posted on 15-Sep-2001 9:45:03 PM by Breathless
Banner art by ChrissyP47

Here's the link to parts 1 to 59, posted on the Boardello of Fanfic board:

Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Season 1 Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17
Disclaimer: I have no affilation to Roswell or anyone associated with it. I'm just borrowing the characters for a little while.

Author note: I've held off posting the next part while they work out all the kinks, but I'll go ahead and post now. I am reposting part 59, the last part I posted before I left (wow, way back in August!) and the new part 60 after that. It probably won't be worth the wait, but I hope you enjoy it.

We left off with Max feeling devastated over letting Dr. Johnson slip through his hands at the hospital.

Captive hearts

Part 59

Max and Carl spent the next hour going over the hospital with a fine tooth comb. Max knew it would be hopeless, but he had to exhaust every possible option they had. Chris and Tully, the other two members of the Unit, had arrived and they were currently going over the security tapes. Carl had given them a copy of the drawing of Johnson, and instructed them to check the tapes for the last two weeks to start with. Maybe the cameras had picked up something they would be able to use.

“I’m going back to the fourth floor,” Max told Carl as they met in the main lobby once more. “I want to check his work area and take a look at his locker. I know it’s probably a long shot, I’m sure you didn’t miss anything when you were there earlier, but I want to take another look anyway.”

“Double checking never hurts anything,” Carl said in agreement. “We still need to talk to some of the employees he worked with. You check the locker and I’ll compile the list of names of people we want to interview.” They turned to the bank of elevators and Carl noticed Max was favoring his right leg. “What’s the matter? What did you do to your leg?”

“I just tripped earlier,” Max said trying to ignore the pain. His knee was throbbing viciously and he was sure he had tweaked it pretty bad. His hip wasn’t as bad, but he knew an ugly bruise was forming. He’d have to heal it before he went home, so Liz wouldn’t see or suspect anything unusual, but he hadn’t taken the time to do it yet. Maybe later, when nobody was around. “I banged my knee, that’s all. It will be better once I walk it out.”

Carl nodded but suspected it was more than a little banged knee. He could see the pain on Max’s face every time he put his weight on his right leg and he thought his knee looked visibly swollen through his jeans. “Maybe you should have it checked. The emergency room is just down the hall,” Carl suggested.

“It’ll be fine. Just let it be.” Max turned to Carl and regretted the harsh way that had come out. Max couldn’t go to the emergency room to be treated for anything, but Carl didn’t know that. It’d been a close call earlier when he’d healed his broken hand with Carl there in the same room with him. How much had he really seen? “Really, don’t worry about it. It’ll be fine in a little while.”

They came to a stop in front of the elevators and Max pressed the button for the fourth floor. Carl glanced at his hand again, the hand he was certain Max had broken when he hit the wall in a rage. He’d heard the bones crunching and hadn’t he seen the torn skin across his knuckles? Looking at his hand now, the skin was smooth, without a single blemish and definitely no bruising. He could have sworn he saw a nasty bruise forming. It must have just been the way the light hit his hand. Still . . .

The doors slid open and they stepped inside and silently made their way to the fourth floor. Carl showed his badge once again at the nurse’s station and they were escorted to the Physician’s locker room. Carl took his notebook out of the breast pocket of his charcoal gray suit jacket and made some notations while Max walked closer to the locker that had the name Robertson boldly written on the name plate.

He stared at the hateful name and then he reached out and touched it with his fingertips. His body shuddered as Johnson’s image assailed his mind. The vision showed the doctor applying the nameplate on his first day of work, over two years ago. It flashed over him quickly and then was gone. Max shook his head to clear his mind and then let his hand fall to the latch. He lifted it and opened the locker even as another image assaulted his mind. He swayed slightly on his feet and had to put his hand out to steady himself.

Scenes unfurled before his eyes and Max sucked in his breath when he saw Ellie’s face. Johnson had used this locker for over two years, and images of his life, residue of his thoughts and his feelings had been imprinted here. Max saw Ellie, tiny and wrapped in a blanket with Johnson gently rocking her back and forth as she slept. That image was followed by another of Ellie taking her first toddling steps, holding tightly to Johnson’s outstretched hand. Another followed that one, more images of the life Johnson had shared with Ellie. Moments from her life that Max should have had.

Carl heard a groan come from across the room and he looked up from his notepad to see Max standing in front of the locker. His eyes were closed and his body jerked from some unknown stimulus. Was Max having a fit? Was he epileptic? Should he call for a doctor?

More images flashed across his brain, and with it the emotions that accompanied them. Ellie as a baby, splashing water as she happily took her bath. Ellie sitting at a table with an oversized crayon and a coloring book, trying to stay inside the lines. Ellie sticking her little fingers through the bars of a cage so she could pet a guinea pig. Ellie playing with a toy, a flying horse with wings. Ellie sleeping peacefully with a smile on her beautiful face.

Carl crossed the room and laid his hand on Max’s trembling shoulder and apprehensively asked, “Max? Are you alright?”

Max snapped out of his vision and focused on Carl, blurting out, “He calls her Jenny.”

“What?” Carl asked in confusion. What the hell was he talking about?

“Johnson calls her Jenny.” Max was still assessing all the sensations he’d received from his vision. Johnson was treating Ellie like his daughter. She slept in a normal bed and she ate her meals in a normal kitchen sitting at a normal table. In the midst of all the turmoil of the day, he found it a relief to know that Johnson didn’t have her locked up in a cage somewhere.

“Ellie?” Carl questioned. Johnson calls Ellie by the name of Jenny? How the hell would Max know that?

Max stared at Carl, suddenly realizing he’d said more than he should have. He’d blurted it out before he’d had time to think about what he was saying. His mouth moved but no words came out. He didn’t know what to say next.

“How do you know Johnson calls Ellie Jenny?” Carl asked frowning. He looked at the uncomfortable look on Max’s face and things started falling into place. The sketches that Max drew being so incredibly accurate. Making those sketches from the descriptions of such young children, who couldn’t possible describe or remember things in such detail. The drawings of Ellie that showed her as she looked today, even though he hadn’t seen her since the night she was born. Carl stared at him with a growing understand and he said, “Max, are you . . . are you clairvoyant?”

Max stared back at him and felt a sense of relief ease some of his tension. Letting Carl think he was clairvoyant or psychic was a whole lot more acceptable than telling him he was an alien. “Something like that,” Max said in answer to his question. He watched Carl’s face closely to gauge his reaction.

Carl blinked as he absorbed it and he said softly, “Holy shit.”

* * * * *

Max entered the house and closed the door quietly behind him hoping that he wouldn’t disturb Liz if she had already gone to bed. It was late and when he’d called her earlier he had told her not to wait up for him.

After exhausting all their options at the hospital, Max had given Daniel a call and filled him in on what had happened. Daniel had been hesitant when Max informed him of his plans to include Carl in the active search for Ellie, but after hearing the strain and the anguish in his voice, Daniel had relented and agreed to bring Carl up to date on how their investigation had gone up to this point, excluding the alien aspects that had gone into the search. They’d spent the entire evening with Daniel and Josh, going over their options and trying to figure out what to do next.

He dropped his jacket across the back of the couch and then he leaned against it, exhaustion hitting him as the events of the day caught up with him. He pinched the bridge of his nose between his finger and his thumb and closed his eyes, but he couldn’t shut out what had happened. He’d been so close . . .

Liz had left a light on in the living room and as he passed by, his hand reached out to turn it off. His fingers froze over the light switch and he looked up at the picture of Ellie over the mantle. He’d failed her again today. How was it possible that he could have been so close to finding her, with Johnson right under his nose all this time, and let her slip through his hands again? The pain in his heart intensified as he looked at her and the image blurred. He heard Liz call out to him from the bedroom and he blinked rapidly, trying to clear his vision.

“Max?” She’d heard him come in a few minutes ago and wondered what he was doing. He was so quiet. She started to pull the covers aside when his silhouette suddenly appeared in the doorway. She could tell something was wrong just by the way he was standing. “What is it?”

“It’s nothing,” Max lied. He couldn’t tell her. It would crush her to know how close he had been to ending their nightmare, only to have it all fall apart.

“Something’s wrong. I can tell.” She started to reach for the lamp so that she could see his face when he crossed the room and sat on the edge of the bed next to her. The dim light from the hallway illuminated her worried face and he brushed his fingers along her brow.

“It’s just the new case we got today,” Max lied again. “I’m sorry it took me so long to get home. There were just . . . well, a lot of details to go over.” His fingers brushed through her hair and then dropped to her shoulder before gently moving down her arm to her hand. The feel of her warm skin gave him some comfort, but not enough on this night.

“Come to bed, Max,” Liz said softly. “You sound so tired.”

“I will.” He gave her a halfhearted smile, but it was all he could muster. “I’m going to take a shower first. Go back to sleep. I’ll try not to disturb you when I come to bed.”

She watched him cross over to the bathroom and she frowned at the way he moved, the way his shoulders drooped and his feet were dragging. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

He stopped in the doorway and turned back to look at her. “Yeah,” he answered softly. “Now that I’m home. With you.”

Liz watched him close the bathroom door and she laid her head back onto the pillow. It’d been a long time since she had seen him this way. Not since the early days. After coming home . . . without Ellie.

Max pulled his shirt off and dropped it on the floor. He stripped off his shoes and his socks and draped his pants over the hamper. He caught his reflection in the mirror above the sink and he had to look away, unable to look at himself. He slipped into the shower and he turned the water on full force, letting the hot water pound against his skin. He picked up the soap and scrubbed his face, trying to scrub away the memories of today, but it didn’t work. He’d been so close to catching Johnson, to finding Ellie, to bringing her home to Liz.

It was all he wanted, to have Ellie home and Liz and Matthew healthy and all of them safe. Ellie’s face swam before him with her big innocent eyes looking at him the way she always did, like she trusted him and believed in him. He wasn’t worthy of the faith she had in him. He wasn’t worthy of the love she felt for him.

The water drilled into his face and then he leaned forward resting his hands against the wall below the showerhead and he let the water hit his shoulders and cascade down his back. His head dropped between his arms and he watched the water swirling around the drain but he couldn’t escape his thoughts. His vision blurred and his shoulders began to shake as his false façade began to crumble. He had tried to remain in tight control of his emotions all day, to not let the outside world see what he was really feeling, but he couldn’t contain it any longer.

“Ellie,” he whispered and a sob tore from his throat. “Oh God, Ellie . . .” He leaned back against the shower wall and covered his face with his hands, trying to choke back the sobs so Liz wouldn’t hear him. All the stress and the strain of the day closed in around him and he slid down the wall until he was huddled on the floor of the shower stall, a shaken and broken man, rocking back and forth with the water pounding into him and blending with the tears on his face. He covered his face with his hands and in anguish he whispered, “I’m so sorry, Ellie. God, I’m so sorry . . .”

* * * * *

Liz woke with an uneasy feeling and it didn’t take long to realize why. Max wasn’t in bed next to her. He’d taken a long time in the shower earlier, longer than she had ever known him to before, and when he had finally come to bed, he had been so closed off. He had cuddled close to her, the way he always did, but tonight there was something different about it. She could feel the invisible wall that he had built around himself, shutting himself off from her for some reason. She’d let it go, knowing that when he was ready, he would talk.

She’d fallen asleep with his warm arms around her, but now in his absence she was cold. She drew the covers aside and slipped quietly out of bed. She slipped her silk robe over her nightgown and silently made her way out of the bedroom and down the hall. She was surprised when she peered into the living room and it was dark and she wondered where Max had gone, until she her eyes adjusted and she realized he was there.

He was just sitting there. In the dark. Alone.

“Max?” she said softly and she could see his head lift up, looking in her direction. She turned on the lamp next to her and his eyes squinted and blinked as the room filled with sudden light. He must have been sitting here in the dark for a while. He was on the couch, leaning forward with his hands clasped between his knees and his elbows on his thighs. He was wearing jeans, which surprised her greatly, while his chest and his feet were bare. It was the middle of the night. Why had he started to get dressed? She walked slowly across the room and came to a stop in front of him. She lifted her hand and brushed his hair out of his eyes and said, “Tell me what’s bothering you.”

His hand covered hers and brought it to his lips, kissing her lightly before pulling her between his legs and looking up into her dark eyes. “Do you know how much I love you?” Max asked and squeezed her hand. His eyes dropped from her face until he was looking straight ahead, right at her belly. His hand caressed her swollen body and he could feel his son moving beneath her skin, stretching out to touch him back. “And Matthew? Do you know how much I love you both?”

Liz sat down on his thigh and cupped his cheek with her hand. He seemed so lost, so sad and upset and she didn’t know what she could do to ease his troubled mind. His hand lovingly roamed over her belly and she could feel Matthew moving inside her as he followed his father’s movements.

“I’d just die if anything ever happened to you, or Matthew, or . . .” or Ellie, Max finished silently.

“Max, nothing is going to happen to us,” Liz said trying to reassure him. “I’m fine. Matthew is fine. Matthew is going to be fine. And as for Ellie, we have to keep believing that someday she’ll be with us again.”

Max closed his eyes when Liz mentioned her name and he nodded his head to show his agreement, but he couldn’t trust himself to speak. They fell quiet and Liz stroked her fingers lovingly through his hair trying to show him her support through whatever it was he was going through.

“You missed Ellie tonight,” she said to break the silence. She felt him stiffen suddenly and for a moment his eyes took on a haunted look. “Max?” she said worriedly.

“I couldn’t sleep,” he said quickly to cover his reaction. Truth be told, he hadn’t been able to face Ellie. His mind wouldn’t let him escape into the world of dreams knowing how he had let her down. By all rights, Ellie should be home with them right now, tonight, safe in their arms. But she wasn’t, and it was his fault.

Liz kissed him gently on the forehead and then leaned her cheek against him. “Let it go for tonight, Max,” she said softly. “Whatever it is, let it go. Come to bed and get some rest. Maybe things will look better in the morning.” Their eyes met and Liz stood, pulling Max to his feet. She held his hand as they walked back to the bedroom and he found great comfort just being near her.

He slipped out of his jeans and let them fall to the floor, not having the energy to put them where they belonged. He climbed between the sheets and Liz joined him. She lay on her back and pulled him into her arms, holding him close to her to let her love envelop him. He clung to her with his head resting on her chest and she stroked her fingers soothingly along his cheek and through his hair. His body curled against hers and his hand cupped her belly, feeling connected to both her and Matthew. After a time, she felt his body begin to relax and just before he finally fell asleep, she felt first one tear and then another fall from the corner of his eye and pool in the valley between her breasts.

* * * * *

His eyelids darted back and forth under his lids with his breathing coming in short staccato bursts. His mumbling words drifted hollowly from his mouth along with an occasional whimper to mark his distress. His head turned from one side to the other, mirroring the actions in his dream. His arm lifted and then fell back to the bed and his legs shifted beneath the sheet, while in his dream he ran and ran and ran . . .

He burst through another door and came to a sudden stop as his eyes absorbed the sight before him. She lay on the table with her dark hair fanning out around her head. Her skin was pale, too pale, and her arm had fallen over the side of the table. It dangled downward with her fingers pointing to the floor. Fingers that were frozen in time, never to move again. The green surgical drapes around her were turning dark with a crimson stain and the coppery smell of blood hung in the air. It was a cloying, gagging smell that caused the bile to rise in his throat.

A sound penetrated his ears, an insistent, repetitive sound, and his eyes were drawn back to her hand. A drop fell from her fingertip and made its slow journey to the floor, followed by another and another, each drop adding to the dark red pool on the floor. A pool of blood. His horrified eyes stared at the face he loved. Her dark chocolate eyes, her tender lips, her cheeks so pale in death. Not Liz, but so much like her. So young. So sweet. So innocent. Oh God. Not her. Please God . . .

“NOOOOOOOO . . .” Max screamed as he bolted out of his dream. He sat up quickly, shaking like a leaf being buffeted in a storm. The horror of the dream threatened to suffocate him and he felt the panic engulfing him until her hand touched his arm. Warm. Tender. Alive. His lifeline to reality. He turned to her and even in the dark he could see her clearly. “Liz . . .”

“Max,” she spoke softly. “What is it?”

He stared at her seeing the concern in her eyes and he tried to will his heart rate to slow and his breathing to stop coming in gasps. He opened his mouth and he tried to keep the quiver out of his voice when he said, “A dream. Just a bad dream.”

And it was just a dream. Nothing more. He knew his fears were invading his sleeping mind and causing a nightmare of what terrified him the most. Was he destined to always be too late?

Her arms wrapped around him and he let his head drop onto her shoulder. She could feel his trembling and when his arms went around her he clung to her desperately. The dream fragmented and dissipated and his fear took a step back. It wasn’t real, he reminded himself. It wasn’t real. It wasn’t happening to Ellie.

She spoke soothingly to him and she could feel him starting to relax. She pulled him back down to the bed and held him closely until he drifted into sleep again.

* * * * *

He inhaled deeply with his nose buried in the silky texture of her hair. His body spooned against hers and the gentle rise and fall of her chest indicated she was still asleep. His hand glided over the warm flesh of her arm, reminding him of just how alive she really was. He touched her hand and then let his fingers intertwine with hers for a moment before he lifted his hand to her breast. The silky material of her nightgown felt soft to him. It felt right. She felt right. He felt her nipple turn from soft to rigid and she stirred slightly in her sleep.

His hand dropped from her breast to the swell of her burgeoning belly. Her nightgown was pulled taut over her expanding middle and his hand could feel the life thriving inside. His son was alive, and whole, and safe. Through the link, Max could feel him sleeping peacefully. He floated in his mother’s womb, secure within her nurturing body.

His hand dropped to her thigh and he lifted the edge of her nightgown. He pulled it up her body, exposing her belly, and he cupped the warm skin that covered Matthew. The contact was soothing and he closed his eyes seeking relief from his tortured psyche, but it wasn’t enough. Thinking of the danger that Matthew faced just because of his heritage only caused his agitation to increase.

His hand rose higher and he cupped the breast he had been fondling a few minutes before. Her body was responsive to his touch and he felt his manhood stir. His heightened senses could smell the scent of the shampoo in her hair and the lotion she used on her skin to keep it soft and supple. He pressed harder against her back and his forehead rested on her shoulder, wishing she were awake.

His desire to be close to her intensified and he wanted to feel his skin against her skin. He pulled his hand away from her breast and tugged his shorts free, then pressed up against her sleeping form again. His arm wrapped around her hips and he pulled her tighter against his aroused body. His mind sought the relief that she could give him and with a longing he couldn’t hold in he murmured, “Liz . . .”

He knew she was asleep and the unfulfilled craving in his body went unanswered. He willed himself to relax, but the tension remained so high his body was trembling. He suddenly felt her hand close over his and she lifted it to her lips.

“Liz,” he whispered mournfully in her ear. “I need you.”

She could feel a sense of desperation about him, an aura she’d never felt in him before. As aroused as his body felt against hers, it wasn’t sexual satisfaction that he sought. His need went far deeper than that, driven by some inner turmoil that she didn’t understand. He wouldn’t share it with her. All she could do for him was provide him whatever comfort he was seeking, and hope it could ease his troubled mind.

In the darkness of the pre dawn night, Max felt her surrender her body to him. She moved his hand back to her breast and he responded instantly, moving his thigh between her legs and lifting one. He came at her from behind with none of his usual tenderness or loving touches. His body was trembling as he drove his manhood into her. There was no seduction in his movements, no caresses in his touch. He was seeking escape inside her, running from whatever demons were tormenting him.

His head lay against the back of her shoulder while he moved inside her with a sense of near desperation. His pace was quick and she could sense he had drowned out everything except the release he was seeking. His arm was around her hips, holding her tightly to him, controlling her body while exerting his dominance. His sex filled her and his movements were almost frantic in a way he had never been before. His chest pressed hard against her back and she could feel how tense the muscles in his stomach were. She could feel the hot puffs of his breath on her skin and his teeth grazed her shoulder, not quite biting her but close, as his teeth pressed against her soft skin.

A loud groan tore from deep in his throat and his body shuddered violently. His hips jerked against her, like he wanted to climb inside her, and he clutched her tighter to him than even before. She could feel his body trembling still and she knew whatever relief he had been seeking had not been found. His hand rose from her hip and crossed over her chest, holding her like he was afraid of losing her.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered against her ear and she could hear the desolation in his tone. His lips touched her skin where his teeth had been pressed a minute before and she could feel his regret. He pulled out of her, ashamed that he had taken her that way and he whispered against the nape of her neck, “I’m sorry Liz.”

In all their time together, Max had always been a thoughtful and gentle lover, always thinking of Liz, always trying to please her and satisfy her needs as well as his own. Even in their wildest, most heated encounters, his love for her had shown through in the way he made love to her. The act he had just performed had been thoughtless and selfish. He had sought escape from his tortured thoughts in the comfort of her body, and the result had been even more guilt for using her that way.

He pulled away from her and turned onto his back, staring up at the ceiling but seeing nothing in the dark. His skin was warm but he felt cold inside. Cold and alone. He couldn’t share his pain with Liz. He didn’t want her to know how close he’d been to finding Ellie today, only to lose her all over again.

He felt the mattress shift and then her hand touched his chest, softly gliding over his smooth skin. She moved closer to him and her body pressed against his side. He felt her lips kiss his shoulder and then her head settled on his chest and she said softly, “I love you, Max. I love you so much.”

Max closed his eyes, a part of him feeling unworthy of her love and another part knowing she was all that kept him sane. His right arm went around her shoulders and his left hand threaded through her hair, holding her close to him and feeling his despair start to lessen. Her hand rose up his chest, caressing his throat and his chin and rising up to stroke his cheek. She lifted her head from his chest and as she moved he could feel the hard tips of her breasts rub against him, separated only by the silky material of her nightgown. In the dim light her face rose above him and then her lips were gently touching his.

“Do you have any idea how you make me feel, when you look at me?” she said as she lifted her lips from his and looked down into his face. “I love the way your eyes look into mine. I love the sound of your voice and how you say my name. I love the way you hum in the shower and mumble in your sleep. I love the way you smell and how your scent lingers in the room even after you’re gone. I love the way your skin tastes and your lips and how you make my heart sing when we kiss. I love that you filled Matthew’s room with stuffed animals, and you filled our walls with your pictures of Ellie. I love the way you bring me flowers for no particular reason and the way you call me in the middle of the day just to say you’re thinking about me. I love to listen to the sound of your breathing late at night when you’re sound asleep and I love the way you look at me in the morning when I open my eyes. I love everything about you, Max,” she said as she brushed away a tear that had spilled from the corner of his eye as she spoke. “You mean everything to me.”

The despair he had felt earlier was pushed to the back recesses of his mind as he listened to her words and he found the comfort he had been seeking. The things she said and the way she said them filled the hollowness he had been feeling inside. Her love and her strength were what sustained him and made him a better man. His heart swelled with the love he felt for her and the tears that fell from his eyes were joyous ones because of the love she had for him.

Their lips found each other’s in the dark and Max found the balance that he’d lost. Liz touched and soothed him and connected to him in a way that he had prevented before. She made love to him with an intimacy that brought him back from that dark place he had been, that brought him back to the world of the living. Afterward, tangled in each other’s arms, Max was able to sleep peacefully through the rest of the night.

Edited by - Breathless on 09/16/2001 21:50:43

Edited by - Breathless on 09/24/2001 01:24:21

[ edited 63time(s), last at 21-Oct-2002 1:19:54 AM ]
posted on 15-Sep-2001 9:46:55 PM by Breathless
Captive Hearts

Part 60

Max looked down at the tray, double checking to make sure he had everything. Scrambled eggs with a sprinkling of cheddar cheese on top, just the way she liked them. Plenty of fresh fruit, cantaloupe and honeydew melon, pineapple and strawberries and a little bowl of diced pears in heavy syrup. He included a few strips of bacon because it smelled so good, and of course toast with a liberal dose of strawberry jam. He set a glass of milk on the tray, grabbed a couple napkins and then picked it up, heading out of the kitchen and down the hall.

He paused in the bedroom doorway and watched her for a minute as she slept with her cheek resting on her hand. What she had said last night, when she told him how much she loved him, had brought him back from the brink. As long as he had her love, he could survive anything.

He moved into the room and set the tray on the nightstand, and then sat on the edge of the bed next to her. His fingers brushed her hair back from her face and he smiled as she opened her eyes and he gently said, “Goodmorning sleepyhead.”

“Goodmorning,” she greeted him back and stretched. Her hand reached out and rubbed along his thigh and she asked, “Are you feeling better this morning?”

“Yeah,” he answered and he leaned down to kiss her gently. Her lips were soft and warm and when he parted from her he rested his forehead against hers. “I brought you breakfast.”

“Well aren’t you just the perfect husband,” she said grinning widely. She sat up and he brought the tray over to her, careful not to spill anything. Her hand covered his and she said softly, “ You’re so good to me Max.”

“That’s because I love you so much,” he said nuzzling against her ear.

Her fingers laced through his hair and she said gently, “I’m the luckiest girl in the world.”

“Eat your breakfast,” he smiled charmingly. He loved her more than life itself, and when she said things like that, it reminded him that he was the lucky one. His hand caressed her expanding belly and he said, “You’re eating for two.”

“There’s enough on this plate for an army. Are you going to help me eat it?”

“No,” he answered and he snatched up a strip of bacon. “I have to go in early today. Carl’s waiting for me.”

“Is it the new case you’re working on?” Liz asked and gave his hand a squeeze.

He stared at her in wonder, overcome by the compassion on her face. She had no idea that the case they were working on was Ellie’s. How would she react if she knew? Would she become so upset that it might harm her, or the baby? He couldn’t take that risk. He had to protect her, and Matthew. He nodded his head and said, “Yeah, we’re working on the new case.”

“You should eat before you go.”

“I’ve got half a box of donuts left over from yesterday,” Max said with a smile. “I won’t starve.”

“You and your donuts!” Liz laughed. “I don’t know how in the world you stay so slim. It’s just not fair!”

“What can I say?” Max said with a glint in his eyes. “It’s that alien metabolism of mine. It’s a good thing, because I can’t resist donuts. Just like I can’t resist you.” He leaned in and gave her a lingering kiss and then reluctantly said, “I’ve got to go.”

He rose from the bed and Liz looked at him worriedly. He looked so attractive in his dark green shirt and matching tie and his black slacks fit him perfectly, but there was something unsettling about him. Hidden in the depths of his eyes she could still see the sadness of whatever it was that had tortured him so last night. As he turned to leave she reached out and grabbed his hand and asked, “Are you really okay, Max?”

His hand tightened around hers and his face momentarily revealed the anguish he had gone through yesterday before he was able to hide it. “Don’t worry about me. I’m fine. Now eat your breakfast before it gets cold.” His hand caressed her belly again and then his eyes got wide as his son performed a somersault. He smiled brightly and said, “See? Matthew’s hungry too!”

Max snatched another strip of bacon off her plate and backed toward the door, pausing at the threshold to take in the sight of her one more time and he silently vowed to reunite her with Ellie. If it took his last breath to do it, he would someday bring Ellie home to her.

* * * * *

Max entered the Unit and he saw that Carl had already arrived. He’d been busy and Max’s step faltered when he saw the new picture on the board. Ellie’s face stared back at him from the center of the bulletin board, with Johnson’s picture underneath. Below her picture, in bold letters was information he knew by heart, but it was still a shock to see it displayed in such a way.

Ellie Elizabeth Evans
Date of birth: October 17, 2000
Date of disappearance: October 17, 2000
Last known location: Vicinity of Roswell, New Mexico

Max stood frozen in place, staring at the drawing of Ellie that he had given Carl yesterday. It was a recent sketch, one that he had done over the weekend and hadn’t even shown Liz yet. Ellie’s eyes were shinning in merriment and her dark hair framed her smiling face.

“Good, I’m glad you’re here,” Carl said as he stood at his desk, shuffling through a stack of paperwork. When he heard no response he looked up to see Max standing mesmerized in front of the board. He thought back to that day back in January, when he’d walked into this office and seen Max for the first time. He had been standing in front of the board that day too, looking just like this, and now Carl understood why. It was heart wrenching to see him like this.

Chris and Tully entered the room in their usual boisterous manner, with the taller man giving the shorter one a playful jab on the arm. Tully, all 6’4” of him, was giving Chris a hard time about his extracurricular activities. Tully, short for Tomas Tollefson and a descendant of solid Swedish stock, was married with four kids ranging from two to twelve. He was also the epitome of a family man, complete with a minivan in his driveway and a dog in the back yard.

Chris Palmer, on the other hand, was foot loose and fancy free. At twenty five, he was ten years Tully’s junior, and the biggest flirt in the precinct. The two were about as opposite as you could get. Tully’s closely cropped light brown hair was receding now and his hazel eyes reflected the experience of his years. Chris, on the other hand, had a mane of blonde hair and a set of shocking blue eyes. He said they were his babe magnets. Tully was tall and lanky, Chris was 5’ 10” with a muscular build. Tully liked to go home after work and put his feet up, and spend weekends working in the yard or going on family outings. Chris spent his non-working hours either in the gym working on his ‘God’s gift to women’ body, or he was out picking up women to prove that very thing. They both thought they had the perfect life. They also made ideal partners, complimenting each others style perfectly.

“You should think about taking a girl, oh, I don’t know, maybe on a second date before you nail her. Just a thought,” Tully said shaking his head.

“Why? A second date leads to a third and then a fourth, and the next thing you know, she’s talking about wedding dates and houses in the suburbs,” Chris said with a smirk. His arm went around Max’s shoulder in a brotherly fashion and he said, “Who needs that, right Max?”

Max looked at him with raised eyebrows and then lifted his hand, flashing his wedding band in Chris’ face. “You’re looking for support in the wrong corner, Chris,” Max said lightheartedly, glad for the distraction. Looking at Ellie on the board had been a shock to him, and threatened to send him back to that dark place he’d been yesterday.

“Tell me one good reason why I should give up playing the field in favor of a life tied to one woman,” Chris demanded.

“Well,” Tully said as he thought it over. “You have a woman in you bed every night.”

“Same here,” Chris smiled, “except mine is a different woman every night.”

“Okay,” Tully said thinking it over. “You don’t have to worry about sucking in your gut when you step out of the shower.”

Chris patted himself on his rock hard abs. “Don’t have that problem.”

Max smiled at the exchange between the two. They were always like this, extolling the virtues of married vs. single life. He wondered what words of wisdom Tully would have to say next. He didn’t have long to wait.

“Lets see . . .” Tully said rubbing his hand across his chin. “You can fart ‘til your hearts content.” To emphasize his point he let one rip. Max had a hard time containing his laughter and Chris, unfortunate enough to be standing close to Tully, waved his hand back and forth in front of his nose.

“Jesus, Tully! What the hell does your wife feed you?” He turned to Max and said, “Can you believe that the best reason he can come up with for justifying marriage is that ‘he can fart until his heart’s content’?”

“Well, he’s got a point,” Max said, siding with Tully on that one.

“Jesus Christ, you’re all whipped,” Chris said shaking his head.

“Someday you’ll find the right girl,” Tully admonished Chris. “And then you’ll be just as whipped as the rest of us.”

“Hey, don’t include me in that generalization,” Carl interjected. “I’m not whipped.”

“Carl,” Chris said rolling his eyes. “You’re just one date away from the pussy whipped Hall of Fame. Your only problem is letting yourself go on that one date.”

“Okay people, we’ve got work to do,” Carl said deciding to change the subject. Tully took a seat at his desk, and Chris perched on the edge of it with his arms crossed over his chest. Max stood off to the side and his eyes were once more drawn to the image of Ellie on the board.

“Chris, have you found anything on the tapes so far?” Carl asked in reference to the security tapes he and Tully had been assigned to review.

“Well, we found out Johnson left the hospital through the basement exit, down by the morgue. It’s possible that his car was parked in the lower employee parking lot, but the camera that overlooks that lot was on the fritz and wasn’t working.” He stood up and took a tape out of an envelope on Tully’s desk. He took it over to the TV/VCR unit in the corner of the room and inserted the tape and a moment later a hospital corridor showed up on the screen. Chris pressed fast forward and consulted his notes before stopping at the right time index. Max stood up straighter and felt a shiver go up his spine as the familiar face of Robert Johnson appeared on the screen. He hadn’t changed much. A little less hair, maybe, and he might have added on a few pounds. Other than that, he still looked like the man who had taken his daughter, that night in October, two and a half years ago. He couldn’t tear his eyes off the screen.

“The image is pretty grainy,” Chris continued, “so it’s hard to see his facial expressions. I really can’t tell if he seems agitated, like he knows you were on to him, or if he’s just going about his merry way. If he knows, he could be headed underground. If he doesn’t know we’re aware of him, it makes our chances of tracking him down better.”

“We should probably circulate Ellie’s picture around to all the medical facilities and doctor’s offices in the Phoenix area,” Tully suggested, “in case he takes her in for routine shots or other typical childhood ailments.”

“No, that won’t make any difference,” Max said as he continued to stared at Johnson’s image on the screen. Ellie’s alien metabolism would keep her from getting sick, but of course they didn’t know that. “Johnson will just treat her himself. He’s kept her under wraps since she was born. He won’t risk exposing her.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right,” Chris agreed.

“We’d be better off circulating Johnson’s picture,” Max continued. “He quit Maryvale, but he may be looking for employment in another hospital or doctor’s office or clinic. Hell, he might even have gone into research at a lab somewhere.” His own private lab, Max wondered? Or was he leaving the area, and taking Ellie with him?

“Is that just conjecture on your part?” Carl asked and Max felt his eyes drilling into his. They hadn’t had a chance to really talk about Max’s ‘clairvoyance’ yet, and he wasn’t looking forward to it. Max felt much more comfortable thinking no one was dissecting his every move.

“Absolutely,” Max hastened. “We don’t really know what his plans are now.”

“Well, at this moment, there’s more that we don’t know than we do. Johnson has left employment with Maryvale and we don’t know where he is working now. He might have other employment in the area, but we don’t know that for sure. We are reasonably assured that Ellie is with him, but once again, we have no proof. We have one lead to go on at the moment. A post office box. The address on his employment records was bogus, as was the info at the DMV. He used a sophisticated means of covering his true identity, one that he must have paid handsomely to acquire. That in itself may give us options. They’re are very few places he can go to get counterfeit ID that is that good. Max and I will be keying on the post office lead this morning. Chris, Tully, you two head back to Maryvale. There are several employees who worked with Johnson that still need to be interviewed. Let’s get cracking. Time’s a wasting.”

* * * * *

Max opened the front door and stepped into the house trying to be as quiet as possible. The house was silent and the lights were dim and he guessed that Liz had taken his advice and not waited up for him. The search for Ellie had kept him out late again, but they were still no closer to finding her. Chris and Tully had come up with no new leads at the hospital, and the surveillance at the post office had drawn a blank. He tried to keep his thoughts positive, but sometimes it was so hard to do.

He walked around the house, checking the doors and the windows, making sure everything was secure. As he passed through the kitchen he saw dishes in the sink, remnants of a meal for one, and he felt a pang of guilt for not being here with her two nights in a row. He’d tried to get her to invite Annie over, to keep her company while he worked late. For his own peace of mind he didn’t wanted Liz to be alone, but she had insisted that she was fine and didn’t need a babysitter. He knew she didn’t understand his sudden fear for her safety.

But she didn’t know about Johnson’s reappearance, and Max had felt his paranoia kicking in. What if Johnson knew they were living in Phoenix? What if he and his cronies were to find out Liz was pregnant? Would they come for her? Would they try to take Matthew, ripping him from her body the way they had Ellie? Just the thought of it made him shudder.

He left the kitchen and walked down the hall, noticing the bedroom light was still on. Maybe she wasn’t asleep after all. “Liz?” he said breaking the silence in the house. “Liz? Are you awake?” He stepped over the threshold into the bedroom and his eyes fell upon the bed. Where he expected to see her sleeping form instead he saw only the smooth, undisturbed bedspread.

“Liz?” he said louder and walked over to the bathroom, feeling a sense of dread fall over him. One look told him she wasn’t there either. “LIZ!” he shouted, turning back into the bedroom. He wrenched the closet door open, knowing she wasn’t in their small walk-in closet but checking there anyway. He slammed the door closed and raced back toward the living room in a panic. “LIZ!” he shouted out again.

Jesus, his mind screamed at him. Liz was gone. They’d taken her. They’d found out where he lived and had come for her and he hadn’t been here to protect her. Oh dear God . . .

“LIZ,” he cried out again and his heart was hammering in his chest. His hands covered his mouth holding back an anguished scream while his eyes swept the room, looking for some indication of a struggle. Everything seemed in order. Nothing looked disturbed. What should he do? Should he call Daniel and get his people over here? Should he call Carl and report her abduction? If he involved the police, they’d probably come in and dust for fingerprints and probably even collect DNA samples. Even a follicle of his hair would be enough to expose him as an alien. But did it matter? Liz’s life was at stake.

He raked his trembling hands through his hair and looked around wildly for the phone. Where the fuck was it, his mind screamed. His panic was intensifying as he searched for the portable phone. The charging base on the end table next to the couch was empty, and the phone was no where in sight. Why was the God damn thing always missing when he needed it the most? His fear was tangible as he tore the cushions off the furniture. He knelt in front of the couch and his hands searched the crevices while his mind screamed, ‘phone, phone, where was the God damn phone’?

Finding nothing, he rose to his feet with his heart hammering in his chest and his hands shaking. Kitchen, he thought. There’s a phone in the kitchen. A noise came from behind him and he whirled around, ready to fight whatever intruder was still in his home. “Oh God,” he breathed out and felt his legs turning to rubber.

“Max?” Liz said sleepily. Her eyes were squinting in the light and she was standing outside the doorway of Matthew’s bedroom. One hand was holding the portable phone and her other hand covered her mouth while she tried to suppress a yawn. She stepped closer to the living room and took in Max’s wild appearance and the cushions strewn all over the floor and she said, “What’s the matter?”

Max ran down the hall on legs that were trembling in relief, and he swept her into his arms, holding her tightly and whispering, “Thank God. Thank God you’re alright.” He crushed her to him and his hand fisted in her hair as he tried unsuccessfully to will his racing heart to slow down.

“Max, what’s wrong? You’re scaring me.” His body was trembling and he was holding her so tightly she could hardly breathe.

“I’m sorry,” Max said, easing back on his grip. “I’m sorry.” He stroked his fingers through her hair to soothe his own nerves and then trying to control the tremor in his voice he said, “I couldn’t find you, and . . . and I thought something had happened to you.” He pulled her close again and his lips pressed against her forehead.

“I fell asleep in the rocking chair in Matthew’s room,” she explained trying to calm him down. “He was talking to me, and I wanted to show him the mobile I bought today to put above his crib.” Her hand rested on his chest and she frowned at how fast his heart was racing.

He pulled his fingers out of her hair and caressed her cheek and then her throat and her shoulder, wanting to touch her to reassure himself that she was here, and she was fine, and nothing bad had happened to her. He let his hand dropped to the expanse of her belly and his eyes followed the movement as he lovingly touched her and the precious life inside her. Matthew moved beneath his hand and Max could feel his son’s agitation. Through the link, Matthew could sense his father’s stress and his mother’s confusion.

“Everything’s okay now,” Max said, forcing himself to calm down. “Everything’s fine.” He kissed her on the forehead again and then turned Liz away from the living room and the evidence of his recent panic. Her hand slid around his waist and they walked arm in arm to their bedroom. She sat on the edge of the bed and watched him as he hastily prepared for bed and she noticed how he kept turning to look at her, as if he was reassuring himself that she was still there. He didn’t even bother with his normal shower, instead he just stripped off his pants and his shirt and left them in a heap on the floor.

Liz snuggled close to Max as they settled into bed together and his arms held her protectively. Sleep came slowly for him as he contemplated sending her home, to Roswell, for her own safety. She’d have people there who could watch over her, take care of her, make sure no harm came to her. Something he couldn’t do. He felt his heart breaking at the thought of her being gone, but it was the only thing he could think of to keep the past from repeating itself. He looked at her, sleeping peacefully beside him, and his eyes filled with unshed tears. He was missing her already.

TBC . . .

Edited to say Part 61 should be ready to post next Sunday.

Those of you that are reading Dying Embers, Part 19 should be ready Tuesday night and if everything goes right, Part 20, the final chapter, will be posted on Thursday.

Edited by - Breathless on 09/16/2001 21:55:43
posted on 23-Sep-2001 12:55:54 AM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Season 1 Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17
Disclaimer: Yeah, yeah, yeah

Aauthor Note: I am so ready to scream! I have tried to post this FOUR times, and my damn computer keeps locking up on me!

Does anyone have Captive Hearts parts 1 - 58 posted on their site? FaithEvans? Do you? Can I post a link to it? I will get around to reposting it here, but the damn story is so long, it will take a lot of time! And time is something I am very short of for about the next month. I will try to post a new part every Sunday, but the operative word there is TRY. If I miss a Sunday along the way, sorry about that.

So, on with the story before my computer decides to eat me.

Captive Hearts

Part 61

Max shifted in the chair he was sitting in and then rubbed his hand tiredly across his face. He hadn’t slept much over the last few nights and his eyes had that gritty feeling. He knew he should try to get some sleep, but he was afraid. If he slept he would dream, and if he dreamed he might see Ellie and how could he face her after failing her so badly?

“Max, are you okay?” Daniel asked and reached over to touch him on the arm.

Startled, Max jerked his head in Daniel’s direction and then tried to tell himself to relax. He was with friends, here in Daniel’s home. Nothing bad could happen here. He looked around the room, first at Daniel and then at Josh, both friends who had come together tonight for a common goal. To talk about how to find Ellie, and bring her home.

“Max?” Daniel said again.

“I’m fine,” Max answered as he sat up straighter in the chair. His eyes shifted to Josh and he noticed how they were both looking at him with concern. “Really, I’m fine. I’m just not sleeping well.”

“Well that’s understandable,” Josh commented. He knew what kind of strain Max was under.

“So, where were we?” Max asked and he tried to refocus.

Daniel consulted the notes on his lap and said, “We did a check on the apartment Johnson used as a front . . .”

* * * * *

“Here, Liz,” Rachel said as she pulled a chair away from the kitchen table. “Sit down and I’ll take your blood pressure.”

“Why?” Liz asked as she set Amber back on her feet. She watched the little girl toddle across the kitchen floor with her small hand outstretched, reaching for the cookie her mother was offering her. Turning her attention back to Rachel she said, “I feel fine. Really.”

“I’m sure you are and we want to keep you that way. Your BP was up a little bit the other day and you seem kind of agitated tonight. I just want to keep an eye on things.”

“There’s nothing wrong with me,” Liz said as she crossed over to the chair and eased herself down. Even the simple act of sitting down was becoming more complicated now. She loved the feel of Matthew growing inside her, loved the way their minds would merge throughout the day and he would talk to her, but pregnancy definitely had its down side too. Putting in his 2 cents, Matthew gave her a good kick in the ribs. “Oh you stop that!” Liz smiled and rubbed her hand over her belly.

“I heard a silent ‘but’ in that sentence,” Rachel said as she tightened the blood pressure cuff around Liz’s arm and began to pump it up.

Liz focused on Rachel, not surprised that she picked up on that. Rachel was very insightful. “I’m worried about Max. He’s not sleeping at night and I know something is bothering him but he won’t talk to me about it.”

“Is it something at work?” Annie asked as she took a seat at the table next to Liz.

“He says it’s just work, but I don’t know. He seems so worried about me. The other night he was in such a panic when he got home and thought I wasn’t there. And then the next day he tried to convince me that I should go back to Roswell until Matthew is born. I mean it was crazy. The semester will be over in less than a month, I can’t drop out of my classes now.”

Rachel took the stethoscope out of her ears and smile as she said, “120 over 80. Your blood pressure is fine.” Picking up on the conversation, she asked, “So what did you say? Is he insisting that you go to Roswell?”

“Well, I told him I wasn’t going to, so then he said we should ask my mother to come out and stay with us, or if she can’t, then his mother.” Liz arched her eyebrows as she looked at the other women and continued, “Can you imagine? As if this body isn’t enough to interfere with my love life, I don’t even want to think about what it would be like with his mother sleeping in the next room!”

They all laughed and Sarah looked at the three women curiously as she came around the corner. “What’s so funny?”

Annie looked up at her mother-in-law and chuckled even harder. “Pregnancy and the art of lovemaking,” she said and watched Sarah’s eyebrow arch.

“Maybe I should go back in the other room. I don’t think I want to hear about how my son is in bed!” They laughed again and Liz pushed the chair back and started to rise. She paused and rubbed her lower abdomen as another Braxton Hicks contraction seized her.

“What’s the matter Sarah? You don’t want to hear about how Josh makes Annie’s toes cur-” Liz started to say when Max burst into the kitchen.

“Liz? Are you okay?” He asked worriedly as he rushed over to her. She sat back down and Max knelt in front of her, cupping her cheek with one hand and resting the other on her belly.

“I’m fine Max,” she said reassuringly and then looked up at Rachel with an expression that said, ‘See what I mean?’

“I felt a contraction.” His worried eyes dropped from hers and he looked down at the mound that was Matthew. She still had seven weeks to go before she’d reach full term. It was way too soon for contractions.

“Max,” she said gently and lifted his chin until their eyes met again. “You’ve felt those before. They’re nothing to worry about.”

He exhaled loudly and a relieved smile crossed his face. “I know . . . it’s just . . .”

“I know,” and she kissed him on the lips. “You just worry about me. About us,” she added and patted her hand on her belly.

His hand covered hers and he said, “I can’t help it.”

“And I love you for it,” she smiled, “but you’re going to give yourself an ulcer if you don’t stop.”

“Sorry,” he said and wrapped his arms around her, needing the comfort that holding her always gave him. Slapping a smile on his face, he looked into her eyes and said, “I’ll try to be better. Not worry so much.”

“Fat chance!” Rachel said with a snort.

Max and Liz both looked at her and their smiles were genuine as they listened to the sounds of Annie and Sarah laughing. Rachel always had a way of easing the tension. Max turned back to Liz and gave her another quick kiss and then he rose to his feet. His fingers lingered on her cheek and then he turned back towards the hall to return to the study. “I’ll just go back . . . ,” he stuttered. “Daniel’s still showing me his new, you know, his new . . . computer program.”

Liz nodded and watched him go feeling vaguely disconcerted by his last remark, and then her eyes got bigger and she awkwardly rose from the chair exclaiming, “Oh, he forgot his drink!”

“What drink?” Rachel asked. “How do you know he wanted a drink?” Liz looked at her like she was asking a silly question, which she was, and Rachel said with a laugh, “Oh, of course, the Max and Liz connection.”

Liz smiled and walked over to the refrigerator to get a cherry coke for Max and Rachel asked in a more serious tone, “Through your link, you know he wants a cherry coke, but you can’t sense what’s been bothering him so much lately?”

“No,” Liz said shaking her head. “That’s why I’m so worried, because he’s blocking it from me.”

Just then the doorbell rang and Sarah started to rise to her feet. Rachel finished putting the blood pressure kit away and asked, “Are you expecting someone else?”

“Max said Carl might be coming over,” Liz said and watched Rachel’s reaction.

“Really?” Rachel said and her eyebrows rose in interest. She turned toward the front of the house and said, “I’ll get the door Sarah,” and quickly left the kitchen. Liz exchanged a knowing look with Sarah and Annie, and then she headed down the hallway with Max’s cherry coke in her hand.

* * * * *

Rachel reached for the doorknob and then stopped. She smoothed her hands through her hair and then tugged on her shirt to make sure it wasn’t hiked up anywhere and then reached for the doorknob again. She took a deep breath and then pulled the door open and the air in her lungs rushed right out of her.

“Carl!” she exclaimed louder than she intended to. She cringed inwardly and cleared her throat and said, “Hi.”

“Rachel!” Carl stared at her and felt rooted to the ground. He had no idea she was going to be here. His brain was going a mile a minute, thinking of all the things he could say to her and then his mouth opened and all that came out was, “Hi!”

* * * * *

Liz neared the door to the study and she wondered if Daniel’s new computer program had anything to do with the search for Ellie. It’d been so disappointing not to have any news, any leads at all lately. Even leads that didn’t pan out at least gave her hope that the next clue might lead to Ellie. It was times like these, with no leads at all that weighed the heaviest on her.

She knew the older Ellie got, the more she’d be able to help give them those clues they so desperately needed, but right now she was just so young. Once she was able to read, that might help, but that day seemed so far away and she wanted Ellie home now. In their dreams, she and Max had been reading to her and trying to teach her the alphabet, but at two and a half, she was still too young.

Her pace slowed as she neared the door to the study and she smiled as the tone of Max’s voice reached her ears. It floated on the air, a rich resonance that she savored the sound of. His eyes and his voice had drawn her to him, all those years ago. Okay, his hands too, she thought and her smile deepened as she remembered back to that first time he had touched her with those hands, the day he had saved her life. Those warm and sensual hands, with long, tapered fingers. Hands that knew just how to touch her . . .

Alright, if she was going to be honest with herself, it wasn’t just his hands either. The memory of that first night she had seen his chest, that night in Michael’s apartment, entered her mind and she admitted it wasn’t just the eyes and the voice and the hands that she’d found so attractive. He had one damn fine looking chest. But that wasn’t all, no, not by a long shot. She loved that faint little crease in his chin, and he had that little tiny mole on his upper lip, and God, it was sexy! And so was that one under his left arm. She never thought a mole could be sexy, but on him, well, everything was sexy! She liked to nibble on him, right where that mole was, under his arm and then he’d get ticklish and laugh. God, she loved to hear him laugh! And then, of course, he’d have to nibble on her . . .

Had the temperature suddenly gone up in here? Okay, it wasn’t just his eyes or his voice or his hands or his chest. It was his whole body. That elegant throat of his that led to those amazing shoulders, the strong rippling muscles of his back, that stomach without an ounce of fat, those powerful looking thighs, and yes, yes . . . the package. She’d checked out his package too. Oh yeah! Long before she’d ever actually seen his package, she’d had her eye on his package! Those days back in their biology classes, with Max sitting next to her, she’d snuck a peek every now and then, and oh, she liked what she saw. Liz rolled the cold can of coke over her throat trying to cool herself down and she wondered if all women got this easily excited when they were pregnant, or if it was an alien thing?

* * * * *

That’s it? Carl thought to himself as he stared at Rachel. Just ‘Hi’? Of all the intelligent things he could have said, the best he could squeak out was ‘Hi’? He cleared his throat, feeling like his tie was about to strangle him and he said, “It’s nice to see you again. How are you?”

Rachel stared at him standing under the light of the porch and thought his eyes looked incredible. They were dark brown, but they had these flecks of gold in them. 18 karat gold eyes, she thought to herself. She choked back a laugh and wondered where that thought had come from. She didn’t usually fall victim to sappy thoughts like that. She was a practical woman, not a romantic. She suddenly realized she was supposed to answer him with something akin to an intelligent response and she said, “Um, I’m fine. You?”

“Fine,” Carl answered and after a pause he added, “I’m fine too.”

* * * * *

Suddenly not only the sound of Max’s voice reached her ears, but the actual words he was saying became clear and the smile on Liz’s face slowly disappeared. She came to a stop in the hallway outside the study and she couldn’t believe what she was hearing.

“We know that Johnson left Maryvale suddenly,” Max said listing the facts they’d been able to ascertain. “Last week it was business as usually and this week he quits out of the blue. Either something spooked him, or he found a better job, or . . .”

“Or what Max?” Josh asked, even though he knew what his friend was thinking.

“Or maybe something triggered him to want to devote himself to research full time.” Max hated even saying it because he knew what that meant to Ellie. It was the nightmare that he was afraid of.

“Do you have any idea what might have triggered something like that?” Daniel asked.

“Maybe,” Max answered. He thought back to the last contact he’d had with Ellie, and the shield that she had manifested. What if Johnson had seen something? “Ellie’s powers are increasing as she grows, and if he saw-”


Max shot to his feet when he heard Liz’s voice and his head snapped toward the open doorway. She was standing there, with a cherry coke in her hand, and looking at him like she’d never seen him before. His throat constricted and with a strangled sound he blurted out, “Liz!”

* * * * *

Carl felt the moth fluttering around his head again and swatted at it for the third time. Missed again. It was attracted to the porch light and kept swooping around his head. He must look like an idiot, flailing his arms around like that, he though to himself. A mosquito dive bombed his ear and he twitched his head to evade it. Great. This is just great.

“Um, is Max here?” Carl asked and immediately thought ‘God! That sounded stupid!’ He sounded like a five year old, looking for a neighbor to play with. He might as well have asked, ‘Can Max come out and play?’ Jesus!

“Yeah, yeah, he’s here,” Rachel answered. She stood staring at him for another minute and then figuratively slapped herself on the head and said, “Come in, Carl! Come in!”

* * * * *

“Max? What’s going on?” Liz had heard him talking about Ellie, and Johnson. Was that why he had been so upset these last few days? Had something happened? Something that he had been keeping from her?

“Liz!” Max said again and didn’t know what else to say. She’d walked in at the worst time. Why hadn’t he closed the door when he came back from the kitchen? All he wanted to do was protect her. It was better she didn’t know about any of this.

“Max Evans!” Liz exclaimed hotly. “Something’s going on and I want to know what it is RIGHT NOW!”

‘Oh shit!’ Max thought as he looked at her stern face. Now she’s pissed.

Daniel and Josh exchanged a look and hastily left the room.

* * * * *

“Thanks,” Carl said as he stepped over the threshold. He dodged the mosquito one more time and then he stepped inside and Rachel closed the door. They stood awkwardly staring at each other in the foyer and then Carl said, “Um . . . Max?”

“Oh yeah! Right!” Rachel nodded. “He’s back here. Come on, I’ll show you.” She turned to lead him down the hall and he followed.

As they passed through the living room Carl couldn’t help noticing the way Rachel moved. She was graceful and her body was lush. He could picture himself running his hands over her hips and caressing her . . . Whoa! Where had that come from? It’d been a long time since he’d had thoughts like these.

“Um, Rachel,” Carl asked trying to get his mind on other things. “How’s Mrs. Henner doing?”

Rachel came to a stop and for a moment she was stunned that he remembered Lucy’s name. It had been over a month ago that he’d given her a ride to Lucy’s house when she’d gone into labor. He must have a fantastic memory. “She’s doing great. The baby is growing fast and Paul is adjusting to having another little one in the house.”

Carl laughed and suddenly the strain in their conversation disappeared. “He sure was a nervous wreck that day!”

“That’s what impending fatherhood does to you.” Rachel laughed. “You’ve never had any kids Carl?”

“No,” he answered with a touch of regret in his voice. “Michelle and I never had any.”

“Oh that’s too bad. You seem like you’d make a great dad.” Rachel saw his eyebrows raise and she hastily added, “Well, what I mean is . . . babies remind you of what life is all about.”

“Is that right?” Carl commented.

“It is when you’re looking at the innocent face of a new born baby,” Rachel smiled. “Of course, I’m a little biased.”

Carl hadn’t wanted kids for a long time, mainly because of all the bad memories he had of growing up alone on the streets. Then when Michelle’s illness reared its ugly head, it was too late. He regretted not having a part of her live on after she was gone. The world deserved to have a part of her still in it. Voices interrupted his thoughts and he turned to see Daniel and Josh entering the living room.

“Hi Carl, looking for Max?” Daniel asked. Before Carl could answer Daniel added, “Believe me, you don’t want to be anywhere near him right now.”

* * * * *

“Sit down, Liz,” Max pleaded with an angry Liz.

“Don’t ‘sit down Liz’ me!” she said hotly. “You’ve been keeping things from me. Telling me everything’s fine when you know they’re not! I want the truth!”

“Liz, please, don’t get upset,” Max begged. His hands were hovering on her shoulders and then stroking her hair and then touching her cheek, just flittering all around her while he tried to calm her down. “It’s not good for Matthew when you get upset like this.”

“Don’t you use Matthew as an excuse for lying to me, Max Evans!” Liz fumed.

“No Liz, that’s not what I mean,” Max said anxiously. “Please Baby, don’t get upset.”

“I heard you, Max,” Liz said and her voice had become deathly quiet. “I heard what you were saying.”

Max looked into her eyes and he could see her anger starting to give way to something else. Fear. There was fear there now, and her eyes were starting to fill with tears. She sagged against him and he had to hold her up by the shoulders and then the words she whispered tore his heart out. “What happened to her Max? What happened to Ellie?”

He helped her to the chair he’d been sitting in a minute ago and he eased her carefully into it. He could feel her body trembling and her eyes looked so scared as he knelt in front of her. He took her hands in his and he could tell by looking at her that she was imagining the worse. He realized then just how wrong he had been. He should have told her the truth right from the beginning.

Liz looked at Max but she could barely see him through her tears. Something had happened to Ellie. That was why he’d been so upset the last few days. Something horrible had happened to her and he was afraid to tell her. Oh God, oh God, oh sweet merciful God, was she . . .

But wait. She’d seen Ellie in her dreams last night, and she was fine. She’d been happy and healthy and the only thing wrong was that Max hadn’t joined them and that made Ellie sad. She was afraid of the look on his face, but she had to know. “Max . . .?”

“It’s not as bad as you’re thinking, Liz,” Max said and he stroked his fingers through her hair trying to calm her down. He was trying to calm himself down too. He had no choice now. He had to tell her the truth. “Please Baby, just listen to me and I’ll tell you everything.”

“What happened Max?” Liz whispered in a trembling voice.

Max took her hands in his and rested his forehead against them for a moment before looking up into her eyes again. He took a deep breath and felt the tightness in his throat and his chest as he said, “We found Johnson, here in Phoenix, Liz. He’s been here all along, working at Maryvale. He was there Liz, on Monday when I went there with Carl. He was right there in the hospital and I let him get away. God help me Liz,” Max leaned his head against her hands again and a sob tore from his throat, “he was right there and I let him get away.”

“Max . . .” Liz whispered and things started falling into place. His recent despair, his devastation, the way he had closed himself off from her, his inability to sleep or to dream. Her hands tightened around his and he lifted his anguished eyes up to hers.

It happened then, as their eyes made contact. He let his defenses down and the link opened, revealing everything he had suffered through these last few days. The moment in the hospital when he realized the man they had hunted for so long was there. His barely controlled restraint as he searched the halls, looking for the face of the man that haunted him. His panic as he realized the monster was getting away. His pain as he lashed out, striking a wall in frustration and in rage. His devastation and defeat as he realized Johnson had slipped through his hands. His self-hatred and self-loathing, for failing Ellie, for failing her.

“Max . . .” she said again and she pulled him to her. Her arms wrapped around him tightly and she clutched his hair as she pressed him to her breast. Her eyes stared off across the room, but the walls of Daniel’s study wasn’t what she saw. The image of Max, naked and alone, sobbing on the floor of the bathroom shower, burned into her brain. “Max . . . why didn’t you tell me?”

His arms had surrounded her and he was clinging to her like a man holding on for dear life. His eyes closed as he felt the softness of her breast against his face and he fought to keep from breaking down completely. “Liz,” he cried softly and his voice caught in his throat. “I was so close . . . so close . . .”

She continued to hold him, and he was amazed at how calm she seemed, and then she said the most amazing thing. Her hands cupped his face and pulled him away from her and he looked up into her shining eyes as she said, “Do you know what this means?” Just a hint of a smile touched her lips and she said, “Ellie’s here, in Phoenix.”

“But-” Max started to say and she stopped his words with a touch of her finger to his lips.

“Ellie’s here, Max. Somewhere nearby. After all this time of no solid clues, no idea where to look for her, years of no real hope of finding her, she’s here.”

“But what if he moves her?” Max said, voicing one of his biggest fears.

“I’ve been with her every night, Max. You haven’t seen her because you think you failed her, but if you’d shared the dreams you’d know that she’s fine. Johnson didn’t rush home and steal her away into the night.”

“He still might . . .”

“No, Max. If he hasn’t moved her yet, he’s not going to.” Her hands were comforting on his face, her voice was soothing to his ears, and her words were moving as she gave him back his hope. “We’re going to get our baby back, Max. I just know it. You just need to believe it too.”

He had thought she would be devastated by the news, but once again Elizabeth Parker Evans showed just how strong she really was. When his world was at its darkest, she was his shining ray of light. His hand rose to caress the face that he loved so much and he said softly, “Let’s go home, Liz. Let’s go home.”

TBC . . .

posted on 15-Oct-2001 4:21:00 AM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17
Disclaimer: My Max and Liz are nothing like Jason Katims.

Author Note: I know it's been a long time since I updated this and I'm sorry. It's that real life issue that keeps popping up. Plus, being discouraged about the real Roswell doesn't help. I will post this part tonight even though I feel like it's kind of rushed, and then it will probably be 2 weeks before the next part.

For those of you that are interested, I started a new fic (Yes, I am insane) called Echoes of Tomorrow, and I am going to post part 2 on Thursday night. It's season 3, Debbi's way, for whatever that's worth. Anyway, I'll try to post that one every Thursday night.

But for now, on with the story . . .

Captive Hearts

Part 62

The evening was warm for late April and the darkness of the night was broken only by an occasional street lamp spaced evenly along the sidewalk. The two figures walked slowly, moving from light into shadow and then back into light again as they progressed down the street. There was a comfortable silence about them, broken only by the sound of their footsteps on the pavement echoing in the air. Carl walked with his hands in the front pockets of his dark slacks and Rachel walked beside him with her arms dangling loosely at her sides.

“So how long have you known them?” Carl asked and darted his eyes in her direction. To clarify, he added, “Max and Liz.”

“About the same length of time as you, I believe,” Rachel answered and she folded her arms casually over her chest. “I met Liz first. Annie introduced us. I had delivered Amber, and Liz was interested in a home birth, so Annie recommended me. I mean, it’s understandable that Liz wanted to stay away from a hospital setting.”

Of course everything she said was true, but a part of Rachel wished she could talk to Carl without reservations or hiding behind half-truths. She had to be so careful of who she confided in. If Carl were to learn her secrets, it wouldn’t be just her at risk.

“A lot of women these days like home deliveries,” Rachel said. “It’s so much more personal.”

Carl nodded and they walked in silence for another minute and then he said, “Did you see their faces when they left?”

“Yes,” Rachel smiled.

“Max looked like the weight of the world had been lifted from his shoulders, didn’t he?” Carl said as they passed into shadows again.

“Yes,” she agreed. “Max is the type that wants to protect everyone around him, especially Liz. He carries so much guilt inside him. It’s not his fault that bad things happened to her because of him.”

“Because of him?” Carl questioned.

“Well I mean, she was with him when they were taken, and when he escaped, she got left behind. That must have devastated him to be free, knowing she wasn’t.”

“I can’t imagine what he went through,” Carl said shaking his head. “That’s why he tries to shield her from things, trying to protect her.”

“Max needs to realize that he’s stronger when he and Liz face things together. She makes him stronger. Not that I’m saying he’s weak or anything. I don’t mean that at all. It’s just that, Max can . . .”

“What Rachel?” Carl asked when her voice trailed off.

“Oh, it’s just that Max can get lost in the darkness when he keeps everything to himself. It’s Liz that keeps him from losing his way.”

“He has been in a bad place lately. Ever since Johnson got away.” Carl spoke softly as they walked along. “But tonight, when the two of them walked out of Daniel’s study holding on to each like that, I could see the change in him. He’s lucky he has her.” Carl fell silent and he thought back to a time when he had someone like that in his life. He had thought the sun rose every morning just so it could shine on Michelle. He stole a look at Rachel, wondering if a love like that could happen twice in a lifetime.

“Where here,” Rachel said coming to a stop in front of a charming little white house with dark green shutters on the windows. “Home sweet home.”

Carl pulled his hands out of his pockets and he stood awkwardly in front of her, knowing it was time to say goodnight, but wishing the evening wasn’t over already.

“Thanks for walking me home,” Rachel said and she touched him lightly on the arm. “It’s such a nice evening. I enjoyed the walk . . . and the company.”

“Me too,” Carl agreed and he couldn’t quite take his eyes off her full lips. Pointing back in the direction they’d just come, he said, “Well, I guess I better-”

“Do you want to come in for a minute?” Rachel interrupted. “I could brew a pot of coffee real quick, I mean if you-”

“I’d love a cup of coffee,” Carl smiled.

* * * * *

Max lay on his bed, stroking his fingers slowly through his wife’s hair and watching her as she slept. She was curled against him, with her head resting on his chest and her arm draped over him, and her full belly pressed against his side. The warm skin of her thigh lay on top of his and if she hadn’t been sleeping so soundly he might have been tempted to make love to her again.

He smiled at the peaceful look on her face, still amazed by her inner strength. She’d taken the news about Johnson better than he ever would have imagined. He’d been so scared about what kind of toll it would take on her, both emotionally and physically, but she’d turned what he had seen as something horrible and devastating into something that could have a positive outcome.

He watched her eyes begin to move under her eyelids and he brushed the back of his fingers over her cheek. She was going into REM sleep, maybe right now already seeing Ellie, touching Ellie, being with Ellie. He’d spent too many days without her, and Max closed his eyes, eager to join his family in the land of dreams . . .

Ellie squatted in the water and her gaze was riveted to the school of tiny fish that darted just out of reach of her curious finger. The cool water of the stream flowed gently around her bare feet and trickled off into the distance in its journey across the valley floor. A noise suddenly caught her attention and she splashed closer to the bank.

“Mommy, look! A fog!”

Liz followed the direction of her pointing finger and she smiled at the sight of a small tree frog crouched at the edge of the stream. It’s throat puffed out and it emitted another croak and Ellie reached out and touched it with her finger. She wrinkled her nose and pulled her finger back and said, “It’s all gooshy, Mommy!”

Liz moved quickly and snatched the frog off the rock it was sitting on. She could feel it jump inside her clasped hands and she turned to Ellie saying, “Hold out your hand, Baby.”

Ellie cupped her hands in front of her and Liz put her hands in top of them, opening them so the frog dropped onto Ellie’s palm. She stared at it in awe and giggled when it let out another loud croak. The frog jumped from her hand to her wrist and then up her arm. Ellie gave out a squeal of both delight at the new experience and fear that the frog was coming to get her. Her eyes grew huge as it jumped onto her shoulder and then plopped into the water behind her.

“Awwwww,” Ellie cried out and turned to chase the frog. Liz stood in the water holding her long skirt up around her knees and watching Ellie with delight. She was so full of life.

“What are my two girls doing?” a deep voice filled the air.

Ellie whirled around with a beautiful smile lighting her face. “DADDY!” she cried out in excitement. She had missed him so much. She splashed through the water and scrambled up the bank of the stream, flinging herself into his outstretched arms. “DADDY! YOU HERE!”

“Yes, I am,” Max said, closing his eyes as he wrapped his arms around her, feeling like he was back where he belonged. He picked her up and clutched her close to him, feeling her little arms squeezing his neck. She kissed him hard on the cheek and he felt a stab of guilt that he had stayed away from her.

“I hab somefing to show you Daddy!” Ellie said and squirmed out of his arms. Her small hand closed around his and she pulled him toward the water.

“Wait!” he cried out, laughing at her determination. “You want me to go in there?” he asked, pointing to the stream.

“Yes,” she frowned at him, like it shouldn’t be a hard concept for him to understand. He was her Daddy. He knew everything.

“Well then I need to take my shoes and socks off!” Max sat on the ground and Ellie hovered over him with her hands on her hips. Her pink dress was adorned with lace along the bodice and the hem, in stark contrast to her tomboyish demeanor.

“Huwee up, Daddy!” Ellie said in exasperation. “He’s gittin away!”

“Who’s getting away?” Max asked as he tucked his socks into his shoes.

“The fog!” Ellie answered and took his hand, pulling him toward the water.

He turned to Liz and silently asked ‘The fog?’ and she mouthed back to him ‘frog’ and he smiled and let Ellie lead him to the water’s edge. He took a moment to roll up his pant legs and then he splashed along with Ellie through the water, holding her hand tightly in his and feeling like this was where he belonged, right here, with Liz and with Ellie, and the presence of Matthew floating all around them, like the family they were suppose to be.

Ellie slowed and she searched along the stream bank, looking near the last place she had seen the frog when it hopped away from her. She released Max’s hand and bent forward, frowning in concentration. “Mommy put it in my hand, and it jumped up my ahm. It felt funny, Daddy.”

“It did?” Max laughed. It was such a relief to see her like this, happy and healthy and brimming with life.

She looked closely along the reeds and the rocks and then she excitedly cried out, “There it is Daddy! Git it!”

Max looked in the direction of her pointing finger and he saw it, sitting on a rock at the waters edge. It let out a croak as if it was mocking him and Max lunged after it. The frog jumped just before his hands closed over it and he watched it fly through the air. It came down in the water and Max raced after it, accompanied by Ellie’s excited demands for him to “Git it!”, repeated in accelerating pitch.

He splashed through the water, chasing the frog that seemed to stay just out of his reach. It came to rest on a rock in the middle of the stream and jeered at Max with a mighty croak. With an answering battle cry, Max launched himself at the frog. His hand closed over it triumphantly, but his victorious smile disappeared as his foot slipped on a slippery rock and he fell face forward into the water.

He came up shaking his head, making water fly everywhere. His hair was wet, as was his face, and the front of his shirt and his pants were drenched. He sucked in a deep breath and the shock of the cool water was evident by the look on his face. He could hear Liz’s laughter echoing all around him and Ellie was looking at him with her hands covering her mouth.

He stood in water up to his ankles, soaked to the skin with his clothes dripping, and he heard Ellie’s sweet voice giggling, “Daddy, you awl wet!”

“Been walking long, Max?” Liz teased and she laughed even harder when he glared at her. He took a step forward, skirting to the right of a large boulder in the stream, and Liz hastily cried out, “Watch your-”

Max stepped down and the bed of the stream fell away, erosion around the rock having created a pool of water nearly three feet deep. His eyes got huge as his foot failed to touch the ground where he expected it to be, and he was once more propelled into the water. He flailed his arms wildly as he lost his balance, and his face hit the water again. When he came up again, dripping water from his ears and his nose and his chin, he was standing in water up to his mid thigh.

“-step!” Liz finished. “There’s a deep spot there!” She was laughing at him so hard she’d had to sit down on the edge of the stream.

His eyes moved from his laughing wife to his giggling daughter who was hiding behind her hands. “I’m glad you two find this humorous,” Max said as he wiped at his wet clothes.

“Daddy,” Ellie said, drawing his attention to her once more and she said in all seriousness, “You awl wet agin.”

He could hear Liz laughing even harder at that and Max made his way over to her, climbing out of the deep pool of water with his clothes clinging to him.

Liz saw the look in his eye and she scrambled off the rock she was sitting on, crying out, “No Max! No!” In her state of pregnancy she wasn’t as nimble on her feet as she used to be, and even though she tried to out run him, it was hopeless. He grabbed her as she tried to flee and he wrapped his arms around her.

“Max!” she shrieked. “You’re soaking wet!” He plastered himself to the front if her and her shirt and her skirt quickly turned wet. “Max!” she laughed and screamed at the same time. “Max, let me go! You’re cold!”

“I’m cold?” Max asked as he held her tight.

“Yes!” she screamed.

“I’m wet?” he asked as she squirmed in his arms.

“Yes!” she laughed as she tried to get away from him.

“You know what?”

“What?” she asked and her eyes traveled over his face. His hair was plastered to his skull, and water ran in little rivulets from his bangs. His eyes were so sensual and his lips were so full and ripe that she just had to kiss him.

Max kissed her back, tasting her warm, sweet lips, letting his tongue dart across them and feeling them part to give him access to her mouth. His hand dropped down, scooping behind her knees and he effortlessly lifted her up.

“Honey,” he said in all seriousness as he gazed into her beautiful eyes, “you’re about to find out what cold and wet feels like.” He cradled her in his arms and turned back toward the deep water.

“No,” Liz said in disbelief. Her eyes got huge as he trudged through the water and she started to kick and squirm. “No, Max, NO! I don’t want to get wet!” She screamed as he reached the edge of the deep water, and then he stepped over, taking them both down below the surface. The cool water cut off her screams and then she came up sputtering and wiping water from her face.

Max came up beside her and wrapped his arms around her again. They were dripping everywhere and Max found her lips, covering her mouth with his, burying his hand in her wet hair and feeling her kissing him back with gusto.

Feeling her wet body pressed against his was sensual and exciting, almost as good as cake and a close rival to frosting and then a presence intruded on their ardor. They looked at each other for a moment and then turned in unison to see Ellie, hands on her hips, staring at them from the shallow water. She had a perplexed look on her face, and then Miss Mood Breaker, just as practical as her mother, brought them back to reality when she said, “Daddy, what happened to my fog?”

* * * * *

Max, wearing damp boxers and a t-shirt, sat on a blanket with the sun shining down on him, and Liz sitting in front of him with her back to him. She was wearing a slip, as damp as his shorts, and he was running his hands through her hair, drying it in that special way of his. She could feel the heat pouring from his palms and she sat back feeling happy and relaxed. Their clothes were hanging from the limbs of the trees, drying in the warm breeze.

Ellie was in her mother’s lap, facing her, with her ear pressed against her belly. She had a secretive smile on her face, as if she and Matthew were sharing a private moment.

“Can you hear anything in there, Baby?” Liz smiled down at her little girl.

Ellie sat up and chided her mother. “He’s the baby!” she scolded and patted her hand against her mother’s belly. “I’m a big gurl.”

“You are?” Max smiled at her over Liz’s shoulder.

“Yes!” She scrambled to her feet and stood tall, with her arms stretched out and said, “I’m this big!”

“You really are big!” Max laughed and scooped her into his arms. He blew a raspberry against the tender skin on her throat and tickled her ribs and she squirmed and kicked in his lap. Her foot connected with a very sensitive part of his lower anatomy, and the air rushed out of his lungs. His face turned purple as he doubled over and Liz fell backwards, laughing at the look on his face.

“Are you okay, Daddy?” Ellie asked worriedly.

“Yes,” Max answered like a girl and that made Liz laugh even harder. He cleared his throat and turned to Liz and said, “You didn’t want anymore kids anyway, right?”

Ellie wrinkled her nose and tilted her head and said, “What?”

“Nevermind,” Max laughed and set her back on his lap. He kissed the top of her head and then he looked at Liz with his eyes taking on a serious note. She nodded her head, telling him it was time, and she sat close to him with her hand resting on Ellie’s leg. Ellie could sense the sudden change in them both, and she looked at them expectantly.

“Ellie, we need to talk about something,” Max said and cupped his hand under her chin.

“Am I in twouble?” Ellie asked with big round eyes.

“No,” Max smiled. “Not at all.”

“Ellie,” Liz said gently, “we need to ask you some questions and you need to stay with us. Don’t go away. Okay?” In the past, when they had tried to dig information out of her about where she was and who she was with, the connection to her had wavered and broken. Liz suspected it was a coping device, her way of separating the reality of her real life from her dream world.

“Okay,” Ellie said in a small voice.

“Ellie, has anything changed where you live?” Max asked gently.

“Huh?” Ellie asked.

“Have you heard anyone say anything about going to live somewhere else?”


“Is there anything unusual happening? Has anything been moved out? Has anyone been packing things away into boxes or cartons or anything like that?” Max watched her face closely trying to read her expressions.

“No Daddy. Ebbefing is the same.”

“Are you sure, Baby? Nothing is different at all?” Max felt his hope rising. If nothing had changed, if they weren’t hastily packing, did that mean Johnson wasn’t fleeing the area? Was it possible that Johnson was unaware that Max was on to him?

“Nuffing’s diffent ‘cep . . . ‘cep . . .” she said haltingly and her fingers plucked at his shirt.

“What Ellie?” Max urged. “Nothing’s different except what?”

She looked up at him with her big dark eyes and she bit at her lower lip. Reluctantly she spoke in a voice so quiet Max had to strain to hear her. “My . . . my other Daddy said . . . him said he onee wook with the aminals now. In the lab place.”

“Your other . . .” Max repeated and Ellie dropped her eyes as if she’d said something bad. He’d never heard her refer to Johnson that way before. ‘Her other Daddy’. Hearing her call him that was like a kick in the stomach, but he couldn’t blame her. It was remarkable that she could distinguish the two worlds as well as she could at her tender age. There was no doubt in his mind that she knew he was her real father, even though they’d never touched, never been closer than the width of a room from each other, hadn’t seen each other since the night she was born. Max kissed her on the forehead and lifted her chin to look into her eyes and he smiled down at her. “Your other Daddy, he’s only going to work with the animals now? The ones in the lab?”

She nodded her head and Max glanced at Liz before asking the next question. He hated asking it, hated Liz being here to listen to the answer, but they had agreed . . . no more secrets. Looking back at Ellie, he asked, “Does he take you in the lab, honey? The things he does to the animals in the lab, does he do them to you too?”

“I like the aminals,” Ellie answered. “I get to play with them, and make them not be lonely. Sometimes they cry, and I hug them and make them feel all better.”

She was sidestepping his question, skirting around it, but it was the latter part of her answer that Max focused on now, for it held the most danger of all. “Does your other Daddy see it when you make them feel better?” Max asked.

“No. That’s a seeket.”

Liz found Max’s hand and held on to him tightly. Johnson was experimenting on the animals in the lab, and Ellie was secretly healing them, to take away their pain. She was a most amazing child, a wonder to behold, with extraordinary gifts to offer.

“That’s right Ellie. That’s our secret.” He kissed the top of her head and Max held Ellie securely with one arm, and Liz with the other, wishing he could shield them from the danger that they faced. If Johnson was unaware of what Ellie could do, how long would it stay that way? How long would she be safe? And if his sudden change of direction was because he’d learned her secrets, what would become of her now?

TBC . . .

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 15-Oct-2001 4:51:34 AM ]
posted on 29-Oct-2001 5:08:18 AM by Breathless
Note about Captive Hearts

I'm sorry there is no update this tonight. I've had a busy, busy month and the new fic I've been working on is driving me right now. Hang in there guys . . .
posted on 4-Dec-2001 3:29:41 AM by Breathless
Hi everybody.

I know you have all been waiting and waiting for a new part, and I hope to have something ready soon. I've found it hard to write this story, mainly because of the direction the show has taken. Max is, well, Max is just not Max anymore, and I don't want him tainting the Max in my story.

I finally found (thanks to Lisa!) a link to parts 1 - 59, for those that haven't read the early chapters.

Go here for parts 1 - 20

Go here for parts 21 - 40

Go here for parts 40-59

I hope those work.

As soon as I get Echoes of Tomorrow out of my head, I'll have more time for Captive Hearts.


Edited to say, Lisa beat me to it with the link to schurry's site. How'd I miss that? I better go to bed!

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 4-Dec-2001 3:33:32 AM ]
posted on 17-Dec-2001 3:27:59 AM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Season 1 Max and Liz
Rating reminder: This story contains adult material, including language, violence and sexual situations. If NC 17 material offends you, this is not the fic for you. I will not warn you ahead of time when things 'heat up', so to speak.

Author Note: First of all, I want to apologize to everyone for letting this story dangle in the wind for so long. I realize that it has been 2 months since the last update. To be truthful, the state of Roswell interfered with it. It was difficult for me to write and be true to the characters I created here, when what I see week after week is so NOT the Max I connected to. I had issues to deal with, and two of my other fics, Dying Embers and Echoes of Tomorrow helped me in that regard.

I've spent the last hour trying to compose my thoughts here, and I keep deleting it because I can't seem to say what I want to say. To say that I'm disappointed in season 3 is an understatement. However, I don't want to turn this into a diatribe on the state of Roswell.

Let me just say that after watching End of the World last week (and walking away because I just couldn't take it) I felt myself really letting go of the Roswell I once loved, and oddly, when I did that I finally was able to pick this story up again. And it felt so right to be writing it again. Ellie is swimming around in my head again. Now, all I need to remember is that the only thing my Max is guilty of . . . is loving Liz, with all his heart and soul.

I've given up reading spoilers. Please do NOT hint at spoilers here. I don't care if they are good spoilers or bad spoilers, I just don't want to know. Thanks.

Summary: This fic began where Sexual Healing ended. Max and Liz found the orb in the desert and it transported them to a goverment facility where they were experimented on. Liz became pregnant there, Max was separated from her and he spent months trying to find her. Just as she gave birth to Ellie, Max staged a raid to free her, which he successfully accomplished, but Ellie was taken from them. They've been looking for her ever since.

Ellie is now a little over two and a half years old, and in the care of Dr. Robert Johnson, somewhere in the Phoenix area. Max is working in the Child Victims Crime Unit of the Phoenix police department, using his gifts to help children be reunited with their families, and hoping someday his own prayers will be answered. Liz is studying Microbiology at Arizona State and anxiously awaiting the birth of their son, Matthew. In their dreams, Max and Liz are able to connect to Ellie.

Carl Montoya is Max's boss and head of the Child Victims Unit. Rachel MacKenzie is Liz's friend and her Midwife.

On with the story. I hope this was worth the wait . . .

Captive Hearts

Part 63

Liz stood in the middle of the living room with her hands on her hips while she contemplated the new arrangement. Max stood beside her wiping the sweat from his brow. He’d been moving furniture for the last hour and it didn’t look like she was satisfied yet.

“What about moving the blue chair over to where the print chair is, and the print one over to where the blue one is?” she suggested.

“What difference does it make,” Max frowned. “They’re both chairs.”

“But Max,” Liz said as if he was a child. “One is a print and the other is solid blue.”

He stared at her blankly, not getting the significance of that statement. They were still chairs. The same shape, the same size, just different colors.

“Max,” she said patiently. “They have different aesthetic values. The print chair might look better over there, and the blue one might look better over here.”

Max took a deep breath and sighed before trudging across the room to pick up the blue chair. He knew what this was all about. Rachel had warned him after Liz’s last checkup. It wouldn’t be long now, two weeks, maybe less and Matthew would make his arrival in the world. Liz was showing all the classic signs of the nesting instinct kicking in, and Max was thinking he’d be lucky to survive until the birth.

“Liz, you know, this would be a whole lot faster if you let me change the print chair to blue and then turn the blue chair into a print, instead of actually moving them. I promise I’ll get the colors right this time.”

He looked sheepishly at her, remembering the near disaster they’d had last week. She’d set him to the store to buy new dishes and he’d come home with the wrong pattern. She’d brought out a picture to show him the right one and he had attempted to fix the mistake. He had laid the plates out on the table and waved his hand over them and then turned to Liz with a satisfied look on his face. To his chagrin, she’d frowned and shook her head no.

She’d said the pattern was wrong and the flowers were too big. He waved his hand again and she still frowned. This time the flowers were right but the leaves were wrong. He tried again – the color was too dark. The fourth try – the color was too light. Fifth try – the white background wasn’t white enough. On the tenth try, he’d waved his hand over the plates and the design changed into a picture of a caveman chewing on a big ‘ol bone and the words ‘Who needs plates?’ written along the rim. She hadn’t been amused.

In fact, he’d stood in the kitchen staring at her, horrified as her lower lip started to quiver and then her eyes filled with tears and then she was running down the hall to the bedroom crying that he didn’t love her anymore. He had chased after her, calling her ‘honey’ and ‘sweetheart’ and “cupcake” and every tender name he could think of but her sobs had only gotten louder. Rachel had warned him about hormones and mood swings too. Thank God for Rachel. He’d finally gotten her to calm down, plying her with her current favorite food, vanilla ice cream with tabasco sauce. She’d taken quite a liking to the spicy sauce lately.

Max pulled his thoughts back to the moment and he looked at her hopefully while she contemplated letting him change the colors of the chairs, instead of moving the chairs themselves. He smiled in relief when she nodded her head. Before she could change her mind, he quickly changed the solid blue chair into a print, and the print chair into a solid blue.

He smiled happily, pleased with his display of alien magic and feeling all proud of himself, and then he saw the look on her face. She wrinkled her nose as she looked at the new layout and then shook her head. “No, I think I liked it better the other way.”

Thank God he hadn’t moved them by hand, Max thought, and rolled his eyes as he turned away from her.

“Did you say something, Max?” Liz asked with a frown.

“No!” he shook his head. He turned a set of big innocent eyes on her and said, “I didn’t say anything.” He watched her standing a few feet from him with one hand resting on the swell of her belly and the other hand pulling at her lip as she looked sharply at him, and then she let it pass and glanced around the room. She looked like she had a beach ball under her maternity top and when she walked she had that familiar waddle. He thought she looked adorable.

“I think . . .” she said and her eyes swept around the room.

Oh no, Max shuddered inwardly. He knew whatever was coming, he wasn’t going to like it.

“I think I want to try the bookcase over on that wall,” Liz said pointing across the room.

He knew it! It was bad news. “But Liz,” he tried to reason with her. “It has . . . books on it.” Big books. Little books. Lots and lots of heavy books.

Statues adorned the bookcase too. Ever since he had found her and brought her home, she’d been collecting figurines of Pegasus. Some were little and some were big. Most of them showed Pegasus with his wings outstretched, ready to take flight. He didn’t know why she had taken to them so. He’d never known her to collect them Before. But After, she’d almost had an obsession with all things Pegasus.

Her favorite statue, the one he’d given her for her birthday two years ago stood on their dresser and she said he watched over the pictures of Ellie that were on their bedroom wall. Last week, when she’d turned twenty, he’d added another drawing to the collection. This one was of Liz holding Ellie, with their foreheads touching and their eyes closed and the depth of their love for each other was evident on their faces. It was Max’s favorite drawing. It captured the image of the two people he loved most in the world, together as they had never been allowed to be in life. She’d cried when he gave it to her. He had cried with her.

“I know it has books on it, Max,” Liz said and he focused his mind back on the task at hand. “You’ll just have to take them off first.”

They worked together for the next hour. Liz told him what to do, and Max did it. He wouldn’t let her lift anything heavy, and he wouldn’t let her stretch to reach things on the higher shelves. He even made her go sit down when he saw her rubbing her lower back. He could feel it too, that familiar ached in his lower back caused by the Braxton Hicks contractions she’d been feeling lately. Matthew’s arrival was growing closer and closer now, with his due date just a couple of weeks away, and the false labor they were both feeling would soon be real.

An hour later, Liz stood surveying the living room with a smile on her face. She nodded her head and said, “I like it this way.”

Max looked around the room with a perplexed look on his face. “Um, Liz?”

She turned her happy face to him and asked sweetly, “What honey?”

He bit his lower lip as he looked around the room again. He’d spent the morning moving the couch and the chairs and the end tables. The monster bookcase had been unloaded and moved and reloaded, and then unloaded and moved again. She’d tried the couch in various locations and the chairs as well. In the end, everything was back in the exact same place they had been this morning before they’d started.

He looked down at Liz, about to point out that very fact to her, when her big chocolate brown eyes made him melt. He smiled at her and said, “I like it this way too.”

Her eyes were shining at him and she reached up her hand to gently cup his cheek. She stretched to kiss him lightly on the lips and then said enthusiastically, “Let’s try moving the dresser over next to the window . . .”

Holy Crap! Not the bedroom too! Max closed his eyes in disbelief and brought his hand up to cover his face. Liz cheerfully headed off in the direction of the bedroom and Max trudged along behind her, hanging his head as he muttered, “Oh no . . .”

* * * * *

Ellie sat at her desk in her bedroom with a crayon in her hand and the drawing tablet open in front of her. Her little pink tongue poked out from between her lips as she concentrated on getting the picture just right. It was important that it be perfect.

Johnson silently walked up behind her, curious about what she was so intent on. He knew she loved to draw and was quite good at it, in fact, amazingly good at it for her age. He peered over her shoulder and his eyes widened in surprise and he asked, “What are you drawing there, Jenny?”

“Nuffing,” Ellie answered casually. “Just dwawing.”

“Who’s that?” Johnson asked, pointing his finger at the woman with the long dark hair.

“Nobody,” Ellie paused, staring down at the picture. “Just a pwetty lady.”

“She does look pretty,” Johnson smiled. Moving his finger to the smaller figure, he asked, “Who’s that?”

Ellie was quiet for a minute and then she said in a tiny voice, so softly he had to strain to hear her, “A lucky girl.”

Johnson squatted down beside her, resting his arm over the back of the chair. “Why do you call her lucky?”

“Cause she gets to be with her mommy.” Ellie looked at him with her big dark eyes and Johnson felt a stab of regret go through him. She’d never commented before on the fact that she didn’t have a mother. She’d never known one, or ever been in a position to know what having a mother was like. She didn’t watch television. She didn’t play with neighbor kids. All she had ever known was the walls of this apartment and the lab down the hall. The only people she knew besides him were Mary and the occasional research student that he employed in the lab. She shouldn’t really miss something she had never known, but it looked like she did.

“You’re right honey,” Johnson brushed his hand down her long hair. “That little girl in your drawing is lucky to have a mommy, and I’m sorry that you don’t, but you have me.” He saw her eyes cloud over and for a moment he though she was going to cry but then it passed and she gave him a smile. He wrapped his arms around her to give her a comforting hug and after a brief hesitation, he felt her hug him back. As sweet a child as she was, she wasn’t very generous in her affection and she usually shied away from being touched. It warmed him that she was hugging him now.

“Do you want to go to the lab with me, and help me feed the animals?” he asked, knowing how much she enjoyed that. She nodded her head and he rose to his feet, holding his hand out to her. She put her crayon down on the desk and carefully closed the tablet so the drawing wouldn’t get smudged and then she slipped her hand into his. She climbed off the chair and after a wistful look back at the tablet, she followed Johnson out the door.

* * * * *

Carl stood in front of his closet door and looked at the assortment of shirts hanging inside, wondering which one to pick. Choices, choices, so many choices. Michelle used to pick out what he should wear on special occasions, what he picked always seemed to clash. Maybe he was color blind. Maybe he had no fashion sense. Maybe women were just better at that than men.

He reached for a dark green shirt and pulled it off the hanger and carried it over to the full length mirror on the wall next to the bedroom door. He slipped it on and buttoned it up and then frowned at his reflection, not satisfied with the look. His image stared back at him, wearing the long sleeve shirt, a pair of blue and white checked boxers and a pair of black socks that came up to his mid calf.

“Carl,” he told his reflection, “the song ‘I’m Too Sexy for my Shirt’ does NOT apply to you.”

He unbuttoned the shirt and slipped it off and tossed it over on his bed. It joined the three other shirts he had already tossed there. Back at the closet, he decided to try the blue one. Blue was a soothing color, and it complimented the dark color of his hair and his deep skin tone. Besides, hadn’t Rachel said something about blue being her favorite color?

Standing in front of the mirror again, he buttoned the shirt and adjusted the collar and then took a deep breath before letting it out slowly. It was hopeless. He was hopeless. Tonight was going to be a disaster, he just knew it! He’d been giddy when Rachel agreed to go out on a date with him, an actual real live date, but now panic was starting to set in. He was supposed to pick her up in half an hour, and he still couldn’t figure out what to wear. Wasn’t this supposed to be the girl’s problem? God! He was being such a big dumb idiot!

“Blue will have to do,” he told his reflection and then ran a shaky hand through his short dark hair. He returned to his closet and slipped on a pair of black Dockers, tucked his shirt in, found a pair of black dress shoes, and then it was time to decide on a tie. He had a wide assortment of ties, he wore one nearly every day to work and it usually wasn’t hard to pick one, but of course tonight nothing looked right. With all this stress, he was certain he would have big ugly pit stains under his arms before he ever left his apartment. Great impression he was gonna make. Maybe he should call off the date.

He looked toward the phone, giving it serious thought, and he nearly jumped out of his skin when it started to ring. Who the hell could that be? Was it Rachel, coming to her senses and calling off the date? Had she finally woken up and realized she must have been drunk or possessed or insane when she agreed to go out with him? Christ almighty, he had wanted to ask her out for weeks, months, since the moment that he saw her, and now she was breaking the date. Why God? Why?

He crossed over to the phone and his hand hovered over it, prolonging the agony of hearing her sweet voice letting him down gently, saying how nice it was to just be friends, but she really didn’t want to get involved with anyone (meaning him) at this particular time in her life. Stealing himself for disappointment, he picked up the phone and said, “Hello?”

“Detective Montoya?” a deep voice came over the line.

“Yes. Speaking,” Carl answered, going into his detective mode. All traces of his nervousness and indecisiveness and his lack of confidence suddenly vanished. He was good at what he did, assured with his professional skills and the tone of his voice reflected that. It was his personal life that he sucked at.

“This is Mark Wakely, over in Roswell.”

“Yes, hello Mr. Wakely,” recognizing the voice now. “What can I do for you?” Mark Wakely was a private detective in New Mexico that Carl had contacted several months ago.

“Well, it’s more like what I can do for you,” Mark answered cryptically.

“Meaning?” Carl asked, waiting for Mark to get to the point.

“That incident you asked me to look into,” Mark’s voice came back over the line and Carl gave him his complete attention. “I may have found a witness.”

“A witness?” Carl repeated, intrigued but irritated that Mark was dragging this out. “What did you find out?”

“I ran into someone who knows someone that has a sister that works in the nut house up at Brierwood and she says one of the new orderlies has been telling some pretty wild stories about this job he used to have at some government facility outside of Roswell and they were holding this pregnant girl.”

“Are you sure about this?” Carl asked. “It sounds kind of iffy to me. A friend of a friend of a friend . . . it doesn’t sound too reliable.” Even so, the words government facility and pregnant girl and Roswell all sounded like things that might fit the puzzle. Liz had been a teenager at the time, and she had been pregnant, and it was a government facility she had been held in.

“Well,” came Marks reply, “this guy does sound pretty whacked.”

“What do you mean?” Carl asked.

“Well, this guy’s been spouting that the reason the government wanted the girl’s baby was because, get this, the kid wasn’t human! The guy must be as crazy as the loonies he’s supposed to watch over.”

“Must be,” Carl agreed, dismissing the call.

“Anyway, the word is this guy has been talking about how the baby’s father, oh, sounds like he’s not human either, anyway, he tore up the place to rescue his girlfriend and his inhuman progeny and supposedly the angry papa killed a bunch of people using his death ray eyes or something. Anyway, that’s the story this guy’s telling.”

“Really.” Overall, it sounded ridiculous, but there were elements about it that set off his internal alarms. “These kids, what age are we talking here?”

“Well, from the story I’m hearing, they sound like high school kids. Seventeen? Eighteen? Maybe younger.

“When you say he called the baby inhuman,” Carl asked, “exactly what do you mean? Is the guy just nuts?”

“Don’t know,” Mark shrugged his shoulders. Laughing, he snarked, “Maybe it’s a demon, like in that Buffy show.”

“Yeah, whatever,” Carl dismissed the thought. What a load of crap.

“Hey, it’s Roswell. It’s probably aliens, right?” Mark quipped. “So, you want me to check it out or not?”

Carl thought about it for a moment and then against his better judgment he said, “Yeah, go ahead. Let me know if you hear something that actually makes some sense.”

“Okay, boss,” Mark said flippantly. “You’re paying the bills.”

Carl hung up the phone and stood staring, lost in thought for a moment, and then he shook himself out of his daze. What Mark had said was just crazy. Inhuman children my ass. But rumors had a tendency to contain elements of truth, and all Carl wanted was the truth.

What exactly had happened to Max Evans and Liz Parker during those months they had been held captive in that government facility? Why the hell had their daughter been taken from them? What was so special about her that Robert Johnson would want to take her?

So many questions were swirling around in his brain that for the first time all night, Carl didn’t have time to worry about his date with Rachel. Absently, he walked back to his closet and retrieved a belt which he threaded through the belt loops of his pants and grabbed a sports jacket from a hanger. He didn’t even notice that the tweed in the jacket complimented both the black slacks he was wearing and the blue shirt he had spent so much time stressing over. Grabbing his car keys from the dresser where he had tossed them earlier, Carl left his apartment with his mind running in a million directions, making a beeline straight for Rachel’s and a very interesting evening indeed.

TBC . . .

Probably sometime after the holidays

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 17-Dec-2001 4:05:46 AM ]
posted on 24-Dec-2001 3:49:06 AM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17

I've been asked to try to get the next part out before Christmas, so here I am. I'll post this quickly because all those Christmas presents I bought have to be wrapped now, so guess what 'l be doing until dawn!

Captive Hearts
Part 64

Ellie walked between the cages, reaching her little fingers inside every so often to scratch underneath a waiting chin or to pet the fur of a friend that pressed up against the metal squares. The animals were her friends, the only friends she had. They loved her.

It was comforting to know that someone loved her, even if they were hairy and couldn’t talk to her. She loved them all. The monkeys and the cats and the puppies and even the little white rats, they were all she had. The animals were her family, the only family she had in the real world.

That was why her dream world was so much better than what she faced in the real world everyday. The real world wasn’t a good place, but her dreams . . . in her dreams her real Daddy loved her. In her dreams, she could feel her real Mommy’s kisses. In her dreams, she lived in a perfect world.

“What’s the matter honey?” Johnson asked her with concern. Jenny was usually more animated when they came to the lab. Yes, some of the things that he did to her here were unpleasant, but the needle pricks and the blood draws were usually inconsequential compared to the amount of joy she received touching and playing with the animals. She was such a sweet child, and to see her look so sad broke his heart.

“Nuffing,” Ellie answered his question and then she suppressed a yawn. “I tired. I wanna go to sleep.”

“Okay sweety,” Johnson said, looking at how tired her eyes looked. “Let’s finish here and you can go to bed early. Are you sure you feel okay?”

“I just tired,” Ellie told him. He didn’t need to know that her dream world was calling her. She longed to live in the world of her dreams. She had to cherish each and every moment of them now, because soon . . . soon . . . her Mommy wouldn’t be there anymore. She knew that every minute counted now.

Johnson finished quickly, anxious to get back to the apartment. Jenny hadn’t seemed the same lately. Something was wrong, something bothering her, and he didn’t know what it was, or what to do about it. He finished adding fresh water to the cages and then he picked his little girl up and carried her back to her room.

She was asleep by the time her head hit the pillow, and Johnson sat in the chair next to her bed, watching her as she slept. He’d die if anything ever happened to her. She was so special, so precious, he couldn’t imagine a life without her in it.

He watched her through the night and as her eyes began to move under her eyelids he knew she had fallen into REM sleep, the world of dreams. Staring down at her, he couldn’t help wondering if her dreams ever included him.

* * * * *

Max fumbled around with his keys and then gave up in frustration, deciding what the hell good were alien powers if he didn’t use them now and then. Instead of searching in the dark for the right damn key to get in his frigging front door, he could just run his hand over the doorknob and release the lock and he’d be home free. He glanced over his shoulder to make sure no one could see him and then with the coast clear, he used his powers to gain entry to his home.

He closed the door behind him and reached his hand into the bag he was carrying, pulling out the cold container of vanilla ice cream that Liz craved and had begged him to go to the store and get for her. “Liz, honey,” he called out. “I’m home and I got your ice cream.” He didn’t mind dropping everything he was doing to wait on her hand and foot. He’d missed everything when she had been pregnant the first time and he wanted to experience it all, hormones included.

“Liz?” he peered around the corner of the kitchen but she wasn’t there. She must be in the bedroom he decided and put the cold dessert down on the kitchen counter. He retrieved a bowl from the cupboard and a spoon from the drawer by the sink and opened the refrigerator to get the tabasco sauce. She liked to have two scoops so he dished it up, using his finger to push the ice cream off the serving spoon, and then licking it clean with his tongue. “Ummmmmm,” he said appreciatively. He liked vanilla ice cream too.

He sprinkled a liberal dose of tabasco sauce on the sweet dessert and then picked up the bowl and headed for the bedroom. Over the last few months her desire for tabasco sauce had gradually increased until she’d reached the point where she openly craved it. He suspected it had to do with the tabasco sauce supplying some nutrient that Matthew needed.

He hummed softly as he made his way down the hallway, passing Matthew’s room and calling out to his wife around a mouthful of ice cream as he neared the bedroom. “Liz, I have your ice cream. Do I get a reward for dropping everything and running to the store-”

His voice dropped off as he crossed the threshold and his gaze fell on the bed. Liz was stretched out over the covers, already in her nightgown, and sound asleep. Her hand was tucked under her cheek and she looked so peaceful and he didn’t even mind the fact that he’d had to drop everything and run to the store to get her ice cream that she now wasn’t even going to eat.

He walked over to the bed and just started down at her for a moment, taking in the sight of her hair fanning out over her pillow, her cheeks shinning with an inner glow, her lips curved in a slight smile. God he loved looking at her, studying her when she wasn’t aware of it. He could watch her for hours, and sometimes he did. Sometimes, when his depression over Ellie reared its ugly head, Liz was all that kept him from going mad.

He set the bowl down on the nightstand and slowly unbuttoned his shirt. He slipped it from his shoulders and folded it neatly and then walked into the bathroom to put it in the hamper. He used his right toes to help push off his left shoe, and then his left toes to help push off the right and then he unfastened his belt buckle. He pulled his belt free and after hanging it on a hook his hand reached for the button on his pants. He quickly shed his comfortable old jeans, put them in the hamper like a good little husband, added his socks to the dirty clothes, and then made his way back into the bedroom in just his boxer shorts. He climbed onto the bed, being careful not to disturb Liz, and then stretched out beside her, letting his fingers gently stroke through her long, silky hair.

He heard her sigh contentedly and then she turned, rolling onto her back and then her side until she was facing him, still sound asleep. Max didn’t move for a few minutes, not wanting to wake her, so he just lay quietly and stared at her, something he was definitely good at doing. Her breathing was steady and even and Max couldn’t keep his hands from touching her. He touched her cheek, and her lips, and her shoulder and it wasn’t long before his hand was drawn to her full belly.

She was so big now she looked like she was ready to pop and he marveled at how his petite little wife could change so much in such a short period of time. His hand roamed over the expanse of her stomach feeling both scared and excited about Matthew’s impending arrival. Would everything go okay? The birth would take place here at home, right in this bed, but what if there were complications? What if something happened to her, or to Matthew? So many things could go wrong.

The cord could get wrapped around the baby’s throat and strangle him. The placenta could detach from the uterine wall and Liz could bleed to death. The stress of birth could make Matthew’s heart slow or even stop beating. Liz could – stop, STOP, STOP! This is what he got for reading up on complications of childbirth. Now he was a nervous wreck, expecting disaster to strike at any minute.

Of course, it wasn’t surprising given the fact that Ellie’s birth had been a cesarean section and when Max had burst into the operating room to save her she had been lying on a table with blood flowing from the open incision. She’d nearly died that day.

He’d had a lot of bad days in his lifetime, but that day, the day of Ellie’s birth, was one of the worst. He’d found Liz after months of searching, only to reach her as her life was slipping away. He’d barely had the strength to heal her and he’d been forced to choose between saving her life or going after Ellie. He’d made the only choice that he could, but the decision was something that haunted him every day of his life.

Disaster wouldn’t strike this time, would it? Would God be so cruel to put him in a position like that again, where he’d have to choose between Matthew or Liz?

Sensing his father’s tortured thoughts, Matthew pressed up against his palm and sent him a burst of love. Max’s mind was flooded with a sense of wellbeing and the strain and stress and worry fell away. A smile that only the love of his family could cause brightened his face and Max whispered, “Thanks buddy. I needed that.”

Max shifted position, bringing his face closer to Matthew and he planted a kiss in the middle of Liz’s belly. Through their connection, Max sent his love back, and father and son bonded in a way that most of the world would never know. With all the heartache he had faced in his life, when it came right down to it, he really was a lucky man. All he needed to do was find Ellie, and then his life would be complete.

* * * * *

Liz sat on the blanket on the ground with the picnic basket in front of her and she opened it, checking the contents while she waited. Max should be coming with the ice cream soon, and the fried chicken and the potato salad were ready and all she need was her family to share it with.

Sometimes in the dreams she would arrive first, and sometimes Max would, and every once in a while Ellie would be waiting here first. Tonight it was her turn to wait for everyone else. She set the plates out on the blanket with napkins beside them and then she leaned back, enjoying a beautiful summer day. The sun was warm, the breeze was soft and the air was filled with birds singing and butterflies flying and even the occasional bee buzzing by didn’t bother her. She was soaking up the warmth of the day when her heart leapt with joy at the sound that floated to her.

“Mommy!” Ellie cried excitedly when she saw her off in the distance under the clump of trees. She ran across the field of tall grass feeling it brushing against her legs and her knees and the paper that she held in her hand streamed out behind her.

“Ellie!” Liz held out her arms with a smile across her face from ear to ear. The sound of her little girl’s sweet voice was like music to her ears. The sight of her beautiful face was the closest thing to heaven. She watched Ellie as she raced across the field and then covered her mouth with her hand to keep from laughing when the paper Ellie was holding flew out of her hand and she had to go back and retrieve it. Ellie acted like it was the most important piece of paper in the world.

“Mommy!” Ellie cried again as she raced up to Liz and they threw their arms around each other. “Mommy, I hab somefing for you!” she cried excitedly.

“You do?” Liz laughed at this little ball of energy. She settled Ellie into her lap as best she could since she didn’t have much lap left and gave her daughter a kiss on the forehead. “What do you have for me?”

“This!” Ellie said proudly and showed her the piece of paper. It was a large sheet, torn from a drawing tablet and as Liz saw what was on it, her eyes began to fill with tears.

“You drew this for me?” Liz asked as she blinked rapidly. Ellie nodded and then beamed proudly as Liz said, “It’s beautiful Ellie. Just beautiful.”

Ellie enjoyed drawing and Liz had concluded a long time ago that she must get her talent from Max. While the picture was obviously from the hand of a child, with awkward strokes and stilted lines, what she had drawn was unmistakable. Three figures dominated the scene. In the center of the drawing was a grand looking white horse, flying through the blue sky with outstretched wings. A meadow, no, not just a meadow, but this meadow that they sat in now, filled the lower portion of the page. Riding atop the magnificent horse was a woman with long flowing dark hair. In front of her, held securely by the woman’s arms was a young girl, also with equally long dark hair. It was easy to see that the woman was meant to be Liz and the little girl was Ellie.

“Do you like it Mommy?” Ellie asked with her big brown eyes staring up at her mother. “I diddent get to finish it yet, but I wanted you to hab it.”

“It’s beautiful Ellie. I love it.” She didn’t want Ellie to see her cry, but there was something so wondrous and free about the two of them soaring through the air together high above the ground. And then Ellie opened her mouth and the words she spoke touched Liz deep in her heart and she couldn’t contain the tears.

“Someday Mommy, we’ll fly away home.”

* * * * *

Max stood behind the tree, watching Liz and Ellie as they talked and laughed and sang songs together. This time was important, for both of them, and Max was hesitant to intrude. He used to spend a lot of his time hiding behind the trees, watching the world go by, but this time he didn’t mind just being the watcher. After Matthew was born, he knew that he would still have Ellie, but Liz wouldn’t.

The smell of the fried chicken soon caused his stomach to grumble and he smiled inwardly. This was, after all, just a dream so he shouldn’t be smelling anything, but he was. That’s how real their dream world was. He stepped out from behind the tree, drawn by his wife’s excellent cooking and the prospect of being with his two girls.

Ellie caught the movement out of the corner of her eye and excitedly cried out, “Daddy!” She scrambled off of her mother’s lap and raced over to him, launching herself into his arms. “Daddy! Where hab you been?”

“Max, you missed lunch,” Liz teased, knowing how much he liked lunch.

“You didn’t eat it all, did you?” he teased back as he settled Ellie on his hip. “I know you have an appetite for two, but did you leave me at least some crumbs?”

“Max Evans! Are you saying I eat like a horse?” Liz feigned outrage.

“Well is wasn’t me that ate all the chicken,” he shot back, giving Ellie a wink and a smile. He came up and joined Liz on the blanket and Ellie scrambled out of his arms so she could see what he was carrying in the bag he was holding.

“Ice keem!” she cried out happily. “Daddy bwought us ice keem!”

“Here Max,” Liz said tossing him a piece of chicken. “I saved it just for you.”

“Liz, honey, you’re so good to me,” Max smiled sweetly as he bit into the mouthwatering food.

“And don’t you forget it,” she said pointedly and wiped a crumb from his lip.

“Can I hab the ice keem now?” Ellie asked impatiently.

“Of course you can, Ellie,” Liz smiled watching her dance excitedly around the blanket. “While I dish some up for you, why don’t you show your Daddy what you drew for me?”

“Okay!” She ran to the end of the blanket and picked up the drawing that Liz had rolled up and then ran back to Max who was shaking his head at her boundless energy. She unfurled the paper and his mouth dropped open in delight.

“Ellie! That’s so good! Is that you and Mommy?”

“Yep,” she answered matter-of-factly and settled back on her mother’s lap, holding her hands out for her bowl of ice cream. She happily took it and watched Liz as she sprinkled tabasco sauce on top. “Moe,” she told her mother when Liz moved to put the sauce down. “Moe agin,” she instructed and when she was satisfied she said, “’at’s anuff.”

“You like tabasco sauce?” Liz asked and Ellie nodded her head enthusiastically.

“Ebbyfing tastes moe bedder here,” she said and took a big bite.

Liz and Max looked at each other knowing what that meant. Johnson had no way of knowing she needed tabasco sauce in her diet. They would have to try to figure out a way for Ellie to let him know, without giving away the reason why she knew about tabasco sauce in the first place.

Ellie scooped up a spoonful of ice cream and then let the spoon hover in front of Liz’s stomach before snatching it away and smiling at some inner secret. Max watched her for a minute as she repeated the maneuver over and over and then he looked up at Liz, wondering if she understood what Ellie was doing.

Liz gave him a ‘beats the heck out of me’ look and he focused on Ellie and asked, “What are you doing, honey?”

“Maffew’s jealous acause he can’t hab ice keem yet!” Ellie said with a snicker.

Max roared with laughter, seeing a side of Ellie he’d never seen before. She was teasing her brother! Good naturedly, but definitely teasing him about something she could do and he couldn’t. Matthew wasn’t even born yet and sibling rivalry was rearing its head. Matthew might be the lucky one, who got to live with his Mommy and Daddy in the real world, but Ellie could have ice cream and he couldn’t!

TBC . . .

Hopefully, I'll have the next part ready next Sunday.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 24-Dec-2001 4:03:33 AM ]
posted on 31-Dec-2001 3:30:53 AM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17

Well I just got back from seeing Lord of the Rings, and I LOVED it. It’s been years since I read the books, but it all came rushing back to me as I sat in the movie theater watching it play out on the screen!

BelieveInTrueLove, you asked how Ellie knew about Liz’s obsession with Pegasus and how does Ellie know that she won’t have Liz after the baby is born. Ellie and Liz were linked when Liz was pregnant with her and they could ‘talk’ to each other and Liz could share her inner most thoughts. During labor, Liz focused on a water stain on the ceiling that was in the shape of Pegasus, and dreamt of a winged horse coming to her rescue and flying her home. Through the link, Ellie could see and feel all that. After Ellie was born, she and Liz lost the link. Ellie still had it with Max because of their alien biology, but Max had to create a pretend Liz for Ellie in the dream world. When Liz got pregnant with Matthew, she was able to join the dream world, and during that first dream encounter, Ellie told Max her real mommy had come to see her. Ellie knew difference between the Liz that Max created, and her real mommy, when Liz was able to join the dream world. Ellie knows that Liz will not be able to join their dreams after Matthew is born.

So, on with the story . . .

Captive Hearts
Part 65

Carl stood in front of Rachel’s door shifting nervously from one foot to the other while he waited. He’d pressed the doorbell a few seconds ago, but it felt like minutes, no make that hours, had gone by. Had she heard the bell? Was she home? Had she gotten a call from one of her patients and had to go deliver a baby?

He pulled his cell phone out of his pocket to see if he might have any messages. Maybe she’d called to say she couldn’t make it tonight for their date. Maybe – the front door opened wide and Rachel was suddenly standing there, smiling broadly.

“Hi Carl,” she said brightly. “You’re right on time.”

“Hi!” Carl blurted out. She was home, and looking absolutely gorgeous.

Noticing the phone in his hand, she asked, “Do you need to make a call? Do you want to use my phone?”

Carl was spellbound by the way her long ebony hair fell in waves around her face and her eyes looked even greener than usual. Maybe because the silk blouse she was wearing in that rich shade of hunter green really brought out the color of her eyes, or maybe it just complimented her skin tone, or maybe it was because she was really, really, just really, really beautiful. Now he was tongue tied and didn’t know what to say.

“Carl?” Rachel raised her eyebrows. “Did – did you need to use the phone?” My, he was looking handsome tonight. Good enough to – where were they going to eat tonight? He hadn’t said when he’d asked her out to dinner and to see a movie. She had dressed casually, in a blouse and black slacks, something that would be comfortable in the movie theater. Was he going to take her to one of those cop movies that had lots of explosions and crude jokes? There was that new romantic comedy in town, the one staring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, but Carl probably didn’t like romantic comedies. He’d probably want to see that Arnold Schwarzenegger movie –

“Phone?” Carl stuttered and then noticed his cell phone still in his hand. He hastily shoved it back in his pocket and cleared his throat because he was pretty sure what he had just said had come out as a squeak. “No, I don’t need to use the phone. Um, are you ready to go, or do you . . . ?”

Oh God! He could feel the pit stains starting to form under his arms. This was going to be horrible. He’d be stinking like a skunk by the end of the night. She’d probably make up some excuse to cut the date short by the time dinner was over. Why was he doing this to himself? He should never have asked her out. He wasn’t good at this!

And then she smiled. He couldn’t resist her smile.

“I’m ready,” she beamed. “Let me just get my sweater.” She stepped away from the door, telling herself to stop acting like a high school girl going out on her first date. Good Lord! She was a grown woman. She’d dated her fair share of men. These butterflies in her stomach were just ridiculous. But . . . no one had ever made her go weak in the knees before, that is, until she’d met Carl.

She grabbed her sweater off the back of the chair just inside the living room and then told herself to calm down as she stepped out on to the porch. She was so preoccupied with what Carl might be thinking that she almost locked her front door without the benefit of a key. Shoving her hand in her purse to find it, she scolded herself. Now was not the time to show off a little alien hocus pocus.

She turned from the door looking confident and relaxed and Carl wondered if she could tell how nervous he was. They made their way down the concrete path to his waiting car with Carl praying he wouldn’t trip over his feet and land flat on his face. Rachel felt his hand lightly touching the small of her back, guiding her to the car and those butterflies in her stomach were definitely swarming around in there now.

He opened the front passenger door for her and after she was settled in he hastened around to the other side. He slipped in behind the wheel and as he inserted the key in the ignition, he asked, “What’s your poison? Chinese? Mexican? Italian?” Oh my God! Had he just said ‘What’s your POISON?’ Holy Shit! He obviously spent too much damn time with the guys in the Unit! “I mean, where would you like to eat?”

“Anywhere is fine with me,” Rachel assured him. “I’m not picky.”

“Well, we could try that new place over off of Hudson,” Carl suggested. He’d driven by it recently and thought it looked kind of cozy.

“Oh!” Rachel smiled broadly. “The place that has the lace curtains and all the candles?”

“Yes,” Carl smiled back, starting to relax.

“I’ve been dying to try that place.” Carl’s hand was resting on the gear shift between them and suddenly Rachel’s hand was on his arm. She looked at him with her stunning green eyes and added, “That’s just a couple of blocks from my office. Carl, would you mind if we stop there for a minute? I have to go to Mesa to see a patient in the morning and I forgot her file. I left it sitting on my desk. Would you mind?”

“No, I don’t mind,” Carl answered. “We can hit your office first and then go to dinner. And then we can decide what movie to see.” She squeezed his arm with a grateful look on her face and he almost groaned out loud when she moved her hand back to her lap. Maybe tonight wasn’t going to be a disaster after all.

* * * * *

Max’s eyelids began to flutter as he drifted up from the dream. Ellie had been the first to leave their little meadow paradise and he and Liz had sat on the blanket just quietly holding each other, both of them wishing the dream world would never end. Ellie’s ice cream bowl lay empty and lonely near their feet. This was always the hardest part, letting go of the dream and coming back to reality.

Max slowly opened his eyes and focused on Liz, watching her as she continued to sleep. They usually woke up after the dream and talked about Ellie and how she had looked, and what she had said, and how she had acted. Lately, probably because she was pregnant and so tired, she would keep on sleeping. Max missed the little talks they used to have when they would wake up and Ellie was still so fresh in their minds. To his surprise, he saw her eyelids flutter and then she slowly opened her eyes.

“Hi, honey,” Liz smiled through sleepy lids.

“Hi,” he grinned back. He touched his lips to hers because he just couldn’t be this close to her without kissing her and then they both sighed contentedly and snuggled closer. His arm went around her shoulders and her head rested on his chest and his fingers just couldn’t resist stroking through her hair.

“She looked so pretty tonight,” Liz said wistfully.

Max touched her nose with the tip of his finger and said, “She’s the spitting image of you.”

“I didn’t know she could be such a tease,” Liz laughed, picturing Ellie holding the spoon full of ice cream in front of the expanse of her belly, teasing Matthew with it.

“She must have inherited that from you,” Max snarked, “because I’ve never been a tease.”

“And what makes you think I was ever that way?” Liz challenged him.

“Liz,” he stared at her with a ‘Who do you think you’re fooling look’. “I’ve watched you for years. I remember all those times you hid Alex’s lunch when he wasn’t looking.”

“You saw me do that?” Liz laughed in surprise. “He always thought it was Maria!”

“I know,” Max laughed along with her. He had thought she looked adorable when she thought she was being sneaky, back then, so many years ago.

“So, Ellie gets her teasing from me, and her ability to draw from you,” Liz surmised.

“It looks that way,” Max agreed.

“Did you see how good her drawing was?” she asked with wide eyes. He nodded and she felt a lump forming in her throat. “She said, ‘Someday, we’ll fly away home’ when she gave it to me. Oh Max . . .”

“Someday, she will be home, Liz,” Max promised. “We just have to believe that.”

“I do, Max,” Liz vowed. “I really do, but I wish . . .”

“What baby? What do you wish for?” he asked gently.

“I wish I had the drawing. She,” and then her voice began to quiver. Max cupped the back of her head with his hand, giving her all the comfort that he could. “She wanted me to have it,” Liz continued. “She ran across the field with it clutched in her hand, holding it like it was the most important thing in the world – you know, to give me that drawing. Almost like . . . almost like she didn’t want me to forget what she looks like.”

Max could hear the words catch in her throat and he held her tighter, as much to comfort her as it was to comfort himself too. He felt a hot tear drip from her eye onto his chest and the world began to swim in front of his eyes. This wasn’t a hormone induced crying spell. She had every reason to cry and he wasn’t too big a man to cry right along with her. As he held her in his arms, wiping away her tears and whispering soothing words to her, he wondered if there was anything he could do to keep Ellie from slipping away from her.

* * * * *

“This should only take a minute,” Rachel said as she unlocked the front door of the clinic. She pushed the door open and stepped inside and Carl followed along behind her. They crossed the reception area and headed for the back and Carl was impressed when he stepped over the threshold into her office. It was a comfortable office, with flowers in a vase on her desk and painting and drawings of children frolicking and having fun decorating her walls.

One in particular caught his attention and he walked over to stand in front of it. He knew the artist. This painting was done in watercolors and there was no doubt that Max had created it. Liz sat on the edge of a stream with her feet in the water and her skirt hiked up around her knees. Ellie stood next to her knee deep in the water and they both were staring at a frog sitting on a rock in the stream.

“Max gave that to me,” Rachel said, standing next to Carl’s shoulder.

“I could tell it was his,” Carl nodded. “There’s something, well, heartbreaking about it, knowing what I do about the artist and the subjects of the painting.”

“I know,” Rachel commiserated. Just then, her cell phone rang and Rachel reached into her purse to retrieve it. After a short conversation, she turned to Carl and said, “I need to check on something in the records room real quick. This will only take a second. Could you get that file on my desk?”

“Sure,” Carl agreed.

“Thanks,” Rachel smiled as she headed out of the office and across the hall to the room where they kept all the patient records. Raising her voice, she called out, “The name’s Carpenter. Lisa Carpenter. It should be right on top of my desk.”

Carl walked up to the oak desk and saw the file that was lying on the middle of the wood surface and checked the name. Lisa Carpenter. He picked it up and inadvertently caught the edge of the file underneath it. The contents spilled out on to the top of the desk and Carl chided himself for being so clumsy. He set the Carpenter file aside and reached to retrieve the papers that had spilled from the second file when a name jumped out at him. Elizabeth Evans.

He heard Rachel’s footsteps headed back in his direction and Carl hastily returned to papers to the file, hoping Rachel wouldn’t catch him and think he was snooping. The problem was, he really did want to snoop. It was his nature to snoop when presented with unanswered questions, and the lives of Max Evans and his wife Liz were full of unanswered questions.

He shoved the papers back in the file, hoping everything was going back in the right order and it wouldn’t look like it had been disturbed, when one word jumped out at him. Stamped in red ink across the upper portion of one page was the word ‘Hybrid’. What the hell did that mean?

“I’ve got what I need,” Rachel said as she reappeared in the doorway to her office. “Did you find the file?”

“Right where you said it was,” Carl held Lisa Carpenter’s file up so she could see it. He crossed the room to where Rachel stood, and as she turned to leave, with him following right behind her, Carl took one look back at the file left on Rachel’s desk. It sat there, neat and tidy looking, and Carl couldn’t help wondering who had stamped ‘Hybrid’ on Liz’s chart, and what in the world did it mean?

* * * * *

Max lay on his back staring up at the bedroom ceiling and listening to the quiet all around him. Liz had fallen back to sleep and soft little puffs of air tickled his chest with each breath that she exhaled. He smiled, watching her peaceful face as she slept.

He kept thinking about the drawing that Ellie had given Liz in the dream. She had wanted to have it so badly, but of course when the dream ended, the drawing ended with it. But maybe it didn’t have to be that way.

Max extricated his arm from around Liz’s shoulder and then inched away from her carefully so she wouldn’t awaken. She stirred as he tucked a pillow under her head and then she settled back down to sleep. She was tired a lot lately, with Matthew so close to term, and even though it was still early in the evening, he knew she’d probably sleep till morning. He quietly rose from the bed and headed toward the living room, pausing in the doorway to drink in her beauty before making his way down the hall.

He removed his sketchpad and his drawing materials from the cabinet where they were stored and took them to the couch. It was a ritual with him, to wake in the dead of night haunted by memories of the past and longing to hold a little girl with long silky hair and the biggest dark brown eyes. Drawing her image kept her real and reminded him that she wasn’t just a dream.

Tonight, though, he clutched a crayon in his hand and not a pencil. Tonight his strokes were not smooth and defined as was his usual style. Gone was the delicate detail he usually put into his work. The strokes he put on paper were childlike as he recreated Ellie’s drawing exactly as it had flowed from her hand. The horse took shape on the paper, and then the image of a mother protectively holding her daughter. He followed that with an exact rendering of the meadow below the central figures, just as Ellie had drawn it. He put the crayons down, satisfied that his drawing duplicated what Ellie had so proudly given Liz.

It was the best that he could do, the closest he could come to since the original was beyond his grasp. Max placed his hand over the drawing and closed his eyes, thinking someday . . . someday an original drawing by Ellie would hang on his refrigerator. Someday, her laughter would fill the air around him. Someday, he wouldn’t have to just see her in his dreams.

TBC . . .

Look for the next part next Sunday
posted on 7-Jan-2002 3:47:39 AM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17

Author Note: First off,Lynda, thanks for the bump! This board moves so fast, it's always hard to find the thread when a week has gone by. Secondly, I go through the worst withdrawl when the board is acting up! Do you too? Here's to hoping all the problems are worked out! Thirdly, I've been asked a lot for the link to the first 58 chapters of this fic. It's listed at Schurry's site, under fan fic. Look for the name Breathless. Here are the links:


Go here for parts 1 - 20

Go here for parts 21 - 40

Go here for parts 40-59

I hope those work for you! Now, on with the story . . .

Captive Hearts
Part 66

Carl sat in the darkened movie theater trying to pay attention to the action on the screen, but Rachel was kind of making that impossible. They’d had an excellent meal at the cute little restaurant off of Hudson, Rachel choosing the lasagna, a house specialty, and Carl settling for the prime rib. He’d suggested they share a bottle of wine, a nice merlot, but she had declined, informing him that she didn’t drink alcohol.

They talked while they waited for their meal, and they talked while they ate their meal, and then they talked some more, instead of having dessert. Rachel told him about becoming a midwife and Carl filled her in on why he’d decided to become a cop. He surprised himself by actually sounding semi-intelligent, instead of stumbling all over his words like he had feared he would do. At least he hoped he sounded semi-intelligent. She didn’t roll her eyes at him or anything, so he thought he’d done okay.

He thought back to their after dinner conversation while they waited for the check to arrive. She’d made him feel so relaxed, the words were out of his mouth before he’d realized he’d said them . . .

“So Rachel, you’ve never married? I can’t believe no one has snatched you up.” Snatched you up? Snatched you up! Crap! Just when he thought he was sounding intelligent, he throws in a stupid line like ‘Snatched you up’! Christ almighty!

“I’ve been waiting,” Rachel answered, seemingly nonpulsed by his stupid remark.

“Waiting?” Carl barreled on. “Waiting for what?”

“For the right man to come along,” she smiled. “See, I believe that for each person, there’s someone out there for them and if you’re lucky, really lucky, you’ll find that one person that makes you whole. You’re lucky Carl. You found that in Michelle. Listening to the way you talk about her, she was your other half. Your time together was short, but what you had was special. I’ve been waiting for that. I don’t want to just . . . settle.”

Rachel was right. What he had had with Michelle had been special. She had been his whole life, and when he lost her, he lost himself. He was the type of man that when he loved, he loved completely. There was no middle ground. He wondered once again, was a love like that possible to achieve twice in a lifetime? After Michelle died he had thought it impossible, but gazing at Rachel’s face, looking into her beautiful eyes, the impossible didn’t seem so impossible anymore.

“I was lucky,” Carl agreed, “but I lost her a long time ago. If she knew I stopped living after she died, she’d never forgive me for it.”

“Is that what happened, Carl? Did you stop living?” Rachel sympathized, placing her hand over his.

“Yeah,” he admitted for the first time, acutely aware of her fingers touching him. “I did. But that’s in the past. Life seems so full of possibilities now. You have to embrace it, you know? You can’t let the world just pass you by.”

“You’re right,” Rachel smiled, lighting up his world, and then to his regret she pulled her hand away from his . . .

Sitting in the movie theater, he couldn’t help but think back on all the things they’d talked about earlier. Of course, thinking about anything was really hard right now, considering the fact that she was almost sitting in his lap! He’d been quite surprised when she’d suggested they go see the new Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. It was heavy on the Sci-Fi, and he’d just assumed she’d want to see a chick flick.

He thought she’d want to see that movie with Tom Hanks and what’s her name, Meg something or other, but when she suggested the new Terminator movie, who was he to argue about that! And now, here he was, in the dark with Rachel leaning against him and hiding her face against his shoulder every time something nasty happened on the screen, which for his sake was very frequent! A particularly intense scene played out in vivid detail and Carl basked in the feel of her seeking comfort in his arms, of her reaching for his hand and squeezing him tightly, of her face pressed against his arm as she peaked around his shoulder and up at the screen.

Thinking back over this wondrous night, he couldn’t help but smile. He had his arm around Rachel. She was resting her head against his shoulder. Her hand was squeezing his! Yes, life was certainly looking good!

* * * * *

Liz sensed the lack of his familiar warmth beside her and her eyes slowly opened. Her hand automatically reached for him, but the sheets were empty and the covers had been pulled back from the bed. Max wasn’t there. She lifted her head to look at the clock on the nightstand and sighed when she read the time. 1:15 a.m.

She lifted the covers and slipped on her robe before rising from the bed. She walked out of the bedroom and padded silently down the hall and she wasn’t surprised to see Max sitting on the couch in his usual spot. He never slept through the night.

He lifted his head from his sketchbook as she walked into the room and a smile spread over his face. She was beautiful, standing across the room with the light casting a halo around her. She was his angel, and he thanked God everyday that he had her in his life. She floated across the room with a grace not easy to achieve for a woman so close to term and as she stood before him, he found himself filled with desire for her.

Liz stared down into his incredibly handsome face and felt her breath catch in her throat at the smoldering look she saw in his eyes. He always made her melt when he looked at her that way. He was slouched down on the couch, wearing only a pair of green plaid boxers and the light from the nearby lamp highlighted the golden color of his skin. His body was hard and muscular and it always made her heart race when she saw him like this. Slouched on the couch like that, with his legs spread apart, his bare skin shinning and the bulge in his shorts looking so inviting, he simply oozed sex.

Max closed his sketchbook and set it aside on the cushion of the couch. He peered up at Liz with a come hither look in his eyes and he placed his hands on her hips to pull her closer. Liz stood in front of him with his legs flanking her knees and she stared down into his sensual face. His eyes were hooded, almost sleepy looking, and his lips were slightly ajar.

“You going somewhere beautiful?” Max asked in a sultry tone. “You want a ride?” He pulled her down onto his lap and she could feel what kind of ride he meant. She sat on him with her hands spread out over the warm skin of his chest and his palms slid up and down her silky thighs.

“Can you take me where I want to go?” she asked seductively as she settled onto him.

“Oh yeah,” Max answered and moved his hips with a little rocking motion. “I can take you anywhere you want to go, and as many times as you want to go there.”

“Hummm,” Liz said with a smile spreading over her face. “It sounds like a ride I want to take.”

“Then hop on board.” Max was highly aware of the fact that there was very little under her silk robe. She wore no undergarments and the only thing separating her heat from his hard-on was the material of his boxers. Her hips rocked forward playfully and he could tell how aroused she was by the dampness that was soaking into his shorts.

She felt his hand reach for the belt on her robe and he slowly pulled it apart, taking his sweet time while his eyes never left her face. His hands rose to her shoulders and peeled back the robe, letting the silky material fall over his legs. Her nightgown draped around her body and Max could see the way her nipples pressed against the soft material. He soon pushed the sleeves of her gown from her shoulders and the material fell away to expose her breasts, her gorgeous, full, beautiful breasts. She reached for the hem and slowly drew the nightgown over her head and let it fall to the floor. She was sitting on top of him now, in all her naked splendor, with her heart racing in her chest. Being intimate with Max always did this to her.

“Sit up,” he said huskily and as she rose from him he raised his hips to slip his shorts off. She sat back down and her wet heat came into direct contact with his hard shaft. She rocked against him and let out a moan of pleasure at the feel of his aroused state. She moved her hips back and forth, stimulating her sensitive spots as she rubbed along his aroused length. He really was something to see, and touch, and feel. Her hand grasped him gently, stroking along his hard length, fingering the spots she knew were the most sensitive and enjoying the soft groaning sounds that escaped from his throat.

His large hands moved up her thighs and lifted her hips to position himself at her entrance. Her hand guided him along her folds and he slid easily into her. She sighed in satisfaction as he filled her and his hands went to her full breasts, caressing her gently, stimulating her nipples to hard rosy peaks, pleased with the noises he heard escape from her throat. He held his hand out toward the light and it blinked out, sending the living room into darkness. In that darkness, he felt her body become stiff and unresponsive, and all her sensual movements of a minute before had ceased.

“Why’d you do that?” her voice broke the sudden silence.

Uh oh, Max thought. That tone didn’t sound good. His eyes were starting to adjust to the darkness and he could tell she was staring down at him. “What do you mean?” he asked cautiously.

“You know what I mean.”

Oh no. That was bad. Her hands had moved away from his chest and were now resting on her hips, and in the faint light coming from the hallway he was pretty sure she was glaring at him. Think . . . think . . . He felt like he was walking a tightrope, and one false step, one wrong word, was going to put him in the doghouse. Should he keep moving his hips? Should he just sit here and wait for her next move? “Honey-”

“You think I’m fat, don’t you? You don’t want to make love to me with the light on because I look like a beached whale!”

Oh crap, Max thought. He was in deep shit now. It sounded like she was starting to cry and she was lifting off of him and he was starting to get soft and he cringed knowing she knew he was starting to get soft and that she was going take it the wrong way-

“See! I knew it! You turned the light out because you can’t stand to look at me!”

“Liz, no, honey, come back here,” he said wrapping his arms around her to keep her from pulling away from him. He held his hand out to turn the light back on and the soft glow fell across her naked body. “You’re beautiful, Liz, gorgeous. I don’t think you look fat. Not at all. In fact, I’ve been worried that you haven’t gained enough weight.”

“Really?” Liz sniffled as she tried to clutch her robe around her.

“Really,” Max smiled. He stroked his fingers across her cheek and then gently through her hair. He let his hand drop down to her belly, caressing her lovingly through the silky material of the robe. “I think you look beautiful this way. You’re glowing, Liz.”

“Are you sure? I don’t look like a fat cow?”

“No,” he said with a little laugh. “You don’t look like a heifer!” She went to backhand him for making fun of her and he grabbed her hands, pulling her down so he could kiss her. The way she moved against him made him spring to life again and his smile turned into a leer. “See? I’m ready, willing and able.”

Liz smiled down at him and he began to rock his hips again, moving gently inside her. She let her robe fall open and Max once more held his hand out and turned out the light. Even in the dark he could tell she was mad again. She folded her arms across her chest and when she spoke he knew he was in trouble.

“Max Evans, you never turn the light out.” She stretched for the lamp and after turning the light back on she stared down into his embarrassed face. “If it’s not my size, then what is going on?” she demanded.

“Liz, honey, it’s not you. It’s just . . . it’s . . . it’s . . .” Max was stammering and he could see Liz fuming.

“It’s. Just. What?” Liz asked through clenched teeth.

“It’s . . .” Oh God! How was he going to say it with out sounding like an idiot?

“It’s what Max?” If he didn’t tell her soon, Liz decided, she was never going to speak to him again!

“It’s Matthew,” Max admitted with a cringe.

“Matthew?” Liz said in astonishment. “What about Matthew?”

“He’s staring at me!” Max blurted out and Liz gawked at him in amazement. His hands hovered in front of her belly and he rushed on, “He’s right there, just staring at me and it feels like he’s saying ‘What do you think you’re doing Dad?’” He could feel Liz shaking and he frowned as he asked, “Are you laughing at me?”

Liz was covering her mouth with her hand and she was most assuredly laughing at him. She nodded her head and then her shoulders started to shake as she tried to hold it in.

“I swear to God, Liz, it feels like I’m poking him in the head!” Max hastened on. “He’s gonna come out with a big dent in the top of his head!”

Liz threw her head back laughing. Her whole body was shaking and Max decided that that actually felt really good. He was firming up again, and if he could just keep his mind off of Matthew, then there wouldn’t be any problem.

“You’re kind of full of yourself, aren’t you Max?” Liz said and she was still shaking with laughter.

Max looked up at her with narrowed eyes and asked, “What do you mean?” He didn’t think he liked the sound of that. Was she putting down his manhood?

“Max,” Liz said cracking up again. “You aren’t big enough to poke him in the head!”

She was putting down his manhood! His mouth dropped open and he didn’t know what to say. She started laughing even harder and he crossed his arms over his chest in a pout.

“Oh Max,” Liz said leaning forward to soothe his wounded ego. Her hands cupped his face and she said, “You big lovable teddy bear you. Do you know how huge you’d have to be to poke him in the head?” Just saying those words made her crack up again.

“How big?” Max asked, not ready to let the insult go.

“Way big!” Liz exclaimed and held her hands two feet apart in emphasis. “Way bigger than anything I want poking me!”

“You sure about that?” Max asked with a smile starting to relax his face. He pulled her down to him, or as close to him as she could get with a baby between them. He hoped Matthew wouldn’t kick him in the stomach, because that would probably really break the mood.

“I’m positive.” Liz cooed at him. She kissed him softly on the lips and said, “Besides, I like you just the way you are. You’re more than ample, but just not big enough to poke Matthew in the head!”

“You’re making fun of me now, aren’t you?” Max asked and gave her a slow lingering kiss before she had a chance to answer. He lifted her left leg and guided it to his other side and then leaned her sideways until they were both stretched out on the couch. She lay on her back with Max at her side and they both smiled at how well their bodies fit together. This late in pregnancy, with her body so full, positioning could be an adventure. Her legs draped over his thighs and his hip and she let him do all the work. He slid into her easily and he moved slowly and gently, showing her a tenderness that was second nature to him.

He kissed her on the shoulder and his hand cupped her breast to stimulate her desire and to satisfy his need. He stroked her nipple to bring it to a peak and then he rolled it between his finger and his thumb to increase her pleasure. His mouth captured the other and he felt a thrill when she responded with a deep moan. The sounds she made when he made loved to her echoed in his brain and touched him to his very soul.

That he could please her and satisfy her and fulfill her made his life worthwhile. He lived to make her happy. Just to be near her was more than he had ever hoped for when he was young, and now, to love her and be loved by her was the culmination of every dream he had ever experienced, every hope he had ever aspired to, every wish he had ever prayed for.

“Max,” Liz sighed sensually. She placed her fingers under his chin and raised his face to hers, lifting her head from the cushion so that she could reach his lips. His slow and gentle movements were every bit as erotic to her as any of their wilder moments. She could feel the love he felt for her in every touch, every caress, every sweet kiss that he showered her with.

“What?” Max mumbled huskily as her lips touched his. His hand went to the back of her head, supporting her with her hair cascading through his fingers, holding her effortlessly while he gazed into her eyes. He stroked into her deeply and their bodies did a slow burn, with their smoldering passions igniting into an intense flame. His ample manhood filled her tight inner spaces and they moved with a familiar grace.

“I love you Max,” Liz whispered against his lips. “More and more with every passing day.” His heart leapt with joy to hear her say such sweet words and he smiled as he claimed her lips. She was his, and he was hers, and their love would keep them strong no matter what life threw at them. The scent of their desire filled the air and the sounds of their lovemaking echoed all around them.

He heard her moans take on that familiar tone, the one that said she was ready and he thrust into her taking them both to that special place where nothing else existed except the two of them and the love they shared. Her inner walls tightened around him as she came and he filled her with his love, both of them soaring high with shared passions and sighing contentedly as the glow spread throughout their bodies. They clung to each other with their arms and legs entwined, still loving one another with caressing hands and tender lips even after their passion had been gratified.

Max let his hand glide slowly over her silky skin, lovingly touching her shoulder and breast, her thigh and her hip. He laid his head on her chest and the feel of her fingers stroking through his hair was both soothing and calming. Their breathing slowed and his eyes drifted closed, both of them safe and secure in each other’s arms. His hand came to rest on the fullness of Liz’s belly and he smiled as a final thought flashed through his mind before sleep claimed him.

Matthew’s head remained undented.

The next part should be posted next Sunday, provided the board doesn't have any more problems, and my computer doesn't die, which I think it's in the process of doing!

posted on 25-Jan-2002 12:23:16 AM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17

Author Note: I'm going to try to re-post part 67 since it got eaten by the board monsters, and then post the new part 68, that is, IF aol doesn't keep booting me off!

Here are the links to the first 58 chapters


Go here for parts 1 - 20

Go here for parts 21 - 40

Go here for parts 40-59

Lets get to it . . .

Captive Hearts
Part 67

Max could hear the blood curdling sound all around him, the insistent wail that sounded like an animal was in pain, or dying, but he knew it wasn’t an animal. No, he’d heard that sound before and he looked around him, trying to find her. He looked into the distance, trying to see between the trees, but she wasn’t there. He ran through the trails in the woods, hearing the noise rise another octave, a piercing wail loud enough to wake the dead, and in this case, loud enough to invade Max’s dream and yank him back into the real world.

His eyelids slowly opened, and he felt a sense of disorientation. He wasn’t in his bed. It wasn’t the soft cushion of his mattress he was laying on, but rather something harder, rougher, not nearly as comfortable. His eye popped open and the familiar print of the couch filled his vision. A slow smile spread over his face as he remembered why he had fallen asleep here last night, and what he had been doing and who he had been doing it with.

He stretched lazily and yawned, rubbing his hand over his eyes and then peeled back the blanket that Liz must have draped over him. He rose to his feet, listening to that God awful wailing that filled the house and he chuckled good naturedly. He loved his wife dearly. He worshipped the ground that she walked on. She was perfect in his eyes . . . except for one thing.

Liz simply could not sing.

She was the smartest person he had ever met. She was quick on her feet as well as quick in her mind. She could figure out things that left him befuddled. She could hold her own with the top notch scientists in the country, and she wasn’t afraid to openly challenge their views in lively debate.

But as smart and intelligent and astute as she was, none of that could help Liz hold a tune. Even the dogs in the neighborhood protested when Liz started to sing. If he opened his front door right now, he would probably hear half a dozen dogs howling at the top of their lungs, begging her to stop.

Max yawned and stretched again, standing next to the couch in the living room without a stitch of clothing on. He looked around the floor but Liz must have picked up his boxers when she got up because they were nowhere to be seen. His hands rubbed over his chest as he turned to walk toward the bedroom, in the direction of his musically challenged wife.

As he neared the bedroom he could hear the insistent wailing coming from the bathroom and Max knew Liz was singing in the shower, something she did frequently much to the displeasure of the afore mentioned neighborhood dogs. He shambled in that direction, drawn by the grating noise that filled the house, absently letting his hand fall from his chest and down his flat stomach. His fingers scratched through the dark, kinky hair below his navel before closing around his male organ and giving it a good tug.

Stepping into the bathroom he made a beeline for the toilet, raised the lid, did his business and then dutifully lowered the lid when he was done. Liz’s voice suddenly jumped an octave when he flushed the toilet and he snickered and mumbled, “Oops!” He turned back toward the shower seeing Liz’s indistinct body through the shower door while her voice echoed around the room.

“I’m so excited, and I just can’t hide it, I’m about to lose control and I think I like it!” Liz was belting out the song at the top of her lungs. Why she was singing this song, he had no idea, but he sure liked the words. Stroking his manhood, he could feel himself stirring to life. Yes, he was getting excited, and no, he certainly couldn’t hide it! He had to admit that the words of the song had merit, even if the tune was lacking.

Max crossed the bathroom and opened the door to the shower, watching Liz as the water cascaded over her naked flesh and left her glistening all over. Her back was arched as she tilted her head back into the water, letting it drench her hair while she belted out old tunes. Her eyes were closed as she enjoyed the moment and Max stood transfixed by how beautiful she looked.

Their first time together, that day when they had still been held hostage back in the institute and they had finally given in to their desires, had been in a shower not so different from this one. They’d surrendered their virginity to each other that day, and though Max had many regrets in his life, loving Liz Parker was not one of them. She had made the first move, coming to him unexpectedly, both of them naked and vulnerable and when he had seen her he knew he couldn’t resist her anymore. When she joined him in the shower, when his hands touched her skin, when the flesh of his body came into contact with hers, he knew there was no way to stop what they both wanted. In the stark whiteness of their prison they had made love for the first time, finding the comfort and unity that both of them wanted and needed.

Ever since that day when they had given in to all the pent up emotion that they had tried to keep hidden, showering together had become highly erotic for them and today was no exception. Looking at her nude body with the water cascading over her skin, listening to her sing about how excited she was, Max was unable to hide his own excitement.

“Do you need any help?” Max asked when she mercifully stopped singing. Her eyes opened wide, surprised to see him standing there, but obviously pleased as a smile spread over her face. “Do you need my help washing anything?” Max wiggled his eyebrows suggestively.

“As a matter of fact,” Liz smiled wider as Max stepped into the shower and pressed his body against hers. She lifted the shampoo bottle off the shelf and said in a sultry tone, “You could wash my hair.”

“I have to say good morning first.” Max took the shampoo out of her hand and placed it back on the shelf. Cupping her cheeks between his hands he leaned down and touched his lips to hers in a long and tender kiss. Her hands went around his waist and then dropped down to cup the cheeks of his muscular butt, touching him in ways she knew he enjoyed.

“I like how you say good morning,” Liz mumbled against his lips.

Max nipped at her lower lip and then she felt him turn her away from him until her back was to his chest. She could feel his manhood firmly poking into her back and then he stepped away, reaching for the shampoo bottle. The air filled with the smell of strawberries as he poured a generous amount into the palm of his hand and massaged it through her hair. His fingers massaged her scalp next, causing a groan of pleasure to escape her lips and Max smiled in satisfaction. He loved running his hands through her hair and listening to the sounds his actions elicited from her throat. He turned her back around and leaned her head back into the stream of the shower, rinsing the soap from her dark hair. She could feel his hardness against her belly now and as her hand closed over him it was his turn to groan.

He reached for the soap and asked, “What else needs washed?” His tone was light, innocent, but the look in his eyes was far from that. They were glowing with desire, reflecting the fire that was building inside of him, a fire that always raged within him when he was close to Liz like this.

“I think my back could use some attention,” Liz said throatily.

“Let me take a look.” He turned her away from him again and lifted her wet hair, piling it onto her head and securing it there with a little alien magic. His hands settled on her shoulders and then she felt his lips touch her skin, first at the base of her neck and then behind her left ear and then down the side of her throat. His lips kissed a trail along her shoulder and then moved down her back, running his tongue along her spine.

He kissed each cheek of her round bottom, nipping at her with his teeth just a little and smiling as she let out a groan of pleasure. His hand slid between her legs, teasing her just a little more and then his lips moved back up her spine until he reached her neck once more. Sucking on her skin gently he reached for the soap and said huskily, “You taste clean to me, but just to be sure, I’ll wash you anyway.”

Liz closed her eyes, enjoying the feel of Max’s large hands so gently caressing her as he lathered the soap over her skin. His thumbs massaged the tense muscles at the base of her skull and then moved down to her shoulders, massaging and caressing her until she was putty in his hands. By the time he reached her backside, and gently kneaded the cheeks of her ass, she was quivering with desire for him. His soapy hand slid between the crease of her butt leaving no part of her untouched and then he was once again teasing her folds with his intimate touch.

A groan of protest escaped her lips when he withdrew his hand and he turned her around so they were once more face to face, with his erection tickling the underside of her protruding belly. He looked at her with a sly smile and said, “I have to check this side now.”

He leaned down and took her mouth in a heated kiss before abruptly pulling away and kissing a trail down her throat. He kissed along her collarbone and then down her chest until he reached the round globes of her breasts. She was undergoing changes now as her body prepared for Matthew’s birth and her breasts were full and firm, with highly sensitized nipples. He sought one out, circling it with his tongue as it formed a rigid peak and then he sucked it into his mouth.

Her hands pulled at his hair as she reacted to his expert ministrations, arching her breast into his mouth and moaning with intense pleasure. He moved to the other side, flicking his tongue over that nipple, back and forth, round and round, until she was nearly whimpering. Leaving her begging for more, he abandoned her nipple and drew his tongue over the fullness of her belly, down along the underside and on below the patch of her dark curls.

The fullness of her ripe body made loving her a challenge, but Max was up for the endeavor. He eased her legs apart and his tongue darted between her feminine folds, flicking over the swollen mound just inside those lips. He couldn’t reach everything he wanted to touch from this angle, but it was close enough to achieve the desired results. She was so sexually aroused it only took a minute for his tongue to work its magic and her hands clutched at his hair as his mouth sucked at her until she came. Both of them smiling in satisfaction, Max rose to his feet and said, “Everything tastes clean to me.”

“Max . . .” Liz murmured. He could do the most wondrous things to her. Her nipples were throbbing, her feminine core was trembling, and she wanted him in the worst way. She didn’t care if she was as big as a house, she wanted to feel him inside her, pounding into her relentlessly, reaching deep inside her, coming dangerously close to denting Matthew’s head. “Max, I want you . . .”

“I want you,” Max breathed out and he pulled her close to him, only to realize that that position wasn’t going to work. He couldn’t pick her up and sink into her like he usually did, there was too much baby in the way. No, their normal lovemaking practices didn’t apply anymore.

“Lift your leg,” Max suggested as he tried to maneuver his throbbing sex close to hers.

“Wait . . . that’s not going to work . . . try this . . .”

“I can’t bend that way . . .”

“Move a little to the left, Max . . .”

“Liz, come back this way . . .”

“Aw, aw, awwwwww . . . leg cramp!”

“Is that better now Baby?”

“Oh Max, you’re so good to me. Now give me what I want!”

“I’m trying honey! Now come here. Lean down this way . . .”

“Max! You’re gonna make me drown!”

“What about this way?”

“The blood is rushing to my head . . .”

“Is that bad?”

“Well after I pass out I guess you can do any damn thing to me that you want.”

“Okay, forget that way, how about like this? Is that better?”

“Oh Max! Oh God! Yes, just like that . . . don’t stop . . . don’t stop . . . Max, why are you stopping?”

“Cramp! Cramp! Can you heal me now?”

“Max, this is hopeless . . .”

Max waved his hand over the shower wall, creating a seat that hadn’t been there before. He sat on it gingerly and tested it for the right height before smiling up at Liz. He pulled her close to kiss her and then turned her around, pulling her back onto his lap. His erection pressed insistently into her back and Max effortlessly lifted her hips until she was hovering over him. Her legs straddled his and he slowly lowered her onto his raging erection. She let out a sigh of pleasure as he sank into her, matched by the sigh that escaped his throat as her body closed around him.

She leaned her back against his chest, happy to let him control their movements as she sat on his lap with his hands holding her hips and rocking her body as he thrust up into her. He reached for the soap and lathered his hands, running his slippery palms over her breasts and her belly and then dipping his fingers between the folds of her sex. Her mound of nerves was swollen with desire and as he stroked her the mewing sounds in her throat rose in intensity. He smiled, thinking this sound was much better than her singing.

Her hand covered his, feeling how he stroked her and then she moved lower, on down to the place where their bodies were joined and she paused there to feel how his hard shaft slid easily in and out of her body. He groaned with heightened pleasure as she touched him and his mouth closed over her throat, sucking at her skin and nipping at her with his teeth. Her hand moved past the place of their joining and he spread his legs wider as she cupped his tight balls. He inhaled sharply as her fingers pressed against the sensitive skin behind his sacs and his thrusts took on a greater urgency. She knew just how to make him lose control, how to make him crazy, how to drive him to heights of passion he never thought possible.

His arms surrounded her, holding her close with one hand stimulating her breasts and the other stroking her swollen nub while he drove his shaft up into her sweet body. He was close, oh so close to paradise, and he used all his willpower to wait for her to come with him. She was arching her breast into his hand now as she moaned loudly, needing only that final push to send her over the edge. He moved his fingers in a faster tempo between her lower lips and the combination of his hard shaft drilling against her tight walls and his fingers dancing over her nub and her nipples sent her to that special place.

She keened loudly as her orgasm exploded through every fiber of her body. Her muscles contracted around his shaft, squeezing him rhythmically while at the same time her hand tightened on his balls. His seed spurted from his body as he let himself go, filling her inner chamber with his juices while his mouth clamped down on her throat, holding her tightly as their bodies shuddered together in bliss.

“Oh Max . . .” Liz sighed and relaxed against his chest, feeling incredibly satisfied.

“That was . . . an adventure,” Max managed to say as he gasped for breath. The back of her head rested on his shoulder as she looked up at him with adoring eyes and he just had to kissed her on the nose. His arms lovingly surrounded her with his large hands caressing her belly and he asked, “What do you want to do today beautiful?” It was Sunday, and they had the whole day to themselves.

“I thought maybe we could rearrange Matthew’s room,” Liz said with a twinkle in her eyes.

“What?” Max said sharply with his eyes starting to bug out of his sockets.

“I’m kidding!” Liz laughed.

“Thank God!” Max sighed in relief. He lifted her to her feet and they rinsed off together and then he carefully helped her from the shower so she wouldn’t slip. He wrapped her in an oversized towel and then he grabbed another and secured it around his waist. She busied herself in front of the mirror, combing through her long wet hair and in the reflection she could see the smile on Max’s face as he watched her.

“What?” she said, turning to look at him over her shoulder.

The intensity in his eyes softened as she met his gaze and he crossed the bathroom to stand behind her. He wrapped his arms around her full body and his lips nuzzled next to her ear as he murmured, “Do you know how much I love you?”

She nodded her head, feeling the warmth of his body all around her. “You let me know everyday,” she affirmed. “I see it in your eyes, and I hear it in the sound of your voice. I know it without you ever even saying anything, but it’s certainly nice to hear it too.”

He turned her around to face him and her hands rose up to cup the sides of his face. He looked at her with eyes that saw only her and he brushed his fingertips over the delicate skin of her cheek. “Having you in my life has made me what I am. You and Ellie and Matthew, you’re all that matter to me.” Her response died in her throat as his eyes grew wide and with a boyish grin on his face he grabbed her arms and said, “Wait right here! Don’t move!”

He rushed from the bathroom and she took a tentative step in that direction, wondering what he was doing. His voice rose as he shouted, “I said don’t move!” and Liz stopped in her tracks, shaking her head at how well he knew her. She could hear him rustling around in the bedroom and then he was back, standing in the bathroom doorway with an expectant look on his face.

“What are you doing, Max?” she asked with bated breath. A half smile played at her lips as she anxiously awaited the answer.

“Close your eyes,” he said as he moved into the bathroom. She did as instructed, trusting him completely, and he came up beside her, wrapped his arm around her and guided her out into the bedroom. He brought her to a stop near the foot of the bed and he kept his arm around her as he said, “Now open your eyes.”

Her eyes popped open and she saw it immediately, tacked to the wall above the dresser. She sagged against him and her voice trembled as she asked, “How did . . . when . . . where did it come from?”

He could see the tears in her eyes as she stared transfixed at the new drawing on the wall. “I did it last night, when I couldn’t sleep. I recreated it just like Ellie drew it. I knew how much it meant to you, and how sad it made you when the dream ended and you didn’t have the drawing anymore. I know it’s not the same one that she drew for you, but it’s as close to the real thing as I can make it.”

“Max . . .” she whispered in a quivering voice. Her hands had risen up to cover her mouth and she couldn’t take her eyes off the image of her and Ellie riding on the back of a white, winged horse. He had recreated her drawing perfectly and a tear fell down her cheek as she remembered how much Ellie wanted her to have it. Liz turned her shimmering eyes to Max and said, “You did this for me, Max?”

“Yes,” was his simple reply and he brushed the tear off her cheek. She buried her face against his chest and he wrapped his arms around her, silently vowing, ‘I’d do anything for you, Liz. I’d move the heavens and the earth if it was in my power, just to make you happy.’

Part 68 comin up . . .

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 25-Jan-2002 12:31:30 AM ]
posted on 25-Jan-2002 12:27:06 AM by Breathless
Captive Hearts
Part 68

Max opened the refrigerator door and took out a couple of cans of cherry coke and added them to the small ice chest he was in charge of packing. Liz was busy making the sandwiches and putting them inside zippered plastic bags so they would stay fresh. They had decided to drive up to Lake Pleasant to have a nice picnic lunch, despite Max’s reservations.

He added a couple of bottles of water to the ice chest and was just opening the freezer to grab the ice when a spasm rippled through his lower abdomen. His head snapped in Liz’s direction and he saw her flinch and her hand rubbed across the underside of her belly.

“Liz?” he rushed to her side and placed his hand next to hers. “Are you okay?”

“Braxton Hicks contraction,” she managed to say and then took a deep breath as it passed.

“Are you sure?” he asked worriedly.

“Positive,” she smiled up at him. She cupped his cheek with her hand and added, “Don’t be such a worry wart.”

“I can’t help it,” he flashed a nervous smile. “Maybe we should just stay home.”

“Max,” Liz looked at him and sighed. They already had this conversation. “It’s not that far to the Lake.”

“But what if you go into labor and we can’t get ahold of Rachel and we’re stuck up at the lake and the car breaks down and the cell phone won’t work and there’s no one around for miles and miles-”

“Max, calm down,” Liz tried to soothe him. “Matthew’s not due for at least two weeks. I’m not in labor, and do I need to remind you that labor actually goes on for several hours so we’ll have plenty of warning? A little drive out into the country isn’t going to hurt me, and it’s not like the lake is outside of the civilized world.”

“We could just go to the zoo instead,” Max suggested. “It’s closer. It has lots of bathrooms.”

“Very funny,” Liz rolled her eyes. With Matthew pressing on her bladder the way he was lately, it felt like she had go to the bathroom about every five minutes.

“We could -” and then the phone rang and Max turned away saying, “I’ll get it.” Liz watched him as he crossed the kitchen, wondering who it might be. It didn’t take long to find out.

“Hello?” Max said as he lifted the phone to his ear. “Oh, hi Carl. How’s it going? How was your date with – what? Where? You want me to meet you there? Right now? Sure . . . yeah . . . yes . . . I can be there in about twenty minutes. Yeah . . . no . . . no, that’s okay. Liz understands. Okay. Twenty minutes. Yeah. Bye.”

He hung up the phone and turned to Liz with an apologetic look on his face. “That was Carl.”

“I gathered that,” Liz replied. “What’s going on?”

“A little girl disappeared in Coyote Canyon Park a couple hours ago. He wants me to meet him there.”

“Oh Max, that’s awful.” She felt a shiver pass through her. “Does he think . . .?”

“That she was abducted?” he finished her question. Liz nodded and Max tried to turn her thoughts from their own nightmare. “Maybe she just got lost, and I can help find her. Maybe she’ll be home with her family before lunch. I’m sorry about our picnic-”

“Oh don’t worry about that,” Liz shrugged it off. She crossed over to him and hugged him tightly, finishing off with a quick kiss before pointing him toward the front of the house. “You better go. Carl will be waiting for you.”

“Are you going to be alright? Here, all by yourself?” Max asked her as they reached the front door. He was still worried about that contraction they had felt.

“Of course I’m going to be alright,” she scoffed. “In fact, I’m going to call Maria and ring up an outrageous phone bill! I’ll see if she and Michael have set the date yet.”

“Okay,” Max smiled picturing Michael saying ‘I do” in front of a church full of people. “I’ll be back as soon as I can. Maybe we’ll still have time to do something together.” He kissed her, hating to leave her alone like this but knowing that Maria would talk her ear off, and then he hastened out the door to see if he could help a little girl in trouble.

* * * * *

Mary gathered together her grocery list for the week and picked up her purse, checking to make sure she had enough cash. The good doctor always left a generous amount of money for the weekly purchases, more than adequate for just the three of them. She tucked the grocery list in the outside flap of her purse, smiling at the picture Jenny had drawn at the top of the page. The child had such an imagination. Flying horses indeed!

She left the small apartment and stopped at the lab on her way out. “Doctor, I’m leaving now,” she informed him from the doorway.

He raised his head from the microscope and said, “Have a good visit with your sister. We’ll see you this evening.”

“Bye Jenny dear,” Mary smiled at the sweet child. She was sitting on the floor with a guinea pig on her lap and petting its soft fur.

“Bye,” Ellie smiled and moved the guinea pig’s paw in a waving gesture.

“Oh, I made sandwiches for lunch and put them in the refrigerator,” she hastily added before she left. “And there are cookies on the counter, fresh out of the oven.”

“Thank you Mary. What would we do without you!” Johnson smiled. “Have a good time and don’t worry about us. We’ll muddle through somehow, right Jenny?”

“Wight,” Ellie went on petting Mr. Wiggles.

Mary closed the lab door and ambled down to the elevator that would take her up to the main floor of the building. Once outside, she crossed the street to catch the bus that would take her to Marty’s Market where she would place her order for tomorrow’s delivery. After that task was complete, she would travel the short distance to the nursing home to spend the afternoon with her sister. She hoped Martha would be lucid today.

As she crossed the street she couldn’t help but notice the police activity in the park. Lights flashed atop patrol cars and there was a fire engine and even an ambulance. Someone must have gotten hurt. What a shame. She hoped it wasn’t serious, but with so many police officers around, she couldn’t help but wonder just how bad it was.

* * * * *

Max pulled to a stop just inside the park and climbed from his old but trusty jeep. He knew it would be impractical to keep it once Matthew was born, but he was having a hard time letting it go. He had a lot of memories tied up in this jeep. Some were good. Some were more than good. Some were really, really good, like that time that he and Liz made out in the back seat out at Buckley Point. Other times were not so good, like the time they drove out to Mirror Lake, the day their world went crazy.

He closed the door and scanned the area, looking for Carl. There were uniformed police officers evident throughout the park and Max saw several members of the Search and Rescue Unit. Looking at them closely, he wasn’t seeing any smiling faces. He noticed Carl standing with a group in the distance and he made his way across the grass in his direction.

“Max,” Carl called out as he neared. “I’m glad you’re here.”

“I take it she hasn’t been found yet,” Max said as he came to a stop with his hands in his pockets.

“No,” Carl shook his head. Without further small talk he jumped right into the matter at hand. He handed Max a 5 x 7 picture of a pretty young girl with blonde hair and blue eyes. “Her name is Cindy Morgan. She’s four years old. She was playing on the swings with some other kids, her mother turned away for a minute to attend a younger child and when she looked back, Cindy was gone. We’re still trying to round up everyone that might have seen something.”

“Is that the mother?” Max asked, looking in the direction of a distraught woman in her mid twenties.

“That’s her,” Carl nodded. “Max, what I need you to do right now is canvas the west side, show the child’s picture and see if anyone recognizes her. Get names and phone numbers. Keep your eye open for anyone that might look suspicious. Maybe Cindy just wandered away, maybe she was taken. We just don’t know yet.”

Max took the picture and headed to the west side of the park, hoping that this search would end quickly, with a happy ending for that poor mother he had seen a minute ago and a pretty little girl that was too young for bad things to happen to her.

* * * * *

“What happened here?” Mary asked the nice looking young couple that was watching the proceedings with interest.

“A little girl disappeared from the park this morning,” the woman responded.

“Did they find her yet?” Mary asked, frowning with concern.

“Doesn’t look like it,” the young man replied. “Look honey,” he turned to the woman beside him. “We should probably go. Your mom was expecting us an hour ago.”

Mary watched them move off and then she turned her attention back to all the police activity in the park. She gave a silent prayer that the child would be found safe and sound while she sat on the bench waiting for her bus to arrive.

* * * * *

Max approached a gathering of teenagers that were standing around in a tight circle and he reached into his back pocket to retrieve his police identification, clearing his throat as he neared the group. Something struck him as he stared at the young faces, kids that weren’t that much younger than him. They were sixteen, seventeen, maybe even eighteen, and at the ripe old age of twenty, Max felt ancient compared to them.

He flashed his identification and spoke authoritatively, “I need to ask you a few questions.” Holding up the picture of Cindy Morgan, Max began, “Have you seen this child?”

After determining that these kids had neither seen nor heard anything significant, he jotted down their names and phone numbers in the small memo book he kept for field work such as this. He made a few notes as he stepped away and then his eyes swept across the landscape. There was a woman standing on the sidewalk with two children, a boy and a girl, watching the police activity. Not far from her was a middle aged couple, doing the same. Further down the sidewalk was an elderly woman sitting on a bench under a transit bus sign. Max decided to start with the mother and her two children.

* * * * *

A quick look at her watch told Mary her bus should be arriving any minute. Checking her grocery list she noticed that she had forgotten to add applesauce, a favorite of Jenny’s, so she reached into her purse to retrieve a pen. She couldn’t find it at first, so she set her list on the park bench and opened her purse wide.

“There you are!” she exclaimed as her fingers closed over the barrel of the pen and she pulled it from her purse. “I knew you were hiding in there somewhere!”

Just as she reached to lift the grocery list off the bench, a sudden gust of wind sent the paper flying. “Oh goodness!” Mary exclaimed and lifted her bulk off the bench to chase it down.

* * * * *

Max finished with the woman and her children who obviously hadn’t seen anything and turned to the middle aged couple on his right. He might as well interview them next. Movement to his left drew his attention and he saw the elderly woman he had noticed earlier on the park bench struggling to chase down an errant slip of paper that was eluding her grasp.

She looked like she was struggling to grab it and Max quickened his pace to give her a hand. As he drew near he could see that the paper had writing on it and as it flipped end over end he could see bright crayon strokes, though he couldn’t quite make out the drawing. His hand stretched out to grab it, just seconds too late.

Mary’s hand clamped down on the wayward slip of paper with a triumphant shout just as a shadow fell across her. She looked up, seeing only the glare of the high sun, embarrassed to be seen in such an undignified position. A voice, sounding as sweet as honey drifted down to her.

“Do you need any help?” Max asked with concern. The elderly woman’s face was red from the effort of chasing down whatever it was that she was chasing down, and Max fleetingly wondered if she was going to have a heart attack or a stroke or some other calamity right here on the sidewalk. Well, if she did, there were plenty of paramedics milling about the park just waiting for something to do.

“Oh, I’m fine young man,” Mary answered. “But thank you for your concern.” She struggled to her feet and Max put out his hand to help her but she just waved it off. “Goodness me!” she exclaimed as she rose from the ground to her feet.

“Ma’am,” Max said, flashing his identification. “We’re investigating the disappearance of a child in the park this morning.” Showing her the picture of Cindy Morgan, he continued, “Have you seen this child? Did you happen to notice anything strange or unusual around here this morning?”

“Oh what a beautiful child,” Mary lamented as she looked at the picture. “You say she’s missing? Oh sweet Mary and Joseph, say it isn’t so.”

“I’m afraid it’s true,” Max said, for some reason taking an instant liking to this woman. Maybe it was because she reminded him of his own grandmother, or maybe it was because she seemed to have such a gentle nature. Whatever it was, there was just something about her, something that made him want to follow her right back to her home to eat warm cookies and drink chocolate milk.

“What has the world come to?” Mary asked as she shook her head.

“Do you live around here Ma’am?” Max asked, flipping open his memo book.

“Why, yes,” Mary nodded, “yes I do. Right across the street.” A rumbling reached her ears and she looked down the street exclaiming, “That’s my bus. I’m sorry I couldn’t be of any help. I hope you find that dear sweet child.”

The bus came to a stop beside them and Mary ambled toward the open door. As she lifted her foot to step into the bus, Max asked, “Can I get your name and phone number, just in case we have any questions for you?”

“Certainly,” she watched Max as he wrote in his memo pad. “The name’s Connor. Mary Connor. My phone number is 555-2775.”

“Thank you Ma’am,” Max said politely as he closed the notebook and watched her climb aboard the bus. With a whoosh of the air brakes, the bus pulled back into traffic and Max was left staring at the buildings across the street. He wondered which apartment building she lived in. He could almost smell the cookies in the air.

If the board Gods and aol are kind, I will post the next part on Sunday night. And if t doesn't snow and I don't lose my power

posted on 28-Jan-2002 2:51:52 AM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17

Author Note: Well it did snow here in the Great Northwest, but luckily my power stayed on so I can post away.

A quick note to ladylou. You asked why Ellie has never mentioned Mary. But my dear, she has! Back in part 54, Carl is at Max's house, celebrating Max's 20th birthday, when he happens to overhear a conversation Max is having with Daniel and Josh:

“Have you gotten anything else? Places? Names? Anything?”

“No, she hasn’t given me any clues at all except the one name she let slip out. Mary. When I press her for information, the connection, well you know . . . ”

Now, as far as Ellie drawing a picture of Mary that Max could recognize, remember, Ellie is only 2 and a half years old! She doesn't have the skill yet to draw an image in that great a detail.

Oh! I almost forgot the links to parts 1 to 58:


Go here for parts 1 - 20

Go here for parts 21 - 40

Go here for parts 40-59

Captive Hearts
Part 69

Max met up with Carl near the playground inside the park and as the older man looked at him expectantly, Max shook his head. “Sorry Carl, I drew a blank. No one I talked to saw anything. They were attracted by all the activity going on. No one saw or heard anything.” Max felt as disappointed as Carl looked. They both wanted a good outcome to this missing child case, but neither one thought it was going to turn out that way.

“Did you get names? Phone numbers?” Carl asked.

“Yeah,” Max nodded and slipped his memo book into his shirt pocket. He turned toward the swings that stood lonely and cordoned off, and made his way slowly in that direction. Carl watched him with interest, following behind him but keeping his distance so Max wouldn’t feel crowded. He had such an intense look on his face, Carl couldn’t help but wonder what his young partner was going to do.

“Which swing was she last seen on?” Max asked, knowing that Carl was right behind him.

“The one on the left,” Carl answered.

Max moved in that direction, feeling the sand shift under the weight of his shoes. He hesitated as he came up beside the swing and took a quick glance around, relieved to see that only Carl was paying any attention to him. He swallowed hard, feeling a sense of dread, and then slowly lifted his hand and grasped the chain of the swing.

Images assaulted him, one after another and Max had to strain to sort through them. The sound of laughing children filled his head, images of kids flying through the air shouting for joy, mothers and fathers looking on with smiling faces. This was a place of fun and giggles and tummies that tickled.

Carl stood stock still, transfixed by the changing expressions on Max’s face. His hand clutched the chain of the swing so hard that his knuckles were turning white. His body trembled slightly and his eyebrows were knitted together in a frown, as if he was under a great strain. The frown softened and then a slight smile creased his lips, followed by a near grin, which then disappeared as his face transformed into a mask of dread and fear.

An image of a small girl, with blue eyes and blonde hair filled his mind and Max concentrated as the scene played out. She was pumping her legs trying to get the swing to move and not making much headway. She called out to her mother, “Push me, Mommy! Push me!” but she was busy changing her brother’s diapers. “Silly baby. Pooping in his diapers.” She was a big girl. She didn’t wear diapers anymore.

In the vision, Max saw Cindy slide from the swing and then fall to her knees as she lost her footing in the sand. When she looked up, a smile spread over her face at the sight of a little gray kitten over by a scrub of trees not too far away. She abandoned the uncooperative swing and ran off to play with the kitten. Maybe her mommy would let her take it home. She ran off toward the trees, forgetting her mother’s rules.

Max opened his eyes and pulled his hand back from the swing. Without a word he headed off in the direction Cindy Morgan had gone, just a few hours ago. Carl followed behind, wondering what Max was doing, but not wanting to interfere. He hadn’t forgotten the day in Maryvale Hospital when Max told him he was clairvoyant, and he wondered if Max was seeing something now.

“She went this way,” Max broke the silence and his long strides quickly took him over to the trees at the northern edge of the park.

Carl followed on his heels, watching how his hands touched the shrubbery all around him, as if he was feeling for something. Watching Max, Carl was intrigued by him. He’d known him for months now, but in some ways it felt like Carl didn’t know him at all.

Max stood amongst the wildflowers trying to pick up the trail. He knew Cindy had gone this far, had followed the kitten into the trees, but where had she gone after that? If he could find the path she had taken, it might lead him right to her. His hand brushed over a leaf and an image invaded his mind causing him to inhale sharply.

“Max, what is it? What do you see?” Carl asked as he rested his hand on the younger man’s shoulder. He’d always been a practical man, never prone to fanciful pursuits or mystical beliefs and a year ago he would have scoffed at bringing in a clairvoyant to work on one of his cases, but that had been before he met Max Evans. Seeing Max in action, Carl was ready to believe just about anything.

“She fell,” Max spoke in the hushed air. “She was chasing a kitten and she ran into the trees and she tripped on something and she fell.” Carl felt a shiver go up his spine as Max related the events that had happened to little Cindy Morgan, never doubting him for a second. “She stood up,” Max continued, “and the kitten ran deeper into the trees and Cindy chased it.”

Max quickened his pace, retracing the steps that Cindy had taken. The underbrush thinned out and suddenly Max was standing at the top of a steep ravine sprinkled with cacti and scrub grass. He squatted down, dropping to his knees, trying to pick up the trail and his body shook as another vision assailed him.

“Kitty!” Cindy called out, wondering where the fluffy little kitty had run off to. “Kitty, come back here!” Turning in a wide circle, she suddenly realized she didn’t know where she was. “Mommy?” she called softly. “Mommy, where are you? Mommy?”

The tone of the child’s voice had risen and Max could feel the panic that had settled in the little girl’s chest. “Mommy!” the girl’s voice rose in agitation and then she took a wrong step and Max could feel her falling.

“She took a tumble down the ravine,” Max said as he hastened to his feet and the two men scanned the landscape trying to see a glimpse of pink corduroy pants or a white t-shirt with pink kittens on the front, the clothes Cindy was wearing when she disappeared. Max gingerly made his way down the steep slope, watching the ground for any indicators that proved Cindy had been here. When he reached the bottom of the ravine, he knelt beside a broken cactus, noticing a square of white cloth. As he reached out and touched it a violent tremor passed through his body.

Cindy sat rocking back and forth on the ground, dirty and bruised and holding her injured arm against her tummy. She was crying softly and tears were streaming through the dirt on her cheeks. Blood was trickling down her arm from the cut on her shoulder and her favorite shirt was torn.

“Mommy,” Cindy cried as she rock back and forth. “Mommy . . . Mommy . . . Mommy . . .”

She sat there for awhile, stunned and disoriented, and then she awkwardly rose to her feet. Nothing looked familiar. She tried to climb back up the mountain she’d fallen down, but she couldn’t use her arm and she kept slipping back down. She felt the uncomfortable wetness between her legs and she sat down and cried some more. She wasn’t a big girl after all.

She was hungry and she was tired and her arm hurt something awful and she had wet her pants and she just wanted to go home. Looking around her she cried, “Mommy? Where are you, Mommy? I can’t find you.”

“She broke her arm when she fell,” Max spoke, staring off into the distance. Carl wasn’t sure if he was talking to him, or just talking to the air. “She stayed here for awhile, and then she walked off in that direction.” He turned to Carl finally and added, “She couldn’t go back the way she came. The slope was too steep and she couldn’t use her arm.”

Carl watched Max rise to his feet, stunned by the details he was hearing. How could Max know the girl broke her arm? How could he know which direction she went and why she went that way? What exactly was Max seeing in his head?

Max set out along the bottom of the ravine, traveling in the direction Cindy had gone. The ground was rough and uneven, and Cindy had had a hard time keeping on her feet. She stumbled again and scuffed her knee on a rock, tearing the pink pants that used to be her favorite. Her grandma had given her those pink pants for her birthday just last month.

In his mind, Max could see Cindy stumbling along the old wash. When the rains hit, this ravine would turn into a raging river, but it was dry now, thank God. At least there was no fear of flash flooding. He kept trudging along, keeping his eyes alert and his mind open. He could feel Carl right behind him and a part of him knew he was crossing a line into unsafe territory. His cover story could only keep the truth hidden to a certain extent, but there was a little girl out there that needed his help. Ellie – no, not Ellie, Cindy was in trouble and he might be the only one that could find her.

Max came to a sudden stop and Carl nearly ran into him. “Something scared her. A rustling sound and she went to hide.” Max swept his eyes over the terrain and when he saw the outcropping of rocks to the right he knew she had gone that way. He hurried in that direction, with Carl at his side, and as he skirted around the rocks his heart leapt in his chest.

He saw the small sneaker clad foot first, and then the pink pants, torn and bloodied and covered in dirt. Apprehension filled him and he wondered if they were too late. Was it his lot in life to always be too late? Little Cindy Morgan came into full view, lying on the ground with her eyes closed, her clothes torn and bloodied, with a little gray kitten curled up next to her.

The kitten stretched and yawned at the sudden intrusion and Max fell to his knees beside Cindy. His hand touched her throat first, feeling the warm skin and the strong pulse and his body sagged in relief. He used his skills to assess her injuries, noting that the broken arm was the worst of it. Her body was scraped and bruised and she had become dehydrated out here in the hot sun, but other than the arm and a nasty bruise on her forehead, she looked like she was going to be okay.

Her eyes fluttered open and in a tiny voice Cindy said, “Where’s my mommy?”

“I’ll take you to her,” Max smiled down at her. His hand curled around her upper arm and he turned his body to try to prevent Carl from seeing what he was doing. It only took a moment for the tiny bone in her arm to heal. The scrapes and the bumps and bruises would have to heal on their own. Max gathered her into his arms and he rose to his feet, turning to Carl with a happy and relieved look on his face.

Carl stood staring at Max holding Cindy, momentarily speechless. Max had walked right to her. He’d followed the trail she had taken like a bloodhound following a scent, never wavering for a moment. He’d never seen anything like it.

“You lead the way, Carl,” Max suggested, shifting uncomfortably under the intense gaze of the older man.

“Kitty!” Cindy cried out when she saw the kitten rub up against Carl’s leg. She held her arms out and begged, “I want the kitty!”

Carl picked up the small kitten and Cindy took it from him, cuddling it close to her face. Max could hear it purring loudly and then Cindy looked up at him with big eyes and said, “My arm doesn’t hurt anymore.”

“Good,” Max smiled down at her, and then his eyes darted toward Carl. Had he heard what she said? Had he seen the glowing light when he healed her? Max couldn’t read his face, couldn’t tell what he was thinking.

“Let’s get you back where you belong,” Carl said, trying to shake off a sense of disconcertion. He led the way, giving Max a hand now and then over the rough terrain. It was a challenge climbing back up the steep ravine with Cindy in his arms, but Max didn’t appear to want to let her go. He settled her onto his hip, with her arms wrapped tightly around his neck and Max passed the kitten over to Carl. He kept one arm around Cindy, holding her securely to his side and used his other hand for leverage as they climbed up the steep slope. Once they reached the top, they made their way back toward the park. As the clearing came into view, Max pulled Carl to a stop.

“When we get out there,” Max looked at the throng of people in the park, especially the reporters, “tell them you found her, Carl.”

“What?” Carl was taken by surprise. “But you did it, Max. You deserve the credit.”

“I don’t want the attention,” Max tried to make him understand. Notoriety for him could only mean bad things.

Carl stared at Max, looking so natural with the young girl in his arms, and he slowly nodded his head. Max silently handed Cindy over to him and Carl took her. Max watched as Carl crossed the grass, with Cindy staring back at him over Carl’s shoulder and giving him a little wave with her fingers. He saw the look on the young mother’s face when she saw her child, and how Cindy responded to the sound of her mother’s voice when she cried out her name.

For just a moment, it was Ellie that he saw in Carl’s arms. It was Liz that he saw running to her with tears streaming down her face. It was Ellie who threw her little arms around Liz’s shoulders as they both wept for joy. With weak knees, he made his way to a nearby bench and sat down, trying to blink away the moisture in his eyes. Watching Cindy hug her mother tightly, Max bit at his lower lip to keep it from quivering. At least one family had been happily reunited today.

* * * * *

“Hey,” Carl said coming up behind Max. He was standing near the ambulance, watching Cindy get checked over by the paramedics. Carl had been swarmed over as soon as he was noticed coming out of the trees with the lost child in his arms. The reporters had mobbed him, just as Max knew they would, and he was sure Carl’s face would be all over the 6:00 news.

“Hey Carl,” Max replied, darting a look in his direction before turning his attention back to Cindy. She was laying on a stretcher now and they were loading her into the ambulance. Her mother climbed in and took a seat beside her, holding her hand like she would never let it go. Cindy’s eyes met his, looking at him like he was her savior, and then the doors closed and the ambulance pulled away.

“Let me buy you a drink,” Carl clamped his hand onto his shoulder. “You look like you need one.”

“I’m not old enough to drink,” Max reminded him with a wry smile.

“Oh yeah. Make it a cup of coffee then.” It never failed to amaze Carl that Max was only twenty. That old phrase, ‘Old beyond his years’ really applied to Max. He seemed years older than he really was. “I saw a coffee shop across the street. Let’s go sit down. We can talk.”

Max felt mildly apprehensive, but Carl’s tone was light so maybe everything was alright. Maybe Carl hadn’t seen as much as Max suddenly feared he might have. They crossed Beardsley Road and entered a quiet coffee shop. Max took a seat at a table in the corner and Carl ordered two cups of coffee and decided to throw in a couple of sweet rolls as well. If Max didn’t want one, Carl was hungry enough to eat them both.

“Quite a day, huh?” Carl said as he set the tray on the table and took a seat. Max just nodded his head in agreement without saying a word, so Carl placed the coffee and sweet roll in front of him and pressed on. “What exactly happened over there, Max?”

“Well, you already know . . .” Max faltered, trying not to show his discomfort. He wrapped his hand around the coffee cup and pulled it close, staring into the steaming liquid as he said, “I already told you about . . .”

What was he supposed to say? Stick with the lie that he’d already told, a lie that Carl could believe? The world was willing to believe in clairvoyants and psychics and the like, but if Max were to say ‘I’m an alien from a world that died and we’ve colonized the Earth’, well who would believe that? And if he proved it was true, if he showed Carl the things he could do, how would he react? Should he take a chance on this man and admit what he really was? “Carl, I . . .”

“You’re clairvoyant,” Carl voiced what Max couldn’t seem to bring himself to say. “But what exactly does that mean? Do you hear voices in your head? See pictures? How did you find that girl so easily? We’ve got some of the best search and rescue people in the country, and they couldn’t find her. You, on the other hand, walked right to her.”

Max struggled to find the right thing to say. He was so close to telling this man, this friend, the truth, but the words just wouldn’t come. “I see . . .”

“If you say, ‘I see dead people’, I’m going to throttle you,” Carl smiled, trying to lighten the mood.

Max laughed, feeling the tension lift a little. He wasn’t afraid of Carl. Carl was a good man, a decent, honest man. But the secret that Max carried with him was not one that could be shared easily. It affected too many people, and it was too ingrained in him to keep the truth hidden.

“Sometimes when I touch things,” Max tried to explain to the best of his ability without giving too much away, “sometimes I get images, impressions of things that have happened. Like when I touched the swing, I saw Cindy climb down and chase after the kitten.” He watched Carl’s face trying to gage the older man’s reaction.

“So, once you were in the trees, how did you keep on her trail?” Carl asked. “How did you know she fell down the ravine? I mean, every detail you mentioned was right on.”

“Well, I was wrong about her broken arm,” Max reminded him.

“Right,” Carl stared at him.

Max shifted uncomfortably under Carl’s intense scrutiny and looked down at the pastry on his plate. He shouldn’t have healed Cindy, but she was in so much pain and it only took a moment. He knew he’d acted rashly, but she was hurt, and she needed his help and he didn’t think Carl could see what he was doing.

Carl watched Max pick at the pastry on the table in front of him. There were so many things that didn’t quite add up, and the girl’s arm was another big question mark in his head. When he’d first seen Cindy lying on the ground behind the rocks, her arm had been twisted at an unnatural angle. He’d seen broken bones before, and there was no doubt in his mind that Max had been right and Cindy had sustained a broken arm. But when he picked her up it was obvious that it wasn’t broken. Carl wasn’t the type of man to imagine things, so how could a broken arm suddenly, miraculously, be not broken? Even Cindy herself had remarked that her arm didn’t hurt anymore.

A memory surfaced from not so long ago, of Max slamming his hand into the wall at Maryvale Hospital. Carl had clearly heard the bones break. He’d seen the pain register on Max’s face. He’d seen the torn and bloody knuckles. Yet just minutes later, when he’d demanded to see his hand, all evidence of any injury was gone. There had to be some kind of explanation, but for the life of him, he couldn’t figure out what it was.

“I’m glad she wasn’t seriously injured and we found her before anything bad happened to her.” Max lifted the coffee to his lips and took a sip, eyeing Carl through the steam.

“You found her, Max,” Carl reminded him. “I was just tagging along.”

Max smiled self-consciously and tried steering the conversion in another direction. He set down the coffee and raised the pastry to take a bite, asking, “How’d your date with Rachel go last night?”

A silly grin spread over Carl’s face and without uttering a word, Max knew the date had gone well. “We had a good time,” Carl beamed. “A really good time.”

“So where’d you take her?” Max grinned as he munched on the sweet roll. Carl’s whole demeanor had changed at the mention of Rachel’s name. His body had relaxed and he’d leaned back in the chair and his eyes had taken on a far away look. Had Cupid shot his arrow right into Carl’s butt? Was love in the air?

“We had dinner in a nice little place over on Hudson and then we went and saw Terminator III.”

“You what?” Max laughed and nearly choked on his coffee. “You took her to see The Terminator? That’s not exactly a romantic movie!”

“Hey!” Carl leaned back with his hands raised in innocence. “It was her choice! I was as surprised as you are! I thought she’d want to see that Tom Hanks movie, but she said she liked sci-fi. I wasn’t going to argue with her!”

“So, was it any good?” Max asked.

“Beats the hell out of me!” Carl laughed. “I wasn’t watching the movie!”

They laughed and joked together, feeling an easy camaraderie while they finished their coffee and pastries. Max watched Carl as he talked about Rachel, thinking if the smitten look on his face was any indication, his friend was well on the way to joining the ‘I Know an Alien Club’. The hard part now was letting down their defenses enough to let a new member in.

They rose to their feet and Carl left a tip on the table. Max pushed his way out the door and nearly barreled into an elderly woman passing by on the sidewalk.

“Oh my!” she exclaimed and her hand fluttered over her ample bosom.

“Excuse me,” Max apologized profusely. “I didn’t see you. Are you okay?” Looking closely, he recognized her face, and then remembered her from the park earlier in the day. Mary something.

“I’m fine. Don’t worry about me, young man. I should learn to watch where I’m going!” Mary’s eyes grew wide as she recognized the handsome young policeman and she asked, “Did you find that poor little girl that was lost?”

“Yes,” Max smiled widely. “We found her safe and sound.”

“Oh, thank the Lord Almighty,” Mary exclaimed. “A story with a happy ending.”

“Yes,” Max smiled, and watched her walk away.

I'll be back next Sunday

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 28-Jan-2002 2:57:13 AM ]
posted on 1-Feb-2002 4:40:27 AM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17

Author Note: I decided to post the next part tonight and then another part on Sunday. I'll be gone for the 2nd half of February (I'm heading for LA!!!) and won't be able to post at all. No computer access.

Here's the links to parts 1 - 58


Go here for parts 1 - 20

Go here for parts 21 - 40

Go here for parts 40-59

Tajaz, and to the rest of you that are wondering, Max didn't get a flash from Mary, because he never touched her. He nearly bumped into when he came out of the coffee shop, and he onlyreached to help her up when she was retrieving her grocery list. But he didn't actually touch her, which he would need to do to be able to get a flash.

Transparent Clear, geekaboo is a great word!

abbimorgan, I'm sorry that part made you cry. What a horrible thing for you to have gone through. I'm so glad that everything worked out alright in the end.

Klaato4, Foreshadowing??? Me?? I guess we'll just have to wait and see. *wink*

Kel, It's so good to hear from you! Hope to see you around for the rest of the story!

And speaking of the story, I better post this part. I should have been in bed hours ago!

Captive Hearts
Part 70

Carl paged through the file on his desk, happy when cases turned out the way this one had. All too often they didn’t. Cindy Morgan had been treated for her injuries at Maryvale Hospital, and then released into the care of her parents.

Looking over the medical report, she’d sustained an assortment of bumps and bruises, a gash on her right knee that had required a couple of stitches, and a nasty looking bump on the head, but no significant trauma. They’d performed a cat scan to rule out any internal injury, re-hydrated her with an IV, and within a couple of hours she was nearly as good as new.

There was one strange finding though, something the doctors couldn’t quite explain. High on her right arm there was a strange silver mark that circled around her entire arm. The doctor’s were at a loss as to what it was or what could have caused it. According to the report, it wouldn’t wash off, rub off, or scrape off and was unaffected by soap or water or alcohol prep pads or any other agent applied. Strange. Carl decided a visit to see Cindy might just be in order, and a look at that silver mark.

Closing the file and feeling good that they’d had a successful case with a positive outcome, Carl leaned back in his chair with his hands clasped behind his head. It had been a really good weekend. Little Cindy Morgan had been reunited with her family with no permanent injuries from her traumatic adventure, and any day where they had a positive outcome in one of these cases made a banner day for Carl. Top that off with what had happened on Saturday night, well, Carl just couldn’t help but smile.

His date with Rachel had started off a little shaky on his part, with him sticking his foot in his mouth every time he opened it, but Rachel hadn’t seemed to notice. Dinner had gone well and then the movie, well, the movie had been . . . nice! His smile turned into a grin as he remembered how it felt to have Rachel leaning against him, squeezing his hand, pressing her face against his shoulder.

And then . . . she’d lifted her head from his shoulder to look up at him, with the shifting light from the screen playing over her face, and her eyes looking wide and inviting, and he’d leaned in . . . and kissed her. And she’d kissed him back.

He’d touched his lips gently to hers, knowing that it probably wasn’t the right place, but unable to stop himself. He wasn’t a sixteen year old kid anymore and he was too damn old to be making out at the movies, but he couldn’t help it. Her lips were so inviting, and he’d wanted to kiss her so badly, and the moment was there and . . . and . . . God, it had felt so good.

He’d looked at her, starstruck, as their lips parted and she’d stared at him with those wide eyes and a half smile lighting her face. He’d wanted to kiss her again, but he was highly aware of the audience around them, and they’d turned their attention back to the screen. He’d held her hand through the rest of the movie, even when it wasn’t a scary part, and he kept watching her out of the corner of his eye.

Afterwards, when the movie ended and the credits rolled and the lights came up in the theater, they’d waited until the crowd thinned before they rose from their seats. On the drive back to her house he’d felt her pull back a little, as if she was struggling with some internal conflict and he cursed himself for stepping over the line.

There was a sense of awkwardness between them as they drove in silence and when he reached her home he hurried around to her side of the car to let her out. They had walked side by side up to her front door and when Rachel turned to stand in front of him, when her eyes met his, when the tip of her tongue darted out nervously to wet her lips, he took her in his arms and kissed her again.

She was only an inch or two shorter than he was and he was highly aware of how her body fit against his. He felt her lips on his, kissing him back, and he pressed his lips harder against hers. The intensity deepened, with her arms around his back and his around her and he felt his heart beat quickening in his chest.

His lips broke away from hers and he stared into her eyes and asked breathlessly, “Will you go out with me again? Next Friday?”

“Yes,” Rachel nodded her head as she stared into his eyes.

“What about Wednesday? Are you free on Wednesday?”

“Yes,” she nodded again with a smile playing at the corners of her lips.

He kissed her again and mumbled, “How about Monday? Are you free for dinner on Monday? Or tomorrow? Do you have plans for tomorrow?”

He kissed her again and then it was her turn to mumble against his lips, “I’ll – I’ll just clear my calendar.”

He was staring off into space, grinning like the cat that ate the canary, and leaning back in his chair as he remembered Saturday night. Chris and Tully came sauntering into the squad room and came to a sudden stop, staring at the man that was an obvious impostor. Rocky Montoya never smiled like that.

“It looks like somebody got laid!” Chris nearly shouted.

Carl’s eyes widened in surprise at the sudden intrusion and he lost his balance on the precariously placed chair. His arms pinwheeled trying to keep from falling backwards and looking like a total idiot. He managed to scramble to his feet just as the chair clattered to the floor behind him and he hurriedly picked it up, saying, “Hi guys. What’s up?”

“I think the question is, What’s ‘up’ with you Rocky?” Chris kidded him good naturedly.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Carl could feel the heat rising in his cheeks. He hadn’t done anything but kiss Rachel on Saturday night, not that doing more hadn’t crossed his mind. Hell yes, it had crossed his mind. Shit, it was still on his mind.

“Give us the juicy details!” Chris gave Carl a brotherly jab on the arm and winked at his partner. Tully was eagerly awaiting word on why his normally staid boss was acting as flighty as a schoolboy.

Just then Max came through the door and Carl latched on to him like he was a lifejacket and his ship was going down. “Max! Good! Everybody’s here! We can get started!”

Max looked around the room, wondering if everybody had gone crazy, or if there was a full moon out, or if he had been whisked into a different dimension. Oh well, it was going to be one of those days!

* * * * *

“Hi Liz,” Rachel said as she entered the exam room. “How are you feeling today?”

“Fine,” Liz smiled.

“Are you feeling any discomfort? Any contractions yet? Have you experienced any discharge, or bloody show?”

“Just the Braxton Hicks contractions,” Liz answered. “Same ones I’ve been getting for awhile.”

“Have you been practicing your breathing techniques?” Rachel asked.

“Yes,” Liz smiled. Max always seemed more than eager to help her, be it Lamaze exercises or back rubs or ice cream runs in the middle of the night. She noticed the smile that played at the corners of Rachel’s mouth, and she said, “Okay, spill. Tell me how Saturday night went!”

“It was . . .,” Rachel’s smile grew wider and she leaned close to Liz and said, “wonderful!”

“I knew it!” Liz squealed. “So how did the movie go?”

“Just like you said it would!” Rachel laughed.

“I told ya!” Liz laughed with her. “You go to a movie like that and guys get all protective and they want to keep the big bad boogieman away from you. So tell me what happened!”

“He kissed me,” Rachel beamed.

“He kissed you?” Liz’s mouth dropped open. “Right there, in the theater?”

“Yes!” Rachel couldn’t keep the smile off her face.

“And . . .” Liz tried to draw her out.

“It was wonderful!” Rachel blushed.

“God, Rachel! I’m so happy for you!”

“But . . .” Rachel’s smile slowly disappeared.

“But what?” Liz asked.

“You know ‘But what’,” Rachel frowned. “I can’t . . . I don’t know how to tell him . . . Oh God, this is so hard.”

“You and Max are just the same!” Liz huffed. “If I hadn’t made the first move, Max and I would probably still be virgins! He was always so worried about how his ‘alienness’ would affect me. He still worries about that, after all this time.”

“What if Carl isn’t as accepting as you are?” Rachel questioned. “What if . . . what if he finds me abhorrent? What if I tell him the truth and he turns us in?”

“Carl wouldn’t do that,” Liz said with conviction. “He’s not that type of man.”

“You have more faith in humanity than we do,” Rachel said sadly. Their clan had been threatened by the human race before, by human frailty and prejudice and fear. Informing a human of their existence was never taken lightly.

“Granted,” Liz conceded, “you never know what kind of person you really are until you’re faced with it, but Carl is a good man. He won’t turn on you Rachel. I can feel that in my bones.”

“You don’t know how much I want that to be true,” Rachel said wistfully.

“Max wants to tell him, but he’s afraid,” Liz sighed. “Just like you are.”

“Is it any wonder that we’re afraid to let a human know our secret?” Rachel asked. “Look what they did to you and Max. They locked you up like you were specimens in a jar, and then they took Ellie–” Seeing the look that crossed over Liz’s face, Rachel wished she could take back what she’d just said. “I’m sorry Liz . . .”

“I think you should tell him,” Liz insisted. “I think Carl will be more supportive than you think.”

“I only wish you were right,” Rachel sighed. Changing the subject, Rachel lifted the sheet from Liz’s abdomen and said, “Let’s take a look at you . . .”

* * * * *

Max walked into the kitchen and made a beeline for Liz, hugging her from behind as she cooked at the stove. Nuzzling his lips to the tender spot behind her ear, he asked, “How’s my girl?”

“Fine,” Liz smiled at the feel of his warm breath on her skin. She turned her face up to his and gave him a welcome home kiss.

He made his way to the refrigerator and took out a carton of juice and then went to the dish drain to retrieve a clean glass. “How did your visit with Rachel go today?”

Smiling impishly, Liz said, “She says we can’t have sex anymore. You dented Matthew’s head.”

The glass he was holding slipped from his hand and shattered in the sink with the sound reverberating throughout the house. He whirled around to face Liz, white as a ghost, and shouted, “WHAT?”

All it took was one look at his face and she burst out laughing. She was shaking so hard she had to curl her arm around her belly trying to hold it in.

“That’s not funny, Liz!” Max scolded her. She scared the shit right out of him.

“Yes it is!” she insisted, laughing even harder.

“What did Rachel really say?” Max folded his arms over his chest. He was going to pout now.

Liz pushed the pan off the burner and walked across the kitchen to her frowning husband. She cupped his cheeks and tried to keep a straight face as she said, “I’m sorry Max.”

He was still frowning at her with his arms stonily folded across his chest.

“Rachel said everything is fine. Right on schedule. We still have a target date of the 16th. But,” she said and the frown on his face turned to worry.

“But what?” Max tried to keep his fears suppressed but that was almost impossible to do. He unfolded his arms and wrapped them around her, needing to feel her close.

“She did say that we shouldn’t have sex until after Matthew is born.”

“Why?” he asked, worried that he might have done something to harm her or the baby.

“I’ve started to dilate.”

“You’ve what?” he was turning white as a ghost again. “You’re dilating already? That means – the baby – labor – oh shit – come sit down. You shouldn’t be on your feet!” He pulled her over to the kitchen table and made her sit down.

“Max! I’m not in labor yet!”

“But you’re dilating! Oh God, you’re dilating!” Max pulled the chair out next to her and sat down because his legs had suddenly turned to jello. “Oh My God, you’re dilating!”

“Max, calm down.” Liz had to bite her lip to keep from laughing again. The look on his face was just precious, with his eyes as big as saucers and his ears all turning red and his fingers tugging at his lower lip so nervously.

She covered his hand with hers, squeezing it gently, and asked, “What’s the matter, Max?”

His eyes met hers, big and round and nearly glowing in that rich shade of honey brown, and he shakily said, “We’re gonna have a baby . . . I mean . . . we’re gonna have a baby.”

“We’ve known about that for awhile now, Max,” Liz gently reminded him.

“I know, but . . .” Max brought his hand to his forehead and leaned into it, like his head was spinning. “But, I mean . . . we’re gonna have a baby. Right here. In this house. He’ll be crawling on the floor. He’ll sit in a highchair, right over there. He’ll play in the dirt in the backyard. We need to get a puppy. A boy should always have a puppy.”

“Okay,” Liz patted his knee soothingly.

“We can get a puppy?” Max asked, still sounding shell shocked.

“Yes, we can get a puppy,” Liz smiled. Her hand covered his and their fingers intertwined and she added, “but let’s wait until Matthew’s a little older, okay?”

“Okay,” Max nodded and squeezed her hand tightly. All of it was starting to feel so real now. A baby . . . an actual, real live baby . . . their baby . . . and it wouldn’t be just a dream.

TBC . . .

See you all on Sunday

[ edited 4 time(s), last at 1-Feb-2002 5:06:47 AM ]
posted on 4-Feb-2002 1:22:01 AM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17

Note: I'm so glad everyone had fun with that last part. Lets see how you do with this one!

Here's the links to parts 1 - 58


Go here for parts 1 - 20

Go here for parts 21 - 40

Go here for parts 40-59

Captive Hearts
Part 71

Max sat behind Liz, slowly moving his hands in a circular motion along her belly. His soft, soothing strokes were gentle and calming and as he glanced at the clock he said, “Time,” and then followed that up with, “Deep cleansing breath.”

Liz shifted position, looking up at his smiling face and asked, “Do you have time to practice just a few more minutes before you get ready for work?”

“Sure,” he stroked his fingers through her hair lovingly. She settled back against his warm chest, feeling his bare legs comfortingly flanking her sides and when he said, “Time,” she took another deep cleansing breath to begin the Lamaze exercises. She concentrated on the statue of Pegasus sitting on the top of her dresser, but just like before, her gaze shifted to the drawing on the wall. She focused on the image of her and Ellie riding atop a majestic white horse, while Max counted off the seconds of an imaginary contraction.

He lifted his hands from her belly, abandoning those soft, gentle strokes, and placed his fingertips at her temples. He closed his eyes in deep concentration, forming a connection with her. He could hear the pounding of her heart, feel the blood pumping through her veins, sense her innermost thoughts. He loved being a part of her like this, where they were both completely open to each other, when their minds blended into one.

He could see into her mind, see her fantasy of flying on a white horse with Ellie secure in her arms and he joined them, settling in behind Liz on the beast’s enormous back. He could feel the wind blowing through his hair, and hear the horse’s wings as they cut through the air and Max felt content as they soared above the ground.

She turned to smile at him with the sun shining on her face and he knew she could feel everything that he was feeling. All to soon his time was up and Max withdrew the connection. It was almost painful to separate from her and it took him a few moments to adjust to being alone again.

“I’ve got to go,” Max said softly into her ear.

“I know,” she turned her head and lifted her lips to his. He kissed her tenderly, with his hand caressing her throat and then he slowly pulled away. She sat up and he slid out from behind her, climbing off the bed and making his way over to the closet to throw on his clothes.

“I like the way you look when you walk around in your underwear,” Liz teased. The truth was, she really did. His body was so toned and muscular, and he moved with such a cat-like grace. His muscles rippled as he walked and he looked over his shoulder at her with that sexy little smile of his.

“Don’t start something you know we can’t finish,” he warned. Rachel said no more hanky panky until after Matthew was born. He was going to be good, even if it drove him crazy.

“I don’t think she meant you needed to turn into a monk!” Liz called out to the closet.

He poked his head out of the doorway and arched his eyebrows at her. “Meaning?”

“Come here and I’ll show you,” Liz said temptingly.

His head disappeared back into the small walk in closet and he counted slowly to ten. He was going to be late for work if he didn’t make it to ten. He took a deep breath and slipped on a pair of pants and then pulled a blue chambray shirt off the hanger. He slipped his arms into the sleeves and began to button it up as he left the closet.

“Spoilsport!” Liz pouted as he came back into the room, almost fully dressed.

“You’re making this awfully hard on me,” Max scolded her as he neared the side of the bed.

“That’s the idea,” Liz smiled seductively.

“Liz, I have to go to work.” He was trying very hard to keep his resolve firm.

“Okay,” Liz relented and helped him with his tie.

He tucked his shirt into his pants and Liz watched him as he raised the zipper. He was doing it nice and slow and she slapped at him for teasing her. He laughed heartily and then went back to the closet to retrieve a belt.

“What do you think you’re going to be doing today?” Liz raised her voice so Max could hear her inside the closet. He mumbled a response and she asked loudly, “What did you say? I couldn’t hear you.”

“I said,” Max stepped back into the bedroom carrying a pair of shoes. “I have to finish the paper work on the Cindy Morgan case, and then Carl said he wants to go over to see her this morning.”

“Why?” Liz asked curiously. “I thought the case was cut and dried. She wandered off, you found her, case closed.”

“Well yeah,” Max nodded and dropped his shoes on the floor near the bed. He finished buckling his belt and then sat on the edge of the bed to put his shoes on. “I’m not sure why he wants to go there. He didn’t say. Maybe he just wants to see how she’s doing.”

“Speaking of Carl, Rachel said their date went really well on Saturday.” Liz leaned against Max’s shoulder as he slipped his shoes on and then he leaned forward to tie them.

“Really?” Max looked at her with a half smile, remembering the sappy look on Carl’s face yesterday when he’d walked into the squad room.

“Yes, really!” Liz grinned, “He kissed her!”

“He did?” Max had figured as much but Carl hadn’t given him any details and Max hadn’t asked.

“Yes!” she was almost giggling. “Right in the theater. She said he’s a really good kisser.”

“I think that’s more info than I need to know,” Max laughed.

“Oh, don’t tell me you guys don’t talk about it!” Liz chided.

“No, we don’t,” Max looked at her with a straight face. “We don’t talk about kissing at all. We just talk about sex.”

“You don’t talk about us, do you?” Liz asked with wide eyes.

“Sure.” Max tried not to laugh at the shocked look on her face and teased, “The guys know all about how insatiable you are.” He ducked as she tried to backhand him across the chest. Laughing, he leaned her back on the bed and stared down into the depths of her eyes. “They all know you can’t get enough of me.” He stroked her cheek with the back of his fingers and then leaned down to kiss her, unable to stop himself.

“Who can’t get enough of who?” Liz asked when they both came up for air.

“I have to go,” Max sighed and pulled back a little and then his eyes fell to the curve of her belly, letting his hand linger there. His lips followed his hand and he kissed her lightly through her nightgown and said, “Be nice to your Mother today. Don’t be practicing Karate in there.” He felt Matthew press his hand outward and Max pressed his back while a huge smile spread over his face. He could feel Matthew in his mind, whispering to him with words he couldn’t quite hear yet somehow he knew what he was saying.

“I love you too,” Max told his unborn son. His hand fanned out over Liz’s abdomen and then a soft glow spread out from his palm as Max sought to deepen the connection. He heard the words Matthew told him loud and clear now, and the image his son sent him was crisp and unmistakable.

“I’m working on it Buddy,” Max grinned. He leaned in and whispered conspiratorially to Liz’s belly, “Keep sending her pictures of Lassie. Who can resist Lassie?”

“Max!” Liz ruffled his hair. “Quit encouraging him!”

“He wants a puppy Liz!”

“Yeah? And who got him started on that?” Liz felt the bed shift as Max changed position and hovered over her with his face just inches from hers. His mouth covered hers in a sweet kiss and then he pulled away.

“I have to go. Call me if you need me. Call me even if you don’t need me. Heck, just call me.” He rolled away from her and rose from the bed and when he reached the bedroom door her words stopped him in his tracks.

“We could have phone sex.”

He turned slowly to look at her impish face. She was enjoying torturing him. That twinkle in her eyes said it all. Her tongue darted out to moisten her lips, and to drive him crazy, and he heard his mouth say the words before his brain knew what he was saying, “What time should I call?”

* * * * *

Max sat at a small desk in the corner of the squad room and finished typing the report on Cindy Morgan. He kept the words simple and left out any and all references to psychic ability, mumbo jumbo, or alien weirdness. The report was detailed and precise except the omission of visions and broken bones that were healed by a glowing hand.

He reached into his shirt pocket to retrieve the memo book he had used to jot down the names of the people he had interviewed in the park. It was routine to enter all the information he had acquired during the investigation into his report, but as he looked at the names he decided it wouldn’t be necessary. The Morgan case was closed. Cindy had simply wandered away from her mother and gotten lost. She’d been recovered safely. There was no need to keep track of a list of possible witnesses when there had been nothing to see. No need to waste time entering information in the report that had no bearing on the case.

Max closed his memo book and opened the top drawer of the desk that Carl had assigned him to use. He wasn’t a Detective like the others, even though much of the work he did was the same. His classification was a trainee under Carl’s supervision. After Liz graduated, he’d have to decide what he wanted to do. Did he want to continue working with Carl, or would it be his turn to finish his degree and become the child psychologist he had originally intended to be when they moved to Arizona?

He tossed the memo book on top of a stack of other memo books that were filled with his neat handwriting, notes from other cases he had worked on. He retrieved a new one and just as he slipped it into his pocket, the phone on his desk rang.

“Children Victims Unit, Max Evans speaking. May I help you?”

“Hey handsome.”

A smile lit his face and he leaned back in his chair. “Hi honey,” he said softly.

“What are you doing?”

“Working. Do you miss me?”

“Of course . . . What are you wearing?”

“What am I wearing?” Max asked in surprise. He glanced around to see if anyone was listening and then his voice lowered as he spoke into the phone. “You know what I’m wearing. You helped me get dressed this morning.”

“What do you think I’m wearing?”

He sat straighter in the chair and drew his hand through his hair. “Liz . . . what are you doing?”

“Guess what I’m wearing.”

Max shifted uncomfortably and looked over at Carl, noticing how engrossed he seemed to be in the paperwork on his desk. He turned back to stare at the phone and answered, “That dress with all the roses on it? The pink one?” He knew it was her favorite.

“No. Guess again.”

“Are you wearing a dress?”

“Sort of.”

“Sort of?” Max raised his eyebrows. “You’re sort of wearing a dress?” This wasn’t . . . she didn’t really call him for . . . she’d been just joking this morning, hadn’t she?

“Do you remember what I was wearing on the night Matthew was conceived?”

“On the night . . .”

Holy shit! She was talking about her Crashdown uniform! He felt his temperature rising as he remembered what she looked like that night while she was ‘sort of’ wearing that uniform. God, what a night! She’d torn that uniform open, exposing her naked body underneath and it had been one of the most exciting nights of his life.

“Do you remember?”

“Yes,” Max licked his lips as he answered.

“Did you like the way I looked that night?”

“Yes.” In his mind he could see the uniform loosely draping her body while her hands roamed over her flesh. She’d rubbed her fingertips over her nipples to bring them to sharp points. She’d let her hands glide down her ribs, down her flat stomach, down through her dark curls. He relived the vivid memory of watching her fingers slip between her legs . . .

“Are you picturing it now?”

“Yes,” he groaned. He loosened his tie and unbuttoned the top button of his shirt. It was starting to get hot in here.

“Do you remember how I touched my breasts?”

“Yes,” Max swallowed hard.

“I’m touching them now, Max. Can you see me touching them now?”

“Liz . . .”

“Can you? Can you see my nipples getting hard? Can you see my fingers squeezing them? Can you see it Max? Can you see me lean my head forward and touch my nipples with my tongue?”

“Jesus Liz . . .” Damn, she was flexible.

“Do you like to see me do that Max? Do you like to see me touch myself?”

“Yes,” Max managed to squeak out.

“I’m doing it right now,” Liz moaned.

“Oh, God Liz! Stop!” Max said with a hoarse groan.

“You want me to stop? You want me to stop stroking my fingers between my legs?”

“Liz, you’re killing me here!” He was hunched over the phone, whispering into it and trying not to let Carl hear.

“Tell me what you’re feeling, Max. Are you getting hot? Is your pulse getting faster? Are you getting hard, just for me?”

“Yes,” he hissed. “You know I am.”

“I like you hard, Max. I like to run my tongue up and down you when you’re hard. Do you like me to do that?”

“Liz . . .”

“Do you Max?”

“Yes! You know I do,” he whispered heatedly.

“Can you feel my tongue on you now, Max? Can you feel my mouth around you? Can you feel my hair covering your thighs? Can you see my head bobbing up and down -”

“Liz, please . . .”

“Do you want me to stop Max?” she asked seductively.

“Yes . . . no . . .” He was getting painfully hard picturing everything she was saying.

“I can feel you inside me, Max. Can you feel me all around you?”

A hand clamped onto his shoulder and Max shot to his feet as a deep voice asked, “Are you alright Max?”

He slammed the phone down and turned to look at Carl with flaming cheeks. Even his ears were red. He opened his mouth and stammered, “I . . . that . . . you . . . I need a drink of water.”

Carl eyed Max as he hurried across the room to the water cooler. He’d noticed Max hunched over his desk, almost looking like he was in pain, and he’d come over to see if something was wrong. Had something happened to Liz? At the water cooler, Carl noticed how Max’s hand shook as he reached for a cup. He filled it to the brim and downed it all without taking a breath, and then filled the cup again.

The phone rang and Carl could hear Max choking on the water, hear him hurrying back across the room, see his desperation to reach the phone first as Carl lifted the receiver. The voice was speaking in his ear before he ever got a chance to say hello.

Carl’s eyes grew wide at the words he heard, and who he was hearing them from, and suddenly he understood. With a knowing glint in his eyes, he held the phone out to Max saying, “It’s for you.”

* * * * *

Carl sat in the Morgan living room and sipped at a cup of coffee. Melissa Morgan sat across from him with little Cindy on her lap and for at least the tenth time since he’d arrived, she was thanking him profusely for saving her child.

“Detective Montoya, I don’t know how I can ever thank you enough. You brought my little girl back to me.”

“Well,” Carl downplayed his role, “my partner had a lot to do with it.”

“Where is he?” Melissa asked. “I never got a chance to thank him. Everything was so crazy that day.”

“He has the afternoon off.” Carl smiled, remembering the look on Max’s face this morning when he’d picked up his phone and heard Liz on the other end. Max had turned a thousand shades of red and after hearing what Liz was saying, it wasn’t any wonder. Carl had given him the rest of the day off, after all, he deserved it. He had worked the better part of Sunday on the Morgan case and the man deserved some time with his wife.

“Cindy has been talking about him non-stop for the last two days,” Melissa smiled at her daughter. “She says he’s an angel because he glows.”

“He does Mommy!” Cindy said excitedly. “He glows all over!”

Carl smiled at the girl’s exuberance. The things kids said! Smiling widely at Cindy’s antics, he opened the file on his lap and consulted his notes. “It says in the medical report from the emergency room that other than a few scrapes and bruises, Cindy came through her ordeal relatively unscathed. Would you agree with that assessment, Mrs. Morgan?”

“Oh yes,” Melissa nodded her head. “She’s just fine. We go in next Monday to have the stitches in her knee removed, but other than that, she’s almost healed.”

“That’s wonderful to hear,” Carl effused.

“She’s been kind of clingy since it happened, but that’s to be expected. She won’t let me out of her sight. It was a traumatic event for her.” Melissa lifted her eyes from Cindy to look at Carl and added, “For me too.”

“I can imagine,” Carl sympathized. He glanced at the report on his lap again and went straight to the reason he had made this visit. Tapping the page in front of him, Carl said, “This indicates there was an unusual mark on her right arm. May I take a look at it?”

“I’m sorry,” Melissa shook her head. “I’m afraid you can’t.”

“No?” Carl asked in surprise. She had seemed so cooperative, and now she was refusing a simple request –

“It’s not there anymore,” Melissa explained. “Whatever Cindy got into, it wore off, because it’s gone now.”

“Angels made it Mommy,” Cindy added her two cents to their discussion.

“Yes sweety, angels were watching over you.”

“Can I see?” Carl asked, his curiosity piqued now.

Melissa pulled the sleeve of Cindy’s shirt up to her shoulder, exposing her entire right arm, but there was nothing to see. Whatever silver mark the emergency room physicians had seen, it was gone now.

Damn, Carl thought as he looked at the unblemished skin. The thought of an unknown mark, caused by an unknown agent, had intrigued him. He liked investigating a mystery. He liked a good challenge, and this had sounded like one, but now the evidence was gone. Damn.

Carl closed the file on his lap and rose to his feet, seeing no reason to continue the interview. “Thank you Mrs. Morgan. I guess that wraps everything up.”

Melissa led Carl to the door, with Cindy following close behind. He said his good-byes and as he turned to leave, Cindy tugged on the sleeve of his jacket. He squatted down in front of her and she looked at him in all seriousness as she said, “Angel Max put the mark on my arm when he made it stop hurting.”

“He did?” Carl asked curiously.

“Yep,” she nodded.

“Your arm hurt before Max found you?” Carl pressed for more.

“Yes,” she said in a small voice. “Really bad, and it wouldn’t work right.”

“But Max made it feel better?” he asked. She nodded her head and a smile lit her face. Carl rose to his feet with more questions now than he had when he’d arrived. He said his good-byes and made his way to his car, deep in thought.

Had Max really done something to Cindy, or was it just the imagination of a child that had been through a terrible ordeal? What did she mean by ‘angels’ and ‘glowing’, and what could cause silver marks that couldn’t be removed, but that disappeared on their own? Carl slid in behind the wheel of his car, determined to find the answers.

TBC . . .

Look for the next part next Sunday, or maybe Thursday, depending on how my week goes

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 4-Feb-2002 1:49:28 AM ]
posted on 11-Feb-2002 5:09:09 AM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17

Note: My computer is giving me fits and AOL crapped out on me! I could just scream! Grrrr.

Here's the link to past parts: http://www.schurry.com_69

Go here for parts 1 - 20

Go here for parts 21 - 40

Go here for parts 40-59

Captive Heart
Part 72

Max held Liz’s hand as they strolled along the path in the park. Their pace was unhurried, both of them enjoying the sun on their faces and the warmth of the air. Soon the sun would be blazing down from the summer sky, but today was warm and pleasant.

They were finally getting the picnic that had been put on hold on Sunday. Liz had been surprised when Max had come home so early and then embarrassed to find out why. She heard Max chuckle beside her and looked up to see him shaking his head.

“What are you laughing at?” she asked as they neared the small pond.

“I was just thinking about the look on Carl’s face when you were talking dirty to him,” Max laughed and squeezed her hand.

“Max,” Liz sighed, feeling her checks turn red again. “I didn’t know he picked up the phone! I thought it was you!”

“You look so sweet and innocent, I bet he thought you didn’t even know those words.”

“Max,” Liz tugged on his hand. “What did he say? How am I ever going to be able to look at him again? God!” She came to a stop and covered her face with her hand, leaning her forehead against his chest. “I . . . I asked him if my pussy made him hot!”

Max threw his head back laughing so hard his side was starting to hurt.

“Max!” she pounded her fist against his chest. “It’s not funny!”

“Yes it is!” he grabbed her hand, laughing the whole time.

“I don’t even talk that way to you,” Liz lamented, “and then the one time that I do, I end up talking dirty to your boss! You’re not going to get in trouble, are you?”

“For what? For having phone sex with my wife on company time?” Max laughed again. “You’re not planning on making a habit of it, are you?”

“No!” she cried emphatically. “I’m never talking dirty again!”

“You can talk dirty to me,” Max said softly as he stroked the back of her neck. His lips nuzzled against her ear and he added, “Anytime you want.”

“You like me talking dirty to you?” Liz asked, looking up at him with wide eyes.

“Well . . . yeah,” Max admitted, remembering the things she had said. “It was different . . . kind of . . . exciting.”

“Really?” An uncertain smile played at her lips.

“Yeah,” he looked at her with that shy smile of his and the color began to rise in both their cheeks.

“Come on,” Liz said, pulling on his hand. “Let’s go feed the ducks. Then we can go home and have something to eat.”

“We just ate, Liz,” Max reminded her as she pulled him along.

“Max, I’m not talking about food,” she smiled. A lopsided grin brightened his face as his appetite began to soar.

* * * * * *

Carl returned to the squad room and took a seat behind his desk. He placed the Morgan file in front of him, staring at the cover and thinking of the things Cindy had said. Max was an angel. Max glowed all over. Max made her arm stop hurting, at the very place a silver mark reportedly appeared and then later disappeared. Was there something to it all, or was it just the imagination of an overactive child?

But the mark on her arm hadn’t just been imagination. It was right in the medical report, in black and white. Still, it could have been caused by anything.

He pushed the file aside, deciding to let it go for now and looked at the clock on his desk. It was 1:15 and Rachel had said she usually took her lunch from 12:30 to 1:30, and that she usually ate it at her desk while making notes in patient charts. Should he call her? She’d given him her office number so that he could call her, but the question was should he call her?

Would it be too much? Would he seem stalkerish, like some obsessed wacko, calling her all the time? They’d gone out on Saturday. He’d had to work the Morgan case on Sunday, which interfered with his plans to see her again, but they’d talked on the phone that night for hours, even though it felt like only minutes. Then last night they’d had plans for dinner, but she’d called to cancel at the last minute. A patient had gone into labor. Duty called.

What if it had only been an excuse? What if she had cancelled because after he talked her ear off on Sunday night, she realized she had nothing in common with him? What about their dinner date tonight? Was she going to cancel that too? She was gorgeous, stunning, absolutely beautiful. What could she possibly see in a man like him?

He wasn’t young. He wasn’t tall. He definitely wasn’t handsome. You couldn’t even call him good looking. Hell, Carl scowled, he had the type of face that people said was full of ‘character’. In other words, he was butt ugly but he had a nice personality. What in the world could Rachel see in a man like him?

The phone rang and jerked him out of his dispirited thoughts and he picked up the receiver saying, “Children Victims Unit, Det. Montoya speaking.”

“Hi Carl,” Rachel said, her voice sounding soft and lyrical in his ear.

“Rachel!” Carl blurted out. She called! He was thinking about her and she called! Oh God, he thought in a panic. Why did she call?

“Is . . . is this a bad time?” she asked. “Are you busy?”

“No,” Carl replied quickly. Too quickly? “I just got back in the office. “Is . . . um . . . I mean . . . How has your day been?” He covered his face with his hand, wondering what the hell was wrong with him. He always sounded like an idiot when he talked to her.

“Fine,” Rachel answered. “Fine.”

“Good, that’s . . . good.” Carl rolled his eyes at his own ineptness.

“Carl, about dinner . . .”

“Dinner?” he felt his stomach twist. Here it comes. The gentle let down. Last night it was a baby being delivered. Tonight it would be workload or patient files or some other excuse. Tomorrow would be the dreaded ‘I have to wash my hair’. He could feel it coming.

“I don’t mean to bother you at work, but I was just wondering if we are still on for dinner tonight?” Rachel sounded hesitant in his ear. “I’m sorry I had to cancel last night. Rafael Garcia took his sweet time coming into the world.”

“Dinner? Last night?” he stumbled over his words. Trying to gain some semblance of control over his racing heart, Carl reined in his overzealous emotions and said, “Oh, don’t worry about that. When nature calls-” When nature calls? When nature calls!! Now he sounded like he was talking about peeing in the woods! Good God Almighty. Why couldn’t he ever say anything right?

“Yes, when nature calls, Rachel listens,” she said with a throaty laugh. “Babies have a habit of really bad timing.”

“They do?” Carl asked, mesmerized by the sound of her voice.

“Yes!” she replied emphatically. “I once spent a year planning my parents bonding – my parents wedding anniversary, and I had to leave right in the middle of it to deliver twins.”

“Oh Rachel,” Carl sympathized. “How awful.”

“Well, like you said, when nature calls . . .”

“About tonight-” Carl started.

“Are we still on for tonight?” she asked at the same time.

“Yes,” they both replied, her with a question mark, him with vigorous nod.

“What time?” they both asked and then their ears filled with the sounds of their joint laughter.

“I can pick you up at 7:00,” Carl suggested.

“Perfect,” Rachel nodded. The only thing more perfect would be if he had said 6 o’clock, or 5, or even ten minutes from now. “I’ll see you then.”

Carl said good-bye and hung up the phone, letting his hand linger there as he thought about their conversation. He smiled at her comment, ‘When nature calls, Rachel listens’. She’d actually laughed at his dumb remark. Maybe she didn’t think he was a bumbling idiot after all.

The phone rang again and Carl snatched it off the hook, wondering if she had forgotten to tell him something. “Hello?”

He could hear the static on the line and then a deep and vaguely familiar voice said, “Detective Montoya?”

“Yes, speaking,” Carl sat up straighter, admonishing himself for answering the phone so unprofessionally.

“This is Mark Wakely. I have some news for you.”

“Mr. Wakely,” Carl acknowledged the private detective. “What have you come up with?”

“Some interesting stuff,” Wakely insinuated.

“Well?” Carl said impatiently.

“I talked to the orderly up at Brierwood. He said there was some really weird shit happening up there in the mountains.”

“What kind of ‘weird shit’?” Carl asked, taking a pen out of his desk drawer and pulling a tablet closer to make notes.

“He said they were holding this pregnant girl and some guy in a coma.”

“A guy in a coma?” Carl wrote the word ‘Female’ and then ‘pregnant’ next to it. His hand moved to the right side of the paper and he wrote ‘Male’ followed by the word ‘coma’.

“It sounds like the guy wasn’t the important one. It was the girl they were interested in, and the baby.”

“What did the girl look like? What was her name?”

“He didn’t know. He never saw her. She was only referred to as Subject B.”

“How ‘bout the guy? Let me guess, he was called Subject A.”

“Nope,” Wakely answered. “He had a name, or at least a first name. Seems some of the technicians had worked with him at some point. His name was Joshua. He never heard a last name.”

“Joshua, huh?” Carl said, feeling a prickling on the back of his neck. He was on to something, he just wasn’t sure what.

“Yeah, but like I said, he wasn’t important. They were there because of the girl, and what she was carrying. They wanted the kid.”

“Why? What was so special about the baby?”

“Mind you, this guy never saw the girl, but the rumors around the place said that the baby wasn’t completely human.”

Not this again, Carl thought with a sigh. “What else did he say? Was this Joshua, the one in the coma, was he the father of the child?”

“No. This guy, the orderly, wasn’t there when it happened, but he swears that the baby’s father tore the place apart trying to find his kid and the kid’s mother. He was friends with one of the security guards that was working that night. I traced him to a company in Chandler, not far from you. You want me to go there and talk to him?”

Carl was silent for a minute and then he made up his mind. “No. Give me his name and address. I’ll get in touch with him myself.” Carl jotted the information down and then asked, “Is that it?”

“Well, there was one other thing,” Wakely offered.

“What’s that?”

“Well, you asked me to check around Roswell for anything unusual about this Max Evans and Elizabeth Parker. Seems something pretty strange happened to her in a restaurant her parents own.”

“Something strange? Like what?” Carl sat forward, taping his pen on the paper.

“A few years ago, back when she was in high school, there was a rumor that she was shot in an altercation in the restaurant, and this Max Evans saved her life somehow.”

“Really,” Carl said, intrigued.

“Yeah. It doesn’t look like she was really shot, though. The paramedics that treated her at the scene reported only that she was shaken up, and treated for bumps and bruises from the fall she took, but the rumors she was shot persisted. And then there was another rumor too, a weird one.”

What wasn’t weird about this case, Carl wondered? “What other rumor?”

“They said she had a silver handprint on her stomach, right where she was supposedly shot. What do you make of that?”

That prickling on the back of Carl’s neck had just risen in intensity. A silver handprint? A silver mark that appeared, and then disappeared maybe?

“Thanks Wakely,” Carl said distractedly. He heard him vaguely say he’d keep digging, and then Carl hung up the phone and stared down at the notes he had taken.

Pregnant girl – Liz?
Baby – not completely human? – Ellie?
Joshua – coma – Joshua who?
Liz shot?
Silver handprint?

What did it all mean? He looked at the name of the security guard Wakely had given him, and the phone number for a company in Chandler. He picked up the phone and began to punch in the numbers.

* * * * *

Liz finished tossing the last of the bread to the ducks that were still squawking for more. She had one piece left and she eyed the quiet mallard that stood off to the side, more skittish than the others. He looked like he wanted a piece badly, but was too timid to fight for it. Liz inched closer to him, holding out her hand temptingly and shooing away the more aggressive ducks.

He eyed her suspiciously as her hand reached out to him with the tasty morsel and he stepped back. “Come on,” Liz spoke soothingly. “Don’t run away. This one’s just for you.” His head turned this way and that, watching her warily as she moved closer. His bill stretched out tentatively and then he drew it back abruptly as another duck barreled into him, trying to steal the bread.

Max watched her determination to reach the timid duck. She wasn’t going to give up on him and she wasn’t going to leave until she coaxed him to take the bread from her hand. It reminded him that despite everything they had been through, she’d never given up on him either.

Not in the beginning, when he had pulled away from her in fear that he was just too different. Not later when she’d been subjected to hideous treatment in the Institute when they were captured, all because of who and what he was. Not when he’d found escape and she’d been left alone to the mercy of the monsters.

She’d never given up on him, not even when he lost Ellie.

She’d supported him through everything, even after he let Johnson slip through his fingers. Throughout it all, her love and support for him had never wavered. He didn’t think there was any way he could love her more than he did right now, but with every day that passed, he loved her more than the day before.

She bent forward, resting one hand on her knee while reaching out with the other. The breadcrumb was held between her fingers and her thumb, while she softly urged the mallard to take it. He stretched his long neck slowly and carefully and then snatched the treat from her fingertips. He gobbled it down quickly and Liz straightened up, pressing her hand against the ache in her lower back, and smiling at him as he flapped his wings and dove back into the pond.

“Let’s go home.” Liz turned, holding out her hand to Max and he slipped his fingers between hers. He held her hand tightly as they headed for the parking lot and when they passed the swings she slowed and came to a stop. She watched the children laughing and playing and asked, “Is that where it started?”

“You mean Cindy Morgan?” Max asked.

“Yes,” she looked up at him.

He silently nodded his head in answer. “She was playing on the far swing, and then she chased the kitten that way, over to those trees.” He stretched his arm out and Liz looked in the direction he was pointing.

“I know the work you do is sometimes hard on you,” Liz turned her eyes back to him. “The things you see, things that should never happen to adults, let alone children, but when you save a life like you saved Cindy, when you find a child and take away the hurt and return them to their family, it’s the greatest gift you can give.”

“It is hard sometimes,” Max drew her into his arms. “But it can also be the most rewarding experience in the world. When I saw Cindy and her mother together . . .”

“I know,” Liz held him tightly, knowing that for him it was both uplifting and heart rending at the same time. Lifting her head from his chest she looked up into the face of this special man, the man she’d been lucky enough to share her life with. She looked into those expressive eyes of his, eyes that were the windows to his soul, a soul that was good and pure and so full of love. She caressed his cheek gently and said, “Let’s go home.”

Walking hand in hand, they exited the park and crossed the parking lot, passing a sign depicting a coyote howling under the blazing desert sun with the words Coyote Canyon Park carved into the wood. Max opened the car door for her and Liz paused before she climbed inside, looking out over the park one last time.

“I like it here, Max,” she said, looking over the lush green lawns and the picnic tables and the playground. It felt right to be here. A part of her didn’t want to leave this place, this peaceful, quiet place in the midst of the hustle and bustle of city life. “We should come back again.”

“We will,” Max promised. “We’ll come back soon.”


I'll be back around the end of February, after my trip to sunny California is over! I'l have the next part for you then.

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 11-Feb-2002 5:30:44 AM ]
posted on 2-Mar-2002 3:04:40 AM by Breathless
Fly by authors note:

I'm backkkkkkkkk! Thanks for all the bumps! Sanne, I love all the dog pics you posted! Keep it up and maybe I'll find the dog I want little Matthew to have!

California was great. I want to stay there! It was in the 80's and 90's and I sooooo love the heat! Andrea and I had a great time and we just got back this morning. I pulled into my driveway at 4:30 am (Friday morning) after an 18 hour drive!

Yes, I spent a little time in Covina and the best part was meeting Shiri. Nick and Adam were great too! For those of you that don't think too much of Jesse, just know that Adam is sooo nice. Hopefully my pictures will turn out okay. Bill Sadler was directing the episode I was watching being filmed, and he was great and very gratious. He's a wonderful man.

I know we've all heard the stories that Shiri doesn't have a lot of interaction with the fans, but she couldn't have been nicer to my daughter. Andrea not only got her drawings signed, she got Shiri hugs too! She really made the whole trip worthwhile!

I will have a new part of Captive Hearts ready to post on Sunday night. In the mean time, I have a new story I wrote most of just before I left. It's not long, just 11 chapters I think when all is said and done, and I'll be posting it over the next couple of weeks. It's Liz centered and it's called Pieces of the Past. Watch for it! The first part goes up tonight!


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 2-Mar-2002 3:10:27 AM ]
posted on 2-Mar-2002 3:17:18 AM by Breathless
Jbehrbabe, even when I don't intend to write NC-17, it always ends up that way! My Max and Liz just can't keep their hands off each other! But the new fic is a Liz fic, so you'll just have to read it to see! And thank you for the compliment. I'm glad you enjoy reading it because I certainly enjoy writing it!

posted on 4-Mar-2002 1:29:55 AM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17

Note: I was hoping I'd get a chance to download some pictures from my trip to post here, but I haven't had the time yet. Why is it you always need a vacation to recover from your vacation?

Sanne, I love that last puppy you posted. He looks like a dog the Evans boys could love. What should we name the little guy? Why am I assuming it's a boy dog? Hummmm. Male dogs spend most of their time licking their . . . nevermind. Can't you just see a young Matthew throwing a stick for the puppy to chase, while proud Max stands by watching with a smile on his face?

Well, let's get on with the next part and see what happens . . .

Captive Hearts
Part 73

Max finished adjusting his tie and glanced at Liz’s reflection in the dresser mirror. She was starting to stir, and he could feel that humming in the back of his mind begin to intensify. For some reason, his connection to her had been stronger these last few days, while at the same time Matthew had quieted down. After he thought about it, he was pretty sure he knew the reason why, and he felt his stomach clench in both anticipation and trepidation. His son was getting ready to be born. Soon.

In the reflection, he saw Liz stretch and reach across the bed, and he smiled knowing she was reaching for him. Feeling only the empty sheets, she lifted her head to look around the room.

“Morning,” he turned from the mirror and walked up to the side of the bed. “How do you feel?”

“Fine,” she reached for his hand and pulled him down beside her. “Are you leaving now?”

“After I do this,” he leaned down and kissed her good morning. “I’ll probably be in the office most of the day,” he said when their lips parted. “I have to do the paperwork on the last case, and then there’s some research that Carl wants me to do for him. Call me if you need me.”

“I will,” she squeezed his hand. “Don’t worry about us. Besides,” she smiled, “you’ll know as soon as I do when something starts to happen.”

“I know, but-” he started to say with a nervous look on his face.

“Max,” she cut him off. “Go to work! I’ll be fine.” He kissed her once more and she watched him leave, sensing his conflicted emotions. He wanted to stay with her, just in case something happened, but he also knew it could still be days and he had work to do. He paused in the doorway, looking back at her one last time, sensing that his life was about to change. He didn’t know it yet, but he was right.

* * * * *

Carl sat at his desk making notes in the margin of the file he was looking at, and glancing occasionally over at Max. He leaned back in his chair, thinking back on the conversation he’d had with Mark Wakely earlier in the week. How much of what the man said was real and how much was pure crap?

It was true that Max and Liz had been held against their will and subjected to medical experimentation, for reason’s Carl still didn’t understand. They’d been a couple of kids, straight A students, and according to the reports, Max had been quiet and reserved and seemed to blend into the background while Liz was the more outgoing of the two, involved with the science club and other school activities. Neither one of them seemed remarkable, except that silver handprint thing.

Carl was still trying to decide what he thought of that. He wouldn’t have given it any credence at all, a silver handprint covering the skin where a bullet hole supposedly had been, but then there was the whole thing with Cindy Morgan. She’d had a silver mark on her arm. On her broken arm. The broken arm that wasn’t broken anymore.

But still, this guy Wakely had sounded like he thought Max was some kind of monster or something, wreaking havoc and destruction, killing on a murderous rampage as he searched for Liz. Max? Murder someone? Not likely. Not the Max he knew. Max was about as non violent as they came, except . . .

There had been that one incident, when Carl had seen him lose control, that day at Maryvale hospital, when Johnson got away. He’d been surprised that day by his violent outburst, slamming his fist into the wall. Actually, it was more like slamming his fist through the wall, Carl reminded himself. Still, that was a far cry from killing someone.

Max shifted in his chair again and Carl noticed how he rubbed at his lower back. He’d been fidgeting all morning long, very uncharacteristically, and Carl thought he was going to wear a rut in the floor from his constant trips to the water cooler. Max pushed his chair back and Carl muttered, “There he goes again.”

Max rose to his feet, wincing at the ache in the small of his back. Those Braxton Hicks contractions were giving him fits today. It was a good thing that he wasn’t out in the field today because he was having a hard time concentrating. He poured himself another cool drink of water and then returned to his desk. He closed the file he was working on and then selected another.

He settled down, or tried to, and then a muscle spasm hit his abdomen. He rubbed his hand over his stomach and glanced at the clock on the wall. The last one he’d had was about forty minutes ago. He’d better call.

He picked up the phone and punched in the numbers, waiting anxiously for Liz to answer. He felt a rush of relief when she picked up on the third ring and she’d barely had a chance to say hello before he was blurting out, “Are you okay?”

“Max? Is that you?” His voice sounded so strained she barely recognized him.

“I felt that. Did you feel that? Was that a contraction? Are you having contractions? Are you in labor? Should I come home? Should I call Rachel? Should I call your Mom? I’m leaving now! I’ll be home in five minutes!”

He started to rise to his feet and then Liz’s voice broke through his panic. “Max, calm down! I’m not in labor!”

“You’re not?” He dropped back into the chair. “Are you sure?”

“Well, no, I’m not sure,” she admitted and Max jumped to his feet again. She could feel his tension through their link and said soothingly, “Max, calm down. Yes, that was a contraction, but that doesn’t mean I’m in labor yet. One contraction does not make active labor.”

“That’s the second one. The first one was forty minutes ago.”

“Well, yes. You’re right. The first one was forty minutes ago.”

Oh God! Max sank back into the chair. She’s had two contractions. Oh God!

“Max, are you still there?” she asked when the line fell silent.

“Yes,” he squeaked.

“Max,” Liz laughed. “Go back to work. It’s way to soon to panic.”

“Are you sure? Cause I think I’m much better today at panicking than I am at working. I can come home right now if you want me to. I’ll just tell Carl-”

“Max, relax. I’ll let you know when it’s time to panic.” She put her hand over her mouth so he wouldn’t hear her laugh. She had a feeling this labor was going to be harder for him than it would be for her.

Carl was curiously watching Max from his desk. One minute he’s sitting, then he’s standing, then he’s sitting again, then he’s standing. Couldn’t the guy make up his mind?

Max hung up the phone and took a deep breath, trying to calm down. He was a bundle of nervous energy without an outlet. His foot was bouncing up and down, his fingers were tapping on the desktop, his mind was racing a mile a minute. She was home all alone and maybe going into labor! What if she tripped and fell? What if her water broke? Maybe he should call her again. His hand reached for the phone just as it rang. He picked it up and managed to say “Chil-” before her stern voice cut him off.

“Max Evans, stop panicking! I can feel it!”

“Liz? Are you all right?” Max asked worriedly. He was on his feet again, ready to race for the door.

“Max! You just asked me that, not two minutes ago!” Liz huffed.

“But honey, you called me!” Max protested. “I thought maybe something had changed.”

“No,” Liz sighed. “Nothing has changed. I’m perfectly capable of staying home alone. I’m a big girl, remember?” She shifted the phone and muttered, “Too damn big.”

“What did you say?” Max asked as he sat back down on the chair. Behind him, Carl was leaning back in his chair with his feet propped up on his desk, and his arms folded over his chest with a wide smile on his face. Watching Max, the nervous father-to-be, was quite a show to see.

“Max, I want you to do me a favor,” Liz spoke firmly.

“What? What do you want me to do? Do you need something? Do you need it now?” He was on his feet again.

“I want you to go out of the squad room and down the hall and then go outside and walk across the street and go in that little donut shop. I want you to buy a whole box of donuts. Pick your favorite kind. Then walk back across the street and go back to your desk and eat every one of those blessed donuts. While you are eating them, don’t think about anything but the donut. Look at the donut. Smell the donut. Eat the donut.” Maybe that will get him to think about something else, Liz rolled her eyes.

“You want me to eat a whole box of donuts?” Max asked.

“Yes, Max. You need the energy. Now go!”

“Okay.” Max hung up the phone and headed for the door.

* * * * *

Carl looked up to see Max walking back into the squad room holding a donut with a bite missing in one hand and a box of the sweet pastries under his arm. He appeared to be happily munching away and as he passed by the desk he held the box out saying, “Yo wa un?”

“Say again?” Carl raised his eyebrows.

Max rolled his eyes and swallowed, and then said, “Do you want a donut?”

“Sure,” Carl lifted the lid and selected a plump round one and then watched Max head back to his desk. He sat down in his chair, leaned back and put his feet up on the desk and then set the box on his stomach. Finishing the one donut, he open the box and picked out another.

“You okay there Max?” Carl asked.

“Jus eatin a donugh,” Max smiled around a mouth full of the pastry and then took another bite.

“I mean earlier,” Carl clarified. “The phone call. Is everything alright at home?”

“Yep,” Max nodded his head and looked at Carl over his shoulder. “I tho iz wa gon inna labr,” Max mumbled around the donut, “bu she sa sh wa fine.”

“You what?” Carl asked. He was trying not to laugh, but Max was acting awfully strange today.

“I said,” Max repeated, “I thought Liz was going into labor, but she said she was fine.”

“I see,” Carl finished his donut and licked the icing off his fingers exclaiming, “That was a good donut.”

“I kno,” Max crammed the last of the second donut into his mouth and lifted the lid of the box like he was going in for a third. “Thar rearry hittin tha spot. Ah ca-”

Suddenly Max dropped his feet from his desk to the floor and he sat up straight, choking and coughing with bits of donut spraying over his desk. He was rubbing his hand across his stomach, and Carl stared at him with concern, wondering if the donuts had given him a bellyache. It wouldn’t be surprising considering how fast he was eating them. Max tossed the donut box onto the floor and grabbed for the phone while he bolted to his feet and Carl thought, ‘Here we go again.’

Max stared at the clock on the wall while he waited for her to answer and he tried to wipe the donut residue off his chin. It rang once and his stomach tightened. It rang twice and he could feel a prickly sensation go up his spine. It rang three times and he could feel the panic rising. His knees turned weak when he heard her sweet voice in his ear and he let out a sigh of relief.

“Hello, Max,” Liz answered.

“That was three, Liz!”

“Calm down Max,” Liz repeated her earlier mantra.

“But that was three, Liz! Three! All forty minutes apart!” He waved his hand over his desk, removing the bits and pieces of donut he had spit out when he felt her contraction. He didn’t even realize he was doing it.

“Max, sit down.” Liz insisted.

Carl watched Max wave his hand over the desk and wondered what the hell he was doing. His young partner sat down again and Carl couldn’t help wondering how long he was going to remain seated before he jumped to his feet again.

“Listen to me Max,” Liz said calmly. “If I am going into labor, we still have a long way to go. This could go on for hours, days even.”

“Days?” Max said weakly. “But . . . but . . .”

“Welcome to the world of Childbirth,” Liz gloated. “I’m so happy we get to share this. Have I told you lately how much I love your alien powers?”

“You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?” Max leaned back in his chair and tried to make himself relax.

“Actually . . . yes!” Liz laughed.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Max hunkered over the phone, wondering if he should just call it quits and go home, even if she didn’t want him to.

“I’m fine, Max. I’ll talk to you again in forty minutes.”

He could hear her laughing as he hung up the phone and he sat there in his chair, lost in thought. Liz might be in labor! His son might be born before the end of the day! Matthew. He might be holding Matthew in his arms today. He rose to his feet, suddenly needing a drink of water.

* * * * *

Rachel stood outside the precinct wondering if she should go inside. She’d been visiting a patient not too far away and she’d decided she’d stop by to see if Carl was free for lunch, but now she wasn’t sure she should be here. Maybe he wasn’t even here. Maybe he was out on a case. Even if he was here, their relationship was still so new, so fresh, what if he thought she was pressuring him or overstepping by just dropping by his work?

She started to turn to leave and then she turned right back around and marched up the stairs and went inside. There was so much hustle and bustle that she froze, not knowing where to go or who to ask. There were people everywhere, police officers in uniform, Detectives out of uniform, people coming and going, some even in handcuffs. It was just like she’d seen it in the movies, yet somehow completely different. Everything here was real.

She was bumped from behind and she turned to apologize while the young officer gave his own. “I’m sorry, Ma’am. I didn’t see you there. Is there something I can do to help you?”

“Is it that obvious?” she asked.

“You do look a little lost,” the officer smiled.

“I came here to see Det. Montoya. Do you know if he’s here?” she asked. She told herself to quit hyperventilating. If he wasn’t here, then he wasn’t here. If he was . . . then he was. Then she could hyperventilate.

“I believe he is,” the officer said. “I saw Evans a while ago headed back to the Unit with a box of donuts. The two of them are usually together. Do you know where it is? The Unit, I mean?”

“No,” Rachel shook her head. “I’ve never been here before.”

“I’ll show you.” The officer led her through the chaos and into the depths of the precinct. “Go down this hall until you see the Children Victims Unit on the right. You can’t miss it. He should be in there.”

Rachel offered her thanks and headed down the hall. It didn’t take her long to find it and she could sense his presence before she even reached the door. It was open, and she couldn’t help but smile as he came into view, hunched over a file on his desk, deep in concentration. She rapped on the glass softly and when he lifted his face to see who was at the door, she noticed how his features softened as he smiled.

“Rachel!” he rose to his feet almost making the chair fall over behind him. Coming around his desk he asked, “What are you doing here?”

“I was in the neighborhood, and I thought I’d see if you were free for lunch.” She scrunched her eyebrows and asked, “Is that okay? I mean, is it alright for me to be here?”

“Is it alright . . .” Carl stuttered before he regained his composure. “Of course it’s alright.”

Rachel saw Max smiling at her from a small desk across the room and his grin almost made her laugh outloud. “Hi, Max.”

“Hi Rachel. Just in the neighborhood?”

“Yes,” she said pointedly and then felt the heat rise in her cheeks.

Carl watched the exchange with interest. Was Max implying that Rachel had gone out of her way to come to see him? He could only wish that were true.

“So . . .” Rachel turned back to Carl. “Can I tempt you?”

“Can you . . .?” Can she tempt him? What a loaded question!

“With lunch?” Rachel repeated.

“Lunch?” Carl stammered. “Lunch sounds great!”

“Maybe Max would like to join us?” Rachel suggested and they both turned to see him as he bolted to his feet and grabbed for the phone.

“I don’t think so,” Carl replied and shook his head mumbling, “There he goes again.”

Max, rubbing his stomach again, hissed into the phone, “That makes four, Liz!”

And with that note, look for the next part next Sunday!

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 4-Mar-2002 1:54:16 AM ]
posted on 5-Mar-2002 1:50:51 AM by Breathless

I sent you a board message with the links, but I'll post them here too in case anyone else needs them. I hope they are working ok.


Go here for parts 1 - 20

Go here for parts 21 - 40

Go here for parts 40-59

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 5-Mar-2002 1:51:40 AM ]
posted on 11-Mar-2002 1:37:18 AM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz

Note: Thanks for the bump! I would have spent all night trying to find it! Everyone seemed to enjoy part 73. Max is such a nervous father-to-be!

Edited to add the links to the previous parts


Go here for parts 1 - 20

Go here for parts 21 - 40

Go here for parts 40-59

Okay, now let's see what happens next . . .

Captive Hearts
Part 74

Chris and Tully entered the squad in their usual manner, squabbling like an old married couple. Max glanced up from the file he was reviewing and gave them a nod. “Hi guys.”

“How’s it going Max?” Chris asked, and Tully nodded his mutual interest.

“I’ve got donuts,” he offered, pointing toward the box on his desk.

“Cool,” Tully smiled and headed that way.

“Donuts will only make you fat!” Chris admonished.

“Not me!” Max rubbed his hand over his flat abs.

“Me either,” Tully stuffed one in his mouth. He chewed energetically, and then looked at Max, nodding his head to indicate the donut was indeed superb.

“It’ll catch up with you,” Chris warned.

“Not me,” Max reiterated.

“Me either,” Tully agreed and Chris grabbed the box of donuts out of his hand.

“Let me see those!” Chris was just raising a fat donut to his lips when Carl returned to the Unit, but he wasn’t alone. Chris’ mouth fell open at the sight of the woman that followed into the Unit behind his boss. She was gorgeous. She was stacked. She was hot!

Carl turned to look at Rachel, just as Max came up to urge her to the side. She held her finger up to Carl in an ‘Excuse me for just a second’ gesture and then followed Max over to his desk.

“I think Liz is in labor,” Max clutched her arm.

“Why?” she asked, feeling his concern. “What makes you think that?”

“She’s been having contractions every forty minutes all morning long!” Max blurted out.

“Max, calm down.” Rachel soothed and almost laughed at the comical expression on his face. He must have heard that before.

“Calm down? How can I calm down? Liz is in LABOR!”

“Max, I’m sure Liz told you this phase of labor, if she is in labor, can last for hours,” Rachel informed him. “Don’t panic now! How many contractions has she had?”

“Five!” Max almost shouted, not listening to her speech about not panicking. “All of them forty minutes apart!”

“When was the last one?” Rachel asked.

Max looked up at the clock and said, “About an hour ago.”

“An hour ago?” Rachel arched her eyes. “If they were every forty minutes, and now more than an hour has passed since the last one, I would say you have nothing to worry about right now. She’s not in active labor.”

“She’s not?” Max asked, feeling relieved.

“No,” Rachel smiled. “That doesn’t mean that it won’t be soon, but if you were feeling contractions every forty minutes, and suddenly you’re not, chances are she’s not in labor.”

“Thank God!” Max breathed a sigh of relief.

Rachel smiled and then turned to walk back to Carl. She shook her head thinking Max was going to be lucky to survive Matthew’s birth. It looked like he was about to come apart at the seams. As she neared Carl she said softly, “Thanks for lunch.”

She wanted to touch him, to kiss him, but everyone was staring at them. Carl noticed the way her eyes darted around the room and he chastised himself for being so rude. Placing his hand on her arm, he turned to the guys and said, “Rachel, this is Chris and Tomas, guys, this is Rachel.”

Tully politely shook her hand saying, “Call me Tully, everybody does. Nice to meet you.”

Chris followed suit, giving her hand a firm but extended grasp. He couldn’t help looking at Carl, wondering how in the world he had attracted a woman as gorgeous as this. Way to go, Rocky!

After the introductions, Rachel glanced at her watch and said, “I better get going. I have just enough time to get back to the office to make my next appointment.”

Carl placed his hand on the middle of her back and led her into the hallway. Once outside the door, he stopped and as Rachel turned to face him, he said, “I’m glad you came by. I enjoyed lunch.”

“Me too,” she smiled into his deep eyes. “Are we still on for tonight?”

“Yes,” he nodded enthusiastically. “Dinner and a movie. I’ll pick you up at 7:00?”

“How about 6:00?” she suggested.

“6:00 is even better,” Carl’s eyes twinkled. He’d be counting the minutes between now and then.

There was a moment of awkwardness between them, with Carl wanting to kiss her and Rachel wanting Carl to kiss her but there were people all around, people that Carl worked with.

“I better go,” Rachel finally said and was about to turn to leave when Carl’s hand closed around her arm to stop her. He stepped closer to her with his eyes focused on her lips and he leaned in. Time seemed to move in slow motion as their lips came together. All sound stopped except the roar of his heartbeat racing through his veins. He could feel her hands on his chest as she leaned into him, could feel an undertone of something just below the surface. Was it desire that she was trying to hold in check? Was it possible that this beautiful woman could feel desire for him?

Their lips slowly parted and their eyes opened, staring deeply at each other. The sounds around them came back into focus and Carl suddenly realized people were clapping. Startled, he looked around and the heat rose in his face as he realized they were clapping at him. Co-workers had poked their heads out of the nearby offices, watching Carl “Rocky” Montoya kiss a girl. Amid the clapping, Carl could hear calls of “Way to go Rocky!”

Carl smiled in embarrassment and Rachel dropped her head against his shoulder. Clearing his throat, he uttered a gruff, “Move on, there’s nothing to see here.”

It was standard police jargon, used to control the crowd at a crime or an accident scene and laughter filled the air as people went back to work.

“I’ll see you tonight,” Rachel said with rosy cheeks and she cupped the side of his face with her hand. She gave him one more quick kiss and then hurried down the hall. Carl watched her go with a smile on his face that spread from ear to ear.

* * * * *

Carl glanced across the room again, wondering what Max was doing. He was supposed to be going through the files, but he was certain Max hadn’t turned a page in the last thirty minutes, maybe longer. Before lunch, he’d been a bundle if nervous energy, up and down, back and forth, but now he looked almost catatonic. Was he sleeping over there? With his desk facing the wall and his back to him, Carl couldn’t tell. He pushed his chair back and crossed the room, coming up behind Max.

As he reached Max’s side and saw the look on the young man’s face, Carl’s good mood evaporated. Max had a haunted look in his eyes, a tortured expression, and Carl could see the trail of a tear that had recently spilled down his cheek.

“Max,” he asked with concern, “what’s the matter?”

Max sat up straighter and dipped his head, wiping his hand across his face to erase the evidence of his loss of control. He sniffled and blinked rapidly to clear his eyes and then finally raised them up to look at Carl. Pulling one of the files closer, he cleared his throat and said, “Sorry about that. I guess I zoned out for a minute.”

He leaned over the file, trying to see the words, trying to do his job, but Carl was still hovering next to him. Out of the corner of his eye, Max saw him turn around and lean back against the desk with his arms folded over his chest.

“You want to talk about it?” Carl asked softly.

“Talk about it?” Max pretended not to know what he meant. Carl just looked down at him and Max had to look away.

“You know,” Carl stared off toward the other side of the room, “sometimes it helps to talk about it.” He glanced back down at Max, who was staring at the unopened file in front of him. Carl took in his continued silence, worried about this young man that he’d grown so fond of, but not wanting to over step his bounds. He unfolded his arms and gave Max a squeeze on the shoulder, saying, “I’m a pretty good listener. If you ever feel the need to talk, you know where to find me.”

Carl started to push away from the desk and stopped abruptly when Max began to speak. “I was thinking about the night Ellie was born. If I’d only gotten there sooner. A day, an hour . . . if only . . .”

“Max,” Carl said sympathetically. “You were seventeen. You can’t blame yourself. You carry all this guilt around and you’re not being fair to yourself.”

“You weren’t there, Carl,” Max propped his elbow on his desk and leaned his head into his hand. “You didn’t see what I did. You didn’t-” feel what I felt, Max thought.

Just like today, he’d felt Liz’s contractions that day too. He’d felt the muscles in his abdomen spasm with growing frequency as time was running out. He’d felt so helpless, waiting and waiting and when he did go in, it was too late. He’d waited too long.

Liz’s contractions had stopped a couple of hours ago, just like they’d stopped that night, and his mind wouldn’t let him forget what that had meant. He knew Liz was safe, at home, but he couldn’t get the image of her lying on the operating table, covered with her own blood, out of his mind. He couldn’t stop thinking of that brief glimpse of Ellie God had let him see, before she was taken away from him, before he lost her.

“Max, I’ve been on this job for a lot of years. It’s been my life. I’ve lived it and breathed it, and there’s one thing I’ve seen happen over and over again. More times than I can count, I’ve seen the victim eaten alive with guilt, thinking they brought it on themselves. I’ve seen little kids say ‘if only they had been better, their Daddy wouldn’t have hurt them’. Max, what happened to you, and Liz, and Ellie . . . it’s not your fault. You were the victim.”

“I know,” Max said so quietly Carl could barely hear him.

“You know it, but you don’t let yourself believe it,” Carl pressed on. “You were sixteen when they took you and Liz. Sixteen,” he stressed. “No sixteen year old kid could fight what happened to you. If you want to assign blame, put it on the bastards that did that to you.”

“But it was my responsibility to keep Liz safe, and I didn’t do that,” his voice cracked.

“It was my responsibility to protect Michelle,” Carl said gently, “but I couldn’t stop the cancer from taking her life.”

“Carl, I . . .” Max suddenly looked up at him.

“Sometimes things happen that are beyond our control.” Carl stood up straight and squeezed Max’s shoulder again. “I want you to go home. Knock off early. And when you open that front door of yours and see your pretty wife, take a look at how she sees you. I know I’ve seen the way she looks at you, Max. She doesn’t blame you for anything. You shouldn’t either.”

“Carl-” Max didn’t know what he wanted to say, he only knew he felt a kinship with this man.

Carl pushed off from the desk and headed back toward his own. “Go home, Max. That’s an order from your Commanding Officer.” As Carl sat down he couldn’t help smiling as Max scrambled to clear his desk. He pushed his chair in and headed for the door, pausing as he passed by Carl’s desk.

“Carl . . .” Max fidgeted with a file sitting in his in basket. His eyes raised slowly and meet the older man’s gaze and said haltingly, “Thanks . . . for listening . . . for . . . hearing me.”

“Anytime, Max,” sensing how difficult it was for him to open up. He was a man full of secrets, that Carl hoped he’d someday feel comfortable enough to share. Eager for his young charge to be on his way, Carl said, “Go home. Your wife is waiting for you. I’ll see you on Monday. Until then, have a good weekend.”

“You too,” Max smiled, feeling his spirits lifting. “You too.”

* * * * *

“Liz!” Max called out energetically as he opened the front door. “Liz!” He’d been in a funk all afternoon, worried about her, unable to get his mind off the past or his fears that the past would somehow be repeated. This morning when he’d felt her contractions he’d been too keyed up and excited to even think, but when they stopped, that’s when his mind had dredged up all his worries and his fears. Now that he was home, he could relax. He was with her this time. Nothing bad could happen to her as long as he was with her. He wouldn’t let it.

“Max, what’s the matter?” Liz scurried out of the kitchen. “Why are you home so early?”

“Because I couldn’t stand to be away from you for another minute!” he hurried over to her. “I brought you something.”

“What?” she asked, trying to see what he was holding behind his back. “What are you hiding? Did you get Matthew another stuffed animal? Max!”

“No, Liz,” Max shook his head, grinning from ear to ear. “This is just for you. Only you.”

Max brought his hand out from behind his back and instead of the teddy bear she expected to see, Max presented her with an oversized Pegasus, a white horse with gossamer wings.

“ Max!” Liz cried. “You bought this for me?”

“Kind of,” Max smiled. “Um, I couldn’t find a horse with wings, so I bought a Unicorn, and then took away the horn and added the wings.”

“Oh Max,” she sighed. “It’s perfect. You’re perfect.” She reached up to kiss him and then she headed for the bedroom with Pegasus in tow.

Watching her waddle off toward the back of the house, he couldn’t help but think back on what Carl said, and think that he had been right. When she’d come out of the kitchen, when her eyes had fallen on him, he saw only one thing there. It wasn’t blame. It wasn’t accusation. It wasn’t regret for the life she had lived, because of him. The only thing he saw in her eyes when she looked at him was the depth of her uncompromising love.

“Liz?” Max said softly, standing just inside the front door.

“What, Max?” she paused, turning back to look at him.

His eyes were glued to her, standing there in the middle of the living room looking so small and fragile. But inside, in her heart and in her mind, she was the strongest person he had ever met. Her inner strength never failed to amaze him.

“I just . . . I want you to know . . . I love you, Liz.” He looked at her with that vulnerable air about him. “I don’t want you to ever forget that.”

She walked back to him, dropping Pegasus on the couch so she could slip her arms around his waist. Holding her, Max felt an ultimate sense of completion. He was meant to be with her, holding her like this. Nothing compared to how it felt to be with her. He kissed the top of her head, thinking that he could hold her this way forever, but Mother Nature had other plans.

They both gasped as they felt another contraction.

I'll be back next Sunday with the next part

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 11-Mar-2002 2:00:16 AM ]
posted on 18-Mar-2002 12:42:34 AM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17

Note: Thanks for all the bumps! This board moves so fast, sometimes it’s hard to find it.

This part will be posted in 2 posts due to length.

Let’s see, where did we leave off . . . oh, that’s right, Max just came home and brought Liz a present. She rewarded him by going into labor. Let’s see what happens next . . .

Captive Hearts
Part 75

Max was pacing back and forth in their bedroom and Liz sat in the rocking chair he’d drug in from Matthew’s room. She had to bite at her lower lip to keep from laughing at him. He really was adorable as he moved non-stop around the room.

“So I put clean sheets on the bed.” He was going over their list of everything they need to do to be ready for Matthew’s birth.

“Check,” Liz made a checkmark on Max’s neatly prepared list.

“And there’s lots of clean towels,” he pointed at the stack he had placed on the dresser.

“Check,” Liz made another mark.

“And your focal point is on the dresser next to the towels,” he indicated the statue of Pegasus.

“Check,” Liz made another enthusiastic mark. “Oh! I want Peggy! I’ll go get him.” She started to push herself out of the chair when Max stopped her.

“Oh no you don’t,” he marched over to her. “You stay right there. I’ll go get him.” He stopped in the doorway, turning a puzzled look in her direction and asked, “Who’s Peggy and why does he have a girl’s name?”

“Peggy is the stuffed animal you brought home,” Liz laughed. “He’s on the couch in the living room.”

“Oh.” Max disappeared down the hall and came back a minute later with the big white horse tucked under his arm, mumbling, “I feel sorry for you buddy, saddled with a name like Peggy.”

“Just put him on the bed, by the pillows,” Liz instructed.

“Yes Ma’am.” That completed, Max looked around the room saying, “Now where were we?”

“I need to pee,” she announced. She started to rise to her feet and Max raced over to help her out of the chair. He held her around the waist as she walked toward the bathroom and in the doorway she paused and sighed. Looking up at him she said, “Max, I think I’m still capable of peeing on my own.”

He stared at her like he wasn’t so sure about that, but he let her go into the bathroom alone. “Leave the door open though,” he insisted and Liz rolled her eyes.

“He’s going to drive me crazy,” Liz muttered as she settled on the toilet.

“What was that?” Max called out from the bedroom.

“I said I love you,” Liz answered loudly.

“I love you too, Baby. Are you done yet?”

“Yes,” Liz rolled her eyes again. “I’ll be there in a second.” She turned around to flush and glanced down into the bowl. “Oh.”

“Oh? Did you say ‘Oh’?” Max poked his head into the bathroom and asked, “Why did you say ‘Oh’?”

“I just lost my mucous plug,” Liz smiled as she waddled past him and returned to the bedroom.

“You just what?” Max suddenly felt weak in the knees. He knew what that meant. The mucous plug blocked the cervix, to prevent bacteria and things from reaching the baby. If she lost the mucous plug, that meant . . . the baby . . . was coming . . . oh shit. He needed to sit down.

“I think I should call Rachel,” Liz made her way to the bed and sat on the edge. She glanced at Max as she picked up the phone and saw how pale he had become. He was sitting in the rocking chair now and his hands were clenching the armrests. She punched in Rachel’s home phone number and waited while it rang.

“Maybe she’s not there,” Max said apprehensively. “What if she’s not there? What if we can’t reach her?”

“Hi Rachel,” Liz stared pointedly at Max. “This is Liz . . . I’m fine. Max is panicking . . . Yes . . . I just lost my mucous plug . . . yes . . . yes . . . the contractions started about two hours ago . . . yes . . . about every twenty minutes . . . okay . . . okay . . . okay. I’ll talk to you then. Okay. Bye.”

“What’d she say?” Max asked before she’d even taken the phone away from her ear.

“We’re gonna have a baby.”

* * * * *

Rachel heard the doorbell just as she hung up the phone and she looked at her watch. 6:00 o’clock, right on time. She hurried across the living room to the front door and paused to smooth her hair and adjust her shirt before opening it. The door swung open with a slight creak and there, standing on her porch, was Carl, looking very relaxed and charming.

He wasn’t wearing a tie tonight, and the first two buttons on his white shirt were open. She could see the dark hair on his chest and she unconsciously licked her lips. She liked a man with hair on his chest. He was wearing jeans tonight, faded blue jeans, and she couldn’t help noticing how well they hugged his hips. Yes, they hugged his hips quite well. My, he had nice hips. Nice arms too. He’d rolled back the long sleeves of his shirt to the middle of his forearms and his muscular physique was quite evident. With the sleeves rolled up like that, it showed off his deep skin tone and his rippling muscles. He wasn’t a tall man, but he was powerfully built. Her tongue darted out from between her lips again.

“Hi,” Carl smiled at the sight of her. “I’m not late, am I?”

“Right on time,” Rachel stepped back to let him in.

He followed her into the house, trying not to stare at the way her white slacks fit her vivacious curves. She stopped suddenly and he nearly ran into her as she turned around to face him. He was only inches from her and he told himself not to look down at the way the soft yellow shirt hugged her full breasts.

Don’t look. Don’t look. He looked. He couldn’t help it.

“About dinner . . .” Rachel said as she turned around and then the heat in his eyes made her lose track of what she was going to say. She didn’t think she’d ever seen anyone look at her quite that way before. She felt his hands on her hips and then his lips were on hers. His soft, warm, sensual lips. She thought he had the most amazing lips, and his kiss . . . the way he kissed . . . she hadn’t been lying when she told Liz that he was a good kisser. As she wrapped her arms around his broad shoulders she couldn’t help wondering, what else was he good at?

The phone rang and Rachel reluctantly pulled away from him. She couldn’t take her eyes off of his lips as they parted, and Carl said huskily, with his hands still resting on her hips, “Are you gonna get that?”

She nodded distractedly, and then the insistent ringing broke through her heated thoughts. She crossed into the living room, looking back at Carl as she answered the phone.

“Hello? Oh, hi Max . . . yes, I’m still here . . . yes . . . tonight? Probably . . . she’s still in the first stage of labor . . . well, it could last for hours . . . it’s her second pregnancy, so this one should go faster than the first . . . yes, I’ve got everything . . . I won’t forget . . . it’s in the bag . . . it’s in the bag . . . Max, this isn’t my first delivery . . . Something to eat? When was her last meal? . . . only something light, toast or broth and juice is fine, things like that . . . Max, you can eat what ever you want. You’re not in labor . . . sorry, I forgot . . . yes, I know . . . Max, I’m going out to dinner now. Call me on my cell phone if anything changes . . . well, like if her water breaks . . . yes, if anything like that happens, call me . . . if I don’t hear from you, I’ll call you as soon as I’m finished with dinner . . . well, a movie, but . . . no, I won’t go to the movie without calling you first . . . Max, relax. I’ll see you soon.”

Carl watched Rachel hang up the phone and he said with a laugh, “That was Max.”

“Yes,” Rachel laughed too. “You can understand why he’s so nervous, but still. Poor Liz. I think he’s driving her crazy.”

“I know he was driving me crazy at work today!”

“Carl,” Rachel came up to him and gently rested her hand against his chest. “About the movie, I think little Matthew Evans has other plans for me. Dinner’s not a problem, but after that, I really should get over to their place. They don’t have a lot of support here, I mean their family all lives in Roswell, so I really think I should get there early. I’m sorry.”

“Not a problem,” Carl ran his hand up and down her arm. “I’ll go with you. Besides, watching Max is kind of like being at the Comedy Club.”

* * * * *

Max picked up the phone and punched in the numbers, listening impatiently while it rang on the other end. After the fourth ring Max heard Maria’s voice say hello and he blurted out, “Liz is in labor. Spread the word. Bye.”

“Max, what did you just do?” Liz looked at him quizzically.

“I just told Maria you’ve gone into labor. Why?” He was looking at her with one finger on the disconnect button, and the other hand holding the phone to his ear.

“Did you get her answering machine?” Liz asked.

“No. It was her.” He frowned at Liz. Time was wasting and he had more calls to make.

“You just blurted that out and then hung up on her?” Liz asked in amazement.

“Um . . . yes.” Was that wrong?

The phone rang and Liz held out her hand. She knew who it was. He passed it over to her and Liz could hear Maria’s hysterical voice coming over the line, loud and clear. “Hi Maria . . . yes . . . about two hours ago . . . Rachel said he might be born before midnight . . . Yes, Maria, I know it’s Friday the thirteenth. Max wouldn’t let me leave the house today . . . You’re coming?. . . Michael too? . . . Really? . . . Really? . . . When? . . . Maria, I’m so excited! I haven’t seen you since Christmas! . . . drive carefully . . . okay . . . I will . . . we will . . . see you soon . . . bye.”

“They’re coming?” Max asked as she hung up the phone.

“Everyone’s coming,” Liz laughed. “Maria can spread the word faster than the time it takes to blink an eye. I think we’re going to have a full house tomorrow.”

* * * * *

“That was wonderful,” Rachel smiled as she folded her napkin and set it next to her plate.” They had just finished a wonderful meal in a quaint Italian bistro and Carl had asked for the check.

“I’m kind of partial to this place,” Carl smiled. “Mario isn’t too keen at matchmaking, but he makes a wicked Manicotti Formaggio.

“Matchmaking?” Rachel raised her eyebrows. She could feel a touch of jealousy and it surprised her.

“Mario’s got six daughters,” Carl laughed. “The food’s so good, I’ve eaten here a lot over the years, and I think Mario decided it was his job to fix me up.”

“Well, I’m glad his matchmaking wasn’t as good as his cooking,” Rachel said and then felt her cheeks blush at her admission. She hadn’t meant it to come out so obvious.

“Me too,” Carl said pointedly. As rusty as he was at this, he wanted Rachel to know how he felt. It was important that she know he wanted more than just occasional dinners out, or an opportunity for him to hold her hand at the movies. He wanted so much more than that.

“I should check on Liz,” she looked away, feeling giddy inside. She could hardly wait to feel his lips on hers again. Punching the numbers into her cell phone, she smiled at Carl as she listened to it ring.

Back in a second with the rest . . .
posted on 18-Mar-2002 12:45:10 AM by Breathless
Captive Hearts
Part 75 con’t

“Liz, I can do that,” Max whined from behind her. “You should sit down.”

“Max,” Liz turned from the kitchen sink and stared at him over her shoulder. “In the early stages of labor, it’s best to keep active. Rachel even said so when she called a minute ago. Besides, it won’t be long before I’m flat on my back in our bedroom cursing your name, so relax while you can.”

“Cursing my name?” Max gulped.

She turned the faucet off and dried her hands on a towel while she walked over to him. “I won’t mean it if I do,” she smiled sweetly. “It’s a temporary thing. The fact that you can feel the contractions too will make it better.”

“You’re really gloating over that, aren’t you?” Max let out a little laugh.

“Yes, I-” and then she bent forward as a strong contraction took hold. Max gritted his teeth as he felt it too and held on to her, glancing up at the kitchen clock. Fifteen minutes. The contractions were fifteen minutes apart now, and getting stronger. When it was over, she straightened up and took a deep breath. She held on to him tightly with the humor gone from her face as she said softly, “I’m so glad we’re going through this together.”

“I am too, Baby,” he lifted his hand to the back of her head and gently pressed her against his chest. “I am too.” He kissed the top of her head and closed his eyes as he rested his cheek against her, trying not to remember a night two years, seven months and twenty-seven days ago, when she’d had to go through this alone.

* * * * *

Mary leaned over the side of the tub, rinsing the shampoo from Jenny’s long hair. The little girl sat up wiping the water from her eyes and demanded, “Towl.”

“Here you go sweety,” Mary dabbed her face to blot off the water. “Are you ready to get out now?”

“In a min-it,” Ellie splashed at the bubbles.

Mary smiled at the sweet child. My how she loved to play in the bath. It broke her heart to think that Jenny would never get to play in a pool in the back yard, or splash in the waves of the ocean. She seemed so healthy and perfect, and it caused Mary to shudder at the thought of what the sun could do to this dear child.

“Awl done,” Ellie announced and climbed to her feet. Mary lifted her out of the tub and set her feet on the floor, wrapping a large thick towel around her.

Mary was drying her gently so as not to damage her skin, when Ellie suddenly bent over and winced. “Jenny, what’s wrong sweety?”

“My tummy feels ucky.”

“You don’t feel good dear?” Mary asked with concern. She had never known Jenny to be ill. Not a cold, not a sniffle, not one single fever in her entire life.

“Awl bedder,” Ellie declared as the discomfort passed. She ran off in the direction of her room and Mary chased after her with the towel.

“Wait Jenny!” she chuckled. “I still have to dry your hair!” When Mary reached the bedroom door she looked inside to see Ellie standing naked by her bed, playing with her doll. “Jenny, let’s get you dressed so you don’t catch your death of cold.” Mary picked a nightgown out of a dresser drawer while Ellie continued to play with the doll. She sat down on the bed next to the child and leaned forward, saying, “Step into these.”

Ellie set the doll down and lifted first one foot and then the other to step into her underpants. She then lifted her little arms straight up in the air to let Mary drape the nightgown over her. When her head reemerged, Ellie wrapped her arms around Mary’s neck and gave her a kiss on the cheek.

“I lub you Maywe,” Ellie said tenderly and then picked up her doll again.

“I love you too, Jenny,” Mary smiled. She’d never had the good fortune of marrying or having a family of her own, but Jenny was like the child, or more appropriately grandchild, she’d never had. Ellie was rubbing the dolls tummy and Mary asked, “What are you doing, dear?”

“Mommy’s habing a baby. Her tummy feels ucky too.”

Poor child, Mary shook her head sadly. She never knew her mother, yet she fantasizes about her everyday. “Come child,” Mary held her hand out when she saw Ellie yawn and rub her eyes. “Let’s get your teeth brushed and then I’ll tuck you into bed.”

Ellie took the offered hand and she walked beside the elderly woman to the bathroom, just across from her room. With toothbrush in hand, she stepped up onto the stepstool so she could reach the sink and began to rigorously brush her teeth. She paused suddenly with a frown creasing her brow and Mary noticed her rub her tummy again.

“Is your tummy still bothering you?” Mary asked with growing concern and placed the back of her hand against Ellie’s forehead. She didn’t feel feverish, but still, Mary couldn’t help but worry.

“Awl gone,” Ellie said brightly and spit the toothpaste in the sink.

“Are you sure,” Mary fussed. “You feel fine now sweety?”

“Yep,” Ellie jumped down from the stepstool. She held still while Mary washed off her mouth and then she skipped back to her room. Climbing into bed, Ellie tucked the doll under the covers next to her, giving it a kiss on the cheek.

After saying their goodnights, Mary made her way back to the door and switched off the light. She watched Ellie for a moment and then still feeling uneasy, she made her way to the Doctor’s study. Maybe it was only a passing thing, but he needed to know something might be wrong with his daughter.

* * * * *

Liz rinsed off the last plate and handed it to Max to dry. Looking around, she was satisfied that the place looked presentable. She stood in the kitchen, deep in thought, with her hands on her hips and then asked, “Should I put on a pot of coffee?”

“I’ll do it,” Max put the plate in the cupboard and then reached for the canister they kept the coffee in. Liz was right, he decided as he worked around the kitchen. It was better to keep busy, keep active, and not think about the next contraction.

The sound of the doorbell interrupted the quiet of the house and Liz said, “You get that and I’ll start the coffee.”

Max nodded and headed off toward the living room and the front of the house. He flung the door open and felt a sense of relief surge through him. Annie and Josh had arrived. They’d been through this twice before and suddenly Max wasn’t feeling quite so alone anymore.

“Josh! Annie! Come in. Liz is in the-”

Just then a muscle spasm rippled through his abdomen, followed immediately by a resounding crash from the direction of the kitchen. “Liz!” Max cried out and took off in a panic, bursting into the room expecting to see the worst. Had she slipped? Had she fallen? Was she hurt? Racing into the kitchen, he saw her standing near the coffee pot with the broken canister in pieces on the floor with coffee grounds spilled all around her feet. She must have dropped it when the contraction hit.

“Are you okay, Liz?” Max rushed to her, noticing how she was hunched over. “What’s wrong?”

“My water broke,” Liz said calmly and that’s when Max noticed the wetness on her pants and the fluid on the floor.

“You’re water broke?” Max repeated numbly. What a strange phrase. Water couldn’t break. Water was liquid. Water was fluid. Water ebbed and flowed. It didn’t break.

Annie pushed by him and put her arm around Liz’s waist. “I think we should get you cleaned up.” Liz nodded and the two women brushed by the slack jawed men. As they left the kitchen, Annie pointed at the mess on the floor and said to Max, “You want to get that cleaned up?”

“Where’s Amber and Joey?” Liz asked as they reached the bedroom.

“Daniel and Sarah have them for the night,” Annie hustled Liz into the bathroom. “They send their love. Now, tell me everything that’s happened.”

“I had contractions all morning but they stopped around lunch time. They started up again about four o’clock, and now they’re coming about every fifteen minutes.”

“And how long do they last?” Annie asked as she got a towel out of the linen closet.

“Half a minute, maybe. But they’re starting to get longer.” Liz slipped her pants down her legs and took the towel from Annie.

“You should put on something comfortable,” Annie suggested. “Since you water broke, you’re probably going to leak. Check to see if the amniotic fluid is clear. Rachel will want to know that. By the way, where is Rachel?”

“She’s on the way,” Liz gave Annie an impish grin. “Carl’s bringing her. They just finished dinner.”

“Are things getting serious?” Annie arched her eyebrows.

“I think so,” Liz almost giggled. “I think he’s the one. Rachel’s crazy about him and judging by the way he looks at her, Max says he’s a goner too!”

* * * * *

Carl pulled to a stop in front of the small home with the immaculate front yard and it’s abundance of rose bushes. Rachel climbed from the passenger side and Carl opened the back door to retrieve one of her medical bags.

“You sure you got everything Max wanted?” Carl teased.

“I sure hope so!” Rachel laughed. Her cell phone rang just as she reached the front door and Carl rang the doorbell. Rachel fished her phone out of her purse and said “Hello,” just as the door opened.

Max stood in the doorway with a phone at his ear and when he said “Rachel,” she heard it not only coming from his mouth, but in her ear too. “You’re here. Liz’s water broke.”

“When?” she asked and then they both looked at their phones with wry expressions on their faces before putting them away.

“Just a few minutes ago,” Max’s eyes darted back inside. “She was in the kitchen when it happened.”

“Where is she now?” she asked as she stepped into the house.

“In the bedroom,” Max answered and Rachel thought he looked a little shellshocked. “Annie’s with her.”

“Well, I know where I’m needed,” Rachel smiled and headed in Liz’s direction.

“Hey Max,” Carl slapped him on the back and closed the front door. “It’s been quite a day for you, huh?”

“No shit,” Max muttered.

Carl laughed and then Josh came out of the kitchen and something clicked in his mind. He felt that prickly sensation on the back of his neck, the feeling he always got when he was on to something important. The words Mark Wakely had said on the phone the other day suddenly came back loud and clear.

“He said they were holding this pregnant girl and some guy in a coma.”

“A guy in a coma?”

“It sounds like the guy wasn’t the important one. It was the girl they were interested in, and the baby.”

“What did the girl look like? What was her name?”

“He didn’t know. He never saw her. She was only referred to as Subject B.”

“How ‘bout the guy? Let me guess, he was called Subject A.”

“Nope, he had a name, or at least a first name. Seems some of the technicians had worked with him at some point. His name was Joshua. He never heard a last name.”

“Hi Carl,” Josh held his hand out and the two men shook hands. “Good to see you again.”

“How’ve you been?” Carl asked while his mind raced. Liz had been held at Haystack Mountain with a man named Joshua. Joshua had been in a coma. From an injury maybe? Maybe from an altercation in a rescue attempt? A botched one that resulted in only one of the captives escaping? Could Josh Lansing be the Joshua that had been with Liz?

“Carl! I need that bag,” Rachel called out from the bedroom.

“It seems like the women are in charge tonight,” Carl laughed and headed for the bedroom, stealing a look back at Max and Josh as he left the living room. Were the pieces of the puzzle starting to fall into place? He had yet to make contact with the security guard Wakely had told him about, and if he had to, he’d send Chris and Tully to pick him up and bring him to the station. There were a ton of questions swirling around in his head that he didn’t have the answers to, but it was just a matter of time.

Look for the next part next Sunday . . .

‘I Wish’ fanaft by Andrea

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 18-Mar-2002 12:46:37 AM ]
posted on 25-Mar-2002 1:23:55 AM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz

Author Note: Sanne, Matthew says thank you for all your fine efforts to help him convince his mother that he should have a dog. Your dogged determination is wearing Liz down! Of course, posting pictures of Ronin never hurts! Who's that guy next to Ronin? LOL

Edited to add a new link to chapters 1 to 59. You can find them on the Boardello board here:

I hope that link works!

Enough of my idle chatter. We've got a baby waiting to be born. On with the story . . .

Captive Hearts

Max watched Rachel as she draped sterile sheets over the bed, the kind that made his skin crawl to look at. They were green, the same green shade that had draped Liz before, in that other place, in that house of horrors. Liz was in the bathroom changing into a fresh gown and Max didn’t want her to see this.

“Rachel, is that necessary?” he asked quietly. “I put fresh sheets on the bed. Do we need those too?”

“These are sterile, Max,” Rachel squeezed his arm. “The others aren’t.”

“But . . .” he stared at them. He trembled as a quick series of images, memories, invaded his mind. Memories of Liz on the operating table. The blood. So much blood. The open incision on her abdomen. The nightmare that still haunted him.

“Max,” Rachel said with concern etched all over her face. He’d turned so pale. “What’s wrong?”

“Can I at least change the color?” he asked in a small voice.

Understanding flooded through her as she realized what had set him off. “Of course, Max. I’m sorry, I should have thought.”

His hand trembled slightly as he touched the corner of the sheet and he turned it from green to pale blue, the color of the sky. Liz would like that color, Max was certain. He turned to look at her as she came out of the bathroom dressed in a gown that she had selected just for this event, made of cotton, covered with pictures of little boys playing with puppy dogs. It had made Max laugh when she picked it out, and he smiled at her as he tried to shake off the tortured thoughts of a moment ago.

She started to walk around the bed just as another contraction hit, and Max hurried to her side, supporting her as she concentrated on taking deep breaths. His hand rubbed over her belly, using massage and alien magic to ease her discomfort. Labor was a natural process and he couldn’t take her pain away, but he could make it easier to bear. She took a deep breath as the contraction ended and their eyes met, hers grateful for his love and support and his strength, his full of his love and concern while he tried really hard to hide the fact that he was scared shitless.

Looking up from her watch, Rachel said, “You’re at eight minutes between contractions, Liz. Hop up on the bed and let’s check your progress.”

* * * * *

“So Josh,” Carl said. “How long have you been working with your dad?”

The two men were sitting in the living room, Carl on the couch and Josh in the solid blue side chair. They’d been making small talk for a couple of hours now while both of them wondered how things were progressing in the bedroom. Max had emerged about a half hour ago, looking a little bit unnerved, but holding up relatively well. He’d disappeared back into the bedroom with a bowl of ice chips and they hadn’t seen him since.

“A little over two years,” Josh answered. “Dad needed the help and the business was growing so fast, I decided to join him.”

“He’s in the import export business, right?” Carl asked.

“That’s right,” Josh nodded.

“What’d you do before that?” Carl tried not to make it sound like he was grilling him.

“Med-tech,” Josh answered and shifted position, crossing his right leg over his left knee.

“That’s quite a change.” Carl felt that prickly sensation on the back of his neck. Josh had been a medical technician? Like the medical technician named Joshua that had been in a coma inside of a government facility with Liz?

“Oh, you know,” Josh sloughed it off, “things change. Annie and I wanted to come back to Phoenix, and Dad needed the help, so I’ve been working with him ever since.”

“Oh, so you moved back to Phoenix? Where did you live before?”

“New Mexico,” Josh said without elaboration.

“Where abouts?” Carl pressed. “Is that were you met Max and Liz?”

“Um-” Josh hedged and then he was interrupted when Annie came out of the bedroom. “Hey, honey. How’s it going in there?”

“Good,” Annie came up behind him and squeezed his hand. “Liz is holding up well and Max is being a trooper. The contractions are-” she stopped in mid sentence suddenly and glanced over at Carl. She’d been so wrapped up in what was going on in the bedroom, she’d almost blurted out how strong Max was feeling the contractions. It never failed to amaze her how intense the bond between Liz and Max were, and this was just another example. During her own labor, Josh had never felt anything even remotely close to what Max was feeling. “Her contractions are every six minutes apart but she’s still only dilated to 4. It’s going to be awhile.”

“You can’t rush Mother Nature,” Carl chimed in.

“Isn’t that the truth,” Annie laughed and headed into the kitchen.

“So,” Josh steered the conversation in another direction. “You used to be a boxer, huh?”

* * * * *

“Okay, Max,” Rachel looked him up and down as she slid her arms into the green surgical robe and Annie helped tie it in the back. “Your turn. We want to keep the area as germ free as possible, so you need to get out of your street clothes. There’s a pair of scrubs in the big bag over against the wall. You need to put them on. And you need to cover your shoes, or take them off if you want to be more comfortable, and put the booties on your feet.”

Max glanced over at Liz, who was trying to rest between contractions. Her eyes were closed and she was taking calm, even breaths. He crossed the room and opened the bag and his stomach twisted once more as the hated green scrubs came into view. He closed his eyes as he fought back a shudder and then he felt Rachel at his side.

“You can make it any color you want, Max,” she said softly, “if that will make it any easier.” He smiled at her self-consciously but relieved that she understood. “Can you make mine yellow?” she asked.

He nodded, pinching the sleeve of her gown between his finger and thumb and the color of sunbeams flowed up her arm and across her torso and then down her other arm. “Thanks,” she grinned and left him to go change.

He removed the scrubs from the bag and held them tightly in his clenched fist as he moved toward the bathroom. Once inside he closed the door and leaned back against it, fighting the urge to hurl them across the room. The wounds went so deep, the memories were so horrific, it was hard to keep them at bay. A ripple of pain flared in his abdomen and he closed off the past, knowing Liz needed him. He hastily pulled the scrubs on, took a moment to change them to a blue to match the sheets on the bed and he left the bathroom to hurry to Liz’s side.

Her eyes locked on his as he returned to the bedroom and he could see her relief. He quickly skirted around the bed and slid in behind her, massaging her belly as the contraction intensified and helped her concentrate on her breathing. As the contraction ended, she sagged against him and turned her eyes up to look at him.

“Are you okay, Max?” she asked in a near whisper, lifting her hand up to touch his cheek. “I could feel . . .”

“Let’s concentrate on you, Liz,” he dropped his face down to nuzzle her cheek. “You and Matthew.” They held on to each other, linked the way only they could be, trying to relax and rest until the next contraction.

* * * * *

Johnson looked at his watch before closing the file on his desk and pushed the chair back. It was late, nearly midnight, and he was tired and the knowledge that he wasn’t making any progress with his experiments wasn’t helping his mood. He was running into a blank wall with Jenny’s blood analysis and perhaps it was time for more thorough tissue sampling.

Thus far, he’d determined Jenny’s blood was equivalent to a universal donor, blood that wasn’t rejected by the host, at least in the animals he had tested it on. The animals developed no antibodies to fight against the foreign blood. It was freely accepted as if it were an exact match. If he could just isolate the components that made her blood different, if he could somehow reproduce it, the entire world would benefit.

Leaving his study, he made his way silently down the hallway. The house was quiet, Jenny having been in bed for hours now, and quite probably Mary too. She usually didn’t stay up past 9:00. Thinking of Mary, he remembered what she said about Jenny not feeling well earlier. Jenny had never been sick, and Johnson suspected her genetic make-up was the reason. Just like her blood was special, she wasn’t susceptible to colds or the flu or even the ear infections so common in children her age.

It must have been something she ate that gave her a stomach ache, Johnson surmised as he walked into her darkened room, though it was true that she had never had one of those either. As he neared her bed, a sound penetrated his thoughts and his tired eyes widened in alarm. Something was wrong.

She’d seemed fine earlier when he’d checked on her. She had been sleeping soundly, with her doll tucked close to her, just like she slept every night. But her breathing . . . instead of soft and gentle the way it always was, tonight her breathing was harsh and labored.

The glow of the nightlight cast illumination across her sleeping face and Johnson could see the beads of perspiration on her upper lip. He knelt down beside her and placed his fingers to her throat, feeling the rapid beat of her pulse. When Mary had warned him earlier that Jenny might be sick, he had found no evidence to support it. Now, it was staring him in the face. How could she have deteriorated so quickly?

“Jenny? Jenny? Can you hear me honey? Jenny,” he brushed her hair back from her face. “Jenny . . .”

* * * * *

Max leaned his back against the headboard, with Liz between his legs, and he drew her back against him. He stroked her damp hair back from her forehead, soothing her with loving touches, holding her gently in his arms.

“I’m so tired,” she sighed and closed her eyes.

“Rest,” Max brushed his lips across her forehead. “Rest for a few minutes.”

“Sorry, Liz,” Rachel interrupted. “I need to check you again.” Liz nodded but kept silent, trying to reserve her energy.

While Rachel pulled aside the sterile drape over her abdomen, Max asked softly, “More ice?” Liz nodded and he scooped up an ice chip, letting it glide over her dry lips before she opened her mouth to let him place it on her tongue. It melted quickly in her parched mouth.

“Everything’s progressing nicely, Liz,” Rachel smiled as she removed the latex gloves and reached for her stethoscope. “You’ve dilated to 7 and things should go pretty fast from here.”

“What time is it?” Liz roused herself enough to ask. It felt like she had been in labor forever, like nothing else existed except the pain, and then the few minutes of peace between the pain.

“Five after midnight,” Annie said from the dresser where she was setting up a cleansing table where Max would bathe his son after he was born.

“I made it,” Liz smiled tiredly.

“Made it to what?” Max leaned close to her.

“Maria told me to keep my legs crossed until midnight, so Matthew wouldn’t be born on Friday the 13th.”

“God!” Max snorted and the women chuckled. “Did she really say that?”

“Yes. You know Maria.” Liz laughed and then tensed as another contraction began to build. Rachel moved the stethoscope over Liz’s belly, listening intently, while Max and Liz concentrated on breathing through the pain. Liz focused on the drawing on the wall, having long ago abandoned the statue on the dresser in favor of a crayon Pegasus with its dark haired riders.

The contraction ended and Rachel took the stethoscope from her ears, saying, “His heartbeat is strong and steady. No significant decrease during the contraction. Matthew’s doing fine.”

Liz leaned back against Max’s chest, trying to rest. He used a soft cloth to blot the sweat from her upper lip and along her hairline, trying to make her as comfortable as he could. Setting the cloth aside, he lifted his hands to her face, touching her temples with his fingertips and making a connection to her.

She was trying to rest in the brief minutes between contractions, and Max found her thoughts still tied to the drawing on the wall. She was drifting on the wind, riding on the back of an enormous white horse and she wasn’t alone. Max joined them, his beloved wife and daughter, floating freely above the ground with the sun warming their faces and the wind ruffling their hair. Max wrapped his arms around his loves as Ellie’s drawing became their reality . . .

“Mommy, there’s the riber,” Ellie cried and pointed at the ground below.

“That’s right, Ellie,” Liz hugged her daughter tightly.

“Where it go?” she asked as her eyes followed its meandering journey across the valley floor.

“I don’t know, Ellie,” Liz sighed contentedly at the feel of her daughter in her arms. “Our stream flows into the river and the river flows into the ocean.”

“O’cen?” Ellie twisted around to look at Liz. “What an o’cen?”

It’s bigger than the river, Ellie.” Max had his arm wrapped around both Liz and Ellie, with his hand cupping Ellie’s tummy. Her small hand covered his, feeling warm and soft and so innocent. “It’s so big it stretches all the way to the horizon. It’s so deep you can’t touch the bottom.”

“Can you take me to the o’cen?”

Liz looked over her shoulder with a hopeful expression on her face and when their eyes met, a smile began to spread over his face. “Yes, Ellie. We’ll take you to see the ocean.”

* * * * *

Max lifted Ellie down from the beast’s back while the horse snorted and pawed at the sand. He reached for Liz next and set her on her feet next to Ellie, who had already dropped to her knees to feel the sand pour through her hands. Max dropped down beside her and removed her shoes and socks, followed by his own. When he saw Liz struggling to reach her’s, he helped her too. Returning to his feet, he took one of Ellie’s hands while Liz took the other and they turned to look out at the sea of water before them.

“Daddy, it so big!”

“That’s the ocean, Ellie. It looks like it goes on forever, doesn’t it?” In unison, they walked forward with Ellie between them, both of them smiling at the way she dug her feet into the sand. As they neared the water Max paused to roll up his pant legs. Liz hiked up the hem of her skirt and Ellie’s dress was short enough that it wouldn’t get wet.

Ready now, they each took one of Ellie’s hands and moved closer to the water’s edge. The tide was going out and the waves gently lapped at the shore. Ellie’s eyes grew wide as a wave raced toward her and then she squealed as the cool water flowed around her feet. She almost lost her balance as it hit her, and then again when it flowed back out to sea and the sand was displaced beneath her feet. As a second wave chased after the first, Ellie was shouting gleefully before it even reached her. It wasn’t long before she was chasing the wave as it retreated back into the ocean and then screaming delightedly as a new wave chased her up the beach. Max and Liz stood arm in arm, smiling as she frolicked in the water.

Ellie ran back up the beach taking her parents hands again and drew them into the surf. Max and Liz were laughing right along with her as they waded deeper and soon they had to lift her into the air when the waves threatened to knock her over.

Liz swayed unsteadily as the sand gave way under her feet, and she released Ellie’s hand, urging Max to continue on without her. He swept Ellie up into his arms, grinning broadly at how excited she seemed. He took a step and then another and he was soon thigh deep in the water, uncaring that he was now soaking wet. What did that matter, compared to the sound of laughter coming from those he loved?

Liz stood ankle deep in the water with a grin across her face, watching as another wave crashed into Max, splashing his face and his chest and Ellie too, listening as she shrieked in delight. She would cherish this vision always, of Max holding Ellie with her little arms tightly wrapped around his neck. Their hair was wet and their foreheads where pressed together and their faces were shining with happiness.

* * * * *

“What are they doing?” Annie asked with her voice full of awe.

“I don’t know,” Rachel answered as she stared at Max and Liz. They had been in a trance like state for the last twenty minutes, through three contractions and a forth would be coming soon.

“Nothing like this ever happened with me and Josh.”

“Max isn’t like everyone else.” Rachel watched the silent couple on the bed, Liz looking so peaceful as she leaned against him, Max holding her in his arms with his hands cupping her face. “Liz isn’t either.”

“What should we do?”

“Nothing,” Rachel replied. “We keep monitoring her until she goes into transition, and then we help her bring Matthew into the world.

* * * * *

“There’s another one,” Max pointed to an orange starfish on the underside of a large rock. “Look how big it is!” They were hunched over, looking into the tidal pools that had formed as the tide retreated, showing Ellie things she had never seen before.

“What that Daddy?” Ellie pointed at a strange purple looking thing.

“That’s an anemone,” Max answered and he pressed her finger against it.

“Its all gooshy!” she cried and then her eyes grew wide when its tendrils clamped onto her finger. “ITS EATING ME!” She pulled her hand back rapidly and Max nearly doubled over with laughter.

When he regained his composure, he pointed out the various other sea life that was in abundance. “Those black things are mussels and those are barnacles and look, look at the little fish!” Movement caught his eye and he reached into the water, catching something in his hand.

“What you got?” she craned her neck to try to see.

“A crab,” Max opened his hand to show her.

“A cab?” Ellie said questioningly. It looked like one of the shells he had already shown her.

“A hermit crab,” Max elaborated. “See, a hermit crab finds a shell on the beach and then if he likes it, he makes it his home.” He opened Ellie’s hand out flat and set the crab in the middle of her palm. It had pulled its legs up into the shell and as she stared at it, the shell began to move. The claws poked back out and it scurried across her palm and Ellie screamed once more.

Max laughed again and his joyous eyes looked up at Liz who was standing right behind them. She was watching over their shoulders, delighted by Ellie’s exuberance, and then they both felt it. The change. The laughter died away and a knowing look came into their eyes. In unison they looked at Ellie and Max picked her up as he rose to his feet.

“It’s time to go back honey,” he said and he carefully climbed over the rocks, holding Ellie securely with one arm and helping Liz keep her balance with the other. They walked up the beach, leaving a trail of footprints behind them, that would be covered by the next incoming tide.

* * * * *

Rachel finished the internal exam and then turned to Annie with a nod. “She’s completely dilated. It’s time.” She removed her gloves and skirted around the bed, intending to wake the couple. She shook her head, wondering how they could sleep through this stage of labor, if that’s what you could call it. It wasn’t really sleep, but she didn’t know what other name to use.

Just as she reached for his shoulder, Max slowly opened his eyes and focused on her, his voice sounding far away as he said, “Rachel.”

“I don’t know where you two went, but it’s time to wake up,” Rachel squeezed his shoulder.

“We know,” Max dropped his hands to Liz’s belly. “It’s time.” He leaned his cheek against Liz’s forehead, and then said softly, “Liz needs another minute. She has to say goodbye.”

Chapter 77 will be posted next Sunday

'I Wish' fanart by Andrea

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 25-Mar-2002 2:01:21 AM ]
posted on 1-Apr-2002 12:04:34 AM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 – NC 17

Here’s the link to chapters 1-59. It’s on the Boardello fanfic board, under works by author. Let me know if you have any trouble reading it there.

Author Note: Well, the moment you have been waiting for has arrived. Little Matthew Evans is about to make his debut. Will Max survive the birth? Will everything go smoothly? When last we met, Max had come back from the dream so that Liz could tell Ellie goodbye. Damnit. Where's my hankie . . .

Captive Hearts
Part 77

Liz walked along the green meadow, holding Ellie’s small hand in hers, not wanting to let go but knowing that she had to. She had no choice. The summer sun warmed the air around her, but it couldn’t penetrate the chill she felt inside. This was it. This was the end. This was the last time.

She came to a stop and dropped to her knees to kneel before her daughter, using all of her willpower not to break down in front of her. She had to be strong, for Ellie’s sake. She couldn’t let her see how much she was dying inside. “It’s time for you to go back, Ellie. It’s time for the dream to end and for you to sleep peacefully until morning.”

“I wanna stay here, wif you,” Ellie sniffled.

“I can’t stay, Ellie,” Liz rubbed her hands up and down Ellie’s arms, needing to touch her until that last final moment. “I want to stay here with you too, but I can’t.”

“Mommy, peas,” Ellie threw her arms around Liz and buried her face in her mother’s breast. “Peas don’t leeb.”

“Ellie,” Liz uttered, choking back a sob. Her arms surrounded her child and her hand stroked through her silken strands. “We’ll be together soon, baby,” Liz whispered. “I know we will.”

“I wanna be wif you,” Ellie cried.

“I want that too, Ellie, more than anything.” Liz felt herself careening ever closer to her breaking point and she fought to regain control. Losing it wasn’t going to help Ellie, or Matthew either, and she wasn’t going to saddle Max with having to pick up the pieces. He’d been through enough. They’d all been through enough. She closed her eyes and breathed in Ellie’s scent one last time, and then held her daughter at arms length. Looking at Ellie’s face, she took in everything. Every line, every curve, the very essence that made Ellie who she was and committed it to memory. Her dark eyes, so large and expressive. Her pink lips, so soft and tender when she felt them on her cheek. Her flawless skin, so warm and silky to the touch. Liz memorized it all, not knowing how long it would be before she would see those sights again.

“You need to go back now, Ellie,” Liz said firmly. “I can’t leave you here alone.”

“Mommy,” Ellie hurled herself into her mother’s arms again, but this time Liz knew there was no resistance left. Ellie had accepted what she knew she couldn’t change. “I lub you, Mommy.”

“I love you Ellie,” the tears streamed down her face.

For Liz, one minute Ellie felt solid and whole, wrapped in her arms, and the next minute she was gone, and her arms held only empty air. The wildflowers swayed gently all around her, tossed by the summer breeze, but Liz could not see them through her tears. The meadow had fallen silent, with no birds singing in the trees, no insects flying through the air, not even the soft babble of the stream remained.

As Liz knelt in the tall grass with her hands covering her face, her quiet sobs were the only sounds left in the world.

* * * * *

Carl poured the last of the coffee from the pot into his cup and made his way back into the living room. As he rounded the couch, he saw that Josh had lost his battle to stay awake. His head had slumped forward and his arm had fallen over the side of the chair.

As he returned to his seat, Carl couldn’t help but feel that Josh had been less than forthcoming in their conversation earlier. It wasn’t anything he had said, or even the tone in which he spoke, but more the things he hadn’t said. Carl was an old hand at subtle interrogation and reading between the lines. And Josh had definitely left a lot between the lines.

He’d been vague about where he worked in New Mexico, and what exactly he did there. In fact, he’d been fairly vague about everything during the time period when Max and Liz had been held in the facility at Fort Bliss. As far as when Liz had been held in Haystack Mountain, Josh had steered clear of that subject completely.

Carl picked up the remote to the TV and began to flip through the channels, keeping the sound low so as not to wake Josh. Sometimes when he let his mind clear, when he quit trying to over analyze a case and stopped worrying it to death, that’s when the answers would start to fall into place. Maybe some mindless Nick at Night would be just the trick. Besides, maybe it would take his mind off the horrible sounds coming from the bedroom.

* * * * *

Max winced at the pain in his hand, certain that his fingers were about to break. He never knew that Liz could squeeze so hard. The contraction would be over soon, and she’d quit pushing for a minute and maybe he could convince her to squeeze something else. On second thought, maybe he should stick with the hand. He could imagine what other parts of his anatomy she might get perverse pleasure out of squeezing right now.

“Awwwwww,” Liz groaned through gritted teeth, pushing with all her might. Her eyes were scrunched and her face was red from the effort and when the contraction ended she fell back against Max with a loud sigh. As Max held her tired body, she couldn’t help wondering if the contractions were ever going to end.

“You’re doing good . . . you’re doing great,” Rachel encouraged. “You’re almost there, Liz. Annie, is that tray ready?”

“All set,” Annie replied. She carried it to the bed and put it down near Rachel so it would be within easy reach. Neatly arranged on the tray was an assortment of instruments, including a syringe, forceps, an aspirator to clear Matthew’s airway, sutures and an assortment of clamps and other medical devices.

“Liz, you’re going to feel a little prick,” Rachel began to say as she reached for the hypodermic needle filled with anesthesia to deaden the area for the episiotomy.

“A little what?” Liz started to laugh and she looked up at Max. She couldn’t help it. For some reason, that hit her as funny. She was giggling and Max looked at her with his mouth hanging open, surprised that she could laugh at anything at a time like this. He turned his eyes to Annie and then Rachel with a ‘She’s not talking about me!’ look on his face and felt the heat in his cheeks.

Liz’s pent up emotions released in a fit of laughter, until the next contraction hit and she turned deadly serious again. She leaned forward, with Max supporting her and she pushed with everything she had. Her body shook with the effort and the room filled with the sounds of her loud wail. Max tried to keep his mind off his breaking fingers and his deflated ego.

When the contraction passed, Rachel administered the anesthetic and discarded the needle. She reached for the scalpel and as she picked it up, Max’s hand clamped onto her arm in a tight grasp. She looked up to see that his pink cheeks from a minute ago had turned stark white and his eyes had that haunted look in them.

“No . . .” he stared at the scalpel in her hand.

“Max,” Rachel tried to soothe him. “I’m just going to make a little incision, so she doesn’t tear. It won’t hurt her.”

“No . . .” Max lifted his eyes to Rachel’s and then he looked at the scar on Liz’s belly. It stretched from her navel to her pubic bone, a horrible reminder of the past. “Don’t.” His tone was heartbreaking and he tore his eyes away from the scar to plead with Rachel.

“I’ll fix it,” his voice became stronger. “If she tears, I’ll heal her. You already numbed her. She won’t feel anything. It won’t hurt her.”


“Please,” Max shook his head, “don’t cut her.”

“Okay,” Rachel put the scalpel down and Max released her arm. She could see by the way they looked at each other that Max hadn’t been the only one disturbed by the blade. She could see the relief on Liz’s face too.

Liz felt the next contraction and she bore down, pushing with all her might, her teeth clamped tightly together, the wail growing louder as she pushed and her hand squeezing Max as he tried to support her.

“The head’s crowning, Liz,” Rachel encouraged. “Push . . . keep pushing . . . that’s it, that’s good.”

Liz let out a gasp as the contraction ended and Max wiped her brow as she leaned back against him. He kissed her forehead lightly, trying to make her more comfortable in any way that he could.

“One or two more good strong pushes and it will all be over,” Rachel smiled. “You’re doing great, Liz. You too, Max,” she patted his arm.

Liz sucked in a deep breath as another contraction built and she bore down with Max holding on for dear life. He could see the strain on her face, the effort that it took, and once again he was amazed by her strength.

“The head’s crowning,” Rachel said again. “Well look at that. This little guy has a full head of dark hair. It looks like you didn’t need to worry, Liz. It wasn’t the blonde mailman after all.”

Annie snorted a laugh and then laughed even harder when Max said, “Huh?”

“You want to watch your son being born?” Rachel beamed at Max and his eyes grew wider. From his position behind Liz he couldn’t really see anything beyond the swell of her belly. He looked at Liz and then back at Rachel while Annie moved to take his place. He eased out from behind Liz, still holding her hand, and he moved closer to Rachel. He peered between his wife’s legs and his eyes nearly popped out of his head. How could that come out of Liz?

She was emitting almost animal like sounds as she pushed and Max watched transfixed as more and more of Matthew’s head emerged. Rachel lifted the aspirator from the tray and suctioned his nose and then his mouth and then his head started to turn as his shoulders came into view.

“You’re doing great, Liz. One more push . . .” With a yell, Liz bore down hard and Matthew slid into Rachel’s waiting hands.

The air rushed in and out of Max’s lungs as a look of amazement and awe spread over his face. Matthew was alive and whole and well and squirming with energy and his small cries were the sweetest sound he had ever heard. His pink skin was wet and coated with a bunch of white stuff he couldn’t remember the name of and the umbilical cord looked so much different than he thought it would. His eyes were scrunched closed and his little jaw was quivering as he cried and his arms and legs were shaking.

“Liz . . .” was all that Max could manage to say and then he looked at her, seeing how her eyes were looking at him questioningly. Rachel was tying off the cord and Liz couldn’t see him well, and she had turned to Max to see if everything was okay. Feeling at a complete lose for words, Max stuttered, “He’s . . . Liz . . . he’s . . . perfect.”

“Oh Max,” Liz exhaled in relief and he quickly returned to her side, taking her into his arm and planting kisses on her face.

“He’s perfect, Liz,” he almost choked with the emotion he was feeling. Rachel lifted Matthew onto Liz’s belly and he quieted down, looking around at the new world he’d suddenly found himself in. Liz reached out a hand and tentatively touched him and the moment that she did, her tears couldn’t be held back.

“Max . . .” her voice quivered. “He’s beautiful.”

“He is,” Max agreed and nuzzled her cheek while reaching out to touch Matthew’s hand. His fingers were so tiny and as Max touched him they closed around his finger in a tight grip. “Liz!” he couldn’t help the giddy laugh that escaped his lips.

“He looks like you, Max,” Liz laughed and cried at the same time. “Look at all that hair and he has your jaw line and that little crease in his chin, just like yours, and his nose and his ears . . . and his eyes. He’s got your eyes.”

Matthew had stopped crying as soon as he had been placed on his mother’s belly and he looked around as he took all these new sights in. Liz couldn’t stop touching him, his arms, his legs, his fingers and his toes. He really was perfect.

“Time of birth,” Rachel said aloud, “1:47 a.m. Welcome to the world, Matthew Evans.”

Over the next few minutes, Rachel busied herself with clamping off the umbilical cord, delivering the placenta, and attending to Liz’s postpartum needs. She drew Max’s attention and he leaned toward her with a questioning look on his face.

“You have a little repair job to do,” Rachel pointed at Liz’s perineum. She had torn, just like Rachel had feared she would, but she needn’t have worried. Max would never let Liz be in pain. While Liz marveled over her new son, Max reached out and touched his fingers to her most delicate skin.

He’d touched her a thousand times, caressed her and loved her in more ways than he could list, but never as gentle or with as much tenderness as he did now. She didn’t even notice as his fingers connected with her skin and his hand began to glow. Her skin knitted together, with no evidence of any traumatic event, and Rachel shook her head in amazement.

“Do you know how many women would kill to have you in the delivery room with them?” she said in awe. She saw the way his cheeks flushed red and she had to remind herself that Max had never touched another woman. Liz was all he had ever wanted, all he had ever needed, and he was more than content to live the rest of his life that way. With her hand resting on his shoulder, Rachel said, “You can go ahead, Max. You can hold your son now.”

Max looked into Rachel’s eyes, feeling totally overwhelmed, and then he looked at Matthew before finally letting his eyes come to rest on Liz. She was nodding to him, telling him to go ahead, and then he held his breath as Rachel picked Matthew up and placed him gently in his arms. Max let out an involuntary gasp as his son looked up at him and their eyes made contact. Matthew was quiet now and Max held him as if he were afraid he would break.

Liz watched the ever changing expressions on Max’s face as he stared down at Matthew. One moment he was grinning like the village idiot, the next moment his face would fill with wonder and that would be followed by a look of near panic when Matthew looked like he was about to cry again.

He carefully moved until he was sitting next to Liz while he rocked Matthew gently in his arms. He leaned closer so she could get a better look at him and as he looked at the tears coursing down her face, he realized he was doing the very same thing.

Knowing that she needed to hold him, Max transferred Matthew into Liz’s arms and then he just stared at the absolute joy that he saw on her face. It was the most beautiful sight he had ever seen, Liz’s radiant face as she looked down at her son, and as his vision became blurry, he had to blink back his tears.

Max wrapped one arm around Liz and the other around Matthew as they both stared down at their son. They felt they knew him already, from the bond they had shared throughout the pregnancy. It would feel strange now not having Matthew’s thoughts in their minds.

Liz stroked his soft cheek with the tip of her finger and she laughed as his mouth chased after it. Her shinning eyes looked up at Max and she said, “I think he’s hungry.” She touched her finger to Matthew’s cheek again and this time he not only chased after it, he let out a frustrated cry when his mouth couldn’t find what he was instinctively looking for.

Uncertain if she would be able to do this right, Liz hesitantly lowered the top of her gown. She looked at Max for morale support and his encouraging smile urged her on. Looking back down at her son, Liz pressed her breast lightly against Matthew’s cheek and his hungry mouth turned eagerly, clamping onto her nipple.

Liz exhaled suddenly at the sensation, at once filled with a sense of joy and happiness. She felt a rush through her breast as the letdown reflex let the nourishment flow from her body into her child. She’d never gotten the chance to do this before. She’d never had the chance to touch Ellie, or to hold her, or to nurse her from her breast.

She still remembered in vivid detail the ache of her breasts, full of the milk Ellie never was given a chance to taste. Even as she nursed her son, feeling contented and fulfilled, she knew that ache would always remain.

“I think he’s asleep,” Liz said in a near whisper when Matthew’s mouth lost it’s suction and fell away from her breast.

“Only a minute or so on each side to begin with,” Annie squeezed her shoulder encouragingly. “You don’t want to get too sore.” Looking over at Max she smiled knowingly and added, “I guess you won’t have to worry about that.”

“Why don’t you clean him Max,” Liz suggested. She saw the quick flash of apprehension on his face, followed by a nervous smile as he focused on Matthew. His anxiety showed as his mouth fell open when Liz lifted his son into his arms. He made little noises in his throat as Max carried him over to the waiting basin of water, and then as he began to fuss, Max turned to Liz with a ‘Help me!’ look in his eyes.

“The water’s just right,” Annie said as she tested it and smiled at him as if a crying baby was no big deal.

He hesitated when he reached the dresser, feeling inadequate and unsure, until he heard Liz say, “You look so natural with him in your arms.” He turned back to look at her again, seeing her faith and trust in him, and he could feel his confidence rise.

He slowly lowered Matthew into the basin until the water covered his legs and his round tummy, cupping the back of his head and his shoulders with his hand to keep his upper body above the surface. He quieted as soon as the water touched him and he opened his eyes to silently stare up at Max. He gently rinsed the blood and birth residue from his skin, the whole time staring in awe at this life that he and Liz had created.

* * * * *

Max rocked a sleeping Matthew gently in his arms, glancing anxiously at Liz. Her eyes were closed and she appeared to be trying to rest after her long ordeal. Annie had left a few minutes ago after giving him her heartfelt congratulations and Rachel yawned as she moved around the room, packing up her things. It was nearly 3:00 a.m. and things were winding down, but Max was wide awake. And he was worried.

“Rachel?” he said quietly. When she turned to look at him, he motioned her over to the far side of the room. He didn’t want Liz to overhear. She followed him until they neared the window and he came to a stop.

“What is it Max?” she asked softly, seeing the worried look in his eyes.

“Um . . .” he was staring down at Matthew, cradled in his arms with his eyes closed and his throat making little grunting noises. “Um . . . I think something’s wrong . . .”

“Wrong?” Rachel frowned and looked down at the peaceful baby. He was perfect. What could be wrong?

Max peeled the blanket back from his head and looked at Rachel with not only worried, but guilt ridden eyes. “His . . . his head is dented.”

“What?” Rachel started. “You mean this?” She pointed to the spot at the top of Matthew’s head that had a slightly dimpled appearance.

“Yes,” Max stared at Matthew. “The top of his head is dented.”

Rachel placed her hand on Max’s shoulder, patting him gently. “That’s his soft spot Max. It’s where the bones of his skull haven’t fused together yet. It’s perfectly normal. You don’t have to worry about it.”

“You mean it’s not from . . .”

“From what, Max?” Rachel asked when he didn’t finish.

“Nevermind,” Max answered with a big sigh of relief.

* * * * *

Rachel finished packing her things, hitched one bag over her shoulder and bent over to pick up the other. Turning to look at Max, she couldn’t help but smile. He was walking back and forth by the side of the bed, slowly rocking Matthew in his arms. He couldn’t take his eyes off him. As she headed for the bedroom door, she didn’t even think he was aware she was in the room, he was so caught up in the new life he was holding. She was surprised when she heard his voice as she stepped over the threshold.

“Thank you, Rachel,” he said and she paused, turning back to look at him.

She could see in his eyes that what he had just said went far beyond a mere ‘Thank you’. There was so much depth to the words, so much more than Max could ever express. His eyes were full of wonder and awe and amazement, and yet still deep inside, in the place he tried to keep buried, she could see his pain and his fear and his longing for what they were still missing. All his emotions were amplified by this wondrous night, both the good and the bad.

Knowing that her words were inadequate, she answered him with a simple, “You’re welcome Max.” He nodded to her, knowing she understood, and he returned to the gentle rocking of his sleeping child, lying peacefully in his arms. “Max,” she said and his eyes met hers again. “It’s okay to let yourself be happy.”

Max looked at her with a smile relaxing his face and then he walked in her direction. Holding Matthew in one arm, he hugged Rachel with the other, and kissed her lightly on the forehead. “You’ve been such a good friend to us, Rachel. Thank you.”

“Oh, you won’t thank me when you get my bill!” she joked as she hugged him back. He stepped back, laughing lightly, and she added, “Besides, I think I owe you a thank you.”

“Me?” Max asked inquisitively.

“Yeah,” Rachel grinned and then pointed out toward the living room.

“Oh,” Max nodded, his turn to grin now.

“I wouldn’t have ever met him if it hadn’t been for you and Liz. That deserves a big ‘Thank you’!” Looking at her watch, she fought off a yawn as she saw how late it was. “I want to check Liz once more before I go. While I’m waiting to do that, I’ll just take my things out into the living room, and I’ll check to see if Carl’s still awake.”

Max turned his attention back to the baby in his arms and Rachel pulled the bedroom door closed as she turned to leave. The lights in the living room were still lit and she could hear the sounds coming from the TV, but as she entered the room one look told her Carl had succumbed to the late hour. He was sitting on one corner of the couch, with his legs spread and his hand resting in his lap and his chin dropped forward into his chest. Just like a man, the remote control was still firmly ensconced in his hand.

She dropped her medical bags by the front door and then walked back to the couch, with the intention of waking him. She took the remote out of his hand and he murmured lightly. Had he just said her name? Was he saying her name in his sleep? For some reason, she really liked the idea that he might have been dreaming about her.

She sat down beside him, feeling the weariness caused by the late hour, intending to wake Carl, but the cushions of the couch felt so soft and his body next to hers was so warm, she didn’t want to move. She closed her eyes, meaning to rest for only a minute, but her body had other plans. It wasn’t long before her head leaned sideways and came to rest on Carl’s shoulder, where she slept peacefully for the rest of the night.

In the bedroom, Max lay Matthew down next to Liz. The house was quiet now, everyone sleeping peacefully, except him. He was too keyed up to sleep. He climbed on the bed, with Matthew between him and Liz and he laid his head on the pillow, content to just watch their faces. Liz was utterly exhausted, but by the look on her sleeping face you’d never know it. Her face was relaxed and radiant.

Matthew seemed to be content to either be nursing at Liz’s breast, or dreaming about nursing at Liz’s breast. Max couldn’t blame him. Reaching out his hand, Max touched his son, marveling at how tiny he really was. He would be waking soon, and the peace of the night would be broken by his hungry cries. Until then, Max would silently watch over them and keep them safe from harm.

Watch for the next part next Sunday. The gang from Roswell’s coming for a visit.

‘I Wish’ fanart by Andrea

posted on 8-Apr-2002 1:49:47 AM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
email: dao2027⊕

Note: First of all, thanks for the bumps. I’d spend all night looking for it if it wasn’t for you guys! Second of all, Sunday night is a bad time to try to do taxes! I’m burned out now!

Now, I have a question for you all. When Roswell ends its run in May, will you still be looking for Roswell related fan fic, or will you be ready to put it behind you and move on to other things? I ask because this story still has a ways to go, probably another 20 to 30 parts and at one part a week, well, that could take a while. And then I still have a couple stories I’m working on that I’m not ready to start posting yet, so I’m just trying to judge the interest. You can leave feedback or email me at the addy listed above.

Here’s the link (I hope!) to chapters 1 – 59:

Now, last week I said the gang from Roswell was coming to visit. Let’s get on with the story . . .

Captive Hearts
Part 78

Johnson was sitting in the chair where he’d been all night, holding Jenny’s small body in his arms. She’d been sleeping peacefully for the last few hours now. He hadn’t slept at all.

He had felt her tremors throughout the night and his indecision mounted. He didn’t know what was wrong with her, which meant he couldn’t begin to treat her. But he couldn’t take her to the hospital because then she would be discovered. If they found out what she was, her life would never be the same.

On some level he knew the irony of that thought. He lived everyday with the knowledge that he’d altered her life profoundly on the night she was born, but his mind had justified it. His mind had to justify it, or else he’d have to admit to the fact that he was the monster.

He had convinced himself that he wasn’t. He didn’t let himself think about the things he had done under Miller’s influence. No, Miller had made him do those things. He wasn’t to blame. He loved Jenny, and keeping her here, isolated from everyone, was to protect her.

Even after seeing Max Evans in Maryvale Hospital, he had still been able to convince himself that Jenny was safer here with him. He had to shield Jenny from her real father. Max Evans was bad, a murderous monster that was a threat to her. Look at what he had done to Miller. With only the power of his mind, Max had made Miller blow his own brains out. A man like that shouldn’t be anywhere near a child like Jenny.

Never for a moment, not a single solitary second, did Johnson consider that his actions had caused Max to react to extreme circumstances with extreme measures. He never would. For him, everything he had done was justified. He had no trouble sleeping at night.

Except tonight, with Jenny lying in his arms, when her breathing had been labored and her heart rate had been dangerously fast. He hadn’t done this to her, had he? It wasn’t anything he had done that had brought this about, was it? She was quiet now, but whatever malady had plagued her earlier had shaken him to the core. He didn’t think he’d survive if something ever happened to her. He’d lost one daughter already. He couldn’t stand to lose another.

Earlier he’d been in a panic as her breathing escalated faster and faster and he didn’t know what to do for her. He’d picked her up from the bed and held her in his arms, but her status seemed to just worsen. His panic took on paralyzing proportions and then shortly before 2:00 in the morning, she cried out, sending a shock wave through him. She’d uttered a name, a single name, a word she rarely said in front of him. Why did she say it now? What had triggered it?

She’d cried out as her labored breathing reached a crescendo, and the word ‘Mommy’ echoed in the air around him, reminding him of how all this had started. In the beginning, it had been nothing more than an experiment. He hadn’t viewed the girl as a teenager, with hopes and dreams and aspirations for a rich life ahead of her. She had been nothing more than a subject in an experiment. Hearing Jenny call out to her mother, the mother she would never know, gave Johnson great pause.

What had become of Liz Parker, after that night? Where was she now? What was she doing? Facing the truth, he admitted to himself that he didn’t want to know. If he didn’t think about her, then he wouldn’t have to think about the things he had done to her, all in the name of science.

He’d convinced himself that his experiments were for a greater cause, just like he had with Jenny, but as she now lay peacefully in his arms, he knew he had been only fooling himself. He’d allowed himself to believe that nothing but finding out the secrets locked inside Jenny was important. But he couldn’t live with that anymore, knowing that what he was doing might have caused this. The work would have to wait, until his precious Jenny was older, and willing to help him in his quest. This had been too close a call. He wouldn’t risk her health again.

The decision made, he knew their lives were about to drastically change. He rose from the chair and returned a now peacefully sleeping Jenny to her bed. He had much to do to prepare for their new future and he was anxious to get started.

* * * * *

Carl awoke slowly, feeling a sense of extreme disorientation. The muscles in his neck were kinked and he wasn’t sure he could feel his arm and there was a strange weight pressing down on his lap. As his senses sharpened, he wondered why he was sleeping in a sitting position, and then the memories of last night came flooding back. Max. Liz. The baby. Mother Nature sure took it’s sweet time.

He lifted his hand and rubbed it over his face, trying to kick his mind into gear and then he felt that weight on his lap shift position. What the hell? His eyes popped open and his breath caught in his throat, unprepared for the sight before him. Rachel was stretched out on the couch with one arm draped over his thighs and her head resting on his lap. Her cheek was . . . her cheek was . . . oh God! He didn’t want to think about where her cheek was! If he didn’t move her quickly, he was going to embarrass himself terribly.

The sound of knuckles rapping against the front door reached his ears and he realized this must have been what caused him to awaken. Relived by the distraction because he didn’t want to think about where Rachel’s mouth would be if she turned her head just a little, Carl scooted out from under her and eased her gently back onto the cushions of the couch.

He rose to his feet and stared down at her, wondering when she had come out of the bedroom, why she hadn’t awakened him, wondering if everything had gone well with the birth. Overriding all his thoughts was one that he couldn’t shake. Waking up beside Rachel was quite satisfying and frustrating at the same time.

The insistent knocking came again and Carl turned from Rachel’s sleeping form and headed for the front door. He couldn’t imagine who it might be, but whoever the hell it was, they were damn demanding.

Outside, Maria was bubbling over with excitement as she stood on the porch of the neat little home. Michael was rolling his eyes, wondering where she got all the energy. Oh, that’s right, he reminded himself. She’d actually slept in the car while they drove here, whereas he’d been awake the whole damn night.

She heard footsteps coming toward the door and expecting to see Max, she was ready to jump into his arms. The door swung open and she froze, dropping her hands down onto her hips. Starring at the strange face, she blurted out, “Who the hell are you?”

“Excuse me?” Carl’s eyes widened. He could have asked her the same question, but of course he didn’t.

“Hi,” Michael smiled at Carl and then glared at Maria. He held out his hand to the stranger and said, “I’m Michael Guerin. This is Maria DeLuca. We’re from Roswell.”

“Oh! Hi,” Carl shook his hand. “I’m Carl Montoya. Max and I work together.” Stepping back to give them room, he said, “Please, come in. Max said you’d be coming.”

“Yep,” Michael pushed Maria ahead of him. “The wagon train is following behind us.”

“Wagon train?” Carl arched his eyes. Who were these strange people?

“Alex and Isabel should be here before long. They’re in the SUV. Then the Evans will be coming later today. They’ve got a van. The Parkers will be bringing up the rear with that damn Winnebago of theirs. I guess they plan on staying for a while,” Michael smirked.

“Enough small talk!” Maria interrupted. “Did Liz have the baby yet?”

“Yes,” Rachel joined the group and she rubbed the sleep out of her eyes. Introductions were made, and after shaking their hands she continued, “Matthew was born at 1:47 this morning.”

“Oh thank God!” Maria exclaimed and Michael rolled his eyes. She’d been going on all night about the baby being born on Friday the 13th.

“He weighted in at 8 pounds, 11 ounces and 21 inches long,” Rachel added.

“Oh, I can’t wait to see him!” Maria bubbled.

“Here he is,” Max said from the hallway. He was smiling from ear to ear as he walked into the living room and Maria rushed over to see the baby he was holding so gently in his arms.

“Oh Max!” Maria stared down at the baby’s peaceful face. “He looks just like you. Michael, come look! It’s a Mini Max!”

“Congratulations, Maxwell,” Michael clamped his hand on his shoulder while Max beamed proudly at him.

“Can I hold him?” Maria pleaded, “Can I? Can I? Can I?”

“Not until you hug me first,” Liz said as she joined the gathering in the living room.

“Liz, you should be in bed,” Max scolded as Maria rushed over to her and they hugged fiercely. She shot him a look that told him not to treat her like an invalid and he forced his overprotective nature back down.

“Of course you can hold him, Maria.” Their arms linked together, just like they used to back in high school, and Liz brought her over to Max. Maria held out her arms and Max gingerly transferred the sleeping bundle to her, trying not to jostle him.

“Oh my God!” Maria sighed contentedly and Max slid his arm around Liz and pulled her close to his side. They smiled at each other proudly as even stoic Michael stared down at Matthew with a silly grin on his face.

Liz’s stomach grumbled and Max smiled down at her asking, “Are you hungry?” She hadn’t really eaten since lunch yesterday.

She nodded, and Maria nudged Michael with her elbow, saying, “Go make breakfast, spaceboy.”

“Me?” he frowned and rubbed his chest where she elbowed him. He’d been eyeing that couch, thinking a nice long nap was in order after driving all night.

“You’re the cook, aren’t ya?” she drilled him with a look.

“That’s okay, Michael,” Liz began. “I can make-”

“Oh no you don’t,” Max scolded her again. “You aren’t doing anything but relaxing and recuperating.” He took her by the shoulders and lead her to the couch where he made her sit down. “Michael, Carl, come with me. Let’s go make some breakfast for the starving masses.”

They all filed into the kitchen, with Carl making the Huevos Rancheros, Michael cooking a heaping plate of home fries and Max flipping the pancakes. Alex and Isabel arrived just as the meal was ready and they joined in after ooing and awing over the baby first.

The morning passed swiftly and by early afternoon the house was full. The Evans had arrived, followed by the Parkers and the small house was overflowing with family and friends, celebrating the birth of one special little boy.

Worn out by the excitement and the commotion, Liz rose from the table and headed out of the kitchen. She was just going to lie down for a little bit, to shut her eyes for a few minutes before Matthew needed to nurse again. She stood in the doorway to the kitchen, turning back to watch her family and her friends all gathered around her kitchen table.

Max and Michael were taking animatedly, comparing the subtleties of The Matrix 1 and 2. It was great to see them together again, men now, no longer boys but their conversation did kind of make her wonder. Alex was joining in now, talking about the latest computer generated graphics that they used in the upcoming Matrix 3. She shook her head when she heard him actually use the words ‘way cool’.

Carl joined in too, comparing another sci-fi/action/thriller trilogy, saying Arnold Schwarzenegger was looking a little long in the tooth to be playing the Terminator. Michael and Max hadn’t seen the movie yet, and when they pressed Carl for more information, Carl had to try to remember the parts he’d actually watched, when he hadn’t been kissing Rachel, or been thinking about kissing Rachel, or just finishing kissing Rachel. Yep, kissing Rachel had definitely been more memorable than the movie.

Rachel was filling Maria and Isabel in on all the details of Matthew’s birth, minus the alien specifics. Liz knew they both hoped to have children of their own in the next few years. Isabel would probably be able to talk Alex into it first. Their wedding was set for the first part of August. Maria was still working on Michael.

Liz shifted her eyes to her father, who was talking stock options with her father-in-law. They were discussing college funds and how expensive Harvard was going to be in another 18 years. Men. When did they not talk money?

Finally, her gaze fell on her mother who was holding Matthew in her arms. He was sleeping quietly, and each time he stretched or made a gurgling sound in his throat, both her mother and Diane, who was hovering over Nancy’s shoulder and waiting for her turn to hold him, would ooh and awe. The Grandmas were in seventh heaven.

It was a perfect picture, except for the one thing that was missing.

* * * * *

Max inched open the bedroom door and looked at the peaceful face of his wife as she rested on the bed. Her hand was tucked under her chin and her eyes were closed and she looked peaceful and relaxed. He was hesitant to wake her, knowing how she needed to rest after her long labor the day before, but Matthew was sucking hungrily on his own finger and it wasn’t going to keep him happy for long. He was already starting to squirm and crumple his face and Max had to rock him gently to try to settle him down.

“Shhhhhhh,” Max looked down as Matthew let out frustrated cry and then chewed on his finger even harder. In a gentle voice he said, “You hungry? Huh? I bet you want your Mommy, huh? Does she have something you want? Remember, you’re just borrowing ‘em for awhile. I get them back when you’re done.”

He walked across the room, smiling down at the bundle in his arms. He’d been petrified last night when he held the crying baby in his arms for the first time, but today he was feeling more confident. That is, when his mother would let him have a turn holding his own son. And then Nancy wasn’t any better. They were baby hogs. Neither one of them wanted to share.

He sat down on the bed, cradling Matthew with one arm while lightly touching his tiny fingers. He still was amazed at just how small newborn babies really were. He’d never really been around babies before. Just Ellie, but she’d been older when she first came to him in the dreams. She’d been walking and learning to talk already, not completely helpless like Matthew. He’d missed all this with her. Max stroked his finger softly over Matthew’s cheek and his mouth chased after it, letting out a frustrated cry when it wasn’t what he wanted.

Liz stretched and opened her eyes, smiling broadly at the sight before her. Was there any more beautiful sight than a big strong man gently holding his newborn child in his arms? Her hand reached out and covered his and when their eyes met, Liz thought she’d never seen Max look more contented. Squeezing his hand lightly, she said, “Hi.”

“Matthew’s hungry,” Max grinned.

“I noticed that,” she smiled.

His finger wasn’t keeping him happy anymore and he was starting to fuss in earnest. Liz stretched one more time and then sat up, arranging the pillows around her so that she would be more comfortable while she nursed Matthew. Max awkwardly transferred the small bundle to her and then felt chagrined by his clumsiness. Maybe their mothers had the right idea after all, keeping him away from the baby.

Matthew settled in her arms and his mouth nuzzled against her breast. She unfastened the buttons on her shirt, pushed the material aside and then released the cup of her nursing bra, exposing her swollen breast. Her milk was coming in now and the fullness was almost painful. Positioning Matthew, he eagerly clamped onto her erect nipple and she felt the nourishment flow from her body into his.

He made contented noises as he suckled and when Max touched his tender skin, his tiny hand closed around his father’s finger in a firm grasp. It made Max smile in amazement to feel the strength that such a small hand could generate.

“You’re going to be just fine Max,” Liz reached for his hand and laced her fingers between his. She could tell that he was feeling a little overwhelmed by it all.

“I don’t know,” Max looked at her nervously.

“I do,” she held his eyes. “You’re going to be a great father. You are a great father. You prove that everyday, with Ellie.”

“This is . . . different though.”

“It doesn’t change who you are,” Liz assured him. “I know it. Ellie knows it. Matthew knows it too. You’re a natural.”

“I hope you’re right,” he smiled and lifted her hand up to his lips to kiss her fingertips. She always knew what to say to make him feel better.

“You know I’m always right,” she smiled back and they both laughed softly.

Matthew continued to suckle at his mother’s breast while holding his father’s finger tightly in his little hand. It’d been an amazing and memorable 24 hours, the kind of memories they would happily keep with them for the rest of their lives.

Look for the next part next Sunday

posted on 15-Apr-2002 12:49:35 AM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17

Here’s the link to parts 1 to 59:

Author Note: I wanted to clarify something from my note last week. When I asked the question about fanfic, I no way meant to imply that I wouldn’t finish this story. Only a cataclysmic event would stop me from finishing Captive Hearts. My concern was whether you all would be sticking it out with me. It might take a little time, but I hope the ending will be worth all that time you’ve put into reading it.

Now for LovinRoswell and Ursa, I have to comment on your comments! Yes, I took great liberties with the birth scene. I know that ‘normal’ midwives don’t practice the sterile procedures I described, but it suited my literary purpose. Same with the episiotomy. I’ve had 3 of them and baby do I wish I’d had a Max Evans in the delivery room with me! I should never have agreed to being sliced down there, but it was accepted practice at the time, as were enemas! At least they didn’t shave me, like they did in my mother’s day. Ursa, I laughed that you wanted to smack Max for his “just borrowing ‘em” comment concerning breastfeeding. It was such a ‘man’ thing to say. He’ll probably piss you off again a little later when he feeling a little left out.

I want to dedicate this part to Sanne, and after you read the first section you’ll know why! You (and that cute picture you posted) inspired me. I hope you enjoy it. Now, on with the story . . .

Captive Hearts
Part 79

Mary stood in the doorway to Jenny’s bedroom watching the child as she sat contentedly at her small desk, drawing in her tablet. Her long hair fell in waves down her back, held back at the sides by flowery yellow and green barrettes, which matched the yellow top and green pants she wore. Mary breathed a sigh of relief that there seemed to be no residual evidence of whatever ailment had struck her last night. Jenny appeared as health as ever. It must have just been a 24 hour virus.

Making her way across the small bedroom, Mary asked, “What are you doing dear?”

“Dwawing,” Ellie answered and flashed Mary a quick smile before turning back to the paper in front of her.

Coming up beside her Mary peered over the child’s shoulder, watching her as she created another familial scene. The man with the dark hair stood in the center of the page. Beside him was the woman with the long dark hair. They both had smiles on their faces. Between them, with their hands clasped together, stood a small child. She too had a smile. Looking at the long wavy hair, Mary knew that the child in the drawing represented Jenny, and the figure beside her the mother she never knew.

She still couldn’t figure out why Jenny drew her father in the likeness that she did. His features were indistinct, after all Jenny wasn’t even three yet and her drawing was childlike, but the man appeared tall, with a full head of dark hair, nothing like her father. The good Doctor was of average height with sandy colored hair, at least what was left of it. She suspected he had started balding years ago, long before Jenny was ever born.

“What’s that?” Mary asked, pointing her finger at something the woman was holding.

“Mommy had a baby,” Ellie smiled up at Mary.

“Oh,” Mary smiled back at her. Now she could tell. The mother in the drawing was holding a baby cradled in her arm. “Did you name the baby?”

“Yep,” Ellie beamed, looking back at the drawing, “His name is Maffew.”

“Matthew?” Mary arched her eyes. The child had such a wonderful imagination. “And what’s this over here?” she asked, indicating a dark blotch over to the right.

“That’s a puppy. Maffew wants a puppy.”

“I had a puppy when I was young,” Mary remembered with a smile. “He was a black lab and we named him Max. Maybe you can call the puppy Max.”

“He can’t be Max!” Ellie scrunched up her nose at Mary. She pointed at the dark haired man and declared, “That’s Daddy’s name!”

“Oh!” Mary laughed at the face Jenny was making. “Sorry! My sister Martha had a dog named King. Would that work better?”

“King?” Ellie raised her eyebrows and thought about it. “Okay. Awl call him King, if Maffew likes it.”

‘If Matthew likes it’, Mary shook her head at the things Jenny sometimes came up with. She was such a sweet child, and so bright. Touching her finger to the woman in the picture, Mary asked, “What’s her name?”

“Her name is Honey,” Ellie snickered and put her hand over her mouth. “Daddy always calls her Honey!”

How cute! Mary was so tickled by the things Jenny said. Knowing what the answer was going to be, Mary pointed at the little girl between ‘Max’ and ‘Honey’ and asked, “And what’s her name?”

“That’s Ellie,” she said with a sigh.

Surprised, Mary looked down at the child seeing the far away look in her big expressive eyes. She had expected her to say ‘Jenny’, certain that the drawing represented the family Jenny wished she had, but maybe she had been wrong. Maybe the drawing was nothing more than that, just a drawing created by a child with a very active imagination.

“Would you like to help me make some cookies, dear?” Mary asked.

“Okay,” Ellie replied. She set her crayon down and closed the cover on her tablet. Climbing from the chair, she slipped her small little hand into Mary’s and they headed to the kitchen.

* * * * *

The house had been abuzz all day with people coming and going, friends and neighbors coming to see the new baby and to wish the new parents well. Laughter filled the air, floating from one room to the other, as the Parkers and the Evans related stories about their children when they were young, much to the embarrassment of the afore mentioned children. Carl and Rachel had left mid afternoon, just as Daniel and Sarah were coming to visit. Friends from work and school stopped by or called throughout the day, and by the time early evening arrived Max was exhausted. He hadn’t slept since Thursday night.

It was all starting to catch up with him. The excitement. The stress. The worry. The joy. He’d felt just about every emotion imaginable over the last two days and he wasn’t just physically tired, he was emotionally tired as well. Standing in the kitchen, he covered his mouth with his hand as he yawned, and then he finished writing the word ‘donuts’ on the grocery list. Liz came up behind him and he jumped when she touched him on the arm.

“What are you doing?” she asked, noticing the dark circles under his eyes.

“Making a grocery list,” his arm circled around her. “With so many people in the house, I need to make a run to the store. We’re out of everything.”

“Why don’t you let somebody else do that?” she suggested. “You’re running on empty, Max. You need to get some rest.”

“I’m alright,” he tried to tell her and then a yawn he couldn’t suppress gave him away.

“Max, you’re not Superman. You were up all night last night and you haven’t rested at all today, have you?” she asked with her hand rubbing lightly across his back.

“No,” he admitted, giving her that little boy look of his.

“Why don’t you go rest,” Liz said, taking the grocery list away from him. “Someone else can go to the store.”

“Liz, I can go-” he started to protest and then she cut him off.

She kissed him softly on the lips and when they parted she could see that she had won. “If you’re not willing to go to bed yet, then at least go in the living room and sit down and relax.”

“Okay,” he agreed, smiling down at her. She was always the voice of reason. He took her by the hand and side by side they headed out of the kitchen. Glancing down at the grocery list she was holding in her hand, she couldn’t help but laugh. In Max’s distinctive handwriting, neat and clear, he had written the word donuts. Not once, not twice, but three times. He certainly loved his donuts.

* * * * *

Max had just finished his shower, having taken his wife’s advice to turn in early. It’d been quite a day. His parents and the Parkers were out in the living room. Tonight they would be sleeping in the Winnebago that was parked out in the driveway. Michael and Maria had gone to a nearby motel a couple of miles down the road. They’d be back for breakfast in the morning, before starting out on the long drive back to Roswell.

Alex and Isabel had made the grocery run and should be back shortly. For now the house was relatively quiet. Liz had just fed Matthew and he was sleeping again. He was already falling into a pattern of sleeping for three hours, waking up to eat and then sleeping for three more hours. Smiling, he shook his head and let out a little laugh. For something that was so small, and slept so much, babies were certainly exhausting!

He finished drying and slipped into a pair of pajama bottoms and a t-shirt. Returning to the bedroom, he quietly crossed over to the cradle on the far side of the room. Love filled his heart as he looked down at his sleeping son, so peaceful, wrapped snugly in a pale blue blanket. He wanted to pick him up and hold him, to just walk around the room feeling the weight of him in his arms, to know that he was safe and sound and nothing could hurt him. But he needed rest as much as Matthew did, so he contented himself for a few minutes squatting next to the cradle just watching him sleep, and then he turned back toward the bed.

Climbing under the sheet, he was asleep almost as soon as his head hit the pillow. It wasn’t long before his mind slipped into the land of dreams, and he wasn’t alone . . .

Max walked slowly along the meadow, knee deep in the tall grass, watching the way it gently swayed back and forth in the breeze. The sky was crystal blue and fluffy white clouds drifted above them. Ellie’s hand, small and warm, nestled comfortably inside his. She was quiet today, not the exuberant child that filled most of his dreams. He knew why, but neither one of them spoke of it.

Coming to a stop, he dropped down to the ground and pulled Ellie onto his lap. His hand gently brushed a strand of hair away from her face and then he kissed her lightly on the forehead. Her large eyes, so dark and expressive, made his heart ache. The older she got, the more she looked like her mother. He remembered that brief moment when he saw her, on the night she was born. He’d seen it then, how much she looked like Liz. Now, with her long hair streaming down her back, he could see it even more. Hugging her tightly, he felt her small arms go around his neck as she hugged him back.

“I love you, Ellie,” Max said softly with his hand cupping the back of her head.

“I lub you too, Daddy,” Ellie’s voice was muffled against his chest.

They held on to each other with their tremulous breathing the only sounds in the quiet meadow.

* * * * *

Liz entered the bedroom, opening the door quietly so as not to disturb her two sleeping men. Matthew should sleep for a couple more hours and Max needed all the sleep he could get. He’d looked so tired earlier and she was glad he had listened to her and not kept pushing himself. He always pushed himself too hard, thinking of everyone else first.

She checked on Matthew first, padding across the bedroom and smiling down at his sleeping face. He was the spitting image of his father, right down to his adorable little ears. She could just see it now, teenage girls calling on the phone day and night, hoping for a date with the handsome Matthew Evans. She touched her fingers to his soft cheek, filled with maternal love for this child that she and Max had brought into the world.

Moving across the room, she paused at the side of the bed, looking down at the face of her husband. His features were relaxed in sleep, his long lashes resting on his cheeks, his lips slightly parted and his chest rising and falling gently as he breathed. Watching his eyes, she saw them darting back and forth below the lids as he dreamed a dream she couldn’t share. She sat down beside him, taking his hand in hers, watching his face as he slept.

* * * * *

“That one looks like a bird,” Max laughed as he pointed at the cloud formations in the sky. “See the wings?”

“Where?” Ellie frowned.

“There,” he pointed. “Below the one that looks like a shoe.”

“I see it!” Ellie shouted and Max laughed again. Watching the clouds drift across the blue sky reminded him of a time when just the two of them did this, before Liz had joined their dreams.

They were lying on their backs with the tall grass all around them, hidden in their own little world. He could hear Ellie laughing now and the sound soothed his soul. He turned his head to look at her and their foreheads touched with her sparkling eyes shining back at his. It would be an adjustment for her, not having Liz in the dreams anymore, but she was going to be okay. He would make sure of it.

* * * * *

Liz followed the sound of her voice, anxious to get to her in time. She rounded the corner, rushing into the kitchen and grabbed Isabel by the arm, blurting out “Hurry. You have to come quickly, before it’s too late.”

“Liz, what’s the matter?” Isabel said in alarm. She and Alex and just returned from the store and were putting the groceries away. She had thought Liz was resting and Isabel couldn’t imagine what was causing the frantic look in her eyes. Was something wrong with the baby?

“It’s Max,” Liz pulled on her arm. “He’s sleeping.”

Well that was good, Isabel thought, feeling herself propelled across the kitchen. Max had looked so tired earlier and he needed sleep. So what was the problem?

“Isabel, he’s dreaming,” Liz said as if that explained it all. Understanding suddenly dawned on her and she turned to look at Alex.

“Go,” Alex waved her off. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to see that Isabel was needed elsewhere. Waving his arm over the bags of groceries, he said, “I’ll take care of this.” He watched Liz drag Isabel off toward the bedroom and then he opened a cupboard to put away the coffee. Looking at all the cans of frosting stacked end on end, he mumbled, “Jesus, they must eat a lot of cake.”

Liz led Isabel into the bedroom, clutching her hand tightly. She knew it was a long shot, Isabel being able to dreamwalk Ellie, but they had to try. Ellie was so young and their dreamworld was so tenuous, they hadn’t been able to make it work before.

Isabel crossed the room and sat on the edge of the bed beside her brother, watching his eyes as they darted back and forth beneath his eyelids. He was in the world of dreams, but what would she see when she joined him? Would it be just that? Just dreams? Or would she join the special world that he lived in at night, with Ellie, and until yesterday, with Liz too. His face looked so peaceful, so relaxed, and she hoped she could help him find the one thing in his life he was missing.

With an encouraging nod from Liz, Isabel placed her hands at the sides of his head with her thumbs resting at his temples, hoping she wouldn’t find herself walking into a dream featuring spaceships and Crashdown uniforms . . .

Isabel could hear laughter floating in the air and she turned in a circle trying to find them. She remembered this place from her dreamwalks when they were trying to find Liz, and then later in their unsuccessful attempts to pinpoint Ellie’s location. There was something magical about it here, peaceful, and the laughter she heard suited it well. Now, if only she could find them.

Max was tickling Ellie, smiling as she giggled and pulled at his hands trying to make him stop. He loved to hear that high pitched giggle of hers and could listen to it all day long. His hands paused suddenly, resting on her delicate little ribs, listening to a sound.

“Max?” Isabel called out again. The laughter had stopped now and she let her eyes sweep over the landscape trying to find him. “Max?”


She heard his voice coming from behind her and she whirled around, seeing his head rise above the tall blades of grass. His eyes were wide with surprise and as she strode in his direction he slowly rose to his feet.

“Isabel. You’re here,” he stated the obvious.

“Liz sent me. She saw that you were dreaming and she wanted me to try to reach you. Reach . . .” and her voice trailed off when she drew close enough to see the small child hiding behind his leg. Ellie. Beautiful little Ellie. She had the biggest brown eyes and the most delicate looking skin Isabel had ever seen, almost like a porcelain doll. Her long thick hair was held back with the cutest pink ribbons, matching the light pink dress she was wearing. As Isabel moved closer still, Ellie disappeared behind her father’s legs.

“Ellie? Honey? Come meet your Aunt Isabel,” Max urged, trying to coax her out into the open. He’d never seen her act this way before. Of course, Ellie had never met anyone new before. He felt her shake her head no and her small hand tightened on his pant leg, and it suddenly dawned on him what this was all about. Ellie’s life was so limited it was possible she had never encountered a stranger before.

He knew she lived a secluded life with Johnson and an older woman she called Mary. Ellie was segregated from the outside world and knew nothing about the swarms of people that undoubtedly lived all around her, while the dream world that they shared consisted of this private place. It was possible that Ellie had only seen a handful of people in her entire life. No wonder seeing Isabel frightened her.

“Ellie,” Max said gently and reached down to pick her up. “Come here, honey.” He scooped her into his arms and she hid her face against his chest. Gently smoothing his hand over her head and down the long hair that fell over her back, he tried to calm her fears. “Honey, this is my sister. Isabel. Can you say ‘hi’?”

He felt her shake her head, silently saying no, and her arms went around his neck, holding him tightly.

“It’s okay, Baby,” he said soothingly. He looked at Isabel like he wasn’t sure what to do and then with a nod of his head, he encouraged her to move closer.

Isabel closed the distance between them and they stood a mere arms length apart. Softly, she said, “Hi Ellie. I’m glad to finally get to meet you. Your Daddy talks about you all the time.”

Ellie lifted her head and cautiously looked at the stranger with a wary eye.

“Can you say ‘hi’?” Max encouraged her and Ellie shook her head again. He looked at his sister and with confusion evident in his voice, he said, “She’s usually really open. Outgoing. A bundle of energy. I’ve never seen her act like this.”

Isabel slowly raised her hand, touching the child lightly on the back and Ellie disappeared. Her hand flew to her mouth in shock and Isabel cried, “Oh my God, Max! What did I do?”

I'll be back next Sunday with part 80

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 15-Apr-2002 1:33:37 AM ]
posted on 22-Apr-2002 12:30:58 AM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17

Here’s the link to parts 1 to 59:

Author Note: Well, I did a really dumb thing when I post part 79 last week. Initially, I posted the wrong version. Don’t you hate it when you save the wrong one, and then have to go back and fix it? What? You don’t do that? I’m the only idiot that does that? Sheezzzz.

When I read through it I saw my mistake, but some of you had already read it and left feedback. Within a half hour or so I pulled the wrong version and posted the right one, but if you read it Sunday night, unfortunately, you might have read the wrong version. If you have been saving this story, or posting it on another site, the version that is posted now is the correct one. The error was in the last section, and any reference to a “Stevie” should be ignored. Sorry about that. If you read it after midnight (pacific time) last Sunday you probably read the right one.

Now, I think it’s time for a little recap here. This story has gone on for so long (I can’t even remember when I first started posting it, but I thinks it’s been well over a year!), and I know some of the details can get lost. I live with this story every day, so what is fresh to me might not be to you. Now, to recap . . .

Johnson has told Mary that ‘Jenny’ has Gunther’s disease, a skin disease that prevents her from being exposed to sunlight, thus his excuse to keep her isolated indoors.

Johnson has kept Ellie secluded since shortly after her birth. The only people she has seen ‘in the flesh’ are Johnson and Mary. And of course, she has had contact with the animals in the lab.

Johnson, Mary and Ellie live on a sub-level (below ground) in an apartment building in Phoenix, across from Coyote Canyon Park. There are no windows. Ellie has never seen the outdoors, except in the dream world she shares with Max and Liz.

In the real world, all Ellie knows are the rooms she lives in, the lab Johnson works in down the hall, and the two people she shares her life with.

Now, time to move on with the story. Do you remember where we were last week? Here's a recap from . . .

Part 79 . . .

“Ellie? Honey? Come meet your Aunt Isabel,” Max urged, trying to coax her out into the open. He’d never seen her act this way before. Of course, Ellie had never met anyone new before. He felt her shake her head no and her small hand tightened on his pant leg, and it suddenly dawned on him what this was all about. Ellie’s life was so limited it was possible she had never encountered a stranger before.

He knew she lived a secluded life with Johnson and an older woman she called Mary. Ellie was segregated from the outside world and knew nothing about the swarms of people that undoubtedly lived all around her, while the dream world that they shared consisted of this private place. It was possible that Ellie had only seen a handful of people in her entire life. No wonder seeing Isabel frightened her.

“Ellie,” Max said gently and reached down to pick her up. “Come here, honey.” He scooped her into his arms and she hid her face against his chest. Gently smoothing his hand over her head and down the long hair that fell over her back, he tried to calm her fears. “Honey, this is my sister. Isabel. Can you say ‘hi’?”

He felt her shake her head, silently saying no, and her arms went around his neck, holding him tightly.

“It’s okay, Baby,” he said soothingly. He looked at Isabel like he wasn’t sure what to do and then with a nod of his head, he encouraged her to move closer.

Isabel closed the distance between them and they stood a mere arms length apart. Softly, she said, “Hi Ellie. I’m glad to finally get to meet you. Your Daddy talks about you all the time.”

Ellie lifted her head and cautiously looked at the stranger with a wary eye.

“Can you say ‘hi’?” Max encouraged her and Ellie shook her head again. He looked at his sister and with confusion evident in his voice, he said, “She’s usually really open. Outgoing. A bundle of energy. I’ve never seen her act like this.”

Isabel slowly raised her hand, touching the child lightly on the back and Ellie disappeared. Her hand flew to her mouth in shock and Isabel cried, “Oh my God, Max! What did I do?”

Captive Hearts
Part 80

“Isabel, you didn’t do anything,” Max chased after his despondent sister as she ran toward the living room. She hurled herself into Alex’s arms as soon as she saw him and Max turned to Liz, looking at her helplessly. They had come out of the dream just moments before and Isabel had fled the room, certain that she had done something horrible to Ellie that had made her disappear. Trying to make Isabel understand, Max said, “That’s what she does sometimes when she’s overwhelmed by something. She just pulls out of the dream. It wasn’t you, Isabel.”

“Are you sure?” Isabel turned her worried eyes on him. Alex had wrapped his arm around her and Isabel leaned against him, grateful for his support.

“Yes, I’m sure. She just got scared, that’s all,” Max said, trying to sound calm.

“It’s my fault,” Liz said in a small voice.

Max turned to look at her with concern etched all over his face. He didn’t like the sound of her voice. He could hear the edge, the quiver she was trying to mask, and his concern grew even more when she wouldn’t look at him. She brushed past him into the center of the living room with her head held low.

“Liz-” he began and then she cut him off.

“I should have thought of this,” Liz wrapped her arms around herself in distress.

Alex guided Isabel over to the blue chair and pushed her into the soft cushions. He hovered behind her, touching her on the shoulder reassuringly and her hand lifted up to cover his. Max took a seat on the couch and quietly tried to calm his agitated wife. “Liz, come sit down. No one is to blame here.”

“What happened Max? What did I do?” Isabel asked. She’d never felt this horrible before. Her brother had suffered through so much in his life, and she only wanted to help him, but she had made everything worse. When she touched Ellie on the back, the child had just disappeared.

“Isabel, it wasn’t you,” Max tried to reassure her. His hands were clasped together as he sat on the edge of the couch, worried about how Liz was taking this.

“I should have known this might happen,” Liz paced up and down the room. Coming to a stop, she turned to Isabel and said, “You can’t blame yourself. Most children Ellie’s age are afraid of people they don’t know. With Ellie, it’s even more pronounced. It’s not your fault that she reacted the way she did. I should have thought of this and prepared her for it.”

“We should have thought of it,” Max corrected. “No one is to blame here, Liz, especially not you.”

“Max, I’m the one that rushed Isabel into the dream,” Liz turned to him. He saw the tortured look in her eyes and he didn’t know what to say to her.

“Liz, don’t-”

“Don’t you see, Max?” Liz couldn’t hide the quiver in her tone. “If I hadn’t rushed Isabel into the dream, maybe you would have been able to introduce her better, but I just . . . I saw you dreaming . . . and . . .” her voice was starting to break and Max jumped from the couch to wrap his arms around her.

“Shhhh,” he whispered into her ear. “It’s not your fault, Liz. Hush.”

“I just knew you were with Ellie,” her eyes were filling with tears as she looked at him, “and . . . and I knew I couldn’t join you in the dream,” Liz began to cry, “and I thought if Isabel could just find her, then . . . then . . .”

“Liz, don’t do this to yourself,” Max held her tightly, fighting his own emotions.

“I thought . . . I thought . . . we could . . . finally bring her home,” Liz sobbed into his chest. “I’m sorry, Max,” her hands fisted into his t-shirt.

“Liz,” Max rubbed his hand over her back trying to calm her. Alex guided Isabel into the kitchen so they could be alone and Max nodded to him gratefully. He could feel Liz’s tears soaking into his shirt and he knew this wasn’t just about Ellie being frightened in the dream. His hand stroked through her hair knowing it was more that she couldn’t be there, with Ellie, helping her, guiding her, being with her.

“I just want her home,” Liz sagged against him, sobbing in a way he hadn’t seen since the dark days following Ellie’s birth.

“I know,” Max caressed her gently. His hand cupped the back of her head and it was his turn to support her now. “We’ll find her, Liz. You know we will.” His eyes closed, feeling her trembling in his arms and he urged her gently, “Let it out, Liz. Just let it out.”

She was always so strong, the one he relied on every day of his life, but tonight it was his turn to be there for her, to hold her, and to love her, and to help her through her pain. As her sobs began to quiet, Max guided her down the hallway to their room. He pulled the coverings back from their bed and helped her slide between the sheets and then climbed in beside her, drawing her back into his arms.

Liz had stoically faced all the trials and tribulations that life had thrown at her and tonight they had all come to a head. It wasn’t as simple as an emotional reaction to stress or the hormonal changes going through her body. In the last 24 hours, Liz had gained much, and lost even more. Her connection to her daughter was gone now, while at the same time she rejoiced over the birth of her son. As Max held her in his arms, he knew she had every reason in the world to be feeling this way tonight.

Her sobs were quiet now and Max could feel her body relaxing as he held her comfortingly. She needed rest now, and he was going to make sure she got it. Matthew would be needing her soon and he knew she would be ready when his hungry cries beckoned her from sleep.

* * * * *

The mood was more subdued as family and friends gathered around the breakfast table the next morning. Michael had taken over the chef responsibilities and was ordering Maria about, and Maria was letting him get away with it. The grandmothers were helping out, waiting for their turn to hold the baby again. Isabel was quiet at the table, thinking of her failure the night before, and Alex sat beside her supportively.

In the bedroom, Max was watching Liz as she lifted Matthew from the cradle. She seemed better this morning, relaxed in her usual way, and he wondered if the release of her pent up emotions the night before had cleansed her. God knows the stress she’d been under lately was enough to break anyone.

“I’m gonna go change him,” Liz said softly, looking down at her son. He was awake and taking in all the sights around him. He was quiet at the moment, but it wouldn’t be long before his hunger would change that. Max was just slipping into a pair of jeans and as she passed next to him she came to a stop. Without lifting her head she said, “I’m sorry, about the way I lost it last night.”

“Liz,” Max put his fingers under her chin and gently lifted. Her eyes slowly rose up to meet his and he kissed her lightly on the forehead. “You were upset last night, and it was completely understandable. You saw an opportunity to try to reach Ellie and you took it. I wouldn’t have expected anything less.”

“But I fell apart, Max,” Liz tried to look away. “I didn’t handle it well.”

“Liz,” he turned her chin back to him. “Remember last night in the kitchen when you told me I wasn’t Superman?” She nodded and her brow furrowed, wondering what that had to do with this and Max gave a little laugh. “You’re not Superwoman either. You’re entitled to fall apart, especially with all you’ve been through. The important thing here is that we learned something last night that we hadn’t thought about before. Ellie lives a secluded life, and we need to figure out how to open up her world, so new things don’t overwhelm her so much.”

“Not ‘we’ Max,” her voice sounded timorous and her eyes looked so sad. “Only you can help Ellie now.”

Matthew began to fuss in her arms and she pulled away, and Max let his hand drop to his side feeling helpless. He watched her as she left the bedroom, headed to Matthew’s room to change him, wondering how he could help her through this. She was always his rock, his strength, his anchor in a storm, and to see her drowning like this was breaking his heart.

* * * * *

“Rachel?” Max said quietly into the phone. He was standing in the living room and Liz was in the bedroom feeding Matthew and he didn’t want her to hear.

“Max?” she frowned at the tone in his voice. “Is everything alright?”

“I’m a little worried about Liz,” he sat down on the edge of the chair.

“What’s the matter? Is she bleeding? Cramping? Discomfort?”

“No, nothing like that,” Max said hastily. “It’s just, she’s so . . . when I was dreaming last night, with Ellie, well . . .”

“Oh,” Rachel understood. “And Liz couldn’t share it.”

“Yes,” Max nodded.

“And that made her sad. Probably had her in tears, right?”

“Yeah,” Max felt relieved that Rachel knew exactly what he was talking about.

“Max, it’s normal for a woman to experience postpartum depression,” Rachel tried to ease his worries. “With Liz it might even be more pronounced because of, well, everything. She’s going through a lot of changes right now, both physically and emotionally. Her body is adjusting to a nonpregnancy state, while at the same time she’s dealing with the responsibilities of a new baby. Then you throw in the fact that she’s lost her connection to Ellie, Max I’d be surprised if she wasn’t upset.”

“What should I do?” Max asked helplessly.

“Just be there for her,” Rachel urged. “Support her while she works through this. Liz is a strong woman. She’s going to be just fine. Just give her a little time.”

“Okay,” Max said thankfully.

“Max, don’t hesitate to call me, for anything. I’m here for you.”

“Thanks, Rachel. I don’t know what we’d do without you.”

“You’re welcome, Max. I’ll talk to you soon.”

Max hung up the phone feeling better than a few minutes before but he could still remember the depression Liz had gone through after Ellie was born. He understood that the circumstances between Ellie’s birth and Matthew’s were completely different, but in both cases, Liz had lost Ellie. The first time Ellie had been torn away from her. This time, Ellie’s presence had quietly slipped from her mind.

A sound broke into his thoughts and Max lifted his head to see Liz coming down the hall with Matthew in her arms. She had a valiant smile on her face and Max matched her look, putting up a good façade. As they came together to join their family over breakfast, Max was more determined than ever to fix things, if only he could find a way.

* * * * *

“She likes animals, right?” Michael said around a mouthful of eggs. “Take her to the zoo.”

“The zoo?” Max raised his eyebrows. They were trying to think of places to take Ellie in the dreams, so she could see what the world was really like. Their quiet meadow was their haven, but it only served to keep her isolated. Max needed to gradually take her beyond the sea of grass and their meandering stream. Ellie had loved the ocean, delighted in the new adventure. They just needed to expand that, show her that the world was full of people too, people that wanted to help her, like Isabel, so she could find her way home.

“We know that she’s around animals,” Michael continued, “because that motherfu – because Johnson runs a lab. You said she’s mentioned monkeys and dogs and cats and hamsters-”

“Or something like a county fair,” Maria chimed in. “Remember how you said she loved the swing? I bet she’d like the rides! The kiddie rides! And a county fair has dog shows and cat shows and pigs and cows and horses! You know how much she loves horses!”

“That’s a great idea, Maria!” Liz exclaimed.

She was smiling now and as her eyes met Max’s he could see that spark of life inside her glowing brightly. Her excitement flowed into him and his hand reached for hers, entwining their fingers together. Creating a complicated dreamworld for Ellie would take a lot of effort on his part, but he was thinking of ways that Liz could help, so that she would be involved too.

“I’ll need your help, Liz,” he smiled at her. “You can plan it out for me. The kind of rides she might like, how many, what they look like.”

“And what animals to show her,” Liz squeezed his hand. Turning to Maria, she said, “She’ll love the horses. Max, can’t you just see her looking at the Clydesdales! They’re so huge!”

“Yes!” he felt her enthusiasm. “And I can have Isabel and Mom and Dad,” he said looking at both sets of parents, “everybody can be in the background so she gets used to seeing you all. Then when Isabel tries to dreamwalk her the next time, Ellie will know her, and hopefully not be scared away, like last night. I’m sure we can make this work.”

With a clear goal now, the mood at the table was considerably brighter than when they’d first sat down to eat. Their talk was animated and it wasn’t long before they were debating the pros and cons of the kiddie rides.

“I’m telling ya,” Michael insisted, “the cars are the best.”

“No,” Maria shook her head. “It’s the tea cups.”

“The tea cups?” Michael snorted. “The ones that spin around and make you puke?”

“They’re fun Michael,” Maria hit him on the arm.

“Yeah, if you like puking all over the guy sitting next to you,” Michael shot back.

“It’s the Ferris Wheel,” Nancy interrupted their banter. She was holding a sleeping Matthew snugly in her arms and when her eyes met Diane’s, they both nodded in agreement. “Definitely, the Ferris Wheel is the best.”

“Ellie will love it,” Diane agreed. “It’s not too fast to scare her, it won’t make her puke,” she shot a look at Michael, “and when it stops at the top she’ll feel like she’s floating on air.”

Max looked from his mother to Liz and he could tell by the look in her eyes that she was thinking the same thing he was. In their last dream together, the three of them had floated above the ground, riding on the back of the white horse and Ellie had loved it. Flying high above the ground, she hadn’t been afraid at all.

As they sat at the table side by side, Max draped his arm around Liz, pulling her close until her head was resting on his shoulder. Her arm rested on his thigh comfortably and he covered her hand with his. He could see it now, perched on top of the Ferris Wheel with Ellie tucked next to his side. The only thing wrong with the picture was the absence of Liz sitting next to her as well. Deep inside, he felt a stirring, of something that he couldn’t quite grasp but that floated on the periphery of his conscious mind.

Something significant had happened concerning Liz, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. He knew it had something to do with their connection, but it was just out of reach. Shaking it off, he decided the best thing to do would be to not think about it at all, and wait for it to come. One thing he did know was, that come hell or high water, he was going to do everything in his power to keep Ellie alive for Liz, in her heart and her mind, until the day he could bring her home.

That’s right. You know the drill. Look for part 81 next Sunday!
Oh, and I’m getting close to being ready to post a new story. Something lighter, not so gut wrenching. Maybe later this week.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 22-Apr-2002 12:57:00 AM ]
posted on 29-Apr-2002 12:12:44 AM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17

Link to parts 1 through 59:

Author Note Thanks for all the bumps! Hopefully this part will give you a chuckle, or at least a smile or two.

Captive Hearts
Part 81

Sunday faded into Monday and then Tuesday, with people coming and going and activity all around them. Carl had insisted that Max take the week off. He’d earned vacation time and Max couldn’t think of a better way of spending it, than to take care of his wife and son. Most of their family had returned to Roswell on Sunday, all except their mothers who had stayed a couple extra days to help around the house and, of course, to hog the baby. They had left for Roswell yesterday afternoon, and as Wednesday dawned, this was the first morning where the only people in the house were Max and Liz and little Matthew . . .

Lying on his stomach, Max slowly stirred from sleep wondering what was wrong with his face. It felt like his lower lip was being pulled away from his mouth. Now something was poking him in the eye. Oh, oh, oh . . . now his ear was being twisted. What the hell? The eye that wasn’t buried in his pillow popped open as his wife’s voice penetrated his haze.

“Max . . .” Liz reached for him, trying to wake him. “The baby . . . Matthew’s crying.” She was still half asleep, and her hand was poking Max in the face to get his attention.

“Wa . . .?” Max mumbled thickly. Her fingers slapped at his cheek and then his nose and somehow found the way into his mouth when he opened it to ask what she was doing. His hand closed around hers and pulled her fingers free and he raised his head to mumble, “What’s going on?”

“Matthew,” Liz rubbed the sleep from her eyes. “Go get Matthew.”

“Matthew,” Max repeated. “Go get Matthew.” He pushed himself up from the mattress and then sat on the edge of the bed, trying to clear the cobwebs from his brain. Hadn’t he just gotten Matthew a few minutes ago? He peered at the clock on the nightstand and saw that it was nearly 7:30. The last time he got up to get Matthew the clock said 5:00. Before that it was a few minutes before 2:00. Max had come to the conclusion that babies didn’t like their parents to sleep.

He rose to his feet and shuffled off toward the bathroom, when Liz piped up, “Matthew first.”

“Right,” he muttered under his breath and changed direction in mid-step. He could pee later. Babies came before parents getting a chance to pee. If his bladder exploded, he’d just have to heal himself later.

Dragging his feet across the room, he leaned over the cradle and there was Matthew, chewing on his fingers hungrily. “Hey Buddy,” Max smiled as his son crinkled his face and fussed even harder. “Are you hungry? You want your Mommy? I bet she’s got something over there you want.” He picked Matthew up gently and snuggled him in his arms as he turned to take him to Liz.

“Change him first, honey,” Liz reminded Max while she arranged the pillows around her so she could nurse him comfortably.

“Right,” Max muttered again and changed direction to take his son into his room to change his diaper. “Babies get changed while Daddy’s have to hold it till they float.” Max cradled Matthew carefully, supporting his head the way Liz had shown him and once he’d crossed into the bedroom he set Matthew on the changing table.

“Remember to use the baby wipes,” Liz called out.

“I remember,” Max answered her as he unsnapped Matthew’s sleeper. He pulled a fresh diaper from the stack and set it close by and then began to remove the old one. A smile spread over the baby’s face and Max giddily yelled, “Liz! He’s smiling at me!”

“It’s just gas,” Liz yelled back. “He’s too young to smile.”

“Gas?” Max leaned down and buzzed Matthew’s tummy with his nose. “That was a smile, wasn’t it? Yes it was. Yes it was. You were smiling just for Dadd – Oh,” Max wrinkled his nose. Liz was right again.

“Max, be careful when you take his diaper off-”

“She’s talking like I never changed your diaper before,” Max spoke softly to Matthew.

“-little boys have a tenancy to-”

“I’ve changed your diaper plenty of times, haven’t I?” he cooed as he began to pull the tabs free.

“-when the cool air hits them-”

He pulled back the diaper, reached for a baby wipe and then looked back down at Matthew with a broad smile on his face. “She thinks I don’t know what I’m doing-”

‘-it makes them pee.”

And at that moment, Max watched helplessly as a stream of urine arched through the air and hit him square in the chest. It soaked into his gray t-shirt while Max stood there immobile with his mouth hanging open. Liz was right again. Regaining his voice, Max stared down at his son, “You’re on her side, aren’t ya?”

Matthew just gurgled and cooed.

“Max? Did you hear me?” Liz called out. He was being awfully quiet in there. “Do you need any help?” Still more silence. “Max? Do you need me to come in there?”

Just then he reappeared in the doorway with a clean and fresh baby and Liz wondered why he was holding Matthew so far away. She’d shown him how to hold the baby, and that wasn’t the right way. He came around the side of the bed and leaned down to pass Matthew over to her, and then she saw the reason why.

“Max-” she started laughing, knowing what had caused the wet spot on his shirt.

“I’m gonna go take a shower now,” Max interrupted. She laughed even harder as he crossed the room with his head held high, trying to retain what little dignity he had left.

* * * * *

In squad room, Carl was looking over a file, lost in concentration. He studied the notes he’d made of his conversation with Wakely, looking for the phone number of the security guard that had worked at Haystack Mountain when Liz was held there. He’d yet to make contact with the man, but now seemed like a good time. Max would be out for the rest of the week and the current caseload was light. Carl jotted down a name and address on a slip of paper, just as Chris came sauntering into the room.

“Ah, “Carl smiled. “Perfect timing.”

“What’s up?” Chris raised his eyebrows expectantly. Was Carl sending him out to round up the bad guys?

“I want you to pick this guy up for questioning,” Carl held out the slip of paper.

“New case?” Chris asked as he glanced down at the name and address.

“Nah,” Carl shrugged it off. “Just something I’m looking into. I’m kind of keeping it on the QT.”

“When you want me to bring him in?”

“This afternoon, if possible,” Carl answered.

“You got it,” Chris slipped the paper into his breast pocket. “I’ll make a run over to Chandler after lunch. I’ll call ya if I have any trouble with him.”

Chris moved off toward his desk and Carl closed the file and placed it in the top right hand side of his desk. Maybe by this afternoon, he’d have some answers to go with all his questions.

* * * * *

Max sat at the kitchen table rocking Matthew in his arms. He watched mesmerized as his son’s eyes darted back and forth under his lids and his mouth moved as if he was dreaming about suckling at his mother’s breast. He stretched and then settled back down and Max suddenly frowned in concern. He looked up at the light above the table and then back down at Matthew, before pushing back his chair and crossing the kitchen to stand next to Liz.

“Liz, do you think his color is okay?” he asked worriedly.

Liz turned her eyes away from the soup she was stirring and gazed down at her son. “His skin looks fine.”

“It doesn’t look yellow?” he peered closely.

“No Max,” Liz bit her lower lip. “His skin looks fine. He doesn’t have jaundice.”

“Are you sure? Because Rachel said we should keep our eyes open for-”

“Max. Matthew is fine. Now go back and sit down, honey,” she patted him on the arm. “Lunch will be ready in a few minutes.”

Max returned to the chair and sat down carefully so as not to jostle the baby. A few minutes later he stood up again and walked back across the kitchen.

“Liz?” he said in that same worried tone. “Does he sound funny to you?”

Liz rolled her eyes and put the spoon down before turning to look at Matthew, who was contentedly making gurgling noises in his throat. “Max, those are all normal sounds.”

“You sure?” Max said again.

“Yes, I’m sure.” She watched him as he returned to the table with his eyes glued to the bundle in his arms. Picking up the spoon she began to stir the soup again, slowly counting to herself. It wasn’t long before Max was once more on his feet and walking in her direction.

“Liz . . .”

“What honey,” Liz asked through gritted teeth.

“What’s that stuff on his head?” That worried tone just wasn’t going away.

“That’s cradle cap,” she soothed, smiling down at Matthew as she cupped his small head. Her eyes rose up to look at Max and she said, “It’s common. You can heal it if you want to.”

“I can?” he sounded hopeful.

“Yes, honey,” she patted his arm.

Happy to have a mission, Max returned to the table and sat down. His hand hovered over Matthew’s head while he healed the scaly skin so prevalent in babies. Liz went back to stirring the soup and then she nearly screamed out loud when she heard the chair scrape back from the table again.

“Liz . . .”

She could hear his even tread as he crossed over the kitchen floor and Liz whirled around with the spoon dripping with chicken broth, waving it in front of her like a weapon. “What Max!”

He raised his eyebrows at her sudden outburst and then he remembered what Rachel said about hormones and postpartum depression. He just had to be patient with her until her hormones balanced out again.

Liz took a deep breath, wondering when exactly Max was going to stop overreacting to everything, and tried to calmly ask, “What is it Max?”

Max held Matthew out at arms length and said. “He’s poopy. It’s you turn to change him.”

* * * * *

Carl stood outside the interrogation room, studying through the window the man that sat at the table inside the room. He was medium height, overweight, with hair thinning on top. His uniform, from one of the local security outfits that Carl was familiar with, fit him poorly, too tight for his pudgy body. He watched the man as he fidgeted, seemingly unable to sit still for more than a few minutes. Staring at him, Carl wondered what he was so nervous about.

His hand reached out and opened the door, causing the man inside the room to jump. His head snapped in Carl’s direction and their eyes met and it took Carl only a few moments to size the man up. He didn’t like what he saw.

Walter Anderson. 45 year old male. Worked two dead end jobs just to keep afloat. Carl knew almost everything about him. Where he worked. Marital status. How many kids. How much money he owed in back child support. But there was one thing that he didn’t know, and that’s what he wanted to find out today. What exactly had he seen at Haystack Mountain while he was working there?

“Mr. Anderson,” Carl nodded a greeting as he took a seat across from him. “Thank you for coming in today.” The man glanced at him with little ferret eyes and Carl took an instant dislike to him. His body was stiff and his eyes darted all around the room, trying to look everywhere except at Carl. His sausage fingers picked at the scarred table in front of him in a nervous gesture. His bulbous nose dominated his face and Carl guessed he spent more nights sleeping with a bottle than with a woman.

“What am I doing here?” Anderson asked.

“I just want to ask you a few questions,” Carl said easily.

“What questions? About what?” he asked defensively.

‘”You’re a security guard,” Carl said simply.

“Yeah,” Anderson sneered and looked down at his uniform. “How’d ya guess?”

“You work at Global,” Carl remained impassive.

“Yeah,” Anderson replied and shifted uncomfortably.

“How long?” Carl asked.

“Couple years.”

“You like the work?”

“It’s a job.”

“You married?” Carl asked.

“Divorced,” Anderson fidgeted.



“What kind of work goes on at Global?” Carl asked.

“I don’t know. Some kind of bio-technology shit or something.”

“Pretty high-tech stuff huh? I bet they keep the security pretty tight there.”

“You better believe it,” Anderson nodded. “Closed circuit cameras. Infrared alarm systems. Even retinal scanners to get to the really secretive stuff.”

“You’re pretty familiar with high level security, aren’t you?”

“Yeah, it goes with the job.”

“Where’d you work before Global?”

Anderson eyed the detective closely, feeling the hair rise on the back of his neck. Is that what this was all about? He thought he had covered his tracks when he faked his employment records. His ex-brother-in-law had covered for him. Had that bastard ratted him out? If that son-of-a bitch had told anyone he used to work at –

“What exactly happened at Haystack Mountain, Mr. Anderson?” Carl demanded.

“I . . . don’t . . . I’ve never heard of-”

“You worked there from the middle of May until October 17th of 2000.”

“No-” Anderson denied.

“Yes,” Carl verbally pounced on him. “You were part of an illegal operation that held a young girl against her will.”

“No,” he shook his head but his eyes had taken on a trapped animal appearance.

“I could have you brought up on charges, for unlawful imprisonment. I could make it so you never see the light of day again. I could send you to prison for the rest of your natural born life.”

“What do you want from me?” Anderson said in fright.

“I want to know everything that happened on the night of October 17th.”

“I don’t-”

“Everything,” Carl said with menace in his voice.

Anderson sat staring at Carl with his mouth hanging open. He couldn’t go to prison. Men like him didn’t survive in prison. He’d end up with a shiv in his gut, bleeding like a pig on the shower floor. Reviewing his options, he finally said, “I want immunity, from prosecution.”

“Okay,” Carl nodded. He had expected this, and as much as he wanted this scum to pay for his crimes, he knew a confession wasn’t going to be prosecutable. There wasn’t enough evidence to support a charge.

“What do you want to know?”

“Tell me everything that happened that night,” Carl sat back in his chair. “Start at the beginning.”

* * * * *

Carl stood at the window, shaking his head at the crap he was hearing. Was this guy for real, or did he belong in that nuthouse Wakely found back in New Mexico? “So tell me again. When did you first notice something wrong?”

“Like I said, it wasn’t until I heard Sandusky shout that I realized we’d had a breech. I turned around and saw a guy standing in one of the containment rooms. The girl’s room. But she’d already been taken to the OR and the kid was livid. God, his eyes,” Anderson paused and rubbed his hand over his face as he remembered the murderous look in that freak’s eyes. “He was in a rage, shouting for Sandusky to tell him where the girl was. Sandusky was a real ass, and he taunted the guy, and I could see him just . . . snap. The next thing I know, Sandusky is floating in the air, screaming for us to shoot the kid. He had this weird light all around him, like it was squeezing him, and Sandusky started screaming in pain. We pulled our guns and fired, but this weird fucking energy thing formed between us, like a shield or something, and the bullets just bounced off. The kid was holding his hand up in the air toward Sandusky and it was glowing, and his eyes were glowing and then he just kind of closed his fist and Sandusky screamed and then he was just . . . gone! And then that freak turned and looked at me and then I was flying backwards through the air and I knew I was about to die. I knew that monster was gonna kill me too, just like he killed Sandusky. I must have hit the wall and blacked out, cause when I woke up, he was gone and I got he hell out of there.”

Carl walked back to the table not sure what to believe. The guy’s story was just too whacked to be true. Monsters making people disappear into thin air? Anderson had probably been on a binge and imagined the whole thing. Standing across from him, Carl took a stack of snapshots out of his pocket and slowly slid them across the table. “Any of these guys look familiar?”

Anderson picked up the pictures and looked at them one by one. His face was impassive until he reached the last one and then he shot out of his chair and dropped the picture like it was on fire. His hand was shaking as he pointed at it, and his face had turned white as a ghost as he hissed, “That’s him! That’s the kid! That’s the freak that killed Sandusky!”

Carl looked down at the picture on the table, staring at the familiar face of his partner, Max Evans.

Look for Part 82 next Sunday

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 29-Apr-2002 12:23:11 AM ]
posted on 6-May-2002 1:19:19 AM by Breathless
Author: Debbi, aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17

Link to part 1 to 59:

Author Note: I’ve seen Carl and Rachel’s names mentioned a lot in your feedback, and happily, I think for the most part you’ve embraced the characters. Since they are my own creation, well, you can imagine how that makes me feel. I have a special fondness for Carl. If you like him, as I do, you might want to have a tissue handy. I went through a whole box of them when I wrote this . . .

Captive Hearts
Part 82

Carl sat in his dimly lit living room thinking about that afternoon’s interview with Anderson, railing against the things he had heard. It was just too inconceivable to believe. Too far fetched. Monsters? Inhuman babies? The booze must have eaten away at Anderson’s brain. Maybe he imagined it all during the DT’s. It was just too fucking unbelievable.

But Liz had been held at Haystack Mountain. Against her will. And she had been pregnant. With Ellie. And Max had been involved with a raid that broke into the place on the night of October 17th. The night that Ellie was born. And according to Max, that night they had literally cut Ellie out of her mother because they wanted her so badly.

He looked down at the file on his lap, staring at the image of a beautiful dark haired child, drawn lovingly by a skilled craftsman. What was it about Ellie that made Miller act so desperately? To literally slice Liz open and take the child, and leave Liz behind to die? Why? Why this child? Because she wasn’t completely . . .human?

“Bullshit,” Carl spit out in exasperation and slammed the file closed. He didn’t believe a word of it. He’d listened today to the rantings of a madman, spouting complete bullshit. Max was no monster. Max was no freak killing people with a flick of his hand. Men floating in air? Glowing lights? Energy fields that deflected bullets? Bullshit.

He tossed the file onto his glass and chrome coffee table and a snapshot dislodged and poked out from the edge. Carl pulled it free, looking once more at the smiling face of his partner. He’d always been a good judge of character and he’d known from the moment he met Max, on that day back in January, that he was a good man. A caring man. A man with many secrets, yes, but a man with compassion and heart and a gentle soul. Cindy Morgan had called him an angel, said that he glowed all over, and his magical hands made her arm stop hurting. Walter Anderson had called him a monster, murdering men with those same hands. Two opposite ends of the spectrum. An angel and a monster. How could they both be Max?

Carl worked with him every day, seeing a good, decent, honorable man, but he’d seen a darker side to him as well. He had seen the rage in him, that day at Maryvale hospital when Johnson got away. His features had transformed into something dark, dangerous, a wounded animal ready to attack. But wouldn’t any man react similar in a situation like that? If he and Michelle had had a child, and that child had been taken from them, wouldn’t he react the same? Wouldn’t he have done anything, including killing, to save his wife and his child? Wasn’t that only . . . human? To protect your own?

Rising to his feet, he picked the file up and walked across the living room to the small desk against the wall. He opened the top drawer and set it inside, thinking if Max had killed anyone it must have been justified, given the circumstances. The rest he discounted as all bullshit. The only monsters at Haystack Mountain were the doctors that had been in charge of the place.

* * * * *

Liz rose from the bed and returned a now sleeping Matthew to his cradle, tucking his blanket around him securely. She quietly padded back to the bed and slid between the sheets being careful not to disturb Max. He’d fallen asleep while he was watching her nurse Matthew and Liz settled her head onto her pillow, gazing at his peaceful face. His hair fell across his forehead and she wondered when he was going to get a haircut. He didn’t usually let it get this long, but he’d been a little preoccupied lately, to say the least.

She wanted to touch him, to reach out and brush his hair back from his face, to stroke his cheek with her fingertips, to touch his sensual lips with her own, but she didn’t dare. Instead, she watched him, and waited.

It wasn’t long before she saw the first tale tale sign and a mist began to cloud her vision. She fought back the ever present urge to cry, knowing this was as close as she could be right now, watching his face as he joined Ellie in their dream. His eyes began to move below his lids and she knew he was seeing her, talking to her, holding her small hand in his as they walked through their peaceful dreamworld. She listened closely, just in case he might talk in his sleep, and then in some small way she would be able to share it.

A single tear fell from her eye to soak into the fabric of her pillow as his world shifted, taking him to a place where she couldn’t follow . . .

Ellie peered into the water, intently looking at the rocky bottom of the stream. Her extended finger penetrated the cool surface and as she reached for an object on the bottom the water soon rose above her elbow. From his vantage point a few feet away, Max couldn’t see what she was looking at, but whatever it was, it had her complete attention.

“Daddy?” Ellie broke the comfortable silence.

“What, honey?” he asked, sliding another rock into place. He was standing in the water, with his pants rolled up to his knees and they were creating a rock dam to divert a part of the stream. He wanted to create his own tidal pool to see what creatures of nature might venture through.

“Are dare any humit cabs here?” she asked, turning over another shell.

“No,” Max shook his head. “I don’t think so. We’ll have to go back to the beach to see them.” By the solemn look on her face, he couldn’t help wondering if there was something more to her question.

Rising to her feet, she stared at the object in her hand as she made her way over to stand next to him. Max set another rock in place and then turned his complete attention to her as she asked, “Daddy, what ‘appens if the cab don’t like him’s home?”

Max could see the empty shell in her hand, a shell that shouldn’t even exist in a freshwater stream like this, but it was familiar to her now, a new part of her world. “You mean,” he asked watching her face, “you mean the shell he picks out?”

“Yep,” she nodded, poking a finger at the shell. “What if him don’t like it?”

“Then I guess he’d pick out a new one,” Max tried to read the expression on her face.

“Can ebbybody pick a new one?”

“Can . . .” Max started to echo her and then it hit him. She wanted to be able to pick a new home, just like the crab. She didn’t like the one she had.

“C’mere,” he held out his hands and she lifted her arms up to him. He scooped her into the air and splashed through the water over to the bank of the stream. Lowering himself to the ground, he sat her on his lap, brushing her hair back away from her face and then pressing his lips against her forehead.

“I miss Mommy,” her eyes rose up to meet his and her chin quivered just a little.

“I know you do, Ellie,” he felt his breath catch at her heartbreaking admission. “Mommy misses you too.” This was the first time she had mentioned how she felt about losing her connection to Liz. His arms circled around her and held her close, feeling her cheek against his chest and her fingers plucking at the buttons on his shirt. “I’ve been trying to think of a way to bring her back here.”

“I know how,” Ellie looked up at him with her big innocent eyes.

“You do?” Max arched his eyebrows. “How?” He was curious to see what kind of idea she had come up with, but he wasn’t prepared to hear her answer.

“You could gibe Mommy anudder baby.”

“I could-”Max had to suppress a laugh. He’d been wracking his brain trying to think of a way to bring Liz back into the dreams, but getting her pregnant again hadn’t been one of them. What was that old saying? Out of the mouths of babes? As much as Liz wanted to be with Ellie again, with Matthew less than a week old, another pregnancy was out of the question.

“You know, honey, Mommy just had Matthew and she needs time before she can even think about having another baby,” Max said gently.

“Oh,” Ellie toyed with his shirt button again. She thought that over for a minute and then looked up at him hopefully. “Tomorrow maybe?”

Max couldn’t stop the smile that spread over his face even as he shook his head. “No, I think Mommy needs a little more time than one day.”

“Next week!” Ellie smiled excitedly and Max laughed at her determination. He wrapped her tightly in his arms, wishing more than anything that Liz could see her right now.

* * * * *

Carl walked into his stark and empty kitchen headed toward the refrigerator looking for something to eat. Opening the door, he gazed at the contents inside but nothing looked appealing. He felt restless tonight, unable to sit and watch TV, or read a book which he normally enjoyed doing. His apartment was too quiet.

He’d lived with silence for years now, all alone within these walls, and the quiet had been his only companion. He’d worn it like a cloak, a shield, while he lived inside his memories. When he retreated into that world that lived only in his mind, Michelle wasn’t dead there. She was alive and healthy and their lives were rich and full, and for years that had sustained him. For years her memory had kept him going, from one lonely morning to the next.

Her laughter would echo in the quiet sometimes and he’d talk to her, hearing her voice only in his mind. He’d tell her how his day went, shielding her from the uglier aspects of his work, just as he had when she was still alive. Then as one year turned into another, and then another, the silence become profound. Her laughter faded until he couldn’t hear it any more. He’d wake up in the morning with his hand reaching for her only to touch a cold pillow instead.

As the years went by, he threw himself more and more into his work. Twelve hour days were common for him, because then he wouldn’t have to face the silence of his empty life. Silence had become the enemy, reminding him of everything he had lost. As time passed, he adjusted to a life without Michelle, but the silence still remained. Now, standing alone in his kitchen, the only sound he heard was the ticking of the clock on the wall, counting away the minutes of his life.

He rubbed his hands tiredly over his face and he abandoned the kitchen, making the slow journey through the living room toward his bedroom. His fingers slowly unfastened the buttons on the cuff of his shirt and then a sound penetrated the silence. It was a sound from deep within his mind and as the memory resurfaced his legs grew weak and his hand reached out to keep him from collapsing on the bed. He sat on the edge, flooded by a memory he’d kept buried for so many years . . .

He hated the incessant beeping. It was always there, always in the background, in this stark, antiseptic room. He carried it with him when he left, when he tried to concentrate on his work, when he went to the grocery store, even the shower couldn’t drown out the sound. Beep . . . beep . . . beep . . .

He looked up at the dreaded machine, watching the red line as it arced in rhythm with each beep. Beep . . . beep . . . beep . . . 60 beats per minute.

He felt her hand squeeze his and he cast his eyes upon her face. The cancer had stolen her beauty, but not to his eyes. He couldn’t see the sores that wouldn’t heal, or her parched lips or gaunt cheeks. He couldn’t see the patches of bald skin that she tried to hide under the scarf. To him, she was still as beautiful as the day she walked down the aisle and made him the happiness man in the world.

“Carl,” she whispered with difficulty.

“Hush, Michelle,” he squeezed her hand gently. “Save your strength.” He couldn’t give up hope. The doctors said she wouldn’t regain consciousness, but see, here she was, proving them wrong again.

“Carl,” she sighed, exhausted by the effort to speak and he leaned closer so he could hear her. “Don’t mourn for me Carl-”

“Michelle,” he choked. “Don’t . . .”

“You filled my life with so much love . . .”

“Michelle, please . . . you need to rest . . .” the tears were freely flowing down his face. “ . . . please . . .”

“I want you to be happy, Carl . . .” her voice was so soft, no more than a sigh on a summer breeze.

“Michelle . . .”

“You have so much love to give,” she lifted her hand with great effort and cupped his cheek. “Don’t mourn for me.”

“Michelle, don’t,” Carl wept and she drew his head down to her breast. “I love you, Michelle. I . . . I can’t . . .”

“I’ll always be with you, Carl.” A tear slid down her cheek and then she closed her eyes.

The incessant beeping faltered, raced suddenly and then quickly changed to a steady drone. His hand fisted into the thin cotton of her hospital gown as his tears saturated the material. He could hear the rustle of the nurse moving behind him and then a click and the drone of the machine was gone, replaced by the deadly silence that had invaded his life.

The only sounds that remained were his tortured sobs and the echo of her voice saying, “Don’t mourn for me . . .”

Carl was shaking as the memory finished playing out in his mind, a memory he’d kept buried for so long. He lifted his head and looked at her picture on his dresser across the room and he walked toward it on unsteady legs. He lifted it and touched his fingers to her smiling face, and then a slow smile began to spread over his. “If you’re watching me from up there, you’re probably pissed, huh? For the last ten years I’ve been doing the one thing you asked me not to do.” The smile faded away and his voice trembled slightly as he added, “I couldn’t help it.”

Putting her picture gently back on the dresser top, he said, “I think I’m ready now. What do you think?”

Just then the phone rang and turning from the dresser he walked over to the nightstand. He lifted the phone to his ear and as he heard the voice on the other end, a smile once again softening his features and he said, “Hi Rachel.”

His eyes returned to the picture on the dresser and he nodded his thanks. She’d just sent him the answer to his question. He was ready now to embrace the future instead of living with the dead memories of the past.

* * * * *

Max slowly came out of his dream and the first thing he noticed was the feel of Liz’s hand touching his. She was sleeping, facing him with her head on her pillow, and he could see the wet stain that her tears had caused. Lifting his hand, he brushed his fingers over her cheek, feeling the tears there that hadn’t quite dried yet.

Moving closer, he wrapped his arms around her, hoping that his touch would soothe her in her sleep. He could feel the soft puffs of her breath against his chest and his hand stroked through her hair, gently, lovingly, wishing he could help her through this painful time. Perhaps later, when she woke, he could connect with her and let her walk through the memory of his dream.

It wouldn’t be the same as her being there, but at least she could see Ellie, and listen to the sound of her voice. They would still be sharing the dream, at least in some small way, and he knew he needed that as much as Liz did.

Maybe tomorrow or the next day would be better. Maybe they’d find that elusive clue that would bring them closer to Ellie. Maybe soon, the dreams wouldn’t matter anymore, because Ellie would be home.

Look for part 83 next Sunday

posted on 13-May-2002 12:23:56 AM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17

Here’s the link to parts 1 through 59 at the Boardello of Fanfic:

Author Note: This chapter also is heavy on Carl, and I still used that box of Kleenex when I wrote this, but the tear factor isn’t as bad as the last chapter. This is posted in two sections due to length. (I hope this posts okay. Every thing is moving really slow for me for some reason.)

Captive Hearts
Part 83

Carl opened the brown paper bag that contained his lunch and removed the contents. One ham and cheese sandwich. One individual bag of Ruffles, sour cream and chive flavor. One zip lock sandwich bag of baby carrots, which really weren’t baby carrots at all, but rather carrots just shaped to look like they were baby carrots. His hand reached into the bag again and pulled free a ripe yellow banana, which he peeled quickly and began to eat.

It had been a quiet week and though Carl was pleased when crimes against children took a downturn, it also meant he spent more time in the station house, in the squad room, and as the week progressed, he found himself glancing more and more at the desk over against the far wall. The desk that sat empty and waiting.

He’d worked with several partners over the years, but he’d never taken to one quite the way he’d taken to Max. There was something about the man that he had instantly trusted, empathized with, related to. If asked to, Carl wouldn’t have been able to put his finger on what it was. Max didn’t talk much. He didn’t laugh much. He didn’t tell dirty jokes and usually looked embarrassed when he heard one. He was old beyond his years, yet still young and innocent. Carl missed his presence. The atmosphere seemed somehow empty without him here. He was looking forward to Monday, when he returned and everything would get back to normal.

Finishing the banana, he dropped the peel in the empty paper bag and unwrapped the sandwich. His lunch certainly wasn’t very exciting, but he supposed it was more nutritious than a greasy burger and fries. Of course, it couldn’t compare to the scrumptious meal he’d had with Rachel last week when she’d dropped by to visit. He couldn’t even remember what he’d had. In fact, he couldn’t even be sure he ate anything at all. He’d been too busy watching Rachel and listening to the sound of her voice.

Glancing at the clock above the squad room door, he wondered if she was sitting at her desk right now eating her lunch too. His hand reached for the phone of its own accord, and he punched in the numbers he had committed to memory months ago. On the second ring, the sound of her voice flowed into his ear, and he said, “Hi Rachel. This is-”

“Hi Carl,” she said with a familiarity that warmed him inside. He could almost believe he could see the smile in her voice.

“I thought I might catch you at lunch.” His voice was soft as he toyed with a pencil on his desk.

“You did,” she looked at the food spread out around her. A turkey sandwich. A bag of chips, jalapeno, because they were spicy. A banana because they were healthy, and she liked them. She was trying to eat a light lunch, so she could enjoy a nice meal with him this evening.

“Are we still on for tonight?” he asked hopefully. “Does Mother Nature plan on knocking down any doors tonight?” He heard her laugh on the other end and his face broke into a smile of his own.

“No impending stork visits tonight,” she was happy to inform him. “At least, none that I am aware of. Yet.”

“Yet? It sounds like you’re hedging your bets.”

“When it comes to Mother Nature,” Rachel laughed, “nothing is ever a sure bet, but I don’t think we’ll have any interruptions tonight.”

“Well good,” Carl smiled, picturing her green eyes in his mind. Feeling suddenly nervous, he fidgeted with the bag of chips on his desk, idly crushing one potato chip and then another beneath his thumb without realizing it, until one snapped and shot into the air and hit him on the forehead. Brushing the crumbs aside, he said, “Um . . . about tonight . . . dress casually.”

“Okay,” Rachel tucked a strand of long hair behind her ear. She wondered where he was going to take her tonight. He seemed to know the best places in town, with the best food and the nicest people, but she had a feeling he’d eaten in most of them alone. The waiters and waitresses all seemed to know him, and they usually seemed rather surprised to see him with a date.

“Well, I know this quiet little place where you can get some authentic Mexican food,” Carl told her.

“Real Mexican food?” Rachel asked. She liked hot and spicy food, the spicier the better. “The good stuff?”

“I think so, but I’ll have to let you decide that,” he answered.

“Where?” she asked, intrigued by the sound of his voice. Was it eagerness? Enthusiasm? Was there a note of nervous anticipation in it?

He held his breath for a moment and then slowly, hesitantly, he said, “My place.” He leaned forward in his chair, waiting for her reaction.

After a pregnant pause, she said, “I didn’t know you could cook, Carl.” She’d never been to his place before.

“I’ve been alone for a long time, Rachel.” He couldn’t quite hide the melancholy tone in his voice. “It was a choice between going broke eating out all the time, or starving, or learning to cook.” Even as he tried to joke about it, she could feel how lonely these past years had been for him.

“I love authentic Mexican food,” she said, thinking she could love a dark hair man with a crooked nose who knew how to make authentic Mexican food.

“I’ll pick you up at 7:00?” he asked, feeling a sense of relief. She hadn’t seemed averse to spending a quiet Friday evening alone, just the two of them, instead of going to a nice restaurant.

“S – 6:00 would be even better,” she suggested. She felt the heat rise in her body and she smiled at her near Freudian slip. She’d almost said sex, instead of six.

“6:00 o’clock it is. I’ll see you tonight, Rachel.”

“I’ll be waiting.”

* * * * *

Max was about to lose his mind. How had he gotten himself into this mess? He was standing in the middle of the kitchen without a clue of what to do. The buzzer was going off, filling the room with its insistent racket. The pot on the stove was hissing and boiling over and steam was filling the air. The bread in the oven was burning and the smell was overpowering. To add to the confusion, the phone had started ringing off the hook.

And then there was Matthew. Matthew was screaming in his ear. Max was holding him up to his shoulder and patting him on the back as he paced back and forth across the kitchen floor, but Matthew was hungry and Daddy just didn’t have the right equipment. Max stopped in mid-pace and looked toward the heavens, shouting in his mind, ‘LIZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!’

Moving once again, Max crossed the floor to gently lay Matthew down in the baby seat that was sitting in the middle of the table, knowing he’d be safe there until he could take care of the disaster on the stove. But Matthew didn’t like that and cried even louder, feeling the sudden loss of his father’s warmth. Max fumbled at the timer on the stove, trying to remember how Liz said to turn it off. Every time he thought he’d done it successfully, a minute later the damn thing would go off again.

With the buzz of the timer finally silent, Max reached for the overflowing pot on the stove. He lifted the lid just as Matthew distracted him with another plaintive wail and a column of steam rose up to burn the inside of his arm. He dropped the lid with a loud clatter and hissed, “Damnit!”

Abandoning the overflowing pot, he healed his arm with a wave of his hand while he raced back to Matthew and picked him up from the baby seat. He quieted for a moment as he chewed on Max’s neck and when he couldn’t get any milk out of it he started crying in Max’s ear again. Just then, the phone resumed its incessant ringing and to add insult to injury, the damn timer on the stove made an encore presentation.

Why, God, why? Max wondered, feeling overwhelmed. Why did he agree to let Liz go to the store? She said she needed to get out of the house for a few minutes. She said she’d been cooped up all week and needed to breathe some fresh air. She said it was his turn to make lunch and don’t even think about weaseling out of it.

He should have been a man and fought her for the keys, grabbed the grocery list and made a run for it.

Max hurried into the living room and looked out the front window trying to see if she was coming yet. Damn. The street in front of the house was empty. Where was she? He was never going to let her leave the house again. Not until Matthew was 18. Maybe 19. He tried to give him his pacifier to quiet him down and it worked for a minute and then he spit it out and started crying again.

Just when Max was sure he was never going to recover from this most traumatic and longest half hour of his life, he saw his wife’s car pull onto their street. Suddenly, his eyes flew wide like a dear caught in the headlights and he uttered, “Oh shit!”

He raced back into the kitchen and waved his hand over the front panel of the stove and the incessant jangling of the timer silenced. In fact, he made the timer disappear. With another wave of his hand he turned the hot burner on the stovetop cold, and the contents of the overflowing pan went to join the missing timer in never never land. Still trying to comfort a hungry baby, he opened the oven and removed the burnt bread and dumped it in the garbage and then waved his hand around wildly to remove the stench from the air. Just as he heard her key in the front lock, Max stuffed the pacifier back in Matthew’s mouth.

Taking a deep breath, he whirled around and smiled at Liz as she came into the kitchen carrying a bag of groceries. “Hi!” he said a little too loudly and then covered it by saying, “Did you enjoy your outing to the store?”

“Yes, but . . .” she frowned as she looked around the kitchen. She put the bag on the table and said, “Max, I-”

“Matthew’s hungry,” he cut her off. He crossed the room quickly and held the baby out to her, saying a little too eagerly, “Here you go. He’s all yours.”

“Hungry? Already?” Liz took her son, shaking her head at how hard he was chomping on the pacifier. He shouldn’t need a feeding for at least another hour.

“Well, he’s a growing boy, Liz,” Max stood there with his hands on his hips. He was starting to frown too, wondering why Matthew seemed perfectly happy with his pacifier now, when five minutes ago he was spitting it across the room. He raised his hand to scratch his neck and came away drenched in baby drool.

“I don’t know, Max,” Liz rocked the baby in her arms. “He doesn’t seem that hungry to me.”

Huh? Not hungry? But he was trying to eat me, Max thought as he wiped the drool on his pant leg. The boy was ravenous, gumming his neck like there was no tomorrow.

“Speaking of hungry,” Liz swept her eyes around the pristine kitchen and then drilled Max with a look. “Weren’t you going to make lunch?”

His mouth opened and shut in quick succession while he tried to make his brain work. Lunch? How could he explain to her what happened to lunch when Matthew was contentedly sucking away on his pacifier and not making a peep?

With his hands on his hips again, Max declared, “Get the diaper bag. We’re going out to eat.”

Be right back with the rest . . .

posted on 13-May-2002 12:26:52 AM by Breathless
Captive Hearts
Part 83 con’t

While Carl hung her jacket in the hall closet, Rachel wandered into the living room, taking in all the furnishings. He had picked her up at 6:00 on the dot and she was seeing the inside of his apartment for the very first time. She noted the black leather couch and matching side chair, the chrome and glass coffee and end tables, the floor lamp with the brass base and white shade and a black lacquered bookcase that only added to the darkness of the room.

She could also see a splash of color here and there. A needlepoint pillow in vibrant yellow and green and blue rested against an arm of the couch. Across the back an afghan draped, diligently crocheted by a pair of loving hands. An eclectic array of books filled the bookcase, Zane Grey westerns stacked beside Cartland and Holt romance novels. Classics of Austen and Bronte beside the popular fiction of Grisham and Clancy. Rachel noted the one glaring exception. Not a sci-fi book in the bunch. No Arthur C. Clarke. No Robert Heinlein. No Asimov or Bradbury or H. G. Wells.

Her eyes were drawn to a nearby photograph in a silver frame. An 8 x 10 of a smiling couple, he in a black suit and tie, she in a dress of white lace and satin. A wedding picture of a radiantly happy couple. Her fingers touched the edge of the frame and then she felt Carl come up behind her and she pulled her hand away quickly.

“That’s Michelle and me,” he said a little awkwardly. “On our, well that’s kind of obvious.”

“You’re wedding day,” Rachel looked over her shoulder at him.

“Yeah,” he answered with a small smile.

Looking back at the picture, Rachel said, “She’s very pretty.”

“Yes,” Carl said wistfully. “She was.”

“You were pretty handsome yourself,” Rachel smiled at him.

Carl raised his eyebrows and scoffed, “Broken nose and all?”

“Especially broken nose and all,” Rachel laughed. She lifted her hand up to his cheek and her eyes smiled as she said, “It gives you character.”

His hand slowly rose to cover hers and then curling his fingers around it, he pulled it away and said, “C’mon. I’ll show you the kitchen.” His hand held hers as he led the way and as she passed by the back of the couch she brushed against the afghan. An image flashed across her mind and she came to a sudden stop, nearly overpowered by the intensity of it.

Carl walked into the living room carrying his burden with infinite care and tenderness. He set her gently on the couch and then tucked the afghan around her to make sure she would be warm. He put the phone near her so she would have it handy if she needed it and then added the remote control in case she wanted to watch a little TV. Before she had a chance to even ask for it, Carl was reaching for the latest hardback novel she was reading. He grabbed it from the coffee table and set it close so she wouldn’t have to reach for it. Taking her hand gently in his, he lingered on, not wanting to leave.

“You’re going to be late, Carl.”

“Michelle, I’ve got leave time coming. I don’t like leaving you here alone-”

“Carl, we talked about this. Barbara will be here in a couple of hours. I’ll be fine.”


“You have work to do. Important work. Besides, how will I ever finish reading my book if you’re hovering around me all the time?”

“Are you saying you want to get rid of me?” A smile broke over his face and softened his hard features.

“Yes,” she laughed, “but I want you back at the end of the day.”

“Call me,” his smile faded. “If you need anything, just call me.”

“I will.” Their hands clung together and then Carl leaned forward and pressed his lips to her cheek before forcing himself away from her.

The flash shifted and Rachel saw Carl sitting on the couch, alone, leaning forward with his hands clasped between his knees. His eyes fell on the book, sitting abandoned on the coffee table, with a bookmark three-quarters of the way through, marking the pages she never got a chance to read. His hand reached for it and then fell short and his shimmering eyes looked around the silent room, wondering what he was supposed to do now.

His tense body leaned backwards on the couch and he rubbed at his eyes before raking his fingers back through his hair. His hand came into contact with the afghan and his fingers slipped between the crocheted loops. She’d made this, for him. A Christmas present, their first year together, even though she was the one who was always cold, not him. She’d mirrored the colors of the setting sun, shades of yellows blending into oranges and reds and then the midnight blue of the night sky. He pulled it off the back of the couch, bunching it between his hands and then he buried his face within the fibers, breathing in the scent that still lingered even though she was gone, and the silence of the room gave way to the tumult of a grieving man.

“Rachel?” Carl asked, looking at her with concern. “Is something wrong?”

Shaking herself out of the vision, it took her a moment to find her voice. “No,” she smiled shakily, “I’m fine.” He looked at her for a moment longer and then squeezing her hand slightly he resumed his trek toward the kitchen. She followed along behind him with her head down, trying to recover from the images, from the emotions embedded in the things around him. Michelle might have been gone for more than ten years now, but his love for her still remained. It lived within these walls, within the objects they had shared. Could she ever compete with that?

As they stepped over the threshold into the kitchen, Rachel noticed this room was just as stark as the living room. It was as if when Michelle died, all the life had been sucked from the air leaving nothing but emptiness behind. Outwardly, that’s how it appeared, empty and cold, but she had the power to see more than what was on the outside. Inside, this room, this home, was filled with Michelle’s memory.

Her eyes swept from one end of the room to the other, and then she saw it. The bright spot of color in a monochrome room. The daisies filled a vase on the table and a grin spread over Carl’s face when he saw the way her eyes lit up. Rachel crossed over to the table and touched her finger to a velvety petal and once more an image came to her unbidden.

“It has to be just right,” Carl said as he looked around the flower shop.

“A woman always loves roses,” the florist recommended.

“No,” Carl shook his head. “I’m sure she’d love roses, but . . .”

“They don’t quite give the message you’re trying to convey?”

“I don’t know what . . .” and then Carl focused on the splash of yellow across the room. “Those!”

“Oh, yes,” the florist smiled. “Daisies. Fresh and bright.”

“Like a ray of sunshine . . .” Carl smiled as he looked down on them. Just like her.

Rachel pulled her hand back from the flower and then looked at Carl with her breath shallow and uneven. Her doubts of a few minutes ago were swept away by the intensity of the emotions she had felt in the vision. In that moment, she knew she wouldn’t have to compete with the love he had for Michelle. He had more than enough to go around.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Carl asked with a slightly puzzled look on his face. He’d never seen her like this before.

“Yeah,” she smiled.

“Do you like ‘em,” he asked, indicating the flowers.

She nodded her head and then with her face lit from within, she said, “They’re my favorite.”

* * * * *

Rachel lifted the napkin from the table and dabbed it at her lips, wiped her hands and then laid it next to her plate as she leaned back in her chair. “That was one of the best meals I’ve ever had, Carl,” she smiled. “You’re a wonderful cook.”

“I’m glad you liked it,” he beamed and the smile on his face transformed his features into something softer than his normal rough appearance. She thought he looked ruggedly handsome with his deep set eyes and his strong, square chin and his thick muscular neck.

The world saw his exterior as harsh and worn by what life had thrown at him, but Rachel could see the caliber of the real man underneath. She’d seen it in the way he’d instantly taken Max under his wing immediately after they met. She’d seen it in the way his eyes looked when he talked about the people that he loved, like Michelle and his mother and his first partner on the force, God rest their souls. She’d seen it on the six o’clock news, the way he’d held little Cindy Morgan as if she were a delicate piece of glass. The children could see past the rough exterior to the gentle man underneath, and so could she.

Carl rose to his feet and began to clear the table and Rachel followed suit. She silently padded along behind him as he made his way across the kitchen and placed the dishes in the sink and when he turned around, he almost knocked her right over.

“Oh God, Rachel!” he reached out to steady her. “I didn’t know you were there!” His found himself holding her around the waist, just the way he had been craving to do all evening and she tightened her grip on the glasses she was holding so they wouldn’t slip and shatter on the floor.

“Sorry,” she said with her eyes focused on his lips. His full, lush, sensual lips. They slowly came together, like magnets drawn to each other, and his lips met hers, kissing her the way he’d been dying to ever since they first arrived at his apartment. She groped blindly for the countertop trying to set down the leaded crystal drinking glasses so she could free her hands and they clinked together. She heard one topple sideways on the counter and Rachel tried to pull away from Carl to see if it was broken.

“Nevermind,” Carl mumbled against her lips as he squeezed her closer.

“It might be broken-” she tried to explain and his lips cut her off.

“It doesn’t matter,” he said and then kissed her even harder. He heard a moan deep in her throat and he pulled back, reminding himself of his resolve to take things slowly.

But he wanted her so badly, and taking things slow seemed so . . . slow.

“Are you hungry?” he managed to ask and her green eyes turned dark. Swallowing hard, he asked, “Do you want some dessert?”

“No,” she shook her head. “Not right now. Maybe later.”

“Later?” he echoed and he watched her nod her head. Could she possible be hungry for the same thing he was hungry for? No, he chided himself. She must mean dessert. “I, uh . . . rented a couple of DVD’s. Scream 5 and Voices from the Dark. You said you liked-”

“I do,” she told him. The scarier the movie, the more she’d get to snuggle with him. But then again, she didn’t think she needed an excuse anymore. Not after the way he’d just been kissing her.

“It’s this way,” Carl reached for her hand and led her into the living room again. The dirty dishes in the sink were the farthest things from their minds.

Carl picked a movie, he didn’t even know which one, and inserted it into the DVD player before joining Rachel on the couch. The leather was soft and as he sank down onto the cushion he could feel the way Rachel leaned in toward him. He pushed the play button on the remote and then reached to set it down on the coffee table.

Rachel’s hand covered his, taking the remote from him, and she pressed the stop button. Meeting his questioning eyes, she said, “Let’s talk instead.”

“What do you want to talk about?” Carl asked, feeling like he was about to hyperventilate.

“This . . .” she said, cupping his face with her hand and leaning in toward him. Their lips came together, softly, gently at first, and then more heatedly as Carl let go of his earlier resolve. His arms surrounded her, crushing her to him as he let his passion flare. It’d been so long, so very, very long since he had let himself feel.

He pressed her back into the cushions of the couch with his mouth on hers, only coming up for air when he had to and then going right back in for more. He could feel her hands roaming over his back, feel her soft body against his and he wanted so much. Her. This. The two of them. To feel alive again.

Rachel pushed away from him and Carl filled with sudden dread, thinking that she was leaving, that she didn’t want this, that she didn’t want him. She pressed her hands against his chest while he looked at her with deep longing and she said hesitantly, “Is . . . isn’t there someplace more comfortable we could go?”

He swallowed hard as he stared at her and then he slowly nodded his head. He couldn’t speak. He’d forgotten how. His voice had decided to take a vacation. He watched her as she rose to her feet and then he realized his body had forgotten how to move. He was frozen in place, just staring up at her. Her hand reached for his and pulled him to his feet and they stood face to face with only a cushion of air between them. He wasn’t sure if he was breathing rapidly or barely breathing at all and when he found his voice he stumbled over his words.

“Rachel, I . . . are you . . . it’s been . . .”

She cut his words off with a lingering kiss and when they parted she asked softly, “It’s been what, Carl?”

“It’s been . . . so long,” he murmured, admitting his fears. “I don’t want . . . to disappoint you.”

“How long, Carl?” she asked gently, leaning in for another kiss.

When their lips parted she could see both the loneliness and the desire in his eyes. He drew in a breath and then said, “Not since . . . it’s been . . . over ten years.”

The realization hit and the truth of it stunned her. “You haven’t been with . . . with anyone? Since Michelle died?”

“No,” Carl shook his head. “I . . . couldn’t. I mean I could, but . . .” His eyes dropped from hers briefly and he licked at his suddenly dry lips. As their eyes locked again, she could see the depth of his pain. “When she died, I just, I couldn’t be with anyone else.”

“Do you still feel that way, Carl?” she asked softly.

“No,” Carl looked deeply into her captivating eyes. “I want to be with you, Rachel. I want to touch you. I want to feel you touching me. I want to make love to you.”

“I want that too, Carl,” she smiled, feeling her heart racing faster.

He slipped his hand into hers and after a brief hesitation, he turned to lead her down the hallway to his bedroom. He hesitated again when he reached the door and Rachel leaned close, encouraging him to say what was obviously on his mind.

“I might not be . . .” What? Good enough? He might not be able to satisfy her? It might be over for him before she ever got a chance to start? It’d been so long since he’d touched a woman.

“We’ve got all night, Carl, and I’m not going anywhere.” It was a bold thing for her to say, telling him she was spending the night when he hadn’t asked her to, but she could feel it in him and knew that was the way he wanted it. Someday, maybe soon, she’d be able to tell him the whole truth and be able to open up her mind to him and not just her body. Until then, she’d happily settle for the human way, just as long as she could be with him.

As Carl opened his bedroom door, he opened a new chapter in the story of his life.

As always, look for Part 84 next Sunday

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 13-May-2002 1:13:41 AM ]
posted on 20-May-2002 1:10:11 AM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17

Here’s the link to parts 1 to 59:

I checked the link yesterday and it seems to be working fine for me. If anybody is having trouble, please let me know.

Author note: Carol, I know you have mentioned a couple of times that you would like to see this story updated more than once a week, but it just doesn’t like to move that fast! As we get down to the end, the frequency of posting will probably pick up.

Well, I’ve been tweaking this part all day and I’m not completely satisfied, but if I don’t quit messing with it, it will probably drive me crazy, so, let’s get to it. On with the story . . .

Captive Hearts
Part 84

Max stood silently in the bathroom doorway watching Liz as she nursed Matthew. She was sitting in the oversized rocking chair that until a week ago had sat as silent sentry in Matthew’s room, but now stood guard next to the small cradle he slept in near his parent’s bed. Soon, they would move him into his own room, but for now neither Max nor Liz wanted Matthew out of sight.

Watching his wife and his son, Max’s heart swelled with the love he felt for them. Liz looked radiant holding him in her arms like this. Her face always glowed when Matthew suckled at her breast and the contented cooing sounds he made brought a smile of such beauty to her lips it left Max short of breath.

Not wanting to disturb such an intimate moment between mother and child, Max quietly withdrew to the bathroom. He placed his clean change of clothes on a shelf by the towels and quickly stripped out of his dirty ones. Crossing to the shower, he turned on the water and adjusted the temperature before stepping under the spray. He let the water soak into his skin, closing his eyes as the warmth penetrated into his muscles and relaxed him. It’d been an eventful week, with Matthew’s birth and then everyone from Roswell coming to see him. Now, hopefully their lives could settle back down into some semblance of normalcy.

Max was humming softly as he stepped out of the shower, content and relaxed at the end of another amazing day. Yes, he’d had his trying moments, namely the calamity when Liz had gone to the store and left him alone with Matthew, but he survived it and he even laughed about it later. Especially when Liz was cooking dinner and couldn’t find the timer on the stove.

Drying himself on the oversized towel, he barely noticed the feel of the soft cotton against his skin. He was too wrapped up in thoughts of returning to the bedroom to be near Liz and to gaze upon his son. Every moment that he spent with them was precious to him, and every minute they spent apart was time lost that he could never regain.

He tossed the towel aside and with an agile grace he crossed the bathroom to retrieve his change of clothes. He slipped a pair of shorts up over his well muscled thighs and then snapped the waistband as the shorts settled into place comfortably on his hips. He slipped an undershirt over his head and then smoothed out his hair so it would dry without sticking out all over, and then headed back into the bedroom.

Stepping through the doorway, he could see Liz with her head bowed over Matthew, watching him sleep. Max thought it was a beautiful sight, one that he knew he would have to draw, until he heard the muted sob escape from her throat. He hurried into the room and knelt in front of her, placing his fingers gently under her chin and raising upwards until he could see her face. Her cheeks were wet with freshly spilled tears and Max felt his stomach twist in a knot. He hated to see Liz unhappy, and to see her cry was almost more that he could take.

“Honey, what’s the matter?” he asked softly. He could see that Matthew was sleeping peacefully, cradled lovingly in her arms and Max felt a rush of relief that there was nothing wrong with him. It wasn’t Matthew that was making her cry.

Liz tried to look away but Max wouldn’t let her. She always tried to shield her from things that were bothering her, thinking he had enough burdens to bear without her adding to them. She tried to stay positive around him, but sometimes it was so hard.

“Liz,” Max said soothingly but insistently. “Tell me what’s wrong.”

“It’s . . .” Liz started to speak and as her voice hitched she had to bite at her trembling lip before she could continue. Feeling Max wipe the tears off her cheek with his thumb was comforting, yet at the same time it made her feel like crying all the more. Max was beginning to wonder if this was just a case of the postpartum blues Rachel had warned him about, until she spoke and her words chilled him deep inside.

“I . . . I miss her, Max,” and fresh tears spilled down her cheeks. “I miss her so much.”

“Liz . . .” Max drew her close. Her face pressed into his chest and her tears soon soaked through his undershirt. His fingers stroked through her hair trying to comfort her but knowing only one thing could help her. She needed Ellie. To see her again. To touch her. To hold her in her arms. Matthew was perfect in every way, but he could never be a replacement for Ellie.

“Shhhh,” Max tried to calm her. Matthew still slept quietly in her arms, but it was only a matter of time until her sobs would wake him and his cries would join hers. Max had one option to try, and he knew it was a risk. If it didn’t work, it could make things even worse, but to see her like this was breaking his heart. “Liz,” he began hesitantly. “I’ve been thinking . . .”

“About?” her voice was muffled against his chest.

“About Ellie,” and he felt Liz stiffen at the mention of their daughter’s name. “And you and me and our connection,” Max hurried on. “I’ve been thinking about something that happened . . .”

“Happened?” Liz pulled her head back and Max could see her eyes, big and round, full of tears just waiting to be shed. “What are you talking about?”

“What if your dreamwalking isn’t limited to just when you’re pregnant?” Max suggested.

“What?” Liz shook her head, not understanding.

“Liz,” Max cupped her cheek and looked into the dark depths of her eyes. “Remember . . .” he began to say and then paused, hating to let the memory of that time resurface. “Remember when we were . . . in that place . . .”

They didn’t talk about it, about those weeks and months they had been held in the institute against their will. They had tried to move on with their lives, past all that pain, yet both of them lived with the memories of it every day.

“I remember,” Liz said softly and her eyes dropped away from his.

“We shared dreams there, Liz, remember?” Max tried to focus her thoughts so she wouldn’t think about the other things that happened there. “We didn’t know it at the time, but right from the beginning, we shared that dream where we almost escaped-”

“and you got shot,” Liz met his eyes again.

Yes,” Max nodded. The look in his eyes softened as he added, “And I remember one particularly good dream that involved a birthday cake.”

“Yes,” Liz smiled. “That was a good dream.”

“A very good dream,” he smiled. “But the point is,” Max became more serious again, “those dreams happened long before we made love, long before you got pregnant. Liz,” he stared at her intently, “I think our ability to share those dreams came from something within you.”

“No, Max,” Liz shook her head in disbelief. “How can that be?”

“Maybe I changed you, when I healed you,” he said and gently cupped her cheek with his hand. “There haven’t been many healers among my kind and we don’t really know the ramifications of it. Maybe I left a part of me inside you that day that linked us together. I don’t know the answer, but I do know we’re connected, and always have been.”

“Do you really think . . .” Liz was almost afraid to say it.

“You were pregnant for weeks before Josh told you how to dreamwalk. The ability was there all that time, but you didn’t know it, so you never tried it. What if that ability is still there, but hasn’t surfaced because you think it isn’t there?”

“Do you really think so?” Liz asked in a hushed voice, afraid to get her hopes up.

“When you were in labor, remember how we met Ellie and took her to the beach?” he asked.

“Yes,” she nodded and her chin trembled at the memory of their last time together.

“I’ve been thinking about that a lot this past week,” Max brushed his fingers lightly over her quivering chin. “It was different than all the other times. Liz, we weren’t even asleep when we connected that time.”

“What do you mean?” Liz blinked, and a residual tear fell onto her cheek.

“Ellie has always come to us in our dreams,” Max tried to explain, “but the night you were in labor, even though you would rest between contractions and maybe even doze off a little, you weren’t in deep sleep, not like REM sleep, and I was wide awake. You were concentrating so hard during your contractions-”

“And I was focused on Pegasus, about flying away with Ellie,” Liz interrupted.

“Right,” Max nodded, “and then after the contraction-”

“My mind was just kind of floating, resting before the next one,” she thought back to that night.

“Exactly,” Max smiled. “You kind of let your mind blank out between the contractions and Ellie found a way in. And then I put my fingers on your temples and connected to you the way we do sometimes and I was able to join both of you.”

“I just thought it was because of the pregnancy,” Liz looked at him wide-eyed.

“Maybe it was, maybe not,” Max suggested. “But think about it. We know we shared dreams long before you were pregnant. We know we dreamwalked with Ellie and you and I weren’t even sleeping, though she probably was. I just think that there’s something more there, Liz, a connection between us that goes deeper.”

“Do you really think . . .?” Liz felt a surge of hope.

“I don’t know, but I just keep thinking that our connection is the key. If you let your mind blank out and let me connect our minds together, maybe when Ellie reaches out to me, maybe we’ll all be there together.” Glancing at the clock on the nightstand, he added, “It’s close to the time we usually join Ellie in the dreams. Do you want to-”

“Of course I want to try!” Liz exclaimed before he could finish the sentence.

“Good,” he smiled, hoping this wouldn’t end in disappointment for her. He rose to his feet and pulled Liz out of the rocking chair, hoping and praying that in a few minutes, Liz would once more be linked to their daughter. Max led her over to the bed knowing they should mimic the same actions they’d gone through a week ago when Liz was in labor and they’d entered their dreamworld when they weren’t even asleep. He climbed onto the bed and pulled Liz down until she was nestled comfortably between his legs with her back against his chest. She let her weight lean against him, while holding Matthew, still quietly sleeping in her arms. He was a part of this too, this special bond their family of four shared.

“Just close your eyes and relax,” Max whispered in her ear. His hands soothingly slid up and down her arms and then up along her shoulders, trying to ease away her tension. Her nightgown was cool and silky under his palms and her skin felt just as soft as he let his hands glide up the sides of her throat. He could feel her pulse racing there, and he whispered to her again, “Relax, Liz. Just let your mind blank out, like we’ve done a hundred times before. Relax, so we can connect, just you and me, and then we’ll see where it takes us . . .”

He moved his hands back to her shoulders so that he could kiss the sweet skin on her throat. She felt warm and soft under his lips and he could hear her audible sigh as he kissed a trail up her neck. She turned back to him, raising her lips up to meet his and they kissed tenderly while Matthew, content in his mother’s arms, slept on. Sensing she had calmed, Max gently parted his lips from hers and as her eyes slowly opened and their gaze met, he quietly asked, “Are you ready now?”

Liz nodded and a look settled over her face that was full of trust, and hope, and faith. Max didn’t know if he was worthy of that look, of the trust she placed in him, or the faith she had in him, but the hope he saw in her eyes was something they could both cling to. He still had Ellie in his dreams, but without Liz there too, their world was incomplete. Ellie and Max needed Liz with them every bit as much as Liz needed to be there. None of them would feel whole until they were together again, even if they had to settle for only dreams.

“Close your eyes, Liz,” Max said softly, “and open up your mind.” She kissed him once more and then turned her face forward, away from him. His hands lifted from her shoulders and he touched her temples with his fingertips. “Think of the meadow, Liz,” he whispered gently. His own eyes closed and his forehead pressed against the back of her head. “Just let your mind relax and think about how peaceful the meadow is, when the sun is filtering through the branches of the trees, and the grass is blowing gently, rippling all around us. Ellie loves it there. She says it’s our meadow and we’re going to live there forever. Think of our meadow, Liz. Reach for it with your mind and I’ll join you there . . .”

Liz floated in the void, somewhere between reality and the world of dreams. She could hear Max’s voice, soft and rhythmic as it hovered in the background and then the world slowly came into focus. Max’s voice was joined by the soft babble of their stream as it carved its way through their dream paradise. The branches of the trees creaked as they moved in the gentle breeze and a butterfly floated past her, just out of reach.

She found herself sitting on the bank of their stream with her skirt up around her knees and the water flowing cool and wet around her ankles. It only took a moment for her to sense Max next to her and then she could feel his arms wrapping around her in a warm embrace.

“Liz!” he nearly shouted with excitement. “It worked! You’re here.”

“We’re here!” her voice filled with joy. Looking around the stream and the nearby landscape, she added, “I’ve missed this so much. It feels like home here.”

“It does,” he agreed. He’d known it for a long time, that the time spent in this dream world was in some ways more real than the waking world. He could see Liz looking around and he knew she was searching for Ellie. If they could just stay together here, and give Ellie a chance to join them, then their world would be complete.

“It’s so beautiful here, Max,” Liz said softly and leaned her head against his shoulder. “So peaceful.”

“It is,” Max sighed. The only things missing were their children. It was wonderful to be here with Liz, just the two of them in this quiet world, but as special as their time was here, his soul craved to have Ellie and Matthew with them as well. His family would never be complete until the four of them were united. As soon as the thought formed, Max could feel a change in the air. His eyes widened as the space in front of him wavered and a weight began to settle in his arms as Matthew began to take solid form. Their son was joining them.

“Max . . .” Liz beamed as she looked at the swaddled baby in his arms.

Matthew was squirming with life as he gazed up at his parents and Max exclaimed, “Now don’t tell me that’s not a smile!”

“You’re right, Max,” Liz laughed. “That’s definitely a smile.”

“Hey Buddy,” Max gushed as he bent over his son. Little fingers reached up and poked at his face, touching his nose and pulling at his lower lip. Max laughed softly, pulling the tiny fingers from his mouth and holding his small hand within his much larger one. Matthew gurgled and cooed, kicking his legs excitedly as he took in his new surroundings.

Liz was smiling from ear to ear, watching Max interact with his son. She’d always known he would be a good father, but to see him in action filled her with the deepest love. She’d first seen it with how he acted with Ellie in this dreamworld they somehow shared. As a husband and a man, she thought Max was special. As a father, she thought there weren’t enough words to describe how exceptional he really was. Holding Matthew in his arms, the evidence was there for all to see. It was tragic the way the world had never seen him with Ellie, or seen the way their love for one another created magic all around them.

They smiled down at Matthew and Liz circled her arm around Max’s back, rubbing her hand lightly up and down his relaxed muscles. The afternoon was warm with a light breeze blowing through the grass and at first she didn’t hear the small footsteps behind her. Ellie had treaded across the meadow silently, afraid that if she made a noise, her mommy might disappear. Mommy wasn’t supposed to be here, unless . . . maybe daddy had given her another baby after all.

If she was really quiet, and just stood here, then she could see mommy, and hear mommy’s voice, and if she was really, really quiet and didn’t make a single bit of noise, maybe mommy would be able to stay. But Ellie was just a child, and her elation at seeing her mother just couldn’t be contained. In a small voice, just barely above a whisper, Ellie said, “Mommy?”

Liz froze with the smile on her lips disappearing and her hand on Max’s back suddenly stiff and unmoving. She’d heard a sound, a word she feared she might never hear again uttered by that sweet voice. She lifted her head from Max’s shoulder and closed her eyes, silently praying that it wasn’t just a figment from her imagination, or only the sound of the wind blowing through the trees. Biting her lower lip she slowly turned to look behind her and then the air rushed from her lungs at the sight before her. Ellie. Her dear, sweet Ellie, standing not twenty feet away.

For a minute she couldn’t move, wanting to laugh and cry at the same time and Max silently watched them, feeling an immense sense of relief. He hadn’t been sure this would work, and he’d worried that failure might even deepen Liz’s despair. But it had worked, and now they were all together, in this place they all called home.

“Ellie,” Liz’s voice caught as she said the name. She raised her hand to her mouth to hold back a cry and her eyes filled with sudden tears. Joyous tears.

Ellie stood stock still, telling herself not to move so mommy wouldn’t disappear. She was the real mommy, not the pretend mommy daddy had made for her before he gave her Matthew to carry in her tummy.

“Ellie,” Liz cried out and she scrambled up from the bank of the stream. Her bare feet flew through the grass and she fell to her knees in front of her daughter, wrapping her arms around her with tears streaming down her face. “Ellie, you’re here.”

“Mommy,” Ellie cried as well. She threw her little arms around her mother’s neck and she held on so she wouldn’t disappear. In a stuttered voice, she said against Liz’s ear, “You came back.”

“Yes, Baby,” Liz held her tightly in her arms. “I came back. I was so sad without you, but Daddy found a way to bring me back.”

“Do you hab to leeb again?” Ellie asked fearfully and Liz pulled back so she could look into her daughter’s face.

“No, Ellie, I don’t have to leave again.” She pulled Ellie tightly against her again and she turned back to look at Max. She smiled at him joyously as she said, “Daddy fixed it for us. We’ll always be together now. All of us.”

As always, look for the next part next Sunday.

posted on 27-May-2002 1:11:32 AM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17

Link to part 1 to 59:

Author note: I’m glad everyone seemed to like the last part. I knew that you would all feel a bit better once Liz was able to reconnect to Ellie. So, in the meantime, Carl and Rachel were getting to know each other a little better. Let's see how things went . . .

Captive Hearts
Part 85

Rachel awoke, slowly becoming aware that this morning was different than other mornings. She could feel his presence all around her and she smiled, knowing it was Carl’s arm that was draped across her, Carl’s hand that was cupped against her stomach, Carl’s warm breath on her shoulder. The heat of his chest against her back, the feel of his flat stomach pressed against her, brought back in vivid detail the night they had shared.

She lay perfectly still, not wanting to disturb him, content to feel the rhythmic rise and fall of his well muscled chest. Her small soft hand covered his large rough one, and she smiled as she thought back on last night. He’d expressed his anxiety, his certainty that he would be inadequate, but his fear of leaving her unsatisfied was unfounded. She’d never been more satisfied in her life. Just as she’d suspected, kissing wasn’t the only thing he was good at.

Their first time had been over quickly, just as he had feared, but the emotion she had felt in him had satisfied her on a level above the physical. Their second time had begun slowly, with each of them savoring the feel of the other, and then escalated into an intensely satisfying conclusion. Their third time . . . she could only imagine what their third time would be like. She was eager to find out.

“Morning,” he said gently next to her ear, breaking the silence in the room. For the first time in more years than he wanted to count, his morning wasn’t going to start with him being alone. “Did you sleep well?”

“Ummm,” she sighed at the lyrical sound of his deep voice. “You?” she asked, and turned her face toward him.

“Best sleep I’ve had in years,” he stared into the rich green of her eyes. His lips were just inches from her lips and his hand rose up to her ribs, caressing the skin just below the swell of her breasts. He said huskily, “Everything about last night was special.”

“For me too,” she turned onto her back and her fingers raked through the dark hair on his chest. She liked the feel of that rough hair against her skin. She liked the feel of his hard muscles beneath that hair, too. For a man in his mid forties, she thought as her hand roamed over his chest, he certainly was in excellent physical condition. His finger begin to stroke the underside of her breast and she liked that too, and then his lips were on hers, stroking the fire that had been banked from last night and was now roaring back to life.

His touch was full of passion, his heated hands exploring her, touching her, exciting her. As his body pressed her down into the sheets, she was about to find out just how good the third time would be.

* * * * *

Max woke to the feel of soft silk against his cheek. He slowly became cognizant of his surroundings and through his closed lids he could sense the morning light spilling in from the window. He could hear the whisper of the air filling her lungs and then feel the soft puffs hitting the skin on the back of his neck as she slowly expelled it. With his head resting on her chest, her heart beat in a steady rhythm just below his ear and he could feel the delicate bones of her ribs below his open palm.

Waking up to her presence was the most comforting sensation he knew. It set the tone for his day, for his life, to wake with the warmth of her body radiating into his. They’d always slept this way, Max curled against her, or Liz tucked up against him. They gravitated toward each other in their sleep, and last night had been no exception.

He could feel his thigh in the space between her legs and her nightgown had ridden up during the night, letting their skin come into direct contact. Her thighs were flanking his. Her warm . . . soft . . . naked thighs touching his warm . . . hard . . . naked thighs. The key word being naked. Hard was quickly becoming a key word too. His hand slowly moved down from her ribs, over the soft rise of her stomach, and that’s when he remembered.

His eyes flew open and he felt a sudden sense of panic. Matthew! Where was Matthew? Matthew hadn’t woken him up this morning! What was wrong with Matthew? Oh God! He knew he’d been complaining about all the sleepless nights, but now that he had actually awakened to the absence of hungry baby cries, his mind went into a panic. What was wrong with the baby?

He bolted up in bed and leaned over Liz, looking into the cradle that sat just a couple of feet from her side of the bed. They moved Matthew close each night so that Liz could reach him easily and Max breathed a sigh of relief to see his peacefully sleeping face. His little arms stretched and then he settled down again and Max exhaled in relief. He was fine, just fine, just sleeping in on a Saturday morning, like a good little boy.

“Well, aren’t you the frisky one this morning,” Liz said beneath him.

Max whipped his head around to look into her amused eyes and then he realized what she was talking about. He was lying right on top of her. He’d literally thrown his body over hers so he could see into the cradle. Given the fact that he’d been highly turned on by her naked thighs at the time, he could see how she thought he was getting frisky. The evidence was poking into her.

“Liz,” he said in surprise. “When did you wake up?”

“Well, it’s kind of hard to sleep when my husband’s lying on top of me,” she tried not to laugh at the expression on his face.

“I was just checking on Matthew,” he stammered. He was slowly going nuts not being able to make love to her, but Rachel said they needed to wait a few weeks for her to recover, and he didn’t want Liz to think he was trying to do something kinky to her while she was sleeping. The fact that he was lying on top of her, hard as a rock, wasn’t making him look very good. “I . . . I . . .”

“This is how you check on Matthew?” Liz asked with a snort.

“No,” he started to stutter and then he felt her hands roaming over his back. Her fingers slid beneath the top band of his boxers and her hands cupped his ass. Her touch relaxed him and with a smile of his own, he said accusingly, “You’re teasing me now.”

“Am I?” she said suggestively.

“You know what Rachel said,” Max reminded her. “No sex. Even if it kills me.”

“Now Max,” Liz chided him. “That’s not exactly what she said.”

“It isn’t?” Max felt a surge of heat.

Liz pressed against his chest catching him off guard and she pushed him onto his back. She rolled with him and her hands, on his ass a moment ago, were now lifting his shirt to expose the expanse of his muscular stomach. She stared into his heated eyes and then slowly lowered her lips to those exquisite ridges. Her tongue darted over his sleek skin and Max, with his breath becoming more labored, said, “Liz? What are you doing?”

“You know, Max,” Liz lifted her lips from his stomach and he swallowed hard at the heated look she sent him. “There are different kinds of sex. She didn’t say we had to give up everything.”

“Oh.” That’s all he could force himself to say. Just ‘Oh’. He knew having a baby was physically and emotionally demanding for a woman, and he hadn’t wanted to ask anything of her, but he had missed their closeness. Their touches. Their physical intimacy. She could fulfill him in ways he never let himself dare to imagine all those years that he watched her from afar. Just the feel of her lips on his stomach right now was thrilling beyond words.

“Max,” she smiled, and slid her hand up the bare skin of his thigh. His breath caught in his throat at the contact and he knew she had no idea that this was how it all started. The feel of her bare thighs flanking his bare thigh had caused this whole situation to begin with. Her hand rose higher and then slid under the lower hem of his boxers, cupping his balls first and then rising up his incredibly hard length.

“Liz,” he managed to hiss as she stroked him for the first time in two long, torturous weeks.

“Lay back and relax,” she smiled sexily and then he groaned as she pulled her hand away. She tugged at the waistband of his shorts and he groaned again when he realized what her intention was. She peeled his shorts down his legs and noticed how he was standing firmly at attention, glistening with drops of excitement. She smiled and licked her lips and Max groaned again in carnal anticipation. His eyes fluttered closed as her hand once again cupped his balls and her mouth slowly kissed a line down his stomach, lower down his abdomen, down along the line of hair that drew her closer to her destination.

Max lay perfectly still, eyes still closed, waiting expectantly for her mouth to reach the one place he was silently begging for her to touch. Her hair brushed over his skin, tickling his stomach and his thighs and his groin, and a moan of intense pleasure escaped from his lips and filled the air around them. Her tongue darted out, licking at the drops his aroused body was leaking and she felt him shudder in pleasure when her lips closed around him. She knew just what he liked and just where he liked it. She took him into the depths of her mouth, once . . . twice . . . three times . . . and then life reared its ugly head.

Matthew woke up.

Liz pulled her mouth away from his engorged member, instantly switching into mother mode. Max was left highly aroused, and completely unsatisfied, and he stared at her with a combination of lust and frustration. She looked at him apologetically, and then to add insult to injury, she licked him once more before climbing off the bed to get their hungry son.

Max, gritting his teeth and aching with unreleased sexual desires, lay on the bed with his shorts around his knees while Liz scooped up Matthew and took him to his room to change him. Pushing away his lust filled thoughts, he rolled off the bed, let his shorts fall to the floor and headed into the bathroom for a cold shower.

* * * * *

Carl had just finished a nice warm relaxing shower and dressed quickly in dark jeans and a denim shirt before making his way out of the bedroom, drawn by the tantalizing smells coming from the front of the apartment. He stepped into the kitchen and for a moment he was stunned to silence by the sight before him. Rachel stood at the stove, cooking breakfast, wearing a shirt she’d borrowed from his closet. She’d rolled the long sleeves up to her elbows and the tails of the shirt hit her at mid thigh. Her trim legs and small feet were bare and the way her breasts moved below the fabric suggested she was bare under the shirt as well.

Sensing his presence, Rachel looked up and a smile greeted him. Her hair looked like she had raked her fingers through it, creating an untamed wildness that Carl found extremely arousing. “Are you hungry?” she asked. “I raided your refrigerator and thought I’d make bacon and eggs. I hope you don’t mind.”

“No,” Carl cleared his throat and then crossed over to her. “I don’t mind.” Was he hungry? Hungry was an understatement. Oh, and he could use something to eat, too. He came up behind her and slipped his hand around her waist. Yep. She was naked under there. He didn’t think it was possible, but the sight of her wearing his shirt, knowing how it draped her naked flesh, was causing quite a reaction in him. Again.

“It’ll be ready in a minute,” she told him and Carl grunted an unintelligible reply as his lips sought out the soft skin of her throat. He pulled her hair to the side and burrowed his face inside the collar of the shirt.

“I think . . .” Rachel tried to say but he was making it awfully hard to think straight. The feel of his warm breath on her skin was making her knees weak. “I think something’s burning.”

“I know,” Carl said heatedly, kissing down her neck and along her shoulder. She really was setting him on fire.

“Carl. I really think something’s burning,” Rachel insisted. She could feel his hands on her hips, pulling her body back snugly against his. His obviously aroused state was matched by her own.

“It’s the toaster,” Carl reluctantly tore his lips away from her skin and moved away from her to unplug it from the wall. “It always burns the bread.”

She felt a flush of excitement rush through her each time he threw a heated look in her direction. She could melt under the intensity of that gaze. His rugged features seemed softer this morning, cushioned around the edges. Maybe because he seemed so happy.

Clearing her throat she turned from the stove and with a smile lighting her face, she said, “Everything’s ready.”

Carl couldn’t help but smile back at her. This was a morning to rival all other mornings and it’d only just started. He scraped the burnt edges from the toast while watching her dish up their plates. Scrambled eggs and bacon and hashbrowns with diced onions and peppers. He watched her apply a liberal dose of salsa over her eggs and he marveled at how she seemed to love spicy foods. She must have a cast iron stomach.

She took their plates to the table in the cozy alcove off the kitchen and when he saw her come back and open the refrigerator and bend over to get the juice, he almost abandoned the idea of breakfast altogether. Biting back his desires, he joined her at the table, setting the salvaged toast between their plates.

“It smells wonderful,” Carl said as the scents wafted up to his crooked nose.

“I hope you like it,” Rachel said a little self-consciously.

He scooped some salsa onto his own eggs and then took a bite, savoring the exotic taste. He nodded in approval saying, “Good,” around a mouthful, and then swallowed and repeated, “Really good.”

“I’m glad you like it,” she took a nibble from her own plate.

“What do you want to do today?” It never even crossed his mind that they wouldn’t spend the day together. It was Saturday, and there were so many . . . things . . . they could do together. He tried to concentrate on the food in front of him but he couldn’t help noticing that the top three buttons on her shirt were unfastened, exposing her ample cleavage. He could also see the dark circles of her nipples through the white fabric and if she moved a certain way, the erect tips were quite evident through the material.

“Do today?” she echoed. How ‘bout I crawl right over this table and climb into your lap’, Rachel thought silently and then felt herself blush. “I’m, uh . . . I’m up for anything,” she offered and then her eyes widened when she realized how that sounded.

“Me too,” Carl replied. The words were out of his mouth before he could stop them and Carl hoped he hadn’t offended her by the suggestive nature of the comment. He could see her cheeks take on a rosy tone, but she was smiling too, a smile that had it’s own suggestive quality to it. The heat he’d been feeling earlier was blazing in full force and he was surprised his fork wasn’t melting in his hand.

He plowed through his eggs and hashbrowns, watching her as she ate, fascinated as she took small bites of bacon, bit by bit disappearing into her mouth. There was something quite sensual about the way she ate, or maybe it was just knowing she was sitting across his table, eating his food, wearing his shirt, with nothing underneath. He didn’t think he’d ever had a breakfast so fraught with sexual tension.

His hand was nearly shaking with suppressed desire as he reached for his orange juice and he downed it in one gulp. He reached for the juice carton to refill his glass at the same moment she reached for it too and their hands touched. The spark that passed between them was electrifying and Carl was on his feet before he knew what hit him. He pulled her up beside him and she eagerly pressed against him and their lips flew toward each other. Their kiss was heated, searing, tasting of salsa and spice and his hand slid up the back of her leg, under the shirt, coming to rest on the soft skin of her very naked behind.

He broke off their kiss suddenly and he stared into her fiery green eyes with the air rushing in and out of his lungs. Her tongue darted out to moisten her lips and that was his final undoing. He grabbed her hand and began to drag her toward the bedroom. Their footsteps thundered loudly as they raced down the carpeted hallway, followed moments later by the slamming of his bedroom door, with the throaty laughter of an aroused woman drifting throughout the apartment.

Their first time together had been emotionally satisfying for Rachel. Their second time together had been physically gratifying. Their third time together had given her glimpses of pleasures to come. The memory of their fourth time together would keep smiles on their faces for the rest of the week.

Yes. Yes. You know the drill. Come back next Sunday to see what happens next!

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 27-May-2002 1:20:58 AM ]
posted on 3-Jun-2002 12:15:30 AM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17

The link to parts 1 through 59 is now posted on page 1 of this thread.

Author note: Man, this weekend was way too short! I know some of you are anxious for the next part (Carol? Carol? Did you go to bed yet? Sorry if I didn’t get here until after your bedtime!) My kid always hogs the computer, and I can’t usually kick him off before 9 pm my time.

Enough talking. On with the next part . . .

Captive Hearts
Part 86

Max came out of the bathroom wearing black slacks and a burgundy dress shirt, with one gigantic frown on his face. He was getting ready for his first morning back on the job and the gods were conspiring against him. First of all, he’d over slept because he’d forgotten to set the alarm. Combine that with the fact that he’d been up half the night because Matthew decided to stay awake between the hours of midnight and 4:00 am, and his morning was getting off to a bad start.

He had raced around the house, showering, dressing hastily, trying to grab a quick cup of coffee so he could try to wake up, which he ended up dribbling all over his tie. He could only find one shoe, and he ended up crawling all over the bedroom floor on his hands and knees, looking under the dresser and the nightstand and the bed before Liz found it in the hamper in the bathroom. How’d it get in there?

Finally when he was dressed and ready to go, Liz had asked him to watch Matthew for a minute while she took a quick shower. That’s when things really went bad. When she came out of the bathroom, wrapped in a thick terrycloth robe, with a towel around her wet hair, Max was sitting on the edge of the bed staring at her, holding Matthew, and his burgundy shirt was covered with baby spit-up.

He’d silently stood up, crossed the room and handed her the baby before heading into the bathroom. She listened to the sound of the water running and a deep grumbling voice mumbling unintelligible words and then he returned to the bedroom with that frown etched on his face.

“You know, Liz,” Max said as he scrubbed at the stain on his shoulder with a wet washcloth. “I think he saves it all up for me. He never spits up on you but as soon I pick him up it’s like a volcano, blasting out of his mouth.”

“He just wants to share with you,” Liz said with a laugh, and Max sent her a deadly glare.

“You call it sharing?” Max arched his eyebrows. “He pees on me. He throws up on me. Let’s not talk about what leaked out of his diaper yesterday, right onto my favorite shirt. He has it out for me, Liz!”

“Max!” Liz scolded him. “He does not!”

“You didn’t see his little vampire gums the other day when he went right for my throat,” Max muttered under his breath. Liz threw him a look but he pretended not to see it. He waved his hand over his shoulder to dry his shirt, with a frown the size of the Grand Canyon still creasing his brow, and taking pity on him Liz laid Matthew in his cradle and crossed over to Max with her arms open wide.

“Matthew doesn’t have it out for you,” Liz said as she neared him. Her arms slid around his sides and she leaned into him saying, “You’re just having a bad morn-” and then her nose crinkled and she exclaimed, “Man, you stink!”

“You can still smell it?” Max sniffed at his shirt while Liz backed off, waving her hand in front of her face.

“God yes!” she pinched her nose.

Max waved his hand over it again and asked, “What about now?”

Liz leaned forward and took a whiff and then cringed. “Max, not even alien powers are going to help that smell. You better change your shirt.”

“Is it that bad?” he asked and he answered his own question when he took another whiff.

“Oh, yeah,” she shot back. “It’s that bad! Let me help you.” She led him back to the closet and Max started to unfasten the buttons on his cuffs and then down the front of his chest. He pulled the tails out of his pants and then peeled off the shirt and tossed it out of the closet onto the bedroom floor. Liz thumbed through his shirts and then pulled out a green one, a Levi brand, with little green and black checks that she thought he looked sexy in.

“Wear this one,” Liz said, taking it off the hanger. She turned to hand it to him and the sight of his naked chest made her do a double take. They were in close quarters here inside their small walk-in closet, and Liz let her heated gaze travel up and down his chest. Unaware of her reaction, Max took the shirt out of her hand and slipped his arms into the sleeves. He unfastened the button on his pants and then lowered the zipper so he could tuck it in, and Liz was getting hotter by the second.

“Max . . .” she took a step closer to him. He had started to button his clean shirt but Liz covered his hand with hers, stopping his movements, and it was his turn to do a double take when he saw the look on her face. Now, he wondered? Here? In the closet?

He cleared his throat and uttered a familiar refrain. “Liz? What are you doing?”

“Nothing,” she said, peeling his shirt away from his chest. She moved even closer and her lips brushed over his pecs.

“Liz,” he swallowed hard. He could feel her tongue circling around his nipple and then her hand was sliding down his stomach, under the top band of his boxers, headed for . . . oh . . . oh . . . he was going to be sorry he said this. “Liz, we can’t . . . I’m, uh . . . I’m . . . gonna . . . be . . . oh God . . . I’m gonna be late for work.”

“Work?” she mumbled with her lips against his skin. Her hand slid lower still and then she found what she was after. Yes, he seemed quite happy her hand had come to visit.

“Liz,” Max clenched his teeth. He really didn’t want to say this, but, “Liz . . . I have to go to work.”

“Are you sure?” she nibbled at his chest and her hand circled around his rapidly hardening member.

Sure? Am I sure? No! No, I’m not sure! “Yes. I have to go to work,” he finally managed to say and reluctantly pulled her hand from his pants. “But hold that – thought!” he added, looking quickly from her face, to her hand, and then back to her face. “When I get home tonight, don’t forget where we were!”

“Okay,” she said in a mock pout but knowing he really had to go. She helped him button his shirt and then sighed deeply when, with great effort, he zipped up his pants and backed out of the closet. She followed behind him and they walked into the living room so she could say goodbye. Facing each other at the door, she looked up at him with her big dark eyes and said, “You can’t stay just a little longer?”

“You don’t know how much I want to do just that,” Max gave a short laugh. He was aching to stay and finish what she had started, but he shook his head. “If I don’t leave right now, I’m gonna be late, and Carl is never late. He’s probably looking at his watch right now, wondering where I am.”

“Okay,” Liz accepted what she couldn’t change. She stretched, wrapping her arms around his shoulders and they kissed, a soft, lingering kiss to get them through the day, and then Max pulled back.

With his hands on her shoulders, he held her at arms length and said, “I’ll be right back.”

Liz watched him hurry back toward the bedroom, and when he didn’t come back after a minute, she headed that way to see what he was doing. As she neared the bedroom, she could hear his voice coming from inside. Stopping in the doorway, she felt her heart melting at the sight before her. Max was standing next to the cradle, holding Matthew, kissing his little baby cheeks and speaking to him softly.

“You be good to your Mommy today. Don’t cry too much. Let her take a nap when she gets tired. Don’t bite her on the nipple when she feeds you.” Matthew looked up at his father, reaching for his nose with his little hand, and Max laughed softly. “I’m gonna miss you today. I’ll be thinking about you all day long. You know what I said earlier? I didn’t mean it. You can throw up on me anytime you want.”

Liz watched Max as he held his son to his chest, hugging him close, before lowering him into the cradle. He hovered over it, obviously not wanting to leave, but knowing he had to. Liz quietly backed down the hallway, leaving Max with his private moment with Matthew, and then stopped suddenly when she heard his parting words.

Max, bending over the cradle, holding Matthew’s tiny hand in his own, said softly, “Don’t go anywhere while I’m gone.”

* * * * *

Max tried to hurry through the police station but he was stopped every few feet by someone calling out congratulations, or slapping him on the back or shaking his hand. He hadn’t realized so many people even knew his name, let alone the personal facts about his life, like the birth of his son. He was generally pretty quiet and stayed to himself when he wasn’t with Carl or one of the other guys in the unit. As far as he knew, he thought he pretty much blended into the background, just like he had all those years growing up in Roswell.

He checked his watch, cursing silently when he saw he was ten minutes late, and then rushed down the hallway to the squad room. He burst into the room with an apology on his lips and then stopped dead in his tracks. His desk, on the far side of the room, was covered with streamers and blue balloons. A sign hung above his desk proclaiming ‘Congratulations! It’s a Boy!’. Pampers were stacked on his desk. Boxes and boxes of Pampers. Wrapped up in ribbons and bows. Right next to industrial size containers of baby wipes. Chris and Tully were standing side by side, arms folded across their chests and grinning from ear to ear.

“What’s this?” Max said in surprise. He hadn’t expected to come back to work to something like this.

“Congratulations!” Chris sauntered up beside him and threw his arm around his shoulder in a brotherly gesture. “How’s fatherhood treating ya?”

“It’s wearing me out,” Max laughed, touched that the guys had done this.

“Those 2:00 am feedings can be killers,” Tully commiserated.

“Isn’t that the truth,” Max nodded, remembering last nights pacing up and down the bedroom floor trying to get Matthew to go back to sleep.

“Congratulations, Max,” Tully stuck out his hand and they shook affectionately. Pointing toward Max’s desk, Tully said, “I’m so glad my diaper changing days are over. I don’t know what’s worse, looking at a dirty diaper, or smelling it. It always made me want to hurl.”

“Me too!” Max nodded vigorously. Grinning cheerfully he added, “Thanks guys,” and then he looked around the squad room for Carl, but he was nowhere to be seen. Curious, he asked, “Where’s Carl? Did he go on a case without me? I know I’m late, but-”

“Carl’s late,” Tully cut in and he nodded in understanding at the look on Max’s face. What was up with that? Carl was never late. Never. As in . . . NEVER. Tully had worked in the squad for years, and never known Carl to be late. Carl was a driven man, and his work was his whole life. He might have been different before Michelle died, but this was the man he knew. Punctual. Subdued. Quiet. Introspective. Brooding. Taciturn. Solitary. Dedicated.

And never, ever, late.

“He’s late?” Max muttered and then under his breath added, “Damn. I should have stayed in the closet.”

Chris turned his head to look at Max and then slowly took his arm away from his shoulder. When had Max come out of the closet? Had he missed something? Well, he’d always thought Max was just a little too pretty, with that soft brown hair and those long dark lashes. Did his wife know he was gay?

Fifteen minutes later as the guys were discussing their respective weekends, and Chris was keeping a safe distance from Max, a racket from the hallway interrupted their chatter. Three heads turned toward the door, and three sets of eyes nearly popped out of their respective eye sockets when they saw who was causing it. The cheerful whistling preceded him, and then Carl came sauntering into the squad room, hands informally tucked in his pockets, his jacket loose and unbuttoned, his shirt collar open at the neck, sans tie. When had Carl ever shown up for work, not wearing a tie? Never, that’s when. Carl was late. Carl was tieless. Carl was breaking all the rules.

“Hi guys,” Carl said cheerily. “Max, good to see you back. It was too quiet last week without you around here. How’s that little boy of yours doing?”

“Great,” Max beamed. “He’s great.”


“She’s great too,” Max nodded. He silently lamented the fact that he’d left the bedroom closet so soon this morning. If he’d only know Carl was going to be this late . . .

And why exactly was Carl so late? Max was curious, Tully was eyeing him like he didn’t know who he was, and Chris was looking closely at Carl’s lips, thinking they looked pretty chapped. Like he’d spent the weekend skiing down a down a mountain in the cold, or spent it at the beach being buffeted by the wind, or . . . or . . . or spent the weekend in bed, lip-locked with a beautiful woman. Chris was betting his money on the third option. The smile. The whistle. The way he was walking. The way he was talking. Carl got lucky! Probably with that bombshell that visited here last week. Good for him!

Just then the phone rang and the unit began a new week. There were crimes to solve, reports to take and investigations to be made. Life kept rolling on. A half hour later Chris and Tully headed out of the squad room on a case. The younger man’s voice rumbled in the hallway, followed by Tully’s loud retort, “You idiot! He’s not gay!”

* * * * *

Johnson sat at his desk tapping his pen idly against the notepad while he waited for his call to go through. He’d already been transferred once and he was starting to wonder if the University had any competent help. How hard should it be to reach the Life Sciences Division? Finally, a voice sounded in his ear and this time he could tell it wasn’t just an electronic voice mail.

“Yes, I’d like to speak with Professor Rawlings,” Johnson said with his voice sounding official and assured.

“Speaking,” came the reply.

“Professor, my name is Dr. Sinclair. I have a small bioresearch facility here in Phoenix doing some government grant work, and I find myself in need of a research assistant. I was hoping you might be able to recommend a student who is knowledgeable in gene mapping for a temporary job assignment. Perhaps as part of an internship program.”

“Yes, I’d be happy to make a recommendation for you. We’ve worked with several local firms setting up internships. I have one student in particular that I would highly recommend. She’s one of the brightest students I’ve had in years. When would you want placement? This fall?”

“Actually, no,” Johnson replied. “I need to complete this work as soon as possible. I hope to be leaving the area in the fall so I want to hire someone right away, without delay.”

“I see. That might eliminate her then,” Prof. Rawlings frowned. “I think she was due to give birth any time. I can ask her though. Tell you what. I’ll make a few phone calls, see who’s available, and then give you a call back.”

“Thank you, Professor,” Johnson smiled.

* * * * *

Liz had just lifted Matthew out of the kitchen skink after his morning bath when the phone rang. She wrapped him in a towel and dabbed at the water dripping down his face while she reached for the portable phone she had sitting close by on the counter. Max had already called three times this morning, every hour on the hour, and she was all ready to give him a hard time about number four. She answered the phone ready to tease him, and then she heard the familiar voice.

“Hello Professor Rawlings. How can I help you?” He was her advisor, and her favorite teacher, but she hadn’t expected to talk to him until she returned to school in the fall. If she returned in the fall. She hadn’t told Max yet, but she was thinking about taking the fall semester off, and returning for spring semester instead. She wasn’t sure she wanted to leave Matthew with a sitter while he was so young.

Originally, they had thought they could work their class schedules around Matthew, one of them attending classes in the morning, the other taking either afternoon or evening classes, so that one of them could always be with Matthew, but that was before Max went to work for the police department. Now their options were limited.

“Hello Liz. I wanted to tell you about an interesting phone call I just received. An opportunity for you to do some government grant work. Gene mapping. Are you interested?”

“Grant work?” Liz said in surprise. Those types of opportunities were usually offered to the upperclassmen. “Me?”

“Of course you,” Rawlings smiled. “You’re our best student. A future Noble Prize winner, I’m sure.”

“Professor!” Liz blushed at the praise. She had Matthew resting on one shoulder and the phone on the other and at the moment, she thought her biggest accomplishment would be to not drop one of them. Moving over to the table, she lowered Matthew into the baby seat and tucked a blanket around him so he wouldn’t get cold after his bath. Holding the phone with one hand now, she asked, “When? I mean, what kind of grant work and when? In the fall, because I haven’t decided-”

“No, Liz,” Rawlings interrupted. “This job starts right away. The company wants placement by the end of the week.”

“Oh,” Liz felt a touch of disappointment.

“Is it the baby?” he asked. “I knew you were due any time now.”

“Well actually, Matthew was born a week ago Saturday,” Liz smiled, watching him chew on his fingers. “I’m not ready to jump into anything else right now.”

“Believe me, I understand, Liz. I’ve got four kids of my own. I know how much work they are, especially when they’re young.”

“I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the offer-”

“Your work speaks for itself, Liz,” Rawlings assured her. “Maybe next time.”

Liz said goodbye and then hung up the phone, feeling good about her instructor’s praise, but wondering if this was a lost opportunity. Government grant work? Gene mapping? It sounded fascinating. The type of work she would be interested in doing. Matthew drew her attention once more and she turned from the phone, back to important matters.

Matthew had kicked the blanket aside and he was on full naked display now. Liz smiled down at him, saying, “Look at you. You are just the cutest little boy I have ever seen. Yes you are. You look just like your Daddy. Yes you do.” She brushed her lips against his little round belly and then laughed when she felt his fingers grab at her hair. “You are just like your Daddy, aren’t you? He’s always got his hands in my hair too! You just-”

And then she felt it. The warm fluid soaking into the front of her shirt. She jerked away quickly, but not fast enough. Matthew had hit his target again. She glanced down at her pee soaked shirt and then looked back at her son, saying, “This will be our secret, okay? Daddy doesn’t need to know about this.”

* * * * *

Rawlings looked down at the list he had compiled. He scratched the name Liz Evans off the top and then dropped his eyes to the next one. He picked up the phone and dialed the next number.

* * * * *

Max breathed a sigh of relief as he inserted his key into the lock on his front door. It was good to finally be home. He’d put in a normal eight hour shift, but it had seemed a lot longer than that. All day he couldn’t stop thinking about Liz, and Matthew, and wondering if they were doing alright. Alone. At home.

He pushed the door open and right away felt a sense of peace fall over him. He could hear Liz in the kitchen, singing in her usual awful way, and he followed that beautiful noise. She was at the sink doing the dishes and he walked up behind her, wrapping his arms around her and kissing her on the neck.

“How’s my girl?” he smiled down into her upturned face. “Did you miss me?”

“Of course,” she grinned widely. “It just wasn’t the same around here without you.”

“Where is he?” Max had noticed the empty baby seat on the table. “Sleeping?”

“Yes,” Liz nodded. “He should be waking up soon.”

“I’ll go check.” He kissed Liz once more and then she watched him go, hurrying out of the kitchen to see his child. She’d known he’d been worried sick all day, wondering if they were okay without him. She’d teased him about it, just to try to ease his worry, but she understood why he was the way he was. The horrors of the past were always with them, and they couldn’t help but wonder if the past would repeat itself, in one form or another.

Max hurried over to the cradle and there he was, wide awake and ready for company. Smiling down at him he said, “Hi, Buddy. I’m home. I missed you today.” Max reached into the cradle and scooped him up, holding him close to his chest and supporting his head with his hand. “Did you and Mommy have fun today?” He walked slowly back to the kitchen, talking softly to the bundle in his arms and feeling contented and relaxed for the first time all day.

He leaned his back against the kitchen counter and asked distractedly, “Do you want help making dinner?” They usually always made it together, but this last week they’d been taking turns, so one could watch the baby while the other cooked.

“I’ve got everything under control,” Liz answered. “You just take care of him and I’ll handle dinner.”

“Okay,” Max replied, but he was so focused on Matthew, Liz wasn’t sure he’d actually heard a word she’d said. He proved her wrong a second later when he said, still focused on Matthew, “ My dinner will be ready soon, and your dinner’s on tap. Let’s go out into the living room until she’s ready for us. Maybe I’ll introduce you to Big Bird.”

Max shot her a radiant smile and Liz sighed happily as she watched him move out of the kitchen. She heard the TV switch on and soon the voices of Burt and Ernie were filling the air. Forty minutes later Liz set the casserole on the table and called out, “Dinner’s ready!”

Silence was her only answer and with a tinge of apprehension, she left the kitchen to see why everyone was so quiet. At first she didn’t see them in the living room and she began to worry, until she looked over the back of the couch. There, stretched out on the cushions with a pillow under his head, Max was sound asleep. Matthew was too, sprawled across his father’s chest, held securely in place by Max’s arms.

Looking down at their peaceful faces, Liz didn’t have the heart to wake them. Dinner could wait. Her heart swelled with love watching the two men in her life sleeping, so quiet and relaxed, and her eyes misted over at the sight. Moments like these had been denied them before, but this time she was going to savor every single one.

TBC next Sunday . . .

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 3-Jun-2002 12:59:05 AM ]
posted on 10-Jun-2002 12:32:35 AM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 to NC 15

Link to parts 1 – 59 is on page 1

Author Note: Sanne, in answer to your question, hashbrowns are shredded breakfast potatoes. They’re really good! Well, at least I think so!
Little_Miss_Roswell, welcome to Captive Hearts. I’ve been writing this story forever it seems. Glad you found it again.
AmorporML, you asked why Johnson wants to test or experiment on Ellie again. The answer is, he doesn’t. He’s going to wait until she’s older. He wants to hire the assistant for the OTHER experiments he is working on. A government grant that keeps the money flowing in.

Thanks for all the bumps everybody! This part is posted in two sections due to length restrictions.

Captive Hearts
Part 87

Liz sat at the table nursing Matthew while Max moved around the kitchen, taking the steaks out of the refrigerator and setting them on the countertop next to the tray he would use to take them outside to barbecue. Deciding he was thirsty, he grabbed a can of cherry coke too, and the bottle of Tabasco sauce that was always handy. Popping the lid he took a drink, making a face at the flat taste, and then poured a generous helping of the spicy condiment inside the can. He swirled it around to mix it up and then took another taste.

“Ah,” he sighed. “That’s better.”

“You know, Max,” Liz joked. “We should buy stock in that company.”

“In this company?” Max asked, holding up the Tabasco bottle.

“Yes! When Matthew gets bigger, I bet we have to start buying it by the case. Do you know how much money we spend on Tabasco sauce in a year?”

“My poor mother,” Max laughed, “before she found out about us she used to comment on that a lot too. She was always amazed that Isabel and I liked it so much. She thought it was some new fad for our generation, because Michael liked it too, and he was always around.”

“Your ‘poor’ mother is right,” Liz scolded him. “You should have told your parents long before you did. If you hadn’t been forced into it, I mean, because . . .” she faltered. He’d been forced into telling his parents the truth about what he was after he escaped the Lakely Institute, before she was moved to Haystack Mountain. He’d been in no condition, physically or emotionally, to continue the lie, to cover his tracks. Too much had happened that he couldn’t hide from them. “I bet if we, if that had never happened to us, I bet you’d still be keeping it from them.”

Max turned to look at her and he nodded his head slowly. “You’re probably right. Keeping it secret, we always thought our lives depended on it. Look what happened, to us, when the wrong people found out about us. About me. You almost died because of what they did to you. Just because . . . of me.”

“Don’t start that again, Maxwell Evans!” Liz shot him a warning look.

“You know what I mean, Liz,” he dropped his eyes from hers. He didn’t like to remember what he’d put her through. What loving him had cost her.

“Max, you saved my life. Twice. If it hadn’t been ‘because of you’ I’d be dead now-”

“Liz-” he tried to stop her.

“I would have died on the Crashdown floor,” she cut him off, “without ever getting a chance to know you. We would have never had this,” her eyes swept around the room, indicating the life that they lived, and then she glanced down at Matthew before raising her eyes up to look at Max again. “I would have never had him.”

“Liz, why are we talking about this?” he asked uncomfortably.

“I’m just saying,” Liz softened her tone, “you should have told your parents sooner. They would have understood. They loved you. The truth about what you are wasn’t going to change that.” She pried Matthew’s mouth off her nipple and lifted him to her shoulder, patting his back to burp him, while Max crossed the room and took a seat next to her.

“Liz, you know why we didn’t,” Max reiterated. “We didn’t know anything then. We couldn’t take the risk.”

“Then why’d you tell me?” Liz looked him steadily in the eye and waited for his answer. When he couldn’t hold her gaze and looked away without saying anything, Liz continued. “You didn’t have to tell me. You could have lied. You could have covered it up. But you didn’t. When I confronted you that day in the band room, you told me the truth. Why?”

Max lifted his eyes to meet hers again, and after a long pause, he said, “It was you. I couldn’t lie to you, Liz. I trusted you.”

She leaned forward and cupped his cheek with her hand and said emphatically, “You can trust other people too, Max.”

“No,” he broke away from her and rose to his feet. He knew where she was going with this.

“You can trust him, Max,” Liz urged. “Just like you trusted me.”

“I said no.” Max crossed the kitchen to where the steaks were waiting on the counter and he picked up the long handled fork. He stared at the wall in front of him, feeling her eyes staring at his back, and he warred with himself. “There’s too much to risk, Liz. You. Matthew. Everyone. I can’t . . . I just . . . can’t . . .”

“Okay,” Liz backed off. She knew she’d pushed him too far. He wanted Carl to know, but he was afraid of what his reaction would be. Liz understood his fears, even if she thought they were unfounded. Rising to her feet, she rocked Matthew against her shoulder, and said, “I better go change him before they get here.”

“Okay,” Max darted a look in her direction and then turned back to the four steaks on the counter. He heard her footsteps as she crossed the kitchen floor and then her hand was touching his back, soothing the tension in him the way only she could.

“I’m sorry,” she said softly and pressed her lips to the bare skin of his arm. “It’s your decision. I shouldn’t have pushed you.”

“It’s okay,” he turned around and took her into his arms. He could never stay upset with her for very long. He kissed her forehead and then wrinkled his nose, saying, “You’re right, you better go change him.”

* * * * *

Carl came around the car and reached for Rachel’s hand when they met on the sidewalk. Their fingers locked together and they headed up to the front door, Rachel with her medical bag slung over her shoulder and Carl carrying a bag full of chips and salsa in the crook of his right arm. It was a beautiful day for an outdoor barbecue and Carl’s spirits were soaring as high as the bright sun in the summer sky.

As they stepped up onto the porch of the Evans neat little home, Carl eyed the medical bag on Rachel’s shoulder one more time and asked, “Isn’t it unusual for a midwife to give checkup’s on babies? I mean, don’t take this wrong, but shouldn’t Liz be taking the baby to a Pediatrician?”

“Well,” Rachel turned to face him and hedged, “Yes and no. It is normally accepted practice to go to a Pediatrician, but in my practice I not only deliver babies, but I do well baby care from birth to five years of age.”

“Isn’t that unusual though?” Carl asked, trying not to sound like he was questioning her medical ability. He was simply trying to understand something he viewed as out of the ordinary. Carl was never one to let a mystery go uninvestigated.

As Rachel stared up into his questioning eyes, she debated how to answer him. She couldn’t tell him ‘her people’ couldn’t go to regular doctors or hospitals. She couldn’t tell him ‘her kind’ had to find other viable options. But there was something else she could tell him that he just might believe.

“It’s a form of Alternative Medicine, Carl,” Rachel spoke. “For the families in my practice, I offer a more personal ‘doctor / patient’ relationship. I make house calls, as you saw exactly two weeks ago at this very house. I’m on call, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for my patients. I don’t go through six – several months of watching a child grow inside a mother’s womb, just to pass the infant off to another doctor as soon as the umbilical cord is cut. My work focuses on the family, not just the fetus.”

“And you’re very passionate about that work, aren’t you?” Carl teased after listening to her long oration.

“Yes, I am!” she said haughtily and smiled, unable to stop the pink flush from spreading over her cheeks. “Some people are threatened by that,” Rachel’s smile wavered, “but that’s the way I am. My work is very important to me.”

Maybe that’s why she never married, Carl thought as he stared into her serious face. Maybe she just never found someone that respected her commitment to her work. God knows, he knew how she felt. His work was his life, or at least for the last ten years it had been. When Michelle died it was all that he had left. Without it, he doubted he would have survived.

“I admire your dedication to your work,” Carl assured her. “You, ah,” he set his grocery bag down on the porch and stepped closer with his hand lifting to peel the medical bag off her shoulder. “You’re passionate about your work. I like that. Just like I like how you’re passionate about other . . . things . . . too.” His lips were only a breath away from hers now, and the fact that they were standing on Max Evans’ porch had completely flown out of his mind. As far as he knew, nothing else existed except him, and Rachel, and this little square of the universe they were standing in.

“You do?” Rachel was able to utter after taking a deep breath. He had backed her up until she was sandwiched between the side of the house and his body, both of them incredibly hard and unyielding. She liked it.

His voice was oozing sex as he brushed his lips against hers and then said, “I think there’s something . . . exciting . . . about a woman who is passionate . . .”

‘. . . about her work?” Rachel managed to say against his lips.

“. . . and other things,” Carl mumbled and then his mouth closed over hers, feeling that passion in her bubbling to the surface and flooding over him. He pressed her hard against the siding of the house, neither one of them aware of what her back was pressing.

* * * * *

“Max?” Liz called out as she finished securing the diaper to Matthew’s little bottom and when she received no answer, she frown and called out for the third time, “Max?” Still hearing no reply, she decided he must be out in the back yard preparing the steaks to barbecue. Picking Matthew up, she lifted him to her shoulder and hurried out into the living room. The front doorbell was ringing non-stop and she wondered if the buzzer was stuck. Maybe there was a short in it and when Carl pressed it, it wouldn’t stop ringing. She flung the door open, expecting to see Carl and Rachel, but not expecting the sight that was before her.

Carl was practically devouring Rachel, and Rachel looked like she was ready to start tearing his clothes off. When had this happened? As far as Liz knew, they were still at the ‘tentative kiss at the movies’ stage. When had they moved into the tonsil hockey stage? For that matter, it looked like Carl might have already scored a goal!

“Um . . .” Liz cleared her throat, embarrassed to be breaking their moment. The first time didn’t work, so she tried again, a little louder. “Ahem . . .”

Carl jumped back like a teenage boy caught in the act and Liz had to bite back a laugh. Here was a man, as old as her father, making out on her porch and blushing when he got caught. There seemed something incredibly odd about that, yet sweet at the same time.

“Ah, Liz! Hi!” Carl said loudly and then cringed inside. It didn’t help when he looked at Rachel and she looked like she was going to burst out laughing.

“Hi Carl, Rachel,” Liz greeted them, knowing she would have to get Rachel alone very, very soon to get the details. “Come on in. Max is out back getting dinner ready.”

“Maybe I should go help him,” Carl suggested, eager to get away from Liz’s intense gaze. He was a grown man. He shouldn’t be acting like a hormone riddled teenager.

“Why don’t you go do that, Carl,” Liz smiled, trying valiantly to contain a giggle. “You know the way. Rachel and I will take care of what we need to do and then join you outside.”

“Okay,” Carl said quickly and then hurried off toward the kitchen and the patio beyond.

Turning to Rachel, Liz pointed toward her with the hand that wasn’t supporting Matthew and said, “You better spill! What I just saw was way more than a peck at the movies or a chaste kiss at the end of a date. What’s going on between the two of you!”

* * * * *

“So,” Liz said after hearing Rachel’s condensed version of what had happened between her and Carl in the last week. They were standing in Matthew’s bedroom next to the changing table, while Rachel gave him a thorough exam. “You and Carl. I knew it would happen. Sparks have been flying between you two for months now. I saw it the first time you met. I’m just surprised it took you this long.”

“It’s wonderful, Liz,” Rachel sighed. “He’s wonderful.” She took the stethoscope from her ears and began to palpitate Matthew’s stomach. “He’s everything I find exciting in a man. When he . . . when we . . . it’s just . . . wonderful.”

“So I’m thinking, you think Carl’s kind of . . . wonderful, huh?” Liz teased.

“I’ve never felt this way before,” Rachel beamed at her.

“I’m happy for you,” Liz said honestly. “For both of you.” After a brief hesitation, she finally asked what had been on her mind since she opened the front door and saw them standing there. “Are you going to tell him?”

“I want to,” Rachel sobered. “It’s just, I don’t know if he’s ready to accept it. He’s a practical man who looks for logical explanations. I don’t know if he’d believe the outlandish story I have to tell him. I don’t know if he’s ready to hear it yet.”

Liz met her troubled gaze with one of her own. Hating to admit it, she said, “Max doesn’t want Carl to know, not yet, not about him. He’s just not ready for Carl to know the secret yet. He’s got so many fears about how Carl will react. I think it’s because Max has so much respect for him, and if Carl took the truth badly, it would just crush Max. He’s like a big brother, the kind you look up to and admire and you never want to disappoint. If Carl turned on him . . .” Liz trailed off, knowing how that would devastate not only Max, but Rachel too. It would hurt all of them. She saw Rachel’s knowing look and added, “Max just needs more time.”

Rachel could see the conflicting emotions on Liz’s face and they mirrored her own. Yes, she wanted Carl to know, but if he took the news badly, she didn’t know if she could stand to lose him. “Liz . . .” she began hesitantly and then her resolve took over. “I won’t tell him. Not yet. I’m not ready either, and when I tell Carl, it won’t take him long to figure out the truth about Max, too. We’re all in this together, and I don’t want to rush into anything we’re not all ready to face.”

“Max will be relieved by that,” Liz nodded her thanks.

“I won’t keep it a secret forever,” Rachel warned.

“I know,” she squeezed her friends hand and the two felt a common bond. Turning back to the matter at hand, Liz asked, “How’s he doing?”

“Matthew?” Rachel asked and let out a laugh. “He’s perfect, Liz! He’s regained his birth weight, his lungs are good, his heart is strong. You can relax, Liz. He’s doing great.”

Liz let out a happy sigh and picked up her precious boy as soon as Rachel finished her exam. Switching gears, Rachel asked, “How’s everything between you and Max?” Adjusting to a new baby could sometimes cause tension in a marriage.

“Me and Max?” Liz asked curiously. “Everything’s . . . fine,” Liz said and then added, “except . . .”

“Except what?” Rachel asked.

Looking at Rachel with her dark eyes as big as saucers, Liz finally asked the question she was dying to ask, “Well, um . . . I was just wondering . . . how long do we have to . . . wait?”

“Wait?” Rachel asked and when she saw the pink tinge to Liz’s cheeks, she understood the question. “Oh,” she said and thoughts were flying through her head. “Do you have any more discharge? Bleeding? Cramping? Anything at all unusual?”

“No,” Liz answered truthfully. “Nothing. Max takes care of all my physical ailments. Cuts, scrapes, bruises. The odd gunshot wound now and then,” Liz cracked a smile.

Rachel smiled back in return. What was the big deal with having a baby, when you had someone like Max Evans around who could literally bring you back from the dead? Focusing on Liz, she said, “As long as you’re comfortable, there’s no reason for you to wait the usual six weeks postpartum. You can resume normal marital relations any time you feel ready.”

“I can?” Liz smiled exuberantly and Rachel just shook her head. Women that had just given birth weren’t usually this anxious to resume having sex, but this was Max and Liz, and the normal rules didn’t seem to apply to them.

Back with the rest in just a second . . .

posted on 10-Jun-2002 12:33:46 AM by Breathless
Part 87 con’t

Max was standing over the barbecue keeping an eye on the steaks while the women finished preparing the rest of the dinner in the kitchen. That left Carl with baby duty. He sat on one of the patio chairs under the shade of the floral umbrella, looking like an old pro. They talked about guy things, like the Arizona Diamondbacks and how Randy Johnson’s retirement was going to affect the team, all the while, Max kept glancing at Carl, thinking it was a shame he’d never had kids of his own. He would have made a good father, and Max knew how kids were around him. He saw it all the time in their work, how kids felt comfortable in his presence. Matthew was quite happy being held in his arms, and he wasn’t even trying to chew on Carl’s neck.

Rachel and Liz returned to the back yard, breaking up the guy talk, and set the food on the table. Salsa and chips, potato salad, corn on the cob, a vegetable tray with the usual assortment of carrots and celery and broccoli, and radishes and even a few jalapeno peppers thrown in to add some spice. Carl noticed and thought they must be Rachel’s idea, she liked things hot and spicy, and then he noticed Max pick one off the tray and pop it in his mouth. Max must like things spicy too. Carl knew he had a sweet tooth, he saw it all the time in the amazing amount of donuts he could consume, but he’d noticed his affection for spicy foods too. Sweet and spicy. What a combination.

“How’re the steaks coming?” Liz asked, coming up to stand close to Max, with her arm around his waist.

“A few more minutes and they’ll be ready,” he smiled and then arched his eyebrows when he felt Liz drop her hand from his waist to his butt. What was she doing?

“Good,” she smiled. Her hand tightened and she squeezed his butt, adding, “I’m starving.”

Starving for what, Max wondered? His wife didn’t usually pinch his ass in front of company. She was leaning against him now, with one hand on his butt and the other starting to rub in small little circles around his stomach. He was glad he was facing the barbecue so their company couldn’t see the sudden swell in his pants.

Max leaned down and kissed Liz lightly on the lips and then said softly, “You better stop that before I embarrass myself in front of our friends.”

“Stop what?” Liz asked innocently.

“Feeling me up.” Max nearly laughed at the sudden color that suffused her face. Her hand shot off his butt and he realized she must not have been aware of what she was doing.

“I’ll just, um . . . go get the tray,” Liz stepped away from him. He watched her as she headed for the kitchen and he almost took off after her, but he forced himself to stay put and take care of the steaks. It wouldn’t be good to invite friends over for dinner, and then let everything burn while he ravished his wife in the kitchen. She returned a minute later, with her cheeks still looking flushed and Max felt himself getting even harder. She had a way of doing that, making him lose all control, with just a simple look or innocent touch.

“Steaks are ready,” Max said loudly, trying to return his focus to their guests. He used the long handled fork to lift them from the barbecue onto the tray that Liz was holding and then he followed her to the patio table.

Liz set the tray down in the middle of the table and then reached out to Carl, saying, “Here, I’ll take him now.” Carl passed Matthew over to her and she set him in his baby seat on her right so she could keep an eye on him while she ate. Looking around the table, she asked, “What does everyone want to drink?”

“Cherry coke for me,” Max smiled.

Carl thought a beer would taste good right about now, but he knew Max didn’t have any in the house. They were too young to buy it, Rachel didn’t seem to drink alcohol at all, so he just decided to stick with a soda. “I’ll have a cherry coke, too.”

“Rachel?” Liz asked.

“”Nothing,” she answered. “I’m fine.”

Liz went to the kitchen and grabbed two drinks, popping open the lids and pouring Tabasco sauce in one. She took them outside, careful to set the right drink in front of the right man, and then returned to her place at the table. She settled in next to Max, who was sitting next to Carl, with Rachel taking the seat next to him at the small circular table. Matthew watched them all, sucking on his fingers while the grown-ups ate.

As the meal progressed, Liz slipped her hand onto Max’s thigh, resting it lightly there as she scooped salsa onto a chip. Their conversation was light and Max couldn’t help but notice how Carl and Rachel couldn’t seem to keep their eyes off each another. He’d seemed more relaxed, more at ease, and the talk of the station was the silly grin he’d been sporting all week. Had something happened between those two? Had they . . . ? Max glanced at Liz, wondering if Rachel had told her anything, but Liz was happily eating away while rubbing her hand up and down his thigh.

Thoughts of Carl and Rachel flew out of his mind as her hand moved a little higher, but the look on her face gave him no indication that she knew what she was doing to him. He reached for his drink trying to act like it was nothing to have his wife’s hand kneading and caressing his inner thigh and then he slammed his coke down on the table when her fingers brushed against his balls.

He reached under the table and covered her hand with his, and then leaned close to her and whispered, “Liz? What are you doing?”

“Nothing,” she answered him innocently.

“It feels like something to me,” he countered and moved her hand down his leg. Max resumed eating, trying to ignore the throbbing in his groin and it wasn’t long before Liz’s hand was once more inching its way up his inner thigh. She brushed against his balls again and his pants became almost painfully constricted. Swallowing a piece of steak, he decided she must be trying to kill him. She was teasing him to death.

His hand reached under the table again and removed hers from his thigh, this time moving it over to her own lap. Deciding to give her a taste of her own medicine, his hand slipped under her summer dress, up the smooth skin of her thigh and came to rest next to her crotch. A very hot and damp crotch. Giving her a taste of her own medicine was backfiring on him. Now he was harder than ever. He reached for his drink with a shaky hand and he knocked it over, spilling coke onto the table. Carl grabbed a napkin quickly, moved their coke cans out of the way and soaked up the mess.

“Sorry,” Max cringed and then shot a look at Liz.

“Not a problem,” Carl laughed it off as he returned to his seat and reached for his coke, taking a big drink. When the fiery Tabasco sauce hit his tastebuds, he spit the drink across the table. He was choking and his eyes were watering and Rachel slapped him on the back.

“That was probably my drink,” Max said sheepishly. “Sorry.”

“What the hell did you put in that thing?” Carl choked out.

Liz lifted a bottle of Tabasco sauce from the table and said apologetically, “Max likes it in his drinks. Sorry.”

Carl looked at them in amazement, wondering if he’d ever met anyone with stranger tastes. Well, maybe Rachel, he thought and turned to look at her. They both liked things spicy, but Tabasco sauce in a soft drink? That was just . . . disgusting!

“Here,” Liz poured him a drink of ice water. “Drink this.”

“Is there anything strange in here?” Carl joked as he took the glass from her. “Tabasco sauce? Hot mustard? Jalapeno juice?”

“No,” Liz laughed. “Just water.”

Things calmed down at the table and Max reached for the corn on the cob. He coated it with butter, resisting the urge to sprinkle it with hot sauce and then he lifted it to his mouth with his hands. His eyes almost rolled back in his head when Liz’s scent drifted up from his fingertips and he instantly became aroused again. He knew he was in trouble when he licked the butter off his fingers and tasted her too.

At that point, Matthew decided he’d had enough of watching everyone else eat and he let Liz know he was hungry too. Pushing back her own plate, she rose to her feet and picked him up, saying, “I’ll be back in a minute.” She excused herself and took Matthew to his room to change him and Max breathed a sigh of relief. Now maybe he could finish his dinner. He couldn’t help the smile that crossed his face when he thought that maybe later on, she would be his dessert.

A few minutes later Carl noticed that Liz had returned, but she was hovering in the kitchen. He looked that way and saw that she was nursing Matthew, with a baby blanket draped over her shoulder, covering her breast modestly. He’d always thought breast feeding was the most natural thing in the world, so he raised his voice slightly to get her attention and said, “Liz, you can come back out here. It won’t bother me, if it doesn’t bother you.”

She turned her head, looking at him shyly, and then looked at Max for support. She didn’t want to make him uncomfortable in front of his boss, but the smile on his face alleviated her worries. She returned to her place beside Max while Matthew contentedly nursed away. They talked and laughed and after a few minutes Carl and Rachel began clearing the table. Once they were in the kitchen, Liz removed the blanket from her shoulder and lifted a now sleeping Matthew away from her breast. Watching her, Max felt a brief moment of jealousy knowing that Matthew got to have that dark, hard nipple in his mouth anytime he wanted it, while he just had to wait. When was he going to get a turn?

Her nipple was exposed now, wet from Matthew’s mouth, and Max lifted the edge of the blanket to pat it dry for her. He noticed the redness at the tip and the way she winced slightly at the touch of the soft fabric of the blanket and he knew she was sore. He touched her with his fingertip and it glowed as he healed the chapped skin. She smiled at him gratefully and he felt a sense of satisfaction that he could do that for her, ease her pain so that her bonding with Matthew would be pleasant, not painful. Looking at her exposed skin, he let his fingers caress her, touching the full underside of her breast softly, and then her nipple again, keeping it hard and erect. He knew he shouldn’t be touching her like this, not here, not now, but there was something so natural about it, yet so sensual at the same time, he couldn’t help himself.

He snapped out of it when he heard Carl’s footsteps behind them and he waved his hand over her chest, covering her modestly again. She rose to her feet saying, “I’m just going to put Matthew down for his nap,” and Max watched her leave. One of these days she was going to tell him that everything was okay and he was going to make love to her for hours, that is, if he could make it past the first two minutes. These past three weeks without touching her had been pure torture and he was afraid that when she told him she was ready again, his control would fail him.

After tucking Matthew into his cradle, Liz left her bedroom, leaving the door open so she could hear him if he began to fuss. Walking toward the kitchen, she heard voices and knew the others had moved inside.

“Anyone up for some dessert?” Max asked and then he saw Liz come into the room. Yes, he could definitely get up for some dessert.

“What have you got?” Carl asked.

“What have I got?” Max asked absently, with his eyes glued on Liz. He was thinking dessert would taste mighty good later on.

“What did you have in mind for dessert?” Carl clarified. Something sweet would hit the spot right about now.

Max shot him a look, and then refocused. He felt his face heating up and was glad no one could read his thoughts. Carl had asked about dessert. Just plain old everyday dessert. There must be something around here to serve for dessert. He opened the freezer door and proclaimed, “Anybody want ice cream?”

“What kind do you have?” Carl asked. It was an innocent question.

“Let’s see,” Max studied the contents of his freezer. “Vanilla, a personal favorite,” he darted a look at Liz with a grin on his face, “and then we have chocolate, and strawberry, and rocky road, and mint chocolate chip and cookies and cream . . .”

Carl turned to Rachel with a flabbergasted look on his face. Who had that much ice cream in their freezer? If Max liked ice cream as much as he liked donuts, why wasn’t he 400 pounds already?

“and jomoca,” Max continued without skipping a beat, “and then we have orange sherbet and strawberry sherbet and-”

“Max?” Carl interrupted, wondering if he was ever going to stop.

“Yeah?” Max looked at him questioningly.

“How ‘bout vanilla?” Carl deadpanned.

“Good choice,” Max smiled. He took the carton out of the freezer and then opened the refrigerator door. “Do you want a topping? We have chocolate and fudge and strawberry and caramel . . .”

Carl covered his face with his hand trying to contain his laughter. Rachel elbowed him in the ribs and Liz stepped forward, saying, “Why don’t we have hot fudge sundaes?”

“That sounds great,” Carl and Rachel said at the same time.

Max looked at them, wondering why they had suddenly started laughing, and then shrugged his shoulders and reached for the fudge. He grabbed the can of whipped cream too, and wondered if they had any nuts in the house. Just before he closed the refrigerator door, his eyes rested on the pudding on the bottom shelf. Cups and cups of pudding. Vanilla and chocolate and butterscotch and swirl. Maybe he’d have some of that later. It’d been stacking up lately because pudding just didn’t taste as good when he just ate it with a spoon.

Come back next Sunday to see Max eat his dessert!

posted on 17-Jun-2002 12:32:07 AM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17

Author note: It looks like you all are ready for Max to get his dessert. He’s been a patient man.

This part is posted in two sections due to length restrictions.

Captive Hearts
Part 88

“Well, that was great,” Carl leaned back on the couch and rubbed his full belly. The hot fudge sundae had definitely been the crowning glory to a wonderful meal. He had yet to be disappointed when eating a meal in the Evans’ home, and today had been no exception.

“Let me take that,” Liz said, rising from her chair and taking the bowl out of his hand. She took Rachel’s and Max’s and then headed to the kitchen to put them in the sink.

She arrived back in the living room just in time to hear Carl say to Rachel, “If we’re gonna catch that movie, we better get a move on it.”

“What movie are you going to see?” Liz asked.

“The Hulk,” Carl answered and then looked at Rachel sitting next to him on the couch. Her taste in movies surprised him. She liked sci-fi and space movies and things to do with strange phenomena, all things he didn’t really believe in, but she enjoyed it so that made him happy.

“What can I say?” Rachel raised her hands in mock surrender. “I’m a sucker for guys that turn green and rip their shirts off when they’re excited.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Carl quipped and the two of them laughed at the intimate banter.

Max arched his eyebrows, once again surprised by the closeness Carl and Rachel were displaying. Just how ‘close’ had they become? It was obvious that Rachel hadn’t told him the truth about what she was, not yet anyway, but what if she wanted to? If she did, it wouldn’t take Carl long to figure out the truth about him too. What if he didn’t take it well? What if he freaked out? What if Carl thought he was a monster, a freak that should be wiped off the face of the earth? What if Carl found out he’d killed two men, just by the power of his mind? What if . . .

What if Carl turned them all in to the FBI?

No, Max shook the thought off. Carl wouldn’t do that . . . would he? Liz walked up behind his end of the couch and ran her fingers through his hair and Max turned his head to look up at her. She didn’t seem worried at all. She was watching Carl and Rachel with a knowing smile and she appeared happy about the closeness they were displaying. Max was happy too, that Carl had found someone to fill his life again, but he couldn’t help his nagging fears.

Rising to his feet, Carl held out his hand to help Rachel up and they headed toward the door. Max and Liz followed them, Max with his arm around her shoulder, Liz with hers around his waist.

“Thanks for a great dinner,” Rachel said when they were outside on the porch. “Max, the steak was perfect.”

“I’m glad you liked-” his voice suddenly rose an octave when he felt Liz’s hand drop from his waist to his butt again, just like she had done out back earlier, and then he sputtered out, “it.” He darted a look toward Liz and he could see that she was trying not to laugh. She knew exactly what she was doing, that little vixen.

“We’ll have to do this again,” Rachel suggested. “My house next time. In fact,” she smiled and turned her attention to the man beside her. “Carl has a birthday coming up-”

“Don’t remind me!” Carl rolled his eyes.

“We’ll have a party,” Rachel continued. “We’ll celebrate. Balloons and party hats and a big cake.”

Max and Liz turned to look at each other. Cake? Did she say cake? Her hand squeezed his butt and he pulled her closer to his side. What he wouldn’t give for some cake right about now.

“We better go,” Carl said and they headed toward the car. Half way down the walkway, he turned around to wave, but Max was already disappearing inside the house. Carl thought that was a little unusual, they usually stayed on the porch until they drove away, but he shrugged it off and kept walking. Maybe Matthew needed their attention.

Max slammed the door closed and then pinned Liz up against it. She was grinning wickedly up at him and that throbbing in his groin was back, only more intensified now that they were alone. “What do you think you’re doing, grabbing my ass like that when you know I can’t do anything about it? You’re turning into a tease, Liz.”

“But I’d only be a tease if I had no intension of finishing what I started,” Liz said seductively.

“And since we can’t-”

“Who says we can’t?” Liz cut him off.

“Wha,” he started to stumble over his words “. . . who . . . did you talk to Rachel about this?” She slowly nodded her head and he asked, “What did she say?”

Liz answered by raising her hands to the buttons on the front of his shirt. His eyes dropped to watch her progress as she slowly began to unfasten each one. He could feel his breathing becoming sharper and his pulse rate quicken and then he covered her hand with his. “Did she says it’s . . . ?”

“She gave us the green light.” Liz smiled as his eyes darkened with desire and then she laughed throatily when he tore his shirt off and threw it on the floor behind him. His lips covered hers and he pressed his body against her, pinning her hard against the front door. His lips suddenly froze and he pulled his mouth away from hers, turning his head to glance down the hallway toward their bedroom. Liz cupped his face with her hands and turned him back in her direction, saying, “He’s asleep. And he’s probably going to stay asleep for the next couple of hours.”

“Are you sure about that?” Max swallowed. Matthew had proven to be the master of bad timing already, and he was only two weeks old.

“I’m positive,” Liz began to unfasten the buttons on the front of her dress.

Max watched her, thinking that except for the color and the apron, this dress reminded him a lot of her Crashdown uniform. Well, he was aware that it didn’t have a collar and it was sleeveless, instead of those cute little two-tone sleeves, but it fit her curves like her uniform did. Okay, he was ready to admit the dress wasn’t anything like her Crashdown uniform, except for the opening down the front. Besides, he was only interested in quick access anyway.

His eyes were glued to her as more and more of her skin began to show. Soft, rich looking skin. She’d been getting some sun in the afternoons while Matthew was sleeping and she looked healthy and incredibly sexy for a woman who had just given birth. She was soft and curvy in all the right places, curves that Max couldn’t wait to touch. He felt her hand suddenly brush over the front of his pants and then she was cupping his balls and Max let out an audible groan. His hand grabbed at the button on his jeans and he tore the zipper open, letting his pants sag low on his hips. His lips swooped down onto hers again and then her hand slipped inside his boxers, just like she had earlier in the week when they were in the bedroom closet together. Her hand surrounded his throbbing member and he let out another groan of pure pleasure.

Max pressed her harder against the door, kissing her lips and moving his hips to the tempo of her hand. She could do the most incredible things to him. His blood felt like it was boiling in his veins and he could hear the roar of it in his ears, drowning out all other sounds except the ones coming from her throat. Needing more, he pulled her hand away and picked her up, crushing her body to his.

* * * * *

“Carl!” Rachel slapped her hand against her forehead, feeling like an idiot. Looking at him apologetically, she said, “Turn around. We have to go back. I forgot my medical bag.”

“Where?” he asked. “At Max’s?”

“Yes,” she nodded. “I think I left it in the baby’s room.”

“Do you need it?” he asked, looking at the clock on the dashboard. If they went back they’d probably be late for the movie.

“Maybe, maybe not,” she shrugged. “It depends on if-”

“Mother Nature calls?” Carl cut in and they both laughed. He put on the blinker and turned the car around, headed back to the Evans.

* * * * *

Max was panting heavily, right along with Liz. His body ground against hers, feeling her wetness even through their underwear. He kissed along her throat, feeling the incredible sensation of her breasts bobbing against his chest. He’d removed her bra with the magical wave of his hand and her nipples were hard points of fire burning into his skin. If he leaned against her hard enough he could feel her milk leak from the tips and run down their skin and he decided he was just going to have to lick it off of her, but not right this second. He had other things he wanted to do first.

He yanked at his shorts and uncovered his swollen member, rubbing it now against the silk of her panties. He could feel the heat coming from her and the moisture that was seeping from her was more than he could take. Waving his hand again, her panties disappeared and their sexes finally came together. He slipped between her wet lips, rubbing his heated member along her folds and coating himself with her juices. Holding her against him, supporting her hips with his arm, he couldn’t hold back any longer. Fighting off the urge to lustfully take her, he forced himself to slide into her slowly, watching her face closely to make sure she was comfortable. He was in heaven, inside the warmth of her body, and he wanted her to feel that way too.

“Are you okay?” he asked softly, heatedly, barely getting the words out. He wouldn’t continue if she had any residual pain or discomfort from having the baby.

“More than okay,” she breathed out and wrapped her legs tighter around him. “Better than ever,” she mumbled against his lips and then her mouth was eagerly covering his. Her arms around his shoulders clung to him tightly and she rocked her hips intimately, encouraging him to continue. He pulled back and sunk into her again, feeling her heat surrounding him, caressing him, taking him to the heights of pleasure. Her lips broke free of his and in a hesitant voice, she asked, “Do I feel alright? Am I stretched-”

“You’re perfect,” Max sank into her again. His lips were on her throat, kissing her delicate skin, and he said again with passion, “You’re so incredibly perfect.”

* * * * *

Carl pulled to a stop in front of the small house and gave Rachel’s hand a squeeze. “I’ll run in and get it. Why don’t you just wait here for me?”

“Okay,” Rachel nodded as he opened the car door and she watched him hurry up the walkway to the front door.

Carl stepped onto the porch and raised his hand to knock on the door, when a strange noise reached his ears. A steady pounding with the door rattling in its frame in a familiar rhythm. What the hell was –

“Liz,” came a muffled groan drifting through the door.

Carl, his hand poised in the air to knock on the door, drew it back suddenly and instead raked it through his wavy hair. Were they doing what he thought they were doing?

“Max,” came another voice, higher in pitch than the first, followed by a long drawn out “Oh . . . Max . . .”

Carl ducked his head and hastened off the porch, hoping they wouldn’t hear him. He hurried back to the car and Rachel frowned at him as he slipped in behind the steering wheel. She looked up at the house and then back to his face and asked, “Why didn’t you knock? Why didn’t you get my bag?”

“Um, well,” he stalled, trying to think of something to say. He looked back up at the house stuttering, “They’re, ah . . . I think they’re, um . . . preoccupied.”

“Preoccupied?” Rachel wrinkled her brow in confusion. “What do you-” and then it hit her. “You mean?” He turned to look at her and his eyes were twinkling with laughter and he was biting his lip to try to keep it from bursting out of him. Her eyes widened until they were ready to pop out of her head and she blurted out, “They’re having sex? How do you know that? We’ve only been gone a few minutes. What makes you think they’re having sex?”

“I heard them,” Carl barked a laugh.

“You heard them?” Rachel let her mouth drop open. Of course, she knew she shouldn’t be surprised. She saw Liz groping Max under the table at dinner. As soon as she’d told Liz she didn’t need to wait any longer, she’d seen the change in the young woman. Liz wanted her man, and she was going to have him. “I can’t believe you heard them!”

“Well,” Carl could feel the heat in his face. “I heard a ‘Liz’,” he mimicked in a deep voice, “followed by a ‘Oh Max!’,” his voice rose in falsetto.

“Are you serious?” Rachel’s shoulders were shaking with laughter.

“If you want to wait here a minute,” Carl couldn’t stop the giggles, “at the rate they were going, they should be done in a minute!”

“Carl!” Rachel slapped him on the arm and then her eyes turned a deeper shade of green. That’s all it took, one touch on the hard muscles of his arm, and Liz wasn’t the only woman that wanted her man. Her hand dropped from his arm to his thigh, squeezing the hard muscles there too, and suddenly Carl wasn’t laughing anymore. His mouth was hanging open in surprise, and then he wet his lips and swallowed hard. Her hand moved up his thigh and Carl reached for the keys, trying to start the ignition.

“My place?” he blurted out when the engine roared to life.

“Mine’s closer,” Rachel said heatedly.

“Your place then,” Carl slammed the car into gear. Just before he peeled out into the street, he looked at Rachel and asked, “What about the movie?”

“Will you tear your shirt off for me?” Rachel squeezed the inside of his thigh.

“Will I . . . ?” he stared at her, feeling his breath becoming labored. “If you want me to.”

“Then you’re all the Hulk I need,” Rachel purred and Carl floored the accelerator, burning rubber as he speed into traffic.

Be right back with the rest!

posted on 17-Jun-2002 12:32:59 AM by Breathless
Captive Hearts
Part 88 con’t

The sound of tires spinning on pavement reached through to Max’s passion addled mind and he realized just how close he really was. He could feel the tightening in his balls already and he tried to switch gears, thinking about anything except what he was doing to Liz. He tried thinking about basketball, but that sport was too fast. He tried thinking about golf, but that wasn’t helping either. His mind drifted to baseball, with a man on first and the pitcher trying to hold him on.

“Foot off the mound, throw to first . . .” Max mumbled almost inaudibly while he tried to slow his movements inside Liz. There was a fine sheen of sweat covering them both and Max shifted his hand on her hips so he wouldn’t drop her. He pictured in his mind a baseball field with the pitcher trying to hold the runner on first. The ball flying through the air . . . the runner diving for the bag . . . baseball . . . gotta think about baseball . . .

“Max?” Liz asked breathlessly. “What are you doing?”

“What . . . do you . . . mean?” he said between deep thrusts. She was so warm. So wet inside.

“You were talking to yourself,” Liz managed to say as he rhythmically pressed her back into the door. She drew in a sharp breath when he stimulated a particularly sensitive spot. One or two more jabs like that and he’d have her floating on cloud nine.

“I’m trying not to hit a home run before you get a chance to bat,” Max panted next to her ear. He was so close.

“You’re what?” she said and then another groan rumbled in her throat as he sank deeply into her.

“Wait,” he moaned, forcing himself to stop.

“Max?” she ached at the sudden cessation of movement.

“Just wait a second,” his hands clutched the soft flesh of her butt. At this rate, he wouldn’t last another minute and he wanted her to enjoy this with him. Looking around him, he suddenly wondered what he was thinking. Their first time together since Matthew’s birth and it was here? In the living room? Against the door? What was wrong with him? With labored breath, he whispered against her ear, “Not here. Let’s go in the bedroom.”

He felt her nod her head and struggling to regain his control, he lifted her hips and pulled out of her, instantly regretting the loss of her heat. Carrying her, with her legs still wrapped around his hips, he headed down the hallway. His pants began to sag lower on his thighs and he stopped and shook them off, trying with all his might not to trip and land on the floor. He peeled her dress the rest of the way off and then he resumed his trek to the bedroom.

Once inside, he spotted Matthew’s cradle right away. He was sleeping peacefully, like a good little boy, but Max didn’t want to be quiet. He looked at Liz, seeking her approval which she gave with a nod of her head, and he held his hand out, pointing it directly at the cradle. It lifted from the ground with a blue sheen of energy all around it, and then it slowly floated from the room. Max guided it into Matthew’s own room, and then closed the bedroom door half way.

Turning to Liz, he asked, “Is that okay?” He didn’t want her to feel like he was getting rid of Matthew.

“Absolutely,” Liz smiled, with her arms around his shoulders and her body pressed against his.

Max walked them over to the bed and he crawled on top of the covers. He knelt on the bed, with Liz sitting on his thighs, and he stared into her beautiful face. He had vowed to make love to her for hours, and he thought now maybe he could. His control, absent just a few minutes ago, was back now in full force.

Kneeling in a comfortable position with Liz straddling his legs, Max lifted her hips and slid into her again, slowly, savoring each push into her depths. For the first time in months, Max was able to make love to Liz face to face, flat stomach to flat stomach, rib to rib, soft breast touching hard chest.

Their bodies rocked together, with her arms around his shoulders, and his arms around her back, their hips rocking in a rhythm that their years of loving had honed to perfection. Their foreheads touched with their eyes staring into the soul of the other’s, watching the passion play on their faces. Max wanted to see her face as he made love to her. He wanted to see her when he made her sigh, when he made her tremble, when he drove her to the heights of pleasure. He wanted to watch her face as the first tremors of her orgasm coursed through her. Just feeling her body’s reaction to his loving wasn’t enough. He wanted to see it all.

Her head fell back exposing her throat to him and his lips kissed a trail of fire along her skin. She arched further and his hand slipped into her hair, cupping the back of her head. His mouth moved down the valley between her breasts, wanting to touch her there just as much as she wanted him to. She was fuller now, heavy with nourishment for Matthew, and he could taste that sweet nectar as his tongue touched her nipple.

He licked at her drops, feeling his own passions soar at the sounds escaping from her throat. Moans, rich and deep, telling him how he was making her feel. His lips settled over her and her nipple filled his mouth, hard and weeping with her milk. Unable to resist, he sucked at her, tasting that sweet fluid as it filled his mouth and flowed down his throat. A cry burst from her throat as her orgasm exploded and Max looked up to see the radiance on her face. Her eyes were closed and her mouth was open with her moans rising in pitch as her body crested one wave and then another. She quivered all around him and he fought off his own release, trying to hold out while her inner walls constricted around his sex.

His breathing was sharp, in rhythm with each thrust into her body, rushing from his lungs as he entered her, filling her soft femininity with his hard maleness. His mouth moved from one breast to the other, teasing it to a hard tip and then surrounding it with his hungry lips. He sucked on that side and her orgasm peaked again, causing her to cry out with renewed vigor. Her nipples, always a source of pleasure for her, were exceptionally sensitive to stimulation now and Max reveled in the knowledge that he could take her to such heights of pleasure.

As her orgasm ebbed, Liz looked down on Max and her hands moved to cup his face. His mouth separated from her breast, looking up at her with his eyes shining with his desires and their mouths came together, lips hungrily consuming lips, tongues tasting, touching, stroking internal fires. She pushed gently against his shoulders and he leaned backwards from his kneeling position, stretching his legs out as he settled into his back.

They didn’t miss a beat as they changed into this new position and he let Liz take over control. He looked up at her as she hovered above him, riding him slowly at first and then with more abandoned as she set the pace. His hands roamed over her body, gliding along her legs, touching her thighs, pausing at her hips to synchronize their movements. It was good to feel her curves again, and not have to worry about denting anything.

Her hair dangled down from her face as she leaned over him, brushing against his chest, thrilling and tantalizing him. It tickled his skin, just adding to the myriad of sensation he was feeling, and then her hands began a slow exploration of his body, touching his shoulders, his arms, the muscles of his chest. Her fingertips brushed down the ridges of his stomach, feeling the way his muscles clenched with each thrust of his sex into her welcoming body. Her fingers moved lower, tangling in the dark hair where their bodies were joined and his eyes were drawn there, watching their intimate dance.

She knew he liked to watch her touch herself and she did that for him now, smiling in satisfaction at his sudden inhalation of breath. Her fingers slid between their bodies, separating her wet lips, touching her mound of nerves and drawing in a sharp breath of her own. A moan rumbled in her throat and his hands tightened on her hips as he took back control, driving his body into hers. Her fingers danced faster as he picked up the pace, with moans of his own echoing in the room. His whole body was on fire and only she knew how to quench the flames. He felt her walls tighten around him at the same time she threw her head back with a passionate cry and she rode out another climax. His name floated like music from her lips and her body sang to him with the melody caressing his soul. She collapsed onto him as her orgasm waned and Max held onto her, surrounding her with his arms while she tried to catch her breath.

Their heavy breathing replaced their moans and then she lifted her head from his chest and his hands slipped into the hair behind her ears, nearly overcome with the look of rapture he saw on her face. His head lifted off the bed while his hands pulled her downward and their lips met in a heated kiss. He was nearing his own completion and with a fluid motion he rolled them over, Max above her now, devouring her mouth as he pressed her down into the bed.

He moved in her with long, deep strokes, feeling the tightness of her inner passage surrender to his onslaught, yielding without resistance to his presence inside her. The sweat on their bodies flowed freely, mingling with other bodily fluids and the scent of their loving sent him closer and closer to fulfillment. His mouth attacked hers with fervor and his hands cupped her butt, lifting her up to meet his powerful strokes.

Tearing his lips away from hers with a groan, he looked into her eyes and said heatedly, “Come for me again, Liz. I want to feel you come with me,” he was panted heavily. “I’m almost there . . .”

Her breathing was raged as he drilled his sex into her, and her dark eyes were nearly black with rising passion. He’d never brought her to a fourth climax before, not in one lovemaking session, and he wanted more than anything to be able to do that now. He wanted that ultimate moment, when their bodies would climax together, experiencing the most intimate sensations a man and a woman could share. Her walls tightened on him and he knew she was close, if he could only wait.

He dug his knees into the bed to get better traction and her legs lifted higher, changing the angle of his penetration just enough to heighten her stimulation. He pulled one hand out from behind her and his fingers danced along her skin, feeling it quake and quiver as he touched her. His fingers rose up her side, brushing the swell of her breast, then up the curve of her neck until he cupped the side of her face. He kissed her hard, and passionately, and as he parted from her to look into her eyes, he touched her right temple with his fingertips.

She followed suit, moving her left hand from his back and mirroring his actions, caressing his cheek and then touching his right temple. With their eyes locked together, a connection opened between them and they became one, sharing and experiencing the sensations of the other. Her thoughts and emotions and sensations flowed into him, and his flowed back into her. Their alien bond united them together, closer than a man and woman could ever be in the normal human way. The heated passion of their bodies escalated as their connection deepened and his movements drove them to the very edge of paradise.

They cried out together as a shattering climax engulfed them both, Max filling her with his precious fluids in wave after wave of intense release. Her body contracted around him, milking him of each silken drop, feeling him pouring his heart and body and soul into her, a joining that was much more than just physical. It was emotional and psychological as well, two people that needed each other just to be able to breath, to exist, to live.

They shuddered together in the aftermath, neither one ready to let go of their connection for long minutes as their love knew no bounds, freely flowing between them. No words were necessary between them and no words were spoken. Their bodies were so in tune with each other their heartbeats pounded through their veins in the same matching rhythm. Their minds shared each thought, each emotion, and it wasn’t until Max sensed his weight crushing her that he separated from her, much to her regret.

Stretching out beside her, Max wrapped her in his arms, cradling her head against his chest with her body molding against his side. His lips brushed against the top of her head and he sighed contentedly, and when he spoke, the words came from deep inside him, words that she had heard before, yet words that felt new and exciting every time he said them.

“I love you, Liz. More than I can ever say.”

“I know,” Liz shifted her hand to cover his heart. “I feel it in you, here, every time you touch me, every time you look at me, every time you kiss me.” Lifting her head to look at him, she smiled, “It’s your love that makes me whole. I’d only be a shadow of myself, without you.”

His lips were drawn to hers and they kissed, a loving and tender kiss, and when they parted he shifted lower on the bed, rolling onto his side so he could see her better. He stretched out, supporting his head with his right hand, with his elbow pointing toward the headboard while he looked down at her radiant face. A smile lit his own features as his gaze moved over her body and then his own.

She lay close to him, resting on her back, with their bodies touching because they couldn’t stand to be apart. Her shoulder touched the hard muscles of his chest, brushed by the hair that grew under his arm, exposed now by the way he was laying. His male member pressed lightly against her hip, soft now that their passion was spent, but she found the sensation erotic just the same. Their warm thighs touched and their feet entwined together with the familiarity of many passionate nights spent together.

Looking at the sparkle in his eyes, she had to ask. “What? What’s so funny?”

“Look,” was all he said and her eyes followed the direction of his gaze. When she focused on her own chest, he said, “You leaked.”

Her eyes grew wide and she exclaimed, “Oh my god!” She was covered in a sheen of breast milk. It had leaked from her during their lovemaking and then she could see that it coated his chest as well. “Max, we need a shower!”

“Let me . . .” he offered, and raised his hand. It glowed with a soft golden tint and he waved it over her skin, and then his own, removing the bluish/white looking fluid and their sweat as well. It wasn’t as much fun as taking a shower together, but this would do. He didn’t want to get up right now.

They were quiet for a while, lost in their own thoughts and then Max broke the silence. “Liz . . .”

It was almost a sigh as he spoke her name softly in the dimly lit bedroom. The fingers of his left hand traced intricate patterns along her breast, along the fullness of the underside and then feathery touches up the side until his fingertips circled around her nipple, still erect from his arousing touch.

“Hum . . .?” Their forced abstinence had been as difficult for her as it had been for him. Basking in the glow of their lovemaking, she felt intensely satisfied.

He met her eyes in a darting glance and then he returned to watching how her skin reacted to his touch. Even after all this time, his touch still had the power to make her tremble, to make her nerve endings quiver in respond to him. His fingers dropped lower, tracing the outline of her ribs and then on to her flat stomach, no longer swollen with burgeoning life. It was nice to have ‘his’ Liz back, even though sharing her with Matthew had been wondrous, not to mention adventuresome.

She watched the twinkle in his eyes dim and his face took on a more somber countenance as his hand dropped below her navel. She lifted her hand from her ribs, letting it fall against his chest and she let the back of her fingers gently stroke across his hard muscles.

“What is it Max?” she urged. Whatever it was, he was having a hard time saying it.

His fingers found the line of puckered skin he was seeking below her navel and he moved along the length of it. He swallowed hard as he finally met her eyes and holding her gaze and said, “I want to heal this.”

Her hand covered his and brought his movements to a stop. His fingers rested on the line of imperfection, reminding her of how and when this scar was formed, and he could see the light in her eyes dim now, even as a smile of encouragement tried to venture forth.

“You will,” she said.

“When?” he asked, already knowing the answer.

“When Ellie comes home.”

Looking into her eyes, he saw no doubt there. She wasn’t plagued by the same fears that wouldn’t let him sleep at night. For her, it wasn’t a matter of if Ellie came home, but simply when.

“How can you be so certain?” He looked into the depths of her eyes, wondering where she got her strength, how she could believe in something that for him seemed like only a dream.

“I just know,” her hand lifted to cup his cheek. “I believe in you, in us, in our family. I believe that someday, we will be complete.”

His hope sprang eternal as he looked down into her confident eyes. He leaned down and kissed her, letting her faith spill over into him, raising his spirits once more. How could he doubt her? She was, after all, always right.

“Liz . . .” he mumbled once more between loving kisses.

“Yes?” she responded with a breathless sigh.

“When do you think Matthew will wake up?” His voice was muffled as he kissed along her throat.

She twisted her head to look at the clock on the nightstand and then inhaled sharply as his mouth moved down between her breasts. With breaths that were rapidly becoming more labored, she said, “I think . . . we have time . . . for a quicky.”

Max lifted his head and looked down at her with his eyes full of infectious desire, and just before his lips swooped down to take hers in a heated kiss, he said, “That works for me.”

I know, I know, it was pointless nookie and it did nothing to advance the plot, but I was really in the mood for nookie! What can I say? Come back next Sunday for further plot development.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 17-Jun-2002 1:17:08 AM ]
posted on 23-Jun-2002 11:21:21 PM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17

See page one for the link to parts 1 through 59.

Author note: So, it seems like everyone enjoyed that ‘pointless’ nookie! Well, I enjoyed writing it for you! Now, let’s get on with the story. I’m posting this a little early tonight in hopes that Carol will get to read it, if it’s not too late already since our time zones are different. You’ve been waiting for this one for a while now! I hope it will prove worth the wait.

Captive Hearts
Part 89

Carl awoke with a sense of disorientation and then a slow smile spread over his face when he realized where he was. The bed he was waking up in belonged to someone else. It was a strange feeling for a man who had slept alone for the past ten years.

Rachel stirred next to him and his smile widened as he breathed in her unique scent. He pressed his nose in closer to the skin behind her ear, breathing in her sweet and spicy smell. Maybe that unique blend came from the tons of Tabasco sauce she liked to poured over her food. He thought he liked Tabasco sauce, but his use of the condiment paled in comparison to hers. Well, whatever it was that caused her spicy scent, he sure liked it. Breathing her in was like inhaling an aphrodisiac.

His hand rose up her ribs and cupped her ample breast, feeling the warmth of her soft flesh overflow his palm. His nose nuzzled her throat and her sensual scent stimulated the carnal desires that had lain dormant inside him for too long. He had a lot of lost time to make up for. She stretched and then he felt her press her hips back toward him, while a chuckle escaped her lips.

“Carl,” she reached her hand behind her, touching his hip and muscular thigh. “I think you’re a morning man.”

“What would give you that impression?” he asked as his hips pressed against her.

“Oh, just a feeling,” she smiled appreciatively.

She shifted onto her back and Carl wasted little time in claiming her lips. His passionate kiss quickly fanned her passion while his roaming hand sent shivers of desire throughout her. Kneading, squeezing, stroking her intimate places was something he was definitely good at.

The harsh jangle of the phone interrupted them and Rachel fumbled for it while Carl teasingly kissed her throat and then slowly moved his lips lower. She pulled it by the cord and then just as she was about to answer, Carl’s tongue reached her highly sensitive nipple.

“Hello?” she squeaked and drew in a quick breath. His tongue was doing the most amazing things to her and it took her a moment to realize who was on the other end of the line. Her focus shifted to the phone as she listened intently and Carl could feel the change in her. Duty was calling. He gave her space and Rachel sat up, swinging her legs over the side of the bed and reaching for a pen to scribble some notes. “When did they start? . . . How far apart are they? . . . Yes . . . Yes . . . I have your address . . . Okay, I’ll see you soon.”

“Mother Nature on the phone?” Carl asked as she hung up.

“Yes,” she laughed. “It looks like Juanita Gonzales is going to have her twins today. Sorry Carl,” she pressed her hand against his chest.

“S’okay,” Carl smiled. “When Mother Nature calls, Rachel listens. I remember.” She laughed at that and the sound warmed him inside. “Do you have to leave right now?”

“I’ve got time to take a shower, but then I should really go. Juanita tends to have fast labors.”

“How many kids does she have?” Carl asked quizzically.

“Six!” Rachel laughed as his eyes popped. “That’s right, after today, it’ll be eight!” She started to pull the covers aside and then exclaimed, “Darn! I still need to swing by Max and Liz’s house to get the bag I left there yesterday. I’m gonna need it.”

“Well, you better get in that shower quickly!” Carl urged. “I’ll go make the coffee.” He knew she liked to start the day with a warm cup of joe.

“Thanks,” she kissed him and then rose from the bed. He watched her voluptuous body as she moved across the bedroom to the bathroom and when she was out of sight he let out a deep sigh. Willing his body to calm down, he pulled the covers back and retrieved his pants off the chair where he had left them last night. He pulled them on and then sat on the end of the bed to slip on his socks and shoes. He returned to the chair and slid his arms into the sleeves of his shirt, not bothering to button it yet, and headed out toward the kitchen.

He rubbed his hand across his bare chest, remembering how it felt when Rachel was touching him a few minutes ago. He could tell that she liked to play with the hair on his chest, which was a damn good thing because he was a hairy son of a bitch. He was humming softly, some nameless tune, as he prepared the coffee and as soon as it was ready, he poured her a cup. He added two spoonfuls of sugar and then shaking his head, he got the Tabasco sauce and poured that in there too. How she could drink coffee with Tabasco sauce in it, he didn’t know, but she liked it that way. He stirred it and then headed back toward the bedroom.

“Coffee’s ready,” he called out. He could hear the water still running so he headed to the bathroom to take it to her. He crossed over the threshold with her name on his lips and then he stopped dead when he saw her. His fingers slackened on the handle of the cup and it fell unnoticed from his grasp as he stared at the blood covering the bathroom floor. The cup shattered, spilling hot coffee all around him and his shoes crunched on the glass as he ran to her prone figure.

“Rachel!” he shouted. Jesus! Holy Mother of God. What happened? She was lying halfway out of the shower stall, holding her hand to her head and blood was flowing over her fingers and down her arm and dripping from her elbow onto the tiled floor. He fell to his knees as he reached her, touching her face and then her hand, moving it aside so he could assess her injury. “Jesus. Rachel, what happened?”

“Ca . . .” she struggled to say but her tongue felt too thick. She knew that she had slipped on the soap and struck her head, but she wasn’t able to get the words out. She’d been a Nurse Practitioner for many years, and she knew this was much more than a simple bump on the head. Trying to focus on his face, she forced out, “Carl . . . call Max.”

“Jesus, Rachel,” Carl tried not to panic. “I’m calling an ambulance. You’ve lost so much blood-”

“No!” she squeezed his arm. “No am . . . no am . . .” She couldn’t get the word out. She couldn’t go to the hospital, but Carl didn’t know that. She had to make him listen. “No ambulance. Call Max. Tell him to come . . . quickly.”

“Rachel, you-”

“Now!” and then she slumped toward the floor, trying not to black out. Carl raced back into the bedroom and grabbed the phone off the nightstand, punching in the numbers he knew by heart.

* * * * *

Max lazily drew the covers back and sat up on the side of his bed, stretching contentedly with his arms over his head. He could hear Liz humming in the next room as she tended to Matthew, who had been one good little boy last night. Oh yes indeed. The little guy hadn’t interrupted them once. Max rose from the bed and stretched again before dropping his hand to rub over his flat abs. He probably wouldn’t need to hit the gym today, not after the workout Liz had given him last night.

A smile lit his face at the memory and he absently tugged at himself as he walked over to the dresser. Yes, Liz had really made him work for his dessert last night. He slipped on a pair of boxers and then a clean pair of jeans and turned to the closet to get himself a shirt. The phone rang just as he stepped back into the bedroom fastening his buttons and he called out, “I’ll get it.”

* * * * *

Carl felt his panic rising as it rang once, twice, three times and then he heard the familiar voice in his ear. “Max! Rachel’s been hurt!”

“Carl?” Max’s smile turned into a frown and he turned to see Liz standing in the bedroom doorway. “Carl? Is that you?”

“Max,” Carl tried to speak calmly. “Rachel hit her head and she’s bleeding, badly. She wants you.”

“Where are you?” Max was instantly alert, sensing that this was serious. He’d never heard Carl sound so scared before and he knew Rachel wouldn’t have asked for him unless it was bad.

“Her house. Hurry. Bring her medical bag.”

“Her what?” He looked at Liz with confusion and concern on his face.

“Her bag,” Carl was fighting his panic. “She left it there yesterday, in the baby’s room.” That must be why Rachel wanted Max, so he could bring her the bag and she could treat herself. But there was so much blood . . .

“Rachel’s bag,” Max said and pointed toward Matthew’s room. Liz disappeared into the hallway and reappeared with it in tow a moment later. “Got it,” Max barked into the phone.

“Max,” Carl’s voice was trembling. “Hurry.”

“We’re on the way.”

* * * * *

Max burst through the door without knocking, with Liz rushing in behind him, trying not to jostle Matthew. A quick scan of the living room showed they weren’t there and he headed deeper into the house. “Carl? Rachel?”

His voice was loud as it bounced off the walls and Carl answered him with a shout. “Back here!”

Max followed the sound to a bedroom, Rachel’s bedroom, and he could hear movement coming from inside the bathroom. He burst through the doorway to see Rachel semi-conscious, lying on the bathroom floor with a robe draped over her body. There was blood on the tile around her and Carl was holding a bloodstained towel to her head.

“What happened here?” Max nearly shouted and fell to his knees beside Rachel. He looked into Carl’s frightened eyes, trying to think of a way to get him out of the room.

“She was taking a shower,” Carl tried to explain. “I was in the kitchen making coffee and I guess she slipped and hit her head. She wouldn’t let me call the paramedics or an ambulance. She kept insisting that I call you.”

Max had moved Carl’s hand away from the laceration on Rachel’s scalp and as he inspected the wound, he used his powers to feel for the extent of her injuries. He could feel the hemorrhaging inside her brain, a bleed that needed to be healed immediately, and he turned to Liz, silently begging her to get Carl out of there.

She could see in his eyes that this was serious and Liz slipped her hand around Carl’s arm and drew him to his feet. “Carl, help me find some first aid supplies. Rachel keeps them in the kitchen.”

“No,” Carl pulled away from Liz’s grasp. “I want to stay with-”

“Carl!” Max said forcefully. “Go help Liz.” He spit the words out, desperate for Carl to get out of the bathroom. He could feel Rachel slipping away. The bleed was intensifying and causing pressure on the brain. If he didn’t heal her soon, he wouldn’t be able to heal her at all.

“But-’ Carl stammered and then let Liz pull him out of the bathroom. She rocked Matthew with one arm to keep him quiet and kept a firm grip on Carl as she led him to the kitchen. Opening a cupboard, she searched for the supplies. She knew where they were, so she stayed away from that cupboard, trying to stall to give Max enough time to do what he needed to do.

“They’re over here,” Carl crossed the room and flung open a cabinet door. Liz watched helplessly as he grabbed what he thought might be needed and then raced back toward the bathroom.

“Carl, wait!” Liz cried out and Matthew began to fuss. “Carl, please!”

Carl burst back into the bathroom and stopped dead in his tracks. Max was hovering over Rachel, just as he had been a few minutes ago, but this time he wasn’t just inspecting her wound. His hands were flanking the sides of her head with his fingers threaded through her blood streaked hair and his thumbs pressed against her forehead.

A yellow light radiated from his hands, a light that bathed the room with an unearthly glow. Carl could see the beads of sweat forming on his brow and see the strain on his face, almost as if he was in intense pain. What the hell was he doing?

“Carl, you shouldn’t be here,” Liz tried to pull him out of the bathroom.

“What’s going on here?” he demanded.

Max saw Rachel’s eyes begin to flutter and he pulled his hands away from her, breaking the connection. He slumped to the side, trying to draw in a breath. Healing always took a toll on him physically, and the more extensive the healing, the worse it drained him. Crouched on the floor, he turned to look up at Carl, afraid of what he was going to see there.

“What the hell did you do, Max?” Carl stared down at him with wide eyes. Rachel stirred and sat up and Carl fell to his knees beside her. With his hand fluttering around her head and her face, he asked, “Are you alright? What . . . what . . .?”

She clutched at the robe that he had draped over her earlier to cover her naked body and then she felt Max stand up and back away. Carl was staring back and forth between her and Max with obvious confusion on his face and she didn’t know what to say. It wasn’t supposed to happen like this. He wasn’t supposed to find out this way. Looking at him fearfully, she whispered, “Carl . . .”

Max backed out of the bathroom, taking Liz with him, and he drew his hand through his hair in agitation as they made their way to the living room. Rocking Matthew in with one arm, she rested her hand on Max’s shoulder and asked quietly, “What are you going to do now?”

“I guess I have to tell him,” Max rubbed his hand over his face. He began pacing back and forth and whispered, “What other choice do I have? I mean, he saw what I did. There’s no way I can fake my way out of this one. Not with Carl. He’s too smart for that. I have to tell him the truth-”

“That would be a good start,” Carl said, staring at Max from the archway between the living room and the foyer.

Rachel stood beside Carl and was looking at Max with both gratitude and deep regret. Gratitude because he had just saved her life. Regret because by doing so, she had forced him to expose his secret. “Max . . . I’m sorry . . .”

“It’s okay Rachel,” Max tried to mollify her. “Don’t blame yourself.”

“What did you do, Max?” Carl asked, frozen to the spot while he waited for an answer that made sense. “What exactly happened in there?”

Rachel moved into the living room, coming up beside Liz, and cinching the belt on the robe she was now wearing. Carl stayed in the entryway with only his eyes moving from one person to the other. He wanted the truth, and he wasn’t moving until he got it.

“Rachel was hurt,” Max said with his eyes riveted to Carl. “I made her better.”

“You made her . . . you healed her.” Carl finally allowed himself to admit what he had seen. Max slowly nodded his head. Liz was standing protectively next to him and slightly in front of him. Carl’s eyes moved to Rachel and he said, “He healed you.”

“Yes,” Rachel nodded.

“You can heal people,” Carl focused his attention on Max again.

“Yes,” Max watched Carl with a cautious eye.

“Like Cindy Morgan’s broken arm,” Carl began to put it all together.

“Yes,” Max nodded, not surprised that Carl was able to put the pieces together so fast.

“And that day, at Maryvale hospital, when you broke your hand . . .” He watched Max nodded again and then his eyes shifted quickly to Liz and back. “You healed a bullet wound in Liz.”

“Yes,” Max stepped in front of her at the mention of her name, willing to protect her and Matthew with his life if necessary.

“What are you, Max?” Carl finally asked. “You’re not clairvoyant, or one of those religious healers. You’re something . . . else.”

“I’m just a man, Carl. I may be different, but I’m just a man. I love my wife, and my family and my friends. I’ll do anything I have to, to protect them.”

“It’s not just you, is it?” he ventured and the look on Rachel’s face said it all. “That’s why Rachel wanted you to come over, why she wouldn’t let me call an ambulance. That’s why Liz wouldn’t go to the hospital to have Matthew. God,” his eyes narrowed in understanding. “That’s why they took your daughter. Because she was . . . different. But how different? I didn’t believe them, but the guard, the orderly, they both said she wasn’t . . . human.”

The word hung in the air until Max broke the silence. “Ellie is half human, just like Matthew.”

Carl looked at Liz, trying to take in all that he was hearing. No wonder Max always seemed to carry the guilt of the world on his shoulders when it came to her. The things that had happened to her were caused because of him, because she had chosen to be with him, knowing he wasn’t human.

“If you’re not human, Max,” Carl darted his eyes to Rachel and then back to Max, “then what are you?”

“We came from a world that died,” Max admitted the truth, hoping Carl was the man he thought he was. “There aren’t very many of us and all we want to do is live our lives in peace. We’re not a threat to you or anyone else. Carl, we just want to survive.”

“You’re an . . .”

The word ‘Alien’ screamed in Carl’s head and to his utter amazement Max nodded his head. Jesus Christ, Max was standing there telling him he was a freaking ALIEN! Carl backed away involuntarily and without conscious thought he looked around to flee. He’d been partners for six months with a fucking ALIEN! He wrenched the front door open and bolted for his car.

“Carl,” Max cried out and his shoulders sagged at his reaction, but he didn’t try to chase him down. Rachel had burst into tears and Liz was trying to comfort her while Matthew’s cries became more strident. Max paced the room, trying to decide what to do. “I better call Daniel. We’re all at risk now. Damnit! It won’t be long before he figures out who else is involved here. Michael, Isabel, Josh and Annie, everybody. If he turns us in, if he goes to the FBI-”

“I’m not going to the FBI,” Carl said from the doorway. He had gotten as far as the front walkway before he came to his senses. It had been a shock, a terrible shock, but once it sunk in, and all that he had seen and heard clicked into place, he realized it really didn’t change anything. Max was still Max. He was like the kid brother he’d never had. He felt closer to Max than anyone he’d ever known in his life, except Michelle . . . and Rachel.

He couldn’t even look at Rachel right now. It must have hurt her something awful when he reacted that way. He’d run away like she was some kind of freak and he could still hear the echo of her crying in his head. He had to figure out a way to fix this, because after opening up his heart to her and feeling her open up to him, he couldn’t imagine living the rest of his life without her in it.


“I need to talk to Rachel,” Carl cut Max off. His eyes darted in her direction, so afraid of what he was going to see there, but she was staring at the floor. “Rachel. We need to talk about this.” She didn’t move at first, still didn’t look at him, and it wasn’t beneath him to beg. “Please.”

She met his eyes briefly but he couldn’t read her expression. It was like she was behind a mask, hiding her feelings from him. As he thought about it, he imagined she had spent most of her life hiding in one way or another. She moved past him, headed toward her bedroom and he followed a few paces behind her. When they reached her room she finally spoke.

“You can leave the door open if it makes you feel safer.”

The dejected tone of her voice, the bite of her words, caused an ache deep inside him. She was feeling this way because of him. His reaction had done this to her. He pointedly closed the door and then walked up behind her. “Rachel, please. Look at me.”

“I can’t,” she said with a tremble in her voice.

“I know you’re upset because of the way I reacted.” He wanted so much to touch her, to take her in his arms and hold her the way he had this morning, before everything turned upside down. “In my defense, all I can say is that it was a shock.”

“Apparently,” Rachel said softly. “I’m sorry Carl. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you the truth, but . . . but . . . it’s not like I could have said “Oh, by the way, my father’s Irish and my mother’s from Mars.”

“Is that where you’re from?” Carl asked, sounding amazed. “From Mars?”

“No,” Rachel laughed. She couldn’t help it. “I’m not from Mars.”

“Then where?” he asked. Was he really having this conversion, or was this just a really vivid dream?

“I’m from Earth, Carl,” she said, turning around to face him. “I was born right here. It’s my mother who wasn’t. She comes from a place you’ve never heard of, so far away you’ve never seen it.”

“Rachel,” he lifted his hand to touch her arm. At the contact she flinched away from him and he was once more staring at her back.

“I understand it if you find me abhorrent-”

“Rachel, don’t-”

“-or a freak-”

“Rachel,” he grabbed her arm and spun her around. “You’re not a freak and I don’t find you abhorrent.” He stared into her eyes and then he told her what he’d been wanting to tell her all week. “I love you, Rachel. I don’t care if you’re from Mars or Pluto or Alpha Centuri.”

“Are you sure, Carl? Do you really want someone who’s not completely human?”

“Answer me this . . . Is this who you really are?” His hands moved from her shoulders, sliding down her sides, her ribs, down until they came to rest on her hips. “Is this your body, or just a shell, with something else underneath?”

“We all have something else underneath,” Rachel replied earnestly, “but yes, this is who I am.”

“Good,” Carl smiled, “because I’m kind of addicted to you this way. I mean, if you were three feet tall and green, that might be a bit of an adjustment.” She laughed then, a deep, sensual laugh and Carl pulled her against his chest, kissing her deeply to show her that nothing had changed for him. Her response equaled his and when they broke apart he asked, “Forgive me? For the way I reacted?”

“Yes,” Rachel sighed. “Forgive me? For not telling you the truth sooner?”

“Yes.” They kissed again and then Carl took her hand and led her back to the living room.

Max’s gaze was riveted to them as they stepped into view and the first thing he noticed was the way Carl was holding Rachel’s hand, with his fingers interlaced with hers. With a sigh of relief, Max pulled Liz and Matthew into his arms. He’d been right about Carl after all. He was the kind of man Max thought he was.

“I think there are a lot of things you need to tell me, Max,” Carl said firmly. “Let’s get started.”

Come back next Sunday to see what happens next

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 23-Jun-2002 11:28:22 PM ]
posted on 26-Jun-2002 12:38:30 AM by Breathless
BelieveInTrueLove originally wrote:
I'm glad that Carl knows, fate stepped in and took the decision on when to tell Carl right out of Max's hands, it wasn't as bad as he had expected.

I do however need clarification on something. It is my understanding that Max is human and his essence (which I assume is his soul) was that of an alien. If his body is human then wouldn't his children also be inhabiting a human body and just have the heightened abilities that are also human. I' know I'm confusing some of your story with the show but this has always been a point of confusion for me. They took human DNA and somehow infused the alien essence and created a human with an alien soul, wouldn't their blood be red, if the only thing that is alien is their essence?


Jane, in this story, Max is pure alien. His world was dying and they sent out ships that took hundreds of years to reach earth, looking for a new world they could live on. Max, Isabel and Michael were in stasis pods, like suspended animation. When the aliens landed, and mated with humans, their children (like Rachel) became hybrids. Nothing that happened on the show after Sexual Healing happened in this story. No essence, no Nasedo, no Tess, no skins, no Granilith. The closest Max gets to being a King happens, oh, around Part 101.

I know this story has been going on forever and it's probably hard to remember all the things that happened about 50 or 60 parts ago!

If you (any of you) have any other questions, feel free to ask! (Except when Ellie is coming home. That's a secret!)

See you all on Sunday.
posted on 1-Jul-2002 12:15:34 AM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17

The link to parts 1 to 59 is on page 1.

Author note: I’m glad everyone is happy that Carl finally knows. It was good to see some neebies joined this week. sgoddess11486, IceRose, gal and LttleMrmade. I hope you enjoy the rest of the ride. To all of you that have stuck with me through these last 89 parts, thank you, thank you, thank you.

I know you’re all anxious, so let’s just jump into the next part to see what happens next . . .

Captive Hearts
Part 90

Carl and Max sat in the donut shop across from the police station, each of them with a sweet confection on a paper plate in front of them and a steaming cup of coffee beside it. It was the start of a new day. The start of a new week. The start of a new relationship that went much deeper than being partners on the force. Carl had entered a new world, a world he’d never dreamed existed, and his head was swirling with a multitude of questions.

“How’s the coffee?” Carl asked.

“Good,” Max answered. A small smile curled his lips and he glanced up at his partner with a knowing glint in his eye. “Much better than usual.”

Carl nodded, understanding that look, and knowing what he was referring to. For the first time since they met, all those months ago, Max was drinking his coffee the way he liked it. A little cream, a little sugar, heavy on the Tabasco sauce. It made Carl’s stomach churn.

“You look a little green,” Max commented and then blew on his coffee before he took a sip.

“I can deal with Tabasco sauce,” Carl smiled easily. He glanced around the nearly empty shop and said, “At least you’re not like the aliens in that movie V, where they ate rats, or that show Alien Nation, where they got drunk on spoiled milk. Talk about a case of morning breath! How’d you like to wake up to that?”

“No,” Max laughed. He was glad Carl felt comfortable enough to joke about it. He’d been so worried about telling him, and now that it was out in the open, he felt like a tremendous weight had been lifted from him. Raising his eyebrow, he said, “I thought you didn’t watch sci-fi.”

“I don’t,” Carl answered quickly while he stirred his coffee. “Maybe I’ll have to change my viewing patterns now.” He paused for a moment and then continued. “I heard Chris and Tully debating the finer merits of both shows. Chris liked the bad ass aliens in V. Tully liked the compassion of the ones in Alien Nation.”

“Sometimes . . .” Max said quietly with his eyes fixed on the coffee, “ . . . sometimes they’re a little of both.”

“Yes,” Carl discerned his meaning. “I understand.”

“It wasn’t something I wanted to do . . . or planned out . . . or . . .” Max spoke softly, remembering a time when violence had ruled his actions. Carl knew what he was talking about.

“I believe you. What happened with Sandusky and Miller, it wasn’t your fault. It wasn’t something you set out to do. You were trying to protect the people you love.”

“I dream about it at night still,” Max stared into his coffee but what he saw was something else. “I have . . . nightmares. I see Miller turn the gun on himself . . . his head . . . exploding . . . his face . . . nothing but a-”

“It was self defense,” Carl gently reminded him.

“I wanted to do it, Carl,” Max lifted his haunted eyes to the older man. “Miller caused Liz so much pain, I wanted to see him suffer. I wanted to see him die.” Max looked away, not wanting to see his reaction to that. Carl was a man of the law. No one should take the law into their own hands. “I could have stopped. I could have forced him to drop the gun, so Jim could get it, and take him in. I could have . . . but I didn’t.”

“Jim Valenti ruled it a suicide. I would have too.”

“Knowing everything you know?” Max looked up at him sharply. “Knowing I had the power to stop?”

“Knowing everything you’ve told me,” Carl nodded. “Yes.”

Max took a deep breath and let it out, feeling the hitch in his throat. He glanced away quickly so that Carl couldn’t see the moisture that was gathering in his eyes. To receive absolution from Carl was more than he felt he deserved and it filled him with a sense of gratitude. Liz had been right about him after all.

A smile slowly crossed Max’s face and despite a sniffle, it quickly turned into a grin. Carl noticed the immediate change and unable to restrain his own smile, he had to ask, “What? What’s so funny?”

“Nothing,” Max couldn’t stop smiling.

“What?” Carl insisted.

“I was just thinking about Liz,” Max shook his head. He saw the unasked question on Carl’s face and he met his gaze head on. “Liz. She said I could trust you. She’s been telling me that for a while now, urging me to be completely honest with you.”

“You should listen to your wife,” Carl said with a smile.

“That’s what she keeps telling me,” Max laughed.

They sat in comfortable silence for a minute, each deep in their own thoughts, and then Max sensed a subtle shift in Carl’s demeanor. The older man shifted slightly and pulled his coffee cup closer, while Max waited for him to break the silence.

“Max? I need to ask you something,” Carl said seriously.

“Go ahead,” Max replied, feeling some apprehension from his tone. “You can ask me anything. No secrets. Not anymore.”

“That day, at the park,” Carl started. “Coyote Canyon.” Looking steadily into Max’s eyes, he asked, “Why did you heal her?”

“Cindy Morgan,” Max acknowledged, and then dropped his eyes.

“It was a broken arm, Max. Not life threatening. Why did you take the risk?” Carl thought he already knew the answer, but Max’s response would say much about who he was, what kind of man he was.

“She was a little girl,” Max said softly with his hand clutched around his warm coffee cup. “She was in pain, and I had the power to stop that pain.” His eyes slowly rose up to meet Carl’s and he asked, “How could I not help her?”

“Megan Thompson?” Carl asked. “Rape victim. She was hysterical before you saw her.”

“I helped her cope with what happened to her,” Max said in explanation.

“Heather Brooks?” Carl knew the names by heart. “Beaten and sexually assaulted.”

“She was so young,” Max said with a lump in his throat. “I helped her forget.”

Carl took that in, judging the mettle of the man across from him. He trusted Max to tell him the truth, no matter how much it might hurt. Steeling himself, he asked the question that had been on his mind since the revelations on Saturday. He hated asking it, but he needed to know.

Max could sense the turmoil in the man across from him, and when Carl finally got it out, the question was as painful for Max to hear, as it was for Carl to ask.

Carl’s eyes, fixed on the coffee in front of him, slowly rose to meet Max’s. “Could you have helped my wife?”

Max looked at the man across from him and weighed his answer carefully. He’d grown to have tremendous respect for him, as a man, as a person, as a friend. He loved him like a brother, and he knew he couldn’t give him anything but the truth.

“Yes,” Max answered softly.

Carl took a stilted breath and then nodded his head slowly. He took a sip of his coffee, even though the constriction in his throat didn’t want to let it go down. The truth was sometimes a difficult thing to swallow, but the past was in the past now, and that’s where it needed to stay. The knowledge wouldn’t bring her back.

“You okay?” Max asked, knowing how Carl felt. For a long time, he lived with the belief that he’d lost Liz.

“Yeah,” Carl nodded and pulled himself back together. He would always mourn the death of his first wife, for the beautiful soul that was lost so young, but he was learning to live again now. He knew the young man across from him had started him on that road back to the living. After all, it was through Max that he had met Rachel, and it was her love that was teaching him to live again. He shuddered to think of the empty future he would have lived if Max had never walked into his life on that morning back in January.

A sudden thought struck Carl and a slow smile began to spread over his face. Just a moment ago, for the first time in all these years, he had thought about Michelle as his ‘first wife’, a sign that he had finally accepted her death, and was moving forward with his life. Referring to Michelle as his first wife left open the possibility of him having a second, and he knew exactly who he would want that to be.

“What?” Max sensed the sudden change in Carl.

“Nothing,” Carl smiled. The image of Rachel’s beautiful face filled his mind and a sense of peace settled over him. He would always love Michelle, but he also knew with a certainty that it was possible to love twice in a lifetime. Rising to his feet, he lifted his coffee cup and said, “Let’s go. We have an appointment on Beardsley Road, and the days awastin’.”

* * * * *

“Mary . . .” Johnson said as he stepped into the kitchen. He almost laughed out loud at the sight before him. His dear Jenny was leaning over the countertop with flour dusting her cheeks and her little finger dipped in the cookie dough. Her cheeks were glowing with life and energy and it only served to reinforce his certainty that he was doing the right thing. They needed to start over, somewhere far away, where he could give her a reasonably normal life.

He wanted to be able to take her to the park, or the lake, or simply a walk around the block, but he knew he could never do that while they lived here. Max Evans was out there somewhere, maybe close, maybe not, but he couldn’t take the risk. He needed to take Jenny far away, so that monster could never find her.

“Mary,” he refocused his thoughts. “I’m going to the college to interview research assistants today. I have that trip coming up to California, and I need to get someone in place soon, to get started before I leave. I’ll probably be out most of the day.”

“Very good, Doctor,” Mary nodded to him. “Jenny and I will be just fine here, won’t we, dear?” she beamed at the child.

“We makin cookies!” Ellie exclaimed excitedly. Mary’s cookies were the best.

“Well save some for me!” Johnson laughed. Jenny wasn’t the only one that thought Mary’s cookies were the best. He was going to miss her when he had to let her go. Of course, she couldn’t go with them when they started their new life. Mary thought Jenny had Gunther’s disease, which prevented her being exposed to sunlight, but when he left Phoenix, he was leaving that lie behind him as well. Mary was part of that lie, so their new life couldn’t include her. He just hoped when the time came to go, that he could let her live. It would sadden him to have to kill her, but it might be necessary in order to cover his tracks. It would be hard on Jenny to live without Mary, but children were resilient. She would learn to adjust.

“I’ll have a plate of cookies waiting for you when you return,” Mary smiled at him. “That is, if Jenny doesn’t eat all the cookie dough before we get a chance to cook it!” She tapped Jenny on the nose with her fingertip and the two of them smiled affectionately at each other.

For Ellie, Mary was the center of her waking world. She couldn’t imagine living without her.

* * * * *

Carl tapped his fingers on the steering wheel while he waited for the light to change and filled Max in on their upcoming investigation. Max looked through the file in his lap while he listened. “Adam Pruett. 2 years old. His mother was arrested last week for child endangerment. She’s accused of leaving him alone for days on end while she shacked up with a new boyfriend. Adam was found by a neighbor when he kept hearing the boy crying. He was suffering from dehydration, starvation, an extreme case of diaper rash with deep scarring of the skin. The medical report indicated the stress the baby suffered caused him to chew his thumb right down to the bone. It wasn’t a pretty sight when they found him.” Carl ventured a look at Max, knowing how these cases affected him, especially the ones involving children close to Ellie’s age. He could see how his jaw clenched and he asked, “You gonna be alright, Max?”

“Yeah,” Max responded quickly and closed the file.

“That kind of abandonment can really scar a child,” Carl tread carefully. “Do you think there’s anything you might be able to do to help Adam?”

“I won’t know until I see him,” Max turned his gaze to Carl, “but I hope so.”

“Good enough,” Carl commented and then turned his attention back to the road. The expanse of Coyote Canyon Park loomed on the left and Carl slowed, looking for a parking place. Their destination was close.

* * * * *

Johnson rose from the sub-basement, headed off to interview research assistants. Professor Rawlings had arranged six interviews, promising students in the top percentage of their class. Hopefully, one of them would prove satisfactory. Rawlings had arranged for him to conduct the interviews at the college, saving him from having to disclose his location, and he’d been grateful for that. The less people that knew about him, the better.

He rose to the street level and made his way to his car, parked nearby on Beardsley Road.

* * * * *

Ellie climbed onto a chair at the kitchen table and set her drawing pad in front of her. The kitchen was full of the aroma of baking cookies and she smiled widely when Mary set a plate of warm ones, fresh out of the oven, right in front of her. Mary followed it with a cold drink of milk and Ellie exclaimed, “Bank you!”

“You’re welcome, dear,” Mary patted her head with an indulgent smile on her face. “I should save a few to take to the nursing home when I go to see Martha on Sunday.” Martha might not be coherent enough to eat any, but Mary knew how much the nursing staff liked them.

“Can I go wiff you?” Ellie asked innocently.

“No, dear,” Mary sat down on the chair next to her. She brushed Jenny’s hair back from her face, feeling her heart breaking at the poor child’s plight. What kind of life was this, cooped up inside these walls?

“Oh,” Ellie sighed. Doctor daddy wouldn’t let Mary take her outside. She turned her thoughts to her real daddy, and all the places he said he was going to show her. Opening her drawing tablet, she reached for her crayons and Mary thought she was changing the subject when she asked, “Hab you eber been to a carnibal?”

“Oh, yes,” Mary smiled. “My parents took Martha and I when we were young. We had the best times,” Mary remembered fondly.

Ellie looked up at her with her crayon poised in her hand and asked, “Did you ride the ferret wheel?”

“The ferret wheel?” Mary laughed out loud. “I think you mean Ferris Wheel,” Mary corrected. “And yes, I could ride the Ferris Wheel all night long.” A part of her wondered where Jenny had heard about a Ferris Wheel, and then decided the Doctor must have talked to her about it. Jenny’s next words confirmed it for her.

“Daddy’s gonna take me to the carnibal someday,” Ellie said wistfully. “Him promised.”

Mary smiled sadly down at the young girl, hoping it was a promise her father would someday be able to keep.

* * * * *

Johnson tossed a file onto the passenger seat of his car and then climbed in behind the steering wheel. He decided to double check everything one more time, opening the file to make sure everything Rawlings had faxed him was there. Candidate names. Backgrounds. Area of study. Strengths. They all looked viable on paper and he was looking forward to selecting one and completing his work. Now that he had made the decision to leave, he was anxious to finish his commitments here.

He could just pack up and leave now, but that would leave loose ends, work incomplete, an unfinished trail behind him. It would be best to bring his governmental grant to conclusion, and then slip quietly away.

Deciding everything was in order, he started the engine, turned on his blinker and pulled into traffic.

* * * * *

“Finally,” Carl muttered under his breath when he saw a car vacate a parking space up ahead. He put on his blinker, hoping no one would steal the spot before he got there. His luck held and he pulled to a stop, cut the engine and checked for on-coming traffic before opening the driver’s side door.

Max set the file on the floor at his feet, checked his shirt pocket for his notepad and a pen, and then climbed from the car. He met Carl on the sidewalk and looked up at the tall buildings that surrounded him. The apartments that faced the street had a beautiful view of the park, but what went on inside those walls was sometimes ugly. Just ask little Adam Pruett. Max wondered how anyone could bring a child into the world, innocent and helpless, and leave it to fend for itself. The thought sickened him.

“It’s the building at the end of the block,” Carl said and led the way. “Park Vista. Apartment 512. We’ll start there, check the state of the room Adam was kept locked up in, and then interview the neighbors after that. Adam was released from the hospital on Friday and is staying with an Aunt in another part of the city. We’ll go there when we finish here.”

Max was walking along beside Carl, listening closely, when suddenly his attention wavered. His steady strides faltered and then he came to a stop. With a questioning look on his face, his eyes scanned the sidewalk, the building façades, and finally drifted over to stare at the park.

“Max?” Carl asked uncertainly when he realized he had come to a stop in the middle of the sidewalk.

“Do you smell that?” Max asked.

“Smell what?” Carl frowned.

“Cookies,” Max smiled. “Do you smell cookies?” His mouth could almost taste them.

Carl couldn’t smell anything, and he wondered if Max had a heightened sense of smell because of his alien physiology. “There’s probably a bakery around here,” Carl suggested.

“Must be,” Max resumed his measured pace and they made their way to the end of the block. The smell of cookies dissipated as he traveled further down the sidewalk and by the time they reached their destination and stepped into the squalor of the apartment Adam had been confined in, Max had completely lost his appetite.

Hope you’ll all come back next Sunday to see what happens next.

posted on 4-Jul-2002 11:57:18 PM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17

Author note: Well, it’s still the 4th of July where I am, and the sound of fireworks is going off around me, though it isn’t dark enough yet to see anything. I decided to post this part early, before Sunday, because Max and Liz are about to have some fireworks of their own.

A note of clarification. When Max and Carl went into the building that Adam was in, they were not in the same building Ellie is in. Max walked past an apartment building, where he smelled the cookies, and as he walked further down the street, that smell dissipated. By the time he reached the apartment house that Adam was in, he couldn’t smell them anymore.

Captive Hearts
Part 91

Max slipped his key into the lock of his front door and entered the sanctuary of his home. He breathed in the familiar smells, listened to the familiar sounds, and he tried to put behind him the trauma he had seen during the day. With determination in his stride, he made his way to the kitchen, and when he couldn’t find the objects of his desire there, he went in search of them.

“Liz?” he walked down the hallway on the way to the bedrooms. He passed by Matthew’s room first and he paused to look inside. The rocking chair stood beside the cradle with a large brown teddy bear watching over his sleeping son. Max crossed into the room and hovered over him, watching his peaceful face, wondering how in the world anyone could ever hurt an innocent child.

Needing the physical contact, Max slipped his large hands underneath Matthew and lifted him up to his chest. The baby stretched and made little grunting noises in his throat, and then settled into the warmth of his father’s body. Max gently held him close with one arm supporting his weight and his other hand supporting his head, and his lips pressed against his soft dark hair.

Max had seen many things over these last months since he started working with Carl. Some had been sickening, abuse and sexual assault, like Heather Brooks. Some had been rewarding, like finding little Cindy Morgan and returning her safely to her family. But what he had seen today had hit him hard, maybe because of the guilt it resurfaced in him.

Adam Pruett had been abandoned by his mother, left alone in a squalid apartment for days on end. She had made a choice between her new boyfriend and her son, and her son had come out on the short end of the stick. That day at Haystack Mountain, Max had been confronted with a choice too, and his choice had been Liz, abandoning Ellie to whatever fate awaited her. He hated himself for having to make that choice, hated himself because he hadn’t gotten there in time to make the choice unnecessary, and the guilt of it never went away. He had abandoned Ellie that night so that Liz would live, and as much as he hated himself for it, he knew it was a choice he would make again.

Some days, the guilt of it made it almost impossible for him to face Ellie in their dreams. He knew it was his fault that she lived the meager life that she did, locked up in some research facility with Johnson poking and prodding her, hidden away from the world. His eyes brimmed with tears at the thought of what kind of life his daughter lived, all because he didn’t get to her in time.


Liz stood in the doorway to Matthew’s bedroom, watching Max holding his son. On another day, at another time, she would have found the sight beautiful beyond words, but she could feel his torturous emotions and she knew he was in pain. She could feel him sinking into a bottomless pit of self- reproach and her heart ached for him. It scared her too. Something had happened today, she wasn’t sure what, but it had affected him deeply.

Max blinked rapidly to clear his eyes and turned his gaze on Liz. He knew he wasn’t supposed to disturb Matthew when he was sleeping, but it didn’t look like she was mad. That was good. Liz could be a hellcat when she was mad.

“Hi,” he tried to say casually. “I missed the little guy today. I missed both of you.”

“And we missed you,” Liz walked over to him, lifting her arms to embrace him. Trying to take his mind off whatever was troubling him she said, “Matthew was talking up a blue streak about you all day.”

“What?” Max’s eyes widened incredulously. “Talking?”

“No,” Liz giggled at the look on his face. “But he was blowing bubbles and playing with his toes.”

“Wow,” Max was feeling better already. He looked down at his sleeping son, and played along with Liz’s lighthearted banter. “Blowing bubbles already. He must be a genius.”

“But of course,” Liz beamed proudly. “He’s our son, isn’t he?”

She steered Max out of the bedroom and toward the kitchen, knowing that it was more important for Max to have contact with his son right now than to have Matthew sleep quietly in his cradle. She also knew whatever had happened today, whatever was bothering him, she needed to coax it out of him. He always tried to shelter her from the things that were bothering him, but that only added to his burdens. She was determined not to let him suffer alone.

Max pulled a chair out from the table and sat down being careful not to jostle Matthew. Once again, Max was amazed by the amount of heat Matthew’s tiny body could generate. Holding him against his chest, he could feel the heat through the boy’s sleeper, through his own shirt and radiating into his skin.

“You look like you could use this,” Liz handed Max an ice cold Cherry Coke. He took it from her gratefully and downed nearly a third of it in one gulp. He was just about to take another deep drink when her next words made his hand stop in mid air. Sitting in the chair across from him, she asked, “What happened today? And don’t try to tell me nothing.”

Max eyed her, judging by the look on her face that she wasn’t going to settle for his normal evasive answers. She always knew when something was bothering him, and tonight she wasn’t going to let him hide it. His hand lowered the can to the tabletop and then automatically went to cup the back of Matthew’s head. Liz could see that it wasn’t only a loving and tender gesture of a father for his son. It was a protective gesture too.

“We were working on the new case today,” Max said quietly. “The Adam Pruett case.”

“Oh,” Liz was quiet for a moment. She’d heard about it on the news. “Was it bad?” she finally asked and reached for his hand, offering him her love and support. She knew how deeply these cases affected him.

Max closed his hand over hers, feeling her warmth and support and the tension slowly eased from his body. She could always make things better for him. “Physically, Adam will be fine. Mentally . . . he’s young. I helped him as best I could. I think he’ll be okay.”

“And you?” Liz asked, squeezing his hand tightly. “Are you going to be okay?”

“Yes,” he tried to shake off his self-incriminations. “I’ll be fine.” Deep in his heart, he knew he never really had a choice. Liz was alive. Ellie was alive. As long as there was life, there was hope. The other choice would have meant only one of them would have lived, and he couldn’t imagine living a life without Liz.

Matthew started to stir and a smile began to spread over Max’s face as a little mouth began to root around his father’s throat. With a glint shining in his eyes, Max snorted, “Our boy might be a genius, but he still hasn’t figured out there’s no milk coming out of my Adam’s apple.”

“I’ll take him,” Liz chuckled, holding her hands out for Max to pass Matthew over to her. She unbuttoned her shirt and Max saw a quick flash of her creamy breast before Matthew latched on to her hungrily. He felt a surge of desire course through him and he rose to his feet to get dinner started, thinking about her breast milk, and wondering how it would taste mixed with a little chocolate syrup on top.

Opening the refrigerator, he took out the package of chicken Liz had thawed and placed it on the counter. He removed a knife from the block on the countertop and waved his hand over it to sharpen the blade, and then turned back to Liz as a sudden thought occurred to him.

“Carl and I were across the street from Coyote Canyon Park today, over on Beardsley Road. Do you remember the place?”

“Of course,” Liz stroked Matthew’s cheek as he nursed contentedly. “We went there a few weeks ago, right before Matthew was born.”

“Right,” Max remembered feeding the ducks at the lake and his sudden brainstorm was sounding better and better. He set the knife down on the counter and walked back to Liz, taking a seat right next to her. “We both really liked it there, right?”

“I loved it there, Max,” Liz smiled at the memory. “It’s a beautiful park.”

“Well, since we both felt such a, I don’t know . . . a connection to the place, I was thinking that might be a good place to take Ellie for the first time, you know? She can play on the swings, and in the sand box, and we can walk on the trails, and remember the ducks? We can feed the ducks! She’s never seen one before.”

“Oh, Max!” Liz exclaimed. “I think that’s a great idea!” They had both taken an instant liking to the place, almost like the air smelled different there, and she was sure Ellie would love it too.

“It will be like a first step for me,” Max added. “I’m familiar with the park, so maybe it won’t be difficult for me to recreate it. I’ll start with just the park and then add people in the background, and we can see how it goes. It won’t be as elaborate as a carnival setting, and maybe not as draining. I could start small and work up.” He squeezed her hand and looked at her questioningly, asking, “What do you think?”

“When do you want to try?” was her eager response.

“Tonight?” He was just as eager to start as she was.

Liz squeezed his hand excitedly and Max rose from the table to return to the chicken that was waiting for him on the counter, going over the details in his mind. Of course, the dreamwalk would have to wait until after he’d had his chocolate milk.

* * * * *

The kitchen was clean and spotless, the living room quiet and dark. Timmy the teddy bear stood silent watch over Matthew, who was sleeping contentedly in his cradle. Even all the noise coming from the next bedroom couldn’t wake him from sleep.

Max had learned quickly that Matthew’s sleep patterns were the key to his sex life. Timing was everything when there was an infant in the house, and Max was starting to get the hang of it. Dinner was over, the dishes were done, Matthew was in bed, and so was Max.

Only Max wasn’t sleeping. Neither was Liz . . .

“Max . . .”

He could hear the air rush from her lungs, feel her heated breath making the skin on his throat quiver with each exhalation, matching the rhythmic motion of their bodies. He thrust into her repeatedly, feeling her slick walls surrounding him, caressing him, coating him with her essence as he stroked into her depths. Her soft moans were increasing in frequency, intensity, and his rhythm increased to match her level of arousal.

“Max . . .” she moaned out as her hips thrust up to meet his. Her fingers kneaded the flesh on his back, her nails left a trail of fire on his skin from his shoulders all the way down to his butt where her hands now cupped him, feeling his muscles tighten each time he plunged into her body. Her hands pushed him toward her while her hips raced up to meet him, feeling each thrust going deeper, and deeper, and deeper until he filled her completely.

“Max . . .” she withered underneath him in building bliss. “God . . . yes . . . oh, yes . . . Max . . .”

Max was moaning up a storm of his own, enjoying the sensations that were sweeping through his body. A part of him was seeking solace in the loving embrace of his wife, to leave behind the horrors he had seen during the day and Liz understood that. He wasn’t using her to seek an escape, but rather turning to her, clinging to the beauty of their love to help him cope with the things he sometimes had to face.

Another part of him was making love to Liz simply because the depth of his love for her had no limits. She drove him crazy with need, with desire, with wanton lust, but it was a good kind of crazy.

“Liz . . .” he groaned against her throat as he thrust harder, picking up the pace, his body sinking into her depths. He sucked on her throat leaving a mark, claiming her in the most basal sense, feeling his body sinking into her depths, merging with her on a level that was more than just physical.

He knew she was close and he drove into her hard, the way he knew she liked it, hearing the hitch in her throat and the moans escaping her lips rising in frequency and pitch. She was right on the very edge, and then he felt her suddenly arch beneath him, her body quaking and quivering while she let out a long, sustained wail of pleasure. Her walls clamped down around him, strangling his shaft as he drove himself deeply inside her, crying out her name as his seed spurted into her. The intensity was almost violent as wave after wave of his essence filled her inner chamber. His body quivered in extended bliss as his seed shot from him in streams with the intensity of it taking his breath away. He slammed into her one final time as his orgasm peaked before collapsing down onto her, with the feel of her inner walls pulsing and throbbing all around him.

“Wow . . .” Max pressed his face against her throat while gasping for breath. “That was . . . something . . .”

Her legs were wrapped around him, holding him in place, not willing to let him go just yet, which was fine by him. He liked the feel of where he was. She constricted her muscles around his softening member, stroking him rhythmically by tightening and relaxing her inner walls and he rose up on his elbows, smiling down at her rapturous face.

“You just can’t get enough of me,” he teased.

“Never . . .” Liz sighed.

“Then it’s a good thing I’m an alien,” Max nibbled at her ear, “with fast recuperative skills.” He thrust into her just once, to show her which recuperative skills he meant. If she wanted more, he was more than willing to keep this up, for as long as Matthew allowed.

“Have I told you lately how much I love your aliens skills?” She kissed a trail along his throat, darting out her tongue to taste his salty skin and finding something else. With a swipe of her tongue, she licked the sweet taste and mumbled, “Hummmm.”

“What?” Max moved in her slowly, savoring the feel of her body beneath him, her legs around him, her lips and her tongue tasting him.

Liz met his measured pace, her hips moving in tune with his, and her lips whispered against his skin, “Chocolate. I missed a spot.” Her tongue swept across his throat, checking to see if there was anymore.

He felt a surge of raw heat wash over him as her tongue licked him clean and his thrusts took on a greater urgency. His mouth sought out hers, tasting the residue of chocolate on her tongue and he groaned as his passions ignited again. His movements became more demanding, his thrusts more forceful, his slow, sensual seduction gone now as he built toward another powerful explosion.

Her moans of ecstasy filled his ears and he suddenly rose above her, wanting to see that look as well. He dug his knees into the bed, kneeling before her, and lifted her hips up to impale her. He drove into her hard, controlling their movements and dominating their union, with his hands holding her hips above the bed effortlessly. Liz could see the heated look in his eyes as he watched his body sink into hers, his member slick and wet, covered with her juices, disappearing inside her with each forceful thrust.

Her hands rose to caress her breasts, to stimulate her nipples, to increase her own pleasure while titillating his and he sucked in an aroused breath, impaling her with renewed vigor. She held on for the ride while Max let his passions run, letting his unbridled lust have free rein. His breathing grew more labored as he watched her hand move over her ribs, down her stomach, through her trim patch of dark curls, until her probing fingers slipped between her wet lips, stimulating herself while he watched, feeling his lust spiraling out of control.

His shaft drilled into her, hard and thick, stretching her tight walls around him, pounding into her sweet spot until she exploded with sensation, carried high on a wave of sexual bliss. He followed her there, climaxing along with her, his seed bursting from his body in pulse after pulse of intense pleasure, filling her body with his essence, slamming into her with a cry of such pleasure, he was sure they must be fused together.

With his body drained, he dropped her back down to the bed and fell on top of her, burying his nose into the crook of her neck, drawing in the smells of their sex, their love, their ultimate joining. It was a smell he never got tired of.

His heart thundered in his chest and he fought to catch his breath, and then he chuckled against her ear, saying, “Liz, one of these days, you’re gonna be the death of me. You’re gonna kill me with pleasure.”

Her arms surrounded him, feeling the sweat on his back and his chest heaving from exertion, and she sighed contentedly with her hand stroking through his hair. “Oh, but what a wonderful way to go.”

Come back on Sunday for the next installment. I am going to try to post every Sunday and Thursday until the conclusion of this story. (Yes, eventually there will be a conclusion!)

posted on 5-Jul-2002 12:29:06 AM by Breathless
Just a quick answer to your questions . . .

No, Ellie has not been outside. Johnson brought her to this location shortly after she was born and the apartment is in the sub-basement, below ground level.

And yes, the next part will be a dream sequence. I know everyone seems to like those! *big*

posted on 7-Jul-2002 11:47:56 PM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17

Here’s the link to parts 1 through 59 at the Boardello of Fanfic:

Author note: Okay, here’s my attempt to post a little early tonight. I hope all of you that celebrate the 4th of July had a good one! For those of you that don’t, well, nevermind.

When last we were together, Max and Liz were gettin a little lovin. Let’s see what there up to now. I promised a dream sequence, so . . .

Posted in two parts due to board restrictions . . .

Captive Hearts
Part 92

Max stepped into the bedroom, fresh out of the shower, with only a towel wrapped around his waist. He felt sated and relaxed, his body still humming from the after dinner intimacy he had shared with Liz, and just being near her had helped soothe his earlier distress. He smiled when their eyes met, Max rubbing at his wet hair with a towel, Liz slipping into a silk robe, and the brief glimpse of her supple body was enough to cause his body to react again. If there was one thing he had learned in the last week it was this: When the baby was asleep, you had to go for it.

“You sure you don’t want round two?” Max asked suggestively as he sauntered across the room. He came up behind her, wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her body back against his. His hand pulled the collar of her robe aside and his lips attached to her throat, tasting the honey of her skin.

Liz tilted her head to give him better access, and to look at the clock on the nightstand. His hand slipped inside her robe, caressing her skin with his wandering touch, cupping one full breast with one hand while probing lower with the other.

“Max,” Liz leaned back into the prominent bulge beneath his towel. “Are you in overdrive tonight?”

“I’m just making up for lost time,” he mumbled against her throat. “Besides,” he nipped at her skin, “you turn me on.” He gave her goose bumps when he added, whispering in her ear, “You always have.”

“Max,” she sighed and then she brought him back to earth. “It’s time to get ready for Ellie. You still want to try tonight, right?”

“Yes. Absolutely,” he straightened up and darted a look over to the clock. It was getting close to the time they usually tried to make connect with Ellie, and while there was no guarantee they would be able to reach her tonight, he knew they needed to try. He gave her breast an extra squeeze and just before he stepped back from her, he whispered in her ear, “Remember where we were . . .”

As he turned to walk away, Liz darted out her hand and grabbed his towel, jerking it off his body. He turned around in surprise, standing in front of her in all his male glory and she couldn’t keep her eyes from wandering over his sculptured physique. His hands rose to his hips, his head cocked to the side, and the impish grin on his face silently asked the question, ‘See something that you like?’

Liz crossed over to him with an equal glint in her eyes, wrapped her hand around his impressive member, gave him a gentle tug, and purred into his ear, “Believe me, I’ll remember.”

“Liz-” he growled and grabbed for her but she brushed by him, on the way to Matthew’s room now, swishing her hips suggestively while trying to contain her laughter.

“You’re a tease, Liz!” Max called out to her retreating figure. “Did I tell you that yet today? A tease!” He chuckled as she tossed her head and she disappeared into the hallway, and Max dropped his eyes down to look at his lower anatomy, vowing, “We’ll get her later.”

* * * * *

Max sat on the bed with his back against the headboard, his legs folded crisscross in front of him, his eyes closed and his upturned hands resting on his bare thighs. Liz watched him from the bedroom doorway, thinking he looked like a Statue of David in a lotus position, only really well hung. Too bad she couldn’t see that now. He’d gotten dressed in a t-shirt and shorts, and it blocked her view.

She headed in his direction, holding Matthew in her arms and as she neared the bed his eyes opened. He unfolded his legs to give her room and she climbed in between them, settling comfortably against his chest. He wrapped his arms around her, sliding one hand over her robe covered stomach and burying his nose in the hair near her ear. It only took a moment for her to feel the familiar pressure against the small of her back.

“Max?” she opened her throat up to his wandering lips. “Are you just oversexed tonight, or what?”

“It must be your pheromones,” Max nuzzled her. His hand rose up from her stomach, sliding between her and Matthew’s swaddled body, until he cupped her breast. “You just feel so good.”

“Save it for later,” Liz admonished and then couldn’t resist kissing him on the lips. She was just as bad as he was.

“Okay, I’ll be good,” Max straightened up, satisfied with the kiss, at least for now. He pulled his hand away from her breast and instead wrapped his arm around both her and Matthew. His lips touched the crown of her head and then he moved to rested his cheek against her, while his hand rose up to touch her temple. Liz let her own hand gently cup Matthew’s cheek, touching her fingertips to his temple as well and she closed her eyes, blanking out her mind so that Max could bring them all together . . .

Liz floated in the black void again, neither here nor there, but somewhere in between. She felt a pull, a tug coming from within, and then his cherished voice, soft and faint, penetrated the darkness.

“Liz . . . come to me Liz . . . I’m waiting for you . . .”


“I’m here, Liz . . . here . . . waiting for you . . .”

The darkness began to lift, changing from black to gray, and then she felt the rush as he pulled her into their meadow haven. Bright light bathed her in sunshine, warming her skin, making her eyes blink. Blue skies herald a beautiful day and a light breeze ruffled through her hair and lifted the hem of her gossamer dress. She looked down at the weight in her arms, seeing the smiling face of her infant son, and then a pair of strong arms circled her from behind, drawing her into the safety of a powerfully built chest.

“Hey beautiful,” Max whispered with his lips brushing her cheek, smiling at her from ear to ear when she turned to look at him.

“And aren’t you the handsome one,” Liz looked him up and down, approving of the white shirt, open at the collar with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. His dark slacks hugged his hips and draped his muscular thighs, making him look like he’d just stepped off the pages of GQ magazine.

“I try,” Max held his arms out, showing off his look. “It wouldn’t do to take Ellie for a walk in the park, wearing only my underwear.”

“I suppose you’re right,” Liz laughed, stepping into the circle of his arms. She stretched on tips toes while he dipped his head to meet her and their lips joined together, while Matthew happily blew bubbles between them.

“Daddy, you awlways kissin on Mommy!”

Max drew back from Liz and they both smiled down at their daughter, standing only a foot away with her hands on her hips. He snatched her off the ground and into his arms and then burrowed his face against her throat, blowing a wet raspberry on her skin. The sound of her giggles filled his heart with happiness and his eyes were gleaming when he pulled back to rub his nose against hers, saying, “I always kiss my girls!”

“Daddy, you funny!” Ellie proclaimed. She cupped the sides of his face with her hands and gave him a quick kiss of her own. Max smiled broadly, loving the feel of her small body in his arms, her dark eyes shining into his, her lilting laugh ringing in his ears. “Mommy,” Ellie twisted around to look at Liz, “Daddy funny!”

“Yes,” Liz agreed with a laugh. “He certainly can be!”

Ellie turned back to her father, bouncing excitedly now, demanding, “Where we goin? We goin to the carnibal now? Maywe toad me awl about the ferret wheel!”

“Mary told you about the Ferris Wheel?” Max laughed out loud. Among all the uncertainties of Ellie’s life, there was one thing Max was absolutely certain of. Whoever Mary was, she loved his daughter very much, and Ellie loved her back. Sometimes, that knowledge was all he could cling to.

“Yep!” Ellie couldn’t contain her excitement. “Her toad me awl about it! And cotton candy, and no cones! Can I hab a no cone?”

“You mean a sno cone?” Liz giggled. She couldn’t help it. Seeing Ellie like this was infectious.

“Dat’s what I said!” Ellie looked at her mother again. “No cones!”

“Of course you can have a ‘no cone,” Max ruffled Ellie’s hair, “but today we’re going to the park.”

“What dat?” Ellie wrinkled her nose. She didn’t know what a park was.

“I’ll show you,” he stroked his finger along her soft cheek. “Close your eyes and Mommy and I will take you there.”

Ellie closed her eyes tightly and held on to her father, with her left arm around his neck and her right hand clutching the collar of his shirt. Max looked at Liz with just a touch of apprehension on his face, hoping he could pull this off. He wanted Ellie to see the world, to learn what it was like beyond the walls she was confined to, and this was the only way he knew how.

Liz stepped close to him, circling her arm around his back, giving him all her support. He drew her close, draping his arm around her shoulder, drawing on her faith. Her belief in him over the years had helped him more than she would ever know, and the faith that she showed in him now helped eased his uncertainty. If Liz thought he could do it, then by god, he could do it. After all, Liz was always right.

“Can I open my eyes now?” Ellie asked.

“Not yet,” Max tried to concentrate.

“Now?” Ellie said a few seconds later.

“No, just wait a minute . . .”

“Now?” she began to squirm.

“Hold on . . .” She was breaking his concentration.

“I can’t see nuffin wiff my eyes cwoosed!” Ellie scolded him.

“Don’t open ‘em yet!” Max tried not to laugh at her impatience. He drew in a deep breath, closed his eyes tightly, trying to visualize the park in his mind and –

“Now?” Ellie rocked in his arms, anxious for a new adventure.

“Now!” Max agreed with a grin spreading over his face. His eyes swept over the green grass and the flowerbeds and the swings little Cindy Morgan had played on before she chased after a kitten in the woods. It had worked! They were here, in Coyote Canyon Park. He looked down at Liz first, seeing the unwavering trust on her face and his confidence soared. He turned to Ellie and the excited look on her face nearly blew him away.

Ellie’s eyes popped open and then grew wide at all the new sights. There was grass all around them. Green Grass. Short green grass, not tall and blowing in the wind. There were swings over there! There was sand over there too! Like at the beach! Was the beach near here, too? What was that thing by the swings? That tall thing? And what was that over there?

Ellie turned her head to the left and the right, taking everything in. She soaked it in like a sponge, absorbing it, processing it, storing it. Anxious to see and know it all, she bounced in Max’s arms and pointed, “Show me dat! And dat! What is dat!”

Max turned to Liz, smiling up a storm. He could feel Ellie’s excitement, and he could see it seeping into Liz as well. Her eyes were sparkling, watching Ellie’s antics.

“Daddy, what is dat?” Ellie insisted. She grabbed his face and turned his head so he would stop looking at mommy and see what she was pointing at. “Look! Ober dare! What is dat fing?”

“That thing?” Max laughed and moved closer to the playground equipment.

“Yes! What it is? What it do?”

“It’s a seesaw,” Max explained. “Somebody sits on that end, and somebody else sits on this end-” He turned to Liz and a silent communication passed between them. It would be easier to just show her. Liz nodded in understanding, and climbed on to the seat that was resting on the ground. Max hitched his leg over the end that was sticking up in the air and settled Ellie on the seat in front of him. “Hold on to the handles, Ellie,” he instructed and then looked over to Liz. “Hold on tight!”

Liz held on to Matthew securely with one arm and gripped the handlebar with her right hand, planted her feet firmly on the ground and pushed off. Their weight was unbalanced, but it was good enough to show Ellie what a seesaw was all about.

“Oooooooo,” Ellie cried out as the seesaw rocked up and down, and Max kept one arm around her waist so she wouldn’t fall off. They kept it up for a minute and then Ellie’s attention darted to the right. “What dat do, Daddy?”

Max stopped the seesaw and followed her pointing finger. “That goes around and around in a circle and makes you dizzy.”

“Me can do dat!” Max set her on her feet and watched her walk into the grass, holding her arms straight out from her sides. Her little pink dress began to billow around her as she twirled in a circle and when she stopped she woozily staggered like a drunken sailor. She tried to focus on him and said, “See?” and then promptly lost her balance and fell onto the ground.

“You sure can!” Max scooped her up and set her down on the middle of the wooden platform. “Hold on tight!” He grabbed one of the iron bars and pushed until the wheel was going around and around at a fast pace. He jumped on and then flopped on his back, looking up at the blue sky and watching it swirl around at a fast clip. He felt Ellie plop down next to him and her little hand reached out to hold his.

“What dis called, Daddy?” Ellie turned her face to his.

“I don’t know,” Max shrugged inwardly. He sat up, and tried to look at Liz but her image kept flashing by too fast. “It’s a . . . whirly . . . thingy . . .”

Ellie sat up next to him, giving him a frown. A whirly thingy?

“Help me out, Liz,” Max called out. “What’s this thing called?” She was just a blur to him as the platform sped round and round.

“I don’t know,” Liz answered. “A merry go round?”

“No,” Max shook his head. “Doesn’t a merry go round have benches and horses and stuff?”

“Horses?” Ellie perked up. She liked horses. “I wanna go on a maywe go wound.”

The ride slowed and Max picked up Ellie, saying, “We’ll do that when we go to the carnival.” He rose to his feet, jumped to the ground and started listing to the right, staggering like Ellie had done a few minutes before. “Whoa!” he laughed as the world spun around him.

“Show me dat!” Ellie insisted, pointing at the tall object next to the swings.

Max regained his footing, darting Liz a happy look as she snickered at him, and then made his way across the sand. He hitched Ellie closer to him and said, “Hold on tight. Put your arms around my neck so I can climb the ladder. We’re gonna go for a slide!”

Max put his hands on the rungs and pulled himself up quickly. When he reached the top, he swung his legs forward and sat down on the metal ramp. He repositioned Ellie on his lap and then pushed off, laughing out loud when Ellie screamed.

“It tickles!” Ellie shouted excitedly. When they hit the ground Max jumped to his feet and Ellie cried out, “Moe! Moe slide!”

Max shot another look at Liz, with his smiling eyes conveying to her just how infectious Ellie’s excitement was. He hurried back to the ladder and climbed quickly, and Ellie screamed again as they plummeted down the slide.

“Moe! Moe!” she cried again and then her hands were pushing on his chest as she squirmed is his arms. “Down! Down! Me do it now!”

Max gawked at her in surprise and gulped, “You want to do it alone?”

Ellie nodded and said insistently, “Me do it!”

Max took a deep breath and looked up at the top of the ladder. He could barely touch the top of the slide, and his little girl wanted to climb up there all by herself? He shot a worried look at Liz and he could tell she wasn’t too sure about it either. Ellie pushed at him again and he reluctantly set her on her feet. She rushed to the base of ladder and reached for the rungs just like she’d seen her daddy do it and began to pull herself up. She was fearless in her determination and Max hovered worriedly behind her with his hands ready to catch her if she fell. He cringed inside with each rung that she climbed, sure that her foot would slip, or her arms would get tired, and she’d fall and get hurt. He couldn’t stand it if she got hurt. He knew this was just a dream, but still, he couldn’t help his reaction.

She neared the top and Max climbed a couple of the rungs behind her so she wouldn’t be out of reach. She bent forward when she reached the top and Max suddenly had a nose full of ruffled panties practically in his face. She awkwardly tried to put her feet out in front of her and Max was sure his heart had stopped beating in his chest. “Careful, baby,” he said worriedly. “Hold on tight!” He was fretting and fussing and tempted to create a shield around her so it would catch her if she fell.

Ellie finally got her sneaker clad feet angled in front of her and a horrible thought struck Max. How was he going to be able to be here, at the top of the ladder to protect her from falling, and at the base of the slide to catch her at the same time? When she pushed off, he wouldn’t be able to run fast enough down the ladder and around to the front of the slide. He looked over at Liz again, knowing she couldn’t help. She had her hands full with Matthew. What was a daddy to do?

Ellie sat at the top of the slide and rocked forward and Max felt his heart leap into his throat. She seemed to be stuck there though, and he had a brief respite. Liz stepped forward and said hastily, “Make me a baby carrier so I can put Matthew in it. The kind that goes on your chest, like a pouch. Then I’ll be able to catch her.”

Max breathed a sigh of relief that one of them was smart enough to think of a solution and he closed his eyes briefly while he visualized it in his mind. Opening them again, he was relieved to see Liz was already slipping Matthew inside, tucking his little body into the pouch and pulling his legs through the holes. Matthew took all the jostling without a peep and Liz moved into position at the bottom of the slide.

“Daddy!” Ellie frowned. “It not wooking.”

“Max,” Liz looked up at them. “Her legs are sticking to the metal of the slide. Change her dress to pants and a shirt. Then she won’t stick.”

“What kind of pants?” Max scratched his head. How was he supposed to know? He’d never changed Ellie before. She always just came into the dreams wearing what she was wearing.

“Daddy! Make it wook!”

The pressure was on!

The sudden image of Cindy Morgan, dressed in pink corduroy pants and a white t-shirt with pink kittens on the front entered his mind and before he knew it, the clothes materialized on Ellie. She felt the change immediately and her hands went to her shirt, pulling on the material so she could see the pretty kittens on the front.

“Ellie! Baby! Be careful!” Max blurted out when he saw her hands lift from the safety rails.

“Did you do dis, Daddy?” she swiveled around to look at him and Max was certain she was trying to send him to an early grave. He rapidly climbed higher up the ladder and slipped his hands around her, breathing a sigh of relief when he reached her. She kissed him on the cheek and patted the kittens on her chest, saying, “Bank you!” She liked kittens.

“You’re welcome,” Max kissed her forehead and then looked at Liz and rolled his eyes. How was any man supposed to survive fatherhood? He let out a sigh and then asked, “Are you ready now?”

“Yep!” Ellie nodded enthusiastically. She rocked forward again and her eyes widened in delight when she began to slide forward. Max gave her a little nudge and she screamed in delight, sliding right into Liz’s outstretched hands. Max sighed in relief when she made it down safely, and then tensed up again when she ran back in his direction shouting, “MORE DADDY!”

Max sighed and climbed down the ladder, smiling as he realized one good thing. She might be scaring the crap out of him, but at least it sounded like she was finally learning how to pronounce her ‘R’s’.

I’ll be right back with the rest in a second

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 7-Jul-2002 11:53:32 PM ]
posted on 7-Jul-2002 11:48:49 PM by Breathless
Captive Hearts
Part 92 con’t

* * * * *

Max and Liz lazily rocked back and forth on the swings, arms extended toward each other and holding hands with their fingers interlocked, while Ellie played nearby in the sand. Everything was going well so far, and Max knew it was time for the next step.

“I thought I’d introduce just a couple of people first, to judge how she reacts,” Max said quietly while cupping Matthew’s small body inside the snuggly. They had decided he would hold the baby and concentrate on expanding the dreamwalk, while Liz stayed near Ellie, in case she got scared or anxious or upset.

“Have you decided who you’re going to bring in first?” Liz asked.

Max looked at her and nodded. “I decided to bring in Annie and Amber. Amber is close to Ellie’s age and kids always seem to gravitate to other kids. If that goes okay, then I’ll add more.”

“That sounds good,” Liz squeezed his hand encouragingly. “Are you ready?”

Max nodded and Liz released his hand. She rose from the swing and plopped down on the sand next to Ellie while Max closed his eyes in concentration. It only took a moment for him to create their images, Annie sitting on a park bench by the edge of the sand pit and Amber closer, scooting through the sand on her hands and knees. He concentrated his energies on Amber, wanting her to seem as realistic as possible.

“What are you making?” Liz watched Ellie piling up mounds of sand. She could see Amber out of the corner of her eye, and she was waiting for Ellie to notice her.

“Nuffing,” she said and then pointed her finger at a heap of sand. “See what I can do?” Her finger glowed and the sand shifted into the shape of a cat, with its tail frozen in mid swish.

“Ellie, that’s wonderful,” Liz grinned.

“And dis,” Ellie pointed at a smaller mound of sand, “dis is Mr. Wiggles.”

“Mr. Wiggles?” Liz raised her eyebrows. Was Ellie giving her a peek at her elusive life? Was this a pet? “Who is Mr. Wiggles?”

“Hims a-”she looked up at her mother and then the words suddenly stopped. Liz could see her looking over her shoulder and then a small body came toddling in their direction. Ellie drew closer to her mother and whispered, “Who dat?”

“That’s Amber,” Liz whispered back. “I think she wants to play. Do you want to play with her?”

“Who is she?” Ellie peeked around Liz.

“A friend,” Liz explained. “See over there,” Liz pointed at the park bench. “That’s her mother. Annie. She’s a friend, too.” Liz waved at Annie and Annie waved back enthusiastically.

“Oh,” Ellie moved closer to Liz. Amber’s shadow fell across them and Ellie looked up to see a little girl with a cap of blonde curly hair and sky blue eyes.

“Hi!” Amber exclaimed. She was younger than Ellie, not even two yet, and Liz was hoping Ellie wouldn’t be intimidated by her.

“Hi Amber,” Liz said and watched her daughter. So far so good. She shot an encouraging look toward Max and then returned her attention back to the girls. “Are you playing in the park today?”

“Yep,” she nodded and then dropped to her knees in front of Ellie. “You wanna play with me?”

Ellie looked at Liz, and then back at Amber and said hesitantly, “Okay.”

Liz shot Max a smile and he let out a sigh. Amber hadn’t scared Ellie off yet. That was good.

“You wanna see the ducks?” Amber asked.

Ducks? She looked at her mother again, and when Liz nodded her head encouragingly, Ellie did too.

“You wanna feed ‘em?” Amber asked, sounding excited about the prospect.

“Okay,” Ellie said again, faster this time. She didn’t know what a duck was, or what it ate, but she was looking forward to finding out. Amber rose to her feet and Ellie did too, with Liz following suit and they headed across the sand to the paved walkway that lead to the pond. Liz followed a step behind them, walking slowly so that Max could catch up to her. Her heart skipped a beat when Amber’s hand reached out and took Ellie’s, waiting to see her reaction. This is where things had gone bad with Isabel, when she had tried to touch Ellie, and scared her away.

Ellie looked down at the small hand that was touching hers and then turned to look over her shoulder. Her mommy and daddy were right behind her, and they were holding hands too, and smiling, and she wasn’t sure yet, but she thought that maybe it was kind of nice, having someone small like her to play with.

“I have a big brother,” Amber told Ellie. “He’s over there.”

Ellie looked in the direction she was pointing, and saw a big boy riding on something that he pushed with his foot to make him go faster. He swept up a makeshift ramp and jumped in the air, twisted around and came back down.

“His name’s Joey, and he always has that skateboard with him.”

“I hab a brover, too,” Ellie smiled. “Daddy’s got him, right dare,” she pointed her finger at the carrier Max still had against his chest. “Him sleeps all the time! Him’s just a baby.”

“My daddy’s over there,” Amber pointed back at the park bench where Annie was still sitting. Josh was with her now, and they were kissing.

“Mommies and daddies awlways do dat!” Ellie snickered.

Liz gave Max’s hand a squeeze and she smiled up at him. Everything was going great so far. Max was smiling back at her, but she could see a flicker of something in his eyes, something that worried her.

“Are you okay?” she whispered.

“Yeah,” he nodded. He could see that answer wasn’t enough for her so he told her the truth. “It takes a lot of energy to create so many different things happening at once.”

Liz looked around and saw that he had added more than just Josh and Annie and Joey. Michael and Maria were on the grass sharing a picnic lunch. Isabel and Alex were walking through the flower gardens. Carl and Rachel were on a park bench just up ahead, tossing peanuts to a squirrel.

“Are you going to be alright?” Liz couldn’t keep the worry out of her tone. Everything was going so well, but she didn’t want Max to weaken himself, or get sick. They didn’t know what kind of strain this might be causing him.

“I’m fine,” he flashed her a smile. “I think it’s good we started small. I just need to get used to this, you know?” He didn’t want her to worry about him, but the truth was, he was feeling the strain. It was easy when it was just him, and Liz, and Ellie and Matthew. They were all real and he didn’t have to guide their actions, but as soon as he added the others, he could feel the stress of having so many people doing so many different things, all of their actions controlled by him. He was going to keep it up for as long as he could, though. He already felt they had made a breakthrough with Ellie letting Amber get so close. He didn’t want to stop now.

“If it gets too much Max, well stop,” Liz insisted. “There’s always tomorrow, or the next day.”

“It’s okay, Liz,” Max tried to reassure her. “I want to keep going as long as I can.”

They heard a squeal of delight and Liz looked up to see Ellie surrounded by a flock of ducks near the edge of the pond. Liz shot a look back at Max and he just grinned at her. Strain or no strain, he wanted Ellie to have fun, and learn what the world was like. Listening to Ellie laugh was good for his soul.

“We need bread,” Liz observed. As soon as she said it, a loaf materialized in her hand and she moved off to join the girls. Some of the ducks were nearly as big as they were and Ellie stayed close to Liz’s legs until she got the hang of it. It wasn’t long before Ellie had them feeding out of her hand.

Max, heartened by how much progress he felt they had made so far, pushed himself a little harder. Cindy Morgan appeared just beyond the circle of ducks with her mother just behind her, and Cindy asked, “Can I feed them too?”

Ellie’s head shot up at the sound of a new voice and saw a girl just a little bigger than her, with blonde hair in a ponytail and blue eyes staring back at her. Ellie shied back toward her mother, until she noticed the new girl wearing the same clothes she was. She glanced down at the pink kittens on her chest, and then the pink kittens on the new girls chest, and said, “We wearin the same fing! Do you like kitties?”

Cindy waded through the ducks and stopped just a foot away from Ellie. “Kitties are my favorite. I have a new kitty now. Her name is Smokey.”

“I hab Mr. Wiggles,” Ellie said proudly, “but him’s not a cat.” Ellie handed Cindy a piece of bread and all three girls were now feeding the hungry ducks.

Liz moved back to stand next to Max and slipped her hand into his. She was excited that Ellie had mentioned Mr. Wiggles again, willingly offering information about her waking life that had proved so elusive in the past.

“Did you hear that?” she said softly to Max.

Max nodded and replied, “That’s a good sign. It’s not the type of information that’s going to help us find her, but it is a sign that she’s opening up.”

Ellie passed out the last piece of bread and turned back to her father to ask for more, when she suddenly stopped in her tracks. Behind him, off in the near distance sitting on a park bench was a very familiar sight, and one that startled her very much. How did Mary get here? Did Mary know this park? She ran toward her, excited that she was here, but the surprise of it snapped her right out of the dream.

“Ellie!” Liz called out, intending to chase after her, but then the air shimmered and she was suddenly gone. “Ellie!” she cried out as she disappeared and then her body sagged disappointedly.

Max could see the crestfallen look on Liz’s face, but Ellie’s abrupt departure from the dream didn’t surprise him. This was sometimes how it happened. She was there one minute, and then gone the next. What had surprised him was her sudden behavior at the end. Where had she been running to?

“I wonder what that was all about?” Max said aloud and his eyes swept over the park. Amber and Cindy were frozen in place, in the act of feeding the ducks. Cindy’s mother stood nearby, with a smile etched on her watchful face. Turning to look behind him, he saw a grandmotherly figure sitting on the park bench, the elderly woman he had talked to that day when he found little Cindy. On the other side of the bench he saw a mother and her two kids who had been there that day too. Looking to the left, he could see Carl sitting like a statue on another bench, having just tossed a peanut to the squirrel. Beyond him were Isabel and Alex, Michael and Maria, nothing that stuck out in his mind as unusual.

“It was probably that,” Liz pointed at the fluff of fur playing in the grass. Looking up at Max, she queried, “I take it, that’s Smokey?”

Max saw the familiar gray kitten in mid-pounce on the grass and a smile spread over his face. “Yes, that’s Smokey. The Morgan’s adopted her after Cindy’s incident.”

Even though he was smiling, Liz could see the strain on Max’s face and she knew it was time for the dream to end. Taking his hands in hers, she stretched upwards and kissed his lips, and then said, “Let’s go home now.”

The air around them wavered and darkened and then Liz was suddenly back in her own bedroom, on her own bed, still holding Matthew in her arms. She felt a sense of satisfaction that the dream had gone so well, that Ellie had seemed to make such progress, and she turned to look at Max, excited and encouraged, when suddenly she felt him slump against her.

“Max?” she said, sensing something wrong, and then knowing it as soon as she saw his face. His eyes were unfocused, his face devoid of color and his features slack. His dead weight pressed against her, as if he were unable to sit up under his own power, and then he listed to the side, sprawling across the bed. He tried to lift himself up, and then collapsed back down, without the strength to move.

“Max?” Liz cried out in growing fear. What was wrong with him? She set Matthew aside on the bed and hovered over him, shaking his shoulder and trying to rouse him. “Max, talk to me!”

“Liz . . .”he could barely get her name out. He was vaguely aware of her hand on his shoulder and then brushing against his face, and then it all began to fade away.

“Please, Max,” Liz felt her panic rising. “Tell me what’s wrong! Max!” She’d never seen him this way before.

“Tired . . .” the word was barely audible, mumbled with his face against the sheets. “So tired . . .” and then he lost consciousness.

Are you glad I said I’d post on Thursday’s too? Come back then to see what’s going to happen next.

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 8-Jul-2002 12:37:07 AM ]
posted on 12-Jul-2002 12:56:07 AM by Breathless
Author:Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17

Author note: A note about Mary. Back a whole bunch of parts ago, Max interviewed Mary in the park when Cindy Morgan was missing. Mary is not related to Cindy. She just happened to be in the park that day, waiting for the bus so she could go visit her sister Martha in the nursing home.

Here’s the link to parts 1 through 59 at the Boardello of Fanfic:

Captive Hearts
Part 93

Liz stood at the foot of the bed watching Rachel as she examined Max. He lay unresponsive on the bed where he’d been ever since he passed out, or lost consciousness, or whatever it was that had happened to him. She’d called Rachel right away when she couldn’t wake him and she had come right over, with Carl in tow. He had helped Rachel reposition Max so she could examine him, and just by the nature of the women’s actions, their worried glances, the silence in the room, Carl could tell that this wasn’t normal.

Taking the stethoscope from her ears, Rachel faced Liz and said, “Tell me again what happened.”

“We were in the dreamwalk with Ellie,” Liz began. “It was his first attempt to expand the dream, and he decided to have the setting be Coyote Canyon Park because we had been there recently and the memory was pretty fresh in his mind. Everything was going fine, but as he added more and more people, I could see he was feeling the strain. He wouldn’t give up though, because we thought we were making good progress with Ellie.”

She felt the tightness in her throat, the sob that wanted to overtake her, feeling guilty that she had let Max push himself too hard. If he was seriously hurt, she’d never be able to forgive herself.

Sensing her distress, Carl stepped up behind her and wrapped his arm around her in a supportive gesture. He could see how worried she was and as soon as he touched her, he felt her sag against him. He knew how strong Liz was, and to see her on the verge of losing it only highlighted how afraid she really was.

“Then what?” Rachel pressed for more. She was shining a light in Max’s eyes now, checking his responses.

“He said he wanted to keep going,” Liz said with her hand pressed to her throat. “So he added more people to the dream. You two,” she looked from Rachel to Carl, “and his sister, Isabel. And Alex, and Maria and Michael. And then he added people that he remembered seeing in the park before. He was trying to fill up the dream so Ellie could get used to having people around.”

“And then?” Carl asked. His investigative mind was trying to put together the pieces. Was there an event in the dream that triggered this response in Max? Was his collapse tied to something in the dream, or simply because of the strain of the dream? “Was there anything unusual about the dream? Or about the way it ended?”

“Well, everything was unusual,” Liz looked up at him. “The location of the dream was different. Having other people in the dream was different. I mean, that was the intention. To take Ellie someplace she’d never been before, and to show her people she’d never seen before. Everything was going really well. Better than we ever expected.”

“What about how it ended?” he pressed.

“Ellie left the dream abruptly, but that’s not unusual. In fact, it’s not uncommon for her to just vanish. It was quite disconcerting at first, but we’re used to it now.”

“What caused her to leave?” Carl probed, trying to get a clear picture.

“Well, it looked like she was chasing a kitten,” Liz replayed it in her mind. “Cindy Morgan’s kitten. And then Ellie just popped out of the dream.”

“I see,” Carl nodded. That made sense. Nothing unusual about a kid running after a kitten. Just ask Cindy.

Rachel released Max’s eyelid and put her penlight back in her medical bag. She rose from the bed and tucked the sheet around Max, and then joined Liz at the foot of the bed. She squeezed Liz’s shoulder and said gently, “Max will be fine. He’s exhausted right now. I think the dreamwalk drained his energy and he needs sleep to replenish it. His heart is strong, his lungs are clear, his reflexes are good. There’s no sign of any cerebral stress or damage. Before he passed out, he said he was tired, right?”

“Yes,” Liz was still worried sick, but Rachel’s prognosis was a relief. “He said he was ‘tired, so tired’, and then he lost consciousness.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he slept through to tomorrow,” Rachel tried to reassure her. “He needs rest, but when he wakes up he should be fine. All I can say is, he needs to learn not to push himself so hard. I know that you desperately want to get Ellie back, but that little girl needs her father to be in one piece when that happens. Wearing himself out like this isn’t going to help her. You need to make him understand that.”

“Oh, believe me,” Liz said determinedly. “He’ll be hearing from me when he wakes up.”

* * * * *

“Mary?” Ellie said as she watched her crack eggs into a bowl.

“Yes, dear?” Mary answered and reached for another egg. She glanced at Jenny, thinking there was a note of distress in the child’s tone. Was something wrong with her?

Ellie sat on one of the kitchen stools, watching Mary make breakfast. Her daddy had told her over and over to be careful, and not let anyone see that she was special, or show them the special things that she could do. But did that mean Mary, too?

Last night’s dream was still fresh in her mind, and Mary had been in it. Did Mary know her daddy? Her real daddy? Could Mary take her to the park so her real daddy could come and find her?

“Um . . .” she hesitated.

“What is it Jenny?” Mary asked, giving the child her full attention.

Ellie looked at her, knowing in her heart that Mary wasn’t like Doctor daddy. “Can you take me to the pawrk?”

“Oh, sweetie,” Mary looked at her sadly. She wished with all her heart that she could take Jenny for a walk in the park, but that was never going to happen. The poor child. “We can’t, Jenny. I’m sorry. Maybe someday, but not now.”

“Oh,” Ellie looked down at the countertop.

Mary stared at the child, wondering if the doctor had told her about the park across the street. She purposely didn’t talk to Jenny about the outside world because she didn’t want to add any burdens to her, knowing what was out there, that she would never be a part of. She’d been reading up on Gunther’s Disease lately, stopping at the library on Sunday afternoons after visiting Martha, in an effort to understand the disease better.

In fact, she wanted to talk to the Doctor about taking Jenny out at night, so she could see what the outside world was like. She understood that Jenny was very young right now, but maybe that was something they could do in the future, when she was a little older. She knew that without her weekly visits to her sister, she’d probably go stark raving mad inside these walls. As Jenny got older, Mary was sure the confinement would get to her, too.

“Jenny, someday, your Daddy is going to find a way to make all this better-”

The sound of footsteps approaching caused Ellie to pull back inside herself, not wanting Doctor daddy to hear what they were talking about. Doctor daddy wasn’t good like Mary.

“Mary?” Johnson called out as he followed the succulent breakfast smells into the kitchen. She certainly was a good cook. It was going to be so hard to replace her when he and Jenny moved on. “It smells wonderful!” he felt his mouth watering as he walked into the kitchen and the aroma intensified. “Ahhhh,” he smiled. “Waffles! My favorite!”

“Good morning, Doctor,” Mary smiled. “Breakfast is nearly ready.”

He glanced at his watch and said, “I think I have just enough time to enjoy one of your fabulous meals, then I’m off.”

“Do you have an appointment today?” Mary asked.

“Yes,” Johnson nodded. “At the college. I have two more students to interview before I decide which one to hire as my research assistant.”

“Really?” Mary poured the egg mixture in the pan to scramble the eggs. It would be strange having someone else around here after all this time of being just the three of them.

“I’ve got that California trip coming up soon,” Johnson reminded her. “I want someone in place before I leave.” He wouldn’t tell Mary this, but if all went well with his trip to San Francisco, he and Jenny might be leaving very soon. He was eager for their new life to begin.

Mary finished preparing breakfast with a smile on her face just as she had every morning for more than two and a half years, blissfully unaware of the fate that awaited her.

* * * * *

Johnson sat in a conference room in the Life Sciences Building at the University. Before him were spread six file folders containing the educational records and other pertinent background information on the candidates he was interviewing. Four he’d met with yesterday.

Brain Foster. Minh Nguyen. Mario Sanchez. Victoria Austin.

The final two he would see shortly.

Tracy Coleman, the first one he would interview this morning, followed by Takashi Sasaki.

They were all top in their chosen area of study. Virology. Immunology. Nanotechnology. Microbiology. For a fleeting moment he wondered about the student Rawlings had praised so highly, the one that had turned down the offer due to family commitments. If she was even better qualified than the students he had seen so far, she must be damn near a genius. His choice was going to be very difficult indeed.

However, there was one thing about Tracy Coleman that might swing things in her favor. After Rawlings had faxed him the information he needed, Johnson had done some investigating of his own. There was a lot you could find out about a person if you knew what to look for, and where to look for it. Tracy was an orphan. No surviving family known.

If things didn’t go well, if she were to happen to, say, suddenly disappear, who would notice? For a man in his position, this knowledge was important. Imperative. Finding the solutions to his research, ending his commitments, was important, but not as important as covering his options. When he left Phoenix, he wanted all the loose ends tied up in a pretty bow.

He didn’t want to face his new life by constantly feeling the need to look over his shoulder at his old one, wondering if his house of cards would fall. No. If San Francisco panned out, he wanted nothing to tie him to the past, and that included anyone who knew him too closely.

Johnson’s thoughts were interrupted when the door opened and Professor Rawlings stepped inside, escorting a young woman. With his hand on her shoulder pressing her forward, he made the introductions.

“Dr. Sinclair, this is Tracy Coleman. Tracy, Dr. Robert Sinclair.”

“Pleased to meet you, Dr. Sinclair,” Tracy extended her hand in greeting.

“The pleasure is mine,” Johnson smiled as he shook it. She certainly looked the part of a scientist. Sensible clothes, sensible shoes, her mousy colored hair pulled back from her face, glasses across the bridge of her nose. “Please, have a seat.”

“Well, I’ll leave you two at it,” Rawlings moved back toward the door. “Let me just add,” he offered, with his hand on the doorknob, “Tracy is one of the top two students in her class. She and her lab partner have accomplished great things this year.”

Tracy felt her face flush at the praise coming from her professor. She had high hopes of getting this job and the practical experience that would go with it. She was just glad her lab partner was taking the summer off and wasn’t applying for it herself. Liz would have won it hands down.

* * * * *

Ellie sat at the kitchen table with crayon in hand and her drawing tablet open in front of her. She liked days like these, when it was just her and Mary, and the doctor was nowhere around. She thought for a moment, trying to decide what to draw today, and then a smile graced her face and she pressed the crayon to the paper.

Mary slipped on a pair of rubber gloves and walked by the table on her way to clean the sink. Looking over the child’s shoulder, she asked, “What are you drawing today?”

“A duck,” Ellie smiled.

“A duck, huh?” Mary beamed. She’d had her eye on an animal picture book at the local bookstore, one that she thought Jenny would enjoy. Maybe she’d have to pick it up for her when she went out on Sunday. She enjoyed bringing things home to Jenny that would help expand her small world.

Ellie watched Mary as she scrubbed at the sink, listening to her humming softly. Now that they were alone, she could finally ask Mary what she hadn’t been able to earlier.

Putting down her crayon, Ellie asked, “Do you know my Daddy?”

Mary paused in mid scrub, wondering what Jenny was talking about. Had she misunderstood her, or did Jenny just phrase her question wrong? Turning to look at the child, Mary answered, “I first met your Daddy when you were just a baby. He needed someone to take care of you, so I came to live here.” They’d never kept this a secret from Jenny. The child knew that she and Mary weren’t related.

“I mean . . .” Ellie stared at Mary. “My real Daddy.”

“Your . . . ?” Mary stared back at the child wondering what she was talking about. Real Daddy?

“My real Daddy,” Ellie insisted. “In my dream, I saw you wiff my real Daddy.”

Ellie could see Mary’s eyes widen and she flipped the pages in her drawing tablet to show her. She looked at her childlike drawing of Max and pointed, “Him. Daddy.”

“Oh,” Mary let out the breath she was holding. Jenny had such an active imagination. It saddened her though that she would refer to the make believe family she had created as her real one. The poor child just wanted a normal life, a life, sadly, she could never have.

“In my dream, you were dare,” Ellie told Mary. “I saw you when I was feedin the ducks.”

“Honey,” Mary peeled off her rubber gloves and sat down next to her. “That was just a dream. It wasn’t real, dear. All of us dream at night, but in the morning we wake up. This is real, here, with your Daddy and me. This,” Mary patted the drawing tablet, “is only make believe.”

“But –” Ellie started, but Mary gently cut her off.

“Why don’t you go put that away now, dear, and then you can help me make lunch. Are you hungry?”

Ellie stared at Mary for a minute and then closed the cover on her drawing tablet. Mary put the crayons back in the box and handed it to her and then watched the girl as she took her things back to her room. She felt somewhat disturbed that Jenny would refer to her imaginary family as real, but it was probably just a phase she was going through, because of the isolation she lived with.

In her room, Ellie set her tablet and crayons on her desk, thinking about what Mary had said. She knew Daddy and Mommy were real, and out there somewhere. She knew Matthew was her brother. She knew her Daddy was trying hard to bring her home.

He wasn’t really just a dream . . . was he?

Come back on Sunday for the next installment.

posted on 15-Jul-2002 12:12:22 AM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17

Link to parts 1-59

Author note: This part includes passages from The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams Bianco, Margery Williams, William Nicholson. No infringement is intended.

It just seemed so fitting for this story . . .

Captive Hearts
Part 94

Liz sat on the edge of the bed watching Max as he slept. He’d become a little restless in the last few minutes and she thought he was finally showing signs of coming around. He stretched and turned from his side to his back and then his eyes began to flutter. They opened slowly, blinking sleepily, and then he yawned and stretched again. He smiled when he saw Liz sitting on the side of the bed, and wiping the back of his hand over his eyes, he said, “Hey you. What time is it?”

“It’s five after seven,” Liz answered after glancing at the small clock on the nightstand.

“Five after seven!” Max’s eyes flew wide and he shifted his focus to the clock. “Why didn’t you wake me? I’m gonna be late for work!” He sat up quickly and a wave of dizziness washed over him.

“Max,” Liz took him by the shoulders. “It’s not seven in the morning. It’s seven o’clock at night. You slept through the whole day.”

“What?” his head shot up to stare at her. How could that be?

“How are you feeling?” she asked and lifted her hand to caress his cheek.

“Okay . . . I guess . . . what . . .?” The last thing he remembered was the dream and Ellie feeding the ducks, and then . . . then . . . nothing. His hand raked through his hair with a deep frown creasing his brow and he asked, “What happened?”

“You’re feeling okay?” Liz asked worriedly. “Normal?”

“I’m a little groggy,” Max admitted. “I kind of feel, I don’t know, kind of hung over, I guess.” He’d only gotten drunk once in his life, but that had been enough to swear off alcohol forever. His alien metabolism couldn’t handle it.

“Is that all?” Liz asked.

“Yeah,” Max tried unsuccessfully to stifle another yawn.

“In that case,” Liz rose to her feet and planted her hands on her hips. She leaned over him, with her eyes blazing, and she fumed, “Don’t you EVER do that again!”

“What?” Max gawked at her. Man, was she pissed! Her eyes were on fire! What the hell did he do last night? Had he gotten drunk somehow? Is that why he was feeling this way? Is that why he couldn’t remember anything? How could that have happened? They didn’t have any alcohol in the house.

“I swear to god, Max, if you ever –” she was getting ready to ream him a new one.

“Liz! What did I do?” he asked plaintively, sounding like a little boy in trouble.

“Do you know how worried I’ve been?” she seethed. She loomed over him like hellfire and he cowered back onto the bed. Whatever he did, he was in deep shit.

“Liz –”

“Do you know how worried you made everyone?”

“Liz –”

“You knew you went too far, but you did it anyway!”

“Liz –” Max was staring at her finger waging in front of his face but she wouldn’t let him get a word in.

“I had to call Rachel!”


“I thought you were dying! Don’t you EVER scare me like that again!”

“I’m sor –”

“I was up all night, making sure you were still breathing!”

“What hap –”

“If it wasn’t for Rachel and Carl, I don’t know what I would have done!”

“Carl?” Max squeaked out. Carl was here? Last night? Jesus, he’d missed a whole day of work! How could he explain this to Carl? Had he jeopardized his job?

“Promise me you’ll never do that to yourself again!” Liz cried.

“Liz –”

“Promise me!”

“I promise!” Max blurted out and reached for her hands. “But Liz –”

His words were cut off again when she hurled herself into his arms and buried her face against his chest. He could feel her trembling, and he suspected it was from both anger and from fear. What the hell had he done last night?

“Liz,” he took her by the shoulders and held her out far enough so he could see her face. “I’ll promise you anything, but if you want me to keep it, then you better tell me what I did, so I sure as hell won’t do it again.”

“You don’t remember?” she asked in a trembling voice.

“The last thing I remember was watching Ellie feed the ducks in the dream.” Looking at her face he could see the tears that had filled her eyes, just waiting to be shed. He felt awful, knowing he had done something to cause those tears.

“Max, it was the dream,” her lower lip trembled. “You pushed yourself too hard, and your body couldn’t take it. You depleted your energy so much that when the dream ended, you passed out. You lost consciousness. I couldn’t wake you. After an hour I didn’t know what else to do, so I called Rachel. She and Carl came over and it wasn’t until after she examined you that I knew you weren’t . . . weren’t . . .” her voice hitched in her throat, “you weren’t . . . dying . . .”

“Liz, honey, I’m sorry,” Max pulled her close again.

“I was so scared when I couldn’t wake you,” her chin quivered against his chest. “I didn’t know what was wrong, or if you were ever going to wake up.”

“Liz, hush . . .” Max tried to soothe her.

“I was afraid I – I might lose you,” the words caught in her throat.

“Liz, don’t. I’m fine. Everything’s fine.”

“I was so scared . . .” Liz sobbed, soaking his t-shirt with her tears.

“Hush,” Max stroked his fingers through her hair.

“You can’t do that again, Max,” Liz cried. “Promise me you won’t do that again.”

“Liz, it’s the only way we have of trying to get through to Ellie –”

“Then we’ll find another way!” Liz pulled back from him. “A way that won’t endanger you’re health! I won’t trade you for her!”

“Okay. Okay,” Max tried to calm her. “You’re right, Liz. I did push too hard, but I didn’t know then what it was doing to me. Next time, I’ll be more careful. Next time, when I feel the strain, I’ll let the dream go.”

“You promise?” Liz wiped away another tear that had spilled onto her cheek.

“I promise,” Max pulled her into his chest again, kissing the top of her head, as much to comfort her as it was to calm himself.

He couldn’t give up the only way he knew how to reach Ellie, but he also knew that pressing too hard could be dangerous. What if they found that elusive clue they’d been waiting for, but his strength was so sapped he couldn’t act on it? He needed to learn how to pace the dream, so they could accomplish their goal of expanding Ellie’s world, but not deplete his energy to the point where he couldn’t function afterwards.

* * * * *

Mary pulled the nightgown over Jenny’s head and then pulled her damp hair free. She’d just had her bath and brushed her teeth and it was time for a bedtime story. Running a brush through the child’s thick hair, Mary asked, “What would you like me to read to you tonight, dear?”

“The belbet wabbit,” Ellie scurried away from Mary and retrieved the book from the small bookcase next to her desk.

“The Velveteen Rabbit? Are you sure, sweetie?” Mary asked. “We just read that last night. Don’t you want me to read you something else?”

“Nope,” Ellie climbed on the bed and slipped her feet under the covers. “I like dis one.” She propped her pillows up and leaned back, with her doll tucked in the crook of her arm.

Mary smiled at her, chuckling inside at the stubborn streak the girl showed sometimes. She settled her weight onto the bed beside her and opened the front cover of the book. Her voice was soft and soothing as she began to read. “There once was a velveteen rabbit, and in the beginning he was really splendid. . .”

Mary read the book, feeling Jenny curled up beside her, under the warm blankets of her bed. She loved moments like these, when the words she read aloud could take Jenny to places she’d never been. They could both get lost in a world of make believe, where the sun couldn’t harm delicate skin, and little girls didn’t have to live alone.

“‘I suppose you are real?’ said the rabbit,” Mary continued reading the familiar words. “And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled. ‘The Boy’s Uncle made me Real,’ he said. ‘That was a great many years ago, but once you are real, you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.’ The Rabbit sighed. He thought it would be a long time before this magic called Real happened to him. He longed to become Real, to know what it felt like . . .”

Mary’s eyes were drawn to Jenny as the child lifted her hand to her mouth to cover a yawn and she closed the cover on the book. “That’s all for tonight, dear.” She lifted off the bed and leaned over her, kissing Ellie affectionately on the forehead, just as she did every night. “Sweet dreams, Jenny.”

“Mary?” Ellie lifted her arms up to wrap around Mary’s neck and she gave her a kiss on the cheek.

“Yes, dear?” Mary smiled down at her.

Ellie stared up into a face full of love, and she said in a whisper, “Dat’s not my name.”

Stunned, Mary stared back at the child that she loved more than anything in the world. What wasn’t her name? Was she trying to tell her that Jenny wasn’t her name? The bed creaked as she sat back down and she took Jenny’s hands in her own. In a hushed voice, she asked, “What do you mean, dear?”

“My name,” Ellie continued to whisper. She leaned over to look around Mary to make sure Doctor daddy wasn’t in the doorway, and then she leaned close to Mary again. “Someday, when I’m real, my name will be Ellie. And I’ll lib wiff my mommy, and my daddy, and my liddle brover Maffew. Him’s just a baby now. And we’ll hab a puppy named King and a big house in the sun.”

“Jenny . . .” Mary was at a loss for words.

“Someday, my Daddy will come find me, and then I can be real.”

Mary looked into the angelic face of the child and her eyes began to fill with tears. Her hand cupped that small face, not knowing what to say to her, or how to respond. She had always thought Jenny was coping well with her limited life, but obviously, she wasn’t. She had created a pretend family on paper, Daddy Max and Mommy Honey, and their children Ellie and Matthew. But now Jenny was confusing the real world with the make believe one, wanting to insert herself into the life of a child that only lived on paper.

Maybe it was the story of the velveteen rabbit, who wanted to be real, that had caused Jenny’s active imagination to go down this path. Was it just a phase, like an imaginary friend, one that she would outgrow? Or was it indicative of a psychological disorder, caused by her confinement?

“Don’t tell Doctor daddy,” Ellie put her finger up in front of her lips. “It’s a seeket. Our seeket.”

Johnson’s footsteps echoed in the hallway, headed in their direction, and Mary thought she saw Jenny’s eyes darken. The radiant smile she’d had on her face a few minutes ago disappeared, replaced by a look of resignation.

Johnson walked into the room, smiling at his little girl. “All ready for bed?” he asked, moving across the room to give Ellie a goodnight kiss.

Mary stood aside, quiet and introspective, watching the man and the child interact. She’d always felt Jenny was reserved around her father, rarely ever calling him Daddy. In fact, as Mary thought about it more, Jenny did always seem to preface it with the word ‘Doctor’ in front of it, as if it distinguished him from someone else. Someone like . . . her . . . real daddy?

No. That was crazy, Mary shook off the thought. She would need to talk to the Doctor about this. If Jenny was suffering from a psychological disorder, he would need to know that, so he could seek out proper treatment.

Johnson kissed Ellie on the cheek and ruffled her hair as he rose from the side of the bed. “Sleep tight, honey. Sweet dreams.”

“Nite,” Ellie settled into her pillow, pulling her doll close to her.

With a smile on his face, Johnson left the room and Mary moved back to the bed, sitting down beside her precious little girl. She leaned over her to kiss her goodnight and a pair of little arms wrapped around her neck, accompanied by the feel of the sweetest little lips touching her cheeks.

“I lub you Mary,” Ellie kissed her goodnight.

“I love you, too, sweetheart,” Mary brushed her hand over her cheek. “You go to sleep now.”

“’Member,” Ellie said conspiratorially. “Don’t tell him. It’s our seeket.”

Mary caressed the child’s face and then kissed her lightly on the forehead. She rose to her feet, crossed the room and turned back to watch Jenny from the doorway. Her eyes were already closed, her face peaceful and relaxed, and Mary’s heart ached for her. She turned off the light and quietly closed the door.

* * * * *

Mary stood just outside the door to the Doctor’s study trying to decide if she should talk to him about this now, or wait until tomorrow. She could hear him on the phone, his deep voice no more than a rumble, with only a word or two audible.

“. . . Sinclair . . . yes . . . trip . . . week . . . Pacifica . . .”

She waited a minute, trying not to eavesdrop, and when she heard him end the call, she lifted her hand to knock on the door. It hovered there, just inches away, while she debated with herself. Was there something seriously wrong with Jenny? Was it just a passing thing? Was it something she would outgrow?

With a sudden frown she scolded herself for her indecision. After all, he was the doctor! He was the one that would know if Jenny needed help. Who was she to keep this information from him? It was up to him to make the decisions about his own daughter. She knocked firmly on his door and stepped inside his office.

“Mary,” he acknowledged her. She didn’t come into his study often, usually only when she wanted to talk about Jenny, or a matter about the household. He left all of that in her capable hands.

Mary stared at the man she had known these past two years and a sudden thought struck her. Jenny was an affectionate child, generous with her hugs and her kisses, just as she’d demonstrated a few minutes ago. But in all this time, in all these months as Jenny’s speech improved and her vocabulary expanded, Mary had never heard her tell her father that she loved him. Never once.

Not a single, solitary time.

Yet the child said it to her nightly. Heartfelt words that Mary knew she meant. Why did Jenny withhold those words, those feelings, from her own father? Something felt wrong.

“What is it Mary?” Johnson asked when Mary fell silent.

She tried to think. Grasping for something, she said the only thing that came to mind. “Did you hire a research assistant today?”

“Yes,” Johnson leaned back in his chair. “Her name is Tracy. Tracy Coleman. But don’t worry about her. She’s been given strict instructions not to venture away from the lab. You won’t have to concern yourself with her at all.”

“When does she start?” Mary asked.

“Tomorrow,” Johnson answered. “I’ll acquaint her with the lab tomorrow and she’ll start on Thursday.”

“Will I get to meet her?” Mary asked curiously.

Johnson thought about that for a moment and then slowly nodded his head. He wanted to keep Tracy separated from Mary and Jenny, but there probably wouldn’t be any harm in Mary meeting her, at least the one time. “Of course,” Johnson smiled. “Perhaps when Jenny takes her nap, you can come to the lab and I’ll introduce you to her.”

Mary nodded and was about to leave when she decided to bring up the subject she had been thinking of this morning. “Doctor, I’ve been reading up a little about Gunther’s Disease.” For just a moment she thought she saw his eyes turn hard and his jaw clench and the words she was going to say stuck to her tongue.

“Yes?” Johnson prodded. Mary had been researching Gunther’s Disease? That was not good. Not good at all.

“Well . . .” For the first time, Mary felt a sense of unease around him. “I read that in some areas of the country support groups have formed, parents of afflicted children. Since these poor children can’t go out during the day, they meet at night, after the sun has gone down. They take the children places they can’t go during the day. The park, or the lake, or-”

“Thank you Mary,” Johnson cut her off. “I’ll look into it.”

“Yes . . .yes, of course,” Mary nodded, feeling as if she’d just been censured. “I’ll just be off to bed now.”

“Goodnight, Mary,” Johnson dismissed her.

“Goodnight, Doctor.” Mary turned from the office and made her way to her room. She closed the door and then leaned against it, fighting against a sense of unease. She’d always found the Doctor a pleasant man, but just now he’d seemed so cold. Maybe she was just seeing something that wasn’t really there, because she was worried about Jenny. Shaking it off, she decided that must be it. The Doctor was a good man.

She crossed the small room to her bed, with her arms wrapped around herself, trying to fight off a sudden chill.

Come back on Thursday for more.

(edited by admin to fix the page sizing wackiness)

[ edited 3 time(s), last at 15-Jul-2002 2:23:34 AM ]
posted on 19-Jul-2002 12:34:41 AM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
Rating: PG13 to NC 17

Link to parts 1 to 59

Author note: Sorry I’m so late! I noticed a couple of new posters. Welcome aboard and hold on for the ride. It can get bumpy at times! Well, let’s see what the gang is up to tonight . . .

Captive Hearts
Part 95

Ellie lay in her bed, with her dark hair spread across her pillow and her doll tucked close to her side. Her rest was peaceful, and her face looked calm and relaxed. Under her eyelids, her eyes darted back and forth as she wandered through her dreams . . .

It was quiet here tonight, with the sound of tree limbs creaking in the breeze the only noise to break the silence. The tall grass waved around her and her hand brushed though the tassels at the tips, feeling the feathery touch. It was lonely here without Mommy and Daddy.

She could hear the babble of the stream in the near distance, but she stayed away from the water. Daddy told her never to go by the water when she was alone. She always tried to do whatever Daddy said, because he knew everything.

A noise suddenly frightened her and she snapped her head toward the brambles over beyond the trees. Something was in the bushes. Something scary. Maybe it was the kitty. Maybe it wasn’t. She ducked down in the grass and peeked over the top, trying to see what was there.

She wished Mommy and Daddy would come and join her but she couldn’t feel them tonight and that made her think about what Mary had said during the day. That this wasn’t real. That Mommy and Daddy weren’t real. That living with Mary and Doctor daddy was all that there was.

She pulled at the grass, trying not to cry.

* * * * *

Max tried to concentrate but his mind was still too foggy. He sat on the bed with his back against the headboard, and Liz comfortably tucked between his legs. Her arms cradled Matthew, just like last night, and all the other nights before that, but he couldn’t make the connection. He couldn’t bring them all together the way he desperately wanted to.

“Max,” Liz reached for his hand and pulled it down from her temple. She brushed her lips over his palm and then leaned back against him, looking up at his weary face. “You’re pushing yourself again.”

“But-” He tried to defend himself, but he knew she was right. He hadn’t regained his strength yet, and the power drain was preventing him from connecting them to their dreamworld. Was Ellie there now? Waiting for him to bring them together? Counting on him? Had he failed –

“Max, stop,” Liz turned around to face him.

“Stop what?” he couldn’t look her in the eye. He knew what she meant.

“Stop blaming yourself,” she fixed him with a stare. She knew they shouldn’t have tried tonight. It was too soon. “I know you, Max. I know what you’re thinking.”

“I’m not-” he started to deny it, but she cut him off.

“You’re blaming yourself for not being able to contact her tonight. You’re thinking that it’s all your fault that Ellie is alone tonight because you don’t have the strength to reach out to her.”

“Liz . . .” he turned his head away from her.

“Aren’t you?” she cupped his chin and turned him back. He tried to pull his head away, but she wouldn’t let him. She held his chin firmly and asked in almost a whisper, “Aren’t you?”

Max nodded slowly and finally lifted his eyes to meet hers. She could see the depth of his sorrow there and she pulled his head down to cradle him against her shoulder. His arms slid around her and he pulled her as close as he could, without crushing the small body of his son between them. He closed his eyes, and let his head rest against her warmth, wishing he had her kind of strength.

“We’ll try again tomorrow,” Liz said softly into his ear. “And the day after that, and the day after that, until your power returns and we make contact again.”

“But what if Ellie’s waiting for us? What if she’s-”

“Max, if we don’t come tonight, Ellie will take her dream somewhere else,” Liz said soothingly. “She’ll be fine.”

“Are you sure?” Sometimes her faith was all he could cling to.

“I’m positive,” she smiled, believing it, without a shadow of a doubt.

* * * * *

Ellie heard a noise behind her now and she turned in the grass, looking toward the stream. Was something over there? The noise came again and her eyes flew open wide when a duck climbed the embankment and shook his wings. He waddled along, with his orange bill plucking at the dirt.

“How’d him get here?” Ellie wondered aloud. There’d never been a duck here before. Too bad she didn’t have any bread. Another duck waddled up behind the first, and then another and another, until soon at least half a dozen were waddling across the ground, looking for food. Ellie watched one wiggle his head and shake his feathers and when he let out a quack, Ellie couldn’t help but giggle.

“Quack,” she mimicked. “Quack! Quack!” and then she snickered with her hand over her mouth.

The duck whipped its head up and her eyes grew wide as it started to walk right toward her. The others followed and soon they were swarming all around her, some almost as big as she was. Their bills plucked at her clothes looking for food and Ellie decided she better run before they ate her.

She took off through the tall grass, screaming as the ducks chased her, and she ran right out of the dream.

She found herself in a new place, and she came to a sudden stop so she could look all around her. She’d never seen a place like this before, with so much color. Her meadow had flowers, but nothing like this. There were flowers everywhere, big flowers, little flowers, in every color of the rainbow. There were white roses, the kind her daddy had shown her that her mommy liked so much, and yellow ones, and pink, and red, and orangey.

There were other flowers too, kinds that she didn’t know the names of because she’d never seen them before. Where was this place?

A soft humming reached her ears, a melody that sounded familiar, and she walked in that direction to find where it was coming from. She already thought she knew who it was. She walked along slowly, quietly, just in case she was wrong, and when she reached the small clearing, the figure came into view.

Her short hair was covered by a strange hat that looked like it was made of straw. Her flowery shirt was protected by an apron with pockets on the front. Her pants were loose and kind of baggy, because that’s the way she always wore them. That is, when she wore pants. She usually wore a dress. She was holding something in her hand, and using it to cut off the flowers that were fading.

“Mary?” Ellie stepped out of the bushes. “Is that you Mary?”

Mary turned in surprise and a smile lit her face. “Jenny! What are you doing here?” She looked worriedly up at the sky and then back down to the child. “You shouldn’t be here, dear.”

“Where are we?” Ellie asked. “What is dis place?”

“This is my garden,” Mary answered. “My special place. I had a garden like this when I was young. Do you like it?”

“It pretty here,” Ellie nodded.

“I especially liked the roses,” Mary cupped one tenderly with her hand. “I was always fond of the red ones, so vibrant with color.”

“My mommy likes the white ones,” Ellie told her. “Daddy always makes sure dares one in the house.”

Mary smiled at Jenny indulgently. There was no need to correct her. Anything was possible, here, in their dreams. “It sounds like your Daddy loves your Mommy very much.”

“Him do!” Ellie smiled, and then giggled behind her hand. “Him’s always kissin on her!”

“Is he now!” Mary chuckled. Jenny was so adorable when she smiled.

“Do you want to see my special place?” Ellie asked.

“Of course,” Mary answered and Ellie took her by the hand. She walked back the way she came, keeping her eyes open for those ducks. She didn’t want them to eat Mary, too.

“Where are we going, honey?” Mary asked.

“Dis way,” Ellie tugged at her hand. “I hab to find it agin.” She stopped for a minute and closed her eyes, feeling for it with her mind. She might not be three yet, but she was born with her mother’s mind and her father’s gifts, and she was a fast learner. Her eyes opened and she smiled up at Mary, repeating, “Dis way.”

They made their way through the thicket and Ellie heard Mary’s inhalation of breath as they emerged at the edge of the meadow. The tall grass was kissed by the sun. The summer breeze rippled through the trees like music. The babble of the distant stream was soothing and filled Mary with a sense of peace.

“Jenny,” she sighed. “It’s so beautiful here.”

“When I’m here,” she looked up at Mary with love, “my name is Ellie.”

“Ellie,” Mary smiled down at the child. “What a beautiful name.”

* * * * *

Ellie lay in her bed with only her eyes moving beneath her lids. Her body was relaxed and her small chest rose and fell rhythmically. A smile played at the corner of her lips and then she mumbled a word softly in her sleep. “Ducks.”

In another room, Mary was in the midst of a dream of her own, a dream unlike any other she’d ever had. There was something almost . . . real about this dream, and in the morning she would wonder if the book she’d been reading to Jenny the night before had had a lasting effect, carrying over into her dreams. The velveteen rabbit had wanted to be real. Jenny had said she wanted to be real. The dream had certainly felt real. But for now, tonight, Mary was locked inside that dream, and with a smile on her face she uttered a name filled with reverence and love.

“Ellie . . .”

* * * * *

Max lay in bed listening to the silence of the house, unable to go back to sleep. He had been this way for years now, unable to sleep at night, thinking about all the things that had happened in his life, to him, and to those that he loved. It replayed like a movie through his mind, the key events that shaped him into the man that he’d become.

The first event was the catalyst that set everything that was to follow in motion. A gunshot ringing loudly in a crowed restaurant set the stage, and he was helpless to stop what was to come. How could he not save her? She was his whole world, even then.

The second key event was his decision to take a drive that spring day. If he had only known, he wouldn’t have gone, or he would have left the orb at Michael’s. But he had kept it in the mistaken belief it was safer with him, than away from him. And because of that, because of his poor choice, Liz had lived through hell. They’d been transported from the beauty of Mirror Lake to a place that was hell on earth, and Liz had been subjected to the most hideous things imaginable.

The third key event was his escape from that hell . . . without her. He could still see it clearly in his mind. Each and every second as he stood in the jump room, helplessly looking at Liz through the glass on the other side, knowing in seconds he would be free, while she was still trapped in hell. Even now, his eyes filled with tears at the memory.

The fourth key event of his life was the night he’d had to make the choice that would haunt him for the rest of his life. In his heart he knew it was the right choice, but it didn’t make it easier to live with. He’d burst into the room to the sight of Liz lying on the operating table, with her life’s blood seeping out of her, and then a noise had drawn his attention to another part of the room. There he had been blessed with the first sight of his daughter, only minutes old, squirming with life and vitality, while her mother lay dying only a few feet away.

How could any man survive a choice between his wife and his child?

His only saving grace was that Ellie was alive, and hope still existed that they would someday find her, and bring her home. Clinging to that belief was the only way he could live with himself.

He listened to the quiet sounds of Liz sleeping beside him. She was curled up against him tonight, with her head on his chest and her feet tangled up with his. In all these years, she’d never once blamed him for the horror she’d endured. She’d shown him nothing but her unwavering love. How he, Max Evans, had ever been deemed worthy of that love, he’d never know, but he thanked the stars above him every night.

Gently, with infinite care and love, Max lifted her head from his chest and moved her to the comfort of her pillow. He disentangled his feet from hers, and careful not to disturb her, he slowly rose from the bed. He made his way silently across the floor and trekked the short distance to Matthew’s room.

A nightlight in the hall lit his way, and another in an outlet in Matthew’s room gave him just enough light to see the angelic face of his sleeping son. Max hovered over him, wondering if this was how Ellie had looked as an infant. Had she slept with her little hands fisted near her ears? Had she made contented little grunting sounds in her throat when she nursed from a bottle, or were those sounds reserved for the pleasure derived from nursing from a mother’s breast, something Ellie was denied?

Had her needs been taken care of promptly? Had her diaper been changed when it was wet, or dirty, or had she been forced to lie in her own waste, at the mercy of the man who took her from him? Did he hold her when she cried, or did he let her lie in her bed until she cried herself to sleep?

Did she know that he would give anything to have her back again? To have just one chance to hold her in his arms?

He picked up the oversized bear from the rocking chair beside Matthew and set it nearby on the floor. Tonight, Max would stand watch, a silent sentry beside the sleeping form of his son, watching over him and keeping him safe from harm. No one would ever hurt Liz again, or take Matthew from him. No one.

Matthew stirred in his sleep, stretching his little arms before settling back down. Hovering over the cradle, Max slid his hands beneath his son’s small body and lifted him to his chest. He cupped his bottom with one hand and his head with the other, feeling the way the boy snuggled into his chest, and then he turned around and slowly lowered himself into the rocking chair.

The house was silent except for the soft creaking of the chair as Max rocked back and forth. On the wall above the crib were two drawings that he stared at now as the baby in his arms returned to the peace of sleep. One drawing was an infant girl whose beautiful eyes dominated her face. The second was the likeness of her infant brother showing his face full of wonder. Both images were drawn from memories captured in his mind when his children had been only minutes old.

Someday, Max silently promised as he slowly rocked back and forth in the chair, someday it wouldn’t be just her image that filled this house. Someday, her laughter would fill it as well, because Ellie was coming home. He didn’t know how, or when, but he knew he could never stop until he brought her home to Liz . . . or died trying.

It would be the next major event in his life.

Come back on Sunday night for the next part.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 19-Jul-2002 12:38:53 AM ]
posted on 19-Jul-2002 6:05:19 AM by Breathless
Moonlit Jade, I think the site is having trouble. I keep getting the same message on a lot of the threads. I wonder if I should repost it on this page, or if the same thing will happen again.

posted on 22-Jul-2002 1:09:25 AM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17

Link to parts 1 to 59

Author note: I hope this works. The board didn’t work for me earlier in the day, but I promised an update, so I’m trying. Let’s give it a go . . .

Captive Hearts
Part 96

Mary hummed as she moved around the kitchen preparing the mornings breakfast. She’d awakened early, feeling refreshed after a night of pleasant dreams and even her arthritic joints couldn’t slow her down today. Her step was spry as she moved back and forth between the refrigerator and the stove, setting out a morning feast.

Ellie was trying her best to be helpful too, carting a container of juice to the table that was nearly as big as she was.

“Do you need help there, Jenny?” Mary tried not to laugh at her.

“Me do it!” Ellie said between gritted teeth. She had the juice in a bear hug and when she reached the table she grunted and groaned as she tried to lift it. She was barely tall enough to see the tabletop, let alone lift something heavy onto it, but Mary could see her determination. She could see the child working the problem in her mind, stubbornly refusing to give up when the weight of the juice container proved too much for her to lift above her head. Instead, Mary admired her perseverance as she watched her set the juice on the seat of the chair. She scampered up beside it, lifting it from the chair to the tabletop, and then turned to Mary with a smile lighting her face and exclaimed, “See!”

“You did that quite well!” Mary praised her.

“I git the bwead now,” Ellie climbed down from the chair and wiped her hands on her dress. It was a flowery print, ablaze with colors, and looking at her chest Ellie pointed at a red rose, saying, “You like dis one.”

“What dear?” Mary cocked her head in surprise.

“Dis one,” Ellie repeated and poked at the flower on her dress. “You like wed woses.”

“Jenny,” Mary paused with the spatula in her hand. “How do you know I like red roses the best?”

“You toad me,” Ellie answered and then carried the plate of toast to the table. She scampered up onto her chair and lifted two slices and arranged them on her plate.

“When?” Mary stared at the girl. She couldn’t remember telling Jenny that, except in the dream she’d had last night. She could still remember the details of it and that surprised her greatly. She usually didn’t remember her dreams at all, or only fuzzy remnants remained. Not like last nights, where every rich detail was still sharp in her mind.

Ellie lifted her eyes from her plate and stared into Mary’s. She wished Mary would call her Ellie again, like she had last night in the dream, instead of the name Doctor daddy gave her. She still didn’t know how she had gotten inside Mary’s dream, or how she had brought Mary into her own. She’d walked hand in hand with Mary through the tall grass of the meadow and showed her the stream with the fishes, and the hermit crabs that weren’t supposed to live there, but did. The ducks had come out of hiding and much to Ellie’s surprise, they were satisfied to swim on top of the water, and they didn’t try to eat her, not even once.

Ellie showed Mary the rock dam her daddy had built to create a pool and they watched all the creatures that swam or crawled or floated by. They sat on the bank of the stream and let the sun warm their skin and they waited, but mommy and daddy didn’t come. Did daddy stay away because Mary was there?

Daddy said their dreams were a secret and no one else should ever know they were able to talk to each other that way. Had she done something bad? Was daddy going to leave her now and never come again because she had showed Mary their special place?

“Do you remember when I told you that?” Mary prodded again.

Ellie looked at the aged face, knowing in her heart that her daddy would love Mary, too, just like she did, if he ever got to meet her. She was sure of it. If she told Mary their secret, maybe Mary would help her, so daddy could come and find her, and make her real.

“You toad me-” Ellie started to say and then her mouth snapped closed when she heard footsteps in the hall. Doctor daddy was coming.

“Jenny,” Mary urged the child to finish what she was going to say. She, too, had heard the Doctor’s footsteps, and seen the way the light faded from the child’s eyes as the sound neared the kitchen. He was almost there, and Mary leaned forward imploring her to tell her. “When, Jenny? When?”

Ellie lowered her eyes and stared at the toast on her plate. In a voice so soft Mary could barely hear it, Ellie said, “I don’t memember.”

Johnson entered the kitchen with a smile on his face and his stomach grumbling, unaware of what he had just interrupted. Ellie pulled back inside herself, protecting her secrets. Mary returned to the omelets she was cooking, but her own appetite was now gone. Something was wrong here. Very wrong. She just didn’t know what.

* * * * *

Max took one more sip of his coffee and then rinsed out the cup and set it in the sink. He checked his shirt pocket to make sure he had his memo book and a pen and then reached for his jacket on the back of a kitchen chair. Time to go to work and try to make up for missing yesterday.

“Are you leaving now?” Liz asked from the doorway.

His head shot up at her sudden appearance, startled to see her standing there. He thought she was still sleeping. “Yeah,” he said as he watched her walk in his direction. “I thought I’d go in a little early, to try to make up for yesterday.”

She came to a stop directly in front of him and she could see the dark circles under his eyes. “You look tired.”

“I’m fine,” Max tried to reassure her. He’d gotten a couple hours sleep after Matthew’s 2:00 am feeding.

Her hand lifted to cup his cheek, saying, “Maybe you should stay home today, too. Rest. Get your strength back.”

“No,” Max covered her hand with his. “Really, I’m fine. I slept almost all day yesterday, remember?” He kissed the palm of her hand and then the phone rang. Giving her one of his heart stopping smiles, he said, “I’ll get it.”

Liz watched him as he answered the phone and it didn’t take long for her to realize who he was talking to.

“Yeah. I’m fine. I was just heading in . . . Now? This morning?” He turned to look at Liz and mouthed the name ‘Carl’ and pointed to the phone. She’d figured that out already. “You want me to come to the station first, or stop there on my way in? . . . Sure . . . Yeah . . . Okay . . . Are you going to meet me there? . . . Oh . . . No, no, I can do it . . . I have to go solo sometime, don’t I? . . . Okay . . . Okay . . . Apartment 514, got it . . . Okay, I’ll see you later this morning . . . Right . . . Okay, bye.”

“That was Carl,” Max said as he hung up the phone.

“You have an assignment this morning?” she asked.

“Yes,” he crossed the kitchen and took Liz into his arms. He brushed her sleep tangled hair back from her face, and said, “I have to go back to Park Vista over on Beardsley Road, across from the park. I have to interview the neighbor again, in the Adam Pruett case. There’s a few more questions Carl wants me to ask.”

Liz wrapped her arms around his waist and looked up into his face and she couldn’t mask the worry on her own. “Promise me that you’ll come home if you get too tired.”

“I promise,” Max kissed her gently on the lips. He pulled her close with her head tucked comfortably under his chin and he briefly closed his eyes. What would he ever do without her?

* * * * *

Tracy Coleman shut off the sputtering engine of her old clunker and sat for a moment behind the steering wheel, taking a deep breath to try to settle her nerves. With the money she would be earning this summer working for Dr. Sinclair maybe she could finally get her car fixed up. God knew it was going to die if she didn’t get it fixed soon. She checked her reflection in the mirror, tucked a loose strand of hair back into the chignon at the back of her head, and then climbed from her car.

Glancing at her watch, she noticed she was a few minutes early and she was glad she’d given herself plenty of time this morning. It wouldn’t be good to be late on her first day. She looked at the address she had written on a slip of paper and then up at the nearest building. She thought it was a little strange that Dr. Sinclair had a lab in the middle of a residential neighborhood, but who was she to ask questions? It was a job!

She turned to the left, looking for the right building and passed by an inviting looking coffee shop. She had time to spare, and the rich aroma was calling her, and she just couldn’t resist. She opened the door and stepped inside with her eyes focused on the menu on the wall. Did she want a latte? A mocha? Hum. Decisions, decisions. She stood in line behind a guy with a great looking ass and a set of broad shoulders and it served to remind her that she hadn’t gotten any lately. She wondered if his front side looked as good as his back side. He reached into his back pocket to retrieve his wallet and Tracy liked the look of that hand. That was one damn sexy hand. He replaced the wallet and turned around with a coffee in one hand and a donut in the other and she finally got a look at his face. Oh Mama! Man was he gorgeous! Look at those eyes! Look at that chin! That nose! Hubba hubba! Oh . . . wait . . . didn’t she know him?

Max paid for his donut and coffee and turned to leave. His appointment with Mr. Decker wasn’t for another fifteen minutes, plenty of time to get some sugar flowing through his veins and caffeine to wake him up. He almost bumped into the girl standing behind him and he said, “Excuse me,” with barely a glance in her direction. He headed for the door, deciding to sit at the little curbside table he had seen outside.

“Max?” Tracy said to his retreating figure. “Is that you, Max?”

Max turned around, looking to see who was calling him. The girl that was standing in line behind him was staring right at him and it took him a minute to recognize her. “Tracy?”

“Yeah!” she smiled. The clerk behind the counter interrupted and Tracy ordered a latte quickly, then turned back to talk to Max. “How is Liz? How’s the baby?”

“Good!” Max beamed. “Great!” He’d met Tracy a few of times and he always thought she was nice. Liz really liked having her as her lab partner. She said they worked well together.

“How old is he now?” Tracy asked as she paid for her latte and moved over to stand by Max.

“He’ll be three weeks old on Saturday,” Max couldn’t stop smiling. “I have a picture. You want to see him?”

“Sure!” Tracy said enthusiastically.

Max looked around for some place to set down his coffee and saw an empty table over by the door. He took a quick bite of his donut and chewed quickly while he fished out his wallet. He pulled a picture out of the sleeve and handed it to her, saying, “This is Matthew when he was about twelve hours old.”

“Ohhhhh,” Tracy cooed. “He’s so cute!” She could certainly tell Matthew took after his father!

Max couldn’t stop smiling. He though Matthew was pretty adorable, too. “Here’s one of him at one week, and I think this one is at two weeks. Yeah,” he handed her the wallet size photo. “He’s two weeks there. And this is one of my favorites. It’s the three of us together.” Max handed her a picture of himself, with Liz and Matthew, taken just last weekend. He though Liz looked beautiful in it, holding Matthew in her arms. His own image was standing behind Liz, with a big grin on his face.

“Oh, what a beautiful family,” Tracy smiled. “All you need is a little girl to go with it, and you’ll be the perfect family!”

He tried not to react to that and instead just nodded his head and said, “Yeah.” Tracy didn’t know about Ellie. Not very many people did.

“You’re so lucky,” Tracy sighed and handed back the pictures. She was starting to wonder if she was ever going to meet Mr. Right.

“You’ll have to come over and see him sometime,” Max suggested as he put the pictures away. “And Liz would love to see you. I think she’s starting to get cabin fever, stuck in the house all the time. You should call her.”

“I will,” Tracy said excitedly. “I can tell her all about my new job!”

“New job?” Max raised his eyebrows.

“Yes!” and then she looked quickly at her watch. “Oh, I better get going! I have orientation this morning and I don’t want to be late!”

“Where are you working at?” Max asked curiously.

“Just down the block,” she answered. “It’s a research internship for a Dr. Sinclair. I’m lucky Liz took the summer off, or she probably would have gotten the job! Well, I better run. Tell Liz I said hi!”

“I will,” Max gave her a wave as she headed out the door. She was a nice girl. Maybe he’d have to introduce her to Chris. It was about time that boy settled down.

* * * * *

“Awl done,” Ellie declared and climbed down from the table. She took her lunch plate and dropped the bread crust into the garbage and then stretched on her tiptoes to push the plate onto the countertop by the sink.

“Let me get you washed up,” Mary smiled at the peanut butter and jam covered face. She lifted Jenny up with a groan and set her on the counter thinking it wouldn’t be long before she wouldn’t be able to do that anymore. She touched Jenny’s nose and said, “You are getting so big.”

“I’m a big girl now!” Ellie threw up her hands enthusiastically.

“You certainly are!” Mary scrubbed at her face and then the girl’s mouth opened wide in a yawn. “Are you ready for your nap, dear?”

“Me not tired!” Ellie yawned again.

“You’re not, huh?” Mary chuckled.

“Nope!” and then she rubbed at her eyes. “Big girls don’t need naps!” Mary set her feet back on the floor and then took the child’s small hand and they turned toward the bedroom. “I can count now!” Ellie announced as she skipped, jumped and hopped down the hall.

“You can?” Mary humored her.

“Yep! One, two, fibe, seben, free . . .”

Mary couldn’t help but chuckle.

* * * * *

Mary closed the door to Jenny’s bedroom half way and made her way down the hall to the main entryway. Jenny might have thought she wasn’t tired, but she was asleep by the time her head fit the pillow. At the door, she keyed in her security password and at the sound of the click, she opened it and stepped out into the exterior hallway. By now, she was used to the high level of security the good Doctor insisted on.

She made her way down the sterile corridor until she reached another security panel and paused to enter her access code to allow her entrance into the lab. She didn’t come here often. In fact, she wouldn’t have come here today if it hadn’t been for the Doctor’s new assistant. She wanted to meet her.

When the light turned green, Mary cautiously entered the lab, letting her eyes sweep through the room. “Doctor?” she called out when she didn’t see him. “Doctor?” She wasn’t allowed beyond this room due to the nature of the experiments he was working on. A contaminant could ruin weeks, even years, worth of experiments. “Doctor?”

“Mary?” his head poked through one of the doors at the back of the room. She knew the lab was huge, spanning the width of the entire building, but she’d never seen any more of it than this.

“Jenny’s gone down for her nap,” Mary explained. “I thought I’d come by and-”

“Oh, yes,” Johnson said, remembering why she was here. “Tracy?” he stuck his head back through the door. “There’s someone here I’d like you to meet.” A young girl, early 20’s Mary surmised, came through the door and smiled pleasantly. “Mary, this is Tracy. She’ll probably be here for the better part of the summer. Tracy, this is Mary, my housekeeper.”

“Nice to meet you, Mary,” Tracy smiled and stepped forward offering her hand.

“Nice to meet you, too,” Mary shook it lightly.

“Tracy’s just acquainting herself with the facility today,” Johnson explained. “Tomorrow she starts in earnest. I’ve given her a keycard for the elevator and an access code to get into the lab.” If all went according to plan, Johnson thought silently, this would be the one and only time Mary and Tracy would ever see each other.

“Well, I’ll let you get back to it,” Mary stepped back. “I just wanted to stop by and say hi.”

“It was nice to meet you,” Tracy said politely. Inwardly, she was feeling a little overwhelmed. This was her first job in her chosen field of study, and while she expected the lab to be high tech, the level of security here was a little daunting. She’d even had to use the phone from the apartment building foyer to call Dr. Sinclair in the lab because the elevator wouldn’t descend without an access card. Unless you had personal knowledge of it, you’d never know a biolab was below ground.

Her day went by in a blur and that night, just before she climbed into bed, she set out her clothes for tomorrow and checked to make sure she hadn’t misplaced her access card to get in the lab. She could hardly wait to start the work. Slipping into bed, she briefly thought about her encounter in the coffee shop this morning. Damn, that Max Evans was one hot looking guy! Maybe she could ask Liz if he had any brothers. Tracy went to sleep thinking of Liz, and how lucky she was with her handsome husband and a darling son, and her perfect little life.

* * * * *

Max lay on his back with his arms behind his head, staring up at the ceiling of his bedroom. He could hear Liz settling Matthew back to bed in the cradle in his room and then the sound of her light tread as she came back into their bedroom. The bed dipped as she slipped under the covers on her side and then her warm body pressed up against him. She rested her cheek against his chest, listening to the strong beating of his heart, and he slid his arm slid out from behind his head to wrap around her shoulders.

“Maybe tomorrow,” Liz said softly, trying to soothe his distress.

“Maybe,” his voice sounded full of sorrow. For the second night in a row he couldn’t connect with Ellie. Not only that, he couldn’t pull Liz into the dream world, either. His power still hadn’t regenerated and he felt adrift, withdrawn, separated from the one he wanted to be with. Disconnected.

“What if I lost it, Liz?” Max ached at the thought. In the dim light he could see little, but it didn’t matter. Her innocent little face swam before his eyes.

“Max . . .” Liz said gently. She knew he was thinking of Ellie.

“What if I lost the ability to reach her again?” The guilt was weighing him down. In pushing himself too hard, had he lost the only way Liz had of seeing her daughter? He knew Ellie would always be able to come to him in his dreams, but what if he could never reconnect her with Liz, so she could be there too?

Liz lifted her head from his chest and shifted over to lie on her side of the bed. Max felt the loss of her warmth immediately, but then her arms were pulling him over to her, saying, “C’mere.” He curled into her, resting his head on the soft pillow of her breast and he closed his eyes as he breathed in her soothing scent. She always knew how to calm him.

“You didn’t lose it, Max,” Liz stroked her fingers through his hair. “You just need to recharge your batteries, that’s all.”

“I hope so . . .” His hand splayed across her ribs, feeling her delicate bones under the silk of her nightgown.

“I know so,” she said soothingly.

He couldn’t help the small smile that crept over his lips. She was always so sure of things. The steady rhythm of her heart eased his troubled mind, the soft touch of her fingers against his skin helped calmed his sense of guilt, the gentle rise and fall of her breast lulled him in a way nothing else could. His eyes grew heavy as he drifted into a deep and restful sleep. Dreamless, healing sleep, safe within her arms.

“Sleep well, my love,” Liz whispered when his breathing evened out. “Sleep well.”

Come back on Thursday to see what happens next.

posted on 22-Jul-2002 1:55:08 AM by Breathless

Ellie couldn't dreamwalk Max the night before because he didn't sleep much. He slept all day, woke up around 7 pm (when Liz gave him the what for) and then couldn't sleep that night. He sat up rocking Matthew for most of it. For the dreamwalk, timing is everything. Ellie can dreamwalk him if they are both asleep at the same time, and dreaming too. For Max to make the connection to bring Liz into the dreamworld, he does that when he's awake, but the power drain is preventing that right now.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 22-Jul-2002 1:56:35 AM ]
posted on 26-Jul-2002 12:37:30 AM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17

Link to parts 1 to 59

Captive Hearts
Part 97

Mary moved about the kitchen checking the cupboards and the pantry and the refrigerator, preparing her grocery list for the week. Sunday was the one day of the week when she could get out in the fresh air, but of course with that came the hustle and bustle of city life. It was quite different from the quiet seclusion she lived with here within these walls.

Outside, life was loud and boisterous, but not in here. The sounds of traffic, of blaring horns, of motorcycles revving engines didn’t reach inside these walls. Music didn’t blast from boom boxes or stereos here. The din of humanity didn’t make a noise. Mary liked the calm, quiet atmosphere here in this place she lived, but Jenny was right about one thing. This life wasn’t . . . real. It wasn’t . . . life. It wasn’t . . . living. Jenny was only existing here, completely unaware of the life that lived around her.

For a long time Mary had been content with this life. Jenny was so small, protecting her from harm was primary. But now as she grew, the child needed more than just protection. She needed to see that there was more to life than . . . this.

But so far, the Doctor hadn’t acted on her suggestion about taking Jenny outside at night, when the sun couldn’t harm her. She was disturbed by that. After all, he was a man of medicine. Surely he must know the alternatives available to victims of this awful disease. He’d been trying to find a cure since Jenny’s birth. Didn’t he know the psychological damage of isolation could be just as traumatic as the physical injury the sun could cause?

“Are you goin to see Marfa?”

Mary turned from her inspection of the cupboard at the sound of the sweet child’s voice. Jenny was standing right behind her, with a picture book in her hand. “Yes, dear. I’ll be leaving after lunch, but I won’t be gone long.”

“Can I see Marfa?” Ellie asked.

Mary squatted down in front of her and smoothed her hand through the girl’s long hair. “I’d like to take you Jenny, but you know I can’t. I’m sorry.”

“Oh,” Ellie said softly. She would have liked to meet Martha. Mary talked about her a lot, and she knew it made Mary sad that Martha couldn’t talk to her anymore. Her mouth didn’t work right. Ellie knew she might be able to fix that, so that Martha could talk again, but she couldn’t do it from here.

“Is there anything you want me to get while I’m out?” Mary asked.

“Ice keem?” Ellie’s face brightened. “Can you git me ice keem?”

“Sure,” Mary ruffled her hair and rose to her feet. “What kind do you want?”

“Banilla,” Ellie said matter-of-factly and she climbed onto a chair at the table. She settled into a comfortable position with her little legs swinging back and forth, miles above the floor. “I like banilla. Mommy does, too.”

Mary was in the middle of writing vanilla ice cream on her list when her hand froze in mid stroke. She looked over at Jenny, once again disturbed by the child referring to her mother in the present tense. Her mother had been dead for well over two and a half years.

The last few nights Mary had been having the most wonderful dreams, of her and Jenny strolling through a rose garden, like the one that Mary’s own mother had tended when she was a child. Then the dream would shift and they would be walking through a beautiful meadow under a deep blue sky. Jenny said her name was Ellie there, and in the dream it seemed so right to call her that. They had sat by the stream, or in the shade of the trees, and Ellie had waited for her mommy and daddy to come, but they never did.

Was this the mommy that liked vanilla ice cream? The dream mommy that Jenny wanted to be real?

Ellie sat at the table looking through the picture book, but her thoughts were far away. She hadn’t been able to feel her daddy for a few days now. He had told her never to share their secrets, but she had. She had shown Mary their special place. Is that why he went away? If she didn’t bring Mary there anymore, would daddy come back?

She liked Mary being in her special place. She liked hearing Mary call her Ellie when they were there. She wanted Mary to see her mommy and daddy, so she would know they were real and not just a drawing in her book. But, she couldn’t ignore the things her daddy had said. She wouldn’t bring Mary into her dreams tonight, and then she’d see if her daddy would come back.

* * * * *

Max pushed the lawnmower in front of him, feeling the sun baking down on his slick skin. He’d shed his shirt twenty minutes ago, thoroughly drenched with his sweat, and his shorts weren’t doing much better. The clothes he still wore were sticking to his skin. The sweat was dripping into his eyes and he used his forearm to wipe it away.

Liz watched him from the kitchen window as she packed their picnic lunch, watching the muscles in his back flex as he pushed the mower, watching the way his bare thighs rippled and glistened, watching the way the material of his shorts clung to his oh so sexy butt. Seeing his body all hot and sweaty, Liz knew just what he needed.

Max paused, surveying his handiwork and then he cut the engine to the mower. He pushed the now silent machine to the shed beside the patio and put it away, and then he felt a familiar hand stroke across the prominent muscles of his back. He turned quickly to see the impish face of his wife.

“I thought you could use this,” Liz said in a sultry tone, holding out a tall glass of ice cold lemonade.

“Thanks,” Max grabbed the glass eagerly and took a deep drink. Liz watched his Adam’s apple bob up and down as he gulped the drink, thinking that he looked awfully damn sexy all hot and sweaty like that and she couldn’t stop her hand from lifting up to caress the muscles of his chest.

As if he wasn’t hot enough, Liz took a step closer, with her other hand dipping below the waistband of his shorts. He nearly choked on his drink and he came sputtering up for air, dropping his eyes to look at her devilish face. He felt the button on his shorts open and the drag of the zipper as it was lowered, and after a quick look over at the neighbor’s yard, he asked, “Liz, what are you doing?”

Max asked that question a lot.

“You need a shower,” Liz purred and her eyes traveled over his body. “I’m just giving you a . . . a little help. A . . . heads up. A . . .”

“A helping hand?” Max smirked.

“Exactly,” Liz smiled as her hand slipped around a certain rod of steel. His body jerked as soon as she touched him and he couldn’t contain a groan.

“I thought you wanted to go on a picnic,” Max managed to get the words out.

“I do,” she answered huskily.

“Liz,” Max warned, “at this rate, the only picnic we’ll be having is one in our bed.”

Liz pressed closer to him, feeling the sweat trickling down his chest. Her fingers stroked along the head of his very aroused manhood, coming into contact with a different kind of moisture seeping from him, one that was definitely not sweat. Another moan escaped his lips and then she pulled her hand free, saying, “Well, I wouldn’t want to miss our picnic. You better go take a shower while I finish-”

Liz never got a chance to finish her sentence because Max had stopped listening. As soon as her hand left him, he knew he wasn’t going to let her get away with teasing him like that. He lifted her up and threw her over his shoulder and marched into the house.

“Max! MAX!” her hands pounded on his back. “Max, put me down!”

His arm was holding her tight and he wasn’t letting go. He grunted something unintelligible and Liz cried out as they passed the picnic basket on the kitchen table. “MAX! LET ME DOWN!”

“You started this Liz,” Max swatted her on the butt. He was grinning from ear to ear.

“What about the picnic?” Her voice was muffled by her face pressing into his back. The blood was rushing to her head and her hair was swaying back and forth in rhythm with his purposeful strides.

“Screw the picnic,” Max barked as he turned down the hall, headed for his destination.

“Screw the picnic?” Liz was trying not to laugh now. “It looks like you want to screw something else!”

“That, too,” Max growled.

He stopped suddenly when he reached the bedroom door and pulled her off his shoulder. He sat her on her feet and before she could open her mouth he was crushing her lips with his. He walked her backwards toward the bathroom, asking between heated kisses, “When . . . is . . . Matthew . . . going to . . . wake up?”

“Not . . .” she sucked in a breath as his mouth dropped down to attack her throat, nipping at her skin. “Not for at least . . . half an hour . . . maybe longer.”

“Good,” Max sucked at the skin at the base of her throat. “Good . . . plenty of . . . time . . .”

“Time for what?” Liz sighed. God, he was sexy when he was forceful. She could feel her desire pooling between her legs, soaking into her panties.

Max suddenly pulled his lips from her and held her at arms length. With a straight face he said, “Time for me to take a shower and for you to go finish packing our lunch.” With one swift movement, his shorts and underwear dropped to the floor exposing his male splendor and he reached into the shower to turn the water on. Steam began to fill the shower stall and Max turned back to Liz, trying not to laugh at the expression on her face.

“Go on,” he swatted her on the butt again. “Go make lunch. I’ll be out in a minute.”

Liz let her mouth drop to the floor as Max stepped into the shower. She could see the water soaking into his skin through the glass. Water that ran in rivulets down his golden skin. Water that washed away the sweat and dirt and caressed his tantalizing flesh. Flesh that she had been touching just a moment ago, before he dismissed her! She stood there with her hands on her hips.

Max poked his head out of the shower and asked, “You still here?” He was enjoying this.

Liz snapped her mouth closed and marched for the door with steam coming out of her ears. Max’s hand shot out and grabbed her before she got too far and pulled her right into the shower with him. Two could play this teasing game.

“Max!” Liz shrieked as the water soaked into her sundress.

“You didn’t think I was really going to let you walk away,” he grinned, “did you?” His hands were groping her, touching her, lifting her dress to get it out of his way. She could feel his incredibly hard length pressing into her stomach and with her dress now gone all that separated them was the silk of her panties. That swatch of cloth didn’t stay in place very long either.

“I was starting to wonder,” Liz admitted, with her hands roaming over him. God, he felt good.

“I’d never let you walk away,” Max mumbled against the skin of her throat. “Never.” He pressed her back against the shower wall, feeling the hot water drill into his back, and her even hotter body pressed against his front. His mouth attacked her lips, and then her throat, and then moved lower still, to take her breast. Her nipple was hard, and pouty, and tasted as sweet as honey.

“Max . . .” Liz moaned in rising passion. She certainly liked to moan. And Max definitely liked to hear it.

“Come here, you,” he growled. There was no time for seduction and he could tell Liz wasn’t looking for slow and easy. He spread her legs with his knee, lifted her hips with his hands, and with one swift movement, he sank into her depths. Their joining made then both cry out in excitement, which only intensified with each forceful thrust.

“Oh, God . . . Max!” Liz felt him pounding into her. His sex filled her, drilling into her fast and sure, and she could sense that he was just as turned on as she was. His teeth grazed her shoulder and then he was blindly seeking out her lips again. His mouth seized hers, while his body made her scream in pleasure.

Liz could hear the whimpers emanating from his throat, feel his tongue dueling intimately with hers, sense his intense desire to feel everything that he was doing to her and she opened her mind, allowing him that connection. It was what they both lived for.

“God, Liz!” he slammed into her. When he stepped outside to mow the lawn a half hour ago, he never would have guessed that just a short time later he would be doing this. Try as he might, he couldn’t control it, or stop it, not that he wanted to. And according to the sounds coming from Liz’s throat, she didn’t want him stopping either. There was only one thing that could stop their mating at this point, and thankfully, the little guy was still sleeping peacefully in the other room. The water rushing from the showerhead was noisy. The sounds coming from their throats was even noisier. But Max knew well that one little peep out of Matthew, and Liz would hear it. Mothers were like that.

His forceful thrusts were driving Liz wild. Through their intense connection, he could always tell which way she wanted it. He could be the most tender lover in the world, or he could attack her with wild abandon like he was right now, all driven by her inner desires. She wanted it hard and fast today, and he was more than willing to oblige.

Liz could feel her back pressing into the cold tiles of the shower wall, in sharp contrast to the heat Max was generating at her front. His hungry mouth was consuming hers, her nipples danced over his chest, his hard stomach slapped against her much softer flesh, his hands cupped the cheeks of her butt with his fingers digging into her skin while his rigid manhood vigorously pumped into her.

His thick sex speared her tightness, ramming his impressive length into her depths at an ever quickening pace. Their mouths broke apart, each gasping for breath as they raced toward completion together. He buried his face against her throat, sucking at her succulent skin and as her walls clamped around him, he bit down on her throat as his seed exploded from him.

Her wail of pleasure filled the house, joined by his intense groans of satisfaction muffled by his mouth pressing against her skin. His body spasmed against her from the intensity of his orgasm, quivering and shaking and throbbing, feeling the same reaction in her body. Her sustained orgasm raged through her body with her hips bucking against him and her inner walls constricting tightly all around him.

Their chests were heaving as he came to rest buried deep inside her and they clung to each other tightly. A chuckle began deep in his throat and then bubbled up to the surface, and he panted, “Oh, that was good . . . really good . . . good.”

“So . . .” Liz said huskily in his ear while she tried to catch her breath. “You thought that was . . . good?”

“Oh, yeah,” Max nodded. His heart was still hammering in his chest. “You’re the best.”

Liz cupped the sides of his face and lifted him from her throat so she could look him in the eye. “Max, I’m your only.”

“Yeah . . .” Max grinned widely and nuzzled against her face, “I know.”

* * * * *

“So, where do you want to go?” Max asked, with his voice as soft and smooth as silk. “The lake or the park?” He took her right hand, carefully washing each finger. The rest of Liz was covered in soapsuds. Max was always very thorough when he bathed her.

“I was thinking the park,” Liz answered. She felt relaxed and thoroughly loved, not to mention clean.

“Good,” Max ran the sponge up her arm. He wanted to go to the park, too. It was almost like he was drawn there. His instincts were telling him to go there, and he didn’t like to fight his instincts. His hands reached her shoulders and dropped lower to clean her breasts. He’d already washed her there, but she felt too damn good for him to resist touching her again.

Liz’s hands were full of soap too and she rubbed them over his hard chest, feeling the little points of his nipples turning hard and stiff. She loved the golden color of his skin, the rich brown of his nipples, even the pale white of his butt. She thought his tan line was awfully sexy. Well, truthfully, she thought everything about him was sexy.

In the aftermath of their torrid sex, they were calm now, sated, physically satisfied in every way. Matthew was still sleeping soundly, so they enjoyed the feel of the water sluicing over their bodies, and languid touches over well loved skin.

“Liz,” Max focused on her eyes. He’d awakened this morning feeling good, refreshed, rejuvenated, and he wanted to try something. He had intended to wait until tonight, but now seemed like a good time. His energy level felt high.

“What?” Liz asked.

“I want to connect with you,” his hands massaged her shoulders.

“Didn’t we just do that?” she asked teasingly.

“Not that,” Max chuckled and then turned serious again. “I want to try to take you to the meadow again. I feel like my strength’s back. I think it will work this time.”

“Okay,” Liz said without hesitation. If it didn’t work, they would have their picnic at the park, to take his mind off of it. If it did work, they could celebrate.

Max smiled down at her, grateful that she wasn’t trying to talk him out of it, but instead silently supporting him, whether he succeeded or failed. He turned her into the spray of the shower to cleanse her of soap and then he did the same, making sure his hands were no longer slippery.

Standing face to face, Max lifted his hands up to her face, touching his fingertips to her temples. They stared into each other’s eyes and then Max leaned down to touch his forehead to hers. They closed their eyes and Liz let her mind blank out, the way she had done so many times before. This time, the world around her was dark and quiet and then his voice filled the silence . . .

“Liz? Are you with me?”

The darkness began to fade, chased away by the light of a summer day. She could feel the grass swaying against her knees, and the meadow swam into view, along with the beautiful face of her husband.

Max looked at her with a smile that could light the heavens, and he said, “Welcome home.”

Come back on Sunday for the next part . . .

[ edited 3 time(s), last at 26-Jul-2002 1:07:15 AM ]
posted on 29-Jul-2002 12:29:17 AM by Breathless
Moved to page 86 to keep the two posting together

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 29-Jul-2002 12:36:38 AM ]
posted on 29-Jul-2002 12:31:39 AM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17

Link to parts 1 to 59

Author note: I thought you all would like that little scene of Max mowing the lawn in the last chapter! That is a pretty appealing image, isn’t it? Max, sweaty and hot, with his skin glistening in the sun, his bare skin – I better stop, or I’ll never get this part posted!!!

Posted in two parts due to length restrictions. On with the story . . .

Captive Hearts
Part 98

The green of Coyote Canyon Park spread out around them as they enjoyed a beautiful afternoon on the well manicured lawns. Liz sat on the blanket with her legs stretched out in front of her, running her fingers through Max’s hair. His head was lying comfortably on her lap and Matthew was lying on his father’s chest with his little mouth chomping on his pacifier. His young eyes were getting heavy but he was fighting off sleep. He didn’t want to miss anything. He lifted his head, and though his eyesight wasn’t very developed yet, it was good enough to see his daddy’s smiling face. He spit out his pacifier and smiled back.

“Hey you,” Max gushed over his son. “Liz! Look how strong he is! Look at how he’s holding up his head!”

“I’m looking!” she laughed. It was so thrilling to watch the excitement on Max’s face. He was positively glowing with happiness. She tapped him on the head, and said, “Hey, lift up.”

“What?” Max looked at her with curiosity, lifting his head from her lap and moving to a sitting position with his legs crossed in front of him and his arms holding Matthew close to his chest.

“Where’s the camera?” she reached for the diaper bag and searched through the pockets. “I want to take some pictures of the two of you.”

They spent the next fifteen minutes taking pictures of Max and Matthew, Liz and Matthew, Matthew by himself, and then a nice older couple passed by and offered to snap a few of the young family all together. They were in high spirits for the rest of the afternoon and when they packed up their things and left, they vowed to come back again soon.

* * * * *

Max turned on the computer in the corner of their living room and connected the cables to download the images from the digital camera. They had taken some really cute pictures of Matthew, and Max was anxious to print them out. There was one in particular that he knew his mother was going to love, and he thought he would email it to her tonight. That would make her happy.

He knew it was hard on his parents, and Liz’s too, not being able to see Matthew all the time. But on the other hand, his mother didn’t have much time to spend missing the baby right now. Not with Alex and Isabel’s wedding next month. The women were in full planning mode. He and Liz and Matthew would be making a trip home soon.

“How many pictures did we get?” Liz came up behind him and rested her hand on his shoulder.

“Ah, it looks like thirty four,” Max answered, looking at the screen. He scanned through the thumbnails, selecting the best ones to download right now, leaving the rest for later. He knew Liz would want to edit them tomorrow. Thanks to her, they had quite a nice photo gallery of Matthew compiled already. Max went about the process of downloading and saving the pictures to the hard drive, bring them up one by one in the photo editor so they could see a full size view.

“This one,” Max pointed to the screen. “My mother is going to love this one. I want to send it to her tonight.”

“Oh, that is good,” Liz gushed over it. The picture was a close-up of Max with Matthew in his arms and both of them smiling at each other. “Let me see the next one.”

Another image appeared on the screen, a wide angle version in a similar pose. This one had Matthew grabbing at his father’s nose. Liz thought it was adorable. “Why don’t you crop the sides?” she suggested.

“Like that?” Max asked, using the mouse to trim the picture. She was better at this than he was.

“Maybe a little more . . .” Liz said and then her voice trailed off. She peered closer at the screen and then pointed at the woman just barely visible beyond Max’s shoulder in the picture. “Who is that? Does she look familiar to you?”

Max leaned closer, seeing an older woman carrying an oversized bag. She looked like the quintessential grandmother. Gray hair, smiling face, a little on the plump side. Arms just made for hugging.

“I don’t know,” Max stared. “She does look a little familiar . . .”

“Can you enlarge that area?” Liz asked.

Max nodded and zoomed in on that section of the photo. The image expanded and Mary’s smiling face filled the screen.

“I know I’ve seen her . . .” Liz puzzled. Recognition dawned and she tapped the screen, saying, “Oh, she was in our dream the other night. She was sitting on one of the park benches when Ellie was feeding the ducks.”

“Right,” Max agreed. The end of that dream was hazy to him, but he remembered who this woman was now. “She was there that day in the park, when we found Cindy Morgan. That’s why I added her to the dream, because I’d seen her there before. She seemed really nice. She lives around there somewhere, in one of those apartment buildings across the street.”

“That’s right, you mentioned that,” Liz dismissed it. “You said you’d added to the dream a few of the people you’d seen in the park that day.”

“Speaking of dreams,” Max swiveled his chair around and faced Liz now. He took her hands in his and said, “We should try again tonight.”

“Max . . .” Liz said hesitantly.

“Liz . . .” he pulled her between his legs, looking at her with one of his captivating smiles.

“What if-”

“You worry too much,” Max cut her off. “And thank you, but I’m okay now. My power is back. We proved that, earlier today, in the shower.” His hands were rubbing up and down her hips, reminding her of what else they had done there, too.

“You promise you won’t push too hard?” Liz asked.

“I promise,” Max pulled her onto his lap and lifted a hand to cup her face. “When I start to feel the drain, I’ll let the dream go. Don’t worry, I won’t overdo it again.”

She leaned into his hand and then softly kissed his palm. Her eyes finally met his again and she warned, “I’ll be watching you, Mister! When I see that look in your eyes, I’m going to make you stop, and you damn well better listen to me!”

“Yes Ma’am!” Max knew better than to piss her off!

“So, where are you going to take us?”

Max let a grin spread slowly over his face as he thought about what Ellie’s reaction might be to what he wanted to show her this time. “The fourth of July is in a few days. How do you think she’d like to see a fireworks show?”

Liz’s matching grin was all the answer he needed.

* * * * *

Max walked through the tall grass holding Liz’s hand tightly in his, trying to fight off his anxiety. Today was the first time in days that he’d been able to make the connection to their dream world and as they wandered through the meadow, Ellie was nowhere in sight. Had something happened to her in the days he hadn’t been able to reach her? Had some injury befallen her? Some illness? Some experiment by Johnson gone awry? What if she never came here again –

“Max,” Liz squeezed his hand. “Relax. She’ll be here. Maybe not tonight, or tomorrow night, or the night after that, but she’ll come here again.”

“But Liz,” he looked down at her worriedly. “What if something hap-”

“Max, she’ll be here,” Liz said with certainty. She wasn’t as confident as she sounded, but she couldn’t allow herself to think about the alternative. Squeezing his hand again, she repeated, “She’ll be here.”

They wandered through the meadow, holding each other’s hands and feeling the breeze blowing on their skin. They could hear the lonely croaking of a frog in the distance, and then the air filled with the thunderous sound of elephants on the run, horses in mid stampede, freight trains barreling right at them.

No, wait. It was only the sound of footsteps pounding on the ground. Footsteps that belonged to little feet, impossibly small feet for such a large noise, that made the ground tremble as they neared, and then the sweetest little voice rang out to join the sound of her happy feet.

“Daddy! Mommy! You here!”

Max spun around to see Ellie racing right at him, arms open wide, hair streaming out behind her with a smile of such beauty on her face it nearly took his breath away. He raced in her direction and when the distance between them disappeared, he swept her into his arms and hugged her small body to his chest.

“Ellie,” he closed his eyes in relief.

“Daddy,” her small arms circled around his neck. “I missed you!”

“I missed you too, baby,” Max hugged her tightly. He had to force himself to act calmly, even though he was shaking inside. He was so relieved their connection was back and they were together again.

When Max returned to Liz’s side, Ellie twisted around and held her arms out to her mother, shouting excitedly, “Mommy!”

Liz took her from Max and held her just as tightly as he had, happy beyond words to once again be reunited after several days without her. They all stood together near the stream, Liz holding Ellie and Max with his arm around Liz, smiling down at his girls.

In the distance a frog kept up its insistent croaking. Birdsong joined the background noise, along with the soft babble of the stream on its way to the valley floor. A new sound now joined the others, the sound of web feet on rocks and feathers ruffling and even an occasional soft quack. If Max had looked in that direction, he might have wondered where they came from, for it wasn’t him that brought them into the dream. But Max was too preoccupied with his daughter to notice the flock of ducks that had taken up residence near the stream, or to stop and wonder how they came to be here at all.

* * * * *

be right back with the rest of it . . .

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 29-Jul-2002 12:40:34 AM ]
posted on 29-Jul-2002 12:33:07 AM by Breathless
Captive Hearts
Part 98 con't

“You can open your eyes now,” Max said softly into Ellie’s ear. He watched as her big round eyes flew open and she looked around at the now familiar sights of Coyote Canyon Park. She twisted around in his arms, looking left and right, and Max had to laugh at the frown on her face.

“Why it dark, Daddy?” she asked. They had gone from bright sunshine in the meadow, to a dark and oddly quiet park. Even the swings were perfectly still and quiet.

“You’ll see,” Max smiled.

Liz spread out the blanket and sat down cross-legged in the middle of it. Max sat down next to her and he put Ellie in the middle between them. Liz watched him as he concentrated hard and the area around them began to fill with blankets and family and friends. Michael and Maria appeared on a blanket behind them, Isabel and Alex off to the right, Max’s parents on a nearby park bench, Liz’s on another.

Carl and Rachel spread out a blanket just a few feet away, and Ellie watched them intently. When Carl looked in her direction she looked away quickly, but a minute later she couldn’t resist looking at him again.

“Hi Ellie,” Carl said with a smile on his face.

Ellie’s eyes grew wide that the man knew her name and she hid behind Max, peeking around him carefully to look at Carl. She tore her eyes away from him to look up at her father and she whispered, “Daddy? Do you know dat man? Him was here afore.”

“He’s a friend, Ellie,” Max reassured her. “That’s Carl, and if you ever see him, you go to him. He knows who you are and he’ll bring you home. Understand?”

Ellie stared up at her father and then she slowly nodded. She leaned forward to look at that man again and then her eyes drifted to the woman next to him. Whispering to Max again, she asked, “Who’s her?”

“That’s Rachel,” Max smiled. “She’s like us. She knows all about you. You can trust her, too.”

Ellie peeked at the woman again and spoke her name softly so she would remember it. “Wachel. Carl and Wachel.”

Max looked up at Liz seeing the excitement on her face and knowing his looked the same. Ellie’s reaction so far was encouraging. She was reacting well to seeing these people that she didn’t know, and even though she was hesitant, she seemed more interested than scared. She proved their thoughts right a minute later when she leaned forward and looked at Carl and Rachel again and said, “Hi. Me Ellie.”

“Hi Ellie,” Carl and Rachel said at the same time.

“Dis is my Daddy,” Ellie patted Max’s leg.

“We know,” Carl smiled at her.

“Dis is Mommy,” Ellie tugged on Liz’s pant leg.

“We know your Mommy, too,” Rachel nodded.

“Oh,” Ellie sat back and absorbed that. Carl and Rachel. She turned to look behind her and around her, wondering if everyone here knew her Mommy and Daddy. She tugged on her father’s sleeve and whispered in his ear, “Do you know ebbybody?” She didn’t know until now that there were so many people in the world.

“Yes,” Max nodded to her. “Mommy and I know them all. You can trust everyone here, Ellie.” He could see the uncertain look on her face, so he decided it was time for introductions. “Over there is my sister Isabel,” he pointed her out. “You met her before, remember?”

“I memember,” Ellie stared at her.

“Next to her is Alex,” Max told her. “Isabel and Alex are getting married next month. She’s you Aunt, and after they get married, Alex will be your Uncle.”

“Uncle,” Ellie repeated. She’d never heard that word before. She listened closely as Max told her the names of everyone else in the park.

“On that bench is my mom and dad,” Max pointed at his parents. “They are your Grandma and Grandpa.”

“Gamma and Gampa,” Ellie tested the words.

“And on the bench over there is Mommy’s mother and father. They are your other Grandparents.” Max made sure that each person he pointed out waved at Ellie as he told her who they were. “And right over there is Michael and Maria. Michael is like my brother-”

“Where my brover?” Ellie suddenly looked around. “Where Maffew?” At the mention of his name, Matthew joined the dream, materializing on the blanket in front of them. Ellie leaned over him and exclaimed, “Dare you are!”

Matthew looked up at his big sister, cooing excitedly and showing her how good he was at making bubbles.

Liz picked him up and Ellie held her arms out to hold him. He was big for her, filling up her arms and weighing her down, but she liked holding him. He liked it too. When he got too squirmy, Liz took him back and Ellie turned to her father and asked, “What ebbybody doin here?”

“We came to see fireworks,” Max told her and then smiled when she crinkled up her nose.

“Firewooks?” she asked. “What firewooks?”

Max pulled her into his lap and he pointed at the sky, saying, “Watch!”

A boom sounded in the distance and all eyes turned expectantly toward the sky. They could feel the anticipation, and then the sky turned from dark to light as it exploded in a rainbow of color.

“Ooooooo!” Ellie exclaimed. “What is dat?”

“Fireworks,” Max laughed. He knew she’d react like this.

One explosion after another filled the sky and Ellie bounced excitedly in his lap for each and every one. The colors changed from reds to blues to greens to brilliant points of white, in a rapid, ever changing display. Ellie sat staring at the sky, mesmerized by the colors. She never knew anything could be so pretty.

Everyone around her was oooing and ahhhing and even though she knew she said wouldn’t, Ellie couldn’t resist the urge to bring Mary into the dream. She wanted her to see this, too. Had Mary ever seen fireworks before? She’d never mentioned it. She turned to look behind her, to the park bench over on the right, and there was Mary, sitting next to the people daddy had called her grandparents.

Mary glanced around her with a puzzled look on her face, wondering how she had gotten here. She had been in her garden just a moment ago, and she still had on her straw hat to keep the sun out. Now suddenly, she was sitting in the dark on a park bench, with fireworks lighting the sky.

She knew this park well, having passed by it every Sunday for more than two and a half years, but she had never been here in the dark before, or seen a fireworks display here. This was exactly the kind of thing that she had been thinking of when she mentioned to the Doctor about taking Jenny outside at night. Jenny would love to see something like this, and the night couldn’t harm her.

Her old eyes swept over the crowd and then to her immense pleasure, she recognized the sweet face of her charge. Jenny was on a blanket up toward the front of the crowd. Their eyes met and even in the dark, Mary could see how happy Jenny was. Her face was smiling brighter than she’d ever seen it before.

Ellie was beyond happy to have all of the people that she loved here together. Mary was over there, and Mommy and Daddy and Matthew were here, and as long as she kept them apart, then maybe Daddy wouldn’t go away, and take Mommy and Matthew with him.

Liz noticed Ellie, sitting on Max’s lap and looking at something behind her. She peered over her shoulder to see what Ellie was looking at, but all she could see were the people Max had brought into the dream. Her parents, Max’s parents, Isabel and Alex, the elderly lady from the park, all faces that she recognized.

Mary couldn’t see the face of the man whose lap Jenny was sitting on, but the woman beside her turned around and Mary got a good look at her. Amazingly, she looked like a grown up version of Jenny, with her dark hair and large eyes and delicate features. Was Mary now dreaming about the mother Jenny never had a chance to know? Was Jenny’s dream family now invading her own dreams? And how did she know this was a dream? Without a doubt, she knew that it was, but when had she ever been this cognizant in her dreams?

Liz turned back to Ellie, about to ask her what she was looking at, but the strain on Max’s face drew her attention to him. He was pushing too hard again, and she had to stop this before they had a repeat of last Monday’s disaster. She reached over and her hand touched him on the shoulder.

“Max,” she said when he turned to look at her. “You should end it now.”

“Liz, I’m okay-”

“No,” she shook her head. “You’re not. End it now. If you’re fine, then we can come back tomorrow. If you push too hard, who knows when we’ll be able to come back?”

“Liz,” Max resisted. “Just a little-”

“Max!” Liz warned. “You end this dream now, or I’ll end it for you.”

“Okay,” Max relented. She was right, of course. He could feel the strain, but they’d been here such a short time, and there was so much that needed to be done.

“Ellie,” Liz cupped her daughter’s face between her hands. “You need to go back now. Daddy’s tired and he needs to rest.”

“I don’t wanna go,” Ellie stuck out her lower lip. Was Mommy mad because Mary was here?

“If you go back now, then we can see each other again tomorrow night,” Liz explained. “If Daddy stays longer, he’ll get too tired and he might not be able to come back for days. You don’t want that, do you?”

“No,” Ellie reluctantly admitted.

“Good,” Liz stroked her cheek. Hugging Ellie gently, Liz kissed her cheek and whispered in her ear, “Good night, baby.”

“Night, Mommy,” Ellie kissed her back. Turning to Max, she hugged him too, and kissed him on the cheek. “Night Daddy.”

“G’night, baby,” Max kissed her forehead. He wished with all his heart that they could all stay, but he knew this was for the best. Tomorrow would come soon.

Ellie separated from her father and leaned over the innocent face of her little brother. “Night, Maffew.” She held his little hand in hers and smiled at him as he cooed at her and then she looked behind her again, locking her eyes on Mary. It was time to go. The air shimmered and wavered and then Ellie simply wasn’t there anymore. No one noticed that Mary disappeared at the same time.

* * * * *

Her vision cleared and Liz became aware of the familiar surroundings of her bedroom. She could feel the emptiness in her arms, knowing that Matthew was in his own room, in his own bed. This was the first dream he had joined them without her holding him. She and Max would have to talk about that. It was a new aspect to their dreams.

Feeling Max’s body behind her, she quickly turned to see if he was alright, half afraid that she would see a repeat of Monday night. Relief flooded her when she saw his eyes were focused and clear, and he even had a smile on his tired face.

“That went well,” Max said happily.

“How do you feel?” Liz asked, with only a trace of apprehension in her voice.

“Good,” Max quickly responded. He could see the skeptical expression on her face and he told her truthfully, “I’m tired, but I feel good. You were right about ending the dream. If we had stayed very much longer, I might have over done it again.”

“I’m glad you listened,” Liz said pointedly.

“You kind of make it hard not to,” Max smiled at her.

* * * * *

In another part of Phoenix, Mary suddenly stirred from sleep. Her eyes popped open and it took her a moment to acquaint herself with where she was. The dream she’d just experienced had felt so real, more real than any other dream she’d ever had in all her sixty-seven years.

She turned over onto her back and stared up at the ceiling, not really seeing anything, not really looking. She was still caught up in the dream, even though she knew it was probably hopeless to try to analyze it. Mary could understand why she had dreamt about fireworks, after all, the Fourth of July was almost here, but why would she dream of Jenny with a woman that obviously was her mother? And even though she hadn’t gotten a good look at man that Jenny was with, it was obvious that he was her father, at least in the dream.

But the man in the dream didn’t look anything like the Doctor. The man in the dream had dark hair. The man in the dream was young, very young. The man in the dream had seemed vaguely familiar, but she wasn’t sure why. She’d never gotten a good look at his face.

The dream stayed with her, and that was another surprise for Mary. Usually, her dreams left no lasting impression, but this one she could still remember every detail, and it suddenly dawned on her why the family in the dream looked so familiar. It was the same family Jenny created on paper. The family that Jenny drew when the Doctor wasn’t around. Daddy Max and Mommy Honey, and a brother named Matthew. Mary had seen the small bundle the dark haired woman held in her arms.

Disturbed, Mary rolled over onto her side and tucked her hand under her chin, but she knew sleep would not return easily. Why would she dream about the make believe world that Jenny had created in her drawings? Why would she dream of Jenny’s father as young, and tall and dark?

And when she was deep within that dream, why did the name Ellie sound so right?

come back on Thursday for the next part.

posted on 1-Aug-2002 11:38:22 PM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17

Captive Hearts
Part 99

Max pulled back the covers and swung his legs over the side of the bed. He rose to a sitting position, and then the dizziness forced him to clutch his head between his hands. He knew from experience that it would pass soon, if he just sat still for a few minutes.

They’d fallen into a pattern lately, of dreamwalking every other night, and then resting in between while he regained his strength. Each morning after a dreamwalk he would feel lightheaded, dizzy, and a headache would nag him all morning long, but by the second day, he would wake up feeling normal again. With each dreamwalk he would try to stretch it a little longer and he could tell his tolerance was improving. At least there had been no repeat of the first time, when he’d been unconscious for nearly a day.

A warm hand touched his bare back and Max sat up straighter, with the frown on his face softening. He felt the bed shift and that warm hand soon found its way around to his front, sliding over the muscles of his chest while a silk draped body pressed against him from behind. A pair of lips, soft and warm, touched the skin on his throat and a voice, still heavy with sleep, asked, “How do you feel this morning?”

Max turned his head back toward her, feeling her lips kiss a trail up his throat, moving along the angles of his chin until she reached his lips. She touched him lightly there, her lips to his, and then she pulled back, waiting for his answer.

“Fine,” he answered. “A little dizzy, but the headache is not quiet so bad.” He paused as he looked at her, with her hair all messy, and her eyes still hooded from sleep, and her face looking so innocent and yet so sensual at the same time. He thought she always looked beautiful, but looking at her first thing in the morning always made his heart race faster.

“In fact . . .” he raised his hand to bury it in her hair. “I think . . .” he kissed her softly, “. . . that my headache . . .” he kissed her again, “. . . is gone . . .”

“Is that right?” Liz mumbled against his lips. He could tell she was smiling.

Max smiled right back, and then his kiss became more insistent, more urgent, more arousing. He turned his body to face her and with his hand still threaded in her hair he leaned her backwards onto the bed. He stretched out on top of her, kissing her hungrily and settling his hips between her open legs. The silk of her nightgown felt cool and sensual against his bare chest and only the cotton of his boxers separated his probing manhood from its desired destination. She didn’t wear panties to bed.

All thoughts of being tired, or dizzy, or having a residual headache left him as he concentrated on the feel of her soft body beneath him. His hand touched the warm skin of her thigh and moved upwards, over her hip, snaking underneath the silk of her nightgown and moving higher up her ribs. They sighed into each other’s mouths as his hand covered her breast and then Liz began to giggle.

“What?” Max parted his lips from hers and lifted his head above her. He didn’t know what she was giggling about, but it was infectious. A grin spread over his face as he looked at the sparkle in her eyes.

“I was thinking about Ellie,” she giggled again when he raised an eyebrow. “At the zoo . . . last night . . .”

His mouth dropped open and a blush crept into his cheeks. That had been so embarrassing. They’d taken Ellie to the zoo last night, and the memory of the dream was still fresh. They’d walked into the primate enclosure and Ellie had been quite taken with the monkeys. While she was making faces at the Chimpanzees, Max’s eyes had taken on a wicked glint and he drew Liz’s attention to the Gibbons in the enclosure behind them. Ellie had turned around just in time to see the monkey’s going at it and Liz had smacked him hard, right across the chest.

Ellie had stood there with her hands on her hips, tilting her head left and then right, and then with a child’s innocence, she had asked, “What they doin, Daddy?”

Max felt the heat in his cheeks, remembering how he had stood there not knowing how to respond to Ellie’s question. Liz had saved his butt by telling her they were ‘playing’ and they moved on to see the elephants and the lions and the tigers.

“You were real swift last night,” Liz teased, trying not to laugh at how red his cheeks had become. “Your daughter asked you a simple question and you stood there like the village idiot.”

“I don’t know how to talk to a two year old about the birds and the bees,” Max defended himself.

“That was obvious,” Liz snorted. “Need I remind you that you got yourself into the whole situation by having the monkeys going at it in the first place?”

“I never intended for her to see it though,” Max tried to explain.

“But she did, didn’t she,” Liz smacked him on the chest, just like she had in the dream. “And then you stood there like a big doofus not knowing what to say to her.”

“A big doofus, huh?” Max grabbed her hands and pinned them to her sides. With a lewd grin, he said, “I’ll show you a big doofus.” His mouth attacked hers, cutting off any further comments that might hurt his male pride, and he kissed her with gusto. Just when he thought he was going to get as lucky as those monkeys were last night, another little monkey decided to wake up and spoil his morning lovin’.

“That’s my cue.” Liz arched her eyebrows apologetically and then said just to rub it in, as if she was reading his mind, “No hot monkey lovin for you!”

Max rolled off of her and let out a long sigh as he watched her head for Matthew’s bedroom. Knowing it was time to cool off once again, he headed for the shower.

* * * * *

Mary was beginning preparations for lunch when the Doctor returned from the lab earlier than expected. He was thumbing through the mail, but Mary didn’t take any notice. None of it was for her. She never got any mail. Martha was her only living relative, and since the stroke, her poor sister wasn’t capable of correspondence. She wasn’t capable of much of anything anymore.

But Mary was a dutiful sister, and she made her trek to visit Martha every Sunday, even if her sister couldn’t recognize her anymore. She was glad the Doctor’s upcoming trip to California was a short one and he would be back by Friday, and she wouldn’t have to miss her weekly visit.

Johnson was thoroughly absorbed in sorting through the mail and didn’t notice Ellie as she came barreling around the corner and ran right into him. The mail went flying and Johnson quickly steadied the girl on her feet before stooping over to pick things up.

“I sorry,” Ellie bent over to help him. She looked at all the writing on the envelope in her hand, but she was too young to read what it said. Mary leaned over to pick up one that skidded across the floor in her direction, but Johnson hastily grabbed it first. It wouldn’t do to have Mary see the name on that one. She might ask questions that he wasn’t prepared to answer.

“It’s okay, Jenny,” Johnson said as he straightened up. “But you shouldn’t run in the house. That’s how people get hurt.”

“I sorry,” Ellie said again with her head hung low.

“It’s okay,” Johnson repeated and ruffled the child’s hair and then headed off in the direction of his study. The mail that he wanted to keep would go in his locked desk. The mail he didn’t want would go in the shredder. Nothing that listed names, or addresses was ever left out in the open. Johnson had too many secrets that he protected, too many names that he had used in his deceptions, too many insidious lies he had told to cover his tracks. He’d learned a long time ago how to hide.

* * * * *

Max sat at his desk shuffling through a stack of paperwork. He was sorting through the files, moving old cases to an archive box that would later be taken to the records room in the basement of the building. He opened his desk drawer and found the memo book that went with the Megan Thompson case. James Robert Taylor, aka Jimmy Bob, had been convicted last week of sexual assault, a class 2 felony, and sentenced to 28 years in prison. He wouldn’t be able to harm anyone else for a very, very long time.

Adding his notes to the file to make it complete, Max sealed it and dropped it into the archive box. He picked up the next file on his desk and smiled when he saw the name. Cindy Morgan. Sometimes cases had a good outcome. Cindy was home, safe and sound, with Smokey to keep her company. Just thinking about it made him feel good inside.

Reaching into his desk drawer again, he searched through the memo books, looking for the notes he had taken that day over in Coyote Canyon Park. Some memo books held the notes he had gathered from more than one case, so he always wrote the case name on the inside cover. He scanned the names in one book, and then another, before finally finding the right one.

Cindy’s name jumped out at him and he took a quick glance at what he had written that day. He flipped past the notes he had taken on the Rodriguez case, and after skimming through the Morgan notes he tore the pages from the book and added them to the file, even though nothing of any significance had come about from the investigation. Cindy hadn’t been abducted or attacked or assaulted. She had simply gotten lost in the woods, and recovered ‘unharmed’. The notes added nothing to the case, but this was standard operating procedure and he adhered to policy. Closing the file, he picked up the large stamp and pressed it against the front, marking it with the words ‘Case Closed’ in red ink. He sealed it and dropped it into the archive box, adding to the ever growing pile. He picked up the memo book and crossed the name Morgan off the inside cover and then tossed it back in the drawer before reaching for the next file.

* * * * *

Liz sat in front of the computer in the living room clicking through the latest batch of photos she’d taken of Matthew. She knew she was going overboard, but she couldn’t help herself. Years from now, she wanted to be able to look back on Matthew’s life, to see his first smile, his first tooth, the first time he crawled or walked or ran. His first Christmas. His first birthday.

She’d missed all of it with Ellie, every precious moment lost forever.

Her eyes shifted to the framed drawing on the corner of the desk. Max had done his best to fill in the empty gaps, to create a life history of Ellie, in pencil or pen and ink. Her image filled all the rooms of the house. Ellie in the first moments of life, Ellie taking her first tentative steps, Ellie with her eyes closed in peaceful slumber or wide awake, sparkling with laughter.

Her image graced the wall above Matthew’s crib, and above the dresser in her parent’s room. Her face adorned the mantel above the fireplace, and all those that entered saw it as a silent reminder of what this house was missing.

A lone drawing decorated the refrigerator, of a horse with wings, carrying its riders high above a cherished meadow. The crayon strokes were childlike, and the depiction nearly unrecognizable to all except those who had been there, and felt the wind whipping through their hair.

But no amount of drawings or pictures or even dreams could ever replace what had been taken from her on that October night – two years, nine months and six days ago. Liz brought the framed drawing to her breast, pressing it against her heart while silent tears of longing coursed down her cheeks.

* * * * *

Max slowly hung up the phone while he digested the information Jim Valenti had just given him. The phone call had come as quite a surprise, but Max was glad he finally knew the truth, about Robert Johnson and the disappearance of Johnson’s child. It had taken over twenty years for the truth to finally be known.

His hand lingered on the phone, trying to decide whether he should call Liz and tell her, or should he wait until he got home tonight? He’d rather be there, and tell her in person, but knowing Liz the way he did, she’d be pissed if he didn’t let her know right away. The information couldn’t help them find Ellie, and it might make her worry even more about their daughter’s safety, but she didn’t want him keeping things from her.

His eyes drifted over to the collection of photos on his desk. Liz’s image was there, a photo of her and Matthew, smiling for the camera. A drawing of Ellie was there too, she and Liz walking hand in hand through the meadow. Biting back the urge to protect her, he lifted the phone and punched in the numbers. His fingers drummed on his desktop while he waited for her to answer, wondering where she was as he listened to the sound of it ringing in his ear. She hadn’t said she was going out today, not that he made her check in with him when she did, but he couldn’t help his worry when he couldn’t reach her.

He felt his stomach twisting, partly from the information Jim had given him, partly from his worry about Liz. When he heard the click as the phone was finally answered and the sound of her trembling voice came on the line, his worry skyrocketed.

“Liz?” his voice was thick with tension. Was she crying?

When she was pregnant, he had become accustomed to feeling her emotions through their link, but after Matthew’s birth, that connection had faded away. Now the only time they shared those experiences was when they touched, but her distress was so strong right now he could literally feel it through the phone line. Jim had said he hadn’t talked to her about Johnson’s daughter, so it couldn’t be that.

“Liz, what’s the matter?” Was it Matthew? Was something wrong with Matthew? God, don’t let there be something wrong with Matthew. He would die if he lost his son too.

“Max . . .” she felt guilty for worrying him. She knew what he was thinking. “I’m fine. Matthew’s fine.”

“You’re not fine,” Max leaned forward, talking low into the phone. “Don’t tell me you’re fine when I know you’re not.”

“It’s just . . .”

Her voice was so soft he could barely hear her. Gently, soothingly, he asked, “It’s what, Liz?”

“I was looking at pictures of Matthew . . .”

“He takes a good picture . . .” He thought he now knew what this was about. Her next words confirmed it.

“We’ll never have pictures of Ellie . . .”

“Liz . . .” He couldn’t say anything more than that. His throat was too constricted.

“We’ll never see what she looked like when she turned over for the first time, or when she learned to crawl or took her first steps. We’ll never-”

Her voice caught and Max could hear her crying on the other end of the line. It wasn’t often that she got this way, that her thoughts fell to the dark side and everything felt hopeless and lost. She was the optimistic one, the one that always kept his hopes alive. He closed his eyes, feeling her sense of despair roll through him and he pushed his chair back and rose to his feet. She needed him.

“I’m coming home.”

The files lay forgotten on his desk. The archive box sat abandoned on the floor. Max grabbed his jacket off the back of his chair and hurriedly left the squad room, without a second thought about the closed file in the box on the floor, and the precious contents that were sealed inside.

* * * * *

Mary tucked Jenny into bed for her afternoon nap, knowing it wouldn’t be too long before she would want to forsake a nap altogether. She was growing by leaps and bounds and Mary couldn’t help but wonder what the future held for her. Would she always have to live locked away from the outdoors? Would she ever get a chance to experience the world in any meaningful fashion?

She wished the Doctor would allow her to look into the local support group that had been formed for families of afflicted children. She knew that Jenny’s quality of life could be greatly improved, but the Doctor had so far seemed to rebuff her suggestions. She knew his work had reached a critical stage and he simply had no time to look into it himself, but his refusal to allow her to take on the task had left her wondering.

Jenny drifted off to sleep with a smile on her dear face and Mary lifted her wrinkled hand to brush the girl’s hair back. Maybe when the Doctor returned from his trip she could approach him again. Tomorrow he was leaving bright and early with a return trip scheduled for Friday evening. Perhaps Sunday, when she went to see Martha, she would stop at the library and do a little more research. Then she could present to him all the facts she had been able to gather.

She rose from the side of Jenny’s bed and headed toward the kitchen, still deep in thought about how she could help Jenny. She got out the cleaning bucket and filled it with soapy water and then lugged it out of the sink and placed it on the floor. She pulled on a pair of rubber gloves, retrieved a sponge and a scrubber and got down on her hands and knees to set about the task of washing the kitchen floor. She started by the sink and moved outward because she had learned years ago how not to paint yourself into a corner, and by the time she reached the refrigerator her knees and her back were beginning to ache.

She stretched, pressing a hand against the small of her back, and then dipped the sponge back in the bucket to continue her chore. She briefly thought about moving the refrigerator out of the way so she could scrub behind it, but she decided that job could wait another week. Instead, she swept the sponge under the front edge of the appliance as far as she could get it to go, and then was surprised to feel something wedged in the space underneath it. She leaned down to take a closer look and her eyes widened when she saw the edge of what appeared to be a letter. How did that get there?

She was just able to reach it with the tip of an outstretched finger and she pulled it forward. Was this something the Doctor dropped earlier when he was going through the mail and Jenny had bumped into him? Pulling off her rubber gloves so that the letter wouldn’t get wet, she took a close look at the return address and her eyes took in the unfamiliar name.

Pacifica Research Group
San Francisco, CA.

Did this letter have something to do with the Doctor’s upcoming trip? He was packing for it now, getting ready for his morning flight, and she knew she should get this to him right away. She groaned as she pushed herself up on legs that had stiffened while she knelt on the floor, and as she regained her footing, a frown of disquietude crossed her face. She stared at the name the letter was addressed to, not understanding.

Dr. Robert Sinclair
2745 E. Beardsley Road
Phoenix, Az.

Who was Dr. Sinclair? And why was he getting mail at this address?

* * * * *

Johnson set the suitcase on his bed and leisurely packed his belongings. He wasn’t planning on being gone long and the small carry-on was enough to suit his needs. Noticing he was missing his tweed blazer, he stepped out into the hallway and went in search of Mary. She took care of all these things for him.

“Mary?” he called out as he neared the kitchen. He had heard her puttering around in there a few minutes ago. “Do you know where my blazer is? The tweed one?”

At the sound of his voice, Mary stuffed the letter into the pocket of her apron. Her heart was pounding in her chest and she could feel her blood pressure rising. She was sure her face was going to give her away as he walked around the corner and stepped into the kitchen.

“Mary, I’m looking –” He took one look at her flush face and asked her with concern, “Are you alright?”

“Oh, yes,” Mary covered. “I just stood up too fast.” She could hardly believe she had just boldly lied to the Doctor. What in the world had come over her? She’d never done anything like that in her life before. She’d been employed by him, lived in the same home with him, served his meals and done his laundry for him for nearly three years now. When had lying to him become permissible? And why did she feel compelled to do it?

“Are you sure?” he looked at her closely. He was leaving Jenny in her care for the next three days. He didn’t want something happening to Mary now.

“Oh, I’m perfectly fine,” Mary managed a smile. “Was there something you wanted to ask me?”

“I was just wondering if you had seen my tweed jacket. I want to take it with me.”

“Yes,” Mary wiped her sweating hands on her apron. “I saw that you had it out and I steamed it for you, to get out all the wrinkles. Let me just get it for you.”

“Thank you, Mary,” Johnson smiled. She really was the perfect housekeeper.

Too bad . . .

Come back on Sunday night to see what happens next . . .

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 2-Aug-2002 12:04:15 AM ]
posted on 5-Aug-2002 12:20:15 AM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17

Author note: Razz214 asked when I began this story, and I had to go back and check my files to see when it all started. I began writing Captive Hearts in the fall of 2000, nearly two years ago and I began to post it in the winter or early spring of 2001. At the time, I never dreamed it would last this long, up to and beyond the 100th chapter! I appreciate all of you who have stuck by this story, and hung on through its occasionally bumpy rides! All I can say now is . . . hold on tight! It ain’t over yet! Is that daylight at the end of the tunnel, or a freight train headed right for us?

That said, this part is rather transitional, but there is a section with Ellie that I really enjoyed writing. I hope you like it.

Captive Hearts
Part 100

Mary lay fretting in bed, turning over every few minutes, unable to let her mind shut down and go to sleep. The letter she’d found on the floor in the kitchen wouldn’t let her. She’d been taken by surprise by the strange name on it, thrown for a loop, and one question kept running through her mind.

Who the heck was Dr. Sinclair?

At first she had wondered if the letter was old, addressed to a former occupant, but one look told her that couldn’t be it. The envelope was too new looking, too fresh, and besides, the cancellation mark on the stamp was dated yesterday.

The sense of unease she’d been feeling lately had exploded inside her this afternoon when she’d seen that letter and she’d done something completely uncharacteristic for her. She’d kept it, concealed it in the pocket of her apron, not even knowing why. A sudden undeniable feeling had come over her that it meant something important. What, she had no idea.

It was hidden under the mattress of her bed right now, unopened and unforgotten, its presence keeping her from sleep, much like the old fairy tale of the Princess and the Pea. She could ‘feel’ it there.

She clearly remembered overhearing a phone conversation the Doctor had had just a few weeks ago, when she stood outside his study waiting to talk to him about the fantasy world that Jenny seemed to be slipping into. The world where her name was Ellie, and her father was tall and dark, and her mother was alive. The unease she had felt that day caused her to keep her silence, just as she had kept the letter today.

He had mentioned the name Sinclair, and Pacifica too that day, but at the time she had assumed that Sinclair was who he was talking to, on the other end of the line. So why was the letter addressed to a Dr. Sinclair at this address? Something wasn’t right.

* * * * *

Max stirred on the couch, shifting position so that he could look down at her face. They had been watching some silly movie on TV, but the lame humor hadn’t been able to make her even crack a smile. She’d fallen asleep curled up next to his side over an hour ago and he was loath to wake her. He was hoping in the morning she would feel better.

When he had hurried home from work that afternoon, he had found her valiantly trying to pretend nothing was wrong, and she urged him to go back to work, but after all this time it wasn’t hard for him to read the truth on her face. Ellie’s loss was weighing heavily on her today, and he wasn’t about to leave her side.

“Liz . . . ?” he whispered, just to make sure she was still asleep.

She didn’t stir and Max knew it was for the best. Experience told him that she would be better in the morning. Matthew was sleeping for longer intervals during the night and it allowed her some much needed rest. Shifting away from her, he rose from the couch and hovered over her, looking at her peaceful face. If there was anyone in the world that deserved a life of peace, it was Liz, Max thought as he stared down at her.

Slipping his arms underneath her petite frame, he picked Liz up, listening to the little mewing sounds that escaped from her throat. She curled into his chest and he carried her out of the living room, down the hall, and into the master bedroom. He took great care to gently lay her on the bed so as not to disturb her and then he hovered over her, watching her as she slept.

He was glad that he had been able to be here for her today when she needed him. Over the years, she had been there for him so many times he had lost count, always supporting him even through the bleakest days, sending him her love with just a touch, or a look, or the simplest of words. Today he hoped he had been able to give a little of that back, supporting her when she needed it the most.

Her dark hair fanned out over her pillow and Max thought her features were finally looking more relaxed. Tomorrow would be better. He just knew it. Wanting her to be comfortable, he gently eased her pants down her legs and tossed them aside. He pinched her shirt between his thumb and his index finger and closed his eyes in concentration. It only took a minute for the shirt to change into a silky nightgown, and Max had to smile at his handiwork. She really did look pretty in pink.

Slipping out of his clothes, down to his boxers, Max walked around to his side of the bed. He climbed under the covers and snuggled close to Liz, knowing she could feel him even in her sleep. Just like countless other nights, sleep would be fleeting for him tonight, but as long as Liz was in his arms, he didn’t mind.

* * * * *

Ellie lay in her bed with her doll tucked close to her side. Her face looked peaceful in sleep, but inside her was mind active. She mentally reached out toward her father, something she just instinctively knew how to do, but he wasn’t sleeping now. She couldn’t feel him.

She shifted direction and went in search of Mary. This was a new development for Ellie, her ability to connect with Mary, to get inside her dreams, and even to bring her into her own. She wasn’t sure how it was possible, but her daddy had told her how she was different, and that must be why.

She hadn’t told Mary just how different she really was, because daddy said she had to keep it a secret. Ellie knew that her daddy was afraid of what Doctor daddy might do if he knew. Doctor daddy had done bad things to daddy and mommy. Very bad things. She saw it once in a nightmare daddy was having.

Mary wasn’t sleeping so Ellie shifted in another direction. She stayed away from the Doctor’s dreams. They were scary. He dreamt of daddy chasing him and chasing him and chasing him. He would scream terrible screams when daddy caught him, screams that hurt her ears and made her scared. Doctor daddy’s dreams were ugly.

Ellie’s mind drifted until she reached a special place, a comforting place, a warm and inviting place. The walls of this room were painted a pale blue and it was like a place right out of the pages of her favorite book. Stuffed animals filled the room, sitting on the furniture and on the floor and even hanging from the ceiling. Big teddy bears and little teddy bears and panda bears and polar bears. A monkey swung from the ceiling and a kitten that looked like Smokey was over on the dresser. Puppy dogs cavorted on the floor and a giant horse with wings watched over them all.

Ellie picked up a very special bunny and made her way across the room, to the small cradle and the little boy that was waiting for her. She peered over the edge and Matthew was smiling up at her, blowing bubbles and reaching up to try to grab her hair. He made little contented noises in his throat, happy his big sister had come to see him. He missed her during the day.

“Hi Maffew,” Ellie smiled down at him. “You want me to wead you a story?”

Matthew kicked out his legs excitedly. He liked it when she read to him. Ellie moved the big teddy bear out of the rocking chair and climbed up in it, nearly swallowed up by its huge size. She settled the bunny down next to her and opened the book that she’d brought with her. She couldn’t really read yet, but she knew the words by heart.

“There once was a belbeteen wabbit, and in the beginning he was weally splendid. . .”

* * * * *

Mary was up early the next morning after a restless night. She could hear the Doctor moving around inside his bedroom as she passed by his doorway and she made her way to the kitchen to make him a quick breakfast before the cab came to pick him up to take him to the airport. She never considered not making it for him. She’d spent years taking care of others. It was all she knew.

She put a couple of slices of bread in the toaster and took the eggs out of the refrigerator, along with a carton of milk. She was just cracking an egg into a bowl when the Doctor walked into the kitchen.

“Morning Mary,” he said cheerily.

“Good morning, Doctor,” Mary greeted him back. “Breakfast will be ready soon. What time do you leave?”

“The cab should be here in about thirty minutes.” He sat at the table and reviewed his itinerary. He had toyed with the idea of driving to the airport and leaving his car in long term parking, but in the end he decided a cab would be less hassle, and certainly cheaper considering the parking rates. Besides, he could use the local coffee shop as the pick up point, and there’d be no record left to tie back to him. He liked having no loose ends. “I’ll be staying at the Broadmore in San Francisco, but if you need to reach me for anything, just call me on the cell phone. I’ll check in with you a few times each day to make sure everything is okay.”

“Oh, we’ll be fine, Doctor,” Mary whipped the eggs together for an omelet. “Don’t worry about us.”

“Tracy will be working in the lab while I’m gone, but don’t concern yourself with her. She shouldn’t need anything.” Johnson looked up at Mary and said with a commanding tone, “In fact, make sure you stay away from the lab. Her work is at a critical stage and I don’t want her disturbed for any reason.”

“Yes, of course Doctor,” Mary responded obediently. He went back to looking at his papers and her eyes lingered on him. Tracy had been working in the lab for a couple of weeks now, but Mary hadn’t seen her, or spoken to her since that first day. Almost as if . . . he was keeping them separated . . .

No, Mary shook the thought off. The Doctor was a good man. What reason could there be for him to want to keep them isolated here?

* * * * *

Max slowly rose from the depths of sleep, feeling little fingers poking at his face. His eyes popped open to take in an amazing sight and a slow smile spread over his face. Liz lay stretched out in bed with a smile on her lips too, and her eyes were bright and happy. Between them, Matthew was contentedly playing with his toes with one hand and tugging on Max’s lower lip with the other.

Lifting up his hand to encompass Matthew’s, he pulled the boy’s fingers out of his mouth and he said, “Hey buddy. Good morning to you too.” Matthew’s tiny fingers closed around one of Max’s much larger ones and the baby gurgled a greeting in his throat.

Max rose up on his elbow and kissed Matthew’s forehead and then leaned over him to give Liz a proper good morning too. She lifted her head from her pillow and met him half way while Matthew looked up watching his parents kissing.

“How’re you feeling?” Max asked in a soft tone when his lips parted from hers.

“I’m fine,” Liz cupped the side of his face with her hand. Max stared into her eyes and he knew that today she meant what she said. He could see that the distress of yesterday had been pushed to the background again. It never went away, for either of them, but her coping mechanisms were back in place.

“Good,” Max relaxed a little and kissed her again softly. Matthew got tired of being ignored so he kicked his legs and cooed and sure enough, he got the attention focused on him again. His daddy nibbled on his tummy and his mommy kissed him on the cheek and Matthew was one contented little baby.

* * * * *

Johnson sat on the edge of the bed looking down into Jenny’s sleeping face. His optimism was riding high and if all went well with the interview at Pacifica, they could be on their way to a new life in no time. Tracy had proven to be a godsend and the work was nearing completion well ahead of schedule. She was smart and efficient and she kept her nose out of things that didn’t concern her. She knew nothing about Jenny, and she had only met Mary the one time.

Johnson brushed the hair away from Ellie’s face and she tried really hard not to move, not to let him know she was awake. She knew he was going away for a few days, and that made her happy. She liked it when it was just her and Mary here. Maybe without Doctor daddy here, she could even convince Mary to take her to the park.

She cringed inside as Johnson leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. She kept her eyes closed and she didn’t move a muscle and then she felt the bed move as he rose to his feet. She heard his footsteps walking out of her bedroom and down the hall, and then the apartment door opening. The sound of Mary’s voice reached her, telling him to have a good trip, and then the door closed behind him and he was gone.

Ellie sat up in bed silently hoping that he would never come back.

* * * * *

Max walked through the familiar halls of the 7th Precinct on his way to the squad room. He had a donut in one hand and a steaming cup of coffee in another and as he walked through the doorway, Carl looked up to greet him.

“Morning Max. Is everything okay at home?”

“Yeah,” Max nodded, looking down at the concerned face of his boss, and his friend. He was glad Carl knew everything now, that there were no more secrets between them. “Liz is much better today.”

“Good. Glad to hear it,” he watched as Max make his way over to his desk. It was a crime what those two kids had been forced to live through. It wasn’t surprising that once in a while the weight of it was just too much. He and Rachel had talked about it last night when they were lying in bed together.

“Carl . . .” Max said as he sat in his chair and turned around to face him.

“Yeah?” Carl closed the file he was looking at and gave Max his full attention.

“Do you ever get the feeling when you’re investigating a case that you’re missing something? Some crucial piece of evidence that you know is right there, but you just can’t see it?”

“Sure,” Carl nodded, noting the fretful look on his partners face. “It happens more often than you might think. Why do you ask?”

Max rose to his feet, abandoning the donut on his desk as he began to pace. “I feel like I’m overlooking something,” he raked his hand through his hair. He paced over to Carl’s desk and then darted his head out the door to make sure no one was close enough to overhear their conversation. Turning back to Carl his voice lowered as he said, “In the dreams. There’s something there. Something important. Something I’m missing.”

“Something that you think will help you find Ellie,” Carl leaned back in his chair.

“Exactly,” Max nodded.

“Something that she said maybe?” Carl prodded.

“That’s just it,” Max said in frustration. “I don’t know. I don’t know if it was something that she said, or she did, or . . . damn it, I just don’t know.”

“It’s so hard to tell you anything when I don’t know what you’re experiencing,” he sympathized.

“I know,” he paced again in front of Carl’s desk.

“You said you connect to Liz, so you can bring her into the dreams,” Carl sat forward with the beginning of an idea forming in his head.

“Right,” Max met his gaze.

“Can you do that with anyone?” Carl asked. “Could you do it with me? Could you bring me into the dream?”

“You’d have to come over to my house and sleep with me,” Max said before he realized how that sounded. Of course, that’s when Chris walked into the squad room. His blue eyes looked piercingly at Max, and then at Carl, and then he turned around and walked back out.

Before Carl or Max could react to Chris’ reaction, the phone rang on Carl’s desk. He picked it up and his relaxed demeanor quickly changed. He sat up straight and jotted notes on a tablet on his desk. Rising to his feet, he slammed the phone down and grabbed his coat off the back of his chair.

“Let’s go,” he barked. “We have a 235 in progress.”

“Oh shit,” Max hissed. “Where?”

Carl slipped his jacket on as they hurried through the hallway and pulled his cell phone out of his pocket. “Sunrise Preschool, over on Delancey Street. One suspect commandeered a classroom and is holding the kids hostage. Early reports indicate the perp is heavily armed.”

“Jesus,” Max shook his head in shock. “Any idea why?”

“Why?” Carl snapped as they burst through the station house doors. “Because sometimes the world goes fucking insane.”

Come back on Thursday for the next part.

posted on 9-Aug-2002 12:55:54 AM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17

Look for the link to the first 59 chapters on page 1.

Author note: I’m glad so many of you liked the scene between Ellie and Matthew, where she came into his dream, and ‘read’ him The Velveteen Rabbit. It’s one of my favorite scenes in this incredibly long story.

Some of you have some very good ideas about what you want/think will happen now. Is there an expectant feel in the air, that yes, something IS finally going to happen? Hummm. Shall we see . . .

Broken in two sections due to length . . .

Captive Hearts
Part 101

The sky strobed with red and blue flashing lights and the street was filled with police activity. Uniformed officers patrolled the streets, keeping spectators behind the barricades. Parents, anxious and scared out of their minds waited in a holding area, sequestered from the public and the press. The swat team had taken up positions around the building and the tension in the air was thick enough to cut with a knife. Static crackled over two-way radios as the standoff went on and on. The suspect wasn’t budging.

Carl and Max sat with their backs to the building while the brass tried to negotiate a peaceful surrender. They’d been here for hours, throughout the morning and now into the afternoon, and their conversation drifted from one subject to another as they waited for something to happen.

“So there I was,” Carl reminisced, “standing in the ring with the referee holding my arm up in the air and Sparks was sprawled across the canvas at my feet, out cold. Even at that, it took me awhile to realize that I had really won. World Welterweight Champion. It feels like a million years ago.”

“You must have been proud of yourself,” Max commended. Carl had come a long way from a boy running on the streets of Mexico City.

“Oh, I guess I was,” Carl plucked at a piece of grass. “It would have been better if I’d had someone to share it with, but I was alone then. My mother had been dead for years, and I didn’t have any other family . . . and I hadn’t met Michelle yet.”

Max just nodded. He knew what it was like to feel alone. All those years of wanting Liz, and certain he could never have her. And then she was his, but their lives were in such turmoil locked inside that hellhole. And when he’d escaped it, he’d been alone again, but that time it had been even worse than before. Liz had been truly gone, and he hadn’t known if she was alive or dead, or if he would ever see her face again.

“So tell me,” Carl said softly as they sat side by side on the hard ground. He darted a look at his partner, and then picked at another blade of grass. “What it was like after the Evan’s found you in the desert?”

Carl knew there were huge blocks of time in Max’s life that he didn’t know about yet. Max had filled him in on what he thought were the important details. What he was. Where he came from. What had happened to him and Liz in the Lakely Institute, and then later to Liz at Haystack Mountain. What they had done to Ellie. And why.

But Carl still didn’t know the things that had shaped the quiet man that sat beside him. The things he had faced, growing up on the outside, knowing he didn’t fit in. Would Max let Carl see the real man that tried so hard to hide from the world?

“There’s not much to tell,” Max tried to sidestep the question. He was good at that. He’d spent a lifetime perfecting it.

“Somehow,” Carl laughed, “I don’t quite believe that.” He leveled a gaze at his young partner, and their eyes met, two kindred souls. “It must have been incredibly hard for you, suddenly finding yourselves wandering in a strange land, not even able to understand the language.”

“It was,” Max confessed. “When we came out of the pods,” and he darted at look at the older man. “The stasis pods we were in, we didn’t know anything. When my parents took us in, Isabel and I were scared to death. We had lost Michael and we were so afraid they would take us away from each other.”

“So what was it like growing up? I get the impression you weren’t exactly Mr. Big Max on Campus.”

“No,” Max laughed lightly and then turned serious again. “I pretty much watched the world go by. We never got too close to anyone. We were too . . . different.”

“Except Liz,” Carl watched the police activity, but his focus was on Max.

“Even Liz,” Max stared ahead blankly, remembering all the times he would watch her, certain he could never have her. “Especially Liz.” Max paused and Carl wondered what he meant, and then he continued. “I tried to stay away from her for the longest time, because I knew what I would only end up hurting her. And I was right. She’s suffered a lot because of me.”

“But obviously, you didn’t stay away from her. What changed?”

“She got shot, that day in the Crashdown, and everything changed,” Max answered.

“Why did you save her, Max?” Carl asked, knowing how much he risked by that act of bravery. His answer would tell a story about what kind of man he was.

Max turned to look at Carl with a look of adoration on his face and said, “I would have done anything for her. Anything. Not saving her was never an option.”

Carl’s two way radio crackled with static and he spoke into it softly, reporting that all was quiet at this location. Max refocused on the task at hand, trying to think of how to end this.

“Those kids have to be getting awfully hungry by now,” he said, shaking off the thoughts of the past. “Hungry kids usually means fussy kids. And fussy kids around a man with a gun is not a good combination.”

“You’re right,” Carl agreed.

“Let me go in there –”

“Max. No!” Carl was adamant. He couldn’t let Max go in there. He was just a kid, for god’s sake. There was a crazy bastard in there with a gun. He wasn’t about to let his young partner risk his life like that.

“Carl, it makes sense for me to go in,” Max tried to convince him. “I look young. Dress me up in a Burger Palace uniform and that guy will never suspect I work for the police department. You need someone to see what’s going on inside. I’m your best bet. Besides . . . there may be things that I can do . . .”

“You mean . . .” Carl let the words hang. Could Max use his powers to stop this standoff without anyone getting hurt?

Max nodded slowly, knowing that Carl understood. Did they really have any other options?

* * * * *

Max stood by the command center wearing a purple shirt with a little gold bow tie, and a paper crown on his head. The nametag pinned to his chest read King Max. On the table in front of him were bags and bags of cooked hamburgers and fries, fresh from the local Burger Palace. The aroma filled the air around him, but it didn’t make him hungry, even though he hadn’t eaten in hours. His stomach was too tied up in knots.

“This will give us a view of what’s going on inside,” Carl said as he affixed the tiny camera to one of the ‘jewels’ in Max’s paper crown. “As long as you keep your crown on,” Carl smiled encouragingly, “we’ll be able to see everything you see.”

“Okay,” Max said, trying not to show his nervousness. Had this really been his idea? It sounded good at the time, so why were his knees shaking now?

“Look,” Carl grasped his young partner’s shoulders. “Be careful in there. Just go in, assess the situation, and come out alive. Don’t try to be a hero.”

“I’m not the hero type,” Max tried to joke back.

Oh yes you are, Carl thought silently as he stared into the young man’s face. Max was more heroic than anyone he’d ever met. A silent communion passed between them, man to man, understanding each other without the need for words. They were partners.

“Okay, then,” Carl said gruffly.

Max took a deep breath and turned toward the bags of food, picking them up with a hand that looked steady on the outside but was shaking like a leaf on the inside. He loaded down his arms with food and then he tried to swallow but he didn’t have any spit left in his mouth. The Lieutenant in charge of the operation tapped him on the shoulder and gave him the all clear sign, and Max slowly walked toward the front entrance of the Sunrise Preschool.

* * * * *

Liz was enjoying a game of peek-a-boo with Matthew, who didn’t quite know the rules of the game but thought it was fun anyway, when the phone interrupted. She reached for it absently, wondering if it was Max again, checking to see how she was. He was such a worrier. She felt bad that she’d broken down yesterday and added to that worry.

“Is that Daddy?” she asked Matthew, who was smiling up a storm. “He should be coming home soon, shouldn’t he? I bet you can hardly wait to see your Daddy!” Matthew was kicking excitedly and Liz fumbled with the phone, answering it with a cheery “Hello?”

“Liz?” Rachel’s voice was strained on the other end of the line. “Are you alright?”

“Rachel?” Liz said with surprise. She sounded so funny, so . . . upset. Was this about yesterday? Had Max asked her to call and see if she was okay? “I’m fine Rachel.”

“You don’t know what’s happening?” Rachel sat down on her office chair, knowing the answer just by the sound of Liz’s voice.

“Going on?” Liz said with confusion.

“Turn on the TV,” Rachel said and Liz frowned.

Turn on the TV? Why would Rachel call and want her to turn on the TV? A sudden uneasiness grew in her stomach and Liz reached for the remote. She pressed the button and the TV flared to life. A stupid Snapple commercial filled the screen, with the bottles wearing wigs, and Liz switched the channel. A Burger Palace commercial was playing now, one that she’d never seen before, with a guy loaded down with bags . . . of . . . Why did that Burger Palace guy look so familiar? This was a really bad commercial. The camera shots were really jerky, and went in and out of focus. Why were there police cars in a Burger Palace commercial? The camera zoomed around and the world suddenly stopped.

Why was Carl in a Burger Palace commercial?

“Liz?” Rachel’s worried voice came over the line.

“Oh Jesus. Oh God.” The phone slid from her hand and fell to the couch unnoticed. The camera panned around again and refocused on the man in the Burger Palace uniform. The words ‘breaking news’ and ‘standoff’ and ‘gunman’ and ‘hostages’ were blaring from the TV and slowly seeping into her numb brain. “Oh God,” Liz crawled across the floor and pressed her hand against the screen. “Max . . . what are you doing?”

* * * * *

Max steeled his nerves and stepped through the doorway of the Sunrise Preschool. It took him a moment to adjust to the dim interior and then he moved forward, past a row of cubbyholes adorned with names written on a piece of masking tape claiming ownership to the contents inside. Nicky and Ryan and Susie and Maggie and Rosita. Bobby had a drawing of a racecar, probably just waiting to show off to his parents. Miguel had made something colorful out of construction paper. Darrell had glued various shapes of pasta on paper in the shape of a house. Was it his house? The house that he expected to go home to every night, not knowing that one day a crazy man would change his safe little world?

“Hello?” he called out to the empty room. “I have your food . . .”

Did his voice really sound that shaky? The sound of footsteps reached his ears and beads of sweat formed on his brow. A door opened in front of him and silently granted him permission to enter. Max stepped forward with his heart pounding in his throat.

* * * * *

Liz rocked back and forth on the floor in front of the TV, quietly watching the scene play out on the screen. The reporter in the newsroom recapped the events for the umpteenth time, but it didn’t make it any easier for her to hear.

“Witnesses say Ronald Kane, 34, entered the Sunrise Preschool early this morning to pick up his 5 year old son Ryan. Court records indicate Ronald’s ex-wife Shelia Kane, 32, was granted sole custody of the boy in a bitter divorce proceeding in January of this year. Kane was arrested in May of 2000 on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon and served 2 years of a 5 year sentence . . .

* * * * *

Max walked forward toward the gaping maw that on any other day would look like an ordinary doorway. He could hear movement beyond, sniffles and little bodies shifting position, and he closed his eyes briefly hoping that everyone in there was alright. They had been able to determine that Kane was holding 10, possibly 11 children hostage, and one preschool teacher.

He stepped slowly into a shuttered room, the shades drawn to prevent outsiders a view of what was happening inside. His eyes swept the room rapidly, taking in everything in quick succession. Chairs ajar . . . tipped over . . . pushed to the side . . . evidence of a struggle.

He had been shown photographs of the kids they thought were still inside and he searched for those faces now, placing the names with each child. Nicky Larson, 6 years old, was sitting with his back against the wall. Max made eye contact with him, thinking kids should never have to look that scared. Next to Nicky was Manuel Hernandez, 7. His birthday would be in two weeks, and the look on his face said he wasn’t sure he’d be around to celebrate. He was holding his sister Rosita’s hand. She was only 4.

Susie and Sarah Walker were 5 year old twins. They were sitting on the floor with their arms around each other, with dried tear streaks on their faces. Darrell Brown, another 5 year old, had his arms wrapped around his knees and he was rocking back and forth. Miguel Ortiz, 6, had his arm around Maggie Holcombe, 5. Miguel was trying to protect her, to shield her from harm.

Bobby Hitchner, 6, was standing over Carol Wilson, the 23 year old day care worker, and she wasn’t looking very good. Her eyes were unfocused and blood dripped down the side of her face from a wound on her scalp. The evidence of how that wound was inflicted was plain to see. She had tried to stop a madman with a gun, unsuccessfully.

Max moved his head slowly so the camera hidden in the paper crown on his head would capture all the angles of the room. On the left, far away from the children that were huddled against the wall, was the man who had hurled them into this nightmare.

Ronald Kane stood against the far wall looking unkempt and unclean. His long brown hair was dirty and hung into his eyes. The stubble on his chin made him look like he hadn’t bathed for days. His clothes were dirty and torn. On a chair in front of him sat a terrified little boy. Ryan Kevin Kane. Ronald’s son.

“I’ll just . . .” Max moved into the room, shifting the bags in his hands.

“Just put ‘em on the floor!” Ronald shouted and leveled the gun at Max.

“Okay – Okay,” Max slowly dropped down to one knee.

He looked down briefly to set the bags on the floor and suddenly cold hard steel was pressing against the back of his head. He forgot how to breathe and then he slowly looked up into a pair of wild, crazy eyes. The next words that came out of that mouth made his blood run cold.

Ronald Kane stared down at Max with the barrel of his rifle pressed to Max’s head, and he said, “Is this your day to die?”

* * * * *

Ellie sat at the table in the kitchen, with one leg tucked underneath her and the other swinging back and forth in the air. It was dinnertime, just her and Mary, and she was happy.

“Me like abasco sauce,” Ellie declared as she sprinkled the condiment on her grilled cheese sandwich.

“Tabasco sauce,” Mary corrected her as she took a bite of her own sandwich. Grilled cheese for dinner wasn’t her favorite, but Jenny liked it and that’s all that mattered.

“Dat’s what I said!” Ellie exclaimed. “abasco sauce!”

“Sorry!” Mary laughed. Jenny could be so adamant about things.

“My daddy likes abasco, too. Him likes it on ebbyfing!” Ellie took a big bite of her sandwich and sighed appreciatively. Tabasco sauce made everything yummy.

“Does he now?” Mary raised her eyebrows. She hadn’t noticed the Doctor using it much –

“But mommy don’t like it too much,” Ellie chattered on. “Only when daddy gibs her babies. Den she likes it.”

“Oh?” Mary wasn’t sure if she should humor Jenny and play along, or if she should ignore the make believe world Jenny seemed to want to live in. Or should she correct her, and remind her that her mother was dead? She had no experience with this kind of thing.

“Yep,” Ellie nodded enthusiastically and happily took another bite of her sandwich.

* * * * *

“This one’s for you,” Max slowly held up one of the bags. The rifle was still pointed right at his head and he fought not to let his hand shake. “Cheeseburger and fries, just like you asked for . . .”

“How do I know you didn’t poison it? Or drug it?” Kane said menacingly.

“Look,” Max stared up at him and his voice sounded scared. “I’m just the delivery guy.”

Kane looked him over closely and relaxed a little. He was just a damn kid. Probably nothing more than a high school kid, or one of those snot nose college boys. He grabbed one of the other bags and moved quickly back against the wall, with his son in front of him. With a nod of his head, he silently gave Max permission to pass out the rest of the food.

Max took in a ragged breath and slowly scooted to his right, opening the bags and handing each child something to eat. He touched each one, on the hand or on the arm or face, assessing their condition. Beside the fact they were scared to death, they all appeared unhurt. He finally reached Carol’s side, but she was a different matter. He looked up at Bobby and the two shared a knowing look. Carol was in bad shape. Bobby knew it too.

* * * * *

“Good . . . good . . .” Carl mumbled as he stared into the monitor. The camera was picking up the images clearly, even if they were a little dark. He could see Max’s hand come into the field of vision now and then, touching each of the children and he knew exactly what his partner was doing.

“We’ve got clear visuals on 9 of the 10 kids,” a voice behind Carl spoke into a two-way radio. “They all appear unharmed.”

“What have we got here?” Carl mumbled aloud. The monitor was suddenly filled with the image of a young woman, with blood streaking down her face.

* * * * *

“Um . . . Mister,” Max turned to look at Kane. Their eyes met and Max shuddered at the coldness he saw there. “This lady’s really hurt. I think she needs a doctor.”

“Stay out of things that aren’t your business,” Kane barked out. “Unless you want to be a part of this too.”

“Look,” Max held his hands out non-threateningly. “I don’t know what this is all about, but if you let her go, maybe they’ll see it as a good will gesture on your part, you know?”

“Whadda you know?” Kane hissed. “You’re just a kid.”

“Well, I know that she’s hurt, and if something bad happens to her, they’re gonna jump all over your shit.”

* * * * *

“That’s right Max,” Carl urged as he watched the monitor. “Keep him talking. Keep him distracted. If you could just get the boy away from him . . .”

* * * * *

Kane stared at the girl, wondering if that punk ass kid was right. If the stupid bitch hadn’t tried to fight him, she wouldn’t be lying over there hurt right now. Maybe he should let her go. Maybe they’d grant him some concessions.

“Okay,” Kane waved his rifle toward the door. “Get her out of here. Now.”

Max tried not to show his surprise. He didn’t really think Kane was going to listen to him. He slid an arm around Carol’s back and Bobby did the same thing on her other side, and the two of them shared another look. Max was pretty sure of what was going to happen next. In fact, he was counting on it.

Max and Bobby slowly walked Carol toward the door and as they neared it, Kane called out, “That’s far enough.”

“I thought –” Max started to say and Kane cut him off.

“The kid can take her. You stay with me.”

“She can’t stand on her own,” Max let Carol’s weight sag against him for emphasis. “The boy will never be able to get her out of here on his own. I’ll stay, but you have to let a couple of the others help him get her outside.”

* * * * *

“That’s it Max,” Carl nodded his approval. “Get him to release as many as you can. Don’t push it too hard, though. Good . . . good . . . that’s it . . .”

Back with the rest in a sec . . .

posted on 9-Aug-2002 12:57:02 AM by Breathless
Captive Hearts
Part 101 con’t

Max pointed at Miguel Ortiz and the young girl sitting next to him. “You and you, c’mere.” The two children raised their eyebrows and Max motioned for them to hurry. Miguel scrambled to his feet and pulled Maggie up beside him. He held her hand tightly, afraid that at any moment the bad man was going to tell them to sit back down and his prayers of getting out of here were not going to be answered.

The nice man motioned for him to hurry, and Miguel crossed the room quickly. He couldn’t read very well yet, but he did recognize the name on the man’s chest. Max. Max was going to let him get out of this bad place, and he’d be able to take Maggie with him.

“They don’t both need to go,” Kane said harshly.

“Look at how small they are,” Max tried to placate the man. “It’ll take two of them to replace me.” Kane narrowed his eyes suspiciously and then decided to let it go. He didn’t need all these brats anyway. He motioned for him to continue and Max pushed Miguel into position next to Carol, wrapping his small arm around her back.

Carol knew that this young man was trying to get the children out, and using her to do it, and she was grateful to him for that. She was fully able to walk out of there under her own strength, but she played along, acting as if she were only semi-conscious.

Bobby was a smart boy for his age and he knew there was something more to this man who was trying to help them. His brother worked at the Burger Palace and Bobby went there all the time. ‘King Max’ wasn’t one of the employees there. He wondered if there was something that he could do to help Max, if ‘Max’ was even his real name. It did seem to kinda fit him, though.

Kane had wandered over to the window and separated the blinds, peeking through two of the slats. He couldn’t see any activity out there, but he knew the cops were there. “Hurry up!” he said harshly. “Get her outta here.”

“Okay you guys, go,” Max urged, just as Bobby stepped away and hurried over to Darrell. The smaller boy was scared to death and had been crying all afternoon. Max bit back his tongue to keep from yelling at Bobby to come back, to get out, to save himself. He knew how important it was to do this calmly. Bobby pulled Darrell to his feet and pushed him over toward Carol.

Understanding dawned on Max and he silently acknowledged the boy’s courage. Hoping he could get away with it, Max motioned for Nicky to come too and the boy nearly ran across the room to help Darrell.

“Go now, go!” Max pushed on Miguel’s back to get them moving. Carol shuffled her feet as the children pulled her along, Miguel and Maggie on her left and Darrell and Nicky on her right, and Max breathed a sigh of relief when they disappeared out through the doorway. He turned to look at Bobby and lifted his hand to ruffle the boy’s hair. He’d done a brave thing, letting Darrell go in his place. Now he just hoped Bobby would still be alive tomorrow to talk about it.

* * * * *

“We’ve got hostages coming out!” Carl shouted into a walkie talkie that felt like it had become a permanent part of his hand. “Four, no, make that five! Four of the kids, plus the teacher. Get the paramedics over here!”

His eyes were glued to the front door of the day care center and a cheer went up when four young children came into sight. Carl could hear the relieved gasps from parents who were lucky enough to have their children freed, and muffled sobs from the parents that weren’t so fortunate. Members of the swat team surrounded the kids and the teacher and pulled them to safety.

Carl turned back to the monitor, looking at the faces of the children left inside, knowing it was the same sight his partner was looking at. In the scheme of things, he hadn’t known Max for very long. The young man had walked into his life only seven months ago, but he had changed his life profoundly. Watching as Max gathered the remaining children around him, Carl had never been more proud of anyone in his life. With no training, and no experience, Max had gotten the perp to release a third of the hostages. What’s more, it appeared that he’d done it all by using his whits, and not any alien hocus pocus.

Knowing that, Carl couldn’t help but wonder what was going to happen next, and how long Max’s luck would last?

* * * * *

Liz pressed her hand against her mouth with her eyes glued to the television screen. Something was happening. She could tell by the increased activity. What looked like members of the swat team were getting closer to the door of the daycare, guns drawn and ready, and she prayed that Max was coming out in one piece, alive and well.

Her hope swelled when a figure appeared in the doorway, and then plummeted. It wasn’t Max after all. Of course it wasn’t. Max wouldn’t come out until all the children were safe. She knew that.

“I have to go there.” Her statement left no room for discussion.

“I’ll take you,” Rachel rose to her feet.

“We’ll watch Matthew for you,” Annie said and her hand squeezed Josh’s.

There was a full house in the Evans’ living room. One by one, couple by couple, friends had convened at the small home to give Liz the support they knew she needed. Max had erroneously thought recently that he blended into the background, that nobody really knew who he was, that no one noticed him. The truth was, Max was a man that had impacted many lives. Enriched many people. Changed some profoundly. As word spread through their circle of friends, they were drawn to Liz, to support her while her husband’s life hung in the balance.

* * * * *

“Mary?” Ellie asked as she played with the bubbles in her bath.

“Yes, dear?” Mary tilted her chin back and used a cup to pour water over the child’s head to rinse the soapsuds away.

“Do you wanna go wiff me to the carnibal?” Ellie asked, keeping her eyes tightly closed so the water wouldn’t get in them.

“Of course I do,” Mary played along. “I’d love to go with you to the carnival.”

“Good!” Ellie splashed. “Daddy said hims gonna take me tonight!”

“Jenny –”

“Daddy awlways keeps hims promises. You’ll see,” Ellie looked up at her with a smile lighting her face. “Tonight, I take you wiff me.”

Mary felt so badly for the poor child. How could her father promise her something like that when he wasn’t even home?

* * * * *

Max huddled against the wall watching Kane as he paced back and forth behind his son. If only he could get Ryan over here, then he could take Kane out. But the way things stood right now, he couldn’t even deploy his shield, because that would leave Ryan vulnerable on the other side. Max watched Kane pacing back and forth, wondering how the man could possibly say that he loved his son. Look at what he was doing to him. As if to emphasize that very point, Kane reached out and backhanded Ryan and Max flinched, hearing the sound of flesh striking flesh echo around the room.

“Stop your sniveling, boy,” Kane demanded. “Your mama’s made you soft. I’ll make a man out of ya.”

Max saw red, incensed that this man had the nerve to say he loved his son, and then turn around and inflict physical pain on him. He wanted to tear Kane apart. He wanted to make Kane scream for mercy. He wanted to make Kane feel each and every horrible thing he had ever done to Ellie.

As that thought registered in his brain, Max knew he was letting his emotions run wild. Kane had nothing to do with Ellie. He knew that, but deep inside him, it all came back to her. Every time a child suffered, it was Ellie suffering in his mind. Every cry was her cry. Every tear that was spilt was from her eye. The pain the children suffered was her pain. A small hand closed around his arm and Max dropped his eyes to meet Bobby’s.

The boy had sensed some inner conflict in the man and he knew that without him, they didn’t stand a chance. It was obvious that Ryan’s dad was whacked. He felt really sorry for him, but it was true. Ryan’s dad was a nut job.

Max stared at Bobby and couldn’t help but wonder about the link they seemed to have formed already. As far as he could tell, Bobby didn’t have an alien cell in his body, yet there was something there between them. Some connection. Max had decided a long time ago not to fight his alien side anymore, and instead to used it, to let it flow when the need arose, and looking around him know, there was no better time than the present.

Besides Ryan, there were five children left inside these walls. His job was to get them out. If he never accomplished anything else in his life, he had to do this. His left arm encompassed both Susie and Sarah. They were twins. Identical twins, and Max couldn’t tell the difference. Both were adorable, with their wispy blonde hair and their pale blue eyes. Max decided the only way to get them out of here was to have them appear to be sick together.

He lifted his hand to cup Sarah’s face, and then repeated the action, cupping Susie’s as well. Almost instantaneously, Sarah felt her cheeks getting hot. Her breathing became more labored and she gasped trying to draw in air. A blue tinge settled over her features and Max turned his attention back to Kane.

* * * * *

Liz stood perfectly still watching the monitor, seeing things through Max’s eyes. His hand came into view, cupping the face of a small child, touching her gently, and then the scene shifted as he turned his head to look at the monster that was holding them hostage. The monitor filled with the image of that madman, pacing back and forth with a rifle in one arm and a pistol tucked in his belt. Her heart leapt as Max’s voice came over the speaker and the madman pointed the rifle right at him.

“Um . . . I think we have a problem here . . .”

* * * * *

“What problem,” Kane said menacingly. His rifle was aimed right at the kid, and he had no qualms about using it.

Max pointed at Susie and Sarah and said, “There’s something wrong with these girls. I think you better let them go.”

“What are you talking about?” Kane barked.

“Look at ‘em. Look at the way they’re breathing. I think they’re having an asthma attack or something,” Max cupped Susie’s face and continued, “Her lips are starting to turn blue.”

Bobby stared at the girls, wondering how that happened. Susie and Sarah didn’t have asthma. They’d grown up together and he would have known something like that. But sure enough, they were struggling to breathe, making all kinds of raspy noises in their throats, and their skin was turning a funny color.

Kane was getting nervous. He wanted to get the fuck outta here, just take his fucking kid and go, but that stupid bitch had ruined everything. It was all her fault that this was happening. He shoulda put a fucking bullet right through her fuckin head. How dare she say he couldn’t take his son. He didn’t give a shit about no fuckin restraining order. Ryan was his son, and no stupid cunt was gonna keep his boy away from him. He should have just shot her instead of hitting her across the head with the gun. Then this whole fucking mess could have been avoided.

“Mister –”

“Shut the fuck up!” Kane hissed at Max. The kid was starting to get on his nerves. So were those girls, making all that noise and shit. Maybe he should just make them shut up right now. He pulled the 38 Magnum out of his pants and marched across the room, pointing it right at Sarah’s head.

* * * * *

“Oh Jesus,” Carl hissed and Liz felt her legs giving out. It was only Rachel’s arm around her that held her up, and kept her from falling to the ground. The gunman’s image loomed larger as he stormed across the room with a gun pointed them. They all watched helpless and horrified, afraid to see what would happen next, and then the monitor went blank.

* * * * *

“Mister! Don’t!” Max cried out and ripped the hat off his head. He pulled the girls closer to him and the kids were all crying now, Susie and Sarah and Manuel and Rosita, and over the roar of the blood rushing through his ears Max could hear Bobby crying too. He thrust his hand out in front of him to project his shield, but stopped at the last second when Kane took a step back.

“You and you,” Kane pointed at the girls and waved his gun toward the door. “Get out of here.”

They both looked at Max with their eyes wide and frightened, silently asking him if it was alright for them to go, did the scary man really mean it? Max touched each girl on the face, to reassure them and to stop the illusion of an asthma attack that he had created, and he said, “Go.”

The girls scrambled to their feet and hand in hand they ran for the door. Kane swept his eyes over the remaining hostages and stopped when his gaze fell on Rosita. She was huddled on the floor next to her brother, with her thumb in her mouth. Kane looked at her disgustedly, seeing the puddle she was sitting in. The girl had pissed herself.

“You,” he pointed the gun at the girl and she cowered away from him. Manuel had his arms around her trying to protect his little sister but he was scared out of his mind. He was her big brother. He was supposed to protect her, but he couldn’t do anything.

“Mister,” Max begged. “Let her go. She’s just a little girl.”

* * * * *

“We’ve still got sound,” Carl barked into the phone. He wondered if Max had ditched the crown on purpose, incase he had to use his alien powers to prevent a blood bath. He listened closely, seeing the inside only in his imagination now, and then he called out, “Two more coming out! Wait! Make that three!”

* * * * *

“What are we gonna do now?” Bobby whispered and looked up at Max.

“That’s a good question,” Max whispered back. “I wish I knew the answer.” He sat on the floor with his back to the wall and his knees drawn close to his chest. Bobby leaned against his right side, and Manuel against his left and his arms were around both boys, trying to give them some sense of protection. Across the room, Kane was showing signs of increased agitation.

“This was all you mother’s fault,” Kane spit out the words to his son. “She wouldn’t let me see you. Said I was bad for you. What did that bitch know? Huh? Huh? She was stupid from the day I met her until the day I –”

Until the day he what? Max wondered. Kane had just stopped talking all of a sudden, but Max had a pretty good idea what the rest of the sentence would be. His eyes opened wider, certain now that he was looking at the face of a killer.

* * * * *

“Confirmation’s just coming in,” Carl heard over the walkie talkie. “Two bodies were found at a residence over in Chandler. “Sonya Barton, 54, and her daughter Sheila Kane, 32. The mother had multiple gunshot wounds to the chest. Sheila Kane had one gunshot wound to the back of the head. The coroner said it looked like she was killed execution style.”

Carl turned his eyes toward the exterior of the daycare, wondering how much longer before a killer would strike again. “Just do it, Max,” Carl whispered. “Do what ever it takes to get out of there alive.”

* * * * *

“You know, you shouldn’t have come in here,” Kane’s eyes bore into Max’s. “You should have just left the food on the floor in the other room, and ran. Then I wouldn’t hafta –”

Have to what? Max could see that Kane was losing his grip.

“I have to make them to back off,” Kane muttered. It was getting dark outside now and the lights from the cop cars were flashing across the window blinds and swirling around the walls. He’d been in this fuckin hole for nearly twelve hours, with the fuckin cops outside and these stupid kids inside, and he couldn’t take anymore. He suddenly whirled on Max and the boys and he stormed across the room, grabbing Bobby by the collar. The boy screamed in fright and then Kane threw him to the floor with the rifle pointed right at the back of his head. “I’ll make an example out of you –”

Max saw Kane’s finger tighten on the trigger and he knew he was out of time. He gathered all of his energy, just as he had done on a night so long ago, and he focused on the gun. Kane’s eyes grew wide as his arm fought against what his brain was telling it to do. His finger was pulled away from the trigger by some unseen force and then the rifle flew out of his hands. It skittered across the floor and came to rest near Ryan’s feet.

Kane stumbled back and his mouth dropped open when he saw the blue light emanating from the delivery boy’s eyes. “What the fuck?” He pulled the pistol out of his pants and aimed it right at Max.

“Don’t,” came a small, shaky voice from the other side of the room. Four sets of eyes turned to look at Ryan, holding the rifle that was as big as he was. He was pointing it right at his father with tears streaming down his face. “I won’t let you hurt them.”

“You little shit,” Kane spat out at his son. He lunged for the boy and Ryan stumbled backwards, pulling the trigger as he fell. The room filled with the sound of the rifle shot and Max hurled a burst of energy at Kane, lifting him off his feet and flinging him across the room like a rag doll. He impacted the wall hard and slid unconscious to the floor.

Max scrambled to his feet and ran to Bobby, checking to make sure he was okay. Next he raced across the room to check on Kane. The bullet from the rifle had struck the ceiling harmlessly, but the impact from Max hurling him against the wall had knocked Kane unconscious.

“Did I kill him?” Ryan’s trembling voice broke the stunned silence in the room.

“No,” Max turned to the boy and pulled him into his arms. Ryan was crying uncontrollably now, and Max held him tightly, saying soothingly, “You didn’t hurt him at all. It’s okay now. Everything’s going to be okay.”

The swat team burst into the room, mobilized into action by the sound of gunfire, rapidly taking in the sight of the gunman lying unconscious on the floor, and a kid in a Burger Palace uniform hugging three frightened little boys.

* * * * *

Rachel was actively restraining Liz, holding her back from running into the building. They’d all heard the gunshot, and then watched petrified as the swat team stormed the building. After hours and hours of waiting, everything was happening so fast now.

“You can’t go in there, Liz,” Rachel held her by the arms.

“I have to! I have to see if he’s okay!” Liz tried to break free. Her eyes were glued to the front of the daycare and then her struggles suddenly stopped. “Max . . .”

Carl and Rachel turned to follow her gaze, just in time to see Max stepping into view, with three young boys around him. A cheer went up from the crowd that the brave young man had gotten all the children out safely and Liz broke free of Rachel, racing across the ground and throwing herself into Max’s arms.

Her presence immediately calmed him and Max wrapped his arms around her, closing his eyes to just breathe her in. Her face pressed into his chest and he rested his cheek against the top of her head with one hand buried in her hair to hold her close, while cameras flashed all around them. His image would be all across the news tonight, but he didn’t think about that right now. Everyone was safe. That was all that mattered.

“What are you doing here?” Max finally asked, gently pulling her away from his chest.

“Do you really have to ask?” Liz stared up at him. She wasn’t going to nag him, or scold him, or beg him not to do anything like this ever again. She knew her husband, knew his sense of right and wrong. It was part of what made her love him so much.

“I guess not,” Max smiled down at her. He slid his hand into hers and he said, “Let’s go home.”

* * * * *

Max slowly sank into the blue print chair in his living room and stared at the television screen. They’d been greeted by a house full of friends when they finally arrived home, and to his horror Max had seen his face plastered all over the late night news. The cameras had caught his image dressed in a purple shirt with a crown on his head as he walked into the daycare center, and then again later, when he came back out with the boys. What’s more, the news had made a show of the young hero being reunited with his beautiful young wife. It was the kind of thing the media ate up.

Max could see his image splashed all across the TV screen, as the reporter recapped the day’s events. “Young Detective Max Evans entered the Sunrise Preschool at . . .”

“I’m not even a detective . . . ” Max sounded shell shocked as he spoke. The cameras had caught his image clearly, when he entered the building, and then again later as the standoff ended and he emerged, with three scared boys at his side. “Why do they call me that when it’s not even true?”

“The media always gets these things wrong,” Josh offered. “Don’t worry about it.”

But how could he not worry about what he was seeing on the screen? He looked up at Liz, who was sitting on the arm of his chair and his hand tightened on hers. She knew what he was worried about. What if Johnson saw this? What if he now knows they’re living here, in Phoenix? What if he knows that Max works for the police department? Silently looking back at her, Max wondered, what if Johnson had seen Liz on TV, too? Was she at risk now? Would Johnson come looking for her? What about Matthew? Had his actions today put Matthew at risk?

And what about Ellie? What was going to happen to Ellie now?

Come back on Sunday night to see what happens next. Max has a promise to keep.

posted on 9-Aug-2002 2:28:01 AM by Breathless
Araxie HRH originally wrote:
I'm so glad that the Dr. is out of town to miss Max and Liz on T.V. Hopefully it will only be shown locally. Mary does not watch T.V. or read the news papers . . .

Araxie, you've remember well! There are no TV's in the apartment. No newspapers either.
posted on 12-Aug-2002 1:21:07 AM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17

Author note: Sorry I’m so late, but better late than never, right? Everyone has had a lot of comments lately, so I’ll try to respond to a few . . .

I think everyone wants to know what Max found out about Johnson’s daughter, but you’ll just have to wait a while to find out about that!

Araxie HRH, you are absolutely correct that Mary does not watch television or read the paper. The only time she goes out is for her Sunday visits to her sister, which is also when she does the shopping for the week.

BelevnDreamsToo and PandaBehr, you both were glad I didn’t drag that last part out over two or three parts? Well, originally I did have that as two parts because it was so long, but I took pity on everyone and posted it in one part. Didn’t want to drive anyone over the edge. Not yet. I’ll be making you crazy soon enough anyway!

britterz_8, I did make a comment to I think TaffyCat a while back about a “King Max”. Max in a Burger Place uniform is as Kingly as he gets in this story!

Carol, my friend, thank you for the praise. Coming from you that means a lot. I always love to read your feedback! What I wouldn’t give to make my living doing this, instead of what I really do!

Moonlit Jade, I’m glad you like the relationship between Max and Carl. It is one of the things I am most proud of in this story, that I created a character with no connection to the original show, and made so many of you really care about him.

Wayliz, you were a little confused about whether anyone saw Max use his powers against Kane. I’ll touch on that a little later, not in this part, but I think the next.

Sanne, I’m glad you’re back! I thought about you when I wrote this part! I think you’ll know why when you read it. (King has a guest appearance!) You asked if Mary will be able to recognize Max in the dreams. Well, Mary did see Max in the park when Cindy Morgan disappeared, but that was a few months ago, and only for a few minutes. Well have to wait and see how (if) she puts it all together.

gal, have fun in SPAIN!!! Drinking Sangria and dancing with a hot Spanish Max sounds wonderful! Have a great vacation!

Minanda, I’m glad you like my style of suspense. What will be the ramifications of Max’s exposure, and what role will it play in Ellie’s return? Strap in everybody, and hold on tight! But not yet. Tonight, we have a dream to join . . .

Posted in two sections due to length . . .

Captive Hearts
Part 102

Max shook his head and the water flew from his hair in all directions. He blinked to get it out of his eyes, and then reached for the faucet and shut off the shower. The house had cleared out a while ago with everyone returning to their own homes, and he was bone weary, physically, mentally and emotionally after everything that had happened today, but he couldn’t rest yet. No. There was still something he needed to do.

He dried off quickly and pulled on a clean pair of shorts and a t-shirt and then made his way toward the bedroom. He shut off the bathroom light and walked over to his bed but he didn’t pull back the covers. Instead, he sat on top of the bedspread and waited for Liz to come back from Matthew’s room.

Her small feet barely made a noise as she return to the bedroom and then she stopped, with her hands on her hips, staring at Max. “What do you think you’re doing?”

“Waiting for you,” Max answered, staring right back.

“Why?” She hadn’t budged yet.

“You know why,” a smile graced his lips. He held his arms out and said, “C’mere.”

“Oh, no!” Liz was adamant. “Not tonight Mister! I have a headache!”

“Liz,” Max looked at her with a smirk. “You never have a headache. Besides, when did a little headache ever stop us from connecting with Ellie?”

“Max! You promised me, remember?” Liz scolded him. “You’re tired. I can see it on your face. You promised me that you wouldn’t push the dreams.”

“Liz,” Max tried to allay her worries. “I’m not that tired. Besides, I . . . I need this. After . . . after today . . . I need to be with her . . . just for a little while . . .”

“Max . . .” Liz walked over to the bed and sat beside him.

“We need to find out if everything’s okay at her end. She might know if Johnson saw us on TV, or if he’s trying to pack up to run. We need to know . . .”

“You’re right,” Liz nodded, “but why don’t we just meet her in the meadow. We don’t have to –”

“I promised her, Liz,” Max took her hands in his. “She was so excited about it. I – I don’t want to disappoint her.”

Ellie had been asking over and over when they could go to the ‘carnibal’ as she pronounced it. He and Liz had sketched it all out, what rides she might like, what games she might like to play, what animals she might want to see. After the zoo disaster, Liz had insisted on no monkeys.

They finally thought that they were ready, and two nights ago, he had promised that’s where they would go next. The carnival. Ellie’s eyes had filled with excitement and delight and he just couldn’t bear to disappoint her.

“Max –”

“Liz,” Max looked at her pleadingly. “We won’t stay long. I’ll keep it small so it won’t be too taxing. But . . . I . . .”

He needed this. She could see it in his eyes. “Okay,” she relented. “But you’ll stop if it’s too much stress?”

“Yes,” Max nodded.

“And you’ll keep it small? No mobs of people like a real carnival?”

“Yes,” Max agreed.

“And you’ll end it when you get tired?”

“Yes, Mom,” Max rolled his eyes.

“Okay, then,” Liz smiled, with the ground rules set. It had been a terrible day for him. He’d put his own life in danger so that he could save others. Children, not so much older than Ellie. All the attention he’d garnered today was a difficult thing for a man who had spent his life trying to hide. He needed to relax, unwind, and the best way for him to do that was to feel surrounded by the love of his family. All his family. The dreams could do that for him in a way that nothing else could.

Besides, Max had made a promise, and he never went back on his promises. Liz cupped his cheek with her hand and then she kissed him gently on the lips. When she pulled away, her eyes were sparkling as she said, “Take me to the fair.”

* * * * *

Mary pulled her robe off and draped it over the foot of her bed, like she had every night for years. She pulled the covers aside, slipped between the sheets and turned out the light on the small nightstand by the side of the bed. Her thoughts were of Jenny as she lay staring up at a ceiling that was barely visible in the darkness.

Earlier, she had read Jenny her favorite bedtime story and then tucked her in. They’d had a good day together, and Mary thought the child had been more animated, more talkative than ever before. Right before she fell asleep, Jenny had kissed her on the cheek and said she’d see her again in a few minutes, and they’d go to the carnival. Mary only wished it could be true.

Jenny would love all the bright lights and the festivity at a county fair. She herself had loved it as a child and she knew Jenny wouldn’t be any different. There were just some things children all shared in common, no matter how ‘different’ or ‘special’ they were.

The child had fallen asleep quickly and Mary had given her one last kiss upon the cheek before heading out of her room. Now, she was ready for her own bed. She’d been up since the crack of dawn and she was tired. Her eyes grew heavy quickly and she turned over onto her side, sliding into sleep. Her dreams had become more adventurous lately, with fireworks in the park and trips to the zoo, all dreams that lingered with her in the waking hours. She didn’t know it yet, but another adventure was just a breath away.

* * * * *

“She’ll be here,” Max said with confidence and he licked his strawberry sno cone.

“But it’s so late, Max,” Liz worried as they walked the quiet midway. It was well past the time they usually met Ellie in their dream world, and she wasn’t here. Was it just because they had missed her, or was there a more sinister reason preventing her from joining them? Was Johnson packing her off already, fleeing from Phoenix after seeing Max on the late night news?

“She’ll be here,” Max had no doubt in his mind. Even Johnson fleeing into the night couldn’t stop their connection.

* * * * *

Mary’s breathing evened out as she drifted deeper into sleep and it wasn’t long before her eyes began to dart back and forth beneath her eyelids as the world of dreams opened around her . . .

Humming began to fill her ears and it wasn’t long before she realized it was her own voice making the soothing noise. She was busy in the kitchen using a pair of pruning shears to cut the stems of freshly picked roses, fresh out of her garden. A vase stood on the counter nearby, just waiting for the flowers to add life to a kitchen that had never been blessed with sunlight.

“Are you weady?” a small voice came from behind her and Mary turned to see Jenny standing there with a smile so pure it made her heart swell with the love she felt for the child.

“Ready for what, dear?” Mary asked.

“For the carnibal,” Ellie said matter-of-factly.

“Of course,” Mary humored the child. Jenny stepped closer and Mary watched her as she slipped her small hand into her own.

“Cwose your eyes, Mary, and I take you dare.” Ellie looked up at her and warned, “Don’t peek!”

“I won’t peek!” Mary laughed, humoring the dear child. She closed her eyes and Ellie took her to a place Mary thought only existed in a little girl’s imagination.

* * * * *

Max and Liz walked hand in hand along the midway, looking at all the bright flashing lights and listening to the carnival music blaring out of loud speakers all around them. The atmosphere was full of expectation, alive with anticipation, waiting for a little girl to come join them to bring it all to life.

They walked by a carnival tent with a barker standing by the entrance shouting his spiel, urging them to come inside and spend their money. Just down the way was a man with an accordion playing familiar tunes, with a small monkey at his side dressed in a vest and a top hat with a tin cup in his hand. As Max and Liz neared, the monkey ran back to his master and began humping on the old man’s leg.

“Max!” Liz slapped him on the chest and he burst out laughing. He covered up as she went to hit him again and she cried, “Stop doing that!”

“Doing what?” his eyes sparkled mischievously.

“You know what!” she elbowed him in the side. “What if Ellie were to see that again?”

He wrapped his arms around her so she couldn’t hit him anymore and he nuzzled her ear with a big grin on his face. He bent her over backwards ready to do a little humping of his own and he asked huskily, “You mean this –”

“What you doing?” a quizzical voice sounded behind them.

Max whirled around with an ‘Oh Shit!’ look on his face and nearly dropped Liz on the ground. “Ellie! Baby! You’re here!”

“Is you playing wiff Mommy?” Ellie asked innocently.

“Come here, you,” Max snatched her up into the air and listened to the sounds of her giggling as he rained kisses on her face and her throat.

“What you been eatin?” she pushed his face away and looked at his red lips and red tongue.

“A sno cone,” Max beamed.

“I wanna ‘no cone!” Ellie demanded. She looked around her then and her eyes grew wide. As soon as he saw her, a part of Max’s mind had gone to work, expanding the dream, creating images of people he knew that he wanted Ellie to become familiar with. The magic of the midway expanded too, exploding with color and noise.

“Is dis the carnibal?” Ellie asked excitedly.

“Yes, Ellie,” Max turned in a circle so she could see. “This is the carnival, just for you.”

* * * * *

Time and space shifted and Mary found herself sitting on a bench in the middle of a carnival, just as Jenny had said. The crowd began to thicken and as she looked around, she was certain many of the people appeared familiar. She looked up to see a nice couple walking by arm in arm. His thick wavy hair was dark and just beginning to gray at the temples, and the crook in his nose gave his face character. The raven haired woman beside him must have thought so too, because she certainly looked smitten with her man. Mary was sure she had seen them before, but she wasn’t sure where.

She thought she saw a glimpse of another familiar face, a woman who’s large dark eyes dominated her features, smiling as she looked at something Mary couldn’t quite see. She disappeared into the crowd and Mary got up to follow.

* * * * *

Ellie had her mouth buried in a strawberry sno cone as she walked a few paces in front of her parents, taking it all in. She’d never seen so many bright colors, except maybe the fireworks. They walked through the gaming booths, listening to all the carneys extol the virtue of their game, and Ellie spotted an oversized teddy bear just up ahead.

“I want dat!” she pointed.

“You want that big bear?” Liz laughed. It was bigger than she was!

“Maffew habs one like dat! I want one too!”

“Well, okay then!” Max rolled up his sleeves. After laying down his money, he took the basketball and tried to get it to sail into the basket. It rolled around and around the rim and then fell out. The second shot missed the mark completely. The third shot hit the rim and bounced away. He shot again . . . and again . . .again . . . again . . .

“Daddy,” Ellie wrinkled her nose. “You not berry good at dis.”

Liz laughed and leaned into his ear. “It’s physics, dear, put a little spin on it.”

“Do you think you can do better?” he asked snidely.

Accepting the challenge, Liz took the ball out of his hand and shot a prefect hoop.

“How did you do that?” Max asked in astonishment.

“I played on the basketball team in middle school, remember?” she lifted her head haughtily.

“Right,” Max remembered. “You played until everyone else grew, and you didn’t!”

“Shut up!” Liz elbowed him in the side.

“Mommy!” Ellie was getting impatient. “Are you gonna git me dat bear or not!”

“Coming up, baby,” Liz took the basketball and sailed in two more shots, hitting nothing but net.

* * * * *

Mary’s ears picked up at the sound of a familiar voice. She couldn’t be sure what she was saying, but there was no doubt that the voice belonged to Jenny. A tall young man with long wavy dark blond hair blocked her path, bickering with a woman who stood with her hands on her hips, looking like she wasn’t budging until she got her way.

Mary skirted around them and looked down the midway, trying to find her young charge. Up ahead, she saw a short woman with long dark hair, pushing a stroller. Beside her was a tall young man talking animatedly to the child that walked between them, and for Mary, there was no doubt who the little girl was even from this distance.


Back with the rest in a sec . . .

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 12-Aug-2002 1:57:50 AM ]
posted on 12-Aug-2002 1:22:29 AM by Breathless
Captive Hearts
Part 102 con’t

Max walked into the animal barn with the teddy bear riding high on his shoulders. They passed by cages of mice and rats and then Ellie ran up ahead, attracted to the bunnies. She turned excitedly back to look at Matthew riding in his stroller and exclaimed, “Look! Him looks just like the belbet wabbit!”

Matthew tried to sit up to see but he was still too little for that. Instead, he reached out with his hands and then decided to play with his fingers.

“Bunnies . . . bunnies . . . bunnies,” Ellie said as she walked along the cages and then her eyes grew wide and she exclaimed, “Mr. Wiggles!”

“Mr. Wiggles?” Max echoed and turned to look at Liz. Were they going to learn who Mr. Wiggles was? They hurried to catch up with Ellie and then looked in the cage to see a full grown guinea pig with splotches of color all over his fur. He was sniffing the air and his whiskers were in constant motion.

“Hims Mr. Wiggles!” Ellie exclaimed. “Him awlways tickles me wiff hims nose!”

“He does?” Max and Liz said at the same time and stared into the cage.

While they were absorbed with looking at Mr. Wiggles, Ellie heard a bark and turned to see a puppy running through the barn. A gleeful smile lit her face and she took off running after it, shouting, “King!”

“Ellie?” Max looked up and started to follow her. “Ellie? Where are you going? ELLIE!” He began to chase after her and then stopped to take the teddy bear off his shoulders and give it to Liz. His mind briefly registered the fact that the stuffed animal was almost the same size as her, and then he was chasing after his daughter. “Ellie, honey, come back here!”

Ellie ran around a row of cages and saw the puppy headed right for Mary. He ran around her feet, barking and wagging his tail and then he took off to chase after Smokey. Ellie was giggling and laughing as she ran right up to Mary, and she whispered, “Me can’t talk now! Daddy’s chasin me! Peetend you don’t see me!”

“Jen –”and then a handsome young man ran into view and the child was off again, running and giggling.

“Ellie!” Max ran after her and she screamed as he scooped her off the ground. “There you are!”

Mary watched in astonishment as Jenny threw her small arms around his neck and they hugged affectionately. She’d never seen the child like this before. Never this . . . happy.

She watched them walk away, crossing the barn to join the woman with the stroller and Jenny smiled back at Mary over the young man’s shoulder. She recognized the woman now as the same one she had seen in another dream, in the park with fireworks lighting the sky. Mary decided he must have been the young man that was on the blanket in that dream too, the one she’d only glimpsed from the side. He looked so familiar, and she knew she must have seen him somewhere before, but where?

* * * * *

“What’s dat?” Ellie pointed at an object straight in front of them. “It look so big!”

“That,” Max tapped her on the nose, “is the Ferris Wheel. You want to go for a ride?” He laughed as she began squirming excitedly in his arms and he passed the cotton candy that he and Ellie had been sharing over to Liz.

“Ferrit Wheel! Ferrit Wheel!” Ellie began chanting. Max was about to correct her, and then decided he better not.

“Shall we?” Max turned to Liz with his eyes shining in delight. He’d been waiting to take Ellie on this ride for a long time.

“You take her,” Liz squeezed his arm. “I’ll stay here with Matthew.”

“Are you sure?” Max frowned. “You don’t want to go with us?”

“To tell you the truth, Max, I want to see her face from here. I’ll go on the next ride with her.”

“Okay,” he agreed. He turned to Ellie and said, “C’mon honey, let’s go for a ride.” Max set her on her feet and they headed to the front of the line.

The Ferris Wheel came to a stop and they walked up to the ramp while the attendant held the front edge of the car down with his foot. Ellie gave him the once over, eyeing him closely as she drew near, and then she decided he looked safe. In fact, he looked like her uncle-to-be. She tried to scramble up onto the seat and Max lifted her up and then settled her down beside him. The bar came down to hold them in place and then the car began to rock when Alex stepped aside.

“Ooooooo,” Ellie’s eyes grew wide. “It movin!”

“Just wait!” Max grinned and tucked her close to him. They sat side by side and then the car slowly rose, taking them backwards and up. It stopped to let the next passengers on, and Max turned to Ellie, asking, “Is this fun?”

“I like the ferrit wheel!” Ellie exclaimed.

“Good,” Max laughed happily. The ride rose another notch and then paused again and Max took Ellie’s hand in his, taking this opportunity to really talk to her. “Honey? Is everything okay where you . . . live? Is your other – Daddy – acting . . . normal?”

Ellie looked up at her father’s face and slowly shook her head. “Him’s gone.”

“What?” Max couldn’t hold back the shock. “Gone? Gone where? When?”

“I don know,” Ellie said in a small voice.

“Ellie, please,” his heart was racing in his chest. “This is important. When did he leave?”

“Dis moaning,” Ellie told him.

Thank God, Max thought inwardly. Maybe Johnson didn’t see his face splashed across the evening news. “Where did he go? When is he coming back?”

“I don know,” Ellie lowered her head, hating to disappoint her daddy. “Him said he be gone a fu days.” Looking up at her father she scrunched her nose and asked, “How many is a fu days?”

“I wish I knew,” Max sighed.

“Maybe Mary knows,” Ellie brightened. “Mary knows awl dat stuff.”

Mary. She always talked about Mary, and Max just wished he knew whether he could trust her. He was certain that Ellie loved her, but as far as he knew, Mary could be just as guilty as Johnson. After all, she kept Ellie locked inside that hellhole, just like that bastard Johnson did. She was part of the conspiracy that kept his daughter away from him. So far, he had no reason to trust her, other than the emotions of a little girl who wasn’t even three yet.

“Can you talk to Mary?” Max asked, choosing his words carefully. “Can you ask when Doctor daddy is coming home? I really need to know, honey.”

“Okay,” Ellie nodded. “I ask her in the moaning.”

“Okay,” Max didn’t want to push her. They reached the top of the ride and then started downward and Ellie could just make out her mother, holding up Matthew and waving his little arm for him. As the ride dropped closer to ground level, Ellie lifted her hand and waved, smiling a secretive smile. Mary was just a few feet away from her Mommy and Matthew, and both women thought the child was waving at her.

With all the passengers loaded, the ride kicked in gear and further conversation was halted. Ellie was too absorbed in the new adventure. She could see forever when they were at the height of the ride and then they plummeted to the ground only to start all over again. For a two year old girl, the Ferris Wheel was heady stuff.

The ride finally came to an end, and Ellie turned to her father asking, “More Daddy? Can we go agin?”

“Let’s give Mommy a chance,” Max suggested and Ellie nodded. They climbed from the car when it came to a stop on ground level and Alex’s look alike helped them out. Max was pleased to she Ellie willingly take Alex’s hand to assist her from the ride. She was becoming more comfortable with the people in their dreams, just like they hoped she would. In a few weeks when they went home to Roswell, maybe Ellie would let the real Isabel into her dreams, so she could help them find her.

“Max!” Liz waved at them as he and Ellie exited the car and they moved in her direction. She could see how excited Ellie was by the smile that lit her small face, but then Liz’s jovial countenance disappeared when she took a close look at her husband. As he drew near, she scolded him. “Max! You’re pushing yourself again.”

“Liz . . .” Max tried to deny it, but he knew he was busted.

“I won’t let you do this to yourself, Max,” Liz continued as if he hadn’t said a thing. “End this now, and I won’t make a scene.” She could see the fatigue in his eyes and if he wasn’t going to take care of himself, then she would do it for him.

“Liz . . .”

“NOW, Max!” Liz wasn’t budging.

So this was where Ellie got her stubborn streak, Max stared at her and could only laugh. Ellie was so much like her mother, even though the two had never even held each other in the real world, only experiencing that joy here, in the land of dreams.

“Daddy,” Ellie looked up at him, trying to decide if she should tell him about Mary. Would he be mad? Would he go away again? She was just right over there, watching them, and she really wanted Mary to know that her Daddy was real, not just pretend.

“Baby,” Max squatted in front of his daughter. “We have to go.”

“No, Daddy,” Ellie’s lower lip jutted out. “Don’t go. I not done yet. I wanna tell you ‘bout –”

“You heard Mommy,” Max lamented, “and she’s right. If we leave now, I can come back tomorrow and we can meet in the meadow.”

“Pwomise?” Ellie asked. She could tell him about Mary then.

“I promise,” Max stroked his fingers through her hair.

“Okay,” she was resigned to the dream coming to an end for tonight. After all, there was always tomorrow.

She kissed her father on the cheek and he hugged her tightly before she turned to her mother and kissed her too. She bent over the stroller and smiled down at her brother who had found out just how fascinating his toes were. She kissed him on the forehead and then she stood up and locked her eyes on Mary who was standing just a few feet away.

Max and Liz watched as the air around Ellie shimmered and rippled and then she was gone. Her parting left a hollow spot inside them and they looked around at the carnival that seemed somehow empty now without her here. They held on to each other as their dreamworld ended, forced to be content with the knowledge that tomorrow they would see her again.

Tomorrow . . .

I just want to add this side note that I found rather humorous. I was watching an episode of that new USA show Monk the other night, and the setting was a carnival. Well, someone on the Ferris Wheel was murdered, and throughout the entire show, every time they mentioned ‘Ferris Wheel’, my mind was thinking ‘ferrit wheel’, and picturing Ellie shouting Ferrit wheel! Ferrit wheel! Ferrit wheel! Has this story taken over my life or what?

Oh well, come back on Thursday to see what happens next!

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 17-Aug-2002 3:47:53 AM ]
posted on 16-Aug-2002 12:36:11 AM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17

Captive Hearts
Part 103

Max felt his head throbbing as he bent over to pick up the morning newspaper from the porch. He’d pushed it a little too far last night, and though he wouldn’t admit it to Liz, he was feeling the effects. He could probably use a few more hours sleep, but duty called. A debriefing had been scheduled for this morning and he had to be there.

He walked to the kitchen with the paper in his hand and poured himself a cup of coffee to jump start his morning. He angled over toward Liz, who was in the process of pouring pancake batter on the griddle, slipped his arm around her waist and nuzzled against her ear.

“Morning beautiful,” he kissed her throat.

“Morning my Prince,” Liz teased him, and then turned around in his arms for a proper kiss. She looked him over, taking in his green dress shirt and matching tie and asked, “What? No purple today?”

“Very funny,” Max dropped his hands to her backside and pulled her body flush to his. Sometimes, when bad things happened, it was good to find some point of humor in it, to take the edge off. To cope. They’d both done their share of coping over the last few years. “Besides," he kissed her lips, “I wasn’t a Prince. I was King-for-a-Day.”

“And now you’re back to being just little old alien Max,” Liz kissed him one last time and then turned back to finish making his breakfast before it burned.

“Thank God,” Max headed over to the table with his coffee. “Now maybe things can settle down – oh shit!”

“What?” Liz whipped her head in his direction with concern slamming into her. He was staring down at the newspaper that was lying open on the table and she hurried over to see what he was looking at. As she neared, a sinking feeling came over her when she saw the front page of the Phoenix Sun. In muted colors, Max’s image stared up at them in surprising detail, under the headline:


They stood in stunned silence, reading the article and then turning to the back page to see even more pictures. Max with Burger Palace bags in his arms, going inside the daycare. Swat teams surrounding the building. Carol being assisted out of the building by four small children. Twin girls running out the door and then being engulfed in the arms of their parents. A four year old girl running for her life. Max coming out of the daycare with three small boys clinging to him. Ronald Kane being led away in handcuffs.

Max touched his fingers to the last picture on the page. His eyes were closed in the photo and he remembered how it felt, holding Liz after the ordeal was over. They’d held each other tightly, Liz with her arms around his back and Max with one hand buried in her hair while they blocked out everything that was going on around them.

When he’d first made the suggestion to Carl that he be the one to go in there, it never occurred to Max that it might come to this. At the time, it was only the kids inside that daycare center that had concerned him. It showed how far he’d come from the boy he once was, who had shied away from any type of exposure for fear of how it would affect him. He hadn’t even thought about himself at the time.

Turning his eyes to Liz, he said what they both were thinking. “Johnson might not have been in town to see it on TV yesterday, but the newspaper’s a different matter.” Stunned into silence, Max looked at the paper again and then finally said, “I better go talk to Carl.”

* * * * *

Johnson opened the door of his hotel room ready to head out for his meeting with Benjamin Hunter, Director of the Pacifica Research Group. A complimentary copy of USA Today lay at his feet and he bent over to pick it up. He folded it over and tucked it under his arm, thinking that it would give him something to read in the cab ride across town, or maybe later.

Looking at his watch, he decided it was probably too early to give Mary a call. He’d wait until later, maybe before lunch. He pushed through the doors in the lobby of the hotel and stepped out into the cool San Francisco morning air, looking for a cab to take him to the appointment that he hoped was going to open up a new life for him and Jenny.

* * * * *

Mary turned over in bed and beneath her eyelids she registered the fact that the room was filled with light. Even still partially asleep, she knew it wasn’t sunlight. Sunlight would never grace these rooms, not buried here two floors below ground level. She stretched and her eyes fluttered open, and then flew wide when she saw the face hovering over her. Her hand flew up to her throat in sudden fright, and then she began to laugh at her reaction.

“Moening,” Ellie smiled down into Mary’s face.

“Good morning!” Mary ruffled Ellie’s hair. Her heart rate was slowly returning to normal and she pushed herself up into a sitting position. “You’re up early!”

“I not sleepy no more!” Ellie informed Mary and then stood up and began to jump on the bed. “Time . . . to . . . git . . . up!” Ellie announced each word as her feet hit the mattress and then she rebounded into the air. “Time . . . to . . . git . . . up . . . time . . . to . . . git –”

“Jenny!” Mary laughed and then warned, “Don’t jump on the bed. You’ll fall and get hurt.”

“No I not,” Ellie bounced some more.

“Let’s go make breakfast,” Mary smiled and Ellie scrambled off the bed, racing toward the kitchen. Mary followed at a slower pace, wondering how kids got so much energy.

* * * * *

Max arrived at the precinct thinking about the dream they’d shared last night with Ellie. He thanked God that Johnson wasn’t in town yesterday to see the news broadcasts, but he was getting more and more worried about the newspaper. Ellie had told him in the past that there weren’t any in the place she lived, when he showed her what one looked like she’d never seen one before, but that didn’t mean that Johnson didn’t read them.

He was so deep in thought it took him a moment to realize he had become the center of attention. His pace slowed and then faltered as police officers and secretaries and people he was sure he didn’t even know began applauding him. The blood rushed out of his face under their scrutiny as he looked all around him in surprise. He wasn’t used to being the center of attention.

As he walked toward the hallway to the squad room a line formed on either side of him and he was hailed with accolades. Hands were thrust into his, to shake the hand of the man who had done their department proud, along with words like “You did good,” and “We’re proud of you,” and “Well done.”

He was left speechless by the well wishes of his compatriots and he couldn’t help the smile that was glued to his face as he finally entered the squad room and he came face to face with Carl. He older man rose from his desk and clamped a hand on Max’s shoulder and asked, “How’re you doing this morning?”

“Fine,” Max smiled, even though he was feeling a little overwhelmed. “I’m good.”

“I imagine you saw the headlines in this mornings paper?” he asked.

“Yeah,” the smile disappeared from his face. “I want to talk to you about that.”

“I’m all yours,” Carl crossed his arms over his chest and sat on the edge of his desk.

“Well, as you know,” Max started, slipping one hand into his pant pocket and absently touched Carl’s desktop with the other. “I’ve avoided publicity all my life . . .”

Carl nodded and silently listened. Now he understood why Max had handed Cindy Morgan over to him after the rescue at Coyote Canyon Park. Why he had stayed in the background when the press was swarming around the scene. Some men were publicity hounds, enjoying being in the limelight that followed a high profile case, but not Max. He had too many secrets to hide, secrets that Carl now understood. He would do whatever was in his power to make sure his young partner’s secrets remained just that.

“Last night when I got home, looking at the news broadcasts was quite a shock.” He gave a little shrug and went on, “I never thought about the publicity. I just wanted to help get those kids out alive. But . . .”

“Now you’re worried that Johnson saw you yesterday,” Carl finished for him.

“I was, yes, but after the dream last night with Ellie, that worry abated a little. Ellie said that Johnson is gone right now. She doesn’t know where he went, but he left yesterday morning and she thinks he’ll be back in a few days. The story might be old news by then, at least on the TV, but I’m worried about the paper. My picture’s all over it. Liz’s picture is on the back page, too. What if . . .” he left it hanging. Carl knew what his fears were.

“Wait a minute,” Carl grabbed onto something he’d said. “Johnson is gone? Out of town?”

“That’s what Ellie said,” Max nodded.

“But you don’t know where? Or how he got where he was going?”

“No,” Max shook his head this time. “I asked her to talk to Mary, to find out where he went, but she has to be careful. I still don’t know if this Mary is in on everything. I mean,” Max drew his hand nervously through his hair. “The way Ellie talks about her, Mary means the world to her, but if Mary is working for Johnson, how can I trust her? She might be a part of this whole thing.”

“I understand your caution,” Carl agreed. “But this might be something to go on. Did he drive somewhere? Or did he fly? Or take the train?”

“I don’t know,” Max rubbed his hand across his face.

“If it was close, he probably drove, and there won’t be anything we can trace,” Carl’s mind went to work. “But, if he flew, there might be something . . .”

“What?” Max was ready to latch onto anything. Anything at all.

“If he flew, he might have driven his own car to the airport, or had a friend take him –”

‘That man couldn’t possibly have any friends,” Max spit out venomously.

“He might have taken a cab, too,” Carl suggested. “Cabs keep records. Pick-ups and drop-offs. Records can be traced. I wonder how many cabs had airport destinations yesterday morning?”

“Do you think . . . ?” Max stared at Carl, almost afraid to think this might be an actual possibility to find the bastard that stole his daughter.

“Let’s find out,” Carl smiled. Max could feel his heartbeat quickening and he forced himself to calm down. It was too soon to get his hopes up. The phone rang just as Carl reached for it and his eyes darted to Max as he listened. He looked resigned to what was being said on the other end of the line and Max heard him say, “Today? At noon? . . . Here? . . . yes . . . yes . . . Does he have – . . . Do they expect him to – . . . Is he going to have to answer questions? . . . Chief, he’s not even . . . I understand that . . . yes . . . of course, but – . . . but I have experience with this and he doesn’t . . . yes, I know . . . I understand that . . .”

Carl wasn’t very good at hiding his irritation and Max wondered what could possibly be riling him up. He was about to find out.

“Shit,” Carl announced as he hung up the phone.

“What?” Max couldn’t be sure, but he was afraid that phone call had something to do with him.

“The Mayor has called a press conference for today at noon,” Carl sighed.

“A . . press . . . conference?” Max swallowed. “Is this because of . . .” yesterday?

“I’m sorry Max. I tried to get you out of it, but the Mayor insists you be there. You’re the hero, the one the press wants to see.”

“But Carl,” the color drained from Max’s face. “I can’t. I . . . can’t.”

Carl rose to his feet and squeezed his young partner on the arm. “You don’t have a choice.” Max stood there, not moving, unable to speak, thinking about more publicity and what that would mean, until Carl turned back to the phone. “Let’s get cracking on those cab companies. Maybe we’ll get a lead on something.”

Max turned his thoughts to the matter at hand, and tried not to think about what the rest of the day would hold. He pulled the phone book out of a desk drawer and began looking for the numbers of taxicab companies in and around the Phoenix area. He let out a long breath when he opened to the page and saw how many were listed. This was going to take awhile.

* * * * *

“Are you finished with your lunch, dear?” Mary came up beside Ellie and looked over her shoulder. The child had been drawing all morning and Mary hadn’t been able to get her to put it away, not even to eat her sandwich.

“Awlmost,” Ellie took a final bite and licked at the jam near the corner of her mouth.

“What have you got there, Jenny?” Mary stared at the tablet.

“The carnibal,” Ellie answered and smiled up at Mary. “See?” she pointed, “dis is the ferrit wheel, and we got the ‘no cones here, and dis is the bear mommy got me, and dis is where the bunnies are! Did you like the bunnies, Mary?”

“The . . .” Mary looked at her in astonishment. The bunnies? The Ferris Wheel? The giant teddy bear that rode on the shoulders of a handsome young man? Jenny sounded like she was describing the dream she had last night, but . . . how was that possible?

“I sorry me couldn’t pway wiff you. Daddy doesn’t know you yet.” Ellie looked up at Mary and asked hopefully, “Did you like my Daddy?”

“Your . . .” Mary took a seat across the table from Ellie, having a hard time taking in what the child was saying.

“I fink my Daddy will like you, but I don wanna scare him away. Dat’s why I didn’t pway wiff you. Are you mad at me?”

“Mad at you?” Mary couldn’t think of what to say.

“Did you see me wabe at you from the ferrit wheel? Daddy tought I was wabing at Mommy. Do you want to meet Mommy and Daddy next time?” Ellie looked up at Mary expectantly, but Mary was only blinking back. When she didn’t answer, Ellie closed the cover on her drawing tablet and announced, “I put dis away now.” She climbed down from the chair and gathered her things together and headed toward her bedroom. Maybe she and Mary could play a game before naptime.

Mary’s thoughts were in turmoil as she watched the child walk away and then she slowly opened her mouth and said, “Ellie . . .?”

* * * * *

Max stood behind the podium in the conference room, looking decidedly uncomfortable while the Mayor answered questions from the members of the press who were seated on folding chairs. He had been praising the department’s handling of the events at the daycare, and Max in particular.

Feeling like he was display, Max couldn’t wait until this was over.

“How would you assess the department’s response to this crisis?” one reporter asked.

“I think the department did an outstanding job,” the Mayor beamed. “The crisis team was in place within minutes of the first phone call coming in. And obviously, we couldn’t have asked for a better outcome.”

“Mr. Mayor,” another reporter raised her voice to go next. “How long has Det. Evans been on the force?” Max felt the color drain out of his face again. Was this ever going to end?

“He joined the department in January of this year,” the Mayor said after consulting his notes.

“Isn’t he awfully young to be a Detective?” she pressed for more information. The blood that had drained out of Max’s face a minute ago was now rushing back with a vengeance. He just wanted to go hide.

“Well . . . yes,” the Mayor hedged and Carl stepped forward.

“Det. Evans entered the unit under a special training program under my direction,” Carl spoke clearly and precisely into the microphone. He’d done this before and his experience was evident. “Obviously, after yesterday’s events, you can see why we were so eager to have him as a part of the team, despite his age.”

“Under your direction?” another reporter picked up the line of questioning. “Would you call him your protégé?”

Carl darted a look over to Max and the two of them shared a smile. Turning back to the throng of reporters, Carl said, “Max is my partner. Pure and simple. Next question.”

“Rumor has it Ronald Kane is ranting in his jail cell about a mysterious blue light, and that the light was controlling him. Any basis for that?”

Carl kept his eyes leveled on the reporter as he answered in a calm and controlled voice. “Ronald Kane is accused of viciously murdering his former wife, her mother, took a day care center full of children hostage and showed a willingness to take their lives as well. Claiming blue lights made him do it is probably his best defense at the moment. An insanity plea is probably the only thing that will keep him off death row.”

Max let out a controlled breath at the skill Carl used in answering the reporter’s questions. Kane was the only one who had clearly seen what Max had done to end the siege. Manuel had been cowering next to his side, hiding his face when Kane grabbed Bobby and threw him to the ground. Bobby had his face pressed against the floor, with the barrel of the rifle touching the back of his head. He’d been too scared to know what was happening. Ryan had been hiding behind his hands, praying to God that his father wasn’t going to kill one of his friends. He hadn’t opened his eyes until he felt the rifle hit the floor next to him.

None of the boys had seen enough to know what had really happened. All they knew was that the guy in the Burger Palace uniform had come to their rescue and saved their lives.

Deep in the cells, no one was giving credence to the ravings of a murderer, saying blue lights were to blame.

“A question for Det. Evans . . .” a reporter asked and all eyes turned to Max. He felt like he was wilting under the scrutiny of their gaze and then he saw Carl motion him over. Reluctantly, he crossed over to the podium and joined his partner, looking like a lamb being lead to slaughter.

“Det. Evans, is it true that you volunteered to go into the daycare center?”

Max leaned into the microphone and said, “Yes.”

“You knew that Ronald Kane was heavily armed?”

Max leaned forward again and concentrated on the mic. “Yes.”

“In fact, it was your idea to go in dressed as a Burger Palace employee, was it not?”

“Yes,” Max answered again and then winced when the room filled with the whine of feedback.

“What was it like when you got inside?” another question was asked.

“Um . . . scary,” Max answered and then turned to Carl with a ‘help me!’ look on his face. He hadn’t quite decided which was worse, yesterday, or living through this press conference.

“As I said,” Carl joked to the reporters, “Max is in the CVU Training Program, but he hasn’t studied Press Conferences 101, yet.” The room filled with laughter and Max visibly relaxed, with an embarrassed look on his face.

“What did you see first?” a reporter in the front asked.

“I saw the kids first,” Max answered and his voice was soft with remembrance. “They were scared. Really scared. But they were being brave. Manuel Hernandez was trying very hard to protect his little sister, and Bobby Hitchner was trying to take care of Carol Wilson, the school employee who was injured.” Max looked down at the boys who were sitting with their parents in the front row and smiled at them. “These two guys are a couple of the bravest boys I’ve ever met . . .”

Carl stepped back to allow Max the acclaim that he deserved. His voice enthralled the audience as he related what he could, holding back anything that might hamper the case, or reveal any of his carefully kept secrets. His words showed his intelligence and his compassion and within minutes he had the reporters ready to eat out of his hand. Carl had never been more proud of anyone in his life.

* * * * *

Ellie stopped in mid step and turned around to look at Mary. Had she heard right? Had Mary called her Ellie? A smile lit her face and her heart swelled with happiness.

“Ellie?” Mary repeated, still not believing any of this could be real. It was just a figment of the child’s imagination, a dream . . . that she had somehow . . . shared . . .

“Mary,” Ellie said excitedly. “You cawled me by my –”

The phone rang loudly and startled them both. Mary looked from the child, to the phone and back to the child, before rising from the table and answering it on the fourth ring. A familiar voice sounded in her ear and her face fell at the words.

“Miss Connor?” the nurse said. “Mary?”

“Yes?” Mary answered, still looking at Ellie.

“I have some bad news, I’m afraid. Martha has taken a turn for the worse.”

“Martha?” Mary gripped the phone tighter.

“Yes, Mary. I’m sorry to have to tell you this way, but it appears she suffered another stroke this morning. She’s non-responsive at this time. We thought you might want to come down . . .”

“Come down . . .” Mary was trying to process what she heard. Come down? To the nursing home? So she could be there . . . when . . . Martha . . . “Oh.”

“Mary? Are you alright Mary? I know this is difficult, and it’s not easy for you to get away.”

“I’ll, um,” Mary blinked back the tears. Martha would want her to be strong. “I’ll find a way to be there . . . somehow . . .”

“Okay, Mary. Let us know if we can help,” the nurse offered. Everyone at the home loved Mary.

“Thank you, Sally,” Mary slowly hung up.

“Mary? Is somefing wong?” Ellie could feel the change in the air.

“Wrong?” Mary shook her head as she tried to absorb it. What was she going to do now? How could she leave? The Doctor was gone and not due back until tomorrow. She couldn’t leave Jenny here all alone, but she couldn’t take the child with her either, not to the nursing home, not outside. Even if she bundled her up carefully, the risk was just too great. Sunlight would be a death sentence for her.

“Mary?” Ellie walked up to her and laid her hand on the older woman’s leg. “What wong?”

“It’s Martha,” Mary swallowed hard. “Martha’s sick.”

“You wanna go see her?” Ellie asked innocently. “Me can go wiff you.”

“No, Jenny, you can’t go. You have to stay here . . . but . . .” maybe there was a way. “Come, dear,” Mary held out her hand. She grabbed her sweater and her purse and headed through the living room toward the door to the apartment.

Ellie felt bad for Mary, she knew how much Mary loved her sister, but she couldn’t help feeling a little excited too. Mary was taking her toward the front door. Was she finally going to get to see Outside? The place everybody but her was allowed to see?

What would it be like out there? And would Daddy be there too, waiting for her?

Come back on Sunday to see what happens next!

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 16-Aug-2002 12:59:54 AM ]
posted on 19-Aug-2002 12:51:56 AM by Breathless
Author: Debbi aka Breathless
Category: Max and Liz
Rating: PG 13 to NC 17

Author Note: Thanks for all the bumps everyone!

Many of you feel things are heating up, that things are finally happening, and you are so very right! Let’s get right to it. PS. Mary really isn’t dense. She’s a very trusting woman, good through and through, and who could believe something as outlandish as what her recent dreams are trying to tell her? Will she realize the truth in time, or will she become another victim?

I should probably post this in two parts due to length, but I don’t want to.

Captive Hearts
Part 104

Johnson entered the restaurant after the lunch crowd had begun to dissipate and he was seated quickly. His morning meeting had gone well, even better than expected, and he was certain Dr. Hunter had been favorably impressed with his credentials. In fact, he wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Hunter made a formal offer before his return flight tomorrow.

Relaxing over a steaming cup of coffee, he opened the newspaper he had picked up this morning outside his hotel room. He scanned the front page and then leisurely turned to the inside, turning page after page, looking at the pictures and skimming over the headlines. He was almost through the first section when his eyes suddenly froze, staring at a picture near the bottom of the page. The face that looked up at him made his blood run cold.

His hand began to shake as he read the caption under the photo and then the article that accompanied it.

Det. Max Evans, member of the Children Victims Unit of the Phoenix Police Department, was instrumental in ending a twelve hour siege at the Sunrise Preschool . . .

“Oh fuck,” Johnson hissed as he read through the article. Did that fucking monster follow him everywhere? Hero? The paper called him a hero? Where they all fucking nuts? Max Evans was a fucking alien, a murdering monster, not a fucking hero. Couldn’t they see that?

He looked at the hated face in the grainy photo again and he took it as a signal, a sign, that the time to act was now. Max Evans had worked his way into a position of authority as a member of the Phoenix Police Department. Johnson had to get Jenny out of there now.

Away from Phoenix. Away from Arizona. Away from Max Evans.

He pushed away from the table and hurried to the bank of phones near the restrooms. Thumbing through the phonebook, he found the number for the airlines and quickly made the call.

“Yeah,” he spoke urgently into the phone. “When’s the next available flight to Phoenix?”

* * * * *

“God! I’m so glad that’s over!” Max tugged at his tie as they headed back to the squad room. That press conference had been one of the longest hours of his life.

“You did good,” Carl assured him.

“I sucked!” Max shook his head and cringed inwardly.

“No,” Carl said with sincerity. “You actually did quite well. I wouldn’t lie to you. You did the department proud.”

Their eyes met and for the first time since the press conference started, Max really smiled. “Thanks.”

“You’re entirely welcome,” Carl nodded.

“Det. Evans . . .” a hesitant voice said from behind him and Max stopped and quickly turned around. He was still getting used to being called a detective, even thought technically he was only a trainee, and his eyes fell on the familiar faces.

“Mrs. Hitchner! Bobby! Hi!” Max smiled broadly. “I thought you had left already.”

“I just . . .” Sandy smiled and tried to keep her voice steady. “I wanted to thank you, for what you did yesterday.” She wrapped her arm around her son and tousled his hair with her hand. “Thanks to you, I still have my son.”

“And he’s a fine boy,” Max walked back to her and gave Bobby a gentle nudge on the chin with his fist. “One of the bravest young men I’ve ever seen,” he smiled and Bobby’s face broke out in a huge grin.

“We don’t want to interrupt, I know you’re busy . . .”

“No, it’s fine,” Max motioned for her not to worry.

“Thank you, Det. Evans, Det. Montoya.” She sounded a little nervous and she looked like she was trying not to wring her hands. “Bobby and I just wanted to come by and thank you again –”

“Please, my name’s Max.” He dropped his eyes to the boy again and said, “Bobby and I have been through a lot together. I think we’re entitled to being on a first name basis, right Bobby?”

“Right, Max,” Bobby beamed up at him.

“You want a tour of the place?” Max asked and was delighted to see the boy eagerly respond. He’d lived through a horrible experience yesterday but he looked like he was going to be alright. Max looked up at Bobby’s mother seeking her approval and she nodded.

“Yes, of course. I think Bobby would love that,” Sandy smiled.

“Good,” Max nodded and moved off down the hall with Bobby, showing him into a real police squad room. Bobby slipped his small hand into Max’s large one and looked up at him as if he were one step away from God. Max showed him around the squad room, finally coming to a stop in front of the board filled with the names of cases they were working on.

“See there?” he pointed at a name. “When it’s in green, it means it’s still active. We’re working on it. When the name is written in black, it means the case is closed.” His eyes swept over the board, coming to rest on Ellie’s name, hoping that someday her name would be in black letters too.

“Do you have a desk in here too?” Bobby looked around the room.

“That one right there,” Max pointed toward the wall. They walked over to it and Bobby looked at the pictures that prominently filled one corner.

“Is that your girlfriend?” Bobby eyed the picture of Liz.

“Yeah,” Max smiled. “She’s my wife, too.”

“You’re married?” Bobby looked up at him in surprise.

“Yep,” Max nodded. “Here’s a picture of my son. He’s just a little over a month old.”

“Oh,” Bobby couldn’t hide his surprise. Max didn’t look old enough to be married, and have kids too. His eyes looked over the desk again and then he pointed at a drawing next to the photos. His eyes were riveted to it. “Who’s that?”

Max picked up the drawing and touched it reverently. “This is my daughter.” He stared at it for a moment and then slowly put it back. “Maybe someday you’ll get to meet her.”

“Okay,” Bobby stared at the picture, wondering why Max looked so sad now.

“Hey,” Max shook off the gloom, “do you want to see what a real jail cell looks like?”

“Yeah!” Bobby said excitedly.

“C’mon,” Max took the boy’s hand again and they walked toward the door. As they neared Carl and Mrs. Hitchner, Max smiled and said, “We’ll be back in a minute!”

Sandy watched Max and Bobby walk down the hallway, marveling at how young the detective looked, but how old he acted. Old beyond his years. “Bobby has been talking about Max non-stop all day long,” Sandy told Carl. “He even said he wants to be just like Max when he grows up.”

“Max is a good man,” Carl assured her. “I can’t think of a better person for Bobby to want to emulate.” Carl leveled his gaze at her and said, “I can’t release details of what happened yesterday, not while the case is still active, but I can tell you this. Your son was damn lucky that Max Evans was the one that walked into that day care yesterday. He’s probably why your son is alive today.”

* * * * *

Max crossed over to his chair and draped his jacket over the back of it. He’d had fun showing Bobby around the precinct and watching the boys face as he took it all in. He was glad Bobby was coping so well with the traumatic events that happened yesterday. No kid should ever have to live through that, but Bobby was going to be just fine.

Carl set aside the file he was working on and faced his young partner. “Max, I’ve been thinking about what you said yesterday. About you thinking there’s something in the dreams that you’re missing.”

“Yeah?” Max glanced over at him, eager to hear what he had to say.

“Well, to tell you the truth,” Carl shrugged self-consciously, “this kind of ‘psychic’ investigation is a little out of my league.”

“Psychic investigation?” Max gaped at him.

“These dreams of yours,” Carl tried to explain. “I deal in facts. Hard, cold facts. But this is a whole ‘nother ball game. Maybe you need a doctor or something to analyze the dreams.”

“I can’t exactly do that,” Max sagged. “I can’t say, ‘Hey Doc, I’m an alien and my half alien daughter was kidnapped, but we share these dreams.’ I’d get locked up for sure.”

“Right,” Carl fretted. “You’re right. Well, all I can tell you is, look for the smallest thing that seems out of place. Listen to what your senses are telling you. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t, even though your eyes might be telling you it looks perfectly fine. Listen to your inner voice. Sometimes the smallest clue is the key to discovering the entire truth. Like a loose thread on a sweater, when you pull it the whole thing starts to unravel.”

“Something out of place, huh?” Max mulled that over.

“It could be as simple as the wrong type of clothes for the weather, or inappropriate behavior. Look for something that’s missing, or something that is there, that shouldn’t be. And then ask yourself, why is it there? How did it get there?”

“Okay,” Max nodded, deep in thought. Look for something out of place. But what could be out of place in the meadow? There was only grass and trees and the stream that ran through it. He felt that tickle in the back of his mind again, the one that kept telling him the answer was right there, but it just wouldn’t come.

“Hey,” Carl squeezed Max’s shoulder, anxious to jump back into the kind of police work he could dig into. “Let’s see if those reports from the cab company’s are back yet . . .”

* * * * *

Mary walked down the hallway holding Ellie’s hand in hers until she reached the outer door to the lab, and Ellie looked up at her with a sense of disappointment that Mary wasn’t taking her Outside after all. She stood quietly while Mary entered in her security code in the panel and then the door opened and they went inside. Ellie had been here many times, but Mary hadn’t and she was a little over awed by the place.

“Hello?” Mary called out. She knew she wasn’t supposed to be here, but what other choice did she have? Martha needed her, and Jenny couldn’t come with her. She just hoped the Doctor wouldn’t become angry with her for disturbing his assistant when their work was at a crucial stage.

“Hello?” Mary called out again. “Tracy? Are you here?”

Ellie tugged on Mary’s skirt and asked timidly, “Who Twacy?”

“She works with your Daddy,” Mary looked down at the child and tried to explain.

“She do?” Ellie crinkled her nose. She didn’t know any Tracy.

“Yes,” Mary said distractedly. “I hope she’s here.”

Just then, Ellie saw a young woman dressed in a long white lab coat step through the door that led into the animal holding area. Ellie’s eyes opened wider, recognizing her from the dream last night. She’d gotten on the Ferris Wheel right after her and daddy and she’d been all silly with a man daddy knew from his work.

“Mary, right?” Tracy asked as she stepped into the room. Her eyes dropped down to the small child beside her and she wondered who she was. She was the cutest little thing!

“Tracy, yes,” Mary stumbled over her words. “I’m sorry to disturb you. I know your work is at a critical –”

“You’re not disturbing me,” Tracy assured her. “Actually, I’m just kind of waiting for some test results right now. Trying to kill some time.”

“Really?” Mary felt somewhat better. Maybe she wouldn’t be imposing after all.

“What’s up?” Tracy asked innocently.

“Well, I’m afraid I got some bad news from the nursing home about my sister. She’s taken a turn for the worse, and they’ve advised me I should come right away, but of course I can’t take Jenny, and with the Doctor being out of town and all, you’re my only option. Is there any chance that I could leave her with you for a little while? I don’t know how long I need to be gone. Maybe an hour, maybe two. I don’t know what kind of shape Martha is in. They said I should come . . .”

“You want me to babysit?” Tracy raised her eyebrows in surprise.

“I know it’s an imposition, and you have important work you’re doing –”

“Who is she?” Tracy interrupted and pointed at the child. Couldn’t her mother take care of her?

“Jenny?” Mary had her hand on the child’s shoulder. Tracy didn’t know anything about Jenny? Hadn’t the Doctor ever mentioned her? Tracy had been here for a couple of weeks now, and she found it hard to believe the good Doctor had never mentioned his own daughter before.

“Jenny?” Tracy repeated and knelt down before the child. “Hi Jenny. I’m Tracy.”

“Hi,” Ellie answered back and pressed against Mary’s leg.

“Who is she?” Tracy asked again and looked up at Mary. “Your granddaughter?”

“No,” Mary frowned uncertainly. “She’s the Doctor’s child.”

“Oh!” Tracy said in surprise. “Wow, I didn’t know he had any children so young. I guess I figured if he had any kids they’d be grown and gone already.”

“No,” Mary was just as surprised by this as Tracy. The Doctor had never mentioned his daughter? “Just Jenny . . .”

“I’d be happy to watch her for you,” Tracy said and reached out to touch the child’s arm, “as long as Jenny doesn’t mind.”

“Jenny?” Mary asked for her attention. “Will you stay with Tracy for awhile, so I can go see Martha?”

“Okay,” Ellie nodded her head. She wasn’t afraid of Tracy. Daddy had said that the people in the dreams were people she could trust. She slipped her small hand into the young woman’s, and moved away from Mary.

“Thank you,” Mary sighed with relief. “I’ll hurry back, just as soon as I can.”

“Take whatever time you need,” Tracy assured her. “I’ll be here all afternoon.”

“Thank you,” Mary said again and gave Jenny a kiss before she headed out of the room. It was going to be a long bus ride to the nursing home. Ellie watched her go hoping Martha would be alright, so that Mary wouldn’t have to be so sad.

* * * * *

“So it looks like the cabs in this city had a busy morning yesterday,” Carl looked over the reports on his desk. “Between the city cabs, limousine services and airport shuttles, there were over 300 reported trips to the airport between the hours of 4:00 and 10:00 am.”

“Shit,” Max mumbled under his breath. That was a lot. He shifted uncomfortable, leaning over Carl’s desk and looking at the stacks of paper.

“Well,” Carl gave an encouraging look to his friend. “It’s not as bad as you might think. There was some big to-do going on over at the Convention Center which accounted for a lot of it. I think we can safely rule out trips from hotels. If we eliminate those . . . let’s see . . . that brings the total down to . . . 52 in the greater Phoenix area. ”

“52?” Max said uncertainly. That still sounded like a lot.

“It’s better than 300,” Carl said undaunted.

“Yeah,” Max nodded. “You’re right about that.”

“Pull up a chair,” Carl smiled and watched Max retrieve his chair and roll it across the room. Not all police work involved stakeouts or sieges or shootouts. Sometimes cases were solved by scouring through the details with a fine tooth comb. Max settled down next to him and Carl became the teacher and Max the eager student.

“Now, most of these are pre-arranged pick-ups.” Carl saw the questioning look in Max’s eyes and he elaborated. “They called ahead of time to schedule a pick-up. They