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Episode 411

"The Return"

Story by Liz and Jeslyn

Written by Liz, Jeslyn, Annie and Shira

Edited by Tiff, Lisa, Mark and Sherry

Playlist:

1. "Bring Me to Life" by Evanscence

2. "The Scientist" by Coldplay

3. "Sick Cycle Carousel" by Lifehouse

4. "La Tempete" by Tara MacLean

5. "Mary" by Sarah McLachlan

Outside club Paradise

"No," Liz breathed. She felt like she was in another dimension, watching the events unfold in front of her.

Michael was kissing someone else.

Someone who looked like Maria, but wasn’t. Someone who looked like her best friend, but wasn’t. Someone who was using Maria’s face to steal Michael away.

Suddenly, Liz snapped out of her daze.

"Michael! No!" she cried, trying to side-step Max and stop what she was seeing.

Only an arm was stopping her.

"Let go of me!" She clawed at the restraint, not even bothering to see who it was.

"Liz! Liz! Stop it!" Max said as he grabbed her other arm and turned her around to face him, saddened pain evident in his eyes. "Liz, please," he said, looking straight into her eyes. As she subsided, he caught sight of his sister’s pale face out of the corner of his eye.

"Isabel, are you okay?" Max asked, taking a step towards her.

"I’m fine," Isabel replied, drawing in a shuddering breath. She looked at Jesse, grabbing his hand squeezing it tight. Max looked down to see her knuckles turn white. Jesse immediately brought their clasped hands to his lips, kissing Isabel’s fingers softly. "I just want to go home," she entreated.

"Are you sure that’s such a good idea?" Kyle asked, gesturing to the display inside. "All hell’s breaking loose in there!"

Liz avoided looking, burying her face in Max’s chest instead.

"Yeah, what about Michael?" Serena chimed in. "He’s… he’s floating –"

"That’s not Michael," Max cut in quietly, wrapping his arm around Liz to draw her close. "That’s Rath."

"Who is Rath?" Serena interjected, her words falling on deaf ears.

"Are you sure, Max?" Isabel asked softly, hidden in the crook of Jesse’s arm. Max couldn’t remember her ever looking so small.

Or vulnerable. Afraid.

"His eyes," Max said. "I saw his eyes. Before, at the apartment. His eyes changed – they did the same thing last year when he had the royal seal; when I fought him. It’s Rath in there, not Michael."

"But wasn’t Rath more – gung ho?" Kyle asked.

"Then," Max clarified. "Now – Calypso, Maria… whoever that is in there, she’s bringing out a new side of him."

"We have to do something to stop this," Liz whispered, looking up at him with watery eyes.

"We can’t just leave them like this," Serena agreed. "People will start to talk. I mean, he’s floating!"

"I don’t wanna know," Kyle muttered.

"Neither do I." Jesse put in. He was looking for Isabel to continue his sentiment, but she didn’t. The last thing she wanted was any involvement in this at all. Yet, it looked like there was no other choice. It was up to her, she would have to stand up and rise to the occasion. There was no time to waste. She looked back at Max and gave him a small nod.

"What are you gonna do?" Kyle asked, hesitant, watching the exchange.

"Tell Michael to knock it off before the Boston Planet makes him tomorrow’s cover story," she quipped dryly. She looked over at Jesse searching for his approval before shutting her eyes.

Isabel descended the wispy fog of a dreamwalk connection, trying to find leverage. Instead of the cloud clearing, it didn’t seem to end. She tried maneuvering around in it, in an attempt to find Michael but all she found was gray.

"Nothing," Isabel informed everyone, opening her eyes and looking around at the faces of those that surrounded her. They all had the same wide-eyed look. "All I got was a wall. He’s blocking me." She watched Liz’s face go from hope to despair.

They all stood there for what seemed like an eternity to Liz before she broke the silence. "There’s only one thing left to do." She turned and walked back in the direction they had just come from, towards the subway, Max hurriedly following.

She kept going as the others looked on in confusion; her stride determined and her chin high. She was going to bring Maria back, no matter what it took.

~.~.~.~.~

1.

He'd never felt as alive before as he did at that very moment with her in his arms, the world a blurry oblivion around him.

Kissing her felt like breathing. So completely natural, as if he were made for her kiss and her kiss alone.

He could feel every line of her body against his as he held her there tightly. He briefly wondered how she could even breathe, but it was a passing thought.

Thought was beyond him. All he wanted was to feel– and to open his mind to what was begging to be let in.

*Flash*

"Why did you bring me here, Cam?" Rath asked softly, as he looked around the enclosed cave. Light seemed to be coming in from somewhere. It danced across the large pool of water that they stood beside, but he couldn't pinpoint its source.

Calypso knelt beside the small pool of water and dragged her fingers through it, watching as it collected her palm then slid free. "We decided that tonight we would find out... that tonight we would..."

Rath pulled her back up to him, and brushed a few wild midnight strands from her face, his thumb brushing in a gentle caress against her cheek. "We don't have to make love to know that we aren't meant for anyone else besides each other - if you aren't ready–"

"I'm ready."

*Flash*

"You know when Max and Liz would kiss, and Liz would get the flashes? And when we would kiss you didn't. I know how much that hurt you."

"That doesn't matter to me anymore, Michael."

"The reason you didn't get the flashes is because I didn't let you get them. I didn't let you see me. I've never let anyone see me before... because there are things inside of me that I don't want people to see. There are things inside of me that I'm not so proud of. But I've thought about it, and I want you to see me."

*Flash*

"At which point is the economic balance on Antar the most unstable–"

"This is so completely boring." Calypso breathed against her hand, as their teacher prattled on about something or another.

Rath sighed, and slid his spectacles from his nose as he glared over at her. "It's not that boring. You're just not paying attention."

Laughter bubbled in her throat. "Who is?" she asked incredulously. "You – you are the only living soul in this room that is paying attention."

"That's not true."

Calypso raised a challenging eyebrow and then motioned to their right.

Rath turned and wasn't surprised to see Zan fast asleep behind his raised textbook. He turned back to Calypso. "Well... we trained last night. He's tired. It takes a lot to go up against my undeniable strength–"

Calypso laughed a little too loudly. "You cocky bast—"

The teacher turned and cleared his throat, and both Calypso and Rath snapped to attention. "Mr. Pavé?"

Calypso almost laughed before she received a silencing glare from Rath.

"Yes, sir?"

"Do you know the answer?"

Rath looked confused for a moment, before Calypso whispered over to him, "The day of economic unbalance–"

"The Day of the Aligning Planets," Rath answered, as he spied Amíle out of the corner of his eye. She shook Zan awake before the teacher caught him.

The teacher nodded. "That's right," he confirmed, then added, "Mr. Pavé, a scholar like yourself shouldn't allow himself to be distracted so easily." He directed his next statement towards Calypso, "And you, my dear, should strive to be less distracting."

Calypso smiled sweetly. "Why, yes, Father. I will strive to do so – I really, really will."

"Good," her father replied, then turned to walk back to the front of the class.

Calypso’s expression grew devious and she rose abruptly from her seat, sending her stool toppling over, then took Rath's head between her hands and proceeded to kiss him quite thoroughly.

Her father turned on his heel at the sounds of whoops and hollers. "Callie!"

Calypso lifted her head, with a small wink towards Rath. "Oh, I'm sorry, was that distracting?"

As Calypso pulled away slightly from Michael's embrace, but still stood in the circle of his arms, she gazed up at him. "You've had a hard life here. I felt so much pain."

Michael blinked, and then slightly shrugged, as he caught his breath.

"Your foster father, Hank, beat you day after day and you survived. All of this happened in this life before you lost your real father in your other life on Antar. Which is worse do you think?" Calypso asked, spreading her hands out over his chest in a soothing caress.

Michael shook his head softly, feeling the world return to him as the sounds of the bar began to once again penetrate his brain. "I don't know... before... when you were there it was easier to bear. And I still had a mother." His eyes snapped up. "What happened to her?"

Looking down, she replied, "You don't want to know the details. Just know that she wasn't going to live without you." She sighed. "You were her whole world." She looked back up to him. "And mine."

"You've had to live without me as I have had to live without you–"

"Not completely," she interrupted. "You've had her."

"Maria?"

"Yes. Maria."

Michael shook his head. "She isn't you."

"No, she's not," Calypso agreed. "But I'm also not her."

"What does that–"

"Let's get out of here, huh?" Calypso asked, looking around at their destroyed surroundings, obviously changing the subject.

Michael nodded. "Sure, where do you want to go?"

"Anywhere."

~.~.~.~.~

2.

The ride back to the apartment was quiet; no one spoke. The gentle swaying of the subway car seemed to speak to Liz. It seemed to be crying with her, as if saying ‘it’s okay, I feel your pain.’

She climbed the short flight of steps to Jesse’s apartment, watched him enter the key and unlock the door, watched as the others gave each other knowing glances as she shucked her coat on the nearest chair and headed down the hall to Maria’s room.

"Liz," Max took a step towards her, but Kyle grabbed his arm, stopping him.

"She needs some time alone, we all do, let her go," he advised, his hand falling away slowly.

Max hovered there at the end of the hallway, watching her go. He hated to see her so upset, but Kyle was right. The only one who could offer any real comfort in this situation was Maria. The real Maria. Maybe Liz would succeed in reaching her this time. If she failed it would probably make her even more upset, but he would be here waiting if that happened.

Liz quietly entered Maria’s room, closing the door silently behind her. Flickering candles littered every conceivable place in the room – along the windowsill, the dresser, even the small desk beside the bed.

Maria was sprawled out on the bed, her eyes wide as she played in the flame of a fat candle on the bedside table. Over and over her fingers swept into the flame. In, out, pause, in, out, pause. Liz stood quietly by the door, watching her, before crossing the short span between them.

She sat down on the floor next to the bed, still watching Maria play with the candle. She seemed so innocent, still so much unlike the Maria she loved. Unlike the best friend she once knew, better than Max.

"It makes my fingers hurt," Maria was the first to break the silence. "When I do this. But I like the feeling. It makes me feel… alive."

The image of Calypso and Michael kissing in the bar surfaced again and Liz closed her eyes, willing it away.

"Maria." Liz grabbed onto her hand, stilling it. "Maria, I have to tell you something and you have to listen very carefully."

"Okay." Maria dropped her hand and pulled her body up higher on the bed. "What is it?"

Liz stood up and sat on the bed cross-legged, facing Maria.

"Michael… he, well, he did something to you. He made you the way you are now, do you understand?"

Maria nodded slowly. "Kinda."

"And lately, he’s been trying to fix you because Max couldn’t."

"But Max can heal." Maria’s eyes grew confused.

"I know," Liz said quickly. "But he couldn’t heal you. He couldn’t undo what Michael did."

Liz looked down, batting her eyelashes, trying to combat her tears.

"What did Michael do?" Maria finally asked.

After a pause, Liz answered, "That’s not what’s important right now, Maria. That’s not what I came here to tell you." She looked up. "Michael… well, he’s been spending a lot of time away from here. A lot of time away from all of us." She looked down at her hands, which were folded in her lap, trembling. Out of the top of her eyes, she noticed Maria’s hands mirroring her position.

Grabbing a hand, Liz continued, "Michael has been spending time with someone else. And he’s been spending it with – with this person – because it’s too hard for him to be around you anymore."

"But why?" Maria’s innocent question broke the dam of tears that had built up. "I thought he loved me."

"He does," Liz nodded, wiping away her tears. "But um… well…"

"Well what?"

Liz took Maria’s other hand, wrapping her fingers around the other hand in a hold that was desperate. "Maria, I need you to come back, okay? I need you to come back to us. I need you to try harder. You were doing so well at Christmas and then – and then you just stopped. You just stopped. And I need you to start trying again because– because…" Liz stopped talking, consumed by sobs. Finally, she pulled Maria into a fierce hug.

"I – I miss you so much, Maria. So, so much. I need you to come back to us. Michael needs you. Please, you have to find a way to come back. I – I don’t know how to fix you but I know you do, deep down. Please, Maria. Please come back to us."

~.~.~.~.~

3.

The next day

"So this is what you call work," Serena teased, leaning against the counter.

Kyle immediately turned on his heel; a wide smile spreading across his face when he realized it was her. "Hello to you too," he said sarcastically, watching her lean further across the counter.

A playful frown appeared. "That tone makes me think that you don’t want me here."

"Couldn’t be further from the truth," Kyle reassured her as he rested against the other side of the counter, meeting her halfway. "I like having you around."

"Prove it," Serena challenged.

It was a challenge that Kyle was more than happy to meet. Finally closing the distance between them, he pressed his lips tenderly against hers.

Parting her lips, she took the kiss to the next level.

"Excuse me," a tall woman interrupted. "I’d like to check these out."

Kyle drew away first and Serena notice his face start to grow red. "Sorry about that ma’am."

The expression on the customer’s face all but told him he was not forgiven. "So, a Bruce Willis fan," he inquired, looking over the titles she handed to him. Die Hard, Sixth Sense, and The Kid.

The woman responded with a glare. One that Serena was all too happy to return because of her untimely interruption. Meanwhile, Kyle quickly bagged the videos and passed them over the counter. "Have a nice day," he said as she stormed out of the store, just as some teenage guys walked in.

"What a -" Serena began.

Kyle reached out, pressing a finger against Serena’s mouth. "Don’t get me fired."

Her eyes brightened as his hand slipped away. "Fired? I would never do anything like that!"

"So, safer subject," Kyle suggested.

Serena shrugged. "If we must," she relented, searching her head for something they could talk about. However, her mind kept wandering back to the night before.

The same thing was running through Kyle’s mind. A few silent seconds passed between them before he finally spoke up. "Do you think anyone would mind if I killed Michael?"

Her jaw dropped. "What?"

"Well, it probably wouldn’t happen, he’d probably turn me into dust before I got the chance," Kyle rambled. "But could I try?"

"Not a chance. He’s way too powerful for that, and besides, this is still Michael we’re talking about."

"I know, I just need to do something." He sighed in frustration. "After all, Maria is just sitting in the apartment without a clue as to what is going on around her, and Michael thinks it’s okay to cheat on her. It’s his entire fault she’s like that in the first place! If that doesn’t deserve some violence, I don’t know what does. I mean, he didn’t even come back to the apartment last night."

Serena reached across the counter, gently laying her hand on his arm. "Well, I’m not barring you from giving him a good, swift kick in the butt."

Kyle looked over at her, managing a weak smile. "True." Then, the smile faded away. "This is just so messed up."

Rubbing her hand reassuringly up and down his arm, Serena nodded in agreement. "I know. It’s strange, that’s for sure."

"It’s beyond strange," Kyle blurted out. "That girl looked just like Maria. Okay, different hair color maybe, but everything else is the same. Max hasn’t been able to help Maria, Isabel can’t get anywhere in her dreams, and she hasn’t changed a bit in all these months. Maria is innocent in all this, ya know?"

A bit surprised at the sudden outburst, Serena took a step back. "We’ll find a way," she said, trying to be comforting. "I promise."

He turned to face her fully. "I just feel kind of responsible. Maria and I were always on the same level. Human, for one thing. Then again, we found a common ground after our parents started dating. Let’s just say we formed a bond."

"That’s the first time you’ve ever mentioned him," Serena thought aloud.

The questioned snapped Kyle out of the brief walk down memory lane. "Who?"

Serena looked up into his eyes. "Your father."

"I miss him," Kyle said softly as he started to move to the other side of the counter. His voice got louder as he spoke again. "How about you? Don’t you miss your mother?"

He saw her choking back emotions as she swallowed hard. Her gaze fell away from him, dropping to the floor. "I never really knew her. There was always something going on that was more important… Well, I guess you probably don’t know what it’s like to always be second."

Kyle stopped in his tracks. "Actually, yeah, I do," he confessed.

The next thing she knew, a warm hand began caressing her cheek. Fingers glided across her skin, moving down to her chin, urging her to look up.

"I know exactly how you feel," he told her, leaning down and capturing her mouth.

"Get a room," a high-pitched voice broke the moment.

Reluctantly, Kyle and Serena turned to see who had interrupted them this time. "And my parents say my hormones are out of control," one of the teenagers commented.

"Is this a promotional offer?" another chimed in. "Rent a movie, kiss the girl?"

Serena couldn’t help the giggle which escaped her lips. "We’ll pick this up back at the apartment."

"Later." Kyle’s eyes followed her as she walked out of the store. "Get a move on!" he shouted at the kids. "We’re closing early."

~.~.~.~.~

The clock above the kitchen sink read three thirty in the morning. Isabel sighed unhappily at the round blue time-telling machine and turned her focus back to her glass of warm milk.

Quietly, she sipped the warm liquid, hoping it would calm her down and allow her some sleep. The wood floor in the hallway creaked and Isabel looked up at the doorway, only slightly surprised to see her brother standing there with tired, worried eyes.

She glanced away from him, focusing on the wood grain patterns in the kitchen’s oak table top. He’d seen the look in her eyes when she came out of a dreamwalk, and chances were he knew that her latest dreamwalking episode kept her from a peaceful slumber. She could hear the refrigerator door open and the sound of liquid swishing, and Isabel knew he poured himself a drink also. She heaved a sigh when he sat beside her at the table and thought about excusing herself, but she didn’t. In truth, she knew that if anyone could understand what was bothering her, Max would be that person.

"Can’t sleep?" he whispered.

She shook her head. Sleep was by far the last thing on her mind. Every time she closed her eyes, visions of her past life continued to haunt her, like a reoccurring nightmare.

"You wanna talk about it?" he spoke tentatively

"The dreamwalk," she sighed. "I’ve never been haunted by what I’ve seen before. Not like this at least."

"What did you see?" he prompted her.

She hesitated. "After I pushed past Maria’s main dream of Rath and Calypso, I saw me. I saw me, with Kivar." Tears threatened to fall from her eyes, but she swallowed hard and forced them to subside. "I was so… so naïve. I let myself fall in love with Kivar without realizing that he never loved me and then… then he killed me."

"You know that’s not you," Max stated. "All those events are in the past, they are merely history." He took a drink of his milk. "Destiny or not," he concluded.

Silence filled the air and Isabel sighed again, glancing down at her mug of milk, watching it swirl around.

"I saw what Michael did to her," Max finally admitted, looking down at the table.

"What?" Isabel gasped, looking him in the eye.

"When I tried to heal her that day she collapsed in the shower," he explained, "I saw what he did. The emotions coursing through him– Iz, they were too powerful... I’d never seen anything like that before. They were so strong that they hit me in harsh waves when I tried to help her. I felt the pain she felt, and the rage he was expending on her, and I’ve been worried about the both of them ever since, although I haven’t always shown it."

Isabel shook her head slowly, speaking quietly. "He… he mentally abused her?"

Max could only look up at her, trying to offer what little support he could.

Isabel held her head in her hands.

"You’re not the same person, Iz, none of us are," Max reminded her. "And you have Jesse now. Remember that."

She nodded and grew worried as Max spoke again, a strange importance in his voice. "Hanley is off on another trip, but he said he’ll be back soon. Maybe he knows something about Maria’s condition."

"I doubt it," Isabel said seriously, adding softly, "Do you think we’ll have to go back to Antar?"

"Maybe, if Khivar doesn’t come to Earth first. Why do you ask?"

"I don’t ever want to go back there. Besides, I do have Jesse and I don’t want to leave him again."

"We’ll deal with it when the time comes," Max assured her.

"I’ve already dealt with it," she said emphatically. "After what I saw there is no question whatsoever. I will not go back there, Max."

~.~.~.~.~

"…what are you afraid of?"

"I’ve never let anyone see me before… I want you to see me"

A small girl stood there crying, her blonde hair impairing her vision. She tried tying the laces of her red sneakers, her Dalmatian dog licking off her tears.

Gasping, Michael pulled himself away from Calypso. All night, memories of both his lives had plagued him, but none so strongly as the latest few. His memories of his present life hit him much more strongly than his memories of being Rath. Memories of Maria brought him back to reality.

He tilted his head back as Calypso kissed his neck, but mentally, he was trying to regain a sense of where he was. The room definitely didn’t look like anything in Jesse’s apartment, or any other place he had been to before. The mini-fridge, the television, the papers on the desk by the window… within seconds he remembered where he was.

He was in a hotel, in a room he’d paid for.

"What’s wrong?" Calypso breathed as if she sensed that he was distracted.

"Nothing," he insisted.

He pressed his lips against hers again, all semblance of reality slowly fading from sensation. At that point he didn’t care to be in reality because he knew that with reality came the fact that Maria had lost all sense of feeling, that she was damaged, and the cause of her damage weighed heavily on him… until now with Calypso in his arms. Parts of him that previously lay dormant came alive from her presence alone, and he knew deep down that a very old part of him would always belong with her.

Her hands cupped his face and her fingers played with his short hair. Mindlessly, he moaned, and in one swift movement her hands moved onto his head and began to trail down his neck. Her fingers trailed gently down the middle of his back, his bare back, he realized even though he didn’t much care. He felt as though he was almost with Maria again before she lost her emotions… before he ever focused on the pain instead of the love.

Her fingers slipped downward, purposely exploring what she’d find inside his pants. In that moment, something inside him revolted… the part of him that was Michael. She reached further while her lips pressed passionately against his, and Michael firmly grabbed her wrist. Before he could pull any part of himself away from her, another vision pulsed through him.

"I’ll lose him," Calypso thought to herself. "He’s not the Rath I remember, not completely…"

Her thoughts raged on until a realization hit her, like a light bulb turned on in her head. Her head… Maria’s head… she could be with Michael again, if she could just fix Maria’s head … meld parts of herself with parts of Maria… if only…

Michael pulled away again, yanking Calypso’s hand out of his pants. Calypso knew how to fix Maria, but she hadn’t told him. He wondered if she’d had any intention of offering to help Maria. Maria, who’d once asked him what he was afraid of. And now he knew his worst fear. He feared that he would lose Maria… that he already had… that his heart would never be whole again.

"What–" Calypso began, but he interrupted her.

"Why didn’t you tell me?" he demanded firmly.

"Tell you what?" Calypso responded, mimicking his tone.

"You know how to fix Maria," he accused her, climbing off the bed. "Were you ever going to tell me?"

"Michael," she began, her tone suggesting that she would likely avoid the question. It had felt as though she had been with Rath again nearly all night, until he pushed her away. She had returned all this way to be with him again, and she was not about to let him go. But, Michael was so strong-willed.

Tears pierced her eyes while she pulled the straps of her black p leather dress over her shoulders. She took a deep breath and tried to answer him again while she too climbed off the bed, and adjusted a few of the safety pins along the sides of her dress.

"Michael, I–"

Impatient, Michael didn’t wait for her to finish her sentence, grabbing her by the forearms and pressing her against the wall next to the bedside table.

"WERE YOU?" he demanded fiercely. "How long have you known? TELL ME!"

Her eyes narrowed in anger, in pain. She wouldn’t do it, not now. Sensing her emotions, Michael loosened his grip, and Calypso shoved him away, with surprising agility.

"I don’t have to tell you anything!" she spat back.

His jaw dropped as though she’d just punched him in the stomach, but she didn’t look at him to find the hurt on his face. She felt too furious to try. Instead, she grabbed her purse and stalked out of the room, slamming the door shut behind her.

~.~.~.~.~

4.

Later that day

"Are you staying with her again?"

Liz slowly turned to look at Max. He sat on the bed, his expression pensive and solemn.

"I have to, Max," she replied, her luminous eyes shadowed with guilt. The truth was that she hated spending nights away from him, yet she couldn’t do any different. Maria was her best friend. When she had changed, they’d accepted it. They’d even made allowances for what had happened. But not anymore.

Max saw the look pass in her eyes, the sadness storming through them. He instantly got up and moved towards her. "Liz," he whispered gently, wrapping her in his arms. "Shhhh… just tell me. It’s okay."

Tears started to spill, un-beckoned. "We accepted it," she bit out, an accusing tone lacing her words. "Sure we tried a few things to help her, but then we just accepted it, Max. God, how could we have done that to Maria?" she cried. "She would have never done that to us."

Running a hand though her hair, Max gently rocked her in his arms. "I know."

He felt her arms clutch around him tighter. "It doesn’t make it right. It’s all our fault. Maria losing all these months, Michael growing apart, him going to that girl for…." she sobbed against his chest, unable to finish her sentence.

Max’s jaw tightened with a new determination. "What Michael does is not our fault. I don’t know what is going on, Liz. But I promise that I will get to the bottom of it once and for all. We’ll get her back."

Liz took a step back, meeting his gaze as he studied her tear-streaked face. "We have to," Liz told him. "Cause it is our fault. Michael may have given up," she said, finally moving away from the warmth her husband’s arms. "But I won’t."

"Liz," Max called to her.

Swallowing hard, Liz moved towards the door. "She needs me. I have to go."

With that, Liz opened the bedroom door and walked down the hall, rubbing her face on her sleeve.

A chill descended down Liz’s spine as she approached the bed. The room was cold, almost forbidding. However, it didn’t stop her. Slowly, Liz crawled into beside her best friend, taking in how peaceful Maria looked as she slept.

Suddenly, Maria’s peaceful expression twisted. Her head thrashed to one side as her lips curled into a frown. "Maria," Liz whispered, reaching out to brush a lock of hair that had fallen in front of Maria’s eyes. The second she touched the strands, Liz felt something draw her down. Before she knew it, inky blackness filled her mind.

"This makes no sense," Amíle protested, watching her friend pace back and forth. "Even if it were fathomable, the separation of classes would never allow it."

"He loves you!" Yamine cried out in frustration. "I know Zan, and I can see it in his eyes. Since the solstice, he has been watching you."

"Correction. He has been watching me follow you. I am nothing but your servant," Amíle argued.

A heated flash came across Yamine’s crystal colored eyes. "No," she stated firmly. "You are so much more. Try using that argument if you must, but use it on someone who does not know you as well as I do. I have seen your skill… talent… loyalty. After all, you are the best friend I have ever known."

Amíle found her gaze searching the marble floor. "If anyone ever found out…"

"Go to him," Yamine reassured her friend. "I will do everything in my power to keep you from being discovered."

*Flash*

"They know," Cen’re confessed, feeling as though his world was falling apart.

Amíle felt the tears start to grow in her eyes, but she forced them back. "How?" she managed to say.

He shook his head. "I do not know. It does not matter. My parents have agreed. They are sending me away. I leave for S’let tonight."

"Zan," she breathed, stepping forward as she reached out to cup his cheek in her small hand.

He mimicked the action, pulling her closer. "I cannot do it. I will not leave you."

She took a deep breath, then another, knowing what she had to do. "You have to, Zan. It is your duty."

"I do not care about duty," he admitted, shaking his head.

"Then, what about your people?" she asked. "You owe it to them."

"And it will cost me the one person I love the most." He cringed, holding her even tighter now.

"Never," she whispered, resting her head in the crook of his neck, breathing in his scent, knowing it might be the last time. "You will never lose me. I’m in your heart. I will always be there."

Zan buried his face in her dark black hair. "It is almost time," he choked out. "My parents will be here soon."

"Kiss me," she pleaded. "One last time."

Pulling back a bit, Zan studied her face. Her deep blue eyes held nothing but love for him. Slowly, his lips descended on to hers, enticing her to open up to him. As she did, the moment caught up with him and he began to weep.

Amíle could feel his heart break, ripping hers apart right along with it. Finally, she let the tears slip from her eyes, mixing with his.

*Flash*

"The queen has requested your presence, Amíle," Yamine stated, reading from a piece of parchment. She looked up at her with wide eyes. "You must go to her tonight."

*Flash*

"Hello, Amíle," a voice said behind her. Amíle turned and saw the queen of Antar: Malarthe D’tharthé.

Amíle immediately bowed, shamed that she had not done so earlier.

"Amíle, please do not do that here," the queen said quietly. "You do not have to bow to me."

Amíle slowly stood up, clearing her throat. "I heard you wanted to speak to me."

The queen’s eyes grew sad. "Yes, I do. Come with me."

She guided her down a dark hall and into a sitting room on the west side of the palace. Candles illuminated the room, casting eerie shadows on the walls.

"Sit down, Amíle." Malarthe gestured to several chairs placed around the room. Amíle slowly lowered herself into one. "There’s something very important I have to tell you."

Amíle drew herself up tall and rigid. She steeled herself for what she knew was going to come.

"Cen’re… Zan – he’s taken a bride."

Tears instantly sprang to Amíle’s eyes. She blinked rapidly, willing the telltale drops of wetness away.

"I’m not blind, Amíle," Malarthe continued. "Zan thrived when he was with you at the academy. I found letters from you to him in his room one day – that’s how I know about you." She paused. "I let it go on as long as I did because I thought he’d grow out of it. His father had a weakness for the lower class also. It’s what made him such a great king." She bowed her head. "But that weakness also killed his father. I will not let such a thing happen to Zan. He’s my only son, and the heir at that."

She came forward, and knelt before Amíle, gathering her hands up. Amíle could only stare at her, caught off guard from the position the queen was taking.

"I’m telling you now about Zan because he loves you. He does. And I can see that you love him. But I have to beg you now to never see him again. If you happen to see his entourage, pass on by. If you happen to be in the palace at the same time as him, avoid him at all costs."

"Why?" Amíle’s tears were now flowing freely. She wanted to curl up into a ball and never talk to anyone again.

"Zan can never marry someone of your stature. I wish he could for both your sakes, but the marriage he’s taking is political. He can’t afford to let his emotions cloud his judgment."

Malarthe reached up and wiped Amíle’s tears slowly away, first the left side and then the right. "You’re a beautiful girl, Amíle, and if I could do it any other way, I would. Please promise me that you will never speak to Zan again after this day."

Amíle gazed at her queen through wet lashes, knowing she had to do this, even if it meant sacrificing her own heart. "I promise."

*Flash*

"We need you," Yamine explained.

Turning from her friend, Amile went back to her chores. "Who is we?"

"Zan, Vilandra, Rath, and me," she listed. "We all do."

Amíle felt her heart plummet at the mere mention of his name. "I cannot. Not after everything… I just cannot."

"The unrest is building. Something is going to happen," Yamine said pleadingly. "Your powers will give such an advantage."

"How is it that I will even be accepted into the movement?" Amíle questioned. "I do not belong to the soldiering class, nor the line of protectors. The years have proven that I am nothing more than a working class servant."

"I would train you," Yamine argued. "You already follow your intuition more closely than many of those who have spent all their years honing their talents."

"And it has led me to nothing but trouble and persecution," Amíle bit out angrily.

"So clearly it was wasted on you," Yamine yelled. "I’ll go, but let me ask you one more question before I do. Is this what Ilam would have wanted?"

"What does my brother have to do with this?" Amíle asked, her disposition crumbling.

"He fought, rose above his station, and died protecting the king," Yamine told her. "You know that. And he did all of it without truly knowing the person behind the king. You of all people should want to fight in this war – you’ve known the king!"

"What if I make it worse?" Amíle cried. "What if my judgment is clouded because I still…"

"Love him?" Yamine finished for her. "It will not. I know you, Amíle. Your love will only make you stronger."

Amíle swallowed hard. "What do I have to do?"

~.~.~.~.~

Hours later, Michael sat sprawled on top of the hotel bed and surfed aimlessly through the channels of the cable television. He would have returned to the apartment after Calypso left if he didn’t feel so conflicted and angry. Time alone should have relaxed him, helped him think more clearly about the situation, but his mind raced nonetheless. Maria remained with the others in the apartment, too void of emotion to truly worry about his absence, and Calypso could be anywhere in the city. She knew how to help fix Maria, but he had screwed up. He had no idea if she would ever tell him after the way he’d treated her, but he couldn’t say that he regretted his actions toward Calypso entirely. He simply loved Maria more and wished that Calypso could understand that.

His hand tightened around the remote control in his hand. So much frustration raged through him that he knew he could use his exploding powers on the entire hotel and not feel any better about anything that had happened. Angry with himself, he tossed the remote across the room and ran his fingers wildly through his already tousled hair. He forced a deep breath into his lungs, fighting to keep himself calm, and made his lungs slowly release the air.

The Maria he loved would have been proud of him for not exploding, and with that thought the next breath came much easier. His emotional turmoil died down just a little, which caused his ears to realize just how high he had turned the volume on the television, and that someone was pounding on the door.

Max or Isabel, he figured to himself while he approached the door. He couldn’t think of anyone else who would want to find him at that moment. Without allowing himself to think about what he would say or do next, he flung open the door and his mouth fell open slightly in shock.

Calypso stood before him, her beautiful violet eyes wavering while she looked up at him. He wondered why she’d come back and found himself speechless when he wanted to ask her.

She really didn’t have a reason in the world to help him with Maria … except that she cared about him, and if it meant helping that other woman, then so be it.

She looked into Michael’s dark amber eyes and knew that helping Maria would be the best thing she could do for him. She knew that although she could never have Rath again, there was no reason why Michael should suffer the same fate as she. In a way, she would always be with him, sharing his happiness, as long as he agreed with her plan.

"I’ll help you fix Maria," she told him softly.

"Why?" he said, crossing his arms. "And why didn’t you tell me that you knew how to fix her before I found out secondhand?"

"Second-hand?" she scoffed. "You found out directly from the horse’s mouth Michael, I’d call that first-hand."

"Whatever," he said indifferently, not wanting to argue. He could find some way to fix Maria without her… so he began to shut the door in her face. Calypso grabbed the outside knob and held it open, fiercely intent on explaining herself to him. The sheer determination sparkling wildly in her eyes made him think twice and he let go of the inside door handle while she invited herself in and began to tell him what she’d come to say.

"I didn’t tell you sooner because… I love you, you are Rath incarnate. Well, he is in you somewhere anyways. And when he finally appeared to me, I… I just couldn’t let him go. Do you know what I had to sacrifice to come all this way? I thought you could never know what it’s like to lose your soulmate, but then I found out about Maria. I saw what you did to her and I realized that you know my pain. It’s hard for me to admit this but you love her the way you used to love me, maybe even more, and as painful as it is for me to admit, Rath died on Antar. There it is. The truth is … you – you as you are now – you can never be mine, and it took you yelling at me earlier to finally realize the reality of it. You belong to Maria," she said, defeated.

"Yeah," he rasped uncomfortably.

"I’m probably the only one who can fix her for you," she told him. "A part of me in her for the part of Rath in you, and you’ll have your Maria back, I promise you. But the decision is yours."

"Exactly what will you have to do to her?" he asked warily, shifting his stance.

"I’ll have to connect to her mentally. My essence will combine with hers, and–" she began, but he interrupted her.

"Combine?" he questioned.. "You said she’d be my Maria again."

"Well, in a way she will be. She’ll keep all her memories as well as most of mine, and she will be able to feel again in the same body she was born in. It’s just that since I have to put myself inside her, I will be part of her."

She saw the confusion in his eyes. "It’s complicated. I’ll be deep inside, mixed with her essence, and Maria might be confused at first. She will have to learn how to use her feelings again and they may not be exactly the same as they were before. You will have her back though, and she will still be your Maria."

Michael, although usually the most paranoid person on the planet, trusted Calypso at that moment, almost as much as he trusted Maria. He felt certain that she could heal Maria and he wanted her to be fixed as soon as possible. The desire to have his love back was unbearable.

"Let’s go," he insisted, leading her out of the hotel by the hand. "We have to go to the apartment."

~.~.~.~.~

Kyle dragged his body up the stairs. Who would have ever thought that shelving videos for a living would be so tiring? Well, it actually might have had something to do with the kids he had just spent the past forty-five minutes trying to kick out of the video store. They knew why he wanted to get home, and they took their dear, sweet time just to torture him.

"I hope Serena is still awake," he muttered to himself as he let himself in and made his way down the dark hall.

Suddenly, the sound of a soft moan hit his ears. More than a little curious, Kyle sped up his pace a bit.

Sensing something was wrong he ran the last few feet to Maria’s room. Throwing the door open, he saw Maria sleeping there, her head shifting slightly.

Then he noticed Liz lying down next her, definitely not resting. Her head was thrashing back and forth, soft pleas coming from her mouth.

Kyle hurried over to the bed, reaching out and grabbing Liz firmly by the shoulders. "Liz," he said, shaking her slightly. "Liz, wake up."

As he jarred her, the piece of Maria’s hair that had gotten tangled in Liz’s fingers fell free. With that, Liz slammed awake.

"Oh my God," she gasped as she sat straight up, finding Kyle’s arms wrapping around her shoulders.

"Are you okay?" he asked, stumbling back from her unexpected movement.

Liz shifted her eyes, taking in her surroundings. "How is it possible?" she questioned.

Now Kyle was more than confused. "How is what possible?"

Wide-eyed, Liz met his gaze, and gulped down a heavy intake of air. "I saw Antar," she told him. "And…I think maybe I saw myself there."

Kyle drew back even more. "What are you talking about, Liz? How could you have possibly seen Antar?"

Liz shook her head. "I don’t know," she admitted. "One minute I was here, Maria was sleeping, and I went to move this piece of hair that was falling in her eye. The next thing I knew, I was on Antar, living a completely different life."

"This is way too freaky," Kyle commented, taking another full step back. "Does this have something to do with Evans healing you?"

Looking up at him, Liz searched her mind for the answers. "It might. I’m not sure."

Kyle threw his hands up in the air. "Great. So when do I get funky flashes of my very own?" he asked sarcastically. "First I have to give up my family, my home, now my humanity?"

"Hey," Liz snapped. "It’s happening to me too. I understand how scary it is. But keep your voice down or you’ll wake Maria," she warned.

His thought process stopped when Liz mentioned Maria. "Wait a second. You said that you were touching her when you got the flashes, right?"

Liz nodded.

"So did you get them from her?" Kyle demanded to know.

Opening her mouth to answer, Liz found herself cut off by shouting coming from the living room.

"What the…. How could you… get her out…."

"Max," Liz whispered, moving herself off the bed.

"We’re not going…. Deal with it…."

Kyle’s head twisted towards the door. "That was definitely Michael," he informed her.

Nothing else had to be said. They both knew something was wrong. At the same time, Kyle and Liz bolted out the door, heading for the raised voices,

Just as Maria’s eyes snapped open.

~.~.~.~.~

5.

"You don't understand!"

"I don't need to understand, all I know is that you are way out of line! How could you do that to Maria? It's not as if you haven't screwed her up enough, you have to go and do–"

"Enough!" Calypso interrupted Max's rampage as she stepped out from behind Michael. "This isn't entirely his fault. I'm to blame as well."

"And just who are you?" Isabel asked with genuine interest from the arm of the couch, where she sat by Serena.

"I, am -"

"It doesn't matter who she is!" Max yelled. "She could be a shapeshifter. She could be anyone!." He glared over at Michael. "Why would you do something so stupid as to get close to someone you know nothing about? You did the same thing with Courtney–"

Calypso turned to Michael. "He doesn't mean Court Ry'Lan, does he?"

Michael nodded and Calypso made a face of disgust. "I should have known she'd try something–"

"What the hell do you know?" Liz yelled from the doorway to Maria's room. "You don't know anything about us!"

"And you don't know anything about her!" Michael yelled back. "She isn't a shapeshifter, she isn't FBI, and she isn't an enemy! Her name is Calypso Morgania," he reasoned. "Zan, if you would just remember, you would know exactly who she is!" He yelled again in defense, and could feel the Rath in him battling to get out.

Max's eyes widened as he took a few steps closer. "Why are you calling me Zan?! I'm Max! Do you not see what she's done to you?!"

Isabel stood up, coming forward. "Michael, your eyes…"

Michael blinked. "What?"

"They're almost, yellow..." Liz observed in a daze, her visions from Maria flashing before her eyes.

Michael stepped up to Calypso. "I'm never going to be able to convince them of anything if I keep changing back and forth, this has to stop."

"Okay, alright." Calypso said calmly, placing her hands on either side of his face, staring up into his eyes as she tried to calm him. "Just - think about things from this life. Remember things about..." She glanced over at everyone, and then back to him. "Your life here."

As Michael closed his eyes and tried to regain control, Maria wandered out of her room and saw her - the woman from her visions. She had her hands on Michael's face and his hands were rubbing up and down her arms, his eyes tightly shut. As she stepped closer, she felt part of herself snap back into place, and Liz's words finally made sense.

"What the hell is going on?"

Michael's head snapped up. "Maria?" He looked down at Calypso and then backed away a step. "Maria."

Maria turned to Liz, who was looking at her with an awe struck expression. "Is this what you were trying to tell me? That – that he's been cheating on me, with myself?" She whipped back around towards Michael. "Explain, now!"

Michael blinked in confusion and looked to Calypso. "How is she... she's not—"

Calypso backed up with him a few steps. "It's because I'm near her. Our essences are like magnetic poles – mine's attracting hers, and hers is attracting mine."

The further they backed away, the more light that was extinguished from Maria's eyes, until she stood void once again.

Liz went into an outrage. "No! You bring her back, right now!"

Calypso nodded. "That's what I'm here for, if you all will just trust me enough to do it!" She yelled and turned to Max. "You! You were King, and also my friend. You got me off the streets and into the academy, where I found Rath again. I owe you everything—"

"No! This is just insane!"

Calypso ignored him, and looked to Isabel. "And you, Vilandra – you were one of my closest friends. We would always pass notes in our lessons, remember?" As Isabel sat down again, Calypso came forward, kneeling in front of her. "I was there, when you died – just moments before Rath. You held on just long enough to tell me that you were sorry. But it wasn't your fault! Khivar tricked you. He tricked everyone. I never... ever blamed you."

Isabel’s eyes blurred with tears as she slowly nodded. "I know," she managed.

Max grew angrier behind them as Calypso moved up to Liz, saying coolly, "From the first moment I met you, I hated you. You were my father's research assistant and more of a daughter to him than I ever was. But I knew there was something right about you when I found out that you were the one that had given Rath that vision of the future. You wanted to do something to save us. Always so perfect, in every conceivable way. You didn't believe in destiny then, either."

Calypso turned back towards the room. "Your futures are not set in stone, you of all people must realize that by now." Her eyes flickered from one to the next, landing on Michael. "Destiny is what we make of it."

© 2002-2003 Roswell: The Final Chapter. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited. Any similarities to events, real or imaginary, are strictly coincidental. Roswell: The Final Chapter is in no way affiliated with UPN, the WB, Regency Television, 20th Century Fox, or Jason Katims Productions.