|"Epiphanies 2: The Anasazi Road"|
Disclaimer: I would be the happiest woman on Earth if I owned any of these people, but sadly, only Josh, the Holbrooks, and Paul Hernandez are mine.|
Summary: This is the sequel to EPIPHANIES 1: The Ties That Bind. It picks up the evening of the Evans barbeque that ended the first story. Here, Max and Liz must come to terms with a shocking revelation about Liz and her Grandma Claudia. They search the past among Native American ruins and history to find the truth and each other.
Authors Note: I have done extensive research on the Anasazi for this fic. Most of what you will read is either factual or widely accepted speculation. I have, on occasion, filled in a gap or made an assumption that suits my purposes. The alien connection, of course, is my own Roswell-loving imagination.
|As before, Paul was waiting for them when they arrived. He looked at their flushed faces and bright eyes and felt once again as if he didn't belong there. They were an enigma: a couple of fresh-faced kids from New Mexico who just happened to be aliens and who somehow managed to create a world of their own wherever they were. He could see flashes of the leader in Max, moments when he was thoroughly in command, yet still attuned to the needs of others, especially the woman he loved. And Liz. She was a tiny slip of a thing, and yet she had exhibited such strength of character and will that he could easily see her standing beside this leader to whom she was obviously devoted. In many ways, Paul felt he was just along for the ride.
"I hope you got some rest," he said as they slid into the booth.|
"Yeah, we took a nap," said Max. His meaningful glance at Liz was not lost on Paul. It made Paul wonder all over again if he had made the right decision about the sleeping arrangements, but he didn't see how he could have separated them. It would have been unnatural somehow--another part of their puzzle.
The waitress took their orders and Max began. "Mr. Hernandez, we've been talking about what to do now. Liz had a . . . some insights while we were resting, and we know there is another step, something else we need to learn or find. Since we don't have any other ideas at the moment, we thought we'd stick with the plan to go over to where the original Anasazi roads supposedly converged at one time. We'd have to drive the loop again; it's all the way around past Casa Rinconada."
"They close the park at dusk, Max. This may have to wait until tomorrow, but I told your folks I'd drive you home tomorrow."
"We should do it tonight," Liz stated firmly. "There won't be anyone around and besides, we've waited long enough. There's only a gate. Max can get us through that, can't you, Max?"
A smile tugged at the corners of Max's mouth. She hadn't exactly asked that as a question. It was more of a statement, allowing for no contradiction. She never ceased to amaze him. Here she was, ready to take on the world, not having an idea in the universe what they would find. "Yeah, I can get us past that."
"Do you know exactly where this place is?" Paul wondered, trying to imagine how they would search for anything in the dark.
"We'll feel it," Max assured him.
During dinner, they discussed some of Paul's adventures with Claudia and explained some of their own from the past year. They came away from the meal with a greater respect for each other and a clearer understanding of all that had brought them to this place. After dinner, they walked out to the car. Max checked that they had both pieces of the Criston with them and they headed toward the gate to the canyon loop road.
It was dusk, and the gate at the entrance to the road was deserted. The gate was really nothing more than a long security arm that had been lowered for the night. It was an easy task for Max to cause it to rise up and let them pass. It lowered immediately behind them. Max and Liz concentrated on their surroundings as they passed the ruins, now cast in purple and blue hues as what was left of the sunset threw shadows among the crumbling walls and deserted kivas.
At the far end of the loop, they looked toward the direction of Penasco Blanco where they had spent their morning. Was something as dramatic waiting for them tonight? Max reached for Liz's hand. Everything had worked better when they were together; they were stronger, more attuned, more balanced as a team. It was what Max had always felt but never been able to verbalize. Now he knew it wasn't a cliché: she was his other half.
Paul steered the car down the other side of the loop toward the park entrance again, this time more slowly, knowing that this was the side that seemed to exert a pull over Max and Liz. They sat quietly, alert and focused. As they passed Casa Rinconada, he slowed even further, waiting to react. He didn't have to wait for long.
"Here!" they shouted in unison. Paul pulled over to the side of the road and looked out at the large, empty expanse. There was nothing but rock and scruffy vegetation, but he didn't doubt their instincts. The past few days had cured him of that.
Liz got out of the car first, peering into the deepening darkness for the source of the pull she felt here. Max climbed out right behind her, clenching the Criston in his hand. Paul came around the front of the car and looked at them questioningly. He didn't want to disturb their concentration, so he waited patiently for them to make the first move.
Their eyes seemed to lock on the same location in the distance. Hand in hand, they walked toward it, Paul following a few steps behind. They never wavered in their path, but walked a line as straight as the roads that had once been built there. Not a word was spoken, nor did they look at each other. It was as if they had given up control and were allowing whatever force existed there to lead them.
About half a mile off the road, they stopped. From Paul's vantage point a few paces back, he detected a familiar pattern. Anxious to confirm what his mind told him was doubtful, he retreated to a boulder projecting from the rocky ground. He pulled himself up with difficulty, but when he was able to stand atop the boulder, he saw it. There below him, where Max and Liz stood transfixed, was the spiral symbol. It was crudely shaped from crevices in the rock floor and desert vegetation, but it was unmistakable.
Without a word, Max and Liz finally looked at each other. Max took the Criston from his backpack and inserted the disk. Immediately, Paul could hear the faint hum and see the lights begin to blink. As Max raised his arms to place it on his head, Paul felt the urge to scream, "No!" But no words came. This was going to happen, for better or for worse, and he would record every detail in his mind.
The Criston fit around Max's head and over his eyes. Instinctively, he drew Liz to him, and the humming grew louder. Soon the pair was turning in a tight circle, their faces reflecting amazement, but not fear. Paul could see nothing, but it was clear that Liz and Max were seeing something. He detected no fear on their part, only surprise, curiosity, perhaps even happiness. He thought about rushing down to where they stood, but as always, he knew that was not his place. This was something meant for them.
"Look, Paul. This is what we worked all those years to find."
Paul didn't even look around. He knew he wouldn't be able to see Claudia, but he had become accustomed to hearing her voice. "The irony is, Claudia, I can't see a damn thing."
"I know, but I may be able to change that, at least for a while." Paul felt a warmth on his shoulder, almost as if Claudia was resting her hand there. Within seconds, Paul was looking at the most astonishing sight of his life.
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