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“Transitions”

Story by Annie

Written by Annie, Cole, Jeslyn, and Kristin

Edited by Lisa, Lizzy, Mark, Sherry and Tiff

Playlist:

1. “Here We Go Again” by Riddlin’ Kids

2. “Times Like These (acoustic)” by Foo Fighters

3. “There, There” by Radiohead

4. “My Skin” by Natalie Merchant

1.

“Damn,” Michael cursed softly as he read over his hours for the week.

Glancing up, he spotted his boss serving a rum and coke from behind the bar.

“Hey, Vince,” Michael called as he approached, then stopped when he saw the recipient of the drink. The man looked to be in his mid-forties, wearing a crisp suit with a loosened tie. He looked familiar to Michael somehow.

“You new around here? I don’t think I know you, do I?” Michael asked, suspicion edging his voice.

“No, you don’t,” the man answered simply, then stood and tossed his money on the counter before striding out, leaving his drink untouched.

“Rude, much?” Michael muttered under his breath, scowling after the man’s retreating form.

Vince cracked a smile. “That guy's been coming in for two weeks... always wearing the same suit, same tie... and always ordering a rum and coke. Strange fella, but he helps pay the bills.”


“That's fascinating,” Michael deadpanned, “But, speaking of paying the bills, I'd like to know why my hours suck this week. Do you really think I can make rent and put food on the table when I'm only scheduled for twenty hours?”


“Look, Michael,” Vince said as he picked up a glass and began to clean it. “I know you just moved in with your girl and all, but I got a lot of guys with the same needs. Not to mention that ever since Calypso mysteriously disappeared, so has my biggest revenue. Just look at it out there…it’s dead.”


Michael tensed. “Yeah, she had to skip town. Family emergency or something...” he trailed off as the proverbial light bulb slowly turned on. “But you know, her sister is my girlfriend and she sings too... better even.”


That caught Vince's attention. “Calypso's sister?” he asked, the rag in his hand stopping abruptly. “I never knew she had a sister.”

Twin sister,” Michael added hastily.

“Well I’ll tell you what,” Vince started. “You get your girl here a couple nights a week, and we can up your hours.”


“And?” Michael asked.

“And… what?”


“And, well... Maria, she really wants these certain drapes and bed sheets...” Michael rolled his eyes, seeing Vince’s suspicious look. “To match the walls with the floor, or something like that. Chick things, you know? But anyways they'll make her happy, and she always sings better when she's happy.”

“Alright, alright,” Vince drawled as he opened the cash register and pulled out a few twenties. “Here's a hundred dollars. It’s what Calypso got at the end of the night – her twin better not disappoint.”

Michael took the money eagerly. “You're making my night Vince, thanks,” he said, heading towards the door.

Vince waved the wet towel. “Go on, get your chick things.”

Outside, the evening sun had started to set, the golden springtime rays casting long shadows down the street. This made it difficult to see the shop signs, and Michael almost walked past the quaint house wares shop before noticing it.

Michael searched his memory. She had said something about “neutral tones” and “earthy colors,” and then “layaway” but he hadn’t been paying attention at the time. He looked forlornly into the shop and sighed. What had to be done had to be done and he finally forced himself to open the door.

Inside he perused aisles of various furnishings and house wares, and a lone man and his wife stood over some gaudy His & Hers towels. She fawned at the cute inscriptions, while the man looked bored.

Michael grimaced; the fact that he was here of his own free will struck him like a brickbat. “Oh God, I must be whipped…”

“Excuse me,” an older, female voice came from behind. Michael spun around on his heels.

“Do you know where the toiletries are?” the lady asked.

“Uhh, no…”

The woman smiled and went back to her searching.

Michael just shook his head. Determined, he strode up to the service desk. The bed sheets and drapes Maria had picked out, but couldn’t afford at the time, had been put aside for pickup on Friday. He vowed to himself that there would be a time when money wouldn't be an issue.

He stepped up to the desk, and then pulled back abruptly at the delicate scent that assaulted his nose. From the basket of bath salts on display next to the register emanated a rather nauseating odor. “What the heck is that?” he wondered irritably. “Eau de fermented pineapple?”

He shook his head disgustedly, eager to escape this place. “Excuse me,” he said, trying to get the attention of the clerk behind the counter.

The teenage girl, who was possibly two years younger than he, rolled her eyes. “Yes?” she asked with an air of boredom, not even looking up from her Seventeen Magazine.

About to say something snide, Michael stopped when he caught sight of the man in the suit from the bar, standing by the door… staring straight at Michael.

“What the hell?” Michael breathed, his skin starting to crawl.

Excuse me?” the girl said irritably, finally looking up from her article on the best-dressed teens of the week. She straightened abruptly, seeing Michael on the other side of her counter. “Well hey there, what can I do for you?” she asked sweetly, glancing down at the magazine and back, trying to nonchalantly flip back to the “best-dressed men of ‘03” pages.

Momentarily distracted by the girl's lame attempt at a come-on, Michael glanced away from the doors for only a split second. When he looked back, the man in the suit was gone, and the doors weren't even left swinging.

Taking a deep breath, Michael shook his head. “Paranoid,” he muttered. “I must be imagining things.”


“Excuse me?” the girl said again, frowning.

“Oh, I need to pick up something I have on layaway, under the name Michael Guerin,” he replied, getting down to business and pulling out his wallet.

“Michael, huh?” the girl said with a smile. “You know, that's always been one of my favorite names,” she added as she pulled the order out from under the desk and rang it up.

“Yeah? My girlfriend likes it too,” Michael replied coldly, picking up the bags. “But thanks just the same,” he said before heading out the door without as much as a backwards glance. He was much more interested in where the man in the suit had gone.

The girl exhaled softly, melting into her chair. “What a hottie...”



~.~.~.~.~

2.

“So, this is it,” Kyle said anxiously, parking the rental car next to his old house – the house he had called home for so long. Kyle shook his head, realizing he called the house “old.” It seemed like he’d been gone forever, but it looked better than he could have imagined.

Serena was looking out the window intently, not really saying anything. Kyle said jokingly, “Geez, I know it isn’t much to look at, but...”

“No, Kyle... it isn’t that… it looks like a great place to grow up,” she said quietly, fidgeting with her purse.

“Yeah, it was,” he agreed, getting out of the car and going around to the other side to help Serena out.

They were slowly walking up the walkway when Kyle kind-of chuckled to himself.

“What?” Serena inquired

“The whole bus ride here, I kept thinking that this place had probably changed, you know? Like I would step in Roswell and things would be so different I wouldn’t recognize any of it.”

“And?”

“It’s all exactly the same. The WRHS football field, the Crashdown, the Evans house… all of it is right where I remember it, and even my house looks the same... the shutter is still hanging by a thread. My dad’s old truck is still in its normal place in the driveway, and the mailbox still looks like it is about to fall over from sheer boredom,” he snorted with amusement. “I thought that if I wasn’t here, the place would change... at least some. But it hasn’t--not at all.”

“Exteriors can be deceiving,” Serena murmured, looking up at him.

They arrived on the doorstep, both nervously anticipating their reception.

“Well... here goes nothing,” Kyle said as he gave the door a knock, the whole time watching Serena’s eyes dart nervously around.

“You look like you just stole a cookie from the cookie jar,” Kyle joked, trying to ease the situation.

“What if he hates me? I mean this is your dad, Kyle... and – and what if he doesn’t agree of us…being together?” Serena asked, her eyes showing she was on the verge of panic.

Smiling, Kyle shook his head and took her in his arms, his hand rubbing her back soothingly. “That’s not even remotely possible. How could he not like you?”

Serena shrugged. “I don’t know.”

“Well I do. He’ll like you because I like you, okay?” he said, placing a soft kiss on her forehead.

“Are you sure?” Serena asked, still feeling insecure.

“Of course I am,” he answered, giving her a squeeze.

Turning, Kyle knocked on the door again, and immediately a voice came from the inside. “Hold on, hold on, I’m coming. Keep your pants on!”

The door suddenly opened to reveal a very disheveled Jim Valenti. He looked like he hadn’t slept in days and might have been trying now, judging by the pajama pants and robe he was wearing.

It took him a moment to comprehend just who it was standing in the doorway, but Jim’s face soon broke into a stunned smile, and he seized hold of his son’s upper arms to get a good look at him.

Kyle?! What in the world are you doing here? Is everything okay? Is EVERYONE okay? I mean--”

“Dad, Dad! Hold on for a second before you hyperventilate,” Kyle said with amused affection.

“It’s just… I’m in shock... You guys have been gone for so long, and we weren’t sure whether you were alive or dead, and now all of a sudden here you are on my doorstep. Ha! I just can’t believe it!” Jim said in a tone of shocked joy, running his hand over his face, straightening his unkempt beard only marginally. “I’m afraid if I blink you’ll just vanish... or this is a dream...”

“It’s no dream, Pop. I’m home,” Kyle assured him with a smile.

Convinced at last that this was really happening, Jim finally stepped out onto the entryway and closed his arms around Kyle in a fierce hug.

“I was so scared, son. I can’t tell you how scared I was. I thought I was never gonna see you again,” he choked out against Kyle’s shoulder.

“I thought that too. I’ve missed you so much, Dad,” Kyle said gently, hugging his dad back tightly.

Serena watched their heart-warming reunion with a small smile. Kyle finally had what he’d wanted so badly. He was back with his father.

The two men pulled away from each other with grins as wide as the Grand Canyon. Suddenly remembering his manners, Kyle said, “Oh! Dad, I’d like you to meet my partner in crime.” Turning to smile at Serena, he pulled her forward and made the introductions. “Dad, this…is Serena. Serena…this is my dad, Jim.”

Jim gave Serena a warm smile and shook her hand lightly. “It’s nice to meet you,” he offered in his best composure.

“Likewise,” Serena replied shyly.

Jim turned back to Kyle and eyed them both. “So, what do you mean by partner in crime?”

“Well...I think we’d better go in and sit down,” Kyle gestured into the house. Jim stood aside and watched them passed, feeling apprehensive about this sudden visit.

Jim followed the two into the living room and watched them settle on the couch. Not too close, he noticed, but not too far away either. Had his son finally found someone? He took a seat in the recliner next to the couch and kept his eyes on Kyle.

“So...” Jim started, tidying up the junk on the coffee table.

“Well, I guess you must be wondering who Serena is,” Kyle ventured.

“That is one of many questions that I have.”

“We kind-of picked her up along the way. You know, there was this whole… other thing.” Kyle grinned sheepishly, glancing between his father and Serena. “Liz bumped into her at a carnival and got flashes from the past.”

Serena shifted nervously in her seat.

“I see,” Jim spoke, confusion dotting his face.

“But she isn’t an alien or anything. Her mom had some ties with the aliens apparently, and told her to help us out when the time came. So, I guess the time came, and here she is...after much convincing of course. She’s been with us ever since.”

Jim nodded, knowing that his son would share more information when the time was right. “So where are all the others? Here in Roswell?” he asked.

“Um...no, not exactly,” Kyle said uncomfortably. Jim straightened in his seat.

“Kyle...what exactly is going on?” Jim demanded.

“Liz, Max and the others... well, they didn’t come because they had no idea that I was coming home,” Kyle admitted.

“Kyle! Do you know how dangerous that was?! Max is--”

“Dad, don’t do this.”

“Do what? Act worried...act like I care? Because you know Kyle...not a day has gone by that I didn’t worry if you were okay, if you were sick, hurt...or worse,” Jim said as he closed his eyes, resting his head in his hands.

“We’ve had some rough times, Dad, but I’m okay. I’m here now.”

“Yes, Kyle. I can see that.”

“I just couldn’t be away any longer.”

“The boy who wanted to go and never come back to Roswell, and now he’s homesick.” Jim said lightly, shaking his head.

“What can I say? I missed you, Dad.”

With a tearful smile, Jim shook his head. “I never thought I’d get to hear you say anything like that again. I missed you more than you will ever know.”

Kyle nodded, his throat tight with emotion, feeling the need to lighten the mood. “So, you’re still living here in the old house? The ‘Kit Shickers’ didn’t get a record deal?”

Jim smiled. “Not really much time for the band. I gave it up shortly after you all left. I had so much to deal with, climbing the rope at the sheriff’s department all over again.”

“Oh,” Kyle said, biting his tongue.

“I had my fun, but it didn’t pay the bills. It reminded me of you guys anyway. It just seemed weird that you weren’t at my shows, and I missed Maria’s singing duets. In the end, I just didn’t see the point in it.”

Kyle wanted to say what had happened to Maria, but held that back for now. “That’s too bad. You guys were all right.”

“Thanks. Anyway, looking on the bright side, I am the sheriff again,” he said proudly. “Co-sheriff with Hanson, actually.”

“Congratulations, Dad!” Kyle said sincerely. “I knew you’d get your badge back once you put your mind to it. So…keep the info coming. What all has been going on in Roswell?”

“Well, everything is pretty much the same. The Crashdown is doing well,” Jim said, scratching his head. After a pause, he started again. “Business is better now, all the ‘alien sightings’ and ‘FBI cover-ups exposed’ have more than doubled the tourist trade in just one year. You realize you guys are like celebrities around here, right?”

“Is that so?” Kyle asked, smiling pompously.

Jim returned to scratching his head.

Narrowing his eyes at the gesture, Kyle asked, “And…what are you keeping from me?”

“What?”

“I know when you’re hiding something, ‘cause you always scratch your head like that,” Kyle said as he watched Jim remove his hand from his head, looking at it suspiciously.

Jim sighed. “It’s hard to say, son.”

“So, just say it.”

Jim hesitated then finally confessed, “Kyle, your grandfather is in the hospital.”

Stricken, Kyle asked, “What happened? Is he all right?”

“He had a heart attack. Things are still...he’s in serious condition.”

In a wordless gesture of sympathy, Serena reached over to take Kyle’s hand in hers, stroking it comfortingly.

“What are we still doing here then, let’s go see him,” Kyle said anxiously.

“He isn’t conscious…” He glanced from Kyle’s anxious face to Serena’s worried one. “But okay, if that’s what you want, we can see him.”

“Yeah.” Kyle said, standing up immediately, not wanting to lose another moment to see his grandfather.

~.~.~.~.~

Ava sat on the couch reading the daily paper, trying to familiarize herself with her latest surroundings. Life seemed to be in constant motion around her and she was fascinated by it. The information she read in the paper was only scratching the surface of what she really wanted to know. It was a transitional time for her, not only moving from one place, but one phase to another. With what little quiet time she managed to whittle out for herself away from the prying eyes of the group, Ava found herself needing to absorb all that she could... before it changed again. Seeing all these other places had shown her that there were different ways to live than in a sewer, different clothes to wear and new hairstyles and makeup to try.

She could vaguely hear Hanley whispering on the phone in the next room, and it was distracting her. Glancing down, she realized that she had read the same paragraph at least three times. Sighing, she gave up in frustration. Moving the paper up in front of her face in a casual deception, she peered around its edge towards the cracked door and strained to make out what was being said on the other side. Hanley’s form was visible, pacing back and forth through the crack in the door. She had a feeling whatever it was he was talking about, could not have been good.

However, before she could make out any pertinent information, Hanley got off the phone. She quickly readjusted the paper in front of her as he opened the door and distractedly walked over to take a seat on the stool next to her. His face was red, apparently from anger or frustration with whoever had been on the other end of the conversation. Ava lowered her paper and studied him silently.

“Is everything okay, Hanley?” she finally asked.

“No, actually it’s not. Nothing is very good right now, Ava,” Hanley replied in agitation, and abruptly stood again. “I’m going for a walk,” he informed her, striding briskly from the house.

Ava watched the front door close behind him. She stood up to go into the kitchen, where she found Liz sitting with Isabel at the table.

“Is everything okay?” Liz asked, sensing Ava’s tension.

“I dunno,” Ava admitted, taking a seat across the table. “I think somethin’ is goin’ on with Hanley. It jus’ seems like he knows somethin’ he’s not tellin’. I heard ‘em talkin’ on the phone a few minutes ago and it didn’t sound good, he split, gone.”

“Sounds worth checking into,” Isabel suggested.

Liz nodded her agreement. It was nice to see Isabel at least giving Ava a chance, even if she was still a little wary of trusting her. “Any ideas on how?”

Isabel shook her head. “I thought coming up with ideas was your department,” she lightly teased her sister-in-law, and Liz smiled in reply, before chewing on her lip in seriousness.

Lately they had all noticed the way Hanley was acting. While he had always been concerned about their well-being in the time they’d known him, the concern was quickly turning into an overwhelming worry. One that got worse after each phone call he received. And over the past week there had been several.

Liz knew that the key was in those phone calls. “We could find out whom he’s been talking to,” she thought aloud.

Just then, Max walked into the kitchen. “So this is where everyone is,” he commented, looking from his wife to his sister, and then finally glancing in Ava’s direction. Stiffening slightly, he crossed her path with forced casualness to stand by Liz’s side and placed his hands on her shoulders.

Ava shifted uncomfortably in her seat when Max entered the room. Everytime they were in a room together the tension level shot through the roof. She knew that it was a trust issue. Most of the time, Max tried to hide it and pretend he was giving her a chance. Most likely it was for Liz’s sake, because she gave Ava more credit than anyone else, but it didn’t make being around each other any easier. In fact, it was almost worse.

“Well I’ll just be goin’,” Ava muttered under her breath. “Gives a shout if ya need me.”

The remaining three watched as she sauntered back towards the living room, newspaper in hand.

“What was that all about?” Liz questioned softly, turning to face Max.

Max shrugged innocently, wrapping his arm about Liz’s shoulders again. “I’m not sure,” he replied, looking down at her, his gaze falling to rest on her lips. He inched closer, his head dropping with the anticipation of tasting her soft lips.

“Still in the room,” a voice broke in to halt his descent.

Both Liz and Max jerked apart and looked at Isabel, who had an amused look on her face at the other end of the table.

“What?” she teased defensively. “I just didn’t want you to forget that there was another person in the room. Trust me, after all this time, I am more than used to the two of you forgetting that anyone else is present when you start to... you know... gravitate, or whatever it is you two do when you get together.”

Max opened his mouth, ready with a witty retort, but again, he found himself interrupted.

“Anyone home?” Jesse called out from the front door.

Isabel’s face instantly lit up as she got to her feet. “You guys can resume what you were doing. I’m going to... you know... gravitate with my husband now,” she said with a wicked smile, turning to hurry from the room.

Returning his attention to his wife, Max couldn’t help the grin that crossed his face. “Are we that obvious?” he joked.

Resting her head against the back of her chair as she gazed up into his face, Liz grinned back at him, nodding her head. “Actually, I think everyone would call it oblivious, not obvious,” she corrected, her fingers reaching to brush his defined jaw line.

“Either way,” he said, moving his head back down towards hers. “Where were we...”

Gently, their lips met in a soft caress, welcoming the other to what they truly considered home.

“So how are you?” Max breathed with a soft smile as the kiss broke.

3.

Mourning the loss of his lips, Liz pouted a little, sighing as well. “Okay,” she answered unconvincingly.

“Hey, how about once more with less feeling this time?” Max teased, then winced when the words had the opposite effect than the one he was hoping for, and Liz’s face grew more sober still.

Sliding from her chair, Liz moved away, wrapping her arms around herself.

Frowning with concern, Max came up behind her, and soothingly rubbed her upper arms. “Liz, what is it? Tell me,” he said gently.

“Things are just so tense around here,” she admitted. “Michael and Maria, Serena and Kyle.... who’s going to go next? And now, Hanley...”

“What about Hanley?” Max asked, his voice full of alarm.

Liz looked down to the floor, hating that she was going to cause Max to worry about more than he already was. “He’s just so on edge. And he’s been getting more and more phone calls. I mean, do we even know who he’s talking to?”

Slowly, Max turned Liz in his arms and tipped her face upwards. He could see the concern etched on her face, realizing that this was something she had been worried about for awhile now.

“I know who it is,” he confessed.

Her eyes widened. “How? Who is it?”

Max took a deep breath. “Last week, before Kyle and Serena left, I saw Hanley talking on the phone and I confronted him about it. It’s his sister, Liz. She feels that something big is coming, and I have a feeling that he’s worried sick about her... us... about everything.”

“What can we do?”

“Lead,” Max muttered, fearing telling her this. Being a leader, a king, was what had always driven them apart. That was something he couldn’t let happen again. Yet, looking into her eyes, Max knew that he had to tell her all of it, his greatest fear. “Hanley wants me to accept the role of King again. He told me that there are others... others who need guidance, who need their king…”

“Others?” Liz questioned.

Max nodded, tightening his arms around her, urging her closer. “Of our kind, shapeshifters... I’m not sure. But, according to Hanley, there are a lot of them on Earth. They need a leader… they want me to be their leader. I guess that something really big is coming, whether we want to believe it or not.”

Liz could feel his hesitation, the way he was afraid to tell her any of this. She leaned into him, moving her arms around his waist to offer what comfort she could. “Do they have any idea what it is, this ‘something really big’ that’s coming?” she murmured against his chest.

His fingers found themselves tangling in her hair, reveling in the feel of her. “I don’t think so, but Hanley insists the royal four is needed to stop whatever it is. They need our help.”

Tilting her head up, Liz caught his gaze. “And what do you need, Max?”

“You,” he whispered, almost choking on the word with the emotion swelling behind it. “I just want you to be with me, I need you to be, Liz. It’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted.”

She realized in that moment where all this hesitation was stemming from – it was about her – he didn’t want to lose her.

“I’ll always be with you, wherever you go, whatever you decide to do… I’ll be by your side. I love you, and nothing is going to change that.”

“I love you too,” Max said softly, leaning down to capture her lips once more, but Liz had other plans. Instead, she took his hand, leading him to their room.

~.~.~.~.~

Maria tapped her pen nervously against her to-do list on the kitchen counter, while repeatedly glancing towards the front door over and over, waiting for something to happen there. On instinct, she strode over to the door and opened it, even though there had been no prompt to do so. Opening the door revealed Michael standing in the hallway, keys in one hand, and two bags in the other. With a confused smirk, he stepped through.

“How'd you know it was me?” he asked, setting the bags down on the table.

Maria walked around the counter and placed her hands on her hips. “I didn't. I was only hoping. Why are you home so late? You said ten and it's nearly twelve. I was worried.”

“And why are you opening the door like that when you don't know who's there?” Michael challenged.

“I asked you first.”

Michael sighed in defeat, too tired to argue. “I worked over for some extra money and talked Vince into a bonus so I could get these.” He pushed the bags across the counter toward her.

Maria raised an eyebrow at the bags. “Are those from the linen store?”


Michael nodded with a small smirk.

Smiling, Maria went for the bags. “You're forgiven.”


However, Michael moved the bags and threw them to the couch. “But you're not. I don't want you opening the door like that again,” he scolded. “I could have been a--”


Maria rolled her eyes. “Michael!”


“Don’t Michael me. You may as well hang a sign on the door that says single, white female - home alone.”


“But I'm not single,” Maria corrected, laughing softly as she stepped up to him and wrapped her arms around his waist. “And I’m not alone. Why are you so paranoid?” she asked, setting her chin against his chest as she stared up at him.

Taking a deep breath, Michael replied, “I don't know. I saw something earlier and it – it was really nothing, but...”


“What was it?” Maria asked, starting to unbutton Michael’s shirt.

“There was this guy... this guy in a suit and he looked familiar. Not so much him as the way he was dressed... it was like… like he was FBI.”


Maria's fingers stilled on the last button, and her eyes snapped up to Michael's. “No!”


“Hey...” Michael said softly, taking her hands in his. “I'm not sure if it was the FBI, only, I –”


“Michael,” Maria interrupted. “How many times did you have to dress up and play FBI? You know one when you spot one… you have to tell Max.”


Turning away, Michael laid both hands on the kitchen counter and leaned into them restlessly. “Are you sure you want me to do that? You know what will happen.”


“No... of course I don’t want you to, ” Maria replied without hesitation, as she stepped up behind him and began brushing her fingers up and down his back. “The second they think there's danger, they'll want us back under lock and key.”


Michael sighed in response.

Maria continued, “When it comes to our future...we make the decisions, but...when it comes to something like this, something that could affect all of us...”


Michael nodded. “They need to know.”


Maria leaned her chin on his shoulder. “But they don't need to know tonight, do they?”


Looking over his shoulder at her, Michael remained quiet for a moment before shaking his head negatively in response.

“Good, because I want a chance to properly thank you for the linens,” Maria trailed off as she picked up a bag and headed into the bedroom, casting a saucy look over her shoulder as she went.

And as Michael followed, he got a strange feeling... a feeling of calm before the storm.

~.~.~.~.~

Serena and Kyle arrived at the hospital and followed the directions Jim had given them to find Jim Senior’s room. They got off the elevator and walked along the long hallway until they reached room 317 and paused outside the door. Kyle took a deep breath as he read his grandfather’s name on the label of the medical chart next to the door. It was real... his grandfather was here... no joke. He always knew this day would come, he just hadn’t figured it would be this soon.

“Do you want me to stay out here?” Serena asked, her tone subdued.

“No, I want you to meet him.”

Serena nodded and gave him a reassuring smile. They entered the room holding hands tightly. The only sound was the steady beep of the heart monitor machine and the slow, ragged breaths of the old man lying on the bed.

It was so hard to see him this way. This man barely resembled the man that had once held Kyle on his knee while entertaining him with seemingly jovial stories of aliens.

“Hello,” a plump nurse said, looking up from changing his IV. “I’ll be out of your way in just a second.”

“No hurry,” Kyle said absentmindedly as he stared at his grandfather.

“You must be the grandson,” she said.

Kyle smiled weakly. “How did you know?”

“You look a lot like your father... he’s been here every day and into the night for the past week, bless his soul. Poor thing looks like he hasn’t gotten a lick of sleep.”

“How is he?” Serena asked, nodding towards the man in the bed as she watched Kyle stare off.

“Well, not so good, honey. He’s had a massive heart attack. The doctors thought that he wasn’t going to make it through the night and that was a week ago when he first came in, but he’s still here fighting.”

The nurse finished up and walked past them, but stopped as she reached the door.

“You know,” she said gently, “They say that even when someone’s unconscious, they can still hear you.”

“Thanks,” Kyle said sadly.

The nurse gave them one last sympathetic smile and left them alone in the room.

Kyle slowly made his way over to the bed, taking a seat next to it in a nearby chair. Gingerly taking hold of his grandfather’s hand, he ripped his eyes away from the still form lying against the sheets to look up at Serena for strength. Immediately, she walked over to him and placed a gentle hand on his shoulder.

Turning his face back towards his grandfather, Kyle swallowed. He paused for a second, before saying faintly, “Hey, Grandpa. I’m sorry I was gone for so long, but I was um... ‘traveling’ with some friends. Some good friends, friends that mean the world to me, but still, it’s nice to be home. I wish I could have been here for you and Dad.” He swallowed hard. “Anyway, I’d like you to meet Serena. I met her while I was away, she also means the world to me... and well,” Kyle said, his voice cracking, “I wanted you to meet her.”

Serena gave Kyle an assuring squeeze as he glanced up at her again, and her heart twisted when she saw the tears gather in his eyes.

“I’m sorry I left,” he choked out, looking back at his grandpa as tears streaked down his face. “I missed so much time with you... so much time we could have had. Even when I was here, I didn’t spend much time with you, things were too hectic and I am so sorry for that.”

He paused and wiped his tears quickly with his free hand.

“But what I’m sorry for the most; Grandpa... was when I was young... I thought you were crazy, always talking about aliens and how they were right here in Roswell, how they looked just like us. I was so embarrassed. My friends made fun of me, they made fun of you, and I never stopped them. I… I should have stopped them,” he said harshly in self-condemnation, regret making his chest ache painfully.

Kyle looked at Serena once more, her features twisted with sorrow, before going on. “The thing is... you were right, Grandpa, about everything. And I just wanted you to know that I know that now... and I’m sorry I ever doubted you.”

Her throat tight with emotion, Serena kept a comforting hand on Kyle’s shoulder and reached down to lay her other hand over his and his grandfather’s. “Hi, Mr. Valenti, I’m Serena,” she said softly. “I know you don’t know me, but I know you from what Kyle has told me about you, and I know that’s only the tip of the iceberg. I’m sure there will be many stories to come... he really loves his family, and he’s missed you so much over the past year. I just wanted to let you know, that I will always be here for him. He is the most amazing man I have ever met and I’m sure that has to be a reflection of you and your son’s influence. I’ll be good to him, I promise.”

Kyle gazed up at her in wonder, his eyes still awash with tears, and knew in that moment that he truly loved her.

~.~.~.~.~

“Are you sure about this?” Maria asked again for the tenth time.

Michael looked over at her as he reached for the doorbell, a reassuring smile gracing his face. “I’m sure, Maria. Something is going on. We have to figure out what it is.”

Letting out a deep sigh, Maria conceded. “Okay.”

With that, Michael pressed the button, and the bell chimed faintly behind the door. A moment passed, then another.

“Still sure this is a good idea?” Maria questioned, joking nervously.

Michael opened his mouth to deliver a ready quip, when the door in front of them flew open.

The expression of polite curiosity froze on Liz’s face, her jaw dropping slightly. Nothing could have prepared her to see both Michael and Maria standing there in the doorway.

“Hello,” Maria finally said, breaking the awkward silence.

“Hi,” Liz squeaked back.

“Liz?” a voice called from the living room. “I need you to talk to Max about Michael. He has to at least get him to come by.”

“I don’t think that’s going to be a problem,” Liz responded weakly.

The three standing in the doorway turned to face Hanley as he approached. For an instant, he looked just as surprised as Liz had a few minutes before.

“Never mind,” he recovered quickly, a smirk crossing his lips. “Are you guys coming in?”

“Yeah,” Michael said, moving past Liz into the apartment. Maria followed silently behind him.

Still recovering from the fact that they had come back, Liz found herself leaning against the doorway, millions of possible reasons for their return running through her head – few of them good.

Hanley glanced back at her. “Liz, you’ll need to hear this too,” he told her, motioning for her to come into the living room.

Nodding slowly, Liz shut the door and made her way into the living room.

~.~.~.~.~

Ava looked up as everyone started to filter into the living room. “Looks likes we havin’ a party,” she commented, putting her newspaper down. At this rate, she was never going to finish reading it.

“This isn’t really a party occasion,” Michael commented, taking a seat on the couch. Maria instantly sat down next to him, eyeing Liz the entire time.

Liz, for her part, remained standing in the archway, her eyes avoiding Maria’s gaze. Finally, turning to Hanley, she prompted him. “What were you saying before?”

Hanley glanced at her, then to Michael and Maria. “I was going to say, that Max--”

“Max what?” Max interrupted questioningly, walking into the room. He stopped the second he spotted Michael and Maria there. “What’s going on?” he asked sharply.

“Listen, Maxwell, we don’t want to be here anymore than you want us to be,” Michael started, but Max cut him off.

“I never said that Michael,” he insisted. “I just didn’t agree with you two moving out.”

“That’s not a decision you get to make,” Michael argued.

“Which is exactly what you wanted to prove by doing so,” Max retorted.

That brought Michael to his feet. “That’s it,” he exclaimed, reaching out his hand for Maria’s. “Come on, we’re leaving.”

“Don’t,” Liz pleaded, finally looking at Maria. “Please don’t go.”

Maria shook her head. “Why should we stay for this?”

“Enough!” Hanley shouted. “Everyone sit down, now! We don’t have time for this childish bickering.”

The room fell silent as everyone looked at him in surprise, and after a moment, they obediently moved to do as he said. Isabel and Jesse walked into the living room just as everyone got seated.

“What’s going on?” Jesse questioned, looking around the room, surprise flickering across his face as he saw Michael and Maria there. That was quickly replaced by an expression of foreboding when she noted the somber expressions gracing everyone’s faces.

“You both had better sit down too,” Hanley advised. “Everyone needs to hear this.”

Quickly, Isabel and Jesse joined them, moving to sit down by Ava.

“Okay, Han-man.” Ava spoke up. “What’s with the ‘tude and cryptic-ness? All ears are open... speak already.”

“Fine,” Hanley said, pacing back and forth. “For a couple of weeks now, I’ve been getting phone calls. I know that you’ve all noticed.”

“From whom?” Maria interrupted. This was all news to her and Michael.

Hanley glanced over at her. “My sister. You see, we were all part of a tertiary mission to help you. We knew things had gone horribly wrong down here. We were sent to help correct them.”

“Well that worked out brilliantly, didn’t it?” Michael commented sarcastically.

“Better than you think,” Hanley replied, doing his best to keep irritation out of his voice. “It took time to find you when we first landed. Not to mention, you weren’t our only concern.”

This time the question came from Jesse. “Who else is there to be concerned about?”

“Other aliens,” Hanley admitted. “There was a faction of Khivar’s group called the Serpent Guard... or soldiers, whatever you want to call them. Part of us were keeping them distracted, the rest were trying to find you.”

“And you belong to the ‘finding us’ group,” Isabel said in realization.

Hanley nodded. “My sister and brother, another shapeshifter, and I, set out to find you. The other shapeshifter, she was found and killed shortly after landing by some of Khivar’s men.”

“The skins,” Liz whispered.

“Yes,” Hanley confirmed. “But they are not the only ones. There are others. Newer and tougher skins. She was captured and killed just after we landed, that’s why my sister, brother, and I split up. It was the only way.”

“Where’s your sister now?” Michael asked.

“We don’t give that information out over the phone. It’s too easy to trace. But with the twang in her voice, I would assume someplace south.”

“And your brother?” Maria wondered aloud.

“Neither of us knows,” Hanley admitted. “You see, they’re twins, my brother and sister, and they have this bond between them – a telepathic bond. They’ve been able to communicate from long distances ever since they were born. But right now, my sister can’t contact him at all. Needless to say, she’s freaked, which is why she’s been calling me so often. The increased FBI activity has her--”

“FBI activity,” Michael interrupted. “What do you mean by ‘increased FBI activity’?”

Hanley stopped pacing and looked each person in the face. “We keep an eye on everything... aliens, FBI, everything. When there is an increase in the activity of one, there is almost always an increase of the other. One of the other protectors in our network has contacted my sister. The FBI movement in various special units here has grown in leaps and bounds over the past couple of weeks. We believe that this means there’s something big going on with Khivar’s soldiers.”

“I think I saw one,” Michael admitted.

The attention in the room quickly shifted to him. “Saw one,” Isabel questioned darkly, her voice sharpening with every word. “Saw one of what, Michael?”

“FBI agent,” Michael continued grimly. “I think he’s been hanging out around my work - he may have even been following me – but I didn’t notice him until yesterday. That’s why we came over.”

“We’re going to have to move soon,” Hanley muttered worriedly under his breath. “Who knows how close Khivar’s men are to us. Not to mention....” Hanley slammed his fist down on the end table. “Damn it!”

Max got up and moved towards Hanley. “Tell us,” he said firmly, almost commanding.

“Kyle and Serena are out there,” he gestured agitatedly, “without protection, and without a single clue about what kind of danger they’re really in,” Hanley voiced his worries. “This just keeps getting worse and worse by the minute,” he groaned.

“But they’re both human,” Jesse argued. “They would be the least of the FBI and this Khivar’s worries... right?”

Liz swallowed hard. “That’s… not completely true.”

“What part?” Maria demanded. “Which part isn’t true?”

Hanley sighed, looking down. “Serena is part alien,” He finally admitted, informing the whole group. “Her mother, Yamine, was part of the original group sent to find you after the crash. Hell, her mother is a big part of the reason any of you are even here.”

“So Serena is part alien?” Isabel gasped, trying to wrap her mind around the news.

“Part alien and part human,” Liz told them. “She said that her father was human, but she’s never met him.”

“How long have you known?” Jesse asked, wondering how she could have kept something so important from them.

“Awhile,” Liz admitted, not avoiding any of their accusing stares. “It wasn’t something I could just divulge without her permission – it’s a personal issue for her.”

“Serena’s not the issue,” Max told them, trying to get their minds off Liz. “She’s proven more than once that she can be trusted.”

“That’s a joke,” Michael scoffed. “She didn’t even see fit to tell us that she was one of us. Being alien is a pretty big secret to keep, Maxwell.”

“I know,” Max said abruptly. “We all do. I remember a time when we thought that hiding our secret was all that kept us alive. What makes you think it was any different for her?”

“Fine,” Michael conceded. “Whatever. That still doesn’t help us decide what do to next.” He turned to look at Hanley. “What do we do?”

Hanley shook his head. “It’s not my decision,” he told them.

“Then who the hell’s decision is it?” Michael demanded, his voice rising.

“Mine,” Max said with quiet certainty. He moved into the center of the room, looking at each person. “Ours. We can’t run from who we are anymore. It’s time to become what we were meant to be.”

“And that is?” Isabel asked apprehensively, already knowing what he was getting at.

Max turned to look at her soberly. “A princess.”

His gaze shifted to Michael. “A trusted second-in-command.”

His eye fell on Ava next. “An… ally.”

And lastly, he turned to Liz. “And a queen.”

Hanley watched Max, in awe of the moment. He’d been starting to wonder if it would ever come about. Holding his breath, he decided to put his final doubt to rest.

“And what about you, Max?” he asked.

Max turned stoically to address all the members of the room. “Things may not be exactly like they were before, and I realize that now. We can’t change who we are, what we’ve done, or why we’re here. But we can change what will become. We decide our own fate, and the fate of this planet if need be. I know that in the end, we will succeed.”

“But… what about our lives here?” Isabel choked, clenching Jesse’s hand tightly. “I’m not leaving Jesse!”

“Nobody ever said that Vilandra has to marry Rath, or that Ava has to be queen, or that Khivar must invade Earth. We have the power to change history, and we owe it to ourselves and all the people who are counting on us, to do just that.” Max looked back at Hanley, his eyes ablaze with energy. “I’m ready,” he said simply, nodding, his bearing strikingly regal. “I’m ready to be king.”

~.~.~.~.~

Serena was sitting next to Kyle in the third-floor waiting room of the hospital, watching as he sat with his face in his hands. The strain he was feeling over his grandfather’s condition was obvious, but his pain was even more so.

Finally, no longer able to just sit and do nothing, Serena leaned over. Gently pulling one of his hands away to cradle it in her, she kissed the back of it softly.

“Kyle, I know how hard this must be for you,” she said quietly. “I just want you to know that whatever you need, whatever I can do, I’m here for you, okay?”

Kyle looked up at Serena, with tears in his eyes. She was so good to him, and she always seemed to know just what to say to make him feel better. Or maybe it was just hearing her voice that made him feel better.

“I love you, Serena,” Kyle whispered, squeezing her hand. Serena’s eyes widened at his admission, but he continued, unable to stop the words pouring from his mouth. “I want you to know – everything. I want you to know about my grandfather, about what kind of person he was, before he ended up here. He was a lot like my dad, and that always seemed to cause a lot of conflict between them. But he really was an amazing man. He knew, about the others, about the aliens,” Kyle whispered moving closer to Serena. “He knew before anyone else, and it cost him everything, Serena. Nobody ever believed him, not- not even his own family, but he never backed down from what he believed in, and because of that he lost everything.”

Serena was still reeling with wonder from Kyle’s words of love, but the confession was bittersweet coming as it was in this moment of incredible sadness. Eyes dark with compassion, she listened quietly to him speak, touched that he was giving her this insight into himself and his family. But before Kyle could continue, they were interrupted by a sound that made both their hearts lurch. The insistent shrieking of a heart monitor alarm echoed down the corridor. And it seemed to be coming directly from Jim Senior’s room.

4.

Kyle surged to his feet and ran to the room, Serena only a step behind. However, they were never allowed to reach his grandfather’s side. The second they entered the door, they were pushed aside by the doctor and several nurses who were also charging into the room.

“I’m sorry, but you’ll have to step outside,” one of the nurses commanded firmly, herding them out of the doorway as another nurse hurried in behind, pushing a bulky cart.

Both Kyle and Serena fell back against the open door, trying to get out of the way of yet another nurse rushing in. Sheriff Valenti, who’d been sitting with his dad when the crisis occurred, moved quickly out of the way to stand next to his son and Serena. Together, the three stood by and watched helplessly as the hospital staff assembled around the bed to begin working feverishly over their failing patient. While one nurse divested his upper body of clothing with crisp efficiency, another was urgently gathering things from the cart they’d wheeled in to prepare a syringe. At the same time, a young male nurse was powering up the defibrillator that took up the bulk of the cart, quickly adjusting the knobs and buttons on its front as it came to life. Calling out sharp directives to the bustling nurses, the doctor grabbed up the paddles that were attached to the machine by two coiling cords and rubbed the flat surfaces of them together briskly. Barking a number at the male nurse, he placed the paddles against the patient’s chest, and activated them with a cautionary, “Clear!”

Kyle and Serena both jumped in reaction when the shock sent Mr. Valenti’s frail body arching violently above the bed, and as he limply fell back against the mattress, Serena looked up at Kyle through stricken eyes. The traumatized look on his face had her quickly wrapping her arms around him, and she held onto him tightly, trying to shelter him from the grim scene playing out before them.

“We still have no pulse,” the nurse monitoring his vitals snapped out. “10cc’s of epinephrine.”

“Give me 360,” the doctor ordered the male nurse, and the young man immediately moved to obey, turning a knob on the defibrillator.

“Clear!” the doctor called again, and the room stilled for a brief moment, holding its breath, as he attempted to send another life-giving jolt through his patient.

Kyle jerked again as if receiving the shock himself, wincing at the sight of his grandfather’s body in savage recoil as the electricity ripped its way through him. He felt his dad’s hand on his shoulder, gripping him convulsively while the medical team went through the process again.

The minutes passed like hours as the urgency and commotion continued, and as distressing as the hectic activity was, it was infinitely worse when it all came to a halt. The room was swept with an overwhelming silence, made all the more stark when the doctor quietly announced defeat.

“Time of death, 11:02 p.m.”

There was an air of unreality in the room as the staff wordlessly shut the screeching machine down and packed things back onto the crash cart. Amidst that quiet activity, the doctor rounded the bed, walking towards the stunned little group by the door.

“I’m sorry,” he said with an expression of detached sympathy, reaching out to briefly touch Jim on the arm. “We’ll give you a few moments alone with him,” he said softly, and turned to leave the room.

The nurses followed behind him, each of them expressing condolences as they filed past, and the last one out gently shut the door to give the family some privacy.

A desolate silence filled the small room after the medical team departed. Like the survivors of some sweeping act of devastation, the three were left huddled in an uncomprehending daze, their brains almost unable to process the fact that their loved one was gone. Then suddenly, the silence was broken as Kyle let out a harsh sob, and he sagged to his knees in grief. Still holding onto him, Serena fell beside him, and she clung to him as tears filled her own eyes.

“I’m here,” she whispered against his ear as she stroked his hair, offering the only solace she knew to give him. “I’m here,” she continued to repeat over and over again.

She looked up helplessly as Jim knelt on the floor with them and wrapped his arms around his son, tears silently streaking his face. They clung together, the three of them, Serena holding Kyle tightly and sharing in his grief, while his sobs echoed throughout the room.

© 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