|"The Road Not Taken"|
Disclaimer: Just borrowing - will return in good order.|
Summary: Liz walks away from Max - or does she?
Authors Note: This is an alternate reality/timeline type of story. Read the first 4 parts before this one. It helps with the confusion - truly. Gotta warn you guys - from here on out things are getting pretty grim, just know that I'm one seriously dedicated dreamgirl, so things will work out - eventually!
~ The Present ~
Michael had been walking since before sunrise. He noticed nothing around him. Head down, hands in pockets, he'd walked for miles. His mind was consumed with his dreams, dreams that had seeped into his mind every night for the past week. After hours of aimless wandering, Michael finally turned towards home.
He couldn't go inside when he eventually reached the tiny house, that was tucked away in isolation. As Michael stared at the run-down building, the guilt he'd been carrying around with him for years welled up until Michael felt like he was surrounded by a thick fog.
This was all his fault. The years of running, hiding, the three of them not living just.existing. It never would have happened if he'd listened to the warnings Max tried to give him about Nasedo.about Tess. His desperate search for those he hoped would be his family had resulted in untold pain for ones who loved him, who by their actions proved they * were * his family. Michael had hurt them all - Maria, Isabel, Alex, Max.Liz.
Michael felt his gut twist at the thought of Liz. He knew Max didn't blame him for what happened.Max blamed himself, which only served to increase his guilt. And Michael didn't even want to think about Maria's reaction. Maria.
During the morning Michael had avoided thinking about her, but now Maria's face was all he could see through his fog. He hadn't seen her in over 6 years. It seemed like a lifetime. He shivered as his thoughts returned once again to his dream. His. vision he realised. Maria might never forgive him, might never want to even see him again, but he would die before he let any harm come to her. The fog lifted. He moved towards the house.
Michael found Max waiting in the kitchen for him. Michael could see Max's concern for him and didn't know what to say. He looked at Max, his inner turmoil evident by the wild look in his eyes.
"Are you going to tell me what's bothering you, or do I have to play 20 questions to work it out?" Max finally asked him.
"Max, I've had another vision." Michael paused as he saw Max's eyes widen. When he realised Max was waiting for him to continue, Michael figured he'd be better off just spitting it out.
"I saw Alex and. Maria. I think.I feel.they're in danger Max."
"Boston," Michael blurted as Max remained silent "I'm pretty sure they're in Boston. It wasn't really all that clear. But something is wrong Maxwell. I can't explain what, I just know they need us."
Michael took a deep breath and looked at Max. The colour was slowly draining from his face. The pain Michael saw in his eyes, hurt to look at.
"Then we have to go to them - before.we can't let anything happen to them." Max said, his voice barely above a whisper as abruptly he turned and raced out of the room.
Michael stared after him, then suddenly kicked the nearest chair in frustration. He raked his hand through his hair as the guilt closed in again.
It was mid afternoon when Max drove back into outskirts of Roswell. His anxiety increased as he drove closer to home. His only wish was to get inside and into his room without having to explain what happened to Isabel.
He doubted he would be that lucky. Isabel would only have to look at him to know something was wrong. Max rubbed his hand over his face, wiping away the stray tears that still lingered, but knew that did nothing to hide the fact his eyes were swollen and red from the constant crying he'd been doing since he left the Crashdown last night.
Finally he turned into his street and then into his driveway. As he pulled up, Max took it as a good sign when Isabel didn't race out to meet the Jeep. He was still hopeful, when he opened the door to find the foyer empty. Turning he bolted to his room.
Isabel was sitting on his bed waiting for him. As soon as Max opened the door, she sprung up and enveloped him in a hug.
"Max! Thank God - you're OK." Isabel was literally trembling and Max felt a pang of guilt. He shouldn't have just taken off like that - she must have thought he'd been captured again.
"Izzy I'm sorry, I didn't mean to worry you, I should have..."
"We don't have time for that now Isabel. Max ."
Max's head whipped round when he heard Michael's voice. He'd been so focused on Izzy, he hadn't even noticed him standing near his desk. Looking at Michael's face, Max knew there was something going on here that he didn't know about. He realised Izzy was not just worried, she was terrified. Max felt his stomach clench in fear.
"Michael what's going on - what's wrong?"
Before Michael could answer his question, the phone by Max's bed started to ring making them all jump. Max looked at the ringing phone in dread. What if that was Liz, calling to tell him about last night? He didn't want to hear her say the words. He couldn't face it.
Isabel glanced at Max wondering why he wasn't making a move to answer his phone. For the first time since he'd entered his room, she noticed his appearance. He'd been crying - he looked like he'd been crying for hours. Concern for him gripped her. What was going on? Hadn't he been to see Liz? Isabel shot Michael a look. He shook his head back slightly at her.
When she realised Max wasn't going to pick up, Isabel brushed past him and grabbed the phone. "Hello?"
The expression on the leader's face sent a shiver of apprehension sweeping through him Perhaps he was already too late. He'd planned to find the earth girl first, but when he'd come across the traitor earlier this evening, he'd used the opportunity to fulfil that part of his mission. He should have come here first. Apprehension turned to fear as he considered the consequences of failure. He, better than anyone, knew how poorly failure was tolerated by The Council.
He realised he had been staring down the street for a while. He shook his head. He couldn't afford any more mistakes, he needed to focus. Looking around he was satisfied the street was deserted. Closing his eyes in concentration, he placed his hands on the wall beside him. For a moment a strange light lit up the street.
When the pain in his mind receded, he squared his shoulders and crossed the street with purposeful strides. As long as he completed his mission, there was no need to worry about what might have been. Certainly no need to report what were, after all only his suspicions, to The Council.
Liz looked up from her journal as she heard the sounds of someone climbing up the fire escape. Closing the journal and placing it under the lawn chair she turned expectantly towards the railing.
A smile spread across her face as Max appeared. She watched as he climbed over the railing and landed with a thump on the balcony and then turned to face her. Liz felt her smile freeze on her face, something wasn't right. She dropped her eyes from Max's face and felt her heart start to hammer in her chest as she noted his clothes. This wasn't Max.
Tess hung up the phone and smiled. They were coming. Her performance had been flawless - even if she did say so herself! The smile widened into a smirk as she thought about her conversation with Isabel. Even over the phone, she could feel Isabel's anxiety as she told her about her 'vision' from Nasedo. Not even a hint of hesitation on Isabel's part when Tess suggested the three of them come back to Michael's flat, rather than talking over the phone.
The more Tess thought about it, the more she was convinced this was the only way to effectively deal with the problem Max, Isabel and Michael presented to their plans. Even assuming she had been able to ingratiate herself with Max - there was only so long she could keep them busy chasing shadows before their suspicions would have been roused. The whole plan had been ill conceived from the start. And it would never have been attempted, had not certain Council members been infected by The Sage's religious mumbo jumbo. The thought of being a scapegoat angered her, but Tess knew she could turn things around. She would prove that she was more than capable of completing her mission.
Tess was aware of the regard many held for The Sage, so she was careful to keep her distain to herself. Privately, however, she was a sceptic. Genuine amusement flashed in her eyes as she remembered the expression on Nasedo's face as she told him the new Council approved plan for The Three. The fear had been absolutely naked. Funny, she'd never thought of him as the superstitious type. Definitely something to keep in mind for future reference.
Non-believer that she was, Tess had the sense to realise it would be foolish to disregard The Sage's pronouncement entirely. To her way of thinking though, having achieved a major part of their mission, with Nasedo successfully in place as Pierce in the Special Unit, The Three were no longer an asset anyway.
Indeed, now Max had chosen the human, they were a major threat. One that needed to be neutralised as quickly as possible. Desperate times called for desperate measures, and so regardless of the personal fears of some members, The Council understood they had no choice but to agree with her suggested course of action. The three would certainly be unable to fulfil The Sage's or anyone else's pronouncement if they were dead. Tess' smile become predatory as she thought about what she could accomplish once the religious hysteria that pervaded The Council was dispelled.
The sound of the Jeep pulling up outside the flat brought Tess back to reality. The smile slid from her lips, if not her eyes. Walking to the window, she saw The Three jumping out of the Jeep onto the pavement. She watched as a non-descript man ambled across the street and followed them at a discreet distance.
Tess turned away from the window, an assumed expression of panic settling over her face. Inside she felt her resolve steel. She would only have one opportunity and this time she was determined to succeed.
'Oh God, it's happening again.' Max thought as he bolted from Michael towards his room. Once inside, he leaned against the closed door and fought against the pain and grief that was threatening to overwhelm him.
Max felt his breath suck in as his gaze was drawn to the journal that lay open on his floor beside his bed. It was his connection to Liz - all he had left of her - but it had been a mistake to read it again, he knew that now. Staring at her neat hand writing caused a sharp pain in his heart. The tears came then as a black despair closed in on him. Max didn't know how he was still alive without his heart.his soul.
As Max continued to stare at Liz's journal, his bedroom faded until he was once again back on her balcony. He could smell the soft hint of vanilla her candles gave off as they flickered in the gentle breeze.feel the dewy freshness of the New Mexico night.hear the sounds of Isabel sobbing.see Liz as she lay slumped in her lawn chair. Max squeezed his eyes shut and clamped his hands over his ears as he tried to shut out the images his mind refused to dismiss. He didn't want to think about that night, didn't want to think about how he'd failed her. How he'd left Liz alone to die.
Max didn't want to remember, but his mind refused to co-operate. He dropped to the floor as images and sensations kept assaulting him.
* flash * He was back in her room, tickling her until she screamed for mercy. * flash * Moving inside her, watching the love and joy in her eyes as they exploded together. * flash * Racing to the Crashdown, the fear making his head pound. * flash * Holding her still warm body to him. * flash * Seeing her journal lying under her chair. * flash * Michael dragging him away * flash * Sitting in the back of the Jeep numb, clutching her journal to his chest
Stop. * flash * A silver handprint glowing on her chest. Please stop. * flash * The pale moonlight reflecting off her beautiful hair. * flash * God. * flash *...please * flash * ...just * flash *. make * flash .it * flash * .stop. * flash * * flash *
Max curled himself into a ball and screamed.
|Part 4 | Index | Part 6|
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