I don't own Roswell or any of its franchise...sadly or we'd have that 4th season reunion.
I want to give a big shout out to my wonderful beta, marzmez - she's been there for me since...almost the beginning, if not as a beta than as a fan of the story and she's the reason that my story got finished since I couldn't have done it without her to bounce ideas of, figuring out if my plots and twists were viable overall. She's the best beta I've ever had and the most reliable too, and that's something there's a shortage of on this site, so please visit her site and give her some props or something. Thank you soooo much Marzmez for everything you've done!
A/N *Looks around the corner, armed with a spoon of all things* Well, that took a while, huh? I had it finished on the four year anniversary of first publishing, but sadly my lovely beta's computer crashed and I had to be patient, she was more stressed about it than me, borrowing a computer when correcting things on an ipad didn't work out too well... hehe, another reason to love her. To be honest, though I struggled like I've never done with this chapter. It just wouldn't end, I kept on writing and writing and I know it's bound to dissapoint some of you endlessly, but...that's just how it goes, I guess. I think a part of me didn't want to face the end honestly, I couldn't sit down and formulate a plan when it came down to it, but it finally happened and I'm sort of pleased with some of the aspects of this chapter and I still love this story despite all the pain it's caused me. Now, please enjoy your last visit to the TATT world that's taken me four damn years to write:) See you at the bottom..Oh, and MERRY XMAS TO ALL!
Last Time on Tatt - I do recommend you reread ch. 35 regardless:
Michael struggled with an angry Maria, so did everyone else. She was furious with being the only one not in the know about the future and the time travel. Liz staged an intervention of sorts to all but force the blonde to see reason. Things were said and done, Michael revealed he didn't want Maria to get her powers. Somehow during a mindmelt, Maria travelled to the past, met her emaciated and bitter self, came back to her senses and made up with Michael.
Things finally began to settle down after the explosive showdown with Khivar's men. The confrontation with Maria no less volatile, but that was also subsiding.
Remembering how they'd all just sat there, wanting the young woman to understand their reasons still gave Kyle a bad taste in his mouth. We sort of overpowered her, ramming our stories and beliefs down her throat, acting disappointed 'cause she didn't get it. How could she? She's the only one of us who's still slightly normal…At least until Michael somehow connected her to her former self. Now, that really blew all of our minds.
Kyle sighed, wiping his sweaty brow as he came to a stop from his run. His breath normalized quickly; he was in the best shape of his life at the moment, and he resumed his pondering. To his surprise, Maria herself had seemingly no problems with him anymore, which was weird after months of her snubbing him for being included in the "Czech-club". She now smiled tentatively at him in the school halls, and didn't object anymore if their teachers put them in the same group in class.
Frankly, it was freaking him out.
She behaved friendly; if a little cool toward all of them, except Liz for some reason. Kyle sat down to begin his stretching routine, recalling how Maria still avoided talking directly to Liz and never sat with them at lunch if she was present.
I guess it sort of makes sense, Kyle decided, groaning a little at the burn in his legs as he stretched for all his worth, she's Maria's best friend and being left out of the loop, no matter the reason, is gonna piss any decent friend off.
Kyle froze in the next moment, as a familiar truck turned onto the street and all thoughts of Maria and Liz's ongoing battle for peace or whatever it was, fled his mind completely.
Dad…Kyle swallowed a heavy lump of guilt, anger and regret all rolled into one as the police-car drew nearer and slowed down when its driver saw and recognized Kyle.
The memory of his dad from the original timeline battled on with the one from this life, how the Sheriff had all but demanded that Kyle leave his brother in arms, his friend and confidante behind because he didn't trust him after the shooting at the diner.
He's still here at least, a small part of Kyle's subconscious butted in, tearing away at the slight disappointment that he couldn't quite keep from feeling whenever he laid eyes on his father. He's not dead because he marched out into combat to buy time for the rest of us to escape. He's alive and you should really man up and remember that, Kyle told himself and awkwardly got to his feet when his dad pulled up next to him and stopped the car and got out.
"Hey, Son." The Sheriff's voice was hesitant and hoarse as they stood face to face for the first time in months. "Got a minute?"
Brushing the dirt from his pants gave Kyle a moment to figure out how to respond. He'd avoided his dad for months, ignored the calls and knocks on Michael's door that told him that angry fight or not, Jim Valenti wasn't ready to give up their relationship.
And to be honest, neither was Kyle.
"Sure," he finally murmured, taking the first step toward his dad. "Do you wanna go somewhere to talk or…"
"Anywhere you want is fine," was the eager reply, and Kyle felt a fresh surge of guilt at the sudden happiness and hope that exploded on the proud sheriff's weathered face.
"Let's go to the Crash," Kyle offered and unceremoniously got into the passenger-seat before his father could say or do much of anything.
Walking into the familiar diner was always sort of soothing to Kyle's nerves, and as soon as the scents of the place enveloped his senses, his heartbeat settled and he managed to give a sincere smile to his dad as they both made their way to an available booth.
Maria, who'd, walked in a few days after quitting and confidently demanded her job back from a rather guilty-looking and befuddled Jeff Parker was working that day, and she was the one to walk over to take their order.
"Hi, Kyle…Sheriff," she nodded politely at them, "can I get you something to drink?"
Kyle ordered a coke, while his dad just asked for a coffee and without another word; Maria turned and left to get it for them. Kyle watched her brush past a sad-looking Liz on her way, but decided his dad deserved more of his attention if they were ever going to figure out their differences, let alone make peace.
Just as he turned back to his father, a new, but familiar feeling blossomed in his gut, and Kyle couldn't repress a small, happy smile at its appearance. He noticed his dad's slightly confused look as he turned to look at the door, where, a second later Tess walked in with an equally bright smile on her face.
It still boggled Kyle's mind a bit, whenever he took the time to ponder the fact he was in a relationship with the Tess Harding. He'd spent more years than he cared to remember hating her with all his being, but now he was in love with her as well.
Life's truly crazy, Kyle thought as Tess' eyes landed on him and she began making her way over to him, the hate is gone, replaced by more happiness than I'd ever expected even when I was chasing after Liz when I was a teenager the first time. Hell, I used to somehow think of her as my sister for Christ's sake.
A quick flash of of all the non-sibling related things the two of them had been doing at Tess' place brought an uncomfortable lurch to his stomach, and Kyle quickly pushed those images away along with any memory of his past life's innocent feelings.
His dad's voice broke through Kyle's mind, and he quickly looked away from Tess and faced his dad, who looked like he'd been trying to get his attention a few times already, judging from the slightly exasperated expression he was sporting.
"Don't be, Son," the Sheriff said and glanced up at Tess, who finally reached their table, "Just introduce me to this young lady of yours that brings such joy to your mopey face and all's forgiven."
The second the words left the older man's face, Kyle caught a glimpse of hesitation on his face, as if his dad wasn't quite sure he was allowed to joke so soon after their first step to reconciliation. Kyle soothed him with another smile and held out a hand for Tess as he just casually did as his dad wanted.
"Dad, this is my girlfriend, Tess Harding. Tess, this is my dad, Sheriff Jim Valenti."
Tess nodded politely with a slightly awkward tint to her expression, and Kyle knew that for just one moment she'd remembered what she'd learned of her past life, how she and Kyle had once lived together as siblings. How she'd been a second child to the man sitting across from her boyfriend and lover.
Hopefully, Kyle thought, sending a small amount of comfort and teasing amusement through their connection, this time around she'll think of him as dad in another way, as her father in law…Someday.
"Nice to meet you," Tess' voice brought Kyle back out of his mind, and he nodded his approval, eyeing his dad for any tells of what he thought.
The sheriff was blank for a second, his eyes wandering from the blonde next to Kyle and back at him. Then, a genuine smile broke through and Kyle sighed in relief, not even bothering to think how important his dad's opinion was to him still, considering they'd been estranged for such a long time.
Tess turned to him, and Kyle couldn't keep his hands from gripping her slender waist as she spoke softly to him, "I'm gonna go chat a bit with the others. Isabel is still talking about how she's going on a date with Alex tonight and I'm pretty sure Liz and Maria could use a break."
Grinning, Kyle stood up and quickly planted a kiss on her lips before sitting back down to finally have the talk he so needed with his dad.
Apparently, though, his father wasn't quite ready to jump right into it in his usual blunt manner. Instead, he was looking at Tess walking over to the counter to chat up a smiling Liz and Isabel, whose smiles only dimmed a fraction when a stone-faced Maria walked by – ignoring Liz per her usual behavior.
"You look happy, Kyle."
Kyle bit his lip for a moment before nodding. "I am."
There was a long silence that wasn't weighed down with the usual awkwardness that had been present on their drive to the Crashdown and then Kyle froze up with surprise as his dad began talking in a rush, as if eager to get everything out in the open.
"I'm sorry I tried ordering you who to see and to be friends with. I know now that Max is a good kid, and I was too caught up in my dad's crazy ramblings to even give him a shot. I know you're a great judge of character, and I should've trusted you. You're my son and I love you and I don't want us to have the same relationship I've had the last thirty years with my old man. I want us to be close again – and before you say anything," the sheriff held up a hand in case Kyle would jump in and interrupt, "I know I'm to blame for us growing apart, my job has gotten in the way over the years, but I got so obsessed with what happened with the shooting last year and how strange things got that I lost sight of the only thing that matters, and that's you, Kyle. You're the only thing in my life that I can't bear to lose. So, please come back home and let's be a family again. Or just start with a weekly visit or something, I'll try to cook some edible food and not pawn you off with fast food as usual."
"Dad…" Honestly, Kyle was gobsmacked; he had no words to describe the mixed feelings of joy and guilt he was feeling at his dad's apology.
I kept things from him, compared him to my dad from the other timeline and found him wanting, Kyle thought, licking his dry lips, and yet here's that glimpse of him that I was missing. Even though he doesn't know the truth this time around, he's still willing to let everything, but his love for me go.
For the first time, Kyle truly felt what he hadn't been willing to accept before, his dad wasn't dead. In fact, he was very much alive and willing to patch things up between them despite Kyle not making the first move.
The nervousness in the older man's eyes wasn't a good look on him, in Kyle's opinion and he decided to take his dad's olive branch for what it was and try responding maturely.
"Dad," Kyle repeated softly, reaching out a hand and planting it over the one of his dad's that laid on the table, only to remove it quickly at the startled look in the older man's eyes. It didn't surprise Kyle though, neither of them had ever really been the touching kind, it always felt awkward. Sighing quickly, Kyle continued with what he wanted to get off his chest.
"We have stuff to work on and talk about before we can truly be okay," he ignored the saddened look the otherwise so proud man sported and continued on, "but…if you try to cook food for me, we won't live long enough to do that, so I'll cook. Deal?"
Kyle pushed away the shamed sensation in his gut when his dad broke out into the single most relieved grin he'd seen in his life and nodded back to him.
"That's a deal, Son. That's a deal."
At least it's a start; Kyle thought and glanced over at Tess when he felt her send a supporting wave of emotion through their bond, which he returned quickly. Then he turned his attention back on his dad to continue their talk with something a little less serious.
"Did I tell you, I'm a Buddhist now?"
The day's shift at the Crash was over, and Isabel wanted nothing more to go home and take a long hot bath to soak away all the stench of fried food and sweat. Of course, she thought as she changed into her own clothes, I could use my powers to get clean, but it's never quite the same as a nice soak.
Maria walked in and distracted her from her happy thoughts as sadness immediately swept over her. A part of her didn't regret the end result of the intervention that Michael had mustered up to reconnect, but most of all she just hated how attacked the vibrant blonde must have felt, how alone in the midst of people she was supposed to call friends.
But, Isabel reasoned, sending a small smile Maria's way when the blonde nodded politely at her with a small smile herself, at least I've talked with Maria about it all after we had the night shift together the other day and she's willing to work on everything instead of burying it inside again.
Isabel swallowed a small grin when she briefly thought about how the blonde that she'd once despised back when she was a teenager the first time around, had ended up being one of her closest friends, her sister.
"Why do you look so cheery?" Maria's voice distracted Isabel from her own thoughts, and she broke out into a beaming smile at the memory of what was awaiting her as soon as she finished getting dressed in her own clothes again.
"As you already know, I'm going out with Alex tonight. Well," Isabel amended with a vague gesture at her own figure, "first I've gotta wash the Crash's lovely perfume of my skin at home, but then Alex's coming over to take me to a movie."
"That sounds nice," Maria's expression seemed genuine, so Isabel nodded happily, unafraid of stepping on any toes, "I wish Spaceboy could wise up and learn a little from Alex sometimes. We've spent every free moment in his apartment going over everything from BTTM."
Isabel's brow furrowed in confusion, "Err…BTTM?"
Maria's eyes glinted with amusement, and Isabel briefly lamented the fact that she hadn't seen it for so long before tuning back into what the other girl was actually saying, "Before the Timetravel Madness."
She couldn't help but break out into laughter and after a hesitant second, Maria joined in and Isabel knew that, although slowly, things were being repaired with an even better foundation than they originally experienced.
"Well, I'm gonna head out," Isabel finished putting on her jacket and grabbed her backpack with a hurried smile, "I don't wanna keep Alex waiting more than I have to."
"Have fun," Maria shook her head with a smile dancing on her lips, "don't do anything I wouldn't do."
"That leaves it pretty open, don't you think?" Isabel snarked and barely avoided a mock punch to the arm as she danced through the door and out into the alleyway that lay behind the Crash. She had a much anticipated date to get ready for.
An hour later, Isabel was just putting the finishing touches on her hair when she absentmindedly tweaked the color of her dress to red as she remembered Alex's fondness for her in that particular color.
The doorbell interrupted one of the few truly fond memories she had of her first life in Roswell and the dream she'd walked in on way back when she was snooping on Alex.
"I'll get it!" Isabel all but screamed, jogging down the stairs with her heels firmly clasped in her hand. For the first time since arriving back in time, Isabel truly felt like a young girl, eager for an innocent date and shy glances. She was distracted by her own eager fantasies, and her mother easily cut in front of Isabel with teasing laughter erupting from her lips, when she reached the front door first to let Alex in.
"Good evening, Alex," Dianne greeted the tall teenager, whose eyes had immediately landed on Isabel standing behind her smaller mother. "Come on in, Isabel's just getting ready."
In that moment, the house phone rang and Dianne excused herself, leaving Isabel and Alex smiling lovingly at each other.
"Hi," Isabel said, looking at the dress pants and tight-fitting shirt that she'd bought him as a gift a few days earlier when she'd dragged him to the mall for some retail-therapy slash training his powers in large crowds with the myriad of emotions that come with them. "You look nice."
The bashful shrug that Alex sent her, made Isabel want to just give him a big hug and kiss. His lack of self-awareness about his cuteness was adorable and she hoped he never lost it.
"Stop that," Alex grinned when some of Isabel's feelings transferred to him both through their bond and his powers at the same time. Before she could say anything else, Alex continued with a soft look in his eyes that made Isabel's heart thump irregularly. "You look beautiful, Isabel."
Isabel basked in the whole concept of dating Alex, finally having forgiven herself for fighting her attraction to the human in the original timeline.
"Well, let's go, shall we?" She smiled and held out a hand for him to take, but just as their skin connected, Isabel's mom came back from the kitchen and stopped them from leaving.
"Isabel, honey, I need a big favor." Her eyes imploring Isabel to listen as she continued quickly, "I'm so sorry to do this, but Dad just called. He needs a file from his study, and since I promised you the car and Max is at Michael's place," Isabel barely stopped herself from scoffing, knowing full well that her brother was in fact at Liz's place, probably having the time of his life, "I can't bring it to him…unless you want to wait here while I drive over to his office with the papers?"
Dianne's small knowing smile turned a little devious as she added innocently, "You know I always drive a bit slower at night, afraid of having an accident. Which in turn would make me late to Phil's office and that'll probably prompt him to ask me if I'm okay and that'll only expand upon your delay with your plans for the night and—"
"Fine!" Isabel held out her free hand for her dad's file, "I'll go, drop the guilt trip, Mom. Geez." Ignoring her mom's triumphant grin, Isabel muttered annoyed, "What does he need a file for this late, anyhow? It's after eight o'clock; he should be home by now."
Alex's chuckle beside her didn't completely eliminate Isabel's irritation, but she calmed down and even managed a returning smile when her mother handed her the file and the keys to her car at the same time.
"Well, Dad's busier than ever, which is good for everyone, but he's finally come to the realization that he needs some help and he's meeting with some new lawyers, trying to see if he can find a perfect match for the firm, but two of the applicants could only fit in the interview tonight due to other arrangements. Apparently, they were talking about a current case that's been bugging Phil and one of the applicants was very interested in helping out regardless of the hiring situation…or something, you know I tend to tune out your dad when he gets too excited."
This time, Isabel did break out into a grin, knowing full well that an excited Phil Evans was like a little kid in a candy store, something her mother had long lost her patience for. "I'll drop it off as quickly as I can. I'll be home no later than twelve."
Dianne smirked, "Nice try, Sweetie." She sent a mock-glare at Alex, who could undoubtedly feel her seriousness underneath and looked back somberly, "Have my daughter home no later than eleven."
"Yes, Ma'am." Alex nodded and Isabel groaned and hurried for the door, before her mother could delay them any further.
"Let's get this over with, so we can continue with our plans."
'It's only gonna be a few minutes, Isabel,' Alex thought out to her and Isabel nodded, getting into her mom's car as fast as she could.
"Yeah, you're right," Isabel answered, "in a few minutes, we'll finally have our alone time and all will be right with the world again."
The drive to her dad's office took about ten minutes, and Isabel all but jumped out of the car when she parked in front of the building. "I'll only be a few minutes," she smiled at Alex, who remained seated. "If I don't take you with me, chances are we won't have to waste more time while parental unit number two questions your intentions. We're lucky enough that Mom was too preoccupied by teasing me tonight, you know."
"Yeah," Alex said, casually leaning back in the passenger's seat. "I'll wait right here. Don't worry about keeping me waiting, we've still got," he looked at his wristwatch with a grin dancing on his lips, "until eleven after all…"
"Shut up," Isabel laughed and shut the car door before turning to head inside to her dad's office.
A few minutes later, as she entered the small lobby that was the waiting area, Isabel felt the smile drain away as if it had never even been there when she heard a familiar voice. A voice that she'd had no idea was still so perfectly ingrained in her memory that she could recall every little nuance of it.
"Jesse." Isabel whispered softly, half-frozen between wanting to escape from the man she'd once called husband and run into his arms to just be held once more.
How can I feel like this? Isabel wondered, still trapped mid-movement, I love Alex! He's everything to me. I can't feel anything for Jesse anymore, I've already challenged his devotion to me with Kyle, I can't bring Jesse into it now. I-
"Izzie?" Her dad's voice broke through the rising panic Isabel was feeling and she looked up from the floor with a jolt, afraid of looking at the tall figure she sensed was standing beside him.
Despite her best efforts, Isabel's eyes slowly turned to lock with Jesse's dark ones, and she felt a wave of confused emotion crash over her, jumbled together with old love she'd avoided thinking about with all her might and guilt.
Oh my God, Isabel frowned, he looks so young. She eyed her husband-from-another-life and had a small epiphany. Holy— That sheepish smile, those friendly eyes, they're just like Alex's. I guess, I was looking for a part of him to love when he died and found it in Jesse. I can't believe I didn't realize that until now, I always thought they were nothing alike and that it was a good thing 'cause it proved that my love for Alex was just a child's love. I thought I loved Jesse for all the things he wasn't, and now I can immediately spot that I was wrong, I loved Jesse for how he subconsciously reminded me of my soul-mate.
"Izzie, don't be rude," her dad's voice broke through Isabel's frantic mind, and with great strength, she finally broke the stare she'd forced on Jesse and looked back over at her father.
"I'm sorry, I was just surprised to see someone so young interviewing for a job here in boring old Roswell, New Mexico, that's all."
Her dad's narrowed gaze told Isabel that her fib wasn't entirely believed, but fortunately they were not angrily suspicious as she clearly recalled them being in the last timeline before they'd been forced to let him know the truth with the Air Force and the F.B.I breathing down their necks.
Eventually, the Evans patriarch simply shook his head at her teasing and turned to Jesse and introduced her to him and vice versa. Jesse straightened up and walked over with his hand reached out. Judging from the way his eyes lingered at certain aspects of her body, Isabel knew he liked what he was seeing, and it did send a small rush of old memories filled with passion and fire down her spine. And yet, Isabel realized when she unceremoniously grabbed her once-husband's hand to shake and then calmly released it without any lingering effect, it was surprisingly easy to shake off the feelings and focus on the human boy waiting patiently outside in her mom's car.
"Nice to meet you," Jesse greeted, and Isabel smiled friendly enough before handing her dad the file that she was actually there to deliver.
"I hope your interview goes well," she muttered to Jesse, whose eyes dimmed with disappointment when she continued speaking clearer to her dad, "I'm gonna head off. Alex's waiting for me downstairs for our date."
Phil chuckled, "Well, I hope your night's gonna be fun, Honey, but not too fun. I'm much too young to be a grandpa, you know. Although, I'm sure Alex's not gonna give me any unwanted grey hairs, he's got a nice head on his shoulders that one. He's a good kid."
Isabel smiled and then forced herself to look back at Jesse with none of her old memories showing in her gaze. "Welcome to Roswell, and for what it's worth, I think you made a right decision in choosing my dad to work for. He's the best."
Jesse smiled, his disappointment from before nowhere to be seen. He'd clearly written her off as untouchable with Phil's praise of Alex and her own obvious happiness at the thought of the boy.
"Thanks, I think so too. It was nice meeting you, Isabel."
Mutely, Isabel just nodded and went over and kissed her dad's cheek before quickly leaving. A few minutes later, she arrived back outside and stopped mid-movement when she saw Alex casually waiting, leaning against the hood of the car and eyeing the entrance with an intense look in his eyes.
"H-Hi," Isabel said, hesitating to move closer under a fresh rush of guilt. Guilt that despite her heart's true desire to be with Alex, there had been a part of her, however small, that had truly delighted in seeing the man she'd chosen for a spouse in her other life.
Alex blinked, and the intensity from his eyes seemed to dim a little, pulled back by the will of his natural softness. "Whatever it is that has you so conflicted," he began, pushing himself off of the car to walk over to her, "don't worry, we'll work it out."
Smiling sadly, Isabel was about to give a generic answer of agreement, when Alex's large hands landed gently on her cheeks, tilting her head up a little. Clearly, he wasn't about to let her lie or wheedle her way out of an honest conversation.
"Isabel," his voice had an almost hypnotic effect on her, and the blonde time traveler found herself unable to blink or look away as their eyes locked, "Like I've said before, I'm not gonna leave – whatever it is, we'll work it out and when you're ready, I'll listen. Stop trying to protect me, and just be with me completely."
His lips twitched and broke the heavy air around them as he released her face after a quick caress, "In case you haven't noticed," Alex continued, "I'm not the same geek you first fell for. I'm capable of handling things beyond the terror of trying to avoid P.E."
Memories of the past that she'd traveled away from ran through Isabel's mind in a matter of seconds. She couldn't keep a smile from appearing on her face, when the image of her beloved Alex, lying dead, bloodied and frail inside that coroners van that she'd snuck into after Max couldn't revive, was ever so slowly being erased by the present time Alex and his silent strength that seemed to envelope her in long sought after security and above all, love.
"I've noticed," Isabel whispered, leaning forward and pressing her lips against Alex's. A moment later, she drew back and stepped over to the driver's side of her mom's car. "Let's go, I was promised a first class date night and I intend to collect."
Alex's grin was like a soothing balm over the wounds on Isabel's soul. Some of those wounds had been opened that night by the presence of Jesse, but there were no longer any lingering doubts about "what if's" in Isabel, she had finally gotten the one thing she'd defied death to get.
The one man she truly loved.
"Well, Miss Evans," Alex's voice brought her back to the now and Isabel watched him get inside the car before following quickly, "we Whitman's always deliver on our promises, you can count on that."
"Oh, I will," Isabel chuckled and started the engine to drive off to the long-awaited night they'd both looked so forward to.
"Why don't you just sit her down and talk everything through?"
It was only Liz's undeniable love for the man she had once called her husband that stopped her from glaring over her naked shoulder at him as he made his way from the bathroom to the bed in the bedroom that had been given to them by Tess. It was a place that the two lovers had spent a lot of their free time in, getting comfortable with the fact that despite everything, they were united once more.
She did roll her eyes though.
"Do you even know Maria, Max?" Liz asked, wrapping her robe tighter against her as she stood up from the vanity and made her way over to the bed as well. They'd told their parents that Tess was having a co-ed sleepover and they'd been invited. In a way it was true, because at that point in time, Kyle was downstairs with Tess, regaling her with stories about the man his dad had been in the other timeline. "I'd like to think so," replied Max with a small smile. Liz rolled her eyes again, this time with a fond smile dancing on her lips.
"I do know her more than anyone, perhaps except Michael. That's why I can honestly say, with deep love and affection in every word, Maria is a stubborn and vindictive girl, whose anger doesn't stop for anything. Not even me."
Max frowned and soothingly rubbed her shoulders, trying to take the tension away. "That's a bit harsh, don't you think? She's got a right to be angry, I'll admit that, but—"
"There's nothing wrong with Maria being angry at us, at me especially. She's right, you know, about everything really…" Liz's eyes dimmed with sadness and she twisted away from Max's hands, not willing to accept the comfort they provided.
"Right about what?" Max sounded confused as he leaned back against the headboard and just watched her with those dark eyes that seemed se see into her very soul.
"I'm not her friend anymore. I'm not Liz Parker, the paranoid girl trying to uncover secrets of the boy she not so secretly liked; I'm not the friend she knows she can lean on in times of need anymore. I'm the woman that died and came back, I'm the woman that instantly seemed to side with the aliens that she hadn't still one hundred percent understood. I'm the woman that completely attacked her for being what I'm not fully anymore, a sixteen year old girl. I'm mentally older than her mother. I'm not her best friend anymore."
Max smiled a soft little smile, and Liz felt the comfort she'd refused psychically go through their connection in a warm rush of pure relief. "Don't worry," he said, and Liz sighed while he continued, "I may not know Maria as well as you do, but I do know that neither of you can truly be mad at each other for long periods of time. You may not entirely remember this, Liz, but Maria died in the war by your side, following you into battle to save me. She knew the risks. She didn't have to go with you, she could've survived staying behind and lending strategic advice to the Unit, but she didn't. The thought of losing you was unbearable to her – she even used her powers on Michael to come to your side – deliberately, and you know how she hated those powers back then."
Liz frowned, lying down next to Max, thinking. I never knew that…
A moment later, Liz abruptly sat back up and all but jumped out of the bed. A few seconds later, she had redressed in her shirt and jeans, and was struggling with her shoes, jumping around on one foot in her hurry.
"What are you doing?"
To call Max's tone bemused was an understatement, and Liz sent him a smile as she balanced on one foot, finishing getting dressed. "I'm gonna go over to her and annoy her till she forgives me," Liz smiled beatifically, looking ever so innocent in the process, "it's what she would have done if the roles had been reversed."
"Yup, see you, love you, and don't wait up!" And with that, Liz ran from the room, bouldering down the stairs and interrupting what looked like quite a heated moment between Tess and Kyle, who jumped away from each other like they had something to hide.
The look of mixed guilt and defensiveness in Kyle's eyes, managed to halt Liz in her tracks for a second. Impulsively, she walked over and hugged her childhood boyfriend fiercely, somehow knowing what his problem was.
"I know you love her, and I'm not going to ruin that, Kyle. She's not that person anymore; heck, she's one of my best friends and I never thought I'd say this, but I love the fact that you two are together."
And you won't have to pine unsuccessfully over Isabel any more, Liz continued silently, and, with a quick hug for a confused Tess, Liz left the Harding house to continue on with her self-appointed mission: Getting Maria back.
After making the necessary pit stop at the local supermarket for some much needed ice cream therapy, Liz now stood in front of the DeLuca home. Suddenly, she was feeling nervous and unsure.
What if it's all for nothing? What if she won't breach the gap between us no matter what I do?
In the midst of Liz's growing panic moment, the door she was standing in front abruptly opened and Maria's mom nearly collided with her before Liz had the forethought to actually move out of the way. She had to stomp down the instinct to ignite her old powers of deadly electricity, still not entirely used to them not being there.
"Oh, Liz! Hey, Honey," Amy DeLuca greeted cheerfully, her distracted mind seemingly only just noticing Liz. "It's been a while since I've seen you around these parts," she added with a questioning look in her eyes, "did you and Maria have a falling out?"
"Uh," Liz started, only to nod sheepishly when Amy's eyes traveled down to the ice-cream in her hands.
"Say no more," the mother smiled knowingly, "Ice-cream therapy…Well, I'm going to a job interview – someone's heard about my pies and may want me to cater their party, so…See you later, Sweetie."
And with that, and a quick peck on the cheek, Amy vanished as quickly as she'd come, leaving Liz to stare at the still half-open front door that the other brunette had left behind in her hurry.
Well, Liz thought, straightening her shoulders, here goes nothing…
Liz walked through the door and closed it quietly behind her, before making her way into Maria's room, where the blonde was busy doing what looked like her math homework.
"Hi," Liz decided to be proactive, before Maria looked up and spotted her staring at her. They had enough issues without needing to add to it by Maria thinking she was creepy too.
Judging from the epic glare the other girl sent her way, she didn't even seem to think about that.
"I didn't invite you," Maria's tone was bland, albeit cold and it was the coldness that got to Liz more than anything. Maria was a lot of things, but cold wasn't one of them.
"Maria," Liz began, suddenly stumped as to what to do next. Her initial plan to get them talking over ice cream seemed juvenile and naïve all of the sudden, but it was all she had. "I…Can we talk?" She lifted the ice cream in her hand, "I've got your favorite…"
"I'm not hungry." Maria's eyes lingered a little too long at the chocolate goodness in her arms for Liz to believe it to be completely truthful.
"Well, I guess I'll just go eat it all by myself, maybe put a scoop over one of your mom's banana cream pies that I know she always has in the fridge."
"Fine," Maria huffed, jumping to her feet, "I'll get the bowls, you get the spoons."
Five minutes later, found the two women sitting in the small kitchen, eyeing each other closely with each of their own bowl of deliciously melting ice cream.
"I know you're mad," Liz finally began after another couple of minutes with heavy silence and wary glances. "You've got every right to be, but at the same time I want you to know that I'm not sorry for what I did. But," she held up her hand with the spoon in it to emphasize her point, "I'm sorry for letting you down."
Maria frowned," If you're not here to apologize for your little 'You're such a child,' intervention, what are you even doing here in the first place? I'm not really interested in hearing your reasons right now, whenever I think about it, I still want to beat you with my hairbrush or something along those lines."
Liz smiled a sad smile and pushed her bowl aside and leaned forward a bit, "I'm sorry for letting my old self take over when it comes to our friendship. To be honest, Maria this whole coming back thing hasn't exactly been easy for me either."
Maria rolled her eyes, and one tiny spark of annoyance began to glow inside of Liz. I always hated how she gets on her high horse during fights and won't listen to reason until she's had me groveling just long enough to make me feel humiliated…
"Look," Liz sighed, sidelined her irritation with the knowledge that Maria was more than likely feeling the same thing. "Believe me, don't believe me, but I know it's been difficult—"
"To me it seems like the only thing that's been difficult for you is separating yourself from Max Evans long enough to look the part of an independent girl with big dreams of college and living the dream."
"Maria," Liz began, her own tone taking on an edge of anger that the blonde didn't hesitate to pick up on.
"Don't, "Maria", me, Liz. You have no idea how I feel. Over the last couple of months things have gone weird beyond belief, I've fallen in love with an alien with a truckload of issues that I've only recently started to figure out and I had to watch the one person in the world I trusted more than anyone get her throat slit and walk away from that unharmed, yet different. Ever since that day in the desert fighting the Skins and whatever, you've never once stopped looking at me like a child. To top it all off, I was ambushed by my closest friends on your say so and ended up talking to an anorexic, and suicidal-looking, version of myself that was the only one that ever told me the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And then you have the gall to sit there and tell me you're not even the least bit sorry! Get out, Liz!"
Liz felt horrified, saddened that her actions had brought about such a change in their lifelong friendship. And I can't put the blame anywhere else than at my own feet, Liz realized as she stood up, halfway tempted to just sit down on the floor and wail like the child Maria thought she saw her as.
In the end, Liz did the only thing she could. She spoke from her heart, tears beginning to well up in her eyes at the thought of ending the friendship that had carried her through more than a few rough times in her life.
"I know you think I'm horrible," she began softly, unable to look away from the angry gaze Maria kept fixated on her, "and I know I could've handled things better, but what you don't understand is that no matter what you think, I'm scared. Scared of being here in a body that rightfully belongs to another part of me. I'm so scared of losing you that I ended up pushing you away without even realizing that I did it and yeah," Liz ran a hand through her hair in frustration, "I'm not sorry that my decision to force you back into the fold or whatever you want to call it, got you to finally realize what's been going on, I do regret the way it all played out, but despite what you seem to think, Maria, I'm not perfect, and I don't know everything! I can make mistakes just like anyone else."
Maria looked frozen as Liz stood immobile in front of her sitting form, desperately fighting away tears that seemed to want to keep coming. A minute with heavy silence passed before the blonde finally stood up herself.
"We need to agree that what you did, no - how you did what you did, was wrong."
Liz frowned, not quite getting her friend's words at first. Maria didn't notice, continuing on quietly with an unusually somber expression on her face.
"I'm tired of being angry at you, Liz. I'm not saying I've forgiven you, and it's going to be a while before we'll get back what we've lost, if ever...But," Maria added when Liz looked away, too sad to handle any more eye contact. "But, I'm willing to sit down and talk it out, try to figure out how to mend things a little so I'm not so goddamned angry and hurt whenever I look at you. You will have to sit there and listen to what I say without judging me, without jumping in with excuses and demands, because this will be about my feelings, all of them mixed with a huge dose of teenage angst too. Can you handle that? Are you willing to listen to me long enough so we can rebuild our friendship on this new Czechoslovakian reality of ours?"
Liz sighed, her tears drying on her cheeks as she looked back up at Maria. "It's gonna take a while."
Maria's lips twitched, "It's gonna get ugly."
"And probably loud," Liz continued and made Maria break into the first honest smile she'd seen since ambushing her in Michael's apartment.
"It's going to require more ice-cream," Maria said, nodding at the melting pile in the bowls that had remained basically untouched since being scooped in there.
Without a word, Liz took out her phone and called Max to go on an ice-cream errand for her, and hung up with a quick, "I love you," before looking over at Maria with a smile of her own when the blonde simply rolled her eyes.
"That boy is so whipped that he makes the rest of the male population look bad..."
Liz smiled, as she always did when her thoughts wandered to Max, and Maria chuckled softly, for the moment keeping a temporary truce until Max came and delivered the requested ice-cream and left. Fifteen minutes later, both young women once again sat in front of each other, looking serious.
Maria took a deep breath and Liz tried not to hold hers when her friend started speaking. "I guess you could say that I've been avoiding you because every time I look at you I'm reminded that my Liz is gone for good and..."
It was early evening and the group was all gathered in the Crash. Maria, Isabel and Liz were all off duty for once at the same time and they'd decided to get the rest of them together for a unofficial celebratory dinner, marking the one year mark since Max, Isabel and Michael had come back in time to change things from pure disaster to peace.
I can't believe it's been a year already, Max thought, eyeing Liz, who was smiling widely at Maria, who was busy exclaiming something or other about something no doubt teasingly offensive that Michael had put her through during their date the night before. It had taken time and a lot of effort between Liz and Maria before they could honestly say that their friendship was repaired. There was a lot of yelling, crying and on one occasion even a little hair pulling before they'd mended things enough to finally put everything behind them enough to look forward to the future instead, and none were happier for them then Max and Michael, who felt they could relax again.
At long last we can all just enjoy being together and alive and out of danger, Max thought to himself, reluctantly looking away from his fiancé of just two weeks. He still wasn't used to them being officially engaged, especially since Liz's dad, Jeff had had no issues whatsoever with them being together this time around.
Isabel's loud belly laugh interrupted his thoughts, and Max looked at his sister, whose genuine happiness seemed to radiate from her entire being. She was sitting next to Alex, who echoed her joy. The two of them had had their ups and downs, Alex's powers making their arguments all the more hard for them to get through. Now though, both of them seemed to have found their niche and Isabel had foregone early graduation this time around to spend as much time with Alex, centering him in ways none of the rest of them could even hope to achieve.
Max frowned a little when he recalled how Isabel's continued ambivalence in regards to the Phoenix kids had brought Alex storming into Max's room, threatening him with angry eyes and choking powers to stop upsetting her. It had taken Max's own considerable strength to stop the tall human from doing something he'd regret.
The thought of the Phoenix kids brought Serena to the forefront of Max's mind, and he couldn't stop himself from feeling a fleeting stab of pain that got Liz's attention, as well as Alex's. His smile and sheepish shrug soon distracted them, and they looked back to the one they'd been talking to.
I've done what she wanted, Max recalled the kids that Michael, Kyle, Tess and he had travelled all across the country to heal during the last few months under the disguise of going to look at colleges. Serena wanted her friends saved and it's finally done now. Sydney was the last one and with the help of Tess none of them remembered anything other than a fuzzy dream that will get them to call me if their powers show.
Max ignored the voice inside of him that changed the 'if' to 'when' and took a bite of his tabasco infused chocolate cake with all of the appetite of the teenage male he was once more.
"You okay?" Kyle's voice broke through Max's thoughts and he looked over at one of the humans they'd travelled for in the first place.
"Yeah, just thinking about how happy I am that we succeeded in our mission to change things, you know." As soon as he said it, Max realized that he wasn't even lying – as an undercurrent the thoughts kept swirling in his mind, bringing up the differences they'd caused.
Some were expected and some weren't, Max smiled wryly and turned more fully to Kyle, when he laughed out, "Yeah, I'm happier now than I'd ever imagined that I'd be. Especially since if you hadn't come back here last year, yours truly would still be six feet under…Or floating in microforms in the sky since I was kinda blown to pieces."
"Kyle," Tess' stern tone of voice made the human flinch a little, and Max smiled when the blonde hybrid tore into him for even mentioning the way he'd died, apparently they'd agreed never to think about it again.
That is definitely one of the most unexpected things to have changed, Max decided fondly, his old memories of the harm his once-upon-a-time-wife had caused all but erased in the face of the smiling, caring and above all in love girl she'd become.
Tess had completed her transition into being a true part of the Royal Four, her powers ending up doing as her other self had once claimed; strengthening them all. Her relationship with Kyle grounded them both in ways neither – or anyone else – had anticipated. There had been a few issues with getting the Sheriff to accept the fact that his child had basically lived in his girlfriend's house, but somehow Tess had worked her magic and the Sheriff was content with them as well.
Well, Max amended, looking away to gaze at Michael, who was grinning uncharacteristically wide at Liz, who seemed to be getting teased mercilessly by Maria. As long as Kyle keeps up the pretense of actually sleeping at his childhood home now and again…
Michael broke off his laugh when he seemed to feel Max's eyes on him, and the two childhood friends locked eyes for a brief moment before the larger hybrid refocused on Maria and Liz. There was a sense of tiredness shining through Michael, and Max knew it was because of the news he'd received only three weeks earlier.
Hank had passed away. Though, not due to his drinking problem. He'd successfully quit drinking, and had been doing his damndest to make amends to the kid he'd neglected and abused, and Michael had, if not forgiven him, than at least had been working on doing that, hanging out with his foster dad, helping him fix up the trailer they'd both pretty much abandoned after Hank had gone away to rehab.
And then he ends up redeeming himself in ways none would ever have imagined, Max thought.
Hank had been leaving a job interview, about to get into his beat up truck, when a kid had run into the main road, tripping on her shoelaces. Minutes later, Hank lay dead and broken by the side of the road, having run out in front of an incoming van and pushed the child out of harm's way of what had later been revealed to be a drunk driver.
Max swallowed a lump when when he remembered Michael's face when receiving the news. He'd never in a million years expected anyone to grieve for Hank, let alone Michael, but his friend had gone deathly pale when he'd gotten the news and had wandered off to process it. In the end, it had only been Maria's closeness and silent support that got him back to himself.
I guess planning a funeral catapulted a lot of memories back into the front of his mind on top of everything – it's been tough on him, Max thought with sympathy.
'What are you thinking about that's making you look and feel so glum?' Liz's voice in his head surprised him, and he looked over at her to see her looking gently at him.
'Hank…Serena, the Unit, you know the usual'.
'Stop being so solemn,' Liz ordered with a soft smile in his direction as Maria tried to get her attention, 'things are far better than they were at the same time in the original timeline, so instead of focusing so much on the bad stuff, be grateful for the successes.'
'I am,' Max replied, sending a hint of exasperation through their bond. Liz was adamant in trying to get everyone happy, casting off the shackles of their brutal past as quickly as possible.
'There's something else though,' Liz's eyes met his, and like always, Max had a hard time omitting anything from her.
'I'm just a little bit worried despite all we've accomplished. I guess it's a habit that's gonna be hard to let go off. I still have a lot to process.'
Liz's expression took on a serious edge, and in that moment, she looked eerily like the woman she was on the inside and not the carefree teenager she was trying to be. 'You're still thinking about what we talked about the other night, about my theory?'
'It's been on my mind, yeah,' Max admitted, looking away from those brown eyes that didn't need a bond to look into his very soul.
'Oh, Max,' Liz s sigh was more mental than physical, and Max felt a little sheepish about his obsessive behavior. 'Let it go, Max, it's not going to affect us. In fact, I'd say it' a good thing, you know.'
Max smiled and mentally agreed, knowing that she was right. He decided to stop thinking and just enjoy their evening with their friends. It was harder than he really wanted to admit and after a few minutes, Max stood up to go to the restroom and clear his head fully.
"Where are you going, Maxwell?" Michael's question brought a momentary hush at the table with it, and Max rolled his eyes as he pointed to the restroom. That in turn kick started the conversations back up and Max quietly walked the short distance and locked the door behind him with a sigh.
He looked at himself in the mirror, something he still wasn't that fond of, the reflective image of his younger, and arguably more innocent self stared back at him with eyes that had seen too much.
"Why can't you just stop thinking?" Max asked himself. Even as he asked himself that question the memory of Liz revealing her knowledge of why she and Kyle were remembering the previous timeline, and even more surprisingly her theory on the sudden power increase the time travelers, and him in particular, had gained from their jump through time.
He couldn't remember how the conversation even got started, but he'd been sitting with Liz on her terrace, looking at the stars for a science project in school they both knew they'd ace without really trying and thus simply enjoyed a way to spend official time together.
One thing led to another and all of the sudden she'd blurted out that she knew why their memories were back. Apparently, she and Serena had dug a little deeper into the book that Tess had killed Alex to translate – except with Serena there, they were reading the original and not the translated bundle of papers.
"The bond between us couples is so rare that the book devoted a whole chapter to it," Liz told him with wide eyes, "even on Antar it's seen as something sacred and something all couples should aspire too. The bond between us never ends, which is probably why Kyle and Tess and Isabel and Alex got together so abruptly when you returned, the bonds reaching out through dimensions to reconnect or something."
When Max had frowned and asked her to elaborate about the memories specifically, Liz had shrugged and explained plainly, "From what I found out with Serena's help, our souls are sort of locked together the moment they connect, meaning that if one leaves the other follows and tries to restore balance. So…" Liz shrugged again, scribbling something on her notepad as she spoke again, "it would need a foundation though to come through like it's done with Kyle and I, danger, fear and love fueling the instinct to come together again, coupled with power."
Max hadn't gotten a chance to ask what she meant, before Liz explained further, "Power was never an issue. When we came here our souls were still in our younger bodies and they merged and that means we've got power times two this time around and that made it easier for our older souls' memories to return to their rightful owner…I still don't know how Maria's fighting it off, maybe her soul remembers the fear of her future power and refuses to grant the memories access to her younger self, or something, I don't know…"
A knock on the restroom door interrupted Max, and he quickly splashed some cold water on his face and opened up the door with a smile.
"Max," Alex stood in front of him with a raised brow, "I'm begging you to stop thinking so much, my friend. You're infecting Liz, who's bumming Maria out and that means Michael and so on."
"Sorry," Max grinned apologetically, sending another dose of loving apologies through the bond to Liz, "I'm good now."
A moment later, both men had arrived back at the booth and their friends. Out of the corner of his eye, Max noticed that Liz was on the phone and turned to look at a silently smiling Isabel and Michael.
"What?" He asked and both of them looked at him, still not losing their smiles. "What is it?" He asked again, trying not to sound too annoyed.
"We talked about it over the last year, when you weren't around," Isabel began and Michael took over.
"We decided we never really thanked you, and we wanna do that now, on this anniversary."
"Thank me for what?" the annoyance was quickly being replaced with confusion, and Max eyed his two fellow travelers.
"It was your idea that catapulted this whole thing." Michael said, while Isabel nodded with tears in her eyes. "If you hadn't known the thing about using the Granolith for time travel, we'd probably be dead by now. Hell, I have no doubt I'd prefer being dead over going back to that place."
"Yeah," Isabel leaned over and embraced her brother forcefully, "we would've died in that damn cave if you hadn't gotten the idea, and this life is so much better now. I've never been happier and I know you two feel the same way."
Michael nodded without hesitation and slapped Max on the shoulder, evidently still not as touchy-feely as the female hybrid was. "Yeah, so thanks."
Max had to blink a little extra for a few seconds, feeling touched beyond belief. "I couldn't have done any of it alone, you know. Without you two by my side, I would've given up the second Liz died. Nothing else could inspire me to fight as much as trying to save the last of my family, hoping for a better outcome. So thanks right back at you. And I'd do it all over again."
The trio smiled at each other, and Max felt a serene sensation wash over him. The war may not be over on Antar, Khivar could ignore his warnings and still try to come after them, but none of that mattered in that moment. They were all here and alive, and by all he held dear, Max was willing to fight for it to stay that way.
But luckily, he thought leaning back in his seat with a contented sigh, there's no sign of trouble at the moment, every one of us is happier now than we were a year ago, and overall things seem peaceful. I could get used to that.
Liz called his name, and Max broke out of his self-contented state of mind to look over at his fiancé, who was holding her cell phone out to him. "It's Grandma Claudia," she explained, looking a little mischievous, "she wants to talk to you."
Feeling a little apprehensive, Max took the phone and held it to his ear. "Good evening, Mrs. Parker."
"Hiya Honey," Claudia southern accented voice sounded in his ear, "I just wanted to talk to ya and once more thank you for fixing up my ticker last year, it's still doing fine. My doctor thinks of me as his miracle client, and even let me eat red meat again, so thanks."
"Err…You're welcome," Max answered, confused and pleased at the same time. "Glad to hear things are going good."
"Well, about that – there is something important I want to ask ya." Claudia's tone changed became a little sterner, and Max could easily imagine the small woman performing civil arrests with her strong personality alone as back-up. In the next second, Max's jaw dropped and his eyes sought out Liz's, who were smiling teasingly at him, probably already having heard her grandma's dilemma.
"Mind telling me, why I heard my cat cussing out the neighbor's dog just now?"
A/N So, I hope this entertained most of you, I know some will absolutely hate it, but I think it needed to end on a funny note:D I've loved writing this, I've felt so included in the Roswell community where people have welcomed me with open arms and smiles. I love you all and thank you for giving me a chance and responding so well to my crazy ideas. I love that I ended up being original in this massive fandom with a few of my twists (Serena, the Phoenix kids *cough*).
Thank you so much, it's been an experience I wouldn't have missed for the world!
In case you're wondering: Courtney found a usable husk, aided by Max and Michael to make it fit perfectly. She now travels the world to make sure none of Khivar's men remain. Nasedo and his fellow Antarian Langley live in L.A. more or less in peace, fighting each other more than anything. Nasedo's plans derailed he's had to actually come to terms to live on earth for once.
The would-have-been alien hunter couple from the shooting, the mindwarp worked- End of story. They are now married and expecting.