Disclaimer: I'm just borrowing characters
from Melinda Metz and Roswell on WB because I'm so
lame that I can't do it on my own. It's all them.
Summary: Dark, dark alter-reality for M2tM; serious R rating, folks
|"I'm all out of faith,|
This is how I feel.
I'm cold and I am shamed,
Lying naked on the floor.
Illusion never changed,
Into something real.
I'm wide awake
And I can see the perfect sky is torn.
You're a little late,
And they waited silently.
Liz was sitting cuddled up beside Max on the couch, feeling as always that she would be okay if she could just stay in his arms long enough. But Max... she wasn't as sure about him. He had been through such hell.
Those images she had seen from his captivity... Liz had trouble breathing at the memory. It wasn't just the physical pain that had been agonizing. Max's trust in people had been stripped away, along with his belief that everything would be okay. And Nasedo's betrayal had just made that worse.
Liz shuddered, looking up quickly at Max's blank face. She reached up and tentatively slid her palm along his chin, feeling the welcome chafing of his unshaven face. Just to touch him again was bliss.
But the smile left her face as he continued to stare ahead.
"Max," Isabel's voice suddenly interupted her train of thought. "Someone's here."
Liz looked over to where Isabel had positioned herself at the window.
"It's Alex and Maria."
And Liz felt a rush of relief. They had made it before Tess and Michael. For some reason, that made all the difference in the world.
"Oh, and Michael and Tess, too."
At that, Max jumped up off the couch, taking only a moment to bend over and look Liz in the eyes.
"Everything will be fine, okay?"
She knew he was trying, but she couldn't make herself believe it. All she could do was nod. He kissed her on the forehead and then walked over to the door.
Isabel was already opening the door to let Alex and Maria in.
Liz saw the tense glances they gave each other, and tried to keep her heart from stopping completely. She had kept the truth from them as well. Had Isabel already told them everything?
As soon as Maria turned toward her, Liz could read it all in her face. Her beautiful blue eyes were completely devasated.
Liz stood slowly, feeling a rush of tears.
Alex's face was a study in blank anger and fierce grief. He struggled to keep control as he walked beside Maria.
When they reached her, all three joined hands, tearful brown eyes meeting two sets of troubled blue ones.
"I'm so sorry, Lizzy," Maria finally managed. "That was- that was your worst-"
And Liz couldn't let her finish. She threw her arms around her friend, feeling Maria's sobs against her chest as she continued her words.
"It was your worst nightmare, Liz. And I didn't even know."
Liz's heart broke again.
She looked up into Alex's face and felt a few more tears fall.
"I'm sorry, Liz... I... dammit," he choked on a sob, and rolled his eyes.
Liz closed her eyes as he came forward and pulled both of the girls into a hug.
"He's dead meat, Liz. He's kielbasa."
Somehow, the words made her feel better. She should have told them, but they understood. Relief swept through her.
Maria finally pulled back and wiped at her face.
"God, I'm sorry to soak you, Liz. But this whole thing just sucks!"
"I heartily concur," Alex agreed, pulling two hankerchiefs out of his back pocket. The girl smiled as he handed one to each. "One of the benefits of having lots of practice in the sobbing females department."
Liz threw herself into his arms and felt him take a shuddering breath.
"Oh... thank god you're okay, Liz. I mean... not okay... but, at least still here."
Liz turned to look at Maria, hearing her croak out a laugh.
"Yeah, you should be glad we're still here, too. Alex drove on the wrong side of the road half of the time just trying to get here," the blue eyes twinkled again and Liz smiled.
The whispered voices in the hallway got louder, and they turned to watch the four aliens with concern. Max was heatedly lecturing Tess on something. Alex looked back at the girls with one eyebrow cocked.
"Well, look who's here. I guess it's time to play 'Guess the alien's motives' again."
Liz tried to smile, but failed miserably.
Maria sat down on the couch with a sigh.
The four in the hallway seemed tense. Max's face was livid. Liz felt her knees weaken and she sat down beside Maria, who reached an arm around her. They sat with their heads close together for a moment.
"I got you, babe," Maria whispered. "No matter what."
Footsteps pulled their attention to the hallway, where the four were now making their way into the room. Liz felt her face grow hot as she took in the sympathetic, strained and uncomfortable looks on Michael and Isabel's faces.
Max walked in slowly behind them, giving her a quick smile despite his stormy eyes.
Tess, as if her presence there wasn't bad enough in and of itself, was glaring at Liz without compunction. Anger burned in Liz's gut and she found herself hoping that Tess would at least keep her mouth shut.
"I just don't see why you're trying to blame this on Nasedo," Tess said in a tight voice, focusing her attention on the other aliens. "He would never do that to anyone. Never."
Liz clamped her mouth shut, fighting for composure.
"Tess, Liz isn't lying," Max growled.
"But how do you know that for sure," Tess blinked several times and crossed over to Max. "I mean, this is the perfect way to turn you all against us. She's just using your feelings for her. Can't you see that, Max?"
Exclamations were heard from all corners of the room.
Liz was dumbfounded... and hurt beyond belief.
Maria jumped to her feet.
"F*** you, Tess! The only reason you think Liz would manipulate us is because that's something that you would do!"
Liz's mouth fell open and she heard Alex whistling and cheering quietly beside her.
Max's voice was deadly as he stood in the doorway, "I saw what Nasedo did when I healed her. He got her alone pretending to be me. And then he did it again when she was in the shower, completely helpless... still wearing my face."
A low sob erupted from Liz and she put her head in her hands.
Why don't we just describe it all for everyone in detail?
Then warm arms were around her as Maria sat down quickly, quietly whispering curses on shapeshifters and aliens with curly blond hair everywhere.
"I don't believe it," Tess was still going, tears choking her voice. "First you all say that you think Nasedo's dead, for which not one of you was sorry, even though he saved Max's life. And now you're saying that he's some sort of sick-o who likes to torment humans?"
Liz looked up in surprise at the pain in her voice. How could she care about him?
"For god's sake, Tess," muttered Michael. "Shut up!"
Max's face showed the beginnings of compassion, so typical of him. Liz looked back over to Tess where she stood trembling, her blue eyes wide open.
"No," she shook her head with conviction, her voice rising in pitch. "I've lived with him my whole life and I know him better than anyone."
"That may be true," Liz finally spoke in a low, determined voice. "But if you don't believe he raped me, then you don't know him very well at all."
Tess met her eyes for a moment, then her face crumpled and she ran out of the room.
Max was the first to speak.
"This is hard for her to deal with, too."
Liz just stared at him in disbelief. He was taking her side.
"No," he said firmly. "I'm not taking her side. But Nasedo was the closest thing she's had to family. Give her some time."
Liz nodded slowly, mostly pacified.
There was complete silence for a moment.
Then the front door opened and everyone turned to watch as Kyle walked in.
"I got it," Kyle said with a grin as he threw the pizzas down on the coffee table and sat down to face Liz on the couch. "Tess is one, too, isn't she?"
Liz looked at him in amazement, trying to ignore the gasp from Maria.
"That's what you were trying to warn me about that day at the Crashdown. See, I had no idea you actually meant it. I thought you were just being a b****. But you were trying to warn me that she was an alien, right?"
Liz didnąt know what to say.
Maria leapt to her feet, looking back and forth from Max and Isabel to Liz and Kyle as though someone had lost their mind.
"He knows, Maria," Liz admitted quietly.
Kyle just grinned up at her, "I know, Maria."
Maria recovered quickly, but her eyes flickered over to Michael.
Liz also watched Michael walk over to Kyle, feeling apprehension grip her. Had Max already told Michael and Tess about Kyle? Her eyes slid over to Max, where he stood watching. He wasnąt stopping Michael, so he must have told him, right?
Kyle finally felt Michael's presence and looked over his shoulder.
"Guerin... let me guess, alien number 4? 'Cause I've already figured out that Isabel is number three. Am I batting a thousand here or what," he continued on in a smug voice, standing and walking in Max's direction.
But Michael grabbed the back of his flannel shirt, swinging Kyle back around to face him. He leaned over and pierced him with a deadly gaze.
"You tell anyone, and you're dead. Got it?"
Kyle's eyes got wide and Liz actually felt a little sorry for him, remembering how much Michael intimidated her when she first found out the secret.
"Yeah, got it," Kyle nodded to himself, his face suddenly brightening. "Man, no wonder you're flunking school."
Michael stared at him in amazement.
"No, really," Kyle continued. "I mean, who cares about Algebra when math is probably completely different on your planet."
"Kyle, grow a brain sometime, would you," Liz could hear the smile in Alex's voice as he leaned over the couch.
Liz smiled, too. How had she ever thought that Kyle was out to get them?
"Pizza's on the house," Kyle grinned. "Or rather, on the coffee table. Eat up and spill it- the whole story."
"I'll get some drinks for you folks," the Sheriff called out.
Liz turned in surprise, having completely forgotten that he was in the room.
A gentle hand took hers and pulled her to her feet. She stood to find herself wrapped in Max's warm embrace. After another moment of automatic gut-wrenching fear, Liz relaxed against him.
"See," Max whispered, "It's going to be fine. One step at a time."
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