Happenstance (CC,MATURE/ADULT) Part 71 [WIP]

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Angel
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Happenstance ~M/L C/C~ Pt. 11 added 8/22

Post by Angel » Fri Aug 22, 2003 7:48 pm

Part 11

As the limo barrels down a stretch of highway, Michael looks out the window at the passing landscape. He never felt that Roswell was home to him but the feeling he’s getting is almost like he’s returned home. The truth is, he’s a little lost without Isabel and Max. They’ve been together their whole lives and being with these…strangers…is foreign to him. He feels lost.

“You done well for yourself, Cal.” Zan looks around the limo and at the expensive suit Cal is wearing.

Maria sees a look cross Cal’s face that looks like a mixture of annoyance and…regret? She still doesn’t know what’s going on, but she’ll give them a few minutes to fill her in before she blows a gasket.

“Yah.” Is all Cal says to Zan. He picks up his cell phone and is soon talking to someone on the other end about securing a location and accommodations for six. When he hangs up, he pushes a button on his seat and says, “Stephanie, call and have my things sent. After I get settled here, I need you back at the office.”

Michael is startled by the sound of “Yes, sir.” coming from a speaker in the ceiling.

Cal sits back in the seat and starts absently playing with the ring on his pinky finger as he stares at some unseen point in front of him. Finally, he turns to Ava and says, “I’m assuming there’s a good reason for you to tote humans with you?”

Maria looks offended and opens her mouth but Alex elbows her and gives her a look telling her to be quiet.

“They insisted and I didn’t have time to argue. They know…they’re friends of the girl…the new queen.” Ava tells him before continuing. “This all went down quick. They was gonna go to the cops.”

“So what’s the sitch?” Cal asks.

“We was hangin’ low until early this morning the shifter told me about the awakening. He got her quick…shifted into the king to get her back to our place. But he found out that even though the king claimed her, they didn’t do the deed. No heir. That was pretty funny, actually. He was pissed.” Ava grins at the memory before continuing. “Didn’t take long for the king and his crew to show up…they got Isabel and the king and I bounced.”

“And she’s completely human.” Cal says this…more of a confirmation than a question. “Interesting.”

“Yah, turns out he didn’t even know he did it.” Ava adds.

“Who is she…this human girl?” Cal asks, but then holds up his hand. “Wait, now I remember. I knew she looked familiar. Liz Parker…right?”

Ava nods and says, “The one he…”

“The one he healed back when you were kids.” Cal nods, finishing her sentence. “I see.”

Alex speaks up then. “How do you know that?”

Cal looks at Alex and studies him for a moment. “Alex Whitman, I presume.” When Alex nods in confusion, Cal says, “Well Alex, it’s my job to know everything about my charges. That includes everyone they know or come in contact with.”

“Ok, this is too much.” Maria throws her hands up…finished with the whole waiting thing. “Who…or what are you? You’re their protector…and a producer? I mean, the last time I saw you was at the Vanity Fair Oscar party. You can’t be an…alien. I just…I don’t believe it.”

“Maria.” Alex warns, afraid she’s going to piss someone off. And that’s the last thing he wants to do considering they’re in a car full of aliens who could probably zap them or something.

“Believe it.” Cal says to her seriously, before a smile overtakes his face. “But that was some bash, wasn’t it? Can you believe that dress Donatella designed for Nicole?”

“Oh man…that was hideous. I felt kind of bad for her.” Maria sits back, remembering the party before getting back to the subject. “But…I don’t understand. If you’re supposed to be their protector, why don’t you…oh, I don’t know…protect them?”

“Good question she has there, Cal.” Zan says with a sneer. “I’m dyin’ to hear your answer.”

“Hm, interesting choice of words, Zan.” Cal turns to Maria and says, “Let’s save this conversation for later, shall we? I think we have more important things to worry about right now.” He looks at Ava and says, “So, I saw ten skins plus Nicholas, is that about right?”

Ava nods and says, “But they need the heir, right? And they definitely don’t have that. Liz isn’t pregnant.”

“The heir isn’t as important as they think.” Cal says. “But that’s beside the point, I saw her…she’s pregnant.”

“What?!” Maria and Alex exclaim at once. “No she’s not…she’s definitely not. I would know…she wasn’t pregnant this morning!” Maria continues.

Cal looks at his watch and says, “Well, from what I hear it only takes a few minutes. Looks like the king got lucky today.”

Maria looks at him in horror and says, “Oh my God…I’m gonna be sick. He raped her…he had to!” She says this to Michael accusingly.

“Don’t yell at me, I didn’t do it.” He holds his hands up.

Ava searches for an explanation. Liz was not pregnant when she was there. She’s positive. “He must have made them do it on the plane…probably threatened to kill them, or Isabel.”

Alex puts his arm around Maria as she clamps her hand over her mouth, nauseous. “Oh God, poor Liz. Kidnapped and raped by aliens. She must be so scared…what a nightmare…Alex, that bastard raped her and who even knows how aliens have sex? What if it was like, excruciatingly painful…Liz can’t handle pain…”

“Would you shut up?” Michael demands, unable to listen to her lunatic ravings anymore. “We have sex like normal people. And Max would never do anything to hurt Liz…he’s been in love with her since we were kids. He’d kill himself before he touched a hair on her head.” Michael turns to Cal and says, “It’s just not possible. I know Max. He wouldn’t do it.”

“You’d be surprised at what people can do with the right motivation, kid.” Cal says. “The fact is, she’s carrying the heir…that means we’re on a tight clock.”

~~~~~~~~~~

The silence was deafening and Liz’s panic is turning into a giant knot in her stomach. Plus she can feel cramps coming on. Well, there goes that. Hopefully the shape shifter won’t notice right away. She can see the desert through the windows in the back doors and feels a pang of homesickness. Her parents are so close…will she ever see them again?

When the van stops, Liz is surprised to see they’re in the middle of nowhere. Someone opens the doors and they all spill out, stretching their legs. Looking around, she sees nothing but sand and rocks. “What is this place?” She asks, wondering if Isabel or Max know.

“I don’t know.” Max says as he, too, looks at their surroundings. Suddenly the scene changes and he sees himself, standing up on the large outcropping in front of him. He’s holding Liz and standing around them are Isabel, Michael, Maria, and someone he doesn’t recognize. But everything looks different, broken…like the rock was blown apart from the inside and they’re all covered in dust. As quickly as it was there, it’s gone and Max shakes his head.

“Max? Are you ok?” Isabel asks, seeing that he looks disoriented.

He glances down at her, then back at the rock. “Yah…I’m fine.”

A handful of skins and the shape shifter start walking toward the large rock outcropping in front of them. He turns to them and says with a grin, “I trust you won’t go anywhere.”

Max narrows his eyes at him and turns his back toward him. He starts pacing, kicking rocks as he walks. Noticing the other skins sitting on the ground, he assumes they’ll be here for a while.

Liz and Isabel watch him pace back and forth for a few minutes before Liz sits on a nearby rock grimacing in pain.

Isabel rushes over to her and says, “What is it?”

Max walks over and looks down at Liz sadly, meeting Isabel’s questioning gaze.

“It’s ok…I’ll be fine. Just cramps.” Liz says, taking a deep breath.

“Cramps? But…” Isabel says, confused. She looks up again at Max and says, “Do something, Max.”

Max frowns and says, “She’s not pregnant, Isabel. We just altered a few things to make it seem that way.” He turns to Liz and says, “I can help with the pain…if you want.”

Liz shakes her head and says, “No…that’s ok. I can do it.” They watch as she glances over at the skins to make sure they’re not watching and she places her hand on her abdomen, trying to get rid of the pain.

“So…you didn’t…” Isabel asks.

Max shakes his head and says, “No.”

“But, Nicholas saw it…he said that you did.” Isabel doesn’t understand.

“We connected…made a shared memory. A fake memory for Nicholas to see.” Max said, sliding down to the ground next to the rock. “It’s all we could think of…we had to do something. They were gonna kill you if we didn’t.”

Isabel sags in relief and says, “Wow. That’s…amazing. I can’t believe you thought of that…and that you could actually do it. How did you know it would work?”

“We didn’t.” Max says simply and Isabel swallows, understanding now the stress and anxiousness she saw on their faces when they came out of that cabin on the plane. She looks at Liz for a moment and says, “Thank you.”

Liz nods and looks over to the outcropping to see the shape shifter and skins climbing up the side. “What do you think is in there?”

Max follows her line of sight and says, “I have no idea. But we need to think of something…quick. Before he realizes that you’re not really pregnant.”

“Well, there’s only five of them over there.” Liz says, looking at the group sitting about 50 feet away. “Maybe we could take them and take the van while the others are up there.” She glances up to the rock face where the shape shifter is still climbing.

Isabel snorts. “Right…we’ll just hide behind you and you can blast them.” She softens at the look on Liz’s face and says, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to…I just don’t think we can overpower five aliens who all probably have more advanced powers than us. Plus, you’re the only one with any fire power.”

Liz sighs and thinks about it more. “I wish we knew what their capabilities were.”

“Maybe we could find out.” Max says, looking toward the group.

Isabel furrows her brow and says, “What are you talking about? They’re not going to tell us.”

“No, but maybe we can make them use their powers.” He stands up and dusts off his pants. “We can’t just sit here and wait for the others to come back. This is our only opportunity.”

“What are you thinking, Max?” Isabel is getting nervous at the sound of his voice. She’s hoping he’s not planning anything stupid.

“Maybe I can draw them away…give you two a chance to get in the van and leave.”

“No!” Isabel exclaims. “I’m not leaving you here.” She looks at Liz and says, “Tell him it’s a stupid plan.”

Instead, Liz asks, “And how are you gonna get away?”

Isabel glares at Liz and turns to Max. “Max, stop it. I’m not leaving you here…we’ll think of something else.”

“They won’t kill me. They need me, Isabel. You’re the one that’s expendable…you need to get out of here, both of you.” He sees Isabel about to argue again and he says, “They can’t take off without me and my child so they can’t kill me. I’ll find a way to get away later, but for now you two can make it.”

“No.” Isabel whispers. “There has to be a better way…something else we haven’t thought of.” She looks pleadingly at Liz but Liz is just staring into the distance…silent.

Liz looks at Max’s profile, sees how serious he is about this. But Isabel is right, there’s something they haven’t thought of. Her. She stands up and sees Max and Isabel turn to look at her. “Isabel, can you get that van started without keys?”

“Yes, but…” Isabel says, starting to protest.

“You and Max are leaving. Get whatever firepower you can get and come back for me…you’ll be able to find me no matter where they take me. They won’t kill me, either. The need me, too.” She says this last part to Max who has already stood up in front of her. “Isabel’s right. I’m the only one with any firepower, and I’m the only one that can draw them away from you.”

“No. You’re not staying.” He says forcefully. There’s no way in hell he’s leaving her here.

Ignoring him, she says, “I’m gonna get them as far from the van as I can and when I say so, get out of here…as fast as you can.”

“You can’t seriously think I’m gonna let you do this.” Max says, blocking her way.

She maneuvers around him and starts walking toward the van, Max and Isabel running after her. “Liz, wait. What are you doing?” Isabel calls after her.

When she feels Max reaching for her arm, she turns and sends a small pulse of energy toward him to push him away and he flies back…stumbling to the ground.

This gets the other’s attention as she continues to walk toward them. Scared, but determined, she watches them stand up and she walks right by them, continuing on into the desert.

“Hey…where do you think you’re going?” One of them calls out after her as he jogs to catch up with her. The others turn to face her and slowly take a few steps in the direction she’s walking. Throwing her hand back, she blasts the guy following her and he flies back into the others. When she sees them all scrambling to get up and give chase, she starts running and smiles as she gives them the finger.

Max gets up quickly and starts to shout but Isabel clamps a hand over his mouth. “Shut up! Look…it’s working. They’re all following her. Isabel drags Max with her toward the back of the van as Max watches helplessly. Liz has blasted two more of them…the ones closest to he and Isabel.

“No.” He wrenches his arm away from Isabel but she moves in front of him.

“Max…come on. You can’t help her if you’re here with her. She can take care of herself.” Isabel grabs his arm again as she fumbles with the door latch.

From the distance, he hears her yell, “Go!” All heads turn to look at Max and Isabel then as they realize what’s going on. They stop and point toward him. He hears someone shout, “Get them!” But Isabel is dragging him into the van and shutting the door. He flies to the front to see out of the windshield and sees everyone running toward the van as Isabel gets the engine started.

In the distance, he sees Liz stop when she realizes no one is chasing her anymore. She puts her hand above her eyes, shielding them from the sun and watches the van come to life. One of the skins gets pretty close to the van and Liz raises her hand, blasting him so hard the guy disintegrates into dust. Gape jawed, Max shouts at Isabel, “We can get her. Drive over there and we’ll pick her up.”

He flies to the door and starts to open it when he feels a jolt and the van skids…rocking back and forth. “What happened?”

“One of them hit us. We have to get out of here, Max. They’re getting closer and Liz can’t hold them back much longer.” Isabel turns the wheel, desperate to get turned in the other direction.

Max looks back out the windshield and sees Liz bent over, hands on her knees in exhaustion. She looks up at him again and he sees her mouth form the word ‘go’. One guy and Isabel’s double fall back and make their way back to Liz, grabbing her arms and dragging her closer to the rock outcropping. Two guys and the blonde girl continue to chase them down and when he sees the blonde stop and close her eyes. Suddenly everyone disappears but Liz. She’s just standing there, waving at him to come back.

Isabel has the van turned around and they’re quickly getting further and further away. “Stop! We have to get Liz…everyone’s gone.” He’s climbed into the back and is looking out the back door windows. Turning around toward Isabel he shouts, “Did you hear me?! They just…disappeared. We have to go back for her while we still can.”

Looking in the rear view mirror, Isabel says, “I heard you. But she’s not alone Max. They’re making you see that.” As she drives, she can see the reflection in the mirror of the two guys chasing them, the blonde behind them standing still with her eyes shut tight, and further back…Liz being dragged by her double and another. “It’s not real Max.”

When he turns back around to look out the window, he sees the truth. Liz isn’t there. In the dust from the tires he can still see them chasing the van. His shoulders sag and he tries to make out Liz in all the dust and debris but can’t see her anymore. What was she thinking? He falls against the door, his forehead against the glass and feels more helpless now than he did when they were all together.

~~~~~~~~~~

“Would you stop that noise?!” Michael bellows, shoving his chair back and walking away from the table. Maria’s been tapping her fingers on the table for at least twenty minutes now and it’s driving him crazy.

Maria lifts her hand from the table and says, “Sooooory.” When she sees the look of irritation on his face, she shrugs and continues her tapping. “Oh second thought, I’m not sorry.”

Michael makes a frustrated noise and stalks off. That woman is enough to drive anyone insane. He looks around the empty building they’re holed up in and walks over to Ava, who’s talking with Zan and Cal. “So what’s the plan?”

They stop talking and look up when he speaks. Cal takes off his glasses and just stares at Michael, assessing him. According to his reports, Michael doesn’t have any control over his powers, if he can even use them at all. “You can’t help.”

Michael looks at him, anger boiling.

Cal shakes his head and puts his hand on Michael’s shoulder. “Nothing personal. But unless you have some firepower in those hands, we can’t use you.” He grabs his hat and says, “Come on you two…we have work to do.” Heading toward the door, he counts on Ava and Zan following him.

“Wait!” Maria pops up from the table. “We’re going wherever you’re going.”

“I don’t think so. You stay here…” He sweeps his hand around. “with Michael. It’s probably been a while since you’ve been back home…go see the sights.”

Maria walks in front of him and puts her hands on her hips. “Look, I don’t know who you think you are, but you don’t give me orders. I’m going.” She walks over and grabs her bag. “I mean, this is Liz we’re talking about. And she’s in trouble…there’s no way in hell you’re leaving me here. With him.” Stepping back up to Cal, she looks at him, her chit jutting up with determination.

He grins and turns to the others. “Now her…I like.” Opening the door, he says, “Alright sweetcheeks, you win.” Turning to Michael and Alex he says, “Well, come on.”

Maria sends a look of triumph at Alex and he claps Michael on the back. “You gotta love her.”

They split up in two cars…the limo being too conspicuous. Michael and Ava ride in one car with Alex and Cal, Maria and Zan ride in the front car. As they turn west, Maria asks, “So you can sense Liz…like where she is?”

Cal nods and says, “Zan here will probably feel her the most, but yah. We can all feel her.”

“Wow.” She doesn’t know what to say…it just seems too weird for her. “So our plan is…” She prompts him.

“Our plan is to find them and extricate the king and the heir.” Cal says.

Maria shakes her head…the heir…whatever. At least this so called ‘heir’ is inside of Liz, so that means she’s a priority to them, too. “What about Isabel?”

“She’s expendable.” He says simply.

She slumps back into her seat. “How can you be so…”

“Inhuman?” He finishes for her, turning around to look at her. “Because I am. Not human, that is. Not even part human like these guys. I have only one mission to carry out and that’s what we’re doing here.”

“Your mission? But we have to save all three of them, right?”

“Look Maria, I’m not the good guy here…I’m not the rescuer come to save the damsel in distress. I’m an unlucky schmuck who got stranded on this planet. It’s a nice planet…I like it here. Unfortunately, I have this fucking programming built into me to protect the royal four…above all, the king and any of his offspring. I don’t like it, I don’t wanna be here. But there you go. So if we can’t get Isabel without jeopardizing the king, then she’s on her own.”

Maria looks out the window and shakes her head. They’re screwed.

“So that guy’s our protector?” Michael asks Ava in the next car.

“He’s our protector. Me, Zan, Lonnie & Rath. You had your own protector.”

“The one we’re after. Seems like they did a shitty job of filling the position of protector on our planet.” Michael watches the scenery…memories of driving along this very road a hundred times in Max’s old jeep resurfacing. He sees himself riding next to their car, on a motorcycle. He’s turning around and smiling at…Maria…who’s riding behind him with her arms wrapped around him. What the hell? He leans his forehead against the glass, convinced he’s hallucinating. It looks like Maria, but she has long hair…and she’s smiling back at him. He watches as she lays her head down on his back and scoots forward to hold him closer and the vision before him disappears.

He turns to Alex and says, “Did you see that?”

“See what?” Alex follows Michael’s line of sight out the window and looks back at him. “I didn’t see anything.”

Michael frowns and as they pull up to a four way stop, he thinks he’s seeing things again. In the fading light, the chick driving that van almost looks like Isabel. Sitting up and rubbing his eyes, he tries to get a closer look.

“Holy shit!” He exclaims as the van passes them. “Turn around…that was Isabel!”

“What?!” Both Ava and Alex say at once, turning around to look at the speeding white van. Ava slips the car into reverse and pulls a u-turn in the middle of the road. “Call the other car…tell them what we’re doing.” She yells at Alex.

He fumbles for his phone as Michael shouts at Ava to hurry up. Barely able to make his finger work, he finally hits the speed dial for Maria’s phone.

“What are you guys doing?!” She yells into the phone. He can see her through the windshield turning around in the backseat of the other car. He can vaguely see Cal and Zan craning their necks to look at them.

“Michael just saw Isabel driving that white van that just passed us. We’re following.” Alex tells her. As his car turns around, he hears Maria repeating to Cal and Zan what he just said. A moment later she says, “Ok, but they still feel Liz is this way. We’re going…you stay with Isabel. Call me when you know for sure.”

“Ok…be careful.” He tells her before ending the call. “She said that Liz was still west…they’re going that way.”

“Yah, I don’t think she was with Isabel…I didn’t feel her.” Michael agrees. They finally catch up to the van just as it’s pulling into a convenience store parking lot. Michael jumps out of the car before it’s even at a complete stop and runs up to the van.

Isabel screams when she turns her head and sees someone standing outside of her window. When she realizes it’s Michael, she throws the door open. “Michael! Oh my God!” She pulls him to her in a hug and asks, “What are you doing here?”

Michael hugs her back and looks over her shoulder and breathes a sigh of relief when he sees Max. “I came to rescue your asses, but it looks like I’m too late. Hey Maxamillion, it’s good to see you.”

Max just nods and gets out of the van on his side. As he walks around, he sees the girl from New York getting out of the car behind them…and Alex Whitman?”

Alex walks up to the van and looks inside, disappointed not to see Liz in there too. “Where’s Liz?” He asks Max.

Isabel lets go of Michael and says, “They still have her.”

Incedulously, Alex says, “So you just took off…leaving her there? Unbelievable.”

“It wasn’t like that. Alex…she…she made us go. She helped us get away so we could go back for her.” Isabel sees his face turn red with anger.

“And how do you know they just won’t kill her?” He demands.

“They need her alive…they think she’s pregnant.” Isabel tells him.

Alex clenches his jaw and says, “So it’s true.” He turns on Max and punches him in the face. “You bastard!”

Max looks in surprise at Alex as he turns into a bloody, mangled mess. Max falls to the ground, not believing his eyes. What’s happening to him? Alex is still standing in front of him, but he’s covered in blood…so much blood.

“Alex!” Isabel cries as she drops to the ground next to Max. She sees blood gushing from his nose and looks up at Alex. “He didn’t do anything. I said they think she’s pregnant, you jackass.”

Alex massages is fist and looks down at Max. “So…you didn’t…”

Max shakes his head…the vision disappearing…and says, “No.”

“Oh.” Alex says apologetically, reaching down to help Max up. “Sorry man. Cal said she was pregnant and we all just assumed…”

Max waves him off and says, “It’s alright. Who’s Cal?” He slowly makes it back to his feet, covering his nose with his hand…healing the broken cartilage. “And what are you doing here…with her?” He’s looking at Ava suspiciously. The last time he saw her, she was with his captors.

“She’s helping us. Look, a lot of shit’s happened…maybe we should call the others and tell them and get somewhere less open.” Michael says.

Max nods and says, “We’ll talk in the car. We have to go back for Liz.”

As everyone gets in the car, Alex calls Maria and tells her they have Max and Isabel. “What about Liz? Have they said anything about her?”

“Just that they still have her. Maria, she’s not pregnant. Max didn’t rape her…they just did something to make it seem like she was. I don’t know…I’ll call you when I know more.” He ends the call and Ava starts driving.

Maria closes her phone and looks forward. Thinking back to what Cal said earlier, she says, “Max and Isabel escaped. They still have Liz.” Cal nods and Zan keeps driving. She deliberately left out the fact that Liz wasn’t carrying the heir…knowing Cal’s priorities, he’d probably call it a day and just go home. She’ll do whatever she has to to get Liz back safe and sound.

~TBC~

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Angel
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Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2001 4:58 pm
Location: Kansas City

part 12

Post by Angel » Mon Aug 25, 2003 7:12 pm

Part 12

Sitting with her knees up to her chest, Liz tries to avoid looking at the shape shifter…who has been staring at her in fury for several minutes now. She looks at his feet, pacing back and forth in front of her. Pebbles fly up onto her shoes as if they too are looking for a way to escape him. He can’t hurt me…he can’t hurt me. The mantra repeats over and over in her head.

“Go get us some transportation.” He barks at Isabel’s double. He looks down at Liz and tries to control the urge to kill her. That bitch. He completely underestimated her…a mistake he won’t make again. The king is gone and to just add the cherry to the top, she’s not even fucking pregnant.

The king will be back…he’s sure of that. He’ll be back for her and they’ll be prepared this time. He looks out over the desert and thinks about going home.

Over an hour passes and Liz feels the coolness of the desert night setting in. The sun has set and they’re sitting in darkness. She’s cold, the wind chilling her exposed limbs. She wonders if Max and Isabel are somewhere close…watching…waiting, too. Waiting for an opportunity to come and get her. Or maybe they just took off. No, they wouldn’t just leave her here…she can’t believe that.

When she sees headlights, she feels a fluttering of hopefulness until she realizes it’s just the transportation they’ve been waiting for. But her eyes open wide as she suddenly sees a bridge in front of her…her and Max standing at it’s edge holding hands right before they jump over. She stands up just as the landscape turns back to normal and she stares in the distance. She feels like…like she’s just remembered something. Like she really did jump off a bridge with Max…but it’s not true. Maybe she’s just tired. As she gets shoved into the van she makes one last sweep over the desert, hoping that Max and Isabel are out there somewhere.

~~~~~~~~~~

“Where are we going?” Max asks when he sees they’re driving in the opposite direction he wants to go.

“Cal got an abandoned building on the edge of town to use.” Michael tells him.

“Turn the car around, we’re going back.” He looks over at Ava. “The others…they’re going to Liz?” When she nods he says, “Then turn the damn car around and follow them.”

“Max, maybe we need to go somewhere and regroup…think about what we’re doing.” Isabel says from the back seat.

As Ava turns around in a parking lot, Max turns and glares at Isabel. Cowering, Isabel says, “I just thought…that maybe we needed to come up with a plan. That’s all.”

Max turns back to Ava and says, “Tell me what’s happened.” He’s pieced together that when she left the apartment in New York that she must have hooked up with Michael outside.

“The short story? Cal’s our protector…not exactly a nice guy, but better than the other one. He’s with Zan and Maria in the other car.”

“And how the hell did Alex and Maria get mixed up in this?” Max asks.

“Dunno. We found ‘em at Michael’s place and they knew enough to trace Liz to you. We tried to get ‘em to stay…they insisted on comin’ along.” Ava maneuvers through the streets as she talks.

“And…Zan? I’ve heard that name…isn’t he…”

“He’s you. Your backup.” She glances over and sees the question ready to come and answers for him. “They thought he was dead…but I knew different. Lonnie and Rath tried to kill him…pushed him in front of a truck. They thought they got away with it, too. But I helped him and I kept it a secret.”

“You helped him…you mean you brought him back to life? Healed him?”

Ava shakes her head. “Nah…I can’t do that. I made them see what they wanted and pushed him outta the way of the truck.”

Max thinks about what she’s saying and studies her closely. “You can make people…see things…that aren’t there?” When she nods, he asks, “And the other one…the other you…”

“Tess.”

“Right. She can do that, too?” Max understands now how he saw what he did from the van.

“Yah. Our powers are the same. They made us just like you. Zan can heal, Lonnie can walk in other people’s heads, and Rath’s the firepower. Same as you guys.”

Michael leans forward at this and asks, “Rath? He’s the other me?” Ava nods and Michael says, “What do you mean by firepower? I can’t do anything.”

“Rath had to practice for years to get it under control…but you can do it.” She turns to Max and continues. “Our powers…they don’t just come to us. We have to practice, develop them.”

“But what about Liz? How does she have so much more power than we do?” Isabel asks from the back seat.

Ava shrugs and says, “I dunno. When Max healed her, he probably changed her. But after the awakening, the queen becomes really powerful. She needs to for protection.” She looks over at Max and says, “But I dunno with her…she’s human. You weren’t supposed to claim a human…Tess and me…we was created to be your mate.”

Max doesn’t know what to say to this…there’s so much information that he’s trying to process. “Oh.” Is all that he can manage.

“Hey…no hard feelings. I was never really into bein’ the queen…that was Tess’ deal. She’s spent her whole life waiting for you. I kinda feel sorry for her.” She drives for a few blocks before saying, “Nah…you know what? I don’t. She deserves whatever she’s got comin’.”

“I hate to break up the history lesson here, but what are going to do to get Liz back? I mean, that’s the goal here, right?” Alex asks from the back seat.

“What can Cal do? You think he’ll really help us get Liz back?” Max looks over as Ava shrugs.

“Can’t say. I guess the fact that he’s still on her trail means that Maria didn’t tell him Liz isn’t carrying your heir. He’s programmed to protect you and your children. If he thought she wasn’t pregnant, he’d be on his way back to L.A. right now.”

“Does he have to do what I tell him…like the other one?” Max asks.

“Yah.”

Max turns around and says to Alex, “Call Maria and give me the phone.” Alex nods and dials Maria, handing the phone to Max.

When Maria answers, Max says, “Maria, it’s Max. Let me talk to Cal.” He hears her pass the phone before he hears Cal on the other end.

“Max.” Cal says…impatience in his voice.

“How close are you to Liz?” Max asks him.

“Close. I think they’re moving.”

“Listen closely. You will find Liz and do everything in your power to protect her. You will not harm Liz, no matter what happens. Her safety comes before anything else. And getting her away from the other protector and to safety is your number one priority.” Max thinks, hoping he’s covered every angle.

Cal rolls his eyes and says, “Aw fuck…she’s not pregnant, is she?” Cal looks into the back seat at Maria and says, “You knew, didn’t you?”

Hearing Cal, Max adds, “You won’t hurt Maria or Alex either. If either one of them is harmed, you’ll answer to me. Do you understand everything I’ve just said?”

Turning back around and closing his eyes, Cal says, “Yes, sir.” Disdain dripping from his voice.

“Stay on them, and we’ll catch up.” Max says before ending the call. He looks over at Ava and sees a smirk on her face.

“You’re learnin’.” She says, her eyes on the road.

Cal closes the phone and stares forward. Fuck. Looking over at Zan, he’s not surprised to see Zan grinning.

“He got you by the balls Cal.” Zan says, clearly enjoying this.

“Shut up and drive.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Finally they’ve stopped and Liz tries to get her bearings. She thinks they’re out by the old soap factory, but it’s been so long…she’s not sure. There used to be parties out here all the time when she was in high school. She never went, though. Her social life was pretty much non-existent thanks to the sheriff’s attention. Looking around she thinks, ‘Where is he now…figures that when she could use a little help, he’s not hovering around.’

“Come on.” She allows herself to be pulled inside by Tess.

“What’s going to happen now?” She asks Tess, not expecting an answer.

And she doesn’t get one. Tess leads her into the middle of the large room and pushes her to the floor. “Stay.” Tess tells her…like she’s giving a command to a dog…before walking away.

Liz shivers on the floor from the cold and she hears her stomach growl. How long has it been since she’s eaten? Yesterday? Looking around hopelessly, she wishes that Max and Isabel would hurry up and get her out of here.

~~~~~~~~~~

“There they are.” Ava says, slowing the car down and pulling onto a side dirt road behind the other car. She turns off the engine and looks around. “She’s close…can you feel it?”

Max looks over at the abandoned factory in the distance and says, “She’s in there.” He gets out of the car with everyone else and approaches the car in front of them. He’s mildly shocked when he sees the short man get out…he assumes this is Cal. He’s not what he expected.

Cal just looks Max over without saying anything. Maria breaks the silence. “So what now?”

“I guess we have ourselves a little brainstorming session.” Cal says as he shuts his door. He turns to Max and Isabel and says, “I’m gonna need details from you…how many skins, names, anything. Then I’ll have a better idea of what we’re dealing with.”

Max looks up when Zan gets out of the car and his eyes narrow. So this is his double. Zan grins at him and says, “Hey. Just like lookin’ in a mirror.”

Max grimaces and says, “Not exactly.” He turns and goes to stand next to Isabel when he notices Zan eyeing her cautiously. “There were thirteen of them, including the shape shifter.”

“Browan.” Cal tells him. “He’s got his panties in a twist to get back to the home planet…I suspect he has a deal with Khivar to deliver you for execution.”

“Who’s Khivar?” Michael asks.

“We’ll get to that in a minute.” Cal says, looking to Max to continue.

“Then there was Isabel’s double, they called her Vilondra. And Tess. Michael’s double was in New York, but Liz…killed him.” Max explains, glancing at Michael.

Cal looks impressed and says, “Hey, good for her. Rath could have been trouble. Go on.”

“There were nine more…but Liz killed at least one when we were getting away. So that leaves eleven right now. The shape shifter called one of them ‘Nicholas’…he can read our minds. I don’t know much more than that.” Max shrugs and looks over at Cal.

“Ok. Let’s start with the skins. Those nine you’re talking about, including Nicholas, are different. They have powers, but they’re limited. The desert probably isn’t being friendly to their husks.” At the looks of confusion, he says, “The human form they carry is an external husk. They’re easily destroyed by hitting them hard…right here.” He turns around and points to his lower back. “That breaks the husk’s seal and they’re dust. In their true form, they couldn’t survive in this atmosphere.”

Isabel steps forward and asks, “What are Vilondra and Tess capable of? How do we get by them?”

Cal looks to Zan and Ava then. Zan looks at Isabel with narrowed eyes and says, “Lonnie, she can do what you can. She can get in your head…see what you’re thinkin’. You can’t trust anything she says…she’ll lie to get whatever she wants.”

Max steps in front of Isabel and says, “Isabel isn’t her…you can stop looking at her like that.”

“Bro, she killed you…us…twice.” He looks past Max’s head to Isabel. “She betrayed us all in our last lifetime, and she tried to do it again in this one. I’s just sayin’…you can’t trust her.”

“Enough.” Cal says. “Zan, back off. We don’t have time to worry about Isabel when we got Lonnie to deal with.”

Isabel shrinks behind Max. They all think she’s going to betray them. There’s no way she would ever do anything to hurt Max or Michael. These people think they know her…but they don’t.

Michael sees the look on her face and leans in, “Just ignore them, Is. They don’t know what they’re talking about.”

She smiles gratefully at him when Ava starts talking.

“Tess is the one we need to look out for. Lonnie…she got her own agenda and don’t listen to no one but herself. But Tess…she does whatever the shifter tells her to. I’da thought she’d give up that shit when we found out the queen was claimed and it wasn’t either one of us. But that bitch is evil. Look out for her…she’s like one of them whatchamacallits…those Japanese pilots that dive bombed their planes. She’d do whatever it takes to bring you down, even if she bites it too. She’s crazy.”

“When she’s doing…that thing…to make us see things…” Max starts.

“Mind warping…we call it a mind warp.” Ava adds.

“Right. When she’s mind warping, can you tell she’s doing it?” He asks her.

“I can tell…and sometimes Zan can tell when I’m doing it. But you probably won’t know. Once you know you’re bein’ warped, though, you can come out of it pretty quick.” She tells him.

“Yah, and I can only tell she’s doin’ it if I really focus. Ava’s right…she’s gonna be a problem.” Zan’s confidant they can take out the skins, but that shit Tess and Ava can do…there’s no fightin’ that. “Both Ava and I can put out some good blasts…plus, I got a shield. It’ll cover two…maybe three people.”

Michael shakes his head and says, “How the hell can we do this? We don’t have a lot going for us power-wise. The three of us don’t have much firepower to contribute. And what can that other guy do? The other protector?”

“You leave him to me.” Cal says. “He can’t do much to you anyway…his programming won’t let him kill you. But he could hurt you pretty bad if he wanted.” He looks at Maria and Alex and says, “You two need to stay out of this. Stay here with the cars. If we don’t come back and there’s trouble, you can take off.”

“You’re crazy if you think I’m leaving Liz.” There’s no way in hell Maria’s staying with the cars.

“Then you’ll get yourself killed…and the rest of us in the process because we’ll be busy trying to save your ass. There’s nothing you can do to help besides stay out of the way.” Cal stands his ground. He’s got enough to worry about.

Max turns to Maria and Alex. “He’s right. Please, just stay here. We’re gonna get her out of there, trust me.”

Maria eyes him skeptically and finally nods. “Alright, but if you don’t bring her back…I will kill you. Understand?”

“Don’t worry. I’ll get her out, or die trying. Besides, Liz can take care of herself better than any of us.”

Cal claps his hands and says, “Alright. Let’s get this show on the road. It’s late and I have a life to get back to.”

Max turns around and nods. “Ok, we go in quietly…try to get an idea of where everyone’s at. Ava, we need you to tell us if we’re being mind warped at any time. Michael, Isabel and I will concentrate on the skins. Zan, you get to Liz…you have a shield. Use it to get her out.” He turns to Cal. “You have to take care of the shape shifter…there’s no way we can.”

Cal nods and takes a deep breath. “Alright…but you keep an eye on him. You’re the only one here he has to listen to. You know…in case something happens to me.”

Glancing over at the warehouse, Max looks at his watch and says, “Alex, Maria…if we’re not back in thirty minutes, get out of here. Call the sheriff, the FBI…I don’t care. Anyone you can think of.”

“But Max…” Isabel grabs his arm.

He turns to her and shakes his head. “I know. But wouldn’t you rather be a government lab rat on this planet than dead on our own?”

Cal clears his throat and says, “Uh…I’ll chime in here and say a big NO. You have no idea what these humans will do to you if they get you in a cage. Believe me…you don’t want the FBI involved.” He looks at Maria and Alex and says, “If there’s trouble, just leave.”

Looking at his watch again, Max says, “Fine. Let’s just go.” He opens the trunk of one of the cars and pulls out a tire iron, motioning for Michael to get the other one out of the other car.

Maria stops Isabel and fishes her stun gun out of her bag. “Here, you might need this.”

Isabel turns the stun gun over in her hand and looks at Maria. “Thanks.”

As they walk toward the warehouse, Alex and Maria sit on the hood of the car and watch them go. Maria starts rummaging in her bag again and pulls out a pair of mini binoculars. Alex sees them and says, “What the hell do you carry around in that thing?”

She shrugs and says, “You never know.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Ok, so this is boring. Liz feels like she’s been sitting there for hours when surely it’s only been thirty minutes or so. Everyone’s just sitting around…waiting. There’re two guards by the door but other than that, they’re just sitting a few feet away from her, not even talking.

The little guy, Nicholas, was going on earlier about someone not being happy with what was going on. But since then, no one has said much. She assumes they’re just waiting for Max to come back for her. What do they think…that he’s just gonna stroll through the front door?

Closing her eyes, she tries to get her energy under control. She can feel the power thrumming just under her skin and if she has to, she’ll blast her way out of here. She was surprised earlier in the desert at her abilities. She had no idea she could do that. But ever since last night…she’s felt…powerful. And strong, considering she hasn’t eaten all day. She could probably get up and run a pretty quick mile right now if she had to.

She takes a few deep breaths and stops. She feels something…something familiar. What is that? It’s like a tug, or some kind of presence. She concentrates on the feeling, trying to focus on it more fully. Opening her eyes, she realizes what it is…Max. He’s close. Her heartbeat speeds up as she tries to casually look around the dark warehouse. Is he inside? Outside? She can feel him like light fingertips tapping her all over and it’s getting stronger.

She smiles inwardly…she knew he’d come back for her. Well, she didn’t know, more like hoped. Feeling a surge of energy, she tries to calm down and keep it under control. The last thing she needs right now is to start lighting up like a Christmas tree. Max came for her. She just hopes that he brought an army with him because there’s no way just he and Isabel will be able to get her out of this.

Closing her eyes again, she wills herself to calm down and take deep breaths. You can do this, Liz. You can get out of here and see Maria and Alex and your parents again. You can go back to your boring, normal life. Just focus.

~~~~~~~~~~

“Up there.” Isabel points to a bank of windows on the second story…a fire escape leading up to them.

Cal nods and whispers, “You, Max and Ava go up there. Zan, Michael…you’re with me.” He veers to the right, away from the front entrance and around the side. The three of them crouch down and peer in through a dirty window but all they see is mechanical equipment so they move down a little further until they see movement inside.

Max leads the way up the fire escape, going slowly so they don’t make any noise. When they reach the top, Max crouches down under the windows and peers up to see inside. He sees a large, dark room with scaffolding everywhere. There’s dirt and cobwebs on the window…this place obviously hasn’t been used in a while. There’s one light on at ground floor level and he can barely make out the shapes of several people sitting together on boxes and the floor.

Squinting his eyes, he looks for Liz and sees her. She’s by herself a few feet away from the others, sitting on the floor with her eyes closed. His heart races as he whispers what he sees to Isabel and Ava. He counts heads and only sees nine. There must be two by the door…or somewhere else. He can’t see from here. When he looks back at Liz, he’s shocked to see her looking straight at him. He flinches and quickly looks over to see if he’s been spotted. But no one else is looking in his direction and he looks back at Liz. She meets his gaze again and looks down right below him, back up at him then down to her lap where she’s folded her hand to show two fingers. She looks back up at him once more and nods her head slightly before closing her eyes again.

“There are two right below us.” He whispers. “Skins. I see Vilondra and Tess, along with Nicholas and the shape shifter.” He crouches down again before motioning for them to move down further on the fire escape. They come to a set of windows that open into a closed off room on the second level. Max studies the frame and lock and uses his powers to unlock the window. Closing his eyes, he slowly slides the window to the side…hoping it doesn’t make any noise.

“Ava, you first.” He helps Ava in through the opening and glances down through the landing to see if anyone has come outside. It looks clear and he helps Isabel through and follows her.

Isabel makes a disgusted face and frantically wipes at the spider webs that are in her hair. It looks like they’re in some kind of office. There’s a desk and chair just in front of them and file cabinets along the walls. There are two doors, which are both closed.

Max walks to the one on the right and whispers, “This one opens onto a landing and stairs that lead down to the main room.” Walking to the other door, he says, “I don’t know where this leads…I couldn’t tell.”

“We don’t wanna just walk into the main room…they’ll see us right away.” Ava says, looking at the first door.

“I guess it’s door number two.” Max grabs the knob and slowly turns it, willing it not to squeak.

Meanwhile, Cal is taking inventory from his window on the first level. He sees Browan along with Vilondra, Tess and Nicholas. He vaguely recognizes the others as skins. Just as he’s about to move away from the window, he sees Browan stand up and look around…as if he senses or hears something. “He knows I’m here.” He whispers. “We have to move…now.”

The next few minutes are total chaos. First, Cal noisily breaks the window in front of him and sends a powerful blast straight at Browan…catapulting him across the warehouse to slam into the wall. Upstairs, they hear the noise and Ava says, “Cal’s gone in…let’s go.” She grabs door number one and opens it, the three of them rushing out and down the stairs.

Three skins rush Michael and Zan and Michael ducks just in time to avoid a blast. Zan puts up his shield, catching one of the skins in it and frying them. “You take the one on the right.” He says to Michael just before lowering the shield and throwing himself at the skin on the left. Michael raises his tire iron and takes a swing at the other one.

Max, Isabel and Ava are met at the bottom of the stairs by the two skins that were right underneath them guarding the front door. Ava blasts one of them right in the chest, knocking him to the floor. She runs over and kicks him over, slamming her foot down in the small of his back. The other skin grabs Isabel just as Max barely ducks in time to avoid a blast from Vilondra.

Tess tries to run over to Liz and looks up just as a bolt from Liz hits her and sends her flying. Liz looks over and sees Max getting up from the floor and reaching for a tire iron on the floor. She sees Vilondra stalking toward him and she sends a blast directly into Vilondra’s back, sending her to the floor instead. Vilondra turns around and sneers at Liz as she gets back up. “You bitch!” She raises her arm to send a blast back at Liz, but freezes at the last moment…staring at something just over Liz’s shoulder.

Liz turns her head and her eyes open wide just as Zan grabs her and puts his shield up.

Max stands up and sees Isabel stun the skin that grabbed her with her stun gun and he moves in, hitting his back with the tire iron. When the dust settles, he’s caught off guard by a blast that hits him in the stomach. He falls to the floor and hears Isabel call out his name.

Tess has scooted over to the wall, grabbing her leg. She sees the shifter getting up not too far away from her and she closes her eyes, concentrating.

Michael finally gets his skin down on the ground, hitting him over and over again with the tire iron. When he finally sees his opening, he brings it down on his back and watches him disintegrate. Suddenly, though, he looks up and sees the room filled skins. Where did they all come from? He staggers back as two slowly approach him. “What the…”

Max looks over toward Liz, who’s shimmering behind Zan’s shield and people who seem to come from nowhere suddenly block his view. He strains to see through the crowd and he hears Isabel calling for him. Looking to the right, he sees her looking around…confused.

“It’s not real!” They all hear Ava shouting at them. “It’s not real…it’s a mind warp! Focus on what’s real!”

Max keeps his eyes on Isabel and just as quickly as all the skins appeared, they disappear. He sees Ava running to the other side of the warehouse and Isabel moves in behind Vilondra. Max staggers to his feet just as Isabel runs the final few steps to Vilondra and shoves the stun gun against her neck. Vilondra convulses and drops to the floor, Isabel leaning down, holding the stun gun to her neck.

Nicholas, hiding behind some stairs, steps out and raises his arm toward Isabel. Michael shouts at her to look out and runs to Nicholas, tire iron ready to swing. He gets there just as Nicholas fires and swings the tire iron at his side, throwing the blast off wildly. Nicholas turns and uses his powers to throw Michael back toward the window they came in.

“Enough!” They all hear a shout from the other side of the room. Heads turn to see Browan getting to his feet. “That’s enough!” He stands up and dusts himself off before looking at Cal, who’s standing right in front of him, arm raised.

“Armin. So nice of you to drop by.” He says. “Or do you prefer Cal now?”

“You’re a fool, Browan. Do you really think Khivar will let you live if you return?” Cal says to him. “He’ll have the council wipe you out as soon as he has what he wants.”

“Armin, my old friend.” He shakes his head. “You never did get it, did you? The days of the monarchy are long over.”

Cal laughs and says, “Yah, so now we’ve moved on to bigger and better things…a dictatorship. Very progressive.” He looks around him before saying, “Look what you’ve done here. Do you know what this plan of yours will accomplish…besides getting yourself killed? You bring the royal four back and you’ll make martyrs out them. It will only add fuel to a dying resistance.”

“You’re wrong. It will show the people that they’re nothing more than pitiful humans…not worth their worship any longer.” He looks at Max, holding his stomach, leaning against the stair railing. “Look at our mighty king. Powerless. Helpless.” He looks back at Cal and sneers. “Human.” He glances over at Liz and says, “A king who would pick a plain, worthless girl to be our queen.”

“You’re the one who doesn’t get it. You tell me the monarchy is over. Then why don’t you believe it? You’re as bad as the people on our planet who still worship them. They were sent here to live again…not to rule. You know as well as I do that they would never survive a trip home…that they were never meant to go home. You’ll be laughed at…bringing four corpses home with you.”

“What?” Tess slides up the wall and looks at the shifter. “But you said…you said you were taking us home. He’s lying…right?”

“No honey, I’m not lying.” Cal says, not taking his eyes off of Browan. “You’re just his ticket home. He needs the king to operate the Granolith. And he needs the rest of you to dump at Khivar’s feet.”

They hear clapping and everyone turns to see Nicholas crossing the room. “Well kiddies, as entertaining as this is, I’ve got a schedule to keep.” He walks up to Browan and says, “You’ve made quite a mess here, and I’m sorry to say that he’s right. Khivar plans on eliminating you as soon as you return. So I’ll just save him the trouble and do it myself.” He raises his hand to his chest and within seconds, the shape shifter is on the ground, clutching a burning handprint seared into his flesh.

Cal steps back, wide eyed as Nicholas turns to him and he says, “Ok Nicholas. Here’s an offer…and it’s a good one, so you just listen. I don’t wanna go home. I like it here. I don’t want any part of this, you know that. You can have the Granolith. We’ll start it for you…get it all warmed up and you can just go back by yourself.” Cal looks over at Max and asks, “That sound ok by you?”

“No!” Isabel shouts. “Max…you can’t let them have the Granolith.” All heads turn to her…most in confusion.

“What are you talking about? What do you know about the Granolith?” Max asks her.

Isabel meets Nicholas’ eyes, then looks at Max. “I just…there has to be some other way. Max, you can’t let them have it.”

“I accept the offer.” Nicholas says quickly, looking between Max and Isabel. “That is, if Max agrees. But there’s still the little problem of the Granolith needing the king’s heir on board.”

“I can fix that. I know the Granolith programming system inside and out…it can be fooled.” Cal looks at Max and says, “Well?”

Isabel starts to panic. No no no no. This can’t be happening. This is what he warned her of. If their enemies get their hands on the Granolith, they’ll destroy their planet as well as earth with it.

Max sees the urgency in her eyes and looks at Cal questioningly.

Laughing uncomfortably, Cal says to Nicholas, “Just…just give me minute here.” He walks slowly toward Isabel and Max and whispers furiously, “What are you doing? It’s just a religious relic. It means nothing to you or your life here. Give it to him so we can get out of here.”

Isabel shakes her head and looks at Max. “Max, you can’t give it to him.”

“Why not?” Max asks her, clearly confused at her determination.

“I…I can’t explain. Not now. You have to trust me.” She says, pleading with him.

Cal turns to Max and says, “She doesn’t know what she’s talking about, Max. You can end this now. Give him the damn thing and let’s go.”

Max looks at Isabel a few moments before saying, “No.”

“No?!” Cal snorts in disbelief.

Max turns to Cal and says, “No. He can’t have it.”

Cal backs away from him and says, “You idiot. You haven’t changed one bit. You made bad decisions then and you continue to make bad decisions in this lifetime.”

Nicholas, hearing how the conversation is turning, raises his arm toward Cal…preparing to kill him. “Well, I’m disappointed. I guess I’ll have to do this my way, then.”

Cal closes his eyes and waits for the fatal blow, and when he hears the blast and the sound of charring flesh he flinches…waiting for the pain. But it doesn’t come. He opens his eyes and looks down at himself…no gaping, burning wound in the chest. Surprised, he looks up and sees a pile of skin on the floor where Nicholas was standing. “Wha…” He looks over and sees Liz standing just to the right of the pile, lowering her arm.

Liz looks around and sees everyone gaping at her and says, “What? Was I not supposed to do that?”

Cal smiles slowly and shakes himself from his daze. “Sweetheart…you’re my new favorite human.” He lets out a deep breath, checking himself over again…not quite believing that he wasn’t hit. If he had a heart it’d be going a mile a minute right now. Then he looks toward the other side of the room and sees Tess and Vilondra, huddled together by the door. “Hmmm. What should we do with them?”

Zan speaks up first. “Let’s kill ‘em.” He grins at Vilondra evilly and raises his eyebrows.

“You’re a fuckhead, Zan.” Vilondra says, wincing and grabbing her back as she leans against the wall.

Michael watches the two of them…wondering how Zan and Vilondra ended up so twisted and Max and Isabel ended up with a normal brother/sister relationship. Weird. He feels like he’s in bazaaro world. He’s curious about what his double was like…he must have been pretty bad for Liz to have killed him. Maybe it’s a good thing that he didn’t meet him. Max and Isabel will probably always be thinking about what they could become.

Liz turns her head to the side, looking at Zan. When he first grabbed her, she panicked, thinking it was another shape shifter. But when she realized he was protecting her, her fear retreated and she concentrated on helping the others. Studying his profile, he must sense her looking at him and he turns his head to look down at her. She glances away quickly but can’t keep from looking back. She cocks her head to the side and studies the similarities between him and Max. When he catches her looking at him again, he makes a point to check her out…head to toe…and he smirks.

She looks away quickly and hears a short laugh come from him as he looks back at Vilondra and takes a step toward her. “Yah, I may be a fuckhead…better than a murderin’ ho’ like you.”

“Zan…stop.” Ava walks up behind him and grabs his arm. He turns and puts his arm around her protectively without taking his eyes off of Vilondra. “A’ight baby, she ain’t worth it.” He turns to Cal and says, “We killin’ ‘em, or what?”

Cal sighs and walks toward Tess and Vilondra who are trying to nonchalantly back toward the door. “You know, I’d like nothing more Zan…but you know I can’t kill them.” He turns around and looks at Max and says, “Besides, it’s up the king. What’s it gonna be, Max?”

Isabel has her arm around Max’s waist, helping him stand up. She looks down at his hand resting over his stomach and covered in blood. “Do we have to do this now? He needs help.”

“I’m fine Isabel, just give me minute and I can heal myself.” Max shakes his head. He looks at Cal and asks, “Is there anything else we can do besides kill them?”

Cal shrugs and thinks for a minute. “I could take their powers away.”

“No!” Tess cries out, her arm rising. “You stay away from me.” She grins with satisfaction…and a little desperation as she backs toward the door. “You can’t kill me. But I can sure as hell try to kill you.”

Vilondra backs away from Tess and says, “Stop it, you moron. You messin’ with trouble.”

Tess turns to Vilondra and says, “Shut up, bitch. You do what you want, but no one’s taking away my powers.”

Vilondra throws her hands up and says, “Whatevah.” She looks at Cal and says, “I say ya kill her. She’s nothin’ but trouble. I’m all for that…ya know, I’m real sorry. The shifter, he lied to us…told us all kindsa shit. Told us he was gonna protect us. I didn’t know he was gonna go apeshit and start kidnappin’ people.” She shakes her head. “I told him it was wrong…but he wouldn’t listen.”

“Save it Lonnie. You know I don’t buy your bullshit.” Cal says, turning his attention back to Tess. “Sweetheart…stop moving.” She continues to back away and he says, “I said…stop moving.” He flicks his hand at her and sweeps her off her feet with such force that she flies off the ground and lands with a crack. “That’s better.” He looks at her lying on the floor, unconscious…thinking how fragile their human bodies are.

Michael has made his way over to Isabel and Max and he says, “You guys ok?” He looks worriedly down at Max’s stomach. Max nods at him and asks, “You?” Michael looks down and says, “Yah, caught one in the leg, but it didn’t do much.”

Just then, the door bursts open and Alex and Maria come running in, carrying metal pipes…poised to fight. Maria sees Liz and cries out, “Liz!” running toward her as Alex stops…noticing that everyone is staring at them.

“Uh…hey. We thought you might need…um…help.” He shrugs and lowers his pipe. “That, and the police are coming.”

~TBC~

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Angel
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Part 13

Post by Angel » Thu Aug 28, 2003 11:06 am

wildsphinx, Welcome! And I'm oh so flattered that you chose my story to post for the first time. Thanks for reading!

Gigo, I was hoping I hadn't scared you off by leaving so much time between updates! Glad to see you...and thanks for the wonderful feedback!

Breathless, we'll be learning bits and pieces about the flashes along the way...you know I can't end a story so soon. We're only at chapter 13. ;) Oh, and don't worry...I don't think the angst factor will be as high as in Ruins. This one isn't nearly as dark. But, you know I can't just throw Liz and Max together and have it be ok. Have to have a few obstacles thrown in for fun! ;)

mitra, I wish they would just kill Tess and Lonnie, too. But that would be too easy on them. I think they'll learn more about compassion and humanity where they're going. ;)

extingman, thanks for reading! Yes, there was a small revelation a few chapters ago from Isabel's thoughts. Blink and you'll miss it. ;)

roswellluver, glad to see I didn't lose you in the long delay, too! Thanks, as always, for reading my stories and for the great feedback and encouragement!

mareli, see the note I left for mitra...we can't have them getting off that easy. :)

mlover25, thanks for the bump!

Asabetha, thanks for the great feedback...hopefully I won't make you have to wait so long from now on. Maybe Isabel will reveal all...maybe she won't. ;) Maybe she thinks that what she's doing is right, based on what she knows happens in the future. It's quite a dilemma...but we'll find out a little bit more as the story progresses.

frenchkiss70, thanks for the encouragement and the bumps!

Ner, so glad you like the story so far. Yes, Liz and Max are definitely in an abnormal situation and if you've read any of my stories before you'll know that...well, I'm a lover of the angst. ;) I'm all for the dark, violent and twisted...but not even I could have Max doing that to Liz. ;)

Michelle, Here you go...



Part 13

As Maria grabs Liz and pulls her close, Cal looks to Max and says, “We need to get out of here.”

Max looks at Alex and asks, “How far?”

“We heard the sirens and just brought the cars. Maybe a couple miles?” Alex says, rushing over to Liz and putting his arm around the two hugging girls. He looks down at them and says, “Come on…let’s go.”

Liz nods and glances over at Max before her friends lead her toward the door. There’s no time to even process what just happened. She looks back at Zan and finds herself more confused by the minute. Who is he? Why is he staring at her with that…look on his face? Allowing Maria and Alex to lead her outside, she shakes them off…letting them know she can walk on her own. She’s had enough of being led around.

“Alright, let’s go.” Cal says, nodding at Zan and Ava.

He turns to Vilondra and says, “Sorry…no room. I’m sure they’ll give you a nice cushy cell at the Unit, though.” He raises his arm and knocks her across the room, watching as she slides to the floor next to Tess, unconscious. They should be out long enough for the FBI to get here. He pulls out his cell phone and makes a quick call…ensuring their swift arrival.

Michael and Isabel help Max walk out to one car, putting him in the front seat. Michael gets behind the wheel as Isabel, Cal and Zan squeeze in the back seat. Ava gets behind the wheel of the other car with Maria and Alex in the back and Liz in the front. Looking out toward the road, Ava doesn’t see any lights, but she can hear the sirens getting closer and she nervously turns the key, whispering to the engine, “come on, come on, come on.” She breathes a shaky sigh of relief when it catches and she guns the engine, spraying rocks in her wake.

Both cars peel away from the building and make their way back to the main road. The highway is deserted at this time of night and they don’t pass many cars. Michael tenses when he sees the lights in the distance, getting closer. He slows down and three police cars pass him…only then does he slightly relax his grip on the steering wheel. He looks in the rear view mirror, making sure the others are behind and he follows Cal’s instructions to a local hotel his assistant booked for them.

“Where are they going?” Maria asks Ava from the back seat.

“I don’t know…I’m just following them. Cal’s probably got it all worked out.” Ava answers, glancing frequently in the rear view mirror to see if any of the cops have turned around. “Man, that was close.” She whispers, more to herself than anyone else. Feeling Liz’s eyes on her, she knows the feeling is mutual. Before she knows it, she’s following the other car as it turns on Main Street and pulls into the parking lot of a Fairfield Inn & Suites.

They wait in the car as Cal gets out and goes in the office…emerging a few minutes later with a handful of plastic key cards. He gets back in the car and they drive around to the back of the hotel. They all practically stumble from the cars, exhausted.

“We’re staying in Roswell?” Maria asks unbelieving as she gets out of the car and looks around. For God’s sake, her mother’s shop is just down the street. And she can see the Crashdown from here. “You’ve gotta be kidding. Half the town will recognize me, Liz and Alex. Not to mention these three.” She points to Max, Michael and Isabel. “They had their pictures plastered all over this town for years on missing posters.”

“Nobody’s gonna recognize you because nobody’s gonna see you. There’s no way we’ll be able to fly out of New Mexico right now without attracting attention. Especially with what they’re going to find back there. So sit tight and we’ll leave before dawn.”

Cal gives the keys to Zan and says, “We got all the rooms on the second floor on this side of the hotel. Take your pick.” As he walks toward the door leading inside he turns and says, “Oh, they said that Appleby’s over there will deliver if you’re hungry. I need to make a few calls, then I think we need to have a discussion.” He looks over at Max and asks, “You need help with that?” nodding at his stomach.

Max doesn’t want him touching him and shakes his head. “No, I got it.” Raising his eyebrows and shrugging, Cal walks inside.

He leaves them and Zan fans the plastic cards in his hand and walks around letting everyone take one. When he gets to Liz, he teases her…pulling his hand away when she reaches out. “I got room for ya.” He raises and eyebrow and smirks at her, making her skin crawl.

She glares at him and grabs a card for herself. Clenching her jaw, she bites back a response thinking it’ll just egg him on. She’s not sure where he fits in, but she doesn’t trust him one bit.

Zan shrugs and taking his own card, he grabs Ava around the shoulders and pulls her inside.

Liz looks up at the hotel and down to her card. Can this be real? It’s only been one day, but she feels like an entire week has passed. She’s so tired, she doesn’t think she can make her feet move. Maria tugs her hand toward the hotel and she sees Max limping toward the door, Isabel at his side.

She walks over to them and Max turns his head. “I um…I can heal that for you. You know…if you can’t.” She can tell he’s in pain.

He looks at her a moment before nodding his head. “Yah…ok. I just…I think I need to lie down.”

She nods and follows them into the hotel and to the elevator, Maria and Alex close behind. In the elevator, Maria sees Michael wince when he backs to the wall. She looks down and sees a gaping hole in his pants and blood trickling down his leg. She gasps and says, “You’re hurt.”

His head whips to her and he says, “It’s nothing…just a scrape.” He looks at her for a few moments, the vision of the two of them riding a motorcycle flashing through his head.

Isabel looks back at Michael and down to his leg. She shakes her head and says, “Maybe we should get Zan…he can heal.”

“Yah, it was real great of him to offer as these two stood in the parking lot bleeding all over the place.” Alex says, rolling his eyes.

“I can do it…really. It’s not a big deal.” Liz says from the corner quietly.

Isabel hates to ask her to do anything considering all that she’s been through. “Are you sure?”

Liz smiles slightly and nods her head. “Yah.”

The doors open and they all spill out into the hallway. Michael sees Zan and Ava disappearing into a room a few doors down…Zan slaps Ava’s butt as she walks ahead of him through the door. He hears her cry out, “Zan!” before giggling and the door slams shut.

He glances down at his key card and goes in search of the matching room as everyone else does the same.

“I’m gonna go find our rooms, Liz.” Maria says, seeing that Liz is going to follow Isabel and Max.

Liz nods and says, “I’ll be there in a few minutes.” She steps up and takes the key card out of Isabel’s hand and walks ahead of them to find her room. She stops and opens the door, standing to the side to let them walk in before she follows.

As Isabel helps Max into the bedroom, Liz stops in the bathroom and washes her hands and face. She feels like she’s been rolling around in the dirt all day. The first thing she’s gonna do when she gets to her room is take a shower. Looking up at her reflection in the mirror, she sees dark circles under her eyes. Her hair is a mess and her clothes are streaked with dirt and grime.

Taking a deep breath, she walks into the bedroom and turns the bedside lamp on. Biting her lower lip, she sits on the bed next to Max and looks across to Isabel on the other side. “It’s not that bad.” Max says, seeing the worry on Isabel’s face. “Maybe you should go in the other room.”

Isabel frowns and gives him a look that says she’s not going anywhere.

Liz grabs Max’s hand and pulls it away and both she and Isabel gasp at the gory mess that his hand’s been hiding. “Oh Max…” Isabel whispers, putting her hand to her mouth.

Liz looks up at Max’s pale face, then back down to the gaping wound on his torso. She guesses it to be about ten inches in diameter. The skin is charred and most of it has peeled away, revealing a mess of blood, skin and muscle intermixed with pieces of his shirt. He’s lost a lot of blood. “Why didn’t you ask for help sooner? You could have bled to death.” She starts unbuttoning his shirt and carefully peeling away what she can from the wound.

She looks up at him angrily and he says, “I…I thought I could take care of it myself. It’s not that bad…”

Shaking her head she puts her left hand along the side of his face and the other hand over the wound, she looks into his eyes and says, “I think you know how this works.” and gives him a small smile.

Concentrating, she easily makes a connection with him and is immediately bombarded with images. She shakes her head slightly, trying to push them away and focus on healing Max. The damage is worse than she thought when she finds internal bleeding. She feels her energy quickly being drained and tries to focus on fixing everything. After repairing the internal damage, she makes sure there aren’t any broken bones before repairing the muscle and surface tissue damage. Still feeling like something’s not right, she strains to look for something she’s missed. Images are flying at her rapidly and she finds it harder and harder to focus.

She sees Isabel and Michael as children, Max’s parents, images and places from both Roswell and New York, an office, and different places…apartments. She also sees people that she doesn’t know, people from Max’s life. Men and women in business suits. The images and scenes fly by faster and faster and she can’t filter through them to see the injuries that she knows she’s missing. Suddenly, she feels so tired and she can’t fight it anymore, she can’t see anything but people from Max’s life flying around her. She sees herself a few times…she feels his loneliness…his feelings of isolation in such a big city. She wants to cry out at the pain she feels…Max’s pain.

“Liz!” Suddenly broken from the connection, she looks up at the concerned faces of Max and Isabel…right before the room goes black and she slides to the floor.

Isabel jumps off the bed and races around the other side. “Liz!” She pulls Liz’s head into her lap and feels for a pulse and puts her ear to her chest to listen for breathing. She looks up as Max slides onto the floor next to Liz. “She’s alive. What happened, Max?”

He looks down at Liz and smoothes the hair from her face. “She drained herself trying to heal everything…she drained all of her energy into me.”

Isabel looks down at Max’s stomach and sees only drying blood. “She did it. How do you feel?”

“I’m fine.” He gets to his feet, picking Liz up and laying her on the bed. He sits next to her and continues to run his hand over her hair, smoothing it as he looks down into her face and whispers, “You can’t heal everything, Liz.”

“Should I get Zan?” Isabel asks as she gets up and stands next to them.

“Yah, tell him to go heal Michael. She just needs to rest…there’s nothing we can do.” Max says quietly, not taking his eyes off of Liz.

He barely hears Isabel leave the room as he looks down into Liz’s face. In the space of one day he’s responsible for her being kidnapped, almost killed, and threatened to be raped. She didn’t do anything to deserve it, and any normal person would have given up. But not Liz…she fought. She fought for all of them. He takes her hand and thinks how tiny she is…and beautiful…and brave. She’s everything he always knew she was. How will he live without her?

~~~~~~~~~~

Maria steps out into the hall and sees Isabel leading Zan to Michael’s room. “Where’s Liz?” She asks Isabel.

“She uh…she fell asleep.” Isabel says.

“What? What do you mean…she just fell asleep?”

Isabel nods and says, “Max is with her. She’s fine.”

Maria looks at her skeptically before turning to head to Alex’s room. She knocks on the door loudly until Alex opens it. “Maria…how did I know it was you.”

She walks past him inside and he looks out to see Isabel giving him a sympathetic smile. Shutting the door, he waits. It doesn’t take long.

“What are we doing here, Alex? I mean, we’re surrounded by aliens. And now…Liz is alone with one of them. Like she hasn’t had enough of aliens for one day. Max has her in his room…she apparently just “fell asleep”.” She uses her finger to make air quotes. “I think we need to just get out of here…maybe wait until they fall asleep.” She turns to Alex quickly, with wide eyes and asks, “Do you think they even sleep? I mean, they could like, do anything to us while we sleep. God knows what Max is doing to Liz right now.”

Alex watches her pace the floor and waits for the rant to end. He really serves no purpose at this point other than making sure she doesn’t hurt herself mid-rant. It took him a few years to figure out that there was a method to her madness…to figure out what was expected of him. So he stands there, face blank, hands at his sides…waiting.

He catches most of what she’s saying, although a lot of it flies right over his head. But when he hears a pause, he sees her fall onto the couch and pick up the TV remote. After she turns it on, she looks up at him and says, “What do you think?”

He smiles then and sits. “Well, I think that yes…it’s crazy. And yes, Liz was kidnapped by aliens. But, Max and the others rescued her, too. If they wanted to hurt us, they probably would have by now. Don’t you think?”

She sighs and leans her head on his shoulder. “I know. I just can’t believe any of this right now.” She flips through a few stations and stops it on MTV. “I just want to make sure that Liz is ok.”

“Well, they can’t keep us from her. Let’s go.” Alex grabs her hand and stands up. “Then you can see for yourself that she’s fine.”

They walk down the hall to Max’s room just as Isabel is opening the door. “You don’t mind if we just make sure Liz is ok, do you?” Alex asks her.

She shakes her head and walks in ahead of them and straight back to the bedroom. When they get there, they all stop. Both Max and Liz are asleep, Max curled around Liz protectively. Isabel walks to the closet and pulls down a blanket, spreading it out over them before she turns to Alex and Maria. “Let’s go in there.” She nods her head toward the front room.

“Max was hurt pretty bad.” She sits down on the couch, her voice hushed. “Liz kind of over did it trying to heal him and fell right to sleep. Max lost a lot of blood…I’m sure they’re just exhausted.”

Alex sits on the arm of the chair when Maria sits down and asks, “Did she do it…heal him?”

Isabel nods. “She saved his life.”

“Wow.” Maria says. “I guess they’re even then.”

Isabel gives her an odd look then, almost distracted. “Yah…I guess so.”

“So how are you, Isabel?” Alex asks her.

She looks up at him then. “Me? Oh…I’m…I’m fine.” She shakes her head and plasters on a small smile.

Alex looks at her a few moments, feeling like he’s missing something and says, “That’s good.”

They sit in silence for a few minutes before hearing a knock on the door. Isabel practically flies out of her seat to answer it and finds Michael on the other end. She turns back around and walks back to the couch. “God Michael, knock a little louder next time. I don’t think they heard you in Arizona.”

“Sorry. Didn’t know this was a quiet zone.” Michael says sarcastically and follows her to the couch.

Her face softens and she says, “Sorry. Max and Liz are in the other room sleeping.”

He looks toward the closed door to the bedroom and asks, “How is he?”

“Fine. He lost a lot of blood…his face was so pale.” Her voice trails off as she remembers how bad his stomach looked after he moved his hand. She had no idea how bad it was. She looks down at Michael’s leg and peers through the hole in his pants. “Better?”

“Yah.” He says, moving his leg so she’ll stop looking. “But these were my favorite jeans.”

Isabel rolls her eyes and says, “Michael, you have ten pairs just like them.”

“Your point?” She grins at him and slaps him playfully on the arm.

Maria stands up and says, “Well, if Liz wakes up can you tell her that we’re ready to go back to New York when she is. All I have to do is make a call and we’ll be on a plane.”

“We need to see what Cal says.” Isabel looks up, concerned that they’re planning on leaving so soon.

“Noooo…you need to see what Cal says. We aren’t part of your alien club. We’re done. Liz is safe…and thank you for getting her back, but it’s time for us to go. Liz has been through enough…she needs to get back to her life now and recover from this horrible experience.” Maria looks to Alex for support.

“You can’t take her. She’s…she’s our queen now. She has to…” Michael stands up, agitated…his voice rising.

“What?!” Maria shouts. “Listen you yourself…your queen?!”

“Would you two shut up.” Isabel whispers fiercely. When she has their attention, she turns to Maria and says, “Michael’s right. We need to talk to Cal and figure out what to do.” She sees Maria about to protest and stops her. “All I’m saying is, we don’t know how many others are out there. And Liz is sending out signals to every alien on this planet…and who knows what other planets. We need to figure out what to do about the situation before you just take off. What if you take her back to New York and the same thing happens again…I’m just thinking about Liz’s safety here. I’m sure that’s what Michael meant to say…in his own way.”

“Yah.” Michael chimes in, earning a glare from Maria. “Well, you wouldn’t let me finish.”

Maria calms down finally and says to Isabel. “I guess you’re right. I never thought that there might be more of you out there.” She sees Michael rolling his eyes at her as he sits down and she says, “Well, let me know when Cal’s ready. I’m starved.” She looks at Alex and says, “Let’s call Appleby’s.”

Alex nods and throws an apologetic look toward Isabel before following Maria out into the hall.

“What does she think we are, her assistants?” Michael huffs after Maria leaves. “Why does she have to be such a bitch?”

“She’s just trying to protect her friend, Michael. Just give it a rest.” Isabel massages the space between her eyes and sighs. She sits in silence for over an hour, Michael somehow sensing that’s what she wants and he turns on the TV with the volume muted.

Finally she turns her head. “Michael?”

He looks over at her. “Yah?”

Pausing, she forges ahead. “Have you ever thought about fate…or destiny? Stuff like that?”

He studies her for a minute, wondering where this is coming from…or going. “Yah. Don’t you remember my Matrix obsession?”

She smiles, remembering how he would go on and on about those movies. Truthfully, she just tuned him out most of the time. Sci fi bores her to tears. “Oh yah…God, that seems so long ago.”

“It was.” He waits for whatever she’s trying to put together in her head.

“So…do you think our lives are already planned out already. Do you think that…that no matter what decisions we make along the way, or how much we avoid going down a certain path…that we’ll end up in the same place anyway?” She looks over at him and continues. “Like, if we avoid a certain event…in the end, it’ll always happen…regardless.”

“Why are you asking about this? What is it you’re really talking about here…because I don’t think you just felt like sitting down and having a random philosophical conversation.” He wonders if this has something to do with the Granolith and why she was so adamant about Max not letting Nicholas take it. “Is this about the Granolith?”

“Sort of.” She looks down at her hands and says. “I used to think we had control over our fates…that we decided our own futures.”

“And now?”

“I’m not so sure anymore.” She looks back up at him.

He thinks about it for a few minutes and finally says, “I don’t know. I like to think we have control…but who knows. Especially with us. We’re different…according to Ava, we were created…engineered. Who knows what that means.”

Taking a deep breath, Isabel decides that she has to tell someone…has to know if she’s been doing the right thing. Because she just doesn’t know anymore. “This is gonna sound strange, but I…I changed the future, Michael.” She sees the confusion on his face and says, “When we left here…back in high school. I made sure we left.”

“What are you talking about? We all agreed to leave…Valenti was onto us. And the FBI.” Michael thinks back to the events leading up to that moment.

She shakes her head and says, “No…we were supposed to stay. Liz…she talked Max into staying and came up with a plan to throw off Valenti.”

“Liz? But she was the one who warned Max in the first place. Where is this coming from Isabel…I don’t understand what you’re trying to say.”

“What are you trying to say, Isabel?” Michael and Isabel look over to see Max standing in the doorway to the bedroom.

“Max…” Isabel pops up off the couch and says, “I thought you were sleeping.”

He just looks at her, waiting. “What have you been hiding from us?”

She shakes her head and looks to Michael for support. “It’s not like that…I…I couldn’t tell you.” She sighs and puts her hands up to her head and sinks back into the couch.

~~~~~~~~~~

The first thing she sees when she opens her eyes is a menu tacked onto the wall behind the phone…for the Crashdown Café. She stares at it for a few moments, disoriented…sleep still grabbing at her. When reality intrudes fully, she remembers she’s in Roswell…less than four blocks from her childhood home. Rolling over onto her back, she looks at the ceiling and rubs the sleep from her eyes.

Turning her head, she looks at the bedside clock…2:15. From the darkness outside, she can safely assume that means a.m. Past the clock, she can see Max standing in the doorway, his back to her. She hears him say something to Isabel and she says something back…something about not telling him. Liz furrows her brow at the pleading tone in her voice and she tries to sit up. When she gets her feet on the floor, the room spins a little and she moans.

Max hears her and turns toward her, rushing over to the bed. “Liz…not so fast. You’re weak.” He puts a steadying hand on her back and sits next to her. “What are you doing up…you need to rest.”

She shakes her head and says, “I’m fine…just a little foggy.” She opens her eyes and sees that the room is back to normal and she looks toward the doorway. “What’s going on?”

“Nothing…Isabel, Michael and I were just talking. I’m sorry if we woke you.”

“No, you didn’t.” She looks down at her rumpled clothes and tries to run her hand over her hair but finds that it’s hopeless up there. “What happened?” She looks at his stomach. “How do you feel?”

“I’m fine…good as new. You over did it.”

“I didn’t get a chance to finish…why did you break the connection?” She’s looking more closely at his stomach, making him sit up so she can get a better look. She tries the peel the shirt back but sees only smooth skin…not so much as a bruise.

“Liz, I’m fine. You healed it…don’t worry.” He closes his shirt as much as possible and lifts her chin to look at him. “You can’t stay in like that…it drained your energy…you could have died.”

“But, I know I missed something. Max, you have to let me take another look.” She’s worried that there’s still internal bleeding that she can’t see from the outside.

“Liz, there are some things you can’t heal with powers…or medicine. Do you understand?” He looks at her meaningfully, trying to get her to understand.

Realization dawns on her and she says, “Oh. I…oh. Yah, I guess you’re right.” She swallows and can’t drag her gaze from his. She knows she should be going to talk to Maria and Alex, but leaving Max seems so impossible to her as she gets sucked into his eyes…like she’s floating toward him…and their connection flares between them. “What did you do to me, Max?” She whispers…not sure if she said that aloud or in her head.

“I don’t know.” The air feels think around him and all he can see is the soft skin of her face. It almost glows from underneath. From the tender skin below her eyes down to her beautiful, pink lips. Her face holds endless fascinations with him…he could stare at it for hours. Every expression, every smile, every movement…it’s intoxicating being this close to her.

He watches her bite the side of her lower lip and he leans in closer, feeling her breath on his face. “Liz…” he whispers. His lips so close to hers…a breath apart. He hovers there, waiting for her to close the distance, their breath coming faster…mingling in the centimeters that separate them. He can see her tongue dart just behind her teeth to wet her lips and he groans.

“Max, don’t you think…whoa.” Michael pulls back in the doorway when he sees them.

Max closes his eyes as he feels Liz pull away from him. Taking a deep breath, he turns to Michael and glares at him.

“I…um…sorry. I’ll just go back and…yah. I’ll just go talk to Isabel.” He backs into the other room and closes the door behind him.

When Max turns back around, Liz is standing…trying to straighten her clothes. “Liz.”

She smiles at him and says, “Yah…you know, it’s better…that we didn’t…you know…” She shifts uncomfortably and puts her hands in her pockets. What was she about to do? Kiss him? She barely knows him. They’re only feeling this way because of the bond between them…there’s no way he’d be sitting her wanting to kiss her otherwise. “This…it won’t work. And as much as I really, really wish it could…we both know it won’t. We’re just…”

He looks down at the carpet and says, “Different.”

She feels a deep pang of something inside of her…kind of like déjà vu. “Yah.” She whispers as she leans back on the nightstand. “Wow, that was weird.” She sees Max looking at her strangely and she says, “It just felt like I’d had this exact conversation with you before.”

He nods, “Same thing’s been happening to me a lot lately, too.”

She zones out for a minute, trying to grasp onto something just out of her reach and shakes her head as it eludes her completely. “Anyway…I should probably go…”

“Find Maria.” He finishes for her with a smile.

“Yah.” She smiles back. “I’m surprised she hasn’t torn the place apart looking for me yet.” She walks toward the door and says, “I’ll see you later…to talk to Cal?” He nods and she turns to go.

“Liz, wait.” He stands up and says, “I um…never got to thank you…for saving my life.”

She smiles and says, “Thank you.” and turns from the room.

~TBC~

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Angel
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Post by Angel » Sat Aug 30, 2003 10:47 am

extingman, you're right in a way...Max and Liz are being influenced by other timelines in what they say. Liz was trying to say it couldn't work because of their bond and they both got caught up in their own little deja vus.

TatiLoca, that's exactly what Max was saying, good catch! And I'm pretty sure that when the shape shifter declared that Max was in love with Liz, she realized that he never really forgot about her. ;)

frenchkiss, we'll find out soon who Isabel's visitor was.

Gigo, my thinking is that it doesn't really matter how human or inhuman the aliens are that the government catches. They'll still be aliens.

Breathless, ah, Zan. What is it about him? ;) He could be nice...he could be mean...you never know.

Thanks for all the great feedback everyone! And for those of you who don't like angst...warning...this next part is wicked angsty. But don't despair, I promise it'll get better.

Part 14

On her way out of Max’s room, Liz stops and says to Michael and Isabel, “I want to thank you…for…everything.”

Isabel smiles and says, “I’ll come get you guys when Cal is ready. We’ll find a way to fix this, Liz.”

Liz nods, hoping she’s right, and turns to leave. She hopes they can fix it, because if she’s tied to Max Evans like this for the rest of her life…she doesn’t think she’ll be able to handle not being near him. Just being in a different room than him is making her insides twist, like something is being ripped out of her. She may have been in love with him her entire life, but this isn’t how she wants to be bound to him…because of some weird alien linking. If they ever do get together, it has to be because they both want it with all their hearts and souls…it has to be natural.

An hour later, Liz is combing through her wet hair with her fingers and cursing the fact that she had to put her dirty clothes back on. At least she got to brush her teeth and wash her hair in a nice, cool shower. She always forgets how the desert manages to make its way into every part of your body.

“Liz, Isabel said Cal was waiting for us in his suite.” Maria calls to her from the other side of the bathroom door.

“Ok, almost done.” She takes one last look and shrugs…that’s as good as it gets. She opens the door and says, “You guys ready?”

Alex stands up and says, “Ready is my middle name.”

Maria laughs and says, “Riiiight.”

They make their way to the end of the hallway and Alex knocks on Cal’s door. They hear him call out from inside to come in and Liz hears the door click open as Michael fills the doorway. He lets them pass through and shuts the door, following them back in.

“Ah, there she is.” Cal says cheerily and stands when he sees Liz. “Feeling better?”

She nods and takes a seat next to Maria at a small table.

“Good.” He sits down again and says, “So, it looks like we have a little problem here.”

“Is there any way to fix it?” Alex asks, anxious for Liz to be free of these people.

Liz glances over, just in time to catch Max looking at her. He looks away quickly and she looks back at Cal.

“I can remove the bond as long as it hasn’t been consummated…which it hasn’t…right?” He looks from Max to Liz.

They both look at each other, remembering their shared encounter on the plane and Max looks back at Cal. “Right, it hasn’t. So you can undo it?”

“I can. But you need to be sure.” He looks at Liz and says, “You’ll lose all your powers…at least your defensive powers as queen. I can’t undo what Max changed in you when he healed you.”

“But I’ll stop sending out signals…right? I won’t attract anyone to me?” Liz asks, that being her first and foremost concern.

“Nope. You’ll be plain old Liz Parker again. But I have to stress the importance of this. Once I remove the bond, it can never be replaced. Even if you were to get together some day down the road…you would never be his queen again.” He looks over at Max and says, “And you will never be able to bond with anyone…ever. You get this one shot and that’s it.”

Silence descends on the room as everyone contemplates what this means.

Liz’s eyes open wide. Max would never be able to have this bond with anyone else? “So, if Max falls in love and wants to get married…have a family someday, are you saying he won’t be able to?” Liz asks, worried about what this means for both their futures.

“Max can do whatever he wants. What I’m saying is he’ll never have a queen by his side again. By making you his queen, he gave you powers…more powerful than his own. As queen, your duties are clear…you are to stand by the king, support him, fight with him, protect him and your children. The queen has a highly coveted role on our planet…she holds the power, especially after the heir is born. If he decides to have a family with a human someday, he can. But she won’t be endowed with any special rank or powers. She’ll just be human. If he chooses another hybrid…Ava for instance…she will not receive the rank of queen and she won’t receive any other powers than the ones she has.” He looks at Max and says, “Do you understand what I’m saying?”

Max nods and looks down at the floor. He just wants Liz to be free, to live a normal life…no matter what it takes. There’s no sense talking about hypothetical marriages in his future. There’s only one person he’ll ever love. He looks back up at Cal and says, “Do it.”

Liz sees Isabel looking at her…pleading with her eyes. She knows Isabel is thinking about Max’s safety, she is too. “But…”

Cal is getting impatient. “Look, it’s nothing to worry about. Max isn’t going back to our planet, there aren’t any political ramifications for him here…there’s no reason why you both can’t go back to living completely normal lives. Don’t confuse the bond with love. He’ll be free to love whomever he wants. So will you. I don’t foresee any threats to his well being with Browan and Nicholas gone. So there’s really no need for him to have a queen on this planet.”

“What about Khivar?” Isabel asks. “Isn’t he still a threat?”

“Khivar can’t travel here. That’s why he uses skins. And now you know how to fight them, if they even bother coming after you. With Nicholas gone, they’re without a leader. What do you have left, 40…50 years? That’s a handful of sand on the shore of our existence. You were meant to live normal…human lives on this planet.” He sighs and says, “Not that I see how you deserve it, but that’s beside the point. You get a second chance…I just don’t understand why you’re wasting it.”

“We ain’t wastin’ it.” Zan protests from the couch.

“Come on.” Cal stands up and walks over to Zan. “You call hanging out on the streets, in the sewer, living life to its fullest?” He turns to Max, Isabel and Michael and says, “Your families gave you a gift and you’re pissing it away…hiding out in your loft. It makes me sick how ungrateful you are. You’ve wasted thirty years already. I’ll give you one piece of advice. Go out and live!” He sweeps his arms around the hotel room. “Go out and eat…go dancing…have lots of sex…fall in love. Do you know what I’d give to be able to do that?” He sits down, suddenly tired of talking. “I’d give everything.”

Liz looks at Cal and feels sorry for him…realizing the root of his attitude. He’s jealous. Jealous that the people he’s sworn to protect have the very thing he’s always wanted. It must be lonely for him. “How long do you…I mean, how long…”

“’Til I kick the bucket? Who knows? I could be around forever I suppose. That’s my job…to protect the royal four and their descendents. That’s what Browan couldn’t handle…he hated it here. The minute we crashed, I think he started looking for ways to get off this planet.” He sees the look on her face and says, “Don’t feel sorry for me, babe. I like it here, so don’t you point those big, sad eyes at me. Which reminds me, have you ever thought about acting? That face of yours would be gold on the big screen.”

Liz bites her lip and looks at him in confusion. “Um…no…I um…no.” Where did that come from?

“So, have you decided?” Cal keeps his gaze on Liz.

Liz looks over at Max and they lock eyes for a moment before he sends her a small smile and nods his head once in encouragement. She hesitates, and then turns back to Cal. “Ok, I guess…do it.”

Michael is watching Isabel and sees her frowning…thinking. He can almost see the wheels in her head spinning. He knows she’s worried about Max and what this will mean for him…he has to admit that he is too. But they can’t force Liz to be bound to Max for the rest of her life. He knows Max wouldn’t allow it even if she agreed. He leans over and whispers to Isabel, “It’ll be ok.”

She nods without looking at him and says, “I hope so.”

Cal tells Liz and Max to stand in front of him and he puts one hand over each of their hearts.

“Is it going to hurt?” Liz asks Cal with a small voice.

Max closes his eyes and uses every ounce of will power not to reach for her.

“It might sting a little.” Cal tells her and she nods.

She glances up at Max for reassurance but his eyes are closed…as if waiting for a deathblow and she quickly looks away, a knot forming in her throat. “Ok.” She whispers.

Maria stands up, moving closer to Liz…fascinated. Cal’s hands start glowing and almost immediately, both Max and Liz grab the arm he’s holding them with as if trying to break free. Liz has her eyes squeezed shut and Maria sees tears start to force their way out down her cheeks. Cal has his eyes closed and Alex pops up out of his seat when Liz cries out, “Noooo…!”

Michael grabs Alex and says, “Wait.”

The glowing gets brighter and Max tears at Cal’s arm, screaming, “No!” Maria stares wide eyed as Cal finally releases his hold on them and they both drop to the floor. She rushes to Liz, falling to her knees and pushing the hair back from her face. “Liz!”

“Wow. That was some crazy shit.” Zan observes from the couch…where he hasn’t moved from.

Ava glares at him before joining Isabel on the floor next to Max. She sits back, seeing the pure anguish on his face and feels like she’s intruding. “Is he ok?” She whispers, but no one answers her.

“Liz…can you hear me?” Alex says gently, wiping the tears from her face. She nods and looks up at him and he smiles at her. “There she is.” She takes a deep, shuddering breath and puts her hands over her eyes in an effort to both wipe them and stem the flow of tears. Her breath hitches and Maria rubs her back soothingly.

She feels like she’s been split in half and her soul ripped from her body.

Maria turns angrily to Cal and sees him slumped in his chair, sweating profusely. “You said it would only sting a little.”

Cal wipes his face and in a raspy voice says, “Yah? Well they said the bond was never consummated…so we all lied.”

Maria sits back and looks at Liz in surprise. But Liz is shaking her head…she says, “We didn’t…it wasn’t…”

Cal takes a deep breath and says, “I would have never attempted a separation of a bond that strong.”

Max waves off Isabel, who’s hovering over him and pulls himself up to sit in a nearby chair.

Isabel asks, “So does that mean it didn’t work?”

Max wipes his hands over his face and looks at Cal. Cal glances over at Liz then at Max and says, “It worked.”

Isabel can’t stand the look of pure pain on Max’s face and she looks up at Michael helplessly.

“Will they be ok?” Ava asks Cal.

He nods and says, “Eventually…yah.” He stands up and adds, “But that’s gonna leave a scar.” He walks into the next room, wanting to be alone.

“So…” Zan stands up and stretches. “I guess that’s it. It’s been real…Ava? We need to find a ride back home.”

Ava looks around, not really sure what to do. “Ok...um…” She stands up and joins Zan, looking at Michael sadly.

Michael glances over at Maria, doubting that they’ll be riding home with the humans anymore. He sees her looking at him and she shrugs. “We’re all going to the same place, right? It would be stupid if we didn’t all ride back on the plane together.”

Maria looks down at Liz and asks, “Is that ok, sweetie?”

Liz nods and struggles to stand up. She keeps her eyes on the floor and says, “I’m just gonna…I need to…” And she turns, rushing from the room into the hallway.

“I’ll call and have them get the jet ready. I’ll let you know when we need to be at the airport.” Maria tells Michael before following Liz.

“Cool.” Zan says, glad he won’t have to try to find himself a way back to New York. “I’m starved. Let’s go see what they got in the vending machines.” He says this to Ava and pulls her toward the door. “You got money, right?”

Ava rolls her eyes as she follows him out.

“Max…” Isabel kneels down in front of him but he puts his hand up.

“Is, please…just…just give me some time here.” He rests his elbows on his knees and Isabel nods, stands up and moves over to Michael.

“I’m going to take a quick shower. You gonna be ok?” She asks him.

Michael nods and says, “Go ahead. I’ll let you know when I hear from Maria.”

Isabel leaves Michael alone with Max and he sinks down in the couch and picks up the remote to the TV, feeling a little uncomfortable with all the emotion in the air. He just always feels so…useless. He figures Max doesn’t need him fussing all over him so he turns the TV on and starts flipping through the channels. He finds a soccer game and stops.

They sit in silence for quite a while, not that Max is gonna complain. He just wants a little…silence. Finally, he straightens and grins a little when he sees Michael watching a soccer game. “What’s the score?” He asks, then tries to clear the croaking from his voice.

“Belgium 2, Croatia nothing.” Michael says without looking at him.

Max takes a deep breath and exhales loudly before standing up. “So what are we doing?”

Michael looks up at him and says, “Maria’s getting the jet ready so we can go back.”

Max nods and asks, “Where’s Cal?” He follows Michael’s nod into the next room and steps in the doorway. “Cal?” It’s dark and he can’t see.

“Yah?” He hears, but can’t see where the voice is coming from.

A lamp turns on and Max sees Cal sitting in a chair in the corner, smoking a cigarette. He looks at Cal curiously and Cal lifts the cigarette, looking at it. “Yah…bad habit. But it’s not gonna kill me, so…” He shrugs and puts it out in the ashtray next to him.

Max steps in the room and says, “I wanted to thank you…before we leave.”

Cal shrugs and says, “It’s my job.”

“I know that you…don’t really want anything to do with us. Hopefully we won’t have to ask for your help again.” Max says.

Cal studies him for a moment, then says, “You know where to reach me…if anything comes up?”

Max nods and says, “I’ll only contact you if there’s an emergency.”

The two men are quiet…studying each other. Finally, Cal says, “You know…the bond…because it was so strong I could only…”

“I know.” Max interrupts him. “Don’t worry about it.”

Cal nods and says, “Go…have a good life.”

Max offers him a weak smile and turns away, walking back in the other room to get Michael. Cal watches them leave before turning the lamp off and lighting another cigarette. “While you can.” He whispers before taking a drag.

~~~~~~~~~~

Two hours later, they’re all on the jet as it taxis down the runway and takes off. As the plane rises, Liz stares out the window and can see the faint orange glow of the sunrise in the east. Maria and Alex have given her space and are sitting in the seats behind her. Zan and Michael are sitting up front devouring the food that Maria ordered the plane stocked with. She hears Zan call out to Ava and ask if she wants a sandwich. Max is sitting near them…quiet. She wonders if he’s feeling the same emptiness she is.

She looks down and sees some headphones dangling from her armrest and she puts them on. It takes a couple minutes of fumbling around with the buttons before she figures out how to get music to play. She can’t find anything better than a classic rock station so she leaves it there, listening to the familiar strains of Cat Stevens and The Eagles. Closing her eyes, exhausted, she just wants to block out everything.

Max regrets sitting up front as soon as Michael and Zan start stuffing themselves. The two have discovered a mutual love of hockey and Max is forced to sit through their debates about the merits of their favorite team. He sighs and looks out the window, wanting to move but not able to. The plane is small and there are only so many places to sit. He glances back a few times to check on Liz and sees her sitting in the opposite direction with headphones on. Each time he looks, she’s in the same position…and each time he looks, he sees the sympathy and pity on Alex and Maria’s faces as they look back at him.

“Hey Max, you sure you don’t want one?” Michael asks, holding out a sandwich to him.

Max shakes his head and closes his eyes. Maybe he’ll be able to sleep. He listens to the hum of the engines and tries to let them lull him to sleep.

He jolts awake when the plane jerks and is surprised to see sunlight streaming through the windows when he opens his eyes. Looking out the window, he sees that they’ve just landed.

Turning to Michael, he asks, “We’re there?”

Michael yawns and nods. “Yah…you were out the whole way.”

Max looks at his watch and sees that it’s 12:30pm New York time and lets his head fall back on the seat.

“It sucks flying back east…we lose so much time.” Michael comments as he yawns again.

“Yah.” Max agrees and looks out the window again, seeing the familiar New York skyline.

When the plane taxis to a standstill, the pilot opens the cockpit door and lowers the steps leading outside. He stands at the top and waits for them to exit the plane.

Max and Michael stand up and climb down the stairs first, followed by Zan, Ava and Isabel. Isabel walks over to Max and asks, “Did you get some rest?” He nods and squints in the sunlight, watching for Liz.

Liz finally emerges from the plane followed by Alex and Maria. They make their way into the terminal and gather toward the front…awkward. It’s been such a crazy 24 hours and now no one knows what to say.

“So…I guess I don’t have to tell you that it’ll be safer…for not just us, but you, if you don’t tell anyone about us.” Michael tells Maria, Alex and Liz.

Maria nods and says, “Like anyone would believe what I’ve just been through.”

“You don’t need to worry.” Alex assures him. “We won’t say anything.”

“Well folks. Can’t say it’s been fun.” Zan says. “Keep your heads up…we’ll see ya around.” He claps Michael on the back and looks at Ava expectantly.

“Go get us a cab…I’ll be out in a minute.” She tells him.

“Sure thing.” He walks toward the door and turns before walking out. He mock salutes them before turning and disappearing outside.

Ava turns to Max and says, “If you need us, call this number. Just leave a message tellin’ me how to find ya.” She scribbles a number on a scrap of paper and hands it over.

“Thanks.” Max stuffs the number in his back pocket and says, “For everything. You didn’t have to help and you did…I appreciate it.”

She nods and looks down, embarrassed. “S’nothin’.” She turns to Liz and says, “You stay outta trouble.”

Liz gives her a small smile and says, “Yah…you too. Take care of yourself.”

“I always do.” She says before giving them all one last glance and following Zan outside.

“So.” Michael says, anxious to get home. He looks at Maria and says, “Thanks for the lift.”

“No problem. Sorry about breaking into your apartment.” She tells him, remembering how pissed he was.

“Yah, don’t worry about it.” Michael looks at Liz before glancing at Max. “Well, you ready to go?”

Isabel can feel the tension in the air, so she steps forward and says, “You still have my card?”

Liz looks up, confused for a minute. Then, remembering, she shakes out of her daze and says, “Um…yah.”

“If you need anything…you know, if you need help with your powers or something…you can call me anytime.” Isabel feels awkward and doesn’t know what to say.

Liz offers her a smile and takes a step toward her. She reaches up and pulls Isabel into a hug and says, “Thank you.”

The hug takes Isabel by surprise, but she recovers and hugs Liz back. “I’m sorry…for the things I said…how I treated you.”

Liz shakes her head and says, “No, don’t. It’s ok.”

They pull away and Isabel grabs Michael’s arm and pulls him after her a few feet away. Maria watches them, and looks over at Liz, who nods at her. She grabs Alex and they join Isabel and Michael, letting Liz and Max have some privacy.

“So…” Liz starts, arms folded across her chest…at a loss for words.

“So…” Max answers, barely able to look her in the eye. Part of him wants to…to get lost in her eyes one last time…to memorize her face. The other part wants to get this over with quickly…like pulling off a Band-Aid.

“So what now, Max? Do we just part ways and never see each other again?” She can’t read his face and she feels the loss of her connection with him more acutely because he won’t look at her. She didn’t want it to be like this.

Max’s heart is racing. What is she asking? He looks at her briefly before looking away again. He can’t do this…his heart feels like a jackhammer in his chest. “Maybe that would be best.” He finally says.

Liz bites her lip and watches the different emotions crossing Max’s face before he shuts down again. “Max…look at me.” She bends down, trying to catch his eyes, which are planted firmly to the floor.

When he finally meets her gaze, her breath leaves her like she’s been punched in the gut. There’s so much pain there…and anguish. She’s suddenly hit with a sudden, painful realization. “Oh Max…what…oh God…” She reaches for him and he steps away.

“Please…don’t.” He sees her eyes fill up with tears and he tries to smile. “Don’t Liz…it’ll be ok.” He clenches his jaw and steels himself before saying, “Go back to your life, Liz. Do this one thing for me…just…be happy. That’s all I want. I’ll be fine if I know you’re happy and living a normal life.”

“Max…I…” She doesn’t know what to say and he puts a finger to her lips.

“Shh. Please, Liz.” She closes her eyes and grabs his hand, holding it to her cheek.

She steps toward him and puts her hands on each side of his face, pulling him down to her. She brushes her lips lightly across his, their tears mingling and she says, “I’m so sorry, Max.” Her heart is a dead weight in her chest…she never even thought…

He wraps his hands around her and pulls her close, sealing their lips together and he kisses her…he kisses her like he’s always dreamed of doing. And it’s wonderful.

She wraps her arms around his neck and feels him lift her off her feet against him. When she hears a soft cry from the back of his throat, she opens her mouth and deepens the kiss. She loses herself in the feel of him…the taste of him. She doesn’t want to let go and she holds on even tighter. But too soon he pulls away, resting his cheek against hers and slowly lowering her feet to the floor. His breath sweeps across her ear and he whispers, “Go…go now.”

She pulls away and sees his eyes close as he lets go of her. Touching his cheek one last time, she turns and rushes from the terminal.

Maria and Alex run after her and catch her outside, getting into a taxi. They get in with her and the cab pulls away quickly.

“Liz, what’s wrong? What…did the bond separation thing not work?” She looks at Alex, concerned.

Liz stares out the window, letting her tears fall. “No, it worked. For me…it separated me.” She looks at Maria and says, “But not Max…he’s still connected to me. He’ll never be free.” She looks away from a stunned Maria and back out the window as the cab speeds toward the city…and away from Max.

~TBC~
Last edited by Angel on Sat Aug 30, 2003 11:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Angel
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Part 15

Post by Angel » Mon Sep 01, 2003 11:49 am

Part 15

The mass of a planet won't change its' course
Immovable Object, Irresistible force
What set this all in motion before?
Unknown, Unseen, Unheard, Obscure
Astronauts in satellites don't hear a sound
Earth below spins around and around
Time carries on to the place we're bound

Happenstance, Circumstance, future preordained?
Divine Intervention, the fickle hand of fate?
Does it really matter; are there choices we can make?
Stop and smell the roses or hurry up and wait?
Give or shall we take?

Single Cell Monster from primordial soup
Radiated slag from a nuclear coup
Cro-Magnon killing with a club and his hands
Now a mercenary man with a gun and a plan
Act II is the same as the first
We know our part, no need to rehearse
Hope for the best, plan for the worst

Happenstance, Circumstance, future preordained
Divine Intervention, the fickle hand of fate?
Walk the aimless shuffle or the line, long and thin?
Faith in the eternal or trust what's within?
One small life to give

Live with a purpose
Every life is short and swift
Every day is precious
Every moment is a gift

Happenstance, Circumstance, future preordained?
Divine Intervention, the fickle hand of fate?
Fight for the future, and against the past
Slow the fateful ending though we feel it coming fast
We've only got today
Don't piss our time away



Three years later…

Liz glides along the path in Central Park, losing herself in the rhythm and the sound of her feet hitting the pavement…her breathing controlled. With each exhale she surges forward. The sun is just rising…this is her favorite time of day. The city is quiet and she can be alone. She follows the familiar path around and back out of the park toward her apartment. She slows her pace and stops at the corner newsstand to pick up a paper before stopping in the familiar corner shop.

“Mornin’ Liz!” She looks up and smiles at Joe. Since she started her early morning runs, she ends up being his first customer of the day most days. Today, he’s just filling the grinders with beans when she walks in.

“Hey Joe…it’s starting to get cold out.” She walks up to the counter and drops her money on it before moving off to the side. “It’ll be snowing soon.”

“Yah? Then what are you gonna do?” He asks her as he makes her usual.

“Guess I’ll just run in my snow boots.” She smiles at him and opens her paper, waiting for her coffee.

“So what’s the news today?” He asks her as she scans the headlines.

She shrugs and says, “Not much.” before folding the paper back up and leaning on the counter. He hands her her cup and says, “Have a good one, hun.” and he moves back down the counter to help a couple that just walked in.

She smiles at him and turns to put some sugar in her coffee before going. Tonight, she and Alex are going to a party being thrown by some NYU alumni and she’s excited to go. She hasn’t been out in a long time…at least out to something more than the local bar with Alex. As she sips her coffee, she thinks about the new dress she splurged on that’s hanging on the door of her closet. She spent way too much money on it, along with the shoes…but surely she’ll be able to wear it again.

Distracted, thinking about her dress, she’s not watching where she’s going and runs into someone…spilling her coffee all over the place. Feeling bad, she turns to apologize but when she sees who it is, she rolls her eyes and smiles. “You did that on purpose.”

Innocent, amber eyes open wide and look back at her. “What…me? Why would I do that on purpose?”

“I don’t know, Zan…why do you do anything?” Liz shakes her hands, trying to rid them of coffee. “What are you doing here? Isn’t it kind of early for you?”

He takes a step closer, wiping his hand down the front of her shirt to get rid of the coffee there, and grinning when she flinches and steps away. He raises his hands and says, “Just tryin’ to help ya out.”

“I can do it myself.” She says, offended.

“A’ight. Don’t get all pissy. I just wanted to see ya. That’s all.” He shrugs and tries to give her his best innocent look.

Sighing, she softens and asks, “What’s up?”

He puts his hands in his pockets and says, “I was just wonderin’ if you wanted to hang tonight. See a movie or somethin’.”

“Zan…” She sighs. “I’ve told you…”

“Yah, yah…I know. But we could just hang…like friends do, you know? I could even ask Ava to come.”

“Sorry, I can’t. Anyway, I have plans tonight.” She shakes her head and says, “Zan, you have to stop this. You can’t…you can’t keep doing this.”

He rolls his eyes and says, “Yah, I know. I don’t need the song and dance. I’m outta here…have fun at your party.” He walks away then and as she watches him she wonders how he knew she was going to a party.

Sighing, she turns back toward her apartment. Zan. She’s never been sure about him, or what his motives are. He’s always around, showing up out of nowhere. Always asking her out. She’s met with Ava a few times…had coffee with her. She told Liz to just ignore him…that he was a pain in the ass, but he didn’t mean any harm.

For three years now, Zan has been after her…trying everything in the Dating for Dummies manual. Sometimes he’s so sweet…but then he’ll turn on a dime, scaring her. She doesn’t know whether to feel bad for him…or to fear him. Since the first time she saw him she’s never trusted him, and she still doesn’t.

Shaking off thoughts of Zan, she walks through the door of their apartment – after fussing with the five deadbolts Alex installed a few years ago – and sees Alex sitting in the kitchen.

He looks over at her sleepily and says, “Hey.” before hanging his head over his cup of coffee…hoping the scent will permeate through his pours and wake him up.

She walks into the kitchen and grabs some orange juice out of the fridge and a glass from the cupboard. “Hey sleepy. Long night?” When she doesn’t hear an answer, she turns around.

Alex has his head down on the table and she smiles. “Alex.” She walks over and rubs his shoulder. “Aleeeex….wake up.”

When he lifts his head she goes back to her orange juice and says, “Come on…you need to wake up. You have to stay up for the party tonight.” She turns around and leans against the counter, sipping her juice and takes in his haggard appearance with concern. “Are you ok? You’re not having…nightmares again…are you?”

He shrugs without looking at her and says, “I dunno. I guess.”

Liz frowns in concern. Ever since ‘the incident’, Alex has been having strange dreams and nightmares. Liz admits that she sees some weird things sometimes…almost like visions or something…like memories of things that never happened. But she writes it off to the events that happened three years ago…as something alien related.

But there’s no explanation for Alex’s dreams. Liz urged him to start writing them down when they first started and she was shocked to see that some of his dreams were the same as things she was seeing. That’s when she thought of calling Isabel. But she thought Isabel wouldn’t know what it was either. Although, to be honest, she just didn’t want to call because she didn’t want Max to find out.

Looking at the circles under Alex’s eyes, she decides that she does need to call Isabel. She doesn’t know what else to do, and Alex can’t go on like this. Some of his dreams are…disturbing at best. “Why don’t you stay home from work today…get some rest?”

Alex stretches and stands up. “Now how would that look if I blow off work today and show up at the party tonight?” He smiles and says, “And there’s no way I’m missing that.”

Liz watches him walk into the bathroom and she sits down at the table, spreading her paper out. She reads the top stories and flips to the art section…smiling when she sees the article about the party tonight. The alumni are having a benefit to raise money to help the research in her department as well as three other research teams. They’re auctioning off the work of art students at NYU. It’s usually quite a party…every year they raise money for a different cause and it usually draws an eclectic New York crowd. She’s been looking forward to it since they announced her department was one of the chosen benefactors this year.

When she hears Alex walk out of the bathroom and into his room, she gets up and starts to get ready for her day.

~~~~~~~~~~

Isabel takes one last glance in the floor length mirror…smiles in approval…and grabs her bag from the bed. As she makes her way toward the kitchen, the front door opens and a flurry of brown fur barrels toward her. Holding her bag in front of her she says sternly, “Bailey, no!” before she gets accosted.

The chocolate brown cocker spaniel immediately sits and looks up at her with his sad eyes and she bends down to scratch him behind his ear. “Sorry buddy, but you’re not ruining another pair of my pantyhose if I can help it.” Straightening up, she walks into the kitchen and glances toward the door. “I wish you’d teach him not to jump.”

Max shrugs, hanging the leash on a hook by the door. “He’s just happy to see you.”

She rolls her eyes as she reaches into the fridge for a bottle of water. “Yah…I’d be flattered if he wasn’t also happy to see the mailman, the paper delivery kid, and pretty much everyone else who comes within his line of sight.”

Bailey wags his tail and follows Max into the kitchen, knowing that they’re talking about him. Max reaches into a box on the counter and throws a treat, which he deftly catches mid air. “Good boy.” Max says, and Bailey wags his tail even harder.

When Max first brought Bailey home, Isabel was horrified at the prospect of having a dog in the loft. But she quickly fell in love with him…he was so tiny and cute…he looked like a little stuffed animal. Michael was a harder sell. He made fun of Max and the dog, saying it was a little girly dog and to not expect him to help take care of it.

Max said he decided to get a smaller dog because he didn’t think it was fair to have a big dog in the city in an apartment where it wouldn’t get any exercise. Michael put up a good fight, but eventually fell for Bailey’s charms. Now the two of them hang out together most of the day…going to the park to play with the other dogs or just lazing around the loft. They’re like two peas in a pod…perfect for each other.

Putting her bag on her shoulder, Isabel says, “I’m off. You still picking me up at seven?” Max nods and she says, “Alright. See you later.” And she heads out the door, stopping to rub Bailey’s ear again and baby talking him, “You be a good boy.” She gives him a pout to match the sad look he’s giving her and she leaves.

After Isabel leaves, Bailey sits at the door and whines…waiting for her to come back.

“Hey, get over here and stop acting like a puss.” Max says as he reads the paper, putting his hand down to scratch his ears when he walks over to sit by Max’s chair.

When he’s done with the paper, he folds it up and tosses it on the counter and puts his empty bowl of cereal in the sink. He walks over to the chair and grabs his tie, throwing it around his neck, and his jacket. Grabbing his keys, he looks down at Bailey. “Gotta go, big guy. Go find Michael.” He watches the dog’s ears rise as he cocks his head to the side. Smiling, he walks to the door and leaves, knowing that Michael’s about to be woken up by a bunch of slobbery licks.

As he walks to the subway, Max thinks about this thing they have to go to tonight. He knows he has to go…he wants to support Michael since he’s going to have three paintings up for bid. At least he’s comforted by the fact that Michael wants to go even less than he does. Isabel is excited, of course, and planned everything for them…down to the tuxes they have to wear.

She’s meeting her current boyfriend there, Ben. Max met him once…he seems like a nice enough guy…but he knows Ben is just an accessory to Isabel. So now Max has to go pick up Isabel and Amy from their office. Amy works with Isabel and he’s known her for years. Isabel insisted he take her to the party and he agreed happily, knowing Amy doesn’t have any romantic interest in him.

About eight years ago, Isabel tried to fix him up with Amy and he took her out…once. That night, she told Max she was a lesbian…but didn’t want anyone at work to know and begged him not to tell Isabel. So he breathed a sigh of relief and Isabel hasn’t stopped trying to fix the two of them up since. She arranges for Max to be Amy’s dates at company parties and get togethers and she’s convinced that if she keeps throwing them together, they’ll start dating. Max and Amy just smile and laugh, happy to go along with it as long as it keeps Isabel from trying to fix them up with other people.

Instead, she’s focused her attention on Michael and she’s furious that he refuses to bring someone to the party with him tonight. ‘Better him than me.’ Max thinks as he steps onto the train that’ll take him to his office. He stands to the side and holds onto a rail, leaning against it and waiting for the train to start moving. This is both is favorite, and worst, part of the day. As the train gains speed, he closes his eyes and within minutes he can feel her…closer and closer…then she slowly slips away and he takes a deep breath, swearing he can smell her and not the foul smell of the subway.

He happened to take this train one day…not his usual mode of transportation…and was caught off guard when he felt Liz so close to him. After searching the train frantically for her, he rushed out onto the platform and glanced at the subway system map. That’s when he realized…the train passes right underneath Liz’s apartment. Ever since then, it’s been his secret guilty pleasure. He knows he should stop…but he can’t.

Just a few seconds each day, that’s not too bad, right? He justifies the small indulgence by telling himself this will be the last week. But then the next Monday comes and it starts all over again. It’s been two and half years now.

When they come to a stop, Max steps from the train and climbs the steps to the busy street and to work. Next week…he’ll stop next week.

~~~~~~~~~~

Liz smiles at Alex when they walk into the large NYU ballroom. She’s been here before for seminars and lectures, but they’ve transformed it tonight for the benefit. The lights are dim and there are flowers everywhere. A small orchestra plays at the side and the room is filled with hundreds of people dressed in gowns and tuxes.

“Wow.” Liz says. But suddenly, the room shifts and the people she’s surrounded by are kids…kids she knew in high school. She hears the muted sound of a band playing in the background and she looks next to her for Alex, but instead, she sees herself standing in the doorway…with Max. She has a flower around her wrist and he looks down at her with a smile. Prom…she’s at a high school prom. But she never went to the prom…and she certainly didn’t go with Max Evans. Looking around, she sees Maria walking across the room…Alex dancing with Isabel…and Kyle…dancing with Ava? She closes her eyes and when she opens them, she’s back in the NYU ballroom and Alex is next her.

“Yah. I don’t think we’re classy enough to be here.” Alex winks at her and grabs two glasses of champagne from a passing tray.

He has no idea she’s been standing there staring into space with her jaw open, so she smiles and takes a glass from him with a shaky hand, fighting to recover unnoticed.

He holds out his arm for her and says in his best Thurston Howell voice, “Shall we, lovey?”

She giggles and slides her arm through his, letting him lead her in through the crowd. It’s not the first time she’s had a vision like that and she shakes it off, trying to bring herself back to reality. As they make their way, Liz spots the head of her department and turns to Alex. “There’s Greg, I should go say hello.”

Alex lets go of her arm and says, “I’m gonna go check out the food situation. Catch up with you later.”

Liz grins at him and turns to walk toward Greg. When he sees her, his face lights up and he says, “Liz! Look at you!” He turns to his wife, Jennifer, and says, “Look what the cat dragged in, honey.”

Liz has known Greg and Jennifer ever since she started at NYU and she rolls her eyes at Greg. She was one of Jennifer’s bridesmaids when they got married six years ago and they’ve been good friends ever since.

“Oh my…Liz. You look gorgeous!” Jennifer exclaims, grabbing Liz’s hand and making her twirl around. “Doesn’t she look gorgeous, Greg?”

“She sure does.” Greg beams down at her.

Liz blushes and says, “Thank you.”

Jennifer looks around and behind Liz and asks, “So…did you bring someone?” She looks at Liz hopefully.

“Yes, I did.” Liz braces herself for Jennifer’s disappointment.

“You came with Alex, didn’t you?” Jennifer says, her face falling. She wishes Liz would find someone. She’s beautiful, smart and successful. She just doesn’t understand why she doesn’t get out and date more.

Liz nods and says, “He’s the perfect date.”

“I really wish you’d give John a chance. He’s dying to go out with you.” Jennifer says.

John is their neighbor and Greg and Jennifer have been relentless in their efforts to fix them up. “You know I hate being set up, Jen.” Liz says, raising her eyebrows at her, letting Jen know she doesn’t want to talk about it.

“Alright…I give up. For now.” Jennifer says. She turns to her husband then. “I just saw Becky over by the food table, I’m going to go say hi.”

He nods and Jennifer turns to Liz. “You really look wonderful, Liz. I’m so glad you came.” Then she was off, disappearing into the crowd.

Liz looks up at Greg and smiles.

“You know she means well. She just hates seeing you alone.” Greg says to her.

“I know.” Is all she says.

“So, how are your cultures coming?” He asks her, changing the subject…knowing she’ll be happier talking about work.

“Great. I really think we’re making some progress.” She tells him and they easily fall into shoptalk.

After a few minutes, he turns her around and says, “You really should look at some of this artwork. Some of it’s amazing. Jen’s already picked out a few she wants me to bid on.”

Liz looks around at the temporary walls that have been set up to display the artwork throughout the room. “I think I will. I’ll see you later?”

Greg nods and says, “I better go find my wife.” And he gives her a wink before walking in the direction Jen went.

Liz makes her way over to some of the exhibits and sips her champagne as she slowly makes her way along with the crowd. She sees a lot of modern work…some of it totally out of her realm of understanding. One canvas she sees has a pair of underwear stuck to it and she wonders who would want that hanging in their house. She makes her way to one corner of the room where a group of people…some she knows…is gathered around one exhibit.

She stands next to a TA she knows and they smile at each other before looking at the painting on the wall. “It’s really good.” The TA…Vanessa, Liz thinks her name is…says to her.

“Yah.” Is all Liz can say as she studies the painting. She takes a step to the side, letting others pass her by as she tries to get a closer look. She takes a sip of her champagne and tilts her head to the side. It’s a large canvas…mostly dark…it almost has an impressionistic feel to it. In the lower right corner is a figure, a girl, sitting with her knees drawn up, her head resting on them and her hair draping down toward the floor. In the background, barely visible, she can see figures…people. But they’re distorted and you barely know they’re there. Along the top, she sees windows…roughly painted with broad strokes. As if the girl is being held prisoner.

Liz’s heart stops and her glass freezes mid sip. She leans in a little further, studying the images on the painting…the windows, the girl’s long brown hair.

“It’s you.” Someone says softly in her ear and she jumps, dropping her glass on the floor.

Turning quickly to the side, she sees Michael Guerin bending over to pick up her glass and he stands up…setting the glass on a nearby table.

“Michael. You scared me half to death.” She says, her hand going to her chest. “Wha…what are you doing here?” Her eyes involuntarily scan the crowd around them…wondering what’s going on…wondering if Max is here, too.

Michael nods toward the painting and says, “It’s mine.”

She looks at the painting again, then back at him…confused. “But…I didn’t know you…” She stops, realizing the absurdity of what she was about to say. Of course she wouldn’t know…she doesn’t know anything about Michael. “Are you a student?”

He nods and scratches his eyebrow. “Yah. I decided to go to school a couple of years ago.”

“That’s…that’s great.” She smiles at him. “You should have stopped by…said hi.”

He shrugs and looks away. “Didn’t wanna bother you.”

She looks at him for a few moments, a shadow of sadness crossing over her, and then looks back at the painting. “It’s…it’s really good.”

Michael watches her face as she studies the painting. “Yah?” He waits for her to look back at him. “So, how have you been?” Now there’s a loaded question. He really wants to ask her about Maria, but can’t bring himself to.

Liz nods and says, “I’m…actually I’m good. How about you…you know, besides going to school?” God, why doesn’t she just ask him and get it over with? He has to know she wants to know about Max.

“Great.” He looks over her shoulder, seeing Max in the entrance with Isabel, then back down to her. “You know…” But he’s cut off before he can say anything.

“Liz!” They both turn and Liz sees Greg walking toward her. As he walks up, he says, “I’m sorry…did I interrupt?” Greg looks at Michael with a smile.

“Um…no. Greg, this is Michael Guerin. He’s one of the artists.” She points at the painting behind her and says, “He did that one, actually.”

Greg reaches out and shakes Michael’s hand vigorously. “Wow. You’ve got a lot of talent. It’s great to meet you.” Greg puts his hand on Liz’s back and says, “My wife is definitely interested in that one…I’m afraid my wallet is going to get a workout tonight.” He’s grinning widely as he looks down at Liz, who smiles back knowingly at him.

“Um…thanks.” Michael says, glancing at Liz. Wife? Liz is married?

Greg turns to Liz and says, “You have to come dance with me…so I can show you off.”

Liz glances over at Michael, then back to Greg. “Um…ok.” She looks back at Michael and says, “It was great to see you. You really should stop by the lab and say hi.”

Michael nods and says, “Sure.” as they walk away toward the dance floor…his brow furrowing. He turns his head and sees Max again, walking toward this side of the room with Isabel, Ben and Amy. He was about to tell Liz that Max was going to be here when he saw Max walk in. But he didn’t get a chance to tell her when Greg came up.

This isn’t good. Maybe there are enough people here that Max won’t see her. Taking a deep breath, he heads toward Max and Isabel.

~~~~~~~~~~

As they get closer to the campus, Max can feel the pull inside him. He wonders if it’s because this is where she works, but in the back of his mind he hopes he feels her because she’s here. He never thought that she might be here tonight.

When they enter the ballroom, he freezes. She’s here…he knows it.

“Max? What’s wrong?” Amy asks beside him…wondering why he stopped walking. When he doesn’t answer, she shakes his arm. “Max?”

He shakes his head and looks over at her. “Sorry…I just…zoned out for a second.”

She smiles and says, “Work?”

He nods and says, “Yah.” He glances around the room again, hoping to see her. “Should we go find Michael?”

She puts her arm through his and they walk further into the crowd. “I can’t wait to see his paintings. Isabel has been raving about them at work.” Amy says as she grabs a glass of champagne from a waiter. She knows Max doesn’t drink much so she just takes one for herself.

They run into Isabel and Ben and Isabel says, “I think I saw Michael over there. Come on.” She grabs Ben’s arm and leads them to the far corner of the room.

As they walk, Max scans the crowd for her. He knows she’s here…she’s so close he feels like he can almost reach out and touch her.

They finally reach Michael and as everyone oohs and ahs over his paintings, Max stands back…searching. He vaguely notices Michael at his side trying to say something to him, and he looks over in time to hear him say something about Liz.

“Liz is here.” He says to Michael, turning back to search the room.

“That’s what I’ve been trying to say. Look, Max…there’s something you need to know…” Michael feels like he’s talking to a brick wall.

Just then, the crowd parts slightly and he sees her. He freezes, air filling his lungs but not able to escape. He can’t believe he’s actually looking at her…in person. She’s dancing…wearing a long, red dress with her hair piled on top her head. Her head falls back in laughter and he finally notices her dancing partner. He’s older than she is, but not much…and he twirls Liz around familiarly…he holds her close and as they turn he sees the ring on his finger.

“…she’s married.” Michael’s voice finally penetrates the fog in Max’s head.

His heart drops into his stomach and the air in his lungs escapes shakily. Married. Michael’s voice echoes in his head until it finally sinks in.

Isabel, having heard Michael steps up to Max and touches his arm…extremely worried. “Max…”

Max shakes her hand off and says, “Don’t.” He hasn’t looked away yet…not able to pull his eyes away from her. He watches her easy familiarity with her partner…no, her husband…and sees her laugh again. The sound of her laughter reaches his ears and shakes him from the paralysis that’s overcome him. She’s laughing…with her husband. She’s happy. It’s what he wanted. Trying to push the pain away, he watches as her husband dips her back playfully and she giggles…swatting his arm to let her back up. Max smiles then, and feels tears stinging his eyes, threatening. He takes a deep breath and they retreat.

“What’s going on? Am I missing something here?” Ben asks, wondering why everyone is looking at Max like he’s ready to self-combust.

Max turns around then and says, “It’s nothing.” He looks at Isabel and offers her a smile before turning to Amy. “I don’t think I’m up for a party tonight. I’m really sorry…but stay…have fun.”

Amy tilts her head and him and smiles. “Nah…if you wanna go, that’s ok. I kind of feel like crashing at home anyway.”

“Are you sure?” He asks, not wanting to ruin the night for her.

“Yah. Let’s go.” She senses that there’s someone here that Max doesn’t want to see and she looks at Isabel. “I’m sorry. Don’t be mad.”

Isabel plasters on a smile and says, “That’s ok. I’ll call you tomorrow.” She can’t believe what she heard Michael say. Liz is married? She looks at Max sympathetically and thinks it’s probably better if he leaves. “I’ll see you at home later.” She tells him, touching his arm in concern.

Max nods and turns to Michael. “Looks like everyone likes your stuff.” He nods at the people surrounding Michael’s paintings and his eyes fall on the one of Liz before he looks back at Michael. “Good luck.”

“Thanks.” Michael says before Max says goodbye to Ben and he and Amy walk toward the door.

~~~~~~~~~~

When the song ends, Liz steps back from Greg and says, “You’re crazy!” And she smiles, seeing Jennifer walking up to them.

“Mind if I cut in?” She asks, letting Greg pull her into his arms.

“Go right ahead, I need some rest after dancing with him.” Liz says gratefully and walks away from the dance floor in search of some water.

She glances toward the door and stops…is that Zan? What the hell? Anger welling up inside her, she makes a beeline through the crowd toward him. When she reaches the doorway, she sees him at the elevator and she calls out, “Zan…wait.” She walks angrily over to him, seeing red, and grabs his arm. “Zan, what are you…” Her voice dies in her throat when she sees that it’s not Zan, it’s Max.

Max looks down at her in confusion. “Liz?” Was she just calling him Zan? Why would he be here? And why would she assume that he was Zan?

“Max. I…I didn’t know you would be here.” She’s suddenly at a loss for words, and she notices for the first time the woman standing next to him, looking at her curiously. Glancing at Max, then back at the woman she says, “I um…I saw Michael…earlier.” He’s here with someone…a pretty someone. She’s tall and graceful, with long, blonde hair.

Max sees her looking at Amy and sees the embarrassment in her eyes. “Yah…he told me you were here.”

Liz turns to look at Max and he doesn’t understand what he’s feeling from her…hurt, confusion. “Oh…” She quickly looks down at the carpet and smoothes her dress…feeling like an ugly duckling next to this beautiful woman. He knew she was here and wanted to leave before she saw him. “Well, I um…I’m sorry…I just…”

“Thought I was Zan?” His eyebrows rise with question. “Why would he be here?”

She chews on her lip nervously and says, “This morning, he um…never mind.” She shakes her head, not knowing how to explain right now.

Max watches her, his eyes narrowed. Is she in contact with Zan? What the hell is going on here?

Amy gathers that this is the person Max didn’t want to see and tries to ease the thick tension in the air. “Hi. I’m Amy.” She reaches her hand out toward the girl.

Max comes to his senses finally and says, “Sorry. Liz, this is Amy…Amy, Liz.” He watches as Liz reaches a shaky hand toward Amy and grabs it.

“Nice to meet you, Liz” Amy says, pulling her hand away.

“Um…yah. It’s…it’s nice to meet you, too.” Liz suddenly feels like her tongue weighs fifty pounds and she curses herself for feeling so awkward. She looks up at Max and swallows, the lump in her throat threatening to cut off all air to her lungs.

He can see all the emotions running across her face and in her eyes. Why can’t he look away? He needs to get out of here…being near her is causing his insides to twist painfully. “We were…um…just leaving.” He says quietly, wanting the pain to end.

Her face falls and she says, “Oh. I…I was hoping to we’d have a chance to…talk.” She hates the sound of disappointment in her voice. She’s thought about Max constantly over the last three years and seeing him now…she just wants to be alone with him. Talk to him. Kiss him. Oh God, stop it. It’s obvious he wants to get away from her and she can’t believe after all this time, she’s blowing it.

She flinches when she hears the ding of the elevator, signaling its arrival. She looks over at the offending doors and says, “But…that’s ok. I don’t want to keep you.” She looks at Amy again and says, “It was really nice to meet you.” Looking back at Max, she says, “I…it was good to see you, Max.” She bites her lip, trying to keep a straight face.

“Yah.” He says, aching to touch her…to talk to her…to hear the sound of her laughter again. He also wants to know what’s going on between her and Zan. “You too.” He feels the hated stinging in his eyes again and he looks away quickly. “We should be going.” He glances at Amy, who’s holding the elevator door open, nods and steps away from Liz. Glancing at Liz once more before the doors close, he sees her turn away and raise her hand to her mouth…as if trying not to cry…and another piece of him dies inside.

~TBC~

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Angel
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Location: Kansas City

Part 16

Post by Angel » Wed Sep 03, 2003 4:46 pm

Part 16

She doesn’t know how long she’s been standing there and is brought back to reality by the sound of Alex’s voice. “Liz…there you are. I’ve been looking…” He stops when she looks up at him. “Liz…what’s wrong?”

Her chin quivers and she looks away. “I wanna go home, Alex. Will you take me home?”

Worried, he puts an arm around her and says, “Of course. What happened?”

She just shakes her head and turns into his arms, the tears breaking free, unwanted. Confused, he looks around trying to figure out what’s going on but doesn’t see anything or anyone around them. He holds her close and says, “Shhh…it’s ok. Let’s get out of here.”

He reaches over and pushes the button for the elevator, turning to shield Liz from the eyes of other partygoers. The last thing she needs is a bunch of people gawking at her.

Just as the elevator arrives, Alex looks up and sees Isabel standing in the doorway to the ballroom. She’s looking at them curiously as he stares at her in surprise. If Isabel is here…maybe that means Max is here too and that’s why Liz is so upset. Cursing himself for leaving Liz alone, he rushes her into the elevator…glancing at Isabel one last time before the doors close.

~~~~~~~~~~

“What’s up?” Ben walks up to Isabel and turns her to face him. “I thought you were going to get us some drinks?”

She looks over at him and says, “Nothing. I’m going now.” She smiles for him and walks away. She was surprised to see Alex here, and more surprised to feel the butterflies in her stomach when she saw him. But why was he leaving…with Liz? And why was Liz crying? As she walks across the ballroom, she looks around the dance floor and her eyes fall on him…Liz’s husband. Did he do something to Liz? Or did she see Max?

As she waits at the bar, she watches the man on the floor as he dances with another woman. Does he even know that Liz left? Shocked, she sees them kiss and her eyes narrow on the couple. Determined to get to the bottom of this, she steps toward them as they walk away from the dance floor. Deliberately, she bumps into him and says, “Oh! I’m so sorry.”

He catches her arm and smiles. “No problem. It’s a little crowded in here tonight.”

“Yah.” She looks at him closely and asks, “Didn’t I see you dancing with Liz earlier?”

He smiles and nods and she says, “Oh, I’ve been looking for her…I’m an old friend of hers, Isabel Evans.” She smiles and offers him her hand.

“Oh…hi Isabel. Nice to meet you. Yah, I saw her earlier…don’t know where she went.” He shakes his head at her and looks to the woman next to him. “How about you, honey?”

The woman looks around quickly and shakes her head. “No. I wonder where she went off to.” She looks at Isabel and smiles. “I guess it would be too much to hope that she met some nice guy and they’re off in a corner talking.”

Isabel’s mouth drops in disbelief until she sees their matching wedding rings and realizes what’s going on. “Are…are you two married?”

The woman smiles and says, “Six years now. Liz was one of my bridesmaids.”

Isabel smiles thinly and thinks about the hundred different ways should could kill Michael. “That’s great! Well, if you see Liz…tell her I’m looking for her. It was nice to meet you…” She prompts the woman for her name.

“Jennifer…and this is Greg. He’s the head of the research department Liz works in.” She says this proudly, beaming at her husband.

“Right…well, have a great time tonight!” Isabel smiles and quickly escapes, scanning the crowd for Michael…the buffoon. When she gets her hands on him…

She spots him close by, talking to someone and she makes a beeline toward him. When she reaches him, she grabs his arm and says, “I need to talk to you.” dragging him away without waiting for a response. She pulls him into a corner of the room and says, “You idiot!”

“What?” He ducks away when she slaps his arm.

“Liz isn’t married…that guy is her boss and I just met his wife…and guess what? She’s not Liz!!” She rolls her eyes and says, “God, Michael…what made you tell Max that? You know he was destroyed.”

“Hey…how was I supposed to know? I was talking to her about my painting and he came up and put an arm around her…going on about how his wife liked my painting. I just thought…” He shrugs, thinking now that he made a pretty big leap in logic.

Isabel sighs loudly and says, “Well, the damage is done. But you’re telling him when you get home.”

He nods and asks, “You think we should call him and tell him now?”

“No…he didn’t bring his phone with him.” Isabel sees Ben heading toward her and says, “Just…make sure you tell him tonight.” She starts to move away toward Ben, but not before she glares at Michael one last time.

~~~~~~~~~~

Amy glances at Max again. They’ve been walking for about fifteen minutes…she’d taken her shoes off six blocks ago. The night’s a little chilly but she insisted on joining him when he said he just wanted to walk home. She and Max aren’t close exactly, but they’ve been friends for years and she’s worried about him. She knows he doesn’t date much, Isabel talks to her about nothing but Max at work in her attempt to get them together.

That girl at the party…Liz. Something happened there. She doesn’t know what, but she could practically feel their pain at seeing each other. Did he break up with her? Did she break up with him? Did someone cheat? And who’s Zan? There are too many possibilities…but one thing she did know was that they both still love each other.

“So…” She says, deciding to start a conversation…whether Max joins in or not. “Liz seemed nice. Old girlfriend?”

He doesn’t say anything for a while, but finally, “Not really.”

He doesn’t offer more and she looks at him pointedly, letting him know she’s willing to listen. “Look, if you don’t wanna talk about it, that’s fine. But it might help.”

He looks away from her and sighs, noticing for the first time how chilly it is. He looks back over at Amy and notices her bare arms hugging herself for warmth. Taking off his jacket, he drapes it over her shoulders and says, “Sorry…I’ve been in my own little world.”

She smiles, grateful for the warmth and doesn’t say anything…waiting to see if he’ll talk. God knows she’s blabbed on to him plenty of times about her personal life.

“She’s…we’ve known each other since we were kids. We grew up in Roswell together.” He says, not really knowing how to explain his relationship to Liz.

“Ah…childhood sweethearts.” Amy says with a smile.

Max shakes his head. “No…not really. We never really talked, or hung out in the same groups. She…I guess you could say I worshipped her from afar. I never had the nerve to talk to her.”

Amy looks at him, disbelieving. “Are you serious? Why? I’m sure you had girls draped all over you when you were younger. Frankly, I’m sure you’d have girls draped all over you now if you’d let them.” She may be gay, but she’s not blind.

Max smiles and says, “Thanks, but I don’t think so. Liz was the smartest, prettiest girl in school…I used to just watch her work in this restaurant her parents owned. I knew everything about her…what made her laugh…what made her angry. I knew what every smile she had meant…”

He’s lost in remembering and looks down at Amy and realizes he must sound like a freak. “Sorry…I must sound like a stalker.”

“Sort of…but it’s sweet.” She smiles at him. “So, unrequited love…I assume you did talk to her eventually.”

“Yah…kind of. But by then it was too late…me, Isabel and Michael moved here.” He skips over what really happened, hoping she won’t ask more about it. “Then we ran into her a few years ago…but…it’s complicated.”

“Why does it have to be complicated? You obviously have feelings for each other…and they go both ways…believe me, I could see that much. It’s so obvious.” She knows there’s more to the story but doesn’t want to poke her head where it doesn’t belong.

“No.” He shakes his head. “No…she’s married.” He looks away then, and she sees the sadness return to his face.

“Really? Hm.” She says, wondering.

He sees her thinking and asks, “Yah, why?”

“Oh, well, she wasn’t wearing a ring.” She shrugs. “And the way she was acting, I find it hard to believe she’s married to someone else. If she is, I feel sorry for the poor guy.”

“Why?”

She looks at him like he’s dense. “Because she obviously loves you.”

He just looks at her a moment before looking away. No…she couldn’t have seen that, because all he saw was Liz’s nervousness. Of course, he was a little busy trying to keep his own emotions from getting out of control. “No…she can’t love me.” He says sadly.

“Well, you should have at least put the poor girl out of her misery.” When he looks at her questioningly, she laughs and says, “She was so self-conscious when she saw you were with me. She kept looking at me, worried about what she looked like in comparison. I know body language…that girl was jealous. You should have told her we weren’t together…you know, like a couple. I felt bad for her. I’ve been in her shoes before.”

He’s looking at her like she’s crazy and she rolls her eyes. “Men. I swear…I’m so glad I don’t have to deal with you. You never see what’s right in front of your eyes.” She shakes her head and smiles, playfully swatting him on the arm.

~~~~~~~~~~

When they get home, Alex leaves Liz to curl up on the couch…she hasn’t stopped crying…and goes to get the phone. He calls Maria and hands the phone to Liz while he goes in the kitchen to get some ice cream out of the freezer.

When he comes back in with ice cream and two spoons, he sets it down on the coffee table as Liz sobs into the phone.

“And he was trying to leave because he didn’t want to see me. And he was there with this woman…this tall, beautiful, gorgeous woman.”

Alex hands her a spoon and hits the speakerphone button on the phone base. “Hey Maria, I’m here, too.” He says.

Maria says hi to him quick before saying, “Liz, I don’t understand. I thought that bond thingy was the other way around…I thought he was the one still connected to you.”

“He is.” And Liz cries even louder.

“Well maybe it faded or something…I don’t know. But why are you so upset? I mean, did you want him to just sit around and pine for you the rest of his life?” Maria tries to reason with Liz.

“No, of course not. I just…I just thought…I don’t know.” She takes a deep breath and eats a spoonful of ice cream…calming down. “I guess I just always had this hope…that one day we’d see each other again and…” She sniffles, wiping her eyes with a tissue.

“And you’d both declare your undying love and live happily ever after?” Maria asks. “Is that what you want? Because Liz, I’ve never heard you talk about him like this…I’ve never heard you so upset about him. Not since…not since that day.” Her voice fades away…all three knowing she’s talking about the day Liz left Max at the airport. “Anyway, I don’t know what you saw tonight…or what you think you saw…that man is hopelessly in love with you. He always has been. If he thought for one second that you wanted to be with him, I just can’t see how he’d be able to stay away.”

“I don’t know, Maria. I just…I wasn’t expecting to see him tonight, and when I saw Michael, I just…”

“You saw Michael?!” Maria screams into the phone.

Alex’s spoon freezes on the way to his mouth and he and Liz look at each other for a moment before they both break out in a grin.

Liz scoops up some more ice cream and says innocently, “Um, yah…did I forget to tell you that?”

There’s silence on the other end before Maria says, “Well, yah…but, that’s not important. Liz, maybe you should tell him how you feel.”

“Why would I tell Michael how I feel?” Liz says deliberately.

“We’re not talking about Michael!” Maria yells into the phone.

Liz takes a bite of ice cream and with her mouth full, says, “Oh. Sorry. You know…he’s really talented.”

Alex can practically see the steam rising from the phone. “Liz!” Seconds tic by, then, “So I guess it’s safe to assume you’re feeling better now?”

“Yah. I just need to think about this…I wish I could just talk to him, you know? And I know he’s totally confused about the whole Zan thing.”

“Zan? What’s he got to do with this?” Maria asks. Alex is wondering the same thing and looks at Liz.

Liz sighs and says, “I saw Zan this morning. He was up to his usual bullshit. Anyway, when he was leaving he told me to have fun at the party tonight…only I didn’t tell him I was going to a party. I just thought…when I saw Max…I thought Zan had followed me there.”

“Oh my God…did you call Max Zan?” Maria asks.

“Yah…until I saw him up close.”

“You need to call him.” Maria says. “You have his number…or at least you have Isabel’s.”

Liz thinks about it and says, “Maybe.”

“Liz, at least call him and tell him about Zan. You need to do something about him. He’s like, stalking you…I really think Max should know about it.”

“I know…” Liz says, thinking about what she would say to Max if she actually did talk to him.

“So did he ask about me?” Maria says and Liz and Alex look at each other with a knowing smile.

“No, sorry Maria. But we didn’t talk long.” Liz tells her.

“Ok, well…crisis averted? Can I get on with my evening now?” Maria’s tone is cheerful again and they can tell she’s trying to hide her disappointment.

“Yah, thanks Maria. Sorry I freaked out like that.” Liz says.

“No prob. You know I love you. I’ll talk to you guys later…I have to run.”

“Bye Maria.” Liz and Alex call out before they hear the line go dead.

Alex looks over at Liz and asks, “You ok?”

She nods and says, “I’m better. I’m sorry I made you leave the party early.”

“Don’t worry about it. Besides, I filled up on all the free food.” He winks at her before helping himself to more ice cream. “So…what’s the deal? Are you gonna call him?”

Liz looks up and shrugs. “I don’t know…I’m scared.”

“When has that ever stopped you?”

“I just…I don’t…you know, if he really has found someone…I just want him to be happy and not screw it up for him.” Liz bits her lip, worrying about what she would even say to him if she did call him. She didn’t do a very good job of it at the party.

“Maybe I’ll call tomorrow.” She says, looking at the phone.

Alex pops up out of the chair and leaves the room…returning a couple of minutes later and drops Isabel’s business card in front of Liz. He scoots the phone closer to her and says, “No time like the present.”

Liz recoils from the phone, absently wondering how Alex knew where to find Isabel’s business card. “No…he’s probably not even home yet. Plus, he was with that woman…I don’t…I don’t wanna bother him.” The thought of her calling and interrupting anything intimate going on between Max and his girlfriend makes her sick to her stomach.

Alex shrugs and says, “Well, I’m gonna go change…maybe catch up on some reading. I’ll just let you do…whatever you’re gonna do. If you wanna talk, you know where I’m at. You should have told me about Zan showing up this morning.” He leans over and kisses her on the forehead and she turns to say something, but he’s already walking toward his bedroom.

Liz stares at the well-worn card and flips it over with her finger. Written on the back is: home: 555-3779. She stands up and paces the living room…glancing over at the phone…thinking. Should she call? Would he even want to talk to her? What the hell is she gonna say?

She sits down again and takes a deep breath, picking the phone up and dialing.

~~~~~~~~~~

Max unlocks the door to his loft and says, “Watch out, Bailey’s a little hyper-active when we first come home.” He walks in ahead of Amy. He felt bad about ruining her night and asked if she wanted to come up and watch a movie. Not having any other plans, she agreed.

As soon as they walk in, the dog immediately assaults them as he jumps wildly around in excitement. “Alright…alright. Hang on.” Max throws his keys on the table and bends down to pay attention to him. “I just saw you two hours ago.” He says, affectionately scratching his ears. “You act like I’ve been gone for weeks.”

Amy laughs and Max finally stands up. “I’m gonna go change. I’ll get some clothes for you from Isabel’s room…I’m sure she must have a pair of sweat pants and a t-shirt somewhere.”

Smiling, she says, “Thanks.”

As he’s walking back toward the bedrooms, he hears the phone ring. “Could you get that? It’s probably Isabel checking up on me.” He calls out to her.

“Sure.” She calls back, walking toward the phone. She picks up and answers, “Hello?”

There’s silence on the other end and she says, “Hello?” again.

“Yah, um…I was trying to reach Max Evans?” A small voice says on the other end.

“This is the place. He’s changing…can I tell him who’s calling?” Amy asks.

“Oh. Um…that’s…that’s ok. I’ll just…I’ll call back…”

The voice sounds familiar and Amy realizes who it is. “Is this Liz?” She asks quietly.

More silence, then, “Um, yah.”

“Hi Liz, it’s Amy. We met earlier?” Amy says, not believing it…looking back toward the bedroom.

“Oh, yah…hi. I’m sorry…I’ll just…I’ll call later…” Liz says, cursing herself for her stupidity in calling.

“No! I mean…no, I’ll get him. I’m sure he’ll wanna talk to you.” Amy says, peeking back down the hallway toward where Max went.

“That’s ok. I don’t wanna…please, don’t tell him I called.” Liz says this quickly, closing her eyes and holding her hand up to her head like a gun and shooting. Idiot!

“Liz, wait. You have the wrong idea. Just hold on…I know Max will want to talk to you.” Amy impatiently taps her foot on the floor, looking once again at the closed bedroom door wishing Max would hurry up.

“No, really. That’s nice of you…but I…” She opens her eyes and pulls the phone away from her ear when Amy starts yelling.

“Max! Get out here…NOW!” Amy yells and Bailey starts barking.

His bedroom door flies open and, satisfied, Amy sees him running out of his room pulling a shirt on and looking wildly around. “What…what’s wrong?”

She smiles sweetly at him and says into the phone, “Here he is, Liz…hold on.” She watches his mouth drop open as she holds the phone out to him. He doesn’t move and she shoves the phone closer to him and whispers, “I’m gonna go. Good luck.” She gives him the thumbs up sign as he takes the phone.

His heart is beating rapidly and he stares dumbly at the phone.

“Max…you have to actually put the phone to your ear for it to work right.” He looks over at Amy as she winks and opens the door, letting herself out.

Shit. He hopes she didn’t hang up. Quickly raising the phone, he says, “Liz?”

~TBC~

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Angel
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Part 17

Post by Angel » Fri Sep 05, 2003 11:04 am

Part 17

“Liz? Are you there?” He says again, hoping that she didn’t hang up when he didn’t answer right away.

“Hi Max…I’m…I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to bother you.” Liz has her hand covering her eyes. What the hell is she doing? She should have hung up when Amy answered.

“You’re not.” He says quickly, wondering why she’s calling him. “Is…is something wrong?”

“No…I mean yes. I mean no…no it’s nothing like…that.” Why can’t she make her mouth work? She wipes her sweaty palms on her dress. “I just…I was wondering if we could talk.”

“About what?” He closes his eyes, swearing to himself at how that sounded. “I mean, sure…of course we can.”

She exhales slowly and looks down, seeing that her hand is shaking. “I can just call later…I told Amy that but she insisted…”

“What? No, I can talk now. She left.” He has to keep her on the phone.

“Oh, I’m…I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to ruin your…your night.” Shit, what is she doing? He left the party with Amy and took her back to his place. Now Amy left because she called and Max is wondering why the hell he’s talking to her. “I’m sure you could still catch her…I’m sorry, Max. I’ll just talk to you later…”

“No…Liz, wait.” He remembers what Amy said to him earlier and he says, “We’re not…Amy and I aren’t dating or anything. She’s just a friend.” Is that why she’s calling…because she thinks he’s dating someone? Suddenly he feels angry…she’s married, and calling him because she’s wondering why he’s moving on with his life, too?

“Oh…good.” Liz says, relief washing over her. Now she feels better about calling to tell him what she wanted to.

Good? A look of disbelief comes to Max’s face and he says, “Is that all you wanted? Because it’s not really any of your business, Liz.” He can’t help the anger in his voice. He would have never thought Liz would think this way…that she would relish the thought of him tethered to her forever while she’s able to just move on. It just…not her.

“Max? No…I meant that it was good because I didn’t want…”

“I don’t get it, Liz. All I ever wanted was for you to be happy. And now…now that you are, why is it that you don’t want the same for me?” Max paces the kitchen, Bailey watching him with sad eyes…knowing his human is upset.

“No…I do. I don’t think you understand.” Liz doesn’t know how this conversation got so out of control. Why is he yelling at her? Why would he think she would call and be happy that he’s not with anyone…doesn’t he realize what she’s trying to tell him? Maybe he does and just doesn’t want anything to do with her. “Max, listen to me.”

“No. I don’t wanna hear anymore, Liz. Don’t call me about this again…please, just leave me alone.” He says this in a pleading voice before hanging the phone up. He stares at it for a minute before tossing it on the counter. He falls down into a chair and covers his face with his hands. Why? Why did she marry someone else if she still wanted to hold onto him? The Liz he knew wouldn’t want that. As he sits and listens to the ticking of the wall clock, he thinks that maybe he was too harsh with her on the phone. But dammit, doesn’t she know what talking to her does to him? Doesn’t she realize that it’s painful enough to know that she’s married to another man?

Looking up, he sees Bailey looking at him expectantly and he drops his hands. “Come on boy…let’s go for a walk.” He goes to put his shoes on and grabs the leash before heading out the door…Bailey happily following.

~~~~~~~~~~

Liz stares at the phone, dumbfounded. What the hell just happened? Slowly, she lets the phone slip from her fingers and she stares at the business card on the table…mocking her. Standing up, she grabs the card and angrily rips it to shreds before throwing it in the trash. What made her think that calling him was a good idea? What possible reason did she have to think that he might still actually have feelings for her? She’s so stupid!

She feels a tear fall onto her cheek and she wipes it away roughly. You will not cry…not anymore. Standing in the middle of the living room, she notices the dress she’s still wearing and rips it off on the way to her bedroom, throwing it in the corner along with her shoes.

Falling back on her bed, she stares at the ceiling in the dark. Why would he want to be tied to her with some stupid bond? She’s been such an idiot…all these years…dreaming about having a relationship with him. Dreaming about seeing him again, picking up the phone to call but hanging up out of fear. He doesn’t want her. She closes her eyes and pictures the images from his mind that she saw when they connected…all of her…all from when they were kids. Opening them, she realizes that he grew out his crush on her. She saw what she wanted to see. God, she feels so stupid now because he saw what she’d been dreaming about with him.

That damn bond…he must hate it…making him feel things for her that he doesn’t want to feel. Why did she let Maria and Alex talk her into calling him? She feels like the apartment is closing in around her…suffocating her. Smothering her with a blanket of a lifetime of wrong decisions…wrong paths taken. She’s 33 years old…this can’t be her life. Sitting up, all she can think is that she needs to get out of here. She needs to escape this mess her life has become and think.

Standing up, she takes a deep breath and pulls her suitcase down from the closet. As she starts throwing clothes in, she hears a knock on her door and calls out, “Hold on Alex…I’m not dressed.” Throwing on a pair of jeans and a sweater, she says, “Ok.”

When the door opens, Alex looks around the room then to the suitcase on the bed. “What’s going on?” He looks up at Liz who is pulling clothes from her closet and dumping them in the suitcase. “Liz?”

“I have to get out of here, Alex. I just need to get away…somewhere…by myself.”

Confused, Alex asks, “Out of the apartment? But where are you going?”

“Out of the apartment…out of this city.” Liz says as she throws a couple of pairs of shoes in the bag. She turns to Alex when he doesn’t say anything and she says, “He doesn’t want me, Alex.” Her chin quivers again and she clenches her jaw. No more crying.

“Liz…” He steps forward, but she holds her hand up.

“No…don’t. I’m done crying. I just don’t know what I’m feeling right now…I feel like…I don’t know, it’s weird. I feel like I’ve been on this wrong path for a long time now. I just need to stop. I feel like things just aren’t right…like the world is out of whack or something, you know?” She looks at him, knowing she must sound like a lunatic, but doesn’t know how to explain herself any better.

But instead, Alex just looks at her and nods his head. “Yah, I know.”

“Really?” She looks at him…really looks at him and can see that he knows exactly what she’s talking about.

He steps toward her, pulling her down on the bed to sit with him. “Yah…you know, those dreams I’ve been having? Ever since…”

She nods, understanding that he’s talking about when she was taken by aliens…something they don’t ever say aloud.

“It’s like…it’s like they really happened. Or…or like I saw it happen.” He runs his hand through his hair and says, “I just feel like what I’m seeing isn’t a dream, or something made up…but a memory…or other people’s memories. And sometimes…I know this is gonna sound strange, but sometimes I see things when I’m not sleeping.”

He waits then…for her to tell him he’s crazy. But she doesn’t. She just looks at him and her shoulders sag. “Oh God…me too. Alex, I see things all the time. Images…like scenes from a movie. And I know they’re things that never happened, but they seem so real. And I have this strong sense of déjà vu afterwards. It’s the strangest things…I mean, most of the time it’s not even anything I would ever think about myself so I know I’m not making it up in my mind.”

Alex stands up then. “You know when this all started. It has something to do with them, Liz. Do you think they’re doing this to us?”

She shakes her head and says, “No, I don’t think they’d even know how.”

“Yah, but Ava said she could make people see things…see things that weren’t really there.” Now that he knows Liz has been seeing things too, he’s convinced the aliens have them under some kind of mind control or something.

“Alex, no. That was different. I saw a mind warp and these are nothing like that.” Liz stands up with him. “This is something else…like, we’re seeing things that really happened…but in another dimension or something.” She looks up at him and shrugs. “I sound like a lunatic.”

Alex sits down and says, “You and me both.” He’s silent for minute…thinking. “I wonder if it’s been happening to Maria, too.”

Liz thinks about it and says, “Don’t you think she would have said something?”

“Yah…probably.” He says. “We got a little side-tracked. What’s this crazy talk about Max not wanting you?”

She frowns and says, “He told me he didn’t want to talk about it and to leave him alone. He hung up on me.” She looks down at the floor, then takes a deep breath…looking back up at Alex, steeling herself for the pity she knows will be there. “It’s ok. I mean, it was silly. It was just this stupid thing I’ve had in my head for so long…I just felt…here…” She puts her hand to her chest. “…in my soul, that we were supposed to be together.” She shakes her head and walks over to her dresser. “It was just childish.”

Alex frowns and says, “I have to admit, this is kind of coming out of left field for me. You haven’t said a word about Max for three years. But it’s not childish, Liz. You feel what you feel…no one can take that from you or say that it’s wrong.” A sudden thought pops in his mind and he can’t help but remember visions…dreams…that he’s had. A lot of them had Liz and Max in them. He even had one once where they had gotten married and they were all in some bar, dancing in celebration. Maybe it’s not so strange that she feels the way she does about him.

“Liz, maybe we should call one of them…Isabel maybe. I can call if you don’t want to. I just think there’s something to this…something that has to do with them.” Alex says, knowing she won’t want to tell them about it.

She surprises him by saying, “Yah. You’re probably right. But you call her.”

“Alright. I’ll call her tomorrow, ok?”

She nods and says, “I tore up her business card. It’s in the trash.” She looks up at him guiltily and sees him smile back at her.

“So…” He looks at her half-filled suitcase. “Still running away?”

She looks at her suitcase and sighs. “No. I guess I’m not going crazy…I’m staying.”

He smiles at her sadly and leaves to go fish the card out of the trash and tape it back together.

On his way back to his room, he stops at Liz’s door and says, “I’m gonna read for a while then hit the sack.”

She smiles and says, “I’m going to bed, too…all of a sudden I’m just exhausted.” She sees him smile back and she says, “Thanks Alex…I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

He nods at her and shuts her door.

~~~~~~~~~~

When Max gets back home, he’s not surprised to see Michael has returned. He’s sitting on the couch in sweatpants and a t-shirt watching TV.

“Hey, how’d the auction go?” He says, hanging Bailey’s leash on its hook.

Michael stands up quickly and turns around. “Where have you been?” He was worried when he got home and Max wasn’t there…but realized Bailey was gone, too. It was still a long time to be gone for a walk and Michael was almost ready to call Isabel.

Max looks at him oddly and says, “I took Bailey for a walk. Why?”

“Max, look. There’s something I have to tell you…about Liz.” He starts, but is surprised when Max turns away.

“I don’t wanna hear it.” Max says from the kitchen.

“No…I think you do.” Michael says, following him.

No…I really think I don’t.” Max gives him a warning glare and turns to go to his bedroom.

Confused, Michael calls after him. “Ok. Just thought you should know that I was wrong…she isn’t married.” He shrugs and walks back to the couch…counting silently in his head. One, two, three, four…

“What are you talking about?” Max appears in front of him out of nowhere.

Michael grins and says, “Turns out that guy was her boss, not her husband. I made a mistake.” He shrugs and continues when Max doesn’t say anything. “He was talking about his wife and had his arm around her…I just assumed he was talking about Liz. Anyone would have made the same mistake…”

“Shit!” Max says under his breath. “God damn it, Michael.” Max stalks away and rushes back to his bedroom. Michael’s just happy he didn’t get the crap beat out of him and rewinds the movie he was watching.

“Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit!” Max turns around in his bedroom, not sure about what he’s doing. Sitting down on his bed, he replays the conversation he had with Liz…both at the party and on the phone. Oh God…what was she trying to tell him? He wouldn’t even listen to her. Pulling his shirt off, he grabs another one from his closet and walks back into the living room.

“And you didn’t think you should maybe…I don’t know…call and tell me this little piece of information?!” Max yells at Michael.

“I did. But Isabel said you didn’t have your phone with you…so she said to tell you when I got home. Only you weren’t here when I got home.” Michael continues watching TV, hoping that’s the end of it.

Buttoning up his shirt, Max looks at the clock. Fuck, it’s after eleven already. He glances at the phone and thinks of calling instead of going over there. No, he needs to see her…to explain. He can’t wait until morning…he has to go over there now. Grabbing his keys and jacket, he rushes out of the apartment…slamming the door behind him as Michael flinches on the couch.

Max walks to the subway, going over what he’s going to say to her when he sees her. Apologize…no, beg and grovel for her forgiveness. Then he’ll just explain that Michael’s a total and complete jackass. No…no blaming. He has no excuse for how he treated her on the phone. She must hate him. Or at least think he’s gone schizophrenic in the last three years.

When the train stops, he’s practically bouncing at the doors waiting for them to open. When they do, he bolts and runs across the platform and up the stairs to the street. Running as fast as he can to her apartment, he glances at his watch. Shit. It’s almost 11:30. When he finally reaches her street, he swears when he sees the lights are dark at her place.

Running up the front stairs, he waves his hand over the door to unlock it before running up to the second floor and to the door he assumes is hers. He hesitates, looking across the hall…and knows that this door is right. He raises his hand and takes a deep breath before knocking. He waits for what seems like eternity and knocks again…a little louder.

Mid knock, he hears a lock disengage, and another, and another…he looks down at the door and sees no fewer that five deadbolts in the door and he shakes his head. The door opens a crack and Alex appears, his eyes droopy. “Max.” He says it like he’s not surprised to see him here.

“Alex…I…can I talk to Liz?” He looks at Alex hopefully.

“She’s sleeping.” Alex looks at him and thinks it looks like he ran all the way across town to get here. “It’s late…why don’t you try calling her in the morning.”

Max’s face falls when he realizes Alex isn’t going to let him in. “Please…I really…I have to apologize. Help me out here?” He pleads with Alex, trying to appeal to his I’m-a-guy-who-fucks-up-a lot sense.

“Sorry buddy. Even if she was awake, I don’t think she’d talk to you right now. You fucked up. Go home and wait until tomorrow to apologize.” Alex starts to shut the door but Max stops him with his foot.

“Wait.” He’s desperate. He doesn’t know what possesses him to say what he does next, but he does. “I’m not moving from this spot until you tell her I’m here.”

Alex looks at him like he’s nuts and slams the door on his foot, making him pull it back. When the door shuts in his face, he hears the locks re-engaging and Alex’s voice from the other side of the door. “You fuck with these locks with your heebee jeebee shit Max, and I swear to God I’ll call the cops.” When the last bolt slips into place, Max hears Alex’s footsteps retreat and his head falls on the door.

“Shit.” He rolls his eyes at his stupidity. Looking around the landing, he turns his back against the wall and slides down it…preparing himself for a long, uncomfortable night.

As he shuffles back to his bedroom, Alex stops at Liz’s door and cracks it open. He sees her curled up in her blankets…still asleep and he closes her door quietly. He doesn’t know what’s going on with Max, but he’s not letting anything else happen to Liz tonight.

~TBC~

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Part 18

Post by Angel » Sun Sep 07, 2003 9:42 am

Not that I'm trying to defend Michael or anything, BUT, he was waiting anxiously for Max to get home so he could tell him. He's also the one who wanted to call Max right away from the party, but Isabel said to just wait until he got home. Yes, he was worried about how Max would react...but remember, this is season 1 Michael...who never had any significant relationships outside of Max & Isabel.

As far as Max and Liz not communicating...yes, they're frustrating, aren't they? ;) But don't worry, they'll get it right eventually. They're just both afraid and unsure. Max, because he's filled with anxiety of who he is and what Liz went through because of that. He wants her to have a normal life...something he can't ever have. And Liz, because she's always had strong feelings for Max and she's unsure of his feelings for her outside of his bond to her. Remember, they've never really talked outside of her experience being kidnapped. The only time she's heard anything about how Max feels about her is from Nasedo.

I have a feeling you guys will be happy with the next part, though. ;)

Part 18

“Michael, where’s Max? He’s not in his room.” Isabel asks Michael from his bedroom door the next morning. “And it doesn’t look like his bed’s been slept in.”

He groans and rolls over. “How should I know? I think he went over to Liz’s last night.”

“Did you tell him?” She asks, impatient.

“Yah…now let me go back to sleep” He mumbles and pulls the covers over his head.

Isabel walks to the kitchen and looks down at Bailey. “Well, I guess I get to walk you this morning.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Liz wakes up early and crawls out of bed. She puts her running pants on and a long sleeved top before slipping her shoes on. She walks out of her room, putting her long hair up in a sloppy knot at the top of her head. Stopping in the bathroom, she washes her face and brushes her teeth, and she hears Alex is already up and making coffee. Looking up at her reflection, she grimaces at the tired circles under her eyes and the haggard look of her face. When did she get to be so old?

When she walks into the kitchen, she says absently, “I’m going for a run.”

“Wait. Max came by last night.” Alex says, getting up from the table.

“What? When?” She stops at the door, looking back at him. Max was here? What for?

“After you were asleep. He really wanted to talk to you but I told him to call in the morning. He even threatened to stand there all night until I told you he was here.” Alex rolls his eyes.

Liz wonders why he came over so late…and what he wanted to talk to her about that was so important. “Oh.” She looks at Alex a moment and their eyes lock…both thinking the same thing. Walking to the door, Alex waits while Liz unlocks all the bolts and opens the door.

“I guess he was serious.” Alex says as they both stand there looking down on a sleeping Max curled up in the hallway.

Liz frowns at how uncomfortable he looks and bends down next to him. Shaking his shoulder, she says, “Max…wake up.”

He opens his eyes quickly and jerks his head up. Looking around, he realizes where he’s at and looks up at Liz. “Liz.”

“What are you doing here, Max?” She asks.

He sits up slowly, trying to shake off the fog and says, “I was hoping to talk to you.”

Liz backs up as Alex bends down to help Max to his feet.

When he stands up, he runs a hand through his hair and looks at Liz. “I…I know you must hate me right now. But…can I just talk to you? Just five minutes…please?”

Liz looks at him like he’s crazy and says, “I can’t believe you slept out here all night, Max. What could be so important that it couldn’t wait for morning?” She looks at Alex hopelessly and walks inside. But she can’t help the butterflies in her stomach at the thought that Max was sleeping outside of her door all night.

Alex motions for Max to go inside and says, “Come on…I just made some coffee.”

When Max walks in, he looks around the small apartment and rubs the sleep from his eyes. This place looks like Liz. It’s cozy…each piece of furniture looks like it was carefully thought about before placed. He sees a small blanket hanging on the couch and can see her curled up there, reading…or watching TV.

Turning toward the kitchen, he asks, “Can I…use your bathroom?” Alex points the way and he walks down the hall off the living room. He walks in the bathroom and shuts the door before turning on the sink and splashing cold water on his face. When he looks up in the mirror he grimaces at the stubble on his face and the way his hair is standing up all over the place.

Smoothing his hands through his hair, trying to calm it down, he sees some soap and washes his hands. When he’s drying his face, he holds the towel up and breathes in the scent of Liz…she’s everywhere.

When he finally comes out of the bathroom, he hears Alex and Liz whispering in the kitchen. They stop when he steps out of the hallway and Alex smiles, holding out a cup of coffee for him. “Here Max…have a seat.”

Max walks over and accepts the cup gratefully, pulling a chair out and sitting at the table across from Liz.

“Well, I’m gonna just…go…somewhere that’s away.” Alex backs from the kitchen and heads to the door. When he opens it, he turns around and waves his cell phone at Liz, letting her know to call him if she needs him and he leaves.

“You know, I don’t think Alex would have made you sleep out there all night if he thought you would really do it.” Liz says to him, taking a sip of her coffee.

“I’m sorry. I was just…desperate.” Max looks down at the table…all the things he had planned to say to her while he sat outside flying from his head.

“I don’t understand, Max. What’s this all about? I thought…last night you said…”

He looks up at her then and says, “Liz, I’m sorry.” He shakes his head. “I am so sorry that I…that I talked to you like that on the phone. I don’t know what I was thinking…I mean, I do…but that’s not important. You were trying to tell me something and I wouldn’t listen. I was just…I was a jerk.”

“No, you were right…it wasn’t any of my business.” Liz says, looking away. “I…I shouldn’t have called.”

“No…I mean, I’m glad you did. I was in shock…from seeing you at the party…then you were calling me. I didn’t know which end was up. Liz, I was an ass…please, forget what I said. I didn’t mean any of it…please.”

She looks back at him, into his eyes and knows he’s being sincere. She doesn’t know what to say to him…she finds herself as tongue tied as she was on the phone with him last night. “Yah…I was a little surprised to see you there…last night, at the party.”

“I was there for…”

“Michael…yah, I know. I saw him.” Liz finishes for him. “That painting…it threw me when I saw it.”

Max nods, understanding how it would. She must have been shocked when she first saw it and realized what it was. “Why did you think I was Zan?”

Liz looks away and says, “Oh…um, yah. Sorry about that.” She looks over at him, embarrassed. “He um…he said something to me yesterday morning about the party and I just thought…I thought he’d followed me there.”

“What do you…are you saying that you’ve been seeing Zan?” Max feels his stomach flop…horrified at the thought that she’s been spending time with his double.

“No!” She says loudly, startling herself before dropping her voice. “No, it’s more like he’s been seeing me. He kind of just shows up…randomly…trying to get me to go out with him.”

He stands up, worry creasing his face. “How long has this been going on?”

She bites her lip and looks up at him. “Three years.”

“Jesus, Liz.” Max turns away and runs a hand through his hair. “Why didn’t you tell us?” He turns back to her. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Max, sit down. It’s not that big a deal…really.” She shrugs. “He seems innocent enough…and he never…he’s never tried anything. I can take care of myself. I don’t need to bother you just because some guy’s harassing me.”

“This isn’t some guy. He’s an alien.” He sits down again, wondering what Zan is up to. “What does he want with you?”

Liz looks at him, slightly offended. So she picks up her coffee and shrugs, “I’m pretty sure what he wants is to fuck me.” before taking a sip and smiling when Max chokes slightly and looks at her in shock. “Max, really…I can handle him. I’m sorry I thought you were him last night…it’s just…I never expected to see you there.”

Trying to recover from Liz’s comment, Max says, “You wouldn’t bother me…if you called. I want you to know that.” He swallows and says, “So…what was it you were trying to tell me last night? I promise I won’t hang up on you.” He smiles weakly at her, hoping she’ll tell him.

He sees a blush creep over her face and his heart reacts to it by beating faster.

She smiles uncomfortably and tucks a stray strand of hair behind her ear making his insides melt. Finally she looks up at him and what he sees in her eyes stops his breathing. Is she going to tell him what he hopes she’s going to tell him…or is it just an elaborate, wishful fantasy his mind has created in its recent delirium?

“I um…” She laughs nervously and pulls at the hem of her top. “Wow…this is hard.” She looks up at him again and she takes a deep breath.

He shakes his head and says, “It’s ok…I’ll help you…whatever it is.” He’s starting to get scared…wondering if she’s alright.

“Max…” She mentally stomps her nerves down and decides she just needs to spit it out. “I…I can’t stop thinking about you…about us. It’s crazy, and totally irrational…but Max, it’s not just because of what happened…I’ve felt this way my whole life. I’ve just been like, sleepwalking through my life…ignoring it, like I knew deep down that we were just meant to be together and that someday…poof…it would just happen.”

She stands up and starts pacing. “The strange thing is, Maria saw it, she always knew…and I kept denying it. I didn’t even think about why. I never thought about why, because my soul knew…I was just waiting for you to come for me…like somehow I knew you would.” She wipes her tears away and continues. “At first, I thought it was because you healed me, and I knew this secret about you that no one else knew. It made me feel closer to you. But it’s more than that. I don’t know how to explain it…I just feel it, Max.”

She stops to look at him to make sure he’s still listening, a little disappointed that he hasn’t said anything yet. So she decides to forge ahead with what Alex wanted her to bring up with him. “There’s something else, Max. Ever since we went back to Roswell…I’ve been seeing things. Flashes of things that have never happened. It’s almost like they’re real…they are real. Like, a couple of years ago, I was at a deli for lunch and outside I saw this vision of you and I on the sidewalk, and we were laughing and playing with this dog. Maria and Kyle were with us…which is weird, don’t you think? I see Kyle a lot in these visions and it just doesn’t make sense. And last night, when I got to the party, I saw a vision of us at our high school prom. We never went to the prom together, Max. And Alex…he…”

Max stands up then and she stops talking. He shakes his head and takes a step toward her, putting his hand up. “Can we just…rewind for a second?”

She looks up at him, tears filling her eyes and she sniffles. “Which part?” Oh God, he didn’t hear her…now she has to go back and say it all over again.

“The part where you said you can’t stop thinking about me.”

“Oh.” She says, her voice fading. “I um…do you want me to start over?” He’s walking closer to her…slowly…like a cat.

He shakes his head as he gets closer. “No…” Stepping close to her, he brings his hand to the side of her face and runs it up into her hair. “I’m going to kiss you now.”

She nods her head slowly…mesmerized. “Ok.” She whispers, just as his lips descend onto hers. Her arms wrap around his back and her hands move up, under his jacket…pulling him closer. She can feel his heart beating wildly against hers as he brings his other arm around her waist and lifts her against him so she’s on her toes. She sighs as she opens her mouth against his and she hears him whisper her name before she gives herself completely over to him and what he’s doing to her.

Frantically pushing his jacket down his arms for him, Liz brings her hands up and threads her fingers through his hair. Feeling his hands on her back and lifting her against him tightly, she moans at the contact and he breaks the kiss abruptly, dragging his mouth down to her neck just under her ear. Oh God…what’s he doing to her? She feels like her skin is on fire…and she can’t get close enough to him. Her head falls back as his hands move down to her butt, lifting her until her legs wrap around his waist.

They’re a flurry of arms, hands and mouths and in their rush to get as close as possible, Max feels his balance thrown off just as Liz wraps her legs around him. Moving back to attack her mouth, he mindlessly staggers in search of a solid surface and they both moan when he slams her back into the fridge. Happy to be back on balance, Max presses Liz to the fridge and moves his mouth down once again to her neck and he hears her sigh in satisfaction, causing his body to react and press into her harder.

“Oh God…” Liz moans, the room spins as Max bites her earlobe and licks the sensitive area below it. She turns her head to give him better access and feels the cool steel of the refrigerator door against her cheek. She can hear the squeaking of the refrigerator as it protests the unaccustomed weight being forced against it. They both register the sound at same time and it invades their haze, causing them to slowly come to their senses.

Max leans his forehead against the cold steel…closing his eyes and taking a deep breath. He smiles at their position just he feels a small laugh from Liz breeze by his ear. What is he doing totally attacking her in the middle of her kitchen? Slowly, he releases her legs and lets her slide down to the floor, biting back a groan at the contact. He doesn’t let go of her and feels her hands run down his back, resting at the waistband on his jeans. Trying to get his breathing under control, he finally pulls back and smiles at the flushed skin and kiss-swollen lips he sees on Liz’s face.

Liz looks up at Max, slightly embarrassed. When he steps back, she smiles back at him and finds herself speechless. The way he’s looking at her, like he wants to devour her…she can’t stop the smile inside her from showing through on her face.

“I um…I’m sorry.” He starts, but when he sees her smile start to fade, he quickly says, “No…I mean, I’m not sorry. I just didn’t mean to attack your poor refrigerator. I lost control for a minute there.”

The phone ringing cuts through the air like a lightning bolt and they both jump and look toward the offending sound. Smiling, Liz looks back over at Max before walking into the living room to answer it. She clears her throat and Max smiles at the way she makes an attempt to smooth her clothes and hair before answering it…like the person on the other end would know what they were doing.

“Hello.” She says, and looks over at Max almost immediately as she listens to the person on the other end. “Um…yah. Hold on.” He sees her face flush again with embarrassment and she hands the phone toward him. “It’s Isabel.”

He steps forward to take it and she quickly walks back to the kitchen, bending down to the floor to pick up the magnets they knocked off the fridge.

“Isabel?” He asks…wondering why she would be calling here.

“Max…I’m sorry for calling over there. I was just starting to get worried, and wanted to make sure you were alright.” Isabel says. He can hear the hesitation in her voice…worried that he’ll get mad at her for tracking him down.

“It’s ok. I should have left you a note.” He says, watching Liz as she stands back up and replaces the fallen magnets carefully…as if they each have their own specific spot. He can’t take his eyes off of her. Her hair that’s slowly falling out of its rubber band…her flushed face…her shaking hands…her swollen lips. He did that. Her sighs and moans are still ricocheting around his head and he swallows with the fresh memory of her body against his.

“So, I guess since you’re with Liz, I can assume Michael told you the truth? You weren’t too hard on him, were you?”

“He told me. Look, Is…I’ll talk to you later when I get home.” Max is anxious to get her off the phone and back to Liz.

“Ok. See you soon?”

“Yah, bye.” He hangs up the phone and drops it back on the couch.

Liz looks over at him and says, “So um…she must have been pretty worried when you didn’t go home last night.”

“I think she was more worried about what I did to Michael.” He runs a hand through his hair and sits on the armrest of the couch as she walks into the living room…his eyes on her every move.

“Michael? Why would you do anything to Michael?” She sits on the corner of the coffee table, wanting to be close to him, but unsure of where they stand right now.

Disappointed at the distance she’s keeping, he shakes his head and says, “He uh…last night, he told me you were married…to that guy. The one you were dancing with.”

Liz’s eyes go wide and her brow furrows in confusion. “He wha…why would he tell you that?” Is he talking about Greg? Why would Michael think she was married to Greg?

Max shrugs and says, “I don’t know…I was a little too freaked at the time, thinking about how I’d just hung up on you to pay attention to him.”

“Oh…” Events from last night replay through her head and she sits up straighter. “Oh! Oh God…he…he thought Greg was talking about me!” Liz puts her hand over her mouth, trying to hide a smile as she remembers the look on Michael’s face as they walked away. “Max…Greg is my boss. And already married to a good friend of mine.”

Max rolls his eyes and says, “Yah…I know that now.”

Liz starts piecing together everything that happened last night. Max leaving the party…the things he said to her on the phone…what he must have thought she was saying to him. God, he thought she was mad that he was dating when she was happily married. “Max…oh my God, you must have thought I was being so cruel.”

“I didn’t know what to think. It doesn’t matter Liz…I still shouldn’t have spoken to you that way. I was suddenly so angry…with you. And I hated myself for feeling that way.” He looks over at her and says, “Liz, I meant it when I said I wanted you to be happy. And last night, when I saw you dancing with him…you were…you were laughing and having a good time. And I was ok then. I was…at peace, knowing that you were living your life and you were really happy with it. But when I saw you at the elevator, what I saw in your eyes confused me. I should have listened to you on the phone. I was just blinded…by jealousy, I guess…and confusion.”

Liz reaches forward and tentatively touches his hand. “I know. You should have seen me when I got home last night. Alex had to make an emergency call to Maria and break out the ice cream.”

“But, if you felt this way…why didn’t you ever contact me? Why didn’t you tell me?” Max asks, hating that so much time has passed. Time they could have spent together.

Liz looks down at the floor and lets her hand drop. “I don’t know. I don’t even think my mind registered what the rest of me was telling it until last night.” She looks up at him then and says, “You know, when I told you earlier that somewhere inside me I just knew that we would be together? I just never felt any urgency…I felt that it would just happen, when we were ready for it to happen. I don’t know how else to explain it. And when I realized it was you last night…for a split second I was so excited, I thought my heart would burst. I thought, ‘this is it.’ But when I saw you with…with someone, a beautiful someone…I felt like melting into the floor. You weren’t there for me…you were even trying to leave because you knew I was there. That’s when I realized fully that I’d been waiting all this time. Waiting for you.”

“Liz…” Max starts to say, but she stops him.

“No, wait. I don’t want you to think that this is just because I saw you with someone else. I mean, it sort of is…but Maria said something that made me think. When we were talking, she asked me if I just expected you to live the rest of your life pining away for me. And immediately, I said of course not. But part of me thought that that’s exactly what I expected. Because I knew that I would be doing the same…and that someday we would be together. And if you really had moved on…and the bond had faded like Maria suggested…I was scared. Scared because what my soul had known for so long wouldn’t be true anymore. And then there was that bond. I just…I didn’t want to know that you were only with me because you felt like you had to be. So many things have been going through my head and I just didn’t know what was real and what wasn’t.”

“Liz…” He says.

But she holds up her hand and says, “When we…when I agreed to remove the bond, I was happy to. Not because I would be free of you…it was the exact opposite. I knew that if the bond was removed, then we could have a chance…to be together. And we would both know it was because we wanted to be together, not because of something forcing us to be. I was so confused afterwards, and then you wouldn’t look at me and I realized you were still bonded to me. My world just fell apart because I knew then that we couldn’t be together because we wouldn’t know if it was real…I would never know if it was real.”

“Liz, stop.” Max grabs her hand and makes her look up at him. “Bond or no bond, I’ve loved you since the first day I saw you. You have to know that…you had to have seen that. Don't you realize what you are to me...what you're always gonna be? You're the love of my life. Everyone else is gonna be second best…”

Liz zones off before finishing for him, “There'll never be another you.” She whispers this and looks up at the surprised look on his face.

“Yah…how did you know I was…” The air shifts around him and Liz’s living room changes into her balcony above the Crashdown. How many nights did he sit across the street and just watch her…knowing she was up there. So close…but galaxies away from him. He sees Liz…a younger Liz, crying. She’s looking at a point behind him with a pleading look in her eyes and it fades quickly, bringing him back to Liz’s living room. Scrambling to his feet, he walks to the spot where he just saw Liz crying and looks back at confused Liz. “Did you…did you see that?”

“What?” She looks around him. “See what?”

Realizing that she didn’t he shakes his head and says, “Nothing.” A vague thought tries to intrude into the back of his mind that Liz was talking about getting visions earlier. But by that point, whatever she was saying was going right over his head…once she said that she couldn’t stop thinking about him.

He bends down, pulls her from the coffee table and says, “I’m tired and I think we just need to clear up this one thing. Are you saying what I think…hope your saying?”

She looks up at him hopefully and says, “I don’t know. What I’ve been trying to say is…I want you, I want to be with you. That is, if you want me, too. I…love you, Max. I always have.” There, she said it…she’s laid her heart and soul open in front of him. She feels relieved finally…free. And she waits to see how he reacts.

Slowly, he smiles and runs his hand over her hair. “I’ve dreamed of you saying that to me my entire life.” He searches her face and sees only the truth there. As she smiles back at him…at his words…he says, “I love you, Liz Parker.”

Their eyes lock together and he bends down, lightly brushing his lips across hers before pulling her close to him, wrapping his arms around her and burying his face in her hair. He feels her wrap her arms around him and for the first time in a long time, he feels totally at peace.

~TBC~

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Angel
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Part 19

Post by Angel » Tue Sep 09, 2003 12:45 pm

Geez...you guys have no faith in me. ;) You know me too well. :twisted: Hope you like the next part...

Part 19

Max smiles as he walks the last block to his loft. Earlier, he walked out of Liz’s and down to the street with her before she took off for her run. They decided to meet for a late breakfast at 11, giving him time to go home and shower and giving her time to go for her run and shower. He has plenty of time to go home and spend a little time with Bailey…he’s probably missing him since he didn’t come back last night.

As soon as he walks into the loft, Bailey comes running. After he throws his keys down and takes off his jacket, he picks Bailey up and carries him into the living room. “Hey boy…did you miss me?” He scratches the dog all over as he’s covered in slobbery dog kisses.

Isabel and Michael come out when they hear Max come in and Isabel says, “Hey Max…sorry about calling earlier.”

Max is grinning at Bailey and he says, “Don’t worry about it.”

When they walk into the living room they stop to look at Max and Michael says, “Man, you look like shit.”

Max looks up at him with a stupid grin on his face and says, “Yah…I slept out in Liz’s hallway last night.”

Isabel’s eyebrows shoot up. “And you’re happy about that? She made you sleep outside?”

“No, Alex did.” He says as he stands up. “Now, if you’ll excuse me…I need to take a shower.” He leaves the two of them staring after him…stumped over his mood.

Michael thought for sure Max would be pissed at him when got back. He was surprised he didn’t get more of an ass-chewing last night. Something good must have happened with Liz…and whatever it is, he’s not about to complain.

When Max gets out of the shower and is in his room getting ready, he hears a knock on the door. “Yah?”

The door cracks open and he sees Isabel. “Can I come in?” She glances in the room quickly to see if he’s dressed.

“Sure.” Watching her come in, he’s apprehensive about what she wants and hopes it’s not some attempt to talk him out of seeing Liz. Since that mess a few years ago, he’s never talked about Liz with either Isabel or Michael, and he’s resisted any conversation Isabel tries to bring up about her. He never told them that Cal wasn’t able to release his connection to Liz…he didn’t see the point. Isabel would have felt sorry for him and fussed over him and he didn’t want their pity.

She sees Max eyeing her warily and she sighs. When did their relationship become so…strained? Well, she knows the answer to that…when he found out she was keeping things from him. She can’t count the number of times both Max and Michael have hounded her to tell them how she knows about the Granolith and why she said the things she did. Although the questions have faded over time, she still sees it in Max’s eyes whenever they talk…the betrayal. They’ve never kept anything from each other and knowing that she’s been keeping something from him this long…nothing’s really been the same. “So, I take it by the grin on your face that you and Liz talked?”

He nods, sitting on the bed to tie his shoes as he looks up at her questioningly.

Trying to keep her tone light and a smile on her face she says, “So…are you…together now?”

He sees the strained look on her face and his shoulders sag. He knew it. “We’re going to breakfast. Beyond that…I don’t know.” He pulls on a shoe and starts to lace it angrily. “What’s this about Is?”

“N…nothing. I was just wondering.” She nervously tugs her shirt down and picks imaginary lint from her sleeve. “I just want you to be careful, that’s all.” She shouldn’t have asked him about it. Any mention of Liz always gets his defenses up, but she was hoping to find out how serious this is. She has to admit that she was relieved when Max made no effort to contact or see Liz since they got back. From the little she knows, it just seems that the two of them being together is not a good thing.

When she looks up, she blinks when she sees Max studying her closely. She laughs nervously and says, “What?”

“I need to ask you something. And I’m hoping I might get a straight answer…for once.” Max says, watching her face suddenly transform to stone…preparing to lie to him yet again.

“Ok.” Isabel says carefully…wondering where this is going.

“Do you ever see things? Like, visions of events that never happened?” He watches the color completely drain from her face and the brief look of surprise that appears before she covers it up quickly.

“Um…visions? What kind of visions?” Thoughts start swirling around in her head and she glances around Max’s room, hoping for a hole to crawl through. Max is having visions, too? Why didn’t he ever say anything before? Her heart starts thundering in her chest and she can feel the panic welling up inside of her.

Max stands up and takes a step toward her. “You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?” He can see the look on her face, the fear. “Does this have something to do with the Granolith?”

She glances toward the door and says, “Max…you know I…”

“Stop lying to me!” He shouts at her, making her freeze in place. “It’s not just me, Isabel…Liz is having them too.”

Shocked, Isabel stares at Max but before she can say anything Michael appears at the door. “What’s going on?”

“Michael, have you ever had any kind of weird visions…or hallucinations?” Max is determined to get answers from Isabel…answers that he knows she has.

Michael steps back, surprised. “Um…yah. I thought it was just me. Are you seeing things, too?”

Max raises his eyebrows and nods, looking back at Isabel. “Isabel, this isn’t just about you…or even us anymore. I bet I can make a good guess and say that the visions started for you guys when we were back in Roswell?” He can see his answer on their faces. “So if Liz is having them, too…there’s a good chance everyone else who was with us is having them also.”

“Liz is having them, too?” Michael asks. A sudden thought occurs to him, thinking back to all the things…and people…he’s seen in his visions. “What about Maria…and Alex?” Most of the visions he’s had have Maria in them, but he doesn’t want them to know that.

“Alex…Liz said something about Alex, too…but we um…I didn’t hear that part.” Max scratches his ear and looks away, not about to tell them why he didn’t.

Falling onto the bed with her hands over her face, Isabel whispers, “Stop…just stop it.” She can’t believe this is happening. What’s she supposed to do…why didn’t he tell her what to do? Should she tell them? Should she lie? Was the goal just to keep the Granolith from their enemies, or was it also to keep Max and Liz apart? God, she just doesn’t know anymore.

She feels the bed sink beside her and Max pulls her hands from her face. “Don’t you see…this doesn’t just affect us anymore…you need to tell me truth, Isabel. You know what this all means, don’t you?” He looks at her…begging her with his voice to just tell him the truth.

She glances up at Michael, and he says, “This is about what you were telling me, isn’t it? About how you changed things…changed what was supposed to happen?”

Max looks sharply up at Michael and says, “What are you talking about?” Looking from Michael, to Isabel, then back to Michael he asks, “So, this has been some big secret that only I can’t know about?” He looks over at Isabel incredulously, “You can tell Michael, but not me?”

“No, Max…it’s not like that.” Isabel tries to tell him.

“What did you do?!” Max stands up and turns away from her, not able to look at her anymore…to see her look right at him and lie.

Isabel swallows, trying to find the right words. “We…I…I changed the future.”

He turns, waiting for her to explain.

“The Granolith…it can be reprogrammed to be used as a…to go back in time.” She knows she sounds ridiculous and she sees the disbelief on Max’s face. “I know this sounds…strange. But I swear, it’s the truth.”

“How long?” Max asks evenly. “How long have you known this?”

Isabel braces herself and says, “Since we left Roswell.” Seeing the confusion on his face, she adds, “The first time we left Roswell.”

Max freezes, the air rushing from his lungs as if he’s been punched. Falling to the bed, his voice is hushed when he asks again, “What did you do?”

“I made sure we left. I had to make sure that all three of us left Roswell. He said that if I didn’t, the world would end…it would be taken over by our enemies and everyone we’ve ever known or loved would die.” She turns to Max, tears in her eyes. “I had to, Max. The things…the things he told me were awful. I couldn’t let them happen.”

“Who? Who is ‘he’?” Max asks her.

She furrows her brow, remembering how rough…battle weary he was…how old he looked for his age. “You, Max. You used the Granolith and went back…to change the future.”

“What?” He can’t believe what she’s telling him. Standing up again, he paces the length of the bed, trying to process everything she’s telling him.

“Wow. What’d he tell you about the future?” Michael asks her, clearly fascinated by what she’s saying.

Ignoring Michael, Max turns around and asks, “Why that time? Why did he…I choose to go back then?” He suddenly wonders and suddenly understands at the same time. “It’s because of Liz, isn’t it?”

Isabel nods sadly and sighs, saying, “Sit down…and I’ll start from the beginning.”

Max and Michael sit on the bed and Isabel stands, leaning on Max’s desk and tells them everything…

It’s three days before the crash festival and Isabel is just getting home from shopping with her friends for their costumes. She smiles in satisfaction as she hangs the skin-tight silver bodysuit in her closet. She is definitely winning the award for best costume this year. Out of the corner of her eye she sees a flash of light and turns to the window, thinking that was pretty close for lightening.

Instead, she sees her brother. “Max! God, don’t you knock? You scared me half to death.” She turns back to her closet, trying to figure out what she’s going to wear tomorrow. “Did you see that lightening?” She asks him over her shoulder and turns when he doesn’t answer.

“Did you…” She stops, really seeing him for the first time. “Max? Wha…what happened to you?” She looks at his clothes, dirty and torn…then his face. Lines, hard angles, dark circles…all of it not Max.

“Isabel…I’m not…I’m not your Max. I came here…from the future. I need you to do something. Terrible things are about to happen…events that have started that need to be stopped” He shakes his head, and sees the look of fear and disbelief on her face.

Isabel slowly back toward the door and says, “No…who are you?”

“It’s me, Is. I came here from 17 years in the future. Please…we don’t have a lot of time.” He looks around her room, searching, and takes two long strides to her dresser. He picks up a framed picture and holds it up to her. “This…this is from last year at homecoming. You were so excited…it was your first dance and mom, she made you and Matt pose for like, two rolls of pictures.”

She still doesn’t say anything and she watches as he looks around her room again and says to himself, “Liz said you’d be hard to convince.”

“What did you say?” Isabel asks.

He looks back at her and says, “Liz, she told me you’d be hard to convince…that I came from the future.”

“So…Liz sent you here?” She says, unbelieving.

This isn’t going right. “No…I mean, yes…sort of.” He shakes his head and says, “Look, in three days an opportunity will come up and I need you to take it…I need you to make sure we all take it.”

His head turns toward the window and he moves quickly toward her closet. “Michael’s coming…you’ll see.”

She watches him step into her closet and close the door, thinking she’s gone out of her mind. The sound of the window opening makes her jump and she turns around. “Michael! What are you doing?” She looks from Michael to the closet, then back to Michael again.

“We need to figure out what to do about Maxwell.” Michael sees her the look on her face and asks, “What’s wrong?”

Isabel looks at the closet again and says, “But…he’s…”

She about has a heart attack when her door opens and Max appears in the doorway. “What’s going on?”

“Max!” She yells, looking at Michael, then the closet.

“What’s going on is we need to figure out how to fix the mess you’ve gotten us into.” Michael says, throwing an annoyed look at Isabel. “Why are you acting all freaky?”

“There is no mess. I told you…Liz won’t tell anyone. I talked to her tonight and she…she won’t say anything. You have to trust me.” Max leans on the doorframe and Michael rolls his eyes.

“This is just…unbelievable.” Michael throws his hands up in the air. “Don’t you have anything to say, Isabel?”

“I…uh…can’t we just talk about this tomorrow? It’s late, and I’m beat.” She sits on her bed, feeling suddenly lightheaded.

Michael snorts in irritation and turns, climbing back out her window. “We’re dead.” He mumbles to himself.

“Is, I know I screwed up…but we can trust her. I know it.” Max says before turning to leave.

She gets up and shuts her door quickly, locking it with her powers. Max steps out of her closet, looking in the direction Michael went. “I forgot.” He says quietly.

“Forgot what?” She’s still trying to wrap her head around the fact that this is really Max. He looks so…old.

“How stubborn Michael used to be about the humans.” He says before a look of terrible sadness crosses his face. Shaking his head he looks back at Isabel. “Isabel, we’re all in danger. Seventeen years from now, earth is taken over by our enemies. Everyone we love will die. I need you to help keep that from happening. You can’t tell anyone I’m here…especially me…him.” Max points his thumb toward the door that her Max was just standing in.

“What am I supposed to do?”

“In three days, the sheriff is going to question Liz…about me and the shooting. She’s going to come to me and tell me that the sheriff suspects me of doing something to her in the Crashdown and I’m going to decide that we need to leave Roswell.” He sits on the bed next to her and says, “I need you to make sure that we leave.”

“Why? If you’ve already decided to go, what changes your mind?”

“Liz. She talks us into staying and she comes up with a plan to throw off the sheriff.” He shakes his head. “It works…but it sets off a chain of events that lead to…” He looks at her closely and says, “Awful things have happened and…we’ve already tried this once before. But things ended up worse…horribly worse. You have to help me.”

“What do you mean…you’ve come back from the future before?” She closes her eyes and says, “I’m confused.”

I didn’t…not exactly. The timeline I come from…I…came back to, also. But not until next year…and by then it was too late. I can’t see Liz again…you have to keep me away from her, or this won’t work.” He sits down and rubs his hand wearily over his face. “Isabel, it’s…I’m the only one left. I barely made it to the Granolith in time. Everyone…” He looks at her pointedly. “Everyone is dead. Michael, you, Maria, Kyle…Liz.” He looks away, not wanting to remember. “Our parents, Liz’s parents, the sheriff, Alex…they’re gone…I don’t have anyone anymore. You’re my last hope.”

Isabel stares at him in disbelief. Seventeen years? They only make it for seventeen more years? She can see the pain in his eyes…the weariness of fighting. “Our parents? They know?” It’s her dream come true. She’s always wanted to tell their parents. When Max nods sadly at her she asks, “But…everyone else you mentioned…they all knew…about us?”

“That doesn’t matter now. We need to do something now…to change that. This is a critical time and we need to leave Roswell…now. Before Liz changes my mind.”

“This all has to do with you healing her, right? So why didn’t you just go back and make sure you don’t heal her? Why come to me?” The minute she says this, she sees the answer in his face. He could never let Liz Parker die. “Ok, so what exactly do I have to do?”


Isabel folds her arms and stares at a gape jawed Michael and a pale Max. “The first thing I did was talk to Liz. I went to her and told her that she couldn’t tell Maria…that if she did, she’d be putting not only her own life in danger, but Maria’s. I told her that I knew things…and that she just had to believe me. I guess she did.”

“Maria?” Michael asks, absently.

“In his timeline, Liz told Maria…the night of the crash festival.”

“And then you…you made sure we left town…quickly, so I wouldn’t see Liz again.” Max says, confirming what he already knows.

She nods and says, “So…now you know.”

Silence descends on the room as it sinks in for Max and Michael what Isabel’s telling them.

“All those people.” Max says with wonder, overwhelmed with the thought that that many people knew their secret. “Did he tell you…what happened?” Max asks her, wanting to know more.

“Bits and pieces, enough to know that what I was doing was right.” She adds, “And I still know it was right. In his timeline he told me that…that Alex was killed when we were 17…because of us. He was killed by another alien.”

Michael looks at her and says, “What…did Liz tell everyone?”

Isabel shakes her head and says, “That’s not the point, Michael. Don’t you see? By leaving…we kept them, our families and ourselves, safe. Liz’s plan worked. At least I thought it did…until they found us.”

“Liz’s plan…you said he told you that Liz said it’d be hard to convince you. She…we were together…she sent him back.” Max says, a million thoughts going through his head. He looks up at Isabel and sees her nod in confirmation before looking at him meaningfully. “And she died, Max. He said he was the only one left.” He spent seventeen years with Liz Parker…and she died because of it.

“Ok…so, these visions? What are they…are we seeing things that happened in this other timeline?” Michael asks.

“I don’t know.” Isabel says. “I thought I was the only one…that I was seeing these things because I was the one who changed everything.”

Max gets up then, his head filled with too much information. He looks around, unable to sort it all out and says, “I need to…I need to go.”

“Max…please don’t go.” Isabel pleads. “I…I know you always thought I never wanted you and Liz to be together, but don’t you see? You went back in time – twice – to make sure of that. I was just…I was just doing what you asked, no…begged me to do.”

He looks absently at Isabel before walking out into the hallway.

“Max…” Isabel calls after him…following him. “Where are you going?”

“I don’t know…I need to sort this out.” He takes his keys and walks out the door, leaving Isabel feeling even more miserable.

~~~~~~~~~~

Max walks aimlessly through the streets, unaware of the people around him. He thinks about everything that’s happened…everything he’s seen…and tries to make some sense out of it all. What does it all mean? Does it mean he shouldn’t start a relationship with Liz? How can he? How can he stay away from her now…when he finally knows that she feels the same thing about him as he does her?

He doesn’t realize that he’s stopped walking until he feels someone bump into him. When he looks up, he realizes that he’s walked all the way to the street Liz lives on. Suddenly, he remembers he was supposed to meet her at eleven and he looks at his watch, breathing a sigh of relief that it’s only ten.

“Max?” Max turns his head to see Alex walking toward him and the image of Alex covered in blood flashes in his head.

Alex was killed when we were 17…because of us…

Max shakes the image from his head and says, “Hey, Alex.”

“So…are you coming or going?” Alex looks confused, wondering if Max is just leaving their apartment from this morning or if he’s coming back.

“Oh…um…I’m going. I mean, no…I’m going to meet Liz. I showered…at my house…earlier, after I left.” What the hell is he talking about? He sees Alex smiling at him in confusion and says, “Sorry. I don’t know what I’m saying.”

“It’s ok. I understand…English being your second language and all.” Alex grins at him and says, “Well…come on. You don’t wanna keep a lady waiting.”

“Right.” Max says, Alex’s joke going right over his head as he looks toward Liz’s apartment. This wasn’t the destination he had in mind when he started walking, but he can’t just walk away now. What’s he going to say to Liz? His brain feels like it’s gonna explode.

As they walk toward the apartment, Max is vaguely aware that Alex is talking to him. But he can’t focus on what he’s saying…instead he nods his head and offers a forced smile whenever Alex looks in his direction. His head is flooded with everything Isabel told him…with the ramifications of what she said.

You came back twice…
…do everything I could to keep you apart…
…the only way she’ll stay safe…
Alex was killed…
Terrible things will happen…
…everyone we love will die.


“Hey…you there?” Max looks over at Alex and is surprised to see they’re standing outside the door to their apartment.

“Oh…yah. Sorry.” Max offers Alex an apologetic smile.

Alex looks at him strangely before digging out his keys and starting to unlock the door.

Max watches him and asks, “Big on home security?”

“Yah…after the whole…” He looks around the hall and whispers, “alien thing…I got a little paranoid.”

Max smiles at Alex then and waves his hand over the door, unlocking all the deadbolts with his powers. He raises his eyebrows in sympathy at Alex and says, “You know, I’m not the only one who could work my…what was it you called it…heebee jeebee shit?”

Alex frowns and looks at the door, thinking about all the time he spent putting those lock in. “Oh yah…right.” He opens the door then and walks in ahead of Max. “Liz! We have company so don’t come out naked!”

Max’s eye’s bulge as he looks at Alex. Liz walks around naked…in front of Alex?

Alex grins as Liz walks in saying, “Alex…what are you…Oh! Max!” She sees the look on Max’s face and swats Alex on the arm and he ducks, running to the kitchen. “Don’t listen to him. I thought we were meeting at eleven.” She smiles questioningly at him.

Suddenly every thought that was crowding his head earlier flies out as a new one takes their place…Liz naked. He can feel his face turn red and he says, “I um…I was walking.”

Stumped, Liz tilts her head to the side and asks, “Are you alright, Max?” He looks lost and confused.

Rubbing his hand over his eyes, he shakes his head and says, “No…I really don’t think I am.” He looks around the small living room and says, “I’m sorry…I was just walking, trying to sort some things out. And for some reason I ended up here, and Alex saw me…so here I am.”

She can see the distress and confusion on his face and leads him toward the sofa. “Here, sit down.” She takes a seat in a chair facing him and asks, “What’s wrong, Max? What happened?” When he left earlier, he seemed so happy.

He looks up at her, not knowing what to say. Should he tell her? Or would that just put her in more danger? He wasn’t prepared to be facing her right now. He just wanted to go for a walk and try to figure things out. “Can I ask you something?”

“You can ask me anything, Max.” She says, curious.

“Back in high school…after you told me about your meeting with the sheriff. Can you remember what you were thinking then?” When he sees her look at him in confusion, he says, “I know this sounds weird, but can you remember what your first instinct was…when you realized we were leaving Roswell?”

Alex walks over and sits next to Liz, wondering what this is all about.

Liz thinks back to that day, trying to remember what she did after she talked to Max in the art room. “I um…after that, I think I went home and started thinking about a way to get the sheriff to stop suspecting you. Maria came over and…” She looks away, thinking. “She was getting ready to go to the crash festival. She was asking me questions…she knew something wasn’t right and that I was keeping something from her.”

“Did you think about telling her? The truth about what happened…about us?” Max asks, needing to know.

Liz nods. “I did…but Isabel said that her life depended on me not telling anyone. She said that she knew things…” She looks back at him and says, “Max, at the time I thought she could see into the future or something…I just assumed it was something she was able to do. You know…a power that she had? She said she knew things about the future, and if I told Maria or Alex, or anyone, that I would be putting all of our lives in danger. But…I know now that she can’t do that.”

Max nods and says, “So, do you think that if Isabel hadn’t have told you that…that you would have told Maria the truth that night?”

Liz bites her lip and looks at him guiltily. “I was so confused, Max. I wanted to tell her so much, and she was so angry at me because she knew that I was lying…”

“Liz, it’s ok. I’m not…I’m not accusing you of anything. I can understand how you’d need someone to talk to.” He sits back, and runs his hand through his hair.

“What’s this about, Max? I don’t understand.” Liz shakes her head and looks over at Alex.

“Just…bear with me for a minute. So, let’s just say…hypothetically…if you had told Maria, what do you think you would have done next?”

Liz tucks her hair behind her ear and looks up at him, embarrassed. “I had this stupid idea. You know, the crash festival was that night and everyone had costumes…I thought that we could stage something to throw the sheriff off. It was crazy though…it probably wouldn’t have worked anyway. I was thinking of going to find you and see what you thought, but Maria came over and I spent most of the night trying to get her to stop asking questions. Then you didn’t show up at school…”

Max swallows and looks down at the floor. “Your plan, it would have worked. It did work.”

“What are you talking about?” Liz shakes her head. “What worked?”

He looks up at her and Alex and says, “I know why we’ve been having those visions.”

“You’ve been having them too?” Alex asks.

Max nods, looking at Liz. “We all have. Isabel and Michael, too. Isabel…she um…God, this just sounds so ridiculous I can’t believe I’m saying it.” He rolls his eyes and leans forward, resting his elbows on his knees. “The Granolith…it can apparently be used to travel back in time.” He prepares himself for Liz’s denial.

“Time travel.” Liz says, disbelieving. “Time travel isn’t possible…it breaks every law of physics.”

“I know. I told you it sounded ridiculous. But Liz, Isabel knew you were going to tell Maria the truth about us. That’s why she went to you. Just like she knew that your plan would work. So she made sure that we didn’t have the chance to put it in motion…she made sure that the three of us left Roswell that night.”

“But…even if this were true, why?” Liz asks, still not believing that Isabel knew anything.

“I used the Granolith…one year from now, I used the Granolith to go back to that time…three days before the crash festival…and I told Isabel she had to make sure we left Roswell. I told her that your plan had worked and by staying in Roswell, we set off a chain of events that led to our enemies taking over earth.” Max watches Liz’s eyes go wide in surprise as Alex stands up.

~TBC~

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Angel
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Post by Angel » Fri Sep 12, 2003 4:50 pm

Breathless, that was one of my goals with this story, to show how different all of their lives are when their not all connected together. To show how the aliens opt to stay hidden in the shadows without really living...that the humans actually give them a thread to the world and a way to live in it.

Thanks for all the great feedback! This next part is boardering on NC-17 but not quite. So I'm giving it a strong R rating...hope you like...

Part 20

“Wait a second…let’s…back up.” Alex says. “You believe this?”

Max nods. “I do. I don’t think even Isabel would be able to make up something like this. Why would she?”

Liz processes what Max is telling her and asks, “So you think the visions we’ve been having…you think they’re from that other timeline? That we’re seeing things that were really supposed to happen?” This is unreal. She wouldn’t believe him at all if it weren’t for the visions she’s had.

Max nods again. “Actually, I think they’re from two different timelines. Isabel said that I told her it was the second time I’d come back using the Granolith. That the first time I came back was a year after the shooting…that I came back to see you.” He looks at Liz. “But it didn’t work. It was too late. So I went back again, earlier in time, to try to prevent things from happening.”

“You mean your enemies attacking earth?” Alex asks.

“That…and other events.” He says, wondering how much he can tell Liz. If he can…if he should.

Alex sits down again and says, “This is too much. If this is true, then the things I’ve seen…the things I’ve dreamed about…” He looks at Liz. “They’re true? They really happened?” The thought of that is terrifying…the things he’s seen are terrifying.

“But why then? Why go back to that time? It was…it was because you healed me, right? Is that what triggers everything?” Liz asks, knowing his answer when she looks in his eyes. She can see the sadness there and she takes a deep breath. “Then it should have been simple. He…you should have gone back and prevented it from taking place. He could have made sure that you weren’t in the Crashdown that day so you wouldn’t have been able to heal me.”

“I would have never done that. I don’t care what timeline, or dimension, or whatever…I…that would never be a possibility.” Max shakes his head, knowing that he would never knowingly let Liz die if he could prevent it.

“So do you think it worked? No one has taken over earth yet. Maybe we prevented that three years ago when you didn’t give them the Granolith. So maybe we’re safe now.” Alex thinks aloud, wondering what it all means to them now. “You said you used it to go back a year from now. An awful lot would have to happen between now and then for you to resort to that, right?”

“I don’t know. This timeline is different. None of the same things happened…” He looks away from Alex, unable to get rid of the bloody image of him in his head.

“Maybe we should all sit down together and write down all the visions we’ve seen. Then we can try to piece together when they happened and maybe figure out where we went wrong last time and prevent it from happening in this timeline.” Liz offers, her analytical side kicking in.

“Maybe…” Max says hesitantly, not sure if that’s a good idea or not. “Has Maria had any visions?”

“We don’t think so…we’re pretty sure she would have told us.” Alex says, suddenly thinking of something. “Hey, what about Kyle…and his dad? What if they’re seeing things, too?”

Max looks at him, confused, and Alex explains. “They’re both in a lot of my visions, so it’s safe to assume that they probably knew about your secret in another timeline. I guess we can’t just call them up and ask if they’ve been seeing strange visions, though.”

Liz shrugs and raises her eyebrows. “I could call Kyle. We still talk…I can try to feel him out and see if he mentions anything.” She thinks for a moment, then says, “It doesn’t make sense, though. If Maria isn’t getting any visions, then why are Alex and I?”

“It makes sense that you are, Liz. I changed you…but I don’t know why Alex is.” Max says with a shrug.

“Then I think I really should call Kyle.” Liz says as she gets up to go to her room. She comes back out with her address book and flips through the pages.

“Liz, I don’t think…” Max says, but Liz interrupts him.

“I won’t say anything about you, don’t worry.” She pulls the phone over and takes a deep breath. “I’ll put him on speakerphone.” Dialing his number into the phone, she pushes the speakerphone button and sets the handset in the base. They all listen as the phone rings three times…four…five…

“Liz…it’s eight in the morning. Do I have to remind you of the time difference every time you call?” A groggy Kyle says as soon as he picks up the phone.

“Sorry Kyle. I thought eight was a civilized enough time to call.” Liz says with a smile as she rolls her eyes.

They hear rustling in the background and a couple of grunts from Kyle as he gets out of bed. “So…” They hear him yawn. “you’re calling to tell me you’ve realized you’re madly in love with me and can’t live without me for another minute, right?”

Liz snorts and says, “Riiight. That’s exactly why I’m calling. And, I was thinking that you, me and Serena could all move to Utah and live in a commune together.”

“Cool.” Kyle says and they hear another voice in the background before Kyle moves the mouthpiece away and says, “It’s Liz.” They hear more rustling and the sound of the phone being passed around.

“Liz! I’m sorry I didn’t call you back last week.” A female voice says. “But my special needs husband here didn’t tell me you called.”

“It’s alright, Serena.” Liz smiles at Max apologetically. She didn’t mean for him to sit here and listen to her gab to her friends all morning.

“When are you coming home to visit? I saw your parents yesterday…you know they really want to see you.”

Liz sighs and says, “Serena…”

“I know, I know…but you know, Kyle made Jim swear to not say one thing to you the next time you come home. He agreed to stay away, Liz…really.”

“Yah? He said that the last time. Serena…come on. Can we talk about this some other time?” Going back to Roswell for a visit is the last thing on her mind right now.

“Ok…well, I’ll give you back to Kyle. I’ll call you next week, alright? Hopefully I’ll have some big news by then.” Serena says, blowing a kiss into the phone and handing it back to Kyle.

“Kyle! Are you guys…” Liz starts to ask, but Kyle cuts her off.

“Don’t know yet…so don’t jinx it.” Kyle says. “So, what can I do for you Miss Parker?”

“Oh, um…nothing, really. Just wanted to call and say hi.” Liz flips her address book cover open and closed absently, trying to think of the right way to bring this up. “It’s just…I guess I was just thinking about home. You know, the weirdest thing happened last night…I had this weird hallucination that I was at our high school prom. Can you believe that? And…you were in it, so I don’t know…I guess it just made me want to call.”

“Huh.” Kyle says. “Maybe your subconscious is telling you that you should have agreed to go with me to the prom.” There’s a hint of teasing to his voice.

“Maybe.” Liz laughs nervously. This isn’t going the way she thought it would. “It was just really strange. Does that ever happen to you?”

“Sure, I mean, I have visions of you and Maria in high school having sleepovers…you’re both wearing these little lacy things and having pillow fights.”

Liz puts her hand over her eyes and smiles. “Kyle, I so didn’t need to know that.”

Kyle laughs and says, “Yah, well, I thought you’d rather hear that one over the one I have of Alex dying in a horrible car accident.”

Liz sees Max sit up suddenly and his eyes open wide and she looks at Alex…the blood draining from his face.

“So how is our resident geek doing these days?” Kyle continues, oblivious.

Liz clears her throat and says, “Um…good. He’s really good.” She looks at Alex, then at Max. Obviously, Max has seen the same thing Kyle has, judging by his reaction and she grabs Alex’s hand.

“So um…how’s your dad doing?” Liz can’t help from asking. Jim Valenti has been a thorn in her side since she was 16. But if Alex is right, then he’s involved in this…and that terrifies her.

“You know. Same old dad. Aliens here, aliens there, aliens everywhere.” Kyle says, clearly thinking his dad is crazy. “I’m fed up with him…especially since that brew haha a few years ago.”

“Yah.” Liz says sympathetically. The FBI showing up out of the blue and taking the two women Jim found unconscious and the corpse from the old soap factory just re-ignited his belief that there was some kind of alien conspiracy going on in Roswell. Liz talked to Kyle several times as soon as she got back to New York and he told her all about it. How excited his dad was when he got there, convinced the two girls were aliens. And the corpse…although burned beyond recognition…looked to be in the shape of an alien. But the FBI came in the next morning and took all his evidence as well as the two girls and disappeared…leaving Jim a newly obsessed man. “You should go easier on him, Kyle. You’re all he has.”

“I don’t know why you always defend him, Liz.”

Liz shrugs and says, “I don’t know…I guess I feel sorry for him. He’s turning out just like your grandpa did, and I’d hate to see that happen to anyone.”

“Whatever. You’re too soft for your own good.” Kyle says something with his hand over the mouthpiece, then, “Look, I gotta go, Liz. Can we call you later?”

“Yah, sure. And um…good luck, you know…with the thing we can’t talk about.” Liz says with a smile.

“Thanks. Talk to you later and say hey to Alex for me.”

“Ok, bye Kyle.” Liz hears him hang up his phone and she clicks the speakerphone button, staring at it.

She looks to her side, sees her hand intertwined with Alex’s and she looks up at Max.

“When?” Alex asks quietly, not quite able to wrap his head around the fact that he’s supposed to be dead right now.

Max looks up at Alex and says, “Seventeen.” He sees Alex reel back at that and continues. “And it wasn’t just a car accident…you were killed…by aliens. You died because of us.”

Alex swallows and nods as he stands up. “Wow. Seventeen. That’s so…young.” He thinks back to when he was seventeen. He’d never even had a girlfriend yet. Never been out of New Mexico. He was busy practicing with his band in his parent’s garage and hanging out at the Pizza Pan with Liz and Maria. Seventeen. That’s when he was trying to get Molly Young’s attention. During their senior year, she finally noticed. But…he shouldn’t have made it to their senior year.

Liz stands up with Alex…wondering what else their lives held in store for them. Or what else their lives were supposed to hold in store for them. It’s all starting to make sense to her. The reason she’s always felt uneasy…like she was supposed to be doing something else with her life. Like she’d made the wrong decisions along the way. But aren’t they tempting fate by knowing these things? “Maybe we shouldn’t know this…maybe we shouldn’t talk about the visions we’ve had. It doesn’t feel right knowing what should have been.” She puts her hand on Alex’s arm and looks over to Max and sees him agreeing.

“I think you’re right.” He says. “But I do think it might be a good idea to share general themes about them. Like people…places…that sort of thing. At least we could know who we trusted then.”

“Alex, are you ok?” Liz asks him, not knowing how she’d be dealing with this if she just found out she was supposed to die when she was seventeen.

“Yah. It’s just…weird.” He looks down at Liz and says, “It’s not every day someone finds out they got a second chance at life.” He gives her a small smile to let her know he’s ok before looking over at Max. “So…maybe we should all get together and talk about this?”

Max nods and says, “I’ll find out when a good time is from Michael and Isabel and let you guys know.”

“Ok…well, as crazy as this all is, I have a lunch date to get ready for. So…” He steps toward the hallway and says, “I’ll just see you later?”

“I’ll call Maria later today.” Liz tells him and he nods as he turns and walks back to his bedroom. She looks over at Max again and says, “So…um…wow.”

“Yah.” He’s still frowning, still trying to figure out what it all means…what he’s supposed to do. As he looks at Liz he wonders, should he stay away from her? Is he only putting her in danger by being a part of her life?

Liz sits down again and sees that he’s thinking about all of this…she can see he’s worried. “It’ll be ok, Max. You know, we’ve made it this far.” She smiles at him and says, “You know, maybe we averted the whole thing when you refused to give the Granolith over to them. Cal said Khivar can’t come here…and we haven’t seen any skins for three years, right? Maybe the threat is over.”

“Maybe.” He says, not convinced. He should call Ava…check in with her. He’s been meaning to, but just never got around to it. And now that he knows Zan has been bothering Liz, he really needs to talk to them…both of them.

“Max, is there something else? Something you’re not telling me?”

He doesn’t want to tell her…not now. But if he came back in time twice to keep Liz safe, how can he ignore that? He doesn’t want to keep anything from her and decides that she should at least know. “Yah…um…there’s one more thing Isabel told me. She said that both times I came back…both times I was pretty adamant about keeping the two of us apart. You and I. That I wanted to keep us from ever getting together.”

“What? Why…why would that matter?” No…not when they’ve just found each other again. This can’t be happening…not now.

He shakes his head and says, “Liz, I think…I think that by being with me your life is in danger. I’m just going to get you killed…and I can’t do that.”

Liz stands up and says, “Max, this is crazy.” Is he trying to say that they shouldn’t be together because of something that might happen in the future…something that they don’t even know? “I don’t care what any future version of you said…we don’t know what his motives were, and we never will.”

Max stands up, too, and says, “But he had to have a reason. He came back twice…after spending two lifetimes with you and each time his goal was the same. There has to be a pretty good reason for that, because Liz…if I’d spent a lifetime with you, there’s no way I would give you up. Everyone we love dies. That’s what he told Isabel…that he was the only one left. How can I ignore that?”

Liz doesn’t know what to say. It sounds like he’s telling her a relationship between them is impossible. She looks away, not wanting him to see her tears. “I guess he was successful.” She says quietly, her voice dead of emotion. All these years…thinking about him, dreaming about him. It all meant nothing. Two possible futures. One where she dies and the other where she’s dead inside anyway. Neither looks very appealing.

Max feels helpless. He doesn’t know what to do. And the sight of Liz standing in front of him, unable to look at him almost brings him to his knees. “Liz…” He takes a step toward her and when she takes a matching step back he stops, his eyes closing.

“Alrighty…I’m outta here.” Alex walks out into the living room and freezes when he sees the scene in front of him. “Oh…hey, um…I’m sorry.” He sees Liz look at him with such sadness in her eyes and his heart goes out to her. He doesn’t know what he just interrupted, but he’s not going to stand by and watch Liz hurt again because of Max. Looking up at Max angrily, he asks, “What’s going on here?”

“It’s ok, Alex.” Liz masks the emotion from her face and takes a deep breath. She looks him up and down and says, “You look good. She’s gonna fall in love with you when she sees you.”

Alex doesn’t miss the un-subtle attempt of Liz’s to change the subject, but decides to let her. He smiles and says, “You think?”

Liz forces a smile on her face and nods. “Yah…she’d be crazy not to. Now scoot…you don’t want her waiting.”

He glances at Max as he’s turning to face the window and rubbing at his face. “Are you sure?” He asks as he looks back down at Liz.

She nods and says, “Yah…now go. I’m fine.”

“Ok.” Alex says, unsure. But he grabs his keys and heads out the door. “Wish me luck!”

Liz watches him go, her gaze lingering on the door long after it’s closed. Shaking herself from her daze, she walks toward the kitchen…needing something to do. “It’s their first date. Some girl from school…I think she’s getting her PhD. I don’t know in what, but one of Alex’s T.A.s set it up…”

“Liz…” Max turns around, watching as she opens the fridge, then closes it…moving onto the drawers.

“I really hope she’s nice. Alex really needs someone in his life right now.” She searches, unseeing through the drawers in the kitchen before turning the water on in the sink and squeezing dishwashing liquid in it. “Because God knows, he deserves it…he deserves more than living in this tiny apartment and watching movies with me on Saturday nights.” She raises her shoulder up and wipes her eyes on her sleeve as she throws the morning dishes in the sink and starts washing them.

Max steps behind her and puts his hands on her arms, stopping her frantic scrubbing. “Liz…stop.”

She closes her eyes and her shoulders sag. “I don’t care, Max.” She whispers as she leans back into him.

Max inhales the scent of her hair, keeping a firm grip on her arms as he takes a step away. He can’t think straight with her body pressed against his. “But I do. How can I spend even a lifetime of happiness with you if I knew in the end it would only get you killed?”

She turns then, soapy wet arms dripping on the floor, and she smiles sadly. “I’m gonna die, Max. We all do. It could be in 50 years from old age, or it could be tomorrow. But I would rather spend one day…completely happy, whole, for the first time in my life…and die tomorrow, than spend a lifetime wondering ‘what if’.”

He closes his eyes, not wanting to hear her say this. It’s ripping at his soul. “Don’t say this, Liz. I can’t…” He doesn’t have the strength to resist her and he knows it. Trying to move further away, he needs some distance from her. There’s no way he can think clearly with her this close. “Please.” He whispers. “Please don’t ask me to do that.” He can’t…not knowing what he does. If she ever died because of him…because of who he is…there’s no way he could go on living.

“Then don’t ask me to give you up, Max.” She whispers up at him, sliding her hands up his arms. She moves her body close to his, aware of why he moved away and sees the desire flare in his eyes. Knowing she’s not playing fair, she doesn’t care. She’s not gonna let him do this.

Moving her hands around to his back, she leans up and presses her lips against his neck…close to his ear and her tongue snakes out, touching his earlobe. “Because I’m not going to.” She whispers softly in his ear, smiling at the groan she hears from the back of his throat.

His earlier internal battles helplessly dissolve in the wake of what she’s doing to him. How did she turn this around? How did his resolve to do whatever it took to keep her safe just turn to mush in the space of a few minutes? The only thought in his head right now is that Liz has her tongue on his neck. He steps forward, pressing his hips into hers against the front of the sink as his hands grip each side of her face and turn it to look up at him. “Is this how it’s gonna be?” His hands move to her hair and he threads his fingers through it. “You’re gonna seduce me to get your way all the time?”

She looks up at him with a twinkle in her eye and asks, “Is it working?” She wraps a leg behind him, pulling him into her and drags her hands down the front of his shirt, hooking her fingers into his waistband.

He closes his eyes at the feel of her hands on his stomach and says, “Yes…but here’s a little tip. The only thing you really need to do to seduce me is breathe.”

Her fingers slip around his waistband until both hands are on his lower back. She dips them down over his butt before snaking them around over his jeans to rake her nails up the front of his thighs. “Good to know.”

Just before her hands reach his zipper, his lips crash down to hers and he growls as he picks her up, wrapping her legs around his waist. There it goes…the control he’s been so desperate to hold onto. There’s no fumbling this time as Liz clings to him, mouths attacking each other. Max reaches down and rips off his shirt…buttons flying around the kitchen…before pulling Liz’s shirt up over her head.

Liz moans at the feel of skin against skin and Max groans, “Oh God, Liz.” His hands roam over her back, deftly unhooking her bra and flinging it across the room. “Max…now…I can’t wait.” His knees buckle at Liz’s urgent words as her mouth travels to his neck, her teeth tugging at his earlobe before her tongue flicks across his ear. “Fuck.”

Walking them down the hall in search of her bedroom, he feels a sudden draft and looks down to see that Liz has used her powers to rid them of the rest of their clothes. He almost laughs at the sight, but his breath catches in his throat when he feels Liz’s body tense and sees her flushed face. Her skin feels fevered and he senses her desire and her release bubbling through his connection. She was serious when she said she couldn’t wait. “Liz…” He swallows, overwhelmed at what’s just happened, but impossibly hypnotized by the way she’s looking at him and he captures her lips again.

Suddenly, he’s brought to his knees by a blinding, white light. Tearing himself away from Liz as they stumble to the floor, he gasps, “What was that?” He can feel Liz’s chest pumping wildly against his as they sit on the floor…his back to the wall…Liz still with her legs wrapped around him. “Liz?” He pulls her chin up to look at him and groans at the look of blatant lust in her eyes.

“Look closer.” She whispers with a seductive smile.

His lips crash down on hers again, not caring about anything but the feel of her body next to his. He’s startled by the flash of light again, but only moans and tries to push it away…focusing only on Liz and the tightly wound strings of his connection to her. Then he sees it. Or rather, he sees himself…through Liz’s eyes. They’re on the plane to Roswell, trying to create their fake memory. He can hear moaning, but doesn’t know if it’s coming from him or Liz as he watches everything slow down. He sees everything Liz saw…feels everything that she felt.

Groaning, his head falls back and he vaguely feels Liz’s lips on his neck as the images keep assaulting him. Fantasies he’s had about her roll across the inside of his eyelids like a movie…quickly picking up speed until they’re flying everywhere. He hears Liz moan his name…whether from the vision or from the hallway they’re in…he doesn’t know. All he can feel right now is Liz…and the desire that was raging through her when she saw his fantasies of her. And her embarrassment that he was seeing hers. Everything’s happening too fast now. He can feel his connection to her gaining strength and a power too strong to contain building up inside of him…hunting…searching.

Suddenly, it’s like everything comes crashing into a wall. A solid barrier that holds back the power he’s feeling…the desire…until it builds to an impossible level and a flash of light once again blinds him.

Frightened by what just happened, he’s ripped back to reality by the feel of his own release and the wetness on his stomach, and he drops his head onto Liz’s shoulder. He tries to calm his erratic breathing and realizes that he’s gripping Liz’s hips so hard his fingers are white. He releases her, hoping he didn’t leave bruises. “Liz…” He gently pulls her away from him and says, “We can’t do this.”

Frowning, Liz sits back and tries to figure out what just happened and what Max is saying. “Can’t do what?” She looks down at the wetness on her stomach, then smiles at him. “That’s ok…we can wait a few minutes and try again.” She raises her eyebrow at him seductively.

Shaking his head, Max pulls Liz off of him and stands up on shaky legs. “No…I mean we can’t do this.” He uses his powers to clean himself up and searches for his pants on the floor. As he pulls them on with a jerk, he thinks about everything he saw…everything he felt. There’s something wrong here, and he’s not going to put Liz in danger again. When he looks down at Liz, he curses himself for the look on her face. She’s absently gathering her clothes to her to cover herself, a look of pure rejection on her face.

Leaning down, he pulls Liz up to him and grabs her face between her hands…forcing her to look at him. “Liz. I want you so badly right now it hurts. There’s nothing I want more than to drag you to bed and make love to you until next week.” He runs his hand from her shoulder down to her hand and grasps it, pressing it to the front of his pants to feel the returning evidence of his arousal. Her eyes open wide and he says, “Please don’t think I don’t want you.”

“Then what’s wrong?” She asks in a small voice, suddenly conscious of the fact that she’s standing in front of Max totally naked. She glances around for her clothes but remembers that her shirt is in the kitchen. Raising her hand behind her, the shirt flies into it and she turns around to see Max staring at her.

“I uh…I don’t think I’ll ever get used to seeing that.” He smiles and takes the shirt from her, gently pulling it over her head as his fingers graze the side of her body when he pulls it down. He bends down and grabs her underwear off the floor and gently raises one of her feet at a time, pulling them up her legs. When he does the same for her pants, he stands up and slowly zips and buttons them before pulling her shirt down over the waistband.

When he looks up at her face, he sees the confusion there and sighs as he raises his hand and brushes his fingers across her cheek. “We need to talk.”

“But we talked about this, Max. I don’t understand.” She leans her cheek into his hand and closes her eyes, feeling a warmth swirling through her…originating at his hand and cascading down through her body into her toes.

Max pulls his hand away abruptly and says, “That…we need to talk about that.” He turns her and puts his hand on her back and leads her toward the kitchen table. “Do you want something to drink?” He asks her, turning toward the fridge.

She smiles at the fact that he’s offering her a drink in her own house. “No, I’m fine.”

He nods and grabs a bottle of water and turns to her, questioning her with his eyes if he can have it. When she nods, he opens it and gulps the entire thing down in less than ten seconds. Closing his eyes, he sighs at the feeling of the cool water and turns to throw the bottle in the trash before sitting across the table from Liz. At the amused and surprised look on her face he says, “I was um…thirsty.”

“I see.” She waits for him to start.

“Liz, what did you see…when we…you know.” He nods his head toward the hallway. He already knows what she saw, but needs to hear how she interpreted it.

She blushes and says, “I saw us…me. On the plane when we connected. I saw me, as you saw me…I felt what you felt when you saw my…fantasies about you. And I saw and felt what you did when we…when we created the fake memory.” She shivers as she remembers the intense desire she felt…no, that he felt…when he saw her fantasy showing her in the Crashdown in her uniform, sitting on the counter with her legs spread as he knelt down and…

Shaking her head, she looks up and can feel the heat crawling up to her face. “Why?”

“And what did you feel?” He knows she’s embarrassed, but at this point modesty needs to be pushed away.

She sees that he’s serious, so she forces herself to just tell him. “Desire…incredibly strong desire. I felt your surprise that I thought about you that way. And your fear…for me.”

“Nothing else? Nothing…different?” He grabs her hand across the table and looks into her eyes. “Can you tell me what I’m feeling right now…this very minute?”

She furrows her brow and asks, “What do you mean? Of course I can’t.” Is that relief she sees in his eyes?

He releases her hand and sits back in his chair with a sigh. Thank God it didn’t get too far. He closes his eyes and rubs the heals of his hands against his forehead. Cal lied…why? Why go through all that trouble and effort? He opens his eyes when he feels that Liz is starting to get scared.

“Liz. I don’t know how to say this…our bond, it’s still there. Your bond is still there…there’s a temporary block, keeping you from feeling it. But it’s still there.” He sees her about to protest and he says, “I saw it, Liz. Cal lied to us. Instead of attempting to remove it, he placed a barrier in your subconscious so you wouldn’t feel a connection to me.”

~TBC~

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