their aborted encounter, and besides, he'd been there, so no need to rehash it. Another dog walker went by, then another. She and Nasedo had never had pets. She used to feed stray cats, but she was always afraid that if Nasedo found out—

"Did she talk to you afterward?" Max said, breaking into her thoughts. "After I'd figured out that she was behind it?"

So much for avoiding that subject. "Yes. She apologized for watching. She said she just wanted to see if it would work."

Max shifted slightly on the bench. "Why didn't you lie?"

"What?"

"When I asked you if you'd been talking to Liz. Why didn't you lie? You're a good liar. We all are," he added, as though sensing her dismay at that announcement. "We have to be. You could have lied your way out of that, and you didn't. Why not?"

"I...I'm not sure," Tess admitted. "I've wondered that myself. I think...I think I just find it really hard to lie to you."

"Glad someone does," Max whispered.

Tess said nothing, unsure of how to respond to that. "So was tonight a set-up too?" Max said bitterly. "Did she tell you what she was doing?"

"No," Tess said, deciding an honest answer to the second question would suffice.

"Kind of a coincidence that you just happened to be here right now," Max said. "She must have called you."

Tess gave a noncommittal shrug, squirming at how much all of this made her look like a tool. Liz hadn't "called her" precisely, but honesty didn't require every single detail. "So you went hunting for me," Max went on in an ominous tone.

"Yes," Tess admitted.

"Because you think you're my wife."

"Because I care about you, Max," Tess corrected. "I care about you whether or not I used to be your wife. I...I just didn't want you to be alone."

"Sure you weren't hoping I'd accept you as a replacement? Were you in on it with her?" Max went on as she flinched at the anger in his voice. "You live with Kyle. Did you help this happen?"

"I don't know what happened," Tess insisted. "You haven't told me. And what does Kyle have to do with it?"

"This was a group job, wasn't it?" Max went on, his voice rising. "You were all in on it, weren't you?"

Tess shook her head. "You're angry. I get it. But whatever Liz did, she did it without me. And yeah, part of me will always hope that you'll eventually accept me as a replacement. Part of me will always hope that we can have again what we had before. But Liz would have done whatever she did whether I was here or not, so whatever happened would have happened anyway, and you'd still be sitting here; the only difference is you'd be sitting here alone. Which isn't such a bad idea."

She stood up. "Where are you going?" Max said in alarm.

"Home," Tess answered. "You're trying to blame me for whatever Liz did, and that's not fair—I didn't do it. You're just not listening, so you can go on not listening by yourself. My being here isn't helping."

"She slept with Kyle."

Tess blinked. "What?"

"You heard me," Max said dully.

Tess gaped at him, flabbergasted. "Liz and Kyle…Liz and…Kyle? Kyle Valenti?"

"Is there another?" Max said.

Tess sank back down on the bench. She hadn't gotten so much as a whiff of this from Kyle. What was all that about lamp trimming? Or was he trimming someone else's lamp because she hadn't let him trim hers? "Are...are you sure? Maybe they were just making out, or—"

"Between the sheets?" Max said. "With their clothes off?"

"Oh," Tess said faintly. "Wow."

There followed a long, awkward silence. "Please don't go," Max said. "I...I want you to stay." His hand crept over hers.

"I really want you to stay."





~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~




My eldest is coming home from New Zealand, for good this time! He has a new job in the US, and we'll be helping him find a place to live. I'll be back with Chapter 58 on Sunday, November 20. :)
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."

keepsmiling7
Roswell Fanatic
Posts: 2278
Joined: Thu Jun 28, 2007 9:34 pm

Re: Birthright *Series* Season 2 (CC, TEEN), Chapter 57, 10/30

Post by keepsmiling7 » Mon Oct 31, 2016 9:23 am

I'm glad you had a good reunion with Misha.......she's such an outstanding author and appears to be making great progress with her recent launch.

Love the way you write Kyle......poor guy on his third milkshake......I can just see it.
And Dee with the binoculars.......she regrets her actions and had to watch the consequences.
At least Tess was honest about the set-up.........hate that the gate is open to Max and Tess now. Could you please change that???
Thanks,
Carolyn

It's nice that your NZ son is returning to the US. Just think of the wonderful visits you had while he was there.

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

Chapter 58

Post by Kathy W » Sun Nov 20, 2016 7:08 pm

^^ It's always a joy to see Misha! I'm so grateful she's willing to make the trip. Image (Not her plane, but wouldn't it be cool if it were? :mrgreen: )









CHAPTER FIFTY-EIGHT






November 18, 2000, 1:00 p.m.

Valenti Residence








"Mmph," Kyle muttered as he shambled past to the fridge.

"Mornin', sunshine," Valenti said. "Or should I say 'afternoon'?"

"What?" Kyle said, as Tess and his father gazed at him with amusement from the kitchen table. "It's not like I missed breakfast. You're both eating."

"Lunch," Tess clarified. "We're eating lunch."

Kyle looked at the clock. "Okay, so I was tired," he said peevishly, pouring a bowl of cereal. "It's Saturday, for Pete's sake. I get to sleep in on weekends."

"Past noon?" his father said.

"Yes, Dad, past noon," Kyle said.

"Rough night?" Valenti commented.

Depends, Kyle thought. What did you call fake sex with your ex-girlfriend for the purpose of discouraging her ex-boyfriend? At the very least, it was weird. "Just busy," Kyle answered.

"I heard," Tess commented knowingly.

"You heard what?" Kyle said.

"That you had a busy night," Tess shrugged.

"You 'heard' about something last night?" Valenti said. "I know news travels fast, but that's impressively fast. What were you up to, Kyle?"

" 'Up to'?" Kyle bristled. "I wasn't 'up to' anything. I was at a friend's house."

"I'll say," Tess agreed. "And I'm not surprised he's tired. I'd be exhausted."

Valenti looked back and forth from Tess, serenely eating her sandwich, to Kyle, who had broken into a cold sweat. She knows. But how could she? The only people who knew what went down last night were himself, Liz, and Max. He certainly hadn't told anyone, he couldn't imagine Liz telling anyone, and he had an even harder time imagining Max blabbing his humiliation.

"Exhausted?" Valenti repeated. "Now I'm intrigued. What exactly were you doing?"

"Ask her," Kyle retorted. "She seems to know everything. Or think she does."

"I'm asking you," Valenti said pointedly, missing Tess's small smile. "Where were you?"

"Great," Kyle sighed. "An interrogation. Seems to be the main way you and I bond. Don't you think more televised sports would be a better way to do that? Whatever," he went on when Valenti's eyebrows rose. "I was at Paulie's house."

"Hmm," Tess murmured. "Sure it wasn't a different friend?"

"Just so we're clear, have you hired a co-interrogator?" Kyle asked. "Because last time I checked, I don't owe her any explanations."

"Kyle, you can't call every question I ask you an 'interrogation'," Valenti protested.

"Even if you're not the one asking?" Kyle said.

"I'm just trying to figure out what you could have been doing that would have made the teenage news so quickly," Valenti replied. "Just tell me what you were doing at Paulie's house."

Jesus, Kyle thought furiously, ready to hurl his bowl of cereal straight at Tess. It didn't really matter how she'd found out; she had. Fortunately he had the perfect alibi. Wigged out by the bizarre start to his evening, he'd restored the balance of the universe by engaging in mindless guy stuff. "Well, Dad," he said seriously, "I have to be honest with you. I was engaged in nefarious behavior the likes of which this town has never seen before. I was doing exactly what every responsible adult in my life has told me not to do. I was tempting fate. I was endangering my future. I was running with scissors. I was—"

"Kyle!" Valenti interrupted in exasperation as Tess watched with interest, probably wondering if he was going to confess. "Spit it out!"

"Okay." Kyle paused for dramatic effect. "I was…playing video games! I admit it! I have sinned! I have fallen! I'm so ashamed! Do they have a 12-step program for that?"

"Video games?" Valenti repeated, clearly unconvinced.

"Yes, Dad, video games. No alcohol, just soda pop, and I left at 1 a.m., which is why I'm tired. Paulie's parents were there, so you can call them and check. Please do."

Valenti stared at him for a moment, knowing full well that an invitation to call a friend's parents was heavy stuff. "Video games?" he said to Tess. "Why would video games be news?"

"I just...heard something different," Tess said.

"Like what?" Kyle said.

"Yes, what did you hear?" Valenti chimed in.

"Must not have been true," Tess shrugged.

"Let me be the judge of that," Kyle said. "What were you getting at?"

"Why is everyone taking this so seriously?" Tess said. "I never accused you of anything."

"Yeah, you kinda did," Kyle said.

"You certainly insinuated that Kyle was doing something he shouldn't be," Valenti noted. "That can't be video games."

"Out with it, Harding," Kyle ordered. "Put your money where your mouth is."

The interrogation had come full circle. Tess looked from one to the other, clearly taken aback at suddenly finding herself in the hot seat. Kyle stared her down, daring her to say it, confident he could get out of it. There had only been one witness, and it would be easy to deny everything. Everyone knew Evans had been desperately trying to woo Parker back. Guys who wore sombreros and yodeled in Spanish were pretty clearly not interested in subtlety.

"I'm sorry," Tess said, conceding defeat. "People talk, and I was just...teasing. I shouldn't have done that without checking to see if it was true."

"If what was true?" Kyle pressed.

"Okay, let's drop this," Valenti said.

"Oh, now we're dropping it?" Kyle demanded. "Now that I want some explanations, all of a sudden we're dropping it?"

"She apologized," Valenti said soothingly. "I apologize also. I misunderstood, and apparently so did Tess. No harm done."

That's what you think, Kyle thought sourly. A couple of minutes later, the phone rang, and his father excused himself to answer it.

"So," Kyle said as soon as his dad was out of earshot, "you don't have the 'nads to say it out loud? That's not like you."

"So," Tess replied. "You and Liz Parker?"

"Me and Liz Parker...what?" Kyle said innocently.

"You know what," Tess said.

Kyle smiled faintly. "Still can't say it out loud? Never took you for a wimp, Harding."

"Okay, you and Liz Parker in bed," Tess said tartly.

"Who told you that?"

"Max told me that," Tess said. "He was devastated."

"I'm sure you made your best effort to comfort him," Kyle said.

"So you admit it?" Tess demanded.

"So why didn't you tell my dad?" Kyle said. "Why all the pussyfooting? Why not just spit it out and get me in loads of trouble?"

Tess set her sandwich down with a sigh. "I wasn't trying to get you in trouble. I was just yanking your chain. I didn't expect your dad to go all Sherlock Holmes on you."

"You mean on you," Kyle corrected. "You seemed to be having a grand old time when he was doing it to me, and oh, by the way, what the hell did you expect? He's a sheriff, for God's sake!"

"I know," Tess said. "It's just that...you and Liz? What's up with that?"

"What's up with what?" Kyle said. "Liz and I dated a couple of summers ago. Before she fell in love with Max Evans."

"I know. It just seems a little odd that you'd fall into bed with her only days after going on about trimming your lamp," Tess said.

"I wasn't expecting it," Kyle said, privately noting that was a true statement. "It just...happened."

"Oh. So it was pity sex?"

"What's your problem?" Kyle retorted. "This means Evans is up for grabs. I know you were pissed at him a few days ago, but that's what you really want, right? He's the booby prize."

"Max isn't a 'prize'," Tess said disapprovingly. "He's a person, and he's hurt."

"Yeah? Well, guess what?" Kyle said. "Liz is a person, and she's hurt. Sounds like they're even."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Tess demanded.

"It means that Liz has been pretty darned clear about wanting out," Kyle said. "Evans didn't listen. His bad."

His father came back into the room. "So," he said cheerfully, oblivious to the glares on their faces, "what are we talking about now?"






********************************************************






Parker Residence







"Liz?" Nancy called. "I brought you some soup. May I come in?"

Buried deep in the bedcovers, Liz muttered something incomprehensible. The bedroom door cracked open.

"Was that a 'yes'?"

"Mmpf."

"I'll take that as a 'yes'," Nancy decided, slipping inside with a tray, which she placed on the desk. "Still feeling awful, sweetie?" she murmured, stroking Liz's hair, or what she could see of it. "Must be that bug that's going around. You stay in bed if it helps, but I want you to eat something. If you can't even get soup down, you need to see a doctor."

"Yes, Mom," Liz said tonelessly.

Her mother left. After her footsteps had faded away, Liz pushed herself to a sitting position for the first time since climbing into bed last night and burying herself under the covers to shut out a world which had suddenly become foreign and painful. She and Max had changed the future. This was a brand new world, one where that future version of Max no longer existed, had winked out of existence. This was her first look at that new future which had cost her so much. So what did this new world look like?

Pretty much like the old one.

Her legs like lead, Liz climbed out of bed and shambled to the window. Her balcony looked the same, the street below looked the same, everything looked the same, but...but everything was different. This was a world where Max thought she'd betrayed him, and he was right, although not in the way he thought. That she hadn't had a choice did nothing to make her feel better. That she might have averted an alien invasion and the deaths of everyone she held dear didn't either. Maybe it should have, but it didn't. She just hurt too much for hypothetical future improvements to mean much right now. She'd dodged her mom by feigning illness, but truthfully there was little feigning going on. She did feel sick, sick at heart, sick of being the catalyst for the planet's future destruction. She'd walked away from Max that day in the desert, feeling suddenly like a fifth wheel, like she didn't belong, like they couldn't be together, and just when she'd started to consider the notion that maybe she was wrong, it turned out she'd been right. It stank, and no amount of sleeping in or chicken soup was going to change that. It didn't help that it was all so unbelievable, so scientifically impossible, so…

Squatting down beside her dresser, Liz opened the bottom drawer and dug around beneath her sweaters. A couple of days ago, she'd borrowed one of those digital cameras from Alex, a massive, heavy thing which undoubtedly cost more than she could ever afford, but which had the advantage of not using film which needed to be developed and which others would see. Claiming she needed it for a school project, she'd asked for a tutorial on how to use it, and Alex had been happy to oblige. She'd practiced in her bedroom, marveling at the way pictures just showed up immediately on the little screen on the back, until the moment had come when Future Max wasn't paying attention. Now she turned the camera on and pressed the little arrow which moved her through the pictures, cycling through the test pictures she'd taken of her room, her balcony, the street below, and wondering if the picture she took of him was still on here. Did an image of a man from the future still exist even after that future had been erased? For someone who hadn't thought time travel possible, it was a pertinent question.

And now an answered one. With a sob, Liz rocked back onto her heels as Future Max appeared on the little screen, all long hair and leather. She'd taken several—she'd accidentally discovered that you could do that with these things, just hold the button down and let the camera click away—and now they slid by one by one, confirming that this was no dream, that he'd actually been here, that the nightmare had really happened. But if he didn't exist any more, why were his photographs untouched? Because he existed then, Liz decided, grasping at scientific straws in her misery. Because at the point these pictures had been taken, they had not yet changed the future. If he had brought back a photograph from his future, perhaps that would have disappeared along with him when that future disappeared, but these were photos from a past which remained unchanged.

They were also photos which could never be seen by anyone else. Punching the buttons like Alex had taught her, Liz started to delete them...and hesitated. Should she find a way to save them? Just to prove to herself it had happened, not for sentimental value. This wasn't her Max—this was a Max shaped by war and loss and desperation. The one silver lining in this vast cloud was that maybe, just maybe, her Max would be able to lead a better life. Would it ever be safe to tell him that he was leading that better life because of her? If 2014 arrived with no ships in the sky, would it be safe to tell him then? Could they be together then? Because she'd wait those 14 years if that meant she and Max could be together without the world falling down around them. Assuming he was still speaking to her, that is, which he might not be.

Her phone buzzed. Gingerly she picked it up, worried it might be Max; she'd have to face him eventually, but not today. Maria would be easier because she was too wrapped up in her squabbles with Michael to register that something was weird with Liz. But it wasn't Max or Maria calling; it was the one person she could talk to, the one person who knew the truth of what had happened, if not the why.

"Kyle!" Liz said in relief. "It's you. I was afraid…"

"It was Max?" Kyle finished. "No, I can safely assure you I am not Max Evans. Thank God for small favors."

"I didn't know you were religious," Liz said, summoning a shred of irony. "Does the Buddha stuff make you religious?"

"Good point. I should have said, 'Thank Buddha for small favors'."

"Doesn't have the same ring to it," Liz noted.

"Speak for yourself. You okay?"

Liz hesitated. "No," she admitted, "but I will be. I just need some time."

"Well, you've got all weekend to hibernate before school on Monday," Kyle said. "And when we get there, I want you to know I wasn't the one who let the cat out of the bag."

"What...what cat?"

There came a pause. "Tess knows," Kyle said finally. "About you and me...in bed."

Liz sat up straight. "What? Are you sure?"

"Oh, yeah," Kyle said darkly. "She yanked my chain for a good ten minutes."

"Why would she do that?" Liz said. "Why would she care?"

There came an even longer pause. "We...kinda...had a moment," Kyle said, sounding supremely uncomfortable.

Liz blinked. "A 'moment'? What kind of 'moment'? Did you sleep with her?"

"No!" Kyle said quickly. "No, I...we just...we bonded over absent mothers. And she was all pissed off at Evans, and she's really hot when she's pissed, and I…we just kind of...connected. Not that kind of connecting," he added hurriedly, as though sensing her raised eyebrows. "It might have gone in that direction, but it didn't."

"But now she thinks I'm trying to steal every single guy she's interested in," Liz said wearily.

"Something like that," Kyle agreed. "But now she might get Max, right? That's what she wanted, right?"

"I guess so," Liz said. "I just can't figure out how she knew. I mean, I told her to be here last night, that she'd have another chance with Max, but I didn't tell her why. Was she hiding on the balcony, or looking in the window?"

"No and no," Kyle said. "Max told her."

Liz's mouth fell open. "Max? Max...told her? He told her we slept together? I mean, that he thinks we slept together?"

"That's what she said," Kyle answered. "She claims she'll keep her mouth shut, and maybe she will. But if she doesn't, I wanted you to have a heads up. And to know it wasn't me."

"This affects you, too," Liz said dully. "I'm sorry, Kyle. I didn't see this coming."

"Don't worry about me," Kyle said gently. "I'm a guy—this kind of news can only help my reputation. It doesn't work the same way for girls. Which sucks and is totally unfair, but that's the way it is."

"Yeah," Liz said faintly. "Right. Thanks, Kyle. Bye."

Incredible, Liz thought, leaning against the dresser, stunned. Never in a million years would she have expected Max to spill the beans that quickly, and certainly not to Tess. Isabel, maybe, since she was his sister, but Tess? Here she was, all torn up about how hurt he must be, and he was out there blabbing to Tess, of all people. Granted he didn't realize she hadn't really slept with Kyle, but still...telling was just uncool. It was unchivalrous. No, it was worse—it was downright mean. It was something she'd never seen Max be.

Her fingers shaking, Liz started deleting the pictures of Future Max one by one, her finger stabbing the button so hard, it didn't always take. Maybe this was all for the best. Maybe Max really had been ready to move on and just couldn't bring himself to admit it. Regardless, there was no way she going to spend her weekend pining while Max was out there blabbing. It really was officially over, and she felt a part of her she'd been reluctant to acknowledge heave a sigh of relief.

Time to move on.






********************************************************






Proctor Residence







"Ow. OwOwOw!" Courtney exclaimed under her breath, wincing as the gauze moved from one cut to another.

"I'm sorry," her tormenter said gently. "I'm trying to be careful, but there are so many cuts, and I'm sure they all sting."

"Yeah, they did a great job of making sure we felt pain," Courtney said wearily as morning sun poured in the window of the guest room in Dee's house. It was a beautiful day outside, but she wasn't feeling it. It had been hard to sleep last night even though they'd treated her cuts; any position she'd assumed hurt, and turning over in bed hurt like hell. "What did you say your name was, again?"

"Yvonne," answered the white-haired old lady currently dabbing at her sliced-n-diced husk "Although I've gone by an alias for most of my adult life."

"You and me both," Courtney said. "Dee said you were a doctor?"

"Yes," Yvonne answered, "although I started as a nurse at the Army base nearby."

Courtney twisted around; Dee had told her she'd be safe with this woman, but hadn't elaborated. "A nurse? So you're the one she told me about, the one who…"

"Was assigned to Jaddo," Yvonne finished. "He and I were daily companions for nearly 3 years."

"Three years?" Courtney exclaimed. "And you're still sane? How'd you manage that?"

"It wasn't easy," Yvonne allowed, "but it was harder for Jaddo. I've often wondered if his being so difficult wasn't a result of his captivity."

"I'm sure it didn't help, but trust me, he was an asshole long before that," Courtney assured her. "So how long have you known the Warders? Must be from the beginning, or close to it."

"I was stationed at the base when the ship crashed," Yvonne said. "I knew Jaddo and Brivari, of course, and one of the Warders who died. I met Malik, and Marana, and—"

"Whoa," Courtney said, holding up a sore hand. "Name-dropping! I thought Dee was the only one who knew the other two."

"Urza survived long enough to talk to," Yvonne answered. "He died shortly after the ship was discovered."

" 'Talk to'?" Courtney said in disbelief. "Nobody 'meets' Warders where I come from. Nobody 'talks to' Warders. Here, everybody chats them up like they're next door neighbors."

"We don't fear them the way you do," Yvonne noted. "And they reached out to us in ways I'm sure they don't on Antar because they needed our help."

"Mmm," Courtney murmured, wincing as the gauze continued its stinging march and surprisingly startled to hear the name of her planet spoken out loud by a comparative stranger. "So what was Urza like?"

"Urza...was a sweetheart," Yvonne finished softly.

"A 'sweetheart'?" Courtney echoed. "Okay, 'Warder' and 'sweetheart' do not belong in the same sentence. Warders are guard dogs. Nasty guard dogs. The kind you don't pet, or you'll lose a hand. Only one, if you're lucky."

Yvonne smiled faintly. "This one wasn't. Granted, I only met him as he lay dying. I was surprised that he treated me so kindly even though I was a different species. We certainly didn't do the same for him."

"Sounds like you did," Courtney said.

"I tried," Yvonne said. "But I was hardly in a position of power. Valeris was so badly wounded that he couldn't have been saved, but Urza they could have brought back with healing stones. I stalled the autopsy as long as I could, but…"

Her voice trailed off, the memory clearly still painful. "So why the alias?" Courtney asked, changing the subject. "Were my people chasing you?"

"Goodness, no," Yvonne said. "My people were. I won't bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that I've been 'Marie Johnson' for most of my adult life. They caught up with me last spring when Max was taken. The Special Unit took me too."

"You mean they're still hunting you after all these years?"

"Powerful men don't like being thwarted," Yvonne noted. "But I've decided to go back to 'Yvonne'. Maybe I'll keep the 'Johnson', but it's time I took my own name back."

"What if they find you again?" Courtney said.

Yvonne shook her head. "I'm an old woman now. I don't have much time left. At this point, there's little they can take from me that I haven't already lost. And frankly, I'm tired of it."

"You and me both," Courtney said. "Husks have a lifespan, and mine doesn't have much time left."

"I'm afraid I'm not familiar with husks," Yvonne said. "It's an amazing reproduction of a human exterior, but it appears quite fragile. These cuts are barely healing." She dropped the gauze pad in a bowl of water, which promptly stained pink. "That's the best I can do for the moment. That should keep the wounds from getting infected, but I'm afraid it won't make you more comfortable. I'm sorry."

"All these cuts would've been gone by now back when it was young," Courtney said sadly, grateful the dabbing and stinging was over. "My husk is so old, it's not healing the way it used to. It might not heal at all."

"I'm sure Dee will be back soon," Yvonne said. "She's just waiting for Brivari to come home."

Courtney shook her head. "What makes you think he's gonna run right over here with a healing stone? He hates me. Treaties and treason, and all that."

"He'll come around," Yvonne said with a confidence Courtney did not share. "Dee also said she managed to get some of your things from your house, and that it didn't look like anyone had been there."

"Yet," Courtney amended. "What's taking them so long? I thought they would have ransacked the place by now."

"I imagine we're all a bit preoccupied at the moment," Yvonne said, gathering up her first aid supplies. "Try to get some rest. You look exhausted."

Tell me about it, Courtney thought sadly as she gazed into the mirror, the cuts from the broken window at Rath's place redder and angrier in daylight. Her poor sleep last night wasn't only because of her injuries. She'd replayed that scene with Rath over and over in her mind, the look in his eyes, the unfocused blast of power that could have blown her to smithereens. What was she going to do now? Where was she going to go? She couldn't stay with Dee forever; the hybrids came around on a regular basis. It wasn't a good idea to stay anywhere in Roswell, but if her husk failed, it kind of wouldn't matter where she was…

"Let me know when you're through feeling sorry for yourself."

Courtney whirled around to find Brivari in the room's one chair, leafing through a magazine Dee had left for her. "Where did…? How did…? Never mind," she finished, having backed against the dresser. "Where's Dee?"

"Most likely at my house, waiting for me," Brivari answered. "She'll have a long wait. I'm not going back there."

"Why not?" Courtney asked, curious in spite of herself.

"None of your business. I gather from the 3 dozen messages she left me that you got yourself into trouble. Although I don't need messages to tell me that," he added, eyeballing her wounds.

"Oh, go ahead," Courtney said crossly. "Tell me how stupid I was, and what a traitor, and—"

"Don't put words in my mouth," Brivari interrupted sharply. "If you can mange to stop yapping for a minute, I'll attempt a repair. Sit."

Courtney bit back a retort and sank onto the bed. She'd assumed Brivari would refuse to help her, and further assumed his presence meant assassination, not assistance, so she'd been prepared to give him a piece of her mind, because why not? If she was dead anyway, she may as well go down fighting.

But it appeared she wasn't. Brivari produced a healing stone, and moments later she felt the soft buzzing sensation which indicated it was working, albeit slowly. Superficial wounds like hers should have disappeared within seconds, but the stinging and soreness lessened only gradually before finally fading away. Ten interminable minutes later, she looked into the mirror and found all of the cuts gone.

"Thank you," she said awkwardly.

"You're welcome," Brivari said. "Now get on the horn and tell your Second I'll be there soon."

Courtney just barely caught her phone, which Brivari had retrieved from the table and tossed to her. "Why?" she asked warily.

"So they don't lose their marbles like they always do when I show up," Brivari said irritably. "We agreed you'd call first, remember? If Nathaniel has fair warning, we can dispense with the usual drama my arrival induces."

"No, I meant why are you going there? What business do you have with the Resistance?"

"Based on what Zan told me, my previous plans to house your people when their husks fail won't work," Brivari answered. "With them all in one place, they made a convenient target when the invasion arrived. I mean to change that."

Courtney's heart leaped in her chest. She'd figured Brivari had forgotten all about his promise to keep them alive past their husks' sell-by date, either that or he wasn't interested because he was so angry with her. "So...you believe him. You believe what he said about the future."

"I believe that's what happened in his particular rendition of the future," Brivari said. "The details he gave were convincing. And if it happened once, it could happen again."

"But he changed the future," Courtney said.

"He changed one element of the future," Brivari corrected, "and an inconsequential one in my opinion. What happened in his timeline may still happen, even it occurs later...or sooner."

Courtney hesitated before deciding she had nothing to lose by resurrecting a sore subject. "Does this mean you're going to support the treaty?'

"I haven't decided," Brivari answered.

"Why not?" Courtney said. "He thought the invasion happened because you didn't support it. You said you believed him. Why prepare for an invasion when you can just support the treaty and avoid it altogether?"

"Do you really think it's that simple?" Brivari said. "Let me tell you something—politics is never that simple. I may believe what Zan said happened in his future, but that doesn't mean I agree with his assessment as to why it happened. He's even less experienced than you are, and that's saying something."

"It doesn't take a boatload of experience to know that you're being dangerously short-sighted," Courtney retorted. "People who are talking aren't fighting. An armistice is required for negotiations to—"

"Good God, you're naive," Brivari broke in impatiently. "Do you really think everyone will honor that armistice? And what happens when the talks break down and fighting resumes?"

Courtney bristled at the scorn in his voice, the utter dismissiveness in his tone. " 'If'," she corrected hotly. "If the talks break down, and we'll never know unless we try. A better question would be, what happens if you never try to talk in the first place? The war just goes on forever, that's what!"

"No, you make sure you win the war," Brivari argued. "You seem to think negotiation is the only way to end it. Another way to end it is to go back and take what's ours."

"And when, exactly, do we do that?" Courtney demanded. "Zan is still a child. It'll be years before he's ready, and even then, it'll be a massive effort with massive casualties to win that way, assuming we can, and while we're waiting to even try, the war just goes on. Is that what you want? Does war make you feel big and powerful and important?"

Brivari gave her a hard stare. "Are you quite certain you want to have this conversation?"

"No," Courtney said acidly, "I'm not certain, I'm positive. I don't have much time left, Brivari. You must have noticed how long it took to heal me. Those cuts should have healed by themselves; a healing stone should have made them vanish in seconds. You worked for ten minutes. Ten minutes. I don't have long to live, and there's no spare husk waiting for me, so you're looking at a woman who has nothing to lose." She tossed her phone back to him. "Support that treaty, or I don't call Nathaniel."

Brivari shook his head in disgust. "You've got to be kidding."

"You wish," Courtney retorted. "I don't announce your arrival just to avoid 'drama'. If you show up without my blessing, they'll assume you're the enemy. Yeah, that's right," she went on when he gave her a penetrating stare. "I'm not so 'naive' that I didn't prepare for the possibility that you and I would wind up enemies. Go there alone, and they will take you down."

Brivari gave a snort of derision. "And themselves with me?"

"There are way more of them then there are of you," Courtney said grimly. "There's only one of you now, remember? I was recently reminded of why the expression 'death by a thousand cuts' has survived. Sure, a bunch of them will die, but so what? They're dying anyway. Hell, you built them a safe house in that other timeline, and they all died anyway!"

"Which is precisely what I'm trying to prevent," Brivari said in exasperation. "Explain to me how I became the enemy here?"

"By refusing to support the treaty!" Courtney exclaimed. "It doesn't matter what's in the first draft, for Christ's sake! It'll go through so many drafts by the time it's done that it may wind up completely different. It'll take so long to get there that Zan will not only have reached adulthood, he may be halfway through it. The point is that it will give everyone something else to do, something else to focus on that doesn't involve killing each other."

"Until it doesn't," Brivari said impatiently. "Until it falls apart and we're right back to square one!"

"What makes you think it's doomed to fall apart?" Courtney demanded. "It may not, and even if it does, it may take years for that to happen. In the meantime everyone can breathe a little easier, feel safer, start actually living again. The economy will improve, enough so that maybe, just maybe, those in power will think twice about scuttling the negotiations and throwing everyone back into the dark ages. The longer things are better, the more pressure there will be to make them stay that way."

"This is Larak talking," Brivari said. "You've both missed the part where making concessions make you look weak, and looking weak means you get trampled. Compromise isn't always the way forward."

"So what do we do, then, huh?" Courtney said angrily. "Nothing? Because we now know that worked out so well for us the first time. You know, this is what Rath complains about with Zan, and I'm beginning to see his point. Here I thought you and Zan were supposed to be so different, but it turns out you're more alike than you realize. Or want to be."

"We have no idea if this new future will follow the same path," Brivari said. "What Zan told us is just one of many paths our lives can take."

"I hear he changed your path," Courtney said. "Is that what this is all about? You had what you wanted, and now you don't?"

The first barb had slid past, but this one didn't. Brivari's features hardened, emphasizing just how much she was playing with fire. It was a low blow, perhaps, but she had to do something to get his attention. There may not be another chance.

"Don't patronize me," Brivari said furiously. "While you're all in a lather about me not doing your bidding, I've been planning the safe house for the Resistance and leading Nicholas astray. Do you think it's mere coincidence that he hasn't descended on Roswell to look for Vanessa? I sent him on a treasure hunt as long as I could, making him think she's on the run. That I chose to grieve at the same time is not something I owe anyone an apology for."

"Stop changing the subject," Courtney retorted. "Support the treaty, or lose the Resistance."

"And what if I decide that's an acceptable loss?" Brivari demanded.

"You won't," Courtney said. "We're huge on Antar. You need us. And if word gets out that you let our Earthside contingent die because of a stupid argument over a peace treaty, you can kiss your dream of armed conquest goodbye because Zan won't have enough people behind him to staff the Crashdown on a slow night."

Brivari made a sound of pure fury as Courtney stood her ground. Twenty minutes ago she'd been injured and doubtful she'd ever recover. Now she'd not only recovered, she had the King's Warder over a barrel. She, Larak, and Dee had waited, pleaded, reasoned, argued, and cajoled. The King himself had appeared from the future validating their claims that the treaty was the way to go. None of it had worked. Time to throw some elbows.

"Fine," Brivari said finally, but no less angrily. "You can have your stupid treaty, if—if—you give me something in return."

They stared each other down in silence as history repeated itself; this was the second time a member of her family had tried to make a deal with a Royal Warder and found payment due. In 1959 it had been her father and Jaddo, who had handed over 2 sets of pods for safekeeping in exchange for her hand in marriage to the King's Second. Now it was her and Brivari, with a price exacted for his support of the treaty Jaddo made. My turn, Papa, Courtney thought as she looked Brivari straight in the eye.

"You want something? Name it."






********************************************************






Copper Summit, Arizona







Greer stepped into the doorway and coughed quietly. Nicholas was looking out the window, his back to him. He did not turn around.

"Well? Is it her?"

"Yes, sir," Greer said regretfully. "The remains were identified as Vanessa's."

There was a long pause. "And where did they come from?" Nicholas said finally.

"The box was postmarked Washington, D.C.," Greer answered, "and there was...a note."

A hand reached back. Greer placed the small card which had arrived in the box with Vanessa's remains into Nicholas' hand.




My condolences,


Brivari






"Was there anything else?" Nicholas said stiffly.

"No, sir," Greer answered, relieved that his master wasn't screaming—yet. "I would imagine she tried to make a deal with the Warders, and ran when it didn't take. When they caught up with her—"

"Shut up," Nicholas said.

Greer obediently fell silent. No one said anything for what seemed like a very long time.

"Right," Nicholas said suddenly. "We'll give her a funeral befitting an elected representative. And get me a plane ticket to New York City."

Greer blinked. "New York City? Why?"

"You know why," Nicholas said grimly. "They want a treaty? I'll give them a treaty that will make them wish they'd never raised the subject. And we'll need a puppet king to rubber stamp it."





~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



We're in the midst of moving our oldest to his new house, so I'll be back with Chapter 59 on Sunday, December 11. :)
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."

keepsmiling7
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Re: Birthright *Series* Season 2 (CC, TEEN), Chapter 58, 11/20

Post by keepsmiling7 » Sun Nov 20, 2016 8:07 pm

Happy Thanksgiving to all and thanks for the new part.
Tess was really good yanking Kyle's chain. They were so cute together, too bad the show went in another direction.
It's a shame Liz deleted the pictures of FM.......bet she regrets that later.
Carolyn

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

Re: Birthright *Series* Season 2 (CC, TEEN), Chapter 58, 11/20

Post by Kathy W » Sun Dec 11, 2016 8:19 pm

Sorry, everyone, but I'm not going to make it today. We're still in the midst of helping our son move, and we've been back and forth so much, I'm not even sure what state I'm in. Image But we're nearly done, and I want to get another chapter in before Christmas, so wherever I am, I'll post the next chapter next Sunday, December 18.

See you next 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
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Joined: Thu Oct 31, 2002 5:06 am

Chapter 59

Post by Kathy W » Sun Dec 18, 2016 7:37 pm

keepsmiling7 wrote:It's a shame Liz deleted the pictures of FM.......bet she regrets that later.
I know! They would have been so useful when she eventually tells Max what happened. Maybe there's a way to retrieve them? :wink:








CHAPTER FIFTY-NINE






November 20, 2000, 7:00 a.m.

Crashdown Cafe






With a roar which frightened a cafe customer, Michael Guerin skidded his bike to a stop alongside the curb outside the Crashdown. His head was still churning with what he'd learned about Courtney, with how close she'd been to them, to him in particular; to have an enemy that close and that invisible was frightening. Initially shaken, he'd phoned Max over and over, getting the answering machine each time and finally visiting his house only to find the family gone. He'd considered going to Tess, but decided this was something they should all hear. Ultimately he'd kept it to himself, just a tiny bit happy to have not only discovered something everyone else had missed, but to have suspected it in the first place. His instincts had been sound; he'd felt there was something off about that chick, and it turned out he'd been right. He didn't get to be right very often, so he planned to milk this for all it was worth, especially with Maria and wait 'n see Max. He'd spent the weekend periodically watching Courtney's house, even knocking on her neighbors' doors this morning only to find they hadn't seen her. She had a morning shift at the Crashdown, so this was his next stop.

"You on the schedule?" Mr. Parker called when he saw him.

"Nope. Looking for Courtney," Michael answered.

"Oh, didn't you hear?" Mr. Parker asked. "Something happened to her mom. She had to go home."

"Her mom," Michael repeated doubtfully. "Convenient."

"What?"

"I mean, that's too bad," Michael amended hastily. "So when's she going to be back?"

"She isn't," Mr. Parker said sadly. "She's apparently going to move in with her mom to take care of her. I just lost the best hash slinger I've ever had, and a piece of history to boot."

"Mmm," Michael murmured, wondering just how much steam would escape Maria's ears if she heard Courtney crowned World's Greatest Hash Slinger. "Wait—history? What do you mean?"

"Courtney's grandmother worked here back in the 50's," Jeff explained. "It was called 'Parker's' back then, and the diner section was new; we started as just a bar. It was so cool to have that family connection. She knew all about the place, the buttons the staff used to wear, everything."

"How do you know this?" Michael asked.

"Courtney told me," Mr. Parker said. "I pulled out the photo albums, and we found a picture of her grandmother. God, she was a dead ringer for her."

"You have a picture of Courtney's grandmother?" Michael said. "Can I see it?"

"Sure!" Mr. Parker said, always eager to share Crashdown history. Michael followed him into his office and waited with what he hoped resembled patience as Mr. Parker ran a hand over a seemingly endless row of photo albums. "1959," he murmured. "Summer. Here we are. Let's see...right here. Isn't the resemblance amazing?"

Sure is, Michael thought, gazing at a photograph of...Courtney. The hair was different, the uniform old-fashioned, the cars visible outside the front window even more so, but that was no grandmother—that was Courtney, here in Roswell in 1959. Their ship had crashed in 1947. It fit.

"Don't they look like twins?" Mr. Parker was saying. "Talk about a family resemblance."

"I see what you mean," Michael said. "Do you mind if I borrow this?"

"Uh...hmm," Mr. Parker said . "These are really precious to me, Michael. It's not just diner history, it's family history."

"Right," Michael agreed. "How about a photocopy?"

Fifteen minutes later, Michael parked outside the high school with a picture of Courtney's "grandmother" in his pocket. Students were pouring into the school, and he was on his way to Max's locker when he spied Maria. Time for her to eat some crow.

"Hey."

"Whatever, dude," Maria said dismissively.

"No, I have something to tell you," Michael insisted.

"I'm not interested," Maria declared.

"Hey, it's about Courtney," Michael protested.

"I am so not interested," Maria clarified.

"Hey, will you just listen to me?" Michael demanded.

Maria slammed her locker door. "You listen to me. She made a play for you, and you went for it. So, what, now she's screwed you over and you've come to realize she's a cheap, manipulative tramp? Well, this is not news to me."

Michael listened in stony silence until she'd finished spewing. "She's an alien," he said flatly. "A skin like Whitaker."

Maria stared at him in astonishment for a moment. "Oh, Michael," she said sadly. "Are you sure?"

"Positive. This answers, like, a million questions all at once," Michael said. "Why Whitaker knew her. Why she showed up when she did. Why she seemed to know so much about us. Why she had a cupboard full of lotion."

"Why she had your picture in her locker," Maria added. "God, she was close to us for months."

"We could have been killed," Michael said smugly, delighted she was displaying contrition.

"God knows I wanted to kill her often enough," Maria remarked. "Have you told Max?"

"On my way," Michael said. "I couldn't reach him all weekend."

"Huh. That's weird," Maria said. "I wonder…"

"What?"

Maria shook her head. "Nothing. Just something Liz said about not wanting to see Max, but...it's a leap. Never mind." She paused, giving him a curious look. "What are you waiting for? Go find Max."

"I'm waiting for an apology," Michael said.

"An apology?"

"Yes, Maria, an apology. You know, the kind of apology you're always demanding from me? Well, now it's your turn."

Maria stared at him uncomprehendingly. "You think I owe you an apology? What the hell for?"

"What for?" Michael echoed. "Because I was right, that's what for! I told you there was something wrong about Courtney, and I was right. She's an alien!"

"One more thing on the long list of things wrong with her," Maria said. "I still don't see why you think I owe you an apology."

"For getting on my case about investigating her!" Michael said in exasperation. "I had to get close to her so I could find out what her deal was."

"God knows you got close," Maria said dryly.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Michael demanded.

"It means I owe you nothing," Maria said firmly. "You weren't just 'investigating' her, or whatever the new euphemism for screwing is. You liked it. You enjoyed it. She came on to you, and you got off on it."

"I didn't screw her," Michael protested. "And it wouldn't have been very believable if I'd acted like I didn't enjoy it. The whole point was for her to believe it so it would work."

"Yeah, well, I'm nominating you for an Oscar, buddy boy, because you not only made her believe it, you made me believe it," Maria said. "And why not? It wasn't fake. You really were enjoying it."

"It's kinda hard to enjoy anything while you're looking over her shoulder to see if she brought a hit squad with her," Michael said crossly. "I was investigating her—"

"God, I am so tired of that word," Maria groaned.

"—because I thought she was suspicious," Michael went on, ignoring her. "And I was right. I was right!"

"Yes, you were right," Maria conceded. "Congratulations, Michael! Great job! But none of that entitles you to an apology. Let me ask you this—where were you both, exactly, when you made this momentous, world-changing discovery?"

"At my apartment," Michael said promptly, mere seconds before Maria's raised eyebrows alerted him to the fact that there was such a thing as too much honesty. "Hey, I didn't invite her! She came to me."

"Oh, I'm sure she did," Maria said sourly.

"The place is a mess," Michael went on. "When she realized I'd figured her out, she jumped out the window and it broke into a million pieces. You should have seen me trying to get it all back together."

"And what exactly were you doing with her when you 'figured her out'?"

"Will you stay on the subject just for once?" Michael said hotly. "I just told you that someone we've been working with for months is an enemy alien, and all you can think about is your stupid pride. We could have been killed!"

"You were making out," Maria said accusingly. "You were making out with her! And you have the gall to stand here and tell me I should apologize?"

"I was investigating—"

"Don't ever use that word in my presence again," Maria ordered. "I could have 'investigated' her without making out with her. There are lots of ways to 'investigate' someone that don't involve shoving your tongue down their throat."

"Not ways that work," Michael retorted. "My way worked. If your way was so great, how come I'm the one who found out she was an alien?"

"So you did shove your tongue down her throat?" Maria said.

"So you don't care if I get killed?" Michael said. "Good to know."

"Wait," Maria said as he turned away. "Michael...wait!" He turned back, folding his arms as she leaned against her locker, her expression softening. "Of course I care if you get killed. I love you."

"Not to mention that only you get to kill me," Michael said.

"That too. Look...I'm sorry—"

"Finally," Michael muttered. "Took long enough."

"—she turned out to be...what she is," Maria finished. "But I'm not sorry for being mad at you. You can't expect me to approve of the way you did it. You hurt my feelings."

"And you can't expect me to worry about your feelings when I'm going after a possible enemy," Michael said. "I thought you'd say, 'Anything, Michael, anything to figure out what she's really up to'."

"Anything but that," Maria admitted. "You were mine."

"The point you're not getting is that I never stopped being yours," Michael said.

Maria took his hand. "Then maybe we just agree to disagree on your methods. Can we do that?"

Michael shook his head. "Are you kidding? Disagreeing seems to be what we're best at."

"At least we're good at something," Maria said. "Let's go find Max."

"If we're agreeing to disagree," Michael said as they started down the hallway, "does this mean you'll stop yanking my chain about it?"

Maria smiled broadly as she slipped her arm into his. "Not a chance, Mikey G."






*********************************************************






The girl's books crashed to the ground. Max stared at them stupidly for a moment before looking up to find a collection of expressions ranging from startled to amused to annoyed. "Uh...sorry," he mumbled, squatting down and gathering the books into an unruly pile. "Didn't see you there."

"Obviously," someone muttered.

"That's okay," the girl said. "Are you all right?"

"Just tired," Max said. "I was...up all night."

"Evans pulls all-nighters?" one of the group tittered. "Who knew?"

"Are you sure you're all right?" book girl asked with concern.

"Yeah," Max answered. "I'm sure."

No, he amended silently as he left the group of kids shaking their heads and whispering. That was the third person he'd bumped into this morning, something of a record, although the first two hadn't resulted in spillage. Ever since Friday night he'd been walking around in a literal daze, bumping into walls, dropping things, not hearing people talking to him. His father hadn't really noticed. Isabel hadn't either. His mother had, making a comment about "that girl" under her breath because, rightly or wrongly, she attributed anything less than stellar in his life to Liz. Both the comment and the fact that she was right this time should have infuriated him, but didn't, because he was...numb. He felt like he was walking through a dark tunnel which blocked out all sight, all sound, all feeling. He was a walking vial of Novocaine. He felt nothing, because what he'd felt when he'd looked through Liz's window had been so severe, so breathtaking, such a punch to the gut that it had rendered him incapable of feeling much of anything, even when bumping into a classmate and knocking her books to the floor. He went through the motions, apologizing and so forth, but he didn't really mean it. To be sorry, one had to be able to feel. He couldn't.

"There you are," a disapproving voice said as he opened his locker. "Where the hell have you been?"

Correction, Max thought wearily as Michael loomed beside him, all self-righteous indignation: He could feel annoyance. A bit of an unwelcome light at the end of the tunnel, but a light all the same.

"On earth," Max answered. "You?"

"Funny," Michael said darkly. "I called you, like, a million times. Why didn't you pick up?"

"I was busy," Max said.

"All weekend?"

"By the time I got unbusy, I noticed you'd stopped calling," Max said. "Figured it couldn't have been too important if you stopped calling."

"Oh, you think?" Michael demanded. "That has to qualify as one of the biggest mistakes of the new millennium."

"I see you haven't lost your talent for drama," Max said.

"You want drama?" Michael said. "Then you should have picked up your phone. I even went over to your house, but you were gone."

"Yeah, people do that on weekends," Max said crossly. "They go out with friends, with their family. They don't just stay home waiting for you to show up and start bitching."

"You know what? Just forget it," Michael said sourly. "I don't need one more conversation to go south this morning. If you can fit it into your busy social schedule, meet me in the Home Ec room after first period. Maria will be there, and Isabel and Tess. Somebody will be interested, even if you're not."

"Interested in what?" Max asked warily. If Michael was calling meetings during a school day, it must be at least semi-important.

"Oh, now you wanna know?" Michael said. "Can't stand not being the first to know something? Then you should have picked up your phone, Maxwell."

"Why?" Max demanded. "I'm here now, and you're still not telling me what's so all-fired important. Seems bitching at me for not jumping whenever you snap your fingers is more important to you because, so far, that's all you've done."

Michael stared at him for a moment. "This is about Liz, isn't it?"

"What?" Max exclaimed. "How did Liz get dragged into your latest temper tantrum?"

"It's gotta be Liz," Michael declared. "Liz is the only thing that makes you both surly and stupid."

"You're pretty good at both yourself," Max retorted.

"So what was it this time?" Michael said, ignoring him. "Another serenade? Maybe a Shakespearean soliloquy in the grocery store? A love letter nailed to the Crashdown's door with a sword? It had to be public because the whole point was to embarrass her into going back to you, wasn't it?"

Max slammed his locker door. "What the hell are you talking about?"

"You," Michael said, "and your pathetic attempts to ignore the fact that the girl has made herself really clear. She doesn't want to be with you any more."

"Just like you didn't want to be with Maria any more?" Max said. "Until you did, that is."

"Don't change the subject," Michael said. "Liz has been very consistent, so you're trying to use public opinion to change her mind."

"That's crazy," Max protested.

"Is it?" Michael said. "Then why all the public stunts? Why get the whole school, hell, the whole town talking about it? Why not do this stuff in private? Because private's not good enough, that's why. You want everyone to 'ooh' and 'aah' over it, and pressure her into doing what you want."

"I don't have to listen to this," Max muttered.

"No, you don't," Michael agreed. "But while you're sticking your fingers in your ears, look at this."

Max stopped short as Michael thrust something in his face. "What's this?"

"A photo, or rather a copy of a photo, from the Crashdown in 1959," Michael answered.

"Looks like it," Max said, noting the old-fashioned hairstyles and clothes. "What about it?"

"Recognize anyone?" Michael said. "Like the chick on the left?"

Max looked harder. "Looks a little like...Courtney. Actually, it looks a lot like Courtney."

"You noticed," Michael said approvingly. "That's supposed to be Courtney's grandmother, but it's not—it's Courtney. Right here, in Roswell, in 1959. Because Courtney's an alien."

"An alien," Max said skeptically. "Really. Just because she looks like her grandmother."

"No, because of the piece of skin that came off her this weekend," Michael said. "The same kind of skin we've been finding all over town."

"Wait—how do you know a piece of skin came off her?"

"What, you too?" Michael demanded. "Why is everyone into the method and not the results? I saw the skin, asked her if she was a Skin, and she ran. That enough evidence for you? And then she didn't show up for work this morning, and Mr. Parker said she'd been conveniently called home to nurse a sick mother. He also mentioned her 'grandmother' had worked at the Crashdown back in the day, and he let me copy that picture. That's her. I'm telling you, that's her."

"Could be," Max allowed, "but I'm more interested in why you stopped trying to contact me if you found another alien in town."

"Dude, I left you, like, a million messages. I said it was important."

"You always say it's important," Max said. "Ever heard of the boy who cried 'wolf'? When there really was a wolf, no one listened."

Michael snatched the photo from Max's hand. "Guess what? There's a wolf. Home Ec room, after first period. Be there."






*********************************************************






"You're here early," Kyle remarked when he drew abreast of Tess on the front steps of the school. "You practically ran out of the house. Big day today?"

"I'm not early, you're late," Tess corrected. "And I was rushing because I like to be on time."

"I'm sure you had a busy morning planned," Kyle said. "So did you tell everybody?"

"About what?"

"Funny," Kyle said. "Although given the way girls work, I guess you wouldn't have to tell 'everybody'. Just tell one girl, and it'll be all over the school by lunchtime. Probably faster that way."

"Kyle, what are you talking about?" Tess demanded.

"You're going to make me say it, aren't you?" Kyle sighed. "Fine. Have you told everyone about me and Liz?"

"No," Tess said. "Why would I?"

"Oh, I don't know," Kyle shrugged. "Mischief? Malice? Sheer spite?"

Tess stopped walking and stared at him. "Is that what you think of me? That I would spread something like that just to be mean?"

"Are you serious?" Kyle said. "After the show you put on this weekend with my dad?"

"I didn't tell him," Tess protested.

"You came damn close," Kyle observed.

"I told you, I was just yanking your chain," Tess said.

"Chain yankers definitely fit into at least the 'mischief' category'," Kyle noted. "I should know, 'cos I am one."

No argument there, Tess thought darkly. That brief bit of pique, a.k.a. chain yanking, was costing her. She should have kept her mouth shut, but she just couldn't. She'd known Liz was trying to turn Max away from her, but she'd never imagined she'd do something so...extreme. "Relax," Tess advised. "I haven't told anyone."

"Except me," Kyle said.

"You already knew, so you don't count," Tess said. "I haven't told anyone else, and I'm not going to. That would hurt Max."

"It would also hurt Liz," Kyle said. "But I guess you're not worried about her."

"Oh, good grief," Tess said crossly, "I didn't mean it like that. I just mean that she's not the one who got hurt."

"Mmm," Kyle murmured. "So is that why he blabbed to you? So Liz would get hurt too? Because Liz isn't the one spreading this around."

"I would hardly call telling one person 'spreading it around'," Tess protested.

"I would," Kyle demurred. "And the fact that he blabbed tells me certain things about Evans, none of them good, which is, like, you know, no great shock. What I can't figure out," he went on as she scowled at him, "is why you're mad at Liz. Her backing off Evans means he's up for grabs, right? That's what you wanted, right? I mean, lamp trimming aside, I was never the real prize—I was just a convenient distraction. Which I'm totally fine with, by the way," he added hastily as her eyebrows rose. "I'm really not in 'prize' mood. Too much pressure."

"I am not mad at Liz," Tess said in exasperation.

"I've been thinking about this," Kyle went on, ignoring her, "and I think I've figured it out. Evans wants Liz, and just as you and I almost hook up, I hook up with Liz instead, so it must seem like Liz is moving in on every single guy you lay eyes on."

"And why would I care?" Tess demanded. "None of this is real. We're going home, so none of this matters."

"Then why are you so pissed about it?" Kyle said.

"I'm not pissed!" Tess exclaimed. "I never said I was pissed!"

"Right," Kyle nodded thoughtfully. "But then you didn't have to. It's pretty obvious. See, I think you've got it wrong," he went on when she flushed. "You're pissed because it does matter to you. Maybe it shouldn't, but it does. And all that stuff about it not being 'real' and not 'mattering' is just your way of trying to convince yourself you're not pissed when you really are."

"I'm finished with this ridiculous conversation," Tess said stiffly.

" 'K, I'm almost done," Kyle said, blocking her exit as she started to walk away. "Here's the thing—you may try to convince yourself none of this is 'real', but you're wrong—it's all real. I'm real, Liz is real, we're real people who really matter. I'm not talking, Liz isn't talking, so if it gets out, it's down to either you or Evans...and then I'll be really pissed." He smiled as she glowered at him. "I'm glad we had this chat. See ya!"

Smarting, Tess headed for her locker. So much for Kyle Valenti being a dumb jock; his uncanny ability to see right through her was downright unsettling, not to mention embarrassing. Problem was that indiscretions like Liz's had a way of getting out, and although she truly had no intention of telling a soul, that didn't mean word couldn't get out some other way, at which point she'd be blamed…

"You okay?"

"Max!" Tess said, slowing as he fell in step beside her. "I...yeah. I just...Kyle and I were…"

"Were what?" Max asked suspiciously, stopping in his tracks. "Did he say something to you about Liz?"

"No!" Tess exclaimed. "No, he didn't. Look, never mind," she went on before he leaped to the obvious second conclusion, that she'd said something to Kyle. "How are you doing? You didn't answer any of my calls this weekend."

"Yeah, I didn't answer anyone's calls," Max said heavily, "and it turns out I should have."






*********************************************************






11 a.m.

Proctor Residence








"Oprah again?" Dee said disapprovingly.

Seated cross-legged on the couch with her breakfast arrayed around her, Courtney didn't bother turning around. "Good morning. Or should I say, Good Almost-Afternoon?"

"Getting up early is overrated," Dee grumbled, moving a plate of bacon so she could sit down, then helping herself to it.

Courtney shook her head in amusement. "What do they say—'Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise'?"

"That was Ben Franklin, and good for him," Dee said. "Here's one night owl who's healthy, financially sound, and not a candidate for the village idiot. 'Early to rise' just makes me cranky."

"Crankier," Courtney corrected.

"What's the point of getting up early if you're just going to rot your brain on this nonsense?" Dee said. "You've been rooted to this couch all weekend, eating and watching this yappy woman tell everyone what to do."

"This morning it's Dr. Phil," Courtney said. "She has him on sometimes. You think Oprah's bad? She looks like a Rhodes scholar after you get a load of him."

"Then what exactly is the attraction?" Dee said in exasperation.

"I think it's like when people slow down when they drive past a car accident," Courtney said. "All these messed up people and their messed up lives are fascinating. And they take my mind off my messed up life."

"You can't just sit here growing moss," Dee said sternly. "You made Brivari a promise."

"I know, I know. I just want to make certain he's holding up his end of the bargain before I take such a big step."

"He is holding up his end of the bargain," Dee said. "He got on the phone to Larak and supported the treaty. You have witnesses."

"It's not exactly a 'phone'," Courtney noted.

"Fine, an intergalactic phone," Dee said impatiently. "Close enough. My point is, he's now on record as a treaty supporter. Your turn!"

"He also promised to build a safe house for the Resistance," Courtney reminded her.

"And that will take months," Dee said. "It has to be built, outfitted, and atmospherically sealed. Do you mean to tell me you're planning to sit here until the ribbon cutting?"

"Of course not," Courtney said. "Did you hear what's he's planning? The second site, and the bowling alley, and the movie theater, and the library?"

"Well, if you're all going to be sealed inside, you need a way to not go crazy," Dee said. "You need something to do. And the second site is in case of attack, so they can't take you all out at once...wait. Are you changing the subject?"

"We were talking about Brivari building a safe house," Courtney. "How is that changing the subject? Did he say how they're going to get supplies in and out? None of us will be able to go outside."

"Some kind of airlock," Dee said. "And I gather he's going to be the liaison with the outside world. That's why he's building it near LA. He's going to live there now."

"Yeah, what's up with that? He said he was never going back to his house here in Roswell. Why not? Is he really that upset about Zan?"

Dee shook her head. "You didn't see the place. I got a good look at it while I was waiting for him to come home. Zan is all over that house."

"How could he be 'all over it'?" Courtney said. "He was only here a couple of days. What, did he go on a shopping spree and redecorate?"

"He went shopping, all right," Dee said. "There was enough food in that kitchen to feed an army. Apparently that's what they lack most in the future. But you could see him everywhere. You know how Brivari's so neat, it looks like he doesn't live there? Zan was messy. He left stuff everywhere, from the living room, to the bed he slept on—"

"Don't you mean 'in'?"

"No, I mean 'on'," Dee said. "I guess they don't have sheets in the future either. I could have cleaned it all up, but I wasn't sure he'd want me to." She paused. "You're changing the subject again."

"Not!" Courtney protested. "This is all totally on the subject. Say, why do you think he never said hello to Yvonne when he was here? He must know she's here, but she says she hasn't seen him."

Dee was silent for a moment while Oprah paraded out her next guest. "I think he knows why she's here," she said finally. "We've all known for a while that her husband, Stephen, wasn't going to be around much longer. Stephen and Brivari were close; without him, Jaddo would never have escaped. Brivari just lost Jaddo, and I think he just can't face another loss right now. It's why I didn't tell him Yvonne was here in the first place. I was waiting for a better time."

"Not sure there'll be a 'better time'," Courtney said.

"Doesn't matter," Dee said. "He knows she's here, and he knows I didn't tell him she's here. He'll figure out why. And now you have to quit stalling."

"I'm not—"

"Oh, stop it," Dee said crossly. "Asking about Yvonne was definitely changing the subject. You got your treaty endorsement. Pay up!"

"I will when I'm certain he's delivered," Courtney said firmly. "He's got you to make certain I keep my end of the bargain, but I have no one to make certain he keeps his. You'll dangle me off the roof if I don't come through, but no one can do that to a Royal Warder. I'll park here for the rest of the year if that's how long it takes because once I set that in motion, there's no going back. He can blow up the safe house or rescind his support of the treaty, but I'll never get that toothpaste back in the tube."

"You won't need to," Dee said. "He gave you his word. Love him or hate him, Brivari doesn't go back on his word."

"I'll still wait for the follow-through, thank you very much," Courtney said. "I'm not sure what to believe any more. Like he's been moping for weeks, but he claims he's been feeding Nicholas false information about Vanessa to string him along, and that he finally had to put a stop to it because Nicky wasn't buying it any more. How'd he manage to do that while he was moping? Did he really send a box of Vanessa's skin flakes to Copper Summit? It doesn't make sense. I don't believe it."

"Oh, good Lord," Dee groaned, grabbing the remote. "It's too early for arguing. I need food. No, I need tea, and then food. And I need this crazy woman to shut the hell up," she added, changing the channel from Oprah to a newswoman with shellacked hair.

"...before her husband John Whitaker's upcoming election, she took his place on the ballot and won by a higher margin than any Democrat in 15 years. But all of that ended yesterday just outside her hometown of Copper Summit, Arizona, where a tragic single-car accident cut short a life of public service. Vanessa Whitaker, the controversial New Mexico congresswoman, is dead. More in a moment."

Stunned, Courtney and Dee stared at the television for a long minute.

"Believe it now?" Dee asked finally.

"Yeah," Courtney said faintly. "I do."






~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



I will be back on Sunday, February 5, 2017 with Chapter 60. Thank you for your patience with my less-than-regular posting as I move my children to various places, and hopefully the posting schedule will go back to normal next month as we're very nearly done. A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all my readers!
Last edited by Kathy W on Fri Jan 20, 2017 10:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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."

cjeb
Enthusiastic Roswellian
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Apr 15, 2009 7:53 pm
Location: South Carolina

Re: Birthright *Series* Season 2 (CC, TEEN), Chapter 59, 12/18

Post by cjeb » Mon Dec 19, 2016 12:55 pm

Thanks.....and patience...I have patience.....Really
"I didn't step out from behind my tree,my kids cut er down and dragged me out kicking and screaming"

keepsmiling7
Roswell Fanatic
Posts: 2278
Joined: Thu Jun 28, 2007 9:34 pm

Re: Birthright *Series* Season 2 (CC, TEEN), Chapter 59, 12/18

Post by keepsmiling7 » Tue Dec 20, 2016 5:47 pm

Love how jealous Maria is concerning Courtney......
and Max has no patience with Michael.
Michael did find out something very important....and everyone needs to be aware of.
Kyle and Tess really have it out, and I was pleased to see he could see right through Tess.
Looking forward to the next part,
Carolyn

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