FanFic - Crashdown After Hours
"Taking A Step Back"
Part 28
by Mary N.
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters, but I wish I did! But the ideas for this story are mine.
Summary: What happens in the lives of Max Evans and Liz Parker and their friends after Max tells Liz that they need to ‘Take a Step Back'. What twists and turns await them as they try to discover the truth about who they are, were they come from, and the truth about what binds them together.
Category: After Hours
Rating: NC-17
Authors Note: My story starts off when Max tells Liz they have to take a step back at the end of Balance.
Sheriff Valenti is in his office anxiously waiting on a call from Albuquerque. He picks up the phone on the first ring. Hello this is Sheriff Valenti...are you sure...then who are they...why would they be here in Roswell following high school kids ...not likely, one's my son...and you think they're connected...Thank you, I owe you one.


While the others are stalling for time and luring the three bad guys into position Kyle is in the cave searching for a particular stack of files. When he first entered the cave and saw all the files he didn't know how he was going to manage finding the ones he needed in the time that he had. As he starts to go through them he realizes that Isabel sorted them into different categories. He only hopped that one was the people Teomner used to gather information.

From the mouth of the cave; Kyle hears a noise. He quickly stops searching the files and turns out his light He cautiously walks toward the opening of the cave, staying as close to the wall as he can; to see who or what is making the noise.

"Kyle, where are you?" Calls a familiar voice.

Kyle remains silent while he tries to place the voice.

"Kyle, please I can feel you in here, just answer me." The voice rings out once again.

This time Kyle recognizes the voice, but is puzzled how she found the cave and knew that he would be there. He turns back on his light, his face tells her that he's not happy about her presence. "Sandie how did you get here? Better yet, Why are you here?"

"Kyle don't be angry. I hid in your trunk. I don't know what this is all about, but I have a strong feeling that it has to do with those guys that have been following us. The ones we talked about at the park. I want to help, don't leave me out of this, I know that I can help." Sandie looks worried, She's afraid that Kyle is upset with her, and that the others will ve angry as well. However she's even more afraid of something happening to one of them if she doesn't try to help.

Kyle pauses only for a moment. He wants to believe Sandie, and deep down inside of him there is something telling him that he can. He choices to follow that instinct and waves her back as he says, "Come on, maybe with the two of us working together we can find the folders we need faster."

Sandie's face lights up as she follows Kyle deeper into the cave where the files rest.

Kyle motions to a stack of folders, "Start looking there." He moves back to where he was looking before Sandie's intrusion.

After a short time passes Kyle finds the stack that they are looking for. Both, Kyle and Sandie sit down on the ground with the folders. There are eight of them, they quickly eliminate three, because they're women. That leaves five folders, Markham Dursey, Troy Elliot, Brett Hammond, Ted Layton, and Clay Woods. They copy down information from the files on to the back of the photos, place the files back in a stack, and head out of the cave to join the others.


Meanwhile Isabel and Alex continue to entertain themselves with small talk and with the things they brought with them in their bags until 5:00. At which time they pack everything up and go to to meet the others where Max and Liz are set up. When they arrive Michael, Maria, Kyle, and Sandie are already there waiting for them. Max and Liz are studying the information on the back of the two photos that they have already identified.

"What's she doing here?" ask Isabel; in a harsher voice then she intended; when she sees Sandie among the group.

"I'll explain that later, right now we have other things to worry about," says Kyle as he hands Isabel the remaining three photos. Liz hands a photo to Alex, who types the name into the laptop. He copies the file, pastes it on a message to be sent to his computer at home. He repeats this process with the two other names, and hands all of the photos to Liz. He then tells the computer to forward the message in one hour to all of Teomner's former associates as well as post it on various Law enforcement sights on the Internet.

Max and Liz resume studying the information on the backs of the photos.

"Does anyone have second thoughts about this? If you do now is the time to say so.

"I don't doubt your guys plan or anything." When Sandie has everyone's attention she continues, "I know you didn't plan for me to be apart of this, and you don't trust me completely. I can understand that, but I hope in time that will change. You don't have to worry about me telling anyone about you, because I won't, and neither will my family." She pauses for a moment, not sure whether they believe her or not. "Basically all I'm trying to say is you don't have to be afraid of me."

Kyle reaches over and takes Sandie's hand into his own, and smiles in understand of how she feels. After a few minutes Max and Liz stand up, clinging to each others hands for support. The others stand up and walk a short distance behind them.

Max yells, "Mr. Markham Dursey, Mr. Ted Layton, And Mr. Clay Woods; we would like to talk to you!" He waits a few minutes and repeats himself.

The three men appear together all holding their guns in their hands. Dursey to the left of Woods and Layton on the right. Woods appears to be the one in charge. He gives directions to the other two as to where he wants them to stand.

"Mr Woods." Max acknowledges the fact that he is the one he needs to address.

"How impressive, you know our names. What else do you know?"

"We know that you are looking for a dead man." Max states as if it is common knowledge.

"And who would that be?" Woods asks.

"Teomner." Liz states coldly.

The three men exchange glances, and Woods continues, "Teomner's dead? That's not possible, we would have heard about it."

"Not if the group responsible didn't advertise the fact." Liz squeezes Max's hand as he states it.

"You? Your expecting us to believe that you're responsible for the death of a man that many have died trying to kill?" Woods shakes his head no. "It's not going to happen kids."

Max takes charge for the moment, he doesn't want the attention to be on Liz. He still doesn't like the idea that she is in this position with him. "We never said it was us, and regardless of who killed him, or whether you believe us or not. He is dead." The group knew that they wouldn't believe them, but that wasn't the point. They felt the need to tell these men so that the word would get out about Teomner's death, so no one else would come looking for him.

Woods watches Max and Liz, trying to figure out why they drew them out into the desert to give them this information. Why they went through all of the hassle to find out who they are, as well as making the connection between them and Teomner. He's also curious as to how they did so. "What do you want?"

"Want? We want to be left alone."

"And that's all? You went through all of this, what ever this is, to ask us to leave you alone? Why?"

"Would you have left us alone if we simply asked you to. We didn't think so."

"So we followed you around for a while, why should that make you nervous?"

"Do you have people that you care about?" Woods doesn't answer he just stares at them coldly. Liz takes the chance that he does. "How would you like your loved ones to be followed by someone every time they leave the house?"

"We are the ones that have been followed, and with half of our group being female, we feared that you were following them with harmful intentions. You see we care about each other as though we were family, and we are not about to let something happen to even one of our group."

"How did you find out who we are, and why we were following you?"

"That is our secret, and for the purposes of keeping everyone involved safe, it will remain that way."

"What's to make us go along with this whole thing?"

In a deep serious voice Max lets them know that they mean business, "Mr. Woods, we know more about you and your companions than your names . . . ." Dursey and Layton shift nervously. Wood looks at Max and Liz suspiciously. He doubts the truthfulness of Max's statement. ". . . and the information we have will become public knowledge, around the world, if anything happens to even one of us.

Might I just add, before you ask, if even one of us dies the message goes out. You see, there is a password that has to be typed into the computer system to stop the out going message, and each of us holds only a piece of the password.

"That may be true, but I'm not convinced that you know anything about who we are other than our names. That information is easy enough to come by. That's, excuse the pun, Child's play. What information could you possible have that I should worry about?"

Max feels a sigh of relieve. He knows that Mr. Woods my not believe them, but the other two look uneasy. Now it's time to put Mr Woods on the spot. "Mr. Woods has doubts Liz, do you want to do the honors or should I."

Liz smiles at Max, she also feels that things are going their way. She says, "Be my guest," as she hands the photos to him.

He raises one of the photos glancing over the information. "Mr. Woods are you sure that you want your companions knowing more about your past?" Woods doesn't answer so Max begins. "You were involved in the deaths of some very important people Mr. Woods, Ray Ramos, Tony Florio, and . . . ."

Woods is immensely surprised by the names Max is reading off. No one except for Teomner knew of his involvement in their deaths. He interrupts Max by yelling "How the h. . . ."

However he is interrupted by Michael. "Watch your language Mr. Woods, there are ladies present." He ends with a smirk. He knew that they have heard worse, they've all said worse, but he just liked the idea of interrupting this guy and getting to put in his two cents. Max looks sternly back at Michael, who shrugs it off.

Woods looks angry, "How do I know that Teomner didn't tell you about my involvement?"

"Actually in around about way he did. Teomner kept great records on all of those he was associated with. Now that you know we mean business, lets move on with it. We are going to make you a proposal. In exchange for our silence, all we ask is that you leave Roswell, never to return, any of you. If we ever find out that you have hired someone to interfere in our lives, in anyway, we will not hesitate to send his records to those most interested in learning about your involvement in the deaths of certain unnamed people."

"Why should we agree to this? It would be easy for you to send information out at anytime."

"That's true, but that's one of the difference between you and us; all we want is to live in peace."

"There is another reason why we don't want to turn you in." Maria says as she starts to walk forward. The others follow her lead, they each can feel the tension in the air growing thicker. They take it as a warning that things are about to go wrong, really wrong. As they move forward they begin to link hands, knowing that they will be stronger standing together, using there power as one. "You know we are involved in the death of Teomner. If that were to get out, we would have to deal with others of your profession trying to figure out how we did it. But on the other hand, if you take the credit, they will leave us alone."

Max and Liz link hands and join the others. They doubt that these guys are going to go along with this. They can take the credit for Teomner's death with them alive or not. And this still doesn't solve the problem that they don't believe that Teomner is dead. They aren't willing to show them his body, it being covered in a cocoon would raise to many questions. Not to mention that they don't trust these men anymore than the men would trust a bunch of teenagers. They had hoped that they could come to an understanding, but it's growing more obvious, that's not going to happen.

Michael sees where Maria is leading with this. It is a last effort to get these guy to leave without anyone getting hurt. " Now let me show you how this could benefit the three of you. If you were to crawl back under the rock you came from, and spread the news around of Teomner's untimely demise, it would make you look good with the kind of people that you deal with. After all he must have had a lot of enemies, and they would be grateful to you for the news. Then you would have something on us, just like we have things on you. If we ever told of your secrets, you would be able to tell of ours."

"There's two major things wrong with your plan. One we still don't know that he's really dead. Two all we have is your word, we have no proof unlike yourselves. Where is the proof?"

"What proof do you need?" asks Michael simply out of curiosity, because they would never offer these guys proof that could potentially put their lives in further danger.

"His body would be nice." replies Woods with an evil grin. He has no intention in letting the kids use scare tactics on him, but the idea of actually seeing the dead body of Teomner is something that he would delay their deaths to see. He also liked the idea of taking credit for his death. That would look good to potential employers. It would sure increase the demand for his services, not to mention his the amount of money he could charge for those services.

"We would no more show you where his body is than you would show us where the bodies of some of your victims are buried."

This angers Woods, he was getting his hopes up at the thought of how this could effect his future. In a deep angry voice he declares, "It's seems that we are at an impasse."

"It seems that we are." Max retort in a cold, calmly voice. Max looks to the left and right at his extended family, making sure they agree to move on to their back up plan. He can read there eyes so easily. He sees his own fears reflecting back at him. He also sees they agree that there is no other way. Max squeezes Liz's hand searching for the confidence that he needs and finds it in the faint smile that she offers him. "First, let me fill you in on some facts that you may be over looking. We lead YOU out here, and if you haven't noticed this meeting has been very well thought out. Now with that in mind, do your really think that we would have planned this meeting without planning a way out of it if things went awry." Max stares straight into Mr Woods eyes. "We are responsible for the death of a man that you yourselves have declared a hard man to kill, and if you make the wrong choice now, or in the future, you will meet the same end that he did. Plus if you make the wrong choice now, the information we have on you WILL be sent over the Internet, and there will be nothing that you can do about it. We don't want to harm you, but we will defend ourselves. With that make your choice. Do you want to live or die?"

Max and the others watch intensely as the three men appear to be thinking about what Max has just said.

Alex looks at his watch and declares in a loud voice, "In fifteen minutes that message will be sent if we don't stop it. So make your choice and make it quickly."

Sandie quietly informs them of one of her many talents. "I can protect us, but for only a short time. I can form a sort of force field in front of us.

"We can do that?" Isabel asks, wondering what else Sandie can do that they don't know about.

"Yeah, we can do that." Sandie smiles an innocent and sweet smile at Isabel.

"Normally I would surround myself, but I'm not strong enough to encircle all of us, and I don't know how long I can hold it.

Liz feels that it's time to share some information that they have discovered, "Sandie, that's not a problem, we've found that when we join hands, we share the power that we each have within."

It's my turn to be surprised. I didn't know that we could do that." Sandie's face changes from a smile to a look of confusion. "But your human?"

"Except for Kyle, we've started the changes, not unlike your father."

Sandie understands Liz's meaning, and accepts it without question.

They all look over at the three men, who are still talking amongst themselves. When they turn toward the eight friends, Sandie closes her eyes, takes two deep cleansing breaths, and focuses on creating the barrier. When she opens her eyes an invisible force field forms around the group.

"The way we see it, we have the advantage. We're armed and you aren't. We don't see any help coming which we would expect being that one of you happens to be the sheriff's son. Kyle I'm surprised you don't know better than to put yourself in a dangerous situation like this."

"Mr. Wood, I'm in no danger, you are, and your time is running out."

Wood's face turns to puzzlement as he contemplates, *Why do these kids seem so sure of themselves. I know I saw a glimmer of fear a few minutes ago, but now they don't look afraid at all. The way they're just stand there holding hands staring back at us; it's not normal. But then again nothing about the way these kids have handled this is normal. Is that why Teomner hired us to follow them? I always wondered about that. Why was Teomner interested in them? Was he afraid of them, because he knew they could kill him. Did they really kill him, if so, how? Maybe they would be worth keeping an eye on.*

"You win this round, but I'd watch your backs if I were you."

The other two men look at Woods in disbelief. Layton is the first to speak, "Are you crazy? You know we can't let them live. Not knowing what the know about us."

"Settle down Layton. They have the upper hand for now, but that won't always be the case. For now we'll back off, but not forever." Layton and Dursey both nod in agreement, and back off to their cars.

Woods stands there a moment while the two other men retreat. "Out of curiosity, how did you kill Teomner? Not many people knew it, but he had these powers."

Max looked at his friends, he knew that they couldn't tell him, not without putting them in more danger. The answer came to him as an inspiration. "Truthfully, we couldn't have done it without the help of his brother, and because of him, and the things that he taught us, we don't have to be afraid of people like you."

*Perfect timing* - Sheriff Valenti's truck pulls in were all the kids cars are parked. He quickly climbs out of his car and moves toward Woods. "Kyle, is there a problem here?"

Kyle stares directly at Woods, "No problem."

Sheriff Valenti doesn't seem to believe him. He watches Clay Woods very carefully.

Mr. Woods, while still staring at the group of teenagers says, "Don't forget to deal with your E- mail," and then he turns to the Sheriff and says, "Quite a remarkable group of kids there sheriff, have a good day," on his way past him.

Sheriff Valenti watched this mystery man walk down the path. When he turned back toward Kyle and the others he noticed that they were all clinging to each other except for Alex and Isabel. They were leaning over something, as he moved closer he identifies that it is a laptop computer.

"Kyle I want to know the truth, and I want it now!" Sheriff Valenti tells his son. He knows this mysterious man and the two men he saw pulling out weren't here on a social call. They work for some guy named Teomner, and this Teomner guy isn't someone you take lightly. His contact in Albuquerque said that Teomner is an assassin, but not just any assassin, he's supposed to be the best. And the problem is, no one knows what the guy looks like. He supposed to be an expert at disguises.

Valenti wants to know what Kyle, Max, and the rest of these kids were doing with guys that work for a man that makes his living killing people. "Kyle, I asked you a question! What did those guys want with you?!"

"I told you Dad it's no bit deal."

"Now you hear me, all of you .Those guys mean business. They don't just walk away, they'll be back. They make their living killing people. Do you understand me? They won't stop until they get what they want. Now tell me what they wanted!"

This news wasn't anything new to the group. It was something that they had already considered, and planned for. Max remains calm as to not give anything away. He knows that the sheriff can't help them. He only hope that Topolski is willing to work with them for what they have planned next. He really regrets telling Valenti that they were being followed; all it accomplished was bring the sheriff into their business, and that's the last thing that they needed. "Sheriff, it's not something that you have to worry about. We're sorry that we even mentioned them following us. It was just a big misunderstanding."

"Max, no matter what you think you can't handle guys like these on your own. You're going to have to trust me on this."

"Dad it's like Max said, just a big misunderstanding."

Jim Valenti directed all of his attention to his son. "Kyle, Don't you get it! I can't protect you if you don't talk to me. Now I want the truth from you, and I want it now!"

"Dad, it's like I told you, it was a misunderstanding. They thought we knew where they could find some guy they were looking for." Sheriff Valenti begins to contemplate the situation. *I was sure that Kyle would tell me the truth. Why is he lying to me, he has to know that I'm only trying to protect him? Does Max have some kind of control over him, over all of them, or are they really that close? Does Kyle know the truth about Max and his secret? If so why won't he tell me? Keep on track here Valenti. Why were those men interested in these kids? Do they know the truth about Max and his secret? I have to convince them that they need my help, or they could be in real trouble. This is going to take time, time we don't have. The time, oh great...*

Sheriff Valenti disconnects his cell phone from his belt, opens it and dials a phone number.

Amy picks the phone up on the first ring. "Hello?" She sounds worried. She's been trying to call Maria's cell phone for the last half hour. She can't believe that Maria would blow her off when she knew how much she wanted her here tonight. Then when Jim didn't show with Kyle she began to think that something happened, something bad.

"Hello, Amy."

"Jim is everything okay? Did something happen to Maria, she was supposed to be here a half hour ago and she's not answering her cell phone? I've tried to reach her everywhere I could think of and no one's seen her or her friends. I know she's only a half hour late, but she promised that she would be here, and I don't think that she would be late unless something happened." Jim knows where Maria gets her tendency to ramble on when she's nervous.

"Amy everything is fine. Maria is fine, she's right here in front of me along with Kyle and their friends. Some guys from out of town were giving them a rough time.

"Are you sure they're okay?"

"They're a little shaken up, but fine. I think that we should postpone our plans for tonight. I need to find out more about what happened."

"I understand Jim. Can I talk to Maria?"

"Maria" He hands the phone to Maria and listens to hear what she tells Amy."

"Mom, I'm fine, really. It wasn't as big of a deal as the Sheriff is making it sound. These guys just wanted to talk to us. They thought that we might have known some guy that supposedly lives somewhere in Roswell."

I want you to tell Jim everything, do you understand me? He's a good guy Maria, and he's got good instincts about stuff. Then I want you to hurry home. Okay?"

"Yes mom. Bye." Maria hands the phone back to Valenti.

*** While his dad talks to Amy, Kyle, for the first time, turns his attention to Sandie. She looks pale and her eyes are staring off into space with a blank expression on her face. For as far as he could tell she hadn't moved since Mr. Wood left. Kyle reaches out, taking her hand in his. He is shocked at how cold her hands feels.

At the touch of Kyle's hand Sandie feels a shock of electricity, and snaps out of the trance she was in. Sandie begins to look around, checking the current situation around her. The first thing she realizes is that the Sheriff is still there. She pulls Kyle closer to her so she can whisper in his ear. "Kyle what's happening?"

"Sandie? What happened, you looked so. . . strange."

I'll explain later. Tell me what's happened."

Kyle tells Sandie what he told his father and then turns his attention back to what happened to her. "Sandie are you sure that you're okay, you looked really . . . . out there.

"I'm fine now, really, thanks for worrying." Kyle doesn't look convinced. Sandie can tell that he's not going to let it go. She wraps her arms around his neck. Pulling him close enough that she can whisper into his ear. Sandie doesn't want the Sheriff to over hear what she's going to say.

Kyle is taken off guard, but wraps his arms around her waist instinctively. It feels so right, she feels so right. For the first time he allows himself to feel everything he's been feeling for Sandie. His fear has always held him back, but not now. He just wants to stand like this forever, never letting her go.

Sandie pauses for a moment when she feels Kyle's arms go around her. She's been wanting him to hold her for so long. She only wishes that he held her because he wanted wants to, not because he didn't want the sheriff to over hear their conversation. She forces herself to concentrate on the situation at hand and whispers into his ear. "I was letting my mother know what happened here. She wants us to meet her as soon as possible. She's worried that this Woods guy knows to much, and that he will be back. She's dealt with guys like him before." ***

The sheriff hangs up the phone and fastens it back on his belt while he moves around the group, looking for anything that doesn't seem to quite fit. *What's wrong with this picture? It seems normal enough. . . for two people, but there are eight people here.* He notices that Kyle and Sandie are now in an embrace. *Make that four couples. "What were you kids doing out here by yourselves when you knew that you were being followed. It seems to me that you were pretty scared about it yesterday, and today you come out in the middle of the desert. One might think that you wanted them to follow you, and that makes me wonder why."

He watches the group exchanging glances. He can't read them to well; they've all gotten good about hiding what they are thinking; but he knows that he has their attention and he knows that he's onto something.

"Kyle, I don't pretend to know everything that is going on here. I'm only trying to protect you, all of you. That's my job as you pointed out very clearly yesterday. How am I supposed to do my job if you're keeping important information from me. That's your job, telling me what I need to know so that I can help you."

Kyle looks at Sandie, he wants to look at Max, but knows that his father would read him too easily if he did. Kyle doesn't want to give his father anything else to go on. He figures that this isn't his choice, it would have to be decided as a group, or at least by those the decision would effect the most.

Max looks around his group of friends, he knows they can't tell the sheriff the truth, but he also knows the Sheriff isn't going to backing down this time either. "Your right Sheriff, there is more to this than we've said."

Sheriff Valenti looks at Max curiously, *Could he really be ready to tell me what's going on?*

"Max are you nuts?" screams Michael as he moves to his side. "If you tell him the truth, you might as well...."

Max calls, "Michael!" while he places his hand on Michael's right shoulder causing him to stop what he is saying in mid sentence.

Michael looks questioningly at Max. "What have you got planned Maximilian?"

Max watches as the anger and fear drains from Michael face. "It's time to answer the sheriff's question about those guys." Max turns to Valenti. "All I can tell you is what they told us, but from what you just said I'm not so sure if I believe them anymore. They told us they were detectives hired by a guy trying to find his brother's children. His brother, sister-in-law and their two children disappeared here in New Mexico a little more than ten years ago. About the same time Isabel and I were found in the desert. They said, they thought we were the children they've been looking for."

"What was the deal with not forgetting to check your E-mail?"

"You know how the computer tells you when you get e-mail. Well, we did and he heard it," declares Alex.

"Did he tell you the name of the man they were supposedly working for?"

"No, they said they couldn't tell us that, something to do with Detective/Client confidentiality "

Michael figures this could come in handy. After all, what better way to explain the land they're hoping to get from Topolski, then the discovered dead relative. "Even though they didn't tell us his name; they did say that the guy they were working for died recently, and his estate would go to his niece and nephew if they could find them"

"Why didn't you want to tell me this?"

Part 27 | Index | Part 29
Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours
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