BOOK 9 VERISIMILITUDE
(THE CONSPIRACY EXPOSED)
(Episode - Viva Las Vegas)
(Friday, February 16th, 2001)
(West Roswell High School)
Michael was waiting for Max outside his third period class. "So Max, will that plan to cover our absence stretch to include a few others?"
"Like Isabel?" Max asked.
"No," Michael said, shaking his head.
"Yes," Max nodded. "She heard us talking this morning and she wants to come."
"Great." Michael said unenthusiastically. "Maria invited Alex and Tess found out and invited herself and Kyle too. The whole damn town is coming."
Liz ran down the school hall, hoping the group hadn't left yet. At first she had been adamant about avoiding Vegas but as the day passed, Maria's words kept echoing in her mind.
What happened between you and Max is unspeakably intense, but the marriage thing never actually really happened, so you've gotta let go of it. You've got to create your own memories.
Liz had started to think that Maria was right. Here was an opportunity to go and have a good time and she should take advantage of it, and maybe it would help her push the thoughts of what could-have-been out of her mind. As she rounded the corner she saw the gang turn toward the door, and she called out, "Hey! You got room for one more?"
"Oh, I'm so proud of you," Maria said as she pulled Liz into a hug.
"Yeah," Max said, surprised but pleased that Liz wanted to come with them, "but let's get out of the hall before someone starts asking questions."
Michael rolled his eyes at the thought of Liz coming. He could just imagine her reaction to what he had planned, and he reached out to stop her. "No lecturing, no moralizing, no whining about spending money on the homeless. This weekend it's about fun and debauchery. You got it?"
"Yeah," Liz agreed. "I know how to have fun."
Michael pictured Liz's almost compulsive organization of the Crashdown. "Right," he said sarcastically.
Max lagged behind the others to talk to Liz, "I didn't put your name on the debate team list because I didn't know you were coming, but we can figure out something to excuse you from class."
"It's okay, Max," Liz assured him. "My last class is with Ms. Tatum. I told her that I wanted to do some extra research for my final paper so she said I could go to the library."
"Good," Max said with a smile. "I'm glad you're covered. I would hate to ruin your perfect attendance record."
Liz smiled back, knowing he was joking and pushed him playfully. "Dork." She laughed at the surprised look on his face.
"What about your parents?" Max asked.
"Maria, Alex and I have an old system where we all call the parents and tell them we are spending the night at each others' houses," Liz explained.
Max nodded, "Isabel and I did the same thing, except we told her we were staying with Michael."
"So we're completely free," Liz said wistfully, "and no one will even know we're gone."
(Las Vegas, NV)
(Bali Hai Hotel & Casino)
Tess was still upset that she and Liz had been turned away from the casino. "You know what it is?" she ranted, "It's because we're small. If we weren't so damn short, he would have totally bought that we were 21. So what I'm going to do, I'm going to mind warp the security guard, making him think that we are five-ten and then we just go in."
Liz sighed. She had thought that she and Maria would go shopping and maybe see a show, but now that Maria had gone off by herself, Liz felt at loose ends. She had thought she would be so busy that there would be no time to consider the wedding that she and Max would have had but that was all she was thinking about. The city, the casino, the constant references to Elvis were just too much and she felt more and more depressed. The last thing she wanted to do was go into the casino and gamble. "Tess, I'm fine here in the arcade," Liz said.
Tess had started to think that Liz would make a good friend but she was beginning to wonder if she had been wrong. She should have stayed with Isabel, Tess thought. Isabel knew how to have fun but Liz was too uptight to just relax and enjoy. "Great," Tess said aloud, unmindful of Liz's feelings, "I'm stuck in the party capital of the world with Liz Parker. If we're feeling dangerous we could challenge a couple of eight-year-old boys to foosball or go for the ice capades."
Liz had tried to keep her feelings of mistrust and dislike of Tess to herself, she had even tried to be a friend, but Tess' outburst made her angry. Liz had given up Max and her chance of happiness for Tess, and not only was Tess ungrateful but she was mean. It was because of Tess' selfishness that the world had ended in the first place and Liz uncharacteristically lashed out. "You know, for your information I didn't want to come to Vegas in the first place. I knew that this was going to be the most miserable trip of my life. I knew it. But I didn't listen to my instincts. And by the way Tess, I don't enjoy being stuck with you either."
Maria sighed as she rode up in the elevator between Max and Michael. Neither of them had said a word since they had left the jail, except a grunted 'Thanks' from Max, and she was tired of it.
"So," she started in a sunny tone, "you boys going back for the trial or are you hardened criminals going to skip-out on the bail?"
Michael snorted, "We gave them fake IDs. We're not going back. They're not gonna be looking for a couple of kids in New Mexico."
Max remained silent but his scowl deepened.
Maria was genuinely surprised. She had never seen them this mad at one another. "So do you want to tell me what happened?" she asked carefully.
Michael shook his head, "Nothing happened. Just two good friends getting slapped in jail after a night on the town."
Max stumbled into the cab in a state of shock because of what he had just seen. The vision of himself and Liz had seemed so real. He had never experienced anything like it.
He wondered how he could have seen it. He and Liz had noticed the ad for the Elvis wedding chapel just a few moments before, and he had to admit the thought had crossed his mind that under other circumstances he would have asked Liz to marry him. But he had never had a thought or a wish turn into a vision.
As the cab sped toward the airport the scene replayed in his mind over and over. The Max and Liz in the vision had been radiantly happy and even now he could still feel their joy.
He and Liz had been headed toward marriage if things had not gone so terribly wrong. A brief picture of Liz in bed with Kyle flashed through Max's mind but he quickly pushed it away. Maybe he had created the vision of the marriage himself because it was what he had wanted all along. Maybe it didn't matter that Liz had slept with Kyle to try and drive a wedge between them. Maybe he was ready to forgive her and try again.
Or maybe the vision was fate's way of telling him that it was time to give their relationship another chance.
He leaned forward to speak to the driver, "I've changed my mind. Take me back to the hotel."
The ride seemed to take forever but finally they arrived. Max sprinted to the door and across the lobby to the elevators.
He finally reached the door to the suite and used his powers to unlock it. He went into his room where he saw the suit that Maria had purchased for him, lying across the bed. Max shed his clothes and took a quick shower before donning the new suit. He used his powers to dry his hair and smooth the creases in the suit before heading back downstairs.
Max paused just inside the entrance of the elegant dining room and looked around for the group, but his eyes immediately lit on Liz. For a moment the breath was knocked from his lungs as he took in the full extent of her beauty. Her hair was pulled up off of her neck with only a few dark tendrils hanging loose brushing her shoulders. The rich red of her dress complimented her pale complexion and Max thought she had never looked so beautiful.
As Max crossed the room toward her, he was more convinced than ever that he and Liz belonged together, he could feel it in every fiber of his being. In the past few months their friendship had grown deeper and richer and they understood one another like no one else. Tonight he would take the first steps toward winning her back and even if it took the rest of his life, he would convince Liz that they should be together.
Episode - Viva Las Vegas
(Saturday, February 17th, 2001)
(Bali Hai Hotel and Casino - Presidential Suite)
Song Playing: Open Arms by Journey
Liz walked into her room and shut the door behind her. She spun around, making her dress twirl out around her. Even the Sheriff's lecture couldn't dampen her spirits because she had just spent the night dancing in Max's arms.
The evening had not started out as promising. Max had left to go home and Liz had been sitting alone at the table in the dining room, in one of the lowest moods of her life. But then Max had suddenly appeared before her.
He had not said a word when he reached out to her, but they had never needed words. Max had led her silently onto the dance floor and pulled her into his arms and Liz had not even thought of objecting. It was where she belonged.
When Max told her about his vision, Liz had been shocked. Max had described the one thing that had been upper-most in her mind all day, and for a moment she wondered if he had somehow read her mind. She had dismissed the thought a moment later, but it had only left her to wonder how he had gotten the vision.
Maybe somehow she had communicated it to him, or maybe the place itself had somehow retained the memory through time and space. Or maybe, Liz thought, it was fate's way of showing her that she really could be with Max.
For a moment she had faltered in her resolve never to tell Max the truth about what had happened with Kyle, the words almost tumbling out of her mouth. But then Maria's song had ended and Max had turned away from her and the moment had been lost. Liz had actually been relieved that she hadn't told Max the truth, but the possibility of a reunion with him had remained in her mind.
The feeling had grown stronger as she had passed the evening dancing with Max, and even stronger as she had witnessed Tess and Kyle together. Tess was truly one of the group now and Liz thought she had seen the beginnings of a special relationship between Tess and Kyle.
Liz had always hoped it might be possible for herself and Max to reunite in the future but the events of the evening made her think it might be sooner than she had ever imagined. Obviously Max had felt the same when they had danced. It had been like they were together again, a magical evening, neither one of them wanting to break the mood. The problems and circumstances that had been keeping them apart hadn't existed and they were free to just enjoy being together.
And no matter how much they wanted the evening to last forever, it had ended too soon. But Liz could still feel the magic and it gave her hope for the future.
(Thursday, March 22nd, 2001)
(The Valenti House)
Kyle took a seat next to his father at the table where he was going over the bills, and placed his keys on top of the pile.
"What's this?" Jim asked.
"My car keys."
Jim nodded, "Well I can see that, but what are you doing with them?"
"Dad, I know you said that we could get by on your unemployment pay and savings for a while, but I feel guilty every time I drive that car."
Jim started to speak but Kyle cut his off, "Let me finish, Dad. I love that car and it is the greatest sixteenth birthday present ever, but it's expensive, we can't afford it and I want you to sell it."
Jim picked up the keys and held them out to Kyle, "I gave you the car because I wanted you to have it. It'll be okay, Kyle. We're getting by. I know things look bad now but all of this will blow over in a few weeks and I'll get another job."
Kyle shook his head, "Until then, the money you save on the car payment will really help. I don't want you to spend all of your savings. Dad please."
Jim hesitated for a moment and then smiled. "Okay, Kyle if that's what you want."
(Episode - Off the Menu)
(Friday, April 13th, 2001)
(Roswell UFO Museum)
Brody put on the VR helmet and ran the simulation he had constructed of his home. "Computer, run abduction simulation one-point-five." He looked around the virtual site of his home and mused aloud, "All right, I was home, minding my own business. Suddenly I'm gone for three days. Where did I go? Computer, run simulation one-point-six."
The computer loaded the new simulation and Brody looked around and nodded his head, "Yes, something like this." He had constructed the room from flashes of memories he had received in his dreams, but this was the first time he had been inside it, the first time he had been able to see it in the correct perspective. He continued his thoughts aloud. "I remember being in a room like this, but, but this doesn't look very alien, more like a warehouse."
As he looked around, more flashes of memory came to him, "And there were other people here. Humans. Computer, add human forms to program, three male, three female." As the other forms materialized, his flashes of memory started to overlap the simulation, "Yes, I was here, doing something. I was talking!" he suddenly remembered.
"If I could just remember what I was..." he was cut off as the computer beeped a message - Memory disk full. Brody was glad he had spent a small fortune on the state-of-the-art system and he simply instructed the computer to use more of the hard-drive space as memory, "Override, continue simulation."
He became the virtual Brody sitting at the table. "Yes, I was sitting here and to my left I remember a boy." Suddenly he had a flash of a face overlapping the virtual body, and a name popped into his head, "Nicholas!"
He smiled, thrilled that he was remembering more, and he looked down to the other end of the table as he continued to speak, "And at the end of the table was..." Brody broke off as a face flashed into his memory, over the virtual man at the end of the table. "Oh, my god," he gasped, "Max! How could Max be in…"
He was cut off as a jolt of electricity shot through the helmet. He struggled to get it off but he was shocked again and again, and then there was nothing but darkness.
Tess parked her car in front of the UFO Museum and picked up the box with a smile. When she had seen the black sweater on sale, she had automatically thought how nice it would look on Max. In the past, she would never have considered getting it for him because she knew he wouldn't accept, but over the last few weeks she and Max had been hanging out more and becoming better friends and Tess had felt it was okay to follow her urge to buy it for him.
She could almost picture his reaction to the gift. He would say, 'You shouldn't have,' but he would be smiling at her with a gleam in his eyes that said exactly the opposite. And every time he wore the sweater, he would think of her.
Tess got out of the car and headed toward the door of the museum, but just as she reached for it, there was a power surge and then all of the lights went out. She looked around noting that all of the lights were out on the street and in the buildings, for as far as she could see. She shrugged and turned back to the door but when she pulled on the handle, the door was locked. She used her powers on the keypad to open the door and slipped inside, gently shutting it to leave the door ajar, so it wouldn't lock behind her.
She went down the steps carefully because it was very dark inside and she could barely see. She opened her mouth to call out, but a sound to her right drew her attention and she turned to investigate, hoping it was Max. A meeting in the dark would be very romantic.
It only took her a moment to see there was nothing behind the staircase but then she heard footsteps in the main room and peeked around the stairs. Max was standing at the fuse box and she called out as she approached him, "It's not a fuse, the lights are out all over town, the streetlights and everything." She gazed at his handsome face for a moment and then remembered the box, "Oh," she said, extending the box toward him, "this is for you."
Max's hands stayed at his side and he looked at Tess suspiciously, "What is it?"
Still immersed in her fantasy about his reaction, Tess didn't' hear the caution in Max's tone and continued playfully, "You have to open it to find out."
"What's the occasion?" Max asked.
Finally the truth penetrated Tess' delusion and she felt a wave of disappointment wash over her. After everything that had happened, Max still didn't trust her. She lashed out at him in frustration, "Does there have to be an occasion, Max? It's just a gift. You know, I saw a black sweater on sale, v-neck, and I thought of you. If you don't want it I can just give it to Kyle."
(Roswell UFO Museum)
Brody started to walk away from Max and Tess, and then suddenly he remembered. He turned back to them, excited, "That's it!"
"What?" Max asked.
"Dimaras rock," Brody said. "I couldn't remember before, but the name just came to me. Dimaras, after the third moon. That's where you two first met." The blank look on Max's face frustrated him, "You must remember? Dimaras rock, it juts out over the water." He savored the memory, "Ah, I can see it so clearly. The moon hanging over the horizon, and the color of the water, crimson red."
He focused on Max again, "I was there with you before you were King. We were swimming, and you looked up, and saw her on a rock. You said she was the most beautiful girl you'd ever seen. But of course you were too afraid to go talk to her. I offered to make the approach on your behalf, but you told me not to. Back then you were always so nervous and quiet. But lucky for you I was neither shy nor obedient. So I went and met her and introduced you two the same night."
"At a party," Tess said.
Max listened to Brody's story with growing discomfort. He didn't want to know anything about his past and when Tess seemed to confirm the story, Max went into instant denial. "That's a nice story," he said to Brody.
Brody was hurt and disappointed by Max's reaction, "It's not a story. It's the truth. Don't you remember? Please Zan, I have to know that what's in my head is real."
"I'm sorry, Brody," Max said quietly, "but none of that is real. None of that happened."
Brody only had scattered pieces of memories in his head, but he clearly remembered that night. He could also see a few memories of their past selves together, and then he had a flash of Zan in wedding finery. Brody shook his head. They had to be memories. He couldn't have just made it up. "But you do love her," Brody insisted, "I know you do. I was there when you met."
"You're wrong," Max said, more certain than ever. He had never loved Tess, he knew it in his heart. The thought of being with Tess just felt wrong. They didn't belong together and even if they had been married in their other life, he had not loved her. "We're not in love," he told Brody. "We never have been."
Michael started to rise from the table, "I'm outta here."
"No, wait," Liz protested, "we're still on duty. We don't close for another four hours."
"Come on Liz," Michael complained, "there's no power. There's no customers. There's nothing to do."
"But the power could come back any time," Liz argued.
Michael sighed, "I'm sure you can handle the dinner rush." He motioned to Isabel, "Come on, Iz, let's go get Max."
"Okay," Isabel agreed. She took a bite of the burger she had cooked with her powers and made a face because of the flavor. "You were right," she told Michael as she quickly swallowed. "This is really bad." She let the food on the table and followed Michael outside, "I've never noticed a bad taste before," Isabel said, "and I heat things that way all the time."
As they crossed the street Michael explained, "It's fine if you heat food with your powers but cooking meat from scratch makes it turn out really bad. It's like cooking meat in the microwave. It just doesn't taste right. I used to do it to Hank's food sometimes when he'd make me cook for him."
"But I've cooked things with my powers before," Isabel protested, and then became thoughtful, "I think."
Michael looked at her, "Yeah, right. You're a regular Betty Crocker."
(Roswell UFO Museum)
Tess watched as Max gazed at Liz across the room, and suddenly everything clicked into place. The way he had denied their past together, the reason he had rejected her gift. "You're still in love with her, aren't you?"
Max's eyes hardly left Liz. How did he describe to Tess what he didn't understand himself? What he felt for Liz was so much beyond a simple word like love, he didn't even know where to start. Liz was the other half of him, his friend, his soul mate. Without her he simply existed, but together they created a glorious spiritual harmony. Max shook his head and decided to go with the simple answer, "It's hard to describe what I feel for Liz."
"I know," Tess said, "It's what you and I used to have."
"Tess..." Max started to protest, but Tess cut him off.
"You know, everything Brody said is true," Tess asserted. "I know it is."
Max remained silent and Tess knew he was ignoring her. She supposed she should have seen it coming but she had been so certain Max was starting to turn to her. Of course she had seen Max dancing with Liz in Vegas but she had assumed it was just a friend thing but now she knew the truth.
"Hey," Sean greeted Liz with a smile.
"Hey," Liz answered.
"When this is all over do you wanna grab dinner?" he asked her.
Maria sighed, "How can you be wounded and on the make at the same time?"
Liz smiled, "Are you serious?"
Sean motioned to his wound, "I'm bleedin' here. Doesn't get much more serious than that."
"Yeah, let me think about it," Liz said.
"Hey," Maria objected, "aren't you involved with someone?"
Liz looked at Max and then turned her concentration back to Sean. There were things that were more urgent than the state of her relationship with Max. She checked under the cloth she was pressing to Sean’s wound, to see if the bleeding had stopped. There had been a lot of blood and everyone had assumed it was a bad wound, but as she examined it, Liz could see it was simply a short, shallow gash. "This really isn't that bad, you know," she told Sean.
Sean shrugged, "But we didn't know that at first and," he protested and then dropped the pretense and winked at her. "And it got your attention."
"Everything's fine," Max announced to the others, as he led Brody into the room, after healing him. "This is all just a big misunderstanding. Nothing happened down here today."
"My ass!" Sean said. "This guy needs to be put away."
"Sean," Liz chastised.
Sean looked at Liz, "Give me one reason why I wouldn't tell the cops."
Liz thought for a second, "Because I'll go out with you."
Sean smiled, "Okay. So, I fell down the stairs."
Liz looked at the blood on his shirt and reached for one of Amy's T-shirts, "Here, put this on."
As Sean took the shirt, Liz crossed to Max and whispered to him, "Don't worry about Sean, I'll take care of it."
Max waited until they were outside the museum and away from anyone who might overhear, before he confronted Tess. "So how long have you had the power to alter memories?"
Tess shrugged. "I don't really know, but I discovered it a few weeks ago," she lied. She had known about the power for almost six months but hadn't told Max or the others because she had though it might come in handy.
Max's eyes narrowed suspiciously, "How did you discover it?"
"I found out accidentally," Tess explained. "Mr. Larsen said he was going to give us a pop-quiz on the chapter he had assigned the night before, but I didn't read it and I started wishing that he would just forget he was going to give us a quiz. So class just kept going like normal and then the bell rang and he had forgotten to give us the quiz."
"That could have just been a coincidence," Max said.
"Yeah, I thought so too so I did a couple of experiments to make sure, and I found out that I could change people's memories. It's kinda like mind warping except I just think of what I want them to remember instead of what they really remember, but it takes a lot of my energy." She put her hand to her head, "Just changing one little thing can give me a headache for the rest of the day."
Max shook his head disapprovingly, "You can't just go around messing with people's minds."
(Episode - Off the Menu)
(Saturday, April 14th, 2001)
(The Valenti House)
Max stopped in front of Tess' window. He had been thinking all day about what had happened at the UFO museum and trying to decide what to do.
The images he had seen when he’d healed Brody had caught him completely off guard and he still didn't know how he felt about them.
Tess had told him months ago that she could help him recover memories of their other life but he’d never been interested. At first he hadn’t wanted to remember. He was afraid of what might happen if he remembered Tess in their other life, scared of what it might mean to his relationship with Liz. He was positive that he couldn't have loved Tess like he loved Liz, but he didn't want to remember anything about his past, especially if it involved his wife.
He was also afraid if he remembered his other life, it would somehow make him a different person. What he knew of Antar was like a bad dream and he was afraid if he remembered, his whole perception of his life would change. His world and his people would become real to him and helping them would mean leaving Earth and Liz, which was the last thing he wanted.
But when he’d healed Brody, Max had received flashes of Larek's memories of his other life, and instead of being all of the things he had feared, the memories seemed familiar, safe even. And for the first time, he was curious about what had happened on Antar, and thousands of questions flew through his mind.
As he looked through the open window, he could see Tess laying in her bed. She had the answers to all of his questions, and before he could change his mind he climbed through the window.
Tess sat up when she saw him. "Max? Max, what is it?" she asked anxiously. She knew something must be wrong. Max never approached her unless he needed her help.
Max sat down next to her. "Well, when I healed Brody, I saw these, these flashes, of Brody, of Larek, but also…" he trailed off, still unsure of revealing his memories to her.
Tess' heart was in her throat. What had Max seen in Larek's memories? What if Max had seen the truth about what had happened on Antar, and he was here to confront her about it? Tess was scared but she had to know. She concentrated on keeping her voice even. "But also what?" Tess prompted him.
Max looked at Tess, "I remember you."
Tess practically collapsed with relief and then her eyes filled with tears of joy. Max remembered her!
Max didn't know what he had expected, but Tess' tears made him ashamed that he had treated her so badly in the past and he reached up and gently brushed a tear from her cheek.
Tess smiled. Max obviously didn't remember the whole truth yet and she could use that to her advantage. She carefully gathered her power and started a mind warp on him. She could feel his own power just under the surface but his natural defenses were down and it was easy for her to slip past them.
She couldn't risk letting Max or the others going to Brody or Larek again, it would just be too dangerous because she didn't know how much Larek knew. She would have to do the same to Michael and Isabel later but she started with Max, placing a compulsion in his mind to avoid Brody and Larek. She used Max's own desire not to hurt people as the excuse for him to not contact Larek, reinforcing in his mind that Brody's heart had stopped the first time, and then today he had nearly been driven insane.
Then Tess placed the desire in Max to work on recovering his memories with her help. That way she could make sure he only remembered the things she wanted him to remember.
Her mind wandered back to yesterday evening. She had been so upset when she’d realized that Max's feelings for Liz had not diminished. Even after everything that had happened, he had been willing to sacrifice himself to save Liz. Tess had thought that she and Max had been growing closer but obviously she had just been fooling herself again.
When Brody had remembered that she and Max had originally met at a party, Max had not even been willing to listen and he had cavalierly denied their past together. Brody had only wanted Max to tell him he wasn't crazy, and all Max had to do was tell him it was the truth. But Max had been so adamant against even the possibility that they had been in love, that he completely discounted Brody's memories as fantasy.
Tess had been so shocked and disappointed by Max's reaction, that for minutes afterward, she had been unable to speak. She had been so excited that Brody shared one of her most precious memories because somehow it made it more real. But Max had shattered her happiness when he had instantly denied their past together, like he was positive it never could have happened.
But by helping Max recover his memories, she not only would have to spend a lot of time with him in intimate settings, but she could also use the sessions to get closer to him. She would use her powers to slowly turn Max away from Liz then Max would come to her and they would be together like they were meant to be.
(Sunday, April 15th, 2001)
(The Pizza Pan)
Song Playing: Nothing Compares to You by Sinead O'Connor
Liz glanced at Sean across the table from her. She had only agreed to the date with him to protect Max but she still felt guilty being there. She knew Sean liked her and it felt dishonest accepting a date with him just to buy his slience.
Liz had anticipated the question and was ready with an answer. "There's nothing wrong with him, Sean. He just has a little, um, mental disorder, but he's fine as long as he takes his medication."
"He wasn't fine the other night," Sean pointed out.
Liz shook her head, "He took some cold medicine and it reacted with his, um, other medication and he had some hallucinations. He really is a good person, Sean. Thanks for not saying anything about what happened."
Sean shrugged, "I understand that people can do stupid things and they deserve another chance."
Liz smiled, "That wouldn't be from personal experience, would it?"
"Yeah, there are definitely things I would do differently." He lowered his eyes to his glass, "My parents won't even speak to me."
"Is that why you wanted to stay with Amy and Maria?" Liz asked.
"Yeah," Sean said. "When I got sent to juvie, my parents said they didn't want anything to do with me anymore. My dad said I was a black sheep just like his brother, Maria's father."
"That must have been terrible," Liz said, concerned. "So what are you going to do?"
"Well, part of my parole is that I have to get my high school equivalency, since I just turned eighteen. If I can do that and show my parents I’ve really reformed, maybe they'll change their minds about me."
"And have you reformed?" Liz asked.
Sean winked at her, "I'm a regular choir-boy, Parker."
(Episode - Heart of Mine)
(Wednesday - April 25th, 2001)
(West Roswell High School)
"So you actually remember our planet?" Michael asked.
"Yes," Max said.
Michael couldn't believe how fast it had happened. Max had only been working with Tess for a few days and already he had started to remember. Michael asked the first question that came into his mind to distract Max from his unease, "What are the chicks like?"
Max sighed, disappointed that Michael wasn't excited about his breakthrough. "If you're not going to take this seriously..."
Michael cut him off, "I seriously wanna know what the chicks are like."
Max shook his head, "It's not that literal, they're just these images. In one way I have this, this really clear feeling about everything. In another way everything seems so ephemeral." He noticed the confused look on Michael's face, "You know, uh..."
"... transient, fleeting, impermanent," Michael finished for him. "I know what ephemeral means Maxwell. It's my life." He was glad Max had misinterpreted the reason for the strange look on his face. Trying to explain to Max why he didn't want to remember their other life was just not something he wanted to do now.
Max continued, "Michael, I remember everyone. You, Isabel..." Max let his sentence trail off as he caught sight of Tess with Kyle. "For some reason Tess is the clearest."
Michael watched Max walk away and felt a shiver of dread race down his spine. He had feigned interest in Max's recovered memories to stop Max from discovering the truth. Max was so into recovering his memories, and Michael knew Max wouldn't understand his apprensions.
When Tess had originally told him last summer, that she could help him remember the past, Michael had been eager to do it. Tess had said he would need to be able to control his powers more before he would be able to remember anything from his other life, and Michael had worked diligently to gain control. But as time passed, Michael began to have doubts. Did he really want to remember what had happened in his other life? What if remembering the past made him a different person?
Each time Tess had asked him if he was ready to try, he had postponed the lessons with one lame excuse after another, and now he was more certain than ever that he didn't want to remember his other life at all.
Song Playing: Broken Wings by Mr. Mister
Max had been looking for Liz everywhere and he finally saw her sitting at a table. He approached with the sense of excitement building. “Hey.”
“Oh, hey,” Liz greeted him warmly.
Max jumped right in, wanting his best friend to share his news. “There's a, there's something I've been wanting to tell you. “
“Yeah?” Liz asked.
They were distracted by a couple at a nearby table, and suddenly Liz was disappointed. “The prom.”
“Yeah,” Max agreed.
Liz shrugged, “Yeah, it seems like Michael and Maria aren't going.”
Max smiled, “Well, I, I think that one might be a little too early to call.”
Liz smiled sadly, thinking of all the plans she had envisioned. “It's really weird, you know. A year ago I was so certain that the four of us would go together. I always pictured that moment, you know, walking in through those double doors together. I even bought a dress.”
“You did?” Max asked surprised.
“Yeah,” Liz admitted. “Well, you know it was around that time last year when we first kissed and everything seemed so...” she trailed off, remembering the reasons they weren’t together.
And Max finished her sentence, “Simpler.”
“Yeah,” Liz nodded. “Max, I know that we're not seeing each other and I accept that, I do. But, um, this is my prom, you know, it really means a lot to me. I, I've put a lot of thought into it.”
Max listened to her heartfelt words with growing excitement. The Prom could be just the thing to rekindle the romance between them. He tried to act casual, so he didn’t scare Liz off as he blandly made the suggestion. “Well, you know, we can go.”
“We can?” Liz asked, the excitement building within her as well. She had never even dared to hope Max might ask her, and now that he had she felt optimistic about their future for the first time.
“Yeah,” Max agreed enthusiastically and then tried to calm down as he offered his explanation. “I mean, okay, fine, we're not together, but we're also not with anyone else.”
“Right,” Liz agreed, somewhat disappointed. She had hoped that Max wanted to begin their relationship again too, but they had to start somewhere and going out as friends was a good place. “I, I mean it doesn't have to be some life changing thing. It can just, you know, we can just go and have a good time.”
Max smiled, “I would love that.”
“Me too,” Liz said dreamily, and then remembered Max had wanted to talk to her. “Oh, um, so was there something that you wanted to tell me.”
Max was so wrapped up in taking Liz to the Prom that he had nearly forgotten his real reason for coming to her. “Right. I'm starting to remember things, about my planet, my life. My other life.”
Liz could see Max’s excitement. “Wow.”
“Yeah, yeah, it's, it's weird. Like, for the first time, I can remember things. You know, like what it smelled like, what it felt like to be there.”
“Yeah, that, that's great,” Liz agreed, even though inside she suddenly felt her hope deflate. Since they had discovered the truth about Max and the others, Liz had been terrified Max would remember his love for his otherworldly wife, and now that he was regaining his memories it only seemed like a matter of time.
“Yeah,” Max continued, “I've been dying to tell you.”
“Yeah, yeah, that, that, that must be really exciting,” Liz stuttered, trying to cover her shock. “Wow, so um, do you remember like actual people, you know, like Michael and Isabel?”
“Yeah, more like their energy than what anyone actually looks like,” Max said.
Liz nodded and asked the question she especially wanted answered, “Right. What about Tess?”
“Yeah, I remember her too,”
“That's great,” Liz intoned.
Max was oblivious to her discomfort, already too caught up in the plans for the Prom. It would be the perfect opportunity to put the past behind them and rekindle their relationship. He smiled, thinking ahead. He would show Liz they belonged together and then nothing would come between them ever again.
(Episode - Heart of Mine)
(Thursday, April 26th, 2001)
(The Valenti House)
A knock at her door caused Tess to look up from her homework, "Oh Kyle, hey."
"Hey," Kyle answered nervously.
"What's up?" Tess asked.
"Last year," Kyle started, "I went to the prom with Trudy MacIntire."
"Oh Trudy, she's cute" Tess said, not really sure where Kyle's conversation was going.
"Yeah," Kyle continued, "and so we went, and everything was okay, but I didn't really know her, uh, so we didn't really have much to talk about, much to say to each other. And so I realized that I feel like I really know you. Which is unusual for me with girls and uh, anyway, I just..." he broke off and then started again. "Feel free to say no, or laugh or be outraged or whatever, but would you, want to go to the prom? You know, with me?"
Halfway through his speech Tess had guessed what Kyle was doing. She had realized some time ago that Kyle had feelings for her, but she didn't know they had progressed so far. Her first thought was to mind warp him into forgetting the invitation but suddenly it seemed important to her that she go to the dance. After all, she reasoned, it might be the only chance she would have to go to a high school dance and she could make sure that Max found out she wasn't just sitting around waiting for him. Tess smiled, "You know, I'd really like that Kyle."
"Oh," Kyle said, somewhat surprised by her answer.
"Thank you," Tess said as she started the mind warp on him. It was okay to go to the dance with Kyle but she couldn't have him liking her too much, it might get in the way of her campaign to get Max. She pushed her power into his mind, carefully morphing Kyle's feelings for her into a brotherly affection.
Liz had felt her world falling apart since Max had told her he remembered Tess. Even though she and Max hadn't been together, they still loved one another and Liz had held on to her hope that someday they would be able to reunite, but now Max was remembering Tess, and Liz had her first doubts. If Max remembered loving Tess maybe he would decide to be with her.
Liz sighed as she looked at Maria next to her in the car. Even though she and Max were having problems, Liz knew Michael loved Maria. And despite the evidence that Michael was seeing another woman, Liz knew there had to be another explanation. She spoke her feelings aloud as Maria looked through the binoculars, "I cannot believe that Michael is seeing another woman, I just, I won't. I..."
Maria cut her off, "Snap out of it sister. Juanita," she pointed to the house, "Home wrecker!"
Liz continued, "I can't believe what is going on with you and Michael and me and Max."
Maria looked at her, puzzled, "Liz, what are you talking about? You and Max are going to the prom."
Liz wasn't sure how to explain it to Maria. "I don't know, I just feel Max and I are going in two different directions, like, it's like we're not able to just separate." She shrugged, "Makes you realize how, like, easy things change, because people meet other people. I could meet another guy or Max could meet another girl, and..."
Maria cut her off, "Or Michael could meet another woman."
(The Evans House – Max’s Room)
"Okay," Tess said, "just think about everything that you remember. What did it look like? Feel like? Smell like?" She could see that Max was distracted, "You're not concentrating."
"Yes I am," Max said automatically.
Tess shook her head, "Something's getting in your way. What's going on with you?"
"Actually," Max admitted, "there is something I should probably tell you. Liz and I are going to the prom."
Even though Tess was burning with rage inside she hid it well, and tried to concentrate on the big picture. "So?” she asked casually. “Max, I don't care about that stuff," she said with a shrug. "That's not what's important here. This is what's important and we can do it. Let's try again."
Tess took a deep breath and concentrated on the memory recovery. The sooner Max remembered what they had together, the sooner he would want her back. And if that didn't work, she could always mind warp him.
Song Playing: Blurry by Puddle of Mudd
Liz walked down the street, uncaring of where she went. When she had seen Max hugging Tess, she felt like she had been kicked in the stomach. It was her worst nightmare come true. Max had remembered Tess and obviously he had decided to be with her.
Liz felt a hysterical laugh rise up in her throat as she realized she was experiencing the same type of pain that Max had experienced when he had seen herself and Kyle in bed.
Since returning from Vegas, Liz had seen a lot of Max and she thought they were growing closer, but after the night Brody had taken them hostage, she’d felt a subtle difference in Max. It was like he was pulling away from her, detaching emotionally. And now that she'd seen Max with Tess, it all made sense. Whether he knew it or not, Max must be remembering his feelings for his former wife.
Ever since they had heard the message in the pod chamber, Liz had been afraid something like this might happen, but she had pushed her fear to the back of her mind. She had thought the past didn't matter, that the love she and Max shared was strong enough to overcome any challenges. But now she was beginning to wonder if she had been foolish to hope for a future with Max.
Suddenly she saw someone in front of her and she stopped when she recognized Sean, "You are like ubiquitous."
Sean smiled, "I think I might've figured something out about you, Parker."
Liz felt like her head was going to explode and the last thing she wanted was a philosophical debate, "You know what? I'm not interested."
"It might fix your problem," Sean pressed.
"Who says that I have a problem?" Liz asked, desperate to get away.
Sean motioned to her obviously agitated state, "Well, look at you. You look like you're about to puke, at the very least."
The churning mass of feelings inside Liz suddenly burst, "Hey, do you know what? I do not need this right now, okay? I do not want to hear any more of your stupid, inane comments. I do not want to hear any more of your little theories on life. And I do not wanna write my frickin' name in mustard okay? My life is falling apart!"
Sean could see Liz was really hurting and it didn’t take a genius to guess the cause. "You wanna go somewhere?" he asked softly.
Sean's calm demeanor in the face of her hysteria was somehow soothing and the last thing Liz wanted to do was go home, she was too wired. She studied him briefly, before making up her mind. Maybe some time with away from Max and the alien mess, was just what she needed. "Yes."
(The Evans House - Max's bedroom)
"What else do you remember?" Tess asked.
Max concentrated on the images, trying to bring them into focus. "Three moons, burnt orange, no clouds, very surreal, like a painting."
"What else?" Tess prompted, as she planted images in his mind.
The scene Max described to Tess was followed by another set of images. He was sitting with a woman. He couldn't really see her, but he recognized her energy somehow, it was Tess. They were at a party and they slowly moved together and kissed. Max felt confused and shook his head trying to clear it of the images. He didn't want to remember Tess like that, it seemed wrong. He opened his eyes and got off the bed, "I need a break."
"It takes time," Tess said. "You know, everything's blurry at first, but eventually, the images just get clearer and clearer."
"How clear are your memories?" Max asked.
"Most are still blurry," Tess admitted, "but a few, a few are clearer and more real to me than anything here in this world."
"Do you remember me?" Max asked apprehensively.
"Yeah," Tess said.
"What was I like?"
Tess smiled and used the opportunity to place a another suggestion in Max’s mind . "I remember when you used to reach over and touch me in the middle of the night and when you used to hold me."
Tess' words made Max uncomfortable and suddenly he didn't want her around. "I'm getting pretty tired. Maybe we can continue another time."
(Episode - Heart of Mine)
(Friday, April 27th, 2001)
Song Playing: Take My Breath Away by Berlin
Liz entered the dining room just as Max came through the front door and she stopped in surprise. She had never seen Max look so handsome as he did in his tux. And when Max looked at her, she felt her heart jump.
Suddenly all of her pain and fears were gone. She and Max loved one another and nothing else mattered.
They slowly walked toward one another and stopped with only a few inches separating them.
Remembering the wonderful evening they had spent together in Las Vegas, Max anticipated their reunion tonight. He had dreamed about this night since he and Liz had decided to go. He'd wanted to ask Liz to the prom but he'd been afraid of moving too quickly and scaring her off. So when she'd brought it up, he had been thrilled.
"You look beautiful," Max said softly, almost reverently.
"Thank you. You look very nice too." Liz was reluctant to break the mood but she had to. "Um, you know, Maria's all alone tonight so is it okay if she hangs out with us?"
"Of course," Max said automatically.
As Amy gathered the group together for the photo, a strange feeling started in Liz's stomach and tendrils of fear crept up her spine. She covered her apprehension with smiles, but inside the feeling of dread was growing.
Sean took a couple of pictures and then Liz's mother and father took a few with their camera, of the group and then of just herself and Max. Finally they all climbed into the cars and headed toward the prom. And the whole time, Liz's feeling of foreboding and finality increased.
(West Roswell High School)
As Liz danced in Max's arms, she remembered Max and Tess together in his room and all of her fears came flooding back. She tried to push the thoughts from her mind and concentrate on having a good time, but they grew and grew until they overshadowed everything else and she felt like her head would burst.
Finally she couldn't stand it anymore. "Max, I just want to say that I feel really weird."
"What do you mean?" Max asked with genuine confusion.
Liz tried to swallow the sudden lump in her throat. "I mean I saw you with Tess," she said in a strangled voice.
"Saw me what with Tess?" Max asked, not sure what she meant.
"I saw you with her," Liz asserted. "I came by your house yesterday to talk to you about something and you were with her."
Suddenly Max could feel Liz slipping away from him and he hurried to explain, "We were just trying to find out things about where I came from, that's all."
"I know, I know, I mean, you know, you keep saying that but you um, keep on leaving out this really pertinent fact, that you were married to her." She looked at him and took a deep breath, needing to express to him how she felt, "I feel like my whole life for the past year has been waiting for some really bad news. 'Oh, you know, by the way Liz, I remember Tess, and I love her.' It's really paralyzing."
Max's mind desperately raced for a way to hang on to Liz as he tried to reassure her, ""I know it's not easy."
Liz could hear Sean's words echoing in her mind.
You're not getting what you need from him, are you? You're suffocating Liz.
And suddenly everything became clear to her. The solution wasn't what she wanted, but maybe it was their only choice. "No Max,” she said, answering him, “it can be. It can be really, really easy. You know, we should both just stop pretending."
Max felt his heart drop, "What do you mean?"
"You know, maybe we're both just holding on to something that'll never be. Max, maybe we should just let go." Liz looked into his eyes and saw the pain she was experiencing echoed there, "I have been in so much pain, this whole year and it's like I'm suffocating."
"Liz," Max started, desperate to hold onto her, but the pain he saw in her eyes slashed through him like a knife. No matter how much he loved her, no matter how much he felt they belonged together, if Liz really didn't want to be with him, he would have to let her go. For now.
Through her pain, Liz saw Maria standing alone and her heart went out to her friend, her own pain making her even more sensitive. "Um, I should go, you know, for Maria."
"Right," Max said woodenly.
"She's all alone tonight," Liz reminded him.
"Go ahead," Max said softly, even though it was killing him.
"Max," Liz said, in a strangled tone.
As much as Max wanted Liz, he couldn't be the one to cause her pain. He had to let her go. "Go ahead," Max said with a stronger voice.
Kyle pulled Tess into the janitor's closet and she wondered if her mind warp had worn off.
"Um, Tess," Kyle started, "uh you, you're, you're beautiful."
"Kyle, please don't say that," Tess said, hoping he didn't make a scene.
Kyle continued as if she hadn't spoken, "And the thing is, you're not just some girl. I care about you."
"Kyle, I don't, I just..." Tess started, but Kyle cut her off.
"I think of you as family, as a sister. I don't' think it could be a romantic thing."
"I understand," Tess sighed with relief. You know I'm disappointed, but I understand."
Liz's heart was breaking and she felt as if her head would burst. She had to accept that she would not be with Max and she had to get on with her life, but it wouldn't be easy for either of them. Liz was on the edge of hysteria, desperate for any release, and she threw her body around to the music somehow hoping it would ease her pain. The rhythm of the music pounded through her and her frantic actions allowed her to briefly escape the crushing weight of her decision.
Suddenly Liz noticed that Maria had stopped dancing and looked over and saw Michael. He was dressed in a suit and had obviously come for the dance. Liz smiled sadly, glad the evening had turned out well for her friend. "Okay, go."
"No, no, me and you, we're a couple now," Maria said.
Liz pushed Maria toward Michael, "Go."
Tess sat down beside Max on the bench, "You look sad."
"I think it's really over," Max said.
"You mean with Liz," Tess said, not really surprised. She had been subtly using her powers on him for a couple of weeks. It was about time he dumped Liz.
"Yeah," Max said. He had never wanted to believe it was actually over between them, even after everything that had happened. And it had seemed like they were getting closer again but suddenly it was over. "I mean, I realize that, I guess on some level that things were headed in that direction. I think it's really actually over."
When Tess didn't respond he continued, "I remembered something else. I don't know how to feel about it."
"What do you remember?" Tess asked.
"Our first kiss." He explained, "It was at a party, late at night. And you..."
Tess smiled. This was the perfect opportunity and she couldn't let it slip through her fingers. She started a mind warp, drawing Max to her, and took over with the story. "I, I leaned in, and whispered in your ear and then you touched my cheek."
Max reached out to her. He felt so strange, like he wasn't controlling his actions and suddenly he wanted nothing more than to kiss Tess. "And then we just..."
Their words stopped as their lips met and Max was lost in the conflicting emotions swirling through his head. The kiss seemed to go on and on. Max was aware of sounds around them, running footsteps and a slamming door, but nothing else seemed to matter.
Finally Max drew back from Tess and looked into her happy, shining face and knew what he had done was wrong. He smiled at her briefly and looked away. He loved Liz. Even if they weren’t together, he loved her. He had never felt that way about Tess and the kiss they had shared simply reinforced the feeling. Kissing Tess was wrong somehow, Max felt it in his gut.
When he and Liz kissed it was explosive but comfortable, familiar, and he had never wondered if he wanted to kiss Liz, the compulsion was always there.
Max glanced over his shoulder toward the gym where he had left Liz and thought about what a total jerk he had been, kissing Tess when he had brought Liz to the dance. And now he had to extricate himself from Tess and take Liz home.
He turned back to Tess, “Um, Kyle will probably be wondering where you are and I need to take Liz home.”
Tess nodded, smiling. She finally had Max where she wanted him, she could allow him to be a gentleman and take his date home. They had their whole lives ahead of them, “Okay Max, we’ll talk later.”
“Yeah,” Max said. “Good night, Tess.”
He went into the gym and glanced around for Liz, but after a few moments and he didn’t see her, he approached Michael and Maria. “Where’s Liz?”
Maria excused herself from Michael and dragged Max a few feet away. “I don’t know what happened between you Max, but Liz called me a few minutes ago. She was really upset and she said she went home.”
“Home?” Max asked. “How did she get home so fast? Did she get a ride?”
Maria shrugged, “I don’t know, she didn’t say.” Maria saw the pained expression on Max’s face, “What happened, Max? You were both so happy, and I thought that maybe…”
Max grimaced, “I thought so too, but Liz told me how much she’s been hurting and she asked me to let her go.” Max shook his head, fighting back tears and spoke in a whisper, “I had to let her go, Maria.”
Maria nodded, “I’m sorry, Max. I really am.”
“Thanks, Maria,” Max said softly. “You’ll make sure Liz is okay?”
“Yeah,” Maria said, as she touched his arm, “but who’s going to make sure you’re okay?”
BOOK 9 - VERISIMILITUDE|
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