Author's Note: Well, this is really it folks. The almost three year odyssey that has been this trilogy for me is now officially over (and if anyone asks me to write a sequel, I will scream! LOL Craig, this means you!) I really believed sometimes that I wasn't going to be able to finish it, but it has been with all of your support and just plain enthusiasm, that I somehow managed to persevere. I am a little sad, but at the same time, mightily pleased that I accomplished this. I'm actually shaking a little bit as I type this. I don't think it's really going to sink in for a while.

Anyway, no saga of this magnitude would be complete without a little glimpse into the future. So that's what I'm giving you with this epilogue. Who ended up where? Is everyone still together (well duh! LOL)? What happened? You'll get some answers here, in a little vignette fifteen years in the future, when the whole gang returns to Roswell for a special occasion. I don't spill the beans about everything (you can imagine anything you want to for the things I don't talk about!) but I hope you'll find it satisfying. The best part of all - no Pam Troy! Hee.

Before I completely shut this chapter of my life though, I need to thank a few people. If I were to list the literally dozens of people who have commented about this story, making me feel great over the past three years, the list would probably be longer than the whole trilogy, but there are a few I need to shout out to. If I don't mention you, please don't feel that I didn't want to.Basically, if you made it this far with me, this is dedicated to you.

First off, to the lurkers. While Union hasn't been getting a ton of feedback over the last few months, it still regularily gets 600 hits, which just thrills me. Thank you for reading.

Now, to the feedbackers (anyone who has left me any note, sent me any email or made any nomination over the past three years): Some of you have been with me since the very beginning, some just popped up a couple of days ago, but all of you have my undying gratitude. Thank you so much for your support. Without you, this story likely would have gone the way of the dodo bird a year ago.

A few people I have to mention by name of course:

To all my Roswriter pals (you know who you are!) thanks for listening to me whine about the albatross. Now that it's off my neck, I feel a little bad about that. lol

To Angel Parker, sjton and all you Boswellians out there - thanks for being there from the beginning. And thank you Angel for just about bringing me to tears with my first banner (for Legacy), which was just such a wonderful surprise.

To StargazerUK (I hope you like your surprise. It's probably been built up so much now you're going to be "That's it?" but it is what it is!lol) and KitKat (whose feedback was often longer than the parts themselves) and IslandGirls (whose feedback competition with Cath amused me to no end) and Anniepoo (who went overboard by making FOUR banners for Union, all of which I love) and mareli (whose bmails of encouragement always came at just the right time) and PilgrimSoul (bumper extraordinaire!), all I can say is thank you for your enthusiasm.

Last, but not least, I have to thank my sister Allie, without whom half of this story would not exist. She came up with all the really great plot twists, so she's the one I owe most of this to.

Just FYI - I'm going to post the song list from the entire trilogy after this post. A couple of you already have it, but if anyone else wants to actually HEAR the songs that inspired this fic, you'll now have the chance. Basically, all I can say about it is, can you tell I'm Canadian? Yeesh! lol

And, finally (thank God, I'm sure you're all saying by now) I'm just going to give you a little update about what's coming up on the writing front, because some of you have asked. Since I just had my turn at Homecoming, I'm going to be working on Born of the Stars next. I will be alternating it with Starstruck and All You Wanted, depending on where the muse takes me, and I also have two new stories up my sleeve. They are both challenges (quel surprise!) and are very different from each other. One, entitled "Darkness Falls", is about the end of the world, and will be angst-ridden and perhaps a saga to match this one or BTSAS, while the other one is entitled "I am NOT Felicity" and is going to be a fun little ditty I hope (we all know how well me writing a fun fic turned out with Starstruck. Sigh. Lol) I won't be posting anything new until BOTS is finished though, likely towards the end of July. I am going to put a little poll at the top here though, just out of curiosity, to know which of my in progress fics you all are most interested in. So if you want AYW or Starstruck more than BOTS, make sure to vote!

Whew! I'm done. I can't believe it. I'm off to have a beer and watch Dawson's Creek on tape. I think I've earned it.

Hugs! Kath


[b]Near Roswell, New Mexico - June 2017 - 15 Years Later[/b]


The shriek resounded through the restaurant, interrupting conversations as the customers all turned to stare at the woman jumping up and down in the pass-through window leading to the kitchen.

Liz Parker Evans froze where she stood, framed in the doorway of the Crashdown, her eyes still adjusting to the dim light inside after the bright New Mexican sun. She would know that voice anywhere of course, so she prepared herself ahead of time for the assault to which she knew she was about to be subjected.

"Don't move! Stay right there!" Maria called. Liz finally managed to focus on her oldest and dearest friend, who had pushed her way through into the restaurant proper and was bearing down on her, her arms outstretched. "You've been back in town for twelve hours and I still haven't gotten my hug. I'm about to burst chica!"

Liz laughed as the patrons went back to their meals, seeming to finally understand that there was no one in imminent danger of murder. She didn't notice this though, as she was too busy tightly embracing Maria. "I'm sorry. Max and I dropped the kids off here and then we had to go to Las Cruces for a few hours. We just got back. Max is over at the Evans' and I just came here to get the twins so that their other militant grandparents can see them."

She still felt a pang of guilt at the expression of disappointment on Diane's face when Liz and Max had pulled into the driveway and she had realized the girls weren't with them. It was hard on their families that they lived so far away. But New York had been where they had found jobs after they both graduated - Liz from Harvard, Max from BU. Their return visits had become more and more sporadic too, but things had changed recently in a way that made it so that none of it would continue for much longer. If all went according to plan, missing all the people they loved would end once and for all.

"What the heck is in Las Cruces that could possibly be more important than your best friend?" Maria was pouting, but her eyes were twinkling. "You're just lucky I got to spend quality time with Alex this morning, or I might [I]really[/I] hold it against you."

"So he and Izzy got in?" Liz asked, feeling a major sense of relief. There had been some question about whether Alex and Isabel would be able to attend the dedication of the new Ring, being as their young son David was in school through July. She was glad that Max was going to get a chance to see his sister and that she would see Alex. Since the Whitmans had moved to England so that Isabel could pursue her studies in ancient Celtic folklore, they didn't get together as often as any of them would have liked.

"Yup. They're staying at his parents'." Liz grimaced. No wonder Philip and Diane were so antsy to see the kids. They had not been granted the privilege of hosting either of their children this weekend it seemed. "You probably just missed Isabel," Maria continued. "She took David to see Philip and Diane. Michael went with her," Maria added. "And might I just thank God for small favours." She rolled her eyes heavenward.

"So he's still freaking out?" Liz asked sympathetically.

"He hasn't quite adjusted to the fact that he's going to be a grandfather at the age of 33," Maria replied wryly. "The mere thought of seeing Jenny pregnant sends him into palpitations."

"He must be excited to see her though," Liz pressed. "And you too?"

"Of course," Maria said. "But I'll admit I'm a bit nervous. It's been a long time Liz. We haven't seen her since she managed to come through for our wedding. What.What if she's changed?"

"She hasn't changed," Liz told her firmly. "I see her all the time Maria. She's still our Jenny. And she can't wait to see you."

Maria looked down for a moment, then shook her head firmly. "I know it's going to be fine. Michael is manic though, which doesn't help." She grinned, throwing her arm around Liz's shoulder and guiding her to a nearby booth. Since she obviously wanted to change the subject, Liz decided to let her. Everything would be fine when Jennetta actually made her appearance anyway. "It's really quite amusing. He says he's never letting Julia or Jess date, let alone marry. Being as they're presently both at the stage where they think boys are icky, it hasn't been a problem. I dread junior high."

Liz laughed. "You have to worry about that a lot sooner than we do," she said, feeling thankful that her young daughters had only just turned five. She had a feeling that Max was going to turn out to be as protective a father as Michael was. The one and only time she had teased him about it, he had simply replied, "Liz, no boy is going to be climbing through [I]my[/I] daughters' windows when they're sixteen." Since they both knew he was being absolutely ridiculous, there hadn't been anything else to say. Men.

"How are the girls?" Maria inquired. "I haven't had a chance to pop upstairs since I came in. José was having a disaster in the kitchen. I swear, I can't take a single day off. This place would fall apart without me." Liz simply smiled, knowing that Maria wasn't looking for any answer to that. They both knew that the Crashdown had never run as smoothly as it did now that Maria managed it since Jeff Parker's retirement. "I can't wait to see them," the twins' godmother added. "They must be huge."

"Actually, they're pretty small for their age," Liz told her. "They take after me, not Max's side of the family, at least that way. Andrea has Izzy's blonde hair though and Eleanor's is dark like Max's and they both have Isabel's eyes."

Maria sighed. "Well, that's a blessing. I breed giants Liz. Both girls are the tallest in their classes and Jared is almost bigger than I am and he's only ten. It's craziness."

"They're all beautiful Maria," Liz insisted, although she knew her friend was only joking. Her small brood was the centre of her existence after all. Michael and Maria had started expanding their family in their early twenties and Maria had practically spent the past decade pregnant.

"Of course they are," Maria smiled. "And they're [I]my[/I] giants. But I still hold out hope that the next one might dare to be different and decide to be delicate-boned."

Liz's eyes widened and she reached across the table to grab Maria's hands. "You're not saying." Maria continued to smile serenely. "You are! Congratulations! When?"

"Around Christmas if all goes according to clockwork," Maria replied. "Not that it's a given with Czechoslovakian pregnancies. I've still barely recovered from Jess. She arrived even more quickly than Jenny did. It damn near killed me."

Liz sighed. "Tell me about it. But it [I]is[/I] wonderful news Maria."

"Do you think you'll be here?" Maria asked bluntly. "Everyone was really bummed when you couldn't get back last year Liz."

"I know," Liz replied. "We were bummed too. But Max decided he needed to teach that intersession course at Christmas. It paid for the girls' nursery school this year, so it was worth it." She shook her head. "We're actually not crazy about the whole rat race anymore now that the girls are a bit older. We'd like them to be able to play outside, to have next-door neighbours."

Maria's expression brightened. "Are you saying what I think you're saying?"

Liz wrinkled her nose. "You can't tell anyone Maria. It isn't for sure. We have to see if we can both find jobs."

"Oh please. Like any college in this state wouldn't be thrilled to have the country's premiere molecular biologist on the faculty. And Max ain't too shabby either. Milton has the articles he wrote about life on other planets plastered all over the Museum - even if Max did conclude that it wasn't possible." She shook her head. "Your husband finds himself very amusing, doesn't he?"

"Isabel, Michael and Tess all thought it was hilarious. They snickered about it over email all last winter," Liz sighed. "There are some things about Czechoslovakians I don't even attempt to understand. Anyway, he [I]is[/I] making quite a name for himself in the astronomical community," she continued, hearing the pride ringing in her voice. "He has another book coming out next winter."

Maria looked impressed. "Clearly, that's great. What's this one about?"

"Black holes," Liz replied.

"Like I said, you two are [I]so[/I] moving back here," Maria said, literally almost jumping up and down in her seat. Liz smiled to herself. Maria, mother to four, with a fifth child on the way, had not changed one bit. She was still as enthusiastic and bubbly about life as ever. Was it any wonder Liz missed her so much when she was gone? "Any college in these parts would be nuts to turn Max down. You too Liz."

"Well, my fingers are crossed," Liz answered. "It's just really time Maria."

"I agree," Maria said firmly. "We've had a chance to do our own thing now, but we all belong together." Her expression darkened slightly. "Now if only we could convince Alex and Izzy of that."

"Convince Alex and Izzy of what?"

Liz turned her head, a grin breaking out across her face.

"Hey Deputy Valenti! Didn't hear you come in," Maria said, climbing to her feet. Liz was already on hers, giving Tess a huge hug.

Liz stepped back, took in her blonde friend's uniform and shook her head. "Wow. You look like a real cop. I have to admit that when I heard you were joining the force, my imagination failed me."

Tess laughed and slid into the booth across from where Liz sat down again. "Kyle says he's glad he can stop having to pretend that he's not a big chicken and that I can do all the protecting in the family now."

Liz smiled. "Trust Kyle. But what made you decide to go into the Valenti family business anyway Tess? I'm fascinated."

Tess shrugged. "I guess I just wanted to give something back to the only place I've ever really been able to call home. When Kyle needed to move back here because of his job coaching at the high school, I was sort of at loose ends and Jim got me a job helping out down at the station for a while. But it was kind of boring and I wanted to feel like I was actually doing something with my life, so I just went for it. That's old news though. How are you? I'm so glad I ran into you. I came in for lunch, but I wasn't expecting to see you here. I thought you'd be over at the Evans' by now getting ready for the big event."

"Lunch! Right," Maria exclaimed, hurrying away. "It's all ready in the back Tess. Just let me run and get it while you two catch up."

Liz followed her friend with her eyes, affection welling. It felt so great to be home! It was almost like nothing had changed and, yet, everything had. That everyone had ended up in their niche, where they rightfully belonged and so happy.It was a blessing.

Liz filled Tess in briefly about what was happening with Max and the girls, leaving out the part about maybe moving back to New Mexico. She didn't want to get anyone's hopes up too high until they knew for sure, but with every minute she spent in Roswell, her certainty that it was the right move increased.

"I can't wait to see them all," Tess said. "It's just been too long Liz."

"We saw you at your wedding last year Tess," Liz said. When Tess frowned at her, she smiled. "Okay, fine. I know what you mean. We miss all you guys too."

"So then move back!" Tess replied. "I mean, really, is New York where you want to raise those beautiful girls?"

"We like New York," Liz argued mildly, but she exchanged a glance with Maria, who had just returned with Tess's lunch. Her best friend had one eye-brow raised. "Oh fine," she finally sighed. "But Tess, you can't tell [I]anyone[/I]."


"Oh my God! Are you kidding me?" Isabel Evans Whitman demanded. She reached across the table in the Evans' kitchen, grabbed Max by the hand and squeezed. "You better not be kidding me Max Evans or I will kill you!"

Max pulled away, shaking his hand. "Ow. Isabel, that hurt!" He glared at her. "And I'm not kidding. But you can't tell anyone. We don't know for sure and you know how disappointed Mom and Dad will be if it doesn't work out."

"I can safely say that I do," Isabel sighed, sitting back. "It's been really hard on them with both of us away Max."

"I know." He did not miss the twinkle in his sister's eye though. "Okay, what gives?"

"Guess who [I]also[/I] just had an interview?" Isabel asked mischievously.

Max started to laugh. "Are you serious?"

"Yes. Alex just got hired by UNM - Albuquerque to head up their computer science department. Since I'm pretty much done my research, I can write my thesis anywhere. So we're moving back too. Now that the Ring is ready to go here, I don't feel as compelled to stay in England anyway."

Max frowned slightly. "Isabel, it was never your responsibility to live there."

"I know," Isabel shrugged. "But I wanted to be close to it in case Jenny ever needed us, if she needed a safe haven quickly."

"We've kept in touch Isabel. We know that things are running smoothly on Illyria," Max reminded her gently. "Ren told Liz in her last dreamwalk that the whole planet is going baby crazy. It's the first time there has been a legitimate royal heir in years. Jenny's throne could not be more secure."

"I know it Max," Isabel flared back. "But I worry okay? And I think it made Michael feel better, knowing I was there. Since I had to be there anyway, there's no need to get mad at me for caring."

"Isabel," Max sighed. "I'm not mad at you. I'm proud of you. But I'm also glad that you're finally going to get to come home for good."

Isabel smiled. "I can't wait. It's going to be a bit weird at first - I really do love England Max - but we need this. We [I]all[/I] need this. Our kids shouldn't grow up as strangers."

"I fully agree," Max replied. "Speaking of kids," he continued, glancing at the clock, "I wonder what happened to Liz?"

"And [I]I'm[/I] the worry-wart," Isabel teased him. "She probably ran into someone. And it's not like you wouldn't know if something happened to her. If there's anyone who knows that by now, it's me. I've never made [I]that[/I] mistake again."

"True," Max said, grinning. He perked up when he heard a car in the driveway though. "I'll bet that's her now."

Isabel followed him out the front door, where their parents were already hugging Max's little girls, Diane in tears. Max met Liz's eyes. She smiled at him, shaking her head, and mouthed, "Maria." He nodded his understanding.

"Do you really think they're ready Max?" Isabel asked quietly from where she stood at his elbow. Max glanced at her, could see that she was watching their father hugging Andrea.

Max nodded. "My girls aren't going to grow up ashamed of their heritage Iz, not like we were. They know they have to keep it a secret, but they [I]are[/I] the link to Illyria for the next generation. The sooner they understand what that means, the better for all of us."

"What does Liz think?"

"She knows that I would never let them do anything they couldn't safely manage. It's not like I'm really going to let them do anything major anyway. They're just going to be there to watch. The Ring is complicated Isabel, but I understand it. I always have - in both lifetimes. This is what is meant to be." He looked at her, concerned. "You're not scared are you?"

"No," Isabel replied. "But I think I'm a little nervous. We haven't actually opened a portal in years Max. And how can we be sure that this new Ring is safe?"

"I guess we can't know for sure, but we do know that the engineers Jennetta sent through are the best that were to be had on Illyria. " Max told her. "We have to take the chance Izzy. Michael and Maria have only seen Jennetta one time since we came back permanently. It's not right."

"I know." Isabel sighed. "I want to do it."

"It will be fine Isabel. I know it will be."

Their conversation was interrupted by their father, who came and joined them, Eleanor - or Nora as everyone called her - on his shoulders. "Are you two ready for hamburgers?" He asked, his happiness at having his whole family reunited blatantly obvious on his face.

"Daddy, Grandpa's going to let me help," Nora chirped.

"That's great," Max told her. He exchanged a glance with Isabel, grinned. "Grandpa needs all the help he can get."

Isabel laughed, obviously remembering the many disastrously burnt hamburgers of Evans' BBQ's past.

Their dad glared at them good-naturedly. "Nice you two. C'mon Nora. Your dad and Auntie Isabel have decided they don't want dinner tonight."

"There's a loss," Max muttered to his sister.

"What are you two snorting about over here?" Liz asked, joining them after it became clear that their mother had taken charge of small, blonde Andie.

"Just about how great it is to be home," Max replied, reaching out and pulling her against him after she had given Isabel a hug hello.

Liz looked at him suspiciously. "Max, you told her, didn't you?"

Max grimaced, glanced at Isabel, who was trying to look innocent. "I have no idea what you're talking about Liz."


"Will it curb your anger to know that Alex and Izzy have an announcement of their own?" Max asked carefully.

Liz smiled. "Well, yes. If it's the same announcement. But I also just want to know that you told someone so I could stop feeling guilty."

Isabel laughed again. "Okay, who did [I]you[/I] tell?"

"Maria and Tess," Liz admitted, wrinkling her nose. "I couldn't help it. It just came out."

"It 'just came out' twice?" Max demanded, but he squeezed her shoulder to tell her he was only kidding. "I only told one person!"

"What can I say?" Liz sighed. "I'm weak." She looked at Isabel. "Is it true though Izzy? Are you guys moving back too?"

"We are," Isabel acknowledged. "We have to go back to London for a few weeks to wrap some stuff up, but we'll be back in time for David to start school in the Fall."

"With the girls," Liz said, sounding pleased. "They'll start kindergarten then." She looked around. "Where [I]is[/I] my nephew? And where's Alex? I can't wait to see him!"

"Michael has David in the back with his hellions. Kyle's there too. They're teaching my poor, deprived child how to play hockey."

"In June?" Liz asked, laughing.

"It's Michael," Isabel replied, as if that explained everything, which is really did, Max reflected. "Alex should be here any minute. He's bringing his parents over."

"Well, Maria's on her way as soon as the night shift gets in. Tess is on duty until five," Liz informed them. "Is everything ready for tonight?"

"I think so," Isabel told her. "One of us just needs to visit Jenny one more time to make sure she and Ren are going to be in the Ring when they need to be."

"I'll do it," Liz volunteered. She glanced at Max. "Want to join me?"

Max grinned at her. "It [I]has[/I] been a long time since I've had you alone in that bedroom," he said teasingly.

"Oh dear Lord," Isabel said, laughing. "Do you two never stop? Aren't scientists supposed to be cold fishes?"

"Probably," Max admitted, as he took Liz's hand. "We've never gotten the hang of that part."

"Max!" Liz exclaimed, obviously mortified. "That's not what I meant and you [I]both[/I] know it."

Isabel rolled her eyes. "Just don't be late for dinner. The last thing we need is Mom or Dad walking in on you."

"Isabel, really," Liz huffed. "We're just going to see Jenny."

"Right. Whatever. Tell her I can't wait to see her."

Max was still laughing as Isabel disappeared around the side of the house to join the rest of their family in the back. Liz was glaring at him. "I can see that you're mildly annoyed," he teased her, unable to resist.

"Mildly is an understatement Max Evans," Liz snapped. "Now your sister thinks we're incapable of keeping our hands off of each other for two minutes!"

Max nuzzled near her ear, not at all perturbed by her irritation. "Well, isn't it true?"

She was silent for a long moment. He felt an instant of concern, wondering if she was really mad. But when he glanced down at her, Liz was smiling slightly to herself. "It's true," she said. "But we have work to do Max."

He swept her up in his arms, earning a shriek of surprise from his wife. "Work first, play later," he agreed. "It's off to bed with you Mrs. Evans. It's extremely inconvenient that both work and play happen in the same place," he whispered against her ear.

She kissed him gently on the lips, sending a flash of desire through his veins. "Most inconvenient indeed," Liz agreed. "But if we must, we must."


The moon was high in the sky as Liz caught her first glimpse of the cliffs in the distance. She felt her excitement increase. It was still hard to believe that they had actually managed to find a way to be able to tie themselves more firmly to Illyria - that all the histories and notes they had all gone over in the hidden alien compound on River Dog's reservation over the years had finally resulted in success.

One concern, of course, had been how to build a stone circle in the middle of the desert without anyone noticing. That had finally been resolved when Max, on one of his holidays from college a few years ago, had uncovered a volume in the alien library that had shown different versions of the Ring on different planets. They weren't all as perfectly formed as Stonehenge or the one on Illyria. All that was needed was a circle made of stones - it didn't have to necessarily be uniform. And, so, their Ring had been built to simply resemble something that could have happened during any normal rock slide. It had seemed poetic that the best place to make it look as natural as possible had been on the plain under the pod chamber.

Michael and Tess had overseen the construction over the past year, Isabel having met the engineers and architects Jenny had sent in England and then sent them on to the States. The twelve men had lived in hiding in the never-ending warren of rooms and tunnels of the underground compound, the city of Roswell no wiser to their presence than they had been to Ren's during his months down there. The construction team was going to be sent back tonight, if all went according to plan.

"Are we there Mommy?" Andie asked from the back seat.

"We're there Sweetie," Liz acknowledged. She pointed out the front windshield. "That's where Daddy was born."

"Can we see it?" Nora asked. Liz heard a slight tremor in her daughter's voice. She turned her head and looked at the little dark-haired girl.

"What's wrong Honey?" Liz glanced at Max, who was driving. He had a slight frown on his face, waiting for Nora to reply.

"I just want to see it, that's all," Nora said. Liz wondered what her daughter was thinking about. She knew that the girls weren't at all scared of the alien side of their heritage - neither had even demonstrated any real gift as of yet - but they [I]were[/I] curious. This was going to be an interesting night for all of them.

"You can see it," Max replied firmly. "Right after Auntie Jennetta comes through."

"She's going to have a baby," Andie told Liz seriously. "Aunt Maria told me."

"She is," Liz agreed. "But not for a few months."

"I like babies," Andie said. "I asked Aunt Tess when she was going to have one."

Liz grimaced. She heard Max snort beside her. Tess and Kyle had only been married for just over a year, but they were constantly teased by everyone about when they were going to start their family.

"That's not nice Andie," Liz admonished. "You don't ask questions like that. It's private."

"Uncle Michael [I]told[/I] me too," Andie complained. "And Aunt Tess wasn't mad."

She paused, glanced at Max, who raised an eyebrow at her, almost daring her. She sighed. Damn her curiosity! "What did Aunt Tess say?" She heard Max chuckle, resisted the urge to belt him. Was it her fault she was concerned about her friends?

"She said that maybe they'd have one soon," Andie replied. "But that until then, she was glad she had me to spoil."

Liz felt a pang of affection for Tess. She knew that both Kyle and Tess did want kids, but they were a little preoccupied with their jobs at the moment. She hoped that they found time to balance both soon, if it was what they wanted to do.

Max pulled the car to a stop at the base of the cliff. They were the last to arrive if the cars gathered there were any indication. Michael and Maria were still standing there, waiting for them, their two oldest, Jared and Julia with them. Little Jess had been too tired to come, but Isabel and Alex's seven-year-old son, David, had ridden with them, clearly fascinated by his rambunctious almost cousins, particularly Julia. Liz noticed him watching her now, wondered if Michael was going to catch on to this budding crush anytime soon. She smiled to herself. David had the exact same look Liz recognized from the flashes Max had given her about the first time he had seen her all those years ago.

Fortunately for little David, Michael was preoccupied by Jennetta's impending arrival - or, rather, by Maria's excitement over it. While Liz had believed Maria earlier that Michael was nervous about seeing his daughter again, there was no question that he was the calm one at the moment.

".was thinking that we should ask Jennetta to stay here for the baby's birth," Maria was saying as Max, Liz and their two daughters joined them.

"Maria, you know the heir has to be born in the Citadel," Michael reminded her patiently, sounding long-suffering.

"Jenny wasn't!" Maria argued. "She was born in a cave Michael."

"Trust me," Michael replied. "I remember. But you know what I mean. This is an historic birth. Jenny will never agree to staying here."

"But Ren might," Maria countered. "She'll be safer here where Max can watch over her."

"Maria, you are not going to bombard Jennetta the instant she arrives," Michael ordered. "She's a queen. You can't tell her what to do."

"She's our daughter Michael! I think we should have a say!"

"Oh Lord, give me peace." Michael raked his hands through his hair. He turned to Liz. "Will you please deal with her? I'm losing it here." He turned on his heel and marched off, only pausing to pick up Julia so that she wouldn't have trouble with the rocky terrain. David followed after them, looking a little shell-shocked, obviously unused to Michael and Maria's brand of "discussion," being as his parents rarely, if ever argued.

Liz looked at Max, who nodded his understanding. "Hey Jared, can you take charge of Andie here? She might need some help."

"Okay Uncle Max," tawny-haired Jared replied, taking Andie by the hand and leading her after his father. Max picked up Nora and followed. Liz could hear her daughter start asking her father questions before they were even out of ear-shot. "Daddy, what did it feel like to be in a pod?"

"What was [I]that[/I] all about Maria?" Liz asked quietly after the others were gone.

Maria smiled. "Do you think Michael's worried?"

"About you?" Liz asked. "I'd say so, yes."

"Which means he's [I]not[/I] worried about Jennetta," Maria replied. "As long as I'm the psycho, he won't have time to freak out anymore. He'll be too busy trying to calm me down. I don't know why I didn't think of this earlier."

Liz stared at her, then started to laugh. "You are very strange Maria."

"Normal's boring Liz. If there's one thing we all know by now, it's that." Maria laughed back. "I mean, c'mon. We're in the middle of the desert in the middle of the night waiting to open a portal from another planet so that I can see my daughter, who is older than I am. If I wasn't strange, I'd be nuts."

Liz hugged her. "I'm so glad I know you," she told her best friend.

Maria pulled back and grinned at her. "Right back at ya babe." She linked arms with Liz and started to pull her after the others. "Now, let's go open ourselves a portal."

Fifteen minutes later, Liz found herself standing next to one of the artfully arranged rocks that formed the New Mexico Ring. She had been impressed when she had seen what the Illyrian architects had done. While it was clearly round, the Ring also looked as though it had formed naturally. No one would ever question what it was doing there, nor who had built it.

She was holding both her daughters by the hand. They were unusually quiet, both a little tired, and also just a bit scared. Liz glanced down when Nora tugged on her shirt to get her attention. "When is Daddy going to come and get us?" She whispered, her dark eyes wide.

"In a few minutes," Liz told her reassuringly. "Auntie Isabel's going to bring Jennetta and Ren through. Daddy will come and get you to meet them and then he'll send the Illyrians standing over there back." They had agreed that the architects would stand in witness to the ceremony of the passing of the mantle to her daughters so that they could go back to Illyria and report that the path binding Earth to Illyria was secure for another generation. The official proclaiming of Andrea and Nora as Max and Isabel's heirs as portal keepers would solidify the connection more than anything else could, while Jennetta's baby would secure the throne.

Most importantly though the portal's continued existence meant that Michael and Maria's family would finally be together more often. For all of them, that was the best reason of all.

Liz glanced around the circle at the faces of the people she loved most in the world, her heart full of hope and excitement for the future. Kyle and Tess were standing together nearby, their love for each other evident in every line. Even after all this time, Liz was thankful that they had put all their differences behind them and had just chosen to love each other.

Alex stood with Maria, Michael and their children, clearly trying to lend support and also trying not to freak out about Isabel's role in the ceremony. His solidity, steadfastness and complete trust in his wife were what held them together as a couple. He never held her back and it was why her sister-in-law loved him so much, Liz knew. They were partners in every sense of the word, Alex having followed her to England for a while and now Isabel was following him home.

Finally, her eyes came to rest on Max, who was standing with Isabel in the centre of the Ring, both focused on opening the portal. Her beloved Max. Every day spent with him was a new adventure. She wouldn't have believed it was possible when she was a teenager, but she was more in love with him now than she had been even then. He was, quite simply, her soul.

But Roswell, New Mexico was her heart. And now she could finally acknowledge to herself how wrong they had been to leave it again. She and Max had both received word that they had been hired by the university at Las Cruces earlier that night. There was nothing holding them back. They would return to New Mexico and her children were going to grow up in this circle of love, in this group bound to each other by history and by choice, time and distance having made no difference to the union that existed between them.

They loved each other. All of them. Forever.

As Liz watched Isabel open the portal to bring their missing family home, if even only for a little while, she knew it was the beginning a new chapter in all of their lives. She knew that the love they shared would always be all they needed.

The End (Really this time!)