(Monday, May 21st, 2001)
(University of Las Cruces)
Song Playing: Fortress Around Your Heart by Sting
Max turned to Liz as they approached the Lipvack Computer Science building, "So this Professor Peters just jumped at the chance to help you the last time you were here? It seems odd. I mean, he doesn't know you and he uses his free time to break into another student's work?"
Liz smiled, "There is no reason to be jealous, Max. I explained to him that my best friend Ray had just died and he would want me to continue with his work. Don was glad to help."
Liz laughed and shoved him playfully. "Max!"
He caught her hand and pulled her off the path to a nearby bench. "Liz, I know I have no right, but the thought of you with another guy makes me feel ill."
Liz looked into his eyes, suddenly serious, "You don't have anything to be jealous about. Especially now that I know about our past."
"And Sean?" Max asked softly.
"Oh," Liz gasped. "I completely forgot about him. He's been a good friend, helping me through some of the worst times. I used him to try and forget you, but it didn't work. Every time I was with him, even if we were just talking, I couldn't stop thinking about you."
"But you didn't love him?" Max asked softly.
"Of course not," Liz shook her head. "And now I'll have to tell him I won't be seeing him again." She took a deep breath and asked the question that had been uppermost in her mind. "What about you and Tess? You were going to leave Earth and live on another planet with her and your son."
Max nodded. "I was going to take responsibility for my actions and stay with my son but I never loved Tess. I had all of these feelings wrapped up with the memories she was helping me recover, and for a while I was totally confused about what I felt for her. Maybe I was remembering what I felt for you or maybe she was planting feelings in me again, but I didn't know that at the time." He shook his head, "The whole thing was just a terrible mistake. I betrayed you and myself and used Tess to try and ease some of the pain I was feeling."
He looked down, not able to meet Liz's eyes. "I woke up the next morning and just felt sick about what I had done. The whole thing was like a bad dream. I remembered the night I had spent with you, in the desert when we found the orb, and how joyful I had felt when I woke up beside you, and I knew being with Tess was never going to work. I was going to tell her it wouldn't happen again and I couldn't be with her but she was so happy about us being together and I didn't want to hurt her. It seemed like she was the only one who was on my side and it wasn't her fault I couldn't love her. How could I tell her I felt more of a brotherly affection for her when we had been together like that? But then she told me she was pregnant and I didn't have another choice. All I could think of was you and how I had ruined any chance of being with you, and how much I dreaded the future with her."
Liz sighed, "But you had to stay with them because you are an incredibly honorable guy."
"I try to be, but I didn't feel honorable then. I just felt stupid and scared and I couldn't believe one mistake could change the entire course of my life, forever."
"Max, you didn't do anything w-wrong," Liz said softly, nearly choking on the words. "We weren't together and you thought you were supposed to be with her."
"It was wrong because I didn't love her," Max said softly. "I still loved you but I slept with her anyway." Max shook his head, tears filling his eyes. "It was bad enough I had sex with her, but creating a child together is a permanent bond between us and I don't know how you can ever forgive me."
Liz took his head in her hands, "Because I love you, Max Evans." She placed a gentle kiss on his cheek and wiped away the tears that had spilled over his eyelids. "I love you and I will never stop. We'll work through this, together."
Max pulled her into an embrace and smiled through his tears, "What did I ever do to deserve you, Liz Parker?"
(West Roswell High School)
Kyle slid into the seat next to Isabel where she was eating her lunch. "How's it going?"
"Fine," she replied. "How about you?"
"I'm still freaking out about Liz," Kyle blurted out and then looking around, lowered his voice. "Who knew I used to date the Queen of another planet, huh? It must be pretty weird for you too."
"Yeah," Isabel admitted. "All this time we were looking for the fourth alien and she was right under our noses. Liz Parker." She shrugged, "But it makes a weird kind of sense. I mean, Max has been in love with her forever." She shook her head. "I just can't believe that Tess..." she let her sentence trail off.
Kyle nodded, "Yeah, I know what you mean. She fooled all of us." He reached for Isabel's Tabasco and shook a few drops onto his fries before stuffing a handful into his mouth. "Hey, what did you decide to do about college?"
"I decided I didn't want to be too far away from home right now with everything that's happened, so I'm going to check into taking some basic classes at the Community College. It's just on the other side of town so I can take classes and still live at home."
"And what about your feud with Max?"
"We've come to an understanding. We both agree he acted like a jerk and I decided to give him a break." Isabel shrugged, "I never really understood that he was going through a lot."
"Yeah, there's a lot of that going around," Kyle agreed. "I've been mad at Max a long time for a lot of things; taking Liz away from me, how he was treating Tess, my Dad helping him and getting fired, even for Max healing me. But when I heard what had been going on with him and Liz and Tess, and what Liz did for all of us..." he shrugged. "I don't know, it just doesn't seem that important anymore."
Isabel nodded, "I know what you mean. When Liz told us what she had done, I felt really selfish for even thinking about putting myself first. I can't imagine what she must have gone through or how she kept herself together."
Kyle sighed, "You can't compare yourself to Liz, none of us can. I mean, as far as I'm concerned she's practically a saint. It's hard enough just being a regular person. The Buddha says, Long is the night to he who..."
Isabel cut him off with a sharp look and he went back to eating his fries.
(University of Las Cruces)
Don rose from his seat as Liz and Max entered his office. "Liz, it's good to see you again."
"It's good to see you too, Don." She motioned to Max, "This is Max. He was a good friend of Ray's too."
Don nodded, "I was really sorry to hear about Ray. I didn't know him but what I've seen of his work, he would have been a great addition to the world of computer science."
"Thanks," Max said softly.
Don continued, "Well when you called and said you were coming, I checked into Ray's work again. We knew he e-mailed the results to the jcoleman account but you said the file was corrupted, so I looked to see if it was saved in his files somewhere." He sat down at his computer and opened a window, "See, here are the files containing the source material and there is the screen capture I showed you the last time, that shows part of the translation and the confirmation of the e-mail. But the first time we looked, I didn't notice there was another folder." He scrolled down to a folder labeled translation.
"Did he save a copy of the translation in that folder?" Liz asked.
"Maybe," Don shrugged, "the problem is, he put a password on the folder and since it's something he created outside the system, I don't have a backdoor to get in it. I can't even tell how many or what size the files are inside. Eventually the computer can crack the password but I thought maybe you knew it."
Liz smiled, "Sometimes Ray used, I the stud."
Don typed the letters at the password prompt and pushed enter, but the improper password message came up. He tried again but the same thing happened. Then he tried different combinations, using various spacing and capitalizations but still had no luck. "Well it was worth a try."
Suddenly Liz had a thought and dug through her backpack, recovering the charge slip Alex had signed in binary code and handed it to Don. "Could that be a password?"
"Sure," he said as he typed. "More likely it's part of a code he was working on or maybe even a message if you translated the binary into hex or ASCII..." he trailed off as he hit enter and the folder opened, and he turned to them with a smile. "Or it could be his password."
"What's in the file?" Max asked.
Don shook his head, "Nothing. It's empty. He must have trashed his only copy."
"So what do we do, now?" Liz asked with disappointment.
"Don't worry," Don said, "we'll just have to let the computer do the translation again. All of the source materials are still here. I can start the decryption now and then call you when it's done."
Max leaned forward, "Do you know how long it will take?"
Don pulled up a few more windows and shook his head. "No, it looks like the log files were deleted but if I had to guess, I would say no longer than six months at the most." He turned to them, "School is letting out for the summer this week so I can dedicate more of the computer's run time to the project and it will go even faster."
"Thank you for your help, Don," Max said. "You have no idea how much this means to us."
Don smiled, "I have an idea. I lost my brother and to have anything of his was a comfort. I can imagine Ray's work is very important to you."
Maria knelt down in front of Alex's gravestone and brushed the grass clean of debris before carefully arranging the flowers she had brought. "There you go, Alex. I don't know how you like daisies but they just kind of seemed like the right things to bring."
She sat back on her heels, "Oh Alex, so much has been going on since you left. I know Isabel has been keeping you up on things but I wanted to come and talk to you too. I don't know if she told you, but Liz figured out Tess killed you. Of course that comes as no surprise to you, but we stopped her from taking Isabel and Max back home to their enemies. It seems Tess was working against us for a while. And now she's pregnant with Max's son and was going to lead them into a trap."
"Yeah," Maria laughed joylessly, "the tramp finally got into Max's pants and whamo she's pregnant. And it turns out she wasn't even his wife, like she kept telling us over and over. All of that destiny crap she was always whining about, what a joke. She was only a friend of Max and Isabel's family and got sent here instead of his real wife. I just know she planned this whole thing somehow. It's just like something she'd do."
"But you'll never guess who turned out to really be Max's wife." She paused dramatically. "Do you give up? It was Liz all along. Can you believe it? Her soul was reincarnated or something, so it turns out we weren't wrong when we used to tease her about being Max's soul mate."
"And talking about soul mates, Michael had the chance to go home too but he decided to stay here with me. I'm still having trouble with that one. Spaceboy turned out to be Earthboy after all."
Maria sighed, "I wish you were really here for me to talk to. It seems like we should get you back because we figured out who the bad guy was." She shook her head, "But it doesn't work that way, does it?"
"It's wrong that the world goes on when you're not in it. Everything should stop, silent, just for a while, so we could tell everyone what an incredible person you are and what we've lost. We've all been in so much pain; Max and Liz, Isabel, Kyle, me and Michael, we just need a break so we can rest."
A sound behind her caused Maria to turn around quickly but she relaxed when she saw it was Michael.
"I thought I might find you here," Michael said, as he knelt behind her and enfolded her in his arms.
With a sigh, Maria leaned back into him, "How long have you been listening?"
He placed a soft kiss on the top of her head, "Long enough." He stood and pulled her with him, "You're overtired, I'll get you home."
Maria shook her head, "Max and Liz are coming back for the meeting and I need to be there. I need to know why Alex had to die."
"Okay," Michael agreed, softly. "I'll take you to my place but you have to get some rest until they come back."
"Just promise you'll hold me for a while, Spaceboy."
Michael nodded, "For as long as you want."
Liz and Max entered Michael's apartment to find the others already gathered and they looked around at the expectant faces. Kyle and Jim, Michael and Maria and Isabel. Max and Liz knew the others expected them to bring the translation back with them but they had to disappoint their friends.
"So what did you find out?" Michael asked.
Max stepped forward. "All copies of the original decryption were destroyed, so it will have to be decoded from scratch."
"But that will only take a little while, right?" Isabel asked.
"The computer science professor thought it could take some time, maybe months," Max admitted. "But he is more than willing to help and when the translation is finished, he'll call us."
Max looked at the disappointment in the faces before him and felt like he had let them down but then Liz slipped her hand into his and squeezed and his resolve strengthened. "We all hoped for results today and I know the news is disappointing but we will get the translation. This isn't a setback, just a delay."
He saw nods throughout the room. "There are other things we can concentrate on until we get the translation, like the training." He looked to Michael and Isabel, "Have you had a chance to work out a schedule?"
Michael nodded but Isabel answered. "School lets out Friday so we thought we would start on Saturday. We can meet at the quarry and make a day of it."
"Good," Max agreed. "This will take time but we're working toward a goal and we'll be prepared for whatever comes our way."
Max looked at Liz and then at the others. "We did discover one interesting thing though. Tess apparently saw Liz as some kind of threat and she mind warped Liz at least four times, preventing her from developing her powers."
Maria rushed forward worried, and took Liz's head in her hands. "Tess mind warped you. Are you okay?" She turned to Max, "Is she okay?"
Max nodded, "She's fine. I didn't see any signs of damage."
"Tess could have killed her too," Maria said, as tears started to well in her eyes.
Liz gave Maria a quick hug. "It's okay," she assured Maria. "We'll find a way to stop her. There has to be a way."
Maria nodded as Michael pulled her back down onto the sofa and enfolded her in his arms, "Yeah, we'll find a way."
"So it's just like we thought," Max said. "Tess could have done all kinds of mind warps on us. We'll just have to keep watching for the signs and undo them one at a time."
"What kind of signs?" Jim asked.
Max nodded, "Sorry Sheriff. I assumed Kyle had filled you in. One of the signs appears to be incessant finger tapping. There are also flashes of memories you can't account for, maybe missing time or the feeling you drifted off when you were talking to Tess."
He turned back to include Isabel and Michael in his gaze. "Tess reinforced the mind warp on Liz at least three times, so she probably did the same to us, even after she knew it was dangerous."
"That bitch!" Isabel exclaimed. "Why didn't she just kill us all?"
"She probably would if she could've," Michael mumbled.
"It's so hard to believe she would do that us," Jim said defeatedly. "We were her friends and family."
"None of that mattered to her," Maria said.
"It's true," Michael agreed. "She didn't care about any of us. But someone might have cared about her."
"What do you mean?" Isabel asked.
Max picked up on Michael's meaning, "He means what if a teacher or someone else is worried about her sudden disappearance."
"Yeah," Michael nodded. "Shouldn't we report her missing or something?"
Jim shook his head, "We don't have to do anything. Tess is eighteen and technically not under my supervision anymore. If anyone asks, we can just tell them she left town."
"We'll need to go through her things," Max said. "There could be something, some sort of clue."
"Yeah," Isabel said sarcastically, "like we could find the passage in her diary. Today I decided to betray everyone I know."
Jim sighed and nodded, "Come over anytime, Max."
"Thanks," Max said sadly. He could feel the gloom creeping back into the group changed the subject. "Is there anything else anyone wants to talk about?"
Everyone shook their heads.
"Then I have one final thing." He turned to Liz with a smile and then back to the others, "I would like to officially welcome Liz into the Royal Four."
"Yeah!" Maria screamed, as she jumped up and pulled Liz into an embrace. "It's where you always belonged."
Maria released her and Isabel hugged a surprised Liz.
"Thank you for everything you've done for us," Isabel whispered, "and I hope you and Max can work things out. You're good for each other."
Liz hugged her back. "Thanks, Isabel. That means a lot."
Kyle was next, and pulled her into an eager embrace. "Congratulations, Liz. I always knew you were meant for big things."
Jim stood back and offered Liz his hand, "I'm sorry we disagreed about Alex."
Liz ignored his hand and gave him a hug, "Thanks Sheriff."
He wrapped his arms around her, "Thank you, Liz."
Michael fidgeted nervously when it was his turn, "I always knew there was something about you, Liz."
She looked at him with a raised eyebrow and he laughed and hugged her quickly.
Max was last, and he and Liz faced one another for a moment and then moved at the same time into an embrace. He whispered into her ear, "Welcome home, Liz."
(The Evans House - Isabel's Room)
The dreams of the last two nights had disturbed Isabel more than she wanted to admit and even though she was tired, she reached for her yearbook. She flipped through the pages and stopped on a random student, someone she didn't know, eager to have something to occupy her mind. Placing her finger on the girl's picture, Isabel started the dream walk.
It was a fairly typical dream. The girl was walking through school in her pajamas, but Isabel followed her to see if anything interesting happened. First, the girl walked into a class where a test was being given that she didn't know about, and then she ran into a guy she had a crush on. Finally the girl was asked to sing in front of the entire school in an assembly.
Isabel sighed as the girl broke into the first tentative notes. This wasn't quite what she'd had in mind. She was about to leave the dream when she noticed the fog starting to creep onto the stage from the wings. She stood transfixed as it poured in, quickly covering the stage. The girl singing didn't seem to notice the fog, even though she was now standing waist-deep in it.
The fog poured off the stage and onto the floor, traveling quickly toward her, and Isabel trembled as the first icy whips reached her.
She looked quickly around for the person who had spoken her name but no one seemed to notice her or the whispers. The fog pooled around her and she shivered as the voice once again whispered her name.
"Who's there?" she called out. "What do you want?"
The fog continued to thicken around her but there was no answer. Isabel shivered as the fog chilled the air and she tried to leave the dream but she was unable to. It was as if something were holding her there and suddenly the fog seemed menacing. Isabel backed away and the fog reached out to her and she turned and ran.
"Leave me alone," she called over her shoulder and suddenly she was out of the dream walk.
She sat up in bed, taking deep gasps of air, grateful to find herself in her own room. She told herself that she had simply fallen asleep in the dream walk and started her own dream, but she didn't really believe it. Something was happening to her, she just didn't know what it was.
(Tuesday, May 22nd, 2001)
(Copper Summit, AZ)
Lonni followed Nicholas into the Universal Friendship League building and closed the doors behind them.
He turned to face her, "Is there something you wanted?"
"Yeah," Lonni said as she stalked toward him. "I want to know when we are going home?"
Nicholas shrugged, "That's up to Khivar."
Lonni stopped inches away from Nicholas and poked a finger into his chest, "He'd better not try to go back on his deal with us or..."
Nicholas cut her off, "Or what? You've given us your only piece of leverage."
Lonni shook her head, "You still haven't seen all of my cards and I will keep a few to myself until we get back to Antar." Abruptly she turned and walked away.
Nicholas watched her leave. "We'll just see about that, Lonni."
(The Valenti House)
Max pulled each piece of Tess' clothing out of the drawers, searching them carefully before tossing them into a box. "It will be easier on the Valenti's if we just get rid of her stuff," Max said.
Michael nodded, "I wish something could make this easier on the rest of us. I still can't believe..." he let the sentence trail off as he shook his head and headed to the closet.
They searched in silence for a few moments. Michael pulled all of the contents out of the closet and Max moved on to the bookcase.
He flipped through the pages of all of the books on the top shelf but the title of one of the books on the next shelf caught his eye. "AP English," Max mused aloud, "Tess wasn't taking that."
Michael crossed to him. "Then why would she have the book? Tess wasn't exactly a big reader."
Max pulled the book off the shelf and attempted to open it. "It's not a real book. It looks solid," he said, turning it over in his hands, but there was the sound of something inside. Max shook the book and he and Michael looked at one another.
"There must be a lock or something," Michael said.
Max turned it over again, looking closely, but saw nothing. Then an idea occurred to him. He passed his hand over the book and a glowing handprint appeared. Max pressed his hand to the book, there was a click and then the cover pivoted open.
Michael reached inside, pulling out several small books and sifted through them. "These are bank books in different names, at banks all over the U.S., a couple from Grand Cayman, one from Switzerland."
Max took an envelope from inside the book and opened it, revealing a stack of credit card-sized cards. "These are IDs." He called out the names as he looked through them; "Stan Harper, James Turney, Lucy Hoskins, John Elliot, Mary Berg, Tom Barlow, Sam Morgan, Edward..." he trailed off and turned the picture to Michael, "Edward Harding."
Michael took the Edward Harding card, "These must be all of Nasedo's aliases. The names you read match the names on these bank books. And check it out, every one of these has at least twenty-thousand dollars in it."
"Twenty-thousand?" Max gasped. "There have to be eight or ten bank books there."
"Twelve," Michael said.
"Each with Twenty-thousand?"
Michael handed the books to Max, "Some have a lot more than that."
Max looked through the books and quickly did the math, "There's almost a half million dollars total."
"You're kidding!" Michael said disbelievingly.
Max looked at Michael, "You know the good we could do with that kind of money?"
Michael shook his head, "Now you're sounding like Liz."
"Think about it," Max said. "Valenti lost his job. This kind of money could help him a lot."
"He wouldn't accept it," Michael said.
"Maybe," Max said thoughtfully. "But the Harding house and Tess' car are just sitting there and technically, they and all of this money belong to us."
"So?" Michael asked.
"So, you could move into the house and not have to work all those hours at the Crashdown to pay your bills."
Michael scratched at his eyebrow thoughtfully. "Thanks Max, but that place isn't really my style. It kinda gives me the creeps. You know, way too clean and too many breakable things, like a museum or something." He shrugged. "And I like working at the Crashdown. Mr. and Mrs. Parker are pretty cool and I almost think of Liz as a sort of sister. Sometimes it's almost like a weird kind of family, and I'd miss that."
Max nodded and let the subject drop. "Okay, let's finish packing up and we can decide what to do with the money later but I think we should get rid of Tess' car. People might wonder why she left town without it."
(Roswell City Park)
When Liz arrived in the park, Sean was already waiting where she had asked him to meet her. He smiled as she approached and she smiled back, dreading the confrontation. Sean was a nice guy, they'd had fun together and he didn't deserve to be dumped but she had no other choice. She still loved Max and it wouldn't be fair to keep Sean hanging on while she and Max tried to work things out.
"Hey Parker," Sean greeted, as she sat beside him on the bench. "I was starting to get worried about you when you didn't call after Friday night. I though I might have come on too strong and scared you."
"Sean," Liz cut him off, "you didn't scare me. I was hurt and confused and I shouldn't have come to you. I was using you and it wasn't fair."
Sean smiled, "You can use me like that any time you want."
Liz smiled briefly. "Sean, I'm a jerk and I'm sorry for what I have to do."
Sean's smile faded as he nodded, understanding. "You're getting back together with Max."
Liz nodded and Sean shook his head, "I don't understand, Parker. Just Friday night you said he broke your heart. And four days later everything is okay?"
Liz looked down at the bench, "Well, there were some misunderstandings between us and we have some things to work out, but we love each other and we're going to try again." She looked up to meet his eyes, "I'm really sorry. I know you were hoping..." she let the sentence trail off. "But it wouldn't have worked out, Sean. I love Max, I always will."
Max entered his room and locked the door behind him before pulling the bankbooks and IDs out of his backpack. He passed his hand over the carpet making a hole through the layers of padding down into the foundation where he had previously hidden the orbs, the book and the healing crystals in a strong box.
He put the bankbooks and IDs into the box and relocked it, placing it in the hole, and with a single wave of his hand restored the flooring and carpet.
Kyle hopped up onto a stool, at the counter of the Crashdown. "Hey, Mr. Parker. How's it going?"
Jeff greeted Kyle warmly, "Hey Kyle, I'm doing well. How are you and your Dad?"
Kyle nodded, "Good, thanks for asking."
"You just missed Liz, if that's why you're here. She went shopping with her Mom."
"Thanks, Mr. Parker, but I actually came to see one of your other employees," he motioned to Michael with a jut of his chin.
"Oh," Jeff said with a nod. He called over his shoulder, "Michael, you've got company."
Michael crossed to the window separating the kitchen from the dining room and nodded when he saw Kyle, "What's up?"
"Hey, I just wanted to see if you're still coming over tonight to watch the game."
"Yeah, count me in," Michael said. "How many burgers do you want me to bring?"
"Well, Dad is going to fire up the barbecue and he asked me to come and find out how many steaks to buy.
Michael smiled. "I am kind of getting tired of eating hamburgers."
"Hey," Jeff called out, with mock annoyance.
"Sorry, Mr. Parker," Michael said with a laugh
(Wednesday, May 23rd, 2001)
Max knocked tentatively on his sister's door and waited for her answer before entering. He was nervous about what he had to ask, but he needed her help.
"Oh, hey Max," Isabel greeted.
Max got right to the point, "Iz, I need your help."
Suddenly Isabel was concerned, "What is it?"
"Nothing bad," Max assured her as he sat on the bed next to her. "I've just been thinking about some things that's all. Like it was when Brody accessed Larek's stored memories and I healed him that I got the first memory flash of Tess in our other life. And afterward I told Tess I remembered her and that was the first time she mind warped me to stay away from Brody."
Isabel nodded, her confusion showing on her face and waited for him to continue.
"Then in the next couple of days, she mind warped you and Michael for the same thing."
"So you think Tess didn't want us to go to Larek because she was afraid he would help us with our memories. But why Max?"
"Larek confirmed that the things I remembered were things that had really happened, but they were with Tess not Liz. I think Tess was afraid I would remember she wasn't my wife."
"But that would mean Tess knew she wasn't your wife," Isabel pointed out.
Max nodded, "I think we have to assume, at least then, she knew exactly who she was."
"And she still..." Isabel let her sentence trail off. "So what do you need my help with?"
"When Tess was helping me recover my memories, I remembered you and Michael but my memories of Tess were the clearest. It always disturbed me deep inside, but I thought it was supposed to be that way. I thought she was my wife." He shook his head. "But now, I wonder if Tess was leading me to remember the things she wanted me to remember."
"Like her, instead of your real wife," Isabel said.
"Yeah," Max agreed.
"But Max, why didn't you tell me Tess was helping you recover your memories?"
Max shook his head, "I don't know."
Isabel grimaced, "Another of Tess' mind warps?"
"Maybe," Max agreed, with a shrug. "Tess originally told me she could help me recover my memories last summer, after Liz left, but I was never interested. I thought remembering our other life would make me less human somehow and that was the last thing I wanted. But when I got the flash from Brody about Tess, I went to her and told her, and the next thing I know, she is helping me recover my memories." His brow creased, remembering. "And suddenly I was excited about remembering things from our world."
"So Tess mind warped you to want to recover your memories but only with her help," Isabel reasoned, "and then she could feed you the memories she wanted you to have."
Max nodded, "That's what I think, and that's why I came to you. I thought I could meditate and focus on our world, like Tess taught me, and you could dream walk me and see what I remember. Maybe you can see things she made me suppress."
Suddenly Isabel understood, "Like Liz. You're afraid Tess somehow blocked your memories of Liz."
Maria shouldered the door open and walked into the dining room of the Crashdown as she fastened her apron behind her. "So Liz, you finally dumped my cousin?"
Liz looked up from wiping the counter, "What?"
Maria rolled her eyes. "He's been moping around more than usual and when I asked him, he mumbled something about he shouldn't have broken his rule about another man's taco platter." She jumped up onto a stool at the counter. "I'm just assuming that has something to do with you."
Liz sighed and propped her elbows onto the counter. "Yeah, even though we weren't really dating and I don't know what is happening with Max, it just wasn't fair to let Sean think there was a chance for anything between us."
"But Sean was just delusional right?" Maria asked. "There wasn't anything between you."
"No," Liz said, shaking her head. "We were friends and he helped me through some tough times. That night Max was supposed to leave, he told me he'd slept with Tess and I was so hurt I went to Sean and . . ." she trailed off.
"And?" Maria prompted.
Liz shrugged. "I thought maybe he could help me get over Max but I realized that I was just fooling myself. Sean is a nice guy and a good friend and I tried to have feelings for him but I just don't."
Maria nodded. "I think it will take juvie-hall boy a while to get over you. I almost feel sorry for him and then I remember he doesn't deserve you."
Liz shrugged. "Maybe I didn't deserve him.
(The Evans House - Isabel's Room)
Max sat cross-legged on the bed across from Isabel. He pressed his eyes shut and tried to concentrate on the images of the red ocean, Tess had helped him to remember. And after a moment, the images started to take shape in his mind.
At first, it was like looking at a photo and then the image started to move and come to life. Max could hear the sound of the surf brushing gently against the beach and smell the tangy scent in the air. Suddenly he was standing on the beach, watching the motion of the red waves and feeling the breeze on his face.
Then he felt Isabel's presence at his side and turned to her.
"Max," she gasped, "is this our world?"
He nodded, "Yeah."
She gazed out across the red ocean to the horizon, and the two moons in the bright blue sky. "You remember this so clearly," she said, as tears started to roll down her face. "It's like really being there."
"I think I must have spent a lot of time on this beach," Max admitted. "It was the first place I remembered and it's the clearest in my mind."
"It's so beautiful," Isabel said. "I can't believe I don't remember."
Max smiled, "You will, Iz."
She nodded and wiped the tears from her face, re-focusing on the task at hand. "Show me what else you remember."
One at a time, Max brought up each memory Tess had helped him recover. First he showed Isabel the snatches of memories he had of Michael when they were at school together, then he showed Isabel a memory he had of her when they were children, and another when she was older dressed in party finery. Finally he showed her the memory he had recovered of himself and Tess at a party, where they had first kissed.
Isabel looked at her real brother beside her and then at Max's memory of himself seated at a table, kissing Tess, and suddenly the inconsistency struck her. She looked around the room at the other people and noticed for the first time that they were simply faceless forms. "Max," she said, motioning around them, "look at the people."
Max glanced around and his brow knotted, "I guess I don't remember them well enough."
Isabel shook her head, "You don't remember Tess or Michael or me well enough either."
"What do you mean?"
"Haven't you noticed?" Isabel asked, motioning to the Max and Tess at the table. "You are seeing us in our human form. We didn't look like this on our planet."
"You're right," he realized. "Maybe I just put those faces on us because I couldn't remember the real ones."
"Or maybe we were so horrible by human standards that you didn't want to remember," Isabel said, suddenly shocked.
"Isabel..." Max started, only to be cut off.
"Or maybe," Isabel continued, "Tess put those faces on us to make you associate the past with the present."
Max picked up on her meaning immediately. "You mean she made me see our present forms together in my memories, so I would accept us together now."
"Did you notice anything else out of place," Max asked.
"Like the image of someone who had been erased?" Isabel prompted, but shook her head. "No. But I couldn't really sense a time frame for your memories either. Obviously your memories of us as kids and the school stuff with Michael were from before you were married, and Larek said you dated Tess before you even met Liz. So I think Tess was concentrating on recovering your memories from before you knew Liz."
"So maybe if I try to remember things past that point, I will remember Liz."
Isabel smiled. "Don't worry, Max. The memories will come back," she assured him. "On some level, you must have remembered Liz the whole time. You fell in love with her the first time you saw her. Liz is the love of two of your lifetimes. You just don't forget that."
(Roswell UFO Museum)
Maria knocked gently on the office door and then pushed it open as she called out, "Hey Brody. Dinner time."
Brody looked up from his computer with a smile, as he recognized the voice. "Maria, it's good to see you." He jumped up and offered her a chair, "It's been a while. I missed our talks."
"Me too," Maria said with a smile, as she sat across from him.
Brody regained his chair, leaned forward and spoke softly, "I was really sorry to hear about your friend, Alex. Did you get the flowers I sent?"
Maria felt the tears gathering in her eyes but managed a weak smile, "Yeah, thanks, Brody. It's been hard."
"I'm sorry," Brody said nervously and turned to grab the box of tissues from his desk. "I didn't mean to…" he trailed off and silently offered her the box.
Maria took a tissue and pressed it to her eyes. "It's okay," she reassured him. "Sometimes I wonder if I will ever be able to think of him without crying."
Brody reached out tentatively and touched her arm.
Maria looked up at him through her tears, "Thanks for being such a good friend."
(Thursday, May 24th, 2001)
Michael scraped the last of the food on the plates into the garbage and gathered the top of the bag together and lugged it out the back door. He stepped into the alley and saw Mrs. Parker taking groceries out of her car. He tossed the garbage into the dumpster and jogged over to her. "Hey Mrs. Parker," he said, as he grabbed several bags out of the trunk, "let me help you with those."
Nancy smiled, "Thanks Michael. You're always so helpful."
He followed her up the stairs and automatically started putting the groceries away. "Have a good day Mrs. Parker?"
"Yeah, how was your day?"
"You know," he smiled with a shrug. "Same old thing."
"Yeah, I know," Nancy nodded. "And things are good with you and Maria?"
Michael nodded, "Yeah, everything's great."
Nancy watched him put the last of the groceries in the fridge. "We're having pork chops tonight, Michael. I hope you can stay for dinner."
Michael smiled, "I'd love to, Mrs. Parker."
(The Parker House - Liz's Room)
With a smile, Liz listened to the interaction between Michael and her mother in the other room. In the time he had worked in the Crashdown, Michael had become close to her and her parents and sometimes Liz almost thought of him as another member of the family.
She climbed out her window and looked into the night sky. Her thoughts automatically turned to her other life, like they had done so often since she had learned of her true identity.
It was possible that in some way she really was related to Michael. She didn't know anything about her other family, and even though they seemed like a fairy tale she knew somewhere up in the sky, she had another set of parents who had waited for more than fifty years for her to come home.
A figure stood in the shadows in the alley below and watched Liz until she went back inside.
Max slid into a booth and smiled as Maria approached. "Hey."
Maria slid in across from him. "So you and Liz are finally getting another chance, huh girlfriend."
Max nodded, "Yeah."
Maria nodded. "We've been pretty close since last summer when Liz left, and I consider you a really good friend, Max. And I'm glad that you and Liz found out you belong together. I love both of you and you deserve to be happy."
"Thanks Maria," Max said.
"But Max, if you hurt Liz again, I'm going to kick your royal, alien ass."
Max nodded. "A lot of bad stuff has happened and it was all my fault, I take full responsibility. But I love her more than anything."
Maria sighed. "It wasn't all your fault and I know you love her. But with Tess and your son, I just…" she trailed off, shaking her head.
"You just want to protect your friend," Max finished. "But I promise you Maria, if Liz will forgive me, I will spend the rest of my life trying to make it up to her."
(Saturday, May 26th, 2001)
(The Evans House)
Max entered the house with a smile. He had spent the evening at the Crashdown with Michael, Maria, Liz, Isabel and Kyle, just like they used to. Everyone had laughed and joked and Max had felt a weight lift from his heart. Terrible things had happened but Max felt hopeful about the future, not just for himself and Liz, but for everyone.
He closed and locked the door behind him and started toward his room, but his father called out from the kitchen.
"Max? Isabel? Is that you?"
Max walked into the kitchen, his grin still evident, "Hey Dad."
Philip smiled when he saw Max's face, "Have a good evening?"
"Yeah," Max said with a nod. "You know, just a night with the friends."
"Well I hate to spoil your good mood but I got some news tonight," Philip said.
Max was instantly on guard, "What happened?"
Philip shook his head, "No, it's nothing like that, Max. I just got a visit from the Sheriff."
"Valenti came here?"
"No, not Valenti, the acting Sheriff. Hansen, I think his name was."
Max's brow creased, "What did he want?"
"There is no easy way to say it. They found the Jeep, but it has been destroyed."
Max waited for his father to continue.
"It was dowsed with gas, set on fire and pushed off a cliff. I'm afraid there's not much left."
Max nodded and Philip continued, "I'm sorry it turned out this way. I was hoping we'd get it back none the worse for wear. The Sheriff said they hardly ever catch joy riders and he didn't have much hope in this case because any evidence was probably burned. It'll be a few days before we hear from the insurance company but I don't expect they'll pay much." He paused, "I'm really sorry Max."
Max shook his head thinking of Alex's accident. "It's okay. At least no one was hurt."
Sean sat in the Crashdown and watched Liz move around the tables. He couldn't believe he'd been so close to making her his, and she had slipped through his fingers.
He shook his head. She was going back to Max Evans. He just didn't know what it was with that guy, Max. Sean could understand Liz still having feelings for her ex, but this situation seemed to go beyond that. Liz had told him that Max had broken her heart, but then just a few days later she was taking him back. It was almost like Max had some freaky power over her that kept drawing her back to him.
Sean had done his best to make Liz see the truth that Max was just using her, but Liz wouldn't listen. But Sean wouldn't give her up that easily. He would have to do something more drastic to break them up and then he would be there to console her.
As they watched TV, Michael shifted Maria closer to him on the sofa and she snuggled into his side. She hadn't said a word about their relationship since they had slept together and he was starting to worry. Maria always wanted to define and nail down exactly what was happening between them, but for the last week, they had hardly seen one another outside of work and school.
Michael suddenly reached for the remote and switched off the set.
Maria turned to him surprised, "Why did you do that?"
"I think we need to talk," Michael started hesitatingly, "about our relationship."
"You want to talk? About our relationship?" Maria started to laugh but stopped when she saw the serious expression on his face. "What's wrong, Michael?"
Michael shook his head. "I don't know exactly. I was hoping you could tell me." He took a deep breath, "I love you Maria and I want our relationship to work out but I'm not sure where to go from here. I mean, I don't want you to think that all I want from you is sex, because I don't."
Maria smiled and raised her eyebrows.
Michael shook his head. "I mean I do, but that's not all. I want to be together like a real couple."
"We are, Michael," Maria assured him, with a brief kiss. "We don't have to know exactly where we're going, or how we're getting there. The important thing is that we figure it out together."