Melinda Metz

The Stowaway

(Roswell High-006)

[front blurb] [version history]

*** 1 ***

'He almost killed us! I can't believe you're defending him,' Max Evans yelled, his bright blue eyes burning as he glared at Michael Guerin.

Michael leaned his head against the cave's cool limestone wall, trying to get a grip on the anger building inside him. Now wasn't the time to go off. Max was his best friend. There had to be a way to get him to listen, to understand. 'Agreed, Adam almost killed us,' Michael answered, fighting to keep his voice low and calm. 'All I'm saying is that-'

'There's nothing else to say,' Max interrupted.

'And of course you're the one who gets to decide that, right?' Michael asked. 'What about Liz and Maria and Isabel? Or Cameron? Can't they speak here?'

Cameron Winger, who had been sitting quietly against the wall, looked up at the others and spoke. 'I don't want to be involved in your Psychic Friends Network discussion. It just doesn't involve me,' she said.

No one said anything. Max looked furious.

Michael glanced around the circle. His eyes locked on Max's sister, Isabel. More than any of the others, she should have a little sympathy for Adam. Adam had lived out her worst nightmare-he'd spent almost his entire life locked away in Project Clean Slate's underground compound, never even allowed to see the sun. Just because he happened to come from another planet. Just because he was one of them.

'It could have been you who grew up in the compound, Izzy,' he reminded her. The color drained from Isabel's face, even her lips getting all pinched and white. Michael knew he was hurting her, but he forced himself to go on. 'You, and Max, and me, we just got lucky. Our incubation pods were moved to the cave before the Project Clean Slate guys showed up at the crash site. We've always had each other. Adam grew up without anyone around who was… like him.' Michael's words tumbled out faster and faster. 'He's one of us. We've got to help him. There's got to be something wrong with him. He's sick or something. I know Adam. He would never have tried to hurt anyone-'

'Michael, you knew him for what, three days when you were in the compound together?' Liz Ortecho asked, cutting him off. 'I knew him about that long, too. And I liked him. I did. But who knows what the Project Clean Slate people did to him? Maybe they were able to turn him into some kind of living weapon or something.'

'That makes no sense,' Michael shot back. He could hear the anger in his voice, and he clamped down on it hard. The situation here could turn ugly… fast. He could feel it. And he wasn't going to let the group shatter because they couldn't come to an agreement about what to do with Adam. But he also wasn't going to allow anyone to create some new kind of prison for Adam, either.

That meant he had to be careful, to think before he spoke. Remember, Liz is a science head, just like Max, he told himself. If you want her on your side, you have to give her a logical argument. 'Look, if Sheriff Valenti and his Clean Slate gang had brainwashed Adam to make him an alien assassin, they wouldn't have included 'kill Sheriff Valenti!' in the mental program. It wouldn't make any sense.'

'Okay, you're right,' she agreed. 'But here's the thing.' She twisted her long dark hair into a knot on top of her head, then immediately let it fall free. 'For some reason, Adam tried to kill Max tonight. He did kill Valenti. And he torched the compound, which is pretty much the same as trying to kill all of us. Bottom line is, he's dangerous. And with his powers, we can't defend ourselves against him. Well, maybe you and Max and Isabel can. But he seems to have powers that are much more developed than yours.'

'I've seen this episode before,' Cameron announced suddenly. She shoved herself to her feet and wandered toward the back of the cave.

Michael wasn't exactly surprised. He'd only known Cameron for about a week, but she'd immediately made it clear she had zero tolerance for bull. In fact, there was something sexy about her sassiness.

'Why is she even here, anyway?' Isabel complained, not bothering to lower her voice. 'Doesn't she have a home?'

Michael knew the answer to that one. Yeah, Cameron had a home in some other state. A home she never wanted to go back to. A home that was so bad, she'd agreed to submit to tests at the compound as long as Valenti promised not to tell her parents where she was.

But that was Cameron's story to tell. Or not.

'Adam said she was in a cell near yours,' Maria DeLuca whispered. 'Does that mean she's a…' She shot a glance at Michael. It was the first time she'd managed to look at him since she and the others had broken into the compound to rescue him. Michael knew she must feel strange-there was definitely some unfinished business between them. Business Michael wasn't looking forward to finishing. Maria had told him she loved him right before he got captured. Since he'd basically been in prison, he'd gotten away with not saying much of anything in response to the L word. But now he was out, and sooner or later…

Later, Michael thought. Much later. Even for the most sensitive of guys, which he never claimed to be, now was not the time to deal with Maria and her feelings.

'Valenti was having one of the doctors do some experiments on Cameron,' he answered. 'She has some parapsychological powers. I don't know how or why or even what exactly. But I know for sure that she's not one of us.'

'You mean, one of you alien freaks?' Maria asked, her head tilted like a curious dog.

Max snorted, then broke into a chuckle. Maria and Isabel started giggling. Yeah, Michael thought. This feels more like normal.

'Look, why don't we go around the circle and each say what we think we should do about Adam,' Liz suggested. 'No yelling. No interrupting each other. Everyone gets a turn. Then we make a decision.'

'I'll go first. I think we should sedate Adam until we know for sure what his deal is,' Max said. 'Maybe I can get some info from the collective consciousness to find out a way to do it without hurting him.'

The collective consciousness. Michael hadn't even had a chance to ask Max what it was like. Max had made the connection while Michael was in the compound. Michael knew that it was like tapping your mind into the mind and experiences of an entire planetful of people and that it would increase Max's powers tenfold. But how? Man, it felt like he'd been trapped in the compound half his life, even though it had really only been about a week.

Everyone seemed a little different somehow. Especially Max. He couldn't believe Max was talking about 'sedating' Adam. He sounded like some kind of mad professor.

'You want to keep him blacked out? You? The guy who practically cries when he sees a sick mouse?' Michael snapped.

'I'm thinking about the safety of-' Max began.

'Enough!' Liz cried. 'We said no interruptions. Max told us what he thought. I agree with him. I think we'd all be in danger if there was even the possibility Adam could turn his powers on us. Now, Michael, you go.'

'I think one of us should be with Adam all the time,' he answered. 'And that's it. No prison. And no lobotomy.'

'I never said anything about-' Max interrupted again.

'Maria, you're up,' Liz said.

'Adam lived his whole life in prison,' Maria answered. 'I don't want to put him in another one. I think we should talk to him. Maybe he has an explanation for what he did. We haven't even asked him.'

'We couldn't have,' Liz reminded her. 'He practically passed out as soon as he got out of the compound.'

'After he burned it down, you mean,' Max muttered.

'Wait a minute. We're breaking the rules again,' Liz said. 'Maria, are you done?'

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