Title: A Breath Away
Author: Me! Shay!
Rating: Anywhere from G to R
Category: AU M/L
Disclaimer: My idea, my story. Names and such ain't mine. I'm only 16, don't sue!
Summary: Don't want to give away the story too much. No aliens. Max is special, Liz appears out of nowhere. True love prevails.

AN: I'm one big bubble of updates lately! These Perfect Stars and now this! Got another story update on the way... *big*


A Breath Away

Nobody could hurt me like I know she could hurt me,
But there's nothing in this world that I want more.
Nobody could take me to the places that she takes me,
Places that I've never been before.
With my eyes wide open knowing full well

I could fall from heaven
I could fall from heaven
I could fall, I could break, that's the chance that I take.
I could fall

Look at me I'm flying, just a breath away from dying,
Holding on to her and letting go.
As I walk across this wire above a lake of fire,
And lean into the wind that starts to blow.
With my eyes wide open knowing full well

Do I hide my heart? Do I lock my door?
Do I tear it out so it don't feel no more?
No, I risk it all knowing that I could fall from heaven.

I could fall from heaven
I could fall
I could fall
I could fall
I could fall
Fall, fall

- I Could Fall, Evan and Jaron



True love. Two simple terms. True. Love.

Our good friend Webster can give us definitions of the two words.

True: in accordance with fact; not false.

On that much, our pal may be speaking the truth.

Love: 1) strong affection or liking for someone or something, 2) a passionate affection of one person for another, 3) the object of such affection; a sweetheart or lover, 4) in tennis, a score of zero.

Such arbitrary ways to explain the word. To many, these explanations are enough, they answer the question, they serve the purpose.

But to the few lucky people in the world and elsewhere, these combinations of words used to describe that one single feeling, is simply not enough. Once you know love, you know little of anything else, and when all you feel is love, you become an expert on the subject.

One who has been in love would scoff at the pathetic things that Webster had to say about it. Most especially those who have had the joy of not just love, but true love.

Many of you are telling me to explain it to you. Thoughts are racing through your head; objections to my statements. You're thinking, if Webster did such a poor job, let's see if you can do any better.

But I've already told you that it can't be explained, only felt.

And aside from that, my job here is not to tell you what love means. I'm here to be the storyteller, to tell you a tale that exceeds all others, that will leave you with no questions as to what true love's limits are.
And what you will learn from this saga is that true love has no limits.

It's a simple tale. A young human man with a fate that he yet knows nothing of. Naïve, he is not. He just cannot foresee the future. No one can. No person, that is.

An innocent spirit, who knows not how she came to be where she is. She is not innocent in the way that she knows nothing of the evil of the world, because she knows all of it. Rather, she's innocent in a certain inexplicable way that you will understand when you hear of her.

In a twist of fate, though you must understand fate is never mistaken, their paths entwine. And they find that their greatest battle is yet to be realized, and that things you think should be free and blessed in the world, sometimes are not.

And this is their story.


"To see her was to love her, and love but her forever." -Burns

Part 1

Max Evans listened to the leaves rustle outside his window, their state of unrest matching his own. In his room he felt a sort of confinement that he was finding difficult to describe. Every so often the air would seem thicker, the walls would seem closer, and he felt completely out of place in his own rather large bedroom. It happened sometimes, not always in his room. All different places.

Max ran over the last line of the book in his head. What the hell was this guy talking about? He was just putting words together and making it sound important. Stupid people probably thought he was actually saying something scientific. Absolute crap.

He heard her drop through his window but didn't really bother to turn around. It wasn't like he had to wonder who it was. A few soft footsteps later and he could hear her breathing. He felt her arms wrap around his shoulders from behind, felt the kiss on his cheek, smelled her sweet and spicy scent.

"Got ya something!"

She held a paper bag out in front of his face, forcing him to smile and put the book down - not that he minded; it was crap - and turn around to face her.

"Ria, you didn't have to get me anything."

Maria Deluca sat down on the edge of his bed, crossing her legs. "I know. So open it!"

Max shook his head and opened the bag up wide enough to let the item drop out. "Hey, it's the Goo Goo Dolls."

Maria stood up, walking around. "Yeah, I know, I bought it."

Max rolled his eyes, watching her sit down and stretch her legs out to the sides. "What's the occasion?"

She didn't look at him, too busy leaning out on the ground between her outstretched legs. Max winced involuntarily. He didn't think it was good to be that flexible. Didn't she suffer from her muscles loosening or something?

"No occasion. Just got bored, had extra cash from my last gig, and I thought you would like it."

Max nodded, setting the CD down by the now named 'Book of Crap.' He watched Maria finish that hideous stretching thing and stand up. One leg went straight up over her head, and she balanced herself that way. She didn't care that she was wearing a skirt and Max had a clear view of her underwear. Nor did she care that her underwear were barely anything, a sheer blue with little embroidered flowers.

And Max didn't care either. Because he didn't look at them. But it was Tuesday, so he knew what underwear she'd be wearing. It was Maria's pattern. Different kinds of underwear every day of the week. That way you never get boring, you're always sexy, and you're prepared for every occasion. Or so she said. Max personally wouldn't know, he never wore panties.

Just one more thing that was in the 'Ria' section of his brain.

"How'd it go today?" Her blond hair swayed a bit as she switched feet, the other leg springing up above her head.

Max just shook his head, looking away. "Boring as usual. It used to be okay because they'd ask me all sort of questions. But now they just seem to be asking me the same things over and over again. I feel like I'm in a circle or something."

Maria finally put both feet on the ground, sitting down on the ground normally. "Have they come up with any new 'theories?'"

Max slipped her an ironic smile. "You mean 'possible conclusions for Mr. Evans' abilities?'" He watched her smile and nod. "Not that they've told me. But tomorrow they said they're going to have me try to tell them what's coming up on their screen. Like I'm a little Anakin Skywalker or something."

Maria started laughing. Giggling in that hyena-like but not as annoying way that Max loved to hear almost always. "That's the best one yet! 'Well, Max, it turns out you're a Jedi knight that will one day turn to the daaaark side.'"

Max laughed and shrugged. "Not that they haven't tried everything else."

Maria nodded. "Yeah. My favorite was that they thought you were an alien though. That was classic. How did you keep a straight face when they told you?"

Max chuckled. "I couldn't laugh, I was in shock! I mean, Ria, they actually believed I had somehow been abducted and implanted or something. They were serious. You can't laugh at something like that, you're too busy wondering why you're letting these people study you."

Maria nodded, her smile fading as she moved over to Max's open window and pulled out a cigarette. "Good point." She pointed the pack in his direction. "Want?"

Max shook his head, joining her by the window. "You're lucky I'm not giving you a lecture."

Maria nodded, blowing the smoke out into the night. They were both quiet for a moment, enjoying the view. The breeze blew through the open window, cool from the night.

"You know I love you, right?"

Max nodded, not looking at her, because he already knew she wouldn't be looking at him.

"Good." He heard the rustle of her leather skirt as she shifted position against the window. "That said, I just want you to know that…" There was a pause and Max listened to her sigh. Then came the fast talk when she knew what she was going to say and was nervous about it. "I think that you should keep going after this month. I mean, I know your two years are up and everything, but I'm thinking it does you good. It's like therapy almost, you know? And I'm not saying that they're going to make some amazing breakthrough and figure out anything, but I do think that you need it."

Max nodded slowly, turning to face her because he knew she'd be turning to him as well. She tossed her cigarette out the window and looked at him. Her green eyes shined with sincerity and concern.

"These doctors…psychologists…whatever they are, they've become a part of you these last couple years, and I think that without them, you might not be the person you are now. You and I both know what could have gone down, and they were at least a part of your saving grace. Besides," she laughed slightly.
"Where else would I get to hear these ridiculous diagnoses?"

Max smiled at her then. His Maria. Knowing exactly what he was thinking and thinking it herself. He nodded at her, before pulling her into a hug.

"You know you're my best friend?"

She smiled against his shoulder. "Better believe it."


Isabel's voice echoed through the whole house, down the empty hallways. Max sighed and turned to Maria. "You staying or leaving?"

She narrowed her eyes with a mischievous grin. "And miss the verbal sparring with your oh so adoring sister?"

Max grinned, heading towards his door. Maria passed him through the doorway and he came out behind her. "Lead the way m'lady."

Maria laughed and they started towards the dining room. They walked in companionable silence. Maria had told him more than a few times that she hated talking in the halls because her words echoed and it freaked her out. 'Gave her the heebie jeebies,' were her actual words.

And Max understood that a bit. He didn't prefer the enormous halls himself. It was too much. Halls were for getting from place to place, not for statues and wall murals. Not that he minded wall murals, but they seemed a little extravagant in a hallway.

In fact, he could spend a great deal of time in the library because the ceiling fascinated him so. There were paintings throughout the house, but this was different somehow. He loved a great painting as much as the next person, but he couldn't stare at them. He couldn't sit for hours and watch them, making sure the paint wouldn't shift positions before his eyes. They didn't come alive to him; they were works of art done by someone else who was alive or dead, and if living, probably wealthy and living in a rather large house like his own.

The ceiling in the library was different. Little angels danced on sunlit clouds, smiling, eyes full of wonder at what they were looking down at. It was like they couldn't figure out why Earth was the way it was. When pondered, he came to the conclusion that they probably couldn't. The Earth was so messed up, so catastrophic, so completely wrong to their acute sense of innocence that he had no doubt they were genuinely confused.

The scene wasn't only different because of the scene and the thoughts in Max's mind it provoked, it was different in an all around unique energy. Too many times to count he would be sitting alone, in the house or anywhere else, and he got a feeling. He could only call it a feeling because any other word seemed wrong. It wasn't any sort of want, need, or sudden urge. It was on another plane, something inside of him gave a little pull, and he wanted to be in the library. Staring back at those little cherubs, trying to tell them with his eyes that he really didn't understand why people were the way they were. That he wished he knew, not so that he could save himself, so he could save those he cared about the most. Maria and Isabel were first and foremost on his list.

And there were so many questions he wished he had the answers to.

His thoughts were broken when he and Maria finally stepped into the dining room. The table made for eighteen only had three places set, appearing empty and depressing.

Maria sat down in the chair across from Max, a faint smile playing on her lips.

"So, how did the genius know I was staying for dinner today?"

Isabel sat down as well, in between Max and Maria on the end of the table. Her face gave way to nothing, her features appearing bored and exasperated with such idiotic questions.

"It's not that hard, Maria. I hear a loud thump from you landing through the window and I never heard you squalling like you do when you jump out the window. There's this amazing invention called a door. Use it some time."

Isabel coolly flipped her hair over her shoulder and gave Maria a superior smile. Maria didn't notice, however, because the food was on the way. Max had to laugh at her; she had a real fascination with hired help. Max had it around his entire life, nothing new to him at all. And he would think Maria would be used to it by now as well, but her eyes got wide and she got a grin of wonder every time Talieta brought out the food.

After their meals had been served, Isabel turned to Max, her eyes slightly softening. "So, how was today?"

Max nodded, stuffing a piece of his roll into his mouth. Isabel always asked, even if she didn't find his day exceptionally great. Politeness was her specialty.

"Okay, I guess. Same stuff as every day."

Maria nodded rapidly then, a grin breaking out on her face like when she thought of something to say. Most of the time she grinned when she had something that would vex Isabel.

"And how was your day, Queen Isabella? Another grueling and hardworking day of kissing some stranger?"

Isabel rolled her eyes before giving Maria a tight-lipped smile. Max watched, his interest in their argument actually quite high for a change. Anything to take his mind off other thoughts.

"Maria, it's called a stage kiss. You perform on a stage, you stage kiss. I'm surprised you're even interested, though. When was the last time you were kissed? Seventh…no, eight grade?"

Maria gulped down some of her milk, her blond hair falling in her face slightly. "As usual, your accuracy astounds me," she deadpanned. One of Max's favorite things about Ria was her sarcasm. She had probably made out with some guy last night, but she didn't object to Isabel's statement. She'd told Max once that you can't respond with facts all of the time, because then they know too much about you, and they have too much to use against you. You must leave an air of mystery, so they're left wondering. 'Especially with Isabel,' she'd said, 'because that way she thinks she knows everything when she doesn't know anything at all.'

Isabel launched into a conversation about her newest project, interrupted periodically by cutting remarks from Maria, and Max's attention was drawn to the window.

A small blue bird perched on the outside window sill, tipping his head to the side. Max watched it for a moment, as he ruffled his feathers and chirped quietly. Max wondered why the little bird was out at night. He chirped one last time, looked in Max's direction for a split second and flew off into the night. Max felt a pull in his gut, and for a few moments everything faded away.

"Don't you think so Max?"

Max snapped his head up, looking Maria and Isabel's directions. He set down his fork, shaking his head slightly.

"Um…think about what?"

Maria laughed until she snorted and Isabel rolled her eyes. Max just grinned at Maria, and tried to ignore the pull in his gut.


Part 2

Max sat in the corner booth, watching Maria up on stage. His drink forgotten in front of him, he watched her move with a slow sort of dance of the senses. He couldn't explain it any better than that she had a presence on stage that couldn't be ignored. One of the mains reasons that this place kept hiring her and hiring her.

'The Vision' was nothing special, just another club to add to the endless amount of them. It seemed to Max, however, that he spent more time here than anywhere else. Maria performed just about every other night, and he tried to never miss a performance. Not that he was ever busy anyway, his social calendar wasn't what you would call extensive. He didn't have to work, him and Isabel were set for pretty much the rest of their lives due to their parents' accident.

Week days were spent at the lab, nights were usually spent at The Vision, and all other time was spent however he wanted it to be. He ran a lot, keeping his body in shape. He read a lot, the library making him most peaceful. Long walks were good to enjoy what was around him and think for a while. Isabel always had a play opening that he was off to see, Maria was always dragging him crazy places. And Michael…

Max looked over to Michael, standing behind the bar, serving drinks. He looked up at Maria, his gaze intent, then back to what he was doing. Max and Michael had a relationship that was hard to describe. Max wasn't close to people; it wasn't that he didn't like them, it was the way he came. There was a certain level of closeness between he and his sister, but the distance had grown as the years after the accident wore on.

And then there was Maria. Maria knew him better than anyone else, but there were certain things she still couldn't touch about him. Not that she tried, everyone had their boundaries. When you know someone that well you know what they like to be and what they don't like to be. What they want to be seen and what they don't. And you simply don't touch what they don't like to be seen. Max and Maria were simple. They understood each other and balanced one another perfectly. Her spunk and his quiet strength complimented each other. They were often mistaken for a couple, and while the thought had crossed both their minds in their 13 years of being inseparable, it was avoided. Just an instinct that it would screw up everything they held dear.

But Michael and Max…


"We're adults, Max!"

He watched Maria spin in circles, her blonde hair long and curly at the time. The park was nearly empty, the lights were dim. A homeless person on a nearby bench grumbled in his sleep. Max watched her spin, the grin on her face making him smile as well.

"Maria, I've been eighteen for a few months now. You're not even yet."

She halted her spinning, turning back to him, a few feet ahead. "Max, small technicality. I'm talking about being free! We've been out of high school for a full month!" She started skipping ahead of him, knowing he was following where she'd lead. "We're adults embarking on a journey. And," she stopped to point a finger at him. "My birthday is three days away. Don't bother me with details."

Max laughed slightly and shook his head, reaching her and looping his arm through hers. "Shall we, m'dear?"

They headed down the street to The Vision, where they spent most of their high school years even though they couldn't drink anything. Maria swore up and down that she could sing better than the 'wannabe Spice Girl' on stage, and Max agreed with her.

After sitting, Max took a survey of his surroundings. Kyle at the bar, as usual, 'drowning his sorrows.' As well as he could while drinking ginger ale. But the new bartender caught his eye. He was specifically avoiding looking at anyone directly, instead just moving around to do his job. Max watched the way he fooled people into thinking he was looking at them when instead he focused right above their nose, to their ear, any place. And then, quite accidentally, he met Max's eyes.

Maria shook his shoulder. "That new bartender is hot. He needs some hair work though."

Max snapped his gaze away, turning to Maria's excited face. "You know, most bartenders find the people for gigs. I'm gonna go talk to him."

And with a breeze she was gone. Max walked her trek to the bar, her hips swaying in her black mini skirt. He watched her approach him and watched as he talked to her. To her. Not at her. Full on eye contact. Interesting.

He took Maria's number with a smile and a nod, and Max watched Maria wave him over. He looked at her confused and scooted out of the booth, joining her. "Max, this is Michael. Michael, Max."

And Michael talked straight to him as well. Interesting. Max's brain had a habit of absorbing things like that.

The three talked for a while about nothing important, then Maria yawned and bid us goodnight. I knew it was part of her 'charm and walk away' plan. Now that she'd successfully gotten Michael interested and was her adorable self for a while, she'd leave him wanting more.

A few hours later Michael was grabbing his coat. "I'm outta here, you wanna get something to eat?"


It was simple really. A friendship very simply made, very simply obtained. They talked, nothing important. Four years later Michael was still calling him out of nowhere to go and eat something, take a walk, brave the gym. There was nothing to worry about really. No dramatics, no secrets, no worry about saying the wrong thing, because neither really gave a crap. The friendship was comfortable, but not necessary.

Maria sat down beside him now, taking a break in her performance.

"Hey, you look great up there. I know I've told you ten time, but I love your haircut."

She grinned at me, her lip gloss shining. She'd cut her hair to about her shoulder, the curl disappearing. "Max, you always know what to say." She glanced around, then focused on the bar. "I'll be back in a bit." Peck on the cheek, and breeze of the Maria smell, and she's gone.

Max watched her approach Michael, the way she swayed her hips even after four years. The way she leaned a bit closer to talk to him. She was interested. He was interested. Nothing happened. Max had to ask himself why almost every night. Michael avoided the subject of Maria like the plague, Maria told Max that Michael was a bonehead and why would she possibly care?


But he was left feeling that nothing ever would happen either. Their feelings would carry on inside, time would move on, and neither would forget but neither would do anything. Just an instinct he had.
Now, she was flirting up a storm with the blonde guy next to her, and Michael was down the bar serving Kyle another drink. Just like that, the spark gone.

Max shook his head, sighing and leaving the booth. He approached Maria, placed a hand on her waist. She took a moment from the guy next to her and turned to Max.

"I'm gonna head home, I've gotta be there early tomorrow."

Maria nodded. "Alright, good luck." Kiss on the cheek and he's gone.

He walked along the street, wet from some recent rain. Ria always managed to wish him luck, like the psychopaths were actually going to come up with something substantial. A rare breeze blew across his neck and Max paused in his walk. He looked around him, but the street was basically empty aside from a few guys walking on the opposite side, obviously very drunk.

He looked at the building beside him, sort of old looking. The red bricks were overgrown with vines, the windows dusty. But something about it made him take a step closer. It was a feeling, something inside of him similar to when he felt the need to take a trip to his library…

And it was gone.

He shook his head, heading back to his home. He did want to go to his library.


"Liz Parker," she mumbled, staring at herself in the mirror.

"That's right," Alex said from behind her. "And this is home. We couldn't clean it up for you, it would have been too obvious, but…" He stopped surveying the house and turned to her. She was still looking in the mirror. He came up behind her and placed his hands on her shoulders.

"Hey," he said softly. "You're beautiful. You're going to do a great job, don't worry about it."

She turned to him, her eyes a cloud of confusion. Alex noted that her eyes really were windows to her soul. Every emotion splayed well through them, made her unbearably easy to read. She was small, a tiny body figure that held such a strong soul. Her chocolate hair was silk to the touch, falling down below her shoulders. Pink lips, a natural blush in her cheeks, olive skin. Amazing, he sent the thought upwards.

"How can I do such a great job when I don't even know what it is I'm doing?" she whispered.

Her words broke Alex's heart, but he knew he couldn't say anything. The journey she was taking she was taking alone. He knew how, he knew what would come, but he also knew he couldn't reveal it to her. He brought her in for a quick hug before pulling away and looking down at her again.

"You're brave, Liz. You know that you wouldn't have been selected to do anything if you weren't. You've got a strength that we see, that we know will get what needs to be done, done."

"What if I never meet him? This is so big, and there's so many people. What if I mistake him for someone else?" Her insecurities were arising, and her eyes now filled with despair. "Oh, what if I do this wrong?"

"You won't," Alex replied with quiet confidence. "You're here to guide him, you're here to be the whisper in his ear." He took a few steps back, watching her turn and survey her home. "He's close, closer than you know. And when you look in his eyes, you'll know exactly who he is. There won't be any doubts."

She blinked a few times, licking her lips and tucking hair behind her ears. "Do you really think I'm the one fit to do this?" she asked, staring straight into him, needing to know he believed it enough.

"I don't think, I know." He smiled softly. "Instead of your eyes, look with your soul. There will be no mistake." He watched her eyes sparkle with determination, and knew everything would be just fine. "I'd wish you luck, but you don't need it," another soft smile. "Goodbye, Liz."

He disappeared and Liz felt the pressure settle on her shoulders. She didn't know a name, she didn't have a description…she barely knew her own name. How could they possibly have such confidence in her?

She looked back in the mirror, her eyes roaming over her features. She wouldn't cry when she'd just begun. The want to made her throat sore, she felt her eyes burning. No doubt she would learn to cry before this was over, she was prepared for that. But she wouldn't cry now. Not when she'd had such faith placed in her tiny body.

A deep breath, and a new resolve in all her features, she set about her first task. Cleaning her house.


To be continued... Feedback is lovely! *big*

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 24-Jul-2002 9:31:55 PM ]