posted on 8-Sep-2001 6:44:14 PM
Title: The Alpha Project
Author: Loo Rosenberg ( mr_pointy_stake⊕yahoo.com ) and Crazygirl
( crazybread⊕ravinglunatic.co.uk )
Rating: PG-13 to NC-17
Category: Mostly M/L plus everyone else
Spoilers: Everything up to and including A Roswell Christmas Carol--Especially the End of the World
Summary: Something strange is going on in Roswell. Is Nicholas behind it—-or is something else at work? Either way, the lives of the characters are about to change dramatically. Also, Max and Liz finally deal with the Kyle issue in a way that you wouldn’t expect.
Disclaimer: All the characters from Roswell belonged to us and we can manipulate them in any way we please....and so came about this fic (and some very other interesting stories where Max becomes Loo's love slave and is no longer ever allowed to wear clothing of any kind, and must always give her backrubs... and Tess gets impaled.... and Max’s cool identical cousin who lives in Doswell and is also an alien sweeps Crazygirl off to the Bahamas where they lie naked on the beach for all eternity.) Unfortunately...the characters do not in any way shape or form belong to us, and we will be forced to return them to the way that we found them before we began messing with your heads! Oh darn.


Prologue: Somewhere in the New Mexico desert

In a long white room filled with computers, cameras and other hi-tech looking equipment, a short technician, wearing thick wire rim glasses and a dirty lab coat, sipped his coffee, while looking over his colleague's shoulder. "Is the computer system back on line yet?" his voice was dark and had the ring of authority.

"Basically. It still has a few bugs in it though," the second technician fiddled with some very complicated and very expensive looking machines. "I just hope nothing else goes wrong. The project is already in jeopardy-another glitch in the system could shut us down completely."

"That stupid and his cronies are more trouble then they're worth."

"That's true," the man sighed, "but we won't have to deal with them for much longer," a sly grin crept across his face as he pushed a few more buttons and stared into the tinted glass in front of him. "The Alpha project is almost complete."


Part 1

"So, have you spoken to Max yet?" Maria picked up a plate of leftovers from an empty table and followed Liz into the kitchen. The Crashdown had just closed and they we're stuck cleaning up from that evening's dinner rush.

"Of course," Liz frowned at her best friend. "Max and I talk. We’re
friends....sort of."

"I know," she put the dishes in the sink and turned on the water. "I mean, have you REALLY talked to him?"

"No," Liz sighed in defeat. "I guess not. I think we've been avoiding each other."

Maria eyed Liz sceptically.

"Okay Okay! I've been avoiding him, or any in depth conversations at least," Liz left the kitchen for a moment and returned with another pile of plates. "I just don't want to talk about what happened with Kyle. I just know I won't be able to keep lying to him, Maria."

"So don't."

Liz glared in her friend's direction. Sometimes she just didn't understand what it was like to be in a relationship with a.... wait... alright, so she did. But Maria and Michael were in a completely different situations than her and Max. On occasion, Maria just didn't get her relationship with Max and how truly complicated it was.

Maria left the kitchen for a moment, and walked to the soda counter to pick up the few remaining dishes. Shaking her head at Liz's nievity, she attempted to pick up a bottle of ketchup off the table.

"Liz? I mean, why can't you just..." Maria looked at her hand. The ketchup bottle was still on the counter. She could've sworn she had just picked it up. Frowning, she tried again, and this
time, the ketchup bottle lifted easily into her hand. "hmmm..." she muttered, "I must be going crazy."

Liz walked through the swinging kitchen door just as Maria was eyeing the ketchup in her hand. "Maria, you know what'll happen if I tell Max the truth."

"Oh yea. It'll be all kissy, and sweaty, and possibly naked," she smiled at Liz's feigned look of shock. "It would be naked, wouldn't it?!"

"Maria!" Liz's face had turned a dark shade of red.

"Oh come on Liz! I know what it was like between you and Max! All kissy, and sweaty and naked!"

"We were never naked!" Liz put her hands on her hips and frowned in an attempt to keep from laughing.

"Well," Maria headed into the kitchen with the dishes and ketchup and turned back to her friend. "You two were certainly getting there. Max did have a condom in his pocket the night of Gomez! And you even told me that you guys drove off into the desert and would have.... you know... but you were interrupted by..."

Suddenly, as if on cue, the bell above the door rang as the Crashdown door swung open.

Maria kept talking as she walked back through the swinging door into the kitchen. Liz frowned, the Crashdown had closed an hour ago. Who would be coming now? Quickly, she turned and saw Max standing by the door.

"Hi Liz," he smiled politely.

"Hey," she wiped her hands on her uniform, as Maria kept talking to her.

"Oh and Liz? Michael once told me that you and Max had this whole plan where he was going to take you to this really cool cliff where you guys were going to have a picnic, and watch the sunset and that you guys were planning on..."

"Maria!" Liz yelled at her through to the kitchen. "Shut up!"

When she emerged from the kitchen, she noticed Max standing at the door, looking uncomfortable, and Liz basically hiding behind the soda counter. Again, Liz's face was the colour of an overripe tomato, and Max's was beginning to get there as well.

Maria just laughed.

"So, Max," she tried to get her giggling under control. "Is there something we can... help you with?" she looked back at Liz, who had finally emerged from behind the counter, her face slowly returning to its normal colour. "Or," she started laughing again, "Should I leave you two ALONE? Perhaps you two were counting on a little..."

"Maria..." Liz warned.

"Actually," Max stopped her. "I do need to talk to Liz for a minute."

"Gotcha," Maria smiled. "I have to wash the dishes anyway," she paused. "But be sure to speak extra loud so that I can eavesdrop. That way I won't have to beat the info out of Liz later."

Max and Liz gave her a look, and she retreated into the kitchen still
laughing.

"So, what's up, Max?" Liz asked trying to sound normal as they sat down in the nearest booth.

"Actually, I have a Christmas present for you. I never really had a chance to give it to you because of the whole Phoenix thing with Sidney and everything,"

He pulled a box out of his coat pocket.

"Max," Liz looked at her hands in her lap, "you didn't have to get me a
present."

"I know," he smiled, "I wanted to." He slid the box across the table and
shoved his hands into his pockets.

Slowly, Liz pulled the ribbon off the box, and opened it. Inside, she found a candid photo of her and Max that Maria had taken when they had gone on a picnic together last year. Liz was sitting in Max's lap and he had his chin resting on her shoulder. It had been on of those rare moments when Max had smiled-- in fact, his eyes were sparkling and he looked like he was about to float away. The picture was put into a sterling silver frame that had the words, "Always," inscribed in cursive along the bottom.

Liz looked up at Max, unable to hide the tears shining in her eyes.

"Look," Max explained, "I know that we aren't together anymore... I just thought.... I mean, I just wanted to say that the way I feel about you, is forever. It'll never change. Even when you go off to Harvard... or marry your normal guy, like Kyle... and have your normal kids... your normal life....I just, I just wanted you to have one perfect memory of us together."

"Max, I," she stopped, finding herself at a loss for words. She pulled the picture towards her and stared at it as if trying to take herself back to that day in the park, "It’s beautiful."

"Well," Max pulled his hand away and stood from the booth. "I'd better be going. Isabel convinced my parents to have this family dinner thing tonight, and I'm already late. She's gonna kill me."

Liz smiled and followed Max to the door. "Bye Max," she took his hand one last time and smiled sadly.

She watched as he hurried off down the street, checking his watch as he went, and she didn't notice Maria come out of the kitchen wiping a plate dry with a towel.

"Harsh, Liz," she shook her head sadly. "So harsh."

"I know," Liz looked like she was about to burst into tears. "Life just isn't fair when you’re in love with the leader of a freaky alien race whose home planet is under attack, and has been taken over by a psycho, and he has this whole destiny thing where he has to marry this stupid blonde bimbo so that he can save his planet, and thousands of lives hang in the balance and depend on the fact that he returns to his planet with his bride to stop the war... and... we're all just... doomed. Does that cover everything?"

Maria nodded sympathetically, "Yup. I think so. I know what you mean, chica. I know what you mean."


Part 2

It took Max three hours to fall asleep that night. His mind was clouded with thoughts of Liz and their impossible future. Something in his heart told him not to give up--that they would find a way to be together, and that one day, she would tell him the truth about what had happened with Kyle.

Finally, he descended into a restless sleep, and his dreams were of Liz as usual. But these dreams weren't his usually happy-ending fairy tale dreams where he didn’t have a destiny and he and Liz could get lost in each other with no repercussions or consequences; these dreams were dark, almost nightmarish.

He and Liz were outside on a plateau overlooking Roswell. The night sky was blackened by angry, dark clouds that hid the moon from view and a strong wind whipped Liz's white dress around her legs as she shivered from the cold. She didn't seem to notice, however, as she was as lost in Max's eyes as he was in hers.

"Dance with me, Max?"

Max smiled as he wrapped his arms around her small waist and pulled her close to him. They became oblivious to their surroundings, the world dissolving away as they got lost in each other completely, swaying back and forth for what seemed like an eternity. A rush of tranquillity and peace washed over them for just a few moments, as nothing else in the world existed but them, and nothing else mattered.

However, something was itching at the back of Max's mind. Something was wrong, but he couldn't figure out what it was. He ignored the little voice screaming at him from somewhere beyond his conscious mind. He didn't want to pay attention. He was with Liz; they were finally together. What could possibly go wrong?

Out of nowhere, Nicholas appeared behind the dancing couple. A horrible grin on his face, he pulled a savage looking knife from his pocket and approached Liz from behind. Just as he brought the glowing knife down, hard into her back, Max opened his eyes and heard Liz groan in pain. She felt weak in his arms, and slowly fell to the ground, a pool of deep-red blood forming quickly around her. Nicholas stepped back and smirked at Max.

"I win again, Zan," he laughed. "I always win." He stood back and watched as Max as he bent over his fallen love and tried to wake her, her blood flowing on his hands.

"Liz?" he grabbed her hand and squeezed it. "Liz, love.... I need to you open your eyes," his voice faltered as tears began to run down his cheeks and drip of his chin. "Liz...."

She didn't move.

Max would have to heal her without a complete connection. "Please..." he muttered to anything or anyone who could possibly help them at this moment, and he placed one hand on her forehead and one on her chest and forced his mind to made a connection with hers.

After moment, he lifted his hand from her forehead. Something was wrong; he couldn't sense her. It was like there was nothing inside her head; she was gone. Suddenly, he looked up at Nicholas who was still smirking, and realized exactly had gone wrong. He had lost his powers—Nicholas had taken them away. Liz was dead, and he couldn't do anything.

"Liz no! Please Liz," he leaned in and kissed her forehead, hoping to see some sign of life. There was none. Sobbing quietly, Max pressed his forehead to her chest, almost willing a heartbeat to be there. But, her heart had indeed stopped. Taking in a shuddery breath, Max gently ran his palm over her eyes and they closed serenely.

His Liz had truly left him.

Slowly, Max stood from Liz’s fallen form, his legs shaking beneath him. Again, he looked up at Nicholas, pure hatred in his eyes. Nicholas, unaffected by Max’s piercing glare, merely smiled back at him. "If you want to prevent this, Max... meet me at the cave. Now."

~~~~~~~~

Max sat up in bed with a jolt. "Liz!"

Not wasting any time, he pulled a pair of jeans on over his boxers and crawled through his bedroom window. "Hang on love," he whispered. "I'm coming."

Max quickly ran over to the jeep and hopped in the drivers seat. His heart was pounding in his chest as he tried to put the key into the ignition. It took three tries until his shaking hand was finally able to put the key in and start the engine.

Screeching tires could be heard as the jeep pealed out of the Evans' driveway and raced off towards the reservation.

His headlights shone in front of him like a path leading him ever closer to his Liz. His knuckles were white from griping the steering wheel and he was travelling well in excess of the speed limit trying to get to his love before it was too late.

Max couldn't help but replay his dream over and over in his head. The thought of Liz dying was just too much to handle. Even though they kept saying they were just friends, he was still madly in love with her and wouldn't be able to live with himself if something happened to her because of who he was, what he was. If Nicholas hurt even one hair on her head, his death was going to be long and painful.

~~~~~~~~

Isabel, meanwhile, had woken up to the sound of screeching tires coming from the driveway. She quickly jumped up and ran into Max's room. Upon finding him gone she picked up the phone and dialled Michael's number. He was not going to be happy about this.

~~~~~~~~~

"Is everything going according to plan?" the older technician was again looking into a tinted glass window while sipping his sludge coffee.

His assistant nodded.

"The dreams?"

"Started tonight," the shorter man nodded again.

"Be careful, then," the senior tech cautioned. "We don’t want another Christmas debacle. Then we’d really be screwed."

"Right. I’ll see to it that it doesn’t happen again sir."

~~~~~~~~~

Meanwhile, Liz had been rudely awakened from a wonderful dream about Max, by a cold breeze that flew threw her room. 'That's funny,' she thought as she climbed out of bed and pulled the window shut, 'I could've sworn I closed that window before I went to bed.' Frowning inwardly at her own absentmindedness, she turned back to her bed, hoping to return to that ever so pleasant dream.

"Hello Liz," Nicholas stood in the middle of her room, a triumphant smile on his face.

Liz jumped back towards the window, "What.... what are you doing here?"

"Well," he took a step towards her, "After fighting so many battles with your precious Zan, or Max as you call him, I have learned that the only way that I can hurt him is through you. So," Nicholas took another step forward and extended his arm in her direction, "I intend to use that piece of information to my advantage."

"You... you can’t" she stuttered, trying to hide her fear. "Max is going to find you, Nicholas. You'll never.."

"...get away with this...." he finished for her. "That speech is so tired. I never intended on getting away with it in the first place! Max already knows that you are in danger, and I'm counting on him trying to save you. He’s walking right into a trap. And before I kill him, he's going to have to watch his true love die." An evil grin formed on Nicholas' face, as he took one final step towards her.

The last thing Liz could remember before the blackness, was yelling Max's name, and wishing that somehow, he could hear her.


Part 3

Back at the Evans', Isabel and Michael were sitting in the kitchen trying to figure out just where Max had gone in such a hurry.

"Did you even see what direction he went in?" Michael frowned and ran his hand though his too long and ragged hair.

"No," Isabel sighed, "The tires screeching woke me up. By the time I got to the window, he was long gone."

"Dammit Maxwell!" Michael slammed his fist on the kitchen table. This was not the first time Max had made a break for it without telling them, and with things such as they were with Nicholas and the other skins after them, running off on his own was the last thing that Max should've been doing. Michael stood up and angrily walked over to the window.

"He couldn't have gone far, Michael. Maybe I could dream walk him." Isabel sat at the table waiting for Michael to respond. He suddenly turned and looked at her expectantly. Isabel nodded and concentrated on trying to reach her brother. She was perfectly still, but you could see the effects of her attempts showing on her face. Finally she relaxed and opened her eyes.

"I can't reach him Michael. He's concentrating too hard. But," she paused.

"But what? What's happening?"

"I just feel this...." she frowned, "this anger. It’s radiating off him in waves; Max is furious. I've never sensed anything like that before, especially from him. It's like, he's being torn apart from the inside. Like his blood is boiling and...." she stopped. "He's afraid too. Really scared," she sat down at the table. "Something's wrong with him, Michael. Something is very wrong."

"We need to find him. Now."

~~~~~~

Max turned his headlights lights off as he neared the cave. He knew Nicholas could probably sense he was there but there was no reason to confirm it for him. He pulled over to the side of the road just before he was in view of the cave.

Max shut off his engine and tried to collect his thoughts. It would do no good to go running into the cave without a plan. Yes that was it-- he needed a plan.

Well, he thought to himself, the plan was simple, go in, throw Liz over his shoulder, take her back to his room, put her in as little clothing as possible, tie her to his bed, and make sure she never left his sight again. Okay, maybe he needed to think of another plan. That definitely wouldn't work. It'd be fun, but it wouldn't work. He would sneak in, find Liz, kill Nicholas, and then throw Liz over his shoulder and never let her more than two feet away from him for the rest of their lives. Yes, he liked that plan much better. Well, almost.

Not even bothering to take the keys out of the ignition, he jumped out of the jeep and ran toward the cave. He tried to ignore the sinking feeling that he would be too late—that Liz had already been taken from him.

As he ran, the sweat poured from his forehead and he wiped it away stubbornly with the back of his hand. "I'm coming, Liz. Just hang on a little longer," he thought, wishing that she could hear him. "I'm almost there."

~~~~~~

"Where would he have gone?"

"How the hell am I supposed to know?! You're the one with the self-pronounced psychic powers, or whatever," Michael snapped. He instantly regretted his words. Isabel stared at her hands, which were neatly folded in her lap; she was obviously hurt.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean that."

"It's alright. You're just worried about Max."

The silence that followed was deafening and lasted for several minutes until Isabel finally had an idea.

"What about Liz?"

"Huh?" Michael frowned. Somehow, their problems always came back to Max's floozy.

"Liz always knows where Max is. Maybe.... maybe she knows now," Isabel stopped pacing and picked up the phone. Dialling quickly, she looked at Michael, still seated at the table. For whatever reason, he didn't look happy.

The phone rang a several times before Isabel gave up. "She's not home."

"She's with Max."

"What? How do you know that?"

"Think about it Iz. Max ran off alone, in the middle of the night, without telling anyone. And now, you’ve sensed all this anger radiating off him, and he’s nowhere to be found. And," as if needed to continue, "he went out ALONE," he emphasised the last word. "Liz is bound to be involved somehow."

"Maybe I could..."

"...dreamwalk her," he finished for her. "Yea. It's worth a shot I guess."

Isabel sat down across from Michael and closed her eyes in concentration.

~~~~~~

Suddenly, black-and-white lights flashed all around her and then stopped. Once her vision had cleared, Isabel found herself in a dark, desolate landscape with burnt trees and a horrible odour—probably burnt flesh-- that permeated her clothes and hair. She turned in a circle and tried to get her bearings before noticing a small, broken down cabin in the distance. Trying to ignore the smell, and without hesitating further, she started to run towards it.

Isabel looked at the hideous land surrounding her and was instantly very worried. She could only imagine what state Liz was in at the moment if this was what her mind was like.

She reached the cabin and crashed through the door finding herself in a small enclosed room. Isabel looked around frantically for any sign of Liz. Finally, she noticed a small figure curled up in the fetal position in the corner of the room who was wearing pyjamas with little turtles on them. Her hair was long and brown—almost to her waist, and Isabel could barely hear her quiet sobs from the other corner of the room. She approached slowly, trying not to startle her. When she got close enough, she discovered that the figure was a child—a very traumatised young girl. Suddenly, recognition dawned on her, "Liz?"

"Isabel? Is that you?" the figure slowly raised her head and Isabel finally saw her face. She looked awful; her eyes were red and puffy from crying and her she had a nasty gash on her forehead.

"Oh my god, Liz. What happened?" Isabel asked as she bent down to comfort the other girl.

"It was horrible, he- he came in window while I was sleeping and told me he was go- going to kill Max,"
Liz got out while trying to hold back here tears.

"Who, who's after Max?" Isabel was frantic now. Somebody had her brother.

"Nicholas."

And with that one word Isabel's entire world came crashing down around her. They had not seen or heard from Nicholas since the incident in New York and they had been hoping that he would leave them alone for awhile; but apparently that was just too much to ask .

"Liz, look at me," Isabel told her as she shook Liz's shoulder, "where are you?"

"I- I don't know," her chin shook as fresh tears began to track their way down Liz's red cheeks. "The last thing I remember, was Nicholas telling me he was going to kill Max as he raised his arm toward me. Then everything just went black."

"Okay," Isabel failed to hide this disdain in her voice. "Liz..." she started, "I need you to wake up for me alright? It's the only way Michael and I will be able to find you... and Max." Isabel bent down slightly and offered Liz her hand, hoping that she would use it to stand up.

Considering her options for a moment, Liz stared at Isabel's outstretched hand. And, with one clear picture of Max in her mind, she took it and stood.

"Okay," her voice sounded far stronger and more confident than she felt.

"Good," Isabel smiled, somewhat relieved. "I'm going to stay with you, so that I can see where you are when you wake up."

Liz nodded.

"Be careful."

~~~~~~

Max knelt behind a rock that was well hidden from the entrance to the cave. He tried to determine what was going on inside while he caught his breath. There was no movement or light coming from the cave.

After waiting for what seemed like and eternity, Max rose from his hiding spot and started towards the small entrance. He paused to make sure that no noise was coming from the cave before continuing on into the all-consuming blackness.

He entered the cave not bothering to wait for his eyes to adjust to the darkness. With his right hand running along its rough wall, he continued deeper into the cave. Stumbling on some loose ground underfoot, he fell to his knees. He held his breath and waited for any indication that he had been heard. Hearing none, he quickly got to his feet and continued on his way.

His eyes had adjusted to the darkness now and he could make out the faint shape of the outcroppings and boulders that might be hazardous. After walking a few more meters, Max stopped and tried to get a better idea of his surroundings. The narrow corridor that he had been walking along and been gradually getting wider and he now stood in the cavern with the symbols on the opposing wall.

A quick scan revealed no sign of Liz. Max sighed in frustration; she had to be here somewhere. He remembered seeing passages that led out of this chamber on earlier visits, but no one had ever thought to explore them. I guess now would be as good a time as any, Max thought to himself as he continued along
the wall until he came to the first passageway.

He closed his eyes and tried to sense what was down that tunnel. He concentrated and reached out with his mind. He stayed in that position for a few minutes until his eyes suddenly opened. "Liz," he whispered into the darkness. He felt a tingling all over his body, and a light presence in his mind that was occurred whenever they were around each other. Cautiously, he moved out of the cavern he was in, and started to follow the slight ‘buzz’ he was getting from Liz.

As he continued walking down the hall, his feeling of Liz’s presence got stronger. "Hold on, I'm coming," he muttered trying to reassure her, even though he knew he could never hear him. He reached a fork in the tunnel after walking for a couple of hundred meters. Frantically, he looked to the left and the right trying to decide which was the better way to go. He picked the right and started to pick up the pace as Liz's presence in his mind grew stronger.

He knew he was getting closer now, he could feel Liz's jumbled emotions. He couldn't tell what some of them were, but the strongest he could pick up on were fear and saddness. Her fear, however, was not for herself; it was for him. He felt his guilt rising within him; if it weren't for him she wouldn’t be in this mess to begin with. She’d be home safe dreaming about her Prince Charming whisking her away with a love ballad and a bouquet of perfect, white roses. But, he couldn’t honestly tell himself that he would change what had happened to them if he was given the chance. Even if it would erase all the heartache and pain that everyone had suffered over the past year and a half because of him, he didn't know if he could give up having Liz Parker in his arms, if even for a short while.

He shook his head to clear the thoughts as he rounded a corner. Suddenly he found himself in a small room, his eyes drawn to an unconscious figure in the corner.

"Liz," he cried as he rushed to her side. There was a nasty gash on her forehead that had stopped bleeding long ago, but had left her face was covered in dried blood. "Oh my god Liz. What did he do to you?" Max whispered, his guilt ringing in his ears as he examined her for anymore wounds.

Staring back at her face he ran his fingers through her hair and willed her to wake up. "Come on Liz, open your eyes." He looked at her face for and pleaded with her to awaken until finally, her eyes started to flutter open.

"Liz?" he muttered through tears. She was awake; she was going to be okay. "Are you alright, love?" he accidentally used an old pet name.

"Max?" Liz stared at him in confusion. "No Max!" she looked around the cave frantically. "You have to get out of here! It’s a trap," she paused. "He’s coming."


Part4

"The cave," Isabel’s head shot off the table. "They’re at the cave." She stood up immediately and started to madly grab at things concentrating on nothing but saving her brother. "We have to go! We have to save him now!"

"Wait, slow down," Michael told her as he grabbed her arm and swung her to face him. "Tell me what happened."

"Nicholas, he took Liz," Michael stared at her wide eyed as she continued. "He’s taken her to the cave out on the reservation. He’s trying to," Isabel stopped, unsure on whether she should reveal the rest to Michael.

"Yes…" Michael prompted her.

"He wants Max," she sighed knowing this wouldn’t go over well.

"Great, I knew this was going to happen," he fumed and started to pace back and forth. "We’ll just have to stop him before he gets there."

"Michael."

"I can’t believe Max would do such a reckless thing. I mean there were reasons we
didn’t get involved humans in the first place."

"Michael, he-"

"We always knew that we’d put people in danger. That’s why we stayed away," he was unconsciously talking about him and Maria. "We need to find him."

"Michael," Isabel yelled at him, upset with being interrupted so many times.

He finally looked at her.

"Max is already there."

Michael was silent before he finally registered the news he’d just received. "Shit," he grabbed his coat and started towards the door. He walked out slamming it behind him. Isabel just waited in the kitchen. A moment later she heard the door open again and Michael walked back into the kitchen. "The
jeep’s gone."

"Max took it, remember," Isabel told him as she walked over to the phone. She picked it up and handed it to him. He looked at the phone as if it would jump out Isabel’s hand and bite him at any second. Isabel raised her eyebrows and stared at him before saying, "I don’t know Maria’s number."

Michael reluctantly took the phone and dialed. Finally he heard someone pick up on the other end of the line, "Hello?"

~~~~~~~~~

"Hello?" Maria groggily picked up her phone. What was it with people calling her at three in the morning anyway?! Couldn't she just solve their problems at a more reasonable hour? And whoever was calling interrupted a particularly interesting dream this time too. She had been at Isabel's birthday party, and everything about it was the same as before, only this time, the stripper in the policeman's outfit and silver g-string wasn't Alex-it was Michael. And the strip tease wasn't for Isabel, it was for her. And this time, Mrs. Evans didn't walk in in the middle of the Michael's private dance that wasn't so private.

Needless to say, Maria was not pleased about the interruption.

"Maria?

"Michael? It's three am! What do you want?" she asked.

"We need to use your car. Please."

Maria sighed. She should've known. "You woke me up at three o'clock in the morning because you felt like taking a joyride?! I don't think you really...."

"Max and Liz are missing."

A sudden chill ran down Maria's spine. "W-what?"

"You heard me."

"How?"

"Nicholas," Michael said simply. "He came into Liz's room through the window and....he took her. We aren't sure what's going on, but Izzy dreamwalked her, and she's with Max, at the cave."

Maria jumped out of bed. "I'm on my way."

She quickly hung up the phone, grabbed her keys from the counter, and ran out to her car. She hadn’t even bothered to change out of her flannel, glow in the dark, Buffy the Vampire Slayer pyjamas—they were her favourite—decorated with little crosses, stakes, bottles of holy water, and cartoon versions of all the characters. Xander was her favourite—wearing a Scooby Doo shirt and some incredibly tacky corduroy pants. Putting the keys in the ignition, she sighed loudly. Our lives are... different from other peoples, she thought. Shaking her head, and wishing for just a moment that her life was at least somewhat normal, she hit the gas and sped off towards the Evans’ residence.

~~~~~~

When Maria pulled up in front of the house, Michael and Isabel were already waiting outside. Michael opened Maria's door and Isabel climbed quickly into the back seat.

"Nice pyjamas."

"I was in a hurry. Remember? Max and Liz in trouble? Some things are more important than clothes, Michael."

"Really. Well, you could’ve fooled me," he remarked.

"Shut-up, Spaceboy."

"Out," he ordered to her. "I'm driving."

"No way!" Maria put her hands firmly on the steering wheel. After what happened last time, Maria was not about to let Michael drive her car again.

"Maria," he sighed-why was she always so stubborn?! "Max and Liz are in some serious trouble. We need to get to the reservation as fast as possible, and..." he paused, "You drive like a 90yr old blind man."

Maria sighed, but conceded. "Fine."

She got out of the car and jumped into the back with Isabel. Michael hopped in the front seat and immediately hit the gas. The Jetta lurched forward, and they headed off in the direction of the reservation. "My car can’t go that fast anyway—it’s a Jetta, remember?"

"Michael?" Maria peeked at him from between the front seats.

"What?" he didn't look at her.

"Just um.... you know, don't crash my car. Cuz, you know, I just got that really nice new bumper... and it’d be a shame if you crushed it."

"I'll try my best," Michael smiled dispite himself.

~~~~~~

"Are you okay, Liz" Max sat down beside her on the cave floor and looked her up and down. She had a huge gash down the side of her forehead, an a line of blood had made it’s way down to her chin where it had dried. Other than that, he could see no signs of physical injury.

"Yea..." she struggled to speak. "Max..." she took his hand. "You have to get out of here."

Max could hardly hear her.

"Nicholas is here," she looked around frantically, trying to locate her abductor. "It's a trap. He's after you, Max. He wants you dead."

"I know," he smiled calmly.

Liz frowned at him.

"I had to save you," he smiled.

"No Max," she shook her head. "Get out of here, please."

"I'm not leaving you," he stated simply.

Liz stared at him in wonder. For the millionth time, he was putting his life in danger for her. He was putting the future of his planet in danger just to save her life. Even after she'd betrayed him-after she'd treated him so horribly, he was still coming to her rescue.

"Okay," she smiled through tears.

"Can you stand?"

"I... I don't know."

Max stood and grabbed Liz's hand. Slowly, he pulled her into a standing position and he let her steady herself on his shoulder. Carefully, he wrapped one arm around her waist and stepped forward. At first, she followed-step for step, clinging to Max as her legs wobbled painfully beneath her. After a few steps, her weakened legs gave way and Max caught her before she fell to the cave floor.

"Here," Max pulled her to her feet again. This time, he placed her arm around his shoulder and lifted her into his arms. She hung onto him for dear life, pressing her face into his chest. The smell of his sweat-what Liz had affectionately termed, "the Max smell"-suddenly overtook her, and in instant, she realized how much she truly missed him.

Holding Liz against him like this, was exquisite torture. He couldn't be with her-she made that much very clear-but moments like these, when he could actually smell her hair, the sweet scent of her strawberry and vanilla shampoo, and he could hear her breathing softly against him-made him want to question her resolve further. He knew in his heart that she loved him, but she cared about him, Michael and Isabel too for them to fall back on old habits.

Slowly, he walked towards the entrance of cave, looking for any sign of Nicholas; there was none. 'Strange,' he thought and he frowned as he continued to walk to the exit.

Liz noticed Max's look, and immediately asked him what was wrong.

"I just.... it's strange...I don't know where Nicholas is, and he wouldn't just let us leave," Max looked down at girl in his arms.

"Going somewhere, Max?" Nicholas emerged from behind some rocks, blocking their exit.

Max said nothing.

"My, my..." Nicholas smirked, "That was quite the reunion you two had. Better be careful now," he shook his finger at them condescendingly. " We don't want to fall back on only habits now, do we?"

Max glared at him, passing on an unspoken warning.

"Oh," Nicholas was laughing now. "Don't scare me, Max!" He paused for a moment, as if debating his next action, then turned to Liz, "He'll never give up on you, you know. It won't matter how much you tell him that you don't love him anymore, he'll be pining for you until he's tortured and killed-which may be sooner than you think."

Now Max was angry. He carefully lay Liz down on the cave floor and whispered to her to stay put. She looked at him sadly, obviously worried for his safety. Max read her mind-"don't worry about me, Liz. I'll be fine. You just stay put, and I'll come back for you soon."

She nodded through her tears. "Good luck, Max," she fought the urge to tell him that she still loved him-that she would always love him.

He nodded, and then turned back towards Nicholas.

Nicholas watched Max gingerly lay his love down on the floor of the cave; he had this, sort of, desperate look in his eyes. The two lovers were doomed, and he couldn't help but feel sorry for them, even though they were mortal enemies. Any idiot could see that they would be pining for each other for the rest of their lives, only their case, it was a waste of everyone's time. Liz had finally realized it, but it seemed that Max never would. What would it take?

"Gee, Max," Nicholas took a step toward him and nodded in Liz's direction. "She doesn't look so good. Maybe, she's, I dunno, sick or something."

Max took a step towards Nicholas, forcing him to step back. He wanted to keep their battle as far away from Liz as possible. Before setting himself to the battle, Max glanced at her sadly once more. Liz smiled at him and nodded her head.

Again, Nicholas noticed the intense connection between the lovers. 'Hmmm.... perhaps I can use this for my advantage.'

"Give it up, Max!" Nicholas yelled. "She doesn't love you anymore!"

Max turned to face him again, anger written all over his features.

"She wants a normal life, can't you see that?"

Max took a step forward.

"You could never be good enough for her."

Max took another step forward.

"She wants a normal guy, not a freak for future."

Another step.

"You're destined to marry Tess, not Liz."

Another.

"She doesn't trust you anymore, Max. She's afraid of you."

And another.

"She doesn't love you-maybe she never did. Face it, Max. You were just a phase. Get over it; she obviously has."

That did it; Max took a final step toward Nicholas and raised his arm, pointing his hand in his enemy's direction. His eyes were like fire-showing all the anger he had in him. "Shut up," he spoke with a frightening calm in his voice. A spark left his hand in a flash, hitting Nicholas with full force, throwing him against the cave wall.

Nicholas stood gingerly and brushed himself off-Max's powers had hardly done a thing. This was going to be a difficult fight.

"Gee Max," he smiled, "Is that all you've got? I'll bet your EX girlfriend could do a better job! Maybe I'll try her..." Nicholas took a step toward Liz, who was now paralysed with fear.

"No!" Max yelled. He ran up behind Nicholas and grabbed him by the shoulders. Nicholas didn't even seem to notice. Again, Max used his powers, and this time, they had even less effect. Nicholas simply fell to his knees in front of Max.

Nicholas laughed.

Max was desperate; he had no weapons, and his powers weren't working. He was afraid that once Nicholas had finished with him, he'd be going after his Liz.

Suddenly, Nicholas stood in front of him. "You had your chance, Max. You failed," he spat the words angrily. Without warning, he lifted Max into the air with his powers, and watched happily as he seemed to almost suck the life right out of him.

Liz watched in horror as Nicholas held Max in the air. He writhed in pain, his hands grasping at his throat as if he was unable to breathe. Finally, she couldn't take it anymore. Using every ounce of strength she had, she stood and ran toward Nicholas. "Stop!" she screamed as she threw her body into his.

Max fell to the ground in a tangle of limbs. His breath came in short gasps and he struggled to even stand.

"Geez Max," Nicholas glared, "your girlfriend isn't very smart, is she?" He turned to Liz and raised his arm. For the second time that day, Liz flew against a wall, hitting it head first and instantly loosing consciousness.

"No!" Max screamed as he struggled to get up to his feet. Nicholas turned to face him again.

"Don't you get it, Max? I always win in the end. Kivar always wins," he corrected himself.

Max raised his arm a final time and focused. His eyes glazed over, he threw his last ounce of strength into his power, letting it release from his fingertips. He could feel the electricity running all over his body, and he had to close his eyes to keep from falling over from dizziness. A strange, almost unnatural blue light erupted from his fingertips and hit Nicholas directly in the chest. The force of the blow threw Nicholas into the air and he slammed into in the cave wall with all the force of a severe car accident. He slid down the wall, his body landing in a jumbled pile on the cave floor.

Max, was not left uninjured by the use of his power. After Nicholas had drained him, using his powers had been almost deadly. He fell to the ground in an unconscious heap.

The only one still awake, Nicholas slowly stood brushing the dirt from his pants. His legs were weak, and he wobbled forward towards Max's sleeping form. "Like I said, Max," he raised his arm a final time, preparing to deliver the final blow. "I always win. Always."

Nicholas stepped towards Max's unconscious form. Focusing his power, he closed his eyes and raised his arm at his enemy. Max, still sleeping soundly, was unaware of the immediate, mortal danger he was in.

Suddenly, a blue fire, similar to the fire Max had produced earlier, erupted from Nicholas' fingers and hit Max square in the chest.

The pain that shot through Max's body pulled him from his peaceful slumber and he quickly awoke, staring intently at his attacker. His skin felt like it was on fire as the blue light danced up and down his him entire body. He could feel his life being drained from him, as if it was dripping from the pores in his skin. Nicholas watched, as he writhed in agony for a few moments, before giving up, and lying motionless on the cave floor.

This was the end--Max struggled to turn and look at Liz one last time. She looked so peaceful in her unconscious slumber. "Goodbye, love," he managed to choke out. He smiled at her and whispered that he loved her, before his eyes closed for the final time.

Part 5

Nicholas smirked as he saw Max close his eyes. He really had won.

"Hey!" a foreign voice rang out through the cave, and forced Nicholas to stop and turn toward the cave entrance.

"You're too late; your 'leader' is dead," Nicholas smirked.

Michael glanced at Max; his eyes were closed, and he wasn't breathing. He turned back to Nicholas, the rage evident on his face. Without a word, he raised his arm into the air and felt his power fly through his body as it never had before. He threw his head back and closed his eyes, almost loosing control of the fire that erupted from his fingers.

The light seemed to hit Nicholas everywhere. His body was lifted from the ground, and he seemed to simply hang in mid-air, writhing in agony as Max had earlier.

After a few moments, Nicholas stopped moving, and his eyes drifted shut. Michael dropped his arm, and Nicholas fell to the floor, his eyes still closed.

"Max!" Isabel entered the cave, and she and Michael ran to Max's side. Maria entered just behind them, and ran to Liz's who was lying on the opposite side of the cave.

"Liz?" her breathing was deep and even. "Liz?" Maria shook her slowly. "Wake up, sweetie."

Slowly, Liz's eyes opened, and she surveyed her surroundings. "Maria?"

"I'm here."

She tried to sit up, "Where... where's Max."

Maria winced. "He's... he's over there," she gestured to where Michael and Isabel were trying to revive Max.

"What happened? What's wrong with him?"

"Um.... we don't know what's wrong. He's not breathing," she shook her head. "When we got here, Nicholas had him in some sort of, thrall," she struggled to describe the situation. "There was this blue light, sort of, dancing all over his skin. I think it was burning him... like... from the inside."

"Max?" Liz began to crawl towards him. "Max?!" she called again, louder. "Please, Max," her voice cracked, and tears began to drift down her cheeks.

"Liz," Maria grabbed her arm. "I think you should lie down."

"No," she shook her friend's hand from her shoulder. "I have to help Max," she sobbed as she continued to crawl towards him.

"He... he still has a pulse," Isabel held her fingertips to Max's wrist. "It's weak, though."

"We need to get him breathing," Maria stated a matter of fact-ly.

Isabel looked at Max, and then up to Michael. Michael looked at Isabel, down to Max and then back up to Isabel.

At the same time, "You do it!" they both muttered.

"I’m not doing it! You do it!"

"Gross, no! I’m not doing it."

"For god sakes you two!" Maria frowned. "Someone do it!"

"Fine," they both said again.

"Okay," Michael stood. "You do it, Izzy."

"Ummm... you volunteered first!"

"No I didn't! You were the one who..."

Maria suddenly pushed the two aside, and brought her mouth down on Max's, breathing the life back into him.

Michael and Isabel stared at each other sheepishly. "How could you? He's your brother?!"

"Yea.... well you're his second in command!"

"Guys," Liz's sobbing interrupted their argument. She was staring intently at Max, who still was not breathing. Liz held his hand to her face as Maria continued to give him mouth-to-mouth.

"Please, Max," Liz pleaded. "Don't leave me now....please."

Maria continued to breathe into Max's mouth until suddenly, his eyes flashed open and began to cough.

"Finally! Geez," Maria leaned back on her knees. "Inconsiderate much?" she stared at Max. "I was getting all dizzy and light headed and you just took your sweet time waking up didn't you!"

Max just frowned at her, obviously confused.

"I probably just lost a bunch of brain cells because of you! If I fail Monday’s history test, it’s all your fault!"

Max was still confused.

Without warning, Liz tumbled onto Max, seemingly oblivious to the pain that it was causing both of them. "Don't you ever scare me like that again! I though you were dead!" she caressed his cheek gently. "I couldn't stand it if you left me..."

Suddenly, it was like there was no one else with them in that cave; Max and Liz were completely immersed in each other.

"I could...I could never leave you..." Max was able to choke out. "I love you, Liz. I'll always love you... you know that," he took her hand and pressed it to his dry lips. The gesture brought new tears to her eyes.

"I know... but," she suddenly remembered the new responsibility that future Max had giver her. She couldn’t get involved with him again. She couldn’t. She finally continued, "you shouldn't. Please," she slowly pulled her hand away. "Don't."

That single word, and that terribly sad look on her face, caused Max more pain than anything Nicholas had ever done or anything done to him in the white room. His Liz had given up on him, and was moving on to her normal life.

"Ummm guys?" Maria interrupted their saddened reverie. "Guys?"

"What is it Maria," Liz whispered.

"Nicholas is.... um.... moving." she gestured to where Nicholas was once laying. He had moved into a precarious standing position, and he was leaning against the wall of the cave to keep from falling.

"Maria?" Michael looked at her, "He's standing already! We’re a little past the whole moving thing! Max really did kill some of those brain cells, didn’t he?"

"Sorry!" she looked angry. "At least I noticed him!"

Nicholas finally interrupted their arguing. He looked straight at Max and Liz and shook his head, laughing in a way that made everyone shiver. "You two have no idea what you're in for," he stumbled forward. "Max," he laughed again and then stared at Liz, "I feel sorry for your bitch. She's in for quite the ride."

Max suddenly got a look of pure venom in his eyes. He wanted so badly to stand, and kill Nicholas just for talking about Liz that way, but he couldn't make his limbs move.

"And Max," Nicholas looked at him again, smiling. "You're going to wish I killed you."

Suddenly, a white light erupted around Nicholas and seemed to pull him away. As he faded, he looked to the three members of the Royal four one last time. "He's coming for you."


Part 6

"So what's the damage?"

"Actually, it went fairly well—much like we expected," the short executive pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose, and sipped his coffee. "We had one tiny mishap, but everything turned out well in the end."

"And the system?"

"I think we'll be seeing a few more glitches, but nothing huge."

"And what if they notice any of these 'glitches'?" the other man, in his very expensive looking Armani suit asked.

"Well.... um..."

"You better hope they don’t," he turned and walked away from the lab tech, who looked visibly calmed by his exit. "Both our butts are on the line here. I hope you know that," he shook his head, and left the room. He had put all his trust in some computer geek; if he didn't come through, it would mean the end of the project, and there would be hell to pay, that was for sure.

~~~~~~

Michael and Isabel helped Liz and Max up off the cave floor. As soon as he was back on his feet, Max was at Liz’s side, helping her to walk even though he struggled to move himself.

"Liz, you’re hurt," he looked at the nasty gash on her forehead, and stopped walking for a moment. Taking an unsteady step towards her, he reached out and placed a gentle hand on her forehead and made an easy connection. It took so much more effort than usual because of his fight with Nicholas; his powers were almost completely drained. As he healed her torn tissues, he got flashes of Nicholas in her room, talking about him, hurting her. He could feel her fear and pain. She had known immediately that he would come to her rescue and the thought had terrified her. She hadn’t wanted to put him in any danger.

Exhausted, Max broke the connection and reluctantly took his hand from her forehead. "Better?"

She could barely nod.

"Max," Isabel took her brother’s arm. "We should get her home."

Max wrapped Liz’s arm around his shoulder and immediately she leaned into him.

"Max," Michael warned. "Let us take her. You’re weak... or whatever," he said in his usual emotionless fashion.

"I’m fine," he lied. The small amount of weight Liz was adding to his shoulders was making his legs wobble and put him in danger of falling, but he didn’t care. He wasn’t going to let her go. "C’mon Liz," he walked, or rather, stumbled towards the car with Michael, Isabel and Maria shaking their heads sadly after them.

"Those two are just.... doomed, aren’t they?" Maria sighed. It was more of a statement than a question.

Michael and Isabel could only nod.

~~~~~~~

Liz held onto Max for dear life. She buried her head into his shoulder and closed her eyes; this was where she always felt safe, locked securely in his strong arms.

Max could feel Liz’s dishevelled hair brushing across his bare chest as her head fell to rest on his shoulder. He sweet scent of strawberries and vanilla immediately overtook him, and it seemed to seep into every pore of his body, as if taunting him with the fact that she was so close, yet he could never have her. In all honesty, this was killing him. All Max wanted to do was find a quiet place where they could be alone so he could escape his destiny for a while, and curl up next to her and fall asleep with her in his arms. He wanted to kiss her everywhere, and bury his face in her hair. He wanted to be allowed to tell her that he loved her, and he wanted her to still love him back. He didn’t know if she really did anymore.

But for now he’d have to be content with holding her close as they stumbled towards his car.

Before they could get to the jeep, Isabel ran in front of them. "I hope you don’t think you’re driving, Max!" she climbed into the front seat.

Max smiled, "I was going to, but you go ahead." That way, he could sit with Liz in the back.

He let Liz in ahead of him, and she crawled—or rather, tumbled into the back seat of the Jeep. Max climbed in after her and as soon as he sat down, Liz had her head on his shoulder. She began to drift off, her fatigue finally taking over.

"Goodnight, Liz," Max kissed the top of her head gently, and of course, received a frown from Isabel. She turned away from Max while shaking her head sadly. He was never going to get over her. It didn’t matter what happened, Liz would always be his weakness, and Max would always be running to her rescue.

Focusing her mind on going home, Isabel went to turn on the car; the key, for some reason, was not in the ignition.

"Max? Where’s the key?" she looked at him through the rear-view mirror.

"I left it in the ignition," he whispered, careful not to wake Liz.

"No. No you didn’t. It’s not here," she didn’t bother to look again.

"I was in such a rush that I never took it out!"

"Well someone must’ve, because..." she stopped. The key was locked into the ignition and Max’s UFO Center keychain was swinging back and forth in the air.

"See," Max frowned at her. "It’s right there."

"Max..." Isabel looked puzzled. "That key wasn’t there a second ago. I swear it wasn’t."

"It was," Max sounded confident. "You’re just tired, that’s all."

"That must be it." Shaking her head and sighing, she turned the key and the Jeep roared to life. Nonchalantly, she looked over her shoulder and pulled out onto the road, heading in the direction of the Crashdown.

~~~~~~~

Michael and Maria took Maria’s Jetta home. After arguing about it for close to 20 minutes, Maria had convinced Michael to let her drive. Actually, she had threatened to leave him in the middle of the highway if he didn’t let her drive her own car. She had also explained that she wasn’t planning on letting one more thing happen to her car—especially since Michael had just put her precious new bumper on it. Eventually, Michael gave in, too tired to argue about it further, and he climbed into the passenger seat.

Triumphantly, Maria climbed into the driver’s seat and happily drove onto the highway.

"So," she didn’t look at him. "What do you think happened before we got there?"

"How the hell should I know?" he snapped. "Max is out of control! Who knows what’s going on in his head anymore."

Maria didn’t answer at first. She hated it when Michael got upset; he usually didn’t yell at her, in fact, Max was usually his target, but today she had been unable to escape his agitation. "I um... I guess we’ll find out in the morning. Liz and I are working tomorrow, so I can talk to her then."

"Sure. Fine. Whatever," he pretended not to care.

"Michael," she didn’t look at him.

"I’m sorry," he said immediately, not letting her finish. "I just... I’m so tired of having to put up with Max’s crap!"

"Well, what was he supposed to do, Michael? Just let Nicholas kill Liz? We both know he’s capable."

"I know," he sighed. "But—he could’ve called us before running off. I’m tired of having to save his butt all the time!"

"Not to play devil’s advocate here... but hasn’t Max saved your ass on numerous occasions?"

Michael was silent for a moment. Maria was right—he just wouldn’t admit it, of course. Instead, he continued his previous train of though. "The point is, if he had gotten over Liz after the incident with Tess, like he was told to, we wouldn’t be in this situation in the first place."

Maria ground her teeth angrily. "You can’t choose who you love, Michael. You just love them. Max loves Liz, and he can’t change that just because some weird vision lady says he’s going to marry the gerbil."

"The who?"

"Nevermind. Inside joke... and you wouldn’t understand."

Michael was silent again. He was struck by the passion for which Maria spoke of Max and Liz. He knew she wanted them to be together because Max made Liz happy—which was why she always insisted on sticking her nose in their relationship to make sure everything was going alright. Right. It was for Liz. Sure. Michael almost believed it.

Finally, he spoke. "Maria, I know you want them to be together, but..." he paused because he noticed that she had kept her eyes on the road, and seemed to be ignoring him. "Look at me, Maria."

"Sorry, Michael. Can’t. I’m driving. Remember my whole speech about not crashing my car again?"

"Right. Sorry. Anyway, I know you care about their happiness, but you need to realize that their relationship isn’t good for anyone—especially Max and Liz. Nicholas and Kivar will keep using her against us because they know how Max feels about her," he swallowed. "Plus, Max has his destiny to worry about. We have to care about a whole other planet here, Maria. He has responsibilities, and Liz is just a distraction. They love each other, sure, but in their case, it’s just not enough. There are too many obstacles—can’t you see that?"

This time, Maria was silent. She knew that in some ways, Michael was right—and of course, he was more right than he knew because him and Max had yet to find out about why Liz had pretended to sleep with Kyle.

Michael continued, "He can’t forsake his destiny and his responsibilities for her, Maria. He’s going to end up getting us all killed. I mean, you don’t see me obsessing over some girl to the point that I can’t think clearly any more."

Maria sighed. Again, Michael was sort of right. But, Max wanted to put his destiny, his responsibilities on the line for Liz—he loved her that much. Michael just... he just didn’t feel that way about her. He had basically just admitted it. He wouldn’t his precious destiny on the line for HER. She was just his... his... temporary.

A single tear began to make it’s way down her face and she wiped it away stubbornly with the back of her hand. It didn’t matter though, because another tear followed the first, and then another after that, and another, until they flowed in an uncontrollable river down her cheeks. She didn’t bother to wipe them away.

"Maria," Michael reached for her, regretting what he had said; he gave her the wrong idea completely.

"Don’t, Michael," she tried to snap at him, but it came out as a tortured sob instead. "Just... shut up okay. Shut up."

Maria stopped the car as they pulled up outside Michael’s apartment building. "Get out."

"I’m sorry," he whispered as he got out of the car. He had barely closed the door when Maria peeled away. Sometimes, he could be such an asshole.

~~~~~~~~

The remainder of the drive home was relatively silent. Isabel left Max and Liz to have a few moments of peace with each other and did not disrupt their reverie. Instead, she stared intently at the road in front of her, unconsciously heading to the Crashdown as she pondered Nicholas’ final words to them. "He’s coming for you...." Isabel could feel a ball of intense fear forming in the pit of her stomach, and she knew that whatever was coming for them wouldn’t give up until they the royal four were completely destroyed.

Max held Liz in his arms as she slept soundly. Every so often, he would brush a stray hair from her eyes, or gently kiss her forehead. And each time, Liz muttered his name in her sleep, and latched onto him tighter.

When they finally arrived at the Crashdown, Max gently woke Liz and Isabel helped the two of them up to Liz’s balcony and through her bedroom window.

"I’ll be waiting in the car, Max. Don’t be long," Isabel whispered. She wanted to get home as soon as possible and she feared that they would wake Liz’s parents.

"Okay." Max watched as Isabel climbed out the window and closed it carefully behind her. Giving her brother a final warning glance, she climbed off the balcony and walked to the car. As soon as she was gone, Max turned his attention back to Liz, who was presently wobbling precariously in the middle of the room.

"Max?" she whispered. "I’m... so... dizzy," she swayed back and forth. Just as her knees gave way, Max wrapped his arms around her waist, and stopped her from falling.

"I’ve got you, Liz. Don’t worry. You’re alright now," he stood still for a moment allowing her to regain her balance. Once she seemed somewhat steady, he lifted her into his arms and carried her to her bed-- her blankets were still bunched at the bottom from when she had gotten up earlier that night. Wordlessly, he lay her tiny body on the bed and pulled the blankets up to her chin. "Goodnight Liz," he leaned down and kissed her forehead gently.

"Max?" she whispered, her voice barely audible.

He turned around. "Uh huh?"

"I need to talk to you for a second before you go."

"Okay," he sat down on the side of her bed. "What’s up?"

"I umm.... well... about that thing with... um..." she wanted so badly to tell him about what had really happened with Kyle—that she hadn’t really slept with him, and that she only made him think she did so that she could save the world. But, she couldn’t. She couldn’t possibly be so selfish, could she? No. "Um.... thank-you for saving my life tonight."

Max frowned; he could tell that that wasn’t what she had originally planned to say to him. "Your welcome. I.. um... could never leave you with Nicholas. Never."

"I know," she barely nodded. "Max?"

"Yes?"

"Will you stay with me until I fall asleep? You know, just to make sure Nicholas doesn’t come back."

"Of course," he sighed as he lay down on the bed beside her. Instantly, she rolled into him, pressing her face into his still-bare chest. Max wrapped his arms around her protectively—holding her as if someone was trying to steal her from him. "Goodnight Liz," he leaned down and kissed her head.

"Goodnight Max," she mumbled into him.

It didn’t take long for Liz to fall back to sleep; however, Max still didn’t want to leave her alone. He felt so serene with her lying in his arms, and he wanted to make the moment last as long as possible. But—Isabel was still waiting in the car, and they had to go home before the sun came up and their parents noticed they were missing.

Sighing sadly to himself, he gently rolled Liz off his body and pulled her blankets back up, being careful not to wake her.

"Bye," he whispered, and he leaned down, took her cheeks in his hands, and kissed her soft lips. His first thought was that he shouldn’t be doing this—but his guilt was interrupted by a flash.


Part 7

Flash.

"I Liz Parker, take Max Evans to be my..."

Flash.

"No, you're not Max, ok? You...you're like a shapeshifter. You are like some other kind of alien, with, like, the ability to look like Max with that beard and those...and those grey hairs."

"Do you really see grey?"

Flash.

"Liz, what's about to happen over the next few days is critical to the history of this planet. Things between us are about to change...grow deeper. We become inseparable, and nothing comes between us ever again,
until..."

"The...the end of the world?"

Flash.

"Oh, that's great. There you are, Max the Saint, just walking around with
a condom in his back pocket."

Flash.

What the hell was that?! Max pulled away from Liz, his body shaking from the images he had just seen coming from her. She had been talking to him... only it wasn’t him. It was an older him, with long graying hair... wearing leather pants?! Max looked down at his sleeping love, who had not stirred. "Liz?"

No response.

What the hell?!?! Something strange was definitely going on with her. Why would there be images of an older him in her mind. When had that happened? HOW had that happened? And more importantly, why hadn’t she told him? Could this have something to do with Kyle, and why she’d been pushing him away lately?

"Max!"

He was startled from his reverie by Isabel, who was standing just inside the window. Max hadn’t even heard her come in.

"Isabel?"

"C’mon! It’s six thirty! Dad’ll be up soon!" she whispered angrily. She couldn’t believe how irresponsible he was being. "I told you not to take too long."

"Sorry," he turned toward the window and followed her out. As he closed it behind him, he stared at Liz for a moment—she was sound asleep, a sweet half-smile on her face. "Bye Liz," he whispered just so that Isabel was unable to hear him. She was halfway down the ladder anyway.

"Today, Max!" she muttered angrily.

"I’m coming, I’m coming," he followed her. He’d have to talk to Liz later. Something was definitely going on with her, and he intended to find out exactly what it was.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Isabel pulled into their driveway and parked the car. She turned to find Max sprawled across the back seat, clearly asleep. He was so tired from previous events that he had all but collapsed when they had returned to the Jeep. "Hey, Max, we’re home," Isabel hated to wake him as he was still drained from his fight with Nicholas. That little turd was going to get what was coming to him.

Max opened his eyes and squinted at his sister, "We’re home, already?" Isabel just looked at him with an expression that was a cross between pity and amusement. Just as she was about to get out of the car she heard Max call out to her, "Iz, can you help me inside." God, she was being such an idiot, here was her brother, all exhausted from fighting an evil alien that had about a hundred times his power, and she was just worried about getting some sleep.

Max put his arm around Isabel’s shoulder as she helped him over to his window. He tried to walk on his own, barely putting any weight on Isabel, but he was just too weak and finally accepted her help. They managed to get through the window without causing too much of a disturbance. Isabel helped him over to
the bed and took his shoes off. She turned to go to her own room, but stopped and turned back to Max. She looked down at her brother and asked, "How did you know?"

"Huh?" Max managed to mumble as he opened his eyes to look at Isabel.

"How did you know that Liz was in danger?" Isabel asked again, "and where to find her?" The question had been plaguing her thoughts all night.

"Nicholas," was the short reply from Max as he shifted into a sitting position, sensing that Isabel wanted answers. "He came into my dreams and told me that he was going to kill Liz if I didn’t come to him."

"And you didn’t think it was a trap?"

"I knew it was a trap, Iz. What did you expect me to do, just leave Liz in his hands?"

"No, I just," Isabel was frustrated with her brother, he could be so irrational at times. "I just wish you would have asked someone to go with you."

"There really wasn’t any time," Max defended himself, " I didn’t want him to hurt Liz." As he said her name, an odd expression came over his face. He couldn’t help but remember what had happened that evening, and seeing those scenes from Liz’s mind. What did it mean?

"What happened Max," Isabel’s voice jerked him out of his musings.

"I went in and found her unconscious, then when we were going to the entrance of the cave Nicholas..."

"No. I mean, what happened in Liz’s room? You were up there for a long time," Isabel has wondered what she had walked in on earlier.

"Nothing happened Isabel," he lied. She looked at him sceptically. "She asked me to stay until she fell asleep, that’s all."

"Then why were you kissing her?"

"What?!"

"I was worried about you so I came up to get you and, I saw you Max," she admitted. She hadn’t meant to spy on her brother.

"I can’t believe you did that," Max said astonished that his sister could do that to him.

"I didn’t mean to. You had been up there for so long and it was getting late. So I came up to check on you and… how could you Max?" Max had a confused look on his face at that comment. "I thought you’d finally come to your senses about Liz, you were staying away from her."

"Isabel, it’s complicated," Max’s voice was strained and full of emotion.

"Why can’t you tell me?" she asked, sitting beside him on his bed.

"I just need some time."

Isabel looked at her brother's expression and felt sorry for him. He had obviously been through hell the past couple of week, even their parents were starting to get suspicious. She stood up and walked to the door. "Good night Max," she said softly as she went to her room.

Max lay back down on the bed and closed his eyes. He tried for a while to stay awake, wanting to ponder what he had seen further, but his fatigue eventually overtook him, and he drifted into a restless and dreamless sleep.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The red Jetta pulled up in front of her single story house. Maria sat in the driver's seat willing herself to calm down. The confrontation with Michael had upset her more than she was willing to admit. She had managed to stop the tears on the short drive from Michael’s apartment building to her house, but
now they had come back, and she didn’t even attempt to hide the sobs that escaped from her throat.

She thought about the things that Michael had said to her. His babbling certainly didn’t mean anything to him, but it had meant something to her. Everything he had said made sense to her, and that frightened her more than she thought possible.

She knew she supposed to be the Teflon Babe and everything, but unlike a certain longhaired Czechoslovakian, she did have some feelings. He had hurt her with those words—that he didn’t need her, that he didn’t want her. As the tears continued to roll, she recounted everything he had said before. Of course Michael Guerin would never run off after her and put everyone else in danger—or his precious destiny in jeopardy. "Yeah right," she mumbled sarcastically, "Michael Guerin, the sensible one." She nearly laughed at the thought.

And then there was the whole destiny thing. Max seemed to be fighting it every step of the way; he loved Liz that much. He was fighting who he was, what he was, so that he could be with Liz. Michael just pretended that he had to be cold and aloof to fulfil his "sacred destiny". She didn’t really understand his logic; he was supposed to be this soldier guy and not get attached—at least, that was what he had told her, and yet he was engaged to Isabel in his previous life.

Maybe it was her, maybe all of Michael’s contradictions, and quirks, and unconsciously mean comments were because of her. No, no that wasn’t possible. Wait a second, she was so consumed with grief that she was actually blaming herself for his problems?! This needed to stop right here and now. Michael Guerin was the source of his problems. Michael Guerin and no one else.

Maria was finally able to get her emotions under control with that thought. Taking a deep breath, she got out of the car and walked up the pathway to her house.

She crept through the front door, and hoped that her mother was asleep as she started to walk down the hall to her room, muttering a silent thank you that all the lights were still all off. Just as she was about to enter her room, she heard a voice from behind her.

"Maria, honey?" Her mother. Damn. Caught red handed. "What are you doing up?"

"I was just, ah… yeah," Maria stalled, trying to come up with an excuse that her mom would believe. She didn’t turn around, afraid that her mother would see the tear tracks on her face and figure out that she had been with Michael.

"Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you that we’re out of orange juice."

"Right, orange juice," she replied as she realized that she was still in her pyjamas. "I was just thirsty, but I’ll just go back to bed now." She turned and started to close her door.

"Night honey."

"Night mom." Maria sat on her bed and thought about the night’s events. She’d definitely have to get the whole story from Liz tomorrow so that she could talk to Michael about it further.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

"Liz, hon, how are you feeling?" As soon as Liz came down into the kitchen (20 minutes late for her shift), Maria put down her plate of Saturn rings and ran over to her friend.

"I’m okay," she tied her apron behind her back. "I’m just a little bit exhausted." Liz sighed. She was actually extremely exhausted and she had the dark circles under her eyes to prove it. "What tables am I on?"

"I took 1-8, so you’re on 9-16."

"Kay," she put on her silver antennae, picked up her tray and walked through the kitchen door. She really didn’t feel like working today. In fact, all she felt like doing, was curling up into a little ball and hiding in Max’s arms. But—that would never happen. It couldn’t.

Maria followed her fried, frowning quietly. "Liz?"

"Yea," Liz walked towards the soda counter and didn’t look back at Maria. She didn’t feel like talking.

"What exactly happened last night? Michael only told me a few tiny details. And you know me," she smiled, "I always need all the info." Maria laughed at herself, hoping that Liz too would crack a smile. She didn’t.

"I don’t really want to talk about it, Maria," she whispered, barely audible. Last night had brought her and Max so close, and she wanted to think about it as little as possible.

"Huh? What happened last night?" Alex, whom no one had noticed sitting quietly at the soda bar, looked very confused. "Why am I never included? I am so out of the loop! I mean, I go to Sweden for a month, and I come back, and the entire world has changed around!"

"Alex—" Liz started.

"I mean, everyone ignores me! Hello!" he waved his arms around. "I exist!" he stared at Maria. "I also ordered pancakes, like, 40 minutes ago," he gave her a pointed stare.

"Sorry Alex. I’ll check the kitchen in a second," she smiled and then turned back to Liz. "Please, Chica. I know you’re upset, but... Micheal, like, bit my head off last night, and I’d really like to know why. I mean, I know why—but I just want..."

"... all the details," Liz finished for her.

"Please?" both Alex and Maria pleaded at the same time.

"Fine," Liz muttered. "Late last night, I was having this really incredible dream when..." she told them the whole story—how Nicholas had come to her room, and how Max had come to her rescue, almost sacrificing his life for her. And she told them about the car ride home, and Max staying in her bed until she was sleeping, and how she almost lost herself in Max’s arms, and almost gave in to telling him the truth about sleeping with Kyle.

"You slept with Kyle?!?!" Alex yelled. Everyone in the restaurant stopped to stare at the three. Liz just shook her head sadly.

"Hey! Go back to your bacon and eggs, people," Maria yelled. "Show’s over. There’s nothing to see here."

After the hubbub had died down, Maria turned back to Alex. "She didn’t technically sleep with him."

"Huh?" Alex, again, looked confused.

"Can I tell him, Chica?"

Liz sighed. She really didn’t care anymore. "Just don’t say anything to Max okay, Alex?" She picked up her tray, and headed back through the swinging door into the kitchen.

"Sure."

"Right. So you know about the granolith right? Well..." Maria started. This was going to take a while.

~*~*~*~*~*~*

About an hour later, Liz still had not emerged from the kitchen. Maria was about to go in and check on her, when Max came into the Crashdown. He caught Maria just as she has heading into the kitchen.

"Maria?"

"Oh hey, Max. How’s it going?" she shifted uncomfortably.

"Fine, I guess. Where’s Liz?" he looked around the restaurant, but could see no sign of her.

"She’s in the back. I was about to go check on her. Do you want me to tell her you’re here?"

"No, actually I need to talk to you."

Uh oh. This was not good. She had a hard time keeping her mouth shut as it was; one on one conversations with Max were not a good idea—especially if her best friend was the intended topic of conversation.

"O...okay. Let’s sit down," Maria led Max to an empty booth in the corner. "So, what’s up?" she put her tray on the table and sat down.

"Well," Max paused, trying to decide how to start. "When I ummm... when I kissed Liz goodnight last night-"

"Wait. You kissed her?" Maria interrupted. Liz hadn’t said anything about a goodnight kiss. She was definitely going have a talk with that girl later.

"Yea. She was asleep. Anyway—"

"Wait. You kissed her while she was sleeping?" Maria frowned. No wonder Liz hadn’t said anything. She didn’t know anything about it.

"Yes."

"I can’t believe you’d take advantage of her like that!"

"Maria," Max sighed. He knew this would happen. "Just shut up for a second okay?"

"Fine. Sorry."

"I had a flash."

"Wait, wait, wait! You kissed Liz, while she was asleep, AND you had a flash?!"

"MARIA!"

"Sorry," she shook her head. "Please. Do continue."

"Anyway, I saw her talking to me. Only, it wasn’t me... I was older, and had grey hairs. And, I was wearing... leather pants," he winced.

"Leather pants?!" Maria laughed.

"Maria! For god sakes, shut up!"

"Sorry, geez. Don’t have a fit or anything."

"Anyway, I—or, the older version of me—was talking about saving the world, and how Liz and I couldn’t be together."

Maria froze.

Max had expected another interruption, and Maria had remained completely silent. Strange.

"Maria?"

She didn’t answer.

"Maria?" he repeated. "What’s going on?"

She still didn’t answer, and this time, turned away from him.

"Maria?"

"Talk to Liz, Max." She turned to him again before heading into the kitchen. "Talk to her."

What the hell was going on? Maria obviously knew that Liz had been keeping things from him. He needed to find out exactly what was going on, and why Liz had been acting so strangely lately. Wordlessly, he followed Maria, pushing open the swinging kitchen door. As soon as he came in, Maria retreated back out into the restaurant. She had obviously given Liz a head’s up on his arrival.


Part 8

Max found Liz crouched in the center of the room picking up dishes and food she’d obviously dropped. Immediately, Max bent down to help her and Liz jumped back, startled by his sudden appearance.

"Sorry," he apologized.

"No. It’s ok. You just startled me, that’s all," she continued to clean up.

"What happened?"

"Nothing. I just tried to carry one too many orders at once and I dropped my tray."

"Oh."

They finished cleaning up in an awkward silence. Max considered his words very carefully, wanting to make sure that he didn’t upset her. That was definitely not his intention. He simply wanted the truth from her, that was all. And something, or someone, was keeping her from telling him. Hopefully today, he would find out what was going on, and he’d then be able to help her through her problems. Max hated seeing Liz like this—she looked exhausted—exhausted and unhappy, and he was tired of it. What he loved most about her was her smile. It seemed to not only light up her face, and her eyes, but the room as well. It made Max want to laugh and take her in his arms and kiss her with reckless abandon. It made him forget for just a moment, that he was an alien. It made him feel like a normal teenage boy in love. That smile... was gone. In fact, he hadn’t seen her smile since midnight service, and even then, it wasn’t the same. He intended to find a way to give that smile back to her—to bring some kind of peace back into her life.

"Liz?"

"Yes."

"I need to talk to you about something," he finally started

"O...Ok," she was instantly nervous.

"Last night, I um.... well, after you were asleep I got up to go home—I would’ve stayed longer, but the sun was almost up and my parents..."

"It’s OK Max," she interrupted. "You were supposed to go home. Besides, I don’ think my parents would’ve appreciated finding you in my bed this morning anyway."

He cracked a smile. "Right," he continued. "Well, before I left, I fixed your blankets and I kissed you goodnight—it was just the most natural thing in the world—like I was supposed to do it."

At this, Liz had to hide a grin. He could be such a sap sometimes—even when they weren’t together, he insisted on holding the door open for her, offering her his coat when she was cold, and apparently kissing her good night was also among his more gentlemanly qualities. "Max," she started.

"I had a flash, Liz."

She froze, her heart flying into her throat. If he had seen something about Kyle, or the future version of himself...

"I saw some... strange things."

"Like what, Max?" she struggled to keep control of her voice, her fear overtaking her.

"I saw.... me. Only I was older. And I told you something about the end of the world, and how I had to fall out of love with you. You were so sad..." he remembered. The consistent look on her face throughout the vision had crushed his heart; she had always seemed to be on the verge of tears.

Max waited for her to respond. At first, she said nothing.

Suddenly, she looked very unsteady on her feet. He could see her struggling to find both her balance and her voice. "That’s... um... odd, Max," she started. "I was having a strange dream last night but I can’t really remember it. Maybe that’s what you saw," Liz turned away form him. She knew that if he looked her in the eye, he’d be able to tell she was lying. If he looked at her right now the way he always did, as if he was looking right into her very soul, she knew she’d give in and tell him the truth. She was so close...

"Liz, I don’t..." he paused, "I can’t believe you. Something’s going on with you, and I don’t understand why you won’t tell me. I care about you, Liz. Please," he begged, "let me help you."

"It was a dream, Max. That’s it." She still didn’t look at him.

"No Liz," he knew she was lying. "Look at me."

She didn’t move.

"Liz..." he gently grasped her shoulders and turned her around. She still refused to look at him, her eyes focused on the floor in front of her.

"Please, Liz," he pleaded, his soulful brown eyes filling with tears.

She still did not move.

Max gently put his finger under her chin and lifter her face, forcing her to look at him. Her eyes were shining with unshed tears, her cheeks were soaked with shed ones, and her chin was quivering. "Tell me the truth," he pressed gently.

"I... I...I can’t," she shook his hand from her face, picked up her tray and bolted from the kitchen, leaving Max alone and upset.

~*~*~*~*~*~*

"I’m so glad you made me do this, Tess. I so needed to get out of that house," Kyle sighed as he pulled the heavy plastic vest over his head. "My dad has been on this, like, housewife kick ever since he lost his job. It’s nothing but, "Kyle, clean up that damn room or you’re grounded!" all freakin’ day. I mean, he’s even started to read Martha Stuart Living so he can cook some ‘real food!’ I seriously think he’s loosing it."

"Uh huh," Tess struggled with her vest. It was far too large for her, and the Velcro was getting caught in her blonde curls.

"Here," Kyle laughed as he stepped towards her. "Let me help you with that." With little effort, he fixed the vest, and slid it over Tess’ head. "Although, I’m still a little confused as to why you insisted we come to Laser tag!" he laughed.

Tess smiled knowingly. "Trust me, Kyle. You’ll enjoy this."

"The year is 2017, and our race is nearing extinction." A booming voice coming from the giant speakers above their heads interrupted their conversation. "Welcome to Planet Laser! Look around you—these people are your teammates. They are your comrades, your crew. Your mission—save the planet from evil alien invaders! And save yourselves from extinction." Suddenly, an image of a giant Hollywood movie alien stereotype—with the huge black eyes and green skin, appeared in front of them. "These are your targets! Shoot to kill. Shoot to stay alive. Shoot to save your planet, planet, planet." the last word reverberated in the room around them and then slowly faded out.

Kyle turned to Tess. He was laughing so hard, there were tears in his eyes, and his stomach was contracting painfully.

"I thought you’d like it," Tess smiled.

"Are you kidding?!" Kyle grabbed her arm, "This is going to kick some serious butt!" He looked at her and smiled. "Thanks, Tess. I mean, for caring, and seeing where I’m coming from with the whole aliens are bad thing."

She nodded. "You’re welcome."

Again they were interrupted, this time by a burly assistant in an extremely humourous uniform. It looked like the guy had fallen out of a science fiction movie made in the sixties—his shirt was bright orange and far too tight. It had black and bright green buttons all over it. The green matched his bright green pants, which also had a number of buttons and switches. The man did not looked amused when Kyle and Tess tried to suppress their laughter.

"You two clowns need help working the equipment?"

"No," Kyle giggled. "No. We’re good," he picked up his Laser gun.

"Fine," he walked away, clearly angry.

"Kyle," Tess smacked him on the arm. "That was so rude! Plus I have no clue how to work this damn thing!" she indicated to her gun.

"Here, I’ll show you," he took it from her. Unfortunately, the gun was attached to a chord that was attached to her vest. Tess stumbled forwards, landing right in Kyle’s arms. "I’m sorry..." he mumbled awkwardly as he pushed her away slightly. Tess was disappointed. "Anyway, this button here is to fire. And this gauge tells you how much power is left. When it turns red, you have to go to a refill station."

"Got it."

Suddenly, the huge metal door in front of them began to open, and the booming voice spoke again. "Remember your mission! Kill the alien invaders! Do not shoot you teammates, and do not get shot yourselves. Good luck, and God be with you!" it boomed.

"Let’s go!" Tess ran through the door and Kyle followed close behind her. Planet Laser was huge—it had three floors, a maze of walls and pathways, refill stations, pillars, and jails. The room was also loud and full of smoke to prevent you from seeing or hearing the aliens from too far away.

"This is going to be so awesome!" Kyle ran off ahead and disappeared into the smoke.

Tess ran after him, "Hey! Wait up!" she whined.

They played for close to an hour, and Tess had been right. Kyle certainly was having a wonderful time. Each time he shot an alien he would yell, "Take that you Czechoslovakian dirtbag" and each time, he received an array of frowns from the other players. Tess just laughed along with him.

Near the end of the game, they were stuck behind a barrier, waiting for an alien to come by so that Kyle could continue playing Rambo.

"Kyle," Tess frowned, "Can’t we just..."

"Shhhh..." Kyle put his finger on her lips. "We have to be quiet. See, I have this strategy. We wait until one walks by, then boom! We jump out and pump his guts full of.... laser... beams."

"But Kyle..."

"Don’t knock the strategy, Tess! It works! I haven’t been shot once yet!"

"Ok," she gave in.

Five minutes later, an alien still hadn’t come by, and they were still crouched uncomfortably behind the wall. Tess was seriously getting frustrated. Sighing, she looked over at Kyle; he was still crouched low to the ground, concentrating on the smoky area in front of them. He looks so adorable, she thought. Kyle, the alien hunter. That thought made laugh. He was like, Agent Mulder, only he didn’t want to befriend the little green men. He wanted to "kick their Czechoslovakian butts!" She laughed harder!

Kyle whipped around. "Tess! SHHHH!!!! They’ll hear us!"

This only made her laugh harder.

"Tess!" he ground his teeth together angrily. "Shut up!"

"Fine," Tess giggled. That was it. She couldn’t take it anymore. "Kyle," she whispered seductively.

"What?"

"I have an idea."

"Ok. What is it."

"Come over here," she urged him over with her finger.

Intrigued, Kyle stood and stepped towards her, his brow furrowed.

Without warning, Tess pulled out her laser gun, pointed it straight at his chest, and fired.

"You are dead. You are dead. Please proceed to your nearest refill station," Kyle’s vest informed him with an irritating computer voice and some blinking red lights.

"Tess," Kyle smiled in a very sly fashion, "I am so going to get you for that!" he put his gun in it’s makeshift holster and ran at her.

She screamed and ran the other way. "Leave me alone, you big bully!" she laughed and ran around to the other side of the wall; Kyle followed close behind. "Stop it!" she laughed as she ran ahead and disappeared into the smoke in front of him. "Alien killer! Alien killer!" she yelled from somewhere within the cloud of smoke.

Kyle, however, would not give up and followed her further into the maze of walls, ramps, and smoke.

Five minutes later, Tess crouched behind a barrier to catch her breath. She’d seen no sign of Kyle for a few minutes, and didn’t think he was anywhere near her. She was very wrong. Slowly, Kyle approached her from behind, being careful not to make any noise. As soon as he was close enough, he leaned down and whispered right into her ear, "Gotcha."

Tess jumped up and tried to get away, but it was to no avail. Kyle wrapped his arms around her waist, and they prevented her from going anywhere.

"Let me go!!" she laughed and tried to squirm out of his grasp.

"Nope. You are so going to pay for ruining my perfect record!" he tightened his grip on her, his arms crossing behind her back.

"Oh yea?"

"Yea,"

"Fine," Tess laughed continuing to try to wriggle away from him. "How?" she teased him.

"I..." Kyle looked down at the petite blonde locked securely in his arms and realized suddenly just how close they were. He could feel her chest rising and falling against his, and her lips were less than inches from his own. "I..." he tried again as words seemed to fail him.

"Yes?" she laughed at his inability to speak.

Giving in, Kyle leaned down and pressed his lips to hers. Instantly, she stopped writhing in his arms and leaned into his kiss. Sighing into him, she wrapped her arms around his broad shoulders and ran her hands through his hair. This was where she belonged; she should be allowed to love. It was her right. She didn’t love Max—she had only sought him out because Nasado had told her it was her duty. She was trying to recapture that part of her that had belonged to something beautiful. Today, however, she had realized that she belonged to something beautiful here. She loved Kyle. She had friends (well sort of) and a family. She was happy.

Kyle couldn’t get Tess close enough. He kissed her with a passion he didn’t know he had, his hands rubbing up and down her back.

"Ahem," the employee in the funny costume stood staring at Kyle and Tess with his hands on his hips.

They ignored him and continued to kiss each other.

"AHEM," he coughed louder. "You guys can’t do that here."

"Kyle," Tess pulled away and smiled. "You wanna go get some ice cream?" she asked.

"Certainly," taking her arm, they ran out of Planet Laser together, both were happier then they had been in a very long time.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

"What the hell happened?" Maria came running into the kitchen, her hands on her hips. "Liz just ran out the front door in tears!" She found Max sitting on the floor, leaning against the deep fryer. His cheeks were puffy and his eyes were red from crying. As soon as she saw the look of absolute despair on his face, Maria was no longer upset. "Max, are you ok?" she sat beside him. "What happened with Liz?"

"She... she wouldn’t tell me what’s going on. She’s still lying to me, Maria," he whispered. "Something is keeping her from telling me truth, and no matter what I say or do, I can’t convince her to trust me."

Maria considered her words carefully; she didn’t want to give anything away. "I don’t think trust is really the problem here."

"What the hell is going on Maria? Please. She’s so upset, and I can’t help her unless she tells me."

"As hard as this is for me to say, Max, she has to tell you herself. This is just one of those times where I should keep my mouth shut," she nodded sadly, and helped Max get up off the floor.

Max frowned. "But... when has that ever stopped you before?"

"Just shut up Max," she tried to look annoyed but could only grin at his comment. "Liz is closing up tonight. Give her some time to cool off, and come back then."

"Okay," he agreed, and left Maria alone the in the kitchen.

"That boy is hopeless," she sighed before returning to work.

"Hey Eddie! Where the hell are my pancakes?!"

"Hold your horses, they’re right here."

Maria picked up the plate and put it in front of one of their regular customers. "Here Alex. Enjoy your pancakes. You’d think you would order something new after 10 years of having pancakes every morning for breakfast
but, I guess you like consistency."

Alex smiled. "Sure Maria, whatever."

Maria turned around and saw someone come in and sit in one of the booths. She approached the girl and asked, "Can I get you anyth…?"

Maria was suddenly speechless as the girl looked up from the menu. She had thick dirty blond hair that fell just past her shoulders. The girl’s brown eyes caught Maria’s and drew her in. She had a quiet, shy demeanour and looked out of place in the wildly decorated, alien themed restaurant. She wasn’t particularly noticeable or anything, she just had this quality about her—she was different that the others in the small café.

"Sorry," Maria said as she cleared her throat, trying to cover up her zoning out, "What would you like?"

The timid girl looked back down at the menu, trying to decide. "I’ll just have a cherry-coke and a Galaxy Sub," she told Maria keeping her eyes down.

Walking over to the counter Maria placed the order with Eddie and continued on to get the girl’s drink. Filling up the glass she returned and placed the cherry-coke on the table. "So are you new here, I haven’t seen you around."

"Yeah, my mom and I just moved here. I’m Amber,"

Maria looked down at her and held out her hand, "I’m Maria."
Amber reached out slowly and took her gesture of friendship and greeting.

"Hey, Maria, order’s up!!" she heard Eddie call from the kitchen. Bringing the Galaxy Sub back over to the table, she asked, "So what brings you here to our lovely, alien obsessed town."

"Well," Amber said while reaching for a bottle of ketchup, "We just came here because…" Amber stopped as she looked down at her sandwich. Instead of finding a line of ketchup, there was a line of mustard. Looking at her hand, she found herself staring at a bottle Heinz ketchup, that very obviously contained the red tomato liquid. Glancing back down at her sandwich and again finding herself staring at the line of very yellow mustard, Amber looked to Maria for an explanation.

Maria had a puzzled look on her face, "Don’t look at me, I’m just as miffed as you are." Looking back down, Amber poured some more red liquid onto her sandwich. This time, the tomato ketchup poured from the bottle onto the Sub which now had a mixture of ketchup and mustard on it.

"Weird," Amber commented as Maria walked away to serve the other waiting customers. "I don’t even like mustard."

As soon as Maria had left, Amber nonchalantly grabbed the bottle of Tabasco from the table, and making sure no one was looking, she poured a generous glob into her sweet drink.



Edited by - Crazygirl on 09/15/2001 21:47:38

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 9-Dec-2001 5:32:11 PM ]
posted on 9-Sep-2001 10:00:49 PM
Part 9

It had been a very long day. Her argument with Max had left Liz emotionally drained and withdrawn and all she wanted to do was take a hot bath and go to bed. Even Kyle, who had brought Tess in for ice cream had noticed, and had asked her if everything was alright. She lied, as always, and told him that it was.

Now ten-thirty, the restaurant was finally closing. Liz absently scrubbed the soda bar and took the remaining dishes back to the kitchen. A few couples remained in the Crashdown, lingering after finishing their desserts. One couple in particular, however, had caught Liz's eye. They were tucked into the corner booth, and the girl—a tiny brunette, was sitting on her lover's lap, a smile in her eyes. He was gently brushing her dark hair behind her ears and smiling quietly, communicating solely with his deep, brown eyes. They seemed so lost in each other—the way she and Max used to be, before Tess had come along, and before Liz had broken his heart. She watched as the girl whispered something in her partner's ear, and then got up off his lap. She walked to the other side of the café--to the juke box that Liz's father had insisted that they buy when they visited the flea market last weekend. So far, no one had used it except Maria, who insisted on putting on Gloria Estefan and "belting it out" while she wiped tables and washed dishes, successfully scaring some customers away.

The tiny girl hemmed and hawed over the song choices until she found what she was looking for, and then turned back to her boyfriend who couldn't seem to wipe the smile from his face. She motioned for him to come to her, and he slid out of the booth, and walked slowly in her direction. Suddenly, the cafe filled with music-a sad song that Liz knew all too well. As the first notes drifted to her ears, the young man took his love in his arms and pulled her close, swaying back and forth to the music.

"Come to me now,
and lay your hands over me.
Even if it's a lie,
say it will be alright,
and I shall believe."

“I Shall Believe” by Sheryl Crow--after future Max had disappeared, she had listened to the song a million times, and each time, it brought fresh tears to her eyes. It had been their song, her and Max's. But it wouldn't be now, not anymore--Liz would never truly get her perfect wedding dance; she'd given it up to save Michael and Isabel, and well, the world. But in doing so, she knew that she was giving up her one and only chance at happiness—her perfect life with Max. Unable to continue cleaning, completely mesmerized by the dancing couple that resembled her and Max so much, Liz sat down at the soda counter and quietly began to cry. She let her tears fall on her freshly wiped counter, not bothering to even wipe them from her cheeks. Her strength, her resolve, that part of her that kept her from telling Max the truth, was finally faltering. She knew that one day, probably soon, Max would know the truth about her and Kyle; she just couldn't keep lying to him. She would still try--but, she knew in her heart, that she would indeed fail. So she let her tears fall. They represented everything that she had given up, everything that she and Max had lost, and the pain that she had caused him.

"...I do believe,
that not everything is gonna be the way you think it ought to be.
Seems like every time I try to make it right it all comes down on me.
Please say, honestly, you won't give up on me,
and I shall believe,
I shall believe."

Max came in just in time to hear Liz's favourite song playing on the juke box. A couple was dancing, seemingly completely lost in each other, slowly swaying together in the center of the café. He was instantly taken by the lovers, sensing there similarities to him and Liz, and for a moment he could almost imagine he and Liz dancing in the very same way. He looked around, and couldn't see her anywhere. Eventually, he noticed her tiny form hunched over the soda bar, tears dripping in a constant river from her cheeks, and landing in an ever growing puddle on the counter beneath her. "Liz." The sight of her in such obvious pain almost made his heart stop. He realized instantly that her tears had everything to do with the song, the dancing couple, and whatever it was that she'd been keeping from him.

Slowly, to avoid startling her, Max walked over to the soda counter and put his hand on her shoulder. As soon as he touched her, the soft tones from the song drained away, and he was again drawn into a flash.

Flash.

"I've never seen the cards fall like this before. The boy, he's different."

"Yeah."

"He's very important, this boy. A leader. "

"Yeah, he has this whole other destiny...one that doesn't include me."

"No. He chooses love. "

"What?"

"He chooses you."

"No, no, no, no, see, that's impossible."

"The reading is clear. You marry your true love. You have happiness. The card here? Intimacy, sex. You will not be left wanting."

Flash.

"Why are you here?"

"I can't tell you too much, Liz...only what you need to know...but 14 years from now, we are taken over by our enemies."

"Uh, who's taken over?"

"Everyone. Earth. I need you to help me keep that from happening. We need to change the future. What we do here has to be precise and surgical. No one can know I'm here, especially not me...that is, my younger self."

Flash.

"I just said no to Gomez."

"You said no the last time, too. I didn't take no for an answer."

Flash.

"How? What can I do that's gonna make you turn away from me?"

Flash.

"Am I taking my boxers off?"

"No. Undergarments stay on."

"Right."

Flash.

"I've fought a thousand battles...but watching you do that was the hardest thing I've ever had to do."

"The look on his face...on your face."

"Maybe it's for the best. For you, too."

"What are you talking about?"

"I saw you with Kyle. He's turning out to be a...a great guy. Maybe it would be better for you to be with a human."

"Don't you realize what you are to me...and you're always gonna be? You're the love of my life. Everyone else is gonna be second best. There'll never be another you."

Flash.

When Max's flashes had subsided, Liz was still staring at the counter in front of her. Her tears continued to add to the substantial puddle, and she couldn't even look at Max.

"Max," she sobbed. "Could you please go. I... I need to be alone right now," she took his hand from her shoulder. She seemed to be unaware that he had a flash at all--she was that distracted.

"Liz, no," he refused, sitting on the stool beside her.

"Max, please," she glanced up at him briefly before looking back down at the counter in front of her.

Max was shocked when she finally looked at him; her face was red, and swollen, and her eyes were puffy and bloodshot. She'd been crying for a while, he could tell. "Liz," he said calmly, trying to show her his resolve. "I'm not going anywhere."

"Max-"

"Liz, something has been bothering you lately, and I think I caught a glimpse of it when I kissed you goodnight, and I just had another flash now. Please, tell me what happened. I want to help you, I don’t care what really happened with Kyle, I just hate seeing you like this. It scares me," he placed his hands on her wet cheeks and wiped hear tears away with his thumbs. "I know you're scared, but.... I just... I need you to tell me," he tucked her chocolate locks behind her ear. "I can't stand to see you like this, please, let me help you."

"You can't, Max. You can't," she pulled away from him.

"I know that whatever happened to you has something to do with our future, and the future of the world. And, I saw Kyle, Liz," he put hand on hers and squeezed. "It had something to do with Kyle. And I saw me. Only, I wasn't me... I don't understand. Who was he, Liz? What did you for him? What did you do to us? Please, Liz, explain it to me. I love you. Please," he managed to choke out. He could feel his own tears beginning to come now.

She paused for a moment; she hated to see him so upset; it shook her to her very core, "Ok Max," she finally conceded. "I'll tell you what happened."

Max let out a sigh of relief.

"The night you serenaded me outside my balcony, I.... I was visited by..." she stopped. Could she really do this? Could she put the lives of billions of people at risk to get her lies of her chest, for her own satisfaction?

"By who, Liz?" Max pressed.

"By....Kyle," she muttered. She just couldn't do it. She couldn't tell him the truth. She saw the pain flash briefly across his face before his previous expression of concern returned.

"Liz, I know that's not true. Please tell me the truth. I love you," he repeat himself, hoping that his confession would convince her to continue. "I want to help."

Liz could only stare at Max's hands on hers. Her resolve seemed to bleed away with his every word. She wanted so badly to tell him, to end her suffering. But she knew she couldn't chance it. If Max forgave her, and they got back together, Tess would leave, and all her pain and work would've been for nothing. And what if he didn't forgive her? What if he hated her for giving up on them, for being so cruel to him, or for lying to him for so long? She knew that they couldn't be together, but she couldn't stand it if he hated her. Not him. Not Max.

Finally, she looked up at him, and saw the tears in his eyes; he was crying for her. She couldn't take it anymore; she couldn't stand to see him in so much pain.

"I'm so sorry, Max," she choked out before pulling her hands away and again, taking off. She ran up the stairs to her bedroom, her vision blurred by her tears. This time, however, Max chased after her. He wasn't going to give up on her this time.

"Liz, stop!" he called after her. She just kept running.

"Please, stop following me, Max," she called over her shoulder.

Finally, she got to her bedroom and closed and locked the door behind her. Giving in to her tears, she slid down the back of the door, a sob escaping her lips.

"Liz?" Max knocked on her door.

"Go away, Max. Just leave me alone," she bit through her tears.

"Look, Liz. I care about you way too much to see you like this," he placed his hand against her door. "I understand if you're not ready to tell me, yet, but I'm not leaving until you do. I'll sit out side your door all night if I have to."

Liz was silent for a moment. "Fine," she'd wait until he gave up. He wouldn't stay out side her door all night. He couldn't.

Max sat down outside Liz's door, and lay his sweater across his chest. This was going to be a long night.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Michael had gotten no sleep the day before; the things that he had said to Maria were constantly running through his head. He felt guilty about it, but everything he'd said was sound. He loved Maria but he couldn't understand why she just wouldn't give up. If Max and Liz's relationship was any example, they were doomed. He was just telling her the truth, plain and simple. What chance did an alien and a human have? It wasn't that he didn't love her—he felt like he'd love her forever, but they could never be. Why keep her hanging on? It wasn't fair. At the time, it seemed that hurting her was the only way to make her let go. But, did he really want that? Did he really want her our of his life completely?

There were always going to be obstacles for all of them. He’d just put Maria in danger, so the less they were seen together, the better. He would eventually have to go home one day, to a planet in a galaxy far, far away. And even just dating was dangerous; Max and Liz had had those scary vision thingies last year and they couldn’t control themselves. And Liz was getting rashes and glowing hickeys. They didn’t even know if they were “compatible” or not, although Maria kept insisting that it wasn’t a problem, but how did she know? He was so sure she’d had sex with a whole bunch of other alien human hybrids, she was just being hopeful, that’s all.

Sitting down on his couch, Michael thought about what Isabel had said to him the other day, about trying to be more aware of others' feelings--telling them what they wanted to hear; but really, what did that accomplish? Well, okay, maybe it made you more popular and less hated, especially with the ladies, but he could handle people being mad at him. He always could. He could thank Hank for that one--Hank had certainly turned him into an emotionally secretive wreck. No one could ever tell what was going on in his head. Except Maria. He had really pissed her off and this time, he had hurt her too; he just wanted to make things better, that was all. Although, she did look cute when she was pissed off at him, and her sharp comebacks always made him want her more. And the way her eyes lit up. Enough of that, he scolded himself. Getting all mushy and googily eyed wasn't going to help him now.

Remembering the look on Maria's face when she had dropped him off last night made him wonder if he had gone too far this time. Walking over to the counter, he picked up a pen and a pad of writing paper, which he'd stolen from what they'd affectionately termed, "their motel" and began to write.

Dear Maria…

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Two hours later, Max was still camped outside Liz's bedroom waiting for her to emerge. For the longest time, all he could hear on the other side of the door, was the soft sound of her tortured sobs. He longed to go in and wrap his arms around her, telling her that she could trust him, and that he'd do everything he could to make things right again. The only problem with that, was that Liz wouldn't let him. Yet.

After an hour or so, Max got up and went down the hall to the closet to grab a blanket and pillow. If he was stuck outside her bedroom door all night, he should at least be comfortable. He'd also called Isabel and asked her to make up an alibi so that his parent's wouldn't worry. By the time he'd returned to his spot by the door, Liz had stopped crying. Her could hear the water running in her bathroom, and assumed that she was taking a shower. He took that as a good sign--maybe she was feeling better. Sighing to himself, Max wrapped the blanket around himself and slip down her bedroom door. He placed the pillow behind his head, and while waiting patiently for her to come out of her room, he rehearsed exactly what he was going to say to her. "Liz, destiny.... is a choice..."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Liz curled up into a tiny ball on the corner of her bed. She hugged her pillow to her chest as her tears silently coursed down her face. She sobbed into her mattress, knowing that Max was still outside and not wanting him to hear her cry. It didn't matter; he could hear her anyway. He knew when she was hurting, even if miles separated them.

Trying to calm herself, she tried to think of a good way out of this situation. How could she get Max to give up? To stop asking questions? She could just give in and tell him the truth, but no good could possibly come of it. She could make up another lie, but knowing her Max (she still called him that) he'd see through it right away, and he'd get angry at her for continuing to lie to him. She'd really screwed herself over this time.

She wanted so badly for all of this to just go away. She wanted to run away with Max to some far away place, where he had no destiny and they could hide from the world together. But that would never happen; she knew. He should too.

So , what if I give up completely? What if I tell him the absolute truth. I'm so sorry Max. I only pretended to sleep with Kyle because a longhaired, leather clad future version you traveled back in time and told me to break your heart. Funny thing, see, if we get married, um, the world kind of...ends. Yea. In his world, we were married at the Elvis Chapel when we were nineteen. Yes. The Elvis Chapel. What if he didn't believe her? She'd lied to him so frequently lately, so what was preventing him from assuming she was lying now? What if he didn't trust her anymore?

And, what if he believed her? What if he hated her for giving up on them, for hurting him? What if he never wanted to speak to her again? She couldn't bear it if he hated her.

Best case scenario, he forgave her for ruining their only chance at happiness. And even that fork in the proverbial road had its problems. What if, in forgiving her his love for her was rekindled. She knew he still loved her, and she still loved him--and if he kissed her right now, she knew she'd kiss him back. That was a problem. Then all of their pain and suffering would have been wasted, and the world would end anyway. And this time, it would be entirely on her shoulders.

Or, maybe she was misjudging him. Perhaps telling him the truth would simply strengthen their friendship. And nothing would go wrong. Could she chance it? She wasn't sure.

Sighing sadly, she got off her bed and headed for the bathroom. Maybe a hot shower would help her make up her mind. Turning on the hot water, she released her hair from its clip and it tumbled freely around her shoulders. Leaving her uniform in a wrinkled pile on the bathroom floor, she stepped into the tub, letting the scalding water run over her skin. She gently massaged her favourite strawberry shampoo into her hair, inhaling the sweet familiar scent. The shampoo always made her think of that day in the Crashdown, when she and Max were "distracted" while cleaning up the bowl of strawberries she'd dropped. The way he had kissed her that day had made her head spin; that first flash had caused her to forget her own name, as the stars and images of their childhood flashed in front of her eyes. That was the first time anyone had ever made her feel that way--her lust for him over powering everything else, and her desire to have him as close as humanly possible ringing in her ears. She'd realized long before that; however, that he was the love of her life. The way he had kissed her that first night on her balcony made her love him. The was he was so obvious in his concerns for her, and yet his desire to be with her seemed to over power even that. The way he had been so reluctant to leave her balcony that night. The way his hands hand wound through her hair and he'd moaned into her lips. The way his body had responded to hers seemingly memorizing her every curve. She could feel how much he'd needed her, how much he wanted her. It was at that exact moment that she realized that she was truly in love with him; she had lost herself in him completely, and found herself looking at her through his eyes.

She wanted that back so badly. She wanted to feel his need for her again-but that could never happen. They both knew it, but only she understood why. He deserved to know the truth didn't he? She'd turned her back on him, so she owed him at least that much.

As if on cue, the water suddenly turned ice cold, pulling her from her saddened reverie. Sighing quietly, she looked down at her petite body - she was completely wrinkled from staying in the shower for so long. Figures, she thought as she stepped out of the tub and wrapped herself in a towel. Time to think long and hard. Could she tell him the truth? Quickly she slipped into her favourite flannel pyjamas and climbed into her bed. Considering it for a moment, she opened the drawer in her beside table and pulled out her journal. The last time she'd written in it was before she'd walked away from Max back in May. It had definitely been a while.

It's January 27th. I'm Liz Parker and I have a really hard decision to make. Do I take the risk of telling my love the truth about Kyle, or do I continue to lie to him. Either way, I risk loosing his friendship, and I don't think I could stand it...

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Two hours and 30 pages of her journal later, Liz lay her head on her pillow and paused to rest her eyes. Unintentionally, she fell into a restless sleep, leaving Max still waiting patiently outside her door.

Max glanced at his watch. It'd had been almost four hours since Liz had shut him out of her room, but he didn't seem to care. He had made a promise to her, and he intended to keep it; he wasn't leaving until she told him the truth. Until then, though, he figured it would alright for him to rest his eyes a little. Exhausted from his emotionally draining afternoon, Max fell asleep quickly, still leaning against Liz's bedroom door.

Within the room, Liz lay curled in a fetal position, her wet hair soaking her pillow. Her and Max's dream that night, was the same. They dreamt of a future they’d never have, because of an accident Max had made in the past. They dreamt of Liz changing that future, and seeming to die inside because of the pain she'd had to put herself and her love through. The dream would change everything....


Part 10

"Liz," he started, looking deeply into her chocolate brown eyes that were brimming with happy tears, "The day I saved your life in the Crashdown, wasn't really me saving you; it was you saving me. After that day, I couldn't imagine my life with without you. I knew at that moment that I would always be by your side, and that I needed you more than I thought it was possible to need another person. Knowing you has changed not only my life, by my existence on this earth. You, unlike any other, were able to accept my... nature," he struggled to find a word to explain the fact that he was a hybrid, "and everything that came along with it, and somehow, you grew to love me for who I was. I never thought anyone could feel that way about me-but I know you do. I see it in your eyes every time you look at me, and I can only hope that the way I feel about you is betrayed through my eyes as well. In case it isn't-" he took her hand and tried to explain. "What we have, what I feel for you, is beyond love; it's beyond anything that I could possibly attempt to explain in words. You, Liz, are my everything, my queen, my beloved--my entire world is captured in your smile, your touch, your voice. It's you, Liz. And I am so proud of you. I'm proud to know you, I'm proud to be your friend, to love you, and soon, to be your husband.

"I remember the night of the Gomez concert-the past months you had been so noble, and so unselfish. You tried to give me away, because of my destiny. But that night, when I came to your room, I finally convinced you that you were indeed my destiny, and that I was so much stronger with you by my side. That was the most incredible night, Liz. You gave yourself to me, without a second thought or a question. I'll always remember that absolutely petrified look on your face, when your mom knocked on your bedroom door, while I was standing buck naked in the middle of your room. You literally shoved me outside your window and slammed it shut. I was stuck leaning, naked, against a brick wall in clear view of your neighbour's window. Your mom asked what had happened to your bed, and you came up with some excuse about having nightmares. We were so lucky that she didn't notice my shoes, clothes and boxer shorts which were strewn around your bedroom. If I remember correctly, my boxers were hanging over the chair in front of your desk," he laughed. "She must've been talking to you for 20 minutes while I was stuck
outside freezing my butt off-and that would be literally. I'll always remember the smile you gave me, when I climbed off your balcony that night. I'd never before seen you smile like that."

He paused for a moment before continuing, "Through everything we've been through-all the pain, and suffering, and uncertainty-you were always there when I needed you, and you always had this ability to make everything feel alright again simply by smiling at me. I depend on you to keep me sane, Liz. And without you in my life, and Michael still jumping on my back, I'd no doubt be in a mental hospital by
now." Max paused to wipe away a tear that had drifted down her cheek. "You make me happier than I ever thought possible for... a Czechoslovakian like me, and I can only hope that I can make you so happy. I'll work my entire life to keep you smiling, Liz. I'll give you everything I have-my love, my faith, my future. I'll give you the perfect little family I know you always wanted. I'll love you from here to eternity and back-no matter what galaxy we're in, what planet we're on, or whether I'm in this life
or the next. You are my soul, Liz, and I love you. Always," he finished finally, and wiped another stray tear from her cheeks.

As soon as Liz regained the ability to speak, she took Max's hands and held them between hers. "On September 18th, my life was changed completely. That was the day I grew up. That was the day that you saved my life and changed who I was forever. That was the day I realized what true love is. Max, I've known you for as long as I can remember, and before that day in the Crashdown, I remember being
jealous of those who really, truly knew you. You were this dark, mysterious boy with these intense eyes, who cared about people. Even then, I felt something indescribable for you, and wanted so desperately to be in your life," she paused, licking her dry lips. "The day I realized that we were truly meant to be, and that I loved you more life itself, was when you first kissed me on my balcony. It felt as though you were giving me everything with that kiss. You were pouring all you love, your fear, your pain, everything that makes you Max, into me, like an everlasting gift. And as you poured yourself into me, my love for you came on in a sudden rush-like a tidal wave sweeping over everything in its path. I hope you felt that wave, as I did.
I feel so privileged that you chose to include me in your life, despite the danger and problems you face every day. I have come to understand that a perfect love, like ours, is something that should be cherished. It should be valued over everything else. The bond that we share cannot be broken--not by fear, not by pain, not by death. We will experience all of those things probably all within a week, the way things are going, but they can't touch us, not as long as we believe in each other.

"I remember the night we were stuck out in that van, in the dump, and I still remember every word of what you said to me. Those words echoed in my brain for months afterwards. I felt as though I couldn't possibly deserve all that you had given me, and I remember walking away for that reason. I couldn't let you betray your destiny for me. But, somehow you proved to me that we could shape destiny on our
own, and that nothing that the vision told you would come true unless you let it. I never loved you more than I did that night," she paused, taking a moment to catch her breath before continuing. "The night of prom is one of my happiest memories-we stayed for maybe half and hour and then took of into your Jeep to be alone at the..." she paused and stared at the minister. They had spent the night in the pod chamber
wrapped in a fleece blanket, but she obviously couldn't say that in front of the ordained Elvis impersonator, "The... the... place... where we go... to... be alone. You know," she squeezed his hands. "... that place." Max laughed and nodded. "Anyway, just being wrapped in your arms all night, was beyond anything a high school prom could've ever given me. And I know that the next day, you thought that I regretted leaving Maria and Alex behind, but I never did. I couldn't possibly-I was with you. And now, I'll always be with you-we'll go through everything together, and no matter what happens in the future-through war, through death, through pain, I'll always be by your side. I love you. I'll always love you. Being with you makes me happy, and I think, I hope, that I make you as happy as you make me. I don't need anything else in the world as long as I have you. I live for you, Max Evans, and I always will."

Staring at the couple from the back of the church, another Max and Liz watched the beautiful scene unfold before them. An older Max and Liz were whispering their vows to each other, in front of an overweight minister who was dressed like Elvis, and was wearing an extremely humourous toupee. They sat in silence, simply listening to what the older counterparts were saying. Everything that the couple vowed to each other rang true for the Max and Liz sitting quietly at the back of the church watching. This wasn't exactly how Max had imagined his wedding day, but he was marrying Liz, so it really didn't matter. He turned to look at her, and noticed a tear making it's way down her cheek. She looked so sad....

Before he could wipe away the tear, or ask her what was wrong, the scene in front of them dissolved, and left them outside on a brightly lit city street.

----------

Liz and Max climbed out a shabby looking cab, still startled by the bright lights of Las Vegas. Liz looked beautiful, dressed in her grandma Claudia's wedding dress, and Max... well, Max looked hot. There really was no other word to describe him. He was wearing a very expensive, classic tux with a white rose on the breast, a symbol of their everlasting commitment to each other. The couple laughed together, obviously completely absorbed in each other. Max had a knowing glint in his eye, that told her very clearly that he couldn't wait to get her back to their room, so he could work on getting her out of that wedding gown. Liz almost blushed at his obvious desire for her-even after they'd been sleeping together for two years, his
desire had never ceased to amaze her. She always felt so completely beautiful when they were together, because she was seeing herself through his eyes.

Along side of the cab, another Liz stood, her arms crossed over her chest, a shocked and yet saddened look on her face. She was dressed in pink and blue flannel pyjamas, her hair was wet and messy, and she had tear tracks down her cheeks. Quietly, she watched the happy couple, who were completely oblivious to her presence. This was so unfair-fate takes away her wedding day, and then waves it in front of her face--a perfect moment she could never have. Unable to watch anymore, she turned around, only to come face to face with another Max--he was dressed in wrinkled jeans and a tight maroon shirt--just as she'd seen him earlier that evening.

"Is that us, Liz? Is that our future?" he couldn't stop starting at him and Liz in their formal wear. He was jealous.

"It was," Liz nodded.

Quickly, the happy couple ran off toward the hotel. Halfway there, Max lifted Liz into his arms, and she laughed as he carried her though the front doors. As soon as they had disappeared from view, the scene around the other Max and Liz dissolved away like a water-colour painting in the rain, and they were left somewhere else entirely.

---------

Liz jumped out of the car way too quickly, almost tripping on her dress in the process. She'd insisted that they change back into their wedding clothes so that Maria could take MORE pictures. "They're over there, Max!" she pointed across the road to a dusty parking lot, where Maria, Michael, Alex and Isabel stood waiting by Maria's Jetta. "Maria!!!!" she ran across the highway, holding her dress up to keep it from dragging in the dirt. She ran into Maria's arms and practically squeezed the life out of her.

"Whoa, chica. Calm down," Maria laughed despite herself. "How'd it go?"

"It was so wonderful, Maria! You should've been there!!!" Guilt flashed across her face momentarily-she and Michael were unable to attend the ceremony. Her mother refused to let her take off to Las Vegas with Michael--they'd run off one too many times.

"I'm so happy you guys are here!!" Liz was all but jumping up and down she was so exited. Max approached from behind her and lifted her into the air, swinging her around-it was like a scene from a cheesy romance film. Maria loved it; she had her hand over her mouth and tears in her eyes. Michael and Alex just frowned; women... and Max, of course, could be so sappy sometimes.

"Congratulations man," Michael slapped Max on the back hard.

"Thanks," Max smiled and then looked over at Liz who was still hugging Maria and Alex. "She's beautiful, isn't she?"

"Yea," Michael nodded, "Yea, she is. You're a lucky man."

"You have no idea," Max smiled at Michael and then walked back to his new wife. "Let's go inside sweetie. Your grandma's dress is getting all dusty," again, he lifted her into his arms and carried her towards the club entrance.

"Geez," Michael grabbed Maria's hand and followed Max. "Does he have to carry her everywhere?"

"He's being romantic, Michael. HE knows how to treat a girl!" Maria pulled her hands away.

"What? You want me to carry you now?"

Maria crossed her arms over her chest and didn't answer him. He could figure it out for himself.

"Fine, Maria," Michael took a step towards her, and a grin appeared on Maria's face. Easily, he lifted her up and almost threw he body over his shoulder. "I'll carry you," he laughed despite himself.

"Michael Guerin! You put me down right now!" Maria kicked, but it was no use and he held on tight.

"Sorry, Maria, but you asked for it!" he didn't even stop walking.

Alex and Isabel turned around and watched the scene unfolding behind them. Michael had slung Maria over his shoulder, and she was kicking her legs and screaming at him to put her down. Her mini-skirt hid nothing in her horizontal position, and her blaring red lace underwear was very, very visible. "Alex," Isabel cautioned, "please look the other way."

"Why?" he kept staring. "It's funny."

"Alex," Isabel stopped walking and put her hands on her hips.

"Alright, alright, I'm coming," Alex sighed and turned around.

Maria tried her best to continue to scream at him, but after the first few paces of walking, her screams gave way to laughter and she gave up trying to get away. Once they had entered the club, Michael gently put Maria down, and she fixed her skirt and her hair. "Michael Guerin," she pushed him away from her, "You are so sleeping alone tonight!" she walked away from him, moving her hips as much as possible simply to antagonize him further.

"Maria! Wait! Maria," he whined and followed her.

The group of six friends danced all night, blissfully unaware of the younger Max and Liz who stood watching them from the corner of the club. They had been watching the entire evening, Max confused as to what they were watching, but Liz understanding completely. They didn't speak to each other; they simply watched in awe, as a dream--marriage, friendship, joy, and the most wonderful post-wedding party anyone could possibly ask for was played out in front of them.

Later that night, Maria had gotten up on stage, and much to Michael's dismay, had decided to serenade the newly weds with one of her favourite songs. "Max, Liz, this song has always made me think of you. I can only hope that one day, Michael will come to his senses, and become a real person with actual emotions, so that we could be as happy as you two are." Maria stared pointedly at Michael, who merely shrugged. Max and Liz, who were still in each other's arms in the middle of the dance floor, couldn't hide their laughter. Cueing the DJ to her right, Maria prepared to sing.

"Your love,
is better that ice cream,
better than anything else that I've tried.
Your love,
is better than ice cream,
everyone here knows how to cry."

Max and Liz spun around slowly on the dance floor, accompanied by Isabel and Alex, and a few other couples who decided to intrude on the obviously private moment.

"And it's a long way down,
yes it's a long way down,
It's a long way down to the place where we started from.

Your love,
is better than that chocolate,
better than anything else that I've tried.
Your love,
is better than chocolate,
everyone here knows how to fight

And it's a long way down,
yes it's a long way down,
it's a long way down to the place where we started from."

As the song faded out, Max and Liz kissed each other sweetly, and Michael grabbed Maria from the stage, and pulled her into his arms. The DJ began to play the regular club music again, and the group continued to dance.

The entire evening, the newlyweds danced together, completely immersed in each other. It seemed as though they never left the dance floor. Even as the sun was rising, and Michael, Maria, Isabel and Alex were exhausted, they continued to dance. Just as the club was finally closing, Sheryl Crow's 'I Shall Believe' came on the radio, and Max and Liz seemed to simply float from the floor. Liz had her arms wound tightly around Max's waist, and her face was pressed into his chest. Max gently ran his fingertips up and down her back, and kissed the top of her head, being careful to ruin her "ridiculously expensive, and time consuming" wedding hair-do. Michael, Maria, Isabel and Alex watched from a nearby table, and were still stuck by the connection that Max and Liz obviously shared.

The past Max and Liz sat together at a nearby table, and watched as their future counter parts danced the night away. Liz's feeling of jealousy grew strongly at this moment, and she seemed to develop a bitter taste in her mouth. Why was this happening? Why were they torturing them? Max didn't deserve to be shown these scenes of their happy future--the future that Liz had given up, only to find that he could never have them.

Her solemn thoughts were interrupted by Max's palm which was suddenly pressed against her face. "Liz, what's going on? Where are we? Is this our wedding night?"

Liz didn't answer; in fact, she couldn't even look at him, and she fought the tears that were beginning to make their way down her cheeks. As she looked back at the dance floor, the couple slowly began to fade away in front of them, and the shabby dance club/ bar turned into a bright sunny day.

-----------

"Come on Max! You're so slow!" Liz grabbed his hand and tugged him forward through the crowd. She was like a little girl all over again--like she was reliving the childhood she never had. Max loved to see her so happy, and it didn't happen enough as far as he was concerned. "The line's already getting long! Let's go, Max!" she pulled his arm hard and hopped impatiently further into the crowd.

"I'm coming, I'm coming!" he laughed and made a good effort to catch up with her. "Just where are you taking me, anyway?"

"Space mountain. That's where we're meeting everyone."

"Space mountain. What's a Space Mountain?"

"It's a roller coaster in the dark. You can't see two feet in front of your face, let alone the track, so you never know when you'll be going straight down, or upside down, or around a corner or..."

"Oh no," Max interrupted and stopped her dead in her tracks. "Not another roller coaster. Do you even remember the Indiana Jones fiasco from yesterday?"

Maria, Michael, Liz, Isabel and Alex had all decided to try the Indiana Jones ride, and much to Max's dismay, he was dragged along. When they all got off at the end of the ride, Max and puked all over an elderly woman and her grand daughter. They had not been pleased, to say the least. He vowed, right then and there, no more roller coasters.

"Come on, Max! Please?" she pouted.

Max laughed. She really had reverted back to ten year old form. Still, he didn't give in, "No," he put his hands on his hips.

"Fine," she turned around, "then I'm sleeping in Michael and Maria's room tonight."

"Fine by me," he shrugged, "although, I don't think Michael would appreciate it very much. And besides, there's only one bed in there. Where exactly were you planning on sleeping."

"On...on the floor."

"Oh," he laughed. He had clearly won this one. "Alright then," he sat down on a bench and crossed his legs. "Have it your way."

Liz sighed and sat down beside him on the bench. "Please Max? I'll be scared sitting by myself! And besides, you get to sit behind me, with your legs wrapped around my waist," she poked him gently in the ribs.

Max laughed at her persistence.

"Do it for me, Max?" she took his hand and squeezed it between hers.

He paused as he thought for a moment, and then stood, pulling her up from the bench. "I'd do anything for you."

She smiled triumphantly. "I win!"

He sighed happily. "Yea, you won. Let's go then," he pulled her into a brief hug and kissed her forehead, before tugging her off into the crowd.

It took only a few minutes to get to the oddly shaped white building and to find Michael, Maria, Isabel and Alex waiting.

"Geez," Maria grabbed Liz's free hand and tugged her towards the building entrance. "What took you guys so long?"

"When Mr. Big-shot-alien-king found out that Space Mountain was a roller coaster, he refused to come along. I think he's scared or something," she laughed.

"Geez, Maxwell," Michael slapped his friend on the back, "D'you always have to be such a chicken? I mean, come on, you're giving us men a bad name!" His crack made everyone laugh.

"You see what you've started," Max ran up behind Liz and started tickling her as she walked.

"Stop it, Max.... stop Max! Stop.. .stop it please," Liz managed to get out while trying to catch her breath.

After a moment or two, he gave in and stopped tickling her. The six friends disappeared into Space Mountain, leaving the past Max and Liz watching from a few feet away. They didn't try to follow, and as soon as the group had disappeared from view, the scene changed again.

------------

"How was work today?" Max stood in the center of a modern kitchen, frying some peppers in a pan.

"Great. We isolated a micro organism that might be responsible for an illness that mimics cancer in fish." Liz sounded very exited, as she put her medical bag on the counter and pulled her hair into a loose ponytail. "What's for dinner sweetie? It smells good."

"Marinated chicken with bell peppers and rice," he used the wooden spoon he was stirring with to waft the smell up to his nose. "Yup. It smells good. I’ve become quite the chef if I do say so myself."

Liz smiled and walked towards her husband of six years. As he sprinkled some various spices--paprika, oregano, cumin and curry powder--into the pan, she wrapped his arms around his waist and lay her head on his back. "I missed you today."

"You always miss me," Max laughed.

"Well... yea," she forced Max to turn and look at her. "But I missed you more than usual today," she smiled and pressed her forehead to him.

Max smiled gently and sweetly kissed her, before turning back to his cooking. His innocent kiss obviously wasn't enough for Liz--she turned him around again, and reaching behind him, she turned off the stove. "You can finish your cooking later," she smiled seductively, pushing her small body into his and running her hands up and down his back, trying to drive him crazy.

"I'm hungry," he whined. "I want to-"

She silenced him with a deep, passionate kiss. Moaning into him, she ran her hands through his hair, and tried to pull him even closer to her.

"Still feel like cooking?" she smiled innocently.

"We can eat later," Max rubbed his hands up and down her bare arms. "I'm... still hungry, though..." he looked up at her, and the fire in her eyes started her. He certainly wasn't talking about food.

"I... I thought so," she nodded.

Seemingly oblivious to her reply, Max leaned towards her and began to lay feather-light kisses on her neck. Moving to her shoulders, he pushed the strap of her tight black tank top down her upper arm, and he ran his fingertips up and down her arms, creating the familiar glow on her skin.

The other Max and Liz stood in the corner of the kitchen, and felt very out of place-they seemed to be intruding on a private moment, yet neither one could tear their eyes from the scene unfolding in front of them. Liz turned to look at Max who was still standing behind her-she was met by a stare of intense hunger. "Liz," he muttered, as he mimicked the older Max movements, by running his hands up and
down her delicate arms.

Meanwhile, the other Max had somehow gotten Liz completely out of her tank top and plaid skirt leaving her in a simple but sexy black satin bra and underwear. Liz had managed to get Max out of his tight shirt as well, and she was leaving a trail of kisses down his chest.

Still watching them together, Liz began to blush intensely. Her Max had never seen her in so little clothing before, and this wasn't exactly the way she wanted him to look at her. Shyly, she turned around and was struck by the intense stare in Max's eyes-he couldn't tear his vision away from the expanse of flesh that had just been exposed to him.

"Max, please turn around," she begged.

"What?" he payed no attention.

"Max, turn around," she said more forcefully.

Max grumbled. "It's your dream, anyway. And besides, he's allowed to look," he gestured to future Max, "how come I can't?"

"He's my husband. You're not," she smiled, and physically tried to turn him around.

"I will be," Max whispered. Before she realized what was going on, Max had her in his arms and was drawing lazy circles on her back. Giving in to him for just a moment (this was a dream after all), she leaned into him, pressing her face into his chest. "I miss you, Liz," he put his finger under her chin and forced her to look into his eyes. The passion she saw in them started a fire inside her body, and she could fight the urge to kiss him no longer. The kiss they shared was long and passionate, and proved their love for each other.

By the time they pulled apart, the scene around them had dissolved again, and they were left in an expanse of darkness. Liz thought she could smell burnt hair, and she could hear people screaming somewhere in the distance. Glancing around her quickly, the other Max and Liz were no where to be found. She turned back to her Max, "Where are we?"

"In some kind of cave, I think."

"C'mon Max," they suddenly heard the other Liz's voice. "Bring him over here." As Max entered the cave just behind Liz, an eerie incandescent glow filled the cave around them. The walls were inscribed with strange symbols, that seemed to glow as the unfamiliar light swept over them.

"Oh God," the present Max put his hand over his mouth and indicated to where future Max and Liz were standing. They were hovering over the body they had just dragged into the cave, and Max had his hands on its chest, trying to revive him. The body was covered in blood, and its legs hung at seemingly impossible angles. The damage was so severe that anyone else would not have recognized the body, but
Max knew that hair-cut anywhere. It was Michael.

"He's... he's too far gone Liz," Max pulled his hands off Michael's chest. "There's just too much damage, and I can't do anything," he paused, almost choking on his words. "He's dead."

"No," Liz sobbed. Max was immediately on his feet and had Liz in his arms. He let her sob against his chest for several minutes before she finally pulled away. "Max, we... we have to do something. First Isabel and now Michael. We have to stop this."

"How?"

FLASH! The cave suddenly disappeared and past Max and Liz were surrounded by a blinding white light, that forced both of them to squint their eyes shut.

Flash.

"No, no, I don't...I don't know who you are, but you...you're not Max."

Flash.

"It's you I trust. It's you I have faith in, and because it's not just about getting me close to Tess. I need you to help me fall out of love with you."

Flash.

"That's what I said, but you said that Romeo and Juliet were even younger than us, so we drove to Vegas. Got married at the Elvis chapel. Congratulations, Liz."

"So we didn't have a real wedding."

"Oh, we had a great wedding. You called Maria, Michael, Isabel, and Alex, and had them meet us halfway. We spent the whole night singing and dancing in some dive outside Phoenix, and at the end of the night, "I Shall Believe" came on the radio."

"I love that song."

"I know. Everyone else was exhausted, but not us. Oh, we danced...just the two of us. And ever since then, it's been our song."

Flash.

"No. The night of Gomez I came to your room. That's the night that things between us were cemented."

"Cemented. So when you say cemented, you..."

"We made love."

Flash.

"Do you know how hard it was for me to tell him that I didn't want to die for him? He's the only reason that I'm alive right now. You...you've...you gotta come up with another plan. Please go to someone else. I...I just...I can't do this anymore."

Flash.

"Yeah. Um, Kyle, look...I just wanna make sure that I...I...I made it actually clear that we're not gonna..."

"Consummate. I understand."

Flash.

"Maybe. Maybe not. From now on, the future is to be determined. It's what I've always said to you, Liz. We create our own destiny."

Liz's eyes flew open and she sat upright in bed. She couldn't believe everything she had just witnessed. She was forced to give up her happiness and then watch as scenes of joy that she could never have were flashed in front of her face. And then she was reminded why she had given it up-Michael had died in Max's arms-she remembered, future Max had told her that.

Her Max had been in the dream with her, and now most likely had a better idea of what had happened to her, and that she hadn't really slept with Kyle. Liz wondered if he understood everything he was seeing. Something told her that he didn't understand everything just yet.

After seeing the look on his face when Michael had died, Liz resolved that she would tell Max the truth. He would understand. And he could finally learn to trust her again.

Wiping away a tear that had fallen down her cheek at some point during the dream, Liz climbed out of bed and walked towards her bedroom door. Taking a deep breath to compose herself, she finally turned the knob, and pulled the door towards her.

Max, who was still leaning against her door, fell into her bedroom at her feet, a mess of blankets, and pillows surrounding his tangled limbs.

"Liz," he stood up and fixed his hair nervously. "Are you okay?"

"Yea," she barely nodded. "Max I..." she paused, "I'm ready to tell you the truth now."


Part 11

"Bye Mom, I’m off to the evil-pointless-institution-that-forces-useless-knowledge-into-our-apparently-incapable-minds," Maria yelled over her shoulder on the way out the door.

"Huh," Amy Deluca called after her daughter. She appeared in the kitchen in her pyjamas and bathrobe with bright green alien slippers on her feet.

"School."

"Right," she poured herself a cup of coffee and looked at the paper and Maria slammed the door behind her.

Maria had run to the sidewalk in a hurry looking for her car. She stopped when she realized that the car was nowhere in sight. "Uh…" She was sure she had left it right here when she’d come home last night. Feeling panic starting to overtake her she forced herself to calm down, "Okay, take deep breaths, in…. out…. in…. out…." Finding the breathing exercise not helping much she reached into her pocket, "Damn, where is that cedar oil?" After standing out on the sidewalk for a good five minutes trying to decide what had happened to her car, she came to the conclusion that her mom must have used it at some point. Maria turned and walked back up the path to her house. "Mom," she called out as she re-entered, "Mom do you know where the car is?"

"Right where you left it honey," came the reply from the kitchen. Amy was standing at the counter still in her bathrobe but was now eating a bowl of cereal.

"Are you sure you didn’t move it?" Maria asked her mom hopefully.

"No, I haven’t touched it since yesterday. Why?" her mom turned to face Maria.

"Well, it’s kinda missing." Silence meet Maria’s comment. Finally Mrs. Deluca turned to face her.

"Kinda missing?" she frowned. "How is kinda missing. It’s missing or it isn’t. Which is it?"

"It’s missing."

"This is not the time for jokes Maria."

"No, no, I’m not joking. The. Car. Is. Gone."

Quickly Amy dropped her bowl of cereal on the counter and rushed towards to door. Running out to the sidewalk she stopped suddenly at the sight before her. "Maria," she turned towards her daughter with a pissed-off expression on her face. Maria had followed her mother out and was now standing behind her
staring.

"But… It… How…" Maria couldn’t form a proper sentence. Right in front of them was the red Jetta. Reaching into her pocket she pulled out her cedar oil and took a big sniff. Her mom just looked at her one last time before returning to the house.

Baffled, Maria walked over to the drivers side and got in the car. Just as she was about to start it, she spotted something stuck under her windshield wipers. Getting out of the car and slamming the door, she reached over to take the offending piece of paper off of her windshield. "Great, just what I need, a stupid flying telling me something I either never wanted to know, or never really cared about anyway." Maria scowled at the scrap of paper until she realized that it wasn’t a scrap of paper, but an envelope; her interest suddenly peaked, she turned it over.

On the front of the cream coloured envelope was her name scrawled in big letters. The black ink stood out sharply against the creamy background and Maria was startled that it was addressed to her. Well, it couldn’t be from Liz, because there was no way Liz would ever write something in THAT writing. Hmm, Alex maybe? Nah, he’d never leave her a note on her car-- he just tell her whatever it was he needed to tell her. So who was it from? Only one way to find out Deluca, she thought to herself. She opened the envelope and pulled out a single piece of the same cream-coloured paper—it had the logo of the motel she and Michael had stayed at printed in a hideous colour scheme at the top. She started to read the black writing on the page.

Dear Maria,

I have never been good at saying stuff. In fact, I pretty much suck at it. Things never really come out the way I want them to. So, I figured, maybe if I wrote them down it would better, ya know, so I maybe wouldn’t end up with my foot in my mouth.

First off, I’d like to say I’m sorry. I’m sorry for all the things I’ve said that hurt you. I’m sorry for walking away from you, from us. I’m sorry that I was never a hopeless romantic, like Max. And I’m sorry for all the things I said last night; I know that I upset you. I was just mad at Max for getting himself into a situation like that. I’m usually the one to screw things up by running off, not him.

I didn’t mean what I said about the destiny thing; we should shape our own. And I don’t think the skins could ever use you against us. You’d probably end up killing them yourself, either from your incessant chattering or maybe you’d just kick their asses. And, you never know, maybe it’d be nice to have a chick to come home to after all the hard battles.

So I apologize for all the stupid things I’ve said and done. There’s only one thing I’m not sorry for though, and that’s falling in love with you.

Love always,

Michael

Maria nearly dropped the piece of paper in shock. Here it was, the day hell froze over-- Michael Guerin had actually expressed emotion. Regaining her senses, Maria quickly left to find Liz to tell her about the letter Michael had left her. And after that she’d go find her Spaceboy and kiss him senseless.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

"Max I..." she paused, "I'm ready to tell you the truth now."

"Oh. Okay," Max shifted nervously for a moment until Liz stepped aside and allowed him into her room. She was finally going to tell him the truth.

"Sit down," she motioned to her bed. "Did uh... did my parents see you sitting there?" she indicated to her doorway.

"Yea," he nodded. "I just told your dad that we had had a fight and I was waiting for you to come out so I could apoligize. He didn’t seem to keen on the idea of me sleeping outside your bedroom door all night, but I think he understood where I was coming from. He mentioned something about a big fight he had with your mother many years ago. Anyway, he was sympathetic."

"Oh," she paused to collect her thoughts. "Max, I..." she stopped again.

"Liz, it’s ok," Max took her hands and rubbed them gently between his. "You can tell me anything."

"Ok, first um, I just want to say that I’m sorry. I hated lying to you for all this time, and I hated hurting you. I just felt that I had to, that it was necessary..."

"You didn’t sleep with him did you," he interrupted.

"No," she shook her head.

"I knew all along," Max was close to beaming. "I knew you’d never do that to me... to yourself."

"Oh," Liz tried to hide a grin. She hadn’t seen Max so happy in some time. "Well, how much do you know?"

"You tell me. I had the flashes, the dream. Although, I’m still confused as to what exactly happened to you, and why you wanted me to see you in bed with Kyle. And who was that man you were talking to? Why did he look so much like me?"

"He uh, he was you, Max," she pushed some stubborn locks behind her ear before beginning. "It all started when Maria took Alex and I to see this psychic for love advice..." She told him everything—how he had come back from 14 years in the future to warn her about the end of the world, how he’d told her to make the younger version of him fall out of love with her, how they’d been married for 12 years and how now, she’d never have those happy times.

Max was completely and utterly speechless. He couldn’t believe what Liz had gone through in the past few months, and that she’d been so strong and brave all alone. Without thinking, he pulled her into a tight hug and let her head rest on his shoulder.

"God Liz. Why didn’t you tell me?"

"I was... so scared," she whispered. "I was scared you’d hate me for giving up on you, and for lying to you all this time. And I was scared that you wouldn’t believe me."

"Liz, nothing could be further from the truth. I am so proud of you! I never would have had the strength to sacrifice my happiness like you did. And besides—" he cupped her face in his hands, "I could never hate you. Never."

Liz sighed and smiled at him. She should have known that he’d react this way. She should’ve told him right away.

"There’s still one thing I’m not quite clear about though."

"What?" she frowned.

"What were all those visions in our dream? The wedding? Disneyworld? Some club in the middle of nowhere? What exactly was all that?"

"You... I mean, future you told me about some of those things. I think we were watching our future—well, what would’ve been our future if I hadn’t..." she swallowed "If I hadn’t hurt you the way I did."

"I thought so," Max shook his head sadly. "Well," he cupped her face in his hands, and wiped away a single tear from her cheek, "Now I’m going to have to think of some new wedding vows and..."

"What?" her eyes shot up to his and they were full of an intense fear.

Max leaned in and gently kissed her nose, trying to reassure her that everything was alright; however, the fear written all over her face wouldn’t subside. He frowned and continued, confusion apparent in his voice. "You’ve heard the old ones already, so I’ll have to come up with new ones for when we really get married."

Liz jumped up from the bed—she looked suddenly wild, like a deer caught in the headlights of an 18 wheeler.

"Liz what?" Max stood up and tried to grab her by the shoulders. She just pulled away.

"Max! We can’t! This was another reason I didn’t tell you. We can’t get married. That’s why I put myself through this in the first place! We can’t be..." she stumbled over her words, "...together. We can’t. You saw what would happen—you saw Michael die in your arms. We can’t let that happen. I won’t let it."

Before Max could respond, Liz’s mother knocked on her bedroom door, and pushed it open gently. "Good morning sweetie. Hi Max."

"Mrs. Parker."

"I hope you two resolved everything. If you’re ready, your dad made French toast for breakfast. Join us, Max?"

"Thanks Mrs. Parker, but I really should be going home in a minute. I need to clean up before I go to school."

"Alright then," she turned to her daughter. "Don’t be too much longer, Lizzie. And please, put some clothes on. You shouldn’t be standing around in your pyjamas. And you’re going to be late for school if you don’t get moving."

"Yes mom," she smiled fakely. "I’ll be down in a minute."

And with that, her mom left the room and closed the door behind her.

"Liz," Max continued. "Didn’t you say that the future version of me disappeared after I saw you with Kyle?"

"Yes."

"So, doesn’t that mean that we changed the future?"

"Well," she paused as she thought for a moment. "We did, but if we give in here... if you fall in love with me again, then who’s to say that what happened in Future Max’s reality, won’t happen again?"

"We can’t know that, Liz. We can’t see the future. No one can. And besides," he took her hands between his and forced her to sit down on the bed beside him. "I never fell out of love with you in the first place. I was just hurt, that’s all."

Liz was speechless. How was she suppose to resist him, when he was telling her that he was still in love with her. "Max I..."

She was interrupted by a sharp knock on her bedroom door. "Liz?" he mother pushed open the door, and walked into the room. "Good morning, sweetie. Hi Max."

Max frowned. "Hi.... Mrs. Parker." He glanced over to Liz who looked just as confused as he did.

"I hope you two resolved everything. If you’re ready, your dad made French toast for breakfast. Join us, Max?"

"I umm... should go. But, thanks," the confused look on his face persisted.

"Mom... what..." Liz looked even more perturbed by the situation. Her mother had just come into the room, and asked the same questions, not 30 seconds ago.

"Alright then," she turned to her daughter. "Don’t be too much longer, Lizzie. And please, put some clothes on. You shouldn’t be standing around in your pyjamas. And you’re going to be late for school if you don’t get moving."

Swiftly, he mother left the room and closed the door. Max and Liz could hear the sounds of her feet as she hopped down the stairs to the kitchen.

"Liz?"

"Max, what the hell was that?"

"I don’t know. She did come in twice right? I’m not going crazy?"

"No. She came in twice. That was so strange," she stood and walked to the door, as if she expected her mother to come through it and announce breakfast a third time.

"Has she ever done that before?"

"No," Liz shook her head. "And she said exactly the same things the second time she came in. It’s like, she didn’t remember coming in a first time."

Max was silent for a moment. Something told him that this really didn’t have anything to do with Mrs. Parker. "Liz, I think something strange is going on. And I don’t it has anything to do with your mother’s memory. We need to talk to Michael and Isabel. Maybe... maybe they’ve noticed something too."

"Okay," she nodded and opened her bedroom door, so that Max could head out. "Bye Max. I’ll see you at school."

"Liz," he turned to face her before he left. "We aren’t finished yet. I want to talk to you later. Please."

Liz could only nod.

"But until then," he smiled and enveloped her in a warm hug. "Friends?"

"Yea," she muttered into his chest. "Always."

So, Liz was afraid Tess was going to leave Roswell. Max thought for a moment, and then quickly decided that he was definitely going to have a little talk with the petite blonde alien just to make sure she wasn’t envisioning any more flights of fancy. Tess wouldn’t be leaving Roswell, and Max WOULD get his Liz back.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

"Liz! Liz!!!!!" Maria was yelling at the top of her lungs and pushing her way through the crowd of people in the West Roswell High hallway. "’Scuze me! Comin’ though. I have important business to attend to," no one payed attention. "Hello? Move please," she physically pushed some of the sophomore students out of her way, and eventually made her way to Liz’s locker. "Lizzie! Chica, guess what?" she was almost jumping up and down.

Liz smiled at her friend, "What’s up Maria?"

"MichaelleftthisnoteonmycarthismorningandatfirstIthoughtitwassomestupidaddforCollegeProPaint, orarecruitmentflyerforJehovah’sWitnessesbutthenIsawmynameontheenvelopesoIrealizeditwasn’t, anditwasthisletterfromMichaelandIwassomadathimbeforebecausehewasbeingsuchajerkandthen, Ireadthisletteranditmademecrybecauseit’ssooosweet! Liz you have to read it! Heevensayshowmuchhe..."

"Maria Whoa!" Liz interrupted. "In English, please. I didn’t understand a word of that, and why are you waving an envelope in my face? Have you been having espresso with your Cornflakes again? We talked about this."

"No, no, I just..." she was about to start again.

"Take a deep breath Maria. Speak slowly. En-un-c-iate."

"Okay," she exhaled loudly before telling her story at a semi-human speed. "I found this letter from Michael on my windshield this morning. I haven’t spoken to him since the cave incident because we had this fight on the way home—he was being egotistical bastard, as usual—so he wrote me this letter of apology. It’s so sweet, Liz! You have to read it!" she handed the envelope to Liz.

"Just a sec," Liz grabbed her bio text book out of her locker, and shut and locked it before opening the envelope Maria had handed her.

"Oh, Maria!" she smiled at her friend. "This is adorable! And so not Michael. You guys must’ve really fought to get him to resort to something like this," she stated a-matter-of-factly. "Have you talked to him yet?"

"Nope. I haven’t seen him," Maria had a twinkle in her eye. Liz knew that she more than likely wouldn’t be seeing Maria or Michael in biology this morning.

"Hey Maria?" Liz picked up her text book from where she’d placed it on the floor, and handed her friend back her precious letter.

"Uh huh?"

"I umm... I talked to Max last night. I mean, I really talked to him."

"Finally, geez. I knew it was only a matter of time before you broke down," Maria smiled. "So, how’d it go?"

"Fine, I guess. He already knew most of what happened because of the flashes, and the dream...."

"Dream?" she interrupted, "What dream?"

"We had the same dream—I was writing in my journal, and he was waiting outside my bedroom door, and we both kind of fell asleep. We dreamt of our wedding day, and dancing, and going to Disney land, and..." she paused. She wasn’t going to tell Maria about Michael, "and, some other things."

"Harsh. That sucks," Maria shook her head.

"Yea," Liz sighed. "Well, anyway, I finally explained it to him, and he wasn’t angry. He actually said he was... proud of what I did."

"Of course he was! I could’ve told you he’d be proud of you. You did the right thing, chica."

"I think.. um... I think things will be better now. I can finally be completely honest with him," she paused for a moment, and was about to tell Maria about her strange encounter with her mother that morning, when Maria turned to face someone walking by.

"Amber, wait!" Maria reached out and grabbed Amber by the wrist, pulling her in towards the lockers.

"Hi," she smiled. "You’re ummm... Maria, right? You work at the Crashdown."

"Yup. This is Liz. Liz, this is Amber. She’s new in town," Maria introduced them.

"Nice to meet you," Liz smiled politely and shook her hand. There was something odd about her, but Liz couldn’t quite place it. "Do you have bio next?"

"Yea."

"Good," Maria grabbed her by the arm, "So do we." As they walked off towards their biology classroom, Maria took one last glance around the hallway, looking for Michael. She didn’t see him—that boy is always late, she thought, shaking her head sadly. She was on her way into the room, when she noticed something odd—Liz’s locker was wide open. Hmm... she frowned. Didn’t she close that? Maria walked over and slammed the locker shut before running into the lab room.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The young tech took a deep breath before knocking on the heavy wooden door in front of him.

"Yes?" a voice boomed from inside.

"M...may I come in, sir? I uhhh I have a message from Dr. Silverthorn."

"Come in." The doors, on a remote control, opened as the man inside the room spoke. The tech hopped though the doors and hurried across the room to the marble desk, where an older man in a very expensive looking suit was smoking a Cuban cigar. "Well then? I don’t have all day. What’s the message?"

"Yes, sir. Sorry sir," he sputtered. "I was told to inform you that the new program is ready, and has been inserted."

"Excellent," he seemed satisfied. "However, I am somewhat concerned about the number of technical glitches that have been occurring. I was told they were under control."

"Yes sir. We’re uhhh working on that, sir.... but uhhh the overuse of electrochemical stimulation has left the main construct somewhat ummm... uhhh.."

"Spit it out son!"

"Yessir! Sorry again. The main construct is damaged. We’re replacing what we can, but every time we fix a part of the mother board, we see a glitch in the main program grid. When we’ve completed the repairs, we shouldn’t see anymore problems."

"Well get on that then. And quickly. And tell Silverthorn that his ass is mine if something goes wrong."

"Yes sir," the lab rat scurried out of the executive office and ran back to give his immediate superior the message. He wasn’t going to be happy.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

At lunch Maria had bolted from their Bio class in order to find Michael. She was walking through the quad when she spotted him sitting at their usual table. She put on her best ‘I’m going to kill you Michael Guerin’ face and started to make her way over to the table. She was just going to make him sweat a little before giving in.

Michael looked up from his lunch as Maria stopped in front of him. He was stunned to find her staring down at him, fuming. He quickly stood up wondering what he’d done this time.

"What the hell is this?" Maria yelled at him waving the letter in front of his face. "What… what is it?"

Her voice was starting to get shrill and Michael was still wondering about what was wrong. "Ma…" He tried to ask her, but she just cut him off.

"I mean, how could you do this to me? Me, of all people."

Michael was thoroughly confused now. Maria was yelling at him for apologizing? No, that wasn’t it, maybe she had misunderstood the letter. He stood there silently as she continued to rant at him, getting more baffled by the second. They had attracted quite a bit of attention by this time and he was getting a little nervous. Maria’s voice broke his train of thought, "Are you even listing to me Michael?"

"I… uh…"

"I want you to explain this right now. This, this is," Maria voice lowered to a soft whisper as she stepped closer to him, "this is the sweetest thing anyone has ever done for me." She slowly moved closer and her lips brushed his in a gentle kiss. "Thank you," she paused. "I had you there for a second didn’t I?"

Maria pulled away to look at Michael, he looked cute with that confused expression. Understanding slowly dawned on him.

"So, you accept my apology?" Michael asked, still a little uncertain.

"Of course I do Spaceboy," Maria smiled at him .

"And… we’re back together?"

Maria just looked up at him, her smile turning a little mischievous, "Well that depends."

"On what?"

"On this," Maria grabbed his head and pulled it down to hers for a kiss. Unlike the last one, this kiss was full passion and longing. He wanted her. She wanted him. She moaned into him and ran her hands through his hair. Michael deepened the kiss, sliding his tongue into her mouth and massaging hers. He loved the taste of her—sweet and spicy—his Maria.

Ignoring the cat calls and whistles that were coming from their fellow students, Michael and Maria were in their own little world-- a world that consisted of only each other. Or at least it did until Michael felt a tap on his shoulder.

"Excuse me, Mr. Guerin, but I believe that displays like this are considered inappropriate, especially around such impressionable youth. Maybe you and Ms. Deluca would like to spend the afternoon in detention?" Mr. Lloyd raised his eyebrows, and placed his hands on his hips; he did not look happy.

"No, no sir," Michael replied. Giving them one last look the teacher continued on his way. After he was sure Mr. Lloyd was gone, Michael turned to Maria, "Eraser Room?" Maria didn’t respond, she just took his hand and started walking. "I’ll take that as a yes."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

"So, if you are given the equation f(x) is equal to the sum of the square root of x cubed plus six, what is the derivative of x equal to?" Ms. Mayhew scrawled an equation on the black board and turned to face the class.

Max and Liz sat next to each other in the back row, sneaking nervous glances at each other while attempting to copy down the calculus equation. Maria, and Michael hadn’t shown up to class and Liz assumed that because of Michael’s sweet letter, they wouldn’t be emerging from the eraser room for quite some time. Frankly, Liz envied her Teflon-babe friend.

"Anyone?" Ms. Mayhew tapped her pointer stick on her desk. "Come on people! We went over this last class!"

No one answered, and Max and Liz continued to steal glances at each other.

"Mr. Evans?"

"Huh? I mean, yes ma’am?"

"Well, considering the fact that you seemed to be too absorbed in Ms. Parker to pay attention, and therefore must find all of this far too easy, perhaps you could show us all how to solve the problem."

"I ummm..." Oh no. No he’d done it. This was bound to be embarrassing—his calculus skills were severely lacking, and God knows what that horrible monster of a teacher would do to him if he admitted that he didn’t know how to answer the question. He would get himself, and Liz into some serious trouble.

"Please come up to the board and demonstrate your amazing calculus stills for us, Mr. Evans."

Sighing to himself, Max stood from his desk and looked apologetically at Liz. As he made his way past her desk, she smiled at him and whispered almost inaudibly, "three over two x squared times x cubed plus six to the negative half."

"Thanks," he whispered back before making his way towards the board. Silently, he scrawled out the answer she had given him underneath his teacher’s original equation, and then quickly returned to his seat.

"Very good, Mr. Evans," the teacher sounded surprised at his correct answer. "Now come back here, and let’s try a different problem—without the help of your girlfriend."

Damn. Caught red handed. And, of course, he’d succeeded in humiliating Liz as well. As we walked back up the board, he glanced back at Liz who was a deep shade of red. He mumbled an apology.

"Now," she again began to scrawl some random numbers and letters on the blackboard. "This problem wont be so easy. It involves the use of implicit differentiation, and the combined variable law that we just went over." She finished the equation and turned to Max, who had a very confused look on his face. "So, we have, f(x) is equal to y cubed minus x squared plus 12 divided by xy to the power of six, all to the eighth power and multiplied by eight over two z."

Max suddenly looked very, very frightened. He turned to look at Liz who had a rather bemused expression on her face, and obviously had no clue how to solve the problem either.

"I um.... well," he rolled a piece of chalk in his fingers and was about to take a step towards the blackboard when suddenly, Ms. Mayhew did something very strange. She picked up the eraser and erased the entire equation from the blackboard, while walking backwards, and mumbling in what sounded like chipmunk jargon. "Ms. Mayhew?" Max frowned and watched his teacher, who continued to move in almost a rewind mode. When she had erased the entire equation, she seemed to return to her original speed and began again.

"Now," for the second time, she began to scrawl the complicated equation on the blackboard. "This problem wont be so easy. It involves the use of...." she continued, repeating exactly what she had said the first time, while writing the equation on the black board.

Max turned to look at Liz who had stood up from her seat. Isabel, Alex, Kyle and Tess had also stood from their seats and began to gather around Max. No one else in the class seemed to notice that anything had gone wrong. "What the hell is going on?" Kyle was the first one to speak.

"I... I...." Liz couldn’t find words.

"Liz," Max walked over to the group. "Your mom this morning, she—"

"Yea..."

"What is going on here?" Ms. Mayhew finished writing the equation and had turned again to face the class. "Why is everyone standing?"

"Sorry, Ms. Mayhew," Isabel smiled sweetly. "We were... just... discussing the ways you could solve the problem. Tess suggested one way, and I disagreed, so we asked Liz about it."

"Right. Well, thank you for your interest, but I asked Mr. Evans to solve this problem WITHOUT the aid of his better half," she turned back to Max who had returned to his place beside the blackboard.

"Well Mr. Evans?"

"I’m sorry, Ms. Mayhew, but I don’t know how to solve the problem," he gave in and stepped back from the board.

"I didn’t think so. Please pay attention in the future, and you’ll save yourself and Miss Parker from further embarrassment."

"Yes ma’am," Max walked back to his desk and sat down. Quickly he pulled out a blank sheet of paper and wrote two words on it. Passing it to Liz, he motioned for her to pass it to the rest of their "I know an alien (or I AM an alien)" club.

As soon as Ms. Mayhew wasn’t looking, Liz opened the note from Max. "Eraser room?" she read, and then turned to him and nodded before passing the note to everyone else. Silently, they all wondered the same thing: how were they all going to get out of the classroom.

"Ohhh..... owwwww...." Isabel moaned as loudly as possible, and crossed her arms over her stomach.

"Miss. Evans?" Ms. Mayhew looked across the room at the blonde who has on the verge of rolling out of her desk. "Are you alright?"

"No.... I think it’s my appendix," she moaned. "Can I go see the nurse, please?"

"Yes Miss. Evans, but be quick about it."

"Maybe I’d better take her..." Liz stood up from her desk and walked towards Isabel. "You know, just in case she... can’t walk..."

"Fine. But I want you two back here in less that ten minutes."

Isabel and Liz quickly ran out of the room, and waited for everyone else down the hall by Liz’s locker.

Back in calculus class, Max, Alex, Tess and Kyle were still looking for a way out. Ms. Mayhew continued to solve the difficult problem, step by agonising step, while the remainder of the students continued to copy down what was written on the blackboard.

Suddenly, both Max and Alex stood up at the same time. "I have to go to the bathroom."

"Both of you?" Ms. Mayhew walked to her desk and pulled out a bathroom pass. "You know the rules. One at a time."

Again, at the same time, they both called out, "But I really have to go."

"Fine," again, she gave in to the students. "You know..." she smiled and looked right at Alex, while rolling the piece of chalk suggestively between her thumb and her forefinger. "Mr. Whitman, if you’re having zipper trouble, you should come to me, instead of Mr. Evans. I’d be more than happy to help, and I feel that I’d definitely make it worth your while," she licked her lips and raised her eyebrows.

"Uh...uh..." Alex was very, very red. Max and his other classmates were laughing incredulously among themselves. "Yes ma’am."

"Good," Ms. Mayhew went to her desk and pulled out two bathroom passes. She gave one to Max, and the other to Alex, her hand lingering on his a little too long. "Don’t be long," she smiled.

Alex and Max could not have left the classroom any faster.

"Great. That’s the last thing I need—a sixty five year old math teacher lusting after me. Man, being so sexy really can get on a guy’s nerves," Alex smoothed the creases out of his t-shirt and ran his hands through his short cropped hair.

Max could only laugh. "Ms. Mayhew has a crush on you, and suddenly you’re what, like a Calvin Klien model, or something?" he slapped Alex playfully on the back. "Come on man! She’s like sixty five, overweight, she wears formaldehyde for perfume, and I don’t think she even has her own teeth anymore."

"Well," Alex scratched his chin thoughtfully. "That could have it’s advantages."

"So gross, man! Sick! I so didn’t need a picture of THAT in my mind." They both shivered at the horrible image, before running over to meet Liz, and Isabel outside of Liz’s locker.

That left only Tess and Kyle. As Ms. Mayhew finally finished solving the calculus problem, Tess had an idea. Suddenly, she stood from her desk, walked across the front of the room to where Kyle was sitting and plopped herself down in his lap. "Hi honey," he smiled sweetly before leaning in to kiss him. She ran her hands through his hair and moaned as loudly as possible. Her classmates hooted and hollered cheering them on. Kyle, who had recovered from his momentary surprise and caught on to Tess plan, stood from his desk, with Tess still his arms. Tess wrapped her arms around Kyle’s waist and moaned ever louder. Kyle ran his hands up and down her back and growled from the back of his throat. He sounded like a tiger chasing it’s prey.

"My God! Mr. Valenti! Miss. Harding! Stop that this instant!" she put down the piece of chalk she’d been carrying and walked across the room to Kyle and Tess. "Have you no shame?" Yea. She was one to talk. She had just thrown herself at a 17 year old science geek.

Kyle finally put Tess back on the ground. Both their faces were red, and Kyle’s hair was slightly mussed.

"How dare you disrupt my class in such an inappropriate manor. You two are going to the principal right now," she walked to the classroom door and opened it, pointing the way down the hall. As the two walked out of the classroom, holding hands, their peers slowly began to clap and cheer. Kyle and Tess looked at each other and smiled, both obviously thinking the same thing. Stopping for just a moment, they turned back to face the class and bowed cordially.

"Kyle Valenti—football star, basketball star, and now... sex maniac!" Kyle cheered. This only made the students clap harder.

"Go now!" Ms. Mayhew yelled.

Kyle and Tess ran laughing out of the classroom, and found the other four waiting outside Liz’s locker.

posted on 9-Sep-2001 10:12:13 PM

Part 12

Michael ran his arms up and down Maria's back and kissed her with reckless abandon. His soft, yet deliberate touch elicited moans of pleasure from her and she responded by running her hands though is thick, messy hair.

"Michael?" she pulled away slightly.

"Mmm? He mumbled into her neck, refusing to stop touching her soft skin.

"Shouldn't we... you know... go back to class. We've been up here for, like, an hour."

"Sure," he pushed the strap of her tank top down her shoulder and began kissing his way down her arm.

The feeling of Michael's lips on her skin was setting Maria's body on fire. All logical thought flew from her head as he sucked on each of her fingers and she unconsciously raked her nails down his back. "Or..." she shivered, "We could stay here a little longer," she pulled his head up to her and kissed him again.

"Uh huh," he moaned into her and ran his tongue along her lips, while his hands made their way around her waist, landing on the bare skin of her lower back. He ran his fingertips up and down her spine, and he could feel it when she shivered in response to his gentle touch. "Maria," he sighed, as he moved his hands around to her stomach and up over her ribcage, and caressed her lightly with his short nails.

Meanwhile, Max, Liz, Tess, Kyle, Alex and Isabel ran down the hall towards the eraser room. Isabel led the way, making fun of Alex and Ms. Mayhew as she ran.

When she got to the door, they stopped. Michael and Maria could be heard loud and clear from behind the door. Maria was moaning and Michael was whispering her name like a prayer over and over again.

"Maybe we should... uh... go somewhere else to have our meeting. Something tells me they don't want to be interrupted," Max looked very uncomfortable.

"Nah," Alex stepped forwards and put his hand on the doorknob. "Oh Michael!" he faked a moan and imitated Maria's sweet voice. Raising his eyebrows, a smile shining in his eyes, he pushed open the door and held it open for Isabel.

"Geez Michael! You guys have been in here since lunch! And you're getting awfully loud! We can hear you half way down the hall," she put her hand son her hips and faked a scowl.

Immediately, Michael pulled his hands out from under Maria's shirt. "I uh... we don't know what you're talking about. We weren't doing anything."

"Uh huh. Sure," Alex laughed. "And I'm a Calvin Klein model."

"Okay. So what exactly were you two doing in here?" Isabel smiled.

"We uhhhh..." Maria thought hard. C'mon Deluca. Come up with something. "We weren't fooling around, if that's what you're insinuating." Smooth, she sighed, real smooth.

"Sure you were," Alex laughed.

"Well, what are YOU two doing in here anyway," she looked pointedly at Alex and Isabel and smiled smugly." Got em!

"We're having a meeting. Something weird happen in Calculus today."

"Oh a meeting. Sure," she used her most sarcastic voice. "Calculus. Right," she rolled her eyes.

"Yup. A meeting," Alex pushed open the door further, and Max, Liz, Kyle, and Tess filed into the room one by one.

"So, something happened in Calculus?" Maria frowned, "Something other than Ms. Mayhew throwing herself at you and the entire class I mean," she giggled and Michael stifled a grin.

"Yes. And thank you very much for bringing that up again. I really needed another reminder that the 65 year old with dentures has a crush on me."

"Sorry," Maria struggled to speak through her laugher. "What happened?"

"She sort of went into rewind."

"What?"

"She wrote an equation on the blackboard, then erased it while talking and walking backwards. A minute later she rewrote the same one out again and then reread it to us. It was so weird."

"And my mom almost did the same thing this morning," Liz piped in. "She came into my room to announce breakfast twice. She said the exact same thing both times," she looked at Max, who nodded silently.

"Have any of you noticed anything strange lately?" Max asked.

"How do you mean, Maxwell?" Michael frowned. He meanwhile, had taken a tight hold on Maria's hand and was caressing it lightly with his thumb--a simple gesture of comfort. "We live in Roswell. We're aliens. Life is strange."

"I dunno," he paused a moment as he thought, "Anything unusual, like people repeating things more than once, or-"

"My car disappeared this morning," Maria suddenly remembered the incident with the Jetta this morning. She'd been so wrapped up in Michael, and the letter fiasco that she'd completely forgotten.

"What?" Micahel turned to his Teflon babe and looked quite confused by her rather abstract statement.

"Well, I came out my house this morning and my car wasn't where I left it when I got home last night. I figured my mom had just moved it, so I went back inside and asked her where she'd parked it. She insisted that she hadn't used the car, and immediately freaked out because we thought it had been stolen. God. If that car HAD been stolen, she would've had my head, and I mean literally! With everything we've done to that poor..."

"Maria..." Michael interrupted, but very softly this time. "Baby, could you um.... get.... to the point. I mean, we all would love to hear the rest... but it's just not a good time and..."

"Calm down Michael, it's ok," did he just call me baby??? Maria sighed. At least he was trying to be nice. "Anyway, when we went back out, the car was right where I left it."

"Weird," Michael rubbed her shoulder absently.

"And the other day," Liz spoke next, "I was closing the cafe and there was only this one couple left. When they left, I cleared their dishes and locked the door. I spent five minutes in the kitchen putting dishes in the sink, and when I cam back out to wipe down the tables, they were back in their booth again. The door wasn't locked and their dishes were still on the table. I'd forgotten about it until today--there's been so much going on lately," she stole a glance at Max. "I just didn't really think about it."

"And the car keys, Max!" Isabel exclaimed. "Remember? I couldn't find the keys when we were on our way home from the fight with the almighty turd-ball."

"Right," Max muttered.

And suddenly, everything came out--putting hands through ketchup bottles, ketchup turning into mustard, regenerating food that had already been eaten, windows and doors that open and close on their own, objects disappearing and then reappearing, and of course, the increasingly odd behaviour of the other citizens of Roswell--parents, friends, teachers--it seemed as though this phenomenon was running rampant through their not-so-quiet New Mexico town.

"Well Maxwell? What's going on?"

"I haven't the slightest clue."

"Nicholas," Tess spoke up.

"You think Nicholas is behind all this?" Isabel questioned sceptically.

"No," she shook her head. "You guys told me that Nicholas warned you someone, 'he,' was coming for you."

"Who do you think he was talking about?" Michael asked.

"Khivar," Max muttered.

"Khi-who?"

"Khivar. He's Nicholas' boss, I guess. At the summit meeting, we were told that Khivar rules our planet now. His taking over was what started the war in the first place."

"You think this Khivar guy is doing all this?" Michael frowned. It didn't seem to likely.

"Maybe."

"How?"

"Mind warp. If Nicholas has as much power as he claimed, then think of what this Khivar guy could do," Max replied thoughtfully.

"Okay," Michael sighed and continued to absently rub Maria's back. "But why?"

"To mess with our minds," Maria reasoned. "To drive us crazy?"

"Well," Michael suddenly smiled. "You do that job pretty well on your own. Why would he bother?"

"Thanks a lot, Michael!" she smiled sarcastically and removed herself from Michael's grasp. "My boyfriend everyone! My spaceboy!"

Everyone laughed.

"And besides," he was suddenly serious again, "Why would he bother to mind warp you?" he looked at Maria. "Or Liz, Kyle and Alex?"

"I don't know," Max sighed.

"What if.... what if he's testing you." Liz whispered.

"What do you mean?"

"If he's coming here, or if he's already here," she inadvertently shuddered, "Maybe he's trying to throw you off."

"Like, make you paranoid, or something," Maria caught on.

"Yea. If he's planning on fighting you or..." she couldn't bring herself to say killing you, "... hurting you, driving you all crazy before hand would certainly be to his advantage."

"That makes sense," Max frowned and sighed. "But that still doesn't explain why you guys are seeing these things too."

Maria, again, seemed to have the answer. "Liz, Alex, Kyle, and I are part of your lives; we're important to you. Nicholas proved that by using Liz to drag Max into a fight," she turned to Michael and took his hand. "And as much as some of you hate to admit it, we make you stronger. We're involved in this fight too, and Khivar knows it."

Michael sighed; Maria was right. He really didn't like it, but she was right. "She's right, Maxwell."

"I know," he muttered. He hated the idea as much as Michael did. He'd put Liz in danger again. Isabel, too, looked rather upset by the idea and glanced apologetically at Alex.

"Hey," Maria was suddenly agitated. "Don't you guys go guilt trippin' on me now! We're here because we choose to be here. You," she poked Michael hard in the ribs. "can't get rid of us. If we want to help, we'll help."

Michael smiled and muttered an inaudible thank you before leaning down to kiss his girlfriend. God. He was turning into Max!

Max just smiled gratefully at Liz, and for just a moment, he took her hand. "So what do we do now?"

"I don't know," Isabel sighed. "What can we do? We don't know who Khivar is, or even if he's in Roswell."

"I guess we'll just have to sit tight then."

Michael shook his head and frowned at Max. It seemed that they were always waiting for the big evil to make its move.

"Fine, Michael. Do you have any better ideas?"

Michael was silent for a moment. "Guess not. I'm just tired of waiting, that's all."

"We all are, Michael," Isabel bit back.

"Ok. I think we need to lay some ground rules, then," Michael reasoned.

"What kind of rules?" Maria leaned against Michael and he gratefully wrapped his arms around her shoulders.

"Well first of all, I don't want you going anywhere alone," he brushed Maria's blonde hair behind her ears.

"Right," Max stared straight at Liz. "I don't think any of us should be going anywhere on our own."

"I agree," Isabel stared at Alex.

"So I guess it's back to playing the waiting game then," Michael sighed.

"Looks like it."

Suddenly the bell rang announcing the end of the school day.

"Maria," Liz walked over to her, "Are you heading to work right away?"

"Yup. I just have to get some stuff from my locker. I'll give you a lift."

"Great."

Maria turned and gave Michael a quick kiss before departing, "Bye Spaceboy."

"Maria? Do you want to catch a movie, or something tonight?"

"Sure," she grinned. He was taking her on a date! An actual date!

"I'll come by the Crashdown after your shift." Oh lord. He really was turning into Max.

Maria turned and headed out the room, dragging Liz in tow. "Bye Max," she smiled softly.

"Bye Liz," he smiled back, before turning to Tess. "I need to talk to you for a minute. Alone."

Liz heard Max talking to Tess from outside the eraser room. Why did he need to talk to her alone? She frowned and looked to Maria for an explanation. She just shrugged. Maybe he was finally going to take that step towards his destiny. The thought made Liz feel sick to her stomach. Her Max and Tess; finally together. She felt a shudder go through her. No. He wasn't her Max anymore; she wanted him to move on. But that didn't mean it wouldn't hurt like hell.

"C'mon Chica," Maria grabbed her arm, "Let's go."

Liz sighed and walked off down the hallway. Soon afterwards, Michael, Isabel, Alex, Tess and Kyle followed one by one, leaving Max and Tess alone in the eraser room.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

"Tess, I have to ask you a question... and I need you to be completely honest with me."

"Umm, okay," Tess answered hesitantly. She was a little confused with Max's request and a little frightened at the tone of his voice. "Ask away."

Max stared at her for a moment before continuing, "Are you planning on leaving Roswell?"

"What?" Tess said, stunned. The question seemed to come completely out of the blue. Did Max want her to leave Roswell, or something? "Well I wasn't planning on it, but if you want me to, I could..." she trailed off.

Panic flashed across his face for a moment. "No, no, that's not what I meant," Max said trying to clear up the misunderstanding. "I was just curious. Do you like it here?"

Maybe it was the tone of his voice, desperate and hopeful, or maybe she just felt like getting it all off her shoulders, but whatever it was, it made Tess want to open up to Max. "Well, I didn't at first," she started, turning and starting to pace, "you guys were shutting me out. Not that I blame you, I was a little forceful." She stopped when she heard Max trying to stifle his laughter. "What?"

"You were more than a little forceful, Tess," Max explained.

"Fine. I was more than a little forceful, but I thought that maybe when you found out who I was, you would open up to me. I'd been told all my life that we were supposed to be a group and work together, then, when I showed up, you already had a group. The six of you were intimidating, and it didn't look like I had a chance at becoming friends with any of you, except Isabel. So I tried to get in through her, but it didn't work. So I tried you." Tess stopped her pacing at that point and went to lean against the wall. "Then you thought I was Nasedo, and that whole big mess. After that, it was the whole destiny thing, and I just never really felt accepted." Tess sighed as she slid down the wall until she was sitting on the ground. Pulling her knees up to her chest and lowering her head, she started to cry.

"Hey, Tess," Max said softly as he knelt down beside her, "are you okay?"

"It's just that with all of you pushing me away and then Nasedo dying, it was just so hard." As she struggled to get the last part of the sentence out, she finally just broke down and sobbing into her arms.

Max, at a loss of what to do, just let her cry for a minute. When it seemed like her tears were slowing he said, "It's going to be okay now. You know that, right?" Max rubbed her back, trying to comfort her.

"I didn't," Tess said as she lifted her head and her sobs turned to sniffles. "I guess I've just never really dealt with all of this stuff." She turned her face to look at Max, "But I know that now. I've got a lot of good stuff going for me here." A small smile appeared on her face.

"That good stuff wouldn't happen to have anything to do with one Kyle Valenti, would it?" Max asked her.

A blush started to creep up her cheeks, "I don't know what you're talking about Max."

Max decided to drop the subject; there was another thing he had to ask her anyway. "Tess, I need a favour..."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Maria grabbed her books and put them in her bag. Taking one last quick look in her locker mirror she slammed it shut, turned and walked... right into Max Evans.

"Oh sorry Max," she apologized, "I didn't see you there."

"Yeah well..." he trailed off. "Actually I was wondering if I could ask you a question."

"Well, I've got to be at work soon, but shoot," Maria answered in her special Maria way.

"Well," Max started, "You know how I know everything... and how Liz still says we can't be together," he paused and waited for her acknowledgement.

Maria's eyes widened at his statement. So that's why Liz wasn't overjoyed this morning. Now everything was starting to click. Liz was still scared that she and Max were going to cause the end of the world. Maria started to think of a way to convince Liz otherwise. Looking back to Max, she found him still staring at her; she nodded her head.

"Well, I kinda don't want to keep it that way, so I need you to keep her out of her room until she's finished work tonight."

As Max finished Maria raised her eyebrows. So Max already had a plan. Well, she might as well help him with it. "You want to surprise her and win her back into the I'm-Dating-A-Czechoslovakian Club," she stated.

"Yeah," Max admitted, "I think," a little confuses by Maria's wording. "So will you help me?"

"Of course Max, I'd do anything for you two crazy kids," she reassured him. "Well, I have to go. Liz is probably waiting for me. See ya later."

Max watched her as she walked down the hallway; tonight was going to be perfect.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Maria walked up to her car to find Liz leaning against the hood. "Sorry about that, one of my teacher's wanted to talk to me," Maria lied. She didn't want Liz knowing that she had talked to Max. "So tell me how the rest of the 'Max' talk went."

"Well after I told him everything, I had to tell him that we couldn't be together." At Maria's 'shocked' look she explained, "We still don't know what could happen. The world could still end in fourteen years."

Maria gave her friend a look, "Liz, the world could end tomorrow."

"You don't know that," Liz countered.

"You don't know it's going to end in fourteen years." Maria was getting frustrated with her friend. She needed to get her to let go a little so Max's job would be easier.

"But Future Max said th-"

"Future Max disappeared," she cut Liz off before she could finish. "Look, chica, that whole future ceased to exist the minute the other Max did. You can't be sure of anything anymore." Seeing Liz turn to look outside she apologized, "Look, Liz, I'm sorry but that's the truth." When she still didn't respond, Maria knew that her explanation had gotten through to Liz, and she was now thinking about the possibility that her and Max could be together.

"Chalk one up for the crazy sidekick," Maria mumbled under her breath.

"What was that, Maria?" Liz asked.

"Oh nothing," Maria told her as they pulled up in front of the Crashdown.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

They were halfway through their shift that night and the café had just settled down after the dinner rush when Liz called to Maria, "Hey, I'm just going to go upstairs for a sec, kay?"

"Yeah sure," Maria said offhandedly as she walked over to a table to take their orders. Realizing what Liz had just said, she stopped and turned around to call out to Liz, "Wait, Liz..." but Liz had already disappeared through the swinging door into the back. "Oh no," Maria said to herself as she went after her friend. "Liz," she tried again as she crashed through the door to the back room. She looked wildly around the break room and started to panic when Liz wasn't there either.

Just when she was about to go tearing up the stairs she heard a voice, "Maria?" She looked towards the top of the stairs and saw Liz looking down at her with a puzzled expression on her face.

"Sorry, it's just that," quick Deluca, you've gotta come up with something, " Uhh, I ran out of pamprin and I have to run to the drug store and it closes soon and I'm sure that what ever you were going to do can wait."

"Sure Maria, it wasn't important anyway."

"Thanks I'll be back soon," she called over her shoulder as she ran out the door.

She walked down the street and sniffed her cypress oil. "Good save there," she told herself. Reaching into her pocket and bulling out a bottle of pills, she realized that it was almost empty. "Might as well buy some now anyway," Maria mumbled to herself as she turned towards the drugstore.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

"Hey Liz I'm back," Maria called out as she came through the back door.

"Great, the place picked up again. Can you get the order from table five; they've been waiting for a while," Liz told her coming into the break room for a minute.

"Sure." Still recovering from that near miss, Maria wandered back into the diner and wandered over to the table she had been heading towards before, "So have you decided what you want," she addressed the middle aged man and the woman who, she assumed, was his girlfriend.

"Yeah, we'll have one Will Smith Burger, one Tommy Lee Jones Bacon Basket, and two Blood of an Alien Smoothies."

"Will that be all?" she asked with a smile on her face.

"Yeah, for now. Thanks," the man replied.

"Okay, I'll be back soon," Maria told the couple as she picked up their menus. She turned and walked behind the counter and put the order in. Turning to face the café again, she noticed that the new girl, Amber, had come in and sat at one of the booths. She saw that Liz was busy with some other customers at the cashier so she decided to go over and take her order. "Hi Amber, what can I get for you?"

Amber looked up, startled to find Maria staring down at her with a cheerful look on her face. "Uhh, Hi... Maria, right?"

"That's what the nametag says." At the girl unsure look she continued, "Yeah, it's Maria."

"Uh right," Amber ducked her head and started intently at the menu. "Ummm, I'll just have a piece of Men-In-Blackberry Pie."

"Do you want some ice cream with that?"

"No, no thanks."

"Okay then, that's one piece of pie coming right up," Maria told her and turned back towards the kitchen. "Hey José, can I get a piece of blackberry pie please!" she yelled and placed the order on the counter.

José plunked the plate on the counter and glared at Maria. "Thank you," she had a sweet smile on her face.

Picking up the plate she walked back over to the table and put it in front of Amber. "You sure you don't want anything else?"

"No I'm fine, thanks." Amber picked up her fork and took a bite of the pie. "Mmmm, this is really good."

"My mom makes them," Maria told her. Turning to go back to work she glanced back at Amber, "Enjoy."

She went behind the counter and started cleaning up; they were going to be closing in an hour or two. While she was wiping down the counter, she could feel someone’s eyes on her and looked up to find Amber starting at her. She quickly turned away when she realized that Maria saw her. The shrill bell rang, interrupting her thought process, “Order’s up, table five.” Grabbing the plates of the counter, she brought them to the table and placed them in front of the customers.

“Here’s your food, and I’ll be right back with your drinks.” She could feel Amber watching her again as she walked over to the milkshake machine.

As she was making the smoothies, she heard the bell ring again, “Order’s up, table five.” Maria looked up towards the kitchen, there, sitting on the counter, was a Will Smith Burger and a Tommy Lee Jones Bacon Basket. Now, she knew she had just given her customers their food. Looking over to table five she was shocked to discover that the two people were sitting there quietly waiting for their food. As her eyes scanned the café they rested on Amber. She, too, had a shocked look on her face and seemed surprised at the food sitting on the counter.

Maria slowly walked over to pick up the food and walked over to the table again. “Here’s your… food,” Maria said haltedly, still confused at the disappearing cuisine.

As she was walking back to the counter again, she heard the man call out to her, “Um, Miss, could we have out drinks?”

“Right, I’ll bring them in a sec.” Turning again her eyes locked with Amber’s, they stared at each other for a second before Amber broke her gaze away. “Uh did you…” Maria trailed off, what if she hadn’t seen it? “Did you need anything?”

“Do you think I could have another bottle of Tabasco sauce?” she asked pointing to the empty bottle on the table.

“Sure.” Grabbing a bottle from under the counter she walked back over and placed it on the table. “Here you go.” As she turned, she realized that all Amber had on the table was a piece of pie. Maria turned back just in time to see Amber putting some Tabasco sauce on said piece of pie. She just stared at her for a moment, until she realized what she was doing. Going back to work, she realized that something was up with Amber.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The man with dark hair and wire rimmed glasses sat at the computer looking intently at the screen. The room was filled with the intense buzzing of the machines that occupied the room from floor to ceiling. Suddenly a warning frame popped up on the computer screen. “Damn It!” the technician yelled out as he tried to fix the problem. Sighing, he wheeled his chair in front of another screen, this one with many charts being displayed on it.

“Berkley, what was that?” a man called out from behind a closed door.

“It was another glitch, sir,” Berkley replied as he turned at the sound of the door opening.

“Well did anyone notice anything?”

“Just the girl from before and Subject 09.”

“Well have they caught on yet?”

“No sir,” Berkley replied nervously, “the think it’s Khivar.”

“Good. That’s very good.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

"What time is it?" Maria pushed open the kitchen door and found her friend up to her elbows in dirty dishes. "Aren't you supposed to be off now?" she frowned. Liz seemed to be working late an awful lot lately.

"Yea. It's about ten. I was off at nine," she continued to wipe down dirty plates and cutlery.

"So go! I'll finish these," Maria put on a pair of yellow rubber gloves and dipped her hands into the dirty water.

"It's Ok, Maria. I can do them."

"Nope. You have other things to attend to this evening," Maria smiled knowingly and lifted Liz's hands from the sink. She spoke while peeling the wet rubber gloves off her friend's hands, "I have a surprise for you, Chica. A really big surprise."

"I'm not really in the mood for surprises," Liz sighed. It had been such a long day, and all she wanted to do was crawl into bed and sleep until next weekend. "What's going on?"

Maria just smiled. "Not telling."

"Maria..." Liz warned.

"Trust me," she laughed at her friends angry expression. "It's well worth your wait."

"Fine," she was in no mood to argue. She just hoped that Maria's surprise, whatever it was, wouldn't take long. She really, badly wanted to take a hot bath, and hit the bed.

"Good," Maria was all but jumping up and down she was so exited. "Just go to your room, kay?"

"Okay..." she looked confused.

Before Liz could head for the stairs, Maria caught her in a hug. "This is going to be so much fun!" Her wet rubber gloves pressed against the back of Liz's uniform, and soaked her to the skin very quickly.

"Maria!!!"

"Oh," she pulled away and put her hands back into the sink. "Sorry. Sorry. I just got a little over exited for a second."

Liz could only frown.

As she climbed the stairs, she could feel Maria's eyes on her. This was weird. Even for Maria. Very weird. Just as she got to the top, she turned around and smiled at her friend-Maria had her hand on her heart, her glove again soaking the uniform, and she wore very goofy grin on her face. Definitely weird.

Sighing softly, she pushed open the door to her room and glanced around casually. Everything seemed to be in its place, and nothing was amiss. Laughing quietly to herself, she closed her bedroom door, and fell aghast at the sight before her. A dark, almost wine-red dress was hanging on the back of her door. It was floor-length, form fitting, with shiny red spaghetti straps. "Wow," Liz lifted the dress from it's hanger and let the material fill her hands-it was smooth and satiny, and had an almost un-natural sheen to it. Turning it over in her hands, she glanced at the back of the dress. The material swooped down in gentle V that ended right where the small of her back would be, she assumed. The dress was longer at the back-it had almost a train. A satiny matching shall hung from the hanger, and attached to the shall, Liz noticed a yellow post-it. "Put me on," it read, amongst several smiley faces. Definitely Maria's work, Liz smiled to herself.

Carefully, Liz slipped out of her uniform, and put on her new dress. Spinning in front of her full length mirror, she frowned. This dress was nice-but it showed much more skin than she was used to. It was cut very low in the front, and had almost no back at all. It seemed to highlight every curve of her body from her knees to her shoulders. And, with little make-up on, and her hair in a messy pony-tail, she didn't seem to fit the dress. Well, maybe if I do my hair... she thought to herself.

Twenty minutes later, she had put her hair up leaving a few curls to fall around her shoulders, and she'd put on a little fresh makeup. She'd also put on the silver necklace with the three diamond pendant that had once belonged to her grandma Claudia, and sprayed on a little of her favourite vanilla perfume. She then wrapped the shall around her shoulders, and spun around gracefully in front of the mirror. She still felt a little naked, but suited the dress much more with the change of hair and make up.

"Okay Maria," she called down the stairs. "I've put on the dress. Now what. What's going on?"

No answer.

"Maria?" Liz frowned. Had Maria gone home? No. That wasn't right. Something strange was going on. Suddenly, she felt a cold wind seem to wrap around her, and she spun around to face the window. Somehow, it had opened. "Maria?" she walked towards it. "Are you out there?" her balcony was dark, and for some strange reason, all the street lights were out. Gingerly, so as not to damage her new gown, she climbed out her window.

"Hello?" she glanced around her balcony. No one.

Just as she was about to close the window, she noticed that the table that she usually left between her lawn chairs had been moved to the opposite corner of her balcony. A single white candle burned in the center of the table, and produced the only light in the area-for some reason, all the streetlights were out and she couldn't see a thing beyond the circle of light created by the candle.

Intrigued, she climbed through her window and walked carefully to inspect the table. Next to the candle, she found a single long-stemmed white rose, lying on a plain white envelope. Her name was written neatly in cursive on the front of the thick paper.

Glancing around her again, and finding no sign of anyone, she picked up the rose, and sat down in the chair next to the tiny square table. The rose was perfect-it had a sweet, somewhat musky scent, and the stem was decorated with a long red ribbon, which was tied in a bow loosely around its middle. For a moment, she fiddled with the ribbon and smiled softly to herself. She didn't know what Maria was up to, but something told her that this "surprise" wasn't entirely her idea. Or maybe, it had nothing to do with her at all; she was just the messenger.

Putting all her thoughts aside, she placed the rose back on the table and opened the envelope.

'Dear Liz,' she read silently. 'I'm probably the last person you'd expect a letter from, but someone told me you needed this, so here goes. I know about your future, yours and Max's. And I know what doomed that future, and why we failed to save the world. God, that sentence sounds so surreal: saving the world. No one should be put in that position or given that responsibility. But Max was; we were. But, working as a team, fighting together, doesn't mean marriage; it means friendship.

'When I first arrived in Roswell, I wanted Max--plain and simple. Up until that point, my life had been lonely and unfulfilling--the only comfort I found was in the fact that I was part of something special and that someday, I'd return to a place where I felt loved. And that's why I went after Max. Not because I loved him, or because he was supposed to love me, but because I so desperately wanted to be part of that thing again, and that was the only way I knew of to do it. And of course, Nasedo drilled it into me that it was my destiny to marry Max, that it was my duty.

'However, my life has changed dramatically in the past six months, and I do not foresee the future as I once did. You see, I don't need to marry Max to belong. I don't need him to love me. I realized instead, that I have his friendship, and I'm earning his trust, and that's enough. I after the beautiful and sad story Max told me, I know that my role in the future of the world is an important one. And I know that I am part of the group, and I can cannot be replaced. Not only that, but I've found Kyle, and I have friendship-people who care about me. That's all I need to belong. I am still part of the royal four so to speak, only this time, it's by my own terms.

'Finally, I would like to put your fears at ease by telling you that, knowing my important role in the future, I will not leave Roswell. You and Max have something very special; I don't understand it, and I don't pretend to. All I know is that I see how strong you make him, and how proud he is of you. You two deserve the all happiness you find in each other, and I could never deny you that after all you did us. After all, it's not just the four of us anymore--it's eight. And we all have will have to fight these future battles together. You are strong and brave, I will be proud to fight along side you in the future.

'You have my utmost respect and admiration,
Tess.'

Liz folded the letter and put it back in its envelope, completely stunned. Before she had even a second to contemplate what Tess had just told her, or the fact that she could finally indulge her dream of a perfect life with Max, a soft sound coming from her window interrupted her.

"Hello?" Nothing. And then suddenly, the sound grew, and she recognised a familiar tune:

'Sittin' on the beach
the island king of love
deep in fijian seas
deep in some blissful dream
where the goddess finally sleeps
in the lap of her lover
subdued in all her rage
and I am aglow with the taste of the demons driven out
and happily replaced with the presence of real love
the only one who saves

I wanna dance with you
I see a world where people live and die with grace
the karmic ocean dried up and leave to trace
I wanna dance with you
I see a sky full of the stars that change our minds
and lead us back to a world we would not face

Smiling, she stood from her chair and took a single step toward her window. Before she could go any further than that, the balcony was suddenly illuminated-every inch of free space had been covered with the same white candles as the one still burning on her little table. Liz spun around, gasping at the sudden beauty of her simple balcony. When she turned back to face the window, her shining eyes met a part of dark smouldering ones.

"Max?" she whispered.

The stillness in your eyes
convinces me that I
I don't know a thing
and I've been around the world and I've tasted all the wines
a half a billion times came sickened to your shores
you show me what this life is for

I wanna dance with you
I see a world where people live and die with grace
the karmic ocean dried up and leave to trace
I wanna dance with you
I see a sky full of the stars that change our minds
and lead us back to a world we would not face

He was dressed in a dark suit and he was carrying an enormous bouquet of the same white roses that she'd also seen on her little table earlier.

"Hi Liz," he took a step towards her.

"H..hi," she stuttered back. In his suit, and by candle light, Max looked more incredible that usual, and she knew that she would be unable to resist him.

in this altered state
full of so much pain and rage
you know we got to find a way to let it go

Without another word, he took a final step towards her and pulled her into his arms, the roses crushing against her back. Liz pushed her head into its familiar place in the crook of his neck and sighed into him. Slowly, they danced, swaying to the beat of the song that was both fitting and so familiar. And for a moment, Liz tightened her arms around him as if he would slip through her fingers if she held him too loosely. This was it; finally... she could live again, breathe again. Finally, she had her Max back.

But, for a moment, she remembered why she'd given this up in the first place, and tried her best to voice the protests that she knew where fruitless.

She pulled away slightly to look at him. "Ma-ax," she sighed his name like a prayer. "We.... uh... can't do this...."

"Uh hmmm," he mumbled as he leaned into her. He knew he had won her over. Slowly, he began to lay feather-light kisses along her neck, travelling down and across her collarbone. He had dropped the roses in a pile behind her and his fingers were running gently up and down her bare back.

"This is..." she tried again, "this is wrong.... it's uhhhh wrong Max...." she threw her head back, and closed her eyes, no longer able to form any kind of coherent thought.

"Okay...." his fingers were making trails of fire around her back and shoulders. He began to kiss his way down her arm, suckling at her elbow as he went. He made his way to her hand, sucking gently on each finger, savouring the taste of her, the taste he'd missed so much.

"And... bad..." she ran her hands through his tousled hair, "bad... things...could... happen if...."

"Sure," he continued to ignore her futile protests, and pressed his lips into her stomach. Slowly, he moved to stand up again, and looked directly into her chocolate eyes. "I love you," he whispered softly before leaning in to finally kiss her. The kiss was strong and passionate, both making up for lost time, and preparing for their promised future. And she kissed him back, all thoughts of protest washed away. They could face the future together; it was possible. Their kisses were like a drug... you could only stay a way for so long, and when you came back, the feeling was more intense then you'd ever thought possible.

Quickly, their kisses grew more heated, and Max's hands found their way inside the back of Liz's dress, caressing the naked skin underneath. Oh how he'd missed the feeling of her skin.

"Max," she muttered into his mouth. This was what she wanted. This was what she needed. Him. Only him.


Part 13

There is no Part 13.... we're supersititous.


Part 14

Maria finished wiping down the counter and walked back into the kitchen. Just as she was putting the yellow rubber gloves back in the drawer, she felt a pair of strong arms wrap around her waist.

“Hey Cheeshead,” Michael mumbled in her ear.

Turning in his arms, she replied, “Hey yourself, Spaceboy.”

Michael brought his lips to Maria’s in a gentle kiss. Maria brought her arms up around Michael’s neck and tried to deepen the kiss, but before she was successful, Michael pulled away.

“So, what movie do you want to see?” Michael asked running a hand through his hair; it was the only way he could think of to keep them occupied at the moment, rather then grabbing Maria.

“Right, movie,” said Maria, “I don’t know… how about Final Destination?”

Michael gave her an incredulous look,” I’m not going to see that. It’s got some weird, freaky-looking people in it.”

“I don’t know, there’s that one guy who looks kinda cute,” Maria trailed off. Seeing the look that Michael was giving her she exclaimed, “What?! He reminds me of you!”

Michael just shook his head; he wondered what got into her some days. His gaze settled on her again and he couldn’t resist capturing her lips in a sweet kiss. Taking a step towards her, he lowered his head to hers. He had tried to keep it short, but Maria had other plans. Her arms came up to wrap around his neck and her tongue demanded entrance to his mouth. Finally relenting, he wrapped his arms tighter around her waist and pulled her closer to him. Running his fingers through her hair, he tore his lips from hers and started to trail kisses down her neck.

Michael was so absorbed in his task that he barely heard Maria, “Maybe we should just rent a movie and stay in tonight.”

Pulling back from her, he heard Maria give a little moan of disappointment. “I thought you really wanted to go out to a movie tonight.”

“I did, I mean, I do.” Maria’s thought were a mess after the assault she had just been under.

“Right, so lets go,” Michael told her as he grabbed her hand and pulled her towards the back door.

“But, uh, what movie are we going to see?” Maria asked, trying to keep her mind off the kiss they had just shared; which, she might add, Michael seemed completely unaffected by.

“We’ll just decide when we get there,” he told her as he held out his hand, asking for the keys to the car.

Maria, in no state to argue, handed them over quickly. Michael took them and rounded the car. He paused for a minute, taking a deep breath as he tried to get his nerves under control before he got in; he was not quite as unaffected as he seemed to be. ‘God,’ he thought to himself, ‘this is going to be a long night.’ Finally turning around, he climbed into the driver’s seat. Risking another glance at Maria, he silently cursed himself. She was sitting with her head thrown back and her eyes closed. She looked like a goddess, and she was all his. ‘A really long night,’ Michael amended his earlier thoughts.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


Michael risked a glance at his beautiful, if somewhat wacky, accomplice. She was looking out the window at the theatre, lost in her own little world, as per usual. He turned into one of the stalls and stopped the car. He opened the car door and stepped into the pool of light coming from the lamp above. Slamming the door, he turned and started to walk towards the complex. “So what movie do you want…” he trailed off as he realized that Maria was not beside him.

Turning, he found her still sitting in the car, her gaze unfocused. Mumbling to himself he turned and made his way back to the car.

Maria mind was still on the same topic that it had been on for the last 10 minutes… Michael. Michael and his strong arms. Michael and his strong arms and dark eyes. Michael and his strong arms and dark eyes and his, ‘Just stop, stop it right there Deluca. Get a grip,’ she interrupted herself. ‘Oh, I’ll get a grip alright, get a grip on,’ turning her head, “Michael!”

While she had been off in her land of, well, Michael, the object of said musings had come over, opened her door for her and was now waiting rather impatiently.

“Are we going to see a movie or not?” he raised his eyes.

Maria took a quick glance around and realized she was still sitting in her car in a parking lot. ‘Jeez, focus, you’re turning into Liz.’ Out loud she said, “Yeah, movie. What’s playing?”

“Dunno,” was Michael’s short reply.

“Well we better go find out then,” she told him, stepping out of the car and closing the door behind her.

Michael turned and started to walk away, but Maria quickly caught up with him and wrapped and arm around his waist. Michael brought and arm around her shoulders and they both walked off with small grins on each of their faces.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

“So, how about ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’?” Maria asked, looking up at Michael.

“No, there is NO WAY you are getting me to see a chick-flick tonight,” he adamantly refused.

“But it’s not a chick-flick, it’s a comedy!” she exclaimed.

“No. End of discussion.”

Maria sighed and went back to looking at the titles of the movies playing.

“We could go see ‘The Mummy Returns’, it’s supposed to be good,” Michael recommended.

“Oh, no, I am not seeing the sequel,” Maria rebuffed his suggestion.

“But it got rea-“

“I said no,” Maria interrupted before Michael could get any further, “I had nightmares for days after I saw the first one. No, no, no, no, no!”

“Fine, it was just a thought,” Michael mumbled under his breath. The couple stood there for a few minutes looking at the list of other movies. “What about Traffic?”

“No,” was Maria’s short reply.

“Why not, it’s a good movie. Besides, I thought you wanted to see it,” he said, perplexed.

“Yeah, exactly, I want to see it.”

“So why don’t we see it tonight.”

“Because I want to actually SEE the movie Michael.” Seeing the confused look on his face, she wondered how he could be so dense sometimes. She turned so she stood right in front of him and raised herself on to her tiptoes, “I want to SEE the movie Michael, and in order to do that, I have to pay attention. And I don’t plan on paying much attention while the movie is playing, if you catch my drift,” she whispered in his ear. She pulled away just far enough to look into his eyes. The confusion from before had been replaced with a look of want. His eyes just drew her in. The pair got so caught up staring into each other’s eyes that they barely noticed when a passer-by accidentally bumped into them.

“So,” Michael glanced over Maria’s shoulder, “’Dude, Where’s My Car?’ is playing?” he raised his eyes in question.

“Let’s go,” she quickly grabbed his hand and dragging him towards the ticket window.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Author's note: this section is NC-17!!! For those of you who do not want to read this, you can skip this section, and we guarantee that you won't miss anything.

All thoughts of restraint seemed to lift from her body in waves as she kissed him. She forgot about the future; she forgot about the past. There was only this; only him. This was what she wanted, and now, she could finally have it.

Finally, Max had won her over; finally she was in his arms and he could breathe again. He kissed her like she was his salvation, his tongue tracing her bottom lip gently, demanding entrance to her mouth. She complied earnestly, opening her mouth to him, and letting his tongue sweep inside. His hands hand found their way inside the back of her dress, and cupped her bottom, gently pulling her against him. His motion caused a tiny groan to escape her lips. The feeling of his hard chest pressing against her from within his shirt created a fire in her belly like nothing ever had before. They had been apart for too long. Far too long.

And with that thought, they both realized that this contact wasn't enough. Without breaking their kiss, Liz pushed Max's jacket from his shoulders and down his arms. Silently it fell to the floor next to the roses. Smiling into his lips, she struggled to undo his tie. After a moment, of laughing at her fumbling fingers, Max finally ended the kiss and took a step away from her. Slowly, he lifted her hand from his chest to his mouth, and immediately, she moaned in protest. Her moans were silenced, however, when he took her thumb into his mouth. He wrapped his tongue around her, tasting her sweet skin.

"Max," she let out a sigh, closed her eyes and smiled in bliss, enjoying the warmth inside his mouth. Quickly, she brought her other hand to the side of his face, caressing his smooth skin lightly.

One at a time, Max slid each of Liz's delicate fingers into his mouth, tasting each one, and pressing a kiss to her fingertip before moving on to the next. And through the light caresses of his tongue, Liz had her head thrown back, staring into the quiet night sky. It was a clear night, the stars bright and ever scattered. It was so clear, in fact, that had she really been paying attention, Liz could've seen the special V of stars that was once the home of her love.

After he had finished with her right hand, Max pulled her close, and rubbed his chest against hers as he passed by her in order to grasp her left hand. But Liz would have none of it. As soon as he had pressed his hard body into her, Liz crushed his lips to hers in an almost bruising kiss. And again, she began to fumble with his tie, this time succeeding only enough to loosen it. For a split second, the kiss was broken as she pulled the bothersome garment over his head, and tossed it on top of the coat, and the roses, that had been causally thrown to the balcony floor.

They returned to kissing, a little slower now, as Liz ran her hands across the front of Max's shirt, pressing in slightly where she pleased. Her hands wandered down to his waist, and she began pulling on the fabric very gently, coaxing a little more of it from his pants with each tug, while distracting him with her urgent kisses. Before long his shirt hung down freely, and Liz seized the opportunity to slide her hands underneath it, feeling the smooth skin that was denied to her before, and the firm muscles beneath. Max let out a sigh as her fingers made contact, and he responded by placing his hands behind her neck, letting his fingers glide across the soft curves of her chin as he kissed her even more passionately in response to her soft touch.

And again, this contact was not enough. She needed to feel the heat of his skin on her own, the feel of his lips all over her body. Slowly, she reached her hands between them, separating their bodies slightly, and began to undo the buttons of his shirt with shaky fingers. One by one, the buttons popped open, until finally, she reached the last one at the bottom of his shirt. Breaking their kiss, Liz ran her hands over chest, and up to his shoulders, causing his shirt to slide slowly down his arms. Shaking his hands slightly, the shirt fell off his body, and among the other fallen items.

As soon as his shirt had been discarded, Liz began to lay kisses along the waist of his pants, slowly moving up his chest, leaving a trail of fire as she went. Her nails mimicked the action of her lips, leaving visible tracts up and down his lower back. She was creating a flame inside Max, one that couldn't be controlled, or denied. And with that thought, Max pulled her up to his level and again crushed his lips to hers. He couldn't believe this was happening. His mind dimly registered that they might be moving a little fast, but his desire for her overpowered any and all thoughts of reservation. She was his destiny, and they all the time in the world to move slowly later. And she felt exactly the same way. She wanted to live the night of Gomez that had been denied from her so many weeks ago. And nothing could convince her to slow down, or stop now.

Max wrapped his arms around her waist, deepening their kiss as he pulled her ever closer. He lowered his hands to the bottom of her dress, and dragged the zipper down slowly. Pulling away slightly, he looked at her for permission, even though he already knew her answer. She nodded slightly, her breathing ragged, and her eyes clouded with desire for him. Max's hands shook, as he ran his hands across her shoulders taking the silk straps with him. Leaning in slowly, he pressed his lips to her neck, and slid his tongue out, making tiny circles around the delicate skin. Afterwards, he moved down towards her left shoulder, shoulder kissing the line of her collarbone until he reached its end. Without removing his lips from her skin, he pushed the spaghetti straps all the way down her arms, across her hands, and over her fingers, until they slipped off completely. And of course, the dress immediately followed, pooling in a silk puddle around her ankles.

Carefully, she stepped out of puddle of silk, and was left standing in nothing but her black bikini underwear. Max began to kiss his way from her shoulder to down in between her breasts. His hands came up from her sides, and circled around them slowly, teasing her as much as he could. And he could tell by her laboured breathing and constant random shivers, that his teasing was having the desired affect. Slowly, his hands closed over her nipples, and he rolled them between his thumbs and forefingers slowly. As he continued, he looked up at her, and saw that her eyes were closed and her head was thrown back. Continuing, he leaned in slowly and took one hard nub into his mouth. He circled it slowly with this tongue and rolled it gently between his teeth.

"Oh god, Max," Liz moaned. This was more than she could handle.

Deciding not to dwell on her chest for too long, Max slid his hands down her stomach, slowly falling to his knees before her. He stopped at her belly button, and leaned in and kissed her gently. His tongue snaked out and followed the edge of her tiny belly button before sliding into it and back out quickly. Afterwards, he moved down again, and pressed his face into her underwear, inhaling the sharp and spicy scent that lay hidden beneath them. Liz sighed and threw her head back at the gesture, and reached her hands down, running them through his short, cropped hair.

Pausing only for a moment to bathe in her perfect scent, Max continued his journey down her body. He kissed the inside of her left thigh, and then her right, and then moved further down. He kissed, and sucked, and nipped his way down both of her slender legs, and stopped when he reached her ankles. Slowly, he undid the buckles on her shoes, and lifted her feet out, one by one.

Once finished, he took a step back and stood to face her. His eyes traveled over every curve of her body and he immediately took in a shuddery breath at the sight of her perfect form. She was gorgeous, and she was his.

Almost instantly, Liz felt naked out of Max's arms. She could see, and feel his intense gaze traveling slowly up and down her body. The way he was looking at her made her want him even more, and quickly, she opened her arms to him and he was pressed back up against her once more. Their kisses were slow, but heated, and the feeling of their bare chests rubbing against each other was driving them to the brink of insanity and back.

After indulging in only that feeling for a moment, Liz became more bold and reached between them and began to fumble with the button on Max's pants. This time, he didn't laugh as he kissed her. Finally, she was able to pop the button open, and she carefully slid the zipper down. His pants fell into a pool at his feet, and he stepped out of them quickly, leaving them with amongst the growing pile of clothes.

Before standing up, Liz gently ran her hands across the growing bulge in Max's boxers. Her touch caused Max to groan out loud, and almost to loose his balance.

"Max," she whispered, bringing her lips to his again. "Where..." she started, but was interrupted by his kiss.

He seemed to know what she was asking though, and pulled away for a moment to survey their surroundings. Suddenly, he noticed the two lawn chairs pushed together at the one end the balcony, and smiled to himself.

"Close your eyes, my love," he whispered, and she complied. Concentrating, he waved his hand slowly in front of the chairs, and sighed in relief once he had finished.

"Can I open them now?" Liz asked.

“Okay,” he squeezed her hand.

“Oh god,” she laughed. Max had turned the two lawn chairs into a double bed with plain white sheets, way too many white pillows, and a white blanket. The bed lay amidst the sea of candles, and the white was a perfect contrast to the dark night sky.

Not wasting another moment, she took her love’s hand, and led him to their bed. Just like the night of the Gomez concert, the great King had come prepared, and he paused for a moment to get the protection out of the pocket in his jacket. He put the small package on the table by the bed, and returned to his Liz. Smiling at her gently, he lifted her into his arms, kissed her on the nose, and lay her gently atop of the white sheets. Pausing for a moment, he couldn’t help but stare at her and smile. His dream was finally coming true. He was finally going to get to show Liz Parker how much he truly loved her.

Slowly, he climbed into the bed beside her, and with a single wave of his hand, all the candles on the balcony went out, except the one on the table beside them. He leaned over her, and kissed her gently, his body supported by his hands. Pulling him down to her, Liz deepened this kiss and ran her hands up and down the bare skin on his back. When she reached the elastic waste band, she pushed his boxers as far down as she could reach, and then paused, waiting for him to remove them completely. He did, and then slowly, laying tender kisses down her chest, and belly, he pulled down the last article of clothing that lay between them. After traveling back up her body once more, he kissed her slowly, first her chin, then her lips, her nose, cheeks and forehead, and then lay down on the bed beside her, suddenly still.

For a moment, neither Max nor Liz said anything, or moved. But, a single moment of silence, one moment when they weren’t touching each other, was all that Liz could handle. In one swift motion, she rolled onto Max, and stared him right in the eye.

“Uh Max….”

“Yes,” he sputtered, surprised that she had made such a bold move.

“I know we aren’t… uh… you know… experienced in this department… and I’m not sure about how it works on the planet you come from… but I’m pretty sure that this,” she gestured to the two of them, “doesn’t work if we just lie still on opposite ends of the bed…” She smiled at him in the dark.

“I know Liz,” he tried to smile back. “I just want you to be sure that we’re doing the right thing. I’d hate for you to regret this in the morning.”

“I know I’m doing the right thing Max. I’ve waited my whole life to find someone who loves me like you do, and who I love back just as much; and now that I’ve finally found that someone, I’m sure as hell not going to wait one more second on this!”

“Alright,” he grinned at her, before rolling over and grabbing the protection from the table beside them. Finished, he rolled back over to Liz, and cupped her face in his hands. Smiling at him, she lay on her back, and let him climb onto her. Giving her one last questioning glance, and seeing her nod at him, Max finally began to slide into her. Quickly, however, his progress was halted by her barrier.

“Oh Liz,” he looked at her, pain evident in his gaze. “I don’t want to hurt you.”

“It’s alright Max. I want to experience everything. I want to feel it… don’t worry,” she kissed his forehead gently, and then arched her back, allowing him to slide in further.

In one quick motion, he pushed past her barrier, and filled her completely. Liz took in a sharp breath as mixture of pain and pleasure like she’d never felt before ran through her entire body.

“Oh Liz, I’m so sorry,” Max ran his hand through her hair.

Liz looked up at him through teary eyes. “It’s alright Max. It didn’t hurt that much, and the pain is gone now,” she tried to smile, but it came out a wince. “Or… almost gone.”

“Do you want me to…” he gestured to her pelvis.

“Yes. Please. I’ve experienced the pain. It hurt. End of story.”

Max laughed, and slowly, he squeezed his hand between them, and pressed his fingertips just inside her. And after only a second or two, all of her pain vanished, and was replaced by an intense feeling of being finally whole.

“Are you alright now, love?” Max still looked concerned.

“Yes. Thank you,” she smiled, and leaned in to kiss him. Their kiss turned from a thank you to much more, as her tongue slid into his mouth. As they kissed, Max slid out of her and then back in again at the first time, and both he and Liz took in a sharp breath at the new and wonderful sensation. He moved with her slowly, wanting to savour their first time, wanting it to be loving and slow, not like the release of a year’s worth of sexual tension… which it very well could’ve been, if he wasn’t careful. They moved in perfect rhythm with each other, their bodies slowly melding together as they kissed and explored each other for the first time.

Liz’s couldn’t touch Max enough. Her hands were all over his back, on his neck, in his hair, cupping his jaw; she just couldn’t keep them still. As they sped up, she held her bottom lip between her teeth to keep from crying out from the pure pleasure of it all.

When they finally approached their blinding release, together, like everything else they would do in their future, they had a flash. As shivers, and spasms washed over them, they saw a tiny blue house, on a quiet street. And they saw themselves sometime in the future, looking deliriously happy. And they saw Liz, holding a beautiful baby girl who had Max’s eyes, and Liz skin and beautiful hair. And then, just as suddenly as it came, the image flickered, faded, and then disappeared, leaving the two lovers in a sweaty and tangled embrace.

Breathing heavily, Max wiped a few strands of wet hair from Liz’s eyes, and kissed her damp forehead. Her eyes drifted open and closed very slowly, and Max knew that she was near sleep.

“I love you, Maaerrxxzz,” she sighed barely audibly.

“I love you too. Always,” he kissed her lips gently and carefully moved her head to lay atop his chest. Sighing deeply, he too let sleep begin to over take him.

Sleep came quickly to both, and neither could remember ever being quite so happy. And a little while later, the single candle that had remained bright during their love making, slowly dimmed to an ember and then went out. And the night, was silent, and finally still.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

It was 8:50, and Liz's shift started at nine, but she hadn't yet left the comfort of Max's warm embrace. Maria, who had seen no hide nor hare of her friend since yesterday was becoming more and more alarmed at her absence from work. Usually, Liz was beyond prompt, arriving at 8:00 to make sure the restaurant was clean and ready for customers. Maria was lazy, and usually arrived right at nine, if not later, as to avoid doing any of these extra chores that Liz took on every morning. But today, their roles seemed to have reversed; Maria was ten minutes early for work intending to tell Liz all about her wonderful date with Michael, and Liz… seemed to have disappeared.

"Liz?" Maria climbed the back stairs that led to Liz room, and called her name questioningly. The door to her friend's room was shut, and the whole house basked in an almost eerie silence. "Hey Liz?" she knocked softly. "Chica, you're going to be late for work."

No answer.

Maria pushed the door open slowly, and peered into the empty room. "Liz? Where are you?" The room was clean, as usual, but the bed was made, and it looked as if Liz hadn't come home the night before. Maria, upon noticing this, became instantly worried. It wasn't like her best friend to stay out all night, and if she had, something was probably wrong. Her mind came up with dozens of horrible things that could've happened to her friend, each one worse than the one before…

Before turning to leave the room to call Max, who she knew was most likely to know where Liz was, Maria noticed that Liz's window had been left open. Liz almost never left that window open because of the balcony access to her room. "Hey babe?" Maria walked over to the window, and climbed not so gracefully onto the balcony. "Liz?" she turned around, noticed the hundreds of dead candles surrounding her. At her feet, she found a pile of dying roses, and… clothes? Liz's clothes… and… oh god. Maria whipped around, and found her best friend in the arms of none other than Max Evans. And neither of them were wearing anything more than a white sheet.

"Maria?!" Liz's eyes grew wide, despite her obvious grogginess.

"I just came up to see where you were because your shift starts in five minutes, and you weren't downstairs, and I was worried about you, and I wanted to tell you about my incredible date with Michael, which obviously wasn't as incredible as your date with Max, and I'm sorry for interrupting whatever it is I'm interrupting, and I don't know if I want to know what I'm interrupting, Max, you should be ashamed of yourself, and… and I'm going to leave now. Buh-bye." Maria turned and almost jumped through Liz's window, and without looking back, she ran down the stairs to the Crashdown. 'Way to go, Deluca,' she thought to herself, shaking her head absently. 'Way. To. Go.'

As Maria left, Liz became quite awake, and she shook Max gently. "Love?"

"W… Was that Maria?" Max rubbed his eyes, and slowly sat up in their bed that used to be a few lawn chairs.

"Yea," she sighed.

"So… she uh… knows huh?" Max already knew the answer to his question.

"Oh yea," Liz smiled.

"Which means that by ten, so will Michael, Alex, Isabel, Kyle and Tess, right?" he grinned.

"Oh probably."

"Oh well," he shrugged, not upset by this new development. "They were bound to find out sooner or later anyway."

"mmmhmmm," Liz nodded.

"So…"

"Yea…. So…."

"I love you."

"I love you too."

"Right. Well you better get to work, or Maria will have to take over the entire restaurant. And that is just asking for trouble."

"I suppose you're right," Liz sighed unhappily. She wanted nothing more than to stay in Max's arms for the rest of the day.

"C'mon love. Time to get up."

"I know," she agreed, but made no move to climb out of bed.

Max smiled at her softly. Her long, dark hair was tumbled across his chest, and her head was resting softly on his shoulder. He could feel her hand tracing small circles around his stomach, trying to convince him to stay in bed, and as tempting as it was, it wasn't going to work. Moving very slowly, he brought his arms up from his sides, and grabbed Liz around the waist.

"Hey!" she yelped between giggles. "That tickles!!!"

"I know!" Max continued to tickle her, delighted with the sounds of sweet laughter that it produced.

"Stop it please!!!" she had difficulty speaking. "Fine!" she jumped out of bed a little too quickly. "You win!"

"Uhh…. Liz…" Max covered his mouth and gestured to her body. In jumping up so quickly, she had lost her sheet, and was now standing in the middle of her balcony stark naked.

"Wah!" she grabbed her dress and held it to her naked body. "Opps," she could feel a blush creeping into her cheeks.

After pausing for a moment, and getting over her embarrassment, she glanced over to Max, and put on her best seductive grin. "I'm umm… going to take a shower. Care to join me?" she smiled almost a little too sweetly.

Max jumped out of bed in less than a second, grabbed his love, and carried her through her bedroom window. "What do you think?!" he laughed, as they headed towards the bathroom.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

“Okay, table three has four place settings.” Maria muttered, “That means I need four of everything. Four knives, four spoons, four forks, four glasses, four napkins, foreplay, no wait, four plates, yes, four PLATES, get your mind out of the gutter. You don’t know what really happened,” she stressed. Maria took a deep breath and tried to calm herself, “Liz you better get you ass down here soon.” She walked over to table three and just as she finished setting the table she heard Liz’s voice as she entered the café.

“I cannot believe you just said that,” Liz’s statement floated across the room as she turned to lightly hit Max, who had a big grin on his face.

“Yeah well, all’s fair in love and war,” he replied grabbing her around the waist and pulling her to him for a kiss. The kiss was short and looked innocent enough, but god knows what they had been doing up in Liz’s apartment for the last hour. When Max pulled away and released Liz, they just stood there, gazing into each other’s eyes.

“Great,” Maria said to no one in particular, “I have to go break up Romeo and Juliet, again!” Walking over to stand beside the oblivious couple, she waited for a minute before tapping Max on the shoulder. “Sorry Moondoggy, I have to borrow Gidget here. You understand,” she said while walking behind the counter. Liz and Max shared one last look before Max went to occupy his usual booth.

Liz turned to find Maria looking at her with an expectant expression on her face. “Umm, hey Maria,” Liz ducked her head and went over to pick up her order pad.

“Hey Maria?!? That’s all you have to say to me this morning, just hey?”

Liz’s cheeks turned slightly red as she tried to busy herself with getting ready for the day. She walked back behind the counter and started doing menial tasks, that she didn’t really need to do, but she hoped it would get Maria to stop following her. After she finished wiping a nonexistent stain off the counter she turned to find Maria still staring at her. “What!”

“Okay, you’ve got to be kidding, right?!?” Maria said in an incredulous tone, “I walked in to the restaurant this morning expecting to find you putting about, doing whatever it is you do that early in the morning. Instead, I find the place empty with about ten minutes until opening.”

“Maria, I’m really sorry about th-“

“I’m not finished yet. Now, where was I? Oh yes, so I go upstairs hoping to find you all ready to go, but not really expecting that, considering you weren’t downstairs already. But what I was not expecting was for your room to be empty. Now, being the good best friend that I am, I start to panic. Who knows, you could have been kidnapped, or run away, or fallen and hit your head and gotten amnesia,” Maria, seeing her friends amused look, explained, “I don’t think well when I’m panicking. But that’s completely beside the point. I was going to call Max and ask him where you were, but I decided to check the balcony first; which was probably a good idea, since if I called Max, he wouldn’t have been there either and that would just lead to me thinking that you were all abducted, or something.”

Liz couldn’t contain her amusement at Maria’s outburst any longer and let out a giggle.

Maria shot her a glare, “Yeah, well, aren’t you in a good mood this morning. Which brings me back to my original point.” Maria waited a few moments to see if Liz would volunteer any information on her own. When it became apparent that was not going to happen, she continued, “Liz, what happened on that balcony last night?”

Liz was no longer laughing as her face turned crimson and she turned, quickly walking towards the back room. She passed through the swinging doors and quickly went to her locker. Just as she unlocked it, Maria came storming in.

“Oh no! Elizabeth Parker, you are going to tell me what is going on!”

“Look, Maria… I can’t,” Liz said apologetically. She turned around to find that Maria’s demeanor had gone from demanding to begging in no time. She had on her ‘But-I’m-you-best-friend-and-you-have-to-tell-me’ face--a face which Liz had never been able to resist.

“Liiiiiizzz,” Maria wined, “Plleeeeaaaassseee!!”

Liz closed her locker and went over and sat down on the couch. Maria quickly followed and sat down beside her. “Oh god, I’m going to regret this,” Liz mumbled under her breath before turning to face Maria.

Seeing this as Liz’s sign of surrender, she quickly started firing off questions, “So, was it good? Was it romantic? Did it hurt? Did anything weird happen? Did you-”

“Maria,” Liz finally cut her off when it became apartment that she wasn’t being able to get a word in edge wise, “I can’t tell you that much.”

“But come on, it’s Me! You have to be able to tell me something,” Maria said, exasperated. Surely her bestest friend since forever wouldn’t leave her in the dark.

“It was…” Liz paused, trying to find the words to describe last night. She remembered how Max had set up the balcony and how his hands had felt; she was getting dizzy and felt shivers going through her body at the thought of it.


“It was what?” Maria asked as she saw that she was slowly loosing Liz. “Well, I guess it was good if you get like that just thinking about it, hmm.”

Maria’s words shocked Liz back to reality. “It was perfect,” she said so softly Maria almost didn’t hear her.

“So I guess it can be assumed that he’s, umm, well endowed?”

“Maria!” Liz exclaimed after hearing her friends comment, “I am so not having this conversation with you!”

“What? What did I say?” Maria inquired. She certainly didn’t see anything wrong with the question.

Just before she reached the door Liz turned around, “If you really want to know, ask Max.” She walked through the swinging door back into the café.

‘Hmm, well that has possibilities,’ Maria thought to herself as she followed Liz through the door.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

“Sir, Sir,” the technician was waving her hand at her superior, trying to get his attention.

“What is it Cassidy?” a short balding man with a mustache asked as he approached the desk.

“The program is up and running. You said you wanted to be told as soon as it was operational.”

“Yes, yes. I’ll go tell Silverthorn now.” The older man turned and started towards the large door on the other side of the room.

“Sir?” she called out.

“Yes?” he turned around, wondering what else there could be. Dr. Silverthorn needed to know this information as soon as possible.

“Dr. Silverthorn also wanted to know if the subjects were in phase 4b,” Karen Cassidy was getting a little nervous now. She wasn’t quite sure how to phrase this, or how her supervisor would react to the news.

“And?” she was prompted by the older man.

“Those we have been watching have progressed to 4b.” She waited for her supervisor to react to the news.

He finally seemed to absorb the information and he just nodded, “Good job. Be sure to keep monitoring them.” And without another word, he walked out of the room.

Karen Cassidy settled back in her chair. When she had signed on to the project, she had not expected anything like what they were working on now. Sighing, she took a bug gulp of her coffee and turned back to the screen. She nearly spit it out when she felt the lukewarm coffee start to slide down her throat. Turning around in her chair, she stood up and walked over to the sink to rinse out the cup and get some more coffee, missing the warning window that popped up and promptly disappeared seconds later.

TBC…