|Primary Characters:||Pretty much everyone|
|Warning:||f/m non-con sex, m/m non-con sex, f/f sex implied|
|Description:||Max is held by two people who look like his sister and brother, but their behavior makes him doubt everything he thought he knew about them. No one knows where he is, but Kyle has a vision about Max’ situation and warns Liz, who makes the rest of the gang act.|
“Don’t worry about me, mom. I’ll just be gone for ten days.”
“But California, honey -“
“Izz went to school there. She was ok. And our friends too. Nothing’s going to happen to me.”
“You’re right. I’m being silly.”
Max smiled indulgently. Of course his mother was bound to worry. This was more or less the first time he’d be gone from home for a this long. All the others, including his twin sister Isabel had gone away to college. He’d been the only one to stay behind.
Naturally, his mother had grown used to having him around, and like Isabel she had taken to treating him like the baby of the family. Maybe they were right. Who was to know which one of them had stepped out of the pod first? If Isabel wanted the honor of being the older sister, that was ok with him.
“I can’t let Brodie down. He’s depending on me.”
“But sweetheart, this UFO thing, I mean – how can people be so naive?”
Again, Max smiled at his mother’s incredulity. Yes, who could be stupid enough to believe in aliens?
“At least this is good for the state economy, not to mention the town.”
“That’s true. Still, you don’t think it’s time for you to go to college? I can understand that you wanted some time off from school. After all, we’d all been through some emotionally distressing times. But now – You seem to be getting along fine with Liz and the rest of your friends.”
“I’ll think about it, mom. There’s nothing in particular I’d like to do, though.”
“You’ll find something.”
“I hope so. Anyway, don’t worry about me while I’m gone. I’ll phone home regularly.”
“You’d better. How are you getting to the airport? If you like, I could take some time off work and drive you. You mustn’t leave the car out there while you’re gone.”
“That’s ok, mom. Kyle and Liz are taking me.”
His mother frowned slightly, and Max had a horrible suspicion she’d heard some of the rumors going around about the three of them. But it seemed she was still worrying about his lack of ambition or the visit to California. Finally, with a sigh, she pushed her concerns away and smiled.
After one last hug, Max left the house, and found that his friends were already waiting in the street.
Liz waved to catch his attention, and Kyle got out to put his luggage into the trunk of his car.
“Sorry I’m late. Mom -“
He broke off. This would really make him seem more pathetic than usual. But there were no giggles from Liz and Kyle kept a straight face too. They cared about him. He didn’t need to keep things from them. And every parent considered his or her offspring a baby. Liz’ parents too. Maybe even Valenti. If he could tear himself away from his lover, Amy.
At the airport, they said their farewells, a bit awkwardly, considering the people around them. Liz hugged Max and kissed his cheek, while Kyle waited with Max’ luggage. Max was stunned to realize that he would have wanted to hug Kyle too, but even if there hadn’t been any witnesses to their unusual behavior, he knew Kyle wasn’t comfortable with being touched by anyone other than Liz.
As Max turned to leave, he and Kyle exchanged a look. They might not be demonstrative with their affection, but Max knew Kyle’s friendship meant as much to him as Liz’ did, though in a different way. His healing of the two humans had created a bond between them, one that would never go away. And at this point, Max didn’t even want it to. He wasn’t quite as sure about Kyle. Something told him that Kyle might wish to have things back the way they were before a bullet tore his insides apart, nearly killing him. Or even further back, before Max healed Liz.
“You’ll call as soon as you get there, won’t you?”
And he was pushed and shoved along with the crowds leaving for California.
There was a delay. At first no one would tell them why. When two hours had passed, a stressed out air hostess stood before them to reveal the cause of the delay. Bad weather. This announcement was greeted with silence. Then the passengers began to give vent to their frustration. Many of them were on deadlines. Other planes to be caught. Important business appointments that would be missed.
Max didn’t really care either way. Brodie was already out in California. He’d left last week, to take his daughter to Disney World. In fact, Max suspected his ex-wife was there too. And the UFO convention wouldn’t start until Thursday. It had been Brodie’s idea to let Max fly out early, so he could enjoy the sunshine and the girls.
Not Max’ idea, but then his well-meaning boss couldn’t know about his arrangement with Liz. Hopefully, no one did. Michael wouldn’t understand, and Isabel didn’t have as much time for him anymore. Wedded bliss would do that to you, Max realized. And again he felt left out. He wanted to be able to tell the entire world about him and Liz. But there were Kyle’s feelings to consider.
Finally, towards late afternoon, they were told to leave the plane. No planes would be taking off until evening. By now, the offers of free food and drinks had mellowed out the mood of the other passengers, but Max was at last beginning to feel the first stirring of impatience.
Would they be stuck out here for hours? The airport was a no man’s land. If he couldn’t be on his way, why couldn’t he go back home? But the thought of once again facing his mother’s concerns, and once again having to say goodbye to Liz – and Kyle – didn’t sound appealing. He wanted to get going, so he could come back home and – Pick up the pieces of his life.
His mother’s words about getting an education or at least choosing what he wanted to do with his life had struck a chord. Why shouldn’t he do what he pleased with his life? He wasn’t a king anymore, if he’d ever been one. By now, he didn’t believe any of the lies Nasedo and Tess had fed them, not to mention that weird alien book. Tess might have written that herself, or Nasedo, or any other enemy who wanted to dupe them into leaving the only home they’d ever known.
Out of his group of friends – and lover – he and Michael were the only ones not to have done anything about getting an education. Though Michael had been given a rough start to his life, Max knew his brother had good grades. Certainly no worse than Maria’s – or Kyle’s – or Max’ own. Of course, Liz, Isabel and Alex were geniuses compared to most of the students at Roswell High. By rights, they should already have been gone to Harvard, Princeton, Yale or at least UCLA. Perhaps it was a tribute to the little town they all liked to call home, but no one had felt inclined to move. After that first year out in California, even Isabel and Alex had chosen to go to college closer to home.
Yes. He should discuss this with Michael when he got back. As if thinking about his brother had conjured him up, suddenly Michael was standing before Max. One moment ago he hadn’t. But here he was, staring at Max in an unsettling way. What was he doing out here? Startled, Max began to wonder if anything was wrong. Were they under attack? Or had something happened to one of their friends and loved ones?
“Bro. I’m glad I caught you.”
‘Bro’? Michael never called him that. As if reading his brother’s mind, Michael went on.
“Maxwell, there’s something we need to discuss. Let’s get out of here.”
“But I need to -“
“I know. But this is more important.”
“Are we under attack?”
Now Michael laughed. The sound was unexpected and grated on Max’ nerves. It was as if Michael was enjoying some private joke at Max’ expense.
“No. Nothing like that. Just important. As in official alien business.”
Michael hadn’t used that term for ages, not since he’d stopped running from Maria. So what could be causing this return to the old, more prickly Michael?
“Did you and Maria have a fight?”
His brother seemed to hesitate a moment, as if he hadn’t expected the question. Max got a feeling something was wrong. But Michael was smiling, and Max couldn’t say exactly what it was that gave the impression of wrongness.
“You know how chicks are.”
‘Chicks’? Well, either Michael was trying to be funny, and he wasn’t succeeding, or he was really mad at Maria for some reason. Maybe married life wasn’t always a bed of roses. Max decided to let the matter go. His brother would tell him some time. Who else would he go to if not Maria or his brother?
“So what’s up?”
“Come on. I’ll tell you on the way.”
The next surprise came when they walked out into the parking lot. Michael was taking him to a car that Max had never seen before. It was new, and quite elegant. Frankly, not the sort of car he’d associate with any of his friends, except possibly Isabel, and then only in the old days when she was dating some suave older man. Before Alex. If Michael had gone out and bought this car, maybe that was the reason for his and Maria’s fight.
Michael drove back towards Roswell, but turned off before entering the town. What was this?
“Relax, bro. Isabel’s waiting for us.”
“Can’t you give me a clue about what this is about?”
Max saw his brother take his eyes off the road and again rake him with his eyes. They looked different somehow. Darker. Was Michael mad at him for some reason? The only time they ever looked like this was when Michael was furious about something.
“Let’s leave it. You know how it is. Chicks have a way with words that I don’t. Isabel will explain. Just hang in there. We’ll be there in five minutes.”
That turned out to be the truth. Michael pulled up outside a house that Max didn’t know. What were they doing out here? A tingle went down his spine, and he wondered what had sent his siblings to this place. Michael’s reassurances that they weren’t under attack hadn’t entirely convinced Max. Something had to be seriously wrong for his brother and sister to act this much out of character.
These days, Isabel was rarely seen without Alex. They looked like a good imitation of siamese twins. So something completely out of the ordinary must have happened. And Michael and Maria were well on their way to becoming just like Alex and Isabel, with a bit more passion. Or maybe not. Maybe there was just as much passion rampant in every relationship. Only some people were more demonstrative than others.
They got out of the car, and entered the house. It seemed to be a farm house, but from the state of the flaking paint, Max guessed it had been abandoned for some time. Again he was struck by the weirdness of the situation. Michael had done a bit of breaking and entering in the past, using his powers. Even Max himself had, when their safety had demanded it of him, but this – ?
Why would his siblings be making themselves at home in someone else’s house? But he didn’t have time for more speculation. In the living room, Isabel was sitting in a shabby armchair. When he walked in, she got up to greet him, and even kissed his cheek, before sitting down again.
“I guess you’re wondering what this is all about? Don’t worry, Max. Everything’s fine. We just need to talk to you about something. But sit down. Have a drink.”
A drink? Not alcohol surely? To his knowledge neither Isabel or Michael had ever been drunk, but his own brush with intoxication still haunted him. He’d come so close to giving himself away. In retrospect, he knew that Kyle was to be trusted, but back then, he’d had no way of knowing that. Besides, Kyle wasn’t the only one around.
As if reading his mind, his sister laughed. This sound too startled Max. Isabel did laugh these days, since she’d found Alex again, but it never sounded quite like this. Teasing. As if she too knew something he didn’t. But this was Isabel. His twin sister. If he couldn’t trust her, who could he trust?
He accepted the drink, which turned out to be some soft drink, but with a strange after-taste. Possibly, this was some new health drink that Isabel was keen on.
“Well, what is it? I’m going to have fly out to California tomorrow. It’s too late now.”
“Never mind that. This is far more important. Max, you can’t go on mixing with these humans.”
This from Isabel who loved Alex more than her own life. And Michael seemed to concur. He, who had nearly lost his mind, when he thought he was losing Maria.
“Wait. I’ve had a vision. And I remembered more from our life up there. It’s not safe for humans to mix with us, and we need to focus more on our powers. Too little knowledge is dangerous. We have to hone our skills a lot more than we have until now. So I thought we’d take a little time out here, on our own. Just the three of us. If we work together, we’ll manage to sharpen our powers and then -“
“But, Izz. You know I can’t stay. Brodie’s counting on me.”
This was greeted with a blank stare. Then he saw a glint of comprehension in Michael’s eyes. No one seemed to think much of his poor oddball employer.
“Relax. Everything’s going to be ok.”
Their faces were blurred somehow, and when Max tried to get to his feet, he fell back down into the chair. He struggled to keep his eyes open, but a tempting darkness was lurking just out of reach, and suddenly, he felt himself blacking out.
When he came to again, he heard subdued voices from some distance away. In the same room, he assumed. What had happened? There was something he needed to remember. But it was so hard to focus. What were those voices saying? He could only just make it out, but even if the noises reached his ears, they didn’t make much impact.
“Too easy. The sucker never suspected a thing. I’m going to enjoy this.”
Part of Max knew he ought to be alarmed. Something was wrong. But he was only dreaming. None of this was real. He was –
Again, he lost consciousness. The next time he came to, daylight was coming in through a cracked window, and he became aware of lying on a rough mattress. No sheet or blanket. Just a bare mattress. The room was empty of furniture, and it didn’t smell clean. Where was he? Max tried to remember, but his mind was in a daze. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t clear his head, and he couldn’t get to his feet.
He wondered if he should call out for help, but decided to wait a while. Maybe he would begin to feel better and things would start to make sense again.
After a while, the door creaked open and someone walked in. Michael. Some of the memories from last night came flooding back. Then things were ok, or were they? His brother walked over to the bed and sat down, letting his gaze travel over him in an unsettling way. At the back of Max’ mind a warning whispered, but he forced himself to ignore it. This was Michael, after all. No enemy.
“Good morning, Maxwell. Sleep well?”
“Good. Then I think we can begin.”
“Begin with what?”
“Yes, you must be wondering why I brought you out here. Don’t you remember anything from last night?”
Max frowned in concentration. Did he? Michael had picked him up at the airport. Isabel. But he still didn’t understand why they’d brought him out here. A strange farm house right on the outskirts of Roswell.
“Yes. A little. What happened?”
“Isabel and I need to make you understand something.”
“What is that? You’re not making any sense, Michael. Is there a phone out here? I need to call Brodie and -“
Michael’s laughter was harsh, and sent a chill down Max’ spine. He’d hardly ever seen his brother like this. Only when Michael was still living with Hank, before they knew anything about their unique heritage.
“Oh, we’ve taken care of the Brodie situation. Don’t worry about a thing. And don’t worry about anything else either. Isabel and I have taken care of everything. You just have to lie here and pay attention.”
“Michael, you’re scaring me.”
“Good. If you’re scared, then maybe you’ll see sense.”
Now Michael leaned closer and grabbed Max’ chin. The shock of the unexpected movement sent another chill down Max’ spine. If only he could focus, he’d be able to –
“Pretty. Almost as pretty as -“
Had he heard Michael correctly? What had he just said? Maybe this was all a fever dream. Didn’t he ever leave for the airport? What if he’d come down with the flu or something?
And the feeling of unreality continued. Michael’s hands began to trail down Max’ neck and onto his shoulders. Despite his confusion, Max had enough presence of mind to try and move away. That was checked by a strong hand, that grabbed Max by the neck and held on. Max had known Michael was strong, but this was uncanny. Now Max could no longer fight down a feeling of panic.
“Stop moving about and make this easier on both of us.”
“Why are you doing this?”
By now, Michael’s harsh laughter was beginning to seriously unnerve Max.
“I’ll bet you never knew I felt this way?”
Michael pulled back a little as if to let the thought sink in. His eyes never left Max’ terrified face. This was a nightmare. Was Tess behind this somehow? If all this was a particularly terrifying mind warp – that might explain his brother’s startling transformation into this creature out of the worst kind of nightmare.
“Well? Aren’t you going to say something? Suit yourself. Talk is cheap, after all. Let’s have some action instead.”
To Max’ horror his brother now proceeded to undress him, and with a violence that stunned him, Michael rammed into him, pinning him into the mattress. This. Couldn’t. Be. Happening. No. No. No. No. Tess had to be behind this. Her revenge for his interference in her cruel games with Kyle.
An excruciating pain shot through Max and for a moment he blacked out. When he came to again, Michael was still there, on top of him, inside him. Max couldn’t see him, through the veil of tears, tears of pain that welled up in his eyes, but he could smell him, feel him.
Next time he opened his eyes, he was alone. His mind was still dazed, and he couldn’t at first figure out why his entire body was hurting. But soon enough, the memories came rushing back. It had to be a nightmare, a hallucination. His brother, Michael, would never do something like this. Never. This was all wrong.
Tess. She had to be behind all this. Max knew she wasn’t dead. He’d have felt it happen. She was still out there somewhere, and this would be just like her. But the explanation didn’t make him feel any better. And he still couldn’t clear his head, or make his body obey him. Every time he tried to get up, he was forced back onto the bed by his nausea and dizziness.
After what seemed like hours, the door was opened again. A cold hand seemed to be clutching Max’ heart and he found it hard to breathe. In his mouth, he felt the metallic taste of fear. But the person who entered the room wasn’t Michael. It was Isabel. She sat down on the bed, and gently ruffled his hair.
“Good morning, sleepy head.”
Faced with this friendly attitude, Max broke down. Sobs shook him, and he couldn’t stop the tears from flowing down his face. If Isabel could tell –
“Come on, Max. Cheer up. I’ll tell Michael to ease off you a bit.”
What? She knew. Obviously, what had happened didn’t bother her. Or if it did, only to the point of being worried about the extent of damage done. Not the thing itself.
To begin with, her reaction stunned Max into silence. And her continued behavior kept on astonishing him. Calmly, she began to feed him some soup. Whenever he spilled some, she wiped it off his face with a tissue. When he had swallowed as much as he could, she put the bowl away.
“There. You’ll feel much better in a while. I’m going to get Michael now -“
His reaction seemed to irritate her a bit, but she forced herself to smile patiently.
“Don’t get upset. I can’t get you into the shower by myself. He’ll have to help.”
“What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I walk?”
“Why ask me? You’re tired. I realize that last night must have come as a shock to you. But like I said, I will talk to Michael about it. Try to calm down, and everything’s going to be fine. Look at me, Max. Do you trust me?”
How could she sit here, calmly telling him to get used to being – Max couldn’t even think the word inside his head. Get used to this violation and trust her that everything was going to be fine. But this was Isabel. In all their years together, had she let him down, even once? He’d always been able to count on her.
If only his mind worked better. Something about all this was wrong. But he couldn’t figure out what to say. In the end, he just nodded mutely. Yes. After all, he still trusted Isabel. She was his sister. His best friend. If she told him everything would be fine, it would be.
“Great. Now I’ll get Michael, and we can get you cleaned up.”
She accompanied her words with gentle, reassuring caresses of his face. But her touch did nothing to relieve Max’ terror of meeting Michael again. This wasn’t happening. He had to be remembering last night wrong, because there was no way his brother would do what he seemed to have done to him that night.
Not many minutes later, Isabel returned, bringing Michael with her. They lifted him off the bed, ignoring his frantic efforts to get away from those rough hands.
“Stop struggling, Max. You’re going to hurt yourself. We’re just taking you into the bathroom. Nothing to worry about. After we’ve cleaned you up, you’ll feel a lot better.”
And they were so much stronger than Max, they just washed him, like parents would wash their baby. While Michael held Max upright, Isabel used a sponge on his skin. All over. It felt weird, having his sister touch him like that, but it didn’t last long. When they were done, Isabel wrapped a towel around him and rubbed him dry. Before long, he was back in the same room.
“Hold him, Michael. I’m going to do something about this mattress. You could have done this a bit less violently.”
Her brother ignored her comment, but kept holding on to Max, while Isabel used her powers to clean up the filthy mattress. It was reassuring to see her use her powers again. One second the mattress was covered with dark stains, that Max didn’t want to look at, but found he couldn’t tear his eyes away from, the next, it was as clean as if it had just come out of the washing machine, cleaner in fact than it must have been for a long time.
“Ok. You can put him down. Get out of here, Michael. I’ll talk to Max on my own.”
With his clothes torn, Max didn’t have anything to wear, and he was uncomfortably aware of Michael’s proximity. After depositing his brother on the bed, Michael didn’t move away. Instead that predatory look in his eyes from last night appeared again. Max made a small sound of distress. Not again. Not now. He couldn’t –
And again, he felt Michael’s hands trail down his body. Not roughly, but as if establishing ownership. Suddenly, Max couldn’t take it anymore and began to scream.
“Don’t touch me. Get away from me.”
That provoked a lightning-quick reaction. Michael’s hand clamped down over his mouth and stayed there. Max panicked. He couldn’t breathe. His body writhed and bucked as if of its own volition, to try and get as far away from this – stranger who wore Michael’s face.
“Is that a way to treat your lover? I’m just going to heal you. Lie still and I’ll fix the problem. Isabel’s right. I should have been more patient last night.”
“This isn’t working, Michael. Let me heal him.”
“No. I hurt him. I’ll heal him. Besides, he has to get used to my touch.”
That had a bad sound to it. But Max was too exhausted to struggle any more. He just slumped down on the bed, all the fight gone out of him.
“Good decision, bro.”
And Max was forced to lie motionless while Michael’s hands probed his ribs for the one that had cracked last night, under the violent assault. Wait a minute. This was all wrong too. Michael, healing someone?
Max had heard about how Michael had pulled Maria back from the brink of death, but he knew his brother still wasn’t comfortable working the healing. On the other hand, this new frightening Michael from last night was utterly different from the one Max thought he knew. The hands continued further down, until they found their way in between Max’ thighs.
“No. Please. Not there.”
“Don’t be a baby. That’s where it hurts the most, right? Just relax and look at our lovely sister. It will be over in a second.”
Michael was right. One second, it still hurt as much as ever, the next, the pain was gone. Breathing was easier, and lying down didn’t feel quite as uncomfortable anymore.
“Told you it would be ok.”
Now Max was hoping Michael would finally leave him alone, but his brother just didn’t seem to be able to tear himself away. Michael’s face moved closer, and before Max had time to twist his head away, he felt Michael’s lips brush his. The kiss deepened, and Max could feel the tongue snaking its way inside his mouth. It was an odd sensation, being kissed by another guy, but at least it wasn’t painful.
With one last possessive touch, Michael was gone, leaving Max alone with Isabel.
She sat down on the side of the bed, and began to touch Max’ hair soothingly. The look on her face only spoke of love and gentle concern. But Max still couldn’t understand her calm acceptance of Michael’s behavior.
“Izz? Why are you doing this to me? Why is he?”
“Don’t you remember how it used to be, Max?”
“What are you talking about?”
“It used to be just you and me and Michael. That’s how it was supposed to be. We don’t need any outsiders. Not for anything.”
It took Max a while to realize that his sister was telling him it was ok for the three of them to have sex. That had to be what she was talking about.
“You mean -“
Isabel laughed a low, happy laugh.
“Of course I do. And you used to love it, I know you did. We got the visions and everything.”
“No. We never -“
“Yes we did. Don’t lie to me. Have you really forgotten about how it felt?”
No. She couldn’t be referring to that one incident. It was all wrong, but at the time, there really hadn’t been anyone else to go to. Isabel might have asked Michael but for Max there wasn’t anyone else. They had been 13. Isabel had wanted to know how kissing felt. Any boy in her class, and several others at their school would happily have offered their services, but Isabel hadn’t been able to trust anyone else. So they had kissed. Once. Just once. How could she use that as an excuse for – this?
“But we shouldn’t have done that, Izz. It’s wrong. We’re twins. I’m not your lover.”
“But you can be again. Why would it be so wrong? We’re not like them.”
This was said with a great deal of contempt. Just like Tess –
But she went on as if she hadn’t heard him.
“Come on, Max. Tell me how it was. You didn’t seem to hate it. And you can’t lie to me. I know you loved it as much as I did. That’s why we kept on doing it, until you met Liz.”
“No. You know that’s not true. We only kissed once.”
“Why are you doing this to me? Don’t you love me anymore, Max? It can be that way again. Just stop fighting it.”
While she was talking, her fingers travelled down his body, gently, but expertly. Max tried to move away, but her smiling face somehow forbade any such reaction from him. She wouldn’t hurt him. If only he could think clearly. Maybe she was right. They were different. Humans didn’t have sex with their sisters. At least he assumed they didn’t. But they weren’t like others.
If she was right, maybe he was putting Liz through some horrible risk, just by sleeping with her. He should let Kyle have her. They were both human, and Kyle was a great guy.
No. Max couldn’t imagine letting go of Liz. It was one thing, sharing the experience with his friend Kyle. But it was quite another letting him take over. Liz was –
“Don’t fade out on me, Max.”
And the way her fingers toyed with him, was provoking a reaction in his body. One that he tried to fight down. This must be how she touched Alex – No.
“Izz, please don’t do this.”
But she ignored his pleas and lay down beside him, putting her arms around him.
“Sh. Don’t talk. You should get some sleep. I’ll be here. Michael won’t be back until later. It’s just you and me, Max. I’d never hurt you. You know that, don’t you?”
“Then sleep. I’ll be here when you wake up.”
Her voice was having an almost hypnotic effect on Max. Within minutes, he had fallen into a deep, dreamless sleep.
She had been telling the truth. When Max woke up again, she was still lying beside him, her head resting on his shoulder.
“Max. Feeling better?”
No. He didn’t think he’d ever feel better, but at least the pain was gone, and he felt less terrified of Isabel’s presence.
“I guess so.”
He couldn’t believe his lack of enthusiasm didn’t filter through to her, but she apparently took his words at face value.
“That’s good. I’ve missed you, Max. Those humans can never come close to what we can share.”
Again, she let her hands add emphasis to her words.
“Don’t do this, Izz, please.”
“You don’t love me anymore? Is that it? You love Liz instead.”
“Yes, I love you. But you’re my sister -“
“Exactly. Who can be closer to you than I can?”
That was true, but every fibre of Max’ being rebelled against the thought of – incest. But what he and Tess had been doing, what had that been, other than incest? Whatever their memories from their former lives, on this planet, they were siblings. Quadruplets. Born from the same womb.
But a little voice at the back of Max’ mind whispered to him. The temptation existed. And no one else would ever know. He remembered that kiss. How turned on he’d been.
But that was sick. Isabel was his sister. Not his lover.
Those hands really knew what they were doing. Despite the dizziness, despite the fear, Max could feel his body responding to Isabel’s skillful touch. Now she was moving further down and –
But she ignored him, and continued with what she had planned. Max mind was flooded with conflicting impulses. That sensation was – irresistible. No one had ever – But his sister, his own sister, his twin, shouldn’t be doing this. He wanted to move away from her, but found that he couldn’t. Her mouth – Oh, no, please – Yes. Don’t stop. This felt too good. And his conscience was silenced for the moment.
When it was over, she got up to leave. Now that the rush of desire had left him, Max felt sick. How could he have let her – He was sick. A pervert. If he ever managed to leave and go back home, how could he face his parents, his friends – Liz?
What was wrong with him? If only this was Tess’ doing somehow. None of this could be real. But it sure felt real. All of it. Isabel and Michael were like light and darkness. But what was the difference really? In a way, what he and Isabel had done was worse. He had enjoyed it. It had been just as arousing as anything he and Liz had ever done, or he and Tess.
He wasn’t left to wallow in self-pity for very long. His next visitor was Michael. And much as he hated seeing him, there was something he needed to do, and he knew Michael could help him.
Michael walked right up to the bed, and seemed to be about to lie down next to Max.
“Wait. I need to go to the bathroom.”
Though Max tried his best to stall, it seemed to him he was back in that bed far too soon. And nothing he could think of to say or do, could stop Michael from getting into bed with him. The nightmare started over again.
“Don’t move about so much. Didn’t Isabel explain this to you?”
“Yes, but she’s -“
To his astonishment, Michael stopped what he was trying to do and seemed about to listen. The relief washing over Max was immense. Anything to put this off just a little while longer.
“Yeah? What about her?”
“She’s wrong. We can’t do this.”
Put like that, Max didn’t really know what to say. If they didn’t see how wrong all this was, how could he explain to them?
“It’s just wrong.”
“Sure doesn’t feel wrong to me, bro. If you’d lighten up a bit, you’ll learn to like it too. Like you used to.”
“But we never -“
“You’re in denial. Tell me, can Liz really make you feel this way?”
Feel what? Intense, excruciating pain? Of course not, and that wasn’t even the point. How could Michael act like what he’d done to Max was completely natural?
Now Michael’s hands began to move across Max’ skin again, roughly, then more gently, then more roughly again. To Max’ horror, part of him was beginning to respond to some of those touches. He didn’t want that. So what was wrong with him? Knowing it was useless right from the start, Max still couldn’t stop himself from trying to reason with Michael.
“Please. Don’t do this.”
No. A hand was closing on him and – No. This was worse than before. He tried to move away, but Michael was too strong, and too skillful.
“How about this? If you really want to do it like a couple of girls, we can. But it isn’t half as much fun, is it?”
When Michael had brought Max to climax, he grinned suggestively.
“There. Now that I’ve been soo nice to you, aren’t you going to do something for me?”
What was he asking now? Max couldn’t think and all he wanted was to run away and hide somewhere.
As if running out of patience with Max, Michael now took his brother’s hand and guided it to a spot where – No. He couldn’t do that. He just couldn’t.
“Alright. Suit yourself.”
What was Michael doing? When the truth suddenly dawned on Max, he again panicked. Knowing it was useless trying to get away, couldn’t stop him from making frantic efforts anyway. But Michael really was straddling his face and –
“What about that handjob then?”
“Yes. Ok. Anything. Just get off me.”
“Now is that a way to talk to your lover?”
For a horrible second, Max thought Michael was going to force the issue, but finally, he moved away and returned to his former position next to Max. Looking away, his eyes closed, and trying his utmost to pretend he was somewhere else, doing something else, Max gave Michael what he wanted.
Max was lying on a bed, and Michael was with him. Kyle couldn’t understand what it was he was seeing. But the look on Max’ face clearly told Kyle the distress he was in. This was impossible. The revolting scene momentarily distracted Kyle from noticing something he should have picked up on right away.
That wasn’t Michael. He might look like him, but it wasn’t Michael. Kyle wasn’t sure how he knew, but that was not the moody boy he knew from school.
That was a relief. Kyle didn’t think he would ever have been comfortable around Michael or Max again, if that had been true. But what was that other guy doing with Max? No. Kyle could see what he was doing to Max. The question was why- And how could this be possible?
Max was in California. Or was he? How could Kyle be seeing something like this? And as if that thought had called attention to something else Kyle had missed to begin with, he now realized he was asleep. This was a dream. A particularly disturbing nightmare, but even so.
There were times Kyle dreamt of Tess and what she’d done to him. Far worse, he’d occasionally had less terrifying, more exciting dreams about the secret he and Liz and Max shared. But this? Filled with revulsion, Kyle struggled to break free of the dream, and came awake, exhausted, soaked through with perspiration.
Just a dream. But the question remained. Why had he had this sick, disgusting dream? It was bad enough to dream about watching Max and Liz making love, or having Max watch while Kyle and Liz were doing it. This was so totally sick, all Kyle wanted was to forget. If he ignored it, maybe he’d never have the same kind of dream again.
Your hormones could play tricks on you, Kyle knew that. He’d had weird dreams about having sex with other people at times. Mrs Kerr. Ms Topolsky. Once, a really twisted dream about Amy de Luca. But this? The only thing worse that Kyle could even imagine would be dreaming about having sex with his dad. Or his mom.
Suddenly a disturbing thought struck him. Liz had had real visions about Max. When those sick New York aliens had been trying to kill Max. Isabel had found Alex thanks to what she at first had believed to be dreams. What if this was a message? Max was in danger and needed his friends to help him out.
Struck by a sudden insight, Kyle now thought he knew who was responsible for the assault on Max. That New York alien. He rolled over and took a look at the alarm clock on his bedside table. 5.15. Too early to call Liz. But what if this was urgent? Max’ life could be in danger. If that pervert thought nothing of – doing what he was doing to Max, who knew what else he might be capable of?
Kyle decided to sneak out and go over to Liz’ place and climb up to her window. He’d done it before, after all. And he knew he’d be welcome at any time of the night or day.
Once outside her window, Kyle knocked softly on the pane. No response. Again. She had to be asleep. Maybe this was a bad idea. What would he say to her? It wasn’t until now, that Kyle thought of how this would sound. “I had a dream about Max and Michael in bed together”. Great. What would that say about him? A face appeared inside the room, startling Kyle out of his thoughts.
“Kyle? Is anything wrong? Come in.”
“Sorry to disturb you like this.”
“What time is it?”
“Ok. It’s chilly in here, so I’m going back to bed. Why don’t you join me? You look cold.”
“I am. But I don’t know – that’s not why I came.”
“Get in. I’m not talking about sex, silly. Let’s just warm up a bit.”
That did seem like a very attractive option. Kyle decided to humor Liz. He was the one who came to her room, bringing the chill early morning air with him. It was up to him to give her some of the sleepy warmth back. They didn’t say anything for a while.
“So what did you want to tell me?”
The moment had come. How was he going to explain what had sent him driving through the empty streets to find Liz, the only person who might understand?
“Yes. I think so. But this is so weird, I don’t know how to explain it. Do you get visions of Max?”
“You mean when we -“
This was totally unbearable, but Kyle knew he had to go on. If Max really was in danger, he’d have to ignore his own feelings of embarrassment.
“Then what do you mean?”
“Do you ever get dreams about him?”
There. He’d said it. Now all he had to worry about was how she’d interpret his question. To Kyle’s surprise, Liz blushed a deep vivid red. She actually seemed bothered by his question.
“Yes. Sort of.”
This wasn’t helping. They’d have to know for sure what they were discussing.
“Dreams where he’s – uh – having sex with people?”
A long wary pause. Then Liz turned to face him. Please, don’t ask.
“Yes. You get them too?”
“I don’t know.”
Great. He was really making himself clear. And he knew Liz must be suspecting all kinds of things.
“What do you mean? Did you have a dream about Max?”
“And he was having sex with someone? Me?”
“Uh – no.”
“Of course not. I’m not gay.”
“Who was it?”
“Actually, this dream was really horrible. He wasn’t exactly having sex as much as being – raped.”
“Oh. Who was raping him?2
“This is really sick. It was Michael. But it wasn’t Michael.”
“Did you have this one too?”
“Sort of. And another one where he was with – no, it wasn’t her, but it looked like her.”
“Isabel? That’s just as sick.”
“I know. But I kind of have lots of dreams about Max so I didn’t really understand that something might be wrong.”
Oh. If Liz dreamt about Max in bed with various people, what if – Better not dwell on that.
“But now? You think something’s wrong?”
“I don’t know. He called me from California, and he said everything was just great. But that’s what’s so odd. He sounded different, somehow. What if it wasn’t Max? Who do you think it was who was – raping him?”
“That weird alien from New York, what’s his name again?”
“I don’t – oh, yes. Rath. Of course. They shape-shift. Just like Nasedo. We have to do something. Like go to Isabel and Michael and tell them what we’ve found out.”
No way. If the others found out about this – Kyle would rather die. But that was what might happen to Max if they didn’t do something soon.
“Couldn’t you -“
“They know about you and Max, right?”
“You mean after Tess? I don’t think so.”
“But they know how it used to be between you.”
“Yes. What are you getting at?”
“There’s no way I’m telling anyone I had this dream. Why don’t you tell them?”
“Ok. No problem. Well, not much. I won’t tell them about my – other dreams about him.”
“There’s no reason why you should. You know, I sometimes dream about you. You and me.”
“Me too. Look. It’s nearly 7. Maybe Isabel and Michael will be awake soon. We have to find out the truth about Max. Maybe Isabel can dreamwalk and find him.”
“Yes. Ok, let’s go. I brought the jeep. We’ll say you called me to ask me to drive you.”
Isabel wasn’t up yet. In fact, she proved extremely difficult to rouse at all. Alex was the one who came to the window, and when he saw his friends outside, he hurriedly put on some clothes to go and let them in.
“Hey, guys. What’s up? Izz is sleeping. Actually, I was too.”
“I know. Sorry. It’s just that we have important info for Isabel. And Michael.”
“I’ll go wake Izz up. Liz -“
“Do you think you could make some coffee? Before breakfast Izz tends to be a bit – incoherent.”
“I know what you mean. Maria never wakes up until after breakfast either. Ok. I’ll do that.”
Fifteen minutes later, a time during which Kyle and Liz heard all kinds of protesting screeches, and not so hospitable suggestions regarding the uninvited guests, Isabel finally showed up. Her hair was still wet, and she was wearing a dressing gown.
When she caught sight of her visitors, she frowned in dismay. It was as if she’d hoped they would have taken the hint and left. But Liz didn’t let this deter her. Instead she held out the cup of coffee Alex had requested, and though Isabel’s expression never changed, eventually, she accepted the coffee.
Drinking it fast, she finally appeared to focus on Liz and Kyle.
“Ok. Make it fast. You told Alex you had some info about the enemy? Which one to be precise? Tess or Nicholas?”
“Then who was it? I don’t have all day. There’s still school to consider, remember?”
“But it’s Saturday -“
Isabel ignored Kyle’s remark and continued staring pointedly at Liz.
“It’s Max. I think he’s in trouble.”
“Max? What makes you say that?”
“I had a vision about him. He’s in trouble.”
“That’s impossible. You just had a nightmare. I guess you miss him.”
“No. This was too real for that.”
“I don’t see how it’s possible. He calls mom every day. She’s a bit worried too, actually, but that’s only natural.”
As if it was unnatural for Liz to worry about Max. Isabel really was arrogant.
“I don’t have an explanation for you. He called me too, but he sounded different. A bit strange. I didn’t think about it at the time, but now I’m beginning to wonder.”
“Ok. What made you think he was in trouble? That vision – what was it about?”
“He was – Someone was hurting him.”
“Who was it?”
“I think it was Rath and Lonnie.”
“But they’re dead. Tess -“
Isabel broke off, as she realized that anything Tess had been involved in might now be open to different interpretation in light of later developments.
“I guess we can’t know that for sure. What were they doing to him? Trying to get information? They weren’t going to hand him over to – those up there?”
Liz hesitated. This was a bit awkward to say the least. How could she tell Isabel that Lonnie had been using Isabel’s appearance to – sexually assault Max? She could guess how Isabel would feel about that.
“Well, spit it out, for crying out loud. Alex and I have to go in a minute.”
“We do? Oh, yes, I guess we do.”
“They were – uh – assaulting him.”
“Assaulting? Using their powers or what?”
“Izz. I think Liz means – sexually assaulting him? Weren’t you, Liz?”
“Uh – yes.”
“They? Both of them? It doesn’t make sense. Max would never let them get that close.”
“I think maybe that’s because – they didn’t look like themselves.”
Isabel sighed. Why couldn’t that tiresome girl just get on with her tedious story, which Isabel didn’t believe for a moment? Liz just had a dirty mind, which was kind of amusing, but still rather tiresome.
“And who did they look like? Bonnie and Clyde? Bill and Monica? Would you get on with it, before I fall asleep again?”
“I can’t believe you aren’t taking this more seriously.”
Isabel directed a cold stare in Kyle’s direction. Until now, Buddha boy had kept quiet. That was the way Isabel liked him best anyway. Naturally, he would side with Liz. It made Isabel wonder which one of those guys Liz really was seeing, if that was the word.
“He’s your twin brother and he’s in danger, but you don’t seem to care.”
“How do you know he’s in danger? Because Liz told you?”
Kyle felt a telltale blush creep over his face, and looked down, hoping that somehow his facial color would escape Isabel’s keen eyes.
Incredible. He was lying. Why? Isabel was hoping it didn’t mean Kyle had had the visions too. That would have to mean – No. No way. Not Max and Kyle. Unless – Impatiently, she shook her head. She wouldn’t let herself get sidetracked by this type of thinking.
“Ok. Why don’t I call mom and check on how Max has sounded on the phone these last couple of days?”
Her voice betrayed just how accommodating she thought she was.
“Yes, why don’t you do that? And if you still don’t care about this, I’ll go and see Maria and Michael.”
“If that’s what you want to do. You were saying -“
“They don’t look like themselves. Rath and Lonnie. And I asked who they looked like. Mulder and Scully?”
“Very funny. I’m serious. They looked like you and Michael.”
This silenced Isabel, and drained all color from her face. If this was true then Max had to think – This had better just be a figment of Liz’ kinky imagination. If it was true –
“I’m going to call mom now.”
Her voice had lost some of its rancor. She picked up the phone and dialled the number, knowing that her mom would be up by now, having breakfast before work.
“Hi, mom. I was wondering about Max – Yes. I know. When he called you, did he say anything in particular? Or send his love to me or something? He did? Oh. In what way? I see. Why didn’t you tell me this sooner? I understand. You’re right. It’s probably just that Brodie was nearby. Yes, everything’s fine. Alex too. Talk to you later. Yes, love you too, mom.”
For a while, she remained standing, the receiver in her hand, a frown on her face, until Alex put a hand on her shoulder.
“Izz? What did your mother say?”
“What? Oh, well, actually, she thought he sounded different in some way. A bit strange.”
“That’s exactly how he sounded to me. Can you call Brodie and check if he’s really there?”
“No. I don’t have the number. Maybe Maria does. Isn’t she really fond of that weirdo?”
“Then ask her. I’m going to come along with you. Over to Maria’s and Michael’s place. At least Amy’s living over at Valenti’s -“
Kyle deliberately kept his face neutral. If he could only find a place of his own, he’d be spared the sight of his dad and Amy making out round the clock. Ok, maybe not making out. That would have been too gross. But the hand holding, smiling and mushy talk were nearly as bad.
“Just give me half an hour to get dressed.”
Liz raised her eyebrows. A half hour just to get dressed? What was this – some beauty pageant? Isabel had already showered. Now what did she have to do? But she knew that arguing with Isabel was useless, so she just contented herself with sitting down to wait. And in the end, it was just over twenty minutes, not half an hour before Isabel emerged from her room, fully dressed, and made up.
“Let’s go. What are you waiting for?”
As if they had been the ones to hold her up. Liz thought she could detect some embarrassment on Alex’ face, but she wasn’t sure. He kept looking at Isabel with so much love Liz blushed again. This was so private, she felt as if she and Kyle were trespassing.
It didn’t take them long to get over to the de Luca house. Maria hadn’t changed her name when she got married, any more than Isabel had. On the other hand, neither had their husbands.
What did take a while, was gently breaking the news to Michael. Though Maria was by his side the entire time, he looked like he himself had been the victim of the attack. His face drained of all color, and for a while it seemed no one’s words got through to him.
His brother Max. Someone who looked just like him. What if Max really thought – The thoughts went round and round in Michael’s head, and he wasn’t jolted out of his gloomy contemplation until his sister placed a hand on his arm. He jumped, as if her gentle touch was an enemy attack, but finally settled down. Maria held on to his other hand, speaking quietly and soothingly into his ear.
For once, Isabel was happy Michael had someone like Maria. It was amazing how different he was from the moody, provocative boy he’d been until he met Maria.
“Michael? What do you think? Could this be real?”
“I hope not.”
Liz approached them and caught Maria’s eye.
“Did Brodie leave you a phone number where you can reach him in California?”
“Not exactly. His wife was going with him and he was so happy, I don’t think he paid much attention to me. But I do have his cell phone number.”
“Ok. Michael? I’m going to get that number, but I’ll be right back.”
“Oh. Sure. You don’t have to baby me. Go on. Call the weirdo. We have to know.”
For once, Maria didn’t have any trouble locating the piece of paper where she’d written down Brodie’s number. She punched in the number right away. Brodie was going to pick up, even if he was in Disneyland, she knew that. And she was right.
“Brodie? Hi. Enjoying California? You are. That’s great. Listen, could you give me a number where I could reach Max? What? He did? No, that’s ok. I’ll call him at home then. Never mind. Nothing major. Talk to you later. Have fun. Oh, that’s sweet. Tell her I said hi. Bye.”
The look on Maria’s expressive face had already warned them of what she was about to say. Her eyes opened wide and her mouth became a startled O.
“You’ll never guess what Brodie said.”
“Stop the theatrics and tell us.”
That earned Isabel a dark look from Michael.
Maria herself was so agitated, she missed Isabel’s remark entirely.
“He said Max never made it to California. Apparently, Max called and said some family emergency had come up.”
“Did he mention anything about the way Max sounded?”
“I couldn’t exactly ask, could I? But he did mention that Max was upset. That probably means his voice sounded different.”
Liz fixed Isabel with a stare that would have chilled anyone else.
“That’s your answer. Max is missing. What are you going to do about it?”
By now, the seriousness of the situation had begun to sink in. Isabel looked every bit as pale and drawn as Michael did.
“I don’t -“
“What about dreamwalking?”
The suggestion had everyone turning in Alex’ direction. Of course, he’d know. Isabel’s dreamwalking had been what had saved his life, when he’d been abducted by Nicholas, and everyone else had believed him dead.
Alex put an arm around Isabel and tried to get her to sit down. As usual, it was as if she didn’t notice.
“Yes. I’ll try. But I don’t know if I can – And another thing. They’ll know. And if we give them advance warning, there’s no telling what they’ll do to him.”
“Maybe you should call my dad. He could call in a few favors from the sheriff’s department and -“
“I’m not sure if that would be wise.”
“Well, think about it. They’ve got powers. And they look like the two of you. If the sheriff has to shoot, how will he know which one is which?”
Isabel was too stunned to argue with Liz.
“Michael and I will go. But first we have to find out where they are.”
“I know. We could go out to the airport and try to trace them backwards from there.”
That was a great idea, and Isabel wished she’d been the first to think about it. But no matter how she felt about Liz, she had to admit the girl had brains.
“Ok. I’ll drive Liz out there. Any other suggestions?”
No. No one could think of anything else to do. But if all of them went out there, it would be sure to arouse suspicions, especially if Rath and Lonnie had been appearing as Michael and Isabel. Maria decided to stay with Michael, and Alex, not surprisingly, chose to remain by Isabel’s side, to give her whatever support he could.
“Maria? Can I borrow your cell phone? I didn’t think to bring mine.”
“That’s ok. I have mine in the jeep.”
“Take mine too, if Kyle’s shuts down.”
“It won’t shut down. I had it recharged last night.”
“Thanks anyway, Maria. We’ll call as soon as we know something.”
At the airport, Kyle ran into one of his old friends, who was now working as a mechanic. Nick didn’t know anything, but his girlfriend who had been on duty checking in passengers, had seen Max that day.
“He was with Michael Guerin.”
“Where did they go?”
“Out into the parking lot, I think. You’ll have to ask Roger. I think he was out there that afternoon. It was chaos, because of the weather and no planes could take off, if you remember.”
Roger had seen Max get into the car with the guy who looked just like Michael, but he couldn’t tell them where they’d gone. A dead end.
“I guess we should call in.”
“No. Let’s get in the jeep. You drive back to Roswell, slowly.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I don’t know. It’s not as if I have Isabel’s powers. Just, drive. I’ll call when we get closer to town.”
Kyle didn’t think there was anything to gain by cruising like this, but he shut up and let Liz take charge. He knew she had more brains than he did anyway.
“Stop. See that gas station over there. I know it’s a long shot, but what if they had to stop for gas?”
“Yes. It’s a long shot, but what else can we do? Ok. I’ll get out and ask. Willie’s an old buddy of dad’s. He’ll tell me if there’s anything to tell.”
“Kyle Valenti. How are you these days?”
“Fine. What about you?”
“Never been better. Your dad?”
“He’s fine too. Listen. A few days ago, the day of the storm. Did any of my friends come by? Max Evans, and maybe Michael Guerin.”
“I didn’t realize that Guerin kid was a friend of yours. Yeah. He was here alright. Did something to the pump so he could fill the tank for free. Never saw him in that car before then either. If you ask me, he’d stolen it.”
“I see. Well, I’ll talk to him about it, if I see him. You wouldn’t know where they were heading?”
“No. But I think I know who could tell you. Arnold Richter. He was driving the same way. Back towards Roswell. He’ll be able to tell you if they turned off somewhere.”
“Ok, thanks. Will mr Richter be at the office?”
“No. I’d say he’s at home. It is Saturday.”
“Right. Thanks again.”
“If you do see that kid, tell him I’m going to report the incident.”
“No. Don’t do that. Michael’s a good guy. I’m sure this is all some misunderstanding. Maybe the pump malfunctioned.”
Willie stared at Kyle as if he wasn’t hearing him correctly, then he relaxed.
“You’re a good kid, Kyle. If that kid’s a friend of yours, of course you should take his side. I’ll tell you what. If he comes in and pays me the money he owes, I’ll forget about it. You’re right. He could have been in a hurry and didn’t think. Maybe. Just be sure to tell him, ok?”
Back in the car, Liz was eagerly awaiting whatever news Kyle might have.
“They were here. Rath did something to the pump so he could fill the tank for free. It looks like he’d stolen a car and the last thing Willie saw, they were driving towards Roswell.”
“Oh. I hope they’re nearby. It would save time.”
“I know. Anyway, Willie said Arnold Richter might know more. He was driving right behind them as they left.”
As it turned out, Mr Richter did have a bit more information. Enough so that a location could be pinpointed. If Rath and Lonnie were still there. Now it was time to report back to Isabel and Michael.
As could be expected, Isabel and Michael wanted to leave right away. The others agreed about the need for immediate action, but they all objected to being left behind.
“I don’t have time to argue. You’re staying here, and that’s final. Michael, tell them.”
“Yes. I have to agree with Izz. You’d get hurt. Please, Maria. Don’t fight about this.”
“I’m sorry, Michael. We’re all going. When we get there, you and Isabel can go in and fight those two, but we’ll be outside, waiting. You didn’t seriously think I’d accept being left behind?”
No. Of course not. When did Maria ever listen to reason? Besides, they all felt this way, Michael could see it in Liz’ eyes, in Kyle’s and Alex’, just as he knew Maria would never leave him, not matter what happened. Her love filled him with pride, but did nothing to relieve his concerns.
“What? You’re going to let her come?”
“Yes. We can’t stand around arguing while Max is – You’ll let Alex come too, won’t you?”
“And we’re going too. Max needs us. “
“Fine. Don’t say I didn’t try to protect you. Let’s all go. If you want to end up in their hands, I can’t stop you.”
So they all ended up pouring into their cars. Maria’s, Kyle’s and Alex’. That was enough. Isabel wanted to drive Max’ car, but saw the futility of the gesture and got in beside her husband instead. There was no talking on the way out to the isolated farm house. What was there to say? They all knew that Max might be dead already. Even if he wasn’t, Isabel’s and Michael’s arrival might cause any kind of reaction among those sick New York aliens.
Isabel wouldn’t put anything past them. Though Ava hadn’t said anything, the girl had been traumatized by the time she’d spent with her siblings. And now Max, Isabel’s twin, was at their mercy. She was furious, and wanted nothing more than to be able to unleash her powers on that Lonnie girl. Lonnie had dared to lay her filthy hands on Isabel’s brother. It would be a pleasure to fry her. In her fury, Isabel ignored the fact that Lonnie was most likely many times as strong as she was.
They left the cars just after turning off the main road. From there on, they would walk. Again, Michael tried to reason with Maria about staying close to the car, but he knew it was useless, and when she utterly refused to listen, he gave in. He could tell that Isabel and Alex had had a silent struggle about the same thing, and again, she’d lost.
It was still daylight, so they would be clearly visible from inside the house, not to mention the fact that the New York aliens would be able to sense their approach. There was nothing to be done about that. Max needed them. Whatever happened from now on, was only what had to be done.
When they reached a burnt out shell of a car, Michael turned to Maria to plead with her one last time. He didn’t have much hope she’d see sense and listen to him, but he knew he had to try.
“Please. For once in your life do this for me. I need to know you’re safe back here.”
She hesitated, and for a second he thought he was going to be successful. Her next words seemed to crush that hope.
“Aren’t they stronger than you? How can I let you go on your own when I might not see you again?”
“You will. I won’t let those freaks get me. Honestly. Since the last time we confronted Tess and Nicholas I’ve been working on my powers. I’ll be careful. Don’t put yourself at risk again. Remember the last time?”
Yes. She did. Or rather, she knew what had happened. She’d been seconds from dying. And Michael was right about one thing. There wouldn’t be anything she could do to help. If she insisted on coming, she knew she’d distract Michael. It was grating on her nerves to have to let him go, but she knew she had to.
“Ok. But don’t get killed. If anything happens to you, I’ll go in there, I swear I will. If you’re dead, I don’t want to live either.”
“You see. After hearing you say that, I can’t let them get me.”
With one last kiss, he let her go. He didn’t look back. If he did, he knew he wouldn’t be able to leave her. And he had to. His brother was in there. Whatever those bastards had done to him, they’d pay for it.
To his astonishment, he realized that Alex too had let himself be talked into staying behind. Maybe he intended to help watch over Maria, though Michael knew Maria was most likely better capable of saving her own skin than poor Alex. Or maybe, like Maria, he’d seen that his presence could only weaken Isabel.
Not until now did it occur to Michael to wonder why Max hadn’t been able to use his powers. Did they keep him drugged? Had they knocked him unconscious? But he forced himself to ignore the nagging concerns for his brother’s safety. They’d get to him in time. No other possibility could be considered.
They circled around the building to get to the back. Those freaks in there would be able to sense their approach, but the back seemed to give them a better chance of getting inside. A noise from behind him made Michael turn.
Of course. Liz and Kyle were with them. What in the world did they hope to accomplish? And why did Kyle feel so strongly about Max? But if those two wanted to throw away their lives, Michael couldn’t stop them. He couldn’t waste energy on protecting them. If they insisted on coming along, they’d have to watch out for themselves.
It didn’t come as much of a surprise that Lonnie and Rath were prepared for them. What they hadn’t expected, was that they felt the other aliens so clearly. Their hatred, their gloating, their certainty of eventual victory. Isabel began to fear that this might have been the intention all along. To draw them to their enemies, so they could be eliminated all together.
They were allowed to pass through the first room they entered, but they ran into Rath and Lonnie in the kitchen. It seemed both New York aliens noticed Liz’ and Kyle’s presence, but it was as if the humans were of no great importance.
At a hand gesture from Michael, Kyle and Liz backed out into the other room. They had noticed that there was another door leading to another part of the house. If they would be allowed to pass unmolested, there might be a way for them to get to Max. That was a big if. From what Liz knew of the New York aliens, their powers were superior to those of the untrained Roswell aliens. But she forced that thought down, determined to take one step at a time.
Cautiously opening the door a crack, Liz peered through, and not seeing anything alarming, she waved at Kyle to follow. That was not the way he wanted things to be.
“Let me go first.”
“Why? We’re wasting time.”
She was right. All that mattered was finding Max quickly. Whoever walked ahead would most likely only die seconds before whoever walked last. But if they hurried, there was still a chance. At least Kyle wanted to tell himself that. He resolutely pushed down the thoughts of what Max would already have had to endure.
All the time, they were painfully aware of the sounds of the struggle between the good and the evil aliens. That was how Kyle thought of it. Star Wars. The forces of good versus the forces of evil.
The house seemed to be larger on the inside than on the outside. Also, the layout of the building was different from that of a modern house, or the person who had built the house had had his own ideas about architecture.
It occurred to Kyle that maybe his grandfather would be able to tell him who used to live here, but that thought didn’t help him find Max.
He opened the door in front of him, reasonably sure that the struggle was keeping Lonnie and Rath busy elsewhere. The small room they entered was empty, but there was another door, leading further into the house.
“What if they’ve taken him somewhere else? There might be other buildings on the grounds, and all kinds of places they might be hiding him -“
“I know, but let’s search through the house before we go outside.”
Liz’ instinct proved to be right. In the next room, there was a bed, and in the bed, someone was lying. He heard them come in and cowered into a corner, to get as far away as possible from the newcomers.
There was no reply, except for a strangled sound of distress. Liz knew she was taking a risk by approaching Max, in this state, but she also knew that nothing in the world would keep her from him.
“It’s me, Liz. And Kyle’s with me. We’ve come to take you away from here.”
A shudder passed over the huddled form on the bed, but there was still no reply.
She moved closer, and held out a hand to touch Max, to comfort him, to reassure him, but he twisted away from her. Despite all that agitation, he moved slowly as if he wasn’t quite awake. It struck Liz that he must be drugged in some way, drugged or affected by their powers.
“I swear, it’s me. Look. There’s Kyle. We’ll get you out of here.”
And exactly how are you going to do that, Liz? You can’t carry him. She looked over her shoulder and nodded for Kyle to approach too. Knowing what Max had had to go through, she wasn’t sure he’d accept Kyle’s touch, but that was the only way to get him out, so it had better work.
Time was slipping away, and her skin crawled as she imagined one of the New York aliens coming into the room, before she and Kyle could get Max away. Still, she couldn’t risk distressing Max further, so she forced herself to act calmly and rationally. Sitting down on the side of the bed, she began to speak soothingly to her lover, hoping that her words would be able to reach him where her touch couldn’t.
“Max, it’s going to be ok, if we can get you out.”
“Yes. We’ve come to take you away. Please, come with us. Can you walk?”
It seemed her words were finally getting through to Max, and there was a flash of recognition in his eyes. But she had to repeat her question twice before he responded.
“Max, can you walk? Or do we have to help you?”
“I don’t – No.”
“Try to sit up.”
And to her intense relief, he finally let her support him, so he could sit. Now she saw that he wasn’t wearing any clothes, but she pretended not to notice. Time enough to deal with his trauma later.
When she put his arm over her shoulder, he didn’t resist, and Kyle moved closer to take the other arm. Painfully aware of the time that was ticking away, Liz got to her feet and with Kyle’s help, she began walking towards the door. Max hung limply between them, as if he was only half-conscious. At least he didn’t resist. Holding her breath, Liz was finally able to thread her way through the house, and back to the room by which they had entered.
She couldn’t believe no one tried to stop them. They were able to get back to where Maria and Alex were crouching in cover of the burnt out car.
“It’s me. Liz. We have Max.”
“What about Izz?”
“They’re still fighting those creeps.”
And when they looked over in the direction of the house, they could see bright flashes of energy, from the violent struggle inside.
Would their friends and lovers be able defeat their enemies? Not until now did the seriousness of their situation sink in. If Michael and Isabel lost the battle, they all knew they’d be lost too.
As soon as she saw her double, Isabel was filled with intense hatred. How did that piece of filth dare to take her appearance? And worse still, how could she think she’d be able to get away with molesting Isabel’s brother? She’d pay. Now. This very instant.
Isabel hadn’t intended to waste any breath on talk. All she wanted was to blast that bitch away, the sooner the better. But Lonnie appeared to find the attack amusing. Distantly, Isabel was aware of Michael taking on Rath, but for the moment, only she and Lonnie existed.
“How sweet. The loving sister to the rescue. I should have known you’d be jealous and come after me. Would it interest you to know just how much Max loves you? Or should I say in what way he loves you?”
“Love? You wouldn’t know the meaning of the word. In your twisted mind, I’m sure there isn’t any difference between love and sex. But for civilized people -“
“Civilized? How extremely boring. We have a lot more fun.”
“Why don’t you just shut up and get this over with?”
“Get what over with, Isabel?”
By now, Isabel was running out of patience with this pervert who was wearing her face. She braced herself and fired off a bolt of energy. It was as forceful as the one she’d used on the skin she’d killed a few years ago, but Lonnie only shook herself like a cat and laughed in her face. Isabel had to remind herself that the bitch was only acting tough. That had to have hurt. Intrigued by the thought of Lonnie’s reactions Isabel cast her mind forward to read her enemy.
Almost immediately, she realized it was a mistake. Lonnie might not be able to keep her out, but apparently she could choose what thoughts she revealed to her enemy.
…a bed, with three people. They were – No. How revolting. Rath, Lonnie and – was that Ava? No, judging by the hairdo, and makeup, it had to be Tess. Gross. Rath was on top of Lonnie, but now he moved off her, and – moved back to watch – Isabel felt bile rise in her throat – Lonnie pulled Tess into her arms and kissed her. Lingeringly. Her hands began to move down Tess’ body and…
No. Isabel had had quite enough. If she saw any more, she’d –
With an effort she pulled herself out of Lonnie’s poisoned mind. The insane laughter assaulted Isabel’s ears. Quickly she thought of a sharp retort, to silence the enervating noise.
“Too bad your little girlfriend isn’t here to help.”
“What’s the matter? Disappointed that you didn’t think of doing that before she left? Come on, don’t be shy. You and I are just the same. If I like it, how do you know you wouldn’t? And what about that hot little brunette? Liz? Why don’t you try it with her?”
“Why don’t you just shut up?”
Another volley of energy left Isabel’s hands and this time, they hit Lonnie straight in her grinning face. But for every hit Isabel scored, Lonnie got in two. With every blast, Isabel took one small step backwards, and she felt herself weakening, little by little. If she couldn’t think of something soon, Lonnie would win. And there was no way she could let that happen.
One of Lonnie’s blasts hit Isabel’s hands. The pain was close to unbearable, and Isabel thought she could smell burning flesh. Suddenly, something occurred to her. What if she could absorb more of Lonnie’s energy and turn it back on her? Could she bear the pain? There was only one way to find out.
The next time Lonnie hit her, Isabel did nothing to defend herself. She stood her ground, taking it all in, though her knees nearly buckled under the assault. For a second, she could see the bones in her hands through the flesh. Just when she thought she wouldn’t be able to bear it any longer, she realized that the energy was still inside her, adding to her own strength. Now if only she could cast it forth one more, final time.
Though she was sagging to her knees, Isabel gathered all her power in one final blast. Isabel had a hard time staying conscious, but she thought she could see Lonnie’s smug grin replaced by a hint of doubt. But the effort was proving too much for Isabel. Her vision blurred and she could feel herself falling, falling, falling.
In the meantime, Michael was finally facing the man who had – Michael had always been filled with anger and hatred, for as long as he could remember. Those feelings had abated a bit after he met Maria, but they were still there, and now they came rising back up to the surface. Still, Michael knew that if he lost his temper now, he’d lose the fight. His sister Isabel and his brother Max had taught him about keeping his head. With an effort, he forced himself to keep his cool.
“Well, well, well. It’s a bit like looking into the mirror, isn’t it? How do you like me?”
Michael didn’t dignify that with a reply. He knew Rath was trying to bait him, but for once, that tactic wasn’t going to work.
“You’re right. Too boring. Why don’t you try dyeing that hair of yours? And while you’re at it, either grow it longer, or shave it off entirely. Did anyone ever tell you you look like an altar boy? Sexy, but boring.
By the way, your brother is really hot too. Lonnie and I could really get into that. That’s why we can’t let you come and take him away from us. Not before we’ve turned him around to our way of thinking.
But the good news is, you can all play. Especially you. Think about it. Wouldn’t it be cool to do it with yourself? I know I’ve always wanted to try that. Well, for real. Not just the usual way. You know. Of course you do. I can just see you, lying all alone in your little bed, playing with your little -“
Michael shut off the rest of Rath’s sentence by a well-placed energy blast that singed Rath’s altar boy hair. Altar boy? He’d show him what an altar boy he was. But Rath didn’t miss a step, he just raised his hand and fired off another blast, which hit Michael in the chest, and had him staggering backwards.
The next one glanced off his shoulder, and though it didn’t cause any serious damage, Michael could feel himself weakening. So soon. Rath really was much stronger than him. But that wasn’t good enough. He had to think of something.
And suddenly, he had an inspiration. Lonnie. This creep sure seemed attached to his sister. What if –
“Speaking of siblings – Your sis is really hot too. And you know what? It seemed my feelings were returned, because when she was in Roswell, we had time for a quickie. She told me that you were such a disappointment to her. No stamina. You should have seen her, and heard her. That was one happy chick. When was the last time you made her scream?”
As easy as that. Rath’s face fell, and for a second, his new face wavered, and he lost the shape. Back was the old Rath, hairgel, makeup and all. And Michael took advantage of the momentary loss of concentration and blasted Rath with all he had. Incredibly, that seemed to be enough.
Rath lost his tough posture and stumbled backwards. But Michael had used up too much strength, and the second Rath’s attack wavered, Michael blacked out momentarily. When he came to, there was no trace of Rath, or of Lonnie.
Behind him, Isabel was struggling back to her feet.
“Did you get her?”
“I don’t know. But she’s gone. Someplace. What about you? Did you get Rath?”
“He’s gone. But I don’t think he’s dead. We have to go look for Max and get back to the others.”
A faraway look got into Isabel’s eyes. Then her expression cleared.
“No. He’s outside. With the others. Let’s go.”
On the way out, they were straining their senses outward, trying to catch any advance warning of an impending attack. But they felt nothing, and they were able to get back to the burnt out car.
Since there was no trace of Lonnie or Rath, they just got into their respective cars, leaving it to the humans to drive back to Roswell. Though Isabel knew she hadn’t exhausted herself dangerously, she had had quite enough. She also knew Michael would be ok, but she didn’t like the tense look on his face.
Isabel insisted on taking Max home with her. She didn’t know how to explain Max’ condition to her mother, and even if that hadn’t been a consideration, she didn’t want to let her brother out of her sight. The others trailed along behind her, without protesting. It was as if no one wanted to be alone, after the shock of discovering Max’ situation, and the violent struggle against their enemies.
Once upstairs, Isabel ordered Liz and Kyle to put Max to bed in the guest room, before more or less collapsing on a chair. It was a while, before she felt strong enough to care for her brother. Alex anxiously hovered nearby, but knew better than to make a fuss over his wife. She’d just turn on him, and that wouldn’t help at all.
Maria wasn’t deterred by any of Michael’s objections to fussing. Ignoring his feeble protests, she forced him to sit down, and subjected him to a detailed physical examination, only slightly hampered by his clothes. None of his friends dared to even smile at her concern. There wasn’t anyone who wasn’t as worried about anyone else.
“It’s ok. I’m not hurt.”
“That’s what I’m trying to make sure of. Ok. You’re right.”
“No problem. Always happy to check you out.”
“I meant for not coming along. There was no way I could have protected you in there. “
“Ok. But that doesn’t mean I’ll always let you take all the risks. I’ll make up my mind in each situation.”
“I know you will.”
Their good-natured bickering was interrupted by Isabel, who suddenly declared that she was going in to check on Max. In the guest room, she shooed Liz and Kyle out, and sat down on the side of the bed. To her distress, there was a wary look in Max’ eyes, and she could tell that her arrival had made him tense up.
“What’s wrong, Max?”
“You – she – What happened?”
“What do you mean? We got you away from those two -“
“Who? I thought – Wasn’t it all some mind warp? Tess’ doing again.”
Oh, no. Max was hoping it had all been some kind of hallucination. For a second, Isabel hoped against hope that he was right. But there had been no trace of Tess, apart from that sickening memory inside Lonnie’s twisted mind. If Liz was right about getting visions about Max, and Isabel was forced to conclude she was, no matter how she’d wished she wasn’t, then what she’d seen had to be the truth.
“No. That was Rath and Lonnie. They had shape-shifted to look like me and Michael, but I’m afraid it was all real.”
Max’ reaction frightened her. She had never seen his face this white, not even when he’d succumbed to pneumonia after saving a dog from drowning in a pond, when he was 8. What Liz had seen, had to be true. Isabel had tried not to dwell on that, hoping that somehow, Liz’ visions would turn out to be false.
But there was no point in wishing for the impossible. She had to deal with reality. And the reality was that Lonnie had used her own appearance to have sex with Max. The very thought turned Isabel’s stomach, and she didn’t know what to say to Max. And he’d have no way of knowing that she already knew. She decided that if Max wasn’t going to tell her, she’d pretend she didn’t know. There was no reason to distress him further. But if he wanted to talk, she’d make herself accept it. She had to be there for him, no matter what.
“Izz – she -“
It was painful, watching him struggle for words, and Isabel instantly abandoned her original plan.
“You know? How? Did you dreamwalk?”
“No. Liz had a vision.”
“She saw it all? About Michael – Rath too?”
The pleading in his voice almost made Isabel break down and cry, but she could be as hard as steel when she had to, and she couldn’t let her twin down now, so she kept her calm.
“Yes. And she made us all start looking for you. I’d be the last to say it, but I guess you’re lucky to have her. If it hadn’t been for her and Kyle showing up early this morning, waking me up, hassling me until I agreed to go with her – Do you have any idea what they wanted?”
Max looked away, and Isabel could see his hands nervously twirling the fringe of a table cloth on the bedside table.
“Me, apparently. They didn’t tell me anything. Just – Izz, I’m sorry.”
“No, you have nothing to apologize for.”
“But I – I had sex with you.”
“No. With that creep, Lonnie. That’s different. They were the wrong batch, the ones who were thrown out. Remember?”
“She told me she was you, and she looked like you. And Izz – she knew about what we did.”
Being Max’ twin Isabel instantly knew what he was referring to, and now it was her turn to look away. She felt her cheeks heat up in shame. That sick bastard hadn’t been content with violating Max’ body, she’d also forced her way inside his mind.
“That’s no excuse for what she did. Max, we were kids. All twins do that, I think. Even humans. Others too, they just don’t want people to know about it. It was just a kiss.”
“No. Max, it’s ok. Don’t feel guilty. It wasn’t your fault. And anyway, I was the one who insisted on that kiss. You never wanted to. So if it’s anyone’s fault, it’s mine.”
“You didn’t force me.”
“No. But like I said, it’s ok. I’m not ashamed of what we did.”
“Have you told Alex about it?”
Isabel hesitated. This was so embarrassing.
“No. But I will. Tonight. He’ll understand. And I’m sure that if you tell Liz, she’ll understand too. It didn’t mean anything. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if little miss Proper has played doctor with someone when she was a kid.”
Max stared at Isabel and too late, she reminded herself that Max was in love with Liz. The last thing he’d want to hear was his sister using that tone when she was referring to the girl he loved.
“I’m sorry. Look, you must be tired. I’ll let you sleep now. If you want anything, just call.”
“Does Alex have any clothes I could use? I hate to be seen like this.”
Of course. Isabel was angry with herself for not seeing that Max would hate to be reminded of what those two perverts had done to him. She knew he wouldn’t want to discuss what Rath had done to him, so she didn’t even mention it.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Of course he does. I’ll send him in with something right now. Unless you want me to do it?”
“No. That’s ok.”
“Try to sleep now, ok?”
“If I can. I think – they must have drugged me. I couldn’t use my powers, or even walk.”
Again, she was filled with concern. What if Max was seriously harmed by this drug? They couldn’t exactly take him to a doctor. Now it occurred to her to wonder if Max might need some physical healing, and if so, if he’d tell her.
“Sorry for asking, but I have to know. Do you need me to heal you?”
He saw what she was getting at and once again looked away from her.
“Yes. I mean, no. You don’t have to do that. He did it.”
“He healed you?”
“I guess he didn’t want the game to end too soon.”
The bitterness in Max’ voice was painful.
“I see. Well, I’ll send Alex in with the clothes.”
Five minutes later, the door opened again, and Max expected it to be Alex, bringing the change of clothes. They wouldn’t fit very well, but he suspected that a bit of his alien touch might fix that, at least later, when he’d had a chance to rest. At the moment, he didn’t really care if the clothes he wore were too tight or too long for him. When he looked up, his eyes met Michael’s.
The reaction was instant. Max panicked and tensed up, and for a moment he couldn’t breathe.
To Michael, it very much looked like Max was going into shock or suffering a seizure of some kind. Alarmed, he walked closer, clutching the clothes Alex had given him like some sort of shield.
Seconds later, he realized he had been the cause of the attack. Max, his brother, was scared of him. After what he’d just been through, that was understandable, but the realization almost sent Michael into shock as well. Max had been – Someone who looked just like Michael had – Michael was unable to finish the thought, even inside his head. He sank to the floor, backed up against the wall and covered his face with his hands.
It had been ten years or more since Michael last cried, but this time, he couldn’t hold the tears back. He cried, like little Michael had done, after Hank beat him. That was before the abuse got worse. But little Michael had had no way of knowing where his life was going to take him. For him, the beating had been bad enough.
All the years that had gone by, all the emotional growth that had occurred, thanks to his brother and sister, but most of all Maria, was gone, had vanished in an instant. The pent up tension made Michael forget all about where he was, and who was with him. In his mind’s eye, Hank loomed above him, as tall as a giant, wielding the belt he used to punish the little boy he’d been given to care for.
“I didn’t do it. It wasn’t my fault.”
He was speaking to Hank, trying to avert the punishment he knew was coming, though deep down, he knew he was being punished merely for being different. For being a freak. Hank had told him so, often enough. Runt, freak, punk, lazy good-for-nothing, and more along those lines. He’d been told that he was worthless so many times, he’d started to believe it.
“Michael. Don’t cry. It wasn’t your fault. I knew all along that it wasn’t you. You’d never do something like that to me. But when I saw you – I just -“
“Yes. Who did you think I was?”
“Oh. No. He’s gone. Nasedo killed him. He’ll never hurt you again.”
“And I’d never hurt you. I’d rather die than hurt you.”
“I know. It wasn’t your fault.”
“But you thought it was me.”
“No. Not really. I thought it was Tess, mind-warping me again. But it wasn’t, was it? It really happened. Didn’t it?”
“That’s what Liz told us. She’d seen it in a vision.”
“Yes. Isabel told me.”
“I’m sorry. This should never have happened to you. Not to you. Every time it happened, at least I knew that you and Isabel were safe. No one would do it to you. You’d never know what it was like to -“
“Michael, what are you talking about?”
“What he did to you. Rath. The same thing Hank did to me.”
So that was it. Finally, Max understood what had made Michael so angry and hurt.
“I didn’t know that.”
“That’s because I didn’t want you to know. I thought I’d die if anyone found out.”
“You should have told me. I would have -“
“I’d have stopped him, somehow.”
“Maybe you would have. I didn’t think about that. All I could think about was how you and Isabel would see me differently if you knew.”
“How long did it go on?”
“The beating, ever since the start. That – other thing since I was about 14. Off and on. It depended on how much he’d been drinking. And if he had a job or not. Or if he was seeing some woman.”
“You should have told me. I would have done something. Talked to someone. Had you taken away from him.”
“Yes. You probably would have. I just couldn’t bear it if you found out.”
“I know what you mean. If Liz hadn’t had that vision, I would never have told anyone either. Of course, I guess my reaction as you walked in, sort of gave me away.”
“I wish I’d killed him.”
“Now I wish I had killed Hank. I thought even the beating was a recent development. When he lost his last job.”
“I’d never have told you that either, if I hadn’t had that bruise all over my face.”
As soon as he’d asked the question, Max knew the answer. Of course Michael didn’t want to appear weak and helpless. Neither did Max. No one he knew would like that. And to Michael, it had always seemed so important to appear strong, and tough.
“No. I take that back. I understand why not. Now more than ever.”
“I wish there was something I could do to help. But I know there’s nothing anyone can do. For what it’s worth, though, I’m feeling a lot better since I met Maria. Maybe Liz can do that for you too.”
“I hope so. Thanks, Michael.”
“For being my brother. And for understanding.”
“Thank you. If you and Isabel hadn’t been around, I wouldn’t be here now. I would have killed myself a long time ago.”
That chilled Max. He knew exactly what Michael was talking about. In the past couple of days, he’d come really close to that desperate resort. If it hadn’t been for his sister and brother – and Liz, and Kyle – he didn’t know what he would have done, if Rath and Lonnie had ever let him go.
At least the nightmare was over. Once again, his friends and his family had been there for him, for each other.
“Oh, I almost forgot. Here. Alex sent you those.”
Michael got up off the floor and threw the clothes on the bed.
“I’ll let you sleep now.”
“Ok. I’ll try.”
“If you like, I’ll send you something else that might help you sleep.”
“Oh. Yes, please. If she wants to, I’d like that.”
Liz came into the room so fast, Max thought she’d been sitting right outside, patiently waiting to be allowed inside. Max felt a momentary stab of guilt. He was taking Liz away from Kyle. But he subdued the guilt. Right now, he thought he needed Liz a little more than Kyle did.
“Michael said you might like some company.”
“Are you tired?”
“Yes, a bit. Kyle woke me up really early to tell me about this vision he had.”
“I thought you had that vision.”
Max winced when he realized that not only did all his friends know what had happened to him, but Kyle had actually seen it happen.
“I did, but I didn’t understand it was a vision. Kyle did. He doesn’t dream about you normally.”
When Liz’ meaning filtered through to Max, he blushed. Obviously, Liz was used to seeing him in all kinds of situations. He didn’t think he wanted to dwell too much on that.
“Kyle made me see that this had to be a true vision. So we went to see Isabel and later Maria and Michael.”
“Yes. Isabel told me. I just didn’t realize -“
“You healed Kyle. I guess that’s why -“
“Yes. I think so too.”
“But you healed Alex too, and I doubt if he has any visions about you.”
“No. But I guess Isabel’s taking up most of his thoughts. If you want, you could sleep here with me.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. If it’s ok with Kyle.”
“Of course it is. He’ll be ok. I think he’ll sleep on the couch or something. You have to get your own place. Then I’ll move in with you and -“
Max stared at Liz, unable to comprehend that she’d just said that.
“Did you really mean that? That you want to move in with me?”
“Yes. Maybe you could get a big apartment, and Kyle could be your room mate. In fact, we’ll all be room mates. That way we won’t have to explain anything to anyone. I know Kyle wants to get away from home.”
“Then why don’t we?”
“Yes. Why wouldn’t I be? I’d love to move in with you.”
“Well, I don’t make all that much money at the UFO center – But I guess we can manage. Maybe you’ll let me work at the Crashdown sometimes.”
“Oh, yes, that would be so great.”
She removed her cardigan and jeans, crawling into bed next to him, wearing only a top and her panties. Under other circumstances – But things were different right now. Still, whatever she was wearing, Max was really happy to have her nearby. To his astonishment, he even found himself wishing Kyle had been in the room. Not in bed with them, but somewhere close. It was ridiculous.
Now that the drug was wearing off, he’d be better capable of fighting off any attack than either Liz or Kyle. But logic had nothing to do with it. He suspected Michael and Maria would be going back to their own place if they hadn’t already done so, but at a time like this, he wanted all his friends and family around him. At least Isabel would still be in the house, if Lonnie and Rath were to come back.
“Do you think you’ll be able to sleep now?”
Liz was staring at him anxiously.
“I think so. Now that you’re here.”
“If you have a bad dream or anything, wake me, ok?”
“Ok. But I don’t think I will. I’ll feel your presence, even in my sleep.”
She smiled at him, and pulled him closer. They fell asleep like that, ignoring the fact that by the time they woke up, they’d be stiff and cramped, if they didn’t move apart in their sleep. It felt far too good to be this close. Liz would do anything in her power to help Max get over his trauma, and she knew Kyle would too. She would make sure he was ok somehow.
It felt good knowing that her side had won. The bad guys were gone, and now they would never let each other out of their sight. None of them. It was obvious that their enemies were everywhere, and it wouldn’t do to take your eyes off your friends for even a moment. Somehow, they’d keep each other safe.