posted on 29-Oct-2001 12:30:16 PM by Fanatic101
Author: Fanatic101 (Dan)

Category: A\U with M\L

Summary: This story is in response to a challenge issued by Chepi. I’ll list the conditions of the challenge as I go along, or if you want to spoil yourselves and find out the area’s I’m going to cover, the challenge can be found on this board. Keep in mind that everything is NOT how it seems.

Disclaimer: I own nothing that will be beneficial to others.

(from part 11)

“When are we going to leave?” Isabel asked as everyone turned their attention to Alex’s computer.

“I’m going to pick up everyone’s fake passports tomorrow morning,” Max said. “I already reserved us some seats on a plane that leaves tomorrow night. Which reminds me…I need to cover a few things with everyone. I figure the safest, and easiest, way to pull this off is to say that we’re all going on vacation. Alex and Isabel, you two are still going to be married, as are Liz and I. If we travel as married couples it raises less suspicion. I also think that it would be best to pretend that Jacob is mine and Liz’s. The entire state is looking for the three of you right now, so if we pass Jacob off as ours, it’ll only help our cause.”

“I agree,” Alex said. “I also think it would be best to check in separately and keep a low profile.”

“Will Jacob be alright with us?” Liz asked. “The last thing we need is for him to start calling out to his mom and dad while we’re in the middle of customs. It might make a few people suspicious seeing as how Max and I are supposed to be his parents.”

“He’ll be fine,” Isabel said with a smile. “I’ll explain everything to him.”

“Good,” Max said, nodding toward the computer. “Let’s have a look at that disc.”

“Right,” Alex said as he pulled the disc out of his pocket and put it into the computer. A few keystrokes and mouse clicks later, they were all staring at the fieldwork of Liz’s former co-worker, Sean Wallace.

“Rhyolite, Nevada?” Isabel asked as she skimmed the field reports. “Where the hell is that?”

“Near Las Vegas,” Max said, scanning the photos on the screen. “That’s Eli,” he said, pointing at one of four pictures. “But who’s that with him?”

“OH…MY…GOD!” Alex said slowly, his mouth falling open as his eyes widened.

“Alex,” Isabel said, pointing at the same picture that had Eli in it. “Is that who I think it is?”

“Y…yeah,” Alex said in disbelief, turning to look at his wife. His eyes shifted to Max before he answered the question. “That’s my dad.”

To Be Continued…

Authors Note: I finally wrote another part! Now I'm falling behind on all my other stories, urgggghhhh! I've had a few of you ask me when another update for Best I Ever Had is coming out, and my answer is soon! (Hopefully)

Part 12

“No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no…” Alex kept repeating as he paced the length of the room.

“Alex,” Isabel said as she sat on the bed next to Liz. “I’m sure there’s a perfectly good explanation for this.”

“What kind of explanation could there possibly be?” Alex asked, extending his arms out from his sides. “My dad belongs to a…a…a terrorist group. That’s what it is,” he said as he resumed his pacing.

“What does your dad do exactly?” Max asked. He was still sitting at the table in front of the computer, scrolling through a report.

“He’s in the military,” Alex said. “Army Intelligence.”

“The Army?” Liz asked as she turned to Max. “Isn’t that who recruited you out of high school?”

Max nodded as he sat back in his chair and folded his arms across his chest, a look of deep thought and concentration on his face.

“So what are you saying?” Isabel asked. “That Alex’s dad had something to do with ruining my brothers life? If that’s true, then that would mean that he also had something to do with my parents’ deaths.”

“Oh God, I think I’m going to puke,” Alex said as he clutched his stomach and ran for the bathroom.

“Nobody’s saying that,” Max said as he brought his hands up to rub his temples.

They all turned to look at the bathroom when they heard Alex throwing up. Isabel jumped to her feet and ran to help her husband. When they both emerged a few minutes later, Isabel was holding a damp washcloth on the back of Alex’s neck.

“Alex, sit down, please,” Max said as he stood up and motioned to the bed. When everyone was seated, he took a deep breath before he spoke again. “Look, the bottom line is that we have no idea why your dad was meeting with Eli. Any suggestion we may come up with is just going to be a half hazard guess, and I think the best way to tackle this is not to assume anything. For all we know, he may have been out there asking for directions.”

“I wish,” Alex muttered.

“There’s a few questions that I can’t seem to wrap my mind around,” Max said as he started to pace the length of the room, mimicking Alex’s movements from a few minutes earlier. He started to run off all the questions he had, talking more to himself than anyone else. He hoped that by saying them out loud he’d be able to think of the answers. “Who encrypted the disc? Was it Eli or this Sean guy? If it was Eli, how did Sean get a hold of it? Did Sean get a hold of it? Maybe Eli had it planted in Liz’s purse. But if that were the case, why would he be so eager to get it back? On the other hand, if it were Sean who put it in her purse, why did he choose Liz? Did he just stick the disc into the first purse he came across, or did he single Liz out? Think, think, think,” he said, scratching his forehead. “Okay…the disc has to belong to Sean, right?” he asked, turning to the other three for confirmation.

“I think so,” Alex said. “That’s the only explanation as to why Eli’s so hell-bent on getting it back.”

“Right,” Max said before he resumed pacing. “So that answers the next question: Who encrypted the disc? It had to be Sean as well. But why did he make it so easy to break?”

“Maybe he wanted it to be broken,” Liz suggested.

“If that were the case, why did he even bother to encrypt it in the first place?” Isabel asked.

“The encryption code was simple, but you’d have to know a little about computers to break it,” Alex said. “Your average Joe Blow wouldn’t be able to.”

“So maybe he encrypted the disc just to make sure that some idiot didn’t stumble across it on accident and delete it,” Liz said.

“Okay, here’s the next question,” Max said, standing in front of Liz. “Why did he choose you? I don’t think it was an accident, or that he just threw the disc in the first purse he came across. You said that he worked in a completely different division, located on the other side of the building than yours, right?” Liz nodded in response. “So he went out of his way to put it in your purse. He must have known that you weren’t an idiot, but there’s got to be more to it than that. Your entire office is filled with Ph.D.’s so I seriously doubt that he had a problem finding someone smart.”

After a few moments of silence, Alex spoke up. “It’s pointless to try and answer that question. I mean, realistically, we’ll never know why he chose Liz.”

Max nodded as he began to pace again. “Okay…here’s a question we can answer. Alex, where’s your dad stationed right now?”

“Washington, D.C.,” Alex replied. “Pentagon.”

“So we have you guys living in Roswell,” Max said, pointing at Alex and Isabel, “and your dad living in Washington, D.C. Liz lives in Boston, and the location that keeps popping up on that disc is Rhyolite, Nevada. God knows where Eli is, but put him aside and I don’t see any connections here. We have one person who works for the FBI, one for the Army, one for the molecular biology department at Harvard, and one that kills people for a living.” He continued to think for a minute when he suddenly stopped and turned to Liz. “What do your parents do?”

“They own a restaurant,” Liz replied.

“Where?” Max asked.

“Phoenix, Arizona,” Liz replied.

“Well there goes that theory,” Max said to himself.

“But my mom grew up in Roswell,” Liz added.

“You know, now that I think about it, my dad was stationed in Roswell a number of years ago,” Alex said. “He moved to Washington while I was still in college.”

“Okay,” Max said as he tried to piece everything together. “So now we have a connection with Roswell for some reason.”

“Maybe it’s just a coincidence,” Isabel suggested.

“I don’t think so,” Max said. “If it had been L.A. or New York then maybe. But Roswell’s far too small for this to be a coincidence.”

“I hate to interrupt, but do you think we could continue the brainstorming session tomorrow?” Alex asked. “I feel like crap and all this thinking is just making it worse.”

Isabel looked up at her brother for a second before she helped her husband into the bathroom.

Max grabbed his computer before he led Liz over to the door. “We’ll be back in the morning, sometime around eight or so,” he called out quietly, not wanting to wake Jacob.

“Okay,” came Isabel’s muffled reply. “Get some sleep.”

**********

Max stood near the window in his motel room, just staring out across the city. He had gone to bed with Liz a few hours earlier, but he knew he wouldn’t be able to rest with all the questions that were running around in his head. The only reason he tried in the first place was because he wanted Liz to fall asleep. Once she did, he slipped out of bed and made his way over to the spot he now occupied.

What does Alex’s dad have to do with all this?

That one question popped up more often than any other, and the one answer that kept rearing it’s head was the one that Max refused to accept – that Alex’s dad played a role in what happened to him and his parents. If that were true, then his dad also had to know who Isabel was when Alex first started to date her. That thought alone was enough to send shivers up Max’s spine. There had to be another explanation.

He ran a hand down his face before he folded his arms across his chest. He jumped a little when he felt a pair of arms delicately wrap themselves around his waist, obviously trying to avoid the bandage that still covered his gunshot wound. He looked over his shoulder when he felt Liz rest her cheek against his bare back, letting out a sigh in the process.

“Couldn’t sleep, huh?” Liz asked, her eyes closed.

“I just can’t wrap my mind around this,” Max said, looking back out the window. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

“I know,” Liz said, maneuvering herself around until she was standing directly in front of Max. “But we won’t have any answers until we talk to certain people. I know it goes against your nature, but don’t beat yourself up trying to figure everything out. I’m sure everything will be answered in time.”

“That’s what my dad used to say,” Max said with a smile, looking down at Liz for the first time.

“Come back to bed,” Liz said as she pulled Max behind her, leaving no room for discussion. After they climbed in, Liz turned on her side so she was facing Max. “Can I ask you something?”

Max turned to look at Liz, giving her a half amused, half annoyed look. “I thought you were going to stop asking me that.”

“Oh…sorry,” Liz said with a shy smile. “Do…are you scared of dying?”

Max held Liz’s gaze for a minute before he answered the question. “I’d by lying if I said I wasn’t.”

“Why?” Liz asked.

“What’s with all the questions?” Max asked back.

“Please Max,” Liz said. “This is important to me.”

“Okay,” Max said, taking a deep breath as he collected his thoughts. “I’m scared to find out what’s waiting for me on the other side. I’ve done a lot of things in my life that I’m not proud of, things that make most religious people certain that I’m bound for eternal damnation. I…I’m afraid to find out that they’re right.”

“But the only reason you did what you did was to protect Isabel,” Liz pointed out.

“But how do you justify killing one person to save another?” Max asked.

“I don’t know the answer to that,” Liz replied honestly. “But I do know that you didn’t kill those people in cold blood. If you agreed to…to take care of them, they must have done something very bad. Sure you’ve killed people, but you’re not a murderer. You have to believe that.”

“I’ve always justified my actions by convincing myself that I was doing the world a favor,” Max said. “By killing a drug lord, I was saving numerous kids that were bound to fall into his trap. By killing a murderer, I was saving all the lives that he was bound to take. I still believe that I helped make the world a better place, but there are times that I feel just as low as those that I rid the world of.”

“Max, look at me,” Liz said, pausing until she could see his eyes shift to her through the moonlit room. “I’m still here, aren’t I? You didn’t kill me. You didn’t kill me because you knew that I didn’t do anything wrong. Despite what you may think, I’ve gotten to know you pretty well over the past few days. I know that you’re sweet, caring, and would rather shoot yourself than harm one hair on an innocent persons head. The fact that you have a conscience proves that deep down you’re the same person that you were ten years ago, before all this started.”

Max turned to look at the ceiling as silence filled the room. A few minutes later, he turned to look at Liz again, who still had her eyes glued to him. “Thank you, Liz.”

“For what?” Liz asked. “I’m only telling the truth.”

Max shook his head. “Not just for what you said, but for giving me a way out. You’ve given me an escape route from everything I desperately want to leave behind.”

Liz smiled as she snuggled into Max’s side. “Just promise that you won’t leave me behind too.”

“Never,” Max said as he wrapped his arms around Liz, planting a kiss on the top of her head. “Never.”

****************

The next morning was uncomfortably quiet for everyone. Max had met up with his contact around noon, picking up the fake passports for everyone but himself. When he got back to the motel, he found Liz in Alex and Isabel’s room with both of their suitcases sitting next to the door. He smiled, realizing that she had packed his stuff for him.

“Did you get the passports?” Alex asked, standing from the bed.

Max held up the passports before he passed them out to everyone.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Alex said, glancing up at Max. “It says here that I’m 50 years old. And look at my picture! I’m half bald, and the hair I do have is all gray…” He paused momentarily as he took a closer look at the picture on the passport. “No, make that white!”

“We have to change your appearance,” Max explained. “That’s the only way we’re going to get the two of you out of the country.”

“What about Jacob?” Isabel asked.

“He’ll be with us, so I don’t think anyone will think twice about it,” Max said. “They’re looking for the two of you, so I seriously doubt they’ll expect Jacob to hitch a ride with someone other than his parents.”

“Can we get back to the part about me being bald?” Alex asked. “You don’t actually expect me to cut my hair like that, do you?” he asked, pointing at the picture.

“Relax,” Max said with a smile. “Everything will be temporary. I know a little about disguise, including how to make a bald wig look real.”

Alex let out a sigh of relief, visibly relaxing. “What time does our flight leave tonight?”

“Six o’clock,” Max said. “Which means we need to get crackin’ on the makeovers if we’re going to get there on time.”

“What are you going to look like?” Alex asked his wife as he took a peak at her picture. “Not bad,” he said, nodding his head. “Kind of a mix between Cindy Crawford and Martha Stewart.”

“Oh no, you did NOT just go there,” Isabel said, glaring at her husband. Alex knew full well that his wife couldn’t stand Cindy Crawford because the model thought she was the best thing since sliced bread, and she couldn’t stand Martha Stewart because she could do everything Isabel couldn’t.

“Relax hun,” Alex said with a smile, giving Isabel’s shoulders a light massage. “I’m just trying to keep the atmosphere light.”

“By insulting me?” Isabel asked, turning to face her husband with an incredulous smile on her face.

“I was only kidding,” Alex said, holding his hands up in defense. “You and I both know that neither one of them can hold a candle to you.”

Isabel glared at her husband for a minute, her arms crossed in front of her chest. “Nice recovery,” she said, a smile slowly forming across her face.

“Thanks,” Alex said, a little cocky.

“But you’ve got a long way to go before you’re out of the dog house,” Isabel added before she walked away.

***************

The tour through the airport went a lot smoother than anyone had expected. Alex and Isabel looked so different, Max and Liz even had a hard time recognizing them once they got on the plane. Jacob had been the perfect soldier, not saying a word to anyone at the airport as Max and Liz took him through the terminal. He tried to act normal, just like his mom told him to. He refused to let go of Liz’s hand, even when she needed to reach into her purse for her I.D. Liz not only found it adorable, but she also found herself wanting a little boy just like him. She was rapidly nearing thirty and silently prayed that her and Max would have a chance at a normal life once everything was over.

Max was on high alert the entire time. He and Alex had little trouble coming up with a way to smuggle their guns onto the plane. They both carried Glocks, a gun made mostly of polymer, a special kind of plastic. The only things that were metal were the barrel and slide, which they easily hid in some special camera equipment that Max had, made solely for smuggling weapons. He had only had to use the equipment once before on a trip to Europe, but he was thankful for it now.

Max and Liz took their seats on the plane, three rows ahead of Alex and Isabel. They put Jacob in the seat between them, telling him that his mom and dad were going to be at the hotel room once they landed. The last thing Isabel wanted was for Jacob to see her and Alex the way they were now – older and completely different looking. The poor kid wouldn’t even recognize them.

Halfway through the flight, Liz glanced over at Jacob, smiling when she saw him sleeping against Max’s chest. Max had one arm wrapped around Jacob, the other propped up on the armrest as he held his chin in his hand. He was staring out the window, clearly deep in thought. She continued to watch him as his eyes danced around, focusing on nothing in particular.

“You okay?” Liz whispered, reaching over and touching Max’s shoulder.

Max turned his head quickly, surprised by the sudden question. “Yeah. Just thinking.”

“About what?” Liz asked.

Max glanced over his seat, briefly making eye contact with Alex before he turned back to Liz. “Listen Liz…I want you do be prepared for anything once we land. I have no doubt that Eli’s already down there waiting for me. I want you to understand that things probably aren’t going to go smoothly.”

“What do you mean by ‘smoothly’?” Liz asked.

“I mean…there’s a very good chance that I won’t walk out of that bank without someone taking a shot at me,” Max said. “I’m not sure how many men Eli has with him, but I do know that he won’t give up twenty million dollars without a fight.”

Liz nodded, wishing that the truth were different. Deep down she knew that things were going to be complex, but to hear Max say it out loud made the situation that much more real.

“That’s why I don’t want you anywhere near that bank tomorrow,” Max continued.

“But Max…” Liz began to protest, a pleading look on her face.

“Liz,” Max said, cutting her off. “I could never live with myself if anything ever happened to you.”

“But what if something happens to you?” Liz asked. “Do you think I could live with myself knowing that I didn’t do everything in my power to help you?”

“Nothing’s going to happen to me,” Max said. “Just because I said that things were going to be complicated doesn’t mean that I’m going to let Eli or one of his men kill me.”

“If someone shoots at you, I don’t think there’s a whole lot you can do but pray that they miss,” Liz said.

“Oh, didn’t I tell you?” Max asked with a smile. “I can catch bullets with my teeth.”

“Catch bullets with you teeth?” Liz asked with a smile, raising an eyebrow.

Max nodded. “It’s something I picked up from a monk living in the Tahoe area.”

“Oh please,” Liz said, rolling her eyes.

Max let out a laugh as he reached over and rubbed Liz’s arm. “Look…I want you safe. Please don’t be mad at me for that.”

“I’m not mad at you,” Liz said, covering Max’s hand with her own. “I just don’t want to let you out of my sight.”

Max smiled as he reached up and tucked Liz’s hair behind her ears. “To me, your safety comes first. I don’t think--“ he stopped his sentence short when Liz reached over and softly placed her index finger against his lips.

“Let’s worry about it tomorrow,” Liz said with a tiny smile. “Please?”

“Alright,” Max said with a smile of his own.

***************

Once they landed in Cabo San Lucas, Max and Liz, along with Jacob, grabbed their luggage and headed over to the hotel they were staying at. About a half an hour later, after getting rid of their disguises, Alex and Isabel knocked on the door.

“Mommy!” Jacob exclaimed as he jumped off the bed and ran for Isabel.

Isabel bent over and picked up her son, holding him close as she stood back up.

“You didn’t have any trouble at the airport, did you?” Max asked as he closed the door behind Alex.

“Nope,” Alex said, shaking his head. “Your make-up job fooled everyone.”

“Good,” Max said as he walked over to his suitcase that was sitting on the bed and opened it. “I think it would be a good idea if we took a stroll down to the bank, you know, to get an idea of the layout outside.”

“Is that safe?” Isabel asked. “Won’t Eli be looking for you?”

“I know he’s looking for me,” Max said. “But he won’t do anything until he gets the disc.”

“I don’t want to put Jacob in danger,” Isabel said. “I trust that you know what you’re talking about, but I don’t want to take the chance with my son.”

“Okay,” Max said with a smile. “Why don’t you and Liz stay here--”

“I’m going with you,” Liz said, interrupting Max.

Max turned and looked at Liz, realizing when she met his gaze head on that this was an argument he was bound to lose. “I know. I want you to go too, but it would be safer for Isabel and Jacob if you stayed here. I don’t want to leave her alone, and I think, especially at a time like this, that it would be best if nobody were by themselves. Please Liz,” he said, walking up to her and taking her hands. “I promise to take you down there as soon as Alex and I are done.”

Liz kept her eyes locked on Max’s the entire time, never once looking away. “You better.”

************

A short time later, Max and Alex got ready to leave for the bank. They both checked their guns, just in case things got a little hairy while they were out and about.

“Here,” Max said, handing Liz a third gun that he pulled out of his suitcase.

“Where did you get this?” Liz asked, looking at the gun in her hands.

Max just smiled. “It’s a secret,” he said in a hushed voice. He then turned to Isabel, who had just put Jacob to bed. “Do you know how to shoot a gun?”

“I hate guns,” Isabel said.

“Join the club,” Liz muttered.

“I highly doubt you’ll have to use it,” Max said as he took the gun from Liz, checked to make sure it wasn’t loaded, then handed it to his sister. “I just want you to know what to do if the circumstance arises.”

“You point it at the bad guy and pull the trigger,” Isabel said.

“In a nutshell, yeah,” Max said. “Just line up your sights and squeeze the trigger, don’t pull it.”

“What’s the difference?” Isabel asked. “Either way you get the job done.”

“If you pull the trigger, you have a tendency to pull your shots,” Max explained. “Just point the gun and squeeze the trigger without jerking it. You don’t have to worry too much about recoil because this gun has a compensated barrel.”

“What does that mean?” Isabel asked.

Max took the gun from his sister and showed both her and Liz the two slits that were on the top of the slide, near the end of the gun. “Without going into specifics, these slits help reduce recoil,” he explained. “It makes it a lot easier to get off a follow up shot if need be.”

Liz took the gun from Max since Isabel seemed reluctant to touch it. “We’ll be fine,” she said with a smile.

“We’ll be back in a little while,” Max reassured them as he handed Liz the magazine for the gun, then headed out the door with Alex. “Lock the door behind us.”

Liz did as Max had instructed, bolting the door closed as soon as the two men were gone. “Hurry back,” she whispered, running her hand down the door.

**************

As Max and Alex walked to the bank, they both kept an eye out for anything unusual.

“Let me ask you something,” Alex said. “What are you going to do when this is all over with?”

“Oh I don’t know,” Max said with a slight shrug. “Probably buy an island or something.”

“Seriously,” Alex said with a chuckle. “Are you going to stick around? I know it would mean the world to both Isabel and Jacob if you did.”

“I’m not sure I can,” Max said honestly. “I have no idea what options I’ll be left with after this. I don’t even know if I’ll be able to stay with Liz.”

Alex stopped walking then and placed a hand on Max’s arm, stopping him as well. “Wait a second…why wouldn’t you be able to stay with Liz?”

“Take a good look at me, Alex,” Max said. “I’ve got nothing to offer her but a life filled with danger. Sure we could run off, change our names and hide out for the rest of our lives, but what about her family and friends? I’m not going to let her give them up because of me.”

“Maybe she won’t have to,” Alex said as the two of them started to walk again. “I don’t know too much about the people you’re involved with, but I’m sure there’s some way you can walk away without fearing that you’ll get killed somewhere down the road.”

“I wish there were,” Max said. “All I know is that if there is a way to walk away like that, I haven’t thought of it yet.”

“Is that the bank?” Alex asked as he pointed to the building in front of them, changing the subject.

“That’s it,” Max said. “Tomorrow, I’m going to need you out here,” he said, motioning toward the café across the street. “We’ll be able to stay in touch using earpieces and miniature microphones that you can hide in your sleeve. I need you to be my eyes out here.”

“No problem,” Alex said. “Do you think that Eli will—” He cut his sentence short when he glanced over at Max and noticed a look of suspicion on his face. He followed Max’s gaze and soon found himself staring at a guy who was sitting on the bench in front of the gate that surrounded the bank.

Max slowly started to walk over to the guy, reaching under his coat and pulling out his gun as discreetly as he could. There were only a couple of people milling about, most of them off in the distance, but he just wanted to make sure he didn’t give anyone a heart attack by whipping out a firearm.

Alex followed Max’s lead, slowly taking out his gun as well.

“What the hell are you doing here?” Max asked as soon as they were standing in front of the guy on the bench.

Nicholas let out a laugh as he stood up. He had a gun in his right hand, but instead of pointing it at Max or Alex, he folded his hands in front of him, pointing it at the ground. “I knew you’d come by here tonight.”

“What the hell are you doing here?” Max asked again, this time with more venom in his voice.

“What do you think?” Nicholas asked.

“You work for Eli, don’t you?” Max asked.

Nicholas laughed again, slowly shaking his head. “My dear boy, I don’t work for Eli. The reason I’m here is to make things as difficult as I can for Eli.”

“Wait, wait, wait,” Alex said, holding up his free hand. “I’m not following. You’re an assassin, but you don’t work for Eli?” When Nicholas nodded, Alex asked another question. “Then who do you work for?”

“Myself,” Nicholas said. “You see, I’m Eli’s biggest competitor as far as contracts are concerned. I have quite a few people working for me, just like Eli has quite a few working for him. The only difference between us is that my men actually like their jobs. I don’t force people into this business like Eli does.”

“You said you were here to make things difficult for Eli,” Max said, noticing that there were about half a dozen men now surrounding them, all armed. “What does that mean exactly?”

“If you’re under the impression that I want you dead, you’re wrong,” Eli said. “In fact, I heard that you’re looking for a way out. Now we both know that Eli will never let you leave alive, so I figured I’d step in and try to help you out.”

“You want to help me?” Max asked with a mixture of disbelief and shock.

“We both know that Eli’s here,” Nicholas said. “In fact, I’m sure that either he or one of his men are watching us at this very second. What you want is to get your money and disappear, start a new life, and what I want is to get my hands on Eli.”

“So you want to use me as bait,” Max said.

“You’re bait whether you like it or not,” Nicholas said. “Surely you know that Eli will never let you leave the country with all that money.”

“So you’ll help me walk away if I help you get Eli,” Max said.

“If I’m able to take Eli out, I’ll have control over the two biggest companies in the business,” Nicholas said. “I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen.”

“How do we know that Eli didn’t send you?” Alex asked.

“Because if he did, you’d both be dead right now,” Nicholas said.

“But then he wouldn’t get the disc,” Alex said.

“What disc?” Nicholas asked. “I thought this was all about that little scientist you’re protecting.”

Max glanced over at Alex, trying to decide whether to let Nicholas in on the information or not. “The reason Eli wanted the scientist dead was because she had a disc in her possession. Suffice it to say that there’s information on that disc that would effect a lot of people…especially Eli.”

“Interesting,” Nicholas said, a smile spreading across his face. “And I assume you’ve already made a copy of that disc, right?” Max didn’t answer, which told Nicholas that he had. “What would it take to get my hands on that disc?”

“Can I talk to you for a second?” Alex asked Max.

Max nodded, following Alex past the group of men who had gathered around them.

“I’ve got two reservations right about now,” Alex said. “One, I don’t trust that guy any farther than I can throw him. Two, I don’t want to give him anything until I know why my dad’s picture was on that disc. I don’t want someone like him,” he said, pointing at Nicholas, “ruining my father.”

Max nodded as he turned to look at Nicholas. When he turned back to Alex, he had a smirk on his face.

“What?” Alex asked.

“I have an idea,” Max said. “Just follow my lead.”

To Be Continued…


[ edited 8 time(s), last at 31-May-2002 5:51:58 PM ]
posted on 29-Nov-2001 7:31:14 PM by Fanatic101
Authors Note: Uh...hi guys, remember me? Well, here's the next part...a month after the last update (sorry about that!).

Part 13

“I don’t know about this,” Alex said as he and Max made their way back to the hotel. “There are just too many variables. Too many things can go wrong with this plan.”

“Trust me,” Max said. “Even if something does go wrong, I can handle it.”

“But lying to Nicholas, someone who’ll kill you if he finds out…I’m not so sure that was the best idea,” Alex said.

“This is the only way I’ll be able to have a life with Liz without fearing for her safety,” Max said. “I’m willing to do anything to make that happen, even if I have to risk my own life in the process.”

Alex let out a sigh. He understood what Max was saying because he’d do the exact same thing for Isabel. “Let’s just hope nothing gets screwed up.”

Max stopped and placed a hand on Alex’s arm to stop him as well. “I need you to promise me something.”

“Sure,” Alex said with a nod.

“If something does go wrong…and something happens to me…would you protect Liz?” Max asked. “I need to know that she’ll be safe if I’m not around.”

Alex nodded, knowing that Max didn’t want him saying things like, ‘It’ll be okay’ and ‘Nothing’s going to happen to you.’ He knew, just as Max did, that there was a very real possibility that something would go wrong and that something might happen to him. “Yeah. I’ll take care of her.”

Max nodded his thanks before he and Alex made their way up to the room. Before he walked in, he turned to Alex. “Don’t mention this to either of them. The less they know, the safer they’ll be.”

Alex nodded, completely agreeing. As much as he hated keeping secrets from Isabel, he knew that this was one that needed to be kept.

Liz and Isabel turned when the two men walked into the room, both letting out a sigh of relief in the process.

“Thank God,” Isabel said as she stood up from the bed and hugged Alex.

“What took you so long?” Liz asked as she walked over and started to play with the buttons on Max’s jacket.

“I just wanted to show Alex the streets around the bank,” Max said. “I wanted to make sure he knew where everything was.”

“You’re still taking me down there, right?” Liz asked.

“Yeah,” Max said. “Grab your jacket.”

“I’m not sure that’s such a good idea,” Alex said, fearing that Nicholas would still be around.

“Don’t worry,” Max said, giving him a wink before he turned to Liz. “Ready?”

“Let’s go,” Liz replied with a smile.

************

Max took a different route to the bank, making sure that he didn’t walk out in the open. He showed Liz the bank from a distance, explaining exactly what would happen there the next day.

“So where do you want me?” Liz asked.

“With Isabel and Jacob at the hotel,” Max said, knowing that she would fight him on that one.

“Okay,” Liz said, completely catching him off guard.

“Come again?” Max asked in shock. “I thought for sure you’d give me grief about it.”

“I think it would be best if I stayed at the hotel,” Liz said. “If something does go wrong, it would be a lot easier for you and Alex to slip away by yourselves. The fewer people we have around here tomorrow the better.”

Max just stared at Liz with a smile on his face.

“What?” Liz asked, catching his look.

Max shrugged before he answered. “This is the first time you’ve ever agreed with me about the safety issue.”

“I just want to make things as easy for you as possible,” Liz said. “I know that if I’m hanging around here tomorrow, you’ll just worry about me…even though you shouldn’t,” she said, giving him a pointed look.

“Hey,” Max said with a shrug, “I can’t help it. You’re just so darn cute,” he said, lightly pinching her cheek.

Liz let out a laugh as she swatted his hand away. “You’re just lucky I love you so damn much.”

Max was floored by that one sentence. He tried not to let it show, realizing that Liz had said it in a joking manner, but deep down he knew that she wasn’t joking. She really loved him, and the amazing part was the way she said it - without hesitation, without thinking. It just came naturally.

“What time are you going to be here tomorrow?” Liz asked, bringing Max out of his thoughts.

“Uh, as soon as the bank opens,” Max said. “It’s going to take most of the day to complete the transaction, so I want to give them a head start.”

“Is there any way Iz and I can stay in contact with you?” Liz asked.

“Alex can,” Max replied. “But there’s a range limit on the earpiece and microphone. I was thinking about giving him a Waukee-Talkie so you could at least talk to one of us.”

“That’s a good idea,” Liz said. “I’ll need to know if everything’s going okay.”

“Then that’s what we’ll do,” Max said. They slowly started to make their way back to the hotel, making small talk along the way. With tomorrow’s events still unclear, there was no need to voice their concerns out loud. They both knew exactly what the other was thinking, and they were both looking forward to when they could get back to the states.

**************

The next morning was full of tension, which was to be expected. Everyone sat down to eat breakfast at a small café across from the hotel, each of them trying to avoid the topic of what was about to happen.

Max hadn’t said anything throughout breakfast. He just kept looking out the window, scanning the streets for anything strange.

“Max,” Liz said as she reached over and placed her hand on his arm.

Max turned to look at her, offering her a tiny smile when he saw that she was extremely nervous. “Don’t worry. Everything’s going to be fine.”

Liz nodded, knowing that Max was only trying to make her feel better. In reality, she knew that he was just as nervous as she was.

“Lets head back to the hotel,” Alex said as he pulled out his wallet to pay for the check. “The bank opens in a few minutes.”

Everyone agreed and they were all soon standing in Max and Liz’s hotel room. Max and Alex got ready for their excursion, testing the microphones and earpieces before they put them in place.

“Now when I go into the vault for the money,” Max said, adjusting his earpiece, “you won’t be able to contact me. There’s too much interference, but it should only last for ten or fifteen minutes. Once we get to that stage, all I have to do is pick up the money, hand over the disk and then walk out.”

“How long will it take to get to that point?” Alex asked.

“Most of the day,” Max said. “The bank will need time to take out their fee, count the money, then pack it all for my inspection. I’m not even sure they have enough in their vault to cover it, so they may need to bring some in from another location.”

“Alright, let’s get going,” Alex said as he walked up and gave his wife a kiss, then hugged his son. “I’ll see you in a little bit. I’ll have the Waukee-Talkie so let me know if you need anything.”

“Okay,” Isabel said with a smile. “Be careful.”

Max and Liz were staring at each other, neither really knowing what to say.

“I left my gun in the dresser drawer,” Max said. “Make sure you take it out once I leave.”

Liz nodded as she ran her hand down Max’s chest. “I can’t wait until this is over.”

“I know,” Max said as he pulled Liz into a hug, resting his cheek against the top of her head. “Me to.”

*************

“Why does it feel like everyone’s staring at us?” Alex asked as he and Max made their way toward the bank.

“Because they are,” Max said. “We’re white boys.”

Alex cracked up at that comment, mostly because he realized that it was true. “White boys, huh?” Max just shrugged before he and Alex stopped outside the bank gates. “I’ll be across the street the entire time,” Alex said.

“Good,” Max replied. “I’ll keep in touch with you as long as I can. Just make sure you tell me if anything looks…off.”

“Will do boss,” Alex said before he made his way over to the café across the street and took up residence at one of the tables sitting outside.

Max took a deep breath before he walked through the gate and into the bank. He stood in line for a few minutes until the only English-speaking teller offered to help him. “I’d like to close my account please,” Max said, giving the young woman his account number.

The tellers’ eyes bulged out when she saw the dollar amount on her screen. She looked back and forth between Max and her computer a few times before she offered him a smile. “Based on the dollar amount, I need to get my supervisor to help you with this transaction,” she said politely. “I’m sure you understand.”

“Of course,” Max said, returning her smile. A few minutes later, the manager, an older man, approached from behind the teller line.

“Hello, Mr. Evans,” he said with an accent. “I understand you want to close your account.”

“That’s right,” Max replied.

“How did you want the money?”

“American currency,” Max answered.

“It will take some time to get it together,” the manager said.

“I can stay here all day,” Max said with a smile.

“I’m sure you’re aware of our fee.”

“Of course,” Max replied. “That’s not a problem.”

“Alright,” the manager said with a smile. “If you want, you can have a seat out in the lobby while you wait. Just let us know if you need anything.”

“Thank you,” Max said before he walked over and sat in one of the plush chairs facing the front door.

“It sounds like that went well,” Alex said through the earpiece.

“So far,” Max replied as discretely as possible. The last thing he wanted was for people to think that he was a nut case who talked to himself. “How’s it look out there?”

“About as calm as the ocean before a major storm,” Alex said. “I think I see one of your friends reading a newspaper, trying to act casual.”

“Anyone else around?” Max asked.

“No one I can see,” Alex said after a brief pause. “Liz wants to know how you’re doing.”

Max smiled as he shook his head. He hadn’t even been gone for an hour yet and Liz was already checking in on him. “Tell her that I got frisked by a female police officer who got a little too friendly with me…and I liked it.”

“Yeah right,” Alex said with a laugh. “She’d kick your ass for that comment.”

“That’s not all she’d do,” Max said with a smile. “I’d be sleeping out on the couch for a year if you really told her that.”

He and Alex continued to talk throughout the day, telling each other stories about their given professions. Every half an hour or so Liz would call in to Alex, wanting to know how things were going. It was nearing four o’clock before things really started to stir up a bit.

“Check the door,” Alex said. “I think you’ve got a friend walking in.”

Max looked up and saw that he was right. “Son of a bitch.”

“Who is it?” Alex asked.

“Eli,” Max replied.

“Hello Max,” Eli said as he sat in the chair next to him. “I don’t imagine you’re having too much trouble getting the money, are you?”

“Not at all,” Max said. “They’re just finishing with the final count.”

“Good, good,” Eli said with a fake smile. “It looks like our business is almost done then. I don’t imagine I’ll be hearing from you again after this, will I?”

Max shook his head but remained silent.

“What a shame,” Eli said as he stood up. “I really liked you.” He started to leave, but Max’s words stopped him.

“Nicholas is here.”

Eli slowly turned and faced Max, his expression giving nothing away. He then smiled as he sat back down in the chair. “Is that right? So you talked to him?”

Max nodded. “I ran into him last night.”

“And how is he?” Eli asked, not really caring about the answer.

“He offered me thirty million for the disc,” Max lied. Nicholas didn’t really offer him anything, but he had to get Eli to believe he did.

“Is that so,” Eli said with a raised eyebrow. “Yet you turned it down. Why?”

“I’m going to be brutally honest with you,” Max said as he leaned forward in his seat. “I don’t like you…not one bit. But I don’t like him either. I could care less what you two try and do to each other. If my prayers are answered, you’ll both end up killing one another. The reason I chose to stick with our deal is because I knew you were good for it.”

“Interesting,” Eli said, eyeing Max carefully. “Let me give you some advice, Max.”

“I’d rather you didn’t,” Max said as he leaned back in his seat.

“Don’t believe everything you hear,” Eli said, ignoring Max’s last comment. “As hard as it may be for you to comprehend, there are others in this business who are more brutal than I am.”

“And Nicholas is one of them, huh?” Max asked.

Eli didn’t respond as he stood back up. “It was good seeing you again,” he said as he started to walk away. “Both you and Dr. Parker.”

Max didn’t like the way he said Liz’s name, and he liked the smirk on his face even less. Once Eli was out of the building, the manager walked up to Max.

“The money is ready for your inspection, sir.”

“Thank you,” Max said, his eyes still watching Eli’s retreating form. There was definitely something wrong. “Could you give me a minute?”

“Certainly,” came the reply.

Once the manager was out of earshot, Max checked in with Alex.

“What’s up?” Alex asked.

“That was Eli,” Max said.

“No shit?” Alex asked as he watched Eli walk across the street and out of view. “What did he want?”

“I need you to check in on Liz and Isabel,” Max said. Several seconds passed before he heard back from Alex, but he was relieved to find that everyone was all right. He let out a sigh of relief before he told Alex that he was heading into the vault and couldn’t be reached for a few minutes. He then followed the manager as he led the way down to the secured room that held the money. After checking to make sure all the money bundles were there, Max handed the manager the disc as he grabbed the large briefcase off the table. Once the disc was checked and verified, he was allowed to leave. As soon as he walked out of the vault, he heard Alex calling out his name. “Alex, I’m back. What’s up?”

“Get out here right now!” Alex practically yelled.

Max didn’t need to be told twice. He ran out the front door and met up with Alex next to the gate.

“I can’t get a hold of Liz,” Alex said, out of breath. Both he and Max took off at a dead sprint for the hotel, with Max cradling the briefcase that held the money under his arm like a football. Several minutes later they both burst through the hotel doors and headed for the stairs, taking them two at a time. When they got to their room, they found the door wide open, the shattered wood on the frame indicating that it had been bashed in.

“Alex!” Isabel exclaimed as she ran over to her husband with Jacob in her arms, both of them crying.

“What happened?” Max asked frantically. “Where’s Liz?”

“They…they took her,” Isabel said between sobs.

To Be Continued…

posted on 18-Dec-2001 3:22:53 PM by Fanatic101
Authors Note: I just wanted to let you all know that from here on out, things are going to get a little violent at times. Another note; there's a sequence that takes place in this part that might sound kind of familiar to some of you. I borrowed the idea from my favorite part in the movie The Glimmer Man (Steven Seagal and Keenen Ivory Wayans). I only borrowed one line from the movie, but I didn't want to take credit for something I didn't come up with on my own. For those of you who haven't seen the movie, I'll put a little asterisk (*) next to the part.

Part 14

It had been a couple of hours since Liz was kidnapped and there was still no word from her captors. After Max found out about her disappearance, he immediately turned on his computer and logged onto the internet, knowing that that would be the only way he would find out what happened to her…Eli would get in touch with him and let him know what needed to be done to get her back. Everyone knew without a doubt that Eli was the one who took her, mostly because of what he said to Max back in the bank.

Max was sitting out on the balcony of the hotel room, alone, thinking about what he would do if anything happened to Liz. He looked out over the city of Cabo San Lucas as the sun started to set, tears starting to pool in his eyes as he leaned forward in his seat and ran a hand down his face. Alex and Isabel had both left him alone; knowing that what he needed the most was time to himself.

Max knew that Eli wanted the money back. That much was certain. What he didn’t know was what else the deranged lunatic wanted. Maybe Eli wanted him dead. Maybe Eli just wanted to mess with his mind, make him suffer. The only thing Max knew for sure was that he was going to pay for what he’d done.

“Max,” Alex said quietly, not wanting to startle him. “Your computer just started to beep.”

Max wiped at his eyes angrily, mad at himself for showing weakness by crying, before he followed Alex back into the room. He sat down in front of the computer and put in his password before a message popped up.

>Did you get the money<

“You bastard,” Isabel muttered as she and Alex read the message over Max’s shoulder. She glanced down at Jacob who was on the floor playing with his toys, trying to forget what had just happened.

Max flexed his jaw muscle a couple of times before he replied.

>Yes<

>Good. All I want is a simple trade. The money for the good Doctor<

>Where and when< Max typed.

>Head back to the states. I’ll be in touch<

That was the last sentence typed before Max found himself online alone.

“I’ll be in touch!?” Alex nearly shouted. “That’s all the mother fu…” he quickly looked down at his son, stopping himself before he used profanity. “That’s all he has to say?”

“He wants me to squirm,” Max said calmly as he shut off his computer and closed it. “He wants me to stress out about what he’s doing to Liz.”

“Well it’s a good thing you’re keeping it together,” Isabel said, taking note of her brothers calm exterior.

“But I’m not,” Max said as he stood up, throwing a quick glace at his sister before he turned to look out the window. “I’m not keeping it together at all.” Unshed tears suddenly blurred his vision, but before he let them fall, he walked out onto the balcony so he could cry alone.

**************

The next morning was overcast, which Max found fitting given the current circumstances. The rain that fell unabated reflected the exact mood he was in. He had gotten up early in the morning, unable to sleep at all throughout the night. He slowly walked over to Liz’s suitcase, putting it on the bed before he slowly opened it. He picked up one of her shirts and ran his hand over the surface, wanting to feel something that would give him a sense of peace. He lifted the shirt up to his nose and inhaled her scent, his eyes closing in agony as a new wave of tears poured forth. He dropped the shirt as he turned to the balcony and opened the doors, stepping out into the rain. He let the drops of water crash down on him, wishing they could somehow wash away his pain.

What was he going to do if something happened to her? How would he survive without her?

“MAX!” Isabel exclaimed when she walked into his room a half an hour later. She saw him out on the balcony, completely soaked, unaware of anything around him. The rain had yet to stop, but Max didn’t seem to notice.

Alex came rushing into the room a few seconds later with Jacob, handing him to Isabel before he ran over to help Max back into the room. Alex managed to get him into the bathroom but was forced to slap him a couple of times before he responded. “Max! Pull it together! Don’t you fall apart now, Liz needs you!”

Upon hearing Liz’s name, Max came back to reality as if a thunderbolt had struck him. He stared at Alex for a second before his face took on a look of determination. “We’re going to Washington, D.C.”

“What?” Alex asked, surprised by his statement. “Why?”

“We’re going to have a little talk with you’re father,” Max said.

***************

Later that day, everyone climbed aboard a plane and headed for the east coast of the United States. They found themselves in Washington, D.C. that night, and after dropping Isabel and Jacob off with his mom, Alex and Max set out for the Pentagon, where Alex’s dad was still working.

“Let me do the talking,” Alex said as they waited for Colonel Whitman to come get them.

“Alex!” his dad exclaimed as he walked up. “I’ve been trying to get a hold of you for the past two days. Are you alright?”

“I’m fine dad,” Alex replied.

“What in Sam Hell happened?” Colonel Whitman asked, referring to the incident in Roswell that left two men dead at his son’s house.

“Can we talk alone?” Alex asked.

“Sure,” Colonel Whitman said before he looked over at Max for the first time. His eyes widened as realization hit him…he knew exactly who Max Evans was.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Alex said, forgetting that he hadn’t introduced Max yet. “Max, this is my dad…dad this is Max Evans.”

Max made no attempt to shake hands with the man; instead he just glared at him. “He knows who I am, don’t you Colonel?”

Alex looked at his dad in shock, the expression on the Colonel’s face telling that he did indeed know who Max was. “Dad?”

“Come on,” Colonel Whitman said. “Let’s talk in my office.”

After everyone was inside the confines of the office, Colonel Whitman motioned towards the two seats facing his desk. “Please have a seat.”

Alex sat, but Max remained standing as he folded his arms across his chest.

Colonel Whitman nodded, sighing as he sat in the plush chair behind his desk.

“What’s going on dad?” Alex asked.

“How much do you know?” Colonel Whitman asked back.

“Enough,” Alex replied. “I know something’s going on here and that you know exactly what it is.”

“Where’s Liz?” Max asked.

“Who?” Colonel Whitman asked.

“Liz Parker,” Max said. “She was taken, and I have a feeling that you know where she was taken to.”

“I don’t know who Liz Parker is,” Colonel Whitman said. “I swear.”

“Enough of this,” Alex said, leaning forward in his seat. “What the hell’s going on here!?”

Colonel Whitman sighed again as he leaned back in his seat. “Alex, there are things that go on here at the Pentagon that you wouldn’t understand; things that you aren’t aware of, and in fact, only a handful of people are. I…I can’t fully explain them to you.”

“You can’t?” Alex asked in disbelief. “Alright, lets start small. Who’s Eli?”

“Alex…” Colonel Whitman paused as he looked up at Max. “I’m sorry. I can’t tell you.”

“Then I guess I have no choice but to go public with this,” Alex said as he stood up, showing his dad the copy of the disc that he and Max had made.

“What’s that?” Colonel Whitman asked, eyeing the disc carefully.

“This has your picture all over it,” Alex said. “This shows proof that top government officials have been conducting illegal activities while everyone else looks the other way. If you don’t tell me everything you know, I’ll have to choice but to hand this in to my superiors.”

“And what makes you think your superiors aren’t in on it?” Colonel Whitman asked.

“Then I’ll go to the press,” Alex said. “God, I feel like I don’t even know who you are anymore.”

“Alex, please sit down,” Colonel Whitman said. He waited until Alex reluctantly sat before he continued. “There are groups that the government hires who take care of…things that we couldn’t legally do.”

“You mean kill people,” Alex said. “The government hires assassins to kill people they don’t like.”

“It’s not that simple,” Colonel Whitman said. “These aren’t just assassins here. Eli is one of the leaders of a secret group composed of government mercenaries. There are only three people who officially know of the group, and I’m one of them. Everyone else is on a need to know basis, which means that they’re all kept in the dark. You have to believe me when I say that I don’t issue the orders for them to kill. All I do is turn my head and make sure that everyone else does to.”

“Who are the other two?” Alex asked.

“I can’t tell you,” Colonel Whitman said. “One of them gives the orders while the other just handles the financial aspects of the operations. He has nothing to do with the killings either.”

“So there’s only one man who orders the kills then,” Max said.

“Yes,” Colonel Whitman replied. “But I can’t tell you who.”

“It’s General Aiken,” Max said, referring to the Chief of Staff of the Army.

“General Aiken?” Alex asked in shock. “As is the member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and head of the entire United States Army? How do you know?”

“He’s the only one ruthless enough, and dumb enough, to take the job,” Max said, his eyes locked on the Colonel. “Besides, he was the one who showed up on my doorstep ten years ago and convinced me to join Army Intelligence.”

“Look,” Colonel Whitman said. “The people involved in this will stop at nothing to get that disc and to shut you up. They’ll kill anyone even remotely involved if they have to, including me.”

“Right now I don’t really care about exposing this little illegal operation of yours,” Max said as he placed both hands on the desk and leaned forward. “The only thing I care about is getting to Liz. Now you said that you don’t know where she is, but I bet you can tell me the name of someone who does.”

“I want to help--” Colonel Whitman began.

“If you don’t help, you’re going to make me very upset,” Max said calmly, a tiny smile on his face. “Now I’m sure that most people around here don’t know who I really am, but you do so you know what I’m capable of. You know what can happen if I get upset.”

“That I do,” Colonel Whitman said. He took a deep breath before he spoke again. “Peter Duncan. He’s the other guy involved.”

“The C.I.A. guy?” Alex asked.

“The same,” Colonel Whitman said. “He doesn’t have any authority over Eli, but he knows everything about his operations.”

Max nodded before he walked over to the door with Alex close behind.

“Wait a second,” Alex said, facing his dad. “You said that Eli was ONE of the leaders of this group. Who are the others? I thought Eli was the head of it all.”

“I don’t know anyone else,” Colonel Whitman said. “Eli is the only one I’ve ever had contact with, but he’s not the one in charge. The only thing I know about the head honcho is that he uses the codename Khivar.”

When Alex looked over at Max, he could tell by the look on his face that his friend was just as confused as he was.

“There’s just one thing I need to know,” Alex said, turning back to his dad. “It’s obvious you knew who Isabel was the second I started dating her. Was my marrying her a set up?”

Colonel Whitman hung his head and avoided his son’s gaze, not needing to answer the question verbally because his actions told the truth.

“I can’t believe this,” Alex said, so shocked he was speechless. “I’ll be back later on,” he said, not sure he had the stomach to hear any more that night. Finding out that his dad was involved with people like Eli made him physically ill. But to find out that he and Isabel had been set up, he couldn’t help but feel that his entire relationship with her was somehow a fraud; that it wasn’t real. “I still have a lot of questions I need answered.”

Colonel Whitman nodded as he watched Max and Alex leave his office. As he turned to look out his window, he thought about what he had just done, hoping that he had made the right choice by telling his son the truth.

****************

Alex and Max had set up a stake out across the street from Peter Duncan’s home, waiting for the perfect opportunity to get to him. They stayed there all night, taking turns watching the house while the other slept. It was around seven o’clock the next morning before things started to stir.

“There he is,” Alex said, pointing to the front door. “Now you aren’t going to do anything rash, are you?”

Max kept his eyes locked on Peter. “This guy’s dirty. He knows where Eli’s holding Liz so I’ll do whatever’s necessary to get him to squeal.” He paused briefly before he turned to Alex. “I’m not sure you should be around when I talk to him. I may need to…bend the law a little.”

“Bend the law?” Alex asked before he shook his head. “Just promise me you won’t kill him.”

“I’ll try,” Max said, turning back to look at Peter again.

“I guess that’ll have to do,” Alex said with a sigh before he started the car. “It’s show time.” He threw it in gear before he sped up Peter’s driveway just as the man was climbing into his car, preventing him from leaving.

“What the hell?” Peter asked as he climbed back out of his car and shut the door. “Who the hell do you—”

“Get in the car,” Max said as he came around and grabbed Peter’s arm, sticking his gun into the agents’ back. Max quickly grabbed Peter’s gun and cell phone, just in case the guy felt the sudden urge to draw down and test his reflexes. Peter didn’t resist as Max forced him into the back seat of Alex’s sedan, mostly because of the gun in his face.

“What in God’s name is going on here?” Peter demanded after Max climbed in next to him.

Alex threw the car in reverse and backed out of the driveway, speeding off as fast as he could before anyone saw what they had just done.

“We’re just going to take a little drive,” Max said, keeping his eyes on Peter the entire time. “Just relax until we get to where we’re going.”

About a half an hour later, Alex pulled into an abandoned warehouse surrounded by nothing but dirt. They were miles away from anything even remotely resembling civilization.

“Who are you guys?” Peter demanded as Max pulled him out of the car.

“We need to ask you a few questions,” Max said.

“Wait a minute, I know you,” Peter said, eyeing Alex. “Your Colonel Whitman’s boy.”

“It looks like you’re a celebrity,” Max said as he briefly turned to Alex, a smile on his face.

“Where’s Eli?” Alex asked.

“Who?” Peter asked back. “I have no idea who you’re talking about.”

“No?” Max asked in mocked confusion before he looked at Alex and shrugged. He then pointed his gun at Peter’s leg and fired one shot.

“AWWWWWWW!!!!” Peter cried out as he fell to the ground, holding his injured leg.

“I hate it when people make you ask the same question twice,” Max said to Alex before he turned to Peter. “Where’s Eli?”

“You bastard,” Peter spit out as beads of sweat began to cover his forehead.

“Huh,” Max said before he took a deep breath. He then pointed his gun at Peter’s other leg and fired another shot.

Peter cried out again, even though Max’s second shot missed his leg and embedded itself in the ground instead.

“Would you look at that,” Max said as he glanced over at Alex. “I missed.” He then turned back to Peter. “Eli…where is he?”

“You’re a federal agent,” Peter said to Alex. “Aren’t you going to help?”

Alex looked at Max for a second, his expression showing his inner battle at what to do. *“Alright,” he said as he took out his gun and pointed it at Peter’s uninjured leg. “But I’m a really bad shot.”*

Max smiled as he grabbed Alex’s arm, knowing that his friend couldn’t shoot Peter if he still wanted to keep his job.

“I was just trying to help,” Alex said with a shrug.

Max turned back to Peter, a look of impatient on his face. “Don’t make me shoot you again. Where is Eli?”

“Go to hell,” Peter said.

Max shook his head as he reached down and grabbed Peter’s left hand, holding the palm against the barrel of his gun before he pulled the trigger, shooting him again.

“SON OF A BITCH!” Peter cried out as he brought his injured hand into his body, clenching it into a fist.

“I can do this all day,” Max said in a low voice as he knelt down next to him. “You’ve got plenty of limbs for me to shoot, and I’ve got plenty of ammo in the car.”

“Nevada,” Peter blurted out.

“Rhyolide, Nevada?” Alex asked.

Peter nodded as he sat up against the car.

“Who’s Nicholas?” Max asked.

“I…I don’t know,” Peter said, breathing heavily.

Max figured he was lying again so he reached down and grabbed Peter’s right hand, bringing the palm flush against the barrel of his gun. “Who’s Nicholas?”

“I DON’T KNOW, I SWEAR!!” Peter cried out. “Please, I need that hand. If I knew I’d tell you!”

Max looked over at Alex who nodded, showing that he believed Peter really didn’t know who Nicholas was. Max dropped Peter’s hand as he stood back up and put his gun away. “Thank you Peter. You were a big help.” He then made his way over to the passengers’ side of the car as Alex climbed behind the wheel.

“Wait a minute!” Peter yelled. “What about me? I need an ambulance!”

“Here’s your cell phone,” Max said, tossing it on the ground next to Peter. “Call them yourself.” He then climbed into the car momentarily before he bounced back out. “Oh, one more thing,” he said, smiling at Peter as he held up the disc. “If I were you, I wouldn’t say anything about our little meeting out here. I can promise that if you do, I’ll be the least of your worries. Your face is all over this disc. By the time the D.A.’s through with you, you’ll be locked up in Leavenworth for the rest of your life, playing footsies with Tyrone, your cellmate.” He then unloaded Peter’s gun and threw it about thirty feet away from the guy before he climbed back in and shut the door, running a hand through his hair as Alex sped away.

***************

“Why me?” Isabel asked as she followed her husband around the spare bedroom, watching as he re-packed his bags.

“Isabel please,” Max said calmly as he walked up to his sister and placed his hands on her shoulders, causing her to look at him. “Alex and I need to go to Nevada, but I want you to go to Arizona to tell Liz’s parents that she’s safe.”

“You want me to lie to them,” Isabel said.

Max took a deep breath, knowing that her comment wasn’t meant to hurt him even though it did. She was right; Liz wasn’t safe because of him. He wasn’t able to protect her like he promised he would. “Just tell them that Liz saw something at her work that she wasn’t supposed to see, so she brought it to my attention. I in turn notified Alex, an FBI agent, who placed her into protective custody until we could sort everything out and catch the people responsible for killing her co-worker.”

“What about her house blowing up?” Isabel asked.

“Just say that she wasn’t home at the time,” Alex said.

“Please Iz,” Max said again. “I know that Liz doesn’t want her family worrying about her, and you’re the only one who can go. Besides, it’ll be safe there.”

“How can you be so sure?” Isabel asked.

“Because Eli has more important things to do than worry about Liz’ parents,” Max said.

“But just in case, my dad’s going with you,” Alex said.

“He is?” Isabel and Max asked in unison.

“You’re damn right he is,” Alex muttered. “I’ll make sure of it.”

“I just hate lying to them about their daughter,” Isabel said.

“I know,” Max replied. “But whatever you do, DON’T tell them that she was kidnapped. As far as you know, she’s safe and sound in the FBI’s custody.”

“But what if something happens to her?” Isabel asked.

“Nothing’s going to happen to her,” Max said with determination.

“Okay,” Isabel said with a sigh, knowing that her brother would do whatever it took to
make sure that Liz made it out safely. “So I take it you’re leaving tonight?” she asked, motioning towards the luggage that was sitting near the door.

“Yeah,” Alex said as he pulled his wife into a hug and gave her a kiss. “Keep your cell phone charged. I’ll call you as soon as I can.”

“Be careful,” Isabel said quietly as she pulled back. “Both of you.”

Alex nodded before he gave her another kiss, hugged his son, then grabbed his suitcase and headed out for the airport with Max.

To Be Continued…

posted on 19-Feb-2002 3:12:48 PM by Fanatic101
I know it's been a while, but hopefully you guys didn't have to re-read too much of this story to refresh your memory. Thanks for being patient (even though I didn't really leave you much choice).


Part 15

The next morning, Isabel found herself on an airplane bound for Phoenix with Colonel Whitman and his wife. It didn’t take a lot of persuading to get Alex’s parents to go, even though they were only going to stay at a hotel with Jacob while Isabel went over to the Parker’s to tell them about Liz.

Alex’s mom had no idea what was going on, but the Colonel filled her in during the flight. He told her everything, even about his involvement with Eli. Needless to say she was appalled about the entire thing, which made Isabel feel a lot better. Mrs. Whitman was stunned speechless to say the least, and she refused to even look at her husband for the remainder of the flight.

The trip went by a lot faster than Isabel would have liked, and if given the choice, she would’ve preferred that the plane never land at all. She had no idea what to tell Liz’s parents, and the fact that she had to lie about most of it made her feel horrible. But after delaying as long as she could, she still found herself on the front doorstep of the Parker residence, trying to muster enough courage to ring the doorbell.

“Just do it and get it over with,” she coached herself. She took one last deep breath and ran a hand through her hair before she reached out and rang the bell. In a matter of seconds the door swung open, revealing a young woman in her mid to late twenties.

“Can I help you?”

For a moment Isabel thought she had the wrong house. “Uh, is this the Parker residence?”

“Yes, can I help you?” she repeated with a friendly smile.

“I…I’m looking for Mr. or Mrs. Parker,” Isabel said.

“Why?” a guy about the same age as the girl asked as he came up to the door.

“Michael!” the girl hissed, giving Isabel and apologetic look for him being so rude. “Did you want to come in?”

“Thanks,” Isabel said with a smile as she stepped into the house. As soon as she did, another man and woman, much older than the other two, walked into the entryway. These two had to be Liz’s parents.

“I’m Nancy Parker, what can I do for you?”

Isabel hesitated for a moment, contemplating whether or not to jump out the window. But in the end she offered them a tiny smile. “I…I have news about Liz.”

The two women gasped as they covered their mouths with their hands, the one called Michael folded his arms across his chest as he eyed Isabel carefully, and the man that had to be Liz’s dad quickly ushered everyone into the living room to sit.

“Is she okay?” Mr. Parker asked as soon as everyone was seated.

“She’s fine,” Isabel lied.

“Thank God,” Mrs. Parker said, now covering her heart with her hand. “Where is she?”

“She’s with my husband,” Isabel said.

“Can we back up a little here?” Michael asked. “Who are you and who’s your husband?”

“I’m sorry,” Isabel said, forgetting that she hadn’t even introduced herself yet. “My name is Isabel Evans-Whitman.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Isabel,” Mrs. Parker said. “Like I said, my name’s Nancy, this is my husband Jeff, and these two are Michael and Maria, Liz’s best friends.”

“Hi,” Isabel said, giving them a little wave.

“So who’s your husband?” Michael asked, getting right back to the topic at hand.

“My husband’s name is Alex and he’s an agent for the FBI,” Isabel said.

“The FBI?” Jeff asked. “I’m sorry, we have absolutely no clue what’s going on here so could you please fill us in?”

“I’ll do the best I can,” Isabel said. After she retold the story, leaving out certain things such as what they found on the disk, the fact that Max was an assassin and worked for the people who were currently after Liz, and the fact that Liz got kidnapped, Isabel ended by telling them that Liz was currently in the FBI’s custody and was being protected by Alex and Max.

“She really wanted to come see you herself, but it’s just not safe right now,” Isabel finished.

“So whoever killed her co-worker is now after her?” Nancy asked, unable to stop herself from crying.

Isabel just nodded.

“So that’s it?” Michael asked. “You’re saying that all we can do now is hope and pray that your husband and brother can protect her?”

“My husband and brother WILL protect her,” Isabel said with confidence, surprising everyone, including herself.

“I have so many questions I still need answered,” Jeff said.

Isabel sat there for a second before she perked up, suddenly thinking of an idea. “I’ll bring you someone who knows more than I do.”

“Who?” Michael asked.

“My husband’s father,” Isabel replied. She wanted the Colonel to see exactly what kind of heartache he was causing by being involved with people like Eli. She wanted him to look Liz’s parents square in the eye and tell them everything they wanted to know.

****************

“Alright, now that we’re here, where do we start looking?” Alex asked as he pulled the Jeep Wrangler they had rented at the airport over to the side of the road by the sign that read ‘Rhyolite, Nevada’. They had caught the red eye flight from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles before they jumped on a smaller plane that took them to Las Vegas, where they had rented the Jeep. It was around noon when they finally pulled into Rhyolite.

“I have no idea,” Max replied before he climbed out and took a look around. “This place is practically deserted, so the few people who still live here are bound to know something.”

“I hope so,” Alex said as he too got out and clasped both hands behind his head to stretch. “What do you think…just head down this road until we find someone?”

“Looks like that’s our best option,” Max said as he looked off in the distance, then climbed back into the Jeep with Alex. A few minutes later they came up to the one and only store in the entire town, a tiny ma and pa outfit that looked just as run down as the rest of the buildings next to it.

“Afternoon’,” the older man sitting behind the counter said when Max and Alex walked in. “What you boys lookin’ for?”

“Actually,” Alex said as he took out his badge and showed it to the man. “I was wondering if you could help me out.”

“I’ll sure try,” the man replied. “Though I gotta tell ya, ain’t much going on ‘round here that would interest most folks.”

“Has anyone been in your store lately, or have you noticed anyone new around town?” Alex asked.

“Well sure,” the man replied. “We get folks coming in here from the mines over yonder.”

Alex turned to look at where the man was pointing and saw a rather large hill obstructing his view. “Is one of the guys about six feet tall with short blonde hair, a faint goatee and a thin scar along the side of his forehead?” he asked, describing Eli’s attributes the best he could.

“Sure,” the man replied. “You’re talking ‘bout Elias.”

“That would be him,” Alex said with a thin smile.

“I reckon he said he was the foreman over there or somethin’,” the man said. “Too bad you boys didn’t show up half an hour earlier.”

“Why’s that?” Max asked.

“Well he was just here,” the man replied. “And he had a pretty young lady with him, though she didn’t look too happy. In point of fact, she looked like she’d been cryin’.”

“I’m going to kill him,” Max muttered as he turned around and headed out the door.

“Thank you,” Alex told the old man before he quickly headed for the door himself. “Would it be alright if I came back a little later and asked you a few more questions?”

“Come as often as you like,” the man replied. “I ain’t goin’ nowhere.”

“I also need you to do me a huge favor,” Alex said. “If…Elias…comes back, don’t mention that I was asking about him. If he knows I’m here, it would blow the FBI’s entire operation.”

“You got it,” the man said as he watched Alex sprint out to catch up with Max.

“Max,” Alex said as he jumped into the Jeep just before it pulled away, kicking up a dust storm in its wake. “Where are you going?”

“I’m going to get Liz,” Max said, gripping the steering wheel so tight his knuckles turned white.

When Alex saw the look of pure, unadulterated rage in his eyes, he knew he had to do something before Max got them both killed. “We can’t right now. Just think about it. Eli probably has dozens of guards out patrolling the perimeter. The second they see us, the games over. We need to come up with a plan and then come back at night when it’s dark. That’s the only chance we have.”

Max kept driving for a few seconds before he slammed on the brakes, knowing full well that Alex was right. He closed his eyes as he tried to calm down, his grip on the steering wheel slowly loosening up.

“Come on,” Alex said as he looked at the hill that undoubtedly hid Eli. “We need to get out of here before someone sees us.”

Max opened his eyes and took a deep breath before he quickly turned the Jeep around. “Tonight,” he said with authority. “We get Liz back tonight.”

*************

“I don’t know about this plan,” Alex said later that night as he and Max got ready to head over to the mine. “I think it would be better if we went inside together.”

“I already told you,” Max said as he zipped up his black field vest and began to fill the pockets with everything he would need. “I work faster when I’m alone. Besides, I’d feel safer knowing that you’re in a position to shoot anyone who gets too close to me.”

Alex let out a sigh, finally giving in. The plan was for Max to somehow find a way into the mine to get Liz out while Alex perched himself on a hill a few hundred yards away with a high powered scope and silenced sniper rifle, one of the many weapons that Max had brought with him to Nevada, eliminating any possible threats. They were going to stay in contact using earpieces and microphones that were strapped around their necks, allowing them to keep their hands free in case they needed to act fast. “But what happens if you need backup once you’re inside?”

“I won’t,” Max said, briefly looking up at Alex before he continued getting ready. “If anything happens, just know that I’ll find a way to get Liz out, even if I have to sacrifice myself.”

Alex nodded as he gathered all the equipment and placed it by the door to the only run down motel that was within miles of Rhyolite. “Okay, let’s go over the plan one more time,” he said as he unrolled the topographical map that they had purchased back at the shop from the old man. “This is the hill that would give me the best vantage point so that’s where I’ll be perched.”

“Then I’ll make my way along this route,” Max said, pointing out the exact path he was going to take. “If anything happens, or if they get lucky and find out where you are, pack your shit and meet me here,” he said, pointing at another hill that was about a mile away from the mine.

“Right,” Alex said, taking a moment to stare at the map so he could get his bearings straight.

“Let’s go,” Max said as he headed for the door, picking up some of the equipment on his way out.

*************

The drive over to the mine was filled with silence. Max was driving without the headlights on, making it rather hard to spot the potholes and dips that lined the dirt street. When he pulled up to the hill that Alex was going to station himself on, no words were spoken between the two as Alex jumped out with his gear and started to race up the face of the hill. Max pulled out and drove the Jeep to another hill a few hundred yards away, leaving it there in the hopes that if someone accidentally saw it, the first place they would check for intruders would be a safe distance away from Alex.

Max hid the Jeep as best he could before he checked to make sure he had everything he was going to need, and then began to walk toward the mine. He came up to a few guards who were patrolling the area, but luckily for him they were concentrating more on their conversation than on doing their job. He walked under the safety of darkness as long as he could, but once he approached the mine, there were lights everywhere, making it impossible to stay in the shadows.

“We have a sentry making his way toward you,” he heard Alex say. “You can take cover at the shack to your left. There’s a bunch of oil drums lining the side of it.”

“Got it,” Max whispered back before he quickly made his way over to where Alex had instructed.

“Just hold out there for a second,” Alex said. “Okay, I can see the opening to the mine about fifty yards to your left, but in addition to the guard who’s making his way toward you, there are three more men standing post. I could take them out, but I’m not sure if there are any others around who would see. It looks like the only way into the compound is through the steel door behind the guards.”

“I need a diversion,” Max said as he peaked around the corner to see what Alex was talking about. “It looks like most of the guards are stationed around the perimeter. Besides those four, I can’t see any others.”

“Should I take them out?” Alex asked.

“Negative,” Max said as he took cover again. “Give me a second.” He looked between two of the drums and noticed that the sentry was now making his way toward the shack that he was hiding behind. He quickly glanced around as he tried to think of a plan, finally deciding that he really only had one option, evasion. With the guy getting closer, Max began to move towards the back of the shack. He was just about to turn the corner when one of the oil drums next to him suddenly knocked over, causing him to jump a little. He turned to see what had caused the ruckus, cursing under his breath when he noticed a raccoon scurry off through the shrubs. When he turned back towards the guard, he saw that the guy was now moving more quickly toward him, clearly investigating what had caused the disturbance.

Max turned the corner and knelt down, cautioning a peak around to see that the guard now had his weapon raised and was slowly approaching the corner of the shack. Max ducked again just before the guy saw him, mentally preparing himself for the fact that he was about to be forced to disarm the guy quietly so as not to alert the other three guards. He looked up and saw the barrel of the guard’s gun come into view, but before he had a chance to reach out and grab it, the guard suddenly dropped to the ground with a thud.

“Target one is down,” Alex said.

That’s when Max noticed that Alex had shot him in the head, killing him. “Nice shot.”

“Government training,” was Alex’s response. “What about the other three?”

“Well, the second you shoot one of them, the other two are bound to scramble for cover and radio in for help, alerting the entire base to our presence. You won’t be able to take them all down by yourself,” Max said as he looked at the dead guard in front of him, noticing that the guy was a lot bigger around the midsection than he was. A smile came to his face as a plan developed in his head. “I’ve got a plan.”

Alex couldn’t help but laugh when he saw Max emerge from behind the shack wearing the dead guards cloths, mostly because Max had somehow managed to make himself look about thirty pounds heavier than he really was. Even the camouflage hat was a little too big for him. “Do I even want to know how you filled out that uniform?”

“I just put his uniform over my cloths,” Max replied. “And I had to puff the top out a little. I just hope the wind doesn’t pick up or it’ll deflate by belly.”

“So what’s the plan?” Alex asked as he watched Max duck his head and slowly make his way toward the other guards, holding a silenced pistol in his hand behind his back.

“When I give the signal, shoot the guard on the right,” Max said. “Just make sure you don’t shoot me.”

“What’s the signal?” Alex asked.

“You’ll know it when you see it,” Max replied.

“In other words, when all hell breaks loose, shoot,” Alex muttered.

“Hey Riley,” one of the guards called out, obviously talking to Max. “Trent and I are betting on which one of us gets first dibs on that hot brunette they brought in as soon as the boss is done with her. You want in?”

Max’s jaw muscle flexed as he walked right up to the guy named Trent and pulled out his gun, shooting the guy in the head. Max ignored the guard to the right, knowing that Alex would take care of him, which he did rather quickly. That just left the guard who had asked Max if he wanted to bet on who got to rape Liz first. Before the guy could raise his gun to shoot, Max pointed his gun at the guard’s head as he reached down and disarmed the guy, thankful that he had the element of surprise.

The guard raised his hands as he backed into the wall, hoping that if he cooperated he would be allowed to live.

“Nobody gets ‘dibs’ on Liz,” Max said with quiet rage as he reached out and covered the guard’s mouth with his free hand, preventing him from yelling out. “NOBODY,” he said through clenched teeth as he lowered his gun and shot the guy in the heart. Max watched as the dead guard slumped to the ground, and even though he tried to fight it, he was unable to keep an image of the guy raping Liz from passing across his eyes. Seeing that made him momentarily snap, causing him to unload an entire magazine of fifteen bullets into the dead guy’s chest.

“Max!” Alex said. “What are you doing?”

Max ignored Alex as he dragged the three guards behind a nearby building before he entered the mine. “Let me know as soon as someone notices the guards are missing.”

Max cautiously entered the mine, realizing right away that it was more like a base than anything else. He still had the guard’s cloths on, even though he no longer looked like he weighed an extra thirty pounds. He wasn’t able to hang around the entrance for too long because there was another guard about thirty feet away from him, stationed at a gate that led into to base.

“Don’t tell me you forgot your ID card,” the guard said when he saw that Max was loitering around the entrance.

Max shrugged and smiled as he walked up to the guy, deciding to play along.

The guard let out an annoyed sigh as he picked up the phone that was sitting nearby. “I need to call this in. What’s your name?”

“Why don’t you put the phone down,” Max said as he walked up and stuck his gun in the guy’s back.

The guard obeyed, putting up no resistance as Max led him towards the gate.

“Open it,” Max said.

“I can’t,” the guard replied.

Knowing that the guy had a key on him somewhere, Max did a quick pat down and located it in the guard’s shirt pocket. He reached in and grabbed it with his free hand before he slid it through the keypad next to the gate, then noticed that he was now required to enter in a numeric code. “What’s your code?” When the guard refused to answer, Max reared back and punched him in the gut, effectively knocking the wind out of him. “What’s your code?”

Max watched as the guard tried to choke in a breath before he reached over and entered in his code.

“Good boy,” Max said before he hit him on the back of the head with the butt of his pistol, knocking him out. Max dragged him into the nearby booth, hiding his body the best he could. He took the guards key card and, now that he knew the numeric code, figured he wouldn’t have a problem unless he ran into someone else.

“You okay?” Alex asked.

“Yeah,” Max replied. “I just had to persuade a guard to give me his key.” He quickly made his way through the gate and down the hallway, hugging the wall the entire time. When the hall ended, he came up to another gate, which he quickly got through, and had the option of going either left or right. He peaked down each side and decided to go right, hoping that his gut instinct was correct.

“We have some activity out here,” Alex said. “But it doesn’t look like we have a threat yet. Just some people loitering around.”

About halfway down the hall, doors started to appear of either side of Max. After quickly glancing in each one, he saw that they were mostly labs and storage units. He only saw one person in the lab, a technician who apparently got stuck working the graveyard shift. Other than him, the entire floor was empty. “The security here is way too lax,” he said suspiciously.

“Um…Max,” Alex said, his voice slightly panicked. “We have a big problem.”

To Be Continued…

posted on 3-Apr-2002 4:34:12 PM by Fanatic101
Authors Note: I know, I know. I need to update quicker. Honestly, I really am trying. I just wanted to thank everyone for the feedback...that's what keeps me going. Also, for those of you who e-mail me, I wanted to let you know that I changed my e-mail address. My new one is koval1⊕charter.net.

Part 16

“Um…Max? We have a big problem.”

The slight hitch in Alex’s voice instantly got Max’s attention. “What?”

“I looks like our cover’s about to be blown,” Alex said. “There’s a chopper coming in and it looks like it’s going to land off to the side of the compound.”

“How long do I have?” Max asked as he began to quicken his pace down the hallway, having spotted an elevator at the end of it.

“Two minutes tops,” Alex said.

“Shit,” Max muttered as he began to run, realizing that Liz was probably being held on a different floor. He quickly reached out and pushed the button for the elevator, stumbling back a step when the doors opened and he found himself standing face to face with a man in a lab coat. Max didn’t waste any time as he reached out and grabbed the man by the shirt, pushing him into the wall at the back of the elevator as he raised his gun up under the guy’s chin. “Where’s Eli?”

“L-Level B4,” the scientist stuttered.

Max threw the guy off the elevator before he pushed the button that read ‘B4’. As he neared the floor, he backed up against the side of the elevator before the doors opened, cautioning a peak to make sure nobody was there before he stepped out. The hallway looked almost identical to the one that he had just walked down, with rooms lining both sides of the walls.

“You better start thinking about high tailing it out of there,” Alex said.

“I don’t have Liz yet,” Max said, slightly panicked. He ran down the hallway, checking each room in the hopes of finding either her or Eli. He was just about to the end of the hall when he passed a room on his left, stopping mid-step when he looked through the window and saw Eli sitting in a chair behind a desk. Max’s eyes narrowed as he reached for the doorknob and threw the door open without caution, raising his gun and shooting once at a very startled Eli, hitting him in the shoulder.

Eli was pushed away from his desk by the impact, but barely made a sound as the bullet passed through his body. After the initial shock was over, he winced as he looked up at the intruder. “Max,” he said with a small smile. “Come in.”

“Where is she?” Max asked, the tone of his voice clearly indicating that he was on the verge of snapping.

“She’s here,” Eli said after a moment’s hesitation.

“Well then lets go get her,” Max said, standing to the side and motioning towards the door with his free hand, silently telling Eli walk out ahead of him.

“Boy, you sure are passionate about this one,” Eli said as he walked out of the room. “I don’t suppose I could pay you to forget about her, huh?”

Max remained silent as he followed Eli, carefully keeping an eye out for any traps.

“Didn’t think so,” Eli said as he turned down an adjacent hallway that only had one door at the very end. “She’s through here,” he said as he reached down to open the door.

Max quickly reached over and grabbed Eli’s hand, preventing him from opening it. He peeked through the window, wanting to make sure there weren’t any surprises waiting for him on the other side. It was nearly pitch black inside the room, making it difficult to see anything from the limited light that was coming from the hallway they were standing in. “I don’t see her.”

“She’s through the door on the left,” Eli said.

Max looked in that direction and could barley see that there was indeed another door inside the room, so he slowly let go of Eli’s hand and allowed him to open the door.

The next few seconds seemed to go by in slow motion, but as soon as Eli stepped through the door, he reached over to the left side of the doorframe and grabbed something before he dove in the opposite direction, causing Max to rush in after him.

When Max got through the door, he realized that Eli had grabbed a gun and was now shooting blindly at him while he scrambled behind a desk, looking for cover. Max was then forced to take cover himself, overturning a table in the middle of the room to keep from getting hit by a bullet.

The next minute was spent in silence.

“Max, Max, Max,” Eli said as the two men tried to figure out a way to outsmart the other. “I never thought you’d fall for a trick like that.”

“I didn’t fall for anything,” Max muttered to himself as he looked at the ceiling, trying to find anything that would give him the upper hand. “You just got lucky.”

“We’re in quite the predicament now, aren’t we?” Eli asked with a smile in his voice.

“Max,” Alex said through the earpiece, slightly out of breath. “They’re moving in on me from all sides. The only choice I have is to head into the compound with you. What’s your location?”

“Level B-4,” Max whispered so Eli wouldn’t hear him. “At the end of the first hallway, take a right to the elevator, then take that down and wait for me just outside the doors. Watch yourself.”

“I do have to commend you though,” Eli was saying. “I’m impressed that you infiltrated the base as easily as you did. How did you manage to get past the guards without setting off an alarm?”

“Very carefully,” Max whispered as he peaked around the corner of the table. He could barely see Eli moving around from under the desk, but he didn’t have enough room to get a shot off at him.

“So tell me, why is it that you’ve developed this fascination with Ms. Parker?” Eli asked. “Oh wait, never mind. All it took for me was one look at that ass of hers.”

Max had been playing it cool up until this point, but when Liz’s name was brought into the conversation his anger began to grow by the second. It was only a matter of time before he lost it, and Eli obviously knew that.

“I’ll bet you lost plenty of sleep wondering what I was doing to her, didn’t you?” Eli asked, clearly trying to antagonize Max. “I bet you spent hours on end wondering if I was hurting her, or more to the point, pleasuring myself with her. The thought that I might have taken advantage of her must be driving you crazy. The thought that her tiny body might have given me the ultimate rush…”

He wasn’t able to finish his sentence before he heard Max scramble out from behind the table. He in turn quickly came out from behind the desk, expecting to find Max standing in front of him, completely out in the open for him to shoot. He thought that by taunting Max with falsehoods of what he did to Liz he would draw his opponent out, but he frowned when he saw nothing in front of him but a dark, empty room. He held his gun out in front of him with one hand as he slowly made his way out from his hiding spot, his other hand completely immobilized by the gunshot wound to his shoulder. “Max? Come out, come out wherever you are.” Clearly pissing Max off was not the right move to make, so he decided to try a different approach as a small sense of fear overtook him from the fact that Max clearly had the advantage now. “Now Max, you know just as well as I do that I never touched your little girlfriend. I may be many things; but a rapist I am not. In fact, I made sure that nobody even got close to her and that she was as comfortable as she could possibly be.”

There was no response.

Eli eyed the open door and carefully started to make his way over to it. Just as he was about to step out into the hallway and close the door, locking his opponent inside, Max suddenly appeared from the shadows. He reached out and grabbed Eli’s wrist before he could react and twisted it around, effectively flipping Eli onto his back as he took the gun away. Max stood over Eli and pointed the gun as his head, leaving Eli powerless to do anything but remain still and smile.

“Is Liz behind that door?” Max asked, coming to the realization a while ago that she probably wasn’t.

“Why don’t you go look yourself,” Eli suggested with a smirk.

Max reared back and kicked him in the gut, obviously not in the mood to play games. “Where is she?”

Eli gasped for air after getting the wind knocked out of him.

“Max!” Alex yelled through the earpiece. “We need to get the hell out of here! They’re going to blow the place up!”

“What are you talking about?” Max asked, keeping his eyes on Eli as he conversed with Alex.

“I’m talking about a chopper full of guards running into the compound with explosives,” Alex said. “Nobody’s paying any attention to me because they’re all busy evacuating.”

“That’s why there was hardly anyone in here,” Max said to himself, suddenly realizing why the compound was nearly deserted.

Eli began to laugh. “Sounds like you have a friend on the outside. I take it he spotted the demolition team.”

“Look,” Max said as he reached down and grabbed Eli by the shirt, lifting him up onto his feet and pushing him back into the wall. “I don’t really care why you want to demolish this facility. You either show me where Liz is right now or I’ll make sure that you’re still down here when the explosives go off.” He didn’t wait for Eli to respond before he threw him towards the door that he claimed Liz was behind.

Eli let out a sigh as he reached over and opened the door that led to another hallway. He was only able to get one foot over the threshold before a group of three guards appeared at the end of the hall, all armed with automatic weapons. Before he was even able to utter a word in protest, all three guards raised their weapons and opened fire. Max was barely able to duck back into the room in time to prevent himself from getting hit, but Eli wasn’t so lucky. The impact from the bullets had sent him backpedaling into the room where he had fallen to the floor on his back, his chest completely littered with bullet holes. Max quickly scrambled over and closed the steel door, locking it to prevent the guards from getting in.

“What the hell was that?” Alex asked as he came running into the room, his eyes immediately landing on Eli. The man was still alive, but barely. “Oh shit,” he mumbled as he ran a hand through his hair, knowing right away that if Eli died, so did their chances of finding Liz alive.

Max moved over to Eli’s side and ripped open his shirt, confirming what he already knew to be true. He was going to die in a matter of minutes, if not seconds. “Tell me where she is, please,” Max said desperately.

“Y…You know,” Eli choked out, his mouth already filled with blood. “You always were o…one step behind.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Alex asked.

“Y…You’ve always thought that I w…was at the top of the f…food chain here, didn’t you?” Eli asked Max with a bloody smile.

“If you’re not the one in charge then who is?” Max asked. “Is that who has Liz?”

“L…Liz was here,” Eli said, his eyes rolling back in his head momentarily before he groggily came back around. “B…But not anymore.”

“Who has her?” Max asked, feeling the sudden urge to shake the living hell out of the guy.

“My boss,” Eli said.

“Who’s your boss?” Alex asked, knowing that Eli wasn’t going to just come out and say it, but feeling the need to ask anyway.

“T…Think, Max,” Eli said with another smile. “W…Who else has known your w…whereabouts?”

Max thought for a second before Eli gave him another hint.

“W…Who else has c…crossed your path on m…more than one occasion?”

“Oh shit,” Max said as realization hit him like a ton of bricks. “OH SHIT!”

“F…Finally figured it o…out?” Eli asked with a laugh.

“Where is he?” Max asked.

“H…He’ll be in touch,” Eli said.

“Max, we need to get out of here,” Alex said, looking over his shoulder. “We have no idea when this place is going to blow.”

Max took one last look at Eli as he climbed to his feet, noting that his former boss was silently laughing at him. He didn’t say anything as he strode past Alex on his way back toward the elevator, unable to help the feeling that by dying, Eli was finally getting what he deserved.

Eli watched as the other two men left him lying on the floor. He knew his time was up and that all he could do was accept the inevitable. He stared at the ceiling as he took his final breath, letting it out slowly as his body went limp. He was dead.

“What the hell was he talking about back there, and why the hell did his own men shoot him?” Alex asked as he followed Max into Eli’s office.

“Those weren’t his men,” Max said as he started to search everything in sight.

“Then who’s were they?” Alex asked.

Max stopped searching for a second as he looked at Alex. “Who keeps popping up at the strangest places? Who seems to know every move we make before we even make them? Remember Cabo San Lucas?”

Alex thought for a second before he finally figured it out. “No way,” he said as he shook his head. “Nicholas is behind all this?”

Max nodded as he continued to search Eli’s desk.

“What are you looking for?” Alex asked.

“Anything useful,” Max said.

Alex put his rifle down and helped Max search, but after a few minutes of finding nothing, he knew their time was up. “We need to go.”

Max let out a sigh of frustration before he picked up a plastic filing tray off the end of the desk and threw it across the office, causing it to nosily break into four pieces. “Let’s go.”

Alex grabbed his rifle and slung it over his shoulder as he followed Max over to the elevator, silently agreeing that is was probably the safest route, seeing as how everyone simply ignored him a few minutes ago when he was on his way down here. They climbed onto the elevator and took it up to the first level, both holding pistols as the doors opened to reveal an empty hallway.

Side by side they quickly made their way down the hall, and when they turned the corner to make their way outside, they saw two guards walking towards them. Without hesitation, and without even slowing their strides, both Max and Alex raised their guns and shot twice, taking out the two guards with ease. When they finally got outside, they saw that practically everyone was running away from the compound as fast as they could. The only one’s who were holding their ground were those wearing camouflage and totting around automatic weapons, clearly indicating that they were Nicholas’s men.

Nobody paid that much attention to Max and Alex as they followed the herd of scientists and security guards away from the compound, most likely because they were both dressed exactly like all the other guards.

“What do we do now?” Alex asked in a hushed voice.

“We wait,” Max replied. “All we can do is wait for Nicholas to contact us.”

To Be Continued…

posted on 5-May-2002 10:24:33 PM by Fanatic101
I was just re-reading this and realized that I only have one or two more parts until it's done. Don't ask me why I never saw this before now.

Well, it looks like I'll be finishing this story before I get done with Best I Ever Had.

Dani
posted on 10-May-2002 11:13:11 PM by Fanatic101
Authors Note: I'm not sure how many of you read the note I left on Best I Ever Had, but apparently I surprised quite a few people when I said that I was a guy. I know my name is spelled a bit differently than others, but that's what you get when you have a dad with a European background. Here's a little explanation...

My full name is Daniel. In my family, it's a trend that when we shorten a name, we don't change the spelling. So instead of adding a 'ny' to the end and writing is as Danny, my parents simply dropped the 'el' and wrote it as Dani. I thought the spelling was strange too when I was old enough to understand (especially since I was born and raised in the U.S.), but my dad said that that's what they've always done in his family. Apparently it's fairly common in Europe, it's just a little different here in the states.

So from now on I'm going to sign my posts as Dan instead, just so there's no more confusion. I actually answer to both so feel free to address me however you want.

Also...a special thanks to Lisa (Shorty828) for all your help!

Part 17

Considering that the man standing in front of Jeff Parker was partially responsible for his daughter’s current situation, Liz’s dad showed great restraint. After hearing that Colonel Whitman was fully aware of the illegal activities that had subsequently put Liz’s life in danger, yet he did nothing to prevent it, Jeff reared back and decked the guy in the face. Michael would have followed it up with a punch of his own had Maria not stepped in front of him.

Colonel Whitman retreated to the nearest chair and held his aching jaw as Nancy tried to calm her husband down. It wasn’t long before she turned an icy glare to the Colonel and began listing off all the questions she wanted answers to. Colonel Whitman answered each and every one of them, willing to do anything to try and right the wrong that he was unfortunately a part of.

Just as Isabel and the Colonel were about to leave, her cell phone went off. She quickly looked at the caller I.D. window and noticed that it was Alex. “Excuse me for a second,” she said politely before she walked out the front door to get some privacy. “Please tell me you have some good news,” she said after answering her phone.

“Well I guess that depends on your definition of good,” Alex said. “Max and I were able to find the compound in Nevada and we were even able to find Eli...”

“Why do I get the feeling that there’s a big ‘but’ coming up?” Isabel asked as she ran a hand through her hair.

“Liz wasn’t there,” Alex said.

“Damn it,” Isabel said quietly. “How’s Max doing?”

“Not good,” Alex replied. “Not good at all. We checked ourselves into a motel room for the night and right now he’s sitting out on the balcony just staring out into space.”

“Well what do we do now?” Isabel asked.

“Max said the only thing we can do was wait,” Alex answered. Before he was able to say anything else, Max’s laptop started to beep, signaling that there was an incoming message coming in. “Hold on a sec, Iz,” he said before he hurried over to tell Max. “Max…its show time.”

Max just took a deep breath before he stood up and walked back into the room, situating himself in front of the computer.

>Max…you there?<

>I’m here Nicholas< Max typed back.

>I understand that you were at the compound with Eli when he died<

>Where’s Liz?< Max typed, getting straight to the point.

>Why she’s right here next to me. She really wants to say hi, but it’s kind of hard to since her hands are tied up and her mouth is taped shut<

Max jaw muscle started to flex as his anger rose to volcanic proportions. >You want the money, right?<

>Right you are<

>When do you want to trade the money for Liz?<

>Tomorrow. I’ll send you directions on where to meet me when we’re done here. Just make sure you come alone. I want it to be just the two of us so leave the Fed at home<

>You actually expect me to believe you’re not going to bring any reinforcements?<

>I won’t need any reinforcements because you’re going to show up unarmed<

>What time do I meet you?<

>High noon. See you there, Max<

“Iz, I’m going to have to call you back,” Alex said, not liking the way the conversation between Max and Nicholas had taken place.

“Alex, what’s going on?” Isabel asked. She could tell that whatever it was, it wasn’t good.

“I’ll call you back in a couple of minutes and tell you everything, I promise,” Alex said before he hung up the phone. “Please tell me you aren’t planning on going there alone.”

“No, I’m not,” Max said as he waited for the directions to come across. “We’re going to find a way to get you on the playing field. Let’s see where he wants to meet and then go from there. I’m sure we can find a nice elevated position for you to camp out at with the sniper rifle.”

****************

Later that night, Max and Alex traveled out to where Nicholas wanted to meet them the following day. It was only a short drive from Rhyolite, out in an area even more secluded than the ghost town. They decided to park their car a few miles away and walk in, just in case there were any of Nicholas’s men around. They stayed in the shadows, but as it turned out, there was nobody in sight, something that unnerved Max a little.

They found themselves standing in front of a huge field of tall grass, with a forest of trees and dense bushing lining the far side of the field. Given the fact that they were out in the middle of the desert, the grassy field and woodlands that lay beyond looked extremely out of place. Since it was nearly pitch black out, they couldn’t see into the forested area, but Max hazard a guess that even if the sun were shining brightly above, the dense brush would prevent them from seeing anyway.

“Well, it looks like the only spot I could hide out at is over on the roof of that abandoned gas station,” Alex said, pointing to the building that was several hundred yards away. “The only other building around is that closed up saloon down the street, which would be out of range.”

“Just watch your back,” Max said. “If that’s the only hidden spot around, chances are Nicholas will send a man up there too.”

“Don’t worry about me,” Alex said. “As soon as I see Liz, I’m going to take Nicholas out. Just make sure you don’t walk into my line of fire.”

“Before you take the shot, make sure that Liz will be safe,” Max said. “I don’t want you shooting him if there’s a chance that he can hurt Liz in the process.”

“Well, since nobody’s around to see me, I might as well grab the rifle and camp out on the roof for the rest of the night,” Alex said as he and Max made their way back to the car. “You’re not going to confront him unarmed, are you?”

“I don’t have a choice,” Max replied. “Besides, even if I did sneak a gun with me, I seriously doubt I’d be able to draw it out without getting shot in the process.”

“I guess that’s why I’ve got your back then,” Alex said. “Just make sure you wear a wire tomorrow so I can hear what’s going on.”

***************

The moment of truth had finally arrived. Max felt a little bad about leaving Alex on the roof of that abandoned gas station all night, but Alex refused to have it any other way. He said that sneaking up there undetected was a lot easier to do in the middle of the night. Max on the other hand had driven back to the motel just in case Nicholas tried to contact him again. After spending the rest of the night in silence, just staring out the window, Max finally started to get ready when he saw that he only had an hour until he had to meet Nicholas.

“You there Alex?” he asked through the walkie-talkie.

“I’m here,” Alex replied.

“Any sign of Nicholas?” Max asked.

“Not yet,” Alex replied. “But then again, I can’t really see beyond the trees.”

“I’m going to be heading your way in about half an hour,” Max said. “Let me know if anything changes.”

“Will do,” Alex said. “Watch your ass.”

Max finished getting ready, making sure to attach the hidden microphone he would be wearing so Alex could hear everything. Once that was done, he opened the sliding glass door that led to the balcony and sat in the one of the lawn chairs facing out into the desert. He stayed there, perfectly still, until the time came to leave. He then walked back into the room, grabbed the suitcase full of money and left to go confront the man responsible for kidnapping his most prized possession…Liz.

To Be Continued…

posted on 12-May-2002 7:29:41 PM by Fanatic101
Authors Note: Well, this is it. This is the end. Thanks for all your feedback and I hope you enjoy it.

My soul is hurting
And I know I caused my own disgrace
My eyes are blurring
I strain to see beyond this place

And you know all too well
That I don’t know what to do
And I know all too well
That I’m nothing without you

I’m full of remorse
You don’t even have to hurt my pride
These words aren’t forced
I’m torn open I have nothing left to hide

And you knew all too well
That this is how it would be
And I knew all too well
That it’d all come back to me

I lost all confidence
When I found my innocence
It feels my heart with hopefulness
And you are my defense
You are my defense

We’re almost there now
I see home and it’s just around the bend
And I know that somehow
We’re gonna make it to the end

And you knew all too well
That I would lose my way
But I knew all too well
That you would save the day

I lost all confidence
When I found my innocence
It feels my heart with hopefulness
And you are my defense
I lost all confidence
When I found my innocence
It feels my heart with hopefulness
And you are my defense
You are my defense

Defense by Bliss 66

Part 18

When Max arrived back at the field, he threw a quick glace back at the abandoned gas station that Alex was perched on. He could see that Alex was moving around a little, silently letting him know that he was still there. Max turned back towards the field and took a deep breath before he began walking. He could see something sitting in the middle of the grass, but he couldn’t quite make out what it was. As he got closer, he noticed that it was actually a duffle bag. Just as he was about to reach down and pick it up, he had an overwhelming sense of de JA vu. Then when he heard someone call out his name from behind him, that intensified the feeling. He quickly turned to find Nicholas standing about twenty yards away, near the entrance to the forested area, with Liz held firmly in his grip.

Max let out a sigh of relief when he saw that Liz seemed to be unharmed, but as he started to make his way toward them, Nicholas pulled out a gun and pointed it directly at Liz’s head.

“That’s close enough,” Nicholas said. “Let me see the money.”

Max took a quick glace around, noticing that there didn’t seem to be anyone else around. He then unzipped the bag and held it open for Nicholas to see.

“Good boy,” Nicholas said with a smile. “Now empty the money into the duffle bag on the ground. And I better not see you try to slip any type of tracking device in there either.”

Max did as he was told, all the while keeping at eye on Liz. She was silently crying, but never once made a sound. It amazed him that she could be so brave in a situation such as this, but then again he was used to her amazing him. She did it practically every day. When he was done swapping the money into the new bag, he stood back up.

“Now throw it over to me,” Nicholas said.

Max wasn’t about to give him the money until he let Liz go, so he picked up the bag and dropped it at his side.

“I said throw the bag over to me,” Nicholas repeated.

“My arm hurts,” Max said. “That’s as far as I can throw it.”

Nicholas let out a laugh as he continued to eye Max. “Well, it looks like our business here is done.”

The next few minutes seemed to go by in slow motion. It was then that Max realized why he had a sense of de JA vu. This was the exact same scenario that had played out in his dreams for the past five years, and in his dreams, he always died.

Max’s eyes widened when Nicholas pushed Liz away, causing her to stumble to the ground, then turned the gun and pointed it at him. One shot rang out a moment later, causing Max to blink as he looked down at his chest, expecting to find that he had been shot. When he didn’t see anything, he glanced back up just in time to see a trickle of blood run down Nicholas’s forehead before he fell to the ground with a thud.

“Alex,” Max whispered thankfully, taking in another sigh of relief. Then his eyes immediately shot over to Liz, who was still on the ground with both hands covering her mouth.

She let out a sob when she saw that Max was all right, and that Nicholas hadn’t shot him like she though he would. It only took her a second to climb to her feet and make a beeline for the one person she needed the most.

Max smiled as he rushed over to meet her, but that’s when things took a sudden turn for the worst. He was only able to take two steps before three more gunshots rang out. Max felt something strike him in the chest, causing him to stumble back a few steps. He then looked down at his chest, finding that his shirt was now starting to stain red. It took his mind a second to finally comprehend the fact that he had just been shot. When his eyes lifted to look at Liz, he could see the fear and sadness written all over her face as she looked on at him in horror.

“Liz?” Max asked quietly just seconds before he fell to the ground.

"NOOOOOOOO!” Liz yelled out as she rushed over to Max’s fallen body.

Upon hearing the gunshots, Alex quickly scouted the area, looking for its source. He spotted something moving around in the trees and bushes at the far end of the field, and when he peered through the scope to get a closer look, his suspicion was confirmed; Nicholas had brought someone else with him. “You son of a bitch,” Alex muttered before he took the shot, killing the guy and sending him sprawling back into the brush. Fearing that there may be others out there as well, Alex kept a close eye out for any more movement. Once he was convinced that there were no more threats, he quickly rushed down from the roof to see if he could help Max.

Once Liz reached Max’s side, she quickly dropped to her knees and pulled his head onto her lap as she looked down at his chest. There was blood everywhere. Tears fell down her cheeks as she reached out and tried her best to cover his wounds and stop the bleeding. Her entire body started to shake as she gently rocked back and forth, brushing his hair off his forehead with her free hand. She heard one more gunshot ring out, but she didn’t concern herself with it. It was obvious to her that Alex was nearby, otherwise Nicholas wouldn’t be lying dead ten yards away. “It’s going to be alright,” she said. “Just hang in there, okay?”

“Liz,” Max said weakly, having a hard time keeping his eyes open. He slowly reached up and cupped her cheek, wiping away her tears with his thumb after she had leaned into his hand. “Can you hear it?”

“Hear what?” Liz asked as she fought to keep herself from completely losing it. In the end, the more she fought to control her emotions, the more tears rolled down her cheeks.

“The music,” Max whispered with a tiny smile, his eyes drifting to the sky. “But it’s not like my dream. This music is…peaceful. I can hear my parents singing.”

Liz couldn’t control the sob that ripped through her body as she leaned over and cradled his head into her neck. “Don’t you dare die on me, you hear? I need you. I still need you.”

“Liz,” Max whispered, causing her to pull back and look at him, “thank…” he suddenly arched his back as his face contorted in pain, causing Liz break down even more. After the pain had dulled a little, he looked back into her eyes. “Thank you.”

“For what?” Liz asked, barely able to talk through her tears.

“For…for loving me,” Max said. “I…I always thought I was a…a monster, but knowing you has…has made me…human again.” He took a deep breath and forced himself to swallow before he smiled and went on. “I…I…love you…Liz.”

Liz let out another sob as she leaned over and kissed him hard. “I love you,” she whispered against his lips as her own lips started to tremble out of control, tears continuing to run down her face and mixing in with the kiss. “So much. Please don’t leave me…please don’t leave me.”

“I’ll…I’ll never leave you…Liz,” Max said with a weak smile. “I’ll always be…right here,” he said as he tenderly grabbed one of her hands and slowly moved it up to cover her heart. “Always.”

With that, Max’s eyes slowly started to lose their focus as they drifted away from Liz’s face and stared off into the sky, the smile that had been on his face a second earlier now slowly started to fade away as his hand fell to the ground. His body gently convulsed a couple of times before it went limp, remaining perfectly still in Liz’s arms.

“Max?” Liz asked quietly, her voice slightly cracking as she gently shook him, her brow now furrowed together. “Max,” she said a little louder, still getting no response. “MAX!!!” she yelled. Unable to hold her emotions in any longer, she completely lost control. She started shaking violently as sob after sob ripped through her tiny body, right down to her soul. “NOOOO!!!!!” she wailed as she clutched Max’s lifeless body to her chest. “Please come back to me…please!” she kept begging. “I need you! Please…please don’t make me live without you!”

“Liz? Liz, wake up!”

“No…NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

“LIZ!!!”

Liz bolted up in bed, breathing heavy as beads of sweat dripped down from her brow. It took her a second to regain her bearings, but she quickly ran her hands through her hair to get it out of her face before she turned in her bed. When she saw Max staring at her, concern written all over his face even though his eyes were slightly groggy from sleep, relief flooded her body as she crawled over and sat on his lap, hugging him as close as she could while she closed her eyes and let her tears slip from under her eyelids.

“Liz?” Max asked as he rocked her back and forth gently, holding her close to his chest as he continually ran one hand through her hair in a soothing manner. “It’s okay…you just had a nightmare.”

Liz nodded as she grabbed fistfuls of his shirt, clinging to him for dear life as she let out a little sob.

“Shhh,” Max whispered into her ear before he placed a gentle kiss on her temple. “Everything’s alright…everything’s alright.”

After a few minutes of silent embrace, Liz pulled back and tried to wipe away the tear stains on Max’s shirt, letting out a small laugh as she wiped at her eyes with the back of her hands. “Sorry,” she mumbled.

“Don’t be,” Max said with a smile as he helped her dry her eyes. “Are you okay?”

Liz took a deep breath before she smiled and nodded. “I am now.”

“Do you want anything…like a drink of water or something to eat?” Max asked, willing to do anything to make her feel better.

“Uh…yeah, yeah…some water and a snack actually sounds really good right now,” she replied.

“Okay,” Max said before he placed a gentle kiss on her forehead and climbed out of bed.

“I’m just going to go check on Jacob,” Liz said as she too climbed out of bed.

Max looked back at her for a second before a smile slowly crept over his face.

“What?” she asked.

“Nothing,” Max said with a slight shake of his head. “I just…for some reason I was just thinking about when he was first born, watching you rock him back and forth in the old rocking chair that was next to his crib. I used to stand in the doorway and listen to you sing to him. I don’t know, watching you with our son…it was like witnessing a miracle.” He shook his head slightly as he let out a soft laugh. “Don’t ask me why I just thought of that.”

Liz walked up and wrapped her arms around his waist as she buried her cheek into his chest. “I love you.”

“I love you, too,” Max said as he ran both hands through her hair before he placed a kiss on the top of her head. “I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

Liz watched Max leave the room before she quietly made her way into her son’s bedroom. He was lying on his side, one hand tucked under the pillow while the other lay in front of his chest. His mouth was slightly open and his hair was completely messed up, just like Max’s was every morning when he first woke up. She just watched him sleep for a minute before she leaned over and kissed his forehead, thankful that the two most important men in her life were alive and well. She quietly backed out of his room and made her way back to the master bedroom, smiling sweetly when she saw Max sitting on the bed with a drink and snack all ready for her.

“How is he?” Max asked.

“He looks like an angel when he’s asleep, just like you do,” Liz said as she climbed onto the bed and sat across from her husband. She took a drink of water and started to snack on the food in front of her when Max’s next question stopped her movements.

“Are you…can you tell me what happened?” he asked gently. “You really had me spooked there for a little while.”

Liz put her food down before she slid up to rest against the headboard. “I had a dream about the two of us, along with Jacob, Isabel, Alex…practically everyone we know…”

Max remained silent as he listened to Liz retell the nightmare she had just lived through. Some parts he found quite humorous, but others, like his parents dying, he found troubling.

“…so you started walking towards me with the suitcase when Nicholas pulled out a gun. Alex shot him before he could shoot at you, but there was someone else in that field. He…he shot you a couple of times,” Liz said, looking down at her hands as her bottom lip started to tremble. She knew that it was just a dream, but the thought of losing Max had unnerved her to no end. “I… I rushed over to you and pulled your head onto my lap. You thanked me for loving you and said that you’d always be with me…in my heart. And then…then…you died.” She finished with a small sob as she looked up into Max’s eyes. She could feel tears pouring down her face again but she made no attempt to stop them.

“Come here,” Max said gently as he opened his arms to her. Liz’s brow furrowed together even more and she crawled over and wrapped her arms around Max’s neck, allowing him to pick her up and place her on his lap again.

“It felt so real,” Liz said, still crying. “I never wanted to image what it felt like to lose you, but in my dream…I…it felt like…” she couldn’t complete her sentence before her throat tightened up, preventing her from speaking.

“Shhh,” Max said gently as he rubbed her back to sooth her. “I’m fine. I’m right here.”

Liz ran one hand up into his hair to pull him even closer to her as she listened to him whisper sweat nothings into her ear. After a few minutes of having him relax her, she slowly pulled back and gave him a desperate, lingering kiss filled with emotion. “Thank you,” she said as she leaned her forehead against his.

“For what?” Max asked softly.

“For loving me,” Liz said, not even realizing that that was one of the last things that the dream Max had said to her before he died.

Max just shook his head slightly as he gave her a tiny smile. “I’m the one who’s lucky.”

After a long minute of silently staring at each other, Liz finally spoke. “So…pretty wild dream, huh?” she asked with a small laugh.

“Do you really see me as an assassin?” Max asked with amusement.

“Personally, I don’t think that’s any more ridiculous than Alex being an FBI agent,” Liz replied, feeling her heart swell when she heard Max let out a heartfelt laugh.

“True, very true,” he said. “So…are you okay now, or do I need to put your mind at ease?” he asked with a smirk.

“Well, now that you mention it,” Liz said, playing along with her husband. “I think it would be best if you did, you know, just to be on the safe side.”

Max’s smile grew as he slowly guided Liz down on her back, gently lying on top of her before he nibbled on her bottom lip, sucking it into his mouth. Liz let out a breathy moan as she wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him closer to her body. She let herself lose control as Max left hot open-mouthed kisses along her jaw line and neck, thankful that her real life was the exact opposite of the nightmare she had just experienced. She placed both hands on the sides of Max’s face and pulled him up so she could look into his eyes. “Max, make love to me.”

Normally Max didn’t need to be told twice, but what really got to him this time was the desperation and need that he saw in her beautiful eyes. It was more intense than anything he had ever seen her emit before and it rattled him a little. “Liz?”

She knew exactly what he was asking by simply looking into his eyes. “I’ll be fine as soon as I can feel you inside me.”

Max gave her a tiny smile before he leaned over and captured her lips with his own. The two of them spent the rest of the night making love, neither caring about the fact that they didn’t get any more sleep.

When morning came, Liz found herself encased in Max’s strong arms, a sense of peace washing over her as she felt him run his hand though her hair. She made a decision right then and there that not only was she going to call in sick to work that day, but she’d also convince Max to as well. All they had to do was make sure that Jacob got to school okay then they’d have the rest of the day to spend together.

“You alright?” Max asked softly.

Liz smiled against his chest as she ran her hand up and down his side. “You’ve got some sick time to use up, don’t you?”

“Yeah, why?” Max asked, smiling down at his wife as she planted a soft kiss of his chest.

“Call in sick and you’ll see,” Liz replied as she smiled up at him. She had every intention of keeping him in bed with her for the rest of the day, and there wasn’t a single thing that anybody could do to stop her.

THE END


[ edited 3 time(s), last at 14-May-2002 12:12:23 AM ]
posted on 31-May-2002 5:50:52 PM by Fanatic101
I have a question for everyone.

Not too many of you know this, but I actually have an alternate ending for this story. I began writing the final part one way, but I received so many e-mails from everyone begging for a "happy ending" that I changed it.

My question is...should I post that alternate ending?

I was talking with a couple friends of mine (hi Amy & Alison) and they mentioned that they didn't really like the ending of this story too much. I'm sure they're not the only ones, so maybe you guys would like the ending I had ORIGINALLY written better.

Let me know what you think.

Dan