His anxious order threw me for a spin. My questioning was understandably breathless, "What?"

"What?" Maria echoed, sounding demanding and irritated at my question about nothing.

Max ignored her, closing the door behind him and stepping in front of the lock with his hand behind his back. It was not rocket science to figure out what he was doing, locking us into the room with his powers. It was only a second later that he steered his steps towards me, still not looking at Maria.

A quick glance in her direction told me that this annoyed her more than anything else. She was the newcomer here. The one that needed answers. And the one person that might possess those answers was completely ignoring her.

Maria's life was threatened, Max explained.

"What?" I breathed and looked up into Max's emotional eyes as he stopped in front of me reaching out to slowly roll a strand of my hair between his fingers.

Maria was staring at us. I could only assume that she was finding more and more questions rather than answers.

That's why Michael brought her here.

I frowned, confusion fueling me with a mixture of irritation and a sense of feeling like I had missed something.

"Why would he make that decision?"

I knew why I would. But Michael was Michael. Michael barely protected the guy he was supposed to protect. He invited me and Maria to a dangerous party filled with aliens and he had never shown a tendency of warmth. Not to my knowledge, at least.

"I don't know," Max replied softly and I felt his own confusion now. But it was faint and brief in the pool of his fear that was easily, at our increased proximity, pulsating into me.

"What are you doing?" Maria interrupted.

For a second, I had forgotten that she was there. It didn't take me long to realize that I had spoken out loud while Max had spoken to me telepathically. Meaning that our conversation had not only been one-sided but it had made Maria incredibly suspicious.

Max didn't pay Maria any attention, his eyes still on me, as he let go of my hair and brushed his hand along the line of my jaw, making my body shiver in delight at that simple fleeting caress, before he turned away, took a sideway step and came to tower over Maria.

I opened my mouth to say something (without having a plan as to what), when Max beat me to it.

"Listen to me carefully." His voice was even and controlled. Stern even. Making Maria immediately straighten, her scowl falling off her face. "I'm sorry for what I'm about to say. I realize that this will come as a shock to you, but we don't have much time."

Maria stared at him silently, her face paling.

"You will see a lot of weird things during your stay with us, and it will all be explained eventually. For now, you need to know that Michael, my father, Isabel, Alex and I are all aliens. Extraterrestrials."

My chin slowly dropped, opening my mouth in a perplexed 'O', while I watched Maria react in the same exact way. His words might have caused Maria to laugh on any other occasion, but there was something about how Max said it. Something about the intensity of his stance, about the authority surrounding him, about the graveness to his voice, that made you not question a single word coming out of his mouth.

He would have been able to tell Maria that he was the Easter Bunny and she would have believed him.

"We are part of a secret society of aliens, having co-lived with humans since 1947, when our ships landed here. Some of us want to be integrated with humans and attempt to lead normal human lives. Others want to remain superior over humans, using humans any way they can to enhance their own race."

He paused, looking over at me. I swallowed at the intensity of his eyes, at the barely concealed emotions swirling in his pools of amber. I saw Maria's frightened look out of the corner of my eye as she turned to look at me as well.

She looked back at Max as soon as he let me go, the pause only lasting for one second. "Liz is one of those methods my race use to become stronger. She's, what we call, a gaea. So was her mom. So was her grandmother. According to my race, she is to be chronically harvested for her life energy. To sustain and support the growth of power of a chosen military man."

Maria had paled to the shade of a corpse and I could feel my heart beat slowly in my chilled body.

"From the age of six, she has been promised to Sean Carter."

I gasped, noticing the subtle flinch in Max's body at the sound. I hadn't known that. He had never told me that I was 'betrothed' at such a young age.

"During Liz's upbringing, she's been repeatedly tested on. Her blood has been taken by my father and her mind has been bent and erased by Sean. So that he could get to know her mind. I've been participating in these visits. My job..." For the first time since he had started this monologue of 'confessions', Max's voice wobbled and his guilt ripped through my abdomen, "My job was to heal Liz. So that I would grow familiar with both her body and mind. How she works. To be able to heal her quickly were she to be depleted of her life energy by Sean in the future."

I reached out and folded my fingers around his hand. Except the momentary wobble to his voice just now, his body language revealed nothing of the distress and anxiety I was drowning in, coming from him through the connection.

Maria's eyes fell silently to my hand as I laced my fingers with Max's. Her face was screaming with fear, her upper body unconsciously leaning away from us.

"When Liz was ready - physically and mentally - she was to have sex with Sean - voluntarily or not, to create the bond that would allow the energy to be transferred whenever Sean needed it. This is what happened to Liz's mother. That taking of energy weakened Nancy, made her sick beyond our healing abilities, and started to affect her mentally. She was.." Max hesitated, licking his lips, before adding, "...eliminated when it became clear that she was a threat to Liz." His words sliced sharply through my heart. "She was planning to kill Liz to save her daughter from a life serving aliens."

Maria inhaled sharply, blinking large eyes to me. I wanted to reach out and grab her hand with my free one. But the distance in her body language stopped me.

"Being bonded to Sean, feeding him energy, might have resulted in the same mental instability in Liz. If his 'borrowing' her energy didn't kill her first."

Max's hand was warm in mine. I focused on that warmth. Focused on the slow stroke of his thumb over the hill of the knuckle to my thumb. His words were pulling out all of the monsters. They were lining up all around me, baring their teeth and growling menacingly. Waiting to pounce as darkness was creeping around behind those monsters, pulling the shadows closer.

"Liz was fatally injured when trying to save her mother from their burning house. The fire that was set to conceal Nancy's already dead body." He paused before stating his personal secret. "I healed her."

The memory of what he had done to me made the monsters take a step back, made the space of light around my body briefly expand.

"I had to form a connection to her mind to heal her. I never broke it. I was supposed to. Instead I had acquired the connection to her mind that Sean had been after."

I could see Maria's mind working, trying to put the pieces together. It was not an easy puzzle to assemble. The facts were science fiction while fear was standing right in front of you, asking you to trust him.

"The connection protected her from Sean. At least, until our council found out what I had done."

His mouth set into a grim line as he said darkly - letting me know that he had heard our conversation, "Liz didn't say goodbye to you because she was being held captive at the hands of our leader. She was refused food. She was not allowed to sleep. She was beaten and mentally abused by both Sean and his father."

Max was squeezing my hand so tightly that it was taking everything inside of me not to let out any sounds of pain, but his face still revealed nothing of the boiling anger inside of him.

"Sean attempted to rape her on several occasions and she was saved only by her own strength."

And the connection, I added silently, making Max throw me a heated glance. 

He was still at war with the connection, apparently.

"Sean and his father are no longer alive."

I was grateful that he didn't tell Maria who was behind the death of those two.

The connection, Max readily corrected my guilt, but I could already feel the hot breath of the monsters breathing down my neck, nipping at my knees, brushing against my stiff back.

"But Command - our leader - wants to capture Liz and I to either use the strength of our connection as a weapon, or he aims to annihilate us altogether, to prevent his enemies from using us against him."

Maria was trembling now, looking ready to faint.

"Command - who can basically kill with a well-directed thought - is now after you."

I watched her break. I watched, millisecond by millisecond, Maria disintegrate into tiny pieces in front of me. I watched the trembles intensify, moving from her hands out into the rest of her body, before she stumbled to put her arms around her middle before her body would break in two.

"No..." Her voice was a faint imitation of a whisper. That broken barely there whisper was her first word since Max's words most likely had shifted her whole world view.

The darkness was closing in around me, closing in around Maria.

I swallowed back my own fear and whispered, "It's all true, Maria."

"Michael intercepted men who were about to break into your bedroom and he didn't want to waste any time on consulting us first," Max said, his voice gentle now. Careful. "He wanted to get you out of there as soon as possible."

Maria's lip trembled as she looked up at Max. "Why?"

Max hesitated. He obviously didn't want to give her the same answer he had just given me. That he had no idea why Michael suddenly had decided that Maria's life was worth saving. He couldn't tell Maria that. Maria needed more. Maria needed comfort.

"Because he's trying to do the right thing."

And just like that, Michael had - in my eyes - stepped out of the shadows and joined the light. But while my opinion of Michael had improved, whatever the reason behind his actions might be, my friend was slowly disappearing next to me.

"Liz," Max said gently, his eyes tracing Maria's face. "Go get Alex."

Maria's eyes snapped to my face and the first of her previously paralyzed tears rolled down her cheek as she with a trembling bottom lip, whispered fearfully, "You've got Alex too?"

I felt Max's eyes on my face as I failed to let Maria go with my own. "Now, Liz."

I inhaled sharply, as if sprung from a trance, and got off the bed.

"No," I heard Maria croak at my impending departure.

Max's voice was gentle, soothing as he mumbled, "It's okay."

But his consoling had no effect on my best friend.

"Liz!" she screamed after me and my own tears tumbled down my cheeks as I struggled painfully to ignore her, and left the room in search of Alex.

I wouldn't realize until later that in order to get out of the room, I had unconsciously unlocked the door which Max had previously sealed with his powers.

The lock that was basically password-protected with his genetic stamp.

*****

I found Alex in the common room.

Apparently, he had joined the rest of the group for the discussion about Maria's future role in this whole thing, while I had been in the bedroom with Maria.

Six pairs of eyes flew to my face as I stormed into the common room, and Alex's semi-controlled feelings slammed into me from across the room, making it easy for me to immediately pinpoint his location.

"Alex," I got out breathlessly, while Michael shot from his chair and barked, "What happened?!"

I ignored Michael. Sure, he might have just saved Maria's life, but I was far away from being anything remotely close to nice to him already.

Alex was already moving towards me as I hurriedly explained, "Max needs you, Alex."

He came up really close to me and grabbed my arm. His eyes were large and worried as he hovered over me. "How is she?"

Since we were a bit pressed for time, I dismissed his question with a shake of my head. "Let's go."

He gave me a brief nod, his eyes scanning my profile as I turned to head back the way I came from. His concern about the situation, about our mutual friend, hung heavily from his many unanswered questions.

His feelings were so heavy that I had to stop him a couple of feet outside of the room and sharply order him to, "Pull yourself together."

His eyes widened in surprise; I could even feel his shock at my order rolling off him in waves.

"I can feel everything you're feeling," I said, forcing my stressed voice to soften. I knew that he couldn't help it. He was worried sick about this whole situation. But he really couldn't let his own feelings feed into Maria's very real fear. "And Maria doesn't need to feel that. It'll make matters worse."

"Of course," Alex said thinly, the annoyance at himself for losing control brushing my emotions, before he pulled back and I was left with only my own - and Max's - feelings.

I took a deep breath, loosening the fists I hadn't been aware of tightly clenching.

Experiencing the emotional span of two people (Max and I) was overwhelming enough. Experiencing the emotions from three people was draining.

My body tightened with fear as I prepared myself for what I would see when I pushed the door open.

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