As Zan pulled the car onto the road, Liz turned away from him again, looking out the window. He’d kept the top up and she was glad since the night had turned a bit cold. Last night it had rained and lot of moisture was still in the air making it feel even colder.
The whole situation was like deja vu as she watched the dark buildings rush past. It was like no time had passed since last night, and it seemed to be ending the same way.
Just like last night, Zan seemed to be satisfied with driving in silence, and she didn’t want to talk to him anyway.
But she wasn’t upset like she had been last night. Seeing Zan had overwhelmed her because she hadn’t known he was alive, and she hadn’t been prepared for the possibility. Not to mention how much it had shocked her because he was Max’s double.
Seeing Max in her dreams was one thing but seeing him in front of her was another.
Suddenly she stopped herself. Why the hell was she thinking about Max and Zan? That is the last thing she wanted to do, so staring out the window, she started to make a plan to get away from him after he left her tonight.
It was possible he might hang around outside her apartment, but she could shut off all the lights and pretend to go to bed.
As they drove, she concocted one convoluted plan after another, discarding all of them almost immediately. Finally a simple but obvious plan solidified in her mind.
The windows on the back of her apartment opened up onto a fire escape, so if Zan was watching the front, she’d just leave from the back. Simple. She’d wear dark clothes and hide in the shadows until she was far enough away, and then she’d use her powers to change what she was wearing into a more appropriate club outfit.
It was a good plan, but it was ridiculous that she was even making a plan. Who the hell did he think he was anyway, telling her what to do?
She had the almost overwhelming urge to turn and study him, but kept herself still and stared out the window. She was determined not to talk to him. It was childish, she knew, but then he was treating her like a child, trying to force her into his rules.
She would let him think he won for now, but he would soon find out that she didn’t give in that easily. She would live her own life no matter what anyone thought.
In her mind she started calling him all kinds of names; controlling jerk, self-righteous bastard, dictatorial brute, micromanaging swine, subjugating alien goon, dominating hybrid cad.
And even though she couldn’t see him, she realized she could still feel him.
Instead of panicking and trying to push it away, she gave in to her natural curiosity and examined the sensation. When she first felt it she’d thought it was Max, and it was no wonder. In her mind they felt almost exactly the same. But now that she was calm and had time to compare, there were a lot of similarities, but there were differences too.
With Max she always had a feeling of comfort and belonging, like Max’s loving arms enfolding her.
What is left of this girl?
Truth is you were my world.
I still feel you inside me.
See my heart shutting down?
Closing up, leaving town,
Wasting my time,
Trying to find what's missing.
She couldn’t have said when she first started feeling Max. It had happened so gradually that when she’d realized it, it just seemed natural. But it was another special part of their relationship that she’d never feel again.
Save me, from myself,
Waiting to be forgiven.
If this is all there is,
Then why am I still wondering why,
A paper cut is hard to see,
But hurts like hell, I am bleeding.
Tears started in her eyes and she banished thoughts of Max by concentrating on feeling Zan.
She couldn’t exactly say what was different, but Zan had another flavor. It was like the difference between two shades of the same color, subtle but noticeable when you really looked at them. And she knew she’d be able to tell them apart from now on.
The feeling of Zan was familiar, but also a bit unknown, like Zan himself.
Like how had he survived Lonni and Rath’s attack?
Ava had been there and told her that they had killed him. She was so sure he was dead, Liz couldn’t imagine how he’d tricked them. But he must have. He’d even joked about it last night. At least she thought it was a joke.
As much as she tried not to think about him, she couldn’t help it.
Still looking out the window she finally spoke. “So what did happen to you?” she asked, not wanting to be curious, but not being able to help herself. “You weren’t really dead, you just made them think so somehow.”
“No,” he drawled, “I was dead alright.”
She turned toward him in surprise, and a smile raised one corner of his mouth.
He continued, "Lonni and Rath weren't as smart as they thought they were," he explained. "I could see the writing on the wall a mile away. They’d even talked Ava into helping them. So I was expecting them to try something. When they pushed me in front of that truck, I knew it was the perfect opportunity."
“The perfect opportunity for what?” Liz asked in spite of herself.
His gaze left the road and briefly met hers. “The perfect opportunity to make them think I was dead.”
“But couldn’t you just leave any time you wanted?” she asked. “You could have left town and they’d never be able to find you.”
“I don’t know about that,” he said. “The way I can feel you, I can feel them too. And even though they can’t feel me, who knows if they might be able to do it in the future. Not to mention I didn’t think they or Khivar’s people would ever stop trying to kill me if they knew I was still alive. This way, they think I’m dead and I’m not looking over my shoulder all the time for assassination attempts.”
With a shiver, Liz turned away from him, looking back out the window, but not really seeing anything. Tears started to gather in her eyes, as he continued.
“So,” he said, “I let the truck hit me.”
Liz’s head snapped back toward him. “What? How could… How did it not kill you?”
He shrugged. “I used my powers to lift the truck a bit so it wouldn’t kill me but I had to make it look good. A bit of road rash, a gash on the side of my head, broken ribs and a broken leg.”
Liz gasped, horrified by the pain he must have felt.
Zan pulled the car to the side of the road, parking across the street in front of her apartment. He turned in his seat to look at her, “And then I had to stop my heart, of course.”
“What?” she asked.
He shrugged again. “It’s not like they wouldn’t check to be sure I was dead.”
Liz shook her head. “You killed yourself?” she said sarcastically. “I’m not understanding the plan. You could have let the truck kill you. Either way you’re dead.”
He smiled. “Not exactly, princess. My way, I controlled how much I was hurt. I knew how long it would take my body to heal.”
“Heal?” she gasped, her eyes finding his, and then continued in a whisper. “But you were dead. You mean you can’t really die?”
He held her gaze. “We can die,” he assured her. “I just knew that under those circumstances I would heal.”
“How did you know that?” she breathed. “How did you know you wouldn’t just die?”
“Do you know why they made two set of us?” he asked.
Confused by the sudden change of subject, she stared at him for a minute before his words sunk in, and then dumbly shook her head. “I-I assumed it was to have a backup plan.”
“Not at first,” he said. “They created the four of us and thought we were too alien to pass as humans. They thought we’d stand out too much.”
“So they made a second set and made them more human. But they decided to send both sets, like you said, to have a back up plan.”
Liz shook her head in confusion, but he continued. “I’m even more alien than the others. I have a lot more in common with my past self than any of the others do. My powers heal practically anything that happens to me.”
When she didn’t say anything after a moment, he went on. “So it was a good place for me to be dead. There were other people and cars on the streets, so Rath and Lonni wouldn’t want to hang around in case there were witnesses. They would check for a pulse and run.”
“I woke up a few hours later on a table outside the morgue, mostly healed. They were closed for the night, so there was no one around. I changed my hair and clothes, and grabbed a pair of crutches since my leg was still bothering me. I destroyed the paperwork, and checked to make sure nothing was in the computer, then I hightailed it out of there.”
A humorless smile raised the corner of his mouth.
“I could tell that Lonni, Rath and Ava had left town, so I just went home to let myself heal the rest of the way, and after a couple of days, I was good as new. Just when I was about to get the hell out, I could feel them coming back, but I could also feel that they had the other king with them. So I stuck around to see what would happen with the summit, and to protect him if he needed it.”
Liz practically held her breath as he continued.
“He was fine until he said no to the deal, then I knew Lonni would try to take him out. I was willing to risk exposing myself to save him, but I didn’t have to.”
He held her gaze. “You saved him.”
Liz just nodded.
“It’s the damnedest thing I ever saw,” he continued. “This vision materializes in front of him like some guardian angel or protecting spirit, yelling silently and motioning frantically.”
“You saw me,” she gasped.
“Yeah,” he said. “I was surprised as hell that you could do that.”
Liz looked down, feeling sad, confused and surprised all at the same time. But she didn’t want to think about Max, and quickly changed the subject. “So when did you come to L.A.?”
Zan shrugged. “I made sure your friends got on a plane safely and I started driving. I didn’t really have a destination in mind, but I knew I wanted to be in a big city. I tried Chicago. Too damn cold. Seattle. Too damn wet. Next I came here.”
Reaching out, he put his fingers under her chin, lifting it to make her look at him. “So why did you come here, princess?” he asked softly.
Strapped down and heavy
Tied up and bound
This weight I carry
This weight I’ve found
Tears pricked her eyes and she wiped them angrily away as she turned and grabbed the door handle. She was out of the car and headed across the courtyard of her apartment complex before Zan caught up.
“You left everyone you know,” he continued, “your friends and family to come here. Why? Because he screwed Tess?”
You let me down
Won’t think what could be
Can’t feel much now
His words sent a chill through her. She’d put her foot on the first step headed to her apartment, but stopped and turned to face him.
Downfallen on or maybe down, falling
Yes, you meant the world to me
My sweet love
Watch me fall
Zan was constantly making her remember things she didn’t want to think about, and she had another urge to hit him.
“They didn’t just sleep together,” she choked out, “she was pregnant.”
Zan studied her face. “And?”
Liz shook her head. “Isn’t that enough?” she hissed.
Watch me break
Watch me crawl
Watch me throw it all away
So calmly, sadly, softly
Just let it all drift away
She practically ran up the stairs, wanting nothing more than to get away from him, but he kept up with her. “Go away!” she demanded.
She tried to use her powers to open her door, but they didn’t seem to be working and she figured it was because she was upset. Digging in her small purse, she searched frantically for her keys, just wanting to escape into the sanctuary of her apartment.
“I don’t think you’re telling me everything,” he said smoothly, opening the door with a glance.
“I don’t care what you think,” she snarled as she went inside. “I didn’t ask you to be here. I don’t want you here, so screw you.”
She shoved the door as hard as she could, but Zan easily held it open with one hand. He smiled at her as he came inside, forcing her to step back, and closing the door behind him. “Not tonight, princess.”
“What do you want?” she demanded. “Why won’t you leave me alone to live my life?”
“Well,” he drawled, “you aren’t really living though are you?” He motioned around her small apartment, “You hide in here most of the time. You’ve cut yourself off from everyone, and make sure no one gets close to you.”
Liz stared at him incredulously. “Like I said,” she ground out, “it’s none of your business.”
“And, like I said,” he told her as he got even closer, “I’m making it my business.”
She folded her arms, turning away from him.
He continued softly, “You think that fucking all those guys is helping you, but you’re just hurting yourself even more. You’re only covering the pain temporarily, just like using drugs or alcohol, except you’re a sex junkie, and one day you’ll regret it.”
She felt the heat of his body, and knew he must have moved to stand right behind her, but she refused to look and stayed stubbornly silent.
“What you’re feeling right now is anger, princess,” he purred in her ear. “I bring it out of you. That’s why I’m just the guy to bring you back into the world.”
“I don’t want your help,” she snarled at him over her shoulder.
He chuckled in her ear, his breath on her skin making her shiver. “You’re just lucky that I’m generous and I’ll help you anyway.”
Moving away from her, he went to the door opening it. “I’ll see you tomorrow,” he said. “Goodnight princess.”
She didn’t move until she heard the door shut, and then looked to where he’d left, shaking her head. He was such an arrogant bastard telling her how to live. She couldn’t believe he was basically trying to take over her life.
But she wouldn’t let him.
He didn’t know anything about her or the pain she lived with every day. She would do whatever she damned well pleased. Whatever she had to.
Finally moving from the spot she’d seemed frozen to, she stared at the door as if she could see him through it. “And stop calling me princess,” she snarled.
Zan may have delayed her evening, but it was still early enough for what she had in mind. No matter what Zan wanted one fact was still true, she needed a thick cock inside her tonight, and she was going to have it.
Moving with purpose, she went into her bedroom turning on the light and closing the blinds, to keep prying eyes out. She followed her regular nightly routine, pretending to take out pajamas and change into them, just in case she was casting shadows that Zan might see.
Then she went into the bathroom to pretend to do her nightly routine, but stopped when she saw her hair. Once again it was changed back to her natural color and was lengthened to where she usually wore it.
“Fucking Zan,” she said, shaking her head. Apparently he liked her hair long and it’s natural rich brown, and she instantly changed it back the to blonde bob just to spite him.
When she thought she’d wasted enough time in the bathroom, she turned out the light and went into the bedroom doing the same.
She waited for a long time, almost an hour, and she didn’t even have to look out the window to know he was still there. She could feel him. But stealthily she crossed to the window, carefully peering out through the blinds.
The night had turned foggy and it choked the amount of illumination the streetlights cast, making it a paler and smaller pool of light than usual. The haze in the air obscured vision the farther away things were until they disappeared into the gray. But despite that it only took her a moment to spot him.
It’s not like he was even trying to hide. His car was still parked across the street from her apartment, and he was standing outside it, leaning against the side. And though she couldn’t see him clearly, it appeared that he was staring right at her.
Maybe she’d made the blinds move slightly when she approached the window, but she was sure she hadn’t. But it was easier to believe that she had than to think he might somehow sense her looking at him.
Of course she was being ridiculous, she thought with a smile. He was just looking at her apartment, not at her specifically.
Anyway, she knew he was at the front of her apartment, so she could easily get out the back.
Ducking down, she crossed the room and went to the window on the opposite wall. Silently she opened it and was through and had it closed again in a matter of seconds.
Going down the fire escape, she was as quiet as she could be, making no noise to alert anyone nearby. When she reached the ground, she continued in the direction away from Zan.
Staying in the shadows, she went through the back parking lot of the next building, slipping into the bushes as soon as she could. Five blocks away was a busier street, and she was sure she’d be able to find a cab.
Jogging toward her destination, she felt exhilarated when she could hear the traffic and see the lights on the street. Pausing, she took a moment to use her powers to change her clothes to more appropriate club wear, and passing her hand over her face, she re-did her makeup.
Coming out of the alley, she went to the edge of the sidewalk and looked down the street for a cab, but stopped suddenly when she saw a familiar car.
It looked like the same style and color as Zan’s, at least she thought it was. Her eyes darted around nervously, but she didn’t see Zan anywhere near it.
Suddenly her elbow was gripped from behind and his voice growled in her ear. “Looks like I’ll be carrying you home after all.”
She turned toward him, her eyes wide with surprise, and opened her mouth to ask how he found her. But the words never left her throat as his hand pressed to the side of her head and a sudden exhaustion overcame her.