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Times of Change”

 Story by Jeslyn

Written by Annie, Jeslyn, Kristin, Liz Park and Shira

Edited by Lizzy, Mark, Sherry and Tiff

 

 

 

 

Playlist:

1.  “When I’m Gone” by Three Doors Down

2.  “5,000 Miles” by Brenda Weiler

3.  “Harder to Breathe” by Maroon 5

4.  “Righteously” by Lucinda Williams

5.  “Thank You” by Dido

 

 

 

 

Sunday morning graced Boston with a beautiful sunny day but there were so many problems, no one could enjoy it.  The group sat in Jesse’s living room while he explained where Michael and Maria were living.  There was a definite division within the group regarding their decision to move. 

 

Only Jesse, Isabel, Kyle, and Serena had helped them with the move.  As for the others, Maria wasn’t getting along with Liz, and Max and Hanley both disapproved of each other’s actions, or lack thereof.  Ava remained neutral for the most part, but the more she thought about it, the more she liked the idea of Michael and Maria having their own space.  She knew how wonderful private space could be, even if it was lonely and less secure than being in a group; every soul needs room to breathe.  But she didn’t think the others would understand that.  None of them had ever been completely alone; not even Hanley.

1.

 

“The apartment building is in Coolidge Corner, which is a really nice area for the price they were looking at,” Jesse explained. “And I found them a great lease.  I honestly think they’ll like living there.” 


“I don’t care how nice a neighborhood they’re in, even just across town is too far away,” Max said, clearly frustrated.  “It’s a bad idea to split up the group and Michael knows that.”


“He left for Maria’s sake,” Liz reminded him. “He couldn’t let her go off alone, Max, none of us could.  I’m worried about her, and you should be too.”


“He should have talked her out of it,” Hanley spoke up, as if talking Maria out of something would be an easy matter.  “With all the danger out there, he needs to be here.”


“Some space could be good for ‘em,” Ava finally spoke up. “But, you people don’t seem ta understand that.”


I understand that it’s not safe!” Hanley retorted shortly.

 

“How about I get us something to drink?” Jesse said quickly, heading for the kitchen, clearly uncomfortable with all the tension in the room. 

 

“Thanks,” Hanley replied tiredly.  “Oh, and if you have any Tabasco…”

 

“There’s no such thing as safe,” Max sighed defeatedly, continuing the conversation.

 

“Michael knows that,” Liz assured him.

 

“Then why is he in Coolidge Corner and not here?” Max ground out.


“We have other problems,” Isabel stated grimly, entering the living room with her eyes on the folded piece of paper in her hand.


“What now?” Max demanded.  “Alien crash? World coming to an end? Been there, done that…” he trailed off on a sigh, rubbing his eyes.


“Kyle and Serena left town last night,” Isabel announced, holding the good-bye note out to Max. “They’re going back to Roswell.”


“What?” Liz exclaimed sharply. “Why would they do that? Kyle knows how dangerous that is!”

 

Max took the note from Isabel and looked at Liz before slowly opening it.


“Maybe he didn’t use his head,” Ava offered.  “Or maybe he’s the only smart one here,” she mused, thinking of how stressed everyone was.


Max appeared to be turning an unhealthy shade of red as he read over the note.  Liz reached over to gently slide the paper from his hands, bringing his gaze up to hers. With just a look into her chocolate brown eyes, he slowly began to calm down.  They just seemed to have one problem after another and he didn’t know which one to tackle first.  Liz was his anchor in the chaos, the only person he could trust to understand him and love him no matter what. 

 

 “Well, they will definitely need a protector,” Hanley finally said with a weary sigh.


“Who will need a protector?” Jesse asked, returning from the kitchen with a pitcher of fresh lemonade and some glasses.


“Kyle and Serena,” Hanley clarified absently.  “They should have known better … with all the danger that exists there.”

 

“Why would Kyle and Serena need a protector?  The danger that exists where?” Jesse prodded, still lost. 

 

Catching him up with the conversation, Isabel answered, “Kyle and Serena left last night and went back to Roswell.”

 

“What? That’s crazy!” Jesse spat, nearly losing his lemonade.  He set the drinks on the end table distractedly.


“We can’t do anything about that now,” Max declared. “It’s too dangerous to just go after them.”

 

“They will need protection,” Hanley stated.

 

Max just looked at him.  As much as he wanted to disapprove, Hanley was right.  Max just didn’t know what to do about it with things as they were.


Max ran his hands through his already messy hair and forced himself to take a deep breath.  He reluctantly took a drink, sipping on it slowly, thinking.  Liz leaned against him and held his free hand in both of hers.  He looked at her and somehow he just knew … everything would be okay.

 

~.~.~.~.~

Hmmmm,” Kyle mumbled as he mulled over the choices in front of him.  “I can’t make the wrong decision here, ‘cause who knows what the consequences would be?”


He glanced over at the bag of M&M’s, then back to the Snicker’s bar.  “Which would she like?” he wondered aloud.  This was a life or death situation; picking the wrong kind of chocolate could equal death when it came to girls.  Taking one last look at his options, Kyle couldn’t help but laugh out loud.  He definitely preferred these kind of dangerous situations compared to the ones that he had been facing recently - ones that involved actual danger. 


Of course, they could still be in danger, but for the life of him, Kyle couldn’t bring himself to care.  He felt far away from it now. And he was thankful that Serena was away from it as well.    They were here – alone and together.


He knew how hard it had been for her to make that choice, yet she had.  For him...  for herself, it didn’t matter.  She was here, just a few yards away, sleeping peacefully on the bus, like an angel sent to make his life complete.


Kyle’s thoughts wandered towards her, remembering how beautiful she’d looked just a few moments before.  Her head resting against the back of her seat, forehead pressed against his shoulder.  She’d even had her arm draped over his.  When the driver stopped for a bathroom break, it took all Kyle had to leave her, but they would need something to snack on during the long trip.  And what better snack than…


Chocolate.  She deserved chocolate.  He was going to buy his girl some chocolate.

 

His girl.

 

2.

 

“Yup,” Kyle said to himself.  “Big, fat grin on this boy’s face.”


“Made up your mind yet, buddy?” the gas station attendant called out, jerking Kyle from his thoughts.


Nodding his head, Kyle grabbed a bag of M&M’s.  He took a couple of steps, then went back and snatched up the Snickers bar as well.  “I’ll get her both,” he thought with a grin.  “Just in case.”


The attendant rolled his eyes, ringing up the snacks and bagging them all in one hurried motion.  However, Kyle was too lost in thoughts to notice.  He was with Serena, and he was going home...


“Dude,” the attendant interrupted his thoughts again.  “Isn’t that your bus?” he asked, pointing out the window.


Kyle’s head snapped up to see the bus as it started to roll away.  “Damnit!” he exclaimed, tossing his money on the counter, coins scattering in every direction, and snatching up the bag. 

 

Waving his arms like a madman, he tore out of the station, chasing after his ride.

 

~.~.~.~.~

 

Hmmmmm,” Serena sighed groggily, reaching out in her sleep for the warm body that was supposed to be beside her.  But her arms encountered nothing but air. 

 

Her mind snapped awake, rapidly taking in her surroundings.  “Kyle?” she called out, getting to her feet.


“That boy that was with you?” one of the other passengers questioned.


Serena nodded her head in confirmation, her eyes still searching for him.


“Don’t worry, dear,” the elderly woman reassured her.  “He just got off to grab something from the station, or I think that’s what he said… my hearing’s not as good as it used to be,” she admitted.


Giving the woman a small smile of thanks, Serena focused her gaze out the window and spotted him instantly, standing in the station.  Slowly, she settled back down into her seat, shifting around to get comfortable as she watched him.


He was shifting back and forth on his feet in front of a candy display.  Serena found herself laughing because she couldn’t decide if he was trying to make a decision or just really had to go to the bathroom.  Either way, he seemed a bit excited.


Truth be told, so was she.  Excited and happy with a bit of nervousness mixed in.  This was the road un-traveled, for the both of them.  She couldn’t even say where they were right now, but the funny thing was – it didn’t matter.  She was with him, and that was all she could force herself to care about at this point.


She focused on him as he moved up to the counter.  “Oy,” she giggled, taking inventory of all the stuff he carried in his arms.  “That’s a lot of junk food.”


Suddenly, the bus shifted to life. 

 

Eyes widening, Serena turned her head just in time to see the driver close the doors, sit down, and remove the parking brake.  Her eyes returned to the station, seeing Kyle still standing there at the counter.  “No,” she muttered as the bus began to move.


It didn’t stop.

 

“No,” she cried out, more forcefully than the first.


The driver wasn’t paying any attention to her.  She glanced back, now watching Kyle dart out the front door and chase after the moving bus, the bag in his arms flaying about wildly.


“STOP!” she shouted.


Instinctively, the driver hit the brakes.  Serena felt herself jerk forward, slamming into the seat in front of her.


“What the hell,” the driver demanded, whipping his head around to look at her.


Then, came Kyle’s pounding fists at the door of the bus.  Serena let out a deep breath when the driver, who was muttering a few choice phrases, opened the door to let him on.


Kyle jumped on instantly, his eyes immediately meeting hers.  With a few quick strides, he was by her side.


“I...  got....  you ...  chocolate,” he told her, gasping for air.  He waved the bag around triumphantly, grinning like he’d won a marathon.


That was all it took for the entire bus to erupt in laughter.


~.~.~.~.~

 

Surfing through the radio stations, Maria settled for one that was playing a country song.  She wasn’t sure if she liked country music, but the words seemed to fit her mood perfectly.  Michael was at work and Maria had spent most of the day decorating the apartment.  Knowing he would soon be home for dinner, she busied herself with making their meal and turned up the radio when a particular song began to play.


‘For the first time I didn’t feel alone … we just get closer, I fall in love all over every time I look at you…life with you makes perfect sense, you’re my best friend’


“My best friend,” Maria hummed to herself while she stirred some spaghetti sauce. “My best friend.”


She began to sing the words with the radio, glancing at the boiling pot of water and gently adding the noodles.  While singing to herself, she remembered the romantic Italian dinner that Michael made for her once and hoped that this dinner would be just as nice.  With that thought in mind she began to chop up some lettuce for the salad and continued to hum the song on the radio.


‘You're more than a lover, there could never be another, to make me feel the way you do’


She quieted when she realized that someone was practically pounding on the door and quickly turned down the radio before walking to the door.  Glancing through the peephole, she sighed when she saw it was Liz outside her door.  Her best friend … or at least she was supposed to be, according to Liz. Even Michael said she was. 

 

‘Life with you makes perfect sense, you’re my best friend…’


Maria opened the door and gave Liz a forced smile.  Liz smiled back tentatively, and glanced into the apartment curiously.   Remembering the noodles, Maria waved her inside and rushed over to the stove to stir them.  She glanced at Liz standing awkwardly in the doorway, and hoped she was going to speak up before Michael came home.

 

“What’s up, Liz?” she finally prompted.


“I thought … I was hoping we could… talk,” Liz explained haltingly.  “I know you’re not who you used to be and all, and I totally understand that now … but I was hoping that we could still be friends.”


“Uh…yeah, maybe,” Maria answered without conviction.  She still remained completely torn about her feelings for Liz.  The memories she had about Liz were conflicting, some led her to believe that Liz had been her sister, some her enemy.  Her feelings about Liz were one of the reasons she wanted to leave Jesse’s apartment in the first place.


“Maybe?” Liz repeated unhappily.


“Look, I just need some time,” Maria explained. “Everything is so jumbled … I still don’t know up from down sometimes.”


“But… Michael helps you,” Liz pointed out, “why can’t I help you?”


“Liz-”


“No, what I mean is that whether I can help you or not, I’d still like to be your friend … we could still be close, you know?  Or at least be close again.  I really want that, Maria,” Liz said, her eyes imploring. She wanted to share some of the great memories she had of her friend, but knew it would only make things worse. 


‘You’re my best friend…’ the song droned on, but Maria had lost interest.  She sighed and gently set down the wooden spoon she had been using to stir the spaghetti sauce.  Liz just didn’t quite understand.


“I can’t promise anything,” Maria insisted and added softly, “Just please give me some time, Liz, okay?  The pressure… it’s too much.”


“I understand, that’s… fine,” Liz said, a vile taste welling in her throat.  “Well, I’ll let you get back to your, uh, dinner…” 

 

Maria knew that she would be upset.  She felt bad for Liz, for all of them.  The only way she could get back to some kind of sane state was to be away from the group.  She had to sort through all these conflicting feelings. 

 

“Oh, and by the way, Kyle and Serena left,” Liz said, pausing before the door.  “They went back to Roswell,” she added, hoping for some reaction.

 

But Maria’s only response was to nod, as she continued to monitor her simmering dinner.

 

Upset, Liz whirled and exited the room swiftly, making Maria sigh. All she wanted was some time to get herself together, why couldn’t Liz understand that? She jumped as the front door closed with a resounding thud, and she bit her lip regretfully.

 

Liz might not understand the need for it, but Maria had the feeling she would get the space she had been asking for.

 

 

~.~.~.~.~

 

3.

 

 

Another day, another dollar.  Max looked around the video store and counted the number of videos stacked up on the counter waiting to be reshelved.  With a defeated sigh, Max walked around the counter and picked up the stack.  He worked swiftly, not concentrating on the task at hand.  Instead his mind wandered to his family – or what was left of it.  First he lost Alex and then his son.  Max’s jaw clenched at the thought of Tess and what she had done.  Michael and Maria just abandoned him and now Kyle and Serena have left for good.  He shook his head sadly.  What next?

 

“New guy Jared starts tomorrow,” came the boss’s voice from behind him.  

 

Aaron Kest was a short, curly-haired businessman with a heavy New England accent.  “Finish stacking those videos and get back behind the counter.”

 

Max nodded, distracted.

 

Suddenly, Max turned around, facing his boss.  “Don’t you care? Even a little bit?”

 

“About what exactly?” the man replied, a rather shocked look crossing his face.

 

“Kyle,” Max said, presumably stating the obvious.

 

“Well.  Look, Max.  I know you and Kyle are friends.  But he didn’t exactly give me any notice.”

 

“But I told you, he had a family emergency,” Max said, eyes blazing.

 

“I know and I understand that things like that can be sudden.  But I have a business to run here not a charity.  On that note, you’ll have to pick up the extra shifts until we can get Jared trained,” Mister Kest said walking away.

 

Max watched the man walk slowly down the aisle and muttered obscenities under his breath.

 

“What was that Max?” the man said, turning, looking incredulous.

 

“Nothing,” Max relented.  He finished stacking the videos and moved behind the counter again.

 

~.~.~.~.~

 

As Michael pulled the key out of the ignition and kicked his bike’s kickstand out, he squinted at the rusty, old van.  He'd spent nearly two months in that cramped little thing parked just outside his apartment complex.  He wondered briefly who had decided to pay a visit, considering that almost everyone was furious with them for leaving in the first place.  That was until he saw Liz storming out.


“Hey, Liz!” Michael called. Liz stopped suddenly, looking up as if in a daze.  It was then that he realized she was crying.  “What...I...are you.... look...” Michael sighed. This was so much easier with Maria.  “What's wrong?”


Liz shook her head and swiped at her tears, wishing it was anyone but Michael seeing them fall.  “Nothing. I just…” Liz gave a defeated sigh and changed the subject.  “Kyle and Serena left for Roswell.”


“What?!”


Liz reeled back a step at Michael's outburst.  “They left a note... and there really isn't anything we can do, because...” She sighed again.  “They’re already gone.”


Gesturing wildly, Michael tried to make sense of her words.  “Nothing we can do?  They'll be killed...what...I...”


“Don't you think we know that?” Liz yelled, taking all her frustration with Kyle, Serena, and Maria out on Michael.  “Don't you think Kyle knows that? He knew the risks and he went anyway. He wasn't happy here, and maybe... maybe he'll be okay.  Maybe... it's safe–”


“It’s not safe!” Michael bellowed.  “It was never safe!”


“Look, I didn't come here to fight with you Michael, I have more important things to do... we all do! Except for you it seems...all you've been caring about lately is Maria...and she's not even Maria anymore! So why do you care so much?!”  Liz nearly screamed in frustration.  “Can you just tell me that? Why? She's not her!”


A look of dead seriousness crept over Michael’s features as he stepped up to Liz, looking down at her with his furious brown eyes.  “Leave, if that's what you think... if that's what any of you think – then you can all just stay away from us!”


Liz glared back up at him.  “Gladly!”


And with that, Liz turned and quickly got into the van and took off down the road with a screech of tires.

 

Seething with fury, Michael stomped his way up to the apartment.

 

Maria jumped as he came pounding through the door and watched as he threw his helmet into the couch – a couch that hadn't been there when he'd left that morning, but he hardly noticed as his gaze settled on her. 

 

“What did she say to you? Because if what she said to you was anywhere near as rude as what she said to me, then I'll...I'll–”


“You'll what? Bitch and moan? Because you're doing a good job of that now,” Maria said playfully, as she came up to him and placed her hands on his shoulders, rubbing softly as she stared up into his furious eyes.


“What did she say?” Michael demanded again, interrupting.


“Nothing really,” Maria said with a shrug.  “If she was mad, then it was probably my fault.  She just wants more.” She looked down sadly.  “More than I can give her right now.”


“She should know that,” Michael ground out. 


Maria shrugged.  “Maybe not... or maybe she does, she just won't accept it.  I know how she feels.”  She stepped forward and gently grazed her fingers against the side of Michael’s face, soothing him slowly but surely.  “Sometimes I wish that things could go back to the way they were, but I know that this way is better... better for me, better for you.  Once I get my head balanced, things will be right... I just wish she could give me the time to get there.”


Michael nodded slowly, quelling his rage.  “I know... and that's why I'm going to go over there tomorrow and tell them that.” He swallowed.  “That for right now, we want to be left alone.”


Maria's eyes widened.  “Michael, you don't have to do that–”


“Yes, I do,” he replied.  “I don't want to hear them say that you're not you and hear them say it as if you're the enemy... not anymore.  If they can't trust you, then they should trust me.  But that's just it,” he seethed.  “They never have.”


Raking a hand through his hair, Maria said softly, “Don't be so angry at them...they can't always know what to do... or what's right.  And we can't expect them to. We can only do what we need to... and hope that later they'll see.” She shrugged.  “See that everything is as it's supposed to be for us.”


“Is it?” Michael asked thoughtfully.  “What was wrong before?”


Maria glanced down.  “She told you.”


“Yeah, but I don't buy that,” Michael said firmly, wrapping his arms around her waist tightly, and pressing his forehead against hers.  “Maybe I was with Calypso before... and maybe you are part of her, but you're also Maria, and no matter what anyone says – you are my destiny.


Blinking away tears, Maria asked softly, “Do you really think so?  Because I feel so much of her in me... Calypso, but... I feel her strength mostly.”


Michael nodded.  “That's what I think she meant when she said you'd balance out... you'll have the best parts of who you always were and then the best parts of Maria... it's just–”


“Going to take time.”


“And if it's one thing we have now... it's time,” Michael said with a long sigh, softly smirking as he glanced around the apartment... the newly decorated apartment.


No, not just an apartment... a home. 


“We have time.”

 

~.~.~.~.~

 

4.

 

It had almost been five hours since the embarrassing gas station incident.  They had been somewhere near the Indiana/Illinois border then, but Kyle had no idea where the bus was now.  No signs he had seen said anything about New Mexico, so he couldn’t really muster the urge to care.


Time was just moving way too slowly for him as his anticipation grew.  He was getting closer and closer to home by the minute.  Yet, the minutes, themselves, seemed to be taking hours.


“Bored?” Serena asked softly, gently running a finger down the line of his jaw.


He turned his head towards her touch.  “Just thinking,” he confessed.


“About Roswell?” she questioned, bringing the rest of her hand up to stroke his cheek.


“About home,” he added, unconsciously turning his face into her palm.


Serena nodded her head in understanding.  She knew how excited he was, and now it was making him restless with nervous energy.  She had to do something to take his mind off things, before he went crazy.


Seeing a Volkswagen Beetle pass by the window, an idea shot into her head.  “Let’s play a road game,” she blurted out.


Kyle looked at her like she had lost her mind.  “Huh?” he managed to mutter just before her fist made contact with his arm.  “Hey!”


“Slug Bug,” she called out, smiling wickedly.


He sat up a bit straighter.  “So let me get this straight… you saw the bug, and I got the slug?”


“That’s the rules,” she informed him.


Rubbing at the spot where she hit him, Kyle shook his head.  “I don’t think I like this game.  Isn’t there some other road game we can play?”


Serena thought for a moment.  “Track Whack?” she suggested.  “Same principle, only you do it when the bus goes over train tracks.”


“Remind me to sign you up for anger management when we get to Roswell,” Kyle teased.


Moi?” Serena joked, fluttering her eyes and dramatically gesturing towards herself.


“So, might there be any car game that involves stripping?” Kyle asked, wrapping his arms around her waist.


“Maybe we could change the rules a bit,” she taunted, rubbing her hand across Kyle’s broad chest. 


Kyle wiggled his eyebrows suggestively.  “Really?”


Serena moved in closer.  “Really.”


As luck would have it, another VW Bug passed by the window at that exact moment.  “Slug Bug, Slug Bug,” Kyle shouted, emphatically pointing out the window.  Then he turned to face her.  “Strip!” he ordered with a mischievous grin.


Rolling her eyes at his newfound cause for excitement, Serena leaned forward in her seat.  Her long red hair fell forward just enough to block his view of what she was doing.


“Serena...” he mumbled.


Quickly, she sat up.  Looking him straight in the eye, she placed one of her tennis shoes in his lap.  “Happy?” she mocked, seeing the dumbfounded look on his face.


The expression quickly faded to one of pure contentment.  “Very,” he told her as he moved closer to her.  Gently, he covered her mouth with his own, relishing her presence.


“Very, very happy,” he thought to himself.

 

~.~.~.~.~

 

“It's so quiet...” Isabel mused as she stared out at the nearly empty apartment.  Only she and Max were there.  “You know...now that Michael, Maria, Kyle, and Serena aren't here.”

 

“Yeah...I noticed that.” Max nodded from where he sat next to her, staring at the TV which wasn't even on.

 

“I wonder where Jesse is?” Isabel mused.

 

“I wonder where Liz is?Max mused in turn.

 

Isabel sighed.  “Sounds like a conspiracy. We really need to get out more. At least that's what Michael and Maria have now... a life, together.  That's more than any of us can say.”

 

Max shook his head.  “It won't last... we'll need him back here soon enough.  And it will all be for nothing.”

 

“Thanks for the royal boost of confidence, Maxwell,” Michael snapped, making his presence known from the doorway.

 

“Michael...” Isabel stood abruptly.  “We didn't hear you come in.”

 

“Obviously,” Michael said dryly.

 

Max didn't make any move to stand.  “Forget something, Michael?” he asked mildly.

 

“No... just came by to let both of you know, and you can tell the others too, that we'd appreciate it – Maria and I – If you'd leave us alone for awhile.  So we can get settled and –”

 

“What?” Max interrupted.

 

“Max, don't make this any harder, okay?”

 

“On who?!” Max asked incredulously, jumping to his feet.  “You? Do you feel guilty? At all? Because you should!”

 

“Max...” Isabel tried to intervene, but Max cut her off.

 

“Isabel,” he returned tightly, then turned back to face Michael. Keeping a tight rein on his temper, his voice was low and serious, though he paced around restlessly.  “We need you here, Michael.  Not just because of all this crap with Hanley and Ava and being in danger again… but because you are our friend, our brother.  How can you just write us out of your lives, Michael?  How?”

 

“Do you have a reason at least?” Isabel put in before Michael could answer Max.  “Do you have a reason to want to be away from us, to cut off all contact from us, your family?”

 

“I don't need a reason, Isabel,” Michael said calmly.  “And I know you're my family... but so is Maria.  Even more so now than before.  Why don't you two get that?!”

 

Max shrugged.  “Maybe it's just a little too hard to believe that someone who was in love with one person, could be in love with someone so different now… Can you explain that to us?” he asked, his voice rising as his temper began to break free again.

 

“No,” Michael shook his head.  “I can't...and she's not that different.”

 

“Not that different, Michael? She's completely different! She's not even a shadow of who Maria once was!”

 

“You've never even given her a chance!” Michael yelled back.

 

“Enough!” Isabel shouted, moving to stand between her brother and friend.

 

“No!” Michael shouted, taking a step closer to Max.  “Maria needs time! She’s told all of you that over and over again and I've told you that! Why won't you listen to us?! She'll be fine...she's already started to balance out.  You just couldn't be patient and trust us... not even a little! You’re too worried about yourselves!”

 

A dead silence came over the trio as Michael and Max faced off, both heavily breathing. Isabel ran a hand through her hair, warily watching the two.

 

Michael finally sighed and forced himself to calm down.  “So... we're done trying.  If you can't be in our lives and have a little patience... then we don't want you there at all.”  He glanced over at Isabel's saddened features.  “At least not until we can prove to you that Maria's going to be fine.  Though we shouldn't have to prove it... but we will.”

 

Max started to speak again but Michael cut him off.

 

“We will,” Michael repeated emphatically, giving Max a defiant glare. With that he left, the door slamming shut behind him.

 

“God, can you believe him?” Max said angrily, balling his fist.  “Can you?” 

 

Isabel nodded.  “Yeah, I can,” she said and then ran out the door after Michael.  “Michael, wait!”

 

Michael turned, and then shook his head as he pushed the elevator button over and over.  “I'm done fighting Isabel.”

 

“I don't want to fight,” Isabel said helplessly.  “That's the last thing I want... I understand that you and Maria need space... I wish more than anything that Jesse and I could have some, but I know that with what's happened with Maria, you two need it... just a tad more.”

 

Michael gave a sigh of relief.  “Why can you understand that and not Max?”

 

“You're asking me to understand my brother? You know how impossible he can be sometimes,” Isabel said with a knowing smile.  “But he means well, and you know that.”

 

“Yeah, well.  Meaning well doesn't always mean you're doing the right thing.  If there's one thing I've learned... it's that,” Michael said, stepping into the elevator as the doors opened.

 

“Michael...” Isabel started.  “Can I still come by sometime...to talk to Maria?”

 

Michael started to protest, but Isabel cut in, “There are some things that she and I should get out in the open... some things, that I really need to ask her... about our... past.”

 

As the doors started to close, Michael nodded and smirked slightly, “Just don't upset her.”

 

Isabel turned away from the closed doors.  “I'll try,” she said softly, wondering if she really even knew how anymore.  Max was certainly right about one thing – Maria had changed more than Michael seemed to realize.

 

~.~.~.~.~

 

Isabel re-entered the apartment to find Max staring moodily out the window.  She walked up behind him and put a hand on his shoulder.  “It’s never easy with Michael, you know that.”

 

Max sighed.  “I know… I just wish that he could see how much we need him!”  He shook off Isabel’s comforting hand and began to pace again.  “Kyle runs off to Roswell with Serena, Maria turns into some Maria-clone who no one but Michael recognizes, they move out and kick us out of their lives, Hanley’s breathing down my neck about needing to be the damn king again…”

 

Isabel took Max by the shoulders, stopping his pacing.  “Max!  Just stop, you’re driving yourself crazy.”

 

Max looked into his sister’s pleading eyes and forced himself to take a deep, calming breath.  “You’re right.  I know – you’re right.  It’s just so hard.”

 

“We don’t expect you to be perfect, Max.”

 

“It’s still hard.  I still feel so… responsible for everyone.  Not just Liz, you, and Michael, but Maria, Kyle, and Serena as well – even Hanley.”  Max pulled away from Isabel and went back to stare broodingly out the window again.

 

Isabel sighed and then heard her stomach growl slightly.  She glanced at her watch and realized it was about time for lunch.  “Okay, Max,” she began with overblown cheerfulness.  “You need to get your mind off all this, I need to get my mind off it, and we both need to get some air.  Let’s do lunch.”

 

Max turned from the window and smiled slightly.  “Okay, let’s go.”

 

Isabel grabbed her purse and dragged Max out of the apartment building and into the elevator.  The doors were about to close when a woman’s voice shouted, “Hold the elevator!”  Max quickly pressed the door open button, and moments later a woman bustled into the small space with two children, a boy and a girl, in tow.

 

“Thanks,” she said breathlessly.  “Jonathan Edward Murray, don’t you dare push a single button,” she warned the small boy as his fingers inched toward the floor button panel.  He pulled his hand back as quickly as if he’d touched a hot stove, grinning impishly up at Isabel.  “He just loves to push every button,” the woman explained to Isabel and Max with a wry grin.

 

“Up, Mommy, up,” the little girl said loudly, holding her arms up.  The mother sighed theatrically, but picked the girl up.  As the elevator came to a stop, the girl planted a smacking kiss on her mother’s cheek.  “Love you, Mommy!”

 

The woman and her children exited the elevator, followed by Max, who quickly realized Isabel wasn’t following.

 

“Isabel?” he asked, turning around and putting his arm in the door to keep it from closing.  “Izzy?  What’s wrong?”

 

Isabel shook herself, trying to suppress the surge of emotion the sight of the mother and her children had provoked.  “Sorry, Max.  Nothing’s wrong, I’m fine.  I’m fine,” she repeated, staring in the direction the small family had gone.

 

Max gave Isabel an odd look, and taking her arm, drew her out of the elevator.  “You can’t fool me, Iz.  I’m your brother, remember?”

 

“Max…” Isabel began tiredly.

 

“Isabel, it won’t help to bottle up whatever’s bothering you.  You’ll just end up beating up garbage cans,” he added wryly, remembering the time just after Tess announced her pregnancy and Isabel had caught Max beating up their trash cans back home in Roswell.

 

Isabel tried to smile.  “Wouldn’t want the poor garbage cans to get hurt,” she said.

 

“Isabel.  Come on,” he coaxed as he led her down the street towards a nearby deli.

 

Isabel sighed.  “It’s just… well, Jesse…” Isabel hesitated.

 

“Jesse what?  Is something wrong between you and Jesse?  Did he do something to you?”

 

Isabel rolled her eyes and pulled her arm out of Max’s.  “Oh, stop it with the protective brother routine.  Nothing’s wrong between Jesse and me.  It’s just… the other day, Jesse told me that he… well he told me that he can’t have children.”  There, she’d said it out loud.  Somehow, it didn’t make it feel any better.

 

“Oh,” Max said slowly, not sure how to react to her sudden outburst.  He looked over at his sister and saw the sadness etched on her face.  On instinct he stopped walking and pulled her into a tight embrace.  He stepped back his hands on her shoulders and said looking directly into her tear-filled eyes, “You know if you need anything, I’m here for you.”

 

Isabel bobbed her head up and down wiping away the tears that had fallen down her face.

 

“Have you and Jesse talked about any… alternatives?  You could adopt, or maybe get a sperm donor or something…”

 

“We sort of talked about it a little,” Isabel replied with a sniffle.  “I’d sort of put it on the back burner with everything that’s going on.”

 

“Isabel, I don’t want you to have to do that.  You need to be able to have a life.”  Max put his arm around his sister and they both walked slowly towards their destination.

 

“I can’t abandon you and the gang Max.”

 

“Other people did.”

 

“Max.  They didn’t mean to – wait, we weren’t going to talk about that.  We were going to have a nice, peaceful lunch in which we devised ways to actually have lives again.”

 

Max smiled. “Right, so that we weren’t sitting at home all day wondering where our spouses were.”

 

5.

 

“Exactly,” Isabel said as they entered the deli.  “Now pick your sandwich, brother dear.”

 

“After you, my darling sister.”

 

With a smile, Isabel ordered her sandwich.  Maybe things would turn out all right in the end after all.

 

~.~.~.~.~

 

Serena Journal Entry – April 23rd

 

 

The bus that Kyle and I are traveling on is speeding down another seemingly endless road.  Kyle’s steady breathing in the seat next to me is the only comfort I have at this point.  The bus is almost empty now except for an elderly couple up front and a few other tourists sitting near us. 


I can’t fix my eyes on any one object outside of the window.  Everything seems the same, a blur of one never-ending solid picture.  It’s almost like traveling in the van again.


It just seems like so much has happened to get us to this point… this quiet time is the only opportunity I’ve had to think about everything that has happened.  Trying to sort out the mess in my head with all the background noise at the apartment had been impossible.

 

There was only one thing that I know for sure, and that is that I am glad that Kyle is beside me.  Everything else is immaterial. Wherever my destination, the most important thing is that Kyle be with me when I got there.  Watching him sleep beside me only strengthens these feelings.  The only constant I have to hold onto is the steady rise and fall of his chest.  Even something so simple and ordinary seems extraordinary to me. 


Kyle is just a constant amazement.  To have one person make me feel safe, trusted, loved, all of the things I hadn’t felt in a very long time – it’s heartwarming.  I guessed that’s what home feels like. 

 

 

Stifling a yawn, Serena took a blanket from underneath her seat and laid it over both of them.  She gently laid her head on Kyle’s chest and listened to the steady beating of his heart.  She fell asleep with the feeling that this was where she belonged.  Whether it was in Roswell or Boston, Kyle was her home. 

 

~.~.~.~.~.

 

“Okay, I’m working until closing so I won’t be home until late.”  Michael leaned down and gave Maria a small peck on the forehead.  She was looking through the classified ads, methodically covering them with red x’s and o’s

 

“Okay,” she smiled up at him, reaching up and bringing his head down for a slow kiss. 

 

Michael smiled at her, grabbed his coat, and headed for the door. 

 

“Tell Isabel she can come in,” Maria called out just as his hand touched the handle. 

 

“What?” Michael turned from Maria to the door, a look of confusion on his face.

 

Maria smiled patiently.  “Open the door, Michael.”

 

Finally turning the handle, Michael peered beyond the door before opening it up all the way, glancing back at Maria, still confused.

 

“Okay, that was… never mind.  I’ve got to get to work,” he waved at Maria before sidestepping an equally confused Isabel and heading down the hall. 

 

“So,” Isabel stated, closing the door.  “You knew I was here.”

 

“Oh yeah,” Maria waved her hand in dismissal.  “I could feel your presence outside the door.  Faint, but it was there.”

 

“Oh…” Feeling very awkward, Isabel looked around the room, trying to find something to talk about.  “You took the curtains I told you about!”

 

“Yeah,” Maria stood up and walked over to Isabel.  “I tried them out and thought, why the hell not? Besides, Michael doesn’t pay attention to things like curtains.  He was more concerned about getting his CD collection in order.” Maria rolled her eyes, chuckling. 

 

“Jesse’s like that too,” Isabel mused.  “He doesn’t pay attention to the little things like table cloths or rugs.  He’s more concerned that I stay out of his office space.”

 

“Oh God,” Maria rolled her eyes again.  “Don’t get me started on Michael’s closet!”

 

Isabel smiled nervously, looking down at her hands.  “Can I talk to you, Maria?”

 

“Sure,” Maria tilted her head, studying Isabel’s features.  “What’s up?”

 

“Well…” Isabel said carefully, knowing what she was about to say could spark conflict.  “About when I first came in… that was something you’ve never done before.”

 

Maria’s eyes narrowed slightly and Isabel waved her hands, staving off any retort she had before continuing.

 

“The thing is… I mostly came over because well… before you and Calypso did that mergy thing...  I tried to dreamwalk you and I saw things.  Things about before.”

 

“Antar,” Maria filled in.  She nodded, finally understanding.  “You have questions about how we were before… Vilandra and Calypso.”

 

“Yeah… I figured you’d have the answers about us.  Our past lives.”

 

Maria sat down on a chair, indicating Isabel to do the same.  “Isabel, I have answers but I don’t have all of them.  I only have what I remember.  And right now I’m still –”

 

“– sorting everything out.” Isabel finished.  “I know.  I just thought –”

 

“Maybe in a few days?” Maria suggested.  “I mean, things are starting to clear up a bit but nothing’s concrete yet.  Bits and pieces is all I have to work with right now.”

 

“Sure,” Isabel nodded her head.  “Do you want me to call first or…

 

“Just come right on over,” Maria smiled.  “You’re always welcome here, Isabel.”

 

 

~.~.~.~.~

 

 

“We’re getting close,” Kyle said, taking Serena’s hand.


Returning home was exciting, yet somewhat frightening at the same time.  It had been a long time since he had been in Roswell.


Serena smiled as she offered Kyle more chips out of the bag they had bought at a stop in Texas.  “I can’t wait to show you around, for you to meet my dad.  You’ll love him, I know you will.”


“Should I be nervous?” Serena asked, unsure exactly how to feel about meeting someone so obviously important to Kyle.


“No, he’s gonna love you!” Kyle laughed.  “I’m sure of it.” 

 

There was no possible way in Kyle’s mind that his dad could not see all the wonderful things that Kyle saw in her.


“If you say so…” Serena said, clearly unconvinced. 

 

“I promise,” Kyle answered, leaning over and giving Serena a soft kiss.


“Look!  Look, see that!” Kyle exclaimed, pointing to the large ‘Welcome to Roswell’ sign
ahead on the side of the road.  “Holy crap, do I have a story to tell about that…” he said, leaning over to whisper to Serena.


“So I was out fishing with my dad, and when we drove by on our way back to town there was this rod, stuck in that very sign…”

 

 

 

© 2002-2003 Roswell: The Final Chapter.  Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.  Any similarities to events, real or imaginary, are strictly coincidental.  Roswell: The Final Chapter is in no way affiliated with UPN, the WB, Regency Television, 20th Century Fox, or Jason Katims Productions.

 

© 2004-2005 Roswell: The Final Chapter.  Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.  Any similarities to events, real or imaginary, are strictly coincidental.  Roswell: The Final Chapter is in no way affiliated with UPN, the WB, Regency Television, 20th Century Fox, or Jason Katims Productions.

© 2006-2007 Roswell: The Final Chapter.  Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.  Any similarities to events, real or imaginary, are strictly coincidental.  Roswell: The Final Chapter is in no way affiliated with UPN, the WB, Regency Television, 20th Century Fox, or Jason Katims Productions.