|"Strong, Dangerous, and Undeniable"|
|Disclaimer: The characters aren't mine, but thanks to Ms. Metz, Mr. Katims, and the WB for letting us play.
Summary: This story begins with the scene in MITC when Liz does her astral projection thing. It follows along with everything in the show, except the final scene in MITC in Liz's room never takes place.
|Alex took a bite of his strawberry shortcake and looked around warily at the mostly silent table. After the band's performance had ended, the group had decided to come to the restaurant for dessert before heading back to Roswell, but conversation between them had been sporadic at best. |
Once again, Alex was being made to feel as if he'd been left out of the loop somewhere along the line. Everyone had seemed subdued ever since the concert, or maybe even before, and he wondered what was going on. An undercurrent of tension could distinctly be felt running amongst all of them as everyone kept stealing furtive glances at one another.
Isabel's gaze kept roaming around the table in a knowing, but quizzical way that seemed to suggest that she was somewhat as lost as Alex was.
Tess was paying particularly close attention to Kyle while distractedly keeping an eye on Max and Liz. And when she wasn't looking, Kyle returned her stares.
Liz and Max often seemed to be communicating in that silent way they'd always had, and quietly observed everyone in the group, frequently sending dark looks Michael's way.
Michael glowered back at Max and Liz, and shot a guilty look at Maria every so often.
Liz kept casting a worried eye upon Maria, and Maria, in turn, was watching Michael and Liz as if she were going to be tested later on every gesture they made.
It was like watching a scene from some weird whodunit mystery, which he felt completely removed from, because Alex didn't even know what it was that had been done, much less who done it.
But it was Maria's utter silence that had initially clued him in. He'd hardly heard her say a word since he and Isabel had come off the dance floor before the concert, and if she was this quiet, something must really be wrong. He knew about the whole Michael/Liz connection thing, but things between everyone hadn't seemed this tense and strained earlier at Senor Chow's, and Alex could only conclude that something had happened after they'd gotten to the club. The question was, what?
He really hated feeling like the only one who hadn't been let in on the secret. It took him back to the painfully confusing days before he'd been allowed to become a member of the exclusive I-Know-an-Alien club.
Forcing a light tone, he asked, "Why is everybody so gloomy? I didn't think the band was that bad."
No one said anything for a moment, then Liz spoke for all of them saying, "It's just getting kinda late, Alex. I guess we're all a little tired."
"So...there's no plot to take over the earth underfoot that I should be made aware of?" he asked only half-jokingly, feeling sure that something was up.
Liz just gave him a pained smile and shook her head. Determined to divert him from this line of conversation, she quickly said, "Did you really think the band was bad? I thought they were alright. I mean, clearly they weren't The Whits," at this Alex graciously inclined his head, "but they sounded decent enough."
Kyle snorted. "Yeah, especially that rousing little number at the end. Could anyone even tell what song that was supposed to be?" he asked with quizzical derision.
"'Please Forgive Me'," Liz and Michael answered in unison.
Their eyes met in startlement across the table for a brief moment before falling away in chagrin, and Michael took a hasty sip of his water while Liz carefully refolded the napkin in her lap.
Kyle lifted a brow at their chimed reply, and after an awkward pause he said, "Yeah? I don't think I know that one. Who sings it?"
There was a moment of silence as Michael and Liz each paused to allow the other to answer, and when it appeared neither was going to, they again replied simultaneously, "David Gray."
Liz flushed in consternation, and Michael closed his eyes and grit his teeth as a few uneasy laughs sounded around the table.
Unamused, Maria stiffened at Michael's side. She'd been looking for evidence of their connection and its effects all night. Add this to Michael's extreme edginess while Max and Liz had been absent from the group earlier, and the grilling he had subjected Liz to before she'd left with Kyle, and Maria couldn't find anything funny in this little 'coincidence'.
Max, too, was finding it hard to see any humor in the situation, as anything that even alluded to their connection was like an irritant that rubbed against him chafingly.
Trying to ease the tension between the two silent couples at the center of the table, Alex said lightly, "You know, you set that to music, and maybe you two can take that duet on the road."
Michael didn't acknowledge the comment, and Liz just forced a small smile.
Tess looked between Michael and Liz speculatively and threw a sly look towards Max, sensing an opportunity to play this connection thing for all it was worth. "I wouldn't have thought you two would have the same taste in music," she observed with a look of innocence. "David Gray's not really your style, is it, Michael? I thought you were into heavy metal."
Wishing he'd never even opened his mouth in the first place, Michael mumbled uncomfortably, "Yeah, uh... I kinda just started listenin' to his stuff lately."
Dismayed, Liz just looked at him. She loved David Gray. She had every one of his CDs at home and listened to him all the time. It was really weird that Michael had started listening to him too, when his music was so diverse from what Michael usually listened to. But what was even weirder was that she had recently started listening to a lot of Linkin Park's music and found herself absolutely loving it, even though their thrashing sound was a huge departure from what she usually liked. She didn't think she'd need three guesses to figure out whose musical taste that was a reflection of, and it disturbed and upset her to know that now they were unknowingly picking up one another's habits and preferences through this connection.
The significance of Michael's confession wasn't lost on Max and Maria, who were both aware of Michael's and Liz's musical preferences. It was a pretty odd coincidence that Michael was suddenly listening to one of Liz's favorite singers, especially when he was an avid heavy-metal fan and David Gray was anything but. It wasn't that difficult to do the math. And the sum of two parts equaled connection.
Max struggled to keep his expression neutral as he wondered resentfully for the thousandth time what this thing was that connected them and why it was so strong as to have this kind of effect on them. Maria's expression wasn't neutral at all, as she looked back and forth between Michael and Liz, her face set. She was appalled to see just how much of an influence this thing was exerting over them. It really was almost like they were sharing a brain, she thought with caustic anguish.
Conversation flowed in fits and starts after that without any input from the four of them. Liz was afraid to open her mouth again, for fear of what new revelation she might utter. She was praying that everyone would just hurry and finish eating so they could leave. She was exhausted and she just wanted to get to Max's house. Of course, even then her night wouldn't be over. She still had dream-walking experiments to get through with Isabel.
When everyone had finished, and the bill had been taken care of, they all left the restaurant together. As they entered the small courtyard outside the restaurant's entrance, Michael caught hold of Liz's arm, and pulled her aside. Maria faltered a step as she witnessed his action, but continued on with the rest of the group, casting a dark look over her shoulder at them.
Liz watched them go, her eyes expressing apology to Maria, then looked up at Michael with confused displeasure. "What is it, Michael? I thought we agreed no private conversations in front of Max and Maria."
Ignoring her comment, Michael just looked at her in uncertainty for a moment. He knew he was going to tick her off by saying this, he could almost predict what she would say- it wasn't any of his business, he had no right yada, yada, yada. But while he knew that stuff was true, he couldn't seem to help it. He didn't like the idea of her going home with Max, and he had to say something. Firming his resolve, he said, "Look, you can't spend the night at Max's tonight, Liz."
"Excuse me?" she asked in astonishment, giving him a disbelieving look.
"I said, you can't spend the night at Max and Isabel's," he repeated more forcefully.
Her eyes flashed. "Yeah, I heard what you said. What I'm having a really hard time understanding is why you would possibly think you have any right to tell me that I can't do something."
Not the least apologetic, he told her, "Well, whether I have a right or not, Liz, I'm tellin' you it is not a good idea for you to spend the night with Max. Especially not after what happened here tonight. Surely you can see that."
"What I 'see' is that you seem to be under the mistaken impression that you're my dad or something," she muttered angrily. "And I told you before, Michael, I am not spending the night with Max. I'm spending the night with"
"Isabel," he finished for her shortly. "Yeah, fine. Whatever. But you can't tell me that at no time tonight are you planning to go to his room, Liz," he said with dark skepticism.
"Whether I do or not, it's none of your business, Michael!" she exclaimed, her features drawn in angry exasperation. "What is wrong with you lately? You've completely gone off the deep end. Why have you suddenly made it your personal mission to like, keep tabs on me and monitor my actions with Max?"
Her frustrated ire gave rise to his own, and he quietly erupted. "You know why! Because this stupid connection has things so twisted up inside me I have no clue anymore what I'm feeling, or even who we're supposed to be!"
Max and Maria walked up to them at that precise moment. Max had failed to realize right away that Liz wasn't with them because Isabel had been talking to him as they'd left the building. When he'd noticed Liz's absence and asked about it, Maria had told him where she was, and had declared that she was going back in with him.
She was wishing she hadn't now, though. What had Michael meant by that last statement, Maria wondered sickly. He thought he had some kind of feelings for Liz? Or he thought he was supposed to?
Either way she interpreted it, it left Maria with a tight feeling in her chest that seemed to be constricting her breathing.
"Max!" Liz exclaimed guiltily, the grim expressions on his and Maria's faces making her feel as if she'd been caught doing something she shouldn't.
Max lifted a hand to her arm in comfort and support, then shifted his gaze to Michael and asked balefully, "What's the problem?"
Michael's emotions were already turbulent and confused, and Max's hostility, not to mention the way he'd been so quick to reassure Liz, but immediately turn on him in censure, quickly provoked Michael to temper, and he burst out stormily, "The problem is that you two have no business spendin' the night together at your house when you can't even keep your clothes on when you're in a public place, and I was tellin' Liz she shouldn't go."
No one noticed Maria's eyes widen in shock and hurt, and she looked at Liz as if she didn't even know her. Exactly how many secrets was her 'best friend' keeping from her?
"You have got to be kiddin' me," Max said blackly, incensed that Michael was continuing in his condemnation of them for the incident in the ball room when he'd already warned him to change his attitude about it. And he couldn't believe Michael's nerve in trying to interfere in things between him and Liz. "Where do you get off telling Liz what she should and shouldn't do, Michael? This connection does not give you any rights over her, you got that?"
Michael's eyes narrowed. "We have no idea what it is that connects us so strongly, Maxwell. Whatever it is, maybe it gives me more rights over her than you think," he said antagonistically.
The intimation that their connection tied them together more strongly than his own connection to Liz hit him right where he was most vulnerable, and Max's jaw tightened in fury. "What's that supposed to mean?" he snarled.
"Stop it! Both of you," Liz said fiercely, stepping in between them. "This is over. Michael, just go," she gritted out. "Go to the car with Maria and we'll be out in a minute."
She glanced around Max to implore Maria for help, but the other girl wasn't there. Liz's eyes darted around in alarm. "Where'd Maria go?" As Max and Michael jerked around to look at the spot where she'd been standing only a minute ago, Liz's eyes widened in sudden comprehension, and she looked around frantically to try and catch sight of Maria.
"She didn't know about me and Max, " Liz said tightly. This wasn't the way Maria should have found out about that. And it was the absolute worst time it could happen, coming right on top of the secret she and Michael had confessed to only this morning. "And that thing you said...about whatever connects us-" furious tears filled her eyes. "How could you say that in front of her? You know how flipped out she is about it right now," she said in throbbing accusation to Michael.
Shaken by fear for Maria's safety and filled with self-reproach, Michael said agitatedly, "We have to find her! She shouldn't be wandering around by herself, we can't be sure it's safe."
Forcing calm into his voice, Max said reasonably, "She probably just went outside with the others."
Agreeing that was the most likely place for her to go, the three of them hurried toward the exit, scanning the crowd for Maria's bright head along the way. When they got to the parking lot, Isabel hurried up to them.
Instead of answering, Michael asked roughly, "Did Maria come out here?" He looked toward the spot where they'd parked the Jetta and got his answer before Isabel could respond.
"Yeah, " she answered, concern darkening her face. "She came storming out a minute ago and got in the car without saying a word. Alex managed to get in the car with her before she left, though, so she isn't alone."
Angry with himself for screwing things up so bad, Michael said harshly, "Well, let's get going then. Maybe we can catch up to them. They shouldn't be out on the road alone."
Everyone rushed toward their vehicles, and Max started calling out instructions. "Kyle, you go first, since your car will go faster, and we'll try and keep up. If you lose us and haven't caught up with them after ten miles, wait for us. There's no point in all of us being separated. Liz, do you have your cell phone with you?" Liz nodded quickly, and began digging through her purse. When she'd found it, he directed her to give it to Kyle. "Isabel's phone is in the jeep. If you catch up to them, or if anything happens, call, okay?" he told Kyle as Liz hurried over to hand off her phone.
"Be careful," she called as everyone climbed into their respective cars.
In their hurry to leave, no one noticed the nondescript gray car that pulled out of the parking lot behind them a few moments after they'd gone.
And it followed them at a safe distance all the way back to Roswell.
|Part 35 | Index | Part 37|
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