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“The Big Break”

Written by: Roswell the Final Chapter

Edited by: Roswell the Final Chapter

 

~.~.~.~

FBI headquarters: Special Unit Division - October 11, 2003

Agent Dimitri walked purposefully toward the vault. Frustration overwhelmed him and wading through a small crowd on the way to his destination only proved to be more agitating.  In the twelve hours that already passed since one of his agents became trapped in the vault, rumors spread like wildfire about the reason for such an event to occur.  He certainly didn’t have to wait long to hear the news.  Agent Colton informed him five seconds after the capture was complete.  The only reason he waited so long to confront his agent was for the rumors to die down and the crowd around the vault to disperse.  Walking through a crowd of what he estimated to be at least forty people disappointed him greatly.

“I want these people to get back to work,” he spoke urgently to the two guards in front of the vault door, “now.”

Both guards nodded obediently.  One of them began urging the people to walk away.  The other guard concentrated on unlocking the vault.  Agent Dimitri glanced around briefly to make sure that the crowd was indeed dissipating.  To his dismay, not everyone moved yet.

“Agent Colton,” he said to the agent behind him, “help the guards send these people back to work.  We’ll never catch any of these aliens we’re after if these people slack off.”

 “But sir,” Agent Colton protested, “I thought that-”

 Agent Dimitri knew exactly what Agent Colton thought.  In the last few months since Colton became his lead field agent on the case he saw how focused he was on finishing his job.  Although he respected the determination, he knew that Colton suspected the trapped Agent Dobbs of betraying the FBI special unit.  Colton’s instincts were probably right, but he was itching to prove that his theory correct.  The last thing he wanted was for Colton to jump to his own conclusions early on in the interrogation and forget the search for the ultimate truth.  Well, that and Dimitri really liked to work alone.  He preferred to at least think he could retain complete control over the situation.

 “Agent Colton, if you thought that you were going to go in there with me,” Dimitri replied quietly, “you are greatly mistaken.  This was your idea, but it’s my vault and my agent.  If you don’t like it then I’ll expect you out on your next mission by the time I’m on my way to lunch.  Understood?”

 “Yes sir,” Agent Colton replied stiffly.

 Agent Dimitri recomposed himself one last time while the guard entered the key code for the last secured lock on the vault door.  He listened contentedly while Agent Colton ordered the remaining onlookers to return to their jobs.  He felt sure he had complete control over the situation and relished it for all it was worth.

The vault door slowly slid open and Agent Dimitri confidently stepped inside.  Agent Dobson peered at him from corner he was sitting in with narrowed eyes.  Dimitri grinned slightly and motioned for the door to close behind him.  When the door began to slide the other way, Agent Dobson sprung up from the floor with widened eyes.

 “Sir,” Agent Dobson said unhappily, “I don‘t suppose you‘ve come to let me out of here.”

 Silence dwindled until the vault door closed again.  The lights remained lit, however, and Agent Dobson, with eyes narrowed, continued to wait for his response.  He wasted little time.

 “Agent Dobson,” Dimitri began thoughtfully, “you are not the same man that the Special Unit promoted nine months ago.  In fact, rumors about you have come up in my office that I wouldn‘t dare utter even in a place as seemingly secured as this vault.  That is, unless I was told the truth about you.”

 “Funny,” Dobson replied, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

 “Say what you want Agent Dobson,” Dimitri countered, “but if you tell me the truth I will let you out of here unharmed.”

 “Okay,” Dobson prompted him as though were interested.

 “Are you in fact working to protect a certain target of ours by the name of Max Evans?” Dimitri continued slowly, “and remember the truth will set you free.”

 ~.~.~.~

 “Are you sure?”

 Serena glanced at Kyle while she stuffed her purse into her small locker in the backroom of the Crashdown.  In the last two hours since he first asked, she never felt more certain.  After studying the first few pages of her mother’s journal for most of the night, she knew what she would find.  Kyle didn’t seem to believe her, although he seemed a bit distracted at the moment since he found the remote to the small television stuffed in the cushions of the ratty old brown couch in the corner.  Since he finally connected the television to the cable connected to the Parker’s apartment, he seemed to be taking advantage of it a lot.  She should have been frustrated by the way he seemed indifferent about all their problems, but envied him instead.  Still, his concern for her and the book remained.  She needed to answer him.

 “Kyle, it’s just a history of her life here on Earth,” Serena reminded him while she draped her uniform over her shoulder, “and it’s in a language that I haven’t tried to translate since before she died.”

 “No, it’s more than that if she risked her life to keep it hidden from the rest of the world,” he insisted, “and you haven’t translated all of it yet.”

 “Okay,” Serena relented light-heartedly, “but my shift started about five minutes ago and I need to change.”

 “Okay,” he replied with a grin on his face, although his eyes were fixated on the television screen, “I’ll be right here if you need me.”

 She rolled her eyes sarcastically and disappeared into the staff’s restroom to change into her uniform.  Kyle sighed and searched the television channels until he settled on a rerun of a basketball game he missed the night before on ESPN.  He slid his right index finger to the volume buttons in hopes of drowning out the noise from the kitchen, but changed his mind when he heard two very familiar voices in an intense conversation at the top of the stairs leading to the apartment.

 “Liz, I will handle it,” Max insisted.

 “I wish you would,” she replied unhappily, “but I am tired, stressed out and impatient.”

 “We need a plan,” he pointed out, “let’s talk about it after our shifts end and-”

 “That’s not good enough!” she said slowly, her voice low.

 “Liz,” Max tried.

 “You know what?  I am tired of waiting-” Liz began.

 “I know, but-” Max tried again.

 “I’m sorry Max,” she said as if she had enough, “If you don’t, I will.”

 “Liz,” Max attempted once more, but footsteps followed.

 Kyle quickly returned his attention back to the television.  The backroom door swung open and then closed, which told him that Liz returned to work.  A deep sigh followed and Kyle looked up to see Max staring at the doorway; contemplating his next move.  Serena walked out of the restroom and noticed that Max was in her way and definitely unhappy about something.

 “What’s going on?” Serena prodded.

 “Liz is upset,” Max sighed unhappily.

 “That’s an understatement,” Kyle spoke up.

 Serena and Max turned to face him and he held up his hands in front of him as if to say he meant no harm.  He didn’t want to put himself in the middle of anything.  A little perspective for Max, perhaps, but nothing more.

 “What?” Kyle gasped, “if you saw the way she stormed back in there you’d agree with me.  If you ask me, I haven‘t seen her that angry since Alex‘s funeral.”

 “Nobody asked you,” Max pointed out.

 “Look, she probably just needs some time to think about things and cool off,” Serena reasoned, “and I better get to work.  Someone has to help her calm down.”

 Kyle watched her leave and then returned his eyes to Max for a brief moment.  He still hadn’t moved and Kyle felt bad for him.  He wished that he could help Max feel better about the situation while he turned his attention back to the basketball game.  He wanted to try at least.

 “How about a distraction?” Kyle offered, “I found last night’s basketball game- Utah Jazz versus Orlando Magic.”

 “Who’s winning?” Max replied as though he were thinking about joining him.

 Kyle opened his mouth to answer and closed it when Max plopped down beside him and took a deep breath.  If he thought he had problems, he was wrong.  Max seemed to have the entire weight of two worlds on his shoulders and an unhappy wife.  Luckily, however, he was pretty sure that that would change.  Max would find a way to make things better soon or later.  He always did.

 ~.~.~.~

 Despite their earlier argument, Max promised Liz he would take her to Maria’s check-up.  All he needed was a clean shirt and the worn out pair of khaki pants his mom insisted on ironing for him the night before.  He hadn’t planned on changing clothes so early in the day, but his plans changed after the new bus boy at the café accidentally ran into him with his bin full of dishes and greasy, sticky leftovers.  The unexpected collision left him strapped for time and he knew that if he was late to pick up Liz she would worry, which was the last thing he wanted.  Liz had enough to worry about and he was already in her ‘dog house’ for being so cautious about saving her parents from the FBI special unit.  Max rifled through his closet impatiently for the clothing he was looking for.  He knew that Hanley was probably pacing downstairs awaiting his return on top of everything else currently stressing him out.  Searching for his clothes only added to the list that didn’t seem to have a definite end.

 Since he returned with Liz, they shared the closet.  The already small hanging space was crammed with clothes and several pairs of shoes piled up beneath them on the beige carpet of the closet floor.  They needed a bigger closet.  Fortunately, however, the crammed wardrobe was a great place for hiding small items.  No one would be able to wade through the dense mess of clothes to find anything pertinent- well, not without making a big mess at least.  Unfortunately, two whole minutes passed before he could find the shirt he was looking for and the pants seemed lost in a sea of khaki selections at the other end of the closet.  At least he thought he would find them there.  After he put his shirt on, he nearly tripped over the pile of shoes on his way to that end of the closet.  Frustrated slightly, he cursed under his breath about the khaki pants while he attempted to find them.  To his surprise, he received a soft chuckle in response.  He thought maybe Hanley came to check on him at first, but hesitated over his quick conclusion.  His designated royal protector usually beckoned him from the stairway before worrying enough to come into the room. Hanley hadn’t done that yet.

 “You might check the chair,” a male voice suggested kindly from behind him.

 A voice that Max didn’t recognize.  His shoulders tensed up while he turned around away from the closet.  A young man who appeared to be his age met his eyes.  He had short wavy dark brown hair with short bangs and deep dark brown eyes.  Eyes that reminded him of Hanley a little bit.  He smirked at Max who simply waited uncomfortably, although the smirk seemed familiar as well.

 “Relax your highness,” he said reassuringly, “I’m not here to hurt you.”

 Max wasn’t convinced.  Still, the young man had not tried to hurt him yet.  He needed more information before he could make up his mind on whether he needed to defend himself or not.

 “Who are you?” Max demanded, “what are you doing here?”

 “Xaden D’Layon,” he replied with a bow, “they call me Xaedon.”

 “Hanley and Raeve’s brother,” Max prodded further, still unconvinced.

 “Yes,” he assured Max, “I need your help to free the Parkers.  Just yours.  You can‘t tell anyone or they will want to follow when they cannot.  The conditions for their release are absolute.”

 “Max, are you coming?” Hanley called from the stairway before Max could respond.

 “Yes,” Max shouted back to Hanley, “just a minute!”

 “Will you help me?” Xaedon prodded while Max quickly tried to slip his pants on

 “Not now,” Max insisted quietly, “unless you let me tell Hanley.”

 “Look, just meet me at midnight tonight at the old cheese factory,” Xaedon insisted, “alone.  Okay?  If you don‘t then I can‘t guarantee their safety or their release from the special unit.  I promise no harm will come to you under my guard.”

 Max wanted to believe Xaedon.  He imagined how happy Liz would be when her parents were back at the Crashdown again.  She was unhappy lately and crabby from lack of sleep.  All she wanted from Max in the last six months was a way to for him to save her parents.  If Xaedon’s offer was the best way then he wanted to give it a try.  He just didn’t know if it was the greatest way.  Reluctanly, he nodded his head.  Xaedon mouthed a “thank you” and disappeared through the window.  Max shook his head in disbelief while he buckled his belt.  He was sure that he melted the lock shut on that window the day he first returned to his old room.  Apparently, it wasn’t good enough to keep the real enemy or protector outside. Unfortunately, the door wasn’t locked well enough either because Isabel barged in seconds later.

 “Good, you’re fully dressed,” Isabel sighed in relief, “Hanley’s about ready to explode down there.  He um, well let’s just say I’ve never seen him so impatient before.”

 “Well, he hates being late,” Max informed her, “and Liz is already angry with me so I probably should keep her waiting at the café.”

 “So everything is okay?” Isabel prodded while Max started to leave the room.

 He stopped moving when she finished talking and turned to face her.  Things were pretty far from okay at the moment, but he didn’t have time to vent.  In fact, he couldn’t find time for much of anything important in the last few days and he … well, he wanted to stop thinking so much.  He needed to act.  He need to go pick Liz up for Maria’s check-up while she could still get away.

 “Not really,” Max relented, “but I can’t talk about it now.  Liz is waiting.”

 Quietly, Max left his room and continued to think about what Xaedon wanted from him.  Disappearing from several pairs of watchful eyes would be difficult, but Max would do anything to make Liz happy again.  He just didn’t like the idea of going somewhere on his own to help someone he didn’t completely trust.  He didn’t like that idea at all.

 ~.~.~.~

 For the few minutes while Liz and Max waited for the front door to open at the Deluca house, she tried to guess what could be bothering Max.  Anything to take her mind off the intense silence that seemed to be growing between them.  He didn’t really have a job yet so it wasn’t that he was fired.  He certainly wasn’t dreaming about his son anymore or having nightmares about the white room.  Obviously he couldn’t be pregnant either.  He just seemed more distracted than he had been earlier that day before he went home to change.  She thought about asking him again, but the door opened before she had a chance.  Her second opportunity to grill him had passed. 

“Liz, how nice to see you,” Amy greeted her happily while she gestured for her and Max to come inside and added, “Hello Max, are you here for Michael?”

 “Pretty much,” Max admitted, “he is here right?”

 “Where else would I be at a time like this?” Michael spoke up while he approached them from behind Amy.

 Liz noticed Amy roll her eyes and held back a giggle that was creeping up her throat.  She knew that the two of them weren’t getting along since Amy found out what he accidentally did to Maria while they were on the run.  Although Liz was still learning to accept it, she had hoped that Amy and Michael would try to get along for Maria’s sake.

 “Michael-” Amy began, but Max spoke up before she could continue.

 “How about another power honing session Michael?” Max suggested.

 “Right now?” Michael gasped, “Maxwell, I was gonna be here for-”

 “I don’t know why,” Amy interrupted sarcastically, “you keep saying that Maria and the baby are just fine.”

“Well, maybe it’s just to see the look on your face when you realize that I’m right,” Michael insisted childishly.

 “Let’s not and say we did,” Liz insisted, “please Michael?”

 “Yeah, come on,” Max added, “Maria doesn’t need the stress and you know it.”

 Michael seemed reluctant, but he caved nonetheless.  Liz was sure he spotted the pleading look in Max’s eyes.  She knew that if Max wouldn’t tell her what he was doing then he would surely tell his second in command.  She watched them leave the house and hoped that Max would tell him.  He obviously wasn’t going to tell her any time soon.

 ~.~.~.~

 Maria glanced up at Liz when she entered her room with her chemistry set in hand.  She wasn't surprised to see Liz since Michael told her that she would be coming by to take a look at her ... condition.  Part of her originally gave her the idea in the first place.  Well, that and her mom's insistence that she receive some kind of medical attention.  She didn't mind either, but Michael seemed annoyed before he left for work that morning.  He was convinced that because their baby was as alien as the both of them that she would be fine without the medical attention.  He seemed completely certain that she and the baby were fine and loathed the fact that he couldn't convince Maria's mom otherwise.  Maria told him to relax, which didn't seem to help either.  All she knew was that it was useless for him to try to fight her mom regarding anything of which she was completely certain. 

"Hi Maria," Liz greeted her kindly, "you're probably fine, but you're mom insisted."

 "It's fine really," Maria replied dismissively, "I'm pretty sure it will make her happy and if she's happy then I think Michael will be less..."

 She paused momentarily while she tried to think of an appropriate adjective.  Her eyes met Liz's for a moment, almost hoping that she would be able to fill in the blank.  In the months since she lost her emotions she remembered many, but some of them were still strange to her.  All she really knew was that 'angry' and 'upset' didn't seem to be the right words.

 "less likely to blow someone up?" Liz spoke up as if she understood completely.

 "Something like that," Maria agreed with a brief nod and added wearily, "he and my mom have been arguing a lot lately.  One says push and the other says pull."

 "Maybe they're both just really worried about you," Liz suggested.

 "Maybe," Maria replied thoughtfully, "but, I think it's more than that.  She’s been upset with him ever since she found out what he did to me last year.  But, I realize that she's never really thought very highly of him.  I'm sure you can imagine what she's told me about him in her crusade to help me relive my life."

 "She'll get over it eventually," Liz assured her while she gently pressed two fingers against the inside of Maria's wrist.

 Maria sensed that Liz was taking her pulse, but she wasn't concerned about it. She knew that she was fine ... physically at least.  Mentally, she still felt as though she were on the very edge between balancing out and becoming a total nutcase.  Lately- or at least since her mom's crusade began- she felt like she was becoming Maria again.  Most of the time, however, she could hear Calypso's thoughts in her head no matter how she felt.

"Stop it," Maria insisted without any idea that she said the last two words out loud until Liz's fingers withdrew abruptly.

 "I'm sorry.  Maria, are you okay?" Liz prodded gently.

 "It's okay," Maria assured her, "I wasn't talking to you.  Calypso is still in there and when she thinks things, I hear them loud and clear as if I‘m thinking them."

 "Oh," Liz replied uneasily, "do you usually talk to her out loud?"

 "I don't think so," Maria replied, "but, I'm pretty sure that she doesn't like you."

Calypso began ranting, but Maria wouldn't hear it.

 "Enough," she said, her voice slow and firm.  Again out loud.  Maria rolled her eyes and added to Liz, "I want her to know Liz."

 "Know what?" Liz prodded while she felt Maria's abdomen for a moment and added jokingly, "that you seem to be well into your third trimester?"

 "That she knows," Maria pointed out, not really understanding the humor, "I want her to know about the friendship we had- that I want us to have again.  My mom told me what she knows already and I- I really want to relive it through you."

 Liz pulled her hands away from Maria again and seemed to be taking notes.  Maria waited anxiously for her response.  After a few moments, Liz paused, put down her pencil and looked at Maria with a grin.

 "Okay," Liz relented softly, "I'll tell you."

 ~.~.~.~

 At the mouth of a cave somewhere in the desert near Roswell, Michael sat on a small boulder in the shade of the jagged rock walls.  His book bag rested beside him, filled with books.   Max took him out there to spend time honing their powers, but Michael felt too distracted to focus.  Although he used to escape from his world by cracking rocks, he felt more comfortable now engulfed in a book that would help him pass his GED so that Amy Deluca would stop nagging him about bettering himself. 

Max stood several feet away from a small pile of rocks Hanley kept repositioning.  Michael glanced up at him from time to time.  He was sure that Max wanted to talk about something as well.  Something always seemed to concern him.  Not that Michael blamed him.  He had done more than enough worrying mentally than everyone else combined in the last few months and was slowing growing weary of the task.  A task, he never thought he would ever want to stop.

 For the moment Michael read about biology while Max cracked rocks and Hanley watched from nearby.  As long as Max didn’t bother him, he was content to continue reading until he finished with every last book in his bag. Unfortunately, his contentment was short-lived.  Hanley walked away to answer his phone again when Max began to make his move.  He stopped cracking rocks and wiped the sweat from his brow.  Michael sensed the words before they every came out of Max’s mouth.

 “You know, I didn’t come here to crack rocks by myself,” Max sighed.

 “You know how important this test is to me Maxwell,” Michael responded impatiently.

 “Okay,” Max relented while he took a step back in order to rest for a few minutes, “but I didn’t really ask you to come here to study in peace either.”

 “Yeah, I figured that,” Michael agreed while he closed his biology book, “what’s up?”

 “What’s up between you and Maria?” Max prodded.

 Completely slack-jawed, Michael looked at him for a moment.  He knew that the others noticed the tension between him and Maria, but only Max knew that he proposed to Maria.  Max helped him create the ring.  He also knew how Maria responded to the proposal and he figured that Max would figure it out being the smart, quick-witted reborn king of Antar that he remained.  In all honesty, he didn’t want to talk about it and had a pretty good feeling that Max only brought it up in an attempt to dodge a more important matter.

 “Too personal,” Michael decided aloud just to put an end to the subject.

 “Seriously Michael,” Max pressed gently while he sat on a nearby boulder, “I‘m not the only one who noticed that your bickering is less friendly.  I wouldn‘t be the surprised if it‘s the stress of the pregnancy on the two of you, but I know you proposed to her.  I don‘t know why she responded the way that she did but-”

 “It’s not important Maximillion,” Michael insisted while he stood up, “but I have a feeling you want to tell me what really is.”

 “You‘d be cracking rocks today if it wasn‘t bothering you,” Max countered insistently.

 Michael shook his head and extended a hand toward the pile of rocks.  He tried to focus to no avail.  The pile exploded in all directions and the pebbles turned to dust.  Max chuckled briefly.

 “Nice to know you’re not much better at it than I am,” Max pointed out.

 “I told you I’m not focused enough for this today,” Michael reminded him.

 “I just hope Hanley doesn’t come running,” Max told him.

 “It wasn’t that big,” Michael assured him while he gestured to where the pile used to be, “was it?”

 “No,” Max assured him and added quietly, “but I’d rather he not hear what I’m about to tell you.”

 “What‘s going on?” Michael replied, suddenly very interested in talking with Max.

 Max glanced toward the van where Hanley stood.  Michael followed his gaze.  He remained distracted on his cell phone, and shifted his wait impatiently from side to side.  Michael silently wondered what Max didn’t want Hanley to know.

 “Xaedon showed up in my bedroom earlier today,” Max informed Michael quietly who whipped around quickly to take in what Max just said, “he says the FBI special unit will let Mr. and Mrs. Parker go if I meet this Agent Dimitri.  I’m supposed to meet him at the old cheese factory tonight. Alone.”

 “I don’t need to tell you how dangerous that could be,” Michael sighed and added curiously, “Did he say why you had to come alone?”

 “He would have if Hanley hadn’t interrupted.  He left before … and he asked that I not tell anyone,” Max told him.

 “Then,” Michael said thoughtfully, “why tell me?  Wait, you actually want my advice?”

 “I think he would protect me, but we don’t know their intentions.  All I know is that the head agent wants to talk,” Max explained, “and it would be great to have the Parkers released to us. I would feel more confident about his plan if you‘d come with me or at least distract Hanley for me.”

 “It sounds risky,” Michael pointed out thoughtfully, “and you’re so cautious I’m surprised that you’re considering the idea, unless you think it’s a sure way to get the Parkers back.”

 “I do,” Max admitted, “but you thought Maria would agree to marry you when you asked her so-”

 “Gee thanks for bringing that up again,” Michael sighed unhappily.

 “That bad huh?” Max prodded gently.

 “Just complicated,” Michael said frustrated, “very complicated.  Let‘s leave it at that.”

 ~.~.~.~ 

“They were really happy that Maria is doing well,” Max told Liz while he drove them back to the Crashdown.

 Liz glanced at him briefly before thinking of a response.  She still wanted to ask him what was bothering him, but she couldn’t predict how he would react.  More to the point, she wasn’t sure yet how to ask him.  She had a feeling that the problem was the kind he didn’t want to talk about with anyone.

 “You know she didn’t really want me there to check her health,” Liz pointed out, “she knew that she’s fine physically before I arrived.”

 “Then why did she let you?” Max prodded gently.

 “She wanted to remember the friendship she had with me,” Liz informed him, “because she wanted Calypso to understand it.  It seems that she and Calypso both maintain control over her body.  It‘s almost like she has dual-personality disorder only the two personalities communicate constantly with each other.”

“Do you think they can continue to coexist like that?” Max pondered aloud.

 “Well, whatever happened to Clayton Wheeler?” Liz countered with the same curiosity.

 “I think he died when we took that dive out of that attic window of that private school in Vermont,” Max seemed to be guessing, “I haven’t heard or sensed him in here since.”

 “You were the stronger of the two souls, Max,” Liz reminded him, “and your love for me helped you to overcome him.  Both Maria and Calypso love Michael more than life itself.  I don‘t care what Calypso told us; those two could be going at it until the next lifetime … or until Michael … you know.  Until then, I haven‘t figured out how the two have been functioning within Maria’s body and especially with the baby growing inside.”

 “That probably explains why she hasn’t agreed to Michael’s marriage proposal yet,” Max concluded offhandedly.

 “Yeah, but- wait, why didn’t I know about this?” Liz replied.

 “Michael’s upset about it and insisted that no one know.  It would probably only make him feel worse,” Max explained, “you know how he hates pity.  Besides, he’s pretty sure that she’ll say ‘yes’ eventually so he doesn‘t see any reason for the rest of us to worry about it.”

 “I understand,” Liz informed him, “but I know that there is something else bothering you.  So what else haven’t you told me?”

 Max might have answered, but Liz’s cell phone rang and she answered it.  A few minutes later she hung up and took a deep breath.  Any future grilling would have to wait until later.

 “That was Serena,” she told Max, “she has some news for us about her mom’s journal.”

 “Call a meeting,” Max insisted, “we should all be together for this.”

 ~.~.~.~

 After the Crashdown closed that night, everyone gathered in the living room above for the meeting that Max requested.  Hanley and Max were absent and about to be very late.  Liz worried because she hadn’t seen Max since she flipped the sign in the Crashdown.  She looked at Michael in the hope that he might know something.

 “Don’t look at me,” Michael insisted, “I’m sure Maxwell is just running a few minutes behind.”

 “He has been known to be late from time to time,” Isabel agreed, “but it’s been nearly twenty minutes.  What if something is wrong?”

 “If he’s with Will then he should be fine,” Raeve pointed out, “and Will hardly ever leaves his side.”

 “And if he’s not?” Phillip Evans spoke up worriedly.

 “Guys Max did call this meeting,” Liz reminded them, “trust me, he’ll be here.”

 Several people in the room seemed unconvinced, but no one suggested any kind of action so they continued to wait.  Liz hoped that she was right, but she had a feeling about where he really was and what he was really doing.  Unfortunately, she just couldn’t prove it yet.

 ~.~.~.~

 The cold night air made the hairs on the back of Max's neck stand on end.  He turned off the ignition of his mom's Honda and took a deep breath.  For a moment he simply stared at the old Cheese Factory.  Even at night, he could see the remnants of the fire from the party that ended with Liz and Alex arrested as minors in possession of alcohol by Sheriff Valenti. 

Cautiously and quietly, Max began to climb out of the car.  He opened the door and swung one leg outside.  Moments before he moved his other leg, he heard the passenger door open and then shut seconds later.  He turned, effectively pulling both legs back into his vehicle, while his heart raced.  Xaedon’s eyes met his and let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding.  His protector smirked and crossed his arms over his chest.

 “I didn’t think you’d show up,” he told Max, “and definitely not alone.”

 “Yet I’m here,” Max reminded him, “where are the Parkers?”

 “You should know something Max,” Xaedon informed him calmly, “Agent Dimitri- the head of the special unit- wants to meet with you before they can be released.  He’s the one who trapped me in that vault.  I don’t trust him, but I think I know who he’s working for- and it’s not the United States of America.”

 “Then who?” Max prodded, “Kivar?”

 “I’d rather not say until I have definite proof,” Xaedon informed him, “and I’m not sure how likely it is that I’m right.  I can only tell you that there is but one way that he could have found out about my protecting you by sensing it when he looked at me for as long as I worked there undercover.  His intuition is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.”

 “Anything else I should know?” Max replied.

 “Beware of Agent Colton.  He’s the one who led the burglary of that apartment in Boston.  He’ll take any chance he can to build his reputation on your demise.  He’ll be there with Agent Dimitri.  I don’t think that Dimitri likes him, but he obviously hasn’t served his purpose yet or else he’d be away on some other mission right now,” Xaedon explained, “follow my lead once we get inside.  No one knows these guys like I do.  Okay?”

 Max doubted that Xaedon knew the agents the way he did, but he nodded nonetheless.  These particular agents weren’t in charge when he was captured.  Xaedon, therefore, could not have been all wrong.  Moments later, he climbed out of the car and glanced behind him as if he were simply surveying the scene.  Michael was hiding out there somewhere, keeping an eye on him incase the worst should happen.

 Xaedon gestured and Max turned to join him.  Although he was extremely nervous on the inside, he walked calmly toward the building.  He didn’t really know what to expect.  All he could do was follow his gut instincts and hope to be right.  Seconds later, they reached the door and Max watched him unlock it with a key he withdrew from one of his pockets.  He was intrigued, but said nothing while they entered the building.  He felt better knowing that Xaedon was obviously hiding his powers from the FBI special unit.

 The inside of the building was pitch black until a light bulb turned on in what seemed to be the middle of the remaining room.  The floor creaked while they walked and dust, shaken loose from the vibrations, seemed to fall from the wood beams in the ceiling.  The air reeked of mold and Max had to hold in the urge to better the air with his powers. Instead he concentrated on locating the agents, but they seemed to find him just as he expected.

 “Max Evans,” a male voice greeted him smugly, “we meet at last.”

 “Where are the Parkers?” Max demanded calmly although he hadn’t found the agent yet.

 “Patience,” the voice encouraged him, “all in due time.”

 “Where are you?” Max tried, hoping to get a look at the agent who seemed to be taunting him.

 “There,” Xaedon spoke up, while he pointed in the direction of the light bulb, “he must be sitting at that table near the light.”

 Max cautiously approached the light and finally noticed the card table.  Two chairs surrounded it and the agent already occupied one of them.  His eyes narrowed in intrigue when he finally saw Max up close.  He gestured toward the seat, but Max was reluctant to join him.

 “Please,” he insisted, “have a seat.”

 ~.~.~.~

 Everyone who had been sitting impatiently stood up when Hanley entered the room alone half an hour after the meeting was supposed to start.  He winced as though he sensed an impending unwelcomed reaction and rubbed the back of his neck with his right hand.

 “Will, where is Max?” Raeve demanded.

 “Rae-” Hanley began, but she interrupted him.

 “He’s with you right?” she prodded further.

 “No,” Hanley replied slowly and unhappily, “Max isn’t with me, which means I don’t know where he is and I have a feeling that one of you might know something that I do not.” 

“But you always have an eye on him,” Isabel scolded him, “how could you let this happen?”

 “I didn’t just let this happen,” Hanley informed her and the others frustrated, “I was in the car, driving Max to this meeting and I blacked out.   When I came to, Max was gone and I was parked on the side of the road a couple blocks away from here.”

 “Do you think you were followed?” Rae prodded tersely.

 “No,” Hanley said, shaking his head, “I would have noticed.”

 Everyone glanced at each other except for Liz.  She knew that Max was hiding something and if he was getting himself into trouble she blamed herself for pushing him to act.  In hopes of making amends, she spoke up first.

 “He’s been hiding something ever since he picked me up for Maria’s check-up earlier this afternoon,” she said, “but he wouldn’t give me the details.  We were kind of angry with each other. I was hoping he might have told Michael while they were out honing their powers together while I was with Maria.”

 All eyes in the room shifted to Michael who flung his hands in the air and shifted uncomfortable in his seat.  Maria looked at him expectantly as did several others.  He gasped in disbelief and then shook his head.

 “No,” he insisted, “there is no way that he would go off and … not after … look he asked me to play look out for him when he … I shouldn’t even say it.  I promised Maxwell-”

 “Just say it already,” Raeve demanded calmly.

 “He said that Xaedon confronted him today,” Michael sighed, “told me that he wants Max to meet him alone to talk to an Agent Dimitri so that the Parkers would be set free.  But, I told you he wanted me to help him.  He‘s too cautious to do something like that on his own.”

 “Not after I blew up at him this morning,” Liz sighed unhappily.

 “Did Max tell you where?” Hanley demanded.

 “The old cheese factory, but it’ll be crawling with agents,” Michael replied.

 “Xae will protect him,” Raeve insisted, “it’s his job.”

 “Hey guys,” Jesse suddenly spoke up, “there’s a black SUV that just parked outside the café downstairs and two guys in suits just climbed out.”

 Everyone crowded around the window, but Hanley pushed his way to the front.  They watched as the men in suits pulled two people out of the back seat who were tied up and blind-folded.  In seconds the SUV drove away and one of the tied up people below pulled off their blind-fold.  Liz gasped and ran downstairs with Serena in tow.  Eyes widened and Hanley shook his head.  Jeff and Nancy Parker were finally returned to the Crashdown Café.

 “I don’t believe it,” he said, “it can’t be that easy.”

 “It never is,” Isabel spoke up, “does anyone see Max?”

 ~.~.~.~ 

“I want the Parkers returned,” Max told Dimitri, “immediately.”

 “Done,” Dimitri replied affirmatively with a slap of his hand on the table, “now we get to talk.”

 “Don’t I get some kind of reassurance?” Max gasped.

 “Ask you’re friend here,” Dimitri told him, motioning to agent Dobson, “I bet he knows.”

 Max looked at him.  He didn’t look like Xaedon anymore, but he was the same guy.  After a few seconds, Xaedon blinked and looked at Max. 

“Well,” Max prodded agent Dobson, “are they back?”

 “They are,” he replied unemotionally, “Agent Dimitri delivered on his promise.” 

“See,” Dimitri spoke with a grin on his face, “unlike you, my word is my bond.”

 “What do you mean?” Max demanded.

 “I want to know a few things from you,” Dimitri explained, “you’re highness.”

 Max gasped while Agent Dimitri smirked triumphantly.  He wanted to know how Dimitri knew that he was supposed to be a king.  None of the artifacts that were stolen from him actually said so outright.  He glanced at Xaedon who, behind his rigid façade, seemed to be keeping something from him.  He wondered if Xaedon could be right about Dimitri being different than the others, however, and decided not to act just yet.  Xaedon said he would protect him from Dimitri and the others.  For now, Max remained calm and believed him.  He had a feeling that he was about to learn some things about the FBI special unit that could change his plans for the fighting that would transpire with his enemies in the future.

 ~.~.~.~

Liz sat on the bed that she and Max shared in their room at the Evans house.  The room seemed empty without him and she felt weird having ended the meeting before anyone knew exactly where Max had gone.  Raeve simply announced that Xaedon would protect him and that there was no reason to worry about Max.  Liz remained concerned nonetheless.  She sat with her knees to her chest and reminded herself to keep breathing; all the while grateful that Isabel was there with her.

 Isabel seemed just as concerned, but she acted a bit more subdued.  Liz wondered if it was simply because Isabel felt tired of the constant worry and suspense since they seemed to be within the calm before the storm.  She seemed to believe that Max would definitely be okay and that made Liz feel better because the guilt she felt for blowing up at him earlier that day overwhelmed her.  Despite the fact that she was overjoyed about her parents’ return, she couldn’t feel relieved until the moment when Max would wrap his arms around her in a passionate embrace and have the feel of his lips against her own.

 “You know he’ll be okay, right?” Isabel said softly.

 “Yes,” Liz said with a nod and added, “but it was too impulsive for him to just go off like that- alone and unannounced- even with Xaedon protecting him.  What exactly do we know about this other protector anyway except that he’s Raeve and Hanley’s brother?”

 “True,” Isabel replied thoughtfully, “and the fact that he could allude Hanley so easily is a bit disturbing.”

 

“Yeah, I just,” Liz responded emotionally, “I yelled at him this morning for not taking action and it’s like … it’s like-”

 “Liz, you didn’t force him to do what he did,” Isabel insisted, “I’m sure he had his reasons and hopefully they were good ones.”

 “But,” Liz said while she wiped away a couple stray tears, “he wanted to cheer me up and I just kept at him about saving my parents.”

 “You missed them Liz,” Isabel reminded her, “you were worried for their well-being and the added stress wasn’t helping you keep the café afloat all these months.  I’m sure he understood.  Maybe he was just waiting for some inside help from Xaedon before he could have your parents returned.”

 Liz attempted a small grin, which faltered when her ears registered the clicking noise of the door knob turning.  Her gaze flew to the doorway as if she sensed who the intruder would be and her face lit up when she saw Max standing in the doorway staring at her.  She moved to climb off the bed while Isabel ran over to him and wrapped her arms around his shoulders.

 “Max, thank goodness,” Isabel told him and added while she pulled away, “we were worried.  There will be more words later, but now I think Liz needs your attention.  Goodnight little brother, I have a wonderful, amazing husband waiting for me in the other room.”

 Quietly, Isabel stepped out of the bedroom and closed the door behind her.  Liz barely noticed her departure.  Her eyes were fixed on Max as though she were afraid he would disappear at any second.  He smirked for a moment and extended his arms when she leaned against him and wrapped her arms about his middle.

 “Max, I’m so sorry about this morning,” she said softly, “I never wanted you to go in there alone and-”

 “I wasn’t alone,” he told her gently, “Xaedon was there to protect me.”

 She opened her mouth to protest, but he wouldn’t hear it as he continued, “more than that, you were with me.”

 “No, I wasn’t I-” she tried, but stopped when he gently grabbed her right hand, kissed it and placed it against his chest; over his heart.

 “You’re always here Liz,” he told her, “Everywhere I go, you’re there with me no matter what.  But, you‘re right about one thing.”

 “What’s that?” she prodded.

 “I shouldn’t have gone when I did,” he told her, “what I did should have happened months ago.”

 Liz pulled him closer to him if that were possible and kissed him passionately.  Then her brain seemed to turn on at full speed.  She wanted to know what happened and why the special unit let Max and her parents go free in the same night.

 “Max, what happened that made it so easy for you and my parents to-” she began, but he silenced her with another kiss and led her to the bed.

 “I don’t want to discuss it tonight,” he said softly, “I would rather tell everyone at once when we meet tomorrow.”

 “Okay,” Liz said and added teasingly, “but you better show up this time.”

 He chuckled softly while they climbed onto the bed and she couldn’t help smiling from ear to ear.  Her parents finally returned and Max was safe.  Max was in her arms; loving her and nothing else in that moment could have made her happier.  For one night she could forget about all their other problems despite Kivar’s impending war with them.  It was a night she would never forget.  A night she wouldn’t trade for anything in the world- even in the calm before the storm.

  © 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.