FanFic - Michael/Maria
"Persephone's Footfalls"
Part 1
by Elizabeth
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters.
Summary: M&M, Maria POV, *VERY* Alt. Universe.
Category: Michael/Maria
Rating: PG-13
Authors Note: This is an answer to Jennifer's challenge (on the Roswell Smut list) which asked for an M&M story using a Greek myth as the basis. I rarely do challenges, as I have a hard time tailoring my warped mind to fit the usual challenge criteria, but this fic is indeed based, in part, on the myth of Hades and Persephone. So thank you Jennifer for inspiring me. :-) If you aren't familiar with the myth, you can get a very quick overview of it at:
I heard the footfall of the flower spring...--Sappho.


Apparently Roswell was once a pretty nice town. I wouldn't know about that, because it was nice way before my time. Grandpa Valenti--he's not really my grandfather, not by blood anyway, but he's the closest thing I've got to one and besides, I like him--sometimes talks about what Roswell was like in the 1930s. He talks about a town without a curfew, without a patrol guard, without a government base, without aliens, and I listen politely. I suppose he could be telling the truth, but I can't imagine the world he talks about.

Grandpa was around my age when the aliens landed in 1947. He doesn't like to talk about the day they came here much, but once, after he'd taken too much of his pain medicine, he mentioned it. "We all ran out to see what happened, just about everyone in town. I can still remember how we all stood there, staring at the ship. And then the first alien came out--and they looked just like us! We were all so excited..." His voice trailed off, and I wasn't sure what he said next, but I thought it was "Idiots! That's what we were. Idiots."

Jim, my stepfather, wasn't even alive when the aliens landed. He was born here in Roswell, though--Grandpa refused to leave, even when the fighting was at its worst--and Jim considers Roswell home. Most people don't--Roswell is just a way-station, a step on the ladder to a big promotion, or a place where you come when you have nowhere else to go.

Mom and I came to Roswell when I was a baby. My mom was married to an alien hunter-or at least, that's what he said he was. He was mostly a bum, and he ran off after his first encounter with an alien on the streets of Roswell. Mom stayed, because she had no family, no money, and nowhere else to go. She ended up working on a diplomatic team, and that's how she met Jim. He was always insisting that even diplomatic teams needed weapons training, and my mom was the only person who didn't like the idea. Jim always says, "It was love at first sight for me and your mom," which is pretty much Jim's best joke. Sad, I know.

Mom married Jim when I was ten. Jim was pretty cool about it, even asked me if I was ok with it and stuff --not like I had a lot of choice or anything--but I was ok with it. Not because I wanted a father, and certainly not because I wanted a brother (if I did, Kyle is so *not* the brother I'd choose)--but because everyone knows that the aliens respect very few humans and they fear even fewer. But they fear Jim Valenti, and because of that, I'm safe here in Roswell. Sure, I still take all the precautions--everyone does, and I'm not stupid--but I know that I'm as safe here as anyone can be. And that even makes living with Kyle bearable.


Everyone in Roswell is supposed to work. Free time isn't discouraged so much as it is feared. A couple of years ago, two high school kids who'd somehow managed to get out of their job requirements got killed when they wandered into the wrong part of the desert. Jim worked really, really hard to keep things peaceful during that time--everyone was sure that the aliens had killed the kids, and tempers were high, but Jim managed to calm everyone down. It didn't hurt that he had proof that the kids had died of exposure.

Anyway, everyone works. Adults work full-time, and anyone under the age of eighteen has to either volunteer to work at the base or get a job to fill the hours from three (when school gets out) till the eight p.m. curfew, when everyone is supposed to be home. I got really lucky in my job assignment. I got the Crashdown café, which averages maybe four customers a year. Liz works there too, and since she and I are best friends, I think Jim might have had a hand in where I ended up working. I usually don't like his interference (especially when it involves my grades), but in this case it was pretty cool.

Liz and her parents came to Roswell three years ago. Her dad is some sort of scientist, but the base gave him the café to run as a sort of "cover." As if the aliens don't know what everyone in town does. But that's how it is in Roswell. Everyone has a "cover." Jim is officially the town sheriff, which is a joke because the town of Roswell pretty much ceased to exist in 1947. What Jim really does is head up the security teams for the area. Roswell is a neutral zone--an area where humans and aliens are supposed to be able to meet and talk freely, to "coexist" as the government likes to put it. Mostly the aliens stay in the desert and make threats once in a while, and we stay here and make threats once in a while. So basically, Jim has a really shitty job. But he seems to like it, so who am I to judge?

Besides, Liz has just told me that she's started dating someone I know. And I'm pretty surprised by who it is.

"Alex? You mean the Alex that is sitting right over there?" I point at the booth where Alex is sitting and wait for Liz's denial. God knows, I love Alex--he's been one of my best friends for years, but this latest development has thrown me for a loop.

"Yes, that Alex. What's not to understand?"

He's balancing a spoon on his nose--how's that for starters? "I don't know, Liz. Are you sure you want to date him? He's Alex, you know."

"He's kind."

"What does that mean?"

"You know," Liz says. "He's nice. We've been friends since I moved here, and it's easy with him. Comfortable. We don't all live with Jim Valenti, Maria. We don't all feel safe all the time."

"Liz...." How can I make her understand? Especially since she's right. There is safety in living with Jim. He heads up the territory (unofficially); he's in charge of keeping everyone safe (officially). He's the person that everyone depends on, and he's my stepfather. "It's not that I'm opposed to the idea of you and Alex, it's just that I don't understand it."

"Well guess what, Maria? I'm not asking you to. Life in Roswell is never certain, not for any of us. I just want to be happy. I just want to feel safe."

I put down the coffeepot I was pretending to dust and turn to her. "You'll be done with school soon. You know you'll get to go to college. You'll be able to leave, Liz. Don't worry."

She gives me a hesitant smile. "Who's worried?"

I laugh and throw my dishtowel at her. She ducks and we continue cleaning the mostly deserted café. People don't socialize much in Roswell, but the government pays to keep the café open--partially because it's what Liz's dad is supposed to do, and partially because the Crashdown is supposed to be a sort of restaurant for people who are unlucky enough to get stationed here.

Liz lived on the east coast before she came out here, and I think Roswell was a shock for her. The aliens aren't much interested in expanding past the Mississippi, for whatever reasons (it's not like they would deign to share their reasons with us, you know), so there are some people out there who've never seen an alien. Not that you'd recognize one of them if you walked down the street--they do look normal--but when they come to town, they usually stand out by virtue of the fact that they don't look nervous. Plus Roswell is small, like I said, and I pretty much know everyone on sight.

Like Alex. Alex is like me--a real Roswellian. He's supposed to be the Crashdown's cook for the afternoon shift, but he spends most of his time writing songs and working on things for his band. His dad was one of the first people out here when the government opened the territory back up to settlers in the 1980s. His father is a scientist of some sort too (there are a lot of scientists in Roswell), and he works on finding ways to grow lots of food in limited space. It's in case...well, you know. In case more aliens come and we have to leave. For all the big talk about fighting aliens and coexisting with aliens--they basically can kick our asses any time they want. We're just lucky that they are pretty happy with everything they have now. Plus, from what Jim's managed to learn, it seems pretty clear that Earth is sort of a loser planet to them-- the place where you go if you can't go anywhere else, or a place you get sent to. Kyle finds that really offensive--but Kyle gets offended so easily. I figure that for the aliens, Earth is sort of like Roswell is to most people. Interesting to read about, maybe cool for a visit--but once you get home you think, "That place was pretty awful."

Anyway, Alex and I have been friends for years. We've gone to school together, gone through the dumb-ass army training together (six weeks in the desert--never saw an alien, and never learned how to do anything. Except make signal fires, and as Alex pointed out, "What good is a signal fire if you don't know how to keep yourself alive? You'd be dead by the time anyone found you.") I could never date Alex because I know him so well, but I guess I can see why Liz would be interested. Maybe. If I closed my eyes and pretended that Alex wasn't the same boy who threw up after eating too much cake at Mom and Jim's wedding.

Liz goes and gets a soda out of the case and goes over to talk to Alex. I go back to pretending to clean the counters and watching dust roll down the street.


I can tell that Kyle is in a bad mood way before he gets to the café. For one thing, you aren't supposed to be walking around in town, alone, during the day. For another thing, Kyle is supposed to work at the base every day after school. Jim wants Kyle to learn everything, so Kyle gets rotated around the base, "doing all the crappy stuff that no one else wants to do" as Kyle says; "learning responsibility" is what Jim says.

I go and open the café door when I see him walking down the street, gesture for him to hurry up. He gives me the finger and I laugh and go back inside. When Mom and I first started living with Jim, I was terrified of Kyle--all he did was holler and pick fights, and tell me to go fuck myself when I tried to talk to him. After a while though, I stopped getting upset by all the things he did and now we get along ok.

The café door opens and Kyle comes in. His face is red, but I'm not sure if it's from the weather or anger. It's been cold in Roswell this winter--colder than usual. "Hey 'Ria."

I used to hate it when he called me 'Ria, but I don't mind it now. "Hey Kyle. What's up?"

He looks around the café. "Anyone here?"

We both laugh at every Roswellian's favorite joke and he asks me for a soda. I point to the case and he goes and gets one and sits down at the counter. I notice that his hands are shaking. "You ok?"

He shakes his head at me and starts drinking his soda. I shrug and go back to pretending to work. A glance at the clock shows me that it's only six, and that I have two more hours here.

I look over at Kyle, who is watching Alex and Liz. Kyle likes Liz; he's liked her ever since she came to town--but she isn't interested in him. That might be surprising--Liz likes safety, she worries about life her in Roswell so much--why wouldn't she be interested in Jim Valenti's son?

Because she knows Kyle. Roswell is a small town--there aren't that many kids, and to top it all off, Kyle and I have been "siblings" for as long as Liz has known us, and she knows all my Kyle stories. She knows how he leaves the toilet seat up, how he can't ever seem to remember that a black T-shirt shouldn't be thrown in with a load of light-colored clothes, how he picks his nose when he thinks no one is looking.

And she knows that Kyle is nothing like Jim. Jim is levelheaded and cautious. Kyle isn't. He hates the aliens more than anyone I've ever met, and nothing Jim says or does will change his mind.

Kyle's hatred for aliens is understandable though. Mom doesn't even try to talk him out of it anymore, though she tried pretty hard when she and Jim were first married. Kyle's mom was killed by aliens when he was really little. It was back when the government had just opened the territory up again, and the aliens were nervous about all the people coming in. Well, not really nervous--they just wanted to make sure that everyone remembered that they had a say in things too. So when a couple of settlers tried to move onto part of the dessert that the aliens had claimed, the aliens just went in and "rearranged" them.

That's the scary thing about the aliens. They can mess with molecular structure, and they took those settlers and literally turned them inside out. Anyway, one of the settlers that was killed was Kyle's mother's brother, and she'd been out visiting him that day, and she was killed too. Jim found a way to make peace with it, but Kyle hasn't, and if he had his way, we'd all spend our time thinking of ways to get rid of the aliens instead of trying to coexist withthem.

Kyle puts his soda down on the counter and looks up at me. His hands aren't shaking so badly anymore, but I can still see his fingertips twitching. "What?" he says, and I would swear that he's blushing except I've never seen Kyle blush and we are talking about the boy who thinks mooning is an art form.

"Are you ok?"

He exhales nosily, and looks around the café. I want to scream 'It's just you, me, Liz, and Alex, just like it was five minutes ago' but I don't, I just wait. Whatever he's getting ready to say must be big.

"They captured one of them."

"What?" Alex and Liz, who'd been talking, their heads bent over a book (both of them are so smart that it's disgusting), look up and speak at the same time.

"They caught an alien. Yesterday. I just found out about it."

That explains the hands, then. Kyle's mad. Jim didn't tell him, and Kyle probably found out from one of the guys on the base.

Alex whistles, a low sound of surprise and I watch as he reaches out for Liz's hand. I look at their fingers, entwined, for a moment, and then I turn back to Kyle. For them to capture an alien...that's a big deal. Jim doesn't allow that kind of stuff often--he believe in second chances, and third chances, and seventy-fifth chances. "What happened?"

Kyle looks at me. "Someone tried to kill Dad yesterday."

I grab for the counter top without even realizing it. "What?"

Alex makes a soft noise, and I hear Liz moving towards me, feel her hand under my elbow. "Sit down" she says, and I watch her go over and get a soda out of the case. "What?" I say again.

Kyle laughs. "Yeah. Isn't that great? Someone tried to kill him, they caught the thing that tried it, and he didn't mention it to me or to you, or to Amy. God!"

"Are you sure?" Liz. Sensible, rational Liz. She hands me the soda and looks over at Alex.

Alex nods. "Yeah, Kyle. Liz is right. Are you sure?"

Kyle nods. "When I was at the base this afternoon, I heard one of the guys talking about it. Dad didn't even let them keep it on base--he insisted that they put it in the old jail. So the other aliens wouldn't worry. Who gives a shit if the aliens are worried?" His voice has risen sharply during the last part, and I feel my fingers pressing into the counter. I notice that I've knocked over the soda. I should clean it up, but I don't seem to be capable of moving right now.

"Still," Liz says, "it just could be a rumor, or something like that. There hasn't been any trouble in so long--and the aliens wouldn't go after Mr. Valenti....they just wouldn't." Alex nods and I finally see that they are perfect for each other. Mr. and Mrs. Rational.

Kyle laughs. "No, it's for real."

"How do you know?" My voice sounds higher than is usually does, but I'm scared. Everyone who was in town during the 1980s remembers all the trouble--even Alex. I can see that, even though he's trying to be the voice of reason, he's worried too. And poor Liz is just trying to calm us all down and she's probably more worried than I am; at least I've been through this sort of thing before...

"I talked to her, it. The thing that tried to kill Dad. I went to see her--she was in the old jail. Just like the guy said. She--it--said that it's all a mistake, but I know she's lying."

Oh God. I remember how, back in those bad times, Mom and I spent day after day in the basement, waiting for all the fighting to stop. I can't even begin to imagine what would happen if Jim died. For all the government tried to do, it's been Jim who has kept the territory peaceful. He's the only person who the aliens are willing to make deals with, and now...

"We should go see it." Liz's voice is quiet, but firm, and we all turn to stare at her in shock. She looks back at us steadily. "If it really is a threat--if we all think the alien is lying--then we can do something. We can get people to listen if we have proof, if all of us speak up."

I watch as Kyle looks down at the counter. Liz is too kind to say it, but what she means is that no one will believe Kyle if he tries to say anything, because Kyle already has a reputation as a troublemaker. I almost feel sorry for him, but I'm too busy worrying about myself.

"Fine" he says after a moment, and I notice that he doesn't sound upset or angry by what Liz has implied, he just sounds resigned. I look over at Alex, who gives me an almost imperceptible shrug, which is Alex-speak for 'I have no idea what's going on. You're the one who lives with Kyle."

I sigh and go get my coat. When I get back, Liz has cleaned up my soda and I give her a quick smile. She is a good friend.

"Hurry up, let's go" Kyle says and I look over at Alex, who rolls his eyes at me and walks outside. After a moment, Liz and I follow.

If the four of us walk to the jail, we'll be safe. As safe as we can be, anyway. And if someone or something is trying to kill Jim, that's bad news. Not just for me, but for everyone. So even though I'd rather stay here in the quiet Crashdown, drinking soda and watching Alex and Liz be happy, I'm going to go see an alien.


The jail isn't too far from the café, thank goodness. But of course, not much is left of the original town. The police station, which is mostly unused--the government stores food in it, the library--which is now housing for unmarried soldiers who are unlucky enough to get stationed here, and the school-- which is still used as a school. The rest of the town is made up of houses and the base.

Roswell had an Air Force base here in the 1940s, but after the aliens landed and proceeded to take over the state of New Mexico (and several other states as well) the base was pretty much destroyed. Then once Jim and other humans who'd stayed after the government left brokered a peace of sorts, the government came back and built a huge base in Roswell. Jim says that the base amuses the aliens, and I suppose it does. But it makes all of us feel safe, so I'm glad it's here.

It is cold out--so cold that I wish I'd brought my mittens with me, but I left them at home this morning, thinking that there was no way I was going to need them. My poor fingers are all red and numb. At least the streetlights are on, so we don't have to walk in the dark. Last year, the streetlights didn't work for three weeks because of some electrical problem and it was so dark at night that it was actually kind of scary.

I look over at Liz, who is wearing sensible gloves and holding Alex's hand. Kyle doesn't have gloves on, but he never wears gloves and he's so hyper right now that it's hard to look at him. He keeps telling us to walk faster, and we keep ignoring him, but he's got that glint in his eye, and I hope, fervently (and probably hopelessly) that his alien story is false, that the alien just came into town to raise a little hell and that's it.

We get to the jail and go inside. It's dark, and everything is made of wood, which looks strange, because most everything around here is made of metal or plastic. Kyle heads directly for the "jail" which isn't really a jail so much as a series of rooms that have doors with key locks that the aliens can't melt or unfasten. Jim prodded the government till they sent scientists out her who could make stuff like that. That's how Jim is. Practical. So practical that it can be pretty irritating.

Liz and Alex are having a whispered conversation as they walk down the hallway and I ignore them and wander back behind the counter. In the 1930s, you could walk in here, report a problem, and have it taken care of. I wonder what it was like, to live in a world without aliens. Did people know how lucky they were?

Of course not. They probably all thought they had it bad, were scared of some crisis. There's always a crisis, isn't there? I run my hand along the desk, which is really dusty, and wonder about all the people that once sat back here.

"Hey! You aren't supposed to be here!"

I look up, startled. There's a blond guy standing in the doorway. He's about my age, maybe a little older. He looks normal; cute even, but I don't know him. A lifetime of caution and training and fear make me start to move towards the door, make me check to see if anyone else is around. "I don't know you."

He rolls his eyes at me. "Yeah. I don't know you either. I just got here today, stationed in this wasteland, and the first thing I was told was to come over to the jail and take a look at some alien. Where's the jail at?"

I laugh. He sounds so aggravated and pissed off that he's got to be new. Some of these poor military guys think they are signing up for some big adventure when they come to Roswell, and mostly all they get is a lot of training and sitting around.

He looks offended when I laugh and I shake my head. "I'm sorry. It's just...anyway, I know it's hard to be new here and stuff. You're in the jail. The cells are down at the end of the other hallway."

He starts to leave the room. I look after him for a second and then realize that something's wrong. "Wait!"

He stops and turns back towards me and for a moment, something I see in his eyes makes me feel nervous. But he looks harmless when I look again, maybe even a little scared. "Hey, you can't just go wandering in to see an alien."

"What do you mean?" His hands are clenched into fists at his side.

Oh God, the poor thing. He won't last five minutes. I walk over to him and grab his hand, try to force his fist to unclench. "You've got to relax. You can't go in there all tense. They can sense stuff like that, and believe me, they already have all the advantages. It's not a big deal, you know. Chances are, this is nothing. They're not all that bad."

His hand flips over and grabs mine. "You really think so?" he says and there's a rush of something--I don't know how to describe it, except that it's like the time I fell down the stairs when I was six. When I landed at the bottom, I couldn't breathe. I just sort of lay there, and everything felt suspended. At the time, I swore I could feel my heart start to beat again, could feel my whole body come back to itself.

It's like that, only worse, and I get a quick flash of desert and sky and I pull my hand away, fast, because this is what they always warned me about in school and I'm not with a human, and I've made the stupidest mistake of all, the kind of mistake that I thought only someone like Kyle would make, and I've just been talking to an alien...

I open my mouth to scream, but all the comes out is a little shriek and his hand is still holding mine and I can tell that he is listening, listening to Kyle and Alex and Liz who are down looking at the alien, and he is thinking that the plan worked, and that humans are even dumber than he thought, and that he is surprised because I am better looking than he thought humans usually were.

I pull, as hard as I can, and my hand moves away from his. Nothing is coming out of my mouth, but I turn to run and go get Kyle and Liz and Alex, because we have got to get out of here, now. His hand wraps around my arm, and he says something, but I can't hear it over all the panic that I'm feeling, all the memories of sitting, just sitting in the basement and hearing all those screams...

My hand closes over something and I turn, swinging it in a wide arc. It's some sort of plaque type thing, I can't read the name on it, but it hits his face, and he lets go of my arm and I run out into the hallway and head for the others. I can hear myself screaming, and I hope I'm not too late.


When I get to the cells, the situation is equally as bad, and it's no wonder that no one heard me screaming. Kyle and the alien--another blond one, but a girl--are literally snarling at each other through the tiny barred window in the door, and I can see Liz and Alex are both trying to restrain Kyle, who is trying to unlock the door to the room the girl is in and is swearing furiously about how all aliens do is kill and he'll take care of them even if his father won't.

I'm trying to get them to hear me, and I can hear myself hollering, but the girl--who is also about our age--is so angry and so loud that I know no one hears me. The girl and Kyle are facing each other and as I watch, Kyle shakes Liz off and shoves Alex away, lunges forward, shoves his hand through the bar over the tiny window on the door and grabs the girl.

I can almost hear everyone gasp. You don't ever, ever, ever touch an alien. They can sense things, but it's harder for them if they aren't touching you, a lot harder, and they have to touch you before they can hurt you. It was bad enough that I touched one by accident, but Kyle is so angry that he's being even stupider than usual.

I run over to him, intending to pull him away, but instead I just stand there, frozen. Kyle and the girl have stopped hollering and they are just staring at each other. The girl is shaking, and I can't tell if it's from fear or anger and I think, suddenly, of how Kyle's hands were shaking earlier.

I can hear voices coming down the hallway and that's enough to get me moving again. I grab Kyle's arm. "Kyle! It's a setup of some kind! They wanted you to come here!"

I can hear Liz and Alex both let out a gasp, and Kyle turns to face me. His eyes look glazed over, and I wonder briefly about what he is doing. I look over the alien girl, who has stepped back from Kyle with a horrified look on her face. Then I lift my foot up and bring it down on top of Kyle's as hard as I can.

He looks down at his foot, and then up at me. He starts to swear, but I cut him off with "It's a trap, you dumbass! We've got to get out of here. They're coming for her" I gesture at the girl, then look back over at Liz and Alex, see that they have already started to head for the door.

"Wait, how did you know that?" Kyle sounds confused and I open my mouth to tell him that we can talk later, but we have to get out of here, now--but I see Liz and Alex move away from the door that leads into the hallway, and it's almost as if they are moving in slow motion; it's like everything has stopped and I'm six years old again, lying on the floor, and nothing inside me is working.

The blond alien--the one I saw not three minutes ago--is in the doorway. "It worked Isabel," he says, directing his comments at the girl who is still standing where she was before, staring at Kyle. "I told you it would."

Then everything pitches forward into regular speed again, and I hear Kyle turn and holler something at the girl, Isabel. "You set this up?" and Alex is screaming "The window at the end of the hall! Liz, Maria, Kyle.... HURRY!"

Then everything starts to blur. I hear voices, I see people--aliens--the blond one and another one, with dark hair--coming into the room. I hear Liz, sobbing as she tries to get the window open--I hear the sound of flesh hitting flesh as Kyle launches himself at the blond alien I hit earlier, and I see Alex, blood dripping from his hand as he smashes it into the window.

The girl, Isabel, is gesturing frantically at the dark-haired alien, who is moving towards Liz and Alex. He turns away from them and walks towards her. That, finally, gets me moving. I have to get out of here. Now.

But then I hear Kyle scream. Oh God, Kyle! I can see him, over in the corner, fighting the blond alien off furiously, his face a mask of rage. I look over at Liz, who is climbing out of the window with Alex and I start towards them. I want to be safe, oh yes I do.

But I can't leave Kyle. I can't leave my brother.

I didn't realize what I'd thought till I'd gone over, balled my fists together, and swung them at the blond alien's head. I'd already hit him once, what would it take to get this guy to stay down? Then I realized what I'd thought. 'Brother.' I'd thought of Kyle as my brother.

My joined hands connect with a resounding, satisfying smacking noise, and I watch as the blond alien staggers back. I feel like I've broken all of my fingers. "Come on Kyle!" I scream, grabbing him and pushing him towards the window. I can see the other blond alien, Isabel, rushing towards us and I run as fast as I can, half-dragging Kyle with me.

We get to the window and he turns to me. "You first," he says, in his 'I'm Kyle Valenti, and you're just my stepsister' voice, but I'm in no mood to disagree. I start to climb outside--I'm going to run screaming into the night, I want to get away from this nightmare I've stumbled into. How does Jim manage to deal with this--these aliens--on a regular basis? I'll have to be more understanding when he comes home all crabby.

I can see the window ledge and I reach for it. But then something cold and wet slides across my arm and I turn back. Kyle's back is to me, and his neck has a huge gash across it. I can see blood, a steady brownish-red stream of it, leaking out across his back and down over my arm.

"Kyle!" I grab his arm, squeeze it till he turns and looks at me. "You're hurt, you've got to go first!"

He shakes his head and I can tell he is going to argue. "No!" I tell him. "Go."

He smiles at me, just briefly. "There's no arguing with you, is there? You're as bad as your mother."

I shake my head, and he moves towards the window, starts to climb out. I can hear myself chanting "Hurry, hurry" and then he's out the window and reaching back inside, I can see his hand reaching down towards mine, hear him say "No Alex! Go! I've got to wait for my sister!"

And stupid, stupid me pauses when I hear that. Sister. And then there is a voice in my ear, harsh and angry. "One Valenti is as good as another." I turn and there is the blond alien--the one I saw earlier, who grabbed me in the office, the one I was stupid enough to talk to, the one I just hit -- right behind me. I open my mouth to scream, I reach for Kyle's hand, I am going to get out of here, this is a bad dream, I'm going to wake up soon...

And then there is blackness.

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