|Primary Characters:||Michael, Kyle, Max, Isabel|
|Warning:||Non-con sex, f/m sex|
|Description:||Tess is back and she wants revenge. It’s up to the remaining aliens to stop her, and save Kyle and Maria.|
“Izz? Want to go over to the Crashdown for a while?”
His sister didn’t reply. He didn’t think she’d even heard him. She was staring at a framed photo of Alex, with a faraway look on her face.
“Isabel? Would you like to go out for a while?”
“Mm? No, you go on if you like. I have some things I have to do.”
He didn’t think so, but it was no use insisting. Isabel’s grief was something he had to respect, but right now it didn’t do anything to help relieve his loneliness. After Tess’ departure, Liz had once again retreated into silence.
And he couldn’t blame her, after the way he had treated her. Shifting the blame to Tess didn’t change anything. He should have been able to stand up for what he deep down knew was right. And now he had lost Liz again. Would he ever learn?
The reason he wanted to go over to the Crashdown, was hardly surprisingly, a wish to run into Liz. After all that had happened between them, he felt awkward simply calling her to ask her out. On the few occasions he had run into her accidentally, she had smiled rather distantly, as if he was a stranger, but she hadn’t had much to say.
Michael, just like Isabel was currently inaccessible, but for a very different reason. While Max’s love life had taken a dramatic turn for the worse, Michael seemed to be enjoying romantic bliss to the full.
Even if he wouldn’t have done so for other reasons, this made Max miss Alex’s quiet friendship all the more. Kyle had never been a close friend, and now he was keeping his distance even more. Max could understand that. All of their problems could be traced to Tess. She had broken Kyle’s heart, murdered one of their good friends, and caused this rift between Max and Liz.
To break out of his brooding, Max decided he would go to the Crashdown on his own. Even if he didn’t meet Liz, he could always get a milkshake special and watch some other people having fun. It had been a very long time since he’d had any himself.
On his way out, he ran into his mother. She smiled and gave him a rather concerned look. He had never confided in her anything about his relationship with Tess, or the problems he and Liz were having, but she was no fool. She could tell when one of her children was suffering, or in this case both of them.
“Are you going out, honey?”
“Yes, I thought I’d go over to the Crashdown for a while.”
“That’s a good idea. Have fun. I wish you could get Isabel to go with you. She really needs to get out.”
“I tried. But you know how it is -“
“I know. But she has to understand that life goes on. No matter how much it hurts to lose someone you love.”
Yes, Max knew that too. But knowing didn’t necessarily make it any easier.
He had to walk all the way into town, but that was ok. At least he got a change of scenery. Staring at the walls of his room was beginning to drive him insane. Maybe he should start his shift early at the UFO center. Brodie would hardly notice anyway. But he had lost some of his enthusiasm for working in that place. All that alien stuff had gone too far.
Right now, all Max wanted was to be an ordinary 18-year-old and think about normal everyday things. He didn’t want to be anyone’s king, and he certainly didn’t want to be some extraterrestrial. Tess had made him focus solely on his alien heritage. It was time he got back in touch with his human roots.
Outside the Crashdown, he ran into – and this caused him to raise his eyebrows a bit – Valenti and Amy de Luca, coming out of the cafe, hand in hand, looking like a couple of teenage love birds. Max didn’t know if he felt amused, disgusted, amazed or simply happy for them. They hardly noticed him so his views on the matter wouldn’t interest them anyway.
Once inside, he looked around for Liz, as always, but he couldn’t see her anywhere. Another girl that he hardly knew was waiting to take his order, and there was no trace of Maria or Michael. This girl knew nothing about his special preferences, so he couldn’t exactly ask for a milkshake with extra sugar and tabasco. Not wanting to appear weird, he ordered the milkshake anyway, and decided he would change it to his taste when the girl wasn’t looking.
A giggle called his attention to the kitchen, and there he found his friend, busy, not working, but giving Maria an extensive tonsil checkup. He didn’t grudge his friends their happiness, but it was bitter knowing that he couldn’t look forward to anything like that himself. Worst of all, he knew he only had himself to blame. Looking away, to avoid the sight of his best friend’s neck covered with – No, he definitely didn’t want to see this. It was just a painful reminder of what he’d lost.
The milkshake came, and he cast a wary glance around the room, to make sure no one was looking at him. Pressing his fingers against the plastic container, he altered the contents slightly. He took a halfhearted sip, and stared in confusion at the shake. Had he gotten it wrong? Wasn’t his powers working anymore? Yes, they were. It was just that nothing tasted all that great after all that had happened.
Hearing the door open, he turned and stared hopefully in that direction. It was Liz. She nodded indifferently to him and continued into the back. Max wanted to go after her, but somehow he felt reluctant to do so.
What could he tell her? That he was so terribly sorry about everything? Beg her to take him back? Get down on his hands and knees and crawl? There was so much “been there, done that” over the whole thing. Liz was a smart girl. She wouldn’t be impressed with any theatricals, and if she couldn’t forgive him, no tricks or acting would change that.
Coming to the Crashdown had been a mistake. He might as well return home and join Isabel in her zealous devotion to the past. Or just go down to the UFO center and earn a little extra cash. There was nothing he wanted that money could buy, but he could always save up for a new car.
On his way out, he ran into Kyle. The look the other guy gave him seemed to be filled with distrust. Again, Max felt he could blame himself. He knew it was no use pointing out that he never meant to cause any of his human friends harm. Kyle brushed past him without more than a very curt nod and disappeared inside. On an impulse, Max turned and looked back.
With a stab of disappointment, he saw Liz greeting Kyle warmly, and the two of them sat down at one of the tables, apparently deep in conversation. Smiling, for all the world looking like the best of friends, if not lovers. Max didn’t want to see any more. With a highly un-royal lump in his throat he found his way almost without thinking, to the UFO center. At least there he didn’t think he’d be running into any more of the people that used to be the most precious to him.
He stayed until close to 10 p m, and Brodie didn’t make an appearance in all that time. So in a way it had been lucky he had showed up early. At least the visitors seemed to appreciate his work.
When he got back, he found Isabel in virtually the same position he had left her. She murmured an indistinct greeting, but didn’t even look up. At least she was still here with him. He opened the door to his room, but changed his mind and went into his sister’s room after all. Again, she didn’t look up. He sat down on the bed beside her and put his arms around her, as much for his own sake as for hers.
That finally got through to her. Smiling weakly, she acknowledged his presence.
“Hey. Back already?”
“Izz, I was gone for more than six hours.”
“Were you? I didn’t notice. Then I guess it’s late. I’ll go to bed. Mom wanted me to help out with -“
“Yes. It’s late. Go on. Go to bed. You could use some sleep. And so could I.”
“Ok. See you tomorrow.”
But he didn’t want to go just yet. For a second he even felt a strong urge to slip under the covers with her, like they had when they were younger. His own lonely room held no appeal right now. But he repressed the impulse and got up to leave. They weren’t kids anymore.
“Do you think I’ll ever see my son again?”
Isabel frowned in something a lot like disgust. With a sinking feeling, Max realized that he was alone in his concern for his child. He didn’t think she was going to reply, so he turned and walked towards the door. But this time she really was going to say something.
“Max, don’t take this the wrong way, but since they used the same human DNA for all of us, don’t you think that this child – and you and Tess – was a bit like incest?”
That had never occurred to him before, and he began to feel sick. Isabel could well be right. The implanted alien memories aside, they were all more or less quadruplets. So he had had sex with his own sister. How would that affect the child? He felt as if something broke inside him, and there was an almost physical pain. Reminding himself that Tess had manipulated him towards this goal from the start did nothing to dimish his feelings of guilt.
Being Isabel, she immediately sensed his reaction, and he could tell that she regretted her words. Quietly, she pulled him back into her arms, and kept holding him for a long time.
“I’m sorry. I guess that was stupid of me. It wasn’t your fault. Tess can take the blame for all of that.”
“But it isn’t the child’s fault. He didn’t ask to be born.”
“I know that. I know this is easier said than done. Believe me, I know that, but try not to think about all this stuff for a while. After all that’s been going on you need a break. And after what Tess did, I think we’re all off the hook for the time being. She sort of took the initiative away from us.”
“Ok, Izz, I’ll try. You too, please.”
She sighed and let go of him. Her face closed to him. No, he didn’t think Isabel was even going to try to follow her own advice. But he knew her well enough to be able to tell that it was no use pushing her further.
“Good night, Isabel.”
“Good night, Max.”
Next morning, like every other morning, since the nightmare began, Max hoped for a miracle, knowing there wouldn’t be one. Maybe they never happened, or maybe they just didn’t apply to people of extraterrestrial origin. Nothing changed. Except for one thing. Each day he had to watch Liz and Kyle keep getting closer, and Michael and Maria retreating further into a sort of symbiosis of love.
If Max had known what was going on inside Kyle’s and Liz’s minds, he might not have been so jealous, or rather envious. There was never any attempt to recapture what they’d once had. They had both changed too much since the last time they’d been involved in a relationship.
All they were trying to do, was offer each other mutual consolation. Both missed Alex terribly. They had both had their hearts broken by an alien, which made for a unique bond between them.
Kyle more or less stopped seeing his other friends, and even if he’d felt up to any more alien interaction, Michael was kept busy with his own brand of alien relations. Though Valenti didn’t have more time for his son, than he used to, Kyle divided his time equally between home and the Crashdown café. One day, his dad asked him to drive over to the gas station outside of town to pick up some spare parts for the lawn mower.
Any excuse to get out of town appealed to Kyle, so he was quite happy to help out. An added bonus was not having to risk catching his dad and Amy de Luca in some revolting intimate situation.
There were times when Kyle almost felt as if he was the dad, and his dad the son. Almost giggling, Kyle thought that he might soon have to have “the talk” with his dad. Of course, if he did, he’d have to have more facts than what he’d learned from the Playboy Channel. Maybe he’d just let his dad manage on his own.
He got the parts and turned around to get back to Roswell, smothering an impulse to just keep driving west, or any other direction, just as long as he got away from it all. But he couldn’t let his dad down, even if he wanted to abandon his friends. His human friends. Right now he’d had about all he could take from the Evans’ twins and Michael too. It would be a long time before Kyle would take a chance on another alien.
As if the indirect thought of Tess had conjured her up, suddenly there was a woman standing in the road ahead of him and he had to swerve violently to avoid hitting her. She looked like something out of a teenage boy’s wet dream, wearing some slutty tight, short dress, extremely high heels and nothing else, from what Kyle could see. The blonde hair was all that reminded him of Tess, so when he finally managed to get his uncooperative car to stop, he didn’t hesitate to get out and ask if she needed some help.
Fluttering long, thick lashes in his direction, pouting and licking her lips, the girl walked closer, swinging her hips, and pushing her bosom forward in a way that made it really hard for Kyle to use his brain. Wow. This seemed to be no less than his wildest dreams come true. Not even any of the Playboy models were quite this sexy. He had to keep reminding himself to continue breathing, or he would surely have passed out from oxygen deprivation. He had never seen a hotter babe. Clearing his throat, he was finally able to get a few words out.
“Excuse me, ma’am. Is there anything I can do for you?”
The girl laughed, a low sexy laugh, that increased the temperature a couple of degrees, and nodded.
“You know, I really think you can.”
Staring dumbly, Kyle again had to force himself to go on.
“Uh. Would you like a ride?”
Now she was laughing again. He didn’t think he’d said anything really funny, but then he had to admit his brains weren’t functioning normally. Maria and Liz would have been all over him for his sexist thoughts, but there was no one around, except for this hot babe and himself. Who was to know what happened between them?
“I was so hoping you’d ask me that.”
And without waiting for any more polite phrases, the girl pushed past him and into the car. Kyle hurried after her, his tongue hanging out, and his eyes nearly popping out of there sockets. That dress was so tight – He swallowed hard and shook his head to clear it. If he was going to be able to to drive, he’d have to get a grip.
“Uh. Where to?”
“Keep driving, and I’ll let you know, Kyle.”
A goofy grin on his face, Kyle put the car into gear and stepped on the accelerator. It was a long time before her use of his name filtered through to him. How did she know his name? He was absolutely certain he’d never laid eyes on this girl before in his life. Or was he? Casting a sideways glance at his passenger, he felt his heart constrict painfully in his chest. Tess.
He almost lost control of the car. A variety of emotions welled up inside him. Hurt, betrayal, fear, and despite all, some shreds of desire. The face she had used to lure him was gone, but the sexy clothes were still there, exposing more of Tess’ body than he’d ever seen, except for that brief glimpse of bare skin when he’d caught her coming out of the shower.
“Did you miss me, little brother? Or what should I call you, really, Kyle? I know you’re happy to see me. There’s nothing you can keep from me.”
Trying to keep his cool, Kyle stepped on the brakes again. Her face lost its deceptively pleasant cast and her eyes shot daggers at him.
“Don’t stop. I said to keep driving until I’ll tell you otherwise.”
And to emphasize her threat, she raised her hand against him. That was all Kyle needed as incentive. He had seen her in action before. To think that he had once felt protective of this monster in the shape of a girl. Ironically and humiliatingly, he knew he was the one who needed protection from her. And he had pushed his alien friends away. No one was going to come to his rescue. At this point, he’d even be happy to see Max Evans.
Tess watched him constantly, while he kept driving, his hands and knees shaking and his throat going completely dry. What did she want? And how could she be back so soon? Did those space ships shuttle back and forth between Earth and that other planet like commuter trains?
As if the girl had read his mind, she began to talk again.
“I couldn’t keep away. Unfinished business, you might say.”
Kyle didn’t want to know what that unfinished business involved. He had a sneaky suspicion that he wouldn’t like it when he found out.
As they approached a small side road, branching off from the main road, Tess pointed in that direction.
“That way. Now.”
Knowing he had no choice, Kyle did as he was told. All the desire had felt moments ago was gone, replaced by a feeling of cold dread. Something told him he wasn’t going to get out of this alive. First Alex, now him. This evil creature wasn’t going to stop at anything. How ironic that he used to hate the others, but not her.
She waited until they couldn’t be seen from the main road, then appeared to be satisfied with the location they found themselves in. There were a few run down shacks, apparently uninhabited, that was all.
“Ok. This will do. Let’s go.”
Kyle considered refusing. If she was going to kill him anyway, why let her take him anywhere? He might as well die right here in his own car. But something kept him from making that desperate stand. He got out, and stood uncertainly in the fading daylight, waiting for her next move.
When he felt her hand on his shoulder, he almost jumped a foot into the air. How could he ever have found this creature attractive? Those icy cold eyes were apparently highly characteristic of her. Maybe he should have focused on them, not her body. But whatever he had done, there was nothing that could have changed this.
If he had ignored the lady in distress, that he had thought he’d seen, she would only have had to use her powers to stop him, like when she’d fried Alex’ body on that night. Resigning himself to his fate, he waited for what she had to say. He tried hard to seek solace in the teachings of Buddha, but for the moment his faith had deserted him.
“I know you’re dying to find out why I’ve brought you here.”
Her laughter sent icy shivers down his spine. The word dying took on a new and far more real meaning than ever before.
“It’s simple, Kyle, baby. I’ve taken you here to make all your dreams come true.”
He thought he knew what she was referring to, and the thought filled him with terror. Quite a change from his earlier reaction to her.
“So what are we waiting for? That house over there will do. Who needs luxury at a time like this?”
No, Kyle thought she would have far more use for the privacy. It would be months, if not years, until the rotting remains of his body would be found out here. Or maybe the coyotes would see to the disposal problem for her. He would enter the circle of life, or rather the ecological cycle, and that would be that. Where would his soul go? Would he be reborn as an eagle? Or a jackrabbit? Maybe a humble earth worm. That might be easier in every way. Less ambition, less hope, less disappoinment.
Inside, the house looked slightly less dilapidated than it had from the outside. There were even a few filthy blankets on the floor. Those looked highly unappealing, and Kyle was hoping she wasn’t going to insist on his lying down on them. On the other hand, if she really did have in mind what he thought she did, lying down might make things a little easier.
But he had no illusions. He’d do what she told him to, if he could make his body obey him. All because he was too much of a coward to end the game for her. Refusing to play, challenging her enough so she’d kill him right away.
“Good. Why don’t you make yourself comfortable, Kyle? Those will do. If the dirt is bothering you, I could fix that. But you know what? I don’t think it will make much difference to you in a little while. So just lie down, there’s a good boy. Such a shame I don’t have Max here with us. I’d love for him to see this.”
Yes, Kyle would bet that she would. And why not Liz and Maria too? That way she could finish all of them off at the same time. Despite his terror, Kyle was glad the girls weren’t with them, and it had nothing to do with what he knew Tess was going to make him do in a minute. If only Max and Michael could keep them safe –
“Ok, this is nice, don’t you think, Kyle? After all those teenage dreams you’ve had about me, I’m finally within reach. Go ahead. Do all those things you’ve been dying to do for so long.”
This was intolerable, and Kyle felt he had to say something, if only to postpone the inevitable.
“If you think I’ll be able to -“
Now her laughter was downright grating on his nerves. She really loved every second of this.
“Oh, I think you will. Try really hard, Kyle, because otherwise, I’ll have to use my powers on – And you wouldn’t like that, would you?”
He thought his heart would stop when she stared meaningfully down his body, settling in a spot about halfway down, making him blush all over. No, she was right about that. He wouldn’t like that at all.
Whatever his own wishes, he knew he had to make an effort to please Tess, if only to stay alive just a litte longer. It was amazing how much will to survive he could still muster, even under the circumstances. But it was far more difficult than he could have imagined. All he could think about over and over again was how he wished this occasion could have been so different.
Max was trying to watch a movie with his parents, but it was hopeless trying to concentrate on the tv screen. The images flickered back and forth in front of his eyes, but he didn’t really see them. Suddenly, he saw something else.
At first he put it down to fatigue. He hadn’t been sleeping properly, since Tess’ departure. But the visions were far too real for that. Could she really be back so soon? Aware of the risk of overreacting in this context, Max was reluctant to believe in what he was experiencing. On the other hand, if Tess really was back, it was too dangerous to take a chance. He had to find Isabel.
“Where are you going, darling? The movie isn’t over yet.”
“I know. But I think I’ll go to bed now. I haven’t been sleeping well for ages.”
“Alright. Sweet dreams. Please go and check on Isabel first, though.”
“Yes. I will. Good night.”
“Good night, son.”
The lights were still on in Isabel’s room, so he assumed she was still awake. Even if she wasn’t, he’d have to wake her for this.
“Yes, what is it? Anything wrong?”
“I’m not sure. I just felt something.”
She was instantly alerted to the wary tone in his voice.
“Do you think it’s possible that Tess is back?”
“I don’t know. Do you?”
“I got these flashes of her being here. And Isabel, I think she’s after revenge. Could you try dreamwalking to see if there’s any possibility she’s here?”
Isabel hesitated for a moment, then nodded, reluctantly.
“I suppose I could. But as you know, she’ll know what I was doing.”
“I don’t think it matters at this point. We’ll have to find out the truth before it’s too late. Who knows what she’ll be up to this time? What if she wants to hurt Liz?”
The look on his sister’s face softened a little. If there was anything she could do about it, she’d spare her brother the pain of a loss like the one she’d suffered.
“Ok. Just a moment.”
She found it hard to concentrate. If that bitch really was back, she’d pay her back once and for all. Isabel would avenge Alex’ death, even if she had to die trying. She knew Tess was far more powerful, but at the moment, she couldn’t care less. Somehow, she’d make her pay.
Stretching out on her bed, Isabel closed her eyes and focused on – on finding her enemy. At first she picked up nothing and she didn’t know if she was relieved or disappointed. Then there was something – a flash of recognition. Yes, Tess was here, alright. And her mind was occupied with something that seemed to require all her concentration.
Isabel actually thought her intrusion was going to go undetected. Just what was that bitch up to this time? She’d better not be trying to hurt Liz. Isabel didn’t really like that girl, but she knew how much she meant to Max and for that reason, she’d do anything in her power to protect her.
What? At first Isabel didn’t think she was seeing this correctly. Could Tess really be in the process of – Isabel broke off in mid-thought, revulsion imprinted all over her face. Ugh. That was the end of the brief connection. But she had seen enough. Would that bitch stop at nothing?
“What’s wrong, Izz? Could you see her?”
“Yes. She’s here. And you’ll never guess what she’s up to. I guess we have to go out there and put a stop to her before -“
“Go on. What’s she doing? Not Liz?”
“No. Definitely not Liz. It’s Kyle.”
She wasn’t going to elaborate on what it was Tess was really doing. It was embarrassing enough to have seen what was going on, not to mention very briefly sharing the other girl’s arousal. That was one sick bitch, that Tess.
“Ok. Let’s go. But we’d better get Michael, if we’re going to stand any chance against her. This time, she’s not going to hide behind our baby. She’s going to get what’s coming to her.”
Isabel stared her brother in wonder. This was a new Max. He was actually thinking along the same lines she was. Not that she had any illusions about the likelihood of his carrying out his plan in reality. But if he was thinking this way, then maybe he wouldn’t interfere if she and Michael gave Tess what she deserved.
They opened her window and sneaked out. Hopefully, their parents wouldn’t notice, but even if they did, they were legally adults now. And their parents knew they could take care of themselves, even if they could have no idea of the real power they commanded.
It was too late for Michael to be over at the Crashdown, so they decided to go over to his place directly. Under these circumstances it was a nuisance not to have the car. The need for speed made it impractical to go on foot. Max was contemplating going over to the Valenti house to fill Kyle’s dad in on the newest developments. But this was no business for humans. No one else must get hurt.
They opened the door, using the key Michael had given them, not their powers. Sometimes the easiest approach was the best. But Michael wasn’t there. The place was empty, and now they had to begin guessing where he really was. Though it didn’t take a genius to figure out the first place to look.
Isabel made a face. Right now, those two lovebirds together was the last thing she wanted to see. It wasn’t exactly that she grudged Michael his happiness. It was just painful to see them so much in love, when her love was lying in the ground, lost to her forever.
Outside Maria’s window they paused, hesitating. Barging in like this could be embarrassing, and it might make their friends a bit upset to say the least. But there was no time to lose. Kyle’s life was at stake, so they couldn’t afford this exaggerated tact. Isabel raised her hand and knocked. It was obvious that Michael was in there, on Maria’s bed, but she hoped they weren’t actually –
A startled face showed up, and behind it another one. Now Maria opened the window and looked out.
“What’s up, you guys? And why didn’t you come to the door?”
To Max’ relief, he concluded that whatever they had been doing wasn’t all that passionate at the moment.
“Tess is back. She’s got Kyle. We have to go. Now, Michael. Sorry about this, Maria, but could we borrow your jeep?”
“I’ll do better than that. Let’s go.”
Michael turned to face his lover, a stubborn look on his face.
“No way. You’re not going. Tess isn’t going to hurt you, if I have any say in it.”
“Kyle’s my friend too. And I’m not going to stay here, while that bitch is killing him just like she killed Alex. You’ll have to tie me up to keep me here.”
Isabel actually admired Maria’s attitude, even if it was completely misguided, considering the powers at Tess’ disposal. If Michael wasn’t tough enough to stop his girlfriend from coming along, she’d be happy to do it for him. A gag wouldn’t be a bad thing either.
“We’re wasting time. Please, Maria. Can’t you stay this time? We don’t want you to get hurt.”
“I don’t want Michael to get hurt either.”
“She’s not going to hurt me. Just let us go.”
“No way. It’s my jeep, and I’m driving it. End of story. But if you’re still that concerned about me, I’ll stay in the background. Max can raise one of those shield things or something.”
They all stared at Max. Was he going to pull his king act on them again? Either way, he was right about their wasting time.
“Fine. We’ll all go. But please promise you will stay in the background, Maria.”
“You can’t be serious, Max. If Tess -“
“I know. But if Maria wants to come, I don’t see how we can stop her. Michael, I’ll do anything in my power to protect her. Come on. We have to go now.”
And despite Michael’s concern, they all set out in Maria’s jeep, Max and Isabel in the backseat.
“Ok, where are we going?”
Yes, that was the question. Isabel had some idea. Somewhere outside of town, in a shack of some kind. She’d have to try dreamwalking again to get a fix on their enemy’s whereabouts, and risk alerting Tess to their approach, but there was nothing else to be done.
It was harder to do in a moving vehicle, but eventually, she was successful. Tess was still busy, so Isabel thought she’d remained undetected this time as well. Which in a way was lucky for Kyle, but in a way, she had to pity him. The reality would most likely be a disappointment to him, despite all his fantasies about Playboy girls.
“Ok, got it. We turn left here.”
“Right. What’s out here anyway?”
“Nothing. Just a few derelict buildings.”
Once they’d turned onto the smaller road, they arrived at their destination far too soon. Those buildings were closer to the main road than they had expected. All hopes of catching Tess unawares were lost. It was too late to back away, so the three aliens got out of the car. To Michael’s irritation, Maria got out as well. She did stay beside the car, though, while they made their approach.
The door to the shack swung open and there she was. What was this? Some kind of porn movie? Tess’ look had changed drastically since they’d last seen her. Gone was the innocent little school girl, replaced by this porn star.
Max felt his breath catch in his throat. He might not love her anymore, but she was still very attractive. But the look in her eyes was far from attractive. There was exhilaration, triumph, and a cold hard determination that frightened Max. This confrontation had come after all. And far sooner than he’d expected.
“Oh, how sweet. I guess you’ve all missed me.”
And with no warning at all, she raised her hand, sending out a flash of light in Maria’s direction. The girl fell to the ground with a sickening thud, sending Michael running back to her. No one had thought to raise a shield. Too late. He kneeled beside his lover, anxiously scanning her face for a lifesign.
Tess could do what she wanted now. As far as Michael was concerned it was over. All he cared about was the girl lying on the ground, so motionless, so pale. She couldn’t be gone, she just couldn’t. Maria was his life, his family, his home, all in one relatively small package. The rest of the world faded out.
Max and Isabel raised their hands in the air, but Tess merely laughed at them. Their combined powers were nothing compared to hers.
“Why did you have to do that?”
“I’m far from done yet, my husband. When I’m through with you, none of the humans you seem to care about so much will be around.”
“I haven’t finished with you yet, either, Tess. We have a score to settle, about Alex. And when I’m done with you, you won’t be in any state to hurt anyone we care about ever again.”
That was just so much talk, and Isabel knew it. What was worse, Tess knew it too.
Ignoring the other girl, Tess was still addressing Max.
“Why don’t you come inside for a moment, my husband? A mutual friend wants to say hello. Let’s agree to a truce.”
Isabel and Max stepped forward. They weren’t foolish enough to believe in anything Tess had to say, but if there was a chance that Kyle was still alive, they had to find out.
“No. Not you. Just my husband.”
“Wherever Max is going, so am I.”
“That’s really touching, Isabel, but I can’t let you do that.”
It appeared they had reached a standstill. Knowing that to push the issue at this point might put them all in danger, Isabel held back, though letting Max go was tearing her up inside.
When the door had closed behind her brother and Tess, Isabel turned to check on Michael and Maria. From what she could see, the girl was far gone. And the person who would be best able to heal her was beyond their reach for now.
Michael put a hand on Maria’s chest, and for a panicked second he could feel no heartbeat. After an eternity, he finally felt the tiniest flutter. She was still there, but not for long. He could feel her life force slipping away. How did he know? It was just something he could feel through his hand on her skin.
Max wasn’t around, so he knew he’d have to do it on his own. Silently, he thanked his best friend – no, his brother – for the lesson he’d taught him about healing. This was an overwhelming undertaking for someone who had only healed a few bruises and cuts, never done what he needed to do now. But there was no choice. Whatever happened to him, he had to pull Maria back before it was too late. She meant more to him than his own life.
Placing both hands on her chest, he began pouring out his own life force to stop hers from slipping away. Everything else stopped. There was just Maria and his need to save her life.
It took Isabel a while to figure out what Michael was trying to do, but when she did, she cried out to make him stop.
“You can’t do that, Michael. You know you can’t. Wait for Max.”
At first he didn’t even notice. In her desperation, Isabel tried to pry him away from Maria’s body, and this finally produced a reaction. He pushed away her hand, violently. She tried again, and this time he pushed her further away.
“Michael, please. You’re killing yourself. It’s no use. If Max can’t get here in time, I’m afraid -“
Though he was intent on the healing, Michael answered her this time.
“I’m not going to let her die. She saved my life, Isabel. Remember? She risked her own life to save mine. And what had I ever done for her? Let me do this.”
Realizing it was no use trying to stop Michael, Isabel contented herself with standing guard over them. If that Tess should show up, she’d give it her best shot.
It was so hard. Michael wasn’t sure he was doing it right, and for a long time, he feared he was already too late. Finally, he felt a sort of spark pass between them, and Maria’s body twitched a little. But she needed so much more, and he was going to give it to her. All it took. More if necessary.
He hardly noticed how weakened he became, until he began blacking out. Shaking his head to clear it, he went on pouring of himself into his lover until he knew he didn’t have all that much left to give, but he went on anyway. She wasn’t moving, and though he knew her heart was still beating, whatever he’d done still wasn’t enough.
Isabel saw it happen. Maria’s body sort of jumped, then she started breathing normally. So the girl was out of danger, but what about Michael? She kneeled beside her friend and anxiously felt for a pulse, a heartbeat, any sign of life. He was still there, only just. Max. Get out here now. This wasn’t happening. If Max didn’t show up soon, Michael was going to –
Max had no idea what he was going to walk into. Kyle had to be alive, but beyond that he had no expectations. He still didn’t know what to do about Tess.
Kyle. He was still alive at least, and as far as Max could tell, he wasn’t seriously injured. But the look on his face, told Max that the boy had been been through something traumatic very recently. Something about the entire situation was suggestive of – Yes. And Kyle’s stricken face seemed to point in the same direction, not to mention Tess’ smug look. Exactly the same look she’d had on the night they had – But surely she couldn’t have –
“What’s wrong, my husband? Jealous? In our world, it’s customary for a queen to take a – I suppose concubine is the right word for it – when her husband doesn’t want her anymore.”
Max could see Kyle’s face take on a higher color, and the boy turned away. Concubine? So that was what she called it. Then everything he had guessed had to be true. But he couldn’t do anything about it at the moment. He had to tread carefully if he wanted to get Kyle out of this place alive.
“I see. Well, I don’t know anything about your planet. But I do know that unless Kyle is ok about that, there’s no way I can let you take him away.”
Max paused as if he expected Kyle to say something. He wasn’t all that surprised when there was no reply and no discernible reaction from the other guy. There was only one door, and no windows, otherwise his conversation with Tess might give Kyle the chance to escape. But since they were blocking his exit, all the boy could do was to stay on the floor, trying to ignore the exchange taking place over his head.
“Who cares? They’re like animals to us. We can do what we please with them. But make no mistake about it, Kyle’s been dying to do this ever since he first saw me, so don’t get all moralizing on me, Max.”
“Ok. How about letting him go?”
“Didn’t you just hear me? Either he goes with me as my slave, or he dies right here. That’s all the options he’s got. And believe me, he ought to appreciate it.”
“Can I at least make sure he’s ok? Let him come over here.”
Tess laughed again. Max couldn’t believe he’d once found her relatively attractive. Everything had changed since then.
“You must think I’m stupid. Once he’s over there, you’ll raise a shield and let him out of here. Don’t bother denying it, my husband. If you really want to take a closer look at my concubine, you’ll have to walk over to him. In fact, while you’re there we could all play. Wouldn’t that be nice? You, me, my new toy?”
Now Max felt his face turning all red. But he knew he shouldn’t let Tess rattle him. This was just talk, intended to make him lose his concentration. He felt a little like a man trying to charm a snake. Only in this case, the snake was trying to charm him.
“What are you really here for, Tess?”
“That shouldn’t be so hard to guess, surely? You betrayed me with that little insipid bitch, Liz. And Kyle rejected me. All of you turned against me. I want revenge, of course. I’ll kill Liz too, just like I killed Alex and Maria.”
The mention of Maria’s name produced the first reaction in Kyle that Max had been able to detect. Of course. Kyle and Maria had been friends since kindergarten. But Max was hoping against all hope that Tess would be wrong. That somehow Maria was still alive.
Now the time for reasoning with this cold, scheming bitch was over. When they had been about to leave together for that unknown other planet, the child she was carrying had prevented him from giving Tess what she deserved. But she wasn’t pregnant now. And the fact that she’d given birth to his son, wouldn’t stop him from doing what was necessary.
Without another word, he raised his hands again, this time with every intention of finishing the job. He knew it was suicide, but he had to do it anyway.
“Kyle, get out of here, if you can”
But Max already knew that Kyle’s only way out of here was through the door behind him. With the energy beams flying around the room, Kyle’s best chance was lying low, waiting for the outcome of the struggle.
But incredibly, it seemed Tess had had enough. With a cry of rage, she turned her power onto the wall at the back of the building, blasting a large whole through it, and disappeared. Though Max did his best to keep up a steady flow of energy in her direction, he could feel himself weakening. If he kept it up much longer, he’d completely drain himself. Besides, Tess was gone. He could feel her presence retreating into the distance.
With an effort he remained standing, but he knew he’d need a few minutes to recover, before he would be able to face any more draining of his powers.
In the silence, he became aware of Kyle moving. Though it was a struggle remaining upright, Max turned in the other guy’s direction.
“Are you ok, Kyle?”
“What do you think? Get off my case, Evans. She didn’t have time to hurt me. You heard her. She just had sex with me. And I don’t think even your powers can give me back my virginity, do you? Not that I’d want it back. I should have gotten rid of it a long time ago. What? I guess you didn’t know that about me.”
“I – I’m sorry, Kyle.”
“Sorry that I just had all my dreams come true?”
Kyle’s voice belied his last statement.
“Sorry that I wasn’t strong enough to finish her.”
There. He’d said it. Max Evans, who never hurt another living being had intended to kill his wife. The mother of his son. And the emotion expressed in his voice silenced Kyle momentarily.
Kyle’s next words were spoken in a softer tone.
“Never mind. You got me out of here alive. Let’s go. If you’re up to it. We have to check on Maria.”
Maria. Yes. Max had forgotten about the girl briefly, faced with the situation inside.
“Yes, we have to go.”
Max’ face was so pale even Kyle was concerned.
“Hey, Evans, are you ok?”
“What? Yes, I’ll be -“
Except he didn’t feel so fine just then. When he turned towards the door, he lost his footing and almost slipped and fell. But he felt Kyle’s steadying arm around his shoulders and he was ok.
Outside, Max and Kyle looked around warily, half-expecting Tess to still be somewhere nearby, still a threat, but there was no sign of her. All they could see was Isabel on her knees over two immobile forms on the ground. Michael?
What had happened in the time since Max began his confrontation with Tess? With Kyle’s help, he was able to get over to his sister and – yes, what else was Michael, but his brother? – and the girl lying on the ground.
“Max, you have to help Michael. He’s -“
Kyle couldn’t keep quiet anymore. These aliens seemed to care only about themselves –
“What about Maria?”
And he too, threw himself down beside his friend. To his surprise, she appeared to be asleep. Breathing normally, her face a normal color. So maybe he’d been wrong about the selfishness of aliens, or about Tess’ powers. He wished that he’d known that earlier, but as the thought passed through his mind, he knew that even if Maria wasn’t dead, there was no way he could have stood up to Tess by himself.
Now everyone’s eyes were on Michael. When Max had last seen his brother, he was alive and well. Now –
“He just went on pouring more and more of himself into her. She was so far gone -“
Max could relate to that. Once he had almost lost himself in Michael. And now his brother, his best friend, might be in the same kind of danger. Max couldn’t let that happen. Michael was still there. He could feel him. No matter how much the struggle with Tess had drained him, he would bring Michael back.
“You’ll have to help me. I’m too exhausted from fighting Tess.”
“Remember what I told you about it?”
“Yes. Let’s do it. Before it’s too late.”
And together, they placed their hands on Michael’s unmoving body. Even now there was a faint flutter in his chest, but it was fading fast. Max tried again, to pour out the life force that was the essence of his power, but to his distress, he found that he couldn’t, not if he wished to remain conscious. But this was Michael. Even if it wasn’t possible, he would still give until he had nothing more to give.
Isabel didn’t appear to have noticed, and to Max’ relief he discovered that even without his help, his sister was doing what had to be done. He hadn’t known she was capable of this, but he shouldn’t have underestimated her. His sister was the strongest person he knew. It didn’t even seem to take much effort. One second, Michael was still unconscious, the next, his eyes were coming open.
“Michael. For a minute there, you had us scared.”
“Izz? How did it go with Maria? Did I do it? Is she ok?”
“Yes, she’s going to be fine. Michael, I’m sorry I was such a coward. If I’d known how much power I had, I’d have helped you heal Maria, instead of trying to make you stop. That way you wouldn’t have passed out like this.”
“I passed out? Oh. Max? Kyle? Where’s Tess? You didn’t let her get away?”
The look of defeat on Max’ face was answer enough.
“She got away. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be. It’s amazing you’re all still alive. Can we go home now? Amy will kill me if anything’s happened to Maria.”
Isabel managed a pale smile. Yes, no doubt Amy de Luca would find a way of killing Michael if anything happened to her daughter. Or rather, she’d make him wish she had killed him. But now everyone was ok. Everyone except Alex.
Isabel seemed to be the only alien feeling strong enough to drive, so she declared she’d drive one of the cars back to Roswell. Maria wasn’t in a position to protest, and Isabel was about to get into the jeep, when Kyle spoke up for the first time since his outburst.
“No. I’ll drive her jeep. You take my car. And Isabel, Michael -“
“Thanks. For saving Maria. I’m sorry I overreacted. You guys aren’t so bad after all.”
“No problem, Kyle. Ok. We’d better get going. Max? You’ll ride with me, right?”
But they didn’t really need to ask. Nothing was going to keep Michael from Maria. He got in the back with her, easing her head down on his lap. It was true. She was still alive. He hadn’t lost her.
No one said anything on the way back to town. What was on everyone’s mind was the thought that while this might have looked like a victory, Tess was still out there somewhere. And worse, if she’d managed to get back, who was to say that no one else could get here too? Had the invasion begun already? But no one was up to too much worrying after the night’s confrontation.
They all felt emotionally drained. When Tess was heard from the next time they’d deal with her. For now, all that everyone wanted was sleep. Total, merciful oblivion for about eight hours or more. And they all had a lot on their minds, except for Maria. She didn’t even feel Michael’s hands gently stroking her hair. Kyle looked at the scene in the backseat and sighed inwardly. They were so lucky, those two.
Max and Liz might be going through a rough patch. Again. But he and Isabel had lost their loves all at the same time. Would there ever be anyone for him again? And would he be able to trust her a second time? He didn’t have an answer for that.
All he could hope for right now, was that Evans wouldn’t tell his sister about what Tess had done to him. He’d die if anyone else found out. These things simply didn’t happen, did they? At least he’d never thought anything like that would happen to him. Almost paradise. Almost, but not quite. And it seemed the other side of paradise was quite simply hell.
She was still out there. One day she might come back. How was he going to escape her the next time? And what about Liz and Maria? A cry from Michael broke into his brooding.
“Hey, man. Look where you’re going. If you’re not careful you’ll have us off the road.”
“Sorry. Just tired, I guess.”
“That’s ok. So am I. Drop us off at Maria’s house, ok? I’ll think of something to tell Amy.”
“Will do. Maria’s ok, isn’t she?”
“Yes. She’s fine. But I hope she wakes up soon. I’d hate to have to explain to Amy why I’m carrying her daughter inside.”
“Yeah. You did great. If it hadn’t been for you -“
“I didn’t know I had it in me. But for her, I’d do anything.”
There it was again. The face of love. The voice of love. And Kyle didn’t want to hear it. Not now. Maybe not ever again.
It was a relief to see the last of his friends, no matter how much he cared about them. Michael was carrying Maria inside after all. Kyle didn’t envy his friend the task of explaining to Amy de Luca what had happened to her daughter. But that wasn’t his concern.
If only he could get rid of the Evans twins, he might finally get some sleep and with it, hopefully oblivion. No more thoughts about Tess. No more thoughts at all. If he could sleep. What if he woke up to find her standing over the bed where she’d slept for so many months? Kyle shook his head violently to clear away that stupid image. All the other guys in school would envy him. But they didn’t know.
At Maria’s house he’d gotten his own car back. Isabel and Max were now in the back, looking about as beat as he felt. And finally, he pulled up outside the Evans’ house. The place was dark and quiet. No one was up waiting for them, just like Kyle knew his dad wouldn’t be awake worrying about him. Which was a relief. How would he manage to get past his dad looking like he did? His dad could always see right through him, if he ever took the trouble of doing so.
“Ok. This is it.”
“Thanks. I’ll call you tomorrow, if that’s ok, Kyle?”
Isabel got out of the car and began walking up to the house. She thought she could guess why Kyle and Max were trying to find the courage to discuss something or avoid discussing it, whichever it was.
That was their problem. She didn’t have any wish to get involved with their male bonding. Most of all she wanted to get back in her room, her shrine to the memory of Alex and their love that never stood a chance. And maybe sleep for ten years or so.
“She won’t be back, will she?”
There was a pleading in Kyle’s voice that really got to Max. And he could understand the fear. He and Isabel and Michael had powers and they had reason to fear Tess. But he had to say something to reassure Kyle. They couldn’t all move into some underground shelter with their families and give up on ordinary normal life.
“No. Not for a long time. I swear. She was weakened somehow. Maybe from giving birth. I almost got her this time. Don’t worry about it. The next time she tries anything, I’ll feel her presence. Or Isabel or Michael will. We’ll warn you and -“
“Yeah, yeah. Thanks. I have to go.”
Shit. If he stayed any longer, he’d break down and cry or something ridiculous like that. And he couldn’t face that in front of Evans. If Alex had still been alive, maybe. But no one else.
Max understood, and didn’t push it. But he didn’t move until Kyle’s car had disappeared from view. It was all his fault. Tess and what she’d done to his human friends. He’d have to find a way to make it up to them. Somehow. But not tonight. Like the rest of them, he needed sleep, and lots of it.
Maybe when he woke up again, he’d find the answer to the problem. There had to be some way of keeping the people he loved safe from that predator with an angel’s face. He might not be a king anymore, but he’d do whatever was in his power to stop Tess.
Kyle pulled up outside his house. Now all that remained was sneaking back inside. That shouldn’t be much of a problem. He’d done it before, and besides, these days, dad would most likely be in bed with Amy de Luca. If he was, then at least Michael wouldn’t have to explain what had happened to Maria.
Silently, Kyle turned the key in the lock, and was about to go over to the couch in front of the tv, out of habit, when he heard a sound from his left. If he’d been thinking straight, he’d have remembered that that was the direction of his dad’s room. But he didn’t. When the light came on, he had to bite his lip not to cry out. It was her. It had to be her. But it was his dad.
“Kyle? What are you doing coming back at this hour? Have you any idea how late it is?”
When his son didn’t reply, Valenti took a closer look. What was wrong with Kyle? A car crash? No, the boy looked uninjured.
“What’s wrong, son? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“Yeah, maybe I have.”
“Never mind, dad. I’m just tired. Sorry to have kept you up like this.”
“That’s ok, son. I was worried about you, but if everything’s ok – Besides, I wouldn’t have gone to bed anyway. Amy was here. She just left, five minutes ago. You must have just missed her.”
“Oh. Well, good night, dad.”
“Good night, son.”
His dad was here. And he still had his gun somewhere around the house. That made Kyle feel at least marginally safer. Enough so he could crawl into bed. But first he tiptoed into the bathroom, hoping his dad would already have retreated to his bedroom. There was no way he was going to bed without a shower.
Ten minutes later, Kyle still didn’t feel clean, but the cold water on his head and face cleared his thoughts a bit, and he knew the way he felt was just an illusion. It was over. At least for now. And whatever he’d said or thought about the aliens, they were good friends, and they had come through for him and Maria. If they all stuck together, they’d beat that alien bitch. Yes, it was over. Now he’d be able to sleep. And not dream about Tess. At least he could hope.