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Butterfly Dreams, Chapter 17
Reply to AlerionPosted to the RoswellSlash mailing list May 11, 2004
Max drove. That way I could concentrate on keeping him calm. 'No stars,' he said, peering up at a sky heavy with cloud, 'maybe a storm is coming.'
'You do weather now, starboy?'
'Just a feeling.'
Dropping my hand on his thigh, I said: 'You feel pretty good to me.'
'You're just saying that to get inside my pants.'
'Well, yeah, I was hoping. Later.'
'It could happen.'
Roswell slid past us. Max turned south onto 258 and we left the town and its lights behind.
'What are you thinking about?' Max asked.
'Fucking, what else do I think about?'
'Be serious. I know you think about a lot.'
'Gonna make me, starboy?'
'No not that!' I mock-squealed. 'Not that!'
'You're going to abduct me and do an anal probe. I know what you people are like. I watch South Park.'
Max looked like I'd just hit him. Great one, Kyle, I thought to myself, the one guy in the world you don't want to make jokes about abduction and torture and you go right ahead and do it.
'I'm all right.'
'Sure?' I asked.
'Sure.' But he didn't speak again until we were miles outside town. The low cloud made it too dark to watch anything but the road. 'That was weird, ' Max said suddenly, 'listening to Liz talk as if I'd told her I had to be with Tess.'
'After all that, how do you feel about her?'
'Angry. Scared. I don't like to think about my kid being in her hands.'
'I meant Liz.'
'Kyle,' he turned his head to look at me, the dark eyes unreadable in the night, 'the part of my life before you is over. That won't change.'
'I know,' I said.
'I haven't thought Liz' story through yet.' Max' hands clenched round the steering wheel, then slowly relaxed. 'I don't know if I can do this, Kyle, I can't do what they want me to do.'
'Not on your own, but now you've got me.'
'I know you help me a lot. More than anyone else ever has.'
'Sometimes even the smallest person can change the fate of the world.'
'Where'd that come from?'
'I downloaded the trailer for this movie we're going to see.'
'Are you saying I'm small?'
'Changing the subject by talking dirty is my trick, Max.'
Max sighed, glanced at me and asked: 'What do you think?'
'I think by 2014 you would have seen Tess for what she is. We all would.'
'Are you saying Tess faked everything, faked this Future Max thing? It's just so weird that Liz could believe someone else was me.'
'Max, trust me, I won't ever do that. Liz said she believed the story because Future Max knew what you were about to do.' I tightened my hand on his thigh. 'Anyway, I'd know the difference.'
'Tess could have done the whole thing easily. Tess could have made Liz believe it was me. Fuck, Tess could have made me hire that band and then said it proved she knew about my future. She could do it to you.'
'She couldn't. I know what you feel like. If someone turned up claiming to be me, would you know the difference?'
'You say the connexion we have is stronger than anything you'd ever experienced before.'
'Kyle, I hate putting you in danger.'
'I know, but it's not up to you. It's up to me and I'm hanging around,' I said. 'So tell me what you think about Liz' story.'
'The Future Max story was a lie. Tess didn't want to help us fight off an interstellar attack, she wanted to get at me.'
'It's not all bad. Tess doesn't know as much as she says. If you ask me, none of them do.'
'Who? The Skins?'
'They took years to find you. Even Nasedo wasn't sure it was you when he and Tess came to Roswell. They didn't know where the Granolith was or what it could do. They didn't know Liz could do that astral projection thing when you were in New York.'
'They didn't have much trouble tricking us. Tess didn't.' Max slammed an open palm into the dashboard. 'I wish I'd seen what she was doing to Alex.'
'Makes two of us, Max, but think about it.'
"Think about what?'
'They didn't even know enough to cover their tracks. We caught Tess out over the mindwarp.'
'They didn't expect Liz to work it out. They didn't think you could break the mindwarp.'
I shuddered, thinking of how Alex died. 'Maybe Tess doesn't know as much about your planet as she claimed.'
'Think about it. Nothing we've seen has been anything like what Tess' told you. Think about the shit she pulled on you with that star Liz says is you can't see with the naked eye because it's too faint.'
'I guess... I don't like thinking about Tess.'
'Some time you have to, Max. We have to. Ever think what happens when she reaches your home world? She could be there right now.'
'You really think that?'
'No. Not yet,' I said. 'I think we'd know, somehow. Max, I just had an idea, but you won't like it.' Max stared at the road. I said: 'You can exchange memories with people. You need Liz' memories'
'You want me to make a connexion with Liz?'
'I said you wouldn't like it.'
'How do you feel about it?'
'I don't like it at all, but you have to do it.'
Max said: 'Liz might think it means something else.'
'I'm going to make a point of holding your hand while you do it.'
Maria's car was parked beside the road. They were waiting when we pulled up. Maria looking apprehensive, Michael and Isabel both grim. Liz to one side, face shadowed.
'I told you,' Max said to Michael, 'Riverdog's message was for me and Kyle.'
'Doesn't work that way, Maximilian' Michael said.
'Why, because you can't trust us?'
'We trusted you when you were with Tess.'
'Michael, you're my best friend, but don't ever compare Kyle and Tess in my hearing again.'
'Um...' Michael started, but Isabel broke in: 'Why Max? Why is Kyle different?'
There was a little gasp of breath from Liz's direction, but I think only I heard it. Max was too angry.
The three of them stood in a tight circle, backs to the rest of us. 'Because he is, Isabel, and you know it.' Max shifted his glare from Michael to isabel. 'You should know it better than anyone but me.' 'Or you should by now,' Max stared the two of them in the face, not a muscle moving in his own.
'Can we just all calm down? Maria said, opening her purse. I could see us all sniffing cypress oil any moment now. Then I noticed a tall guy, with spiky hair, standing on the on the far side of the road.
I tapped Max on the shoulder. 'We've got company.' His hand came up to cover mine and hold onto it.
'Eddie' Max pulled me after him and crossed over. 'This is Kyle.'
Eddie looked over Max shoulders as the others followed him. 'Riverdog will only see two of you, just Max and his friend.'
'No way,' Michael growled. 'It could be a trap.'
'Kyle would know,' Max told him.
'Michael,' Isabel said, 'he would. I hate saying this, but Buddha Boy's changing.'
'Riverdog is waiting,' Eddie said and moved off without looking to see if we followed. The wind came up just then, and moonlight fell across the desert. Our shadows stretched out in front of us. I listened, but there were no footsteps behind us.
'Jock Boy,' Michael yelled, 'if Max gets whacked up there I'll come after you.'
'We'll wait for you here, little brother,' Isabel called out.
I looked around. 'Where's Eddie gone?'
Max shrugged. 'We have to find our own way. There's a cave up on that ridge.'
We started to climb the ridge. I slipped, put out a hand and snagged it on something sharp.
'Let me heal that,' Max said.
'No, leave it for now.'
An owl hooted twice somewhere ahead of us. I looked that way and saw a cave mouth I hadn't noticed before. 'That's it, isn't it? ' I asked.
'Liz found it the first time I was here.' He pulled me inside. ' Come on.'
I thought we were alone at first. It was just a hole in the rock like any other desert cave. A low fire smouldering in the centre made it hotter than outside. The walls glimmered red in the dimness. A shelf one one side was covered with bowls, some dried plants, a stub of candle. I couldn't see clearly in the dark. I thought we were alone until Riverdog spoke.
'Sorry,' I said, 'I don't remember ever meeting you.'
'I have not met you before. Only Max.'
'Why'd you contact us?' Max said.
'You won't believe me if I say I felt a strange disturbance in the force?'
Max shook his head. 'No.'
'Then I have to ask what you think about ghosts.'
'You know who I mean.'
'Yeah, I guess we do.' Max sighed. 'Alex.'
'You need to let him know that he can go free. It's not good for him to stay so long.'
I'm in love with an alien king who can beam me up at will. I should be used to this stuff but the hair stood up on the beck of my neck.
'You're noisy, too,' Riverdog said.
'What do you mean?'
'I watch the sky at night. I talk to the ancestors. The ancestors are silent when two boys in a nearby town suddenly start making more noise than a thunder storm.'
'We, uh, didn't know,' I mumbled.
'You know about our dreams?' Max' ears had both gone supernova.
'Only that they're intense.' A smile ghosted across the old man's face.
'Could you, um...'
'I cannot teach you to shield yourselves. Only you can do that. I think I can show you how to use what Nasedo called the balance'
Riverdog gazed at max for a second. 'I told you once that I used the alien stones to heal Nasedo.'
'His fever lasted many days. He said a lot of things I could not understand. He spoke about a betrayal, as if there was something he'd done, a great wrong that could never be forgiven.'
'Nasedo was our protector but he made a deal with our enemies.'
'Are you sure who your enemies are?'
'They call themselves Skins.'
'Nasedo never spoke about Skins. He feared someone he called the Reds, but I never knew who he meant.'
Riverdog laughed, a good sound in the cave's dark heat. 'Remember how long ago it was. I thought once he meant the Red Scares.'
'Kyle, it's your colour thing,' Max said.
Riverdog said: 'What colour thing?'
'In our dreams things have started turning white when Max is around.'
'We don't know, but we think it's important, somehow.'
Max added: 'It's happened when we're awake as well.'
'Do you want to learn how to use the balance energy?'
'We don't have the healing stones with us,' Max said.
'The stones are just a tool.' River Dog clapped his hands once and then spread his arms to include both of us. 'the two of you are more important.' he took a bundle of dried sage, lit it from the fire, and breathed the smoke. 'You were with someone different before, Max, a young woman.'
'We're not together any more.'
'She found her own path?'
Max took my hand, long fingers intertwining with mine. 'Kyle found his way to me.'
'Are you sure this man deserves your trust , Kyle?'
'Yeah, I guess.' I glanced sideways to catch Max smiling.
Riverdog threw something on the fire. White smoke rose in a thick column and spread through the cave. Instead of coughing, I felt clearer somehow. 'Kyle, take a step forward.'
Outside I heard something small scurrying over sand. We both took a step closer to the fire. 'Give me your hand, Kyle.'
When I gave Riverdog my left hand he said: 'No, the one bleeding.'
Riverdog led me around the fire twice, chanting something too low for me to catch, and then put my hand in a ceramic bowl I thought was filled with water. The sting in my hand told me I was wrong. 'Now you, Max' he ordered, passing him the bowl. Silver light flared out of Max' hands as soon as he touched it.
The brilliance grew until it hurt my eyes, then died without warning. Riverdog took the bowl from Max. Whatever was in it had turned white. And my hand had healed.
Riverdog poured the glowing liquid into an bottle and rammed a cork into it. Somehow I'd expected something more exotic than an old tequila bottle, but that's what he used.
'Do we take that with us?' Max said.
Riverdog shook his head. 'No, it is too dangerous. Let me keep it here for a little while. You will know when you need it.'
'Is there anything more you can tell us?' Max asked. 'I want to know about where I come from.'
Riverdog shook his head and said: 'Your friends are waiting.'
We walked out into blazing moonlight, a wind driving the last of the cloud cover. In the desert the stars can look as they if they are only a couple of feet above your head. Max' smile was almost brighter than the moon.
'I feel good,' he said. Waving his hand down at the cars on the road he called: 'On your mark.'
'No way, Josť' I laughed. 'the last time we raced out here I ended up with a broken leg.
Max put his arms round me and jammed his lips against mine. 'And me.'
'Yeah, that too.' I kissed him back. His mouth tasted of sage.
'Do you regret anything?' Max asked.
'Only that I ended up with an alien who asks really stupid questions.' We walked down to the road, arms around each others' shoulders, to face the music.
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