posted on 9-Sep-2001 6:51:32 PM
Title: The Conversation
Author: Sylvia P.
E-mail: Magoulas⊕
Category: Max/Liz
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: I don’t own them, but I’d like to borrow them for a while just to fix things.
Synopsis: Set after “Departure”. Started out as a discussion between Max and Liz about what happened to them, but evolved into a series of discussions between various members of the group. Mostly Max and Liz.

The Conversation Part 1

“Where is she, Maria?” Max walked into the Crashdown, a determined look on his handsome face. Not seeing Liz, he immediately homed in on her best friend.

“Honestly, Max, I don’t know,” Maria said, shaking her head. She was sitting at the counter drinking a soda while she waited for Michael to get done with his shift.

Max ran his finger lightly over the edge of the counter as he asked hesitantly, “Is she avoiding me? I haven’t talked to her since yesterday and she isn’t returning my calls.”

Maria sighed and turned fully around to look at him. “Look, Max. She just found out, literally hours ago, that you slept with and impregnated the girl who killed one of her best friends. I think she has a right to be a little freaked out right now. We all do. If she needs some alone time to get it all worked out, then give it to her.”

Max ran his hand nervously through his hair. “ I need to talk to her. Explain…”

Maria tilted her head to the side, and looked directly into his dark eyes. “I don’t think what you need is important right now.” She didn’t want to hurt his feelings, but she felt like he needed a dose of reality.

Max looked down at his feet for a moment before saying, “Maria, I know you’re all angry with me, and you have a right to be. I screwed up big time.” He looked up again. “But if it’s taught me anything, it’s that I need Liz. I’m no good without her. She keeps my head on straight.” Leaning forward, he looked appealing into her sympathetic gaze. “Please, Maria. I lost her once because we didn’t have enough faith in each other. Please don’t let it happen again.”

She sighed again in resignation. “Max, Max, I understand, really I do, but I told you. I don’t know…oh, boy,” Maria looked behind him as the front door opened.

Max jerked around and saw Liz coming through the glass doors. He walked up and shoving his hands in his pockets said, “Liz, please. Can I talk to you?”

Liz had been hoping for a little more time before having to face Max again after the events from the day before, but she should have known that he would come looking for her when she didn’t answer her phone. “Umm sure, Max. Come up to my room.” She looked at Maria in panic as she passed by, and Maria just grimaced in sympathy.

They entered her room, and Liz walked to the bed and sat down. “What did you want to talk about?”

Now that he was facing her, Max didn’t know where to start. “Umm, I haven’t seen you since yesterday. I wanted to see if you were alright,” he said awkwardly.

“Oh, well I guess I’m in shock, you know? Everything happened so fast. I don’t think I’ve had time to process it all.” Liz looked down at her hands, her dark hair hiding her expression.

Max plunged in with both feet. “Were you avoiding me?”

Liz kept her gaze in her lap. “Avoiding you?”

“You didn’t return any of my phone calls. I tried all last night and this morning.”

“Oh, umm…”

Max walked over and grabbed the desk chair. He faced it toward her and sat down leaning forward. “Liz, we need to talk about what’s happened. I need to know what you’re feeling.”

She glanced up at his handsome face and said bluntly, “I don’t think I’m ready to have this conversation yet, Max.”

Max looked down at his own lap and said quietly, “Please Liz, don’t shut me out. I know you must be angry…”

“I’m not angry, Max,” Liz shook her head as she cut him off.

He looked at her in disbelief. “You don’t have to say that. I know I deserve it. I messed up so badly that I don’t know if it can ever be fixed, but I need to know if you’ll be able to forgive me.”

“Max…” she began hesitantly, not really sure how to continue.

“Please Liz. Please tell me what’s going on.” Max knew he had to get her to open up to him. Maybe she needed more time to adjust, but he felt like they had wasted so much time already, the last months looming over their lives like a thundercloud.

Liz sighed, got up from the bed and went to face the window. Never one to avoid a confrontation, she nevertheless, wasn’t looking forward to this discussion. She turned back to see him staring at her expectantly. “OK. You’re right. I wasn’t answering your calls, but it wasn’t because I’m angry. Well, I am angry, but not at you. I’m angry with Tess. I just needed to think. About everything.” She sighed before continuing, “ I was so busy, you know, trying to prove what happened to Alex, that I haven’t had time to think about anything else, and now that all of these other things have happened, I…just needed time.”

Max’s sexy mouth quirked up in the corner as he looked at her inquiringly. “I understand. So, what did you think about?”

Liz faced away from him again as she answered honestly. “I thought about Alex, and how much I’m going to miss him. I thought about how strange it’s going to be next year without him, especially at graduation.” She turned back to Max with a slight smile as she said, “We always had this big thing planned. Me and him and Maria. We were going to drive to Santa Fe and…” the smile faded as her solemn dark eyes looked into his own. “Well anyway, it’s going to be different now.” She stopped for a moment, and then continued. “I thought about Kyle, and how he must be feeling right now.” Liz’s expression grew angry. “She used him. I mean, she used all of us, but, God, she used Kyle to help her get rid of the body.” As she continued to express her outrage, her voice rose, “ That’s just so…. I can’t even think of a word. If you had seen his face when he realized…” Liz shook her head in disbelief and pity, her eyes shining with tears. Poor Kyle. She needed to go see him. He must feel so alone right now. At least she had Maria, but he couldn’t talk about this with anyone.

“Liz, I’m so sorry.” Max’s guilty expression and remorseful voice caused her heart to ache, but she just turned back to the window as she answered quietly, “Yeah, me too.”

He swallowed painfully, and asked hesitantly, “Did you think about us?”

“Actually, I spent most of the time thinking about us, and I realized something.” Liz turned back to face him once again, the expression on her face one that Max had seen many times before when she was expressing her views on a subject that she had spent time analyzing.
“In all the time that we’ve had this thing between us…. Since you healed me, we haven’t really been happy.” Max’s brow furrowed at this, but she continued as if she didn’t notice. “I mean, at first, you didn’t want us to be together because it was too dangerous.” She raised a finger and ticked it off with the other one as she counted. “Then, when we finally did get together, after we first kissed, it lasted what… a day?” She looked at him inquiringly, and ticked the next finger. “Then Michael got sick, and you decided you needed to take a step back.” Max’s expression grew guiltier as she went on. “We wasted months after that, until finally, the Orb brought us together again.” Liz smiled slightly as she thought about how the Orb had awakened the passion they had kept hidden for so long. But then it faded as she finished. “Then Tess showed up; it all went to hell from there.”

Max didn’t even know how to respond to this. As he watched, Liz closed her eyes resignedly and then turned back to the window where dusk was approaching. Raising it, she stepped outside on the balcony. “Liz…” Max got up and followed her.

She continued on as if she hadn’t heard him, lighting candles as she spoke. “Don’t get me wrong, Max. I’m not blaming you for all that. I mean, I’m the one that walked away after you got the message from your mother, and I was the one who used Kyle to push you toward Tess.” Liz looked at him sadly. “That’s another long story that we need to talk about, but not right now.” She took a deep breath and went on, “Let’s just say that I thought I was making the right decision at the time, but now I see how horrible it was for you. I mean, I knew that it hurt you, but I didn’t know how much until you told me that you and Tess spent the night together. It’s like having your heart ripped out of your chest, isn’t it,” Liz’s voice cracked as the tears that she had been suppressing sprang to the surface.

Max wanted to run and hide from the desolation on her face. That he had put that expression there was almost more than he could bear. His own voice thick with emotion, he pleaded, “Liz, please let me explain…”

“There’s nothing to explain, Max,” Liz wiped the moisture from her eyes as she cut him off again. “I understand why you turned to her. You thought that I had been with Kyle. She was helping you remember the past, and you remembered your feelings for her, although now I would question anything that she did. I mean, how do you know that what you remembered was real,” Liz looked up at him questioningly for a moment, and then made a dismissive gesture. “Anyway, we were all divided over what happened to Alex, and she was there for you.” She turned away, and Max almost didn’t hear her finish, “and now she’s having your baby.”

Liz turned to him once more, but Max could barely look her in the eye. “You know, Max, I used think about us together that way. I would think about what our first time would be like,” she smiled through her tears. “How it might be a little awkward, and clumsy because we were both inexperienced, but so wonderful because it was the two of us and perfect just because of that.” As Max finally managed to raise his eyes to look at her, he wished he hadn’t. The sadness in her expression made his chest ache. “ Now, it would just be me who’s awkward and clumsy,” she whispered.

Max felt sick as he watched her walk away. He had known this was going to be a difficult conversation, but until he heard the painful words coming out of her mouth, the reality of his actions had not hit home. How was he ever going to make up for the things he had done to hurt this caring person who meant everything to him. And how had they managed to get so far away from the boy and girl who fell in love that day in the Crashdown so long ago. Determined to make things right, Max began to speak.

“Liz, I know I’ve hurt you. I wish I could go back and change what’s happened, but I can’t. When I think about everything, that she did, I want to…” Max stopped for a moment and took a deep breath before admitting, “I almost killed Tess in the pod chamber.” Liz looked at him in surprise as he continued. “The only reason I didn’t was because of the baby.” Liz’s expression changed at the mention of their child, and he rushed on, “She planned it all, Liz. She said she didn’t mean to kill Alex, but the rest of it was planned right down to getting pregnant.” Max looked at her painfully for a moment before turning toward the stone wall that faced the UFO Center. As he leaned his hands on the edge, he continued.
“I was so stupid. I let her use me and manipulate me instead of following my heart and believing in you. I realize that now. I should never have believed that you slept with Kyle. I knew you were hiding something, but you kept telling me it was true, and I….” He paused to look up at her in desolation for a moment before continuing, “I guess I just gave up.”

Liz looked at his down bent head sorrowfully, realizing that she had a few things to apologize for herself, but she kept silent for now, choosing to let him continue exercising his demons.

“Why couldn’t I sense what she was doing to Alex,” Max brought his hand down hard on the wall with a smack, and Liz winced in reaction. Max didn’t seem to notice the pain as he went on, “I should have known something was wrong. I was married to her, for God’s sake. What good is it to have these powers if they don’t protect you from things like this,” he shook his head, and turned to face her.
“When she started helping me remember, I was just so excited about it, I let it blind me to everything else. I think you’re right about what you said. I don’t know if anything is true anymore. Most of what she showed me was about me and her, so how do I know it wasn’t just her trying to make me do what she wanted.”
Max walked away from her, making a slow circle around the lawn chairs before coming to a stop almost directly in front of her again. He looked down into her serious, dark eyes, and the expression on his face was profoundly apologetic. “When you told us your theory about Alex at the funeral, I just didn’t want to believe that it was our fault. I know that you didn’t really blame us, but I couldn’t face the fact that our being here caused his death. So I took it out on you. I can’t tell you how sorry I am for that.”

Liz nodded her head, and he continued on, his voice becoming more agitated as he tried to explain the things he had realized about his weird behavior over the last few weeks.
“There’s no excuse for the way I treated you, except to say that I realize now that Tess was somehow manipulating my thoughts. When I think about it, it’s like a dream that I was having. I was watching myself do things, but it wasn’t really me. But, at the same time, it was. I know that doesn’t make any sense,” he said shaking his head in exasperation. “The bottom line is that I think she was taking whatever feelings I had, and magnifying them out of proportion, so all of my reactions were over the top. The way I treated you about Alex, Isabel about college, and then that night you left to go to Sweden.”

He had been pacing as he spoke, but now he came to a stop. Turning to face her once more, he took a ragged breath and his luminous eyes pleaded with her to understand. “I was so confused and angry and alone, and she showed up and told me that she would always be there. I could feel the feelings that I used to…” he paused painfully, “ or thought I used to have for her, and I just didn’t want to think anymore.” Lowering his gaze, he said quietly, “It’s no excuse for what I did, though.” He looked up again to find her looking at him solemnly. “When I look back on it, it’s like the rational part of my brain was asleep or something.”
Unable to face her or himself, Max walked over and sat heavily on one of the lawn chairs. Looking down at his hands, he said, “What kind of leader does that make me? How can I be in charge of a whole race of people, if I can’t even control my own life? It’s no wonder our planet was taken over by our enemies.”

Liz’s heart twisted painfully in her chest at the despair in his voice. She walked slowly over and knelt in front of him. “Max, don’t say that. You’re 18 years old. You were raised a normal, human boy. Tess was raised by Nasado. You said she had this planned, didn’t you?”

“She told me he made a deal with Khivar 40 years ago,” he answered her without looking up.

“You see? He probably taught her from the beginning how to manipulate people. She’s had years to practice.” Liz put her finger under Max’s chin to make him look at her. “You can’t blame yourself for being taken in by her,” she said, the sincerity in her face trying to convince him. Her expression turned fierce as she continued, “And how can you blame yourself for what happened to your planet? You have no idea what circumstances lead up to Khivar taking over. It may have had nothing to do with what kind of leader you were.” She brought her hand up and caressed his cheek briefly as she said, “Just be grateful that we found out about her before she got you back there.”

Max looked at her in amazement. Even after everything, she still tried to comfort him and keep him from taking the blame for things he couldn’t control. He didn’t deserve her. Liz caught her breath as he looked at her with those unbelievably soft, brown eyes. It was the look he used to reserve just for her. The one that said she was the only person in the world at that moment. “Only because you wouldn’t give up,” he said softly. “The only reason we’re safe is because of you. We would have walked right into her and Khivar’s trap.”

Max stood, and taking her hands, brought her up with him. He let go, and as Liz sat down on the chair he had vacated, wandered over to the telescope and absentmindedly ran his fingers over the top of it as he gazed out over the wall. “She still has my son,” he said suddenly, picking up where he had left off. “I don’t even know how to feel about that.” He turned around to look at her as he spoke, his distress evident. “I didn’t want to be a father, but I can’t just forget about him. I feel so conflicted about the whole thing. On the one hand, I’m grateful that she’s gone and she can’t hurt us anymore. But on the other hand, she’s having my child, and we know what kind of person she is, not to mention that fact that she’s in league with our enemies.”
Max’s voice shook with suppressed tears as he suddenly slid down the wall and sat on the ground with his head resting on his upraised knees. “What are they going to do to him? Are they going to corrupt him and make him believe that I didn’t want to be with him and that we are the enemy?” Max paused for minute to swallow the lump in his throat. “In a way, he would be right, wouldn’t he? I didn’t really want him. I wouldn’t have chosen to have any child with Tess under normal circumstances. What kind of person does that make me?” He looked up to see Liz still sitting on the lawn chair, her dark head bent so that he couldn’t see her expression.
Max got up and, wiping his face with the back of his hand, apologized, “I’m sorry, Liz. I’m being selfish. You probably don’t want to listen to me talk about this, and I don’t blame you. It’s my mistake, and I have to deal with it.” He turned back to look out at the dark sky, seeing the stars but not really noticing them.

He heard her sigh and the lawn chair creaked as she rose. A moment later Liz’s hand came into view on the wall as she leaned beside him to stare out at the night. “I admit that I’m jealous of Tess,” she began. “ I have to be honest. I hate that she knows you in ways that I don’t, and I’m resentful that she’s having your child.” Max turned his regretful gaze on her, and she looked down as she traced a pattern in a crack on the wall. “I used to dream about that for us,” she said sadly, glancing up at him through her lashes. “ I knew it might be impossible because of our differences, but it didn’t stop me from wishing that we could be together and have a family.” Max nodded, silently acknowledging that he had also dared to wish for the same thing. “But it doesn’t mean that you can’t talk about it, or that you have to hide your feelings. Hiding our feelings is what got us into this. I just have to find a way to deal with it and move on,” Liz said resolutely, looking up into his suddenly hopeful eyes.

“Does that mean that you forgive me,” Max said anxiously.

“It’s not a question of forgiveness, Max. I think you have to learn to forgive yourself,” she told him earnestly. “For me, it’s about acceptance. Acceptance that you have a child with someone else and a duty to protect that child.” Liz looked down at the wall as she paused, then looked back up at him with resignation, “Acceptance that one day, you are probably going to have to leave and find a way to go home and save him.” She went on warningly, “It’s going to take a while. As much as I want to, I can’t just jump back into this relationship as though nothing has happened.”

Max answered her eagerly, “ I don’t expect that. If you want to wait, we’ll wait. If you tell me you don’t want to see me for a while, I’ll respect that. Just don’t say that it’s over, Liz. I know I have a lot to make up for, but I swear I’ll do anything to have you in my life.”
Max leaned down to look sincerely into her beautiful dark eyes. “I do have a responsibility to the child I created, but you are just as important. If I’ve learned anything from this experience, it is just how much I need you. Before the shooting that day in the Crashdown, I was just existing, afraid to be human, afraid to be alien, afraid in general. Afterward, I couldn’t believe that you would be my friend, much less feel the same way about me as I felt about you. I’ll always be grateful for that no matter what you decide.” Liz smiled as he continued. “I want to be with you more than anything, but I know that may be too much to ask. I wish I could lie and say that I’ll never leave but I don’t know what’s going to happen, so if you decide that you can’t live with the uncertainty…I’ll…’ he swallowed painfully, “I’ll accept that. I’m willing to take whatever you’ll give me as long as you at least let me be part of your life.”

“I’ll always want you in my life, Max. I can’t imagine it without you. I think we should just take it slow, and see what happens,” Liz finished hesitantly. She still had to tell him about Future Max. How was he going to react when she told him about why she deceived him? And now that Tess was gone, what were they going to do about the events that were supposed to have transpired? Obviously, things had changed, but would they be able to defeat their enemies without her? Oh, God, this had gotten even more complicated, if that was even possible.

“Thank you,” Max’s soft words brought her out of her reverie. She looked up to find him gazing at her so lovingly that it momentarily took her breath away.

“For what,” Liz said bemusedly.

“For everything,” Max answered softly. “For being you. For saving my life, and for giving me another chance, even though I don’t deserve it.” He stopped for a moment before reaching down to take her hand in his. The feel of his warm skin suddenly made Liz’s throat ache with tears as she realized how long it had been since they had touched like this.
“Liz, there’s one more thing I have to say,” he said looking down at her gravely. “ What you said about me and Tess and our first time. I would give anything to go back and undo that night, but I just want you to know that it didn’t compare with what you and I had. What Tess and I did was just sex. It didn’t have anything to do with love. If…” he stopped, then plunged ahead bravely. “When…you and I are finally together, it will be all about making love.” The look on his face sent a little sizzle of electricity straight through her and she lowered her gaze to keep him from seeing how his words effected her. “I know that doesn’t make up for it, but I don’t ever want you to think that I would rather be with her because of that.”

Schooling her expression, Liz raised her eyes and nodded slightly, “Thank you for saying that.”

“I’m not just saying it,” he said, giving her the look that she had always thought of as the “Max” look. A combination of sincerity and boyishness that never failed to move her. “It’s the truth,” he continued. Hesitating briefly, he leaned down and gently put his lips on hers. It was a sweet, undemanding kiss, yet it spoke volumes about what was in his heart. Hope passion, and above all, love. Raising his head, he smiled down at her, then turning, he pulled her toward the window. “We’d better get back downstairs before Maria comes looking for us.”

Liz moved forward happily, then stopped suddenly her heart plummeting, as she remembered what she still hadn’t told him. Max turned back, and looked at her inquiringly. “Max, we still have some things to talk about,” she said hesitantly. “I need to explain what happened with Kyle. There are some things you need to know… well actually, everybody needs to know them.”

Max looked at her quizzically, “Why does everyone need to know?”
“Oh….umm…. I just need to explain some things.” Liz knew she was being vague, but she didn’t want to burst the bubble of happiness just yet. “Let’s just try to get everyone together tonight, OK? We can meet at the Crashdown and I’ll explain”

Max looked as though he wanted to argue, then said, “OK, we’ll go down and talk to Maria and Michael right now. We can call Isabel and Kyle later.”

Liz nodded, and waited while Max climbed through the window. He turned back and helped her through holding onto her hand tightly. He didn’t let go as they moved to the door and Liz felt a little lightening of her heart at his reassurance. Maybe everything was going to be OK after all. If their love had survived all of this time, through all the misconceptions and lies, it could survive the coming trials. After all, they were going to be together. Although she knew they still had things to work through, Liz felt hopeful for the first time in almost a year. She followed Max out the door.

Edited by - sylvia37 on 09/21/2001 22:22:42

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 4-Nov-2001 12:12:58 AM ]
posted on 20-Sep-2001 10:34:37 PM
Here are Parts 2-6. I don't know what happened to the original post.

The Conversation - Part 2

“You mean you haven’t told him yet,” Maria and Liz were sitting in their usual booth at the Crash Down sharing a plate of Space Fries, but she looked up in surprise at Liz’s admission.

“Only that I didn’t sleep with Kyle,” Liz answered, toying with her fries but not eating them. “We were talking about Tess and the baby… and I..I just didn’t want to bring it up right then.” She stopped when she saw Maria’s look of disbelief and then went on defensively. “We had a lot to discuss. I told him that I needed to explain what happened to everyone, you know, since it involved their deaths and their enemies.”

“But Liz, think of how he’s going to feel when he hears about how it was him who started the whole mess.” Maria shook her head. “You really need to tell him in private before you tell everybody.” She looked at her best friend who just sat there fingering her fries and not looking her in the eye. “OK, out with it,” she said with determination. “What’s the real reason you don’t want to tell him alone?”

Liz sighed resignedly and said, “I’m afraid, Maria.” She finally lifted her gaze and Maria saw that her dark eyes were filled with worry. “What if he hates me because I didn’t come to him with such important information.” Her eyes grew luminous with tears as she went on, “And look what not telling him caused. Alex was alive in the other reality. Max didn’t have a killer wife running around and child in danger.” The tears fell and she looked down at the table as she watched one on them splash on her plate. “I caused all of that, Maria. He feels so guilty about everything that’s happened and I couldn’t even admit to him that I caused it. I just let him think it was all his fault,” she finished brokenly.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa. Back up,” Maria said forcefully. She bent her head and made Liz look at her. “You did not cause Alex’s death. That bitch from another planet did that all on her own.” Maria waved her hand in the air. “And as for their child, Max was the one who couldn’t keep his hands off the little slut.” At Liz’s look of despair, Maria suddenly realized what she had said. “ Oh, look, I’m sorry. Really, I am.”

“It’s OK,” Liz said with a half hearted attempt at a smile. “ That’s kind of what we were talking about upstairs.”

Maria continued little more quietly. “Anyway, I still think you need to talk to him first. I agree that everyone needs to know about the end of the world thing, but Max does not need to be hit with all of that in front of the group. I mean, I may be mad at him, but I still love him.” She smiled and said sincerely, “He won’t hate you.”

“You’re right, you’re right,” Liz wiped the tears from her cheeks with a napkin as she shook her head. “I don’t know what I was thinking. But what am I going to do,” she said suddenly looking up at Maria in panic. “I told him to ask everyone to come here tonight so I could speak to them. Kyle’s on his way over.”

At that moment, Max walked up to the table and slid in beside Liz. He took one of her fries and she automatically handed him the hot sauce. Smiling at her in thanks, he shook some out on her plate. As he doused the fry in the sauce, he looked at Liz and Maria and informed them, “Isabel’s not going to be able to make it for a while. She’s helping Mom with some recipe.” He grimaced in fear of what the two of them could do to decent food, but he wasn’t really upset. Isabel had been so happy that they didn’t have to leave their parents that she wouldn’t let their mother out of her sight all day. He was surprised she agreed to come to the Crash Down even for a little while. “She said give her an hour or so.”

Maria kicked Liz under the table and she jumped in surprise causing Max to look at her in question. Frowning at Maria she said, “Um, Max, I need to talk to you. Can we go somewhere?”

He looked at her quizzically for a moment then said, “Yeah, sure. Um, why don’t we go to my house? I have to pick up Isabel anyway because I have her car.” Wiping his hands on a napkin, he stood up.

“OK. Bye Maria,” Liz said turning her head away from Max to look at her in resignation. “Tell Michael and Kyle we’ll be back in about an hour to talk.”

“You got it, babe,” Maria paused after Max said goodbye, waiting for him to turn away before mouthing “ Good luck” to Liz. Liz wrinkled her nose and mouthed “Thanks” back. She followed Max out the door.


Max and Liz exchanged pleasantries with his mom and Isabel when they arrived at the house before heading upstairs to his room. Liz was still smiling from the comments that Max had made to them regarding their culinary expertise causing Isabel to fling a sauce-covered torpedo at his chest. He’d caught it easily, but it was all over him and he excused himself to go clean up in the bathroom and change his shirt.

Liz wandered around his room looking at his things her smile fading. Oh God. How do I do this, she thought. He poured his heart out this afternoon about how horrible he felt and I just let him go on without saying a word about what I did to cause it.

She was staring blindly at his CD collection when Max entered the room and shut the door. He crossed to the bed and sat down, inviting her to do the same. “So, Liz. Is this about what you were going to tell the group tonight?” he asked calmly after she refused the seat. In reality, his stomach was churning at what she might tell him. He had waited so long to hear the truth.

“Yeah. Maria sort of convinced me that I needed to tell you first because….well just because.” Liz paused and then turned to stare at him in resolutely. “She was right.” Looking down to hide her expression she said, “I was just afraid.”

“Afraid,” Max said, his stomach dropping. “Of me?”

“No,” Liz said quickly. “ No, I couldn’t ever be afraid of you, Max.” She stopped and looked at him in apprehension. “I was afraid that when I tell you what happened, you’ll….you’ll hate me.”

“What!” Max stood up and walked to where she was standing by the window. Gently laying his hands on her arms, he looked down into her anxious gaze willing her to believe him. “Liz, nothing you could ever do could make me hate you. Even when I thought you had been with Kyle, I still loved you. I couldn’t help myself. I was angry for a while, but then I realized that I had to have you in my life, even if it was only as a friend. I couldn’t go back to the way it was before you got shot.” Liz was mesmerized by his amber gaze. For the thousandth time, she wondered how such a beautiful person could look at her this way.

“I feel that way too, Max,” she said softly. “I just want you to know that I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to make you believe I slept with Kyle. I just didn’t feel like I had a choice.”

“What do you mean?”

Liz could here the frustration in his voice and it caused her own frustration with the situation to surface. “This is so hard,” she said pulling away from him to pace around the room. “I’ve wanted to tell you so many times, and now that you’re here, I don’t know where to start.” She turned to him with wide apologetic eyes. “When we were talking in my room, you were feeling so guilty about everything that’s happened when the truth is…. it’s really my fault. Indirectly, anyway.”

“Your fault. How can it be your fault?” The feeling of apprehension returned. Her trepidation with telling him the whole story was clear and it was making him nervous. She had gone to the other side of the room and was rocking back and forth from one foot to the other. What could be so terrible?

“Do you remember the night you came and sang to me with the Maruichi band?”

Max was thrown for a loop by the question. Of course he remembered that night. It was one of the most embarrassing moments of his life, but he had been desperate. He could still see her smiling face as he declared his devotion for the whole neighborhood to hear. Sheepishly he dropped his head, and nodded.

“Well, that night….I had a visitor before you got there, and he was with me on the balcony while you were singing.” Liz’s stomach was flip-flopping so much she thought she was going to be sick.

“A visitor?” Oh God, someone had been on her balcony while he was singing. He wanted to crawl in a hole.

Liz took a deep breath “He, um, used the Granolith to come back in time from the year 2014. I know it sounds crazy but it’s the truth,” she said in a rush before her fear could get the better of her.

Max’s head flew up from where he had been contemplating a spot on his carpet as he looked at her in shock. He crossed the room and grabbed her arms. “God, Liz! Was it a Skin? Did he try to hurt you or threaten you?”

“No! No Max. He didn’t do anything like that,” Liz said shaking her head as she looked up at him. “You see, well…. um…… it was you.”

“Me,” Max said uncomprehendingly letting go of her arms and stepping back.

“It was you from the future,” she said unconsciously rubbing her arms where he had touched her. “You had long hair, and you wore these really cool leather clothes.” Oh God, Liz thought. I’m babbling like Maria. “I didn’t believe it at first but then you convinced me.”

Max couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “How did I convince you? Are you sure it wasn’t a shape shifter?”

Liz was shaking her head again. “It was you, Max. He arrived just before you came, and he told me exactly what was about to happen right when it actually happened. And besides, when I finally calmed down, I could just tell it was you. I mean, it wasn’t you like you are now, but it was YOU,” she said pointing at his chest.

Max walked as if in a daze back over to the bed and sat heavily.

Liz finally sat at his computer desk turning to face him. “Anyway, you told me that we had to change the future. That things between us were about to change.” She hesitated, but decided not to say what had happened between them the night of the Gomez concert. This was hard enough without bringing sex into the picture. “We became inseparable and eventually got married. We eloped when we were 19 to Vegas.” Liz smiled slightly looking at him through her lashes. “ To the Elvis Chapel.”

Max was once again thrown into shock. He wasn’t sure how much more his system could take. “My vision. It was real,” he said in dawning comprehension. His eyes burned into hers as he remembered the feelings of happiness radiating from the two of them. It was real!

“Yeah.” Her expression became serious as she looked at him regretfully. “ I wanted to tell you so badly that night, Max. I almost did, and then…. well, I just couldn’t. I thought the future of the world was at stake.”

“What do you mean?” Max said hoarsely and he swallowed, afraid of what she was going to say but needing her to tell him before he exploded from the tension.

Liz got up from the chair, once again unable to keep still from the adrenaline rushing through her system. She paced in front of the window as she continued. “You….the future you, told me that because you and I got together, things with Tess got bad. She left Roswell.” She turned to face Max, and seeing his anxiety, her voice broke as she said, “Oh, God Max, I don’t even know how to say this. Your enemies came to earth and you discovered that the four of you were a complete unit with each of you having special gifts. Without Tess, you weren’t strong enough to defeat them and….and….they killed everyone.” Watching the devastation of her words transform his features, she could only finish in a whisper, “When you got here, Michael had just died, and Isabel had been gone for two weeks.”

Max was silent so long she thought he had gone into a trance. His face was deathly pale and his eyes were black with desolation. Suddenly he said, “Were you dead too?” It was the only thing his sluggish brain could come up with.

Liz’s brow wrinkled at his question. “I don’t know,” she said quizzically. “ You said that you couldn’t tell me too much information. You just said that we needed to change things so that it wouldn’t happen.” She hesitated a moment and then said gently, “You said that I needed to find a way to help you fall out of love with me so Tess wouldn’t leave.”

“Oh, my God.” Max was sure that he was going to die. His chest hurt, his head hurt, and his eyes were burning. Is this what a heart attack feels like, he thought distractedly. He came back to reality as he realized that Liz was still talking to him.

“You were so stubborn, Max. You wouldn’t let me go, even after those horrible things I said to you in your room.” Liz looked at his desolate figure as she said urgently, “ I swear, Max. I didn’t mean any of them. It was so hard to stand there, facing you and say that I didn’t want to die for you. When I got back home, we thought it had worked for a minute, but when we realized it hadn’t, you told me I had to come up with something else. So,” she swallowed painfully, “….I asked Kyle to help me. I didn’t tell him why, I just told him what I wanted and he said OK. When you saw us, we were just lying there talking. We had clothes on.,” she said despondently, sure he was going to tell her to get out any minute. He wouldn’t look at her and she had never seen him so distressed.

“After you left, we… the future you and me… were sitting on my balcony talking, and….he just disappeared.” Liz left out the dancing. She didn’t want him to think she had been happy after what she had done, and besides, it was a private memory between her and her would-have-been husband. Max was not that man, nor would he become him in the future.

“I don’t understand. Why didn’t he come to me and just tell me all of this?” Max’s brain was finally beginning to clear as he struggled to get his churning feelings in some sort of order. He had actually put two sentences together.

“He said that it had something to do with Quantum mechanics, but that the two of you couldn’t be in the space together or you would both be destroyed.” Liz was staring at him desperately, but he still would not return her gaze. “I wanted to tell you, Max. I wanted to so much. He just seemed so sure that this was the way it had to be done, and I couldn’t risk doing anything that would destroy the world or cause Michael and Isabel to die. Please, please say you understand why I did it. I know you must be angry with me…”

“I’m not sure how I feel,” Max said interrupting her. It was true. His emotions were in a jumble and he couldn’t latch on to any one of them.

Liz was devastated by his comment. That’s it, she thought. It’s over. It’s over before it even had a chance to begin. She turned to face the window, and said resignedly, “I thought that it was the right thing at the time, but now, look at what happened. Alex is dead. He wasn’t in the other reality. The future you said that he, Maria, Michael and Isabel met us in a bar outside of Phoenix after our wedding. You said we danced all night.” She leaned her forehead against the glass where she could see the reflection of the tears in her eyes.

Max finally looked up to see Liz’s dejected figure standing by the window. Her words penetrated the last of the fog and he realized that she thought he was blaming her. “Liz…..”

“Oh God, I did this,” she said turning to slide down the wall, her guilt over everything she had endured and done over the last few weeks finally catching up with her. “I let you take the blame, but I did this. Alex is dead, and you have a child in danger because of what I did.” Her body was shuddering with the effort to suppress her emotions. She brought her hands to her face and rocking back and forth, she said in a strangled voice, “ I should have come to you. I should have told you what was happening instead of doing it on my own. I’m so sorry, Max.”

Max knelt down in front of Liz and took her trembling hands into his warm ones. “No Liz, listen to me. I’m the one who’s sorry.” He raised her chin gently in his hand, looking deeply into her disconsolate eyes. “It wasn’t your fault. Alex is dead because Tess killed him.” His voice deepened with regret. “ I have a child because of my own irresponsibility. You only did what you did because I told you too.” He came to his feet, pulling her up with him. Leading her to the bed, he sat down pulling her smaller figure down next to him. Leaning forward with his hands in between his knees, he hung his head as he said miserably, “I can’t believe that I would ask you to do that; to take the burden for the fate of the world all by yourself. What kind of person did I become that I could do that to you?”

Liz put her hand lightly on his back. “Max, if you had seen the desperation, and grief. You had been through battles. Michael had just died in your arms…. Isabel….”

Max lifted his head and looked at her. “Will you let me see?”


“Will you let me connect so I can see what happened?” He knelt in front of her on the floor. He hadn’t done this since that first time in the Crash Down, but he needed to see and feel what was in her heart so he could fully understand what she had been through. “Please Liz. I want to know.”

Liz was couldn’t look away from his compelling gaze. “OK.”

Max took a deep breath and gently put his hands on either side of her face, sliding his fingers under her hair. “Just let the memories come, Liz,” he said softly staring deeply into her dark eyes.

She allowed her thoughts to drift, remembering every detail of her and Future Max’s time together. The feelings washed over her: fear, amazement, sadness, joy, love, guilt, and despair at her final act of desperation. When Max finally broke the connection, tears were running down both of their cheeks and he laid his forehead against hers.

“Oh, God Liz. I’m so sorry. How have you been able to keep this inside for so long? I wanted that life too. I wanted it so much. How could I have asked you to give up our lives together? There had to be other ways to keep Tess here without sacrificing our happiness.” His voice shook with the depths of his emotion.

“I don’t know, Max,” Liz pulled back to look at him. “You…the future you… said that she left because of the way you treated her after we got back together. Maybe guilt combined with losing Isabel and Michael made you believe that you needed to give me up to make up for it.” Liz got up from the bed and moved toward the window, wiping her cheeks with the back of her hand. She turned back to him. “I mean, look at our track record. Every time something happens, one of us has tried to let the other go, as if our being together is what keeps causing the trouble. You tried to let me go when Michael got sick, I tried when we got the message from you mother, and you even came back from the future to do it again.” She shook her head in disgust and pacing, went on. “But it never works. Things don’t get better. Life doesn’t become perfect because we’re apart. Whatever bad things that were going to happen, still happen, and we’re miserable on top of it.”

Max got up from the floor and went to stand in front of her. “Your're right.” He touched her arm to stop her agitated pacing. “Look Liz, we have to make a pact right here. We have to agree never to keep secrets from each other again. The whole group does. We can’t function like this. Now more then ever, we have to rely on each other because other wise, our enemies are going to destroy us.” He took her hand and led her to the bed again. They sat down facing each other and Max kept her hand in his. Looking at her earnestly, he asked, “Will you promise me that no matter how painful it is, or what circumstances there are, that you will always tell me the truth? That you’ll trust me?”

“I promise,” Liz said solemnly with a nod. “Do you promise the same thing?” she asked with a small smile.

“I promise,” Max’s lip curled slightly in response. “I trust you with my life,” he said sincerely. “ Now, one more thing.” He stopped and took a breath before continuing determinedly. “We have to stop blaming ourselves for what happened to Alex. We both made poor choices, especially my future self.” Liz opened her mouth to protest, but he cut her off with an apologetic shake of his head for breaking the rule he just set. “I know, I know, I’m sorry. It’s going to be hard,” he said ruefully. “But we have to get past it or we won’t be able to go on with our lives, personally or with the others.”

“How do you think they’ll react when I tell them?” Liz was dreading having to go through the whole story again. Just explaining it this one time had taken years off her life.

“I don’t know,” Max answered truthfully, “ but whatever they do, we are not going to blame ourselves anymore.” He leaned forward to look directly into her eyes. “Agreed?”

“OK,” she said softly. How could she resist when he looked at her that way? She’d have to be dead. “I guess we’d better see if Isabel is ready to go. Maria is going to have a fit if we leave her there to entertain Michael and Kyle much longer.”

They rose from the bed, there hands firmly together as they went out the door.

Conversation Part Three

“What! You mean someone from OUR planet used OUR technology to come back in time and you kept it to yourself?” Michael jumped off the stool he was sitting on and was facing Liz with an angry, disbelieving expression on his face.

They were sitting in the Crash Down, and Liz had barely begun her story. When she, Max and Isabel arrived, Maria informed her that Kyle called back to say he wouldn’t be coming. In Maria’s words, he came up with some lame excuse about helping his Dad. He’d sounded despondent and avoided her when she tried to question him about it so Liz vowed to herself that she would see him tomorrow to try and help him work it out. He didn’t deserve what happened. None of them did.

Max barely had time to react to Michael’s outburst when Maria grabbed his arm. “Michael!” she said sharply. “ Michael, sit down and let the girl finish.”

Michael turned to look at her with a frown, but upon seeing her expression, made a sound of frustration and sat back down next to her. She took his hand and patted it comfortingly.

Max’s eyes were shooting daggers at Michael, but when Liz glanced at him uncertainly, he gave her a small, rueful smile of reassurance and she managed to continue. “Um anyway, Max… uh the other Max, said that we had to change the future.” She went on to describe the events that occurred, leaving out the personal parts. When she was finished, she left the shell-shocked aliens to ponder what she said, and quietly slipped into a booth. She was exhausted. The emotional highs and lows of the past two days were finally catching up with her and she wanted nothing more than to walk up the stairs and go to sleep.

Max sat quietly for a moment letting his sister and Michael absorb the news. He’d watched in sympathy during Liz’s explanation as they realized with dawning horror, that the whole human race was destroyed because of them. Now, Michael was leaning over the counter with his hands over his eyes, and Maria was rubbing his back soothingly. Isabel, on the other hand had her back turned to them and he couldn’t tell what she was thinking.

He rose and slowly crossed to her side. Laying a hand on her shoulder, he silently offered his support. Her distraught voice came quietly as she addressed Liz. “Was Alex alive in this other time line?”

“Isabel,” Max knew where this was headed and he tried to cut her off before she went down that destructive path. But she whipped around and sidestepped him to confront a weary Liz who could only look at her sadly and nod.

“Oh my God,” Isabel cried desperately, tears streaming down her face. “Alex would still be alive. Alex is dead because of you.”

Max spun her around intending to berate her for attacking Liz, but the sight of her ravaged face stopped him. He bit back his anger and said as gently as he could, “Isabel, listen to me. Alex is not dead because of Liz. Alex is dead because of Tess. Liz did what she did because I told her to, so if you want to blame someone, blame me.” Putting his arms around her, Max let her cry out her sorrow on his shoulder.

“She should have told us what was going on, Maxwell,” Michael said forcefully. Max looked up as Michael spoke and saw Maria sitting in the booth next to Liz. Her head was on Maria’s shoulder, and her eyes were closed while Maria silently stroked her hair. “Are you saying that you think she did the right thing here,” Michael’s agitated question brought his head around.

Max gently let go of Isabel. Cutting his eyes to Michael he said sharply, “No, I’m not saying that.” He stopped abruptly, sighing as he reigned in his temper. “Liz knows that I think she should have told us,” he continued more calmly. “What I’m saying is that there’s no right or wrong. Liz doesn’t deserve this from us. She’s the victim here, and you two are just not getting it.” He looked at the now subdued pair and said pointedly. “I came back in time and told her that she had to change fate, or earth would be destroyed. I put all of that on her shoulders. And what she didn’t tell you…what she’s too kind to tell you is that she saved the both of you in the process.”

Michael’s face mirrored the confusion on Isabel’s as they looked over at Liz in the booth. “When my future self got here, you were both already dead. Isabel, two weeks before….and Michael a few minutes before.” Saying the words out loud to his two siblings made Max realize again how close he came to losing them. The severity of his expression softened and he continued more gently, “ I was grief stricken and desperate, and I made her do it. So we both made the decision. But,” Max paused to look back at Liz, “as hard as it is for us to accept, neither one of us is to blame.”

As he waited for the truth of his words to penetrate, Max continued to look at Liz who smiled slightly into his concerned gaze. He wanted to go to her, but felt he still needed to deal with Michael and Isabel. They were his family, and he understood their feelings, but blaming Liz was not an option.

Michael finally nodded reluctantly and went back to the counter. Maria rose from the booth and followed as Isabel wiped her cheeks with a napkin.

“So now what,” said Michael giving voice to everyone’s next concern. “Without Tess we’re screwed, right? I mean, supposedly we can’t function as a unit without her.”

Max answered him gravely. “I think it’s safe to say that even if she were here, Tess would not be helping us. She’s our enemy now and we’re just going to have to figure out a way to help ourselves.” Max looked around the room and said with conviction, “We have to promise that we’ll stick together and not keep secrets from each other. Our lives depend on it. Does everyone agree?” They all nodded in turn. “ OK,” he said tiredly rubbing his finger on his forehead. “It’s late and we’ve all had a long two days. We can meet again in a few days when everyone’s had time to rest.”

Isabel stood and walked over to Max. “I want to go home,” she said, her voice still thick with tears.

Max looked compassionately into her pain-filled eyes. “Wait for me in the car?” At her nod of ascent, he said, ‘I’ll be there in a minute.”

As Isabel made her way to the door, Liz intercepted her. “Isabel, I’m sorry,” her voice reflecting her own sorrow.

The beautiful girl looked at Liz with regret. “Me too,” she said miserably. “ I just……Alex and I….we were just beginning to….I’m sorry,” she said again, her face crumpling. She leaned over and gave Liz a quick hug, and walked out the door.

Liz wiped her eyes with the back of her hand, and turned to find Michael and Maria waiting for her. Michael, looking decidedly uncomfortable, spoke first. “Liz. I, uh…I just want to say that I’m sorry too. You did what you thought was right and it was wrong of me come down on you like that.” He gave his version of a smile. “Thanks…..for everything.”

“Your welcome.” Liz couldn’t help but smile back. Maria hugged her and whispered, “Is the security camera rolling, cause I think we just got some rare, one of a kind footage.” Liz laughed and hugged her back fiercely.

Maria grabbed Michael’s arm. “Come on, Spaceboy. We’ve got an early shift tomorrow and I, for one, need my beauty sleep.” They waved goodbye to Max and left.

Max came to stand in front of her taking in her drained appearance with concern. “You OK?”

“Yeah,” she smiled slightly. “Just tired.”

“Look, Liz. I’m sorry about Michael and Isabel. They’re just….”

“It’s OK,” she cut him off shaking her head. “I don’t blame them for being upset. And Isabel’s right. I…” she was stopped by a warm finger on her lips.

“We promised. Remember?” Max’s own lips curved as he looked at her in gentle reproach.

Liz fought the urge to press her lips more firmly onto his finger, and dropped her gaze guiltily instead.

Max lifted her chin to stare into her eyes. “ Look at me, Liz. It’s no ones fault. Especially not yours, OK?”

The familiar touch made Liz’s chest ache with longing, and as he dropped his hand, they continued to stare at each other, neither one willing to go just yet. Oh God, she wanted to touch him. She wanted to crawl into his arms and beg him to hold her forever. Liz fought her traitorous feelings, her weary body trembling with the effort. Turning away, she wrapped her arms around her waist and willed herself to resist the temptation to give in. She couldn’t allow herself the comfort of his arms, as much as she wanted it. The reasons were too numerous and too complicated and she was too tired to analyze them right now.

Max saw the emotional battle being waged in her eyes before she turned her back, and he couldn’t help but be a little happy that she was struggling with her feelings. But he chose to ignore it for now, because her exhaustion was evident. Instead he gestured reluctantly to where Isabel waited. “I want to stay, but I think Isabel needs me right now.”

Liz faced him and shook her head in understanding. “I know. You need to be with her too.” She smiled reassuringly. “I’m fine. Really.”

“OK.” They moved toward the door, but Max turned once more as he opened it. “I’ll see you tomorrow. Get some sleep, OK?” Liz nodded, and he leaned forward to kissed her forehead softly. “ Bye, Liz.”

“Bye, Max.” Liz watched him as he strode to the car, and closing the door, she turned the key and climbed the stairs to her lonely room.

Conversation Part 4

Liz knocked on the door of the Valenti residence and nervously pushed her hair back from her cheek. After the meeting last night, she’d slept like the dead and had woken up determined to see Kyle and help him with whatever he was going through because of Tess. The lock turned and she looked up to see a weary looking Kyle opening the door. “Hi Kyle.”


Standing there uncomfortably for a moment while he just stared at her, Liz finally asked, “Um.. Can I come in?”

He looked like he wanted to say no, but opened the door with a sigh and stepped back to let her through. Liz moved into the living room and looked around in dismay. The place was a wreck. Clothes hung from the backs of chairs and littered the floor. The coffee table was covered with the remnants of leftover takeout, and the couch was covered with tangled sheets and a blanket. Liz looked back to find him staring at her sardonically. She lifted her hand hesitantly and said, “I brought pie.”

Something like a smile touched his lips as he gestured to her hand. “”Yeah, I see that.”

Liz moved forward. “I’ll just put it here….” she stopped when she got to the kitchen as she realized there was not an inch of space between the dirty dishes to put anything.

Kyle watched as she hesitated, and walked back over to sit heavily on the couch amid the mess that served as his bed. “Pie solves everything,” he murmured to himself thinking back to the last time she’d shown up this way at his house.

“What?” Liz said stepping back into the room after finally deciding to set the pie down on the dining room table. She looked for a place to sit, decided to bring a dining chair over nearer the couch.

“Nothing.” Kyle leaned back and crossed his arms. “So....Evans figure out what he’s going to do about his kid? That is what that little pow-wow was about last night, wasn’t it?”

“Um, no actually.” Liz ignored the familiar hollow feeling in her stomach at the mention of their child and looked at him curiously. “Is that why you didn’t want to come? Because you thought we were going to be talking about Max and Tess’s child?”

Avoiding her inquiring stare, Kyle shook his head. “I told Maria why I didn’t come. My Dad and I had something…”


“Look Liz it doesn’t matter, OK?” Kyle cut her off. “Tess is gone, and there’s no reason for me to be involved in the whole alien thing anymore. You can tell them for me that I won’t say anything. Who’d believe me anyway, right? I know that’s what you’re all worried about.” The bitterness in his tone saddened her.

Liz got up to sit next to him on the couch. Looking directly into his eyes, she hoped he would see the truth of her words. “That’s not true, Kyle. I came here today, to make sure you were OK. We were worried about you. All of us.”

Unable to face her sincere regard, he jumped up from the couch and turned away pretending to fold a shirt that hung off the arm. “Yeah, well, you can tell them I’m fine. It’s great,” he continued gesturing toward the hallway. “I’ve got my room back, no more girl crap hogging the bathroom sink. I can even sit out here and watch wrestling in my boxers so….”, he looked up to see Liz staring at him in sympathy, “you know…. tell them…” he stopped as his voice cracked and looked down to hide his expression.

“Kyle.” Liz rose from the couch to stand in front of him. Maybe she’d finally gotten through the wall he built to protect himself. “ Kyle.” She bent her head to try and make him look at her. “I know it’s hard. She used you to hurt Alex.” She swallowed as the familiar tears threatened to fall at the mention of what happened to Alex. Would it ever get any easier?

“It’s not just that,” he said thickly, still not looking at her. “I mean, not that that isn’t enough, but …” he stopped, afraid to voice his thoughts out loud.

“What is it?” Liz inquired at his continued silence. Touching his arm softly, she said, “You can tell me Kyle. We used to be able to talk about anything.”

This finally brought his head up where he stared at her before saying bluntly, “Yeah, we used to be a lot of things.” The wall was back. Liz looked down in embarrassment and removed her hand. Kyle instantly regretted his harsh words. “Look, Liz, I’m sorry. I’m not very good company today. You should go, OK? I’m fine.” Kyle said finally, attempting to look like he meant it.

Liz realized she wasn’t getting anywhere at the moment trying to get him to open up to her so she changed the subject. Look, there’s another reason I came over here. I….need to tell you something.” She sighed, dreading the telling of this story again. “You were wrong when you said there’s no reason for you to be involved anymore. We’re going to need all the help we can get now.”

“What are you talking about?” Kyle looked at her skeptically. “Evans doesn’t need me to help him find his kid. He’s got the alien posse and you and Maria to keep the home fires burning.” His voice was sharp with sarcasm.

“No, Kyle it isn’t about that. It’s… about the reason I asked you to help me with Max,” Liz said hesitantly, looking up at him through her lashes. “You know… the night you pretended to……” she stopped gesturing lamely.

“What? You mean you finally told him the truth?” Kyle wasn’t the least bit surprised. “Congratulations. So you two are back together now. Well it’s a good thing he had a backup after shooting the mother of his child off the planet.”

“Kyle, listen to me.” Liz was getting slightly irritated with his smart comments. She knew him well enough to know that he hid his real feelings with sarcastic humor, but his attitude reminded her of the days when he first found out about her and Max and it was getting on her nerves. “It’s not like that, OK. Max and I are not back together. I mean, we’re talking ….but .. that’s not important right now,” she said in exasperation. “The reason I asked you to …help me trick Max was because of something that happened a few nights before that.” She went on to explain the events in as few words as possible, turning to pace in agitation.

Now Kyle was staring at her in disbelief. “So what you’re saying is that it’s not over. Since we…, basically you and I, changed the future, we have no idea what’s going to happen now. Their enemies may come to earth and without Tess, they can’t win. We’re all screwed. That’s great.” He laughed without humor. “This just gets better and better. Tell me again how this isn’t their fault because I think I lost sight of that after the whole evil aliens destroying the earth part.”

“Look Kyle, I know this is overwhelming.” Liz said, trying to hold on to her patience. “That’s why we need your help. We’re the only ones who know and we can’t tell anybody else. I’m not asking you to feel sorry for them, OK. I’m just asking you to think about how it must feel for them to be the only ones who can stop this and they don’t know how.” Liz felt tears rise as the situation threatened to catch up with her. “And now with Tess on the other side….God, when I think about the things she did….Alex….and you… and even Max….I…just hate her.” The tears spilled silently down her cheeks as she confessed her feelings. “ I can’t help it.” She looked up regretfully, aware that he had the most reason to be upset, but he’d turned his back to her. “I’m sorry, Kyle. I know you must feel the same way.”

There was a moment of silence, then his voice came softly. “That’s just it. I don’t… hate her.” Kyle turned around, his handsome face tight with suppressed emotion. “I mean, I do, but I…..” He gazed down at his feet. “At first, you know,… when she just showed up out of the blue to live here, I was mad. But then, she just seemed like she needed a friend and ….we had fun. It was like having a sister.” Kyle finally looked up and Liz was torn by the sadness in his eyes. “I miss her,” he whispered, hating himself for feeling that way after all the things she’d done.

He walked to the couch and sat, hiding his face in his hands. Liz followed with a heavy heart and put a gentle arm around his trembling shoulders. “Kyle, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry for what she did to you.” Her own voice shook as she tried to comfort him. He nodded, his face still hidden, and allowed her to continue her slight embrace while he pulled himself together. Finally, after wiping his face with the back of his hand, he looked over at her and said, “Thanks.” Liz nodded, letting go of his shoulders, and moved over to a more comfortable position on the couch, pushing the sheet and blanket as she went. As if by mutual consent, they changed the subject, both of them relaxing against the back of the couch.

“So now what. Do they have any idea what to do?” Kyle still couldn’t believe what she’d told him.

"We hadn’t really gotten that far, yet. Everyone was sort of overwhelmed by the news, you know.” Liz shook her head. “Isabel was really upset about Alex.”

“You mean she blamed you?” His voice rose in anger. “ Did they all blame you? Evans…?”

“No! No.” Liz quickly cut him off before he made some harsh comment. “Max didn’t blame me. He defended me to them. He thinks it’s his fault,” she said thinking back to their conversation the night before. They’d promised not to torture themselves with the guilt of Alex’s death but it was easier said than done.

“Well, can’t argue with him there. What?” he said as she looked at him in reproach. “Are you telling me you aren’t mad that he and Tess did the w…., he stopped as her eyes widened in outrage, “um, anyway… you just blew it off?”

“No, I’m not saying that.” Liz paused in irritation. “ Look, Max and I have a lot of things to work out, OK. He knows how I feel about what happened with Tess and believe it or not, she was manipulating him too.”

“Man, have you got it bad.” Kyle laughed in disbelief. “The man comes back from the future to make you break up with him, then sleeps with his ex-wife and makes an alien baby, and you’re still defending him. What is the deal with that?” He looked at her in genuine curiosity. “Is it the whole alien voodoo thing?”

Liz laughed at his comment and he smiled in return. “I’m not going to discuss my relationship with Max with you,” she said with finality, effectively ending the discussion

They sat in companionable silence for a moment, both lost in their own thoughts before Kyle said softly, “I thought I was in love with you, you know.” At her look of surprised disbelief, he smiled slightly in embarrassment. “I did. I know I didn’t show it really, even though we were dating.” He picked up her hand and idly played with her fingers as he continued. “You were the first girl I really felt that way about, and I didn’t know how to act so I just….didn’t. Then when Evans came along, I knew. Almost right away, I knew I’d waited too long. That’s why I was such a jerk.”

Liz had been watching him in sympathy as he spoke. As he let go of her hand, she said, “Kyle, I’m sorry. For everything. I can’t explain about Max and me, it’s just…I don’t know what it is. I only know I can’t let it go.” She sighed in resignation. “I just wish you hadn’t gotten caught in the middle. In the beginning and with the whole Tess thing. I want you to know I’ll always be your friend. Me and Maria.” She couldn’t speak for Max and the others. They needed to make peace with Kyle and his father on their own. She glanced sideways at him and smiled. “I mean, we’ve seen each other naked, right?”

Kyle laughed in genuine amusement this time.“It doesn’t count when your only six.” He turned to leer at her wickedly. “Now, if you really want to make it up to me, you could strip right here and…OW!” he said in mock pain as she swatted him on the arm. “Hey, I was just trying to ease your conscience.”

“Thanks, but I think I’ll keep my clothes on.” Liz bounced off the couch and turned to look down at him. “So what do you say we have some pie, and I help you clean up this mess a little. Even two tough guys like you and your Dad eventually have to have clean underwear, right?” She laughed again at the look on his face.

“Yeah, I guess.” Kyle rose from the couch and grabbed her arm as she turned toward the kitchen. “Hey Liz.” She turned back to find him looking at her with eyes clear of shadows for the first time since she got there.

“Your welcome,” Liz answered before he could finish. He smiled and they headed toward the kitchen to tackle the mess.

Conversation Part 5

Michael hit the bell for the second time. “Hey, Liz. Order up for seven.” When she didn’t turn around, he finally yelled, “Liz!”

Looking up in response to her name being called, Liz made her way to the pick up window, where Michael waited impatiently. “ Thanks, Michael.”

He just stared at her for a moment before shaking his head. “What’s up with you today? I called you three times.”

Liz looked at him in surprise, then grimaced in embarrassment. “Oh… sorry, I’m just…distracted.” Michael shook his head again and turned back to the grill.

“Distracted, yeah. More like a friggin’ basketcase,” Liz thought as she balanced the plates on her arms. “I need to stop thinking about this. ” She delivered the food to table seven, barely paying attention to the thank you’s from the people there.

Grabbing a tub, she started bussing table 11. It had been a month and a half since the day Tess left earth, and the group had gone on with their normal lives. If normal meant practicing alien powers and having meetings to discuss strategy. For the three aliens, going to the quarry to try and discover what made them a unit had become a daily activity. So far, they’d failed, but it didn’t stop them. The threat of an evil alien invasion was good motivation.

After wiping down the highchair and stacking it in the corner with the others, Liz went to the back to grab the Roller Sweeper thingy (Maria’s word) to get rid of the cracker crumbs littering the floor under the table. As she swept, she thought back over the last several weeks. The group met almost everyday, but had yet to come up with anything to help them figure out what to do, either about the alien threat or about Max’s son. Their first meeting was a couple of days after her discussion with Kyle, and she was relieved to see him show up at the appointed time. It was then that she learned from Maria, that Max, Michael and Isabel had gone to see the two Valenti men, apologizing for bringing Tess into their lives and for all the chaos that that had caused. Liz was glad they’d taken the initiative and Kyle had seemed much more relaxed then during their own conversation. Although he barely spoke to Max, he’d at least added constructively to the meeting. Liz made the suggestion that they write down everything that had happened since the shooting in the Crash down. Maybe by charting the events, they could come up with a pattern or something that would help them with a plan. With everyone contributing, the list of events was quite extensive, and after that last disastrous day was recorded, the teenagers sat in silence, contemplating everything they’d been through. The mood was somber as they left Michael’s apartment that night.

Putting the sweeper back, Liz made the rounds of her tables, making sure everyone had filled glasses and dirty dishes were cleared. It was not quite 5:00 yet, so the lag time between the lunch and dinner rush was still in effect and there weren’t many tables to check. That was a good thing because she’d been pretty much out of it most of the day. It was all because she and Max were going on their first, official date since the whole Tess thing started. Not that Liz hadn’t seen Max almost everyday since she left. Whether by himself or with the group, he always managed to make sure that he had some sort of contact with her. He’d stop by for a quick conversation before work at the UFO Center, or casually drop in to eat lunch on his days off. On the days she didn’t see him, she knew he would call, even for just a minute, to ask her how she was or to tell her how the practicing was going. He was always sweet and attentive and so much like the Max that she fell in love with, it made her decision to give them time difficult in the extreme. It was obvious to everyone the change in his behavior since Tess left, giving credence to the fact that she was messing with his mind.

And to make matters worse, he took every opportunity to touch her. Nothing overly obvious, just light gestures of affection. A hand on her arm as they walked, a light touch on her back as he went by, a kiss on her forehead or lips as he left. She was having a hard time resisting his campaign to win her back, and when he’d finally asked her out, she couldn’t think of a reason to say no. Besides, he looked like he could use some relaxation, the toll of the last few weeks showing in his tired eyes.

It wasn’t until after she’d agreed to the date that her fears surfaced. As she wiped down the counter, Liz thought about her conversation with Maria yesterday.

“Liz, you’ve lost me here. What’s the big deal about…..Oh. Oh no. You don’t think…. No.

“Maria, how do you know? I couldn’t bear it.” Liz was sitting on the bed in her room looking miserable.

“Look Liz,” Maria sat on the bed next to her, “ I don’t think its going to happen, but either way, you’ve got to tell Max the truth.”

Liz looked at her in disbelief “Yeah, right. What am I going to say? Oh sorry, Max. I can’t kiss you because I’m afraid I’ll see you and your ex-wife having sex. But feel free to keep dating me.” Liz shook her head. ”Not gonna happen.”

Looking at her in determination, Maria tried to make her see reason. “Liz, didn’t you and Max make a pact to always be honest with each other?” At Liz’s reluctant nod, she continued. “ Well, then you’ve got to tell him. You won’t be able to get on with your relationship until you do. What?” she said as Liz looked at her strangely. “ So, I’ve been watching a lot of “The View”. The point is, you can’t just not kiss him. He’ll figure out something’s wrong. And besides, you could always ask him to block them. I told you how Michael was blocking me in the beginning.”

“Oh God, I couldn’t do that. How embarrassing.”

“I think it’s clean, Liz.”

Liz’ s head jerked up to find Maria standing directly in front of her. “Oh, hey Maria. I didn’t see you there.”

“Obviously. Where were you just now?” Maria looked at her inquiringly, noticing the nervous way she straightened condiments on the table that weren’t out of place.

“Nowhere.” Liz evaded her perceptive gaze. “Uh, when did you get here?”

“A few minutes ago. You were so busy trying to scrub a hole in the counter, you didn’t notice. Still worried about tonight?”

Liz looked at her in panic. “Oh my God, a few minutes ago? Max will be her any minute!” Liz dropped the cloth she’d been using and took off for the back. As she threw her apron and antennae in her locker she heard Maria’s voice trailing after her. “Remember, open and honest.”

Right, open and honest. Open and honest. It was like a mantra in her head as she tore off her uniform and threw on a T-shirt, Capri pants and sandals. She contemplated taking her hair down, but decided against it because they were going to be going in the new jeep. Liz smiled in spite of her nervousness as she thought of Max’s new car.

Car shopping with Max was one of the highlights of the last few weeks. Max and Isabel told their parents the old jeep had been stolen while they were at the movies, using the cover story Sheriff Valenti had helped them devise. He called the Evan’s a few days later to tell them it showed up at the bottom of a ravine. No bodies were reported, but he didn’t think they’d ever fine who did it. So, Max’s dad said he could look for a new used car, and he’d immediately invited Liz to accompany him. She’d tried her best to steer him toward other, more safe vehicles, but he’d stubbornly refused to be swayed from getting a new jeep. And when they’d come across the one he had now, he’d smiled triumphantly and told her it was fate. She couldn’t help but laugh at his enthusiasm.

Heading down stairs, she spotted Max immediately, sitting at the counter talking to Maria. He was wearing a pair of faded jeans and an older, almost threadbare white-t-shirt and Liz paused momentarily to get her breath back from where it had fled her body. As she continued to stare, the swinging door smacked her in the back, and two pairs of eyes turned her way, as she stumbled into the room.

Max immediately jumped up from his stool “Are you alright?”

Liz could see Maria laughing at her behind Max’s back, and staring pointedly at Max’s blue-jean clad body, she fanned herself as though suddenly too hot. Liz narrowed her eyes in warning before answering his inquiry. “Yeah. I just tripped.”

As she gazed up at him, she noticed that he, once again, looked tired and strained. Before she had a chance to question him, he was taking her hand. “Bye Maria,” he said as he led her out the glass doors.

Maria smiled in encouragement at Liz, and waved, “You two have fun.”

Max handed Liz into the new jeep then went around to the driver’s side. A few minutes later they were flying down the old highway and Liz was reminded of the last time they’d tried to take this trip. Max had ended up in the hospital and she’d almost lost Alex as her friend. The thought saddened her. Maybe if she’d just let him remain ignorant of the aliens, he wouldn’t be dead now. He still wouldn’t be in her life, but at least he’d be alive. She shook the thought away as it threatened to overwhelm her. She couldn’t change the past, and it didn’t do any good dwell over “ifs” and “might have beens”. Kyle had told her and Maria about his and Alex’s discussion in the cave with the blue crystals, and it made her feel marginally better that Alex wouldn’t have wanted to be kept in the dark, even at the expense of his life.

Liz looked at Max’s beautiful profile as she pushed a stray piece of hair behind her ear. They weren’t talking much because of the noise of the open jeep, but it wasn’t an uncomfortable silence. She closed her eyes and decided to relax and let the wind and music sooth her. That’s what this outing was about, after all. When Max had asked her to come with him on this evening picnic, he’d said he wanted to spend time with her without thinking about the threat that loomed over their heads. Just a chance to be two normal teenagers, going out on a date. They both needed it.

Coming to the turn off, Max drove another mile or so, then turned again onto a dirt road. A couple of minutes later, he pulled over and stopped the car. He came around to her side to help her out, and grabbing a blanket and picnic basket out of the back seat, motioned her to follow him. They climbed down a slope and she saw that they came to a little copse of trees. Moving forward, she suddenly stopped in looked around. There in the middle of it, was a creek. Small rocks lined the bed, and it looked clear and wonderfully fresh after driving through the desert. Turning to Max in delight, she found him contemplating her reaction with a small smile of his own.

“Max, this is so beautiful. How did you know it was here?”

“My dad used to bring us here when we were little. The land is owned by a friend of his at the law firm and he said we could come whenever we wanted. Isabel and I used to play for hours in the water.”

Setting the blanket and basket down, he said, “Why don’t you put the blanket out near the water. I’ll be right back.” He turned and she watched as he climbed back up toward the car. Liz spread the blanket, then moved the basket on top of it and sat down to wait for Max. She was enjoying the soothing sound of the water running over the rocks, when he appeared by her side, carrying a portable CD player and several CD’s. Setting them down, he sat beside her. Liz chose a CD and turned to find Max looking at her in inquiry. “So, do you want to eat, or would you rather play for a while?”

Liz smiled at him. “Let’s eat, then we can work it off afterward.” Max nodded and pulled picnic basket over. They emptied it onto the blanket and took their time eating. Max’s mom had helped him put a simple dinner together, and even provided apple pie for desert, one of the few things she could cook without a problem. They talked as they ate, enjoying each other’s company and relaxing for the first time in over a month. Everything had been such strain, it felt good just to do something as normal as having a picnic. Well, as normal as you could get when one of you is dousing apple pie with Tobasco sauce.

After finishing their meal, Max leaned over, untied his shoes, pulled off his socks and rolled up his jeans, as Liz slipped off her sandals. Allowing Max to help her to her feet, they made their way into the water and proceeded to play. Laughing and splashing, they ran and explored and generally had fun, a rare occurrence in their complicated lives. When they finally returned to the blanket, it was two wetter, but much happier people that looked at each other as they dried their feet and legs and put their shoes back on.

“Thank you, Max for bringing me here. It’s been fun.” Liz smiled as she watched him try to roll his wet blue jeans down. Finally, she couldn’t stand it anymore. She reached over and started helping him.

Max looked at the top of her shiny brown head, and answered, “You’re welcome. I just wanted us to stop worrying for a while, you know. Just be us, and not two people trying to save the world. Before we go, I have one more request.”

Liz had finished unrolling his jeans and looked up to see him staring at her hopefully. “Dance with me?”

Liz felt a small fizzle of unease, but couldn’t find the heart to say no. “OK.”

Max changed the CD, then lifted her to her feet. Taking her left hand in his right, he put his other arm around her waist and started swaying gently to the music. Liz rested her head on his broad chest and tried to relax. This was heaven. She’d almost forgotten what it was like to be held in his arms, and the feeling was enough to bring tears to her eyes. How had she lived so long without this? They stayed that way for a while, content to hold one another, when Max gently pulled her away so he could look at her. Dusk was approaching and she was surprised to find herself able to see his shimmering eyes clearly. Speaking softly, he said, “Thanks, Liz. Thanks for coming with me today. I really needed this. I really need you.” Before Liz could reply, his hands came slowly to either side of her face, and he stared at her lovingly.

Liz felt a stab of panic. Oh, God, he’s going to kiss me, she thought wildly, every muscle in her body tensing. She’d been so happy just to be in his arms that she’d forgotten to be afraid, and now it all came rushing back to her in a wave. She looked down trying to regain her composure, but the change in her demeanor communicated itself to him and Max hesitated for a moment waiting to see if she would say anything or pull away. When she didn’t, he started to lower his lips toward hers.

“I can do this, I can do this,” she’d been chanting to herself, but when the moment arrived, she lost her nerve. Turning her head so his lips grazed her cheek, Liz dropped her gaze in embarrassment and pulled out of his arms. Unable to face him, she lowered herself to blanket and quickly began to re-pack the picnic basket. “We…uh…. really should be getting back, you know. You said you had an early shift, right? And…I…” Liz couldn’t shut up. It was as though her mouth had disconnected from her brain. She kept going as she continued to gather their things until Max finally stopped her. Pulling her gently to her feet, he said, “Liz. Liz, stop. It’s OK.” He looked down at her, but she wouldn’t meet his gaze. “I understand.”

Managing to get a grip on her rocketing emotions, Liz finally lifted her eyes to his. The look in them was a conflicting mixture of understanding, disappointment, resignation and love. “I’m sorry,” he said softly. “I know it’s too soon. I just….miss you.”

Liz felt horrible. He’d been so wonderful, so happy about sharing this special place with her and she’d freaked out on him. As he let go of her arms and leaned over to grab the CD player, Liz could hear Maria’s voice in her head and she realized she was going to have to tell him the truth, no matter how hard it was. They’d promised to be honest and she couldn’t be the one to break that promise. “No, Max,” she said, causing him to stand upright and look at her. Liz’s expression was contrite as she continued. “I’m the one who’s sorry. I shouldn’t have pulled away like that. It’s just….I mean, I wanted you to kiss me….but,” Liz hesitated, unable to find the words to tell him her fears. As he waited patiently, Liz turned away, wrestling with her emotions, until she finally made herself speak. “I was….afraid. Afraid of having flashes.” She turned back to find him staring at her in confusion. “Why?” Max felt his own sense of panic as he asked the question. The thought that she might not want to have that connection with him hadn’t occurred to him.

Liz wanted the ground to open up and swallow her, as she saw his trepidation. God, how was she supposed to tell him this? Lowering her eyes, she finally blurted out, “Because I was afraid of what I might see.” She lowered her voice to a whisper. “I was afraid I might see you…and Tess…you know…together.” Liz forced herself to look in his eyes as she finished, but wished she hadn’t. He looked like someone had punched him in the gut. As she watched, he looked down at the ground, but not before she saw the tears gathering in his eyes. Liz’s heart twisted and she stepped forward to touch his arm, but he quickly stepped back and reached down to gather the blanket, basket and CD player in his hands. “I…we need to get going.” His voice was hollow and strained. “It’s late.”

Liz watched as he walked away, her heart in a million pieces at her feet. She’d done it. It was exactly what she was afraid of. Liz felt her own tears forming, but she ruthless forced them back. Trudging after him, she found him waiting to help her up the hill, a flashlight in his hand. He must have had it in the basket, she thought. Liz looked at him, but he wouldn’t return her gaze, waiting for her to precede him as he shown the flashlight ahead of her. When they reached the jeep, he threw everything in the back and took a moment to raise the top. As Liz fastened her seat belt, he climbed in and started the engine. Making a quick U-turn, they took off down the highway.

The drive back was the antithesis of the drive there. No words were spoken, and the music seemed out of place in the mournful atmosphere. Liz stared out the window, willing herself not to cry. She was not going to break down until she was in her own room. Then, she would cry until she drowned. She just had to hold out a little longer.

When Max finally pulled up in front of the Crash Down, Liz turned to face him, but he was staring straight ahead, just as he’d done the whole trip back. “Max, I….” Liz trailed off as he refused to meet her gaze. The tears she’d been fighting sprang to the surface, and she turned away to climb out of the jeep, hoping he’d drive away before she lost it completely. She was shutting the door, when his voice stopped her. “Liz.”

Turning hesitantly to face him, she saw that he still wouldn’t meet her eyes. Staring out the windshield, he spoke softly, his voice thick with emotion. “When we kissed, the things you saw…and felt, came from my heart.” His head turned her way, but he still refused to look at her. “And Tess was never in my heart. Not really. There was only room for one.” Turning back to the windshield, he put the jeep in gear, and as Liz stepped back, he pulled away. She watched with a heavy heart until he turned the corner, then slowly made her way inside.

Conversation Part 6

“Liz. Liz honey. It’s going to be OK.” Maria handed her a tissue, as she lay on her side in bed staring at nothing. Maria had arrived fifteen minutes ago after a distraught Liz called her at Michael’s to tell her what happened on the date.

“How’s it going to be OK, Maria,” Liz’s voice was hoarse from crying. “You didn’t see his face. I hurt him so much.”

“I know. But, you had to tell him.”

“How am I ever going to face him, again.” Liz rolled her eyes hopelessly. “What am I saying? He’ll probably never want to see me again.”

“Whoa, Liz.” Maria pulled on her arm until she turned to face her. “You’re losing your grip on reality here,” she said bluntly. “This is Max we’re talking about. The guy whose loved you since third grade. The guy who still loved you, even when he thought you slept with someone else. Isn’t that what he said?”

Liz nodded reluctantly sitting up in the bed. “Yeah.”

“Well then, as I see it, you have two choices. You can lie here and wallow in self-pity, or you can go over to his house and work this out.” Maria looked at her and said gently, “ The question is…is that what you want?”

Liz stared back, her mind a jumble of indecision. Was it what she wanted? She wasn’t sure any more. She’d been burned by this fire so many times, but as a picture of Max the way he’d looked when he left flashed in her mind, she suddenly knew she had to find a way to breach the gap. The unbelievable sadness she’d seen in his eyes compelled her. “You’re right. I need to talk to him.” Reaching out to hug her best friend, Liz said, “Thanks, Maria. You always seem to know just what to say. How did you get so smart?”

“Please! I have an emotionally repressed alien boyfriend and my best friend’s alien boyfriend slept with his alien ex-wife! I should have my own talk show.” She smiled as Liz finally laughed.

“Can I borrow your car?” Liz asked as she hopped off the bed and began searching for her shoes. “I’ll bring it back later.”

“Yeah, just drop me off at Michael’s and we’ll pick it up in the morning.” Maria finally found them under the bed.

“Thanks.” Liz slipped the sandals on, checked her face in the mirror, and they climbed out the window.


As Liz approached Max’s bedroom window, she tried to breathe more slowly. She was so nervous, she was practically hyperventilating. Driving over in Maria’s car, she’d practiced what she was going to say over and over, but as she finally stopped outside the window, she couldn’t remember a word of it. Cautiously looking through the glass where the curtain was slightly pulled back, she saw that Max was awake. He was dressed in a pair of long cotton pajama boxers and was sitting on the edge of his bed, his hands over his face, elbows on his knees. As she watched, she saw that his shoulders were trembling and he was breathing heavily. Concern replaced trepidation as she realized that something other than their conversation must have caused this. Liz tapped on the glass to get his attention, but he didn’t respond. He seemed caught up in whatever had upset him, and she began to worry in earnest. Hoping she wouldn’t wake up his parents or Isabel, Liz knocked harder, and was relieved when his head turned toward the window. Sighing and rubbing his hands over his face, Max walked toward the window, ready to tell Michael to get lost. He stopped short when he saw Liz standing there, then slowly reached out and undid the lock.

“Liz, what are you doing here?” He stepped back after he opened the window.

Liz’s heart dropped when he made no move to help her in. She climbed onto the sill and hopped down into his bedroom. Looking up at him, she was disturbed by the look in his eyes. Max’s face was completely devoid of emotion, and to anyone else he would seem fine. But Liz knew every nuance of his expression and she could see the underlying tension and fatigue. Something was going on. “I came to talk to you. Are you all right?” she asked in concern.

Max turned away from her perceptive gaze and automatically reached for the shirt hanging on his computer chair. “Yeah,” he said still not looking at her. “Is this about earlier, because there’s nothing to talk about. I asked you to be honest, and you were.” His voice was dull and lifeless and Liz started to feel sick to her stomach at his indifference.

Swallowing nervously, Liz answered, “It was about earlier, but it doesn’t matter right now.” Trying to get him to look at her, she moved forward, “Tell me what happened.”

“Nothing.” He toyed with a stack of CD’s on his desk. “Nothing happened. You shouldn’t be here. It’s late.”

The sick feeling in the pit of her stomach intensified. He was starting to scare her. Whatever had happened was causing him to shut down. It reminded her of the night he came to tell her he wanted to take a step back from their relationship when Michael got sick. He was so remote that night, only his voice betraying his emotion. But she knew he was just as upset as she was. It was one way he dealt with pain. “Max, please tell me what’s wrong. I can see how upset you are.” She touched his arm and felt him tremble before he moved away.

“I….I just had a bad dream. That’s all.” He finally turned to face her and Liz could see that the façade was beginning to crack. His eyes were hollow and there was a strained look to his mouth.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Liz said, feeling somewhat relieved that it wasn’t a more alien-related crisis.

Max shook his head. “No. You should go,” he said again, obviously wanting her to leave so he could deal with the dream on his own, but Liz was determined to make him tell her. After what happened on their date, she couldn’t just leave without trying to help.

“Max, I’m not leaving. Was it about Michael or Isabel?” She looked up at him with determination.

Max, realizing that she meant what she said, turned away from her with a sigh, and crossing to the other side of the room, sat down on the edge of the bed, hands between his knees as he stared blindly at the floor. “I started having them a few weeks ago. The night I realized the baby was probably born.” Liz felt a stab of shock go through her. Oh, God, she hadn’t even remembered…..

“I have it every night….or every night that I sleep. It always starts out the same. We’re all sitting in the Crash Down. Me and you, Maria and Michael, Isabel, and for some reason, our parents, and Maria’s mom. Oh and Kyle and his Dad are all there.” Max glanced at her briefly, then looked down again. “We’re sitting around eating and talking. It’s just an ordinary day.” He stopped, shaking his head in disbelief. “Then….there’s this big flash and…suddenly I’m outside.” Max ‘s voice started to tremble. “ Me and Michael and Isabel are surrounded by these….I don’t know what they are. They’re from our planet and…they’re like people… but not. Sort of like energy…I don’t know how to describe it,,” he said, running rough hands through his hair in frustration. “Anyway….we’re outside and we’re fighting. They’re our enemies…and they’re killing everyone. People are dead all around us, and we’re trying to fight them off but….they’re too strong.” His voice was hoarse now with emotion, and he was caught up in the horror of the visions inside his head.

“Isabel always dies first. It isn’t always the same. Sometimes, it’s a blast that puts a hole through her. Sometimes she just disintegrates…right in front of me. Then Michael. The same thing.” Closing his eyes against the image, Max took a shaky breath and continued. “Eventually, I’m by myself, and everyone is dead. There’s no one left on earth alive but me…..and I’m surrounded… bodies. The bodies of my family…..Maria….Michael and Isabel….and you.” Staring down at the carpet again, his eyes remained dry as the tears he suppressed for so long began to choke him. “You’re always right in front of me. I kneel over you and there’s blood running down….your face.” He turned his hands palms up, and looked at them as though seeing her blood. “I’m crying and….I look up…..and……someone is walking toward me. He’s got on some kind of uniform, and a helmet and he stops in front of me….I know he’s the leader because…..I just know… and I can feel his hate for me.” Max shuddered and closed his eyes again briefly, before saying in resignation. “I kneel there waiting for him to kill me, and he finally lifts his hands up to take off his helmet…..and it’s my face” Leaning over to cover his face with his hands, Max whispered in a strangled voice, “ It’s …my son.”

The silence was deafening. Liz had been standing quietly by the window while he spoke. As the dream unfolded, she’d listened in shock, her hands eventually coming up to cover her mouth. But she couldn’t stop her gasp of horror as that last painful sentence left his mouth. His son. He’d called it a dream, but it was a nightmare. Liz felt sick as she looked at his distraught figure. He’d been having this dream for weeks. And he’d never said a word. She saw him practically every day, and she never knew he was in such torment. She’d noticed he seemed tired, but had attributed it to the strain of all of the chaos of practicing powers, and meetings and work and…everything.

As she stood there, Liz suddenly had a flash of insight of what had been truly happening since Tess left. While she held onto pain and hurt of what she thought Max had done to her, she never saw what he was doing to himself. He’d never once mentioned his son in her presence, she realized. Even though she’d told him in her room that day that he didn’t have to hide his feelings, he’d known she didn’t really mean it. He knew her so well. She hadn’t even thought about when his son was supposed to be born. Hadn’t wanted to acknowledge it. And he’d let her. He’d kept all the pain and guilt and suffering to himself and only shown her his love. Liz looked at the carpet, the guilt nearly overwhelming as she realized what she’d been doing to them. Instead of moving forward and letting go of the pain of the last year, she’d been letting it fester, holding at arm’s length, the only man she would ever truly love. The only man on this planet or any other who knew her soul and loved her anyway. He had hurt her, had asked her forgiveness and she’d lied to him. Had said she didn’t blame him. But deep in her heart, she had…and he knew.

Liz realized she had a choice. She still didn’t know what the future held but she knew she was at a crossroads. She could choose to allow the tragedy of the last year to rule the rest of her life….or she could choose Max. Choose love over fear. Choose unknown joy over loneliness. There really was no choice.

Liz stepped forward toward the bed. She felt truly free for the first time in…so long she couldn’t remember. Now she had to free Max. Free him so they could have the life they’d given up. The life they were meant to have.

Moving to kneel in front of him, Liz put her hands on either side of his face, and gently lifted it up. The blankness of his stare spoke volumes about the torment he was going through, and her heart ached that he had been going through it alone. Willing him to see her faith in him, she said “Max. It’s OK. We won’t let it happen. We’re going to save him. We’re going to save your son.” She leaned forward and finally put her lips on his whispering, “I promise.” He sat there for a moment, not responding, not breathing, and then suddenly, he was clutching her to him. Liz lifted her head and, looking at him, saw the blankness had finally been replaced by despair. She stood up, and he laid his head against her stomach as she caressed his trembling shoulders, feeling the wetness seeping into her shirt. Laying her head on top of his own, she whispered words of comfort and love, until the shaking lessened and then ceased altogether. Max finally lifted his head, wiping his face with the back of his hand. Pulling gently, he parted his legs and brought her down on his knee looking her in the eyes. “I’m sorry, Liz.”

Looking at him regretfully, she said, “I’m the one who’s sorry. Sorry, that you felt you had to go through this alone. It’s my fault.” Max opened his mouth to protest, but Liz stopped him. “Let me finish. I’ve been pushing you away because of my fear. I was afraid to let you in again, because I didn’t want to get hurt.” Max looked down guiltily, but she lifted his face with her finger. “ I realize now that I wasn’t letting it go. I was holding on to the pain and punishing you at the same time.” She leaned forward and kissed him lightly on the lips. “And you’ve been punishing yourself.” Getting up from his lap, she sat down next to him and took his hands in hers. Max looked at their locked fingers, as she said, “We have to stop it.” He lifted his head, and her eyes traced his beautiful face. “I love you.” She smiled slightly as his eyes widened. “I love you and I’ll do everything in my power to help find your son.”

Max looked at her with a myriad of emotions playing across his expressive features, not the least of which was hope. “Liz, are you sure, because…”

Liz cut him off with a brief kiss. Looking deeply into his luminous eyes, she said, “I’m sure Max. No doubts.” Then she put her lips to his, hoping to show him what was in her soul so he could see that she meant every word. He seemed hesitant at first, only lightly returning her kisses, but as she deepened them, he responded in kind, bringing his hands up to cup her face in a familiar gesture.

As they continued to kiss, Liz slowly realized that something wasn’t right. Something was missing, but the feel of his lips and hands were distracting her. When they paused for a breath, she suddenly knew what it was. Pulling back slightly, she looked at him. Max saw her expression and his own grew worried. “What’s wrong?” he inquired in a slightly breathless voice.

“You’re blocking me.” Liz’s eyes shimmered with tears as she stared at him. Max looked down and dropped his hands self-consciously. “I thought that’s what you wanted,” he said quietly.

Liz looked at his bent head, remorse making her chest ache. The pain they’d suffered had them so wary of each other’s feelings, it made her sad to realize just how far they’d strayed from the innocence of their first love. At the same time, it made them stronger, and she had to make him see that she had truly let go of the past. Lifting his face, she looked at him with her heart wide open, her eyes shining with the depth of her love. “No Max. I need you. I need to see all of you. Please….” Leaning forward, she kissed him again, this time pouring into it all of the passion and love she’d kept locked in her heart since she deceived him that night so long ago.

Time stood still for a second, then she felt his arm come tightly around her waist, and his other hand came up to cup the back of her head under her hair. His lips took over, their kisses slowly building in intensity. She almost moaned in relief when she felt their connection come to life, all of his emotions pouring through healing the last of her wounds. Passion, guilt, remorse, gratitude, and so much love, she thought her heart would burst with it. When the flashes came, she welcomed them, each one a testament of their commitment to each other. As they faded, Liz realized that they were lying on his bed. Awareness of her environment came slowly, as she felt his lips spreading hot kisses over the exposed skin of her neck and collar bone, and she found her own hands moving over the bare skin under his tee shirt. His mind drugging kisses had momentarily made her forget where they were. She wanted to stay here forever, safe in his arms, but she knew they couldn’t continue on this path just yet. For one thing, they were in his parent’s house, and for another, she didn’t think they were quite ready to take that final step. Their emotions were still new and fragile after the hell they’d endured, and plunging into a sexual relationship would only complicate things. They had their whole lives ahead of them now. She knew that without a doubt. Nothing would ever come between them again.

Max lifted his head to stare down at her flushed face. Trying to control his accelerated breathing, he gently pushed a stray hair from her forehead, and let his eyes roam her beautiful features. He was so thankful that she was giving him another chance, his heart felt whole for the first time in almost a year. He’d been half a person, lost and miserable, and she’d given him back his soul. He vowed to himself that he’d do everything in his power to remain worthy of the gift. Gazing into her dark eyes he said softly, “I love you.”

Liz smiled. “I know,” she answered dreamily, blissfully happy to be able to feel him again after being denied for so long. Max’s mouth turned up at the corner at her answer, completely aware of what she meant. Sitting up, and bringing her up with him, he asked, “Will you stay for a while? I just want to hold you a little longer.” Liz nodded, unable to resist his plea. “ But you can’t let me fall asleep, OK. I don’t want our parents to freak out on us.”

“I might be able to think of something to keep you awake.” He said it with such a straight face, Liz had to laugh. Scooting up on the bed, they lay down, Max with his head on a pillow, Liz lying on his chest. They stayed that way for a while, content to just be in the other’s presence, thankful for a quiet moment before the storm. Just as she was drifting toward sleep, Max’s voice came softly. “Liz Parker, will you marry me when we turn 19?” Liz’s eyes flew open, and she looked up, resting her chin on her hand, expecting to see him smiling. Instead, she saw that he was totally serious. Laying her head back down, she smiled giddily into his chest. “Yes.” She felt his smile even though she wasn’t looking at him. “At the Elvis Chapel?” Liz laughed and kissed the hand that lay near her on his chest. “Yes.” This time she felt his arms tighten around her briefly before his lips kissed the top of her head. “OK.” Liz tightened her own arms around him sighed with happiness as she closed her eyes. They still had obstacles to face, but they were together, and that was the way it was meant to be. It was destiny.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 4-Nov-2001 12:11:47 AM ]
posted on 4-Nov-2001 12:09:13 AM
Thanks for the compliments. Here is part 7- Conclusion.

The Conversation Part 7

Liz leaned forward toward the mirror as she put the finishing touches on her mascara. Screwing the cap back on, she cursed to herself when it slipped out of her hand and hit the floor. Leaning down to retrieve it, she made a face. “I can’t hold on to anything today,” she thought remembering the Will Smith burger she’d dropped on a customer at lunch today. God, how embarrassing. “I need to get a grip. If it happens, it happens. I’m over-thinking this.” She smiled slightly as she heard Maria’s laughing at her in her head.

Deciding to finish her make-up later, she stepped into her bedroom. Picking up the bottle of nail polish, Liz sat on her bed, and shoving cotton separators between her toes, she proceeded to paint them. As she worked, Liz thought back over the last several months leading up to this night. She and Max were going on a date. It wasn’t the first date they’d had since their evening picnic that ended so painfully, but it was special. Liz blew lightly on her nails as she lifted her leg and started on her other foot.

It was January, eight months since Tess left. Six months since she and Max had finally found there way back to each other. The time had flown by, it seemed to her. They still hadn’t come up with a way to find Max’s son, but the hope was still there. Max, Michael and Isabel had finally broken down and told Brody about their alien status. They realized they were going to need his resources if they were going to keep track of any activity going on, and it just seemed like the right thing to do. He hadn’t really been all that shocked, and had actually been sort of relieved since they seemed so human. His imagination was definitely worse than the reality. He was more than willing help, eager to assist in stopping an alien invasion if he could. Despite Brody’s assistance however, there was really no activity to report. Whatever was happening, it was beyond their capability to detect. The only good news was that the three aliens had finally found out how their powers worked together. They’d stumbled on it by accident during a practice session, but even as they realized what they were capable of, they also realized what was missing without Tess. Now they had to work on how to get around their handicap. It was frustrating, and painstaking, and since they were in the middle of another school year, it was even more difficult to find time.

Liz made sure her nails were dry before hopping off the bed to put the polish back. She grabbed the bottle of scented lotion from her dresser and went to stand in front of her vanity. Slipping her robe off, she stood naked before the mirror, and squeezed some lotion onto her palm. Starting with her neck, she massaged the lotion in, hoping Max would like the scent. It was new, as was her dress, shoes and even lingerie for tonight. Tonight was the night she was sure they were going to take the next step in their relationship. Since the night they’d let go of the past and renewed their love, they’d taken it slowly, building a solid foundation of friendship and respect as well as passion and love in the last several months. Max had let her set the pace, never pushing her beyond where she was willing to go. Not that there hadn’t been some pretty heavy make-out sessions. Liz felt her a tingle run through her. Looking at her body in the mirror, she ran lotion over her breasts and down her stomach. She’d never thought of herself as particularly alluring. She was too skinny, and her chest wasn’t exactly up to Isabel standards. Max didn’t seem to agree, however. Due to their renewed connection, she knew exactly what his thoughts were on that subject. They came through loud and clear every time they kissed or even touched. To him, she was beautiful, and he wanted her. A lot. Sitting on the bed to lotion her legs, Liz thought about her and Max’s physical relationship with mixed emotions. There had been some ups and downs leading up to tonight.

Max loved touching her. He took every opportunity to do it and she felt the same about him. It seemed to be physically impossible to keep her hands off him whenever he was in the vicinity, even if it was just to run her fingers down his arm, as she passed his table at the Crash Down while serving another customer. Sometimes they were content to just hold each other, sitting in the Jeep looking at the stars, or watching a video lying on the couch. Sometimes they weren’t. It was after one of their marathon kissing sessions that she’d lost her mind and asked him a question that she couldn’t get out of her head.

Liz was a scientist, but sometimes she cursed her inquisitive brain. They were sitting in the Jeep outside the Crash Down, and after stopping to calm their raging hormones, she tentatively brought up a subject that had been avoided before now. She and Max discussed everything, including Tess and his son. Liz had no lingering negative feelings about their child, and was just as concerned about getting him out of Tess’s evil clutches as Max was. No, this was about the night he and Tess had sex. It wasn’t a subject that Max was ever going to bring up, and Liz didn’t really dwell on it either, except that she was curious about the act itself. She wanted to know if it was different from human sex. She knew that Max and Tess were mostly human, but she couldn’t help but wonder if their “alienness” made it different. So….she asked him. Liz smiled a little as she remembered the look on his face. She couldn’t have shocked him more if she’d ripped off her clothes and jumped on the hood of the Jeep and started singing in Japanese. When he’d finally managed to speak, he’d asked her why she wanted to know. Liz told him she was just curious, and that he didn’t have to be uncomfortable. Max, however, was extremely uncomfortable, and tried to avoid answering her question.

Liz frowned as she pulled her robe back on and made her way back to the bathroom. Why had she persisted? Maybe she had a masochistic side that was just beginning to show itself, but whatever the reason, she hadn’t left it alone, and finally, he told her. The phrase, “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it” came to mind. He said it was basically like human sex except for the culmination, which apparently was like being struck by lightening or something and lasted quite a while. All Liz could do was say, “Oh”, and the conversation ended for the night.

The subject was never brought up again, but Liz couldn’t quite forget about it. She knew Max loved her. Liz had no doubts on that score, because she knew his heart as well as her own. She also knew that he wanted to make love with her. That wasn’t what bothered her. Liz looked in the mirror as she lighted dusted color on her cheeks. What bothered her were her own feelings of inadequacy. How do you top sex that ended with lightening running through your body? Liz shook her head in disgust at her own stupidity. Why did I have to know? Maria had asked her that same question. Liz grinned at her reflection as she thought of Maria’s reaction to her revelation.

“Oh my God, you’re kidding! Did they, like smoke or something? I mean like did their bodies actually give off sparks?” Maria was standing in the middle of Liz’s bedroom looking at Liz in shock.

“I don’t know, Maria,” Liz said in exasperation. “I didn’t exactly ask for the details, you know. After he told me that part, I…I could barely look at him.” Liz rolled her eyes. “What was I thinking? I did not need to know that. What is wrong with me?”

The conversation just went down hill after that. Maria was no help. She couldn’t get over the fact that they’d had electrical alien sex, and had rushed off to find out if Michael knew about it. Liz took one last look in the mirror before returning to her room. Once again slipping off her robe, she slid her new panties on, pulled sheer thigh hose over her legs, and picked up her dress. It was midnight blue and made of a soft material that clung in all the right places. Stepping into it carefully, she pulled it up, and slid her arms into the spaghetti straps. After sliding the side zipper up, Liz stopped to stare at her reflection. The dress came to just above her knees and fitted closely to the lines of her body without being too tight. She smoothed the material over her breasts and thought about Max’s hands touching her the same way. Liz hadn’t allowed her doubts get in the way of their relationship.

After their conversation in the jeep, things had been a little awkward the next time they saw each other, but eventually they’d gotten over it, and everything was back to normal. That is until the next painful discussion took place. This time, it wasn’t Liz who started it. They were out on her balcony, sitting on lawn chairs, talking about their future. Graduation approached, and thoughts of college and careers loomed their ugly heads pretty often now. Max had been completely serious about marrying her when they turned 19, and Liz didn’t have a problem with that at all. She still had dreams of becoming a biologist, but she knew they would have to stay close to Roswell because of the uncertainty of what could happen, and Max felt guilty that she was giving up Harvard to stay with him. Liz had assured him that being with him and having a family was just as important to her, and eventually, she would get to pursue her dreams. Max had had turned his head away, but not before she saw the anguish in his expression, and she’d gotten up and sat on the edge of his chair to ask him if he was all right.

It was then he’d explained to her that he’d given having a family a lot of thought and just hadn’t found a way to tell her his fears. Looking at her sadly, he gone on to tell her that he didn’t think he could bring another child into this world without knowing if it would survive. Even though he wanted to have children with her as much as she did with him, the pain of having created a child that would have certainly died if he hadn’t let it go to his home planet was too much. Even though Liz was human, he didn’t want to take the chance. Not until they could find out for sure that their child could survive on earth…which might be never.

Liz had been devastated. She had no idea that he felt this way, and realizing the implications, she’d gotten up off the chair and went to stand by the ledge, her shoulders shaking as she tried to hold in her tears. Max had come up behind her, and whispering his regret, held her while she sobbed out her grief for the children she’d lost into his chest. When she’d finally been able to get a hold of herself, she’d lifted her head, and looked into his stricken features. Feeling sorry that she’d added to his guilt, Liz had tearfully assured him of her love and that she still wanted a life with him even though it meant that they might not have a family. They held each other for a long time afterward, until Max had to leave or get in serious hot water with her parents. Before he left, Max had pulled her close and told her once again how sorry he was, and Liz was troubled by the expression on his face. Her fears were confirmed when he didn’t make an effort to contact her the next day. She could almost physically feel him pulling away. Liz knew his guilt was overwhelming him, but she thought that his faith in her love for him would eventually bring him back on his own.

Sitting at her vanity to put on her necklace and earrings, Liz smiled again as the events of the following day played out in her mind. When he still didn’t call the second day, at first she was worried. Then she was irritated and then she got pissed. Liz found out from Isabel that their parents were leaving for the weekend to visit friends and that Max was home alone. Fuming all the way over there, Liz banged on the door and stood furiously on the step waiting for him to open it. When he finally did, she backed him into the house and all the way up the stairs outside his room with a finger in his chest, blasting him for not coming to see her, and not calling and not having enough faith in her, and everything else she could think of. At first he’d just stood there in shock while she raged, but eventually his own temper flared and before they knew it, they were yelling heatedly at each other. Liz had turned to leave in a huff, when Max grabbed her arm to swing her around to face him. Their emotions were so high that their connection instantly flared to life, and they both looked at his hand before looking back into the other’s eyes. The anger in the air turned to lust in an instant. Max stepped forward as Liz threw herself at him and they were suddenly locked in a hot kiss.

Combing her hair and pulling it up into a twist, Liz felt a bolt of renewed lust shoot through her at the thought of what they’d almost done in his hallway. Her shirt had been laying on the ground somewhere and he’d actually been in the act of removing her bra while simultaneously kissing her nipple through it. Max had touched her before, but this was the first time he’d gone beyond that. Liz was just as overcome as he was, trying to frantically yank his shirt open while also trying to undo the button on his pants. It was then that his parents decided to come home unannounced, his mom having become ill from something they ate with traveling. Max had almost literally dragged Liz into his bedroom when he heard the door opening, and they’d stood there, listening with dread to see if they’d been caught. Finally, when they realized that his parents hadn’t heard them, Max looked at Liz standing there holding her shirt in her hand, and his mouth had started twitching. Liz looked back at him and her own sense of humor kicked in and they both started laughing at their own lack of control. Max helped her on with her shirt, and Liz had looked at him earnestly, making sure he realized that she meant it when she said she wanted to be with him no matter what the circumstances. If the only choices were children with another man, or she and Max alone for the rest of their lives, then to her, the choice was clear. He seemed reassured and promised that he wouldn’t fail to come see her again. When he did come to the Crash Down the next day however, he was somewhat remorseful, having realized that he’d almost taken her virginity on the floor outside his bedroom. But Liz reminded him that she’d been right along with him for the ride, and he’d better quit apologizing for things before she got really mad. He’d gone to sit in his usual booth, grinning like an idiot.

That was a week ago. Things had been hectic since then. Max was working extra hours at the UFO center and with her own job and school, they’d barely had time to talk much less see each other. When Max asked her out, she’d jumped at the chance, eagerly saying yes when he told her to dress up because it was going to be a special date. Now, as she stood in her bedroom, at last done with her preparations, she couldn’t help but be nervous. Liz knew what he meant by special. She could see it in his face and hear it in his voice when he’d asked her out. She also knew she was ready. Ready to take make love to the man of her dreams. She just hoped it wouldn’t be a let down for him. Mentally shaking herself for her negative thoughts, Liz headed downstairs to meet Max.

The Conversation Part 8

“Did you have to tell her the truth? I mean, couldn’t you have just said there was no difference?” Michael and Max were standing at the counter of the Crash Down while Max waited for Liz. “I didn’t want to tell her, but she wouldn’t let it go, and I just….” Max shook his head his eyes looking somewhat desperate as he explained the situation. “I couldn’t lie to her,” he said finally. “We promised we’d be honest no matter what, and I…just couldn’t lie to her.”

Michael looked at his pathetic friend and his lips twisted sardonically. “Well, I hate to be in your shoes tonight. You know she’s been thinking about it, and God knows Maria was busting my ass for not telling her…” Michael stopped abruptly as the swinging door opened to show a decked out Liz. Max looked at Michael as he stopped then swung around to find Liz staring at him.

Liz had pushed the swinging door to the Crash Down open but stopped short when she saw Max standing by the counter talking to Michael. God, he looked better than anyone had a right too. Her mouth literally watered at the sight of him in charcoal gray dress pants, and a black button down shirt. As he turned around to look directly at her, she lowered her eyes shyly at the appreciation that transformed his features. He made her feel so beautiful. Max turned to say something to Michael, then came forward to stand in front of her, a small smile lightening his usually serious expression as he leaned forward to kiss her on the lips. “You look great.” Liz gazed up at him as he moved back. “You too,” she said in a dazed voice feeling somewhat overwhelmed by the look in his eyes and feel of his lips. Boy, this was going to be a long night if she couldn’t even hold it together for one minute. Mentally shaking her head to clear it, she said, “Um, I have to tell my parents I’m leaving. They think I’m going to Maria’s after our date to spend the night. I’ll be right back, OK?” At Max’s nod, she went back through the door and went up to the apartment to inform her parents that Max was here, and they were leaving. Walking back down, Liz felt guilty about lying to them, but she knew they would never let her stay out as late as she wanted if they thought she was still going to be with Max.

When she went back into the Crash Down, Max had his leather jacket on, and he reached for the coat she had draped over her arm, and helped her on with it. “Ready?” At her nod, he turned back to Michael to say goodbye. Michael slapped him on the back and said under his breath, “Good Luck, Man,” and Max frowned at him before turning to follow Liz out the door. He helped her into the Jeep, and as he buckled his seat belt she asked, “Where are we going for dinner?” Max just smiled mysteriously and said, “You’ll see,” and starting the engine, they took off.

As they drove, they talked about school and work, and their trip to Portales next weekend, then somehow they got on the subject of when they were kids. Max began telling her a story about how when he was much younger, his Dad wanted him to help build a cabinet for his mother. Apparently, little Max had taken it upon himself to correct his Dad’s poor carpentering skills while his back was turned, so both his parents thought his Dad was some kind of Bob Villa. Over the years Max had had to fix countless wood working mistakes, and now he kept wondering what his parents were going to think when he moved out and everything new his dad built fell apart. By the time they pulled to a stop, Liz was wiping tears of laughter from her eyes.

Their destination turned out to be a small Italian restaurant on the road to Artesia. Max explained that his Dad brought his Mom here every year on their anniversary, and she always raved about the food and the atmosphere. Apparently, she wasn’t exaggerating. The inside was small and quaint, and as they were led to their table, Liz was delighted to see that it was tucked away in an intimate corner, and covered by a checked cloth with candles for lighting and fresh flowers in a small vase. The food was excellent, and they talked quietly, holding hands and exchanging sweet kisses throughout dinner. By the time they were ready to leave, Liz had decided that this was going to be their anniversary restaurant as well. She sighed contentedly as they got back in the Jeep and pulled away. Looking at Max’s strong hands as they gripped the steering wheel, she wondered again where they were going. He’d steadfastly refused to tell her anything, just saying that it was a surprise, and she needed to be patient. At one point, Liz had tried to kiss it out of him, promising to do outrageous things to his body if he’d tell her, but he’d just stared at her with smoldering eyes and said that if she kept that up, they’d never make it where they were going and the surprise would be moot.

Liz subsided to her side of the car and tried to control her nervous excitement. She hadn’t let her doubts get in the way of having a good time tonight, but as they drove in companionable silence, her lingering insecurity about Tess and Max’s sexual encounter reared it’s ugly head again. The part that bothered her most was that even if Max was disappointed, he would never say anything. She would always be left to wonder if he was wishing for something more; not necessarily that he wanted to be with Tess, but that being with a human was just second best. And would he be able to hide something like that from her, with their connection the way it was. “I’m losing it,” she thought to herself. She needed to relax. Suddenly, Liz wished they’d just gotten it over with on the floor of his hallway. At least then, she didn’t have so much time to analyze everything to death. Forcing the pointless thoughts from her head, Liz made herself pay attention to where they were headed, but she realized she couldn’t tell in the dark and resigned herself to wait until they got there.

Finally, they turned into a driveway that kept going for a little ways, and when they stopped, it was in front of what appeared to be a cabin. Liz waited for Max to open the door, then looked at him inquiringly, but he just shook his head at her silent question, and helped her from the car. Looking down at her delicate high heels, and back at the wet, slippery sidewalk, he suddenly swung her up into his arms and carried her toward the cabin, praying that he didn’t fall on his ass and ruin his gallant gesture. When they finally reached the porch he lowered her feet to the ground staring into her dark eyes as he did so. Unable to resist, he lowered his head for a kiss, and Liz gripped his arm tightly as he caressed her lips with his own, and then shivered in reaction when he deepened it, slipping his tongue inside to explore her mouth. Feeling her shiver, Max raised his head and immediately apologized. “I’m sorry. It’s cold out here. Let’s get inside,” and he reached forward to unlock the door with his palm. Liz started to protest, but stopped as he ushered her in and flicked on the light.

The room they had entered was unbelievably luxurious compared to the rustic nature of the cabin outside. A fireplace and mantel took up one whole wood paneled wall, and pictures of outdoor scenes and Indian crafts decorated the rest. A thick carpet in southwestern colors covered the floor in front of the fireplace, and the theme was continued throughout the rest of the furnishings, including the large, comfortable looking couch with a dark red chenille afghan spread over the back. Liz looked back at Max who stood was closing the door behind them. “Max, this is so….how did you do this?” She walked further into the room so he could close the door. “You remember our picnic by the creek?” At her nod, he continued. “This house is behind the trees. You couldn’t see it from where we were, and you have to come a different way to get to the driveway. I knew no one was using it this weekend, and thought that we could have a little time alone.”

“Why don’t you light the candles while I get a fire going?” Max reached on top of the mantle and handed her the lighter. As Liz moved around the room, she realized that there were almost as many candles as she had on her balcony. Looking around some more, she spotted Max’s portable CD player and a stack of CD’s on one of the tables so she put one in. Turning back to where he was working on getting the fire going, she felt a combination of appreciation for his obvious thoughtfulness in having planned this special evening, and nervousness about what was about to happen. Trying to reign in her fears, Liz stepped over to the wall to turn out the light, than went to stand next to Max as the blaze in the fireplace came to life. She held her cold hands out toward its warmth and let the heat calm her.

Max silently removed her coat as well as his own and disappeared into another room with them. When he returned, he held two wineglasses and a bottle. Liz stared at him dubiously, remembering the one and only time he’d had any alcohol, and he looked up and grinned slightly at her expression, turning the bottle to show her that it was actually Sparkling Grape Juice. Liz smirked at him in return as he opened the bottle and filled the glasses, moving forward to hand hers to her.

As he continued to stare at her, the look in his eyes caused her stomach to flutter, and Liz raised the glass to her lips to hide her reaction. Max leaned forward as they set their glasses down on an end table to kiss her softly, then lightly ran his tongue over her lips, tasting the sweetness of the juice. Liz felt a stab of desire deep in her body at his sensuous gesture and she could only gaze at him dazedly when he pulled away slightly to look at her intently for a moment. This time their lips came together as if by some magnetic force, clinging and releasing only to cling again. As Max stepped closer, wrapping one arm around her waist and bringing the other hand up to cup her neck, Liz slid her own arms behind him. She opened her mouth to his invading tongue, touching it with her own. They both moaned at the contact, and Liz brought her hands up over his back to grasp his shoulders, while Max angled her head with his hand to gain better access. Her long hair fell down her back, his restless fingers having loosened the clip. Their kisses became deep and long now, causing the initial stab of desire Liz had felt to become an ache. She could feel Max’s burgeoning excitement as well, and it prompted another small moan to escape her.

That sound caused an answering surge of lust to shoot straight to Max’s already hardening flesh, but he forced himself to ease back from her, even though everything in him screamed for him to drag her to the couch and end this torture for both of them. They needed to talk first. He hadn’t meant for things to get this out of control so fast, but she was so beautiful, and he’d wanted her for so long, and she was just so….Liz.

Pulling back, he moved arms to hold her loosely around the waist and gaze down into her now questioning eyes. “Liz, I’m sorry.” Max swallowed painfully as he continued. “I..I don’t want you to think I just brought you here to….you know…I..” he forced himself to take a deep breath, trying to cool his body and make her understand at the same time. “I just wanted us to spend some time alone, and I wanted to talk about….things, but….” God, he thought. How lame was that. He’s trying to assure her that he didn’t bring her here to jump her bones, at the same time he was panting like he’d run a race, and his body wouldn’t make the first move toward calming down with her so near. Liz’s expression had become somewhat tense, and he kicked himself for making her feel that way.

Leading her to the couch, Max watched as she sat then he turned away to try and get a grip on himself before he brought up what was on his mind. Liz looked at his tense back, and her previous trepidation returned. “What did you want to talk about, Max?” Realizing that she was sitting on the edge of the couch twisting her hands, Liz forced herself to relax. Pulling the now useless clip from her hair, she slipped off her high heels and tucked her legs under her as she waited for him to answer her question.

Hearing the hesitancy in her voice, Max finally managed to regain some control and he turned to see her watching him somewhat warily. Man, he was making a mess of things. “We just didn’t have much time this week to talk, and I wanted to be sure that you weren’t having any second thoughts.” At her look of confusion, he rushed on. “ You know…about what we talked about the other night, ” looking down he continued., “about our future. I know you said you wanted to stay with me, and we’re planning our trip to Portales next weekend to check out ENMU, but if you decide that…you know…that’s not what you want after all….or ….you want to go to college somewhere farther away….I’ll understand.” He forced himself to look at her, hoping she could see that he meant what he was saying even though it would kill him to not be near her while they went to school. “I just want you to be sure you’re making the right choice. I want you to be with me,” he smiled his familiar half smile, “and eventually be Liz Evans, but you don’t have to give up being Liz Parker to do it. I fell in love with her a long time ago, and she’s more important to me than anything.” His smile disappeared as he continued, “ And I know what I said about our having a family is…hard, but….I just want you to be sure before we….go any farther,” he finished lamely. Realizing he may have just sealed his own lonely fate, he sat down next to her on the couch and stared at his hands as he waited for her to absorb what he’d said.

Liz looked at his rather dejected figure with a mixture of exasperation and tenderness. After everything they’d been through, she couldn’t believe he would still have doubts about her feelings. You’d think that somebody who could see into your soul would know better. Untucking her feet, she got up on her knees and grabbed his shoulders. Taking advantage of his surprise, she pushed him back on the couch and straddled his legs leaning down until she could look him square in the eye. “Max Evans, do you love me?”

Max looked up at the face that had haunted him since the third grade. “Yes,” he said somewhat breathlessly. Liz smiled at that. “Do you believe that I love you?” Still unable to pull his eyes away from her beautiful features, he answered again. “Yes.”

Liz leaned down and started planting light kisses on his forehead, his eyes… everywhere she could reach. “You know me well enough to know that I usually do exactly what I want to do, once I make up my mind, right?” Max nodded, his eyes closed in pleasure as her lips fluttered across his skin. “Then I want you to stop worrying about this, OK?” Max opened his eyes, to see her staring at him seriously. “I’m not giving up anything, Max. You are what I want. I’ve known that since the first time you touched me, since you healed me. Do you honestly think that I could just walk away from you… from us…and from everything that we know might happen, and live a normal life or find another man?” Liz continued to look intently at him as she spoke, trying to make him see the truth of her words.

Leaning forward again to press a soft kiss on his tempting lips, she whispered, “And I’m not letting you torture yourself by giving up on a family either.” Sitting up, she slid back and pulled him up with her, her heart breaking at the stricken look on his face. “I’m going to school to be a scientist, Max. A Molecular Biologist, and the schools we’ve looked at have excellent science departments, so I’m excited about that. But it will also help us figure out why your son couldn’t live on earth.” She leaned forward to caress his cheek with a gentle touch. “I want to do this, Max. For him, and for our own children. I know you’re afraid, but I also know that we can figure this out and have the life that we want.” She gently forced him to look at her sincere expression. “The life that you deserve, Max. We both do. I won’t let you blame yourself any more for what happened to us or to your son.” Sitting back once again, Liz continued trying to convince him of her logic. “We both had a hand in our misery last year, and I’m still not convinced that Tess wasn’t mind-warping you to make you think that your child couldn’t live here so she could get you back to your planet.” They’d had this discussion before, but although Max conceded that it could be true, it hadn’t assuaged his fears or his guilt. “But either way, it’s what I want to do; what I choose to do. Do you believe me?”

Max stared down into her beautiful, liquid eyes, and could only nod his acceptance. His heart was too full to speak. Pulling her close, he buried his face in her neck and inhaled her fragrance, thanking whoever was up there that they had given him this gift. He felt her lips in his hair, and her hands running soothingly over his back, and he opened his eyes and took a deep breath. Noticing that their position on the couch had caused her dress to ride up slightly, he glimpsed a length of bare thigh above her sheer hose. Suddenly, the feel of her soft body, and the sight of that silky skin made him want to ignore everything else he had planned, and get on with more exciting things. But he couldn’t do that. His talk with Michael earlier made him realize that he needed to make sure that Liz didn’t have any lingering doubts about his encounter with Tess.

Hating to even think about it, he nevertheless placed a soft kiss on her neck, and pulled away gently. “Let me fix the fire, OK?” Standing up, he moved to the fireplace and picked up the poker, trying to think of a way to bring up the subject. He stirred the fire, replaced the poker, then turned back to the couch to find her chewing her lip nervously, and staring off into space. Something about her expression confirmed his fears, and he sighed resignedly. “Liz, there’s something else I wanted to talk about. You know, the other night when you asked me about me and Tess….and I told you about the, uh….the …you know….” Avoiding her gaze, which had become one of tense surprise, Max kept going. “I, uh…just wanted to um….make sure you weren’t worried about what I said. Because we really didn’t….talk about it after that.” Forcing himself to look directly at her, he saw that she was staring at her lap, her expression hidden. Max took a step closer, and went on, wincing as his voice cracked. “You know, cause if you were worried about it….then….you shouldn’t. Be worried about it, I mean.” Max closed his eyes at the sound of his own stupidity. I should have just let this go, he thought. I should have just grabbed her and kissed her until we were too far gone to care about anything but getting naked. Taking a deep breath, he opened his eyes to see that she was still staring tensely at her hands.

Max walked over to the couch and pulled her to her feet, noticing how small she suddenly seemed with her shoes off and her head down. “Liz, what I’m trying to say is that it’s not something I think about ever, so I don’t want you to dwell on it either, OK?” There, he thought. I actually got a sentence out without stuttering. Max looked down at her shiny head, and waited for some sign that she’d heard him.

A small sigh escaped her, and when Liz finally lifted her head, her eyes were closed and she’d tipped it back in exasperation. “I’m an idiot, OK Max?” She moved around him to go stand by the fire. “I shouldn’t have asked you about Tess and you. I can’t believe how stupid that was, and I wish you would just forget that I ever said anything, OK?” Glancing over at his silent figure, she saw that he was looking at her with an unreadable expression on his face, hands in his pockets. She turned back to the fire and continued quietly. “I’m fine with it. I just don’t want you to be disappointed.”

Liz gazed at the fire unseeing until she felt his hands on her shoulders, turning her around to face him. She stared at the button on his shirt that was directly in her line of sight, trying to hold back the tears that were suddenly threatening to fall, and lost the battle when he took her in his arms and held her gently against his comforting warmth. Sniffing pitifully, Liz wiped her nose and eyes with the back of her hand and felt his lips touch her hair before he led her back to the couch.

Max looked down at her somewhat dejected figure and shook his head in amazement. A little while ago, she was crawling all over him, confidently convincing him that he didn’t have to doubt her feelings, and now she sat on the couch like a little girl, worrying about pleasing him. She was such a contradition sometimes and it facinated him endlessly to see her changing moods. Max knew he’d never get tired of discovering all the facets of her personality. He just hoped he could convince her the way she’d done him because she was truly the love of his life, and no one could take her place in his heart.

“Liz, I’m going to tell you something that I’d hoped I’d never have to discuss, and when I’m finished, I want you to promise me that you’ll never worry about this again, OK?” Max continued to look at her until she nodded almost imperceptably. Sighing, he turned toward the fire and stared at the flames. “ Do you know what I feel when I think about that night?” He stopped for a moment, swallowing against the lump that was suddenly lodged in his throat. “I feel humiliation….I feel guilt…but mostly…..there's just this sick kind of pain.” Max sat down by the fire and leaned his chin on his hands resting on his bent knees. He could feel her eyes on him, but he didn’t look at her, knowing that he wouldn’t be able to get this out if he had to face her. “I was so angry at you for leaving me, and so hurt by Isabel’s refusal to see my point about her staying near by that I couldn’t see straight. I know now that some of those feelings were caused by Tess’s mind warp, but at the time, they seemed completely reasonable to me. It was then that I realized that I’d been hiding from myself and refusing to acknowledge the truth.”

Max closed his eyes for a moment, the opened them to continue his contemplation of the fire. “I was an alien. I didn’t belong here. I’d been trying my whole life to be human, and now my denial may have caused my friend to die.” He paused again, then said quietly, “ And the people I thought I could count on the most, hated me.” Max finally lifted his head to glance in her direction. Liz was sitting quietly, feet once again tucked under her as she gazed solomly at his desolate figure. Max’s lips turned up at the corner slightly as he acknowledged her expression, then he turned away again. “When Tess finally showed up, I was ready to latch on to anything that would make me feel better. I realize now that that’s exactly what she was hoping for. She said that she would be with me forever, and I was so screwed up that I actually believed that would be enough.”

Max got to his feet and stood tensely, hands in his pockets as he gazed at the floor. “She kept telling me she loved me the whole time, and I couldn’t say anything. It wasn’t romantic or satisfying or anything that you’d want for your first time. It was just a release. A chance to get out of my head and forget my own stupid life for a while. I might as well have been with a complete stranger because I never felt so alone in my life.”

He paused again for a moment, then shook himself out of his morbid thoughts and turned to face a tearful Liz. “As far as the other part goes, I won’t lie to you and say that it didn’t feel good, or wasn’t unusual or exciting, because it was.” He walked slowly toward the couch and sat down next to her. “But there is no one on this or any other planet that could make me want to repeat that experience.” Max took Liz’s hands in his own and looked into her eyes. “Just sitting in the same room with you and feeling the way my stomach rumbles, or hearing your voice on the phone, is a thousand times better.” Liz smiled at his words and looked at him doubtfully. “I mean it, Liz.” Max leaned forward, speaking softly as he made his point. “I want to make love to you.” Liz’s lips parted in surprise at his words but no sound came out. “But if you told me right now that all we could ever do was be together without that, then I would be content. Because just being with you and knowing that you love me is all I’ll ever need to be happy. And if you’ll let me,” Max paused to take a deep breath as he knelt in front of her and reached into his pocket, “I’ll spend the rest of my life proving it to you.” Liz gasped and brought her hands to her mouth as he took a small, velvet box from his pocket. “I know you’ve already answered this question in two lifetimes but…” Max placed a soft kiss in the middle of her palm, put the now open box in her trembling hand. “Liz Parker, will you marry me?”

The Conversation Part 9 Warning: NC-17

“Liz?” Max looked at her anxiously as she stared at the box in her hand. His stomach fluttered nervously as he realized that this might have been a bad idea. He’d wanted to surprise her, let her know that he was totally committed before they made love. Now, he wasn’t so sure. Maybe she wasn’t ready to make this step. Maybe their casual references to getting married where just that, casual.

“Liz, I’m not asking you to set a date or anything, because I know that we’re really young. And I know I can’t make many promises right now, because my life is …well my life,” he said with a painful grimace. Looking down at his hands, he swallowed. “ I can’t promise that I won’t make mistakes because we’ve both seen my track record, but I do promise that I’ll trust you and our love, and I’ll never intentionally hurt you again.” Max continued looking down as he felt her eyes on him. “ I can’t promise that I’ll never leave because, as weird as it is…I’m the leader of a distant planet, and I may have to go there one day, to try and fix this mess we’re in.” He finally looked up to find her staring at him, dark eyes luminous with tears. He reached out to push a strand of errant hair out of her face and his hand slipped through the tresses lightly as though unable to help itself. “But I do promise that I’ll always come back because every day without seeing your face, or touching your skin,” his thumb ran lightly over her bottom lip, “ or feeling your lips on mine, is torture,” he whispered. The tear slipped silently down her face as he continued his list of disadvantages. “I can’t even promise that you’ll always be my number one priority because,” Max paused, then his lips curved ruefully, “see reasons a and b.” Liz smiled tremulously back at him. “What I do promise is that, for what it’s worth, I’m yours….mind, body and soul, and that I’ll love you until the day I die… and beyond."

Liz stared at him as he finished his beautiful words, rendered completely speechless by his gesture. A few months ago, she thought that she would spend the rest of her life alone, all of her dreams for a life with the man she loved shattered by events of their own making. Now, she sat and watched as all of them were being handed back to her, and she was a little overwhelmed. She was brought out of her reverie by the look of doubt that was creeping into his expression. "Liz…Um…if your not ready, I…" His words were stopped by her lips on his mouth. "Yes, Max" she said softly, the answer a sweet caress to his parted lips. Max drew back, and searched her face, and she said it again, smiling at the look of relieved happiness that washed over his features.

Taking the box from her, Max removed the ring from it's velvet bed, and lifting her hand, he slid it onto her slim finger, not surprised when it appeared to be too big. He hadn't known anything about picking ring sizes while he was shopping. Wrapping his thumb and forefinger around the band, he concentrated a moment, and when he removed them, the ring fit precisely to her finger. Bringing it to his mouth, he kissed it softly, the loving gesture causing her throat to ache with renewed tears. "I know you can't really wear this all the time right now. But will you where it tonight? Just for us?" At her nod, he pulled her into his embrace, burying his face in her neck. "I love you." Liz smiled through her tears, and pulled back to look into his captivating eyes. "I love you, too. So much."

Max leaned forward again to kiss her, bringing his hands to her face, threading his fingers under her hair. Touching his lips to hers, he begged entrance to her mouth, and Liz eagerly gave it. The feel of his tongue tangling with hers, caused a tingling ache in her body, and she opened her mouth wider to give him better access, sliding forward to the edge of the couch to encircle his neck with her arms. Max groaned low in his throat at her willingness, and he slid between her open legs to wrap his arms tightly around her narrow waist, pulling her flush against his own body. They both knew the time for talking was over.

They stayed that way for a while, neither one willing to stop tasting the other long enough to go any further. Suddenly, Liz felt Max's fingers searching the back of her dress for the zipper, and she stopped her exploration of the back of his throat to let out a small laugh, barely having enough breath for it. Max looked at her in dazed confusion, before asking, "What?" in a breathless voice. Liz smiled and lifted her arm, showing him the side zipper on the dress, and he grinned. "So much for smooth moves." His smile faded, as he looked at her intently, the question clearly written in his features. Liz took the decision out of his hands, reaching herself to slide the zipper down.

Max' s heartbeat doubled at her the sensual look on her face, and he wrapped his arms around her once again, this time lifting her from the couch to lie on the thick carpet. Sitting back for a moment, he looked at her laying there, dark hair fanned around her head like a halo, eyes sparkling in anticipation, waiting for him. Max forced himself to take a deep breath, the primitive urge to just take her, battling with the side that knew he had to take this slowly. She deserved to be treasured and cherished, not just treated as a thing for a teenage boy to ease his lust on. Suddenly realizing that the carpet, although thick, was not exactly soft to the touch, Max waived his hand over the surface, and Liz suddenly found herself lying on something that felt like silk. Max's lips curved upward at her look of surprised delight, and as she rolled slightly to run her hand over the surface, he took the opportunity to remove his shoes and socks before kneeling over her. Never taking his eyes off hers, he placed his hands on her right leg, the feel of nylon rough compared to her skin. He slid his hands under her dress and briefly caressed the bare skin of her inner thigh before sliding the stocking down her leg. The sound of her indrawn breath spurred him on, and he quickly did the same to the other one.

Still tingling from the feel of his hand so near the place that ached for him, Liz sat up and met his kiss half way, her fingers deftly undoing the buttons of his shirt. Stopping the kiss only long enough to help her pull it from his pants and toss it aside, Max bore her back down on the floor, his larger body covering her petite one from shoulder to hip. He kissed her lips briefly moving to place soft exploratory kisses on her neck. Liz arched to accommodate his wandering lips, and did some exploring of her own, her hands running over the smooth, wide extent of his shoulders and back. She loved touching his bare skin. He was so hard compared to her own softness and the feel of the muscles as they moved under his skin caused her to feel a rather primitive satisfaction. He was unutterably male to her female, and her own femininity seemed heightened by his maleness. She wanted to feel all of him.

Max was completely absorbed by the smell and taste of her skin. He kissed and licked his way to her collarbone, then slid the strap of her loosened dress down to move across her shoulder. His hands caressed the bare skin over her ribs revealed by the open dress, and he moved his lips to the skin above her neckline. Propping himself up on an elbow, he looked down into her flushed features then leaned down to kiss her again as the hand inside her dress slid up to cover her breast. Liz heart stopped momentarily before, starting again more rapidly. His hand gently explored the contour of her flesh, covering its roundness before his thumb brushed over her nipple. At the sound of another indrawn breath, he did it again, loving the sound and feel of her pleasure as it hardened under his ministrations.

The dress was definitely becoming a hindrance. Liz pushed lightly on his chest, and he stopped kissing her to look down questioningly. She sat up bringing him with her, and slipping her arms out from beneath the straps, looked at him for a moment before dropping her eyes to look at him through her lashes and slowly lowering the dress to her waist. Max stared at her in awe; the innocent beauty of her expression capturing him before he lowered his eyes to her body now bared for him. As he gazed at the lovely sight, he fought to keep himself from groaning out loud as his already awakened flesh, hardened to fullness. Finally lifting his eyes to find her still staring shyly at the hands clutching her dress, he came to his knees and bore her down to the carpet once more. Removing her hands, he pulled the dress down to her hips and she automatically lifted them so he could slide it all the way off.

As she lay on the floor, now bare except for her panties, she brought her arms up to cover her breasts, unable to lay there naked under his intense look. Max came down next to her, covering one of the hands lying on her chest with his own as he propped himself up on the other elbow. He looked at her flushed face and leaned down to kiss her lightly. "Don't Liz. You're so beautiful. Please…"
He began to kiss her again, taking his time trying to get her to relax, and she finally loosened her arms and placed them around his neck. He slowly kissed his way down her neck, his hand coming to rest once again on her breast. He gently shaped its contours, loving the feel of its softness to his palm. Liz had her eyes closed and arched slightly with a small moan when he ran his thumb over her nipple. Wanting more of that reaction, Max allowed his lips to drift further down, finally coming to a halt at the valley between her breasts. Staring at the pale mound and pointed nipple as it nestled in his palm, he bent forward and kissed it, smiling slightly at her gasp of pleasure. Emboldened by her reaction, he lavished attention on the upturned peak, then he turned to the other one to do the same thing, his own excitement escalated by her obvious response.

Liz arched her back, the feel of Max’s lips and hands on her sensitive skin causing a newly awakened response from her lower body. Her hips began to move, seeking relief from the ache, and when she came in direct contact to his own desire now pressed against her hip, her body instinctively responded to the pressure, angling toward that which it knew could provide relief. Liz’s hands, which had been clutching his shoulders, moved to between their straining bodies, and she felt her own satisfaction at the sound he made when she touched his hardened flesh. Exploring tentatively, Liz suddenly had the need to see and feel him as he was doing her. “Max,” she said breathlessly. “Max….your pants….” Liz reached for his belt and began to undo the clasp.

"What….Yeah…" Max finally realized what she’d been trying to do, his own mind and body having been occupied with the taste and feel of hers. Sitting up quickly, he removed the last of his clothing and pulled his wallet out of his back pocket, extracting a package, which he placed nearby. Liz had been watching him from beneath partially closed lids, and as he lay back down beside her, it was her turn to lean over him. Kissing his tempting lips, she moved her hands over his naked skin, unable to get enough of touching his hard body, now bared to her for the first time. As her hands moved lower, she looked into his glittering eyes, and smiled when he closed them as she finally reached between his legs. Looking back and forth between his tense features and her hand, she explored the contours and ridges, wrapping her fingers around him to squeeze lightly, fascinated by his response as he groaned and his flesh throbbed under her palm.

“Oh,” Liz gasped in surprise when he suddenly flipped her over onto her back. Max buried his head in her neck for a moment breathing hard, then looked down at her, as he slipped his hand between her thighs. Laying his fingers against her warmth, he watched as she stiffened momentarily, then relaxed and opened her legs just a bit. He pressed lightly, then more firmly as he felt and saw her response, and leaned over to kiss her open mouth as he finally slid his fingers beneath the band of her panties to touch her. Liz moaned and brought her legs together, arching as he caressed her.

Removing his hand, Max hooked a finger into the waistband, and Liz lifted her hips to help him remove the last barrier of clothing between them. Continuing to kiss her, his tongue moving deeply into her mouth, Max moved his hand between her legs again, this time slipping a delicate finger inside. He let out a harsh breath at the wetness he found and began to move his finger in rhythm to her undulating hips. Circling but not touching the center of her pleasure, he kissed his way down her neck to tease her nipples, trying desperately to hold on to his control. He wanted to make this good for her.

Liz was in the throes of some unknown force. The tension in her body was spiraling upward and she went back and forth between wanting it to end and not wanting it to stop. She whimpered against his shoulder and her hips lifted against his hand, seeking something ….she wasn’t sure what. The delicate circling inside her and the feel of his tongue on her nipples suddenly wasn’t enough. “Max,” she breathed out arching towards him. Max, sensing what she needed, suddenly enclosed the peak he’d been teasing into his mouth, sucking hard while finally touching the focal point of her desire. Liz moaned in surprise as the pressure increased twofold, and the tempo of her hips against his fingers became frantic as she blindly sought the satisfaction she knew was waiting for her. Feeling the increased wetness, Max dipped his fingers into her passage, then slicked them over the pulsating bud at her center. Breathing erratically in rhythm with her, he fought back his own urges, as the erotic sounds she was making caused his arousal to jerk in response. Suddenly she stiffened against him, hips arched. He felt teeth sink into his shoulder as her thighs trembled and her muscles rippled around his teasing fingers. Max smiled in grim satisfaction as her climax overwhelmed her, her breath coming out in sobbing pants, and his own unsatisfied body throbbed in sync with her spasms. Trembling in the aftermath, Liz felt his mouth on her hair, her closed eyes, and finally, her mouth, the loving touch of his lips somehow soothing and provocative at the same time.
Max kissed her lightly again, as he finally removed his hand, her thighs now relaxing their death-grip on his fingers.

Reaching behind him, Max ripped open the package he'd brought and prepared himself, then turned and covered Liz's smaller body with his own unable to wait another moment. He stared down into her dazed eyes, silently asking permission. Liz reached up to kiss him, opening her legs to him in invitation, and Max kissed her back, his tongue penetrating her mouth as he penetrated her body. He moved in slightly before retreating, repeating the action to allow her to get used to the invasion of his hard flesh into her softness. He slid in deeper each time, gritting his teeth against the urge to plunge forward and take what he wanted. "Liz," he said breathing harshly, looking down at her. " Is this OK….Are you OK?" Liz nodded, moving experimentally against him, trying to ease the tension in her legs.

Finally allowing himself to slide in deeper, Max felt the stiffening of her body as he reached her barrier. Stopping for a moment, he gazed down at her, and said in a pained whisper," Liz, I….it's going to hurt." She looked up at his beloved face, and answered, her own voice hushed and breathless "I know, Max. It's OK. I want you to." Liz pulled his head down for a deep kiss, willing him to take the final step and Max held his breath, his hips plunging forward to fully sheath himself in her body. He immediately stopped, breathing harshly, letting her adjust to the new feeling, but Max was sure that he'd died and gone to heaven at the feeling of her tightness squeezing his swollen flesh.

Liz bit her lip to keep from crying out at the pain, but she couldn't stop the tears that trailed from beneath her closed lashes. She could tell that it was costing Max a great deal of control to hold still, the stiffness of his muscles transferring to hers. Liz felt his thumb wiping a tear from her cheek, and she opened her eyes to see him looking down at her regretfully, even as his jaw twitched with tension. "I'm sorry, Liz." She shook her head and tightened her arms around him briefly. "It's OK. Just…..Just let me get used to it." She consciously made an effort to relax her thighs from their grip on his hips, and Max shifted slightly, just a short back and forth movement, his eyes watching for signs of more discomfort. Liz breathed a sigh of relief that the pain had receded some, and shifted herself, trying to ease the ache even more. Max's in-drawn breath alerted her to the fact that he was controlling himself only for her sake, and she moved her hips again, this time eliciting a groan. "It's OK, Max. You can move…" Her words were cut off as he began to do just that, slowly at first, still aware of the tightness in her muscles.

The pain having calmed to a tolerable level, Liz tried to concentrate on the feel of him moving within her, and the touch of his hand on her breast. She could still sense the control he was exerting, and she suddenly realized that he was trying to wait for her. Lifting her head from where she’d been kissing his shoulder, Liz looked at his tight face, the sheen of perspiration a testament to his efforts. “Max, you don’t have to wait. I want you to let go.” Reaching around to pull his head down for her kiss, she whispered against his lips, “Come for me, Max.”

He looked down for a split second, then dropped his head to her shoulder, a harsh sound escaping his throat. His control shattered by her words, he quickly wrapped her leg around his waist and thrust forward. Liz held on to his shoulders as he gave in to his need, and closing her eyes, she was suddenly assaulted with flashes. With all of his barriers down, Max’s thoughts and emotions overwhelmed her as he rapidly moved toward completion. There were some of the usual visions of their time together, but Liz soon realized that they were interspersed with his fantasies of her. Split second scenes of the two of them tangled together in passion. Liz pinned to the wall in the eraser room, legs wrapped around his waist. The two of them in his bed, her head thrown back in ecstasy while she straddled him. Making love on the counter in the Crash Down, still in her uniform. There were other visions of places she didn’t recognize, but they flew by too rapidly for her to completely comprehend. . The feelings he was projecting were just as tantalizing, his lust for her body, and his pleasure in the feel of her untried passage as it stroked him, communicating itself to her in no uncertain terms.

“Liz …I can’t…I have to…” Complete sentences beyond his capabilities, Max slid a hand under her to lift her hips tightly against him. Panting hoarsely, he finally let go, driving deep and hard into the depths of her. Liz, who’d been swept away by the flashes and the feelings they provoked, felt her muscles fluttering around his pulsating flesh in response to the sound of that harsh breath and the feel of him coming inside her. She moaned as the wave overcame her, slight compared to before, but surprising because she hadn’t thought it would happen again like this. The languor of afterglow began to take over her body, and she smiled as she realized that if it felt like this now, it could only get better once they'd had some practice.

Max lay against her breathing heavily, small tremors still racking his frame from his release. Trying to catch his breath, and feeling the incredible softness of the girl beneath him, he became aware of her fingers gently playing with the hair on his neck, and a curious languor now stealing through his body. He looked down to find Liz with eyes closed, a contented smile gracing her perfect lips, and he wished he could just lay his head down and go to sleep just like this, wrapped in the arms of the woman he loved, safe from the world. Knowing he couldn’t do that, and realizing that she could probably barely breath, Max gently pushed a silky hair from her cheek and kissed her lips. Liz opened sleepy darks eyes to find him staring down at her with such a loving look that she felt tears prick her eyes. “You OK?” he asked, combing his fingers through her hair. Liz nodded, smiling at him in reassurance.

“I’d better….” Max reluctantly moved, slipping his hand between them to carefully help remove himself from her body. Rolling onto his back, he realized there was nowhere to discard the condom, so he concentrated for a moment, and it disintegrated into dust. Sometimes being an alien had its advantages. He got up briefly to grab the blanket off the back of the couch, then lay down once more beside Liz, spooning her against him and pulling the blanket over them. Pressing a soft kiss on her neck, he sighed and relaxed, unbelievably happy to be holding this incredible treasure in his arms, and so grateful knowing she felt the same about him, even after everything. Liz snuggled against him, completely safe in his strong embrace, totally at peace. Words were unnecessary as the contented silence cloaked them in a shared embrace.

The Conversation - Conclusion

“I didn’t hate you.” Liz and Max were lying in front of the fire, still spooned in the same position they’d been in since they’d made love. Speaking quietly on and off, they’d been silent for a while, and Liz had started thinking about their conversation.

“What?” Max said a little sleepily, not sure he’d heard her correctly.

“What you said before about how you felt on that night; about how the people you counted on hated you. I didn’t hate you.” Liz could feel his lips against her shoulder as she spoke. “I felt a lot of things, but hate wasn’t one of them. I knew something was wrong, but I was too distracted by Alex's death to do anything about it. I guess I get a little single-minded when I’m upset.” There was a choking sound behind her, and she slapped the hand that rested on her stomach. “Jerk.” Her smile faded as she finished. “I never hated you, Max.

Max buried his head in her neck for a moment, kissing it in gratitude. “Thank you for saying that. I wouldn’t have blamed you if you had. I was being such an asshole, I’m surprised either you or Isabel even decided to speak to me again, much less this. When I think about it now, it’s so unreal. Like it happened to someone else.” He sighed, his breath tickling the little hairs on her neck. “I’m so grateful that you found out about Tess before we left. I just hope you never have a reason like that to be single-minded again.”

Kissing her neck again, Max rolled onto his back, and Liz turned over so she was resting on his chest. Their hands were entwined, and she looked at the ring on her finger, still overwhelmed by his surprise proposal. Realizing that she hadn’t really said anything about it, Liz grinned to herself thinking about what had distracted her. Propping her chin on her hands, she looked up at Max, and feeling her eyes on him, Max opened his. The corner of his mouth curved slightly as he looked back at her.

“I love my ring, Max.” It was beautiful, with a single diamond in the middle surrounded by smaller ones, reminding her of a flower. “How did you afford it?”

“Didn’t your mother ever tell you not to ask questions like that?” Max’s lips twitched when she pinched him, and he answered her question. “Brody gave me a loan. Interest free and I can make whatever payments I can afford. It’s why I’ve been working so much extra lately.” He looked at the ring and brought her hand up to kiss it. “It reminded me of you. Beautiful and delicate.” Liz smiled mistily at him as he kissed her hand again.

Propping himself up on one elbow to see her better, he said, “Liz, I meant what I said. I know that things are really uncertain right now, but…” He was cut off by a finger on his lips.

Liz crawled up his body until he lay back down and she could look him in the eye. “Max, I don’t need promises.” She leaned down to give him a heartfelt kiss. “ I just need you. Besides, I can’t exactly make a lot of promises to you, either.” She looked at him solemnly as she echoed the words of his proposal. “I can’t promise that I won’t make mistakes, because I’m human, but I do promise that I’ll try to learn from them and that making up will be really fun.” She felt a laugh rumble in his chest, and she leaned down to place small kisses on his eyelids and cheeks, loving that she had the freedom to touch him like this.

Propping herself up again, Liz looked down, her eyes tracing his beautiful face as she continued. “And I can’t promise that I won’t cry and be a mess when you have to leave.” She smiled sadly as he looked up at her regretfully. “But I do promise that I’ll be here waiting, no matter how long it takes.” Laying her head down on his broad chest, she ran her fingers lightly over the ridges in his abdomen, smiling at the in-drawn breath it caused. “And I can’t promise that you’ll always be my first priority, because….well we talked about that single-minded thing.” Max grabbed her hand as she started to tickle him, and she giggled and looked up at him again, her smile changing to one of loving sincerity, “But what I can promise is that I’m yours…mind, body, and soul….And that I’ll love you to distraction until the day I die…and beyond.” Liz felt tears prick her eyes at the look on his face, but she swallowed them back as she leaned up to kiss him. Max’s hand came up to tangle in her hair as he returned it, his own kiss portraying all the gratitude and love in his heart for this girl who had saved him from a life of misery.

Liz lay back down on his chest, feeling content. A little while later however, she became uncomfortably aware that she really had to go to the bathroom. Pulling away from Max’s arms, she sat up bringing the blanket with her. “I, um… I have to go to the uh…..” Looking down at him, she gestured toward the hallway. Max nodded. “Yeah, me too. Why don’t you go first?”

“OK.” Liz bit her lip uncertainly as she tried to decide how to do this gracefully. She didn’t think she had what it took to stroll casually around the room naked in front of her lover just yet, but she didn’t want to just take the blanket and leave him here uncovered either. Spying her dress, she reached for it and pulled it over her head, shimmying to bring it down over her hips before getting up from the floor. She winced at the soreness between her legs. Glancing down at Max, she saw him watching her movements with an amused look on his face, having missed her grimace of pain, and Liz stuck her tongue out at him before heading toward the bathroom.

Going to the bathroom only made the pain worse, and she frowned as she cleaned herself up, wondering how long it would last. Stepping over to the sink to wash her hands, Liz looked at her reflection in the mirror and stopped mid-wash to stare. The girl in the mirror didn’t look anything like her. That couldn’t be her tousled dark hair or her red, slightly swollen lips, or her flushed skin. As Liz continued to stare, she felt unbidden tears come to her eyes. She was suddenly overwhelmed by everything that had happened to her in the last few hours, culminating in the loss of her virginity. She covered her mouth to keep from being overheard, and grabbed several tissues to blow her nose. Wiping her eyes carefully, she realized that it wasn’t sadness, just a slight sense of loss, like she was saying goodbye to her childhood as she made this final step toward being a woman. She quickly fixed her face, making sure no traces of tears showed and took a deep breath before she went back into the living room. Liz didn’t want Max to think she was upset, because she didn’t regret making love to him for one minute. She ran a quick hand through her hair, and left.

When she stepped into the living room, she saw that Max had put his pants on and was standing in front of the fireplace as he finished settling another log on the fire. He turned when he heard her, and kissed her lightly on the lips as he made his way to the bathroom. Liz changed the CD, and went to fill their glasses with more juice before grabbing some pillows to put on the floor. She slipped out of her dress and pulled up the blanket, waiting for Max to come back so they could cuddle some more before they had to leave. She wasn’t ready for this night to end just yet. As she drank from her glass, she sang lightly along with the CD and smiled when she heard Max approach. Grabbing his glass, she turned and started to offer it to him, but stopped when she saw him head toward the couch without looking at her, an upset look on his face.

“Max, what is it?” Liz watched as he sat heavily on the couch and stared at his hands.

“You were crying in the bathroom.”

Liz felt her stomach drop. "How did you…"

"I had a flash while I was washing my hands." Max finally looked at her, his eyes filled with confusion and something close to fear. "Did….did something happen when….you know…you went in there? He continued to stare at her in trepidation as she quickly crawled to kneel in front of him, dragging the blanket with her.

"Max," Liz laid her hands over his tightly clenched ones. "Nothing bad happened. Everything was perfectly normal.” Max sighed with relief, but continued to look at her in confusion. "Then what is it?" He stared down at her beautiful features his hands unconsciously coming to caress the skin of her bare shoulders. He knew she didn't regret what they did because he'd seen and felt her joy and contentment. Liz closed her eyes at his touch, trying to get her thoughts in order.

"I saw myself in the mirror, and… I just…didn't look like me, you know." She opened her eyes to see him staring at her patiently and tried to explain. "I was kind of nervous about tonight because of….everything, and….then you proposed,….and then we….and I was just overwhelmed all of the sudden. Like everything just kind of came over me when I saw myself. I'm not a little girl anymore." Liz smiled self-consciously. " I know its silly.." She stopped as Max shook his head. "It's not silly. It's just…you."

Liz stared into his eyes, losing herself for a moment. God, there should be a law against someone having this effect. In the firelight, his amber eyes were almost translucent, and she could feel herself drowning as he looked at her. She took his hand and pulled his toward the floor. "Come lay down with me." Max quickly shed his pants and complied, pulling her against his chest as he lay behind her.

Liz felt his lips drift across her shoulder blades and shivered, marveling that even the skin on her back could be so responsive to his lips. "Max," He shifted a little at the sound of her voice. "Hmmm", he breathed, kissing her neck. "Max, did you have any flashes while we were making love?" His lips moved down the column of her neck to her shoulder. "Yeah." He seemed to be barely listening to her as he nibbled on her shoulder then licked where he'd nibbled. Liz closed her eyes in pleasure and asked a little breathlessly, "What was that blue stuff?"

She felt him tense slightly, and his lips stopped moving. "Blue stuff?"

"Yeah, you know, that blue gooey stuff we were in."

Liz turned to look at him directly and was surprised to find him avoiding her eyes. She could actually see the blush on his cheeks, even in this light. "Um….it was water." At her upraised eyebrows, he explained. "On my planet, apparently water is thick….kind of like Jell-O." He looked at her through his lashes.

"J-Jell-O?" Liz lay flat on her back, and covered her mouth with her hand as her shoulders started to shake. Oh, God he'd been fantasizing about them doing it in Jell-O. Her giggles finally burst forth, and Max had to smile at the sound of her laughter, only slightly embarrassed, however, his smile faded as he looked down. Liz finally opened her eyes, and noticing his expression, followed his gaze to see him staring rather fixedly at her bare breasts.

During her laughing fit, she'd lost hold of the blanket, and it was now down around her waist. Liz fought the urge to cover herself, feeling a little unnerved at the intensity of his gaze. Apparently the sight of bare, jiggling breasts affects all males the same, no matter what planet their from. Max finally looked up and before Liz could react, he closed his mouth over hers in a hot kiss, while sliding his leg between hers, the affect of her beauty on his anatomy obvious. Liz returned the kiss wholeheartedly, opening her mouth to his questing tongue, and gripping his shoulders tightly. When he shifted closer, however, the feel of him pressing between her aching thighs caused her to moan and pull away. Max looked down at her, eyes slightly glazed and asked, "What's wrong?" Liz shifted against him trying to ease the ache, and he immediately moved when she grimaced. Looking up at him apology, she said, "I'm sorry, Max. I'm just really sore." A little embarrassed, she closed her eyes, and felt the sting of tears.

"Oh God, Liz. I'm sorry…I didn't even think….I'm so sorry, "he said again as he stared down into her mortified face. Max felt terrible about his thoughtlessness, knowing it was his fault that she was in pain and upset. Looking past his own mortification and wanting to help, he said hesitantly, "Can I…do you want me to fix it?"

Liz opened her eyes to look at him in confusion. "Fix it?"

Max lowered his gaze, and gently laid his hand on her abdomen. "You know….fix it."

"Oh." Liz gazed at him open mouthed for a second, feeling strangely awkward about his request. It just seemed so… intimate, which was really silly because they’d just had sex. How much more intimate could you get. Still…this was just…different somehow. But looking up into his beloved face and seeing the sincere desire to take her pain away, Liz couldn’t say no. Besides….she really wanted to do it again. Lowering her eyes, she said, “OK.”

"Liz, you have to look at me." Liz opened her eyes to find him staring intently at her, and she gazed back as she felt his hand slide lower. A moment later, the pain was gone, and he removed it, still gazing at her with that look that melted her insides. Time stood still for a moment as the passion between them simmered like a tangible force in the room, then Max lowered his head to hers.

Tongues dueled, hands caressed and mouths spread teasing kisses over hot flesh, as they explored, each learning what pleased the other. Liz rolled them over, deciding that she wanted to be in control, and Max happily complied, not one to complain about the love of his life wanting to straddle his hips and have her way with him. When they finally joined, she set the pace, closing her eyes to savor the sensations this new position evoked, loving the feel of his fullness within her. Max looked up at her, and knew that if he lived to be a hundred, he would never see a more glorious sight then Liz, eyes closed in concentration, lips parted, satisfying herself on his body. When she reached her climax, muscles tightening convulsively around his hardness, she felt him jerk inside her as his own pleasure peaked, and they clutched each other tightly, breathing harshly in unison, the curtain of her hair surrounding them in a intimate embrace.

They lay there for a while as their breathing calmed, neither one wanting to give up the connection and oneness their bodies created. Finally, they had to separate, and Liz watched as Max disintegrated the condom. Glancing at her, he couldn’t help but smile a little smugly at his ability, and Liz rolled her eyes then quickly straightened her expression. “Very handy,” she said nodding solemnly.

“No! No, Max.” Liz shrieked as he grabbed her and pushed her back on the floor, looming over her threateningly, his fingers tickling her rib cage. “Please…please stop,” she begged even as she giggled uncontrollably. “I promise,” she huffed as he continued his assault, “that was the best alien trick ever.” Stopping for a moment to look down at her shining face, Max collapsed onto his back as they laughed together. Liz rolled over to lay her head on his chest, still giggling every few seconds and Max’s hands automatically buried themselves in her hair.

After lying there for a few moments to let their breathing settle down, Max finally sat up, pulling her with him. “I hate to say this, but we really need to get going.”

"I know." Liz looked up at him as he stood and rounded up their clothes and he pulled his on. "I just hate to go and face the real world, you know."

Max pulled her to her feet, his unbuttoned shirt forgotten as he wrapped an arm around her narrow waist, and looked deeply into her surprised gaze. Then he moved his free hand to her shoulder, and slowly ran it down her arm, both of them watching as he left a glowing trail on her bare skin. “This is the real world, Liz,” he said, moving his gaze from her arm to her upturned face. “ This is us…together.” And knowing he shouldn’t, but unable to resist her pull, he covered her mouth in a searing kiss. Liz moaned in relief, her eager hands pulling his head down as she opened her mouth and allowed his tongue in to mate with hers. Lifting her petite frame against him for better access, Max felt her soft breasts against his bare chest, and her tongue tangling with his, and he groaned deep in his throat as he felt himself start to harden again. God, at this rate he would never get that ring paid off. All of his extra money was going to be needed for condoms.

Tearing his mouth away, Max closed his eyes, fighting for control, and stepped back. Picking up her dress, he reluctantly handed it to her. “Liz….believe me, the last thing I want to do is watch you put your clothes back on, but…” he took a deep breath and swallowed, not looking directly at her. “We both need to sleep before we have to work tomorrow, and I really need to be in my bed before my parents get up.” He risked a glance at her, then wished he hadn’t when he saw her standing their looking tousled and sexy as hell, watching him through lowered lids. “Liz…please….you’re killing me..” Max knew he was begging, but he didn’t have the willpower to resist if she didn’t stop looking at him as though she wanted to devour him.

“OK.” Liz finally stopped torturing him, and Max didn’t know if he was happy or disappointed that she’d listened to him. Noticing his expression, Liz smiled, promising herself that she would make up for it next time.

She donned her clothes, and helped Max clean up the rest of the house. After making sure that the fire was out and the fireplace returned to it's original state, they made the rounds, blowing out candles and collecting all of the things Max had brought with him to prepare for the evening. Liz watched a little sadly as he turned their silk bed back into the carpet, and Max, seeing her expression said, "Don't worry. I kind of have these special powers, so I can pretty much make that happen any time I want." He leered at her, and Liz laughed at his silliness, happy to see his usual seriousness taking a back seat for a while. He hardly ever let anyone see this side of him, and she loved that he shared it with her.

As Max helped her on with her coat, Liz looked around the room rather wistfully as she made sure everything was as it should be. “Do you think we could come back here sometime? I mean, it’s just such a special place for us now.” Liz looked up at him, as he put his coat on.

Max grabbed her hand as he opened the door. “Count on it, ” he said as he shut it behind them. Telling her to stay put, he ran to the car to put their things away, then came back for her, lifting her easily. As they drove back to Roswell, Liz nodded off, her sated body giving in to the feel of the engine beneath her and lack of sleep. Max welcomed her slight weight nestled against his shoulder, his own body strangely alive and humming with energy. Maybe this was what real happiness felt like. He couldn’t remember a time when he’d felt so at peace. He knew they still had obstacles to face, but they didn’t seem so daunting now. He felt strong and capable, and he knew that it was all due to the beautiful girl sleeping so trustingly by his side. She made him better. She made him complete. She made all the difference. He smiled as he headed toward home.