The Importance of Being Elizabeth (CC,M/L,MTURE) (Complete)

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WR
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The Importance of Being Elizabeth - Book 4

Post by WR » Sun Oct 19, 2008 3:22 pm

Part 8

February 1982


Geltar carefully eased into the Pod chamber, and after meticulously resealing the door behind him, stood before the four pods, glowing blue in the inky darkness.

"Ah, Glister," he sighed. "Would that you could see this. Any day now, Zan will be reborn, along with Vilondra, Rath and Ava. Then I can begin teaching him, that he may be ready for the task ahead."

He wondered where Glister had gone to, with his Pods. He was glad that he had been allowed to look after the genuine royal four, and not the decoys. He hoped that Glister would have time to escape when the decoys were finally tracked down by K'Var.

Geltar waited days, expecting the pods to open at any time, but soon hunger drove him to a nearby town for some food. It was there that he found the skin. His enemies were close by, and if they suspected him in any way... It would be better to lead them away from here. They must not be around when the pods opened. It was not the first time he had led the enemy away, though this was closest they had come to the chamber.

***

July 1983

Claudia nervously paced in the hospital waiting room. Surprisingly, her son sat patiently in one of the seats, reading some sheets of paper.

"Aren't you nervous, Jeff?" demanded Claudia irritably.

Jeff looked up at his mother, and laughed.

"Not as much as you, evidently."

She smiled back at him.

"Yes, Mom, I am very nervous," he sighed. "I am so nervous that it will lock me into an immobile stases, if I let it. So I am trying to remain calm, by reading these documents."

"I don't know how you can concentrate," she laughed.

"Who says I'm concentrating?"


"What is it that you are reading, anyway?" she asked her son.

Jeff looked up again, and smiled.

"Well, you know how Grandpa had the Café built for you and Dad, so Dad wouldn't have to work in a bar? He said a bar was no place for a family, right?"

"Yes. That's right," she smiled. "I remember how he was so hopeful that we would start a family straight away."

"Well, you know that the town is expanding? Well 'Parker's' is on some prime land, and the developers are offering me such a good deal to sell. I can use the money to buy a new place in town, and still have money for the future, for our children's future. I have such plans, I'll model it on the crash, with aliens and things, and outside, I'll have a flying saucer. I'll call it the Crashdown Café. What do you think?"

"I think it's tacky, son," Claudia laughed. "But you will probably make a roaring success of it. It sounds like a good start to your new baby's life."


Claudia saw the dark cloud pass across his eyes. She knew instantly that he had something on his mind.

"What's the matter, son?" she asked. "I can tell that something is bothering you."

"Promise you won't say anything to Nancy?" he asked, glancing nervously around the room.

Claudia cautiously nodded her head.

"I'm terrified that there will be something wrong with our baby."

"What do you mean, Jeff?" Claudia asked, full of concern. "Why do you say that?"

"Don't think I'm crazy, or anything Mom, but I had a sign."

"A sign? What kind of a sign?"

"I knew Nancy was pregnant before she did. In fact, I knew she was pregnant the night we conceived her."

"Her?" Claudia asked in confusion. "What are you saying, Jeffery?"


"The night, that we, ah, uhm, the night that we conceived... our child, well, afterwards, I felt so, so, I don't know... empty. I felt like a part of me had vanished, that something, no, someone had left me. I felt so sad. But I had a dream, that night, I dreamt that Nancy and me, we had a baby girl. She will be beautiful, Mom. Deepest dark brown hair and beautiful brown eyes."

"But we all have blue eyes, Jeff. She'll have blue eyes too. You'll see."

"What if I'm right Mom? What if I'm not able to love the baby, for making me feel so, empty, that night? It's how I feel right now."

"Oh, Jeffery, I don't think you could. You are far too nice a person. You are so much like your father."

"Thanks Mom," he added with a hopeful smile.

"You'll see. As soon as you look into those lovely eyes of blue..."

"Brown," Jeff interrupted.

"Whatever."


"Mr Parker? Mrs Parker?" a nurse called from the door to the delivery room.

She was carrying a small bundle.

"Congratulations on the birth of your daughter, Mr Parker," she said approaching Jeff, and handing the bundle over to him.

Claudia joined his side, and the two people gazed upon the face of the beautiful baby girl. She had a mop of dark brown hair, but when she opened her eyes, Claudia gasped. Jeff had been right, they were indeed beautiful, and they were brown. They reminded Claudia of something.

Out in the desert, a lone coyote howled. It was a howl of deep joy and celebration.


"Taysha!" she exclaimed softly.

"No, mother," Jeff whispered, staring lovingly at his daughter, stroking her cheek with his finger.

"Mom, I would like to introduce you to your granddaughter," he said gently, "Elizabeth Parker. My daughter!"

Claudia could see that his fears were unfounded. Jeff had fallen in love with his baby daughter, as all fathers do. Claudia too had fallen in love with the little girl. As Claudia and Elizabeth looked at each other, a bond was formed. In that instant, Claudia became the very centre of Elizabeth Parker's life.

"Good morning, Elizabeth," Jeff Parker smiled. "Welcome to the world."

Jeff did not notice the strange look of recognition pass from his daughter to his mother.

***

November 1986

The breakthrough for which Claudia had searched for so many years finally happened. In a flurry of activity, she had deciphered some more symbols, which gave sudden meaning to whole sections of the tale she had been pondering for so long now. But as with the way of these things, it brought more confusion. For instance, Claudia had assumed that the beginning of her story started with the chief of a tribe being forced to flee his ancestral lands. But the symbols she had just translated made it clear that tale was actually about a King, not a chief, who had been killed by another who would usurp his throne.

This was what Claudia had found so confusing. What would the ancient race of the Anasazi Indians know of Kings and thrones? Then there was the phrase 'ancestral lands'. She suddenly realised that they were talking of something on a scale much greater than a small patch of land considered to be their turf. It was almost... planetary. Was this some fabled King of the entire world? The tale went on to explain that the King would return, a reincarnation of the original. This was a concept Claudia was familiar with. Most ancient religions taught that the great leaders would return, which was why they were often buried with items of value. Sometime for use in the afterlife, but most often for use in the King's new life.

The bit that Claudia absolutely loved was when she translated the passage that stated how the King would find his soul mate among the people of this new land. She translated the symbol as 'land', but it actually appeared to be 'world'. These people were apparently the King's ancient enemies, which made her chuckle. She wondered if William Shakespeare had ever seen these symbols. Perhaps there were these same symbols engraved on the large rocks that made up Stonehenge. Perhaps Shakespeare had visited these, and somehow translated them. Suppose this gave him the idea for Romeo and Juliet? Stop it Claudia! She chastised herself. You are fantasising again.

This Soul Mate would help the King to regain what was lost to treachery, and destroy the usurper and the five tribes who helped him. Apparently, these two would know each other from previous lives, and that the King would repair his beloved. That was the best she could translate the symbol as, 'repair'. Maybe she would be sick, and he would cure her. Claudia remembered how she had hoped that one day she would write a book. She laughed to herself ruefully, never having considered that perhaps her book might be fictional Native American fairy story.

***

September 1990

"Come on Max!" the little blond haired girl with big brown eyes called eagerly. "Look at all the other kids. Let's go!"

Seven-year old Isabel Evans could hardly wait to get off the bus, she was so excited. Beside her, Max, her brother, dragged his heels. He felt differently about this new experience than did his sister. Like his sister, the dark haired Max had brown eyes, but they were darker, deeper, as though he was responsible for some important secret.

For both of the youngsters, it had been a traumatic year. Mr and Mrs Evans had found them, wandering naked and alone in the desert one night. They had taken them home initially, but had been forced to allow the authorities to place them in the orphanage. The Evans' then used their legal skills to their own advantage for a change, and adopted the two abandoned children. Neither had spoken a word, and had to be taught how to do the most rudimentary of tasks. But they had agile young minds, and were quick learners. They only had to be shown how to do something once, and it instantly became second nature to them.

They quickly learned reading and writing skills, and when they finally broke their barrier of silence, and they began talking with a surprisingly large vocabulary, then they were at last declared fit to attend school. Isabel Evans could hardly wait. The big wide world excited her; she wanted to embrace it. Maxwell Evans, on the other hand, wanted little or nothing to do with it. He wanted nothing more than to find a quiet corner, a new book, and to be left to himself.

Reluctantly, he allowed his sister to pull him along the bus, towards the exit. Knocked aside by her progress, one of the older kids looked at his sister a little threateningly. Max immediately glared at the boy, twice his size, and protectively leapt between the boy and his sister. The bigger boy stared, and backed off. The little kid looked dangerous to him; there was something about the determination in his eyes, a look that said he would protect everyone close to him. The bigger kid shrugged his shoulders, and left. Max walked down the steps of the bus, looking at the frenzy of activity, trying to filter the cacophony of kids shouting. Isabel spotted a group of girls who looked interesting, and before he could stop her, Isabel was gone.

A panic swept over Max, and he was about to cry out for Isabel, when a face caught, and held him. A quiet part of him told him he had found her, but Max did not understand that. The girl he looked at had lovely dark brown hair, and she had the most enchanting pair of brown eyes. Max moved from the doorway of the bus, all the while watching the smiling young girl playing her game with her friends. She was so involved, he knew she would not notice him staring. But she did. Her beautiful eyes looked up, and met Max's. They held each other's gaze for a split second of recognition, before he broke away, feeling embarrassed. When he looked back, she was playing her game, unaware of his existence again. It would take Max two years to meet the girl with whom he had fallen in love the first time he had seen her. Two years to find out that her name was Liz Parker.

***

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The Importance of Being Elizabeth - Book 4

Post by WR » Sun Oct 19, 2008 3:34 pm

Part 9

September 1999


Geltar was in a foul mood, though he would not allow it to affect his charge, 'Tess'. She was Queen Ava, King Zan's bride. One day, they will be re-united, and he did not want to do anything that might upset his King, where Ava, or rather Tess, was concerned. He had returned to the Pod Chamber to find three of the Royal four gone, with no trace as to their whereabouts. He had been so angry with himself for not being here, and with Glister for being so wrong about when the pods would open. With Tess in tow, he started his search for them, discovering that the authorities were not only reluctant to talk to a strange man about the disappearance of young children, they were also concerned that he was accompanied by a very young girl. Anonymity suddenly seemed to be a better idea.

After Geltar had lead the beings he assumed had been Skins away from the immediate vicinity of the Pod Chamber, he had decided to stay away from the hidden cavern, and only return periodically to check on the Royal Four’s progress. Each time, he would assume a different identity, so as to not draw any suspicion upon himself. He could still clearly remember that dreadful day when he had returned to the Pod Chamber to discover that only Ava was still in her Pod. The others had already ‘hatched’, from the looks of things, as long as a week ago. Trapped by the necessity of remaining with Ava, he had been unable to search for their trail. By the time Ava had emerged, a number of storms had wiped any possible tracks away. Not even the local Natives with whom he was still friendly could offer any assistance.

While Ava amused herself with some of the instruments he had hidden, Geltar had sat down and tried to think things through. What would Zan, Rath and Vilondra have done after they had emerged from their hiding spot? Glister had told him that the ‘children’ would have their memories from their previous lives, but they would need to be taught how to retrieve them. He suspected that Zan, after seeing a sunset or sunrise that he had been so enamoured with, might somehow have managed to ‘remember’ Claudia White. Not knowing that she had been murdered several years ago, Zan would try to find the location he had last seen her at, the old Anasazi ruins. With young Ava in tow, he had gone to the ruins, and had found no trace of Zan and the others. Convinced that Zan would somehow try to find her, Geltar had tried to trace Claudia Whites movements.

He had been searching now for ten years, and not even come close to finding them. He had even taken a job with their military, so that he might use their communications network to not only trace the woman, but also to watch out for reports of Zan and the others. Claudia White’s trail seemed to cover a lot of ground, though the tales he heard of her never mentioned any children. He had been quite surprised to find that she was still alive, that it had not been her who had been killed that night so many years ago. Geltar satisfied himself with the thought that if he had been unable to find Zan, then Nikolas too would have stood no chance. There was always the hope that one of the missing three might start to make connections with their own heritage, and somehow leave a sign for him. Soon, Tess would feel the biological pull from him; their attraction to each other would act as a magnet. In the meantime, he continued to teach Tess what she needed to know, and told her of her previouse existance with Zan. When they finally found him, he knew that it would be up to himself and Tess to remove whatever contamination they had picked up from the Earthlings.

***

"Look, it's not my fault, all right!" Ren snapped at Denbers, driving their beaten up pick-up through the desert of New Mexico.

"Nearly thirty years we've been looking for that bastard Nikolas, and no sign of him," hissed Denbers. "Maybe they didn't come after all. Maybe they heard about the crash."

"You know K'Var!" snapped Ren. "He will want proof. They are here all right."

"Meanwhile, our skins are all but useless, and we have no way to get home," Denbers added. "It would have been alright if you got those co-ordinates off."

"Oh, what?" Ren growled. "So Nikolas isn't smart enough to figure the Crash was real? Hell, even most of the humans believe it was. Why wouldn't Nikolas? He doesn't care, that's why. We are on our own."


"What are we doing back here anyhow?" asked Denbers, watching the old Peppers cafe building as they drove past it.

"We've been just about everywhere else," Ren stated. "I was thinking we could hang around here for a while, and see if someone shows up."

The outskirts of Roswell soon appeared.

"Town's bigger than the last time," Ren observed.

"These humans breed so fast," Denbers was disgusted. "I hope they don't ever find out how to travel through space properly."


They were soon driving down Main Street, carefully observing the speed limit. Looking like a couple of thugs, after the years of abuse their Skins had taken; they could not afford to attract the attention of the local sheriff's department.

"Hungry?" Ren grunted.

"Yeah," Denbers replied.

They both spotted it at the same time. A diner with a huge mock-up of a flying saucer stuck to the wall above the entrance. They both started laughing at the same time.

"There?" Denbers asked.

"Why not?" chuckled Ren.


Neither man really paid much attention to the other people in the cafe. They slid into a side booth, and buried themselves in the menu. They ordered a steak sandwich each, with some obscure name associated with space, and coffee from a blond waitress.

"So where do we go from here?" Denbers asked. "We could swing out by that other town, what was it? Copper Summit?"

"Just another tourist trap," Ren said, finishing his sandwich. "Nikolas wouldn't be that stupid. There would be more chance of finding Zan and the others in this joint than finding Nikolas in Copper Summit."

"So where then?" he snapped irritably "Some of these tiny back water towns?"

"Refill?" asked the blond waitress holding a jug of coffee.

"No, get outta here." Denbers snapped.

"Yeah," Ren agreed as the waitress beat a hasty retreat. "Knowing Nikolas he.... Oh Shit, it's her!"


Ren was staring across the diner at something, a look of disbelief on his face. Denbers turned to see what had captured Ren's attention. All that he saw was the back of a dark haired waitress serving an obnoxious looking couple in ‘X-File’ T-shirts. The guy was playing a hand held computer game.

"Who?" he asked.

"Zan's Earth woman," Ren told him, as the waitress seemed to be showing the couple a photograph.

"I though you said that other one was her. I thought we had already killed her."

"I was wrong. It's this one. She looks exactly the same," he exclaimed. "I know it's her. I just know it!"

"We got to get rid of her!"

"Don't you think I know that?" Ren exclaimed.

"So what are you waiting for, kill her," he sneered at his colleagues hesitation "It's not like your gonna see any money."


"In front of all these witnesses? Look, let's think about this. We can do it tomorrow," Ren objected.

"You ask me to give you another day? We're running outta time." Denbers shouted, a little too loudly, while waving his arm in frustration.

His arm cleared the table of the plates and cups as they crashed to the floor attracting everyone’s attention.

"LIZ!" screamed the blonde waitress in a panic.

"I want it done today!" Denbers yelled. "Not tomorrow!"

"Shit, I'm fed up with you and your crap," he shouted producing a gun. "I think I'll finish you and her both."


One of the men stood, and raised the gun towards the other. The two men struggled with pushing and pulling the arm that held the gun. Everyone else in the restaurant, seeing two men fighting with a gun, ducked beneath the tables, taking what cover they could. The dark haired waitress saw them fighting, saw the gun turn her way. She tried to duck, to protect herself, but something, some invisible force held her in place.

"It will be all right!" voices whispered in her head, voices that she would forget about after it all happened.

Oh No! she cried in her own mind, as the gun went off. Pain ripped through her abdomen, and she collapsed backwards to the floor, behind the counter. The two men saw her fall, and fled the building, crashing through the doors.

"Done!" screamed Denbers in triumph as they raced for the pickup.

***

Max Evans watched with relief as the two men with the gun fled from the Crashdown, but he could not help but feel that something was wrong, very wrong.

"Liz!" he heard Maria's frightened cry.

It was a cry that froze the very heart of Max Evans, and he instantly knew that something was wrong with Liz Parker, the girl of his dreams. Something that he instinctively knew must be fixed. As he looked over to where Liz had been standing, he saw her on the floor.

"Noooooooo!" his heart cried out, instantly knowing that she had been shot.

Quickly, he rose, intending to go to her, but was stopped by Michael grabbing his arm.

"What are you doing?" he demanded of his best, and only friend. "Let me go."

Michael only tightened his grip.

"Max," he demanded, "what are you gonna do?"

Max simply glared at Michael, and broke free, rather easily, from his grip, and hurried to Liz's side. He would not let her die.

"Call an ambulance," he said to Maria, pushing her away from her friend. Max wanted no witnesses to see what he was about to attempt.


Only one thing ran through Max's mind when he saw the young girl that he had adored from afar for so long now, lying on the floor with the stain of the red blood spreading across her uniform. Oh God, no! She looked so pale, so... so... He had to save her. With his heart tearing apart, Max kneeled beside the lovely young woman, and ripped the stud fasteners of her dress open. The blood was pooling over her wound, on her smooth white stomache.

"Uhh... it's gonna be okay." he cried to Liz, hoping that he would be able to do what he was planning.

Max had used his 'gifts' to heal before, but only comparatively minor injuries on small animals. He had never tried to heal a life threatening injury on a human being. Behind him, he sensed the approach of people.

"Oh my god!" called an unseen woman.

"Hey," he heard a worried Michael call. "Get back!"

He could sense Michael's anger at him, but he would deal with that later. He had to concentrate on Liz.

"Liz, Liz! You have to look at me," he called, the anguish in his voice evident. "You have to look at me."

The relief that Max felt when Liz weakly opened her eyes to look at him was so intense, he was almost knocked over. But still the fear persisted, the fear that he might lose this young girl who had so enchanted him. No, it was more than that. He was in love with Liz Parker, and the pain that wracked his body at the thought he might never be able to tell her this was almost too much to bear.


Max placed his hand over the bullet wound, and stared deeply into Liz's eyes. What he saw astounded him. He could see her own fear, her own pain, but most surprisingly, he could see a calm acceptance of her fate. He saw that Liz completely trusted him, a guy she hardly knew, other than as a lab partner at high school. A strange feeling swept over Max, instantly masking his fear and pain. It was a sense that he had done this before. The scene before him seemed so... familiar. It gave him the strength to continue, even though he felt her life force fading so fast. Max concentrated hard, pouring his secret love for her into the sudden connection he had made with Liz. He sensed the large black wall, blocking him from her, but her pushed through this. In the darkness behind the wall, he saw a light, a bright flame burning in the inky darkness. Liz. As he reached to take hold of the source of this light, the strangest things happened. He started to see images, Liz’s memories. Was this her life flashing before her eyes? Even as he concentrated on fixing the damage caused by the bullet, including dissolving the bullet itself, Max watched the images play out, images that included himself, even though he had though that she had never noticed him. When the damage was repaired, Max carefully replaced the light into Liz’s heart, and gave an audible, tired sigh. He had healed her.

"You're all right now." he said gently, the relief on his face obvious. "You're all right."

He wanted nothing more than to hold her to him. He wanted to cry.

"Keys! Now!" Michael demanded, impatiently clicking his fingers.

A sudden realisation hit Max as he threw Michael the keys to his Jeep. Michael and Isabel. He had placed them in danger with his actions. He would willingly endanger himself for Liz, but he had to try and protect the others. Reaching up to the counter, he grabbed a bottle of ketchup and emptied the contents over her. She was looking better now, still pale, but very much alive.

"You broke a bottle when you fell," he urged. "You spilled ketchup on yourself. Don't say anything please."


There was such a note of urgency to Max Evan's voice that Liz nodded weakly. For now, she would do as he asked. But she wanted answers to the questions that even now were forming in her mind, jumbled with so many emotions that she could scarcely recognise them. Not least of those questions were, just who was Max Evans, and what had he done to her?

"Are you okay?" Maria asked tenderly, appearing by her side, as she watched the retreating form of Max Evans.

When his Jeep finally roared away from the front, Liz felt an cold emptiness sweep over her, almost as though it was wrong that Max had left her side.

***

The pickup truck raced through the town, narrowly avoiding pedestrians as they threw themselves out of the way of the speeding vehicle. They were ignored by the police cars, as they themselves were responding to the report of a possible homicide at the Crashdown Cafe. As the truck reached the city limits, and whipped up the dust that had settled on the road, the two men let out a sigh of relief. They had survived their closest call. They held few doubts as to their fate should they ever fall into the hands of the authorities, and they still wanted to get home.

Denbers started to slow the truck down to the legal speed limit; there was no need to risk further trouble.

"What are you doing?" demanded Ren. "Faster. Let's just get the hell out of here. Someone is bound to have seen us racing off like that!"

Realising that Ren made sense, Denbers again pressed the pedal to the floor. The speedometer climbed upwards, and the truck started to shake from its efforts.

"Damn truck's getting too old!" Denbers shouted above the engine's complaining roar. His eyes suddenly widened in horror, as a realisation stuck him. It was the realisation of something that they had not once considered in the past fifty years. He slammed his foot on the break, the screeching of the tires leaving two long streaks of black rubber on the dusty tarmac, and a blue grey plume of smoke. Denbers braced himself against the steering wheel, but Ren catapulted into the windscreen, and then back into his seat.

"You bastard!" he roared angrily. "What did you do that for?"


Denbers threw open his door, screaming loud profanities into the warm desert air. He kicked at some loose stones, and then picked up a small stick. He hurled this into the desert, calling names at it as it flew through the air.

"Okay!" Ren said to him. "What the hell is up with you?"

"We've screwed up!" Denbers hissed through his teeth. "Big time."

"What? How?"

"They age, you moron."

"So?" Ren asked, not sure what point it was that Denbers was trying to make.

"That girl we just shot. She couldn't have been the Earth woman you saw Zan with. Or that other one we killed. They hadn't aged enough."


Ren's shoulders sagged with the realisation of his own stupidity. Then he lifted his head sharply.

"But that girl we just killed." he urged, "If she wasn't the same one, then she must be related! She looked so much like her; they have to be, somehow. Maybe it was her mother, or her grandmother. An aunt, even."

Denbers look over to Ren, and then up at the sky. He was deep in thought. An idea suddenly came to mind.

"We keep an eye on the cafe." he said. "If it was her daughter, or her granddaughter we just killed, then she will turn up. Look at everyone who comes very closely. We have to find her."

"But the Sheriff will be looking for us by now. I don't want to hang around waiting to be picked up. And these skins could stop working any day now. We have to Find Nikolas."

"If we find Nikolas, and this woman is still alive what do you think he's gonna do to us?"

"What about our skins?"

"I think, with the right materials, I can change their appearance. That'll keep the sheriff off of our backs. I can't extend their life though, so we better hope something happens fast."

***

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WR
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The Importance of Being Elizabeth - Book 4

Post by WR » Sun Oct 19, 2008 3:40 pm

Part 10

October 1999


Claudia was pleased with herself. Her work over the past ten years had gone well, and using Zan's symbols, she had managed to actually make some important discoveries, completely unrelated to her fairy tale. She had actually been able to produce a manuscript for a factual book, one that a publishing house had already accepted. In the trunk of her car sat a copy of it's first printing, a gift for her favourite relative. Her granddaughter Liz would be so thrilled.

Every time she saw Liz, she was so amazed. If Claudia had been the same age, she and Liz could have been identical twins. At every stage of her life, Liz was the spitting image of Claudia at the same age, with the exception of her beautiful brown eyes. She even had the same thirst for knowledge, although with Liz, her passion was with molecular science rather archaeology. Once she had finished here, she would go and visit her, catch up with her granddaughter's life, and surprise her Lizzie with the book her Grandma Claudia had completed.

Her other work was progressing well, and she felt that she had the story fleshed out to her liking. There were still a few gaps, but they could be filled with her imagination. After all, this was fiction, right? She loved the part about the King finding his Queen, and being saved from false destinies and false dooms, although these were what were causing her the most trouble. Those were what she had to find out. What was a false destiny, and what was a false doom? To answer those questions, as well as researching other discoveries she had made, she had travelled back to the Chaco Canyons, this time to Una Vida. She had not been there before, since she had heard that there were not many petroglyphs there.

As she had heard, there were few petroglyphs. Those symbols that she did find, she had already seen elsewhere. With a sense of defeat, she decided to pack and leave. The sun would be setting soon, so she would wait until morning. Claudia lay back on her bed roll, on the ground and watched the stars overhead, and for perhaps the millionth time, thought of Zan, and of Taysha. She hoped they were overhead somewhere, together, looking down on her.

"I wish I had taken Astronomy," Claudia announced to the sky, "I would have liked to have discovered two new stars. I would have named one Zan and the other Taysha, and would have written a great love story about them, how these Soul Mates came to Earth after King Zan was killed, to be reincarnated and find each oth...."

A coyote howled in the distance, a howl of final comprehension.


Claudia sat up with a start. A great king being killed, and having his throne usurped by another. Being reincarnated among their ancient enemy, where he would find his soul mate. Taysha said Zan was being sent here to be reborn. Zan had thought humans were the ancient enemy. Could it be...? No, this was too much. All these years she had wasted, while Zan was somewhere all alone. Was it possible that her true love was...? She needed to know. Were these symbols telling her a folk tale, or were they a prediction of the future, a prophecy? She needed to find something, a link to prove its truth. Using just the light of her gas powered lamp, Claudia pulled together all the symbols she had ever copied, and began arranging them.

Morning came, and went. Claudia struggled with her symbols, and her translations, taking only short breaks for food and water. She was glad that she had chosen an area with a lot of natural shade, because the day seemed very hot.

"I think we will have one of those Roswellian heat waves this winter." she said to no one in particular.

At last, she had her symbols arranged how she believed they should be, and she set to work translating them.


Sitting cross-legged, with her journal opened across her knees, Claudia scribbled furiously. The sun set, reminding Claudia how much Zan liked sunsets. Sunrises too. With the arrival of the darkness, Claudia turned on her lamp again, and built herself a fire to ward off the chill of the desert night air. The symbols started to fall into place. This was quite exciting. As dawn approached, Claudia could hardly keep her eyes open. Reluctantly, she allowed herself a short nap, so that she might refresh herself.

It was nearly midday when she awoke feeling much refreshed. Realising a break might not be a bad thing, Claudia gave herself a good wash, and a change of clothing. She prepared a large meal, which she enjoyed immensely, and brewed herself a cup of herbal tea, a gift from Maria, Liz's best friend, and a girl she considered an honorary granddaughter. Suitably refreshed, she returned to the symbols.

It was like switching on a light bulb. Everything was so clear to Claudia now. She could now read the whole story. There was just one symbol that made no sense, although she knew she had seen it somewhere before. She could just not remember where. Carefully, she wrote what she had on a clean page in her journal.

After an act of treachery by one held in his heart, - could be Taysha, - King - unknown symbol, so this must be a name, this could be the link, - will be slain by the great usurper, - curious, Taysha said she had slain Zan. Was she a great usurper? - surrounded by those he loves the most. With his trusted companions, he shall be sent to the lands of the ancient foe, - Zan referred to them as H'Manz, humans, had to be it, - where he will be reborn in the hidden caves of their ancient lands. The broken King now reborn shall repair his broken Queen, - what could this mean? - and together will overcome the obstacles that will fall against the path of true love. She shall defeat a false destiny and a false doom - those phrases again. What can they mean? - to prove her love. Together, their love will rejoin what was once one, and restore a balance to the lands of the five, - five what, planets? - and peace will finally descend. Thus the five will be lead by the alliance that was meant from the start, and great disaster averted. The Universe will be whole.

After re-reading it, Claudia sighed. If only she could remember where she had seen the symbol representing the King's name before. The chances of her deciphering that were slim, but you never knew. Somehow, she knew she had seen the symbol recently. She picked up her old journal, the one with Zan's translation notes in, and carefully leafed back through her journal. Perhaps she had copied it from somewhere. When she came to the page that Zan had left his message on, she froze. There was the symbol. It was one she could not translate. She knew it was a name, for it was written beneath the message. What other name would someone place after a personal message but their own? The symbol meant Zan, proving that he was reborn here on Earth. Where? When? She had found her link. The story was definitely not fiction.

There was something about one of the phrases, 'The broken King shall repair his broken Queen.' Could that mean that Zan would somehow save the life of his Queen? But Taysha had died in her arms; she had been buried decades ago. Zan was reborn, why not Taysha? But wait! Taysha was not his Queen. She remembered Zan's other guard telling her that Zan was going to marry someone else. Does she play into this equation at all? Another symbol caught her eye, it was the galaxy spiral that Zan had said represented his galaxy. She had first seen it on the pendant he had given to Taysha, the one she had passed on to her. A memory of a conversation drifted by.

"It's a spirit stone. It's supposed to be big magic."

"What does it do?"

"Well, according to legend, its supposed to hold the spirit of the wearer, should the wearer die."

"What happens then?"

"I don't know. I've never met anyone who died wearing one."


Taysha had died in her arms, wearing that spirit stone. She remembered the night the Medicine Man appeared, and broke the stone. That was before Jeff was born. What if...? No! But she remembered the sense of loss she felt when Jeff was born. It was more than the loss of giving birth. It was like she had lost something important, like something had left her. Then there was the confession from Jeff, how he knew the night that Liz was conceived, how he felt like he had lost something. An icy chill ran down Claudia's spine. Had Taysha's spirit found it's way into Liz? She remembered Zan's reaction the first time she met him. He had seemed to recognise her, but then realised something. At every stage in her life, Liz had been an almost exact replica of herself. Except that Liz had brown eyes, like Taysha. A terrible feeling came over Claudia, a horrible feeling of... jealousy.

No. No. It's not possible. Think, Claudia, think! You have the evidence in front of you, just study it. That is, after all, what you are good at. Claudia's mind worked overtime, as she carefully studied the symbols, and the words in front of her. Something, probably so obvious, she could not see it for looking, would give her the answer she sought. Aha! There it was. 'The broken King now reborn shall repair his broken Queen.' Somehow, Zan would meet his soul mate and repair her. Perhaps she would be spiritually incomplete, and Zan would make her whole. Or perhaps she would be ill, and Zan would cure her. Or maybe she would be at death's door and Zan would heal her. Liz had never been seriously ill in all her life, and as for being at deaths door, well... But what about that conversation she had with Jeff last month? The one about how everyone thought Liz had been shot? Oh my God! What if that was true? There had been some rumour that a boy had healed her! Zan? Liz? Together?

"Noooooooooo," cried Claudia, screaming at the top of her lungs.

***

"Noooooooooo," the call echoed off the canyon walls.

High in the hills behind Una Vida, a coyote listened to the anguished howl, and sat on his haunches. If a coyote could smile, this one would be grinning. With a wag of its tail, and a soft bark of joy, it raced off into the night, heading south.

***

How could she ever go back to visit her granddaughter now? How could she listen as Liz told her grandmother about her new boyfriend? After all, who could love him, and remember him more than she? How could she watch them be happy together? Every smile, every kiss, every touch would be like a knife to her own heart. It wasn't fair! He should be hers, not Liz's. Claudia lay back down on her bedroll, and cried. She cried the bittersweet tears of the jealousy of someone who just wanted to be next to her true love.

She felt the need to feel him, to touch him, to hear his breath, just to be near him. To know that all of this would belong to Liz was too hard to take, the physical pain in her heart of not being able to do all that herself.

"But I am old." she sighed sadly. "It would not be possible. How could I support him in his task ahead, if he has to care for an old, infirm woman."

She knew that Zan would do just that, he was that kind of... person. As her sobs finally started to diminish, she started to realise that the intense feeling of jealousy was finally dissipating. Instead she felt a happiness grow inside her. Although she felt pain that she would not be the one to receive Zan's love, her heart swelled at the happy thought that it would be her Liz that would.

***

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The Importance of Being Elizabeth - Book 4

Post by WR » Sun Oct 19, 2008 3:44 pm

Part 11

October 1999


Claudia lay on her bedroll, sobbing quietly. Her tears filled her eyes, turning the beauty of the starlit heavens into a blur of tiny rainbows. Slowly her sobbing stilled. At last feeling the peace within her, and forgiving herself for her intense jealousy of Liz - after all, whom better for Zan than her spirited granddaughter? - sleep finally overcame her.

She watched cautiously as the coyote padded gently into the glow of her campfire, and sat on its hindquarters. She knew she should be afraid, but she was not. She wondered at how it was that the solitary animal could overcome its fear of both fire and man, and approach her like this. Was it her imagination, or was the coyote smiling benevolently? The air around the coyote shimmered and the wild beast transformed into a frail old man. Again, Claudia was surprised by her lack of fear.

The transformation reminded her of the time when Zan's injured guard, Borad, changed into Brad. It was similar, but whereas Brad's change was accompanied by a bright light from within him, and seemed to expend energy, this transformation seemed to involve only a conscious decision to appear this way.

"Who... what... who are you?" Claudia asked.

He had short white hair and a short, close-cropped white beard. He wore a black suit with gold piping on the sleeves and lapels. Claudia was reminded of an officer's jacket. Around the collar of his white shirt was a gold shoe string tie, held together at his throat by a clip with a strange symbol inscribed upon it. He leant on a gold walking stick.

"My name," he chuckled, "is insignificant. I don't think I could remember it even if I wanted to. But as I know how you humans are more comfortable when you can attach labels to something, you may call me... Clarence."

The way he pronounced it made Claudia think he had inserted an apostrophe between the 'C' and the 'l'.

"Good evening, Clarence," she relied politely, "my name is..."

"I know your name only too well, Claudia Parker, nee White," he laughed. "I have known about you for centuries."

Claudia was momentarily surprised.

"Why is it that you have known about me?" she asked incredulously. "I am no one of importance."

For the first time, Claudia felt uneasy. Unbidden, Brad's words played across her mind.

"Perhaps not in the way you hope for. But I think you will be far more important than you could ever imagine."

"You are more important than you know, Claudia Parker." Clarence said with a huge smile. "You had an important part to play. You had an important Destiny."

"Wait! Had? As in the past?" she asked in confusion. "Do I no longer have a part to play? I don't even know what it was I did."


"Why Claudia Parker," Clarence laughed. "Your part was the saviour of Princess Isozilde's soul."

Claudia frowned, her confusion apparent.

"Who is, or was... rather, Princess Isozilde? What is going on here, and does this have anything to do with Zan, or my granddaughter, Liz?"

"My dear Claudia Parker," he smiled brightly, "It has everything to do with Zan, and it is all about Elizabeth."

Claudia’s full attention was caught now.

"I think you had better explain, don't you?"

Clarence took some firewood, and stared at it for a while. Claudia watched the pile of dry sticks turn into a small comfortable chair.


"It all started at the beginning of what every being ever born into creation calls time," Clarence said, relaxing into his new chair. "There was only chaos. The Mother of all Creation..."

"Mother?" Claudia asked with a smile. "If this is for real, I think the whole religious establishment is going to have a fit of apoplexy."

"The... story... is true," Clarence sighed with a wry smile. "And it is much shorter when there are fewer interruptions."

"Sorry," Claudia chuckled. "Do continue, please."

"Thank you," he said dryly. "The Mother of all Creation used the chaos and gave birth to the Universe. She saw that it was beautiful, so she called forth a twin daughter and son to share in her creation. Her daughter saw that her brother would destroy the Universe, so she created another being, a man, with whom she shared her soul, so that together they might prevent her brother from his destructive path. Seeing this, her brother destroyed the man, who had instantly shared an intense love with the daughter. The brother, who we simply call ‘The Evil One’ then fled into the Universe, and set about trying to bend it to his will."


"In her despair, the daughter decreed that henceforth, each being created would have a soul of their own. She knew the soul of the man that she had created, that she had loved, was out there, and that her own soul would find it, for they were two halves of a whole. She surrendered her life to release her soul so that it might be free to seek him. Her mother sought to aide the daughter, but was fearful that she might somehow inadvertently assist in the destruction of her creation. She turned to her husband for help."


"Wait!" Claudia interrupted. "Who was her husband?"

"A fair question, Claudia Parker," he answered. "Her husband was the void that was there before the universe. We call him 'Faith.'"

"Faith?" she asked, startled.

"We must all have faith in something Claudia," he said "For what do we have if we do not have faith? We only thrive when someone has complete trust or confidence in us."

He paused to allow Claudia to consider this.

"So her husband agreed to her request. She wanted to create a new planet with a race of beings whose only purpose was to track the two souls, and create the conditions under which they would meet. Her husband, foreseeing that the struggle between his children might well destroy everything, including him, laid down certain conditions. Firstly, the two half-souls must not know the importance they play. They must come together out of love, not out of necessity. No clues as to their ultimate task may ever be given. And secondly, the souls have only three chances to bond with one another. If they have not bonded after the third attempt, they must face the Son as they are, and hope somehow to defeat him, though they are not one."


"So the Father of the Universe allowed the creation of Earth? Are we the trump card, so to speak?"

"Ahh," Clarence smiled. "No, Claudia Parker. The Father of the Universe allowed the creation of a planet it's inhabitants called C'Laranth. The people called themselves the C'Laronolth. From their earliest days, they developed their minds rather than their technology. It was not long before they were able to perform any task with their mind that could be performed with any amount of tools. Oh, they still tilled the fields, and tended their livestock in the time-honoured tradition, while they turned their minds to the path of the two souls. In time they learned to read the future. They created worlds where the souls might rest and grow, until at last they sensed that the time was approaching for the first attempt of joining."


"But something was not right. The beings we used to help create the world for the first attempt went too far in their meddling, and set up too much strife. The souls, in the incarnation of Prince Traznor and Princess Isozilde, were in no position to join out of love. Oh, they loved one another, but their union would have been seen as political, and their work would have entailed the creation of peace, not love. So we allowed the natural course to be followed, and her own father murdered Princess Isozilde. Prince Traznor’s father had him banished to the furthest corner of the kingdom, where he forced him to take a wife, one considered by many to be unsuitable. His younger brother eventually acceded to the throne in Traznor’s stead."

"The usurped king!" Claudia added.

"Exactly."


"The years rolled by, and each of the two kings, although by now, the Kalithens had lost their regal status, produced a single male heir, maintaining the line. The Perdreian line of Traznor's brother soon died out, and a descendant of Traznor, who also produced a single line, was restored to the throne. Generations later, Traznor was re-born."

"Prince Zan?"

"Very good, Claudia Parker."

"But what of Isozilde?"

"Ah. Princess Isozilde was re-born into the line, a few years after Traznor was re-born."

"Lady Taysha."

"Yes and no. You see, at the same time, another young lady was born, Lady Ava. An ambitious man by the name of K'Var saw a chance to create his own destiny."

"Who is this... Kivar?" Claudia interrupted.

"K'Var is an ambitious man who plots to rule the known Universe. As Isozilde, Traznor, Taysha and Zan are tools of the shared soul, so K'Var is a tool of the evil one. Although he moves in the circles of the Kalithen's, he is in fact, Perdreian. Zan had a half brother, a weak and sickly young man. He died in hospital a few months before Zan was born. A young Perdreian technician, one who soon gained the trust of his patient, and learned of his background, attended to him. After his death, K'Var began his plotting. He plans to claim the throne by pretending to be the bastard son of King Xandor, Zan's father, and has even taken Zan's birth star chart. He plans to use this to provide evidence of him being Traznor."


Claudia nodded, indicating that she had understood him.

"Now, when Taysha and Ava were born, K'Var took the baby who was named Ava, who was truly the reincarnation of Isozilde and betrothed to Zan and was given to a Lord Talbuth, whose own daughter, named Taysha, was given to a Lord Servetrius. All except K'Var believed the one called Ava to be Isozilde, when in reality, it was Taysha. K'Var planned to have Taysha, that is Isozilde, for himself. He believes this would give him absolute power, but of course it would also serve to keep the two souls from meeting."


"But Zan found out, didn't he?"

"Not as such, no. When they were about to meet for the first time, K'Var had a memory 'implanted' into Taysha, one that made her believe that Zan had tried to rape her. This was supposed to keep her away from Zan, so they would never feel their attraction for one another."

"Except that Zan did meet Taysha, but he gave her a false name and they fell in love. He told me about that."

"Yes. But despite their attraction, neither one knew the truth, and Zan followed what he believed was his destiny, marriage to Ava."

"So the second attempt failed?"

"Yes, as we knew it would, for the planet of Antar was too... corrupted."

***

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The Importance of Being Elizabeth - Book 4

Post by WR » Sun Oct 19, 2008 3:48 pm

Part 12

October 1999


Claudia stared intently at Clarence, taking in all he was explaining to her. Poor Zan. Poor Taysha.

"When we had decided that the first attempt to join Traznor, and Isozilde was doomed, we rounded up the one race on Antar that had tried to maintain what we had originally planned. We encouraged the race that had done our bidding to bring them in their space ship to this planet. We allowed one of their scientists to build a minor version of the vessel that we had created to hold our collective consciousness."

"Your collection of what?"

"Collective Consciousness. As we were approaching the natural end of our lives, we allowed our 'minds', our souls would be a closer description, to enter a special device we had built. It holds much power for those who are able to harness our wills. Anyway, it allowed us to continue our work undisturbed. The Dredni, another race, attacked our planet, and took our device, thinking they might find a way to use it for their conquests. We, uh... encouraged them to take us to Antar. But they found a way to use us, and affected what we were trying to achieve. Things got out of hand, Antar was changed too drastically, so we encouraged them to take those inhabitants of the planet they had not affected any changes to, and leave for a new planet we had located. When they left, leaving behind this... device, I accompanied them, and helped one of them to create a new... device. With just me as it's power source, they were unable to subvert the entire plan, merely carry out what we desired. And what we desired was to set things up that would ensure that Zan and Taysha would get together here on Earth."


"We had them deposit the H'Manz in different regions, and different times throughout your early years, and allowed them to prosper. One race, that you call the Anasazi, were tasked with being the watchers, for they had their own part to play."

"The spirit stone."

"Yes. That is right. But they needed to know when the chosen ones would arrive, so I taught them how to build a calculator."

"The ruins!"

Clarence smiled.

"We chose wisely, Claudia Parker."

"But why did they just abandon them? There were still centuries before Zan arrived."

"Because they had completed their calculations, Claudia. They knew to the day when Zan would arrive on Earth. Thirteen days after the summer solstice, 1300 summers from the day they completed their calculations. It was all about counting the passing days then."


The fire suddenly popped, causing Claudia to jump. She suddenly realised that Clarence had stopped talking. He seemed to be waiting for her to speak now.

"I see," she whispered, taking a deep breath. "Am I correct in assuming that these two souls now inhabit Liz, and Zan?"

"Elizabeth is the being in which one half of the soul resides, yes." Clarence nodded. "But sadly, Zan is dead. He died at home an Antar, as the Lady Taysha had explained to you."

"Yes," she sighed, tears forming in her eyes again. "She killed him herself. She confessed that to me when she died."

"Although she has good reason to believe that she was Zan's murderer, she was not. His death was at the hands of another."

"She told me," Claudia objected, "she said she had killed him."

"Zan's enemy had an image projected of someone trying to cut Zan down from behind. Lady Taysha reacted in the only way she could, she tried to kill the man with a bolt of energy. But Taysha was never one for using her powers, and her energy was wild and uncontrolled. All she succeeded in doing was to create a bright white light. Zan's enemy had planned that Taysha would slay Zan, but in the end, he had to use this distraction to kill Zan himself. Taysha did not kill him."

"But she died believing this. I even hated her for it, I refused to forgive her."

Claudia was approaching hysterics now.

"But you did forgive her, Claudia Parker. And thanks to you, Lady Taysha has been given her chance of redemption. This is the third time, Claudia Parker. The universe is depending on your granddaughter Elizabeth. Is she up to the task?"

Claudia looked at Clarence, and wiped the tears from her eyes.
Sitting herself up, proudly erect, she raised her head, as if defying any contradiction.

"I can think of no one else I would trust this task to," she affirmed.


Clarence smiled broadly, knowing that the soul had found the perfect human host to be reborn into. He could sense the strength and passion in Claudia Parker, and knew that if her granddaughter Elizabeth possessed even a fraction of this, they would have a chance. But Clarence knew that Elizabeth was even stronger than Claudia.

"That is well, Claudia Parker," he laughed. "And now we come to the reason of my visit with you. Our enemy has broken some rules imposed upon him by the Father of the Universe. To that end, we are allowed a slight bending of the rules ourselves. We are allowed to have you relay a message to your granddaughter to help prepare her for her task."

"I see," she nodded. "And what is this message?"

"The message, Claudia Parker is up to you. But take care! Your message must not contain too much detail in case we exceed our own boundaries, and pass an advantage to our Enemy. And he is already so strong."

"But how will I know how much to say? How will I know if I have said too much, or not enough?"

"The answer is within you, Claudia Parker."

Clarence started to shimmer, changing back to his coyote shape.

"Wait!" she exclaimed. "Clarence! What about Zan? How will I know who Zan is?"

"You will know him when you see him," his voice spoke inside her head.


As the coyote loped off into the darkness, Claudia's last thoughts before waking from her dream, were that she had to get to Liz. She was going to meet Zan! How would she react to the thought that not only would she meet an alien, he was supposed to be her Soul Mate? She would need help, and guidance. She would need to hear Claudia's message. If only she could work out what it was that she could tell her, without giving any additional advantage to their enemy.

***

The two shifty looking figures easily bypassed the locks and security measures of the laboratory at the University of New Mexico. Secure in the knowledge that they could work undisturbed during the weekend, they proceeded to bring in the crates of the materials they had appropriated from the pharmacies and warehouses of the major town and cities nearby. Carefully, using the latex, the wigs, the elastic bandages, and dozens of different kinds of chemicals, the two men proceeded to labour in a darkened corner of the lab.

"Are you sure this is going to work Denbers?" Ren asked. "I can still remember the pain I was in all those years ago.

"Like I said, Ren," Denbers answered. "This will change our appearance, but it will not buy us any more time."

Denbers started to apply the strips of latex, and the bandages he had been working on to Ren. He used the bandages to pull in the original 'Skin' where it had worn, giving the impression of fatness. This was covered with the latex, treated to allow it to breathe, thus allowing their 'Skins' to breathe. The wigs were applied, giving the finishing touch. Ren now appeared like any other respectable Earthling, although he did not feel comfortable. Ren assisted Denbers in applying his own bandages and latex strips, until he too had a new respectable image.

"All right then," Denbers grinned. "Lets get back to that hell hole called Roswell."

***

The first thing that they noticed when they started to watch the Crashdown Café was that the girl they had shot was still alive. They had argued about that, Ren claimed that he saw the girl fall, he knew he had shot her. They carefully listened to the rumours that circulated around the diners and parks, and heard the story that she had simply fallen, and had spilled ketchup over her.

"I don't like it, Denbers," Ren hissed over a coffee one afternoon.

"There is something strange going on around here."

There was a convention going on in town, and the place was overrun with Orthodontists. This gave Ren and Denbers the perfect cover to blend in, and keep a closer eye on the Crashdown. To prevent any kind of cross-examination that might reveal that they were phoneys, they maintained their arrogant, rude postures.

"It's as if someone were watching over her. Like she's important in some way," Ren continued.

"I gotta agree with you there. Let's give it another few days, and if the woman doesn't turn up, we'll leave town, find Nikolas."

"What about the girl here?"

"Whatever, when we leave, there will be no loose ends. Okay?"


It was that afternoon, after they had already left the Crashdown that they saw her. An old, grey haired woman was approaching the Café, carrying a large suitcase. Ren looked at her carefully, his mind filtering through past images, and mentally ageing them.

"It's her!" he hissed excitedly through the side of his mouth.

"Are you sure?" Denbers asked.

"Yeah."

"No, I mean... really sure."

"Yeah. It's her, I tell you."

"Okay. We don't let her out of our sights. First chance we get, we kill her. Try and make it look natural, because we need to stick around and get the girl too."

***

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The Importance of Being Elizabeth - Book 4

Post by WR » Sun Oct 19, 2008 3:55 pm

Part 13

October 1999

Claudia Parker pushed into the Crashdown through the front door, her suitcase in hand. Instantly, she saw her granddaughter, Liz, as she was refilling the sugar dispensers. Claudia noticed that Liz looked even more beautiful that the last time she saw her. They had so much to discuss.

"Grandma!" Liz exclaimed with glee, seeing her grandmother entering the Crashdown.

She ran to Claudia for a big hug.

"Honeybear!" she answered, hugging her back.

Claudia then looked at her son, who was sitting at the counter sorting through a stack of invoices, listening to an old song he was partial to. He looked up to his mother, with a big smile.

"Oh, hello Jeffrey," she said to him. "Oh, you're still listening to them. You're dating yourself."

"Well, you know, some things defy time," Jeff smiled, as he shook his head, watching two of his three favourite women interact.


Claudia returned her attention to her granddaughter. She found that all her fears and her worries about how she would react with Liz evaporated with one hug from her. In that hug, Claudia knew that Liz would be strong enough for her task. They had so much to discuss, but first, there were the pleasantries. She had not seen Liz for quite a while.

"Oh, look at you," Claudia exclaimed holding Liz back slightly.

"What?" Liz asked, a little shyly.

"Last year when I left, you were a child. Now I come back to find a beautiful young woman."

"Grandma, let me help you upstairs with your stuff."

"Oh, Jeffrey will get it, won't you dear?"

Jeff Parker gave another gentle smile and nodded at the two women disappearing through the door.

"I thought you weren't supposed to be here until Friday," Liz stated as they moved into the back room, towards the stairs. "Ok, so tell me what's going on. Did you finish that book you were working on last time?"

"Oh, book, schmook. Let's dish."

***

Upstairs in Liz's bedroom, Claudia sat on her bed, and surveyed her surroundings. Except for the photograph of her friend Alex, taken along with Liz and Maria, there was no evidence of any one special in Liz's life. She was, however telling her about her current boyfriend, Kyle Valenti. She chuckled to herself, remembering how Kyle's grandfather had once tried to court her. Here was a case of history repeating itself.

"So, in any case," Liz continued. "Kyle's not somebody that I'm going to marry or anything. But it's...you know. We have a good time together. It's good."

Claudia smiled at how she seemed less than enamoured with Kyle. She waited for Liz to continue. A small smile played across her lips.

"What?" Liz asked.

"Well, not every relationship has to be the be-all and end-all," Claudia commented.

"Right... it doesn't?

Was that confusion, or relief on her face?

"No," Claudia continued. "Everybody wants to find her soul mate, but there's so much time for that. I think it's nice that you have somebody you can have fun with."

"What if there was something else?" Liz asked cautiously.

"Something else?" Claudia asked, wondering if maybe she suspected something.

"Someone else."

"Now, this is worth the price of the airfare," she laughed. Clearly, Liz was attracted to someone, someone she felt she should not be attracted to, if her look of embarrassment was anything to go by.

"What if this someone else could potentially be... you know, what you said."

"Is there?"

"But what if were like complicated...like incredibly, incredibly complicated?" Liz sounded so sad.

What could be more complicated that Zan and Taysha's situation, Claudia wondered?

"Well, one thing I can tell you... if it isn't complicated, he probably isn't a soul mate."


The door burst open, and Maria leaned into the room, posing like a supermodel revealing the latest designer wear.

"Grandma!" she shouted.

"Oh, Maria!" Claudia exclaimed. "Look at you. Another beauty. God help this poor little town with you two running around."

"Ok, I love this woman." Maria laughed.

Eager to change the subject, Liz spotted Claudia's book.

"Wait. Look at this. It's an article on the first findings of the Navajo Indians in hundreds of years. Lost Treasures by Claudia Parker. It's going to be in the American Journal of Archaeology."

It wasn't just an excuse to get away from discussing boys, and soul mates, Liz was truly proud of her Grandmother.

"That is so cool," Maria enthused artificially. "Okay, alright, so let's talk about me. The hair thing...does it work for you? I kind of see it as a Meg Ryan style after an electric storm."

"I think it's you," Claudia grinned.

"She's good. Ok, so what were you guys talking about?"

"Nothing." Liz exclaimed a little too quickly.

"Boys," her grandmother added.

"Oh... Kyle or Max?"

"Thank you," Liz scolded Maria.

"Aha...Max!" she laughed

Claudia needed to know more about this Max. Was he Zan? Zan, Max, how similar the names were. Turned around, change the Z to an X and the N to an M, and presto. Could it be...?

"No. Max...he's so not possible," Liz was too defensive. "He's just like this whole different..."

"Life form?" Maria offered with a grin.

"Type," Liz completed sternly.

"How intriguing. A dangerous man?" Claudia asked, her eyes twinkling.
"Spacey man."

"A mystery man."

"Ok, you two...you're out of control," Liz broke them up.

"So, what are we doing tonight?" Claudia asked.

"Tonight..." Liz groaned, looking a little uncomfortable.

***

He sat in his car, parked down the road, and watched Claudia Parker as she hurried into the Crashdown. He smiled at her eagerness to see her granddaughter. He had grown very fond of her, and it still hurt when he remembered the way he had just left her, all those years ago. He clearly remembered the voice that spoke in his mind, the one that told him that his continued presence only reminded her of Zan, and that she would not move on and marry the man who she was supposed to. He knew that the Voice of the Universe had spoken to him. Again, advised by the same voice, he took on different forms, and managed to stay close to Claudia Parker, while keeping an eye on her. It had been quite easy, too, until that dark day the voice told him that Zan and his family were about to emerge from their protective pods, unprotected.

Guided by the voice, he quickly arrived at the remote spot out in the desert, and easily found the three small children stumbling through the darkness. The voice had told him everything about the plan to have Zan born as a human hybrid, and how he was to have protectors and tutors, but the crash had caused some major problems for the plan. He wondered where the fourth child was, but the voice told him she would be okay. He was about to go and collect the children, but again, the voice spoke. It advised him that some humans should find them. Carefully noting where the children were, he had gone back to the road, and altered a road sign. When the next car that drove past, turned to follow the new sign, he had seen the car's occupants. It was a young couple from Roswell, he had seen them often enough. He knew them to be very kind, intelligent people, ideal people to find the three strays. Diane and Phillip Evans duly spotted the children, but one of them, Rath, ran away. Only Vilondra's calm assurance stopped Zan from running too. And the Evan's had been ideal parents to 'Max' and 'Isabel'. Making the arrangements to have Rath fostered to that other family, the Guerin's, had been harder. When his foster mother skipped town with that other man, he could only watch as Michael's situation deteriorated. There was not that much he could do, except watch.

Having to watch the four people now was taking it's toll on him, he seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time rather a lot lately. He was out watching Claudia Parker when he heard the rumours of the shooting in Roswell. Fearing the worst, he had returned to Roswell to discover that Max had not only healed a human girl, he had told her their secret. He had been so angry at that. Had he been there, he would have done everything in his power to prevent Max from risking himself like that. It had been quite a surprise to find that not only was the girl involved Claudia Parker's granddaughter, but that Max appeared to have fallen in love with her. He wondered what he should do about this, but the voices seemed pleased. So he continued to watch, and at the moment, all four of his wards were in the same place. And duty called. Max had been the recent target of an attack by some human boys. He decided that once Claudia was safely in the building with her family, he would go and keep an eye on Max.

***

Max lay back on his bed, listening to the final refrain of the current counting crows track slowly fade away. That was just what he wished he could do, fade away. He had been through so much since that terrible day in the Crashdown when Liz was shot. Not that he would ever change healing her, no, that was the only good thing to come out of that day, the fact that he and Liz were such good... friends now. Was that all they were? He still felt so... alive, every time he saw her, which was often. There was no feeling on this whole planet that could compare to the feeling he got when he saw her smile, even if that smile was not directed at him. But lately, those smiles had been almost exclusively for him. It appeared that Liz was as attracted to him as he was to her. And therein lay the problem.

Other people had noticed this attraction. He had drawn attention to himself, and by definition, to Michael and Isabel. And the louder they screamed that he was placing them all in danger, the more obvious the truth became. Which was why he had finally given into their demands, and had agreed to stay away from Liz. But Liz, it seemed, had not agreed to stay away from him. She had sought him out that very morning. Her very presence made his heart soar, and he felt so very bad when he acted so rude to her. He had seen the hurt, hurt she did not deserve, in her eyes when he had blown her off like that. No good could ever come from his relationship with Liz. Yes, Max just wished he could fade away.

***

Claudia watched Kyle and Liz leave for the video store. She sat back in one of the booths in the café, drinking her coffee, and thinking about the conversation she had with Liz and Maria earlier. Whoever this Max was, it was obvious to Claudia that Liz held deep feelings for him, she believed that Liz might even be in love with him. Even Maria seemed to sense a kind of... connection between them. Then there were the strange words Maria used to describe this Max, different life form, a spacey man. She sensed that Maria too held this Max in high regard, so her words were not meant to belittle him. Could it be that not only was Max her Zan, but Liz knew that he was an alien? She felt a wave of excitement, surprised that she no longer felt jealous. She could hardly wait to discuss this further with Liz. She could hardly wait to meet Max.

A strange feeling swept over Claudia, a kind of prickling that started at the back of her head, behind her ears, and swept down her spine. It was the kind of shiver that made people exclaim that someone had just walked over their grave. Two young men, Orthodontists, entered the Crashdown, and looked around. Claudia saw their eyes linger a little too long on her. Why look at an old woman when there were cheerleader types in other booths? Claudia knew something was wrong, that these men were here to harm her, when they sat in the booth behind her. She was about to leave when she felt the hot wave of energy strike her. She felt her heart contract, as somehow, arteries were squeezed together. With a shortness of breath, she knew the men behind her were aliens, and that they were killing her.

"Mrs Parker!" shouted the waitress, little realising that she had interrupted the attempted murder.

No, groaned Claudia. I haven't given her the message yet. Who will protect Liz? My poor Honeybear.

***

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The Importance of Being Elizabeth - Book 4

Post by WR » Sun Oct 19, 2008 4:02 pm

Part 14

October 1999


Ren and Denbers sat in their pickup, in the car park outside the hospital, and watched the comings and goings through the door.

"Did you do it?"

"Yeah. I made sure she wouldn't recover. They just called a Code Blue on her, which I gather is bad. That girl is really close to her. I had to stop her from going in with them. She would have seen me for sure."

"The girl's still in there, right?" Ren asked.

"Yeah. She went in there with that blonde. You know, the other waitress."

"Okay. When the girl comes out, you distract her, and I'll kill her."

"What if they come out together, her and the blonde?"

"We'll kill them both. But we'll dispose of the bodies out in the desert somewhere. I'm not eager to be involved in another manhunt. I just want to get out of here, and find Nikolas."

"You would have thought that he might have made it easier for us. You know, sent a signal or something."

"Shh, someone's coming."


One of the Sheriff's deputies was walking along the lines of cars, using his flashlight to check that all seemed in order. He carefully checked each of the vehicles parked along the side of the access road. Finally he came to the truck that Ren and Denbers were sitting in.

"Good evening, deputy...," Denbers greeted him politely, staring at his name badge, "Owen."

"Good evening, gentlemen." Deputy Owen nodded, shining the flashlight into their faces. "Can I help you at all?"

"No, deputy, thanks." Ren answered. "We're just waiting on someone."

"Uh huh." The deputy nodded, and glanced up at the hospital door. "That someone wouldn't happen to be a small dark haired young woman, now, would it?"


Ren and Denbers looked at each other in shock, and then looked back to the deputy. Ren, being nearest to the deputy reached his hand out to him. Deputy Owen brought the flashlight down sharply onto the emerging arm, and then grabbed it, pushing it downwards. Caught by surprise, Ren cried out in pain. Denbers jumped out of the other door, and raised his arm over the top of the pickup's cab. The deputy pointed his free arm at him, hand raised upwards. Denbers flew backwards, and the small of his back struck a fire hydrant. Denbers exploded in a shower of dust. The deputy then pulled open the door, still holding the arm against it. Placing his hand against the struggling man's chest, it started to glow. The deputy made a connection, and in trying to heat up the body, realised he was succeeding in only heating up some special kind of symbiotic suit. He quickly found what it's weakness was, and realised that the other man was destroyed by the strike against his back, and not from his energy blast. Struggling with Ren, he was able to pull him from the cab, and roll him over. Despite his frantic struggles, Ren was unable to prevent himself being pinned to the floor. It took a few attempts, but Deputy Owen soon found, and hit the weak spot. Ren exploded in a shower of dust.

The deputy retrieved his flashlight, and closed the doors to the pick-up. After a glance around the darkness of the parking area, and satisfying himself that no one had witnessed the short struggle, he walked towards the building, and ducked into a dark alcove. He pulled out a small clear box with little white candies inside, and popped a few into his mouth. Holding his hand upwards, and outwards, he concentrated. With a shining inner light, his features slowly transformed into that of a younger Native American, wearing denims and a plain T-shirt, and started to walk towards the edge of town. He paused for a minute, and looked back at the hospital.

"Good bye Claudia White," the man said sadly. "I am sorry that I could not protect you, but I will look after your granddaughter for you. Thank you for everything."

***

It was dark when Claudia woke up. She rose from her bed, and looked around her. She was standing in a dark room, with only the bed for furniture. On the bed, lay the body of weak old women, with silvery grey hair. She was looking at herself, she realised. To one side of her sat her son Jeff, and her daughter-in-law, Nancy. To the other was a bright light, a tunnel. She felt an irresistible pull from the tunnel. She turned towards it, preparing to make her way towards the light, when she felt her presence.

"Mom, Dad?" she heard Liz say, waking her parents from a doze. "Hi guys. I got you a cup."

"Thank you," Nancy said softly, taking the coffee from Liz.

"Got it?" Liz asked. "Why don't you guys go outside and get some air?"

"You sure?" Nancy asked, a little relieved that they might stretch their legs.

Claudia looked on her family with pride. They cared for each other so much.

"Yeah, I'll be fine, ok?"

When her parents had left, Liz sat beside the prone figure by Claudia's side.

"Grandma..." she called "grandma..."


Just then, a figure entered the room, completely hidden by the shadows.

"Hey," Claudia heard a young man's voice call. This was probably just Kyle.

"I can't stop... you know... what's going to happen," he continued "but maybe I can... help you say goodbye."

What was he talking about, Claudia wondered? The strange young man sat beside her, and took her body's arm. She felt a strange calling in her head. She sensed Zan calling her. Was this young man Max? She could sense a tentative connection to him, but it was not quite tangible. She could not reply to him.

"I'm sorry," the young man sighed, when Claudia felt the connection fade.

"Thank you," she heard Liz cry.

Suddenly, Claudia felt the outpouring of love from Liz into the Max. Although her own connection to Max was weak, she sensed that she could connect to Liz through him. Finding herself in Liz's subconscious, she detected a number of latent abilities in her, causing her to again re-evaluate her amazing granddaughter. She used one of these abilities to project an image of herself into the room.

She could feel all of Liz's feelings, and it was incredible. Claudia's own love for Zan was nothing compared to the love Liz held for Max. With love this powerful, she knew that they would not fail. But it was a young love, untried, untested. She knew that in order for Liz and her Max to succeed they would have to be tested. They would have to pass through the forges of doubt and indecision in order to come out the other side, the completed article. That which does not kill us makes us stronger, she remembered. There would be tough times ahead for these two, and her heart ached for the misery they would suffer.

Seeing the young man beside her bed, Claudia remembered the image she saw the night the Anasazi Medicine Man broke Taysha's spirit stone It was of a handsome young man, with short, dark hair, and deep brown eyes. The eyes held a sort of other worldliness about him. She had never seen him before, but she knew he was important. He was looking at her with concern, and care, but all his feeling were directed at someone else, unseen by her. She now knew she had been seeing Max, here at her bedside, and his feelings had been directed at Liz.

"Honeybear," she called.

Liz looked around at her image, and then back to the body on the bed. When Liz returned to look at Claudia's image, Claudia spoke.

"Let me guess...Max." she nodded towards the dark haired young man.

"Grandma, I guess the thing I wanted to say to you more than anything else is just how much you mean to me, and somehow you just always manage to make me feel really special, and I, I just don't know what I'm going to do without you."

Liz had tears running down her face.

"You're going to do just fine, and I want to tell you something," Claudia encouraged her. There was so much to say. What message could she give? "When I look at you so excited about life, I see myself, and that's a gift, a gift that I will take with me, that I'll always treasure."

A message! What message do you give someone who has such an important task? What would Zan say? Then she knew. The prefect message. One which could in no way, give any advantage to their enemy.

"Promise me one thing, that you'll follow your heart wherever it takes you. Trust it. Will you do that?

"I will," Liz confirmed.

"Done!" whispered the voice in Claudia's mind.


The connection was broken, Claudia's body had died. She felt at peace, for she had given her granddaughter the message. Zan, or rather, Max would look after her now. Of that, she had no doubt. With a deep sigh, Claudia turned towards the light again.

"You have done well, Claudia Parker," came a familiar voice beside her.

She turned to see Clarence.

"Hello, Clarence," she smiled, without the slightest trace of surprise. "What do you mean?"

"The message. It was very good."

"It was what Zan, and Dave told me to do," she smiled. "They already love each other. What better thing to do than follow their hearts?"

"Quite so."

"It... they won't have an easy time, will they?" she asked softly.

"It is as you said, Claudia Parker. If it was not complicated, then they would not be soul mates."

"But they will be in such pain."

"Sadly, yes. And it will last for some time. But they will be stronger for it."

"Will they ever be happy?"

"One can certainly hope so, Claudia Parker," Clarence answered shaking his head. "One can certainly hope so."

There was a momentary silence while they watched Max comfort Liz, holding her tightly in his arms while she wept.

"Look after them for me, Clarence," Claudia sadly sighed, as she turned again for the light.

"Where are you going?" Clarence asked.

"Zan was never mine, but Dave was," she smiled. "And he is waiting for me."

"Your task is not finished yet, Claudia Parker. There is one more thing for you to do."

"What must I do now?" Claudia asked, her voice showing her anguish.
"As you have saved Taysha's soul, we will need you to save Max's heart."

"Can't Liz do that?"

"No, Claudia Parker," Clarence sighed sadly. "It will be Elizabeth who will destroy it."

End of Book 4

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The Importance of Being Elizabeth - Book 5

Post by WR » Sun Oct 19, 2008 4:06 pm

The Importance of Being Elizabeth Book 5

Disclaimer: I, in no way, am associated with the actors, writers, producers, etc. of Roswell. The rights to the show belong to: 20th Century Fox, Jason Katims, the WB, Melinda Metz, etc.

Summary: Max and Liz need to get together, it's the third and final attempt. Neither believe it's meant to be. Who will have the strength to take that important step, and can they defeat the evil one they know nothing about? Takes place after Viva Las Vegas, there is no Sean, and no Stepford Max. Be sure to read the rest of this story first.

Category: Max/Liz

Rating: PG

Authors Note: This takes up the Max and Liz story from after Viva Las Vegas. There is no Sean, Alex is still alive.
My thanks go to all members of the RBI for their theories, and for their opinions of mine. More thanks to all of you who have posted feedback, and to anyone who takes the time to read my story. My special thanks go to three very special people, Qfanny, Shapeshifter and Bluecornmoon, without whose help, kindness and encouragement this would have never appeared. Oh, and thank you Alexis, for your kind words of support, and redhawk for your wonderful artwork.


Coming soon!

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The Importance of Being Elizabeth Part 5

Post by WR » Sun Oct 26, 2008 10:09 am

Part 1

Max Evans sat in the booth of the Crashdown Cafe, the remains of his meal spread across the back of the table, while he studied the open notebook in front of him. Occasionally, he would scribble some notes in the margin of the book, and then he would continue reading. Although he knew that Liz was currently working, he was making every effort not to look at her, to give her the 'space' she felt she needed. It was a difficult task. He had even made sure that he sat in one of the booths that Maria served, though it earned him an evil glare from the blonde waitress.

"Hey Max," he heard, as someone slid into the seat opposite him. Max looked up to see Tess.

"Hey Tess," he answered with a smile, receiving a look of disgust from Maria for his politeness.

Although he had rejected this whole destiny thing, he was still pleased to see her. Since their sojourn to New York, he had come to see Tess in a new light. She gave him her wholehearted support, always backing him up, which he really, really needed these days, and she asked nothing in return. He was fond of her... no, he could honestly say that he... loved her. Not the deep love that Tess claimed she remembered sharing on Antar, but the brotherly love, almost, but not quite, like that he held for Isabel.

"What's up?" he continued.


"Uhm...you know the big dance at school in two weeks time?" she asked nervously.

Max just knew that she would want him to go with her, to be her date. He had no problem with being seen with Tess, even at a big social function like a school dance. It was just that he did not really want to attend a High School occasion. An occasion where he might see... Max looked over to where Liz was serving a group of the Blue and Gold clad jocks, members of the football team. No, Max could not bear the thought of watching Liz, his lovely, wonderful... Liz, enjoying herself in the arms of someone else. And he did not want her to feel uncomfortable, so he decided if he avoided these things, she would be free to find her... 'normal' boyfriend, the one she wanted so much. Max released a deep, almost painful sigh.

"I'm not really up for it," he said softly. "But maybe we could, ahh... get a movie... or something?"

He really did not want to offend Tess. She really did deserve better. He knew that she felt awkward when he rejected her advances like this, and he was trying so hard to be a friend to her. Tess smiled at his transparent attempt to be nice to her.


"Another time, Max," she laughed at his startled expression. "No, I knew that you wouldn't want to go."

Tess looked over at Liz, who was clipping the order she had just taken to the stand above the counter.

"I just thought I'd talk to you about this first, before I gave him my answer. It's just that Kyle... asked me to go with him. I knew you wouldn't want to go, I knew you wouldn't ask me, so I sort of said yes, unless you don't want me to."

"No Tess," Max smiled. "You go. Have fun."

Inside, Max felt really bad. It was almost like Kyle was getting his revenge for Max taking Liz away from him. Not only did he get Liz, in the end; he would also end up getting Tess. Perhaps Max's self control let him down, and something showed on his face, or perhaps Tess sensed something deep within Max, but she placed her hand on his. She smiled when he did not instinctively pull away. Those days had long since passed.

"It'll all be okay, Max," she smiled sympathetically.

"Will it, Tess?" he asked, looking up and meeting her eyes. For the first time, Tess could see the hurt in them. "'Cause from where I'm sitting, nothing will ever be okay again."

"Do you want me to stay with you a while?" she asked, hesitantly.

"No," he smiled softy, shaking his head. "Thanks anyway, Tess, but I'm... okay. I've got this homework to do. I'm sure you have a million better things to do than sit here with me."

"Yeah," she laughed. "I could always wash my hair again."

Tess slid from the booth, and looked down on Max for a moment.

"Goodnight Max," she said softly.

"Right. Good night Tess."


As Tess left his table, Max reached for his coke, and was annoyed to find it empty. He looked around to see if he could find Maria, intent on asking her for a refill. What he saw made him freeze. Liz was again at the table with the jocks; she was laughing and smiling at Robert Kalinowski. It had been some time since Max has seen Liz laugh like that. It warmed his heart to see her happy, but it killed him inside, that it was not he who was making her feel that good. Robert was the star quarterback of the high school football team, and there were rumors that many major colleges were making overtures towards him, in the hope of recruiting him for their team. In school, he was big news. Looking back down at his book, Max felt his heart sink.

It was bad enough that she wanted someone normal, but someone as high profile as Robert would mean that he could not move without seeing her with him, or hearing about their latest exploits. Max could not stay and watch this; it was way too hard. Packing his books away, he left a ten-dollar bill on the table. It would cover his meal, and leave Maria a good tip. Call it thanks, for all her help.

As he reached the door, he paused, and turned to look again at the Cafe that he had practically grown up in. He carefully studied the booth that had come to be known as their 'regular' booth, the tables, and the counter. He glanced at the jukebox that had eaten so many of his quarters, and the drink dispensers from which many of his drinks had been poured. His eyes misted as he looked at the floor where all this had started, where he had healed Liz so long ago. It seemed a lifetime. He looked over to take a long look at Liz, noting the relaxed manner that Robert had brought out of her, and that his hand was on her arm. She was laughing at something. He then looked at Maria, who was looking back, quizzically almost, at him. Max nodded to her, and turning, left the Crashdown.

Max crossed the road to his jeep, parked outside the UFO Center, swung into his seat, and sat motionless for a while. He was looking through the large plate glass window, his eyes glued to the dark haired waitress who, though she no longer wanted it, still held his heart. She might be able to move on, but Max could not. He was glad that she was able to get on with her life, her happiness meant everything to him, and if the only way for her to be happy was to be with someone else, then so be it. But Max was unable to move on. Deep inside him, he had always known that it would be Liz, or no one. He felt sorry for Tess, sorry that he could not love her the way she wanted, like Liz appeared to want him to. He felt especially bad that he seemed to be somehow affecting a potential relationship between Kyle and Tess, but then, perhaps things were changing there, too. When he saw Liz lean down so that Robert could whisper something to her, Max frowned sadly. He had seen enough. He turned the ignition key, and fired up the Jeep's engine. He looked up at the Crashdown Sign, half of a flying saucer stuck to the side of the wall, and smiled a sad smile. As he drove away, Max knew that he had just closed another chapter in the book of his life. He would not go back to the Crashdown Cafe again.

***

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The Importance of Being Elizabeth Book 5

Post by WR » Sun Oct 26, 2008 10:11 am

Part 2

"So," Maria smiled at Liz when she came into the locker room, at the back of the Cafe. It was a very fake smile. "You seem to be getting friendly with Robert tonight."

Liz looked up at Maria, and gave a smile. Maria could see that Liz's smile was every bit as fake as her own.

"Yeah. He asked me out this Saturday night."

"And you said...?" Maria asked.

Liz pulled the antenna from her head, and put them in her locker. She looked up at Maria, her face set with determination.

"I said yes, Maria," she answered.

She had known how Maria would react. She sometimes wondered if Maria really was her best friend anymore.

"You know... I have a right to a life too. You have Michael, even though you're like a couple of yo-yos, but there is nothing to stop you being with him. Robert makes me laugh. I like him."

"But you love Max."

"No, Maria," she whispered sadly. "You know why I can't get back together with him. Anyway, I don't think he likes me anymore. He's made that clear enough. Look, he even sat in one of your booths tonight."

Liz looked up into Maria's eyes, seeing only concern from her best friend.

"I have to move on, Maria," she said softly. "I just have to. And maybe a boyfriend like Robert will help me to forget."

"Yeah, right," Maria laughed wryly. "Like Robert will make you feel a fraction of the things you felt with Max. But you know me, babe. I've got your back."

"Thank you, Maria."

***

The rest of the week went by very slowly for Liz. Max seemed to be his normal, friendly self, to start with, giving her the distance she asked him for, but remaining... friendly with her during their classes together, or when they all congregated for lunch. That all changed when the rumor began to circulate that Liz was going on a date with Robert Kalinowski. In their next lesson together, Liz felt the distance between them widen, as he never generated any conversation, and replied to her attempts with single worded replies. At lunch the next day, Max did not even turn up. In fact, he did not show up for lunch the rest of the week.

"Is Max alright?" Liz asked Isabel, when they found themselves alone together.

"Well, I guess... ah... He has a lot of work to catch up on. You know how it is." Isabel answered with a phony laugh. "It's tough at the top."

"He's always working, Isabel. When he comes into the Crashdown, he's working, doing homework. He takes the late shifts at the UFO Center, and even works Sundays." Liz responded, and then she suddenly realized something. "Isabel, he hasn't been to the Crashdown since Tuesday night. Is he like, avoiding me now?"

Isabel looked carefully at Liz, the girl she knew to be in possession of her brother's heart. She guessed that Max's disappearance had something to do with the rumors of Liz's date with Robert tomorrow night, but she did not realize he had not been to the Crashdown.

"No, I'm sure it's not that, Liz," Isabel smiled. Her smile was a little too forced.

***

Max liked the late shift at the UFO Center, especially at weekends. There were few visitors, and this gave Max the solitude his broken heart demanded. He had surprised Brody a few weeks ago when he volunteered to work weekends, something no one really wanted to do. He never questioned his motives, but Max suspected that Brody knew only too well the reasons why.

"Max?" Isabel called, as she entered into the vast chamber.

"Over here, Iz," he answered, calling from the computer where he was logging the latest data Brody had collected from some computer printouts.

Isabel walked over, and stood behind her brother, watching the figures he typed in.

"So what's this?" she asked, curiously. They all knew about Brody and his drive to accumulate data on anything extra terrestrial.

"I'm not really sure," Max smiled. "I think that it's birth information of abductees. Brody's keen on finding some kind of link.
I typed in my details an hour ago. I think it might throw his correlation a bit off. But that's not what you came to find out, right?"

"No," she smiled gently. "I spoke to Liz today."

"Oh?" he looked up quickly. The concern in his eyes told Isabel that he still deeply cared for Liz, no matter what his actions spoke. "Is she all right?"

"Yeah, uhm... she's fine," she replied. "It's just... she said... uh, she said you haven't been in the Crashdown for a while."

"I was there the other night," he answered, feigning a look of confusion. "Tuesday, I think."

"But not since, right?"

"I've been a bit busy, Iz," he defended himself. "You know, work, school, fearless leader of a rebellion on a planet millions of light years away. Everyday teenage stuff."

"She thinks you're avoiding her."

Isabel noticed Max's discomfort, she knew that Liz had been right. Max was avoiding Liz.

"Thought so."


Max looked at floor, and then back up to his sister.

"You know, Iz," he smiled. "I get so caught up in my own... misery, I forget that you have your problems too. Thanks. For caring about me, I mean."

"You're my brother, Max," she frowned. "Whatever happened, whatever happens, you will always be my brother."

She placed her hand on his shoulder. Max reached up and placed his own hand over hers.

"But how are you holding up, you know... Alex?"

"Well," she sighed. "We're friends, and all. But since he came back from Sweden, it's like," Isabel paused, and walked away from Max, looking at a picture on the wall. "It's like he's a different person."

"Travel will do that to you," Max smiled. "Liz wants to travel. I told her she should go. She wanted me to go with her."

"When was this?"

"The other week, just after Alex came back. She met me in the Eraser room. We talked..."

"The eraser room, Max?" Isabel laughed. "Alone with Liz? I bet that tested you."

"Yeah. I think it was a way of saying goodbye."

"She still loves you Max."

"No. I don't think so. In fact I know so," he sighed. "It's just things she said."

"Not things she's done?"

Max shook his head, looking back at the floor.


Isabel took a deep breath.

"About the dance next Saturday night. Michael and I want you to come with us. I think Michael is taking Maria. Alex isn't sure, but he thinks he might be able to make it. You already know Tess and Kyle are..."

"Yeah. She told me the other day."

"You're okay with that, right?" she asked.

"Yeah," he smiled. "Yeah, I am. I'm glad she's happy, Tess, I mean."

"So you'll come? To the dance."

"No, I don't think so Iz," he shook his head. "I'll have to work."

"You're afraid you'll see her there, aren't you."

Max looked at Isabel, realizing just whom it was he was talking to. His shoulders slumped in defeat.

"I don't think I could take seeing her happy in someone else's arms, Iz."

***

"So, Michael?" Maria asked, leaning into the kitchen where he was flipping some burgers. "Are we going to do something tonight, or what?"

"What," Michael grunted.

Maria stared at him for a while.

"Figures," she sighed, shaking her head, and collected the order waiting for her on the counter.

She took the order to the customer, and after bidding that he enjoy his meal, she returned to the counter.

"You are going to the dance next Saturday, aren't you?" she asked.

"Yeah," he answered. "Isabel's going to get Max to go. It will do him some good to get out. It's time he moved on anyway."

"You think he should be with Tess?" she demanded.

"Well, Liz doesn't deserve him."

"Excuse me?" she demanded. "What do you mean by that?"

"You heard," he grunted.

"And just why do you say that?" she asked.

"Look at the way she treats him. Since last May, she has done nothing but hurt him. And still the idiot crawls back for more."

"Oh, well in case you hadn't noticed. It's not like he's throwing himself at Tess. And in any case, how can you miss how close Tess has been getting to Kyle? So what are you going to do? Point to the girls at the dance and say 'There you go Max, take your pick'? Oh yeah, I can just see you accepting another person into your Alien Fraternization Club."

Michael looked at her, uncomfortably. He was not happy talking about Max like this, and insulting Liz just did not... feel right.

"You want to catch a movie after work?" he asked, hoping to change the subject.

"I am so there," she squealed with excitement, reaching for her purse.

***

'Ye Olde Worlde Tea Shoppe' was not a patch on the Crashdown, and was definitely not the place that teenagers frequented. It was more the place where the elderly ladies of Roswell gathered to discuss the latest goings on in a town famous for rumors. It was quiet; it was... well, boring.

But it was Liz free. It was free of anything that would remind Max about a life he once had. That was why he liked to hang out here now. He would get his books out at the small table in the corner, and savor a cup of tea, surreptitiously using his powers to keep it warm, while he dragged it out. During the course of the past few days, he had sampled a number of different teas, Earl Grey, Darjeeling, Lapsang Souchong, Assam. The chimes above the door rang, but Max did not look up. None of his friends knew he was here, he kept his whereabouts quiet. He wanted his solitude. More than that, he did not want to know about Liz's date tomorrow night. Someone sat in the seat opposite him.

"So, the Crashdown is not classy enough for our great leader?" Maria asked, merriment in her eyes."

"Oh, uh..." Max stammered, "Hey Maria. What's up?"

"I don't know, Max," she stated. "You tell me."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, what are you doing here? How come you never come to the Crashdown anymore?"

"I just felt like a cup of tea, for a change. That's all."

"Tea my foot," Maria stated. "You're avoiding Liz, aren't you?"

Max just looked at Maria, but it was enough confirmation for her.

"What happened to the great man that likened himself to JFK? What happened to the great leader who told his woman he was coming for her?"

"She's not interested, Maria," he said sadly. "And I'm not going to stalk her."


"You look terrible Max," Maria said gently, placing her hand on Max's arm.

He glanced up at her and smiled.

"I'm okay," he said, quietly.

"No," she stated. "No, you are not okay. It's this date Liz has, isn't it?"

Max looked down to his notebook.

"Max, why don't we catch a movie together. Tomorrow night. Help take your mind off it. You know, like last summer?"

Max thought about it for a while.

"What if he takes her to the cinema?" he asked quietly.

"We can rent a video. What do you say?"

"Okay."

"Great Max. Come by my house about seven o'clock," she enthused, rising from her seat.

"Maria, wait," Max called. "What about Michael?"

"He's working. But I'll tell him, so you won't have to worry."

***

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