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“Only the Beginning”

Story by Jeslyn

Written by Amy, Cole, Liz Park, Jeslyn and Shira

Edited by Tiff, Lizzy and Mark

Playlist:

1. “Closer to You” by The Wallflowers

2. “Warning Sign” by Coldplay

3. “This Love” by Maroon 5

“Have you ever wondered . . . wait . . . do you hear something?”

Max was busy chewing on a mouthful of tofu scrambled eggs when he felt like a prisoner on watch. Looking up to his right, he saw his father’s eyes pointed his way, again. To his left his mother was mirroring the same action. They both turned quickly as he caught them and a second later, they were staring at his sister.

Isabel shifted uncomfortably under her parent’s gaze. It had been like this all morning. It was if the adults were waiting for them to disappear or for something dramatic to happen. After downing the rest of her orange juice, she opened her mouth to speak but her mother’s abrupt movements made her jump.

Flying out of her chair, Diane dashed to the refrigerator, spotting Isabel’s empty glass. “Here you go, honey,” she said, refilling the glass. Looking over at her son’s glass, she asked, “Would you like some more juice also, Max?”

“No, but thank you.”

“Anything else? We could probably talk your father into whipping up some of his cinnamon French toast,” she said breathily, nodding in her husband’s direction. He stood automatically as if it had already been agreed upon.

Max sighed, setting his fork down dutifully. “Sit down, mom, dad . . .” They both looked at him, shocked. “Please, just sit down,” he begged.

They moved slowly back into their chairs. “Is something wrong, Max?”

He glanced at his sister. “Well . . .” He began, but was interrupted by a loud noise coming from above them. “What the . . .” Standing quickly, Max ran towards the stairs, the rest of his family close in tow.

The volume grew louder the closer they moved towards his old bedroom. The jittering sound sent chills down Max’s spine, reminding him of Hitchcock’s “The Birds” or more appropriately, a swarm of insects. The high-pitched chattering rose in volume as they entered the bedroom.

Hanley and Raeve looked up at the same time, panicked expressions covering their faces. They followed the group’s eyes back down to the object they held between them. A black disk sat on their upturned hands. The hole on the top of it seemed to be emitting the horrid, shrill sound and a bright white light. Upon further inspection, Max noticed tiny threads sticking out of the object, like little hairs.

“What is that?” He inquired loudly over the droning racket.

“It’s a sort of communication device,” Hanley yelled back over the screeching. “The wires are kind of like antennae, and . . . well . . . we’ll get back to you on the rest.”

“Can you turn it off?” Isabel stepped forward, closely examining the artifact, but careful not to get too close.

Raeve shook her head. “It just went off. We don’t know how or why,” she admitted reluctantly. “Sure does get your attention though,” she concluded, wincing as the sound grew louder.

“Yeah, sure does,” Hanley stated, staring off into space, trying desperately to recall what the warning meant.

After a few seconds, the light that shone from the inside died and it went silent, the abrupt change leaving the room uncomfortably silent.

Raeve’s eyes locked onto Hanley. She rubbed her ear, the noise seeming to still be in there somewhere. Then she remembered.

“What does it mean?” Diane asked timidly, stepping towards her husband.

Hanley looked up, meeting Raeve’s eyes, which glinted back with fear in the realization. “They’re coming.”

“Have you ever wondered . . . wait . . . do you hear something?”

“Oh god . . . they're coming . . .”

~.~.~.~.~

“Who’s coming?”

At the sound of his words, Kyle looked toward the diamond shaped window, worried that someone might catch them messing with the television.

Michael had been carrying a box to the storage area thirty minutes ago when he found Kyle fiddling with the cable wires in the back room. He has been stuck helping ever since.

Kyle went back to his wiring. Although he wasn’t thrilled about stealing cable from the Parker’s apartment, he had always wanted them to modernize the ancient backroom TV. Now that the proprietors were unexpectedly out of town, he had his chance.

“Hey, remember those public-service cable stealing commercials?” Kyle joked. “The ones where the voice-over says that we’d get caught eventually? I bet they won’t catch us. I mean, this room and the apartment are in the same building.”

“Kyle,” Michael prodded him, “this television isn’t getting any lighter.” Michael paused as he shifted the television in his hands. “Who’s coming?”

“Oh,” Kyle spoke up, suddenly remembering that Michael expected a response from his earlier question. “It was just Maria at the door. She popped in, looked around, and then just left. I don’t know. I try not to understand the thought processes of a species so different from ours . . . women.”

Kyle looked up expecting a laugh but instead got a worried Michael setting the TV into Kyle’s hands. “Hey man, what about the TV?” Kyle tried, setting down the TV on the stand. “It won’t work until we fix it.”

At that point, Michael couldn’t have cared less about the television. At the sound of Maria’s name, he completely forgot about the television, much to Kyle’s disappointment.

“Uh, tele?” Kyle called, but his words went unheard.

Michael walked into the dining area, Maria greeting him right away by wrapping her arms around him.

“Can we go somewhere and talk? Some place private,” she insisted.

He swallowed hard. Somehow, he knew this was going to be bad, very bad.

“Michael,” Liz spoke up, snapping him back to reality, “Would you mind helping Serena and I by cooking for a few hours? José isn’t here today and none of the other cooks are willing to come in. Maria, you’re more than welcome to help us out as well,” she added with a smile.

“Sure,” Maria assured her quickly, “but I really need a few minutes with Michael, alone.”

Liz and Serena shared a nervous glance, worry etched into both of their faces. Michael looked down into Maria’s eyes.

“Just a few minutes,” Maria pleaded coolly with Liz and Serena, and then looked up at Michael again. “It’s important.”

“Uh, yeah,” Liz assured them, suppressing a worried look. “We do have a little time to spare before the dinner rush,” she said, tossing a glance at Serena, who shrugged.

Maria nodded and before Michael could say anything; his beloved girlfriend was leading him outside and down the sidewalk. He expected her to say something right away, but to his surprise and confusion, her lips remained sealed. When they neared a small park not far from the Crashdown, Maria finally slowed down.

“Maria, what’s going on?” he prodded. “You haven’t been this quiet since we got back to town.”

“I’ve had a lot on my mind,” she breathed nervously.

“Talk to me,” he urged her. “Tell me what’s bugging you.”

“My past, Michael,” she sighed. “And the future.”

Before he could respond, she turned and walked over to the swings. He tried to say something, but he wasn’t sure how to respond the more he thought about what she had said.

“These swings,” she continued, sitting on one and briefly running her hands against the cool metal chains. “I must have swung on them when I was little. I know I must have, but I don’t remember.”

She began to swing and he decided to take a seat on the neighboring swing. Maria definitely seemed upset, or no, maybe it was emotional. He just wasn’t sure how to help her feel better . . . not this time.

“What do you remember?” he said gently, hoping he was saying the right thing.

“Pieces,” she admitted unhappily. “Fragments, really. The thing is, I just spent most of the afternoon with my mother and can’t recall more than two or three clear memories from when I grew up with her. She showed me pictures from my past and they just weren’t as familiar to me as I thought they’d be.”

“But, you know she’s your mom,” he said gently.

“Yeah, as clearly as I see the nose on my face,” she retorted, stopping the swing. “But there are memories in my head that aren’t from this planet. I mean, there is no possible way that red water and purple skies are memories from here on Earth. I can close my eyes and see them plain as day, Michael. I didn’t know how to ask you about it until mom said you accidentally did something to my brain.”

“It’s a long story,” he began, but she interrupted him.

1.

“I want to hear it,” she admitted, the nervousness returning. “But not now. I, uh, I need to tell you something else, first.”

“What is it?” he replied.

“It’s the reason I’ve been getting out of bed early . . . leaving you suddenly and the reason I’ve been feeling sick lately,” she explained, her voice shaking a little as she looked into his eyes.

“Yeah?” Michael managed.

“I . . . we’re pregnant.”

She averted her eyes then, looking at the ground with feigned interest. Michael swallowed hard, completely speechless and shocked. His heart pounded fiercely in his chest while the new realization continued to hit him full force. He felt worried because of the timing and he wanted to deny her announcement. Surely she could have been mistaken. He looked at her intensely, a part of him desperately wanting to call her a liar, but then her eyes met his and any conviction he might have had flew out of his head.

“Say something,” she insisted softly. “Anything.”

He swallowed again and attempted to recompose himself. The more he tried to say something, the less his mouth worked to sound the words. Forcing himself to take a deep breath, he narrowed his eyes in order to focus on the situation. His eyes traveled from her eyes to her still slim belly. One of her hands rested there protectively, perhaps by instinct, but through the spaces between her fingers, he saw something that confirmed what she had said. A faint glow emanated through the fabric of her shirt for only a few seconds. He tried to speak again, but she stood up and when he looked up at her face, he forgot what he was going to say. All he could see were the tears brimming in her eyes and the way her lips were trembling.

“Look, I know the timing couldn’t be much worse,” she began, almost hysterically. “The enemy could be anywhere out there waiting to strike and I’m a . . . freaking liability!”

Michael exhaled loudly and stood up, pulling her gently toward him. She leaned against him and he finally felt his heart slow down a little, and she took a deep breath. As if by a miracle, he finally felt able to say something.

“The timing definitely sucks, but it’s not your fault. Not by a long shot.”

She gasped out of what he was sure to be relief and he tried to think of something else to tell her that might calm her down. The thinking didn’t take long. He was, after all, quite impulsive.

“Did you think I’d be angry?”

“Aren’t you?” she gasped, “I’m angry and scared, and . . .”

“Me too,” he said quickly. A little too quickly, but it was the truth. He was scared.

“Really?” she prodded shakily.

He knew nothing about pregnancy or babies. He still didn’t even try to understand Maria’s odd hormone surges. Everything about their current lives suggested that having a baby would be a dangerous prospect. Although Michael cared about all those things very deeply, he also remembered how he felt when Max said that Tess was pregnant. Besides the complications it brought Max, Michael was envious because his friend already had a good family, the kind that Michael was never able to have and grow up with. Now he would have his own family, a good family, and one less reason to envy Max Evans.

“Really,” he finally told her, “but, we’re well-protected for now and I just . . . I can’t help feeling happy for us,” he said, looking again at Maria.

“I know, I feel happy about it too,” she admitted more calmly. “And scared, it’s so confusing.”

“Sounds about right,” he agreed.

“Well, I guess Liz needs us now,” Maria sighed calmly, pulling away from him with a small grin. “You know what?”

“What?” he responded when they began to walk away from the swings.

“I’m going to try to stop worrying,” she insisted. “I just know that everything will be okay.”

“Oh god . . . they're coming.”

“Just breathe. Everything will be okay.”

~.~.~.~.~

Liz stood on her tiptoes while she slid a large box of napkins onto one of the higher shelves in the storage room. Her mind wandered, absorbed with issues about running the café, paying the staff, making the rent . . . until she heard two voices trickling in from the back room. Michael’s voice sounded first, an unusual inflection to it.

“So are you going to tell them, or am I?”

“You think you’re going to get all the honors? No way, Space Boy,” she responded happily.

“Fine, but I’ve got first dibs on telling Max!”

Maria chuckled, shaking her head slightly. “Fine by me. Just try not to rub it in, you know what happened with his son and all.” Thinking for a moment, she added, “He did have a son, right?”

“Yes but this is going to be different,” Michael answered stolidly. “We’re having a baby,” he said again, trying to fully take in the depth of those words. “Can’t we just yell it to the world? HEY WORLD!” Michael yelled, but Maria quickly stopped him.

“Shhh! You’re going to get us in trouble!” Maria whispered, covering Michael’s mouth with her hand.

Baby? Liz was in complete shock. She was so surprised by the revelation that she nearly lost her grip on the box she was pushing. For a few moments she felt so many emotions that she wasn’t sure how to react to what she just heard. Before she could even narrow the field to two or three reactions, Maria spoke back.

“No, not yet,” Maria insisted. “It’s just something else for them to worry about, and right now they need to concentrate on more immediate issues. You know that. Promise me you won’t say anything unless we both decide that it’s time.”

“Not yet?!” Liz’s mind screamed. Part of her wanted to make Maria tell the others the news. Another part of her wanted to obey Maria’s wishes and keep quiet. And yet another part of her felt surprisingly betrayed. She thought that her relationship with Maria was getting better and that there were no secrets between them, then this came along. Liz pulled her hands away from the box when it slid into place and took a moment to recompose herself. Even though she knew it was wrong, she still felt hurt that Maria hadn’t told her about the baby, and she wished that she wasn’t feeling that way.

“Okay I promise, but I . . .” Michael’s voice trailed off and Liz figured they just entered the dining area. Although they were gone, her mind still overflowed from the news. All she could think of was talking to Maria later, alone.

Leaving the storage room, she entered the back room to hear the faint sounds of the doorbell jingling. Curious as to whom and how many more people just arrived, she peeked through the back room window. Approaching the booth where Serena was taking her break with the others were Max, Isabel, Hanley and Raeve. Max stopped short and Liz realized that it wasn’t because he saw her through the window, but because he stood face to face with Michael.

Remembering their arguments during the return to Roswell and not wanting to relieve a potentially awkward and tense moment, Liz quickly entered the dining area and approached the booth to take their drink orders. As she approached, most of them looked at her right on cue. She grinned at Max, giving him a brief but tender kiss before addressing everyone.

“Can I get anyone a drink?”

“Cherry Cokes all around?” Serena suggested, sliding out of the booth to help Liz with the impending order.

“With Tabasco for the Czechoslovakians,” Michael added wryly.

Max actually smirked at that.

Everyone quietly agreed except Hanley, who quickly elbowed Max as if urging him to say something. Liz watched him while he glanced reproachfully at Hanley, turning to everyone else. She knew he was about to kill the mood with something serious.

“It’s time we all talked. Hanley has some explaining he only wants to go through it once, so we need to all be together,” Max announced somberly. Turning to Liz, he continued, “When are you closing tonight?”

She scanned the café and realized how empty it looked in stark contrast to other Tuesday nights, but then she remembered hearing on the news about a surprise meteor shower, bigger than anything ever before seen in Roswell. And like clockwork, people from all over would congregate at the library for an “Alien Night.” That’s why it was dead. Shrugging, she looked at Max again. There was no reason to keep the café open if there were so few customers. It was only three hours until the normal closing time anyway, and most of the town knew the Parkers were “on vacation” as it was.

“I’ll just flip the sign,” she told him, “and deal with the remaining customers. Serena, please let Rita know that she can take off as soon as she helps clean the kitchen. Max, give me ten minutes.”

Ten minutes later, everyone began congregating in the living room of the Parkers’ apartment just above the café. Michael wandered the space carefully, looking for something.

“Uhh, what are you looking for,” Max asked quizzically.

“Bugs,” Michael replied, undistracted, just as Liz entered the room.

Liz would not look at him, although she did want to know what he meant by “bugs” in her home.

Max almost said something else, but was beaten to the punch. “The electronic kind,” Michael added, smiling quickly at both of them.

Max scrunched his eyebrows, leaving Michael to his hunting. “You ready, Liz?”

“Ready as I’ll ever be,” she said, sitting almost gracefully next to Max.

Max rearranged the recliner closer to Liz and motioned everyone to take a seat, then sat himself.

As soon as the commotion died down, Hanley stood before them, poised to divulge what new insights had manifested themselves. Liz’s eyes widened in curiosity as Hanley held out a shiny black disk in his right hand.

“This black disk is a communicator,” Hanley explained, holding it up. “And it gave us a communication unlike anything we’ve received to date. This morning was just the tip of a very, very big iceberg.”

“What kind of message?” Liz spoke up. “Who was it from?”

“Can we still rescue our dad and Nancy?” Serena asked apprehensively, gesturing to Liz as if to show she was speaking for both of them. Liz nodded and looked at Raeve with widened, curious eyes. Raeve spoke next.

“Xaedon will take care of the Parkers and excuse my other brother,” Raeve spoke up, “But that thing is more accurately a sensor. It makes a distinct noise when it senses the enemy moving in.”

“Right,” Hanley interrupted with a scowl, setting the inanimate disk onto the coffee table before him. “This sensor tells us when there is advancement in Khivar’s forces toward our location.”

“It is supposed to beep,” Raeve interjected with a half-smirk.

“Judging from the noise it made this morning,” Hanley continued, “I would say that some of his people are on their way, if not here already.”

“Great,” Michael retorted sarcastically. Maria shot him a reassuring look.

“You said it was supposed to beep?” Max questioned, remembering the shrill siren from this morning.

“It gets worse,” Hanley added. “Many protectors have infiltrated Khivar’s forces for information. Many have died over the past several weeks. Those left are currently unreachable because they can’t give away their positions. Khivar has been anticipating this and has been monitoring all communications in and out of Antar. It takes a lot of time and effort for protectors to find safe channels to communicate information to headquarters, so to make a long story short, we have very little up-to-date info about what the hell is actually going on right now.”

“So he could have an entire armada headed this way to wipe us out,” Maria suggested.

Kyle shifted uncomfortably in his seat, glancing over at Serena.

“He could, but from what I’ve seen that won’t be his tactic of choice just yet. We think he probably sent spies to gather information on us, and if he has killed any of our protectors then he probably used his powers to extract our location. He will want to know what we are planning next before we have any chance to surprise him,” Raeve explained. “At this point, if he even has any influence on this planet . . .”

“Best-case scenario,” Hanley explained, “the black thing alerted us to some spies in the area. Worst-case scenario . . .” he trailed, not sure how to say what he meant.

“We’re talking about a possible world versus world war,” Max finished pointedly. “On one hand, I don’t think we should let fear control our lives, but on the other, we need to be prepared, even for the worst if necessary.”

A silence fell over the room, which Kyle finally broke. “Any good news?”

“The good news is that we are all closer than ever, and know and trust each other,” Max spoke up. “With our lives if necessary. That book of Antar, whether it was true or not, stated that the four royals would be invincible together. Imagine how much more powerful we are when all eight of us work together as one.”

“You know we’re all with you, Maxwell,” Michael assured him.

“An you’s got two shifters,” Ava interjected.

Isabel nodded slowly, merely accepting the responsibility.

“The original protectors never expected us to make human allies,” Liz reasoned aloud, glancing over at Max.

“Then together we will be ready for any battle,” Max concluded. “I’ve been thinking for a long time now, that we each need to take on certain responsibilities in order for our actions to be efficient, productive and successful together.”

“What do you suggest?” Liz asked him, “besides the obvious, that you’re the king and you make all the final decisions.”

Max smiled slightly, delegating the weight of his title. “Well, Liz, I don’t make all the decisions, I can’t. But I will try to make the right decisions, when and if that time comes,” he spoke confidently. “You’re my queen,” he continued openly. “If something happens to me then you must make any final decisions, and plus you’re in charge of the Crashdown until your parents return. That’s more than enough responsibility for anyone.”

Liz nodded, her eyes not leaving his.

“We can use this apartment as headquarters if necessary,” Max said, tossing out the idea more for debate than fact.

“Won’t that be too obvious?” Michael offered.

“Possibly, but at the moment, we have no better place, we are all here. I assume you don’t really want to live on the road again, right?”

Michael nodded his head, looking at Maria.

“Good, me either. Michael, you will be in charge of any military action. If you stay calm and focused, I’m sure your intuition will protect us.”

Michael looked at him. This was one of the rare times when Max actually accepted him for who he was and it did not go unnoticed.

“Isabel, you will be the strategist and planner. Most of us know from past Christmases that you have a talent for planning and organizing.”

There was a smattering of snickers then Max continued. “Ava, I need you to help train everyone to maximize their special abilities. We can’t afford any more surprises.”

“Sure thing, boss,” she said with a wink.

“Raeve and Hanley, you two are in charge of defense and getting us any information on the enemies that you can find -- nothing new there. Serena, you can help Liz run the café.” Serena nodded, glancing at Liz.

Max paused, his eyes glancing over everyone. “Kyle.” Kyle shifted, moving forward slightly, interested in hearing what Max had in store for him. “For now, let’s pair you with Michael. Help with the military action.”

Kyle sat up straighter, “’For now’?”

“Yeah,” Max replied. “For now.”

Kyle sighed, annoyed. Leaning back, he saluted Max. “Whatever you say, boss.”

Max nodded and continued, “And let’s see . . . Maria can . . .” Max looked at Michael for some indication, but Michael just looked at Maria.

“If I may,” Raeve interrupted, “I think Maria would be a great help to Michael in military planning and combat training, and should help out with anything else that she’d be able to do.”

“Okay,” Max agreed, seeing Maria’s nod. “And everyone else can help in any way possible. I know that this will work as long as we hone our powers and stay on top of things.”

Each of them nodded some softly uttering words of agreement. Liz put an arm around Max to assure him that he was doing a good thing and slipping gracefully into his destined leader role. She looked at Kyle as he decided to break the remaining tension in the room.

“Yeah,” Kyle spoke up confidently, “All of us together? We can do anything.”

“Just breathe. Everything will be okay.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, I’m sure. All of us together? We can do anything.”

~.~.~.~.~

The sheriff drove by the Crashdown slowly, carefully examining the area as he made his rounds. Driving by had become a second-nature procedure for Jim.

However, something was definitely amiss. Just outside view, in the shadows, three figures stood perfectly still as Jim drove by.

“Should we blast ‘em?” one of the figures whispered, a heavy accent on its tongue.

“Nah. He’s just an annoyance, not even a threat,” answered a young voice.

“Then why is we hidin’,” a female voice gestured coolly.

The second figure said nothing.

As Jim disappeared out of view, the three emerged once again, poking their fingers through blinds to open up their view of the Crashdown. They’d broken into the former office of Congresswoman Whitaker, which was still leased by the Skins. Even if it wasn’t technically breaking and entering, they still had to hide to keep their cover.

Rath peered at the group through his binoculars. Mentally, he took stock of each person in the room, noting their strengths and weaknesses so he could devise ways to use the information against them when the time came. Max was a lot more cautious and cunning than Zan ever was, so he knew it would be much harder to eliminate this King. In fact, the only one he ever thought of as a worthy adversary had been Tess, and now she was dead. While he continued to watch them, he listened to Lonnie and Nicholas.

“Look at all of them togetha,” Lonnie uttered disgustedly. “Like rats in a smelly rat cage. Ugh, I could just hit somethin’.”

“Relax,” Nicholas insisted. “It won’t be long now until they are all nothing more but dust.”

“Cool, who’s the two that Khivar wants us to take down first again?” Lonnie prodded.

“The protectors,” Nicholas scoffed. “Raeve and her older brother William-the-Great. If Khivar would let me, I could take them both out with my eyes closed.”

“Yea right, like you’d live through that,” Lonnie teased him, seriousness edging her voice.

Rath knew that she was dead serious. If Nicholas couldn’t defeat the royals before, he sure didn’t have much chance against them with seasoned protectors, who were supposed to be better and stronger in their alien abilities than their predecessors.

Lonnie relished in the thought that Khivar would take care of all of these loose ends, and then he would rule Antar with her at his side, without any of the resentment that exists while the royals remained alive. Khivar would probably rule the entire galaxy once Max Evans bit the dust. He and Lonnie would go back to their home world and things would be much better for everyone.

Growing impatient, Rath stared through the binoculars a bit longer and focused his attention on his dupe. He remembered Michael’s feelings toward Maria and knew that destroying Maria would be the key to Michael’s demise. At the same time, a small part of him didn’t want to cause his dupe that kind of pain. His own alien side had vague memories within him of a great love, which seemed somehow like deja-vu. Shrugging the thought in order to stay on task, he shifted his gaze to Ava, the traitor, and then to that new human girl, the one with red hair. But Rath’s eyes once again landed on Maria.

He noticed that she changed her hair since he last saw her. It was black, straight and shiny now. She and Michael seemed to be a lot closer too, he noticed, when she kissed Michael and smiled at him before looking away at something else. For a split second, her eyes glinted a touch of violet. She could have been wearing colored contact lenses for all he knew, and had the situation been any different he would have believed that her eyes weren’t the slightest bit purple. At the same time, for just a second, his heart stopped and the great love from his dreams re-emerged in his mind. His mind refused to believe that anything like that love existed in corporal form like the woman Michael loved. Feeling frustrated he sighed, annoyed and tried to move on. He didn’t realize that Lonnie was all over his change of mood until she spoke up, her voice like an ice-pick razed from a long-frozen grave.

“You’s awful quiet,” she told him. “What’s up, yo?”

“Nuthin,” he insisted gruffly. “Jus thinkin’. The chick wit my dupe . . . she ain’t the same as I ‘member from da las’ time. Wigs me out a little.”

“Whadaya mean?” Lonnie scoffed nonchalantly. “It’s Maria-del-Loco, one’a their no-good humans.”

“Yeah, she’ll be toast in seconds,” Nicholas stated smugly. “Makes me bored just thinking about it.”

“Let me see those retched losers,” Lonnie demanded, hitting his shoulder, indicating she wanted the binoculars.

Rath wanted to contradict him, but decided against it. Instead, he lowered his binoculars and handed them to Lonnie’s outstretched hand. He didn’t want to think about that Maria person anymore. After all these terrible years since he hatched, finding such a concept negated everything he believed in. Rath was about to suggest to the others that they leave before they’d be spotted, when Lonnie spoke up.

“Wotevah, I don’t wanna look at ‘em,” Lonnie cut in. “Let’s get outta here.”

“All of us together? We can do anything.”

“Then let's get out of here.”

~.~.~.~.~

“To where exactly?” Kyle spoke up, reminding Max and Liz that he was still in their presence. Max had just mentioned to her that the two of them should get out of there. Kyle, being especially bored, wondered what Max meant by those words.

“Upstairs,” Max clarified, pointing up towards her room, his eyes remaining locked on his wife.

“Ooookaaaay,” Kyle said, slurping from his coke loudly. “Too much information . . .”

“Actually,” Liz informed Max, her body leaning into his. “That sounds like a great idea my King . . . Serena is finishing cleaning up, right Serena?”

“Yeah sure,” Serena assured her confidently. “Go ahead, this will only take a few minutes.”

“Okay,” Liz chuckled softly while she and Max moved toward the back room. “We’ll be back later. I’ll be, uh, upstairs if you need anything.”

Kyle watched the dreamy-eyed couple with a look of envy, even though they were two of his closest friends. Like others before him, he wanted a love like that which Max and Liz shared. He even had a girl in mind, Serena. Only lately, she was barely even giving him the time of day, and for good reason.

The door jingled, bringing him back to reality as his father walked in. He passed Isabel as she opened her umbrella and left the café, alone. Isabel had been quiet all evening, especially after word of what may be happening.

Kyle turned toward Jesse, wondering if he should be concerned about her again.

“Is she okay?” Kyle asked.

Jim sat down across from his son, quietly taking in the conversation.

“Yeah, she just needs some time alone to think. It’s been known to happen you know, in this high-stress world we live in,” Jesse explained, nodding hello at the sheriff.

Kyle nodded appreciably and turned his eyes to his cherry coke, absentmindedly swirling the alien-themed straw around in his glass. His thoughts wandered back to Serena and he became so involved in them that he barely noticed her walk into the back room.

Jim caught his eyes trailing her into the back. “Still having problems with Serena I see?” his dad said to him, breaking the silence.

“Huh, what?” Kyle uttered, returning to reality. “Oh, yeah, it’s just . . . complicated.” His eyes drifted to the outside window, the cool July rain drizzling down the glass slowly.

“Well, I may not be the best person to give you this kind of advice son, but I’d like to try.”

Serena emerged from the back, quietly hanging up her apron.

“Shoot,” Kyle encouraged him, watching the rivulets cascade down the glass. At this point, he was sure that any piece of advice would probably help him.

“No offense to Jesse here or the others, but I think you’ve been around the couples too long. I think you started feeling left out and you think Serena will magically change that. Maybe what you really need is some time away from the couples to sort out what it is that you are really feeling and what you really want for yourself and for her,” his dad advised him.

“I know what you mean, dad, but it’s more than that,” Kyle tried to explain, his voice completely serious. “It has nothing to do with fitting in. Despite the fact that she kept a big secret from me, there is something magical about her. Before I knew her secret, whenever I looked at her, my world made sense.”

Jesse decided perhaps it best he leave him with his dad at this point. “I’ve got a load of cases to read up on,” he said, grabbing his briefcase. “And a wife to track down. I’ll see myself out, goodnight.”

“Night,” Kyle answered.

After a moment, his dad continued. “And now?” his dad prodded him. “Is it any different?”

Kyle sighed, let go of his straw, and pushed his drink away from him. Then, for the first time in the conversation, he looked his dad straight in the eye. As much as things were different for him and Serena, they were still the same. Now that he knew Serena’s secret, looking at her had a new and yet still eerie meaning. He briefly wondered if the same thing happened to the other couples and decided at some level, the others must have gone through the same thing.

“Yeah dad, looking at Serena, it’s like . . . I could be with her forever.”

His dad didn’t say anything right away, leading Kyle to think that he was either in shock or in amazement. Jim watched as Michael and Maria hastily exited the restaurant, a thoughtful look on his face.

“Come on Spaceboy,” Maria said, mostly to Michael but nodding quickly at Jim. “There’s someone I want to visit . . . time waits for no alien.”

Jim sighed, watching the couple. Sensing someone just out of his peripheral vision, he turned his head slightly, catching Serena standing just inside, her back almost flush up against the break room door. She looked away as he spotted her.

Tracing her line of vision to Kyle, Jim placed a hand on his shoulder, squeezing it slightly before saying, “I’m going to go home, Kyle. I’ve got a lot of paperwork tomorrow.”

2.

“All right, Dad. See you later, goodnight,” Kyle waved slightly.

Valenti turned to go but changed his mind. “Oh, and Kyle?”

“Yeah?” Kyle looked at his dad warily.

“I’m proud of you, son.” His eyes shifted and he nodded slightly, almost too slightly.

Kyle looked at his father, knowing something was up. His eyes dropped and turned back into the room. His breath left his chest as he spotted Serena standing only a few feet away. Her cheeks were wet with, no doubt, tears. And that’s when he knew she’d heard everything he’d just said.

Serena took a few small steps towards Kyle, her eyes locked with his. She cleared her throat.

“Got room for one more?” she said softly.

Kyle’s face softened and he swung out one of the stools next to him, silently offering her a seat. Serena took a few more steps and sank into the chair weakly. Kyle reluctantly let his hand go from the back of the chair, knowing it was as close as he’d been to touching her in weeks.

Serena exhaled a shaky breath, folding her hands in front of her and resting them on the bar. Choosing to avoid his gaze, she stared at her hands instead, speaking quietly.

“Are you still mad?” Her voice was so low Kyle had to lean closer to hear her.

“Mad?” Kyle questioned. “I’m not mad,” he continued gently, bending his head down, straining to see her face. “I don’t think I was ever really mad. Just confused.”

Serena’s face swung up. “What?” she whispered incredulously. “But I thought . . .”

“I was wrong,” Kyle reached up, tucking an unbound strand of hair behind her ear. “I was wrong to blame you. It’s not your fault. You had your reasons and I see that now.” His hand trailed down the length of her hair, coming to a rest under her chin. Tilting it up gently, he looked her squarely in the eyes. “I’ve realized in these past couple of days that I’m forever bound to aliens whether I turn green around the gills or not, although hopefully not.”

Serena smiled slightly and Kyle seeing it, smiled in return.

“What I do hope for,” he continued, “Is that you forgive me for being such an ass. If you don’t, I’ll understand that too. I just hope that someday you can.”

A silence stretched before them and the longer it went on, the more apprehensive Kyle became. Serena averted her eyes for a second before resting them on his face once more.

She took a deep breath, asking shakily, “Kyle?”

“Yes?” He returned to stroking her hair.

“What made you change your mind?”

He smiled, reaching into his back pocket. Taking out his wallet, he pulled out a small slip of paper. He handed it to her, their fingers brushing lightly, but the spark enigmatic. Serena tore her eyes away from his, reading the words.

To understand everything is to forgive everything . . . Buddha.

She looked back up at him, tears shining in her eyes. “I gave you this.”

“I know,” Kyle gently took it back, placing it on the counter. “But you gave me something much better than that, although I do enjoy Buddha’s teachings now and then.”

Serena smiled again. “What’s that?”

He didn’t answer right away, his eyes searching her face. Reaching out his hand again, he brushed the side of her face, his hand cupping her head. Tilting it forward, he met her halfway, their foreheads just barely touching.

“You.”

Serena gasped slightly, staring at him for a second before she reacted. Flinging herself into his arms, she began to cry, her whole body shaking. Feeling Kyle’s arms go around her tight, she finally found the words she’d been meaning to say for months, but they were hardly just words.

“I love you, Kyle.”

Kyle closed his eyes, tightening his grip on her. He inhaled deep, getting drunk on the scent of her hair.

“I love you . . . Serena.”

“Let's get out of here.”

“I know. But before we go, there's something I want you to know. I love you.”

~.~.~.~.~

3.

Isabel brought her gaze from the sky, down to the gravestone as she touched the sun-warmed marble with her hand. The rain had stopped, and a muggy cloud hung over the air.

“Alexander Charles Whitman,” Isabel said aloud as she shook her head slightly. “Wish you were here.”

She knelt down at the tomb, running her fingers across the etched words.

“It’s been a long time since I got a visit from you,” she heard a male voice from behind her.

Standing, Isabel whirled around immediately, a small smile already forming on her face as her tired eyes met his soulful blue ones. He looked exactly like she remembered him, dressed in a blue collared shirt, baggy denim jeans, with a silver pocket chain still waving from his recent movement. His eyes leaked his emotions, he was happy and really at peace.

“Alex,” she breathed as he took her in his arms.

“It's good to see you Is,” Alex said slowly with a happy smile, relishing this moment.

“I've missed you so much,” Isabel said, muffled into his shoulder, still grasping him tightly. “Looks like the afterlife is treating you well . . .you look good,” Isabel said as she unbuttoned the top button to his shirt.

“Thank you,” he said with a smirk. “You look ravishing as well.”

Isabel rolled her eyes as she ran a hand through her hair. “I wish . . . I am such a mess right now.”

“You, Isabel. . .” Alex paused as he reached out and touched her hand. “You are never a mess.”

Isabel smiled once again at his comment. No matter what situation she was in, she could always count on Alex to make her smile and somehow. Even now after he died, he continued to do the same and that in itself meant the world to Isabel . . . in a way, it gave her peace. She needed some of that peace right now.

“So how have you been, Alex?”

“Good. You know. . . can't complain. Some days are great and some days I feel like I died or something,” Alex said with a small chuckle.

“Funny,” Isabel said as she hit him playfully on the shoulder.

“I thought so . . . but enough about me. How have you been?”

“Well, I've been better,” Isabel said. “Not that I haven't enjoyed being back in Roswell because I have. Being on the road, on the run for the last year has been rough.”

“I can imagine,” Alex said with sympathy.

“We've been through so much in the last year . . .I don't even know if I am the same person that left, you know? It's like when we got back mom and dad almost expected Max and me to be the same. But we'll never be the same, Alex . . . we're changed. For good . . . there's no going back.”

“Sometimes change makes you stronger,” Alex said honestly.

“I know, but I want so much to go back to high school, before everything happened. I want to be that normal girl that I was,” Isabel said as tears threatened her composure. “Normal, when my biggest problem was what color to paint my nails.”

“But that girl wasn't who you really were, Isabel. That girl was the Ice Queen . . . she kept all her feelings bottled up inside and she hid from everyone . . . even the people she loved, and who loved her,” Alex said thoughtfully. “It’s natural to grow and advance, to learn from mistakes and make amends. Such is the way with all things. You’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly and through all of it, you’ve grown and matured. And you are a better person now because of it, Isabel.”

“Thank you,” Isabel wiped her eyes.

“Four years ago could you say that you had friends and family that would die for you?”

“No, I guess not,” Isabel replied, taking to heart Alex's comments.

“Well now you do. Because all of them. Max, Liz, Michael, Maria, Kyle and Jesse all would.”

“I'm scared Alex.”

“Of what?”

“Of everything, to live . . . to die, just everything.”

“Well, you already died once,” Alex said, trying to lighten the mood. “Really . . . it's not so bad.”

“Easy for you to say, you’re dead!”

“Isabel,” he addressed. “What are you really afraid of?”

Isabel looked around and shook her head. “I don't want to let anyone down. There is a possible war coming . . . what if I'm not strong enough?”

“You're the strongest person I know Isabel,” he said genuinely. “I know you'll be fine.”

“How do you know?”

“Because I know you . . . and you're you, you can't fail, as long as you have will to succeed.”

“Thank you, Alex,” she said, taking him in her arms. “You always know exactly what to say.”

She pulled away to see Alex look down sheepishly. “Well, I just know who you are inside and what you're capable of. All you need to do is set your sights on something and have the confidence to do it, that’s it. The rest, as they say, is history.”

“Yeah, I guess you're right.” Isabel looked again at Alex’s grave.

“So how are things with Jesse?” Alex asked.

“Good . . . we met up with him in Boston a while back. Everyone stayed at his place. It was pretty taxing on us all being all cooped up in that one apartment, but we made due. It was all worth it just to be with each other, you know?”

Alex smiled. “I feel a ‘but' coming on.”

“No buts . . . just that Jesse had a physical while he was in Boston and we found out that he isn't able to have children.”

“Oh,” Alex said with evident shock. “I'm sorry.”

“Yeah . . . I mean, it shouldn't be a big deal. We're not at that point anyway.”

“It's just that you wanted the option someday,” Alex said, finishing her thought.

“Yeah . . . and I liked the idea of a little me running around someday.”

Alex seemed to mull over the thought as well. “There's always adoption.”

“Bring an innocent child into the mess which is my life?” Isabel scoffed.

“It may not always be that way. It will be safe someday . . . it has to be,” Alex encouraged.

Isabel smiled with hope. “Yeah, and maybe give a child a good home like our parents gave me and Max.”

“Exactly,” Alex said, satisfied.

Isabel looked at her watch. “I had better be getting back . . . wouldn't want anyone to worry about me.”

“Don't be a stranger,” Alex said, once again holding her in his arms.

“I won't,” Isabel said, slowly pulling herself from his warm embrace, trying to remember that the warmth wasn’t real.

“Anytime, anything you need, I'll be here.”

“I know,” Isabel said, as she turned and walked in the opposite direction she had came from, her heart feeling a little lighter than it had before.

“Stay strong, Isabel.”

Alex watched Isabel leave, wishing for the first time since he died that he could actually be there to help her. He sat down on the warm grass and began thinking to himself, but was snapped out of his thoughts by a weird feeling of being watched. He turned to find Maria staring at him from about twenty yards away, looking directly at him as if he really existed. His heart strained as she stared intently at him . . . he really missed Maria . . . and what did she do to her hair? He watched her as Michael walked up and then he smiled. Those two really were perfect for each other. It must be destiny that brought them together.

“Maria!” Michael yelled from behind her, trying to get her attention.

“Michael?” she questioned as she turned around to face her boyfriend.

“What's wrong? It looks like you've seen a ghost or something.”

Maria simply shook her head. As she turned back, Alex was gone. Maria sighed.

“Did I say something wrong?” Michael asked.

“No, you didn’t. It’s just . . . it must have been nothing.”

“I love you . . . did I say something wrong?”

“No, you didn’t. It's just . . . they're coming.”

~.~.~.~.~

“No, there’s something wrong . . . I can feel it. Tell me what it is, please,” Max insisted.

Liz shook her head, pulling away from Max enough to look into his eyes. They stood outside her old bedroom on the balcony and had been kissing until he prodded further into her recent withdrawal. She loved that he didn’t like her to be unhappy, but she didn’t want to focus on unhappy things either, not while in his arms. Being on her balcony again didn’t help her either. All the memories that flowed through her from simply being in that special place made her tongue-tied. The late nights curled up with her journal in the lawn chair, her first kiss with Max, future Max, Kyle . . . it was too easy to become lost in the myriad of memories. There were other, more important and interesting issues they could discuss and she could try to change the subject by bringing one of those issues to the fore. She could have, but she knew he’d worry until she finally answered his question. He would keep prodding her until she told him the truth.

“It’s not that bad,” she assured him, “Really.”

“Liz,” he prompted her again, gently pulling her over to the two lawn chairs.

“I shouldn’t tell you,” she admitted. “I shouldn’t even know about it right now myself, but I do. It’s really not for me to say.”

“Now you got me hooked,” he informed her as if to say he wouldn’t stop bugging her that easily.

“Okay I’ll tell you,” she caved reluctantly, “but you have to promise me that you won’t breathe a word of it to a single soul, not even to those involved.”

“I promise,” he assured her solemnly. “My lips are sealed. Now tell me what’s wrong.”

Inhaling quickly, she looked up into his deep hazel brown eyes and looked away just as fast, imagining how he would react. She would forget everything if she kept looking into those soulful depths. Deciding it would just be best to spit it out, she told him plain and simple.

“Michael and Maria are going to have a baby.”

Liz held back her laughter when she saw the reaction on his face. She never saw his eyes so wide before. On second thought, when she noticed the panic in those same beautiful eyes, she regretted telling him. Yet, she knew that this way she probably prevented him from hurting Michael.

She watched him shake his head and heard him mumble something she was sure had been a curse word or two. When he stood, she grabbed his right hand in hopes of keeping him where he was. Now she knew he was becoming upset and she hated seeing him that way.

“Max, come on,” she said soothingly. “It’s not that bad, is it?”

“Not that bad?” he scoffed. “Liz, we have no idea what could happen. It’s too dangerous right now anyway.”

“I know,” she agreed. “But, if you think about it, it’s not really our problem . . . not yet anyway.”

“What? Exactly how is it not our problem?” he asked, perhaps a little too loudly.

“Well, it’s not our baby,” she pointed out. “Granted the timing couldn’t be much worse, but the baby . . . it’s a crisis between Michael and Maria. Sure, they’ll tell us because we all should be informed, but we can’t change what has happened, Max. If you think about it, it’s not the first time we’ve had a crisis in our group that couldn’t be averted.”

Max looked into her eyes at that moment and she knew he was remembering a very familiar moment from almost a year ago: the time when Tess was pregnant. She looked away then, not wanting to recall those memories because it was the same time that she had mourned Alex and pushed Max away to save the world. Looking back in retrospect, she realized that her life was much more complicated back then.

“Liz,” Max spoke up tentatively. “You’re not still upset about Tess and the baby, are you?”

“No, Max,” she replied firmly, looking into his eyes. “The past is the past. We’ve talked about it, remember? Our futures are together and that’s what matters, because we love each other.”

Their lips met again and as they pulled away, they wrapped their arms around each other. She leaned her head against his shoulder and took a deep breath. For the first time all week, they finally had a quiet moment together without any interruptions. In his arms, she finally felt relaxed, a feeling she hadn’t felt much since she took over the restaurant for her parents.

“Hey,” he told her softly, “someday we’ll have a baby as well.”

“Yeah,” she sighed contentedly, “or two . . .”

“Or three or four. Who knows how many aliens have? Seventeen?”

Liz laughed softly, pondering the ramifications only briefly. His lame sense of humor never ceased to cheer her up. For all she knew however, he could have been serious, but she chose not to analyze it. She’d be happy with Max no matter how many children they would have down the road.

“When there is less danger,” Max added.

Liz nodded, pulling away to look at his face. A sly smirk played on his lips, making her smile. Being with Max at that moment . . . she was happy. No matter what the future would bring, as long as she remained with Max she’d be happy. Nothing else mattered as much as that. Max was her husband, her partner, her soul mate, her king. As long as she was with him, together they could survive anything.

“They're coming.”

“I know. But together, we can survive anything.”

~.~.~.~.~

Journal entry - July 10, 2003

Roswell N.M.

“You’re the queen, Liz.”

I’ve never been more surprised than when Max called me his queen. He’s never actually said those words to me like that before. Yet, they couldn’t be more true. Ever since I married Max, I became Queen Liz. I inherited a title for a planet that I have never set foot on and all the responsibilities that come along with it.

A queen is supposed to have some control over her people, which is a point I’m lacking in. I know I haven’t filled those shoes entirely. But now that I am back in Roswell and have to run the Crashdown, I do have control over something, and as ironic as it sounds, that is quite liberating. With the control of the restaurant comes the partial control of the people who work there, and the feeling that maybe this queen-business won’t be so bad after all. I mean, I can control who works at the diner and who doesn’t, but I don’t control their lives. I hope I never have to control someone’s life.

But in a way, I’m controlling my parent’s lives. They were taken by the FBI, but they are safe now, in hiding and I’ve chosen – we’ve – chosen to keep them there. That leads me to Hanley and Raeve. Well, the FBI and the evil aliens. Those two are either on the phone or waiting for their phones to ring most of the time. Actually, that more accurately describes Hanley’s routine than Raeve’s. Lately, when she’s not on the phone or telepathically talking to her twin brother, Xaedon, she helps me with the Crashdown. I think she figures that if Hanley has his eyes on Max and everyone else who isn’t in the Crashdown, she should be in the café to protect those of us who are working there. She actually lives up in the apartment with Ava and they have become good friends. I think they share a lot of inside information about the evil aliens who have been moving in toward us apparently.

It’s not the end, not even close. Khivar is probably on his way and we can only wait and prepare. A war is brewing so it can’t be the end. It’s only the beginning. Maybe the beginning of the end, but definitely not the end.

“Together, we can survive anything. It's only the beginning.”

© 2002-2004 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.