Scars of White (AA, CC, MATURE) Part 65 2/19 (WIP)

For stories that are mostly conventional in their couplings, but might explore one UC relationship, or might explore a UC relationship to some degree. It is also for stories where to reveal the eventual pairings in an Author’s Note might spoil the story. It is also for character driven fic that focuses mostly on one specific character. Main character death fics might also be safer here. This is a "read at your own risk" forum. Please read Forum Rules for more information.

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dreamon
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Re: Scars of White (AA, CC, MATURE) Poll reg next part 9/28 (WIP)

Post by dreamon »

Let’s see what Isabel is thinking!
I have a few dreamer challenges in mind if you are looking for ideas so pm me!
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Re: Scars of White (AA, CC, MATURE) Poll reg next part 9/28 (WIP)

Post by clueless »

I think it would be nice to get a mothers perspective
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Re: Scars of White (AA, CC, MATURE) Poll reg next part 9/28 (WIP)

Post by MP »

I vote for the pov that will get us a new part the fastest!!!
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Re: Scars of White (AA, CC, MATURE) Poll reg next part 9/28 (WIP)

Post by dreamon »

Trick or Treat!

Definitely stopping by for a treat😉
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Re: Scars of White (AA, CC, MATURE) Poll reg next part 9/28 (WIP)

Post by Stefuh »

I'm finally caught up with this! Sorry that it took me so long!

God, I was so sad when Max told his father about his son, but I think what brought me more to tears was when Max was devouring the pie since he's been malnourished, it broke my heart. :( I'm glad that Max and Liz were able to deactivate the chip!! I don't want them control his powers anymore, that's beyond scary! Oh, and an army of Max... it's true that it could be useful against Kivar. I'm so glad that Liz is there for Max since he needs it a lot right now.

And well, I don't know if I'm too late to vote, but I'd vote for Isabel.

Can't wait for the next update!! :mrgreen:
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Re: Scars of White (AA, CC, MATURE) Poll reg next part 9/28 (WIP)

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Missing this!!!
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Re: Scars of White (AA, CC, MATURE) Poll reg next part 9/28 (WIP)

Post by dreamon »

Is it time for a new part yet?
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Re: Scars of White (AA, CC, MATURE) Poll reg next part 9/28 (WIP)

Post by clueless »

Hope all is well!
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Re: Scars of White (AA, CC, MATURE) Poll reg next part 9/28 (WIP)

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Just checking in
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Part 65

Post by behrinthecity »

I finally managed to finish this part. Will respond to messages tomorrow-- but want to say thank you all.


Enjoy.


Previously…


[From Toy House]

“I've wanted to tell mom. I've wanted to tell her every day for the last ten years,” Isabel implored her brother. Her voice wavered with desperate hope that he would finally agree with her— that for once he would follow her wishes.

But he did not yield.

Patronizingly, Max started, “Isabel, I know how you feel—”

Not willing to listen to the same argument Max had always made when he overruled her on whether to tell their mother, Isabel cut him off. “I don't think you do. I'm her daughter. A mother and a daughter...” she trailed off as her mind brought up the treasured memories of her mother combing her hair and chatting about their day. “…it's just different,” Isabel finished her impassioned plea.





She really thought Max would finally tell their mom.

The guilt and tension etched into Max’s face as he told Isabel what happened deflated any anger she had. She was filled with only disappointment and sorrow. Tearfully, she clung to her brother as she confessed, “I just wanted her to know. I wanted her to know so bad.”


[From Graduation]



As Max took to the stage and sent away that bald headed omen, Isabel knew this was it… the end. Panic and despair filled her chest as her mind desperately searched for what she could salvage of her life.

They’re here to say goodbye.

She released a breath knowing what she had to do.

Following the instruction in her brother’s farewell, she turned to Jesse with bittersweet determination.

Seeing the confusion and wariness in his beautiful face, she couldn’t bear to look at him for too long lest she changed her mind. Blindly yanking off her rings, she answered his unspoken question.

“This is it.” She couldn't even believe what she was saying, but she did her best to suppress her emotions behind her wall of ice so that she could set Jesse free. She allowed herself a moment though to hold his warm hands. For that brief second his strong comforting touch almost melted her resolve.

Leaving the golden symbols of their love in his hands, she whispered an anguished apology, “maybe in my next life.”

Her eyes burned with unshed tears over the unfairness of it all.

Answering her father's question, she gave him and her mother a desperate hug each. She hoped that they knew how much they meant to her. While grateful they finally knew the truth about her and Max’s origins, she wished it hadn’t been under these circumstances. As she stood up to leave, she glanced back up at the stage praying she wouldn't lose Max as well. That wherever she ended up, they would find each other again.


[From Part 52A]


A black and white video of a newly revived, bandaged, and cuffed Max being interrogated played on the laptop screen—

The general scoffed. “Your sister was found with you in the desert back in 1989. Are you saying that was a coincidence?”

Max held the general’s gaze steady, a sudden fire of determination in his amber eyes. “She doesn’t talk about how she came to be abandoned in the desert, but when she came across me, she was clothed. She offered me her sweater, but I didn’t know what it was and didn’t take it. So, she threw off all her clothes to make me more comfortable. She…” Max broke off momentarily looking at his hands. “Once she held my hand she never let go.”

“…what about this? The tape is clearly a home video, and the date is the day before we searched your home.”

“Isabel always encouraged me to tell our parents the truth. I was… afraid. And so, she finally came up with the plan that she would pretend to have powers so that I would finally tell them.”






Max embraced Isabel, whispering in her ear, “I’m sorry, I didn’t let you in.”

“Don’t you ever shut me out again,” she admonished.

Pushing a few stray strands from her face, he avowed, “promise.”

Grasping his hand, Isabel warned, “I’ll hold you to that.”


[From Part 61]


Spying the mulish expression on Max’s face, Jim added pointedly, “career aspirations can change. She’s young.” Jim thought to add that so was Max, but seeing the aged weariness in Max’s eyes, he decided against it for the moment. “After she’s settled, she may pursue it again after all. But that’s her choice.””


[From Part 64]


Liz was considering how to broach telling Max what she had discussed with Cal when Max asked, “Should I tell Cal about… what we found?”

The timidness in Max’s voice revealed how much he was still reeling from their discovery.

“Share with him what you’re comfortable sharing.”




PART SIXTY-FIVE


Isabel placed a book on her bedside table—the same book that housed her family photos—of her parents, her brother, and Jesse. Her finger lingered on the pages that held Jesse’s cheery face. Straightening up, she pushed a stray hair off her brow with the back of her hand; wiping off a few drops of sweat.

Her lips were pressed together tightly as she surveyed her room.

It still didn’t feel right.

Nervous energy thrummed through her system as she sought a resolution that would help her feel at ease and complete.

Shaking her head, she made a hum of disapproval. With a flick of her hand, the room was once again back in disarray.

Releasing a silent breath, she readied herself to arduously reorganize the room for the third time that night.

As she lifted the cushioned stool into an upright position she heard light, but insistent knocking at her door.

Panic flashed in her eyes as she expected the worst, Did Max have a relapse?

Ignoring the mess, she hurriedly opened her door.

"Morning sweetheart," Diane began in a deliberately tender, affectionate voice.

Dismissing her surprise that it was already morning, Isabel quickly surveyed her mother. She spied Diane twisting a handkerchief in her shaky hands.

With concern, she ushered Diane to sit on the cushioned stool and crouched in front of her.

"What happened," Isabel queried breathlessly.

Looking up from the tortured cloth, Diane began, "I overheard…" She trailed off as she registered the mess in the room.

Diane instantly admonished Isabel. "Isabel! I taught you better than this. How did you al—"

Isabel cut her off, "it's just a way to distract myself. I create a mess..." She waved her hand to imply the use of her alien powers, "...and then tidy it up the slow, manual way. Sorry that you caught it at the beginning..." Isabel softly apologized as she ducked her head in shame.

Feeling a hand on her shoulder, Isabel looked up.

"What's the matter, sweetie?" Her mother's voice was devoid of her prior chastisement.

Isabel felt her heart ache at hearing those words. It had been years since she had last heard it; the warmth of her mother's voice drew her in. She felt she was the nine-year old girl leaning into her mother's embrace. A compulsion to reveal all that was on her mind swelled in her chest. As she always trusted as a child— her mom would know what to do and would make it all better.

She blinked back tears and cleared her throat. Standing up she began to pace.

"I haven't been able to reach Jesse," she confided.

Isabel fought back a sob bubbling in her throat at the understanding and compassion in her mother's eyes.

"When did you try?" Diane's question was spoken in a gentle soothing tone.

"Last night I tried a few times... but..." She shrugged haplessly.

"Could he just be awake? I can't tell you how many times your father pulled all-nighters."

Though her eyes still shone with unshed tears, Isabel smiled— part hopeful and part chagrined. Nodding a couple of times, she admitted, "the last time we talked, he did say he was about to fight for the most important contract he's ever done."

Diane gave her an encouraging smile. "And when was that?"

"When we were on the plane..." Isabel released a soft chortle in realization. It had only been three days since that dream walk.

Placing a hand on her head, she smoothed back her hair and shook her head. She needed to chill.

Feeling a tug on her arm, her mother pulled her towards the same stool. Grabbing the brush that was on her bed, Diane began to gently brush Isabel's hair.

Isabel was grateful she wasn't sitting in front of the mirror. If she visually witnessed what was happening, she would begin sobbing.

This is what she could never explain to Max or Michael. The special bond between mother and daughter.

The moment, however, ended too soon.

"How about I help you tidy up? I could use a distraction myself," Diane offered.

Isabel smiled in gratitude, not wanting this moment to end.

Her mother had gone to open the curtain. Still sitting on the stool, Isabel's mouth slightly opened as the brightening sunlight showed how long she had been reorganizing her room without a break. She quickly waved her hand to turn off the room's light.

With no other light to compete, the morning light danced in. The beam reflected off one of the items tangled within her blanket.

Both ladies followed the twinkling light; one curious, the other melancholic.

Reaching out to it first, Isabel extracted the glinting object. No longer clutching its treasure, the blanket lay in a wrinkled heap on the bed. Diane picked up the rumpled cloth and automatically began to fold it.

Glancing at Isabel, she spied her looking contemplatively at a house-shaped glass sculpture.

Placing the folded blanket at the foot of the bed, she went to Isabel's side.

"That looks like the toy house I gave Max," she remarked in an airy tone.

Isabel nodded as she offered a watery smile to her mother.

"Back then that house seemed like a way to contact home." Bending her head, Isabel sniffed. "I remember so many nights, Max would fall asleep clutching it to his chest. I... I thought maybe it would help me find Max... and bring him h-home." She hiccupped as a sob escaped her.

Feeling her mother's arms around her, Isabel leaned into the comforting hug.

"You did," her mother soothed.

Isabel blinked away the tears pooling in her eyes, but stayed quiet, only releasing another sniff. The overwhelming despair every time she had failed to connect still felt raw. Her mind easily became lost to those anguished moments and fuelled her fears that she could lose Max again. She knew her brother was back physically, but the appearances of Zan made her worry if he really would remain Max.

As her mother began to rub her back in comfort, Isabel realized she never found out what had spooked her mother.

Shifting in Diane's arms, Isabel asked in a hushed tone, "you overheard something?"

Isabel's stomach flip-flopped as she watched her mother's face draw tight with tension.

In the seconds it took for Diane to answer, Isabel's thoughts dredged up the horrific images she was privy to when she connected to Max. She could only hope her mother hadn't seen any of that be it through connection or the surveillance videos.

"Jim was talking to your father about what happened when he found Max last night. He said that Max had created a shield but was in pain." Facing Isabel with concerned eyes, Diane asked, "Does using your powers cause you pain?"

At the imploring look on her mother's face and the devastated current to her words, Isabel rushed to assure her. "No!"

Placing her hands on Diane's arms, she stated emphatically, "the powers are natural extensions of us— it doesn't hurt."

Diane closed her eyes in relief, she reached out to smooth Isabel's hair as a sign of affection.

Isabel leaned into the caress with a tilt of her head.

"So, the pain was from whatever was done to him over the past year?"

Isabel's eyes widened at the fury that laced her mother's words.

"I'll find out," Isabel promised. While that seemed to temporarily pacify Diane, Isabel's mind was mulling over the statement that Max had been in pain from his shield. She knew when he healed it did take a lot out of him, but his shield never seemed to... the image of the jagged lights up and down Max's body suddenly sprang to mind. She definitely needed to check with Michael and Liz for any further resurgence of Zan.

Meeting her mother's gaze, she realized Diane had been studying her. Not wanting to introduce her to the idea that they had past alien identities that could take over, she thought quickly. "Max's main power has always been healing. Remember the bird?" There was a wispy quality to Isabel's voice as she referenced one of her mother's favourite home videos to watch.

Diane nodded with a touch of fond remembrance to her lips.

Isabel continued. "Depending on how much he has to heal, he can feel physically drained from it. I mean after he healed those kids at Christmas, I think it took him three days to fully recover from the exhaustion."

Diane's mouth opened in shock. Blinking two times, she finally was able to speak. "Max healed those children in Phoenix? How—why?" Her questions overlapped in her shock.

A guilty expression flitted on Isabel's face as she realized what she had mistakenly revealed. After her Christmas events and duties had finished, she had tried to convince Max that their mother's reaction to the healed children showed what she had always told him: their mother wouldn't be scared and would still love them. But Max stayed resolute against the idea. When Michael revealed how close they had come to being caught or even losing Max, she dropped it.

But their parents knew about their other worldly origins now.

Straightening up, she revealed with pride about Max’s altruistic actions, "Max heard that his boss's daughter had cancer, so he wanted to heal her. But when he went to their home, it turned out she had been taken to that hospital in Phoenix. And as they reported, he healed the other kids too."

Diane seemed to war between feelings of pride and fear. Isabel recognized the look well as she too had felt that way after Michael had told her the whole story.

"I think the distress Max was experiencing last night may have led to the pain. I mean I know I've had moments when my anger and frustration made the powers seem more..." Isabel searched for the word as her mind reminded her of times when she appeared to explode. "...potent."

Diane turned contemplative as she processed Isabel's words.

"What happens if you don't use your powers for a long time?"

Initially surprised at the question, Isabel wasn't sure how to answer. Thinking for a moment, she agreed her mother's theory was a likely factor. Her head beginning to bob in agreement, she added, "it seems possible that the pent-up energy of the last year overwhelmed him."

"Are there any smaller uses of your powers that might help him release that energy more gradually?"

At Diane's question, Isabel smiled broadly.

She placed the glass house in her open palm. Her other hand hovered above it. "Maybe something like this?" Picturing what she wanted to create she measuredly waved her other hand over the house.

Diane gasped softly.

The house in Isabel's hand was now a beautiful cerulean blue and its roof sported a reddish-brown tiled design.

Noticing her mother reaching out towards it, Isabel happily handed the house to her.

She watched as her mother pivoted the house in her aged hands. At the third turn, she caught the sunlight perfectly through it casting a lovely colourful array on the wall.

"It's beautiful," Diane breathed out.

Hearing the tears in her mother's voice, Isabel felt the familiar sheen of tears start to well up in her own eyes. It had been fourteen years of longing for this kind of closeness with her mom— to share her gifts freely and without reproach.

"You think so," she asked shyly.

Facing her squarely, Diane answered, "I do." Marvelling once more at the stained-glass house, she remarked, "we should place this where it catches the most light."

Readily agreeing, Isabel started to survey the room. As she languidly turned her head from side to side a sun beam cast upon her mother. With the glass house still in her hands, the reflected light appeared to envelope her in its ethereal glow. Though the newly stained glass of the figurine scattered a lovely array of red and blue among the champagne rays entering the room, Isabel was reminded of one of her most cherished memories.

A five year old Isabel sat at the edge of a bench, her eyes darting between her brother and down the hallway. As time seemed to stretch on, the incessant ticking of the clock provided a rhythm to her oscillating thoughts about whether they would get to go with the kind couple or remain in this place. As she saw her brother bend his head down to stare at the floor, his hands clenched around the edge of the bench, she began to fidget with her hair.

The door at the end of the hallway creaked open.

Holding her hands still, she gazed with hope.

Her mother—at that time she only knew her as the nice lady who had found them— looked in their direction. The lady called the attention of the man (her father) who also helped rescue them. Together they walked closer to her and her brother with smiles on their faces.

As they approached, she gazed in wonder at seeing the sun so closely. She realized later it was the bright yellow sweater that her mother wore.

Her mother’s open arms were the sun rays reaching out to her with the promise of warmth and safety. As she leapt into her mother’s arms, she knew they were safe… the sun had found them in the darkness and led them home.


Blinking away the sheen of tears that had sprung to her eyes, Isabel smiled brightly at her mother.

Clearing her throat of the sudden emotion swelling up in her, Isabel offered, “I’d like you to have it.”

Diane’s eyes flickered in surprise.

Isabel continued, “please consider it a belated Mother’s Day gift.”

“Oh honey, having you and your brother back is all I need.”

Isabel bobbed her head as she stepped closer to her mother.

“I once told you how I felt when you adopted us… that you were the sun.” As she exhaled, Isabel’s words hung in the air. “Keeping the house with you is all the light it needs.”

Diane caressed Isabel’s cheek. “Isabel…” she whispered; deeply touched.

“I don’t need the house anymore.” Isabel’s eyes glistened as she affirmed, “we found Max.”

Placing her hand on the house held within her mother’s hand. “You won’t lose us ever again,” she asserted.

Diane’s lips wobbled for a moment before she moved her hand from Isabel’s cheek and firmly placed it on top of Isabel’s hand. “Thank you,” she stated sincerely.

Isabel touched her forehead to her mother’s. Her eyes closed, she mentally sent her heartfelt messages of love, gratitude, and hope.

Feeling a warm tingling under her hand, she opened her eyes.

A gleaming light flickered between their hands.

Diane looked between Isabel and the house in wonder. As they both opened their hands so that the house was in full view, they spied a swirl of white light within the house.

Isabel matched the astonished expression on her mother’s face. She never had transferred energy quite like this before. Sure, she had used her powers to play her CDs without a discman and make an impromptu snowfall, but she had no idea what this was.

Entranced by the moving swirl of light, Isabel lightly touched the house. Her vision filled with the memory of getting adopted. Blinking back into the present she saw her mother’s teary face. Before Isabel could ask what was wrong, she found herself in a crushing hug.

Leaning back Diane’s hands near Isabel’s shoulders, she murmured, “adopting you and your brother was my wish come true. Finding you by the road was the answer to my prayers…” She trailed off choosing to fuss with Isabel’s hair as a melancholic silence settled upon them.

Isabel called out uncertainly, “Mom?”

Diane’s expression was overwhelmed with happiness and gratitude. Her eyes closed briefly as if she were praying. Opening her eyes, she held Isabel’s gaze.

In a steadfast voice, Diane asserted, “you and Max were-are a gift.”

Pulling her mother close, she whispered, “you are the best mother I could have ever hoped for.”

Diane sniffed. With a watery smile, she gestured to the house figurine. “How did you do that?” her voice was breathy with awe.

Still uncertain how she did it, Isabel mused out loud, “I just wanted you to share my most treasured memory.” A soft blush touched her cheeks.

Diane’s smile was full of affection as she pulled Isabel in for another hug.

A soft chime resounded above their heads. Pulling apart they heard a soothing voice speak, Brunch is ready in the formal dining room. Come to the second floor at your leisure.

Diane turned to Isabel, “all right let’s finish straightening this up and then head down.”

Lifting her arm, Isabel flicked her wrist. “I’ve got it.”

Diane looked around in awe at the pristine state of Isabel’s room.

Following her mother’s gaze, Isabel surveyed the restored room and concluded with a satisfied smile, "it's perfect."

~~~~
Twenty minutes later
Formal Dining Room



A freshly showered Max approached the dining room.

After his talk with Cal, he and Liz decided to head back to their room to rest and shower. He of course let Liz shower first and then insisted she head down while he was showering. The little quirk to Liz’s lips made him blush at what she might have been thinking when she begrudgingly agreed.

For once he had enjoyed a cooler temperature shower.

Under the refreshingly cool spray, his thoughts stayed in the present moment where no ghostly taunts or an overbearing judgement resounded in his mind.

Stepping out, towel wrapped around his waist, he took a moment to peruse the clothes in his closet. He quickly selected a dark green t-shirt, heather blue sweater, and khakis.

He was grateful for all the clothes Cal had provided, especially the baggy knit sweaters. Though the sweaters were clearly more expensive than what he had ever worn, the overall familiarity of the excessive cozy material comforted him. In such a sweater, he was given a shield to hide behind. It kept him warm and protected.

He felt safe.

As he headed downstairs, he ran into his parents.

“Oh, there’s my angel!” His mother enveloped him in a hug before he could respond.

With confusion he looked to his father, but he too wore a weepy and affectionate expression. As his mother finally relinquished him from the hug, his father instantly pulled him into a hug of his own. When the hug ended his father held him at arm’s length seemingly appraising him. His eyes still misty, he spoke, “I couldn’t be more proud of you, son.”

Max’s jaw fell slack as he gaped at him in surprise. Ducking his head with embarrassment, he mumbled his thanks. He wondered why his parents felt the need to comment again about what he did at Graduation but decided it would be better to let them express themselves.

His mother remarked with awe, “your ability to heal others… those children—”

Turning instantly to face her, he interrupted, “What children?” He had a suspicion of the children his mother had referred to but it was a reflex to deny.

With a deliberately patient face and tone, his father placed a hand on his shoulder and answered, “we know about Phoenix.”

“Y-y-you do?” He couldn’t help stuttering in his response.

The sympathetic gazes from both of his parents made him want to hide. He even had the nonsensical thought that he could shirk back into his sweater like a turtle does in its shell.

He wanted to laugh at himself, but years of hiding made him want to pretend that this conversation wasn’t happening.

His lower lip became bruised with how hard he was biting it. He knew he should say something, but all he could think over and over again: How do they know?

As he released his lip to take in a breath, his mind could finally think past his panic. After he was gone, Isabel and Liz must have told them everything else.

He closed his eyes momentarily. Isabel always trusted them.

But can her word be trusted?


“Honey?” Max opened his eyes upon hearing his mother’s voice and realized her hand was on his arm.

“Sorry.” He gave her a small smile to assure her he was okay. “Doing that… took a lot out of me,” he confessed.

“We can only imagine,” his father commented in support. He placed a hand on his back for comfort.

Feeling slightly woozy, Max was grateful for the physical backup his father’s hand provided.

“I think some food is just what you need,” Diane suggested.

With a small nod, Max gestured for his parents to lead the way.

Upon reaching the dining room, Max could hear idle chatter and laughter. Pausing in the doorway, he was encompassed by the warmth and happiness spilling out of the room.

It wasn’t the delectable aromas wafting from the numerous heating trays lining the walls that caused his stomach to rumble.

It was the soft laughter from Liz.

Turning in the direction of her voice, any tension in his face receded. The discovery that his parents knew about that overwhelming night faded in his mind. As he watched her, Maria, and Kyle chat, a besotted expression took over his face. The small upturn of her lips made his heart leap in elation.

He could almost believe that he was back in the Crashdown watching her from afar and hoping she’d head his way.

“You two go ahead,” he absentmindedly waved his parents forward.

As he continued to drink in the sight of Liz laughing, his guilt reminded him of how much she cried last night… because of him.

Forcing out a breath, he mulled over how to ensure she wouldn’t see what had occurred in that white room again.

“You know you don’t have to wait to be seated,” Isabel cattily commented.

Lost in his thoughts, he started at his sister’s voice.

With a side-eyed glance, he murmured, “I know.”

With a playful nudge to his shoulder, Isabel flashed him a smile signalling that she was only giving him a hard time.

It was almost like the clock had reset to three years ago, when she would grouse about how sappy he and Liz were together. His eyes once more shifted to Liz and her lips. Flashes of their past kisses flitted in his mind leading to a dopey smile on his face. Exhaling with contentment, his eyes began to admire Liz’s other perfect features.

“I’m sure the view is better up close,” Isabel teasingly suggested; one hand gently pushing Max forward.

Turning to Isabel to express his thanks, Max sensed Isabel had more to say.

“What is it?” His stomach began to flip flop with tension.

“Just thinking about Jesse.” Isabel’s voice was wistful.

Max’s mouth shaped out a silent ‘oh’. “I’m sorry you had to break things off—”

Isabel held up a hand to halt yet another needless apology from Max.

“What happened at Graduation was not your fault, Max.”

He looked down, guilt and shame emanating from him.

Max heard a rustle of a newspaper. “A real shame what happened to the West Roswell High graduating class… the shock of your” The agent would snort before continuing. “…death led to an unprecedented number of deferrals for college. Tsk tsk tsk. All those wasted futures…

His fists started to clench at the taunting echoes resounding in his mind.

“Max?” Isabel’s voice pitched upward in concern as she reached for his arm.

He lifted his eyes slightly to gaze at her hand. After a moment he was able to release a shaky breath.

“Good, take another deep breath,” Isabel gently guided.

Max berated himself for being weak. As the agents said, him being shot derailed all those futures, especially those close to him— Liz considering not becoming a molecular biologist and Isabel breaking it off with Jesse. Closing his eyes momentarily he recalled one more way he derailed his sister’s future.

You can’t go.

The imperiousness of the command and his refusal to listen to his sister felt no different than how the agents treated him.

On his third exhale, Max made a decision.

Jim was right. There was time for Liz and his sister, and Max would do whatever he could to see them achieve the future that had been stolen from them. And he would make sure they knew that they and what they said mattered.

Turning fully to Isabel, he faced her head on.

Giving a small smile in gratitude, he offered, “we could ask Cal about getting Jesse here?”

The surprised smile that broke across Isabel’s face made his own smile grow.

Isabel released a breathy laugh. “I did ask him yesterday, and he said he would help. I think Jesse would come.” Her smile dimmed somewhat. “But I haven’t been able to connect to him yet.”

Max’s face turned solemn. “I’ll let Cal know to check that he’s safe.”

Isabel instantly wrapped her arms around him. “Thank you,” she whispered.

As they broke apart, Max mentally debated whether to share what he and Liz had learned last night.

Looking at his sister, Max knew the news would only make her worry more. He didn’t want to burden her further. He knew he would have to tell her but decided it would be best to wait until after they knew about Jesse.

Imitating that French candelabra from Beauty and the Beast, he asked, “shall we eat?” Bending his right arm, he offered it to Isabel for them to enter the dining room together.

With a soft giggle, she linked her arm with his.

“Lead the way, monsieur,” she responded in an approximate imitation of Belle.







Note: Blue italics are Zan's voice.
Note 2: Line taken from I's Too Late and It's Too Bad.
Last edited by behrinthecity on Tue Feb 20, 2024 12:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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