|posted on 17-Dec-2001 3:39:33 AM by Destinee|
Title: Strong, Dangerous, & Undeniable
Author: Destinee (smylee⊕playful.com)
Category: M/L, a little Mi/Ma, and a strong focus on Michael
Disclaimer: The characters in this story don't belong to me, but to M. Metz, J. Katims, and The WB- or I guess now it’s UPN. In any case, I'm just gently leading them where I'd like them to go. No infringement intended.
Summary: This story begins with the scene in MITC when Liz does her astral projection thing. It follows along with everything in the show up to that point, and goes on to explore Liz's powers, and to resolve the obstacles in the path of her being together with Max.
Author's Note: Well, it's 2:00 in the morning, and I have to get up early for work, but I promised a new part this weekend and I didn't feel like I could go to bed until I got this up. LOL. I know everyone was expecting the Tess confrontation to take place in this part, and I really expected to get there too, but I didn't make it. I would've made the chapter longer to include it, but it's just getting too late for me to think straight, and I actually still have no clear idea of how the whole conversation is going to go down. I'm hoping the next part won't take a week to finish as they usually do, (I know, I know, sometimes longer ) and I may just post a shorter part that only includes the confrontation to make it work out that way. I hope no one wants to kill me for the way this one ends, but I'll do my best to get the next part up as quickly as possible. Enjoy!
Here's parts 1-54 for anyone who needs catching up:
Liz woke the next morning to find herself surrounded by the same glowing sense of security she’d fallen asleep with the night before. A feeling that was entirely generated by the strong arms cradling her tenderly against a warm, muscled chest. She made a tiny nestling motion with her cheek against the smooth, naked skin of that chest without bothering to open her eyes, a smile of contentment curving her lips.
Could there be any more glorious way to start the day than to wake feeling cherished and loved? And to find your heart’s inspiration, solid and warm, sweetly filling your arms?
As she climbed a little more towards wakefulness, she remembered that, though it seemed this contented feeling had traveled with her from the point of sleep through to morning, sometime during the night it had taken a brief side-trip.
A tiny crease appeared between her brows upon remembering the nightmares that had plagued her all night. She and Max both had been jarred awake several times during the course of the night, although she wasn’t entirely clear on whether they’d actually been sharing the dreams. Whether they had or not, she was afraid they’d all originated from her, because they’d all involved Future Max in one way or another.
She hadn’t been aware Max was awake until that moment, when she felt his hand come up to lightly play in her hair, and with a final nuzzle of the pliant muscle pillowing her head, she sighed deeply before dragging her eyes open to join him in his morning.
When he felt her stirring to life beside him, Max craned his head back to look down at her, and she smiled up at him sleepily.
“Hi,” she greeted him softly.
“Hi,” he returned in a husky rumble, his hand continuing to stroke her hair. “How do you feel this morning? You okay?” he asked gently, concerned over what a bad night she’d seemed to have.
Dipping her head shyly, she answered, “Yeah. Sorry I kept waking you. I guess you didn’t get much sleep.”
With a dismissive gesture of his head, Max brushed her hair away from her face and replied, “It’s okay. You didn’t either. You’re really worried about today, aren’t you?”
Liz immediately denied it with a shake of her head, and he said chidingly, “Sweetheart. You were having nightmares about it. It’s obviously bothering you a lot.”
Her heart did a little flip at the casual endearment he’d uttered so smoothly, and the rest of his words were forgotten as she looked up at him with a darkly glowing gaze.
“You called me that before,” she recalled with a soft tone of pleasure. “Last night in the back room of the Crashdown.”
Max reddened a little when he realized what he’d said. The endearment had slipped from his lips so effortlessly, he’d barely even been aware of using it. He remembered the same thing happening last night when she’d cried in his arms.
“Yeah, uh... I guess it just kinda slipped out,” he said almost sheepishly, lifting a hand to scratch the side of his head.
“I like it,” she admitted shyly, her eyes lowered to watch her finger tracing aimless circles on his breastbone.
Lip caught between her teeth even as the corners tipped up irrepressibly, she lifted her gaze back to his, and they shared a soft smile that lit both their features.
It was silly, but it felt like they’d just taken a significant step in their relationship. As if following the mores of a well-established couple who were familiar enough with one another for comfortable endearments identified them as just such a couple. It was a sentiment that made them feel a bit more confident to face Tess together that day .
While they continued to gaze at one another with a soft glow of delight, Max’s head began to lower towards hers at the same time Liz lifted up to meet him, and they reached the mid-way point in a gentle coming together of lips. Soft and unhurried, the kiss was another form of tender affirmation, a strengthening of their unity and a reassurance that all would be well with whatever came that day as long as they held fast to one another.
Just as Max was urging Liz to scoot up a bit higher so they could deepen the kiss, a knock at Liz’s door startled them apart abruptly.
“Lizzie. Sweetie, are you up?” her dad called through the door.
Two sets of eyes widened the size of saucers as they stared at one another in a frozen instant of horror.
Then both exploded into a frenzy of action as they struggled to free themselves from the entrapping blankets, each hindering the other’s progress with the kick of legs that were tangled with one another’s, and the useless jerking of arms that were trapped beneath each other’s bodies. Max barely missed injury from a misplaced knee before they managed to make their way to their feet, and as he scrambled over the edge of the mattress, his foot snagged in a corner of the top-sheet nearly sending him sprawling to the floor on his face.
As if it had a life of its own, that same offensive sheet somehow made its way off the bed with them, entwined tightly around Liz’s body, and while she frantically tried to fight her way free of its clinging folds, Max began a harried search for his clothes.
His heart redoubled its panicked beat when he could only discover the whereabouts of one of his shoes. He’d come in here with two of them, hadn’t he? Where was his other freakin’ shoe?!! was the singular thought in his mind, as he desperately searched the room.
Liz finally clawed her way free from the determined grasp of the sheet, flinging it away from her violently and consigning the thing to the fires of bedsheet hell, when her dad knocked again.
“Liz? Honey, you should be up. It’s almost 7:00.”
A slight jiggle of the doorknob had Liz’s eyes flying to the door in panic, but the door remained firmly shut.
Max shot up from the floor next to her, the victorious possessor of his second shoe, and before he could move away she grasped hold of his forearms to still him.
“No. Max. Max!” she said in a near-silent hiss. “It’s okay! The door’s locked.”
“Um...I’m up, Dad,” she called shakily. “I was just, uhh–“ she swung her head around wildly, looking to Max for inspiration, when her attention was caught by the bathroom behind him. “I was getting in the shower. I’ll just see you downstairs for breakfast, okay?”
“Okay, sweetie,” Jeff agreed readily. “Don’t take too long, okay? You’ll be late.”
“I won’t,” she promised.
She and Max looked at each other tensely until they were sure her dad was gone, then both slumped visibly in relief.
“That was way too close,” Liz said darkly.
“Yeah,” Max agreed wholeheartedly with a rushing release of breath. “I don’t think I was that scared even when we faced down Nicholas,” he attempted to joke.
Liz’s lips quirked. “Yeah, well, overprotective father, alien devil-child, same thing,” she shrugged as if it were a negligible distinction.
Grinning, Max chuckled underneath his breath appreciatively, and Liz giggled softly, feeling strangely euphoric by their narrow escape.
When they had quieted, Liz said seriously, “Listen, my mom’s still in the house somewhere, although hopefully she’s sleeping in, but we should hurry and get out of here.”
Max nodded in agreement. “Why don’t you let me take the shower first, I won’t be long. And I’ll keep it running for you so no one hears two separate showers.”
“Okay, good idea,” she assented.
When he started to move away to gather what he’d need to get ready, Liz’s hand shot out to catch hold of his shirt. Max halted and looked down at her questioningly, and despite her admonition that they needed to hurry, she pulled him to her by the front of his shirt, a twinkle in her eye that was both playful and provocative.
His lips curving upward, Max willingly let himself be hauled forward, sliding his hands around her tiny waist as she took his jaw in her hand and pressed up on tiptoe to kiss him softly.
Max responded immediately to the sweet nuzzling movements of her lips against his, and one of his hands caught in her hair as he brought it up to cup the back of her head. He caught a quick taste of her on his tongue before she tilted her head to re-engage his lips from the opposite angle, and when they made contact again in an exchange of delicate open-mouthed nibbles, Liz echoed his gesture with a quick tease of her own tongue.
She broke off the kiss far sooner than he would’ve liked, but even so, he was still breathing a bit heavily when she pulled away.
“What was that for?” he asked huskily, forehead touching hers.
Liz reached up for another lingering taste of his lips, then, with splayed fingers drifting down the side of his neck, she murmured throatily, “That.. was because I like waking up next to you in the mornings. I didn’t get to tell you before.”
Max leaned in again to kiss her with smiling lips, lightly sucking her bottom lip into his mouth for the briefest of instants in a heart-stalling tease, before pulling back slightly to reply, “Yeah, I like it too. I could see it becoming addicting pretty fast.”
“Mmm,” she hummed in agreement, her lips once again sliding moistly over his. “Guess we probably shouldn’t get too used to it though,” she said sensibly.
“Probably not,” he replied regrettably.
Words ceased as they occupied one another’s mouths in a more pleasant task, one that involved the stimulating use of tongues as well, and both of them were breathing more heavily when Max broke away this time.
Combing his hands through her hair, he said reluctantly, “We should probably get going.”
Knowing he was right, Liz slowly nodded. “Okay,” she concurred softly, her thumb caressing the hollow beneath his ear. “I just...kinda needed this, you know?”
Tenderness warmed his eyes, and he enfolded her within his arms, pulling her forward against him.
He knew exactly what she meant. They had no idea how this day was going to play itself out, and it felt like they were going out there to face down a threat. One that had succeeded in tearing them apart on two separate occasions. And he knew Liz was feeling especially troubled about it, if her nightmares last night were any indication. They’d both needed this brief morning respite to sort of prepare themselves. To draw closer in one another so they would be ready to face the challenge that was Destiny.
“I know,” he said in quiet understanding. “We should talk too. We can do that at breakfast, okay?” he offered. Now that they felt somewhat emotionally prepared, he knew they needed to work on being ready mentally. Starting with those dreams of hers.
“Okay,” she gave her hushed assent from her place against his chest. “We aren’t going to have much time, though.”
“Yeah, we need to get a move on,” he agreed.
Pulling back, he gave her a quick kiss to the forehead before letting her go, and as she bent her head slightly to accept it, her eye was caught by the neck of his shirt.
Giggling, she caught hold of it and said teasingly, “Make sure you put your shirt on the right way around this time, Your Majesty. Can’t have the king of the ruling planets walking around with his shirt on backwards.”
Max glanced down at the shirt in question, and saw that she held the label at its neckline in her hand.
With a sheepish expression, he said defensively, “I was a little more concerned with saving my skin at the time than I was about the dictates of fashion, okay?”
Liz laughed and said jokingly, “Isabel would never forgive you if you were to get yourself killed while committing such a fashion blunder.”
Max snorted. “Yeah. All those wasted years of trying to teach me what I should and shouldn’t wear, only to find to find that I couldn’t even die with the dignity of my shirt on right.”
Her soft laughter mingled with his wry chuckle, and they parted on that note to begin the hurried task of getting ready for school. True to his word, Max took less than ten minutes in the bathroom, and emerged amidst a cloud of billowing steam with his hair still wet and slicked back.
With clothes in hand, Liz moved to take her turn, and he told her before she passed, “I’m just gonna go on down to the diner. I’ll see you down there, okay?”
Liz nodded in answer, and while she entered the bathroom to get cleaned up, Max gathered all his things from her room, used a quick burst of energized heat to dry his hair, then left by way of her window to make his way down to the Crashdown.
Fifteen minutes later, Liz joined him in his favorite booth, dressed for school in jeans and a sweater, and hair still slightly damp from her shower.
Max’s smile of greeting seemed forced as she slid into the seat across from him, and his eyes fell to the cup of coffee cradled between his hands while she settled herself into place.
Immediately sensing something was up, she asked apprehensively, “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” he assured her with a blithe shake of his head.
Liz looked at him carefully. He seemed troubled or upset about something in a way he hadn’t been a few minutes earlier up in her room.
“Are you sure? You seem...worried or something. Did something happen?”
With a gesture of dismissal, he said, “I’m just thinking about today, that’s all.”
Liz nodded in understanding. Nerves were beginning to flutter in her stomach too.
“I am a little worried about you I guess,” Max told her, wanting to bring up her dreams from the night before.
“Me? Why?” she asked with a frown. “Max... you don’t have to worry. I promise I’ll stand up and fight for us today. I’m not gonna back down this time,” she assured him without meeting his eyes, feeling guilty that she’d ever given him reason to doubt her.
“Is that what you think?” he asked gently. “That I don’t have any faith in you?”
Shrugging unhappily, she said with averted eyes, “I didn’t say that, exactly. But I can hardly blame you. I mean, every other time this has come up, this- this thing with Tess, I’ve always walked away. But I won’t do that this time, Max, I promise. I do believe in us.”
“Liz, I know that,” he reassured her tenderly, reaching across the table to cover one of her hands with his own. “And I know you only did that before because you thought you were doing what was best for me. And for Michael and Isabel, and my people. That doesn’t make me doubt you, sweetheart, it makes me love you all the more.”
A faint smile crossed her features at his use of the new endearment, and hearing it warmed her almost as much as his reassurances did.
“When I said I was worried, I just meant I’m worried about how this thing seems to be tearing you up.”
“It’s not,” she denied with a slight shrugging motion of head and shoulder.
“Then what were all those nightmares about last night? I think I shared that last one with you, Liz. You were dreaming about me, weren’t you? I mean, the future me.” When she didn’t answer, he recited the dream back to her. “You and I were kissing on your balcony, and...the future me was on his knees with- with Michael in his arms. He was crying, and he said something about how he’d told you our lives were depending on you.” Max swallowed hard, more affected by the dream than he’d like to admit. He just had to keep telling himself that things had changed from that timeline, and what they’d seen in her dream wouldn’t happen that way this time.
Liz’s gaze had lowered to the tabletop as he spoke, his words calling to mind other dreams form the night that he hadn’t mentioned. Dreams in which she and Max had been together and happy before Future Max had appeared between them to accuse Liz of being selfish. Of putting her own happiness above her friends’ well-being. Telling her that what she was doing was critical to the history of the planet, the same as he’d done on that fateful day over a month ago. The worst ones had been when Max, himself- the present Max, that is- had pushed away from her in the very midst of kissing her, disappointment and disgust evident in his voice as he’d accused her of the same things.
It was true she was feeling a little worried about going forward in defiance of Future Max’s warnings, but she hadn’t thought it was bothering her enough to warrant an endless night of nightmares about it.
“I don’t know why I dreamed all that stuff last night, Max. I guess... subconsciously, maybe it is bothering me just a little,” she conceded. “I know things are different now, I’m just not sure we changed them enough. It’s not knowing what Tess is gonna do that’s so hard. I just– I’m ready to get it over with,” she said with a sigh. “When are we gonna talk to her?”
“I think we’re gonna have to wait until after school,” Max answered apologetically. “We need to be somewhere private when we tell her.”
Just as Liz was nodding in reluctant agreement, the bell over the door signaled a new arrival, and Michael and Maria entered the café together.
“What are you guys doing here?” Liz asked in surprise, as the two of them approached the booth.
“We thought we’d come offer a little moral support,” Maria said lightly, dropping into the seat beside Liz.
Michael was a little slower to seat himself, and he and Max eyed one another warily before the taller alien slid onto the bench seat next to his leader.
“Actually, Maria was starving and she refused to eat anything I had in the apartment,” Michael said in correction.
Maria looked at him exasperatedly and said, “Michael, if you’re gonna promise a girl breakfast after she’s spent the night with you, you might at least have more to offer her than dry toast and tobasco-flavored coffee.” She wrinkled her nose in distaste.
He gave her a narrow-eyed look of sarcasm, and replied, “It wasn’t dry toast. I had jam. And keep your voice down,” he added with a quick look at the nearly-empty café. “You want everyone to know you were my houseguest last night?”
“Oh, relax,” she chided. “The only ones here are old Mr. and Mrs. Timms. Who’re they gonna tell? I’m sure the news would spread through the senior citizen community like wildfire,” she said mockingly.
She turned to Liz with an empathetic expression, effectively ensuring that she got the last word with Michael, and asked her friend, ”How are you guys doing this morning? You think you’re ready for this talk with Tess?”
Liz nodded wearily. “I’m just ready to get it behind us, you know? But Max was just saying we probably need to wait until after school to talk to her.”
“Yeah, uh... we’re gonna need someplace to go where we won’t be interrupted. Can we use your apartment?” he asked Michael rather stiffly.
“Yeah. I’ve gotta work after school, but I can give you guys the key,” Michael returned in the same stilted tone, neither boy looking at each other as they spoke.
Sending a keen look between the two of them, Maria asked, “Are you guys still gonna try to do the group dream thing tonight?”
Max shrugged uncertainly. “I guess it depends on what happens with Tess.”
Nodding, she hesitated, then asked Liz, “So... were you guys gonna eat?”
“Oh, um, I’ll probably just have some orange juice or something. Max? Did you want anything?” Liz asked.
“Some more coffee? And maybe some French toast?” he requested politely.
“Michael?” Maria asked, extending the same offer to him.
“You’re waiting on me?” Michael asked, lifting a brow in quizzical disbelief.
Maria shrugged off his surprise, saying, “I figure since you kept me safe from the bogey-man last night, it’s the least I can do. But it may never happen again in this lifetime, so don’t get used to it.”
Lips twisting dryly, Michael gave her his order, and as soon as the two girls had left to get their food, Max said quietly, “Listen, I need to talk to you.”
“Good, ‘cause I’ve got a few things to say to you too,” Michael said in an angry undertone. “Like why is it that Max ‘Control Freak’ Evans doesn’t seem to know the meaning of that word whenever he gets within five feet of Liz Parker? Maybe you could tell me that, huh?” Shaking his head, he continued tightly, “If one single item of clothing was removed last night, Maxwell, I swear...”
“You swear what, Michael?” Max bit out before he could stop himself. Immediately pulling in a calming breath, he cut Michael off before he could answer. “Look, forget it. That’s not what I wanted to talk about. This is important.”
Instantly silenced by the seriousness of his tone, Michael asked apprehensively, “What is it?”
“I need you to help me keep a close look-out again today,“ Max said soberly. His face grim, he told him, “I think someone was watching us from Liz’s balcony last night.”
He went on to tell Michael how he’d come across a scarf outside Liz’s window as he’d been leaving her room earlier. Thinking Liz had left it out there, he’d picked it up with the intentions of putting it back in her room, when several flashes of him and Liz in her bed together had slammed into him. Upon searching the balcony for further evidence of someone’s presence, he’d come across a few shredded remnants of tissues from the box Liz kept on a small table outside, and a discarded gum wrapper.
“Liz could have left the tissues and gum wrapper out there herself,” Michael said dismissively, though he couldn’t really make himself believe it. This was the girl that swept the restaurant like twelve times during a four-hour shift, and insisted that the only excuse for letting the smallest shred of dropped lettuce or whatever sit on the kitchen floor was if he had orders piled up to his eyebrows.
“Not the scarf, though, Michael,” Max said darkly, knowing in his gut that their watcher had spied on him and Liz last night. He only hoped they hadn’t seen any more than those flashes had indicated. The idea of Nicholas, or some other perverted psycho watching them as they’d passionately explored one another last night made him physically ill. It also made him furious that their privacy could’ve been violated that way. He wanted this guy stopped. Now.
“Here,” he said, pulling one end of the scarf from the inside pocket of his jacket, and handing it over to Michael under the cover of the table. “See if you get anything from it.”
With a furtive look at the old couple who were occupying the only other table in the place, and a quick check on Maria and Liz’s whereabouts, Michael took hold of the scarf and closed his eyes to concentrate.
After a minute or so, he shook his head in failure. “Nothing. Maybe Liz and I together could–“
“No,” Max cut him off. “I don’t want Liz to know about this, Michael. She’s got enough worries on her mind today without taking this on too. Just help me watch, okay? I don’t like the feel of this. This guy is getting careless. And he was way too close last night. He couldn’t have been more than ten feet away from us.” He could hardly believe the watcher had dared to venture so close. He also found it hard to believe that the guy had been that close to them, and he’d remained utterly oblivious to his spying presence. Some protection he’d been, Max thought with self-disgust.
“Well why just watch though?” Michael asked in frustrated bewilderment. “I don’t get this guy. What exactly is he out to do?”
Max shook his head broodingly. “I don’t have a clue. But whatever it is, it feels like he’s closing in on us.”
“Yeah, well.. he can’t be too awfully dangerous,” Michael said with grim humor. “I mean, what kind of bad guy wears a scarf, anyway?”
“A cold-blooded one?” Max offered with caustic irony.
He hastily tucked the scarf away when Liz and Maria headed back to the table at that moment, but the subject of their discussion stayed at the forefront of both boys’ minds throughout the rest of the day.
Both stuck close to Liz at school, without bothering to worry whether they were stepping on each other’s toes the way they had the previous day, and they both stayed on the alert at all times. It was tricky keeping their wariness and extra diligence from coming to Liz’s attention, but she’d been easily distracted all day, her mind mostly occupied with thoughts of the upcoming confrontation with Tess.
It had been a relief to see Tess at school as if nothing were different, and Liz took every opportunity to look for any change in her demeanor that might tell them what was in her mind. But though Maria and Isabel both helped in the effort, chatting in a friendly manner with Tess, and asking if she were okay, Nacedo’s young charge remained as unreadable as ever.
Worries over the Tess situation played heavily on Max’s mind too as he kept on the lookout for danger, and he tried to keep up a steadying presence at Liz’s side for her sake, while maintaining the charade of their friends-only relationship for its final day.
Michael was also hyper-aware of Liz’s state of nervous preoccupation. It had made itself felt on his consciousness, affecting his own sensibilities until he felt on edge himself. By the time the school day drew to a close, the three of them felt cranky and out of sorts, and Liz honestly felt that it was a mistake for her and Max to confront Tess in their current state of mind. But they really didn’t have a choice. It was too important to be putting it off, and Tess had already agreed to meet them at Michael’s anyway.
For her part, Tess wasn’t looking forward to the meeting any more than Max and Liz were. She’d noticed their excessive closeness all through the day. Every time she’d turned around it had seemed she’d seen them together. And though she hadn’t witnessed an undue amount of overt touching, she’d often caught them gazing at one another in that way they had that excluded all the rest of the world. She couldn’t imagine anything the two of them would have to tell her except that they were back together, and she’d said as much to Max when he’d asked her over for this little chat. He’d avoided answering directly, asking if it looked like they were together. The conversation had taken place as soon as they’d gotten to school that morning, so of course she hadn’t seen anything at that point to give evidence to the charge, and Max had put an end to the discussion, saying they just needed to wait until they had a little privacy before they talked about it any more.
Truth be known, Tess wasn’t actually sure why she’d agreed to meet them. All day long she’d been arguing with herself over whether she was going to stay here or not. She still believed it would be the best thing for everyone involved if she just left Roswell, and she’d half-heartedly tried to come up with a list of things she needed to get done before she left, as well as plans for where she would go, and how she was going to live. But when it came right down to it, she really didn’t want to go. Not only because it would be hard to leave the handful of people she’d come to care about, but if she left, she would truly be on her own for the first time ever. Even though she’d felt alone most of her life, at least before she’d always had Nacedo. Though he’d never really shown her much warmth and had even shut her out much of the time, it had been comforting to know that he was always nearby, and would keep her safe from harm if he could. This time if she went on the run, she’d have no one to rely on but herself. And the thought of being constantly on the move, forever looking over her shoulder, and never having a moment of comfort or companionship from another human being was depressing and unappealing.
The prospect might not have seemed so bleak if all this had happened months ago, before she’d formed any ties of friendship here. But now that she’d found these three people, the only ones of her kind on this planet, she found it hard to just walk away. In all the years she and Nacedo had spent running, the one thought that had always kept her going was that one day, she would find these three whom her protector had told her so much about, and finally, among them, she would feel as if she belonged somewhere. It had taken months, but she’d finally felt as if she were gaining some small amount of the acceptance she’d always craved, and she so didn’t want to lose that.
And she didn’t want to lose Max either. Though he’d never really been hers to lose. But she’d found it impossible to completely give up the hope that one day he would come to accept his destiny, and she would finally have a love of her own. Someone who would show her the same tenderness and adoration she’d found her pre-destined mate showering upon a human girl when she’d first shown up in this town.
But with this upcoming meeting with him and Liz, Tess found it hard to keep that tiny flame of hope alive. Anticipating what they would say, a part of her just wanted to give it up and pack it in. She was tired of fighting for something that only she seemed to want among the three other aliens, and if she gave up that hope, she really might as well just go. But another part of her found it infuriating that she’d never been able to wrest her former husband away from one short, brunette human girl, and the thought of the two of them telling her they were defying destiny together made her want to just dig in her heels and fight harder.
And to add confusion to the mix, there was Kyle. If she had been a normal girl, with no responsibilities to a warring people, no memories of a love from a lifetime ago, and no knowledge of how things were supposed to be, she thought maybe she could really go for Kyle. There was no denying that he was cute, sweet, and unbelievably fun to be around. But he was human. And she was not. And even had she wished it not to be so, she did have responsibilities to a warring people, memories of a past love, and a knowledge of what was meant to be. And with all that weighing on her shoulders, it felt to her like it had to be Max or no one. After all, how could being with a human possibly be of help to their cause?
So it was with mixed, and warring emotions that Tess headed for Michael’s at 3:30. Kyle had asked to come with her before she’d left. He’d mentioned how out of it she’d seemed today, and she thought he’d probably sensed how conflicted and unsettled she was over this meeting, but she hadn’t wanted him to come. If it went down the way she was afraid it would, the whole scene was bound to be humiliating, and she didn’t want him to see it. At this moment, she honestly wasn’t sure how she was going to react if Max and Liz told her they were going to be together. It was a little hard to make herself believe Max would fly in the face of what was right for their people, but it also felt almost inevitable that he would, and she was trying to prepare herself for it.
Just as she reached Michael’s apartment building, the rain that had been threatening all day began pelting down, with only a few sprinkles to warn of its arrival. Tess parked her SUV at the curb, and made a dash for the apartment building’s door through the sudden deluge, slowing in hesitant dread once she was inside and heading down the hall towards Michael’s.
Inside the apartment, Liz and Max were waiting for her arrival with that same sense of dread. They’d been waiting for almost fifteen minutes, and Liz had spent that time pacing and washing a few dirty dishes she’d found in the kitchen sink. She realized Michael might not exactly thank her for that, but she couldn’t help it. If she didn’t have something to do she’d go crazy.
Max had finally interrupted her frenzy of nervous activity when she swooped down on some scattered magazines near the end of the couch and began stacking them neatly. He figured it was possible that some of Michael’s reading material was suitable for mature audiences only, and he didn’t want Liz to stumble upon any ‘literary’ surprises.
Gently pulling the magazines from her hands, he drew her up from the floor and onto the couch next to him. She perched on the cushion beside him, and Max covered one of her hands with his own where it rested in her lap. Immediately, she flipped it palm-up, twining her fingers tightly with his.
“Relax,” he urged her soothingly. “This is gonna be okay.”
Liz just looked at him somberly for a moment, then slowly lifted his arm by her hold on his hand, and ducked underneath it to tuck herself in against his side. Max curved his arm around her and pulled her close, and they rested that way, taking strength from each other, until a knock at the door startled them slightly apart.
They looked at one another in trepidation, before getting up slowly to answer it together, both feeling that whatever took place within these next moments carried an import of earth-shattering proportions
[ edited 2 time(s), last at 17-Dec-2001 4:39:09 AM ]