Answers of the Unsatisfactory Kind

The back door opened. Michael leapt up and spun around, ready to confront Max and Liz. He noticed Maria doing the exact same thing.

He was glad they had finally arrived, for more than one reason. Of course, he was very relieved to see Max and Liz were still safe, and he couldn't wait to hear what had happened, but he was also very happy for the distraction they brought. He now had something other than Maria DeLuca to think about. Something to obsess over other than that kiss they shared.

"What happened?" he demanded.

Max didn't answer. Instead his eyes scanned the room, looking for something. "Where's Izzy?" he asked.

"She left a couple hours ago. She got bored waiting," Michael said.

"I suppose she took the jeep," Max half asked, half stated.

"Of course."

"Maria?" Max started.

Maria nodded and they all headed out to her car.

No one said anything until they reached the Evans' house. Michael got out, slammed the door shut behind him and entered the house, through the front door for once. Max stopped to say thank you before following his friend.

Isabel was waiting for them in the living room.

"My room," Max said before she could ask anything.

Max and Isabel collapsed on his bed when they reached his bedroom, but Michael remained standing, his arms crossed.

"What happened?" he asked again.

"He knew the other alien," Max said.

Michael straightened up. "What?" he exclaimed. "Who is he? Where is he? Why hasn't he - "

"Hold on," Max interrupted. "I don't know. River Dog knew him forty years ago. He hasn't seen him since he killed Atherton."

"Wait a minute," Isabel said. "The author? He killed the author?"

Max nodded. "I'm quite sure he was the one in the picture Valenti showed Liz. It was November, '59."

"Unless, of course, Atherton was just one of the many humans he killed," Isabel muttered bitterly.

Michael turned and glared at her. How could she even think such a thing. "What if it was self defense? How do we know if Atherton wasn't about to turn him over to the feds?"

Max placed his hand gently on Michael's arm to calm him down. "That's exactly what I asked," he told them. "River Dog didn't know what happened. He did, however, bring me to a cave. The other one wrote something in there. Something for us."

Michael, who after pacing restlessly for several minutes, sat down, jumped up again. "What was it?" he asked, his eyes and mouth both open wide with amazement and anticipation. His breath was caught in his throat. He couldn't breathe.

Max closed his eyes and bit his lips. "I don't know," he said, shaking his head sadly. "I recognized it, but I couldn't understand it."

Michael exploded. "What do you mean? How could you not understand it."

"Settle down, Michael," Isabel hissed. "Mom and dad are downstairs. We don't want them coming up here."

"When can we go back?" Michael asked, his voice down in a hissing whisper.

Max suddenly seemed to find his shoelaces very interesting, judging by the way he was staring at them.

"Max," Isabel asked with a peculiar tone, "What do you mean?"

"River Dog doesn't like us. He only showed me the cave because he promised the other."

Michael stood still for a minute, absorbing everything. Then he kicked the chair in disgust and stormed out of the room.

Neither Max nor Isabel followed him, something he was grateful for. He needed some time alone. Some time to think about everything. About how close he'd been to finding out about his past.

Tears formed at his eyes and Michael blinked them away. He was furious. At Max, at Izzy, at Liz and Maria. Most of all, he was mad at himself. He was mad at having his hopes raised once again, only to be smashed into a million pieces.

He was so upset he almost missed the car following him, staying back a couple blocks trying to be inconspicuous. He pulled his jacket closer around them. Suddenly he felt very cold.

The End