He didn't move a muscle, his eyes not diverting from mine, as he slowly started, "There was a fir-"
I flushed with anger. He was really going to do that? After everything, "You're going to lie to me?"
He tensed, his jaw muscles contracting, and seemed to consider actually sticking to that lie, before he looked at me closely and said, "She died from exhaustion."
I blinked. "Exhaustion?" Was he kidding me?
A muscle next to his eye twitched and he sounded offended as he added, "It's a thing, you know."
"Not if you're not suffering from insomnia," I countered, pretty sure that my mom had slept during the nights.
But still, I couldn't completely abolish the idea that Max might be onto something. Mom had been incredibly exhausted those last couple of days. And come to think of it, she'd had sporadic periods of extreme fatigue in the past.
It still didn't explain anything, though.
"But very much so if someone is feeding off you." His voice was eerily calm and collected, his eyes scanning my face constantly, probably gauging my reaction.
Had he ever told an outsider, like me, anything like this? Would he get in trouble for telling me? A memory of Max gingerly walking the streets at night, after a run-in with Sgt. Carter, flashed through my mind and I shivered.
But maybe I had finally got him talking. I needed to know these things. I needed answers.
I would protect what he was telling me with my life, if it meant keeping him safe.
The thought surprised me, but Max interrupted my train of thought before I had a chance to mull it over further. I hadn't even had time to consider what he had just told me. It was too weird, too confusing, to even start to think about.
"Feeding off your energy," Max clarified, insecurity in his eyes. My silence was probably worrying him.
"Like a vampire?" I gulped.
A small smile twitched in the corner of his mouth and he nodded. "Something like that."
"How?" I demanded. "Tell me everything."
He hesitated, his eyes ducking away, his body slumping forward as his shoe traced the edge of my carpet.
"Why my mom?" I prodded. "What was it about her? Why her energy? Or was it just a coincidence? Her being at the wrong place at the wrong time?"
He looked up again, slowly licked his lips (I had to consciously tell myself to not stare), before straightening and running his hands through his hair. "There's a gene. A human gene. We've estimated that approximately 0.002% of the human population carry it. But we're still working on the statistics."
As he grew silent, I swallowed, and guessed, "And my mom had it?"
"It's a sex-linked gene-" Max started.
I frowned, interrupting, "So it's carried on either the Y- or the X-chromosome?"
He looked impressed for a second, before he seemed to remember that I had actually attended Advanced Placement in Biology. "Yeah. In this case, it's carried on the X-chromosome. We have been able to deduce that one of the alleles within the gene on the one X-chromosome undergoes X-inactivation, meaning that-"
My head was spinning. I might be smart. Smarter than most students attending Roswell High, but I wasn't particularly sharp in the middle of the night, after a traumatizing nightmare and seated across a beautiful boy - whom I had developed a romantic interest for and who might not be of this earth- wearing only a thin T-shirt.
I put my hands up. "Wait wait." His mouth froze in the middle of the sentence. "Sorry," I blinked. "You can go through that with me later. Right now I just need to know what all that means. In layman's terms, please."
I could tell that he wanted to smirk at me, but he railed it in at the last second, instead simply summing it up by, "It means that even though there is 0.002% of the human population carrying this gene, only females can express it. Of course, in the rare case that a male has two X-chromosomes plus a Y-chromosome-"
I put my hands up again to stop him from getting off track. "Okay, okay." I exhaled. "Man, first you tell me absolutely nothing and now you tell me every single detail. You really need to find a middle ground."
He gave me a sheepish smile. "Sorry." He straightened. "So, fundamentally, your maternal grandmother expressed this gene. So did your mom." He looked straight into my eyes and finished quietly, "And so do you."
That's why we were special.
My voice barely carried as I whispered, "And what does this gene do?"
He looked at me for a long second, making me grow warmer in my meager clothing - hidden underneath the duvet - before he pushed off the desk and crossed the floor to my bedroom door.
I followed his movement with confused eyes. Where was he going now?
But instead of questioning it, I remained silent as I watched him quietly open the door, peer outside for about four quiet seconds, before shutting the door again.
I raised a questioning eyebrow as I understood what he was doing, and asked sarcastically, "All clear?"
He gave me a crooked smile as he looked back at me. "He's fast asleep."
So... "My dad is not...?"
Max, hesitantly, sank down on short end of my bed, putting as much distance between us as the bed would allow. "Not the least interesting to us, no."
"Huh," I breathed, hugging myself around the middle to fight off the sudden chill.
Aliens had an interest in my mom and me. We had something they needed, something they exploited.
"What does the gene do?" I whispered, repeating my question.
"There's something else I need to explain first," Max said, fiddling with the end of my duvet.
"Okay," I whispered apprehensively.
Keeping his eyes away from me, Max brought me into his world, "Just as you've already figured out; we're not from Earth. We've barely been here for four generations."
I swallowed, not finding any words, not wanting to interrupt him.
"We don't really look like humans in our true form-"
I felt the blood drain from my face as all movies featuring aliens I had ever seen flashed through my head. Everything from frightening crawling monsters with five legs to children-sized gray creatures with large black eyes and no mouth.
He wouldn't look at me and I, for once, was glad. I wasn't sure how I would react if I saw his face right now.
What did Max Evans really look like?
"-or-," he continued, "my grandparents didn't."
"Your mom..." I breathed, staring at his profile.
He almost seemed...scared. Curling further in on himself as he was gradually angling his body away from mine.
"She's human," he explained, supporting what my research into the topic had already implied, before his eyes snapped up at me.
I stilled, captured in his gaze. Those eyes, where light normally would pull out flickers of gold, were dark and glistening. He looked the epitome of a scared little boy, not knowing if I was going to yell at him, walk away or accept him. His expression tugged on my heart strings, making me want to close the distance he had put between us and assure him that I didn't care if he was human or not.
But... I took a deep shuddering breath. To be honest, I did. The idea of him looking different, of me not even seeing the real Max Evans right now, scared me more than I wanted to admit. It was like sitting in front of a stranger.
"You're a mix," I stated, my voice much calmer than I felt. "Um...a hybrid."
He nodded, his eyes still on my face, barely blinking.
"So you're at least 50% human," I added, a sliver of hope in my voice.
His eyes darkened further and a tad of anger had crept into his voice as he asked bitterly, "You're wondering what I really look like, don't you?"
I restrained the involuntary shiver and after a moment of hesitation, I nodded slowly.
He remained motionless for another four long seconds before he dropped his head, breaking our eye contact, and whispered, "This is it. This is me."
A force of relief weaved through me, rocking me in my place. "You mean...?" My voice broke with hope and he looked up again with seriousness.
"Apparently the human phenotypes are stronger than my alien ones."
I closed my eyes, unconsciously breathing a "Thank God", before opening my eyes again and looking over at my extraterrestrial nightly visitor, who was watching me for my every reaction.
"But your dad..."
"He can change his appearance," Max filled in.
My eyes widened. This was crazy. This whole thing was crazy.
My voice was small as I asked, "How?"
Max shrugged with disinterest, "It's a simple manner of manipulating cells, tissues."
"'Simple'..." I mumbled, almost laughing. My body felt like it needed to laugh. To cry. To scream. Just something except this forced hushed talk. I needed to break the tension.
"Liz," he called softly, asking for me to look at him. As he got my attention, he asked, "You okay?"
"Just a bit-," I smiled ruefully, "-overwhelmed."
"Yeah," he grimaced.
"You're expecting me to run out the door any second, aren't you?" I guessed.
He nodded silently, that tentative lope-sided grin back on his face.
My fingers itched to brush the hair off his forehead.
I forced the thought back.
"So this energy thing..." I prompted, referring back to why they would need to suck my mom dry of her energy. A wave of nausea moved through me at the thought.
"I'll get to that," Max whispered and diverted his eyes again. This time to picking at his nails. "Even though we - the hybrid descendants - look human - we have retained all of the mental alien abilities. Meaning that nothing is out of our mind's ability to control. If you practice, there's no limit to what you can do. Of course, there are certain abilities which are unique to certain individuals. We divide up our society based on those diverging abilities."
"Such as...?" I breathed, scooting closer to him.
He briefly glanced at my knee, hidden under the duvet, that was now two inches closer, before returning to picking his nails. "Healing, for one. It's an extremely rare ability. Therefore, the healers are protected and carry a certain position in society."
That's why he commanded respect, I thought. Why he could tell Sean off.
"Sean is one of you, right?"
Max stilled. "Yeah."
"What's his ability?"
Max glanced up at me, pouring his wariness from his eyes to mine for a second before dropping his eyes again and mumbling, "Sean is not a hybrid."
My heart stopped, the breath falling cold on my lips.
Not a hybrid.
"Oh my God," I whispered, putting my head into my hands, squeezing my eyes shut.
I kissed an alien!
"He's alien?" I gasped, the sound muffled by my hands.
"So am I," Max said in a quiet rejected tone.
I removed my hands, letting anger run through me. "No, it's not the same." I bit my lip as I saw his eyes flash to life. Something more than rejected sadness. "Does Sean even look like the person he portrays himself to be?"
"No," Max replied.
I shuddered. "What does he look like?"
"You don't want to know," Max said slowly.
I bit my lip harder. Yeah, maybe I didn't want to know.
I decided to let it go. For now. "What's his ability? His unique ability?"
Max shifted in his seat. "Mind control."
"So," I wet my dry lips, "That's what he was doing to me?"
Max looked nauseous. "And he's very strong, very good at it."
"That's why you didn't want me around him."
"Give the girl a prize," Max grumbled.
"So his parents are..."
"Both alien," Max filled in.
I looked down at my fingers, letting the silence stretch between us as I tried to take in all this information. So, some of the aliens married aliens, but others selected humans... Or the humans picked the aliens.
"Does your mom know?"
Max frowned. "That we're aliens? Of course she does."
"Did she... marry your father voluntarily?"
Max looked away, shoulders tensing, before he answered without conviction, "Of course she did."
That's a lie.
I closed my eyes. Poor Diane. I shivered. Was she a prisoner in her own life? "How did they meet?"
Max gave me an incredulous look. "You really want to talk about my parents' love life?"
Before I could filter my reactions, I glared at him, which to my surprise made him laugh quietly. His laughter and the way it produced small crinkles around his eyes, chased away some of the darkness which had started to settle inside of me.
"I'm just trying to get my head around this," I mumbled, curiously watching his profile as he looked down at his hands.
His hands. I wanted those hands closer. I wanted them to touch me, to bring heat back into my cold body.
"Take a picture; it'll last longer."
There was something wistful in his teasing tone, his eyes too intense to be nonchalant as he observed the blush creep up my cheeks.
Can you always read my thoughts?
No. Only when connected like this.
I relaxed into the assurance that Max couldn't possibly know that I had just pictured his very non-platonic touch on my body.
To cover up the slip of my desire, I grumbled, "You're such comic relief," doing my best to appear annoyed.
He laughed again, and a little bit more of the cold inside of me dissipated. I couldn't prevent the small smile from touching my lips at his response. Sadly, I realized that Max didn't laugh much. Sure, he did a lot of grinning and smirking. But I rarely saw him experience genuine fun.
Would I be laughing, had I been Max? I frowned. Probably not.
"That's new," Max said, sobering, and I wondered what he was thinking.
"You being funny?" I asked.
"Not really what I'm known for," he shrugged, the remnants of a smile lingering on his lips.
"Don't worry; it still needs practice," I assured him and his smile twitched. He was a lot more relaxed all of the sudden, and I wanted to hold onto that setting. I wanted him to experience some moments of happiness for once.
YOU ARE READING
Unbreakable - A Beautiful Lie · (Roswell Fanfiction) · √Fanfiction
I saw him right before Max did. When he did, his gasped "Fuck" magnified the jump of fear made by my body when I found myself standing merely two feet from an alien. His large bottomless black eyes were staring emptily into mine and I could see the...