Absence Makes the Heart...(M/L,MATURE) [WIP]

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Raychelxluscious
Addicted Roswellian
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Location: Started in WV, ending in FL

Absence Makes the Heart...(M/L,MATURE) [WIP]

Post by Raychelxluscious » Tue Nov 23, 2004 11:30 pm

Round Eight

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Pierce

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Best Supporting Portrayal of Alex Whitman
Favorite Original Character
- Riannan Kellar
Story That Had You Bouncing In Your Seat For An Update
Best Conventional Couple Fanfic


Round Seven
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Best Supporting Portrayal of Maria DeLuca
Favorite Original Character
Riannan Kellar

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Title: Absence Makes the Heart Grow Bitter

Author: Raychel

Summary: Liz knew the day would come that Max would have the opportunity to return to his home planet. But she never dreamed the time would come on the morning of her wedding, or that he would leave her behind...

Rating: MATURE

Category: CC

Disclaimer: Roswell and its characters do not belong to me. However, Riannan (Ree-ann-en) Kellar (Her nickname "Rian" is pronoucned "Ryan") and Jonaphan (Jon) Calder are my own characters.

Author's Note: I've been a fan of Roswell from they very beginning. I've lurked on RF for a very long time and now I've discovered LOD. I've decided to give my go at writing Roswell fanfiction; it'll be a kind of hobby, I suppose. Let me know how I did. Thanks.

<center>* * *

Prologue</center>

The sun was beginning to rise behind her, casting her shadow on the wet, sandy beach beneath her. She ran barefoot her feet leaving an angry tattoo in their wake. She ran with as much speed as she could muster with the satin yellow of her bridesmaid dress clutched tightly in her hands and pulled up well above her knees. Heavy rain pelted down on her, soaking her to the bone, matting her once perfectly styled blonde hair to her face. There was no doubt in her mind that her makeup was smeared to the point she was of a hideous nature.

Lightning crackled in the morning sky and thunder roared in response. The wind was picking up great speed, running it's cold fingers through her tresses and pulling them free of the numerous bobby pins.

She reached the safety of the hotel, her feet meeting plush white carpet that may be forever ruined due to the filth of her feet. However, she didn't stop running, didn't pause to use the elevator, but instead used to the stairs, taking them two - sometimes three - at a time.

The heavy fire door banged hard against the wall and she broke into a swifter run, her strides lengthening as she forgot her flowing skirt and pumped her arms hurriedly at her sides. A few moments later and a brief struggle with the plastic card key, and she was inside the hotel's honeymoon suite.

"Liz,” She called out breathlessly and slowed to a brisk walk. Her ribs ached from her strenuous run, and she cupped them with her hands, hoping to ease the pain. "Liz,” She cried again. The door to the bedroom was cracked slightly, and a dim light peeked through the opening.

With a firm push, Maria looked inside. "Liz -” Anything further she had meant to say fell from her lips at the sight of her best friend, donned in her beautiful wedding dress, weeping mournfully on the floor; a piece of paper clutched tightly in her fist. "Oh, honey," She choked out. Her effort to break the news to her friend had been fruitless. The bastard had left her a note.

Liz's tearful gaze met Maria's. Her ever expressive deep brown eyes showed the exact depth of her pain. "Maria," She hiccupped as she struggled to crawl to her feet. "He - he...Oh, God, Maria. He-"

The Maria pulled her into a tight embrace, and immediately felt the violence of her friend’s quaking due to the force of her sobs. "I know, sweetie," She mumbled against Liz's messy brown locks that pulled free from it's elegant up 'do. "I know."

They sank to the floor together; Maria tucked Liz's head beneath her chin and allowed her friend to cry. Fast shuffling of feet resonated through out the suite and then stopped abruptly over the threshold of the bedroom door. Maria turned her head as far as she could to see her male friends. Kyle and Alex peered at the two women with devastated expressions. Maria began to soothingly stroke Liz's hair.

"It's just the four of us now."

<center>* * *</center>

"It's just the four of us now."

Max turned his head upon the quietly spoken words. Tess stood rigidly behind him, her face empty of any emotions. As it was, Max could still feel her anxiety, her fear, and the bitter sweetness that was their departure. And Max was empathetic.

He returned his gaze towards the large, thick window of the craft's bay. They had long ago left Earth's orbit and the stars twinkled as the ship passed them by. Max pressed his hand against the surface of the glass and stared at the tiny speck in the distance that was Earth, the only home he had ever known. Moments later, it disappeared from sight.

Max pushed away from the window and walked stiffly past Tess. He still wore the his black tux, only now his silver tie had been discarded and the first few buttons of his white dress shirt were opened and exposing his skin. Anxiously, Max paced the length of the corridor to the sliding metal doors and back again to the opening of the bay. Running his fingers through his hair a couple of times, he finally hid them deep in his pant pockets, hoping they'd remain idle.

The fingers of his left hand brushed the item he had hid for safekeeping. Knowing it would be like pouring salt over an open wound, Max pulled out the ring anyway. She had wanted something simple but special, and Max knew that she'd fall in love with the gold band he had planned to present to her at the alter.

He had missed that chance now. And Liz would never forgive him.

Tears flooded violently to his eyes and he roughly scrubbed them away. He should've taken her with him. At the very least, he should have said good-bye in person. He should've promised his return. Max hadn't even done that.

Max cursed his people for their bad timing. For playing the You're Our King card, and all but forcing him to leave the galaxy. He remained firm that he didn't have a choice in the matter, but he wondered if Liz would know that.

He wondered if Liz knew how much he loved her.

He wondered if he'd ever see her again.


<center>* * *

Part One</center>

The car honked twice, alerting her that it was locked. Satisfied with the knowledge, she pocketed her keys, and she strode through the shady parking garage to reach the elevators. She pressed the grimy button, made a mental note to complain about the lack of sanitary conditions, and waited rather impatiently for the elevator to descend to the garage floor.

The doors creaked open not presenting her with much reassurance, but since she’s ridden the elevator many times before, she stepped on without a second thought.

When the doors reopened, her surroundings were vastly different, gone where the shadows and grim of the dark parking garage, instead she was met with pristine white. The ceiling was a lit with bright lights, the tiled floors and walls were a stark and impersonal. The hallway seemed to go on for eternity.

Her boots tapped loudly against the floor, her pace steady and even. She turned the corner and saw Joseph, the security guard, reading a newspaper with a lack of interest.

She dropped her McDonalds bag in his lap and slid her ID card down the electronical machine in the wall. With a grin and wink at Joseph, she pressed her right hand against a monitor, and allowed it to scan her prints.

The guard glanced idly at the computer beside him. "You're clear, Parker," He stated and began to sift through the crinkled bag. He smiled widely. "You did good."

Liz pressed through the heavy steal bar door incased in glass and stepped over the threshold. She paused and regarded him with her bright smile. "I told you I would,” She said, not at all bitter over the fact she had lost a poker game only a couple nights ago. Joseph had simply asked for a good meal in the mornings in return of winning of the poker game.

"Up for a game this Saturday?" He called as the door began to close behind her.

She chuckled and glanced at him over her shoulder. "Maybe another time."

Her walk through the maze like building took her a total of two minutes before she reached her office. Liz knew the area so well she could walk the building in complete darkness if she had too. Which may be come useful in the future.

The door to her office was just as impersonal as everything else in the building; she didn't even get a nameplate. Without much thought, she unlocked the door and walked inside.

Just because the entire building had a blah sense of decoration, didn't mean her personal space had to be. When she had been recruited for this job and found out she was going to have an office - without a view - Liz had known she'd go stark raving mad if she didn't have some color. The walls were painted a pastel lavender color with floral trim and she hid the white tiles with classic rugs. Her mahogany desk was in a neat order; a realistic green plant on corner of the desk made the room look homier. She couldn't handle a real plant for she'd get so busy sometimes that she'd be sure to neglect to water it.

No sooner had Liz shed off her jacket and dropped her briefcase on her desk, was there a sharp knock at her door. She contained her sigh for being interrupted so soon, and forced a smile on her face.

"Come in."

The door swung open and a tall man in a plain black suit stood behind it. She'd never taken the time to memorize the men in blacks' names, for they were never around all that often to converse with. Not that she thought they'd have good conversational skills anyway, they all appeared to be made of stone.

"Agent Parker," The man greeted stonily. Liz nodded her acknowledgement and leaned against the side of her desk with her arms crossed defensively over her chest.

"What can I do for you?" She asked curiously. It was a rare occurrence when someone sent them to talk to her directly.

"Agent Pierce would like to speak with you," He stated, and upon her disinterest of moving, he add, "Now."

Liz suppressed another sigh and pushed herself from the desk. "Very well," She said. The suit remained in her doorway, and it became apparent he was to escort her. Hmm, must be serious. She took a moment to shrug her dress jacket back on before she walked towards the door. Liz flipped off the light and pulled the door shut behind her, and then followed the mechanical man in front of her.

"Did he say why?" Liz finally broke the disturbing silence with her question. He didn't answer.

She had been right on their lack of conversational skills.

<center>* * *</center>

He held the door open for her and Liz nodded her head politely. Pierce's office was just as lavish as she had expected. He actually had carpet, nice carpet. He had a view over looking a vast desert, which didn't seem to appealing today, but it faced the sunset. And Pierce rarely left before dark. His desk was large and his chair looked enticingly comfortable. There was a chaise up against the wall adjacent to the window. Two comfortable looking chairs sat in front of his desk for guests.

The door shut soundly behind her, and Liz realized she was alone with a man that gave her the creeps.

But he didn't have to know that.

Daniel J. Pierce turned. He's a handsome young man, probably in his early thirties, and the youngest man ever recruited to the head of the Special Unit. Just as Liz was the youngest - not to mention only female - recruited as an agent for said unit. She took as much pride in that fact, as she was sure Pierce did concerning himself.

"Agent Parker," He greeted warmly, his smile seductive. "It's nice to see you. Please, have a seat."

Liz politely complied and seated herself in the comfortable chair he had indicated. Pierce rounded the desk and stopped in front of her. He leaned his weight against the desk and pondered her with his gaze. She allowed the silence to go on for a few minutes longer, his gaze intensifying, before she had finally had enough.

"Is there something wrong, Sir?" She asked, her voice calm and steady, and her eyes revealing no indication of fear. She was a good agent; she only showed what she wanted them to see. But Pierce was just as good - if not better - of an agent, and something told her he knew that.

"No, no," He reassured with a chuckle and stroked his chin. "Nothing's wrong Miss Parker, I assure you."

She didn't allow him to see her relax; instead she shifted back in her seat and crossed her left leg over her right knee. The movement didn't go unnoticed by Pierce, and his thoughts seemed to have scattered a moment. Liz did, however, allow him to see her smile at his blatant reaction.

Pierce straightened and walked around to seat himself behind his desk. He too leaned back in his chair, his arms propped up by the armrests, and his fingers steepled. Thoughtfully, he pressed his index fingers to his lips. "How long have you been working for us, Agent Parker?" He asked, his tone hinting on the underlying seriousness of the matter.

Without hesitation, Liz spoke. "Five years for the Bureau," She stated. "Going on eight months in the Special Unit."

He thought this over, his expression giving nothing away. "Fresh enough to be considered a rookie," Pierce pointed out with a sly smile.

"And already I have been promoted to field work on top of working behind a desk. I do believe, Sir, that you were the one who promoted me," She said pointedly, her own smile gracing her beautiful features. Pierce chuckled at this and Liz continued. "I assure you, Sir, I have no rookie tendencies. I'm just as capable as any other man on this job. I'm not sure, however, if you realize this."

Pierce held his hands up in surrender and laughed heartily this time. "I hope you aren't going to turn this around and into some sexist matter," He grinned at her suppressed glare. "Parker, you're the best agent I have, that I know. However," He redirected the conversation, and stood once again from the desk to pace towards his window. "I'm not sure if I can trust you just yet."

Earning his trust was something she had spent months of her life trying to do. His trust in her was very high on her priority list. If he didn't trust her, her plan would be ruined, and years of her life would have been wasted away for nothing. Liz feared her silence was going on longer than warranted.

"We're bringing in some...specimens," Pierce finally spoke, and turned to face her. "You're area of expertise could be used."

Liz slowly rose. This could be it, she thought. She walked towards him, her arms crossed over her chest. "What kind of specimens?" She questioned.

Pierce smirked and shook an admonishing finger at her. He ignored her question. "You won't be directly involved, but indirectly," He elaborated as he reached for a file on his desk. "You'll observe, take notes, all together tell me what we have."

He approached her once more and handed her a thick file. She glanced at it with great interest hidden behind a facade of indifference, as if it were just an ordinary case, and then pierced him with her eyes. Her mouth opened to speak but she was silenced with a finger on her lips.

"You'll have to build my trust to get any further than that," He commented in a hushed tone. Her eyes acknowledged him, and once again Pierce wished he could mix business with pleasure. His finger trailed lazily down her jaw line and the length of her elegant neck. She didn't even have the good grace to shiver at his touch. He smiled at this.

Pierce stepped away, much to Liz's relief. "You're dismissed," He stated and then returned to his desk, intent on getting to work.

Liz left without a word.

<center>* * *</center>

The redhead laughed at the sudden, startled look that came across his face. He dug frantically into his pocket. "Are you okay?" She queried past her mirth.

"Uh, my beeper," He mumbled absently and continued his silent search. He had completely forgotten he had set it on vibrate, and was quickly coming to the conclusion he didn't like it on vibrate. He'd take the annoying beeping any day.

"Tickles like crazy, huh?" She ventured before taking a crunching bite out of her celery stick. He grimaced at her in answer and then peered at the numbers displayed across the beeper's window. His expression fell. Concerned, she eyed him warily. "Everything okay, Alex?"

He stood abruptly from the lunch table, and shoved his meal towards her. "Here, you can have my lunch, Kate," Upon her quizzical look, he continued. "It's an emergency. Could you cover my shift?"

She sighed and dropped her celery stick onto her brown paper bag. "Again, Alex?" He gave her a pleading look and she was goner. "Fine, go. Get your scrawny ass out of my face."

Alex tossed her a goofy grin before he darted across the park and towards his car, all the while pulling his cell phone from his pocket. He pressed the speed dial and brought the phone to his ear just as he climbed into his vehicle.

"Where?" Was his immediate response to the greeting.

"She said she'll meet us at the coffee shop on Main in one hour."

Alex gripped the steering wheel tightly with one hand, as he maneuvered into traffic. "Did she say what was going on?" He asked hesitantly. The emergency code had popped up on his beeper, which told him to drop everything and wait to be contacted for directions to a pre-determined location. The fact that she had chosen a public location said it wasn't a big deal, but it also contradicted the fact she had used the specialized code. Alex's nerves were array.

"She didn't say much of anything. Alex, I gotta go, Kyle is beeping in on the other line."

He didn't expect to hear a goodbye and was right when he was met with dead air. Alex flipped his cell phone and placed it on the dash. As traffic became heavy, he used two hands on the wheel.


"Maria?" Kyle had to plug his open ear with his hand to hear his friend over the commotion. "Listen, I've got a pretty bad situation over here -"

"We meet at the coffee shop in an hour," Maria stated, not giving him room for discussion. "Can you make it or not?"

He surveyed his surroundings. They had a pretty serious hostage situation at the First Union Bank. The chances of it being contained in an hour...

Kyle sighed, knowing what he had to do. "Yeah, I'll be there." He flipped shut his phone and tossed it back into his bag. Today wasn't turning out to be his day.

"Valenti," Lt. Rice called to him from the utility van. Kyle jogged over and eagerly climbed into the air-conditioned van. His SWAT uniform was killing him in this heat.

His Lieutenant handed him a phone connected to the bank’s line from the inside. He mouthed the name Kellar.

Kyle swiped beads of sweat along his ear before he accepted the phone; he then peered into the monitor to watch as their negotiator eyed the armed man with anger.

"Valenti," Riannan Kellar, aka Rian, said in the calm voice she frequently uses while on the job. "Did you get the page? What was it about?"

"She wants to meet at the coffee shop in an hour," He told her, and watched as she struggled to keep from pacing. "I don't see how we can manage that given the situation."

Rian covered the receiver and glared at the man with a rifle threatening the lives of the hostages. Her words were muffled, but it sounded something like rude ass followed quickly by a shut up. Kyle cringed at the anger that was inevitably flowing through the already unstable man's veins. Sometimes he wondered if Riannan Kellar was the best choice for a negotiator. She obviously wasn't conventional.

"Well, what did you tell her?" Upon Kyle's silence, Rian raked her hands through her short auburn hair and sighed with frustration. "You go. I'll stay behind and handle things here."

"Rian," Kyle's hesitation was soft. "Are you sure?"

"Yeah, you go, it's gotta be important," She glanced at the riflemen. "And I've got a man to contain down here and I may be a while. Fill me in later." With that, she hung up the phone.

He watched briefly as she tried to suppress the man's anger before the situation turned for the worse. If she couldn't handle it peacefully, they'd have to give the SWAT the go ahead sign. It was something he had been preparing for the past hour and a half.

Kyle looked over at his Lieutenant who had listened quietly the whole time. Rice nodded his head towards the exit. Kyle had informed him before accepting Rice's invitation into the SWAT Team that some things just had to come first. "Get out of here, Valenti."

He rushed out with a hurried thank you, pulling his vest over his head as he went. He deactivated the alarm on his SUV and was inside in three seconds. The tires squealed as he pulled away from the bank; he glanced at his wristwatch. Maybe he could get in a decent shower...


Liz glanced up from the sheets of paper from the file Pierce and given her just in time to Kyle seat himself with the others across the street. She glanced at her wristwatch. Rian should have arrived with him; they normally weren't that far away from each other due to the nature of their careers.

She skimmed over the papers one more time, before she slid them back into their designated folder and then into her briefcase. Something must be holding Rian up and being as everyone else was there, Liz saw no sense in keeping them waiting any longer.

They noticed her before she was fully across the street; Kyle stood to study her face. Dark sunglasses that prevented him from probing her gaze, much to his dismay, shielded Liz’s eyes. She smiled at him reassuringly. "Sit down, Kyle," She instructed as she reached the others.

The group was silent once Liz was seated. "Rian held up?" Liz asked casually and removed her sunglasses. She folded them and placed them in the center of the table. Her action allowed her closest companions to gaze unrestricted into expressive eyes.

"Some idiot is holding up a bank," Kyle explained vaguely as he studied her. "There are hostages."

Liz mouthed "ouch" before settling back in her seat. Whoever had arrived first had ordered a round of coffees; Liz picked up hers and took a sip. From the over sweetening, her guess would be Maria.

She took a moment to gather her thoughts, thankful that her friends were aware enough to give her the silence she needed. Liz took a deep breath.

"They may have found something," She muttered, her eyes focused on peeling the cafe's sticker off her Styrofoam cup. "The files that I was presented with and read over sound promising," She raised her gaze to meet each member of the group. "They're bringing in four specimens."

There was a sharp intake of breath across from her and Liz watched as Kyle settled a hand on Maria's shoulder. Once she was sure Maria was okay, Liz continued, "My area of expertise is needed so I may -"

"Wait," Alex interrupted, his hands signaling a time-out. "You're area of expertise? What is that exactly, Liz?"

She tucked a few of her tendrils that had blown free from her ponytail by the wind behind her ear. "When I was studying criminology in California, I also became certified in biology," Liz explained. "Pierce will want me there to observe some testings; he'll want a wide area of opinions. Mine included."

Alex nodded before motioning her to continue. Liz remained silent a moment longer to allow her thoughts to formulate once more. "Anyway," She began again with a sigh. "I'll be asked to observe their activities. Study their blood and tissue cells. I'll help to determine their status, ultimately."

"And if it's what we've been hoping for?" Maria vocalized what everyone else had been thinking.

Liz licked her lips and gave a nod. "If it's what we've been hoping for," She paused to keep her voice from quaking, and she had to clear her throat. "We go through with the plan."

<center>* * *</center>

The sun was beginning to break through the horizon, coating the sky with blues, pinks, and tints of orange. The full moon could still be seen in the morning sky for the sun had yet to hide it with it's vibrant rays. It was hard to believe it was earth's atmosphere hovering above. Maybe it wasn't. The scene was a beautiful one not meant to be seen alone. And yet she was.

The fury of the storm was beginning to dissipate but the wind gusts remained hard and heavy. She could see the four figures fighting against the wind as they waited.

Waited for their ride home.

The object descended to the ground billowing up cloudy dusts of loose soil. It stopped. The time had come.

Her stomach lurched and she took a step towards them. Even if she broke out into a run, she'd never be able to reach them in time. She'd be too late and he'd be gone. Soft rain continued to fall on her, mingling with fresh tears on her cheeks. He was really leaving? How could he possibly - after all they'd been through?

She stumbled down the rocky cliff; adrenaline surged through her, gave her hope and insisted that she might have a chance. Her foot caught on an already torn fabric of her dress and she tumbled. The ground bit deep into the flesh of her hands, dry dirt attached themselves to her wounds.

A sob escaped her lips unexpectedly and she jerked her head up to see how much farther she had yet to come. They were boarding the craft, one at a time. He was last.

The craft began to shrill loudly and she had to cover her ears against the pain. Through the blurring of her tears she saw him search behind him until he saw her. He held her gaze for a long moment and then turned without a glance.

Max.


Liz startled awake to the continuity shrill ringing of her cell phone. She glanced at her watch to note that it was 6:30 in the evening, before she swung her legs over her couch and reached for the phone on the coffee table in front of her.

"Parker," She mumbled and rubbed her tired face with her free hand.

"So, Kyle filled me in with the basics, but I think I want the more interesting details from you." It was Rian. Glancing at her watch again, Liz guessed she just got in from work.

She sighed and pushed to her feet. "Are you just getting home?" She stalled, needing more time to gather her thoughts instead of diving head first into what they may have to deal with. Liz reached her kitchen and pulled a glass from her cabinet.

"Yeah, had to call in SWAT that guy was so unreasonable," Rian answered, this time through a mouthful of something. Probably ice cream, Liz guessed again. It was the negotiator's routine. Negotiate. File paper work. Go home. Eat ice cream. "You wanna talk about it?"

Liz downed her glass of water and placed it hard on the counter. "You're not talking about the files." She stated, aware that her ever intuitive friend had picked up on her vibes.

Rian swallowed past her ice cream. "No, not yet anyway," She paused and then continued in a soft voice. "The dreams have started, haven't they?"

She'd gone years without having those images invade her subconscious. Liz knew she wouldn't be getting a full night’s sleep anytime in the foreseeable future. Having turned around, she leaned against her counter with her legs crossed at the ankles.

"How can I dream of something I wasn't even there to witness?" She asked rhetorically.

"Maybe it's through your connection with Max."

Liz pushed herself away from the counter fiercely and reentered her living room. "The connection died, Riannan." That wasn't true. The connection between she and Max Evans could never die. But it could be shut off, and that's what Liz has been doing the last eight years.

"Maybe it's been revived," She tried again.

Liz sighed through the phone and sank into the cushions of her couch. The files she had been reading before she had laid down to rest her eyes were still spread out across her coffee table. Desperately, she changed the subject. "All right, so, Pierce gave me as little information as he could," Liz began as she pulled the coffee table closer to her. She hugged the phone between her ear and shoulder as she began to sift through the papers.

"Four specimens, but there's no indication of the sex," She continued. "Three of the four were picked up six months ago. The fourth was captured two weeks later."

"One of them ran," Rian suggested. Liz nodded her silent agreement.

"They've been held at an Eagle Rock Military base," Liz paused momentarily, her eyes scanning over the paragraphs. "But the location has not been released."

"I can look into it," Rian offered. "My guess is it's a small base where simple testings are held. You've got a pretty big facility there, Liz. A lot of room, very secluded, an impenetrable amount of security. They're being moved to safer grounds for the real testing to be done."

Liz remained silent, and allowed Rian’s words to sink in. This was going to prove to be more difficult than they had originally thought. Vaguely, she heard steady and rhythmic tapping against her hardwood floor. She turned to see her Doberman pinscher round her way around the couch. Liz smiled.

"Liz," Rian began when the silence continued on. "Are you completely aware of what we're getting ourselves into?"

She rubbed the rust colored coat of the dog's muzzle with her thumb. "I'm sure," She replied confidently.

Rian seemed to hesitate in her response, before she sighed. "I gotta page," She mumbled, her tone indicating her irritation. "I'll talk to you later. And Liz, don't do anything before running it by us first, okay?"

Liz smiled, knowing Rian wasn't the only one carrying that concern. "I won't, I promise."

A moment later she hung up the phone and leaned back into the couch. Her Doberman, a beautiful animal with a black coat and a rusty color along her muzzle, underside, and legs, laid her head into her owner's lap having sensed her mood. She whimpered and nuzzled Liz's palm with her snout, hoping to produce a smile.

Liz's smile was small as she scratched behind the dogs finely cropped ears. "Hey there Scully," She smirked at her dog's response of wagging that stubby tail. Liz glanced over the end of the couch; normally Scully's brother was just around the corner.

She remembered when she had purchased Scully and her littermate that had appropriately been named Mulder. The names had been drawn from a hat of suggestions that each member of the group and offered. Alex and Kyle had come up with Mulder and Scully from the beloved series X Files. They had plenty laughs over that one.

She gave a final pat on her dog's head before she stood to her feet. Scully followed her, knowing that it was time for their food bowls to be filled. Minutes later Dog Chow clattered into bowls in which quickly attracted the attention of her missing dog.

Mulder bounded down the steps, his paws clattering and skidding across the slick hardwood floor, before he darted into the kitchen. He glanced up at Liz, with those great big, coal black eyes, as if to say a quick thank you, before he joined his sister at the dinner bowls.

Liz popped her own meal into the microwave and then returned to her couch. She linked her fingers together and pressed the back of her left hand to her mouth. The hole was getting too deep, too dark, and the further Liz dug herself, the more afraid she became that wouldn't be able to get back out again.

Gathering the papers together, Liz set them aside to be looked over again another time.


Here's a little AN explaining a few things...

Author's Note #2:

This will be a pretty long note, because I feel there's a lot I have to explain about the story, the characters, etc., etc.

Just bits and pieces after Four Square will happen, but for the most part it'll will be completely winged from there. Max won't be captured therefore he won't need rescuing. However, Valenti does learn of Max's secret - after all, Topolsky all but told him he was an alien. And in turn Kyle knows. So, it's now six humans and five aliens (can't forget Naesado) once more.

Years go by - there may be some mention of the Skins attacking (where Naesado meets his fate, just like in the show), or maybe not; the podsters have bigger problems in the future - and the group has now graduated from high school. Using the idea that Max and Liz get married at eighteen from the show, the group leaves Roswell - minus Sheriff Valenti - and head off to start a life together. They have paired off in couples and begin to plan the Parker/Evans wedding. The Parkers and Evans' aren't at all pleased with their kids' choice of early marriage and tell them that if they follow through, they can't be relied on for support. This gives me the leverage to use or disuse the parental characters as I please. I've decided that they will have a little to no role in this fic at all. As well as my beloved Sheriff - which kind of upsets me, but I couldn't find a good role for him. :? We'll see as the story progresses.

At this point you’ve read the prologue….

Now for the characters...

Liz: For the longest time, Liz didn't believe that Max and others left but were taken by the FBI. She goes to college, becomes a police officer, and then applies for a position in the FBI in Arizona. Later, she is recruited to the Special Unit. At this point, there is only a tiny sliver of hope that the aliens have been captured and that she'd find them. She holds resentment towards the pod squad - mostly Max - for leaving them/her. You'll find that she can be frigid and bitter at times, but only when dealing with Max in general. Otherwise, she's still the same Liz, but stronger and more independent.

Maria: Hurt by the fact that Michael left her - despite the fact he gave her a personal goodbye, unlike Max did with Liz - she buries her self in school and later on work. She's a forensic pathologist. She holds a very high maintenance job that is very detail oriented and requires a lot of time and thought directed to that subject only. It is how she tries to forget Michael. I have researched just slightly on forensic science; I don't think I can pull off the technical stuff, so you won't read much about her being on the job.

Alex: He was the least affected by the aliens departure. Isabel still gave him the cold shoulder on the topic of dating - something she'll begin to regret. He'll find that his feelings for Isabel have never depleted, but in fact, may have grown stronger. Our computer guru installs security systems for businesses and homes. In fact, he has been inside the FBI Center for the installation of the security system. (Something that can be used to Liz's advantage.)

Kyle: His and Tess's relationship was just developing, and he was devastated to find out she left. He feels that he never really meant anything to her, and soon becomes a playboy. :roll: He joins the SWAT team - no Sheriff position, but something Jim is very proud of. His weaponry and tactics - along with Liz's capabilities - prove to be a key role for their "plan". He also hones some mad car driving skills.

Riannan Kellar: Yes, she is an alien, and no she didn't personally know Max and the others. She was a stowaway on the ship that came to pick up the others. Intrigued by the humans’ reactions to the aliens’ departure, she follows and watches them from afar. At a later point in time, she reveals herself to them and is accepted into the group. Liz, Maria, Alex and Kyle help her appear more human. Rian is a negotiator for the police force. She often helps Liz be two places at once by her impeccable ability to shape shift.


I hope you all enjoyed, and I'm looking forward to some feedback. :) Thanks ya'll.

TBC

Raychel
Last edited by Raychelxluscious on Sat Jan 16, 2010 6:14 pm, edited 108 times in total.

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Post by Raychelxluscious » Sun Nov 28, 2004 12:38 am

Hey kids, I'm back (not that you knew I left). I'm actually in Ohio visiting some relatives and last night I revised and retyped part two of the story! So, here it is!

First, I'd like to direct all of you regulars to the first page and check out my awesome banner created by the fantabulous mrsjbehr. In the banner will be a picture of "Riannan", which is wonderful since I really had trouble picturing her myself. Now, I can actually put a face to her. =)

Thanks, mrsjbehr. =)

And also, thanks to all of you who left the incredible feedback. You are all awesome. =)

And on with the story...



<center>Part Two</center>

She could remember the days, the months, the years after their departure. She was all too acutely aware of the fear that had resided in her for moments on end, wondering what had truly happened to them. Liz had never believed that Max would just leave her like that, with only a hastily written note as a goodbye. No, instead she had feared for the worst; they had been captured. And it was then that Liz took it upon herself to find them.

She commuted to a college in California, double majoring in criminology and biology. She was a member of the LAPD for a year and a half before she filed an application to become a Federal agent. She got her badge at the age of twenty-three and had been quickly relocated to Arizona. Needless to say, her friends had followed her in the move. It had been at that time, when her thoughts of finding her beloved had grown ever stronger, that her friends had planted the seed of doubt in her mind. Max and the others hadn't been captured - she wouldn't find them in a secret lab out in the middle of nowhere - they had left. Plain and simple.

And her heart had been shattered into pieces. Plain and simple.

Her desk job was, for a lack of a better adjective, boring. It would have been easy for Liz to turn away, quit her job as a FBI agent and pursue something more rewarding, but for the life of her she couldn't bring herself to do it. There had still been that one tiny, sliver of hope thriving in her that she would find them again. And rescue them.

Now, she was hoping if they did get captured - the stupid bastards - they'd be moved to her unit and she'd be able to break their sorry asses out.

Liz still worked the desk at times, but she had quickly been promoted to actual fieldwork: undercover work, protection assignments, etc. It wasn't until she got a notice signed by a Daniel J. Pierce asking her to apply for a position in the infamous Special Unit, did Liz find her job worthwhile. She was ecstatic that her pay had increased significantly and that she was one step closer to finding the others. But mostly, she was happy about the pay raise.

With the new figures being added to her check, Liz had been able to purchase a house that was closer to the facility she worked. She bought her dream home: spacious two story home with lots of land for her dogs to roam, instead of the beat up apartment in the city. With the help of Alex, she installed a security system that covered not only the area of the house but the outside perimeter of her land as well. The downside was it was a good fifty-odd minutes outside of town and away from her friends.

Liz had grown accustom to the solitude, however, and enjoyed the nights when she could sit out on her porch with her two companions and watch the stars over head. It had been a difficult task for her at first for it reminded her that they were out there somewhere, but as the years grew on she found the action soothing and serene.

And at the very moment, Liz longed to be on her back porch below the stars sipping a tall glass of ice tea.

She pulled her reading glasses from her eyes and placed them on the desk beside her laptop. Her eyes were tired and achy from reading the tiny words on the screen and her mind had begun to go numb from the blah of it all. The digital numbers at the bottom right corner of her computer screen said it was time for her to leave.

...In forty-five minutes...

Screw it.

Liz shut down her computer, stuffed it in its case, and stood from her desk. Who cared if she arrived home forty-five minutes early? She sure as hell didn't.

She slid into her jacket and lifted her locks to fall back down her back. Liz did a mental check to make sure she had everything, before she grabbed her briefcase and exited the office. The hallways were quiet, as usual, and the lights above flickered on and off, alerting the staff of the inevitable task of changing the bulbs when the time came. Liz's steady steps were the only sounds resonating off the walls. The security cameras strategically installed in corners of the hallways captured her every move. Later, the tape would be reviewed, saved, and sealed away in some vault for later scrutiny if needed. They would be her biggest obstacles.

She kept her gaze straight ahead, and refused to allow the eyes behind the lens to know she was aware of their presence. It was better to appear to be guilt-free. Liz finally reached the exit and said a warm goodbye to the security guard on duty, Lawrence.

"How can I get myself a free breakfast?" Lawrence joked as he buzzed her through the door.

"Beat me a poker," Liz answered with a sly wink. "Though, it is highly unlikely. We all know that Joseph cheated."

Lawrence’s laugh was a deep, reverberating roar. "I wonder what he'd say if he found out you thought that way."

Liz grimaced in response and pressed the button on the elevator. "I don't want to find out,” She smiled at Lawrence as the doors slowly glided open. "I'll see you tomorrow."

"Later, Parker."

The elevator descended slowly and quietly. There was a slight lurch once it hit her floor, and the inside lights flickered when the doors slid open. Liz considered the elevators safety, again, before she stepped into the parking garage.

Immediately, she was blown over by a strange, tingling sensation that coursed through her entire body. Starting at the tips of her toes and fingers, it continued its course of travel until it awakened and activated every live nerve ending in her body. Liz staggered backwards and leaned hard against the grimy wall behind, her hands braced stiffly against the cool surface of the concrete. Her chest heaved heavily as her eyes scanned the proximity of the parking garage. She instantly realized that she wasn't alone.

Never before had she reacted so strongly to a presence - any presence - and the realization scared her. Quickly, she pushed herself away from the wall and, with long strides, marched across the parking garage, her legs leading her. The heels of her shoes beat angrily against the concrete surface of the floor and echoed hollowly throughout the garage. The farther she went, the more intense the tingling sensation became, the more her body itched, almost yearned for her to find the source and…Then what?

Abruptly, the sensation left her. Vanished from her body so quickly it momentarily took her breath away. She stopped in mid-stride and surveyed her surroundings as if she were to find anything suspicious. A frown pleated her brow as she tried to conjure up some explanation - anything to put her mind at ease.

And then her acute hearing picked up on something.... It was voices that originated from the deck below her. Interest piqued, she walked over to the end of the garage, and peered carefully over the concrete railing. Below her, she saw an unidentifiable, white van parked at the unloading entrance of the basement. The trunk of the vehicle faced away from her, leaving her no way to read the license plate or see what was being unloaded.

Two men came from the basement clad in white scrubs, their face shielded by clear, plastic safety masks as they made their way to the van. Two other men stood on either side of the van with semi-automatic weapons in their possession.

"We have a struggler here,” One of the gunmen spoke. The others seemed to acknowledge the man's comment by using brute force to pull something from the back of the van.

Liz caught a flash of bare skin, a patch of brown hair, and heard a few colorful words to describe that there indeed was a struggle going on, before a large man with the gun blocked her view. Consequentially, she was unable to see much else, before the same man brought the butt of his weapon down on the struggling member's head. Upon the sound of a dull thud, Liz turned away - appalled - and was met with steady, red glare of the security camera ahead. It was panned directly on her.

With the realization she had seen much more than she should have, Liz calmly adjusted the shoulder strap of her bag and walked back across the lot to her car. She revealed nothing in her trek, not a single emotion. She dared not even breathe until she was in the confines of her vehicle, safely hidden by the tinted windows. Even then, she refused to allow the shudders to surface until she was miles away from the facility.

<center>* * *</center>

Maria DeLuca staggered through the door of her apartment with an agitated curse. She ripped her key from the dead bolt, and kicked the door shut with an angry force, causing the slam to reverberate off her walls. After adjusting her grocery bags in her arms, she made a mental note - that would soon be forgotten in her mind - to get the damned door fixed, so she wouldn't fall all over herself every time she tried to get inside.

The keys clattered against the porcelain bowl that sat on a tastelessly painted green stool in her entry hall. She toed off her white sneakers and made another mental note to wipe away the spot of blood on the tip of her shoe before she made her way into her kitchen.

What sounded like a mass of people screaming obscenities to each other rang loudly in her ears. She leaned over the counter that separated her kitchen and living room and noticed a pair of socked feet propped up on her expensive Cherry Oak coffee table. Her blood boiled instantaneously.

Maria dropped her grocery bags on the counter, with no regards to the eggs nestled inside, and marched into her living room with a huff.

"You blood-sucking coach potato!" She declared angrily, not even surprising the beautiful, auburn haired woman slouched deep into Maria's furniture, as she leisurely ate ice cream on the couch. "What in God's name are you doing?"

The woman regarded Maria with pale turquoise eyes as she licked the back of her spoon. "Hey Maria," She greeted monotonously, her eyes averting back to the television set before her. "How was work?"

"Feet off the coffee table, Count Spud," Maria demanded haughtily and swatted angrily at Rian’s feet. The woman complied a bit lazily, which only angered her more. "What are you doing here, Riannan? And what are you watching?" People started to chant Jerry! over and over on the television, and it was swiftly beginning to annoy her.

Rian shrugged a bit carelessly, her eyes still trained on the television screen. "That chick right there," She paused and pointed her dripping spoon at the busty blonde in the tube. "Her husband claims he's woman trapped in a man's body."

Maria's brows raised and she became compelled enough to spare a second and watch the scene as well. At that moment, she was presented with a pair of breasts, obviously implants, which was just one part of the man's change to become a woman.

"Oh, God," She complained dramatically with aghast. "Why are you watching this filth? Can't you find the remote?"

Rian scooped another spoon full of vanilla ice cream with mustard from the container. It hovered in the air before her mouth. "You know how you come upon a crime scene with blood and guts galore, and you just can't bring yourself to look away?" She asked, knowing that Maria could relate. "Yeah, well, this is kind of like that."

Maria rolled her eyes and saved them both the trouble by turning off the television with a poke of her big toe.

"Ah, Maria, they were just getting to the part about having his penis removed."

Ignoring her comment, Maria crossed her arms over her torso and glared hard. "I ask again, what are you doing here?"

"Alex wasn't home yet and I needed my ice cream fix." Rian shrugged nonchalantly, as if it was an everyday occurrence for her to be found on someone else's couch in the late afternoon.

Exasperated, Maria began to wipe away the feet smudges on the table with her sleeve, silently cursing the cop in front of her. "And it didn't occur to you to go to your place?"

"I was out of mustard," Rian explained and swirled the melting ice cream around with her spoon. "And furthermore, you're closer."

"Kyle's closer than I am, why didn't go to his place?"

Now that the ice cream was melted, it not longer appealed to her; Rian placed the carton on the coffee table and moaned as she stretched languidly. She shrugged again. "He doesn't like vanilla," After a moment, she pouted and batted her long, fluttering eyelashes at her friend. "You know you're the only one I can trust with my fix, Maria."

"Ice cream is melting all over my table!" Maria screeched as she swiped the carton from the table and raced to the kitchen with it.

Rian rolled her eyes and mentally turned on the television. She hadn't been able to find the remote either. The previous couple was gone, and in their place there was a lesbian couple openly making out on television. Repulsed, Rian rolled her eyes and turned off the television. She pouted about the information she missed, but soon shrugged it off; she really should be heading home anyway.

"Have you even heard from her, Ann?" Maria asked from the kitchen, as she methodically began to put her groceries in their specific order. Ann was the nickname she had given Riannan, for she refused to recognize her as Rian. Maria’s own form of her name used to annoy her to no end, but now Rian was indifferent.

Rian bent down to pick up her sneakers from beneath the coffee table. "Not since the other night," She answered back as she loosened the laces. "I even tried to call her, but she never returned them."

Maria poked her head out of the kitchen and peered at her thoughtfully. "What do you say we drive over there and see what's up? We can kidnap her and take her to Sid’s to unwind." She suggested and raised her eyebrows. Sid’s was a bar in town that the gang loved to attend but rarely got the chance.

After she finished tying her shoes, Rian straightened raised her arms over her head and tilted backwards. Loud, crunching cracks sounded all the way down her spinal column. She sighed and relaxed. "Can't. I'm on call," The fuzzy vibration on her hip alerted her that her assistance was surely needed. "Speak of the devil," She muttered to herself and pulled her beeper from her pocket. A familiar number blinked back at her. "Gotta run."

"Uhh, listen," Rian called once she reached the doorway and began to shrug on her lightweight jacket. "You might want to check on Snuffy."

"Snuffy?" Maria asked worriedly. "Why? What did you do?"

She almost felt bad by Maria's fearful expression. "Well, the damn cat wanted some of my ice cream, and you know how I like to share, so I didn't exactly say No, kitty...I think it may have made her a little bit sick -"

"What?" Maria exclaimed.

"See ya." And Rian was out the door before she could be reprimanded. She took the flight of steps two at time, until she pushed through the exit and onto the sidewalk. Whipping out her cell phone, she flipped down the receiver and pressed speed dial. By the second ring, she was buckled in her Ford Expedition, and other line was picked up.

"What's up?" She asked as she started the ignition. The engine roared to life, and she smiled as her baby purred all around her.

"How fast can you get here?" Liz asked. Her tone was steady and calm, but Rian picked up on the underlying urgency in her voice.

"Well, I do have my super cool flashing cop lights for a reason, Liz," She replied as she pulled into traffic. "What's up?"

Liz started to say something, but she thought against it. "I'll explain when you get here, just hurry." And she disconnected the call without a good bye.

Rian mumbled something about proper phone etiquette, before she flipped the receiver closed and tossed it into the passengers seat. It took an extra moment to position the flasher on the roof, but finally she was able to flip on the lights - like she had been yearning to do all day.

She pulled her shades from the dash and perched them on her nose. She watched with an odd sense of pleasure as cars began to disperse all around her. She grinned.

"Oooh yeah."

<center>* * *</center>

Liz peered through the steam wafting from her coffee mug as the door to her home swung open. Riannan stood over the threshold with a sheepish grin on her face. It always unnerved Liz the way her friend could so easily manipulate her security system so she wouldn’t be detected. Had it been anyone else, Liz would have been immediately alerted that someone was outside with the first twist of the doorknob. As it was, Rian silently deactivated the alarm – that only sounded on the inside, so as to not alert the intruder – and had quietly entered her home.

"Sorry, I'm late," Rian apologized and shoved her sunglasses up to rest on her head. She lifted a plastic bag and swayed it in the air enticingly. "I had to stop for goodies. We got orange soda and vanilla ice cream. You've got mustard right?"

Liz shook her head apologetically even as she struggled not to wrinkled her nose in obvious disgust. "Just mayo."

She considered the condiment with a tilt of her head. "Maybe. We'll see," Then she sifted through the bag further. "Oreos and Snickers for you, but the rest are for me. Oh," Rian paused and pulled out a box of Milk Bones. "And treats for the Mutt and Muttley."

Liz rolled her eyes but smiled despite herself. "Thank, Rian."

"So," She hedged as she made her way into Liz's kitchen. "What's up?"

Liz set her coffee on the table and tucked her feet beneath her petite form. Her back rested against the armrest of the couch, and an afghan neatly covered her body, while a pensive frown pleated her brow. Rian returned moments later, her arms cradling the carton of ice cream, two spoons, and a squeeze bottle of mayonnaise. She sat on the opposite end of the couch, and mimicked Liz's position as she fixed her with a pointed stare.

They sat in silence for a few moments longer. Rian continually spooned scoops of ice cream from the carton and squirted it with a hefty amount of mayo. After the first hesitant taste, she was pleasantly surprised to find it tasted good - delicious in fact.

"You know," Rian began as she licked a drop of ice cream from her large spoon. Hmm, she could never get enough of it.. "I've got work in the morning, so if you think you could,” She rotated her wrist in an onward motion. "Speed things up a bit, that would be fantastic."

"I wanted to tell you before I told the others because,” Liz paused and pinched the bridge of her nose in an effort to ward off an oncoming headache. "Because I know you won’t jump to conclusions or demand a source of action to be taken immediately. I know you'll be more level headed than anyone else. But first, I want you to promise me you won’t tell the others – not until I say."

Intrigued, Rian dropped the spoon into the carton and placed it on the table. “I promise,” She swore.

She stalled a moment longer to gather her thoughts. "When I was leaving work today, I felt something, or rather someone," Anxious, Liz threw the afghan off to stand up to pace. "It hit me the second I stepped off the elevator. I wasn't alone, someone else was near by - I could sense them. It was different from what I learned in training with the FBI, different from just knowing that someone was there," Liz stopped abruptly, her back facing Rian, and crossed her arms over her torso as a chilled shiver coursed up her spine. "It was...alien."

Suddenly wired, Rian scooted to the edge of the couch, her feet hitting the floor as she rested her elbows on her thighs. Her turquoise eyes followed Liz's every step until she once again stilled, this time in front of the fire place.

"So, naturally, I investigated."

"Naturally." She agreed with a nod. "Go on."

"What I saw by no means is solid evidence. It's just a poss-"

"Oh, damn it, Liz, spit it out!"

Liz heaved a sigh and slowly turned to face one of her closest friends. "I saw these men, dressed in those white bio-hazardous suits, drag someone from the back of a truck. I only saw a glimpse him, a flash of skin and brown hair, but -"

"You think it's them." Rian concluded, her excitement at the possibility heightening in increments.

"No," Liz corrected vehemently as she shook her head rapidly. At that moment, she leaned helplessly against the wall, and then slide down the expanse. Her knees bunched up at her chest and her arms wrapped securely around them. Tiredly, she continued, "I think my mind is playing tricks on me. I think I want so badly for all of my training and hard work to not be in vain. I just..."

Liz trailed off at a loss of what else to say. Indifferently, she shrugged her shoulders and leaned her head against the wall. "I guess I just want all of this to be worth it."

"Liz," Rian stood from the couch and closed the short distance between them. She crouched in front of her and cupped the girl's hands in her own. "Whether we are able to find them or not, everything you've achieved thus far will be worth it."

Liz desperately wanted to believe her, but her optimism seemed to dwindle with each passing day. "How can you be so sure?"

"Trust me,” Rian whispered. "It'll all be worth it."

Liz leaned rested her forehead against their joined hands. She could only hope.





TBC

I'm almost finished with Part Three; I just need to type up the last 1/4 of it, revise, and then it'll be ready for posting. However, I'm not sure how much time I will have after tomorrow, so don't be expecting another update in the near, near future. But I promise to return as quickly as I can. =) Thanks!

Raychel

PS

I swear I revised this part, but if there are any grammatical and/or spelling errors that I missed, I apologize now. I didn't finish the revisions until about 3 this morning (the only time I can use the computer is late at night). So, please forgive me. - end of post-script -
Last edited by Raychelxluscious on Sun Nov 28, 2004 10:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Roswell, New Mexico S1 Watch Party

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Raychelxluscious
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Post by Raychelxluscious » Thu Dec 02, 2004 9:33 pm

Hey people,

Thank you again for the termendous feedback. =) I really do appreciate and it inflates my ego. ;)

I hope you enjoy this next part, and do let me know what you think. =)



<center>Part Three</center>

By the time Liz arrived to her office the next morning, she was too anxious to work. Her mind was consumed with thoughts of her new case, and what it may represent. She had reason to believe that very soon she’d be added to the team of scientists studying the new specimens. She couldn’t wait to see what they were dealing with for herself. Then, with all her suspicions confirmed, she and the others would be able to go on as planned.

Liz went over the plot in her mind again, looking for any sort of discrepancies, as she typed up mandatory paperwork. For the past eight months, she, Kyle, Riannan, and Alex have devised - at extreme lengths - the course of action to be taken. Liz had even been able to get two of her friends inside the facility as part of the pre-plan action. Alex, because he worked for the security company the Special Unit is affiliated with, and Rian, because of her impeccable shape shifting abilities. Now, they have complete blueprints of the entire facility – thanks again, to Rian. There won’t be an area of the building Liz won’t know about when the time came.

It’ll take teamwork from every member in their group to pull off the detailed course of action that they’ve devised. With that knowledge, Liz was confident they’d be able to pull it off with ease and success.

It hit her then; if Max, Michael, Isabel, and Tess were the specimens she’ll be experimenting on, how will thing change once she has helped them escape? As Liz pondered that question her keystrokes slowed to an eventual stop. What would change? What would stay the same?

How would the take to Riannan?

Liz smiled at the thought of her newest friend. She couldn’t imagine her life without her, for Riannan had helped her through some of her darkest times.

Of course, Alex, Kyle, and Maria had all be wonderful and helped with her heartache, but they were scarred too. She couldn’t expect them to carry their own pity and be burdened with hers as well. That was where Riannan stepped in. She gave each member of her family – because that’s what they were to her – all the strength they needed. Rian helped Liz understand why Max, and the others, had to leave, and slowly melted the ice that had formed over her heart.

Rian had been the first to tell Liz that the FBI hadn’t captured the others. For years, her friend had been quiet and allowed Liz to go on living in denial, with hopes that she’d soon snap out of it. However, when she didn’t Rian reminded her again and again that they were on Antar; they were safe. Soon, Maria, Kyle, and Alex had joined in trying to convince Liz of that notion, but she hadn’t taken the bait. They were in danger - she knew it. And now it would appear that she had been partially right all along.

Liz had finally made believers out of her friends one night, just under a year ago, when she had been plagued a dream. She dreamt of a beautiful sunset in the desert horizon. The sky was painted with hues of purple, pink, orange, and deep reds. Clouds were engulfed in a halo of light by the last fading rays of the sun. Then, the noise started. A whirring sound of an aircraft as it descended towards Earth’s surface at incredible speeds.

She hadn’t been able to see the landing, but she had witnessed four, undistinguishable figures, step from the craft and she knew it was they.

When Liz had relayed her dream to Rian, the change in her friend’s way of thinking had been instantaneous. Rian trusted Liz, and trusted what she saw. She believed that through Liz’s connection with Max, that she had been able to witness their return home.

The only problem was, they had no way of knowing how accurate in time her dream was. As far as anyone knew, they may have landed on Earth months prior to Liz’s dream.

Discovering when they landed would have to come later; right now, all Liz was worried about was getting them safely away from wherever they were. And she was confident they were right under her nose.

A sharp, brisk knock startled Liz from her thoughts. She barely had enough time to issue an invitation before the door to her office swung open, and the same man, donned in the typical black suit, who had come for her the other day met her with his cool gaze.

“Agent Pierce is asking for you,” He said stonily and waited patiently for her to rise and follow him.

Liz only nodded her acknowledgement, before she stood and shrugged on her black, dress jacket. Then she followed him through the door and down the hallway.

This was it.

<center>* * *</center>

He didn’t lead her to Pierce’s office, but instead led her to the only elevator that dropped to the laboratories a floor down. Liz recalled having been given a tour of the building when she had first been accepted as an agent for the Special Unit. Her tour guide, a man in black not quit as stone cold as the man leading the way, briefly toured her through the exact unit she was being directed to now.

The hallways were long and wide for easy transportation of carts and gurneys. The ceiling and floors were white, and the hurt her eyes due to the stark brightness. The air smelled to medicinal products and burned her nose with every inhalation. There seemed to be more security cameras mounted on the walls than in the upstairs floors. Alex would have deal with that when the time came.

Abruptly, the man stopped and turned expectedly towards her. In his outstretched hand was a plastic card key.

“The key will grant you access to this room only,” He explained and waited for her to accept it. “Don’t lose it.”

As Liz reached for it, she looked around for the door she would have to use the key to open. Once he stepped aside and embarked on his exit, she noticed the door behind him – just barely. It was painted white and blended inconspicuously with the wall. An electronic device was installed just above the doorknob. Liz waited until she could not longer hear the man’s retreating footsteps, before she anxiously swiped the key through. She barely touched the knob before it swung open. Inside, Agent Pierce and another, slightly older, gentlemen lifted their heads from a microscope to stare at her.

Pierce smiled broadly and stepped away from his companion to meet Liz across the room. “Ah, Agent Parker, I’m very pleased that you could make it,” He gushed, obviously extremely happy to see her. “Agent Parker, I’d like you to meet Dr. Philip Cornwell, one of my most trusted scientists. Dr. Cornwell, this is Agent Elizabeth Parker, one of FBI’s finest agents.”

The doctor removed his latex gloves before he offered his hand in a welcoming shake. “I’m very pleased to meet you, Agent Parker.” He greeted sincerely.

Liz nodded and smiled warmly. “It’s a pleasure to meet you as well, Doctor, but, please, call me Liz.”

“Well, okay,” He conceded with a wink and a grin. “But only if you call me Philip.”

Liz chuckled lightly, but nodded in agreement. Pierce, obviously happy with the introductions, looked at Liz pointedly. “You’ll be working very closely with Dr. Cornwell for the next several weeks, Liz,” He explained, and seemed to have taken the liberty to use her first name as well. She didn’t want him to partake in such liberties, but nodded her acknowledgement nonetheless.

Liz took a moment to survey her surroundings as Pierce and Cornwell chatted briefly about her credentials, both has a biology major and a FBI agent. She remembered from the previous tour that most of the laboratories consisted of the lab itself and then an adjoining cell separated only by a wall-sized pane of glass that served as a double-sided mirror. The glass enabled the scientists to conduct experiments while keeping a watchful eye on the specimens in the adjacent cell. As Liz looked around now, she noticed that the room was the size of a lab and cell together, but as far as she could tell, it was simply a lab; there was no cell in which to hold the specimens.

Liz looked questioningly at Pierce. Upon his swift, knowing glance in her direction, she then recalled the words he had spoken to her when she had first been assigned to the case. You won't be directly involved, but indirectly. You'll have to build my trust to get any further than that

As realization dawned on her, Pierce once again fixed his gaze on her. “Dr. Cornwell will serve as a mentor to you,” He explained further. “And if he has nothing but good things to say about you, then maybe there will be a promotion awarded.” He then winked conspiratorially – or maybe it was seductively - at her.

It took all of Liz’s strength not to roll her eyes at his blatant suggestion. She hoped he meant a promotion within the case.

“Well,” Pierce began as he glanced down at the face of his watch. “I must be going. I have a very important meeting to attend,” He glanced between his two employees and nodded. “Work hard.”

After he left, Liz turned and smiled genially at the doctor. For the next several weeks, this Dr. Philip Cornwell, will be serving as an adviser to her. Liz would have to see to it that she got on his good graces.

“Well, Liz, shall we start?” Philip asked with barely restrained excitement. By the exuberant smile on his face and the dazzling sparkle in his eyes, Liz could tell that he was anxious to get started on the specimens.

He quickly handed her a white lab coat, latex gloves, and safety goggles – just in case. “Today we will be conducting simple cell tests using the blood and tissue samples that we have collected from our four specimens,” Philip then indicated to a microscope with his hand. His eyes were a lit with delight. “Why don’t you take a look at tell me what you see.”

<center>* * *</center>

The gym was eerily quiet and completely deserted, which was exactly how he liked it. There were no added background noise of metal grinding or treads reeling, it was just him and his breathing. Kyle lifted the ten-pound weights, alternating each hand, for one more rep of bicep curls, before he placed the weights back on the rack. Then, he sat back down on the bench and admired himself in the mirror.

He hated working out with a large group around, because one way or another it always turned into some time of competition. Kyle Valenti was most definitely the competitive type, but he didn’t go to the gym to show off. Instead, he went simply to work on his one-push-up-away-from-perfect physique. And, of course, to pick up the ladies. What lady wouldn’t want this?

At that moment, a lady did enter the gym. Quickly, Kyle assessed her and all too soon labeled her as untouchable – which was an utter shame too. She had short hair that shined with health and lots of special care. She was soft and muscled in all the right places. She even had long, slender legs, which told Kyle she was a runner. However, it was those long legs that gave her at least a two-inch height advantage over him. His cut-off was 5’8.5” and she was just over.

The woman met his gaze and smiled knowingly. She approached him, her slender hips sashaying out of habit, not to gain any attention. She stopped in front of him, dropped her gym bag at his feet, and placed her hands on her narrow hips.

“You checkin’ out my bod, Valenti?”

Kyle rolled his eyes and laid back on the bench, preparing to do some bench pressing. “Get real, Kellar,” He grunted as he lifted the bar from the metal hands and started to pump it over his chest.

Rian quickly rounded the bench until she was at his head, ready to spot for him if need be.

“I take it the PD’s gym is still packed,” Kyle said through clenched teeth. He expelled a deep breath and urged himself on.

“Yep,” Rian answered tersely, for she too enjoyed a quite and empty gym. Her hands would jerk every so often out of reflex, just itching to reach out and help with the burden of the weight, as she watched him lift the heavy bar in quick recession. “I take it that’s why you’re here.”

He grunted his response, and then said, “You know me, I’m never one to show off.”

Rian snorted. “Yeah, you’re just humble to boot, Valenti.”

Kyle grimaced and struggled with one more lift, before Rian wordlessly helped him lift the bar back into place. It took a little more effort than it should have for him to sit up, but he managed to do so with out expressing any fatigue. He silently made room for Rian on the bench, and then reached down at his feet for his sweat towel and water bottle. He squirted a hefty amount of the cool liquid into his mouth and then dried his neck and chest with his towel.

They sat in each other’s company for several, silent moments - each of them too busy reflecting the day’s events to say much of anything. Finally, Kyle glanced at her and grinned.

“Are you gonna sit there all day or pump some iron into those scrawny arms.”

He could feel the heat of her glare and he had to stop himself from laughing. Then, to his surprise, Rian lifted her arm and flexed her impressive muscles for him to see. “Take that, Fly-SWATer.”

Kyle raised his eyebrows in admiration. “I never would have thought that negotiators needed much work out hours; except for maybe their brains,” He added.

Rian nodded and draped her arm over her knee. “Aye,” The Irish terminology slipped past her lips completely unawares, thanks to her Lieutenant. “You’ve got to be quick on your feet, otherwise you’ll get an ass full of lead.”

It was easy for Kyle to relate, for he knew first hand what it was like to have your ass full of lead. Wouldn’t Daddy be proud to know that his first gunshot wound was in his ass?

Suddenly, Rian burst into a fit of laughter. Apparently she had guessed the direction of his thoughts. She was laughing so hard, that she doubled over and draped herself over Kyle’s thigh.

“You should have seen your face,” She rushed out through her endless mirth. “When you asked me to heal your wound. It was priceless.”

Ah, yes. Kyle recalled, quite vividly, the time. It took all of his courage to finally ask her to heal him, for the pain was so excruciating. After laughing a while, much like she was doing at the moment, Rian had conceded and put an end to his misery. Kyle smirked; Rian had been forced to touch his ass in order to accomplish such a feat. He also remembered that moment quite vividly as well.

Unexpectedly, all the air rushed from his lungs, and he doubled over, acutely aware of Rian’s bony elbow in his gut. She obviously must have read his train of thought and apparently hadn’t liked it. Kyle composed himself enough to fix her with a narrowed gaze.

“Stay out,” He warned as menacingly as he could past the feat of gulping in air. It was slightly unnerving how easily she could slip into someone subconscious. She swore up and down that most of the time it occurred without any prompting on her part.

Rian’s own eyes narrowed, and Kyle could practically feel the sting of her glare. “Or what?” She challenged. When he had no retort, she stood and marched over to the treadmills at the other side of the gym.

Kyle gave her enough time to turn on one of the machines, step on the treads, and fall into a quick paced jog, before he joined her on an empty one. He quickly fell into step with her, and together they worked up a sweat. Any tension there may have transpired between them, quickly dissipated. Whenever the two had a spat – which were few and far between – they quickly got over it. At the moment, they were just two cops working off some steam.

About ten minutes and a gallon or two of sweat went by before Kyle finally asked the question that had been on his mind all day.

“Have you heard from Liz recently?”

Caught off guard, Rian staggered and just barely steadied herself enough to keep from falling to the rotating treads beneath her feet. She glanced uneasily at Kyle as she turned off her treadmill and walked over to her gym bag.

After he shut down and stepped off his own treadmill, Kyle curiously watched her a moment as she nervously fiddled with the cap of her water bottle and avoided his gaze. Then he approached her, and waited a moment to see if she’d finally meet his gaze. She didn’t. “Riannan,” He said, using the stern voice he had frequently heard his father use.

“I haven’t talked to her since the night she got assigned to that new case,” Rian lied rather unconvincingly and a bit too quickly at that. Human characteristics have always come easily to her, but for reasons unknown to her, she had never been able to easily lie or deceive her friends. She had no idea why she thought she’d be able to pull it off this time; it was the third time today she’d been asked about Liz, and she didn’t think she’d be able to dodge answering this time.

“Liar,” Kyle pointed out unnecessarily. “What do you know that you aren’t telling us?”

“Nothing,” She tried to lie one more time.

“Riannan,” That demanding voice returned and almost made Rian visibly cringe. “We swore amongst the group that there’d be no secrets.”

Exasperated, Rian threw her hands to the side and finally met his gaze. “She made me promise not to tell!”

Ah, so there was something to tell. “Liz knows as well as you do that we have every right to know what’s going down,” He explained softly, as he watched Rian’s inner struggle with her loyalty to her friends. “Now, you need to tell me what’s going on.”

Desperately, Rian tried once more to get him to understand. “She doesn’t want to get your hopes up,” Her statement had little effect on him, for he only looked intently at her with a determination that said he’d get the information – one way or another.

Annoyed with herself and with Liz – for wanting to keep everything a secret - Rian sat down on the bench and waited for Kyle to join her. Once he did, she rubbed her face with her hands and groaned aloud in utter aggravation. “Okay,” She finally conceded with a sigh. “Liz has reason to believe that the specimens involved in her case are them.” She needn’t elaborate on that, Kyle knew exactly who she meant.

For the second time that evening, Riannan succeeded in knocking the wind out of him; only this time, he had more difficulty getting it back. Tess. No sooner had the name entered his mind, did his shove it aside. Now was not the time for him to get his hopes up.

“What happened?” Kyle asked, desperate for more information.

Rian heaved in a deep breath, and then expelled it slowly. Liz was going to kill her, but she couldn’t lie to Kyle; besides, he was right, as a group they had decided to never keep anything from each other. “As she was leaving the facility the other day, she saw some men forcefully remove a person from the back of a truck,” She explained, recalling how Liz had relayed the story to her. “She didn’t get a good look, but she’s almost certain it was either Max or Michael.”

And almost instantly, Kyle’s hope deflated like a punctured balloon. “She didn’t get a good look?” He asked incredulously and stood from the bench in frenzied frustration, and laughed sardonically. “And she doesn’t want us to get our hopes up?”

Irritated, Kyle returned to the treadmills and moodily began to start his up again. Rian immediately jumped up from the bench. “That’s not all!” She insisted – ever quick to be at Liz’s defense. “She had this feeling – an alien feeling,” Rian said the last part more softly and slowly, and then paused to take in Kyle’s skeptical gaze. “You were the one who told me about Max and Liz’s connection, Kyle. You said it was the most amazing thing that you’ve ever witnessed. Who’s to say that what she felt that day wasn’t her connection with Max?” She laughed a bit mirthlessly then, and rolled her eyes. “Except for maybe Liz. She’s trying to convince everyone – most importantly herself - that her connection with Max has died, but I don’t think that’s the case. I think she’s forced it into hibernation. And the one time she let her guard down, she felt him.”

Kyle’s gaze flickered to the ground, and Rian quickly approached him. There were only a few inches separating them when she reached him; at her close proximity, he had to look up to meet her gaze. “I know it’s them,” Rian went on vehemently and she reached for his hands. “It has to be. Just give her a few more weeks and she’ll know it too.”

Upon the fervor in her words, his optimism was rejuvenated and he took a deep breath. If it was them, then everything would be okay. He wouldn’t have to spend another day seeing the vacant expression in Liz’s eyes when she thought no one knew of the direction of her thoughts. When he picked Maria up in the mornings for breakfast, he wouldn’t have to look into her red and swollen eyes and know that she’d spent the night sobbing over Michael. He wouldn’t have to listen to Alex demean himself when it came to other girls and dating. And he wouldn’t have to waste his time comparing other women to blonde haired alien, and then get disappointed when they didn’t measure up.

Suddenly anxious, Kyle stepped away to start pacing in an effort to expel some of his newly found energy. “This is why she didn’t want me to know,” He joked with a wry grin. “Now I want to do something.”

Sympathetically, Rian nodded, and then stilled in realization. They could do something. Quickly, she stuffed her towel and water bottle into her gym bag, and then threw Kyle’s bag in his direction, instructing him to do the same.

“Why?” He asked peculiarly, and then frowned when Rian headed for the exit. “Where are you going?”

Rian paused just long enough to glance over her shoulder. “C’mon, we’ve military base to check out.”

<center>* * *</center>

She spotted him immediately and began to wave frantically, as she quickly darted past rows of tables and chairs to meet him. He smiled bemusedly at her ruffled appearance and took a leisurely sip of his ice tea.

“Sorry I’m late,” Maria gushed out hurriedly and seated herself directly across from him. “I was late coming home from work, and I needed to shower to get the stench of off me –“

“It’s all right,” Alex interceded with a rapid wave of his hands. He didn’t need to hear any details about her line of work. “I ordered you the steak salad – with extra fries – and an unsweetened ice tea.” As proof, he pushed the tall glass of tea in her direction.

Maria smiled happily and shrugged out of her lightweight jacket. “Thanks, Al,” She said appreciatively. She then grabbed four jumbo packets of pink packeted sugar substitutes and gave them two firm shakes. Then she tore all four of them in half and dumped the contents into her tea. “So,” Maria began as she absently stirred her drink, and lifted her green gaze to meet his brown eyes. “How was work?”

Alex shrugged. “Pretty uneventful,” He answered, and then elaborated, “Installed some security, designed some new products, nothing too out of the ordinary. You?”

She grinned. “Pretty uneventful,” She parroted his words with a smirk. “Called to a crime scene, studied a corpse, solved a mystery; nothing too out of the ordinary.”

Alex chuckled, for it was the same type of questions and responses they gave each other every evening that they met for a late lunch. “You know, Maria, we really need to think of new topics of discussion,” He suggested matter-of-factly. “Otherwise, I may look for a more interesting dinner date.”

Maria gave him a puh-lease look before she took a quick sip of her tea. Satisfied by its sweetness, she then refocused on Alex. “You want more interesting topics of discussion? Fine,” She settled her arms on the table and leaned towards him conspiratorially. “What do you think about this new case Liz has taken?” She had been dying to ask someone about it for the past several days, but Ann had dodged her every attempt. Added to that, her work has been time consuming, and she’s barely had enough time to get in but a quick phone call to each of her friends. What she really wanted to do was have an in-depth conversation with Liz about the whole thing, but as of yet, Alex would just have to do.

Alex leaned back, causing his chair to tilt onto its hind legs, and linked his hands behind his head. He shrugged a bit indifferently. “I haven’t really thought about it.”

Maria nearly choked on her second sip of ice tea.

“I told you, you put too much sweetener in that.” Alex quipped with a grin.

Maria composed herself long enough to fix him with an aggravated glare, before she launched into a whispered inquiry. “What do you mean you haven’t thought about it?”

Alex shrugged again, and returned his chair to all fours. His arms came down to rest on the table and his gaze to the ice cubes in his tea. “I mean exactly that I said; I haven’t really thought about it.”

She gazed at him suspiciously, her green eyes narrowed and as studied him. “You mean to tell me,” Maria began in slow deliberation. “That I’m supposed to be thinking about nothing but my job, yet I still think about it –“ She emphasized unnecessarily, “More than you do?”

“What it are you referring to?” He joked with a tiny smile. “Because if you’re talking about another it then I seriously doubt – “Alex finally met her gaze and noted the incredulous look in her eyes; he immediately quieted. Unaware that the action annoyed her, he shrugged once more. “I guess so.” He finally answered

“You guess s-“ The waitress appeared with their orders just in time to prevent Maria from blowing up. Maria asked the waitress for more sugar packets and then closed her eyes in an attempt to approach the manner with a calmer state of mind. Several moments passed before she was unruffled enough to speak. “I don’t understand how you could possibly not have thought about it, Alex,” She opened her eyes to see a large chunk of medium rare steak, speared with a fork, poised in front of his gaping mouth. “It’s only the most exciting thing that has happened in our entire lives.”

Realizing that the topic was a long way from being dropped, Alex dropped his fork instead and slouched back in his chair. He shrugged a shoulder and regarded her with a cynical gaze. “What’s so exciting about it?” He asked dubiously. “We don’t even know if it’s them.”

“But we don’t know it’s not them,” Maria countered. “Alex, I believe that this is it. This is what we’ve been waiting for.”

Alex leaned forward and gripped his friend’s hands tightly in his own. “But what if it isn’t?” He questioned in a fierce whisper. “I don’t want you to get hurt, Maria.”

Touched, Maria cupped his slightly stubbly cheek in her hand. “Alex, I’ve gotten my hopes built up and crushed so many times in the past ten years, that I can handle anything,” She smiled and shrugged dispassionately. “What’s one more let down?” Alex’s gaze fell to the table and he began to slip his hands from hers, but it was Maria who tightened their hold on one another. “But Alex, I’m not going to be let down this time. There’s something different about this time around. I can’t tell you what it is, but I felt it the moment Liz told us about the case. This is it. This is for real.”

Alex stared transfixed into the sea of green that Maria’s bleary eyes rendered. It was obvious that she believed this with all of her being. “Alex,” She whispered quietly and squeezed his hand with conviction. “It’s them.”



TBC

Raychel
writing is a socially accepted form of schizophrenia

Roswell, New Mexico S1 Watch Party

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Raychelxluscious
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Post by Raychelxluscious » Sat Jan 01, 2005 10:39 pm

Hey folks. I'm back. =)

This part was ready earlier this even, but my mom decided today was the day to take down Christmas decorations, and wanted me to help.

Sorry about any mistakes I may have missed. I tried. :-/ I also tried to write this part to my best writing capabilities, but I'm still a little iffy about it. It's definitely not my favorite part, and it's kind of long.

Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy. =)

Now, without further ado...


<center>Part Four</center>

“The Eagle Rock Military base was supposedly used in the late 1940s during the alleged space craft crash,” Rian all but snorted as she read what was on the computer screen before. After a quick google search, she found a revealing site about the old Military base. “It’s located only twenty miles outside of Roswell, New Mexico,” She paused and tossed an imploring look at Kyle. “Isn’t that –“

“Yep,” Kyle answered before she had even finished her thought. He placed one hand on the back of her chair to brace his weight as he leaned down to peer at the computer monitor, scanning the contents on screen. “It says it hasn’t been used in over fifteen years.”

“Well, that’s a downright lie,” Rian pointed out with a sneer. “Liz read me the files, and it specifically said that the specimens were being transferred from this facility,” Plans of actions constantly swirling in her head, she glanced at her watch and noted the time was a little before seven in the evening; she swiveled in her seat and looked up expectantly – challengingly even - at Kyle.

“You up for a late night road trip?”

<center>* * *</center>

The moment she entered the blessed solitude of her house, Liz was nearly toppled over by two, firmly muscled bodies covered in richly soft fur. Four paws attached themselves to her upper torso and tongues snaked out to lick at her chin and face in a warm and loving greeting. Laughter emanated from her throat and she affectionately stroked each dogs’ head in turn. She whispered words of endearments before she gently detached them from her person with a light push at their chests.

“Oh, I’m sorry I’m so late, you guys,” She crooned apologetically. “You must be starving.”

Mulder’s tiny tail swished back in forth in rapid succession. He very clearly understood what she meant and wanted to emphasis just how hungry he was. Not wanting to delay another precious moment, Liz swiftly entered the kitchen and immediately filled the dog bowls with their late supper. She then crouched down between the two and lovingly stroked their smooth coats as they ravenously devoured their meals. Scully whipped around and licked a long trail from chin to temple on the side of Liz’s face in appreciative thanks. Liz barely restrained the grimace at the feel of slimy dog saliva and chewed dog chow dripping down the side of her cheek.

“Thanks, babe.” Liz muttered and wiped repeatedly at her face as she stood.

She walked to the sink and wet a sheet of paper towel, and then dabbed at her cheek to remove the evidence of her dogs’ fondness. As she walked into her living room, still wiping at her face, she noticed the red, blinking light on her answering machine. Liz toed off her shoes, shrugged off her jacket and then sat at the end of her couch closest to the telephone and answering machine. She pressed play and waited through her own voice for the subsequent messages.

As she waited, she massaged her tender calves with a grimace. The rather high-heeled shoes she had chosen that morning had definitely been a mistake. She had been expecting to begin testing soon, but she obviously hadn’t prepared enough ahead of time. Her legs and feet ached from standing nearly all day; though, she had to admit, working again in the biological field was rather thrilling. She’d handle the aches with aplomb.

Liz had just stretched her legs out to rest on the coffee table, when the first message played from the machine. It was Rian; she and Kyle were heading to New Mexico to check out the Eagle Rock Military base that was indicated in her files. Don’t be mad, they said, for it was a spur of the moment decision.

That made Liz snort, for Rian had been the one to tell her not to take any spontaneous actions without discussing it with them first.

Rian went on to say that they’d be back sometime tomorrow, and that she wanted Liz to tell the others. She then paused a bit hesitantly and uttered a quick “Kyle knows” before she ended the call rather abruptly.

Shocked, irritated and exasperated, Liz groaned at her friend’s inability to keep a secret and leaned her head against the couch cushion. If Kyle knew, then Maria and Alex probably knew as well. She deduced that her next message would most likely be one of them, demanding why they hadn’t been informed about her newly discovered news.

The next message wasn’t from Alex or Maria, however, and Liz’s breath hitched with surprise and excitement when she heard the voice.

“Well, howdy, Betsy-Ann, guess who,” The deep timbre of the man’s voice morphed into a friendly chuckle, and Liz nearly joined in at the remembrance of her given nickname. ”How goes it, darlin’? Wow, I sure haven’t heard that pretty voice of yours in a long time; it was a pleasure just listening to that recording. We have a lot of catching up to do. Lets play phone tag, Betsy-Ann, and you’re it. Call me, Liz, anytime,” He rattled off his number and then said a warm goodbye. ”I hope to hear from you soon, darlin’. Bye.”

Jonaphan Daryl Calder’s Montana drawl still had the ability to make a woman swoon, and Liz Parker was no different. Her once, long time partner hadn’t called her in what seemed like months! Suddenly, she could see him so clearly. Piercing blue eyes, tanned rough skin with oodles of muscles rippling beneath. His sable color hair was cut short and always maintained, or at least it had been while he was located in Arizona. Now, she could imagine him with shaggy, over grown locks that would kiss his forehead and his temples. His lips were always so smooth, which made Liz green with envy, and could curl into the most devastating smiles. Tiny wrinkles touched the corners of his mouth, for he never stopped smiling or laughing.

Anxiously, Liz dialed the number she had automatically memorized upon his recital, and waited eagerly for Jon to answer the phone. If only he hadn’t been so damn good at his job, if only he hadn’t been offered a promotion, then he’d still be around. They’d still be partners; he’d be kicking ass and she’d be taking names.

Montana was just so far away…

”’Lo?” A lazy voice welcomed over the other end of the phone, and Liz nearly lost her breath.

“You move back to Nowheresville, Montana and this is the first time you get around to calling me?” The accusation in her voice was good-natured and light.

There was a brief pause, and then Jon’s laughter drifted over the line. Always sonorous and harmonious, it brought a vibrant smile to Liz’s lips.

”You have no idea how good it is to hear from you, Liz,” Jon’s melodic voice promptly soothed Liz from all the day’s stress. ”I was just thinking of you! What the hell have you been up to?” He demanded to know; it has been entirely too long and they were in dire need of catching up. Jonaphan never dreamed he’d miss anything about Arizona, but he missed Liz.

Liz slouched lower into her cushions and draped an afghan over her body to chase away the room’s chill. “Well, cowboy, you aren’t the only one who got a promotion,” She said with a great sense of pride evident in her voice. “You are now talking to a member of the infamous Special Unit.”

You don’t say!” Jon asked with a chuckle. ”Congratulations, darlin’, you’ve earned it.”

“Damn straight,” There was really no point on wasting her modesty with Jon, he always saw right through her. “So, what have you been doing? How’s life as the head of your own Unit?”

He sighed blissfully. ”It’s amazing. I’m my own boss and the boss of at least twenty or more people below me. And so far it has the potential to be more rewarding than being your average FBI agent,” Jon answered contentedly. His tone perfectly conveyed just how much he loved his current line of work. He had no desire to change. ”But I don’t want to chat about me, let’s talk about you, Liz. The Special Unit, huh?”

Liz grinned broadly for she had known he’d be interested and pleased to find out she had made it inside. “The one and only.”

”What’s so special about the Unit anyway?”

She paused, just briefly, but it was long enough. “I haven’t quite figured it out yet,” That wasn’t entirely true; the people within the Special Unit were alien hunters. She had suspected as much before she was even certain, and she was utterly convinced now. Yet, how could she explain that to Jon – a man who had become a good friend to her within the past five years?

”Well, what kind of cases have you had?” Jon persisted curiously.

Liz was reluctant to answer his question, and hurriedly thought of the best way to respond. Finally, she settled with, “Nothing that would be deemed special,” She lied again, and inwardly cringed. She hated deception when it wasn’t due, but what was she supposed to tell him? “Everything is pretty ordinary as of yet.”

”I have to admit,” Jon began in a teasing tone that made Liz smile. ”I’m just a little jealous that you were offered a spot in the Special Unit and I wasn’t. I’m very big on Seniority, you know that.” Yeah, she knew because he made it a point to throw his experience into her face every chance he got.

“Well,” Liz laughed. “Maybe if you hadn’t been so hell bent on getting that promotion, and you had toughed it out a little longer, we’d be in there together.”

Jon’s laughed heartily. “That is my one regret, darlin’,” He confessed honestly. “I do miss you, sweetheart.”

Liz scoffed, though she knew his words were sincere. “You miss Rian,” She deliberately corrected, and awaited his response with a smirk.

His laugh was so boisterous that Liz actually had to put distance between her ear the telephone. ”Betsy, you hit the nail right on the head,” Jon amusedly agreed. Riannan had quite an effect on him while he had been located in Arizona. The only problem was she seemed to be immune to his charm; she was not immune, however, to his innate ability to annoy. Riannan gave the impression that she despised him. And that was definitely something he’d have to fix. ”So, He attempted to redirect their conversation. ”Who’s the head of the Unit? I forget.”

Disgust washed over her, suddenly and fiercely. “Daniel Pierce.” She held such contempt in her voice that caused Jon let out a long, low whistle.

”You don’t like him much, darlin’, do you? Jon asked unnecessarily. ”What’s he like?”

“He’s the epitome of slime,” Liz immediately launched. Usually, she’d be concerned about her lines being tapped by the people she worked for – it wasn’t behind them to do such a thing - which was why she frequently checked them, but at the moment she could care less. “He’s a cocky, arrogant, sadistic monster – a bastard. He has no business being the head of the Unit. I hate him.” She ended her angry litany with an exasperated huff.

Jon chuckled lightly. ”Dislike is a too soft of word, I’m guessin’,” He joked half-heartedly. ”What is it about him that you don’t like?”

Who and what he was. What he does to others – human or not. Liz had to bite her tongue to keep those heated words from escaping her lips. She was so tired. Finally, she settled with saying, “Everything. I hate everything he is and everything he stands for, Jon.”

”Good enough,” Jon whispered soothingly. ”Don’t worry about him, sweetheart. Don’t let him get to you, all right?”

“I won’t,” Liz vowed.

Jon paused a moment, and then sighed dejectedly. ”There’s work to be done, Betsy-Ann and I need to be tendin’ to it,” He told her regretfully. ”Call me later? For anything.” He emphasized.

“I will. It was good hearing from you, Jon.”

”It won’t be the last,” He promised, and was about to say goodbye, when he thought of something that made him grin. ”Tell Riannan I said hi.” Liz’s laughter was the last thing he heard before he hung up.

Jonaphan leaned back in his chair until it was balanced on its back legs with an unhealthy creak, and stared at the file and yellow pad of notes on his desk. He tapped his pen against his thigh habitually and pondered over his conversation with Liz. He relayed the things she had said that he deemed crucial over and over in his mind, until he knew that not a single detail had been omitted. Finally, he returned his chair to its proper position and opened the file. Liz Parker, his good friend, a good agent, stared up at him from a black and white photo. Remorsefully, he shook his head and began to reread the file.

<center>* * *</center>

It was nearly three o’clock in the morning when Rian finally slowed her SUV to a stop. Darkness encompassed them as low desert winds howled and swirled around her vehicle. They were surrounded by sand and stone for miles, and close by stood the Eagle Rock Military base – their destination.

Rian leaned her head back against the seat and peered out through her sunroof. Hundreds of glittering stars decorated the midnight blue sky overhead, and she smiled as the picture reminded her of home. On Antar, you could see an innumerable amount of stars; they seemed so much larger on her home planet, and they winked with great exuberance. The luminous balls of gas weren’t shielded by pollution or city lights; they flickered without inhibition. Painted by the gods for all to see and cherish.

How she missed it.

But Earth was her home now. Antar was dying, and she had no desire to ever return. She’d have to make due with what few stars she could see on this planet. It would be impossible for her to ever leave, not now that she had found them. Liz, Kyle, Alex, and Maria – they were the family she had been searching for her entire life. She needed them more than she needed all the stars in the universe.

Rian closed her eyes and aloud the serene silence to succumb her. Never had she expected to find her place among the human race. Her people had evoked a deep fear for them within her and others of her specie. Those who did dare to inhabit earth, to live among the humans, also lived in constant fear of discovery. They lived their lives in incognito; they pretended to be something they were not. But they were happy. And so is she, all because she had found the group that had accepted her without hesitation.

Deep, nasal snoring broke the peaceful silence and caused Rian’s eyes to snap open. Kyle lay sprawled in the back seat, his legs wide apart with one long appendage draped over the back of the bench, and the other propped on Rian’s seat. His head partially dangled from the seat, his arms were crossed over his torso and rose and fell with his breathing. Another hacking snore penetrated the stillness.

Rian rolled her eyes and blindly reached back to twist whatever she could reach, which happened to be his nipple.

Kyle jerked slightly and then relaxed when he realized who had roused him. “Oh, baby,” He murmured as he slowly opened his eyes from his light slumber. “I love it when you get kinky.”

She didn’t even waste the energy on another much deserved eye roll. “We’re here.”

Kyle immediately sat up and pushed himself between the two front seats. He rubbed tiredly at his eyes to remove the annoying grit, before he peered out the windshield. “So soon?” He asked curiously. How long had he been asleep? He must have been out as soon as they hit the road; the scenery was boring, and Rian wouldn’t even play any music because she had to “think”. Kyle squinted his eyes and gazed through the darkness in search for the facility. “I don’t see it. Where is it?”

Wordlessly, she gripped his chin and directed his gaze in the right direction. “Oooh,” Dull yellowish white lights penetrated the night sky about a hundred or so yards away. From what he could see, the building didn’t appear to be all that big, but it didn’t mean it would be lacking in security. Security precautions were the sole reason why Rian had decided they had to leave in the dead of night. And because of that, Kyle was tired, hungry, and really had to urinate. He stuffed his hands between his thighs, pushed his legs together, and started to fidget impatiently. “I’ve got to tinkle.” He whimpered femininely.

With great effort, Rian bit her tongue as she reached for the handle to the door. She tossed a glance over her shoulder at Kyle, and he noted her annoyance. “Go find some bushes and then meet me over there,” She pointed to a group of rocks jutting out of the sandy ground. “When you’ve finished.” Without another word, she exited the vehicle.

Kyle surveyed his surroundings for a moment in silent pondering. “We’re in the middle of a desert,” He pointed out well after she had left. “Where am I supposed to find bushes?”

Several moments later, after he had found several small bushes, he met Rian behind the rocks, just as she had instructed. Her arms were crossed over her torso in the defensive, ready-for-action stance she frequently used. She gave him an amused glance that laid just beneath her pensive frown. “Did you go tinkle?”

He nodded as he tucked the hem of his shirt into the waistband of his pants. “So, what’s the game plan, Kellar?”

“We’ve got to get inside somehow,” She answered the obvious in a distracted tone. Her brows were furrowed together as she tried to devise a plan that would accomplish such a feat. Irises narrowed, Rian watched activity that would be impossible for Kyle to see at the dead of night.

“Oh? Is that all?” Kyle quipped as he toed at the sand beneath his feet. He then hefted himself on the nearest rock and sagged his shoulders. “Well, when you find out how, let me know. Otherwise, I think this trip has been a waste of very expensive gas.”

She sighed and blinked her eyes a few times in an effort to ward off an impending headache. “Hey, that’s your fault,” Rian finally murmured in response to Kyle’s jab. Even as she forced her next words out, she continued to compile her plan. “You humans don’t know how to ration your resources.”

She missed the dismissive way in which Kyle rolled his eyes. “This coming from the alien whose planet is dying.”

Rian took a moment to uncurl her left arm and deftly flip him the bird, which earned a chuckle from Kyle, before she returned to her previous stance. “Our sun’s imploding and the heat is destroying our atmosphere; I’ve told you that.”

“Yeah, well, now that you aliens are continually populating our earth, you are helping in the increasing our gasoline prices.”

With a smirk, Rian turned to face him. “And pretty soon, humans will be the minority, and aliens will have taken over Earth,” She tilted her head audaciously and grinned, her teeth white and sparkling. “Hasn’t that been the greatest human fear for years?”

Kyle glared at her, and then scoffed incredulously. “Yeah, it’s right up there with the Bananas in Pajamas.”

The corner of Rian’s lip curled into a hint of a smile. “Let’s go, Valenti, I’ve got a plan.”

“Do you want to fill me in?” He asked anxiously as he jumped from the rock and trotted the short distance to catch up with her long, brisk strides.

“The guards walk the perimeter of the facility. It’ll take them approximately ten minutes to walk the entire perimeter, and that’s when they are in a hurry. If we get there -”

“Wait, wait,” Kyle stopped her and squinted once again at the facility that was still far off in the distance. “How do you know that?”

Rian shrugged. “I watched them.”

“From a hundred plus yards?”

Again, Rian shrugged, and then smirked at the disbelieving look her friend gave her. “You underestimate my abilities, Kyle,” She winked and then continued in her trek. “As I was saying,” Pausing long enough to side step stray brush, Rian continued relaying her plan. “If we can get there soon enough we can surprise them. I’ll acquire one guard’s fingerprints and give them to you, while I’ll shape shift into the other. And that’s how we’ll get inside.”

“Right,” He murmured apprehensively. “That easy?”

“That easy.” She promised. When she glanced and noticed his skeptical expression, she sighed. “It’ll be easier than it sounds, I swear. Just c’mon, but be quiet.”

They silently made there way to the facility. Every placement of their feet strategically considered. They dodged sporadic twigs and stepped over noisy pebbles, all in an effort to reach the building completely undetected. Finally, they reached the looming building, and pressed themselves against the cool concrete wall. The ever slowly rotating security lights moved passed in search for anything or anyone suspicious, which caused them to slink against the wall to remain unseen.

“What next?” Kyle whispered, and risked a glance around the corner. He didn’t see anyone.

“Shh,” Rian hushed him with an impatient tone. Thankfully Kyle obediently fell silent. The guard’s footsteps were faint and only audible to her and she listened intently in order to estimate his time of arrival. He was still a few minutes away yet. Rian then directed her determined gaze on her friend and told him her assessment. “The next guard will come around the left side only a few minutes after this one,” She indicated which guard she was referring to by jerking her head to the right. “I’ll surprise the guy on the right and take him down. You stay in the shadows; when the lefty shows take him from behind.”

Kyle slowly nodded. The gesture gave Rian assurance that he understood and wouldn’t go against her plans. Between he and Liz, Kyle was definitely the more reliable one in such scenarios. Liz tended to take things into her own hands; she acted before she thought. A habit that the others had informed Rian used to be quite the contrary. Before, Liz had been the rational one - the one person who would think things through. Now, her line of work would often call for quick acting and little thinking, and that’s exactly what she’d do.

The guard had gained closer ground. His footsteps were louder now and ever steady; the steps easily heard by Kyle’s ears, and he tensed in preparation. Suddenly, the guard came into view, tall and menacing with a large semiautomatic weapon in his hands. At first, he didn’t notice the intruders. Kyle hadn’t moved from the security of the shadows, while Rian had stepped from the darkness to completely reveal herself by the moonlight.

When the guard did finally notice Rian, he seemed to hesitate. With the shimmering silver moonbeams of light cast on her soft features, she looked anything but dangerous - angelic and even a bit ethereal but not a threat. The guard, donned in military fatigues, had strict orders to follow and immediately stepped into firing stance upon the sight of the trespasser, dangerous or not. He opened his mouth to shout out an order – quite possibly not to move - but with a flick of her wrist, Rian flung him hard against the concrete wall to her right. The thud of his body hitting the concrete and then crumpling to the floor was a dull sound.

The guard from the left rounded the corner just in time to see Rian approach his fallen comrade, and he immediately tensed and readied himself for combat. Kyle stepped from the shadows and easily took him down with a quick, unsuspecting blow to the back of the head. The brunt of the hit had been caused by Kyle’s elbow, and the guard collapsed almost inaudibly.

Rian glanced up at Kyle from her crouched position next to the body of the man she took down, and gave her a nod of approval. She then returned her gaze to the guard before her. He wasn’t dead, though she briefly considered finishing him off. If he saw her face, they’d be screwed. Killing someone – especially someone affiliated with the men and women who dissected her people for pay – was not beneath her. She decided against it, however, and quickly erased his memory with a press of her hand to his forehead. Next, she grabbed his limp hand and pressed her own against it. Palm to palm their hands glowed an eerie red for several long moments, before the light diminished just as instantly as it had appeared.

Silently, Rian stood and approached Kyle. “Give me your hand.” She ordered quietly.

He obliged without hesitation. Rian’s smoother, feminine hand hovered a mere inch above his own large and calloused hand. Her brow furrowed and her eyes fluttered closed in concentration as she stamped the guard’s prints over Kyle’s. For a few moments, he felt nothing. Then suddenly, his hand began to grow warm, and then hot until it increased to such a blistering degree that it began to quake. Reflexively, Kyle fell to his knees as excruciating pain assailed him.

“I’m sorry,” Rian whispered quietly, mournfully as she continued with the transformation until it was completed. After the completion, his groans still reached her ears and shattered her heart, and she quickly grasped his hand firmly in her own. It still radiated warmth from her ministrations. She concentrated again, this time to take.

And then his hand began to cool. She stole away his pain just as swiftly as she had caused it. When she finished, she looked down at him where he still knelt before her and frowned with concern. “Better?” She asked softly as her fingers gently stroked the flesh of his palm as if in search for more hurt.

Kyle struggled to his feet and gently but firmly pulled his hand from her grasp, as his gaze regarded her warily. He’d never been on the receiving end of Rian’s powers to such a painful degree. He then closely examined his palm, looking for the angry welts he felt sure would be there. “That hurt like hell.” Was all he said.

“I’m sorry,” Rian apologized again, and then grabbed his wrist and issued her own inspection. Satisfied with her discovery she dropped his hand back to his side. “You’re fine.”

“Thank you, Dr. Kellar.” He muttered sarcastically and rubbed his now painless hand.

Rian walked briskly past him and knelt next to the other guard’s body. She cupped his lax face in her hands and closed her eyes. Her face tensed in utter absorption. Kyle looked away just for a moment, to scrutinize his palm once more, and when he returned his attention to Rian, she stood before him. Only now, she stood at six feet two inches, and was donned from head to toe in the guard’s military fatigues. Every muscled inch of her radiated strength. Suspiciously, Kyle glanced at the man at Rian’s feet. There the man laid every bit in the same state as Kyle had left him. If he hadn’t known any better, he would have guessed the guard had a twin.

“That’s just creepy.” He pointed out and stared into Rian’s cool, listless gray eyes.

“It’s necessary,” Even her voice was manipulated to match the guard’s tone - deep, thick, and dangerous. Quickly, she knelt and hooked her arms under the guard’s armpits and heaved him up. “Help me move them.” She ordered as she swiftly dragged the man away from the building.

Kyle dragged the other guard after Rian, and finally caught up with her some yards away from the building. Shielded by the darkness, she and Kyle didn’t attempt to crouch in order to be unseen; they wouldn’t be easily spotted unless someone was really searching. Rian dumped her man in a slump position against a small boulder, and Kyle mimicked the same treatment with his man.

“Okay, Valenti,” Rian’s gruff, male voice rang out in the eerie silence. She crossed her beefed up arms and regarded him with a sly twinkle in her eyes. “Strip.”

<center>* * *</center>

It was three thirty when Liz finally shut down her computer and stretched her arms high over her head. The vertebrae of her spinal column gave several groaning cracks as she leaned far back in her seat. She sighed and then took a moment to crack her fingers and knuckles of her hands. She relished in their therapeutic effects.

Liz stifled a yawn as she stood and crossed the room to make one last nightly scan of the outside perimeter of her home. The security cameras caught every angle of her property and were then fed to the many monitors in her den. There wasn’t a portion of her land that she couldn’t see, and that knowledge gave her a keen sense of protection.

As of the moment, everything was still and peaceful – exactly how she liked it. Liz then glanced at the monitors that would reveal the happenings within the walls of her home. Scully slept restfully in her usual spot in front of the entrance door of her foyer, but Mulder was nowhere in sight. With a frown, Liz scanned the rest of the monitors, each strategically placed in different rooms of her home, until she spotted him snoozing contentedly on the soft mattress of her bed. Ah, mystery solved. It was Mulder’s fur she’d find within her sheets at night. She smiled.

Content with her precautions, Liz flipped off the lights and exited her den. The door automatically locked behind her as she turned left and made her way up the stairs to the second floor. Her footsteps were silent and undetectable even to the keen receptors of her dogs’ ears. It wasn’t until she entered her bedroom and switched on her ceiling light did Mulder stir from his slumber. Liz watched amusedly as Mulder quickly bounded from the bed with his head bowed and his short tail tucked against his hind end.

“Goodnight, Mulder,” She called as the dog swiftly trotted from her room. Liz sighed tiredly and rolled her shoulders back, feeling the muscles tense and then relax beneath her skin. She reached for the hem of her shirt then, and pulled it up and over her head. The laundry basket was located in her adjoining bathroom, but she felt too tired to make the short trip just to deposit a shirt. Instead, she dropped it where she stood and began to shimmy out of her sweat pants. Now, she only wore a sheer camisole and a pair of white cotton panties.

The night air was cool as it filtered through her cracked window. If she wanted to, Liz could step into a pair of light pajama bottoms, but even that seemed like too much of an effort. Aware of – but choosing to ignore – the dog hair that now littered her sheets, Liz slipped beneath the comforter and settled deep into her plush pillows. A contented sigh escaped her part lips and her eyes fluttered shut. Sleep would come easy…

No sooner had the dark hands of the sand man begun to grip at her subconscious, did the shrill ringing of her bedside phone sound. Liz jerked awake, suddenly wired and wary as she reached for the cordless phone.

“Parker,” Her automatic response was clipped and alert.

”I had a dream,” Maria’s frenzied voice met Liz’s ear, and she was suddenly overwhelmed with exhaustion.

“Maria,” Liz sighed and fell back into her pillows. “It’s almost four o’clock in the morning.”

”And I knew you’d be awake,” Maria retorted. ”You don’t have to work early, do you?”

“No, I’m off, but there are still some things I’d like to accomplish at a fairly decent hour of the morning,” She replied tersely. “You are not aiding me in achieving that.”

”Just hear me out,” Maria pleaded, and her voice sounded distressed. ”I really need someone to listen, and Rian didn’t answer her phone.”

Liz could have taken that moment to explain to Maria about Rian and Kyle’s midnight road trip, but Maria immediately launched into the details of her dream.

”It was Michael. I dreamt of Michael,” Which really wasn’t an odd occurrence, so Maria quickly continued. ”He was in a white room, and he was pacing back and forth. And he was feeling the walls searching for a way out. Maybe he thought there’d be a hidden button to a door or something,” Her voice cracked and she fell silent, taking a moment to gather her crumbling composure. Liz closed her eyes, and her heart went out to her friend. She wished she could be at Maria’s side at that specific moment. At the very least, she wished she could be at her doorstep within a five-minute drive. ”He was so scared, Liz. I felt it; I felt how petrified he was. But he wasn’t afraid for himself. He was thinking about the others – Max, Isabel, and Tess. He was worried about what happened to them.”

Liz’s lids reflexively tightened and she grimaced. She didn’t want to be hearing this. “Maria-“

”He didn’t know if they were dead or alive. He couldn’t remember the last time he had seen them,” Maria didn’t even try to conceal the tears that were evident in her voice. ”He was so cold and he felt so alone. And then,” Maria swallowed a sob past the lump in her throat. ”And then he thought about me. Michael thought about me, Liz. He wondered where I was, what I was doing. He wondered if I was happy. While he was being trapped in that room, waiting for whatever may happen to him next, he was worried about my happiness, Liz. He thought of me. He-”

Liz rubbed her face as her friend’s hiccupping sobs drowned out the words she meant to get out next. “Oh, Maria,” She tried to think of soothing words, but she fell short. Michael hadn’t been apart from Maria’s mind or heart for that past ten years. He was always with her, even when she didn’t want him to be. She constantly buried herself in her high maintenance work in order to help ease her pain at his departure. Yet she couldn’t, and it was slowly killing her.

Liz knew exactly what that was like.

Finally, Maria’s sobs subsided enough for her to be able to speak. ”What do you think it means?” She questioned hopefully.

“Honey, it was just a dream.”

”But what if it wasn’t?” She demanded.

“Maria,” Liz sighed and raked her fingers through her hair. “You shouldn’t be asking me about this, I couldn’t interpret a dream to save my life.”

“Where’s Riannan?” Maria asked hurriedly. “She could tell me.”

“Rian and Kyle left this evening to checkout a base that was listed in one of my files,” She answered shortly. “I don’t know when they’ll be back.”

Maria fell silent. She’d have to wait until Riannan got back in order to gain her opinion. She was normally never wrong when it came to dreams and their meanings, which was why they were so certain that Liz’s long ago dream meant that the others had returned to earth.

”Do you think maybe it was a connection forged between Michael and I?” The hopefulness in Maria’s voice almost shattered Liz’s heart. “Like you and Max’s?”

She clenched her eyes shut even tighter at the reminder. “I don’t know, sweetie. Maybe,” If it was, then that meant Michael, and possibly the others, really were captured. “But I hope not.”

“I hope it is,” Maria whispered fiercely. “If the dream was a product of a connection I have with Michael, then maybe we can find them – if they’re not in your unit. And maybe we can get them back. I just have to find a way to communicate with him…”

“We’ll get them back,” Liz promised vehemently. “Wherever they are, I’ll find them and bring them back. I promise.”

Maria fell silent save her tremulous breathing. “I love you, Lizzie.” She was saying goodnight.

“I love you too, Maria. Goodnight.”

Liz remained up right long minutes after she had replaced her phone. Her thoughts were still milling around the details of Maria’s dreams and what they could mean.

When she finally settled back into her pillows, she knew sleep wouldn’t come easily.

<center>* * *</center>

“Well, that was simple enough.” Kyle murmured from the corner of his mouth, as he and Rian were effortlessly permitted entrance into the building.

“I told you it would be.”

After Kyle had swapped clothes – which were just a tad too tight - with one of the guards, Rian used her powers to bind the two guards together, and then returned to the base. They pretended to be on guard for approximately fifteen minutes, before another duo exited the building and wordlessly took their place.

Upon their entrance a security guard lazily glanced in their direction and then went back to reading his magazine. He didn’t offer them another fleeting glance as they breeched the double doors.

Maybe security wouldn’t be an obstacle after all.

“Do you see any cameras?” Rian questioned as scanned the ceiling for the mounted security.

“None,” Kyle clarified. “But that doesn’t mean they’re not there.” Alex had educated them of all the places in which security cameras were hidden. Light fixtures are one such place.

Rian grunted her agreement, a sound that came out too masculine for even her ears. Sometimes, she really detested shape shifting. “We’ll have to find the security room.”

“Don’t you think we should change our appearance again?” Kyle pointed out as he surveyed their uniforms. “I doubt we’ll get much access to anything of great importance. We’re just the security guys.”

She was already one step ahead of him. “I’ve got it all worked out,” She told him assuredly. “Just follow me.”

They continued on their trek in silence. Both of them were surprisingly calm despite the nature of their operation. It was dangerous, and borderline stupid, but they had finally reached the point where they couldn’t just sit around any longer. This would bring them one step closer to finding out the truth about the others.

Beside of him, Kyle was aware of the acute way in which Rian tensed. She sensed something; whether she heard it, saw it, or smelled it, she was aware of something Kyle was not. She glanced at him, and her gaze told him to be quiet and follow her lead. Her eyes shifted back and forth in search for a door to lead anywhere in case they needed to dodge into a quick hiding place. But the walls surrounding them were bare and a pristine white. It didn’t appear promising.

Then he heard it, the sharp, distinct sound of footsteps. Two sets of footsteps coming down the adjacent hallway. A sharp corner was just ahead and within moments they would collide with the approaching persons. The outcome could fall in any direction. Either they wouldn’t be stopped and questioned for being in this part of the building, or maybe they wouldn’t. It all depended on whether they, as outside guards, had admittance on the inside. Kyle glanced warily at Rian, but her masculine gaze was directed straight ahead, fiercely concentrating. He suddenly felt relieved; Rian would handle it.

And then they rounded the corner, two men dressed in black suits and ties. Their weapons were evident by the bulk in their suits. Their eyes were controlled and cool as they merely glanced at them and then continued on their way. Kyle was far too surprised to even glance over his shoulder at their departure; instead he regarded Rian out of the corner of his eye.

When he and Rian rounded the corner, and he was confident they were far enough out of earshot, he finally spoke. “What did you do?” For surely, they hadn’t survived that close call without her help.

She glanced briefly at him, her gray gaze penetrating his own. Even in her new body, she still towered over him by a good foot or slightly less. “Nothing,” She confessed with a shrug. “I couldn’t decide whether or not I should mind warp them into seeing something else, so I just risked it. Apparently, we’re okay being on the inside.”

“Jesus.” Kyle muttered shakily. That was a pretty big risk.

“Though, we really could have used them for their suits and identification for further admittance. But,” She sighed, the sound deep and coarse, and shrugged in defeat. “There wasn’t any place we could lure them without getting caught on any cameras,” They’d have to wait until they actually found some doors in the walls before they ambushed a couple of agents. She couldn’t risk taking them out right in the middle of the hallway. And until they were able to accomplish that, they probably wouldn’t get very far anyway. She felt certain that most rooms would require identification before entrance was permitted. “Oh, well,” She shrugged again. “Just keep your eyes peeled and ears opened.”

And he had, vigilantly in fact, yet still it had been Rian who heard another set of men approaching some time sooner than he had. By that time they had just passed a restroom, and the men were easily lured inside with Rian’s gruff and mysterious: “You guys might wanna check this out.”

Once she had them inside, she effortlessly knocked them unconscious. After Kyle had quickly stripped the guard most suitable to his size, Rian had bound the guards in the same manner as she had with the previous two, and shoved them into a bathroom stall marked “out of order”. This time, Kyle watched attentively as Rian shape shifted into the other guard. The scene would forever be imprinted in his mind – the way in which her skin contorted and stretched in order to take on the new form. She shrunk in height, and her dark hair lightened and contracted to her head in shorter strands. Having witnessed it all, Kyle briefly wondered if he looked as appalled as he felt. If the repulsion had been evident in his face, Rian didn’t allow it to faze her, for she quickly ushered him out of the room and down the hall. They had work to do.

Kyle patted his chest as they walked and felt the identification card clipped to the lapel of his jacket. He lifted it and peered at the upside down mug shot of the man on the card. It was him. Obviously Rian had changed even the picture on the card to ensure his admittance.

“The security room is just down this hallway.” Rian informed him quietly.

It momentarily occurred to him to ask how she knew that, but then he thought against it. Who knows what kind of knowledge she may have acquired from the card guard identity she had borrowed. Rian could use the man’s body; she was probably capable of taking his mind too.

As they silently made their trek towards the security room, Rian quickly ran over the contents of Liz’s files in her mind. After she had been paged and had to cut her discoveries short, Rian later called Liz back and her read more from the file. The studies on the specimens had been brief and mediocre; Eagle Rock didn’t have the money or equipment to get extremely detail oriented – not like Liz’s base. Rian continued to search for more information, threading through the imaginary files in her brain. Bingo. A Dr. Bradshaw had been in charge of the tests. She relayed her newly discovered information to Kyle.

At the thought of this mysterious person, warmth suddenly pooled in her stomach, and very naughty thoughts raced through her mind. She frowned in confusion, and then gasped.

“Oh, God.” Rian halted as disgust washed over her.

Immediately concerned, Kyle stopped and looked worriedly at Rian’s manly face with apprehension. “What? What’s wrong?”

Her face contorted in revulsion and she began to shake her hands in a very feminine manner, which looked amusing with her current body structure. “Either Dr. Bradshaw is a woman or this guy is gay.” She answered briefly, her voice laced with abhorrence. For that brief second, she actually sounded like herself.

Still slightly confused, Kyle shook his head. “I don’t – “ And then it occurred to him, and he grinned wryly. “You’ve got this guy’s feelings, don’t you?”

“One of the many drawbacks of shape shifting,” She uttered and clenched her eyes shut and clutched her tummy. “I hate it. Ew.”

Kyle barely restrained the chuckled from erupting as he pushed Rian onward. “Lets go, Kellar. Be a man.”

“I don’t wanna.” She whimpered.

This time he laughed outright and slapped Rian’s back several times in a manly gesture. Finally, she shook off the feelings – literally.

With her composure back in place, and the agent’s feelings pushed to the farthest recesses of her mind, Rian carried on. They reached the door that led inside the security room, and with a stilling hand directed at Kyle, she silently informed him that she’d go in first.

She twisted the knob and the door creaked on its hinges. Through the slight crack in the opening, she noticed a guard in a simple gray outfit dozing in a chair, before him stood a wall of monitors with dozens of images – still or moving - on the screens. Rian stilled Kyle once more as she quietly entered the room. Her steps were silent as she approached the sleeping guard, and her eyes scanned her surroundings. Carefully as to not rouse him from his slumber, Rian touched him gently on the temple with her forefinger. The man gave a tiny start and then fell lax; his arms – which had been curled around his prominent belly – now fell along the sides of his chair. He’d sleep for long enough to ensure Rian and Kyle’s departure.

Rian quickly surveyed the monitors, looking for anything that could possibly reveal Dr. Bradshaw’s office. After a brief search, she grinned and then pressed her palm against the wall of monitors. Power surged through her hand and into the wirings, and one by one the monitors began shut down. She did the same thing to the recording device that would save everything that the cameras had received – anything the recorder had been fed was destroyed. If Kyle’s face had been captured by the camera, it was now lost forever.

She turned to Kyle then, who kept a dubious eye out for anyone wandering down the hallway. With a wink, she exited the room, and pulled the door shut behind her.

“Lets go.”



They located and entered Dr. Bradshaw’s office with surprising ease. Rian’s powers had once again come in handy when they were faced with the lock on the door. No lock stands a chance against Riannan Kellar; it was, after all, one of her specialties. Now, the duo silently stood in the center of the room.

“Ah, look, Kellar,” Kyle pointed to the wall where a Ricky Martin calendar was pinned and nothing else. “The sexual preference of your agent is quite evident now.”

Rian sighed and then tsked lightly. “He’s gay.”

“He’s straight.”

Both had answered the bothersome question in unison, though they answers differed. Rian had uttered her answer with disgusted defeat, while Kyle had said his with an uplifting slap on the back. When it registered what he had said, she tossed him a look of incredulity.

“Valenti, c’mon, Ricky Martin has fazed out,” Rian explained as she swung her arm to encompass the Ricky shine. “No self-respecting woman would have his calendar on her wall,” She pointed out. “Bradshaw is a man, and this agent I’m using is a homosexual.”

“What?” Kyle asked aghast. “Ricky Martin could never faze out! Look at him, he just oozes sex. And get an eyeful of those muscles. The man is hot.”

Rian gave Kyle a pointed look, which made him reconsider her choice of words. “My point exactly.” She finally commented.

As she walked away from him to sit behind the computer on the desk, Kyle shrugged and attempted to brush off her blow. “Fine, you’re gay. I was just trying to make you feel better, Kellar.”

“Just shut up and look through those files, Valenti.”

He did. The only sound that reverberated off the walls for several minutes were the steady clicks of the Rian typing away at the keyboard and the shuffling of papers as Kyle reviewed files. The two worked in compatible silence. Despite their constant banter, they always worked so well together. Alex had nick named them the Dynamic Duo, in which they take great pride in. Kyle couldn’t name another man on the police force that he’d trust to watch his back more so than Rian Kellar.

“Find anything?” Rian asked a moment later. After hacking into the doctor’s account, she reviewed several files until she found one that was password protected. The fact that it was locked seemed promising.

“Nothing yet,” Kyle answered and opened another manila file. “You?”

“I’ll tell you in a sec.”

Alex, the incredible computer guru, had taught her a few pointers in sure-fire ways to hack into accounts and decode passwords. It only took a few moments before Rian had the protected file opened in front of her. She briefly scanned the contents, her excitement mounting. Finally, she leaned back in the chair and said, “Bingo.” The file gave identification numbers for four specimens, the dates of their arrival, and then the dates of their departure from Eagle Rock. They were shipped to an FBI unit in Arizona; though the name and precise location were withheld. Rian felt sure that if she’d scan the rest of the documents, she might find some incriminating details of the specimens stay within the facility.

“I think I may have found something too,” Kyle said after a moment. He walked towards her, a blue file in his hands. “It says here –“

“Sh,” Rian hushed him and raised a stilling hand. She had heard something. Quietly, patiently she waited to hear it again.

And there it was – footsteps several corridors down. They sounded to be in a hurry, and that wasn’t good.

Quickly, Rian pressed her hand to the tower of the computer and transferred the data from the machine to be stored in her mind; she didn’t dare waste time to try and print. It took several moments for all the date to be stored inside her, not because of its size, but because of her dwindling strength. After a moment, she began to shut down the computer. Her movements were shaky and clumsy, and Kyle watched on in alarm. “Rian?”

“Just take the file,” She finally ordered and stood to her feet. “Tuck it under your shirt. We have to get out of here.”

The footsteps were gaining and increasing speed and number. It was possible that somehow their cover had been blown. Maybe the men in the bathroom had been discovered, or even roused sooner than they should of. Rian rounded the desk and stood at the door to listen. They were so close. Her gut wrenched in anxiety and she glanced back and Kyle. He stood calmly behind her, his back straight and his stance ready, but she could sense his worry. She had to get him out of here.

“Lets go,” She ordered and began to open the door. She glanced both ways. “Be quick and stay close,” When they exited the shield safety of the office and entered the openness of the hallway, Rian gripped his arm and pulled him closer to her side. “Look straight head. Always.”

Kyle nodded for he dared not to say anything. He glanced up at Rian; her face – the man’s face – was gleaming with perspiration. Her eyes were narrowed. A vein that wasn’t normally prominent on Rian’s feminine features was protruding on her masculine forehead in distress. He could hear the shallow pants of her breath. The Rian he knew was always so controlled and strong, now she looked as if she might collapse at any minute.

Kyle was about to link an arm around her back in order to offer support should she need it, when he heard the footsteps. Quick as they beat an angry tattoo against the tiled floor, they were gaining on them. He wanted to look behind him, to see what they were up against, but Rian once again stilled him.

“Don’t,” She ordered, her voice breathy. “Don’t let them see your face. I don’t think I can mind warp them to see someone else.”

He swallowed convulsively. This had been a bad idea after all.

Rian’s steps began to slow, and Kyle looked up at her in alarm. Sweat was rolling down her face in beads, and her eyes were beginning to droop. This time he did loop his arm around her back and hefted her to his side. She leaned on him, but just barely; she couldn’t burden him with the agent’s weight. He was about to guide them to the left, which would lead them down the hallway towards the entrance of the building, but again Rian stopped him.

“Go right,” She instructed jadedly, and Kyle immediately obliged. “There’s an elevator that leads to the parking garage. We’ll get to the car from there. Quick.”

They had just rounded the corner, when sharp a “Hey!” echoed from the far end of the hallway.

With no prompts from Rian, Kyle lengthened his strides to run as Rian struggled to keep up. She glanced over her shoulder and swore. The elevator was just ahead of them, and getting closer. Rian weakly extended her arm and a surge of power flowed through her palm to force the elevator’s doors open.

The footsteps were louder now, and faster. Within moments they’d round the corner and enter the corridor. “Hurry.” She whispered and pushed herself for energy, for the speed she needed; she lifted all of her weight from Kyle’s supporting arm and ran at his beside of him, her arms pumping at her sides.

They finally reached the elevator and collided into the wall with a thud. Kyle had just pressed the button to close the doors when the first shot rang out, followed quickly by another. He cursed viciously and pressed repeatedly on the close doors button. They weren’t closing fast enough; he and Rian were still exposed.

The shooters were revealed to them now. Four agents raced down the hallway, guns drawn and pointing straight at them. Rian fell against the panel of buttons, both hands pressed against the buttons as she urged the doors to close with her powers. When she pushed away from the panel to fall against the elevator wall, one more gunshot rang out.

The metal sliding doors finally closed, and Kyle breathed a sigh of relief.

“We made it,” He said past his heavy breathing. He barely caught her as Rian sagged against him. “Rian?”

When he looked down her true features had returned. Her short, russet colored curls were back to tickling the nape of her neck. Her ivory skin left exposed from her original clothes seemed pale beneath the light of the elevator. Her face was pressed in the crook of his arm, hidden, and Kyle struggled to heft her higher into his embrace. As his hands shifted along her person, his fingers spread through a thick liquid along her back just next to her shoulder blade. His hands shook as he withdrew his fingers for a look. And all color drained from his face when he saw the angry crimson of her blood glaring back at him.


TBC


Raychel
writing is a socially accepted form of schizophrenia

Roswell, New Mexico S1 Watch Party

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Raychelxluscious
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Location: Started in WV, ending in FL

Post by Raychelxluscious » Mon Jan 17, 2005 11:24 am

Hey guys! Here it is! Special thanks to Kaela for her wonderful beta-ing skills. =)

Thank you all SOOO very much for the feedback. I'm glad you're enjoying it! And I hope any questions you may have had are answered - just not all of them, yet. ;)

I know these parts have been kind of slow - I don't like it - but these are the transistion parts. We should be getting to FUN parts soon. =)

Thanks for reading, and thanks for being patient!

You guys are great - and terrible for my ego. ;)

Raychel


<center>Part Five</center>

“Oh, shit. Oh, God.” The words spewed from Kyle’s mouth like a mantra as he hefted an unconscious Riannan against his chest. He could feel the warmth of her blood seeping into his shirt where he clutched her to him. The bullet had entered on the left, two or three inches below her collarbone, and exited through her back. He couldn’t see the entry would; he couldn’t tell where exactly she was hit or what damaged it may have caused. How close was it to her heart? Did it puncture her lung?

The elevator lurched to a stop, and the doors began to slide open. Hooking his arm behind her knees, Kyle swung her into his arms and rushed sideways through the opening doors. She was so light, and so limp; her head lulled and bounced against his shoulder until falling to dangle over his arm, her hair swaying with his every frenzied step.

As he raced through the darkened garage, Kyle called to her. “Rian, wake up,” He desperately urged; she was stronger than this, and he needed her. It was too dark to see clearly, and all he could hear was the fall of his racing footsteps and the rushing of his blood in his ears. There was no telling who was out there. He cursed viciously. “Rian.”

She moaned, but made no effort to move. Kyle darted out of the garage, out of the safety of the shadows, and into the revealing lights of the building. The yellowish lights cast his way, and he sprinted from the compound and into the desert. He had no idea how close the agents were, and the lack of knowledge pushed him to go faster. Rian didn’t aid, yet nor did restrict his frantic pace, but how long could he run with her before he exhaustion would hit him?

Kyle’s chest heaved as he pushed himself farther and faster into the night. The facility shrank in the distance behind him, and soon the only object aiding in his sight was the moon casting silvery beams before him. He raced onward.

Time was elastic. He had no idea how long he was running. He saw nothing but the salvation of their vehicle, not ahead of him but in his minds eye. He heard nothing but his own heavy breathing and the sound of his feet hitting dirt. The cool, nightly breeze of the desert climate did nothing to soothe his heated skin as it lightly whirled by them. He thought of nothing but getting to the car, getting Rian safely inside, and speeding the hell out of there.

Rian.

“Oh, shit,” He muttered again as the reality hit him, and he halted for just a brief moment to hoist her more comfortably into his arms. And then he was running again. “Please, Rian. C’mon.”

Then, as if she had heard his quietly uttered plea, Rian stirred in his embrace and moaned in distress. He nearly collapsed to the ground in relief.

“That’s it,” He encouraged and risked a glance down into her face. Her eyes shifted beneath her closed lids. Her face held a pained grimace. “We’re almost there. Hang on.”

There. Black, and nearly unnoticeable save the reflection of the moonbeams, the vehicle came into view. With renewed determination, Kyle increased his speed with urgency. By the time he reached the car, Rian weakly was trying to sit up in his embrace. He set her on her feet, and her legs gave beneath her almost immediately. She would have fallen, had it not been for the firm grip in which he held her waist, and she sagged against him in exhaustion. Kyle threw open the passenger door and deposited her quickly but gently on the seat.

The light from the ceiling of the car had automatically switched on, and offered a clear view of her wound. “Oh, Jesus.” He groaned and clenched his eyes shut. The location of the wound must have pierced her lung. As Rian heaved in a deep breath, a slight gurgle of blood filling her lung penetrated the stillness.

“Shit!” Desperately, Kyle grabbed her face in his hands and shook. “Open your eyes, Ri. Tell me what to do.”

Rian opened her eyes and then fought to keep them that way; her lids felt heavy and constantly drooped. Her lips parted, but no words escaped and frustration consumed both of them. Meanwhile, blood continued to seep from her body when it wasn’t saturating her lungs.

“Damn it, Rian!” Kyle yelled, panic laced in his voice. “You have to help me!”

Slowly, Rian lifted her hand to pull his free from her face. Then, she pressed his palm against the gunshot wound. Using what little energy she had left, she feasted on his strength in order to heal what little damage she could. Kyle felt the warmth of her powers working as she took what she needed from him, and he sighed with relief. She’d be okay. He felt no pain, not like he had the last time Rian had used her powers on him. Maybe he was too concerned to feel anything for himself. It didn’t matter, she could take anything from him – excruciating pain or not – if it meant saving her life. Finally, her hand fell limply away, but when he lifted his own hand the gaping wound was still there, and panic plagued him.

“Rian –“

He broke off as dogs sounded in the distance, followed quickly by indistinct voices and the hum of vehicle engines. Alarmed, Kyle looked over his shoulder and saw the rays of flashlights piercing through the night.

“Drive.” Rian ordered as she pushed him away from her.

With little else to do, Kyle shut her door and then rounded the hood to reach the driver’s side. He jumped in, started the ignition, and sped out. Tires squealed and sand was hurled into the air, before billowing back to the ground.

The headlights of the car sliced through the still of the desert night. Sand and sporadic cacti and rocks whipped past the sides of the vehicle with increasing speed. Kyle paid little attention to his speedometer as he pressed the gas pedal to the floor. Maneuvering the wheel and the sleeves of the black jacket he had lifted from agent, Kyle shed the garment and tossed it to Rian.

“Cover yourself,” He ordered and glanced at her in concern. “And keep pressure on the wound to stop the bleeding. Why didn’t you heal yourself?”

“I did,” Rian answered quietly, as she struggled to keep her eyes opened. She was so tired. “What I could. I healed my lung, that’s all that matters.”

“All that matters?” Kyle roared and tossed her a glare – this had been her idea after all. “You could bleed out!”

Rian’s laugh of incredulity was weak, but the fact that she had laughed put Kyle at ease - somewhat. “I’m not going to bleed out,” She promised. Her blood clotted faster than humans. “I just need to rest, and then I’ll be able to heal myself completely.”

“Sure, go ahead. You take a little nap; I’ll do the rest okay? Losing the feds and saving our asses, I can handle all of that,” He muttered sarcastically as he checked his side mirrors. “You just chill.”

She was obviously feeling well enough to smile. “I will,” Rian settled deeper into the seat. Her shoulder was beginning to grow numb, which was better than the pain she had felt earlier. “And Kyle?”

“What?” He asked gruffly.

“This part of the trip is not to be shared with Liz.”

Kyle smirked despite himself. “Yeah, no shit.”



She slept deeply. Her mind finally shut down in order to replenish her drained strength, and would need at least three hours in order to return to her normal level. With every use of her power, a percentage of her energy would be in jeopardy. Within just two hours she had knocked out three men, erased all of their memories, acquired one man’s prints and transferred them to Kyle, acquired the molecular structure of two other agents and then shape shifted into them, and stored an amount of data into her already overflowing brain. And that was just the tip of the iceberg. Rian had constantly been using her powers – always extending her senses to their very limit and then doing little things that only required a miniscule of her energy.

Her downfall had been the shape shifting. Obtaining someone’s physical makeup was energy draining in itself, but it also took fierce strength and concentration to remain in that form. And she had done it not once but twice. When they had reached the elevator, she had felt herself falling into the blackness – her mind’s way to restore and de-stress. And when she felt the impact of the bullet, felt it explode in her flesh and take her very breath away it had been too much. Rian succumbed to the darkness, no longer able to maintain her new form, and had returned to her original appearance.

She instinctively knew that she was in danger of losing her life. It was that intuition that woke her. Rian knew she needed to draw energy from something – anything living – in order to heal the most critical injury on her person. Like a rock, Kyle had been there. The adrenaline his body had produced in the course of those few hours was exactly what she needed. She took from him, not a lot, but enough that would catch up with him later. With the immediate danger controlled, her mind once again shut down.

So she slept. She slept as Kyle fretted over her condition, and seethed in anger. He was angry with Rian for suggesting the stupid plan, and angry with himself for going along with it. The plan had “stupid” written all over it. He didn’t know whom he was angrier with, though - himself or Rian. But he knew one thing for sure; he’d never let her do something like that again.


“All right, lazy ass, wake up.” Though his choice of words was harsh, his tone was as light as his touch when he roused her from her slumber.

Slowly, Rian opened her eyes and took in the blurred vision of Kyle looming over her. She blinked a couple of times to bring him in focus, and then glanced around. She was too weak yet to see well enough in the dark to verify their location, and could only ask Kyle.

“Roswell,” He answered simply as he slowly assisted her from the vehicle. “I drove around for an hour to make sure we hadn’t been tailed. I lost them, Ri, so it’s okay.”

She nodded, and leaned her weight into his side, her hand pressed against her chest to place pressure on her wound. As he helped her up the walk, he silently took in her condition. “Are you strong enough to heal yourself yet?”

“I don’t know,” She answered and lifted her head to look in front of her instead of at her feet. Briefly, she made out the dark outline of a house before the image took a slow rotation. By the swirling sensation in her head, and the fuzziness behind her eyes, she would have to say, “No.”

Kyle helped her up the step and stopped at the front door. “Then you can take from me,” He insisted as he reached into the hanging flowerpot mounted in the brick of the house. His fingers skimmed the metal of the spare key and drew it out with a smile. Dad always was so dependable.

As they entered the shadowed and silent house, Kyle quietly directed her to the couch in the living room. He sat her down and then crouched before her to gently pry her hand away from her injury.

“Kyle,” Rian whispered and grimaced when he gently probed her tender flesh. “I don’t think I even have the strength to take what I’ll need from you. Just let me sleep for a few more hours, and I’ll heal myself in the morning.”

Kyle seemed to ignore her as he intently scrutinized the area in the dim light offered by the moonbeams that shone through the bay window. “I’m worried this may get infected.” He mused fretfully.

“I will take care of that,” When he didn’t acknowledge that she’d spoken, Rian gripped his face in her hands. “Kyle,” His eyes darted up to meet her gaze, and for the first time, Rian clearly saw the worry in them. An odd sensation spread through her chest and she felt regret for putting him through this. “Thank you for saving my life.”

He shrugged, now seeming uncomfortable, and swiftly stood to his feet. His hands delved into his back pocket as he shifted his weight restlessly between his feet. “Yeah, well, you’ve saved my ass a couple of times.”

Rian quirked a wry eyebrow, and a tiny smile played on her lips. “Literally.”

He glared at her. “Thank you for the reminder,” He murmured sarcastically. Then he raked a hand through his tangled hair and sighed in frustration. “Well, if you aren’t going to heal it, at least let me bandage it up for you.”

It was Rian’s turn to sigh. She hated being coddled – it made her feel vulnerable and dependent. “Will it make you feel better?”

“Yes.”

“Then, fine. Fix me up, Dr. Valenti.”

With a pleased look on his face, Kyle exited the living room to retrieve the first aid kit that would be in the kitchen cupboard. Rian leaned back against the cushion of the couch and rested her eyes for a moment trying to draw in her strength. Her body ached, her mind was numb, and she had a serious craving for a banana split with a hefty dose of mustard and Tabasco sauce, topped with sliced pickles and sauerkraut. Yum. Her stomach rumbled then, and the sound almost caused her to miss the sharp click of a gun’s safety being flipped off.

Rian tensed.

“Young lady, I do believe you have wrong couch,” The voice was strong and deep, and fairly familiar. “And the wrong house. Would you mind telling me what you’re doing here?”

She sighed, shrugged her right shoulder, and then nestled deeper into the cushions. She appeared nonchalant as she kept her eyes shut. “Sure, after you get that gun pointed away from me.”

The man bristled at her remark, and the tension nearly crackled in the air around her; Rian fought to keep a smirk from curling on her lips. “Miss, it seems to me that you are in no position to be giving the orders here.”

“And it seems to me, pops,” Kyle remarked from the entryway of the kitchen, and caused both occupants to jerk in his direction. “That you’re jumping the gun just a bit, don’t ya think?” He grinned then. “Relax, she’s with me.”

Jim Valenti stared in wide-eyed shock at his son. For a moment, he thought he was dreaming. The man before him was no longer the young, spunky, smart-ass kid he had proudly raised. Now, he was an independent adult. It had been at least two years since Kyle had last come to visit his father, and even then he’d looked younger than he truly was.

“Now, put the gun down, Dad, before you shoot your eye out.”

Wryly, Jim did as he was instructed. He had been wrong; he’s still a smart-ass. When he looked at the woman on the couch, he offered a benign smile. “Sorry about that, Miss. I didn’t know you were with him,” Jim extended his hand then. “I’m the retired Sheriff in these parts – James Valenti.”

Rian leaned forward and gripped the man’s hand in a firm shake. “Riannan Kellar,” She greeted. “And I apologize for my smart remark,” As she settled back into the cushion of the couch, she smiled. “And for taking your couch.”

“No need to worry,” Jim said as he placed his gun out of reach. He rounded the coffee table and flipped on the tableside lamp, illuminating the room in sharp brightness. Squinting a moment, he found his way to the couch and sat down to the right of Rian. “What brings you two by so late at night?”

As silence fell amongst the trio, Kyle approached Rian with the first aid kit, his brows furrowed. Jim noticed this and regarded them both with considering gazes. “One of you kids hurt?”

Rian laughed and looked at Jim. “That would be me, Sir,” She answered as Kyle flipped open the kit. “I’m afraid I make a lousy cop.”

Jim tilted his head slightly in acknowledgement. He watched as his son stonily began to tend to Rian’s would that looked suspiciously like it had been inflicted by a bullet. “Run into some trouble tonight?”

“Just a couple of rowdy hoodlums,” Rian evaded, and didn’t even flinch as Kyle began to cleanse her wound with an antiseptic. “Nothing we couldn’t handle.”

“Rian,” Kyle said softly, and averted his gaze from her injury to peer into her turquoise colored eyes. “He’s not stupid.”

She narrowed her eyes into a piercing glare. “I never said he was, Kyle,” Rian looked at Jim then and smiled sweetly. “I don’t think you’re stupid, Sir.”

The corners of Jim’s lips curled into a faint smile. “Then you wouldn’t mind telling me the truth?”

Rian’s mouth opened and closed like a fish sucking in bubbles, until she finally had the presence of mind to close it for good. Her eyes shut and she momentarily concentrated on the texture of Kyle’s fingers tenderly prodding her skin, and then the touch of soft gauze being wrapped around her. Her mind was too fuzzy to think of a way to rectify this situation, much less do something about it.

“Rian,” Kyle spoke again, and when she opened her eyes, he stared at her with a reassuring look in his eyes. She immediately felt at ease. “It’s okay. He knows.”

When she looked back towards Jim, his smile was wider now – his suspicion confirmed. “A real alien,” He mused good-naturedly and leaned forward to rest his arms on his knees. “Those kids were just hybrids, but you’re the real deal, aren’t you? One hundred percent alien.”

It occurred to her that Kyle had told his father about her nonhuman status. Oddly, the notion didn’t evoke a mind numbing fear or anger within her like she had expected. Jim Valenti obviously knew about Max, Michael, Isabel, and Tess, and he had undoubtedly accepted them. With that in mind, why would Kyle think that his father wouldn’t accept her?

Dumbly, Rian nodded.

Jim waited a beat and then gave a hoot of laughter as he clapped his hands once, the sound brisk in the still of the room. “Well, I’ll be damned,” He grinned excitedly, and raised his eyebrows. “Those kids had human bodies and couldn’t do that body shifting thing that I’ve heard about, but I bet you can. C’mon, lets see what you really look like.”

“Dad,” Kyle admonished, and glanced warily at his friend. “She’s drained. And besides, that’s a little rude to ask your guest, isn’t it?”

“What?” Jim asked innocently. “I’m sure she wouldn’t mind. Okay, okay,” He finally conceded upon Kyle’s glare. “Just tell me what you’re most similar to then, okay? Do you look more like the fellas from Signs or from When Mars Attacks? E.T.?”

Rian smiled despite herself. Jim’s enthusiasm – like Kyle’s – had a kind of easing effect on her. When Kyle went to intercede again, Rian interrupted, “No, it’s okay,” He gave her an apologetic look as he silently finished bandaging her arm and then stood. Rian tested the tightness of his wrap and nodded her approval. Then, she turned to Jim. “This is what I really look like.”

When he gave her a disappointed and dumbfounded look, Rian chuckled. She struggled on how she would explain, and thoughtfully chewed on the corner of her lip. “On my planet, you see what you want to see,” She began a bit vaguely, and then continued, “If you were to go to my planet right now, and you expected to see these beings that are only three-feet-five inches tall, with melon heads, and black, almond shaped beady eyes, then that’s what you’d see. But if you just imagined them as people, just like you and Kyle, then that’s what you’d see,” Rian paused to smile fondly a moment. “When I think of my people, I see these orbs of color, each color depicting a personality. On Antar, we can be whoever and whatever we want to be.

“Here on Earth, fear has prevented humans to be able to possess that ability. The image of us being small green men that feast on human bodies has been engraved in your minds for too long to be changed. It’s impossible for you to see us any differently, so we have to shape shift to be accepted. We choose how we want you to see us,” Rian laughed lightly and glanced between Kyle and his father. “And this is how I want you to see me, a little less intimidating. So, this is really what I look like.”

Jim leaned back into the couch, and regarded her with a thoughtful gaze. “So, you’re not short and green?” He asked quizzically.

Rian laughed softly again. “No, sir, I’m just as you see me now.”

“But you can shape shift, right?”

This time she nodded. “I can be anyone or anything I want to be.”

A grin once again beamed. “Well, lets see, girl. I’ve never seen how it happens, and I’m mighty curious.”

Kyle groaned as Rian laughed again. She liked him, and it was no wonder because he easily reminder her of Kyle. “Dad, she’s been through a lot tonight and she needs her rest.”

Suddenly his expression turned serious, and he stood from the couch. His hands delved into the pockets of his plaid robe. “Do I want to know?”

Kyle sighed tiredly. “I’ll tell you later, Dad.”

Jim nodded, and his gaze thoughtful, then he began to pad towards the hallway, his house slippers flipping at his heels. “Kyle, come help me get some sheets and make up to make up the pull out bed.”

“Oh, you don’t need to go through the trouble,” Rian insisted and patted the cushions of the couch. “I’ll sleep fine just as it is.”

“It’s not for you, girly,” Jim explained. “You’ll sleep in Kyle’s bed, and get some nice rest. The mattress on that damned couch is too lumpy, and is not meant for a young woman.”

Kyle grinned wryly at Rian as she smiled appreciatively. “My room’s through that door,” He informed her with a point in the direction. “The sheets will be clean so you can climb right in.”

She stood gingerly to her feet, not nearly strong enough to stay up and talk like she suspected Jim and Kyle would do. “Thanks,” She said to Kyle, and then looked at Jim. “And thank you for your hospitality, Mr. Valenti.”

“Anytime, Miss.” He winked.

Smiling, Rian made her way into Kyle’s bedroom and shut the door softly behind her. She took in the high school paraphernalia – West Roswell High. Posters of bands and girls and road signs decorated his walls. His sheets were a plaid blue, and crisp when she slipped between them. As soon as her head hit his pillow, she fell asleep.

<center>* * *</center>

His dreams always centered on her. She was the star – his star. Apparently it wasn’t enough that she conquered his thoughts during the day; she had to invade his subconscious at night. And she did it quite vividly too.

Piercing azure colored eyes haunted him. Lush, golden curls wrapped around him in the most enticing manner. Soft lips beckoned to him, and a light touch teased him. Her laughter was music, and her smile a masterpiece. No other woman could ever compare.

And that was precisely why Kyle would toss and turn during those dreams. His dreams of Tess Harding were often sweet memories of happy moments they had shared as friends. Others were erotic fantasies he’d conjured up as a horny teenager. Now, though, the dreams weren’t sweet or erotic. They were disturbing.

Her eyes were no longer bright, yet still piercing. She never smiled, and her laughter was only a memory. Her hair – blond and always soft and bouncy – is matted and unkempt. He couldn’t feel her touch; he couldn’t even remember it. The light caress of her fingers over the back of his hand was now trapped somewhere in the back of his mind – locked away with the key discarded.

Kyle knew he dreamt of her as she must be now. He wasn’t disillusioned to believe that she was in good care. She’s in the hands of monsters – there’s no doubt in his mind now. She was frightened, and whether she knew it or not, she needed him. She needed his arms wrapped around her in loving comfort, to rest her head against his chest and listen to his steady heartbeat. She needed security. And Kyle meant to assist.

But first, he had to find her. He had to rescue her, and then he could stare into her eyes. Then, he could see her smile, hear her voice as she said his name.

“Kyle.”

He smiled to himself and settled deeper into the cushions of the couch. His eyes shifting beneath his lids as he dreamt of the only girl who had ever held his heart. He wanted to hear her say it again.

“Kyle.”

Again.

“Kyle!”

Something bit his nipple, and he jerked awake with a yelp as he clutched a hand protectively over his nubbin. Rian’s blurred features peered down at him with an amused smirk.

“Damn, woman,” He muttered sleepily as he struggled to blink her into focus. “What the hell is it with you and nipples?”

She gave an indecisive shrug, a smile still playing on her lips. “C’mon, it’s time to go.”

Kyle frowned and blocked the sun’s rays streaming in from the window with an upraised hand. “What time is it?” He asked.

“Eight on the dot,” She answered in a chipper tone. “Bright and early – lets move.”

With a groan, he struggled to sit up, and then regarded her with an unhappy look. “You do realize that I’ve only had about two hours of sleep, right?” He inquired her. “I’m not like you, I can’t get only three hours of sleep and then run a marathon.”

“Don’t be silly,” Rian murmured and tugged him to his feet. “I can run a marathon on only two hours of sleep. Now hurry up. We need to get back and speak with Liz before the day’s over.”

Kyle suppressed a yawn and scrubbed at his face. When he was finally awake enough to really look at her, his gaze immediately zoned in on her left shoulder. Rian knowingly tugged down a portion of her white t-shirt to reveal smooth skin.

“All better,” She informed him with a smile. “Now, hurry up. You need to feed me before we go.”


They had said goodbye to Jim, with a promise to make another visit soon, preferably one that wasn’t in the middle of the night. Kyle then gave her a brief tour of the town he had grown up in while they were on their way to the Crashdown. Rian had absorbed the information like a curious teenager. He knew her mind was putting pictures to the words; the stories she had heard through her friends now had a setting. Roswell - a quaint town in the middle of nowhere, with happy houses, a few sporadic trees, and parks for children to play. The schools had manicured lawns, and the brick of the buildings were free of grim and dirt. Rian vaguely associated the panorama with that of a Bob Ross painting.

Kyle finally slowed in front of the Crashdown. It hadn’t changed in ten years, save the owners. Jeff and Nancy Parker moved to the east coast, and now lived in a small town in Massachusetts where they could see the seasons change with vivid clarity. The Parkers had sold their beloved restaurant to none other Amy DeLuca. Which meant Kyle would still get his meal for half price.

“The food’s good here, right?” Rian asked as she eyed the flying saucer logo with a mixture of amusement and incredulity. With a shake of her head, she exited the vehicle and approached the entrance.

“The best Solar Dogs and Orion Rings around,” He pulled open the door for her, and as she passed added with enthusiasm, “You’ve got to try the Blood of an Alien Smoothie!”

She tossed him a pointed look over her shoulder, her eyes narrowed. “Nice.”

Kyle smirked. But the expression then fell from his face when he noticed a group of teens sitting in the booth that had been long ago deemed theirs. Every meal they had ever sought within the walls of the Crashdown had been consumed in that exact booth.

He frowned, and directed Rian to different booth instead. Ten years had passed after all, and it was ridiculous to think that their seating preference would remain free the duration of their absence. Yet even as he sat down, it was different. Too many memories were created in that corner booth. Space Fry fights and Men in Black Berry Pie eating contests had been the most prevalent of pastimes. Others had been the six of them making plans for the weekend, talking about school, and predicting the future. He had shared a few milkshakes with Tess, and had even experimented with his tolerance of Tabasco sauce. Kyle smiled. That was a memory he was never going to forget.

“I’m so hungry I could order everything on the menu.” Rian absently commented as her eyes scanned her options.

“Stay away from the pancakes.”

She glanced at him briefly, before she shook her head. “I’m not a breakfast eater. I need some beef. Something greasy.”

“Well, in that case,” Kyle leaned forward and tilted her menu back just slightly. He read the selection upside down until he found what he was looking for, and pointed. “The Sigourney Weaver burger is superb.”

Rian frowned and brushed his finger aside. “The what-a-what-a burger?”

“Sigourney Weaver,” Kyle said again. And when she eyed him in confusion, he sighed. “Ripley from the Alien movies? I’ve showed you those.”

The frown stayed a moment longer, and then was replaced with a glower as realization dawned on her. “Oh yes, I seem to recall that masterful portrayal of my species,” She uttered sarcastically. “I think I’ll pass, thanks.”

Kyle has to the presence of mind to contain his smirk, though his eyes still twinkled with laughter. At that moment, a disgruntled teenage girl approached the table. The uniforms had changed since the last time he had visited. Amy had – thankfully – gotten fid of the green monstrosity with a silver alien head apron, and bobbing alien antennas, and had replaced them with uniforms from Star Trek. Now, they appeared to be sporting the MIB look.

“Good Morning. My name’s Alyssa. May I take your order, or do you need more time?” The brief litany had been spouted in a monotonous voice and in one breath. Her face remained stoic.

Rian immediately launched into her own spiel. “I’ll take the Will Smith Innocent Bystander Burger – better make the two – with extra Interplanetary Pickles, and two sides of Unidentified French Frying Objects, and a – ah,” She paused, clucked her tongue in indecision, and tilted her head to the side as she regarded her choices once more. “Oh, um, a bowl of the Spaced Out Soup. And that’s it, thanks. Oh! And, uh, Cosmic Vanilla Cola to drink.” She handed back the menu with a smile.

Slowly, Alyssa accepted the menu, and then looked at Kyle. “Is that for both of you?”

“No, um, I’ll take a Abduct-Tea, and the Grilled Moon cheese Sandwich. No Orion Rings; I’ll just have some of her fries.”

“No, he won’t,” Rian corrected with a shake of her head. She tapped the menu in the waitress’s arm, and gave her a pointed look. “Get him his own.”

When Alyssa looked back at Kyle again, he shrugged. After she left with a promise of having their meals out shortly, Kyle observed Rian closely. She drummed her fingers anxiously against the surface of their table, as her eyes wandered over the diner. Kyle wondered what she thought as she took in all the alien paintings. Finally, her gaze fell back on his, and she gave him a curious look.

“What?”

He didn’t say anything for a moment. “Hungry?” His voice held a teasing tone, and his dark eyebrow arched inquiringly.

Rian’s look was none too amused, and she crossed her arms in defense. “It’s just a little side effect. I was so drained this morning that it literally took all of my energy. I feel like I haven’t eaten in weeks,” She then smiled at him. “Besides, you know I’m a big eater anyway. In fact, I really should have ordered an appetizer.” Her voice held regret.

Her answer caused an onslaught of unwelcome images to storm his mind. He’d never forget the way in which she sagged against him unconscious. The feel of her blood on his hands will forever be with him. The pallor color of her once beautiful ivory skin will haunt him for the rest of his life.

Kyle recalled everything she had done to cause such a massive drain of her energy. The gunshot had caused her to lose it, but before that, she had used an excessive amount of her powers. She was often so energetic, that he had actually believed she had an unlimited supply. He remembered the way in which she had stumbled, her movements shaky, as she finalized transferring the data from the computer into her mind. That must have taken a lot of energy…

And then he saw her shape shifting in his mind. The way her skin stretched and contorted. Her eyes changed colors as he watched on in apprehension. He watched as the muscles rippled and formed beneath her flesh, watched as she grew and then shortened in height. And he watched as her curly, lush locks thinned and changed to short and yellow.

She had done it twice, only once in which he had witnessed – but once had been enough.

Had his repulsion been evident on his face? He hadn’t meant for it to be so, but it was possible. She had caught him off guard; how could he have prepared for something like that?

The waitress returned with their drinks, and then quickly left. Rian grabbed her straw and stripped it of the protective paper, and then jabbed it into her drink. She sucked a hefty amount into her mouth and swallowed appreciatively. When she leaned back, and met Kyle’s gaze, she frowned.

“What?” She asked again. His gaze was imploring, confused, and a little unsure.

Kyle leaned into the table, to better shield their conversation. “Rian, about your shape shifting.” He intended to apologize about the way he may have acted, but she beat him to it.

“Yeah, sorry about that,” Her laugh was shaky and evidently forced. “It was necessary, and a little extreme. I’m sorry you had to be there to witness that.”

Kyle swallowed as guilt consumed him. “Listen, I didn’t mean to look so…” Words failed him. He wanted to sugar coat it a bit – and repulsed wouldn’t exactly be the right term.

“Grossed-out?” Rian suggested helpfully. “Disgusted? Revolted?”

Apparently, his feeling at the time had been glaringly obvious, as they were now. “I’m really sorry, Rian.”

She shrugged nonchalantly and twirled her straw between her thumb and index finger, her gaze engrossed in her ministrations. “Don’t worry about it,” She insisted casually. “It’s not that big of a deal. You guys have never seen something like that before, I know it took you by surprise.”

Somehow that just wasn’t enough. “I don’t think any differently of you, Ri. I swear.” He tried for reassurance now. Though, she didn’t convey her need for reassurance, but he wanted to try anyway.

“I know,” She said quickly and finally met his gaze. “And I’m glad. I don’t want you to see me as a monster.”

“No, I don’t –“

“But you did,” Rian interrupted softly, and eyed Kyle in the way that made him think she was reading his mind. “When you saw me do it, I felt your disgust. And that’s okay,” She said the last part quickly. “I know it was intense. I know that the things I do – my abilities – are hard to accept at times. I’m sorry I hurt you, Kyle,” When he looked at her in confusion, she elaborated. “I had to transfer the guard’s prints to yours, and it hurt. I couldn’t help it, I couldn’t stop it, and I’m sorry. It hadn’t been my intention to cause you pain.”

But she had healed him as well. Kyle pointed this out.

“It doesn’t matter,” Rian said dejectedly. “I felt your wariness of me. You weren’t scared, just cautious. I never want you to have to feel that way again,” She paused for a long moment, so long, that Kyle was prepared to say something, but once again she interceded. “I’m not like you, Kyle,” She whispered softly, her eyes downcast. “I don’t feel the things you do. I recognize physical pain. But I don’t have the emotions you do. I don’t know fear; I don’t know anxiety. Sometimes I think I understand empathy, but sometimes I don’t. I’ve never felt lust. I’m not human, Kyle, emotions don’t come with this. But there has been once exception. I’ve been in this form long enough that I’m just now learning what love is, because I love you. I love you and Liz, and Maria, and Alex. I recognize love, or at least I think so. But that’s it. I don’t know anything else.”

She sounded confused, and Kyle’s heart ached. “That’s all that matters.” He assured her as he grasped her hand.

Rian nodded mutely, before she finally whispered, “Okay.” When she leaned back in her seat and withdrew her hand from his, she rubbed uncomfortably at her chest.

“You okay?” Kyle asked with concern.

She nodded. “Yeah, I just got this little…clench in my chest is all.” She gave him a reassuring grin. “It’s all good.”

He didn’t say anything, but he recognized the new emotion she was feeling. It wasn’t love – though he didn’t doubt she felt it – what she felt now was emotional pain. He had caused her hurt with his lack of control over his emotions. She saw for the briefest moment his true feelings, and they had caused her pain.

Kyle vowed he’d never allow it to happen again.

<center>* * *</center>


“What are you doing this weekend?”

The voice startled Alex from the delectable heaven he had been submerged in, and he lifted his head to peer in the bright blue eyes of Kate Marlow. He put down his greasy steak hoagie and wiped his mouth with a napkin. Kate seated herself across from him at the concrete lunch table. Her fiery red hair blew in the breeze, and her eyes twinkled mischievously.

“Nothing,” Alex finally answered a bit hesitantly. “I don’t think.”

“Good,” Kate said with a pleased tone in her voice. She opened the lid to her salad and speared a few greens with her fork. “Then you can take me out.”

Alex swallowed convulsively and reached for the bottle of his Pepsi. “Like, on a date?”

She shrugged and slowly chewed her food. After she swallowed, she said, “Kind of, but kind of not.”

“Ah,” Alex observed. “Well, that’s a definitive answer.”

Kate winked. “My boyfriend and I decided to take a little break from each other,” She began to explain. “I saw him the other night with this bimbo. Bleach blonde hair, huge rack, luscious lips – you know the kind.”

Alex nodded empathetically, though he really had no clue.

“Anyway,” She went on. “That pissed me off, so a girlfriend told me he was taking the same chick to the restaurant where we had our first date. I want you to be able to flaunt you for a little while until he comes crawling back.”

“You want to flaunt me?” Puzzled, Alex frowned when Kate nodded her head. “Why?”

“Because you’re the complete opposite of my boyfriend. He’ll go nuts!”

Alex scratched the back of his neck nervously. “If you wanted to get back together with him, why don’t you just tell him so?”

“And make the first move? Are you crazy?” Appalled at the very idea, she shook her head rapidly. “No, I want him to come back to me, not the other way around. So are you in or not?”

He sighed and eyed her closely. Her bottom lip protruded in a cute pout and she battered her lush eyelashes at him. Alex shook his head at her blatant attempt to woo him. “Okay.” He finally agreed, and grinned when she whooped with triumph.

Kate was so excited she leaned over the table and kissed him exuberantly on the lips. “I owe you big,” She gushed happily, and began to gather up her barely eaten lunch. “Take the rest of the day off. I’ll cover your shift.”

As she began to cross the quad, Alex called after her with a laugh. “Where are you going?”

“I’ve got to call my girlfriend and conspire.” Even with the distance between them, Alex saw her wink.


Alex took her advice and enjoyed the rest of his day off. The free time allowed him to catch up on his errands. He went grocery shopping, checked his mail, and rented a few movies he’d been dying to see. But when he came home to an empty apartment, however, Alex decided maybe it would have been if he had stayed at work after all.

He sighed and lounged on the couch for a few moments. The silence was almost deafening, and he turned on the television to add some background noise. It used to be he relished the silence. It was easier for him to accomplish things when things were quiet around him. But now, it was too much.

The silence made him think, and his thoughts would be centered around on her. The only girl he had ever wanted, but who had never wanted him.

Isabel.

Lately, she consumed his thoughts. The idea that she could possibly be held right under Liz’s nose was too much for him to handle. It was easier for him to be nonchalant and keep his optimism at bay about the entire thing. Alex couldn’t bare the thought of being let down.

And, if they did get her and the others back, there was no promise of a relationship transpiring between them. Isabel had always made it clear that she wasn’t interested in him. Why should it change after ten years and a state of being captured?

When they got them back – if they got them back – he’d go on as usual. He and Isabel would remain platonic friends. He’s pine after her, and she’d pretend he didn’t exist.

Sometimes he’d fantasize though. Alex would often imagine himself kicking down a door and swooping her into his arms. Then, he’d carry her to safety, and all would be right again. She’d fall for him. She’d be undeniably in love with him, and worship him as if he were a god. And he’d treat her as a queen; her life would be perfect with him.

Fantasizing was never productive, though, so Alex would submerge himself into his work.

But he couldn’t do that now, and that really pissed him off.

He was out of his apartment and in his car in record time. He began to drive aimlessly, hoping that concentrating on the road would help divert the direction of his thoughts. Alex found himself pulling into the police department, and parking next to Maria’s beat up Honda. Maria’s office was located in a building attached to the PD and was used solely for laboratory purposes. Everyday it seemed she was hovering over some body, looking for microscopic clues to as how the victim was killed and who had done it.

She was amazingly good at the game Clue.

Alex entered the building, and smiled warmly at the secretary in the lobby. She greeted him with a sweet smile of her own, and allowed him autorotation to the private elevator.

Maria worked on the second floor, the forensic ward, and stayed until six in the evening. That is, unless she was called to fieldwork, in which she wouldn’t return home until much later.

He knew she couldn’t enjoy her job; who would like prodding dead bodies? So why did she do it? Why had she chosen that field in college?

Because it got her mind off of Michael. She had told him repeatedly that it hurt too much to think of her missing boyfriend, so she had to do something that required her undivided attention. And forensic science was such a field. It was very high maintenance and demanded attention to detail, all of which Maria did well.

In the fours years that she has been doing her job, she has solved four hundred plus cases, testified in over thirty court trials, and had intimately touched over a thousand corpses. She was in the top of her game, and her associates looked up to her.

Alex was preparing to enter her office, when the door swung open and revealed an irate Detective. At six-foot-two, Detective Kurtis Haines was the same height as Alex, but outweighed him by a good hundred plus pounds, most of which was unmistakably muscle.

“Hey, Alex,” Kurt’s voice was polite, but the strain of the day was evident. “Maria’s just finishing up.”

“Thanks. Tough night?” He asked.

Kurt smiled wryly. “Brutal,” He murmured and stepped past Alex in retreat. “Tell Maria to take it easy, okay? She’ll listen to you.”

Alex grinned and watched as Kurt walked away; he liked the guy. He was funny and quick witted; tough, which made him a good guy to have as back up. Kurt was also Maria’s type – the brooding kind with layers. His eyes were green, and his hair a dark shade of brown. He was also interested in Maria.

Only problem, she isn’t.

His attention once again on Maria, Alex swung open the door, revealing his frenzied friend furiously writing up charts. Her head lifted in a quick glance, before it returned downcast once again focused.

“Just a second, Alex.” She muttered distractedly.

He didn’t say anything, but looked around her office in amusement. Despite the methodical way in which she worked, her office was a complete contradiction. Papers were everywhere, some crumpled and laying at the basin of the garbage can. Three Styrofoam cups sat next to a glass coffee mug on her desk. There was a filing cabinet in the corner, and he wondered if there was a single document in it, or if they were all strewn about the room.

“Done.” Maria finally said on an expelled breath. She leaned back in her chair and smiled tiredly at Alex, the pleasure of the day’s work being completed evident on her face.

Alex approached her desk and leaned over, his head tilted to the side in order to try and read what she had written. “What went down?” He asked even as he continued to skim over her chicken scratch.

“Jane Doe found in a temporarily empty house. The owner’s found her body in their basement when they returned from a two week long vacation,” Maria explained, and leaned her forearms on the desk as she looked at Alex. “She had broken in to their house.”

Alex frowned. “Weird,” He murmured. “Anything stolen?”

“Not from what the police report says,” She answered and checked the file again. “My guess is she broke in with the intent of burglarizing, but didn’t get very far.”

“So what killed her?”

Maria shrugged then, and tapped her pen against her knee. “Won’t know until I get the lab results back, but I would have to say,” She paused and pursed her lips together. “She can’t be over eighteen. She was probably out with some friends, got drunk, did some hard drugs, and decided it would be funny to break into a house. She probably OD-ed and passed out on the basement floor,” She shrugged again then. “Just a theory.”

Alex nodded his head in acknowledgement, and once again found himself grateful for his job. He dug his hands in his pockets then, and smiled at her. “So, you have to stick around until the results come back then, huh?”

She shook her head. “Not really,” Came her response. “I can let Spencer handle it, why?”

His mouth opened for a response – to invite her over to his place to watch movies – when their beepers went off simultaneously. They reached for their belt clips and pried the devices from their sides. When they read the numbers, they looked at each other in question.

549-1717 was an infrequently used number and translated to LIZ-ASAP, which then meant drop whatever you were doing and get to her place quickly.

Alex sighed and then returned the beeper to his side. “Need a ride?”

<center>* * *</center>

Liz sighed and settled into the deep cushions of her couch in search for some relief. Today had been her day off, but that didn’t mean she hadn’t been busy. On the contrary, she’d run so many much needed errands that she felt like she had spent the day at work.

She paid some bills, cashed her check and deposited some of cash into a savings account, did some grocery shopping, and somehow found time for some personal indulgences, like a haircut, manicure and pedicure, and massage.

However, having someone touching her while trying to make conversation only made her tense, consequentially making her uptight during the return drive. It was obvious she could only find peace and relaxation in her own home. With her two dogs, a carton of ice cream, and her remote control she’d find a relief here like she could no place else.

It was a good thing she had gotten all of her errands out of the way, though, for tomorrow – Sunday – she could enjoy her second day off without having to worry about accomplishing other tasks. Tomorrow she could sleep in, catch up on the novel she had started reading several months ago, and maybe make a trip in town to see her friends. On Monday, her work would be waiting for her, so she’d need all the rest she could.

It was twenty ‘til six and she was looking forward to watching some weekend sitcoms.

Just then, Mulder’s head perked up from her lap, and his body tense as a low growl emitted from his throat. His jerk to alert was followed by a beeping that came from her security panel next to her front door.

They had some company.

Liz patted Mulder’s head in reassurance, and then muttered a quiet “good boy”. Alex had installed some hi-tech equipment, and it was very useful, but some things just couldn’t beat a good watchdog.

She unfolded herself from the couch and stretched into a standing position. Then, she padded across her living room, Mulder and Scully at her heels, to her front door. With a punch of a button, the low beeping stopped. Her alarm had been activated when a vehicle entered her driveway, and when they cross the beam of her porch, a shrill alarm will ring throughout her house and distress her dogs. Liz punched off that system as well. Whoever it was, she wasn’t worried.

She was curious, however, and walked the short distance to her living room. The remote was still in her hand, and with a quick press of a button, the TV flickered on. Another button press later, and she was watching the outside perimeter of her house. She flipped from one camera to another, as if she were changing channels, until she saw two figures getting out a dark vehicle. Liz recognized the vehicle before she recognized the people getting out. Alex, and Maria was with him.

Her curiosity piqued, Liz walked back to the front door, where her two dogs paced anxiously, and unlocked the bolts. She opened the door just as her friends stepped on her porch.

“Expecting us?” Alex teased as pulled open the screen door and then held it for Maria.

“Not really.” Liz answered with a puzzled expression. What ever had prompted their visit must be at least quasi-serious; though Alex was dressed casually, Maria was still in her lab attire.

They frowned at Liz’s response. “Didn’t you page us?” Maria inquired, her own confusion evident.

Liz looked apprehensively between her two friends, and then slowly shook her head. “No, I didn’t.”

“But we got a page from you,” Alex insisted and reached for his beeper to provide proof. “549-1717, see?”

That was the number she would have used if she had needed them here, but she rarely ever used it. The distance between them was too great for her to ever have to use it; she would always opt to use the number that would inform them to call Maria and find out where to meet and where. She hadn’t used that number in ages.

“I swear I didn’t beep you guys.” Liz said, and suddenly felt uncomfortable.

Maria’s face blanched. “Then who did?”

“I did,” Everyone whirled around to see Rian step beneath the light emitted from the porch, Kyle right behind her. “You can stop looking so startled, it was just me.”

Maria visibly relaxed. Liz stepped aside to allow her and Alex to enter, and then stared questioningly at both Rian and Kyle.

“We need to talk.” Rian said once she reached Liz.

She nodded mutely, and waited until she and Kyle were inside before she entered as well and shut the door behind her.

Everyone had gathered into the living room. Maria sat on the couch, Alex stood next to the fireplace, while Kyle roughhoused with the dogs. It really wasn’t an unusual scene.

“Does anyone want anything to drink?”

Everybody shook their heads, and Rian verbalized, “No, we need to get this out. Liz, I need a disk, and you need to bring your laptop.”

Wordlessly, Liz walked out of the living room, and down the hallway to where her den was located. She punched in the code - on another security panel - that would unlock the door, and then slipped inside. A few brief moments later, she rejoined the group with her laptop and blank disk in tow. She offered both to Rian.

“I only need the disk,” Rian clarified and plucked it from her hand. She sandwiched the object between her hands, and closed her eyes as she took a deep breath. A second later, her hands glowed incandescently as she transferred the data from her mind onto the disk. Finally, she opened her eyes and hands, and then handed the information over to Liz. “I got this from Dr. Bradshaw’s computer at Eagle Rock.”

Liz didn’t take the disk, but gaped at Rian her gaze furious. After a few moments, her eyes then shifted to Kyle. He stared innocently at the floor. “You went inside?” When Rian didn’t answer, Liz ripped the disk from her grasp, and swore. “You said you were going to check it out –“

“I did.” Rian interrupted.

“But that didn’t mean for you to actually go inside.”

“What else would it have meant?”

Exasperated, Liz closed her eyes and tried to calm her nerves. She didn’t even want to think of what kind of trouble they could’ve gotten themselves into.

“We were fine, okay?” Rian tried to assure. “We got in an out without a hitch.”

Liz missed the look that transpired between Kyle and Rian, and instead sat on the couch with her laptop on her thighs. She flipped it open and booted it up. Then, she slipped in the disk and brought up the document that it safely stored.

Her eyes skimmed briefly over the first paragraph, before her gaze fluttered up to meet Rian’s. She swallowed and then continued reading.

Dr. Bradshaw and documented in explicit detail the results of every test that had been taken, which hadn’t been many; the facility wasn’t funded enough and didn’t have the equipment to carry out the bigger tests. The most incriminating result that Liz had read thus far was that of the blood test. The specimens were undoubtedly alien. And those had been the doctor’s words.

Liz read on. Specimen numbers 243 and 242 were classified as male, 426 and 429 were female.

“Two males, two females,” Liz read aloud to her companions. Everyone around her was silent; their attention focused solely on her. Her eyes scanned rapidly as her mind comprehended the words meanings. “Subjects found in the desert thirty miles outside of Roswell, New Mexico, just off of highway 37.” She swallowed, and she knew everyone was making the same connection she was. The highway led to the cave in which the pods were held.

Liz was silent for a few moments as she continued to read. “Specimen 242 evaded capture for two weeks,” That had been in the file given to her. “They were held at Eagle Rock for three weeks and underwent minor tests,” She shook her head; things were getting redundant now – all of this information had been in her report. It mentioned the specimens being shipped to her facility, but it didn’t go into greater detail about anything else. Liz read on until she was at the last paragraph. “Should be approached with caution – powers are advanced and damaging. One fatality. Serum should be administered to destabilize abilities.”

The rest of the information was irrelevant. Liz leaned back against the couch and stared at the screen for long moments. Finally she lifted her gaze to meet Rian’s and revealed nothing. She didn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up, didn’t want her own to build. She remained impassive.

“It’s them, isn’t it?” Alex’s voice quaked as he asked the question. He stepped forward, his gaze penetrating. “You think it’s them, don’t you?”

Before Liz could answer, Rian spoke up. “That doesn’t mean it’s them,” She muttered, and everyone diverted their gazes to her. “My people have been coming and going from this planet for years, do you think that some of them haven’t been captured?” She shook her head slightly, and eyed the floor beneath her. “Just because it’s two males and two females, doesn’t mean it’s Max, Tess, Michael, and Isabel. It could be anyone. We can’t know for certain.”

Alex’s shoulders sagged and Kyle scrubbed at his face in frustration. “Great.” He murmured.

“And what if it isn’t them?” Maria queried curiously from her place on the couch, and glanced briefly at Riannan. “Are we just going to leave them there to be tortured?”

Alex and Kyle froze, their eyes slowly shifting to Maria. “You can’t mean for us to bail them out.” Alex stated.

“Why not?”

“Because it’s suicide!” Alex exclaimed and threw his arms out to the side in exasperation.

“It would be suicide either way,” Maria said calmly. “How can we just leave them there?”

Rian met Maria’s gaze and gave her a small smile that expressed her gratitude. She felt strange; something unusual coursed through her at the knowledge that Maria wanted to help people she didn’t even know – people who weren’t even like Maria, but people who were like her.

“Maria’s right,” Liz finally spoke, and her gaze met those of everyone in her living room. “Either way we will be going to make that bust.”

Her words were like a revelation. Up until this point, no one had ever thought they’d actually have to follow through with it, but now things were different.

“We have to being the preliminaries,” Liz continued, and looked at everyone pointedly in the eye. “You all know what to do?” Slowly, everyone nodded on comprehension. Liz nodded as well, and smiled wearily. “Get ready guys. The biggest game of our lives is about to begin.”



TBC
writing is a socially accepted form of schizophrenia

Roswell, New Mexico S1 Watch Party

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Raychelxluscious
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Post by Raychelxluscious » Mon Feb 28, 2005 10:03 pm

Okay kids, here's the new part. =) Special thanks to my friend and beta, Kaela. She is super. ;)

Now, I'm not real happy with this part...Like I said, it's a transitional part, and isn't really all that fun. It's not eventful, but we have to keep in mind that it's ONE step closer. I'm really hoping that this will be one of the last boring part, so that then we can really get this fic movin'. ;)

Big waves to my pals Nichole, and Thea (who hasn't read this fic, but promises she will, especially since she's left feedback. ;))

And finally, thank you all for the wonderful, supporitve feedback. =) You're all great and much more patient than I ever would have been. ;)

And...onward:




<center>Part Six</center>


Time was drawing nearer. It would still be a couple more weeks yet – at the very least – before they could set that plan into motion, but Liz could feel it approaching. It was like a nagging reminder in the back of her mind; it was something she had to do, or else all of her accomplishments thus far would have been for nothing. Whether the product of their mission was what she – they – were all hoping for, it was still something she just had to do.

First thing first - she had to make sure everything was in motion. Everyone had specific tasks to fulfill, and had been prompted to begin them as soon as possible. She needed to somehow get Alex back inside the compound so he could do whatever he needed to do to the cameras. His technical jargon was lost on her, all she knew that he need to plant a device of some sort that would feed all imagery to him when the time came; without him they would never reach their goal.

Maria was supposed to go house hunting – a safe house to be exact. Among the five of them they had saved over $175,000. A certain percentage of their paychecks were deposited into their special savings account in order to accomplish this feat. They would need a house - far enough away from Liz’s compound, but close enough for the others to get to in a hurry - that they could safely stow away the aliens. The amount of money they have would more than suffice, which gave them enough left over for renovations and groceries. If they ran out, well, Rian could handle that.

Kyle’s job was to study the blueprints previously stolen from the compound. He needed to memorize the building without being inside; he had to point out places that Liz may be unaware of. Another job he must accomplish was the acquisition of at least one fast, spacious, all terrain vehicle as a means of escape. It wouldn’t hurt if he were to “borrow” some equipment from his SWAT team - guns, ammo, and vests, anything that could be of use.

Rian didn’t hold a specific task. She would oversee everything, and help out whenever need be. Whether it be her shape shifting or mind warping, they would need her someway, somehow, and she would assist.

Liz’s job was solely hers; she specifically said that she would not be helped – not by Rian, not by Kyle. Her job was to get the aliens – whoever they are – out. She was the only one who would have the authorized connections to get into their sector and remove them. With that said she wasn’t going to put her friends at any more risk than they already were by trying to sneak them inside. It was her job, and hers alone.

Soon…It would all happen very soon.

The elevators before her opened in silence. The corridor was bright with the overhead lights reflecting off the white walls and shiny tiled floor. Steadily, she stepped out of the elevator and turned right down the hallway. She was only going on her third workday with Dr. Cornwell. And though she knew he was pleased with her, she was far away from getting that “promotion” Daniel had so blatantly hinted at. The time would come, though, and when it did, she’d be ready.

When she reached the door that would enter into her lab, Liz reached into her pocket and pulled out her authorization card. With a quick swipe and a light beep, the door swung open and she stepped inside. As usual, Dr. Cornwell was leaning over a microscope, his thinning gray hair mused from many perplexed or contemplative scratches at his scalp. He’d always lift his head and greet her with the most kind of smiles; it was a shame he was such a monster.

After only her first day working with him, it became glaringly obvious that he enjoyed his job. Which, right now, consisted of studying cells. But there was that underlying promise of more hands on experiments. Soon, he had told her, they’d enter the physiological part of the studies; his eyes had twinkled like that of a little boy waiting to open a Christmas gift, and his faced had glowed. Liz would bet her life that this guy enjoyed the slice and dice part of his job – most likely without any anesthetics.

He’d prove to be one of the most difficult to get by. She’d kill him if he had too.

“Good Morning, Elizabeth!” He greeted exuberantly. After the first day he hadn’t taken to saying her shortened name, and then decided upon her full name. It was more elegant, he had said, more professional. She had smiled sweetly when she really wanted to shove a beaker down his throat.

“Good Morning, Philip. How are you this morning?”

The doctor gripped at the lapels of his white lab coat, and smiled endearingly at his pupil. “Terrific. I’m just waiting for one of the techies to come in with more samples.”

The “techies” were Cornwell’s right hand men – Ethan Heitzmann and Bruce Sampson. They were permitted to see the specimens, while Liz was forced to wait it out. It irked her to no end. Especially since the two men obviously enjoyed using whatever means necessary to subdue the specimens. A taser was their favorite. They would come in – samples in hand – with sly and very pleased expressions on their faces. Using pain and brute force gave them a power rush; it made them feel superior.

Liz understood the feeling, and couldn’t wait to deal with them when the time came.

“Very soon,” Philip murmured softly to himself. His head was once again bent of his microscope, one eye squinted shut, and a grin stretched across his lips. When he lifted his head to look at her again, his grin broke into a smile. “There won’t be much else we can do with tissue and DNA samples for long; after that we’ll be able to work hands on with the specimens.”

She was counting on it.

Even as Liz kept her face impassive, Philip approached her with a curious smile on his lips. “You’re excited about it too, aren’t you?” He questioned. Liz remained rooted in her spot; she wasn’t about to give him the satisfaction of retreating from him, no matter how unwelcome his proximity to her was. “You can’t wait to poke and prod them for yourself. I know the feeling, my dear.”

He was much too close to her now – closer than he should be. She could see the tiny, gray whiskers growing on his upper lip. Liz noted that his nose hairs seriously need some trimming, and his teeth had seen better days. The man really was disgusting up close, and all she wanted to do was curl her hands around his scrawny neck and cut off his oxygen supply. Yet Liz remained still, and her face betrayed nothing of what she was truly feeling.

Philip patted her cheek affectionately, as if she were his daughter. The smell of latex wafted to her nose. “It won’t be much longer now.”

He turned from her then, and Liz quietly expelled her breath, thankful that there was distance between them once more.

It would all be over soon…

<center>* * *</center>

“Are you Ms. DeLuca?”

Unsteady in her heels, Maria tripped over a rock and nearly met the gritty sand up close and personal. Thankfully, however, she regained her balance and side stepped another menacing looking stone and continued her trek away from her vehicle and towards the older man just across the driveway.

In an effort to get decent offers on the prospective houses, Maria had decided to look cute. With a professional, black, knee length skirt, and a white blouse, she had opted to finish her apparel with open toed shoes perched precariously on the thin spikes of stiletto heels. Big mistake.

“Yes, I am,” She finally got around to answering the older man’s question in a breathless rush. With her hand out stretched, she introduced herself with a sweet smile. “Maria DeLuca.”

The man’s hand was rough with calluses as he gripped hers in a firm shake. He chewed on a toothpick that poked from the corner of his mouth. It bobbed with every chomp of his jaw. His eyes were shadowed from the afternoon sun thanks to the bill of his brown, weathered Stenson. Yet even with his eyes shielded, Maria could still feel his speculative gaze. Finally, he tipped the brim of his hat back, and gave her an unobscure view of his gray colored eyes.

“Name’s Harvey,” His voice was gruff and coarse from years of smoking, but surprisingly pleasant. The jaw line of his face, and his cheeks appeared ruff with stubble. But despite his unruly appearance of a man who had worked hard all of his life, he still held her hand with the firm gentleness of a man who knows of the softness of a female’s hand – not just a woman’s, but a little girl’s too.

Maria couldn’t help but smile at him. “It’s nice to meet you, Harvey.”

Harvey grunted in response before turning towards the house behind him, and eyed it with such pride in his eyes. With a silent sigh, Maria regarded her last house of the day.

The two-story farmhouse had definitely seen better days. What color it had once been painted was now undistinguishable. Black shutters seemed to be balanced by a single nail, and hung at odd angles on either side of two windows covered with grime and filth. The front door looked to be ready to fall right off it’s hinges, and the porch was so rotted through that Maria was afraid to step foot on it.

Over the course of the day she had definitely seen better houses.

“This house has been in the family for years.”

No kidding. Maria thought ruefully.

“The land ain’t for shit, but the house still has some good in ‘er.”

Nodding silently was the only thing she could do. She honestly doubted she would be purchasing this monstrosity, but she didn’t want to make it so obvious – after all, the man seemed like a real sweetheart.

“How ‘bout I give ya a tour of the inside?” He asked even as he began to lead her towards that fearfully unsteady front porch. “There’s not much fixing up needed in there.”

There was no time for her to protest, for they had already reached the first step of the porch. Maria clutched his arm tightly and placed a tentative heel on the first step. It groaned menacingly beneath her weight, and Maria fought to contain her shriek. Her knees began to quake as her fingers furled tighter round the aging man’s forearm. She tossed a wary glance in the direction of her guide.

Harvey made a rough sound in the back of his throat that could have been a chuckle. “Steady now, Ms. DeLuca,” He attempted in a soothing voice. “She’ll hold your weight, for sure. Could do with a few new boards it all, but other than that she’s as fit as a fiddle.”

After she finally had to nerve to brace all of her weight on the step, Maria all but ran across the porch and swung open the screen door. Immediately, the door broke off in her hand, and she smiled apologetically. Harvey shook his head and reached up and settled the door back on its hinges. His brows were furrowed together and he chewed angrily on his toothpick.

“Now, I told ya the outside is gonna need some work. You’ll have to pay for renovations, but I do got some lumber in the shed out back,” He explained and then reached past her to open the front door. “That is, if you decide to buy her.”

A firm “no” resounded loudly in her head as she stepped over the threshold. There was no way that this house could possibly be suitable for what she had in mind. It had to be perfect, and this house surely wasn’t. Nevertheless, Maria chalked it up and endured. When she fully entered the house and allowed her eyes to adjust to the dimness, she stopped fully in her tracks and her breath caught.

“Now, don’t be shy, darlin’. There’s more to see.” Harvey gave her a firm push to allow room for him to enter, and Maria staggered another step. Her mouth had fallen agape as she stared at the spacious home before her.

Harvey had been right. There wasn’t a lot of work to be done on the inside – very little in fact. The essence of the home made Maria take a few wandering steps.

The bright pastel paints were just now beginning to fade, which told Maria that there were constantly being covered with a fresh coat. The hardwood floor boards were steady and firm beneath her feet, and creaked very little with every step she took.

“This is beautiful, Mr. Coulter.” She whispered wistfully.

Harvey pulled off his Stenson and wiped his balding head with a handkerchief. “The Wife took great care of her. It was her pride and joy.”

“She did a wonderful job.”

The room they were standing in right now was only the entry hall. Maria envisioned a coat rack in the corner to her right, and a nice homey rug beneath her feet. To the left, the room opened into a kitchen area. Maria poked her head inside and noted the up to date appliances and smiled happily. The kitchen walls were painted white with deliciously red apples as boarders. Upon closer inspection, Maria discovered that the tiled counter tops had hand painted whicker baskets on them, bubbling over with some more apples. Even though the room was empty, she could imagine what it would have looked like.

Obviously the theme had been apples. The refrigerator would be cluttered with apple magnets, some holding up potholders with apples stitch. A bowl of fake apples would be on the counter. Maria could even imagine a robust older woman standing before the stove in an apple pattern apron.

Maria smiled again, this time at Harvey. “Did your wife like apples?” She teased.

“Loved ‘em. She made an apple pie everyday for desert,” He answered softly. His face took on a wistful expression. “She made the best apple pie you’ll find in these parts.”

Silence reigned comfortably upon the duo for a few moments. “This is a lovely home, Harvey.” Maria finally complimented, and once again smiled endearingly at the old man.

Harvey nodded his sentiments and then stepped into the kitchen, and pointed to a partition that separated the kitchen from another room. “My wife had that wall put up to divide the kitchen and the dining room. You can fit an oblong table in there that seats eight – nine if you really squeeze.”

Perfect. Maria’s smile broadened.

Harvey then led her through the tiny archway and into the afore mentioned dining room. A huge bay window took up one entire wall and allowed the sun to brighten the entire room. A vibrant yellowed of the walls aided in the lighting.

“The dining room leads out into the hallway,” Harvey explained after Maria finished examining the room, and then led the way. Once they entered the hallway, he pointed to the right. “There are the stairs the lead to the second floor. There’s four bedrooms and two baths up there. There’s also a half bath on this floor,” He then pointed straight ahead, to where the wall opened into a grander room. “And this here is the family room.”

The family room was undoubtedly the biggest room in the house, which would be perfect for meetings. Immediately, Maria began to formulate the furniture arrangements and the color schemes. Things were beginning to look up.

Maria stepped into the room, her eyes scanning every wall, every corner as her mind’s eye placed every bit of furniture and decor. Harvey was silent in the archway as he allowed her to see her fill; the only thing to be heard was the hollow echo of her heels hitting the hard wood floor beneath her.

Hollow? She frowned and then tapped her heel against the wood several more times. Maria fixed Harvey with a curious gaze.

“What’s beneath the floor?” She queried and arched a perfectly sculpted eyebrow.

“Nothin’,” Harvey answered and then entered the room. He walked past her, his gait steady, and to one corner of the room. He then crouched down and pulled fragment of floorboards from the flooring.

Maria gasped and rushed over to peer over his shoulder. “Is that a cellar?”

Again, Harvey made a grunting noise in the base of his throat. “Used to hide some fugitive slaves in search for the Underground Railroad. Some beds used to be down in there, but those have been moved out and sold.”

Maria’s pulse started to quicken and her mind race. This house was perfect.

Harvey stood then and allowed Maria an unobstructed view of the hole in the ground. “The upstairs is in much of the same state as the downstairs, but I can still give you a look see if you want,” He paused and replaced his Stenson. “I know she ain’t pretty on the outside, but ain’t she mighty gorgeous on the inside?”

Maria nodded mutely, her curls bouncing at her cheeks. She continued to stare into the darkness before her, seeing nothing. Then, she stood and faced Harvey, her hand outstretched and a happily warm smile on her face.

“I’ll take it.”

<center>* * *</center>

“So, what do you want me to do?”

“I just need you to introduce me. I’ll handle the rest.”

Alex nodded mutely and thumbed a pink packet of sugar substitute. Riannan had requested that he introduce her his coworker who had gone along with him to install the security feed at Liz’s base. He would have to get back inside as a means of finalizing their plan, and he imagined that Rian intended to tag along.

Anxiety seemed to have taken permanent residence inside of him ever since Liz had informed them that the preliminaries were to begin. That meant they’d soon be acting out the plan they had devised years ago, without the thought of ever having to go through it. They’d be risking their lives for a group of people they may or may not even know. And they’d be doing it soon.

“Do you eat her often?” Rian asked without lifting her gaze from the menu in her hand.

Alex made noncommittal sound in the base of his throat and then toyed with the straw poking from his tall glass of ice tea.

“Is the Sportsman’s Platter any good?” She went on to ask.

Her question finally registered through the thick haze of his thoughts, and Alex nodded lightly. “Yeah. It’s a big meal though.”

Rian clucked her tongue and then flipped the menu closed. “That’s all right. I’m starved,” She tossed the menu aside and leaned her arms on the table. “What are you getting?”

“Um,” He cleared his throat, and then leaned back in his chair. “I’m not really that hungry.”

He was always hungry, which was why he made such a good dinner partner. Rian needed someone to eat with who had the same veracious appetite. “Hey,” She whispered softly and narrowed an eye at him. “You okay?”

His green gaze lifted to peer into her eyes. He did his best to provide her with a convincing smile. “Yeah,” Alex murmured and scrubbed at his face tiredly with his hands. “This whole thing is just getting to me.”

Rian smiled sympathetically, and then gripped her hand in his. “Everything is going to be okay. I promise.”

Alex gave her a wry grin. “What? Can you read the future now, Kellar?”

She shook her head. “No, but I know I’d die before I let anything happen to you guys,” She answered honestly. And Alex believed her too, which made his world a whole lot scarier. “Have I ever let you down, Alex?”

Never. His throat was too constricted for him to answer, so he shook his head instead.

“Then trust me.” Rian leaned back in her chair and winked.

It had been her attempt to put his mind at ease. She had failed.

With a sigh, Alex sucked his drink through the straw to moisten his throat. Is graying hair normal at only twenty-eight? He could blame his friends for that.

“Sorry I’m late,” The apology game out breathlessly as Kate seated herself in the empty chair between Rian and Alex.

Alex perked in his chair and smiled at his friend. “It’s no problem. We haven’t even ordered yet,” He then looked at Rian, who seemed to be sizing Kate up with her gaze. “Kate, this is my friend Riannan Kellar. Riannan, this is my coworker Kate Marlow.”

Kate smiled congenially and extended her hand for a shake. “Pleased to meet you, Riannan.”

“You can call me Rian. In fact, I insist,” She joked and gripped the girl’s soft hand in her own. Instantly she made a connection. Rian had to work fast to acquire her DNA structure and release her hand before Kate suspected anything. Having the information stored in her brain, Rian then loosened her grip and allowed Kate’s hand to slip from her grasp. “Nice to meet you.”

Kate’s brows furrowed just slightly and she slowly retracted her hand. She smiled valiantly though, even though her hand still pulsed with an odd sensation of warmth. However, she had no other choice but to disregard it. So, she smiled happily at Alex and guest.

“So, what is everyone getting?”

<center>* * *</center>

Liz shut her office door behind her, and gave the knob a jiggle to ensure that it was locked. Satisfied, she then slung bag over her shoulder and began her trek down the deserted corridor. Today with Dr. Cornwell had been the same as every other day. Excruciatingly boring. In order to gain her brownie points, Liz had forced herself to “ooh” and “awe” over his exceptional knowledge of the field. She also had to be careful when throwing in her two cents; she didn’t want to appear as if she knew so much that she didn’t need him – which she did. No, instead, she wanted to act just hesitate and timid enough about expressing her observations to such a renowned scientist – renowned within her compound at least – that would earn her positive appraisal. Several times during their study that morning the doctor had chuckled and instructed her to not be so insecure. Liz had fought not to roll her eyes.

She had to get her way inside soon.

After waving goodbye to the security guard, Liz entered the elevator and quietly descended to the garage. Several other vehicles occupied the garage, for it was still early in the day and other workers hadn’t clocked out yet. Liz had opted to head home early. After all, she had completed her day’s work with Dr. Cornwell, and the paperwork could be documented just as easily at home as it would be in her office.

The truth of it was, Liz really wanted to get home so she could call the others, and learn how things were going thus far. It was just yesterday that she had ordered the preliminaries to be carried out, and it really wasn’t feasible for the average person to get done the list of things she had instructed them to in one day. But then again, she and her friends weren’t average people. Four very determined humans and one alien could get a lot more accomplished than your average person. As it was, even they hadn’t gotten much accomplish today, they still had time for she wasn’t any further in her own task than she would like.

Liz had just reached her car, keys in hand, when a voice from behind caused her to turn. Daniel Pierce stood behind her, looking tall and attractive in his black suit. His tie was loosened from his neck and the top button of his dress shirt was popped open to reveal a patch of his tanned skin. He took a step towards her, and she noted he was smiling broadly.

“Sir,” Liz forced a smile of her own and stepped away from her car. “I didn’t hear you approach.”

“No, you didn’t,” Daniel agreed. “You seemed rather deep in your thoughts.”

And she had been, but she didn’t want him to know that. “Yes, it’s been a long day.”

He didn’t say anything in response, but instead seemed to study her, his dark eyes taking in every nuance of her face. His eyes traveled up and down her body with obvious appraisal, and Liz had to keep the instinctive urge to shudder from happening. He unnerved her.

“You’ve lost weight.” He commented softly.

It was true. She hadn’t had much of appetite since he first presented her with her new case. The idea of what she may be dealing with had consumed her every thought, and she often forgot to eat. And when she did eat, it wasn’t healthy – ice cream, chips, and other junk food – so she had forced herself to exercise the extra calories off. She had lost probably close to seven pounds.

“You need to eat,” Daniel said when she had no response. He stepped closer to her still, and then gripped her arm loosely in his grasp. “Come. I’ll take you to a late lunch.”

She didn’t try to pull away or halt to a stop, but she did voice her reluctance. “I really need to get home. I’m expecting a phone call from some friends I haven’t seen in a long time.”

Daniel kept moving, however, and curled her arm into the loop of his. “They can leave a message,” He insisted. “And I can give you time off this week to see them if it comes to that. But right now, I want to take you out to eat.”

Liz opened her mouth to protest again, but never instinctively it would useless. Daniel Pierce was the type of man who got anything and everything he wanted. And at the moment, he wanted to have a bite to eat with her. She also suspected he wanted more than just that.

He was about to be severely disappointed.


Muriel’s is an expensive Italian restaurant just outside of Phoenix. The facility where she worked, and spent most of her time, was located thirty miles west of Phoenix and was smack dap in the middle of the desert – conveniently out of place.

During the car drive, Liz sat comfortably in the passenger’s seat of Pierce’s Lexus and engaged in idle chitchat. She did her best to appear to be struggling fatigue; she wanted this to be over with as quickly as possible.

When they entered the restaurant, the seating host smiled knowingly at Pierce and promptly led them to a secluded, corner table. Daniel had pulled out Liz’s chair before seating himself. Ever the gentlemen, he also ordered her wine and her meal.

Liz bit her tongue. It really irked her that he didn’t think her capable of ordering her own food. But Daniel was a man who took liberties, and he was definitely trying to take them with her.

As the waiter left, Daniel leaned forward in his seat and regarded her with his intense gaze. It was impossible for Liz to mistake the hunger and possession swirling in his eyes; it was impossible for Liz to feel comfortable while looking into them. So instead, Liz averted her gaze as she draped her cloth napkin over her lap.

“You’re a beautiful woman, Liz.”

Liz’s movement froze, her napkin unfolded and hanging from her fingers. Several moments passed as she struggled to keep her gaze averted, but finally she dropped her napkin onto her lap and met his gaze head on.

“Thank you, Sir, but –“

“Daniel.” He interjected.

“But I’d prefer if we kept our relationship strictly professional.” She might as well nip this in the bud.

The corner of his lips quirked and her arched a quizzical eyebrow. “Of course. Professional,” Liz gave him incredulous look upon his easy acceptance. She doubted he would go down without a fight, and was proven correct when he said, “Is that really what you want?”

She sighed. “Yes. That’s really what I want.”

Daniel sat back in his seat, his eyes never leaving hers, and that annoyingly arrogant smile still on his lips. He didn’t believe her that much was apparent. He honestly believed that he could convince her to indulge in a relationship with him. The idea was so preposterous that it made Liz’s blood boil.

“I have too much at stake to lose all that I’ve worked for within the facility.” Liz blurted. Even though she was certain that Daniel wouldn’t catch the underlying meaning of her words, she felt foolish for speaking them.

Daniel's head tilted to the side in consideration. “And you believe that by becoming involved with me you’ll lose all of that?”

“I know I will.”

Liz’s declaration caused him to be silent for several moments. Finally, he leaned forward into his seat and took his glass of water in hand. After he took a delicate sip, he replaced the glass to the table and returned his gaze to Liz’s.

“As I’ve told you before you are one of my best agents, Liz,” He reminded her again. “I would never do anything that would jeopardize your position at my facility. You are too much of an asset to the team.”

Despite the fact his statement was meant to reassure, Liz didn’t feel that way. Instead, she felt as if he were trying to persuade her into believing a relationship with him would work out and that they had nothing to lose. Liz wanted to call bullshit.

But instead of letting him know what she really thought, she said a quiet thank you, and took a sip of her own water.

“I reviewed your file again this evening,” Daniel opened a new topic of conversation. “You have amazing credentials. I find it hard to believe you’ve accomplished so much.”

That statement made her frown. “What exactly?” She asked, her tone taking on a slight incredulous edge.

“The Sibley case, for example.”

The Sibley case had been her last assignment with Jonaphan. A wistful smile came to her face as she thought of him. Glen Sibley was a renowned drug lord in the northern part of the state. For six months she and Jon had been tracking his every move, trying to find enough evidence to pull him down. They got it when they followed him to an abandoned warehouse where he was making a drug exchange. (Really now, aren’t these drug dealers getting any smarter? Warehouses are the first places the FEDs are gonna look.)

With backup on the way, and weapons drawn, she and Jon had stormed the building calling everything to a halt. Glen Sibley was a 6 foot 5, 310 pound man packing an Uzi. Liz had taken him down without so much as firing a single bullet.

Remembering that day, Liz frown deepened and she regarded James inquisitively. “Why is that so hard to believe?”

Daniel smiled and reached across the table to grasp her hand in his. Gently, he turned it over and stroked her wrist with his thumb. He smiled and stared unabashedly into her eyes as he said, “You have such a dainty wrist. Your bones are too delicate. It seems impossible for you to have taken down a man the size of Glen Sibley bare handed.”

It was going to be her hands that would snap his neck if he didn’t let go of her. “I’m a lot stronger than I appear, I suppose.” She settled for saying.

Slowly, he released her hand and sat back. “Apparently,” He agreed. Silence fell among the two for a brief moment, before Daniel shook his head just slightly. “You are always impressing me, Agent Parker.”

Liz did beam at this, for she now had an ego the size of Texas. “Thank you, Sir.”

“And Dr. Cornwell has had nothing but praises about you as well,” He went on. “The man holds you in high regard, and I value his opinion dearly.”

Her pulse began to race; maybe she was closer to being on the inside than she actually thought. “That’s a lovely compliment,” She finally commented after she was sure her voice wouldn’t shake. Too much was riding on this, she couldn’t blow it. “I’ve worked very hard to please him.”

“I’m sure you have. And in the process you have pleased me as well,” His eyes darkened just slightly, and he smiled. “Very much.”


That was the last he had spoken to her of her work. Liz had even tried to start it up again, to see if she were indeed any closer to earning his trust, but Daniel had smoothly redirected the conversation. So, Liz had given up, for now.

He drove her back to the compound and parked beside her car. As Liz slipped from the passenger seat, Daniel was rounding the hood of his car to meet her. She smiled sweetly and reached into her bag to retrieve her keys.

“Thank you for the early dinner, Sir. It was wonderful.”

Liz had just taken a step towards her car, when he grasped her arm – rougher than was his normal touch – and whirled her around to face him. His eyes held a wild, passionate gleam in them, and for a moment, Liz forgot to shield the fear from her eyes.

“How many times do I have to tell you my name is Daniel?” His voice was soft and calm, a complete contrast to the emotion swirling in his eyes.

Trapped and unsure of what else to do, Liz swallowed and made her correction. “Daniel.”

Daniel's hand came up to cup her cheek. It took everything she had to keep from shrinking away from his touch. “That’s better,” He murmured almost incoherently as he stroked the skin of her face. His eyes danced. “You have such soft skin.”

Slowly, his head began to descend upon her. He was going to kiss her, and she wouldn’t be able to pull away. Panic seized her, and her throat constricted, cutting off her air supply and the scream she desperately wanted to expel as his lips settled firmly over hers. She tensed, and his hands drifted down her back, his fingers working at her skin to ease the tension. Liz tried to relax. She tried to loosen her lips and unclench her teeth with much difficulty. Repulsion overtook her.

Finally, her mouth was pried open with the force of his tongue. The heat of his mouth overwhelmed her and Liz clenched her eyes shut, fearing the bile would rise into her mouth.

It seemed like an eternity, but finally he pulled away. Liz gasped for breath, her throat having finally relaxed. Her face felt flushed, undoubtedly from the lack of oxygen. And when she looked into his face, Daniel held a pleased expression.

Gently, he stroked her cheek with the pads of his fingers. “Goodbye, Elizabeth.” And without another word, he turned and left her.

It took a full minute before Liz had fully regained her bearings enough to turn and unlock her vehicle. Once she was safe inside, she folded her arms on her steering wheel, dropped her head, and allowed the shudders to coarse through her body.

<center>* * *</center>

Liz had just merged into highway traffic when her cell phone began to chirp. With one hand on the wheel, she used to her other to open the flap of her bag and delved her hand deep into the pocket. Her hand curled around the phone, and it vibrated with another tone. She pulled it out, accepted the call, and then mumbled a tired hello when she brought it to her ear.

Where are you?” It was Maria, and she sounded excited.

“I’m on my way home, why?” Liz glanced in the rearview mirror, before she switched lanes and pressed down on the accelerator to pass the car ahead of her.

I want you to come and check out the house I bought. It’s perfect. You’re going to love it.”

Maria’s obvious enthusiasm only served to make Liz tired. She sighed and wondered if she were up to the drive. It was four o’clock now. It would take her an hour to reach Safford, the city in which the others live, and then depending on how far away from the city Maria searched – as per Liz’s request – the time would just be added on. Not to mention that fact that her return trip home.

If she went, it didn’t look like she’d get back before nine o’clock. All she wanted to do is go home, shower off Daniel's grime, and go to bed early for work tomorrow.

…Daniel had said he’d give her time off this week, since he had all but forced her out to dinner with him.

“Yeah, I’ll be there,” Liz finally answered. “I’ll call the coordinator at work and tell them I’m taking tomorrow off.”

You don’t have to do that.”

“Yeah, I do. I need a break,” The tone in her voice told Maria there was more to it than just needing a break. She’d ask about it later. “Give me the directions.”

Maria hurriedly rattled off what road Liz would have to take after driving through Whitefield. “About a quarter mile, there will be a dirt road on the left. It’s unmarked, so you have to watch for it. I got lost plenty of times before I finally found it.” Maria explained. “It’s a long road, and the house is about three to five miles out. It’s the only one out there.

Liz passed the exit that would lead to her home. “Okay. That it?”

Yep. See ya soon.”

Liz said a quick good bye and then hung up. Her mind wandered back to what had happened just fifteen minutes earlier. Pierce. It had been the vilest experience in her life, and had left her weak and feeling broken and dirty. She hated him for it. He had no right. She hadn’t led him on, and had told him point blank that she had wanted nothing to do with him. Not verbatim, but any smart man would have gotten the hint.

Bastard.

Tears began to blur vision. Quickly, she pulled to the side of the road and closed her eyes. The tears kept building; she could feel them beneath her lids. After taking a few deep breaths, Liz opened her eyes. The tears were gone.

As she finally pulled back on the road, Liz thought that she hadn’t cried in years. And she wouldn’t be starting now.

<center>* * *</center>

“So, what do you think?”

Liz glanced briefly at Maria and stepped further into the house. After a rather frightening experience with the front porch, she was grateful for firm floorboards to be beneath her feet. Rian, Alex, and Kyle followed her from behind, all feeling the same apprehension as she.

“This place is a dump.” Kyle commented unceremoniously. “How much did you say you paid for this again?”

“It could a little work, sure,” Maria evaded his question, and wrung her hands nervously. “But it’s just on the outside. Everything inside is in top condition,” She wondered how Harvey must have felt trying to sell the house to her. Was it anything like what she was feeling now? “And besides, we don’t really have to work on the outside. We don’t want to draw attention to house or the occupants inside, so we could just leave it as it is.”

“This house sticks out like a sore thumb,” Liz said softly, gently as to not hurt her friend’s feeling. “It would be just as noticeable as a lavish house. We’ll definitely have to work on it. Especially that porch.”

“It’s not so bad,” Rian said as she leaned over the threshold of the front door – careful to keep all her appendages on the firm floor inside the house – and peered down at the boards of the porch. “We can fix that in no time.”

“The shingles need to be replaced too,” Alex chimed. “I noticed it when I pulled up. And the shutters need to be replaced. And she needs to be repainted.”

“All in all, Maria,” Kyle began and clapped her on the back. “You picked a real winner.”

Maria scratched her nose; making it sure Kyle noted that she was using her middle finger. He grinned at her.

“It’s not all that bad, Maria,” Liz finally added. “You could have done worse.”

“Will you guys just look at the rest of the house before you decide to totally hate it?” Maria pleaded.

“Too late.”

Rian rolled her eyes and brushed past Kyle. “Shut up, Valenti. And quit being a prick.” Her short russet locks bounced as she walked briskly down the hallway. The kitchen opened up on the right, and Rian stepped inside.

It was spacious with plenty of room to maneuver around. The dining room was partitioned off from the kitchen, which left little room to move around within the dining room. The wall would definitely have to be torn down.

“This wall has to go,” Rian commented once Maria and the others entered. “There really isn’t enough room to fit a lot of people in there to eat.”

“How many people are you thinking are going to be eating here at one time?” Kyle questioned.

Rian shrugged. “I was thinking we could make a career out of this. You know, busting out fugitive aliens and stowing them away in this little house. Of course, we’ll have to add on eventually.”

“What she means is,” Liz intervened as she surveyed the kitchen. “If it is them, then there needs to be enough room for all of us to eat here. We can’t keep them in solitude forever. When it’s safe, we’ll be frequent visitors.”

Maria couldn’t contain herself any longer. “Guys, come into the living room, you have to see the best part.”

They all followed her. When they reached the living room, they stared dumbfounded at nothing. The room was completely bare. It was large, which was good. Was that what she had had in mind?

“What exactly are we looking at?” Alex asked curiously.

Maria smiled and reached into her purse to pull out the flashlight that she had grabbed from her glove compartment. Then, she walked across the room to the corner Harvey had showed her. With great difficulty, she pried up the lid to the cellar and stepped to the side.

“It’s a cellar.” Maria explained.

Everyone remained still for a moment, and then they all approached her in a frenzy. Liz was the first to reach her side, and gently took the flashlight from her hand. She flipped it on, and pointed the beam into the darkness. The brown of the dirt floor was all she could see. Intrigued, she crouched down and shone the light further into the cellar, but it was too deep for her to see much else without actually going inside. Making up her mind, Liz sat down with her legs dangling over the edge, and then pushed herself through.

When her feet met bottom, Liz shone the light all around her. Now, she could see the gray stone of the walls. The space down here was unlimited, and so many possibilities began to form their way inside her mind.

She straightened and the opening of the cellar was a good foot above her head. Liz looked up into the faces of her friends’ peering down at her.

“What do you see?” Kyle asked as he crouched and prepared to join her.

Liz stepped out of the way and did a slow circle. “Nothing. It’s absolutely empty.” Kyle jumped in and stood at her side, following the beam of light with his eyes. Still nothing. Next she shone the flashlight above her, searching for any overhead light fixtures. She found a socket for a light bulb, so that was promising.

The soft thud of two more sets of feet hitting the ground followed. Alex and Rian joined, while Maria opted to stay above. She didn’t want to risk breaking an ankle in her stiletto heels.

“How exactly is this the best part?” Kyle questioned. “There’s nothing here. I was hoping for something cool. Like a treasure map.”

Rian on the other hand, knew exactly what Maria had in mind and looked at Liz. The glint in Liz’s eyes told her she knew as well.

“You can hear the hollow echo when you walk over the floor,” Rian pointed out. “You couldn’t hear it anywhere else.”

Liz nodded, taking that into consideration. Alex glanced between the two girls wondering what they were talking about. And then slowly, it dawned on him.

“Carpet. It’ll muffle the noise some,” He said, and lifted a hand to brush his fingers along the hardwood overhead. “And when we can pad this. It should help.”

Liz smiled, her excitement mounting. She walked towards him and shined the light against the long expanse of the brick wall. “Do you think you can wire up a security wall?”

Alex frowned and took the flashlight from her hand and approached the wall. He crouched down and surveyed the bottom portion, his brows furrowing deeper. It would be difficult to wire though bricks; he wasn’t sure he could pull it off.

He stood then and looked at Liz. “If not, then new can push the wires through the floor and connect them from upstairs. They can be covered by rugs or carpet, or even furniture.”

“I am so confused,” Kyle commented with a frown. “Can someone please tell me what’s going on?”

“This was used to hide runaway slaves,” Maria said from above. A smile was now spread across her face. The house was being accepted. “We can use this to hide the aliens if the FBI decides to search houses in this area.”

And like a light bulb switching on over his head, Kyle got it. “Oooh,” He smiled. “Cool!”

Liz agreed with a laugh and then peered up at the opening in the floor. “We’ll need a ladder to get in and out,” She then looked sheepish at the others. “I’m too short to get out on my own.”

Kyle had to climb out first and then pull her up. After everyone had returned from the cellar and the lid was closed, Maria was congratulated. Kyle slung an arm over her shoulder and gave her a squeeze. “Like I said, you picked a real winner.”




TBC. =)

Thanks again for the wonderful feedback. =)

Raychel
Last edited by Raychelxluscious on Sun Apr 10, 2005 1:12 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Roswell, New Mexico S1 Watch Party

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Raychelxluscious
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Post by Raychelxluscious » Sun Mar 20, 2005 12:57 am

Okay, kids! Here’s the new part! But first, I want to answer any questions and say plenty of thank yous. ;)

First off, thank you very much to Kaela, my awesuper beta. =) She’s ever so helpful, and without her, you folks wouldn’t have this part. ;)

behrlyliz wrote: Thanks for an amazing part. I can't wait for more. Please post more soon.

Also, Daniel isn't setting Liz up, is he or is he genuinely interested in her?


I can honestly say that Daniel is interested in her. There’s nothing malicious in his attempts to seduce (unless you consider the seduction scheme itself malicious. ;))
YonkersMe wrote: I was worried that Pierce is some sort of enemy alien and was looking for flashes, OR that he's going to go inside and test saliva, or something, to see if Liz is alien. Which could prove tricky.


Wow. That’s a really interesting speculation, and I wish I had thought of that! LOL. But no, that’s not the case. Pierce is one hundred percent human – eh, sorta. He’s kind of a monster, but that doesn’t really count. ;)

VivaLasVegas wrote: Oh...sorry! Sofia's been hanging out with me for awhile...needed some help on my English essay. Anyway, I'm done with the essay, you can have her back.


*sigh * Well, thank you very much. I’m glad she was of some help to you. :roll: She’s a little ho-bag and whores around a lot. I really need to get someone to whip her into shape. Muse Boot Camp is in order. ;)
coley452 wrote: Raych, Raych, Raych... tisk, tisk, didn't we have a discussion about that abusive muse of yours?

*nods solemnly* Yessum, we did. But you don’t understand! She’s so much BIGGER than me! And she’s quite scary. I can’t stand up to her, I can’t! ;)

True Destiny 666 wrote: Raychel do I have to give you a lecture? Cuz if you want one I will give you one.....::tapping foot waiting impationly:: where are you missy your in big trouble be looking out for my lecture if the new part is not back here soon understand? ok im gald we have an understanding


LOL! No, ma’am, you don’t have to give me a lecture. I read you loud and clear. ;) I hope this part will suffice.
A Rose Is True Blue wrote: Hey Raychel, girlie! How's it going? Well, I finally clicked the link in your sig to read your fic, and you know what? I'm in love with it. I kid you not.

I love that Liz, Maria, Kyle and Alex are all these successful people. I love Liz's dogs; Mulder and Scully. I love Riannan (which is weird because I usually don't like OCs). I love that Liz is in the Special Unit. And I love the crappy house that they bought.

I can't wait for you to write more of this.


Aww! Thanks, hon! =) I’m glad you find it worth it. lol. I’m so insecure about this fic, especially these parts because we’re not where I want to be! :roll: But thank you again. ;) Love ya!
LittleHottie510 wrote: Love ya bunches... and I LOVE corrupting you! Its my fave past time! *hehe* Ok, I got a list of things to get accomplished, wish me luck! *lol* Hurry back, sweetness!!! *Kisses*


Errgh! :roll: SPEAKING OF WHICH! I have to tell you of another instance where your corruption on me has come into play. You will find it quite amusing – which it’s NOT – because Tanya did. Oh, yes, we had a good laugh over it. I’m sure you’ll be quite proud of yourself. ;)



Okay, and finally…If any of you have read Kaela’s little note, then you’ll know that I’ve been nominated for several awards. =) Yay!! I’m just going to take a sec to update it, and give my thanks. =)

Favorite Original Character
A Rose Is True Blue
Norma Bates
Coley452
LittleHottie510


Favorite Newcomer
A Rose Is True Blue
Behrsgirl77
Kaela
LittleHottie510


Best Conventional Couple Fanfic
A Rose Is True Blue

*sigh * I appreciate all of your nominations! =) It was a pleasant surprise! It makes me feel so special, and helps me to realize that writing this has been worthwhile. I am ESPECIALLY proud of the Favorite Original Character nominations, because I love my Riannan. =) She’s so special to me, and to find that you all like her as well just makes me beam! So thank you all. I really do appreciate your noms, and I’ll be sure to thank and update the noms accordingly. ;)


Thanks again for the tremendous feedback – all of you! =) You guys rock!

Disclaimer: Yeah, so I know my "quotes" are all out of whack. What the heck is up with that anywho? Did I do something wrong?

Haha! Fixed it! (If you're gonna quote someone, don't type it in word, it changes EVERYTHING. ;) Thanks, Nichole. =))



<center>Part Seven</center>


The next few days were a blur for the friends. The group – excluding Liz, for she had other means to take care of – would meet daily to help in the renovations of the safe house Maria had purchased.

The location the house was excellent. Far enough from Liz’s work place that it wouldn’t be the first place the FBI would look when the aliens are removed. But close enough to Safford that Riannan, Kyle, Maria, and Alex would be able to reach them if necessary.

What lumber had been left behind in the tool shed in the back yard was used to repair part of the dangerous front porch. The rest had to be ordered and would be picked up by Rian and Maria, along with fresh paint and rolls of carpeting.

Alex had spent almost his entire day off from work, sitting precariously on the slope of the roof, replacing shingle after shingle. While Kyle remained sure-footed on the ground, nailing on new black shutters. The house was slowly beginning to look younger. Years were washed from the siding with a strong hose and a lot of elbow grease, and soon a fresh coat would adorn the siding. By the time the tentative date of the house’s completion would roll around, it is expected that the mission would go fully underway.

It was an unnerving prospect. And because it was so unnerving, the group had silently agreed to speak as little of it as possible.

Kyle surveyed the inside of the house, his eyes automatically scanning for quick means of escape. The cellar would be an excellent source of hiding, but they couldn’t rely solely on cowering beneath the floor panes. The Agents would be desperate, and if they suspected the house to be filled with aliens, they’ll tear it to pieces looking for clues. Eventually, the hatch in the floor may be discovered. What then?

The tool shed in the back was large enough to hold an all terrain vehicle. Maybe a small SUV with seating enough for seven – eight if they squeezed. Kyle imagined the vehicle being secretly stowed inside, and being used in a time of emergency.

But how would they get from the cellar to the tool shed without being detected by agents looming above?

“I suppose we could dig a tunnel of sorts from the cellar floor out to open up into the tool shed,” Alex suggested when Kyle had come to him with this idea of the shed. He wiped sweat from his brow, and squinted through the sun’s rays to study the wooden shed. “Can we pull that off?”

Kyle crossed his arms, the cuffs of his short sleeve shirt stretching to accommodate the bulges of his biceps. “It seems a little far fetched, doesn’t it?” He asked, and glanced warily at his friend. Sweat poured down both their faces from the heat and the day’s labors. “It doesn’t seem possible. Especially in such a short time.”

Alex nodded in agreement. It was a good idea though. If there was even a slight possibility that the cellar could be discovered then they needed a plan B. It would be ridiculous for them to have done all this work and have it fail. “Well, you and I can’t do it. But maybe Rian can.”

Rian could do anything with a twitch of her nose. Surely she could blast some dirt with a flick of her wrist. Kyle grinned and clapped Alex hard on the back. “Good thinking buddy.”

Alex’s smile came as more of a grimace as he felt the sting of his friend’s manly, congratulatory gesture.

A few moments later, the girls came rolling up the dirt drive in Kyle’s Ford Pickup. Two hours ago, Rian and Maria had gone into the city to pick up the paint, carpeting, and new lumber from hardware stores. Maria jumped from the passenger seat, dressed in a pair of cut off jean shorts and a bright red tank top. Her blonde hair was pulled back into a tight ponytail, and a red bandana shielded her head from the sun. Dangling in her hand was a blue cooler, which immediately garnered Kyle and Alex’s attention.

“Please tell me there’s a Heineken in there.” Kyle pleaded as he took a hopeful step towards Maria.

Maria only smiled and handed the cooler over. Kyle promptly pulled back the lid and dipped his hand into the chilling ice. He pulled out two green bottles and smiled gratefully at his friend. “You’re a goddess.” He complimented and handed a bottle to Alex.

“I know this.” Maria smiled. Then, she turned and had to lift a hand to her brow to ward of the sun and be able to see the house. It was looking better and better everyday, and once again she congratulated herself on a job well done. She was a goddess.

“She’s looking pretty, isn’t she?” Alex commented after he took a swig, and sighed deeply. “Damn, we’re good.”

“I know,” Kyle agreed. “You know, I’ve been thinking, after we’re done saving aliens and the world and stuff, maybe we could retire and go into buying and repairing old houses. We could sell them and become rich.”

“We can become rich by staying on Rian’s good graces.” Alex pointed out. Rian had the envied ability to turn one-dollar bills into a hundred dollar bill. Which would come in handy later if they ran out of money with paying for the renovations. They still needed to purchase furniture, clothing, and eventually groceries for it was undetermined how long the aliens would remain in hiding.

“You guys can get on my good graces now, by quit standing around with your thumbs up your asses and help me,” Rian grunted as she walked past them with an armful of lumber. “Otherwise, I’m gonna turn all your cash into counterfeit and arrest your asses for fraud.”

Her threat didn’t serve as much motivation, for Kyle and Alex took another dainty sip from their beers. Maria was the only one who appeared slightly worried, and she headed to the back of the truck to grab the paint.

When Rian returned from dumping the lumber on the porch, Kyle and Alex were still in their original positions. She stopped in front of them, and crossed her arms over her torso. Due to her towering height, Kyle had to look up at her, while Alex only had to dip his chin a smidge.

“You guys gonna help or what?” She asked, her brows furrowed and her eyes menacing.

“Hey, my last name’s Valenti,” Kyle pointed out lazily. “Which means: Very awesome, likes excuses not to interact.”

Rian’s eyes narrowed. “Yeah, well, my last name’s Kellar. Which means: Kicks egotistical little limpdick asses regularly.”

Alex paled and set down his beer. “My last name’s Whitman,” He glanced at Kyle. “Which means, I know when to get back to work.” Without another word he left the duo to grab the carpeting and take inside.

“Kellar, Kellar,” Kyle tisked. “Babe, you know I love you.” He grinned, and looped his arm around her slender waist and walked with her to the truck.

“And you know I can and will kick your ass, Valenti,” Rian was obviously in no mood to joke around. “Now pick up pace and let’s get this place fixed.” She dislodged herself from his embrace and marched to the truck.

Kyle scowled at her disposition – for Rian was one of the most laid back people he’d every met - for a moment and then jogged after her. She had crawled into the bed of the truck to reach the cans of paint in the corner. As she walked back, Kyle regarded her curiously.

“Okay, what’s wrong?” He questioned, his gaze tender. And when she jumped out of the truck, he closed the latch. However, when she went to walk by him, he reached out and grabbed her arm to stop her. “Rian?”

“Nothing’s wrong, Kyle,” She said, but her turquoise eyes said differently. “Why would there be anything wrong?”

“I don’t know,” He said slowly, and squeezed her arm when she tried to by pass him again – just to let her know he wasn’t through. “But the fact remains that there is something wrong, and you’re trying to keep it from me.”

Rian rolled her eyes and then fixed him with an impatient glare. “If I told you it was menstrual, would you leave me the hell alone?”

Momentarily stunned, Kyle almost let loose of his grip on her arm. If it were menstrual then he would most definitely leave her alone. She was hell to be around when she was on the rag. But something told him it was only meant to be an excuse.

“Sure,” He finally answered, and nodded for emphasis. “If I believed you.”

With a groan, Rian jerked her arm from his grasp and turned to walk back towards the house. “Ah, screw, Kyle. Why can’t you leave things alone?”

“Because you don’t leave things alone when you know something’s bother me, or Maria, or Alex, or Liz,” He answered once he reached her side again. “So, why should I?”

“Because I don’t want to talk about it?” She replied, and tossed him a terse glare. “Seems like a good enough reason for me.”

“Why don’t you want to talk about it?” He pressed, and then reached out to stop her once more. This time when he grabbed her arm, he whirled her around to face him. “What happened?” Kyle searched her gaze imploringly. “Is it Liz?”

Rian sighed, and scrubbed her face with her free hand. “No, it’s not Liz. Not directly, anyway. It’s –“ She paused, and then swore under her breath. When she finally looked at him again, she was evidently pissed. “Damn it, Kyle! I said I didn’t want to talk about it!”

“I know, but you need to,” He insisted quietly, undeterred by her mood, and his gaze held the concern he felt for her. “Now, what about Liz?”

She was silent for several minutes. Her eyes stared over his shoulder and into the horizon as she sought for the answers in her head. A breeze was beginning to pick up and freed some of her shoulder length auburn hair from her ponytail and they danced gracefully by her cheeks.

Normally, Rian kept her expression stoic. She never let things bother her, and everyone passed it off as being that nothing could bother her. Rian was an alien through and through. She’s completely different from her friends, and doesn’t share in their emotions. But the troubled look in her eyes told Kyle that she was feeling something. And he wasn’t about to let her keep it inside.

Kyle opened his mouth to press again, when she finally sighed. “It’s not just Liz. It’s all of you.”

Kyle’s brows furrowed together in confusion. “What do you mean? What did we do?”

Rian lightly shook her head. “Nothing. I mean, I don’t know,” She groaned again and rolled her eyes skyward, obviously embarrassed by her inability to get the words out. There was another emotion she didn’t know she had. When her gaze once again flitted back to Kyle’s, her eyes were wary. “You guys are putting yourself on the line, endangering your lives without knowing who it is you’re doing it for. Suddenly, it just doesn’t seem worth it anymore.”

Still confused, Kyle took a tiny step towards her. “What are you getting at?”

“We don’t know if it’s them. Max, Tess, Michael, and Isabel. We’ll have no idea until Liz gets a look at the specimens if it’s really them. And what if they’re not? What if it’s just some other group of beings that have no tie to you – emotional or otherwise? Why are you risking your lives for them?”

Kyle finally nodded his head in understanding. Just the end of last week Rian had wanted desperately for the rescue mission to still be in effect. Just because there was a possibility the specimens weren’t who they were hoping for didn’t mean they shouldn’t try to help anyway. She hadn’t said as much, but Kyle hadn’t definitely seen the longing in her eyes. If her people were trapped inside, then she wanted them out. She wanted them to experience the kind of life that she has thus far, with people who were compassionate and understanding.

But now she was beginning to see the risks. Rian didn’t want to put her friends in harms way if it had nothing to do with them.

“Riannan, even if it’s not them, it’ll still be worth it,” Kyle whispered truthfully. He’d admit, at first he hadn’t been too keen on the idea of rescuing a group of aliens who he’d never met. But by knowing Rian, having known Tess and the others, he didn’t think they deserved the kind of life they’re living in the clutches of the Special Unit. “And they do have a tie to us. They are your people – whether you’ve ever known them personally or not – they share your blood. And that’s how they are tied to us. It’s going to be worth it, Rian. We know it.”

She stared at him for a long time, unable to say anything in response. Finally, she gave him a small smile, and then turned to step onto the porch and enter the house. Kyle followed, that small smile having been enough for him.

Maria and Alex were in the living room, arguing over what color paint the walls should be when Rian and Kyle entered. Alex and Maria gave the duo a courtesy glance before returning to their argument.

“Rock, paper, scissors,” Maria demanded and held out a fist, her green eyes ablaze. “We’ll decide that way.”

Alex rolled his eyes. “That is the most ridiculous way to solve this petty argument,” But when she started to tap her fist into her palm, uttering “rock, paper, scissors” he quickly thrust his fist out just in time to declare, “Rock!”

Maria grinned down at their hands in satisfaction. “Paper covers rock, I win. Fuchsia it is.”

“But rock busts through paper,” Alex argued, but only earned an eye roll, for obviously Maria wasn’t going to budge an inch. So instead, he stomped his foot on the ground and exclaimed, “I don’t want Fuchsia!”

“Well, you don’t have to live here, so get over it!” Maria insisted and bent to open the can of paint with a screwdriver. “There is nothing wrong with Fuchsia.”

“It’s girly,” Alex explained and crossed his arms. If it was going to be Fuchsia, then he wasn’t going to help. “Fine, do it by yourself then.”

Maria simply shrugged and applied the paint-coated brush to the nearest wall. She beamed. “It’s so pretty.”

Alex stuck his tongue out at her turned head and then marched across the room. Kyle and Rian stood in the archway of the living room, looking amused. “Girls are stupid.” Alex muttered and went outside to work on the porch.

Kyle shook his head and walked up to Maria. He picked up a brush and helped with the painting. “What color did Alex want?” He asked casually, and tilted his head to regard the new color on the wall

“Pink.”

<center>* * *</center>

Liz tiredly shrugged out of her lab coat and hung it on the coat rack in the corner of the lab. Dr. Cornwell was still bent over yet another microscope, which caused Liz to roll her eyes. He had said they were finished for the day after all. Why was he still gawking at the same sample they’ve been studying for almost a week? Was he trying to make her look bad?

“I’m on my way out, Philip,” She called from across the room, too tired to worry about her impression. “Is there anything left you need me to do?”

He waved her off distractedly. “No, I’m fine, thank you,” He lifted his head long enough to smile sweetly at her and say, “Have a nice evening, dear.”

“Thank you. I’ll see you on Monday.” And with that, she exited the lab.

Once the door closed behind her, Liz stifled a yawn and walked towards the elevator. She didn’t know how much longer she could deal with that man. He was slowly driving her crazy. Dr. Philip Cornwell was obviously psychotic, just like everyone else who worked here, and she was going to take great pleasure and seeing he got what he deserved. The doors to the elevator slid open, and she stepped inside.

The more time that passed, the more anxious she began to feel. She wanted to act – now. Years of planning for this moment left her with the yearning for it to begin. Everything was pretty much underway. The house would be completely renovated soon. By next week, she would be able to get Alex and Rian in the compound to tag the cameras with a bug that would feed all imagery to the utility van. Kyle had a hummer, which would be serve as the getaway car, at his disposal. All preliminaries were going according to plan.

Liz’s stomach rumbled once again reminding her that she hadn’t eaten. It used to be that she was so busy during the days that she forgot to eat. Now she purposely starved herself, for every time she even thought of food, she thought of Daniel and that afternoon he had taken her out. Her stomach would revolt every time.

It was possible that she wanted to kill Daniel Pierce more than she wanted to rescue the specimens being tortured inside the compound.

But that would have to wait. She didn’t doubt that Pierce would die, just not yet. She would have him killed off, one way or another so that there would no longer be a Head for the Special Unit. There would no longer be a Daniel Pierce to roam the Earth.

The elevator doors opened once again, and Liz stepped off and headed down the hallway that would lead her to the office. She didn’t intend to stay and do the paperwork in her office tonight either. She planned on heading to Safford and checking out the safe house’s progress, and maybe indulge in a few stress free hours with her friends. A couple of beers and tunes at Sid’s sounded delightful.

Liz swung the door to her office open, and stopped dead in tracks.

Lounging in the chair at her desk was the one and only Daniel Pierce. Sitting before her, he looked utterly relaxed. His fingers were laced together and rested high on his torso. Dark eyes regarded her with a speculative gleam. The corners of his mouth were quirked into what could only be described as a smile.

“Liz,” He said her name a bit breathily. “I’ve been waiting for you.”

Though his presence unnerved her, Liz refused to let it show. Instead, she walked to her desk and picked up her laptop. There was nothing in the hard drive that would be of interest to him, but that didn’t mean she wanted him near her personal things. She didn’t want him near her person let alone her personal belongings.

“Oh?” She said in response to his previous statement. “May I ask why?”

Daniel stood from the chair, and braced his hands on the desk. He leaned into her, his body crossing over the desk, his face a mere breath from hers. “I wanted to take you to dinner again.”

Fearful that she may vomit on him at the very thought, Liz whirled away and made a show of stuffing her laptop into her bag. “I can’t tonight,” She vaguely replied. “But I appreciate the invitation.”

He was behind her before she even realized it. She hadn’t heard him move, and normally she heard everything. “But we had such a wonderful time the other night.” Daniel insisted, and tucked a few wisps of hair behind the shell of her ear.

“Of course,” Liz lied, and stepped away from him. This time, she put the desk between them as she tidied things up. She stuffed papers in drawers, picked up paper clips, anything to keep her hands busy and from curling around his neck in a squeezing grip. “But I really can’t tonight.”

Not deterred, he shrugged. “Tomorrow then. It’s your day off, yes?”

Liz nodded. “But I’ll still be very busy,” She explained. “I have errands to run, bills to pay. I need to go grocery shopping,” She gave an eye roll, feigning annoyance at all the things she needed to accomplish on the day she was to relax. “And by the time that’s all finished, I’ll be so tired that I won’t be much fun anyway.” There. She nipped the thought of a later date right in the bud.

Instead of admitting defeat, however, Daniel narrowed his gaze playfully at her. “Why do I get the feeling that you’re trying to avoid me, Ms. Parker?”

Liz arched an incredulous eyebrow, instead of saying what she really thought. “I don’t have the faintest idea.”

Her answer roused a chuckle from him, and he rounded the desk to be at her side. Liz resisted the urge to back away. He was too close, and she wanted to distance herself from him. Whenever he was around, she felt such anger and violence, but at the same time she felt meek and helpless. She didn’t like it a bit.

“Oh, I think you do, Liz,” Daniel grinned and traced the curve of her cheek with his index finger. “What are you so afraid of?”

Liz took a deep breath to keep from connecting his jaw with her fist, and took a determined step away from him. “I thought we agreed to keep things professional between us, Sir.” She said deliberately.

Her blatant deviance at using his given name caused a grin to break across his face. “But I don’t think that’s possible, Liz,” Daniel murmured and met her retreat with an advancing step. “The attraction between us is too strong.”

“I told you, I have too much at risk.” She tried again, and swallowed so hard her throat ached.

“I know,” He murmured softly, and thumbed her bottom lip. His eyes transfixed. “But you really have nothing to worry about. You’re too important to our team. I refuse to lose you.” Daniel didn’t allow Liz to miss the double meaning of his statement.

Liz curled her hands into fists at her sides. Her nails dug painfully into the flesh of her palms. “I have to be leaving.” She forced out the words as his lips slowly began to descend upon hers.

Her statement stopped him, just a fraction from the union of their lips. His dark eyes stared unabashedly into hers, revealing the passion and desire swimming within them. Then, he smiled and pressed his lips to the flesh at the corner of her mouth. The kiss was quick, but just as painfully unbearable as the first had been.

When he stepped away, Liz made her way to the door. Every step controlled and stiff as she fought to keep from running. He halted her at the doorway with her name on his lips.

She turned her head just slightly to regard him. “You might as well stop trying to fight me, Liz,” He said slowly, deliberately. “It’s a war you won’t win.” Liz in no way acknowledged his threat, and instead opened her door and stepped out.

Once she reached her car and pealed out of the garage, she allowed the quakes to happen. It was safe inside the privacy of her vehicle. No one could see her as she was now – for she didn’t want anyone to. She didn’t want her friends to see just how fragile she had the tendency to be, or how broken she still was. She was strong, and no one knew differently.

Most of all, she didn’t want anyone to know just how much fear Daniel Pierce evoked within her. Liz Parker wasn’t afraid of anything – at least that’s the façade she had to continue to put up.

As she merged into highway traffic, she didn’t notice the black sedan parked at the side of the road. And she didn’t notice it reenter traffic just behind her.

<center>* * *</center>

He was sure to stay several cars behind her, carefully undetected. If he knew Liz Parker, which he did, he’d realize that she frequently checked her mirrors for anything suspicious, like tailing cars. It was a habit for all agents, Liz included.

She signaled her car for the exit that would lead to her home. The road didn’t have many residences, and normally wasn’t used for thru traffic. He continued to follow, but kept a safe distance behind. There was another street that he could turn off to without rousing suspicion in Liz. As he drove past her house, she had already exited her vehicle and was opening the door to her home. Her car was still running.

Obviously, she didn’t expect to stay home for long.

He kept driving. He hadn’t expected her to go straight home. She had left this morning carrying a duffel bag, which she had stowed in her trunk. It occurred to him that she didn’t plan on returning home tonight. Did she need to pick up something before she left again?

And then he remembered Mulder and Scully. Liz would have to be sure they were fed if she meant to stay out longer than usual.

He pulled into a gas station and parked. The road could be easily seen from where he had positioned himself, and with that he could see Liz drive past – which he was sure she would. He had taken strict notes of her driving patterns, and knew this would be the road she’d take to leave the town, whether to go to the local dairy mart, or someplace else. He had staked her house long enough to know her better than most.

Staking out her house had been no easy task. She was literally in the middle of nowhere, with no trees or brush to hide behind – just dirt - so it had been difficult for him to watch undetected. He knew her by habit, however, and drove by her house in an inconspicuous dry cleaning van at approximately seven o’clock – just in time to see her step outside the door. From there he had quickly switched vehicles and caught up with her on the freeway.

”I want her under strict surveillance.”
His supervisor had instructed him, and then dropped the black and white photos on his desk. ”Our inside man got camera footage of these two.”

Stilled images of Liz wrapped in Daniel Pierce’s embrace, indulging in a heated kiss had stared back at him. ”We know now that she’s involved. Pierce has her just where he wants her. She has to know something, and I want you to keep track of her until you know it too…you’re being relocated to Arizona, Agent Calder.”

And so Jonaphan left his ranch in Montana – his salvation – and journeyed to the desert plains of Arizona to spy on his one time partner. Liz had the answers, and his mission was to get them.

<center>* * *</center>

Painting the living room had taken less time than had been expected. Which really shouldn’t have been all that surprising when you had an alien as a friend who could paint an entire wall with a touch of her hand. The room had been finished in .2 seconds.

Rian was then asked if she’d be able to blast a tunnel through the wall in the cellar that could lead underground to the shed. She had shrugged, and said it shouldn’t be a problem, and then painted the entire siding of the house a fresh white. All in all, it was pretty cool to have an alien on your side.

The porch was now almost completely finished (for whatever reason, Rian couldn’t muster the motivation to help with that). The sun had set, and after a few thumbs mistaken has nails, Alex and Kyle decided it was best to finish that particular project later, when there was more light. The partition separating kitchen and dining room and had been torn down, and now the two rooms were joined together to create a spacious establishment.

It’s where the four friends sat now. Cartons of Chinese food and bottles of beer littered the apple shaped tiled floor. Rian, Kyle, Maria, and Alex all sat in each other’s company enjoying dinner and concocting what was to be the ending product of the house in their minds. Sitting together in companionable silence, was how Liz found them when she entered the kitchen.

“Well, look who showed up,” Alex grinned and tipped the bottle back for another drink. “You’re a little late, Liz, we just finished up for the day.”

Liz shrugged, a smile playing on her lips. “You guys have done a great job so far,” She commented, having already surveyed the house before entering the kitchen. “You really didn’t need me.”

“Thank you,” Maria beamed happily. “Have a seat. Eat some Chinese.”

Liz grimaced and shook her head, her stomach rumbling in protest even as she denied. “Nah,” She did crouch down, though, and smiled eagerly at her friends. “You guys want to go to Sid’s for a couple of beers?” She then tipped one empty bottle to it’s side and laughed. “Or are you guys already shit faced?”

Rian raised her hand. “I’m up for Sid’s, not the beer though.” Just like the other aliens, she had a low tolerance for alcohol. She and the others and learned that the hard way.

“We haven’t been to Sid’s – together – in a long time,” Maria pointed out. It was about time that Liz was making the effort to hang out with them again. The past several months she’s buried herself in her work. Liz was sorely missed. “Yeah, I wanna go.”

“What about the dogs?” Kyle asked, and gave her an appalled look. “Are you just going to leave them alone for hours?”

Liz rolled her eyes. “I stopped by and said hello before I left. I gave them fresh food. They should be fine for the night.”

“Well, what if they have to go potty?”

“They can use the doggy door.”

“You have a doggy door?” Kyle’s eyebrows rose. He hadn’t known that.

“Yep. At the back door, but they have to press a little button. It’s kind of like a doggy garage door.”

A huge smile broke across Kyle’s face, and an image of the tiny door rising open popped into his mind. “That’s super!”

Rian wrapped an arm around Kyle’s shoulders. “Kyle is shit faced, however. Maybe he should stay behind,” She suggested only half jokingly. “I don’t feel like babysitting again.”

“What do you mean, again?” Kyle asked indignantly and shoved Rian away from him. He didn’t like the fact she was now laughing, and he narrowed his eyes at her. “When have I ever needed a baby sitter?”

Alex grinned, and eyed Rian. “I seem to recall last New Year’s Eve. That was quite a night wasn’t it, Rian?”

Rian couldn’t help the smile that stretched across her face. “Quite,” She then turned her head to Maria, and regarded her curiously. “Did you get Kyle getting his ass kicked by a transvestite on tape?”

Kyle gasped and turned an astonished look onto Maria. She sat with chopsticks holding but a single grain of rice poised in front of her gaping mouth, and eyed her friends before her mildly wondering how she had gotten dragged into this.

“You didn’t!” Kyle squeaked out. “Maria?”

“What?” She asked, silently cursing her friends for getting her involved. Finally, Maria rolled her eyes and set down her chopsticks. “Kyle, they’re pulling your leg. No one saw you get your ass kicked by a drag queen.”

“I didn’t get my ass kicked!” He exploded violently, while Rian and Alex collapsed against each other in a fit of giggles.

Liz shook her head, and fought hard to suppress her own laughter. “So, I’m guessing that Sid’s is out?”


But Sid’s was most definitely in. After they finally got Kyle calmed down, the gang piled into separate vehicles and drove the fifteen minutes it would take to reach down town.

Sid’s was overflowing by the time they got there. A comfortable and welcoming bar, it was no wonder it was so popular in the evenings. Businessmen and white-collar workers alike joined together in the relaxed atmosphere the bar emitted. It was a perfect place for Liz to chill out.

Tonight was Karaoke night, and Kyle had obviously had enough beers in him to stand on the bar counter and sing “I’m Too Sexy” to the ladies, while doing his “little turn” on the make shift “catwalk”. It was a pity that they hadn’t gotten that on camera.

Liz sat at the bar and continued to nurse the same beer she’s had for the past hour. A wistful smile played on her lips as she listened to Maria sing some Maroon 5 song. It was becoming difficult to recall the easier times when there was no worry of the FBI or people discovering their secret. Most of those instances had occurred when they were teenagers and before the others had left.

But after that day, the day of her wedding, everything went down hill from there. Maria fell into a several month long depression. She later went to college and lost herself in studies of forensic science. Alex had lost his luster of laughter and comedy. Kyle had just stopped hanging around. And Liz had cried more tears than she thought possible.

Later, it had been a group decision to help each other out of the dumps and move on; life had still gone on without them after all, and it was time to catch up. It all became easier with the arrival of Riannan. For years their lives had been revolving around the protection of aliens, and with Rian the normalcy that had come with protecting the others had returned. Now, years later, it seemed she was the one protecting them.

As the days turned into months, and months into years, Liz had begun to wonder if the others were ever going to return – or had they already returned? It was then the idea of their potential capture broke the surface of her dream world and became her reality.

She lived and breathed the idea of one day rescuing them. The notion gave her the hope she had long ago lost. Yet as time continued to go on, Liz wondered if they ever really intended on coming back – if he would ever return to her. Her friends – who she loved dearly – all tried to convince her that the FBI hadn’t captured them; they had simply left. And she had almost believed them.

Now, she couldn’t afford to believe it, and it would appear that no one else could either. With the knowledge that aliens were indeed being held and studied within her Unit came the possibility that of discovering that it really was Max, Tess, Isabel, and Michael. Liz held onto that hope with all her might, for she knew she’d be the only one who could get them out.

Someone slid onto the bar stool next to her. She didn’t have to turn her head to know that it was Riannan. Instead she simply placed her bottled on the counter in front of her and leaned on her forearms. Out of the corner of her eye, Liz noticed that Rian glanced around before she dipped her fingers into the basket of pretzels. Smirking, Liz realized that Rian had been searching for Maria, for they had all endured long lectures about how many unsanitary agents contaminated the pretzels. They had all listened to her, but in the end had decided to ignore her suggestion.

“So,” Rian finally mumbled through a mouthful of pretzels. “Have you gotten any closer?”

Liz lifted a slender shoulder, and trailed her finger around the rim of her beer bottle. She always got compliments from Dr. Cornwell, but he had stopped hinting at whether he’d give a good recommendation to Pierce in regards to her work.

“There’s no telling yet.” She finally answered.

Rian was silent for a moment, before she commented, “We’ll have the house completely ready by the end of next week at least,” She began. “We still need to carpet the living room and insulate the cellar. Alex should be able to begin with installing the security equipment this weekend. Kyle has Wednesday off – I’m on call – so we should be able to purchase some furnishing and clothing. Are you expecting to be on the inside before all of that is completed?”

Again, Liz shrugged. There was absolutely no way of telling with the doctor. “If I am, there’s no pressure. I’ve got some clothes from the Goodwill; they’re in a duffle bag in my car,” She replied. “Anyway, we have to bide our time. It would appear suspicious of they disappeared right after I saw them. I still need to get Alex inside to do whatever he needs to do to the cameras.”

“Me too,” Rian informed her, and when Liz frowned, she elaborated in a softer tone. “I got his co-worker’s DNA. I’ll go in with Alex just as a precaution. We can’t be too careful.”

“Or careless.” Liz added with a nod of agreement, and then fell silent.

It seemed just yesterday that she had stepped out of the parking garage elevator and had nearly been toppled over with that sensation that someone else was there. Rian had said it was her connection with Max, and if she were being honest with herself Liz would have to agree. After Liz realized he wasn’t coming back, she had completely shut herself off from him. If he was out there – close by – she didn’t want to feel him. It would only hurt her more. And as time past it became easier for her to let her guard down without the fear of that connection rekindling, and that’s exactly what happened that day in the garage.

She hadn’t been trying to protect herself from him; she had left herself vulnerable. Which only gave her more reason to suspect that it was he being held inside the compound, and with him would be the others.

Liz began to reach for her drink when a searing hot pain shot through her arm and seemed to explode in her wrist and fingers. Alarmed, she clutched at her wrist and stared dumbfounded at her arm. For a moment, she felt nothing, and she wondered if she imagined it. But then, another bout of pain rocketed through her arm again, and caused her to gasp audibly.

“Liz?” Rian questioned in concern.

“My arm.” Was all she could muster through her clenched teeth.

Was it nerve pain? Liz recalled occasionally getting nerve pains stemming from her elbow and traveling down her arm, but this seemed deeper as if it thrived within her veins. It burned like acid in her bloodstream.

“C’mon.” Rian ordered and gripped her arm to help her off the stool.

Rian led her across the bar and into the ladies’ restroom. Carefully she checked each stall before returning to the door and locking it. “Let me see.” She urged and removed Liz’s grasp from her tender arm.

“It’s just nerve pain,” Liz deduced, though she didn’t sound so sure. “What are you doing?”

“I’m going to see if it really is nerve pain,” Rian answered as she closed her hands over her friend’s arm. “And then I’m going to fix it.”

If there was one thing Riannan Kellar could not stand, it was knowing her friends were in pain.

The connection was made swiftly and effortlessly. It wasn’t the first time that Rian had needed to heal Liz from some ailment, and that made things easily. Promptly she sensed the pain that coursed through Liz’s arm, and she grimaced. Quickly, she worked to heal.

Liz watched in pained awe as her friend worked her magic. After a moment, the pain still had not dissipated which should have happened by now. And then she noticed the frown pleat Rian’s brow.

“What?” She whispered fretfully.

Rian let go; the connection severed. And then her eyes met Liz’s.

“It’s not you.” She answered softly.

Her answer caused Liz to frown. She shook her head slightly in confusion and blinked once. “What do you mean it’s not me?”

“There’s nothing wrong with you,” Rian explained, and seemed to be confused by her own discovery. “There’s nothing that could have stemmed that pain; it’s not yours,” She still wasn’t making any sense, and she knew it. Instead, she continued to stare at her friend pointedly in the eye and fought for a way to make her understand. “The pain you felt – you’re feeling right now – is coming from something else.”

Liz opened her mouth to question her but stopped. She took a deep breath and chaffed her arm in an effort to diminish the sensation that had become a dull, aching twinge. Finally, she licked her lips and asked, “Something else?”

Rian nodded mutely.

“Or it belongs to someone else.”


Jon straightened immediately in the driver’s seat when he heard a car beep, and it’s headlights flashing to alert to the owner the doors are unlocked. It was Liz’s car, three rows ahead of him. Dutifully, his eyes scanned the dark and nearly deserted parking, searching for moving shadows.

And then his eyes fell on her. Her steps were fast and brisk, as per usual. Behind Liz, her posse followed obediently. Jonaphan got a brief glimpse of Riannan, and her shining auburn hair before he concentrated all his focus on Liz.

He had followed her discreetly through Safford, and had expected her to stop at Maria’s or even Rian’s place. But instead she had driven on and out of town. He kept a safe distance behind, not wanting to alert her when she was obviously heading someplace new.

They drove for thirty miles. Residences and buildings had become sparse. The road being traveled was well used, and several cars separated him from Liz, so it wasn’t a concern that he was following her – yet. But when Liz signaled left and turned onto a dirt road, Jon knew it would be impossible for him to follow.

Instead, he had turned around and driven back to town. He camped out at a small café and regarded the road with a watchful eye. It was suspected that Liz would come back that way after she had finished with whatever she was doing. He’d definitely have to find a way to head down that road undetected and discover what she’s hiding.

The group stopped in front of Liz’s car. They were all laughing and smiling, seemingly not having a care in the world.

Jonaphan shook his head. That would all change.


TBC

Raych
Last edited by Raychelxluscious on Sun Apr 10, 2005 1:08 pm, edited 3 times in total.
writing is a socially accepted form of schizophrenia

Roswell, New Mexico S1 Watch Party

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Raychelxluscious
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Post by Raychelxluscious » Sun Apr 24, 2005 10:39 pm

Okay kids! My beta is better once again (yay!) so here's the new part. ;)

I hope you all enjoy! *big* thanks to Kaela and Thea - cause she knows why. =)

And cause you're all special - a *big* wave to you all. ;) Love ya!



<center>Part Eight</center>

Maria sagged against the cushions of the plush couch, her legs stretching out to hang over the arm of the furniture. Dramatically, she draped her paled, sweat-moistened arm over her eyes and groaned deeply. She couldn’t move, could barely muster the strength to think, and she wanted to go home.

“Are we done yet?” She queried after a long, exhausted expel of breath.

Someone came by and swatted at her legs. Maria lifted her arm just slightly to peer through a tiny crack and saw that it was Liz. With great effort, she lifted her legs into the air, leaving just enough room between her appendages and the couch for Liz to squeeze through. Once her friend had seated herself, Maria dropped her legs, causing the air to rush from Liz’s lungs with a whoosh.

“For the day?” Rian asked, finally meriting a response to Maria’s question. “Yeah. But not in the long run. We still have plenty to do.”

“Like what?” Maria whined and sighed in exasperation. “I’m so tired I feel like I can sleep for a week.”

Today had been a tiring day for everyone. Kyle and Alex had finished the outside portions of the house – for good. The shingles had all be replaced, the siding washed and repainted, and the porch was now safe enough for people to walk across without the fear of losing life or limb. Within the beaten up house, the kitchen had been completely finished, as well. The appliances were older models, true, but they seemed to be in good working condition. Dishware and utensils had been purchased the other day and placed in the newly built cabinets. The partition separating the dining room and kitchen had been removed, and an oblong dining table had been bought along with nine dinner chairs. The walls had been painted a deep crimson to go with the russet apple theme, and a hanging light fixture had been installed.

Upstairs the bedrooms had needed very little work. They were freshly painted and cleaned, and that was that. They had yet to be furnished yet, as they needed to watch their budget to make sure they could afford enough for the security equipment. They didn’t want to have to rely on Rian for more money than was necessary.

The living room and cellar were what proved to be taking the longest. Carpeting had taken longer than suspected because Rian and Maria hadn’t purchased enough, and the hardware store had some on back order that would take a day or two to get in. A few pieces of furniture – a couch, an end table, and a recliner, had been purchased at a furniture outlet for under half price. The cellar was a complete wreck. Alex had been unable to find any feasible way to hook up the security equipment they would be receiving, so they will have to be forced to root all cables and wires up through the floorboards and hide them beneath the carpeting; which made it easier to connect the system to the television (that had yet to be purchased) so that all security could be monitored above the cellar as well as in it. They also needed to find a way to hide the cellar trap door in the most of inconspicuous of ways.

Rian had taken a look at the cellar wall, and knew it would be more difficult for her to create a tunnel from the cellar to the shed than had originally been suspected. If it were to work, they’d have to reinforce the tunnel with metal rods to prevent cave-ins. That would also have to wait until the budget could be studied.

All of their money was safely stowed in a savings account at a bank an hour and a half away from Safford. They had combined the first letter of each of their names to come up with alias Marke for their account name. Marke, of course, being the last name; they had chosen the masculine version of Rian’s middle name – Lee.

All in all, it had been a busy weekend, and everyone shared sentiments with Maria. Everyone simply wanted a weekend of rest, but each person knew that wouldn’t be possible, not with the impending bust approaching.

Liz rested her head against back of the couch and allowed her eyes to rest shut for the briefest of moments. When she opened them, she sought out Alex, and found him sitting in the corner of the room with his head leaning against the wall and his eyes closed as well. She felt bad for having to disturb him, but if she didn’t say it soon, then she’d be liable to forget.

“Do whatever it is you have to do to get the cameras at the compound to stop working, Alex,” She began and watched as he opened one eye to regard her. “I’ll be bringing you into the building sometime this week.”

“And make sure Kate isn’t working,” Rian added from where she leaned against the opposite wall. “I’ll be taking her place.”

“I won’t be able to be with you,” Liz went on, and she pondered the difficulties of getting her friends inside. “That could look incriminating later, so you’ll be watched by an off duty security guard,” She paused and looked pointedly at Rian, for she knew that woman planned to use her powers if the situation called for it. “You have to be careful.”

Rian nodded her acknowledgment; she wasn’t going to do anything that would jeopardize their mission. She especially wasn’t going to do anything that would jeopardize Liz’s life.

Just then, the front door swung open and footsteps were heard tapping down the hall. Everyone turned to see Kyle enter the room, a large, wooden object practically overflowing in his arms.

“Hey guys, look what I bought.” Kyle beamed excitedly and stepped further into the room; all eyes regarded him curiously.

Maria forced her arm away from her face and eyed the object warily. “It’s a…box.”

“It’s a hope chest,” Kyle corrected and set the chest down on the floor for everyone’s inspection. “I bought it at a yard sale.”

“That’s great, Kyle, but what are we going to do with it?” Rian asked and frowned down at the ugly wooden chest in disgust. It had definitely seen better days.

“Put all our hopes in it, duh, Rian.” Alex quipped with an eye roll from the corner of the room.

Kyle shook his head and lifted the lid. “See how big it is inside? There’s plenty of room! I’m going to cut out a portion of the bottom, just big enough to fit a body – “

“A body?” Liz inquired, an incredulous look crossing her face.

“Let me finish, would ya?” Kyle demanded, and then rolled his eyes. “I’ll gut it, and put it over the hole leading to the cellar. It’s a tasteful way to hide it without having to move anything to get beneath the house. Just lift the lid and jump inside.”

Rian squinted skeptically at the chest, not at all perceiving the object to be of much help. “And what if the FEDs look there? What then?”

Kyle shrugged. “Alex will have video feed down there, if anyone notices the FBI heading for the chest then we take the tunnel.”

“You say we as if you plan on being here when that happens,” Liz pointed out. When no one objected otherwise, she shook her head forcefully. “No. Once we get them out we have to stay away.”

“No, you have to stay away,” Maria pointed out. “The rest of us will have no ties to them. If we’re seen here, it’s not going to be a big deal – how much attention can we draw? We won’t be suspects. We’ll be careful to ensure that won’t happen anyway, but we can’t just stay away, Liz. They might need us.”

Alex nodded. “Not to mention we’ll need to do grocery shopping for them. Once they’re out of the compound, we can’t risk them being seen outside of this house. It’s too dangerous.”

“I don’t want you guys getting involved.” Liz muttered helplessly, though she knew it was no use.

“It’s a little too late for that, don’t you think?” Kyle asked softly. There was no admonishing tone, or underlying resentment. He was just speaking the truth. “We’re already involved, and there’s no backing out for it – even if we wanted too.”

Maria, Rian, and Alex nodded their heads in agreement. “We’re in this all the way, babe.” Maria vowed with a reassuring, but tired smile.

Liz sighed. She hadn’t expected things to turn out the way they had. She didn’t want her friends so deeply involved. She didn’t want them there when the bust was made, but she knew there was no way out of it. It was becoming clear just how dangerous things are going to get, but there’s nothing to be done about it. If something goes wrong, she’d be there to fix it – to ensure their safety. There was no other option.

Finally, Liz eyed the hope chest and then searched Kyle’s gaze. He believed it would work. “If you can make it happen,” She began, and shrugged. “Go for it.”

<center>* * *</center>

Liz had just loaded Mulder and Scully into her car and climbed in herself when her cell phone began to chirp. Before she answered it, she waved goodbye to the others as they stood on the porch making sure the house was locked up. She had brought the dogs, knowing that she’d be gone all day and felt bad for leaving them cooped up in the house with no one there. They happily rode with her to Safford, and then roamed the yard for a good portion of the day, only coming inside when the heat became unbearable.

As she pulled out of the dirt drive, she began to fish for her phone. Finally, she found it at the bottom of her bag on the sixth annoying ring.

“Parker.” She answered briskly and maneuvered her car down the dirt path one handedly.

Evenin’, darlin’.” Jonaphan’s deep drawl greeted her from the other side, and she smiled.

“Hello, Jon,” She returned. “How are you?”

Happy as a lark,” He answered back with a slight chuckle. “And how about you’re pretty self?

Liz sighed into the phone. “Tired,” She finally answered and fought to keep her lids from drooping shut. It wasn’t a good idea to fall asleep while driving. “Work has been rough.”

Ah, darlin’, you do sound exhausted,” He agreed with a slight admonishing tone in his voice. “You haven’t been working yourself too hard have you? You’re not all work and no play?

She laughed, and thought back to the productive yet fun day she’d just finished with her friends. “No, hon, I’ve definitely had some fun. In fact, I just said goodbye to some friends.”

That’s good. God knows you probably haven’t had any real fun since I’ve been gone,” Liz could only laugh. Because it was partially true. She had an abundance of fun with her friends; they’re great and she wouldn’t trade them for anything. But the problem was she didn’t see them nearly enough. Due to their hectic schedules, they only shared infrequent phone calls. But when Jonaphan Calder had been her partner, she had fun every day she was at work, and even when she wasn’t. He always made a point to come see her when she was busy at home; he’d take her out to eat to get her up to her “fighting weight”. She did have fun with him, and she missed it. “So,” Jon continued when there seemed to be a slight lag. “When you going to come see me?

Liz scoffed. “When am I going to come see you? I believe the question is, my friend, when are you going to come to see me. I’ve been to Montana once before already. And you haven’t come to visit me at all.”

The rough timbre of his laugh made Liz smile again. “You’re right, sweetie. I haven’t come see you. I’ve been busy as hell up here. I’m sorry.

“It’s all right,” Liz conceded, but was sure that he heard the pout in her voice. “As long as you promise to come see me soon.”

Jonaphan smiled as her car passed his in the opposing direction. She hadn’t recognized him, and that’s good. “I promise, darlin’,” He answered gruffly. “I’ll be seein’ you soon.”

<center>* * *</center>

Maria frowned and continued the light scratches on her cat’s head. Snuffy purred contentedly and snuggled deeper into Maria’s embrace, happy to finally garner Maria’s attention, as it has seemed she’s never home.

The apartment was silent, except for the computer that continued to make odd humming noises, which only deepened the crease in Maria’s brow. The sounds had been driving her mad for a couple of weeks, and she finally had to recruit in a professional.

“Alex?” She asked from where she stood behind her computer geek pal. He barely twitched in acknowledgment, as his fingers flew over the keys. “What’s it doing?”

Alex didn’t say anything, but continued to work diligently on repairing Maria’s dysfunctional computer. It was relaxing to finally be able to work on something that didn’t deal with life or death. Maria may think she’d die if her computer were never to be fixed, but the likelihood of that happening was slim. If her computer – affectionately named, Gilbert – died on her it would be no big deal. He could get her a new one; a better one, and all would be right in Maria’s world once again.

“Well?” Maria prompted and nudged Alex’s arm for emphasis with a pop of her hip. “What’s the diagnosis?”

He grunted, and afforded Maria a mere glance. “You’re computer has a Trojan.”

Aghast, Maria stepped back and frowned inquiringly at her computer, and then back to Alex. His nonchalant reply confused her. She understood that he worked with computers everyday, and knew more about them than anyone she knew. But why didn’t he find it highly unusual for her computer to have a condom in it?

“How did it go about getting a Trojan?” She asked quizzically. Maria didn’t date much; therefore there was no reason for her to have any condoms in her apartment. And even if she did, it wasn’t as if she’d gone about inserting them into her computer. Although, there was that one time she and Kyle got drunk and created latex puppets for their amusement…

“Probably through an email or something.” Alex answered distractedly.

And now Maria was even more perplexed. She shook her head and pinched the bridge of her nose. Snuffy, upset that she no longer administered the soothing scratches between her ears, leaped from Maria’s arm and landed stealthily on the couch.

“Okay,” Maria murmured wearily. “So my computer has a Trojan. Why is that bad? They are meant as protection, yes?”

Alex’s fingers froze, and he slowly turned to regard her quizzically. She eyed him curiously, and Alex briefly wondered just how ill-educated she was when it came to computers. “No, honey. I think you’re a bit confused. A Trojan is bad, very bad.” He and paused, and Maria immediately knew a stream of incomprehensible words were about to spew from his mouth. “The Trojan fried all your disk drives and completely eliminated all back up files and presets,” What the hell is a ‘preset’? “I’m fixing it, so it’s almost back to normal.”

Maria waited a beat, before muttering, “Huh?”

Alex sighed, and elaborated. “Picture a Trojan as a bad, icky worm, okay? The icky worm in your computer made it do all sorts of crazy things. Still following? I’m fixing it, and soon the nice, new computer will let you back on the internet again.” He finished slowly and waited for the dumfounded expression to pass her features.

“So a Trojan isn’t a condom?” She asked.

Alex closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “No, Maria, it’s not a condom.” He finally forced out, and lightly shook his head.

Maria considered that, then she nodded and patted him in the back. “That’s all you had to say.”

With another shake of his head, Alex turned back to the computer and concentrated. He vaguely heard her leave his side, her footsteps carrying across the living room and into the kitchen. The refrigerator door squeaked open, and then closed a moment later. The snapping of a soda can being popped open drifted to his ears, and Alex suddenly realized he was thirsty.

“Hey, Maria – “

“I’ve got it,” She interrupted, already knowing what he wanted. A few moments later a tall glass of soda, fizzling in ice was presented to him. He muttered a quick thanks and took a deep gulp. “So,” Maria began after she took a tiny, refreshing sip. “Is the Trojan the reason it’s making all that noise?”

Alex snorted. “No, it’s making all that noise because it’s the shit,” He answered, and tossed her a disapproving glance over his shoulder. “Not to be confused with the terminology meaning cool. It’s literally the shit.”

“You dare to speak of Gilbert in such a manner?” Maria asked, astonished.

He chuckled mirthlessly. “Oh, I dare,” He retorted. “You seriously need a new computer.”

“I’ll put it on my Christmas list.”

“Think Santa will get it for you?” Alex inquired.

“Sure. If his name is Santa Alex.” The smile was evident in her voice, but Alex didn’t say anything – he already had a computer in mind.

A few moments of comfortable silence fell upon the duo. Their group was close knit, and they were all comfortable with each other. But nothing could compete with the bonds of friendship that has lasted as long and Maria and Alex’s. Friends since grade school, the two know each other like no one else – except for maybe Liz. Rian and Kyle were close due to their strong and similar personalities. Alex and Maria were bonded by years of companionship.

“So,” Maria prompted again and set her drink down beside Alex’s. “What do you think about this plan? Or are you trying to keep yourself from thinking about it at all – as per usual?”

Alex heaved in a deep breath and allowed his fingers to fall from the keys. He turned in the chair and regarded his best friend quietly. In the beginning, he had purposely kept himself from thinking too greatly about this plan, which had been in formulation for years. But now, as the time drew nearer and the certainty in everyone’s eyes, it became more and more difficult for him to not think about it.

“I’m scared,” He muttered with brutal honesty. “I’ve never been so scared in my life.”

Maria wrapped a comforting arm around his shoulders, and rested her temple on the top of his head. Automatically, Alex’s arms lifted to wrap around Maria’s waist, and they silently held each other in an effort to give off strength and reassurance.

“I am too,” Maria confessed. “But I think I’m mostly excited,” She lifted her head and peered down into his upturned face. “This is it, Alex. We’re going to get them back. After years of waiting, they are finally going to be here.”

“Are they?” He whispered softly, and he couldn’t hide the doubt from his eyes. “I know you believe it’s them, but what if it’s not?”

“It is,” Maria answered fiercely, and squeezed his shoulder with her hands. “I can’t be wrong about this. I just can’t be.”

Silently, Alex rested his head against her rib cage and closed his eyes. He hoped she was right.

* * *

The keys clattered noisily against the smooth surface of the kitchen counter; the door shut silently behind in her. With a tired sigh, Rian trudged through her apartment until she reached the sparsely furnished living room, where she fell face first into the soft cushions of the couch. For several moments, she lay motionless as she allowed her muscles – tight with tension – to slowly relax. The course of the last week has finally taken its toll on her. And it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time, she thought wryly, for she really needed the energy to prepare for her entrance into Liz’s building.

Rian rolled over, her arm falling off the side of the couch, and stared sightlessly at the ceiling. She needed a vacation.

She urged herself into a sitting position, telling herself that much desired vacation would have to wait until after, and stood from the couch. Her arms stretched high over her head and she stood on her tiptoes, giving the illusion that she was much taller than her already startlingly height. Feeling her muscles extend and her limbs relax, Rian smiled sleepily and relaxed.

“All right, lets do this, Kellar.” She told herself as she closed and cleared her mind.

She hadn’t tried shapes shifting since she escaped with her life – barely – from Eagle Rock. Having drained herself dry that night, Rian had been apprehensive ever since to draw strength from herself and try again. But with the impending entrance into the Special Unit, she would have to call upon her shapeshifting abilities once more. There was no getting out of it.

In her mind she had a clear image of Kate Marlow, and she all but groaned at the difference between them. It would require more energy for Rian to shift to match her precisely, and there was no room for slacking off. Kate’s hair was a much richer red, while Rian’s had hints of brown. Kate’s was longer, almost at her waist, and was so thick that it’s obviously a bitch to take care of. Her facial features were soft, while Kate’s were more angular. They shared the same general skin tone, but Kate had freckles specking her cheeks and nose. The woman was much shorter than Rian, had a slightly bigger rack, and definitely a bigger ass.

It was gonna be a real bitch trying to shape shift into her when Rian felt like shit.

With a sigh, Rian racked her brain for another specimen, someone more like her. She hadn’t acquired a wide variety of female DNA to shift into – most of her shapeshifting had been in the form of men, anyway, so it was difficult for her to find a similar match. Finally, she settled on the agent whose form she used at Eagle Rock.

With a deep inhalation of breath, Rian focused. Her scalp began to tingle as her medium length tresses retracted into her scull; she pictured them changing from a reddish brown to a dark blonde. Her face grew taunt, and her cheeks and chin began to itch as the skin stretched and hardened, hair stubble pressed through. Muscles thickened beneath the flesh of her arms and legs; her abdomen tightened and her torso broadened. In her throat, she could feel it become scratchy as her voice box altered to give her a deeper voice.

Finally, the transformation was complete. She opened her eyes, and had to blink several times to bring everything into focus, as her new eyes adjusted. Rian turned and stared at her shadowed reflection in the television screen. Her lips curved into a crooked smile as she surveyed her work. Perfect.

It always required more energy to shape shift into a new form the first time, than it did if she used the same form over and over again. Rian felt very little of the energy that had drained from her already tired body. Actually, the knowledge that she could still do it rejuvenated her and she felt slightly invincible.

Delight with that fact that she felt good with what she’s accomplished, Rian prepared to shift back into her familiar form. Just as she was preparing to close her eyes, however, the door to her apartment swung one and in walked Kyle Valenti – his head down as he shuffled through the contents of a brown paper bag.

“Hey, Ri, I thought maybe some movies and a round of strip poker was in order – Shit!” Upon seeing the man standing in the middle of Rian’s living room, he dropped the bag and automatically reached behind him for the gun that he had taken off. A fleeting curse entered his mind for leaving his handgun behind. Instead, he tensed his body, falling into a combative stance. He was preparing to lunge the man, when he recognized him as the agent Rian had knocked out at Eagle Rock. His face paled as panic consumed him. “You…”

“Relax, Valenti,” The deep voice muttered, and listless eyes rolled skyward. “It’s me, Riannan.”

Had she not said anything, Kyle could have deduced it was she by the habitual way in which she always rolled her eyes at him. Hesitantly, he relaxed, though still unnerved by his friend’s appearance. Crossing his arms, his biceps bulged from his t-shirt, and he regarded Rian warily. “What the hell are you thinking?”

And her eyes rolled again, as she rounded the couch to head towards the bathroom to change back – mindful of Kyle’s disdain for her abilities. “I was just practicing. Don’t get your Calvin Klein’s in a twist.”

“I’ve changed to Joe Boxer, thank you.”

Rian disappeared into the bathroom, and Kyle bent down to pick up the bags of chips and deck of cards that had spilled from the paper bag. He stood, and entered the kitchen. The counter separated the living room and kitchen, and as he placed the contents on the counter top he was afforded a look down the hallway and at the closed bathroom door. A brief moment later, it swung open, and Rian walked out finger coming her russet tresses.

“All right,” She murmured as she pulled her hair back into a ponytail. “Is this better?” She asked him.

Kyle opened his mouth to automatically agree, but stopped short. He stared hard at her – more accurately, a specific part of her – as the corners of his mouth started to quirk. “Uh, you,” He cleared his throat, and crossed his arms again, one arm bending at the elbow to reach up and scratch the side of his nose. “You forgot something, Rian.”

“What?” She asked and briefly looked down at herself. After a quick double take, she uttered, “Holy shit,” And stared in shock at her pants. There was a distinct bulge pressing against the tight denim of her jeans. That definitely hadn’t been there before – so it was safe to say she had forgotten something.

“That’s quite a package you’re sporting.” He pointed out.

Rian lifted her head and stared momentarily at Kyle, before she nodded nonplussed and headed back to the bathroom, but not before she uttered a quick “Sporting it bigger than yours,” loud enough for him to hear. Once the door was firmly shut, Kyle shook his head, a wide smirk stretching across his fast. And then a frown pleated his brow as Rian’s words hit him. Concerned, he grasped the waistband of his own jeans, pulled it away from his body, and peered down.

“Well, damn,” He murmured softly as he studied himself. “That just isn’t fair.”

<center>* * *</center>

He hadn’t driven down the long stretch of dirt road right away. Instead, he drove leisurely back to the Whitefield, turned around, and headed back. On his trek back towards Safford, he saw three cars in which he had identified as belonging to Alex Whitman, Kyle Valenti, and Riannan Kellar. He caught a brief glimpse of Maria DeLuca in the passenger’s seat of Alex’s black Audi.

Unless there was another, unidentified accomplice he had missed, Liz’s entourage should have been gone. Alex, Kyle, Maria, and Rian had each been added to a list of names that would be faxed to his superiors. He had scanned the computer’s databases for each of their names, and printed off the basic information on each of them. The information would be faxed as well, and his colleagues would perform a background check.

Jonaphan turned down the narrow dirt road and drove at a slow speed. He wasn’t concerned about there being someone close to Liz that he may have missed. It was just habit for him to drive slowly through unknown areas so that nothing may go unseen by his eyes. More specifically, it was a FBI agent’s habit…and old habits die-hard.

It seemed as if he’d been driving forever, and dusk had already fallen before a large farmhouse loomed into view. It appeared freshly painted – either that or it had a good cleaning. Another habit prohibited him from turning on his headlights, but as he drew closer he could clearly make out scrap pieces of boards strewn about on the porch. An old screen door leaned against the house; right next to the door that was obviously it’s replacement. The yard was a mess due to the not-so lively grass, but the house itself looked as if it had a major face-lift.
Quietly, Jon exited his vehicle and lightly shut the car door behind him. Dirt and rocks crunched beneath the soles of his shoes as he cautiously made his way towards the front porch. His senses told him he was alone, but his training told him to leave nothing to chance. He silently walked the perimeter of the house, carefully peering through the windows and into the darkened house, until he once again reached the front yard. It was only when he was satisfied that he was indeed alone, did Jon attempt to enter the house.

Any amateur could have picked the lock, which made it insanely easy for him to do it. The door swung silently open on its oiled hinges. The floorboards were old, but not even the pressure of his two hundred plus weight emitted a squeak of protest from them. His every step was strategically placed, and that was what ensured his silence. Even though the house was completely without light to aide his vision, Jon ventured through the house with predatory ease.

The outer portion of the house wasn’t the only part that had been spruced up, but the kitchen seemed to be the only room completely finished. He entered the living room and noticed the partially carpeted floor. The new carpet was stiff beneath his feet, and would have easily prevented anyone from knowing that it was hollow beneath the floor.

But Jonaphan Calder wasn’t just anyone.

He quietly walked to the point where the carpet ended and the floorboards resumed. Squatting next to a haphazardly placed couch, he reached his hand down and hovered it a mere few inches from the surface of the floor. An almost imperceptible draft caressed the calloused skin of his palm.

Straightening, Jon turned in a slow circle, regarding the room with a professional, critical eye. He was the best of the best, and nothing got by him. Why was it that the hope chest was the only piece of furniture that seemed to have a fixed place? The couch, end table, and chair were placed in the living room in no particular formation, but that wooden chest was deliberately placed against that end of the wall.

Stealthily, Jon dodged scrap pieces of carpet, cardboard, and tools with only the fresh moonbeams peeking through the window aiding him until he reached the chest. He stared down at the object with a speculative gleam in his eye. Then, as he did when he inspected the floor, he crouched down. His long fingers splayed over the lid of the chest, starting at the back where the crease of the lid met the wall, and then spanned outwards. They deftly glided over the surface of the hope chest, and then fell down the sides, feeling there as well. When his fingers met the floor, he scooted closer and attempted to give the chest a tiny shove using the full force of his hands.

But it didn’t budge.

Eyes narrowing, Jon grasped the lid between his fingers and lifted. The nails anchoring the chest to the floor was the second thing he noticed; the first was the gaping hole in the center of the base, and the immense darkness below. Using one hand to keep the chest open, he freed his other and reached into his shirt pocket for the tiny mag-light. With a press of his thumb, light penetrated the darkness, and he stared down at the dank, dirt floor of the cellar.

Jonaphan stood and vaguely wondered what he would find if he were to go down there, but knew he wasn’t going to risk it. He had only come here intending to get in and get out, and now that he knew that this house would be a frequent meeting place for the others, he had a job to do.

He had to find a place to plant the bug.

<center>* * *</center>

The call came just moments after he disconnected all feedback. Alex smiled wryly at the swiftness of the security personnel. He cleared his throat before he picked up the phone and went through his greeting spiel, which ended with “this is Alex, how may I help you?”

The man on the other end told Alex what he already knew.

“Of course, sir, we apologize about that, let me see what the problem is,” He paused and made a show of tapping loudly on his keyboard, making sure it could be heard on the other end of the phone. Then, he cleared his throat again, this time into the receiver. “I’m sorry, sir, but our database doesn’t show any sort of problem on our end. It must have happened over there. We can send someone over at your earliest convenience to remedy to problem.”

There was a brief pause, and then Alex was asked to hold. He smirked, and leaned back in his chair, silently congratulating himself on a performance well done. A moment later, the man came back on the line and asked if he could have someone come out that day.

Alex straightened and urged himself to answer. “Yes, of course. We’ll send someone right away.” He then listened to the directions that he had already committed to memory.

After he hung up, he paged both Rian and Liz to let them know what was happening, and requested Rian to meet him in twenty minutes. With that accomplished, he glanced over his shoulder to ensure his privacy, and then erased all evidence of his tampering with security.


Liz was on her way back to the lab, both her and Philip’s lunches in hand (because apparently she had been promoted to running errands as well), when her pager vibrated against her hip. With a groan, she shifted the cartons of food in her arm and reached for device at her side.

She eyed the numbers across the top, her face stoic, devoid of all emotions. Silently, she replaced her pager and continued her trek towards Dr. Cornwell’s office.

Alex and Rian would arrive in twenty minutes.

Liz felt an involuntary shudder travel through her. It was just around the corner; the climax concerning everything she has worked so hard to achieve thus far. She could sense it, as if it were a foreboding voice in the back of her head. She would either make it out of this with her life, or she wouldn’t.

If somehow, for whatever reason, she failed in covering all tracks that would lead to her, she would undoubtedly die. The people she worked for would be merciless in their torture of her, in an effort to detract any and all information she may have. And she would fight, with her last dying breath, to keep the others safe.

Everything would fall into play soon, sooner than she’s probably prepared for. The knowledge hit her, and caused the hair on the back of her neck to prickle as they rose to attention. The time for one last group discussion was here.

<center>* * *</center>

Liz hadn’t lied when she said they would be escorted by an off duty security guard. Alex and Rian – incognito as Kate - had entered the building with ease, gave their names and reason for being there, and then were accompanied through the hallways.

Alex reached into his pocket and pulled out the plans that pinpointed exactly where every camera was placed. Circled in red was the camera that he would have to tag. Glancing at Rian, and then at the security guard to her left, Alex cleared his throat.

“Our computers told us this camera right here is the source of the problem,” He spoke, and indicated to the paper in his hands. The guard glanced at it, despite the fact he had no idea what the paper meant or why Alex was showing it to him. “It’s in this sector of the building. Can you take us there?”

Once again, the guard regarded the paper, before giving a brisk nod and taking the lead. Rian looked at Alex, the corner of her lush lips quirked in a wry grin, and her startling green eyes rolling. Apparently, she shared his sentiments. It would have been wiser for someone from the security department to accompany them, instead of some watch guard who knew nothing about the buildings technology.

Not that Alex was complaining; it made his job a lot easier.

They took the elevator to the second floor, and walked down a series of halls. Alex kept referring to his plan sheet to be sure that they were heading in the right direction. The camera they were looking for was connected to every other camera in the building; when he had first come here to install the new cameras, Alex had made sure to put things that way.

All he had to do was climb a little step ladder, take a peek at the camera’s insides, make a show of “fixing” it with miniature tools and what not, then insert a tiny chip, and presto! – his job was done. Then, when the time came, he could divert all feed to his screens so that he could monitor the movement on the inside.

It was a brilliant idea, if he did say so himself.

The guard stopped abruptly, and it took Alex a moment to realize that they had reached their destination. They had reached a dead end of the hallway, and mounted high on the wall was the camera. He struggled to keep from breathing deeply; this was it. By doing this, it somehow made everything they had worked for this far a reality.

Alex looked to Rian again, and she gave him an almost imperceptible nod. He carried a lightweight stepladder under his right arm, and he opened it and placed it right under the camera. And then he set to work.

With the miniature tools he got for Christmas a couple of years ago from Maria – because she thought they were “cute” – he gingerly began to remove the outer shell of the camera. Once that was done, he handed it to Rian, and whistled dramatically. “Ah, here’s the problem…”

To his relief, the guard didn’t ask for details. He remained rooted behind him, his arms crossed of his chest as he watched Alex’s every move.

He took a few moments to appear engrossed in repairing the problem. When he used up as much time as it warranted he glanced over at Rian. She read his look, and gave him a slight nod.

Rian turned and smiled sweetly at the security guard. “So, what do y’all do here?” She asked, thickening her accent, and batting her eyes at him.

The guard fixed a skeptical gaze on her – just momentarily – before he returned his gaze to Alex. Okay then.

Maybe she should try a different approach. “I think security is the coolest job anyone could ever have,” She continued, her eyes still locked on the guard’s hard face. “We have something in common, you and I.”

This time, the guard grunted and then replied with, “Oh, yeah?”

“Sure!” Rian exclaimed, relieved that she got some response from him. “You’re a security guard; I work for a security company. See? We kind of have the same job, you and I.”

He gave her a long, apprehensive look, but that was enough. It gave Alex the time to slip his hand into his shirt pocket, pull out the chip, and plant it inside the camera. Then he swiped mock swept from his brow and climbed down the ladder.

“Well, that’s that.” He said as he wiped his hands.

“If we could get someone to just sign here,” Rian added and presented the guard with a clipboard. “We’ll be on our way.”

The guard took the clipboard and then pen offered, and then signed his name. Ernie Murphy. Rian looked at his name and offered him a smile. “Thanks, doll.”

As she and Alex turned to exit, the guard called them back. His gray eyes were focused on Rian, and his mouth cracked in what she assumed was a smile.

“Security is the best line of work, ma’am.”

Rian winked.

* * *

Dr. Cornwell and Liz had both finished their lunches and agreed to get promptly back to work. The walked back the labs in silence. When Liz reached for the door to their designated lab, Philip stopped her.

“Not that one, dear,” He corrected and walked across the hall to the opposite door. A small smile stretched across his face as he held the door open for her. “This one.”

A frown pleated her brow as she followed Dr. Cornwell into the lab. When she entered, her olfactory sense was hit with an onslaught of varying chemicals, most of which she could pick out, others that seemed familiar, but failed to offer her a name. Liz smiled and then noticed the size of the new lab, at least twice as large as their previous lab with more lab tables and equipment to be used. The doctor was probably having an aneurysm at all the possibilities.

She was prepared to turn and ask Philip why they had switched lab, when movement in the corner of the room garnered her attention. She turned in the direction of the movement, and nearly groaned aloud when she saw Daniel Pierce leaning against the wall.

“Liz, good afternoon.”

The urge to roll her eyes was intense, but Liz valiantly fought it. “Good afternoon.”

Daniel pushed himself from the wall. His hands were deeply imbedded in his pockets, as he slowly approached Liz, his eyes never leaving hers.

She kept her back ramrod straight, and her gaze level with his. The knowledge that he intended to wear her down gave Liz all the more reason to remain unaffected. He truly believed his authority would get him anything he wanted, and it was no secret that he wanted her, but Liz refused to be another one of his casualties.

Pierce’s gaze flickered just briefly over to Philip, and he smiled.

“Dr. Cornwell has had nothing but good things to say about you, Liz.” He spoke, and watched as Liz quietly looked in Philip’s direction. The man smiled at her, obviously smitten, and Daniel understood.

“Thank you, Philip.” She said softly with a tiny smile.

Philip nodded, but didn’t respond.

“He has informed me that you have done all you can with testings, given the limited amount of resources of I offered you,” Daniel went on, and Liz breath hitched just slightly, wondering… “He believes that you are ready to participate in further testings. Advanced testing.” He elaborated unnecessarily.

Liz remained silent, fighting for control over her lungs. She desperately wanted to heave in gulps of air for she suddenly felt light headed. Her gut had been wrong; she wasn’t close to the climax, she was right on top of it.

When her silence continued, Daniel quirked a dark brow and regarded her carefully. “Well? What do you think Liz?” He asked.

Her chin lifted and she gathered her composure. The muscles of her throat worked as she swallowed convulsively, and then she said, “I think I’d have to see the specimens first.”

Daniel’s mouth twitched in the corners as he tried to suppress a chuckle. He took another step towards her, once again becoming closer than she felt comfortable being. “Once you sink your teeth into something, you don’t let go, do you?”

Liz’s only response was a slight shake of her head.

Daniel put a hand on the small of her back, and turned her around. He nodded towards the pane of glass on the wall, and gave her another smile. “The specimens are on the other side of the glass if you want a peak.”
This time the air rushed painfully from her lungs. Her mind was screaming at her legs to move, to race towards the glass and peer through the other side, but her appendages refused to work. She remained rooted in spot, too afraid of what she might find. Or not find.

“Go ahead,” Daniel offered invitingly when she remained immobile. He tried to make his smile seem pleasant instead of sadistic. “Take a look.”

She had been waiting for this moment for far too long, so why was she hesitating? Mechanically, she slowly took her first few steps. The pane of glass in front of her was visible, and through it, she could see the stark white, padded walls of the adjacent cell.

The sound of her heels meeting tile resonated loudly in her head; it echoed to an almost painful proportion. In an effort to ease the pain and calm her nerves, Liz began to count her steps. One…Two…Three… She was closer - just a little farther to get yet.

She reached the glass wall, and her eyes fluttered closed on their own accord before she could even get a glimpse of its occupants. Liz took a deep, calming breath and urged her eyes open; she had to see, she had to know for certain.

Her lids quivered open and she stared. An inaudible gasp escaped her lips and she pressed her hands against the glass as if to force her way past its barricading wall and inside. Helplessly, she stared at the four beings trapped in the despairing individual cells.

Before she could stop it, a single tear seeped from the corner of her eye and rolled down her cheek…


heh. heh. *ducks*

Raych
writing is a socially accepted form of schizophrenia

Roswell, New Mexico S1 Watch Party

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Raychelxluscious
Addicted Roswellian
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Joined: Tue Nov 23, 2004 11:15 pm
Location: Started in WV, ending in FL

Post by Raychelxluscious » Sun May 08, 2005 8:13 pm

All right. First off, if everyone would please hand all pitchforks, torches, and rakes back to Nichole, I will relinquish this part. And...*sigh* Whoever took my dog, will please return him? Thank you.

Yes, so I know I was very evil. But you all had best thank Sarah*Marie and my 3 Stalkers (Nichole, behrlyliz, and Timelord31) for this part. Aside from the great job my stalkers did, Sarah guilt tripped me into making this her bday present. I'm so pathetic.

But listen, this is just the first half. I wrote this part and it came out to be more than twenty pages! :shock: How crazy is that? This first half is only twelve pages. So, Part B will be posted on Sarah's actual bday - which is Tuesday. So, y'all had best wish her a happy big 2*Zero! ;)

Now, the thank yous. Of course, a big thanks to Kaela for beta-ing this, while she was at work no less. Now, that's dedication ladies & gents. ;)

I've received several more nominations, all of which I am extremely proud of. =) *Ginormous!* thank yous to behrlyliz, Luvya, Norma Bates, and A Rose Is True Blue. I got nominated for two new categories as well. =) Favorite Supporting Portrayal of Maria DeLuca and Funniest Fanfic. So thanks to all of you who nominated me. =) You guys are just all kinds of awesome and I love you!!

And of course, thank you for all the lovely feedback. =) I'm glad you enjoyed this part, even if it almost gave you a heart attack or two. ;) I just gotta comment on ONE lil thing and then I'll give the new part...

BelevnDreamsToo wrote:
I LOVE Rian and Kyle together...you're going to have to work hard for me to want him with Tess!!! :|
I know!! Right? It's hard for me to NOT write them together, but unfortunately it's not in the stars. Rian and Kyle will forever remain the best of friends. Now, that I may have lost a good portion of my readers for that decision :roll: on with the story!


<center>Part Nine - A

* * *</center>

Her stomach coiled and her throat clenched spasmodically in attempt to ward of the bile. Her stony heart nearly shattered, and with it her strongly built resolve.

At one time, the cell she peered into had been a large and spacious one. Now, it has been divided into four individual cells with very little room to be mobile. They had no contact with each other, which made their captivity all the more intolerable.

It was them. She had known all along, but looking at them now made her stomach drop to her feet. Max, Michael, Tess, and Isabel. How much they had changed, and yet how very much the same they remained.

Michael was pacing the length of his cell like a caged, crazed animal. His dark brown hair and grown out to where it grazed his broad shoulders. His hands would graze across the surface of the padded walls, as if he were searching for a way to escape; the scene before her was just as Maria’s dream had depicted, and Liz knew she would be heartbroken to know of it.

Isabel was curled sideways into a corner, her face pressed against the wall, and her body shuddering with unrestrained sobs. Tess sat huddled in corner just beside of Isabel’s cell – just out of each other’s reach – with her knees hugged tightly to her chest and her chin resting against her knees; she rocked back and forth in an effort to ward of shock with the instinctive need of comfort, to be held in someone’s embrace.

Max was in the last cell. Liz bit her lip in order to suppress her sob until the metallic taste of blood filled her mouth. Her effort to swallow past the lump made her throat hurt and tighten in protest. Max sat with his back pressed firmly against the north wall of his cell. His arms were draped over his knees and his head, shaggy with over grown raven-colored hair, was supported by his lean forearms.

Their condition was deplorable, and Liz was suddenly overcome by anger, which was quickly replaced with utter exhaustion. She fought to keep herself from sagging against the wall.

They were naked. Exposed to every possible degree; they were humiliated while the monsters she worked for treated them like lab rats.

“Disturbing, isn’t it?” Daniel’s voice nearly startled her, yet Liz found the strength to contain her composure. He had come from nowhere; she hadn’t heard him approach.

“Yes,” She answered quietly, though she was aware they had too different meanings.

Daniel made a gruff sound in the base of his throat. “How easy it is for them to take human form in order to confuse their victims.”

They’re the victims. Liz closed her eyes and tried to force the dismal images from her mind. She wanted to cry.

“So, what do you think?” Daniel continued with a vicious smile on his lips - completely oblivious to Liz’s condition. “Why are they here? World domination? Food? Do they want to use humans as a mean of procreation?”

We come in peace. Rian’s mirthful quip echoed in Liz’s mind. Her friend had long ago attempted to explain the reasons behind their swarming of Earth. We aren’t the hostile kind, you guys. We’ll go to war if need be, but only as a last resort. We’ve been coming and going from Earth for more years than you can count. We’ve placed feelers out there to experiment with our ability to survive on another planet. She had shrugged then, and grinned wryly. We’re just looking for a home…

“Disgusting monsters,” Daniel finally bit out with uninhibited hatred. Liz jerked her head around and fixed him with what she hoped was a glare. She was far too tired, hurt, and angry to even care about the repercussions of her obvious hatred for the man before her. Unfortunately, her appearance must have been portrayed as a pained expression instead. “Liz, are you all right? You look faint.” His concern was touching enough to make her want to vomit.

She turned her head and gazed back at the occupants of the cell. Her eyes promptly fell on Max’s appalling form. Her mind, fuzzy with exhaustion, whispered his name in a broken manner, and the restrained sob echoed within her mind. Slowly, Max’s head began to rise, and his ocher colored eyes seemed to meet and focus on her through the thick, double-sided mirror.

Liz gasped and pushed herself away from the glass as if it had scorched her. Was he looking at her? Did he know she was there? “Liz?” Daniel asked, his voice holding more than just a little concern. “Are you all right?” He reached for her, and Liz automatically pulled away. Her stomach revolted and she raced out of the lab and into the abandoned halls.

She didn’t get very far before she collapsed to her knees in defeat. One arm curled around her queasy midriff as her other arm braced her weight. Liz could no longer restrain herself; she heaved violently. Nothing exited her stomach, however, she has been overwhelmed with too much stress to eat. Yet, the heaves kept coming, one right after the other, gagging her in an attempt to leave her body.

“Liz,” Daniel’s voice made her want to cringe. Suddenly, he and Dr. Cornwell flanked her. Daniel looped an arm around her shoulders and gently pulled her back into the crook of his arm. She was much too fatigued to try and avoid his touch, so instead lay limply in her enemy’s embrace.

His hand gingerly touched her cheeks and her forehead with the smooth pads of his fingertips as he checked her condition. “Liz,” His whispered query brushed at the hair near her ear. “Can you stand?”

Liz made an ill attempt to nod; yet she made no effort to do so. After a moment, Liz was then helped to her feet. Daniel turned her in his arms and tipped her chin up to meet his gaze. He noted the ghastly white expression on her face, and he frowned with unease. “What happened? Are you all right?”

“I –,” She swallowed past the lump in her throat and gently shook her head. The slight movement caused pain to spread like a starburst throughout her skull, and her expression showed it. “I was just repulsed is all.” Her answer couldn’t have been truer.

Daniel nodded sympathetically. “I understand,” He consoled and tucked a few of her silky tendrils behind her ear. “I wasn’t sure if you’d feel be ready to see something like that. I knew you’d feel the same way as I do,” He paused again and contemplated the situation. “Maybe I should assign you to a different case.”

“No,” Liz immediately replied, and lifted her gaze to meet his. The very thought of leaving Max and the others alone with the people she worked for was too frightening. “No, it won’t happen again.”

Daniel smiled softly at her. “Liz, I admire your stamina, but it’s obvious that this is too much for you. I’m going to assign you to –“

“No!” She insisted fiercely this time. “I’ve never quit anything in my life, and I won’t start with this. If you pull me from this case I will never forgive you.”

Her last statement seemed to have more of an effect than her vehement desire to continue working. Nevertheless, Daniel frowned.

“I have to finish this.” Liz said later, once her composure had returned to her.

With a tired sigh, he nodded, and tucked a strand of her wayside hair behind the shell of her ear. “If it’s what you want,” He finally conceded, but gave her a stern look. “But not today. Go home, Liz. Get some rest, and you can come back in a day or so.”

“Tomorrow.” Liz insisted, and Daniel nodded reluctantly.

“Tomorrow,” He looked over his shoulder then, and met Dr. Cornwell’s gaze. “You’ll handle everything without her?”

The doctor nodded. “Things can wait until she’s well again.” As if to give Liz some measurement of assurance, Cornwell smiled benignly at her.

Liz tried to return the gesture, but she knew it came as more of a grimace than anything else. She felt drained, as if every ounce of her strength and been taken from her. And all she wanted to do was go home and fall asleep. She felt Daniel grip her chin between his fingers once more and was forced to meet his steely gaze.

“I’ll have someone drive you home.” He informed her, authority reeking in his tone.

Liz managed to shake her head just slightly. “I can manage –“

Ethan Heitzmann’s trim figure darted from out of the control room just down the hallway. His eyes were wide, and a light sheen of sweat gleamed his face.

“Sir,” He forced out on a breathless whisper, his gaze fixated on Pierce. “Specimen 243 has gone beserk –“

If he had anything else to add to the statement, he couldn’t have possibly gotten any further, for Pierce and Cornwell had already darted into the laboratory. Liz remained rooted in spot for one terrifying moment, before she finally gained control over her frozen appendages, and raced into the lab after them.

She halted the moment she entered and was offered a clear view of Specimen 243, with his fists pounding ruthlessly against the pane of glass, causing it to quiver with the force of the impact. Max.

Liz covered her mouth and stepped away, her back coming flush against the wall behind her. Max’s hair was perpetually disheveled, and his light eyes gleamed with angry ferocity. They seemed to penetrate the dark glass and bore right into hers.

“Get in there and sedate him! Now!” Pierce’s orders barely registered as Liz continued to gaze at the man behind the glass.

She contained a sob – just barely – as two uniformed techies burst into the cell, tasers in hand. She watched in agony as Max’s body jerked with the searing pain of electricity coursing through his veins. And Liz swore, she could feel it too.

As the men continued to break Max down with the ruthless shocks, Liz silently left the room and didn’t look back.

<center>* * *</center>

He collapsed to the floor, his chest heaved with the effort of his laborious breathing. He was too tired, much too tired from the last time he had tried to overcome them.

Just barely he felt the tiny twinge of pain as they injected him with a needle. Moments later, he felt the burning sensation of the serum flooding his veins.

He had felt her – sensed her as if she had been standing in the very room with him, though he knew, unconsciously, that that was impossible.

But for a fleeting second, all he could think about was getting to her, of leaving this hell behind and finding the loving comfort within her embrace. She had thought of him, it was the only explanation, for their connection had been severed for nearly more than a decade. But for just a moment he had crossed her mind.

As his eyes slowly began to drift shut, Max’s last conscious thought was of Liz. She’s safe.

<center>* * *</center>

“So, how about it?”

Maria jerked her head up, her green eyes bleary from trying to focus on the slide through a microscope. She blinked several times until finally, Kurt Haines came into focus. Slightly panicked, Maria tried to recall his question.

Kurt smiled knowingly. “I asked if you wanted to grab a bite to eat after your shift.”

Oooh, right. She vaguely remembered him asking that, and she had thought she answered.

“I’m sorry, Kurt, I really can’t,” She murmured and leaned down again to inspect some tissue samples for the recent death ruled as a homicide. “I have some errands I need to run.” Those errands consisted of last minute purchases for the house. She saw some really cute window curtains on sale that she just had to get. Afterwards, she planned on spending the rest of the night on the couch, binging on junk food and sappy romance movies. It was going to be a good night.

Kurt was silent, and the only hint that he hadn’t left the room, was the gentle sound of his breathing. Maria lifted her head once more, and peered into the guarded gaze of the handsome police detective before her. “Kurt,”

His name on her lips seemed to draw him from his reverie, and he smiled widely at her. “Maybe another time then?” He suggested hopefully.

Maria smiled softly. “Maybe.” Though she knew it would never happen.

Kurt grinned at her; his ruggedly handsome features momentarily making Maria want to change her mind. And then he turned towards the door.

“Don’t work too hard, DeLuca.” He ordered good naturedly, and then slipped from the room.

Silence fell upon the room; the quiet is what she relished in when she was working, but today it seemed to suffocate her. It gave her too much opportunity to think about things other than her work, and she didn’t need that right now.

Maria sighed and stepped away from the table, taking a few breaths in order to calm her nerves. If she didn’t focus, she wouldn’t get anything accomplished tonight. She just needed a few moments of peace, to clear her head and regain her balance…

The moment her eyes fluttered shut, her beeper went off. Its annoying shrill alert made Maria’s teeth grind together and her fists clench convulsively at her sides.

She just wanted one day –one day – without any interruptions, with no pages asking for her opinion on another case. One of these days she’s gonna through the stupid device out of her moving car…

Angrily, she plucked her beeper from where it was attached to her waist, and peered at the numbers on screen. And her heart leaped into her throat.

“Oh, shit.”

<center>* * *</center>

“So, what’s your favorite scary movie?”

Rian rolled her eyes behind her darkly tinted sunglasses, and silently asked herself why she had asked such a lame question. She could have easily thought of a different question to ask to focus this guy’s attention off of the room’s occupants. For the past three hours she has been sitting on the hard marbled floor of the First National Bank in Phoenix, trying to convince a guy with a shotgun not to blow off the heads of twenty-some innocent people.

Hmm, deja vu.

The sickly thin man eyed her warily. His lean face glimmered with sweat, and his thinning, dark hair stuck for his cheeks and forehead. He looked about ready to fall over, and Rian secretly hoped he would. It would save her and the SWAT guys waiting outside a lot of extra trouble.

“Can you just, please, shut up?” The man finally asked her.

Rian didn’t allow herself to get too angry, instead she stretched her legs out, feeling the muscle pull, and she sighed. “Nope,” She finally answered after a moment. “No can do, my friends tell me I’m a chatter box.”

That’s a lie.

“But what I can do is help you get what you want,” She continued, for he had yet to make any demands. “What is it that you want, Mr. -?” Rian trailed off so he could fill in the blank.

He seemed reluctant to answer a first, but then he swallowed, his thick Adam’s apple bobbing with the action. “Castle.” He answered and then turned his head, as if it were too much to look at her.

Now she was getting somewhere. “Well, Mr. Castle,” She began, and tried to convert her naturally rough tone into a softer, gentler tone. “Why don’t you let me help you?”

Mr. Castle shook his head, his dark eyes solemn and filled with an emotion Rian couldn’t identify with. Pain. “You can’t help me.” He whispered mournfully.

Great. She was quite possibly had a suicide on her hands. It looked like she’d have to call in the SWAT anyway.

“Why don’t you let me try?” She suggested, a part of her not wanting to give in so easily – despite the numbness in her ass, and the annoying, soft sobs of the hostages. “I can get you whatever you want.”

Now, Mr. Castle’s eye filled with rage, as he fixed his gaze on her, and with it the gun. “Can you get me my wife back?”

Danger signs started popping up in her head; a negotiator never says “no”, but how is she supposed to respond to that? Right now, she knew that her Lieutenant, and the SWAT members were milling about in preparation to bust in. With the bug attached to her shirt, they knew of every word spoken.

In an effort to give them some time, Rian gave Mr. Castle an apologetic look. “I’m sorry about your loss.”

The boom reverberated loudly in the large room. Vaguely, Rian heard the screams of the hostages over the ringing in her ears. For a fleeting moment, she wondered if she were shot; rarely someone feels the impact of the bullet as it strikes the body.

When Rian opened her eyes, Mr. Castle was rooted on the spot, ceiling debris littering the floor all around him. His shotgun was pointed upwards, his finger on the trigger. The good news was she wasn’t shot. The bad news was he still looked ready to shoot. The ultra bad news was that in any moment the doors could be knocked down and lots of other guys with guns will enter. It’s just a bad situation all around.

Castle’s eyes gleamed with fierce malice as he eyed her. “If I hear one more apology,” He began slowly, his mouth twisting into a sneer. Rian vaguely wondered where the weary, quietly nervous man she had spent the past few hours with had gone. “Just one more, I’m going to shoot someone.”

Was it sick that the first thing that she thought to do was apologize?

Rian bit her tongue in order to keep from uttering something that would make things worse. Instead, she nodded. “No sweat,” She managed, and she lifted a knee to prop her arm on as she casually leaned against the wall. “I bet you hear it all the time, and no doubt it drives you crazy.”

Whoops, negotiators shouldn’t say “crazy” either. Ah, hell, she wasn’t a conventional negotiator anyway.

“Now, listen, Mr. Castle, I’m trying to help you okay?” She knew that time was running out, and if she didn’t get him to give up the gun and subdued soon, that would be just one more failed negotiation attempt on her file. “But what you did just now put up a lot of red flags for my superiors outside to see. This is not good. They were more than just a little worried by now, and when that happens, they begin to lose their patience.”

And so does she.

“Now if you’ll just –“

“I’m not doing anything until I speak to the bank manager.” Castle informs her evenly.

Rian suppressed a sigh. “Mr. Castle, I’ve already told you that Mr. Schlag is out of town. He can’t be reached.” Another lie. Mr. Schlag was outside worrying about his employees. It was too dangerous to get him involved.

“He killed my wife,” His eyes glazed over, and his grip tightened on the weapon. “He wouldn’t loan me the money. I explained the circumstance; I swore I’d pay the money back.”

It was her last chance; she could practically feel the climax of the situation building. “Mr. Castle –“

Chaos detonated around her. The glass doors exploded, sending tiny shards inward. The SWAT team burst through the same time Rian jumped to her feet and lunged towards Mr. Castle. She didn’t know if she reacted in an effort to protect her co-workers from being shot, or to protect him. Nevertheless, she had successfully knocked him down, sending the gun clattering across the thick, marble floor. She pressed her weight against him, using her force to subdue him until they were able to apprehend him with cuffs.

Her eyes fell on him, and for a moment her chest clenched painfully. Mr. Castle’s dark brown eyes were brimmed with tears, and his face was crumpled in agony. Rian almost rolled off of him and away, but training made her stay.

Finally, Castle was cuffed and taken away. Rian brushed off debris from her person and turned to exit the building. She had just reached the destroyed doors when she heard her name. When she turned, she saw Kyle jogging after her, decked in his black swat uniform, and rifle in hand.

“You did all you could, Rian, don’t beat yourself up over it.” He told her.

“I’m not,” She answered and scrubbed her face wit tired hands. “I just want to hurry up and file the report, and then go home.”

Kyle nodded. “Fine, but not in that order.”

Confused, Rian arched an eyebrow at him, and silently asked for him to elaborate.

Kyle dug out his beeper and handed it to her. “We were paged when you were inside. We have to head to Liz’s after we’ve filed the reports.”

Rian gripped his beeper and stared down at the numbers. Then, she glanced and Kyle and quickly gauged his reaction, before looking back at the beeper.

549-2727. Liz-ASAP

<center>* * *</center>

Maria had just pulled up to the apartment complex as Alex sprinted out the double doors, shrugging into a lightweight jacket. She barely slowed as he leapt into the vehicle, and then she was off again.

“Rian and Kyle maybe late. They’re stuck writing up reports for an incident that happened earlier.” Maria immediately said as she maneuvered her way back into traffic.

“What do you think it is?” Alex asked, and tossed a sidelong glance in Maria’s direction.

The look she returned to him told him what he already knew. It was them.

Alex swallowed and fell silent. It was too heady. It was too hard to believe. Was this really happening? He rolled down the window to allow the air to filter through the car that had suddenly become stiflingly hot. He couldn’t believe it, because it didn’t seem possible.

Had he ever truly believed that they would find them? That they would return, or much less find themselves held prisoner in Liz’s Unit? Alex shook his head as if to clear the cobwebs. It seemed so surreal. Crazy.

But here it was…

“Wait a minute,” Alex interrupted his own thought process. “How do we know that it is what it is? We don’t, Maria. And we have to quit jumping to conclusions.”

Maria tossed an appalled gaze in his direction. “What else could it be, Alex?” She asked him and almost went off into her spiel about how she “knows it’s them” before she was interrupted.

“Maybe it’s Liz gathering us all together to tell us it’s not them? Maybe? Do you think?” He suggested sarcastically.

Maria’s silence gave him a few moments to gather his wits. He was just tired of getting his hopes up, and since Maria was perpetually filled with it, he rarely had a moment when he didn’t have them up. Curse Maria for having that affect on him.

“Alex,” Maria uttered softly, and Alex looked at her. He noted her strained face, her clenched fists on the steering wheel, and he knew she was restraining herself. “You can believe what you want, but I’m telling you – it’s them,” She risked taking her eyes off the road to fix him with a brief but pointed stare. “I know it like I know my heart is beating. There is no way it can’t be them, Alex,” She sighed, and looked as if she were ready to fall asleep. “You’ll see.” Maria finished on a whisper.

Alex leaned his head back, and allowed his eyes to drift shut. In his head, he was whispering a mantra:

Please.

<center>* * *</center>

Inside the safety of her home, she paced like a caged animal. No one could see her; no sounds could penetrate the walls. She was safe from the outside world, free to shiver, and moan, and cry until she was exhausted. And she was doing just that.

Her cheeks were streaked with perpetual tears, and her hands shook as she chafed her arms in an ill-attempt to ward off the sudden chill. Her ever-faithful companions paced right along with her, moaning and whimpering along with her in distress.

Liz collapsed to her knees, her stomach heaving violently once more.

Finally, she stood and stumbled to the kitchen. She reached for the roll of paper towels and pulled, and kept pulling. She returned to the living room with a trail of paper towels behind her, still connected to the roll. Again, she dropped to her knees and draped the paper across the mess. At the sight, her stomach twisted and she forced herself away. She could feel her face contorting in agony as she fought the tears and the throaty sob.

When would they get here? She needed them.

Liz continued to back away, pushing with her legs, and pulling with her arms until she bumped into the partition that separated her living room from her kitchen. With it supporting her upright, Liz drew her knees to her chest and wrapped her arms tightly around them, hugging herself.

The tears continued like a never-ending rush. Her stomach still ached from not having eaten in days, for having regurgitated so much. Her head ached and pounded in painful proportions. Her heart ached and clenched at the memory of Max – her Max – being abused in that white room.

So much white. And then a splash of red.

Liz fiercely closed her eyes, knowing that it was her imagination. Her mind was concocting scenarios of what it would be like for him if she didn’t get him out soon. Experiments, studies, scalpels, needles. They would slice at his flesh until they saw inside of him.

Liz had already seen inside of him – she had seen his soul – and that was something she didn’t want anyone else to see.

Another sob escaped her throat, and she buried her face into her knees, silently calling out for her friends to hurry.

And then she heard her dogs' low growls. Her head shot up, but it took a moment for her to detect it. Tires on the gravel, growing louder as they entered her driveway.

She jumped up and raced towards the door. It could be anyone, the FBI or even Pierce himself, but she didn’t care. She wasn’t going to be alone anymore.

Liz had just wrenched the door open when Maria stepped on the porch. Her friend was immediately alarmed by the tears streaking down her face that she pulled Liz into her embrace.

“What’s wrong?” Maria all but yelled and glanced over Alex to make sure he was coming. He ran across the drive and leapt onto the porch just in time to hear another pained sob escape from Liz.

“Oh, Jesus,” He muttered and began to push at Maria. “Get her inside.”

Together they ushered the broken Liz over the threshold and into the safety of the house. She still remained trapped in Maria’s tight embrace, and she seemed to want to bury herself closer. “Liz, sweetie,” Maria forced out past the growing lump in her throat. She pushed her glossy brown locks out of the way and tried to peer into her face. “What’s wrong, babe, what happened?”

Are they dead? She wanted to ask, but bit her tongue in an effort to do so. Maria didn’t know if she’d be able to handle it if they were. Please.

“Just sit down, Liz,” Alex coaxed and gently eased her little by little out of Maria’s arms. “Sit down and I’ll get you something to drink, okay?”

Slowly, Liz was eased into the soft cushions of the couch. Her eyes were puffy and rimmed with red, and her cheeks shiny from the tears. After he saw her seated, Alex rounded the couch and headed towards the kitchen. He noticed the trail of paper towels leading from a moist spot on the hardwood and into the kitchen.

“Liz?” He asked, once he had turned and regard her.

Liz looked over her shoulder, and then at the spot on the floor. Her cheeks flushed and her eyes fell downward. “I vomited.” She answered meekly.

“Oh, God.” Alex mumbled and entered the kitchen. If something had happened to make her lose control to that extent…

“I’ll clean it up for you, sweetie,” Maria told her, and tucked a few strands her dark hair behind her ear. Her thoughts were headed in the same direction as Alex’s. “Just sit tight, and I’ll be right back.”

Liz nodded mutely and continued to stare a hole into the floor.

Maria darted into the kitchen for some disinfectant spray just as Alex was pulling a glass from the cupboard.

“Oh, God, Alex,” She whispered fretfully, and glanced worriedly at her broken friend on the couch. “What do you think happened?”

Alex shook his head as he began to fill the glass with water from the tap. “I don’t know,” He whispered, and suddenly felt ill equipped to handle this situation. He couldn’t think. Then, he lifted his gaze and stared at Maria. “Call Rian,” Came his soft order. “Tell her to hurry.”



When Rian and Kyle entered the house, Liz was still a quivering mass on the couch. Maria was just finishing cleaning up the mess on the floor, and Alex was coaxing Liz to take the last few sips of water.

Maria had called Rian when they were but a few minutes from Liz’s. Rian had easily sped up the reporting process with a swipe of her hand, and then they had burned rubber straight out of town; courtesy to her super cool, flashing cop lights.

Whatever they had expected hadn’t been this. Rian had never, in the decade or so in which she had known her, seen Liz in this state of condition. For the longest time she had idolized Liz, feeding off her strength and yearning to be like her – to be human. And here she was, shaking and crying on the couch, her friend’s arms wrapped around her.

Rian’s heart broke.

Kyle was at Liz’s side before Rian had even taken her first step. He crooned reassuringly into her hair, rubbing a trail up and down her back, and bringing her comfort. Rian gave them a moment, and ventured over to Maria. Her hands shook as she wadded up the paper, and her green eyes were rooted on Liz.

“What happened?” Rian asked coolly. It was important for someone to remain in control in this situation.

Maria shook her head, and sent her already disarray blonde locks to bouncing. “I don’t know. We couldn’t get anything out of her.”

Rian looked back at Liz and wasn’t surprised. In her current state it would be a miracle if they could get anything out of her after a couple of hours. And she knew they couldn’t wait that long.

Making up her mind, Rian entered the living room and sat on the coffee table facing Liz. She took her friend’s slender hands in her own and began to rub them. “Liz?” She asked, and watched as her brown eyes met her – vacant, devoid of all emotions. “Can you talk about it?”

Almost imperceptibly, Liz shook her head. Rian muttered a curse.

“It’s okay, honey,” Kyle soothed and kissed the top of her head again. “We can wait. Just relax.”

“No,” Rian uttered quietly, and three sets of eyes were promptly fixed on her. “It can’t wait.”

“What do you mean?” Alex demanded, not at all liking the thought of Liz being forced to do anything. “Can’t you see that she is in no state to talk right now? Something happened to her, Rian.”

“I know,” She answered, and convulsively squeezed her friend’s hands. “Which is why we have to find out what it was. Now.”

“No,” Kyle said this time with a firm and adamant shake of his head. “We’re not forcing her. I don’t want her hurt.”

“And I do?” Rian asked incredulously, undoubtedly expressing just how appalled the idea made her. “Fuck off, Valenti.” They were close, which made it so easy for him to make her mad.

“After you, Kellar.” He sneered.

Rian was just about to stand when Maria interjected. “Guys, she’s right.” Being that the only other she in the room was nearly incapacitated, everyone knew who Maria had sided with.

“How in the hell do you figure?” Kyle challenged, his gaze never leaving Rian’s.

“Something could be seriously wrong,” Maria explained what Rian hadn’t had the chance to. “And we have to find out what that is. One of us may be in danger; Liz may be in danger.”

“She’s not ready.” Kyle said through gritted teeth. When it came to his family, he was as fierce as a bulldog.

“I’m not going to force her, Kyle,” Rian explained on an exasperated sigh. “All I need to do is take a peek – “

“A peek?” Alex questioned, his dark brows arching high. “At what?”

“At what she saw today,” She elaborated. “I’ll connect with her, see what it is that’s bothering her, and be done with it,” On an afterthought, she added with her eyes locked on Kyle. “It’s painless.”

Kyle appeared to be ready to object again, when Maria interrupted. “Let her do it, guys,” She insisted quietly. “We have to know.”

After a moment of hesitation, Kyle and Alex silently lift Liz’s side, neither of them happy to do so. Rian sighed and continued to slowly rub her hands against Liz’s, creating a soothing friction. All the while her eyes never left the brown emptiness of Liz’s.

Maria, Alex, and Kyle watched in silence. They didn’t notice the subtle way in which Rian and Liz’s eyes glazed over, or how they breathing became synchronized. A moment later it was over, and Rian stood from the table.

Curious as to why it took so little time, and what she saw, Kyle stepped forward, his hands bracing the back of the couch. “What did you see?” He questioned impatiently, his gaze falling on Liz.

Rian gently pushed Liz back into the cushions and then draped the afghan over her limp form. Finally, with a touch of Rian’s fingers to her temple, Liz’s eyes drifted shut and she fell into a sleep.

It was only then did Rian turn to face her three friends. Each of them held question in their eyes, and fear. She didn’t see any point in putting it off any longer. So, she answered.

“It’s them.”


Okay, so this part isn't really all that eventful, but the next half will be - I promise. ;) *hint, hint*

Watch for it sometime Tuesday!

Thanks!

TBC!

Raychel
Last edited by Raychelxluscious on Mon May 09, 2005 5:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
writing is a socially accepted form of schizophrenia

Roswell, New Mexico S1 Watch Party

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Raychelxluscious
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Post by Raychelxluscious » Tue May 10, 2005 8:25 pm

Hey folks, as promised, I've returned with a new part. But first:

Happy Birthday, Sarah*Marie & Erin!!!!!

I love you! (Guys, be sure to wish my girls a happy bday. ;))

Oh, and I can't forget: Happy End of Finals Day, Nichole! You're my girl too. ;)

I would like to thank you all for the awesome feedback. I am so glad you enjoyed the first half, especially since it was more or less a transition piece. And I am also pleased that you guys were so touched by Liz's little break down. I've written her off as tough in this fic, with the exception of a few occasions (but who wouldn't be freaked out by a guy like Pierce?). And I just really wanted you guys to see that she's still Liz. Beneath the stony facade, she's there - as was clearly conveyed during her break down. So, I'm glad you guys liked it. ;)

Just a comment or two:

coley452 wrote:
oh, and about the safe return of your dog... well lets just say that your dog and my dog have gotten a little friendly with each other and I'm not so sure that Spot will let me give 'em back... :?
Heh heh. I should have known it was you. ;) You had out pitchforks AND still my dog. Oh, you're evil. :-P
LittleHottie510 wrote:I know Sofia was givin you fits the other day... *sigh* But, good news on that front! Paris text messaged me (My muse is apparently scared of me, and didn't wanna call and risk having to talk to me...) and guess what?! She stole Sofia away for a shopping excursion! :roll: I scolded her, and told her to return Sofia to you ASAP! So, be on the look out!!!
Ugh! Shopping with Sofia? Boning with Alex's Charlie? What is WRONG with my muse?! She doesn't have her priorities straight obviously. This is the last straw - I'm either going to return her to the Muse Store or send her to Muse Boot Camp. Argh!

...Here's the next part, folks. ;)


<center>Part Nine – B
* * *</center>

“Liz,” Daniel’s voice halted her determined step, and she turned to regard her boss with unwavering eyes. He stepped towards her, a file in hand, and he smiled softly. “I was hoping you’d stay home today.”

Liz arched an eyebrow at him, and stared in incredulity. “I said I’d be here today,” She told him coolly. “I meant it.”

“I know you did, but still,” His hand reached out and stroked her cheek, feeling the softness of her flesh. “You’re awfully pale. I really wish you had stayed home today. You need the rest.”

Gently, but without masking the force behind it, Liz removed his hand from her face. “I’ve rested enough.” She said evenly. And she had. After that embarrassing display of an emotional break down in front of her friends, Liz had slept like the dead. She suspected she had Riannan to thank for that. In any case, she was ready to come back to work, and nothing was going to stop her.

“I’m ready to get back to work now,” Liz added, when Daniel seemed convinced otherwise. “I assume Dr. Cornwell is waiting for me.”

Liz had made it a statement rather than a question, but look that crossed his features made her uneasy.

“Actually, Dr. Cornwell is prepping for the tests right now.”

Panic succumbed her, and she nearly darted down the hallway and into the lab. “But I was under the impression that the tests would wait until my return.” She was careful with the tone of her voice. Her anger didn’t need to be displayed at this particular moment.

“Some things can’t wait.” Daniel answered with a shrug.

Liz took a deep breath to keep herself from strangling her supervisor. “I said would return today. You couldn’t wait until I had arrived?” She asked and turned on her heel to continue her brisk trek down the corridor.

Daniel fell in step beside of her; he towered over her by a good foot, and Liz struggled not to feel smothered. “There is no need to get testy, Liz,” He told her with a chuckle. “I wouldn’t have allowed them to start the good stuff without you.”

The good stuff. Liz nearly halted at his chosen words. Instead, she continued her walk in silence. She had a general idea of what the good stuff entailed, and that was slicing and dicing.

She definitely didn’t want to be apart of that.

Liz’s chest constricted at the thought. She didn’t want anyone to be apart of that.

They reached the lab in record time. Philip had just completed donning a white, bio-hazard body suit, and held the mask in hand.

“Elizabeth!” He exclaimed, obviously perplexed. “I hadn’t expected you today.”

“Yes,” She murmured and risked a sideways glance at Pierce. “That seems to be the consensus.”

Again, Daniel chuckled. “Liz is a little perturbed to hear that you were going to start without her.” He explained.

Philip smiled endearingly at her, his light eyes twinkling. “Now, my dear, you know I wouldn’t have started the good stuff without you.”

And again with the good stuff. Liz was becoming excessively uneasy, yet her stone resolve prohibited her from expressing it.

“But now that you are here, what do you say we get started?” Philip suggested, and then produced another white suit. “Put this on, dear, and we’ll be on our way.”

Liz accepted the suit, and the moment she did, the severity – the reality – of the moment struck her. Her friends really were in the next room, being held captive by the people she worked with.

And until she got them out, she’d be just another hand holding the scalpel…

<center>* * *</center>

It was swelteringly hot in the suit. She fidgeted uncomfortably, pealing the plastic suit away from her moistened skin. She could hear her deep breathing echo inside of her mask, and it was loud enough to slowly drive her insane. How could Philip stand this?

Lots of experience was the first thing that popped into her mind.

Liz suppressed a sigh and waited impatiently for it to begin. The blinding white of the padded walls hurt her eyes. They were too bright, too bare. But then, this was a cell; it wasn’t meant for comfort or to be pleasing to the eye. The room itself was a torture device. Devoid of color and pattern, it would be sure to drive even the most stable person insane.

It was already working on her.

Liz fidgeted fretfully and waited with a nervous stomach for the specimens to be brought in. Or maybe it was only one. Dr. Cornwell hadn’t been very specific on what was going on, which left Liz to her imagination. And she had a good imagination.

She felt her stomach twist, and she momentarily wondered if she was going to throw up again. It wouldn’t look very professional if she did, so she struggled to keep the bile from rising any farther in her throat.

Oh, God, she wasn’t ready. She needed a few moments to herself, to breathe and gather her wits. She didn’t want to do this.

“You ready, Elizabeth?” Dr. Cornwell asked her, and her eyes snapped open. She hadn’t even realized she’d shut them.

After a moments hesitation, Liz forced out a meek response. “Yes.”

Liz didn’t see Philip give a curt nod to the man, donned in the same white suit, across the white room, but she heard the wall open, and immediately her eyes zoned in on the target. Her mind exploded into a maelstrom of fear, and she prayed – like she hadn’t prayed before – Please don’t let it be, Max.

“Dr. Cornwell,” The techie’s Dark Vadar-esque voice boomed. “Specimen 242.” Her heart plummeted, not when she saw him, but when she heard his identification number.

A sob nearly escaped her throat, and she wanted to crumble to the floor again and cry until her eyes wouldn’t open – not ever. He was so much different than she remembered; the look she had been awarded the other day had been brief.

He staggered inside from the force of the techie’s shove, and he collapsed to his knees, his muscles of his arm bunching as he caught his weight. His dark brown hair hung over his eyes; the eyes she hadn’t seen in so long. He reached up with one hand and combed his hair out of his face and lifted his head. Successfully giving his tormentors a clear view of his face. His anger. His pain.

Michael.

Liz had to force herself to remain in her spot, to not run to his aide when the men in white dragged him to his feet. She couldn’t give herself – or her intentions – away, not when she was this close.

Moments later, another crew of techs entered the room, this time wheeling in a metal gurney. Liz’s throat constricted and her blood ran cold at the sight.

“Strap him to the table.” Cornwell ordered calmly, his voice booming inside of Liz’s head. The words evoked such fear in her, that she was certain Michael had felt the same.

Yet to her surprise, Michael didn’t struggle; he didn’t even flinch. But God, she wanted him to. She wanted him to yell and twist and swing a few punches, if it only meant that one of the men would get decked. But she knew, as well a he, that the effort would be futile. He would be put on that gurney – awake or not.

Michael was strapped to the table with ease, and was promptly approached my Dr. Cornwell. Liz remained in her spot, unable to demand her appendages to function. She watched as Philip peered down at Michael, and as Michael returned the man’s stare, though he couldn’t see, unwaveringly.

When he finally noticed her not at his side, Philip turned his head, and through the impenetrable tint of his mask, Liz could feel his inquiring gaze.

“Agent?”

She swallowed, and finally took a step forward, but not without having her body break out in another sweat. She didn’t want to be doing this. She didn’t want to be involved. This was Michael; Maria’s Michael, if she found out…

“Would you administer the serum, Agent?” Cornwell asked patiently, careful not to use her name, as was protocol. “He’s due for another injection.”

Before she could protest, Liz was handed a vial and a hypodermic needle. The liquid inside the vial was thick, and dark, and lethal if not used properly.

She tried to control the shaking in her hands; she tried not to let her fear and anxiety show. But this was Michael. He was her friend – or had been once. She didn’t know what he would think of her, once he found out what she’d done, what she’d been apart of.

Liz watched as the thick liquid filled the hypodermic needle, and she knew, within moments she would be injecting it into the prone man before her - so helpless. It would cause him pain. Though slight, it was more than she could bear.

Finally, she placed the needle to his arm. His skin had already been cleaned and prepped, and now all that was to be done was the injection. Liz hesitated. Not long, but it was long enough.

“Agent?” The doctor said again, more forcefully this time, and Liz knew he was mentally deducting points.

The tears she had thought she’d finished crying rolled down her cheeks as she stared at Michael. And he stared right back.

As the needle pressed past the barrier of his taunt skin, Liz silently whispered, I’m sorry.

<center>* * *</center>

Alex pressed a button on the remote, and immediately he was awarded a view of the outside perimeter. Smiling, he pressed again, and this time saw himself on screen. With a triumphant grin, he assessed that the cameras were working perfectly.

After setting the channel on some less conspicuous program, he set the remote on the table and collapsed on the couch.

Beside of him, Riannan patted him on the shoulder before taking another leisurely swig of her beer. “Nice going, Ace.”

“Why, thank you,” Alex beamed rewarded her with a smile. “I did quite well, if I do say so myself.”

Rian said nothing else, but quietly absorbed the feeling of the home she now sat in. Home. That is what they had created this place to be. It hadn’t started out that way, but that is what it had transformed itself into. The house was warm, and decorated to exude a welcoming and homey feel. She never wanted to leave.

And as it was, she rarely did. Neither did the others.

The house had become quite a place of get-togethers for the crew. They talked, but not about the most pressing of matters. They knew what purpose the house would serve soon – very soon – but they didn’t want to taint it with too much discussion of it. Not just yet, they had plenty of time for that later.

The house was now completely finished, and had been for several days. The rooms were all painted and furnished. The cellar had been insulated, the security equipment installed, and the tunnel built and secured. The shed out back was now the proud habitat to a small utility vehicle, but everyone would be happy if it were never to be used.

The kitchen cupboards were filled with dishes and utensils; the fridge stocked with food.

The house was complete, and even had a family to go with it.

Rian grinned and looked over at Alex. Kyle and Maria were in the kitchen arguing over what to cook for supper. They were the family.

With a sigh, Rian kicked off her shoes and, after a careful look in the direction of the kitchen, she propped her feet up on the table – wary of Maria’s ever watchful gaze. With another wry grin, Alex followed suit. Together, they sat in companionable silence.

After several moments of peaceful quiet, Alex spoke, “Do you think,” He began slowly, as if reluctant to ask his question. “We’ll still come here as often when they’re here?”

Rian didn’t need to ask whom he meant, for she had often thought of the same thing. He would, of course visit frequently, as well as Maria and Kyle, but as for her – she didn’t have a place among the others. She didn’t know them, not in this life or the one before – if she even had one. There was no need for her to hang around afterwards.

She had actually thought about leaving once they were found. She knew enough about humans, had learned plenty from being friends with them, to survive on her own. Maybe it was time to cut the umbilical cords that had been attached to Liz, Alex, Kyle, and Maria once she had finally gained enough courage to approach them. Maybe it was time to start anew.

“Sure,” She finally answered, and turned her head to smile at him. “They’ll need you.”

Alex’s brows furrowed together at her last statement. He opened his mouth to comment, when four beepers went off, one by one.

Alex was the first to look at his, and when he saw what was displayed, he knew that everyone else had received the same one.

Rian glanced at him before scooting forward and bending down to replace her shoes. In the kitchen, Kyle and Maria struggled to cease all dinner preparations.

They had all memorized the numbers – the codes Liz had strategically planned – so that they were never caught off guard.

746-8463. SHO-TIME


<center>* * *</center>

One Week later:

”When the lights go out, wait until you hear from me. The cameras won’t shut down immediately. When I give you the go, you’ll have approximately twenty minutes to get in and then get out.

Liz heeded the security cameras watching her every move no glance as she continued her brisk stroll towards the exit of the building. She continued to repeat Alex’s words in her head, over and over again, until she was certain she had every detail memorized.

”Liz, once those fifteen minutes are up, and those lights come on, the cameras will reactivate just shortly after. I won’t be able to help you from that point on – I won’t be able to see or communicate with you. That is why it’s imperative that you get out before any of that happens.”

She slipped into her vehicle and inserted her key. The engine hummed to life, and she swiftly pulled out of the parking garage, her seat belt forgotten. She’d drive onto the highway, and then take the back road to the loading entrance of the building. From there, she’d wait out of sight until she heard from Alex.

”As long as the lights and cameras are under my control, I’ll be able to guide you throughout the compound. I’ll be your eyes – I’ll see anything that you can’t. It’s going to be dark, Liz, so you have to listen to me carefully, and trust me.”

“I do,” Liz murmured to herself. She would trust Alex with her life…

”Good, cause that’s exactly what you’re doing. Now, this entire sector right here is where they are being held; it will be under major security surveillance. I’m talking guards with some heavy shit. You’ve got to be careful.”

Rian would take care of that. ”I’ve got that part under control. This is what will go down. I’ll meet you, Liz, at the loading entrance. Alex, you call me when you’re about to kill the cameras and lights…Give me one of your hand held thingies, so I can see who’s on the floor. I’ll mind warp them to report to Pierce immediately. You’ll have to delay the lockdown for a few minutes longer. Can you do that?”

“It’s risky, but I can do it. Are you okay with that, Liz? That just means that you have less time to get out, and more of a chance of getting caught………Okay, it’s settled then. This is it, guys. It’s show time.”

The trill of her cell phone broke Liz from her thoughts. She deftly reached into her brief case and pulled out her flip phone.

“Parker.”

We’re ready in five, Liz. Are you?” It was Alex, and his voice trembled with nerves.

“I will be,” She answered as she reached in the back seat for her bag of supplies. “We’ve got this, Alex. Don’t worry.”

He started to reply, but then thought against it and hung up. Liz stepped out of her car and cast a wary glance over head at the roof top structuring. Alex had assured her that any cameras would not be able to spy her at their angle of height. Having no choice but to trust his word, Liz began to strip. She kicked off her black, low-heeled pumps and shimmied out of her skirt. She then removed the gun strapped to her mid thigh and placed it on the hood of her car.

Hastily, she unzipped her bag and began pulling out items. Black cargo pants replaced her skirt, and black ankle high boots replaced her pumps. She shrugged off her black suit jacket, and then unbuttoned her white blouse and shrugged out of that as well. A black, stretch tank came from her bag, and was then pulled over her head. With a noncommittal glance to her wristwatch, Liz then tossed all of her discarded belongings into the car, slammed the door, and slung her bag over her shoulder.

Rian stepped from around the corner then. She winked at Liz, and deftly caught the car keys she tossed at her. When she’s through mind warping the guards, Rian would then shift into Liz’s form, and then drive the vehicle back to the parking garage, and attempt to reenter the compound. It was important for the cameras to get Liz on footage.

The two friends silently wished each other luck, before going their separate ways.

As Liz began walking, her body pressed closely to the compound wall, she holstered her gun to her back, made sure it was easily accessible, and then paused to strap a sheathed blade to her thigh. She threaded her fingers through her hair and pulled it into a tight ponytail at the base of her skull. Finally, she reached into the side pocket of her bag, and pulled out the earpiece and tiny microphone that would keep Alex’s voice in her head for the remainder of the mission. Finished with every preparation, she leaned against the wall and waited.

<center>* * *</center>

Alex watched the numbers slowly tick by on his monitor. The surveillance van was packed with several computer monitors and keyboards, wires, and phones, and an assortment of other equipment all needed in order to pull off their operation. He chewed restlessly at his fingernails, and spit the pieces out onto the floor.

Kyle sat in the drivers seat, one leg propped on the dash, and one arm slung around the passenger seat. His eyes were shielded with dark glasses, and his jaw was at work chewing on a yellow milk straw. At his side, leaned his SWAT rifle, ready for action. He had no authorization to go in, unless things got really out of hand, at which point he’d go through Hell and high waters to get to his friends.

More seconds had passed now and they were closer to the climax. Anxiously, Alex grabbed the slim microphone and brought it to his lips. “Okay, less than a minute, Liz, are you ready?”

Slight static, and then Liz’s muffled “Ready” drifted to his ears.

“Shit.” Alex muttered and Kyle lazily lolled his head back to regard him.

“What’s up?”

Alex cursed again and twisted some dials. “The connection is bad, and it can only get worse once she enters the building,” He grabbed the microphone again, and silently prayed. “Liz, can you hear me?”

This time there was no static. “Loud and clear. Is everything okay?

He sighed. “Everything’s fine, Liz, now just listen to me. The loading garage door will open simultaneous with the shut down of the lights. Get inside and stay close to the shadows until you hear from me again; the cameras will still be rolling,” Alex wiped at the sweat as it began to tickle his upper lip. “When I say to, run to the door at the far left. You should be able to see it once you get inside. I’ll direct you of your next move from there.”

Gotcha.

Alex leaned back in his chair, his mouth far enough away from the microphone to assure him he wouldn’t be heard, and then let out a shaky breath. His nerves were awry with unease. Please don’t let anything go wrong…

He leaned forward once again, and cleared his throat. “Okay, Liz, in five…four…three…two…”

Liz watched as the garage door began to slowly ascend. Clutching her bag, Liz then tucked and rolled through the tiny space the door had permitted. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed a red hazy light peeking through the cracks of the door Alex had informed her about. Stealthily, Liz stood and backed against the wall, and shielded herself within the shadows. Her eyes automatically scanned the area for the cameras.


Silently, Alex began to count down the seconds to himself until the cameras would fail and all images would be transferred to him. He prayed that Liz remained where she was until she heard from him again. Hurriedly, he swept his gaze over every monitor before him to make sure they were on.

“Okay, Liz,” He spoke. “The cameras will go in five… four…three…two…”

Images blinked to life on his monitors one by one, and Alex grinned triumphantly. His gaze quickly sought out Liz on the screen, and found her almost imperceptible form waiting patiently in the shadows for his further instructions.

“Now.” He ordered Liz, and then reached for the walkie-talkie at his belt clip. He brought it to his mouth and utter, “Now, Rian.”


Liz darted across the garage, her figure swift and sleek, moving like a prowling cat after prey. She reached the heavy built fire door and swung it open. A long, wide corridor was a head of her. With no other choice of path, Liz raced ahead.

“To the right will be another hallway. Take it.” Alex instructed. He took his eyes off Liz just long enough to watch the guards on the floor above Liz methodically exit the sector. He smiled. “Rian has your floor cleared. You have less than a minute to get upstairs before the doors lock. Doors are coming up on both sides; the stairs are located the second door on the left.”

Liz lengthened her stride as she hurried down the deserted hallway. When she reached the door that would lead to the staircase, she pushed through and sprinted up the steps. She took them two – sometimes three – at a time until she finished the flight and burst through the door. And then she froze. The lights were out, she couldn’t see well by the dimly lit, red emergency lights, and at this point she had no idea if anyone was still lurking around.

The cameras were equipped with night vision, and effectively saw things that Liz was incapable of seeing. Alex carefully looked over the screens.

“You’re clear, Liz,” Alex promised, his eyes effortlessly glancing the other monitors for any movement. “The doors will go into lockdown in fifteen seconds.”

Again, Alex scanned the monitors. He almost missed the door at the south end of the floor creaking open, and the two forms, donned in white, bio-hazardous suits slip through. Together, they briskly walked down the wide hallway; Alex’s gaze followed their every move, his throat tight with unease. The men – or they could be women, he supposed – turned left down another hallway.

Quickly, he checked the blueprints of the building. The east wing held laboratories and holding cells. The east wing held the specimens.

“Liz,” Alex croaked, and the tone of his voice made Liz visibly tense. “Two men slipped through the doors. They are on the other side of the floor and heading straight towards the others. You have to get to them.”

She had dutifully memorized the floor’s blueprints, and effortlessly brought it up in her mind. Overwhelmed with fear for the others, Liz blindly sprinted down the hallway, careful to stay beneath the red lights in order to guide her way to some degree.

Be my eyes, Alex.” Liz ordered as she took a sharp left.

“You got it.” He sat back in his seat, his pulse as quick and labored as his breathing. The desert sun beat down unmercifully on the van, but he doubted his perspiration came from the heat.

<center>* * *</center>

The sun was just beginning to set, and it’s rays cast a prism of beautiful hues in the desert sky. Had it been any other time, at any other moment, Maria would have found the scene captivating, even serene. Yet, as it was, her nerves were already on end, and it was impossible for her to find anything peaceful.

She sniffed heavily from the vial of Cyprus oil, and then groaned in disgust. That stuff has never worked, why has she kept using? How many brain cells has she fried? Angered, Maria threw the vial out the window of the rented black Hummer. Black vehicles were inconspicuous right? How about Hummers? When she didn’t hear the thud of the vial meeting the dirt floor outside, she whipped her head around and nearly screamed.

Rian was on the other side of the door, the vial of Maria’s sniffing oil poised upright between two fingers. “Lose something?”

“Damn it, Rian!” Maria exclaimed – the form of nickname she hated slipping past her lips - as she clutched as her chest that shielded her rapidly beating heart. “You scared the hell out of me.”

“Good,” Rian murmured and carelessly dropped the vial. “You have entirely too much of hell in you anyway.”

“What are you doing sneaking up on me like that? You know how jumpy I am!”

Rian muttered something under her breath as she scanned the horizon. The compound loomed menacingly ahead. Inside, Liz fought her way to reach the others, while Rian – probably the most capable of the entire group, even if it was simply because of her powers – waited helplessly outside.

She had just finished her part of the mission. The cameras would have brief footage of Liz in the parking garage, heading for the entrance before they went out. When the footage would be reviewed later, hopefully it’ll divert any suspicion there may be from her. Liz. Her best friend.

Liz had been the one who helped her associate with the few human emotions Rian was capable of feeling. Right now, Liz was associating her with anxiety, and she mildly wondered if she were capable of developing an ulcer.

Obviously in tuned with her thoughts, Maria sighed shakily. “Do you think she’s all right?”

Rian turned and rested her hip against the car door. “Yeah, she’s fine. I just wish I were in there with her.”

Maria nodded her agreement, and stared feebly at the building. “It would make me feel better if you were in there with her.”

Quietly, she straightened and fixed the facility with one last look. “Yeah.” Rian muttered incoherently as she pushed away from the vehicle and departed.

<center>* * *</center>

“How’s it going?” Kyle languidly asked from the front seat after a few minutes of silence.

“Oh, it’s swell,” Alex murmured sarcastically, and leaned forward again. Jesus, he couldn’t handle this kind of pressure.

He divided his attention between Liz as she raced through the maze of the compound, and the two men slowly making their way to the cell where they were being held. Isabel. Alex closed his eyes for just the briefest of moments, and pictured her smiling face. It was too difficult to envision her as she must be now. Scared and helplessly, defenseless against her enemies. Liz would rescue her, and once she did, Alex would shower Isabel with all the love he was capable of possessing.

When he opened his eyes again, the two men had stopped, and Liz was rapidly gaining on them.

“Stop,” Alex suddenly ordered, and Liz obediently complied. She was just around the corner. He watched carefully as the two men talked amongst each other.

I hear them,” Liz whispered, and was immediately hushed. Quietly, she strained to hear what was being said, but couldn’t make it out. By the terse orders one man was giving, she deduced that it was Sampson, but it was anyone’s guess who the other guy was.

Then, the two men departed. One walked through a door to his left. When Alex checked the blueprints, a large crimson X marked the room. His hand shook as he brought the mike to his lips.

“One of them entered the Cell X,” He informed Liz, even as he dutifully followed the other man’s progression. “This other guy…It looks like he’s heading into the supply room on the right.”

Carefully, Liz turned and poked her head around the corner. The white of the men’s uniform was like a beacon in the almost sheer darkness. The man’s garb would glow an eerie red every time he passed beneath the emergency lights.

Liz looked away, and pressed herself up against the wall. Obviously, Pierce had sent the men. They would reach Max and the others, sedate them, and remove them to a more secure sector of the building. One she probably didn’t know of and wasn’t revealed on the prints. Of course, Pierce wouldn’t want his beloved specimens to fall into the wrong hands.

She heard the slight creak of the door as it opened and the man slipped inside. Alex was silent in her ear, and she took the moment to think. It was important to get to the others before they were moved. But Liz couldn’t get inside their cell with the other with the other guy waiting for his accomplice’s return.

Unless…

Alex watched with a horrified expression as Liz stepped from around the corner and began to make her way towards the supply room.

“Liz! What the hell are you doing?”

The van shook violently as Kyle vaulted over the seats and landed behind Alex. “What happened?” He asked breathlessly, as his eyes shifted over the many screens before him until he found Liz.

Together, they watched as she silently crept her way inside.

“Damnit!” Alex yelled, and then cursed a bit more viciously under his breath. “There are no cameras in that room! I can’t see what the hell is going on!”

“What’s she –?“

“Sh!” Alex hushed before Kyle could finish his thought and pressed tightly to his headphones to listen carefully. He had thought he heard something, and silently prayed to hear it again. And then he did. A rustling of coarse fabric, then a sickening snap, followed by soft thump. Terrified, Alex heaved in a couple of breaths. “Liz?”

Silence.

“Oh, Jesus,” He murmured and pressed his hands to his face, and moaned. “Oh, God.”

“What?” Kyle asked, more demanding this time. “What the hell is going on?”

Not even the fierceness of Kyle’s voice was capable of making Alex utter his worst fear. She had to be okay. Why didn’t she answer him? “Oh, God.” He kept muttering it like a litany.

“Whitman! If you do not tell me what the hell is going on, so help me Buddha, I will –” For the second time in sixty seconds he was shushed, and he growled with anger.

Once again, Alex pressed his headphones tightly to his ears and listened. “Liz?” He tried again with renewed hope. But when silence ensued, he wanted to weep with sudden despair and anger. “Liz!”

If you do not quit yelling in my ear, I am going to abort this mission, march out there, and kick your scrawny ass, Alex!”

After a moment of stunned silence, Alex threw his arms into the air and whooped. He looked over his shoulder and Kyle and smiled gaily. “She’s all right!”

“Oh, well, that’s just terrific,” Kyle muttered and glared ceaselessly at his friend. “Especially since I have no flippin’ idea what is going on!”

“Shh!”

“Oh my God!” Kyle roared and angrily shoved his way back to his seat, sending the van once again to shaking.

Alex’s face drained of color, and he closed his eyes as he listened to Liz’s words with a sense of dread. “Okay, Liz,” He finally murmured his acquiesce – he didn’t like it, but he didn’t have to. “Just be careful. There are no cameras in the any of the rooms; I won’t be able to help you if you need me.”

I’ll be fine, Alex.” Though, her promise wasn’t very reassuring.

<center>* * *</center>

Michael stood at Max’s side as his Second in Command - always strong and dependable. Now, his body is tensed with anger as an irrevocable fear that coursed through all of their veins. Tess and Isabel, vulnerable and frightened to shivering masses, stood behind the men shielded by Michael and Max’s exposed bodies. They trembled helplessly and clung to the sturdy shoulders in front of them, their minds uttering a pleading prayer to whatever god would heed them. They had only been reunited for a few hours, and now it seems as if they’ll be separated once again.

The face of the man before them was shielded by reflective protection glass over his white mask. His body was donned in the white fabric that would defend him from any harmful agents they – as despicable aliens - could be carrying. Max’s blood boiled with fury, and he wanted nothing more than to rip the mask from his face, just to see how he would react. And then, for he was quite certain he was capable of doing so, he wanted to melt the man’s face off. He felt certain he’d enjoy every moment of it.

The man had come in seemingly unarmed. Usually they carried some kind of taser to be used to shock them into submission. If not that, they came in as a group to easily subdue them. Max carefully debated whether he and Michael should attempt to over take this lone man. But then again, it was obvious he was waiting for someone, and maybe he wasn’t unarmed after all. Maybe he was simply hiding the weapon in order to catch them off guard, and then deliver a particularly brutal blow. It’s not as if they hadn’t done it before.

Before he could react, however, the wall behind the man opened and another one entered, this one pushing a covered cart carrying the many instruments to be used for torture. The silver of the instruments they could see, and the ones shielded in the metal containers glinted under the white lights and evoked a deep fear into four, rapidly pulsing hearts.

“It’s about fucking time you got here,” Bruce Sampson’s voice was muffled behind his mask as he spoke. Yet even the stifled sound of his voice caused the girls to cringe and cower away. “Hurry up and administer the serum. I sense a bit of rowdiness tonight.” He finished and turned his faceless head back to the aliens. The sneer was evident even behind the mask, and a whimper was heard somewhere from behind Max and Michael.

Silently, the second man reached for a syringe and a vial of liquid. Max stonily watched the man’s every move, malice bubbling inside of him as thoughts of melting his face off too overwhelmed him. He watched as the needle was inserted into the vial; the liquid withdrawn, the syringe retracted, and then the glass bottle was noisily replaced to the cart. Afterward, the man looked right at Max, syringe poised in the air over his clothed shoulder.

“Well, let see what toys we get to play with today,” Bruce spoke now, and seemed to have garnered his partner’s attention. There would be no playing, he knew that, they had orders to remove the specimens and load them into the van. It was protocol when there’s a suspected breech within the compound. But that didn’t mean he couldn’t have a little fun scaring the hell out of the aliens first, though.

Bruce’s covered hands rubbed together with delight as he regarded the cart. “I want to have some fun before we go.” He slowly paced next to the instrumental cart, scanning the equipment with interest.

Isabel cowered further behind Max, her naked flesh pebbling with goose bumps in irrepressible terror. She couldn’t go through it again. Not one more slice of her skin, not one prod of the cool, malicious instrument. If they came after her with a scalpel, she may end it herself by thrusting it into her breast. She shakily gripped at Max’s shoulders, her nails digging into his taunt flesh. Not one more…

Tess stood next to Isabel, just as cold and just as frightened. Her arms wrapped tightly around her torso, her hands chafing her arms in an effort to ward of the chill of the cell. She was beyond the point of resisting, beyond entertaining the notion of a rescue effort. Who would rescue them? Why would anyone rescue a bunch of man-killing aliens? In dire need of comfort, she began to sway as she imagined a comfortable circle of arms soothing her. Michael, who had become her rock over the years, felt her unsteadiness and blindly reached behind to still her pathetic movements with a gentle touch to her side. She immediately halted. Her hands reached to dig into the flesh of his arm, to hold onto some semblance of security, as her vision blurred with tears that should have dried up long ago.

An inhuman laugh drifted dissonantly through the air, as it bounced of the white padded walls. Bruce reached for the cover to one container and began to lift slowly as if to create great suspense. “Lets see what’s beneath lid number one!” He jeered sadistically. Peering into the tub, he saw…

Nothing.

Confused by his findings – or the lack thereof - he whirled his head around to regard his accomplice. Before he could utter his puzzling query, however, he was swiftly lunged at, the syringe poised high in the air and ready to be thrust into his chest. Bruce dodged out of the way just in time, his legs bumping into the cart beside him and emitting the most horrendous clatter. The four, stunned aliens jerked at the sound and shifted their gazes between the two men in white.

A vicious curse passed Bruce’s lips, as the estranged man with the syringe came after him again. Blindly, he reached behind him for something to protect himself with – anything - and came up with a scalpel; the blade gleamed promisingly beneath the bright light.

Armed, Bruce sliced at the air in rapid back and forth motions, causing his attacker to retreat warily. His chest heaved with insane glee, anger, and fear as he took a lunging step towards the man, the sharp blade of the scalpel whishing through the air. He thrust the blade outward, just as his opponent jumped to the side. The room sounded with the echo of tearing fabric, followed by a muffled curse. A deep slash was embedded into the other man’s body – from the bottom of his ribcage and diagonal over his midriff – and angry, crimson liquid began to seep through the parted flesh. When Bruce withdrew his weapon, blood touched the tip of his blade.

Behind his mask, he smiled smugly, and then laughed aloud, before he went for another attack – this time with more emphasis. He had a taste for blood.

His assailant had been prepared for his next move, and effortlessly sidestepped him. Before Bruce could counteract, before it really registered he had missed, his attacker was behind him. Dazed and confused, Bruce dropped the knife when he felt a firm arm pressed against his larynx, and he struggled to catch the breath that had suddenly escaped him. He saw a whir of white, a flash in the air when the light hit the steel of the needle, and then felt a painful pressure in his chest as it was impaled into his taunt body. An effort to gasp made his throat go raw with pain and he clutched at the arm restricting his breathing. A burning sensation began to spread throughout his chest from the injection and he started to writhe in agony. His insides were on fire.

Behind the mask, his face was flushed red. Veins protruded from his forehead and his cheeks. The vessels in his eyes strained and then burst within his eye sockets. Beads of sweat dribbled down his temples and curved around his trembling chin. His mouth twisted in agony as he tried to emit a scream, as he tried to breathe.

He was brutally kicked to his knees then and fell to the floor with a thudding force, the syringe poking prominently from his chest. With nothing constricting his airway, he began to scream as he tore at his suit, scratching at the entry point where the needle met his boiling flesh. His last scream ended with a throaty gurgle as he collapsed to the floor in a lifeless heap.

Silence.

For several long moments, no one moved. Four pairs of eyes stared uninhibitedly at newly dead man on the floor before them. Another pair of eyes, carefully shielded behind the mask, stared ceaselessly at the aliens.

The reality suddenly hit Michael. Not understanding what had just happened, and definitely not wanting to stick around to find out, he made a split second decision and took a determined step towards the killer, his arm instinctively raising even though his powers had been temporarily eradicated.

Before he knew what he meant to accomplish, the attacker spun around in a whir of white, lifted a lid to one of the containers on the cart, and pulled free a 9 mm from inside. Michael stared down the barrel of the gun and into his reflection from the mask. He froze; whatever he had meant to do forgotten at the sight of another deadly weapon.

“Michael!” His name was delivered upon a hiccup-y sob from Tess, before silence once again fell upon the group.

No one moved for what seemed like a small eternity. No one dared breathe for the fear so heavily weighed down on their lungs. It wasn’t until the man wrenched the mask from his face to reveal his true identity did their very breaths rush from their lungs.

He really was a she. She remained quiet for a few moments in order to allow her presence to fully sink in; they needed this time to realize she could be trusted. Her gun remained poised at Michael – utterly steady - until he finally took a staggered step backwards. Only then did she allow the weapon to fall to her side. She looked into each person’s eyes in turn, lingered on Max’s gaze for longer than merited, and then reached beneath the cloth of the cart to pull out her pack.

Tossing it to Michael, she then began to shed the white suit. She looked at everyone pointedly in the eye, her authority utterly evident. “Hurry up, get dressed, and meet me in the hall.”

She grabbed her tattered and stained suit and then turned and left the room. Her exit was so quiet that it gave the illusion that she drifted out on smoke.

Max took a hesitant step forward, his eyes wide and shimmering with moisture. His chest heaved convulsively with the labor of his breathing, and his heart beat with a renewed vigor. He clenched his hands at his sides as he silently questioned his sanity. Had his time of inhuman incarceration caused him to go mad? Had it truly been her, or was it just wishful thinking?

Liz?

<center>* * *</center>

Max, Tess, Isabel, and Michael dressed in record time. Donned in the slightly oversized shirts and light sweatpants provided for them, they padded barefoot out into the hallway, getting a glimpse of their first sight of freedom.

The hall was dark save the red tint of the emergency lights overhead. The building was a maze and eerily silent. Tess briefly contemplated returning to the cell where there were no sudden turns and she knew what was lurking inside. She didn’t get to put her thought to action before Max gripped her arm gently in his hand and began to make his way down the long corridor. Just ahead, he saw a dark figure crouching just behind a sharp corner leading to the right. He prayed it was Liz.

They cautiously made their way down the hall. Each step was as heavy as the previous. Were they really on their way to freedom? Or was this some cruel, sick dream? Some trick administered by the agents to screw with their heads?

Michael kept a hand on Isabel’s back as he continually pushed her on. He kept glancing over his shoulder, waiting for agents to jump out from hidden doors and take them by surprise. But know one came, and all was quiet. It seemed as if they were the only ones on the floor.

Max led the group, and Michael kept the tail. Suddenly, they stopped just a few feet from the crouching figure before them. They were too wary to go any further – maybe it hadn’t been Liz, maybe it wasn’t Liz now.

But when she turned – that familiar face with those dark, coffee eyes, they knew it was real. She was real.

Liz stood to her full height then and regarded them silently. A few tendrils of hair and slipped from her hair band and curled behind her ears. Max desperately fought the urge to reach out and tuck them away, to touch her skin, to feel her satiny softness.

“You’re hurt.”

Isabel’s words were soft, and had been stuttered due to the chattering of her teeth, but they were distinct enough to garner everyone’s attention. Who was hurt?

And then Max looked down. Even in the poor lighting, he could see the dark stain being absorbed into the makeshift bandage Liz had created. She had torn the hem of her tank top and then tied it tightly around her midriff. It wouldn’t stop the bleeding, but it would prevent her from leaving a trail of blood in their wake.

“I’m fine,” She muttered, and met Michael’s gaze. “Did you bring the pack?”

In answer, he tossed it to her. Liz caught it effortlessly by the straps, and then unzipped it. Quickly, she stuffed the white suit she had stolen from Ethan Heitzmann after she had snapped his neck. There was no way she was leaving behind evidence that she had been involved.

“All right, follow me and stay quiet.”

Max wanted to stop her and inspect her injuries. He remembered the way the scalpel had sliced through her suit, and when it was retracted blood had touched the tip. At the time, he hadn’t known it was her, that Liz had been the one wounded, and now it was different.

He had to heal her. To stop the blood flow and smoothen her marred flesh, but he couldn’t. His powers were too weak, and there was no telling when – or if they would ever – return.

Then she was moving, surely and silently through the dimly lit hallways. And they had no choice but to follow, sticking close to their rescuer.

Liz deftly maneuvered her way through the halls, with Alex guiding her every step. She had heard his intake of breath when he saw them exit the cell. Either he was still surprised that it was actually them, or he had been shocked by Isabel’s condition.

She looked over her shoulder, ignoring the broad plane of Max’s chest and ascertained Isabel and Tess’s conditions. There was no doubt that those two had received the brunt of the torture. First of all, they were naturally weaker than Max and Michael, and the fear of being held captive was torment enough. Secondly, they were female. Liz didn’t want to think about what her male co-workers could have done to them.

Liz briefly wished she had brought warmer clothes for the two, if only to stop their ceaseless shivering, but she knew there was nothing to be done about it now. So she turned her head and trudged on with renewed determination.

Soon, they’d be free.


Alex’s eyes roamed over every monitor, looking for anything suspicious, before they finally returned to the forms of Liz and the others. He could feel Kyle’s heavy breathing against the back of his head. As soon as he had seen them, Alex had weakly called Kyle to his side. And for the past several minutes they had stared in shock.

Alex knew that Kyle was just as angry over Tess’s condition as he was over Isabel’s. Despite the ten years that have past, those girls were still theirs. And they felt like doing bodily harm to anyone and everyone who had harmed them.

Isabel. She needed comfort; she needed the shelter of his arms. And he couldn’t urge Liz out of their quick enough. The sooner she got them out, the sooner he could hold Isabel and never let her go.

It was really her, and not just some figment of his imagination. All this time…

Movement out of the corner of his eye caught Alex’s attention. His gaze shifted to the last monitor where it was focused on a door that led to the stairway. It was wide open, when it hadn’t been before.

The microphone nearly slipped from his hand, and Alex had to force his grip around it more tightly. “Liz,” He nearly bellowed as his eyes scanned over the other monitors, looking for the intruder. “Liz, stop.”

She did, and with a raised hand she made the other’s stop too.

What’s wrong, Alex?” She questioned, the wariness evident in her voice.

He opened his mouth to speak when he saw him - an agent walking slowly, deliberately down the corridor - his tall and muscular body moving fluidly and gracefully. He was hunting.

Alex swallowed past the lump of fear in his throat before he answered.

“Someone’s there.”



TBC.

Raych
Last edited by Raychelxluscious on Thu Jun 09, 2005 12:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
writing is a socially accepted form of schizophrenia

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