|"Always With You - Part Three"|
by Watcher Tara
Disclaimer: I do not own any part of Roswell.
Summary: Max and Kyle have to team up to save Liz from an unexpected threat. Meanwhile, the rest of the gang returns to Marathon, Texas looking for answers and finds more than they anticipated.
Authors Note: You REALLY should read Always With You part one and two first, but if you haven't, here's what you've missed: Tess was evil and not the fourth alien, the gang killed her and Liz discovered she has powers, too. They find an alien weapon called the Shield and learn about the existence of the Sword, another weapon. Please, please e-mail me with your thoughts.
|The package arrived by FedEx. Thomas Harrison, a professor at the University of Arizona, snatched the parcel out of the deliveryman's hands.|
Slamming the door practically in the man's face, he rushed back inside his house and eagerly ripped the tape away from the seams of the small box. There was a note laying on top. Thomas quickly scanned its contents. "Do not rewind," was all it said. Easy enough instructions, he supposed. He removed the videotape from the package and without wasting any time, walked into his living room and put it into the VCR. His fingers were shaking in excitement as he reached for the remote.
An hour and two phone calls later he was speeding across campus. The Dean had been irritated when Tom had insisted on the meeting, but that would all change. Tom knew what the rest of the staff thought of him, knew they all laughed at him behind his back. His ideas were considered radical. Unsubstantiated. Well, he would show them. With the evidence he received today, they would have to agree with him. Getting the funding for the project would be easy once he had a specimen on campus. With barely suppressed glee, he pressed harder on the accelerator.
"Sir, I think we have a problem."
Nasedo looked up from a mound of paperwork on Agent Pierce's desk to the man who was standing in the door. He wasn't unduly alarmed. Hardly a week passed since he'd taken over for the dead agent in the FBI that he didn't hear this phrase from one person or another. "What is it, Agent?"
"I think some things might have been taken from the evidence room."
"What things, Agent Moss?"
"Well, only one thing that I know of for sure, but I thought you should know."
Nasedo was quickly losing patience. "What was taken?"
"A video tape." Seeing the look on his superior's face, he hastened to explain. "I was just double checking the records of those surveillance tapes that were destroyed last week, you know comparing them to the check-out log in the evidence room, and it seems we had one more tape checked out than was turned in for disposal."
"Do we know which one?" He wondered how bad it could be. There were literally hundreds of videotapes made from the months of surveillance done in Roswell. Many had nothing more interesting than Michael running around his apartment getting dressed after a shower. On the other hand, some were very incriminating either in recorded conversation or in action.
"I believe we do, sir. According to the records, it was this one." The agent handed Nasedo a folder that contained a summary of the tape. The folder itself was red, which indicated that the tape in question contained something that could be used as evidence against the subjects.
"Moss, I want you to find out who took it out of the evidence room, and I want to know who it was like yesterday. Is that clear? This has just become your number one priority."
"Good." He waited until the door closed behind the other man before opening the file. It said pretty much what he'd expected. If that tape fell into the wrong hands, then they could all be under the gun. Once again, Agent Pierce was putting those kids in trouble. Nasedo couldn't believe how dangerous the man was, even months after his death. If that missing tape fell into the wrong hands... This time, it wouldn't be just the three aliens that would be in trouble, it was all six of them. Pierce must be having a party in his remote, unmarked grave, Nasedo thought.
'Well,' he thought, 'there is only one thing to do.' He'd find whoever had taken the tape and make sure the person didn't live to tell anyone what was on it.
Nasedo had spent the past few months doing his best to undermine the Special Unit. He'd been destroying evidence, and 'debriefing' his agents of their actions in Roswell until they'd all swear to their maker that they'd never even heard of New Mexico, let alone Roswell or some kid named Max Evens. Even so, things like today kept happening. Nasedo was coming to the realization that the best way to protect his charges was to disband the special unit all together. He'd been hoping that with the government's resources, they'd have a better handle on what other aliens might be around, but Max and the rest of the group in Roswell was the closest thing the US government had come to having real proof of anything. Keeping the Special Unit alive was potentially causing more harm than good. Besides, he couldn't keep avoiding all of the high security areas forever.
Agent Pierce had apparently been ready for everything, even his own demise. He'd set out booby traps, and set up incredibly touchy sensors and alarms in all of the secured areas of this building. Some of the men were starting to wonder why he refused to go to the evidence room himself to retrieve this or that. The X-ray security scanner on the door was a continuous threat to him.
He'd decided that as soon as the last bit of the evidence against them was gone, he'd begin the process of breaking up the unit, thus fulfilling his promise to protect the others. Besides, they needed him in Roswell. It was part of his job to train the young aliens; to teach them how to use their abilities. Especially since they'd found the Shield earlier that week.
They needed to be shown how to use it with out killing themselves. Getting them ready for whatever battles were coming was more important than anything.
He was looking forward to seeing them begin to live up to their potential, though he knew they were years behind where they should be at this point.
Especially Michael. And then, there was Liz. She was developing powers on her own. It was unexpected, but not unexplainable. Considering what he'd heard about the shooting and how Max had healed her last September, Nasedo could understand how the boy might have caused the generation of growth in the part of her brain where her powers were evolving from.
'Yes,' he decided as he turned back to his paperwork, he would begin tying up loose ends here in Virginia and return to Roswell where he belonged. He'd been away for far too long as it was.
A week later.
"What is all that?" Michael asked.
"It's my stuff," Maria answered. She set the heavy duffel bag she was carrying down on the ground. She slid into the booth at the CrashDown next to her boyfriend.
"What's it for?" Michael sounded aggravated.
"Look," she answered, "the last time we went to Texas it turned into an overnight trip. I thought a change of clothes might be a good idea in case we wind up back in some trashy motel room. Plus," she said to mollify him, "there are drinks and sandwiches in there."
Unable to argue with food, Michael closed his mouth and just sat quietly in the booth. He was anxious to get on the road, but they were waiting for everyone else to join them. Cooling his jets had never been his forté. Every second that ticked by while he waited seemed to mock him. In the pocket of his jeans, he could feel a small key pressing lightly into the skin of his thigh. He had stolen the same key from Sheriff Valenti's office last October. He thought that it might be needed, so he figured he would bring it along. Last night he'd spent nearly an hour by himself staring at it, trying to get it to give up its secrets to him. Nothing had happened, of course. He was attempting to find out more about the alien artifact that had been calling to him. He was certain that this Sword thing was what had led him to Marathon, Texas and James Atherton's dome house last year. It was the only explanation that made sense. His visions and dreams hadn't ended with their arrival in Texas. Whatever was calling to him was still out there.
Until last week, when they'd discovered the existence of something called the Sword, he'd assumed that the FBI had picked up whatever it was that was out there months ago. Maybe they had. It was entirely possible that this trip would be a complete waste of time, but until he went there and saw for himself that the Sword was or was not hidden in the house he knew that he would never be able to let it rest. It was a part of him. A part of his destiny. He couldn't just let it go.
"Hey." Maria was passing a hand in front of his eyes.
He focused on her. "I'm sorry... I'm just..." He held her hand as he tried to put into words what he was thinking.
"I know." And he knew that she did. Maria understood him in a way that no one else did. At times, it made him uncomfortable to know how close he'd let her get. He'd always thought that he'd be alone on this planet. He'd never imagined that he would ever find someone who could care about him as she did. Wholly, unconditionally. Well, he amended, maybe not unconditionally. Maria's love came with the condition that he open up to her. She wanted to hear about him. About his thoughts and feelings. It was the hardest thing for him to do. Trust her. Trust in her. It had taken her months of prodding and kicking him to get him to see that by holding himself back for her, he was holding himself back from life and all of its highs and lows. There was a difference between existing and living, he'd discovered with her help.
He'd never be the type of guy to take a walk in the park barefoot, sit under a tree and think only of the good things of the moment, but he was learning to slow down a little, and be a little less reactive to life's little curve balls. He lifted Maria's hand, and placed a kiss on the back of it.
"Look, Michael," Maria interrupted his thoughts. "I'm just a little scared... about going back there."
"Why?" he asked softly.
"Why?!" She repeated. "Because of what happened the last time we went. What if the FBI is still there? What if there are other aliens there, and we're walking into a trap?"
"No one knows where we're going, so how could there be a trap? Besides, Nasedo took over the Special Unit of the FBI, so we don't have to worry about them anymore."
"I know, but there are other branches of the government who would want to get their hands on you. Maybe Pierce set up alarms or something that will bring someone other than the Special Unit down there?"
"There's aren't any alarms," he stated impatiently. "And even if there were, we're not staying very long. We'll be in and out before they even know it."
"I don't know, Michael."
"Just trust, me, ok?" He put his arm around her shoulder. "If anything happens down there, which it won't, I'll protect you. Nothing's going to happen to you, I promise."
She mumbled into his shoulder, "It's not me I'm worried about, it's you."
"Well don't. I can take care of myself. And if we find this Sword..." he let his mind drift for a second on the limitless possibilities of what the Sword could be or do.
"That's also what I'm afraid of. I mean, look at what happened to Liz and Max when they used the Shield. Liz almost died twice, and even Max wasn't strong enough to prevent it." She sighed and ran a hand across her face as she usually did when she was stressed out. "I can't believe I can even say this, but: thank God Nasedo was there. If he hadn't been there to revive her, then..." she let the thought trail away.
Michael was forced to agree with her. They all knew that if it weren't for Nasedo's intervention, Liz would have died last week. The fact that he was the reason she'd been nearly killed notwithstanding.
As long as she lived, Maria would never forget the events of that day. They had discovered there were some evil aliens, shape-shifters, in town who had come to Roswell for the sole purpose of killing Max, Michael and Isabel.
Nasedo knew they were in town also, and when he'd spotted Liz using her powers in the CrashDown one day, he decided that she must be one of them.
He attacked her while Max and Michael were occupied with one of the real aliens. Maria and Alex did everything they could think of to stop him, but it was no use. Finally as a last resort, Alex handed Liz the alien weapon that had protected her and Max the day before, the Shield, but without Max there to help control the flow of energy, Liz was quickly overpowered by the device. Standing behind the protective blue wall of light that separated them from Nasedo, Alex and Maria were shocked by the amount of energy pouring off of their friend. Even though they'd arrived just seconds later, Max and Michael couldn't break the pull the Shield put on Liz until it was almost too late.
"What if the Sword does the same thing to you?"
"It won't." Michael didn't sound very convincing. He, too, remembered clearly how Liz looked as she lay dying. Softer, he said, "I'll be careful, I promise." He brushed a kiss to her temple.
She wasn't satisfied, but she knew she'd made her point. Further discussion would get them nowhere. "Ok," she whispered. What she really wanted was to abandon the trip to Texas all together. The Sword, whatever it was, could rot for all she cared. She was terrified for Michael, but knew that nothing would get him to change his mind. It was hard enough to get him to wait until the end of the week as it was. She'd tried all week to pretend like it was no big deal, but she had a bad feeling about this trip. Something inside of her dreaded the return to Marathon. What that something was, she had no idea. To help allay her fears, she'd packed for every disaster she could think of. Her bag was full of everything from Band-Aids, to tire patches. From the Healing Stones, which she'd snuck out of Michael's apartment last night, to a sewing kit. Plus, there was an extra bottle of Tabasco sauce, in case the bottle Michael always carried in his pocket ran out. Whatever the impending disaster was, she was ready.
The door to the CrashDown Café swung open, and they both looked up at the jingling of the chimes. Alex and Isabel walked in, hand in hand. They came over and slid into the booth across from Michael and Maria. Instead of their customary, 'Hey,' Alex said with a huge grin, "Whaaaasssssuuuuup?"
Isabel hit him on the shoulder, but it was too late. Both Maria and Michael were loudly replying, "Whaaaasssssuuuuup." Customers in the restaurant were turning to look. Isabel was hiding her face in her hands as Alex threw in another one for good measure. "Whaaaasssssuuuuup?"
Everyone except Isabel shared a long laugh. "I'm sorry I couldn't help myself." The gang had spent last night at the theater watching "Scary Movie." It had been Liz's suggestion, but everyone had agreed that it looked good. Some people, namely Isabel, had mixed feelings about it.
"Next time you do that, could you please warn me? I'll go hide in the bathroom, or something."
"Oh come on, Is, it was funny."
"Last night, at the theater it was funny. Today, it's embarrassing."
"Come on, Isabel," Maria leaned forward to say, "You know you liked that movie. I heard you laughing all the way where I was sitting. You know what part I liked?"
"You liked all of it," Michael put in. Maria had laughed so hard that she complained of her stomach aching all the way home.
"Yeah, but I really liked the part where James Van der Beck climbed into that one girl's window. You know just like on Dawson's Creek."
"Yeah, and he said, 'oops, wrong set.' And climbed back down. That was great." Isabel was smiling.
Maria was warming to her topic, and added, "Ooo, or Ms. Mann, the gym coach."
Both of the boys jumped in the memory of that particular character.
"Don't," Michael said. "Don't even mention that person to me." He was sure he was scarred for life after seeing that one. "I liked the ending though," he admitted.
"You just liked it because it was from Final Destination. We all know how much you liked it. God, I think you saw it like three times," Isabel said.
Michael just shrugged and said, "It was all right."
Max entered the Café right then. Spotting his friends, he walked over. "Hey guys."
"Whaaaasssssuuuuup?" Max smiled at Maria. Alex was laughing too hard to greet Max and just gave him a wave instead.
"You guys ready?" Max asked. "We should get on the road."
"Yeah," Michael said.
Alex stood up and said, "The van is out front. It's already unlocked."
Maria picked up her bag, and Max asked, "What's that?"
Michael said, "Don't ask."
At the same time Maria said, "It's my stuff."
Max just shrugged it off, "Ok, well I guess we've got plenty of room, so..."
"My point exactly," Maria said as she carried it outside.
"Women," Michael huffed.
Max said nothing, but smiled indulgently. He knew that Maria and Michael enjoyed the occasional argument. It added spice to their relationship. He, on the other hand, thrived on the peace and harmony that marked his relationship with Liz. Alex and Isabel had sort of found middle ground. Isabel tended to be bossy or short-tempered, but Alex was always cool and passive. Even under pressure. Max thought that sometimes that irritated Isabel even more.
He stepped back outside into the New Mexico summer heat and watched his friends standing around Alex's van. Or specifically, Alex's father's van. No one else in their group had a car large enough to comfortably to carry all six of them down to Texas and back. Moreover, squeezing all of them into either the Jetta or the Jeep promised be an interesting acrobatic feat that none of them were willing to attempt. As much as he loved having Liz's soft weight pressing against him, the thought of her sitting on his lap for twelve hours in a cramped car... No thank you.
Speaking of Liz, he wondered how much longer she would be. As if he could read his mind, Michael called out, "Hey, where's Liz?" "She told me last night that she was going to hit the store this morning and get some stuff. You know, for the road. She should be back any time."
"Great." Michael wished they were already ten miles down the road. "We already have enough food for a safari." He sighed, and said, "I'm going back inside."
As he pulled the door open, it was pushed abruptly from the inside. Michael opened his mouth to say something rude to the person, but recognized the man as Liz's dad, Jeff Parker. He pushed past Michael without seeming to notice him. The teen looked after him. He strode to where his car was parked.
Maria had known the man for years, and she could honestly say that she had never seen him look the way he did now. He was... unkept. Tired. "Mr. Parker," she said, running over to him. He seemed to not hear him, and she said louder, "Mr. Parker." Then she was standing in front of him. The other four teenagers were watching them curiously. "What's going on? Are you ok? You look..."
Her voice finally penetrated. He looked vaguely at her, and said, "Maria. What are you doing here?" He looked at Max and the others but seemed not to see them. "Are you working today? We're going to be closed today, so you can go on home."
He started to get into his car, but Maria stopped him. "Closed? Why? Is it the plumbing again?"
"What? Plumbing?" He looked into her earnest face, and for the first time really noticed her standing in front of him. Maria was Liz's best friend, and suddenly talking with her was like talking with his daughter. His emotions rollercoastered at the thought of how close he'd come to never talking to Liz again. He grabbed her by the arms and said, "Maria, we don't know what's wrong with her. My baby girl's in the hospital, and the doctors don't know what's wrong with her."
Maria stood passively in his grasp as his words sunk in. "Wait a minute," she pushed herself out of his arms. "What do you mean in the hospital? Who is in the hospital?" Max and Alex came to stand directly behind her. Jeff had to swallow before he could answer. "Mr. Parker, who is in the hospital?" Max demanded.
"Liz. My Lizzy."
"Oh my god." Maria was shocked.
"Why? What happened? She was fine last night after the movie."
"They don't know. She woke up around three in the morning, and she was... She... she was so sick." His voice broke as he recalled his terror when he remembered the events of last night. It was the sound of the toilet flushing that had woken him. Then he heard her voice. The sight that greeted his eyes when he entered her bedroom will haunt him for a long time to come. She hadn't made it to the bathroom before the vomiting had started. She'd barely hit the toilet before things got worse. Between all that and the fever, they'd called an ambulance, and she'd been whisked to the emergency room. He and his wife had been at the hospital all night and he'd only returned home for their medical card, which he'd forgotten to take with him in all of the excitement.
"Is she ok?" This was from Max who had paled.
"The doctors said that she's stabilized for now, but they're still trying to figure out what happened to her." He looked at everyone standing around him. "I have to get back to her. Look, I don't know if they'll let you see her, but you're welcome to come and wait with us."
He'd barely finished speaking when all five of the kids piled into the van that had been parked at the curb. Both cars sped down the streets of Roswell to the hospital, an action that caught the eye of the town's sheriff. He decided to follow to see where they were all going. When their cars pulled into the hospital's parking lot, he began to get worried. He parked his cruiser and got out along with everyone else. "Jeff." He said by way of greeting to the man who ran the CrashDown Café in town. "What's going on?" He fell into step with him.
"Liz is sick, Sheriff. I'm sorry if I was going a little fast back there."
"Don't worry about. Is there anything I can do?"
"No, thank you, but the doctor's seem to have everything under control." He rubbed a hand across his forehead. "Of course they said that when we lost my mother last year." The fear and stress in the man's voice was evident.
Roswell's sheriff shot a look at the three aliens walking with them, and said, "I'm sure she's in the best of hands, Jeff." Mr. Parker stopped at the registration desk to give them his medical card.
Maria asked, "What room is she in?"
"She was being moved out of ICU to a regular room when I left earlier," he said. "I don't know which one."
Max looked ready to fall apart, and Valenti pushed his way to the front of the line of the information desk. "Excuse me. Could you please tell me what room Elizabeth Parker is in."
"Parker... Parker..." The lady at the terminal looked old enough to be his grandmother. She tapped ineffectively at her terminal for a moment before looking up with a frown. "Could you spell that?"
"Did you say Parker with a "p", or Barker with a "b"?"
She shook her head and leaned forward. "I'm sorry, I still couldn't..."
Max reached around the corner of her desk and typed Liz's name at the prompt. The woman glared at him, and with a loud "Humpf," read the information off the screen. "It says here that she is in the west wing, room 245. That'll be down this hall..." Max was already moving away, with his friends at his heels.
Valenti tipped his hat and said, "Thank you. You've been very helpful."
The flustered old woman actually blushed and twittered at him. He couldn't move away from her fast enough. He walked over to Jeff and put a comforting hand on the other man's shoulder. "She's in 245. Down the left hall. Is Nancy with her?" Jeff nodded, and the sheriff continued, "Well, then, I think I'll just go see how she's holding up." He started to follow the teenagers, but turned to say, "If you need anything..."
"That's what I'm here for."
Maria moved ahead of the group when they came into sight of Mrs. Parker sitting in the waiting room. "Oh, my god, I'm so sorry." She caught Liz's mom in a tight hug. Nancy seemed to take comfort from the quirky teenager, whom she'd known for years.
"Maria. How did you know?"
"We ran into Mr. Parker at the CrashDown. He told us. Have the doctors said anything yet?"
"Not yet. They said that she's out of danger, but they don't know what happened to her yet."
Alex came over and put his hand on her shoulder. "Alex." The two women moved to include him in their embrace.
"Can we go in to see her?" Alex asked the question that was on everybody's mind.
The threesome broke apart, and Sheriff Valenti stepped forward. "Nancy, how are you holding up?" He clasped her hand warmly.
"Sheriff, you're here too?"
"Yeah. I followed Jeff and the kids through town." He gave her a concerned look.
Max stood off to the side and listened to the interplay between the adults. He felt uncomfortable watching them, but more importantly, he just wanted to see Liz.
Nancy Parker continued, "I'm fine, Sheriff. It's just been a long night."
"Yeah, I bet."
They talked quietly for a moment longer, then the doctor walked in with Jeff.
"Dr. Sanchez," said Nancy, going over to stand with her husband.
"Mr. and Mrs. Parker, we think we finally figured out what was wrong with your daughter. It was two things actually. She apparently got a nasty case of food poisoning last night, which triggered some kind of an allergic reaction."
"Oh my god."
"But doctor, she doesn't have any allergies."
"That you know of," the doctor clarified. "All of us have some allergy or another. Most of us never notice the symptoms, or we never come into contact with the allergen. In Liz's case, it compounded an already severe medical condition. For her, it was not unlike a person who is allergic to snake venom or bee stings. The allergy can take a person from bad to worse with little to no warning. In Liz's case, it could have been fatal if we hadn't treated it right away, but she is fine right now." He tried to interject a positive tone into his grim prognosis. "In fact, by this afternoon, she should be able to go home, as long as she stays in bed for the next couple of days."
"Thank god." Nancy was beyond relieved. She and her husband embraced. Behind them, Maria and Alex reached for each other's hands. Seeing Max look so thankful, she slipped her free hand into one of his and gave it a squeeze. At first, he looked startled at the contact, and then pleased.
"Can we go see her, doctor?" Alex asked.
He looked at group of eight people who were standing around waiting. "Sure, but only in small groups, and only for a short time."
Liz's parents were the first to go in. Sheriff Valenti walked over to Max and said, "Well, thank goodness she's going to be all right. Still, it was a good thing you came over. She might have needed your help."
Max looked at him for a second before replying; "I wouldn't have been able to do anything for her, Sheriff. Things like food poisoning and allergies are natural. When I saved her and Kyle before it's because something was happening to them that was unnatural. The bullets and the holes caused by them weren't normal. I could fix that. Something like this... It's beyond my abilities, Sheriff."
The sheriff took a minute to digest that information. The radio on his belt squawked loudly. "Excuse me," he said as he stepped away to answer it.
|Index | Part 1a|
|Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours|