|"Ties that Bind"|
Disclaimer: I own nothing. . .but I wish I owned Max.|
Summary: A stranger with an incredible claim and a strange connection to Liz comes to Roswell in search of the Pod Squad. What will her message mean to the Royal Four--and to Max and Liz's future?
|Alex Whitman was less than a block away from the
Crashdown when SHE rolled into town. Later, even
after he had had time to think about that day and the
events that came after it, he always remembered her
most vividly as she was in those first
moments—flushed, fiery, not a little frustrated—and in
his mind her name was always spelled in bold capital
The car was the first thing he noticed. Few black Camaro convertibles came through Roswell, and even fewer roared past the Crashdown at 60+ miles per hour, kicking up a storm of dust and blaring Robert Palmer at decibels that even impressed Alex. He stopped walking to stare after the car, wondering where its owner was going in such a hurry. Shaking his head, he thought briefly about how it would feel to be behind the wheel of something like that. He was about to continue on his way when the car suddenly screeched to a stop, then began backing up at a speed that made Alex edge away from the street. By the time the driver slammed on the brakes again, this time double-parked directly in front of him, he was hugging the front window of Mancini’s Dry Cleaning and Tailoring.
“Hey, you!” Alex’s eyes nearly popped out of his head as the dust settled to reveal a young woman with fiery red hair sitting in the driver’s seat. As he watched, she opened the door and swung her long. . .lo—oong legs out of the car and stood, propping her hands on her hips and surveying him from behind dark sunglasses. She was dressed in dark red leather pants that hung low on her hips and a black halter top that was little more than a well-placed handkerchief fastened around her neck by a gold ring. She was tall, slender, and she moved with a careless grace that made Alex feel awkward even standing still. Wind-tossed red waves fell around her shoulders, and her creamy skin shone in the late-afternoon sun. Alex’s mouth went dry as he realized that she was addressing him.
“M-me?” he asked, glancing behind him uncertainly.
“Yes, you,” she assured him, walking purposefully toward him. “Are you a tourist or a local?”
She pulled off her sunglasses and quirked an eyebrow, regarding him with a frown. “Are you sure about that?”
“Yes!” Alex nodded vigorously. “I live here. . .in Roswell. Therefore, I am a—a. . .local.”
“Good.” She gave him a dazzling smile. “Then maybe you can help me.”
Some tiny impulse in Alex’s brain warned him that in Roswell, you didn’t go around offering your services to every. . .incredibly gorgeous. . .stranger that came through town—not if you valued your life, or those of your friends. But that was a tiny impulse, and the amount of teenage boy hormones roaring through his body was very large. “Uh, sure. What can I—”
“Have you seen this boy?” she demanded, pushing a photograph under his nose.
Alex blinked and looked down at the picture. Max. No—not Max. This guy had spiked hair and a pierced eyebrow. . .but without those things— Alex gulped in a deep breath and stepped back. “No. I—I don’t know him,” he said quickly, trying to keep his voice normal. It had to be the other Max, the one who had grown up in New York with Lonnie, Rath, and Ava. The one Lonnie and Rath had killed. What was his name? Alex couldn’t remember. He also couldn’t stop shaking. The woman had to be an enemy.
“Are you sure? You’re what—seventeen, eighteen? You probably go to high school together.” Casting a deprecating look up and down the street, she frowned. “There couldn’t be more than one high school in this town, could there?”
“Well, I don’t know him, so I’m going to—” Alex began, but she cut him off.
“Actually, you know what?” She flashed that smile again, exuding an almost palpable charm. “I’m not *exactly* looking for this guy. It’s someone who looks like him, only less. . .Apocalypse Now, you know?”
“I’ve. . .never—never seen that movie,” Alex stammered, “and I’ve never seen. . .anyone who looks like that guy. So, I’m going to just get going. . .okay?”
“Oh, yeah—sorry to keep you.” She reached into the back pocket of her pants and pulled out a slip of paper. “Well, if you do see him, could you give me a call?” Pressing the paper into his hand, she smiled again. “My name’s Marryn—and you can call me anytime.”
He nodded and quickly started to walk away, but halted mid-step when he heard her call after him. Looking back, he attempted a nonchalant smile. “Yeah?”
“You didn’t tell me your name,” she said, her voice a clear question, her smile inviting.
He swallowed hard. “Uh, it’s Alex—Alex Whitman.”
* * * * *
“You told her your name?! What were you thinking?” Maria whacked Alex’s shoulder—hard.
“Ow! Whose name did you want me to give her—yours?” he retorted. “Look, she just came flying up in that car, showing me pictures—asking about Max, and then throwin’ around all that hair, and those. . .” Catching Isabel’s glare from across the room, he lowered his voice and felt his ears grow warm. “. . .phone numbers.”
Max stopped pacing the small confines of the locker room at the Crashdown and sat down near Alex. “You’d better give me the phone number,” he said, holding out his hand.
Despite himself, Alex hesitated. “Uh, well, won’t she be suspicious if someone else calls her?” he asked, looking at the scrap of paper in his hand.
“I’m not going to call her,” Max said. “At least, not yet.”
“Give him the paper, Alex,” Maria ordered.
Alex twisted around to look at her. “Okay, he’s a king—and your innate bossiness comes from where?” Reluctantly, he surrendered the paper to Max, who nearly succeeded in hiding a smile at his question.
“She said her name was Marryn?” Max asked, writing it down. “And she was driving a black Camaro?”
“Yeah, a convertible.”
Max nodded, still writing. “Did you happen to see what state the license plate was from?”
“No,” Alex answered, slapping his forehead. “If I had a brain. . .”
“It’s okay,” Max assured him quickly.
“What did she look like?” Michael wanted to know. “Maybe I can go looking for her.”
“No.” Maria’s voice was firm. “If she knew Zan, she knew Rath, and that means she’ll recognize you.”
“Maria’s right.” For the first time, Liz spoke up. “You can’t look for her—none of you can. But Maria and I can ask around, maybe even talk to her.”
“No.” Max didn’t look at Liz, but the curtain that dropped over his face at her suggestion made it obvious who his reply was intended for. “It’s too dangerous—she could be a Skin, she could be anything. She probably knows exactly who the three of you are, just like she knows who we are.” He took a deep breath. “We’ll just have to go about this quietly. I’ll try to find her car, get the license plate. Maybe Sheriff Valenti can run it through the police computer, find out if she told Alex her real name.”
“Or maybe I could just talk to her,” Alex suggested timidly. “I mean, since she was the one who approached me and all, maybe I could just. . .get to know her. Find out where she’s from, why she’s looking for Max.”
“And then she can blow you to bits,” Isabel snapped. “Alex, she had a picture of Max—”
“That wasn’t me,” Max interrupted.
“Whatever,” Isabel said impatiently. “The point is, she’s dangerous, or she wouldn’t be here.”
“We don’t know that,” Tess interjected hesitantly. “Maybe she’s. . .you know. . .one of us.”
“Yeah, because so many good aliens have come to Roswell to visit,” Michael snorted. “Look, let us handle this.”
“Us?” From Maria’s tone, Michael knew he was in trouble. “Us?” she repeated. “Oh, you mean ‘us’ as in ‘we from another planet, who always know best and make decisions for the earthlings we dragged into our mess,’ is that correct?”
“You know that’s not what I meant,” Michael sighed automatically.
“Of course not,” Maria smiled sweetly. “It’s never what you mean.” With that, she spun on her heel and stormed out of the back room.
“Damn.” Michael jumped up and followed her, casting an apologetic look at the others as he left.
“I’ve got to start my shift, too,” Liz said, looking, as usual, at Max.
He didn’t look back. “Right. I guess. . .I guess that’s it, anyway. No one do anything yet. I’m going to go look for her car.” He stood, too, and started to follow Liz.
Alex looked at Isabel and smiled tentatively, but she only met his gaze solemnly. “Uh, I guess we should go, huh?”
“Yeah.” Stepping close to Alex, she put her hand on his arm. “Alex, promise me you won’t go looking for her. Max is right—she’s probably dangerous. Promise me?”
His heart contracted at the concern in her face. “I promise, Isabel,” he told her as they went through the door. “I won’t go looking for this—”
Max and the others stood just outside the door, silent and still. Just beyond the counter stood Marryn, a small, satisfied smile on her face.
“Zan,” she said calmly. “Rath, Ava, Vilandra. I’ve been looking for you.” Her eyes strayed to Alex and she raised an eyebrow. “Nice to see you again, Alex Whitman.”
|Index | Part 2|
|Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours|