FanFic - Crashdown After Hours
"A Few Degrees Shy of Heaven"
Part 30
by Christina
Disclaimer: I own absolutely nothing.
Summary: ***If you haven't read Road Trip, much of this will not make sense***
Category: After Hours
Rating: NC-17
Maria's pleading cry settled down to a low whimper as she felt the last of her powers leave her and her body went slack. That is when it finally hit her. She may have never know about having powers until recently but they had always been such a big part of her and now that they were gone, she felt like half of her was dead; she was half a person.

Her body continued to tremble as she rolled her dazed eyes over to Nacerro to see him standing with his arms spread and a twisted smile on his face as her powers continued to feed into his body. She watched until the blinding light dissipated and as Nacerro threw his head back with a righteous howl reminding her of a coyote. When he looked back down, his eyes were blazing with triumph, his smile menacing. His voice even had an omnipotent quality. "That was very unworthy of you child, to think you could outsmart me. Look where it got you!" He began to chuckle and observe his hands as though her power made him feel so much stronger.

Maria struggled to sit up but it took too much effort and she fell back to the ground with a grunt, looking at him with total hatred. "So what?" she gasped. "If my powers are so underdeveloped, what good will they do you?"

Nacerro leaned down lower, his eyes narrowed. "They are only underdeveloped because you don't know how to use them but to me, they are limitless and you are useless."

"Fuck you," Maria rasped in a low, guttural voice, grimacing as she once again tried to sit up.

Nacerro sighed and then pretended as though her were going to get up but instead, smacking her across the face with the back of hand, sending her into complete darkness.


With all of their thoughts working as one, Michael began to breath softly and show them who Maria was to him. Just thinking of her opened a floodgate of emotions and he could feel their shock at the revelation of how much Maria really meant to him. They knew he loved her dearly but he could tell that they were still stunned.

He showed them images of her growing up and images of himself observing her from the shadows. He couldn't hold back anything from them so they all were able to see that his affection for her was not a recent thing. He could feel their surprise increase throughout their telepathic web as he showed them more.

Not only images were shown but they all caught scraps of his thoughts concerning Maria. ...she's my love...she's my goddess...mother of my life...without her, I have nothing....

The images and thoughts continued to flow mercilessly until suddenly, Michael could feel her. Not the Maria of his memories and thoughts but the real her! He knew that essence anywhere! "We've got her!" he cried and looked up at the others to see that they were all staring at him with joy but their eyes reflected a newfound respect. Uncomfortable, he looked back down and called out with his mind.

Maria? Maria, it's Michael!

He continued to concentrate, knowing that she was there but she didn't answer him. Instead, the only image he received was darkness. MARIA?!

Still no answer! He looked up at the others and with desperate concern and cried, "Something's wrong!"

"Calm down Michael," Max said, feeling it too but ever the optimist. "Keep trying to get a hold of her and we'll do the same! You have to remember, she doesn't know that we're doing this. We have to keep trying!"

Everyone took deep, shaky breaths and closed their eyes, concentrating on Maria.

Maria? Maria? MARIA?????


"What are you going to do to her?" Kyle asked nervously as Nacerro continued to watch the unconscious form of Maria on the ground.

Nacerro looked up into his face and grinned. "I haven't decided yet."

"You don't have to hurt her do you? I mean, she's defenseless and with her powers gone..."

"I have to get rid of her, Kyle," his father said tersely, cutting him off. "She's still a danger to us alive. Now, just shut up while I think!" He cried and then looked back down at Maria.

Kyle swallowed and blinked several times. "But her powers are gone," he argued, pleading for her life. "Please don't hut her?"

Nacerro jumped to his feet and stalked up to Kyle, his eyes aflame. "Shut up!"

Kyle backed away in fear but tried once again, unable to let it go. He didn't believe in this! "Please..."

He never got to finish his sentence because Nacerro drew back his hand and smacked him hard before he even realized it. "You weakling!" he swore in furor. "If you don't hold your tongue right now, I will take your powers as I did hers and you will join her in death! Do you understand me you stupid half-breed?!"

Kyle gasped and nodded, cupping his inflamed cheek while stepping back in the shadows and helplessly watching. He silently pleaded that someone would help but he knew his cry was in vain. Where was Michael? Where were Max and Liz and Isabel and Alex? Why weren't they here to help her?

"What do we have here?" Nacerro said suddenly and Kyle looked up to see him leaning over something in one corner before looking back at Kyle and smiling. "How disturbing," he shook his head, feigning sadness. "Your sister meant to blow us up." He stepped back to reveal a five gallon jug filled with liquid which Kyle assumed was some kind of flammable liquid. "Do you still think she's worth saving?" he challenged.


"Stay here, I'll be right back!"

"Huh?" Maria muttered as she opened her eyes to the sound of someone's voice. She groaned silently and struggled to look around but her head felt as though it were ready to explode and her body felt stiff and worthless. Suddenly, she remembered where she was and why she was here and she caught sight of Kyle who was sitting on a wood crate with his head in his palms. She closed her eyes quickly and swallowed. She couldn't let them know she was awake yet! Not until she came up with some kind of plan.

Maria, please! Answer me!

That voice came from inside her head! She knew that voice as well as her own. It belonged to Michael but that was not all; she could sense all of the others lingering around in her head as well.

Michael? she sent back, tears of relief rising in her throat. The connection wasn't as intimate as it had been between the two of them but she could still feel the others thoughts which relieved her to no end. She thought she would never hear from him again but at least now she would get a chance to say good bye and tell him one more time how much she loved him.

MARIA! Are you okay?

Oh Michael, I'm so sorry. I screwed up. I failed. I couldn't use the dagger and he used it on me and I'm dying. It was true, she could feel the life-energy draining from her body as soon as she woke up. Not only that, but her entire backside was covered with wetness. She was lying in her own blood.

NO! Don't say that! What can we do to help?

There is nothing, she sent sadly. I'm a failure. I tried to save you all but I failed. He's going to come after you and there's not a damn thing I can do about it. I love you Michael!

Don't you dare leave me Maria! he warned, his mental voice both fierce and desperate.

Then she heard a new voice in her head. Maria? It's Max. I'm going to try to help you. You need to show me where you are hurt.

It doesn't matter she argued. It's too late.

Don't say that! another voice argued pleadingly. Liz. You can't give up Maria. You never give up on anything and now is not the time to start. Please, let him help you.

Liz was right. She couldn't give up yet; for all of their sakes. The dagger is in my chest she informed them and instantly she felt Max begin to focus on her pain.


"The time has come!" Ashtar announced to the community as a whole, his voice authoritative and boisterous. "Get into formation! Two groups! You know what we need to do."


Is there anyway you can take out the dagger Maria? I can't heal it properly with the dagger still in you.

Maria flashed her eyes open and then closed them again. Kyle is in the room with me. I can't let him... She paused because she heard a noise and she squinted one eye open to see that Kyle was beginning to walk towards the door. He's leaving. Give me a second.

Maria opened one eye again, seeing that he was gone and then groaned as she brought her sluggish arms to her chest and wrapped them around the dagger. She took three slow breaths, knowing that it was going to hurt like hell but also well aware of the fact that if she didn't do it, she would absolutely die, and then pulled.

The first jolt of pain caused red waves to pulse under her eyelids and she cried out in misery but didn't give up until the blade was entirely dislodged from her chest. She gasped several times, struggling to catch her breath and waiting for the pain to disappear as she let the dagger fall carelessly from her fingers where it landed on the ground with a echoing thud. She then raised her pounding head to survey the damage and for the first time noticed that the entire front of her new sweatshirt with the alien head on it was covered in blood.

For some reason, she found that strangely ironic, given the current circumstance and chuckled dryly. Okay Max, it's out.

Already working on it, he sent and Maria could tell it was true. She could actually feel something happening inside of her, like the damage was repairing itself.


Yes? he replied quickly.

I just...I wanted to let you know that...yes, you guys are helping me but that still doesn't mean I'm going to make it and I wanted to apologize for leaving you and let you know that last night was the best night of my entire life. I love you so much and I will always be with you. Please don't forget that.

You know I love you too Maria. Actually, I don't think you could possible comprehend how much I love you or how much I need you in my life. But you're going to make it, baby. I know it! You're too strong of a person to fail. Even through his mental voice, she could hear the hollow ring of denial coming from him but it still made her feel better.

He's right, yet another voice sent. Isabel's voice. You are the strongest person I have ever met. I admire you Maria. I know we haven't always gotten along but please know that I love you Maria. For all you have done.

Now who's saying good-bye? Maria teased.

She's not saying good-bye, Maria. She's telling you how she feels, Alex sent a moment later and Maria's lips turned up in a smile.

I know.

We all love you Maria. You're so brave and... Liz's voice suddenly broke off and Maria could sense that she was trying to hide her emotions but it was apparent that she was weeping.

Lizzie, she scolded, feeling a fresh wave of tears rise in her throat. Please don't cry cause if you cry then I cry and then I can't do what I need to do.

That's our Maria, Isabel teased. Talking a million words a minute.

MY Maria, Michael's sent clearly and she could feel shaky amusement through the web.

Amused as well, she giggled aloud and then sent. Oh how I love my jealous little Michael.

It's not jealousy, he said defensively.

Sure it isn't, Isabel teased.


Yes Max?

Did I do it?

Maria paused, having completely forgot about Max trying to heal her while she was joking with the others and she raised a hand to her chest, sliding a finger in the slice the blade had made on her sweatshirt. Just then, she heard someone enter the room and she froze, holding her breath and trying to look as though she were still unconscious, wondering if they would notice that the dagger wasn't in her chest anymore.

Maria? Max questioned again.

They're back in the room she told them, noticing that she had even lowered her mental voice to a whisper. Yes, the wound is gone. Hold on, let me find out what they are doing.

She tuned out the others thoughts and listened in for any hint of what their plan was.

"Where does it start?" she heard Nacerro demand from Kyle, his voice irritated and ungracious.

"Here, it starts here," Kyle replied a moment later, his voice sounding terrified.

That was when she remembered about the gasoline tank and she knew what they were doing. They were going to burn the place down with her, and only her, in it.


No sooner did she finish sending the thought that she could smell the distinct scent of smoke in the room. Oh God, they're burning the rope.

What rope? Michael demanded, his thoughts as panicked as the others.

Nobody was more panicked than herself though. I was trying to trap them and I was going to burn Nacerro with the building but I failed and now they plan to burn me with the building. What do I do? I can't move or anything! My body is too weak!

From there, she couldn't distinguish one thought from another for a minute or so; their thoughts were jumbling together as they all tried to think of what to do.

Can you throw the dagger at him? Isabel asked a moment later, her voice ringing louder than the others.

No, my arms feel like jelly! I can't do anything, she sent in despair.

She opened her eyes and saw that the rope had three minutes tops before it reached the tank. God!

What do we do?

I don't know but we need to do something!

And fast! She doesn't have much time!

The voices of her friends continued to claw for help and one thing became painfully obvious; there was nothing they could do there.

We need to give her our powers, someone else said - Isabel?- and then suddenly the voices all quieted and she could sense them all doing what they could to send her their powers.

She waited to see if it would work; she didn't really have a choice. The smoke in the room grew thicker, she could actually feel it around her and knew that it would be thick enough to suffocate her in no time. She grew more and more desperate by the seconds. Never before had she been filled with such desperate panic. What was she going to do?

Is it working? Liz asked.

Maria tried to raise her arm but still it was heavy and listless. Nothing!

She opened her eyes again and saw that Nacerro and Kyle were still in the room but neither of them were watching her. She closed her eyes again and prayed, knowing that it was coming down to the wire.


"We're ready!" On of the members of the community announced in an excited cry and Ashtar nodded.

"Go forth!"


It was actually kind of funny. Maria had known she was going to die - she had already accepted it long before she came here tonight - but when the others had gotten ahold of her, a new sense of hope had settled over her. Now that she really knew she was going to die, she realized she was terrified. The only thing that made her feel better is that she had gotten to talk to Michael and her friends one last time.

The stifling air began to choke her and she did what she could to disguise her coughing under the crackling of the fire.

Uh Maria? she heard Michael say. Is your ring doing something weird?

Maria opened her eyes, the smoke hiding her from view of Nacerro and Kyle and settling on her ring finger. She focused in on the stone and sluggishly brought her arm up to her face. The ring was in fact doing something odd. The stone, while still purple, was pulsing like the dagger had but it was also swirling with a kind of white light. Yes, it's...

Her voice trailed off as suddenly she sensed something was happening. Her body felt...she could explain it but she cried out and arched up from the ground as she was hit full force by whatever it was. She gritted her teeth and closed her eyes, wanting to resist whatever it was but it was impossible. Her body thrashed and she continued to cry in confusion. Her mind was swimming. It wasn't at all painful, it was in all actuality pleasant, but it was terrifying as well. She couldn't even give it a name, it was a sensation she had never experienced or even heard of before.

Maria? What's going on? Something is happening to her!

She could hear Michael's panicked voice in her head but she couldn't answer it.

Then she stopped thrashing, her body coming to a peaceful rest on the ground and she took a deep breath, opening her eyes again. That's when she figured out what had just happened. She smiled. They, the elders, had given her all of their power; unimaginable power. She flexed her muscles and realized that hundreds of people were feeding her their unique energy. Individually, their powers were unique to the person but with all of them feeding them to her, she felt indestructible.

In the flash of an eye, she was on her feet and calmly walking over to the burning rope. She frowned as she looked at it and then got a sudden idea. She took in a deep breath and blew on it; her breath coming out of her like liquid nitrogen, distinguishing the flame and freezing the rope instantly. She smiled again and turned around.

"What the....?" Nacerro's voice gasped and Maria beamed.

When she spoke, she could hear the voices of the people of the community with her own. Thousands of voices, God-like in their glory. "I told you that you wouldn't leave here tonight," they hissed and like a giant cat, she jumped into action.

Part 29 | Index | Part 30
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