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Hi! Here I have joined my two favorite shows. Pretender and Roswell. The beginning may seem mostly Pretender, but that is because it is important to the Roswell group. Be patient! Please let me know what you think of this. This was my very first fan fic.

The Other

Author's Note: There has to be another explanation for Future Max disappearing. You and I know that Max could never fall out of love with Liz. Right? Add a little ‘Pretender' intervention and…well we'll see what happens.

Part 1

The Center:
8:30 AM: Angelo sat watching and listening from an air duct in Mr. Lyle's private office. Mr. Lyle was making what he assumed to be a highly private and secured call. Before him on his personal lap top PC, he was receiving and sending encrypted information. When he was done, he took three pages from the printer, put them in a special file, locked it into his bottom drawer, and left.

Angelo clicked off the two recording devices he had and grinned. A short time later, he was seated on the floor of his favorite hideaway, reading the file and giggling.

Three hours later, Mr. Lyle came back, grabbed the file and left. Angelo just grinned.

***
Midland, Michigan:
About that time, in a motel room, three prints were popping out of a printer. The PC next to it had a great deal of information, of interest to the owner, downloading onto it. He popped the last piece of chicken nuggets from the last of four cherry red cardboard trays next to him, and typed ‘Received and appreciated!', in the reply window. Within an hour, he was on the road and headed for Canada.

***       
Ironwood, Wisconsin:
9:00 PM: He picked up his cell phone and pressed the button that would re-route his call. When the person answered on the other end, he had a question ready.

“Why is the Center getting interested in aliens again?”

The slow voice on the other end replied, “Jarod. You mean immigrants? They haven't that I know of.”

“I know they have re-opened the Pretender program and now they are coupling it with some of the studies you have been doing with special talents. Shall we say they are interested in ‘very' special talents?”

“I will certainly look into it. Jarod, can you tell me any more?” Sydney knew with a sinking feeling that just such a project could have been started without his knowing of it. Lyle or Raines? Lyle had been looking a little smug lately. And Raines had been snooping into impossible corners. Lyle it was.

In another room, in the Center, a well built flashing eyed brunette was pacing. “Broots….”

The man at the computer console looked nervously up over his shoulder. She gave him a withering look, one eyebrow raised.

Broots hunched his shoulders a little and went back to the task at hand. He had the dual task of trying to unscramble the voice signal on one hand, and attempting to trace one of Jarod's convoluted calls. Ms. Parker, however, was fast losing patience. ‘God she's beautiful when she's angry.' He thought. ‘Of course I don't usually see her when she isn't….' “Got it!”

She was bent over his shoulder in an instant. “Where is he?”

“No, uh, I meant the unscrambler is doing its thing.”

“Its... thing… Broots?” He started to turn around again and she hit him on his shoulder.

“Uh… yeah,...just now, about. Yeah here it goes.”

Jarod was speaking again. “Dig around a little. I'm sure if you look in the dirt pile, you will find all the dirt you need.” He looked down and saw the tracer alarm blinking. He smiled, knowing where the trace would lead them. “Sydney, do you like the Three Stooges?”

“Yes, a delightful trio.” Sydney rolled his eyes. He was used to such unusual calls by now. He could see from his tell-tales, that someone was tracing this call. He also knew that wherever it led it would not lead to Jarod.

“What do you find in every room at least twice?” Jarod asked. Then he hung up with a smile.
       
Miss Parker turned her head from the screen into Broots face. “You are ...not going to tell me you failed.”

The velvet low voice didn't fool Broots for a moment. The lower it got, the worse for whoever was on the receiving end. Broots cleared his throat. “Well… actually…It didn't quite finish.” He could tell by her look that this was not what she wanted to hear. “The trace finished in the area of south west Washington… Before it... lost him.”

“You... lost...him?” Her voice was down to a low purr.

Now he could be a hero and tell her what he had figured out. “Actually,” He stopped and cleared his throat again. “I think I know where it is.”

There was no answer, just another flash from her eyes.

Now is where he could dazzle her with his cleverness. “Yes, uh, well, it could only be Walla Walla. You see...”

“Walla… what?” She said with a snap.

“Walla Walla. It's a town in Washington. You see…”

“What makes you so sure…” She took out a cigarette and stood there with it. Broots just looked at her for a moment with his mouth open, before a sharp tap of her foot got him scrambling for his lighter. “… he called from there.” She finished, after a big puff.

“Well, uh actually he gave us a pretty good hint. It's the Stooges and the room thing. You know wall and wall, Walla Walla.” Now she would realize how smart he really was.

She started toward the door, and stopped looking back over her shoulder. “I guess it takes a moron to find a moron. We leave… now.” When he opened his mouth she turned back to the door. “And if you ask me where, you can walk. All the way there. And back.”

***
Moses Lake, Washington:
12:30 AM: Broots was hanging around the corner from where Ms. Parker was waiting. She had sent him to find out where the helicopter pad was located and how soon they could take off. He didn't want to have to report that the only way they were going to get to Walla Walla, was by car.        She also wasn't going to like hearing that she couldn't get a car till tomorrow morning. ‘Maybe this would be a good time for that trip to Alaska I've always wanted to take.' He thought wistfully.
With hands in his pockets and shoulders hunched, he peeked around the corner. Not two feet from him, arms crossed and one of those withering looks on her face, stood Ms. Parker. “Uh… I was just uh...coming to give you the news.”

“Wellll?”

***
Winnipeg Airport:
9:05 AM: Mr. Lyle and four hand picked men were at the car rental lot taking possession of two ATV's, when his personal phone rang.

After listening for about ten seconds, his face got red and he exploded. “She's doing what? Where?” The person on the other end stammered a reply and hung up, thankful for the distance that separated him from Mr. Lyle.

Mr. Lyle marched away back towards the terminal, signaling with a jerk of his head for the others to follow. “Get me the first flight to Washington. I want the shortest way to Walla Walla! This can wait. Miss high pants is not getting Jarod before I do!”

***
Somewhere south of Moss Lake, on route 17:
Ms. Parker sat fuming in the back seat of a loaner car she had intimidated out of a repair shop owner. When her phone rang, she answered “What!”

After listening for a moment, she hung up, without a word, leaned over and told Broots with soft deadliness to turn around.

Broots tried to look at the road and Ms. Parker at the same time. “But...”

“Turn… around… and... drive!” She leaned back in her seat and lit a cigarette. Lyle was up to something and she was going to find out what. Jarod could wait.
Back at the airport… “Go drag my pilot out of whatever hole he's crawled into and tell him we're leaving for Winnipeg. NOW.”

Part 2

***       
Gunton, about twelve miles north of Winnipeg:
6:30 PM: Jarod stopped at the only motel in town, a little four unit job with weathered sign and clean rooms. He cleaned up and stretched out on the old noisy bed, but he couldn't rest. There was a small table and chair in the corner.

Jarod opened first, his computer, then a small envelope containing three small disks.
The first was of a pretender, about Jarod's age. Jarod had known of him, but this was the first time that he had seen him. The scene was of the young man taking a tissue sample from a deformed alien embryo.

He was explaining the importance of balancing the alien's bio-chemicals. “The alien/human hybrid this came from, was already adapted to our balance, with a slight dependency on certain trace elements. But what you tried to do here was eliminate the human DNA and keep the alien. It won't work without finding the correct chemical dependency for the original alien body. That is why all your embryos died with serious physical deficiencies and deformities, like enlarged heads and atrophied bodies.”

“You must be on the right track Martin, the embryos, kept in artificial suspension, are living far past the stage of those carried in host mothers. Four of the last six are still alive after almost six months. Their development looks more balanced also.” A hand and arm came into the scene and warmly patted Martin on the back. “Looks like soon we will have our own live pet aliens to study!”

The voice sounded very pleased, but the look on Martins face showed how troubled he was.

The second disk showed excerpts taken from surveillance cameras on SL-27. These scenes he was sure no one had seen, except for Angelo. Because they were from six years ago when he had slipped his leash and gone exploring. No one had ever known he was gone or where he had been.

He had come out on a level that wasn't supposed to be there, and was shortly thereafter mistaken for Martin by a young female technician. “Oh hello, you must be Martin. I'm sorry Dr. Cox has left. You were so late, we thought you weren't coming today.” She led the way into a lab, then stopped at a desk, and turned with her hand lightly resting on a rather thick notebook. “I was just on my way to return this. Do you want to work on it now, or would you rather wait for Dr. Cox?”

Jarod pulled out the chair and sat down. “Oh I think I'll stick around for a while. Thank you.” He gave her his big Jarod smile and she left.

He knew he should already be gone too, but he was curious what the other, Martin, was working on.

True to protocol, the first page had the goal of the project, followed by the first supposition. This preceded the description of work done and progress achieved, (or not). Each red tabbed page was a new supposition to work from. There were four of them.

He read through each summary and supposition and was hooked. They were trying to grow aliens to cut up, study and ‘train'. They were close. There was enough of a hint at what final key was missing for Jarod to guess it. There was also a strong hint that the other was hanging back in ‘discovering' it.

Jarod grabbed a paper and slipped it into the word processor. He made up a new supposition. It suggested a new chemical balance for all test subjects, and urged immediate compliance. If the new addition worked the way he thought it should, it would put an immediate end to the project.

The recording ended as he slipped out the door.

When he had gone back down a month later, there was no sign that the lab he visited had ever existed.
       
The last disk was one he had recorded from the series of files Angelo sent him yesterday, and was the reason he was on this trip.
       
It was dated about five years ago. It was a ceiling down shot of five doctors working around a boy, strapped to a table. He looked to be about twelve; he was awake and terrified.

One of the doctors spoke into his mike. “Session seven. Subject's dosage of suppressant has been increased to fifty cc's every twelve hours. We are now ready for the questioning.” The ‘questioning' was a polite term for what followed: electric shocks and ‘tissue samples' taken from various parts of the body. All the while, a voice continued to demand information. It promised an end to all ‘discomforts' upon compliance.

Through it all, the kid kept denying knowing anything that they asked. Finally he yelled. “Oh Luke, Luke, I'm so sorry!”

Then all five men were slammed back away from the table and fell in heaps on the floor. Upon the table, the now lifeless eyes of the boy stared up into eternity.

Jarod shook himself, and placed the disk with the other two. He was sick at heart. That poor boy.

Before he could close his computer, his incoming mail signaled an urgent message.

“Fooled Lyles, sent him to Flin Flon. Ms. Parker got there first, knows the boy's not there. Lyle is on his way. Luke doesn't have much time.”
Within five minutes, Jarod was speeding north to Poplarfield.

***
Roswell, New Mexico
11:00 PM: “I'm Liz Parker and this has been a really long day.” ‘It seems that now every day is a really long day.' She thought to herself. Liz bit gently on the end of her pen as she gazed at the top of her roof ladder. She was thinking about how wonderful it would be if everything was as it should be, and Max would come peeking over the edge. If only she could hold him one more time.

“It tears my heart out to think that I have to make Max fall out of love with me. How will I live?” She sat drawing a line around those last four words. The tears dropping unheeded into her lap. “Why is it that our love has to endanger their lives and my whole world? But that's the problem isn't it? Max would never lie to me. Not the now Max and not the future Max. If he says it's so, then it is.” Now she dropped her pen and put both hands to her face. ‘But why, oh why does it have to be us?' She sobbed.

The future Max sat watching from a nearby roof top, wrapped in a blanket he had borrowed from Liz. He had to give her some space tonight to adjust to the whole idea, but watching her, watching what it was doing to her was tearing him up. ‘Oh Liz, if there was only some other way.' He thought. ‘ I would rather give up breathing than do this to you. To us.'

***
Poplarfield, Manitoba, Canada:
10:30 PM, same night: Jarod sat in his car on a dirt road. It was the street behind the house he must visit. But though he had been thinking furiously all the way up here, he couldn't decide how he was going to convince this kid to come with him. He couldn't just walk up to the door and say “Oh hi, I'm Jarod. Your life is in danger. Come with me now.”

***       
The young man in question was pacing the floor at that moment. All day he had had an uneasy feeling. Disaster was approaching. But from where or from whom, he did not know. These feelings had saved his bacon many times and he wasn't about to discount this one.

He didn't dare go to bed. He felt he should run, but in which direction? A backpack was loaded and standing by the door. The last time he had felt such an overpowering dread was when his brother had disappeared.

He had felt the very moment of his brother's death. He had even heard him call out his name. The memory sent shudders of re-opened grief through him. Alone, in all the world. Was there one person who could understand him? Who would accept him as he really was?

There was one person who could help him, but he didn't have any idea who he was. Just a face in a dream. A rather likable face, with a kind of boyish smile; but where was he and how could he help?

Finally, the feeling of foreboding became overpowering. He grabbed his backpack and jacket and flew out the back door. As he fled down the back alley, two cars came screeching to a halt at the front of his house. He cut across a back yard and between two houses, to the next street. A strange car there immediately put him on his guard. It was a low fast looking sports car. Definitely not the type people around here would consider owning. He started to walk slowly by, trying to look tired and bored. Just someone on his way home. ‘Think normal' he thought. But the man in the car jumped out and called his name.

Luke turned, ready to blast him and run, but even in the partial light of the moon, he recognized the man from his dreams.

The man called out again. “Please! I need to talk to you.”

Luke turned, threw his pack in the back seat, jumped in and asked. “Can you talk and drive at the same time?”

Five minutes later they were speeding down highway seventeen toward Winnipeg. Three hours later, they were in a little motel south of the Canadian border, on route 29.

Part 3

Jarod had filled Luke in on the identity of those following him. Luke was surprised and shaken when Jarod told him how he had found out about him. The recording, the information Angelo had given about Lyles interest in this young man, and Jarod's own interest in keeping anyone safe from the center that he could.

What he couldn't tell him was the source of the recording of his brother's death. It wasn't a center recording. Jarod hadn't waited to do research. All his efforts since receiving the information had been spent in getting to Luke. Jarod and Luke both, would like to know who these others were.

Someone had gotten Lyle on the scent. Someone who knew the Center's abilities and connections. And… their inside reputation for being utterly heartless and totally outside the law, whenever it suited their purpose…. which was most of the time.

“But how did they find us in the first place? We didn't exactly advertise that we were different.” Luke couldn't think of a single instance in which he or his brother had been indiscreet enough to draw attention to themselves.

“It was your birth records.” Jarod replied.

“Our what?”

“Or rather your lack of them.” Jarod ticked off the particulars. “Two boys approximately six years old, found wandering naked, in the snow, with no sign of distress from the cold, and speaking no known language. No one reported you missing. A search of the surrounding countryside gave no clue as to where you could have come from.

“I find that a bit unusual. So did others.”

“So it wasn't a mistake we made.” Luke felt a sense of …what? Not relief exactly, but he was glad he had in no way been the reason for his brother's death. “What now?” Where did a kid go when he had no place to go? And no one to go with?

“Would you be interested in coming with me for a while? If you find a place that fits your fancy and want to stay, I can fix you up with U.S. identity papers and a plausible past.” Jarod liked the kid. He had no one, and needed to find himself. As in a way Jarod did. Perhaps they could spend some time searching together. One thing for certain. He wasn't going to let Luke end up like his brother.

“I would like that Jarod. But won't you be in danger by being with me?”
Luke had only his feelings and a dream to go on. But he felt that this man was worth having as a friend. You don't put friends in danger.

So Jarod spent the next couple of hours telling Luke a little about himself. He had Luke laughing at some of the adventures he'd had and at the various ways he had baited his pursuers.        

With the car safely hidden a block away from the hotel, the two weary travelers had a good night's sleep.

Two nights later they stopped over in Oklahoma City. They were heading west. There had been no sign of pursuit, for Luke or Jarod and for once, Jarod was happily at ease. Luke, however, was very quiet and thoughtful. He had had another dream.

***
Roswell:
10:15 PM: Future Max and Liz sat on her roof top. Liz was crying silently; the tears just wouldn't stop. The look on Max's face when he saw her with Kyle would haunt her forever. Her Max… who could never again be her Max.

Future Max was dying inside. He wished he would just disappear and it would all be over. Seeing Liz fall apart like this was more than he could handle. He sat down beside her and wrapped his arms around her, rocking her like a baby. Liz turned her tearstained face up to his and God help him, he couldn't help but kiss her.

Flash after flash filled Liz. The feelings as one by one everyone Max loved died, horrified and dismayed Liz. She pulled away hiding her face in her hands, as if covering her eyes would shut out the pictures that came into her head.

“Oh God. Max!” She cried.

“Liz. Liz, oh I'm so sorry. I didn't… I couldn't...” Future Max jumped up and walked across the roof from her. “I didn't mean for that to happen. I'm sorry.” He felt like he had just kicked her after knocking her down. He stood staring out over the city. ‘Why can't it just be over!' He thought in self disgust.

Max felt a timid touch on his shoulder, but couldn't make himself turn around. “Max….” There was so much sorrow in that word. “Max, look at me. Please.” When he didn't, Liz continued. “I'm glad that happened. Max. It will help make me strong. Every time I want to tell him, you, I'll remember this and I won't let it happen.”

Max turned slowly around. God how would he ever live without her? She was so strong, even when hit the hardest. She had been the strongest part of him for so many years. Could Tess ever fill that place in his heart? In his life? He couldn't see how.

“Liz , if there was just something I could do for you.”

Liz sniffed back a tear. “You could dance with me.” When he just looked at her with a curious pain in his face, she continued. “I want my wedding dance Max. The one you had, that I never will.” She held up her hands to him and he took them tenderly in his.

He opened a connection ever so slightly. Enough that she could share the music that danced in his memory and his heart. Enough that she could feel the love and joy shared that one night, a night that could never happen.

Liz closed her eyes, seeing with his memory and floating in his arms. He swung her out in a twirl and as she left his hand, he could feel himself fading. ‘Good by my love. My only love.' He thought as the nothingness took him.

Before the twirl was over, Liz felt the loss. She opened her eyes and looked around at the empty roof. Slowly she sank to her knees and sobbed helplessly, hopelessly. Max was gone. That meant that Max, her Max did not love her anymore. It had worked the way they had meant it to. But how was she going to live without him now?

****
?


Last edited by chrystalkay on 06/29/13 18:29, edited 1 time in total.

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Part 4

That night Liz lay sleeplessly in her bed or sat curled up on the chair on her roof. She couldn't close her eyes without seeing the flashes that Max had given her with his kiss, or the look on Max's face when he saw her with Kyle, or the feel of the last dance, their dance. The combat of emotions left her hollow eyed and sleepless, tearless.

It was late the next morning when she came down stairs, nearly eleven. Being Saturday, Liz didn't have to work until two and wouldn't have come down till then, if hunger hadn't brought her down. She hadn't eaten the day before and there was no way she could go a whole shift without eating at least a little.

Liz stopped at the door in the back of the Crashdown. Through the little window, she could see Max, Iz, Alex and Michael sitting at their usual booth. Maria was perched on the edge of the table opposite of them. The scene was so normal, so…other. How could it look that way? How was she going to deal with it?

She wouldn't. Liz knew if she went out there and faced Max, she was not ready to face whatever reaction he gave her. If it was disgust and loathing, or hurt and a demand for explanations, or… whatever.

Max looked up toward the door, and said something to Maria. She stood up and started toward the back. ‘No. Not yet.' Liz said to herself. ‘I need some time!'
She turned and ran back up the stairs to her room. But once there, she felt trapped. Maria would come up and find her. Was she ready to lie to her? She couldn't tell her the truth. She couldn't tell anyone.

With feverish speed she began throwing stuff into her biggest book bag. The one she used when she spent the night at Maria's. Two minutes later found her down her ladder and far down the street. A quick stop at the bank, and her savings was added to the meager roll of tip money she had been keeping in her dresser.

There was a Greyhound bus station a block further down the street. She would buy a ticket on the first bus to anywhere.

Liz rounded the corner of the bus terminal and immediately jumped back out of sight. Sheriff Valenti was standing not three feet from the door talking to Amy. If either of them saw her, she would never get away. There was an empty bus sitting on the side of the building. She could hide in there for a few minutes.

Liz slipped up the steps and down the isle to the back. She could just see around the corner enough to see that they were still there. Would they never leave? She slid down on the back seat, curled up under the window and sighed. It would be so hard to leave. She closed her eyes hard to stop the tears from coming again, and settled down to wait.

***       
Roswell:
4:00 PM: Maria came rushing into the Crashdown and looked wildly around. “No one's back yet!” She said to Michael who was following at a more decorous pace. She shook her head. “This can't be good.” She plopped down on a booth seat and rummaged through her purse. “Now where is my cedar?” She mumbled to herself. “Why can't I ever find it when I need it?”

Alex and Isabelle pulled up in front, and Maria ran out. “Is she here?” “Did you find her?” Isabel and Maria asked together.

Alex got out and put one arm around each of the girls. “Now don't worry. Max has probably already found her. You know Max and Liz. He will find her, wherever she has gone.”

Maria scrubbed at her nose with a handkerchief and sniffed. “When I get my hands on Liz, I'm goin' to shake her till her teeth rattle! See if I don't.”

Sheriff Valenti drove up at that moment with Liz's dad. “Any luck kids?” He called. At their glum looks, he turned to Jeff Parker, and clapped him on the back. “Don't worry too much. Even in a town this size, it's not too hard for a girl to hide out for a day. Liz is a stable girl. She'll be alright.” He turned to the Crashdown gang. “When she gets back, call me. I'll have my deputies keep a look out until I hear from you.”

Liz's dad got stiffly out of the jeep and walked silently into the Crashdown. Then with a tip of his hat, the Sheriff took off.

“This is so unlike Liz.” Maria stated as she stalked up and down in front of the café. “Where is Max!”

Michael put his arm around her and steered her into the Crashdown and sat her down. “You are going to make me crazy if you don't sit still for a moment.”

Maria put her hands on her hips, “Oh and I don't suppose you are worried at all?” She demanded heatedly.

Michael put his hands in his pants and shrugged, trying to look unconcerned, but the tight look on his face said it all. With all the worry and wondering about alien ‘others' showing up, it was not an easy thing having one of the inner group missing. ‘What if...' Kept popping up in all their minds.

The phone rang and Maria leapt to take it. “Liz!” She yelled into it. “Oh Max, have you… Oh, where all have you looked? Yeah we checked there too. Yeah, okay.” She handed the phone to Isabel and walked back to the booth. One big tear hanging off the end of her nose. “Oh I'm going to shake her and shake her.” She muttered.

***       
Albuquerque, NM:
5:05 PM: The driver of the bus waited until all the passengers had filed out, before walking to the back of the bus. He had seen the curious looks given by some of the rear passengers to the right back seat. He gazed down at the wee figure of the girl curled up there asleep. She looked so vulnerable lying there. He sighed and sat down next to her. His daughter would be about her age if she were still alive. He gently reached down and placed his hand on her shoulder and shook it.

Liz woke up slowly, wondering why she felt so cramped. Then she realized that she was in a strange place and sat up with a start.

The bus driver held his hands up at her wild look. “Whoa there, I come in peace!” He said with a smile.

Liz smiled shakily back and pushed her hair back from her face. “I guess I sort of fell asleep. Didn't I” She said shyly.

“I guess you sort of did!” He stood up and held out his hand. “Come on, we need to talk, and you probably need to eat. I'm buying”

Liz shook her head. “Oh no I couldn't…”

He cut across her, “I've never seen a teenager yet that couldn't eat more than any two kids or three adults. And I'm hungry!” He smiled again. “Come on, you aren't going to make a liar out of me are you?”

Liz smiled a real smile this time and gave him her hand.

“Is that yours?” He added, looking at her bag. “Better bring it along.”

Inside the café, at a back table, they wrapped themselves around two colossal burgers and talked. The driver gave his name as Henry, and tried to coax Liz's story from her.

Liz tried to tell him as much as she could without telling him too much. No she wasn't running away from home, and no she couldn't go back yet. There was an impossible situation back home that had to have time to work out. “ I just have to stay away for a while.” She finished miserably.

“Where do you plan to go?” He finally asked.

“I don't know, maybe Los Angeles.” She answered.

“Oh I wouldn't recommend that.” The bus driver returned. “There are birds of prey that haunt bus and train depots looking for wrung out kids to take advantage of. And if you won't take it too badly, you look like the kind of kid they would jump for.”

Liz smiled sadly, “I guess I don't look too connected right now.” She admitted.

Part 5

“What you need, if you are telling me the truth,” and with this Henry looked at her sternly, “Is a quiet safe place to get yourself together and ride out whatever is wrong at home. Right?”

When she nodded, he cleared his throat and continued. “North of Flagstaff, there is a place called Kaibab camping grounds. My sister runs a bed and breakfast/general store/café/gas station sort of place near there. It's quiet, secluded, and my sister is a big sweetie that will sass you, give you a place to stay, and probably work you too.” He looked at Liz quizzically. “Do I call her and tell her you are on your way?”

Liz didn't think about it long. It sounded like just the sort of place she needed right now, and she told him so.

“Um, one more question, and don't take it wrong, but do you have the money to get there?” He asked.

Liz told him that she did indeed have the money and thanked him for his implied offer. He gave her directions on how to get there, and arranged for the next leg of her trip.

Henry watched her bus pull out of the station and shook his head. ‘ Don't know why I did that,' He thought, ‘ but there is just something about her.'

Liz found the next leg of the trip hard to take. She was awake. And achingly aware of every mile that came between her and home, her and Max. She would have to call and let her family and friends know she was all right. But not yet. Not until she was farther away.

***
Roswell:
11:30 PM: It was a glum group that sat around the Crashdown that night. The Sheriff had reported that no one answering her description had been seen in or around the bus station, or on any of the roads leading out of Roswell.

A thorough search of her room had revealed some missing clothes, book bag and her empty secret cache of cash. It looked more and more like Liz had skipped town on her own. But how? Why? And with whom?

Max sat almost comatose in his seat. He didn't feel it when Tess took hold of his hand, he didn't see the dark looks Maria cast in her direction, or hear the rattling of the door when Kyle tried to get in. He was blaming himself for Liz leaving. She shouldn't have to run away from home. From him. She shouldn't have to be alone, away from everyone that cared about her. Now she was out there somewhere and he couldn't protect her. He couldn't tell her that, no matter what, he still loved her.
He would always love her.

Iz let Kyle in and he immediately stalked over to Max. “What did you say to her? What did you do that would make her go? Wasn't it enough that she was willing to do anything to get you to break up with her?” Kyle was angry with himself for going along with Liz on their little charade, angry enough that he had to take it out on someone and Max was that someone.

Kyle's words got through to Max and he was out of his seat and on top of Kyle before he could move back. Michael and Alex dived in to separate them and got their share of bumps and bruises before they succeeded. Both Max and Kyle found it a very satisfying way to vent their frustration, worry, and guilt.

Maria passed around the ice bags, trying not to grin. All four had black eyes or bloody noses. Max was still too mad to heal himself or anyone else, and Isabel was too disgusted to volunteer. “You both deserve what you got.” She said with a flounce. And pointing at Michael and Alex, she added, “And you two should have just let them get it out of their systems.”

Kyle looked around the bag on his eye. “Can't you do one of your alien things or something, and find her? I thought you guys could do anything!” He looked from Max to Isabel, to Michael. “Well?”

Tess spoke up for the first time that night. “If she left, then maybe it's because she wanted to. Why can't you just accept the fact that she wants out?”

Kyle turned on her, anger sparking in his eyes again. “Oh I don't suppose you mind at all! You and Max are the reason we went through the whole bed act anyway!”

“Act?” Asked Max.

“Bed? What bed!” Maria demanded.

And the whole story came out. Kyle had opened his mouth and stuck a jeep in it this time. Liz would kill him. He thought glumly, and then swallowed when her disappearance rushed back on him. ‘Oh God, Liz, you can yell at me for a year, only be okay. Come back to us.'

***
Kaibab camping grounds, Arizona, Elsie's Stop ‘N' Place:
9:00 AM: Liz got off the tour bus and was immediately greeted by a slightly plump, red headed woman with a big smile. “You must be Liz!” She said as she took Liz's bag and started herding her towards a rustic collection of buildings. Her nonstop chatter brought a small smile to Liz's lips. She looked around and sighed. ‘ I think Henry was right,' She thought to herself. ‘This is a good place to put my life back together.'

***
Roswell, the Evans' house:
Same time: Max sat on Isabel's bed, the disappointment clear on his face.

“I'm sorry Max.” Isabel pushed her hair back and sighed. “I could sense her but she wasn't asleep and I couldn't get through to her.” The look of exhaustion on her face, told the story of how often she had tried that night to reach Liz.
“Look, let me get a good meal down, and some rest, and I'll try again. If she didn't sleep last night, she's bound to fall asleep sometime today. Okay?”

Max looked at his sister and she saw how much her offer meant to him. She patted his hand. “We'll find her Max. And we'll bring her back!”
       
***
East of Flagstaff, on Route 40:
10:00 AM: Jarod looked over at Luke. He had been unusually quiet yesterday, and if anything he was even quieter this morning. “Alright, a dime for your thoughts.” He said.

Luke looked at him curiously. “Isn't that ‘a penny'?”

“Inflation.” Jarod smiled, and Luke smiled back.


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Part 6

“Remember how I told you I had dreamed of you, and that’s why I trusted you right off the bat?” He asked. “Well, night before last, I had a dream of a girl and a guy. It was really weird, because they were just sitting on a park bench, and not saying a thing. Both of them seemed sad for different reasons. I don’t know what the reasons were; it was just a feeling. But the really strange thing about the dream is that I had the feeling she could feel me. I swear it. She turned around and looked at me and I got such a rush! I mean, I had this sort of feeling of connection.” Luke stopped and looked up at Jarod for a moment. “Am I making any sense to you at all?” He asked.

“Does that mean she is a real person? She’s out here somewhere?” Jarod thought that seemed logical; given the fact that Luke had dreamed him up before he arrived.

Luke nodded and had a faraway look to his eyes. “That’s not all. I dreamed of her again last night.” He stopped and sighed. “Somewhere out there is another one like me and my brother. Somewhere that girl is waiting for me to find her. And she is the one I will spend the rest of my life with.”

That gave Jarod a lot to think about, and he was quiet for a while himself. If there were more kids like Luke out there, he would have to help him find them.

“I have a job to do in a little while. It shouldn’t take long and then we’ll see what we can do about finding the girl of your dreams.” He put one hand on Luke’s shoulder, and smiled. “Alright?”

Luke grinned and took a deep breath. “I shouldn’t let a dream affect me so much, but I can’t get her out of my mind. Thanks! I can’t wait!”

***
Kaibab, Elsie’s Stop ‘N’ Place:
1:30 PM: Liz walked wearily up to her room, and took a long hot shower, hoping it would help her sleep. Tired as she was, she still didn’t want to close her eyes. There was too much lurking there in her memory. But sleep, real sleep, would be wonderful.

Elsie was everything Henry had said she would be. She refused to let Liz pay for her stay, and seemed untroubled by the fact that Liz didn’t even know how long she would be staying. Liz had tried to reason with her. “What will you do if I stay forever?” She asked, smiling up at the big woman. “Adopt me?”

Elsie grinned down at her. “If necessary! Now scoot. Those eyes are burning holes in your face. Get some sleep and we’ll talk later.”

‘Well,’ Liz thought to herself, ‘She won’t stop me from working for my keep!’ Liz needed to work. Work so hard that she would be tired enough to fall asleep every night.

With a deep sigh, Liz lay down on her bed. And in spite of her fears, she sank down into a deep sleep.

***
Roswell, the Crashdown:
3:00 PM: Maria’s cell phone rang and she answered it almost before it quit the first ring. “What.” She listened for a few seconds, then answered, “We’re out of here.” Then she bolted for the door, a startled Michael and Alex running after her. “Isabel dreamwalked Liz!” She called over her shoulder.

“Well what are you waiting for!” Alex called after her jubilantly. Now they would find Liz!

Max had the door opened for them when they arrived at his house. The look on his face was not what they expected. It was grim.

Michael felt a tightness in his stomach. He grabbed the now motionless Maria and moved her into the house.

Alex rushed past Max, straight to Isabel who was pacing back and forth in the living room. He gently took her clenched hands in his and sat her down on the couch. “Talk to us Iz. Tell us what you saw.” Isabel just stared at him with a look of horror on her face. Alex looked up at Max for an explanation.

Max shrugged helplessly. “She’s been like this ever since she woke up.” He murmured. “I thought maybe with all of us here, we could calm her down enough to find out what happened.” The look of pain on his face, that something she had seen from Liz had put her into this state, was harder to look at than the one on Isabel’s.

Maria rummaged through her purse and pulled out a small bottle. “Maria, “ Michael moaned, “This is not a time for your quacky aromatherapy.”

But when Maria pushed it under Isabel’s nose, she jumped in Alex’s arms, and lurched away from it.

“What kind of scent is that?” Demanded Michael.

“Ammonia. You never know when someone is going to faint or… whatever.” Maria said defensively. “Besides, it worked.” Isabel was now taking deep breaths and trying not to cry, but she was definitely not freaked out anymore.

Max sat down on the other side of Isabel, and Michael knelt in front of her. Both trying to give her moral support. “Come on Izzy.” Max said gently. “What happened? I’ve never seen you like this before.” Maria, for once, was without words. She just watched, and stood wringing the bottle in her hands.

Isabel looked down at her hands and gave a big shuddering sigh. Then she looked at each one of them. “I…I have to go back.” Before anyone could say a thing, she continued. “But not alone. I need someone to come with me.”

The protests came loudly from all present. From Max, Michael, and Alex, that she was not going to go back into a situation that could do that to her. Maria told her that she was not taking Michael to whatever had freaked her out.

“All of you just shut up!” She shouted in her best Isabel scream. They shut.

She pressed the fingers of one hand to her forehead and gathered her thoughts. At least now she could think again. Then she tried to explain the unexplainable. “Okay. Liz was dreaming. But it wasn’t a normal dream. It was a memory …or a series of them.” She grabbed onto Alex’s hand and continued. “She… I… Max, parts of them are memories of a flashback she got from you. Memories she couldn’t get from you. They are a huge nightmare thing that keeps replaying and replaying.” Isabel stopped and looked at Max, pain in her eyes. “Max, she can’t wake up.”

******
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Last edited by Anonymous on 06/29/13 02:03, edited 1 time in total.

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Part 7


Isabel lay on the couch. Max and Michael were head to head on the floor, one hand of each reached up and held onto Isabel. Maria sat in a chair facing them, and Alex perched on the back of the couch, a tight worried look on his face.

Isabel stood in the place of dreams. She couldn’t see Max or Michael, but she could feel them there. She felt and heard Liz’s dream bubble, still hovering by. The sound was sour and the feel was like that of fingernails on a chalk board. It ran up and down her spine setting every nerve on edge. Isabel called it to her and held it lightly in her palms. ‘I can do this’ She thought to herself, and then placed just her fingertips against its surface. They weren’t going to enter in. Yet. They were going to see it as Liz saw it. “Okay boys, here we go.”

~They saw Max, only not Max, appear. * A shape shifter! * *Shh, wait. * They felt Liz’s fear as she thought the same thing. Saw the proof of the Mariachi band, and the roses. Heard his reason for coming, what he had to ask her to do. They felt the pain and heartache as she tried to do what had to be done. The planning with Kyle and the unendurable grief it caused when Max looked in and saw them. Then there was the kiss and all the acid-like memories that were etched onto her mind. The horror that nearly consumed her. Her determination not to let it happen that way. “I’m glad that happened. Max. It will help make me strong. Every time I want to tell him, you, I’ll remember this and I won’t let it happen.” Then the dance and when he disappeared, there was the belief that it had worked, that crushed her to her knees, there on the roof.

~They saw Max, only not Max, appear…

* Enough! * Max was beyond caring what the consequences were for everyone. He had to get to Liz. He had to hold her and tell her that there was another way. There had to be, and they would find it. * Iz. Get me in there! * He demanded. * Max! It’s dangerous! * Isabel cried.

* Do it! *

Isabel spread her hands and the bubble expanded, then Max stepped through and disappeared from sight.

Max stepped into a dense dark fog. It felt oily and had the smell of something dying. The overpowering sensation of utter despair. He began to call for her. Pushing against a strange resistance. It was Liz. She didn’t want him to find her.

Instead of using his eyes, he now used his feelings. All the good things that had happened between them. All the best memories. These he used as a weapon against the resistance. Even as a divining rod, they began to lead him toward her.

Finally the mist started to lift ahead of him, and there, kneeling on the ground was Liz. His Liz. She was rocking back and forth with her face in her hands. He rushed forward to take her in his arms, but at his first touch she leapt up and started to run away.

* Liz! * There was so much pain in that one word, that she stopped for a moment.

* Could he still care? * Asked her heart. * No! You can’t! * She yelled, backing away. * Leave me alone! *

* Liz I love you! I’ll always love you! * He cried, putting every bit of feeling into it that he could.

* No Max. I have to stay away from you. * She wailed and began to disappear into the mist again.

* Liz! Listen to me. There is another way! There has to be. Max, the other Max is gone. But I still love you. I love only you! Liz, he’s gone, and I still love you!* Was it his imagination or was the mist beginning to thin?

* Max? * Liz called meekly. He looked around trying to see her in the darkness. * Max, if it’s true then I can’t come back yet. *

* But why? * She could feel his hurt, but she had a handle on the first hope she had felt since this whole thing started. She wasn’t about to give it up.

* Max, if there is another way to keep Tess there, with the group, then you have to find it. For her, for us, for everyone we love. Find it Max. And then I’ll come back. * Max felt himself being pushed firmly out of the dream bubble. * Find it Max. I’ll wait. I can now. I’ll wait forever as long as you love me. *

Then he was out. The last thing he heard before he left was a distant sobbing cry. There was sorrow and loneliness in that cry, but there was something else there too.

It was hope.


***
Flagstaff, Arizona:
4:30PM: Luke watched over Jarod’s shoulder as he worked on his next identity. Luke was fascinated at how meticulous Jarod was. All possible employees at the next target were crosschecked for every place they had ever worked and every city they had lived in. A list was compiled of the combined locations. Then a list of national parks was brought up, and every one geographically near any of the above listed locations was eliminated. Jarod then picked two or three and started checking out all history, ancient and current. Including legends, personal reports and news items. Then he picked the one that best suited his interests and began making transfer papers from that park to the Grand Canyon National Park, for one J. Rod Forrest, Jarod for short.

“Why did you pick that park to transfer from?” Luke wanted to know.

“Because it’s the most boring. Luke, your new uncle is in search of variety and adventure! Now let’s pick up some dinner, and head to our next stop.”

“The canyon?”

“Nope, there is a little place not far from there, called Kaibab camping grounds. It’s close enough to use as home base, and the owner of Elsie’s Stop ‘N’ Place is a friend of a friend. She’ll put us up for a while.” Jarod smiled at the memory of that friend. An obnoxious little twerp that he had helped to find his direction. The kid was now working in a hospital in Ohio, and happily engaged. Elsie was his aunt and had been delighted at helping Toby’s ‘savior’ with no questions asked.

6:00 PM: “Jarod!” She hollered as she came out of the café, wiping her hands on a towel, and grinning all the way. “Welcome to my little hideaway. And who might this young man be?” She asked as she put one hand behind each back and began herding them inside.

“Elsie, meet Luke. He will be my nephew for a while.” Jarod said with a grin. Elsie tipped her head and smiled up at him then turned to Luke. “He was also the ‘uncle’ of my Toby for a while. And a rascal of a nephew he made, too. You try to be a little easier on our Jarod, you hear?”

Elsie had heard plenty about Jarod and was surprised at how normal he looked. According to Toby, he should be seven feet tall, have a wagon of thick books in tow, and be reciting sage advice with every breath. She liked him at first sight. There was a sort of boyish quality about him that made you want to help him. ‘Ha!’ She said to herself, ‘As if the likes of him would need help from the likes of me!’

Inside she called out. “Two growing boys to feed!”

At their protests that they had just eaten, she tish-tished and tush-tushed, and sat them down, wiping an invisible speck of dirt from the counter. “Liz, how about a couple Grand Canyon Banana Splits?” She yelled.

“You boys can have your pick of rooms. Don’t get many boarders this late in the season. Just look them over and pick the one you want; they ain’t locked. Then tell me and I’ll give you the keys.” With that, Elsie went bustling back into the kitchen.

Liz came out a moment later with their set-ups, and asked them if they wanted something to drink. “Elsie is making your banana splits, she forgot that I don’t know how she makes them.”

“Don’t get many orders for them?” Asked Luke.

Liz smiled, “I don’t know, I haven’t been helping out very long.”

“And how long would that be?” Jarod asked.

“Oh, about an hour and a half.”

Luke looked around at the empty room. “Brought you in for the rush hour, did she?” Then grinned to show he was trying to make conversation, not a point.



Part 8


Elsie made a grand entrance just then, with two of the biggest banana splits in the country. No ordinary banana split bowl could hold one. Two long sweetly ripe bananas, six scoops of ice-cream lined up three on a side, with a canyon down the middle, marshmallow cream topped with macadamia nuts on one ‘rim’, and green mint sauce topped with chocolate chips on the other.

Liz put both hands over her mouth to hold in a giggle at the look on Luke’s face. Partway between dismay and awe. Jarod just said, “Looks interesting.” He turned to Liz. “Do you recommend tackling the north rim first, or should I try sneaking up on the south one?”

Liz took her hands down and nodded her head sincerely, “Oh I definitely think the south rim for your first approach.” Elsie called her into the kitchen, so she wished them good eating and rushed out before she started laughing uncontrollably.

She still had to get a better grip on her emotions. They were sort of roller-coaster right then. Max still loved her. She couldn’t go home yet, but he loved her!

Later when she came back to clean up the table, she noticed the condiment bowl of chopped jalapenos on the table. There was a couple of small pieces left in one of the split bowls. ‘Huh!’ She thought, ‘A combination worthy of Michael’s taste buds…. Yech!’

Liz was about to go up to her room when Elsie called to her. “Would you do me one more thing before you go up pet? The boys have picked room six. Would you take them some towels and glasses for me?”

Liz delivered the items and was just swinging around the corner onto the stairs, when she ran right into Luke coming up from the car. Liz rebounded off the rail and started to tumble head first down the stairs. Luke’s heart jumped to his throat and he grabbed her with both hands and sat down hard, pulling her into his lap.

*Flash*
*Flash*

For one stunned moment each looked at the other, and then Liz stammered a thank you and ran down stairs. She didn’t stop until she was inside and safely up in her room.

Luke sat for a full minute in stunned surprise before going on to the room. He burst through the door, and announced to a surprised Jarod, “She knows her! The girl! I was just wondering if I would dream of her again tonight, and there she was!” At Jarod’s questioning look, he added. “Liz! She knows the girl of my dreams!”

“How do you know that!”

“I saw it…. Sort of. She almost fell and I grabbed her. I SAW the guy AND the girl… In her head… I mean my head!”

Liz dropped down on her bed trying to gather her thoughts together. It couldn’t be! Could it? She had been thinking of Max and wondering if Iz would bring him back into her dreams that night, when bang! Luke had grabbed her and she had gotten a flash from him. The same kind she could get from Max. It was of a boy about his age and he was laughing. Then, incredibly, a flash of Max and Tess!

Liz jumped up and paced back and forth. She was so confused! Who was he? Could he really be one of Max’s people? And, the big question, why was he thinking of Max and Tess! Finally she dived for her phone. She wasn’t going to leave this to chance. Max had to know now!


***
Roswell, the Evans house:
7:00 PM: Alex and Maria arrived almost at the same time, to make their reports. Alex had been to Valenti’s office to tell him that Liz was okay but that they didn’t know where she was yet. When he told Valenti how they knew, he just smiled and kind of shook his head, with a ‘why did I even ask’ kind of look in his eyes.

“He’s kind of cool with this alien stuff, but I think it makes him nervous.” Alex confided.
“Where’s Isabel?”

“Coming!” She called as she came into the front room with a huge bowl of popcorn and a pitcher of juice. “I thought we’d need some serious thinking food.”

Alex went to help her, and Maria plopped down on the couch. “Next time, you take Liz’s mom and I’ll take the sheriff.” Maria had gone to try and comfort her. She had known her almost all her life, and thought she could help. “How can I convince them that Liz is okay, when I can’t tell them how I know! I think they think she called us and didn’t call them! All I did was hurt them more.” She gave a big sniff and wiped her nose. “Now, where is Michael?”

“He went to find Tess.” Max said.

Michael opened the door and walked in with two six-packs of soda and a four-pack of pizza. “Actually I went to get some serious thinking food.” He said. At the look on Max’s face, he added. “She’s not home or at the Crashdown or in the park or anywhere else, it seems.” He set the pizza on the coffee table and took a slice. He looked around at the faces of the others and said, “What?” Then shook his head and plopped down next to Maria and popped a can open. He looked around at everyone with a half smiling half pissed look on his face, like ‘what did you expect me to do?’

Alex grabbed a piece and a can and sat down on the floor next to Isabel’s chair. “Maybe we should make a list of everywhere a girl goes when she doesn’t want to be found. Liz and Tess are bound to be easier to find that way. We just have to follow the list.” Having Tess drop out of sight, after Liz, made him nervous. Who would be next? “Iz. If you should decide to drop out of the picture, take us with you, huh? It will make it easier on the rest of us.”

She ruffled his hair and smiled. She knew just how he felt about her. ‘He’s such a dear.’ But Tess dropping out of sight made her nervous too.

***
Elsie’s Stop ‘N’ Place:
Liz paced her room. She hadn’t called after all; there was still too much she didn’t know. ‘I have to make sure he’s one of them first.’ She thought. ‘What if he’s one of those aliens that are hunting Max? I’d be leading Max right into a trap.’ She had no doubt that if she called Max, they would find a way to trace where the call came from. They had all the resources of Valenti on their side. ‘No. I have to be sure first. Sure it’s safe.’ But how?

***
Back at the Evans House:
The phone rang and Maria grabbed it. “Evans residence.” She said in her best formal voice. Isabel started to crack up and Maria waved her off, trying to keep a straight face. “May I help you? Oh kool! Can you bring her over? Yeah, right now. I don’t care; tell her you’re kidnapping her. Just get her over here. Right.”

To the rest of the gang, “Kyle. Tess just showed up.”

There was a general letting out of breaths. Tess, at least, wasn’t missing.

***


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