FanFic - Other
Part 58
by Kath7
Disclaimer: I own nothing but the story. The characters and concept belong to Jason Katims and Melinda Metz. Tarsus of Dernia and all Illyrian characters belong to me. Lyrics by Sarah McLachlan, Phil Collins, Amanda Marshall, Garth Brooks, Frozen Ghost.
Summary: Sequel to "Out of the Woods." I highly recommend reading it before trying this one. It is archived at the Crashdown. Basically, Max is gone, and the others have no idea whether they will ever see him again.
Category: Other
Rating: PG-13
Tess tried to ignore the scowl on Kyleís face as he stared down at her. She had promised herself that she was going to say what she had to say to him and that was final. If he turned away from her after that she would leave him alone forever. But she couldnít go on being a coward, avoiding the confrontation that HAD to happen between them.

She had almost convinced herself that she could avoid it. She had told the others many times that she wasnít coming to the Prom, that she wouldnít go and see Kyle with another girl. She had even told Liz and Isabel that she was looking forward to a night at home, that she just wanted to watch T.V. and paint her toe-nails. She had been able to tell that they hadnít believed her, but that they had decided to let it go. It was clear to both of her friends that there was no convincing her.

Of course, Michael had not given up as easily.

While Tess was pleased that he had accepted her offer to move into the empty Harding house with her after the forging of their bond on D-Day, it was slightly irritating to have a brother constantly watching over her. The closer they became, the more protective HE became, and although he technically wasnít older than her in THIS life-time, he still had an annoying tendency to act like the older sibling.

She had been sure that she had finally bullied him into submissively leaving her alone for the night when he had come down the stairs in his tuxedo. She had frowned at him, annoyed to see a silky gold dress draped over his arm.

"What is that?" She demanded.

"Maria bought it. She said it would fit you. Put it on." He ordered her. "Iím not letting you sit at home alone the night of your prom. Iím not going to have any fun thinking about you sitting here pouting and if I donít have fun, Maria wonít have fun, and Maria WILL be having fun tonight. Valentiís an idiot and doesnít deserve you."

"Donít say that about him!" Tess had said, anger instantly flaring. "Heís had a lot to deal with!"

Michael just raised an eyebrow at her. "Yeah. Gee. We should be REALLY sorry that weíre aliens, that Max saved his life, that you love him. Excuse me if I donít feel his pain."


"Get dressed Tess. Iíll be back to pick you up in an hour."

"I donít have a date! Iím not going without a date!" Tess had pleaded desperately.

"Youíll find a date." Michael had replied dismissively. "Maxwell is waiting for me. Weíll be back in an hour."

And he had left, slamming the door behind him. Tess had clenched her fists, screeched in frustration.

But she had gotten dressed. She had known that Michael would just drag her to the dance in her pyjamas if she didnít.

When she had finished doing her hair and her make-up, she had stared at herself in the mirror for a long time.

She was a coward. She knew it, knew it was the real reason that she hadnít wanted to go to the prom. She had let Kyle run away from her in the transformation chamber, hadnít tried to sort out the problem. She had wanted Liz to fix everything for her, had given up when it hadnít worked. She had decided to MAKE Kyle come to her. She had known what she was doing to him, staring at him, making sure that she turned up everywhere he was bound to be.

She had been torturing him, daring him NOT to be with her.

And it was all because SHE was the coward, was scared he would reject her again. But she couldnít go on like this. She loved him. And if he was going to reject her AGAIN, well this time it would be on her terms. He would have to do it with the proof of her love for him staring him directly in the face. She wouldnít let him hide behind his jealousy of Max Evans.

This had nothing to do with Max. It had everything to do with Kyle Valenti and Tess Harding and the fact that they were both scared to death of what it would mean if they actually let this go somewhere. There would be no more excuses. THEY would be responsible if things got screwed up, they would be responsible for making their own happiness.

And so she had been waiting when Michael and Maria had come to pick her up.

She had almost lost her nerve when they had arrived at the school. It was going to be hard to walk into that gym all alone. They had been running late as it was, having fallen behind Max, Liz, Isabel and Alex in the Jeep. Maria had been hauling Michael by the arm, trying to catch up. Everyone was going to be in there, watching the door, watching her come in aloneÖ

Tess had felt her heart speed up nervously. She had paused on the front steps to calm herself. She had sat down, careful not to muss her dress, had stared up at the stars for several long minutes. The "V" constellation, the one that sheltered their home world, had winked down at her, almost daring her to go through with this.

She knew that they were never going back there. Her life there was over. She had been Maxís wife in another life-time, but that was not her life anymore. She was Tess Harding, not Sabrya of Dernia - and Tess Harding wanted Kyle Valenti. It was simple as that.

Tess had decided to go in through a side door, hoping that she could slip in unnoticed and find Kyle. She hoped that she would be able to scope out the situation first. She felt bad that Vicky Delaney was going to get caught in the middle of this situation, but Tess admitted to herself that there were only seven people on this planet that she really cared aboutÖwell, nine if you counted Jennetta and Ren. She knew what she wanted and she had to go for it. Kyle had the right to make an informed decision.

And so she had been mildly surprised to find herself stumbling into Kyleís arms the moment she walked into the gym. He had momentarily looked like he was seeing a ghost. His face was white and he actually looked a little sick.

Her heart began to thump a mile a minute. She couldnít do it! She wasnít ready!

The shock in his voice managed to make her focus. "What are you doing here?" She felt him clutch gently at her bare shoulders. It sent a shiver down her spine. She swallowed. He dropped his hands quickly, like he had been burned.

"You know exactly why Iím here." Tess replied, relieved that she sounded more confident than she felt. "Iíve come for you. And youíre not going to escape me again."

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Kyle demanded, clearly quickly regaining his senses. He looked beyond her. "Are you here alone? Liz said you werenít coming!" He sounded astounded that Liz might have lied to him.

"She doesnít know Iím here. I was with Michael and Maria." Tess replied, licking her lips. She smiled slightly to herself as Kyleís eyes seemed to become glued to her mouth. He began to blink rapidly, as though he was about to pass out. She frowned slightly. "Kyle? Are you okay?"

He brought a hand up to his temple, rubbed. "I donít think so. I was on my way out for some air."

"Good." Tess said quickly. "We need to talk - privately."

Kyle stared at her. "Why?"

"Because I have things to say to you - things you havenít let me say. Iím tired of running Kyle." She reached out and touched his cheek. "Iím so tired. And I think you are too. I just wantÖ"

She was interrupted suddenly. "Kyle!" Tess recognized the voice immediately. It was Vicky Delaney. Kyle whirled guiltily.

Vicky was standing nearby, watching them, her face completely lacking in suspicion. "There you are!" She exclaimed. "Hi Tess! I didnít know you were here. You look beautiful." Tess wondered why SHE suddenly felt guilty. Why couldnít Pam Troy still have been around for Kyle to date? Tess would have enjoyed having Kyle dump HER unceremoniously. Why did Vicky have to be so darn NICE?

"Thanks Vicky." She managed to reply. "So do you." And she did, damn her.

Vicky moved up next to Kyle, linked her arm through his. "I just talked to Sandy. She said theyíre announcing the king and queen soon. We better go back in."

Kyle just nodded mechanically, still staring at Tess. He looked like he had been hit by a truck.

"Iíll wait for you." She mouthed after him. He nodded again.

Tess followed Vicky and Kyle into the gym. She could see Max and Liz dancing nearby, completely in their own world as usual. She scanned the room, sighed in relief when her eyes lit on Michael, Maria, Alex and Isabel sitting at a table to her left. Maria was sitting on Michaelís lap, wrinkling her nose as Alex pulled a bottle of Tabasco sauce out of his powder blue tux jacket, dolloping Isabelís chocolate cake liberally.

"Why donít you carry Tabasco in YOUR purse?" Michael was asking as Tess came up to them. "What kind of girlfriend are you?"

"The best youíll ever get Spaceboy." Maria replied, smacking him lightly on the head. It pleased Tess to see her brother and Maria teasing each other again. They had been in a state of stupor for so many months now. While there was still always an underlying note of sadness in their demeanor, they were finally trying to live again, at least a little bit.

"Ah! Lady Tess!" Alex stood up, bowing her into his chair. "You look divine."

"Iím sorry I canít say the same." Tess replied, smiling despite herself at Alexís hideous ensemble.

"You came!" Isabel stared at her, her expression gradually melting into a smile. As quickly as the smile appeared, it faded, as Isabelís eyes began to scan the crowd.

"Iíve already seen him." Tess reassured her friend. "Itís okay." Tess saw Isabel and Maria exchange a look. "Really you guys! Itís okay."

At that moment, a drum-roll began and a spotlight focused on the stage at the far end of the gym. Coach Clay, looking ludicrous in a tuxedo about ten times too small for his roly-poly frame, accompanied by Ms. Hardy, climbed onto the stage. They had a pair of envelopes in their hands.

"Prom King and Queen!" Isabel rolled her eyes. "Really! How immature are we?" Tess and Maria exchanged an amused glance, both appreciating the fact of how much Isabel had changed. The old Isabel would have been sitting on the edge of her seat in anticipation of being called up on stage, her acceptance speech already planned out in her perfectly coifed head.

It was absolutely no surprise to Tess when Kyle and Pamís names were read off as the King and Queen. Tess smiled slightly to herself at the completely annoyed expression on Kyleís face as Ms. Hardy placed the fake crown on his head. He reached up quickly and pulled it off.

She wasnít worried, Tess assured herself. She had made her move. She had seen the look on Kyleís face. She just had to wait for him to come to her. Vicky deserved to enjoy her moment, even to enjoy the whole evening. Tess could wait.

She tried to ignore the butterflies in her stomach, tried to forget that Kyle hadnít really said anything at all reassuring during their brief conversation, tried to forget that SHE hadnít really said anything to him at all.

Tess was watching Kyle dance with Vicky moments later, a slight pang of jealousy beginning to hit her when suddenly a cell phone ringing caught her attention.

It was Isabelís. Her purse was sitting on the table in front of her. The five of them all turned to stare at it.

"Well, answer it!" Michael finally snapped. "Why are you acting like youíve never heard a phone ring before?"

It was at that moment that Tess noticed the expression on Isabelís face. Her friend was swallowing convulsively, her visage completely white. "Alex!" Tess grabbed for Isabelís purse. "Catch her! I think sheís having a vision!"

Alex just managed to catch Isabel before she went toppling out of her chair. Maria and Michael had both jumped to their feet. Tess barely noticed that Max and Liz had come running up, Max instantly on his knees in front of his sister. Alex was gently slapping Isabelís cheeks as Tess answered the phone, expecting to hear Mrs. Evansí voice.


"Who is this?" The voice was familiar. Ren! Tessí eyes widened.

"Itís Tess. Whatís wrong? Is Jennetta okay?" Tess waved Michael away as he made a grab for the phone. She could see that Isabel was just beginning to come out of her trance. She was shrugging away from Max and Alex, wanting to be solitary as was usually the case after something like this had happened.

"Sheís fine." Ren snapped. "Let me speak to his Highness."

Tess felt a flash of irritation. "This is your Queen." She snapped back.

"Not anymore." Ren replied, sounding a little more calm. "Please let me speak to the King Tess."

Tess rolled her eyes, handed the phone over to Max. "Itís Ren."

Max turned away, covering his other ear as he tried to talk to Jennettaís bodyguard. The music had picked up again, the pounding beat ringing in Tessí ears.

"I think we should get Isabel out of here." Alex was saying. He scowled slightly when Michael pushed him aside, sweeping Isabel up into his arms. "Hey!"

"Get the door." Michael ordered. Tess looked around uncomfortably. People were beginning to stare at them. Couldnít Michael ever think before he acted?

Alex just rolled his eyes, hurried ahead to get the door. It wasnít until they were in the parking lot that anyone thought to ask Max what Ren had wanted.

Max was standing quietly near the Jeep, his arm around Liz, a strange expression on his face.

"Maxwell! Whatís going on?" Michael demanded, clearly remembering about Ren now that Isabel was safe.

"I know." Isabel said quietly. She was looking at Max steadily. "Jennetta is about to be born."

Maria shrieked. "WHAT???? Why did he ask to speak to you?" She grabbed Max by the lapels, shaking him. "Whatís wrong with her? What bad news does he want you to break to us gently?" Tess looked at Michael, could see that her brother looked ill.

"Maria!" Max managed to grab her hands, lower them to her sides. "Sheís fine! The pod is preparing to let her break out. We need to get out there fast." Tess saw the look on Maxís face though. There was still something he wasnít telling them.

Of course Liz knew it too. "Max, what is it?" She asked quietly.

"I know THAT too." Isabel broke in, her voice still little more than a whisper. "Tarsus has taken the Citadel."

They all stared at each other in shock. The silence was deafening.

Part 57 | Index | Part 59
Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours
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