All for You - AU/FF/CC M/L MATURE/ADULT [COMPLETE]

Finished stories set in an alternate universe to that introduced in the show, or which alter events from the show significantly, but which include the Roswell characters. Aliens play a role in these fics. All complete stories on the main AU with Aliens board will eventually be moved here.

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LivE
Addicted Roswellian
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Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2001 4:58 pm
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All for You - AU/FF/CC M/L MATURE/ADULT [COMPLETE]

Post by LivE » Mon May 17, 2004 4:18 am

TITLE: All for You
AUTHOR: LivE
E-MAIL: lieselvw@mweb.co.za
RATING: MATURE (ADULT in some parts)
CATEGORY: M/L
DISCLAIMER: I own nothing related to Roswell, only a vivid imagination…
SUMMARY: Khivar is basically in control of earth (as part of a war he is waging against the Antar Royal Family) after convincing earth authorities that he was their savior and would protect them against the aggression of Antarian efforts to colonize earth. Humans that have tried to cross him are being kept in secret prison camps. An underground human resistance movement has started, but there are also humans who have chosen to work with Khivar (like Liz and Alex). Max and Michael have managed to escape earth and are living in a space ship at the moment, on the run from Khivar. Isabel has been caught by Khivar and Max has to act to get her back. The aliens and Maria have never met Liz and Alex (who grew up in Boston).



ALL FOR YOU


Chapter 1


They had drugged her. She was drifting between oblivion and consciousness… and she was cold.

“Why isn’t she waking up?” The voice was incredibly soft. Smooth like honey. Tugging at her memory.

“How the hell should I know? Do I look like a doctor to you?” An impatient voice. Where was she?

“She’s shivering, put a blanket over her…” The beautiful voice again, now filled with concern.

“She’s the enemy, Maxwell. Remember that.”

A long silence.

“Just do what I said.” The honey voice had an edge now. A minute later she was covered with something warm. Where was Alex?

Oblivion came to claim her again.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Max Evans stomped through the ship, scattering people in his wake. She was just as mesmerizingly beautiful as when he had first met her. Just seeing her made longing and desire rip through his gut. A longing for things he would never have. Desire for things he could never have. Should never have.

She was working for his enemy.

Khivar.

Khivar who had conned gullible humans into letting him take charge of earth.

And Max had abducted her because of that.

He hated this. He hated the things he was forced to do because this was war. He had grown up on earth, as normally as an alien-human hybrid could, but Khivar’s arrival had changed all that.

It had been a day like any other during summer holidays three years ago. He had been preparing to return to college with his sister Isabel. His parents had been at the office. Then, the television and radio signals went dead. Static had filled the air for long minutes before pictures and sound returned. Only, all the channels had broadcast the same thing. Earth was under threat from another planet called Antar. However, just in time, a savior by the name of Khivar had come to earth to assist humans in protecting themselves against any Antarian aggression. Khivar and earth governments had been in secret negotiations for a while now and have come to an agreement that they would work together against this alien invasion. The population was warned that there were already some Antarians living on earth, trying to colonize the planet. Khivar had announced that all Antarians living on earth should surrender themselves to human authorities or face being hunted by both human security forces and Khivar’s army.

And Max had known. Khivar had finally come for him and Izzy.

Their parents had known this day would come too. They had known, but they hadn’t been prepared for it to be so soon. Their earth parents, Philip and Diane Evans, had been found and prepared by the Antarian Royal Family to care for Max and Isabel. To keep them safe until the situation was under control on Antar and their people could come and find them. The Evans’ had helped their son and daughter’s protector, Doran, train them for the day they would need to fight to stay alive.

As soon as Khivar’s broadcast had ended on that fateful day, Max and Isabel had left a letter to the Evans’, thanking them for their love and kindness.

And had fled into the desert.

A year later, they were joined by Michael Guerin, a soldier from Antar.

Michael had led a group that had secretly followed Khivar to earth to ascertain his activities and had realized the danger to their Prince and Princess when they found Khivar on earth. The ship they came in had been carefully hidden behind the moon and cloaked to ensure that Khivar remained oblivious to its presence. Communications with Antar were cut off to maintain security. Michael had taken a small group from the ship to earth and, after finding Max and Isabel gone from their home in Roswell, waited in Albuquerque for a sign that the Prince and Princess of Antar were still alive.

Max and Isabel had been living in a small camp in the desert for a year when Doran had finally managed to make contact with Michael’s group. Doran had disappeared from the camp every month to find supplies and to keep in touch with developments in the rest of the world and had found a small pocket of the human resistance movement in Albuquerque that provided him with both. Through them, he had met Michael. And a few months later, after carefully making sure that Michael had been who he said he was, Doran arranged a meeting between Max and Michael on a warm day in a remote spot in the desert of New Mexico.

A King and his second, meeting for the first time in this lifetime. Two very different men, who had respected each other immediately.

They had set up a new camp in another spot in the desert. Far away from Roswell, where Max and Iz grew up, and far away from Albuquerque, where Michael had spent his time on earth. When he came to the camp, Michael not only brought with him his group of Antarian soldiers, but also a human girl he had gotten involved with while living in Albuquerque. Maria DeLuca. She was a spitfire. She hated Khivar. And she was perfect for Michael.

She had also educated Max about the human resistance and the fact that there were humans that didn’t believe the lies Khivar had told the authorities. Humans that had seen the secret prison camps where Khivar kept the humans and aliens who crossed him. A resistance that was led by a mystical leader, called André, whom nobody seemed to know anything about.

As for the rest of humanity, they lived blithely on. Trusting their leaders to know right from wrong and to ensure that they could sleep safely in their beds at night. Waiting breathlessly for each new and wonderful invention Khivar helped earth to accomplish.

Staring out the window at the dark side of the moon, Max clenched his hands into fists. What was wrong with these humans? How could they just accept Khivar’s word? That tiny girl with the impossibly gorgeous hair lying in the cell behind his back was one of Them. One of the humans working for Khivar. Working against Antar and, most of all, against their own race. Even if she didn’t know it…

They had found Liz while trying to find out what Khivar had done with Iz. Isabel had disappeared during a mission a few weeks ago, sending the Antarian group into complete panic. Max had calmed down enough to order another mission, one he went on himself. One where they found out Khivar actually had human scientists working in his prison camps. And they had found the most brilliant of those scientists. Liz Parker. She worked in the inner sanctum, reporting to Khivar himself.

Now they had her. And she would tell them where Isabel was.

And Max would keep reminding himself that those beautiful doe eyes belonged to a woman who was working for his enemy and try to forget that he had gotten way too close to her during those short three weeks he spent on earth…

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Maria tucked the blanket tighter around Liz and stared down at her sleeping face. This girl was a killer? A heartless scientist working with Khivar on horrible experiments? It seemed too incongruous. The girl looked so… innocent, helpless even, as she lay on the bed in her cell. Her dark hair spilled over the pillow and her one hand was curled under her cheek. Glancing up at the one-way mirror that took up one wall of the cell, Maria wondered if Max was there, watching this girl like he’s done ever since she’s been brought onto the ship. Liz had been unconscious the whole time, drugged by Max’s team as part of her capture, so Maria had not really had a chance to form a conclusive opinion on the girl that caused such an intense reaction with the Antarian Prince.

Carefully keeping her face blank in case Max was behind the glass, she looked at Liz again. Max hadn’t said much about the three weeks he and a team had spent looking for a way to gain access to the prison camp where they suspected Khivar was keeping Isabel. All she knew was that he had met Liz during this time and had apparently been knocked side-ways by the tiny girl. He had personally overseen Liz’s transport from earth to the ship and from the shuttle to her cell and had proceeded to give Michael a hard time about how the prisoner should be treated while on board.

Michael had not been impressed with what he termed Max’s obsession with ‘a lackey of their enemy’.

Maria has never seen Max Evans get like this about a girl in the two years she’s known him. He was a calm introvert who had spent his 22 years keeping to himself, only allowing his sister close. He’s never had romantic entanglements of any kind, not even indulging in meaningless one-night stands, according to Isabel. How he had managed to get through high school, looking like he did, without contracting some form of a girlfriend, was a mystery to Maria. But loneliness followed Max like a dark cloud and she had gotten to know him well enough to realize that he was an incredibly sensitive person who felt deeply about things and people. However, his whole life had been about being groomed to take over the throne on Antar one day and in spite of how much he wanted a normal life on earth, he would never have it. In Max’s code of honor book, that meant not getting involved with a girl since he had no rosy future to offer. Maria had seen the envy he tried so hard to hide when he looked at her and Michael sometimes and her heart ached for him. Ached for how alone he was and that he intended to never shower the intense love he was capable of feeling on another being.

That was until Liz Parker arrived on the scene. Even in her unconscious condition, she sent Max into a tailspin. He apparently couldn’t stay away from her cell with the best will in the universe. In the nearly 24 hours she’s been peacefully sleeping the drugs off, Max had worn a groove in the floor of the observation room next to the cell. He never went inside the cell, though, something else that puzzled Maria.

Bending down to smooth the blanket once more, Maria heard Liz whimper softly. A name. Mark. Then another name. Alex. Hmmm, this was interesting. Making a mental note to tell Michael about it, Maria finally tore herself away from the only other true human on board. How she wished circumstances could have been different. That Liz could have turned out to be a friend she could talk to about how crazy her life had become ever since she joined the resistance and got involved with an alien.

Wow, life was really weird lately.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

She shouldn’t be doing this. Kissing him. Again. Liz heard herself whimper, a small helpless sound breaking from the back of her throat. His mouth was insistent, hard, his tongue moving against hers in a possessive stamp of ownership that echoed through her body and obliterated the possibility of her ever being with anyone else but him like this again. Ripples of complete ecstasy raced through her veins as his hands molded her closer, curling around the cheeks of her bottom, pressing her into the arousal she had caused.

Her nails raked across his back, scraping his skin even through his shirt. He tore his mouth away from hers, throwing his head back as a groan was ripped from him. “Oh God, Liz!”

The sound of her name falling from his lips, his voice ragged and hoarse, made her head spin.

It was just a kiss. But it was so much more.

He was marking her as his own. She would never be the same again.

This was so wrong.

“Mark…”



Chapter 2

“Why hasn’t she woken up yet?” Max had taken only a few seconds to recover from his embarrassment at bumping into Maria when she exited Liz’s cell. He was starting to get frantic now, Liz has been unconscious for a long time, surely this was not normal?

“Breathe, Space King!” Maria patted his chest soothingly, still amazed at how unsettled Max has been ever since Liz came on board. “I’m only a nurse, but I’m guessing she was exhausted even before you drugged her.” She noticed Max winced at the last part. “Her body is probably recuperating from a lot more that the trip over to the ship.”

Running his hands through his hair in agitation, Max cast a distressed look at the door of the cell. “I just…” he trailed off, sounding lost.

Another tug at Maria’s soft heart. “Why don’t you go in there and—”

“No!” He took a deep breath and a step back, still staring at the door. “No,” he repeated, this time softly. “I don’t… want her to see me… yet.”

“Max, what happened between the two of you down—”

He turned away abruptly, cutting off Maria’s brave attempt to find clues to the puzzle that was Max and Liz.

“We need to find Isabel so we can go back to Antar while Khivar is still occupied on earth. Just tell Michael to find out what she knows.” Whirling back after a few paces, his voice was stern. “And not to hurt her.”

“Max.” But he had hurried off. Maria was starting to wish Liz would wake up too so she could enlighten all of them on what had transpired between her and Max. Turning around, she spied one of the men that had been in Max’s team on earth who helped find Liz. “Hey Dave! Wait up!” Maybe she can find some answers from a different source in the meantime.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Pacing in the cell, Michael cursed under his breath for the umpteenth time. Max won’t allow him to wake up the traitorous girl the hard way, and now he had to hang around and wait for Sleeping Beauty to wake naturally. If Max weren’t his Prince, he would have kicked his ass. Sure, the girl was cute in a girl-next-door kind of way, but in Michael’s opinion that should not be enough to send a guy down the deep end.

But it was true anyway, Max was obsessed with this woman, and he was making everyone else suffer the consequences. If Maria hadn’t so quickly captivated him too, Michael would have questioned the fact that it took Max all of three weeks to fall for this girl. Sighing deeply, Michael settled himself in a chair opposite the bed. It was a pity Isabel was missing, now they didn’t have someone that can search a person’s unconscious. Michael was really interested in finding out what this Liz was thinking, feeling and dreaming. It would take them a long way towards understanding what moved a normal human being into becoming a monster.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Alex! Lord, you scared me!”

He was grinning at her, pleased to have gotten one over on her. “So, how is our latest experiment going?”

“Good, we’d be ready to go in about a day more.”

“Geesh, Liz…” He scratched his head in that endearing Alex-way of his.

“What?” She was afraid she would know what he was going to say.

“Just… Sometimes I wonder if we’re…”

“Doing the right thing?”

He stared at her for a long time and then shook his head as if clearing himself of his doubts deliberately. “No. No, we’re doing the right thing.”

“Yes, we are,” Liz answered firmly. “You know this is the only way for us to ensure humanity’s survival. Our survival. We talked about this before we got involved, Alex.” She was wringing her hands, silently praying that Alex’s momentary bout of uncertainty was a passing thing. Praying that he wouldn’t leave her alone on this road that she’s chosen to walk. A road that has brought many surprises and a lot of shocks, but one that Liz ultimately believed was the right one. Even if a lot of her fellow humans would disagree.

And now, after her life had gone spinning into craziness last night, she needed Alex even more. She needed him to ground her. “Please, stay with me?” she begged quietly. “Alex…”


~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“You lost her!” The roar reverberated around the huge office and Nicholas cringed. Khivar was a frightening man when he was furious. “How the hell did that happen?”

“I don’t know. The one day she was still there and the next she was gone. No one saw anything suspicious.”

“You’re kidding me, right?” Khivar strode closer, towering over Nicholas. His leader was a handsome man, over six-feet tall with jet black hair and eyes the color of the sky on a summer’s day that he used regularly to mesmerize human women. Of course Khivar had chosen the human husk of a tall and handsome man, while Nicholas had been doomed to being a teenage shorty.

Shrugging, Nicholas wondered if he should give Khivar the other bad news. Probably not if he wanted to live to see the rest of the day.

“I am surrounded by idiots!” Khivar shouted again. “As if it isn’t bad enough that I have to hang around this pathetic little planet because my people are too stupid to find the two Antarian Royals, I have to cope with this incompetence too!” He grabbed Nicholas by the collar and practically lifted him up. “Find her. Do you hear me? Find her, and bring her back!”

“Yes.”

“She is marked, isn’t she?”

“Yes, but…” Nicholas braced himself. “Something is wrong. We can’t trace her, even with the mark.”

He was flung across the room while Khivar cursed in their own language. Foul curses that all the girls he had been entertaining himself with while on earth would probably never believe could come from the seemingly charming alien leader that was helping their planet.

Finally, Khivar turned his back on him. “This is your responsibility. Find her, or face the consequences!”

Nicholas fled the office, still not having divulged to Khivar the real scope of what had gone wrong in his organization. Maybe they’d be lucky and having messed with the minds of the people involved would save Khivar’s plans from too much future harm…

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Liz!”

The hard sound of her name brought her back from the memory of beautiful eyes, staring at her with so much hunger it took her breath away.

“What is going on with you? We need to focus here.”

Alex was sounding uncharacteristically curt as he looked at her searchingly. Her hands found the sensitive spots just below her ears unconsciously, curling over them protectively.

Starting to frown, Alex walked closer. “You know you can trust me, right? What happened last night? I couldn’t find you…”

It’s not a ‘what’ that happened last night, it’s a ‘who’, Liz thought frantically. Mark. Mark happened last night. It had been so different from their first kiss a few days before. This one was wild, deep, passionate, frantic—all the things nerdy Liz Parker had never experienced before.

“Liz, are you even listening to me?” Alex was shaking her slightly, sounding really impatient. “Khivar will be coming soon. We will get in trouble if we don’t finalize this now.”

Looking up at her life-long friend helplessly, Liz shivered a little. It was too late. She was already in trouble. The places on her neck, still covered by her palms, suddenly felt warm.

She was carrying his mark.


~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Damn, why did he have to be in the hallway at the wrong time? Dave was squirming underneath Maria’s intense regard. She had been bombarding him with questions about his time on earth with Max for a while now, and he was starting to wish for cosmic intervention to save him from ‘Hurricane DeLuca’. How in the universe Michael managed to live with this chatterbox was beyond Dave.

“So you never actually saw Max with Liz?” Her badgering continued.

Shifting in his chair, Dave cast around for the right words. Words that wouldn’t get his Prince mad at him. “No, we didn’t. He was always with her alone.” As soon as it was out of his mouth and he saw the answering glint in Maria’s eyes, he realized his mistake. “But… but he was only really with her a few times. Mostly we were just following her. Trying to establish her routine, to see if she couldn’t maybe lead us to the Princess.”

What he didn’t mention was that Max had taken one look at the dark-haired scientist lady and ordered everyone to let him handle Liz Parker himself. Or that Max had acted quite strangely a couple of times, taking off alone and leaving his bodyguard in a complete panic and them sifting through the stuff in Liz’s apartment looking for clues.

Maria narrowed her eyes accusingly. “You aren’t helping me much, you know!”

“Uh… Sorry?” The whole thing just freaked Dave out. He had come from Antar on a ship with Michael, determined to find Khivar and take him out once and for all. Instead, they ended up finding their long lost Prince and Princess and got involved with a whole bunch of weird humans. Humans confused Dave. They were unpredictable and emotional and easily fooled. You just had to look like them and they believed you were one of them. How sad.

“Who is Alex?”

“He is her best friend, it seems. He works with her in the lab, doing some computer stuff.” Dave was relieved that there had been at least one easy question.

“So, what happened to him?”

“I’m not sure. Max told us to only bring Liz.”

And we’re back to Liz again, Maria thought. “And who’s Mark?”

Frowning in confusion, Dave squinted at Maria. “Mark?”

“Yeah, Mark. She keeps mumbling his name.”

Dave shook his head slowly. “Don’t know any Mark.”

“Are you sure? She sounded pretty…” Maria waved her hand in the air, “pretty taken with him.” The way Liz was sighing that name, Maria was sure ‘taken’ was a wild understatement of what she was for the unknown Mark.

“I’m sure. She never met or mentioned a Mark that I know of.”

“Did you see her with anyone but Alex?”

Dave paused, looking uncomfortable. “Yeah.”

Tapping her foot, Maria lifted her eyebrows. “Well?”

“We’re not sure who he was. He was tall. Dark hair. We only saw him with her a couple of times, but he seemed real possessive of her.” Max had hated that. “And she was flirty with him too.” And Max had hated that even more.

“So he could be Mark?”

“I guess…”

“Did you find anything about Isabel?” Maria finally remembered to ask.

“No. She never went to any prison camp while we were there. She went to work in a normal looking lab. And there was no sign of anything remotely linking her to tests on aliens in her apartment.” Dave shrugged. “I assume that is why Max brought her here. We knew the lab she was working for was one of Khivar’s fronts and she had a telephone number of his office in her address book. So she has to know something.

Maria pursed her lips. All this sounded really thin to her. They had abducted Liz Parker on the basis of rumors that she was Khivar’s top scientist and the fact that she had a way to phone Khivar. This was yet another sign that Max had not been thinking clearly when he abducted her off her own planet instead of doing a more thorough investigation. “You don’t think you should have waited to find out more on earth before coming back?”

Dave hesitated, not wanting to criticize his Prince. “We probably could have, but we were worried about Khivar finding Max. The longer we stayed down there, the bigger the chances of that became. So we had to come back.”

Or Max had to hurry back to keep Liz away from whoever she was with down there, Maria mused. This was certainly interesting.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

He watched her sleep, tracing the contours of her face with his eyes. Wishing he could touch her hair, kiss her sweet, moist lips. Wishing she wasn’t who she was. Wishing things could have been so different for both of them.

What have you done to me, Liz Parker?

She rolled over, tucking her hand under her cheek, murmuring something that he couldn’t hear through the sound system linking the cell with the observation room behind the mirror.

He suddenly realized his hands were shaking and he lifted them to stare at them.

And what have I done to you?

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“I… I can’t stop kissing you.” His breath teased her mouth, still wet from his tongue. He sounded helpless. “Touching you…”

“I don’t want you to.” No! her mind screamed. Stop this! Stop this now.

“I should leave. I didn’t come here for…”

Panic seized her. “Don’t go!” Gripping his shirt in her fists.

What was wrong with her? Never in her life had she felt so desperate. So needy. If this was what she turned into around him, she was in deep trouble. She needed to be sharp, ready, not…

His warmth stole over her as he yanked her back against him, urging her body into full contact with every blessed, aroused contour of his. Staring up into his face, dark with desire, something stirred inside her and her breath stopped.

Everything seemed to shiver to a soundless halt around them.

Then she felt him shudder against her, a deep wracking shudder that consumed his whole body as he clenched his eyes shut and slowly skimmed his hands to her neck. A whimper was torn from her as his palms flattened just below her ears, his fingers sliding into her hair, cupping her head. The movement had seemed… unbidden, inevitable, instinctive.

Then his eyes opened and she knew. They were hovering on the precipice of something that would change them both forever.

“Liz?” It was torn from him.

“Yes.” The sound rushed out on a small rush of air even as her mind screamed ‘no’.

He didn’t kiss her, just stared at her with those magnificent and possessive eyes. Stared into her soul as she felt his palms heating against her neck. Felt him brand her as his.

“U Shayna Min.”


~*~*~*~*~*~*~

In one fleeting moment, Liz jerked upright with a loud gasp, Michael jumped to his feet next to her bed and, in the observation room, Maria whirled to Max.

Max, who seemed to be the only person frozen into tense stillness.

“She’s awake.”


*tbc*
Last edited by LivE on Fri Sep 24, 2004 11:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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LivE
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3+4

Post by LivE » Thu May 20, 2004 2:32 am

Chapter 3

Isabel was feeling woozy. Ever since Khivar’s men had captured her while she had joined a small resistance group on a reconnaissance mission near Houston, she had been mind raped, manhandled and carted around so much she had lost track of her own whereabouts.

What scared her more, though, was the fact that she hadn’t been able to reach Max at all. No amount of dream walking could contact him and she had to surmise that he was either too far away, or she was being blocked by something, or… he was dead.

The last option was too unbearable to think about, so she concentrated on the fact that he was out of range. Doran had worked with her on her dream walking abilities during their years together and she was pretty good at it. Her abilities hadn’t stopped Khivar’s lackey Nicholas to search all her memories, though. She had prayed Max had been gone from the camp by the time Khivar’s forces found it. But the fact remained that Khivar now knew that the next King of Antar’s earth name, was Max Evans.

She had been kept in a room for days now, just another one in a long succession of non-descript rooms, her only contact to the outside world a man named Alex. Alex who worked for Khivar. Alex who refused to talk to her and kept injecting her with stuff.

She was trapped.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Where the hell was Liz! Alex was starting to lose hope that she was still alive. She had been gone for two days now. Had Khivar somehow decided she wasn’t worth anything to him anymore? Had Liz angered Khivar in some way? He used to be so taken with her. The whole thing made no sense to Alex.

Liz had started acting strange about two weeks before she went missing. She had become distracted and Alex had not been able to establish the reason for this. Liz had assured him she was fine and he had had no option but to believe her.

But now she was gone and he was stuck with their latest experiment. And he was a little lost without Liz, as she was the one with the real expertise.

His mind turned automatically to the girl being held in the room next door. After Nicholas had been with her, extra guards were posted and he was given a serum to inject the prisoner with every day. Nicholas had not said who she was and why they were taking extra measures with her, so Alex couldn’t help but wonder what made her more special than the other humans that were processed through the lab. Damn, but she was gorgeous! In spite of the security and secrecy, he had managed to catch her name – Isabel. Keeping his mind on his work with her around was hard.

He was still hoping Liz would come back somehow, so for now, he just kept the experiment in suspension.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Complete panic made adrenaline rush through Liz as soon as her eyes snapped open. She took in her surroundings – a stark white room, a single bed she was lying on, one wall completely covered by a mirror, no windows, a big guy sitting in a chair next to her bed… She leapt off the bed, away from the tall man who had jumped up too and pressed herself against the wall opposite from the mirror.

“Who are you? Where am I?” she snapped, trying not to show her fear. Another quick glance around the room told her there was no way out but through the door. She clenched her hands into fists at her side, if she had to fight this guy, she would.

“Whoa!” Michael held out his hands. “Don’t do anything stupid.” He walked closer, secure in the fact that he was much bigger than she was. And that he had alien powers she knew nothing about.

“Don’t come near me!” Liz instructed him, a small tremble in her voice and the hand she held to ward him off the only indications that she was afraid.

“I won’t hurt you,” Michael barked at her, throwing a glare at the mirror.

From behind the mirror, Max watched anxiously, his hands pressed against the cool glass. He saw the alarmed flickering of Liz’s eyes, the way her chest heaved with fear. But she wasn’t cowering, she was standing up to Michael.

“I—I need to go home. I have to… work.” Liz wondered if she sounded as desperate as she felt. She looked at the mirror, she could feel someone watching her, causing gooseflesh on her arms. “You have to let me go.”

Michael folded his arms across his chest and shrugged. “Can’t.”

Fear threatened to close her chest. “Who are you?” she asked again.

A pause. “Michael.” It was said reluctantly, brusquely.

“Why am I here?”

“We need information you have.”

“What kind of information?”

“About Khivar’s prison camps.” Michael watched her closely, seeing the small widening of her eyes before she carefully made her face blank.

“Prison camps?” I need to stay calm. Khivar is testing me or something.

“Yes, don’t play dumb with me!” Michael raked at her angrily, causing Max to stiffen behind the mirror. “We know he has prison camps and we know you’ve worked in them.” He stalked closer, crowding Liz against the wall. “Now tell me where they are!”

This is a nightmare, Liz thought to herself. Somehow I’m suspected of betraying Khivar. Taking deep calming breaths, she straightened her shoulders. “I don’t know anything about any prison camps and if you don’t get out of my face, I’ll hit you.”

Michael grinned at this bravado, making Liz even angrier.

“This is kidnapping! If the police or Khivar finds out… and Khivar will find out, my friends will miss me—” she rubbed the invisible places beneath her ears unconsciously, “—Khivar will be very upset about this.”

Putting his hands on his hips, Michael stared at her mockingly. “Khivar can go to hell. He won’t find you here.” He leaned closer again, until he was practically nose-to-nose with Liz. “So you better start co-operating with me—”

In one blur of a movement, Liz brought her knee up, hitting Michael in the groin and darted around him towards the door.

Michael yelped in pain and doubled over, but managed to get hold of Liz’s arm, jerking her back roughly before she could reach the door.

“Michael!” It was a roar of fury over the communications system, stilling both occupants of the cell immediately.

Liz was shivering as Michael let go of her reluctantly while glaring at the mirror. Pushing her into a sitting position on the bed, he dragged the chair closer, straddling it. “Listen, we don’t want to hurt you, but if you don’t co-operate, I might have to.” He cast a quick glance at the mirror as he said this.

“Who is that?” Liz asked softly, her eyes glued to the mirror. She rubbed her palms over her arms, trying to stop the trembling that had started at the sound of the vaguely familiar voice. “Who do you work for?” Was it Khivar that was here? His voice had always done strange things to her.

“Not Khivar, that’s for sure,” Michael answered dryly, as if he had heard her thoughts.

He is lying. They are trying to test me, Liz thought frantically. She cast another look at the mirror, again wondering if Khivar was behind it, observing this whole scene. Do they have Alex too? And Mark?

Lifting her chin, she tested him back. “So you work for the resistance?”

He regarded her steadily for a few seconds. “I’m not here to answer your questions. Do you work for Khivar?”

Maria was staring at Max as Michael continued his interrogation. She wondered if Michael knew how close he had been to harm when he had yanked Liz around like that. Max had nearly gone through the mirror and, even now, his jaw was flexing in anger, his eyes trained on every little development between Liz and Michael. Michael was in for it when he leaves that cell!

Liz’s raised voice brought Maria’s attention back to the inquest. “For the last time, I do work for Khivar, but I’m only helping him with projects that would be to the benefit of humanity. I don’t know where you get your information from, but he doesn’t have any prison camps. He is trying to help us.” Liz swallowed, trying to wet her parched throat. Her heart was beating a mile a minute and her body felt feverish. “Can I get some water?” She stared at the mirror as she said this.

Something was drawing her towards that mirror like a magnet.

Getting up almost involuntarily, she walked over, stopping within touching distance of the silent gleaming surface that separated her from whoever was watching.

In response, Max jerked his hands away from the mirror, taking a small step back. She had stopped right in front of him, seemingly staring right at him. He was unaware of his labored breathing, echoing loudly through the small room… unaware that Maria was observing the whole scene with her mouth hanging open. They stood like that for long moments, frozen into stillness, only a thin sheet of glass separating them, stopping them from touching each other.

Then, Liz lifted her hand, flattening it against the mirror, causing Max to stumble back another few paces with a harsh gasp.

“What the hell are you doing?” Michael, who had been stunned into silence by Liz’s actions, got his voice back. Stalking over, he pulled Liz away from the mirror, silently promising himself that Max needed to answer a few questions. Soon.

His voice broke the spell. Turning to Maria, Max motioned to the cell. “Go in and give her whatever she needs. And get Michael out of there, she’s had enough for now.”

Ooh, Michael is not going to be happy about this! Maria thought to herself as she made her way out of the observation room silently. And Max looked ready to explode. Damn, why did I end up in the middle of this mess?

The occupants of the cell both seemed stunned at her sudden entry into the room. Maria sighed when she saw Michael’s eyebrows shoot up in irritation. He knew Max had sent her in here to tell him to stop badgering the prisoner. She planted her hands on her hips and lifted her chin, Michael Guerin’s angry glares did not intimidate Maria DeLuca. “Hello Michael,” she told him sweetly and took a moment to enjoy him bristling at her tone. “He wants to see you,” she informed Michael, tilting her head towards the door.

“I’m going to kick his ass,” Michael grumbled beneath his breath as he reluctantly started leaving.

Liz suddenly had the insane urge to burst out laughing. One moment, the big guy with the spiky hair had been scaring the living daylights out of her, and the next he was backing down before a girl that wasn’t much bigger than her. One who seemed supremely unaffected by his gruff manner and fierce frown.

Maria caught Michael’s hand as he passed her. “Stay calm, he’s…” she threw a look at Liz, “he’s… upset.” She was whispering, trying to keep Liz from hearing the warning, but she needed to tell Michael that he would have to face one very angry Prince outside.

He is pissing me off,” Michael hissed back. In compensation, he squeezed Maria’s hand before stalking out of the cell.

The girls waited until the door slid shut behind Michael, before looking at each other.

She is gorgeous, they thought simultaneously.

“Where am I?” Liz asked immediately, seeing in this girl a possible ally in a difficult situation.

All business, Maria came closer. “Sit down, I need to check you over to see if you are healthy.”

“I am healthy!” Liz snapped at her. “Please help me! They are keeping me captive here.”

“I know,” was the only response as Maria grabbed her wrist, taking her pulse.

The glimmer of hope she had harbored died slowly and Liz sunk onto the bed, fighting off tears. Come on, Liz Parker, you are strong. Don’t cry, think of a way out.

“You seem okay,” Maria announced, having completed her examination. She frowned when she saw the listless look on Liz’s face. “They won’t hurt you, you know. Just tell them what they need to know.”

Liz didn’t answer. The realization that she was alone, really alone, weighed heavily on her. If only she could get a message to Alex, maybe he could organize—

“Who is Alex?”

The question caught Liz unaware and she stared at Maria suspiciously. Could the girl read minds? Like Khivar and Nicholas? But no, they needed to touch you to be able to do it.

“I’m not answering any questions,” she said firmly.

Maria ignored her. “And Mark?”

The name brought so much feeling flooding through her, she nearly blacked out. Squeezing her eyes shut, Liz struggled to control the longing that threatened to tear her apart. Again, her hands flew to the places where he’d marked her, the invisible signs of his possession. She just managed to halt a small sound from escaping her throat.

The violence of Liz’s reaction to that name was not lost on Maria. Somehow, she suspected she had found Liz’s weak spot. But now was not the time to press. “Are you hungry? I’ll go get you some food and water.”

Blinking up at Maria in confusion, it took Liz a few moments to react to the abrupt change in topic. She managed to nod weakly.

Maria turned to the door and turned back again. “If you’d like to shower or something, I’ll see what I can do after you’ve eaten.” She paused, gazing intently at Liz. “Max wants you to be comfortable.”

“Max?” Liz said blankly.

Maria pursed her lips. “You don’t know a Max?”

“Uh…” Liz seemed even more confused. “I…” Her face cleared up. “I, uh, I think I met this guy named Max a couple of weeks ago…” She shook her head and rubbed her temple. “I don’t think I knew him well, though…” She continued to massage her temple. “Why? Is he here?”

Maria just stared at her, trying to see if she was acting.

“Could I get that water now?” Liz sounded tired, deflated.

“Sure…” Maria’s mind whirled as she exited the cell to find Max and Michael arguing a few paces away. Liz had met Max on earth, but evidently he had not made the impact on her that she had made on him. Maria felt like crying for the lonely man she had started to love like a brother.

Max was going to be devastated…


Chapter 4

A wave of dizziness crashed over Liz. Oh lord! I’m getting withdrawal symptoms! In the chaos of the past few days and especially the past few hours, Liz had forgotten about her regular injections. “I need my… medication,” she announced abruptly when Maria entered the cell to collect the dinner things. Don’t show her how desperate you are, she cautioned herself. “Do you know if they brought any of my stuff?”

Maria could only shake her head in amazement. Either this girl had no clue what it meant to be a kidnap victim, or she had somehow realized that her circumstances were special. She wondered what Liz would do if she knew that Michael’s life was in bigger danger than her own during her incarceration. Anyone with a functioning eye in their head could see that Max absolutely hated having Michael close to Liz all the time while he had to watch from behind a mirror. And that every little thing Michael does or says in this cell is going to be taken the wrong way by Max. The situation was intolerable.

Maria sighed. Of course Max had brought some of Liz’s stuff, she was sure of it. But medication? Max hadn’t mentioned that Liz was taking medication for anything. “What is it for?” she asked suspiciously.

But Liz had a ready answer. “I contracted this weird thing while working on one of my experiments. I need to inject myself with anti-bodies every four days.” Actually, it was every five, but she wasn’t taking any chances. If she wanted to get out of this in one piece, she needed to stay in control. She’d already missed her previous dosage and look what was happening!

“Hmmm,” Maria looked at her through narrowed eyes. She was a nurse and something about this did not sound right. But on the other hand, Liz Parker was little miss scientist lady and who knows what could happen in a macro-biology lab. “What will happen to you if we don’t have the medication here?”

For a horrible moment her mind went totally blank. “I get dizzy spells and…” Liz fumbled, lifting her hand to press her fingers against her throbbing temple. “Uhm… I might slip into a coma.” The last part was not true at all, but there was no way she could allow herself to go without those injections for any period of time. “Please…” she ended weakly, praying that Maria’s obviously soft heart would lead her to help.

Damn, Maria thought, yet another reason for Max to hamper the interrogation. “I’ll find out,” was all she said out loud.

“Where are we?” Now that she had some food in her body and her latest dizzy spell was over, Liz felt ready to fight for her freedom again.

“Nowhere anybody would think to look for you,” Maria answered with an ironic grin.

There was a slight hum around her all the time, and Liz was starting to wonder if she was in some underground facility of Khivar’s. Could it be possible that he’s managed to keep one of his camps secret from her? But why would he do that? Surely she’s shown him that she could be trusted.

Liz had pondered her situation ever since Maria had left her to fix dinner and she had come up with no real solutions other than a renewed affirmation that she needed to contact Alex somehow to let him know where she was. He was probably frantic! The other part of her plan was to make sure that she passed this test of Khivar’s with flying colors. And for that she needed her injections.

And she needed to stay calm. Very, very calm.

If only the incessant feeling that she was being watched from behind the mirror would go away. Whenever she sensed she was being watched, her whole body seemed to vibrate and it was as if she could physically feel the intense regard of the person observing her from behind the smooth glass. Not a person, someone specific. How she knew that, was beyond her, but she was somehow sure that whoever he was, he was someone important. Important to me. The thought scared and excited her at the same time.

Maybe it was… Lifting her hands to the brands on her neck, she suddenly blanked out again. Who put these here again? The name was just gone. No, wait! Mark! Yes, that was his name. Wasn’t it? She hoped this weird feeling wasn’t another side-effect of the withdrawal symptoms she hadn’t bargained on.

“Hello!” Maria’s amused voice interrupted her disjointed thoughts. “Are ya still in there?” She waved at Liz’s head. “Or should we inject you for lucidity?”

“This is not funny!” Liz cried, panicked at the incoherence of her memories. “I really need those injections!”

“Okay, okay.” Maria held up her hands in surrender, looking slightly alarmed. “Don’t yell so loudly, you’ll bring Max bearing down on me!”

There was that name again. Max. She shivered involuntarily. He seemed to wield a lot of power around here and for some reason everyone believed he had her best interests at heart. Concentrating, she was able to conjure up a vague image of a tall dark-haired man. He raised his hands towards her and she jerked in a breath. What on earth was happening to her? Had they drugged her food? Inhaling deeply, trying to calm herself down, she did a quick scan. No, she was feeling fine. Apart from the memory mess.

Maria was watching her with an odd expression.

Tossing her hair back, Liz managed to sound controlled. “Well, looks like I should speak to Max then. I want to see him. I need to tell him that I know nothing you seem to want to know. He should let me go.”

I don’t think Max is letting you go ever again, Maria thought, amazed at how Liz’s eyes sparkled with emotions. She really had the most amazing eyes, huge and dark and memorable. Her hair fell in a shimmering chocolate waterfall down her back. Our poor alien Prince had no chance. The worst is, she is completely oblivious to her power over the heir to the throne of an entire other planet. Maria resolved to tell Max as soon as possible. He would be incredibly hurt, but better now than later when he had gotten even more attached to the tiny brunette.

“He doesn’t want to see you. So I’m afraid you’re stuck with me and Space B— me and Michael.” The words had come out harsher than Maria had intended, but she was already anticipating the look of anguish she knew she was going to see on Max’s face. “I’ll go see about those injections and a shower for you.”

She left Liz staring after her open-mouthed, wondering why Maria had suddenly turned almost hostile.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Max was standing in front of a big window in the dining area, staring into the vast darkness that surrounded the ship. His stiff shoulders and fisted hands were the only clues to the emotions that were churning around inside him.

Watching him quietly for a few moments, Maria felt an unaccustomed bout of weepiness assail her. She blinked the moisture from her eyes angrily. For pity’s sake, she was Maria DeLuca who did not cry! Not when her father left them for a cheap floozy when she was little. Not when her mother had disappeared after being vocally opposed to Khivar. Not when she had to leave all she knew behind to follow a strange man… a strange alien, who had made her fall in love with him in spite of the fact that he irritated the crap out of her sometimes.

But now she felt sad for Max. And she wanted to kick Liz’s ass. How could Liz not fall for this amazing guy? How could she not return his affections? And the worst thing ever, how could she not even remember she met Max? The anger drove the tears from her eyes and Maria strode forward determinedly. “Max?”

He didn’t react immediately, lost in whatever thoughts were putting that frown on his face.

“Max.” She tried a little louder.

His voice held immeasurable weariness when he answered. “Yeah?”

“We…” Suddenly the thought of breaking his heart did not sit well with Maria. “We need to talk,” she informed him softly. It was still better that he found out from someone who cared.

“Look,” he thrust his hands through his hair, “I’m sorry I blew up at Michael like that. I just don’t like…” He trailed off. “How is she?”

If she hadn’t come over here with such bad news, Maria would have rolled her eyes in exasperation. There was obviously only one thing on Max’s mind lately. “She claims she needs her medication.”

Max’s frown returned full force. “Medication?”

“Yeah. Injections of some kind. Do you know anything about it?”

Shaking his head slowly, Max tried to remember if he ever saw her injecting herself. He didn’t. She had injected Alex, though. “What is it for?”

“She claims to have contracted something during one of her experiments.” Maria made sure that Max knew she highly doubted the validity of Liz’s statements. “Said she gets dizzy spells if she doesn’t get the injections every four days.”

Only a slight widening of Max’s eyes gave his shock away.

“Anyway,” Maria wanted to get off this subject as quickly as she could, “did you bring anything that looked like medication with you?”

“No…” Max was trying hard not to worry. Had he put Liz’s life in danger in a way he hadn’t even contemplated by bringing her here?

“Okay.” Maria didn’t look overly concerned. “I’ll tell her.”

Max looked at her suspiciously. “You don’t like her.” It was a flat statement, but Maria caught the slight note of disappointment.

It was now or never.

“She doesn’t remember you, Max.” It was blurted out. There was no way to make this sound better.

He froze, standing utterly still as he stared at her in incomprehension. “No…” It was whispered so softly that Maria had to strain to hear.

“I’m sorry,” she offered lamely, looking away from the stark hurt in his eyes. “She’s obviously involved with some Mark guy that—” She halted as Max jerkily lifted his trembling hands and stared at them. “Max?”

“That’s impossible.” He seemed dazed.

“It’s true. And… you have to deal with it before you meet her again.”

“No.” He shook his head. “No.”

His reaction was starting to freak Maria out. She had expected him to be hurt, but this… Max seemed totally in denial. “Why are you so sure?”

Because, Maria…” He dropped his hands, looking at a loss.

“Well, because is not a good en—”

“I did something to her.” He sounded bitter. “Something weird… something alien. I didn’t plan… I never meant…” His distress was spiking.

“Calm down, Space King! She seems plenty fine to me.” Maria rubbed her hand over his arm, finding the muscles stretched tightly in agitation. “Was she aware of… what you did?”

“Yes.” The affirmation tumbled out on a harsh breath.

“Then I don’t get why she doesn’t remember you. And who the hell is Mark?”

“That’s what I’d like to know.” He sounded so grim and… possessive that Maria hoped poor Mark was on another planet in another galaxy.

She folded her arms across her chest, filled with confusion. If what Max said was true, what on earth was going on with the girl in the cell? “Something weird is up with that girl, Max. Even more weird than what you apparently believe you did to her.” She paused for a beat. “What did you do to her?”

He turned away from her immediately, not answering.

Oh-kay, Maria thought, that is a no-go zone. And still she was no closer to the whole truth about Max and Liz.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Liz drifted in the sleepy haze that preceded the dream world. She had taken a shower after being led blindfolded from her cell to what was obviously Maria’s bathroom. A bathroom she seemed to share with a man. For a wild moment, Liz had experienced a sharp stab of jealousy, wondering if that man was Max. Then she caught herself. Why did she care what Max did? She hardly knew him… didn’t she? No matter how hard she concentrated, his visage remained blurred in her mind.

The shower had revived her some, but her memory had kept doing strange things. As she had stood under the warm spray, she had suddenly remembered heated hands smoothing over her body, memorizing the slim lines of her form. She had remembered someone saying her name with so much need that she had had to lean against the side of the shower drunkenly to recover. His name had been lost to her just then. It was only after she had gotten back to her cell and the moment of intense recollection had been over, that she could find the name again. Mark. But now the name seemed hazy, somehow not fitting to the memory.

She tried picturing Mark, but that didn’t go too well either. His eyes, once so vivid in her mind, kept changing color. From intense blue to the deepest amber. The effort just increased her bewilderment.

With sleep came another dream.

Her lips felt swollen, kissed into a fullness that she’s never
experienced before. Lifting her trembling fingers, she touched her mouth softly, meeting his gentle eyes bemusedly.

“Oh God, Liz, I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have… mauled you like that. I don’t know what came over—”

She halted his apology with her fingers, transferring them from her own mouth to his. He shut up immediately, his eyes darkening with renewed desire. “I’m not sorry.” She had moved closer, wanting more of his taste. Who
are you?” she whispered. “Who are you really?”

The question had an amazing effect on him. His whole face shuttered in an instant and he stepped back from her. “We shouldn’t be doing this.” He was fighting with himself, she could see that so clearly.

“Why not?”


Even as the question echoed in her mind, her dream changed.

“Do you know how much torture it is? Seeing you here?” From somewhere in the darkness the voice slid over her skin like the softest silk. Her whole body reacted to the voice and she pirouetted towards it, attracted to the source like a moth to a flame.

“I can’t see you.” She hardly recognized her own voice, so filled with desperation. “Please.”

Arms enfolded her from behind and she knew the hard body pressed against her instantly. Sighing, she melted back into him, folding her arms over his and entwining their fingers. “I missed you.”

“You did?” It was breathed into her ear just before his tongue traced the tiny whorls.

She heard herself whimper in helpless reaction. This man held absolute power over her, she recognized. And she had given it to him willingly.

“Of all the women in the universe…” he muttered against her skin, trailing soft kisses from her ear to her shoulder, pausing to lick the place where he’d marked her. The resulting heat that shot through her body stopped her breath momentarily.

Flattening his palms over her stomach, he pulled her into him tighter, letting her feel his arousal, letting her experience every labored breath he took.

“This is insane.”

“Yes,” she agreed on a gasp. It was insane and she didn’t care. For the first time in her life, Ms Liz-gotta-have-a-plan Parker had no clue where something was leading and didn’t care.

“Stay with me,” she begged, clinging to his strong arms shamelessly. “I need you.”

A sharp inhalation was his only answer.

Then he spun her around and before she could get a clear view of him, his lips were on hers, his hands cupping the places where he’d stamped his ownership on her. The kiss spiraled through her, sending sparks of flame traveling to the farthest parts of her body before they rushed back to pool in the center of her being. She arched closer to him, trying to get inside his skin as she tasted him over and over again. His tongue had parted her lips and was dancing with hers, delving deeper and deeper as the kiss continued. He held her face as if she was the biggest treasure he’d ever touched.

Her moan changed everything. He tore his mouth from hers and buried his face in her neck, nipping at the skin with his teeth. As she threw her head back in ecstasy, he lifted her up with one arm curled around her waist and she instinctively wrapped her legs around him. The sudden contact between her moist warmth and his hardness made them both groan and he slid his other hand down, cupping her bottom and pressing her even closer.

“I want to stay like this forever,” she told him fiercely. “Forever with you…”

Lifting her heavy eyelids, she suddenly spied two dark figures coming up behind him and fear ripped through her with sharp claws. “NO!” she screamed as she recognized the two men. “Nooo…” The word had turned into a wail of anguish.


As she thrashed around on the bed, her cries echoing through the sound system, Max jerked his hand away from where it had been pressed to the mirror. What the hell had he done now?

Her arms were abruptly empty, but the two figures kept advancing on her.

They must never find him, Liz thought frantically, I have to concentrate.


Her agitated whisper sounded loud in the quiet cell and stunned Max even further. “His name is Mark, his name is Mark, his name is…”

Liz came awake with the sound of her own voice ringing in her ears. Blinking in amazement, she found the cell bathed in the dull glow of a shimmering silver handprint on the mirror. As it slowly disappeared from the dark surface, she realized with a gasp that there was another softer glow in the cell. And it came from her neck…


tbc

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LivE
Addicted Roswellian
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Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2001 4:58 pm
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5+6

Post by LivE » Fri May 28, 2004 3:34 am

Chapter 5

The morning began really badly. Michael was stalking around in anger about what he termed Max’s obsession with Liz and interspersed this with complaints that the obsession was resulting in Max ignoring the urgency of their search for Isabel. While Michael counted every second that passed with Isabel still missing, Max held to his position that they will not get anything from their prisoner by force.

It was not a good time to be difficult with Max either. He had obviously not slept well. In fact, he looked downright miserable. His normally beautiful amber eyes were bloodshot and his dark hair stood on end, like he had been running his hands through it for hours. Something had obviously happened last night.

Two guesses who would have been part of that event, Maria thought. Geez, if she were insecure she would surely have had issues with the fact that everything on the ship now revolved around their female prisoner.

She sighed as she watched the two men, sitting on opposite sides of the breakfast table, not speaking to each other. “Okay, guys, can we not find some solution to this? Isabel is very important to both of you.”

“Hmpf,” Michael snorted in derision, “apparently not.”

“Michael.” Max’s voice made it clear that he was in no mood for this.

Patting Michael’s hand to shut him up, Maria turned to Max. “Max, honey, I have to say that I agree with Space Boy here for a change. We cannot keep coddling Liz for days on end while Isabel might be getting tortured in some prison camp.” She held up a hand when Max opened his mouth to object. “I’m not saying you don’t care about your sister, I’m just saying Liz knows things that we need to know, and you have to allow Michael to get it out of her.” After pausing for a breath, she continued, now talking to Max’s bent head. “Things have happened between you and this Liz. Things that might help us find Isabel. So, either you’re going to have to talk to her yourself—”

“No!” The vehemence of the denial took Maria by surprise.

Michael exploded immediately. “Do you, or do you not want your sister safe, Your Highness?” The last term came out very sarcastically. No one ever used Max’s official title around the ship, but Michael wanted to emphasize that Max was the one in charge. And the one responsible for any screw-ups.

“Of course I want her safe! It’s just that…”

“You don’t want your little girlfriend hurt in the process.”

The two men were back to glaring at each other. Rolling her eyes, Maria admitted that this was getting them nowhere.

“So, here’s my proposal. Max, you let Michael work with Liz today on his own terms. And...” she practically yelled over Max’s protestations, “and if that doesn’t work, we do things your way.”

A heavy silence descended over the table after the speech.

Max knew they were right. What kind of brother was he that he allowed a fixation on a girl he hardly knew to override his common sense and his goal to find a precious sister? To find the one, the only, person who had shared his life, his secret and all that he was until now?

Unfortunately, there was an answer to this question. That girl – the girl who had seemed to sense his presence last night when he couldn’t stand not being close to her anymore and stupidly went to the observation room – that girl held him in the palm of her hand. And suddenly, everyone else had taken a second place to her. He wanted Liz safe and happy. He wanted her not to have to face the horror of the war between the two Antarian foes. He wanted to be able to turn back the clock so he could undo what he had done to her in the heat of passion…

But most of all, he wanted to undo what his heart, his mind, his soul felt for Liz Parker. It scared him. It scared him so much that if it hadn’t been for Isabel being trapped on earth, he would have run like a coward. He had spent his life alone so far, figuring that he would have to wait until he was back on Antar before he could ever allow himself to love someone. Never in a million years had he expected that fate had decreed he would fall in love within two weeks. And not just fall in love, but bind himself to someone so completely it seemed he would never be a whole person without her again. And that fate had had a sick sense of humor. Liz was human. And she worked for his enemy.

Moreover, it seemed she didn’t quite feel the same way, he admitted, feeling his heart wrench in his chest. How is it possible that she could belong to someone else? Who was this Mark? He shook his head, trying to rid himself of the image of Liz in the arms of some other man, kissing, touching, loving…

Without thinking, he jumped up from the table, nearly upending his chair in the process. He needed to get away from these thoughts, these images that hounded him even in his sleep.

“Maxwell, are we disturbing you?” Michael’s mocking voice jerked him back to reality. “I apologize for interrupting whatever discussion you were having with yourself, but we need an answer.”

Staring down at his two best friends, he realized he was being the worst leader possible. He felt humbled by the fact that even while they disagreed with him, Michael and Maria were still loyal and would accept his decision either way. And he realized that in this, he couldn’t let his heart rule. “Do it,” he stated firmly. And I will be as far away from that cell as I can possibly get on this ship.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Combing her long blonde hair with her fingers, Isabel cursed the fact that she couldn’t take the chance to use her powers to do something about her appearance. There was no way she was going to bring more attention to herself by fixing her make-up and hair with the wave of her hand. But oh, how she longed to feel glamorous again!

Her room was quite comfortable, and if only Alex would stick around to talk to her, she would feel more or less okay. She hadn’t seen another living soul around since Alex had moved her to this room, and she had to wonder why that was. Surely Nicholas had realized who she was after mind-raping her? Surely Khivar now knew she was one of the two Antarian Royals they were searching for so desperately. Then why hadn’t Khivar come to gloat yet? And where was Max? She hadn’t been able to reach him yet, but she had to believe that he was searching for her.

The more she thought about her position, the more confused she became. Somehow, this was not what she had expected of an incarceration at the hands of Khivar.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Looking at the row of injection dosages that lined the locked cabinet in the lab, Alex wondered for the hundredth time where Liz was. She would be getting withdrawal symptoms by now. She had missed her last shot and she’s been missing for three days now.

Switching on his computer, he stared at the blinking cursor for a long time. It looked like he would have to continue with the work alone for now. He refused to believe that Liz was gone forever, so he would do what needs to be done in the meantime.

The lab was very quiet, there hadn’t been anyone else around here since Nicholas had arrived two days to ‘look over’ their latest prisoner again. And found that things had gone seriously wrong at the lab. Strangely enough Khivar hasn’t been here yet to find out where Liz was. Nicholas must have reported her absence by now, and Khivar was very possessive of Liz. Alex could recount several times during the two years they’d been working for Khivar, when he had observed the big alien hovering over Liz, watching her with those intense blue eyes of his, hanging on her every word. And Liz had flirted back. Yes, Alex had no doubts that Khivar had a personal interest in Liz Parker.

Typing in a file name, he rolled his shoulders and got down to business. Liz was counting on him.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Groaning, Liz managed to push herself upright on the bed. What a night! First she had had another of those intense dreams about... IWhy can I not remember that name lately? I need those injections! Then the dream had abruptly gained a new and strange twist. Touching her hands to her neck, she stared at a spot on the mirror. Surely she was losing her mind. Khivar and his aliens had never left glowing handprints anywhere, so there was no that way what she saw last night could have been anything but part of her dreams.

As if the handprint on the mirror had not been enough, she had also dreamt that her neck had started glowing! With a harsh laugh, Liz got up and walked over to the mirror. There was no mark on its smooth surface to indicate the glowing print had been there. Lifting her eyes, she tucked her hair behind her ears, tilting her head first to one side and then to the other. Her skin was flawless as always. There was still no visible sign of the branding she may or may not have experienced last week.

This was one more reason she needed to get back to Alex desperately. They had not foreseen this side-effect. She was having delusions and now she couldn’t remember what was real or not from her past. Strangely some things were clear as day – her meetings with Khivar and Nicholas for one – while other things were like phantoms dancing at the edge of her consciousness, always just out of her grasp.

Moving back to the bed, she sank down on the tousled sheets, chewing her bottom-lip. There had been a man. Someone she had kissed and loved. The intensity of her reaction whenever she thought back to those moments in his arms convinced her of that. However, had she dreamed the whole marking of her neck part? How come there was nothing on her skin where he had branded her? Why—

The sudden opening of the door brought her head around with a jolt. Michael strode inside, but her eyes went past him, drawn irresistibly to the man striding away from the door down the hallway. Her heart slammed to a halt in her chest and a violent trembling spiraled outwards from deep inside her.

Oh my God...

She was already moving forward when the door slid shut in front of her, barring her view of the dark hair and strong shoulders.

Then Michael caught her arm. “Hey. Sit down, the games are over.”

“But I need...” Him, I need him. Her eyes stayed glued to the closed door.

“I don’t care, little girl. Sit down.”

He wasn’t yelling at her, but she understood immediately. Whatever had kept him from being tough with her yesterday has been removed.

Tilting her chin defiantly, she looked squarely at him. You can’t break me, she told him silently.

For a fleeting moment she saw respect in his eyes, and then he got down to business.

“I get the impression that you think we work for Khivar. We don’t. This is no test, but very serious business to us.” He paused, gauging her reaction. “I can see you don’t believe me.” He shrugged. “I don’t care. Tell me the truth and this will all be over.”

Liz remained mute, determined not to say anything.

“We know you work for Khivar. We know he removes people from society that don’t agree with his actions. We know you work in a lab that serves as a front for experiments he does on these prisoners.”

“If you know so much, why are you still keeping me around? See if you can prove any of that! People will never believe you.”

“I really don’t care about that either,” Michael stated casually, stunning Liz. “For right now, all I need to know is whether you know the whereabouts of a girl by the name of Isabel Evans.”

Before she could hide her reaction, her shock had registered on her face. This was about Isabel?

“Aha,” Michael’s voice was smug. “I see we’re finally getting somewhere. So you have seen her?”

“I—I met her a few weeks ago. She came to the lab.” Liz took a deep breath. “But I haven’t seen her since.” Keep bluffing.

“That’s a lie!” Michael roared in reaction. “Khivar has kidnapped her and I want to know where she is! Tell me!”

“I don’t know!” she yelled back. “I don’t know about any kidnapping and I certainly don’t know what happened to her after she left the lab that day.” Folding her arms, she turned away from Michael angrily. There was no way she was going to let some oaf—

She saw the bolt of light leave his hand in the reflection in the mirror a fraction of a second before a loud clap sounded next to her head, leaving a black mark on the wall. Spinning around she stared at Michael, who still had his hand raised and aimed at her, in shock.

“Yes, little girl, don’t play with me. I can really hurt you if I want to.”

Liz was beyond rational thought for the moment. This man was an alien! She had just always assumed he was human, that he was just one of Khivar’s dirty workers. But Khivar had obviously sent one of his alien soldiers after her!

This time, Liz trembled in fear. She was standing in front of an alien… without the protection of her injections.

“Why don’t you just mind rape me then?”

The question disconcerted Michael momentarily before he recovered. “That’s Khivar’s way of doing things. Tell me where Isabel is, or this time, I won’t miss.”

Staring at him, fighting down unbidden tears, Liz scrambled to find some sense in what was happening. Was Michael lying about working for Khivar? If he wasn’t, who was he? One of those other aliens – Khivar’s enemies? This was a nightmare.

Michael crowded close to her menacingly. “Where is Isabel?”

The tears won the battle. “Why do you want her?” she croaked.

“She means a lot to us. We want her back and safe from your wonderful boss. Where is she?” The last part was hissed right into her face. “Tell me!”

Her desperate attempt to turn her face away was thwarted when he threaded his fingers through her hair and forced her eyes back to his. “Last chance, little girl…”

Tears streaming down her face, scared and utterly defeated, Liz’s muddled mind came up with only one thing. “I need Max. Please…” She hardly heard her own words, so softly did she whisper them. A sharp pain sliced through her temples.

Michael’s head snapped back as if she had slapped him. “I thought you said you didn’t know Max.”

“U Shayna Min.”

On the other side of the ship, Max had jerked into silence while talking to some of his soldiers, a visible shiver running through his body.

“What did you say?” Michael had stumbled backwards and looked like he had been broadsided by an oil tanker. Liz hadn’t even realized she had spoken out loud.

What did you say?” Michael demanded again, rushing closer to grab hold of her upper arms.

“N—nothing.” Liz was scared, where had those words come from? She remembered them, remembered that they were important. But why did she remember them now?

“No, I heard you! You said U Shayna Min. Where did you learn that?”

“Why? What does it mean?” Even in her confused state, through the battle of trying to distinguish between real memories, dreams and delusions, she knew he didn’t need to tell her. She knew exactly what those words meant.

The pain in her temples got worse, then blissfully receded.

A tall raven-haired man had whispered it to her while he had branded her. You belong to me, he had said in a strange language she had understood regardless.

His name had been… “Max…”

And she suddenly feared that it had not all been a dream.


Chapter 6

Images were rushing at her from all angles, leaving Liz limp, battered beneath their mental attack. Michael had stormed out of the cell after her incoherent ramblings, leaving Liz standing in a daze. An uncontrollable shivering had taken over her body, increasing in intensity until her teeth had chattered. She had eventually run to the door, pressing herself against it, making sure that when it opened she would know. She had listened to the tortured sounds of her own breathing and the frantic beat of her heart for what felt like hours, waiting… Waiting for him.

He was here, wherever here was, she just knew it. She felt it. All those times she had been aware of someone watching her from behind the mirror, he had been there. Somehow, the thought gave her no solace. He was here, but he was staying away from her.

Her whole world had been turned upside down in one shocking moment.

She did know Max. His name was branded in her mind, carrying with it so much emotion she had trouble acknowledging that she could ever have forgotten it.

The injections must have scrambled her brain completely. She had no idea how to differentiate between what was real and what not from her memories. Short, staccato pains in her head seemed to be the only sign that her memory was returning in full force. Suddenly the pain in her temples when Maria had talked about Max made so much more sense.

Max... She sank to the floor, her back sliding down against the door, with a small hiccuping sob. When she thought of him, it felt like a huge hand was squeezing her throat until she could barely breathe. His image was still blurry, but suddenly she remembered other things – the need and longing she had seen reflected in those golden eyes, how soft his hair had felt sliding through her fingers, the strength of his arms when he held her, the honeyed tones of his voice when he whispered to her. She remembered how desperately he had kissed her the last time they’d been together. The night before she was kidnapped…

But most of all she remembered how he had made her feel. Like the most beautiful girl in the world. Like she would stop breathing if he ever left her. That she belonged in his arms until forever was over. Like she was... complete.

Other things were coming back too, but the images were fractured, disjointed, increasing her confusion. Khivar marking her, his hand behind her head, burning something into her brain, telling her that he did that to all his loyal subjects so he could trace them if the enemy got hold of them. Alex, bent over his computer, typing furiously. Her parents, still in living in Boston in the house where she grew up. The lab in Carlsbad, where she worked with Alex. Running through a dark corridor, dragging someone behind her… Cold, intense blue eyes watching her every move as she worked in the lab.
Drawing her knees up against her chest, she wrapped her arms around her legs, hugging them tightly to her. Maybe she could keep herself from breaking apart into little bits by sheer will. It felt like her heart was shattering in her chest, that, if she allowed herself to make a sound, she would howl in pain. Nothing in her life made sense right now.

You belong to me. Deep, soul-stirring kisses that heated her from the inside out. [/i]U Shayna Min.[/i] Feeling like she was part of him. My name is Max. Hands holding her like they knew every inch of her already. You are Mine. Ignoring her fear that he was a spy for Khivar. Yes...

What had she done? What had she allowed this man to do to her? But worst of all, why did she now feel like she had been abandoned?

Why won’t he come to me? Is he an... alien too? Did he just... use me to— Oh God!

For the first time in many years, Liz Parker cried. Great, racking sobs escaped her as she tried to come to terms with what has happened to her in the past few days. It felt like a two-ton rock was resting on her chest, slowly squeezing the life from her body. She desperately wished she could sink into oblivion, away from this awful ache in her heart, the emptiness in her soul, this irrational longing for someone... something she shouldn’t be with.

Because, no matter what her heart was aching for, there was no way she could be with an alien… could she?

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Leave him be, Michael.” The command was soft, but it halted Michael in his tracks. Only Doran, the protector of the Royal Twins for many years, could exert such influence. Over Doran’s shoulder Michael could see Max sitting slumped in his office, his head in his hands.

In spite of Max’s obvious distress, anger suffused Michael all over again. “I want to know what the hell he thought he was doing, getting himself bound to a human girl who works for Khivar.” Somehow Michael had managed not to shout at the tall blonde man who barred the door.

Doran glanced over his shoulder uncertainly at his Prince. He had seen Max and Isabel grow up in front of his eyes. He had been there when they came out of the pods and when the Antarian Royal Family’s Advisor handed them over to the Evans family. He was there when they took their first steps and when they started using their powers. He knew exactly what either of them was capable of. He trained them and taught them. They were like his own children. And he had made a huge mistake by not teaching them earlier about the mating ways of their race. It had just never seemed necessary. Isabel had dated a few guys superficially and Max had never had any relationship. Then Khivar had arrived on earth, upsetting everything, and the importance of finding a mate, the right mate, for these two had plummeted even lower.

So Doran had been flummoxed when Max had asked a few minutes ago about the Antarian bonding ritual. Max had had no idea what he had done to this Liz Parker. That he had bound the two of them together more surely than he could ever imagine.

“How could this have happened?” Max had cried in despair. “How can our race create bonds as a result of something we do in a moment of passion?”

“Just lusting after each other won’t end in a mating. You both would have had to make a commitment towards a life together, Max.” Doran had still been reeling about the fact that a human girl had gotten linked with their future king like this. This was something they had truly not foreseen. “You both would have had to want to share the rest of your lives with each other. Did you ask her for such a commitment? And did she agree?”

With tightly closed eyes, Max had relived that moment that had changed his life. He had held her so closely, afraid that she would disappear if he let go even an inch. Liz? It had been more than a question of wanting her right then. He had instinctively known what it was that he had been asking of her: be mine from now on. Yes. He remembered how that one small whisper from her had reverberated through him like the primal beat of a drum, how it had energized his body, gathering together all that was human and alien inside him until it had seemed to flow from his palms to her, branding her without leaving a mark. “U Shayna Min.” How had he known to say specifically those words? You belong to me. How had he known she had said yes to more than a roll in the hay? He couldn’t really say. He just knew.

“Antarian matings are the result of a combination of things that differ from couple to couple. You need to share a mutual wish to bond, you need to want to make a lifetime commitment towards each other, desire each other…” Doran had looked at him intently. “Why her, Max?”

“It felt like I had found the other half of my soul.” Max had answered without thinking, startling his mentor. “I saw her and I... knew her.” The full impact of what he had done had hit him then, driving him into the chair behind his desk. In addition to the implications for him and his people, he was not sure that Liz had really meant to bind herself to an alien for life. He had taken her ‘yes’ at face value, even though she’d said it without knowing all the facts. Would she hate him for it now?

He had done the girl of his heart, and everyone around him, a huge disfavor and now he had to face Michael.

“It’s okay, Doran,” Max said, coming to his feet slowly. “I need to talk to Michael about this, he is right.”

Michael stormed past Doran immediately. “What were you thinking, Maxwell?” he yelled. “Or maybe that’s the problem – you weren’t thinking. You were just reacting to your hormones. Is that it?”

“I don’t know what happened. I hadn’t meant…” But that was the problem, he had meant. He had instinctively wanted to bind Liz to him so that no other man could ever have her.

Michael gaped at Max. “That’s all you’re going to say?” He planted his hands on his hips. “You bind some human girl, who works for our enemy no less, to you and all you can say is ‘you don’t know’ why you did it?”

Max looked away from his second-in-command. How could he explain that it had taken him one look, one time hearing that wonderful husky laugh of hers, to know that he wanted this girl in his life? That it took him all of a few days to stop caring that Liz Parker was all the things Michael just called her and more. That nothing had mattered but that she stayed with him, become part of him. How could he make Michael understand that his heart and mind were at constant war over this girl? That even now his heart was calling for him to go to her and stay with her, that there was no way she could be involved with the terrible experiments Khivar was reportedly doing on humans, while his mind yelled at him that she was the enemy and shouldn’t be allowed close to him at any cost.

“Can you believe this?” Michael whirled towards the silent Doran, still hovering in the doorway. When he received no answer, he swung back to Max. “You might as well have given us all over to Khivar, because if he ever gets his hands on her, he could find everything he needs to know about you in her mind. Everything!

“I’m not letting him get his hands on her again.” No way in hell, Max thought. “Even if I have to keep her locked up on this ship for the rest of her life, no one will get near her again.”

Michael just got angrier. “Do you listen to yourself? This… girl has you tied up in so many knots you are useless to us! Isabel is in some camp and all you care about is this Liz Parker!”

“Michael!” Doran interjected. “You are talking to your—”

“He’s right, Doran.” Max waved his hand to silence his mentor. “Is…” the words stuck in his throat, “is there any way to undo what I did to Liz?” He couldn’t quite meet Doran’s eyes, it felt like he was betraying Liz somehow by asking this question.

The thundering silence made him lift his eyes to the two other men. Michael was looking at him speculatively, and Doran looked uncomfortable. “Well?” God, why did he feel that stabbing pain in his heart at the thought of severing the link he had created with Liz in a moment of pure instinct?

“I—I don’t think it’s ever been done before, Max.” Doran didn’t meet his gaze. “I’ll have to study the historic texts.”

“You’re kidding me.” Michael sounded dismayed.

Doran was still staring at the floor as he shook his head.

“Well, that’s it, Maxwell, you’re not going near that girl until we’ve figured out a way to fix this mess.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Are you alright?” Maria cried in alarm as she rushed into the cell. She had come to the observation room to see if Michael had made any progress that would help them locate Isabel. But she had found Michael missing and Liz lying curled up on the floor, silent tears streaking down her face. “Max is gonna kill him! What did he do to you?”

Gathering the tiny brunette up, she helped Liz to the bed. When she went to leave, Liz clung to her hand. “Please stay... Tell me about... about Isabel.” The small pause piqued Maria’s interest. “You don’t really work for Khivar, do you?” Liz surprised her further by asking.

Maria stared at her, seeing the honest need for the truth reflected in those doe eyes that had ensnared Max. “No, we are the people Khivar wants to kill. Khivar distorted the story he told our governments on earth. He is the one trying to usurp power on Antar. He is trying to win a war against the Royal House of Antar.”

“Then why is he on earth?”

“Because the Prince and Princess of Antar had been hidden on earth to be safe from the war on their own planet. He is prepared to take over a whole planet to find two people, Liz. That should tell you something about how ruthless he is. You must have seen what he is capable of!” Taking a deep breath, Maria tried to calm down. Liz seemed ready to talk and shouting at her won’t help their cause. “Do you really work for Khivar? I mean, work for him?”

A numbness had settled around Liz’s heart. She had so much to still do on earth, for earth, but without... him it all seemed to matter less. She was so tired, but she needed to know about Isabel. “So where does Isabel fit into this?”

Deciding to leave the issue of Liz’s loyalties alone for the moment, Maria told Liz what she knew Khivar would know by now. “Isabel is the Princess of Antar. If you know anything that can help us, you must please tell us. Khivar wants to use her to get the upper hand on Antar.”

“Does she have powers? Like Khivar and Nicholas?”

“Eeeww, no.” Maria shuddered. “Khivar and Nicholas are what is called ‘Skins’. They wear human husks, they can’t survive in earth’s atmosphere in their original form. They come from a violent race, so all their powers are… intrusive is the best term, I guess. Actual Antarians can’t rape your mind against your will or make you see things that aren’t there. Isabel can dream walk – she can see what people dream.”

Maria had Liz’s full attention now. “And are you an Antarian?”

“Me?” Maria burst out laughing. “No!” She waved her hands dismissively in the air. “I am but a lowly human girl in love with an Antarian soldier.” She jerked her thumb across her shoulder. “Space Boy... Michael... he’s my significant other.”

The concept amazed Liz. “You are in love with an…”

“Alien. Yeah, I know. Wild, isn’t it?”

“Why? How? I mean…”

“Don’t ask me why I fell in love with that big oaf. I just did. Got him right where I want him too.” The sadness in Liz’s eyes stopped her.

“I—I lied before. I do know Max.” The pain in her temples reappeared briefly, but Liz ignored it this time. Her need to find out about Max was overriding everything else. “Could you tell me about him?”

Whoa, this could be dangerous! Maria wondered what she could tell Liz. What if this was just some ploy to spy for Khivar. “Why do you ask?”

“I…” Liz looked away, letting her long hair slide forward to hide her face. “Something happened between us, something I don’t understand. Why is he staying away from me?”

The sorrow evident in the last question won Maria over. “You’re in love with Max, aren’t you?”

“I don’t know him well enough to be.” But her hands were shaking as she said this.

“His name is Max Evans. He grew up on earth.”

“Is he an a— Is he from Antar too?”

“Yes, chica. He is the Prince of Antar.”

A vice abruptly clamped around Liz’s heart. Max and Isabel Evans. Beautiful, blonde, stunning Isabel Evans. The Prince and Princess of Antar. Oh God. “Does he... love her? Isabel?”

“Sure he does! That’s why you’re here remember – to help us... him, find Isabel.” Maria was oblivious to the tears that had gathered in Liz’s eyes. “You will help us right?” She rubbed her hands together gleefully. “Michael is going to be so mad that I got you to agree and he failed! And we can be friends now, I so miss having a girl friend to talk—” The mark of Michael’s power blast on the wall halted her flood of words. “Oh my God! That idiot! Max will have a cow! Michael didn’t hurt you, did he?”

“No.” But Max did. He hurt me so much more than a physical blow could.

“You’re crying!” Maria exclaimed. “Don’t cry! If you get upset, Max gets upset and then we all live in hell. What is wrong?”

“Nothing. I’ll help you. Will you let me leave if I help you?”

Maria’s mouth fell open. “You would want to leave?”

“Yes, as soon as possible.” I need to get as far away from this... alien prince who just used me as a means to an end. Who lied to make me feel special. What was I thinking anyway? I can’t get involved with an alien! This is totally against... “That’s the deal. I’ll give Max his Isabel, and then you let me leave.”

tbc

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LivE
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7+8

Post by LivE » Thu Jun 03, 2004 11:42 am

Chapter 7

“Hello out there!” Isabel banged against the door of the room she had spent the last 48 hours in. She was feeling decidedly grungy by now and wanted a shower... or something. Even Khivar should recognize that she was a Princess and not treat her like this!

Alex let out a long-suffering sigh. He was really going to get Liz for sticking him with the Ice Queen from hell. As if it weren’t enough that he had to keep the lab going without her, now he was stuck babysitting this girl who just wouldn’t be cowed by her incarceration. He trudged closer to the room slowly. His heart ached for Liz. By now it was clear that something had happened to her, or she would have gotten in touch with him. Liz was not the type of person to shirk her responsibilities.

Opening the door, he found a slightly bedraggled, but still beautiful, Isabel waiting for him with her hands on her hips. “You rang?” he said sarcastically.

“I want a shower! I smell and I’m dirty and—”

“You can do whatever you like when we get to your new digs,” Alex interrupted her. “We’re moving out tonight.”

“You’re moving me again[/i\?” Isabel was aghast.

Alex just shrugged. “Wouldn’t want people to know where you are, now would we? The new place is better, believe me.”

Staring at him angrily, Isabel decided to take the bull by the horns. “Where is Khivar? Why hasn’t he come to see me? They must know by now who I am.”

Very pale suddenly, Alex closed the door to the room firmly and gave her his full attention. “What do you mean ‘who you are’?”

“You mean they didn’t tell you?” Isabel shook her head. “I am one of the evil aliens Khivar has been trying to find for so long. My brother is the next King of the planet your precious Khivar wants to get control over. Only we didn’t hand it all over as easily as you humans did with the earth. There’s a war on our planet and Khivar is the aggressor. You people need to see the light!” she ended vehemently.

Oh crap, was all Alex’s shocked mind could come up with.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Doran watched his Prince with an unreadable expression. Michael had gone after another order to Max to stay away from Liz and now Max was pacing his office like a caged tiger.

“We need to find Isabel so we can go home and fight this war.”

“You really care for this Liz Parker, don’t you?”

Max turned haunted eyes on his mentor. “Yes, I care. Too much,” he admitted softly.

“I’m not sure there is such a thing as caring too much. You just need to find your balance again with her in your life. This is a new equation.”

Chuckling mirthlessly, Max swung away to the huge window from where he could, as usual, see the dark side of the moon. “That’s the problem. It’s not an equation. It’s a relationship and relationships don’t work according to numbers.”

Silence stretched between them for long moments.

“You are unhappy away from her.” It wasn’t a question from Doran, but a statement of fact. While Max had always been alone, now he was projecting an all-encompassing sadness that tugged at Doran’s heart.

“I—I really need to... at least touch her... again.” Thrusting his hands through his hair, Max turned back to look at Doran pleadingly. “I know you all think I’ve lost my mind to get involved with a human girl working for the enemy, but... in my heart I know she would be on our side if she knew all the facts.” He got a far-off look in his eyes and a small smile curved his lips. “She is amazing, Doran. You should see her work with kids. She does her job because she thinks she is helping humanity. Her heart is pure, I felt that.” The light died out of his amber eyes slowly. “She loved me... once...”

His last words decided things for Doran, his lie had been necessary. And now he would go see the new Princess of Antar and make things work for his Prince if he could.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“I’m gonna be honest here with you, chica,” Maria said, eyeing the moisture shimmering on Liz’s lashes intently. “I don’t think Max is ever going to let you leave again. In fact, I’m not sure how he manages to let you out of his sight at all.”

Fighting down fresh tears, Liz stared at Maria in disbelief. “Does he distrust me so much?” she asked, hating the telltale quiver in her voice.

Now it was Maria’s turn to look amazed. “Distrust you? No, no, he just can’t keep his eyes off you! The guy is totally smitten.”

Liz wasn’t sure how to react to this. Max was smitten with her. But what about... “What would Isabel say about this?” What on earth kind of man did she get involved with? Not only was he using her feelings for him to find his Isabel, but he was apparently married and still didn’t mind falling for another woman too?

“Oh, I’m sure she will have a royal fit, but Max is his own person. If you are important enough to him, nothing Isabel says will make him change his mind.”

This was the last straw. Liz jumped up from the bed, her eyes blazing in anger. “How can you all be so cavalier about this? He is cheating on his wife and—”

“His wife?!” Maria fairly screeched, silencing Liz. “Eeeww, no! Isabel is his sister!” Then her eyes got big as saucers. “You thought he was keeping you around to be his mistress!” Maria looked at Liz sympathetically. “You don’t have a high opinion of him, but you are wrong. He is one of the best guys I have ever met. You are one lucky girl, even if you don’t feel like it now.” When Liz just sank back onto the bed quietly, Maria continued shrewdly. “That’s why you were crying, wasn’t it? You thought he was cheating on his wife with you, and you wanted to be special to him.” Liz didn’t answer, but Maria could see the longing in her eyes, could see how desperately she wanted to believe. “You are special to him. I have never seen him like this over anyone. Don’t you think if he had brought you here to be his bit-on-the-side he would have tried to seduce you by now? While Isabel was missing? No, it kills him to stay away from you, believe me.”

“Then why...”

“Liz, you are working for our enemy. Our enemy, who has kidnapped Max’s only sister, someone he loves dearly and whom you’ve so far refused to help find. You are working in a lab that does experiments on people who cross Khivar. Can you really blame all of us for not really trusting you to be close to our Prince?”

“I would never... Max believes all this of me?” Liz felt gutted. What a tangled mess they were in!

“You mean you aren’t guilty of working for Khivar and against the resistance?” Maria watched Liz closely. Her mother had taught her to put a lot of stock in her own instincts, and right now, her instincts said Liz Parker was hiding something.

Taking a deep, calming breath, Liz tucked her hair behind her ears. “I mean I would never intentionally harm Max. Ever.” The last word came out as a vow.

Maria grinned happily. “That’s good, because that guy means the world to a lot of us and we would hunt you down if you hurt him.” There were still a lot of unanswered questions here, but her main concern had been answered. It was clear as day that Liz Parker was in love with Max Evans. Anything else could be fixed later. “Now, tell me where Isabel is.”

“I’m not sure,” Liz answered truthfully. “I’ll need to get back to my lab to find out.” Her mind went off the topic of Isabel immediately. The conversation with Maria had filled her head with so much information, she was having trouble taking it all in. Max wasn’t married. Isabel was Max’s sister. Max wasn’t staying away from her because he didn’t care. Max really is mine!

Max was the Prince of another planet! This stopped Liz in her tracks. This was all wrong. She could never be involved with an enemy. Never. But... he wasn’t just any enemy. He was... Max. The man who had held her like no one else ever had.

And like no one else ever would.

I can’t be with him if it means I have to betray him. But I can help him before leaving. Her heart ached unbearably at the thought.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Maria had obviously told everyone that Liz planned to co-operate, because she was basically left alone for the rest of the day. Liz could sense that serious preparations were going on outside her little cell, as every time Maria arrived with food or drink she glimpsed people running about.

But still there was no sign of Max.

Then, later that night, after Michael had been in to inform Liz they would leave the next morning to go find Isabel, a new man came to see her. She had been sitting on her bed, her knees drawn to her chest, staring at herself in the mirror when he appeared quietly, startling her. He was tall, with ash-blonde hair and a weathered face.

Doran had just managed to wipe the grin off his face following Maria’s ‘gotcha’ as he told her to keep Michael away from the cell for the next few hours, when he had his first look at Max’s Liz. She looked incredibly melancholy. Just like Max. She was tiny and beautiful, her eyes huge in her face, looking very vulnerable so curled up in one corner of the bed. It took her a while to register his presence and he could see first the disappointment and then the wariness entering her expression.

Yes, I did the right thing.

Who was this? Liz wondered. Yet another alien staring at her suspiciously because she might betray their Prince. She stayed mute, waiting for him to make the first move.

“My name is Doran, I am the Protector of the Royal Twins,” he finally said, his voice soft and unthreatening.

“I won’t hurt Max. I’ll leave him alone after I helped find Isabel, I promise.” Liz’s voice was flat, as if she’d repeated this particular phrase so many times it became a mantra.

“Okay.” Doran watched her, noting that she seemed to be holding herself together through sheer will. “That’s not why I’m here, though.”

“Oh?” A slight flickering of Liz’s dark eyelashes was the only sign that she was surprised.

“No. I just wanted to ask a few questions.”

He had her full attention now.

“How did you meet Max?”

Liz hesitated, feeling strangely hesitant to share such an intense and personal moment with a stranger. “He came to one of the classes I teach at the local college.”

“So you noticed him?”

“Yes.” Liz smiled mirthlessly to herself. It was a vast understatement. Looking into those mesmerizing eyes that had stared at her all through that first class, had nearly knocked her off her feet. ‘Hi, my name is Max.’

“And then?”

“He waited to talk to me after class... about some of my work.” And then he came back, again and again, and I started living for those moments he was close.

“Did you suspect he was an alien?”

“No...” But her uncertainty was clear. “I—I only found that out here.”

Doran shook his head. “You mean to tell me you never suspected something was... different about Max?”

Not able to answer that, Liz thought back to the few weeks she had spent with Max. At first, she had been too blinded by adoration for the gorgeous, gentle man who seemed as taken with her as she was with him, but that night when he marked her, she had known. She had known and had not cared. In spite of the fact that something very strange had happened between them, she had clung to him, said ‘yes’ to him and had wanted nothing different. Her heart had completely overridden her mind.

Her silence was answer enough for Doran. “And now that you know? Do you feel differently?”

No, her heart said immediately, but her lips said something else. “I realized I don’t know him well enough to know what I feel. But this is not my life. My life is in my lab, doing my work.” I need to get away from him, before I’m asked to betray him. “I—I’ll do my best for Isabel, though, I promise. I know she means a lot to him...”

Doran’s regard was becoming unsettling. It felt like he saw through all the words she was spouting to the heart of the matter. That he saw she had gotten in too deep with Max Evans to make any kind of decision easily and rationally. That in spite of how wrong the circumstances were for both of them, she kept wishing there were a way they could be together.

Gooseflesh suddenly rose all over her body and she turned to the mirror instinctively, fighting down an impulse to run over to the sleek surface in the hope of getting closer to him. For one last time.

None of this was lost on Doran. It was like watching a flower turn towards the sun. A fine trembling shook Liz’s body and he could see she was staring at the mirror like she was trying to see through it. It was a profound moment for the Protector. No matter what else Liz Parker was, she was linked inextricably to his Prince. And he knew with certainty that Liz would do everything in her power to help Max find Isabel... because it would make him happy.

Getting up, he glanced at the mirror. “You are to be drugged again for the journey back.”

“Okay.” Liz didn’t even glance at him, her attention riveted on the mirror. “Max won’t be going too, will he...” Again, just a statement of fact, laced with yearning.

“No.” It had caused an argument between Max and Michael, but Michael was adamant that Max would not be put in danger by going close to Khivar’s people. Max had only given in when Michael had promised to make sure that Liz got home safely after they’ve found Isabel. Doran moved closer to Liz. “It would be better if you lie down before I administer the sedative.”

Liz finally tore her eyes away, huddled down on the bed and turned her face back towards the mirror, towards Max. She was indescribably sad. She was leaving and she hadn’t seen him again. Surely it shouldn’t hurt this much. She was doing the right thing, for both of them.

She had no idea how the drug was administered and later she would remember this and marvel that, as a scientist, she had been so intent on Max that she had taken no notice of the alien technology around her.

Doran waited until Liz’s breathing deepened before turning to the mirror. “She will sleep for a while now.” Then he left and took up station against the wall opposite to the cell door. Max did not look at him as he exited the observation room and entered the cell.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

She was lying on her back, now facing away from the mirror. His eyes traced the exposed line of her neck hungrily. He was afraid to go closer, and he was afraid to stay away. How could someone so tiny hold so much power over him? How could someone looking so vulnerable be so powerful?

For endless moments he just stood there, drinking in the sight of her without the hindrance of cool impersonal glass between them. She was so beautiful to him, each heartbeat called her name, each cell in his body craved to meld with hers.

Finally he could stand the distance no longer and walked closer, sinking to his knees at her bedside. Still too afraid to touch her in case she wasn’t fully asleep yet, he traced her form with his eyes. Lingered on the rhythmic rise and fall of her breasts, on the sliver of bare skin visible between her tank-top and drawstring pants, on her cute little toes, peeking from beneath the sheet. Inevitably, his gaze returned to her face, the smooth skin of her cheek, the vulnerable contour of her temple, the elegant line of her jaw and, finally, the place just below her ear where he’d marked her.

Lifting a shaking hand, he moved his palm closer to that place, hovering a mere breath from her skin. It happened immediately. First a soft glow suffused her skin, and then it coalesced slowly into the swirling sign of the Whirlwind Galaxy, the symbol of the Royal House of Antar. It was a moving moment for Max and he had to swallow around the lump in his throat. This was the first time he’d actually seen this happen. The night he had marked her had been too passionate, over too quickly. And he had had no idea what he’d done or how to search for his sign, his mark. Even though he expected it, he was still surprised to find the identical twin of the sign on Liz’s neck shimmering in his palm when he turned over his hand. She had marked him too. They were linked. Inextricably.

His hand found a swath of her hair. He’d been mesmerized by it since he’d seen her for the first time. As he rubbed the silky strands between his fingers, he tried to memorize the sensation for what he now knew was a future without her. “I’m sorry, Liz.” He talked so softly he could barely hear his own words. “So incredibly sorry for not being honest. But I was afraid you would never let me near you if you knew... I never intended... Thank you for helping me with Isabel, even though it must be...” His throat closed up at the thought that he was busy saying goodbye. “Thank you for making me... human, just for a little while. For letting me be with you. You will probably never know how much it... you meant to me. And... there will never be anyone else.” He took a deep breath, leaning closer, lightly brushing his lips over her ear. “I belong to you.” He whispered it in his own language without even noticing, before sliding his lips lower, letting it linger over the dying glow if his mark. “If you ever need me, I’ll come.”

The pain in his chest was becoming unbearable. Tears blurred his eyes as he jerked to his feet, storming from the room before he broke down completely. It felt like he was ripping his heart out, but if he stayed any longer he would never let her go. He didn’t even notice Doran still standing guard at the door.

And back in the cell, Liz opened her eyes with a long, shuddering breath.


Chapter 8

The loud arguing woke Isabel up. She could discern Alex’s voice and two other male voices in the room next door and she had to fight down the fear that it was Nicholas and Khivar with him. But it couldn’t be, not after what Alex said to her last night.

They had traveled through the night and she had actually fallen asleep a few times. They must have arrived here during the early hours of the morning and now she was lying on a narrow bed in what looked like a guy’s room. Out of habit, she tried to contact Max, but the eerie silence she had been experiencing since she was first kidnapped continued.

She was thoroughly confused. After telling Alex who she was, he had stared at her for a long time. Khivar doesn’t know where you are. His words had stunned her into silence. He had refused to answer any more questions and had dragged her out of the room unceremoniously. It had been then that she had noticed they weren’t in the lab. The room she had spent the past few days in, had not been near the lab where Nicholas had come to see her those two times. Alex had only taken the time to grab his laptop computer before he bundled her into a car and had driven off into the night. He had stopped only once along a deserted stretch of road to type furiously on his computer.

“Are you part of the resistance?” she had finally had the courage to ask him, but he had just glared at her and shook his head.

Now she was in a strange house who-knows-where. Max will never find her now.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Max didn’t show up until the last minute, but in the end, he just couldn’t stay away. The shuttle was already humming and Michael was giving his pixie-girl a final hug, while Doran hovered over a still-sleeping Liz.

He felt like kicking himself. Wasn’t that meltdown after saying good-bye enough of a sign that he should stop torturing himself? Max kept his eyes carefully away from the only place he really wanted to look. He was doing the right thing, he told himself for the umpteenth time. She would want to be on earth, with her own people, not with some alien who hadn’t really given her a choice about being bound to him. “Michael, be careful.” He met his second’s gaze. “Don’t do anything else, just bring Iz back.”

“Yeah.” For once, Michael had no smart comeback.

Nodding, Max shook the hands of all the men who would accompany Michael on the mission, ending in front of Doran... and next to Liz. The two men said nothing as they looked at each other. Years of relying on one another made it unnecessary. Doran merely nodded at the silent plea in Max’s eyes.

“Right, let’s go,” Michael announced gruffly. He was a hard soldier, but still not immune to the moisture gathering in Maria’s eyes at his impending departure.

Max gave up trying to be emotionless. He gathered Liz into his arms and strode with her into the shuttle, oblivious to the fact that Doran had barred the others from following with a soft ‘give him a minute’. Burying his face in Liz’s hair, he inhaled deeply, his heart contracting at how familiar she felt and smelled. My Liz. He wanted to say he’ll come back for her, but he couldn’t really promise that. Who knew what waited on Antar? So he carefully walled up all his feelings in his heart and gently lowered Liz into a seat.

Her dream world was scary this time. It started out with Max holding her tightly, letting her feel his caring and his tenderness, making her feel safe. “If you ever need me, I’ll come.” And she tried to tell him she needed him right now, but her throat wouldn’t work. He was going to leave her, and she couldn’t bear the thought. “I belong to you.” But then, those two men appeared over his shoulder again and abruptly, Max was gone.

“Nooo…” she cried. “No, please!” She couldn’t let them have him, she had to do something, anything, to keep him safe. His name is Mark. Not Max. Mark. If she told them that, they will never find him. Spinning around in a circle, she scanned the horizon desperately for a sign of him. The two men were gone, resulting in a small burst of relief, but Max was gone too...
“Don’t leave me...”

He was near the door when he heard her. The small whimper hit him with the force of a giant wave. Was she talking to him? Or to this Mark he had heard about. He forced his feet to move away from her.

“Max!”

Her cry sounded so panicked that he whirled back, fully expecting her to be sitting up and looking at him. Instead, he found her curled up where he left her, a single tear spilling from beneath her still closed eyelashes. Oh God, this is agony!

He was back at her side with two strides, this time catching her face between his hands, not even noticing the glow beneath his palms. He didn’t care that she was drugged, or about all the problems they were faced with, he just kissed her as he had kissed her that last night before he brought her to the ship. Kissed her eyelids, her forehead, her cute little nose and her cheekbones. His lips trailed over her face, finding the small scar above her eyebrow, the line of her jaw and finally the corners of her mouth.

Her lips parted on a small moan and Max didn’t stop to ask questions, he caught the next moan in his mouth. She tasted exactly the same, addictive, sweet, like home. She was pliant in his arms, tiny shivers racing through her that communicated her desire to him. He crushed her closer, tearing his lips away and resting his forehead against hers. Fighting to get control over himself, fighting to stop trembling, he opened his eyes. They were both panting, still so close that their breaths mingled. Abruptly, he was disgusted with himself for mauling Liz while she was unconscious.

“Max...” She whispered his name and he knew he would never get used to hearing it fall from her lips in that tone of voice. Need. A tiny movement caught his attention—her fingers had curled around his wrist, holding him. “Min.” Mine. She had breathed ‘mine’ as she touched him...

The flashes came out of nowhere. The minute it took before Max jerked his forehead away from Liz in surprise was enough for him to see quite a lot of her life. Alex. Two older people that must be her parents. Himself, staring at her from the back of a class. Two men, one tall and darkly handsome, the other a teenager. His own face, flushed with desire. Running through the dark... through a tunnel.

“Max?” Michael’s voice cut into his shock. What the hell had just happened? Did I see into Liz’s mind? But how? Not even with Isabel had he ever managed that!

“Maxwell!” The loud call brought him back to reality. Michael was staring at him suspiciously, his eyes darting between Max and Liz, still in Max’s arms. Max hastily lowered Liz back into the chair and brushed her hair from her face gently. This was not the time to start wondering about weird alien happenings, but he couldn’t shake those images from his mind. Nothing weird had happened the other times he’d kissed her, what was going on now?

“Could we possibly leave now?” Michael inquired sarcastically. Max was acting stranger by the day and he blamed it all on Liz Parker. His once levelheaded Prince turned into an idiot around this girl. The sooner they get her back to earth and Max as far away from her as possible, the better for Antar.

Max was whisked out of the shuttle and before he could get his wits together, he was left standing, holding a tearful Maria, and watching the shuttle speed away from the ship. The expected sense of loss didn’t come, instead, inside him, there was a warm place. A place filled with the gentle presence of Liz.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“I want to go see Liz Parker today,” Khivar announced when Nicholas arrived in his office later that morning. “Have you managed to find that prisoner from the resistance yet?”

Well, Nicholas thought in irritation, so much for starting with the good news. “Err, no, the prisoner is still missing and the guards continue saying they saw nothing amiss. She was just there one minute and gone the next. That assistant of Liz’s also claims to be clueless.”

Khivar’s annoyance increased. “And none of them were lying? I assume you did have the intelligence of going through their memories yourself?”

“Of course I did!” Nicholas snapped. “I found nothing.” He breathed in deeply, still not sure how to tell Khivar that his favorite scientist was missing too. Maybe he should just leave Alex to break the news and take the resulting wrath of Khivar. He would just stick to supplying the good news. “I have something interesting to tell you.”

“What?”

“We found an Antarian ship hidden behind the moon. We managed to jam their cloaking device by accident.”

Shooting to his feet, Khivar stared at Nicholas in shock. “They have a ship... here?”

“Yes, we found it an hour ago. I assume you want us to make it disappear?”

“Well I never, you finally grew a brain.” Walking over to a window, Khivar stared up into the sunny sky. “Take it out. Maybe we’ll be lucky and we’ll take out the Antarian Royals with it.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

This time, Liz woke up right on time, just after the shuttle dropped them in the New Mexico desert and Michael settled them in a small cabin. The first thing she saw was Doran’s concerned face.

“How do you feel?” he asked anxiously.

Truthfully? She felt like crying and never stopping again. “What happened last night? Why could I hear Max but not move?” The questions came out on a croak and Doran rushed to bring her water.

As she gulped it down gratefully, he watched her carefully. “You two needed to say good-bye.”

It sounded so final that Liz had to bite back tears. “Why did you help us?”

“My Prince cares about you.” That he would do anything for Max was obvious.

Michael marched in the room, took one look at the now awake Liz and snorted. “Great, the princess is finally lucid. Get moving, we need to get Isabel before it’s too late.”

While Liz was still nodding, slightly fearful of the big soldier now that they were out of Max’s reach, Doran got to his feet and glared at Michael. “She’s Max’s wife, whether you like it or not, treat her with respect.”

Only momentarily speechless, Michael toned down his voice. “Yeah, well, decisions made while Maxwell was under the influence of his hormones don’t count and until she proves she didn’t bring us here to betray us all over again, I’ll keep my respect for more deserving candidates. Let’s go.” He left before anyone could react.

Jumping from the bed, Liz put her hand on Doran’s arm. “It’s okay. He has a right to be wary of me. But I really want to help you with Isabel.” She was still reeling about being called Max’s wife.

“I know.” Doran was still staring at the door in anger.

“I’m ready,” Liz said, gaining his attention. “Let’s find Max’s sister.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“I have spoken to the resistance group as soon as we arrived. They’ve been watching the lab and it’s been deserted for days now,” Michael informed them as they cautiously entered the city limits of Carlsbad.

So Alex must have left. “I need my laptop,” Liz announced from the backseat.

“What the hell for? So you can make notes about us for Khivar?”

“Michael!” Doran fumed.

“No, so I can contact my assistant. He would know where they took Isabel.” Liz had decided to ignore Michael’s barbs, knowing he was frantic with worry about Isabel and knew nothing about herself. She would have reacted the same way.

One of Michael’s team took a half hour to retrieve the laptop from Liz’s flat. Her heart beat fast as she booted up and used a borrowed cell phone to download her mail. Relief flooded her as she saw the message from Alex.

Liz, gone to the lake for a few days of R & R. Took the notes for our latest experiment with me, so don’t freak! Hope to see you soon, Alex.

“Great,” Michael muttered over her shoulder, “he’s gone fishing?”

“No, just drive to Roswell. I know where to find him.” Liz’s hands were shaking. If the message was right, she would find Isabel with Alex. The message was a day old, though. Who knows what could have happened to them in the meantime.

The drive was long and tedious, providing Liz with ample time to miss Max. She literally ached with longing. His heartfelt words of the previous night were burnt into her memory. There will never be anyone else. How could this have happened to her? She was in love with someone she could never be with. Not if she wanted to complete the task she had set herself. Not if she didn’t want to get to a point where she would have to choose between Max and humanity. Between Max and a cause she believed in with all her heart. Or… did she?

The way he had touched her last night, so reverently, tenderly, yearningly, made her wonder about her beliefs. Was she right? Were things really as black and white as they’ve always seemed to her? Max was shaking her world’s foundations without even trying. He was making her question, for the first time in her life, whether science really could explain everything.

He made her want to throw away all she had worked so hard to achieve, just for a few more minutes in his arms. To hear him say her name just one more time. She was consumed by him.

“We’re here.” Michael’s brusque tone stated his distrust of Liz’s instructions clearly.

Without looking at Michael, Liz phoned a number on the cell phone. “It’s me. I need to talk... okay.”

Everyone was staring at her as she ended the cryptic call. “I have to go see this friend alone.”

“No way,” Michael yelled immediately.

Liz ignored him again. “He won’t come if I have someone with me. Do you want to know where Isabel is, or not?”

Michael was quiet, both taken aback at the fact that Liz did not act scared of him and because there seemed to be no other option than hers. He hated being dependent on someone else.

“Doran can watch me from a way off. But I need to talk to this guy alone.”

They really had no choice.

Fifteen minutes later, Doran watched as a guy caught Liz in his arms and whirled her around, obviously overwhelmed with joy at seeing her again. He sighed. Trust Max to choose a girl that was going to drive him nuts with jealousy without even trying.

“Parker! We thought you were dead!” Kyle Valenti cried as he finally put an out-of-breath Liz back on her feet. “Where the hell were you?” He kissed her cheeks.

Liz couldn’t help laughing. Kyle was a great guy and a good friend. “I’m fine now, but I don’t have time to talk. Have you seen Alex?”

“Sure, he came through here. Left this morning. Had a knock-out blonde with him.”

“Isabel Evans?”

“Yep.” He got serious. “But Liz, she’s one of them. We told Alex to take her somewhere else.”

“Oh Kyle!” Liz searched for words frantically. “I need to find her…find Alex. It’s really important! Did he tell you where he went?”

“You know better than to ask that! He will contact you when he needs to.” Kyle frowned at her, seeing her increasing agitation. “There’s something more important you need to know. Something exciting.”

Liz was having trouble concentrating on Kyle’s words. Panic was racing through her veins at the thought that Alex might have gone underground with Isabel. They would never find them if Alex didn’t try to contact her again. She saw Doran moving closer out of the corner of her eye, probably as a result of her obvious distress.

“… planning to shoot some ship from the sky. Can you believe it?”

Doran was suddenly looking very pale, his gaze riveted on Kyle. Liz forced her attention back to Kyle too.

“Khivar apparently thinks those other Antarians he’s looking for might be on that ship. I wish I could see that! It will probably look like something from Star Wars. I’m hoping he waits until tonight, at least then we’d be able to see the fireworks.”

A dreadful feeling exploded in the pit of Liz’s stomach and she jerked her eyes back to Doran. He looked ready to keel over with shock. It clicked immediately. The humming she’d felt beneath her feet these past few days... she’d been on a ship! The ship Khivar plans to blow up. The ship that still held Max Evans.

“Nooo…”

tbc

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LivE
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9+10

Post by LivE » Sat Jun 05, 2004 3:06 am

Author's Note: Thank you to for the nice words to those who left feedback! This story is almost 3 years old and it is wonderful to hear some fans still remember it! --LivE


Chapter 9

The panic attack sent Max to his knees with a choked gasp, causing complete chaos in the dining hall in seconds. He couldn’t breathe past the fear closing his throat and the abject terror pressing down on his chest—he didn’t even hear Maria crying out his name. Hands lifted him from the floor, moving him to a chair and worried soldiers milled around him, trying to ascertain if he has unexpectedly taken ill.

It took only moments for him to realize that the feelings were coming from someone else. From Liz. She was scared out of her mind. A cold rage followed immediately in the footsteps of this thought. If someone harmed her he would kill them with his bare hands! Surging to his feet, ignoring the intense pain in his chest, he stabbed the nearest soldier with a uncompromising look. “We’re going down to earth. Now.”

“Max!” Maria was pulling at his sleeve, her eyes filled with worry. “What’s wrong?”

“Liz. Something is happening to Liz.”

Shock registered on Maria’s face. “How do you know?”

“I—I just do. We’re leaving.” He stormed out of the room towards the shuttle docking area, confused people trailing behind him.

“Your Highness! You can’t just go down to earth. We need a plan.” The stern words from one of his officers forced Max to take stock of his actions and he stopped, taking deep breaths to calm himself. As he turned to face his men, his right hand unconsciously flattened over his heart, a soft glow emanating from the symbol on his palm. The resulting gasps and stunned stares of the onlookers went unnoticed. “Right. Something has gone wrong with the team we sent to earth to find my sister. I need as many of you as we can spare to go down with me to see what we can do.”

“Are you sure this isn’t a trap?” another officer asked, his eyes still glued to the light seeping through Max’s fingers.

“I don’t know. All I know is that they seem to be in danger.” Max felt like screaming at them to stop questioning him so they could leave. Instead of abating, Liz’s terror seems to be increasing and he had to force himself to stand still to speak calmly to the group.

“I’m coming with you,” Maria said firmly from her position right next to him. “I know the resistance and we might need their help.” She braced herself for protests from Max, but he merely nodded. “So let’s go people,” Maria ordered, and watched in approval as the crowd dispersed, running for their rooms to find what they would need for the journey and the task ahead.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“The men are on their way, Khivar,” Nicholas announced smugly. “In two hours, we’ll be free of that spy ship.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~


Maria shoved a pale and shaking Max into the shuttle. “Now tell me the real story,” she instructed him. “What’s with the glowing hand and how the hell do you know they’re in trouble?”

Max silently lifted his hand from his heart and turned the palm towards Maria, showing her the Antar Royal Symbol that glittered on his skin. Watching her mouth fall open, he fisted his hand and dropped it to his side. “It happened when I marked… married Liz.”

The men were starting to drift into the shuttle, gear on their shoulders. They were all casting uncertain glances at their Prince, obviously wondering if he’s lost it. They’d never seen him this agitated before.

“Wait, wait, wait!” Maria feared she was going to hyperventilate. There were just too many weird things to assimilate here. “You married her?” Her hands fluttered in agitation. “When? How? Wha—”

“I... We bonded. It’s the way my people marry, Maria. I didn’t plan…” He slashed his hand through the air in disgust. “Let’s just say neither of us knew what we were doing. But we’re linked now. That’s all I know.”

“Is this why you know she’s in trouble?”

Nodding, Max wondered how to explain that he knew he was experiencing Liz’s emotions. And that he was worried out of his mind about her.

“Sir? We’re ready to leave.”

Max glanced around the shuttle, now crowded with soldiers. How amazing that nearly all of the Antarians on the ship were ready to follow him, some Prince they’ve only recently met, to their deaths, just because he asked them to. Having grown up in the USA, this was a strange concept to him. Only his training by Doran had prepared him for this role.

“Let’s go, but make sure we are undetected.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“We have to do something, Michael!” Liz was close to having a breakdown. As soon as Kyle’s words had penetrated her mind, she had taken off, running down the road as fast as her legs could carry her, propelled onward by the terror that she would be too late to save Max. There was no time to think about who she was, about where her allegiances lie in normal times, there was only the one thought: I have to warn Max.

Michael was remarkably calm after she conveyed the news and Liz bounced around him in panic, fearful that he wouldn’t believe her.

“Are you sure about this?” Michael didn’t trust Liz yet. He still did not fully understand how Max and Liz got to be so close in such a short time. It had taken him months to trust DeLuca and even longer for him to admit he was in love with her. Liz, on the other hand, had managed to bewitch Max in a matter of hours, it seems, and Michael was unconvinced that there were no ulterior motives involved from her side. Right now, he wondered if she was trying to get them to send a message to the ship so Khivar could find out its location. That would be too perfect.

“For God’s sake, Michael!” Liz’s cry was filled with dread. “They are going to kill Max!”

She looked so panic-stricken that Michael started to worry. “How the hell would he know about the ship?”

“I don’t know and right now, I don’t care,” Liz’s voice wobbled. “Please... please do something.”

Casting a concerned look at Doran, who seemed just as distressed at Liz, Michael admitted the truth. “We can’t contact him, Liz. There is no way to contact the ship. Communications on the ship had been shut down to ensure security. Maybe—maybe if we had Isabel here, she could have contacted him somehow.”

Her breath literally stopped. The pain in her heart was so intense she had to wrap her arms around herself for fear of falling apart completely. “No.” It can’t be. “No...” We never had a chance to... “I never said good-bye.”

Michael was looking at her strangely, but Liz didn’t notice. She was remembering the day she met Max Evans.

“Hi everybody!” Liz had called out cheerfully as she had entered her classroom at the college in Carlsbad. She had been presenting a special course on the molecular differences between humans and apes to some advanced students and had enjoyed it immensely since it was one of her favorite subjects. Having excelled all her life in biology and science, she had gotten early admission into Harvard, finishing her degree in record time. It had been after the publication of one of her research papers that Khivar had contacted her, asking her to head his research lab. And so her career with Khivar had begun, in Carlsbad if all places. She had taken Alex with her, a friend from her school days and a computer genius. He had recorded all her findings and wrote programs to assist her research. Most of all, he had stood by her in the face of the shock and disgust from some of her former friends that she could work for Khivar. That she could work for an alien.

The noise level in the class had diminished by the time she reached the podium. The tingle that had run down her spine as she had walked through the room had turned into a slight shiver as she had turned around. Her eyes had scanned the group in front of her for the reason and two seconds later their gazes had collided, startling her breath from her lungs. Never in her life had she seen such intense eyes. Or eyes that particular shade of golden. She had just stared at him in amazement. He had hair the color of a raven’s wings and shoulders that filled his black sweater delectably. Quite simply, he took her breath away. And he had stared back as if the rug had just been pulled from beneath his feet too. As if he’d just seen a vision. As if he had felt the same electricity she had.

Bone-deep recognition had funneled through her. Not the kind where you recognize a face, but the kind where you recognize a soul. This man was her other half, the one she’d been waiting for. She had taken a step towards him before a loud noise jerked her back to reality.

Glancing at the student that had dropped his books, her eyes had returned to that magnetic amber gaze immediately. He had appeared slightly dazed by then, but his eyes had never wavered from hers for a moment.

It had taken all her willpower to get through that class and not sound like a complete fool. By the end of the period, she had been ready to explode with tension and anticipation.

She had known he would wait.

Whatever had happened between them was not something you ignored.

She had deliberately kept her back to the emptying class as she gathered her material, but a part of her had known exactly when he had stood up and walked closer. She had imagined that she could feel his heat as he halted behind her.

It was only after she had finally turned towards him, meeting his gaze, that he had spoken. His voice had been low, rough, skittering across her skin until she was covered in gooseflesh.

“Hi, my name is Max…”

And she had known, her life would never be the same again.


“Liz!” Michael shook her arm, shocking her out of her reverie. “Can we find Isabel soon enough to help us? When is this attack going to be launched against the ship?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know where Alex took her.”

The situation finally got too much for Michael. “You mean you don’t know if your friend hadn’t killed Isabel already?” he yelled at Liz. “If my whole family dies today, so help me—”

“Khivar will never just kill Isabel and you know it, Michael,” Doran cut in. “He wants one of them alive to help him get hold of the throne.” He pulled Liz from Michael’s grasp and spoke to her urgently. “You are linked to him. You have to try and contact him.”

“Me?” Liz gaped at him. “Linked? What—what do you mean?”

“There is no time to explain properly, but…” Doran lifted Liz’s hand to her neck, pressing her palm against Max’s invisibly mark. “Focus on him.”

Too desperate to question what she was doing, Liz just followed instructions. Squeezing her eyes closed, she thought of Max.

His hands had shook as he cupped her face tentatively, touching her for the first time. “Liz...” Her name had been a mere exhalation of breath, as if he’d fought a long battle with himself and had finally given up.

Their fist kiss had been soft, lips brushing against each other in a reverent moment, each of them savoring the sensations of finally being this close.

“This can’t be...” But even as he’d said it, his head had bent until he could touch his mouth to hers again. And had ignited a firestorm.


Her palms felt warmer, but she kept trying to reach him. She understood nothing of these alien powers that until now frightened her, but if they meant she could warn Max, she’d use them.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

A soft hiss, sounded around the shuttle as it raced through space, was the only warning that the once huge Antarian ship was gone. The group stared at the empty scanning screen in the shuttle in horror.

“Oh my God, Max!” Maria clutched Max’s arm. “Someone disintegrated the ship! We could have been...” Tears started streaming down her face. “We had people on there!”

Max nodded grimly, putting an arm around her. There had only been a few men left on the ship, but they had been comrades. How on earth had Khivar found out about the ship?

There was only one way Max could think of, and that was too horrible to contemplate. Had Liz somehow given out the location of the ship to Khivar? He just couldn’t believe that she would voluntarily betray him like that. He had to believe that whatever it was that had her so scared had been used to coerce the information from her.

What a mess.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Can you feel anything?” Doran asked after long moments of watching Liz concentrate. He was trying very hard not to show his desperation and rattle Liz’s concentration in the process. He had had so much faith in this connection, this link, that these two had forged so instinctively, that the lack of a breakthrough by Liz was intensely disappointing.

She finally opened her eyes, looking at him uncertainly. “I—I think he’s coming closer...”

A stony silence met her stammered statement. No one knew what to believe.

Michael was staring at her neck, seeing the sign of his Royal House shining on her skin. The sight gave him chills. And it confused the hell out of him. It was the sign he had pledged loyalty to so long ago. And now it was worn by a girl he didn’t trust.

“We need to go back to the cabin,” Doran said when everyone remained frozen in place. “If Max is... if they come to earth, they would go there first.”

This galvanized them all to action and they ran to the vehicles, taking off at high speed, thankful to finally have something concrete to do.

Liz chewed her bottom-lip the whole way. She had listened silently to Doran explain about the Antar bonding ceremony and what it meant. And then she had listened to him explain about the link that now existed between her and Max.

“The strength of the link depends on the persons involved,” he ended, watching her intently.

Not knowing what to say, Liz had merely nodded her head. There was so much to take in. And this was so much worse than she had ever expected. Not only was she involved with an alien, she was linked to one. To an alien Prince no less. One that could sense her, like she could sense him.

But somehow, all that paled in comparison to the fact that she wanted him to be safe. She would face the consequences of her rash actions later, right now, she just prayed she was right about Max coming.

After what felt like hours later, they neared the cabin in the desert, the four-wheel drive vehicles bumping over the rough terrain. There was no sign of the shuttle and Liz’s heart literally stopped. Blinking back tears, she missed the cabin door opening and Maria bounding out.

But she didn’t miss seeing Max appearing on Maria’s heels.

A harsh sob escaped Liz’s throat in reaction. She was rooted to her seat, staring at him across the space that separated them, too afraid that he was an apparition conjured up by her confused mind. He had stopped on the veranda, his gaze searching through the people milling about before finally landing on her.

She would never forget the way his face lit up when he saw her.

Maria’s joyful cry when she saw Michael galvanized Liz into action too. Opening the door of the vehicle slowly, she stepped out, unaware of the tears streaking down her cheeks. He was looking at her as he had that first time they’d seen each other, like she was just too good to be true.

They never heard the silence descending on the group that surrounded them.

Max broke the spell by stepping forward. “Liz?” A soft question, as if he still had trouble believing she was really there.

She ran to him then. Ran to him and flung herself against his chest with such force that he staggered backwards a step before stabilizing them and lifting her up against his chest. She was crushed into his body so tightly she could barely breathe.

You are safe! They thought simultaneously.

And in that moment, nothing else mattered.


Chapter 10

Oh God, I’m never letting go again, Max thought has he tightened his hold on Liz. Having her close like this, alive, breathing, hugging him back, not drugged, was all he had dreamed off since the kidnapping. He knew he should ask her if this was okay, if she wanted him to hold her, but his throat wouldn’t work. Nothing on this earth would have moved him to break up this precious moment.

Liz’s face was pressed into his neck, her hands clinging to his sides convulsively. As he removed his one arm from around her, she made a soft protesting sound and it finally dawned on him that she was just as involved in this embrace as he was. The thought warmed his soul, shooting rays of sunshine through his body, banishing the final remnants of the fear that had driven him to earth. To hell with tomorrow, right now, they wanted to be with each other.

Threading his fingers through her hair, he tugged her face up and leaned his forehead against hers, just absorbing her nearness, wallowing in her scent, her softness, the sound of her breathing. “I was so afraid...” he murmured, not finding the right words to convey how intense his concern for her had been.

Opening her eyes, she found him staring at her from close range, felt the sharp inhalation lifting his chest into closer proximity with hers as their gazes locked. “Me too.” I was afraid you would be hurt or worse. That I would never see you again and I couldn’t bear the thought. Closing her eyes again, Liz prayed that time would stand still for just a few moments longer, allowing her to stay in his arms some more. Kiss me please Max, she thought desperately, before reality intrudes again. Just one more time.

But he didn’t. He just continued holding her so close she could feel the buttons of his shirt press into her skin.

So she lifted her mouth the fraction-of-an-inch that was needed for their lips to touch. Momentarily frozen, it took Max only a second to recover before he kissed her back with a raw groan.

The flash surprised them. Max was stunned to hear Liz beg Michael to do something, anything to save Max’s life. And Liz lived through Max’s panic that someone was hurting her, threatening her.

The kiss was short-lived.

“Maxwell.” Michael’s voice broke into their absorption with each other, and they drew apart, staring at each other in alarm.

“Lizzie!” Maria pulled Liz away from Max, hugging her tightly. “I’m so glad you are all safe. We were so worried.”

“But...” Liz’s confused interjection was lost as everyone crowded around Max, forgetting about her.

Michael slapped Max on the back. “Glad you’re safe, Maxwell. How did you know they were going to attack?”

Max had to tear his eyes away from Liz, standing off to the side with Maria, to concentrate on Michael. “What are you talking about? We didn’t know... we came because you were in trouble.”

Frowning, Michael shook his head. “We were never in trouble. We found out Khivar planned to destroy the ship and there was no way to...” He faltered to a halt when he saw the shock on Max and Maria’s faces. “What?”

But Max suddenly had eyes only for Liz again, his face filled with awed wonder. “You mean all that was for… for me?” he asked Liz in a strained voice.

Lowering her gaze to the ground, Liz tried to win time to compose herself by playing dumb. “Was what for you?”

When he spoke, he was right in front of her suddenly. “All that... that terror I felt. Was it all because of me? Because you were afraid for me?”

Damn, Liz thought, there is no way to get around the truth now. She just nodded her head jerkily, still avoiding his gaze even though she could feel his eyes boring into her.

“Oh Liz...” Max took her hands.

“What are you going on about?” Michael demanded harshly.

“We came because I could... feel Liz’s distress about something. I thought...” Max was looking down on the shiny crown of Liz’s bent head as he talked, rubbing his thumbs over the back of her hands. “I thought you guys were in danger somehow. We had no idea they were coming. We had just left in the shuttle when the ship was destroyed. We came to save you.”

The look on Michael’s face was absolutely priceless, but no one was really paying attention to him.

“You saved our lives, Liz!” Maria hugged her again, this time from behind since Max was planted firmly in front of her, holding onto her hands.

Liz didn’t know what to say. Technically she hadn’t done a thing but panic about Max’s safety. Peeking up into Max’s face, she found him staring down at her with such intensity that her heart nearly stopped. It felt like he was gazing into her soul. His eyes held a mixture of emotions: relief, wonder, sadness... but most of all, she could see such love shining down at her that her throat closed up.

Max was completely overwhelmed. He had known that she had been in love with him before, it would have been hard to miss. But he had feared that his duplicity had killed whatever she might have felt for him. It was a humbling thought to realize just how much she had worried about him being in danger. She loves me. In spite of everything, she loves me. He ignored Michael’s taken aback sputtering and Maria’s attempts to clue her boyfriend in. He couldn’t stop gazing at Liz. Lifting a hand, he trailed a tender finger down her cheek, enjoying the slight widening of her eyes. “Thank you.”

Stepping back, afraid of all the emotions crowding in on her when he was this close, Liz shook her head resolutely. “I didn’t really do anything. I’m just...” she swallowed, “I’m just glad you are all okay.”

“We need to talk,” Michael said determinedly to Max. Maria diplomatically took Liz off to one of the bedrooms, but Liz’s eyes clung to Max’s until she was pulled around a corner.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The discussion went on until late that night. The ship has been totally destroyed and with it, the only way to get to Antar. Communications with their planet was not possible until they could manage to find a secure way of doing it without giving away the whereabouts of the Antar Royal group on earth. And they still needed to find Isabel. Max had frowned when Michael and Doran had relayed Liz’s strange behavior while they were searching for the other Evans. “She’s hiding something, Maxwell,” Michael kept repeating.

Max was informed that Liz’s assistant, Alex, had disappeared with Isabel for some unknown reason. Liz had not seemed shocked or upset to hear this. Michael believed that this was a ruse to delay them finding out that Isabel had already been killed by Khivar.

“I would know if she’s dead, Michael,” Max had told him tiredly.

“Oh yeah? Do you feel her right now?”

Max had had to acknowledge that he didn’t. He didn’t want to think about the possibility that Iz was dead. She and Doran were the people closest to him... until Liz had happened. He couldn’t bear the thought that Liz might have something to do with Isabel’s kidnapping, let alone his sister’s death.

Of course, it hadn’t taken Michael long to get to why he really wanted to talk to Max. Liz Parker. Michael wasn’t sure why she had been so frantic to save Max, but he was sure that they shouldn’t fully trust her yet. “Don’t tell her anything, Maxwell. Nothing about us or how we operate.”

Even though it killed him to admit it, Max knew Michael was right. He might love Liz, but he was not sure he could trust her yet. The thought depressed him to no end.

Doran had quietly relayed what he had seen during Liz’s meeting with her “friend”. He left nothing out, and wasn’t surprised at the thinning of Max’s lips when he heard about the boisterous hug and cheek-kissing that had taken place.

In the end, they had decided to keep the issue of finding Isabel a priority, while some part of their group will start organizing a new base for them here in the desert. Max was starting to fear that, unless a miracle sent a new Antarian ship to earth, he would have to take care of Khivar here.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Liz wasn’t asleep when he came. Left alone by Maria in one of the three tiny bedrooms of the cabin, she had been lying in bed, listening to the low hum of the conversation going on in the living room. Confusion swamped her. Everything inside her screamed to be with Max. To allow herself to love him with all that she was. He seemed so genuine, so gentle and so not at all what she had expected. But she was afraid. Afraid to let him come too close. Afraid of the choices she would have to make later if she didn’t make them now. So she pretended sleep while Max hesitated in the doorway.

His gaze felt like a touch and for a wild moment, she contemplated opening her eyes and inviting him in. He left so quietly, she didn’t even hear him, she just felt the sudden emptiness in the room.

Max was just as confused. Seeing her lying on the bed, so small and impossibly beautiful, had created a yearning in his heart and in his body. As he showered quickly, he remembered the few times he had held Liz, really held her. They had never made love, just shared the most mind-blowing kisses he could ever have imagined. Even with his lack of experience he knew that those kisses had been amazing. That the level of desire he had experienced for Liz was in the realm of the mythic. When he was with her, she consumed all of his senses. He sighed, flinging himself on his bed and prepared for yet another sleepless night. She was in his heart and his blood after two short weeks and he ached to have her...

Hours later, a soft footfall made his eyes snap open. Liz was standing next to his bed looking down at him uncertainly, the same loneliness and need he was feeling painting her features. His gut clenched in reaction, but he waited for her to make the first move. Oh please...

“I—I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have...” She started backing away and he panicked.

“Wait. Don’t go.” He sat up, unaware that his bare chest was the reason for Liz’s soft gasp.

“I just wanted...” I just wanted you to hold me tonight. To hold me and not ask questions.

“Me too,” he whispered softly, opening his arms invitingly. “We’ll talk tomorrow, just stay here tonight.”

Drowning out the voice of reason in her head, Liz rushed over, flinging her arms around his neck and pressing closer. It feels like coming home. He scooted backwards on the bed, managing to maneuver them into lying down without letting her out of his arms. Liz snuggled against him shamelessly, reveling in the warmth of his bare skin, rubbing her cheek against his shoulder. Her tank top was an almost negligible barrier between them, but it still bothered her. Tonight was about more than mere lust, though, it was about a deep-seated need to be close, to share one final moment of togetherness before the real world tears them apart.

He pulled her half on top of him, curling an arm around her, letting his hand rest just beneath the swell of her breasts. His other hand caught one of hers and he lifted it to his mouth, pressing his lips against her knuckles for a long breathless moment. Her whole body reacted to that touch, leaping in response to this man that had linked her to him so irrevocably.

Tilting her head back, she stared up at him through heavy eyes. He was impossibly gorgeous, made even more so because he was so supremely indifferent to his looks. She had no idea why he had picked her, bookish and boring Liz Parker, but just for tonight, she would ask no questions.

Saying nothing, he brushed his lips over her forehead before resting his cheek on the top of her head. Liz had never felt so cherished. She fell asleep with the steady beat of his heart in her ear.

Max felt calm for the first time in many days. Peace came over him as he relished in the perfect fit of their bodies, the warm exhalations of her breath against his skin. He wanted her just this side of madness, but he loved her too, wanted her to feel safe and warm.

And this was what he would give her tonight.

Tomorrow could take care of the questions and the uncertainties.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

He woke up suddenly, finding Liz spooned against him, the soft skin of her back resting against his chest. His face was buried in her hair, sending the scent of strawberries into his body with every lungful of air.

“Liz...” he sighed in longing, pulling her tighter against him, against his burgeoning arousal. She made him want her by just being close.

A small sound escaped her throat and she moved her legs until they were tangled with his, sliding their thighs together sensually.

His hand found the bare skin of her stomach and he burrowed beneath her tank top, spreading his fingers over her ribcage until he could literally feel each breath she took. She shifted restlessly against him, her breathing getting deeper, more labored. His mouth trailed over her bare shoulder and up her neck, opening moistly against the sensitive spot behind her ear.

She moaned softly.

Yes, he thought exultantly, want me as much as I want you!

She startled him by turning over unexpectedly and pressing the hard peaks of her breasts against his chest. A raw groan spilled from him as she dragged her nails up his naked back until her fingers could press into his nape. She urged his head down, silently begging him to kiss her.

His soft hiss was music to her ears.

His hands found her face, cupping it gently as he stared down into her eyes. He wanted her. She knew him well enough by now to know this. But he was being cautious, keeping a tight reign over himself.

“Just one kiss, please...”

He rolled over in one smooth move, trapping her body with his own, his breathing suddenly loud in the room.

Liz met his hungry kiss halfway, lifting closer, threading her fingers through his hair. He touched his tongue to hers then withdrew, playing with her tenderly, fanning the flames of her passion. Sliding his arm beneath her, he arched her into his body as he slowly deepened the kiss.

She was so hungry for him. Opening her mouth wider, she ran her tongue over his bottom-lip... and caused an explosion.

He kissed her hard, desperately, delving into her mouth with fierce desire as his hands shaped her curves, igniting a fire in the pit of her stomach. He pressed his arousal into her, rubbing their bodies together in a way that was driving her mad.

She wanted his hands on her, she wanted him inside her, she wanted... all of Max Evans.

Ripping his mouth from hers to snatch great gulps of air, Max felt the fire threaten to consume him. He was nearly blind with need for her. She was his, his mind and heart cried, no one else should ever touch her like this again.

“Max,” she moaned his name, sending such a bolt of lust through his body that he almost panicked he would hurt her.

He tangled his hands in her hair, holding her away from him and they stared into each other’s eyes while panting for breath.

“Say yes,” he urged her. Say yes to me, to being mine, to staying with me.

“Yes,” she answered, “always yes.”


Coming awake with a start, Max heard himself gasp for breath, the remnants of the dream still thundering through his bloodstream.

Liz was curled up against him, her hair spilling over his shoulder and her hands clinging to one of his as if she was afraid he might disappear while she slept.

He didn’t hear her at first over the loud thumping of his heart, but gradually her murmurs became distinct.

“Yes,” she was saying, “always yes.”

tbc

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LivE
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 130
Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2001 4:58 pm
Location: South Africa

11+12

Post by LivE » Sun Jun 06, 2004 1:27 pm

Chapter 11

Journal Entry 214

I have fallen hopelessly and irrevocably in love. And there is no future for us.

To make a long story short about the lack of recent entries, I have been kidnapped… no, ABDUCTED by an alien prince who wants me to help him find his sister. Did I mention this alien prince was Max? The Max whom I met two weeks ago and who kissed me like there’s no tomorrow?

I cannot even write this, it is so insane, but... I am married to him. That night, the night I tried so hard to block from my mind, well, it DID happen. He did mark me. And for his people, that means marriage. Me, Liz Parker, scientist working for humanity, married to an alien.

He made me SEE things when he kissed me. I can FEEL him when he’s close. They tell me we are linked now, that Max carries the same mark I do. Somehow, I had marked him right back.

It is so unbelievable. He is gorgeous and I’m still boring, nerdish Liz. I’m not sure how it happened, but this man is in love with me too. I can see it in his eyes, feel it in his touch. It is killing us both to be in this hopeless situation.

I had never been as scared in my life as I was yesterday. I thought he was going to die. That’s when I knew that, to my heart, it didn’t matter WHAT he is, just WHO he is. And it was so weird, because he had rushed to earth to save ME! He had felt my panic and he came. Just like he said he would.

I slept in his arms last night and I knew I BELONGED there. I wanted to stay there forever. I wanted him to do more than hold me. However ludicrous this situation is, I long for us to make love. Even if it’s just once.

I love him. I hardly know him, but I KNOW him. And I love him so much it hurts.

And this cannot be.


The sound of typing drew Maria outside the cabin and she emerged to find Liz sitting on the stairs, working on her laptop. Watching from a few feet away, she again wondered about this girl. Stumbling around still half-asleep to find water just before dawn, she had inadvertently wandered into Max’s room. At first she had thought she might still be dreaming when she saw the couple so closely entwined on the bed. You could hardly see where one began and the other ended as they had clung to each other in sleep. Michael would have a cow if he knew Liz had spent the night with Max, but peaceful look on Max’s face had stopped her from waking them up. To Maria’s soft heart, the expression of happiness on Max’s face was such a welcome relief from the past few days that she had just sneaked off again, leaving them to each other.

It took her a while to remember that she should probably check on what Liz was doing on her computer now. She might be trying to contact Khivar, but somehow Maria had trouble believing that. Not after seeing Liz’s overwhelming relief when Max appeared in the cabin door yesterday afternoon. Emotion like that could not be faked.

Tiptoeing closer, she peered over Liz’s shoulder at the words rapidly appearing on the small screen.

… so confused. He makes me feel things I’ve never felt before. I don’t know what to do. We both want things we can’t have. I just need—

“Morning you two,” Doran said as he came around the corner of the cabin unexpectedly, startling both Liz and Maria. Maria cringed when she heard Liz gasp in shock at finding her so close. Damn, Doran, this was just getting good! Maria gave him an exasperated look as he swept past into the cabin.

Slamming the laptop closed, Liz threw a glare at Maria, born more out of panic than anger. What had Maria seen and… will she tell Max?

“Morning, girl,” Maria said cheerily.

“Morning,” Liz answered, her response stilted. She couldn’t really blame Maria for checking up on what she was doing. They didn’t have a reason to fully trust her yet. “I—I was writing in my journal,” she explained, her cheeks flushed.

Things have been weird ever since she woke up this morning, literally surrounded by Max, by his arms, his body and his scent, the dream of them still vivid in her mind. “Say yes.” And she had. She had said yes over and over again. Never had she wanted someone more. He made her feel like the most desirable and most precious girl in the world all at the same time. She had laid still for long moments, reveling in the strength of his arms, the sound of his heartbeat in her ear, the gentle feathering of his breath across her temple. Wanting so much to kiss him.

Instead, she had extracted herself gingerly from his embrace, biting her lip when his soft protesting murmur reached her ears, and left.

The sun was slowly rising in the east and the desert was already starting to warm up. Soon, it would be uncomfortably hot here.

Maria settled herself on the stairs next to Liz. “I cannot believe you are already awake. You had a rough few days and last night…” A small smile curved her mouth. “Let’s just say I could see you and Max were both sleeping well for a change.”

Blushing profusely at the realization that Maria must have seen them, Liz ducked her head, allowing her hair to hide her face. “I…” She didn’t really know what to say.

Smoothing Liz’s hair behind her ear, Maria chuckled. “It’s okay. You make him happy, that’s all I care about.”

Liz was silent for a long time, pondering the statement. Maria sounded so sure, but how could Max be happy with her if he didn’t trust her? “What about the fact that I’m a traitor to your cause?” she finally asked, a slight trace of bitterness coloring her voice.

Now it was Maria’s turn to pause. “Will you give Max over to Khivar?”

“No.” The denial came out firmly.

“And will you help us find Isabel?”

“Yes.”

“Then I don’t care about anything else.”

“I have to go back to work for Khivar after we find Isabel.” Liz didn’t even realize how sad she sounded.

“Are you sure that’s a good idea? Wouldn’t he know you were missing and mind rape you to find out what you were doing? He would learn about Max then!”

Shaking her head with a tiny smile, Liz spoke with certainty. “Don’t worry, he won’t find out anything about you all from me.” She opened up her laptop again, quickly closing her journal file. “I need to contact Alex. Can I borrow a cell phone again?”

A few minutes later, she had typed in a mail message to her life-long friend.

Alex, I need the notes for our latest experiment URGENTLY! As well as ink for my printer. We would have to meet. I am close to the lake, so let me know a suitable time. Liz.”

“Is that some secret code? What’s with the ‘notes’ and the ‘ink’?” Maria asked, hovering over Liz’s shoulder.

“Isabel and my injections respectively,” Liz said shortly, not wanting to get into the issue too much.

“What is going on here?” Michael’s abrasive voice interrupted their discussion. He was standing in the door, rubbing his hands through his sleep-tousled hair and looking none too pleased about finding his girlfriend consorting with the enemy.

“Morning, Space boy! Nice to see you too,” Maria quipped sarcastically. So much for a possible continuing good mood after last night’s reunion sex! She felt supremely satisfied when he looked sheepish for a moment, giving her a slight, apologetic smile. “Liz was sending a message to Alex so he can bring Isabel to a meeting point.”

Michael eyed the laptop, the mail message still visible on the screen, with suspicion. He was clearly still torn about how far he should trust Liz.

“Where’s our hunky Prince?” Maria was needling Michael on purpose, trying to remove some of his attention from Liz.

“Geez, Maria, do you think you could not drool so obviously about—”

She jumped up and stopped him with a kiss, grinning at him impishly. He gave her an irritated look, but hugged her closer.

“Have you made breakfast?”

Liz thought Maria was still joking, but at Michael’s nod, she had to re-evaluate. Obviously, the man can cook. Go figure…

Seeing Max again after last night was harder than she had anticipated. He appeared in the kitchen without warning, knocking the breath from her lungs. Feverishly, her eyes drank him in. Hair still damp from a shower, old faded jeans clinging to his hips, an old t-shirt, molding to that chest that she had slept on last night…

“Hey.” He spoke softly to everyone, but looked at her. The same yearning she felt was mirrored in his eyes and she had to look away quickly to gain control over herself. She wanted to rail at the unfairness of this situation. She had finally found the man she wanted to be with, and they were on opposite sides of a war.

At the breakfast table, Liz felt the weight of Max’s regard like a physical touch. She couldn’t help herself either and her eyes rose to meet his at regular intervals. Their gazes clung, saying things their mouths couldn’t admit out loud. She had no idea what she ate, but everyone’s praises told her that breakfast had been surprisingly good, in spite of having been prepared with dried goods that had been stored in the cabin. When the meal was finished, Liz had to stifle an audible sigh of relief. The ever-growing heat in Max’s eyes was echoing in the pit of her stomach, stoking her need for him. She had to get away before she embarrassed herself.

She was already on her feet when Doran asked what the plans for the day were.

Max had to drag his attention away from Liz to answer. “Michael and I will go talk to the soldiers about a new location. We might even do some scouting ourselves. Liz…” Her name came out slightly hoarse. “Liz should wait here and check her mail regularly. We need to get hold of Isabel as soon as possible. I don’t like us staying in this place too long. We might become sitting ducks.”

For once, Michael seemed happy with Max’s planning and nodded his agreement. In fact, as long as Max and Liz were not in one location, he was more than satisfied.

“How far are we from Roswell?” Liz kept her eyes carefully away from Max as she spoke.

“About two hours’ drive, I think,” Michael answered. “Why?”

“Well, I told Alex I was relatively close to Roswell to help us arrange a meeting time and place—”

“You mean you managed to convey all that in that little note?” Michael’s suspicion was back in full force. “Probably needed to keep things covert while you worked for that bastard, right?”

“Michael.” Max sounded infinitely weary. “Let’s just find Isabel and then worry about the future, okay?”

All he got from Michael was a curt nod.

After the preparations were completed, Max and Michael took their leave of the group staying behind at the cabin. Too afraid to hope for anything, Liz was surprised when Max stopped in front of her and traced a tender finger down her cheek. “Stay safe, okay?”

She only managed to stare at him numbly, her heart in her eyes.

“Liz…”

“Get a move on, Maxwell,” Michael ordered and dragged him off.

Liz felt like a part of her had been dragged off with him.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Khivar was furious. Again. “I thought you told me last night that the ship was destroyed?”

“It is!”

“Then what is this about survivors?” He was staring at an uncomfortable Nicholas with a terrifying glint in his eyes.

“Just that we had a small blip on the scanner just before the ship disintegrated. It might be nothing…”

“And it might be more Antarian royalists left alive.” Swinging around, Khivar absently took in the scenery outside his office window. People were hurrying through the streets, pretending that life was still normal. Poor idiots.

“I see I will have to postpone my visit to Ms Parker. Get as many soldiers as you can to scour all frequencies. We have to find those Antarians before they make trouble.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

By the time dusk rolled across the desert, coloring the sand in hues of orange and purple, Liz was ready to climb the walls. There had been no message from Alex yet and Max had stayed away the whole day too. She was desperately aware that she only had a limited time left with him before she had to go back to her real life. Maybe two days at the most. The thought made her incredibly miserable.

Maria had spent the day telling her about the resistance… and about Max. She now knew where Max and Isabel had gone to school and that he was a science geek just like her. The only weird moment had been when Maria told her about her mom who disappeared three years ago while working for the resistance.

“What was her name?” Liz had asked, dreading the answer.

“Amy DeLuca.” Maria had looked at her strangely as Liz desperately tried to hide her shock. “Why?”

“Just wondering,” Liz had croaked, fleeing to find a drink.

And then Max and Michael had returned, tired and sweaty from spending the day in the desert sun. Michael had taken off to a shower immediately, dragging Maria with him.

After watching them leave with a crooked smile, Max went to the kitchen, grabbing two cold bottles of water before turning to Liz and holding out his hand. “Take a walk with me?”

She entwined her fingers with his without demure.

They descended the steps of the cabin slowly and Max steered them towards a cluster of trees. He said nothing while they walked, just held on to her hand tightly, measuring his pace to suit hers.

The breeze was cool, ruffling her hair against her neck, but Liz was only aware of the heat of his body next to hers. Her heart beat loudly and painfully in her chest as each step brought them closer to that talk they so urgently needed to have.

Closer to more lies she had to tell this man that held her heart in the palm of his hands.

And closer to the moment of saying good-bye.


Chapter 12

The little hut in the mountains was sort of quaint, but Isabel wanted to go home. It was clear that Alex was working on some mysterious mission, but so far he had refused to divulge any information to her. At least now she had access to a bathroom regularly and that had improved her disposition a little, but her nerves were starting to get frayed. Alex’s unflappable attitude was not helping either.

“Are you not going to hand me over to Khivar then?”

Alex sighed, long and loud. Why did he have to end up spending all his time with this princess-wannabe? He must have had bad karma in his previous life. “No.”

“Are you going to let me go free?”

This time he just shrugged and continued stuffing things into a bag. “I need to go check my mail. My cell phone can’t get any reception here. You’ll have to come along I suppose.” He sounded so reluctant that Isabel wanted to smack him. Narrowing her eyes at his back, she wondered why her looks and charm wasn’t working on this guy. Maybe he was gay.

Snapping the case of his laptop closed, Alex took a look around the hut. It had one large living/sleeping/cooking area and a small bathroom through a door. Real estate agents would probably term this place “cozy and rustic”. He snorted. It was closer to claustrophobic if you were spending it with someone you didn’t choose to be with and who had a bad effect on your hormones.

Please, Liz. Be okay and come help me decide what to do with this alien girl!

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Michael, she loves him.” Maria was rubbing Michael’s hair vigorously with a towel after their shower. Sitting behind him on the bed, she missed him pulling a face.

“Life is not always about true love, Maria. She works for Khivar. Why is everyone conveniently forgetting this just because Max has the hots for her?”

This earned him a smack upside the head. “If you think that’s all he has for her, you are more clueless than I suspected! Have you not heard how he talks to her? He has a Liz-voice.” She crawled around until she could face him. “I’m not saying trust her with the keys to the kingdom, I’m saying just take into account that they are in love.” Cupping his face, she urged his eyes back to hers when he tried to look away from her. “They are in a horrible situation, Space Boy. Think of how we would have felt if we couldn’t be together.”

“Hmmpf, at least I wouldn’t have had to listen to endless yapping about feelings and stuff,” he muttered.

“Please, Michael, go easier on them.”

He sighed. “You drive me crazy, you know that?”

“Pleeaaase, Space Boy. Please, please, please, pl—”

“Oh for pity’s sake! Fine!” he snapped.

“Cool!” Maria bounced off the bed. “Now, just to show my appreciation, I’ll…” She tapped her finger on her chin, pretending to think.

“You’ll adore my body for a whole night?”

“Nah,” she grinned. “I’ll help you make dinner!”

“Maria!” His growl followed her hasty retreat from the room.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

His gentle golden eyes were going to be her downfall. Liz shivered under Max’s scrutiny, longing to just fall into his arms and forget about the rest of the world, including her self-imposed task to save humanity.

They had found a flat rock beneath the copse of trees some yards away from the cabin. After carefully helping her onto the rock, Max finally let go of her hand and she abruptly felt chilled. “Max…”

Holding up his hand, he smiled at her tenderly. “Let me start, please.”

He really has the most beautiful voice, she thought absently as she nodded. Especially when he uses that gentle tone.

Max stared down at her, suddenly unsure of where to begin. She was even more breathtaking in the dusk light and his heart ached with longing for a chance to share a life with her. But he could not ask her to do that. Shoving his hands into his pockets, he started pacing, debating what to say. This was so important to him and he did not want to mess it up.

Liz watched him prowling around restlessly and allowed herself the luxury of drinking in every little detail about him while his attention was away from her. His hair fell over his forehead in wispy bangs, so black that even the rays of the sun could not manage to find lighter streaks. His arms looked as strong as she knew they were, the muscles flexing as he moved. The line of his jaw, presently darkened by the shadow of a beard, fascinated her and she yearned to slide her tongue over the rough skin.

“I’m so sorry.”

His first words were not what she had expected at all. Instead of questioning her about her work, he was apologizing. A new rush of emotion clogged her throat.

“I was just supposed to see if you knew where Isabel was.” His shoulders lifted and dropped as he spoke, still facing away from her. “I had a team with me who knew what they were doing and I…” He turned around slowly, his gaze searching for hers, pleading for understanding. “I broke every rule there was.” Taking a small step closer to her, he froze again. “I shouldn’t have been alone with you at all. I should have stuck to just monitoring you in class like the plan said, but…” He smiled crookedly, self-deprecatingly. “We’d been on earth for three days, watching your lab. I—I heard you laugh. I hadn’t even seen you yet, but that laugh…” Shaking his head, he searched for the right words. “It got to me. I ignored my men and went to your course and after one look at you I… just… couldn’t stop being with you.”

Liz was enraptured. This was like a fairy-tale. Not in her wildest dreams had she ever expected to hear such sweet words from any man. He was still not referring to the vast chasm of being on different sides of a war that separated them – this was just about them.

“The more I got to know you, the more I fell under your spell. In spite of everything that was wrong with the situation, with us, I wished we could have a future.”

“So did I,” she answered him honestly, her eyes shimmering with unshed tears.

He sucked in a breath at her soft confession, taking another step closer but checking himself quickly. “Things got out of hand. I’ve never been so… impetuous in my life. I should never have gone to your apartment. I never meant to let things go so far. I just… couldn’t stay away.” His voice and eyes turned serious. “But you have to believe me when I say that I never intended to… link us like that. I’m still not sure what happened exactly, but I know I took advantage of—of the moment and—”

“You don’t want to be linked to me?” It even hurt just to speak the words.

Two steps brought him within touching distance, but still he kept his hands at his sides. “More than anything. But I didn’t really give you a choice—”

“You did.” She paused, her dark eyes shining up at him. “I said yes, Max.” Liz? he had asked. Yes, she had responded. You are mine.

They stared at each other in awed silence. How much had been going on beneath the surface of their frantic moments together, while both of them were too afraid to say out loud what they felt? While they were too caught up in trying to fight a battle for their causes and thought that snatched moments were all they would ever have?

This time, he raised his hand and caught a swath of silky hair between his fingers. Her admission that she had been a willing participant made his heart soar. “Yeah.” She had said yes. His smile could have lit up the sky.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Alex was concentrating so hard on the little dirt track they were traveling on, that he totally missed the peeved looks he was getting from Isabel. Hell, he thought, what am I going to do if Liz doesn’t turn up soon? The others won’t help me. He grimaced. And I’m stuck with an alien.

“Could you check when the phone gets reception, please?” He held his cell out to Isabel with one hand.

“Sure.” The exaggerated sweetness in her voice made him pause for a minute, but his worries were much bigger than the sensitivities of some girl. Could I just let her go? What would she tell her friends when she reaches them? He glanced at his blonde passenger, marveling again at the fact that she looked so… normal.

“What are you doing on earth?”

Isabel kept her eyes on the little display window of the phone in her hand, not wanting to show him how much it still upset her that people thought of her as a freak. “Why, we’re trying to colonize the planet, didn’t Khivar tell you?”

Alex chuckled. “Okay, so apart from that, what are you doing here?”

Giving him a sidelong glance, Isabel figured she didn’t have much to lose and told him her life story.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The silence had stretched between them while Max continued to sift strands of her hair through his fingers. Liz was afraid to talk, afraid she would shatter this intensely intimate moment. Around them, night was falling and she had to squash a moment of fear about what tomorrow would bring.

“I wish…” he breathed, as if speaking aloud his thoughts without realizing.

“Me too.”

I wish I had met you earlier.
I wish we weren’t so very different.
I wish things were normal.
I wish I could just take you and go someplace else where no one knows our names and where we can just be us, Max and Liz.


Her heart thudded painfully in her chest as she spoke the next words, hating them, but knowing they had to be said. “I have to go back to—”

Pressing his fingers against her lips, he cut her off. “Let’s not think about the future.” Could this hurt anymore? His voice gained urgency. “We have today and tomorrow and I would really like to get to know you. The real you.” His fingers started caressing her bottom-lip and his eyes followed their movements. “I want to just spend time with you, be close. We have a few days during which we share the same goal. Let’s concentrate on that.”

Her heart nearly melted when he smiled that crooked smile of his again.

“Let’s… pretend. Please?” His eyes were pleading earnestly.

She stared up at him mutely. How she longed to just give in, to pretend for a short blissful period that her life wasn’t so complicated. That Max was just a normal guy, crazily in love with her. That their marriage was real and had a future. That she could just love him without question.

“I…”

Pulling her to her feet, he wrapped his arm around her waist, holding her close. His right hand tunneled beneath her hair, cupping the back of her head. “Please,” he said again. “I’m not asking you for… something physical. I—I just want us to just be together, no strings attached.”

Without conscious thought, she pressed against him, her arms creeping around his back as she absorbed his heat, his unique scent, the solidness of his body, the sound of his slightly erratic breathing, the strength of his embrace. Home. Once again, she felt like she had come home.

Could she do this? Would it not be so much harder to leave when they had had time to be close?

Max pressed his cheek against her temple, his breath feathering through her hair as he spoke fervently. “Will you give me that, Liz? Will you give me these few days?”

“Yes.” Her answer to this man was always ‘yes’.”

They clung together in relief at the respite they were giving each other until Michael yelled that dinner was ready.

Max wished he could see her better, but the darkness hid her inner thoughts from him. Liz was holding onto his hand tightly when he stepped away from their embrace. He had been serious when he had told her he only wanted to get to know her better, this was not the time to start a sexual relationship, no matter how much he wanted her. This was a time to show her he loved her and cared about her, not complicate things further for her. However, how he was going to manage to keep his hands off her he wasn’t sure.

“Maybe we shouldn’t tell the others…” Max wanted his time with Liz to be without pressure from outside. Michael was doing his job protecting his Prince, but his overbearing manner will just make Liz more nervous.

“How about we just say nothing at all,” Liz supplied, her genuine grin nearly knocking the breath from his lungs.

Walking back slowly in silence, they each pondered what these next few days might bring, wondering if it would be as life-changing as the last time they had been together, praying it would be long enough to tide them over during the lonely time that was coming.

“Max?”

“Yeah, sweetheart?”

After a moment of shocked surprise about the instinctive endearment, she took a deep breath and plunged ahead. “Will you… hold me again tonight?” She gave him back his plea in a voice husky with longing. “Please?”

A short hitch in his breath and then a rough whisper. “Yes.”

tbc

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LivE
Addicted Roswellian
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13+14

Post by LivE » Sun Jun 13, 2004 11:48 am

Chapter 13

Dinner was absolute torture for Max. It took all of his strength to maintain a calm and normal façade when all he wanted to do was drag Liz off to a room for some time alone. He felt euphoric about the fact that Liz had not tried to lie about her feelings for him. Until she had admitted that she was just as involved in what was happening between them as he was, he had not realized how much he had wanted her to say out loud what he had sensed from her when connecting. And then she had knocked him sideways with the request that he stay with her tonight! He suspected she had been oblivious to the full effect those words had had on him. Rationally, he had known that tonight would be nothing more than last night—it would be unfair of him to get sexually involved with her when he couldn’t promise her a future–-but his imagination had run wild. Images of her, naked and flushed beneath him had rushed through his mind with such force that he had felt feverish with lust for a few moments.

The intensity of his reaction had rocked him to his soul. Yes, he had seen beautiful women before, even women much more beautiful than Liz. And yes, he had sometimes wondered what it would be like to finally make love with someone. But never had he experienced what Liz had managed to evoke with only a few small words. She hadn’t uttered anything overtly flirty or provocative and still she had nearly driven him mindless.

His very next thought had been one of insane jealousy. He never wanted her to ask any other man to stay with her for a night. That overpowering sense of possessiveness he had felt ever since he first met Liz had come roaring out of its hiding place. How he wished that the signs of his Royal House on her neck were visible–-he wanted them to act as a warning to anyone else: she is mine. The thought that she might fall in love with someone else one day was unbearable.

Then he kicked himself. Reality was very different from his imagined perfect world. Reality dictated that he let her go once they’d found Isabel. Reality put them in opposing camps of a war. Reality meant that in spite of her acquiescence to their linking, she wasn’t really his. The unfairness of the world made him want to yell in fury. How could the universe bring him all the way to this small out-of-the-way planet and allow him to meet this girl who seemed like the other half of him, just to pull them apart again. It was like dangling water in front of a man dying of thirst, letting him see heaven, only to snatch it away.

“Max?” Liz’s soft question brought him out of his reverie to find himself staring at her so fiercely that it was a wonder she hadn’t run off in a panic. “Is everything okay?” Seeing her look at him with those wide expressive eyes, filled with love and more than enough heat twisted his gut, causing him to jerk his gaze away.

“Sure,” he said shortly, wincing inwardly at how callous he sounded. Noticing that Maria was watching him with a speculative look, he forced himself to concentrate on his dinner. Tomorrow they would hopefully find Isabel and that will end this torture of being with Liz but not really being with her.

And tomorrow would start a whole new kind of torture.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Thank God!” Alex cried loudly when he saw the message from Liz. He hadn’t allowed himself to think too much about what could have happened to her, but the relief at seeing her name in his inbox was overwhelming. Hastily clicking on the message and scanning through it, his frown increased. Liz wanted Isabel back urgently? That sounded ominous. Not to mention that she had apparently not been able to inject herself lately.

“What’s going on?” Isabel was still sitting in her seat, but he had gotten out of the car and opened the laptop on the hood of the vehicle. She was staring at him through the windshield curiously.

“Liz is back,” was all he was prepared to say, his fingers already flying over the keyboard.

VERY glad you are safely back from your trip. I will bring the notes of the experiment tomorrow at 15h00, but be advised that the experiment is CONTAMINATED. Take extreme caution. Ink for the printer is not a problem. We can meet at the old farmhouse. Again, I’m very glad you’re back! Alex.

There, that should tell Liz that he would bring Isabel, but that she was an alien.

“How do you know the message was from Liz?” Isabel had stuck her head out of the window and was resting her chin on her forearm. She had seen Liz a few times when she had initially been locked up at the lab about three weeks ago. They had started moving her around after that and she can only remember seeing Liz once or twice after that. “Are you in love with her?” Isabel surprised herself by asking.

Staring at her in astonishment, Alex wondered where that came from. Then an idea formed in his mind, maybe he could use Liz as an excuse to keep the blonde at arms length. Lord knows, he needed something to stay away from her, and the fact that she was an alien wasn’t doing it…

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

After dinner, Liz went off to check her mail and Max used the time to take a shower. He ran into Maria on the way back to his room and suddenly he just needed to talk to someone about Liz. “Maria, do you have a minute?”

Hearing the uncertain note in Max’s voice, Maria changed course immediately. “Sure.”

They went to Max’s room and Maria perched on the bed as he went over to the window, staring out into the black night unseeingly.

“Are you worried about Isabel?”

Casting a look over his shoulder at Maria, he admitted it for the first time, he was worried about his sister. He had been too afraid to think about her much, afraid that he would lose it if he allowed all the possibilities of the situation into his mind. But what if Isabel was not… No, she was still alive. She had to be.

That was not what he needed to talk to Maria about, though.

“I don’t know how I’m going to let her go, ‘Ria.” She’s in my blood and my heart, part of me.

“Are you sure she wants you to let her go?”

He took a long time to think the question over before answering. “I don’t think she wants to go, but I think she feels she has to.” Shoving his hands through his hair in a furious movement, he expelled a frustrated breath. “I hate this!”

“Take what you can from the moment, Max,” Maria told him firmly. “Who knows what tomorrow will bring? You can’t let that ruin today.”

She was right, he admitted. He should stick to his decision of making the most of what time he had with Liz and not let the uncertainty of the future detract from that.

“Is she really working for Khivar?”

Max looked at Maria sharply. “Why do you ask that?”

“It’s just, there are so many things that don’t add up. Khivar hasn’t launched a nation-wide search for her yet. And if he’s got Isabel, he must know about you by now. Why hasn’t he contacted you with some kind of demand?”

“If she wasn’t working for Khivar, wouldn’t she have told us that? She should know by now that we are on a different side.”

“She reacted really weirdly when I talked about my mother.” Maria stood up and walked over to Max, joining him at the window. “She could have been involved with my mother’s kidnapping… But she looked… sick when I told her.”

“Why are you telling me this?” Max stared down at his friend questioningly. How did she know how much he wished that Liz was not what she seemed to be?

“To tell you that you shouldn’t just take things at face-value and give up too soon. If I had done that, I would never have gotten Michael into a relationship.”

A faint smile curved the one corner of Max’s mouth upward. “That’s true.” He paused, remembering something else that bugged him. “Can I ask you a question about you and—and Michael?”

Maria grinned impishly. “Yes, sex is safe between a human and an alien. No, nothing weird has ever happened—”

“Maria!” He felt his face flush. “Nothing weird, huh? Not even… You haven’t… seen things when he… kisses you?”

“Seen things?” Maria looked nonplussed.

“You know, like stuff from his past… memories.”

“No,” she replied, frowning at him. “Did something like that happen between you and Liz?”

But Max turned away from her, suddenly not feeling comfortable with sharing such an intimate moment with her. “Thanks ‘Ria.”

Maria was still shaking her head when she left the room.

“Alex mailed back!” Liz’s breathless cry in the hallway brought Max out of the room too. “He has Isabel and he will bring her to an old diner on route 285 tomorrow at three!” Her joy was shining from her eyes as she spoke to Max, genuinely happy that she could be giving him this good news.

Max felt a knot around his heart ease—Isabel was safe. “Thank you,” he told Liz, his voice gruff with emotion.

Liz had to forcibly restrain herself from running over to give him a hug.

“It better not be a trap,” Michael said from his doorway, earning him a smack on the arm from Maria.

“It won’t be,” Liz assured him, but she was still looking at Max.

“We all need to get some sleep then,” Max said after a long silence. And Liz’s pulse skyrocketed at the underlying hunger in his words.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Her breath stopped when he entered her room an hour later. She had been too keyed up to get in bed, and instead, she was perched on the edge, wearing drawstring pants and a tank top. Now that he was here, she felt inordinately shy and her gaze skittered away from his. “Hi,” she whispered.

He was next to her in an instant, his hands tenderly brushing her hair behind her ears. “Don’t be nervous,” he urged her. “It’s just me… just us.”

Nodding, she scooted back on the bed, getting beneath the sheet, unable not to stare as he followed her. He was wearing a T-shirt and boxers, but he still looked ridiculously sexy.

Once beside her, he pulled her into his arms, spooning her body against his, holding her tightly, almost convulsively.

And that was all he did.

Liz could hear the increased tempo of his breathing and felt her own pulse speed up. Why wasn’t he kissing her? Twisting around, she startled Max into letting her go and raising himself up on an elbow.

“Is something wrong?” His voice sounded husky, strained.

Shifting higher on the pillow, Liz slid closer to him, not taking her eyes of his. He would only have to lean forward, a matter of inches, and their lips would meet. He saw the awareness and desire fill her eyes at the same moment. It was the wrong time. It was the wrong place. But it was the only time and place they had.

“Max—”

“Shh…” Max whispered as he closed the small distance. He simply had to kiss her.

So different. That was the first thought that moved through Liz’s mind. His lips barely brushed hers before she felt his tongue at the corner of her mouth. Lifting her hands, she framed his face and tried to draw him closer. But even when his mouth pressed more fully against hers, he wouldn’t be rushed. Slowly, carefully, he explored her mouth with his tongue as if it were the first time, as if he had all the time in the world. He sucked at her bottom-lip, teasing a small sound from her throat.

Always before, there’d been such urgency, such demand. And Liz could feel it this time too, simmering beneath the surface.

Tempting her to unleash it.

When he lifted his mouth from hers to explore her neck, to whisper her name in her ear, feelings swirled through her. She’d wanted him before, but not this sharply. She’d needed him before, but not with this kind of ache. Hunger made her call out his name.

Drawing back, he looked into her eyes. She tried to remember that this was all wrong. The time. The place. But she couldn’t. Wrapping her arms around him, she drew his mouth back to hers. Nothing had ever been so right.

One more taste, Max promised himself as her lips parted beneath his, inviting him in. Her mouth held a sweetness that he would always crave. You are mine. He pulled her tighter against him, locking their bodies perfectly together, not even trying to hide his reaction to her.

It felt so right. Even as the thought formed in his mind, he felt himself tumbling over the edge. Control, something he prided himself on, slipped away like it always did when he was with Liz. He slid his fingers into her hair—to hold onto her as the kiss got deeper, hungrier. Deep within himself, he felt something stir to life.

And with it came the flashes.

Images of him.

“We have to do this, Alex, we can’t let Khivar win.”

More images of him.


Tearing his mouth from hers, he gasped her name between labored breaths, staring at her as if he was seeing her for the first time.

“What? What did you see?” She sounded panicked.

“Stuff from your childhood,” he mumbled. I love you, he wanted to add. You are the most amazing person I’ve ever met. And I love you even more now.

But none of that passed his lips. What he had seen in those flashes re-affirmed his view that Liz was one of the most courageous people he knew. Maybe he’ll tell her tomorrow that he now knew she wasn’t really working for Khivar. Tonight they had some catching up to do.

Fisting his hand in her hair, he covered her parted mouth with his once more, groaning when her tongue teased his back. His hands shaped the slim lines of her body, lingering on her breasts, the dip of her waist, the swell of her bottom. They couldn’t stop kissing.

Max pulled away from her abruptly, yanking his shirt over his head before pulling her back into his arms and burying his face in the crook of her neck. The skin there was soft as silk and begged him to taste it. He gloried in her gasp as his tongue sneaked out to touch her.

Liz felt on fire. He was doing things to her she had never experienced before. She had spent her life studying, working, away from guys. This was new. And yet so familiar. His breath was warm against her skin, causing a small shiver to race through her body. She reveled in his bare chest, her fingers tracing the contours of his muscles.

Max’s lips had found the sensitive spot below her ear where his invisible mark rested. As he brushed his mouth across it, Liz arched against him violently in reaction, her fingernails digging into his flesh. Rearing away from her, he stared down at her. “You’ve never done this before, have you?”

She didn’t even try to pretend she had no idea what he meant. “No.”

A surge of lust tore through his body as a result of the admission. No other man had ever been this close to her! He ground his teeth to stop himself from telling her that no other man would ever be this close to her. He really had no right to do that.

“Max?” She was looking up at him hesitantly, her face still flushed with passion.

He turned her over with a smothered groan, pulling her back against his chest. “We should go to sleep,” he forced himself to say over the clamoring of his body. He couldn’t take something so precious from her without being able to promise her a future.

“Are you mad?” she asked after a long silence.

He sighed, still battling the effects of desire racing through his veins. “Not at you, at the whole situation. I wish so much things could be different.”

Finding his hand pressed to her womb, she laced her fingers with his. “Me too.”

Lying quietly, Liz listened to Max’s breathing slow. Alex better be there tomorrow and take her away from this man. Before she got in so deep that she would throw away all she had worked for. Before Max became more important to her than her cause.

If it wasn’t already too late…


Chapter 14

Sleeping close to Liz meant sharing dreams. Max woke up with Liz still spooned tightly against his chest. His heart was racing frantically as fear for Liz’s safety gripped his heart—he couldn’t let her go back to Khivar, back to doing what she had been doing before. Khivar would kill her in a heartbeat if he knew she was double-crossing him. On the other hand, Max knew she wouldn’t listen to him and that he really had no right to stop her from doing what she thought was best for humanity. But this latest dream would haunt him till his dying day.

“Khivar is coming,” a pale Alex announced as he put down the phone.

“We are ready, Alex, the serum is working, I’m sure of it.”

Alex paced in agitation, raking his fingers through his hair repeatedly. “We won’t
know if the serum is working until they try their mind rape. How can we know?”

Liz wasn’t feeling as certain as she pretended either. She had been working for Khivar for mere months and almost all her time had gone into the research for this serum. Their prisoner would be the guinea pig. It was someone from the resistance, someone who knew things, and if Khivar gets info from this woman, their serum, providing a chemical block to mind rape and the tracking “brand” Khivar puts on all his followers and prisoners, would have been a failure. She bit her lip, the childhood nervous reaction manifesting again. Still, the serum had to work—she had improved on a formula her own group was using and a mildly successful one that the resistance had manufactured. The other two serums only worked if it is administered just before the mind rape. It had kept Liz and Alex safe so far, since they always knew when Khivar was coming, but Liz’s serum was something that would be active inside the body for days, providing a more secure protection against prolonged alien efforts to mind rape.

Khivar had come alone this time, supremely confident of his own power and superiority over puny humans. Liz was terrified, if something went wrong here today, they were all dead.

“Liz Parker, my favorite little scientist!”

His eyes, cold and lustful, slid over her like icy fingers and Liz fought not to shudder in reaction. Instead, she smiled back at him in flirtation, attempting to look awed by him. Khivar was a handsome man and he knew it. He had a devastating smile and a sculpted body that he used to his own advantage at every opportunity. Liz suspected that the only reason he hadn’t tried to sleep with her yet was that she was valuable to his organization. That didn’t stop him from acting like she was one of his possessions, though.

He leered at her as he walked over, sliding his hand under her hair and running his fingertips over the point at the base of her skull where he had implanted his “mark” on her. “You are looking delectable as always.”

Alex’s loud throat clearing drowned out Liz’s breathless thank you. “The prisoner is waiting for you, Khivar.”

Frowning at the interruption, Khivar let his hand drop away from Liz. “Let’s hope we can make some progress this time. Nicholas is obviously a fool since he has never gotten us anything truly useful from any of our prisoners. How is it possible that none of the resistance members we’ve had here knew anything of real consequence?” He was stalking down the corridor towards their holding room now, Liz and Alex trailing hurriedly in his wake. The lab, the rooms where the prisoners were held and the short hallways were all a pristine white. Cold and impersonal. What a frightening sight it must be for the people that enter here never to leave again.

The prisoner was sitting on a small cot, her arms tightly folded against her stomach. Please hold on! Liz urged her silently as they watched Khivar approach her.

“What is her name?”

The woman’s head snapped up, hate burning in her eyes. “I can speak for myself.” She got to her feet a little drunkenly resulting in a worried glance between Alex and Liz—would their plan be revealed?

“Your resistance movement is pathetic,” Khivar told her in a hard voice. “You know nothing about these other aliens you are so desperately supporting in the hope that they will save you all.” His tone changed, became more conversational. “I will enlighten you. Zan is weak and selfish. He will not do anything for you lot. So you might as well—”

“Then why…” The woman was fighting for a normal breath, “haven’t you caught him yet? If he’s… so inconsequential, why are you all the way here on this ‘puny’ planet looking for him?” Her voice gained strength as she spoke, virtually spitting the last words in Khivar’s face.

“Shut up,” Khivar roared, grabbing hold of the woman by her upper arms. Liz had never seen him lose his cool to such an extent and she took an involuntary step backwards.

The next few moments were pure horror. Khivar gripped the woman’s head, nearly crushing her skull with the force of his hold, causing a small whimper to escape from her throat. Closing his eyes in concentration, he poured all his strength into forcing himself into her mind. It all looked so… harmless from the outside.

Until the prisoner started convulsing uncontrollably, harsh gasps for breath lifting her chest.

Paralyzed with fear and revulsion, Liz leaned back against the wall, pressing her palms against the cold plaster in a desperate attempt to keep from crumbling to the floor. Next to her she could hear Alex’s loud breathing as he too struggled with making it through this scene.

It felt endless. And in Liz’s heart, her hatred for aliens grew.

Finally, after what felt like an eternity, the woman slumped in Khivar’s hold and he tossed her away from him like a rag doll. “Nothing significant,” he said grimly. Whirling around towards Liz and Alex who were still frozen to their spots, he waved a hand at the woman. “Get rid of her body.” Then he stormed out of the room.

Only then did Liz allow the shaking in her soul to consume her body too. She felt sick, her stomach roiling in reaction to the careless disregard for life she had just witnessed. Slowly she slid down the wall until she was on the floor. Her eyes wouldn’t leave the crumpled body of the prisoner.

Their serum had worked.

But at what price?

A small sob tore through her lungs. “Oh God, Amy, I’m s-so s-sorry!”


“Noo…”

The soft moan tore through his gut with sharp claws. Liz was still in the midst of this terrible dream/memory. Max pushed himself up on an elbow and tugged her onto her back. Tears were slipping from beneath her closed eyelids, increasing the ache in his heart. He caressed the moistness away with his thumbs and gathered her closer, enveloping her body with his own. “Shh…” he whispered as he held her, “everything is fine now”. Her shivering slowly lessened, but her small hands continued to grip him urgently.

“Not Max too, please no…”

The sound of his name, laced with so much anguish, shocked him into stillness momentarily. He reared back from her, but she was still asleep. Tenderly he brushed her hair from her face and rested his forehead against hers as he continued to soothe her with his fingers. “Shh,” he repeated, “I’m here.”

“Max?” A breath of a question.

Pressing his lips to her temple, he kept his words soft. “I’ll always be here.” If you’ll let me.

Liz lay quietly in his embrace for long moments, slowly calming down as Max continued to whisper words of comfort, continued to wrap her in his love. After what felt like hours as he agonized about her distress, her long eyelashes flickered against his cheek, signaling that she was finally waking up.

Lifting himself away, Max stared down at Liz. “Are you okay now?”

Mutely she nodded. Raising her hand to slide it down his rough cheek in wonder at his caring. And gradually the timber of the embrace changed as they became aware of the fact that she was pinned beneath him, his knee wedged between her thighs.

Their gazes locked, their breathing became ragged.

His long finger reached for her mouth, stroked across the soft, sensitive flesh of her bottom lip. The smile that tipped his lips was tender, telling her he coveted what he touched.

“Max…” This time it was a sigh filled with longing.

An agonized groan rumbled up from his chest and he buried his face in her neck, as if struggling with an internal battle. His silky hair tickled her jaw and his hot, moist breath caressed her throat. He shifted his weight slightly, causing his thigh to press against her sensitive core.

Liz inhaled sharply as sensations clamored within her. His unmistakable arousal pressed against her hip, throbbing with desire, matching the pulse he had created deep inside her.

“Max, I need you.” The words tumbled out heedlessly, unplanned and unbidden. She watched as his eyes widened then squeezed shut before opening again, filled with an agony of longing.

“I need you too, but…” He took a deep breath. “I—I can’t do this… take you and just… leave you the next day. If… if we ever do this, it has to be the start of forever together.”

Her hunger made her bold. “I’m not asking for everything, Max, just… something for us to share. Tonight.”

His whole body went rigid for a moment before he turned her gently over until she lay on her side, facing away from him. Liz felt acute disappointment at his action, until he pulled her back against him and whispered ‘okay’.

She settled fully against him, her bottom nestled against his rock-hard groin. And waited.

Max was on new terrain, but he was determined to give Liz an experience she would remember. Gently, he slid his thigh between hers, lifting her top leg over his. Starting slow, he pushed up her tank top a little and brushed his fingers along her belly, moving higher beneath her top. Liz flinched at the sudden contact and a swell of tenderness filled his chest.

“Close your eyes, sweetheart. Just feel.” Forget about tomorrow and anything but this moment.

Feeling her relax, he nuzzled the side of her neck where his mark lay at the same time he cupped her breasts in his palms, filling his hands with her warm flesh. They moaned in unison at the new and wonderful experience.

Liz was squirming against him, so he slid one hand from beneath her top to smooth over her hip and thigh. Slowly he petted her everywhere but where she burned the most for his touch. Drawing another fortifying breath, he finally let his hand drift over her quivering stomach, just above the waistband of her drawstring pants.

Liz turned her head towards him and opened her eyes. Her dark eyes were almost black with arousal and the sight made his gut clench with need. “Don’t tease. Touch me, please,” she urged in a voice husky with impatience. Her hand lifted to his cheek as she twisted so their mouths could meet. Her fingers tangled in the hair at the nape of his neck and she inexorably drew his lips to hers. “Please.”

Their parted lips met and she clung to him, drawing his tongue into her mouth. One kiss melted into another as they poured their desire into the open-mouthed caresses.

And then he slipped his hand into her pants and touched her intimately, finding her wet and eager. At his first stroke, her groan vibrated against his lips. Splaying his free hand over her stomach to hold her firmly in place, he deepened his exploration, his body screaming in agonized reaction to the sensation of being able to caress her like this. He was shuddering with need, but he fought his primal impulse to just complete his possession of her and be damned the consequences. This was for Liz. His Liz. And he would do it right.

Her climax was furious and intense and sudden, her entire body convulsing against his, his name a drawn-out muffled moan against his mouth. Swallowing all her sounds, he wrapped his free arm around her and held her as waves of pure, blissful fulfillment engulfed her.

With a final shudder, she wrenched her mouth from his and slumped back against him. Their harsh breathing was the only sound disturbing the silence in the room. Pressing his face into her neck, against his mark, Max left his hand buried against her as he struggled to gain enough composure to control the pulsing, wild need in his groin. The need to make her his in this final and irreversible way. The need to be her first lover. Her only lover. The need to tie her to him so comprehensively that she would never be able to leave his side again. To keep her away from Khivar and from harm.

“Max?” Liz felt like her body was warm melted wax. Dimly she thought she should probably be shy after what she had just shared with him, after how she had let him touch her, but she couldn’t. Not when it felt right like very few other things in her life did. Right that Max was the first man to be this intimate with her. Right that he was the first man to witness her in the throes of an orgasm. And right that he was Max… the alien. It went against everything she believed in, but she didn’t care what he was anymore. She wanted him, the man who held her and looked at her with such overwhelming gentleness. Max. She wanted Max.

“Shh,” he was saying against her ear, hugging her closely as he finally slid his hand away from the apex of her thighs. “Go to sleep now.”

“But you—”

“Shh, sweetheart. I’m not important.”

Yes, you are, she wanted to say, but he was murmuring ‘thank you’ and brushing his lips over her temple.

The languorous results of his lovemaking were catching up with her, dragging at her limbs and eyelids, but she laced her fingers with his and brought his hand back to her breast, pressing it close. “Sheyleth…” The term slipped from her just as sleep claimed her.

Max’s breath hitched in his throat before he repeated the Antarian word. “Sheyleth.” Lover. Keeper of my body. Tightening his arms around her, he pressed his cheek against hers, his lips resting close to her ear and finally said the words he couldn’t say when she was awake. “I love you.” And I don’t know how I’m going to walk away from you.

tbc

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LivE
Addicted Roswellian
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15+16

Post by LivE » Tue Jun 22, 2004 3:37 pm

Chapter 15

He was alone when he woke up, his arms empty of the girl who had managed to become a part of him so quickly. Max rolled over, seeing the dull gray of dawn outside the window. Where could Liz be at this time of the morning? He so very much wanted to wake up with her still here, just once.

Liz was sitting outside on the top step, arms around her knees, staring sightlessly towards the lightening horizon. She was in serious, serious trouble. For three years, she’s been working against… beings like Max Evans, but last night was the final seal in her coffin. Max was not selfish or egotistical or evil or anything she had believed aliens to be. He was the complete opposite. He was more human than a lot of the humans she’d come into contact with during her life. But how can she just drop the people that were counting on her? Wouldn’t that be a selfish act in itself? Could she really just go after her own happiness and ignore the best interests of all those people she’d been working to help over the last few years?

Her musings were interrupted when a pair of powerful bare thighs suddenly bracketed her hips and strong arms embraced her tightly as Max settled behind her. “Hey,” he murmured, nuzzling her ear. The slightly raspy morning tone of his voice made her shiver with pleasure. She was so far gone for this man!

“Morning,” she replied quietly, scooting back until her bottom was pressed into his boxer-clad groin and her back plastered against his still bare chest.

“Are you always up this early?” He sounded amused.

“No, not really. I… I just had to think about a few things.”

She felt him stiffen behind her, his arms tightening around her involuntarily. “Oh? Have—have you come to any conclusions that I should know about?”

Hearing the hesitancy in his voice, she realized truly for the first time, how much power she had over this man. How much power they had over each other. Loving someone means giving them the power to hurt you like no one else could. Abruptly, she felt like crying. “Max, I wish I could… stay, but—”

“I know,” he interrupted her. “I know,” he repeated softly, sliding his fingers beneath her top to trace circles on her stomach.

Turning her face towards him, she leaned her cheek against his lips, breathing in deeply in an attempt to absorb his scent into her body. Lifting her hands, she curled her fingers around his thighs, clinging to him, hearing his soft inhalation at her touch.

They sat like that for a long time, staring off into the distance. The sounds of the desert waking up surrounded them—the cries of birds in the distance, the rustle of the morning breeze through the copse of trees, the scurrying sound of a lizard on the sand.

“Liz…” Max had been stressing about telling her what he learnt from his flashes last night. But he couldn’t bear to let her go back to all that danger, so he had no choice. “I know, Liz.”

Liz felt all the air leave her lungs. “Know what?” she croaked.

“That… that you’re not working for him.” Khivar. The name remained unspoken between them.

Liz wasn’t sure what to say.

“Were you ever going to tell me?”

“Yes.” It came out unequivocally.

“When?”

“I… Before I left.” She had planned to leave him a letter, explaining how she felt and what she must do.

Another pause filled with unuttered questions.

“I don’t get it,” he finally said in a voice filled with confusion. “You don’t work for Khivar and I work with the resistance too, so—”

“I don’t.” Her head was bent as she stated this. “I don’t work for the resistance.”

His hands stopped their caressing touches. “You don’t work for the resistance?”

Liz shook her head.

“Then—”

“Max, I work for people who don’t want any aliens on earth,” she broke in, scrambling out of his arms so she could kneel between his legs and look into his eyes. His beautiful, hurt eyes. Her hand was shaking as she lifted it to his face, tracing the now beloved contours of his jaw. “We want our planet back, Max. This is not our war you and Khivar are fighting here, but our people are dying as a result.” She saw a flash of pain in his eyes and winced at her own words. “I don’t know what to do. I—I don’t want to leave you. I don’t want you to leave me, but… I owe these people. They paid for my training and they’ve kept me alive while I tried to help the people that Khivar caught and brought to the lab. I have to keep on doing that. He is a monster, he has no regard for the life of a human being.”

Max caught her face in his hands. “You can’t go back there,” he said urgently. “Don’t go, please! Don’t you see? It’s bad enough that you work against him, but if he ever finds out you’re my… that you’ve been with me, it will be even worse.”

It stunned Liz that he was more worried about her safety than about the fact that she was working for a group that wanted to remove him from earth. He was looking at her so pleadingly that she took the initiative for the first time, leaning forward to press her lips against his.

Groaning, he kissed her back with desperation, opening his mouth over hers and parting hers with an insistent tongue. His right hand found her rear, arching her into intimate contact with his arousal. She whimpered against his mouth, so very addicted to his kisses. He put his all into each kiss and it was incredibly arousing to have all his intensity concentrated on her.

Doran came to a halt at the corner of the cabin, not wanting to disturb the intimate scene on the steps. His lie about not knowing if a link can be undone was worth it. These two belonged together. It was a strange thing to admit for an alien mentor who was sent not only to protect his Royal charges, but also to make sure they ended up with the right partners. Well, the 17 years on earth had changed him too and he’d much rather see Max happy than in a political liaison. Max needed someone to love him for himself, not for being the heir to the throne of a whole planet or because he was an alien with strange powers, but because he was Max. As Doran watched, Max’s hand curled around Liz neck, angling her face for a deeper kiss and lighting up the sign of the Royal House of Antar that still rested below her ear. Yes, he did the right thing, he thought, as he silently turned around and left them alone.

The kiss was endless and somewhere in the midst of it, Max lifted Liz into his lap, wrapping her legs around his waist, bringing their lower bodies into intimate contact. Liz’s gasp interrupted the melding of their mouths momentarily, but he couldn’t get enough of her, so he kissed other places—like her jaw-line, her ear, her neck and her throat. All the while, Liz’s hands roamed his chest, touching, caressing, kneading, making him mad to have her. He was about two seconds from losing it here, on the front steps of the cabin where anyone could see them, when she rubbed herself rhythmically against his erection.

Liz was dazed when he pulled back, taking great gulps of air to try and get hold of himself. He pushed her hair behind her ears and grabbed her hands, stilling them against his racing heart. “Stop, please, or I’ll…”

Folding her tightly against him, he held her until they calmed their breathing and their bodies somewhat.

“It’s a good thing I didn’t meet you when I was sixteen,” he told her huskily, a smile in his voice.

“Oh?” she played along, knowing he wanted to get them back to normal somehow.

He chuckled quietly. “Hey, I had the same hormones every other guy had. I would have been trying to get in your pants so fast…” He fell silent, remembering that he probably wouldn’t have done that. He would have had to watch this girl from afar and dream, all the while knowing he was different from her, that he would have to leave her one day.

“I would have let you.” Her whisper rocked him to his soul and he blinked back the tears that suddenly filled his eyes. Tears of frustration at the unfairness of it all. Tears because Liz Parker was all he ever dreamed his love would be and so much more. And now he would have to let her go.

“Don’t go back to him, Liz, please.” It was torn from him. “I’d die if something happened to you.”

“I have to,” she replied fiercely. “Please understand. I—I need to help my people.”

He wanted to ask if someone else can’t do it, but he knew they couldn’t. Liz had more knowledge in her head than anyone else and she was ideally positioned to help the people Khivar brought to the lab and also to learn what he was planning.

“Are you angry?” she asked softly, leaning back so she could meet his gaze.

“No.” He looked deeply into her eyes, urging her to see his honesty. “Your people don’t know anything about me or my followers. All they had to go on was Khivar and his misdeeds. Why should they trust me if I say that we have no intention to take over earth?”

Her eyes were moist as she hugged him. “I—I trust you…” The words were breathed against his neck and she felt him freeze. His fingers tightened painfully in her hair.

“You do?”

“Yes.” And she did. In spite of all that was wrong with this situation, she knew Max would never do anything to harm her or humanity intentionally.

“Oh God, Liz!” He was shaking against her. “Come back to bed, I need to… Let me just… Come back to bed.” He started rising. “Hold on.”

Liz had no intention of letting go at all. She felt light as air after telling him the truth. It probably didn’t change much about their future, but it felt glorious not to have this secret between them anymore.

The powerful bunching of his muscles as he stood up, still holding her in his arms, ripped a small moan from her throat. She wanted to be as close to him as humanly possible. She wanted them to make memories that will last them forever. Who cares if the circumstances were terrible? Who cares if the cabin had two other people sleeping in the room next to theirs?

Max had been striding through the living area of the cabin like he was being chased by wild dogs when he came to a sudden halt. Liz twisted her neck to see what was going on and found Michael standing in the entrance to the hallway, his hands on his hips. He had an unreadable expression on his face.

“Michael,” Max sounded firm, “out of my way.”

“I would like to,” Michael said mildly, “but we have a problem.” He flicked a glance at Liz, who was now trying to get Max to let her stand on her own two feet. “I need to speak to you, privately.”

“Michael, if this is some scheme to keep me from—”

“No, it isn’t.”

The look in Michael’s eyes convinced Max that something important truly had come up and he let Liz out of his arms reluctantly. She was blushing profusely and if he hadn’t been frustrated as hell, he would probably have been embarrassed too.

“I’ll go shower,” Liz mumbled, moving away from him.

He held onto her hand until the last moment and watched until she disappeared around the corner before turning to Michael.

Raising an eyebrow at Max’s state of undress, not to mention his state of arousal, Michael walked out of the cabin, sitting down on the steps. He waited until Max had settled next to him before talking. “We got a call from the resistance. Khivar knows there were survivors from the ship.” Michael paused. “Maxwell, he’s started a nation-wide search for the survivors. We have to go into hiding as soon as we have Iz back.”

Max was silent for a few moments before reacting. “Or we can stop hiding and finish this, once and for all.”



Chapter 16

“Liz?” Max wasn’t looking at her, but his fingers continued to caress her hand. They were sitting on “their” rock in the shadow of the small grove of trees as they waited for the hours to pass until the meeting with Alex and Isabel. Just after breakfast Max had told everyone firmly that he was going to spend the day with Liz. Amazingly, no one had said a word in protest. So they had taken some water and went for a walk and just talked for hours—Liz telling Max all about her parents, growing up, studying at Harvard and Max telling Liz about his earth parents and going to school in Roswell, New Mexico, headquarters of alien conspiracy theories of all places. They talked of everything but the recent past and the future.

But now Max suddenly looked serious. “Who is Mark?” His voice sounded tight.

For a moment, Liz was completely blank. Mark?

He would still not meet her gaze. “It’s just… you talked about him a lot when you were… unconscious. I know it has nothing to do with me and if you have someone close to you that’s fine, I just—”

“Max,” she silenced him with a tender smile.

“Never mind, forget I asked,” he continued, hardly hearing her.

“Max,” Liz said more firmly, “Mark doesn’t exist.” Now she had his full attention. “I—I take these drugs… injections to counter the mind raping abilities of Khivar and his men, but when you—”

“Liz!” Max cried, forgetting his own jealousy for a moment, “the injections that the resistance uses are not foolproof, it only lasts for a short—”

“I know,” she replied hastily, it was obvious he was going to go off on one of his what-you’re-doing-is-very-dangerous tangents. “I—I worked on the formula, together with one my group was using. This one… my version lasts for 5 days. It works, Max.”

His face was a study in contradictions—relief, hope, uncertainty. “There’s a drug that can help us stop a mind rape for such a long period?”

“Well… I haven’t tested it on a—one of you before.” She smiled at him hesitantly, not sure if it was okay to see the lighter side of their differences already. His answering grin relaxed her until a new thought hit and she started to frown. “Although… I did inject Isabel since I didn’t know what… who she was. And Nicholas didn’t rush out of there like he found your sister after he saw her the first time.”

“He didn’t?” Max wore a thoughtful expression now, his fingers still playing idly with those of Liz’s left hand. “That must mean it worked for Iz too.” His face lit up. “Damn, Liz, do you know what this would mean for my…?” Faltering, he shot her a concerned gaze. “I mean—”

Suddenly sure of what she should do, Liz stopped his apology with her mouth, kissing him softly. “Yes, Max, I’ll give some of the serum to you.”

He flashed her a brilliant smile. “But… what about your group?”

She looked away from that all too perceptive amber gaze, tucking her hair behind her ear. “I’ll just not tell them.”

Max watched her quietly before running his knuckles tenderly down the side of her face. “I don’t want you to get in trouble.”

Turning to him suddenly, Liz pierced him with an urgent look. “You’re worried about me? Well, I’m even more worried about you. Max, Khivar wants you dead! It’s you he’s looking for. You’re the whole reason he came to earth with an army, not me.” She bit her bottom-lip, trying to hide its tremble. “I need to do something. Please.”

A furious outpouring of emotion clogged Max’s throat and he gathered Liz onto his lap, hugging her fiercely. He had no words that could make this better. They were in an untenable situation and nothing would change that. Wanting to get away from the inevitable good-bye that was lying ahead he changed the subject. “So, no Mark, huh?”

Liz heard the smile in his voice. “No,” she assured him, returning his smile.

“That’s good, because I would have had to deck him.”

“So you were jealous!” She regarded him with huge eyes that were dancing with repressed joy.

“Yeah,” he admitted ruefully.

“So was I,” she surprised him. “I thought Isabel was your wife.” Her cheeks were flushed with embarrassment.

“My… wife?” He stared at her in shock. “No, no, she’s my—”

“Sister,” she completed, grinning up at him. “I know that. Now.”

He shook his head at her. “What a pair we are.” Touching his forefinger to her nose, his frown returned. “I don’t get it, why did you keep talking about a Mark if he doesn’t exist?”

Liz’s soft blush turned into a furious one. “Uhm, when I created the serum, we didn’t really have time to test the effects of it wearing off and, uhm…” She was stammering in acute embarrassment. “Max, in those two weeks you and I… I was so afraid Khivar would find out about you and about us, that I used to dream he would find us together and… and do something horrible to you. I decided to call you Mark in my head, hoping that it would set him on a wrong trail if somehow the serum failed.” Her words started rushing out in a torrent, as if she was desperate to get past this horribly awkward moment quickly. “Then, when you abducted me, I continued dreaming about… you and having nightmares that Khivar took you away. Only, when the serum started wearing off I got really confused about what was real and what not. It felt like my memories were… scrambled, I guess you could say. Until the serum was completely out of my system I only remembered the name Mark.” She finally met his eyes, hers shimmering with feeling. “But it was you, Max.”

A sharp inhalation and a crushing embrace were his only answers.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The ride in the all-terrain vehicle was conducted mostly in silence, with Alex brooding behind the steering wheel. He had no idea what Liz was up to, but he sincerely hoped it would mean that the alien girl would be taken off his hands. He had sort of hinted that he was in love with Liz yesterday when he had finally gotten that message from his life-long friend and ever since, the statuesque blonde had been cool towards him. Well, that was fine with him. With the work he and Liz were doing, it would be suicidal to get involved with an alien. “André” would not be at all impressed if either of them went against the goal of their shadowy group. He grinned to himself, wondering what the members of the resistance would do if they knew they were just more pawns in the brilliant maneuverings of the elusive “André”. He used them to work against Khivar when it suited him and they all thought he was their leader. Ha!

“André” had decided that Khivar was their first order of business and had allowed the resistance in Albuquerque to work with the alien enemies of Khivar. This not only assisted in the efforts against Khivar, but gave them time to learn about the Antarian Royals’ side—knowledge that would assist them when it was time to act against the Royals. Slanting a look at Isabel, Alex mused that they haven’t learned much yet. For the first time, he now knew the name of one of the Antarian Royals. A strange feeling gripped his gut. By rights he should have informed “André” immediately, but he had been hesitant to do it for reasons he didn’t want to examine. He sighed. Soon, he would be with cool, levelheaded Liz again and she would help him make the right decision.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Silence also pervaded the other vehicle traveling towards the rendezvous point. Max was driving with Michael in the passenger seat while Liz and Maria took up the back seat. Doran and some of the soldiers were following far behind in another jeep. When Maria caught Max glancing at Liz in the rearview mirror for the umpteenth time, she marveled that he hadn’t crashed the car into something yet. He barely watched the road. A sidelong look at Liz confirmed that the petite brunette’s eyes were glued to the mirror too. The desperation in those shared stares was heartbreaking to watch.

Max and Liz had only returned from their “walk” a few scant minutes before they had to leave the cabin and, miraculously, Michael had grumbled only halfheartedly. Maria assumed it had finally dawned on him that Liz had saved not only Max’s life, but hers too and now he had no clue how to handle Liz. He was obviously still worried that the meeting with Alex might be a trap, but he wisely kept silent, seeing very clearly that Max was in no mood to hear anything bad about Liz with her imminent departure hanging over their heads.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

From the outside, the old diner looked deserted, as it had been for many years. Liz and Alex had redone the basement, though, filling it with emergency supplies as a kind of fallback venue in case they ever needed to hide. Alex had no intention of letting Isabel know about that basement, so they ended up sitting on one of the old derelict benches beneath what was left of the roof over the outside eating area of the diner, sharing a bottle of water.

Alex could almost hear his heart beat in his chest with fear. Luckily, it was so quiet out here that he would be able to hear Liz coming from a mile away. This thought made him feel slightly less anxious. There was no way anyone could sneak up on them.

Unless they were already here, hiding somewhere.

“Are you ever going to tell me what we’re doing here?” Isabel sounded peeved. She was hot and tired from the long drive and she worried about what was going to become of her. For some weird reason, she had felt safe with Alex, but what if he’s decided to give her over to someone else? Someone that wouldn’t mind handing her over to Khivar.

The far-off drone of a car engine turned their heads towards the road. A single vehicle was approaching.

“Showtime,” Alex mumbled, getting up to watch the car approach.

Liz was sitting up straighter in her seat, peering closely at the vehicle next to the diner. “It’s Alex’s car,” she announced with relief. She stole another nervous look at Max, hoping fervently that his sister was fine. He flashed her a crooked tender smile in the mirror.

Continuously scanning the horizon for possible threats, Michael was grudgingly starting to think that maybe he had been too harsh with Liz. Maybe she truly was trying to help Max. That still didn’t take away the fact that she was working for Khivar though, but maybe she was starting to see the error of her ways.

“Oh geez,” Alex muttered as he saw that the oncoming car had two men in the front seat. “Isabel, go behind the diner. Now.”

But Isabel was on her feet next to him, fairly bouncing in excitement. “That’s Max and Michael!” Whirling around, she threw her arms around a stunned Alex. “Thank you!”

“Huh?”

“It’s my brother!” she cried before running towards the car that had now been brought to a halt.

As Alex watched in amazement, two guys jumped from the car, both coming over to hug Isabel.

“Wow, Iz, we were really worried!” the dark-haired one was saying. Only then did Alex notice Liz alighting the car too. By now, Isabel was hugging the guy with the weird hair and Liz was coming over.

“Liz! Am I glad to see you! Honey,” he ended loudly. The reaction was comical—Liz blinked in confusion and Isabel whirled around to glare at him. Alex made it look good, hugging Liz tightly and kissing both her cheeks. But when he looked up, the dark-haired guy was much closer and was glaring at him like a tiger guarding his mate. Alex looked down at Liz’s flushed face and saw her look at the guy uncomfortably, pleadingly. The guy stopped, but he still looked like he wanted Alex for breakfast.

Stepping away from Alex, Liz made the introductions. “Everyone, this is Alex. Alex, this is Michael, Maria and… Max, Isabel’s brother.” She pointed at the weird-haired big guy, a cute girl and the glowering guy in quick succession. Alex didn’t miss that change in voice inflection when she introduced Max. Hmmm…

Michael and Maria said hi, but Max just nodded his head.

Liz felt ready to kill Alex. What was he up to? She risked another glance at Max, wishing she could assure him there was nothing between her and Alex, but his sister was demanding his attention again. She could still see the tension in his body, though.

“We should leave,” Michael announced. “Hanging around could only bring trouble.”

“Sure!” Alex said brightly. The sooner they got away from these aliens the better. “I’ll take Liz home.”

A deafening silence descended on the group as everyone looked at Max. A very pale Max. “Liz, I thought—”

“Yes,” she assured him hastily before turning to Alex. “Alex, we need to sort out some things with these people, so we’re going with them tonight, okay?”

Excuse me? Alex took her arm. “Can I talk to you for a minute?” he asked through a fake smile.

“Uhm…” Liz sneaked another look at Max. “Okay.”

Alex could practically feel Max’s eyes boring into his back as he led Liz out of earshot. “Okay, Liz, what is going on here? Did you not get my message that that girl over there is an alien?”

Liz sighed. “I know she is. This is really complicated, Alex.”

“How did you end up with Isabel’s brother? And why do I get the feeling my life is in danger because I’m within two feet of you? The guy doesn’t have death-ray eyes, does he?”

“It’s… complicated, Alex.” Liz wasn’t sure what to tell Alex. “I need for us to spend tonight with them, so you and I can hear what they are planning and decide what we are going to do now.”

Alex’s face cleared up immediately. “Ah, I get it. We’re going to spy.” He whispered the last word close to her ear.

Watching them from afar, Max felt an overpowering urge to go rip Alex away from Liz. He was being totally irrational and he knew it. There was no way Liz could have hidden a romantic relationship with Alex from him during those flashes, but the thought that she was going to leave him was slicing through his gut like a white-hot knife and he wasn’t in the mood to think clearly.

“Max?” Isabel was looking between him and the focus of his attention. “What is going on here?” Max was acting like an insanely jealous boyfriend about Alex’s Liz. Max wasn’t hearing her however, he was sharing an intense stare with Liz and the air practically sizzled between them.

You belong to me. The words hung unsaid between them, but Max and Liz heard them all the same.

Liz turned resolutely to Alex, flooring him with her answer. “No, Alex, we’re going to help them.”

tbc

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LivE
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17+18

Post by LivE » Sat Jun 26, 2004 12:37 am

Chapter 17

Alex had been silent after Liz’s declaration and had stayed so until they had piled into their cars. Max was again driving the one vehicle, joined by Isabel and Michael while Maria had opted to join Liz and Alex in Alex’s car. Liz had volunteered to drive and Maria’s presence was another comfort since Liz was sure Max was none too pleased about her traveling with Alex.

“So, I’m Maria and I work for the resistance,” Maria announced as soon as the cars started moving. “Why are you working for that slime Khivar?”

Throwing a stunned look at Liz, Alex fumbled for an answer. Wow, was this girl direct or what?

Liz was concentrating on the vehicle in front of them, wondering if Max was watching her in the rear-view mirror. After she had finally told him most of her secrets this morning, Max had decreed that as few people as possible should know she wasn’t really working for Khivar. If the news leaked out, her life could be in serious danger and he would rather suffer the disapproval of his friends than put Liz in more danger.

While they traveled, Maria took it upon herself to bring Alex up to date about Liz’s activities since her abduction. Alex’s eyes grew larger with each new revelation and, although Maria managed to not say too much about Liz and Max, she did make it clear that they were an item of sorts. This brought Alex’s questioning gaze back to Liz, who resolutely watched where she was driving so she wouldn’t have to tell him anything.

“So that’s why he acted like I was trying to steal his girlfriend?”

Girlfriend?” Maria hooted with laughter, causing Liz to cringe. “Boy, you ain’t seen nothing yet!” Maria leaned forward, poking her head between the two front seats. “Max is the sweetest man on earth, but you don’t want to mess with his—”

“Maria!” Liz hissed, trying to end the torrent of words.

“You don’t want to mess,” Maria continued blithely, “with his girl.”

Staring at Maria in amazement, Alex was trying to absorb everything. “You’re telling me that in between getting abducted and drugged, there was time for Liz and Max to… get it on?”

At Maria’s startled look, Liz blurted out, “I didn’t tell him about Max before…”

“Ohh!” Maria’s eyebrows shot up and she turned to Alex. “Well, then I have even more juicy stuff to share.”

Liz groaned.

In the other car, Isabel had finished telling Max and Michael about her strange incarceration. “I saw Nicholas only twice.” She touched the small mark on the back of her neck. “They put some sort of mark on me, but then Alex started moving me around and I never saw Nicholas again. Khivar never came either. I’m not sure why they got nothing from the mind rapes. I was sure that they would have had you all by now.”

“Were you injected while Alex had you?” Max asked, taking his eyes off the road for a few seconds. It was torture not to stare at the vehicle behind him all the time, but he wasn’t sure he wanted to see Liz laughing and talking with Alex. Now that he had had time to cool off, he realized how unfair his reaction to Alex had been. He had no rights over Liz. In fact, wasn’t the whole point of not consummating their relationship so that she could be free to pursue whatever direction her life should take when she left? Gritting his teeth, he resolved to apologize to Liz and tell her she was free to be with whomever she pleased.

The thought made him ill.

“Yes, I was injected about four times, I think. Why?”

Max shrugged. “We can talk about everything tonight. There’s a lot we have to discuss.”

“I can see that,” Isabel told Max icily. “When did you get so cozy with Ms Scientist back there? God, you were eating her with your eyes!”

Michael snorted from the back seat. “Cozy? It’s more like—”

“We’ll talk tonight,” Max interrupted him, clenching his hands on the steering wheel. And he had a few hours to come up with what they should be told.

The rest of the journey was completed without incident, if Alex’s small panic attack because they were being followed could be discounted. Maria and Liz assured him it was their own people, but he kept looking over his shoulder at Doran’s vehicle nervously until they stopped at the cabin and he could see for himself that Liz knew the occupants of the third car.

Liz felt drained. Now that the adrenaline rush of finding Isabel was over, she longed to take a shower and curl up in Max’s arms. Only that would probably not happen tonight. Looking over at Max, she surprised a yearning expression in his eyes that he quickly shuttered when he realized she was staring back. That decided it. She walked determinedly over to him. “Can I talk to you alone, please?”

Everyone else stopped what they were doing to watch.

“Maxwell,” Michael said in a warning tone.

Max ignored him and nodded at Liz, walking into the cabin with her. He started speaking as soon as they reached the short hallway. “I want to apologize for being so rude to Alex. If… if you want to… Your life is your own.” His voice was tight with control and his eyes downcast. “I’m really sorry, I had no right—”

Liz curled her fingers around his forearm, halting him. “Alex and I are friends, Max. That’s all.” Her breath stopped when he finally looked at her, a small light of hope starting to flicker in his eyes. “I promise,” she reiterated, looking up at him with wide, expressive eyes.

Staring at her intently as if to gauge her true feelings, he abruptly cursed softly and pulled her against him, lifting her feet off the ground as his arm anchored her to his body. He whirled them into his bedroom, kicking the door closed behind him and then his mouth was on hers. The kiss was ravenous, bruising, possessive, and Liz went under with a small moan, wrapping her arms around his neck to hold on tightly.

He drew her lower body hard up against his own and his lips crushed her own apart, their tongues making contact. Heat began to pool deep down in her abdomen, desire licking a taunting flick across her breasts, because yes, save her soul, she loved that he had been jealous enough to get worked up into this frenzy of lust. She let him taste her surrender to this hot and seductive passion and heard his groan with joy.

Liz didn’t know herself, the touch of his hands and the hunger of his kisses seemed to draw a completely different person out of her skin. Normally she was levelheaded, scientific Liz Parker, but one touch from this man and she was a wild and wanton woman with a deep sensuality that demanded reciprocation from him. Where he touched, she reveled in sheer pleasure. Where he didn’t she writhed in restless need.

Max muttered something into her mouth that sounded like a signal for them to slow it down. But, no, she thought feverishly, pushing her hands beneath his shirt so she could feel his warm skin. All hint of toning anything down faded in that moment as, with a deep shudder, he took control. The kiss got deeper, more intense as their tongues dueled and Max’s hand found its way underneath her top, brushing deliciously over her sensitive skin.

“Oh Max,” she sighed against his lips. His hand stilled immediately, maddeningly close to her aching breast.

He pulled away slowly, breathing erratically as he stared down at her in shock. The signs of his rough passion were everywhere—her puffy lips, her mussed hair, her top bunched beneath her breasts…

“Max?” Isabel’s voice sounded from the other side of the door as she tried the handle.

Leaning back against the door, Max prevented her from opening it, his eyes still glued on the girl in his arms. The ravished girl in his arms. “Give us a minute, Iz,” he managed in a hoarse, tight voice.

He could hear Isabel’s suspicion had increased tenfold when she answered. “Don’t take too long, we need to get a few things in the open.”

“Yes, we do,” he answered, still staring at Liz. Yes, we do.

Isabel stalked back to the living area, finding Michael sprawled on the couch with Maria, while Alex was standing staring out the window. “They’ll be right out,” she announced, her voice laced with irritation as she flounced into a chair. Michael’s sardonic chuckle was the only reaction.

Minutes dragged past and Isabel’s agitation spiked steadily. What? Her brother, the next King of their planet, now had the hots for a human girl and was shirking his responsibilities? “That’s it!” she cried, vaulting from her seat. “What is going on with the two of them?”

Max and Liz appeared in the doorway as if by magic, holding hands.

Looking at his sister, Max felt a fleeting sense of guilt for being so wrapped up in his jealousy that he hadn’t properly welcomed Iz back. “We’ll tell you,” he informed them firmly, tightening his hold on Liz, “but it goes no farther than this room and the people in it.”

Everyone’s eyes were glued to their linked hands as they crossed the room and Max waited for Liz to sit down. He remained standing next to her, still maintaining his hold on her hand.

And finally, the other people in the room heard the full story.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Khivar frowned at the nearly deserted lab before wandering to the equally deserted holding room down the corridor. A nervous assistant hovered at his side.

“They went away for a few days, Khivar,” the man stammered. “A short holiday, Alex said.”

Narrowing his eyes at the hapless scientist, Khivar had trouble containing his anger. “You mean they both just left? Leaving the lab in the hands of mere assistants like you?”

“Well, we weren’t busy with any big experiments or anything…”

Turning in a slow circle, Khivar scanned the gleaming, sterile surfaces of the worktables. Was something else going on here? Why would Liz Parker just take off without telling him or Nicholas? She had never given him a reason to doubt her loyalty, his regular checks on her through his mark and the quick mind searches he did whenever he saw her, showed nothing but a steady continuation of scientific work. Not even a boyfriend as far as he could tell either. It still confounded him that some humans had these fuzzy patches in their memory that he couldn’t make sense of, but after three years of being on earth and finding them regularly, he had started assuming they were just genetically part of certain members of the species.

Also, the resistance had not given him any real trouble yet. The members of his following that they got rid of were minor losses. So he had bided his time, watching, learning.

However, the appearance of an Antarian ship so close to earth, one that he had only learned of by chance, gave him reason to pause. He was increasingly becoming convinced that there were things going on that he was unaware of. The feeling did not sit well with him.

And now his most important scientist had disappeared just around the time he learned of that ship. It could be coincidence. Or it could be another sign that he should tighten his operation.

Maybe it was time to call in the big guns. He needed to activate his spy in the resistance…

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Hectic questions had followed Max’s revelations of his linking with Liz, her role in the shadowy group she still insisted they not know too much about, and their plans for the future. Maria was overjoyed, clapping her hands in glee. “I knew you weren’t involved with killing people from the resistance!”

A flash of pain crossed Liz’s face, her fingers curling into a death grip around Max’s. “Maria… We—we couldn’t help it. Sometimes, people did get hurt and… killed in that lab.” She evaded Max’s piercing look.

“So you’re going to go back to Khivar now. And let us know if he plans anything against us.” Michael’s voice was flat, as if he didn’t know how to feel about this.

“Yes,” Liz answered, finally meeting Alex’s confused gaze. “Alex can decide for himself, but I will help you where I can. My group wants no aliens on earth and Max promised me you guys would leave as soon as Khivar is neutralized. I believe him.” She smiled up at Max and they shared a long, intimate look.

“What about your group? What would they think?” Michael wasn’t ready to just accept all this yet.

“I… I’m not going to tell them about you. They don’t need to know you guys are, you know, aliens.” She risked a glance at Isabel, who had now fallen silent and was glaring at Max furiously. “Only, Kyle has seen Isabel and he knows who she is, so I don’t think we should have contact with her personally.”

“I agree,” Max said immediately and Isabel’s mouth thinned even more.

“I could help you work on communications with your home planet,” Alex offered out-of-the-blue, startling everyone.

“Alex!” Liz cried, happy tears springing into her eyes as she ran over to hug him.

Alex cast a nervous look in Max’s direction, but Max seemed okay with the spontaneous display so he felt safe in hugging Liz back. “Can’t let you off on your own, Parker, you are way too gung-ho to be safe.”

The last comment brought a thunderous frown to Max’s face that Liz saw immediately when she turned around. “He’s just kidding,” she informed Max as she moved back to his side, letting him curve her into his body protectively.

“We can work out the details tomorrow,” Max announced, his hand absently running up Liz’s back and tunneling beneath her hair. Liz leaned into him, closing her eyes in bliss, completely forgetting their audience.

“Why don’t we all go to bed and get some sleep?” Max continued, his fingers now rubbing the back of her neck soothingly. “This has been a long and… weird day.”

“Hell yeah,” Michael affirmed, jumping up to drag Maria off to their room.

Isabel and Alex lingered, watching Max and Liz with varying degrees of concern. “I suppose I get the couch?” Alex asked into the silence.

“Iz, why don’t you take the third bedroom?” Max told her. “I’ll come say goodnight soon.”

“So what? You guys sleep together too?”

Max held onto his temper, knowing his sister had had a rough time and also had no reason to trust Liz. “Yes,” he said firmly, “Liz stays with me.”

Isabel threw him a look that clearly told him he would get it as soon as they were alone and left the room.

Her exit made Alex grin. She was one tough cookie! Turning back to Max and Liz, his mouth fell open at what he saw. Max’s hand was now resting just below Liz’s ear, and beneath his hand a strange symbol was glowing on Liz’s skin! “Err, goodnight then,” he mumbled, not able to stop staring at the sight.

“Night, Alex,” Liz said, but her besotted gaze remained on the alien touching her. A horrible idea started to form in Alex’s mind as he watched them leave. Had Liz been brainwashed into getting together with this Max? Was he just using her to reach a goal? Was Liz doing this out of her own free will? He had never seen Khivar turn a human into a willing drone, but who knew what these other aliens could do?

It was time for Liz to start taking those injections again. Who knows, maybe they can cure her of whatever force Max Evans had put on her…


Chapter 18

“Max, what are you doing?”

Isabel’s first words told Max his suspicions had been right, his sister was not happy about his relationship with Liz. He held her gaze steadily as he answered. “What my heart tells me to.”

It was not the answer she had expected and her stunned expression reflected this. He gave her a few seconds to recover and then listened to all the reasons she could come up with to show him why his relationship with Liz was ill fated and a mistake. None of them were new.

“You are right,” he told her quietly. “Everything you said is valid.”

Hope flared in her eyes for a moment when she thought she had convinced him. The light died again when he continued.

“But I love her.” The conviction in his voice brooked no argument. “Rationally I know we have no future. I have to go back to Antar some day and Liz’s life and work is here on earth. But… that doesn’t change how I feel. How we feel. And—” He held up his hand when Isabel started to interrupt. “And this is the only time we have… the only time I might ever have with her. And this time, I’m going to be selfish.” He pinned Isabel with intense eyes filled with the complete scope of his feelings for Liz. “She’s leaving tomorrow, Iz. I need whatever I can have of her. Can you understand that?”

Silenced by the urgency in his voice, Isabel could only nod.

Walking over to her, Max hugged her, telling her how happy he was she was safe. After that, they talked about the destruction of their ship—their only way back to Antar, about Khivar and what he might do next, about the serum against mind rapes that Liz had created, and about the fact that Max had decided to end Khivar’s reign of terror once and for all.

Not one word more was said about Liz Parker.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

It was late by the time Max got out of Isabel’s room. He could see she was still reluctant to trust Liz and he accepted that he would have to live with that for now. But Max was determined to trust his heart about Liz and he was also determined to make sure that Khivar was defeated.

And Liz would help him do that.

Halting in the door of their room, Max felt an overwhelming sense of tenderness flow through his body as he watched Liz, curled up asleep on top of the bed, her damp hair fanning out behind her. Obviously she hadn’t managed to stay awake waiting up for him. Gently, he moved her to her side of the bed before sliding his glowing hand over her hair to dry the tresses quickly. After settling her comfortably, he bent over her, reverently brushing his lips over her forehead and cheeks. “Mi Shanaya.” Loosely translated it meant my love. It was amazing that it had taken a human girl to make him start using the language of his birth. Antar had a rich and descriptive language—one that used symbolism more than mere words. What the phrase actually meant was: Keeper of my Heart. Was it not more apt than merely saying my love? Only one person can hold your heart in the palm of her hands.

Staring down at her sleeping form, he knew he somehow had to make tonight special, make it last…

As soon as Max left the room to go shower, Liz opened her stinging eyes. Mi Shanaya. Just as before, she instinctively knew what it meant. Her heart felt like it was physically breaking in two in her chest when she thought about leaving him tomorrow. The only thing that kept her to her resolve was that she would be working for him too now. Swiping at her moist eyes, she tried to get herself under control. Time with Max was too precious to waste on crying.

Liz was waiting up for him when he got back, still damp from his shower. Sinking down onto the bed next to her, they stared at each other silently.

“I’m going to miss you, Max.”

The soft words sent a wave of intense longing through his gut, causing him to fight down an urge to grab her up in his arms and take her somewhere far away where no one knew who they were. Taking her hand, he laced their fingers and stood up. “Come with me.”

She followed willingly, trustingly, not asking questions.

Alex was lying on his side, feigning sleep when they passed him and he silently padded after them, determined to find out what kind of hold this alien prince had on his friend.

Outside on the veranda Max pulled Liz in front of him, folding his arms around her from behind. She could feel his bare chest rise and fall against her back and instinctively she pressed harder against him. Max’s lips trailed over her nape, reminding her of the little implant Nicholas had “marked” her with so long ago. “Max, Khivar and Nicholas would have put something like this on Isabel too…” Lifting his hand, she rubbed his fingers over the tiny scar. “You have to remove it, or else they will find her. The serum only decreases the range of the mark, it doesn’t override it entirely.”

As Alex watched from behind the curtain, he could clearly see the fury in Max’s expression even as he handled Liz tenderly.

“Liz…” Max brushed her hair away from her nape, exposing the “mark”. “Let me take this off you, I hate that he has… done this to you.” I hate that he has touched you at all.

Covering the scar with her fingers, she stopped him. “You can’t. I’m going back to him and he’ll notice.”

Alex’s eyes widened as he saw the desperation with which Max suddenly hauled Liz against him, holding her as if his life depended on it.

“I don’t think…” Max swallowed convulsively to calm himself. “Don’t let him near you, please Liz! I’ll—I’ll die if something happens to you. If anything weird happens, anything at all, you come to me, promise me!”

The intensity and urgency in Max’s voice was the real thing. Alex didn’t even hear Liz’s answer as he stared at Max in stunned disbelief. The man was totally head-over-heels for Liz! Alex still wasn’t too sure what that meant in alien loyalty terms, but for now he was content that Max wasn’t out to harm Liz in any way—the alien prince was too genuinely concerned for her welfare. Shaking his head, Alex returned to his makeshift bed to ponder this new discovery.

“Look up there.” Max spoke softly against Liz’s ear, pointing up at the stars with a not-quite-so-firm hand. High above them, a bright V of stars winked in the inky black sky.

“What are they?”

“My home.” He breathed deeply, letting his hand drop to her waist to hug her closely. “My other home.”

Liz stared up at the five brilliant stars, a lump forming in her throat. Those stars seemed far away and cold. How amazing that one of them could have produced the warm, gentle man holding her so tightly now. “What are they called?” Her voice trembled from holding in so many emotions.

“The Whirlwind Galaxy. My planet is the one at the bottom.” Max rested his cheek against the shiny crown of her head, searching for the right words. “I thought… maybe you could… think of me when you see them next time.”

Stiffening against him, Liz suddenly clawed at his fingers, prying them from her so she could turn around. “I don’t need stars to remind me of you!” she informed him passionately. He felt the heat of her fingers against his cheeks as she cupped his face, staring up at him with eyes filled with the starlight he had just referred to. “I will never forget you, I promise you that.” She looked away suddenly. “I was hoping you… would come and see me after all this is over… before you… before you return…”

It was his turn to frame her face in his hands, his palms intuitively sliding over his marks, lighting the soft glow. “I promise,” he vowed, kissing her tenderly in affirmation.

When he lifted his mouth, Liz was craving more. “Max, please…” But he held her off.

“I want to… try something, share something with you,” he told her hesitantly. “Will you let me?”

“Yes.” As always, it was yes.

His voice dropped lower, became more intimate, brushing over her nerve-endings like a soft caress. “Just look into my eyes and let your mind go blank…”

One moment, she was staring up into those amazing amber eyes, the next she was someplace she had never been before.

She was standing on a beach, bathed in moonlight from the three moons that hovered high above. The waves lapping the shore were small, like those of a lake, and the sand beneath her feet felt like the softest powder. She was alone, standing at the edge of the water while the soft breeze fluttered through her dress. “Max?”

“I’m here.”

His voice came from behind her and she turned towards it, her eyes scanning the endless sand stretching in all directions. “I can’t see you.”

“Soon,” he promised. “Just let me look at you first.”

There was something in his voice, a note of awe, of reverence, that made her look down at her clothes again. She was draped in a shimmering robe the color of pearls, the soft, gossamer material sliding over her skin like a kiss.

“Touch it,” he urged, still unseen.

Following instructions, she lifted her hand and spread it against the material covering her stomach. The sign of the Royal House of Antar appeared beneath her hand. Her gasp told Max she had grasped the significance of the robe.

It was a wedding dress. A traditional Antarian wedding dress.

“I wanted to do this right this time. Even if it’s just in this dream world.” He appeared in front of her, wearing dark-green pants and a long fitted jacket of the same color with a mandarin collar in gold trim. He looked regal, like a Prince should. Liz was completely speechless.

Ridiculously, Max felt his heart beat in a crazy rhythm as he looked down into Liz’s beautiful face. “I wish we could have had our families here, to share this with us, but things are not ideal. I’m so sorry about that.” He took a deep fortifying breath, staring into her eyes intently. “Liz Paker, Mi Shanaya, will you marry me? Here on my world?”

Tears pooled in her eyes and she bit her lip as she nodded fiercely. “Yes. Yes, Max!”

A stunning light of joy filled his face.

This time, both of them knew exactly what they were doing. Stepping closer to her slowly, Max lifted his hands to cup her neck, pressing his palms over the sensitive places below her ears.

The warmth of the glow of his hands seeped into her bloodstream, causing ecstasy to fizz through her like champagne bubbles. Her eyes drifted closed and her head tilted back as she savored every sensation of being so close to him. Images of his world flashed through her mind, interspersed with images of her. He was… inside her somehow, his essence blending with hers, merging until she could feel every emotion he was experiencing. His joy, his love, his longing and his sadness.

Max waited until her eyes snapped open again and met his. The moment had been too precious to spoil with words—this bonding of their souls.

“U Shayna Min.” They whispered it together. ‘You belong to me.’

He held her to him afterwards, quietly stroking her hair as they basked in the togetherness of the moment.

“Max?” Liz’s soft question was uttered against his throat.

“Hmm?”

“Is this really what Antar looks like?”

He smiled into her hair—his Liz, the eternal scientist. “According to the memories Doran shared with me, yeah.”

“It’s truly beautiful,” she said wistfully.

Max was surprised about how much it meant to him to hear her say that.

“How long can you keep us here?”

“It’s only a dream state, sort of, so… I guess for a few hours, why?” He wasn’t prepared for what came out of her mouth next.

“I want you to make love to me. Here, in this place… now.” Her cheeks were flaming, Liz knew that for a fact, and she couldn’t meet his eyes, afraid to see shock or revulsion at her forwardness there, but her need to share her body with him overrode her shyness. “Please…”

A punch to the gut could not have winded him more. Make love to her? Here? His mind warred with his heart, but only for a second. This was a dream world, not reality. He could make this special and keep the memories without it having irreversible repercussions. The thought made his body react violently.

Pulling slightly away from her, his fingers found the shoulder straps of her robe. “May I?” He hardly recognized his voice, thick and husky with need.

Liz was touched that he still asked, but she nodded, staring up at him, seeing how black his eyes had become as the loose material slipped from her body, leaving her naked to his gaze. His sharp inhalation caused a rush of heat to pool deep in her body, readying her for the invasion of his. She trembled as he stared at her, at the elegant line of her neck, the aroused peaks of her breasts, the deep indentation of her waist, the slim lines of her thighs.

“God, Liz…” he muttered finally, his fingers coming up to rest against her collarbone, tracing the curve lightly. “I’ve dreamed so many times…”

He was touching her everywhere, his hands almost compulsively tracing the hills and valleys of her body. Everywhere he touched, she burned. Her breathing turned into pants, short gasps for air to fend off the dizziness his caresses caused. His fingers found her breasts, fanning over the pebbled peaks, tearing a small moan from her throat. Her hands were fisted in the waist of his jacket in an effort to stay upright and beneath the material his skin felt scalding hot.

Suddenly overcome with a need to feel that skin next to hers, Liz tore at the fastenings of the jacket, getting in his way until he took over the task with a soft frustrated curse. He yanked his clothes off in a few short movements, her desire spurring him on.

Finally, they were naked. Skin slid over heated skin, want urging them closer and closer still. Their kiss was deep, tongues mimicking a more intimate act as their bodies strained together.

His arousal throbbed against her stomach and Liz had never felt anything more perfect. Every pulse told her he wanted her, every little shift in his body increased the hollow ache in hers.

He laid them down on their discarded clothes without breaking their kiss. Liz wrapped her legs around him, rubbing the moist evidence of her need against the ridge of his erection. The action had Max tearing his mouth from hers, throwing his head back with a harsh groan before he began moving rhythmically against her. The friction was unbearably exciting and Liz arched beneath him, determinedly keeping her eyes open so she could watch him. After a few moments, his mouth found her breast, ripping a keening cry from her that echoed around them.

She couldn’t wait anymore, her hands finding the taut muscles of his rear and urging him to complete their union.

He stilled above her when the slick tip of his arousal parted her folds and he stared at her intently, as if memorizing her face. He looked glorious to Liz—a deep flush staining his cheeks, his mouth moist from her kisses, his eyes filled with desire, love and possessiveness. “Only ever you, Liz,” he told her and pushed into her in one deep stroke.

The feeling was indescribable and Liz forgot to breathe. His hands found hers, lacing their fingers together and holding them above her head as he slowly pulled out of her. Instinctively, she tightened her legs around his hips, not wanting him to leave.

“Tell me!” He sounded frantic, desperate.

“Only ever you, Max,” she promised him, arching helplessly when he plunged back in. The action broke their restraint and they moved together in an ever-increasing tempo until the first small spasms of release started spiraling through their bodies.

It was a moment Max would never forget. Even through the harshness of his own panting, he heard the telling hitch in Liz’s breathing, felt her go still and hover on the precipice, all her tiny muscles surrounding his arousal going taut for a few seconds. “Yes,” he urged her, pressing high and deep and felt her go over.

She moaned his name as she came.

It was all it took to push him into release too.

Forcing her eyes open, Liz stared at him shuddering above her as she felt his surrender spill heatedly deep inside her body. It felt so real. So incredibly, wonderfully real.


The intensity of their reactions jerked them from the dream plane.

Max caught her as her legs gave out, managing to get them both into a sitting position on the steps as the last vestiges of their orgasms still reverberated through them. He could care less that his release had been very real and he was a mess as he held her close. Embarrassment could not impinge on a moment so perfect.

And, as he stroked her hair, her face resting against his damp chest, he made another vow to himself. He would find a way for them to be together for real one day, one way or another.

tbc

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LivE
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Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2001 4:58 pm
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19+20

Post by LivE » Sun Jun 27, 2004 3:40 pm

Chapter 19

Alex was waiting in the idling car and Michael, Maria and Isabel were standing around on the veranda. Everyone was ready for the departure. Everyone but Max and Liz.

Max had finally had another dream come true—Liz had woken up in his arms that morning. However, it had been a bittersweet moment. He had lain awake most of the night, just watching her sleep, afraid to miss one moment of having her near. Their intense experience in the dream plane had left them both drained and after Max had carried Liz back to their room on quaking legs, they each had a quick shower, and tumbled into bed. How ever much he had wanted to really make love to her, he had just held her tightly, listening to her breathing, and knowing that she too had been unable to sleep for large parts of the night.

It had been the longest few hours of his life… and the shortest.

Morning had come too soon and even though he had known he should let her rest, he had kissed her awake at the first sign of the dawn light creeping over the horizon. Kissed her and kissed her and kissed her, his hands rushing over her hair, her face, her body, desperately storing the sensations for the time alone that was coming up.

Liz had had tears in her eyes when he finally broke away to rest his forehead against hers. I can’t do it, she had wanted to confess. I can’t leave this… leave YOU behind. Staring up into his solemn amber eyes, she had prayed he would force her to stay, that he would take the decision out of her hands. But he had said nothing, as she had known he would, only skimmed tender fingertips over her face, committing her features to memory.

They had dressed in silence, Max kneeling at her feet to tie the laces of her sneakers, remaining in that position with a bent head for long moments after completing the task. The sight had nearly made her dissolve in floods of tears and she had sunk to the ground in front of him, finding herself in his arms immediately.

It had been the purest agony.

Breakfast had been spent discussing the way forward. Alex had promised to start working on a communications link to Antar and Liz to report any activities of Khivar aimed at Max and his group. They had worked out how to get messages across, deciding to use Doran, who was known to the resistance, and then Liz and Alex had injected themselves with the serum in preparation for the trip back, also providing the others with serum to use when it became necessary in future.

Alex had watched the injecting bit with an eagle eye and it had removed any lingering doubts he had had about Max’s intentions towards Liz. Max had hovered over her protectively while she worked on herself, but he made no move to stop her, only covering the small mark of the needle with his hand after she was finished. It had taken Alex a few moments to realize that Max had healed the tiny scar.

Then was time to leave.

Maria had somehow contrived to get everybody out of the cabin and onto the veranda, leaving Max and Liz alone inside.

They weren’t ready.

Liz was dying. She couldn’t show Max how close she was to breaking down completely. The only thing holding her together was his almost compulsive embrace. Taking deep breaths, she attempted to commit his scent, the feel of him, to memory, to take it so deep into herself that it would remain a part of her forever.

“Liz…” His voice was hoarse and strained. He said nothing more, just Liz.

The wealth of emotion she heard in that one syllable was almost her undoing. The whimper, soft and filled with anguish, was out before she could stop it.

The sound seemed to tear through him, Liz felt the convulsive shudder run along his lean body just before he tugged her head back, crushing her mouth beneath his. The kiss was long, desperate and deep… and without flashes.

Pulling away, Max stared down at her. “The serum… it inhibits the flashes.” No wonder he had been so stunned when he suddenly started getting flashes from their kisses. It had never happened in the two weeks he’d been with her on earth, and only started after the serum had finally worn off on the ship. The ache in his heart increased with the decrease in his link with her. He’d come to rely on that link—the connection—that had even allowed him to know what her body wanted of his when they made love. Her needs, felt through the link, had guided his hands and his mouth… and finally his whole body.

“Liz… Are you sure?” He wanted to beg her to stay, he was prepared to do it on his knees if necessary, but it was her decision, not his.

She took a long time to answer, silently holding onto him as she thought. Then she nodded her bent head just once.

Max felt like crying.

He kissed her one last time with everything he had in him. It wasn’t nearly enough.

They walked outside in silence with Liz folded along the length of his side, her face pressed into his shoulder. No one said a word as they watched them move towards the car. Alex looked away as Max opened the passenger door for her—it seemed wrong to play voyeur to this moment.

Helping Liz into the seat, Max let his hand linger over her hair, memorizing the silken feel. His heart lurched at the thought that this might be the last time he ever touched her. She was staring at him with wet eyes, and for the life of him, he couldn’t get his throat to work to say good-bye.

With one final lingering look, he closed the door between them, watching her turn her head to the front and biting her lip.

“Ready?” Alex asked his longtime friend softly as he stared at Max just outside Liz’s window. The look on the young prince’s face would stay with him forever. Just as he was about to ease his foot off the brake, Max suddenly yanked open the door again.

“Wait!”

The harsh command caused a flurry on the veranda and Alex stomped his foot back on the brake.

“Liz!”

Max was framing her face, pulling it around so he could meet her eyes. Liz’s heart had literally stopped. He was staring at her with undisguised emotion.

“Liz, I love you. I can’t let you leave without telling you that.” He spoke in an urgent voice. “I love you,” he emphasized. “Never forget that.”

“Me too… I mean…” She dashed at her tears with a trembling hand, trying to get the words together. “I love you too. So much.”

“Then stay!” Everything he had wanted to say came out in a rush. “God, Liz, don’t go. Please stay! We’ll find another way to handle this, but—”

Stopping him with her fingers over his mouth, she found the courage to do the right thing. “I can’t.”

He looked at her for a long anguish-filled moment, then nodded.

“Max…” Liz had no idea what she wanted to say. Wait for me? Don’t get killed?

Leaning into the car, he kissed her tenderly. “When this is over, I’ll find you. I promise.” It was a vow from the heart.

This time, Alex drove off as soon as the door was closed, his heart aching when he saw Liz twist around in her seat to catch one last glimpse of Max.

Max stood in the same spot, his hands in his pockets, until long after the dust trail of the all-terrain vehicle had disappeared from his sight.

Maria came to find him half-an-hour later. “Max…” He turned his face away when she touched his arm. “Are you okay, Space King?”

Clearing his throat, he nodded, still not looking at her. “We should get back, we have a lot to do,” he told her gruffly, silently closing a door in his heart.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The drive back to Carlsbad was long and tiresome. Liz and Alex took turns behind the wheel, but Alex wisely kept silent, sensing that Liz’s emotions were close to the surface. She had seemed to pull into herself when Max had finally disappeared from sight. Only talking once: What if I never see him again? The question had been rhetorical and he hadn’t replied. After all, what on earth could he say?

When they got close to the city, they started getting their stories straight, deciding on Alex’s short vacation version. Liz had only been missing for a few days longer than he had been gone from the lab too. It was almost unbelievable that all in all, she had been gone from her apartment for only five days. Five days that completely changed her life.

Alex dropped her off at her home and left for his own place. Liz felt immeasurably weighed down as she trudged up the stairs to her door. It didn’t feel like home anymore. Home had become a person, someone who was very far away from her now.

Don’t think about him, she coached herself. Don’t fall apart and don’t think about him. Don’t think about his eyes, his mouth or his kisses. Don’t remember how it felt to be one with him…
I love you.
The words rang in her heart, refusing to die down. I love you. Never forget that. She smiled mirthlessly. Forgetting was something she wouldn’t be able to do. Ever.

A light was shining in her apartment.

Liz stumbled to a halt outside her door, a sense of dread stealing over her. It was after eight at night, who could be in the apartment? Had she forgotten to turn the lights off when she left? Had the person who collected her laptop left them on?

Carefully, she unlocked the front door and stepped inside. Silence permeated the rooms, the light spilling from her small den. Dropping her laptop on the kitchen counter, she moved to the lighted room.

Nicholas was lying on her couch, twiddling his thumbs.

He raised an impervious eyebrow as she came into view. “Well, Ms Parker, it’s about time you came home.”

“Hi Nicholas.” Liz was surprised at how normal her voice sounded. “What are you doing in my apartment?”

“Why, waiting for you, of course!” he said mockingly, slowly rising from the couch. “Khivar has been missing you.” He moved closer to her. “Where have you been?”

“I went away with Alex for a few days. Things have been so hectic lately that I…” she trailed off, realizing she was babbling.

Nicholas was circling her, his eyes roaming up and down her body. Liz had to forcibly stifle the urge to cover Max’s invisible marks with her hands.

“Did ya have fun?” He was leaning close to her ear when he spoke. “You haven’t lost that famous virginity of yours, have you? Alex doesn’t look like he has it in him, but I’m sure Khivar wouldn’t mind if the dear boy does the honors.”

Liz had stiffened at the insolent words, but she refused to rise to the bait.

“Strange that our leader has such an aversion to having sex with virgins. I guess he likes experience. He’s been waiting for you to get rid of yours, you know.”

“I’m too busy for that,” Liz told him through tense lips.

“It only takes a few minutes, my sweet. I could help—”

“Why are you here, Nicholas?” she interrupted him angrily.

He gave up taunting her. “Khivar wants to see you. Now.”

The words struck cold fear into Liz’s heart. “Why?”

“Because he missed you?” he said sarcastically. Grabbing her arm, he whirled her towards the door. “Let’s go.”

They arrived at Khivar’s mansion 40 minutes later. He was standing alone in his dining room when she was ushered in. “Liz! Nice to see you again.” Walking closer, he looked at her narrowly. “I hear you took a few days off?”

“Yes, I was tired.” She made sure she looked straight at him. “Alex and I went fishing.”

“You humans have the quaintest customs!” He stopped right in front of her. “Don’t leave again without telling me,” his voice had hardened. “We had… things to deal with, and you were missing.”

“I’m sorry, I thought we would have a quiet few days and it was okay to leave.” Liz breathed carefully, calming herself.

He stared at her long and intently before nodding his head and smiling. “You haven’t gone off and gotten yourself a boyfriend, have you?” He lifted a hand and stroked her cheek. “I would hate to share you.”

It took all of her willpower to stay still under his questing finger that slowly slid down the side of her neck. “No, still determinedly single.” She forced a grin. “You know me, it’s all about the work.” His fingers slid to the back of her neck, passing over the spot where Max’s mark lay before coming to a halt on the tiny scar of his own mark.

His routine probe of her mind yielded only more of the fuzzy patches it normally did, but that did not interest Khivar. What did interest him, was the fact that while he could feel the little implant on her nape with his fingers, he couldn’t find its signal.

Something was neutralizing his brand.


Chapter 20

“Max, you have to slow down,” Maria’s voice was filled with worry as she stood in the doorway of Max’s room—he sat hunched over a jumble of maps and papers, spread out on the bed. The bed that hasn’t been slept in much.

Two weeks had elapsed since Liz had left and in that time Max had been killing himself with planning, preparing and strategizing with his soldiers, Michael and Doran. Not a word about Liz had left his mouth in this time, but he was more driven than ever. They all watched him in amazement. He had always been their Prince, but now he seemed to don the cloak of leadership so much more readily. He drove them all hard, but no one as hard as himself. Max had a mission—an almost insurmountable mission—and he was leaving nothing to chance.

Michael was delighted that Max was stepping up to the plate so determinedly now. But Maria and Doran, who had gone to more trouble than Michael to get to know the man behind the title, noticed the haunted look in Max’s eyes. He was doing this to free his people, yes, but he was also doing this to get Liz away from Khivar. Maria was almost sure Max had had the odd nightmare about something terrible happening to Liz.

And now she had to give him the first message they’d gotten from Alex…

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Liz, you have to slow down.”

Lifting her head tiredly to look at Alex, hovering in the door of her office at the lab, Liz managed a smile. “Can’t, Alex. You know that.”

Stalking inside, Alex gave her a fierce look, “I know that killing yourself isn’t going to make the person you’re working so hard for happy, that’s what I know!”

She ignored him. “Have you… finished that last task I gave you?” Meaning, did you send the message to Max.

“Yes, I have, but I still don’t agree with leaving out pertinent information.” Like Khivar watching Liz like a hawk, as if he knew something weird was up.

“There is nothing he can do about it,” Liz answered quietly. Max had become “he” ever since they got back. The lab was probably bugged, so they could only talk about what they were doing for Max when they were outside in the open some place. “Please, nothing is wrong, just do your work.”

“Would you please take the night off and go eat dinner with me some place?” Alex tried again. “Lizzie—”

Blinking back the tears, Liz fought to maintain the façade of professionalism she has been hiding behind ever since Max disappeared from her sight on that desert track. “Thank you, Alex, but I’d rather be—”

“Alone. I knew you would say that.” He walked closer to her desk, his hands in his pockets. “I’m going to have to force you then.” Her eyes flew to his, finding his expression resolute. “If you don’t go out with me tonight, I’m telling him.”

Liz was truly shocked. This was gentle Alex, who she thought had still been leery of Max Evans and all he stood for. Now he was threatening her with disclosing her personal situation to Max! “You wouldn’t!”

“I would.” He folded his arms across his chest. “You’re pale and tired and you’ve lost weight. He’s going to have a fit.”

That’s if he ever sees me again, Liz thought ruefully. But Alex was right. She’d been burning the candle at both ends to keep Khivar happy while at the same time finding out whatever she could about his operation for Max, not to mention to keep “Andre” updated with Khivar’s activities too. Khivar’s control structures were surprisingly centralized—he ran most everything himself and he didn’t have as many soldiers from Antar here on earth as Liz had suspected. “Andre” had slowly started a project to sway the humans working for Khivar over to the resistance’s side a few months back. This was risky, but “Andre” figured they had to take the risk to gain in the long term. One day, Khivar will only have his alien troops and a few die-hard human supporters left to count on.

And when the day of active resistance came, the people Liz had processed through this lab, will return from the camps they are living in…

Liz sighed and closed her laptop. “Okay, meet me at my apartment in an hour,” she capitulated. She didn’t want Max to know Khivar has been acting strange around her or that she was busy working herself into an early grave. She figured if she was tired enough at night, she would fall asleep without seeing Max’s face when he had begged her to stay. It had been the hardest thing she’s ever done – leaving him there in the desert. But she still believed that earth belonged to the humans – even if the thought of Max leaving earth completely was too devastating to think about. This wasn’t about her, it was about her whole planet.

Alex went off looking relieved, and Liz wearily closed up so she could go home. Max’s absence left a permanent aching hole in her heart and how she wished she could just stop taking the stupid serum so she could feel him again! But with Khivar as suspicious as he was, there was no way she could risk it.

It was drizzling outside when she drove to the apartment complex where she lived—the weather was echoing her own emotions. She felt… empty and unbearably sad. Her feet dragged as she approached her front door—the place that had always been her refuge now felt cold and lifeless. Max had only been to the apartment two times, the first time after one of her classes when she invited him and the second when he had just materialized on her doorstep late one night. The night he had marked her…

The lights in her apartment were on again. A creepy feeling of deja vue crept over her, something was wrong.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Max studied the message Doran had gotten from Alex while Maria hovered over him, obviously concerned about his reactions. It was a list of names of the troops Khivar brought to earth—two hundred of them—and their locations—Antarians working for Khivar, the backbone of his operation. This small group was being supported by all the security forces of the USA, so if those human forces could be swayed away from him, they would be home free.

There was no word in the message about Liz and the disappointment tasted acid in his mouth. Desperately afraid for Liz and what she was facing alone in Carlsbad, he fought again to stop himself from rushing over there and dragging her back here where he could watch over her safety himself. The piece of paper crinkled in his hand – the list was invaluable. With the names and the locations, they can plan an attack to get rid of these soldiers, leaving the resistance to take care of whatever humans were working directly for Khivar.

“How are they?” Maria broke the silence.

“He doesn’t say,” Max replied tersely, still staring at the list of names.

“Well,” Maria sounded uncertain, concerned, “that’s good I guess. If they were in trouble he would have let us know, right?”

But that was the problem, Max wasn’t sure Liz would let him know if she was in trouble. She would try to handle things on her own, trying to stop him from putting his own life in jeopardy for her. Beautiful, courageous, obstinate woman. Mi Shanaya.

“Max?”

“Uh, yeah, I suppose.” Suddenly, he needed to be alone and carefully laying the precious message on his bed, he rose stiffly. “I’m going for a walk, tell the others we’ll have a meeting later tonight, please, Maria.”

“Are you sure? I could walk with you… Tell you about—”

“Thanks, but no.” He smiled at his friend, trying to ease the concern in her eyes. “I just need a few minutes on my own.”

She let him go then, and he walked to the flat rock where Liz had first told him who she really was.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

This time, it was Khivar waiting for her in her apartment. He had rarely seen her after hours before, leaving that kind of work to Nicholas, but there he sat on her overstuffed couch, looking for all the world as if he owned the place. Liz lifted her chin, hiding the instant fear that slithered down her spine. “Khivar! This is a surprise,” she managed calmly.

He was watching her intently, like he was trying to see through her. “I have some startling news that I need to discuss with you,” he finally informed her, those cold blue eyes never leaving her face for an instant.

“Actually, I have plans tonight,” Liz told him firmly. “Can this wait until tomorrow?”

He rose from the couch abruptly. “No, this isn’t a request, it’s an… instruction.” Carefully avoiding the word “order”. “The Antarian Rebels I’ve been trying to find are here in New Mexico.”

The hand of fear around Liz’s heart closed a little tighter. “They are?”

“Yes. And I have reason to believe that someone within my organization is helping them.” His regard was stifling, penetrating, watching for any little sign that she might know what he was talking about.

“That’s… impossible.” She stared at him with wide eyes. Keep it together, Liz, he is testing you.

“One would think so, yes.” He smiled at her thinly, his handsome face filled with icy scorn. “I’m not sure how a human thinks he… or she, will get away with this for long…”

Realizing her hands were clenched into fists at her side, her fingernails digging into her palms, Liz made a concerted effort to relax. “How did you find these Rebels? Isn’t that good news? You’ve… we’ve been looking for them for so long.”

Closer now, Khivar started circling her slowly. “I’ve always wondered how it was possible for them to hide so well on this primitive planet. I thought that the archaic communication systems around here were blocking me. We could never pick up a signal. And those stupid fools of the resistance were too chaotic to be a real threat.” He had stopped behind her and was talking intimately into her ear. “But now it seems they have help. From someone close to me. Someone clever.”

Khivar watched as Liz shivered. What was she hiding? His spy in the resistance couldn’t find out anything concrete, just that a message had been relayed via the resistance to a shadowy figure seemingly linked to his prey. The content of the message was unknown since only a few people worked with it. But the message originated in Carlsbad—home to Khivar’s head office. A lot of people had asked Khivar why he had chosen an out-of-the-way place like Carlsbad for his main base and he never really answered them truthfully. The real reason was the search for the missing two Antarian Royals and the fact that his investigations had proven they had been hidden somewhere in New Mexico. Now, he was about to be proven correct.

If only he could figure out what is going on with his favorite scientist.

“Do you know of anyone that would want to harm our cause?” he asked Liz, still towering over her menacingly.

“No.” Liz cringed when she answered too quickly. What did he know? Did he have anything on her or was he just trying to see if she’d crack?

Sliding his hand over her nape, he fingered the small scar where his tracking device lay. Still nothing, not even when he touched it. Concentrating more of his power into the effort of activating the small chip, he suddenly had a flash of Liz… touching a mirror. The flash was gone as quickly as it came and it left him frowning. Something was strange about the vision—there had been a microsecond when he could have sworn he saw something shimmering on the surface of the mirror.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The sudden flash of Liz touching a mirror where his handprint glowed silver, forcibly jerked Max out of his silent reverie. He had been concentrating on her, trying to regain a tiny bit of the sensation of being linked to her, when the flash surprised him. Was it something from his memories? No, that couldn’t be, he had never seen her awake from inside the cell.

Something else was happening here.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

What was Khivar doing, standing so still while touching his brand? Liz fought against the panic, reciting the periodic tables in her mind. Heat abruptly coiled through her stomach and, for a fleeting moment, it felt like Max was touching her intimately. Involuntarily, her neck arched as she gasped.

It had happened so unexpectedly that she recovered too late.

Khivar was in front of her in an instant. “Well, well, well… Someone’s been at my Lizzie!” His eyes bored into hers. “Who was it? Who was he?”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Clutching at his head, Max wondered if he was starting to lose it because he missed Liz so much. Another flash of her, neck arched in ecstasy had also assailed him, another scene that didn’t come from his memories. God, he missed her!

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“I—I’ve just been having strange dreams lately,” Liz tried to cover. What had he seen? She smiled weakly. “I think maybe I’ve been without a guy for too long.”

He watched her closely, before stepping up to her and placing his hand over the scar. “Let’s see about those dreams then…” Closing his eyes, Khivar forced his power into the chip one more time, not even hearing Liz’s whimper of pain. The image rushed over him with a force he hadn’t expected, as if it was powered by something… not human. “Only ever you, Max.” Opening his eyes, he stared down at Liz with a new light in his eyes. “Max… His name is Max.”

Alex had halted outside the front door when he heard Khivar’s voice inside. The last words made him cold. Sneaking a look around the door, his worst suspicions were affirmed when he saw Liz being held by Khivar, a small grimace of pain on her face, her eyes starting to look dazed.

Spinning around, he dashed towards his car. Only one person could help Liz now.

Khivar increased the grip he had on Liz’s neck. “Who is he?”

“I’m… telling you,” Liz gasped, fighting the dull ache in her head, “I dreamt him.”

Bringing his other hand to her breast, he curled his fingers around her flesh, just this side of real pain. “I can force you to tell me…”

“I’m telling you the t—truth…” Liz felt his thumb starting to caress her neck in a mockery of their embrace. He was still staring at her hard and she felt the darkness waiting to pounce on her. “P-please… I’m not lying…”

She could be right, Khivar mused. The poor girl is probably so sexually repressed that it made sense for her to have such erotic dreams. A small glimmer of light caught his attention and his eyes jerked down to her neck. This time when he moved his thumb just below her ear nothing happened. Had he imagined the soft shimmer he had seen there fleetingly?

Because… it couldn’t be, could it?

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Max’s roar brought everyone running. He had finally surmised that whatever he was seeing was from Liz. By some weird miracle, he was seeing flashes of her. And the last one had been of a man with the coldest blue eyes touching her, hurting her…

An amazing calm took hold of him as he faced all his frantic people. “I’m going to Liz. Start putting our plans in action.” Rubbing his hand over his heart, he forced his mind to rule his actions. “Michael, take over until we get back. Decide on a way to neutralize those men on the list Alex sent us.”

First, he would find Liz.

Then, he would kill the bastard that’s hurting her right now.

tbc

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