posted on 22-Sep-2001 9:31:41 PM by Tasyfa
NOTE: All chapters can be found on the Fanfic Award Winners board.*happy* Also, I've finally found somewhere to host my banner!
FLBcovertasyfa2-vi
Banner created by Electro-Kat.

Part 39-----page 44-----Jan. 1/03

Part 38-----page 42-----Dec. 15/02

Part 37-----page 39-----Nov. 11/02

Author's Note on page 38 (Nov. 5/02)

Part 36-----page 32-----August 1/02

Part 35-----page 28-----June 28/02

Part 34-----page 26-----June 25/02

Author's Note on page 23 (May 7/02)

Part 33-----page 20-----May 2/02

Author's Note on page 20 (April 27/02)

Part 32-----page 16-----March 10/02

Part 31-----page 13-----Feb. 25/02

Author's Note on page 13

Part 30-----page 10-----Feb. 7/02

Part 29-----page 7-----Jan. 23/02




TITLE: The Forging of a Lifebond
AUTHOR: Tasyfa
E-MAIL: tasyfa⊕yahoo.com
DISCLAIMER: I own no rights, nor did I intend any copyright infringement.
CATEGORY: Max/Liz + conventional couples
RATING: NC-17
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Whew, it's been a while! My stupid puter's not quite out of the woods yet, but at least I can post here again *smile*
Parts 1-27 of this fic are at the Boardello--I can't get the link to work up here, but it's down at the bottom of this post and that one works! {scratching head smilie}
http://pub44.ezboard.com/fthespoilerslutsfanficwhorehousefrm10.showMessage?topicID=216.topic

I've reposted part 27 in its entirety, purely for fun!*wink* Thanks for sticking with me, everyone.*big*
~Tas

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
PART 27

Max looked from Liz's abdomen to her face and back again. He ran trembling fingers over her skin, but the glow was gone momentarily. Outwardly at least, all appeared normal. On the inside, it was a whole other story.

Liz brushed the damp hair off Max's forehead, smiling tenderly at his stunned expression. She knew that she must look much the same, but in these gentle after moments Vordatha's words floated back to her: Vilandra's procedure shall hold. She was fiercely glad that Isabel had performed it for her, her relief nearly overwhelming and yet…there was a thread of regret, too; of sorrow. To have been conceived from this experience would have been a tremendous beginning for a child—a royal heir, but she knew they were not ready for that. Not now, not yet.

Max pressed a light kiss to her lips and withdrew, slipping down her body to lay his head on her stomach. Liz giggled and he smiled, kissing her taut belly.

"There'll be other times," he murmured, and she caught the same blend of relief and regret in his voice. His smile broadened. "I think we need to get Iz something expensive."

"In lieu of being able to use her "Get Out of Babysitting" card?" Liz laughed. Max nodded, grinning, and crawled back up to lie even with her, pulling Liz against his side. She curled into him, resting her head on his shoulder as his arm came up to cradle her.

"I think waiting for safe privacy was definitely the right decision," Max thought out loud. "I knew something was going to be different, but that, that was…impossible to describe."

"Mmm-hmm," Liz agreed. "It's a good thing we weren't relying on a condom, because I don't think it would have stayed intact."

"Yeah. If it hadn't seemed so—natural, so much like that was what was supposed to happen, it, uh, it might be kind of embarrassing," he admitted with a smile.

"Actually, I have a theory about that," Liz said, grinning when she heard Max snort.

"All right, Miss Scientist, let's hear it," he teased. Liz sat up, turning herself so that she was sitting near the edge of the bed, facing Max. He placed one arm on the pillow underneath his head to prop it up further and looked at her, a smile playing around his lips. Liz wrinkled her nose at him and his lips stretched into a full-blown smile. Innocently enough Liz took his free hand, holding it loosely as she glanced at the swirling silver on his skin.

"The ceremony is also for couples that are marrying for political reasons, and so may not necessarily desire each other," Liz said matter-of-factly, beginning her explanation. Max's smile was indulgent until she lightly touched a single fingertip to his palm, tracing the symbol there with the barest amount of pressure.

Max sucked in a breath, caught off-guard by the lust that shot through his body from the feathery caress. He noted the curious expression on Liz's face as she watched his anatomy rearrange itself, stiffening in response to her stimulus right before her eyes, but even her somewhat intense concentration did not embarrass him. He was too focused on feeling the results of her touch.

"So it only makes sense that they would build in some fail-safes," Liz continued, her tone unchanged. "Increasing the probability of pregnancy for the first time the couple makes love is one such device." Liz kept stroking Max's palm, using her fingernail now to lightly scrape across his skin. Every pass over the symbol caused an indrawn breath, a quiet moan from Max. He lay in helpless thrall to the desire she was invoking; desire that was rapidly transforming into need.

"Another such device is these symbols, Max. These brands. When we touch each other's palms, it awakens our bodies, makes us want each other. Now, you and I don't need help with that," Liz suddenly scratched hard across the symbol and Max arched, throwing his head back with a low groan. The storm she was creating inside him allowed him only to react as it built to massive proportions; to the breaking point.

"But other couples do, and we can reap the same benefits. Besides," she paused, waiting for him to look at her. As her words and the silence following them sunk in, Max turned his head, seeking her face. Liz's breath stuttered in her lungs at the feral look in his eyes and she felt a flood of moisture between her thighs. But she was determined to finish what she was saying, to make her point.

"Besides," she said breathlessly, "I love driving you crazy." She kept eye contact with Max as she lifted his hand to her mouth, her pink tongue stealing out and reaching for the silver mark.

The instant her tongue made contact Max was lost. He let out a growl and lunged, his athletic body in swift, decisive motion as he pushed himself up and out, falling against Liz and tumbling them both to the floor. Liz's breath whooshed out of her and she had barely started to inhale when she had to exhale again, crying out as Max thrust into her waiting heat.

Max took her mouth, his tongue compelling her lips apart and seeking out every crevice as his body crushed hers into the carpet. If the surface beneath her had yielded at all Liz would have sunk into it with a vengeance. As it was, her body absorbed the stunning force of his every thrust and her hips rose instinctively to meet him, her legs wrapping around his working thighs and her hands scoring red marks across his back, his buttocks, everywhere she could reach. As they merged completely and the absolute intensity of the whirlwind of need she had created flooded into her Liz whimpered, feeling as though she might fly apart any second now. She tore her mouth away from Max's greedy lips, gulping in air. Max went for her exposed throat, his teeth closing on her skin where her pulse hammered. He bit down and Liz moaned wildly at the utter possessiveness of the sensation.

Immersed in the searing physicality of their joining, Max and Liz spiraled upwards together like hawks on a mating flight, propelled higher and higher by the warm thermals that gusted under their wings. Max scattered bites and rough kisses along her neck and shoulders, leaving dozens of tiny red spots that stood out on her creamy skin. Liz felt his body tighten in preparation just before the world ripped open for them both as they climaxed, starbursts showering sparks inside their eyes.

"Max," Liz moaned and his mouth found its way back to hers. In between kisses he whispered hoarsely, "Mine. Mine, Liz. You're mine."

"Yes. Yours…always…forever…yours," she told him, returning his kisses with equal fervor. Their spiraling high of desire slowly faded and Max stopped pumping, leaning his forehead against Liz's as he shifted his weight, taking some of it off of her. Then he noticed the condition of her throat and laughter bubbled from Liz at his amazement. He touched a gentle, curious finger to the teeth marks.

"My God, Liz. What was I thinking?" Max reprimanded himself. She shook her head.

"You weren't thinking, Max, you were—taking, and I loved it," Liz asserted. Suddenly shy, nevertheless she met his eyes and a slow smile spread across his face at her sated expression.

"Is that what you were expecting when you started to play with my hand?" Max asked.

"No, that was—considerably more than I was expecting. I didn't—I would never have guessed it would be that strong. Or that I'd find myself on the floor," she smirked. Max did not take the bait; Liz was absolutely radiant and he knew that what had just happened was the reason why.

"Funny, I seem to recall that you found it interesting," he teased, referring to her unexpected midnight visit after his nightmare. Liz's eyes widened at his audacity and she laughed, pushing at his shoulders.

"Jerk," she said affectionately. Max chuckled and bent his head to her throat, soothing her abused skin with soft kisses and licks. Gradually the tenor of his kisses changed, becoming hungrier, and Liz noticed other changes as well.

"Max!" she exclaimed, half in amusement and half in surprise.

"You do amazing things to me, Liz Parker, just by breathing," he murmured.

"Well, I don't plan to stop doing that any time soon! Would one of those amazing things happen to be a ridiculously short recovery period?" Liz teased. Max met her eyes and grinned.

"Noticed that, huh?"

"It would be difficult not to notice, Max, you're still inside me," she laughed, running her hands through his dark hair as he bent to her neck again.

"Mmm-hmm. I plan to spend the next sixty or seventy years inside you. Not all at once, of course," he chuckled against her skin.

"Of—of course," Liz agreed, her blood starting to heat up at his relentless little kisses.

"Do you know, how crazy it makes me, that no one else will ever see you like this? With your hair beautifully disheveled and your body flushed, and how your bottom lip gets even poutier once you've been thoroughly kissed?" Max caught her lip in his teeth, sucking lightly before letting go.

"I'm beginning to," Liz said in a breathless rush. "It—does the same to me, Max, knowing that inside me is the only place you'll ever be, that mine are the only hands that can touch you, that can make you lose control."

"This, you, it's all I ever wanted, Liz. You know that."

"I—yes, I do. I do know that. And I am yours, Max, forever."

"I love you," he whispered into her mouth before he kissed her, and began to move within her, oh, so slowly. There was an aching tenderness in his motion that brought tears to Liz's eyes, and Max kissed them away as they fell, his own eyes suspiciously bright. They rocked together gently as their minds melded and their souls touched, dancing cheek to cheek in a rainbow sky. Neither could say how long it lasted, that one shining moment of impossibly pure joy, but it brought them to a deep release together. No explosions, no fanfare; merely a profound sense of peace and rightness, and threaded through it all was an eternity of love.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
PART 28

Time passed, slowly enough it seemed and yet before they knew it, it was late Sunday afternoon and Liz was packing her things to leave.

“I’m forgetting something. What am I forgetting, Liz?” Max called out as he finished tidying the living room. Liz poked her head out of the bathroom.

“The sheets,” she called back.

“Right!” Max snapped his fingers and went to strip the chocolate-stained sheets from his bed, tossing them into the washing machine with some detergent and beginning the cycle. Liz came up behind him and snaked her arms around his waist.

“I think that’s the first time I’ve ever seen a man do laundry,” she laughed. “You seem to actually know what you’re doing.”

“I’ll have you know that I’m very good at doing laundry. And dishes, and taking out the trash, and assorted other chores. Just don’t ask me to cook!” Max laughed as he turned in her arms and nuzzled her neck.

“Mmm, I can do that. So let’s say that I’ll cook and you’ll clean,” Liz offered playfully.

“Fine by me,” Max responded. He lifted his head to look at her a little wistfully. “I only wish it were an agreement we could put into place now.”

“We’ll have lots of time for stuff like that, Max,” Liz’s own expression belied her cheery words. She rested her head on his shoulder, taking comfort from his closeness. They stood together for a few minutes, holding each other and drawing strength for their impending separation. It was the sound of a slamming car door that finally forced them to move apart.

“That should be Victor’s. Um, where are—there’re the cards. Will you take Isabel’s while I give the guy the cards and pay him?” Max asked as he grabbed the cards about which he was speaking and his wallet.

“Yeah, sure. It still kills me that you actually have an account there,” Liz laughed as she went to open the front door.

“Mrs. Fendley was suitably impressed by your Valentine’s gift. After today, I may very well be her favorite person!” he laughed. Liz took the box from the older man in the doorway and headed towards Isabel’s room to set it up while Max paid him and gave him the cards, reminding him of the order of delivery. The man gave Max a look clearly stating that he thought Max was crazy, but Max merely smiled and made sure he had the correct instructions. Once Max was positive that it would go according to plan, the man got back into his car and started for the next house. Max closed the door and went to help Liz, only to find that she had already finished arranging Isabel’s room.

“She’s going to die, Max. It looks amazing,” Liz breathed.

“Yeah, it does. She’s um, well, she’s earned it,” he said shyly, scratching behind his ear. Now that his plan was in motion he was feeling a little odd about it.

“Yes, she has, and it’s perfect. She’ll love it. They all will, Max,” Liz reassured him. “Now all we need to do is the kitchen.”

For the next few minutes silence reigned as they straightened up the kitchen, washing the few dishes, putting everything away and wiping it down until it sparkled. At last Max placed the empty gift boxes in a garbage bag. Liz took the golden box from his hands before he threw it away, too.

“Wait,” she said, opening the box. She unwrapped the tissue paper to reveal the dagger.

“I’d actually forgotten about that,” Max said sheepishly. He reached for the elegant knife and nearly dropped it as his fingers tingled viciously. “What the hell?”

“What?” Liz inquired. She reached curious fingers to touch the dagger, feeling the same tingle. “Wow, it didn’t do that when I wrapped it and put it in the box!”

“Was that before or after?” Max asked. The feeling was spreading through his body as he continued to hold the dagger.

“Before. I saw it when I came out to get my chemise and thought I should put it away. You think what happened between us had some kind of effect on it?”

“Maybe, I don’t know. I’d better put it somewhere safe, though,” Max felt as if his entire body was vibrating now. Liz nodded and he left the kitchen, stowing the dagger in his room. When he returned, Liz had completed the little clean up that remained and had grabbed her bag, setting it on the table, ready to go. A forlorn feeling descended on him upon spying it, and Liz held out her arms as she caught his emotion. Max pulled her to him, squeezing her tightly as he leaned his cheek against the softness of her dark hair. As they stood there, they could hear blaring music coming up outside the house and, recognizing the song as Maria’s current favorite, Liz sighed.

“And that’s my cue to leave,” she murmured. Reluctantly Max let her go and stepped back.

“Oh, wait a sec,” he remembered something and darted back down the hall to his room. Liz waited, puzzled, then grinned as he handed her a small teddy bear. It had mahogany fur and was wearing a little black sweater, the chest of which was embroidered with a red, “Max.”

“I saw it when I was shopping for your ring. Isabel kept dragging me into completely unrelated stores and one of them had these bears, and you could get whatever you wanted on the sweater. I was going to keep it until your birthday, but,” Max smiled at Liz’s obvious delight.

“He’s beautiful! At least I’ll always have one of you to sleep with,” she teased, glancing at Max. He rubbed his upper lip.

“Yeah, that’s kind of what I was thinking,” he admitted. They gazed at each other for a moment then Liz put the bear in her bag as Isabel entered the house.

“Anybody home? Oh, there you are,” Isabel exclaimed. “Maria’s waiting in the car for you, Liz. She said if she came in you two would spend too long saying goodbye.”

“Funny, Iz,” Max rolled his eyes.

“Hey, I’m just the messenger. I’m already home, I don ‘t care how long you take!” she laughed. “Liz, I’ll see you in school tomorrow. Or—do you still want to come running with me? We can go before class, and you can ride to school with us.”

“Um, yeah, that sounds great,” Liz agreed. “I, uh, I’ll—see you in the morning then…Izzy.” She was nervous about using the diminutive but her fears were laid to rest by Isabel’s wide smile.

“Great! It’ll be fun to go together,” she said enthusiastically. “But really, you’d better go. Mom and Dad are going to be home any time now—they called me at Maria’s when they got the answering machine here.”

“When did they call here?” Max queried intently.

“Um, I guess about an hour ago? I said you were probably in the midst of seeing everyone off. I wasn’t going to tell them that you were probably occupied with your girlfriend’s body,” she needled, giggling when Liz’s cheeks became rosy.

“On that note, I think I’ll leave before I get humiliated any further,” Liz smiled. She hugged Max, rubbing a hand across his stubbled chin.

“Yeah, what’s with the scruffiness?” Isabel asked, catching the gesture.

“Uh, Liz thought that if I really had spent the weekend with the guys that I probably wouldn’t have bothered to shave,” Max explained, slightly embarrassed.

“I think it looks sexy. Besides, he scratches in all the right places,” Liz deadpanned, breaking out into a grin as Isabel’s cheeks flushed as pink as her own. She squeezed Max’s arm and grabbed her bag, pressing a light kiss to his lips before disappearing out the front door. Max and Isabel listened to Maria’s music fade away.

“So how did you and Maria get along?” Max asked, pulling out a chair and sitting at the kitchen table. Isabel yanked a can of soda from the fridge and joined him.

“Pretty good, surprisingly enough. She’s an interesting person. We, uh, we talked about me setting up an arrangement to sell my perfumes in her mother’s shop, and came up with what we think is a good proposal. I’m going to see Ms. DeLuca after school tomorrow. Maria thinks she’ll love the idea, and she knows her mom pretty well so I guess I’m going to be going into business,” she replied animatedly. Max concealed his surprise at her words. They had apparently gotten along better than she was saying if she had been so forthcoming with Maria.

“That’s great, Iz, really. I hope it works out,” he said sincerely. Isabel smiled broadly.

“I don’t need to ask if your weekend went well! Did you even make it out of the house?” she asked mischievously. A dull red crept up Max’s neck.

“Not exactly. I did manage to give Kelly Carson an eyeful when she delivered pizza here. I—kind of assumed it would be a guy delivering and I uh, I answered the door in my boxers,” he admitted, rolling his eyes.

“Oooh, Max, that is going to be all over school on Monday! Kelly’s like the biggest gossip,” Isabel exclaimed.

“Yeah, I know. Fortunately Liz waited until she had left before laughing at me. Otherwise we could’ve been in trouble.”

“True. Now Liz’ll just have some competition for looking at you,” she laughed. “Was the pizza good at least?”

“I guess. It probably would’ve been better if we had eaten it while it was still hot,” Max winked and Isabel groaned.

“Could you not keep your hands off each other long enough to eat, even?”

“Well, we had the dinner Michael and Tess made right after you guys left Friday night. After that…yeah, it was pretty much a free-for-all,” he smirked. “It was supposed to be our honeymoon, Iz.”

“I had to ask,” she placed her hands over her ears. “No more, please!” They shared a laugh.

“So do you like, feel married now?” Isabel asked more seriously.

“Kind of. Except for the whole living in separate houses, subject to two sets of parental rules,” Max said with a half smile. “But I do feel…different.”

“Good different or bad different?”

“Good, I think. This bond with Liz…you know, except for being connected to you and Michael all my life, this is the first thing I’ve ever had that feels permanent,” he said wonderingly.

“That would be good different, brother dear. Hey, I hear Mom and Dad,” Isabel stood up as their parents came inside. Mrs. Evans put her bag down and hugged her daughter, leaning over to ruffle Max’s hair once she let go.

“I see Max had an au naturel weekend, complete with pizza boxes and a distinct lack of razors! Did you have fun?” she asked fondly.

“Yeah, yeah. It was good,” Max answered vaguely, ignoring Isabel’s snort and telling his face that it would not turn red at his mother’s uncannily accurate assessment. Mrs. Evans smiled and turned to Isabel expectantly.

“Yeah, I had a really good time too. I’m going to talk to Maria’s mom tomorrow about selling my perfumes in her shop.”

“That’s wonderful, honey!” Mr. Evans chimed in. He handed his wife a glass of cold water, which she drank gratefully.

“I forgot to grab some bottled water before we drove back from the airport,” Mrs. Evans responded to her children’s raised eyebrows at her chugging ability. She placed the empty glass on the table and looked at Max, slightly speculatively. He held up his hands.

“Hey, don’t look at me like that! Your table’s virginal, Mom, I swear,” he laughed.

Mr. Evans chuckled. “Whatever gave you the idea the table was virginal, Max?”

“Philip!” Mrs. Evans exclaimed, blushing. Max and Isabel stared at her, then at each other. Isabel shoved her chair back far enough to get up without touching the table as they realized what their father meant.

“Oh God, I think I’m going to be sick. I so did not need to know that, Dad,” Isabel grimaced as she stood. “I’ll be in my room.”

Max watched her go. “You know Mom, telling me that is about the most effective deterrent I can think of,” he said dryly, and Mrs. Evans laughed.

“I’m sure it is honey, but I was going to keep certain things private!” she glared at her husband, then smiled. Suddenly Isabel’s voice rang out.

“Max!” she yelled from her bedroom. Mr. and Mrs. Evans looked worried when they caught sight of the huge smile on Max’s face as he stood up.

“What did you do to her room?” Mrs. Evans demanded. It had been several years since they had played that type of prank on each other, but she wasn’t going to rule out the possibility of it starting again.

“Relax, Mom. She’s obviously found the purple roses I got for her,” Max reassured her. Oddly enough, she didn’t find that particularly reassuring as he headed down the hallway. She turned to her husband to find a strange little smile on his lips.

“I know that Isabel, Liz and Tess were at Maria’s for the weekend, and Max had a bunch of guys over here. Supposedly,” Mr. Evans said.

“What, you think the arrangements might have been different than that?” Mrs. Evans asked. They’d discussed Max and Liz’s relationship numerous times during their mini holiday, and Mr. Evans had more or less come to terms with it. However, his wife was still surprised at his next words.

“I don’t know what kind of arrangement was actually in place, or if they snuck out and met somewhere or what, but I would bet serious money that our son got laid this weekend,” Mr. Evans laughed.

“Philip! Don’t be so crude. Besides, we agreed that we didn’t want to know what they were doing,” she reminded him with a smile.

“Oh I know. I only mentioned it because it was so blatantly apparent. When was the last time Max gave Isabel flowers—or you, for that matter?”

“Um, Mother’s Day aside, probably when he still thought that dandelions qualified as flowers,” Mrs. Evans replied after thinking for a moment.

“Precisely. Remembering my brother’s escapades, I’m guessing Isabel’s been the go-between,” he reminisced.

“I doubt that they need one, dear. Even so, if he’s giving Izzy her favorite roses—her favorite, expensive, roses—as a thank you for having done him a favor, I’d say that we did something right, with both of them. As Isabel keeps pointing out, they’re adults now, so let’s just trust them and leave them be,” she said as she rested her cheek on her husband’s shoulder. He murmured an agreement and they took their bags upstairs to unpack.


Max entered his sister’s room to find her on her bed, in tears. “What’s wrong? I thought you’d like them,” he said, concerned.

“I love them! Thank you. This—it’s so beautiful. Thank you, Max,” Isabel sniffled, waving the card at him. He smiled, recalling the words.

To the most amazing sister we could ask for,
For giving us the ability to keep that card out of play for a few more years,
and for an unforgettable experience. Thanks.
Love, Max & Liz.


“No problem, Iz. I’m going to go do my homework now,” he told her. Isabel motioned him closer and hugged him tightly when he stopped in front of her.

“OK. You can go now,” she smiled. “I’ll see you in the morning.”


Kyle opened the door to find himself handed a long white box and told to sign the delivery form. Bemused, he signed the paper and closed the door, calling for Tess when he read the outside of the card attached to the box and realized it was addressed to both of them.

“What’s up? Oh, who’re those for?” she cried, grabbing the box and untying the ribbon holding it closed. Kyle opened the envelope and his face reflected his shock.

To Tess and Kyle,
Thanks for your friendship and support—and the wonderful food. We
appreciate it so much.
Max and Liz.


Kyle handed her the card and Tess squealed as she read it. He glanced at the open box.

“The colors mean something, don’t they?” he asked, his mind not quite comprehending the fact that Max Evans had sent him flowers. To be sure, they’d been from him and Liz, and to him and Tess, but still. It was weird.

“Yes, Kyle. Friendship. Yellow roses stand for friendship,” Tess explained as she gathered the roses and inhaled their fragrance with pleasure. Kyle scratched his head and shrugged in acceptance.

“He did say he was the flowers type.”


Alex frowned at the deliveryman. “You’re sure these are for me?”

“Positive. Just sign the paper, please, so I can do my job,” the man said wearily. Alex scribbled his signature and went into the house. He opened the plastic and tissue over the box to find half a dozen large Stargazer lilies, artfully arranged in a glass vase with greenery. He grinned, suddenly knowing who they were from even before he’d read the card.

To Alex,
Thanks for your unswerving loyalty, even when you were still in the dark.
Yours is a friendship that we truly treasure. Your sense of humor isn’t too
bad, either!
Also, we chose these particular flowers to remind you not to give up. She
may be stubborn and proud and an absolute pain to live with, but she’s
always been worth it. Good luck. :-)
Max and Liz.



Maria came out to the kitchen at her mother’s summons, only to find a huge bouquet on the table. There were sunflowers and bird-of-paradises, daisies and baby’s breath and a dozen other flowers whose names she did not know, all gathered in a beautiful wicker basket. It was a happy riot of color, and Maria could not help smiling as she reached for the card taped to the basket. Ms. DeLuca watched her daughter’s eyes fill with tears even as her smile widened.

To Maria,
It’s hard to find the right words to say thank you to a friend as absolutely
incredible as you are. Your colorful personality enriches both our lives,
and your inexhaustible optimism and enthusiasm help us all realize what’s
truly important. And that is friends like you. Well, and chocolate!
Love from your best girlfriends, Max and Liz.
P.S. Liz is going to give you back the brushes; we like to finger-paint.



Michael watched the relieved deliveryman scurry off then re-entered his apartment, placing the glazed porcelain pot on the counter. The little tag stuck into the soil said that it was a dragon tree, and the care specifications indicated that it was nearly impossible to kill. Whoever sent it obviously knew that Michael didn’t have much of a green thumb.

Curiously Michael opened the well-sealed card, recognizing Max’s handwriting immediately. As he began to read, he sat down heavily on the couch, his mind reeling.

To Michael,
Two things. First, thank you for everything. It was incredibly special, and
dinner was great.
Secondly, Rath and Lissa were cousins who grew up as siblings when her
parents died. We’ll tell you more details later, in person, but we wanted
you to know that much right away and I thought you’d appreciate some
time to think about it before Liz tells you the rest.
OK, Liz is telling me to add that you are not to get any overprotective
tendencies now, you’ve already given her away. Her words, not mine!
Thanks again, Michael.
Max and Liz.


Liz had been his cousin. Michael was utterly unable to process that idea right now. Max had been right; he needed a little time to think about it before he even knew what questions he wanted to ask her. He assumed from the vague wording that Liz had been the one who had remembered their relationship.

As Michael read over the card again, the whole tone of it started to amuse him. Max’s usual sensitivity was there, of course, but Liz’s personality shone through as well, and as for the end part where Max was writing down her words…damn, they really were married!




Edited by - Tasyfa on 09/23/2001 21:33:23

Edited by - Tasyfa on 09/23/2001 21:42:42 http://pub44.ezboard.com/fthespoilerslutsfanficwhorehousefrm10.showMessage?topicID=216.topic

[ edited 23time(s), last at 18-Jan-2003 11:16:50 PM ]
posted on 24-Sep-2001 3:14:43 AM by Tasyfa
Aw, I love you guys! You make it so nice to post!*big* I really appreciate all the fb. I know it's been a long time, but you would not believe the problems I've been having with my puter. I was offline for most of September and a good chunk of August, which made it impossible to post and kinda difficult to write too!*sad* But things are more or less back on track now so updates should be more regular!

Dreamer247 Not sure why the link I supplied didn't work, but the following is the link that Faith had on her fb *wink* so it should be fine for you (it worked for me!).
http://www.geocities.com/cause_its_me/i_shall_believe.html

Linda Yes, I'm working on FC too! And Veracity for that matter *smile*

Thanks again, guys. This felt like a homecoming and I appreciate it.
hugs, Tas


posted on 16-Dec-2001 10:16:01 AM by Tasyfa
Araxie I've read most of the Deryni books, actually! I'm glad you got the mythic feeling of the ceremony.*happy*

I know, it's been a ludicrous amount of time since I updated and you have all been great about still coming to the thread and bumping and everything--esp. you, Razz! It warms my heart to know that you guys care about this so much.

So, I'm here with a little explanation! I meant to post this before, actually, so y'all would know what was happening. After chapter 28 I had kind of hit a wall. Writer's block ugh. I knew where I was going, but how to get there? Not a clue! So I turned my energy towards my post-Dep fic, Veracity, in the hopes that as well as finishing that, it would shake loose something LOL! I'm happy to report that both events have occurred: Veracity is now a completed work, and I'm writing chapter 29 of Forging.

I'm not going to give you an ETA b/c work will be crazy this last week before the holidays, and then there are the holidays lol! I'll be at my parents' for most of them where my puter time is limited, which means my writing time is also limited. However, I wanted to assure you all that I haven't forgotten this fic and I am NOT abandoning it! I just got stuck for a while.*happy*
hugs, Tas
posted on 23-Jan-2002 7:54:46 PM by Tasyfa
And there is a collective gasp as I actually post a new chapter lol.*happy* I absolutely LOVE you guys for sticking with me through my problems with this, and I promise that it won't be too long before the next chapter is out! Props to Metz and Burns for giving me an idea as to how to bring in an element that I'd wanted to do.*big* I'm not going to post the last bit of the previous chapter as I usually do, b/c it's still on the first page of the thread LOL!

And in case anyone's forgotten, Max's birthday is March 15th.*wink*

behrfanny, this one's for you, babe. Thanks.*happy*
hugs, Tas

------------------------------------------------
*****NEW PART 29*****

"So, where're the girls?" Michael asked as Max took his seat at the cafeteria table. Max glanced at him in confusion while he pulled his lunch out of his backpack.

"How should I know?" he replied.

"Uh, Max, we have kind of noticed the alien Global Positioning System you and Liz have going now," Alex informed him dryly.

"That obvious, huh?" Max smiled ruefully.

"Yeah. But only to us. I think," Alex qualified with a shrug.

"OK then," Max concentrated for a moment, reaching for Liz's beloved presence. "They're all together in Ms. Hardy's lab. Liz, Isabel and Tess are happy about something but I can't get a fix on Maria," he reported, to shocked stares. "What?"

"When did you start being able to feel Isabel and Tess?" Michael demanded.

"About the time that my sister and my girlfriend discovered conversations were much easier to hold telepathically when they go running together," Max said sourly. "Tess I can only feel if she's with Liz, and Isabel's pretty faint unless she's with Liz."

"But you can't feel Maria," Kyle wanted clarification.

"No. Well—not yet," Max amended, shooting a glance at Michael. "And Liz can feel Kyle if he's with me, and Michael regardless though it's stronger if he's with me."

"So the siblings are all connected, too," Kyle mused. "I wonder…" he fell silent as the import of Max's look at Michael occurred to him.

Alex sighed. "All right, I'll come out and say it. Nobody can feel me or Maria because we're the human virgins."

"Yeah," Max winced at his bluntness. "That's about the size of it."

"So when Maria and Michael—ah, if Maria and Michael, you know," Kyle hastily corrected his wording at Michael's glare, "will you be able to sense her too?"

"I don't know," Max answered honestly. "Liz can sense Kyle, but he's been changed somehow by me healing him and Maria hasn't. Same for you, Alex, if you and Isabel ever, uh, got—together, I don't know if Liz would sense you or not."

Max stifled a laugh as three pairs of masculine eyes widened in surprise once again at his casual declaration of the possibility of Alex being intimate with Isabel. Not in a million years would Max admit that if the two of them ever became that close, it wasn't Isabel he would be worried about.

«Now, now, that's not a very nice thing to think about your sister» Liz teased. Max didn't turn around, though he was aware that the girls had entered the cafeteria.

«And eavesdropping isn't a very nice habit» he countered with a mental smile.

«I wasn't; you were broadcasting, dear. We've both been leaky since the ceremony» her mind held a touch of frustration about that.

«I know. I was just teasing you» Max quickly defended himself.

«Yeah, I know!» she exclaimed affectionately.

"Hi," Max murmured seconds before Liz slipped her arms around his shoulders and gave him a quick squeeze from behind, then sat beside him.

"Hi yourself," she smiled.

"So what're you guys so happy about?" Michael asked bluntly as the other girls also sat down.

Liz looked surprised for a moment then smiled. "Oh, um, Ms. Hardy asked me to head up the biology project for the state science fair. It's going to be so exciting! There are six of us on the project team: Leah, Eric, Teresa, Sarah, Jenie and me."

"Only one guy?" Kyle raised his eyebrows.

"Most of the guys are working on the physics entry, so…Eric's the only one who was interested in doing the bio one. But it's just going to be so cool. Our project focuses on genetics, and most of the time when high schools study genetics they use like pea plants and other small, fast-growing plants. But Ms. Hardy wanted us to get the experience of working with live organisms, so—well, not that plants aren't alive but you know what I mean! Anyway, we're going to be mating Drosophilae—you know, fruit flies, because they have about a twenty minute mating cycle and you can freeze them without killing them and pick out the parents from the container so you can examine the babies, and—well, anyway, it's—I'm looking forward to it," she concluded abruptly upon noticing the glazing eyes around the table.

"Congratulations," Max offered, grinning at her enthusiasm. He kissed the top of her head. "I'm guessing that this is going to take up a lot of your time, right? When's the fair?"

"Um, not till the end of April, I think. I don't remember the exact date. But—I know that means I won't have time to work with you guys on the granolith or—" Liz began apologizing.

"Any idiot could see that you've waited your whole life for this, Liz. Us poor bumbling fools will manage without you," Kyle snorted.

"I—I didn't mean to imply that—you know, that you couldn't do it without me," Liz looked distressed.

"Kyle is just pulling your leg, Liz. It's one of his besetting sins, the inability to resist teasing someone," Tess rolled her eyes.

"Haven't noticed any complaints from your direction," Kyle retorted and Tess blushed furiously.

"Oh, oh, way too much information, Kyle!" Isabel complained. "Anyway, Liz, we're all thrilled for you," she added warmly. Murmurs of assent followed her declaration and Liz visibly perked up.

"So when are you starting this project?" Max asked. He was ecstatic for Liz's sake, but the sinking sensation in his stomach betrayed his unhappiness at how little he suspected they would be able to see each other until the science fair was over.

"Tomorrow after school," she admitted. "But I did tell Ms. Hardy that I couldn't stay next Thursday."

"What's next Thursday?" Max was puzzled.

Isabel sighed loudly. "Your birthday, dummy. Dinner out with the family, cake, presents—you remember the annual ritual, don't you?"

"Yes, I do remember, Iz, although I confess I'd forgotten it was next week," he laughed. "But that's a family thing, so…"

"Um, your mom invited me," Liz told him, smiling at the way Max's eyes lit up. He had confided that it would feel strange to celebrate without her and she had struggled so hard not to tell him about his mother's invitation. But she couldn't keep it in anymore, not when such a direct discussion would probably result in emotional leakage that would tell Max the truth anyway.

"She did, huh? That's good," he responded, adding internally, «I'm so glad you're coming with us!»

Michael suddenly laughed, startling everyone. "You realize that your mom's probably got like wedding plans and stuff all in place by now, just waiting for you two to get official!"

"Yeah, she really has her heart set on having a big wedding for you guys eventually, so it's a good thing that you're on that road. I think maybe she wants it so badly because she doesn't think I'll ever get married," Isabel sighed.

"Now, why would you say that? We're all young, Isabel! Just because Max and Liz are joined eternally doesn't mean the rest of us have to rush out and follow the leader," Maria remarked energetically, emphasizing her words with jabs of her hands. "There is all kinds of time for you—and me!—to decide what we want to do with our lives, be that marriage or university or whatever. All things are possible—especially for aliens," she winked, making Isabel laugh.

Liz smiled as she noticed Alex surreptitiously take Isabel's hand under the table, squeezing it reassuringly until she leaned her head against his shoulder. She followed suit, fitting her head into the hollow at the side of Max's neck.

Absently Max pulled Liz closer, perturbed by the lightning flash of hurt that had sped across Michael's face at Maria's words. He knew that Michael cared more for Maria than he would admit but this was the first thing Max had witnessed that had implied just how deep Michael's feelings ran. He resolved to talk to Michael about it later, knowing that most likely he would be brushed off. However, it wouldn't hurt to try.

Oblivious to the vulnerable moment that Max had witnessed, Liz's smile deepened when Michael declared, "So, change of subject. Liz, didn't your necklace used to be pink? I'm not much for colors but I could swear it was pink when we gave it to you."

"Mmm-hmm, it was. It changed, after—after the ceremony," she blushed slightly, knowing that was a dead giveaway for what else it was after, too. "It also used to have a clasp, but it's permanently fused now. Max and I thought it might be important somehow for me to wear it, so he hasn't tried to manipulate it off."

"Well, if you have to wear it 24/7 the colorless quartz is better than the pink, at least. It kind of looks like diamond now, and diamonds go with everything," Isabel commented speculatively, tilting her head for a different perspective on the necklace.

"I—actually, I pretty much wore it all the time anyway. It's my favorite," Liz smiled at the pleased look on Isabel's face. She noticed a hint of the same thing on Michael's face, reinforced by the extremely vague, continuous emotional impression she received from him.

"Speaking of crystals, Max, I did that research you asked me about," Alex jumped in. "But here's the thing. I got only so far into all the New Age crap before it occurred to me that we're taking the wrong tack here. What if it's another property of crystal that makes it important? Like, the absolutely regular and predictable matrices?"

"Matrices? Alex, speak English," Maria scolded.

Alex shot her a look but he smiled and continued, "All right. What is the biggest technological advance of the twentieth century?"

"Computers, obviously," Liz offered.

"Right. And what makes computer technology possible? Silicon Valley isn't just a name, folks, it's a description of the raw materials that go into creating a computer: sand. Sand transformed into crystal. Basically computer chips are crystal. It's a lot more complicated than that of course, but when you get down to basics, that's what you have.

"So," Alex waved his hands excitedly, "what if the crystal shards that Isabel found were part of some kind of alien computer chip or something? We know that Future Max went from the granolith chamber in 2014 to Liz's balcony in 2000, and that he—or whoever programmed his trip—chose his arrival time and place very carefully. He was there in just enough time to start explaining and have our Max's cheesy-ass serenade to back him up."

"Gee thanks, Alex," Max said sarcastically, the tips of his ears reddening. Liz squeezed his thigh and giggled.

"Sorry, man, but it's not like you didn't already know that," Alex grinned.

"So what you're saying, is that Future Max used some kind of crystal as—as a sort of floppy disk or CD-ROM, and when he put it in the granolith, the granolith read the destination that was programmed into the crystal and that's where and when it sent him," Tess said slowly, her nose scrunched in thought.

"Exactly!" Alex nodded emphatically. "Tess, you're a girl after my own heart. In a sisterly fashion, of course," he hastened to add when Kyle's expression became stormy. Alex let go of Isabel's hand and slipped his arm about her waist instead to reinforce the message, and Kyle's face smoothed into a sardonic smile.

"Tess, I didn't know you were into computers," Liz stepped in, looking encouragingly at the small blonde.

"Yeah, kind of. I—spent a lot of time online, when—when I was with Nasedo. Before we came to Roswell," she explained softly. "No matter where we went, the Internet was always the same, you know? Like an old friend. And—and I used it to practice my mindwarps. I practiced nearly all of yours that way, Max," she blushed a little at the confession.

"What, like the—the chem lab and that?" Max asked incredulously. She nodded and he wanted to know, "How?"

"Uh, I—those pictures that Nasedo took? I'd scan them in, and scan pictures of me too, then play with them in Photoshop or something until they looked interesting. Then I'd sort of—animate them with my mind. Sometimes I used pictures of other people and just stuck our heads on before I mindwarped the photo. Actually," she suddenly smiled mischievously, "that's what I usually did because Nasedo could never catch you doing anything particularly interesting!"

"Oooh, that hurt!" Michael exclaimed, laughing at Max's petulant expression.

"Maybe Nasedo just wasn't trying hard enough," Maria suggested helpfully.

"Or it could just be that Max is a pretty straight arrow," Alex chuckled.

"Oh, please. Kyle's the only one of the four of you who could be called a party guy, anyway. Alex would rather be playing with his computer, Max would rather be—well, let's not go there but Liz is the only guest at that party, and Michael spends his time avoiding large gatherings of people, like high school. These things do not party animals make," Isabel mocked them.

Liz watched Max and Michael exchange a glance and the hairs on the back of her neck prickled in warning. Before she could say anything, however, Michael spoke.

"Gauntlet?" he issued challengingly.

Incredulous, Isabel looked from him to Max and back. "You're not serious! Both of you?" she addressed Max.

«Max, what's going on?»

«Don't worry about it»

«Oh that's reassuring!»

«Just a little challenge is all. Harmless»

«Max, you're going to end up with another World's Most Embarrassing Moment here»

«Liz…» he said exasperatedly.

«All right, all right! Don't say I didn't warn you»

"Yeah, both of us," Max asserted aloud to Isabel.

Her eyes glinted mischievously, and she raised one perfect eyebrow at Max as she asked, "Stakes?"

"To be determined," Michael jumped in.

"More and more interesting," Isabel smirked. She pursed her lips, considering. "I accept. On one condition: that Liz evaluates the stakes and makes the winner change them if it's too humiliating or dangerous."

"Done," Michael agreed instantly. Liz held in a laugh; obviously Michael figured that if Isabel won, Liz wouldn't let Max be too humiliated, or Michael therefore by extension. Little did he know that Liz figured if they were dumb enough to issue the challenge, they could definitely deal with the consequences.

"So, happy birthday, Max," Michael announced.

"Michael, we just covered this: my birthday is next Thursday," Max glanced sideways at him.

"Yeah, and your birthday party is now next Friday, Maxwell," Michael informed him.

"What the hell are you guys talking about?" Alex finally demanded to know.

Liz sighed, leaning forward and framing her face with her open hands as she rested on her elbows. "Essentially, Isabel's comment sent the level of testosterone in Max and Michael's brains skyrocketing thereby forcing them to view it as a dare of epic proportions, the outcome of which will be decided by how successful this party is next weekend. Since they're such big party people and all," she added snidely.

"I'm not entirely certain, but I think we were all just insulted, men," Kyle remarked suavely.

"If you can't tell, Kyle, then it's obviously affected your brain, too," Liz shot back acidly. "Come on, girls, let's leave them to their planning."

The other three hastily gathered their things and followed Liz out into the quad. The guys simply looked at one another, baffled.

"Well, Evans, we don't need your alien radar to tell how Liz is feeling now! It's somehow vastly reassuring that even you can seriously piss off your girlfriend," Kyle laughed.

"Right," Max responded noncommittally, sorely puzzled by Liz's reaction. He shrugged as Michael silently asked what had happened; he knew that Michael would be able to feel some of Liz's agitation as well. But Max had no idea what had set her off. It really was a harmless bet, not like the one Liz had referred to at all.

"So...we're throwing you a fabulous non-surprise birthday party then," Alex nodded continuously in helpless agreement as he spoke.

"Looks like," Max affirmed, shrugging.

The four of them simply ate their lunch, each reflecting on the whole prospect. None of them were quite sure what to make of the normally levelheaded Liz's outburst.

"Max, I have just one thing to say about this party of yours," Alex suddenly broke the rather solemn hush with his strident declaration.

"What's that, Alex?" Max mumbled around his mouthful of sandwich.

"There is no way that I am stripping for you!"



posted on 23-Jan-2002 11:03:41 PM by Tasyfa
Tara Hey, chickiboo! Time passed--that's why I made a note about when Max's birthday is. The ceremony was Valentine's weekend.*happy* So it's been about 3 weeks--they do run every day LOL! Lots of time to start getting comfortable with it. Besides, have you ever tried to carry on a conversation while jogging? {shudders} I'd be using any telepathy I had to talk, too!*big*

I missed this fic. It's so nice that these people have taken up residence in my head again.*wink*
hugs, Tas
posted on 25-Jan-2002 9:21:38 PM by Tasyfa
Hi guys! Thx for the lovely fb.*happy*

Araxie the gauntlet: stretch waaaay back to chapter 9, when Liz teased Max until he told her his most embarrassing moment, which had been the result of losing a bet to his sister.*wink* I thought it seemed like the three of them had a history of betting each other to do weird things, but of course hadn't done it in years... *big*

sunrise Hi! Here's a little clarification:

The Bet: Can Max and Michael have a fun, successful party?

If Yes: Max and Michael win; they set the punishment for Isabel.

If No: Isabel wins; she sets the punishment for both Max and Michael.

Whoever wins, Liz gets final say on what the punishment will be.*big* This is going to be fun!!


Mmm, as for why Liz is so pissed off--stay tuned. I'm already well into the next chapter.*happy* I am so happy that these people have taken up residence in my head again LOL!
hugs, Tas
posted on 7-Feb-2002 10:29:22 PM by Tasyfa
*****NEW PART 30*****

Cookie babe, you rock! I owe you one long email about this I know LOL! Something's been keeping me occupied, tho*wink*

Thanks for the awesome fb guys! The few answerable questions that were raised I either answered already, or should be answered by this chapter.*happy* Slight disclaimer: I've been planning this for the last year or so, which is much further ahead than certain exec prod.s we know look.*wink*
hugs, Tas

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
FROM PART 29:

"Well, Evans, we don't need your alien radar to tell how Liz is feeling now! It's somehow vastly reassuring that even you can seriously piss off your girlfriend," Kyle laughed.

"Right," Max responded noncommittally, sorely puzzled by Liz's reaction. He shrugged as Michael silently asked what had happened; he knew that Michael would be able to feel some of Liz's agitation as well. But Max had no idea what had set her off. It really was a harmless bet, not like the one Liz had referred to at all.

"So...we're throwing you a fabulous non-surprise birthday party then," Alex nodded continuously in helpless agreement as he spoke.

"Looks like," Max affirmed, shrugging.

The four of them simply ate their lunch, each reflecting on the whole prospect. None of them were quite sure what to make of the normally levelheaded Liz's outburst.

"Max, I have just one thing to say about this party of yours," Alex suddenly broke the rather solemn hush with his strident declaration.

"What's that, Alex?" Max mumbled around his mouthful of sandwich.

"There is no way that I am stripping for you!"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
***NEW PART 30***


"So, wanna tell me what's going on?"

Liz continued tying her apron and avoiding her best friend's eyes. "What are you talking about?"

"Liz. I don't need some alien link to tell that you're out of whack, babe. I know you better than I know me some days!"

Grudgingly the corners of Liz's mouth upturned. "Yeah, I know."

Maria plopped down on the couch in the break room and patted the cushion beside her. "Come tell me all about it. The customers can wait for five minutes."

Liz sighed and sat next to her, leaning against Maria's shoulder. Maria squeezed her comfortingly.

"It's nothing, really. I mean, it's probably nothing. I just—I can feel all this like, energy around me. Like the whole universe is charged, you know? Everything with different amounts, and types, and I can sort of pick apart what's what from the unique combination that each thing has. And it feels so weird, Maria! It's not just the stuff around me, it's me too, and I—I don't know what's going on, but it started…after the ceremony," Liz confessed quietly, an enormous sense of relief consuming her as she finally talked about it.

Maria picked up on the time reference as quickly as Liz had expected. "Uh, this—energy you're feeling. It's not like, you being extra hormonal, is it?"

"No, that was the first thing I thought of too. I checked it out, Maria, I'm not pregnant," Liz reassured her friend, smiling a little at Maria's explosive sigh.

"All right then, why haven't you talked to Max about it? He could probably help. Maybe this is normal for aliens," Maria theorized. "Maybe they feel energy all the time."

"Maybe, but Maria, I'm not an alien! And you know Max. As soon as I tell him he's going to get all guilty and think it's his fault, and—OK, I was putting off dealing with that," she rolled her eyes. "And—it scares me a little, and I'm not sure I want him to know that."

"You don't want who to know what?" Michael asked as he breezed in the back door. "Didn't your guys' shift start like ten minutes ago?"

"Five, same as yours," Maria shot at him with a smile. She tilted her face up expectantly as Liz moved, sitting up straight.

Liz hid a smile as Michael glanced at Maria dismissively, pretending not to notice the blatant invitation. Maria's chin firmed as it lowered and she glared at Michael.

"What?" he responded to her ire. "Looking for something?"

Liz wanted to laugh; she could feel the mischief coming off him in waves. Instead she merely inched a little farther from Maria, sure that she knew what would happen next and not wanting to be too close.

"Nothing," Maria tossed her head, her ringlets bouncing madly. "Absolutely nothing, Guerin."

A fleeting smile ran across Michael's face and he stepped in beside the couch, leaning down over Maria until his lips were mere inches from hers. Maria lowered her eyelashes coquettishly, looking up at him until he moved in closer, his mouth claiming hers, and her eyes drifted shut.

Liz averted her face as they kissed, moving even farther away from Maria on the couch. She giggled as she heard a smacking sound and looked back at them, unsurprised to find that they had stopped kissing.

Michael straightened with a small smile, addressing Liz, "So, did you at least tell her what's got your panties in a twist?"

"Michael, I am not a "her"," Maria protested. He looked heavenward.

"Liz, did you tell Maria what is bothering you? And if not, would you, or better yet tell Max so he quits worrying?"

"Oh, he's—he's worrying, huh?" she asked guiltily.

Michael stared at her. "Are you two not communicating or something? Because usually you're so wide open it's ridiculous, but for the last few days you've been almost totally closed off. And I know it's supposed to be so Max doesn't find out about his birthday present, but don't give me that crap, Liz. What the hell is going on?"

"Sit, Michael. Liz? Sweetie, tell him," Maria entreated.

Michael sat, his concern evident as Liz sighed. She swiveled to face him, leaning back against Maria as she explained again. Maria soothingly stroked Liz's loose hair, keeping her calm.

"So you're not pregnant, and you're not in any pain or anything like that, it's sort of this generalized awareness of everything around you?" Michael asked when she had finished.

"Well, yeah, basically," she nodded. "Is that like, normal for you? Do you feel that kind of stuff, too?"

"Not exactly," Michael admitted, adding when her face fell, "but I think that Isabel does. I don't know, I mean you're a girl so—anything that like, develops in you should be more like hers or Tess's powers."

"You think she's getting powers?" Maria squeaked.

"Not to put too fine a point on it, yeah. It sounds kind of like how I felt when my powers started to awaken. That's what made me think that it'd be more like with Isabel, you know, because her—awakening or whatever was a little different than Max's and mine. We don't have any idea about Tess's, since it wasn't wholly natural; Nasedo nudged hers."

"So…Isabel and Tess have communication powers. I've been speaking telepathically with Max for almost a month now, and Isabel nearly as long though it's much less frequent and, well, more like just a conversation. It's just our voices, like we were on the phone or something, it's not all the—the emotional sharing that accompanies me talking to Max," Liz thought out loud.

"Maybe all the activity has jumpstarted your brain," Maria suggested. "You know, you and Isabel are chatting more now that you both know it's not too intimate; maybe brushing up against her dreamwalking abilities is triggering something in you."

"Yeah, maybe, but what?" Liz groaned in frustration.

"No idea. All's I know is that you have to tell Max. And—I don't know, beat him with a stick or something when he pulls the martyr act," Michael snorted, making Liz laugh.

"You know him too well, Michael," she smiled.

"No better than you do," came his quick response. "You're the one I'm still getting to know, Liz, but even so I'm pretty damn sure that your little temper tantrum today was out of character. What gives? Just on edge about all this?"

Liz looked up at Mara, noting the encouraging smile. Finding out that Liz and Michael had been related in their previous lives had been a huge thrill for Maria; it fueled her feeling of sisterhood with Liz and made her feel even more secure with Michael. After all, you have to be careful when dating your sister's best friend! So she fostered their growing closeness as much as possible, supporting both in their quest for information.

"It's stupid, Michael. It—wasn't anything, really. I was just—I was so excited about being named to the bio project, you know? Like Kyle said, it's been a dream for a long time. And—I know that nobody else cares about fruit flies or any of that stuff, but…I finally felt like my life was back on track. Like I could start looking forward again, planning for my future in some—concrete fashion, instead of riding this—this alien roller coaster I've been on for the last two years. And then Isabel made that remark, and you two idiots had to go and spoil it all by acting like children. It was all just too much," Liz rolled her eyes.

"So…you're pissed because we upstaged you," Michael translated.

"Well, no—that's not—exactly what I—oh all right, yes," Liz admitted, done in by the successive raises of his eyebrows. "Fine, I got mad because as soon as you guys made your little bet, no one even remembered that something majorly important happened to me."

"Petty, Liz, petty," he chided, shaking his head in mock disapproval.

"I know," she nodded. "But you weren't being particularly mature either, so I wouldn't be flinging any accusations around, Guerin!"

"I don't fling, Parker," Michael smirked.

All three of them jumped in surprise as Mr. Parker stuck his head through the swinging door.

"Hey, kids, your shifts have started! Would you come out onto the floor, please?"

"Sorry, Dad. We just—I was just telling Maria and Michael that Ms. Hardy asked me to head up the biology project for the state science fair today," Liz figured that would get them all off the hook. "Sorry."

A grin broke out on Mr. Parker's face and he hugged Liz to him as the two girls walked over to the door while Michael headed the other way, into the kitchen. "That's wonderful, Liz! Congratulations, honey. I suppose I can forgive you a few minutes for that kind of news," he teased. Liz and Maria both flashed brilliant smiles at him then they all got to work.

Liz could feel Max's presence like a soothing balm all during her shift. She knew that he respected her wish to keep her thoughts private until she was ready to share them, but tonight he was making sure that she was fully aware of that. It warmed her, knowing that even though it hurt him that she was withholding something from him, he supported her decision unquestioningly. It was also the last bit of impetus that she needed, to give her the courage to tell him the truth.

Shift over, she sank down on her bed with a tired sigh, wearily removing her uniform. Liz simply sat for a long moment, allowing the fatigue to wash through her before she resolutely stood and dressed in jeans and a light sweater. Slipping her feet into her shoes, Liz gave her hair a quick brush then headed out of her room, down the hallway towards the front door.

Mrs. Parker was sitting in the living room, reading in a pool of lamplight. She glanced up as Liz entered the room.

"Your dad told me about the science fair, Lizzie. That's great!" she enthused.

"Yeah, I'm really excited about it," Liz said unconvincingly, summoning up a smile to reassure her mother, whose own smile had faltered.

"Are you all right, Liz?"

"I'm fine, Mom, just exhausted. And—I need to talk to Max. Yes, now, before you ask," she rolled her eyes, her smile becoming more genuine.

"It's late, Liz, and it's a school night," Mrs. Parker started to protest, and Liz just looked at her.

"I know, Mom. I need to see him, OK? I won't be late, I promise."

Mrs. Parker nodded slowly. "I—suppose now is as good a time as any for you to—to make your own decisions, set your own curfew. Your birthday's only a couple of months away," she remarked wistfully.

"Thank you," Liz bent to hug her, feeling her mother hold on tight for a moment before letting her go. "I appreciate your trust, Mom."

"Just be careful, OK? Would you call me when you get there?" she asked. Liz debated internally for a second then nodded her acquiescence.

"Yeah, I'll call. Goodnight, Mom."

Liz's thoughts were jumbled all the way over to Max's. She was so deep in thought that she started in shock and nearly screamed when the front door opened just as she passed by, intending to go to Max's window.

"Oh my God, Max, you scared the hell out of me!" she exclaimed in a whisper as he came into view.

"Sorry. I—felt you, out here. I figured why make you climb through the window if you didn't have to?" Max offered with a crooked smile.

"Thank you. I'm so tired I would probably have ended up on your floor," Liz smiled back.

"Yeah, I can tell. Come on in," he invited, reaching for her hand. Fingers entwined, they went into the house, Max closing the door quietly behind them.

"Mom and I are the only ones still up," he said quietly as they headed through the kitchen into the hallway. "Hey, Mom."

"Hi, Diane," Liz almost whispered.

Mrs. Evans looked up from her television program. "Oh, hi, Liz. Are you all right? You look pale."

"I'm fine, just tired. Long day! I—I'm sorry to come over so late, but I really needed to talk to Max, so, um, I hope that's OK," she replied.

"Sure, as long as you two aren't too long. Did you walk over?"

"Yeah. Oh, um, I have to call my mom. I promised," Liz turned to Max, wrinkling her nose. He smiled, kissing the back of her hand and releasing it.

"Liz, tell her that Max will drive you home. You can take my car, Max, so the Jeep's engine doesn't rouse your father. Or me," she yawned as she stood.

"Oh, OK. Thanks," Liz smiled and went back into the kitchen as Mrs. Evans came over to Max. She grasped his chin in her hand, forcing him to look at her.

"Don't yell too loud, all right? And try not to take her home until you've worked it out," she said softly.

Max's eyes widened in astonishment and his mother laughed. "I do know that you've been fighting, Max. Your moping and pouting are not subtle, my son!"

"Oh. Well, I think Liz is too tired to yell much anyway," he offered with a wan smile.

"It's not Liz yelling that I'm worried about," she said significantly. "I know your temper, Max. Keep it leashed."

With that admonishment, Mrs. Evans smiled and kissed his cheek, turning away to go upstairs to bed and leaving Max staring after her.

"What, Max? What did your mom say?" Liz asked, snuggling under his arm.

"Uh, she—nothing important, really. She said not to yell at you or lose my temper," he grimaced.

Liz laughed. "She may not know you're part alien, but she definitely does know you! Come on, let's go to your room."

They sat side by side on his bed and Liz leaned her head on Max's shoulder.

"Busy night?" he asked quietly.

"Insane. All kinds of little kids too—the bratty ones," she sighed, and Max chuckled, smoothing her hair.

"Here, lie down, sweetness," he encouraged, and Liz allowed him to move her so that she was flat on her stomach. She did a double take when he straddled her thighs and leaned forward, the hard bulge in his pants pressing against her bottom while his hands reached for her shoulders.

"Uh, Max, I'm not really up for experimental sex tonight," she cautioned flippantly.

"Excuse me? What are you talking about?"

"Do you or do you not have an erection? And if not, then what is poking my butt?" Liz quipped.

"Oh. Uh, sorry, I—I thought I'd give you a massage," Max mumbled, his hands busily doing just that: kneading the tense muscles in her shoulders. It felt wonderful. "I—can't help that part. It—happens, whenever I'm near you, you know that. Can you ignore it?"

"Ignore it?" Liz asked, her voice squeaking slightly. She fought down the urge to giggle.

"Yeah. Um, it's not—I'm not trying to, you know, seduce you, I just—there's not a lot of communication between that and my brain," he said wryly.

That did it. Liz lost it, muffling her gales of laughter in his pillow as Max moved off of her shaking body to lie beside her.

He smiled at her hysterics, seeing tears leaking from the corners of her eyes as she laughed.

Gradually her giggles calmed and Liz rolled onto her side, facing Max with a grin. "I think I needed that!"

"Mmm-hmm," he agreed, tucking a stray lock of hair behind her ear with another smile then cupping her cheek. "Liz…"

"I know," her features softened as she saw the patience and the shadow of pain in his eyes. "Max, make love to me?"

"I'd really rather talk to you," Max protested. "What with the leakiness and everything, we're either too open or too closed to each other, and I don't know what's going on in your head right now."

"It's getting better with practice, like Tess thought it would," Liz offered, stalling.

"Yes it is," he nodded.

«Liz, sweetness, you don't need to be strong like this for me. Let me in; be strong with me» Max projected forcefully, breaking through her tight shield.

She gasped at the unexpected intrusion, but her instinct was to allow his penetration and her barriers dropped, giving way before his determined love. Her emotions, held too long in check, rose in waves that battered against Max's mind in furious release.

His breathing became uneven as the maelstrom buffeted him and he sought to create some order out of the chaos. The first thing he latched onto was her fear, and Max followed it down into Liz's mind to find its source. His own dark guilt mounted as his inner vision cleared and focused and Max discovered that the emerging physical effects of the changes wrought in both of them by the mating ceremony terrified her. He dug deeper and a wraith of astonishment joined the more substantial incarnation of guilt when he realized that only Liz's own changes frightened her. She had somehow managed to conceal her rapidly developing abilities by confusing his perceptions; an action that he suspected had been mostly instinctive on her part, so that he would not misinterpret her fear as directed towards him. That would have been all too easy for Max, so ingrained was the idea that people would flinch away from him if they knew the truth. In her attempt to protect Max, Liz had twisted herself up inside, patently with no way for her to untangle the resulting mess. Even admitting the problem to Maria and Michael earlier today hadn't really helped.

"Liz," he breathed, and she let out a little sob.

"No, Max, it's not your fault. I said yes," she muttered.

"I know that, sweetness, I know. Come here," Max drew her against him, tenderly kissing her lips. Abruptly her hands were unfastening his pants and shoving them down his hips, and then withdrawing so that Liz could wriggle out of her own jeans.

"Liz, what—"

"I need you closer," she pleaded, pulling at his shoulders until he rested on top of her. She whipped off his T-shirt, leaving the small zipper in the front of her sweater for Max to undo as her bare legs wrapped around him. His skin was warm and soft on her thighs; under her calves, the cotton of his khakis was slightly rough, the metal snaps of the cargo pockets cold to the touch.

The ferocity of her need stunned Max. It wasn't even sexual, exactly, but it was all-consuming and Liz whimpered as he hesitated.

"Max, please," she said hoarsely, looking up at him with huge dark eyes while her hands moved restlessly over his naked back. Helpless to deny her, Max gazed into those eyes as he sank into her raging heat.

"Ah!" Liz cried out, the sound somewhere in between tears and relief. He brushed his lips over hers, unzipping her sweater so at least that much of their bodies was skin to skin, and beginning a slow rhythm inside her.

"Sh, it's OK," Max whispered, kissing away the moisture sliding down her cheeks. «I'm here»

«Closer, Max! I need all of you» she sounded frantic and Max allowed the last vestiges of his shield to dissolve, merging with her completely.

He gasped for air at the roiling energy that was suddenly pulsing through his body and leaned his forehead against Liz's. «How long—like this?»

«The energy? Last few days»

«And you didn't»

«I couldn't get the words out; couldn't lower my shield enough. Max, don't»

«I can't help it» he murmured as his guilt poured over them both.

«Ah! More»

«What?»

«The guilt, Max, and everything else. Let it all out, please!»

«I don't understand»

«Me neither. Just DO it!»

One by one, Max released his control on every emotion he had. All the dark things; all the fears. The nightmares and the torture he had suffered at Pierce's hands. His anguish when Liz had walked away after his declaration of love. Heartbreak when he had seen her with Kyle. Anything and everything that had ever caused him a sleepless night or a terror-filled moment: it all surged into Liz. The energy seething inside her claimed and filtered it, making it part of her, and then shot it back at Max in a clear stream, unsullied by negativity.

Max buried his face in Liz's neck to muffle his involuntary cry as his cleansed emotions infused him in a shock wave, crashing through him and triggering his physical release. Hers echoed his, the rhythmic contractions of her inner muscles prolonging his orgasm until they both collapsed, utterly spent.

«What did you do?» Max asked, unable to verbalize through the exhaustion.

«I—I don't really know, I… All the pain was like feeding my energy or something—weird like that. I knew you were going to feel badly about me being so scared, and it got all tangled up until I couldn't open to you. And then when you broke through and I felt how you felt, I wanted to make it better so I just—reached for—for something, and it happened. Are you all right?»

«Aside from the momentary paralysis, you mean? Yeah. Yeah, I'm—I'm great, Liz. I haven't felt this—whole, in—ever. I've never felt like this» his wonder was almost palpable and Liz smiled giddily at the sound.

«Liz…I have no idea what you did, or how you accomplished it, but—thank you»

Tears slid from beneath her eyelids at the profound relief in his gratitude. Even sharing Max's emotions as deeply as she often did, Liz had not comprehended the kind of load that he carried around each day until this very moment: when it was gone. Because she had absorbed it; transmuted it somehow. It was not that Max's anger or fear or any of his other emotions were gone, merely that they had been muted. Nudged into being one step further removed, a crushing weight no longer.

Liz didn't understand what had happened any more than Max did, but she knew one thing in her bones: nothing and no one else could have done for him what she had done, tonight. And knowing that, suddenly developing alien powers didn't seem so terrifying anymore.




[ edited 1 time(s), last at 7-Feb-2002 10:43:45 PM ]
posted on 18-Feb-2002 9:51:07 PM by Tasyfa
Thanks all for the fabulous feedback! I love you all.*big* I'm hoping to get the next part out by the weekend, just so you know!

Btw guys, I've started up an egroup so that updates on everything are easy for y'all to find and easy for me to post!*wink* I'll post to the egroup whenever I've posted something new and tell y'all what, where, etc. Plus you can ask questions if you want, or whatever else comes up LOL! So, just click on the link and that'll take you the home page, where you can sign up!*happy*
hugs, Tas



posted on 18-Feb-2002 10:07:41 PM by Tasyfa
I forgot LOL! Sheeijan, the dagger is safely stashed in Max's room. And I know exactly what you meant about Liz not being perfect.*wink* ITA, obviously!*big*
hugs, Tas
posted on 25-Feb-2002 10:54:26 PM by Tasyfa
Woohoo new part! LOL! Enjoy.*happy* It's in 2 posts.
hugs, Tas

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
FROM PART 30

"Liz," he breathed, and she let out a little sob.

"No, Max, it's not your fault. I said yes," she muttered.

"I know that, sweetness, I know. Come here," Max drew her against him, tenderly kissing her lips. Abruptly her hands were unfastening his pants and shoving them down his hips, and then withdrawing so that Liz could wriggle out of her own jeans.

"Liz, what—"

"I need you closer," she pleaded, pulling at his shoulders until he rested on top of her. She whipped off his T-shirt, leaving the small zipper in the front of her sweater for Max to undo as her bare legs wrapped around him. His skin was warm and soft on her thighs; under her calves, the cotton of his khakis was slightly rough, the metal snaps of the cargo pockets cold to the touch.

The ferocity of her need stunned Max. It wasn't even sexual, exactly, but it was all-consuming and Liz whimpered as he hesitated.

"Max, please," she said hoarsely, looking up at him with huge dark eyes while her hands moved restlessly over his naked back. Helpless to deny her, Max gazed into those eyes as he sank into her raging heat.

"Ah!" Liz cried out, the sound somewhere in between tears and relief. He brushed his lips over hers, unzipping her sweater so at least that much of their bodies was skin to skin, and beginning a slow rhythm inside her.

"Sh, it's OK," Max whispered, kissing away the moisture sliding down her cheeks. «I'm here»

«Closer, Max! I need all of you» she sounded frantic and Max allowed the last vestiges of his shield to dissolve, merging with her completely.

He gasped for air at the roiling energy that was suddenly pulsing through his body and leaned his forehead against Liz's. «How long—like this?»

«The energy? Last few days»

«And you didn't»

«I couldn't get the words out; couldn't lower my shield enough. Max, don't»

«I can't help it» he murmured as his guilt poured over them both.

«Ah! More»

«What?»

«The guilt, Max, and everything else. Let it all out, please!»

«I don't understand»

«Me neither. Just DO it!»

One by one, Max released his control on every emotion he had. All the dark things; all the fears. The nightmares and the torture he had suffered at Pierce's hands. His anguish when Liz had walked away after his declaration of love. Heartbreak when he had seen her with Kyle. Anything and everything that had ever caused him a sleepless night or a terror-filled moment: it all surged into Liz. The energy seething inside her claimed and filtered it, making it part of her, and then shot it back at Max in a clear stream, unsullied by negativity.

Max buried his face in Liz's neck to muffle his involuntary cry as his cleansed emotions infused him in a shock wave, crashing through him and triggering his physical release. Hers echoed his, the rhythmic contractions of her inner muscles prolonging his orgasm until they both collapsed, utterly spent.

«What did you do?» Max asked, unable to verbalize through the exhaustion.

«I—I don't really know, I… All the pain was like feeding my energy or something—weird like that. I knew you were going to feel badly about me being so scared, and it got all tangled up until I couldn't open to you. And then when you broke through and I felt how you felt, I wanted to make it better so I just—reached for—for something, and it happened. Are you all right?»

«Aside from the momentary paralysis, you mean? Yeah. Yeah, I'm—I'm great, Liz. I haven't felt this—whole, in—ever. I've never felt like this» his wonder was almost palpable and Liz smiled giddily at the sound.

«Liz…I have no idea what you did, or how you accomplished it, but—thank you»

Tears slid from beneath her eyelids at the profound relief in his gratitude. Even sharing Max's emotions as deeply as she often did, Liz had not comprehended the kind of load that he carried around each day until this very moment: when it was gone. Because she had absorbed it; transmuted it somehow. It was not that Max's anger or fear or any of his other emotions were gone, merely that they had been muted. Nudged into being one step further removed, a crushing weight no longer.

Liz didn't understand what had happened any more than Max did, but she knew one thing in her bones: nothing and no one else could have done for him what she had done, tonight. And knowing that, suddenly developing alien powers didn't seem so terrifying anymore.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
*****NEW PART 31*****

Max furrowed his brow in puzzlement as he walked up to Michael's door. He could hear the pulsing beat of loud music. Not that that was unusual, but it wasn't the heavy thump of Metallica; it was a lighter, faster dance rhythm. Abruptly he heard feminine laughter and his face smoothed into a smile. Obviously Maria was already here and had taken over the stereo.

He entered the apartment to find Maria, Tess and Isabel dancing with the other three guys watching raptly from their various seated positions. Maria's mood evidently echoed his own as she squealed and came over to Max.

"Hey girlfriend!" she exclaimed, giving him a quick hug.

"Hey yourself," he grinned. Max turned Maria in his arms, placing his hands on her hips and moving with her, not too close. She laughed delightedly as he spun her out then brought her in close to his side, lightly hip checking her to move her away as he headed for the couch.

"I had no idea you could dance, Max," Maria giggled.

"That makes two of us. At least," he added as he noticed the sidelong glances the rest of the room's occupants were giving him. Max shrugged it off with a smile and sat down beside Michael.

"Hey, guys, what's up?" he inquired.

"Max, have you been drinking? Because you're disgustingly chipper," Kyle informed him.

"Ha, you should have heard him singing in the shower this morning," Isabel snorted, joining them. She held out her hand and the volume of the music lowered to a conversational level, prompting Maria and Tess to make their way over as well.

"You could hear me?"

"Uh, yeah. And you're definitely not a Righteous Brother, so you should leave stuff like Unchained Melody to the professionals. Really," Isabel emphasized.

Max just laughed. "Sorry, I didn't realize it was that loud. I'll get quieter with practice. Probably not any better, but definitely quieter!"

"Unchained Melody?" Kyle asked in tones of profound disgust.

"That's what was on the radio when my alarm went off. I just went with the flow, Kyle. Isn't that what Buddha says to do?" Max teased.

Kyle had to smile. "Touché."

"So what happened that has you singing and dancing, literally? I know it's not because you got laid, since that's been going on for like a month now and you've never been this ridiculously jubilant," Michael snorted. "What?" he directed at Maria, who was glaring at him.

"Don't be so rude, Michael!"

"We were all thinking it, I'm the only one with enough guts to say it aloud, Maria. Get off your high horse."

"Fine," she huffed.

Isabel stepped in. "Liz said this morning that she would explain when she got here. Seeing as how if Max was still as giddy now as he was first thing this morning, he probably wouldn't be able to string two words together," she giggled.

"Liz said that?" Tess laughed. So did everyone else, Max included.

"She's wrong, though. I can so string two words together," Max declared. He concentrated, raising one hand, and shimmering in the air above the coffee table appeared the outline of a word. More specifically, the word "word," with an identical second one appearing beside it. Max frowned slightly, and then he flicked his index finger to the side and back, creating a string between the shining letters until they looked like a golden party banner. He sat back, pleased with himself as the others alternately stared at him and the banner.

"That's not a mindwarp," Tess said suddenly, peering at the banner closely.

"Nope. It's more like an illusion. Anyone can see it, not just the target. I changed the air instead of the eyes. It's pretty easy, really, and we should all be able to do it," Max grinned.

"Can I try?" Isabel asked excitedly.

"Sure, be my guest. Tess, Michael, you can jump in too," Max spread his arms magnanimously.

Michael disdained the entire exercise, but Isabel and Tess each focused on one end of the banner, adding more words. Isabel's were a vivid purple; Tess's a pastel pink.

"This is a lot easier than a mindwarp," Tess enthused. "Different uses, though."

"Completely," Max agreed. "It's fun, isn't it?"

"Playing again?" Liz inquired archly as she stepped into Michael's apartment. She laughed when all the letters flared brightly and disappeared as Max turned towards her.

"Hey, that was fast! You only left the school like five minutes ago!" he exclaimed.

"Leah was nice enough to give me a ride. It's drizzling out, if you can believe it," Liz smiled.

"It's drizzling?" Isabel's hands went instinctively to her hair.

"Just a little bit. It'll probably stop soon," Liz reassured her.

"So, Liz, what the hell did you do to Max last night?" Michael interjected bluntly.

"Michael!" Maria, Tess and Isabel chorused while Liz blushed.

"Ignore him, sweetness; he's being pissy," Max sighed dramatically then winked at Liz. He patted his lap. "Come sit."

Liz raised an eyebrow at his public use of the endearment but chose to remain silent about it. She put her book bag down and took off her shoes and jacket then accepted Max's invitation, settling on the couch between his legs.

"Sorry I'm late. We kind of got distracted and took longer than expected," she smiled at the group.

"No sweat, babe. Us women were having fun dancing. Well, so was Max," Maria laughed. "So, wanna fill us in?"

"Well," Liz began to speak when she did a double take, startled by Max's voice right by her ear.

"Not till I get a hello kiss," he commented.

Liz sighed; he'd been like that all day. Every time she had seen him, Max had demanded a kiss. Not that she minded, exactly, but there was more to life!

"Max," she protested, her effort to ignore his request rendered futile when he dipped her sideways. Her feet flew up, smacking Michael.

"I'm sorry!" she apologized, struggling to sit back up. Max would have none of it, merely wrapping his arms around her more tightly.

"Everyone's looking," Liz tried one last tactic.

"So?" he murmured, just before his lips claimed hers.

At that simple touch, all thought of protest died and she melted into him, relaxing in his arms while her lips parted to allow his tongue access. Max leisurely took advantage of it, tasting her deeply. Eventually he broke the kiss, smiling tenderly as her eyes fluttered open.

"Hi," he whispered.

"Hi," Liz smiled back. She took a moment to collect herself then added, "Can we have this meeting now?"

"Yeah, sure," Max grinned and let her sit up. Liz noticed identically amused looks on Kyle and Alex's faces.

"What?" she asked sharply, somewhat flustered by how easily Max had overwhelmed her.

"Nothing," Alex shrugged, ever the diplomat.

Kyle was less tactful. "The caveman cometh," he smirked.

"The what?" Maria demanded.

Michael chuckled. "Nothing. It's a guy thing," he stated loftily.

Isabel's eyes narrowed in thought. "It's not entirely a guy thing, Michael, because I distinctly remember talking to my dear brother about it. Isn't that right, Max?"

"Yep. I shared," Max confessed gleefully. "You confused me!"

"Like that's difficult," she shot back at him. "Max, that was a private conversation!"

"I didn't share details, Izzy. I don't do details. I don't," he reiterated, directing the comment into Liz's ear.

She flinched and laughed as his breath tickled her. "I believe you. Can we go on, now?" Liz looked at Isabel, who sighed and nodded. She knew as well as Liz did that there was no talking to Max tonight. She snuggled closer to Alex, who squeezed her shoulder reassuringly.


(Continued in next post.)

posted on 25-Feb-2002 10:56:33 PM by Tasyfa
(Continued from previous post.)


"All right. Um, OK, about Max's somewhat unusual behavior today," Liz started again then became aware that the subject in question was inching his hands up her ribcage. She groaned in exasperation, grabbing his hands and placing them flat on his own thighs.

"Max, we are not alone here! And if we were alone, I think I would knock you into a wall about now!" she exclaimed to general laughter.

«Only if you wrapped your legs around me first» he told her privately, projecting the image of the two of them in his room, his body pinning hers against the wall while she urged him on.

Liz ignored the swift curl of desire in her belly and slid off the couch, sitting on the floor below Max. "I think we can actually talk about this now," she said wryly.

"What, about knocking Max into a wall? Because I'm all for that," Kyle displayed a mocking grin.

"No, Kyle," Liz had to laugh. "I meant about what's been going on. I—I've been—developing powers." She kept looking at Kyle as she spoke, noting the flash of fear that he quickly concealed.

"What kind of powers?" Tess wanted to know.

"Well, they seem to be communications-based, like yours and Isabel's. Which is consistent with me being female, right? But whereas you deal with—um, internal vision, let's call it, and Isabel, you deal with the subconscious mind, I seem to deal with emotions," Liz said uncomfortably. You'd think I'd be used to explaining embarrassing stuff to my friends by now, but apparently not, she thought to herself.

"How are you communicating with emotions? And how is that different from how you've been sensing us?" Michael asked intently.

"She acts like a filter, Michael. She transforms all the negative emotional energy into something more positive," Max answered dreamily.

"Come again?" Alex was confused.

"Liz took all of my negative emotions—anger, fear, pain, you name it—and did—something that pushed it all away. It's not that I don't have those feelings anymore, or that I don't remember feeling them, but it's kind of removed from me, like I was staring at it underwater or something," Max elucidated.

"So it's sort of like a soft focus lens. Everything's still in the picture, but the edges are blurred and it doesn't have the same kind of impact on you," Maria clarified.

"Exactly!" Max responded, thrilled that someone understood.

"I seem to be slow on the uptake because I still don't quite get it," Michael complained. Max looked directly at him with a small smile.

"How about an example, Michael?" his smile grew at Michael's short nod. "Nearly a year ago, you and everyone else rescued me from Eagle Rock, where Agent Daniel Pierce held me captive and tortured me. Last night is the first time since then that I haven't woken in the middle of the night, dreaming about that," he said softly.

Max continued to smile through the shocked looks around him. Pierce was a taboo subject, Max's brief incarceration even more so. In all this time, no one had broken that silence.

"Max, I thought—I thought the nightmares stopped after the summer," Isabel stammered in confusion.

"No, Iz. They weren't the wake up screaming kind anymore, but I still had them, every night. Until last night, when Liz took them away," he beamed. Liz reached her hand up and he clasped it, tugging until she was seated on the couch between his legs again. She leaned back against his chest.

«You didn't tell me that part»

«I forgot. I've been easily distracted today» his mindvoice was rich with suppressed mirth and she smiled.

«I noticed. One track mind, Max»

«But it's such a beautiful track!»

«If I sit with you, will you be good?» she laughed.

«Can I play later?» he inquired, the husky tone betraying his true meaning.

«We'll see»

«For a "maybe," I promise to be good» Max bargained.

«All right then, maybe» Liz agreed. In truth, she had enjoyed his extraordinary playfulness and good cheer, very much. And she was ecstatic that it was the result of her own emerging abilities. It was only that after an entire day of it, it was beginning to be a bit wearying.

"OK, so now you know what happened. The thing is, we don't know if it's permanent, or if I can only do it for Max, or anything else, really. I'm guessing that Max's little high today is kind of a backlash from having everything—cleansed all at once, and it should wear off. Soon, I hope!" Liz smiled.

"So, test it on someone else," Michael remarked, like that was the most obvious thing in the world.

"Well, duh, Michael," Liz rolled her eyes and Maria laughed. "I, um, the first person that I thought about trying this on was—was you, Tess," she met the other girl's blue gaze and Tess nodded.

"But um, Vordatha—when she took over your body, she said that time and Kyle's love would be what healed you, and I—I'm very hesitant to interfere with that. I trust her, so I think that it would be better, if I—didn't, try with you," Liz said earnestly. She had been so nervous about telling her friend that she did not want to attempt to deal with her emotions about her life with Nasedo. Their friendship was still fragile and new, but shining from Tess's eyes were understanding and acceptance.

"I think you're right, Liz. It's—we've come a long way, and it's only brought Kyle and I closer, so I think that I'd rather not mess with it," she half smiled.

"Well, then I volunteer Michael," Maria said brightly.

"What? Are you nuts?" Michael rejected that suggestion.

"Actually, I was thinking the same thing," Liz said apologetically. She turned her best pleading look on him, the one that always worked on her parents, Alex and Maria, and noticed that the other three girls were echoing her action. Liz fought down a giggle as Michael threw his hands in the air, unable to say no to all of them.

"Fine! Fine, count me in. What do I have to do?" he asked disgustedly.

"Well, that's the tricky part. We need to come up with some way to do this," Liz could feel her face growing warm; the really embarrassing part was coming up.

"Can't you just do what you did with Max?" Alex wanted to know.

"No, because she's not going to sleep with Michael," Max announced bluntly, and Liz winced. Way to be subtle there!

"Is there anything with you two that does not end up related to sex?" Kyle laughed at Liz's reddening cheeks. She felt Max take a breath to answer.

«Max, be quiet»

«But—»

«It's a rhetorical question; Kyle doesn't need an answer» she insisted.

«Fine» he sulked. Liz couldn't help smiling; she knew that if she turned to look at Max, he'd be sporting a wicked pout right now.

"That's none of your business, Kyle. But we do need another method. Not just for the obvious reasons," she winked at Michael and he laughed. "I also think that's why I—filtered all of Max's emotions at once, because we're so open to each other then. I think it would be more controlled if it were a lot slower and more gradual, and then there might not be all the, um, side effects."

"Aw, but he's so cute!" Maria giggled.

"Yes, well, please remember that it's your butt Michael will be trying to grab at school!" Liz snorted.

"I see your point!" Maria giggled again. "OK, so you must have some idea of how you could work this."

"Yeah, I was thinking I could try it like Isabel does a dreamwalk, with you sleeping. Except that I'd have to sit beside you, Michael, and hold your hand or your arm or something. I don't think it'll work without me touching you," Liz said pensively.

"Whatever. When do you want to do this?" Michael had obviously decided that he might as well be a good sport about having been volunteered.

"Not tonight! I'm kind of stuck babysitting," she grimaced then smiled. "Later this week, when neither of us are working?"

"That's not till the weekend, Lizzie," Maria informed her. "We're short-handed this week, remember?"

"Right. OK, on the weekend then. We can figure out the details later," Liz said decisively.

As soon as the words were out of her mouth, Liz found herself spun around in Max's arms. This time she consciously drew in her feet to avoid hitting Michael, but even as she did she heard him chuckle and the cushion beneath her shifted as he rose.

"I think this meeting's adjourned," Alex joked. Liz heard them all laugh and the sounds of rustling as people moved. The music grew louder again and she assumed that the other girls had gone back to dancing, which seemed like fun. But she was caught in Max's laughing eyes.

"I love you," he murmured.

"I know," she smiled. "Are you going to let me up?"

"No," he shook his head with a grin.

"Max," Liz protested.

"Liz," he returned impishly.

"You're impossible!" she laughed.

His gaze darkened as his eyes dropped to her lips. "No, just very much in love. Not to mention turned on," Max brushed his lips lightly over hers.

"Max, I haven't done anything to turn you on!" Liz objected.

"I thought we covered this," he said softly, pressing feathery kisses to her forehead and cheeks. "Are you breathing?"

"Of course I'm breathing!"

"Then I'm turned on," he chuckled at her look of indignation. "Do you want to go dance with the others?"

"Yes…and no," Liz admitted, her eyes glowing with love.

"I love your honesty," Max smiled. "Go on, go dance. I'll be here waiting for you, holding on to that "Maybe"."

"Incorrigible," Liz whispered before she kissed him, tasting him slowly. Then she smiled and went to dance with Maria, Isabel and Tess.

Max watched her twist and turn to the music, laughing with her friends. Some song or other came on and Liz and Maria both squealed, bumping hips and doing some weird hand actions that seemed to be a tradition for that song. Tess and Isabel gradually figured them out and the four of them gestured together with the heavy beat. They all looked like they were having fun.

He glanced away as Michael sat down beside him again. "Hey. Thanks for playing guinea pig."

"Not like I had much choice. Maria pouting is bad enough, I can't deal with all of them looking at me like that!" Michael rolled his eyes.

Max laughed. "Yeah, I'm glad I wasn't the target! So, Michael, about your party. We really should plan that."

"My party? It's for your birthday!"

"Well yeah, but it was your idea. Plus, you’re the only one without parents, Michael. It has to be here," Max countered.

"He's right. If this is going to be a good party, it can't have parental units around," Kyle joined in the conversation.

"OK, OK," Michael capitulated. "Anybody else want to walk all over me while I'm down?"

"Nah, that covers it," Max chuckled.

"You've already got a great CD collection, especially with the ones that Maria's left here," Alex jumped in too. The four of them began talking about the possibilities.

On the other side of the room, Liz noticed the boys all huddled together. She leaned close to Isabel, "I think they're doing a little party planning over there."

Isabel glanced over and gasped in outrage. "Kyle can't be involved; he knows what he's doing! Max and Michael are all on their own for this," she declared. Isabel flicked one hand at the stereo, turning down the volume. Tess, Liz and Maria scrambled, giggling, for their coats and shoes while Isabel stalked over to the couch and yanked Alex and Kyle to their feet.

"Oh no you don't, brothers of mine. You two do this without help from anyone! Get your stuff," she ordered the other two.

"Liz?" Michael called out challengingly.

"I agree, Michael. You and Max have to do it by yourselves," she tossed her head with a smile.

«Call me later, and we can discuss that "Maybe"» Liz told Max, feeling the warmth of his grin from across the room. With that, she and the others exited the apartment, leaving Max and Michael to their planning session.

They sat and looked at each other for a long moment before either spoke.

"It can't be that hard, right? I mean, you've lived in the same house as Isabel all this time. Surely some of it rubbed off!" Michael exclaimed.

"Uh, well, Izzy usually starts with a list. Got any paper?" Max asked, scratching behind his ear.

"Yeah, somewhere," Michael answered, rising and checking the pile of books on the dining table. Triumphantly he yanked out a sheet of blank, lined paper and grabbed a pen then sat down again.

"OK, what's first?"

"Food, I guess, like—snacks. Chips, popcorn—whatever. Uh, I think—we need punch, right? So someone can spike it. Isn't that the point?" Max thought out loud.

Michael wrote it all down, nodding. "Right. We'll just warn Tess and Isabel to stick to soda from the fridge. What else?"

"Do we need decorations? I don't really want to advertise that it's my birthday, Michael. Like, I don't want people bringing gifts or anything, so I'd rather not decorate."

"Me too, it'd take too long and be a pain in the ass to clean up," he agreed.

"Well, I guess we just—supply food and drinks and music, and invite a whole bunch of people and make it clear that it's unsupervised. That should work," Max shrugged.

"Provided I don't get evicted for the noise, it sounds great!" Michael laughed. The two friends continued to list off possible items, setting everything into motion.




posted on 10-Mar-2002 10:46:39 PM by Tasyfa
Thanks, everyone!*big* I'm glad y'all are enjoying giddy Max LOL! He's been much fun to write.

I'm not going to bother posting the last bit of Chapter 31 here, since it was just Max and Michael not-too-pathetically planning that birthday party.*wink*

On with the story!*happy*
hugs, Tas

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
PART 32

Liz stretched out on her bed, relishing the sensation of clean, line-dried sheets. The scent of fresh air rose around her as she shifted and she smiled happily. Sometimes the simplest things were enough to bring you joy.

Her smile widened as she felt a tentative brush against her mind. It was amazing to Liz that Max's mental touch was one of those simple, joyful things in her life now. In response to his invitation, she opened up and sent him a wordless greeting.

«I thought you might be sleeping; I saw an image of your bed» Max told her.

«I'm lying in bed, but I'm not all that sleepy yet. You're still at Michael's?» Liz asked in surprise as she automatically pinpointed his location.

«Yeah. We needed to talk about some things» Max replied evasively.

«Maria-related things?»

«Liz—»

«Sorry. I know, it's private. Is he all right?» Liz felt rather protective of Michael now, almost as much as she did Maria. It was slightly aggravating to be equally worried about both sides when Michael and Maria had the kind of volatile relationship that meant one or the other was usually out of sorts.

«He's OK. Just—confidence issues, mostly. Wondering if she really wants to be with him, that sort of thing. Right up my alley» Max laughed.

Liz snorted in wry amusement. «Yeah, you alien boys need to have it pounded into your thick skulls that we human women actually do love you!»

«Too true» he agreed readily.

«Coming down at all?» she teased.

«I'm not high as a kite anymore, if that's what you mean» Max chuckled.

«You seem to still be feeling good, though» Liz assessed cautiously.

«Oh, I am. Very good. I'd feel even better if I could see you» he wheedled.

«Now?»

«Yes, now. Meet me in the park by the cemetery?»

Liz debated her answer for a few moments. On the one hand, it was starting to get late and she had a busy day ahead of her. On the other hand, she didn't know if she would ever see Max in this extreme kind of playful mood again. Sleep could wait.

«OK. But I have to sneak out, because I already told my mother that we made up and agreed to go to bed early tonight to make up for being out late last night. So give me a little time to go say goodnight and everything, then I'll meet you there»

«I'll be there, sweetness» his mindvoice grew husky and Liz smiled. This should be interesting!

*~*~*~*~*~*

Max circled a bench in the park, wandering off to nearby trees and plucking at the leaves. He was unable to sit still. Restless energy pulsed through his body and his mind had naturally focused it on Liz. He hadn't said as much, but he needed her.

His lips curved into an instant grin as she appeared on the walkway. Max didn't think he'd ever smiled as much as he had today; his cheeks ached from it. The sly comments at school hadn't even bothered him. Max had truthfully announced in the locker room that no, he had not lost his virginity to Liz Parker or anyone else the night before, and while there was the odd sidelong glance most had heard the conviction in his voice and accepted his answer. Of course, he'd carefully worded that response to preclude the possibility of someone asking flat out if they'd had sex. Max hadn't been sure that he would be capable of restraining himself from singing, "Yes," from the rooftops.

He enfolded Liz in a tight hug when she reached him, molding her body to his. From just that reasonably innocent contact, Max found that his breathing became harsh and he let Liz go, stepping back to look at her.

"Hi," he smiled.

"Hi yourself," she smirked, obviously aware of the effect of her presence on him. Liz glanced at the bench beside them, where a small bundle lay. She raised her eyebrows questioningly.

"Come on, I want to show you something," Max evaded the unspoken query. He tucked the bundle under his arm and grabbed her hand, pulling her along.

"Max, slow down!" she laughed. "Your legs are way longer than mine."

"We're almost there," he encouraged, slowing infinitesimally. In another minute, they reached a small brook and he dragged her up to the bank, dropping into a normal walking pace.

"Oh, it's beautiful," Liz breathed. "I never knew this was here!"

"It gets better," Max promised, tugging on her hand as she slowed further. Liz matched his step and then gasped as a small bridge came into view, arching high above the gurgling water.

"Iz and I used to come here all the time as kids, when we needed time out of the house. She might still come; I haven't been for ages," he smiled. "Come onto the bridge with me."

They walked up onto the bridge and Liz leaned over the side, staring at the water. She had a sudden flash of another bridge, much larger, with swift water running beneath it in a deadly rush. Fiercely cold water, she and Max had quickly discovered after their free fall from the bridge railing, but even the immense shock to their bodies had not been enough to force their hands apart.

"Max," she murmured, shaken by the intense flash. Immediately his hands were on her shoulders, soothing her.

"It's all right, sweetness. I—wanted to say thank you."

"For what?" Liz asked, turning to face him. His face gleamed in the faint starlight.

"For saving my life. For keeping me going, when all I wanted to do was give up and die there. For believing me when I told you I loved you," Max said tenderly, one hand reaching to cup her face. Liz felt the sting of tears.

"I didn't really believe the rest of what you said," she admitted in a small voice, and Max shook his head.

"Yes you did. I know why you walked away, Liz: you thought it was for the greater good. It's the same reason why you pretended to sleep with Kyle. And—maybe you were afraid, too. It wasn't enough that your boyfriend wasn't human. Suddenly he was also royalty, with a mission to fulfill. I was terrified; I can't think of any reason why you wouldn't have been," he offered with a crooked smile.

Liz merely stared at Max for a long moment, stunned. She had not expected this subject to ever be broached between them, as much as they had shared themselves with each other in the last few weeks. The memories of Pierce she had intended to ferret out, to help Max with the nightmares she had known still plagued him, but this! She could discern no anger in him, no blame. She had walked away when he had needed her more than ever before, and then smashed his heart deliberately with Kyle, and all Liz found in this moment were empathy and forgiveness.

"Max, I—" she choked out, to be hushed by the pressure of his lips on hers. Max kissed her gently, opening his mind as he parted his lips for her tongue. His mouth clung to hers even as he pulled away, leaning against her forehead.

"You wouldn't be here now if you hadn't believed it, Liz—wouldn't be my wife in all but name—if you didn't know that we belong together," he whispered, and she could not refute the truth of his words. Because she did believe it, wholly and completely. And everything she continued to learn about who they had all been, and who they were now, supported her belief.

"I do, Max. I do believe," Liz whispered back fervently, and drew his head down for another searing kiss. Desire washed through her and, uncaring of their public location, she reached between their bodies and boldly fondled Max. Encouraged by his little moans, Liz unzipped his pants and slipped her hand inside, her fingers closing on his bare skin and stroking insistently.

Knowing that they were highly visible on the bridge and that anyone walking by would be able to see Liz openly touching him inflamed Max. It magnified the feeling of her warm hand and he wanted more. He broke their kiss, gulping in air.

"Not—not here," Max stated raggedly. He flushed at Liz's knowing little smile; even without being fully connected, she knew perfectly well what she was doing to him.

"Then where?" she demanded. Max redid his button, leaving the zipper undone. His long T-shirt would hide it. He bent and scooped up the bundle he had dropped in favor of comforting Liz when she had had the flash and grabbed her hand.

"Come with me," he murmured, moving off the bridge.

Liz followed willingly, surprised when Max ducked underneath the bridge. There was a sheltered spot near the supports, with enough room for the blanket he hastily unrolled on the ground.

"Pretty sure of yourself, weren't you?" Liz laughed.

He grinned at her as he straightened. "As a matter of fact, yes I was. You knew what I had on my mind and you did agree to meet me here!"

"You're right, I did," she looked up at him through a veil of eyelashes and smiled at his indrawn breath. Liz moved closer, stepping onto the blanket and into Max's arms.

"Why here, Max? Why this, tonight?"

He grew more serious as he looked down at her sweet face. "Because that night, when we exchanged those words for the first time—I wanted to make love to you so badly, Liz. You'd been my savior, and when you said that you loved me I wanted to make you mine. But—my body, was—after everything else, I just wasn't up for it."

"I beg to differ," Liz murmured wickedly and they both laughed.

"All right, that was up, but the rest of me was in no shape to do you justice! And—I was afraid, of what you would see. About what had happened, in the—in the White Room. I was too exhausted to control it, and—well, it would've been quite the mood killer," Max half smiled, and she nodded.

"So here we are, in a similar location, and your body is functioning just fine," Liz purred, popping his button open again.

"Yeah," he agreed huskily. "But—more than that, Liz, it's that—I'm free. I wanted to celebrate that. Celebrate you, my angel of deliverance." He sensed that she was slightly uncomfortable with the reference and added outrageously, "Plus I just wanted to get laid."

"Max!" she exclaimed, laughing. "I can tell you spent the evening with Michael, with that mouth!"

"Oh, and I don’t get the extra layer of sarcasm after you've spent time with Maria?" he shot back, grinning.

"Shut up and kiss me," Liz ordered, and Max gladly complied. Lips locked together, he swept Liz up into his arms. It took her a moment to realize that her feet had left the ground.

"What are you doing?"

"Isn't it obvious?" he smiled, raising his eyebrows suggestively.

"Put me down, Max!" Liz rolled her eyes.

Max laughed. "Not obvious enough if you hadn't figured out already that down is where you're going, my lady."

Her eyes widened as he carefully knelt, then leaned forward and laid her flat on the blanket. The smooth, controlled motion bespoke a strength that Liz didn't often think about, though she admired its results in Max's muscular body. Today, however, with his easy talk of destiny and royalty, it hit her that Max had spent his life training for he knew not what, and that that unknown goal had become clear when the four aliens had activated the message from Max and Isabel's Antarian mother.

"You're a King," Liz whispered, something clicking into place in her mind at the words.

"Uh-huh. Hardly a newsflash, Liz," he teased, his fingers nimbly working at her shirt. Max bent to kiss the smooth skin that he revealed with each undone button.

She struggled to ignore the heat spreading through her at his touch. "I'm serious, Max. That means something."

He stopped, her shirt half open, and gazed down at Liz with a slight smile. "Yes, it does. It means that I have obligations and people depending on me, though I don't know much about them yet. It means that at some point, I may very well have to leave Earth and formally take up my throne. It also means that you are my Queen, Liz, and I'm not giving you up for any of that. Because of you, and how you love me, I can do those things. I can be who I need to be," Max told her, his smile broadening at the shimmer of tears in her eyes.

"And right now, who I need to be is Liz Parker's lover," he added suggestively, grinning at her hiccupping laugh.

"Come here then, my lover," Liz invited, stretching her arms out for him. He moved onto her slender body, knowing that beneath the petiteness there was steel.

"I love you," Max declared, not waiting for Liz to return the endearment before he claimed her mouth.

«I love you» her reply echoed in his mind and he smiled against her lips.

«May I finish with your buttons now, Miss Parker?» Max asked in a lilt.

Liz didn't bother playing around. «Please»

Max groaned at the simple plea and swiftly bared her chest, his hands covering her breasts, kneading them. The gasping sighs from Liz as his mouth traveled down her body were driving him nuts.

He reached for her pants, tugging them off and standing briefly to strip his own clothes off then Max sank down to the blanket, wedging his body between Liz's legs. He licked at her nipples, the rosy peaks tightening under the wet caress. Only when Liz was literally writhing under him did he suck one pink diamond into his mouth, pulling hard.

"Oh! Max," she moaned, tangling her fingers in his hair in an attempt to get him closer. She felt the tugging sensation clear down to her toes as he switched, sucking equally hard. Her thighs fell open eagerly when she felt his hand move down her hip and Liz swore she heard Max chuckle as his fingers entered her slick passage.

«Something funny?» she inquired archly, unable to even sound mad.

«No. Just enjoying how honestly you respond to me» came the surprising answer.

«Always, Max» she promised breathily.

«Me too» he agreed, and Liz gasped as he twisted enough to press his hard cock against her thigh, leaving no doubt as to his meaning.

«Make love to me» she pleaded.

«Soon» Max vowed, his long fingers rubbing her clitoris as he continued his deep, wet caresses of her breasts. Helplessly Liz thrust against his hand even as her back arched, urging his mouth closer.

"Max!" she cried out softly as release soared through her.

When it had subsided, Max took her hand, kissing her wrist lovingly before pulling her to a seated position.

"What—" Liz began to ask, only to be hushed by his fingers on her lips.

"Come here," he murmured, sitting with his legs tucked under him and tugging her towards him until she knelt, straddling his muscular thighs.

"I see the King has a taste for adventure this evening," she teased, delighted with his broad grin.

"With you? Anytime, sweetness. May I?" Max asked facetiously, and she laughed.

"Let me," she instructed and reached between her legs, moving forward and guiding his cock inside her.

They both sighed in utter satisfaction at the penetration then laughed at each other. Liz began to move, Max's hands on her hips, helping her rhythm.

He murmured incoherent endearments as she sped up a little, pressing light kisses to Liz's neck and shoulders. It was still hard to believe sometimes that this was the reality, and not a dream anymore. As their shields dissolved completely and they were laid open to each other, Max sensed the build up of energy in Liz and abruptly he knew that this was what he had needed tonight.

"Max, the energy, it's growing like crazy," Liz whispered, a little frightened.

"Sh, let it. It's all right, I can take it," he soothed her, and she loosed her last restraints.

Her energy flooded into him, tingling along his bare skin and brightening his form to silver for a split second. Liz's body flashed silver too and then the pooled energy ricocheted between them, intensifying their union. They kissed wildly and Max felt the exact second that they both found release, concentric circles of pleasure spreading through them.

Liz slowed her movement, gasping for air now as she leaned her forehead against Max's. "How did you know?"

She sensed more than heard his chuckle. "I have no idea, but I'm definitely not complaining!"

She started to giggle, shaking in his arms and Max laughed with her. When their mirth faded to wide smiles, he cupped her face tenderly.

"Thank you, for celebrating with me," Max kissed her forehead.

"Anytime, Max," Liz replied impudently, wrinkling her nose at him when he laughed. Then she sighed. "I really don't want to go home now, but…"

"Yeah, school night. I know," he smiled, kissing her cheek. He couldn't stop touching her. Regretfully Max removed his arms, allowing Liz to stand.

"Wait," he importuned, before she moved away. Puzzled, Liz remained standing in front of him as Max rose to his knees and pressed a kiss to her stomach. She smiled, stroking his hair, then laughed when his tender kiss transformed into a wet, noisy zurburt.

"Max!" she protested, moving away to see him grinning unrepentantly.

"I was going to do it before, but thought it might be a mood killer too," he winked.

"You are insane," she announced.

"No, only crazy about you. Well, Miss Elizabeth Parker, valedictorian to be. Let's get you dressed and get you home," Max said lightheartedly as he picked up his clothes and began to dress. Shaking her head, Liz did the same and watched as he rolled up the blanket. She was incapable of not smiling at his silliness, knowing that for Max it was a mindset that was long overdue in appearing.

They linked arms and walked in the direction of the Crashdown, talking animatedly all the way. Neither of them realized that they were not alone.

The watcher stayed hidden in the trees. Unable to see what had been going on underneath the bridge, nonetheless it was clear enough from the couple's passionate embrace beforehand and the presence of the blanket. Additionally, the momentary brightening of the dark space had not gone unnoticed. The young King's nocturnal activities were definitely known.

And the watcher smiled.




[ edited 1 time(s), last at 10-Mar-2002 10:50:40 PM ]
posted on 25-Mar-2002 12:23:50 AM by Tasyfa
Dreamy, you crazy lady LOL! Thank you for the comment that it doesn't feel repetitive when read all at once--that's SO great to hear!*big* I'm immensely flattered that you zipped through this monstrosity all at once.

About Liz's alien status--it's still up in the air; they haven't quite figured that out yet. It's coming.*wink* As for the commotion, I kind of skipped that LOL! Since we the readers knew what Liz knew, and let's face it the reactions from the others weren't going to be terribly unpredictable*wink*, I skipped over it with the idea of taking the story forward from a point after they'd all had a chance to become a little more comfortable with the idea. Think of it as a cut scene LOL!

I haven't forgotten y'all; I'm working on ch. 33. Writing is coming slowly for me right now b/c my parents are coming to visit next week and I have a TON to do before they get here!!!*happy*
hugs, Tas
posted on 6-Apr-2002 12:07:37 AM by Tasyfa
DreamgirlAj Thank you for the thought-provoking fb! The ensemble nature is something that I really enjoy, too. I'm very happy that I could make you blush at work LOL!*big*

1 Tiger Lily Yikes, that's too bad about angelfire! I will eventually get it up on the repost board, but in the meantime it's also at The Granolith Chamber (Schurry's site), which is here:
http://www.schurry.com_69/FanFic/fanfic.html

I've also started reposting it at the Boardello, from the beginning, but I'm only up to chapter 14 there so that's prolly not what you were hoping for! I hope that helps.*happy*

I've just had a nice long visit from my parents and now I can get back to writing yay! It was wonderful to see them, but my computer's in the same room as the TV and I simply cannot write NC-17 fic while my parents are in the same room. Sorry, just can't do it LOL! There's absolutely no mood happening in those circumstances!*big*
hugs, Tas
posted on 27-Apr-2002 10:30:12 AM by Tasyfa
Fanfic Auction for FSMA


Hi guys! Thanks for all the lovely bumping.*happy* The following press release is one of the reasons that I've been so MIA lately, along with the continuing saga of the ISP issues. ;-) In any case, please do read! I know many of you are going to the Philly party, so here's another chance to do some good and have a wonderful keepsake at the same time. :-)
hugs and kisses to all, Tas


Date: May 7, 2002-May 17, 2002
Event: A live, online fan fiction auction on e-bay to benefit FSMA
Questions: Contact RosDeidre⊕aol.com or link to: http://pub82.ezboard.com/froswellfanficfsmafundraiserfrm1


“Don’t you know what you are to me? What you’re always going to be? You’re the love of my life.”

“I just wish that I could have stopped you from saving my life that day in the Crashdown.”

"It's like the porno version of Aladdin.”

"Buddha forgive me, but I am going to kick your ass!"

Ever since the pilot of Roswell, the series’ hallmark has been memorable writing. So it comes as no surprise that this beloved television show has generated one of the Internet’s most imaginative and devoted group of fan fiction authors. LivE. Breathless. Kath7. Linda. Ash. EmilyluvsRoswell. Tasyfa. Majesty. RosDeidre. Names that call to mind favorite stories that we’ve cherished; authors who spin worlds as magical as the show we’ve treasured since we first heard the strains of Dido’s Here With Me.

And although Roswell may be ending forever on May 14th, you have a rare opportunity to own some of your favorite stories permanently. You can treasure them year after year; long after Roswellian fan fiction sites vanish from the Internet. All auctioned stories will be professionally bound, with laminated covers—many beautifully designed by artists such as Schurry, Blanca, and fishish25.

Roswriters for FSMA is an informal collective of fan fiction authors and artists banding together to help find a cure for Spinal Muscular Atrophy. On May 7, 2002, we are launching an auction on e-bay, and approximately 35-40 original fan fiction stories will be gathered in eight separate tote bags being auctioned off individually. You won’t want to miss the opportunity to bid on these hand-painted totes, each with a different specialty theme, such as Dreamer Tote, UC Couple Tote, NC-17 Tote, just to name a few.

Participating authors will be LivE, Breathless, Kath7, Linda, Ash (Ash_a_Leigh), Tasyfa, RosDeidre, EmilyluvsRoswell, Majesty, BennieBA, Cookie, ShellSueD, Carol, Watcher Tara, and many others. As a special bonus, three Dreamer Totes will also contain CDs of more than 800 of bigspam’s original photos, including images from one of Roswell’s last days on location, while filming the finale. Further, each tote will contain two originally designed posters, and a CD of music.

One very unique Dreamer tote will also contain a gorgeous, hand-designed “Max Quilt.” This lovely work of art has been crafted by Cookieman789 (Stacey), and will be a great way to snuggle up with the Dream Guy himself. This original quilt will be 62”x 62.”


PHILADELPHIA GATHERING AUCTION

Further, a special tote will be auctioned at the upcoming Philly Roswellian gathering on May 10th. Tote contents for this event:

LivE’s THE EXPERIMENT
Linda’s US SIX AGAINST THE WORLD
Kath7's OUT OF THE WOODS
Breathless’ SPECIAL KIND OF LOVE
RosDeidre’s ANTARIAN SKY
Bound Compilation of these short stories: Majesty's PULSE, EmilyluvsRoswell’s RIPPLE EFFECT, Carol’s HOLIDAY DREAMER SERIES, Tasyfa’s THE FORGING OF A LIFEBOND (short version), Ash’s FLOOD and BennieBA’s BEFORE I SLEEP

Additionally, there will be one of bigspam’s rare picture CD’s, featuring some 800 original photos from Roswell on location included in this Philly tote.

Here’s a reminder of the high quality images Big Spam has shared with fans in the past:

http://a9.cpimg.com/image/15/F0/9205269-0fd4-02000178-.jpg
http://a2.cpimg.com/image/2C/3B/6755372-11fa-02000148-.jpg
http://a0.cpimg.com/image/8A/67/5161610-2538-02000176-.jpg



Please visit our message board site for updated press releases and links to the auctioned totes, or watch on Crashdown for links beginning May 7, 2002. Email Rosdeidre⊕aol.com with questions. Visit our site at: http://pub82.ezboard.com/froswellfanficfsmafundraiserfrm1













[ edited 1 time(s), last at 27-Apr-2002 3:38:25 PM ]
posted on 2-May-2002 12:15:36 AM by Tasyfa
I know, forever and a day, right?*wink* Sorry, RL has been a tad nuts these days!!
hugs, Tas

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
FROM PART 32

"Thank you, for celebrating with me," Max kissed her forehead.

"Anytime, Max," Liz replied impudently, wrinkling her nose at him when he laughed. Then she sighed. "I really don't want to go home now, but…"

"Yeah, school night. I know," he smiled, kissing her cheek. He couldn't stop touching her. Regretfully Max removed his arms, allowing Liz to stand.

"Wait," he importuned, before she moved away. Puzzled, Liz remained standing in front of him as Max rose to his knees and pressed a kiss to her stomach. She smiled, stroking his hair, then laughed when his tender kiss transformed into a wet, noisy zurburt.

"Max!" she protested, moving away to see him grinning unrepentantly.

"I was going to do it before, but thought it might be a mood killer too," he winked.

"You are insane," she announced.

"No, only crazy about you. Well, Miss Elizabeth Parker, valedictorian to be. Let's get you dressed and get you home," Max said lightheartedly as he picked up his clothes and began to dress. Shaking her head, Liz did the same and watched as he rolled up the blanket. She was incapable of not smiling at his silliness, knowing that for Max it was a mindset that was long overdue in appearing.

They linked arms and walked in the direction of the Crashdown, talking animatedly all the way. Neither of them realized that they were not alone.

The watcher stayed hidden in the trees. Unable to see what had been going on underneath the bridge, nonetheless it was clear enough from the couple's passionate embrace beforehand and the presence of the blanket. Additionally, the momentary brightening of the dark space had not gone unnoticed. The young King's nocturnal activities were definitely known.

And the watcher smiled.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*****NEW PART 33*****

"So, we've been going back and forth on this all day," Liz announced, flopping onto her bed in mock despair. "What am I wearing tonight?"

"I don't know yet. You said it can't be green or black, and most of your dressy stuff is black, Lizzie," Maria informed her. She jumped up from her position seated beside Liz. "Oh, I know! What about that red dress you wore when you thought Max had sent you flowers but it turned out to be Topolsky? The Spanish look is like, so in right now, and Max has never seen it, right?"

"You are a life saver," Liz rose and impulsively kissed Maria's cheek then dug through her closet, pulling the dress in question from the back. "It's exactly the right degree of formality. Well, now all I have to do is worry myself to death. You know, it was so much easier to pick something out for that party tomorrow."

Both women stretched out on Liz's bed. "Liz, I don't know why you're freaking out about this. Max's parents love you, you and Isabel are getting to be friends, and we all know how Max feels. What is the problem?"

"It's just that it's a family dinner, Maria. Michael's been Max's best friend since they were nine and he's never been invited. I feel a little weird, that's all," Liz tried to explain.

"Liz, you are family! I mean, you're way past married to Max already, so his parents are never getting rid of you. You may as well deal," Maria giggled.

"You're right, you're right. I still feel weird, though. I think it's because every time I see Max's mom, I feel like she's trying to decide what size dress I wear," Liz laughed.

"So, tell her and let her go off and plan," Maria smiled. "It's not like you have to adhere to any of it once you guys go official. Besides, we've already made all kinds of plans, remember?"

Liz groaned. "How could I forget? I still have the shoebox in the bottom of my closet somewhere. Do you still have yours?"

"Of course. Although it may be an academic question in the long run. I mean, Michael's not really the marrying type," she snorted.

"What makes you say that?" Liz inquired, turning on her side to face her friend.

"Hello Liz, Michael? You do remember Michael, right? Mr. "I gotta be a stone wall" himself?"

She giggled. "Of course I remember him, Maria, but—I thought things were going good between you."

"They are, really. We're closer than ever, and I guess that's what scares me. Every time we've gotten close before, he's run, and I—I'm kind of waiting for the other show to drop right about now," she admitted.

"Ah, the elastic band snaps in on itself," Liz nodded, and then laughed when Maria looked at her like she was crazy.

"Last year, before Jennifer and Larry moved away, Jennifer insisted that I read Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus—she lent me her copy. And one of the things in it that stuck with me is that intimacy is like an elastic band for men. They can stretch out only so far before they collapse in on themselves for a while. Then they stretch back out," Liz explained.

"Well, Michael's elasticity is going to make me snap," Maria groaned.

"Maybe, but you're missing the point, Maria. It's a cycle. He will come back out of himself, he just needs some breathing room first. And personally, I'd say that Michael's elastic stretches a lot closer to you than it used to," she teased. "Aren't you getting flashes more regularly now?"

"Well, yeah," Maria sighed. "Although he seems to be able to direct them a little, because I have seen a hugely disproportionate number of fantasies."

"About you, I hope," Liz raised her eyebrows.

"Fortunately for both of us, yes," she replied pointedly and both women laughed.

"Uh, I don't know what you're thinking of as—disproportionate, though, Maria. Max has an awful lot too—equally fortunate ones," she winked.

"Really? Max?" Maria shook her head. "I have to say that I have a lot of trouble seeing Max as sexual. Which is actually a good thing, considering the amount of time that you two spend fooling around—I might get ideas!"

"Yeah, right. And then go act them out on Michael!" Liz laughed.

"Hah, I guess," she smiled, but Liz could see that her heart wasn't in it. Abruptly she realized what the issue was: Maria wanted to take that next step, and she didn't think that Michael did.

"You're ready to—lifebond with him, aren't you?" she asked softly.

Maria looked surprised for a moment then her face smoothed into a sad smile. "Yeah. Things are—physically, it's getting more difficult to restrain ourselves, but that's only part of it. I feel like—like I need him. But…I don't think he feels the same way," she concluded miserably.

"Have you tried to talk to him about it?"

"Sort of. I—whenever I bring something up in that general area, he changes the subject. I haven't pushed, since he obviously doesn't want to discuss it and it's hard enough to get Michael to talk about things he does want to discuss."

"True," Liz sighed. "I hate to admit it, but I don't know what to tell you, Maria. I just—I don't think I know Michael well enough yet to really help."

"That's OK. It helps to talk about it, you know? You got lucky, with Max the 24/7 open book."

"What, you mean the telepathy?" At Maria's nod, Liz continued, "That doesn't mean that we don't have disagreements or misunderstandings. In fact, mostly it means that we're both far more miserable until we work out the misunderstandings we do have, because each of our hurt feelings amplifies the other person's emotions. Being lifebonded to Michael isn't going to make your relationship any easier, Maria. It's not an instant cure or anything like that."

"I didn't expect it to be. I suppose I thought—Michael is so hard to read sometimes, and it would probably give me a bit more of an edge in being able to figure out what's going on inside his head. But still—that's not why. It's just that I love him," her chin trembled.

"Oh, Maria," Liz hugged her close. "Don't cry. Michael will come around. He always does; he's stubborn, that's all. You have to be more stubborn than he is and wait him out—and I know you can do that!"

"Too true," she agreed ruefully. "You know, Liz—don't take this the wrong way, but I was sort of relieved that nothing happened when you tried to communicate to Michael. I…would have had mixed feelings if it had worked, I think."

Liz nodded. "Yeah, I know. Me, too. Getting an echo of Michael's emotions is really about as close as I want to get to him right now. Which doesn't mean that I don't care about him, but…what if we were able to connect and it wasn't just a conversation like with Isabel? What if, because we were related, it's stronger than that? I'm not really ready to share that much of myself with someone other than Max, or you. I don't think Alex, even, 'cause there's some stuff that we talk about that we don't tell Alex."

"Like orgasms?" Maria teased.

"Yes, like orgasms," Liz giggled. "If Max ever realized exactly how much I told you, he would be so embarrassed."

"I'm sure he knows that, which is why he's never asked," Maria laughed.

"Yep. He stays out of my head when I'm Maria-flavored—he says he doesn't want to know."

"Maria-flavored?"

"Yeah," Liz laughed. "Apparently I feel slightly different when I'm with you than when I'm alone. Didn't I tell you that?"

"Nope. Sounds kind of cool," she smiled warmly, obviously pleased by the fact that their friendship had that kind of noticeable impact on Liz.

"I think so too. Although it's not really surprising, and I can tell when Max has spent a lot of time with Michael, too. From more than just his deteriorating vocabulary and manners," she giggled.

"Hmm, I would have said that Michael's vocabulary improves after spending time with Max."

"At least they're meeting in the middle!"

"Too funny. All right, enough about them. Let's get you dressed," Maria sat up purposefully and Liz sighed in mock exasperation, smiling as she allowed her best friend to drag her to her feet.

"Time to get this show on the road, pumpkin. Besides, I expect a complete report on Max's expression when you give him his private birthday gift," Maria winked.

Liz laughed. "One description of utter shock, coming up," she teased as she wriggled into the red dress. The two women continued to talk and laugh as they arranged Liz's hair, and the time passed quickly and pleasantly, with no room anymore for nervousness.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Max spun around in his chair after turning his computer monitor off, satisfied that it would continue downloading without any assistance from him. Probably a good thing, too, he smiled to himself. His parents had given him his major birthday present in the morning: a CD-rewritable drive, a good one. Alex had been nice enough to come over after school and install it, and now Max was assembling a library of songs and other things he'd like to burn. He hadn't bothered downloading much before now; his speakers were not good enough quality to make it worth listening to on his computer, so why bother taking up space with stuff he'd never use? Now, though, he had plans. Maybe a couple of romantic CDs, ones that would interest Liz…

Shaking his head at himself, Max glanced at the clock and figured he should be getting dressed to go out. This time, he skipped the staring contest with his closet and simply pulled out the olive green outfit he'd worn to dinner at Liz's. For an ensemble that included a tie, it was remarkably comfortable.

Hair combed and appropriately clothed, Max headed down the hallway and cautiously tapped on Isabel's door. When she called, "Come in," he pushed the door open and entered.

"Alex gone?" he asked, looking around.

"No, he's in my closet. Yes, he's gone, Max," Isabel teased from her position in front of the mirrored dresser, her hands full of cosmetics. "He left a bit ago, when I started getting ready."

Max plopped down on the edge of her bed, watching as she deftly applied various mysterious liquids and powders to her face. "I do not understand why you women wear all that stuff. You're totally beautiful without it, just like Liz is, and Mom, and I would venture to say Maria and Tess as well, although I've not seen them without makeup yet. And you, at least, could color yourself with your powers if you wanted to."

"And I have," she confirmed, continuing to smooth a large brush over her cheeks. "That takes a lot more effort than it's worth, though, and then my face still feels bare, so I don't like it."

"Huh?" Max was lost. How could it be bad to not feel all that goop on your face?

Isabel looked over her shoulder at him and smiled. "Makeup is a mask, Max. Unfortunately an all too literal one for women who don't know what they're doing, but obviously that doesn't apply to me. Perfect makeup implies perfect control, and its application is a subtle but very real marker of power among women," she tossed her head for emphasis and returned to her task. "Besides, it's fun, experimenting with all different colors and stuff like glitter powder."

"I guess," Max said doubtfully. He assumed that glitter powder was what Isabel was putting on now since everywhere the brush touched her face, there were little sparkles left behind. He had to admit he rather liked the look, remembering that Liz had worn something similar-looking on that disastrous blind date last year.

Thinking over what Isabel had said, it suddenly made a great deal of sense that she had always been so into cosmetics. Control, a way to hide in plain sight…those concepts led to a somewhat disturbing conclusion for Max. One that Isabel evidently shared, as she put away her things and turned to him.

"You know, if you had been female," she started and Max shook his head with a small smile.

"Don't say it, Iz," he interrupted, warning her off.

"Oh, fine," she smiled and rolled her eyes. "So, what'd you want, Max?"

"Nothing, actually. I figured I'd see if Alex wanted a ride home still, since I think I'm supposed to pick Liz up."

"You think?" Isabel teased.

"I've forgotten," Max admitted. "I'm going to go ask Mom in a minute; I'm hoping she's off the phone with Grandma by then." He watched in puzzlement as Isabel pulled out a dark blue dress. "Why are you getting so dressed up, Iz? It certainly isn't for me!"

"Oh, um, no reason," she hedged.

Max narrowed his eyes. "You're doing something after dinner, aren’t you? That's why Alex split so soon, because you're meeting up later!"

Isabel blushed a little and lowered her eyes. "Is that OK?"

Max nobly refrained from laughing. Isabel, all soft and bashful over a guy? He didn't know what Alex was doing differently this time around, but whatever it was, it was definitely working. "Fine by me. In fact, why don't you give him a call and tell him that since he missed his ride home, I'll drop you off—wherever—after we eat. There's no reason to inflict the Ghost of Birthdays Past on you, too," he added wryly. "It's bad enough that Liz will be here for that part."

"Thanks," she smiled gratefully at Max as he rose. "Although I think it'll be old hat for Liz."

"What do you mean?" he asked, turning back to face her at the doorway.

"Just that she's already seen most of the albums and I believe a couple of videos as well—besides the one we watched the time you two couldn't wait to get out of here and get your hands on each other, that is. Mom had her over a couple of weeks ago, to invite her to tonight. I didn't hang around so I'm not sure what all they talked about really," Isabel said smugly.

"Oh," Max said blankly. "Liz didn't mention it." For a moment he was horribly embarrassed then he shrugged it off. What difference did it make if Liz saw pictures of him naked as a little kid? The whole point in such photographs being embarrassing was the extrapolation part, and Liz was already well acquainted with what Max looked like naked now. He was comfortable enough with her that none of that stuff mattered.

Isabel looked baffled as Max smiled and told her, "Then again, it was supposed to be a surprise so why would she say anything? I'm going to try talking to Mom now. Enjoy your phone call." He winked and walked out of her room, closing the door behind him.

Heading down the hallway, he shook his head with a half smile as he began to hear his mother's voice. Apparently Grandma was in fine form today. The other side of Max's mouth lifted as he reached the kitchen and saw his mother trying to get something down out of the cupboard while holding the phone to her ear; it wasn't working very well. He tapped her shoulder and lifted out the large popcorn bowl for her when she stepped aside.

"Thank you," Mrs. Evans whispered.

"No sweat. I need to ask you something," he murmured back, nodding when she held up one finger.

"Yes, Mom—Mom, give me a sec, OK? Max needs to ask me something," she said into the phone and held her hand over the receiver. "What is it, honey?"

"Is Liz meeting us there, or am I supposed to pick her up? I can't remember."

"Uh, probably because I forgot to ask her. Would you find out, please?"

"I can't until you get off the phone. I'm in the middle of downloading something, and before you ask, Isabel's on her line too," Max informed her, rather proud of himself for remembering the details. Of course, he could have just asked Liz, but aside from the fact that he didn't particularly want to admit that he'd forgotten, he also generally tried to keep to himself when she was with Maria. They deserved their time alone together, plus Max knew that he really didn't want to inadvertently eavesdrop on any of their conversations!

"Yes, I'm still talking to Max, Mom. Just one more minute, all right?" Mrs. Evans rolled her eyes and Max stifled laughter. She re-covered the receiver and leaned towards him. "Your grandmother is having a minor meltdown. Honey, just ask Liz, OK?"

"But—I just told you, I can't," he said in confusion.

His mother sighed and fixed him with a look. "Max, I'm not in the mood to play games, all right? You and I both know that you do not need a telephone to talk to your girlfriend. Now, would you go do—whatever it is that you do, and ask Liz when she wants you to pick her up? I'd rather she came with us than meeting us there."

She returned to her phone conversation, apparently oblivious to the effect her words had on Max. He felt like a landed fish, his mouth opening and closing repeatedly with no sound emerging. Finally he took a deep breath and closed his eyes tightly, reaching for Liz.

«Hey there. Are you coming to get me?» she asked in response to his polite "knock."

«I—I wanted to know—when to do that»

«Any time now, I'm all ready. Max, is something wrong? You sound funny»

«I—hold that thought, OK? And—listen in»

Listen in. Their particular code for, "I'm about to have an interesting conversation and I want you to eavesdrop on it."

«Yeah, sure» Liz agreed readily, though Max could feel her mounting concern. He opened his eyes and looked at his mother, who was beginning to appear concerned herself.

"She'll be here in a few minutes, Mom. Someone's giving her a ride," he announced then turned and left the kitchen. Max didn't hear her muttered, "Oh, dear," as he headed back to Isabel's room.

He entered without preamble, ignoring Isabel's irritated exclamation to say, "Hand me the phone, please, Iz."

"What? Forget it, Max! You can't just barge in here and tell me what to—"

"Isabel, give me the phone, now," he ordered. Her eyes widened. Max didn't use that tone of voice very often, but when he did, she knew he meant business. Without further protest Isabel passed him the receiver.

"Hi, Alex. Sorry to cut you off, but we've had a bit of a crisis here and I need you to do something for me," Max spoke quickly.

"Yeah, of course. What's up?" Alex offered his immediate support and Max felt a flush of pride and relief that he had such people to back him up.

«Where's Michael, is he working?» Max asked Liz, noting her smile at his stray thoughts.

«Maria says he has the night off. He should be at home; she's supposed to go over later»

"I need you to pick up Michael at home, and Liz and Maria at the Crashdown. Bring Liz and Michael here, then take Maria with you to the Valentis' and stay there. Fill in the others and wait for news. I'm probably being overly cautious here, but I want to be prepared for anything, all right?" he watched Isabel as he spoke, sympathizing with her need to know what he was talking about.

"You got it, Max. What should I tell everyone?" Alex responded instantly.

From Alex's startled exclamation at the other end of the line and the exponential growth of Liz's worry, to the joy and terror warring in Isabel's expression, Max knew that his brief statement was understood:

"Mom knows."











posted on 2-May-2002 11:49:06 PM by Tasyfa
Heehee! Cookie I was awaiting your reaction LOL!*wink*

FYI, nobody missed anything. There were tiny hints scattered but nothing really overt.*wink* Plus as Lizwell pointed out, the parents aren't stupid. Also, don't forget we're currently in Max's POV, so since he doesn't know yet, neither do you! Next chapter, which I'm hoping won't take too long.

I have to say, though, that was fun!*big* Thanks for all the fb, guys!
hugs, Tas
posted on 3-May-2002 7:17:59 PM by Tasyfa
KK Glad to have you on board, esp. with such scintillating observational skills!*big* Actually, the truth is that since I took an unplanned and much-resented hiatus (on my part, I'm talking!) for a few months in the middle of this fic, you have an edge over the long time readers b/c they read the small details like the steak thing so LONG ago! Of course it's all in my head, but it has to be LOL. Can I offer you a cyber-ciggie? *wink* I like A/I too. They're a couple in my other long-running fic as well (Full Circle), but that's not precisely a CC fic as it's M/L/Mi. Lots of Dreamer readers, though!

Old Enough Hey there! It's funny that you should name Em's Homes series as your other favourite M&L. I haven't read it yet--I confess that I'm rather daunted by the sheer size of it LOL, which she knows--but Em's a good friend so that's kind of cool.*happy* I'm feeling your excitement that I've returned to the actual plot!*wink* I know I kind of meandered off course there for a while, but honeymoons'll do that to a person LOL!
hugs, Tas

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 3-May-2002 7:21:09 PM ]
posted on 7-May-2002 3:03:19 PM by Tasyfa
***Fanfic Auction is LIVE!!!***

Here are the details, folks!*big* Btw, the short version of Forging is in Dreamer tote # 1. Short version comprising the original 3-chapter short story heehee!
hugs, Tas

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Date: May 7, 2002-May 16, 2002
Event: A live, online fan fiction auction on e-bay to benefit FSMA
Questions: Contact RosDeidre⊕aol.com or link to:
http://pub82.ezboard.com/froswellfanficfsmafundraiserfrm1


Roswriters for FSMA is an informal collective of fan fiction authors and artists banding together to help find a cure for Spinal Muscular Atrophy. We have launched an auction on e-bay, and approximately 35-40 original fan fiction stories are gathered in eight separate tote bags being auctioned off individually. You won’t want to miss the opportunity to bid on these hand-painted totes, each with a different specialty theme, such as Dreamer Tote, UC Couple Tote, NC-17 Tote, just to name a few.

As a special bonus, three Dreamer Totes will also contain CDs of more than 800 of bigspam’s original photos, including images from one of Roswell’s last days on location, while filming the finale. Further, each tote will contain two originally designed posters, and a CD of music.

One very unique Dreamer tote will also contain a gorgeous, hand-designed “Dreamer Quilt.” This lovely work of art has been crafted by Cookieman1234 (Stacey), and will be a great way to snuggle up with the Dream Guy himself. This original quilt will be 62”x 62.”


All eight links follow below; we hope to see you at the event!


DREAMER NC-17 TOTE #1:
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DREAMER PG-13 TOTE #3
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CONVENTIONAL COUPLE PG-13 TOTE #5
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CONVENTIONAL COUPLE NC-17 TOTE #6

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UNCONVENTIONAL COUPLES NC-17 TOTE #7
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SPECIAL DREAMER QUILT TOTE #8
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[ edited 1 time(s), last at 7-May-2002 3:10:10 PM ]
posted on 25-Jun-2002 12:24:48 PM by Tasyfa
Imagine that, a new part!*wink* I'm so sorry that it's taking me so long to write this fic. It's just being difficult! In any case, enjoy. I'm well into the next part so it shouldn't be too long this time.*happy* In 2 posts for length restrictions.
hugs, Tas

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
FROM PART 33

He entered without preamble, ignoring Isabel's irritated exclamation to say, "Hand me the phone, please, Iz."

"What? Forget it, Max! You can't just barge in here and tell me what to—"

"Isabel, give me the phone, now," he ordered. Her eyes widened. Max didn't use that tone of voice very often, but when he did, she knew he meant business. Without further protest Isabel passed him the receiver.

"Hi, Alex. Sorry to cut you off, but we've had a bit of a crisis here and I need you to do something for me," Max spoke quickly.

"Yeah, of course. What's up?" Alex offered his immediate support and Max felt a flush of pride and relief that he had such people to back him up.

«Where's Michael, is he working?» Max asked Liz, noting her smile at his stray thoughts.

«Maria says he has the night off. He should be at home; she's supposed to go over later»

"I need you to pick up Michael at home, and Liz and Maria at the Crashdown. Bring Liz and Michael here, then take Maria with you to the Valentis' and stay there. Fill in the others and wait for news. I'm probably being overly cautious here, but I want to be prepared for anything, all right?" he watched Isabel as he spoke, sympathizing with her need to know what he was talking about.

"You got it, Max. What should I tell everyone?" Alex responded instantly.

From Alex's startled exclamation at the other end of the line and the exponential growth of Liz's worry, to the joy and terror warring in Isabel's expression, Max knew that his brief statement was understood:

"Mom knows."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
*****NEW PART 34*****

"Mom knows?" Isabel squeaked out finally as Max placed her receiver in its cradle. "How did she find out?"

"I don't know yet," he answered tightly. "But, Iz…she was pretty matter of fact about it. It didn't seem to be—new, to her."

"Didn't seem…" her eyes narrowed as the implications sank in. "Max, if we find out that our mother has known our whole lives, you and Michael are dead meat."

Max smiled wanly; he knew what she meant. Isabel's desire to share their identities with their parents had never wavered. If he and Michael had been saying no all these years, for absolutely no reason, she would have every right to kick both their asses. "Fair enough," he responded aloud. "Come on, she was trying to get off the phone with Grandma when I left her."

They left Isabel's room, moving cautiously down the hall. The house that had nurtured them both for so long felt oppressive now, no longer a safe haven. Max wasn't really surprised when Isabel's hand crept into his, despite the fact that they hadn't held hands since grade school. He found that he appreciated the support, too.

«Liz?»

«Couple more minutes, Max. Michael wasn't home when we got there so we had to round him up» she seemed amused.

«He needs a cell phone»

«True, but there's going to be a long and bloody fight before he gets one, and you know it»

He smiled; Liz's gentle teasing was lightening his mood some.

«Max, what about Tess? Shouldn't she be coming, too?»

«No. If my parents have figured it out, then they're going to have Michael pegged for sure, but they might not have extrapolated it to Tess. This way, if something happens, she stays safe»

«OK, that makes sense»

«See you soon. Listen if you want to» There was a soft feeling of assent then Liz's presence faded to its customary background hum.

As Max and Isabel approached, they could hear their mother's voice; she was still on the phone. But not, apparently, to Grandma anymore.

"In about twenty minutes or so? Yes, 6025 Murray Lane, that's right. Thank you," Mrs. Evans turned once she had hung up, facing them as they entered the kitchen. Max's stomach knotted with fear. Had she called the FBI or someone to incarcerate them, betrayed their location and identities? What if she and Dad had been working undercover all these years, waiting for something concrete, a fatal slip-up?

«Max, stop it. Stop! She's your mom, not some bizarre kind of double agent. It's going to be OK» Liz projected forcefully.

Max wished he could be as certain. He tightened his hand around Isabel's, knowing he was gripping too hard but she didn't protest. Max knew that she was frightened, too, but she still spoke first.

"So, who was that?" Isabel sounded deceptively casual.

"The Mandarin. I ordered us a large quantity of Chinese food and canceled our dinner reservations. I'm sorry, Max. I never meant to blurt it out like that, let alone on your birthday. We'll go another time, all right? I thought that we should stay here and talk tonight," Mrs. Evans announced quietly.

Her blue eyes searched his with all the concern that she had shown throughout his life, and it hurt that he found himself doubting her sincerity. Max nodded anyway, having no choice but to trust that she was telling the truth.

"Yeah, I think that's a good idea. When's Dad supposed to be home?"

They all heard the slamming of a car door and Mrs. Evans smiled a bit. "That should be him now." She examined Max's face closely and added, "Unless it's Liz." She hesitated, glancing between him and Isabel, then asked, "Is Michael coming, too?"

Isabel's grip tightened to match Max's. He wondered how they had managed to delude themselves for so long that their parents remained oblivious to the strange goings-on in their children's lives.

"Yes," Isabel whispered. "Alex is giving them a ride over." Max could hear the tension in her voice clearly, for all that she had been so quiet. It must have alerted their mother to their feelings about the situation because her eyes clouded with understanding and compassion as she sighed deeply.

"Come here, both of you," she urged. They stepped closer warily, only to have Mrs. Evans move forward and pull them both into a fervent hug, one arm around each teen.

Max found himself clasped in a three-way hug with his mother and his sister, his face pressed into Mrs. Evans' shoulder. Her perfume filled his nostrils, a warm floral that she often laughed had gone out of style twenty years ago. The familiar scent calmed Max as much as the hug did and he fought to hold back tears. Maybe Liz was right; maybe it would be OK.

"Did you think we wouldn't love you anymore?" Mrs. Evans asked incredulously. Max kept quiet, since that had been exactly what he'd thought. He heard Isabel make a sound that wasn't quite a laugh and had to smile, squeezing her waist with his arm. Max had to forcibly remind himself, however, that they did not yet know precisely what their parents actually knew. Reluctantly he stepped back, letting his mother hold Isabel, just as Liz, Michael and Mr. Evans came through the front door.

"I pulled into the driveway right before Alex and Maria dropped these two off and figured we'd all come in together," Mr. Evans offered with a smile, placing his briefcase on the floor near the kitchen entrance. His smile faltered as he took in his wife and daughter clinging to each other. "Diane?"

"Would someone tell me what the hell is going on?" Michael demanded angrily.

Max looked at Liz as she slipped an arm around his waist. "You didn't tell him?"

"Tell him what?" Mr. Evans asked. "I seem to be out of the loop here, too."

Liz laughed, letting go of Max and linking arms with his father. "Let's all go sit in the living room. I think we have a lot to discuss."

They started from the room just as the doorbell rang. Mrs. Evans released Isabel, announcing, "That must be the food. Max, would you help me, please?"

His heart in his throat, Max nodded. Had she singled him out for a reason? He heard Liz snort in his mind. «Yeah, because you're her son and you have all those lovely muscles, which are good for carrying stuff!» He smiled despite himself, following his mother to the front door where a teenager stood, looking bored. The boy had a Mandarin golf shirt and black pants on, and he held two large brown paper bags. Max's knees felt weak from the relief that swept through him as he took the bags from the delivery boy, waiting until his mother had finished paying before accompanying her back into the kitchen. Her phone call had been what she had said it was. Max appreciated Liz's restraint in not saying, "I told you so."

"Why don't we eat first, and then we can discuss the situation?" Mrs. Evans suggested brightly as she removed plates and napkins from the cupboards. Obediently everyone sat at the dinner table, Max and Isabel bringing in extra chairs. Dishes traveled around the table and they all began to eat in a heavy silence. Oddly enough, Michael was the first to speak.

"So, Mr. E, you didn't seem too surprised to see me," he ventured to ask.

"Well, Michael, I simply assumed that my wife had come to her senses and decided it was time for you to get over your horror of fancy restaurants," Mr. Evans smiled. "We've subjected Max and Izzy to them all these years, I never saw why we shouldn't subject you, too."

"Philip!" Mrs. Evans scolded, blushing a little. Max looked back and forth between them, puzzled. Liz's runaway amusement baffled him too but she wasn't forthcoming on the reasons behind it.

"What? I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that you remember the last time we all went out, right?" Mr. Evans directed his question to Michael, who flushed and nodded. "And how would you characterize that experience?"

Michael's eyes darted from side to side but he answered honestly. "Not one I'd care to repeat, sir."

"See?" Mrs. Evans spread her hands in victory. "I told you!"

"And Max and Isabel are oh so fond of it," Mr. Evans shot back. With a glance at his fashionably dressed daughter, he amended, "Well, Max, anyway."

They continued to go back and forth on the issue, and Isabel leaned in close to Max to whisper, "Does this seem highly surreal to you?"

"Just a little bit," Max agreed quietly. "They usually only argue like that over something we've done."

Liz leaned in on his other side. "That's the point."

On the far side of Liz, Michael finally lost his temper. He stood up and glared at the five people all discussing him. "I had plans with Maria for tonight, not for Max's birthday celebrations—which is fine, by the way," he told Mrs. Evans curtly. "I canceled everything for some big emergency over here, and when I get here you all are tense as hell but nobody's talking, and I get suckered into dinner anyway. I think I've been pretty patient so far, but no more. Someone tell me what the fuck is going on—now!"

"Michael, sit down," Mrs. Evans ordered, belying the crispness of her voice with the soothing hand she laid on his arm as he obeyed, still furious. "Now, hand over five dollars."

"Excuse me?" Michael looked at her askance. His suspicious gaze swept over the rest of the room, taking in Isabel's abrupt giggle and Max's effort not to smile. "What?"

"Michael, man, there's a reason I don't swear much. The F word costs you five bucks," Max told him. "Don't you remember that?"

"That rule is still in effect?" he protested. "That's from like junior high!"

"Was it that early? No matter, it's still in force, Michael," Max's mother informed him with a smile.

Michael grumbled but he yanked out his wallet and passed her a crumpled bill. Returning the wallet to his back pocket, he said sullenly, "Fine. But the question stands."

Mrs. Evans looked at Max. He raised his eyebrows, silently communicating that she had the floor. She sighed.

"All right, then. My mother was on the line, having one of her little episodes, and Max wanted to call Liz. The other two lines were busy. Over his protests, I told him that I know he doesn't need a phone to talk to Liz," she explained briefly.

"OK," Michael said slowly. "What does that have to do with me?"

Mrs. Evans regarded him like that should be obvious. "Well, because you're like Max and Isabel. Different."



Liz held in a smile at Michael's stunned expression. Isabel's wasn't too far behind, since Max hadn't told her very much. Her expression also held a hint of accusation, though, while Liz knew that what Michael concealed was fear.

Mrs. Evans continued on blithely. "Once we saw the three of you together, we knew you'd been abandoned together. Michael, you must have been out wandering that night too, we just didn't see you. And neither Max nor Isabel could speak to tell us you were there, so…we didn't know. Once we realized, we thought—" her eyes shimmered with sudden tears and she waved at her husband to finish.

Emotions battered Liz from all sides as Mr. Evans picked up the tale. Even Isabel's feelings were making themselves known, something that had never happened before. She couldn't afford to raise her shields any more than they were, however; this was too important, and given the chaos in Max and the others she knew she needed to keep calm and stay on top of the situation.

"Well," Mr. Evans cleared his throat awkwardly, "we knew you were in foster care, obviously, Michael. But you seemed happy enough, and you were always more self-sufficient than either of our kids, so we decided to leave well enough alone. Had we known about Hank, after Mary died…but again, we didn't know until much later. By that time you were sixteen and ready to get out on your own. We didn't think you'd appreciate being held to all the rules that Max and Izzy are used to, so we chose not to say anything to you. Any of you." His gaze swept the table and he patted his wife's arm comfortingly.

Panic rose in waves from Michael and Liz knew that he wanted to bolt. She reached over, firmly lacing her fingers with his. Liz didn't miss the way Mrs. Evans's eyes sharpened at the way she had taken Michael's hand, and Liz smiled reassuringly as she spoke to her, "You wanted to adopt Michael, too."

The older woman nodded, visibly upset by how Michael's life had been affected by her lack of knowledge. "Yes, we thought they should all be together, since that's clearly how they began their life. Michael probably has the same memory loss as Max and Izzy, which we came to the conclusion was likely the result of some kind of trauma. I mean, three little kids, left naked in the desert to die after they hadn't been properly taught anything, all because they had special gifts!" she exclaimed in outrage.

They believed their children were some kind of psychics. It wasn't that far off the mark; Nasedo had said that their powers were human, and most of them bore a striking resemblance to various psi powers. Not only did Mr. and Mrs. Evans believe, but they embraced their version of reality whole-heartedly. Would they continue to do so if they knew the rest?

Liz surveyed the other three teens; they were in no shape to make a decision. Not surprising, really: Max and Isabel had spent nearly every waking minute of their lives worrying that their parents would discover the truth and cast them out in disgust. Michael hadn't even had someone whose love he perceived as conditional. Liz knew what kind of wounds that deep-seated fear of rejection had left on Max's soul, and she also knew enough to know that in that area, at least, he'd had it the easiest. No, none of the three of them could decide—it was up to Liz.

How many times in her life would she break this promise to Max?

"Actually, Diane, none of them have the kind of memory loss that you think. The reason they don't know anything from before that night, is because that's when they were born," she explained softly. Liz felt Max go rigid beside her even as Michael's fury flashed over his face, and a wild hope dawned in Isabel's eyes.

Liz continued, her quiet words falling into the tense silence. "Max, Isabel and Michael are human-alien hybrids. In 1947, a UFO really did crash and it contained incubation pods, which were placed by the crash survivors in the desert outside Roswell. There, the infants matured and finally hatched, emerging in the form of six year old human children. The children that you found and brought into your hearts, including Michael. And—and Tess, whose development took a little longer, so that when she hatched the others were gone without a trace."

"Aliens?" Mr. Evans questioned, his brow furrowed. "You three—you four—are from another planet? Where?"

"It's called Antar, Daddy. It's in the Whirlwind Galaxy, a very long way away," Isabel whispered.

"They didn't really know much of anything about their background until about a year ago, Mr.—Philip, except that they were different and they needed to hide that," Liz said gently when the silence stretched too long.

"That's why you didn't want to say anything to me after the fire last year, isn't it, Max? You didn't want me to know," there were tears in Mrs. Evans' eyes.

"I…" Max tried to respond; couldn't. Tried again. "I was too scared. Iz wanted to say something but we wouldn't let her. We—we just weren't sure." His head was bowed so as not to see his mother's expression.

"Aliens," Mr. Evans muttered again, clearly trying to wrap his mind around it.

Liz thought they were taking the news relatively well. After all, Maria had fled screaming into the street and now she was close to forging a permanent bond with Michael. People who loved as strongly as she did, and as strongly as Liz knew Max's parents did, learned quickly to adapt to the quirks of their loved ones.

But Michael's only real experience with that phenomenon had been Maria, and that was a wholly different kind of love than the one the Evans offered. His previous panic began to reassert itself and Liz squeezed his hand.

"Michael, it's all right. Really," she reassured him in a low voice. Her gentleness, though, seemed to have the opposite effect on his and Michael yanked his hand free of Liz's and stood, preparatory to fleeing. Suddenly and inexplicably furious with his attitude, Liz rose enough to shove him back into his chair, glaring at him.

"Sit down," she ordered, an unaccustomed note of command in her voice. [[So help me, Michael, if I have to pull rank on you, I will. Keep your butt in the chair]] she thought at him angrily. Liz knew he couldn't hear her but evidently her expression adequately conveyed her meaning because Michael nodded shortly and warily settled back.

The exchange had not gone unnoticed and Liz found everyone staring at her in various stages of surprise. "What? He needs to stay here for this, and he knows it," she defended herself. She noticed Mrs. Evans relax a little and thought wryly to herself that it must have been the tone of voice that soothed her fears about Liz's relationship with Michael. Liz had sounded like a scolding mother even to her own ears.

Mrs. Evans cleared her throat. "Since we're all pretty much finished, why don't we take the fortune cookies into the living room, and you can explain everything to us in relative comfort?" Her suggestion had the force of law and they all trudged into the other room, arranging themselves on the various furniture. Liz prudently sat in between Max and Michael on the couch with Isabel on Michael's other side, perched on the arm, and the elder Evans took the armchairs. Liz leaned her head against Max's shoulder for a moment.

«Are you ready? You should be the one to tell the rest of it»

He kissed the side of her head. «Not really, but…it's time» Their eyes met and he added, «Thanks for getting me this far»

Liz smiled warmly, and then they faced forward together to recount the tale.









(Continued in following post.)

posted on 25-Jun-2002 12:26:40 PM by Tasyfa
(Continued from previous post.)



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

Yawning, Liz returned to the living room and smiled at what she found there. Mrs. Evans had taken Liz's seat between the two boys, Max leaning against her shoulder while she had one arm around Michael. With her free hand, Mrs. Evans stroked Isabel's long hair, her daughter sitting on the floor at her mother's feet, head in her lap. Idly Liz thought that they looked very much like an old-fashioned portrait of a family. With the exception of Michael, all their faces bore tearstains and smiles both. Michael's expression was more guarded and he had not cried, but there was an ease there nevertheless, and a look of quiet joy that Liz had seen before, when he gazed at Maria.

One family member sat off to the side, his face mirroring the rest of the family's, and Liz obeyed her whimsical impulse and sat on the arm of Mr. Evans' chair, placing her head on his shoulder. He smiled at her and wrapped an arm around her shoulder, squeezing her lightly.

"I think my mom is getting reasonable in her old age," Liz said dryly and he laughed.

"What makes you say that?"

"She made absolutely no fuss, simply said that she'd see me at breakfast. I don't understand her at all sometimes," she sighed.

Mrs. Evans laughed. "What time did you originally say you'd be home?"

"Eleven, and it's a quarter to that now."

"Liz dear, you called home before you were expected and told her that you'd be late. You also told her where you were, who you were with, and what new time she could expect to see you. Trust goes both ways, honey," Mrs. Evans smiled broadly.

Liz had to laugh. "When you put it that way it doesn't seem quite so weird."

"Max and Isabel have always been good at that, too. Now, I know that the where part was not always the truth—and no, I don't particularly want to know which times were not—but they did call, and they both have cell phones so I could always reach them if I needed to. You're all good kids," she said emphatically.

"Who aren’t really kids anymore," Mr. Evans corrected thoughtfully. "In another couple of months, Liz will be the last one to turn eighteen."

"I'm sorry I ruined your birthday dinner, Max," Mrs. Evans apologized. Max looked at her incredulously.

"Are you kidding? I think this is the best birthday I've ever had!" he exclaimed and they all laughed.

"You're just happy you got to take off the tie and untuck your shirt," Isabel teased.

"And roll the sleeves up, don't forget that," Liz piped in. She met Max's eyes and winked mischievously.

«I like you in messy formal wear. It makes you look naughty»

«I'll have to remember that» his gaze grew heated.

"So, should we open presents? Max?" Mrs. Evans, oblivious this time to her son's silent exchange, asked.

"Sure. I'm always up for presents," he grinned.

«Bet you'll be really up for mine» Liz teased him, smiling at his widening eyes.

«Oh?» his tone spoke volumes, but Liz wouldn't say anything more now.

"I already gave Maxwell his present, so somebody else gets to go first," Michael proclaimed. "Seeing as I wasn't supposed to be here and all."

Mrs. Evans kissed his cheek before he could flinch away and rose, smiling. "True, but you will be from now on. I believe Max said you gave him a gift certificate?" She nodded at Isabel, who promptly stole her seat.

"Yeah," Michael affirmed. "I'm sure he'll thoroughly enjoy picking something out." He smirked at Max, who shot him a dirty look but couldn't contain a smile.

"I'm sure I will. Oh, thanks, Mom," he smiled as she placed a large package on his lap.

«What did Michael get you?»

«Gift certificate, just like he said» he sounded slightly embarrassed and Liz wanted to know why.

«Uh-huh, to what store?»

«Uh, Victoria's Secret» he mumbled. Liz felt her face heat and stuck her tongue out at Michael when he turned the smirk on her.

"Well, open it," she said aloud and Max laughed.

"Opening," he responded. "This is from Mom and Dad, by the way." He tore the paper off the flat object and gasped.

Liz knew what it was, and the flash of awe she'd received when he first gazed on the portrait would have satisfied a far vainer woman than her. Mrs. Evans had asked a couple of weeks ago if Liz would sit for a formal photograph. When Liz had agreed, they'd discussed what she should wear.

"Regardless of whether you wear the red dress or the black one, your hair should definitely be up," Mrs. Evans had told her.

"But, Max really likes my hair down," Liz had protested, knowing that when she wore it up he itched to pull the pins out.

The expression that had passed over Mrs. Evans' face had puzzled Liz. It had been a blend of nostalgia and mischief, which Liz had only understood when the older woman had explained, smiling, "Yes, so he can touch it. When he was little, he used to spend time brushing my hair, or Isabel's when she was upset or sick. It calmed them both. I would guess that touching your hair inspires a somewhat different emotion."

Liz had blushed furiously, at which Max's mother had laughed kindly. "It's all right, my dear girl. But Max can't touch your hair in a photograph anyway, and you look so lovely with it up."

She had acquiesced, and obviously Mrs. Evans had been right because Max was simply sitting there, staring at the large photograph.

"Wow," he breathed. "This is incredible."

"Liz was kind enough to indulge me," Mrs. Evans said. "The CD burner was your father's idea, and this was mine."

Michael chuckled. "This is a subtle way of telling you that while you're still living here, that's the only way you should be waking up to Liz's face."

There was general laughter but Liz saw Max's parents exchange a speaking look even as Isabel offered, "I'll go make up the guest room."

"That's all right, Izzy," Mr. Evans directed his next words to Max. "From what we understand of your—lifebond, you and Liz are married in all but name, so she can stay with you."

"Really?" there was such transparent joy in Max's voice that Liz had to giggle.

"Yes, really," Mrs. Evans confirmed. "It's the only way both of you are going to get a decent amount of sleep, since I have little doubt that Max would end up in the guest room as well once you were sure we were asleep. Just, for the sake of our continued official ignorance, please be quiet."

Liz and Max both blushed and Michael let out a guffaw. At Liz's pointed look, he wisely refrained from commenting, however.

Isabel appeared relieved as she retrieved another gift and placed it on Max's lap, putting the portrait on the coffee table. He smiled his thanks and opened the small package. Inside it were more gift certificates, this time for the Roswell movie theater and Señor Chow's.

"I know you both like going there, so I thought this would be a good idea," Isabel said diffidently.

"It's great, Iz," Max reassured her with a hug. Liz knew that was her cue so she pulled Max's present from under the armchair, sitting beside him on the couch now that Isabel had vacated the spot.

"Ah, just remember that your mom and I were working independently until recently," she said, a little nervous. It suddenly seemed like a very egocentric gift to give.

"OK," Max plainly didn't understand the reference but decided to open the wrapping paper anyway.

It was another, smaller photograph of Liz, but a very different one. Maria had caught her sleeping in one Saturday morning when they'd had plans, and had snapped this picture of Liz all curled up, with her hair tousled across her pillow and a small teddy bear clutched in her arms. Even in the black and white photo, the embroidered "Max" was clearly visible on the bear's sweater and Max touched it with a fingertip.

"You actually sleep with him?" he asked, glancing at Liz. She sensed his surprise and wonder, and smiled, kissing his cheek.

"Of course. He's very comforting," she confirmed and he laughed then turned the framed photograph so everyone else could see it. There were various comments about how cute it was, and Michael couldn't resist telling Liz she was too old for teddy bears, but all in all it seemed to be considered an appropriate gift and Liz relaxed. She hadn't realized how nervous she'd been until after Max had opened the formal portrait, not wanting to turn his birthday into an occasion that was all about her. Hopefully Max would be as pleased with the private portion of his present.

"Well, kids, I think that we should all emulate Liz's pose and get to bed," Mrs. Evans declared. "Michael, you'll stay in the guest room. Isabel will get you a pillow and blankets," her tone brooked no opposition and she smiled when he shrugged, offering no resistance.

They all rose, Max carefully carrying the large portrait while Liz brought the small one and the gift certificates to his room. She arranged it on his night table, putting the certificates in the top drawer, while he placed the portrait on the shelf over his computer, leaning against the wall.

"I'll hang it somewhere later," he smiled as he came over to her. "I'm just going to take Michael something to sleep in."

"I'll take it," Liz offered. Max nodded and handed her a pair of boxers and a T-shirt. Liz added as explanation, "I want to make sure he's not mad at me anymore."

"I understand," Max drew her close, kissing her briefly. "I'll be waiting here for you. With full permission to be doing so, which is still boggling my mind."

"Yeah, your parents are pretty special. Then again, so is their son," Liz smiled and kissed him again before exiting.

When she knocked on the open door of the guest room, Michael was tucking in the last corner of the sheet around the mattress on the pullout couch. He straightened and offered her a slight smile.

"Max gave me these for you," Liz held out the clothing.

"Thanks," he said brusquely, taking it.

"Michael," Liz started.

"It's OK, I'm not pissed anymore," he sat down on the edge of the bed and Liz smiled ruefully.

"That obvious, huh?"

"Yeah. Look, all three of us were, like, paralyzed, and while I would have appreciated being consulted before you spilled our life story to the Evans, it turned out all right. You did the right thing," Michael admitted.

"I'm glad you think so," Liz sighed in relief. Hesitantly she asked, "Um, how do you feel? You know, about the whole adoption thing?"

He glanced at her, his face shuttered. "At the moment, a little smothered. I can see Mrs. E getting overzealous now that she feels she can."

She nodded. "Are you OK with that?"

Michael shrugged. There was a weariness in the gesture that told Liz to leave well enough alone for now. "I'll let you get some sleep. See you in the morning."

He nodded then as she turned towards the hallway, he said, "Thanks."

Liz smiled and closed the door.













posted on 25-Jun-2002 4:22:01 PM by Tasyfa
Old Enough Really? I thought it seemed so very logical for Liz to tell. Not only b/c the others would be frozen but also, she's the one who's basically told everyone else LOL! It's like she's stepped in whenever their paranoia has gotten in the way.*wink*
hugs, Tas
posted on 28-Jun-2002 7:58:29 PM by Tasyfa
It's always so wonderful to post new parts to this fic b/c y'all are so supportive.*happy* Thanks!

A few of you commented that ch. 34 kinda begged for something more *cough*LTL*cough**wink* Well, it was already so long that what you were craving is in ch. 35. Here you go!*big* Tara, how's that for keeping that promise? LOL!
hugs, Tas

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
*****NEW CHAPTER 35*****

Max lay on his bed, gazing at the photo of Liz asleep. He could hardly believe that soon, she would be sleeping in his arms, and she didn't have to sneak out in the morning. His body thrummed with the fact that his parents had acknowledged her as his mate. It almost overshadowed that they had accepted him and his unusual origins—almost. The deep sense of contentment that permeated his being said otherwise.

He put the photo back on the night table when Liz entered the room and sat up. "How's Michael?"

"A little claustrophobic, but he'll be fine. He said I did the right thing," Liz sat beside him and leaned in. Max slipped his arm around her shoulder.

"And so you did," he kissed her temple. "I have another T-shirt with your name on it."

Liz giggled as he nuzzled her neck. "Good, since I don't particularly want to chance sleeping in the nude with everyone else home."

Max groaned, remembering their Valentine's weekend when they had both spent most of their time without clothing. "Liz."

"Mmm, you like that idea, do you?" she teased.

"Absolutely," he breathed, nibbling on her ear. Liz tilted her head, her hand going to the back of his neck to hold him close.

"Don't you want your other birthday present?" she murmured.

"There's more?" he couldn't conceal his excitement and Liz laughed.

"Yes, little boy, there's more," she twisted to see him.

Max growled and pulled her onto his lap. "Definitely not a little boy, sweetness," he protested, knowing she could feel the evidence pressed against her.

Liz kissed his bottom lip. "No, you're all grown up," she agreed. "Which is good, since your gift isn't exactly suitable for children."

His pulse beat faster at the promise in her voice. "So, this present is the one you were talking about before then, not the photo of you sleeping. Because I love it, but it kind of makes me want to go, "Aww," not ravish you."

Liz didn't answer for a moment as she slid off the bed and reached underneath, handing Max a corrugated box with a flat black ribbon accent. Curious now, he opened it to reveal a black leather-bound photo album. His eyes snapped to Liz, whose cheeks were tinged with pink. Not suitable for children, she'd said. It couldn't possibly be what his raging imagination insisted it was.

Liz placed her hand over top of his on the album, preventing him from opening it. "Um, before you look. These go with the framed one—it's the one to grow on. You know, like the number of candles on a birthday cake. And—and you should know that Maria took all the photographs and we developed them ourselves. There are advantages to being yearbook staff," she said wryly then added, "And the three of us had better be the only people who ever see this album."

Max was already having trouble breathing and he hadn't even opened the damn thing yet. He nodded his acquiescence to Liz's privacy clause and she withdrew her hand, waiting nervously for him to open the album. Which he did, immediately.

His heart nearly stopped. The first photograph was of Liz posing in the white chemise and wrap their friends had given her, a devilish little smile on her lips. He took a closer look. "Is this in my room?"

"Mmm-hmm. Isabel snuck us in one weekend when you were working and your parents were out shopping," she affirmed. "We shot some here and some in my room. Do you like it? I think that's the most, uh, demure one."

"And there are eighteen in here?" Max asked incredulously.

Liz nodded, warmed by his obvious approval. "You know, you can study them all later when you're by yourself," she teased.

"Don't think I won't," he shot back, his eyes meeting hers. Desire surged in her blood at how much he was already affected. She couldn't wait to see his reaction to the last one.

Max turned the page to find that Liz had shed the wrap and sprawled across his bed in the chemise, the fabric straining across her breasts as she arched her back slightly, her hair spread across his pillow. A pose he'd often imagined; had seen her in before and treasured it. He continued to flip the pages, discovering several more of her in both their rooms in various poses and outfits. Max halted for a moment on one of Liz in his computer chair, sitting with it turned backwards. He could see white shorts peeking out from under the floating chair back, but her shoulders were bare.

"Those are my boxers, aren't they?" he smiled, remembering how sexy the loose fabric looked on her.

"Yep, and before you ask, that is all I was wearing," she added saucily.

Max exhaled forcefully. "If your goal was to turn me on then let me tell you, it's working."

"I can see that," Liz purred, rubbing a hand quickly over his groin and delighting in his hardness.

"Liz," he groaned, capturing her lips in a deep kiss that left them both breathless.

"Only a few more, Max. I want you to look at all of them."

"My pleasure," he declared with a mischievous smile. Max shifted and continued turning the pages, only to stop again at a photo of Liz submerged in bubbles in her bathtub. Her hair piled messily on top of her head, her legs resting along opposite edges of the tub, open, and her hands…he realized that he could see only one hand; the other was below the waterline. From the dreamy expression on her face and her parted lips, Max could guess what the missing hand was supposedly doing. His temperature skyrocketed.

"Uh, Liz? Were you really…?" he trailed off, his voice cracking a little.

"Wouldn't you like to know?" she taunted then relented. "Not really. A tiny bit, because Maria kept telling me I didn't look orgasmic enough."

"Oh. Well, you look—uncannily accurate in the finished product," he told her huskily.

"You'd be the expert," Liz rejoined, thrilling that Max was so open to her photographs. She had been worried that he would think she was completely wanton and close himself off to the experience. Lord knew she'd been terrified when Maria had first starting clicking off shots. As deeply as she and Max were bonded, they still had a lot to learn about each other.

"I do," Max muttered, flipping pages again. She gave him a quizzical look and he smiled shyly. "You're leaking. I just meant, I do think you're—wanton, and I love that about you. It's so natural, and it makes me comfortable with my own impulses."

Unable to think of anything to say to that, Liz leaned closer and kissed him, her tongue twining with his. Max groaned and slid his hand into her hair, his other hand kneading her thigh. Then he broke the kiss quickly with an annoyed grunt, reaching to catch the photo album before it slid all the way off his lap.

"Sorry," he apologized, breathing heavily.

"Mmm, don't apologize. Just finish looking at the photos so I can kiss you in peace," Liz laughed.

"I don't think there's going to be anything peaceful about it," Max warned.

"All the better," she smiled.

"OK, where was I? Right, the bubbles," his voice was unsteady. The sensual black and white images of Liz were slowly driving him crazy. Knowing that she had been thinking of him the entire time she'd posed for them was heady.

Max flipped up to the bubble bath photo again and quickly went on by, looking at the last few pictures in the album. In a couple of minutes he reached the final one and his mind went blank.

Liz stood facing his window, looking back over her shoulder at the camera. He knew they'd taken the photos in the daytime, but in the black and white view before him it appeared as if moonlight streamed into his room. Liz's face was half in shadow, her right hand holding part of her hair up while the rest cascaded over the back of her neck, obscuring the collar of the white, man's dress shirt she wore. Max's shirt. Her left hand was on her bare hip, elbow angled across her back as she twisted, and the light from the half-open window shone through the tissue-thin fabric of the shirt, illuminating the curve of one perfect breast. He could see the hard point of her nipple pushing at the fabric and Max became aware that his breathing had grown harsh.

Slack-jawed and drooling, Liz thought in glee. That was how she'd describe his reaction to Maria. She watched as he put the album back in the box and shoved it under his bed again, and then he turned to her, his eyes molten with desire. Liz's breath caught in her throat and she lifted her arms.

"The wrap is separate from the dress," was all she said, shivering at the blazing fire her words engendered. Carefully Max pulled off the crocheted wrap, placing it on his chair, then his nimble fingers went to work on her dress and in moments Liz stood naked before him. He wasted no time in stripping off his own clothing. The instant they were both nude, Max swept her into his arms and lowered her to the bed.

"You are so beautiful," he murmured between kisses, his hands eagerly charting her curves. His body was screaming at him to just take her but Max held back, not wanting to rush her.

Liz could feel his restraint and didn't want any part of it. «Max, you don't have to censor yourself. You make me crazy, too. I'm ready for you»

With that he groaned, and Liz emitted an undignified squeak as she found herself in motion. Max swung her up while he rolled onto his back, and her thighs parted easily over his hips when he brought her down, sheathing himself in her wet heat. She exclaimed softly in surprise and satisfaction both.

"Sh," he hushed her with a smile. «We're supposed to be quiet, remember?»

«You took me by surprise. You're usually—well, on top when you're in this kind of mood»

His laughter reverberated inside her head. «So I am. For some reason, tonight I have this urge to look at you» Max said tenderly.

Liz wet her lips with her tongue, feeling kind of self-conscious as she began to move, her hips undulating. But the way Max looked at her, so full of love, soothed her fears and she picked up speed, leaning back and closing her eyes. Abandoning herself to the sensation of her mate inside her.

Max was convinced that there was nothing more gorgeous in the universe than Liz in the full flush of desire. He bent his knees a little, giving him better leverage, and slowly sat upright to take one wonderfully firm, pink nipple in his mouth. Liz's eyes flew open and he winked at her. «Looking isn't enough. I want to touch»

She nodded jerkily then her head dropped back as she arched even more, offering her breasts. Max took full advantage. He licked and sucked at her creamy flesh, biting the rosy peaks gently until Liz couldn't take it anymore.

«MAX!» she screamed out in his mind; her only external cry a taken breath. Buried deep inside her, held fast by the powerful contractions of her muscles, Max could only hang onto Liz and gasp her name as he, too, flew over the edge.

They clung together for an endless moment before Max raised one hand to smooth Liz's hair away from her face, one side of his mouth quirking up when he found it damp with sweat. Still locked into each other's souls from their lovemaking, nonetheless he spoke aloud to tell her, "I absolutely love the album, Liz, and every photo is incredible, totally sexy, but they can't compare to the real thing. I love you."

Tears blurred Liz's vision until she closed her eyes to kiss him lingeringly, leaning her forehead against his once her lips relinquished their hold on his mouth. "I love you. Happy eighteenth, Max."











posted on 1-Aug-2002 8:37:30 PM by Tasyfa
Love you all but can't stop to chat--ISP probs again!! Grrr. In 2 posts for extreme length, though.*wink*
hugs, Tas

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
FROM PART 35

Max flipped up to the bubble bath photo again and quickly went on by, looking at the last few pictures in the album. In a couple of minutes he reached the final one and his mind went blank.

Liz stood facing his window, looking back over her shoulder at the camera. He knew they'd taken the photos in the daytime, but in the black and white view before him it appeared as if moonlight streamed into his room. Liz's face was half in shadow, her right hand holding part of her hair up while the rest cascaded over the back of her neck, obscuring the collar of the white, man's dress shirt she wore. Max's shirt. Her left hand was on her bare hip, elbow angled across her back as she twisted, and the light from the half-open window shone through the tissue-thin fabric of the shirt, illuminating the curve of one perfect breast. He could see the hard point of her nipple pushing at the fabric and Max became aware that his breathing had grown harsh.

Slack-jawed and drooling, Liz thought in glee. That was how she'd describe his reaction to Maria. She watched as he put the album back in the box and shoved it under his bed again, and then he turned to her, his eyes molten with desire. Liz's breath caught in her throat and she lifted her arms.

"The wrap is separate from the dress," was all she said, shivering at the blazing fire her words engendered. Carefully Max pulled off the crocheted wrap, placing it on his chair, then his nimble fingers went to work on her dress and in moments Liz stood naked before him. He wasted no time in stripping off his own clothing. The instant they were both nude, Max swept her into his arms and lowered her to the bed.

"You are so beautiful," he murmured between kisses, his hands eagerly charting her curves. His body was screaming at him to just take her but Max held back, not wanting to rush her.

Liz could feel his restraint and didn't want any part of it. «Max, you don't have to censor yourself. You make me crazy, too. I'm ready for you»

With that he groaned, and Liz emitted an undignified squeak as she found herself in motion. Max swung her up while he rolled onto his back, and her thighs parted easily over his hips when he brought her down, sheathing himself in her wet heat. She exclaimed softly in surprise and satisfaction both.

"Sh," he hushed her with a smile. «We're supposed to be quiet, remember?»

«You took me by surprise. You're usually—well, on top when you're in this kind of mood»

His laughter reverberated inside her head. «So I am. For some reason, tonight I have this urge to look at you» Max said tenderly.

Liz wet her lips with her tongue, feeling kind of self-conscious as she began to move, her hips undulating. But the way Max looked at her, so full of love, soothed her fears and she picked up speed, leaning back and closing her eyes. Abandoning herself to the sensation of her mate inside her.

Max was convinced that there was nothing more gorgeous in the universe than Liz in the full flush of desire. He bent his knees a little, giving him better leverage, and slowly sat upright to take one wonderfully firm, pink nipple in his mouth. Liz's eyes flew open and he winked at her. «Looking isn't enough. I want to touch»

She nodded jerkily then her head dropped back as she arched even more, offering her breasts. Max took full advantage. He licked and sucked at her creamy flesh, biting the rosy peaks gently until Liz couldn't take it anymore.

«MAX!» she screamed out in his mind; her only external cry a taken breath. Buried deep inside her, held fast by the powerful contractions of her muscles, Max could only hang onto Liz and gasp her name as he, too, flew over the edge.

They clung together for an endless moment before Max raised one hand to smooth Liz's hair away from her face, one side of his mouth quirking up when he found it damp with sweat. Still locked into each other's souls from their lovemaking, nonetheless he spoke aloud to tell her, "I absolutely love the album, Liz, and every photo is incredible, totally sexy, but they can't compare to the real thing. I love you."

Tears blurred Liz's vision until she closed her eyes to kiss him lingeringly, leaning her forehead against his once her lips relinquished their hold on his mouth. "I love you. Happy eighteenth, Max."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
*****NEW PART 36*****

"He wasn't like, actually, physically, drooling was he? Because that's like gross," Maria wrinkled her nose and Liz giggled.

"No, Maria, he was not actually drooling. It's merely an expression," she rolled her eyes at her friend's literal interpretation tendencies.

"Just checking," Maria defended herself.

"You know what the best part of the whole thing was?"

"The fabulous sex?"

"Funny, Maria. Well, maybe, but that's not what I was thinking about," Liz laughed. "I meant this morning. It was freeing, to just waltz out of Max's room and have nobody blink an eye, like I belonged there."

Maria sighed. "As opposed to being assaulted with a newspaper like Michael was when he stayed at my house that time. And we didn't even do anything!"

"Yeah," Liz smiled. "It was just so nice. I think what made it feel special wasn't so much that his parents accept our relationship, but that they know what it really means, you know? They know now that Max is only half human and how the two of us are linked together. More or less," she winked.

"I'm guessing you were slightly less than forthcoming about the gory details?" Maria assumed, amused.

"Absolutely," Liz confirmed. "They don't want to know, and we don't want to talk about it. It works very well. Are you finished with my hair yet?" she craned her neck to try to see the back of her head in her dresser mirror. Maria slapped her back down into the chair.

"You'll wreck it! I'm almost done poking you, don't worry," she deftly inserted a few more pins into the artfully arranged curls tumbling from the crown of Liz's head then stepped back. "Voilà!"

Allowed to move now, Liz angled to see what her hair looked like. She liked the way Maria had pinned it, half up with curls that might even last the night. She closed her eyes obediently as Maria sprayed a generous amount of hairspray over her head, thinking that Max would be sorry if he tried to run his fingers through her hair tonight, with the amount of goop in it. He'd survive.

"Thank you. It's so much neater and faster when you do it," Liz hugged her friend.

"But of course, ma chérie," Maria exclaimed in a terrible French accent. She winked, "Even our otherworldly friends don't have eyes in the back of their heads."

Liz giggled, remembering Max teasing her about that very thing. "Don't make me sorry I tell you everything, woman," she mock threatened.

"As if. You'd explode if you had to keep it all to yourself, girlfriend."

"I know I would. I love you Maria."

"Right back at ya. OK, time to get dressed," she ordered, squeezing Liz's arm with a grin. The two women shed their bathrobes and pulled on the outfits that lay waiting across Liz's bed.

"So, are you planning on staying close to Michael tonight?" Liz asked as she slipped into her sleeveless blouse.

"Not especially. Why, did you hear something I didn't?" Maria wanted to know.

"Only that people are sort of thinking of this as Michael's coming out party," she answered distractedly, trying to close the tiny hook and eye at the waistband of her skirt.

"His what? Do they not notice that I'm female?"

"Oh, no, Maria, not that kind of coming out party! I meant like his entrance into society. His, um, debutante ball, if you will," Liz grinned at the idea of Michael in a ball gown. There would definitely have to be ruffles involved.

Maria giggled, evidently following Liz's train of thought with ease. Then she sobered a little, looking inquisitively at Liz. "I suppose then that you've heard the same kinds of things about Michael that I have about Max this week. They're probably being careful not to say anything around the girlfriends, but the cross-pollination of information between you and me wouldn't have occurred to them," she said dryly, her disdainful tone indicating her opinion of the intellect of most of the girls that attended West Roswell High.

"If you mean the prevailing belief that this party is their way of looking for a little something on the side, yes I have," Liz's tone echoed Maria's. "I'd rather like to see someone try to pull that crap on Max. Might be fun to watch him shoot her down."

"I guess."

"Maria, don't tell me you're having doubts again," Liz said exasperatedly. "Michael's done everything but bend over backwards to convince you he loves you."

"Except commit," Maria muttered darkly.

"He's scared is all. He should be. So should you, Maria. Lifebonding isn't something to take lightly."

"You think I'm taking it lightly?" she sounded slightly hurt.

"Not exactly, but…not seriously enough. I don't think you fully understand how—altering—it is," Liz said pensively.

"How could I? Michael and I barely connect when he actually lets me in at all. How can I not look at yours and Max's relationship and see how wonderfully close you are, and not want that with Michael?"

"Good point," she conceded. Liz thought for a second. "Maria, how about if I try to connect with you? You could at least experience it that way, understand what I'm talking about."

"Do you think you could?" she asked excitedly.

"Only way to find out is to try it," Liz steered her friend into the chair. She stood in front of Maria and placed her hands on either side of the other woman's face, staring into her eyes. "Now, just breathe deeply and try to empty your mind, OK?"

"OK," Maria echoed, obediently taking deep breaths. Liz focused on the startlingly bright green of her irises, settling herself and reaching out with her mind.

It felt as though the bottom had dropped out of the world. For one long moment, everything went black and silent, and then the color and sound rushed back in, alongside Maria's essence. Liz could feel her delight and concentrated on a favorite shared memory, a summer picnic they had gone on many years ago with Alex. It had been the first time that Alex and Maria had tried to collaborate on their music, taking turns playing the guitar and teasing Liz that she shouldn't aspire to be more than the back-up singer. Impressions of the day flashed back and forth between the two women like lightning, too fast for words though they were nonetheless comprehended in speech patterns and emotions both. Maria's energy swirled around Liz in dizzying spirals and starbursts of joy, and with a gasp Liz broke the connection.

"Wow, you're strong," she told Maria.

"What? Strong how?"

"You have a lot of energy, I mean a lot. It's so—bright," Liz groped for an explanation.

«Liz? What's going on?» Max's concerned mindvoice cut in. She sighed; she'd forgotten that he would be able to tell she was doing something with her own energy.

«Nothing, Max. You should tell Michael that he's missing out by not connecting with his girlfriend more often» Liz told him impishly.

«So, is that what was producing the high-wattage light bulb effect? You connected with Maria?» he sounded amused now.

«Yes. It was like…sitting in a rainbow, Max! I wasn't prepared for that. You're so much more—mellow» she said diplomatically. At least, that's what she tried for, but Max saw through it effortlessly and laughed.

«Yeah, rub it in. Are you guys coming over soon? It's almost nine and hardly anyone is here»

Liz giggled, signaling to Maria to hold on just another second. «Well, you said it started at eight, right?»

«Yeah» he didn't get it.

«Is your sister there yet?»

«Are you kidding? Isabel would never go to a party on time—oh» he said sheepishly.

«Uh-huh. If it's ten-thirty and you still don't have party guests, then I'd start to worry. But yeah, we'll be there soon anyway, like the geeks we are» they both laughed.

«Have I mentioned recently how sexy I find geeks?»

«Go back to your party, Max. Don't forget to tell Michael what I said» Liz dimmed their conversation, in the equivalent to hanging up the phone. She felt Max smiling as his presence faded.

"I take it Max noticed you were doing something?" Maria asked, shaking her head. "I pity any daughters you guys have, man. He's more protective of you than your own parents."

"Yes, well, my parents also don't know that I lead an occasionally dangerous secret life, either," Liz deadpanned. "But I so know what you mean. Yeah, he noticed and poked his nose in. Very politely," she laughed. "He said it was like a bright light bulb had gone off in my head."

"O-ho, and the truth comes out! All these years we thought you were so smart, and it turns out that I was your brain all along," Maria teased.

"You're on a roll tonight," Liz smiled.

"Yes, I am. Unfortunately, my roll hasn't extended to thinking of something humiliating enough to satisfy Max and Michael without actually humiliating Isabel," she sighed.

"I can't think of anything, either, and we've been brainstorming about it all week. As soon as Kyle got on board, she was sunk. This stupid party is all I've heard about at school, thanks to his networking," Liz said disgustedly.

"Mmm, you have to give our boys their due. There were rumors and stuff flying even before Kyle stepped in."

"Which gets us right back to the side dishes."

"And making sure there aren't any," Maria laughed. "Considering that I had to tell Michael that the reason Courtney kept giving him "these looks" was because she wanted in his pants, I'm not overly worried about him being hit on. He probably won't even notice."

"Max will get more self-conscious than usual and withdraw into extreme politeness. Neither method is a particularly effective deterrent."

The two women looked at each other then Maria suggested, "Maybe we should go soon."

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

"Liz did say they were coming over soon," Max said reassuringly, even though that had been over an hour ago. The apartment had begun to fill with gyrating bodies, the stereo volume gradually increasing as more people crammed inside.

"Good. It'll be nice to see someone I know," Alex rolled his eyes.

"Where are they now?" Michael asked, exasperated. His idea of soon and Maria's didn't mesh very well.

"Kyle's, along with Isabel and Tess and I presume, Kyle. I guess they decided to come late with the "cool kids"," Max winked. "Alex, how come you're not over there?"

"Max, please. I could be dating the Queen of England and I'd still be a geek. Besides, it's altogether too much fun to see the expression on Michael's face when someone else pinches his ass."

"You're getting pinched?" Max swiveled to look at Michael. No wonder he was in a surly mood.

"What, you're not?"

"No, people keep running their hands over my arms. I'm wishing I'd worn long sleeves," he glanced down at his close-fitting black T-shirt and jeans.

"Why did you wear such a tight shirt then?" Michael asked.

"I can't help it, it's the way they're made. The next size up is enormous on me."

"That's what you get for being skinny and muscular. Michael and I don't have those problems, since I'm just skinny and he's just muscular," Alex told him.

"Whatever. I'm getting a drink. Want anything?" Michael offered.

"I'm good," Max politely refused and Alex shook his head. Michael took off into the crowd, wending his way towards the refrigerator for non-alcoholic refreshment. They'd already seen someone spike the large glass bowl of fruit punch that sat on the counter, surrounded by half-empty baskets of chips and pretzels. The serving containers had all been borrowed from Max's mother, with the exception of the purchased plastic beer glasses.

"It's going to be a long night," Max sighed.

"Sure, if you persist in being a self-pitying wallflower. Come on, Evans, let's get you onto the dance floor," Alex pushed him gently towards the writhing mass of people. Max looked askance at him, his gaze going back and forth between Alex's face and the partygoers moving to the frenetic beat.

"Alex, I only slow dance, and that only with women I know."

"And Maria granted you girlfriend status? She must be slipping. Let's go, Max."

Slowly but surely, Alex coaxed him into the crowd. Earlier, the three of them had pulled all the furniture in Michael's living room out to the perimeter of the room, leaving the center wide open. Max winced inwardly as he realized that the center was exactly where they were headed.

Once they reached wherever it was Alex wanted them to go, the music had changed to a smooth reggae rhythm. Alex got into it immediately, bouncing around like a madman and not caring in the slightest how he seemed to anyone else. Max, on the other hand, felt like he was under a giant spotlight. He shifted a bit, basically standing in place and sort of swaying. Gradually he realized that no one was paying any attention to either his half-hearted movements or Alex's wild enthusiasm and he started to loosen up a little, picking up his feet and letting the thick beat guide him. He wasn't going to win any prizes or anything, but Max was, in fact, dancing. He had to acknowledge that it actually felt good—free.

Alex grinned at him. "See? That wasn't so hard. Admit it, you're having a better time already."

"Yeah, it's OK," he nodded. Max didn't try to say anything else; it was getting more and more difficult to be heard over the thunder of the music. Instead he smiled back at Alex and let the music move him.






posted on 1-Aug-2002 8:39:07 PM by Tasyfa
"Looks like it's going well," Liz complimented Michael.

He shrugged. "Who knew this many people could cram into this place?"

"Where's Max?" she asked, scanning the room. Liz knew he was close, she could feel him, but she couldn't find him in the semi-darkness and the crowd.

"Dancing."

"He's what? With who?" there was an edge to Liz's voice.

"Whoa, down girl! Alex dragged him out in the middle there, somewhere," Michael made vague circling motions with his hand. Liz examined the people in the center of the impromptu dance floor more carefully. Sure enough, there he was, laughing at some insane move that Alex was attempting to pull off. Liz was long familiar with her friend's antics; it was the sight of Max that made her heart pound in her chest. He didn't use his arms much as he danced, moving with a lazy grace in an uncomplicated rhythm. Where had he learned—oh. Her face heated as she realized what sort of recent activities had enhanced the fluidity of his motion. Did she dance differently now, too?

"On the subject of missing significant others, where's Maria?"

"Right behind me," Liz replied distractedly, not hearing Michael chuckle at her.

"Is that Max out there?" Maria inquired incredulously as she arrived. At Liz's nod, she whistled. "Huh. I take back what I said about him not being sexy."

"Maria!" Michael exclaimed, aggrieved. She grinned and turned to him, pulling him close for a quick kiss.

"Not to worry, Spaceboy," Maria drawled. She looked like she was about to say more, but Michael cut her off with a serious kiss.

Liz smiled at her friends and returned to watching Max and Alex. She glanced over as she heard a low squeal of astonishment from Maria, in time to see Michael slip Maria's hands onto his buttocks. He pulled back to murmur, just loud enough that Liz could hear him, "My ass is yours."

Maria emitted another startled sound as Michael resumed kissing her, but Liz grinned as she noticed that her girlfriend didn't move her hands. Michael's tone nagged at her, though, and the probable cause suddenly dawned on her. Eyes narrowing, Liz swept her gaze over the dance area again, this time taking in who was close to Max. Kelly Carson, Andrea Sanchez, Jennifer McGovern…uh-huh. They could find their own damn aliens; Max was taken. And then some.

Liz paused long enough to remark to Michael and Maria that they should move it to his room, which made them break apart in mild embarrassment. She shook her head with a smile as she headed into the whirling crowd. Michael had one arm around Maria's shoulders as they stood side by side; she hadn't removed her hand from his butt. It was a good thing, Liz had to admit, musing that Michael's wanting to advertise their relationship would go a long way towards reassuring Maria. Liz didn't need any reassurances about Max's commitment. All the same, seeing other women openly admiring him got her hackles up.

She slipped easily through the crowd, coming up behind Max and gliding her hands down his arms. Liz wasn't prepared for his sudden jerk of shock, although he relaxed quickly enough and turned to face her with a smile.

"Hey. I knew you were here, somewhere. Too many people," he explained. She nodded; her radar was off some, too.

She couldn't resist needling him, though. "Expecting someone else to grab you?"

"Ah…" Max evaded and Liz laughed.

«I certainly understand how your arms ended up as the target» she caressed him appreciatively and Max coughed.

«Uh, thanks»

Liz smiled mischievously. «But they'd be pinching your butt too if any of them had ever seen you naked»

«Liz!» he yelped.

She merely slid her arms around his neck and offered up her lips. "Hi, Max."

He couldn't resist the temptation and kissed her, his tongue rubbing slowly against the sensitive tissue inside her mouth. Liz leaned in willingly as his arms snaked around her waist, pulling her flush to him; his hands rested dangerously low on her hips, just above the swell of her bottom. Caught up in the feel of his body, it took Liz a moment to notice that Max had them both moving to the rhythm of the music, swaying in a blood-stirring motion.

"We're dancing," she observed.

"Indeed," Max chuckled.

"You didn't used to like fast dancing."

"Alex convinced me that it didn't matter if I looked like an idiot," he laughed.

"Actually, you looked very sexy," Liz smiled.

"Really?"

Now she laughed; he sounded like a small boy seeking reassurance on his new clothing or something. "Absolutely," she murmured and kissed him again.

Heat flashed through Liz as they kissed, bodies crushed together, and she wanted more. It was that emerging desire that made her think about what they probably looked like, locked in an embrace in the middle of the dance area. She pulled back from the kiss but Max wouldn't release her hips.

«Max, we're demonstrating to practically the entire student body that we have carnal knowledge of each other» she said acidly.

Her breath hitched at his slow, cocksure smile. It was an expression that was growing familiar as their bond deepened and Max's certainty of her feelings became internalized. While his smug assurance of her desire for him occasionally irritated Liz, more often it set her on fire. And he knew it.

«I don't care if you don't»

«Max» she protested.

«Well, I don't. You're mine» he kissed her gently. «And I'm yours. There are a number of people here who need that hammered into their heads» he said wryly.

Liz giggled. She thought disappointedly that she'd better extricate herself from his arms now, before she completely lost herself in need for him.

"As nice as this is, Max, I really just came over to say hello. We're having a girls' night at this party," she explained.

"What?" he blinked in confusion and Liz laughed.

"This is yours and Michael's party, dear. We decided to leave you guys alone to play host and whatnot," she smiled at the increasing panic on his face.

"What? Why?"

"So we don't interfere," Liz winked and Max's expression changed to one of comprehension. He understood that the women's decision had been made so that they didn't influence whether or not the party was a success.

"Fine," he sighed exaggeratedly. "But I'll find you later." His eyes darkened with unmistakable desire and helplessly Liz felt her body respond, pressing even closer to Max as he dropped a brief kiss on her lips. Then he let her go, and stepped back. Suddenly bereft of his warmth, nevertheless Liz smiled at him and went to find Maria, Isabel and Tess.

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

"I don't know how much more of this I can take," Michael muttered morosely. Max glanced over at him, nodding in agreement. The two men sat on the doorstep of Michael's open patio door. Max put his head down on his crossed arms, resting against his drawn up knees.

"Me neither. I actually have a headache," he complained.

Michael looked at him, evaluating Max's mood, and abruptly he stood up. "That's it. I've had enough," he announced.

"What? What are you going to do, tell everyone to leave?" Max asked incredulously.

"That's exactly what I'm going to do," Michael was determined as he headed inside. Max stood up and watched in disbelief as he chased all the people crammed into his place out into the darkness of the early morning, berating them verbally when they protested and physically threatening the few diehards. When the room was empty, Michael collapsed on the couch with a deep sigh.

"Wait, where are our friends?" Max realized that he and Michael were the only ones in the room.

"I don't care right now," Michael asserted tiredly. His head whipped towards his bedroom at a loud feminine moan. Max grimaced; apparently someone had taken advantage of the closed door. Michael rose from the couch and pounded on the door of his room.

"Party's over! Get the hell out of my bed!"

A couple of minutes later, a disheveled couple hastily exited the apartment. Max caught Michael's gaze and they both began to laugh.

"Oh my God, what a night," Max groaned as he sat down.

"Tell me about it. I am never, never having another party. Never. Look at this mess! And how am I supposed to sleep in my bed, knowing some random couple was screwing on it? I haven't even done that!"

For some reason, that struck Max as supremely humorous and he practically howled in laughter. Michael's lips twitched in protest before he reluctantly joined in.

"I guess it is kind of funny," he admitted.

"It's freaking hilarious," Isabel announced as she and the rest of the gang filed into the apartment, some of them holding pizza boxes. "We saw the fleeing masses."

"Thought you might be hungry," Maria smiled, going over to Michael and handing him a box. Liz handed another to Max, and Kyle placed the third on the counter, cracking it open as Alex passed out napkins. Tess turned on a radio station that played slow, mellow music, adjusting the volume so that it was just barely audible. After the pounding dance rhythms, the music she chose was wonderfully soothing and Max smiled at her gratefully.

"Eat," Liz urged and Max willingly complied, taking a couple of pieces of pizza before passing the box back to Liz. She served herself then placed the box on the floor beside the couch. The room was silent for a few minutes while the group ate.

"So," Kyle spoke first, his tone deceptively casual. "I believe there's the little matter of a bet to settle."

Michael chuckled arrogantly. "I think it's pretty much a given that we won, Valenti."

"I don't agree," Maria remarked. "Liz?"

"You know, I don't agree either," she smiled. Max narrowed his eyes suspiciously. How could they not agree? It had been a runaway success!

"Mind telling us what the issue is, since I thought it went well?" Alex asked, baffled.

"Well, since you asked, part of having a truly successful gathering of people is that those hosting said gathering have as good a time as their guests. Going by their repeated expressions of discontent, Max and Michael did not have fun, therefore they don't pass," Tess explained gleefully.

Max glanced around the room, noting that the other three guys were equally confused and outraged, while the four women were…smug. Definitely smug. He started to get a bad feeling about the outcome of this. How could Michael have chosen Liz to have the final decision? Especially after they'd both royally pissed her off? He protested aloud, "There were moments of fun."

"Moments don't count, my dear brother. We heard every word you two said just before we came in here, about never wanting to have another party. So, time to pay up, boys. Liz? Describe the punishment, please," Isabel requested loftily.

Liz's eyes sparkled as she spoke. "Well, since your guests did have a good time even if you two didn't, w—I've decided that more, um, private humiliation is appropriate in this situation." Max caught her little slip but didn't get a chance to call her on it before she continued, "So what I've chosen is the following. Maria and I, being yearbook staff, have access to both a great camera and uninterrupted time in the school darkroom. She would like some pictures of Michael, and I would like some of Max. Your punishment, so to speak, is to pose for these photos exactly as we tell you to."

Michael inquired, "So, like that picture you gave Max yesterday, of you sleeping? I can do that."

Liz coughed. "Um, a little more risqué than that, Michael." Her gaze slid to Max and she winked unobtrusively. It crashed in on him that she meant photos in the same vein as his private birthday album, and he choked momentarily on his pizza. He couldn't do that. He'd feel ridiculous, not sexy at all.

"How risqué?" Max got out.

"Oh, don't worry, we're not talking full frontal nudity or anything, Max," Maria answered breezily. "We were thinking, something along the lines of you guys going shirtless and doing something sweaty. Gardening, maybe. In either Max's back yard or mine, where there's some privacy, of course."

"You can't be serious," Michael said flatly.

"I'm perfectly serious, Michael. You made me the judge and jury yourself, remember?" Liz reminded him sweetly.

There was a long moment of silence, which was obliterated by Kyle's derisive laughter.

"You two have been toast from the minute Michael said, "Gauntlet." She so set you up!" he crowed.

Max sighed; he could tell from Liz's expression and what he could feel from her that Kyle was right. They'd left a loophole open and Liz had used it ruthlessly, apparently with a lot of help. "Girls' night," indeed! Plotting to overthrow was more like it.

«In principle, it can't have been plotting to overthrow because I share that throne» Liz teased. Great, he'd been leaking.

«Oh, so now you want to cry royalty» he rejoined. «I'm not sure I even want to know how you arrived at this decision»

«You're right, you don't. Just go with the flow here, love» she sounded entirely too cheerful and Max suppressed a groan. They were stuck. He brightened at a sudden idea.

"All right. Michael and I will…pose," he winced visibly, causing his friends to laugh, "on one condition."

"You lost! You can't set conditions. Can he?" Tess asked Liz.

Max answered first. "We lost by a technicality, and you know it. We might not have had the best time, but it was a good party. So, my condition is that since we sort of won and lost, then Liz and Maria have to do a collection of photographs of Isabel too, to be given to Alex." He knew how private his sister was, and she and Alex hadn't been back together all that long, even if things seemed to be going well. Maybe she wouldn't—he stopped his internal monologue at the speaking look that Isabel and Alex exchanged. Crap.

"Deal," Isabel agreed silkily. "But just for the record, I will not be going shirtless or doing anything sweaty."

"Damn!" Alex exclaimed and they all laughed. The stakes set, the group drifted into couples, each conversing quietly as they polished off the remaining pizza.



Liz leaned back into Max, smiling when he wrapped an arm around her without hesitation in spite of the set-up.

"You have a devious mind," he accused.

"It's been honed by all the sneaking around we've done in the last couple of years," Liz replied flippantly. His arm tightened on her shoulders.

"Yeah," Max agreed thoughtfully.

"Don't go guilt-tripping on me, Max," she warned. "I wouldn't want to be anywhere other than where I am now, no matter what."

"I know that, actually," there was a tinge of wonder in his voice and Liz twisted to look up at him.

"You do?"

"Uh-huh," he affirmed, smoothing a stray lock of hair from her forehead. «Just like while I'm kind of uncomfortable with having my picture taken, I'm very curious to experience your response»

"Max," Liz blushed slightly. "You're so bad."

"No, sweetness. What I am is sure. Sure that you love me; sure that you want me; sure that you'll be with me forever," Max whispered tenderly.

"You know me so well," she murmured, her fingertips tracing his jaw as he leaned closer and kissed her briefly.

"And I look forward to getting to know you even better, over the next few decades," he smiled. Liz returned Max's smile and kissed his cheek before settling back into his arms, leaning against his chest in perfect contentment. She strained her ears to catch the muffled conversations around her, somehow not surprised when her senses sharpened in response to her efforts and she could hear each couple's murmured words.

"Isabel, you didn't have to agree, you know," Alex spoke cautiously, trying not to offend her.

"I know that," Isabel smiled.

"Not that I don't appreciate that you did agree. I mean, I'll treasure the results until my dying day," he waggled his eyebrows leeringly and she giggled, her smile becoming sly.

"So what color lingerie do you like, Alex?"

"Lingerie?" his eyes rounded and Isabel laughed again then sobered a little.

"Alex, I—I don't think I can do the same kind of photos. We—we haven't been…intimate, yet," a rarely seen vulnerability infused her expression.

"Neither have Michael and Maria," he pointed out.

"Yeah, but…"

"I know. It's OK, Izzy, you do whatever you feel comfortable doing. If that means standing in the middle of your living room wearing a parka and snow pants, so be it. I'll still treasure them," Alex drew light fingertips across her cheek and she turned into the caress.

"You always know the right thing to say," she smiled luminously.

He grinned. "Side effect of being a lifelong girlfriend."

"I guess so," Isabel shrugged. "But I like having you as a boyfriend." She kissed his cheek, sighing drowsily as she rested her head on his shoulder. Liz's throat tightened at the look of protective joy that flitted across Alex's face at Isabel's assertion, and then her attention wandered to the next couple.

"You realize that we're the only photo-free pair now, right?" Kyle tugged absently at one of Tess's curls, which had slipped free of her low ponytail and now waved over his shoulder irresistibly.

"Does that bother you?" she asked, amused.

He snorted. "Uh, no. I have no need for abject humiliation in my life."

Tess smacked his arm. "I think it's sweet. Besides," she cast a sidelong glance at him and finished, "maybe I'll pose for you someday."

Kyle cleared his throat. "K, now the old jeans feel a little more snug, Tess," he rolled his eyes and they both laughed.

She ran one hand down his arm, shifting to hide her face in his shoulder. "I love you, Kyle."

The declaration caught him off guard and he began to stammer a response, until she shook her head and looked at him. "I know I don't say it often, but I do. Loving you, lifebonding with you…it's made me human. I don't have to hide who I am when I'm with you."

His eyes softened and he tipped up her chin with a gentle hand. "All kidding aside, you know I feel the same way, right?"

"Yes, I do," Tess smiled. Her smile grew mischievous. "So, were you planning on kissing me anytime soon?"

"Whatever you want, china girl," Kyle hauled her closer as she laughed.

"Kyle, I am not Chinese, nor am I that pale!"

"It's not how pale you are, Tess, although you do look like you shouldn't be casting a reflection," he ducked with the ease of long practice, grinning, as she went to poke him in the nose. "It's that your skin is so perfectly translucent, like a porcelain doll's. The bright blue eyes and blonde mane don't hurt the image, either." He tugged again at the persistently appealing curl.

"Oh," Tess breathed, her poking hand sliding compliantly around his neck. Smile firmly in place, Kyle bent to kiss her.

Liz sniffled quietly, feeling Max's amusement at her sappy mood but satisfied to simply let it be. It struck her as extraordinarily poignant that caring for Kyle should make Tess feel the way that caring for Liz made Max feel: accepted and loved for their true selves. And while doubt that they were all doing the right thing, relationship-wise, had long since fled, it was nice to have that confirmation every once in a while.

A surge of possessiveness mingled with unease caught her attention from across the room, and Liz turned her ears on her cousin from her former life, and her best friend in any life, hiding a smile at what she heard first in their ongoing conversation.

"So you really want half-naked photos of me, huh? What for?" Michael asked irritably.

Maria fluttered her eyelashes at him blatantly. "To drool over," she answered matter-of-factly.

"Excuse me?"

She giggled. "Michael, I happen to think that you're gorgeous. And," she paused, taking a deep breath. "I'd kind of like to see you more than half-naked.. Not in the photos," she held up a hand to forestall his protests. "Just, you know, regular naked."

"Regular naked. Maria, you've seen that before. I'll parade around nude if you want me to, but it ain't new."

"This is different," she tried to explain.

"How so?" he demanded, puzzled.

Maria closed her eyes briefly as if asking for strength. "You know what I mean, Michael; what I…want." Her eyes met his determinedly and the confusion gradually faded from his face, replaced by a glimmer of awe that felt much stronger than it looked.

"Oh. Oh. You do?" he asked, the question somehow sounding humble.

"Yes," she said firmly.

"Even though it's permanent?" Michael pressed.

"Yes," Maria nodded sharply for emphasis.

He sat back a little, giving the impression that he was reeling. "Wow. I never thought—I figured you wouldn't want to anymore, once we found out it was like, for life."

"You were wrong," she informed him. They stared at each other, frozen for a minute, and then Maria offered with a weak smile, "It's OK if you're not ready, Michael. I wasn't suggesting that we leave the room immediately or anything."

"No, no that's not it. I—did you know that one of the reasons I usually walk you home instead of driving is so I can wander around afterwards, trying to work the edge off the hunger?" Michael admitted quietly.

She slanted him a coy look. "Does it work?"

"Barely enough to bother," one corner of his mouth lifted in a crooked smile. "Maria, I was holding out for you. I want you so bad I can taste it most days. And—OK, yeah, I'd be lying if I said that the forever part didn't scare the crap out of me, but I'll deal. Hell, you'll make me deal! If that's really what you want."

"It is," she affirmed, love shining in her eyes. Awkwardly Michael brushed her long hair away from her face, the tender gesture seeming hesitant and new, then he leaned in close and kissed Maria. When they pulled apart, both were breathing audibly faster.

Michael flashed a full-blown smile that rapidly degenerated into his trademark smirk. "Unfortunately, tonight is definitely out since my bedroom's been defiled."

Maria giggled, tracing a line down the side of his face and neck, slipping her fingers through the long hair at his nape and combing out its slight tendency to curl. Her smile was full of promise. "We'll see about that."

They kissed again and Liz shifted her focus to her lifemate, tilting her face up to receive a loving kiss of her own. Max gladly obliged and she snuggled closer, listening to his heartbeat, hearing its echo in each of the three other couples in the room. It was a glorious feeling, all the love surrounding her.

So then why, in the midst of this calm happiness, this normality, did Liz sense that this respite was just a break in the storm?







posted on 2-Aug-2002 9:57:26 PM by Tasyfa
Tiger Thanks a ton, babe!*big* Yeah, I need to get my mind off that too sigh. I passed the travel agency this morning where I bought my plane ticket last year and it was just too depressing for words!
hugs, Tas
posted on 27-Sep-2002 11:48:02 PM by Tasyfa
Awwww! Razz, darlin, I'm almost done RG and then I plan to devote myself to this one.*happy* Promise.
hugs, Tas
posted on 5-Nov-2002 6:13:16 PM by Tasyfa
Author's Note
So we all know what's going on LOL! I've completed my other fic, Reawakening, and posted a vignette as well, The Bitter Dregs. The plan is to buckle down and focus on this now.*happy* I love you all for sticking with me through the fits and starts, and believe me I know it's been a pain!! For me, too. But I'm working hard on the next chapter and I know what all I am doing from here right through to the end, so I'm hoping for relatively smooth sailing.*wink* (For those of you reading my UC fic, Full Circle, I will be working on that as well.)

I'm tickled pink to tell you that in the Fanatics Fanfic Awards, this fic was the runner-up for Sex Scene That Made You Go Whoa! and the winner for Most Passionate Max/Liz Lovemaking Scene. Smooches to everyone for voting for me.*big* Here's the runner-up banner:
runner-up

I don't have the winning banner yet, the poor fanartists have so many to make! But I'll post it when I do.*happy*
hugs, Tas

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 5-Nov-2002 6:17:23 PM ]
posted on 11-Nov-2002 1:29:29 AM by Tasyfa
FROM PART 36

Liz sniffled quietly, feeling Max's amusement at her sappy mood but satisfied to simply let it be. It struck her as extraordinarily poignant that caring for Kyle should make Tess feel the way that caring for Liz made Max feel: accepted and loved for their true selves. And while doubt that they were all doing the right thing, relationship-wise, had long since fled, it was nice to have that confirmation every once in a while.

A surge of possessiveness mingled with unease caught her attention from across the room, and Liz turned her ears on her cousin from her former life, and her best friend in any life, hiding a smile at what she heard first in their ongoing conversation.

"So you really want half-naked photos of me, huh? What for?" Michael asked irritably.

Maria fluttered her eyelashes at him blatantly. "To drool over," she answered matter-of-factly.

"Excuse me?"

She giggled. "Michael, I happen to think that you're gorgeous. And," she paused, taking a deep breath. "I'd kind of like to see you more than half-naked.. Not in the photos," she held up a hand to forestall his protests. "Just, you know, regular naked."

"Regular naked. Maria, you've seen that before. I'll parade around nude if you want me to, but it ain't new."

"This is different," she tried to explain.

"How so?" he demanded, puzzled.

Maria closed her eyes briefly as if asking for strength. "You know what I mean, Michael; what I…want." Her eyes met his determinedly and the confusion gradually faded from his face, replaced by a glimmer of awe that felt much stronger than it looked.

"Oh. Oh. You do?" he asked, the question somehow sounding humble.

"Yes," she said firmly.

"Even though it's permanent?" Michael pressed.

"Yes," Maria nodded sharply for emphasis.

He sat back a little, giving the impression that he was reeling. "Wow. I never thought—I figured you wouldn't want to anymore, once we found out it was like, for life."

"You were wrong," she informed him. They stared at each other, frozen for a minute, and then Maria offered with a weak smile, "It's OK if you're not ready, Michael. I wasn't suggesting that we leave the room immediately or anything."

"No, no that's not it. I—did you know that one of the reasons I usually walk you home instead of driving is so I can wander around afterwards, trying to work the edge off the hunger?" Michael admitted quietly.

She slanted him a coy look. "Does it work?"

"Barely enough to bother," one corner of his mouth lifted in a crooked smile. "Maria, I was holding out for you. I want you so bad I can taste it most days. And—OK, yeah, I'd be lying if I said that the forever part didn't scare the crap out of me, but I'll deal. Hell, you'll make me deal! If that's really what you want."

"It is," she affirmed, love shining in her eyes. Awkwardly Michael brushed her long hair away from her face, the tender gesture seeming hesitant and new, then he leaned in close and kissed Maria. When they pulled apart, both were breathing audibly faster.

Michael flashed a full-blown smile that rapidly degenerated into his trademark smirk. "Unfortunately, tonight is definitely out since my bedroom's been defiled."

Maria giggled, tracing a line down the side of his face and neck, slipping her fingers through the long hair at his nape and combing out its slight tendency to curl. Her smile was full of promise. "We'll see about that."

They kissed again and Liz shifted her focus to her lifemate, tilting her face up to receive a loving kiss of her own. Max gladly obliged and she snuggled closer, listening to his heartbeat, hearing its echo in each of the three other couples in the room. It was a glorious feeling, all the love surrounding her.

So then why, in the midst of this calm happiness, this normality, did Liz sense that this respite was just a break in the storm?


*****NEW PART 37*****

The tapping sound drew Max unwillingly out of slumber. He'd been having the most fantastic dream. As he woke more fully, he saw the time and scowled. This had better be good.

Max swung his legs out of bed and stood, yawning, to make his way to the window and let Michael in.

"What?" he demanded shortly.

"Hello to you, too! I'd forgotten just how grumpy you are when woken up." Michael climbed in. "Listen, Max, I need you to teach me to shield."

Huh? "Michael, we've been working on that for a while now. You've already got a small green shield. And why is that important at five o'clock in the morning, when I've gotten less than two hours of sleep?"

"Not that shield, the Jell-O thing. Jesus, I should have known that all her incessant talking meant that Maria was a motorbrain. If I can't shut her off and soon I may kill her," he blurted out, frustrated.

Max abruptly sat down on the bed. "Are you telling me that you and Maria had sex?"

"Made love, Maxwell, and yes," Michael bit out. Max suppressed a chuckle at Michael making such a distinction, but the urge to laugh faded as he thought that if it had been anything like his and Liz's first time, there was no mistaking the difference.

"How do you feel? Other than the chattering," Max half smiled. It became a full smile at Michael's snort of derision. "Hey, I had to play Twenty Questions!"

Michael shrugged in acknowledgement of the turned tables. "Yeah. It was…exactly like you said. Like coming home." A tinge of wonder colored his voice.

"Good." Max thought it sounded like it had been the right time for them, unlike the first time Michael and Maria had almost gone down that road. He sat for a moment longer then reached for the jeans and T-shirt he'd worn to the party. "I told my parents I would probably stay over at your place afterwards, so I'll just make it look like I never came home."

"Smart. We can push the Jeep down the road a little before you start the engine, too," he suggested.

"Good idea," Max nodded. Dressed, he held out a hand and concentrated, focusing his energy. The bedcovers slowly straightened out, reassuming their pristine appearance.

"Hospital corners, too. I'm impressed," Michael smirked. "How long have you been doing that?"

"Not that long—it was Liz's idea. It's a good exercise in control, and it's something harmless to practice on so it doesn't matter if I screw it up." He offered a lopsided grin. "The first time I did it, Iz had to repair my sheets."

"I'll keep that in mind when I try it."

«Max, are you awake?» Liz's mindvoice interrupted the discussion as Max and Michael climbed out the window.

Max had caught her flash of annoyance last night when he'd come knocking after her energy had spiked; he suppressed a laugh that she was doing it right back now. «I'm up. I'm on my way to Michael's»

«Oh, good, pick me up. Maria just called»

«Is she OK?»

Her words took on a feeling of laughter. «She's on cloud nine. I bet that Michael's getting an earful»

«Yes he is» Max chuckled. His friend had a slightly pained expression. «You don't really need to come, Liz. I can handle it. You can't have gotten any more sleep than I did»

«I didn't, but you might need me. You had some trouble learning how to shield, remember? Michael may, too, and I think Maria would be more comfortable connecting with me. Besides, this way we can teach them at the same time and get poor Michael some quiet that much faster»

Privately, he was glad she wanted to come. Max hadn't relished the idea of connecting with Maria in front of Michael, however innocently. He was possessive enough himself; Michael was positively territorial.

«Be there in a few then, sweetness»

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

Liz dropped into a cross-legged position in front of Maria, their knees touching. She took her friend's hands. "Ready?"

The question earned her a brilliant smile. "Yep. Whenever you are."

The two women synchronized their breathing, staring at each other, and then Liz was in.

Electric spirals of dancing colors buffeted her immediately. That alleviates any doubt that Maria's not thrilled about lifebonding to Michael, she thought wryly to herself.

[[You had doubts?]]

Green eyes displayed as incredulous an expression as Liz felt. [[You heard that?]] she projected carefully at Maria.

[[Yeah, I heard you. Shouldn't I have?]] she sounded concerned. Relief crashed over Liz. It was the same kind of telepathic link she and Isabel shared: words only. Not the total sharing she experienced with Max.

[[I wasn't expecting it, but that's all right. I guess now that you're—you know, we can talk this way.]]

[[Now that I'm not a virgin?]] Maria supplied with a laugh.

[[Exactly. So, anyway, this is what you need to do]] Liz explained the shielding basics, showing Maria how to form it and how to change the strength. Maria caught on fast, building her shield up to solid glass and back down to a thin layer of gelatin. [[Good, you've got it. Um, I think maybe you should keep it pretty hard for now. Just soft enough for emergencies and really strong emotions to get through]]

[[Because Michael's not used to all this intimacy? Yeah, I thought of that. Neither one of us needs to have him freak out]] she winked.

[[I'm going to break the connection now, and see how Max and Michael are doing]] Liz warned before withdrawing from Maria's mind.

The two women blinked and then hugged, attracting attention from the room's other occupants.

"Did we miss something?" Michael asked.

"Well, I know how to shield, and Liz and I had a conversation," Maria replied.

"Isabel and I don't need to be connected to talk, so you and I can work on it and see if we're the same or what," Liz said in an undertone then looked at Max. He was a little worried about this turn of events; she could feel it.

"It's OK, Max. How are you guys doing?"

"Shitty," Michael groaned. "Although I can feel the difference from Maria. But Max sucks at explaining this."

"Thanks, Michael," Max rolled his eyes. "I didn't get it either. Maria would you show him how, please? It made a lot more sense to me when I could feel the difference as Liz was demonstrating, and I think that would work better for Michael, too."

"Sure, I can do that. Michael?"

"You've already seen everything, it makes little difference now," he sighed and rubbed his temple. Liz and Maria exchanged an amused glance. Maria went to sit in front of Michael, but kissed his cheek before taking her place. He offered her a small smile and they linked hands.

Max helped Liz to her feet while they waited. "So, you can speak to Maria now?"

"Yeah. And probably Michael as well. Can you feel her?" She leaned back into his embrace, smiling when he nuzzled her.

"I can," he confirmed. "I didn't think to look for it, but there's a definite 'Maria' spot on my radar now. Hey, do you think you'll be able to talk to Tess and Kyle, too? Tess is still awake."

Liz traced her line to Kyle but didn't get very far before she stopped, her face warming at the overtones she sensed. "Ah, Kyle is still awake too, but I am definitely not interrupting."

"Oh," Max sounded surprised then he laughed. "I guess we qualify as the old married people then, since we're the only couple that actually went home and slept!"

Liz giggled and turned in his arms. "Guess so. Do you think we've lost all our excitement?" She looked up at him coyly.

"No," he denied it and bent to kiss her. His tongue slid into her mouth, his lips devouring hers as passion flared between them.

"Oh, Jesus, more PDAs. Is there something about my apartment that turns you two on?" Michael broke in.

Liz turned back around to face the other couple. "As a matter of fact, the fact that there are no parental units is very attractive."

"Point taken," he laughed. "Listen, guys, thanks for your help. Max, I'll just crawl through Liz's window next time." Michael waggled his eyebrows and Max laughed.

"I don't think so, my friend. But, uh—you might be able to call her yourself. You know, mentally."

Liz saw the guarded expression that came over Michael's face and reassured him, "It'll be like with Isabel and now Maria, like a conversation. Not like how you and Maria are. Max and I think that I should be able to communicate with you; we shouldn't have a block anymore, like the last time we tried. I should be able to reach Kyle and Tess, too; I simply didn't try with them before. I seem to be some kind of communications hub." She wasn't quite sure how she felt about that, but it was important, of that she was sure. The potential tactical applications didn't escape her notice, either, nor Michael's, she saw from his thoughtful look.

"Everyone else has been in my head tonight, so why not? Let's try it," he shrugged.

She moved closer and took his hand, looking into his eyes. Liz could feel that Michael was nervous but trying to stay open.

[[Michael?]]

Complete shock slackened his jaw for a moment. [[Liz? Wow, you sound exactly the same!]]

[[Won't be too tough to identify me, then. So, um, was it Technicolor?]] she asked mischievously, thinking of how riotous Maria's emotional state had appeared to her even when her friend had been calm.

Michael smirked. [[Yeah, I've been somewhere over the rainbow, all right]]

She broke the light connection with a gasp of laughter and he winked at her.

"So are you two OK with the shielding now? You got the snap and everything?" Max asked, smiling at Liz. She knew he knew what sort of question she'd asked Michael from both their behavior.

"That would be the elastic band moment, yes? Where your head feels like it's going to explode? We got that. And now, I love you both dearly but I want sleep!" Maria groaned. "Liz, I remember you telling me that it took a lot out of you. You were so right. We'll see you guys tomorrow, and thanks."

"It is tomorrow," Liz reminded her.

"Well, later then," she laughed.

"All right. Sweet dreams," Liz grinned. She took Max's hand and they left.

He yawned as they walked back to the Jeep. "You didn't by any chance tell your parents that you would be staying at Maria's tonight, did you?"

"I did, yes. You knew that. Why?" As funny as it had been to joke about, she was definitely too exhausted for anything interesting after that. Max didn't look real energetic, either.

"Come home with me. Not for sex; I'm too tired," he grinned as he started the engine. "But I want to hold you."

"What about your parents?"

"They know we're mated, remember?" He brought her hand to his mouth and brushed his lips over her knuckles. "As long as we don't make a habit of it, they're cool with it."

The idea of dozing off in Max's arms sounded like heaven. "Okay. But if your mother gives me a lecture about finding me in your bed again, you're going to pay for it."

"Deal," Max smiled.

Mrs. Evans was seated at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee when they entered. Liz smiled at her, keenly aware that Max had a firm grip on her hand. The older woman raised an eyebrow, but clearly saw how tired they both were.

"Max, give the poor girl a pair of your boxers and a T-shirt to sleep in, please. And leave the door unlocked," she said tranquilly, and went back to reading her magazine. Liz wanted to laugh at the surprise emanating from Max. He hadn't been as sure of this move as he'd sounded like.

Liz changed in the bathroom and placed her folded clothing on Max's dresser then collapsed onto the bed. Already under the covers, he pulled them back for her and drew her close.

"It's unbelievably wonderful to have you here with me and not have to feel secretive or guilty about it," he whispered as she settled against him.

"I know. I love wearing your shirts too," she smiled. Max chuckled and kissed her softly.

"And I love you. Night."

"Goodnight." Her head pillowed on the warm skin of his chest, Liz allowed herself to drift away.




posted on 12-Nov-2002 7:24:18 PM by Tasyfa
Confusion about Kyle.*wink* Liz assumed that the reason she could "talk" to Isabel is b/c she's Max's sister, therefore genetically linked. Which is why they thought she and Michael should be able to before, b/c they used to be related. But since neither of them is/was related to Kyle or Tess, no one thought of having Liz try to communicate with them until Maria's *cough* awakening showed that the phenomenon didn't rely entirely on genetics.

Unfortunately, that does mean that poor Alex is once again out of the loop. Sigh.
hugs, Tas
posted on 17-Nov-2002 5:03:35 PM by Tasyfa
Hi guys! Just wanted to let you know that I've got this monster posted in its entirety on the Fanfic Award Winners board.*big* You know, for those refreshers we all need from time to time!*wink*

AND, I've finally hosted the gorgeous banner that Electro-Kat made for me for this fic.*big* It's posted at the top of the first page.
hugs, Tas

[ edited 3 time(s), last at 7-Feb-2003 11:08:30 AM ]
posted on 25-Nov-2002 7:10:13 PM by Tasyfa
I'm aiming for the weekend for the next update, guys, assuming the rest of my week goes better than today did, ugh!*wink*
hugs, Tas
posted on 15-Dec-2002 2:08:51 AM by Tasyfa
Tiger Yes, I'm particularly fond of that "over the rainbow" remark myself.*big*

Yay a new chapter! I'd hoped to have this done like 2 weeks ago, but I got sidelined by a nasty flu bug.*sad* I'm back to being healthy again now, thank goodness! This will likely be the last update on this before Christmas, tho--too much RL stuff happening. I'm sure most of y'all have the same kind of thing going on!*happy*
hugs, Tas

Quick recap of last chapter: The night of the birthday party for Max, Michael and Maria made love and needed some immediate assistance in shield formation.*big* Liz went home with Max afterwards and they went to sleep together, with his mom's knowledge--and admonition to not lock the door!

*****NEW Chapter 38*****

«Whatcha doin'?»

Liz suppressed a laugh; Max sounded entirely too wistful. «Studying, like you're supposed to be doing»

«I need a break» he groaned. «My brain is going to implode, I've crammed so much in there»

«Aw, poor baby»

«Seriously, what are you doing? You don't feel quite the same as when you're studying. I should know, with the way you've been hitting the books» His mindvoice had a teasing quality.

Liz smiled and traced the outline of Max's face in the photograph before her. One warm, sunny weekend when Alex's parents were away, she and Maria had gone into photographer mode and gotten their payment for the bet about Max's birthday party. Alex's backyard had been chosen because he had a pool. Liz had several photos of Max now, but this one was her favorite. He was tossing his head to shake the wet hair out of his eyes as he climbed the metal ladder out of the deep end one-handed, in a tight pair of cut-off jeans with the top button undone. She had to admit, the jeans had been one of Maria's best inspirations. They'd each taken the scissors to an old pair of their boyfriends' jeans, making sure the results were sufficiently short. And since they were old and not done up all the way, the wet denim rode awfully low on Max's hips, exposing a dark arrow of hair…

«Liz? I can feel you getting…uh, hot. What are you doing?»

She laughed; caught. «I am studying, just not schoolwork. I'm looking through my photo album»

«Oh» Liz could picture him squirming at that piece of information. «Wouldn't you rather come over and look at the real thing?» he invited.

The offer was incredibly tempting but final exams started tomorrow, and Liz had one first thing in the morning. «I can't, you know that»

«My girlfriend, the scholar» he sighed.

«My boyfriend, the sex maniac» she shot back and Max laughed.

«You match me there, Liz»

She couldn't dispute that, not when he was the one studying and she was the one sitting here daydreaming, so she avoided an answer. «Mmm»

He laughed again. «The ones of Isabel turned out really great»

«Yeah, Maria's pretty proud of those» Liz's gaze strayed to the print she had kept and framed, grouped with the others on her dresser. Isabel was standing in her parents' living room in her father's parka and snow pants. Bright pink toenails peeked out from the too-long pants and she had the biggest smile Liz had ever seen on her lovely face. All Liz had said when her mom had asked about the photo was that it was an inside joke. And Alex adored it. His expression had been something to see at the ones where Isabel was holding up sets of lingerie, as if she couldn't decide what to model. But his favorite had been the one of Isabel sprawled on her bed in her pajamas, phone cradled to her ear—the visual dimension for the many nights they spent in long conversations.

A mental knock from someone else diverted Liz's wandering thoughts to yet another topic.

[[Hey Maria, what's up?]]

[[Have you gotten to the math prep questions yet? I'm having some trouble with number seven]]

[[Hang on a sec, I'm just talking to Max. I'll dig it out and help you soon, OK?]]

[[Thanks. Sorry to interrupt]] Maria seemed equally relieved for the assistance and apologetic for intruding.

[[No worries. I would have picked up the phone, you know that]] Liz reassured her. Maria faded away and she turned her attention back to Max.

«Someone else needing you?» he asked wryly.

«Yeah, study help. Some days I feel like a call center, on permanent call waiting» she complained.

«At least you have a 'Do Not Disturb' sign now» His mindvoice was rich with amusment.

«Thank God it wasn't Kyle or Michael who poked their nose in when we were occupied!» The possibility still gave her the willies. Liz and Max had been out at the swimming hole, skinny-dipping. She had wrapped her legs around his waist in the water as he slid inside her…and Maria had suddenly popped up in Liz's mind with a question. Talk about humiliating!

«You sure you don't need any help relaxing?» Max asked suggestively.

«Max» Liz didn't get any farther in her sentence before she felt phantom hands on her breasts, pulling at her rapidly hardening nipples. «What are you doing to me?»

«Does it feel good? I've been practicing on myself to get the pressure right» He sounded breathless—aroused and anxious both. Liz let her thighs fall open as more invisible fingers slipped inside her folds, caressing her.

«Oh, my God. Yes, it feels amazing. Don't stop»

«I won't» he promised raggedly. «Talk to me, sweetness. I'm at a bit of a disadvantage here, not being able to see or hear you»

«Right, OK. Uh, can you, a little harder with the bottom—hand?»

The pleasure sourced between her legs intensified and Liz moaned. «That's perfect, just keep—ah, Max! I'm going to» Her body spasmed in release, contracting around a hand that wasn't there. She heard a faint echo from Max as her feelings transmitted to him and then the physical dimension of the touch of his mind withdrew, leaving only his emotions and his voice.

«How's your concentration now?»

Liz laughed. «Completely shot. But give me a few more minutes to come back to earth and I'll be good as new. How long have you been thinking about this?»

«A couple of months. Once I'd mastered the hospital corners I started thinking about what other bed-related things I could do» Max said smugly. «I tried it on my legs first, which is a good thing because I gave myself some nasty charleyhorses before I learned to correlate how the pressure felt within my mind to how it felt on my skin. It's potentially a really useful aspect of my powers, but this was the most interesting application I thought of. Much more fun than picking up a teacup without crushing it»

She decided to tease him. «So all those times you were telling me you were practicing your powers, really you were learning how to do hands-free masturbation»

He made this weird choking sound and Liz giggled. «I couldn't resist. Technically, you could like sit in class and amuse yourself without getting caught»

«Right, until the whole wet pants part. Of course, your orgasms would be more discreet, moisture-wise at least» Max countered.

«Don't even think about it, Max»

«I wouldn't do it without some indication that you wanted me to continue, Liz»

«Uh-huh. Like when you told me to ask for chamomile tea and ducked under the table, and I had to sit and chat with your mother while you took advantage of me?»

She could feel him smiling. «And when did you actually say no? If you'd honestly objected, I would have stopped, you know that»

And Liz did. Any time she hadn't wanted any loveplay, for whatever reason, Max had backed off, and vice versa. There was a difference between gentle persuasion and force, and the latter had no place in their relationship. «You got me there. All right, lover, I have to help Maria with her math. I'll talk to you later»

«OK. You still up for trying the circle on Saturday? We can postpone it till after exams if you want»

She sighed. «No. I think I'm strong enough and comfortable enough talking to everyone to try to link it all together. Well, except Alex. I guess he'll be the observer»

«Right» Max sounded a tad worried.

«Alex is not about to sleep with your sister just so I have yet another way to yap at him, as he so charmingly puts it, so quit being a worrywart»

«You're right, as usual. I just feel bad because we left him out of everything for so long at the beginning, and now it's like he's being shut out again, even if it's not on purpose»

«That's just it, Max: it isn't on purpose. Sure, he feels kind of left out, but he's not going to do anything rash. He and Isabel are getting closer all the time. It'll happen if and when it happens, and you don't have any say in it»

He chuckled. «And there's my daily reminder to not try to control everything. All right, I'll leave it alone. Say hi to Maria, and good luck in the morning if I forget to say so later. I still have a ton to cover myself»

«Luck to you too. Love you» Liz told him as she dimmed their connection. His answer was a simple wave of love, and she could feel that Max had already turned his attention back to his books. With a smile, she settled in for more studying of her own—of her schoolwork, this time.

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

The eight teens stood in the quarry in the same compass point formation as for the initial experiments with the granolith, only here there wasn't a huge inverted cone to block Liz's view of Michael and Maria. Their pose was a mirror image of Liz and Max's, with Michael standing behind Maria, arms around her waist. Kyle held Tess close, her blonde head resting on his shoulder. A scant amount of space separated Alex and Isabel, the distance bridged by their firmly clasped hands.

Liz took a deep breath. "Okay. I'll link with you three first, starting with Isabel, then bring in Kyle and Maria. Hopefully we'll all be able to talk."

"What about Max?" Kyle inquired.

"Max is a permanent fixture in my brain," she smiled. "Everyone ready?"

Nods and muttered agreement signaled that they were. Liz inhaled, closing her eyes as she reached for Isabel.

One by one, Liz gathered the shining strands of her friends' consciousnesses into her mental hand, wrapping the threads around like a child holding onto a bunch of helium balloons. When she felt confident that she had a strong grip on everyone, she spoke.

[[Let's go around the circle, starting with Kyle, to make sure we're all here. Just say your names]]

[[Kyle]]

[[Tess]]

[[Michael]]

[[Maria]]

[[Isabel]]

«Max»

[[Liz. Good, I can hear everyone. I feel like we're on a conference call]]

[[Where's Max?]] Michael wanted to know.

«I'm right here, Michael» Max replied.

[[Maybe you do need to bring Max in separately, Liz]] Maria speculated.

[[What do you mean? You guys can't hear him?]] Liz asked. A chorus of "no"s answered her.

«I can hear everyone. Why can't they hear me?»

[[You said it was like a different frequency when we discovered we could talk, Liz. Maybe Max isn't listening in the right frequency or whatever]] Isabel offered.

[[Good theory, but he says he can hear you all. So he's in the right range, he's just—mute]]

[[That sucks]] Tess summed it up to laughter.

[[He and Iz are genetically linked, so maybe when the circle is closed, Maxwell'll be able to hear, too. Which is not to suggest there's any rush to do that]] Michael qualified hastily. Isabel snorted but held her tongue.

Liz didn't want this to degenerate into any kind of argument. [[So, we know it works. Let's see if you can still communicate if I'm not part of the circle. Um, Max, obviously you'll just have to listen for the others and tell me after if you could hear anything]]

«Will do» he confirmed.

Liz withdrew, visualizing the threads unwrapping from her hand, the balloons floating off into the distance. The abrupt silence blanketing her unnerved her a little; she'd become used to having contact with someone almost constantly. The vague buzz in the back of her mind had gradually become a comforting presence, and she missed it, Max especially.

Soon she felt a soft invitation from Isabel, and rejoined the circle.

[[Liz, can you bring Kyle and Maria back in, please? We lost them]] Michael requested.

She had just done that when Max flooded her senses, eliminating the niggling feeling that something was wrong.

«They lost me too. I couldn't hear a thing»

[[But you're an alien]] Liz protested.

[[Who, Max? Did he drop out, too?]] Kyle wondered.

[[Yeah. But that doesn't make any sense]]

[[Unless…]] Maria trailed off.

[[What?]] The question came from several sources and they all laughed.

[[Well, unless the lifebonded partner with the stronger gifts is the only one that can link at will. Maybe that's why nothing happened until Liz and Max got together. Being as this telepathy thing seems to be something you can all do but it also seems to be her specialty, if you know what I mean]] she explained.

[[But that would mean that Liz's powers are stronger than Max's, right?]] Tess murmured.

[[Then it can't be—]] Liz fell silent at Max's words.

«They are»

[[Max, I don't—]]

«Liz, they are. You are. You know it; you feel it. You have for weeks now, sweetness»

[[I shouldn't be]]

[[Shouldn't be what?]] Michael was beginning to get impatient with the one-sided conversation. Liz ignored him.

«Why? It doesn't matter to me»

[[Because I'm human!]] she shouted. On the periphery of her attention, Liz felt the others disengage from the circle and walk to the vehicles, leaving her alone with Max. She turned in his arms to face him, a pang running through her at his hurt and confusion.

"Max, I'm sorry," she sighed.

"Don't be sorry, Liz. Help me figure out what's going on, because I'm not getting it. Is this about the premonition or whatever?" His voice held an edge of anger.

She shrugged and rolled her eyes. "I wish it was a premonition. But it's just a vague feeling of danger, and that—that—imprecision is driving me bonkers."

"I've noticed," he commented dryly. Liz uttered a nervous laugh. She was about to apologize again, and Max shook his head at her, a gleam of humor flashing in his eyes. She smiled instead. He didn't smile back. "Liz. You're still not one hundred percent about having any powers, so I can understand if it freaks you out that you have the strongest powers. But…is that all?"

Those beautiful eyes were so vulnerable, and she knew he worried that his genetic makeup was the cause of her outburst. It wasn't, but Liz didn't know how to explain that in words that would make him believe it, so she opened the door between them a little wider, sending him her absolute acceptance. She felt him relax and his gaze warmed. Liz searched for the deeper issue in herself, her arms tightening around Max in a need for comfort.

"I don't know where it came from, Max. I'm frustrated on twenty different levels right now, what with that weird feeling and ordinary exams and everything. And I think I'm scared. Not so much because I do have the strongest powers, but because I think that's true for a reason. I feel like I'm developing them because I'm going to need them."

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

Mrs. Evans looked up from her book and smiled as Max entered the living room.

"Hey, Mom. You're up late." He kissed her cheek and sank down beside her on the couch, yawning.

"Late at night is when I've always done my reading, honey, so that your father doesn't interrupt me every five minutes with a question. You look tired."

"I am. Long day."

"How did it go this morning?" Since Liz had told them the truth about their children, Mr. and Mrs. Evans had been kept more or less in the loop. Mrs. Evans wasn't so naïve as to believe that Max and Isabel told them everything, but the exchange of information was pretty open and she appreciated it immensely. Getting to know them both better was wonderful.

"Pretty good. We linked up fine, just like Liz thought, except she's the only one who could hear me. Everyone else could talk and listen fine, it was just me."

He sounded a little down about it and Mrs. Evans drew him close. Max resisted for a moment then allowed himself to stretch out, his head pillowed on her leg while she stroked his hair. "It was weird, Mom. I'm so used to being the one in charge but I couldn't even contribute to the conversation unless I spoke through Liz. And then when we talked about it, we ended up having a bit of a fight because her powers are stronger than mine, and she doesn't want them to be."

"I'm assuming you got past the fight, since you were gone all day and most of the night too," she smiled.

"Yeah. We have a pretty good system worked out now, so it never lasts that long. It's like you always said, communication is the key," Max smiled briefly.

Something still bothered him about it, though; his mother could tell. "So, tell me why Liz doesn't want stronger powers than you."

He sighed and spoke so quietly Mrs. Evans could barely hear him. "Because she's human. Which she is, I mean we've tested her blood and run X-rays and all that and she's still completely human. It caught me by surprise, when she said it, though. I guess—I guess my knee-jerk reaction is always going to be the same. I know Liz loves me. I couldn't possibly know it any more than I do, or be more sure of her. But when she said that—yelled it, it was like getting slapped. All those insecurities resurfaced for a second."

Mrs. Evans let Max's hair slip through her fingers while she pondered his words. Part of her ached to just soothe him and tell him it would all be okay. But he wasn't a child anymore and false platitudes would only send him running. What had her puzzled was that she knew Liz, and knew that Max's genetics had never been an issue between them. His supposed destiny, yes, but never the fact that he was not human. Something else had to have set Liz off.

"Sweetie, could it be a class issue?" she suggested as soon as it occurred to her.

"Class issue? What would be the issue? Liz and I are both middle class," he yawned.

"You and Liz are, yes, but what about Zan and Lissa? Maybe Liz is feeling things from the past. Or maybe it's just because you're the king, so she feels that no one should be stronger than you."

Max knuckled his eyes. "That makes sense, actually, that it would be a rank thing. I never really thought about it, probably because I think of Liz as a partner. I like having her as an equal. I—I like not being alone at the top anymore. Everything is easier with her sharing it, powers included."

"Did you say that?"

"I don't know. She knows, I'm sure of that, but I don't know that I've come out and said it all, exactly," he thought out loud.

Mrs. Evans smiled. "Well, then you need to tell her that. I think it would go a long way towards making Liz feel better. One thing I've learned from your relationship with her is that when you share as much as you two do, words become even more important. You're in each other's feelings so deeply that you need to give each other some verbal definitions in order to promote better understanding. It's something you'll both get better at with practice, like everything else."

He twisted to look up at her, his smile reaching his eyes this time. "Thanks, Mom. Have I mentioned recently how great it is that you know?"

"Probably not as recently as your sister," she laughed and he relaxed into his former position with a chuckle. "So what did you all do tonight that has you getting in so late?"

"Oh, we got dragged to see the Harry Potter movie. More precisely, Michael and I got dragged. All the women and Alex and Kyle wanted to go. It was good," Max said drowsily.

He was nearly asleep. Years of stroking his hair while singing him lullabyes had taught her that. Mrs. Evans gently eased a pillow under Max's head and moved away, marking her page and closing her book. She could read another night.

As she unfolded the afghan over Max, he mumbled, "I'm so glad you and Dad aren't like the Dursleys."

The Dursleys? It took her a minute to recall that they were Harry Potter's extended family, who reviled him for his wizard's blood. Mrs. Evans tucked the ends of the blanket around her sleeping son and kissed his forehead.

"I knew that you and Isabel were magic as soon as I laid eyes on you, Max. Why do you think I wanted to take you home?" She turned out the lights, but not before she caught sight of his contented smile. He might be all grown up, with a wife in all but name, but he was still her little boy and nights like this, when he turned to her for advice, only proved to her heart that he would always need her, too.






posted on 15-Dec-2002 1:40:37 PM by Tasyfa
quote:
Old Enough originally wrote:
Thanks for the new episode -- besides being a lovely read, I've got to tell you that Diane's advice to Max gave me a whole new idea on how to explain what's going on with me to a friend I've got a problem with right now. So, thanks for some help with real life as well.

*happy*
Old Enough


What's so very cool about that--besides that it was helpful for you, obviously!--is that I attended a seminar at work on Effective Communication last week, and it definitely informed my editing of that scene. I'm glad it's been useful so quickly! *big* Good luck with your friend.
hugs, Tas
posted on 1-Jan-2003 10:34:40 PM by Tasyfa
Hope y'all had happy holidays, and here's a wish for a great 2003 all around!*happy*

This chapter's being brought to you courtesy of Matchbox 20's song "downfall" off their new album, "More than you think you are."

Only love can save us now
O-o-oh, save me now

Lay it down
I've always been with you
Here and now
Give all that's within you
Be my saviour
And I will be your downfall


One of many wonderful tunes. Yay that digital doesn't wear out LOL! Also big smooches to Cookie2697 for confirming my vagueness.*big*
hugs, Tas

P.S. No recap b/c the beginning scene has enough "memory jogging" info in it.*wink* In two posts for length.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
*****NEW PART 39*****

"Is everyone ready to go out to the pod chamber?"

"Far as I know. Are you?" Max regarded Liz closely. She looked tired, more than usual. The circles under her eyes had grown darker since they'd tried the comm circle last week, as it had come to be called. Of course Liz was pushing herself hard over exams, but even now that she'd written all but one, the pressure she kept applying hadn't relented at all.

Liz sighed. "Ready as I'm going to be." A weary apprehension snaked through her words, and Max pulled her into his arms, settling her onto his lap. She leaned her head against his chest.

"Hey, partner, we can put it off a little longer. The granolith's been sitting there for fifty years, another couple of weeks won't hurt." There, the still-new endearment earned him a smile. Max had taken his mother's sound advice and explained to Liz how he felt about the comm circle, in a way that left her no room for doubt about his thoughts. Then he'd taken to calling her 'partner.' Liz complained that it gave her the expectation that he would show up sometime with a ten gallon Stetson perched on his head, but she smiled every time he said it so Max had no plans to quit. In fact, Halloween wasn't all that far away; maybe he'd rent a cowboy costume. It wouldn't be the first time he'd willingly made a complete fool of himself for Liz, and he doubted it would be the last.

Right now, however, October did seem a lifetime in the future, even if it was only a few months. Max wanted to worry about getting through today.

"Mmm. Tempting, Max. It would be really nice to just lie back and spend the day in bed with you," she mumbled sleepily. His body tightened automatically at the idea and Max smiled as Liz giggled upon noticing his response. "I see you wouldn't object to that notion."

"Never," he agreed cheerfully. "Your parents might have something to say about it, though."

"True," she sighed and sat upright, meeting Max's eyes. "Besides, you know I don't feel like it can wait any longer."

"I know," he nodded. Her sense of impending danger might still be vague but it had been growing steadily stronger. Max felt it too, and the need to find a solution spiked whenever Liz thought about the granolith. Clearly something was driving her, and by extension, all of them. Max also had the impression that if they could figure out the granolith then the foggy intuitions plaguing Liz would cease to bother her so much. They would have some kind of focus then.

"Then let's go. Partner," Liz murmured, leaning in for a kiss.

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

The smooth outer walls of the granolith chamber parted soundlessly and the group filed inside. The steady white glow changed instantly, pulsing in a peculiar double rhythm.

"It's never done that," Maria observed. Max glanced over at Liz, seeing from the awareness in her expression that she remembered the same things he did. The granolith had behaved in such a manner, once. The night they had come here to give themselves to each other in love. The last time that Liz had been in the chamber, save for a brief moment the morning after their lovemaking.

What did it mean?

The others were beginning to take their places in a circle around the granolith. Max realized that this time, the group wasn't what was needed at all. "Alex, come here, please. I need you to do something for me."

The tall, lanky man loped over. "Sure, Max. What's up?"

"Can you monitor Liz's pulse rate, and watch the pattern of light flashing.at the same time?" Alex was the most musically inclined; hopefully he would be able to judge how close the two rhythms were.

"No sweat. I thought you were going to ask me to do something hard," he grinned and Max smiled back. Alex reached to take Liz's hand.

"Her left hand, please. I need her right."

"Max," Liz's tone warned him that she understood now what he was doing. He stepped close, kissing her forehead then looking into her eyes while he opened his soul a little more.

«Trust me, please»

The corners of her mouth lifted. «All right. I do trust you. But if you give me an orgasm while everyone is standing here watching, you will be getting very well reacquainted with your own hands. Capeche?»

Max's smile broadened. «Private orgasms only, I swear»

Liz rolled her eyes and held out her hands. Alex took her left, his fingers digging into her wrist to find her pulse point. Max took her right, holding it loosely for the moment and gazing at Liz. He didn't even look at Alex as he inquired, "Ready?"

"I'm good to go," Alex affirmed. Liz's lips twitched in humor at their friend's inadvertently accurate statement about how she would feel in another minute or so. Max squeezed her wrist, waiting for Alex to verbalize what he instinctively already knew.

"The light is pulsing in exact time with Liz's heartbeat, Max. How did you know?"

"Doesn't matter. Keep monitoring, please."

"Sure thing," Alex agreed.

Max tuned out all of the others, focusing solely on Liz. Delicately he touched a finger to her branded palm, slowly stroking the symbol. Her response was fascinatingly immediate. Max observed her pupils dilating, even against the increasing light in the chamber, and her chest rose and fell more noticeably as her breathing sped up. He had never deliberately watched Liz as she became aroused although he knew all the signs. Usually he was too busy participating in her arousal to be much of a voyeur. He found it surprisingly erotic, especially since her reactions were the direct effect of his own actions.

Liz could feel Max's increasing desire through her own haze, and knew that if they didn't want to end up indecent in front of their friends, they had to plateau it now. «That's far enough, Max, or you'll destroy the privacy clause»

His sudden grin startled her. Liz thought back to when they had first discovered that touching each other's branded palms elicited intense sexual hunger and returned Max's smile, understanding his possessive glee because she had experienced the same.

He moved his fingers away from the symbol, simply holding her hand. "Alex?"

"I don't know what you did—and I'm not sure I want to know, either—but as Liz's heart rate increased, the granolith kept pace. It's definitely linked to her somehow." Alex patted her hand and let go of her.

"Christ, no wonder we weren't getting anywhere. Liz wasn't here!" Michael expostulated.

"I'm sorry," Liz bit her lip, feeling incredibly guilty.

"No need. No one knew," Kyle shrugged. "This piece of stone's been here for a long time. I can't honestly see what difference a few weeks makes." Michael scowled until Maria slipped her arm around his waist, and then he relaxed and agreed.

"You know Liz, your necklace is kind of glowing, too," Tess commented.

"She's right, it's sparkling," Isabel peered at Liz.

Something flitted across Max's face when he looked at her necklace and Liz shivered, sensing that he had come to some decision. She was sure of it when he spoke.

"Maria, Isabel, come here, please. The rest of you, please head back down to the cars and stay there until we contact you. I'll explain later," Max shook his head in reply to the myriad questions flung his way. Grumbling, most of the people in the room turned to leave. Liz went to go with them and Max caught her arm. "Not you, Liz."

"You didn't say my name," she pointed out.

He smiled, lifting her hand and kissing her knuckles. "That was the 'we' part. Your place is with me, Liz, always. My partner."

Warmth spread through her. Just a word, but it meant so much and while she protested aloud, Liz tingled every time Max said it. He knew it, too. "OK, then. What are we doing? Why'd you send everyone else away?"

Max laughed, giving her a smoldering look and Liz abruptly understood. Her breath left her lungs, leaving her helpless to gainsay him. She wasn't sure she wanted to anyway, with the riot he'd incited in her blood still running full tilt. With that single look he'd roused her farther and Liz blinked against the brilliant light hammering in sync with her heartbeat.

"Maria, Iz, this is what I need you to do. Go wait outside the pod chamber, with the door closed. When Liz tells you, Isabel, you open the door but don't come in. Maria, you come in by yourself. This is just a precaution; we likely won't need anyone's help but if something happens, I want just Maria coming in here," Max instructed.

"What the hell are you talking about, Max?" Isabel asked. "Help with what?"

Maria examined Liz's face then looked over at the pulsating granolith. She giggled. "Isabel, it's the kind of thing that you just don't want to know about your brother." She linked arms with the tall blonde and winked at Max. "I'll explain outside while we're waiting for them to, uh, finish."

Max blushed at that and Isabel grimaced, obviously figuring out what Maria meant. "Eww. Liz, good luck."

Just like that, they were gone and Max and Liz were alone.

"Why Maria?"

He half smiled. "Because you'd be most comfortable with her seeing you in a compromising position, if something goes wrong."

"Max, you can't seriously mean—" she trailed off when his arms encircled her waist. He gazed down at her, his expression grave.

"Liz, think about it. Every breakthrough we've had has been linked to physical intimacy. When we came in here that night intending to make love, that's when the granolith began to react to you. When we made love after the mating ceremony, that's when your necklace changed and fused. Now it's reacting to the granolith, or the other way around, I don't know. And at the ceremony, Vordatha mentioned something—she was surprised that we hadn't met this guy Tomar since we had lifebonded, and maybe that's because she'd expected us to make love here. In the granolith chamber. It's all connected somehow, don't you see?" His eyes pleaded with her.

"Yes," Liz murmured. She'd gone down the same paths of logic and arrived at the same place herself. Of course, logic also dictated that it would be better to wait until later, when they could come back alone and not have the whole world waiting outside knowing what was happening, but neither her premonitory whispers of danger nor the lust slamming through her body would allow that.

"Yes, you see what I mean, or yes, I can make love to you?" Max smiled.

Liz slipped her arms around his neck and lifted her face. "Yes."

Max tightened one arm more securely on her waist. His free hand slid up her back to cradle her head. "God, I love you." Liz raised on her tiptoes to meet his lips, her tongue twining with his.

"Liz, we have to make this fast," he muttered between long, drugging kisses. "I don't want to embarrass you."

She laughed breathlessly. "It's too late for that, Max. I'm beyond embarrassment now anyway. But yes, fast would be good."

"Is that code for, 'Take me now'?" he chuckled. Liz pulled away and stepped back. Max stared at her in confusion. She lifted her right hand, holding the palm facing out towards him.

"Yes."

The pulsing light reflected off the brand, flashing silver. Her pose was almost a challenge and Max felt his breath come faster at the implication. "You know I can't control myself when we do that."

Her lips curved. "Yes."

"Is that all you can say?" he teased.

Liz coughed, her cheeks reddening. Her eyes acquired a naughty gleam as she asked, "How about, 'Fuck me'?"




posted on 1-Jan-2003 10:36:57 PM by Tasyfa
Max flushed, held immobile for a moment in shock. Then he tossed his jacket aside and crushed Liz to him, grasping her hand firmly. As soon as their branded palms touched, flattened against each other, he was lost. Urgency shot through his body. He tumbled Liz to the ground, trying to keep as much of her backside on top of his jacket as possible before he forgot even that much.

Liz felt the rush too, but not the same way Max did. She didn't lose herself in the wash of sensation, at least not until they were completely joined. The phenomenal need that ripped through Max touched her only indirectly, through him. She helped his greedy fingers to remove her jeans and lower his enough to expose his erection, and then he surged inside her with a low growl.

Nothing mattered except claiming his mate. The questions about the granolith, the presence of their friends, his own name faded under the onslaught. Max pounded into Liz, feeling her hips rise to meet him, hearing her soft cries and exulting in all of it. He groped for her other hand and held it down, too, pinning her spreadeagled beneath his body.

"Oh, God," she gasped. This was only the what, third time they had really tried this? That first time after the mating ceremony, when Liz had explained her theory so smugly and had landed on the floor in a decidedly similar position as a result. The other time had been accidental, and thank goodness had happened in her room, where no one would see Liz with her skirt around her waist and her back against the wall. Now when they walked together, she tucked her hand around Max's elbow, or he slung an arm around her shoulders. Holding hands was too dangerous.

But this felt different. The primal intensity radiating from her lover would have scared Liz had it not been that she could also feel the love pouring from Max, blanketing her and keeping her safe. He was muttering something along her skin as he tasted her; she couldn't hear him well enough to comprehend the words. Only the thick, rough edges in his voice that betrayed his utter abandon. Liz felt the sound in her feet and her belly, spurring her own desire. "Max."

He needed more. His sweet love, curled under him, eager for his touch. His possession of her. His rhythm continued unfaltering as he freed his right hand. Her arm began to move and he slapped her palm. "Keep it there."

Her eyes widened. "Max!" Max, that was him. She was Liz. Her name was blazoned inside him. Speech came hard, though, the English words feeling foreign on his tongue. "Please. I need—need you. Liz."

Liz looked up at him, seeing his jaw working. He'd been right; somehow, this joining was necessary. For what she didn't know yet, but clearly it required her total surrender. As total as Max's had been to whatever drove him now—right into her.

Holding his gaze, Liz deliberately relaxed her limbs in a submissive posture. Max growled in triumph and kissed her hard, the hand he'd freed squeezing her shoulder. She shivered at the fresh wave of sensation.

He moved his hand down her body, seeking skin. His fingers caressed the roundness of her bare buttocks, his groin tightening further at the muscular contractions under his hand when her hips bucked up. He slid down, inserting his fingers between their bodies to stroke her inner thigh, and then he hooked his elbow under her knee and pulled up. His hand covered hers again, holding her in place, only now her thigh lay flush with his torso. The position raised her hips and he gathered himself.

And thrust. Liz cried out, hearing Max moan into her neck. She could feel him, so deep—too deep. His cock pushing at the entrance to her womb. It hovered on the line between pain and pleasure, rising and receding with each heavy thrust. Flutters of panic assailed her.

"I can't—Max, please. It's too much. I can't…"

"You can. Liz. My angel, my partner. You're strong enough to take me. I need you to take me, Liz. Take all of me," he pleaded raggedly, his eyes wild. He shifted, letting go of her hand and leaning on his elbow so that he could trail awkward fingers across her cheek in supplication.

Some dim corner of Liz's mind thought that should be her line but it didn't really matter who voiced it. She would take—and give—everything within her. Looming terror be damned. Max Evans was the other half of herself and he would not be denied.

"Yes," she breathed, and swore that his gaze glowed golden before his eyes closed and his lips met hers. Liz tugged her hand free and twisted it in his hair, forcing him closer while her tongue slid into his mouth.

Inexorable as the changing tides, the tension climbed and Liz's fingernails found their way under Max's shirt, clawing at his back in a vain attempt to stay grounded. She arched as she shattered at last, shuddering in Max's arms. He groaned and sank his teeth into her shoulder, mumbling under his breath. "Lissa…Liz…my queen…"

As if the words had been a signal, Liz felt the heat spread through her as Max dissolved into release, then sight and sound faded away.

She remained sensitive to touch. The ebbing waves of her climax still gripped her body; Max's weight pinned her yet, though his motion slowed in speed and strength. But Liz's vision filled with violet light, muted and variegated, like a colored flashlight playing on a darkened wall. And then as Max came to rest on top of her, she heard women's voices, lifted in a solemn chant.

Two as one
Shall defeat them
Two made one
Vreth de'ana

Bright the shining
Agent of unity
Part the darkness
From its evil self

Stand defeated
In the hour of triumph
Revive the heart
With the weeping soul

Earthly glimmer
On passion's hand
Seal the future
Repair the past

The doorway will open
Choose wisely which side
Birth shall decide
Look into their eyes

Dor she'ana kevara'ke daletga


"Liz?" Max's anxious inquiry broke the spell and all of Liz's senses returned to her body, lying on the ground in the granolith chamber.

"I'm fine, Max. Except, could you put my leg down, please? I seem to be super flexible only in the middle of, well, sex," she smiled. An embarrassed expression crossed his face and he hastily unhooked her knee. Liz sighed in relief.

"Liz, I'm—" Max stopped at her glare.

"Don't ever apologize for loving me, Max. I won't lie, I'm on the sore side, but you've nothing to be sorry for, OK?" When he nodded, she continued, "Next time, though, let's make sure we keep this place swept. There is a rock digging into my spine."

"You just now noticed it?" he asked, curious. Her rosy cheeks were his answer and Max smiled. "I love you." He brushed a tender kiss against her lips and regretfully disentangled himself, retrieving Liz's clothing and adjusting his own. As she drew her underwear on, he saw the marks on her inner thighs. "Liz, you're bruised!"

She glanced down, and his renewed urge to apologize died at the soft look on her face. "Huh." Liz met his eyes, her own sparkling. "Max, you really should eat more. It's about your hipbones," she teased.

He spluttered and then laughed with her and helped her dress. "Seriously, sweetness. I'm not sorry, but I didn't mean to be so rough. It scares me a little, to think that I could be like that with you."

"It shouldn't." Liz looped her arms around his neck. "For one thing, I invited it, remember? And for another, Max, it's so amazing to me that you can trust me enough to completely lose that famous control. Yes, I panicked a little, but I'm not sorry either. Not even for the bruises."

Sincerity shone from her face and her soul and Max allowed his apprehension to melt away. If it didn't bother her, he wasn't going to worry about it.

"OK." He kissed her forehead. Abruptly he recalled the whole point of their lovemaking and turned to look at the granolith. The base glowed a steady white, like it had before he and Liz had first touched in the chamber. Her necklace had stopped emitting light, although the crystal hadn't reverted to its original pink, remaining colorless. "Well, something happened. I wish we knew what, beyond the obvious." Max flashed Liz a smile.

She laughed. "Max, when you—finished, something did happen. I couldn't see or hear you anymore. There was this light and I heard women speaking this poem or something…" Quickly Liz explained her experience, reciting the words that she'd memorized on the spot.

He frowned. "And you're sure that it started when I climaxed, not you?"

"Yes. I felt your semen inside me, and that's when it happened. I'd already…"

"You can feel that?" Max asked wonderingly.

Liz smiled. "Well, you were halfway through my reproductive system."

"Liz!" he choked.

"Max, I'm kidding. But I could feel you really deep, and it was kind of unsettling at first. Being new and that. I can always feel it when you come, though. I don't know if it's an alien thing or what, but this warmth spreads through me."

Max pulled her close, running one hand through her hair. "I never knew that. It's too hard to separate your feelings from mine at that particular moment, and I guess I just assumed that was mine."

"Mmm," Liz agreed, leaning into the gentle caress. "I suppose the others should come back now."

"Yeah," he sighed. He closed his eyes briefly, enjoying the feel of her in his arms. When he opened them again, Max stiffened.

"What?" Liz turned to see what had startled him.

Crackles of purple light danced across the black inverted cone of the granolith, waving in no specific configuration. A spinning sensation accompanied the fluorescence, and Max felt the hairs on his arms and the back of his neck stand up as though the atmosphere in the small chamber had been electrified.

«Get everyone—»

[[Everyone get back up here, on the double. The granolith is about to do something. Isabel, leave the door open—Michael can close it on his way in]]

"I'm way ahead of you, partner," Liz smiled at Max.

"I love you," he murmured into her hair. A pang went through him, though. Whatever had happened, it hadn't corrected his inability to be heard in the comm circle.

Liz kissed him fiercely, sensing his prickle of sorrow, and then stepped back. She slipped her hand in the crook of his arm, returning his quick smile.

The other six piled in, Isabel and Maria beating the others by less than a minute. They spread out around Max and Liz, automatically taking protective stances, as the granolith flashed purple and white in an increasingly rapid, regular pattern. The strobing light disappeared for a long moment, leaving them all blinking in absolute darkness, and then there was an incongruously faint popping sound accompanying an explosion of light.

"Shit," Michael swore. Liz had to smile. The sudden brilliance after the total absence of light did have them at a distinct disadvantage if some enemy arrived now, but trust Michael to get vulgar about it.

Gradually their vision cleared. Liz clutched Max's arm tighter at the sight of a small, thin man standing in front of the granolith, the black stone having resumed its usual opaque appearance. The purple lightning was nowhere to be seen.

Purple lightning. The light in her vision had looked like this light had, reflecting off the walls of the chamber. There had been a lightning storm the night she and Max had made love for the first time. Like he'd said, it all had to be connected. Was this storm inside the granolith the one that was supposed to have happened when the King had lifebonded?

Liz pulled subtly on Max's arm, leading him forward a few paces. She could see the man better now that they were closer. He seemed in his fifties perhaps, a little older than her parents, and he had a birdlike appearance in his thinness that put her at immediate ease. Even his eyes reminded her of a bird's, black and bright with intelligence. She decided to trust her instincts.

"Tomar?"

She heard Michael and Kyle both mutter something unflattering behind her, but ignored them. Max's trust flowed into her, buoying her certainty.

"Why yes. Do you recognize me?" the birdman asked, excessively politely. Liz could feel Max bite the inside of his cheek to keep from smiling and she pinched his arm unobtrusively.

"Not exactly. We had some warning that you would show up at some point, but we don't know you," she answered truthfully. She watched him digest that information.

"I see. I take it that the memory preservation techniques did not work." Tomar nodded briskly. "Well, I can also see that plan B is well under way, so all is well. You are fully human, and there are three more…all lifebonded pairs, I see. Yes, this is well."

Liz couldn't prevent a giggle from escaping as both Max and Michael turned to stare at Alex. Her old friend stepped back, raising his hands. "Hey, don't look at me like that, I didn't do anything!"

"We haven't," Isabel confirmed. She looked at Tomar curiously. "Why would you call us a lifebonded pair, then?"

The small man made an oddly feminine gesture, dismissing her worry. "I am sorry. I can see that it is not complete, but the process has begun."

Kyle squinted at the couple, his hands clasped together. "He's right, there's a light bond there."

"You have Sight?" Tomar inquired interestedly.

He nodded. "A little, from my faith. Buddhism."

Tomar tapped his fingers together, his brow furrowing. "Buddha, Buddha. Ah, yes, the large man in the painful seated position. He teaches enlightenment." His head bobbed and he seemed to forget the matter, his gaze moving back to Isabel. "I did not mean to anger you, Your Highness. Please forgive me."

For once, Isabel had no response forthcoming, and she reached blindly for Alex's hand, nodding. Liz tugged on Max's arm, returning his attention to Tomar.

He smiled and came forward, stopping directly in front of Max. He bowed deeply and held the pose for close to a minute before straightening. "Your Highness."

Max inclined his head in acknowledgement, his back straight, and Tomar's smile broadened approvingly. Then he moved slightly to one side, so that he stood in front of Liz.

Butterflies rose in her stomach. Vordatha in Tess's body had genuflected to her this way after the lifemate ceremony, making sure that she curtsied equally to the King and Queen. The title still made Liz skittish; it seemed so unreal. But she had mentally prepared herself for the same kind of reception should they ever meet another Antarian, as this man surely was, knowing that they would see her as Max's Queen no matter what she thought about it.

What she was completely not prepared for, was for Tomar to sink into a full obeisance in front of her, kneeling with his forehead touching the floor. The pose muffled his voice some, but he spoke loudly enough to compensate, and Liz held tight to Max as the world spun around her.

"Your Holiness."