Warning: this chapter deals with a delicate situation regarding a medical procedure and implication of sexual assault. (Nothing graphic – I promise!)
Everything was white.
Max felt fear seize his heart as he took in the sight then slowly shook his head in disbelief. He couldn't be back here.
He staggered backwards, his back hitting the wall before he slid down.
This was just a nightmare, he told himself, it was just a nightmare.
All he had to do was wake up and he would be safe in his room. They got him out all these years ago, he escaped, and they killed Pierce.
He was safe, he rocked himself, he was safe.
"Leave me alone!" his head snapped up. Was that Liz's voice he heard and shook his head, pushing himself to his feet.
He stumbled on the spot, turning around in a circle at the white walls that mocked him before a window appeared.
Gaping, he stared it before he moved closer only to see his worse fear was real.
"Liz!" His heart and hope completely shattered when he saw her in the other room.
She wore white scrubs and agents in the white hazmat suits surrounded her. She looked terrified.
He watched as Liz backed away from the agents as they tried to grab her, her arms jerking away.
"Leave her alone!" Max slammed his hands on the glass. "Leave her alone!"
His shouts went unheard as the agents grabbed Liz, ignoring the way she fought them. She was screaming and shouting at them to let her go before a silver table wheeled into the room. Max felt his heart stop at the sight of the table, his breath caught in his chest before he shook his head frantically.
"NO!" He tried to use his powers against the window. Nothing.
They strapped her down to the table, Liz yanking her limbs away from them but there were too many of them and they overpowered her.
He watched as Liz fought the restraints, tears coursing down her cheeks.
Another man came in – this time in a lab coat – wheeling a tray and Max screamed, throwing himself against the glass.
"Let her go!" Max screamed.
"Prepare her for the procedure!"
Max watched horrified as they forced Liz's thighs apart.
"LET HER GO!" He screamed, banging on the glass as hard as he could, tears streaming down his face. "LET HER GO!"
He watched as the man in the lab coat move closer so he was between Liz's thighs. He watched as Liz's back arched, tears streaming down her face.
The man picked up something from the tray and disappeared from Max's view but he knew when Liz started screaming.
"NO!" Liz threw her head back, her screams were of desperation and fear. "MAX!"
Max bolted awake, sweat covering his body as he looked around the room desperately. He raised shaky hands to his head, swallowing back the bile as tears streamed down his face.
Damn it – it had been a while since he a nightmare of the white room. And they had Liz. His heart broke as he drew his knees to his chest.
Max pushed himself out of the bed, slowly rising on shaky legs before he shook his head. The bedroom felt suffocating and he needed out.
Taking a deep breath, he made his way out of the bedroom, stumbling over to the counter and he slumped down on the stool, resting his elbows on the counter and his head in his hands as he tried to get the screams out of his head.
He had never heard her scream like that before and it made him shudder.
"Max?" he turned his head to see Ava was standing at the end of the counter and she frowned. "What's wrong?"
"Nightmare," he whispered. "It's been so long since I had that nightmare…but…" he traced patterns on the counter, "It felt different."
"Do you want to talk about it?" Ava rounded the counter. "I can make you tea if you want."
"Please," Max nodded. He needed something to keep him distracted while he got his head straight.
The silence was heavy between them as Ava got to work, using her powers to boil the kettle before getting the tea ready. Once she had the cups ready, she turned to Max and placed a cup in front of him.
The Tabasco bottle was sitting in the middle with the sugar container and honey if needed. Max slowly took a sip of his tea, just needing to have something to do while he was aware of Ava watching him carefully from the other side of the counter.
"I dreamt of the white room," he whispered, vaguely seeing Ava's fingers stiffen. "Only this time, Liz was in it. They were grabbing at her, trying to restrain her." Max shook his head. "I tried to break through the glass but I wasn't strong enough."
"Max…" Ava whispered and he could hear the horror in her voice.
"They restrained her to the table, spreading her legs and they did…something," Max spat out, shaking his head as anger flooded through him. "I don't know what it was but the way she screamed…Christ! She screamed for me, Ava."
Ava was silent as Max tried his hardest to get the scream out of his mind, to stop the anger and fear pounding through him.
"It was her nightmare," Ava broke the silence. Max's head snapped up to look at Ava, who was looking down at the counter, her finger swirling patterns in the marble. "It was her memory."
"They…" Max choked. "That was real?" he felt the tears come to his eyes and Ava slowly nodded as she lifted her eyes to meet his.
"They still haunt her. Sometimes…" Ava took in a deep breath, "Sometimes I get sucked into them."
"You saw?!" Max was horrified. For him, he thought he was rehashing his nightmares. Knowing that Ava was experiencing the nightmares sent shivers down his spine.
"I don't see everything," Ava hurried to explain with a hand up. "Neither Liz or I can dream-walk. It's more of…emotions. I do get images every now and then but I don't know the full extent. But I feel everything, Max."
Max shivered and held his cup tighter.
"Does Liz know?"
"To some extent," Ava admitted. "We never actually sat down and talked about. She won't talk about her time there Max."
"I…I don't blame her," Max frowned. "I've never talked about my time there with anyone. Except for Amy and she's the only one and she had to force me."
"I know," Ava smiled sadly, "We talked about that. She once told me she was worried about the fact you locked it up. Because she saw what they did. She then admitted that she now understood why you didn't."
Guilt sliced through Max. If it hadn't been for him, Liz would have never been in danger. Then again, if it hadn't been for him, Liz would have died that day in the Crashdown and he didn't know how he would have lived if he hadn't been there to save her.
Max sighed deeply, his head falling forward into his hands again as he tried to reign in his emotions.
"Max, you can't blame yourself," Ava's voice whispered. "None of us knew what was going to happen."
"Except Liz," he whispered.
"And she thought they were nightmares, Max. When she saw herself in the White Room, she thought she was seeing what was happening," Ava explained. Max frowned and looked up at her.
"She…she saw herself?"
"You two really need to talk," She sighed with a shake of her head. "I don't have all the information."
"How was she…after she escaped?" Max found himself asking. He remembered what it was like for him. The sheer relief when he saw Liz waiting for him outside the gates. The way he leaned into her, needing her presence.
"Angry," she broke into his thoughts and his eyes snapped up to meet hers. "She was angry Max. Whatever drove her to get out of Eagle Rock left its mark on her. I…" Ava laughed breathlessly as she shook her head, "I didn't think Liz could get angry."
"Oh, she can get angry," Max smiled ruefully as he remembered their arguments. Liz was never the one to back down which had led to them fighting but they always made up.
"But this kind of anger…" Ava whispered, "She still harbours it. She's not as angry as she was when she came to me but…I can still sense it, hidden deep within her."
Max stared at Ava and it struck him once again just how different Ava and Tess was. Tess had been determined – from the beginning – to get Max's attention, to get him to follow his destiny to the point she disregarded the humans – so much like Naesdo had.
Yet Ava had no qualms, he had heard from Michael and Isabel that Ava and Liz had struck a friendship when Ava came to Roswell – so much the opposite. He had wondered, briefly, if Liz had sensed something within Ava that she couldn't within Tess.
And it made him feel guilty.
"You know," Ava looked at him, "I wish you had been the one to come to Roswell instead of Tess." He swallowed as he finally gave to words to his wish and he felt guilty for it, especially when he saw the look on Ava's face.
"Max," Ava shook her head.
"I know," Max rushed forward, "I know it's a horrible thing…but I can't help but think if it had been you, then I wouldn't have hurt Liz back then…with Tess."
"I know," Ava whispered. Max looked at her confused and Ava smiled. "Liz and I talk. She talks about you, I talk about Zan."
"Really?" he whispered.
"Zan…well, I'm sure you have heard your enemies' version," Ava told him and he nodded. "Zan was like Rath and Lonnie. Only out for himself Max. But there was loneliness within him that I saw, not even I could fill that." Ava smiled sadly. "I don't see that loneliness in you…and I think that's because of Liz."
Max exhaled, his shoulders stiffening at the thought. He hadn't realised that maybe even his dupe would have been drawn to Liz the way he had been when he stepped off the bus at 8 years old and saw Liz Parker across the schoolyard.
Now more than ever he was grateful that Zan never got to meet Liz, especially when he heard how cold and ruthless he had been in his past life, and the way Lonnie and Rath had treated everyone.
It was funny how Ava was more…human than the other two and he wondered, once more, if Ava was the one to have been the one paired with them.
When he looked at Ava, he felt kindship, the warmth that wasn't there with Tess when she first arrived in Roswell. He had instantly trusted Ava, just like Liz had.
He felt drawn to Ava, the same way he had been drawn to Michael. Like she meant to be with them but there was no physical attraction. None of the pull he had with Tess.
Though he did have to admit that he had wondered just how much of that attraction had actually been real when Tess had admitted that she had mind-warped him to get his attention.
"Do…" Max frowned and Ava tilted her head, "Do you think…you were meant to be with us?" Max asked. He watched as surprise flickered over her face, seeing the questions in her eyes and he found himself breathless.
Since he had seen Ava, seen the difference compared to Tess, it struck him at how…human she seemed, compared to Tess and he felt a stab of guilt. He and Tess had been working on a friendship yet he felt it was easier to talk to Ava than it had been to talk to Tess.
"I don't know," she admitted softly. "I did wonder if how we were brought up played a factor in everything. That maybe if we had been raised by a good family, maybe we would have turned out more human."
"Or if Rath was right," Max remembered what the alien said. "We had more human DNA and they had more alien DNA."
Ava nodded before she sighed and reached out, touching Max's hand and he looked up at her.
"Max, we can't control our lives," she smiled at him, "but we can control our factors and maybe we should stop looking at the past and start looking at the future."
Max stared at her for a long moment before he smiled, taking her back as she arched an eyebrow.
"You've spent a lot of time with Liz," he told her. Ava blinked then she laughed.
"She has to rub off on me in some way, "Ava teased.
"Why?" Max shook his head, drawing Ava's curious look, "Why did you help her?"
Ava smiled softly, "Because she's Liz."
Max felt his breath caught in his chest when he saw the love in Ava's eyes, the soft smile and he instantly remembered when Liz asked him why he risked everything to save her.
'It was you,' he told her, simply and truthfully and even to this day, it was the same answer.
"She makes it easy, doesn't she?" Ava asked as she stirred her spoon then looked up into Max's confused face, "To love her." Max smiled and nodded.
"Yeah, she does."
"You know, she was the first person who actually cares about me," Ava told him. "Rath and Lonnie treated me like dirt, as you saw." Max nodded, he remembered how harsh they could be. "Zan…he tried in his own way but…" she shook her head, "So Liz…when I first met her, she just welcomed me without judgement and she gave me a hug before I left."
Ava laughed as she looked at Max. "She made me feel human."
"She's good at that," Max agreed, his voice soft.
"It was nice, to be needed. Then she showed up and I did everything I could to protect her and Alexis." Ava smiled. "You know, there was no question, no hesitation. I saw her standing there with Alexis in her arms and I just knew, right then, that I would do anything to protect her."
"It's easy to want to do that," Max softly admitted when he thought back to when Liz was shot. There was no hesitation, no question, all he knew was he had the ability to heal and he was going to heal her.
"Urgh, she is turning me into such a cornball," Ava wrinkled her nose. Max stared at her before he laughed. "It's not funny." She slapped at his shoulder.
"It's a little funny," he admitted. "You should have heard Isabel and Michael once they admitted they cared about Liz." He grinned at the memory. "Isabel was determined to hate her, mostly because she was jealous of Liz and I but Liz managed to soften her up. And Michael…" he laughed at the memory, "Man, he was determined to be a stonewall but Liz, Maria and Alex wormed their way and got him to loosen up."
"It sounds like you saving Liz ended up saving you," Ava tilted her head. Max slowly nodded.
"We never let anyone in, not even our parents. We just hid in plain view…then the shooting happened. I had to save her, I didn't care about everything else, I just had to save her. She had the choice, you know, to walk away but all she said was she didn't care."
Ava smiled. "That sounds like Liz. She's not the type to walk away when things are difficult."
"Sounds like experience," Max looked at her and Ava shrugged.
"She doesn't have to take care of Alexis. Alexis isn't her child yet…she trains her, she plays with her, she loves Alexis. She could have ignored Alexis' abilities yet she honed her own abilities just to help Alexis learn."
"What is it like?" Max asked, "Looking at Alexis and…"
"Strange," Ava huffed out a laugh. "I mean, I know Alexis is not mine but I look at her…" Ava frowned.
"I can't even imagine what it must be like," Max gave her a strained smile, "I mean finding out about you four in the first place…" he huffed out a laugh, "Can I say I'm glad that I didn't meet Zan?"
"You can," Ava smiled knowingly, "I think he would have been wigged out if he met you too. He probably would have hated you. You are…cookie-cut clean." She shrugged at his insulted look. "Sorry."
"No, no, fair assessment," Max slowly nodded before he wrinkled his nose. "Looking back at how you three looked, I think I probably would have had issues with Zan."
"Especially if he looked at Liz," she grinned and Max rolled his eyes.
"That transparent, am I?"
"Just a little." She held up her index and thumb, showing a little space and he laughed.
"It does make me wonder though…if Zan would have been drawn to Liz the same way I was."
"Well, it's a question we'll never have an answer to," Ava told him. "But I don't think you had to worry. Liz seemed to like you just fine when I was in Roswell."
"When I seem to hate her?" Max asked ruefully.
"You still loved her and you were in pain," Ava corrected.
"Because she wanted you to be able to step in if something happened."
"Yeah, and I would have. For Liz," Ava laughed, "I would do anything for her because she would do anything for me."
"Ava…Tess doesn't know what happened to Rath and Lonnie after New York…" Max started.
"Rath and Lonnie are gone," Ava cut him off with a dark look. "Let's just say it was their time and leave it there."
"Okay," he drew out, surprised at the sudden turnabout in Ava's attitude. He narrowed his eyes at her face when a noise from behind him made him turn to see Liz was slowly making her way into the hallway.
She stopped in her tracks when she saw them and Max saw a flash of fear cross her features for a moment when Ava stepped around the counter.
He watched as Ava approach Liz and whispered something to her. He watched as Liz's face slackens with shock before tears filled her eyes. She closed her eyes, turning her face away before she nodded to whatever Ava was telling her.
"I'm going back to bed," Ava looked over her shoulder at Max before she turned back to Liz. She kissed Liz's cheek before she made her way down the hallway while Liz slowly made her way over to him.
He watched as she looked at him, indecision warring on her features before she sighed.
"Max…" he watched as she chewed her bottom lip before straightening her shoulders, "We need to talk."
"Ok," he whispered, shifting so he was facing her.
"Not here," she whispered, shaking her head. She gently took his hand, pulling him off the stool and into her bedroom.
Max shifted nervously as he looked around Liz's bedroom, ironically remembering the time he first had been in Liz's bedroom back in Roswell. He had to smile; it was a similar layout to her old bedroom, just without the balcony this time.
Liz closed the door behind him before she brushed past him, making her way over to the bed, grabbing his hand and pulling him over.
"Let's…get comfortable," Liz muttered, shifting so she was now sitting in the middle of the bed. Max, curious, followed her motions so he was now sitting facing her and he could see how nervous she looked.
"Liz…we can talk about this later," he told her. Liz shook her head stubbornly and he sighed, slowly nodding.
He waited for her to gather her courage, could see the way her hands were shaky as she tried to control herself before she exhaled deeply and looked at him, her eyes flittering away for a moment.
"I…er…" Liz ran a hand through her hair, "I just want to know if there were a moment you felt…connected to me when I left Roswell."
Max frowned, tilting his head as he thought back to the year Liz was gone. There was only one moment that had blindsided him but he wasn't sure if it was what Liz was asking for.
"There…was a moment," Max admitted, "It wasn't to you though."
"Please," she looked up at him with those eyes and he crumbled.
"I was terrified, Liz. It was the middle of the day, I was at school taking chemistry and I was doing a project when all of a sudden, this blinding fear just overtook everything." Max shook his head. "No…it wasn't just fear, it as a…tugging sensation…like something was calling. It was over in minutes but in that short amount of time, I nearly tore the school apart Liz."
Liz breathed shakily, taking his hands in hers. "It took all 5 of them to hold me back." The fear back then filled him again.
He still couldn't believe how out of control he had gotten. The fear had taken control of him and he had gone on a rampage. It wasn't even just the fear; it was the feeling of something calling to him.
He had been so desperate to find whatever it was that had gotten him crazy that by the time he came back to reality, he was sitting on the ground in the hallway with Michael holding him in a bear hug, Alex and Kyle each had an arm with Isabel and Maria were on his legs, each touching his face.
He hadn't even realised he had been crying until he felt the wetness on his cheeks and he took in the sight.
Lockers had been ripped apart, doors were open – some of the windows shattered under the force – he had seen the look on his classmates' faces, the horror, the confusion, and terror.
His parents had been called in but Max hadn't been able to give them a valid reason for his actions. Surprisingly enough, his chemistry teacher had come to his defence and offered up the explanation that the experiment they had been doing – regarding mixing different chemicals – might have had an accidental effect on him.
It had haunted him every night.
She whispered the date and Max's head snapped up, his eyes widening before he frowned.
"I…they got me pregnant Max." Liz swallowed. Max's hands tightened around hers as fury began to build. She seemed to have noticed the tension, shaking her head and looking up at him. "They didn't rape me…well, not in the usual sense."
Liz closed her eyes, swallowing before she exhaled.
"They had samples, Max," she stared up at him, her eyes not looking away. Max frowned, "From Pierce."
The words swam around in his mind, the world blurring and he was right there, back in the white room with Pierce smirking down at him before they brought in a slip of a woman with dark hair and dark eyes.
He could almost feel the hand; feel the tears coursing down his cheeks as he tried so hard not to give them the satisfaction.
Max shuddered violently as he came back to reality.
"They used the samples to get me pregnant. They even told me who the samples belonged to."
"My child?" he whispered and Liz nodded.
"I think being pregnant with your child was a trigger for my abilities. My abilities came through and," she shook her head, "I hurt quite a lot of them. They couldn't quite suppress my abilities without potentially harming the child and they only got stronger over the months."
The nightmare resurfaced in his mind and Ava's words came back to him.
It was her memory.
He felt a chill creeping around his heart as he stared down at Liz.
"Liz?" he didn't know what to feel, dread settling in his stomach. He could already feel his eyes tearing up and his breath coming out shaky.
Liz's eyes filled up with tears and she clutched at his hands tighter.
"They aborted the pregnancy in my 3rd month."
Max's world went blank, white noise ringing in his ears as he went between being beyond furious – how the hell could they do that to her – to his heart-shattering at the thought of not being there to protect Liz, to protect their child.
Max rolled over to the side and vomited.
"Max!" a hand went to the small of his back, the other to his chest and helped him to roll over.
Her hands went to his cheeks while he stared up at the ceiling, trying to come to terms with what she had told him, with what he had seen.
"That's what I saw?" he asked, mostly to himself, "I saw them…" He choked on a sob before shaking his head and he met Liz's eyes. "That's why…I…" the desperation he felt during those moments. It had been because their child had been calling out to him, begging him to protect them. He had failed. "I am so sorry," he sobbed.
"No Max, no, it wasn't your fault," Liz gently pulled him up, shaking her head; "It was theirs. They did this."
"If it hadn't been for me-"
"I would have died that day in the Crashdown," Liz looked up at him, cupping his cheeks. "If it hadn't been for you, I would have never had the time with Maria and Alex. I would have never gotten to know Isabel and Michael. I would have never met Tess or Alexis or Ava." She smiled sadly. "I would have never fallen in love with you."
"They are the ones to blame. They were the ones who did the experiments. They were the ones who got me pregnant and couldn't handle the results. I don't blame you, Max." She shook her head. "I could never blame you."
"You should," he muttered, "I've done nothing but hurt you."
"You did nothing but save me, Max. You loved me. It's not your fault."
"They…" Max shook his head, "I should have been there."
"Then they would have forced us to be together, Max. Is that what you want?"
"I could have protected us."
"They used a serum to keep Tess under control," she reminded him, shaking her head. "I am so glad you weren't there, Max. After what they did to you the first time…it would have killed me knowing they got you again."
"But they had you," he growled, "They…Liz, they forced you…" he couldn't finish his sentence as the nightmare washed over him, "You screamed my name," his tone was broken as he stared at her.
Liz flinched before she sighed, shaking her head.
"You screamed for me, how can I forget that? How can I forget that I couldn't protect you?"
"Because you didn't know," Liz reminded, tugging on his hands, "I made a choice Max, and I would do it all over again."
"Because it's you," she whispered and he felt his breath catch in his chest as she stared at him with those eyes, with the trust and unwavering faith that always made him feel he was unworthy to have such faith in him.
"Liz…" he shook his head before he grasped her cheeks and pulled her in for a kiss. He heard her startled gasp, pulling away but she chased him, her lips closing over his again and he moaned.
One hand slid over her shoulder and up the back of her neck, burying his fingers in her hair, while the other slipped around her waist, pulling her in closer.
Liz's hands weren't idle, one slipping into his dark hair and the other clutching at his shirt at his shoulder, her tongue asking for permission, which he granted.
Liz shifted in closer and his tangled his fingers in her hair, the other hand sliding down her back and over her hip.
Liz gasped, pulling away from him when he heard a cry coming from the other bedroom and Max swallowed.
"Sorry," Liz breathed heavily as she rested her forehead against his, "I…I need to get her."
"Okay," Max nodded, trying to get his breath back.
Liz slid off the bed and headed over to the adjoining door. She peered in to see Alexis was sitting up, rubbing her eyes and she sighed.
"Hey sweetheart," Liz walked over to the cot, leaning in and placing a hand on Alexis' chest and gently rubbed, soothing the child, "Nightmare?"
Alexis nodded, tears trickling down her cheeks.
"Sorry baby," Liz wiped the tears away before she leaned in, lifting Alexis out and holding her to her chest. "Bad dreams are horrible."
Alexis rested her head on Liz's shoulder, her blue eyes meeting Max's as Max stood in the doorway, just watching the scene and it tore at his heart knowing it could have been their child Liz was holding right now.
"Hi Uncle Max," Alexis whispered. Max smiled softly.
"Hey Alexis," he whispered back, watching as Alexis shift her head so it was settled further in Liz's shoulder and closed her eyes.
Liz gently swayed, rubbing Alexis' back before she answered Max's unasked question.
"Sometimes Alexis can feel the remnants of my dreams," Liz explained, "Especially ones like the one tonight."
"She doesn't…see the dreams…right?" Max was terrified of Liz's answer as he stared at the back of her head, holding his breath.
"No," Liz shook her head and Max exhaled, relief surging through him like a balm before he closed his eyes, nodding gratefully.
Liz kissed the side of Alexis' head just as they heard another noise and they turned to see Ava standing in the doorway with a curious expression before it gave way to understanding as her eyes roamed over them and she sighed.
"I'll take Munchkin to daycare," Ava told them with a critical look, eyeing them and Liz sighed, giving her a relieved smile. "You two just take the day to talk and whatever," she gestures her hand about, making Max smile.
"Are you sure?" Liz fussed. Ava just smiled.
"I got her Liz, you just talk."
"Cornball," Ava teased with affection.
It didn't take them long to get ready. Liz got Alexis dressed in a simple dark t-shirt and jeans before pulling her dark curls into a ponytail.
Ava dressed in simple cream slacks with a white shirt, pulling her dark curls into a twist before she picked up Alexis, taking the lunch bag from Liz.
"I'll see you later sweetheart, okay?" Liz kissed Alexis' forehead before smoothing back her curls. "I love you."
"Love you too mama." Alexis kissed her cheek before she returned her head back to the crook of Ava's neck, eyeing Max suspiciously, obviously still not sure of him.
Max just couldn't help but stare back at the child. She reminded him of them in so many ways.
He watched as Ava walked out of the apartment, Alexis looking back at Liz before he inhaled sharply when he felt a tug at the connection between him and Liz before he frowned as the door shut then he looked at Liz.
"I felt the tug," Max frowned. Liz whirled around to look at him with surprise clear on her face.
"You felt it?"
"Well, it wasn't like she reached out to me, it was more…I felt it through us," he gestured between them before he frowned, "It was like…" he sighed, rubbing his forehead, "It's like there is a string between us and Alexis is another piece of string. She tugged on the string between you two and I felt the ripple."
"Wow," Liz shook her head, "I never even felt it with Tess and Alexis." Max could see the gears shifting in her brain. "I wonder if that's because it's a similar bond between you and me."
"Liz?" she turned to look at him, "What are you talking about?"
"It's a long and complicated story," she muttered.
"Can you try me?" he asked.
"Let's sit then," Liz pulled him over to the counter. "Do you want some coffee?"
"That would be nice," He slowly nodded. Even though he was an alien and didn't need as much sleep, he couldn't deny that he needed some caffeine to keep him awake.
"Do you still take it tar-like?" she jested. Max came out of his thoughts and he laughed.
"Yeah, I do," he admitted. Liz nodded, grabbing two cups and switching on the kettle. She filled the cups, grabbing the milk for her and pushing the bottle of Tabasco toward him.
"You don't need Tabasco?" he asked, picking up the bottle as Liz poured out the hot water into the cups then pushed his cup toward him.
"No, I take sugar more," she smiled at the distaste on his face, "Yeah; I lean toward the sweeter side in some things."
"You and Isabel, that's for sure," he muttered, sprinkling his Tabasco in his coffee and tasting it once he got the right amount.
Liz rounded the counter and sat down next to him, her smile fading, as she turned serious.
"I told you Tess ran when she found out she was pregnant," Liz started, "But I didn't tell you how Tess knew she was pregnant."
Max frowned, unsure where Liz was going. "Tess knew when she conceived. She told me that a bond forms between the child and the parent."
"Oh," Max's eyes were wide with shock. Liz nodded.
"Yeah, Tess said it was something to do with Antarian. It's a way of being able to protect the child," she shrugged. "Anyway, Tess and Alexis had a bond when Tess was carrying Alexis. It got stronger when Tess gave birth but…"
"Something went wrong with the birth," Liz explained, shaking her head, "Tess…she wouldn't stop bleeding Max. I tried everything to stop the bleeding; I even tried healing her but…"
"You didn't have the ability," Max whispered and she nodded.
"And those bastards just stood there on the other side of the wall, just watching her bleed out. I screamed and begged them to do something and they didn't."
Her tears came through and she broke down, her hands coming up to her face. Max slowly pulled her into a hug, rocking her.
"She died and I couldn't save her!" Liz cried into his chest. Max smoothed back her hair, rubbing her back as she cried. He had a feeling that Liz hadn't quite let go of her grief.
Liz sniffled, pulling away from Max and wiping at her cheeks before she shook her head as Max looked down at her with concern in his eyes.
"Sorry," she whispered.
"You needed to let it out," he whispered back, helping her to wipe her tears away.
"I don't want to let it out," she muttered savagely, "I want to use it to keep me going forward."
"So what happened with Tess and Alexis?" he asked, knowing she needed to talk.
"After Tess gave birth, that was when something went wrong. I was the only one in the room with her. They ordered me to help her with birth…I think they wanted to see what abilities I had." Liz shook her head. "She lived long enough to name her Max; she didn't live long enough to touch her."
"Jesus Liz," he muttered as he stared down at her.
"She got the last laugh though," Liz smiled through her tears. "Her body disintegrated right before their very eyes. They didn't even the chance to cut her open." She laughed bitterly. "They were so pissed off."
"What does that mean?" he asked. Liz shook her head. "Liz?"
"Don't 'Max' me," he chided her with a sharp shake of his head.
"They had plans for Tess. With your samples." Max inhaled sharply. "They got an alien/human pregnancy and they wanted to know how a Human/Alien pregnancy worked out. They also planned on an alien/alien pregnancy but because Tess died, they didn't get it."
"So they took it out on you?" he demanded.
"They took it out on Alexis," she corrected, her hands tightening around the cup. "They took Alexis away. She wasn't even an hour old and they just yanked her out of my arms and took her to the other room. They didn't care about her; all that they had a new toy to play with."
"What did they do?" he forced himself to ask.
"A series of tests. They didn't do anything like they did with us. They were more interested in finding out what made her different compared to Tess and I. Her cells are normal but she has abilities."
"Did they know?"
"No, she never had the abilities from birth," she reminded. "I think they guessed it might happen. Especially since Tess was the mother."
"So how did you become connected to Alexis?" he returned the conversation to the original point.
"She was dying, Max." Max inhaled sharply. "It turns out if the child doesn't have a bond, they start losing the will to live. So I managed to force my way to her side…and I created a bond with her."
"How?" he demanded. She smiled sadly at him.
"The same way you did. I created a connection with her."
"Liz," Max breathed before he closed his eyes, shaking his head.
"I had no choice, Max. I swore to Tess I would protect Alexis, even if it meant binding myself to her."
"You could have died! She could have died! I barely knew what I was doing when I did that connection with you."
"And I went on faith and trust that you wouldn't hurt me, Max," she reminded him. He stared back at her. "So I had to try Max. I couldn't just watch her slip away."
Max just looked at her, dumbfounded by the woman he had fallen in love with. Never in a million years would he have ever seen this. Never thought Liz would risk everything for them, for a child who was part alien.
He found he couldn't speak; he had no idea what to even say. Hasn't he been where Liz was? So desperate to save someone that he would risk everything and anything for them?
He chuckled inwardly, he knew that he and Liz were similar, he just didn't realise how similar.
"So that created a connection between the two of you?" He asked. Liz slanted her eyes at him with a wry smile.
"Yeah, it allows Alexis to communicate with me when she needs me. She can feel me and I can feel her."
"What…is it like?" he asked, curious.
"It's like a tug," she explained. "It's kind of hard to explain – it's similar to what you felt. She tugs on the connection and I can feel it."
"Does it work over distance?" he asked. She shrugged.
"Not exactly," she admitted, "It could be because it's not a natural connection like it would be between a parent and child, or it could be that there are limits to the connection."
"So more questions than answers," Max said, mostly to himself and Liz nodded. "Do you think she can form a connection with her father?"
"Well, she managed to somewhat form one with you," Liz frowned when she thought about it. "It must have been when she pressed your hands together and she gave you the flash."
"It's a little…weird," Max shifted on the stool, his hand coming up to his chin as he regarded her. "It doesn't feel like our connection."
"Probably because the connection wasn't forced," Liz pointed out. "You asked me for permission. I didn't have much of a choice regarding Alexis. Then again, Alexis is more apt at using the connection than we are."
"It would explain how I knew you were nearby," Max said thoughtfully as he thought back to their school days. "It was similar to how I could feel Michael and Isabel but it was different."
"Probably because I'm human," Liz theorised with a shrug when he looked at her. "You probably sense each other because you are the same whereas with me being human, it would have been different."
"More thinking?" he gently teased her, getting flushed cheeks and a shy smile.
"Never really quite stopped," she admitted softly before she frowned. "Are you going to tell them?" Liz picked at the sugar packet. Max looked at her.
"Do you want me to?" he watched Liz chew her bottom lip before she sighed.
"A part of me wants you to," she admitted, "God I miss everyone and I want them to know I'm alive. But at the same time…"
"You're terrified. F.B.I?"
Liz nodded. "I didn't get the agent who experimented on us, Max. He's still out there."
Max shivered at the thought. He had the personal knowledge that Peirce was dead, that he couldn't come back to hurt him but Liz didn't have that comfort.
Max swallowed, pushing back his fear while Liz sighed, shaking her head.
"Plus Max…I'm not the same person I used to be," she whispered. Max frowned. "It's not just because of the White Room, but because of what I did to get us out."
"You did what you had to do," Max whispered. Liz's smile was sad.
"You don't know what I did."
Max felt a shiver run down his spine at her words, how emotionless her voice was and he wondered what she did.
"Do…do you want to talk about it?" he whispered.
"No," she whispered back with a sharp shake of her head before she lifted her eyes to meet his. "It's not that I'm…ashamed," her lips curled downward for a moment, "It's…mostly my anger. Just thinking about it makes me angry and I really don't want to be angry right now."
"Okay," he whispered. Liz gave him a soft smile in gratitude.
"So," Max looked at her, "How long do you have before you need to go back to Roswell?"
"Two weeks," he softly admitted and Liz smiled shyly as she looked down at her cup before she frowned as a thought came back to her.
"You read my journal, didn't you?"
Sorry – Real life is determined to catch me! (Plus Ribbons of Love and another story keeps competing to be written)