FanFic - Max/Liz
"Always With You - Part Three"
Part 6
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 foranswers and finds more than they anticipated.
Category: Max/Liz
Rating: PG
Authors Note: You REALLY should read Always With You part one and twofirst, but if you haven't, here's what you've missed: Tess was evil and notthe fourth alien, the gang killed her and Liz discovered she has powers,too. They find an alien weapon called the Shield and learn about theexistence of the Sword, another weapon. Please, please e-mail me with yourthoughts.
"Isabel. Isabel. Can you hear me?" The voice whispered through her mind sweetly, but with an urgency.

Isabel's mind groggily began to function. "Yeah, I can hear you." She answered. She didn't notice that she wasn't speaking aloud.

"Isabel, there's no time. You have to help Alex."

Her brain snapped to attention. "Alex? Why? What's happening?"

"Atherton is trying to take over his body. Alex is fighting him off as best as he can, but it's a just a matter of time. He's pouring all of his memories into Alex's mind right now. As soon as all of Atherton's memories are planted, it will give Atherton the upper hand. There's no time to lose."

"What can I do? I mean, Atherton is a ghost."

"Use your dream-walking ability to make a connection with Alex. Don't worry, about trying to get in, Alex is waiting for you. Hurry." The voice was pressing, but not demanding. "Alex is strong, but the only way he'll ever walk out of here is with your help." Then the voice added encouragingly, "Fortunately, Atherton's first mistake was in thinking that Alex is just a normal, average human kid."

"But he is just an average kid." Isabel argued with the voice that was whispering through her mind.

"Shame on you, Isabel. Alex is anything but average. You should know that. You feel it. You have from the beginning."

Suddenly wary of this stranger who seemed to know so much and at the same time becoming aware that whoever it was was dream-walking her, Isabel asked, "Who are you?"

"I'm a friend. Don't worry, you can trust me. We once were closer than sisters. Listen to your instincts, Isabel. They are telling you that I am here to help you."

Isabel realized that she was right. Everything inside her accepted the other person's gentle presence. "Yes."

"Hurry." The sweet voice urged. "It's nearly time. Alex needs you... They all need you."

Isabel quickly called up the energies that fed her dream-walking ability, and reached out to Alex with her mind. She had dream-walked Alex once before, and had been shocked and flattered at what he'd been dreaming. When she entered his subconscious this time, she was shocked all over again. Alex was sitting in front of a movie screen, and he was watching what looked to be The Life and Times of James Atherton.

He felt her presence behind him, and looked over his shoulder. "Hey, I saved you a seat." He patted the space next to him.

"Alex, we have to stop this."

"No, it's just getting to the good part. You missed the whole beginning, which was very exciting. This last part has been pretty boring. He wrote his book, got it published. Celebrated. Did you know that he was a communist? He's like some sort of spy, or something, ready to take up arms against America if Russia ever declared war against us."

"What?" Isabel felt like she was in the Twilight Zone.

"Yeah, that's why this dome house has a secret room. I mean didn't you guys ever wonder why an average guy like Atherton needed a secret room? This was his hideaway and escape route for if the government ever figured him out and came for him."

Shaking her head, Isabel approached him on the sofa and tried again to get Alex to listen to her. "Alex we need to stop this. He's trying to, like possess your body. We have to stop him."

"Yeah, I know all that, but we can't stop now. He's getting ready to show us where the Sword is."

Isabel opened her mouth to argue but his last words sunk in. She stepped over next to him, and looked that the screen with renewed interest.

"Really? How do you know?"

"Just watch." Isabel sat on the edge of the couch next to him, and stared fixedly at the screen.

Atherton was creating a cubbyhole in the wall in which he was planning to hide the stolen alien artifacts. He had no doubt that Nasedo was out there looking for him, and he would find him one day, of that he was certain. He was still kicking himself for allowing the publisher to photograph him in front of the house. At the time, he'd been caught up in the excitement of getting his book published. Nothing else had mattered.

As soon as he saw the picture on the dust jacket of the book, it hit him what a colossal mistake he'd made. He was tempted to move all together, but he loved this house, and he told himself that Nasedo would have no interest in reading a book about aliens, so maybe he'd never find out about it. He'd developed quite a following among the UFOlogist community. Quite a number of people respected his works, and he was to go on another book tour even though "Among Us" had been out for four years now.

As the time passed, he was becoming even more paranoid that Nasedo was lurking in every crowd. The only way he could contemplate going on the tour was if he knew the bracelet and chess pieces were safely hidden in such a way that nobody could find them, short of burning the house down. And maybe not even then.

They were his only bargaining chip for when Nasedo found his way back into his life. As long as he had them, he had the upper hand because he believed that Nasedo wouldn't harm him until he got them back.

He'd been toying with an idea for the locking mechanism for a while. It needed to be unusual, or anybody would be able to get at the hidden items.

The answer had come to him a few nights ago: magnets. Create a polarized lock that could only be opened by a magnetic key. The glory of the idea was that there would be a positive lock and a negative lock that worked in opposite directions. What this meant is that a person had to work both sides of the lock at the same time, in opposite directions to get it to work.

He went to the hardware store two towns over and bought all of the supplies he would need, then spent the next week, constructing the secret panel.

"You have to admit," Alex said, watching him. "The guy was very smart."

"He's dead. How smart can he be?" She asked sarcastically.

"Ok, so he shouldn't have crossed Nasedo, but other than that..."

They watched as he completed his project, and took the bag containing the items that he'd stolen from Nasedo's cave out of the box in which he'd hidden it.

Atherton reached into the bag and drew out the pendant that Nasedo had given to him. He held it in front of his eyes for a moment, and then decided not to store it with the other items. He hung it by its chain on a nail near his typewriter so that he could look at it when he wrote. Everything else in the bag went in to the cubbyhole. When the door clicked shut, the locking mechanism engaged.

He got out the long bar that worked as the key. On the exposed rafters just above his head, there were two touch plates facing each other across a three-foot gap. He carefully placed the magnetized bar between the plates. It fit perfectly. The polarized ends of the rod activated the magnetic locks, and the panel popped open in front of his knees. It was so easy and so complex at the same time. No one would ever be able to figure out how to open the door. Feeling pleased with himself, he closed it back up, and hid the bar on the backside of the support beams of the stairs that led into the hidden room. A person would have to know it was there in order to find it. With his stolen items so carefully hidden, he felt better than he had in years. Whistling, he went upstairs and packed for the book tour.

It was in Phoenix, Arizona that he met Dwight Shellow, a professor in Ancient Languages. The book tour had taken him to University of Arizona.

Atherton had sat in the man's lecture and listened to how he'd been working on translating the symbols on the stone walls of the Pyramids in Egypt. The texts left behind by those ancient dynasties were slowly revealing their secrets to the diligent scientists that worked them.

Thinking about his stolen scrolls, Atherton had been fascinated. He began to envision being the first person to read the alien documents. His heart began to beat faster at the thought. When the lecture was over, Atherton went up to Professor Shellow and introduced himself. "Thank you for a fascinating lecture, Professor."

"Well, thank you for attending. It was an honor to have a man of such notoriety in the audience. What brings you out to the campus today, Mr. Atherton."

"I was on a book signing tour in the area, I saw a poster advertising your lecture, and I simply couldn't miss it."

"I'm honored. I've read your book, by the way. You have some interesting theories concerning the supposed existence of aliens."

"Thank you, Professor. I've actually developed a fascination with decrypting languages lately. Among my research for 'Among Us', I came across several example of writings that were supposedly alien in nature, but I don't know that anyone has had any success in translating them. Have you ever heard of Machu Picchu? It's this place in Peru."

The other man nodded. "Yeah, that's where they found all of those cryptic symbols, right? Some people think that aliens left some kind of messages there, right?"

"Right. The thing is, Professor, based on when those symbols were discovered, and our modern archeology techniques, it is very possible that at the time those symbols were painted, man was still drawing stick figures on cave walls of the hunt. Those symbols are way too sophisticated for Croatian man to have drawn. They indicate an organized verbal and, of course, written language that we have no other records of. So, that begs the question of who left those symbols. Or what."

"I see your point." The Professor said, becoming intrigued.

"The thing is that the formal academia thinks that all UFOlogists are quacks, and the entire field is one big joke. Nobody with the resources and know-how are seriously trying to make sense of those texts." Professor Shellow became wary. He wasn't about to be volunteered to attempt translating 'alien' symbols. He had his reputation to consider. Atherton saw his reaction, and chuckled and said, "Don't worry, I usually make it a point not to take advantage of my friends until I've known them for at least two years."

"Well that's a relief."

"I'm just a little over enthusiastic on the subject. What I was going to ask you was simply, how did you get started in your field? Are there any books, journals, or articles out there that maybe I could use to get my feet wet? I'm thinking that those texts could be my retirement project to keep me from going crazy in my twilight years. I'm a single man, you know. Never had any family of my own."

"Of course." Shellow answered. "The field isn't highly published, considering how it's not that glamorous and all. I'll bet you that if we ever come across the text that tells the story of the thirty missing years of Jesus' life then the field will boom overnight, but until then, we are a very small group whose passion for ancient languages run our lives. You can find quite a lot of articles at the university library because I keep our shelves up-to-date. Your local library or bookstore might have a few books on the subject as well."

"Thank you, Professor. After listening to your lecture today, I feel re-energized to attempt tackling those texts just see if I can make heads or tails out of them."

"Well, good luck to you, Mr. Atherton. Keep in touch and let me know if you make any progress."

They shook hands, and Atherton said, "Thank you, and I will." After leaving the lecture hall, he hurried over to U of A's library to look up some information on the subject. Shellow wasn't kidding. There were several piles for him to wade through. He wrote down the names of several books that he was planning to order, and read a few of the shorter articles that he could find. The librarian had to kick him out at closing time.

He continued on the book tour, signing copies of 'Among Us' for eager UFOlogists young and old. In every bookstore he stopped, he checked to see if they had anything on ancient languages or the translating of. Mostly, he went away empty handed, but occasionally he got lucky, and found something in the subject. He spent his evenings at whatever hotel room he was in reading book after book.

Finally, the tour was over, and he was grateful to return to his house in Marathon. Not even bothering to unpack, he hurried down into the hidden room and opened the secret compartment that held his stolen artifacts. He carefully removed the scrolls from the sack, taking great care not to touch the bracelet, and returned the sack to the wall and closed the door.

He went back upstairs and set the elaborate cylinder on his kitchen table. He got out the box of books he'd accumulated over the past few weeks.

Eagerly, he sat down and after unraveling the scrolls, he began to try to make sense of the symbols.

Summer turned to Fall, and soon even Fall was fading. It was mid-November, and he was no closer to deciphering the contents of the scrolls. "Damn Aliens!" he swore, not for the first time. He flung his pencil across the room in frustration. He finally conceded that he needed help. Fortunately for him, he knew exactly who to turn to. Grabbing up his keys, he headed out to the RV and drove into town.

"Hello, Professor Shellow, please," he said to the college operator from the pay phone he usually used on the rare occasions he had to make a call.

After a few minutes and several transfers later, Shellow was finally on the line. "Hello, Professor, this is James Atherton. We spoke last June after your lecture there on Ancient Languages."

"Ahh yes, Mr. Atherton. How have you been?"

"Not bad. Hey, look," Atherton said, wanting to cut straight to the heart of the matter. "I'm immersed in this project, and I could really use your expertise. I am way out of my league here."

"What project?"

Atherton knew that he would have to lay everything on the table to get a man like the professor interested in helping him. "I have in my possession several items that are, let's just say, not from this planet. One of the items is a parchment; a scroll just full of text that I can't seem to figure out. The whole thing is beyond my ability."

"Mr. Atherton..."

He heard the denial in the man's voice, and was quick to cut him off. "No, wait, Professor. I can prove that these items are what I say they are. Please, let me just come out to Arizona. Give me ten minutes of your time, and if at the end of those ten minutes, you're still skeptical, I'll leave, and never call you again. I swear. But," he added as incentive. "But, if you agree to work on this project with me, you can have full credit for doing the translating as long as I can write a book on our findings."

There was silence on the other end of the line, and he decided to take that as encouragement. "Ten minutes, Professor. What have you got to lose? Nothing. You'll have everything to gain. Think about it. What a career boost for you to have translated a language that originated in a place that is different from everything that we know. It'll be incredible. I have two completely whole documents. They are completely legible, and each has several hundred symbols on it, so it's not an impossible task that I'm asking. What do you think, Professor? Just ten minutes is all I'm asking."

"I can't believe that I'm even listening to this."

"You won't regret this, I promise!"

"I haven't agreed yet."

"You will. Oh yeah, you will as soon as you see what I have."

"Alright. You have ten minutes to convince me. And I'm warning you right now that I don't believe in aliens, so I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you. I'm not making any promises."

"I understand, sir. Thank you." Atherton felt like a young man again. He was so excited over the prospect of the two of them translating the scrolls. He was dying to know what they said. He would have to convince the Professor that he was being straight with him, but he'd figure out how on the way.

"When can I expect you?"

"I'll be there in the morning."

"Ok. I'll see you in my offices at the university at nine o'clock. Don't be late."

"Oh, I won't, sir. Thank you again." He hung up the phone and practically skipped to the waiting RV. On the drive back to the house, he planned what he would say to convince the professor. He could show him how the metal of the cylinder was unlike any other metal known to man: when it was bent, it bent back on its own. He'd discovered that one day when he'd unknowingly set a heavy book on top of it then leaned his elbow on it. When he'd closed the book several hours later, the canister was flatter than a pancake. He'd stared in amazement as it slowly returned itself to its original shape. He'd been so astounded that he'd dropped the thing on the floor and stepped on it just so he could watch it repair itself all over again.

Plus, he could take the bracelet with him, Atherton thought as he drove. Then he decided against it. He wasn't about to remove that thing from the secret cupboard for anything. Everything that had happened to him the last time he'd tried to wear it was still burned into his brain. He wasn't making any plans to get anywhere near it in the immediate future. It had been six years since he'd worn it, but nearly dying wasn't something a person forgot easily. Six years was a long time. He stopped and thought of everything that had happened to him ever since he'd fled the Mesaliko Reservation with Nasedo's stuff. It was hard to believe that it was already November of 1959. The new decade was fast approaching, and he felt that in many ways he wasn't ready for it. He wondered what the sixties would bring to this country as well as Mother Russia. He'd broken his Russian ties several years back, content to live out the rest of his life as an American, but he remained interested in world affairs.

Right now, however, the only thing that held his immediate interest was translating the scrolls. He turned off the highway and drove up the long driveway that led to his house. In minutes, his was getting out and stepping inside the building. He was shocked to see two strangers standing in his kitchen. One of them was holding one of the scrolls. "What's this?" he'd asked angrily. "Who are you? You're trespassing on private property."

Of the two men, one was somewhat tall and skinny, the other was a little stockier, but not fat by any means. Both were of indiscriminate ages, and had no outstanding features. In fact, they were just Average Joes, right down to their plaid shirts and jeans. If he'd been thinking, he might have realized that the last time had seen anyone so unremarkable was six years ago.

"Oh my god, Alex." Isabel said. She was still dream-walking Alex; still had the connection with his subconscious. They'd both gotten so caught up in the events unfolding before their eyes that they forgotten everything else. Both of the teens recognized these two strangers from Atherton's past. These two people had been in Roswell only last week. She reached for his hand.

"It's Mr. Skinny and Bubba." He was amazed. "They look exactly the same." He shuddered. It had only been a few days since the two of them had beat Alex nearly to death while looking for Isabel and the others. His dreams at night were still haunted by them.

"Yeah," she breathed. "Of course, they are shape-shifters like Nasedo. They don't age like we do."

"I guess we've found out how they got the scrolls from Nasedo. They took them from Atherton right here. Poor Atherton. He's about to find out the hard way that these guys don't take 'no' for answer."

They were interrupted by the voices coming from the screen as Atherton's life story continued to play out in front of them.

"Where is the Shield? Where is the Sword? Tell us." The larger one, which Alex had taken to calling Bubba during their short stay in Roswell, had Atherton by the shirtfront.

"I don't know what you're talking about." Atherton said. "Who are you? What do you want with me?"

Bubba shook Atherton like a rag doll, and growled, "We have scrolls old man. It's just a matter of time before we find what we're looking for, so why do you save yourself a lot of pain and... well, pain, and just tell us."

"I told you, I don't know what you're talking about."

The larger alien punched Atherton in the face. The human grunted, and tried to roll with the blow, but the other man was suddenly standing behind him.

Mr. Skinny supported Atherton's body as Bubba laid into him. Blow after blow landed on Atherton's body. His cries of pain echoed loudly off the walls. "Tell us, old man, or..." he let the sentence hang.

"I don't know what you want." Atherton cried out, desperate to stop the pain. "I would tell you if I knew what you wanted, I swear. I don't know what you're looking for."

Mr. Skinny looked at Bubba who nodded, confirming that Atherton was telling the truth.

"Ok, Atherton, answer one question for me, and we'll let you go," Mr. Skinny said. He shook Atherton who was dazed to the point of being incoherent.

"Are you listening? Answer one question for me, and we'll let you go." He pointed to the decorative scroll casing. "Where did you get that?"

"A man..." Atherton could barely form the words. "A man gave it to me."

"Who? Who gave it to you?" Atherton was silent, not because he was protecting Nasedo, but because he was still processing the question. Pain was screaming through every nerve ending in his body. He wasn't sure, but he thought he was having a heart attack: his entire left side was numb.

Bubba slapped him hard across the face to get his attention. It worked. "Who gave you the scrolls?"


"Nasedo? Who the hell is Nasedo?"

Bubba looked at Mr. Skinny. "Do you think Nasedo is the Protector of the others?"

"Possibly. More than likely, if he had the scrolls. No one else would have had them."

"Hey, old man!" Bubba shouted in Atherton's face. He slapped him on the other cheek. "Hey. Do you want to live?"

Atherton nodded painfully.

"Say it!"

"I want to live."

"Good, then here's what you're going to do. You are going to take us to where this Nasedo is. After that we'll let you go."

Mr. Skinny said from behind him, "Do you understand. You take us to this man, Nasedo, and we'll leave you alone."

"I don't know where he is."

Bubba sucker punched him in the gut. Atherton thought that his spleen was going to explode. His vision was receding. All of his breath gushed out of him, and he was sure that he was going to be sick.

"Do you think we're kidding?"

"I'm telling you. I haven't seen the man in six years. He could be anywhere on the planet by now. I don't know where he is. I have no idea."

"Well you had better come up with an idea, and come up with it fast. I'm not a patient man."

"But, I don't..." Suddenly a face flashed through his mind. Wait a second, he thought. He had no idea where Nasedo could be, but maybe, just maybe there was someone who did. Someone that Nasedo had trusted. "Ok, ok. I think I know someone who can help you."

What he was going to was worse than cowardly, to set up a completely innocent person, but with his life on the line, Atherton could barely generate any remorse. Besides, Riverdog was a much younger man with a large family and friends. He could hold his own with these two, he rationalized.

Atherton hadn't put together the pieces of the puzzle that was laying before him: he had no idea that the two creatures standing in front of him were aliens. And he was planning to just hand Riverdog over to them.

"You better not be trying to trick us, old man. Else you won't live to see the sunrise."

"Where is this person?" Mr. Skinny asked. He wiped away the blood that was trickling down his chin before replying.

"Roswell. Roswell, New Mexico."

"Roswell, huh?" The two strangers shared a look. Atherton didn't know it, but they'd already been in that particular town looking for the Protector, and the pod chamber that he was guarding. They figured that Atherton must be willing to cooperate if he was going to be taking them back there.

"Let me just get... get a jacket." Atherton could barely talk, let alone walk and drive. When the taller man released his hold on him, Atherton nearly slid to the floor. He caught himself on the table. His coat was where he'd left it on the back of his chair, since he hadn't worn it earlier when he'd gone to town to use the phone. All of a sudden, his conversation with Professor Shellow seemed a lifetime ago. He looked at the taller man. He'd pocketed the scrolls, not bothering with the small case they'd been in when Atherton had taken them from Nasedo. He figured that he wouldn't be going to Arizona to meet with him after all. He actually had little hope that he would be coming back here at all, but then, he'd gotten out of some pretty rough spots before. Maybe he'd find an opportunity to bolt. There was a chance that he could get out of this with his skin still attached, albeit a slim one. At this point, he'd take anything he could get.

He grabbed his jacket off the back of the kitchen chair, and slipped it painfully on. He didn't have a full range of motion in his shoulders any more. He wasn't concerned about the coat as much as the small key that was in the pocket. It was the key that opened the trap door to the room downstairs. He wasn't taking the chance that someone could find it and discover the hidden room beneath the floor.

"Let's go." The larger man was impatient.

"I'm coming." The three of them crowded into the cab of his RV. Atherton slowly started the engine, and pulled out on to the road. The entire six-hour trip back into New Mexico was made in complete silence. They had to stop twice for gas, and they kept a close eye on him all the while he was running the pump.

It was midnight when he pulled into Roswell's only hotel. He'd explained that they couldn't go in search of the person until it was light out. As soon as dawn was creasing the sky, they were up and headed out in the direction of the Mesaliko Indian Reservation.

Part 5a | Index | Part 6a
Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours
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