by C. L. Kamnikar
Disclaimer: The characters within this story are the property of Warner
Brothers, 20th Century Fox, Melinda Metz, Jason Katims, Nutters, and are
copyright to them. The situations and dialogue in this story are copyright
to myself, and may not be re-used without permission.
Summary: A day or so after "Destiny" the inevitable consequences are being explained by Jim Valenti.
Category: Sheriff Valenti
Authors Note: Thanks to Perri for beta'ing and Dianne for laughing.
|~Did I ask for this?~
He didn't say it out loud. He was fairly sure that if he did, someone, somewhere, would speak up to tell him he definitely *had*. And that any whining he wanted to do about it at this point in the game was too damn late to count, so he should just shut up and stop asking the universe stupid questions. He'd wanted the whole truth, and now he'd gotten what he'd asked for.
"Let me see if I understand all this." Jim Valenti crossed his arms and leaned back against his desk. His gaze wandered across the three teens slouched on his office sofa, from Max to his sister Isabel, and then on to Alex Whitman. "The four of you - Michael, Tess, you and Isabel - got sent here to Earth from God-knows how many light-years away, from a planet you don't even know the name of, just so you could be safe from your people's enemies, live to grow up, eventually go back, and then overthrow the government and free everyone else?"
"Yes." That deadpan expression of Max's could have been covering up fear, or annoyance, or amusement, or distrust, but Jim suspected it was exactly what it looked like: total acceptance of his fate. The aliens' destiny. It gave him the shivers.
"Now, is it just me, or does that seem a little... extreme?" He glanced at Isabel, who wasn't meeting his eyes; she was watching her fingernail trace an invisible pattern onto her jeans leg. Alex just shrugged. "How, exactly, do they expect you do to this? Or to get home?"
"They didn't say." Max's voice sounded like he was vaguely uncomfortable, but it didn't show on his way-too-calm face.
"They didn't say," Valenti echoed in disbelief.
"There might be other messages on the orbs, but they didn't come up when we used them," Isabel said, shifting her weight, her hand seeming to catch her brother's almost by accident. "We figured maybe they're on some kind of timer, or that we have to be older before they'll let us see them. Nasedo didn't really know anything about the orbs after all, so...."
"It doesn't matter. We'll figure it out. That's what we were born for. What they made us for," Max added, his voice still eerily calm. "We owe it to them. They're expecting us to go back and help."
"I think that's a little much to expect of four kids, no matter what extraterrestrial miracles they may be capable of." He uncrossed his arms and braced his weight on the desk, leaning forward to study the two alien siblings. Light and dark, confidently regal versus intense-but-retiring-to-the-point-of-invisibility. As different from each other as they were from rebellious Michael Guerin, and that new girl, Tess. You'd never guess it to look at them. But then, who'd ever said that aliens would all look alike? Hell, according to Max, Nasedo could look like *anyone*. Even a dead covert-ops Special Agent for the FBI.
That one still made his head hurt. Not that Max's idea wasn't brilliant and convenient, but he kept thinking about what would happen if Nascedo got caught impersonating Pierce. But the head of the FBI's alien taskforce hadn't exactly struck him as the kind of guy to have too many (or possibly any) close personal relationships--- and if Nasedo pulled off the masquerade for long enough, the kids would stay safe. It was probably worth the risk.
Max shook his head in denial of Valenti's skepticism. "You don't understand--- we're not just kids. They planned all of it. What we would look like, what we could do; it's all in the book---"
"Are you going to tell me they planned that crash and the four of you being separated for most of ten years? Not to mention everything that's happened since then with Agent Pierce and his people." Max flinched at the reminder and looked away, and Jim felt a flash of regret that he had to bring it up as Isabel glared at him, her hand tightening on her brother's. "Were you even supposed to be sleeping in those--- pods?--- for forty-three years? Or was that another screw-up?"
"Nasedo said that part of that was an accident," Isabel admitted, leaning back against Alex, who was perched behind her on the back of the couch. "But that it shouldn't make a difference. We have to go back, eventually."
Alex didn't say anything, but his hand came up to stroke Isabel's golden hair out of her face, and she didn't push him away.
"Uh-hunh." Valenti refrained from rolling his eyes. ~Just give them light sabers and point them at the Death Star. Great plan, guys.~ "I'll believe it when the big glowing mothership comes to the next Crashdown Fest and pages the four of you with your departure time. Until then...." He shook his head, then paused as something else occurred to him. "How are your parents taking all this?"
Now Isabel's face was just as blank as Max's. And Alex was the one looking guilty. Valenti stared at them, getting a tight, sinking feeling in his chest. "You *did* tell them... I hope?"
"It would only put them in danger---"
"And it would freak them out---"
"They wouldn't be able to handle it---"
"That's if they even believed us in the first place---"
"And proving it to them would *definitely* freak them out---"
"So that's a no. And you don't plan to." ~And Diane and Phillip would never believe me, not after everything that's happened this year.~ He glared at all three of them, and after a reluctant nod from Isabel and a determined one from Max, transferred most of the glare to Alex, who was looking amused. "And there's no good reason to tell *your* parents."
The reaction he'd get from Jack Whitman if he said 'Your son is dating an alien' wasn't the kind of thing he wanted to let himself in for. And that went double for Liz Parker's parents and Amy DeLuca. ~Oh, *that* would be a fun conversation... 'By the way, Amy, your daughter's boyfriend is an E.T. who can blow up car engines with his thoughts.' If she didn't laugh herself sick, she'd ask Michael to pose for photos for her tourist shop.~
Parental concerns aside, the fewer people that knew this secret, the better. Tess, evidently, didn't have any family other than Nasedo--- which brought up a whole mess of other problems--- and Michael's newly-emancipated status deprived Jim of the joy of telling Hank he'd been living with an extraterrestrial for the last few years. Too bad. He would've liked to have seen the look on the bastard's face when he said it.
"Which leaves me as the only adult in town who has any idea what's going on with you kids," he said, standing up to pace, "and that's not going to change any time soon. Wonderful. Just wonderful." ~Anyone on the planet want to switch jobs? I know a quiet little town that's looking for a sheriff. It's got your occasional drunk driver, some weird tourist traffic, and four aliens. No problems at all.~
"We can take care of ourselves."
"We've done okay so far---"
"Don't make me remind you of what we just went through over the last forty-eight hours, Max," he warned. "Nasedo may have removed the FBI threat, but there's always the danger someone else, some other agency or nutcase, will figure out what you are and want to 'investigate.'" Which was as close as he was going to get to mentioning Max's ordeal at Pierce's hands. Or the likelihood that it could happen again, if anyone suspected Max or the others wasn't human.
"Then we call Nasedo, and he takes care of it," Isabel said coolly. "Like he did with the others."
"The others?" Wait a minute. Wait. _Hell_. "Are you saying that Nasedo's the one that killed those FBI agents?" Somehow, in all that had been happening over the last couple days, that fact had gotten lost in the shuffle. Isabel's gaze was stony, but Max's blankness had dissolved into regret, and Alex was staring at the floor. "Aww, fuck."
Isabel's glower sharpened into a real offended Her-Majesty-Miss-Evans glare, and he glared right back at her. "I think I'm entitled to that, Isabel. I can't arrest him for those murders without endangering the rest of you. Those cases are going to remain open indefinitely, he gets away with it, and from what you've said he might do it again! How the hell do you think that makes me feel? I'm the Sheriff, for Christ's sake!"
"He probably won't have to kill anyone again, now that he's taken Agent Pierce's place," Max pointed out evenly. "He can just steer investigations in the wrong direction, or arrest people who get too close---"
"That is *not* the point."
"I know. But..." For the first time since he'd walked into Valenti's office, Max looked uncertain, that preternatural calm shaky and showing cracks. "Nasedo's not like us. All he thinks about is protecting us. He doesn't understand why it's wrong---"
"Doesn't care," Alex said quietly, speaking up for the first time. "There's a difference."
"Okay. He doesn't care. Not about anything else." Max's mouth thinned, making him look older, harder. "We can't kill him for doing his job. That's what it would take to stop him. And we still need him."
The bitch of it was, the boy was right. ~This really, really bites.... I did *not* ask for this. Anyone up there hear me? This was not what I had in mind when I said I wanted to know everything. ~
The universe declining to comment on that, he sighed. and returned to the subject at hand. "Right. Maybe we do need him. But let's make sure that 'Agent Pierce' doesn't have to come visiting any time soon, got it? I know you can do low profile; you did it for ten years. Just go back to that." He scrubbed a hand over his face, then narrowed his eyes as another thought occurred to him. "What's Tess going to do with her 'father' off playing G-man?"
"She says she'll be fine. She's used to being left on her own." Isabel gave a one-shouldered shrug and looked bemused. "Nasedo has an account set up for her to pay the household bills, and he'll probably come back once a month or something so people won't get too suspicious."
He didn't like that. At all. "Damn. Well, I'll figure out some way to check on her without making it obvious."
"Bet she'll *love* that," Alex mumbled, probably not meaning for him to hear.
He scowled at the kid anyway. "Too damn bad. She's sixteen, not eighteen. If she gets into any trouble, guess whose lap it's going to land in?" He shook his head. "Just tell me she can't pull Michael's trick with cars." ~And people. Damn. Gotta get rid of Pierce's body pretty soon...~
"Tess gives people visions," Max said, his voice oddly flat. "She can make you believe that you're seeing something that isn't there, at least for a little while." Isabel's fingers threaded through his, and he turned his head and gave her a small smile. "Otherwise, she can do the same things as the rest of us. Reshape simple molecular structures. Get flashes of emotions, memories from people. Simple stuff."
"Hunh. Simple. That's a new definition... still, good." Although if anything ever sounded like a recipe for trouble, that would be it, but it still wasn't as bad as Michael's abilities--- not that those were Michael's fault. "What about you, Isabel? Max heals, Michael-- breaks things; Tess makes mirages. Max said you were going to get into Pierce's head...?"
"Mostly I've only done it when people have been asleep. And only when we really needed to. Most of the time." Isabel looked exquisitely nervous, as well she ought to. At his considering look, she defensively snapped, "It's not like you can give me a ticket for mental trespassing!"
"Better make sure you never give me reason to think I should," he warned.
"Don't worry, your mind is the *last* place I want to be." He would've been insulted at any other time, but since he wasn't enjoying his thoughts either, Valenti decided to let it slide.
Isabel sighed, her eyes darkening as she went on. "Tess keeps saying we should be able to do more, and that our powers will keep growing... and Michael *did* learn how to change his fingerprints while we were at Eagle Rock. We really need to figure out what we're capable of if we're going to fulfill this destiny they have planned out for us."
Which brought them back to Michael, and the body in the morgue he'd been trying to avoid thinking about. "How's Michael doing?"
"He's... freaked." Max grimaced. "More about Agent Pierce than the rest of it. He's still out at the rocks. He said he needed time to think."
"Understandable." If Michael had been one of his officers, there would have been a mandatory counseling session, time off to cope with a shooting, support from fellow cops who'd've understood. As it was.... He'd done something even more frightening than kill a criminal in a justified shoot when he killed Pierce; and there was probably no one on the planet who had any idea how to help. It had to scare the hell out of him. "Tell him I'll be around if he needs to talk."
"Michael? Talk?" Alex's eyes widened at the idea; and Isabel snorted, but her face was sad.
"I'll tell him. But I'm pretty sure he won't want to," Max said doubtfully.
"This *is* the first time he's done this... right?" Valenti asked, sudden thoughts of what might happen if Hank came back coming to mind. If the guy raised his hand to Michael again, he could be in for one hell of a shock. ~Hell, there's proof enough right there: if anyone ever needed a good mental gut-punch, Hank Guerin would be it. And I wish I'd known that sooner.~
"Yes! God, how can you even *think*---"
"Just asking," he said, putting his hands up at Isabel's spluttered outrage. "I had to ask. I was pretty sure, but I'm glad to hear I wasn't wrong." The boy's reaction had been right for that: stunned, surprised, horrified.... but the fact that he'd killed someone with his mind on his first try was _not_ reassuring.
"What are you going to do about Agent Pierce?" Max asked quietly, his eyes shadowed.
"It's better if you don't know," Valenti said as gently as he could. "No one will find him, all right? And if they do, they won't recognize him. Let's just leave it at that."
Isabel shuddered slightly, and Alex swallowed, hard. Max's eyes darkened and turned thoughtful. "So he'll just disappear. Like he was going to do to me." He was silent for several seconds. "I wish I could be sorry. But I'm not."
"No reason you should be. If Michael hadn't done it, I would've had to." All three stared at him, shocked, and Valenti quirked a small unamused smile at them. "Totally aside from wanting to protect you kids--- that sonuvabitch was out of control. I would've confessed and turned his corpse over to the AG's office, and hopefully been able to keep the rest of you out of it. It's not necessary now, though, thanks to Nasedo."
"You'd have done that? Really?"
"Really." Jim met Isabel's skeptical look evenly, and shrugged. "Sometimes my responsibilities fall outside my job description. I think this would've been one of those times."
"That's cool." Alex nodded at him, adjusting to the idea faster than the other two seemed to be. "Since all of this is incredibly far outside of normal anyway."
"Yeah." He studied the three teens for a second, then asked, "How are the rest of you doing? How much trouble were you in with your parents? And what *did* you tell them happened?"
"I told them I didn't remember where I'd been for the last two nights, until Liz came and found me out in the desert." Max's voice roughened, and he looked away. "They didn't like it. They think I got hurt or knocked on the head, but the doctors at the hospital couldn't find anything physically wrong with me. Fortunately."
"The rest of us just said we were looking for Max," Alex added, "and none of our parents are happy, either. Maria's grounded, again. So'm I. Liz's parents didn't ground her, but that's only because she's been crying non-stop since yesterday and they're too worried to yell at her." Max flinched, and Isabel elbowed Alex in the shin. "Uh, sorry, Max. Forget I said that."
"Why's she so upset?"
Isabel rolled her eyes. "She's leaving Max to his destiny."
"Don't say it like that. She'll change her mind. She will. She has to," Max added, his voice sounding like he was trying very hard *not* to be desperate, and not succeeding as well as he would've liked.
Evidently finding out her boyfriend was the Hope of the Galaxy had rocked Liz Parker's world-view enough to cause a break-up. Jim grimaced internally, forseeing a long series of teenage social dramas getting played out in front of him no matter how hard he tried to avoid them.
"I know." Isabel brushed his hair out of his face, her voice kinder than it usually was by several degrees. "Just give her some time, Max. Don't push."
Her brother's jaw tightened, and she dropped her hand and leaned back against Alex with a sigh. "Maria's freaked, but that's only because Michael's freaked and not talking to her, and I can't even blame her this time."
"And Tess is having issues," Alex said. Max's expression became very still, and a fine line of red made its way up his neck as Alex spoke. "Actually, Tess's issues are having issues, that's how wired she is. Maria had to sit on her to stop her from coming along today, 'cause we didn't think she'd be very helpful."
"And the rest of you?"
"Alex and I," Isabel tilted her head back and smiled at him, and he grinned, "are fine." She turned back to Valenti. "Maybe we've got a destiny, but I'm not giving up everything I know for it. I'm just not. No matter what Michael and Tess say."
"Uh-hunh." He couldn't help but smile at the determination on her face, and the way her hand snaked up to take Alex's.
Even Max's expression lightened at the sight. Then he turned away, asking diffidently, "How's Kyle doing? Is he feeling all right?"
~Kyle. Hell.~ Valenti grimaced. "You know how Michael's out brooding in the desert?"
"If he's not careful, he'll run into my son."
"Ooops." Alex looked entertained at the possibility, but Isabel frowned.
"Is he okay with... this?" she asked, waving her hand at Max and herself. "I mean, he's not going to do anything stupid, right?"
~Define 'stupid.'~ "No, no. Kyle just needs some time alone." Finding out that his ex-girlfriend was dating an alien had been a bad enough shock; finding out that said alien had saved his life with his ability to heal bullet wounds had shaken his usually confident, smart-ass son to the point of actual silence.
Immediately after that, there'd been the screaming fight with his father about taking his gun, going to save him, and trying to help the wrong side because he didn't know what was going on. In the end Jim had had to apologize to Kyle for not keeping him in the loop, even while he told him that it had been intended for his own good. That had set off another fight about a lot of things they hadn't been discussing, which had cleared the air a little more than either of them could handle at the moment. Having Kyle take off for a few hours had been a relief. "If he's not back by sundown, I'll go looking for him, but otherwise I think he just needs a while to get his head around this."
How he could be so proud of that kid in the same second that he wanted to strangle the life out of him made him wonder if maybe he just wasn't cut out for fatherhood. At least, not by himself. If Michelle were still around... hell, who was he kidding? It would still be a nightmare. But at least he'd have another adult to talk to about Kyle; and maybe about aliens and destinies and responsibilities he didn't want as well. It'd be nice to have someone tell him if he was completely losing his mind or making some cosmic mistakes with their four intergalactic visitors right about now.
"Cool." Max got to his feet, and Alex pulled Isabel lazily to hers, slinging an arm around her shoulders. "Tell him I'm sorry if I weirded him out when I healed him."
"I don't think he's too upset considering that he's alive."
"Yeah, well...." Max stuck his hands in his pockets, looking like any other sixteen-year-old kid. Not an human-alien hybrid with a destiny to topple a world. What were those alien guys *thinking*? Christ. "Just so he knows."
"No problem." Valenti held the door open for them. As bad as it was, at least he knew the whole story now. At least it couldn't get any worse. "Be careful out there, and remember what I said about a low profile."
"Umm...." Isabel suddenly stopped, jerking Alex to a halt and making Max turn around at the door. "Max. We forgot to tell him about... you know."
Max's eyes went from puzzled to chagrined in an instant. "Uh-oh."
"Uh-oh? Uh-oh, what?" ~Couldn't leave well enough alone, could you? Just *had* to know what was going on...~
"Uh, there's kind of these assassin guys? They might come to Roswell to kill us before we can go back," Max answered reluctantly. Isabel nodded, and Alex smiled nervously at him.
Jim closed his eyes, and pinched the bridge of his nose, stifling a groan. "Sit back down, boys and girl. This sounds like something I need to hear about. Now." ~No matter how much I don't really want to know... I have to know. That's it. There is no *way* I could've asked for this...~
|Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours