Disclaimer: Gees, would I love to own them?! But nope, you all know who the owners are, and certainly that doesn't include me. I'm just writing for fun But to make it official: The characters of "Roswell" belong to Jason Katims, Melinda Metz, WB, and UPN. They are not mine and no infringement is intended.
Category: AU - Max&Liz
Rating: T, for very occasional language and violence.
Summary: What if no shifters had survived the crash?
Life is predictable, comfortable and completely risk free for one Liz Parker, head of the biology molecular department in a small lab in Washington State. As far from Roswell and little green men as one could get. It's such a pity that trouble has found her in the form of Max Evans.
Life is full of invisible chains, a prison without walls for Max. He wants out, if only he can find the way to neutralize the drug that keeps him in check. Can he trust this doctor? Can he live with yet another person in his life looking at him as a thing and not a person?
AN: This story explores the idea of what could have happened if no shifters had survived the crash, meaning no pod chamber, no message from home, no Roswell as we know it. Yet a certain couple seems to be destined to find each other. Be aware that this is strictly a Max & Liz story, with no side couples. Sure, other characters from the show have important roles, but that's about it.
Many thanks to my betas, Michelle in LA and xilaj, who actually thought this was a good idea :)
Of Journals & Journeys
Journal entry 1, January 4th, 2011
Funny how I haven't had a Journal since my high school years, back when I was a small girl from a small town, right in the middle of nowhere. When life was predictable. When your dreams could come true with just enough hard work and the future was waiting to happen.
When life used to be so easy.
I didn't know that then. The plan I set for myself worked perfectly well, one which was colored with the reds and browns of falls in Boston, and the smiles and hugs of my parents and friends when I graduated from Harvard. I wasn't a small town girl anymore, and it didn't matter that I came from a small town, either. I had the world at my feet, even if it was only the world of molecular biology. My dream became true.
The thing nobody bothers to tell you about dreams, though, is that you have to be flexible about them.
I'd dreamed of being head of the molecular biology department, until I realized what exactly a head of a department does. And how long it takes to be one, especially at Harvard. When a small, yet promising research lab had an opening for me at the other side of the country, I took it without a second thought. I was going to be the head of a department, one way or another, no matter where or what size.
So here I am, a name plate on my door proudly displaying Elizabeth Parker, M.D., three technicians under my wing, and a boss-slash-owner I hardly see. Dream job any way you look at it, if you ask me.
Until just about an hour ago, things had been pleasant enough. Predictable enough. Organized in the way I like things, where problems get resolved no matter how big they are. Science has a way of reducing everything to the smallest pieces, allowing you to find answers. Sure, it takes time and leads to many disappointments, but the beauty of it is that, sooner or later, you'll get results. You'll get answers.
I guess that's why he chose me. It makes sense, really. I have the skills and the equipment and the privacy. And he has… I don't even have a name for what he has. While I look at what is under the microscope, all I know is that life is never going to be the same.
That suddenly, life is not going to be easy any more.
Friend or Foe
She was working late, as usual, but she didn't mind. Lab work was a solitary job most of the time and she found that soothing. Her mind could work in peace, her thoughts rarely straying from what she had in front of her.
Everything in this little corner of her world was white, silver, or black, the expensive equipment on the other three lab stations neatly cleaned out for the day. White light reflected from the chrome instruments and the white tiles on her own station, making everything look sharper, clinical, leaving everything outside her personal space in black shadows. Rows and rows of test tubes waited to be used, while brown colored bottles on the shelves were perfectly aligned in alphabetical order. She never noticed how quiet things got when she was alone, never had a second thought about the things that lurked in those shadows.
Never heard him coming, either.
"Good evening, Dr. Parker."
Liz turned her head so fast she almost fell from her stool. It wasn't the fact that it was a man's voice, or even a stranger's voice that made her react so violently. It was rather the subtle danger that was in the barely whispered four words, something beyond rational that triggered some ancient instinct to skip fight and go directly to flight.
Ten feet away in the doorframe, a man looked at her intently, barely moving a muscle, certainly not concerned about how badly he had startled her. Certainly knowing he had her cornered.
"I—I— Who are you?"
Her heart rammed in her chest, the adrenaline surge far from over. If his voice had not warned her, his honey-colored eyes certainly dared her to run and never look back. Under the harsh white light, those eyes looked older. Way older. She didn't notice the black leather jacket, or the dark jeans. She didn't notice he wore no tags which would have granted him access to the lab where she was. All she did notice were those eyes. Hard, angry at their depths.
He didn't want to be here.
She didn't want him to be here, either.
Breaking the spell, he walked in, furtively looking around the empty lab. She was the only one here, probably the only one on the entire floor, a fact that came rushing to the forefront of her mind as he came closer.
She swallowed hard, but she didn't take her eyes off him. She didn't like feeling trapped, but as long as she could read those hazel eyes, she felt like she knew what was coming. That she was still in control.
"I need your help." Those eyes didn't get softer, but Liz knew asking this was not only a big deal, it was also a carefully planned line.
"Help you… how?"
Three feet from her, he stopped. His eyes focused on the microscope she'd been using. She was not the only one tense in this room, she could tell that much.
"I need you to research… something for me."
Drugs. It was her first thought. He looked like someone who kept secrets. Someone involved in illegal stuff. What would it be? A meth lab? Something that would need a chemist? She didn't move. She never took her eyes off his.
"There's… something… running in my veins," he almost whispered, his eyes glued to the microscope as if it were the most fascinating thing in the world.
"I—I'm not the right type of doctor for…"
His eyes returned to hers, and her heart sunk. "No, you are the perfect doctor. For this."
She barely shook her head, swallowing once again. Fear was replaced with purpose in the depths of those eyes. "Graduated first in your class. You love science. You love quiet."
Her mouth became desert dry. He looked back at the microscope. She didn't dare to breathe.
"So you'll do it for the science, for I have the perfect project for you."
Project is not his favorite word, Liz fleetingly thought, noticing how his eyes had narrowed at that. She couldn't swallow anymore, but her mind had no problem guessing was being unsaid: or you'll do it to stay alive.
She shook her head again, more at her own thoughts than at his last words. She did not need this trouble. He took a step back, and she was thankful for that.
"I don't even know what you want me to find?" I don't even have a reason to find it!
His confidence sagged a little at that, and his eyes turned to the floor. Was it doubt that crossed his eyes?
"As I said… there's something in my veins."
"Drugs," she stated.
"A drug," he corrected. "Something you won't find on the streets," he tried to joke, but it came stressed. "It's… highly addictive. I want you to find what it is, and how to get me off of it. Or if… I… can't live without it, I need you to produce it for me, until I can find the right supplier," he whispered now, more than doubt in those words making his eyes look vulnerable. Something like desperation.
"Who's your supplier now?" she whispered back.
It took him a second, but he got his confidence back, and with it, his eyes closed off to her. "The US government. Make no mistake, Dr. Parker. If they find out I was here, they'll kill you. If you contact anyone, they'll know. It'll mean a lot of trouble for me, but it'll mean far worse to you."
She shook her head yet again. "I don't want— I don't want any trouble."
He looked at her, really looked at her, and she wondered if those haunted eyes were going to be the last thing she saw before he killed her. A tense, silent minute went by. Then he nodded to himself, and walked past her, to the lab station further into the room.
She could run. She had to run out of there, but her body didn't move. Her eyes remained on his back as he opened a couple of drawers, looking for God knew what. Her curiosity won over her self-preservation instincts, but her breath caught in her throat when he finally found what he wanted from the third drawer: a syringe.
Now she stood up, her back to the door, her feet managing two steps back before he turned around, taking his jacket off. He wore a black t-shirt that let the world know he worked out. A lot. But all Liz saw was the syringe in his right hand, going to his left arm.
"I'm going to contact you in two days," the syringe went in. He didn't even flinch, "and if what you see in this sample does not pique your interest, I'll never contact you again." Blood quickly filled the plastic tube. Dread quickly filled her body.
He took the needle out, and one drop swelled in his arm before he wiped it out with his hand. He handed her the sample before she could even blink. "If you show it to anyone, anyone Dr. Parker, it won't be pretty. If you don't want to work with me, I'll understand. If you do, we'll arrange later meetings."
Painfully aware of how scare she was –and how pale she must look—she received the sample with shaking hands. She wanted to trash it right in front of him, so he would know she was not interested in this kind of trouble. But she didn't. She wouldn't risk her life for that. Once he walked out of the door, though…
The syringe felt heavy. Lead heavy. He could have placed a feather on her hands and the result would have been the same. He looked at her for a moment longer, maybe having second thoughts. Maybe wanting to make sure she had understood how serious this was. Under the unwanted weight of his stare, she looked down at the syringe, his dark red blood looking like any other sample she'd ever seen. She closed her hand around it, and looked up to ask a few hundred questions of her own.
Shadows were all her answer. She never heard him going, either.