The next 18 hours would turn out to be the coldest of my existence. Not just because of the coldness I was indirectly experiencing through Max, but because of the guilt and the self-condemnation which was drowning me.

He was being tortured. Because of me. Because I had put myself in harm's way, leaving Max no other option but to intentionally break the laws of his alien community in order to save me.

I think this was the worst of his punishments. Earlier, he had 'only' been beaten. I had never felt the cold before, which made me fairly certain that this was a worse form of penance. Maybe they were getting fed up with Max breaking their rules. They obviously thought that the reprimands were not working, since he kept on repeating his 'mistakes'.

Or maybe it was because the crime had been more serious this time. What had Isabel said? That Max had jeopardized the secrecy of their community? But whatever the crime, did it justify torture?

Even under the weight of my comforter, three blankets, and four layers of clothing, I couldn't get warm and didn't get any sleep. There was no reason for me to go to school that morning. I would look ridiculous wearing so much clothing in the warm New Mexico air. That alone would most likely attract a lot of unwanted attention and raise questions I didn't feel like answering.

So, during the hours that Max was enduring his punishment and I was indirectly suffering along with him (stubbornly refusing to break the connection, even though it would obviously make my own existence much more pleasant), I made sure that all my windows were locked and checked the front door about twenty-three times. I busied myself with making my dad peanut-butter-and-jelly-sandwiches and curled up next to him on the couch in front of daytime television, cradling cups of steaming hot tea in my cold hands.

My dad didn't comment on me wearing winter clothing inside, or remark on the mittens I occasionally donned or the beanie that was flattening my hair. I think, in a way, he was just happy that I was spending the day with him.

As the day ran into the afternoon, Alex called.

He sounded relieved when I connected the call. "Oh good. You answered."

I squeezed my eyes closed at the implications of that relief, knowing that my evasive behavior since I had found out that he was not entirely human was a big reason as to why he was still wary around me.

"Of course, Alex," I said softly. You helped me find Max yesterday.

"Yeah." He managed to bake both guilt and insecurity into that one word. "I just wasn't sure, you know."

"I wouldn't have called you yesterday if I didn't trust you," I said quietly, closing the door to my room, climbing onto my unmade bed, ignoring the indirect pain in my abdomen, and settling in a cross-legged position as I balanced the phone between my ear and shoulder.

"We didn't really have a chance to talk before, because of the whole Max drama," Alex said with an air of apology, "but I assume that you're okay with me not being...entirely..."

"Human?" I filled in with incredulity.

"Yeah," he exhaled.

"That was never the issue," I said seriously, considered for a moment how honest I should be, before continuing, "You are one of my closest friends, Alex, and you never told me."

I almost heard him swallow on the other end of the line and his voice was barely audible as he said, "I know."

"I mean," I continued, being uncomfortable with his silence and not really feeling up to putting him too much on the spot, "I understand that it's, in a way, not really your secret to tell and that it's a really freaking big thing, but I would've kept your secret. I thought you knew me well enough to know that. It just hurts that you assumed that you couldn't share that with me."

Unbreakable - A Beautiful Lie · (Roswell Fanfiction) ·  √Read this story for FREE!