The Long & Winding Road: Book 1 - Dry Lightening (CC, Mature) Chapter 13 - 9/16/2019

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

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KindredKandies
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Re: The Long & Winding Road: Book 1 - Dry Lightening (CC, Mature) Chapter 7 - 5/19/2018

Post by KindredKandies » Sat May 19, 2018 8:32 pm

A/N: It's great to have RF back! :)

Eva: No, the years have been hard on all of them, one way or another. Maria’s in a bad position and with what she’s just witnessed she’s not sure what to believe or who to trust. It’s hard to see them like this for sure – and as a writer yourself, you know how difficult it is to write them in painful situations too. ;) Maria’s trust is one thing Michael doesn’t really believe he deserves, but what it would do for him to have it.

Parker1947: Thank you! There is so much going on and they’ve all been through so much. They really need more time to process and work through it, but unfortunately they’re working on a very tight deadline and things are going to have to be, shall we say, expedited.

xmag: Well, it’s one story that definitely won’t be easy to tell or to hear, but it is one that also must be told.

Why are the humans necessary to the plan? Just wait and see because that will be revealed. The human contingent of this group is vital to the success of their mission.

Kyle has paid a high price and it wasn’t easy for him to reach a place in his life where he was able to move on to some degree. What he went through left mental and emotional scars that he had to find a way to live with. It’s a shame they never pursued the aftereffects of his situation on the show because that would’ve made a good storyline. Of course… there were several pretty major things that happened on the show that were just swept under the rug. Then again, that makes great fodder for us writers, doesn’t it? 



Book One – Chapter 7

October 13, 2016 – Pete’s Liftoff Gas Station, Outskirts of Roswell, NM – 0617 Hours

“You’re wrong about him, Maria,” Isabel said, her tone quiet but fierce. “There are physical changes, but where it matters most he’s still Michael Guerin. We were separated from him, delivered to our personal quarters and left to wait.”

Max cleared his throat when he saw her swallow convulsively. “We were told that we had to be bonded to the Granolith if there was any chance of turning the tide of the war.” And they’d had no idea what that entailed. He controlled his response to the memories this conversation dredged to the surface. “We weren’t full-blooded Antarian as we had been in our previous lives, so the process to bond us to the Granolith was very… physical.” His hands clenched at his sides and he hid the grimace when he felt the sweat collecting on his palms. “I was fitted with Zan’s breastplate. Isabel was fitted with Vilondra’s wrist plate that would match the one Rath wore when they were betrothed. They were to be bonded together.”

“Michael wasn’t actually a descendent of the royal line so in addition to the purity of his Antarian bloodlines being compromised by Human DNA the fitting for Rath’s armor was…” she closed her eyes for a moment as she fought for control.

“His armor was parasitic.” Max stopped there when his sister motioned slightly to let him know she would pick up the tale from that point. He could see her struggling with her emotions and he reached out to place a hand on her shoulder.

“I don’t understand,” Maria said slowly. “How can something like that be parasitic?”

Isabel reached up to cover her brother’s hand, squeezing it and drawing comfort from his touch. “I heard him cry out from down the hall. It was an awful sound.” As she began to speak she found herself back in her quarters on the day he had been fitted with Rath’s armor. He hadn’t cried out; he had screamed in agony and the sound had made her skin crawl.

Max had barked out a sharp order to the guards situated outside their quarters, insisting they be allowed to pass. Their guards had simply bowed their heads and taken a single step back, their backs stiff and their eyes staring straight ahead. They had run through the corridors until they reached the room Michael had been taken to just as another scream seared the air.

They hadn’t been prepared for the sight that greeted them.

Michael had been laying on a metal table, naked and restrained by an invisible force. The table had appeared to be more liquid than solid, like a living thing. They had been held back when they tried to intercede on Michael’s behalf. The soldiers stationed around the table would reach out and touch certain points and when they did the liquid metal would twist and form around Michael, snapping the bones in his shoulders and chest and then fusing them into the shape that was required to fit Rath’s armor.

The soldiers’ faces remained impassive as they went about their business as if they weren’t subjecting a living being to torture of the cruelest nature. She and Max had been helpless to help Michael and finally they had been removed from the room. Nothing had removed the sounds of his pain from their minds or the sight of his face, contorted in agony as his body was restructured to fit Rath’s armor.


“It was barbaric,” she rasped. “They didn’t even give him anything for the pain.”

Maria had been watching Isabel, studying her and feeling her pain as she related what they had witnessed being done to Michael. She believed her. How could she not? Hadn’t she seen Isabel’s empathetic response when he had become ill after participating in the sweat on the reservation? There was no way she could fake those emotions.

Liz gave Maria a nudge, guiding her into a nearby folding chair when she looked like she might fall down. “The word written on his back, it resembles Latin, and the tattoos reminded me of a complex form of hieroglyphics. What do they mean and what’s the significance of the glyphs?”

“It’s a combination of Latin and Antarian,” Max answered, glancing at his sister when she moved around restlessly. “It means the King’s Sword. As for the glyphs, you’ve seen the simplified version before on the wall of the cave River Dog took us to.”

Maria’s mind was starting to turn over ideas, organizing and discarding, as pieces fell into place and she saw the truth of their return. “The tattoos, they seem to move across his skin when he moves, almost like they’re alive.”

He shook his head. “We’re not sure about that, but it has something to do with being bonded with the Granolith.” He observed Maria, recognizing the concentration in her features. He wanted to make this easier for her, for all of them, so he straightened up and cleared his throat. “I have them as well.”

Liz winced when her head turned so quickly she heard and felt her neck pop. She couldn’t stop herself from staring as he waved a hand over himself and the tattoos on his skin were revealed to her curious gaze. Next to her, she could feel Maria resisting the urge to back away, could hear her swallow audibly as she turned her attention to Isabel.

The tall blonde nodded and concentrated, revealing the intricate pattern of lavender on her skin, physical proof of her position as the Princess of Antar.

Maria took a halting step closer to the other woman, her eyes tracing over the flower. It only took a moment to recognize it as one that had been featured in her mom’s shop. She had loved its sweet scent. “It’s lavender.” Her breath caught as she continued. “Mom loved it.”

“So does mine.”

Liz lifted her eyebrows. “Your mom?”

“Yes,” her eyes locked on Maria as she answered, “my mom, Diane Evans.” A moment of shared understanding passed between them and she relaxed slightly when Maria released a ragged breath and nodded.

“Latin and lavender,” Maria glanced at Liz, knowing there was something significant about that combination.

Liz felt excitement thrum through her veins as she made the connection. “The Romans.” She looked at Max. “They’ve been here before.”

“Many times,” he said with a nod. “The Granolith isn’t Antarian. The truth is, no one knows where it came from or has any actual understanding of what it is. It just appeared on Antar several centuries ago. The king at the time touched it and it did two things. First, it gave the gift of remapping DNA and second it bonded him with the Granolith and became the throne of Antar.”

“So your family has been bonded to the Granolith for centuries?”

He gave Liz a small smile when she started theorizing. “No. Actually, it was Kivar’s ancestor that first bonded to the Granolith. But over time the power began to be abused and used for selfish gain so the bloodline was refused. When the time came for a new king to be bonded the next ancestor in his line was rejected. At that point our bloodline became royalty because one of our ancestors took advantage of a moment of chaos and touched the Granolith.”

“Which made you the rightful heir,” she said and nodded.

“Yeah, exactly. Years passed and eventually the people learned to alter themselves, granting them resistance to viruses and diseases of their environment. Over time their mental abilities also began to advance, developing far beyond anything we could’ve imagined.”

Maria had tuned them out at some point, the headache that had been making its presence known slowly building over the course of the conversation until it had become a giant agonizing pain that pulsed with every beat of her heart. She shifted, her body unconsciously protesting the discomfort of the metal folding chair. It had been years since she’d had a headache this bad and without even giving it any thought she knew it had been related to the alien nonsense she’d been surrounded with before they had left Earth.

Her stomach rolled sickeningly as flashes of the horrific scenes from just hours ago exploded in her mind. She was still fighting to reconcile what she’d witnessed with her own eyes against what she knew of the Michael she’d known. But he wasn’t the same boy she’d known, was he? This man was hardened by war, detached from the softer emotions, and in so many ways a complete stranger.

He hadn’t been a coldblooded killer back then, but what she’d seen him do to her… no, she believed Isabel. It wasn’t her mom that he’d… there was just no way to gloss over what she’d seen with her own eyes. She hadn’t been speaking glibly when she’d used the words ‘butcher’ and ‘slaughter’ in reference to the way he’d killed the Skin masquerading as her mother. There was just no civilized word that described that scene with any accuracy.

She just couldn’t eradicate that image from her mind. Knowing it was a Skin helped on one level, but the sight of her mother’s face twisted in agony, her mother’s voice screaming as her body was sliced open, prevented her from letting it go. The fact that it had assumed her mom’s identity down to the smallest gesture and fooled her into believing it was Amy Deluca terrified her. From everything she had learned over the past few hours she knew it was unlikely her mom was still alive.

What Michael had done had been done to save her life. He had come back with the others to change the past and prevent this very thing from happening. Maybe he hadn’t expressed the softer emotions, but his reaction to a threat against her had been fueled by raw emotion. He’d always reacted in that manner though, hadn’t he? Not to the same degree of course, but his reactions to a threat had always been to act swiftly. And this time the enemy had been poised on the precipice; her life had been hanging in the balance without any knowledge of the danger on her part.

Why? After everything that had happened prior to their departure, why would he react in such a way to a threat to her life? Killing to protect her, yeah, she could see that, especially given the soldier he had become. But to kill, being driven by such rage to do what he’d done to that Skin, to be able to see beyond the façade presented by the Skin and to, to butcher it, she didn’t understand that.

He had destroyed everything between them, set a chain of events into motion that they could never recover from. Why not just simply kill the Skin and get on with the plan? Why was there so much rage motivating every blow he’d made against the enemy?

“There are physical changes, but where it matters most he’s still Michael Guerin.”

She closed her eyes against the dim lighting when even that slight illumination caused the pain to worsen. Pain that wouldn’t even be a drop in the bucket compared to what Michael had suffered. She swallowed down the bile that rose up in her throat as she recalled what Isabel had told them about Michael’s experience during the process that would make him more… what, aesthetically pleasing?

Her heart pounded harder, its thunderous beating threatening to send it catapulting out of her chest, and the blood rushed through her veins, blocking out all other sound. She leaned back and pressed her thumb and fingers hard against her brow, grateful for the momentary respite it gave her.

“Headache?”

Somehow Liz’s soft voice cut right through the white noise. She couldn’t stop the grimace of pain that crossed her features in response to the sound though. “Understatement,” she answered, the words barely a whisper.

“You’re really dehydrated, Maria.” She wrapped her fingers around Maria’s, drawing her attention to the cold bottle in her hand. “Here, keep taking small sips.”

“Maria.” Max called her name quietly. “Maria, I can take the pain away,” he offered, careful to keep the commanding tone of the king out of his voice. The last thing he wanted was to make her feel as if he was giving orders and taking the choice out of her hands because that wasn’t his intention.

She was vaguely aware of Max moving closer, but remaining far enough away to avoid crowding her. “No.” She winced when the response came out sharper than she intended. A stray thought rolled through her mind, giving her a way to soften her refusal of his offer, and the slightest hint of a smile graced her taut features. “Not into TMI flashes of my bestie.”

A look passed between Max and Liz, a thousand memories of a shared past that had been cut short and torn them apart.

“Liz, there’s a bucket of ice in the cooler,” Isabel said, interrupting the moment. Part of her regretted it because she knew what it meant for them to be together in any capacity but there was a small part of her that couldn’t bear to be witness to the emotions that had managed to survive all they had been through.

“Ice?” Liz asked, her head jerking as she forced her gaze away from Max.

“We need some for her head. It’ll help ease the pain and allow her to drink without getting sick.” She shrugged and looked away. “My mom used to get terrible headaches and Dad always put her to bed with an icepack.”

Maria was aware of it when Liz moved away. Even with the throbbing pain pulsing through her head she could hear how unsteady Isabel’s voice was when she spoke of her parents. She could hear the fear there, the undisguised anguish for the loss of two relationships that had in many ways defined who she was.

She inhaled slowly, forcing down the nausea that continued to remind her of its presence, and opened her eyes to look at Max and Isabel. After giving her eyes a few seconds to adjust to the light she focused on the tall blonde, but when she spoke her words were directed at both of them.

“There’s a possibility that the Skins haven’t located your parents.”

Max reached over and rested a hand on his sister’s arm, a warm, steadying presence. “What makes you think that?”

“Your dad spent all of his time and resources trying to find you guys after you left. Nothing anyone said could persuade him from his belief that he would find you.” Failure after failure had taken its toll on Philip and Diane though. She could remember seeing them on a trip home to visit her mom and they had seemed so much older, as if losing their children was slowly draining the life from them. “They left Roswell and moved to the East Coast after several years.” Three years in which Philip’s law practice had foundered under his lack of attention. “It was just too hard on them to stay here.” She pressed the cold bottle against the back of her neck and sighed at the slight, but blessed, relief. “I know that’s probably more than you wanted to hear, but I just wanted you to know that for now, it’s completely possible that they’re alright.”

Isabel’s gratitude revealed itself in the slight easing of her rigid posture.

Max shot a furtive glance back towards the kitchen where Liz was looking for something to put the ice in. “Liz’s parents, are they still here?”

Maria couldn’t stop the brief smile at his hushed tone but it disappeared the second she shook her head and brought the jackhammer back to life. “Still living over the Crashdown.” Somehow she couldn’t imagine them ever leaving Roswell. It was where they’d grown up, married, started a business and raised a family. “Do you think the Skins will see them as a threat?”

“It’s not a matter of them being a threat.” Isabel moved to the window to look outside, wishing fervently that the stars hadn’t gone into hiding as the sun chased them away. The disappearance of the stars marked another day off of the clock that was ticking far too fast already. “The Skins don’t need to face a threat to attack. They’re ruthless and coldblooded and they kill for the pure enjoyment of it.”

“So they’re in danger.”

“We don’t know.” Max ran a hand through his hair, frustration evident in the gesture. “Yes, it’s a possibility,” he continued before she could ask the question. “It’s one we can’t dwell on. Our time is limited and there’s so much we have to tell you before we make our move.”

“I don’t understand. You’ve told us – “

“No.” Isabel turned from the window, her dark eyes hard and unrelenting. “What we’ve told you barely scratches the surface. Changing the past, preventing these events from happening, to make these things happen both of you must be prepared to undertake the mission.”

“Did you just say must?” Maria joked weakly. She shook her head when she caught the curious look Isabel shot in her direction. “Inside joke, sorry.” She leaned forward and pressed the heel of her hand against the bridge of her nose. “If we’re successful in changing the past, the future, whatever… how far back are we going?”

“We go back to where everything went wrong.”

“Max, please stop speaking in riddles,” she begged. “My head can’t take much more of it. In changing things will we be able to prevent Alex from dying?”

Isabel felt her heart pound in response to the question and she wasted no time in answering it with an irrevocable, “Yes.”
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keepsmiling7
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Re: The Long & Winding Road: Book 1 - Dry Lightening (CC, Mature) Chapter 7 - 5/19/2018

Post by keepsmiling7 » Mon May 21, 2018 1:38 pm

The site is open again.......finally.
And is this Michael still the Michael Guerin we once knew?
So the original Kivar bloodline refused......that's a good thing.
Poor Diane and Phillip, using all of their recourses to locate Max and Isabel.
Glad you are back,
Carolyn

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xmag
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Re: The Long & Winding Road: Book 1 - Dry Lightening (CC, Mature) Chapter 7 - 5/19/2018

Post by xmag » Tue May 22, 2018 12:13 pm

Oh, damn, I thought it was a new part! Well it was but I had read it a few days ago on the other site so it's not that new for me. Well I'll wait patiently for the next update, whatever the site :D .
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Michael : From day one, I knew you were the girl for me, I never wanted anyone else.

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Re: The Long & Winding Road: Book 1 - Dry Lightening (CC, Mature) Chapter 7 - 5/19/2018

Post by Eva » Tue May 29, 2018 4:20 am

And now we're talking!

Not only about the past (God, what was that? I felt myself getting sick just like Maria) but about their plan to change the past and prevent Alex from dying.
Take a look at Eva's world[/center]

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The Long & Winding Road: Book 1 - Dry Lightening (CC, Mature) Chapter 8 - 6/8/2018

Post by KindredKandies » Fri Jun 08, 2018 7:13 pm

keepsmiling7- We were happy to see the site back up again as well!

Well... some things are the same, some are completely different, and some, well... we'll have to wait and see.

Philip and Diane paid a heavy price for the loss of their children. It's just one more thing in a long list of things that Max and Isabel hope to correct with their mission.


xmag- Lol. Unfortunately, RF was down when the muse was ready to post ch 7. So we posted it on the other sites on time. We're so happy that RF is back! Oh thank you for being patient. :)


Eva- We're talking... and there's a lot to talk about.



Book One – Chapter 8

October 13, 2016 – Pete’s Liftoff Gas Station, Outskirts of Roswell, NM – 0653 Hours

Liz closed her eyes and rested her forehead on the door, oblivious to the feeling of cold permeating her skin. She had continued to listen to the conversation going on in the other room after excusing herself to go and get some ice for Maria. She could feel the knot in her throat that didn’t want to ease up at the knowledge that her parents were in danger. On some level she had already known it was true, but to hear it confirmed really brought that reality home.

If they succeeded though, her parents would be safe. They could prevent Alex from dying. Max and the others wouldn’t leave Earth for a war that wasn’t theirs to fight. What else would be changed by altering the past? Did they have the right to even tamper with the timeline? They could save Alex. She didn’t have all of the pieces yet, didn’t know how they would deal with Tess to prevent his death, but if they could save him, she was sure it was the right thing to do.

A quiet sound off to her right startled her but she managed to control any outward response although inside she was sure she’d jumped a couple of feet off the ground. Her hand clenched around the icepack and she slowly straightened to search for the disturbance. She wasn’t that surprised to see Michael standing there, nearly hidden by the shadows.

“Michael? You should be sleeping.”

He shrugged and stepped towards her, bringing them close enough to converse quietly. “She’s in pain.”

“It’ll pass, given time.” She grimaced at that and shook her head as she held the icepack up. “I’m taking care of her, Michael. If you wanna help, you should try getting some sleep.”

He shifted and slid his hands into his pockets, momentarily drawing the tee shirt taut across his chest. She glanced at his arms, seeing evidence of battles he’d fought in the scars etched into his skin. His feet were bare beneath the fraying hems of his jeans and she quickly shoved away the immediate thought that the old floor was probably covered in bacteria and damp feet were a great breeding ground for them.

“What?” he asked when he caught the faintest trace of a smile on her face.

“Nothing,” she shook her head before waving between them with her free hand. “It’s just, this scene’s kinda familiar.”

Michael glanced between them and for just a moment the smallest of smirks altered his features before they slipped back into the grim mask he’d been wearing since she’d first seen him. “Too bad we’re not here because of a missing journal.”

She nodded and held the icepack up. “Well, I’d better get back to Maria.”

He waited until she’d taken a few steps before he called her, his voice low. “Liz?”

Liz retraced her steps until she was once again standing in front of him, somehow sensing from his tone that what he had to say he didn’t want overheard. “Yeah?”

“Maria… is she happy?”

She gnawed on her bottom lip for a moment as she considered the question. “Sometimes.” She sighed quietly. “Most of the time it’s a matter of being content.”

“This guy she’s with, has he been good to her?”

“Yeah, without question.”

He nodded and jerked his head in the direction of the other room, dismissing her without another word.

Liz didn’t question his easy dismissal, accepting it for what it was. Michael had never been one to mince words or waste time dragging conversations out for the sake of talking. He said what he had to say and then he was gone. Some things apparently never changed, she mused and then realized it wasn’t the first time she’d had that thought in the past few hours.

She paused upon approaching the spot where she had left Maria. Her precarious perch on the old metal folding chair had been stabilized, the chair replaced by the cot she’d occupied earlier. Her head was supported by a couple of pillows and she found herself marveling once again at the abilities her old friends had. She couldn’t really call Michael or Isabel friends though, could she? If they managed to rectify this situation and alter their path that was an oversight she fully intended to correct.

She shot a glance at Isabel, hoping the small smile would convey her appreciation as she moved to Maria’s side. She settled down beside her, careful to avoid too much jostling as she knew it could quickly bring the nausea back to the surface. Taking her friend’s hand she wrapped it around the neck of the icepack and encouraged her to put it to use.

She looked at Max once again, seeing more in his eyes than she was ready to deal with. As much as he had changed in his absence, there was a truth visible there in those dark depths that he was allowing her to see, and it unnerved her. She drew on her years of scientific extrapolation and her ability to focus on a specific point in order to lead the conversation back where it needed to be. If they had time later to make peace with their tumultuous past, maybe she’d be able to face it once she had a little more time to come to terms with his presence and what had led to it.

His eyes had always been so revealing. Maybe only to her, maybe only because he’d allowed his barriers to drop with her, but she’d always been able to gauge his moods by looking into his eyes. She had never given much thought to the phrase ‘the eyes are the windows to the soul’ until she’d looked into his soulful eyes. Even now she could see his feelings for her, his concern for her parents and his desire to settle the issues that lay unresolved between them. Later, she decided. She wasn’t ready to deal with those things now and she certainly didn’t want to do it with an audience present.

“Max, the Granolith.” She hid the smile that wanted to surface when his full attention was focused on her with nothing more than his name on her lips. She wouldn’t lie – she had missed that along with so many other things about him. “Tell me more about the Granolith. You said you were all bonded to it. What was that like?”

“Liz,” Maria chastised. It wasn’t like her friend to so boldly ask such an insensitive question.

“No, it’s alright,” Max interceded as he glanced in his sister’s direction. She was once again by the windows, surrounded by people and still alone. “I understand what she’s asking.” And why, he added silently. He could sense Michael standing off in the shadows by the entrance to the small kitchen in spite of his exhaustion, remaining upright by sheer determination and stubborn will. “There was pain mixed with euphoria accompanied by fast, short bursts of flashes from my previous life as Zan, the Antarian King.” He paused for a heartbeat, knowing Liz was taking in not only what he was saying, but every nuance of his expressions, gestures and mannerisms as he spoke. His voice was low as he continued, “And of our past lives on Earth as human hybrids.”

Liz couldn’t suppress her surprise at his words and his discomfort was evident. Past lives? As in plural, more than one? Did that mean this was only going to be another in a long line of repeated timelines? Or was it more a matter of resetting the timelines until they managed to get it right? If that was the case how would they ever know when it was right? What if they never succeeded? Were they doomed to continue repeating lives that were missing the necessary element to make them complete and satisfying? Damn it, she was going to have to borrow Maria’s icepack if she couldn’t derail this confusing line of thought.

Isabel’s gaze landed on Maria with unerring accuracy as she stirred slightly, her white-knuckled fingers clutching the icepack so hard her hand was going to be aching before long. Maria’s lips began to move, forming words that had yet to be given life in the form of sound. She had no idea what her brother’s brief comments were bringing to the surface in the normally excitable and vocal blonde, but she wasn’t sure she was ready to hear it. So rather than wait for her response, she straightened her spine and took a step towards them

“I saw things as well,” she said, her words chasing away the suffocating stale air left in the wake of Max’s final declaration.

In spite of the desire to hide in the darkness behind closed eyelids, Maria couldn’t stop her eyes from blinking open. Past lives? Those two words ricocheted around inside her skull, increasing the pounding rhythm and slowing her ability to react. She latched onto Isabel’s soft voice that seemed so far away and as it pulled her closer, her eyes were drawn to the other woman’s right wrist. She wondered irrationally what the wrist plate had looked like. The space it had so recently occupied… was it recently? How much time had passed since they had relieved themselves of the physical, what, symbols of their bond to the throne of Antar? Considering the excruciating process they had explained, especially where Michael was concerned, how had they even managed to rid him of the armor?

Her eyes traced warily over the flesh that was now bare save for the tattooed lavender intertwined with the Antarian language. She wondered why Isabel had allowed it to remain visible after revealing it to them. Her head turned, the motion so miniscule it was nearly nonexistent, her ears tuned to any sound that might give Michael’s presence away. Somehow she knew he was still close by, probably listening to every word being spoken.

Once again her eyes traced over the tall blonde’s wrist. “It would match the one Rath wore when they were betrothed. They were to be bonded together.” Max’s earlier words echoed in her head and she wondered if that bond had come to fruition. Fifteen years was a long time and if they had been bonded in such a physical way… She shook her head, not wanting to let her mind go down that road. They had all moved on one way or another. Maybe those dreams they had in high school were more like premonitions, or maybe they really were destined to be together. She rubbed the bridge of her nose as the headache exploded to life again and she dropped her head forward to press the icepack to her forehead for a few moments of desperate relief.

There was too much information and not enough all at once and it was making her head swim sickeningly. She squinted in an effort to read the numbers on the face of her watch and a fresh wave of nausea rolled through the pit of her stomach as her eyes locked on the second hand as it ratcheted around, slowly ticking off the seconds. Barely nine hours had passed since this nightmare had started for her and there was no way of knowing when it would end.

She wanted it to end. She needed it to end. Max had said something about six days but she didn’t think she could go six more days with the weight of grief bearing down on her soul. Her mom was gone, Kyle and Jim were gone, and Cameron… she swallowed with difficulty when bile backed up in her throat at the thoughts that assailed her.

Cam had no idea what was going on. And she didn’t know if he was even okay. Michael had gone to the home she and Cameron shared and she could only hope he’d been more subtle if… she pressed her thumbs against her forehead just above the bridge of her nose. There was no if in that scenario. He would have gone into her home, threat-assessing as he moved from room to room, moving through her life while searching for her.

Nothing had been said about him running into Cam and she knew her fiancé wouldn’t have been a match for Michael, especially if the hybrid felt threatened. Or if Cameron hadn’t been himself. What if a Skin…? Pain exploded in her head, the pressure worsening as the stress of the past few hours seemed to close in on her. She closed her eyes and rested her forehead on her folded hands, sending up a prayer for this to be nothing more than a horrific nightmare that she would wake from.

The pain was so intense that she never felt the gentle touch that brushed her shoulder. Her body relaxed as it slumped forward to be carefully caught by hands that had carried out more acts of violence than any one individual should be capable of. Max lifted her up, holding her steady while Liz hurried to straighten the covers on the cot.

“I’m not sure you should’ve done that, Isabel,” he said as he eased Maria back down onto the cot. He stepped back, giving Liz room to work as she made her friend as comfortable as possible. “You could’ve just damaged any ground we’ve gained. Her trust in us is shaky at best right now.”

“She was suffering, Max.” She sighed and ran a hand over her face as she moved back to the windows, focusing her gaze on the horizon.

“And she declined our offer of help earlier.”

“No, little brother, she declined your help because your emotions tend to be closer to the surface when Liz is around and she could’ve seen just about anything if you connected with her.” She shook her head. “I can be subtle and I’m capable of easing her pain enough to allow her to rest. If we have a chance in hell of seeing this mission succeed we have to be ready for what’s coming.” She leveled a look at him. “You know as well as I do he won’t rest until she does.”

Max grunted at that as he turned just enough to look at the shadowed doorway that led to the secluded area Michael had chosen to bed down. He knew she was right, knew how much rested on their ability to carry out their mission, but Maria was in a very fragile place right now.

“You’ve trusted my judgment on the field of battle, Max. Don’t start doubting me now.”

He rubbed his hands over his face, scarred palms rasping over his unshaven cheeks. He drew in a deep breath and nodded. “We could all use some rest before we continue.” He shot a glance over his shoulder, his gaze briefly resting on the two women. “Is there more?” he asked finally, sensing that there was something she had left unspoken.

“She’s engaged to be married.” She chose to remain silent about the rest of the impressions she’d received. She didn’t want to betray Maria’s innermost thoughts and fears. Her relationship was her own business. “What she’s witnessed in the short time since the alien invasion reentered her life has her imagination in overdrive.”

“She has a fiancé,” he mused quietly. Damn it. More collateral damage.

“Her mom is dead, her life has been turned upside down, and even though what she witnessed wasn’t her mother’s murder, she now has the violent images and the horrific sounds of death to lend credence to her fears.”

Max sighed heavily. He had first-hand experience of the horrors the mind could unleash and he was a seasoned soldier. Maria had no defenses to protect her from the sight, sound and smell of death. Her imagination had always been overactive and after all she had been through in the past few hours, her mind was bound to be fertile ground for nightmares.

“She knows Michael went to California, that he was in her home.”

He looked up so fast he felt his neck pop and he winced at the sensation. “What?” he snapped on a heated whisper. “She can’t know that.”

“Not only can she know it, she does know it.”

“No, we were very careful to avoid speaking too loudly.”

“It has nothing to do with the volume of our voices, Max.” She shook her head. “Maria isn’t even aware of how she has the information. Right now I’m not even sure she realizes she’s in possession of the information. She’s been hit with so much in such a short amount of time it’s very possible there’s no cognizant thought being put into the thoughts and images her mind is pulling up.”

“Then how…” he trailed off and slowly turned his head to look in the direction of the room Michael had staked a claim on. His eyes widened as he shifted his gaze back to his sister. “Their connection?”

She nodded. “It’s still there.”

That was good news. “Okay.” The spark of hope ignited in his chest. Maybe they actually had a chance to pull this off. He ordered himself to remain in control. He knew better than to charge ahead blindly. There was still a lot that had to happen before the mission commenced. “Alright, let’s get some rest.” His eyes scanned the empty desert, the road that rarely saw a car any longer, and he savored the silence. Sometimes it felt like he couldn’t remember the last time he’d been able to experience and appreciate silence.

He started to tell her he would take watch so she could rest, but a look at her tense frame told him to back off for now. Something was on her mind and by the look in her eyes he could narrow down the subject of her thoughts. “I’ll relieve you in a couple of hours.”

Isabel nodded once, sharply, and waited until he had left her alone before she drew in a jagged breath. Time and distance hadn’t severed the connections that existed between the others and she tamped down the jealousy that briefly flared up. She’d had that connection in her grasp and it had been taken from her… deliberately, violently, prematurely.

Her eyes locked on a point in the desert and her resolve hardened as she swore once again to fix the past. She knew what was coming, what they would be going up against, wouldn’t be easy to overcome, but she hadn’t fought all these years just to come back to Earth and fail. The rising sun caused the air above the desert floor to shimmer and for just a moment a familiar silhouette appeared in the distance.

She smiled faintly as the words from a familiar poem rose up in her mind. She’d gotten her hands on the book after Alex’s death, memorizing the words on every page in an effort to gain an understanding of his last days. The poems spoke to her, had become a part of her, and even though she knew it was possible she had read more into them than was ever intended, the words settled something in her when she spoke them.

She rested her forehead against the rapidly heating windowpane, mindless of the filth that helped keep the interior protected from prying eyes. Her mind cast through dozens of poems, mentally reciting the stanzas as she sought inner peace, fleeting though it would be. A small smile graced lips that rarely smiled anymore before she spoke quietly, so quietly the words didn’t disturb the silence that had fallen over the station.
“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep”
Her posture visibly straightened and her features contorted in pain for the few seconds it took to shift into a more comfortable position. War was hell. Whoever had made that statement first must have been on a battlefield at some point because it was true. She forced her mind away from the old injury and focused on the mission, drawing strength from her belief that they would succeed. They had to succeed.

“Soon, Alex,” she promised, her voice raspy with emotion and fatigue. Her eyes opened, the moisture in them glistening for just a moment before she brought her emotions under control and her gaze turned to steel as the soldier in her took over. Every other thought fled as she moved to begin her patrol of the perimeter, protecting the others on her watch from any potential threat.
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keepsmiling7
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Re: The Long & Winding Road: Book 1 - Dry Lightening (CC, Mature) Chapter 8 - 6/8/2018

Post by keepsmiling7 » Sat Jun 09, 2018 7:53 am

Just read this again "over here"........and there is still so much sadness.
Why would I think it would be different?
Guess I'm just looking for that happily ever after..........and it's just not here.
Thanks,
Carolyn

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Re: The Long & Winding Road: Book 1 - Dry Lightening (CC, Mature) Chapter 8 - 6/8/2018

Post by xmag » Sat Jun 09, 2018 1:49 pm

Intriguing, very intriguing. Past lives, plural? I mean, their past life on Antar, okay. And technically, this timeline on Earth is the second one, since Future Max came and change the first timeline. But there was one past timeline, the one Future Max came from. So why "past human lives"? That's curious. He made it look like there has been more than one timeline.

Although, if this one is changed, the new one will be officially the 3rd one. I say officially because who knows where this fic is going and what will be revealed next, right?

So, a connection between M&M ? in this timeline, M&M split up quite early in season 2. I could understand a connection after Departure, lots of stuff happened, Alex's death, their first time together… but a connection so soon in season 1 or early 2?
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Michael : From day one, I knew you were the girl for me, I never wanted anyone else.

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Re: The Long & Winding Road: Book 1 - Dry Lightening (CC, Mature) Chapter 8 - 6/8/2018

Post by Parker1947 » Sat Jun 09, 2018 6:34 pm

Quite the imaginative story. Very intriguing, as the layers keep unwinding. I am curious where this is going...

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Re: The Long & Winding Road: Book 1 - Dry Lightening (CC, Mature) Chapter 8 - 6/8/2018

Post by KindredKandies » Sun Jul 15, 2018 6:59 pm

keepsmiling7: There has been a lot of pain and suffering experienced by all of them. Sometimes though, we have to weather the worst imaginable storms before we see the sun break through the darkness.

xmag: Past lives, plural, that’s what he said. Why did he say that? Well, we’ll have to wait for him to explain.

In our opinion, their connection existed early on. 285 South, Independence Day, both were moments that were important to that connection.

Parker1947: Thank you for the compliment! There are more layers to uncover but the direction of the story should be apparent very soon.


Author's Note: A couple of lines in this part were borrowed from the Season One episode Crazy.

Book One – Chapter 9

October 13, 2016 – Pete’s Liftoff Gas Station, Outskirts of Roswell, NM – 0943 Hours

Michael sat on the edge of the old fold-out couch that took up most of one wall of the small room that had at one time served as a lounge of sorts. An old television set hung suspended from the wall across from him, the screen smashed and revealing the tubes and wires on the inside. An old print, faded from years of exposure, hung on another wall, most of the paint hanging off of the canvas in dried out strips. The sunlight broke through the torn remnants of the old shade hanging over the window and dust motes danced in its rays. The beams glinted off of a pile of old tin cans stacked in a corner, their edges rusted but doing little to dull the blinding light.

In spite of his awareness of his surroundings, these things were all lost on him. He shifted slightly and his dull gaze dropped to his booted feet. Worn from the miles and years, the leather was cracked and had long ago lost its shine. He rubbed his temples and closed his burning eyes, his ears easily picking up bits and pieces of the conversation being carried out in the other room.

As he sat there he felt every one of his years and then some. It ran deeper than exhaustion; he was bone-weary from loss, from war, from the burden of guilt and the weight of the past, present and future bearing down on him. There was still so much to do. He rubbed the back of his taut neck, the muscles rock hard and refusing to give under the pressure of his hand.

“She has a fiancé.”

“She knows Michael went to California, that he was in her home.”


She shouldn’t know that. He laced his fingers behind his neck and shook his head, the lack of give in his tense muscles causing even that small move to generate pain.

“Their connection?”

“It’s still there.”


How was that even possible? After all he had put her through, past and present, there shouldn’t even be the smallest remnant of a connection remaining. The pressure suddenly eased and he shuffled around and dropped down to sit on the floor. The couch was too soft, a luxury he couldn’t afford. He’d spent years sleeping on the hard, unforgiving ground, but it was familiar. He rolled over, taking his weight on his left shoulder and putting his back squarely against the couch. He winced at the pull of flesh, breathing through the pain out of habit, and closing his eyes.

They could not afford mistakes at this point. There were too many things that could go wrong even without throwing costly mistakes into the mix. Rest was essential. He’d learned the art of resting while battles raged around him, while the screams of dying men echoed in his ears and the thick scent of iron from their spilled blood filled his nostrils, and even though he’d honed that ability over the years, he found the process more challenging here amid the silence.

Maria was safe for the moment. Her pain and suffering had receded to the background with a little help from Isabel and he was grateful that she had provided that relief. He should’ve handled the situation with the Skin differently, if only to save her from the agony he’d burdened her with. He drew in a deep breath, forcing his mind to let go of the self-recriminations. He knew from bitter experience that castigating himself would serve no purpose.

The need for rest warred with the demons that preyed on his mind, their clawed fingers fighting to get a grip on his subconscious as he felt the familiar tug of sleep. The soldier in him mentally braced himself for the coming war; it was a battle he fought every time he closed his eyes as he sought rest for his weary body. More than a decade had passed since he could last remember a night of sleep that didn’t include waking with the mental exhaustion that came from battling the demons in his own mind.

He’d trained himself to fight them off as he slept and most nights he was able to at least succumb to sleep and wake physically ready for the next battle. As the tendrils of sleep wrapped around him and began to pull him under he could feel the warning signs that indicated the demons had gained a foothold in his mind. The exhaustion from too many days without rest while remaining hyper-vigilant had taken its toll and weakened his defenses against them and in spite of the fierce struggle he put up to keep them at bay he knew a losing battle when he was faced with one.

His body was drained; his muscles were heavy and ached from exhaustion, the stress of the situation leaving him physically paralyzed as the shroud of darkness pulled him under. His body tensed without conscious thought, preparing for the pain that was coming. The agony was as real and fresh in his mind as that felt by an individual suffering the lingering phantom pains in a severed limb. Against his will the demons pried the box on that nightmarish memory open and in a heartbeat that day came rushing back, the torment from so long ago tearing him open and leaving him exposed and suffering in a manner words could never adequately express.

He was paralyzed, unable to move his arms and legs, yet able to feel the pain as it came in unrelenting waves. His throat was raw from screaming and he was sure he could taste blood. His wild eyes scanned the men surrounding him, their faces devoid of emotion as they chose one torment after the next, doing things to his body that he was sure should have killed him by now. No one should be able to survive so much pain. It seemed impossible, yet it wasn’t. He was still alive but he didn’t know how.

The voices of the men surrounding him were muffled and everything around him seemed to be happening in slow motion. The sensation of being held under water reasserted itself and he could feel the panic clawing at him. The images of their faces began to ripple and his body twisted and contorted as a fresh wave of agonizing pain shot through him, his muscles so taut he was sure they were tearing, his nerve endings burning as a burst of fire traveled along its chosen path trailing acid in its wake. His lungs burned as he struggled not to breathe, certain if he did he would drown… in water, in his own blood, he didn’t know. He just knew if he breathed in he wouldn’t survive.

He didn’t know how to let go. He didn’t know how to give up. He only knew how to fight, how to hold onto what he had with every fiber of his being, no matter how weak he felt from this ordeal. So he struggled. He fought back. And suddenly he broke through the surface. He gasped for air, greedy for the life-giving oxygen that would sustain him. He coughed and his throat, swollen and tight, burned.

He fought against the pull of the water but no amount of struggling could stop the silver waves from wrapping around him and pulling him under again. He drew in another breath, coughing and sputtering when he swallowed water with the desperately-needed air. The voices around him increased in volume, the words muffled and distorted as another shockwave of pain seared through his body rendering his arms and legs useless, dead weight that helped to pull him down.

The pressure in his chest worsened, making it harder to breathe. He didn’t know how much more of this torture he could take before it became too much and the choice to let go was taken from him. He felt like he was being ripped apart from the inside out and he didn’t know what would be left of him if he survived what they were doing to him. His mind rebelled against that thought. He had to survive. The waves crashed over him again, the silver tips that seemed like a living thing reaching out and dragging him down once more.

Survival was the only option. He retreated into his mind, distancing himself from what they were doing to his body. His thoughts narrowed down until the only thing that existed was the will to live. He disassociated from the torture as he made a conscious effort to slow his breathing, calming himself as he looked up into the night sky that stretched out above him. He searched the black canvas and located a tiny speck of light that he locked onto with all of his might.

The light suddenly ignited and spread out before him. He could feel the shaking in his muscles, the acidic burn that raced along raw nerve endings, the trembling in limbs too weak to bear his weight. He was wrecked and he knew it. But he was a survivor and he knew that too. A jolt of pain crashed into him, this time feeling as though his spine was being shattered. His head snapped back and he blinked as the black of the sky above him suddenly rolled back, turning into a deep indigo before fading into a clear blue sky.

Distant voices reached out to him, drawing his attention, and he turned toward the sound. His eyes locked on the source as two shadowy figures materialized on the opposite side of the sea. They embraced, the sight so achingly familiar, and he focused on the words being spoken in an effort to make sense of them. The words suddenly welled up from inside of him, taking him back to a moment that brought his resolve into sharper focus.

“C’mere. If anything happens, I mean, to me, I just want you to know that…”

He was enveloped in warmth and her voice was a balm to his wounded soul as it surrounded him. “I know. Nothing’s gonna happen to you.” Her scent, her touch, the feel of her in his arms gave him comfort as nothing else ever could or would, and he allowed himself to rest in her embrace.


*****

Max watched Maria as she tossed and turned fitfully, her mind fighting against the stress she had been under. He hadn’t been able to sleep and he’d gotten up to walk the perimeter. Isabel hadn’t said a word when she’d seen him, understanding the restlessness that refused to release him. She trusted him to make sure he was rested and that was enough. He sighed and cursed Michael for taking out that Skin the way he had even though he understood the primal reaction. He couldn’t honestly say he’d have done any differently if faced with those circumstances with Liz in Maria’s place.

This wasn’t what he’d wanted when they made the decision to return to Earth. He’d known, rationally, that it was likely she and Liz had moved on with their lives. He’d also known that changing the past meant altering any futures they might have otherwise had and he’d made his peace with that. He regretted putting them through the pain of knowing their lives as they knew them were going to be irrevocably altered, but there was no other way to achieve their goal.

Maria made a pained sound and he wondered if it was the migraine or a nightmare that was causing her distress. He crouched down beside her and studied her contorted features for a moment before reaching out and lightly ghosting the side of his thumb over her forehead. He smiled tightly as her features relaxed. The block would only stop the pain and shield her from the hellish memories while she slept, but it would at least allow her to rest for a while.

He straightened back up and winced when his right knee protested the movement. Maybe in his next lifetime he’d make it to thirty-two with two good knees. If nothing else, he’d like to live his life without blood on his hands. He held his hands out and stared at them. Calloused and scarred, they were capable of carrying out acts of violence as well as acts of healing – although, he had been primarily responsible for the former rather than the latter since his return to Antar. He glanced at Maria and nodded to himself. At least he still had the capability of carrying out humane acts. He closed his eyes briefly before silently slipping away to the corner he’d claimed for himself.

Maria sighed quietly as her mind slipped away from the present, taking her back to California and the home she shared with Cameron.

She could feel the stress rolling back as she looked around and inhaled deeply, taking in the sights and smells of home. She smiled as her fingertips moved over the dresser as she passed it before pausing next to the bed. Now if she could just remember what she was looking for. She turned and sat on the bed, leaning back, fingers splayed as her palms pressed into the thick multi-colored comforter. Cameron had hated it on sight but she’d finally won that round and the comforter had stayed.

She glanced down at her left hand and her eyes widened as she shoved herself up and away from the bed. Her ring! She leaned over to poke around the crystal dish she kept on her nightstand. It wasn’t there. She frowned as she looked around the room, trying desperately to remember where she’d last had it.

Doing dishes maybe? She had a bad habit of taking it off and setting it down on the back of the sink. She cringed as she recalled the bill for the plumber a month before when she’d managed to knock it off and sent it rolling straight down the drain… while the water was running. She heard a familiar throat clearing behind her and she whirled around to see Cameron standing in the doorway, left shoulder leaning against the frame with a smirk on his face while he watched her.

“Lose something?” he asked, smirk shifting into a smile as he held the ring up. “Y’know, a much more insecure guy might wonder about this.” He reached for her hand as he pushed away from the doorframe, his thumb gently brushing over her skin as he carefully slid the ring on her finger.

“Where’d you find it?” she asked as relief and comfort washed over her. She fell into his embrace with ease when he pulled her to him, welcoming the sense of home that came with it.

He lifted his chin to indicate the dish on her nightstand and she bumped him with her shoulder, making him grin. She reached up to brush her fingertips over his lips, tracing that grin and smiling in response. He pressed a kiss to her fingers and she watched his lips shift yet again, this time changing into a genuine smile that reached his eyes and just lit him up from the inside out. She loved his smile in all of its variations but this one was her absolute favorite.

“C’mon.”

“Where’re we going?” Not that it mattered.

“Just come with me.” He raised the hand holding hers and spun her around before turning and leading her out of the room.

Her eyes roamed over the pictures that lined the hallway, sunlight streaming in from the skylights overhead and casting beams of light across some of the frames. Every room in the house was bathed in natural light and it gave light and warmth to the plants that were strategically placed to add color and life to their home.

She bumped into Cameron’s back when he stopped to slide the door to the deck open and she took the opportunity to wrap her arms around him and press a kiss to his shoulder. He squeezed her hand in response and a moment later they were stepping down off of the deck and following the flagstone path down to the white porch swing that hung suspended from a sturdy branch.

Settled in the swing, her back against his chest, her fingertips tracing random paths up and down his arms where they hugged her to him, she sighed contentedly.

“Can you beat that view?” Cameron pointed out at the water where the reflection of the setting sun cast a myriad of colors across its calm glasslike surface. In the distance a handful of sailboats and yachts could be seen, far enough out that they didn’t disturb the serenity of the idyllic scenery.

She turned and pressed her lips to the underside of his jaw. “No, you can’t.” He tipped her chin up and kissed her and she savored every moment, enjoying the feeling of connection that came simply from being with him.

When the kiss broke she dropped her head back against his shoulder and her forehead came to rest against his neck as she turned her head to look out over the water. The sky so vibrant with an array of oranges, pinks and purples suddenly shifted as an inky blackness rolled in to take its place. She frowned and pushed herself up, looking down when her hand came into contact with nothing more than air as the scene altered and she found herself looking out over a vast sea of darkness.

Slowly the scene came into focus and she was able to identify the tips of the waves as they reached up from the water. It wasn’t the ocean, she realized. No, it was the quarry that her mind had returned her to again and again over the years.

“He came back for you.”


Maria stirred, her eyes fluttering open and she sighed wearily as she looked around and the reality of her situation slammed into her with all the subtlety of a jackhammer on a quiet Sunday morning. She wasn’t at home with Cameron. She was hidden away in an out-of-the-way ramshackle gas station. Her mom was dead. Kyle and the sheriff were dead. Michael had come back along with Max and Isabel to change the past and alter the future timeline.

Why was life never simple when they were involved?

She was still trying to acclimate to being awake when the sound of something metallic collided against some other object startled her. Before she had the time to identify the source of the racket she heard her name being called. It wasn’t loud and if it hadn’t been dead silent in the station she wouldn’t have heard it. His voice was raspy and she could practically hear his heart pounding.

She jerked upright and rubbed her hand over her heart, feeling the resounding beat as it thumped madly against the wall of her chest. She stared at the door that led to the back, hearing his labored breathing even as he struggled to bring it under control. She could feel the pull towards him but that was at war with the revulsion that still teetered on the edge. The pain in his voice was palpable though and she inched closer to the edge of the cot.

“Don’t.”

She froze and looked up when Isabel materialized in front of her. “What?”

“He’s not fully awake right now and – “

“And he’s dangerous.”

“That’s not what I was trying to say, but yes, he is.”

Maria nodded. “Thanks for not sugarcoating it.”

Isabel shrugged one shoulder. She had never been one to sugarcoat things, and even if she had been careful about sparing the feelings of those she cared about in the past, it had been years since she’d been in a position to worry about such a thing. She watched Maria as her gaze darted back to the doorway, easily recognizing the concern in the other woman’s eyes. She could still remember being surprised by the strength Maria possessed so many years ago and she carried the regret of letting the opportunity of her friendship pass.

That same strength showed through now and she knew without a doubt that Liz had made the right decision in revealing their secret to her. Even now, with everything she had been through in such a short amount of time, her concern for Michael was palpable. She nodded to herself and straightened her spine before shifting and immediately drawing Maria’s attention. She reached up to tap her temple. “Better?” she asked.

Maria lifted her hands to her face, pressing her palms to her cheeks and releasing a relieved breath when the contact didn’t instigate the slightest hint of pain or discomfort. She nodded and smiled tentatively. “A lot better, thank you.” She inhaled deeply, enjoying the ability to breathe pain free. The scent of lavender carried on the air and she glanced around curiously. “Do you smell that?”

“What?” She sniffed delicately and shook her head. There was no way to separate the myriad of odors that permeated the air. Motor oil, old grease from the fryers in the back, mustiness from years of dust and neglect, they all combined to create an aroma that was far from pleasant.

Maria shook her head. “I could swear I smell lavender.” She looked around and shrugged. “I guess it’s just my imagination because there’s no way…” her eyes landed on Isabel’s tattooed wrist.

“It’s not your imagination.” She raised her arm and her eyes traced over the intricate pattern that adorned her wrist. Lavender was grown and cultivated specifically for the Princess of Antar. It was a punishable offense for anyone outside of assigned personnel to enter the fields or touch the plants. Fingertips calloused from years of wielding various weaponry traced over the tattooed flesh of her wrist as she recalled her thoughts the first time fresh lavender had been delivered to her room.

It had been strange to say the least, to be faced with something so normal in the midst of a life that was suddenly so different from everything she’d ever known. It had allowed her to hold onto something that saved her sanity. The scent of the lavender had brought memories of home to the surface, memories of her mom. She smiled slightly as she recalled specific moments in time. Diane Evans had been the bright spot in her life here on Earth and thousands of light years away on a planet that had been terrifyingly dangerous.

Maria slowly stood and stretched, giving her body ample time to protest before she began to move. She took her time crossing the room, remaining silent so as not to disturb the other woman. Something about her posture and her expression suggested the need for quiet while she sorted through whatever memories had surfaced. She paused in front of the front wall that had plenty of windows, the panes of those that weren’t broken so filthy it was impossible to see through them.

Her eyes roved over the desert before focusing on the concrete island where two out-of-date fuel pumps stood. Beyond that she could see the pole that had at one time been white, the sign at the top missing pieces, and judging by the bits and pieces sticking out, it looked like it had become home to a bird. The old sign out by the highway that rarely saw much traffic these days was faded and missing most of the letters, but she’d recognize the location without them.

Pete’s Lift-Off Gas Station. She glanced over her shoulder at the tall blonde and couldn’t help wondering if being here had triggered any memories of an ill-fated meeting on a hot, dusty day. She rested one shoulder against the wall near one of the windows but her gaze remained riveted on Isabel as her mind took her back in time to the meeting that had taken place between them.

She could still recall sitting there in the heat, waiting for the mechanic to finish with her car because she had a meeting with the sheriff. She had been so confused, not knowing if they could be trusted or if they were dangerous, not knowing if telling the sheriff was the right thing to do. It had only taken a matter of seconds in the unlikeliest of places for that answer to solidify in her mind.

She had watched the car roll to a stop in front of her, unable to pry her eyes away from the scene as Isabel hugged her mom not once, but twice, before getting out of the car. Even as the door closed, she was smiling, taking a step back before waving at her mom. She had stood up and taken a couple of steps and as Isabel approached her that expression of happiness had shifted, not into one of superiority or aloofness, but into wariness. That had surprised her. And somehow, in that moment, she had understood what was at stake.

It was a moment, their moment, and while it had been defining, they had let it pass. The foundation had been laid but they had never bothered to build upon it. She wondered what would have happened if they had pursued a friendship.

She sighed quietly and turned her attention back to the landscape but movement to the side drew her gaze. She was certain the old payphone had been out of service even longer than the station had. Closing her eyes for a moment, she could picture herself standing next to it while it had still been operational, hand held out while Pete paid her for the box Mom had asked her to deliver. She had left him standing there, money in hand, when Michael had started to drive off in her car.

She could remember the sign out by the road listing the prices for gas at the time. $1.24 for unleaded. It was funny what you remembered years later. Given the price of gas these days she wouldn’t mind filling up for $1.24 a gallon. She snorted softly as she thought about jumping in front of the moving car. She’d never spared a thought to the fact that he might hit her – it had never even entered her mind that he might hurt her.

At least that time she had been a semi-willing participant in her own kidnapping. She didn’t believe anything he’d done since coming back into her life had been done to hurt her intentionally. He had a mission to complete and he was focused on that, but she had caught glimpses of pain and regret in his eyes even though it hadn’t registered at the time.

She looked outside again, watching the dust swirl around as the wind kicked up. One of the plastic letters that still clung to the old sign by the road fluttered in the wind, fighting to maintain its hold and settling down as it managed to win against the elements.

“Sixteen years and we’re right back where it all started,” she sighed under her breath.
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Re: The Long & Winding Road: Book 1 - Dry Lightening (CC, Mature) Chapter 9 - 7/15/2018

Post by xmag » Wed Jul 18, 2018 10:11 am

Well another tough update, with Michael's torture. I won't comment on that because torture is, well, torture, what more can be said, right?

I am a bit unsure about the two shadowy figures appearing near the end of the Michael part. AT first I thought it was Max and Isabel but after that:

C’mere. If anything happens, I mean, to me, I just want you to know that…”

He was enveloped in warmth and her voice was a balm to his wounded soul as it surrounded him. “I know. Nothing’s gonna happen to you.” Her scent, her touch, the feel of her in his arms gave him comfort as nothing else ever could or would, and he allowed himself to rest in her embrace.


So was it Max and Isabel or Maria and someone else? Athough I Don't see how it could be Maria and who would be with her.


About the M&M connection, Maria's migraines and nightmares are Michael's? I mean, if they are somehow connected, could it be possible that some of his pain got transfered to Maria?
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Michael : From day one, I knew you were the girl for me, I never wanted anyone else.

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