[u]Part 1[/u]

[I]November 2000 - Copper Summit, Arizona[/I]

The destruction was complete. When Nicholas had called them, she had hoped that he was exaggerating, that something could be salvaged. But there was no way. It was all gone.

They had driven through the night to be in Copper Summit as quickly as possible, in order to rally their people before despair set in. But none of them had expected the absolute finality of what had happened. As was historically the precedent, where Zan went, chaos had followed. She should have known that things would not have changed simply because his face was different, just because the planet was new.

And, yet, she had hoped. Because without their people - their followers - how were they ever going to return home? How were they ever going to reclaim all that they had lost when Zan had set into motion all the events that had stranded them on Earth over fifty years before?

It was hopeless now. Their people would die. Without the Harvest, they would all just fade away, gradually returning to the dust that had formed their skins in the first place.

She felt a brief flash of relief that she was not dependent on any [I]skin[/I], that she and her most loved ones were perfectly safe. On Antar, the half-human bodies they inhabited would possibly end up a liability. But here on Earth they were what kept them strong, were what meant they would live to kill Zan so that they could all return home, so that the Golden Age of peace that had been prophesied with each of their births could come at last to their galaxy.

She stared at the dead husks for several more seconds, then turned, headed back up the stairs and into the harsh Arizona sunlight.

Jack was waiting for her at the door. "It's bad, huh?"

"Don't go down there," she told her cousin firmly. "You don't want to see it." Jack was sensitive. He would not be able to handle it. She didn't want him to have to remember the sight of the end of all their hopes and dreams.

She knew that she wouldn't be able to stop Will. He would look, would feel that it was his duty. It was always about duty with her brother, always about what [I]had[/I] to be, not about what he really [I]wanted[/I].

But then Will had never wanted anything for himself after he lost Rowena. Even though it had been in another lifetime, he had never recovered. The only way he had gotten through it had been by struggling to do his duty - by focusing on nothing else. He was a king. It was his responsibility to go on.

Will remembered what had happened when Zan had let grief interfere with duty after all. They all did. He had completely destroyed any hope of peace their galaxy had ever had.

"Where's Will?" She asked Jack. "He'll want to see." She swallowed, closed her eyes to the flash that appeared before her eyes of the lifeless husks, the skins that had been meant to protect her people for another fifty years - until they could find the granolith, until they could take them home.

They had failed. Completely and utterly. In two lifetimes.

"He's still in the Church with Nicholas," Will replied, running a hand through his blond hair and glancing behind her into the darkened shed, as though he wanted to ignore her advice, like he wanted to see for himself.

"No Jack." She made her voice firm. He would not disobey a direct order.

He sighed. "Fine." He trailed after her as she hurried across the road towards the Church. She had to speak to her brother. He had asked her to check out the damage and report back. He would go see for himself eventually, but, for the moment, Nicholas had the information they needed. Nicholas was Will's first priority.

For the first time in fifty years they knew where to find Zan. Nicholas had even [I]seen[/I] him. They had actually found him. It was almost incomprehensible to her. They had been looking for so long and suddenly he just popped up where they least expected him.

In the end, he had come to them.

Zan had been in Copper Summit, had destroyed the Harvest and had gone back to where he came from. But, this time, they could follow.

And where Zan was, the granolith could not be far away. There was still a chance to save their people.

She stopped abruptly when she sensed that Jack was no longer following her. Turning on her heel, she prepared to retrace her steps, to chase him down into the chamber under the shed where the Harvest had been hidden. Jack had never disobeyed an order before, but, then, something of this magnitude had never happened before either. She almost didn't blame him.

She should have known better though. Because Jack hadn't gone anywhere, it not being his nature to go against she or Will. Instead, he was standing in the centre of the dusty road, a strange expression on his face.

She narrowed her eyes, watched him for a moment as he lifted his chin, closed his eyes and seemed to [I]sniff[/I] the air. Finally, when she could take it no longer, she called to him. "Jack? What's going on?"

He didn't reply for a long moment. When he finally opened his eyes, she was shocked to see tears welling in the clear blue depths. "Oh my God. I can't believe it." His voice shook.

"Jack? What?" She felt her heart enter her throat. He didn't answer, merely rubbed a weary hand across his face, shaking his head in disbelief. She moved forward, grabbed his arm, shook him. "Jack! Answer me!"

He stared at her for a long moment and, then, the most amazing thing happened.

He smiled. And not just any smile. It was so completely beatific, it nearly blinded her.

How could he smile like that after what had happened? Had he gone crazy?

But when he spoke again, she knew he had not. "Kate, it's a miracle." She blinked, wondered why her heart seemed to be beating at fifty times the normal rate.

When he finally told her though, she was not surprised. Not in the least.

"It's Rowena. I saw her. She was [I]here![/I] Kate, she's alive."


[I]Roswell, New Mexico - Three days later[/I]

Liz Parker stood on her toes, peeked through the window on the door of her biology classroom.

She needed to know if he was in there, had to steel herself if he was. She had to be ready for the coldness that was going to come off him in waves at the sight of her, had to prepare herself for being ignored for the whole period.

"What are we looking at?"

Liz jumped about a foot, whirled around and found herself face to face with her best friend, Maria Deluca. Her other best friend, Alex Whitman, stood directly behind the pretty strawberry blonde, a matching expression of curiosity on his face. Liz's heart returned slowly to its normal rhythm as she exclaimed, "Maria!"

Maria grinned at her, raised an eyebrow. "I repeat, what are we looking at?"

But Liz couldn't answer her. Because [I]he[/I] was coming down the hallway towards her. And he wasn't alone.

He was with Tess. Just like he had been every time she had seen him since the night she had pretended to sleep with Kyle - since the night she had broken his heart.

He walked right past her without saying a word, no expression on his beloved face. He didn't even [I]look[/I] at her. He just headed straight into the classroom, Tess on his heels, her nose in the air.

He had not looked at her even once since they had returned from Arizona. Because, now that they were back, now that they had dealt with the Whittaker mystery and the Harvest, he didn't need her anymore.

Now that he actually believed that she had slept with Kyle, for him, she had ceased to exist.

Because hadn't she seen the exact moment that he had started to believe it? The expression on his face before he walked away from her on that street in Copper Summit. It was haunting her even more than the one he had worn the night he had come to her window with the tickets to Gomez, the night that she and Future Max had orchestrated the complete betrayal of everything that Max and Liz were supposed to be about. Because what he had said to her in Copper Summit had told her that until she flat-out told him that she and Kyle had [I]made love[/I], he had still held on to a shred of hope that it was not true - that she would explain things, that it would all go away.

[I]What I saw can't be true, because it means everything I felt in my heart for the last year is a lie![/I]

His voice ran through her mind, reminding her how she had almost broken in that instant, how she had almost told him the truth. She had never seen him that angry, that upset. And [I]she[/I] was the one who had caused it. The last person who was supposed to hurt him, she had been the one that had completely demolished him.

But she had been strong. She had basically told him that he was right, that everything he had thought about her [I]had[/I] been a lie.

Which was, of course, the biggest lie of all.

Liz closed her eyes, fought the tears that threatened.

"Whoa." Alex's voice managed to penetrate the miasma of despair within which she was beginning to get lost. "What the hell is going on between you two? That was a far cry from [I]I'm coming for you Liz.[/I] What happened?"

Liz swallowed, opened her eyes. Both Maria and Alex were staring at her, matching expressions of confusion and disbelief on their faces. Because, of course, neither of them knew anything yet. With everything that had happened over the past week, there just hadn't been time to tell them.

Not that she could tell them anything anyway. She couldn't tell [I]anyone[/I].

A shiver ran down Liz's spine. And, finally, she truly understood exactly how it had felt to be Max Evans in all those years before he had saved her life that day in the Crashdown.

The loneliness came crashing down on her like a wave. She could feel herself drowning in it.

"Liz!" Maria's hand was on her arm, her expression terrified. "What's wrong?"

She had to tell them something. They were never just going to leave it alone. They were her best friends after all. So this time she would just tell them the truth, which was, in the end, just another lie. "I slept with Kyle. Max caught us together."

Liz didn't wait to see their reactions. She pushed her way into the bio lab as quickly as she could, her head lowered. She let her hair fall into her face, didn't look at Max as she went to her place next to him. At least she could do that for him - leave him alone, not torture him with the chore of having to ignore her.

It was just typical that they had ended up as lab partners again. She had tried to switch at the beginning of the year, but when Ms. Hardy had demanded an explanation, had asked her if Max had done something, she just couldn't bring herself to tell their teacher that somehow it was Max's fault. Plus she couldn't have borne the expression on his face when he would have found out that she had asked for a new partner.

None of this was Max's fault after all. At least not [I]her[/I] Max's. He was probably wishing by now that [I]he[/I] had asked for a new partner.

With the train her thoughts were following, she was completely unprepared for the sound of his voice when he spoke to her. "Liz!?"

Liz almost jumped out of her skin. His tone - it sounded like he had been trying to get her attention for a while. She turned her head, looked at him, feeling like she was in some kind of daze. Was this how she was going to feel for the rest of her life? Was it ever going to get better? Would it ever get easier? "Yeah?"

He looked.Liz didn't know [I]how[/I] he looked. She would have said [I]annoyed[/I], but when their eyes met, for one split second she saw something flash through them that looked like.was that worry? He had obviously noticed how out of it she was, how upset, and [I]he[/I] was worried.

She had broken his heart and he was worried about [I]her[/I]. Her heart swelled with all the love she felt for him.

But the moment was so fleeting, it barely registered before she realized that Max was nodding towards the front of the class where Ms. Hardy was staring at both of them. Oh God! Had the teacher spoken to her? Liz raised her voice, cringed inwardly at how weak it sounded. "Yes Ms. Hardy?"

Ms. Hardy was frowning slightly. Liz saw a flash of concern run across her face. Of course she would be worried. Liz couldn't remember the last time she had been caught not paying attention in class. Glancing around, Liz was relieved to see that the lab hadn't really started yet. Their teacher clearly wanted to ask her something privately because she was motioning for Liz to join her at the front.

Liz hopped off her stool and wound her way through the tables. She felt Max's eyes on her the whole way. Passing by the table Maria and Alex shared, Liz turned her head away from them, not wanting to see the likely still shocked expressions on her friends' faces. She knew that they were not just going to let her out-of-nowhere announcement go, but, for now, she was safe from their questions.

It was then that she saw him, standing quietly beside Ms. Hardy, watching her approach.

He was tall, almost as tall as Michael, with pitch-black hair that was worn slightly long. He was standing near the teacher's desk, a stack of notebooks and texts in his arms, like he didn't have anywhere to dump some of it, which could only mean that he was a new student, one who hadn't been assigned a locker yet.

She was about five steps away when their eyes locked. Liz blinked. His eyes were intensely, almost painfully, blue.

And, then, the most amazing thing happened. Something that she would never have believed was possible - not since Max. But, it actually happened.

Another boy made her heart skip a beat.