Where Once Stood Kings (Mature, Max) (Complete)

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Where Once Stood Kings (Mature, Max) (Complete)

Post by DMartinez » Mon Sep 12, 2005 12:15 am

Winner - Round 10

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Winner - Round 9

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Kal

Winner - Round 8

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Winner - Round 2

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Author: DMartinez
Email: shockerdm@icqmail.com
Disclaimer: Characters belong to Katims, Metz and UPN. No infringement intended.
Rating: Mature
Summary: November 14, 1989. Two children emerge from a cave. November 18, 1989. Two other children are picked up by a trench-coated figure.
Note: Alternate Universe. No couples yet.

Where Once Stood Kings...

Date: November 13, 1989

The programmer typed and typed and typed. When the Colonel walked up behind him, he straightened and pretended he could pay more attention but he was so tired. They had a deadline and then they would test launch that missile. He leaned over to look over a blurry set of numbers, not noticing his fingers slip as he typed?God, he hated these military jobs.


Date: November 14, 1989

"What was that?" Diane Evans gasped as there was an explosion not too far off in the distance. The following rumble rocked the car.

"Geez." Phillip Evans tried to get control of the vehicle as he stared at the cloud of dust that formed and lifted off the ground in the distance. "I think those military boys missed their target." Dust and pebbles bounced off the car after a few moments. "We'll report it when we get back into town."

"Phillip, watch out!" Diane yanked on the wheel and he slammed on the brakes. When the vehicle came to a stop, there stood two children struck dumb by the head lights. Naked and obviously cold. Diane opened her door and one of them ran off. The other, a girl, curled into a ball as if she could hide herself. "Sweetie? Are you okay?"

"The other one is behind that rock." Phillip nodded to the shadow of the shivering boy. "You see if you can get her into the car. I'll get the boy."

"Who do you suppose would leave children in the middle of nowhere without any clothes?"

"I don't know."


Date: November 18, 1989

"Latitude, not longitude. Idiot humans." The gravelly voice muttered. Yanking off his trench-coat, he began pulling rocks out of the entrance. "Damned American generals." Suddenly he stopped, walked back and kicked the car tire. "I could have been making a twenty million dollar movie!"

Setting back to work, he had most of the rocks cleared out. A hand to the rock wall sent a door rumbling open. It was dark inside?which meant the pods had hatched a little early and that wasn't totally unexpected given the no doubt violent shaking that misaimed missile had caused. Putting his trench-coat back on, he grabbed the duffel bag from the back seat of the car. Creating light, he stepped forward into the darkness of the cave. "Come out, come out wherever you are." There they were, huddled in a corner. Nodding them out of the corner. "Let's go."

A boy stood, blocking the girl from the stranger. So protective for having just been hatched from the artificial uterus. Two, one boy and one girl?where should be four, two boys and two girls.

"Aw, shit. Where are the other two?" Of course the boy didn't answer, barely knew he had a tongue much less knew how to use it. "Jesus fucking Christ!" Ripping open the bag, he pulled out both sets of clothes. Glancing at the kids, he resized one set then another. "Come here. We gotta get you dressed and out of here."

Boy stepped forward cautiously. Trench-coated-man could see the internal debate to remain naked or to accept the clothes and be warm. Instincts, gotta trust them, Trench-coated-man nodded to the boy. Boy nodded slowly and allowed Trench-coated-man to dress him. When Trench-coated-man stepped toward Girl, Boy shocked him with a finger to the sleeve that send a jolt of energy through him.

"Geez, kid. Watch it. I'm just going to put clothes on her. You're too young to be this protective." He finally got to dress Girl but her movements seemed off to him. Sluggish and sleepy, much less alert than the boy had been. "You okay?" She didn't answer but he hadn't expected her to. Looking around, he noticed the debris. Most likely a cave-in as the result of that missile test. Then he noticed her pod and all the liquid surrounding it. If he remembered correctly, she had been leaking when they had first crashed. She had bled out slowly and then some when one of the rocks pierced the pod. The other two had gotten out before the cave-in and these two were trapped. "Great. That's great. Let's go. Come on."

After a moment, Boy took Girl's hand and led her out of the cave. He turned his head to the East but Trench-coated-man shook his head as he closed up the cave. "Sorry, kid. We're going West. Land of Opportunity. If you're lucky and if you happen to become a good actor, we'll get you a job. The name's Kal, kiddies. I'm your uncle from now on."

TBC

AN: This is a repost for the most part. I'm almost done writing it. It's got about 60 parts.

AN: 12/18 and 12/31 Thanks to LTF for allowing me use of her host to put up the banner. Thanks again to all who read, to all who nom'd, and to all who voted. '-)

http://images15.fotki.com/v245/photos/3 ... svi-vi.jpg[/img] http://riddickdm.tripod.com/awards/rfan ... stauwa.jpg
Last edited by DMartinez on Sun Sep 10, 2006 9:37 pm, edited 65 times in total.

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Part 1 – November 20, 1989

Post by DMartinez » Mon Sep 12, 2005 11:46 pm

Part 1 – November 20, 1989



Kal had studied the kids on the long drive back home. Boy was very protective of Girl. At the hotel they stopped at, he had lowered himself to bathe them. They'd have to learn for themselves and he finally admitted to himself that he would have to get used to it. There was no way in the world he could find enough money to get a nanny willing to keep her mouth shut about these kids. Boy wouldn't let him touch Girl until he had examined the soap, towel and shampoo for himself.

Food was harder. If their taste buds were anything like his, they couldn't taste much of anything either. Oddly enough, Boy had accidentally bitten a packet of hot sauce and then proceeded to suck it dry. He bit another one and put it in Girl's mouth, yanking it out when she tried to eat the packet itself. He was a smart kid.

Upon arrival at the mansion, he was pleased to see his housekeeper had opened up a suite and put some toys and books within. Boy moved around the room checking it all out. Girl found a noisy toy and it kept her well entertained. Kal could only stand in the doorway and watch. That boy made him laugh. "Well, your highness, is this up to your standards?"

Boy looked up at him with those big amber eyes of his. The kid had slowly gotten used to his presence and seemed to realize he wasn't a threat. Kal made a decision while they sized each other up. "I gotta name you, kid. You got a lot of the old man in you for such a little guy, you little wannabe hero. Bob isn't right. Evans'll do. Are you a 'Bashful Whirlwind?' Huh? A lot in a little. You're a little max-ed out so Max it is. Max Evans has a nice ring to it. Max."

"Max." The whisper came.

"That's right. Your name is Max." Kal used a finger to make the name appear on the shirt 'Max' was wearing. "What about her?" He pointed to the blonde little girl who didn't even realize they were still in the room. "What's her name?" Max just stared at the girl. Kal shook his head sadly. Even the boy knew there was something wrong with the girl. "What say we make her 'Woman of the Year.' Tess Harding. After Katharine… Barbara and Renee were kidding themselves. Her name is Tess."

"Tess."

"Yeah, you teach it to her." Kal moved near to the girl and marked her shirt with her name. Max followed him, still suspicious. "I'll tell you what. You watch her for me. You're going to be her big brother. I'm going to leave and Lizette will take care of you both until I get back. Don't do anything to make her leave."

Max nodded when Kal nodded. Kal knew he was only mimicking but the quicker Max learned to be normal, the quicker they could get Tess's situation under control.

TBC

I know Kal doesn't seem to make much sense but he does know his movies.

hehe... so i'm gonna try to spit out several parts of this a week until either caught up or done. '-)

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Part 2 – May 5, 1990

Post by DMartinez » Tue Sep 13, 2005 11:48 pm

Part 2 – May 5, 1990

Kal lit his cigar and ushered his associates into his parlor. "It's not an Emmy winner but trust me… we'll get something like 10 mil on opening weekend. I've got Roberts, Burstyn lined up and the kid from the war movie a few years back. D'Onofrio. The ladies will like it. With these new MTV awards and such, it'll be great publicity after the fact… video buys and rentals."

"I'm a little teapot! I'm a little teapot!" The high pitched voice slurred as a blond curly head streaked into the room and hid behind a high-backed couch. A batter of footsteps stopped just outside the doors.

"Langley." The man in charge cleared his throat, looking to his host expectantly.

"Just a minute, Louie." Kal set down his cigar. "Max!" The boy shuffled his way into the room. "Get your sister. Go to your room."

Max avoided the gazes of the strange men as he went about pulling Tess from behind the couch. The blonde kept giggling and resisting and it took a while before they were out of the room and Max could shut the doors.

"That's a pretty little girl you got there, Langley." Louie noted. "HBO is doing a show that needs a lot of little kids. That boy isn't so bad looking either."

"The weightlifter is doing a show, too." The assistant, Draw, piped up. "And Sesame Street is always looking for kids."

"Thank you for trying to make me a richer man, boys." Kal picked up his cigar and relit it. "But that little girl isn't going in front of a camera."

"Don't tell me that Kal Langley won't put his own children to work." Louie laughed and stopped when his associate didn't seem to be amused.

"I'm not, boss man. If I could, I'd put both of them to work." Kal poured them all drinks. "First off, that's my niece and nephew. Their deceased parents, namely my half-brother and his… ahem… two wives, would haunt me for working the kids. Second, the boy would crack under the pressure. Third, the girl is missing the higher faculties if you catch my drift. Where were we? The next project?"

June 20, 1990

Max poked at the lemon chicken on his plate. Lizette told him he had to eat it and that was fine but he didn't like steamed rice or lima beans. Tess, on the other hand, had eaten her chicken and rice. Somehow the beans had gone missing. She was playing (banging) on the mini-grande in the solarium. He was done with the chicken and sulking over the remainder when Kal made his appearance in the kitchen. "What's with you?"

"I don't like lima beans." Max wiped at his eye and propped his elbows on the table. "Lizette say I can't leave 'til I eat them… and the rice."

"So eat them." Kal pulled a lemon from the fridge and bit into it, peel and all.

"They're yucky." Max saw his audience was unsympathetic. "They make me sick."

"Did Tess eat them?"

"No but I can't find where she put them."

Kal glanced around for the housekeeper, reached over and waved a hand over the mess. "She went home." Leaving the cleared plate, Max trudged off. "Kid." He turned, hands in pockets. "You and the sister are going to school."

"She can't read… or write." Max kicked at the doorframe.

"So teach her. She's not going to be in your class anyway." Kal bit into his lemon and eyed the kid. "You got until August to teach her, then it's up to the school."

"She's not going to talk to them." Max crossed his arms.

"And another thing… no using those damned powers of yours. Normal people can't do that stuff. I like my life the way it is. Don't mess it up."

--

Max gave Tess her little stuffed wolf and she tucked it under her chin before closing her eyes. "Night-night, Max."

"Night, Tess." Max trudged through the bathroom and into his room and crawled under the sheets or his own bed. He shut his eyes tightly and tried to go to sleep but the overwhelming homesickness washed over him as it had every night since he crawled out of the pod. He remembered the pods. He stayed and stared at the puddle under her pod… and then the roof had fallen on them, breaking her out and scaring the other two off. The other two… were lost. "I want to go home."

He heard the voice before he saw the shadow in the open doorway. "You are home, Max. Get used to it. It's really much better this way." The smoke was the only thing that actually entered the room. "I'm getting rid of Lizette. Be more careful… watch Tess better."

July 29, 1990

Max watched the test-givers carefully as he answered their questions. He was behind. He could tell. They were looking at each other in that way. That way that people used when something wasn't right, when it was surprising in the bad way… or just not good way. Lizette looked like that when he was confused by the ice dispenser and the mailslot and the stove and the sink… These people didn't think he was good enough.

He wanted to be in there when they tested Tess but he wasn't allowed. He had about thrown a fit until Uncle Kal had gone in with her. That was the only thing that had calmed him down about it. He went through the tests. Shapes, numbers, letters, comprehension.

They talked to Kal at the far end of the room while he and Tess were left to their own devices. Tess hid her face under Max's shirt whenever she caught one of the testers looking her way. Max could only sit and let her. He could see his uncle getting frustrated with the testers. "Tess, I understand. Max is fine. I really don't have time to deal with this but he is fine for school. He learns fast. He'll surprise you. Six months ago, neither spoke English. Come on. This private school could use the money, I need a school for the brats."

"Mr. Langley—"

"No. You're taking him. Her, I can find a special school for. He's good to go. I'm paying you enough for these damn tests but I'm telling you."

"One trimester." The head tester finally relented.

"You're in for a treat." Kal clapped his hands. "Kids, let's go."

TBC

heh, uh well, you'll learn that Max's view of women is somewhat shaped by Kal's doings... Lizette being the housekeeper isn't symbolic in anyway.

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Part 3 – January 21, 1993

Post by DMartinez » Thu Sep 15, 2005 12:33 am

Part 3 – January 21, 1993

Max gathered the stack of drawings to put them away when Louie entered the room. Tess worked on her next drawing without a look upward. Max's eyes narrowed when Louie paused to glare at them before storming out of the room. The guy had looked less and less happy lately. Max had a feeling he wouldn't be coming back. Kal appeared a moment later with a lemon in hand. "Burn those pictures."

"Why?" The kid could only blink at him and hand them over. Uncle Kal had never told him to do anything like that before.

Kal took the stack of pictures and took a good look at them. That's where Louie was getting his ideas. "These are all old memories best left forgotten. Nobody outside the three of us has any business knowing these things." They disintegrated into ash in his hands. "It's amazing with all the crap in her head and she can't be trusted by herself."

"I know those." Max said meekly.

"I know you do. I know them. She knows them. We all know them." Kal brushed his hands off and gazed down on the curly-headed girl. "Why can't you know better?"

"She tries." Max cut in. "She's not stupid. She's… different."

"Keep an eye on her, then. Don't let her be too different. She's doing good at that school about this stuff." Kal bit into his lemon and waited for Max's slow nod. "I tell ya, Max. You gotta teach her and she can't keep drawing this crap… even here."

"She doesn't like to be still." Max scooted beside her and touched her hair the way she liked. In the past two years it had been up to him to watch her. Somehow she understood that outside the house people were different from her, Max and Uncle Kal. She didn't do the things she could at home at that school. She liked school, they were different like her, in that way. "She gets distracted and she forgets. She likes noise."

"Noise?" Kal tilted his head, nodded and walked off. "She likes noise."

February 4, 1993


Tess watched with fascination as the boy made pretty noise on the piano. Kal thought she was going to throw a fit when she had to share the bench with the boy but once he started playing, she was glued to the boy's side and watched his fingers fly. She had a bright smile on her face and she kept looking back at him. When he stopped playing, she turned to her uncle. "I wanna do that."

"Pay attention to what he says and you can do that too." Kal pointed to the boy, Billy or Willy… Justin? "You have to be patient with her. She's not right. She can't read."

"I'll see what I can do." The boy, Jake, nodded. He sized her up. "Can you play the Monkey Game?"

"Can you play the Monkey Game?" Tess imitated. Max hated it when she did that but she thought it was funny.

"Good." He nodded again and raised his right hand.

"Good." Nod. Lifted right hand.

His fingers fit to the keys. Her fingers fit to the keys. Thumb, middle, pinkie. Thumb, middle, pinkie. Again. Again. Faster. Faster. "Wow, you're good."

"I can do it." Tess straightened up and waited for more instructions. Kal just shook his head and left the room. Max would be home soon.

--

Max entered the house with his stack of books. Through the kitchen windows, he could see Kal sitting with three mobile phones, a stack of scripts and a notepad with notes all over it. Rolling his eyes, he opened the fridge only to have it closed for him. Millie, the new housekeeper. "I'm hungry."

"There's nothing in there but junk. I made you some granola." The broad woman set her stern gaze on the young boy in front of him.

"Yum." Max clapped his hands and then rolled his eyes. "I'm just getting a jello."

"No. Take your books to your room." Millie ordered.

"You're fired." Max shook his head. He always hated new housekeepers but there was only one way to keep them in line. He reached over and opened the window. "Uncle Kal!"

"Millie! Leave the kid alone! I don't have time for this." Kal called in without pausing in listening to whatever crony was on the phone.

Millie stood shocked where she had been in the midst of preparing dinner. She had only been working in the Langley home a week but surely she was meant to look after the kids. "Mr. Langley."

"You're a housekeeper." Kal turned, clearly annoyed at having to pause whatever he was working on. " Clean the sheets, the windows and make supper. Keep the fridge stocked. That's all. He takes care of himself and the girl. You don't like it, leave and save me the trouble of firing you."

Max opened the fridge, grabbed his jello-pack and plopped it on top of his books. Millie wouldn't last another week. Getting them fired was easier than getting rid of them. He vaguely remembered Lizette but she was ready to run back home to Mexico with her stories of the demon children. He jogged up the staircase to his room. Feeling lazy, he scanned his homework assignments and with a wave of the hand, printed the finished product on the stack of papers.

Opening the jello, he turned on the TV. Crap, crap and more crap. He'd have to wait for prime time. Suddenly he realized that Tess was nowhere to be seen. She hadn't greeted him or told him all about her day. Her stories usually started off with how she was a good girl and didn't use her fingers to do anything different. Everyday since she started school, it had been that way.

Shutting the TV off, he sucked a chuck of jello into his mouth and listened. Mushing the cool gel around his mouth, he peered into the bathroom and then her room. Empty. Tilting his head, he heard the piano and it wasn't producing head-aching and ear-piercing clangs and bangs. Winding his way down to the solarium, there sat his little sister and some strange boy. They were playing the same thing one right after another. "Tess?"

"Max?" Tess spun around. "I can play pretty. Jake teach me."

"She's really good." Jake stood and turned, expecting someone older and found a boy no older than the girl sitting next to him. "You're her big brother?"

"Yeah." Max nodded. "Uncle Kal hire you?"

"Yeah. She's got some gift. She's got an amazing ear for music."

"No, she doesn't." Max shook his head. "She's been banging on the piano for two years and she never played anything that sounded like anything before." He wished she had a gift like that but it was just like when he was teaching her to talk. She would only mimic him until she realized the words had meaning. Important things came first; hungry, sleepy, potty. She still didn't speak like a kid her age.

"Oh." Jake made a face but sat back down. "Well, then she mimics really well."

"She's good at that." Max moved to kneel beside Tess. "You having fun?"

"Yep." She raised her hands to him and then turned to play a simple rondeau. "It's pretty like Jake."

"Yeah, it sure is." Max patted her head and stayed for the remainder of the session. He could see the wheels turning in Jake's head. He wanted to prove something to the men in the Langley home.

--

Phone pinned to his ear, Max listened as his classmate panicked about the homework. He hadn't actually paid attention to the homework because he had cheated, so he just rattled off the equations as an answer. Ryan praised him for his helpfulness and invited Max over to hang out. Max had to decline. First, the kid was annoying. Second, he couldn't leave Tess home alone. Kal wouldn't watch her and the housekeeper wasn't supposed to. Kayla? Kylie? Karen?

He was walking past the front door when the chime went off. Suit, bright smile and a package. Suck-up. "What's that?"

"Looking for Kal Langley." The suit brightened his smile.

"He's busy. I'll take it." Max held his hand out.

"You might break it."

"Okay." Max nodded. "Or, you loose your chance of getting whatever you want from my uncle."

"It's from Mr. Zemeckis." The suit handed the package over. "A gift."

"Gotcha." Max shut the door in the guy's face.

"Who was that?" Ryan pressed.

"Somebody that works with Zemeckis." Max shrugged.

"Yeah, I heard his guys are working on a big movie and they want all the big names to get behind it and the publicity for the box office." Ryan offered.

"I wouldn't know." Max carrying the small box to Kal's room where he was no doubt 'entertaining' a guest. He left it on the shelf next to the door and continued on to his room where Tess was having a party with her stuffed doll collection. "I'm not into movies."

"You're kidding. My dad keeps talking about how I’m gonna work with him when I grow up. I know all the great producers by memory."

"That's cool, I guess but I'm not even sure my uncle wants me around much less work with him." Max decided they needed a change in subject. "Hey, I don't even know if I'll survive Linguini's test next week."

"You'll live, the rest of us will die." Ryan laughed. "Crap, I gotta go. See you in class."

Max set the phone down and left the room. He didn't feel like playing one of Tess's games. He reached the stairs in time to see Kal's guest leaving through the front door. Kal was holding a camera. "Look at this, kid. Prototype camera. Zoom lens." Kal touched something and the lens shot out an inch and then two. "Want it?"

He shrugged and stepped forward to take it. "What do I take pictures of?"

"Whatever. Life." Kal tapped him on the shoulder. "What's your problem?" Another shrugged as he examined the camera with all its buttons and functions. A scream got their attention.

They both raced into Max's room where Tess was holding the remains of a plush doll. Max rolled his eyes and knelt beside her. "What did you do?"

"She was a bad baby, she didn't sit up." Tess pouted. "She's broked. I was just gonna cut her hair."

"Give me the scissors." Max held out his hand. "You don't do that."

"I'm sorry." She ducked her head under Max's shirt while he fixed the doll.

"It's like she gets worse everyday." Kal shook his head.

TBC

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Part 4 – December 8, 1996

Post by DMartinez » Fri Sep 16, 2005 12:42 am

Part 4 – December 8, 1996

Max bobbed his head to the music blaring from his headphones. Pencil flying, he made quick work of his Algebra homework. He nearly jumped out of his skin when Tess's blond curls blocked his vision. He pulled off the headphones and turned in her embrace. "What's up? I'm doing my homework."

"Take pictures of me."

"When I'm done." Max sighed and picked up his pencil once more, only to have her hands stop his. Sighing again, he looked at the clock. "Okay, in twenty minutes." He pulled out a blank sheet of paper and wrote a number on it. "When the clock says this number, then I'll come take pictures of you."

"Okay." She pouted and ran off with the piece of paper.

"You indulge her."

"You want her quiet?" Max tossed over his shoulder as he jotted down the last equation. "If I refused, she would have screamed."

"I'm leaving again." Kal puffed on the cigar. "Your credit card is good?"

"Yes." Max closed his book and turned. "Hers is low."

"Don't let her buy so much." Kal shrugged. "It's an allowance. Teach her to budget."

"You know that she can't. Maybe if you tried to explain to her."

"Kid, I'm your 'uncle' I'm supposed to spoil you."

"Whatever." Max sighed. "I don't have any friends because of her."

"But you've got connections. That's what matters. You'll need those connections when you eventually get a job." Kal sat on the bed and watched Max pull several folders out of a drawer and set them aside before retrieving a camera and several rolls of film. "What do you got there?"

"Just pictures of Tess." He shrugged and handed the folders over. "She likes to pose. Mr. Lindham taught me to develop the film myself and which cameras to use."

"What have you been using for a dark room?" He opened the folders and spread the pictures over the duvet cover.

"Your bathroom. You don't use it and Bobby hates going in your room."

"These are good. These are really good.." Grabbing one of the folders, he began picking the pictures out. "I'm taking exposures 3, 9, 25 and 32 from the first folder. 12 and 19 from the second… and 25 and on from the last."

"Why?" Max didn't think the pictures were so good. They weren't perfect. Some of them were blurred.

"Let's just say that if Tess wants to keep spending, she can work to pay the bill." He examined his chosen pictures. "You've got a good eye and our woman of the year has found something she can do."

"Kal, what are you going to do with those?"

"I have a friend in modeling."

"She won't just pose for anyone." Max protested. "The second Bobby walks into the room, she runs and hides."

"Then you've got a job if they come out anything like these. She still likes to dress up?"

"Yeah but…" Max sighed. It was useless. "Ok."

"There's a good boy." Kal nodded. "I'll see if I can't get some sponsors."

December 12, 1996

Max wanted to throw the chess board across the room. She beat him again. Her glittering blue eyes told him that she loved besting him at something. He had seen the dull look in her eyes when he came home with As on his report card. The self-loathing when she broke something or said something that made people laugh at her. She loved him, that much he knew. He hadn't even realized he was daydreaming until she started hopping up and down.

"Brother Max, Brother Max." Tess's eyes glittered as she slowly bent over the chess board and reached out to touch him. "You're it!"

She was out of the room before he could blink. He would have just let her go but then he remembered Kal was bringing people home and had told him to make sure Tess behaved herself. Tearing down the hallways after her, he caught up with her in the foyer just as Kal and his associates entered the house with their dates. He and Tess were supposed to be upstairs and out of sight but it was too late for that. Tess laughed wildly as she tried to escape her brother's grasp. "Uncle Kal, I'm sorry, I forgot."

Tess immediately went still, wide blue eyes watched the guests as she quietly slipped behind her brother for protection.

"No harm done." A woman purred at Kal. "Will they be joining our party?"

"No. They're going to bed." Kal nodded his head to the stairs. Max gripped Tess's hand and raced upstairs with her. She was more than willing to go. Strangers made her nervous. After seven years, she still had not gotten used to the strange faces that appeared at the mansion from time to time. Once upstairs, Max sent her to bathe with the promise of a story when she got out.

They were thirteen years old but Tess was nearer to ten… if that old. Sometimes she seemed normal with her hairbrushes, clothes, and posters of boy bands but then she would sit and color like a five year old. Her handwriting much resembled a young child's. Sometimes he wondered if she would always be this way… if someday she might grow up. He already thought girls were pretty and he'd had sex education. She would probably never understand that. She was smart enough. Puzzles, math and anything that could be demonstrated visually, she could learn but her understanding was so young.

Kal had gotten an instructor to come teach her to play the piano while Max was at school. Jake had tried to teach her to freestyle but she would only mimic. The same with the violinist, the cellist, the flutist and the guitarist. Sheet music meant nothing to her but if she heard it, she could play it… she was never going to compose her own music.

Her vanity… was just that because she was fascinated by her reflection. That's why she liked to have pictures of herself. She loved dress-up and lipstick and perfume… because it made her pretty, not because she wanted to impress anyone. Like chess, she watched chess match after chess match so that she could play her brother. She knew what moves won games from watching but she didn't understand it. She played because he did.

Max sighed when the door opened and Tess emerged drying her hair with her hands. She scanned his bookshelf over and over until her hair was dry and in plenty of curls. "I want… this one."

He scanned the title and groaned. She did like her princess stories. They trekked back through the bathroom and into her room. Tess scrambled beneath the covers, Max gave her the stuffed wolf to tuck under her chin and he sat beside her with the book. "There once was a kingdom with twelve beautiful princesses and each morning when their father, the king, woke them, their dancing shoes were battered to shreds…"

December 20, 1996

Blading around the pool, Max cast his glances to the city beyond the grounds. Tess splashed in the pool. Kal held a net conference in his office. They were promoting another big movie… one he wanted them to accompany him to the premiere of. It was supposed to be some big horror movie or something. Kal had predicted a franchise out of it. Something about a mask and a bunch of screaming teenagers mocking the classic horror movies. Who knew? Kal was usually right about those things.

"You about done, Tess?"

"No." She told him, turning up her nose.

"You're gonna turn into a prune." He warned her. "Get out now do you can dry off before you gotta shower before dinner. Uncle Kal doesn't like it when you drip through the house."

"Uncle Kal is a poo-head." She blew him a razzberry.

"He is?"

"Yes. He told me to stop playing the piano. Will you take some pictures of me playing?"

"When I get more film." Max promised then sighed. "And after Uncle Kal gives you a list of clothes to wear."

"He told me to stop playing." Tess pouted.

"He's on the phone." Max skidded to a stop beside the pool. "Wanna watch a scary movie?"

"I don't like scary movies."

"We're going tonight." He knelt and flicked some water at her. "Then Christmas we're watching the movie about the angel."

"The man with the wings?" She perked up.

"Yep." Max fought the urge to roll his eyes. She would like that one better. Some movie about John Travolta being a real angel. Their family requirement for Kal. "Come on. We gotta get ready."

"I'm still playing."

"Did you see the pretty new dress?" He grinned when her eyes lit up. "Let's go get cleaned up."

--

Maybe Kal had been right. It was time to stop hiding. Max climbed out of the limo and reached in to help Tess out. Kal had already started smoozing. He was able to get her out of the limo without any problem. Then the cameras had dazzled her and while she clung to him, she couldn't stop smiling. The lights, the people and the sparkly dresses. It actually put a grin on his face.

--

Kal sent them home so he could attend one of the many after parties. Max had just put Tess to bed and gotten into bed himself when Tess came barreling into the room. She scrambled beneath the covers and clung to him. "The movie wasn't that scary."

"Yes, it was." She pouted.

"Then don't think about it. Think about the angel we're going to see on Christmas." Max groaned.

"Are angels real? Can I get one?"

"Angels aren't real. It's just a movie." Max rolled on his side to face her.

"Kelly says angels are real. They watch us. Do angels watch us?" Tess curled up in a ball. "She says that God loves us and angels are here to watch us and make sure we're loved." She furrowed her brow. "What's love? Kelly says you and Uncle Kal love me. Is that true?"

"Yeah, I guess so." Max shrugged.

"She says Christmas is a time for peace and love. For family and friends. Are you my friend?"

"I'm your brother."

"Brothers and sisters love each other?"

"Yeah."

"What's love mean?" She brushed her curls out of her face. "Is that how you make me feel better when I do something stupid?"

"Kind of."

"Or when you don't let Bobby make fun of me."

"Sure." Max stopped and tilted his head. "Bobby makes fun of you?"

"He says I'm slow and I need to grow up."

"Then Bobby needs to find a new job."

"Another mouse keeper?" Tess narrowed her eyes.

"House keeper." Max corrected. "Get some sleep, huh?"

"I can sleep in here?"

"Yeah." Max shut his eyes and didn't open them again until the sun was shining in his window. Kal was reclining in the chair beside the TV. "Uncle Kal?"

"Come on. You and me need to have a talk." Kal gestured for him to get up. The two made their way down to the kitchen where Bobby was making breakfast.

"Fire him." Max nodded to the house keeper.

"After New Years." Kal led Max outside, away from prying ears. "Listen kid… you know you're different from everybody else."

"Yeah. I know."

"You know how?" Kal adjusted his robe to sit on the patio.

"Well, yeah. I have dreams."

"About what?"

"I don't know. Sometimes I see a red lake and big outcropping of rock. I see stars."

"Let me tell you something. You sleeping in the same bed as your sister makes me uncomfortable." Kal cleared his throat. "You're part alien but you probably figured that out. You're a smart kid."

"She was scared. She didn't like that movie last night. If she hadn't been so afraid of all the people there, she would have made a scene." Max protested.

"Yeah, I got it. I'm thinking it was a good idea to tell you she was your sister."

"She's not?" Max stepped back.

"Not so much. Let's put it this way. It's nobody's business. I thought I oughta warn you that you'll be having some dreams that are gonna make you feel sick about it. You'll figure it out."

"Why don't you just tell me?"

"I would but I figure I'll leave you some time to be normal. The dreams… they won't last so long and they probably won't happen again. Thing is… if Tess gets them, they'll freak her out cause she won't know what to do with them."

"Just tell me now." Max barked.

TBC

that's it til next week

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DMartinez
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Part 5 – August 4, 2001

Post by DMartinez » Mon Sep 19, 2005 12:47 am

Part 5 – August 4, 2001

Max flashed the girl a brilliant smile and she faltered in her explanation on how to get to the books he had asked about. He had been flirting with the girl for about ten minutes already and she was screwing up her job trying to keep up. "The uh, the um, the uh, the photography books are on the second floor but um, the uh, books on the artists are on the fifth floor."

He never heard the pounding of footsteps and never acknowledged the shifting of his jacket but the librarian's assistant did. "So, where would I go if I needed to take pictures of you?"

"Um…" She pointed over his shoulder. "There's a girl under your jacket."

"Is there?" He tilted his head at her. "Don't mind her. So… I think you would make the perfect subject for my next project. Your skin is so smooth and clear…" He traced a finger over her hand. "Your eyes have an inner light that I'd love to capture on film."

"Really?" She blushed hesitated before she let her hand rest on the counter where he could keep touching it.

"Yeah, I have a studio in my house… All my equipment is there, my cameras, my props and backdrops." His arm shifted unconsciously as she moved around his side to appear under his arm to look at who he was talking to.

"I don't know… do you really think I would come out good?" She ducked her head. "I'm not much of a picture person." She gasped when a blond head popped out from under his arm. Max was blinded as, suddenly, hands clamped over his eyes. The assistant started to talk but a hand clamped over her mouth.

"Max… No." Tess hissed.

"Tess, cut it out." Max ripped her remaining hand from his eye and pulled her hand from the lost opportunity. "I'm sorry. I really am."

"You can't take pictures of her, Max. You promised to take pictures of me." She hissed at him.

"Is this your girlfriend?" The girl glanced at him doubtfully.

"My sister." Max corrected and led Tess away from the desk. "Would you stop? I was talking to that girl. I told you that I have other friends. What happened to your books?" Tears slipped down her face as she pointed back the way she came. Sighing, he wrapped an arm around her shoulders and guided her back to the section he had left her in. Then he saw the reason Tess had deserted her books. A few guys from a rival high school of his sat at her table, her books in hand. "Can I have those books please?"

"Look, our little friend is back." The leader sat up. "She has to pay the toll first."

"You guys are sick." Max bit out. "Give me her books. If you insist on being animals, I'll make sure you regret messing with her."

"Let her speak for herself." He leered at her, blowing her a kiss.

"She can't. She's retarded, you morons." Max took their stunned moment as an opportunity to take her books back. "Let's go."

Tess followed him and waited until they were far enough away to explode. "I'm not retarded, Max." Max's shoulders sagged as he slowed his step, hanging his head in defeat. "I'm not."

"Yeah, I know. You are… the 'Woman of the Year.'" Max tried to flash her a smile but it failed to make her smile. "Tess, they don't understand… and it's not your fault. Forget them, they're assholes."

"Don't use that word, Max." She huffed and crossed her arms, refusing to move another step until he apologized.

"Tess…" He sighed and wrapped an arm around her. "You're not. I'm sorry. I won't say it again." Bent his head to look into her face. "Love you."

"Love you, too." She relented and took her books. "I hafta check them out."

"Why?" Max exclaimed, exasperated. Every two weeks they went to the library so she could look at the books and take some home but she could barely spell and recognize her own name.

"These are math books, Max. I can do math." She scolded him. "I'm not stupid."

"No, no you are not. Please, let's go."

--

Max slapped the negatives on Kal's desk. "Just finished."

"Good. Good." Kal shifted the phone against his ear and began looking the negatives over. "When does school start?"

"Twenty-eighth." Max shrugged and slid into a chair.

"Hugo will like these."

"Probably but she's wearing Vera's dress in that one." Max shrugged again.

"Then off to Vera, those go." Kal put the set aside. "We'll see what she thinks." He returned his attention to the phone. "The monster movie is going to be the next big thing. No kid's going to want an Elmo that burps or dances once they see this thing. We'll get the toys for the kids and the entertainment for the parents… I've never been wrong." Flipping a sheet of paper over he motioned to Max. "Two magazines want you. You've got interviews and appointments for trial shoots."

"Where?"

"Don't know yet." He motioned for something. "You've been taking those photography classes?"

"Yeah." Max shrugged. "They're boring."

"If all goes well on these trial shoots… next break you take a tour of the U.S. Get a feel for locations and local governments."

"You already planning to add me to the team?"

"Well, fortunately or unfortunately, you've got a knack for diplomacy and for strategic battlegrounds." Kal held up his hands. "No. The kids babbles incoherently to adults but the kids will understand her."

"Right." Max rolled his eyes and left the office. He strolled through the solarium where Tess was busy with one of her instruments and walked straight out the door to his car. He had no clue where he was going but he knew he had to get out of Hollywood and clear his head. In a trance, he sped down the freeway. He clicked off his cell phone when it rang the one time. Quiet was all he needed.

In Palm Springs, he filled up his gas tank and got something to eat. In Phoenix, he bought a thermos of coffee and took pictures of the dive with his camera, artfully avoiding the glare of the neon lights to capture the reality of the dingy place. In Tucson, he captured some drunks on film at a loud party. The mariachis hammed it up when they saw his camera. It wasn't until he was eating his breakfast burrito in an El Paso dive that he realized where he was going. He had been driving all night and there was only three hours or so before he got there. He could have been going anywhere. He'd been driving the same interstate since around five the night before. It was nearly eight and he wanted to leave I-10 and find highway 180. It was nearly eleven local time. He could make Roswell by three.

--

The Wal-mart had aliens painted on the front glass. The 7-Eleven had them displayed in the windows. All the stores and restaurants on the strip mocked him and his kind. Max climbed out of the car and stretched his legs. 180 and 285 were lonely stretches of road and Roswell wasn't all that welcoming. He thought El Paso had been small for being one of the larger cities in the area but Roswell wasn't anything special either. His tailored clothes weren't just out of place. That was like saying Queen Elizabeth was out of place in the Ozarks. Roswell was not his kind of town.

Anger built, rose and ebbed. The restaurant directly in front of him was called The Crashdown and had a huge UFO coming out of the front. It made the bile rise in his throat… but he was hungry and it looked as good as anything else. It wasn't like these people knew they'd be serving an alien. When he saw the sign, he knew he was far from home. Please seat yourself. He took a booth and sat, trying not to display obvious distaste for the decorations.

Wiping the table to avoid greasing up his sleeve, he caught the eye of a blond waitress. He caught the face she threw her fellow before trudging over. "Yeah, what can I do for you?"

"A menu?" He cocked an eyebrow at her. "Or do I guess what you've got… because I'm guessing you don't serve Pellegrino, Passugger Heilquellen, or Albion."

"Whatever you said, buddy." She walked away with raised eyebrows to retrieve a menu, shooting her friend a look. She presented him with the menu and forced a smile onto her face. "What can I get you to drink?"

"Whatever water's bottled, preferably not from around here."

"Dasani or Apani fine?" She scoffed, half laughing. He nodded after a moment of consideration. "Just a warning because I have the feeling our greasy spoon isn't what you're used to… we have deep-fried, stove-grilled, and overly-sweet. That's about it. I can arrange for a plain salad but that might be stretching things a bit."

"Give me a minute." Max waved her off and opened the menu. She was right. He wasn't used to the selection. The places that being Kal Langley's nephew got him into were usually health food places or gourmet delicacies. The brunette waitress passed and he had to stop her. "Excuse me, is there anything besides a salad that you serve that won't kill me slowly by way of high cholesterol?"

"Um…" She winced a little and turned more toward him. "You really came to the wrong place for that. We've got burgers with cheese, with grilled onions, or sauerkraut. We've got fries and onion rings. For a first timer…" She trailed off and appraised his ensemble. Tailored slacks, button shirt with no hope of finding the seams and shoes that she knew would set her back a few great tourist day tips. "Blue Moon Special."

"And what is the Blue Moon Special?"

"Blue Moon Burger, Saturn Orbit Rings and Mercury Milkshake for $3.99." She caught his raised eyebrow. "In layman's terms… that's your standard cheeseburger, onion rings and a milkshake of your choosing; chocolate, strawberry or vanilla."

Max studied her face for a moment. "You've got a very unique beauty. You don't see it much anymore."

"Um, thank you." She smiled and ducked her head.

"Ever considered modeling?"

"Um, in Roswell? No." She scrunched up her nose and wandered away.

Suddenly the blonde waitress was back with order pad in hand after she plopped a bottle of Dasani on the table. She simply raised an eyebrow that dared him to ingest anything. "Blue Moon Special."

"I could have given you the specials if you couldn't lower yourself to look at the menu." She scoffed and picked up the menu from the table.

"You didn't offer to be helpful." He tossed back at her. "Don't spit in the burger and I won't forget the tip."

"Right, right." She hugged and walked away to place the order. He knew she was supposed to be whispering but he caught her comment when she caught up to her fellow waitress. "Why do I always get the creeps?"

"I think he's sweet."

"You would." The blonde tossed her long hair over her shoulder and began working on the milkshake. "He looks like a walking American Express card. You'd think with all that money he could afford to be nice."

"You're being rude. He's probably reacting to your hostility."

"He started it. What the hell is 'Passenger Heil Kellen'? I think he mispronounced Evian." She crossed her arms and leaned on the counter. "Who the hell does he think he is in those clothes?"

"He's obviously not from around here, Maria. Not being from Roswell and dressing nice, does not make him a poser."

"He's like 20 and he's all Mr. Important. Did you see his car outside? I think someone's overcompensating…" She made a gagging face that made Max laugh. Maria covered her mouth and turned away. "Oh my god. Liz, he heard every word I said."

"That's what you get for making fun of customers on a lazy Sunday, Maria." Liz chastised her. "Take a physics class, sound travels. It moves in waves that bounce off solid walls and people will hear if you make fun of them without giving them the courtesy of a wall between you. It's also known as karma."

"Yeah, yeah." Maria waved her off. "I can't go back over there, now."

"Fine. I'm keeping the tip though." Liz turned to begin filling the sugar jars.

"Fine by me. I don't want my karma tarnished by his money."

"Order up!" Mr. Parker appeared in the walk-up window. "Girls, don’t scare off the customers."

"Got it, Dad." Liz nodded and pulled the plate from the window. She took the tin cup from the shake machine and poured it into a tall glass. She loaded up a tray and headed to her customer. She set the food down with a bright smile. "There you go. I'm Liz, I'll be your server for the remainder of your visit to the Crashdown. If you need anything, I'll be over there… this time maybe we won't be talking about you."

"Not a problem." Max cleared his throat and leaned toward her. "Just between us… your friend is wrong. I never overcompensate… for anything."

Liz had to bite back a huge smile. "Okay. I'm gonna… go. Enjoy your meal." Cheeks flaming, she made it back behind the counter without making a fool of herself. The phone rang and she answered, listened and then took a message. Head tilted at Maria, she took the scrap of paper and delivered it to her customer. "Um, this is for you."

Max set down his burger and looked at the paper. He looked up to the waitress but she seemed bewildered. "Thanks." Wiping his hands, he took the message and looked it over. Cursing, he bowed his head and sank against the seat. Liz stepped away from the table slowly. Max yanked his phone out of his pocket and hit the power button. It rang in his hand the second it found a signal. "Hello."

"You wanna tell me why in the hell you're in New Mexico?"

"Hey, Uncle Kal."

"Don't get cute with me. I know exactly where you are. Come home, now."

"Sure." Max hung up the phone and nodded to Liz. "Know of a hotel nearby?"

TBC

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Part 6 – August 6, 2001

Post by DMartinez » Tue Sep 20, 2005 12:13 am

Part 6 – August 6, 2001

Max tossed and turned in his bed. The sheets weren't as soft as he was used to, the smell was… musty at best, and the noise was not to a level he enjoyed in his hilltop home in L.A… nil. Actually, he didn't care where he was as long as he wasn't home. Home meant getting ready for school, it meant playing chess or Jenga with Tess, it meant showing his portfolio to a magazine editor or doing a shoot under the supervision of the photo editor for a magazine. None of it was painless. The phone had only rung once since Kal had interrupted his meal. That was Tess wanting a bed time story. He had forgotten and that was his fault. He was going to have to call her that night to tell her another one.

Yesterday had been spent wandering the city, getting some clothes and necessities, and taking another meal at the Crashdown. The waitresses were different, which was probably a good thing. They hadn't stopped staring at him after he had answered his phone. He had finished his meal in silence, half-expecting his phone to ring again with Kal demanding to know why he hadn't left yet.

When he hadn't found a store that sold his brand of film, he had hightailed it to the library to use a computer to order some film and some other supplies he'd need. If he could get some sleep, he'd be up in the morning to find some place to take pictures. It might be fun to take some on his own for once… like he had in the beginning.

--

With several rolls of film in each pocket, he set out. There was a little girl playing hopscotch, complete with pigtails and Mary Janes. It was quaint. The buildings were old and needed painting. They were classic. There were lawyers chatting in the early morning chill, taking a break from the musty offices inside and exchanging marriage stories. There were old men sitting outside the Crashdown taking in eggs, bacon and coffee. They were talking about the weather and the good old days.

He caught that brunette waitress in a smile as she served a gentleman inside at the counter. Just as he was moving on to the next shot, two people nearly bowled him over. He received a nasty glare from the tall and icy girl, and then a death stare from her beefy companion. "Excuse me." Both sets of eyes narrowed at him before he stepped aside and let them on their way. "Nice to see everyone's so friendly." He called after them.

"They are… when they want to be." A familiar voice reached his ears.

Max turned to find the brunette clearing a vacant table. "Good morning."

"Good morning." She flashed him a smile. "Eating?"

"Walking." Max raised his camera to catch her on film once more. "What's the story on Dumber and Dumber?"

"You ask a lot of questions for someone just passing through." She accused.

"I'm not. I'm rediscovering my roots." Max clicked off a few shots of her exasperation and lowered the camera. "What do you say?"

"Those are the Evans kids." Liz rolled her eyes and relented as she resumed her task of cleaning the table. "Isabel and Michael. She's the most popular girl in school and he hates everyone."

"I thought you said they were friendly."

"I believe that everyone is friendly. Michael's just a little… paranoid… but if I had been left out in the desert to die when I was six years old… I might be a little stand-offish myself." Liz lifted her dish bucket to finding him staring.

"Is that right? Left out in the desert?" What were the chances of that?

"Yeah. Him and his sister. They're adopted. I think they have to work with their dad down the street." Liz gathered her bucket to her. "Don't think I didn't see you snapping pictures of me… what's your name?"

"Max Evans."

"Really? You're not related, are you?" Liz's eyes bugged out.

"Probably not. I'm from California and named after a character in a movie or two."

"I thought you said you were discovering your roots?"

"I passed through here a long time ago." Max shook off her question. "May I have the pleasure of your name?"

"Liz Parker." She had to hide a grin when he followed her inside and to the counter where she set down her load. "Nice change in wardrobe."

"I… spontaneous trip means a few bucks spent on whatever I could find around here. It's not up to my normal standards but I can afford to be lax here." He slid onto a stool. "If you get off soon, would you do me the honor of a tour?"

"I don't even know you." Liz protested. "What are you doing in Roswell? It's not the best place to take pictures, or have fun, or vacation…"

"Let's just say I wanted to get away for a while." Max cleared his throat and leaned forward. "Ever get the feeling your life will be over before you get to make any decisions about it?"

"Yeah. Yeah, I know the feeling exactly." She pondered for a moment and then nodded. "I get off in twenty minutes… then I'll need about thirty minutes to change. Come back in an hour."

"We'll see." Max rewound the film and popped it out before replacing the roll in his pocket. A fresh roll was loaded in no time.

"There's a one hour photo place two blocks down." She offered.

"No thanks. I develop my own."

--

Ten minutes later had Max adjusting his lenses across the street from the law offices of Evans and MacGruder. The air conditioner in the building must have gone out because the lawyers spent a lot of time in the entryway downstairs fanning themselves. Occasionally the tall blonde had wandered downstairs to talk to the oldest of the three men there. What the two older men didn't note was the sly flirting going on between the youngest lawyer and the blonde… but Max caught it on camera.

Only once did the blonde look at him. In that moment he got the sense that he did know her. She seemed to mirror his expression. A mix of confusion and misplaced recognition. When she broke their gaze, she rushed back up the stairs. Through his extended lens, he could see her and her brother pointing at him and talking heatedly. He caught a few shots of the guy's profile and put his camera away. Hands in pockets, he fiddled with the rolls of film as he soaked in the alienness. After his second day it didn't seem so bad.

When he wandered back over to the Crashdown, the blonde was working. She glared at him and crossed her arms. "Enjoy slumming?"

"Slumming?" Max raised an eyebrow. "Honey, if I were going to slum, it wouldn't be in Roswell."

"Don't call me 'honey.' I don’t belong to you." Maria flipped her hair and stalked off.

"Don't mind her." Liz appeared suddenly. "She's just mad because you have a third leg."

"Rosie fan?" He blinked at her. It'd be a waste.

"Nope. Just hating men at the moment." Liz straightened her shirt. "Are you ready to begin? It'll be short, especially on foot."

"Let's go." Max followed Liz down the main drag and she ran through a brief history of the owners and kids she knew. He kept catching her staring at him. "What?"

"You have yet to ask the question."

"What question?"

"I can't force it. It'll come on its own. It always does." Liz started to step backwards off the curb but Max rushed forward to pull her back before a big truck ran through the intersection. "Whoa."

"Yeah. Let's walk forward from now on." Max took a moment to slow his heart rate. "What question is it that I'm supposed to ask?"

"It's a couple of questions actually. How long has your family lived in Roswell? Have you ever seen any aliens?"

"I was never going to ask either of those." Max cleared his throat and rushed them past the UFO museum.

"That's definitely a first." She laughed.

"I guess it's a hazard of living here, huh. How obsessed are people?"

"Every year we have a Crash Festival and all the crazies come out of the woodwork." Liz tucked her hair behind her ear and pulled it loose from her large hoop earrings. "Why are you taking so many pictures?"

"I'm a photographer. It's what I do." Max lifted the camera and swept the area for something decent of capturing.

"How old are you?"

"18, about to enter college." Focusing the camera on her face, Max stepped back and stooped to get a good angle for the proximity.

"Wow. I've still got a year of high school to go and then I'm out of here." She groaned and put her hand over the lens. "No more pictures."

"I started school late and then skipped a year so I ended up on time." Max shrugged and put the cap on his camera.

"Where do you live in California?" Liz sat on a bench and tried not to smile too much when he grimaced as he sat.

"L.A." He nodded to her eyebrows raising. "Grew up in Hollywood. We live away from that though. Up in the hills, away from the general chaos of mud slides and riots but not safe from earthquakes."

"Wow. So, you're a photographer. Who do you work for?"

"Um, actually, no one yet. I’m supposed to have interviews soon. If they like my on spot attitude and my portfolio, they'll hire me and I've got something to do besides wade through my schoolwork."

"Wow. Kinda nice to have it all worked out."

"I don't though." Max swallowed nervously. He was dangerously close to spilling everything. "It wasn't my idea. None of it. Not going to college, not sending my photos to magazines, not working for them or my uncle. It's all him."

"Do I know how that goes." Liz laughed. "My plan involves a four year scholarship to Harvard and grants until I've finished graduate school."

"What's the real plan?"

"I take what I can get from the school that will give it to me and wade through as patiently as possible until I'm the head microbiology researcher wherever I land." Liz laughed to herself. "It's looking like Southwest at the moment. I've got a 3.8 at the moment and it's going to do me well."

"I got a 4.0. It hasn't done squat for me." Max blew some dust off his camera and shot a look at her. "I'm pretty much expected to stay close to home."

"That's sad."

Before Max could say anything, his phone rang. Cursing, he got to his feet to answer it against a nearby building. "Hello?"

"Why the hell aren't you home by now?"

"Relax."

"No. Don't tell me to relax. I want you to get the hell out of Roswell, today." Kal took a breath. "I didn't get as far away from that place as I could because I didn't like it. You stick around there and trouble will find you."

"Nothing's happened. I’m taking a break."

"A break. Max, sleep with her, take her picture or whatever, and then come home. Don't stick around that dumbfuck of a town."

Max stiffened and looked back at Liz. She was looking at him curiously. Then Max glanced around, he didn't see anyone. "How did you know?"

"I know you, your highness. You got a weakness for a pretty face. You like the old movies, you like the classic look. There's a sweet girl somewhere with face like Judy Garland and a brain like Einstein. You're talking to her like you got all the time in the world. You're not bragging about your connections. You're talking about your hobbies and how much you hate me. I'm telling you to get the hell out and get home."

"When's my first interview?"

"Next week."

"I'll be back in time."

"That's not what I'm saying, Max. You will come home now."

"The interview. What time?"

"2:00 on Friday."

"I'll be back by Thursday. No arguments about it." Max cleared his throat. "I won't want to make it an order."

"Yeah." The sound of his mouth smacking against a cigar. "Fine. Be back early Thursday. Don't go asking a bunch of questions. You'll just get into trouble. Just remember that my reach is far and wide. Wouldn't want that little girl of yours to get vanished."

"I didn't tell her anything."

"See that you don't… and call your sister. She's going crazy."

"Put her on." Max sank to the ground as he listened to a series of beeps and clicks that would ring the phone in every room until she answered. "Tess?"

"Max? Where are you? I've been waiting." She sounded as if she had been crying.

"Hi. Are you okay?" Max's whole face softened when she sniffed.

"Yeah. I got scared last night. The men were talking in my dreams."

"I told you. It's okay. The dreams are old things… to be forgotten." Max reminded her gently. "The men weren't there to hurt you. They were protecting you."

"I… I'm supposed to know what they're saying but I don't." Tess swallowed and sniffed again.

"I don't know either."

"When are you coming back?"

"Thursday."

"When's that?"

"Go to your calendar, Tess. It should have the picture of the people at a grill on top." Max waited for her to find the picture. "Today is the sixth day."

"I found it."

"Okay. I will be back on the sixteenth day. That's 10 more than today. Did you find it?"

"Yes. 10 days."

"Good girl. How are you doing? Are you eating? Alicia say anything to you?"

"She says I eat junk but you said it was okay."

"It is okay. Next time she says something, tell her to talk to Uncle Kal."

"Okay."

"Think you can do without a story until I get back?"

"Yeah."

"I love you, sweetie. Be careful."

"Love you, Max." Tess whispered, calmer than she had been before. "I start school in seven days. Be home three days after that before I get out of school."

"I will. In 10 days before you get out of school that tenth day. Bye-bye." Max snapped the off shut and rose to his feet to return to Liz. She kept staring at him warily. "Phone call from home."

"You just up and left, huh? Didn't tell anyone where you were going, when you would be back?"

"Something like that." Max nodded.

"Left your daughter?"

"Oh." Max smiled. "No. Tess is my sister." His gaze dropped to his shoes as he slid his phone into his pocket. "She's… not… mentally right. Change upsets her."

"Is she why you can't go away to school?" Liz rose to her feet and let them away from the bench. "Why can't your parents take care of her?"

"I don't have parents. My uncle… he's a busy man."

"Too busy to take care of his niece?" Liz stopped walking.

"You don't know what it's like." Max shook his head at her and kept walking. "It's my thing. I know how it works. It works well." When he got to the end of the block, he turned to find her where he left her. He nodded his head to her and kept walking across the street. He didn't even care that he was being followed as he made for the hotel.

TBC

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DMartinez
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Part 7 – August 8, 2001

Post by DMartinez » Wed Sep 21, 2005 12:05 am

Part 7 – August 8, 2001

Max had trays of silver nitrate sitting in the bathtub. He had darkened the light bulbs and he had strings attached to the walls with pictures hanging to dry. Any equipment that he didn't have with him or couldn't find in town or couldn't order overnight, he managed without. Pulling down his dried pictures and making sure he hadn't left any proofs out, he stepped out into the room. Isabel and Michael Evans. Those were their names. He hadn't thought anything of them when he had first ran into them but that look he had shared with the girl… it was familiar. He had always wondered what had happened to the others and all Kal would ever say was that they were safe.

Sometimes he dreamt of the cave. The boy and the girl were waiting for him at the entrance. The walls shook and then the ceiling fell. The boy and the girl ran outside. He ducked under the pod rack. When the shaking was over, there was fluid all around his feet. When he checked on Tess, there was hardly any fluid left in the pod and she wasn't breathing anymore. His chest had hurt when he first breathed outside his pod. So, he put his hands on her chest and let flow himself into her. She gasped for breath, smiled at him and then gone to sleep. Tired himself, he went to sleep. When he woke the cave was dark and the rocks were stuck and he was too tired to do anything about it. Then Kal came and he woke up.

Max wondered what they knew about themselves. He had known some things… pop culture and good deductions but the truth was something he could have never imagined on his own. If those two, Isabel and Michael, were the boy and girl he had seen in the cave. That girl was his real sister. And the irony? They still ended up with the same last name. Michael had to be his commander.

Sorting the pictures, he studied the pictures he had taken of Michael and Isabel. The ones from the second story intrigued him. They were obviously talking about him. The 'why' could only be that she had recognized him. They were them.

--

It was late afternoon by the time he emerged from the room to look for something to eat. He immediately heard the footsteps that followed him. He turned a corner and ducked into a doorway. Five seconds later, Michael Evans stepped into view completely bewildered. Max couldn't resist. "Looking for me?"

Michael spun around to find Max leaning in the private side entry to a little shop. Suspicious eyes ran over the foreign guy. "Who are you?"

"No one." Max shook his head.

"Why did you follow me and my sister the other day? Why were you taking pictures?" Michael demanded, hand raised between them. Max took that as a threat and decided against theatrics.

"She looks like she could be a model. The camera likes her." Max looked to Michael's hand and cleared his throat. "Mind lowering your weapon, soldier? It makes me uneasy." Michael didn't move. "Michael, baby, come on. If I wanted to hurt you, I could have already." Max stepped out of the entryway and continued his walk into town. "I heard you were the paranoid type but I didn't believe it until now. I would ask you why you're following me but I know why."

"Why is that?"

"Because I started it." Max turned his head slightly to be sure that Michael was keeping up. "The name's Max."

"How did you know my name?"

"Friendly waitress who defended your honor. Said that despite obvious character flaws, you weren't a bad person." He turned the corner and paused. He looked to his stalker. "Crashdown is which way?"

"Two blocks back that way and four to the left." Michael blinked at him. "Why are you here?'

"Had some time before classes start." Max started back the way he came. "Meeting you was a pure coincidence."

"You know who I am?"

"Who do you think I am?"

"Another one of us. Aren't you? You're… like me?" Michael stopped him. Max recognized the desperation in the hazel eyes. "Are… you… like my dad or something?"

He couldn't help it, he laughed. It was just absurd. Soon he was clutching his sides. Every time he looked at Michael, a fresh wave of laughter rose. When Michael began to look indignant, he made a valiant effort to calm himself. "Few words, my friend. November 13, 1989."

"I don't remember that day." Michael shoved his hands into his pocket. "I vaguely remember the following night."

"Trust me… you were awake the thirteenth." Max motioned for the street and they crossed. He could see the Crashdown down the street. "You were awake before I was."

"Oh." Michael blinked, questions racing through his head. "Then you are one of us. Where have you been? Do you remember what happened or what we're doing here? What happened to everyone else on the ship?"

"You might want to lower your voice. You aren't the only one following me and I have no clue what status our stalkers have." Max slid into a table outside and reached for a menu. "I'm thinking of being brave. Do you recommend the Will Smith burger?"

"Only heavily drenched in Tabasco sauce. The vinegar neutralizes the grease… on everything." Michael hesitated before taking a seat. "You got sucked in by the joint?"

"What?"

"This is the hangout for the high school crowd. The girls come because the guys come… the guys come in case the waitresses bend over." Michael shrugged. "The whole human dating thing."

"Ah." Max gestured to the movement inside the restaurant. "I'm here for the one who should have been a 50s actress. She has a great look, even under the mascara and Native jewelry."

"Liz Parker." Michael nodded. "The look is new this past semester. Her father is pissed and lets every guy that gets near her know it."

"And have you had a run-in with Mr. Parker?"

"She's not my type." Michael leaned over the table to make sure he had Max's attention. "If you were with us. Where have you been?"

"You've been living your life and I've been living mine." Max waved him off as their waitress appeared in the form of a bored older women. "Dasani in the unopened bottle and the Will Smith Burger with the… Orbit Rings instead of fries."

"In accordance with house rules, if you insist at seating outside the main building, we ask that you pre-pay." The woman droned as she scribbled down his order.

"That's fine. Mikey, you want anything?" Max reached into his wallet and pulled out his credit card.

"Just a coke." Michael waved him off. "And don't call me Mikey."

"Fine." She took the card and wandered away.

Michael began to look very annoyed and Max immediately felt that was a bad thing. "I didn't come here to talk to you guys. I needed away and my car steered itself over here. I'm just trying to clear my head before college and a job beckons."

"Well, you ran into us." Michael bit out. "Answer some questions and if I'm satisfied… I'll let you go."

"What do you want to know? Specifically. No generalized questions." Max sat back in his chair and waited.

"Okay. Where have you been for the last 12 years?"

"L.A."

"How did you get there?"

"In a car."

"Don't be a smart ass with me." Michael shook his head. "Who took you?"

"Kal Langley."

"The movie producer? Why?"

"Some… dormant sense of loyalty sprang up when we nearly died in that cave-in and to keep himself from having to do too much or drive himself crazy ignoring his engineered conscience… he took us home with him and lied to us for the next seven years."

"Why are we here?"

"Damn government weather balloons and a tipsy driver." Max shrugged. That desperation was back in his fellow alien's eyes. "Michael, listen carefully to me. We're not leaving Earth. We're stuck here with little hope of going home. You and your sister just have to get used to living as humans for the rest of your lives."

"No. No. That can't be it. There's got to be a reason we're here. You don't just fly who knows how many light years, crash, and then forget the whole mission." Michael caught himself just as he was about to speak too loud.

"Trust me, it's better left." He tried to calm the teen across from him but he wouldn't be calmed.

"No. You know something and you have to tell me."

"Be quiet. It's not something that humans need to be hearing." Max muttered and ducked his head. "You don't want to hear what I have to tell you."

"Maybe I do." Not loud but not calm either.

"Your sister… is really your fiancé. She's really my sister and there's one more of us. I'm a king, she's a queen, Isabel's a princess and you're a war commander. We're reincarnated from the old royal family to go back but they screwed up because it's been 50 years and no one has come for us and our protectors hate us. That give you any clue how screwed we are?" Max sat back just in time because his dinner came to him in the hands of his favorite waitress rather than the surly old woman who had taken his order. "How's America's sweetheart doing?"

"Honestly… I didn't think you'd come back here after the other day." Liz set down his food and delivered the drinks. "Sorry it's a little late. Agnes has this habit of taking unauthorized breaks."

"Usually when your food is getting cold." Michael added. "Hey Liz."

"Hey Michael. It speaks." Liz teased him. "So… what'd I miss in Mr. Evans' ongoing saga to relax?"

"Not a thing. I've gotten lonely though. I need a movie and company urgently." Max flashed her a dazzling smile. "Tonight?"

"Mmmm…" Liz winced. "I'm closing tonight."

"And tomorrow night and the night after that." Maria appeared out of nowhere. She leaned on the table until she was eye level with Max. "Forget it."

"Why do you hate me?" Max took a breath and looked to his companions before looking back at the blonde. "I'm a nice guy. I tip well. You have no reason to hate me… unless of course you dream of me and harbor lustful thoughts about what you want to do with my body…" Maria inhaled through her nose, stood up straight and stalked off. Max could only smile. "I think I hit a button."

"I… have to get back to my tables inside…" Liz started to back away. "I work tomorrow night too but I'm off during the day… before five…"

"Maybe I'll stop by around lunch. Will you show up?"

"It'll be easier than you think." Liz bit her lip then turned and disappeared into the restaurant.

"Any clue what that means?" Max turned to Michael, who was just staring at him. "What?"

"You date?"

"Yeah."

"And nothing happens? To them?"

"No." Max shook his head and then tilted it as he conceded to a point. "I'm the best lover nineteen women have ever had." Drenching his food in Tabasco and opening his water bottle, he held Michael's gaze. "You haven't?"

"No. Didn't know what would happen."

"Not much unusual does. I was scared the first time but Kal didn't let me believe it'd be any different. Thing was, he was waiting to see if it would be." Max shrugged a little, grimacing at the greasy burger in his mouth. "Aside from prolonged orgasm, it's pretty normal, I guess. The ladies think it's the best."

"They don’t suspect?" Michael stirred his soda nervously.

"Nah. But in L.A… all the girls are into yoga and spiritual enlightenment. They just think they've reached the next plane. These 'enlightened' women seem to think that men are only good for sex and furthering their careers, if even that." He brought his eyes down to his food, wrinkled his nose, and then lifted them up to his fellow. "That all the questions?"

"Why'd you get the protector and we didn't?"

Max had to think about how to answer that one. He chewed his food and sipped his water. "Kal's asleep, waiting his turn to drive because it's a very long trip. He wakes up on impact. The one driving died instantly, he had something he wasn't supposed to. Alien version of heroine. Kal beats it out of there. Two of his buddies were dead and the last just as groggy as he was. Grateful to be alive and off Antar, he runs. When he turns around, the other survivor is right behind him. Then the military arrives the next day. They take everything, the ship, the weather balloon and every piece of debris they could find. When they get to us, the two of them get nervous. They don't want anything to do with us, they just wanted off Antar but they're… slave class beings. Their DNA is coded to serve. They weren't allowed to let us die without a fight… so they go back. They try to intercept the truck carrying us out and they get run over, not quite understanding what the truck was. After healing each other, they spring us from the base, store us where no one will find us and disappear. Kal stuck around town until a production company came to town to film a movie. He went to California when they left. He didn't say what happened to the other one.

"November 13, 1989, he gets this feeling. Hasn't felt it since that day he tried to run. Some incompetent civilian programmed the wrong coordinates into a test missile. You, Isabel and I had come out of our pods that following morning and we waited for Tess. Hours later, she's still inside and suddenly the world is falling down around us. You and Isabel go out the opening and I get trapped inside with Tess. The rocks prompt a premature arrival for her and I never see you two until the other day. Kal shows up, dusts us off and takes us home. Just so he can make sure we don't fulfill our destiny on our own. Does that answer your question? My food's getting cold."

August 9, 2001

Max took a seat at the counter near the open back room and inadvertently caught some conversation wafting out the door. "Stuff it, Maria!"

"Liz, he's going to break your heart."

"It's my heart." The tone was cool and even… and very deadly. "You got your summer romance and you got trashed because you didn't see what I see."

"Don't even dare…"

"I do dare. You didn't anticipate him leaving. He slept with you and he left town. Boohoo. Everyone knew what was going on except for you but you did, didn't you. You just thought if you hoped and prayed it would turn out differently." Deathly silent pause. "This is my summer romance. We have one year of high school left and I don't plan to stick around next summer. This is it for me. He leaves next week and whatever happens between us until then, happens. I want it to. I have no illusions."

"But you do."

"Maybe… but those are allowed. I know that he'll be gone and off to college and I'll be here… in Roswell… in high school. I know the end result. I'm ready for it. For once in my life… I'll let something good happen that will leave me broken… at least in the heart department. There will be some attachments but none to this town." Some lockers shut noisily. "I know what kind of guy he is. You don't. That's the difference."

"He's using you."

"Maybe… but maybe he needs to. I know some… personal things about him. I'm willing to be used. Let me make a mistake. It's not your job to protect me." Liz entered the restaurant and stopped cold when she spotted Max. "Hi! Been waiting long?"

"I just got here." Max flashed her a smile. "I uh… I actually see quite a few movies and I've seen everything playing here. How about we take a drive?"

"I'd like that." Liz wound her finger through her belt loop and shifted on her feet. "So… did you want to grab something to eat first?"

"Not really. I think my arteries have gotten clogged already." Taking her hand, he led her out the doors. "One quick stop at the grocery store and we'll be on our way."

Liz endured the short ride to the store and sat in the car while he disappeared within. Out of curiosity, she picked up the portfolio at her feet. Flipping through, she saw image after image of porcelain beauties in sexy poses and dramatic stances. Dark make-up, shimmering eyelids, exposed body parts without being perverse. Every photo was breathtaking and gorgeous. When Liz examined the images closer, most of them were of a blue-eyed blonde with obvious adoration in her eyes.

Further wondering on the girl was prevented when Max appeared with a basket full of items. He flashed her that brilliant smile as he began unpacking it. He opened a brand new cooler, then dumped half a bag of ice into it. Then several deli-trays were placed inside. More ice then a box and a bottle. More ice. The cooler was placed in the trunk. Then a small basket was produced and he emptied several little boxes into it. Bewildering, Liz watched him set the basket and a plastic bag in the backseat and climb in. "Let's drive."

"Where would you like to go?" Liz turned slightly in her seat, sliding the portfolio discreetly to the ground.

"We'll let the car decide and you can tell me all about growing up in Roswell."

--

They ended up on the grass in the middle of the park, eating various fruits and vegetables out of the deli cartons with brand new sets of silverware. They drank sparkling grape juice out of glass goblets. Then there was a very fine cheesecake. Liz groaned as she sat up. "That's me. Liz Parker under the microscope. Tell me about you."

"Not much to tell. The official story is that my polygamous father and his wives died in a plane crash. My half-sister and I were taken in by an estranged uncle. I grew up in Hollywood with the producers downstairs, the actors in the backyard, the actresses in the bedroom and screenwriters everywhere I turned. While my uncle was making a buck, I was taking care of my sister. Then when he had a reputation to make, he introduced us to his crowd, started taking us to movie premieres, got me into photography and Tess into private modeling. Here I am."

"Private modeling?"

"She gets gifts from top designers. She wears what she likes and I take pictures of her to show them what girls like. She'll be in the their top demographic for another seven years and then we'll have to find something else to keep her entertained."

Liz studied him for a moment. "Why is that the official story?"

"When I was thirteen… I found out that Tess wasn't really my sister. It was just an easier thing to say to a couple of kids who didn't have anyone else in the world but each other." Max shook his head from side to side as if it didn't matter. "Sometimes it's easier to believe the lie. She's never known any different."

"What's the real reality about your parents?"

"My mother may or may not be alive somewhere and my father died in the military. I think Tess is really an orphan."

"Why the lie, though? Why let you believe your father was a bad man?"

"Famous Hollywood producer suddenly acquires two wards and if there's a chance my mother is alive, we would have been shoved off on her." Max lied. "It was a story his buddies would believe and accept."

"A famous producer?" Liz's lips quirked up. "Anybody I've heard of?"

"Probably. You know that movie coming out soon? About the cartoon monsters?"

"Yeah?"

"He's backing it."

"Kal Langley in association with Pixar. Kal Langley is your uncle." Liz shook her head in disbelief. "Isn't he like… a billionaire? Couldn't you have gone somewhere more exotic if you wanted to get away?"

"Because of my sister." Max nodded his head when she made an expression that showed she remembered. "Plus, he doesn't exactly like to have me out of his sight. He likes to know exactly where I am."

"Controlling?"

"Careful." Took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "His delusional little world relies on nothing changing. Not me, not Tess, and certainly not the millions of dollars to be made per movie in the industry or the people who spend the money to watch them."

"Wow."

"Yeah. I try to live in reality but… Kal has contacts that can make life really easy or really hard."

"How do you mean?"

"Let's put it this way. My uncle is so careful that he knows more about any of the girls I've slept with than I do. He probably knows what brand of condom I used with each girl. I couldn't possibly tell you for certain that I used anything."

"Doesn't that scare you?"

"No. Not really. It's his way of parenting. It works for us. We haven't had an embarrassing conversation since I was 13. It serves us well."

Liz shifted slightly on the grass. "I guess all the money, connections and advantages in the world don't make anyone happy."

"They don't." Max sipped his grape juice and reclined. "It's not a perfect environment by any means. I learned about familial love from Tess, who heard about it from a teacher at her school. I tried to explain to her how it worked but I don't think I did a good job. That's when I started paying attention to the movies I watched, the relationships explored. I watched a few movies with mentally… deficient people and realized I had to make it better for her. I already felt this brotherly love for her but I had to make sure she knew it was there."

"That's really good."

"She's great. She doesn't read too well and if it can't be demonstrated, she can't do it. She loves to pose for pictures. I have to make three sets. One for her, one for the file and one for whoever I'm sending it to."

"How old is she?"

"18. Those teachers are determined to teach her how to read. But she learns so fast. I learned to play chess once. Had a kid over to play with me. She spent the next day watching a chess tournament on some foreign channel. She's been kicking my ass at it ever since." The silence stretched between them. "Did I scare you off yet?"

"Not a chance." Liz shook her head.

"Are you working Friday?"

"No."

"Don't make any plans. I want the whole day." He saw the ghost of a smile before she turned her head away. "I want to take pictures of you. I want enough time to get them developed before the weekend's over."

"I bet you say that to all the girls."

"Maybe but none of the other girls had a look like yours."

"I'll think about it."

"I'll stop by Friday morning for your answer." Sitting up, he set aside his glass and took her hand in his. He laid kisses on the knuckles. "It's getting late."

"Yeah, I should get home." Before she could move away, he had his arms around her and she was relaxing in his embrace as he explored her mouth. Max supported her as she melted into him and nearly dropped her when a floodgate was opened. All those stories she had told about herself flashed in his mind. Gently, he pulled away. "Wow."

"Wow works for me, too." He cleared his throat. "Um, you're going to be late if we don’t get going." While they cleaned their mess, Max couldn't stop staring at her. Why on Earth had that happened?

TBC

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Part 8 – August 10, 2001

Post by DMartinez » Thu Sep 22, 2005 1:28 am

Part 8 – August 10, 2001

Max leaned on the trunk of his car as he adjusted the settings on his camera. He picked the old one for this. Liz was inside the beauty parlor having her hair and make-up done to his specifications. He was so relaxed, that Michael and Isabel snuck up on him unawares. "Isabel can be a model but I hate to tell you, Michael baby, you're one ugly son of a gun."

"That's not why we're here. I want to know if it's all true." Isabel demanded.

"Yeah." Max nodded and peered down into the view finder.

"Why are you here if you're not here to take us with you?" Isabel ran a hand through her long blonde hair.

"Your dad know you're dating that fine young lawyer at his firm?" Max clicked off a shot of her stunned face, followed by a shot of Michael's angry one.

"I… How did you know that?"

"I have eyes."

"I thought you said there was nothing going on between you two." Michael turned narrowed eyes on his sister.

"We're getting off the subject." Isabel shrugged him off.

"I told Michael. I'm just taking a vacation. I never meant to find you two." Max sighed heavily.

"This isn't getting us anywhere." Isabel sank onto the bumper of the car. "If you're my brother, what do you know about our parents?"

"Dad's been dead a long time and Mom could still be alive but who knows. I don't keep in touch with anyone and they don't care to get in touch with me. I'm just as stranded as the two of you."

"But you have a protector. We've got Mom and Dad but they don't know about us." Suddenly, Max realized she'd been crying over this. He had never put much emphasis on it because Kal had said it would be useless.

"That's a good plan. Be normal. Be a cheerleader, join the NHS. Play football. Who cares?" Max changed exposures slowly. "I was never one for football but wrestling's not bad. Surfing when I can get away. Kind of hate what seawater does to my hair, though."

"That's it. Drop a bomb on us and go back to normal?" Isabel scoffed at him. "What kind of king are you?"

"I'm not a king. I'm an incoming freshman at UCLA. I'm going to be a photographer, professionally. That's it." Max set the camera in the trunk and pulled Isabel up off the car. She tried to pull away but he gripped her hands tightly. "Michael, watch my stuff. We'll be back. I'm waiting for someone, just don't let her leave."

Michael crossed his arms indignantly and started to protest but Max had already pulled Isabel down the street. Max sat her down on a step outside some place that had yet to open and crouched down in front of her. "Isabel, listen to me. I know everything. I know how and why and what for and I wish to whoever it is that we are supposed to pray to that I didn't know a damn thing."

"Tell me." She demanded.

"You're my sister. I imagine that at some point we were very close. You betrayed me though. You went to my enemy and plotted to take over and he killed us all."

"What?" Isabel froze.

"I told you that you didn't want to know." Max shifted carefully, these pants were every expensive and very hard to clean. "Listen to me. I don't know what you two thought but no one wants us and anyone that did… they were probably murdered either not long after we were sent here or some time in the last 50 years. It's a war… started by me and ended by you. Kivar won. The planet is his. We were a last hope but things went way wrong from execution to delivery. I'm just doing what Kal told me to do. Move on. Try to live a normal existence."

"How can you be so calm about this?" Isabel demanded. "Oh wait, you've only had these answers for years."

"It's not my fault. At least you've got parents who are as close to real as you can get." Max stood and strode back to the car where Liz was standing rather awkwardly under Michael's amused gaze. Max had to stop and admire his work. "That's perfect. Absolutely perfect."

"I feel stupid. I can't believe I let you talk me into this." Liz resisted the urge to wipe the bright red off her lips.

"Stay absolutely still." He motioned for her to stay put. After he had his camera in hand, he snapped a shot of her where she stood. "Now, go stand by that wall. It looks great, I promise you."

"What kind of camera is that?" She crossed her arms self-consciously as he snapped away.

"An old one. You don't want the details, those are boring. It's a miracle I can find film for it anymore." Max motioned to the car. "Get in. We've got so many places to hit in a specific order for the lighting." He turned to his fellow alien. "Tell your sister to relax. Life is full of goodness if you look in the right places. Kinda like that ever elusive chocolate-covered fudge piece."

"Are you trying to tell me that 'life is like a box of chocolates'?" Michael couldn't contain his laughter.

"I didn't say that and laugh if you must but that movie got me my first camera and paid for my supplies for the next two years. When I'm a world famous photographer, remember that I tried to give you advice. Excuse me. The beautiful Ms. Parker and I need to finish today's shoot."

--

Liz smoothed the vintage dress and looked around the hotel room. Max had used several rolls of film on her around town in the look he had prescribed for her. It was a far cry from the hoop earrings, heavy mascara, dark eye shadow, tiny Ts, and low slung jeans she had been wearing since much earlier that year. She never really posed much for cameras and she alternately loved and hated it while Max gave her instruction on how to stand and look. She watched him line up the used film on a tray and then pluck a fresh roll from a box. "I saw your portfolio in the car."

"That right?" Max carefully wound the film in the weak light of the bathroom.

"Do you think I could pose like that?" Liz tilted her head at her reflection in the mirror. "Like that redhead?"

Max turned to appraise her. He nodded slowly, smirking at the thought of how the redhead had ended up that way. Letting the camera hang around his neck, he reached over and rumpled the comforter. "Have a seat and trust me. Do you trust me?"

"Well, I know I shouldn't but there's something about you… and I do." Liz sat and waited for his instruction. His hands were gentle when he pushed her backward to lean on her elbows. He stood over her and shook his head. "What?"

"The dress ruins it. You can't do a good sexy shot in that dress, it's just… it's creepy." Max ran a hand through his hair and pretended to think. "Your purse is in the car. Go get it. When you get in here, wash your face, redo your make-up and there's a robe in the bathroom." He gestured and took off his camera. "I'll order us something and go pick it up."

"Um, okay." Liz nodded and got up off the bed. She caught his keys and ran down to get her purse, she just hoped she remembered to put most of her makeup in it. She ran into him on the way down and handed him the keys.

"You turn back into you and I'll be back with food." He kissed her cheek and kept going down to the car. The whole trip he debated with himself. He could take the pictures, or he could take the pictures and seduce her. Something about that air of innocence made him want to spoil it. Then there was that conversation he had overheard. She was waiting for him to make some move. Just then, his phone rang. "'Lo."

"Interview number one is a no-go. College will kill you. They all want you to relocate to New York. Here all you'll get is catalogs and 'aspiring actor' head shots."

"Kal, come on."

"I'm serious."

"Then screw it. I'll do it the hard way."

"Want me to cancel the other interview?"

"No." Max sighed. How could he get away from it all if he couldn't get away from it all. "No, I'll still be back for the interview. I'll have more to add to the portfolio. Can't hurt to pad it now."

"Listen, Max. I know that you're relaxing or whatever in Hicksville, USA but I gotta tell you, Lady Tess is getting on my last nerve."

"What's five more days?" Max hung up the phone and turned off the ringer. He was on autopilot for the duration of his trip after that. He was about to walk up to that hotel room and tell Liz to call it a day but the second he opened that door, inspiration struck.

--

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Post by DMartinez » Thu Sep 22, 2005 1:31 am

He was about to walk up to that hotel room and tell Liz to call it a day but the second he opened that door, inspiration struck. Setting the bags down, he grabbed the camera and slid to his knees, snapping pictures as Liz blow-dried her hair on the bed and bobbed her head to the music blaring out of the little clock radio. Her hair was almost dry and blew around her done-up face. When she saw him, she screamed and jumped, an expression he caught on film.

"Sorry." Liz smiled sheepishly. "My hair was bothering me and I just went ahead and took a shower. Hope you don't mind."

"I'm glad you did. These are some great shots. I can always crop the hair-dryer out of the shot later." Max presented her with cartons from the one Chinese restaurant in the town. "I like everything. I just hope there's something you'll like in here."

His earlier worries were forgotten the second he captured her on camera slurping a noodle into her mouth. The look of disgust when he slid an oyster into his mouth. At one point, she had gotten a hold of the camera and snapped a shot of him sucking another one out of its shell. She tried to sit demurely in his robe but he caught glimpses of those shapely legs every now and again.

When they laid on the bed with the fortune cookies, the tone became heavier. Liz read her fortune. "The cricket plays all day and spends winter in the cold."

"That sucked." Max nodded and opened his. "Dreams without risk are not dreams." He gave her a look. "Right."

Liz rolled onto her stomach. "You are such an old man."

"What?" He blinked at her.

"You just… you're so laid back but at the same time you're old. You just… weren't you ever just a little kid?"

"Maybe. But maybe I was a little kid for LA's elite. Maybe it's a different kind of little kid."

Liz turned that over in her mind. "Didn't you have picnics or ride bikes or skinned knees?"

"Sure. Tess and I would eat out on the patio sometimes. Plenty of skinned knees and all that stuff. I've never felt like a little kid though. I always had to look after Tess and make sure she stayed out of the way when Kal was working or had people over."

"Pretty tough." Max looked over her features. He reached over for the camera and snapped off a few shots of her serious face. "Maybe that's why you like the camera. You get to steal other people's moments."

"Maybe." He flipped the shoulder of the robe off her shoulder and snapped a picture of just the shoulder before getting part of her face in the shot. "Maybe I just use the camera to trick pretty things into bed."

"There were men in your portfolio." Liz narrowed her eyes at him.

"For show."

"I don't think you're that shallow."

"Maybe I'm just that depraved."

"I don't think you are. I think that under all the old man and expensive clothes is a vulnerable little boy."

"Oh, so you're the depraved one."

"Max." She furrowed her brow at him and he snapped a few more pictures. "Put the camera down."

"Nope." Shook his head and wound the film to the next shot. "I like you and the camera likes you, too." He kept his eyes on the view finder as he climbed off the bed to get a different angle on her. He was so intent on snapping the pictures that he never really registered that she had shrugged off the robe completely until he moved back around her. He stopped himself before he could take a picture of her in all her nude glory. "Wow."

He set the camera aside and leaned over her. Her hands shook as they reached for the buttons on his shirt. Lip caught between teeth, she focused on a button at a time. Max helped her remove the garment. She reached for his pants but he distracted her with a kiss. His hands lightly ran over her body before he pulled away. "Max," she whispered. "I've never… ever… done this before."

"That's ok." Max ran his eyes over her face. "I'm not going to hurt you."

"Liar." She managed a small smile.

"Not on purpose. Better?"

"Yeah."

"I promise to make this memorable for you." Max lowered his face to hers, nipping at her lips for a moment before claiming her mouth. Almost instantly images flooded his mind. Every touch and kiss carried some great emotional weight from her, embedding it in his soul. Before it was near to over, he was the one with tears in his eyes as the emotional weight built and replayed, forcing forward emotions he had missed in his overly privileged life.

--

Liz could hardly bear to tear herself away from him when he finally dropped her off. Night surrounded the two of them, standing in the shadows in front of the Crashdown as the minutes ticked away. Max had to smile every time he caught her with her bottom lip between her teeth. She always did that when she was nervous; when she was thinking; when she was going to embarrass herself by asking a question she thought was absurd. The day at the park, she had told him everything she could think of about herself and yet… experiencing it the way she had, in her memories and mind… she hadn't talked about herself at all. Max had to break the ice. "Do you work tomorrow?"

"Yeah." She sighed and folded her hands into his shirt. "All day. I get off at eight though."

"I just, I'm going to be developing tomorrow. I just didn't want you to think I had blown you off. Once I start developing, I lose all track of time." Max rubbed her back where it began sloping to her behind.

"I work early bird Sunday. I wouldn't be much fun for three hours anyway. In bed by eleven so five doesn't seem so early." Liz turned her face upward and then tried to pretend she was looking up at the sky instead of hoping for a kiss.

Max nuzzled her neck, planting kisses along her collar bone. "Monday?"

"I'm free that morning… until eleven."

"I'm leaving Wednesday afternoon. I promised Tess that I'd be home before she got out of school, Thursday. I don't want to rush the trip. I gain two hours on the trip back but it's still a good 18 hour trip or so."

"I'll see if I can't trade my Wednesday morning shift." Liz finally got her kiss and had to pull away when she felt a light on her face. Her father had turned on the restaurant lights. "I have to go. Dad's waiting."

"I don't imagine he'd be happy with this."

"Nope. You've been driving him crazy since he realized that you are a source of tension between Maria and I. He thinks she's got this infallible judgment of character. If only he knew what I do."

"And what's that?" Max tilted her face up to look into her face.

"That Maria is wrong more often than not. That I am a much better judge of character. That you aren't some stuck up Californian out to break a small town girl's heart… or that even if you did, I wanted it broken." Liz let her eyes drift aside. "Those pictures of me on the bed…"

"Will never leave my possession. I'll send you copies of the others."

"Don't… I mean. No goodbyes tonight. We'll do that later." Liz shook her head, lip between her teeth.

"You better go inside before I'm tempted to throw you down on the hood of my car."

She blushed, pecked his lips and disappeared into the restaurant. Max stood in that spot until long after the street was once more darkened. He had known girls who would wear a trash bag if Ms. Wang herself considered it fashionable but he had never met a girl who would wear a hideous dress just to make her mother feel some pride in an accomplishment. It was going to be harder to leave Liz than he had originally thought.

TBC

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