|"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.
|There was a certain awkwardness in the air as those who had been drawn into this bizarre world of aliens began to assemble at the Evans's home. The Parkers and Mr. Hernandez arrived first. Both sets of parents tried to act casual as Max enfolded Liz in his arms and kissed her, briefly but deeply. This was going to take some getting used to. Paul, on the other hand, continued to marvel at their relationship, feeling more comfortable about it all the time. He knew the parents would come around when they had seen these two together as much as he had.
When Sheriff Valenti arrived with Kyle, Philip Evans shook his hand heartily, thanking him for all he had done to help Max and Isabel and the others. The Sheriff reacted modestly, obviously not used to talking about this with anyone yet. Kyle hung back. He'd only been to Max's house once, and that was only to lure him out to watch Liz and her blind date. That had been a strange night, although certain things about it were much clearer now that he had the facts. He looked around for Tess, but didn't see her.|
It wasn't long before Alex, Tess, Michael, and Maria joined the party. Everyone made polite conversation while keeping an eye on Max and Michael. Their last meeting had not ended well.
"Michael, can we talk . . . outside?"
"Sure, Maxwell. Whatever you say." With lips pursed and eyes squinted, Michael was clearly ready for a battle. They walked out back.
"Michael, I know you're still upset about our leaving on this trip without you. I don't blame you. If I were in your shoes, I'd have felt the exact same way. As it turns out, it really did have to be Liz and me, and I can't apologize for that because I can't change it. But I will make you a promise. What we learned convinced me more than ever that we are a team, just like Josh called us. I need you. We need each other. I promise that I won't keep anything from you, and that I'll try to understand when and if the time comes that it's you who needs to handle something without me."
Michael absorbed his words. He had actually come to terms with some of this while Max was gone, knowing they each had a role in this unscripted life they were leading. But the threat of Max's mom spilling the beans in her emotional state, and the constant uncertainly about what lay in store for them while he just watched kept his nerves simmering just beneath his surface. The result was a sullen, irritable Michael.
"Max, ever since we learned you are our leader, I feel like you've taken all this on yourself. If we're a team, then why don't you trust me? I can't just sit and do nothing. You know that. You have to make me a part of this."
"I know, Michael. I realize I have trouble with delegating, but I promise to work on it." He sat down on the picnic bench. "Besides, Liz and I learned that we're compatible after all, so I'm liable to be . . . occupied elsewhere more often now. I'll need you to pick up the slack." He threw Michael a self-conscious smile and waited for his reaction.
"If you're telling me my role is to cover for your sex life, Maxwell, think again. That's not how I see it," Michael replied gruffly. He joined Max on the picnic bench and cast a sidelong glance his way. "Congratulations, by the way."
Max was grinning now. "Thanks. That's really not how I meant it, though." Max sobered. "I just meant that we all have to live our lives in two worlds, and none of us can keep up with both all the time. We have to share whatever comes our way with our Voyan side and make a life within our human side, too. We'll need each other."
They sat silently for a few minutes. "Michael. I do trust you. And when you hear our story, you'll learn that you may have a choice about where to live your life. You may be able to go home--to Voya--if that's what you want. It's your call." Max waited for Michael to erupt at this news, and was confused by his quiet acceptance of this statement.
"Yeah, Isabel called a little while ago. I think she thought it would be best if I weren't completely surprised by your news."
"Guys, we're waiting!" yelled Maria from the back door. "Everybody's on pins and noodles in here."
Michael turned toward Maria as she bounced off and then back to Max. "Maybe I'll just see what develops here first," he said, trying very hard to be casual. "Meanwhile, we're a team, right? No secrets, no pain-in-the-ass leader crap, okay?"
"Deal." Max shook Michael's hand and they headed into the house.
As soon as Michael and Max reappeared acting at ease with each other, the mood of the gathering shifted. Soon everyone was chatting and snacking and exchanging stories. Max stood back relishing this family atmosphere, thankful that with this group, at least, there was no more need for deception, partial truths, and fear. Liz slid into his arms and enjoyed the scene with him. He gave her a little squeeze.
"May I have your attention?" Every face turned toward Max. "As promised, Liz and I are ready to give you the details of our trip. Mr. Hernandez here was a friend of Liz's grandmother's and an enormous help to us." He turned to Paul. "I hope you'll stop us if we skip anything."
Paul nodded. "I'll try," he promised.
"I, for one, am glad to hear this again today," Nancy Parker volunteered. "I was only able to digest part of it yesterday and I know I missed a lot." Jeff reached for her and pulled her down next to him on the sofa, wrapping her in a warm embrace.
"I could use a recap myself," added Philip.
Everyone settled comfortably around the big living room and prepared to hear the wild tale.
Max and Liz gave a fairly detailed description of their adventure, leaving out some of the more extreme aspects, such as Paul's decision to introduce them as newlyweds, the sleeping arrangements, and how harrowing Liz's rescue had really been. Even without these elements, faces reflected shock at what the two had been through and what they had learned.
Occasionally during the long explanation, Max's eyes wandered toward Tess. He was trying to gauge her reaction to this news. He didn't want to hurt her, but he also knew he couldn't love her, and this story only served to underscore that point. She sat with her eyes downcast most of the time, but he could tell she wasn't crying. What was she thinking?
Nancy Parker was crying softly as they finished, and the others were wrestling with the horror of the experience in Mesa Verde versus the wonder of the answers they found in Chaco Canyon. Max made a point of describing how happy his Voyan family had been to accept Liz as his mate, hoping it would set some sort of precedent for their families. The parents still looked uncomfortable with these references, wondering how to treat this relationship in the context of normal teen parameters. Finally, Diane Evans spoke up.
"Who wouldn't be happy to accept Liz as a daughter?"
Max smiled at her gratefully. Liz's startled expression quickly turned to a warm smile, too, as she acknowledged Diane's meaningful message. That's one for us, Liz thought happily.
Paul, who had been quiet during most of the story, felt compelled to throw in his two cents worth. "Claudia has been with us during this journey, as you know. I can tell you that she is feeling great happiness at all that these two have learned. And she has the greatest confidence in the bond they share. She and I both hope you give them a chance."
Liz beamed at him gratefully and was struck hard with an idea, as if it had been forced into her mind. "Dad? Max? Mr. Hernandez? I think I feel Grandma. I think she's here now! Maybe with all of us concentrating together, we can bring her to us. What do you think?"
Paul looked at her and nodded slowly. "Maybe. What do we have to lose? Jeff?" Liz's father looked with concern at his wife. She'd had so many shocks in the last 24 hours; he wasn't sure she was up to this.
To his surprise, she turned her face toward him, her eyes still wet with tears. "Jeff, if there's a chance you could see your mother, I wouldn't dream of stopping you. Go ahead, if you want."
Jeff looked over at Max, who nodded his assent. "Well, then, let's give it a try!" All of the Voyans sat cross-legged in the center of the room as the humans watched from the perimeter. "Let's just close our eyes and concentrate," Liz suggested. "She told us once that we had to be sleeping because otherwise there are too many distractions. But if we all sit quietly and concentrate, maybe the additional strength of our group will be enough to bring her to us."
The room was hushed as they reached for each other's hands, closed their eyes, and focused their thoughts on Claudia Parker.
"Grandma?" Liz whispered. They waited in silence.
|Part 36 | Index | Part 38|
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